Club VHF Night

VHF night was a great success. Club members that may not have access to a decent VHF takeoff normally or may not have VHF SSB gear took the opportunity to play radio from the local high spot of Mow Cop on the Cheshire Staffordshire border. Pictures below.

Lewis M3HHY was kind enough to make a video of him working the G6TW/P station on Mow Cop. Members of the club all met on Mow Cop to try for some VHF DX.

 

GB2SPC

On Saturday 12th September as a club we went to CHOTA. (Church’s on the air). We were operating from St Peter’s church at Leighton-cum-Minshull Vernon.

We set up two stations, 2M and HF(40M). Once Chris G1PUV, Pete G4RRM, Clive G7APM, Jon 2E0JZC, Tony 2E0CKM and Mike M0MBG put up the antennas, we all settled down to have a great day, but things didn’t go well. First thing was that we couldn’t hear anything on 2M, but Chris G1PUV could hear calls on his handheld, but the shack radio was quiet. So we changed the antenna to the one Chris had on his car, and with that we could hear calls on the shack radio again. So we ended up using a 7/8 mag mount on Chris’s car, although we could hear people talking, no one was coming back to our CQ’s, but we kept calling and we eventually managed some QSOs.

But HF was not plan sailing either, Pete G4RRM was also having antenna trouble too having to change to another G5RV.  Once Pete, Jon, Mike and Clive had changed the antenna, Pete managed to work Cyprus, Bahrain and Israel, which was very good seeing all the bands were having an off day.

Half way though the day we have some unexpected guests  show up, Steve and Baz. They popped in on their way back from another club where they had been erecting antennas on a mast. It was good to see them again.

So all in all, it was a slow day but it was good to be out as a club playing radios.

Laura-Jane M3MYX

 

 

 

May Special Event Stations

Digger (left) and Jake handling some coax

Digger (left) and Jake handling some coax

May has been a busy month for members of the club. Firstly Mills on the Air early in the month, where the club put on a station at Bunbury Water Mill.

Jake working VHF in the distance, then Chris in the middle working HF and Laura logging for Chris

Jake working VHF in the distance, then Chris in the middle working HF and Laura logging for Chris

The station was operated on both Saturday and Sunday on HF and just Sunday for VHF. Being a water mill, the QTH was somewhat in a dip compared to the surrounding terrain. This meant that VHF was difficult, with less than 10 QSOs held on 2m, though those worked did seem to appreciate some activity in the local area.

HF was a completely different story however. 40m seemed full of activity on both days and with plenty of other special event stations at other Mills around the UK and Europe on the band, it was pile-up galore. Pete also did some CW on 40m. 2 videos of this event can be seen at the end of this post.

G6TW Radio tent at Worleston Village Hall

G6TW Radio tent at Worleston Village Hall

Later in the month on the 30th was the opening ceremony of Worleston Village Hall. Located a few miles outside of Nantwich and Winsford, the village of Worleston is now blessed with a brand new village hall. Since it seems that you hear more of community halls closing and not opening as of late, many turned out to the ceremony to celebrate the opening.

Chris working the HF station at Worleston Village Hall

Chris working the HF station at Worleston Village Hall

Both HF (40m) and VHF/UHF (2m and 70cm) stations were operated by club members. This time the terrain was far more favourable for VHF and UHF and many more QSOs were made on these bands, both on FM and SSB. 40m was also busy for most of the day, though conditions didn’t seem as favourable on the band compared with mills on the air weekend.

Operating was sometimes difficult as they also had a brass band performing for a while during the ceremony, as some could no doubt hear over the radio!

Chris on the left, Jake on the right working VHF at Worleston Village Hall

Chris on the left, Jake on the right working VHF at Worleston Village Hall

The event itself was a success with many attending, with some being licensed amateurs that we hadn’t seen before just checking our station out! A fun day was had by all.

 

All in all, a busy and fun month for all those at the South Cheshire Amateur Radio Society.

73

Jake 2E0SEY

Antennas in a restricted area

When I was house hunting in Cumbria, I fell in love with a wee cottage in Underbarrow, just outside of Kendal. At the time it seemed perfect; country living, a detached cottage, and a low noise floor. “Great”, I thought, “I can have the Cobwebb and a 2m mast on the house, run a dipole out in the garden” and so on. I was so taken I even bought a Hexbeam and rotator to mast mount at the side of the house.

A quick look at my QTH on QRZ.com shows the first obstacle; the shared garage and parking area between my house and the back garden. (Click on the photos to open a larger version).

Nowhere to put an antenna or run a feedline

Nowhere to put an antenna or run a feedline

 

You might just be able to make out the overhead electrical power lines supplying the cottages. The shared parking area precludes running a feed line to the garden, whilst the power lines rule out mounting any antenna on the house.

And power lies preclude roof-mounted antennas

And power lies preclude roof-mounted antennas

 

My temporary workaround was to put a push-up 12m Clansman mast in the back garden for the Cobwebb, and operating outside when the weather is fine. It’s not ideal, and I had to install an external hi-gain wireless access point for internet access when in the garden. So, where else could I put an antenna?

