November 20, 2010

GQRP Convention 2010

Hello Folks,

Here's a basic report on another excellent GQRP convention held at Rishworth School. Members of Sands Contest Group attended the convention for different reasons not least to meet up with old friends, look around a good Radio Amateur based convention and listen to excellent talks in the lecture theater. It goes without saying that we all enjoyed Meat and potato pie followed by apple pie, and rumor has it that some even went back for seconds the food was so good.

One of the nice things about this convention is that its truly an amateur radio based event where the only time you see a computer working is in a supporting role to demonstrate a radio amateur based product.

Electromagnetica Replica Crystal Set.

Although I did not buy the item pictured below, it was beautiful to see and had I the money I would have been tempted.

(please note that you can increase the picture size by clicking on the image and in most cases increase again by clicking on the enlarged image)

This replica Crystal Set was made by an Amateur and it was being sold for a charity for £80

The set is housed in a nicely finished wooden box and a lot of time was obviously spent winding the coils.

Sadly I watched the set being boxed up at the end of the day unsold.

Alfred Vail Morse Key

I managed to pickup an Alfred Vail replica Telegraph key made by Kent Keys.

I have learned that my version of the key which has a satin finish, was only made until around Serial No. 250, from that time on the brass was given a highly polished finish. The key is still available along with information of its size etc on the link below.

The keys are well made and work surprisingly well but its always interesting to look back to the reason why the key was made in the first place and how it played its part in revolutionising communications in its day.

Alfred Vail

This is a picture of the original key which is housed at the Smithsonian Institution Washington DC

Key and Telegraph
The Vail Register

Edited by John Casale, W2NI

"On Friday, May 24, 1844 at 8:45 a.m., the telecommunications era in the United States began with the successful receipt of the message "What Hath God Wrought." That message was received on a telegraph register designed by Alfred Vail.

The link below with give you access to the full article including pictures of the telegraph register invented by Alfred Vail

As with many things in the history of communications the road was not always smooth and its my personal feeling based on the link below that Vail has not received the recognition he should have for his part in history.

You may find the following link interesting.... Its informative and well worth your time.

Its fascinating to think that this was a time of innovation and a communications revolution was taking place when Morse, Vail, Marconi, Tesla to name a few dared to put their thoughts and theory's to the test...... A parallel in our time would be the advent of the computer and the internet. Below is an interesting film showing what are now vintage radio's being made at the Tesla Phillips Radio Factory.

Then of course there are all the scientists.....

GQRP Convention Speakers for 2010

Ian Keyser G3ROO
Clandestine Radio around World War Two

One of the reasons I attended was to listen to G3ROO's talk on WWII Clandestine Radio and I was not disappointed. Ian had traveled up from Kent to give the talk and brought with him a number of exhibits. Ian explained the history of the famous suitcase sets used by SOE. He introduced details of the set itself starting with the (Mk1 Paraset) a little of the history, Ian believes there are only two Mk1 sets in the UK

B2 suitcase set designed by Major John I. Brown

Ian took us through a number of circuit diagrams explaining the curcuity of the set

Please click on the link for a short video of this set taken in the Science Lab just after lunch.

A MkII Paraset

for more information on the Paraset take a look at the following sites they are well worth your time.

The Paraset Project

How to make a replica Norwegian Style.

LA5MT - Asbjørn (Mike) Ursin

Mk 26 Receiver

Ian discribed finding the Mk 26 Reciever in the attic of a collector collector friend when he was looking around. Sadly nothing is known about the set apart from the fact that their are only three known in the UK. and the curcuit diagram is availabe.

Picture located on the site below

MCR1 Biscuit Tin Set

MCR1 Biscuit Tin Set manufactured in 1943

Ian gave a good description of the Miniture Communications Reciever 1 and brought along his own set for people to look at. Ian said he would be happy to turn the radio on later in the Lab but it failed with grim regularity

For more details on this set including maker, overall size of the unit and frequencies of operation please look at the site below. go down to Spy Set and select UK in the index.

