Unfortunately the meeting was called off due to the paving work being done at the entrance. The speaker scheduled for the evening has agreed to be rebooked for a later date.
The turnout for our Spring Junk Sale was very good, we even had visitors from other local clubs! However as always, the ‘quality’ of the junk was variable. This year we had a few too many books and magazines and not many ‘heavy pieces’ to take home. There were lots of bags of components but, as elsewhere in the hobby, they are not so much in demand anymore. Still, the evening was considered a success and a good chance to meet up and have a chat.
The meeting was opened by Vice Chairman, Martin, M0XMP who welcomed all and passed the meeting over to Paul, G1GSN to begin the discussions relative to ‘Hints and Tips’
The meeting began at 20:00 with apologies for absences; there were none. The meeting followed the usual sequence without delay and Victor, G3JNB was asked to take the meeting for the election of officers and committee members who were returned unopposed.
Chairman, Ken, G4YRF
Vice Chairman Martin, M0XMP
Secretary David, G8UOD
Treasurer Owen, G0PHY
Equipment officer Don, G4LOO
Contest Officers Don (HF) and Paul (VHF)
GDPR Officer Gareth, M5KVK
Committee Paul, G1GSN
Committee John, G6RHL
The meeting ended with the presentation of cups and plaques:
Kit construction Martin, M0XMP received the DR. Little cup
Weekend Special Don, G4LOO received the G2DPQ cup
Club Support Don, G4LOO received the G3JKK shield
Best Talk by a member, Richard, G3NII received the G4CBI cup
The Bryan Bourne Quiz trophy was won by the ‘Brewery Tappers:
Don G4LOO, Brian G8GHR, Richard G3NII and Paul G8UIG (not present)
The evening began with a YouTube video by Randy, K7AGE who gave part one of his introduction to Arduino.
Martin then followed with an explanation of what he wanted to achieve and how he went about it.
On display was a large Mag-loop aerial and it was pointed out that tuning by hand wasn’t an option, not only because it’s not healthy to be near a transmitting loop, but that the tuning changes when the operator moves away from the aerial. Martin produced an ordinary TV remote handset and explained how he used the Arduino to decode the output from each button. That output was then used by the Arduino to control a stepper motor which turned the tuning capacitor and thereby achieved a degree of remote control. Martin explained the programming needed to achieve this outcome. However, he felt the tuning didn’t have the feedback necessary for fine tuning as he listened to the background noise rising and falling on his rig. He did admit to have previously tried using a servo to turn the tuning capacitor and felt that offered a better feel to achieve resonance since using a knob for tuning in place of the TV remote offered better feedback.
Martin felt that both methods had led to considerable scope for experimentation in mechanical and computer science.
This evening’s discussion was all about how members choose and maintain their antennas. A variety were talked about. Most members are using wires, either dipoles, doublets or untuned and tuned lengths, but there was one notable inclusion of two verticals which were home brewed by spiral winding wire around the vertical support and feeding above ground level and having sloping radials. This has proved to be a very successful arraignment for working real DX with low power.
For maintenance, various products were suggested for anti-corrosion connections and protection against moisture ingress.
Discussions continued through the tea break before members headed for home.
It seems that most amateur radio operators experience noise or QRM at some time or another. Fortunately, most is short lived and can be tolerated, however, some interference can be more destructive and blocks out all transmissions. Those need to be found and dealt with, if possible.
Members took turns describing their problems and, at times, playing sound samples. Methods used to minimise noise and interference were discussed. This discussion has resulted in more input and participation from members than any subject so far.
Next week’s subject is almost a follow on from this, when we will discuss how to Make Antennas Work.
This evening we had a short discussion about the possible use of applications for smart phones or tablets that might be useful in amateur radio. After a short on line search, numerous sources and types were found. Some apps could provide CW training and practice, as well as providing a read out. Numerous apps were able to provide propagation reports as well as solar data.
An app for smartphone can access the EchoLink network to almost anywhere in the world, using either WiFi or cellular 3G. Although not Amateur Radio in the usual sense, the network is only available to licensed amateurs and can be useful on holiday or for those amateurs who do not have access to equipment and aerials.
More information for Android phones apps can be found at: http://www.g0hwc.com/android_apps.html
Don started by pointing out that most people think only of air to ground voice communications as being the sum total of the use of radio. There are, however, many other types of radio signals in use, beside voice there is radar and data.
Don went through the communications used to help the pilot know his location and point to the destination. Following that, Don detailed radio used for instrument landings indicating the aircraft position with regard to the runway, the glide slope and markers at three critical distances to landing. But, it was also pointed out that important information can be automatically transmitted to indicate position, aircraft operating parameters and aircraft ‘health’ to ground stations. During long flights, including overseas trips, automatic transmissions can be made to satellites designed to work with the aircraft information.
The question was asked as to why signals of this sort couldn’t be used to locate a plane that had gone off the radar map. The answer being that the transmitting units, in this case, must have been turned off. The next question was why be able to turn the system off and the answer is that they must be turned off when on the ground to stop multi transmissions from various planes interfering with those in the air.
Don showed a diagram of a typical airliner pointing out the locations of various antennas, there can be over twenty!
First up was Martin, M0XMP who won the kit class section of the contest with his QCX 5w CW transceiver. This kit supplied by QRP Labs is very complete and the downloadable instructions, all 142 pages, were described as ‘like Heathkit’ on steroids! Martin showed his copy with each part described and followed up with a colour illustration as to where and how it should be fitted.
Martin was especially pleased the unit came with a built in signal generator and alignment tools as well as a voltmeter, RF power meter and frequency counter so the builder does not have to have a workshop full of test equipment to get it going. Martin demonstrated the unit decoding CW and it was pointed out that it can also be used for stand alone WSPR transmissions.
All this is very impressive for the modest price being asked. See all the details at: www.qrp-labs.com or watch a video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zlCuPq2aNA
Don, G4LOO won the Weekend Special with his very simple project used to locate dislocated buried radials. The idea came originally from a published article which could easily be adopted and implemented. Don found that rabbits had been chewing the ends of his buried radials at the central connection point at the base of his four square antenna. Using this unit Don could walk along the area over the radial and carrying a small MF radio taped to the end of a cane (like a metal detector) could listen for a null and thereby detect the broken wire.