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Propagation forecast for the Solar Cycle peak and the Wythall Radio Club Brains Trust

May 10, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Fun, News

QUESTION TIME AT WYTHALL RADIO CLUB TUESDAY 7TH MAY

and in answer to many questions:

 A SUNSPOT CYCLE PEAK FORECAST BY TIM BEAUMONT

 

 

Transformers.. overheating baluns.. indoor antennas… the intricacies of FT8 foxhunting …safety and mobile car operation.. receiver sensitivity and the wise use of the filters.. 30m noise levels…DSP v analogue filters…solar panels and EMI emissions.. content and lay-out of the ideal shack.. current propagation and 10 metre pop-up surprises..G0KYA band forecasts and Tim’s M0URX very own Mystic Meg forecast for the coming year????

15 of the  great and the good (see picture right) gathered for a meeting of the Wythall Radio Club recently to share their collective knowledge on a variety of subjects and within the hour provided a pretty exhaustive unpacking of the issues above. One shared ‘question’ was over the impact of the current solar sunspot peak 2024/2025 and we were lucky to have our very own Tim Beaumont to send us his thoughts reproduced below

We could have gone on (!) but the bar beckoned and enough questions been made to tax the little grey matter..

Tim’s propagation thoughts for the coming year are reproduced below (with kind permission of the author) and should whet the appetite for those with HF in mind.

(At the time of writing the sunspot counts stands at well over 227)

“Certainly this summer will be full of easy Sporadic E propagation not just single hop 1,500 to 2,000 miles but also watch out for multi-hop multi path Es which will happen- but I am not a mystic Meg to say when. 

So 6m and 10m is a must this summer.  If sunspots are consistently high listen out at night time on all bands: you may be surprised.  

Also with Sporadic E there will be very short hop propagation- as little as 100 miles.  This is great for catching DX in your dead zone, like Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man and Scotland: this can be great fun to catch the short hop Es. 

Short hop summer  Es will also help work stations from many parts of England.  Many say this is “unusual conditions” but it isn’t just normal and happens every summer.   

There will be plenty of F layer propagation especially In the sunrise and sunset plus and minus an hour or two and should filter up to the higher bands too.  But this will be best around the autumnal equinox. 

 The Autumn of 2024 will definitely be a good one for DX.

Just tune around and watch the clusters. There will be times of band disturbances too.  Make advantage of these. You will often hear pre-geomagnetic enhancements where the bands just explode with great conditions just before a solar storm hits earth.  This can also cause excellent Aurora conditions especially on the higher bands listen for that distinctive rasping sounds of the aurora to the voice or CW tones.

So without doubt Autumn 2024 will provide some incredible conditions. 

 It is beyond my understanding whether we will get a double peak on this cycle like we have done in the previous cycles.  But if we do my guess either this Autumn 2024 or Spring 25. 

 In Winter 2024, of course head down to the low bands but keep a watch on all bands at sunrise and sunset for the DX.”

COMING SOON AT WYTHALL RADIO CLUB…..  

1.TUESDAY 4TH JUNE-MAST ERECTION REHEARSAL FOR GB0BUS!

2.FRIDAY14TH JUNE SET UP FOR GB0BUS AT WYTHALL TRANSPORT MUSEUM

3.SATURDAY 15TH JUNE GB0BUS ACTIVATION

4.TUESDAY 18TH JUNE DIY 70CM ANTENNA BUILD AND FOXHUNT

DETAILS AND TIMES TO FOLLOW.

 

 


SOTA Expedition to Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-OO4 Thursday 2nd May

May 03, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Fun, News

Watched by probably 2 thousand sheep and dwarfed by the looming presence in the fog of the radio and radar installations  Clive M0KNP aided by his able assistant John M6KET activated Titterstone Clee Hill yesterday (G/WB-OO4) and were rewarded by some instant contacts on 2 metres with Clive’s Yaesu FT70d hand and a single 40m SSB contact with GM4ZMK nr Glasgow.

