May 28, 2013

Well Done Guys

Sat listening to our guys operating SZ8S on Samos this afternoon. They have been a joy to listen to and have been very professional, despite the usual chaos from a few EU stations. This is the final day of radio as they fly back on Thursday although, I suspect, it won't be the last visit. I am sure that there will be a few personal entries on this blog by the team when they get home!
Well done to all of you and have a safe flight.

Linda G0YLM

May 24, 2013

Wray Scarecrow Festival 2013 Part 1 of 2

Hi Folks,

I have will be posting the blog in two separate parts because of the overall size.  Part one will cover a short section on the setup of the Wray Scarecrow festival/GB4RN station along with the Vintage Vehicles on display and Part two will cover the station in more detail along with a host of other information about the event

Please note: Unless otherwise stated all images used in this blog were taken by me and may be used freely for non-profit making ventures with the exception of the Wray Festival Committee who may use them as they see fit to promote future events.

This review is a little late but I thought you might like to see what the group has been up to prior to some group members flying off to the Island of Samos.  We were invited for a return visit to the Wray Scarecrow Festival.  The village puts this festival on each year during April leading up to the big Mayday bank holiday weekend.

The Festival usually has a theme and this year it was on the written word "Read Me" Residents of Wray Village who run the event each year create scarecrows that can be found in various places around the village, anywhere from outside the houses up, lamp posts, in the grounds of the village schools.

Theres a library of pictures on the Wray website dating back to 2006 .  They are filed in year and include over 100 taken this year available on the link below

With the exception of Saturday 4th May, the diary of events listed below are copied from the Wray website where you can find all sorts of information and pictures of the event.

Saturday 27th April
Start of festival, 10km Road race (13:15)
Sunday 28th April
Car boot sale (starting at 08:00)

Thursday 2nd May  
Classic bike night (Tearooms 19:00 to 21:00)
Friday 3rd May
Giant Scarecrow Parade (20:00)

Saturday 4th May.

Sands Contest Group arrived on Saturday to set our base and antenna up for the Bank Holiday events.  One of our members Paul 2e0CKC with his wife Marion were good enough to host the event from their caravan and awning.

 Our base for the weekend
 Frank and Amber returning after a walk.

Our antenna for the weekend was a 40m dipole anchored at both ends to a tree.
Thanks to work carried out by Damien who took a bend out of our jimpole we were able to mount the mast in the jocky wheel housing at the front of the caravan and get the centre feed around 25ft high. This worked perfectly for us because there was no need to guy the mast making the antenna system as risk free as possible.

Homemade Cakes

Ian, Hughie and I made for the tea room housed in the community centre where Hughie was good enough to treat us to tea and homemade scones with double cream and strawberry jam.   This did nothing for our wasteline but boy was it good!  For those who were hungry at dinner time there was excellent homemade fair to sample. 

The house with the green painted window frames is the vicarage which was built some time before the house with the black door.

Sunday 5th May
Vintage Market and Classic Vehicle Show (10:00)

Mk1 Jaguar
For those of you who watched the recent prequel to the (Inspector Morse) series "Endeavour" a Mk1 Jaguar was used by the Chief Inspector

An artistic  picture of the inside of the Jaguar

 Under the Hood

 A smart set of wheels

This 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300SL belongs to Frank G8BME

Under The Hood
Mercedes-Benz 300SL 3 litre engine in a sports car. 

Morgan 3 wheeler or Messerschmitt by Fitz Fend? 
I suspect this is a Morgan!

Please click on the link below for more information

Royal Enfield 
1923 Royal Enfield 225cc.

WWII Military Vehicles

Please note that all the weapons seen below have been legally modified so that they cannot fire live rounds and that the owners of vehicles and weapons take part in re-enactments 

Lee Enfield Rifle

 I think this is a M2  .50 Cal Browning machine gun.  Although used in WWII, 
so effective was this gun that Variants of this machine gun 
are still in use with the armed forces today

 for a more in depth look at this weapon please click on the link below.

