September 10, 2014

Leighton Moss 50th Anniversary GB50LM and Flora & Fauna


GB50LM

Recently SANDS put on this station at Leighton Moss nature Reserve, in conjunction the RSPB. This is how the event came about.

I help at RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve as a Volunteer and 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the RSPB taking over the management of this wonderful Site of Scientific Interest. I am also part of the small team set up to help research the history of Leighton Moss. During one of these meetings thoughts went to ways of publicising the anniversary. I mentioned why not use Amateur Radio. A meeting was arranged with the Visitor site Manager; Publicity Manager to explain the hobby
When back home, a quick email to the group to find out anyone was interested and a call to OFCOM to find out how to get a NOV for a GB50 call.

SANDS Amateur Radio Contest and Special Events Group were interested and OFCOM explained how to get a special special call!

When I had the meeting with Leighton Moss RSPB, I explained about amateur radio and showed some qsls from similar sites and other WFF stations to show we could help publicise the 50 years. To say the RSPB were interested would be a slight understatement! 

The RSPB asked if we could run the station over the late August Bank Holiday and they would assist with the qsl cards. We requested a letter from the RSPB in support of our application for a  Special Special call GB50LM, as suggested by OFCOM.

Back home, a draft qsl was made & emailed over to RSPB for checking, and after a few tweaks, an approved “draft” was agreed to use and sent out for quotes. An application plus a letter of support was sent to OFCOM for a NOV to use the call GB50LM.

Updates were also sent out regularly to SANDS member to ensure all involved were kept upto date.

Phew by the end of July, OFCOM had agreed the NOV, qsl cards were on order so a site visit was arranged with the SANDS chairman to view the site and arrange the station location and aerial site. It was agreed that the station would be set up in the holt, (RSPB education room) the aerials would be set up in the orchard  and the run of the feeders back to station was planned to minimise any slip or trip hazards. A full risk assessment carried out and sent to Leighton Moss, RSPB. We then created a rota of operators who were available which was also sent over to cover the event. We allowed one operator & at least one greeter at all times.

Antenna Setup Team:

 Hughie G4UME, Frank G8BME, Chris G4LDS, Ian G0VGS

On Friday, 22nd, a small group arrived at Leighton Moss to set up the aerials. As we were operating over 3 days, during the daytime in Summer, it was agreed we would operate on 40m using a dipole  20m using a ¼ vertical. Eventually these were erected and we withdrew ready for the start the next day.
Frank and Ian setting the main station a K3 and Amplifier up
Chris operating the Elecraft K3 and matching  amplifier running 
at 350w and logging the first contacts of the special event station

As the sun rose on the Saturday, we arrived at Leighton Moss with a K3 plus matching amp and a Heil HC4/5 headset and by 9:30, the first call of “CQ from GB50LM G/FF 143” was heard on 40m.  Another SANDS member, Andrew, brought over his KX3 and spent time over the weekend working around 100 stations The main station was active on the Saturday mainly on 40m, on Sunday 40m & a few on 20m & on the Monday, as well as 40/20 we used the 40m dipole on 15m to work Japan, We found the band conditions variable with a S7 noise level, (we believe from the local solar power regulators!). We tried to work all that called up and by the time we closed down at 5pm on Monday, we had around 950 qsos.

Our special thanks to all the RSPB team for the help & support and allowing SANDS to help celebrate the 50 years at Leighton Moss.

Event Station Equipment:
With the exception of antennas all the radios and computers are supplied by Sands Group members.
Radio's Elecraft K3 with the Elecraft Linear Amplifier, our second station was the Elecraft KX3 Andrew has packed this set away for holidays into Europe, Dx-peditions, SOTA and other awards and what a great radio it is.

