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Big scores in April DX Challenge

May 04, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Big scores were reported in Wythall Radio Club’s April DX challenge – but it was a two-horse race!

With warm Spring weather tempting members’ activities outside the shack, it was left to Chris G0EYO and Lee G0MTN to chase the DX.

Using the 80 and 20 meter bands, all continents were contacted except Australia/Oceania and Antarctica (always a challenge!). 

Well done Chris on 126 countries worked using a long wire and FT8.  And even though the nights are getting shorter, 80 meters still produced 42 countries!

The countries that Chris and Lee contacted in the other 5 continents included Hong Kong, Venezuela, Mozambique, Canada and Albania.

In addition, Lee worked 10 countries on 6 meters.

For a full list of countries, click here

 

 

Low power fun in Easter Contest

April 28, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

“How low can you go?” was a theme of Wythall Radio Club’s Easter Contest 2021.

Chris G7DDN made his 37 contacts with other Club members using his trusty FT817 running 5 watts into a 2m/70cm collinear, and achieved 3rd place in the VHF/UHF category.

Not to be outdone, Allen M0PPX made a 0.3 watt QSO with Kev 2E0NCO whilst en route to the Lickey Hills using his new Yaesu FT3D.

Meanwhile, Lee G0MTN connected his Kenwood handheld to his EME antennas (normally used for moon-bounce contacts), wound the power down to 50 milliwatts, and also made a contact with Kev 2E0NCO!

On the space theme, Chris G3YHF send a greetings message via the International Space Station digipeater – 00:00:01:40 : G3YHF]CQ,NA1SS*,qAR,CT1EBQ3::NWS :Happy contest Wythall RC g3yhf via ISS 

This didn’t count for the contest, which requires QSOs with any of the Club’s 80 or so members, but is in the spirit of our motto – ‘Having fun with RF!’.

John 2E0XET also tried some novel QSOs.  Normally found on CW and often using QRP, he was tempted to have an HF SSB QSO and also try out his new Baufeng handheld on 2m to have his first contact with Kev 2E0NCO!

First place in the 2m/70cm section was Kev, 2E0NCO. 

Although a big signal from home, he also spent several afternoons on the Lickey Hills and managed a contact with Rob 2W0MEX in South Wales – one of several members spread across the UK and abroad.  This was no mean feat on 2m FM!

Kev wins the Colin Baker G6ZDQ Shield.

Miles 2E0YZW was a close second and Tim M6OTN and Clive M7OCB tied for the highest placed foundation licencee in this category.

In the ‘all modes and bands’ category, David G7IBO amassed a huge lead over second and third placed Chris G3YHF and Lee G0MTN.  He made 71 contacts over the 5 days of the contest and worked 28 members for a score of 1344, more than double the second place score!  He wins the David Dawkes G0ICJ Shield.

Juliet M6RSC was the highest placed Foundation licencee in this category.

With May approaching, Club members now turn their attention to their annual More Appreciation Month and the Lew Williams Shield.

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Prince Phillip ‘on the air’

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

Warwick G4WMH offers his reminiscences following the RSGB President’s comments on the passing of its Patron HRH, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, particularly with reference to his support for the Society’s 75th Anniversary Convention in 1988.

GB75AC was a Super Station to celebrate the RSGB’s 75th Anniversary Convention.  We operated for 10 days from a temporary “cottage” located next to Pendigo Lake in front of the NEC. 

The station was supported by all of the major importers and many UK manufacturers with peripherels and amplifiers etc.  We also had Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu rooms.

The station had the capability of “all HF bands plus 2m & 70cm” and many mode operation for 24 hours a day.  There was a very impressive antenna farm with 100′, 80′ and 60 ‘ towers and lots of wires. 

We waved some 2m & 70cm satellite antennas, but lacked the manpower to make any satellite contacts.

The camera shot was not wide enough to pick up all the antennas, some of which were quite a distance from the station including the verticals and wires.  

The signal flags in the outside shot spell out GB75AC – they were full size navy flags – very heavy with lots of windage so we did not fly them high.

We were inundated with visitors, including foreign royalty, government representatives, presidents and officials from many overseas societies, some celebrities and at least one astronaut, not to mention many DXers from around the world, many of whom wanted to operate the station. 

This was a time when RSGB Conventions were huge.  In those days we knew the NEC well and amateur radio operation was common from a wide variety of public and trade shows.

There was great teamwork.  Working closely with the RSGB, the station and the Prince’s broadcast was pulled together by an enthusiastic team from midlands clubs – Bromsgrove, Midland, Solihull, South Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, Wythall and others. 

Guest operators from around the country signed-up to join the team, bringing amateur and professional expertise and borrowed kit to the station. 

One thing was definitely missing – there was no computer logging in those days.  Despite valiant efforts from team members we never got a stable network (or data).  However, conditions were pretty good at the time and we really did work the world!

A great challenge was the planned live broadcast of the Patron’s speech which we actually achieved on time – simultaneous transmission which we broadcast to the world on 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 2 and 70cm.  What a pile up of call-ins once it was finished! 

