What is Amateur Radio?
Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications. Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by international treaty. As a radio amateur you are able to transmit radio signals on a number of frequency bands allocated specifically to the radio amateurs.
Radio amateurs make use of their frequencies in a number of ways:
Contacting people all over the world by radio which often leads to developing international friendships
Competing in international competitions to test how effective your equipment is, and how good you are as an operator
Technical experimentation — many of the leaps forward in radio technology have been initiated by radio amateurs
Communication through amateur space satellites or with the International Space Station (which carries an amateur radio station)
Providing communications at times of emergencies and undertaking exercises to ensure you keep the capability to do so.
There is no better way to explore the fascinating world of radio communications than by becoming a radio amateur. A 1910 announcement by the then HM Postmaster General licensed “experimental wireless”, which still uniquely gives radio amateurs the ability to innovate without commercial or statutory controls even in the closely regulated environment of the 21st century.
Getting Started in Amateur Radio.
Anyone can listen in to amateur radio transmissions. If you’re new to amateur radio, then listening-in for a while is a good way to get a feel for what is going on.To become a radio amateur, licensed to transmit, you will need a brief period of study, and to pass a simple practical and theory examination. The Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (NARC) provides the examinations to enable you to become a radio amateur and then to progress through the various levels of licence — three in all. Study for the first level is straightforward and can often be accomplished in a weekend. More details about the exams can be found here or contacting the committee via the contact us page.
Last week was a mixed bag. As predicted we had geomagnetic storming, thanks to the effects of a large coronal hole and its associated high speed solar wind stream, but we also had some good HF conditions at times.
With the solar flux in the low 80s, propagation was dominated by the impact of solar material on Tuesday, with the subsequent rise in the K index to five and even six.
The initial onset brought a pre-auroral enhancement with many stations reporting good HF conditions. But this was soon tempered by poorer conditions later in the week.
Visible aurora were reported at higher latitudes and a UK-wide red aurora alert was issued by Lancaster University on the 27th.
Next week, NOAA predicts that the solar flux index will decline into the mid 70s.
Geomagnetic conditions will remain unsettled until later in the week, with the K index likely to hit four at times. We may then get a bit of a respite with more settled conditions on Friday and across the weekend of the 8th and 9th.
You can then expect maximum useable frequencies over a 3,000km path to hit 18, or perhaps even 21 Megahertz at times.
We won't see any significant activity on 10 metres until the Sporadic E short-skip season starts in a few weeks.
VHF and up
Two widely-used weather models are predicting a developing high just after the weekend. One has it starting today.
For the VHF, UHF and SHF bands, this means a good week with the prospect of some useful Tropo once the unsettled weather at the start of this weekend has moved away.
Most areas are likely to benefit from Tropo paths within the UK, across the North Sea and down to the south across Biscay. There are often two temperature inversions in this type of pattern, one due to the high itself, producing an elevated duct somewhere between 1km and 2km in height.
The second type is often found near the surface at the end of a night time of cooling. This one is less reliable, since it will often disperse after the sun begins to lift the daytime temperature.
This tropo should make the 144MHz UKAC and FMAC contests very interesting on Tuesday evening.
Isolated heavy showers this weekend might have brought rain scatter, but they’ll be gone by the start of next week.
The Sporadic E season has not quite started yet, but it can’t be far away.
The Moon is at high declination early this week, so long windows of moon visibility. We are past perigee, so losses will increase as the week progresses.
Steve G0KYA had a pleasant surprise on Wednesday 29th March when he worked the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City in Russia on 20m SSB.
Turned out that Steve was talking to Colonel Doug Wheelock RA/KF5BOC, a former commander on the International Space Station (ISS) and who is currently involved with training astronauts for NASA.
Doug and Steve were able to have a quick chat and Steve mentioned how NARC had been involved in the ISS school contact with UK ESA astronaut Tim Peake.
When they finished the pile-up started - big time!
Steve subsequently received a tweet from Doug and responded with a link to the video Robert G4TUK shot of the Tim Peake contact on the ISS. It would be great if the link was shared around NASA/ESA.
The NARC AGM is just 2 weeks away on April 5th 2017 and is the opportunity for members to review how the club has performed, celebrate awards and fund raising and decide on which charity will benefit from our fund raising in 2017 as well as elect new committee and officers for the following year.
NARC charity 2017
We welcome suggestions for a charity to adopt who will benefit from our fund raising in 2017 - please let me know your suggested charity in advance of the AGM so that I can plan it into the meeting. Ideally you will be prepared to say a few words about your proposed charity, but if you would rather not please let me have a few words about it (or link me to their website) and I will read it on your behalf. Similarly if you are unable to attend the AGM but would like to propose a charity please email it to me and I will read on your behalf.
