THE CATSWHISKER – JULY 1999

EDITOR’S BIT

The 1999-2000 Club programme should be all organised by now, but it isn’t.

The problem is in devising topics for lecture/discussion that would be both interesting and instructive, for a Society that contains a majority of operators who are so knowledgeable and experienced that it might be construed as teaching Granny to suck eggs.

Nevertheless these same operators are both legally and morally obliged to get involved in the training of all hobbyists, especially the recent recruits.

Catswhisker tries to do this, up to a point; so do our Club meetings, but after a bout of thinking up new topics the ideas tend to dry up. We are always on the lookout for training articles in Catswhisker. Last month’s contribution from G0VLJ stirred up a lot of interest and can be the basis for a first-rate construction project.

Wouldn’t it be good to draw on the knowledge and – especially – the specific fields of interest of our members who would be willing to share them with others?

Who is bold enough to get off their backside and say ‘count me in’? There is a wealth of untapped experience waiting to trickle down. Spread it around before it’s too late.

For starters, how about either a Club lecture or a Catswhisker article on these topics:

– PME earthing /safety in the shack

– Rechargeable batteries / power supplies for mobile and shack.

John, M0BQO

July 6th – S.D.R.S. – Annual Barbecue once again this year coupled with Annual Car Boot Mainly Radio Sale, at Victoria Inn, Knights in the Bottom, Chickerell.

There is likely to be a load of photographic darkroom equipment, some Newnes Radio/TV servicing volumes and lots more.

The Barbecue will also be fired up by our redoubtable tongsman G0NEV.

Aug 8th – Flight Refuelling ARC’s Hamfest at Wimborne.

Aug 18th (Wed.) – Weymouth Carnival – Special Event Station.

Aug 19th (Thu) – Talk at Yeovil A.R.C. (See page 10)

Sept 4/5 (Sat.Sun) SSB HF field day.

It appears that a motoring club – Transport Of Yesteryear Society – meets at the Victoria Inn on the same evening as our BBQ/Boot Sale.

While this may provide opportunities for sales and public relations, it would be fitting for us to use the end of the car park nearest the Barbecue and hope that they will keep to another part.

Special Event Stations – Appeals for help

Carnival Day (August 18th) – We hope to be mounting a Special Event Station again, and as last year it will be at or adjacent to the old Filling Station by the Weymouth Sea Life Centre. The QTH will be either the refurbished horse transporter or an open-fronted tent – or, hopefully, both. This appeal is for the loan of a gazebo type of tent or something similar for the day – please?

RSGB’s SSB Field Day Weekend (September 4/5th). (It is also Dorchester Show Day) SDRS would like to participate in this SSB contest using the QTH at Bradford Peverill, but this is a 24-hour event and it looks as if we may have a problem working through the night. If anyone out there would be willing to operate during the night we would be most grateful. Look for a list on which to volunteer your participation. The organiser of this S.E.S. is Alex G3KKJ. If no positive response is forthcoming we will not be able to go ahead.

Stop-press – just heard – Charlestown Social Club is in liquidation.

We need urgently to find a new meeting place.

Next Club ‘indoor’ meeting is September 7th

The talk on aerials and feeders that Robert, G0RYL was due to give was postponed until some time later, due to the smaller than usual turnout of members for the evening. It was particularly good to see that his XYL Carol accompanied him – she made some valuable contributions to the evening, as you’ll see

Instead, a much-needed discussion ensued and positive attitudes were displayed.

Special Event Stations

The focus of the discussion was the organisation of Special Events such as International Marconi Day, which all agreed had again been a great success, but snags had been identified which needed addressing.

One was the haphazard catering arrangements (or lack of). Carol volunteered to co-ordinate it if we do it next year, an offer gratefully accepted by all.

To some extent this also involves looking after visitors, another area that needs attention, for as Bill G0NRQ pointed out IMD is as much a social occasion as an operational one and we usually expect a throughflow of visitors.

Much the same applied to the Special Event Stations such as at Weymouth Carnival.

In future, the people or committees responsible for Special Events (including contests) will consider these points on an ad hoc basis.

Communications

As the society only meets once monthly, members often need to discuss things in between, which is why the top-band net was so useful but it seems to have lapsed. Also, although the slot we used was available to novices, it would be unlikely that any would have the HF equipment to use it. (I wonder if it is possible to make a simple top-band rig as a construction project, from a kit. Neville’s QTH could form a part of a resurrected net – ed.)

