Simple Satellite Operating by Tim Kirby, G4VXE

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UPDATE: Tim kindly provided his slides from the talk. You can download them here.

This Thursday, 8th June, we welcome Tim Kirby, G4VXE to our club night at Pine Trees.

Have you ever thought about working through one of the many satellites which orbit our planet? There are a plethora of satellites which offer the radio amateur an opportunity to use their radios to join in with this fascinating part of our hobby. Some act as repeaters in the sky, allowing contacts far and wide on modes such as FM and SSB. Some carry digital data, SSTV and telemetry, while others may send experimental or other data which can be received by amateurs. There is also of course, the ISS, with its worldwide schools’ contacts and its voice repeater on 2m FM and you never know, there may be the chance to speak to one of the astronauts on board!

Anyone who has searched the web for a simple ‘This is what to do’ Internet site will doubtless have encountered lots of partial, out of date and misinformation on how to make successful contacts via the ‘birds’.

Tim, with his talk on Simple Satellite Operating, will show how it can be done with simple equipment which most amateurs already own.

Tim will also, weather and satellite passes permitting, attempt to work through a satellite or two during the evening.

So please join us from 7pm on Thursday 8th June at Pine Trees Community Centre to meet Tim and see his talk on satellite operating.

Thursday 1st June and the Magic Band was ‘Magic’ at Pine Trees!

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A quick E-mail from Phil, M0PBZ on Thursday 1st June re setting up a station for the club activity evening prompted Jonathan, M0ZGB, to suggest dusting off his seldom used Homebrew 6m antenna and giving the ‘Magic Band’ a try.

On arrival at the club, the antenna, a 6m HB9CV of DK7ZB design, was setup on the Pine Trees balcony and the club’s TS-590s connected to it via a length of low loss Heliax coax. The switch on and tune into the calling area of the SSB portion of the band revealed a number of strong signals emanating from central & eastern Europe.

Taking the Microphone first, Jonathan began to call one of the stations, OE3DIA in Austria. After a couple of attempts, Ivan answered our G8SRC call and we were given the locator of JN88HL and a 59 report. Aided by Dom, 2E0WHQ, another 7 stations were worked before Vivian, M0IEP took up the microphone whilst Jonathan went for a coffee.

Our resident CW fan, Phil – M0PBZ arrived shortly after but had been unable to find his paddle key at home. However, remembering there was a Junkers straight key in the cupboard, Phil quickly grabbed the key, connected up and hammered away to make three CW contacts with HA3HX, HG2DX and IV3SKB.
Back on SSB and a few CQ calls were put out, bringing in another two contacts before Vivian took to the microphone again to work IS0BSR/P in Sardinia.

An added bonus was Matthew, 2E0WLF flying his impressive drone from the balcony and providing some excellent footage of the amateur radio proceedings going on below on the 6m band.

By 20:15 UTC, the signals were beginning to fade and the band was closing down so the decision was made to switch off and pack away.

So, how did we do in the end?

Well, quite nicely thank you! We made 15 QSOs on SSB and 3 on CW, working into Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Sardinia. Several stations commented on us giving a very strong signal, which is always nice to hear.

A very enjoyable evening and great to get the club call on the air during one of our club evenings.


Mills on the Air 2017 – Wilton Windmill

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SK Sale 4 May – Update

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The Sale to Members of SK Items – scheduled as part of the regular Members Equipment Sale on Thursday coming, 4th May – has created quite a bit of pre-Sale interest!  This is particularly true of the “Major Items” listed on Pages 1 & 2 of the list you will have seen.

Our aim is to make the SK Sale as fair as possible to all Members and we have therefore refused to enter into pre-Sale reservations or to sell items ahead of the sale.

In addition, to enable members who live further away to get to Pinetrees without finding half the equipment already sold before they arrive, we are modifying the “First Come, First Served” mantra by delaying the sale of the “Major Items” on the SK List until 8pm.

During the past few days, we have also received emails that show that several Members are likely to be interested in some of the same “Major Items” !

We have spent some time considering how best to organise that situation in a way that is fair and have decided:

  1. Members first.    SK Items will be available to Members before being offered to Visitors.
  2. In the period to 8pm on Thursday evening, none of the “Major” SK items will be sold, but Members can register interest in items on that part of the List.
  3. At 8 pm we will review the list and immediately sell to those who registered their interest, all “Major Items” that are not the subject of interest from multiple Members.
  4. We will then discuss with those members about how to proceed.

Here’s hoping everyone has an enjoyable and profitable evening whether buying or selling.

Members’ Equipment Sale

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This week at Pine Trees, we will be holding a Members’ Equipment Sale.

With the lighter evenings of Spring & Summer now with us, perhaps now is the time to clear out that shed/shack of all those ‘come in useful’ bits and sell them to someone else!

Our sale is just the place to find that obscure part or perhaps a restoration project to work on.

Bargains are to be had, as sellers tend to keep their prices to a sensible level and there is always the option to haggle a bit!

You may wish to bring along items to sell or just browse the tables as a buyer – all are welcome to attend.

There also will be a club table which will be selling, at special prices to SDARC members, items from an SK estate.

Fees are as follows:

  • SDARC Member Seller’s Table – Free
  • Non Member Seller’s Table – £3
  • SDARC Member Entrance – Free
  • Non Member Entrance – £1
  • Refreshments – £1 (all)

Construction Competition 2017 Results

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Last Thursday we had a great attendance for the Construction Competition. We received 15 entries. There were so many entries that the judges G4LDL and M1DST were unable to produce the final scores within the evening. Tony and James took away the score sheets and worked on them over the following days.

