April 30, 2014

Samos Island 2014 DxPedition

DXpedition to the Island of Samos

Between 14th and 30th May 2014, five members of the Sands Contest Group from Morecambe England will be visiting Samos Island, for a holiday and DXpedition
We will be using the call sign SZ8S while on the island.
The actual days for operation are uncertain, hopefully we will start on Thursday evening 15th May, please watch the cluster’s for Information. Operation will be from various locations on the Island, but mainly from our Base in Ireon.
Operators will be:
Baz G1JYB, Steph G1LAT, Hugo G4UME, Frank G8BME & Steve G1TLQ.

QSL direct – Via ~ G1LAT the QSL manager
UK - SASE Rest of the world SAE + 1 IRC or $2
Bureau only - VIA M0SCG


QSL manager’s address:

Stephany Kirkwood (G1LAT)
1 Nether View : Lodge Lane
Wennington : Lancaster
Lancashire : LA2 8NP
United Kingdom

December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

Hello Folks,

Here we are at the end of another year each of us wondering where the year has gone.  When the group was formed Linda G0YLM one of our founder members suggested it might be an idea for the group to have a meal each quarter of the year to show our appreciation to our wives and significant others and it sad to report that due to the credit crunch and all that came with it we were forced to drop this idea..... But all is not lost!  Barrie and Kathy have treated us to a Barbi that is supported by Stephany G1LAT and Hughie G4UME with the preparation.  There are numerous blogs on these events.

For the last three years we have broken with Christmas tradition by having a banquet at Trungs where numerous dishes are placed on the tables for us all to tuck into.... I think there were 5 courses in total and nobody left the table hungry.  This year I shopped around for menus which were presented to the group who voted on their preferred choice, sadly the Stork Hotel was very late in getting their menus out leaving us little time to book anywhere else, so I thew in a wild card "The Bridge in Tatham"

Here comes the History bit with a few details found on this website, I will leave you to look look at the website to fill in some extra details  http://www.citycoastcountryside.co.uk/things-to-do/food-and-drink/the-bridge-inn-p116900

The Bridge Inn

The Bridge Inn was initially built in 1642 this is the part we had our Christmas Meal in.  
The Inn was extended into the building you see today in 1744 and is now a grade 2 listed building.  The 1642 part of the Inn has a slightly lower roof than the extension that can be seen in the picture above. 

Strange but true it was not always called the "Bridge Inn" 
during its coaching days it was known as " Bridge End"

Anybody Hungry?

Although it seems to be in the middle of nowhere between the villages of Wray and Wennington there are local Farms and Holiday lets it is always busy with a home cooked menu that has you drooling just reading it.... No fancy French names on the menu just good honest food at very reasonable prices.

Back to our Christmas Meal

Thanks to Stephany for taking the four photographs of Members and friends

Hughie and Sheila, Barrie and Kathy, Dave and Ray, 
with Frank at the end 

Sarah and Nick, Elaine and Chris, Annette and Damien

There was an excellent Christmas menu that had been put together for us and we were in good hands with Stephanys Son Spencer who was our chef for the night and the very efficient waitresses who were not only looking after us but also people in the Inn.

 The Bridge Inn
Christmas Party Menu
Saturday 7th December
7.30 PM Meals served at 8PM

Thanks to Bob for the photos of the food.
Scottish Black Pudding ~ Served on a Bed of Lettuce 
with a Three Mustard Sauce

Melon and Prawn Cocktail ~ Served on a Bed of Lettuce

other starters.

Mushroom Soup  
Served with Fresh Crusty Bread

Assorted Mini Fish Cakes 
Served with a Sweet Chilli Dip and side Salad

Main Course

Traditional Home-Roast Turkey
Served with Roast Potatoes; New Potatoes, Pigs in Blankets,
Yorkshire Pudding & Fresh Seasonal Vegetables

Main Courses
Traditional Home-Roast Pork
Served with Roast Potatoes; New Potatoes, Pigs in Blankets,
Yorkshire Pudding &; Fresh Seasonal Vegetables
Fresh Poached Salmon
with Hollandaise or Lemon and Dill Sauce
Served with New Potatoes or Home-Made Chips and Fresh Seasonal Vegetables
Mushroom Cranberry & Brie Wellington
Served with New Potatoes or Home-Made Chips & Fresh Seasonal Vegetables