Mike G0NEV agreed that Ridgeway Hill was a barrier, considering the wide spread of members, yet it would not be an appropriate use of the SD repeater for Netting. This is likely to remain a problem at VHF/UHF. Alex G3KKJ (QTH West Stafford) appreciated that the opportunity had been taken to involve more members.

Recruiting

The idea of sending out letters to all local Hams – suggested by G3KKJ – had already been tried some time ago, but funds wouldn’t run to it at present. It seems that people just aren’t club oriented any longer.

As far as new and young licensees are concerned, G0NEV didn’t think the club environment, with (putting it nicely) mature gentlemen, smoke and beer would appeal to them. But George, G3AVV thought it was just a question of overcoming the ‘friendship barrier’.

Everybody applauded how Neville 2E1HFY had set up his QTH to further their interests: this is an absolutely vital service that he is offering.

Carol wondered if SDRS had a Web Site. Any offers?

Club Programme

We are still looking for suitable topics (see Editorial).

A most telling comment came from 2E1HFY: the majority of SDRS members are HF enthusiasts, and the programme reflects this. Why not have evenings devoted to VHF/UHF, when compact equipment could be brought along and demonstrated.

The evening was well worth while, even as a replacement for the original. It was encouraging that many positive ideas and constructive comments were made.

OUR VISIT TO AMERICA – OFF TO WEST VIRGINIA

The sun was shining as we packed our bags, yes we’re off to West Virginia to see our friends Doug (K8APD ) and Lilian. We could get a cab, or use as we did the Hotel shuttle bus and the Braintree Express, which would, and did, drop us right outside US AIR, LOGAN AIRPORT BOSTON. “That’ll be $8 Dollars each and is he under 12, well you get to go free young man”. The trip to the Airport was fairly uneventful, save for the Big Dig, (gotta come back sometime and see the completed version.) ” I’ll take those for you sir ” said an American voice. ” Pardon?” “Oh you’re English where’s your destination?” “Shenandoah Valley Airport via Pittsburgh.” “May I see your tickets please?” “Certainly ” I said handing them over. He took our bags, tied and stuck labels on them, and that was the last time we saw them until Shenandoah. In to the airport lounge – where now? there’s a desk, let’s ask. “Down there, turn left; here are your boarding cards.” The area was small, we sat down, just opposite was a small snack / coffee bar and a similar type shop, nestling between drab grey walls, to the right the loos, to the left a bright L.E.D. arrival / departure screen. Flight 474 – Gate 3 – 12.10pm – on time – Pittsburgh, New Orleans, we had to pinch ourselves, although Doug and I had always talked about us visiting them it was happening, the excitement was intense, you know the feeling, the few moments before and after you opened that envelope “I’ve passed!”, all those mixed emotions, well that’s how we felt sitting there at LOGAN AIRPORT BOSTON, 11.38am Thursday 22 OCT 1998. Passengers for Flight 474 to Pittsburgh, and New Orleans please go to gate three thank you. We boarded the Jet and were soon high in the air. “Coffee sir or would like something stronger?” “I, er, brandy please, no, no, may I have a gin and tonic?” “You’re English aren’t you?” thrusting several miniature brandy and gin bottles into my hand. “Thank you, may I have a tonic?” “Yes sir.” and a handful of tonics were duly passed, Christine and Christopher received the same treatment. “Fasten your seat belts please, we shall be landing at Pittsburgh Airport in fifteen minutes.” Bump and off into the complex.

What a maze of tramways, escalators and auto walkways. “E3 sir – right over the other side of the airport.” This was at least half a mile away, it was just like an underground high street: an automatic moving pavement separated lines of shops, just step on and off you go. “We will eat when we get there, 0K.” Looking out of the window, “Is that our Plane?” “I don’t know, small isn’t it?” said Christine, “And it’s got propellers.” said Christopher. The flight from Pittsburgh over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Shenandoah Valley is, to date, one of the most memorable experiences of my life, the scenery was breathtaking, as I looked across at Christine the small aircraft made another lurch to the left, then to the right, I could see in her eyes please don’t let the rubber bands break. “Fasten your seat belts please,” crackled the tannoy, this helped the situation immensely, Christine’s eyes opened even wider, “We are due to land at Shenandoah Valley Airport in a few minutes, thank you for flying Chautauqua Airlines, sorry about the turbulence, have a nice day”, I could hear the air being exhaled as the excitement faded from Christine’s eyes . Bump squeal swerve, Christine and children first – well Christine anyway, across the tarmac and into the reception area, there stood Doug and Lilian: they hadn’t changed a bit. After the normal greetings and collecting our luggage, with Doug’s Chrysler loaded, we were on our way. “How far is it Doug?” asked Christine. “55 miles.” Doug drove us through mile after mile of breathtaking scenery, the road side and mountains full of brightly contrasting colours “you ain’t seen anything yet” said Doug in that lovely West Virginian voice. An hour and a half later I was standing looking up at THE WILSON BEAM.

