We were delighted to welcome Tim G4VXE back to Cheltenham to tell us about “Simple Satellite Operating”. He explained how with relatively simple equipment, such as a dual-band hand-held FM transceiver for 2m and 70cm with a hand-held yagi type aerial, it was possible to work through certain orbiting satellites by selecting the most appropriate orbit and time. He went on to describe the current amateur satellites in orbit and their various frequencies and modes of operation. Finally he mentioned the exploits of some of the leading proponents of satellite operating and the distances they achieve. In all a very interesting, informative and stimulating meeting and our grateful thanks go to Tim for the excellence of his presentation.
There was a good attendance, 37 people signed-in, well above the average number for most CARA meetings. Many thanks to everyone who turned out to support this special meeting. We were pleased to welcome several visitors and we look forward to seeing them again.
Most of those attending seemed happy with the venue, which was “on-trial”, in spite of the unexpected presence of others – we had been promised exclusive use of the room. Before the Committee makes any decision to move, the desirability or not of transferring to Newlands will be discussed at the AGM on 15th December at Brizen.
We started with a mini-auction to dispose of a number of items from a former member who died earlier in the year. These were mainly of low value, most of which went under the hammer, but the most valuable piece, a Hunter 750 HF Linear Amplifier failed to generate any interest so will now be advertised more widely. Thanks go to the auctioneer, Chairman Tony G3YYH, who conducted proceedings in his usual efficient and humorous manner.
The auction was followed by a presentation by Matt 2E0MDJ on the work of the Gloucestershire Repeater Group. Matt was well placed to present the talk as he is the Chairman of the Group. He explained the Group’s history, described the repeaters currently maintained by the Group and spoke about future plans including the desire to introduce digital repeaters into the county. This latter proposal generated some lively discussion with arguments for and against! In all, a very interesting and informative session which enlightened some (many?) of the audience about the world of repeaters and digital voice. Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to prepare and present the talk.
Thanks also go to John G8TTJ for manning the kitchen and providing us with tea, coffee and biscuits.
This month we had a two short talks given by club members
Christopher M0YNG introduced us to the need for computer security. He spoke about the need for passwords to be long but not complex and to be easily remembered (so that we don’t need to write them down) and recommended the use of LastPass. He went on to describe some of the ways in which our privacy can be invaded by, for instance, the inclusion of mal-ware in adverts from certain sites. He urged us to keep our software up-to-date especially our operating systems and never to post anything on-line which we don’t want the whole world to know!
Tony G3SNN began by giving us a brief history of his DX’ing successes and showing us photos of the antenna at his previous QTH near Hasfield where he had a big HF yagi on top of a 60ft tower. Over the years he has worked 339 different DX entities (or countries, if you prefer) which puts him in the top league of DXers. On moving, several years ago now, to a house with a small garden he was at first disappointed with the prospects for on-going DX’ing but using a suitable multi-band vertical he has continued to be successful. His current challenge is filling in as many “band-slots” as possible (ie working each DXCC entity on each HF band).
Many thanks to Christopher and Tony for their very interesting and informative talks which were much appreciated by those present. Thanks also to Colin G3TA for manning the tea bar.
The “Bring and Show Something from your Shack” proved to be a very popular format with some 20 items being brought along and displayed. These ranged from a WW2 Wireless Set 19 complete with accessories and a 1950’s Raymart Bandchecker (an absorption wavemeter, a mandatory piece of test gear for every shack up until the 1960s) to modern equipment such as the latest Icom IC-7300 multi-band transceiver and the SDR Play. Other items of particular interest included a Vizkey (a vertical mechanical bug-key), an SG Labs 23cm transceiver, and a home-constructed bi-quad for 23cm. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the evening by bringing along kit. Another well attended and enjoyable meeting in spite of the uncomfortable heat and noise level.
The Car Boot Sale turned out to be yet another indoor sale – thanks to the inclement weather. It’s rained more often than not when we’ve held an outside meeting in the Brizen car park, so may be we should take the hint and give up such events. But may be we’ll have better luck next time!
There were some six seller who set up their wares on tables in the hall, most reported lots of interest and plenty of sales. One seller, although he sold a lot of stuff, went home with more than he came with thanks to the generosity of several members who donated their left-overs to him to sell at future events for the benefit of the club.
It was a well attended meeting with lots of chat and socialising even though the room was very hot and humid – and noisy. Many thanks to Barry M0HFY for serving up the teas, coffees and biscuits.
A well attended meeting heard Giles G0NXA tell us about the Smith Chart and how it can be used to help match an aerial to a transmission line. He had downloaded a program from the internet and used this to demonstrate what could be achieved with the Smith Chart. We’re grateful to Giles for taking so much trouble to present this long delayed follow-up to his talk on aerial matching last August.
Also at the meeting, two awards for 2015 were presented.
