CARA-On-The-Air Thursday 2nd July

Just a quick report on the 145.400MHz “COTA net” last Thursday evening.

An excellent turnout of members (13,  from Malvern, Chalford, Highnam etc).  Several subjects were discussed, have to admit only remembering the usual favourite – “antennas” – and therefore who can hear who! Should have made notes on my “Log” but that amount of multi tasking while being net controller was beyond me that evening! (how did I manage volunteering for that executive position). I think a couple of stations who are antenna restricted are off to experimen,t improving their “metal” in the air after the evening conversations, look forward to reporting on their signals in due course.

I certainly enjoyed the evening and after 1 1/2 hrs a wee dram was called for! Roll on the next on air meeting and of course face to face at the Robins Nest, when permitted!

Many thanks to Tim G8PZD for this report.

Annual General Meeting – Report

CARA’s 43rd AGM took place on Thursday 12th December 2019 at the Robin’s Nest, Cheltenham Town FC, with Tony G3YYH in the Chair. Tony welcomed 33 persons to the meeting, There were 22 apologies for absence

The Minutes of the 2018 AGM were approved unanimously. The Chair’s Report, published in advance of the meeting, recorded another successful year for the club and highlighted many notable events including two enjoyable Fun Field Days, Foundation and Intermediate courses and the relocation of meetings to the Robin’s Nest. There were no questions. The Report was taken as read and approved unanimously.

Awards: The Bernard King Memorial Cup awarded for noteworthy and praiseworthy on-the-air activities was presented to Stewart G0LGS and Matt 2E0MDJ for their active involvement in VHF, UHF and microwave contests. The John Holt G3GWW Award for notable work for the club went to Rich 2E0KXL for his enthusiasm and services to the local amateur radio community through the provision of a 70cm digital repeater. A special award for the safe erection of antenna masts went to Stewart G0LGS and Matt 2E0MDJ.

The Treasurer’s Report, also published in advance of the meeting, was approved unanimously. There were no questions. Given the healthy state of the Association’s finance the Chair, in the absence of the Treasurer, proposed that the annual subscription remain at £13. Simon G4SGI asked why it had not been raised to £15, the Chair replied that there was no need. Simon then suggested that the subscription could be raised to fund major projects, the Chair replied that if there was a justifiable need then the Committee would review the case for an increase in the annual subscription. The Chairman reminded the meeting that the Committee was always open to feasible proposals for expenditure of club funds. The meeting then approved, unanimously, that the subscription remain at £13 for 2020.

Committee Elections for 2019: In the absence of other nominations, the following were declared duly elected: Chair – Tony G3YYH, Secretary – Derek G3NKS, Treasurer – James 2E0RLE, Membership Secretary – Andrew M0MVA. The Chair took the opportunity to thank the retiring Treasurer, Peter G3YJE, for his valuable services over an extended period. Ordinary committee members – Alan M0NRO, Christopher M0YNG, Rich 2E0KXL. Accounts Examiner – Tony G3SNN (not a member of the Committee).

Any Other Business: Christopher M0YNG proposed a vote of thanks to the Officers for their work during the past year. Approved unanimously with acclamation. The Chair commented that the Committee was always receptive to ideas for meetings and events, and would always welcome offers of help.

Following closure of the formal meeting at 8.30pm, members enjoyed a light finger buffet and lots of chat.

October Meeting Report

Our last meeting was well attended, with an excellent display of QRP equipment, old and new, brought along by members.

Mark G4MEM showed an Elecraft KX1 portable QRP HF rig which he uses for SotA (Summits on the Air) activations.

G4MEM kit Mark’s KX-1 with wire antenna and support pole.

Graham exhibited an Icom IC-703 10W HF transceiver and a Thunderpole T-3000 modern CB rig.

G8XRS l-r Nick 2E0NRW and Graham G8XRS

Peter G4ENA produced an FT-70G 2 to 30MHz 3W AM/SSB/CW tx/rx which was designed for use by emergency and commercial organisations particularly overseas.

FT-70G Peter’s pint (or what’s left of it) and the FT-70G

Simon G4SGI had several QRP rigs on display, some build from kits and some neatly fitted into wooden boxes.

G4SGI kit Some of Simon’s kit.

John 2E0POE showed his BITX40 QRP transceiver which he built from a kit.

2E0POE l-r Tim G8PZD and John 2E0POE

Peter G3YJE had brought along a large selection of his QRP kit, including a GQ 40m CW tx/rx, a Heathkit HW-9 5W transceiver covering most of the HF bands with matching wattmeter, and an elderly Heathkit HW-30 2m AM rig,

G3YJE kit G3YJE’s HW-30 2m AM rig.

Derek G3NKS exhibited a number pieces of QRP kit, most of it home-brewed.

G3NKS kit l-r 80m dc rx with an active aerial, ATU, OXO tx, wattmeter, valve tx (on its side).

Tim G8PZD showed his Yaesu FT-817 3W HF/VHF transceiver. (Sorry, no photo.)

Apologies to anyone I’ve may have missed in this report. It was a busy and interesting evening, I’m not sure I managed to get round to all the exhibits.