1950's British Embassy Set

Although not a spy set Ian was able to show us a set that could be used in the Embassy or in the event that the embassy was over run, it could be transported easily to a safe house. Ian explained that the set was fully self contained with everything needed to operate found in the side pouches of the canvas carrying case. The set operated between 2 and 8MHz and Ian knows of some decent distances covered transmuting on 1/2w. The earlier types of this transceiver were housed in a wooden box. I have attached a link under the photograph to the VMARS site where details of this radio along with a good picture of the Transceiver on page 4 of the small pdf file.

The Embassy Set
SR128 (also known as Mk.128)

Thanks to for allowing a link to link their site, it's a great organisation and excellent resource centre.

Books & DVD's

If your interested in the work of the Y service then I can highly recommend "The Enemy is Listening by Aileen Clayton published in 1980"

The book gives a personal insight into how the Y service worked not only in the UK but other countries during WWII. It's still available in both hardback and softback, however If you can't find it on line then you should be able to order it via your local library.

Enigma Symposium 1997

1997 edition of the highly detailed accounts of the histories and achievements of Y Unit. Major Hugh Skillen was a codebreaker and linguist who worked at Bletchley Park from D-Day to VE Day.

Although collated by Major Hugh Skillen the symposium is made up of talks given by individual speakers at the symposium/reunion of people who worked at Bletchley part and in the Y service and makes for good factual reading from firsthand accounts. The book is A4 sized and has 194 pages. You will need to pay p&p extra.

  • Y section in the field (No.2 Canadian SW/SW1 Section)
  • Teaching Japanese Morse to the Royal Indian Airforce/German Naval Intercepts (Submarine warfare in Atlantic and Far East)
  • Swiss Enigma's
  • Collossus Revealed at last
  • Enigma Still Lives
  • Huts 11,11a,11b
  • Working Collossus
  • German Diplomatic Papers
  • The Ultra Americans
  • The US Converter 209
  • SCUs and SLUs
  • Comparison with the battle of France and the Battle of Kursk
  • The Testery
  • HMS Petard retrieval of documents from U-559
  • Hitlers Apologia 1937
  • The History of WW2
Why am I going into so much detail?
This is probably the last chance people will have to buy a new copy of this book which is one of a series no longer available. When Major Skillen died a few years ago his wife donated the remainder of his symposiums to BP and this is the last volume available and at £1.99 its a steal of a price.

Other books by Major Skillen well worth looking out for are:
  • Spys of the Airwaves 1989 ISBN 0 9515190 X
  • Knowledge Strengthens the Arm 1991 ISBN 0 9515190 1
  • Enigma & its Achilles Heel 1992 ISBN 0 9515190 26
These books are in Hardback standard size. You should be able to order a copy to read from your local library who will probably have to send off for it.

I can also recommend an excellent DVD by (Grindelwald Productions) "The Secret Wireless War" produced in 2002

The DVD has two 1 hour documentaries "Beyond Bletchley Park" tells the story of the RSS in part One and "Black Propaganda" is covered in part 2. I suggest you shop around for the best price on this item because prices do vary. It is available from Amazon new at £13.99 which seems a reasonable price.

Roy Cavanagh GM4VKI Cold War Transceiver

A photograph of Roy's R-354 Spy Set.

Roy GM4VKI complimented the talk on Clandestine Radio's by introducing a cold war transceiver, Russian spy radio set (Bumblebee) . He explained how agents would buy a 35mm film..... nothing strange in that this was an everyday item sold worldwide in chemists and camera shops for SLR camera's. Roy went on to explain how this film could be used for more sinister use.

The film is pulled from its canister... there was no problem with the film being exposed to light because it was not going to be used for taking pictures. The film would be split down the middle in effect creating two 16mm strips each with sprockets on one side. Holes were punched into the film using a specialised cutter, each hole punched represented a coded part of the message.