The standard from all entrants was very good and they were particularly impressed with the entries which were specifically built to solve a problem and as such were in regular use.

Below is a list of entrants and their project and if the project won in their class. Congratulations to all who took part as every project required different skills to execute. We hope to see more great projects next year.

G3LLZDennisHomebrew/ProfessionalActive AntennaWinner!
M0RFIRussellNovice/Kit40M XTAL CW TXVRWinner!
M6XTBTimNovice/KitARDF Antenna
M6WHQDomNovice/KitPixie 40M
G0EPCPaulKitRSGB Morse GeneratorWinner!
G3LLZDennisKitRF Power Meter
2E0CYSPeterAntenna2M HaloWinner!
M0IEPVivAntenna2m Antenna (6ele)
M1CJEAndrewHomebrewRotator ControllerWinner!
M1CJEAndrewHomebrewIC7000 Voice Keyer
M1CJEAndrewHomebrewLow Current PSU
M0ZGBJonathanHomebrewPortable Manpack
G0EPCPaulHomebrew9:1 balun
M0IEPVivHybrid/SoftwareSignal Generator / Power Meter +++Winner!
G4HGZMikeHybridFrequency Meter

Here are a few photos provided by the constructors.

Talk: “The Future Is Out Of This World” – Dr. Stuart Eves – SSTL

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This week at Pine Trees, we welcomed Dr. Stuart Eves who is the Lead Mission Concepts Engineer at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited.

After working with the Ministry of Defence for 16 years, Stuart joined SSTL in 2004. He has experience in communications and surveillance satellites and initiated the ‘TopSat’ satellite programme, the engineering model of which was displayed at the Science Museum in London until recently.

Stuart is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and has an MSc in Astrophysics and a PhD in Constellation Design.

In his presentation entitled ‘The Future Is Out Of This World’, Stuart will give us his slant on how he sees satellite technology progressing over the next 20+ years.

With Satellite technology being of interest to many Radio Amateurs, this will give us a fascinating insight into an (out of this) world of technology that many do not fully understand and these days, take for granted.

Mills on the Air at Wilton

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Mills on the Air will be held between 13th and 14th May 2017 and we will be activating Wilton Windmill. We are looking for support for various activities to help run this event. Any help is appreciated, especially for, erecting masts and antennas but most of all we need operators. The location is Wilton Windmill, Wilton Hill, Near Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 3SW

We’ll be reminding you about it on Thursday nights but you can talk to Ken if you want to know more.

More information about the MOTA programme can be found at

Member’s Construction Competition 2017 Rules

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Soldering IronUPDATE: We are holding the Construction Competition this week!

The aim of this annual Spring contest is to encourage members to build either radio equipment or ancillary items which enhance their radio operations and to exhibit these to encourage others to follow their example.

Entries can include any radio-related equipment or software, for example, morse oscillator, test unit, QRP rig, computer/radio interface, PSU, Tx/Rx, linear, antenna, ATU…..

Entries can have been built at any time, but to be accepted as an entry, they must not have been entered in any previous SDARC construction contest.

If YOU have built something that helps you operate, why not enter it?  Remember it is not necessarily the most complex equipment that wins!

Provide sufficient details with your entry to help judges understand the purpose and operation of the entry….”Sell” the concept and its usefulness through your description, diagrams, circuits etc !

The contest will have five principal Product categories:-

Homebrew – This will be for equipment built completely by the club member. (If the equipment is a magazine project with a PCB available, then, the PCB may be used.)

Kit – This will be for equipment built from a kit. The kit should require some soldering to component level.

Hybrid – This will be for homebrew equipment which also contains one or more kits.

Antenna – This will be for special homebrew antenna systems. For this type of contest entry, the member will just need to provide photographs of the antenna together with a specification, a drawing and details of the construction. A list of countries worked with the antenna should also be provided.

Software – This category will be for radio-related software. This can be either, a new piece of “stand-alone” software, or a piece written to add extra features to some existing software.

In addition, three Constructor categories may be brought to bear:-

Novice – This will be for those members who have not previously built or exhibited any equipment.

GeneralThis will be for those members who have built and entered previously.

Professional – This may be awarded to experienced constructors whose work is of an exceptional standard.

The number of Awards will reflect the scope of entries and may include awards made to deal with tie-break situations.

The judges’ decisions on all the awards are final.

Please complete and entry form beforehand so you can bring it on the night. You can download the entry form here.

Talk: Manufacturing For The Masses, by Dr. Adrian Bowyer

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On Thursday, March 2nd we welcomed Dr. Adrian Bowyer, the founder of RepRap Ltd (3D Printers), to our club.

RepRap, the REPlicating RAPid Prototyper was the invention of Adrian whilst he was a senior academic in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Bath University. His invention was the birth of low-cost 3D printers, started the open-source 3D printing revolution and the RepRap has been described as the invention which will start a second industrial revolution.

Adrian started the company in 2009 and finally retired from academic life in 2012. During his time at Bath, he invented (at the same time as David Watson), the Algorithm for the computation of Voronoi diagrams – this became known as the Bowyer-Watson Algorithm.

Adrian brought along one of his 3D Printers to demo spoke of some of his experiments on 3D printing Printed Circuit Boards.

Home construction has always been close to the heart of amateur radio and with many radio hams still enjoying this aspect of the hobby, 3D printers will doubtless feature more and more within the home constructors workshops. The possibilities are endless – from making small project boxes, knobs, bespoke parts etc. to replicating those hard to find parts for the restoration of older equipment.