The operating station (no room for the morse key on there)

Clive in assembly mode

Conditions on 2m were good with stations worked and heard in Malvern, Telford, Shrewsbury, Redditch and portable in Wales

40m SSB was more challenging on the FT 817 and despite posting- and hearing stations in Belgium and Germany only GM4ZMK was worked.

M6KET provided adequate secretarial assistance recording all QSO’s , but declined the CW  opportunity citing cold hands and failure to remember his flask of coffee still standing on the kitchen table at home as a weak excuse.

Eventually the challenging conditions took their toll and the expedition retreated down the mountain by a safer route (tarmac road and gravel footpath) and dispersed happy to have achieved at least 4 SOTA contacts without frostbite and falling off the edge into Ludlow.

QSO’s 2m: MW0BG/P (Sota to Sota), M7SDO, M6NSV, M7WUK, M5JRC, G0EYO.

40m SSB (7090) GM4ZMK

Radios FT 817. FT70d

Antenna SPX 300 mounted on a camera tripod (G0EYO design)

 

Coming next…..

 

ASK THE PANEL EVENING: TUESDAY 7 TH. MAY 8.00 START VIA ZOOM OR IN PERSON. WYTHALL HOUSE.

PLEASE NOTE EARLIER STARTING TIME.


The Easter Contest Award Evening 2024

April 27, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

The Easter  Contest 2024 Awards Evening

The David Dawkes G0ICJ Shield

The Colin Baker G6ZDQ Shield

 

Welcome  to visitors Andrew and son  Harvey  who came along to see what made Wythall Radio Club tick.

Gremlins (or a cyber attack from an unfriendly hostile state!!) did their best to disrupt proceedings but the results shone through and two of our most experienced Contest operators triumphed yet again.

Chris G0EYO won the David Dawkes  G0ICJ shield  for all band operation.

Keeping it in the family Kevin 2E0NCO triumphed again in the G6ZDQ Shield in the 2m/70cm  contest .

Martin M7FXD got a certificate for being the leading Foundation Licence operator.

A huge thanks to Lee G0MTN for yet again organising and encouraging: undoubtedly the contest weekend succeeds in boosting activity on the bands and getting folks to have fun with RF.

(It is hoped to publish the full results on the website very soon)

COMING SOON….. SOTA day on Titterstone Clee Hill on Thursday May 2nd (details from Clive M0KNP….Ask the Experts (a question and answer hour) on Tuesday  8th May …..GB0BUS activation at Wythall Transport Museum on Saturday June 15th and on Tuesday 18th June Neil G1TCZ leads a 70cm Foxhunt Evening in Wythall Park.

Interested visitors very welcome at all these events


Club programme expanded and updated

April 20, 2024 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Foxhunts, SOTA activations and antenna building are amongst the new activities in Wythall Radio Club’s programme for the coming months.

Club members will be activating a local SOTA summit – probably Titterstone Clee hill – in May.  Listen out for John 2E0XET, Clive M0KNP – and any other members who decide to come along!  We may also activate the club call G4WAC.

Have your questions ready for our ‘Q and A Round Table‘ at 8.30 on Tuesday 7 May.  We hope to draw on the collective knowledge of Club members in answering questions – from the very basic to the more complex.

Following our busy International Museums on the Air special event station, Neil G1TZC is hosting a DIY 70cm antenna build workshop followed by a foxhunt in Wythall Park to test them out.  All the parts to build these tape measure antennas are being provided.  Tuesday 18th June is the date.

Finally, Kev 2E0NCO has restarted the Wythall Club net, meeting every Sunday evening on 145.225 FM (and GB3WL if necessary).

Full details of our programme as at 20th April here  – or in the right-hand column of our home page.