Christine and Lilian were in Lilian having made a cup of tea, well you gotta get your priorities right haven’t you. After a delicious evening meal and a guided tour of the Brown Ranch we settled down to a good old rag chew, then to bed.

Early Friday morning, well about 7.45am. local time, still in pyjamas and dressing gown I strode into the kitchen. “Tea or coffee?” said Doug. “Coffee please,” I replied, “thank you.” “Ready to try 15mtrs?” “Certainly am.” “I’ll go down, I switched on earlier.” What a man.

I went to find the video camera Derek G3OWE had let me borrow ( thank you Derek and Valerie). When I returned to the kitchen Lilian was preparing food; Lilian spends a lot of time preparing food and does it extremely well, “Morning Lilian.” “Did you sleep well? Where’s Christine and Christopher?” “Christine’s in the bathroom, Christopher’s in the middle room watching TV.” “Doug’s down in shack talking to Derek.” “Right, I’ll go down and join him.” and turning towards the stairs I said, “See you soon, tell Christine where I am”, and descended the stairs. At the bottom you find yourself in a large basement room now used for storage; following Doug’s voice you turn left walk about 20ft, left again, in front lies the another bathroom, turn right, the shack is now in front of you, this is a large room once used by Lilian as a beauty salon – no wonder she always looks good, Derek, G3OWE was talking, noise level being low and conditions being good, “You’re 5,5, and no trouble copying.”

The transceiver is a Kenwood 520, with an add on digital frequency counter display, accessories, 520 Spk, MC50 Mic, an AMERITRON A811A four valve linear, and of course the four element WILSON beam pointing across the pond to the U.K. The time was 13.26 GMT and the frequency 21.355MHz. “This is GONRQ, transmitting from the village of Chickerell in the United Kingdom, hope you’re receiving me Doug you’re not very strong to me, I can’t stay long I’ve got to go to the Post Office to get my wages, I might have to take my Aerial down there is a storm coming in from the north but it might not hit us, so I will pass it back to you K8APD, A- Perfect- Day, or GONEV, this is GONRQ, saying 73, ‘bye Doug.” “OK Bill you’re about 5 and 3, not as strong as Derek, but we heard everything thank you for coming on today,73 from K8 A PERFECT DAY, you made it so buddy.” “Bye Doug bye Mike.” “OK, well Derek, Lilian has called us for breakfast so we will have to go, thank you also for coming on today, give our love to Valerie, David and Shirley, Geoff and Mary, George and Pearl, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get on tomorrow, well there you are. GOD BLESS, 73 G3OWE. This is K8APD, ‘bye Derek.”

Mike Carter G0NEV

2M Net

Inspired by the release of added frequencies to ‘B’ and Novice licencees, the SDRS is now running a Two-Metres Net on Monday evenings at 8.00 pm. The Net Co-ordinator is Bill Dean, G0NRQ, who will make the initial contacts on the Calling Channel (145.500MHz) using the SDRS’s club call sign G8SDS, then QSY to a suitable working channel.

This Net is open to any local Amateurs who care to participate.

FINAL CALL !

Members of SDRS who have not yet paid their 1999 subscription (£10-50) are requested to do so as soon as possible before their membership lapses.

This is the last call for this year before your copy of Catswhisker doesn’t arrive on your doorstep!