Military Police Jeep

 This gun has been modified so that there is no way it can 
fire a live round
 The Thompson Sub Machine Gun

The pictures of vehicles on display is just a short select of those taken on the day and I am happy to post more upon request. 

The Vintage Market : Sunday 5th May 2013 (11am - 4pm)
This event was introduced to the festival in 2012 and was very succesful. Hence its ressurection in 2013. The market attracts traders in vintage items (These are technically items over 25 years old) including clothes, ornaments accessories and even furniture. If you're are looking to buy these kind of items then this is the perfect small market. You never know you might pick up a bargain. If you are a vintage trader then this is a good venue and with the attraction of the scarecrows (and this year the classic vehicles) we expect a decent number of visitors. There is no charge for visitors to enter the field or marquees on the day  so why not pop along for a browse. The market opens to visitors between 11am and 4pm

Sunday 5th May
Ball race down the river (14:00)

May 20, 2013

Busy on the Bands

The last two days have seen plenty of activity from us on HF. Today was particularly good with plenty of contacts on 15m and 20m. The pileups have been huge and we have been working through the callsigns by numbers or by 'listening up'. Managed to contact a few of our members back in the UK.

Bob elected to stay back at base today and sample the delights of the pool and the sun (it's a hard life but somebody has to do it)

The weather is very hot and sunny and is forecast to continue like this for the next week at least. We do intend to do more sight seeing as well as radio. That's it for now :)


May 19, 2013

Radio Day

Today, conditions permitting, we hope to air the callsign SZ8S.
The holiday continues to be fantastic for all of us and the weather is perfect.

May 16, 2013

A Visit to Bletchley Park

Matthew and I arrived in Milton Keynes on Saturday afternoon around 3.30.
As we had missed lunch, we found a local pub, appropriately named the
Enigma Tavern. We were pleasantly surprised at the low prices. We had
two reasonable meals for about £7.50 each.

We knew we were on the right side of MK for our accommodation which was a village pub about 4 miles from BP. Getting out of MK in the right
direction proved challenging. (I must get a new GPS.) Eventually we
headed ├Čn the right direction and found the village. Again the pub meal
prices were very good as we decided to have another meal about 8.30.
The locals in the bar were also very friendly.

Around 10am the next day we set off for BP. We got our tickets and the
brochure. Fortunately it was quite quiet. The main displays are located
in Block B which featured a number of original models of Enigma machines,
as well as Mussolini's encrypting device. One of the guides had just
started a demonstration of a working 3-wheel Enigma, which was
fascinating to watch.

As this finished he was followed by a demonstration of a replica Bombe,
which was shown providing possible solutions to daily Enigma machine
settings for real messages intercepted at Y-stations in WW2. The Bombe
acts as 36 enigma machines running in parallel, to rule out incorrect key
settings. It was all built around authentic Post Office relays (still in
use on our computer Block Switching Chassis at the power station). The
basis of the Bombe is having an identified Crib message, from which a
"menu" is formed . The crib is a predictable message such as "Nothing to
report". Having spent about 30 minutes quizzing the guides, I feel I
have just scratched the surface of the Bombe techniques used at BP for
the breaking of cyphers.

We then moved on to some of the other Blocks and huts, many of which are still being renovated. Hut 6 was used for decrypting German Army and Air Force messages. A special chute was devised to send the messages to hut 3. This was so that each unit would not know what techniques the other was using. Hut 3 would then translate and analyse the plain language messages passed to them. Each decrypted message (known as Ultra) was written as if it had come from an agent in the field, to disguise the fact that they had been decrypted from the original intercepted Enigma transmissions.

