CATSWHISKER – MARCH 2001
Hello again to all our members and readers.
In Catswhisker you will always find ‘family’ news about our SDRS members – that’s to keep us in touch with each other so let me know if there is any piece of news you want passed. We bring you reports of Club events as they happen including arrangements in case you want to join in, and of special efforts made to widen interest in the Radio hobby .
Now and again other topics find their way in – this month being such a case. There is a wryly humorous piece from Neville 2E1HFY, rehearsing the kind of arguments that every generation makes as it matures, and more on the theme of the Enigma codebreakers and the Bletchley Park involvement in the Second World War.
And Catswhisker often ends with an ‘And Finally’ piece which is more-or-less radio-related but just appeals to my quirky sense of humour. Such as – if the Stannah lady has to call her stair lift down, why has it gone up without her?
Enjoy your reading – John, M0BQO
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
March 6th – a Bring and Buy sale. A charge of 10% on sales will be levied. People who only have a few items to sell, if you fix a label with your name and selling price it may be possible to leave it for someone else to sell.
March 18th – Bournemouth Radio Club’s rally at Kinson Community Centre.
April 3rd – South Dorset Radio Society Annual General Meeting
April 21st: International Marconi Day. More later.
April 21st and 22nd: London Amateur Radio and Computer show at Alexandra Palace.
April 22nd: Yeovil A.R.C.’s QRP Convention at Digby Hall, Sherborne.
May 1st – An open forum with experts on hand to pass on their experience and answer questions.
June 5th – We thought that there may be some recent RAE takers who might appreciate tips on operating including making QSOs and QSLs, so the June meeting will be along those lines. Fine tuning later.
(Preliminary notice) Keep September 4th pencilled into your diary because we have booked the General Manager of Yaesu UK, Bob Ives G3MSL.
SDRS BRING AND BUY SALE
Clearing out? Finding space? Stocking up? Want something? Selling or buying?
The SDRS Spring Sale is for YOU!
MARCH 6TH AT CHICKERELL CHURCH HALL
CU ALL, OK?
Mal Heddon G4ZIY, of Portland, is the Senior Morse Examiner for Dorset. He writes:
“Since my appointment I have had to re-establish the exam system from scratch, which has taken quite a time; however, I have now managed to get things running this side of the county. I assume from your newsletter you know about the test on March 3rd and by the time the next one hits the doormat the final date for applications would have passed, but I would appreciate if you could place the following information in your next issue:
Next tests to be held at the QTH of Neville 2E1HFY:
7/07/01 last date for application is 18/06/01
3/11/01 last date for application is 15/10/01.
I have also been in contact with the Chairman of the Flight Refuelling Club and plans are afoot to have an on-demand session at the Flight Refuelling Rally in August, and for one more exam during the year. I will pass on this information when I know it.”
Our enterprising youngster, Owen 2E1OZY, runs a 2-m net for Novices every Wednesday evening starting at 2000.
The initial calls are made on the calling channel, 145.500MHz, then QSY to the working channel 145.525MHz.
A COMPUTER VIRUS
Along with Richard 2E1AVF I have been in touch with Julie P, an American ham, who sends a virus warning.
It comes under a blank e-mail with no subject and no sender, but with an attachment called OLAAANOL.EXE and it is a WIN32 worm. If you find it, delete it without opening it.
The way to do this is TOOLS-OPTIONS-READ then increase seconds so it stays unread; then delete.
YEOVIL ARC QRP CONVENTION
This has now become a major venue for QRP enthusiasts; it’s also a very good rally where you can learn a lot about radio in general and QRP in particular, and make the usual purchases.
It takes place at Digby Hall, Sherborne on 22nd April.
There will be invited speakers, trade stands and a QRP constructors competition; Morse tests are available on demand.
Club tables (£10) can be hired for sales and publicity.
CONSTRUCTION CONTEST CHALLENGE
The contest that YARC has devised this year is to construct the most sensitive Grid-Dip type Oscillator (GDO) covering the frequency range 3 to 5 MHz and using not more than two discrete transistors.
Because dealing with radios and such can take a bit of time, we like to do some other things from time to time, like online slots.
Each competitor will be required to demonstrate the greatest distance at which he can identify the frequency of the test resonant tuned circuit.
Adjudication takes place on QRP day at 1 pm. The winner gets a prize and a Certificate of Merit.
There is some small print. I can give more details to anyone who wishes to take up the challenge.
M0BQO – Secretary
WE ARE THE SURVIVORS
This is an article for those born before 1940…….
We were born before television, before penicillin, polio-shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, videos, frisbees,. freebies and the Pill . We lived before the radar, credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ball-point pens; before dishwashers, tumble dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip-dry clothes, and before man walked on the moon.
