25 May 2016 The club met to plan field days and a BBQ for the summer. We also heard a report from Pete G3ZVI who attended a regional Ofcom meeting where improvements to the Automated Interference Monitoring System were explained. Ofcom's detailed reports on the first stages of the project since 2006 are well worth reading to understand the system's incredible scale and reach. He also told of yet another free excellent online RF path propagation service - CRC-COVWEB.
He then outlined the his plan for participating in the annual PW 2 metre QRP contest on Sunday 12 June 2016. The club will operate from Haldon Hill using his Yaesu FT-817 and Yagi.
Exercise Blue Ham run by the RAF Air Cadets on 18/19 June 2016 will operate on 60 metres USB. This is a military style national radio exercise to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the formation of their organization.
Keith G7NBU coordinated the selection of teams for Sidmouth ARS' Desert Island Challenge. Plans for the club BBQ at his QTH on 23 July 2016 were then described.
11 May 2016 Club Chairman Keith G7NBU welcomed EARS members to the inaugural meeting at the Sunnylands Room in America Hall.
Everyone soon found themselves at home as Allan G1JXI and Matt M0SBI quickly served tea. Members then began choosing who would compete at Sidmouth Amateur Radio Society's Desert Island Challenge in July.
Nick M0NRJ gave a talk about HF Beacons. He began by showing the rapidly fading sunspot numbers and how we will have 5 quiet years on HF. Using beacons to rapidly locate band openings and switching from voice to data modes are the best techniques for operating HF in these conditions.
With their network of 18 transmitters on 14, 18, 21, 24 and 28 MHz sending a sequence of CW idents and calibration tones every 3 minutes, conditions can quickly be assessed. Their website has links to many useful software applications for displaying this data.
Paul G4RRA told of his reliance on the Reverse Beacon Network that monitors CW, PSK31 and RTTY skimmers and aggregates the data for instant global analysis.
11 April 2016 Nick M0NRJ and Pete G3ZVI introduced members to the current state of the SDR dongle market now that prices have fallen to a few pounds. Pete showed his PC using a low cost dongle, running SDR#, (now Airspy), and how it could display nearby repeaters.
The FunCube Dongle Pro+, however, is British and costs £125 having been developed by Howard Long G6LVB. This is a well-designed stable receiver tuning from 150 kHz to 1.9 GHz, with a gap between 240 and 420 MHz. It has narrow SAW filters for 2m and 70 cm ham bands. Howard developed it for reception of signals from the UK Funcube satellite, launched "to teach youngsters about radio, space, physics and electronics."
Paul G4RRA brought along two of his favourite higher specification SDRs. The AFEDRI SDR-Net with its built-in Ethernet socket for remote control operates from 100 Hz to 35 MHz, costs $259 and designed by Alexander 4Z5LV. Paul uses this for overnight recording of the entire medium wave band to look for US AM broadcast stations. SDRPlay costing £119 operates from 100 kHz to 2 GHz and can display up to 8MHz of spectrum.
Nick M0NRJ then introduced members to SOTA and his expedition to High Willhays on Dartmoor with Mid-Somerset ARC member Nick 2E0FGQ in the previous week. Ferocious easterlies meant their stay was cut to only 2 hours. However, after registering spots on SOTAwatch they activated the summit known as G/DC-001 and made contacts with Sweden, Austria, Italy, Poland and Germany on 40 metres using a Yaesu FT-817 and end-fed dipole. Switching to use an Innovantennas LFA-Q Super-gainer Quad Style on 2m, contacts were made in Somerset and Wales.
After 16 years at the Moose Centre, this was the club's final meeting before moving to America Hall in Pinhoe in May 2016. Members proudly assembled for the farewell photographs!
Celebrations to recent new club members Slade and Tom who successfully passed their Foundation Examinations last week. Slade's new call sign is M6SQB. Well done, lads! A rousing cheer for Training Officer Linden M0TCF and his new course materials too!
11 April 2016 Pete G3ZVI led a workshop on designing and building low-cost aerials from parts around the shack. He referred to two "bibles" he uses: Kraus' Antenna and Johnson & Jasik's Antenna Engineering Handbook. He demonstrated a simple 2m dipole made from copper and PVC tubing with a nylon bush at the centre, and a half-wavelength impedance transformer.
A 2m "Slim Jim" was his next example of simple construction just using coax instead of the more usual aluminium/copper tubing. For amateurs wanting to learn everything, the compilation of Pat Hawker G3VA articles in "Antenna Topics" is essential.
Skip M0TCF demonstrated his new Rig Expert SWR Meter, pointing out that the 50 MHz model is best value.
