24 April 2014 – Spring Junk Sale

36 members and guests enjoyed the club’s Spring Junk Sale. We were pleased to welcome visitors from nearby clubs. Since the last sale was a ‘bit thin’ we had been concerned about this one, but our fears were unfounded. While not a vast amount of takings, the result was judged to be ‘useful’ especially in view of the antennas that need repairing due to the storm damage last October.        

13 April 2014 – Annual Club Dinner

Our club Dinner this year, was a Club Lunch!  Members, wives and friends met on Sunday mid-day at the Stratton House Hotel in Biggleswade, Beds.  The  attendance was up in numbers this year, possibly because of the mid-day meal and perhaps because it was such a sunny day!  Cups were awarded in various categories.  In total, they were:

 The G8EMJ Shield for Major  Project,  to Don Ross, G4LOO

The Dr Little Cup for the Weekend Special, to Don Ross, G4LOO

The G2DPQ Cup for Kit Construction to Larry, G4OXY

The G4CBI Cup for Best Talk by a Member to Brian, G8GHR

The G3JKK Shield for Club Support to Paul, G1GSN

The Round Trophy for Club Quiz Winning Team to the Luton VHF Group

 Unfortunately, not all the winners were in attendance, but they will receive their prizes at one of our club meetings.

Photo by Paul, G1GSN

10 April 2014 – The Good Old Days


Brian Farey hosted a discussion with John West and Ian Taylor about their recollections of the radio club when they were first involved.  It was noted that meetings were less structured than now. Many meetings were simply chat evenings and not always about amateur radio.  It was also noted that many members came to meetings by bike and on one evening two members departed on the same bike! 

 Early Field Days involved more than just the Shefford Club as the Bedford Club came to help at times.  At some point later, Field Days were moved to Topplers  Hill where a storage area in the water tower was made available to the club for masts, wires and cables.  Most equipment was homebrew as little was available commercially at prices the club members could afford. During Field Days, Claude Pettifer, G2DPQ, a co-founder of the club had a map with pins marking the 100 or so contacts made. Although, operators might have been in short supply, members and their families came as it was a ‘Family Social’ event.  Speaking of which, the numbers attending the Club Dinners far exceeded those of today.  A dinner was held at Digswell House in 1966 at a cost of six shillings each and consisted of Sausage and Mash.

 Early membership came from local Bases like Henlow and companies such as ICL, and a later boom in membership came as a result of the popularity of CB, both of which have now been in decline. Discussions turned to the future of the club and how to increase membership. Ian provided a ‘mind map’ showing aspects of Amateur Radio that might appeal to prospective members. It was agreed that the club must do more in the way of publicity,both in local advertising and as a stronger  online presence.

Brian, John, Ian
Brian, John and Ian in discussion

3 April 2014 – Concorde, the inside story

4 in formationCalled the ‘inside story’ because Colin McCartney told of the work done in design and build of this famous aircraft. Starting with the mathematics that describes flight and associated aspects, the story moved on to early lighter then air balloons and then to powered flight. 1962 saw the first steps in the design for SST (Supersonic Transport).

The efforts on this side of the Atlantic involved a British and French collaboration, and the first hurdle was choosing a name!  Concorde it was, but should it be spelled with an ‘e’ at the end in the French style? In the true British fashion of giving way on points that don’t really matter, the E stayed and the name was Concorde. Of course, on this side of the channel we measured in feet and inches and the other side in metric, which led to some interesting situations.

More of interest to Colin was the development and production of the nose cone to house the weather radar. Since the material couldn’t be metal, a glass fibre was developed to be strong and light enough to stand the stress and heat of supersonic flight while still passing radar signals. While the material had to be strong, it also had
to have the same temperature expansion and contraction as the metal to which it would be attached.

The whole body of Concorde presented some interesting aspects in design and choice of materials since supersonic flight over Mach 2 would cause temperatures to exceed stress limits of the of the aircraft grade aluminium. An interesting conundrum was that using stronger materials as the Americans did, increased overall weight which needed more fuel which made the aircraft heaver. The Russians found that trying to fly at Mach 2.5, or faster, did indeed increase the aluminium stresses to disastrous results.

It’s indeed unfortunate that Concorde is no longer flying today.  An interesting side story was that a French Concorde nose cone (Radome) was sold at Christies for a staggering 480,099 Euros, which prompted Colin’s work associate to suggest they build some more!

Nose cone with heater used to cure the resin in the glass fibre.
Nose cone with heater used to cure the resin in the glass fibre.