The whole process of Enigma decryption was taking place at BP on an
industrial scale, for once the settings for the day were obtained, all
messages intercepted on that particular network could be decoded from
midnight until midnight the next day

We then went to the National Radio Centre on the site. We were met by a
local radio amateur after which we undertook the short journey around the
exhibits. They were well thought out, but a guide would have been useful
for demonstrating to the public each of the interactive exhibits, which
were gain, modulation, detection etc. We then reached the end of the
short set of exhibits to find the GB2RS station operating on 17m. The
bands seemed OK as he was just working a JA on the beam. The station was very professional-looking , but I could not help thinking that it would
have been good to also have a much simpler station on show. Anyone
thinking of taking up the hobby would probably have been put off by the
expensive array of computers, transceivers and displays making up the

We then made our way to some of the other huts including one featuring
the role of homing pigeons during the two world wars. Another hut featured
radios used by the Diplomatic service. Yet another hut had been used by
Ian Flemming (007 fame) and had been kitted out with items showing his
involvement at BP. Around 3.30 we were treated to a very low level
flypass of a Dakota; a part of the Battle of Britain Memorial team.
By 5.00 we had seen most of the site, but not the separate exhibitions
of Colossus, and the National Computing Museum.

We returned the next day (tickets are valid for one year) in order to
see the remaining items. We found out that the Computing Museum does
not open till 1pm. The decision was made to book on a tour in order to
get a better overall feel for the activties which had taken place on the
site around WW2.

This was well worthwhile and finished around midday. The hut housing the
re-built Colossus was now open, so we paid it a visit. This machine was
used to decode the very high grade messages encrypted on the 12-wheel
Lorenz machines used by Hitler and other senior German figures.

The Lorenz machines generated RTTY messages directly, which were
encrypted using binary addition of a key. The same binary addition was
applied at the receiving end which then restores the original message.

After a severe security lapse by a German operative, in which the same
message was resent using the same key and settings, but with abreviated
text; a mathematician was able to determine the number, wiring and use
of the 12 wheels despite never having seen such a device.

Colossus was built using several thousand valves, of which it was said
that it would be unreliable. Designer Tommy Flowers proved otherwise,
as he knew the machines would be running 24 X 7, thus significantly
improving their reliability. (The re-built Colossus has a failure rate
of about 5 valves per year - the equates to a MTBF of 10 weeks).

The Colossus acted as a semi-programmable parallel computer. This
computer, the world's first, used parallel processing techniques such
that only a modern dual core processor is able to achieve anywhere
near the same speeds.

After this we spent a couple of hours in the National Computing Museum.
Just about every computer system I have ever worked on was represented
here, from ICL 2900 mainframes to PDP-8's & 11s and Ferranti Argus
computers as still used in Heysham power station. We also saw the
amazing "WITCH" computer in action. This is the worlds oldest original
computer system still working. You can read the instruction codes and
data directly from the store as it is all visible.

One of the best displays was of the old West Drayton Air Traffic Control
system. A friend of mine (Eddie Richardson, the original owner of Walton
Radar Systems) had designed this PDP-11 based system to enable for the
first time, the recording and replay of ATC data. The system was
re-running in real-time the actual ATC displays from West Drayton some
20 years ago.

We eventually got away from BP around 3.30. Apologies for such a long
post, but hopefully it conveys some of the wonder of yesteryear. If
you get the chance to visit BP, then I would highly recommend it. There
is still a lot more renovation work to be completed, so I will try to
make a return visit in about 2 to 3 years.

It was fascinating to wander around the BP site knowing that the fate
of the entire world once lay in the hands of the dedicated scientists
and cryptologists who worked in total secrecy before, during and also
after WW2.

Andrew, G0LWU

Five Go to Samos......again!

After an uneventful journey down to Gatwick we are still waiting to board the plane. It has been delayed for 3 hours, so we should fly about 10.30!
For Ian G0VGS it is his first flight abroad and for Bob G1OCK it's his first visit to the Island. For Hughie G4UME, Stephany G1LAT and Barrie G1JYB it's a return to this fabulous Greek island.
For now we are going to relax and wait for boarding.