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amateur radio in Mid Somerset

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Diary Dates

Future events - the next few months . . .

 

Monday 10th July

The 2nd meeting of the Mid-Somerset Amateur Radio Club at its new venue the 1st Shepton Scout Hall in Old Wells Road Shepton Mallet next to the football ground at 19.35. A temporary antenna erected and a test made to assess the radio reception conditions of the venue. All welcome. Don't arrive before 19.30 as there's another group using the hall until then. Also, if the access road gates are shut, please wait for a member of the committee to arrive to open them

 

Click here to see the year ahead in more detail

News Update

News of AR events, rallies, kit news, competitions and social gatherings.

A report on the Special Event Station GB4BSC for British Science Week at the Blue School, Wells, Somerset

In March of this year members of the Mid-Somerset Amateur Radio Society (MidSARC) operated a special event station for British Science Week at the Blue School Wells Somerset using the call-sign GB4BSC.

 

Blue School, WellsSetting up was done on the afternoon of Monday 14th March in the student facility known as the BSC at the school. Antennas were provided by Graham G3TCT and consisted of a combined feed to two half-wave dipoles, one for 40m and one for 20m. This was supported in the centre by a 20ft sectional mast, but less high at the ends, due to location restrictions. Equipment consisted of an Alinco DX-70TH provided by Brian G0FZI and a FT-840 as standby (used on Wednesday).

 

Operation was over the following two days, Tuesday and Wednesday 15th and 16th March. Conditions on the Tuesday on 40m were excellent, 147 stations worked including Ukraine. However, conditions on Wednesday were poor, limited to long skip due to a solar flare (CME) the night before, but we did manage to work a couple of Scottish stations and a few German stations on 40m, conditions being no better on 20m.

 

We had several visits by students, ranging in age from 11-12 years to 16+ years, more in fact on the second day than the first. We were able to show the Youth film produced for the RSGB by TX Factor several times, which was well received. We also, when time permitted, showed an edited version of the video of the Oasis Academy contact with Tim Peake on the ISS. We explained that we could not contact or listen in to Tim live, since no school contact was planned for British Science Week (perhaps an over-sight by the organisers, although probably due to Timís very tight schedule).

 

Blue School, WellsDavid G8BFV, assisted by Graham G3TCT (Secretary and Chairman of Mid-SARC respectively), gave an introductory talk to the students, covering the history of radio from its early conception in the 1920s to the present day, explaining the changes in components and construction techniques. We then allowed the students to practise sending morse between two separate wire connected oscillators and manual keys, or by using Grahamís KX3 side-tone with paddle or manual key. This was really liked by the younger students as was the soldering exercise set up by David using the ugly or dead-bug style of construction. The younger girls in particular thought that seeing the solder melt and run was really 'cool'. The older students, apart from two or three, were a bit less interested, although together with the younger students enjoyed saying hello over the air to one or two stations (in UK on Tuesday and in Germany on Wednesday). We were able to promote both MidSARC and the Wells and Mendip Astronomers, one senior student being interested in radio and astronomy.

 

Initial feedback from the school has been very good, in fact they may even set up their own amateur radio/electronics club, with MidSARCís assistance.

 

Members of MidSARC who participated were Graham G3TCT, David G8BFV, Brian G0FZI, Jeff M0PRF and Robin G3TKF.

 

GB3JTW, International Marconi Day (IMD) April 2015, a report by David G8BFV

Like last year the antenna was set up in the garden of Peter Street Rooms, except that this time it was a 40m dipole, courtesy of Graham G3TCT. Using the club's TS-850, more stations were worked than last year as conditions seemed rather better. We hope to operate GB3JTW again next year.

 

GB0BM, Mills On The Air May (MOTA) 2015, a report by David G8BFV

Graham's 40m dipole was again utilised for GB0BM, instead of the ½ size G5RV, but operation was from the club's new gazebo rather than from the storage building at Burcott Mill. As operation was rather more limited than last year, fewer stations were worked, but still enough over the two days to make the operation worthwhile. We hope to operate GB0BM again next year.