ONE MOMENT IN TIME

The night was warm and inviting, and the stars shone in all their tropical brilliance. Captain John D.S. Phillips was in a dark corner of the bridge, quietly pulling on a cigar with all the contentment that comes to a sailor when he knows the voyage is half over. His ship, the passenger steamer Warrimoo, was quietly knifing her way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on her trip from Vancouver to Australia. The Navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought his Captain the results. The Warrimoo’s position was spotted at about Latitude 0 30′ North and Longitude 179 30′ West. The date was December 30 1899. First Mate Dayldon broke in: “Captain, do you know what this means? We are only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line!”. Captain Phillips knew exactly what it meant and he was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity of achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. In an ordinary crossing of the Date Line, it is confusing enough for passengers, but the possibilities he had before him were sure to confound them for the rest of their lives. The Captain immediately called four more navigators to the bridge to check and double check the ship’s position every few minutes. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark, then carefully adjusted engine speed so that he would strike it just at the right moment. The calm weather, the clear night and the eager co-operation of his entire crew all worked successfully in his favour. At exactly midnight local time, the Warrimoo lay exactly on the Equator at exactly the point where it crosses the International Date Line, and diagonal to both. The consequences of this bizarre position were many.

The bow of the ship was in the southern hemisphere, and in the middle of summer. The stern was in the northern hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was December 30, 1899. Forward, it was the First of January 1900.

The ship was, therefore, not only in two different days, two different months, two different seasons and two different years, but in two different centuries and all at the same time! Moreover, the passengers were cheated out of a New Year’s Eve celebration, and one entire day, December 31, 1899 disappeared from their lives for all time. There were compensations, however, for the people aboard the Warrimoo were undoubtedly the first to greet the new century, and Captain John Phillips, speaking of the event many years later, said, “I have never heard of it happening before, and I guess it won’t happen again until the year 2000!”

I wonder if another Captain will try it again this time!

73 de Geoff, G0EVW
FOR SALE

2 x 5pin din cmptr keyboards.

2 x Amiga 500 cmptrs, power supplies, manuals, mouse.

1 x Del 386 cmptr with monitor.

1 x wide carriage printer (goes with the above)

1 x RN Electronics 6m transverter. 2m in 6m out @ 25w RF output

1 x 3ele 4m beam

1 x 2m large beam – 10ele – As used by Portland ARC VHF FD contest group.

1 x Amstrad 2086 cmptr, B+W monitor. 40mb HD 3.5″floppy + external 5.25″ floppy.

1 x PK-80 TNC with plugs/cables/rs232 cable.

1 x BMW R1100RT. 1096cc – Radio cassette, heated grips, top box & engine bars.

Prices available on application.

Dave G1OCN

(QTHR – Portland)

SICK LIST

We all send our best wishes to

Ray G1YRS, George G3AVV, Jim G7JIM, who have not been enjoying the best of health in recent weeks.

I have heard all of them remark how appreciative they are of being called and having a chat over the radio channels.

WIRELESS NORTH POLE

At the beginning of this year, the explorer David Hempleman-Adams tried to walk to the geomagnetic North Pole. By pure coincidence, exactly 75 years earlier another expedition was near the geomagnetic north pole. This was the American MacMillan Arctic Expedition and it was the first expedition ever to use radio communication. The type of radio communication that MacMillan chose to use was amateur radio.

The expedition station had the callsign WNP, which stood for Wireless North Pole, and it operated on a wavelength of 200 metres. Wireless North Pole was in operation from August 1923 to about july 1924 and made scheduled contacts with radio amateurs in Canada and the USA.

Many expeditions have used amateur radio since 1924, and to mark the 75th anniversary of the first use of amateur radio by an expedition, G3MYM will give a talk about Wireless North Pole on August 19th at Yeovil Amateur Radio Club.

FROM THE MAGS

YARC News

Yeovil A.R.C’s June newsletter gives details of the Club’s recent QRP convention and some contest results including a Constructors’ Challenge.

It is only 8 pages this month, instead of the usual 12. Guess why? Lack of copy!

YARC News is available to read at our club meetings or contact the Secretary.

AND FINALLY!

Alone in Space

Did you follow BBC’s brilliant series ‘The Planets’? Apart from the Clyde Tombaugh story (June Catswhisker) one other worth recounting came in the programme about the probe ‘Voyager’. You may recall the view of Neptune from Voyager as it approached from some distance.

The blue planet occupied the centre of the screen. All around was inky darkness. Did you get the feeling that you were there, on board the spacecraft, thousands of millions of miles from home, all alone in space, looking forwards beyond Neptune and out of our Solar System? Just for a second or two it was a very odd and eerie sensation.

And what about Professor Carolyn Porco, who was even more closely involved? Alone in a studio in late 1986, monitoring Voyager’s pictures as they came in, she was the first person in the world to look back at Saturn from the other side, a strongly black and white ball with its rings. She was mesmerised by this perspective – in her words moved, swept away.

Silent, upon a peak in – Arizona?