 

 

 

 


Restoration of the Morse Code Buzzer Repeater Key by Chris Pettitt G0EYO

April 12, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club

      The author Chris in the workshop

              Restoring the Admiralty Pattern 1271 Buzzer Repeater Key by Chris Pettitt

Member may recall I purchased a Lot of six vintage morse keys at a local auction, sight unseen a couple of months ago. I have already written of my experiences in restoring the Vibroplex Champion semi-automatic bug key. (See Library index). The next key in the Lot to get my attention was the Admiralty Pattern 1271 Buzzer Repeater Key. A strange looking device indeed, not only a key but an earpiece, a B15 bulb holder and an on/off switch (see picture below)

         “a strange looking device indeed”

your supervisor is calling

 I did some research and found a circuit for the unit and according to Brundit’s Morse Key website it has been suggested, but not confirmed, that this type of unit was used on large warships for internal communications between the main W/T office and other      offices. As well as the earpiece (acting as LS) it has a miniature bulb which was used to attract attention when the Radio Supervisor was calling. (See Circuit above). I reckoned the buzzer unit was from the 1940s.   

Further research via Google, took me to a 1930 Royal Navy Document W5 which showed that similar units were located at various stations on the vessel and were connected to an audio oscillator in the Ship’s Coding office. They were clearly used internal signalling purposes using the key. Warships would have had several means of internal communications, i.e. Voice tubes, tannoy, etc in case of damage during action. I hope to find out more about how these units were used, particularly what signalling codes may have been use.

I stripped the whole unit down to individual parts and using a combination of warm water, vinegar and metal polish cleaned all the parts and rebuilt it. The only thing I had to replace was the internal wiring which was fabric covered solid core copper wire which had deteriorated. This was replaced with modern plastic covered equivalent.  I also discovered that the bulb needed to be 12-14V DC with a 15mm bayonet fitting, so found a suitable red one from a ship chandlers’. It cleaned up rather nicely as you can see below.

          …..and the finished article ready for the museum

 

COMING SOON.. DATES FOR THE DIARY:

1.THE EASTER CONTEST AWARDS EVENING .. WHO WILL WIN THE MUCH COVETED (AND MYTHICAL??) CHOCOLATE EGGS- TUESDAY APRIL 23RD. 8.30

2. “ASK THE EXPERTS”

(OR ANYONE FROM WYTHALL RADIO CLUB REALLY) ASK THOSE QUESTIONS ABOUT RADIO YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO ASK. TUESDAY 8TH MAY AT 8.30 PM

BOTH MEETINGS IN THE DARTS’ ROOM AT WYTHALL HOUSE; ALL VERY WELCOME AND ZOOM AVAILABLE.


The Foundation Licence Experience

April 01, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Fun, Training

Following Chris’ (G0EYO) previous article on Training  for the Amateur radio Licence, Martin M7XFD describes his journey to the Foundation Licence (and beyond)

WHAT NO CW!! OR HOW I FOUND THE FOUNDATION LICENCE ..OR THE FOUNDATION LICENCE FOUND ME

Martin (left) receiving award certificate from Lee G0MTN

Always at the back of my mind has been the idea of getting licensed as a Radio Amateur.

As a young person I was a Short Wave Listener. My father had been involved in Radar during World War II and at a very young age I discovered a crystal set in his box of ‘bits and pieces’.

We used the metal frame of my bed for the earth, strung a long wire down the garden and with a pair of ex-army headphones rotated the stiff aluminium thing with corroded vanes to pick up the BBC Light Service on the medium wave. Hearing speech and music, with no batteries or electric power involved, was sheer magic to young boy!

Following on from that we had a valve radio that had shortwave that I was able to use and added a long wire antenna. I finally bought an ex-army radio, the size and shape of the top half of a large fridge. A battleship grey Marconi 52 I think. It weighed 50lbs, had glowing valves and UV sensitive dials that also could glow in the dark. I listened to Hams around the world and I wrote to them for QSL cards to confirm I had picked up and heard their signal.