 

GB0SSP (not GB0SPP due to an administrative error), Churches On The Air (CHOTA) September 2015, a report by G8BFV

Due to circumstances, the station was set up in Peter Street Rooms with the antenna (the 40m dipole) set up in the garden, as for IMD, rather than in the Church as before. Initially, operation was thwarted by several antenna feeder problems, broken or loose connectors, once these were replaced operation was started about two hours late. However, 40m conditions were long skip and only near continental stations were worked, there was no inter-G. We also suffered from a lack of operators. As a result only 20 contacts were made. We can only hope to do better next year.

 

GB0ESR, Railways On The Air (ROTA) September 2015, a report by David G8BFV

Due to circumstances, the 40m dipole was unable to be erected and instead a Pro-whip vertical antenna had to be employed at short notice. This, unfortunately, did not work out very well, reports were in the main poor or stations did not return our calls, although we did get the odd 5 and 9. As a result only 12 contacts were made, mainly with other ROTA stations, during the brief period of operation on Saturday morning/early afternoon. Again we suffered from a lack of operators. We can only hope to do better next year. As a footnote, I managed to work more ROTA stations from home using my own call G8BFV around lunchtime on the Sunday, including GB2EVR/M, operated by the organising Bishops Auckland Club, supposedly the first time a radio station has been operated train mobile since 1924. I apologised for GB0ESR not being on due to the problems with the antenna.

 

GB4WCS for British Science Week March 2015 – a report by David G8BFV

Over the period Wednesday 18th March to Saturday 21st March, a special-event amateur radio station callsign GB4WCS was set up at Wells Cathedral School by the Club to coincide with British Science Week and the partial eclipse of the sun.
Antennas were erected in the grounds of Cedars House using 5.2m support masts provided by the school's Combined Cadet Force (CCF), who also helped put them up. Feeder cables were taken into the science block where the station operated from the lecture theatre.

 

The antennas consisted of a half-wave dipole for 7MHz, a multi-band HF antenna and a VHF antenna. Two High Frequency (HF) stations were set up in the lecture theatre, both using an Alinco DX-70TH running 100W, together with one VHF 144MHz station using a Kenwood TS-711E. They were visited by several groups of students to learn about the various aspects of the amateur radio hobby. Roger G3IUZ did a great job in giving them a brief introductory talk with examples of his early home-brew valve transmitter and a 1923 vintage crystal set provided by David G8BFV. One or two lucky pupils were able to actually take the microphone and say hello to the amateur operating the station at the other end of the link, demonstrating that communication is possible without the Internet or mobile phones to all parts of the world if propagation conditions allow. Roger also provided a link to his continuously running WSPR system, but this showed that propagation apart from 40m was still rather poor during the event due to the after-effects of the solar flare the weekend before.

 

On Friday 20th March, to coincide with the partial eclipse of the sun, a couple of experiments were undertaken to show how darkness affects how HF signals propagate - further at night than during the day due to changes to the ionosphere D and E layers. The beacon on Top Band was monitored and came up in strength during the eclipse period. Propagation on 40m was also affected, and at the peak of the eclipse contacts were made into Europe and no contacts within the UK. After the eclipse ended conditions changed and contacts were again made with other stations in the UK. Also on Friday, an Amateur Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) exercise was set up using the loaned RSGB ARDF equipment and pupils had fun trying to locate the five hidden transmitters using directional receivers, all five were successfully found.


Over the period of operation which was limited to school hours, a total of 247 QSOs were made with all parts of the UK, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and Norway, mainly on 40m. The furthest contact on 21MHz was with Cyprus, conditions being rather poor. Operators/helpers included Brian Hooper G0FZI, David Edwards G8BFV, Graham Kimbell G3TCT, Terry Thompson M0ALZ, Jeff Petch-Harrison M0PRF and Roger Davis G3IUZ. Our contact at the school was Ken Padgett, Head of Science. We were also ably assisted by Alan the lab technician.

 

GB0ESR for Railways On The Air September 2014

Unfortunately due to the absence of the NOV holder, this event had to be cancelled at short notice. We hope to be active again in 2015.

 

GB0SPP for Churches and Chapels On The Air (CHOTA) September 2014 – a report by David G8BFV

A special event amateur radio station was set up at St Peter and St Paul's Church in Shepton Mallet after the success of the one set up in 2013. This time a 40m dipole was used, supported in the centre by the church tower which worked out really well; 124 contacts being made. Operators/helpers included Graham G3TCT who provided the antenna, Brian G0FZI, David G8BFV, Jeff M0PRF, Terry M0ALZ. The club is now firmly established as a regular CHOTA registered station and we look forward to next year’s operation.

