Out of Lockdown, Back to Work

Following many clubs coming out of lockdown, I have been really busy, not only having attended a number of LEFARS field events, but also re-engaging with a number of clubs with my RSGB RR12 hat on.

Working on the Bookstall at both the Huntingdon Radio Rally and the Cambridge repeater Rallies in September was a welcome return to some sort of normality with many people taking advantage of the Rallies to get out and about.

In addition, a physical visit to Braintree and District Radio Amateur Society (BADARS) was a welcome outing and an on-meeting with Cambridge and District Amateur Radio Club, kept me busy answering questions on a number of subjects.

Still to come in October I have a physical meeting with Sudbury and District Radio Amateurs (SAnDRA) and an on-line meeting with Thurrock Acorns.

I am currently enjoying my tenure as RR12 for the RSGB. Hopefully my enthusiasm for the hobby, honesty and willingness to help will demonstrate that the RSGB is there to support everyone in the hobby and to give a great service to it’s members.

Now, only if I had some time to play radio!!

SSL Woes sorted!

I was alarmed after some people that log into my repeater dashboard via this site said that there was an SSL issue with it.

Fortunately for my Repeater website, I host that on my own dedicated web servers that are run by my own company F.O.I.T Ltd or Farm Out IT! Sorting SSL’s for that site is a doddle, but this site pre-dates that site and is still hosted on 1and1 Ionos.

A quick phone call to Ionos and a bit of whinging later and they sorted it.. But I have to say that their SSL application process was as clear as mud, and their own help pages were returning a 500 error and were unavailable!

Anyway, they sorted it now, so all is well and good until December when the SSL will require renewing!

21st Century Radio

At long last I have finally taken the plunge and bought an SDR Tranceiver, and it is simply the best thing I have ever done!

The Flex 6300 SDR Tranceiver. A Radio without Knobs!

Smart SDR, the interface is exceptionally feature rich. I have upgraded to version 3 which allows remote access from multiple agents.. I have the agent on my laptop, my ipad and even my phone and can log in and run the radio from anywhere I have an internet connection.

Why go for an SDR? Well thing is the radio is the software.. which gets updated and improved all the time. The only way you can improve old radio’s is by getting a soldering iron out and hacking around with components and the like, but when most of the work is done in software, then mods are a snap.

The filtering is unbelievable and allows me to hear stations I could not hear on the Icom IC746. Even before applying filtering, 80m is now usable. The only fly in the ointment at the moment is that this radio did not have the internal ATU installed, and to get one would cost almost half of what I paid for the radio in the first place.

In order to run 2 aerials and to be able to remotely switch between them, that requires two auto ATU’s! One for each aerial socket!

Other than that, I am mightily impressed.

Actually, did I say a radio without knobs? Well I lied.. I got this as well…

New Appointment as RSGB Region 12 Regional Representative

It is with great excitement I have been accepted for the post of Region 12 Regional Representative of the RSGB.

This post, working with the district reps is a vital interface between the Radio Society of Great Britain and it’s members.

It is an important conduit which represents the RSGB to the grass roots of the hobby, helps distribute information to clubs, represents the RSGB at Rally’s and other events, and also takes up issues on behalf of members and brings them to the attention of the RSGB.

Having served as a District Rep for just over a year and with Keith Gaunt stepping down as RR12, I thought it better that I stepped up to have a go at this position rather than it be left vacant and run by a caretaker rep from another area.

It is a challenging job, which is even more daunting due to the size of the area I now cover, which includes Cambridgshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex.

I look forward to meeting as many clubs and amateurs as I can over the coming months & will do my best to represent the best interest of the hobby for both the RSGB and it’s members.

SNB /LEFARS Field Weekend

The August Bank Holiday weekend traditionally sees Loughton and Epping Forest Radio Society out and about on a field day, and for the past few years LEFARS has accepted an invitation from Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker Contest Group’ to share the SNB location for a join event.

SNB/LEFARS Autumn Field Day (Photo John Ray G8DZH)

Highlight of the weekend is usually the barbecue on the Saturday evening which usually consists of Ron White G6LTT and his long suffering XYL White flipping Burgers and sausages, why I brew up a large vat of chilli!

This year was no exception, and learning from last years BBQ, more planning went into this years, and RSVP’s were sent out to all club members and prospective guests in order to plan numbers.

For just £5 a head you got a burger in a roll, a hotdog and a bowl of chilli. There were also copious amounts of Tea available for those that had not taken any alternative beverages!

I was busy the night before (turning in at 2am) cooking the chilli with my own secret formula. My plan was to cook a chilli that has loads of flavour but not too much heat.. I was also brought along a bottle of Chipotle BBQ sauce to add a bit more zing if required!

