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New Year DX Challenge results

February 03, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Our special Wythall Radio Club DX Challenge yielded lots of activity and fun.

Held over December and January, the aim was for members to work as many countries as poossible on the High Bands (20m-10m), Low Bands (30m – 80m) and Top Band (160m).

There was lots of activity on Top Band CW and FT8, with Lee G0MTN working 75 countries – and he also had the most unique countries across all three categories with 102 worked.

Chris G0EYO did well as usual, working 60 countries on the High Bands and the most countries across the three categories.  Kevin 2E0NCO was top of the Low Band table with 75 countries. 

FT8 was the preferred mode of Chris and Kevin, but members also used SSB and CW.

Our members have different equipment and antennas, some very restricted, so it’s more of a personal challenge to see what DX can be worked. 

Countries worked in this challenge include Malaysia, Tajikistan and Kenya.  You can find a full list of countries worked here.

 

 

Online free Foundation Course starts March 1st

January 30, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News, Training

Wythall Radio Club will be running their next online Foundation Training course starting on March 1st 2021.

The course lasts 8 weeks and candidates can book their own online, remotely invigilated, examination direct with the RSGB.  There is no charge for the course but there will be a limit to how many candidates we can accommodate.

The Foundation course is delivered via a virtual learning experience (VLE) software called EDMODO which is free to use and has gained world-wide acceptance as a safe and easy way for tutors to connect with their students at home via the internet.

Basically you sign up for the course and you get notifications via e mail that the course material and quizzes are available for you to download.

This will take place over an 8 week period with two lessons per week in the comfort of your own home and in a time of your choosing. We will deliver all the course material you need to complete the course but you will have to purchase the RSGB book “The Foundation Licence Manual” from the RSGB shop https://www.rsgbshop.org/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Training_19.html

You will also have to book and pay for your remotely invigilated examination (£27.50) direct with the RSGB but we will advise on how to do this when you register to do the course.

So, if you or someone you know wants to do this course then contact Chris G0EYO our training co-ordinator on [email protected] as soon as possible to get your name on the list.

‘Voice of the Midlands’ celebrated!

January 29, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

Wythall Radio Club are proud to unveil the newly named ‘Voice of the Midlands’ Jim Tonge 2E0BLP Trophy.

The Trophy will be awarded to the winner of the Club’s Christmas Contest 2m/70cm section.

Jim is a longstanding member of Wythall Radio Club, and has been a great supporter of our events and social activities.

Like many other members, he arrived in amateur radio from CB.

Jim has won the Club’s Christmas and Easter contests several times.  The photo shows him receiving the David Dawkes G0ICJ Easter Contest all bands/mode section shield. 

He has also proved particularly hard to displace from the top spot in the 2m/70cm sections of these contests – and although still keen to score points, it’s his son Kevin 2E0NCO who now regularly tops the score board! 

And as you can see from the photo below, one of his duties is brewing up at the Club’s field day (with Tim M6OTN).

It is because of his commitment to the Club and amateur radio – and hearing his distinctive Brummie accent on air – that we are delighted to name the ‘Voice of the Midlands’ trophy after him.

 

 

Lots of Club activity in Xmas Contest

January 27, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

There was keen competition between Wythall Radio Club members over the festive period in the Club’s annual Christmas Contest. 

Over 1500 QSOs were made between the 46 members who were ‘on air’ for the 7 day event

Contacts were made using FM, SSB and CW as well as various digital modes including FT8 and D-Star, and the Club’s Zello channel.  There was even a RTTY (radio teletype) QSO!  

Chris G7DDN’s brand new RGO ONE rig also made an appearance (photo)!

And all bands from 160m to 23cm were activated. 

The contest brought together local members with those in Wales, Devon and Scotland.  Unfortunately, band conditions didn’t allow the hoped for 23cm contact with Darren GW0HOC.

However Mike G4VPD did reach Australia and New Zealand on 10m using FT8 (photo)!

Even the snowy weather didn’t discourage Kev 2E0NCO and Ian M0LQY (photo) from operating /P (socially distanced) from the Lickey Hills , and Chris G3YHF conducted some pushbike /M QSOs.

