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The Full Licence? An Introduction and Guide to the full Amateur Radio Experience- by G0EYO

February 13, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, News, Training

The full amateur radio experience is within your grasp: read on and discover.

A recent pass of the Full Licence Examination by our Hon Sec. Clive (now M0KNP) got our Training Co-ordinator Chris G0EYO thinking about how wonderful it is that people who have an interest in radio communications, but no technical, engineering or academic training can pass an examination in which some of the questions require them to learn a high level of technical and electronic theory and scientific calculations.

Chris G0EYO has written an article “Achieving the Impossible by Getting That Full Amateur Licence”  where he describes how the structured approach of the Bath Distance Learning Team has got around 1000 amateurs through their Intermediate and Full Licence examinations with their courses which have an award winning success rate.  It is based around a Syllabus which is produced by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and approved by Ofcom. Each course ties in the material in Course Books (again published by the RSGB) with the requirements of the Syllabus, so that everything that is examinable is covered by the course.

The team behind the course have put in an incredible amount of time and research to make sure there are no gaps in the training and that each week’s topics tested by a quiz which the students do under timed conditions. The weekly tutorials are optional but are at the same time every Wednesday evening on Zoom. If a student is unable to watch a tutorial in real time a YouTube video of it is available to watch the next day. The tutorial is also supported by a power point presentation and this also available as a PDF to download the next day. 

At the end of the course, the student is expected to have a go at several Mock exams similarly structured to the ones set by the RSGB. It is the tutor’s job to supply the students with worked answers for all the quizzes and mock exams after they have been submitted and to help them with any queries they may have on the questions or course material. The tutor also keeps in contact with the student over his progress and will chivvy them along if they fall behind.

The BBDL Intermediate course runs for 19 weeks and the Full course runs for 20 weeks. Both of these courses call for a serious commitment from the student. In addition to the 2 hour weekly tutorial, you will need to spend another 2 to 4 hours studying each week’s material, preparing for and doing the weekly quiz.

https://www.wythallradioclub.co.uk/?page_id=13341&preview=true

 

YOU WILL FIND THE ARTICLE IN THE LIBRARY/ARTICLEOF THE WEBSITE OR THROUGH THE URL LINK ABOVE


How Low Can You Go? Try 0.1 watts!

February 07, 2024 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

There were 100mW QSOs during Wythall Radio Club’s QRP month in January.s_meter_2.gif

John M6KET wound down the wick and used 0.1 watt to work Germany, France and England on 30m cw. 

Upping the power to 500 milliwatts gave him QSOs with Germany and Hungary also on 30m.  

Overall, 48 countries were worked using 5 watts or less on CW, and 50 countries using 10 watts or less on FT8.

It was harder work on SSB, with only 9 countries worked.

John M6KET and Kev G4XLO topped the CW and FT8 leader boards with 46 and 48 countries respectively.

Not bad for one month’s operating!

Using 1 watt on 30m, the big surprise for John was working C6AAE (Bahamas) at 16.45 UTC.  He also had a QRZ from  TZ4AM, but unfortunately Jeff in Mali wasn’t able to copy all John’s callsign.

Using 5 watts – the full CW QRP power allowance! – John had great success on 12m cw including Nepal, Kuwait and Qatar.

Kev G4XLO in Torbay had spectacular results on FT8, working 48 DXCC entities despite gradually reducing power during the week – starting with 10 watts for the first week, then 5 watts, and finally 2 watts from the FT817. 

Amongst his highlights were Antigua (an all time new one), Cyprus – the op. was Sergio Rebrov ex-Tottenham manager!, San Marino and Puerto Rico.  

Kev found that 5 watts was enough to get across to west coast USA.

Lee G0MTN was also active, although other commitments limited his operating time using his new battery-powered QRPLabs QMX rig.

Darren GW7HOC used QRP in the past:

“I’ve worked VK4 from a tent in Cornwall on 20M SSB with 5W… I was in a tent! The antenna was an 80M mobile whip via an ATU.

I’ve crossed the Atlantic hundreds of times on 2.5W or less, mainly on SSB. I’ve crossed the pond many times on 1/2W or less on CW.

