Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

CARS Operating from Chelmsford Town Centre -2009

25th August 2009 Added reports & photographs of Operating from Chelmsford Town Centre

Chelmsford Town Centre Operation
Saturday, 15th August, 2009

CARS learnt that the original pitch they had been allocated was occuppied by the British Army with a 10 Ton lorry pulling a 25 Pound Howitzer!

Mark, M0IEO therefore operated "Plan B" which is from a Gazebo instead of the white caravan.

Chelmsford Town Centre
          The organising sub-Committee of the Town Centre Promotion Group.
          This was taken on Saturday, 15th August.

Chelmsford Town Centre
          The CARS Gazebo viewed from the other side.   Note the lack of sign.
          When people saw the AA next - they speeded up to pass without being accosted!

Chelmsford Town Centre
          The lovely young Community Support Officer is Katherine, M3HPY and daughter of CARS Member Bob, G4MDB. Mark's daughter Laura, M3LIQ can also be seen (centre, stripped T Shirt).

Sunday, 16th August

Chelmsford Town Centre
          CARS Vice Chairman, Martyn, G1EFL (left) and the promotion team.

Chelmsford Town Centre
          CARS Chairman, John, G8DET (centre) called in.
Photo taken by Martyn, G1EFL

Chelmsford Town Centre Chelmsford Town Centre
          Adjacent to the area allocated to CARS were the above providing interest to the shoppers.

Chelmsford Town Centre
          The BudiPole Aerial neatly frames the Town Shield.

Plenty of interest was created which was the aim of Richard and Mark - Well done and thank you.

Promoting Amateur Radio - Chelmsford Town Centre - June 2009

During a meeting held to discuss the current Intermediate Course at Clive, G1EUC's QTH, the upcoming Full License Course was bought up and was decided that due to low take-up CARS should instead run another Foundation Course with a shorter revision course for the Full License.   This meant that we would need to promote the Foundation Course, as numbers were not sufficient to fill the class at that time.

Richard, M3YLB came up with the idea of holding an informal weekend of radio display in Chelmsford town centre to promote the Club's training and to attempt to bring Amateur Radio into the public eye.

The weekend of June 13th and 14th was decided on and so Richard set about making the required arrangements with Chelmsford Council who graciously allowed us to set up in Market Square for the weekend.   This was not as simple as it first sounded and involved several meetings between Richard and Chelmsford Council officials (this involved numerous phone calls and two trips by Richard on a bus from Southend to Chelmsford to attend meetings) who I must say, given the short notice moved heaven and earth to provide C.A.R.S with the required permission to operate in the town centre.
Additional support was given by Clive, who wrote out a full Method Statement to explain what we were proposing to do, and from Martyn G1EFL who prepared a full Risk Assessment to show that we would not pose any danger to the public in operating from a public place.

With all the permissions in place, the day dawned bright and sunny, the caravan was loaded the night before so all I had to do was hitch up and hit the road. I left home at 06:15 and with a short stop to fill the petrol can for the generator, I met up with Richard and Chris, M3YLN, on the A130 at 06:30 and travelled in convoy on to Chelmsford town centre.   We arrived at 07:00 on the dot and within 10 minutes we had the caravan in place and the kettle on, I bet you were wondering when I would get to that bit!

Town Centre
Richard, M3YLB (left) and Mark, M0IEO.
Photo by John G8DET

The next to arrive was Susan from Chelmsford Council Markets Office, she came to check that we were in the right place and that we would not cause a problem to the public and was very happy with the arrangements we had put into place.   There was a strong breeze blowing through the town centre and that gave me some concerns about using the club's vertical antenna as being a paved area, there was no way of guying the antenna against falling, so I asked Susan if we could use a wire antenna instead and attach it to the adjacent multi story car park in the interest of public safety.   This idea was agreed, so we dispatched Richard complete with a roll of 2.5mm earth wire to the top floor and he passed the wire down to us and we were away with a 50 foot long wire antenna which was connected to my Kenwood TS 480 SAT by means of an SGC antenna coupler, this gave us a good VSWR reading on all bands.