        Faith and Brian, Steve, Mark, Ian and Bob, Tim and Mary

               Kevin and Hazel, Jess and Scott, Andrew and Julie
                                      Traditional Christmas Pudding ~ Served with Brandy Sauce
                               Home-Made Sherry Trifle ~ Traditionally Made in Individual Glasses
                                Festive Bread and Butter Pudding ~ Served with Cream or Custard
                               Home-Made Apple and Cinnamon Pie served with cream or custard                                     
                                             Followed by Fresh Roast Coffee and Mints

This was a truly great night for all who were able to make it, our Elder Statesman of the group was far enough away from Ian to have a little fun at Ian's expense :)

You should hear our callsign MX0SCG on the bands outside our our normal special events as we celebrate our first Decade as a group in 2014. Be sure to ask the operator for his name and see how many of us you can work and may be the favourite area of the hobby they are interested in. 

Were now looking to seeing the old year our and welcoming the new year in.  All our best wishes for 2014 to all our readers and hast ye back to read about all our trumps and no doubt at some point our Trials and tribulations.  

73 from Brian

The Reluctant Contester 

November 27, 2013

M0BZI HF10 Doublet

M0BZI HF10 Doublet

I have rather a limited area to put up any aerial, its around 45 feet deep and 18 feet wide. Im surrounded by buildings three storeys high with BT lines all around. In fact next door extended back the whole length of plot!! Only positive point is that the guttering is around 28 feet high and I have managed to get a pulley onto the wall so can use this height! The local daylight noise level is high S7 on 40m to S2 on 10m & once night comes, the local street lights add to this. OFCOM have put it down to the local community “radio fog” that comes from the houses as it disappears at the end of the garden!!

Limited space

I came across Fred Westerns aerial and a Google brought up the reviews on e-net
(http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/9424?page=2) and a review by Steve G0KYA

A read through these and a quick check of Freds QRZ.com page gave me more info. Its very basically a doublet with a top length of 67 feet and a length of 450 ohm ribbon to a current balun. In basic form, it’s a half wave G5RV with loading coils to give full coverage from 160-6m! the balun appears to be a 4:1 current type.

I measured up the space and reckoned rather than putting it up as a Inv Vee sloping dipole, if I used a couple of telescopic fibreglass poles I could get the main legs up almost horizontal and Avenge height of 18 feet! So I bit the bullet and ordered one via email and Paypal! Within 2 days it had arrived.

First Thoughts:

It arrived via sign for mail. It was well packed within a jiffy bag. The fixings are all stainless steel and the wire is lovely Flexweave so very weather proof. The 15’ 3’’ slotted ribbon wire is very hardy. The balun is well made and the loading coils are also well made and covered by heat shrink so should be ok in the weather up here!!

Up it goes

I took down my OCFD and laid out the doublet.  When using the ribbon cable, you must try to keep it clear from anything so I worked out I could keep the main run about eighteen inches away from the wall and earth to keep the aerial currents balanced.

I raised up the doublet, with the legs not as sloping as before as I used a couple of telescopic fibreglass “camping” flagpoles. I removed the top 3 sections to make it sturdier and thus put the legs around 17 feet up. One leg is dog legged down and across the garden then down towards ground the other drops to the pole then again to earth. So my lie out is less inverted than sloping. The feed drops parallel to the drain pipe and trying to keep it out. I have to use extra thin coax (RG174) to go through the window so I connected up a short run (OK it’s a bit lossy but over the 3m run its hardly anything!). I wound a choke just after the 4:1 balun and also used another ugly choke just before the ATU.


Firstly the background noise didn’t drop (Damn!!) and signals were heard on most bands even if conditions at the mo’ is not good
I charged up the batteries for my MFJ259 and checked the calibration before using to check out this aerial.

The following figures were taken at the ATU feed point at the aerial side:

How did it work?

Well the noise level didn’t drop much and I was able to tune it on all bands using my MFJ-969 ATU. Band conditions are not too good but hearing some good distance signals. I am getting out on the bands I have tried it out on. I know my working situation is not that good & it should work in a better clear location!

