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We’re Moving – Save the Date (5th January 2012)

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Dear Members,

I have the pleasure of announcing today that from January 5th 2012 we will have a new meeting venue. Over the last couple of years we have been suffering with car parking issues at our current location in Savernake street. This has caused frustration for some members. I can assure you that the committee hasn’t been ignoring the issue and has actively been looking for alternatives. This has proven difficult without compromising other things including cost, day, and location.

We were made aware that a new £2m building was being built in Pinehurst which was due to open in this month. For various reasons the project was delayed and will now open on the last week of December. Den and I took the opportunity to make a site visit a couple of weeks ago to check on progress and we were impressed with the facilities and progress to date. We met with the committee and it was agreed that the club would be far better off in the new building.

The two-storey centre is being built on the site of the former Pine Trees residential home on The Circle and replaces the Pinehurst People’s Centre, which was located on the site where the Swindon Academy now stands.

What other benefits are there I hear you ask. There will be site wide WIFI and computers in the cafe. We have a balcony on which we can set up antennas. Outside, there will be a large car park and community garden, where groups can grow their own flowers and vegetables.

I am really excited about the move and think it will be a perfect start for the club 2012.

The committee and I would like to invite you to the first meeting of 2012 at the new site where we will be providing free drinks and cakes. We will also ensure that a radio is set up and available for use on the evening.

Hope to see you there

James (M1DST)

SDARC featured in newspaper

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Last Thursday we had a visit from Barrie Hudson of the Swindon Evening Advertiser. He has written an article about our hobby and club. It was published on Thursday 1st September and can be found on pages 14 and 15.

It is now available at

A night at club

IN the social hall in Savernake Street, James Patterson and his friends show me the letterbox-sized display occupying a laptop screen.

Known as a waterfall, the display has hundreds and thousands of tiny points of orange and green that march ceaselessly upward against a dark background.

And each of those points of orange and green is another human being or group of human beings in some place that might be anywhere in the world, watching their own computer displays or listening for voices or snatches of Morse Code.

Some are communicating with each other, some with satellites and some, perhaps, with the International Space Station Crew who circumnavigate the planet every 90 minutes or so.

To the layperson, amateur radio might seem to have no place in the modern, internet-driven world of communication, but amateur radio enthusiasts beg to differ.

“Amateur radio is still as much of a challenge as it was when it was first invented,” said James, a 32-year-old IT manager who lives in Shaw and chairs the 40-strong Swindon and District Amateur Radio Club.

“Just because the internet is around, it doesn’t mean that challenge isn’t there anymore. Every frequency band that we use has a different challenge.

“It would be very easy to sit with an X-Box and not do anything at all, but you don’t learn anything from that and you’re not doing anything different.”

“There’s always something else to learn,” said Tony, a lifelong enthusiast who will shortly join a group heading for Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and try to transmit from there to fellow devotees worldwide.

He added: “Amateur radio is about making contacts.

“It’s how to find the right way to communicate with other people.

“It’s the excitement of getting in touch with somebody in another country, all off your own bat.

“It gets more challenging as the years go by. Some people bounce signals off the Moon.”

Although communicating with another country these days can be as easy as picking up a phone or booting up a computer, such things can easily be shut down by an accident, by a natural disaster, by a sinister government or by an act of terrorism.

None of these things can stop amateur radio, so it’s hardly surprising that networks of operators are part of contingency communication plans throughout the world – or that NASA and its astronauts have a programme called Ham Radios in Space.

“I’ve been involved for 57 years,” he said.

“And even at my age now, I still feel the sense of amazement at the fact that I can have a little piece of equipment sitting on a bench and contact the world.

“It can be very basic or it can be very complex.”

Becoming involved with the hobby has never been cheaper or more expensive, depending on how much a person is willing to spend.

A basic hand-held radio can cost as little as £50, while larger models with more power and features can cost from £500 to £8,000 or more. There are computer programmes to aid operators in finding, classifying and monitoring signals and a host of other high-tech gadgets that have only become available fairly recently.

It’s still possible, though, for a technically adept person to build their own equipment using readily-available plans and components.

Licensing for amateur radio is still necessary, and is a three-stage process with exams. Passing the first qualifies a person as an operator. Morse Code is no longer demanded, but it’s a skill many operators choose to learn.

And the future of the hobby? James and wife Samantha, herself a licensed operator, have a daughter, Amelia, who is nearly three.

“She already likes listening to Daddy’s radio,” said James with a proud smile.

Swindon and District Amateur Radio Club, whose website is, meets every Thursday at 7pm.

Thank you to Barrie and all members who participated.

MS0INT – Isle of Rockall

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A team of four highly experienced IOTA activators have plans to operate from the extremely rare and dangerous Isle of Rockall, EU-189.

Accompanied by an expert climber, they aim to land and stay a top Rockall for maximum 48 hours, in what will be considered one of the most ambitious island activations the ham radio world has seen.

The four operators are George EA2TA, Christian EA3NT, Simon IZ7ATN and Col MM0NDX – all part of the larger MS0INT IOTA adventure group which has previously been on air from EU-059, EU-111 and EU-118. Completing the team is Nick Hancock, a climber with considerable experience in inhospitable places, thus increasing the chances of activating the islet.

Due to the fact Rockall is the most isolated speck of rock surrounded by water on the surface of the Earth, weather and seas dictate this entire expedition. The team are very aware near perfect landing conditions are required, and the skipper of their yacht has final say.

With research and historical data, we believe the end of May / beginning June 2012 is a viable time period to put Rockall on the air.

Each member will pay their own flights,additional travel costs,food, equipment and charter boat expenses.

To help offset some of this expense, the team seek generous donations from within the IOTA community, DX organisations and like-minded individual operators who all appreciate the scale involved in this difficult activation.

All donors form part of this exciting project and will be listed on our website which is currently under construction. Significant contributors will be added to our QSL card. To donate, you can use paypal: [email protected]

Thank you!

MS0INT – Rockall 2012 Team

Silent Key – M0XUK

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It is with regret we announce the passing of our friend David Parker known as M0XUK. Dave suffered a heart attack last Thursday and had his funeral in Oxford yesterday. A card was circulated last night for club members to sign which will be passed to his family.

David had been an active member of the club in the past and even the web host for several years. He enjoyed contesting and construction and more recently moved into astronomy.

Sorry for the website down time

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During most of Saturday the club website was suffering major issues caused by a PHP upgrade. I have had to spend most of the day getting things back on track. I hope I am almost complete now. If you find anything which doesn’t work or that I’ve forgotten, please email me.



EGM – Update

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The EGM was held last evening and the new constitution was passed unanimously.

It was amended from that of 2006 to bring it more into line with the RSGB Model Constitution for Clubs, was discussed and agreed unanimously by the 20 current members present at an EGM on 17th February 2011. (Total 2010-2011 membership=33)

The constitution can be found here.