Please note that proposals for NARC charity can only be accepted by paid up members of NARC.
We only intend to physically print a small amount of paperwork, so like the accounts last week we are distributing the 2016 AGM minutes and the 2017 AGM agenda electronically along with this newsletter in standard PDF format which we hope you will download and read. Should you still wish for a printed version please ask me by email by Monday 3rd April at the latest and I will print and bring them for you to the AGM.
There will be a voting election of the committee with 10 candates standing for the maximum 8 positions and this will be done at the AGM; All full members will be asked to collect their voting slip to elect the 2017-2018 committee and cast their vote before the start of the AGM at 19.45. Voting slips will be available from the auditor from 19.00-19.45 and all votes cast will be anonymous.
David G7URP on behalf of NARC
Note: This isn't a contest, so contacts tend to be a little bit more relaxed. We still have 10 operating slots spare so if you are interested get your name down!
GB0CMS will once run again on International Marconi Day (IMD) on Saturday 22nd April 2017 at Caister Lifeboat. This is now our seventh year there.
We'll probably be operating on 80/40/20m again, with both SSB and CW, as HF conditions are unlikely to be brilliant.
Once again we'll run two HF stations. You can reserve an operating slot by putting your name, callsign and mode on the roster - you can edit it by clicking here.
Even if you don't want to operate there will be plenty to do, it is great fun and a good social event.
Questions and Answers
What is IMD?
On this day, the closest Saturday to Guglielmo Marconi's birthday, stations around the world will be set up at sites with historical links to the inventor's work.
Radio amateurs around the world will contact as many of these stations as possible to try and win an award. We therefore have to hand out GB0CMS to as many stations as possible on HF (VHF/UHF contacts do not count).
The station will run from approx. 9am to 4.30pm, with set up from 8am, and we are looking for operators for both the 80m/40m station and the 20m/17m/15m/10m station. Both SSB and CW will be used, so you don't have to be a CW operator. Nev is also running PSK from 9-10am.
What has Caister got to do with Marconi?
In 1896 the patent for wireless telegraphy was issued to Guglielmo Marconi and the following year the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company came into being.
The first coastal station was built at Alum Bay, Isle of Wight and in 1900 the company name changed to Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd.
By the end of that year a chain of coastal stations had been built at strategic points on the coastline, one of these being at Caister on the east coast of the UK.
The Marconi station was established at Caister in 1900, in a house in the High Street known as Pretoria Villa. Its original purpose was to communicate with ships in the North Sea and from 1906 it was also able to communicate with the Cross Sand lightship – all via CW of course.
New technology made the Caister station out of date and it finally closed in 1929. The masts were taken down and a few years later the house became the village Police Station.
How do I get involved?
Just fill in your slot on the roster using the link above.
What time do I have to be there?
We will be setting up from about 8am with a view to getting the first station on the air by 9am. We will start to tear down at about 4.30-5pm. You can arrive whenever you want.
Do I have to operate?
No, there will be plenty of other things to do, including setting up the antennas, logging, making tea!
Is it only HF?
Operation will be HF as that is what people will need to use to win the IMD award. Note: VHF contacts cannot be used as part of an IMD award entry.
Is it a contest?
No, but hundreds of amateurs want to contact you so that they can claim their award, therefore "contest-style" operating (fast and slick) may be necessary at times to cope with the piles-ups. If things quieten down you can then have more of a rag chew!
I've never done this before – can I operate?
Sure, but if might be better if you team up with someone who has. That way you will get a feel for how to operate, perhaps computer logging for them for half of the slot and then operating for the remainder.
How well do we do?
Generally, we manage to contact more than 200 other radio amateurs in more than 30 different countries. Notable contacts have included hams in the Caribbean, Australia, USA, Canada and across Europe.
What antennas do you use?
The original antenna at the Marconi Station in 1906 was a vertical, so we use one of Steve G0KYA's end-fed half wave (EFHW) verticals on 20m and/or 17m to reflect the history of the station. The 40/80m antenna is a W5GI dipole. Mixing vertical and horizontal polarisation helps minimise inter-station interference. The idea is to show you can still make lots of contacts using simple antennas. Being right next to the sea makes a big difference and we had a 59 contact into Australia on SSB last year, although the antenna at the other end did most of the work!
Where is Caister Lifeboat?
At the end of Tan Lane, (off Beach Road) Caister. We are in the lifeboat shed nearest the sea, in the conference room at the front of the shed on the first floor. There is a pay and display car park. The postcode is NR30 5DJ or limited free parking actually at the lifeboat station.
Is there anything else to do there?