The John Holt G3GWW Trophy, awarded to a member performing exceptional service , went to Andrew (Smurf) 2E0OAV, a relative newcomer to amateur radio. The award recognised his enthusiastic approach to the hobby, his work introducing amateur radio to members of his Scout troop, his involvement with Jamboree on the Air, his efforts negotiating the use of a portable site at Withington for use by CARA for the 2015 Fun Field Day and his extensive contribution to that Field Day. The photo shows Smurf receiving the Trophy from Chairman Tony G3YYH.
The Bernard King G3CEG Memorial Cup went to Iain M0PCB for his noteworthy and praiseworthy on-the-air activities. He has been very active in contests. Some examples: in March 2014 he operated as VP2MXI from Monserrat in the Caribbean for the RSGB Commonwealth Contest with much success and in 2015 he was a member of, and sole CW operator for, a leading multi-mode station in the RSGB’s IOTA contest. Also in 2014 he was a member of the Special Event Station team at Mill Hill School celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first ever radio contact between Europe and New Zealand. In 2015 he took part in the C5X DXpedition to Gambia which handed out very many QSOs to amateurs worldwide. The photo shows Iain receiving the cup from Chairman Tony G3YYH.
Thanks go to Mike G3LHU for manning the kitchen and providing us with much appreciated cups of tea and coffee – plus biscuits of course!
Twenty-seven members attended the 39th Annual General Meeting held on 10th December 2015.
The Chairman’s Report, the Treasurer’s Report and the Financial Statement were all accepted.
The following were elected unopposed:
Chairman: Tony G3YYH
Secretary: Derek G3NKS
Treasurer: Peter G3YJE
Christopher M0YNG, Giles G0NXA, James 2E0GEL
Accounts Examiner: Tony G3SNN
The Treasurer proposed that the annual subscription for 2016 should remain at £13; this was agreed on a majority vote.
Under Any Other Business it was suggested that a Christmas Day Net be held at 10am on 145.400MHz. It was also suggested that the next Spring Challenge should be a “Work CARA Members” competition.
The SK auction held on Thursday 19th November 2015, to dispose of radio equipment which belong to Maurice G3XKD, was a great success. Nearly 40 people were present, the best attendance at a club meeting for a long time.
There were 99 lots to get through and our auctioneer, Tony G3YYH, did great job to finish by just after 9pm. This was achieved through a mixture of encouragement of bidders, cajoling and the rapid bringing down of the auctioneer’s gavel! And some humour, needless to say.
The outcome resulted in a significant increase in club funds, to the tune of many hundreds of pounds. Maurice G3XKD had very kindly donated all his radio equipment to the club for use or disposal as the Committee wished, for which we are most grateful.
Many thanks to Tony G3YYH for so ably acting as auctioneer and to his many helpers both before and during the meeting, including those who helped clear out Maurice’s shack, and who sorted, cleaned and tested equipment and who turned up early on the day to help prepare the room for the auction.
Many thanks also to James 2E0GEL and Ken G3LVP for manning the kitchen and providing us with much appreciated cuppas.
In change to the published programme, we heard two short talks given at very short notice by Ken G3LVP and Giles G0NXA.
Ken G3LVP described some his experiences operating while on vacation in Spain. He mentioned that one of the increasing problems in holiday locations, as in many urban locations here in the UK, is the increasing noise level from electronic equipment in the vicinity. During his latest trip he found HF conditions poor but did manage to work a small number of DX stations. He was surprised to hear only a few G stations, commenting on the almost complete lack of “big-gun” G stations on the bands – he surmised that perhaps they only appear when a rare DX station surfaces or when there is a major contest.
Giles G0NXA told us about his recent visit to the RSGB Convention at Milton Keynes. He was impressed by the venue which he thought an improvement on recent years and emphasised the benefits of attending the lectures which improved his knowledge of various subjects – both in depth and spread. He saw just two other CARA members: Bob M0NQN and Tony G3SNN. Giles said he was already planning to attend next year and urged other member to do likewise as it’s a great event.
“One of the best talks for a long time” was the flavour of many comments heard following the CARA meeting on 17th September. At that meeting we heard John 2E0GCR relate the story of his trip across the Atlantic in a rowing boat! Needless to say not any old rowing boat but a special purpose one designed for the trip.
The boat was designed to hold a full crew of eight but they set off, towards the end of 2014, with just seven, reduced after a few days to six when one crew member had to airlifted off due to a severe wound infection. The video clips of the airlift were exciting to say the least with the helicopter crewman swinging violently on the end of the winch cable as he tried to land on the boat.
John described the hardships encountered, eg a diet of mainly curried meals and during the night of being hit in the face by flying fishing appearing out of nowhere. There were compensations such as the beautiful night sky complete with shootings stars – no street-light pollution to spoil the view in mid-Atlantic!
A very interesting meeting which held our attention throughput and to judge by the seemingly endless number of questions one which provoked much curiosity and admiration of the crew’s endeavours. A full report on the meeting will appear in October’s CARA News.
Unfortunately, because of the great interest in John’s talk, there was insufficient time left for the second part of the talk on Smith Charts by Giles G0NXA, so this will be rescheduled for another meeting.
Many thanks to John 2E0GCR for such as fascinating and enthralling talk.