Looking around at wire aerials, the cost and build are good value. OK you could buy a ½ G5RV loading coils & a balun for maybe less. But you could buy more expensive wire aerials. Its going to stay up over winter and maybe the bands will re-open??
For those of us wanting to work all HF bands in limited locations and wanting a low visual impact aerial and not wanting a vertical (with no room for a decent radial system) this could be the answer!

This article was kindly submitted by Chris G4LDS

November 18, 2013

Wray Scarecrow Festival 2013 Part 2 of 2

Monday 6th May

Fair Day and Fell Race

Each year a fell race is run starting at the village hall.  Although we did not see the fell race start there were plenty of competitors jogging past our amateur radio station using the field to warm up prior to the race starting and quite a few returned at the end of the race covered in mud.  Its a race open to all and always very popular.

The Station consisted of :

The Elecraft K3, Heil Pro headset with the HC-5 Insert, A Shuttle pc, N1MM Logging program, Ranger 811H Linear Amplifier, 40m dipole.

The N1MM logging program

The N1MM logging program is free to download and normally used by Sands for our major contests throughout the year. It has many features for you to use and is very stable. If you would like to see what the program has to offer please click on the link below.

A few of the operators running GB4WSF

  Paul 2e0ckc
 Stephany G1LAT
Brian G0RDH
Other operators were:
Ian G0VGS, Linda G0YLM, Nick 2E0TBT, Paul 2E0CKC, Brian G0RDH, Mike M0PRL. 

Station promoting both the Wray Scarecrow Festival and B4RN (Broadband 4 Rural North)

The Bambuster videos below were shot on Sunday 6th May 2013 by Christine Conner and feature the Sands Contest Group Special Event Station

Wray Village first got a faster connection around 2003 Connection speeds currently vary but are anticipated to be the equivalent of a good quality 512kb connection or better. 

Broadband for Rural North (B4RN)
This video was produced by the BBC Technology department

The link below has many excellent video's showing how the cable is laid and repaired

It was all change from Sunday, no more military transport, classic car and tractors, they gave way to country crafts and exhibitions.  There was a fantastic array of food from different parts of the world along with homemade chutney and other local produce


Here are a few examples of one of the exhibitions / Demonstrations 
of chainsaw cutting that was demonstrated at the fair

Traditional Crafts

Wicker Basket Weaving display and demonstration
Wicker Fencing

We have all heard about the lack of bee colonies in the UK which leads to a loss of bees able to pollenate our flowers and fruit trees etc.  It was so nice to see Bee's for Bentham on site to educate us about the importance of bees and encourage those who are able to look deeper into what they can do to help. 

Bees for Bentham
Bee Hive

For more information bee keeping look at 
the site below its excellent

Traditional fair stands

Bungee Jumping went down very well with the kids 
as families enjoyed picnics away from normal 
daily life and spent quality time together.
Vultures spreading their wings and cooling down

Eagle Owl
I think this is a Barn Owl


 The Samba Band
 The samba band entertained the public with 
various Samba rhythms.  

for more information on the origins of samba 
please click on the link below 

 A Pipe Band

For some interesting facts about the history of the bagpipes
Please click on the links below.

Sheep and Geese herding display

Rare Breeds

Food including local produce and international produce
 We had everything from the traditional burger van
Through too local and international cuisine

 Greek Food

Local chutney samples

A lovely selection of local chutney

A selection of fine cheeses

A free range selection of eggs including Duck eggs

The Hog Roast much loved by Sands Members.

 Its also a favourite of many of the public 

It does not seem to last long

 A hearty selection from Lancaster soup

Indian Food

                                     You don't have to wait until the next Wray Fesitival
                                   to sample the delights of this food, they are available on 
                                    Lancaster Market Days along with other traders who 
                                              produce hot food from their countries.

The Elecraft K3 is now available to buy in the UK.  You will find many clips on You Tube and reviews on eham if you do a search.  The K3 has recently been in use by Ian and other members who have just returned from a holiday on the Island of Samos.  It was small enough to be carried as hand luggage onto the plane by Ian.  The callsign the group used was SZ8S..... our thanks go out to the local radio amateurs who have allowed us to use their station which is located at a redundant radio station on the island. When the commercial radio station closed down they left some really nice antenna's up which have been utilised by the group.  Look out for a Blog in the not too distant future detailing their adventures on radio and the Island.

Well that concludes our visit to the Wray Scarecrow Festival, a really enjoyable event.

Brian G0RDH