We are next to the beach. There is a lifeboat museum and you can also view the current lifeboat. We are a 10/15-minute walk from Caister centre. A cafe that does coffee and food is just a short walk away.
Where can I find out more?
For more info see GB0CMS on QRZ.com. There are also videos on YouTube - just search for "Caister Marconi"
Regards, Steve G0KYA
Coffee Break Morse.
This has yet to catch on, but we have a couple attend on Tuesday Mornings at 1000 for a session. Although it was advertised as beginner's only, others turn up instead so we will play to the audience again!
Chris G4CCX is tutoring on Thursday mornings on 145.250MHz and it could be termed as another Coffee Morse Class! It runs from 1000 until 1100 and will be mainly for raw beginners only. Chris is prepared to tutor those just starting to learn the code itself, in other words, from scratch. So if you are thinking of learning Morse, this is the ideal class for you.
Having said that, anybody can join in for general practice, and even at really low speeds it can still be benficial to those who are well above 5 wpm.
This week Chris had two people attending: John 2E0PTO and Rod G0CBO.
Call in and join the fun! Chris will be pleased to welcome you.
Change in current classes.
Starting this week, the classes were as follows:
Tuesday mornings: Coffee Morse 1000 until 1100. Varying tutors who will "play to the audience".
1900 - 2000 Beginner's Class - Roger G3LDI 145.250MHz
2000 - 2100 Intermediate Class - Jim G3YLA 145.250MHz
2000 - 2100 Advanced Class - Malcolm G3PDH 145.250MHz
The swapping of Beginner and Advanced classes is to try and compensate for student needs. Depending on how well it goes, it may be permanent or it may be changed back again. Please let us have your comments. Don't just complain to friends of yours, TELL US!
As summer approaches, we will be stopping classes for a break and then starting them again later in the year. We all have things to do outside at this time of year.
73 de Rioger, G3LDI GB2CW Coordinator
RSGB CC series.
RSGB CC CW last week: Results are out and we have done well again! Take a look at the results and see for yourself how your effort has contributed thus far in the series:
What we have to be careful of is the resulting UBNs that we all have. Make sure that you do get the call/echange correct. If you guess at it and get it wrong, HE gets the point but YOU don't! If you are not sure, don't log it.
It will be interesting to see just how many take part in the shouty-shouty one this week. Many thanks again to those who submitted logs. To those that had problems - get them sorted well before the contests.
Last weekend was the BARTG HF contest.
Several locals were on. I made 264 Qs, and entered the SOAB6 section on the Sunday only. Not bad, but I missed some nice DX that others managed to pick up.
John G8VPE said:
Thoroughly enjoyed having a dabble in the BARTG HF RTTY contest over last weekend 18/19th March, I was more interested in seeing what DX was about than building a big score.
Couldn't manage to work all US call areas, worked K0 through K5 plus K8 and K9, West coast K6+K7 not even heard. The same for Canada, VE1,2,3 and VE9 worked but nothing further West. I need a tall tower and a large HF beam to improve upon that, I suppose.
Other worthy DX were V31(on 2 bands), V21, P4, YV, PY, LU and TF. Highlight was working 5J0NA on San Andres Island.
EA8DED gave me a sole contact for Africa, to claim my 5th continent multiplier and a total of 40DXCCs, 110 contacts for a claimed 41,250points (less the UBNs !).
Not much else in the way of input so not much in the way of output!
Contests this week:
The big one this week is the CQWW WPX Contest:
CQ WW WPX Contest, SSB: 0000Z, Mar 25 to 2359Z, Mar 26
Geographic Focus: Worldwide
Bands: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m
Classes: Single Op All Band (QRP/Low/High)(Tribander/Rookie)
Single Op Single Band (QRP/Low/High)(Tribander/Rookie)
Single Op Assisted All Band (QRP/Low/High)(Tribander/Rookie)
Single Op Assisted Single Band (QRP/Low/High)(Tribander/Rookie)
Max operating hours: Single Op: 36 hours with offtimes of at least 60 minutes
Multi-Op: 48 hours
Max power: HP: 1500 watts
LP: 100 watts
QRP: 5 watts
Exchange: RS + Serial No.
Work stations: Once per band
QSO Points: 6 points per 160/80/40m QSO with different continent
3 points per 20/15/10m QSO with different continent
2 points per 160/80/40m QSO with same continent different country
1 point per 20/15/10m QSO with same continent different country
4 points per 160/80/40m QSO between stations in NA, different country
2 points per 20/15/10m QSO between stations in NA, different country
1 point per QSO with same country
Multipliers: Prefixes once
Score Calculation: Total score = total QSO points x total mults
Submit logs by: 2359Z March 31, 2017
E-mail logs to: ssb[at]cqwpx[dot]com
Upload log at: http://www.cqwpx.com/logcheck/
Mail logs to: SSB WPX Contest
P.O. Box 481
New Carlisle, OH 45344
Find rules at: http://www.cqwpx.com/rules.htm
Results have been published for the 144MHz UKAC and FMAC contests held 7th March 2017.