Fun Field Day – 31st Aug/1st Sept

We assembled on the Friday afternoon to erect Smurf’s large, ex-Hungarian military, tent for use as the “mess”, to use a military term, and the “loo” tent. Three of us camped on site overnight. Early on the Saturday morning Tony G3YYH arrived to join the VMARS 80m AM net, as he did again on the Sunday morning.

The above photo shows Tony G3YYH in his Landrover preparing to join the VMARS 80m AM net. He had an “interesting” experience that morning. The wiring inside a “dog-bone” cable link between two pieces of his military kit short-circuited, producing a loud bang and lots of smoke. But no humans were injured!

Smurf M0URF, as usual, provided an excellent full English breakfast. Here’s a photo of Peter G3YJE tucking in and enjoying his first meal of the day.

During the morning more members arrived; tents/gazebos were erected and portable stations set-up with varying degrees of success but all with great fun.

In the afternoon yet more members arrived along with a number of family members for Smurf’s barbeque, which as we’ve come to expect was plentiful, tasty and very enjoyable. We were please to see so many ladies present.

Sunday morning saw a few more club members put in an appearance and also a visitor Mike G4IZZ from Gotherington.

Dismantling commenced at noon and we were mostly clear of the site by 2pm.

Many thanks to everyone who turned up to make it yet another successful and enjoyable Fun Field Day weekend. Particular thanks go to all those who helped set-up and dismantle the kit, to Peter G3YJE for the “Loo” tent, to Tim G8PZD for the G5BK signs and the beer and to Rich 2E0KXL for the additional “beverages”. Last but not least a big “thank you” to Smurf M0URF for providing so much of the kit, the breakfasts and the BBQ.

August Meeting – Report

Last month our Chairman Tony G3YYH told us about his trip to Normandy for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. He went with his friend Martin M0MGA not only to join the anniversary ceremonies but also to take part in VMARS (Vintage and Military Amateur Radio Society) nets.

The first thing Tony said was that he should have started to plan for the trip five years ago and not within the last year! For when they tried to book accommodation no vacancies could be found within a large distance of the site where the ceremonies were due to take place, Not only that but their plan to operate from the nearby D-Day landing beach was not possible because of security restrictions – on reflection understandable with so many VIPs attending the events.

In spite of these problems Tony and Martin had a great time. Prior to the visit Tony had written to a local French dignitary who was more please to provide assistance. Accommodation for part of the visit was arranged in a nunnery, which Tony said was better than some hotels he had stayed in! They had taken appropriate military kit to France and joined in several nets including the VMARS 80m AM net on the morning of the actual anniversary, which turned out to be a large net with some 85 participants. At one stage Tony used his Wireless Set No.46 which Beachmasters had used on the landing beaches, he was heard by at least one UK station with this very low power HF rig.

The above photo shows Tony G3YYH on the left showing his WS46 set to Graham G8XRS, Derek G3NKS and Barry M0HFY.

Tony and Martin attended a couple of ceremonies and functions and were made very welcome. The French, and the especially the locals, are still very appreciate and grateful for all the sacrifices suffered in the battles to free them of the Nazi tyranny. Interestingly the French treated the Anniversary as a celebration whereas the UK contingent saw it more of a commemoration of the lives lost.

It was a well presented, fascinating, informative and enjoyable talk with many excellent “slides” – for which we offer our grateful thanks to Tony. Unfortunately several members could not make the meeting, so Tony has offered to repeat the talk, probably sometime later this year. Watch this space!

July Meeting – Report

July Meeting report

The “On-the-Air” meeting turned out to be very successful and highly enjoyable with a large number of members setting up stations in the car-park or simply operating /M. Unfortunately I don’t have an accurate record of those who took an active part but here the list I do have with apologies to those I’ve missed and for any errors:

Graham G8XRS 2m /M
Rich 2E0KXL 2m /M
John 2E0POE 40m
Peter G3YJE 80m, 2m
Mike G6OTP 4m, 2m
Tony G3YYH 80m from his Landrover with a 40ft telescopic mast
Malcolm G0TMP 2m, 70cm /M
Simon G4SGI 40m with a magnetic loop.
Derek G3NKS 4m, 2m, 70cm
Peter G4ENA 160m /M
Ken G3LVP 4m, 2m, 70cm /M
Alan M0NRO 40m
Smurf M0URF
Christopher M0YNG 80m

Aerials ranged from dipoles and end-fed wires held aloft by push-up telescopic masts to mobile whips. Peter G4ENA flew a kite to carry a 160m wire aerial.

For me the highlight of the evening was being introduced to the use of my smart phone for listening to the Q0/100 geo-stationary satellite courtesy of the BARTC 10GHz SDR receiver at Goonhilly. I heard Graham G3VKV working Frank G3RMD – both stations were in Cheltenham about 2 miles apart yet their signals travelled some 46,000 miles each way to make the contact!

Our member in France for the summer, Peter G4IOA, listened for us on 40m SSB. I don’t think he worked anyone at the meeting but did work Giles G0NXA who was at home in Twyning.

