When I was in business I always believed in networking and it seemed to work best when sharing meals. I ran a breakfast networking group for quite a while.
Anyway, here is a summary of my Convention mealtime networking, or at least of my fellow diners.
ZS6BUN Dick SSB operation on the HF bands and weak signal working on the VHF bands. Dick had flown all Thursday night Friday morning and come to Milton Keynes, rather short of sleep I think.
G0CKV Olof Presenting “Dxpeditions to 3B8”
GM3SEK Ian Well known radio designer, constructor and contester whom I had never met and I just happened to grab a space on the table where he was sitting. To date I have worked him 24 times on 144 and 432. And of course also at the breakfast table…
MM0WNW Nadine, Ian’s wife.
Apologies to anyone else I might have eaten with but whose name and callsign I failed to write down. It was a pleasure to meet everyone.
I attended nine lectures over the two days, five on Saturday and four on Sunday. My main interest in radio is propagation, especially VHF, but I am always willing to add to my knowledge regarding the lower frequencies.
I started on Saturday with “Building a VHF/UHF contest station” with Alwyn Seeds G8DOH. Contests are not really my thing but there were some useful tips on setting up a station. In the afternoon John Regnault G4SWX presented “Using the right tools to work more 144MHz DX, which was fascinating to hear how he does it very successfully. Next on was James Stevens M0JCQ with “VHF Equipment to start you going” which would have been particularly useful for VHF beginners and is something James has written about in RadCom.
Following on was John Petters G3YPZ “Getting ready for Cycle 25 – What to expect on the HF bands” which was interesting for me as I may return to the lower frequencies. John promotes the use of AM, which may not result in the best communication, but I am sure it is fun. I have worked John often on 2 metres but never on HF.
I finished the day with Nick Totterdall G4FAL’s Transatlantic Tests, which was a history of the early years of radio from around 1920.
On Sunday morning Brian Coleman G4NNS introduced us to the UK Meteor Beacon Project which was interesting but technical. I then attended Steve Nichols G0KYA, talk on “RadCom HF predictions – now and in the future”. Yes, lower frequency stuff, but good to know they do it.
In 2019 I did not stay until the end, going home early Sunday afternoon. This year I attended two after lunch lectures as I felt they would be unmissable. The first was a fascinating talk by Dr Colin Forsyth of UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory about Space Weather which is very relevant to amateur radio both for HF folk and us VHF people. It was very technical at times, but I think I got the gist.
The second talk on Sunday afternoon was entitled “What have the 2020s told us about Sporadic E?” by our old “weather friend” Jim Bacon, G3YLA. A good deal of Jim’s material was also quite technical and was remarkably interesting, but we still do not fully understand why Sporadic E propagation happens or how it can be predicted. It was very worthwhile staying for the afternoon sessions.
I thought the event was excellent, the content of the lectures was of a high standard and kept me more engaged even on subjects outside my main interests in amateur radio. I hope I learned quite a lot. I would certainly recommend to anyone who has not been to an RSGB Convention to consider attending in 2023.
Many of the lectures were livestreamed but also recorded so in due course they will be available on YouTube. Well worth watching and revisiting.
I learned yesterday that Mal Guthrie, G1NOX, Dartford, had gone Silent Key. I never met Mal in person but since my return to radio four years ago we had many contacts, and he came across as a very caring and interesting guy. I know he enjoyed dancing (jiving) and liked old cars, but we discussed so many things.
Mal had OFCOM withhold his details and you would not find him on QRZ.com, yet he was a stalwart on 2 metres SSB, calling CQ pretty much every day on 144.30 SSB. He worked us locals, and up and down the country with a decent set-up and was also on 70 cms. I know he enjoyed working serious VHF DX too, though I think he did not keep much of a log as many of us do.
There will be many people throughout most of the UK who will remember Mal, mostly for 2 metres, and he will be much missed, and certainly very much by me. RIP Mal, a really nice chap.
An exciting couple of days after my previous post about working the Spanish station on 4 metres!
Yesterday things started to happen on 144 MHz and in just over 20 minutes from 1510z I worked IK0FTA, IK0SMG, IK0RMR, and IK0BZY all in JN61, all 59. I did not hear anything else in terms of DX on the band though some other stations did. I felt pretty pleased with this “haul.”