Once the message was completed the film would be offered to a slot at the bottom of the keypad and loaded to a start point via two buttons seen on the left of the keypad.

This radio had a number of options available to the operator to help him/her get their message through.

Option One
Encode your message through hole cut into the film using the keypad. This can be done quickly because the information was passed at 300 wpm.

Option Two
In the event of the film jamming etc a message could be typed in directly via the keypad.

Option Three
If all other methods failed then an agent could use the small morse key located at the top of the keypad. This was the least favoured method because it made the agent vulnerable to detection.

Morse Key located above the keypad.

The link below is a very informative site for information about the set and its accessories

Ian took a good number of radio's with him and both Ian and Roy had radio's in operation for everyone to see in one of the labs after his talk.

Roy Lewallen W7EL. A QRP Field Day

George introduced Roy Lewallen to a packed lecture theater at the convention.

Roy regaled us with stories about his introduction to the American QRP Field Day. He made the point that this was not a contest but rather a time where qrp amateur radio equipment could be field tested for use in local or national emergency's, not only the transmitters but also antenna's and masts Etc.

During his talk he showed us a number of antenna's he has used over the years, methods of getting antenna's over tree including a Slingshot, and he introduced us to his basic tool kit which covered most eventualities.

It was an interesting look at QRP Field in the USA

Although not mentioned during his talk Roy Lewallen is the creator of a very good program called EZNEC which allows you to create and test antenna's in a virtual environment. If you would like to see some screen shots and information about the program please take a look at the this link

Dave Starkie G4AKC
HF Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobile
Working DX whilst on the move

Dave Starkie gave an interesting talk on his passion of operating both Bicycle and pedestrian mobile. Dave described his stations pointing out the positives and negatives in operation. Dave counts himself lucky to live on the seafront in Blackpool.

Dave demonstrated a few of the antenna's that he uses and how they are adapted for different bands along with Solar Power on one of his other stations.

Battery Power Supply


Mobile Alinco Radio

21,100Km on the longpath on 20 Metres SSB. To listen to the contact please click on the link

If you would like to see a two page breakdown of Dave's equipment including photographs you'll find it published in the August 2010 edition of Radcom or on this link created by ZS1JHG for "Ham Radio Nation"


Sadly I was not able to stay for the final event of the afternoon although I feel sure it would have been an interesting Forum

Buildathon 2010

Photograph taken from the GQRP Website and taken by John G7NSN click on the link below to view other photographs in this series from the 2010 convention.

Project: A Manhattan style CW Transmitter for 40 metres This could be a companion to the receiver of last year’s Buildathon or a useful little transmitter in its own right.

Exhibits of Clandestine Radio in the Classroom

I am sorry to report that I have no information to relay on this set seen on the left of this picture.

Para-set MkII

QRP Exhibits

Sudden 40m Surface Mount Receiver by G3WBB

20m Receiver by Nick MW0NJP / ON4NIC

160m & 80M AM/SSB/CW Transmitter

The Touch & Go 80m QRP Transmitter built in 2010 by G4UMB

The Touch Keyer built by G4UMB

Pixie Set Construction Project built from a circuit in Sprat 1993

The Clippy Dot Dash Keyer

Ever had a problem reading your FT-817 display?

FT-817 image taken from the internet

Then take a look at this little gem!

The FT817 External Display built by G6SSF with remote keypad option.

I should have photographed the Remote Control which if memory serves me correctly was a programmable one remote does all.... It certainly worked well in the demo I saw.

Unless otherwise stated photography by Brian G0RDH

Well that concludes my review of the 2010 GQRP Convention I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings..... If you have never been and live outside the area, get a few friends together to help share the fuel bill and pay a visit..... you will not be disappointed! Rishworth School, is on the A672 (Ripponden) road from junction 22 on the M62.

73 for now
Brian G0RDH
(The Reluctant Contestor)