What is Amateur Radio?
Amateur radio is a popular technical hobby and volunteer public service that uses designated radio frequencies for non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communications. Amateur Radio is the only hobby governed by international treaty. As a radio amateur you are able to transmit radio signals on a number of frequency bands allocated specifically to the radio amateurs.
Radio amateurs make use of their frequencies in a number of ways:
Contacting people all over the world by radio which often leads to developing international friendships
Competing in international competitions to test how effective your equipment is, and how good you are as an operator
Technical experimentation — many of the leaps forward in radio technology have been initiated by radio amateurs
Communication through amateur space satellites or with the International Space Station (which carries an amateur radio station)
Providing communications at times of emergencies and undertaking exercises to ensure you keep the capability to do so.
There is no better way to explore the fascinating world of radio communications than by becoming a radio amateur. A 1910 announcement by the then HM Postmaster General licensed “experimental wireless”, which still uniquely gives radio amateurs the ability to innovate without commercial or statutory controls even in the closely regulated environment of the 21st century.
Getting Started in Amateur Radio.
Anyone can listen in to amateur radio transmissions. If you’re new to amateur radio, then listening-in for a while is a good way to get a feel for what is going on.To become a radio amateur, licensed to transmit, you will need a brief period of study, and to pass a simple practical and theory examination. The Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (NARC) provides the examinations to enable you to become a radio amateur and then to progress through the various levels of licence — three in all. Study for the first level is straightforward and can often be accomplished in a weekend. More details about the exams can be found here or contacting the committee via the contact us page.
Right: Rodney G0CBO and Kim G4WUG contact another other radio amateur with Morse code from GB0CMS at Caister Lifeboat on International Marconi Day.
Update: We actually managed 31 countries, not 35 as first reported. I went through the log and found a few errors that have now been corrected. For example, we worked "EI" not "HI" on 40mm SSB - I think the Dominican Republic would have been a tough one on 40m during the day! We had 80 SSB contacts, 109 CW and 4 PSK.
NARC amateurs at the Caister Lifeboat Visitor Centre managed to contact 193 other radio amateurs in 31 different countries on Saturday 22nd April 2017 when they took part in the annual International Marconi Day to mark the inventor's birthday.
Using the call GB0CMS and a mixture of Morse code, telephony (speech) and data (PSK), contacts were made with other radio amateurs across the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA.
Notable contacts were with other special Marconi stations in the UK, Italy, and Ireland.
NARC ran the all-day special event station at Caister Lifeboat to commemorate the village's original Marconi Wireless Station, which was established at Caister in 1900. The station was in a house in the High Street known as Pretoria Villa and its original purpose was to communicate with ships in the North Sea and the Cross Sands lightship.
On Saturday, the closest to Guglielmo Marconi's birthday, stations around the world are set up at sites with historical links to the inventor's work. These include Poldhu in England; Cape Cod Massachusetts; Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; Villa Griffone, Bologna, Italy and many others.
Visitors to the station including many other local radio amateurs and members of the public.
Steve G0KYA, who organised the event, said: “Conditions weren’t brilliant due to the effects of a solar coronal hole, but we started off by talking to Ian VK3MO, an amateur near Melbourne, Australia on SSB.
“We then went on to make contacts with other radio enthusiasts all over Europe and as far as North Carolina, USA using speech, PSK and Morse code.
“New this year was CW operation on 30m, which proved very effective with long runs into Europe using a new prototype end fed half wave antenna (EFHW). We also had the club IC-7300 running on 40m, which worked well but highlighted a few things we need to check, such as the overload light flashing when the other station was on 30m and we tried to work on 20m.”
“My thanks to everyone who helped on the day and to to Caister Lifeboat for letting us set up the station.”
The equipment used was 100W from an Icom IC-756 Pro3 (30/20m) and Icom IC-7300 (40m). Antennas were a W5GI dipole on 40m and G0KYA's monoband end-fed half-wave verticals for HF.
