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Lockdown? Wythall Radio Club still busy!

May 06, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Wythall Radio Club has moved in to ‘virtual’ mode during lockdown!

Members keep in touch ‘on the air’ – on our Club 2M channel and via our GB3WL 70cm repeater.   

The Club’s Easter Contest was very popular, with over 40 members participating.  And the results were shared via Zoom.

We are also using Zoom so that members can give talks and chat about radio activities – last night we had a talk on ‘getting on the air with RTTY’ (radio teletype) with around 20 members participating. 

This is all part of the way radio amateurs are connecting people during lockdown, as the BBC reported yesterday.  

Club members have also been working on creative projects at home. 

Allen 2E0VVG comments:  ‘Last week i turned an old laptop mouse into a morse key. 

Yesterday I decided to build a frame for my 817, LDG tuner and battery for when I can finally get back out on the hills (see photo above). 

And as I’m seriously restricted on where I can put my shack, I build a shelf to go above the unit out of left-over copper pipe fittings and an off-cut of wood.’

Meanwhile Kev 2E0NCO decided to rebuild his shack! (photo right) 

Maybe woodworking and DIY should be part of the Licence exams?

 

 

John G4OJL SK Remembered

May 04, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club

Long-time Wythall Radio Club member John Bevan G4OJL recently became a silent key.
 
John joined the club in 2012 after a chance meeting with David G0ICJ. His initial interest was to join in with the ongoing morse class.
 
Although John was always associated with contacts on the key, he’d told me that after he’d passed the compulsory morse test in the 1980s he had not used it on air and didn’t like the mode. Indeed for a while he gave up the hobby completely and moved onto other pursuits.  Thanks to Chris G0EYO finding John’s details in an old callbook, John was able to get his original G4OJL callsign reissued.
 
John continued with the morse class, and by his own admission found it quite tough going and requiring lots of practice at home and at the club. He said that one Friday night at the club shack with Phil 2E0WTH and others, he heard Barry M0DGQ calling CQ on 80 metres without any station replying to him, so he very cautiously replied. This was his very first ever CW contact. 
 
After that John went from strength to strength, and was soon very comfortable on the key. His morse progression resulted in him being the second recipient of the Lew Williams Shield in 2013 (see photo, being presented by Lee G0MTN).
 
After that, despite being one of our more senior members in age, John continued to help out with the morse class, assisting with practical assessments with our training team.  He was an active participant in Club events, including Plug and Play (photo left, with Chris G7DDN) bringing some interesting antennas to try, at field days and other operating events, the Fun Run, and the Hamfest.
 
Club members recall him always being willing to answer a CW CQ, and being a dab hand at the ‘squeeze’ technique on a paddle key.
 
He entered almost all of the club contests, often sticking to CW only, but was also to be often found on FM for a local natter.  He also embraced DSTAR and recorded his activity on the Club’s ‘check-in’ website.
 
I’m glad that as a club we were able to help rekindle his interest in the hobby and facilitated several friendships with like minded people who enjoyed the same parts of the hobby as he did (photo left, with Les G0HOR and Alf G1MJO). 
 
You’ll be missed John – rest in peace. 
 
Lee G0MTN

Dots and dashes during May

May 03, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News, Training

It’s May! And Morse Code appreciation month at Wythall Radio Club.

Everyone knows some Morse Code:  ‘ …  – – –  … ‘ = SOS!

At Wythall Radio Club during May we celebrate the skill of communicating by Morse Code in honour of Lew Williams, who was an expert at Morse and former Club President.

So Club members will be having fun by making contacts with other amateur radio operators using their Morse keys – which come in all shapes and sizes!

Many are ‘side-swiper’ keys, in which one paddle send dots and the other sends dashes.

Side-swipers are often used instead of the traditional ‘pump’ key, with its up and down action, because they reduce the amount of wrist action and operator tiredness.

However, pump keys are much better for learning Morse and for slower contacts. 

Here’s a short explanation for younger readers of how Morse Code was invented (you can skip the advert at start!).   