The mighty battleship grey Marconi 52

It was the CW (Morse requirements) that put me off getting my licence (sorry editor)-  [Ed.unforgiveable!!]

Years flew by……….

With a career in electronics which led to computers, I retained my interest in radio and bought an airband radio that had three crystals allocated to Birmingham Airport’s Control tower, approaches and one other: (perhaps I only used two slots as the crystals were expensive.)

Living close to an airport I have updated my scanner and noticed technology changing with the advance of digital radio.

A few years ago I noticed that Wythall Radio Club ran training courses for the Amateur radio Licences and I toyed with the idea of finally becoming licensed.

Time passed. I gained another handheld receiver.

Some of my post-retirement hobbies changed, freeing up time, and in the summer of last year I emailed the club to inquire if I could get involved. As a result Chris G3YHF invited me to a talk at Wythall House in September and a few weeks after that to a ‘Plug and Play’ Open day in the fields at Wythall Community Centre.

G3YHF’s neat portable CW Plug and Play table

I was not the only prospective new member so the talk was on Amateur Radio in the modern world of today. What struck me was that despite the  decline in  numbers of active Hams , the focus has shifted to pursuing  different  ways of doing things in this digital age and the technical challenges within the hobby. I could see this as a way of finding out what would interest me most.

I took my wife to the open day so she could understand better what I was thinking about getting into. She had a good time and could see the range of interests and the camaraderie involved. The fact that every rig and antenna set-up was portable was good for me to see as my main interest is in handheld and portable systems. ‘How much is it going to cost?’, she said. ‘Oh not much’, I replied. ‘There are very cheap handheld radios from China’.

 Neil,G1TZC , taking time out from his satellite dish, reassured me that Morse code was not mandatory and showed me a copy of the Foundation licence manual, explaining me that studying and taking the exam was straightforward especially given my background in electronics. Other Club members encouraged me to have a go and again I checked : definitely no  CW requirement!! 

I sent for the manual from the RSGB the next day.

Wythall Radio Club do not run their own courses anymore as most of the courses have gone on-line, so in September and October  I took the Essex Ham course and passed my Foundation Licence in November last year.

                            

Neil’s Pop- up shack with captive audience . (Martin in there somewhere?)

From contacting a Wythall Radio Club to being licensed took less than three months.

To reassure those that might be thinking of getting into the hobby, even taking the exam itself was a pleasant experience as there is a pre-exam chat with a person who is also a keen radio amateur and the same person is on hand to facilitate the online exam session.

Martin’s current rig

I traded my scanners in for a very good Handheld radio transceiver (right). Even though I could get something much cheaper this was going to be my sole equipment for a while. As you will recall I said I wanted portability rather than a fixed set-up at home

However to get more coverage, with advice from Ian M0LQY, I have subsequently put together a hotspot. With the handheld radio I have three options. I can make contacts directly locally and on the move, via near and sometimes far repeaters, or through the hotspot over the internet. With the latter I can make contacts all over the world, but I have enjoyed most being able to contact  club members directly and via the Wythall repeater. I am also getting to know other Radio Amateurs locally and further afield – sometimes as I pass by on my travels

        MMDVM Pi-Star Rig

It was seeing a YouTube video on a ham using a Handheld radio and a hotspot in his house, contacting the World that was one of the triggers to contact WRC which led on to the Foundation Licence.

To continue to extend my knowledge I am now studying for the Intermediate Exam which is taking longer, but  equally enjoyable.

   For me Amateur Radio has so much a lot to offer.

I am enjoying VHF/UHF and surprising world wide contacts when I want. With the summer coming then HF with a portable set up may be something to try.

Shall I learn morse code? … I am not rushing!! (you never know Ed. !!)


SPRING IS HERE AND SO IS THE WYTHALL RADIO CLUB 2024 EASTER CONTEST (WELL NEARLY!)

March 24, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Contest, Fun, News

THE WYTHALL RADIO CLUB EASTER CONTEST IS ANNOUNCED

SPRING IS HERE!!