A few people have asked about the 30m antenna the club used for its International Marconi Day (IMD) operations at Caister Lifeboat this year.
Ten Megahertz (30m) turned out to be a useful band for us, allowing CW contact after CW contact, despite poor conditions after a geomagnetic storm and a K index of five.
The antenna we used was a portable 40-10m multi-band end-fed half wave (EFHW) with a 49:1 Unun using an FT240-43 toroid.
It used a wire 9m vertically metres up a fishing pole and then about 5.8m out.
The novel thing was that I only built it the day before and it uses a Coghlan camping washing line spool with the string taken off and about 21m of wire wound onto it.
Last week saw some unsettled conditions due to the effects of a coronal hole. Its associated high-speed solar wind stream actually hit the Earth a day earlier than predicted, resulting in poor HF conditions during the International Marconi Day event on Saturday 21st April.
The planetary K index hit 6 the night before and we were left with noisy bands and poor propagation.
HF openings were predominantly to Europe, although Australia and the US were worked by GB0CMS at Caister in Norfolk.
While conditions improved slightly through the week the K index remained steadfastly high.
There were highlights though. The A25UK Expedition to Botswana was worked from the UK on bands as high as 10 metres. As this is a North-South path signals didn’t have to go through the unsettled auroral oval.
There were a couple of sunspots that helped push the solar flux index to more than 80, but next week NOAA predicts the SFI will be around the mid to high 70s, with unsettled geomagnetic conditions at times. The K index could hit five on Bank Holiday Monday, but then decline to three or four for the rest of the week.
We should soon start to see the start of the Sporadic E season, which may bring good short-skip opportunities on the upper HF bands. Keep an eye on the 10 metre beacons from around 28.150 to 28.330MHz for openings.
VHF and up
Low pressure will bring showery rain into western Britain later in the weekend, with prospects for GHz bands rain scatter.
This will soon be replaced by a ridge of high pressure extending south from a large high over Scandinavia. The ridge may bring the possibility of some Tropo conditions towards the east across the North Sea.
That said, the quite strong easterly wind over southern areas may not be the best for good Tropo, since it is likely to be a dry flow and thus there may not be a good moisture contrast between the surface and the dry air above any temperature inversion.
If Tropo turns out to be not such a strong player, there are good reasons to hope for some Sporadic E as we move into the first week of May.
This is usually regarded as the start of the main Es season so the main periods to check are late morning and late afternoon,
As we said earlier, start with 10m and then move higher in frequency as any opening develops, which can eventually reach 2m.
Moon declination is high and losses still low this weekend but declination falls and losses increase as the week progresses.
A week today, before dawn, the Eta Aquarids meteor shower peaks, but the shower's radiant never gets very high above the horizon for observers in the Northern Hemisphere.
GB2CW transmissions in the evenings have now ceased for a summer break. We shall resume again in the autumn. However, that is NOT to say that individual practice should stop! Obviously the summer period is busy for everybody but do try to find time to do some practice each day. We will be able to tell whether you have or not when we resume again in the autumn!
Programs for the computer are available in abundance, and some are a lot of fun too. Try some of the following:
Morserunner. This is a dead ringer for N1MM+ contest program, with lots of programmable parameters to account for real life reception. This will help to build your score in any CW contest.
RufzXP. This is great for call sign copy. You are presented with 50 call signs which you have to type on the keyboard and if you get the call correct, the speed increases. This happens each time until you are unable to copy and then it slows down. There is a scoring table so that you can keep a tally of your progress.
Just learn Morse Code. Again, a program which you can set up to practice with various selections, ranging from numbers and letters, to abbreviations, prosigns and words.
Learn CW Online (LCWO). This is similar to the above only you can use it on line. Try a few mixed groups, great practice for call signs!
TEACH4 by ZL1AN. This is the one most of us use for tuition in the GB2CW classes. Loads of text files to practice with, and again, parameters you can set.