Then, much to my surprise (again) having gone back to 70 MHz for a look just after 1800z I worked 9A2SB (JN95) and 9A1Z (JN86). My 50 watts SSB and small Moonraker vertical are doing well, far better than I hoped. I think I rather like 4 metres. I certainly did not expect this sort of DX on 4 with the antenna I have, but this is terrific! I have worked just four squares and three of them are rather distant, and 9A2SB is nearly 1,500 km away.
As I mentioned last time, I purchased a small vertical antenna for four metres. It is the Moonraker SQBM412. A friend of mine, Mike, G8EFG kindly installed it on my garage roof a couple of weeks ago, and it is only less than four metres above ground, although my QTH is quite decent for VHF.
Activity is lower than I had hoped on 70 MHz and I had managed to find just one station which was an FM contact. Then last Friday, 3rd June I heard a station on SSB calling CQ at about 30 miles distant. He was very weak. I called him but he either did not hear me or he was looking for DX as there seemed a possibility of Sporadic E propagation for better appointed stations than mine.
Then tuning around I heard EA4CZV calling CQ DX and I called him more in hope than expectation. After some persistence on both sides we completed the SSB contact and I have IN80 as a new square and actually only my second one as the other is the guy down the road I worked on FM.
Of course, with a vertical and not a yagi I have little or no antenna gain but maybe the polarisation factor is less critical at this sort of distance, which was 1280 km, not to be sniffed at.
I am therefore very pleased with the antenna and have said so in my review. Maybe I can work some more DX with it on four metres. It is going to be fun trying!
Firstly, the good news. On 25th May I worked LZ1ZP in KN22 during the afternoon. On 29th May I worked IT9YLF in JM68 and 9H1TX in JM75 (worked before in 2019). After a couple of failures with stations I then worked IZ8DSX in JN71.
On 31st May I worked IK8EVE in JN71, whom I also worked in 2019.
The big disappointment was the big opening on 29th May when I heard many stations but did not complete with most. The problem was getting through the pile ups, given that I am in JO01 which is a densely populated square hence lots of stations were hearing and calling the same people as I was. I heard UT3UX, UT9UR, UR5RQP, 9A2B and 9A2RD. Had I been logging as an SWL I would have been delighted. As it was, I ended up disappointed. Still, not working stuff I wanted is not the end of the world, is it?
What a sheltered life we led, back when I had just left school and gone out to work. All that discovering girls was a terrible distraction, plus actually having to go to work every day. Well, five days a week and hardly any holidays. I had no time for radio.
However, after nearly five years I started to think about amateur radio, still with top band in mind, and started back on broadcast DX listening. I bought a communications receiver, a Codar CR70A. People eulogise about that radio, but mine was not very good, and I have read about other amateurs / SWLs who were unlucky with their receiver.
I decided to get my RAE and be a thoroughly legal station on the radio. In 1974 I enrolled at Southend College for evening classes leading to the Radio Amateurs Examination, to be taken in May 1975. It was taken by G8GUO, Charlie. He was very good and I learned a lot from him. I have no idea what happened to him as he has disappeared, or changed his call sign, or something.
After a year of taking the train straight from work in London all the way to Southend Victoria, I took the RAE and passed. I have a copy of the May 1975 exam and am amazed how difficult it looks now. There was no multiple choice. We had to answer eight questions; two compulsory questions on licence conditions and six out of eight technical questions, the answers to be written with diagrams. The exam was three hours on the evening of Thursday 15th May 1975. And I passed!
I had thought I would take the Morse test, so waited for a while before applying for a licence. I did not make much progress in that direction, so in January 1976 I got the call sign G8LFJ. This was a Class B licence, two metres and up. I then got an FM rig for two metres with I think eight crystal channels, an IC21A. I put up a ten-element beam and after a while it dawned on me that I had the wrong polarisation for FM. I wanted to work more than eight channels too, so I bought a Belcom Liner 2 SSB VXO rig. This was in June 1977.
The first station I worked on 144 MHz SSB was SM7FJE. I thought this was fantastic. Of course, there was a tropo opening, I did have ten elements for my 10 watts out and (most significant) Bo, SM7FJE near Malmo had an EME array of multiple yagis. Just over an hour later I worked OZ5QF, and that is how I got the VHF DX bug.