In the 2meter/70cm (VHF/UHF) section, Kevin 2E0NCO repeated last year’s success ahead of Miles 2E0YZW and Ian M0IDR.  Kevin retains the 2m/70cm Trophy – now renamed the ‘Voice of the Midlands’ Jim Tonge 2E0BLP Trophy.

In the ‘all bands/modes’ section, Simon G4TVR was first, and following close behind were Don G0NES and Ian M0LQY.  Simon receives the Reg Brown G7OJO Trophy.

The leading Foundation licencees received awards: Clive M7OCB in the 2m/70cm section, using a handheld, and Juliet M6RSC in the all modes section.  

Don G0NES received a certificate for making the most contacts using digital voice modes and John 2E0XET for making the most Morse contacts.  

Cheers to all participants (I’m told it’s just water!)!

 

 

2020 DX Challenge Results

January 14, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

The bands have been buzzing with Wythall Radio Club members’ DX activity!  And the results of our annual DX Challenge table are now available.

The leading Foundation entrant – in fact, the only one in 2020 – was Tim M6OTN, who contacted radio amateurs in an impressive 106 different countries (see map below – green indicates countries worked). 

One of the contacts was with Alberto, HC1DAZ, in Quito, Equador (see map right). 

Others were with Greenland, the Falkland Islands and China.

Tim used a mix of SSB (single sideband voice) and FT8 digital mode from either a Kenwood Ts 530 or a Yaesu 450d to a 1974 vintage pre-used ground mounted Hy-gain 18 AVT/WB – S vertical.

Nice going Tim, with a score that compares well with those in the other licence categories who are able to use more power!

There was a close result in the Intermediate licence group, with John 2E0XET pipping Kevin 2E0NCO by 100 countries to 94. 

This is all the more impressive as John was operating 100% CW (Morse Code) with a wire doublet antenna and often using very low power, while Kev was 100% FT8.

Lee G0MTN had a commanding lead in the Advanced licence group with 160 countries worked.  Tim M0URX was in second place at 123 countries, again impressive as these were all worked using SSB.

With conditions on the HF bands picking up, the score for the 2021 DX Challenge is already taking off!

Six meters and up squares challenge results

January 10, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Contacts in 179 squares across 3 bands put Mike G4VPD in the lead in Wythall Radio Club’s 6m and up squares challenge. 

The Challenge ran through the latter part of 2020, and shows that there was plenty to work on 6, 4 and 2m.

Most contacts were on FT8, but cw and ssb were also used by our 4 entrants. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although long distance contacts were dependent on the occasional ‘openings’ on these bands, there were plenty of European contacts to be had – especially on 6 and 2 – under normal conditions.

We look forward to the results – and plenty of openings – in 2021.

STOP PRESS: Intermediate Course FULL

January 04, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News, Training

UPDATE:  We’ve had a very swift response and we are now FULL with 22 keen trainees.

We look forward to hearing them with their new 2E0 call signs later in the year!!

 

Wythall Radio Club will be continuing its online Training courses in 2021.

Wythall Radio Club will be running their next online Intermediate Training course starting on January 25th 2021.

The course lasts 9 weeks and candidates can book their own online, remotely invigilated, examination direct with the RSGB.  There is no charge for the course but there will be a limit to how many candidates we can accommodate.

The Intermediate course is delivered via a virtual learning experience (VLE) software called EDMODO which is free to use and has gained world-wide acceptance as a safe and easy way for tutors to connect with their students at home via the internet.

Basically you sign up for the course and you get notifications via e mail that the course material and quizzes are available for you to download.

This will take place over a 9 week period with two lessons per week in the comfort of your own home and in a time of your choosing. We will deliver all the course material you need to complete the course but you will have to purchase the RSGB book “The Intermediate Licence Manual 2nd edition” from the RSGB shop https://www.rsgbshop.org/acatalog/Online_Catalogue_Training_19.html

You will also have to book and pay for your remotely invigilated examination (£32.50) direct with the RSGB but we will advise on how to do this when you register to do the course.

So, if you or someone you know wants to take this unexpected opportunity then contact Chris G0EYO our training co-ordinator on [email protected] as soon as possible as there is not much time before the course commences.