Have a great summer and look forward to starting the classes again in the autumn.
Coffee Break Morse.
Chris G4CCX is tutoring on Thursday mornings on 145.250MHz throughout the summer and will play to the audience, so if you feel like joining him, you will be most welcome.
It will take place THIS Sunday, April 30th at QTH G3LDI as usual. There is still time to book a place, but you will have to be very quick! email me if you wish to attend.
73 de Roger, G3LDI GB2CW Coordinator.
RSGB CC tests.
A few people got set up for the Data session of the CC tests last week! Dates had to be changed due to the insistance of the VHF Contest Committee that they had their 4m test on that evening so the long established CC dates were forced to change! This also applies to the next few months of course, so please keep an eye on the club contest calendar.
Just time to include the chat on last night's Data session. Logs totalled 26, that really is terrific and should increase our lead in the table. Two PBs for Data and they are John G4PFZ with 52 and Stuart M6XTD with 28. Well done to both. Scores are slowly increasing each time, but we do need to do some practice sessions before the event, in a similar way that the USA stations practice. It does make life easier and enable each operator to have control of the program, thus increasing scores again.
ALSO, A BIG REMINDER THAT THE NEXT CC IS ON THIS COMING MONDAY EVENING - SSB AGAIN!!! The same thing happens again next month. Keep an eye on the NARC contest calendar.
BARTG 75 Baud Sprint
Propagation was awful and this was instrumental in making life very difficult for 75 Baud RTTY. I lost count of the number of repeats I made in order to gain the serial number and call. This somewhat defeats the idea of higher speed RTTY, because at 45.5 Bauds, copy would have been somewhat better. It also made me more determined to change my old XP PC to something a lot newer in order to be able to use 2-tone as a decoder. Multiple decoder windows within N1MM+ with different profiles would give much better copy than a single MMTTY window.
I ended up with 125 QSOs in the 4 hours. Several other locals were taking part, Malcolm G3PDH, Gordon G3PXT, John G8VPE and Peter M0RYB.
Not much else to discuss this week. The emphasis will now be on HF NFD as far as HF is concerned.
Only one has arrived and that is in the form of a competition again. Last week's picture attracted only one response and that was from Mark G0LGJ who guessed correctly, David G3MPN, aka the ATU champion! I counted around 10 in the picture.
I have another one for your delectation! Who has as many HF rigs as this?
Contests this week.
Again, too numerous to mention! Take a look here:
Rod G0CBO is the Coordinator for the upcoming 2 metre contest. This is what he has to say:
Things really moving forward on the clubs VHF contest in May. We had a meeting on April 26th at the club and will try and compile a rota. Have a few names and call signs of people who have expressed an interest but still require more people.
We shall be operating portable at Great Ellingham near Attleborough, the contest is 24 hours from 14.00 to 14.00, exchange is sig report, QRA locator and Postcode.
We will have a 60 foot tower, 11 ele yagi and about 300/400 watts, so should be heard. Will be computer logging manual.
Should be a great weekend, ideal chance to get to use and observe a great 2 mtr contest station, have some fun, experience setting a station up, learn a little about contests and logging and to see what VHF is capable of .
Any body welcome to join us, visit, make the tea, operate . Any time you can give would be great including help to set up on the friday.
Here is a list of the others who have expressed an interest but have not been able to catch up with as yet.
John G8VPE has some input for VHF contests:
Please be advised of the agreed change of postcode designator for Norwich . It should now be sent as NK and not as NR previously. The new postcode was active for the UKEICWDX contest last weekend. However,for a while both NR and NK will be accepted.
I have emailed the RSGB contest committee to request that they change the list of postcodes on their website and suggested that they print it as part of the rules for M1 and M3 contest multipliers (as the UKEI rules did for their last contest) .