QRP is the best way to enjoy the hobby. No computers. No weak signal modes, either phone or CW.”

Chris G3YHF was mainly been on 7030kHz CW with his Rooster at 1w working around Europe.

He added a Sotabeams audio filter which made a big improvement to selectivity and a Kanga kits keyer module, but this left the operating desk now a bit of a rats nest!

You can read more about Chris’s adventures with the Rooster here.

 


Next Week to Wythall Radio Club. Tuesday 6th February at 8.30 pm. All welcome- Members and Non Members Alike

February 02, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club

 

 

 

 

HOW I BECAME INTERESTED IN SATELLITE COMMUNICATION AND THE BENEFITS OF USING THE QO-100 SATELLITE AS AN EVERYDAY SET UP

 

 

 

I became interested in satellite quite soon after getting my licence, but it was very expensive to take up. The complexity of tracking the satellite across the sky was not within my budget. I did try the Armstrong method and really struggled. So, I decided to move on from that.

Many years later I started listening to the ISS from a simple handheld and received a few slows can pictures. I also heard stations working through both on voice and packet. Again, I parked the hobby but on this visit back to the hobby I have set my station up so that it is permanent and I can simply lock things away when I’m not working.

Some time in mid 2022, I happened to be reading an item, I forget where exactly, about a geostationary satellite that had been launched. This seemed more interesting. A satellite I could just point at and leave set up. Yes it’s lazy but it is also reliable. What was also interesting was the fact that the satellite was available on a webSDR. This became my first port of call, which quite soon made me realise that this was a thing I would be interested in.

I did some research and decided on purchasing a ready- made transverter. Unfortunately, due to my own mistake, I managed to wire up a couple of connections incorrectly and damaged the transverter. The manufacturers were very supportive and we eventually got me on the air.

It has become a bit of a passion of mine, even going portable from time to time, with a foldable 60cm dish.

Hopefully my talk on 6th February at 8.30 pm in the Darts’ Room at Wythall House will give an insight as to how we got to this point, with a quick history of satellite communication and the benefits of using the QO-100 satellite as an every day set up.

 


Rig Review: Yaesu FT3 with C4FM/Fusion

January 27, 2024 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Wythall Radio Club member Kev G4XLO, based in sunny Torbay, Devon, recently splashed out on a new handy. Here’s his review…
 
I had thought about getting a new HT for a couple of months. I normally read reviews and get other hams’ opinions before I take the plunge. 
 
I’ve always been a Yaesu ham as I find these are the best quality (personal preference). I considered what options I had and what cash I had available. 
 
I took the plunge this week and found a Yaesu FT3 for sale from one of the main dealers here in the UK. On arrival the radio was in perfect showroom condition without a mark or blemish and came with everything that was with it when it was new. 
 
The first thing I noticed was the size.  It’s small, fits perfectly in the palm of my hand and feels ‘right’.
 
On power up it asks you to enter your callsign, essential for the Fusion network, then takes you to the main VFO screen. Swapping between VFO A and VFO B is a breeze.
 
I had a quick read of the manual and very soon had programmed the first repeater in.  I was hitting it on just the 2.5 Watts to the stock antenna, so getting into the Fusion network was flawless. 
 
The menus seem pretty easy and self explanatory but I find I refer to the book of words quite a bit still. I have the ADMS software which I am still populating with ham, marine as well as airband chanells. 
 
The screen has a lot of information cleverly organised and for once easy to use.
 
Cons – I think the main concern of the radio is the slight ‘tinny’ sound of the speaker especially compared to the FT70 that was a lot ‘fuller’.  I would say that’s the only fault!
 
I love this radio as a) it’s easy to use as well as b) I’ve had some good audio reports back on both Fusion as well as analogue. 
 
I had read online about the charge time for the radio. For a radio in this price bracket I would have expected a rapid charger as standard.  Also some people had commented that when the radio is charging, the status bar does not move from one or two bars, although not the case of the one I have. 
 
Yes, it takes about 9 hours to charge it but it does say ‘charge complete’ at the end of the cycle. Talking of the battery, I find it holds the charge really well and easily lasts 11 to 12 hours on rx with a bit of playing around and a few quick QSOs. 
 