We plan to also run an online Foundation course starting in February but will publish details when they become firmed up.

Chris Pettitt G0EYO

An easy-build 2 meter antenna Xmas project

December 19, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News, Training

Wythall Radio Club’s Christmas Contest is approaching fast!!  If you only have a basic 2 meter antenna or just a handheld, or you want to get out portable, here’s an easy-to-build 2 meter antenna to boost your signal – from Neil G1TZC. 

There is a link to a pdf version at the end.

Many years ago I read an article somewhere about the Slim Jim portable antenna.  It might have been in Practical Wireless, but was a very long time ago.

Thanks to the late Fred Judd (G2BCX) we have this great little antenna available to us.

I decided that now there is an antenna analyser in the workshop (see previuous post on the nanoVNA), it was time to revisit this old friend.  After a bit of digging around the internet, various measurements were found and duly scribbled on a sheet of A4 paper.

From my memories of the one that I built many years ago was made from choc-blok (electrical connector – 15A) and coat hangers.

Initial sketch

We had also better think about some sort of base as well, as this version will be a table top version.

Ingredients

4 wire coat hangers (10 for £1 from Poundland last time I looked)

3 choc blok electrical connectors (15A)

1 length 50ohm coax with suitable connector for your radio

1 bamboo kebab skewer (yes really)

Material to make a base and fixing screws.

Tools

Wire cutters

Pliers

Craft knife

Terminal screwdriver (small flathead)

Tape measure

Soldering iron (optional)

How we make it

Let’s start with the good bit.  Let me begin by apologising for the quality of photographs – they were done on the fly without a tripod or lighting and on a phone.

Take the choc blok.  Cut this so that there are three terminals per strip.  The ones used here were 6 way 15A, but you may be using something different.

Complete and cut connector block

Cut the hook section off the four wire coat hangers and straighten.  Remember if there is any coating this either needs removing or scraping to bare metal for joining areas.

You should now have four lengths of wire.  To absolutely maximise the available metal cut off two of the hooks from the twisted section and straighten.  These will make the two ends of the antenna.  Exact measurements for these can’t be given because your choc blok will vary in size.

       

Fold short lengths of wire with a pair of pliers

Loosen the screws and insert the wire as shown above.  Cutting these slightly long allows you to change the length of the antenna during testing.  Always handy to have a little bit of give, just in case.

Now take two of the long lengths of wire and cut them to 930mmin length.  In a perfect world these will slot through the choc block a bit like a trombone.  Take another two three way connectors and remove the metal terminal from both.  Do not throw these connectors or screws away as we will use them later.

Slide one of the three way connectors about half way along the two lengths of wire and tighten the screws.  This is simply used as a spacer.  Now use the other connector at the open end of the two wires and tighten slightly.  Again, we are going to leave the option to trombone the metal a little if needed.

Take one of the remaining lengths of straight wire and cut it to 580mm.

Now cut the last length of wire to a length of 497mm (500mm will be close enough).

Find the other end section that was made earlier and insert the two wires to make an unbalanced U shape.

More hunting.  Find the two metal inserts that you set aside earlier.  Here we have one of two choices.  If you don’t have a soldering iron to hand then simply slide one of the metal inserts on to each of the legs of the unbalanced U.

If you have a soldering iron, strip the end of the coax cable ready for soldering.

Solder the inserts as shown.  Note one screw hole on each is uncovered.

Once the ends are soldered and cooled slip them on to the unbalanced U section.  The inner is connected to the longer leg and the braid to the shorter side.  Pinch tighten these close to the base of the U.  This will allow you to adjust the feed point.  In the workshop this was set at about 50mm to start.

Now slide a 3 way as a spacer on the unbalanced U section and tighten.  Using the final 3 way slide it in to place so that the short section is just fed through the connector.  Tighten this connector on both sides.

Connect the long side to the original U section and tighten.  In the workshop version the kebab skewer was used in the middle of two of the connectors so that it strengthens the gap section.

Effectively, the antenna is now complete and ready for use.  You could now tie a piece of string to the top and hang it somewhere (or tie spare bit of bent metal to the end and hang it over something).