I have a Comet CH250-BX vertical, originally bought for the side of the house on a 12m mast – but the adjacent power line carries a risk of cutting off the neighbours power supply if the mast or antenna collapsed. Enjoying a pipe one day, it occurred to me that the “front” garden was far enough away from the overhead lines to ground-mount the vertical, and still close enough to feed with coax. The feedline would run across the driveway, but could be protected with a rubber cable cover and packed away when not in use. A quick guestimation survey later, and… excellent, it’s ‘doable’!

So, how to ground mount a vertical such that I’m not having to disassemble it when not in use, or in high winds: in January, we recorded a wind speed of 100mph! It blew a tree down onto one of my cars, and blew the garage doors clean off!. The obvious solution is a tilt mast, until I found how much they cost! There had to be cheaper way… I had some old scaffold poles, could I use them?

Could I fit an antenna in here?

Could I fit an antenna in here?

 

The ground was soft enough to drive a scaffold pole in, and almost firm enough to hold it. Now, how to make a tilt mechanism? That was solved after seeing some swivel scaffold clamps; I had an idea that I could clamp the antenna to a short length of scaffold, in turn attached to the support pole in the ground.  Scaffold clamps were easy to come by in a village with four builders and a scaffolder. Originally I intended to use a swivel clamp at the bottom to provide the tilt mechanism, and a double clamp at the top to lock the pole in place.  In practice, a double clamp is too rigid, and as there is very little gap between the two poles it is impossible to fully raise/lower the antenna when fully lowered/raised. Replacing it with a second swivel clamp solved this; it is easier to fit to both poles, and the swivel allows me to compensate for the not-quite-vertical support pole.

A vertical on a homebrew tilt support!

A vertical on a homebrew tilt support!

 

It fits!

It fits!

 

A trip to an electrical store for an earthing rod and some electrical cable, a quick cut round the hedges to clear the antenna area when tilted over, and I was all set. It only took a few minutes to drive the pole in, mount the antenna bottom section for sizing and cut the excess, and attach the clamps.

Would it work? Would the nearby power lines fry the antenna? The rig? Me? Would it work without radials? Lets try… there was no high-voltage arcing from power line to antenna, nor was I fried. The antenna receives well, I could hear stations, there seemed to be little interference. Could I transmit? Tune to 20m, and a contact with a French callsign. Tune to 40m, success, contact with Germany. It was getting dark, so I stopped there.

Up, and working on an FT-897

Up, and working on an FT-897

 

You might have noticed I only mentioned radials in passing… because there isn’t enough room at all to run radials. But, much of what has been written about radials is, in my opinion, a regurgitated version of someone else’s regurgitated opinion found on the Internet.  Yes, a vertical will work better with radials. No, it does not need 120 radials each 1/4 wavelength long. 1 or 2 will work, 3 or 4 will work better. 10-15 are pretty much optimum; after that the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in. But thinking about radials for a moment, who said radials had to be arranged in a star-type configuration around an antenna? If antennas can be bent, such as the Hexbeam and Cobwebb, so can a radial. And if an antenna can be circular or helix shaped, such as TakTenna and VHF special-to-purpose antennas to receive weather satellite data , so can radials. The whole point of a radial is to improve the ground conductivity, as the ground mounted vertical is an image antenna with the image half being the ground it is fed against. So, my idea is to lay chicken wire over the garden, thus creating a sort-of ground-plane, and then run three or four radials out in a spiral, as far as I can, all under an inch or two of manure.  Although I could mount the antenna higher, sloping radials would be a waste due to limited space, and the juxtaposition of the road; I wouldn’t want an inquisitive rambler to touch a radial carrying a high PD! I also need to look at whether insulating the support pole makes any difference or not in operation, although I’m not sure how I could achieve that.

Fishing line guys will be needed.

Fishing line guys will be needed.

 

Now I was looking at my porch, having a pipe, when it occurred to me that it would make a nice little summertime shack…. another day! In the meantime, I’m going to make use of the copper earth rod I banged in at side of house for a random long wire from the office window to the back garden!

I could put a shack in there!

I could put a shack in there!

Next, a random long-wire from the office window area to the back garden, passing under a mains supply line, and capable of rapid erection and disassembly.

K1N Navassa – Once in a ‘lifetime’ opportunity

A heads up that in two days time, there is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to work a #1 most wanted entry. The K1N DXpedition will be on Navassa Island. Full details at http://www.navassadx.com

I don’t think the Cobwebb will work too well at 8m, so I’ll be extending the guys to put the mast up to full 12m – just in case the weather is ‘clement’ and I can work outdoors. So I guess I’ll be installing a vertical, with a chicken-wire groundplane in place of radials, and an end-fed of some description out the window. I might even try a homebrew tak-tenna, 80m spiral dipole that takes up just 30″ of space!

Funeral of Steve Bloor

Clive (G7APM) and I (M3MYX) attended the funeral of Steve Bloor today, the scout leader from Wilson House Scout Group, who died suddenly just before Christmas, as representatives of SCARS.

The Funeral itself was held at St Michael’s Church, Coppenhall. The Scouts provided a guard of honour outside the church. The Church was packed with mourners, with as many standing at the back of the church as were seated. Steve was then cremated at the Crewe Crematorium.

Everyone met afterwards at Wilson House, where Clive and I paid our respects to Steve’s wife and family on their loss. They thanked us for coming on this sad day, as part of SCARS. They also said that Steve was happy that SCARS had moved into Wilson House and was really appreciative of all the club did for the scouts during JOTA.

 

Laura-Jane M3MYX