Everything was going to plan until it came to the rice.. I left the container with the rice on the side in the kitchen and it was too much of a drive ot go and get it. Fortunately a quick visit to a local supermarket in Ongar resolved the immediate rice issue, but unfortunately another cropped up back on the site. Due to starting to cook the rice later than expected, the poor camping stoves available could not provide enough heat to boil the rice! This year I used a much bigger pot which needed considerably more heat. Panic avoided by Chris Smart who had a Petrol Stove which with it’s 5Kw output burner had the rice boiling in a jiffy!

Chris Smart makes sure I am not wrecking his stove! (Photo John Ray G8DZH)

Feedback was all positive and with no-one receiving food poisoning or chilli after-effects the next morning, my title of ‘Chilli Dave’ is safe for another year.

Lefarians and the SNB guys wait for Chris to give his verdict! (Photo: John Ray G8DZH)

It is well worth noting that some operating took place during the the weekend, with the Saturday being a little more laid back due to the effort required to setting up in the heat! Sunday was quite active with the stations able to take advantage of of the lift on the higher frequencies courtesy of Sporadic E. Even the UK was workable Inter-G on 20m!

Committee Member Andy Markham G8RZA on the left on 2m with Club chairman Dick Clark G4DDP working 6m both as GX4ONP/P (Picture John Ray G8DZH)

Small Job develops into a Marathon.

It has been a bit rough the last few weeks with periods of high winds, which necessitated the luffing of the Tenna Mast in the back garden. In fact I dropped it over in a bit of a rush one dark night and in the process forgot to slacken off the feeder at the same time as taking the tension off the halyard for the wire antenna, the centre of which is hung from the tower. In the process of dropping the mast, I ripped the feeder out of the plug in the balun!

The Tennamast with The MA5b, the Alpha Delta DX/CC wire antenna, 70cm 4 dipole array and Weather Station!

Today I had an hour to spare and thought I would put a new plug on the feeder and seal it up with some self amalgamating tape. Following the work on the feeder, I performed a quick test for impedance and SWR on a dummy load before putting the mast up again. At the same time, I replaced batteries in the weather station which has been down for a couple of months, but as I went to put everything back, I noticed that the 300 Ohm feeder for the 1/2 size G5RV had become disconnected from the RG58/twin feed adaptor (I use this for a listening antenna for a noise canceller). Upon closer inspection corrosion was responsible for the parting of the ways of the twin feeder from the crimped eye connections in the adaptor. Another repair later, plus re-positioning the beam on the stub mast (it had twisted out of alignment in the wind), and the antenna farm was back in business.

What was going to be a quick plug replacement ended up being nearly 2 hours worth of faffing around, but at least everything is up and running again now.

1st official visit as District Rep 123

21st January was my first meeting as a District Representative of the RSGB.

Regional Rep for Region 12 Peter Onion also attended Bishops Stortford Amateur Radio Society (BSARS) to introduce me to the club.

It was a pleasant evening meeting the club members and exchanging news and views.

Coming up over the next couple of months, introductions at Thurrock Acorns, Harlow and Havering, plus an official visit to Lefars (my own club, but wearing a different shirt!)

So begins what looks to be shaping up for a busy year. With some clubs receiving all too infrequent visits in the past, I am aiming to visit all the clubs on my patch at least three times this year. I am looking forward to representing the clubs and working with the RSGB for all the radio amateurs on my patch.

Appointment by RSGB as a Regional Representative

I am pleased to announce that I am now officially District Rep for the RSGB in District 12 Region 123.

The roll will include travelling to various clubs in the district, supporting Regional Rep Peter Onion in representing the RSGB and acting as a conduit between Clubs, Members and the RSGB.

I very much look forward to engaging with and representing RSGB members, Clubs and Radio Amatuers in the UK and Internationally, and the challenge of helping move the interest of the hobby forward in the future.

If anyone wishes their views to be forwarded to the RSGB, then I am your man, If you need help with EMC or planning issues, we can help.I can be contacted by my details which are listed on the RSGB website under the info for the Region 12 team at http://www.rsgb.org.uk/ 


GB2RS surprises

Some of you may know that I am a news reader for GB2RS, ‘The News Broadcasting Sevice of the RSGB’.

Most weeks it is a case of downloading the script on Saturday night, editing it for the local region and entering it ionto the autocue software I use for the next mornings reading. Then in the morning run downstairs into the shack, power up the radios, and key up on 145.525 and 433.525 Mhz at 09:00 to provide a simulcast for GB2RS.

Because the 2m frequency is used by the news reader from Ipswich at 09:30, I QSY to the local club frequency 144.725 Mhz to take signal reports.. and this weekend, I was suprised to hear ON3POJ pop up and say hi from Belgium!

This is not the first time either. I recently submitted a news story to RADCOM, the RSGB members magazine about unusual contacts I have had during the Signal Reports:

“Some amateurs go to great legnths to listen to GB2RS News but on the 11 March Hainault News reader Dave, M0MBD got a post-broadcast reception report from Steve M5BXB via his remote stationn in the Canary Islands.Steve often listens to GB2RS from home and gives reports, but this time he was using his phone to remote into his shack. Dave is used to DX reception  of his 2m & 70cm broadcasts, often ghetting reports from French stations and last December Johan, ON3POJ popped up with a report from Belgium.”