The next problem we found was the generator, I had not run this for the last 2 years, and although it was serviced after its last use, the petrol had gone stale and it was reluctant to run.   A couple of phone calls later and our club Chairman John G8 DET arrived with the club generator.   This was much appreciated but on checking the sound pressure figures of the Club generator it was decided that this would be too loud for use in such a confined area.   So we continued with my one which by now was running on fresh petrol as the old fuel had burned through and was now running smooth and clean. We were now on the air and working so all was well.

Town Centre
Clive, G1EUC (seated left), Martyn, G1EFL and Mark, M0IEO.
Note the photo display boards but David, G3SIV & M0MYR, CARS Publicity duo.

Photo by John G8DET

It must be remembered that the purpose of the event was not for us to play radio all day but to help the public understand the many uses of radio and to make them aware that the use of radio is open for all to enjoy.   A lot of the members of the public that I spoke to were under the impression that Amateur Radio was something that needed years of study and a good working knowledge of electronics to be able to get a license.   They were surprised to learn that with the C.A.R.S training courses which are available to everyone, they could go from Foundation license to Full license in about a year with no previous knowledge of radio at all.   All in all we probably spoke to 50 members of the public about our training courses and of those, 30 took application forms and literature away with them, but more importantly, they took a new understanding of the uses of radio and the knowledge that there is a club in their home town, that can offer the training and help they need if they want to take up a hobby that is both exciting and educational!

Another thing that was a surprise to me was the number of people who came to talk to us who had held licenses but had let them lapse, and were unaware that the license structure had changed in the last decade.   Most of them had their old radios in the loft or tucked away in a cupboard somewhere and had forgotten about them until they came across us working in the town centre.   I think we may have sparked a renewed interest in a few of them and they were off home to get on line and re-activate their old call signs, so if you hear a few "G4 or G8" call signs that you have never worked before or remember from years gone by then please go back to them and welcome them back to the hobby.

Town Centre
Early morning attendees: -
Richard M3YLB, Mark M0IEO, Clive G1EUC, John G8DET, Chris M3YLN, Norman M0FZW and Martyn G1EFL .

Photo by Terri, Norman, M0FZW's Wife.

As always, we had good support from the Club for the event, we had visits from Clive, G1EUC who stayed with us for most of the day, Martyn, G1EFL, who was with us all day and worked tirelessly on the HF radio and later in the day on 2m and Echolink, John, G8DET, who remembered to bring the one thing we had all forgotten, the camera, Norman, M0FZW and his wife, Patrick, M0XAP and his wife, who now has the unenviable task of writing out all the QSL cards, Clive M0GHH who was with us for most of the day, James, 2E1GUA who came and added some calls to the HF log, Chris, G0IPU, for the use of the club call sign and who came and added calls to the 2m log and Murray, G6JYB who called in and helped us with the packing away. Thanks also to David, G3SVI, and Myra, M0MYR, for delivering the advertising and display boards to me on Friday night.

I can't end this write-up without thanking the people who without their dedication and help, the whole exercise would have been impossible, Richard, M3YLB, Clive, G1EUC, Martyn, G1EFL and Chris, M3YLN.   Between them they put a lot of hours into arranging the event and getting the permission needed to operate from Chelmsford Market Square.   Unfortunately we had to cancel the Sunday, as with the market closed on a Sunday, that section of the town is so quiet that we would have been kicking our heels.   Richard and Clive did try and negotiate a change of location at the last minute on Saturday to the main town centre for the Sunday but the area was fully booked so we decided that we would cancel at the last minute.   A special thank you to Susan of Chelmsford Borough Council for the work and support she has given us for the venture, without that we would never have been allowed to set up and work from "Chelmsford, the Birthplace of Radio".

All in all an excellent day and with any luck, we may even get a few new recruits into the Foundation course in September.

73 de Mark, M0IEO.

Mark, thanks for the Report and the use of your caravan and generator.

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