I’m really impressed with this HT. 
 
I have read other reviews from people that say it’s one of the worst HTs out there but come on… I think this is a great little radio and is now my ‘go to’ HT and for the money I paid very well worth it. 
 
Well done Yaesu!
 
Kev is also a big fan of low power FT8 with basic antennas – he’s been very active during our Club’s QRP ‘How low can you go’ January – watch this space for a report!
 
All we need to do now is convince him to get back to some CW as a few years ago he won the Lew Williams Shield for most improved CW operator!
 
An earlier version of this review was published on eham.net

The Results in Full: Wythall Radio Club Xmas Contest 2023

January 19, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

Contest Organiser Lee presents Martin M7XFD with his certificate as Leading Foundation Member in the Xmas Contest.

David G7IBO, a veteran of many Wythall Radio Club Contests, receives his certificate from Lee


Wythall Radio Club Xmas Contest 2023 Presentation Evening

January 18, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

G7OJO All Band and 2E0BLP 2m/70cm FM Christmas Contest 

 

Wythall Radio  Club held their 2023 Xmas Contest Awards evening recently , hosted as ever by Lee G0MTN. The event was well supported with some 24 members attending through Zoom and in person.

The aim of the Contest is quite simply to have fun and boost band activity amongst members (and has absolutely nothing to do with getting away from family for a while during the stressful festive period.)

Anyway the above aims were achieved with most activity taking place on the Club frequency 145.225 and using GB3WL.

HF activity was evident with SSB, FT8 and even CW QSO’s recorded.

Lee also reported an increase in digital voice activity but the seasonal bad weather meant little portable and mobile activity!

Bravery Awarded -2E0NCO out in the Lickey Hill during the 2023 Xmas Contest!

Kevin 2E0NCO did however brave the elements (and was rewarded for his efforts).

Other highlights included the bonus multipliers provided by Allen M0PPX, Dave GM3YXM on 1942kHz (160m) and the very welcome involvement of our two newest members Martin M7FXD and John G7PIR.

Log checking was occasionally  a challenge (guilty as charged) as a few failed to cope with the electronic logging system kindly provided by organiser Lee , but neatly written copies are always welcome. (2E0XET should take note in the future!)

AND SO TO THE RESULTS: 

THE 2E0BLP 2M/70CM TROPHY

           CONGRATULATIONS TO KEVIN 2E0NCO    HONOURING    A LONGSTANDING FAMILY TRADITION

 

The leading Foundation member award went to Martin M7XFD

 

The All Modes SectionTHE G7OJO TROPHY:

 CONGRATULATIONS TO CHRIS G3YHF

       John G7PIR received the Newcomer’s Award

 

 

                    (The full result board will be published here in the coming week)

Lee was thanked for his fantastic work in organising and running  the event and we now look forward to Neil’s G1TZC  Satellite Presentation on Tuesday February 6th in the Darts Room at Wythall House (8.30 p.m.)

 

 

 

 


From the Workbench – Operating the Kanga Rooster, Part 2

January 10, 2024 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Over the last month I’ve had a lot of fun with my Rooster rig.  The build was described in a previous post

It’s xtal-controlled on 7.030 MHz – the 40m qrp frequency – and with a 12 volt supply my power meter reads 1 watt out.

The current set-up with added peripheral circuits and my Palm paddle is shown in the photo left.

I soon decided that I needed to add an electronic keyer.  My traditional telegraph key, hand-made by G0NVT, is a lovely piece of engineering and a delight to use.  However, I’m out of practice and can only manage a couple of QSOs before fatigue sets in!
 
So I built the Kanga OSK electronic keyer module (photo left) in order to use my Bencher Hex paddle.  This worked first time as well, which is always a relief!
 
The Rooster’s sidetone was quite loud relative to daytime signals so I changed capacitor C16, that sets the sidetone volume, for one that’s half the value and this quietened it down.
 
Night-time signals are very loud and the Rooster lacks a volume control.  Club members made a number of suggestions as to how I could add one, and inserting a 50k ohm potentiometer (the value used in the earlier Foxx 3) between the phone jack and the headphones seemed the most feasible solution.  
 
