All posts by G4YRF

5 Dec 2019 – Mince Pie evening.

The meeting last evening was the last of this year. We would have finished the following week except the election operation will be using the hall.

Have a very good holiday and we hope to see you back at the club on the 9th of January 2020.

28 Nov. 2019 – Raspberry Pi Mk4, by Alan, G4PSO

Raspberry Pi Mk4

This handy credit card size computer has been designed to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world.  Originally offered as a project for young students, it has been taken up by hobbyists, including radio amateurs everywhere.

Alan began with an explanation of the beginnings of the Raspberry Pi in 2012 up to the latest version in 2019 and listed the latest Pi4 capabilities. He covered programming options and amateur radio applications.

Members were welcomed to look at the various versions and set ups on display during tea and biscuits.

More information was offered at these links:  (copy and paste)

Raspberry Pi Organisation  https://www.raspberrypi.org/

MagPi Magazine (free pdf)    https://magpi.raspberrypi.org/

G4WNC website https://photobyte.org/

HackSpace Magazine (free pdf) https://hackspace.raspberrypi.org/

RSGB G4WNC Raspberry Pi Talk 2017   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvVkY_2DwTk

From Right: Alan, G4PSO, John Shipman, Andy, G4DAQ

21 Nov 2019 – Brian’s Audio Quiz

This year’s quiz consisted of cleverly assembled sound samples grouped into categories leading to quiz answers. There were singers to be identified, mystery sounds to name, CW to copy,  as well as dates to recall. All very challenging!

The members present on the night were divided into groups of three and the winning group, chose the name  ‘Jokers 3’ and consisted of  Don, G4LOO, Richard, G3NII and Gareth, M5KVK who each took home a bottle of wine as first prize. I won’t name the group awarded the wooden spoons!

14 Nov 2019 – Don’s report on CQWW and IOTA contests

Don, G4LOO began by giving an overview of the IOTA contest this year. Some problems arose due to incorrect serial numbers being recorded and it was found that when entering the callsign and report, the operator must tab to the next field (in N1MM+) in order for the reports to be updated and logged properly. The club placed 15 out of 30 entries in our class.

The overview of this year’s operations in CQWW SSB began with a look at what went right and what went wrong.  The club’s effort was thwarted by numerous equipment and electronic faults.

Discussions followed as to how these may be addressed for future contests. Although the final results have not been published yet, the raw scores indicate the club might come 118 out of 255 in the world and 77 out of 145 in Europe and fourth out of six entries in our class in England

7 Nov 2019 – one hundred years in the game

David, G8UOD gave a well researched and presented history of this country’s security services now celebrating one hundred years of keeping us safe. The history began just after the First World War and detailed the setting up of the Security Service as a government department.

On 1 November 1919 the GC&CS (Government Cipher and Code School) was formed. The duties assigned  included cryptographic service, Naval code breakers and monitoring of messages by cable companies.  In 1921 the Foreign Office took control of GC&CS with an increased workload including the inception of machine generated     ciphers in 1925. The service’s remit included the censorship of news papers and books being published that included possible sensitive material from the war.

Included in the overall structure of the organization in 1924 were overseas radio and communications monitoring stations.  At about this point in time, the Rotor Cipher machines were invented, the most widely known was the Enigma machine which the Germans improved in the early thirties. Other countries, including Poland and France, began working on methods to break the code. During the build up of hostilities in the 30s, the GC&CS moved out of London to Bletchley Park.

Other parts of the service had grown and also moved out of London to larger sites. David explained various early computers and organisations working on post war signals intelligence.

In more modern times, GCHQ have been working on Cyber Crime in connection with government departments, financial Institutions, and banks.

On 14 Feb 2019, the Queen unveiled a plaque during a visit to Watergate House in London celebrating the 100th anniversary of the intelligence service. The plaque is said to contain secret coded messages!

31 Oct 2019 – A Video Evening

Good attendance assembled to watch an RSGB convention video by Steve Nichols, G0KYA about propagation.  Members were dismayed at the length of solar minimum predicted which seemed to be the consensus of numerous methods of predicting.

Steve explained aspects of predicting and the various methods being examined to make the printed predictions in RadCom more readable and understandable.