We got married first and then lived together – how quaint can you be? .We thought ‘fast food’ was what you ate in Lent. A ‘Big Mac’ was an oversized raincoat and crumpet we had for tea. We existed before house-husbands, computer-dating, dual careers; when a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins and sheltered accommodation was where you waited for a bus.
We were before day care centres, group homes and disposable nappies. We had never heard of FM radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word processors, yoghurt and men wearing earrings. For us, time sharing meant togetherness, a. chip was a piece of wood or a fried potato, hardware meant nuts and bolts and software wasn’t a word.
Before 1940 ‘Made in Japan’ meant junk; the term ‘making-out’ referred to how you did in your exams; a stud was something that fastened a collar to a shirt and ‘going all the way’ meant staying on a double-decker bus until it reached the depot. Pizzas, McDonalds and instant coffee were unheard of. In our day cigarette smoking was fashionable; grass was mown; coke was kept in a coalhouse; a joint was a piece of meat you had on Sundays and pot was something you cooked it in. Rock music was a grandmother’s lullaby; El Dorado was an ice cream; a gay person was the life and soul of the party.
There were four grades of toilet paper – Radio Times, Daily Despatch, Daily Herald and the Manchester Evening Chronicle. A moneybox was called a penny gas meter. People had the toilet outside the home and ate their meals inside the home. Transportable lightweight baths could be used in any room of the home. A porn shop was a pawn shop; a handkerchief was a coat sleeve. Footwear was constructed of leather, iron and wood.. A disc jockey was a National Hunt rider with a back injury. The recycling unit was known as the rag and bone man. An alarm was known as a knocker up. The NHS was known as the doctor’s bill, 6d a week. Debt and illegitimacy were secrets, Macdonald only had a farm. Central heating was an oven plate or a firebrick wrapped in a blanket. A duvet was your dad’s overcoat. A kitchen unit was known as a slopstone. The Top Ten used to be the Ten Commandments.
We who were born before 1940 must be a hardy bunch when you think of the ways in which the world has changed and the adjustments we have had to make. No wonder we are so confused and there is a generation gap.
But, by the grace of God we have survived – Hallelujah!
Neville Bridle, 2E1HFY
ALMOST FINALLY – KEEPING THE SECRET
Two episodes that illustrate how zealously the Allied forces hid their acquisition of the Enigma codes from the Germans.
On 30th October 1942, in the eastern Mediterranean, HMS Petard forced U559 to the surface. Lt Anthony Fasson, AB Colin Grazier and NAAFI assistant Tommy Brown entered the doomed U-boat which had been abandoned by its crew. Brown carried books and documents back to other sailors but a sudden rush of water down the conning-tower capsized the submarine taking Fasson and Grazier to their deaths. The booty was, of course, the coding keys for the four-rotor Enigma machines that had perplexed Bletchley Park for nearly a year..
Petard’s coup came just in time for Bletchley Park to solve the Enigma four-rotor codes.
Because of its momentous repercussions it had to remain one of the best-kept secrets of the war – indeed some regarded it as the most important single exploit.
The Admiralty did not dare to breathe a word about it and even downgraded the Victoria Cross bravery awards the men deserved in case German intelligence were alerted to find out more and discover the code was blown. They were given posthumous awards, the George Cross; Brown got the George Medal.
During the night of 18th December 1944 the German submarine U1209 ran aground on Wolf Rock, near Lands End. The sub was scuttled but 44 of the crew were rescued by a Canadian frigate which had been alerted by a broadcast from the Wolf Rock lighthouse keeper. In his excitement he had given the alarm over an ‘open’ radio channel, keeping up a running commentary.
The British assumed that this broadcast must have been monitored by the Germans, so released news of the capture to the Press and the BBC.
The Americans, though, were concerned that it may not have been monitored, and that if the first that the Germans had heard of the incident was via the BBC, they would assume their Enigma machine had been seized. This would compromise the work of cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park and in the USA.
Three days later the encoding keys on the Enigma machines were indeed changed!
Alan Rogers’ talk about his cryptanalyst experiences at Bletchley Park certainly sparked a lot of interest within the SDRS but it was only possible because of the media coverage resulting from the Enigma revelations, which in turn led to books and films.
The account of HMS Petard seizing the Enigma code books from U559 is the subject of a book I came across recently – ‘CAPTURING ENIGMA’ by Stephen Harper (Sutton Publishing, £14.99).
It is another Now-It-Can-Be-Told spin-off from the Enigma/Bletchley Park saga and tells the true story of the exploits of the destroyer HMS Petard during the War, written by an ex-crew member who became a top foreign correspondent. He went to considerable trouble to research the facts, which show what a momentous career the destroyer had from its launch in 1942 to its scrapping in 1967, including the controversial depth-charging of a Japanese super-submarine while survivors were still in the water after it had sunk a liner, Khedive Ismail.
It is a fascinating account, well worth reading, I borrowed it from Weymouth library.
John Rose M0BQO