LEFARS Field Day approaches

It’s one of the times of year I always look forward to. It is when the club members pack all the gear into the cars and descend on a little pub called the Rainbow & Dove at Hastingwood, just off the M11 junction for Harlow.

The Rainbow & Dove. The location of good food and beer! and a big field for playing radios.

The Rainbow & Dove. The location of good food and beer! and a big field for playing radios.

What with the increase in electronic noise and interference (QRM), decamping to the countryside and setting up portable stations is sometimes the only way radio amateurs can work some of the more elusive distant stations around the world (DX). It also gives club members the opportunity to try out new antennas or equipment they might not be able to use at home do to having a diddy garden or being unable to run power without causing interference.

Me I have a neighbor with an extremely noisy plasma TV, who refuses to even allow me to get him a new LCD TV for FREE to replace it! So it is off to the field for me this weekend.

Field Day @ Rainbow & Dove 2015. (My Tri-bander was behind the camera)

Field Day @ Rainbow & Dove 2015. (My Tri-bander was behind the camera)

This week will be unlike others, as the battle wagon is currently off the road awaiting an MOT, so I will be turning up in the Jag, with a lightweight setup this year. I will be trying out my lightweight fiberglass military mast with an inverted V for 20 meters and running data (PSK 31, RTTY and anything else I can try). I might actually try the radiator of my 3 element beam on its own as a tri-band dipole & see how that works.

Tactical antenna mast ready for the weekend

Tactical antenna mast ready for the weekend

Whatever I get up to it will also include the club dinner on the Saturday evening, which usually sees about 18 of us crowd around a table for some fine food & beer. Some of the members will stay overnight and mind the fort, whilst I will have to go back home for the GB2RS news broadcast that I make at 09:30 every Sunday morning!

LEFARS will start to set up for the weekend starting Friday afternoon 26th and ending on afternoon of the 30th May 2016. Visitors are always welcome, although if you would like to join us for dinner on Saturday, you will have to book with Club secretary Marc Litchman.

Shack re-organised for Christmas

Most people are spending time getting ready for friends and family descending on their house for the Christmas festivities, but yours truly, under orders from the station manager has been busy trying to sort out the home office, which doubles as the Shack / Workshop / Broadcast Studio.

The main issue was that I had a mammoth sized broadcast mixer taking up a huge amount of space and all the Radio gear was piled high on my work desk, which was not conducive to the day job. I therefore took the plunge to sell the broadcast desk (I have another in garage if I ever need to do some broadcast work anyway) and utilise the space more wisely and this is what I have come up with:

Shack

It certainly has cleared up a huge amount of space on the desk & I can now get to work sorting the rest of the office! The big pipe snaking up to the window is the Air Con which is essential during the summer when all the gear plus no less than 5 computers can be on at the same time.

Still to add, the clutch of handies and

DMR, the voyage begins

OK, last week I took delivery of a TYT MD380. It is pretty much the same radio as the TYTTytera / Retevis, but with just a different badge. Apparently this is one of the last batches of TYT’s available from the supplier in Germany, and the next batch of radios he is getting will be Retevis. He said that the firmware is basically the same to, but might just be a newer revision.

I plugged mine in, downloaded the latest codeplug from LEFARS and updated it with my ID and copied into the radio. I switched it on expecting a rush of DMR traffic, but was disappointed not even being able to open the Barking repeater. A bit of home-brewing and I knocked up an SMA to PL259 connector, plugged in, connected to my collinear and it all burst into life. I was amazed at how easy I could get into NS (North Surrey) in Caterham, and of course Barking was now available and even better, the biggest surprise was Rochester (IK) which was giving me the highest signal levels in the area, even more than Thurrock (SE) and even though the coverage map does not even feature anywhere near my QTH in Hainault .

A weekend away for my daughters wedding in Devizes saw me test out the radio in the van, hitched up to an SG7900 antenna on the van, I easily got into Bristol (BS) while the Reading repeater remained elusive! In fact I managed to get into BS all the way out near Upavon, which was some feat!

It just goes to show that the coverage maps are a nice guide, but no-where near accurate! From the van I managed to have decent copies with someone in Ashford whilst near Heathrow, which I would never have been able to work simplex on 2m. So for communications on the move, it is undoubtedly a great mode if you want to talk to someone and not have the same challenges of working analogue modes. I will always keep the VHF / UHF and HF gear in the van though as that is my primary interest, but for a decent quality chat on the move, then DMR really does have its place.

I am also going to purchasing a dedicated antenna for 70cm now as well! Stacked dipoles so I can use it with a linear for GB2RS?