The logging software used was N1MM

Antenna's:
Dipoles for 40m/80m
Verticals for 20m/15m
Details of the event on QRZ.Com

Station operators from Sands Amateur Radio Group in Yellow

Visitors have a white background

G4LDS Chris2E0DTG Dave2E0TBT NickG0LWU Andrew
G0VGS IanG1LAT StephG1TLQ SteveG4UME Hughie
G8BME FrankG0RDH BrianG6FKE KevG1OCK Bob
G1JYB BarrieM3YOG Kathie
G4DPT Tim Upstone & Mary
G0YLM Linda
2EOCXJ ColinG4ABE Jim Ellis (Warton, ex Heysham 1)G3HMR Guy Moser (Kendal)



Chris G4LDS
Nick 2E0TBT operated a pileup or two
Frank G8BME
Chris operating on 20m using Andrews KX3
Ian G0VGS operating the main K3 station & Linear at 350W
Stephany spent two days with us you may have worked her 
on the Tour de France station which was active throughout July
 Andrew G0LWU operating the KX3 on 20m
Dave was eager to learn more about the radio and operating techniques. 
 Andrew and Dave discussing logging information  
 Nick 2E0TBT Making contacts on the KX3
Thats how to strike a pose!

Along with the transmitting stations there was a display of WW2 to more modern keys on display Which covered Air Sea and Land Morse Communications


   




Thanks to all who worked us, spotted us on the cluster and were supportive. 

Thanks to Chris for doing the lions share of the Blog covering how an idea was taken from an idea with all the hurdles and loopholes through to the end result of a special event station.

Sands Amateur Radio Contest and Special Events Group were privileged to be invited to take part and wish Leighton Moss every success as they continue to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

73
Brian 

August 29, 2014

Arnside Knott in Cumbria to activate the summit for Summit on the Air.

Hi Brian,

Feedback on the arnside sota activation as follows:

On 27th June Eight members Baz, Steph, Hughie, Frank, Dave, Steve, Andrew and Kathy of the group climbed the dizzy heights of arnside knott in Cumbria to activate the summit for Summit on the Air.  Andrews son also came up to help Andrew set up his global transmitting station.



The evening began with a fuelling stop at the arnside chippy 
(for readers Stateside especially in Oregon the local chippy is not a lady of the night but a place we can buy fried Fish and French fries) where we all met up Discussions took place on the best route up to the summit.  After the fish and chips we all set off with the sota gear. It didn't take long to reach the top and members who passed out at the top were later revived by the shouts of CQ SOTA. 

Our very own Last of the Summerwine, 
Hughies got the Blues and Baz has the backpack

The lady in pink is our very own Stephany.  If you have ever received a qsl card 
from Sands its our QSL Manager Stephany who will have sent it out

Left to right: Steve, Hughie, Frank, Dave

We started by setting up a fibre pole to support the first SOTA dipole antenna to the trig point and put calls out for any unsuspecting customers. Even the sheep replied to the CQ SOTA. We used a small handheld on low power and initially got some replies from local stations - one from across the bay near grange. In fact the guy was so close if we had good eyes we could have seen him across the water. It was nice to hear Some of the other members of the sands group that came back to our calls.

We used various sota dipoles to work on 2m,4m and 77cms and all worked really well. The contacts were very clear 5/9 except for one station. We managed to activate on all 3 bands. Some of the regular locals assisted in the activations by hopping to our next band.


Hughie our international radio operator and Baz (summit leader) had many good contacts and provided entertaining conversations. Steve gained his first experience on the use of 4m. Andrew set up his KX3 with a temperamental piece of wire that eventually worked as we were leaving the summit. Although Andrew did manage to get a contact on 20m.


Andrew making contacts with his KX3
Since buying the KX3 he has used on various holidays to Europe 
as well along with contacts all over the UK. 

During our shouts of CQ Kathy met up with some of her fellow walkers who asked the 2 usual questions. 
When we had enough of shouting CQ SOTA to all we tidied up and walked back down to arnside with the promise of a visit to the pub and see the sun go down.

Hughie on his way down from the summit 
Arnside Viaduct and Train Line

The sunsets at the end of a beautiful evening

As I close this entry of the Blog, I would like to thank Steve for the writeup and Barrie for the photography.  My job was easy, I just had to patch it all together. 

Plans are already afoot for the next activation from Hutton Roof  on Wednesday 3rd September


August 22, 2014

First Contest of the Year 1-2 March 2014

Hi Folks,

Its 28th February:

March see's Sands Contest Group taking part in the First ARRL contest of the year From Hancock's Radio Hut. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all the Contest Groups and communities who have suffered with flooding not only of their properties but also land and live stock.