Paul G4RRA described his new WebSDR site www.swandhams.net where 50 MHz transmissions can be received and verified in real time. It is mainly for USA amateurs to see if there are mulit-hop Sporadic-E openings, but UK amateurs can use it to verify their 6m systems.
29 March 2016 The weekly club 2m nets are changing. From the start of April 2016, the first net of the month will be held on the GB3EX repeater, and all remaining weeks of the month will be on the GB3EW repeater. Should there be a problem with a repeater the net will revert to the simplex club frequency of 145.575 MHz.
See the Repeaters page for more information.
27 March 2016 The 2016 National Vintage Tractor Road Run was held on the Blackdown Hills. Exeter Raynet were on site to provide communications for the organisers to nine checkpoints around the 25 mile course.
Their duties included radioing in the times of arrival of each group of tractors at checkpoints.
These photos from Phil 2E0PCJ capture the colour and rural aspect of the course. However, the hailstorms and rain showers meant that Raynet members had to operate from their cars.
The organisers were delighted with the perfect coverage provided by Raynet members. Raynet Control kept a live chart showing the progress of all the tractor groups plying the course. Here are some views leaving the lunch pit-stop.
Vintage tractors from around the UK were transported to Smeatharpe Arena for the event. Over 600 pre-1995 vehicles arrived and were driven along both tarred and non-maintained roads. Luckily there was always a tractor at hand if a breakdown occurred. These views show tractors crossing the finish line in very wet conditions.
Allan G1JXI was on his first Exeter Raynet event and captured the whole day on his camcorder. You can see all five videos he shot: parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 and listen to the Raynet comms.
14 March 2016 The Exeter Amateur Radio Society held its Annual General Meeting. The existing club officers were unanimously reelected to their current positions. Congratulations to all!
Chairman: Keith G7NBU
Secretary: Linden M0TCF
Treasurer: John G4AP
Training: Linden M0TCF
Publicity Officer/Webmaster: Nick M0NRJ
Committee members: Keith G6FXH, John G8XQQ
A decision to move to new premises in May was made, following the announcement of the closure of the current premises at the Moose Centre for redevelopment. From 11th May onwards, meetings will be held twice a month on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Sunnylands Room in the Pinhoe Community Centre, America Hall, De La Rue Way, Pinhoe EX4 8PX.
6 March 2016 The 2016 Exeter Radio and Electronics Rally at America Hall was enjoyed by almost 150 radio amateurs and families who flocked to see the bargains on display.
These were the scenes just before the doors opened and crowds stormed in for the deals of a lifetime, not to mention the bacon baps!
Vintage radios were in abundance this year as well as ex-military equipment. Many bargains were found and after the winter storms lots of new aerials seemed to be leaving the building with their happy owners.
23 February 2016 The Exeter Repeater Group have completed a milestone in erecting the new GB3EX repeater mast. The stickiest job was to build a platform on a pile of chicken droppings using a wooden pallet. This enabled mast brackets to be fitted inside the barn housing the repeater.
Outside in the biting February northern wind, Linden M0TCF, Alan G1JXI, Keith G7NBU and Pete G3ZVI (taking the photos) drew lots as to who would climb the ladder!
Keith won the ladder lottery and was soon climbing up to hold on in the freezing gale. He successfully clamped the mast to the barn exterior. Meanwhile Pete led the cable crew inside fitting power and RF cables.
It is not known whether anyone could see the view through their streaming eyes.
22 February 2016 Matt M0SBI gave a fascinating talk about the history of radio broadcasting used by religious organizations. In 1924, Jehovah's Witnesses began broadcasting near New York using 500 watts on WBBR. It was the most economical way of spreading their message and every few years bigger transmitters were installed.
By 1931 they were able to link 450 stations around the world using radio and telecom relays to reach millions of listeners. Their dedicated broadcast station contained everything from studios through to the transmitter hall.
Nowadays the Internet reaches 40% of the world's population so they have developed their website which has offers its content in 797 languages, a world record! Sadly, Cornish is yet to be supported!
Paul G4RRA spoke of his experiences as a shortwave listener (SWL) in the 1970s, and sending reception reports to the big religious stations around the world. Particularly famous was HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. Their QSL cards were treasured for their artwork and quality. More importantly, their engineer Clarence Moore W9LZX developed and patented an early form of the quad loop antenna, or more accurately a "pulled-open folded dipole." This eliminated interference from coronal discharge on the antenna at high altitude.
8 February 2016 At a full-house club meeting, Nick M0NRJ and Paul G4RRA gave a talk about VHF propagation. With Nick explaining the science and Paul presenting audio recordings of his experiences, members went away enthused with having a go themselves. Nick began with examining the benefits of VHF/UHF over HF with its smaller aerials, then members were shown modes of propagation. that overcome line-of-sight limitations.