Still waiting for results to be declared for the 50MHz UKAC on 9th March contested by Andy M0NKR and Roger G3LDI. Results still pending for 432MHz UKAC on 14th March.
UK Activity contests for 2017
Note that 6m & 4m contests are on the 2nd and 3rd Thursday evenings.
The rest of the UKACs are held on the usual Tuesday evenings.
Here are the April Activity Contest dates for your diaries:
144MHz 1st Tuesday of each month (next 04/04/17) - Times are 2000-2230 local time
432MHz 2nd Tuesday of each month (next 11/04/17)
50MHz 2nd Thurday of each month (next 13/04/17)
1.3GHz 3rd Tuesday of each month (next 18/04/17)
70MHz 3rd Thursday of each month (next 20/04/17)
SHF - 4th Tuesday of each month (next 25/04/17) - check rules for times of 13cm contest.
FMACs begin 1 hour earlier than UKAC on 70MHz, 144MHz and 432MHz evenings (1900-2000 local).
Note:- On 26th March 2017 clocks go forward by 1 hour to British Summer Time (Daylight Saving Time).
Please ensure that when submitting all contest logs that you always use UTC and not your "local" computer time in your log - penalties will be given for incorrect times.
Another look at the ongoing problem of UBNs and Penalty points.
Now under new rules, errors such as broken callsigns and broken serial numbers incur not only one UBN for each but carry an additional penalty of the loss of one extra QSO for each error.
Results for the 15th March CW contest show NARC ahead of our nearest rivals, De Montfort University ARS who managed to find some extra logs this time.
Although our lead is increasing so is the amount of points deducted:
15/03/17 CW 62 UBN + 48 penalties - 110 QSOs lost for 1670 QSOs claimed. (Ouch!)
Compare this CW result against De Montfort University:
They submitted 13 logs to our 24 logs,
and their tally of errors - just 34 UBN + 22 penalties - only 56 lost Qs for 1145 QSOs claimed.
This demonstrates a much lower error rate and that valuable points can be saved by good accuracy and asking for repeats when unsure, don't try to guess serial numbers or callsigns.
Congratulations to Peter M0RYB winning the CW QRP section - with no UBNs, a clean log !.
Other clean CW logs were from Andy M0NKR, Chris G4CCX, Keith G0GFQ, Tony G0OOR and John G8VPE.
Apologies for not counting one of our member's logs in the last DATA contest. The following line was in error:
06/03/17 DATA 47 UBN + 18 penalties - 65 QSOs lost for 1091 QSOs claimed.
This should have read:
06/03/17 DATA 77 UBN + 18 penalties - 95 QSOs lost for 1124 QSOs claimed.
In DATA contests please ensure that the correct mode (either RY or PS) is shown in your Cabrillo upload. There has now been a second log this year - 30 contacts wiped out completely because of RY and PS transposed.
In last week's newsletter Roger wrote: " The first target is to make some Qs, the second target is to always beat your total. The ultimate goal is to hit three figures."
Sorry Roger, "The ultimate goal is not to throw any of them away on UBNs and Penalty Points ! " (tic).
73 John G8VPE
Don't forget, Monday 3rd April will be CW again in 80m CCs, strive for less errors and remember to use UTC in your log.
That's it for another week. Happy contesting. 73 de Roger, G3LDI
|Lottery funding enabled NARC to purchase direction finding equipment for training, competitions and as a fun family introduction to amateur radio|
Any licensed amateur can run and take part in the net - everyone welcome!
The Beginners net will restart on Friday 2nd December at 19.30 organised by Simon M0LDK and Julian 2E0DJR. They would also like a few others to help them so if you can help them run an occasional net to help beginners to our hobby please let me know and I will put you in touch. Thank You
GB3NB is a 2 metre repeater which you can hear on 145.625MHz and transmit to on 145.025MHz.
You can find out more about many of the Norfolk repeaters from http://gb3nb.org.uk/wp/
The club meets virtually every Wednesday throughout the year in the sixth form centre of the City of Norwich School, Eaton Road, Norwich, NR4 6PP from 1900-2200.
We welcome anyone of any age, gender or ability and who enjoys experimenting with radio and electronics to come and meet us and see what we do in our hobby.
Please see above ONLINE tab for details of the club programme and below this piece for contacts of club officials.