 

GB0BM for Mills On The Air (MOTA) May 2014 – a report by David G8BFV

A special event amateur radio station was set up at Burcott Mill near Wookey for MOTA as for previous years. The ½ size G5RV was again deployed across the small car park with the club’s TS850. Conditions were good and thanks to the long operation into the early hours of Sunday by Shaun G0BKU, many stations were worked: 385 in total for the event. This included most of the other MOTA stations. Best DX was Newfoundland on 40m. The club is now firmly established as a regular MOTA registered station and we look forward to next year’s operation.

 

GB3JTW for International Marconi Day April 2014 – a report by David G8BFV

A special event amateur radio station was set up at the club’s Peter Street meeting rooms for IMD with the callsign GB3JTW to commemorate the original callsign G3JTW of the Marconi Apprentices Association (MAA) Amateur Radio Club in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The station operated on 40m using the ½ size G5RV and the club’s TS850, but conditions resulted in not getting out too well. However, 73 stations including several ex-MAA members were contacted, so the event was deemed a qualified success. Maybe we shall do better next year!

 

The QSL card shows how things have changed since the 70s, the centre picture shows David G8BFV operating GB3FCS First Chelmsford Scouts and then again in the right hand picture (on the left) operating GB3JTW with Terry and Dave.

 

Railways On The Air 2013 - a report by David Edwards G8BFV

Churches On The AirMidSARC successfully took part in Railways On The Air over the weekend of 21st & 22nd September and operated the amateur radio transmitting station GB0ESR from the waiting room in the old Cranmore Station building on the East Somerset Railway. Over 160 contacts were made, including 24 with other railway stations. Particular highlights were contacts with the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway GB4LBR in Devon, with G75SNG - celebrating the 75th anniversary of the A4 locomotive Mallard designed by Sir Nigel Gresley breaking the World Steam Record in 1938 - and with G100RSGB (celebrating the centenary of the Radio Society of Great Britain to which MidSARC is affiliated).

 

Churches On The Air 2013 - a report by Graham Kimbell G3TCT

Churches On The AirSaturday 14th September 2013 saw our first attempt at Churches and Chapels on the Air (organised nationally by WACRAL - The World Association of Christian Radio Amateurs and Listeners) Our station was manned by Jeff M0PRF, Brian G0FZI, David G8BFV and me. Using the callsign GB0SPP we were based in the grounds of St Peter and St Paul's Parish Church in Shepton Mallet. Having rigged the antennas the day before, our first challenge on the ops day was to set up the gazebo but after discovering many of the parts were missing we gave up and moved everything into the church itself.

 

The main antenna was an inverted V using a half-size G5RV with the apex about three quarters the way up the church tower on the north side. The other antenna was PAR Endfedz dipole for 20, 40 and 10 metres but this was impractical to use after we had relocated into the church. The G5RV performed quite well, and on the 2nd QSO Brian worked into the US on 40m! Other notable QSOs were JW9 on Bear Island (Arctic, halfway between northern Norway and Svalbard), and then working the same US station on 17m. The club rig exhibited some intermittent effects, so Jeff brought in the TS140 which worked well, but did have an intermittent at one point. The local noise level on 40m was S7 at times. At the end of the session we had about 52 QSOs in 13 countries.

 

Radio In The Country 2013 - a report by Shaun Coles G0BKU

A most enjoyable day was had by everyone at Upton Bridge Farm! This year we had the bonus of the hot weather which everyone was glad about, however, we were located in the field behind the barns and although the the field was dry it was certainly very hot!

 

As before, Timís catering and facilities were top notch, especially the lamb and mint burgers that I was a bit partial to!

 

Luke 2E0VHV, Brian G0FZI and I arrived at 8.30 and set up the Club station radio and aerials; a more pleasant task than last year as we didnít get muddy feet. We utilised poles by lashing them to the farm gates to erect the half-size G5RV which made life very easy.

 

This year's event was a mixture of small surplus-traders, local clubs, interesting exhibits and, of course, Timís display of QRP kits. Later in the afternoon a raffle was held.