I haven’t yet done this.  I only use the rig in daylight hours as 40m band conditions in the winter evenings are not currently suitable for my qrpp.
 
The other addition is a Sotabeams dual bandwidth audio filter (photo right).  This comes ready-built and just needs wiring up for power, bandwidth switching and audio in and out.  I power it from a pp3 battery.
 
This makes a huge difference to selectivity, and is an improvement on the Roosters own active audio filter.
 
My winter antenna is a 120ft inverted L fed against radials laid around the garden.  With current band conditions I’ve mainly been working inter-G during the day and western European stations later in the afternoon – usually F, DL, I and PA.
 
Many of my contacts are responses to my CQs (inevitably, as I’m restricted to one frequency), and often from qrp stations.
 
Signal strength reports I’ve received vary from s3 to s7.  Using RBN, I can see occasional spots from around 1000 miles – OH, EA, TF and I.  Some are just above the noise while others are reasonably strong.
 
It will be interesting to see if I can get across the pond to W or VE as we move into the spring and band conditions change.
 
I haven’t yet put the keyer or audio filter in enclosures so the operating desk is a bit of a rats nest at the moment, as you can see from the first photo. 
 
Overall, a fun project to see what I can work using a very simple set-up compared with my main rig – an Elecraft K3S!
 

How Low can You Go???

January 01, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club

A member of WRC limbers up for the           January   2024 QRPP Challenge

Yes – it’s that time of the year when members of Wythall Radio Club  , after the competitive activity of the last few days (Xmas Contest), take their foot off the pedal and relax into some genuine QRP/QRPP activity.

So for the month of  January all are encouraged just to experiment, reduce power  see what can be worked and report back and triumphs and disasters (?) alike.

It’s not a competition  but a month of recommended low power relaxation in any mode, any band and  at any time.

 

 More than enough?? How low can  YOU go?

 

 

Watch this space for reports  and stories of the ones that got away , and more likely, the ones that didn’t!!

 

                 A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MEMBERS AND READERS FROM  ALL AT WYTHALL RADIO CLUB


From the Workbench – Kanga Rooster QRP Kit Part 1

December 17, 2023 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News, Training

Kanga? ROOster? Christopher Robin meets ham radio?

No, just the latest kit from Kanga products.

With Wythall Radio Club’s ‘How low can you go? QRP month looming in January, I thought I’d dig out some of my kit QRP radios. 

Back in 2000 I built the Foxx 3 kit from Kanga Products.  This 1-watt CW rig was crystal controlled on 7030KHz.  It was based on the original 1983 Foxx circuit by George GM3OXX (SK) published in Sprat – the magazine of the G-QRP Club.

Club members have had a lot of fun with this kit.  It’s produced contacts with other QRP-ers around Europe.

However, being a direct conversion receiver mine suffered from considerable break-through from the Droitwich Long Wave transmitter about 15 miles away from my QTH.

Now Kanga have produced an updated version of this design called the Rooster

Like Foxx 3, this is a QRP CW rig for 7030KHz.  However, power output has been increased to 2-watts and there is much improved sensitivity and selectivity due to its active audio filter.  This is centred on 750 Hz with a 500 Hz bandwidth.  

And rather than being mounted in an Altoids tin – the preferred method for Foxx 3 builders – the Rooster is supplied with its own aluminium case.

There are less components and tasks to undertake than when building the Foxx 3 as it uses SMD (surface mount devices) that are pre-installed on the PCB and 20 through-hole parts that the builder needs to solder in place.

The kit arrived with components neatly packaged in small bags so checking they were all there was a simple task.  The 26-page downloadable instructions are in Kanga Products’ usual excellent clear and illustrated format, with instruction for testing each stage after it is completed.

A current limited 12v supply is recommended for testing, but there is probably low risk of damage using a conventional 12v (not 13.8V) supply or battery PROVIDED the location and soldering of components is thoroughly checked after each stage

I use a magnifying table lamp for checking my soldering, especially for identifying any solder splashes that might result in short circuits.