Dave and Hughie sharing the load
I'll have to speak to them about smiling 
Contesting is a serious event and you don't 
have time for smiling

It hard to believe that we are at last seeing sunshine and freezing conditions. A team of antenna riggers set to work this morning and have a fair bit of work ahead of them Verticals for 40m 80m 15m,10m and topband to be setup and the 20m vertical needs some minor repair work.  All the antenna's terminate in a switch box for each band inside Hancock's Hut.

The Station itself consists of:
a K3 and automatic linear amplifier designed for the K3
A Shuttle computer with backup for logging.

During the course of the weekend I will be asking members for reports that will end up in this Blog along with some photos. (The photographs so far have been supplied by G0VGS) and heres the a report from Nick 2E0TBT Highlighted in Blue.

I arrived around 8am on the Saturday morning (1st March) the bands were noisy and active. Ian G0VGS was operating and after a brief fault on the 20m vertical (due to heavily saturated ground with the recent heavy rain spells) it was necessary for a alternative 20m vertical to be constructed.

I (2E0TBT) started to operate the station, by now many members of the SANDS contest group had arrived and the shack was a good atmosphere. The pickings for 10m was incredible on both days, 15m was also a busy band. Not so much contest on 40m during the day as the "inter G" was waking, plus it didn't seem fair to jump over a long standing weekly net or adjacent frequencies!

20m was open, bearing in mind the rules stated only 6 band changes maximum per hour so rich pickings was also on many bands so that also had to keep a watchful eye.

Our Saturday Evening Meal


As usual we stopped on the Saturday night for our evening meal thanks to Barrie, Kathy and  Stephany who asked her son Spencer to make a Homemade Steak Pie with a melt in your mouth crust filled with chunks of succulent steak and a proper beef gravy.  The green look was created by the Camera for some reason, the crust round the edge of the pie was closer to the correct colour and it was as good as ever.


For pudding we were treated to Splodge Cake made to a secret family recipe.  The meal was topped off with a choice of tea or coffee.

On Sunday the contest for me became much more of a challenge as many dupes was heard and found, but sure enough during the afternoon many new stations from USA and Canada was waking the bands up on 10m, 15m & 20m which found the main bulk of the contest. The only states I never heard or worked was North Dakota and South Dakota, maybe one day! The contest call (G1T - Golf One Tango) always raises a few comments and laughs.

Overall the contest went very well, plenty of snacks & coffee to help keep awake!!! Now the G1T journey continues with the CQ WW DX Contest at the end of March 2014..

73 Nick



Nick discovering the Contesters Bacon and Banjo Egg Butty

Nick has yes to discover the proper contesters Breakfast I and others used to make:
This consists of a Lancashire Oven Bottom Barmcake, Two Sausages, Two rashers of bacon, Mushrooms and for those who can take a Banjo egg with an unbroken yoke or for the wimps an egg with a broken yoke.

Operator for the weekend included, Damien G0LLG, Ian G0VGS, Hughie G4UME, Frank G8BME, Brian G0RDH, Nick 2E0TBT, TIM.

The WPX contest at the end of March had its trials and tribulations but we pleased to report the group achieved it's first 1 million points.




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.

INFORMATION
KM37JK
EU-049
ITU-28
GIOTA-SAS06
QSL direct – Via ~ G1LAT the QSL manager
UK - SASE Rest of the world SAE + 1 IRC or $2
EQSL also – VIA M0SCG
Bureau only - VIA M0SCG

PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY TO SZ8S FOR THIS DXPEDITION, AS YOU WILL NOT GET A REPLY. AS THIS IS THE AEGEAN RADIO ASSOCIATION’S SPECIAL CALL SIGN

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
Tatham
Christmas Party Menu
Saturday 7th December
7.30 PM Meals served at 8PM

Starters
********************
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
                                                                                 
                                                                                Deserts
                                                                         ****************** 
                                      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
G0RDH

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.



Findings

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