 

Brian Hooper G0FZIG0FZI and I (mainly G0FZI!) operated the Club Call sign /p and we made about 40 contacts on 40 metres. Next year we must remember to operate under a gazebo as reading the display on the radio in the bright sunlight proved to be difficult. Ever resourceful, G0FZI borrowed an umbrella from M0ALZ Terryís XYL to shade the radio front panel! Luke brought along some fine exhibits to display on our stand which caught a few eyes, especially the AR88D, AR77, R107, HRO set and a 1940ís Radiogram. Some of our other Club members arrived to enjoy the event which made our total attendance about nine.

 

From about 1 pm things started to get quieter, mainly due to the heat that we were not used to, so we wound our activities down. We thanked Tim G3PCJ, his XYL and family for organising the event and facilities and promised he we would certainly be at Long Sutton again next year!

 

Mills On The Air GB0BM - 2013

The event took place over the weekend 11th and 12th May 2013 and was our third visit to Burcott Mill in Wookey for this annual event. Brian G0FZI obtained permission from the Mill owners for us to re-visit and Terry M0ALZ applied to Ofcom for the Notice of Variation to his personal licence.

 

Brian Hooper G0FZIBrian and Terry arrived on site bright and early on the Tuesday beforehand to set up the aerial and equipment. We had taken the precaution of leaving the aerial halyards in place from last year which made erecting the half size G5RV a simple matter. However the branches had grown a little necessitating some de-snagging, but with locally sourced sticks all was soon cleared! Luke M3VHV had created some space in his store for us to use as a shack and in no time we had the radio, aerial tuning unit and power supply installed. The radio was initially tuned up on low power, then on full power. All seemed well. Two test transmissions resulted in contacts with Chelmsford, Essex and Cork. Wonderful! The station was closed down and we went home to wait for the weekend.

 

The following Saturday Terry and Brian arrived early on site to get everything up and running before the crowds arrived hi hi!! Again we went through the tuning up process making sure we were on low power but then disaster. Nothing - except panic! We thought at first it was an aerial fault - perhaps high SWR shutting down the TX. Everything checked out OK. We then considered it was low drive due to a low mic output. Fortunately we had a spare mic with us and this solved the problem. Activity started in earnest averaging a contact a minute but activity soon slowed slightly only to pick up again later.

 

And so it continued for the two days in waves of varying activity. We did try other bands but found 40 metres suited us best. Propagation was variable with different parts of the country dominating at different times of the day. Some QSB was apparent at times. The level of activity was high and co-channel interference was a problem at times. We also found it was best to stay on one frequency calling CQ.

 

There were times when we had pile-ups and this caused some excitement! Sunday came and brought its share of unwanted problems. After working a good number of stations the power supply seemed to drop out momentarily. We thought perhaps it needed to warm up as after some time the problem cleared. Another inconvenience was caused by the transmitter tripping but again, after some time, the problem cleared. As a precaution Paul M0DBP went home and returned with his rig but fortunately we didn't need to to use it.

 

Thanks to all our operators Shaun M0BKU, DaveG8BFV, Graham G3TCT, Terry M0ALZ, Brian G0FZI and Jeff M0PRP. In conclusion we had a successful weekend but the weather could have been warmer - we brought a fan heater for Sunday!

 

Results for the weekend were as follows:

Total contacts 227

Continental 4

Irish 9

Best DX Stockholm Sweden

 

Terry Thompson M0ALZ

 

QRP In The Country 2012 - Graham G3TCT reports . . .

We had a successful day at this event. I had not been before, so it was interesting to find not a conventional rally but more a collection of special interest exhibits together with a few component suppliers and surplus traders. We all gathered in a very large barn - quite a modern one with plenty of room for everyone plus the essential catering. Shaun, Brian, Paul, Jeff, Dave and I put everything together for the station and Luke brought some vintage equipment along. Although Tim had arranged an antenna outside, there was quite a demand for it, so we put our half G5RV up as well. The field was muddy but the weather was very good compared with the average for this summer! Eventually there were 4 masts up in the field! Several club members visited during the day bringing our total attendance to about ten.

 

Brian Hooper G0FZIBrian bravely fought through the IARU contest QRM on 40 and 20m to work into Europe and beyond using 10W. I took along my K3 and panadaptor. I managed only one QSO on the K3 - every time I started, people came up wanting to talk about it - but that was more interesting than working a contest!