Sorry I can't be with you to help out but I'll try to give you some points from here. Good Luck and Good DX, I hope you do well - the VHF contest side of the hobby needs all the encouragement it can get.
I almost overlooked the 70MHz UKAC ON Thursday 20th April. I was quite surprised to see on the listings that 3 club members took part. Ian G4SGX, Mike G4DYC and Terry G3MXH with a grand score of 94 - obviously well experienced on 4m.
Quite a busy time for contests in May:
Monday 1st May 80m CC SSB
Tuesday 2nd May 144MHz FMAC and UKAC
Tuesday 9th May 432MHz FMAC and UKAC
Wednesday 10th May 80mCC DATA
Thursday 11th May 50MHz UKAC
Thursday 18th May 70MHz FMAC and UKAC
Thursday 25th May 80mCC CW (moved from the usual slot of 18th May).
Some contests, both VHF/UHF and HF require the first two characters of the transmitting station postcode, e.g. IP or PE etc., to be sent as part of the contest exchange as well as RST, Serial Nr, IARU Locator in either 4 or 6 characters. Problems have been encountered by quite a few in Norfolk when sending NR for postcode, whereby some stations interpret this as NR? for a serial Nr repeat request, especially in CW and then request your postcode by sending QTH? or similar.
It has been agreed by RSGB Contest Committees that we shall change this from NR to NK from now onwards and that Postcode lists etc will be updated to reflect the change.
This change was active for the UKEIDXCW contest last weekend. Reading their contest rules this was made clear by printing the change to NK in bold RED ink. For those who had not implemented the change, NR will still be accepted during the initial phase.
VHF contests affected will be those that require the M1 or M3 multiplier rule which does include the 144MHz May contest that Rodney G0CBO is organising for the club on 20th&21st May 2017.
Affected vhf contests:
70MHz 14th May (M1)
144MHz May 20th&21st May (M1)
70MHz Trophy 16th July (M1)
1st 50MHz 9th April (M3)
1st 144MHz Backpackers 21st May (M3)
4th 144MHz Backpackers 5th August (M3)
144MHz Low Power 5th August (M3)
432MHz Low Power 6th August (M3)
50MHz AFS 22nd October (M3)
UK Activity Contests for 2017
Here are the May Activity Contest dates for your diaries:
144MHz 1st Tuesday of each month (next 2nd May) - Times are 2000-2230 local time
432MHz 2nd Tuesday of each month (next 9th May)
50MHz 2nd Thurday of each month (next 11th May)
1.3GHz 3rd Tuesday of each month (next 16th May)
70MHz 3rd Thursday of each month (next 18th May)
SHF - 4th Tuesday of each month (next 23th May) - check rules for times of 13cm contest.
FMACs begin 1 hour earlier than UKAC on 70MHz, 144MHz and 432MHz (1900-2000 local).
73 John G8VPE
That's it for this week, so enjoy your contesting!
73 de Roger, G3LDI
|Lottery funding enabled NARC to purchase direction finding equipment for training, competitions and as a fun family introduction to amateur radio|
Any licensed amateur can run and take part in the net - everyone welcome!
The Beginners net will restart on Friday 2nd December at 19.30 organised by Simon M0LDK and Julian 2E0DJR. They would also like a few others to help them so if you can help them run an occasional net to help beginners to our hobby please let me know and I will put you in touch. Thank You
GB3NB is a 2 metre repeater which you can hear on 145.625MHz and transmit to on 145.025MHz.
You can find out more about many of the Norfolk repeaters from http://gb3nb.org.uk/wp/
The club meets virtually every Wednesday throughout the year in the sixth form centre of the City of Norwich School, Eaton Road, Norwich, NR4 6PP from 1900-2200.
We welcome anyone of any age, gender or ability and who enjoys experimenting with radio and electronics to come and meet us and see what we do in our hobby.
Please see above ONLINE tab for details of the club programme and below this piece for contacts of club officials.