The new “CARA CQ Alert” channel on WhatsApp was used it good effect, helping members to make contact on the various bands. ( If you wish to join the channel please email me at g3nks@blueyonder.co.uk )

Many thanks to everyone who took part in the meeting and especially to those who brought along interesting and impressive set-ups.

June Meeting Report

Last month we had the pleasure of a fascinating illustrated talk about Lundy given by Brian G4CIB, aided by his wife Leta G4RHK, both of whom are prominent and active members of the Gloucester club.

Lundy lies in the Bristol channel some two hours sailing time from Ifracombe in North Devon, it’s long and thin island about 3 miles north-to-south and about one quarter of a mile wide. There’s one pub, one shop and one landing stage. It’s had many owners over the years and is now in the hands of the National Trust but leased to the Landmark Trust as they are better placed to renovate and restore the old buildings which had been neglected by earlier owners. The only permanent resident on the island are employees of the Landmark Trust but there are a number properties of various sizes which are available for holiday lets and these have proved to be very popular. The island generates its own electricity using a large diesel engine which normally runs from 6am to mid-night. There are plans for a wind turbine, Lundy is a haven for wild-life, particularly puffins which have thrived since the non-indigenous black rats were eradicated several years ago.

Brian and Leta began holidaying on the island many years ago and quickly become so enchanted by the place that they’ve visited it every year, sometimes twice, ever since. They enjoy walking the island and watching the wild-life. And visiting the island’s pub! Radio gear is usually taken, which has to be lightweight because of baggage restrictions. Operation is usually fairly low-key with sessions around 7 to 9am and 4 to 5pm. Their next trip will be from 21st to 28th September.

The talk was very well received, members found it interesting and entertaining. We are very grateful to Brian and Leta for making the trip to Cheltenham to visit us. Incidentally instead of accepting expenses for their trip to us they asked that CARA make a donation to the Lundy Field Society which the club has now done – a nice gesture on their behalf.

May Meeting – Report

On 16th May we held an auction of, mostly, stuff from the shack of the late G7CVC (not a CARA member) from Tewkesbury. Tony G3YYH was, as usual, the auctioneer, Andrew M0MVA kept records of bids and successful bidders, Peter G3YJE collected monies owed, and Tim G8PZD acted as gatekeeper checking that lots were not taken away before payment had been made. They did a superb job and many thanks to them for all their good work. The bidding was a bit slow at times and Tony did well to ensure that everything was sold. All present appeared to enjoy the meeting and many thanks to those who opened up their wallets, so to speak, to make purchases.

March Meeting – Report

CARA’s annual Constructors’ Exhibition took place on 21st March, a meeting where members show items they’ve built at home during the last year or two.   We were treated to a very interesting range of exhibits many of which were constructed to a high standard.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of the items on display:

A partially complete LV and HV power supply for vintage ex-military equipment such as the BC-348 receiver and the Collins ART-13 transmitter – shown by Tony G3YYH.

A QRP Labs QCX 5W CW transceiver for 40m built from a kit (some 6,000 such kits have now been sold) – Peter G4IOA.

A range of products, including antenna insulators and small cases, produced by his 3D printer – Alan M0NRO.

A portable power unit with solar panel for use with an IC-706 HF/VHF transceiver – Christopher M0YNG.

A demonstration of Mastodon, a Twitter-like app specially adapted and promoted by the exhibitor for radio amateurs world-wide – Christopher M0YNG

A components tester which tests and measures transistors as well as resistors, capacitors and inductors, assembled from a kit – Derek G3NKS.

A CFR (Controller Feeder Radiation) half-wave vertical dipole for 2m for use with his motor-caravan – Derek G3NKS.

The judges, Jon M0JMM and Roger G3REB, made the following awards:

The Bill Brown Cup for Best in Show to Peter G4IOA for his superbly built QRP Labs kit transceiver.

The Pat Moore G3IKR Memorial Cup for Innovative Construction to Christopher M0YNG for his novel portable power unit.

The Roger Kendall G0UPU Memorial Cup for best Computer/Software related Project to Alan M0NRO for his 3D printer project.

Many thanks to all the exhibitors, the judges and everyone else who attended, we had an enjoyable and successful evening.

February Meeting – Report

The Table Top Sale on 21st February proved to be another popular and well attended meeting. The tables were well populated with items for sale, including antennas, linear amplifiers, hf and vhf transceivers, computers and test gear – plus lots of bits and pieces such as components, cables, tools and mast hardware. Something for everyone perhaps!

Some sellers were content but others reported that trade was disappointing. However that’s how it goes! Your reporter has often taken stuff to several rallies in succession without out any interest being shown in the kit, but then at the next one it sells easily!

We were pleased to welcome to their first meeting – Dom M7PKW and Shaun M6OII. We look forward to seeing them again soon.

The new venue again proved its worth, being comfortable with good acoustics.

The next meeting is the Constructors’ Exhibition on Thursday 21st March at the same venue, the Robin’s Nest, Cheltenham Football Club.

Derek G3NKS