To make the broadcast we required a high qualty cable link from the centre of the NEC, running through underground passages and under road culverts to get from the exhibition to the station.  And we had to get the very expensive cable undamaged back to the contractor who loaned it, ready for their professional installation just a few days later!

The next challenge (soon after the broadcast) was to exchange grettings messages between the Duke and Windsor Castle.  We had media pressure for this to be an exchange between His and Her Royal Majesties.  It seemed like a good idea at the time!!

We considered all sorts of options, including some fancy encryption technology, which was great fun to play with but even the professionals could not guarantee that it would work on the day.  We considered that it would be a nice thing to do but we only needed a nutter or two to ruin everything! 

The solution was two fold: 1. The Duke would pass greetings with a representative of the Society who would be located at Windsor Castle and who would return the greetings and thanks for his patronage. 

We were still concerned about unwanted interuptions and hit upon solution 2: We would not use an amateur band – we selected an “obscure” military frequency.

The Duke was standing in front of the then latest Yaesu showing a 40m frequency, whilst the microphone was actually connected to my trusty FT902DM in another room, with a separate antenna on the roof and controlled by me using a hand PTT and prompting the overs. 

It all went very smoothly with a nod of approval from the Duke!

Winter DX Challenge Results

April 01, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Andorra, Albania and the Azores were amongst the countries contacted by Wythall Radio Club members in their Winter DX Challenge. 

The aim was to have two-way contacts with other radio amateurs in as many different countries as possible on the  40 and 160 meter short wave bands.  This Challenge ran through February and March.

With his Foundation licence, Tim M6OTN showed what could be done on 40m, working 90 different countries.  All this with low power and a vertical antenna (photo).

On Top Band (160m), Lee G0MTN worked 85 countries – great going with a mix of digital and CW modes. 

Club members had lots of fun talking to people in other parts of the world.  They used digital, voice and Morse Code transmisions at all times of the day and night.

Here’s a list of countries we contacted.

 

 

 

From the Workshop: Bringing FT101s back to life!

March 28, 2021 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Ian M0IDR has been working on one of these classic rigs…….

The Yaesu FT101z or FT101zd are classic Hf transceivers from the 70’s and really solid made.  They feature a valve PA and driver and with the zd, a digital display of frequency. 

Photo left: Front of the transceiver which is a Mk1 the D in ZD denotes factory fitted digital frequency display. You will see this is missing as it is in pieces on the repair bench.

With some TLC these can be ready for another 40+ years of service.  Having sorted out one for a ham near Stratford,which had been stored for years, it spurred me on to find another example for myself.

The weaknesses in these rigs are: digital display issues, audio amplifier failure, connector issues, driver to PA capacitor leakage and dry joints on some circuit boards. 

Having found an example that looked decent, I already was aware that the S-meter and BFO dial lamps were intermittent and it blew fuses.  Well, it blew fuses because the fuses that were used were 2amp whereas the rig needed 3amp ones!  Correct fuse installed, receive works fine and fuse does not blow. 

It is so important to use the correct rated fuse, in this case a 3A fuse of the quick blow variety.  An example was the one I repaired for my Ham friend.  It had blown the fuse, and the replacement was a piece of lighting flex wrapped around it with a 13A fuse in the plug.  Yes it was “”fine”” on receive, but as soon as the PA valves warmed up there were fireworks inside the mis-matched PA valves with one of them dead short-anode to ground.  How it did not take out the anode choke remains a miracle.

However, after several hours on receive, the audio suddenly cut out just leaving the S-meter registering signals but no audio.  I assumed it was the audio chip that had failed.  I checked and failed to find an audio signal at the input to the audio amp. 

Photo right: A view of the underchassis showing just showing complexity of the audio and demodulation board with one of the power supply boards to the left.

The troublesone audio chip is on the rectangular aluminium heatsink.

However, this rig has the following external audio jacks: rear panel – line audio in;  front panel – phones jack and unlike other 101zds the phone jack also has a line out and switches both the output to the speaker and audio input to the amp.  Well,phones socket clearly had seen better days but was so buried in wiring that the only way to access it would be to remove all the controls and front panel.

Fortunately several insertions of a suitable 1/4 inch Jack plug cleared the problem. 

It is crucial to have service data with full schematics available together with diagrams of signal routing on receive and transmit to progress fault-finding logically.  In this case it helped but the wiring of the audio signal through the headphone socket to provide a audio line out was undocumented and unusual especially considering there was already a line out on the rear panel!

Dense component replacement makes voltage readings difficult and generally measurements are taken from the multi-way connectors which are plentiful on the chassis.

Photo right: The PA and bandswitching

Not shown in the photos, but above chassis there are 2 more circuit boards which have these white multi connectors and (fortunately) for the RF circuits, the boards plug in to multiway interfaces which are chassis mounted and make removal and replacement easy.

Spares are still plentiful and are usually sourced from rigs which have been parted out.

The electrolytic capacitors used in these rigs  in general are really good quality and although there are incidents of them failing,they are relatively few and far between.

Most rigs are parted out because of physical damage through being dropped, mains transformer failure, a PA meltdown or bizarrely frequency display failure.  Display failure is common and there are now “kits” to replace the readout with a LCD screen which can save the day!

Happy Days!

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!