 

 

 

 

Easter contest sucesses at Wythall

April 29, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Wythall Radio Club members gathered on Zoom last night to hear the results of the annual Easter Contest.

Over 40 members participated in the contest, and highpoints were QSOs with some of our more distant members in Scotland, Torquay and Derby. 

Besides using 2 meter FM and our 70 cm repeater GB3WL, there were qsos on the 160, 80, 40, 10 and 6 meters bands, using SSB, CW (Morse Code) and digital voice, as well as on our Zello channel.

In the 2m/70cm FM section, Maz M6NKO won the award for the highest placed Foundation licencee. 

The overall winner was Kev 2E0NCO, who will be awarded the Colin Baker G6ZDQ Easter Contest VHF/UHF Shield, in memory of our former Club member.  Over the 5 days of the contest he achieved 124 QSOs with 37 different Club members  giving a total score of 3071 points!

Miles 2E0YZW retained his second place position from last year with 1984 points, and Roy G0HDF was third with 1250 points.

There was very close competition for the top places in the all bands/all modes section.  David G7IBO came first with 124 QSOs with 43 Club members over the five days, and a total score of 3655 points.  He will be awarded the David Dawkes G0ICJ Easter Contest all bands/mode section Shield, in memory of our former Club member.

Close behind was Stuart M0NYP who had more QSOs – 134 – but fewer multipliers giving a total score of 3560.  Ian M0LQY was third with 2664 points.

Tim M6OTN, based in Worcester, won the award for the highest placed Foundation licencee in this all mode/band section. 

Club members like Sylvia M3SSP had support from a junior operator, others (G0MTN) had their rig in a convenient cupboard, and Allen 2E0VVG had his on a bike!   

The G6ZDQ and G0ICJ shields will be presented when Club members are once again able to meet again face-to-face.

Our usual prizes of Easter eggs will also be awarded when the Easter chicks start laying again!

As usual, Stuart M0NYP captured the five days of radio fun in a cartoon!

From the Orchard workbench – the QCX CW Transceiver

April 26, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News, Training

Ian M0IDR – a Wythall Radio Club member – reports on his build of this small low power transceiver.  This is the first in a series of reviews. His home is in a former orchard area, hence the title of these posts!

The QCX is a 5watt CW only transceiver with a very compact footprint which is available ready built or in kit form. Unfortunately the rather good aluminium case was discontinued in January 2019 and my purchase was a kit with case just as QRP Labs announced the change. The case can be bought elsewhere and details are on the QRP Labs website.

The kit and case shipped from America without any Customs charges, although it took some 5 weeks to arrive. Very well packed indeed with all components bagged by type.

Not for the faint hearted, I suggest, as assembly involved a fair bit of tricky intricate coil winding.

The assembly instructions are downloaded from the website and run to over 140 pages of very clear detailed instruction.

Having a fine tipped temperature controlled soldering iron made for perfect soldering first time around as removal of any multilegged component would prove very difficult. A desoldering station was on standby just in case.

The multi-winding coil was by far the most difficult to assemble but inductance measurements proved each winding before fixing into position (photo left).

Assembly proceeded in strict order of instruction and the completed board was mounted within the case (photo right).

Assembly complete – the unit on test (photo below)!

Since building this, I have purchased a second user GPS module – QLG1 – which can be added to effectively use the rig as a WSPR beacon.

This module is only available in kit form and interfaces to the QCX via a 4 core umbilical cord.

For the moment, I am pleased that the QCX assembly was trouble free and look forward to interfacing to the GPS module when time permits.

True spirit of amateur radio!

April 24, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Here’s an example of the true amateur radio spirit!!

Back in 2011, Gregg K6GDP – from Salem, Oregon USA – had a contact with the English station M7A.  Gregg discovered that he needed confirmation of the contact to complete his entry for an award. 

M7A is a special callsign used for contests, but the current holder only acquired the call in 2017.  He told Gregg he thought that the call was used by Wythall Radio Club members.

Gregg (seen with a Chinook salmon!) approached our Club, but it wasn’t a callsign we had used. 

