March 04, 2021

That was the year that was Part 1

Hi Folks,

It has been some time since I last posted a blog on the Sands Amateur Radio Contest and Special Event Group mainly because I lost the password.  Thanks to Mark and Ian this has now been sorted and I hope to be able to post more regular blogs.

This is a two-part blog covering the year 2017.  I hope you find something of interest and visit us again soon.

Yorkshire Pudding Day

Our first event of took place over the weekend of 4th - 5th February with a special event station Celebrating the Great Yorkshire Pudding.
These pictures were taken from an earlier event 
Celebrating Yorkshire Pudding Day
Picture was taken from Trip Advisor
Our Hostess
at The Bridge Inn Tatham  
Steve & Frank

Below are some video clips and recipes

James Martin's Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy

Serves: 4


For the onion gravy:
25g unsalted butter2tbsp olive oil1kg onions, peeled and finely sliced2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped50ml dry sherry250ml white wine2tbsp plain flour1.2 litres fresh veal or beef stock1tsp soft brown sugar4 slices of baguette110g emmental cheese, grated
For the Yorkshire puddings:
225g plain flour8 medium free range eggs1pt whole milk55g dripping


For the onion gravy:
1. Pre-heat the grill to high.
2. Heat a large sauté pan and add the butter and oil. When hot add the onions and thyme and fry for 20-25 minutes over a low heat, until soft and golden brown.
3. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the sherry and white wine and cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
4. Stir in the flour and cook for a further minute, then pour in the stock.
5. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, and season with the sugar, salt and pepper.
6. Place the bread on a baking sheet and lightly toast, then add the grated cheese and return to the grill until golden brown.
For the Yorkshire puddings:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7.
2. Place the flour in a large glass bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs and whisk and gradually add the milk.
3. Let the batter rest for 24 hours.
4. Place a little of the dripping in a Yorkshire pudding tray and place in the oven until the fat is hot.
5. Remove from the oven and pour in the batter. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Turn down the heat to 190°C, gas mark 5 and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Lancashire's revenge takes place each year with the World Championship Black Pudding Throwing Contest which takes place every year on Bridge Street in Ramsbottom.  The aim of the game is to knock as many Yorkshire Puddings off the gantry as possible by throwing black puddings at them.

Black Pudding throwing contest

The best Black Puddings are made in the nearby town of Bury

Hairy Bikers

Hairy Bikers

ARRL Dx and WPX Competition March 2017

This was not a good event for us or most of the country due to a series of Arora that took out HF Communications but we gave it a good go.

Archive picture of our antenna array
Hancocks Radio Hut

Antenna team 
Mark, Hughie, Frank, Steve, Brian

Brian G0RDH, Mark M0DGK, Hughie G4UME, Frank G8BME, Steve G1TLQ, Andrew G1LWU, Stephany G1LAT.

Brian and Mark tried to set the ball rolling with the graveyard shift but after a couple of hours decided to close down due to lack of activity.  The rest of the team literally took up the slack for the rest of the event and saved the day.

We faired a little better with the WPX contest at the end of the month.

Tour De-Yorkshire

Mills on the Air 6th -7th May

July 20, 2017

March ARRL Field Day and ARRL WPX Contest 2015

ARRL Field Day
Our first contest of the year in March did not go very well at all, we had a good team to put the antennas up but we were short of operators to cover the 48 Contest.  All was not lost it was decided that we would use the weekend as a training exercise ready for the WPX contest at the end of the month. This was a good call because it allowed members to get used to the new logging software and to hone their skills without the pressure of contest conditions.

ARRL WPX Contest

40m Phased Verticals
An addition to the usual aerial farm at Oysterber for the 2015 CQWPX SSB contest were a pair of phased verticals for 40m. These were provided by Stewart G3RXQ prior to being set up at his home QTH in Melling.

The verticals are a couple of 12m Spiderbeam poles set ¼ wavelength apart (33ft on 40m), and orientated roughly East/West. The elements are wires 31ft long attached to the poles.

Each vertical was installed over 21 ¼ wavelength ground radials and fed via 50 ohm RG213 coax from a center mounted phasing/switching box. Inside the box were relays which could be remotely switched from inside HRH to reverse the feed to the verticals.