 

One of Luke's exhibits was a ~1950 Pye TV set which he tells me is in working order. This attracted a fair amount of interest - I saw someone taking photos of the inside of it! Next time we'll have to have it switched on with some video! I didn't note all the other exhibits but recall some very professional test equipment being used to check visitors' equipment; a novel mag loop; a digital mode demonstration; a very impressive home brew balanced ATU remotely controlled by wi-fi; and a station with home brew valve transmitter plus AR88 receiver. And of course the Walford range of kits on display.

 

In the afternoon, signals seemed to get much weaker and I was fearful that the proximity of other people's antennas had maybe damaged the front end of my receiver. But I also wondered whether there was an aurora - when I got home I found that there was indeed a major storm, with signals up to 58A on 70MHz. So the front end seems ok!

 

By mid afternoon, things had quietened down and we thanked Tim for his organising and facilities and took the station apart. I think we all enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who was unable to attend. Tim asked that we pass on our views to others - so I have!

 

Mills On The Air - GB0BM 2012

On the weekend of 12th and 13th May 2012, several midSARC members took part in the annual Mills on The Air special event station.

 

The event took place at Burcott Mill on the edge of the village of Wookey, not to be confused with the similar village of Wookey Hole which is nearby. A small group of us set to work to erect an antenna (half size G5RV) using the halyards left in position from last year. We had learnt a hard lesson of trying to erect antennae from tree branches. As a result of our preparations, everything went extremely smoothly.

 

Mills On The AirThe next task was to assemble the kit. Between us we had brought cabling, tools, and as much paraphernalia as we thought remotely necessary. An annex to Burcott Mill was to be our Shack for the entire event. It was currently being used as a store but a space had already been cleared for us to set up as an operating position close to the main glass doors.

 

No major problems were encountered although one of the power supplies seemed to be overheating, and after moving the unit away from the glass doors all seemed well. Due to last year's experiences we allowed ourselves plenty of time to install and set up the equipment. Leaving the halyards in place from last year saved us immeasurable hassle and time with the result that we were ready to go on air well in advance of our deadline. We made several test transmissions and all was well. With nothing else to do we made sure the shack was secure and waited for the weekend to arrive.

 

On the Saturday morning we were greeted with glorious weather. The rig was fired up, and by about 10.00 hrs local time we started working stations in earnest. Rightly or wrongly we operated only on 40 metres. It was not a competition, there was plenty of activity and we just wanted to have some fun using our special event callsign GB0BM.

 

Mills On The AirSaturday morning's activity from the continent was fantastic and there was a good smattering of UK stations as well. At any given time we fielded an operator and a log keeper who were both kept busy but never complained! Consequently those of us just watching felt the need for refreshments. Weren't we lucky there was a pub directly opposite the Mill and some of us abandoned those on the mic and the logbook and sought refuge there!

 

As the day wore on conditions began to change, and as the continentals faded the UK stations became stronger and more numerous. Sunday saw a reversal of this trend. UK stations predominated in the morning albeit with activity down a bit, and as the day progressed more continental activity became apparent. Later still, the UK stations came to the fore again to such an extent it was impossible to find a clear frequency. The QRM was wall-to-wall and made life very difficult for the operators. It reached such an extent that our ops were working stations continuously - one immediately after another. We had stations queuing to work us!

 

Time was marching on and we decided we must call an end to the day. However, it was impossible to switch off as we didn't want to disappoint anyone. Consequently we carried on until there was a very noticeable drop in activity and then, finally, we pulled the plug.

 

Equipment was rapidly dismantled, the aerial dropped and all was made safe. A last look around to make sure we hadn't left any litter and we were away, well-satisfied at what we had managed to achieve over the weekend. For those who might wish to analyse the results in any detail then please contact Brian G0FZI.

 

In brief we worked 179 stations many of whom were in mainland Europe, including Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Denmark. Also, many UK stations were worked with some just a few miles away in Wells, Shepton Mallet and others more distant, such as the Isle of Skye in Scotland (where we spoke to Club friend Steve Hartley). Ireland and Wales were also represented in our QSOs. Our best Dx was probably Frankfurt in Germany. Considering the low height of the antenna and the consequential high angle of radiation it's not surprising we didn't managed to get out further.

 

As last year's event we had a goodly number of Club visitors throughout the two day period and it's gratifying to see the level of interest in the Club. I can say we had a wonderful weekend and are resolved to repeat it again next year.

 

Thanks to every one who made this event so successful.


Terry MØALZ

Club Chairman