Undaunted, Club member Lee G0MTN beavered away though the on-line records of the CQWW SSB 2011 contest.  He discovered that M7A had been used by the Lithuanian radio amateur Jay LY4A, while based in England. 

Having passed the info to Gregg, Lee received the following reply:

“I’m truly grateful for all the effort expended on my behalf.

I’ve sent off a note to LY4Y to see if he can check his log.  If he can, that would be great, but even if he can’t I am gratified to have ‘met’ all of you folks who have been so genuinely helpful in my quest.  

When propagation improves I hope to have the opportunity to meet you each on the air.

Be well and 73,  Gregg”

Glad to be of assistance, Gregg!

Oh, and that Chinook salmon weighs in at almost 40lbs and took Gregg 30 minutes to land into his boat on the Siletz River in the Pacific north-west coast. 

Happy fishing on the air waves and in the water!

 

Wythall joins international celebration of amateur radio

April 20, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Wythall Radio Club members participated in this year’s World Amateur Radio Day (WARD) by contacting stations around the world.

Saudi Arabia, Canada, Georgia (photo left), Romania, Israel and Kuwait were amongst the countries with whom Wythall club members had two-way conversations on the short wave bands.

Contacts included stations with special ‘WARD’ callsigns.

John 2E0XET worked HZ1WARD (Saudi Arabia) using Morse code on the 20 meter band, Chris G0EYO contacted AM1WARD (Spain) using digital mode FT8 on 160 meters, and Chris G3YHF talked with 5P0WARD (Denmark) on 40 meters.

Amateur Radio experimenters were the first to discover that the short wave spectrum — far from being a wasteland — could support worldwide propagation. 

Today, 100 years later, Amateur Radio is more popular than ever, with more than 3,000,000 licensed operators worldwide!

Amateur radio community has proved vital in recent emergencies – when mobile phone masts and telephone lines are out of action, radio amateurs often provide the only means of communication with the outside world.  

World Amateur Radio Day celebrates the fun of amateur radio and its scientific and humanitarian contribution.

Wythall member is new face of RSGB

April 15, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club

Wythall Radio Club member Jamie – M0SDV – is the new face of the RSGB membership form.

The leaflet shows Jamie operating one of Wythall Radio Club’s stations. 

He is contacting stations internationally using the the special callsign GB19CBC – a special call to celebrate the UK hosting of the Cricket World Cup in 2019.

RSGB – the Radio Society of Great Britain – is the national association representing UK radio amateurs and short wave listeners.

Wythall Easter Contest approaching fast!

April 08, 2020 By: Chris G7DDN Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

If you are tuning around in the next few days on the 2 metre band or on GB3WL in the Birmingham area (or even further afield) and hear some stations exchanging numbers, you just might have stumbled upon the Wythall Radio Club Easter Contest. 

Just as at Christmas, we hold an event to get our members on air and working each other.

Points are given for each member worked and each discrete member worked across the period also counts as a multiplying factor (or multiplier) to attain a final score.

It sounds complicated but we have a clever Excel spreadsheet which keeps score for us!

The best 3 days of the 5 days of Easter are adjudicated and the top 3 winners in each category get Easter Eggs as prizes. With 6 chocolate prizes, it’s a short but highly contested event.

Watch this space for the results!

‘Hello Australia’ – Wythall short-wave radio reaches out!

April 04, 2020 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club

Recent contacts with Australia delighted Wythall Radio Club members.  

Using the 40 meter short wave band, Tim M6OTN and Chris G0EYO both made their first two-way contacts with Norman – call sign VK7AC  (see picture).

Norm is located in Tasmania island, almost 11,000 miles from Wythall.  

Tim and Chris were using FT8 – a digital mode that enables effective low power communication under poor propogation conditions.  

Tim only received his licence in 2018, so this was a great achievement!

The photos below show the equipment used for the contacts.  Chris uses (Yaesu 847 transceiver to left of photo), and Tim’s Yaesu 450d on the left of the operating desk and his 40 year old Hy Gain AVT40/WB-S vertical (on the left).