Installation on-site was fairly quick with the laying out of the radials taking the longest time. However, when the resonance of each element was checked one was found to be spot on (7.1MHz), but the other much lower (around 6.9MHz). This remained a mystery until after the contest when it was noticed that the radials of the LF vertical were laid right over where the 20m vertical has its ground plane. Moving the array further up the field should remove the problem.

Despite being somewhat off-tune those who used the array in the contest seemed quite pleased with the performance. Nearly double the number of station were worked on 40m in this years WPX compared with 2014. The number of prefixes worked should also be up. 

The antenna currently being built by the group should have a similar performance and prove most useful in future contests.

Stewart G3RXQ

Thanks to Stewart for the input on the contest and antenna's


November 10, 2014

2014 CQ WW SSB Contest Notes: Tim, G4DPT

First the humorous bit: So there I am holding up the 40m vertical - a
bit wobbly - holding on to it for grim life and seem to be very unsteady on my feet, while Ian, G0VGS, guys it. He says "hold it steady Tim" I reply "it's my wellies - they're too tight for me - making me wobbly!!" Ian creased up and reckoned this worthy of his repertoire of funny stories. Found cause of problem when I took my wellies off, there inside soles was a neatly folded pair of thick over socks - no wonder I was wobbly!!!

On Friday afternoon Ian gave me a refresher on contest operation of the rigs and PC software, however found myself on my own at start of contest on Friday night and due to apprehension didn't get stuck in until 1/2 hour or so in - on Search and Pounce. Also forgot command to change op (Ctrl O), so my first session was logged as G1T instead of G4DPT, oops!! (Thanks to Nick for putting me right on Saturday night.)

40m was densely packed with stations so stayed on Search & Pounce - one exotic DX station in a permanent pile up alluded me for a while - although I had worked him easily as G4DPT 5 by 9 both ways just before contest. 40m stayed open until I went home at 04:45 (local) feeling slightly weary, but satisfied and I'd had fun; although my hourly contact rate was appalling compared with last year when I had a clear night run frequency on 80 metres with a pile up of Stateside stations calling me. Passed Hughie at crossroads near Oysterber Farm, on my way home, and managed to shout loud enough to stop him for a few words about the contest ....

Wasn't back again until 23:30 (local) Saturday night. The long distance DX on 40m was excellent, better than Friday night – including some rare prefixes - although quite a lot of stations were dupes by then. I regretted having to leave half way through Saturday night at about 03:30 (02:30 Zulu) when the band was still wide open, but was grateful for the extra hours sleep after previous night!!

An excellent contest result, despite initial lack of entries on the operating Spreadsheet before the start of the contest. My personal thanks to everyone involved especially Ian, G0VGS, without whose help, dedication and operating we would have had less fun and a much lower overall score!! Suggest we consider putting up 80m antenna next time.

73 to all,
Tim, G4DPT

Blog Entry by Nick 2E0TBT

Arriving on the Saturday 25th October the bands was in full swing, antenna's used was 40m, 20m, 15m &10m verticals,  equipment Elecraft K3, KPA-500 amplifier (400w), Heil Pro-Set Plus (HC5 insert), logging by N1MM. The day seemed to go quickly and by evening we had made a fair number of qso's into the log, by the time I left at 10pm that evening we had 550,000 in the log.. would we make the magical million?

Arriving Sunday the 40m vertical had been removed due to the fierce winds we encountered during the night so was best to remove the antenna, leaving us with 20m, 15M & 10m. For the most part of the day, 20m &10m was the busier bands with long periods of time on these bands, 15m was hit and miss. When we finished the contest roughly around 20:45pm that evening we was very impressed to break the "million" points and worked 113 DXCC over the weekend. 

G1T Operators during the weekend was 2E0TBT (myself), G0VGS (Ian), 2E0DTG (Dave), G4UME (Hugo), G4DPT (Tim), G1TLQ (Steve) and G0LWU (Andrew).

Nick Hall 2e0tbt

Sadly I was unable to make the event, my thanks to Tim and Nick for their thoughts on the contest.  I know all who attended had a good event which was relaxed with a gentle sprinkling of humour 

September 10, 2014

Leighton Moss 50th Anniversary GB50LM and Flora & Fauna


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

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.


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.

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

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