Paul explained how to build systems that used moon-bounce and aurora propagation. to reach the rest of the world on VHF. His recordings of auroral signal reflection showed the remarkable modulated noise effects this produces. CW has given way to JT-65 digital mode nowadays.
Nick then explained the many contributing factors for Sporadic E (Es), highlighting a Practical Wireless June 2014 article by Jim Bacon G3YLA. He proposes the best conditions are the result of recent meteor activity, solar activity, jet stream movement, high pressure ridges, thunderstorms and seasonal stratospheric winds!
Paul's recording of Es contacts illustrated the amazing quality of signals heard on this mode. He said that the best tool for this work is the remarkable LiveMUF application written by G7RAU that deduces activity by parsing recent entries on spotting website, then triangulating the propagation. paths from the each site's Maidenhead locator. The program also illustrates activity and openings in all other VHF modes. Installation is complex but the results very rewarding.
Paul played recordings of an Azores beacon CU8DUB heard in the UK. European radio amateurs vie to be the first to log a VHF contact with the American continent as the first to do it will win the Brendan Trophy. When conditions are good, amateurs in the Canary Islands can be heard from sites in Cornwall and southern Ireland using tropospheric ducting.
Members had many questions about aerials, power, equipment and how to become involved. Paul explained that although the HF world rotates around callsigns for its contests and achievements, VHF rotates around locators. A dedicated locator map is a prerequisite for shacks! Successful contacts result from watching the spotter websites and acting quickly when an opening is seen. e recommends listening for openings on 10 metres, then chasing up through 6, 4 and finally 2 metres. Sharing information with other interested hams is vital.
Paul G4RRA and Nick M0NRJ relax after their talk.
25 January 2016 EARS club members enjoyed a workshop about constructing aerials for their QTH. They explained how they had built HF and VHF systems to cope with limited space, neighbour concerns, interference, architectural features, cable access and the need to operate remote antenna tuners. First up was Stuart G3XYO who described his offset dipole, balun and auto-antenna tuner. He had many pearls of wisdom: "Always open up an antenna tuner after you buy it, to see exactly how it is made", or "To test if black PVC pipe has carbon in it, try warming it in the microwave oven!"
Linden M0TCF illustrated his limited space and how he has laid a huge copper mesh earth as well installing a cobweb antenna in restricted space. He recommended Toolstation for £3 moulded cases in which to build baluns. He also used a 8.5m fishing pole from Exeter Angling Centre as a former around which he would coil an end-fed dipole when going portable. With the thick end lashed to a park bench he obtained great results around Europe on 40m running just 2.5W.
Members all agreed that the now-discontinued LDG Z-100 QRP auto-tuner was the best performing and most reliable auto-tuner they have found. Its 9 volt battery lasts a year and it was a pleasure to use.
Finally, Paul G4RRA gave an overview to his VHF DX experiences including tropospheric, aurora and Sporadic-E contacts using his Versatower.
11 January 2016 Our club's Training Officer Linden M0TCF began the new year of evening talks by presenting the first draft of his Foundation Class training materials. The Introductory and First Modules were enjoyed by everyone, refreshing memories with facts learned many years ago. Linden's thorough, entertaining, practical instruction sets a high standard for the rest of his presentations.
Prospective new club member Slade Stevens enjoyed the evening and is looking forward to the full training course.
Pete G3ZVI then gave a fascinating glimpse of his years of professional communication engineering by showing members how to correctly terminate crimped and soldered BNC and N-type connectors onto co-ax cable. Keith G7NBU gazed wistfully at Pete's work as he crimped a BNC onto a cable end in 50 seconds flat. Pete apologized for being so slow(!), saying that his wife was actually better at this than he is!!
Pete showed off a rare Greenpar catalogue that illustrated assembly techniques, which have been unchanged for decades. The internet now makes such information available, such as this Extron Electronics information sheet based on AMP connectors.
EARS now runs training courses for the Foundation Class licence. The last course began in March 2016. Contact us now if you wish to join the next course this summer. The cost is included in your annual club membership fee.
Club Meeting Themes 2016
8 Jun: TBA 22 Jun: Apps for radio amateurs 13 Jul: SDR Software 27 Jul: Test your rig Night 10 Aug: SOTA Equipment and aerials 24 Aug: Ham experience from WWII 14 Sep: Digital modes workshop 28 Sep: First Aid Training Part 1 12 Oct: Simple test equipment 26 Oct: Digital Audio modes 9 Nov: First Aid Training Part 2 23 Nov: Raspberry Pi in amateur radio 14 Dec: Bring in Something Interesting Night 28 Dec: No meeting