The meeting ended with Tea and biscuits while members reminisced about the good conditions  experienced in years gone by!

24 Oct 2019 – Military Intelligence during WW2

Our speaker for the evening’s talk was Bill Steadman, Curator of the Military Intelligence Museum based at RAF Chicksands.

Bill’s very comprehensive talk began by outlining the attributes of the enemy, those which were positive and also negative. This topic was expanded to Intelligence and communications and how they affected happenings on the ground.

Next to be examined were planning aspects; looking at what went wrong in the past. This set the question about intelligence: what does it need to do? The answer was protect our secrets and discover the enemy’s.  Bill then went on to detail how this was accomplished. Also pointed out was the fact that intelligence could be used to deceive and confuse the enemy. He then listed the many aspects of intelligence that were carried out in Bedfordshire.

It was shown that years of planning produced the largest ever seaborne invasion and the most complex military operation ever undertaken.

D-Day Landing

26 Sept 2019 – Use of SDR by Alan, G4PSO

Alan gave a talk on the uses of SDR based on his experience to try and get a weather station to work correctly.  The method chosen was to use GNU to help find the frequency used by the weather station and eventually see if he could pick up the data from the device.

He explained how the GNU programme could be used to see different o/p and represent them in various forms an example was a 1 KHz audio signal o/p and an oscilloscope giving a sine wave of the out put.  The programme uses various elements, which are selected to make the programme do what you want to do.

Alan had used several types of SDR in his experiments and he demonstrated how the signal from his weather station was represented on the waterfall screen. It was noted how members activation their car keys could also be picked up showing how wideband the SDR was.

Alan had used the Funcube dongle, the HackRF and other SDR dongles to help him find out about the weather station.  He pointed out that a shortcoming of  amateur SDR equipment was the sensitivity which can be overpowered by strong RF signal.

An interesting and different evening.

Report by David, G8UOD

12 Sept 2019 – Welcome Back after the Summer Break

We were 10 in number. Tables were set around with chairs and tea and biscuits were quickly on the tables. Gary M0PLT spoke about being mobile on his bike and using APRS. Another subject discussed was FT8 and FT4. Victor, G3JNB, made the point that if it were not for that mode the airwaves would be quiet. Gary, M0PLT, mentioned that he had exchanged details using FT8 into Australia.” There was quite bit of discussion, before closing at 21.30 hours

Report by Paul, G1GSN

19 Sept 2019 – The visit to Baldock Radio Station

Members were given a warm welcome and we had a warm drink and were shown some photographs of the installation before we got going.

The site has had some alterations this year and this was an opportunity to see how things have change since our last visit.

Our starting point was the technical area where equipment can be checked out and worked on. This was followed by a visit to the anechoic chamber, designed for testing equipment. Built to prevent both sound and RF from interfering with test items.

The next part of the station was the measuring and testing laboratories, where various specialised equipment are used, such as Vector Signal Generators and Spectrum Analysers. These are used to put radio equipment under test to make sure they meet the required specification. Here we also found portable monitoring equipment used to check mobile phone equipment. The equipment can test radio equipment from DC to 57 GHz, for 5G communications.

There was a visit to the Drone laboratory where we saw a large drone, which can be equipped a spectrum analyser to help locate interference. The drone is equipped with GPS locators to help with DF functions. Users of this equipment have to pass a CAA test before they can fly the drone.

Our next stop was in the Control Centre, a suite of radio equipment designed to monitor the airwaves from DC upwards. The centre is divided into two parts one to monitor safety and life support communications and the other for commercial and amateur communications.

We were given a real life experience when the unit was contacted because there was interference on a safety circuit. We watched them start a trace using SDR equipment, which can find direction of signal, its angle of reception and the bandwidth. We could actually hear the interference on top of the original signal..

The station also looks for Band 2 pirate stations as well as distress signals. Satellite systems can also be monitored. All the signal come into a labyrinth of aerials which are spread over the site as well as some which are in remote locations. The antenna systems include a circular array of 16 aerials, similar to the old Chicksands antenna system. This gives a very good DF location for signal from DC to 3 GHz.

Our very interesting evening came to a close about 21.00 hours, where the usual thank you was made by club members and a couple of other visitors.

All in all a very interesting evening.

                      Report by David, G8UOD