I would have loved to have scanned a copy of the news item and posted it here, but sadly copyright considerations prevent me from doing so.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the stations that call in with ‘Sig Reps’ (whichever Country you call from!) as it really make the news reading worthwhile. There is nothing worse than spending all the time prepping and being chained to the mic every Sunday morning if you are not sure if anyone is listening, or, worse still, no one is listening!


It has been a while since I have made an entry on the blog, so here it is:



This spring we decided to go on a short cruise. Because I have just taken over another company, I could not afford to be away for too long, so we booked a cruise from Southampton to Portugal. It would take in Vigo (Spain), Lisbon, Porto and Cherbourg and have two ‘sea days’.

As the cruise was so short, I was not going through all the rigmarole of getting the HF radio on the shop like I did for the Caribbean  on the Ventura, as I did not plan on operating on the ship.

I just packed the trusty MD380 and also a selection of codeplugs that I had on my laptop. It was all very last minute and I had not researched any of the repeaters that might be in range at any of the destinations, this would however not stop me from having a bit of fun!

Arriving at Vigo (feeling a bit woozy after the P&O Azura crashed through 6m swells in the Bay of Biscay), I tried every channel I had on the radio & could not connect with anything, so left the radio on the ship. All was not lost though as Vigo was celebrating the expulsion of Napoleons armies from the city in 1809. much fine local food, drink and music was on offer int he old town, as the locals came out to play (while the rest of the shops were all closed!).

I was back on the ship for our next stop, Lisbon, where the CT codeplug I brought with was duly loaded on the MD380. This was a much more successful affair with a number of repeaters opening up when interrogated. During a lull in the sightseeing I took advantage of a quiet moment to shatter the peace and tranquility with some CQ calls on the Worldwide Channel (See Photo above), using the call CT7/M0MBD/P. First response was a chap in Maine USA! Our taxi driver was mightily impressed with the American drawl emanating from my tiny radio and asked if the other station was really in America! Whilst the rest of the family took photo’s of a fine aqueduct (and me) I was deep in conversation relaying weather conditions and a description of the visa to my new buddy in Maine. The problem was I did not have a pen and paper to record the callsign and personal details of my American contact, but you will have to just trust me that I was not talking to myself in the photo!

Back to the ship and it was all on deck for the leaving party. I cheekily went up on the sun deck out of the way and had pit out a quick call as CT7/M0MBD/MM and was inundated with calls, once again from America. I worked about 4 stations as we steamed under the 25 De Abril Bridge (formally know as Ponte Salazar), with contacts on both the East and West coasts of the USA, including some chap in Yellowstone Park! One remarked that they could hear the wind, which was indeed getting up as we approached the mouth of the river Tigus and back into the North Atlantic Sea, so I beat a hasty retreat downstairs and got ready for dinner.

The visit to Oporto was uneventful radio wise as the codeplug did not feature any repeaters that were in range at this location, so the radio stayed n the ship and I concentrated on more important mattes, like visiting the wine cellar of my favourite Port manufacturer, Taylors! The weather was also highly changeable and we gave up walking around the centre of Oporto when we got drenched in a downpour!

A day at sea ensued where we were once again battered by ship ploughing through swells of 6m again at a speed of over 20 Knots! The jarring of the bow coming down into waves was so fierce that equipment from the roof over the main stage parted company with it’s fitting, crashed to the stage and bounced into someone, causing some of the shows to be cancelled for safety reasons. It also made for a weird experience trying to sleep at night as your body weight appeared to fluctuated +/- a few Stone with the rise and fall of the ship. Our location of our stateroom, near the bow of the ship did not help matters.

The last stop of the cruise in Cherbourg was more of shopping trip with our party stocking up on French bread and cheese! I got called back to the ship on business and had to attend to some work online, but managed to get off the ship again in the afternoon to have a look around the Nuclear Submarine ‘Le Redoubtable’ which is open to the public as part of a Maritime exhibition next to the cruise terminal. This was a fascinating look inside a ballistic missile carrying sub, which is the largest submarine open to the public in the world. What was impressive was how they managed to cut out the whole nuclear reactor section of the sub and replace it with a shell which, once you went past the engineering control room, made it appear you have entered a totally empty part of the cylinder!  Interestingly, from the sea (on the ship as we left port), you can still see the actual nuclear reactor portion of the sub which is being decommissioned in the naval dockyard! There was absolutely no playing radio on this part of the cruise as I could not find a suitable codeplug for France and I could not find anything that made any sense about DMR in France while surfing online!

So That was this years ‘Radio on Holiday’ so far! Just a few short contacts from Portugal on DMR, but even then it a too many for my family. It is perhaps just as well I did not take the HF station with me on this trip then!