“ONLY CONNECT”

Calling all 52 members of Wythall Radio Club !!!

Get active .. get on the air.. talk to folk.. communicate..exchange greetings..meet up on the air with old friends… …only connect….. and have fun with RF!!

G0ICJ All Band Easter Contest Shield

G6ZDQ 2m/70cm Bands Easter Contest  Shield

 This contest is in recognition of two dedicated members of Wythall Radio Club:

COLIN  BAKER:  THE G6ZDQ The EASTER VHF CONTEST SHIELD (pictured left above)

DAVID DAWKES:  THE G0ICJ EASTER HF CONTEST SHIELD (pictured right above)

Where does the time go? It seems only yesterday that we were taking down the decorations , disposing of the tree, watching the rain and preparing to receive the Xmas Contest Results

Now the Wythall Radio Club 2024 Easter Contest is upon us..it’s still raining  but there are trophies and certificates to be won 

The aim of the Contest is quite simply to promote activity amongst members of the Club and of course is open to all members.. especially our new members!

The contest starts 1000 local Maundy Thursday (28th March 2024)

The contest ends 2000 local Easter Monday (1st April 2024)

Full details have been posted on the Club reflector as per usual but one new initiative  this time:

MEMBERS CAN MAKE CONTACT WITH TWO DIFFERENT NON-CLUB  MEMBERS EACH DAY FOR AN EXTRA POINT PER QSO.

THE ONLY STIPULATION IS THAT IT IS A ‘MEMORABLE’ QSO EXCHANGING AT LEAST A NAME AND SIGNAL REPORT AVOIDING THE QUICK FIRE 599/PILE UP QSO’s (SO FT4/FT8 QSO’S ARE NOT VALID!)

 

 Maundy Thursday ..1000 local time ..’Only Connect !!’

 


The Vibroplex Champion Semi-Automatic Bug Key-A Restoration Story

March 11, 2024 By: john daws Category: Club, Fun, News

WHAT HAPPENED WHEN CHRIS G0EYO WAS CONFRONTED BY  THESE 5  MORSE KEYS BOUGHT FROM A  STOURBRIDGE AUCTION HOUSE AND EMBARKED UPON A LABOUR OF LOVE  AND RESTORATION………….

…..and chose this Vibroplex Semi-Automatic  Bug key for restoration? (pictured below)

The Vibroplex key in its original condition

In this wide ranging and fascinating article Chris takes us through not only the restoration project, but his own  experience of CW in the past  working once as a CW intercept operator in the Government agencies of Bletchley Park and GCHQ and, since then  his determination to improve his sending of CW.

Fresh from the Auction House.. 5 Morse keys in need of some TLC!

With a brief history of the development of Morse keys from simple circuit breakers .. straight keys to the foundation of the Vibroplex Company and the semi- automatic Bug in 1905 Chris leads us to  the present day and the not previously- viewed arrival of a collection of old keys from a Stourbridge Auction house.

His gaze is drawn magnetically to a  Vibroplex Champion Semi-automatic Bug key (serial number 164719)  much in need of some TLC.

THE AUTHOR IN HIS WORKSHOP

 

It is this process that Chris documents in some detail describing the painstaking process and subsequent realisation of an immaculate example of this iconic key.

Read the full article in the Website Library .


On-the-air evening at Wythall Club

March 01, 2024 By: Chris G3YHF Category: Club, Fun, News

Visitors are welcome at Wythall Radio Club’s on-the-air evening, next Tuesday 5th March from 8.00pm.

We’ll be using the Club’s 260ft doublet and TS590 rig.

Let’s see what we can work – have a go if you hold a licence (Foundation licensees can use 100w with our Club call).

 

Find us in the Darts Room on the ground floor, or in our usual spot on the far side of the bar.

Refreshments are available.

(PS well spotted – that’s not a TS590 in the photo!)


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