Guest Speaker Roger Castle-Smith

24 May 2012

Our speaker has worked in radio for most of his life and told of installations around the UK and Europe. Topics covered were:

  • Why is part of the FCO at Hanslope Park ?
  • A simplified organogram of the Diplomatic Wireless Service.
  • The origins of high power radio broadcasting in the FCO, Black Propaganda.
  • A tour of the Crowborough transmitter site where it all began.
  • How do listeners abroad know what is being broadcast and in what band ?
  • Block diagrams to illustrate improved methods of generating a double sideband signal which led to big improvements in transmitter efficiency.
  • A tour of the medium wave (648 and 1296 kHz) site at Orfordness.
  • The origins of FCO broadcasting in the Middle East.
  • The short and medium wave transmitter sites in Cyprus.
  • The medium and short wave transmitter sites on Masirah Island (Oman), now relocated on the mainland.
  • A brief mention of the FCO’s contribution to providing broadcast stations in such places as Tristan da Cunah, St Helena, and the Turks & Caicos  Islands

Radio Fox Hunt

17 May 2012

The Spring mobile 2M Fox Hunt started promptly at 8pm. The fox was Ken and Ian Taylor who had found a spot in a new build estate which was only partially built but already had at least two families who had moved in. Fortunately, for the fox, the entrance was marked as having CCTV and security etc. so appeared to be not in use. But, as you know, appearances can be deceiving. While we were getting set up, a security guard came by, but just gave us a wave. Ian decided to have a word with him to explain what we were doing. The guard was amused but not bothered. The photo shows our location, but the Google Earth photo is old and the site is much more advanced than shown.

Transmissions on 145.550 were made for two minutes every 10. We were beginning to feel we had finally beaten all the fox hunters when, after some clues were given, Don and Bryan’s headlight came into view at 2108. They had driven only 6 miles. They were followed shortly, 2114, by Stephen and Brian who had driven 10 miles. Third on the scene were John, our secretary, and Peter at 2122 having driven a total of 13 miles. By this time, we had a good number of cars congregating in the gathering darkness. At 2124 Paul T. arrived; his mileage was 14 miles. Also arriving at almost the same time was newcomer Darren at 2126 (17 miles) who lives at Dunstable and seemed keen to know about our club and activities. David and Derek made a start, but didn’t make the finish.

My thanks to Victor for acting as ‘The Marshall’ gathering all the starting mileages and keeping the frequency clear between my transmissions. All the ‘fox hunters’ gathered at our usual watering hole for a drink and discussions about what and why they went the wrong way!

Video Evening

10 May 2012.

A video evening watching films from BVWS (The British Vintage Wireless Society) These short films were originally made as Public Service films; the first made by the Post Office is a snapshot of the then coastal wireless service operations. The story is a typical ‘day in the life of’ and centres on a couple of dramas at sea to highlight the importance of the service and it’s contribution to the fishing and shipping community. The film is believed to date from the late 1960s.

Following that, a story about EMI dating from the 1970s.  We saw the colossal size of the organisation at the time when the company was still manufacturing around the globe. The film was primarily a publicity article designed to promote and inform the viewer of the various activities, notably in the fields of recording, television, and CT scanners.

Another film appears to  have been made to inform GIs coming home to the USA after the war. Since many had experience in radio, electronics and radar, they might find a new career in the ‘up and coming’ TV industry.

A short film from Philips called ‘The Secret Writing of the Electrons’ told of Philips produced oscilloscopes but also showed a display of Cathode Ray tubes.

The final video wasn’t from BVWS but appeared on uTube. Called ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and showed a worker climbing a 1768 foot radio mast!  Just watching was enough to give one vertigo!

Dick and June’s Trip of a Lifetime!

On 3 May 2012,  Dick told about his trip of a lifetime to New Zealand. Showing slides and video he told of his visit to the North and South Island taking in the major cities, mountains, and typical New Zealand scenery. The journey was via Los Angeles so on the return  they stopped off to tour the American west!           On the agenda was the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Los Vegas.

Shuttleworth Collection

On the 28th of April club members visited the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden.

Reports suggest the visit was a success but the weather wasn’t, it was very cold for the time of year!