27 Oct 2016 – ‘Made in Letchworth’ by Brian, Andy, Don and Richard


Brain, G8GHR organised a display of electronic products made in Letchworth and his presentation included histories of Harry Grindle Matthews, Bowyer Lowe, Foster Instruments, Scopex and radio case designs by David Ogle.

Except for Scopex and Ogle Designs, these companies were started soon after the establishment of Letchworth Garden City in 1903. Brian detailed their history and the men behind the products and how they fared.

Don, G4LOO told of his connection with Letchworth through his involvement with the Power Station (opened in 1907) which at that time supplied DC power to the factories and a few shops. Don told of the changes through the years but didn’t actually say when he started working there. Obviously not from 1907!

There were numerous changes through the years until the large gas turbine (installed in 1960) was finally decommissioned and the building was demolished in 2000.  (Don retired about 13 years later.)

The British Tabulating Machine Co. moved to Letchworth in 1920 and Andy, G8ATD started his apprenticeship there in 1965.  Andy explained the various stages the company went through and eventually emerged as ICL.   Eventually, ICL was acquired by  Fujitsu and that was the end of the ICL brand. Andy said it was a story of how Tabulators came to Letchworth and left with out a trace!

Last but not least, Richard, G3NII told of forming a company with three others in 1971 located  in the Spirella building (which was built at Letchworth in three stages between 1912 and 1920) before moving to purpose built accommodation in 1974. They started with the name Quadriga Ltd. after the Roman chariots pulled by four horses, but  later settled on the name Quadrina as it involved minimal changes to their letterhead. They specialised in flow meters measuring gasses or liquids for industry. Volatile gases need special handling in measurement since the volume will vary with temperature and pressure.  Richard now spends time keeping their old systems running since they perform better than modern replacements.


20 Oct. 2016 – High Altitude Ballooning by Andrew Garratt

Andrew shows a small transmitter
Andrew shows a small transmitter

A full house heard Andrew explain just what High Altitude Ballooning meant. How the hobby started from interest in weather balloons and developed into a sport which includes it’s own dedicated software and equipment.

A short history followed as Andrew told of early pioneers and modern day flights which included some with human payloads seeking altitude heights and parachute jumps. Modern balloons can carry equipment to provide telemetry to record and transmit heights, wind directions and temperature as well as video during the flight. This transmitted information can be monitored live and plotted online by others interested in following flights.

Since some balloons can attain great heights, Andrew explained the regulations with regard to size of balloon, launch location and wind direction so as not to interfere with aircraft flight paths and other no fly zones which include motorways and built up areas.

The equipment Andrew has used was on display and working, sending telemetry recorded during an earlier flight, but this time including photos of the assembled club members.

Questions might have continued till midnight if time hadn’t been called!

launchingMore information can be found at: http://tracker.habhub.org and https://ukhas.org.uk

13 Oct 2016 – Logging Q&A by Don, G4LOO

A good turn out at the October venue of Smith’s Metals, Biggleswade saw Don’s live presentation of the computer logging software for use in the CQWW SSB contest. Two laptops were running in contest simulation while Don explained the keyboard shortcuts to various functions. A rig was set up and members saw how it responded to actions taken in the logging programme.

After a short Q & A, Don showed a video made by the manufacturers of the Clansman Combat Radio Net System developed by the UK Signals Research and used by the military from 1976 till 2010 when it was ultimately superseded by the Bowman communication system.

6 Oct. 2016 – CQWW SSB Contest Planning

We had a good turnout last evening at Smith’s Metals, our temporary ‘home’ while the hall at Shefford is being refurbished.  Steve, our host, even provided coffee and biscuits. Don, G4LOO did a good roundup of last year’s CQWW effort and set out the plan for this year. The roster looks to be about half full and will be posted on the website soon for your reference.