Alternatively, the antenna can be bent through 90 degrees to make a table top version.  Let’s come back to that later.

Testing

Connect the antenna to your analyser – BUT DON’T  DON’T WORRY IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE!

Testing can also be done by connnecting your 2 meter transceiver, low power setting, with your VSWR meter inline.

(OR if you only have a handheld, and no VSWR meter, then try listening on the 2 meter band.  If you can hear signals (especially if they are stronger than on a rubber duck antenna), chances are it will work fine.)   

Adjust the feed point as required to give the lowest reading you can.  Once you have reached the lowest point you can also adjust the overall length of the antenna from the various connectors.  This may increase or decrease the VSWR readings.  This is a bit experimental but that’s what the hobby is about.  The analyser plot below gives 1.5 or better right across the band.

The antenna should also work on 70cms – two for the price of one!

Analyser plot for the coat hanger slim jim

Optional Base

If the option of base is required here is an option that was put together in the workshop.  A length of 30mm wide pine was left over from lining the workshop roof so this was used for my base.

 

   

Foldable wooden base                                       Close up of skewer

Cut the base slightly longer than the bent section of antenna.  Glue two 30mm square blocks on the underside, one at each end.  Measure another length to be fitted in the gap in the underside.  Make this section 20mm shorter than the gap to allow for rotation to make a foot.  Place this strip in the middle of the gap and screw so that strip can be rotated.  You might want to drill a pilot hole to allow free turning.  If you use a long enough skewer you can use it to stabilise the upright.  Drill a hole small enough for a tight fit and push the skewer in to place.

I hope these instructions worked for you and you enjoyed it as a little project.

You can print off these instructions as a pdf by clicking here.

Neil – G1TZC

Antenna building with a VNA

December 16, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News, Training

Neil, G1TZC, a Wythall Radio Club member, writes about his experience with a little Vector Network Analyser….

My local club runs monthly activities and this month there are activities on 80m to 30m and 20m to 10m.

As good as the 1/2 sized G5RV is it just doesn’t cover enough bands for this.

Recently I purchased a four inch screen version of the NanoVNA. I decided to pay a little more for a premium version.

I hadn’t realised when I made the purchase that part of the extra money went on the fact it has a much better antenna connector – the N type connector – mounted to the metal case.

My main advice is read the menu flow chart and take the time to download the online manual. The windows software is the right side of basic.

This has given a great chance to make a couple of antennas for the 12m and 30m. Using the analyser makes the whole process so easy.  You can see some of the screen shots below.

I shall be purchasing some more pvc covered wire to add extra bands. I think this will become my portable “go to” antenna for holiday operating.

It has also allowed me to check my 3 element 2/70 beam and the two colinears. I’ve even found that one of the 2/70 colinears works ok on 23cm.

If you have a little bit of spare cash and you want a handy test tool this is great. It allows you to check that antenna from the end of the coax.

Check out Neil’s qrz.com (G1TZC) page for more of his blogs.

Islands to the fore in November DX challenge

December 01, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Cayman, Puerto Rico, Madeira, Cyprus, and Malta were among the many islands contacted by Wythall Radio Club members in our November DX Challenge.

KP2M in the US Virgin Islands was a big signal into Wythall on 40 meters.  This station is the home of the Radio Reef DXers group

We also contacted several stations on the Aland Islands located between Sweden and Norway including OHoR and OHoZ.

And back in the Caribbean, contact was made with radio amateur Daniel, ZF2MJ, on Cayman Island.

Congratulations to Chris G0EYO and Neil G1TZC for topping the total DXCC and unique DXCC tables. Neil also just pipped Chris in the 40 meter tables.

On 80 and 160 meters, there was a close contest between the Chris’s G0EYO and G3YHF, with each taking honours on one band.

You can find a list of countries contacted here

We are continuing the 160 meter tables through December, January and February to see what DX members can work during the 4 winter months. 

For December and January, there will be two tables – one for the low bands (80,40 and 30 meters) and one for the high bands (20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 meters).  Each country will count once in each table regardless of the band or mode used.