I spent about 3 hours building and testing the kit.  I could have taken less time, but I like to savour the process of construction.  In addition, I had a couple of problems (discussed later) that added some time.  Kanga suggest that the rig could be built in an hour, eg at a Build-a-thon.  It could be with experienced builders, but it would be a rush!

I only had 2 problems.  The first was in testing the audio amplifier, where plugging in the headphones and touching a metal screw-driver to particular components should result in a ‘buzz’.  It didn’t.  There was a weak scratching noise but no buzz. 

Using the circuit diagram and my trusty analogue multi-meter, I checked continuity of the audio section, and it was all OK.

The soldering was very straightforward, so I decided just to press on.  My faith was rewarded as the next task was to install the side-tone components.  When I tested this, it worked perfectly.  So clearly, the audio-amp was ok.

The other problem was my error in installing the diode in the neighbouring holes intended for one of the inductors.  Just lack of concentration.  Unfortunately, I’d trimmed the leads before I realised what I’d done!

However, I use minimal amounts of solder, so it was easy to remove the diode and clear the holes by pushing one of the trimmed leads into the hole, heating it with the soldering iron, and pulling it through with fine-nosed pliers.

Luckily, the holes the diode should have gone in were not spaced as far apart, so I could fit it and have a tiny bit of the leads poking through the PCB for soldering!

In the final desk test I could hear CW using the short length of coax to the dummy load/watt meter as an antenna.  Always a good sign!  And the rig produced 2-watts of RF.

So it worked first time – hurrah!

Now let’s get it on the air!

I plugged in my 40-meter dipole and I could hear masses of stations within the receiver’s passband, but unfortunately they were all engaged in an international CW contest!  I copied stations in 9A, SP, E7 and YO, so that proved the receiver was working very well.  And no sign of Droitwich long wave!

Just to check, I plugged in my Foxx 3 and there it was – a football programme over the top of those CW stations!

The Rooster definitely has a much better receiver! 

It also has masses of audio output but no volume control, so DON’T POWER UP WITH HEADPHONES ON!  I need to wear my ‘phones off my ears to reduce the volume.

As the connections between components are not visible on the PCB, I can’t see how to add a small volume potentiometer similar to the one on the Foxx 3.  Maybe someone at the Club will advise!

What are the lessons from this build?

Some of the components have solder-points in close association, so if your soldering is rusty – or you’ve never soldered – find or scrounge some Veroboard and components and practice.  Check continuity afterwards with a multi-meter set to resistance.

A narrow chisel-type soldering iron tip will work much better than something bigger.  It will provide more control where there are components near to each-other.

A temperature-controlled iron will also help with getting enough heat onto the big lugs of the antenna socket so that they have a good electrical and structural connection.

A dummy load is required.  One can be built from resistors, or there are also dummy load/watt meter kits for QRP rigs available.

The fittings that go through the front and back panels (eg DC input, RIT) must be aligned with the edge of the board.  I used the panel to make sure they were in the right place, and a bit of tape helped hold them in place until the first lug was soldered.

Overall, this has been a very enjoyable little kit to build.  It’s priced at £37.99 plus P and P and given it includes a metal case I think that’s a reasonable cost. 

It’s a good first step for anyone starting out with construction, and could then lead to the QRP Labs QCX-mini one band, fully featured CW rig (not crystal controlled!) currently at £44 plus £16 for the case plus P and P.

Once I’ve had a play with the Rooster on 7030 I’ll post an update on how it performs.

 


Festive Spirit at Wythall Radio Club

December 14, 2023 By: john daws Category: Club, Fun, News

A distant thumbs up from Martin G8VXX and a cheery wave from Peter M5DUO. New member John M7PIR is nearest the camera on the right and behind him Martin M7XFD

               Tuesday night saw a healthy gathering of members of Wythall Radio Club for their informal annual Christmas Social. 

 

(Not knowing the collective noun for an assembly of Radio Amateurs the Club would welcome suggestions for future posts.. polite entries only please.)

 

Mince pies, cake and even some (Wensleydale) cheese were also provided by members and,  as is evident from the smiling faces (one Scrooge in the foreground!), a good time was had by all.

The Club were delighted to welcome new members Martin M7XFD and John M7PIR.

Amongst those  present were the President Mike and Chairman Chris behind the camera.