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Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

Sandford Mill Science & Industry Museum
2009 August Sunday Afternoons


Chelmsford Science & Industry Museum has a series of Open Sunday afternoons during August each year. CARS was invited to provide an Amateur Radio Station on the 2nd, 9th, 16th & 23rd this year.

The idea this year is for HF to occupy the Marconi Hut on the 2nd & 16th and VHF/UHF on the 9th & 23rd August.
This year the VHF/UHF will be provided by Mark and his team using his caravan parked near The Barn.
It is hoped to display, using a digital receiver, the spectrum of a radio signal in the Marconi Hut whilst the VHF/Uhf event is taking place.

2nd August
Weather dominates the Sunday Afternoons at Sandford Mill, this year it was nice weather with rain the previous evening. However the forcast was for rain and this may have been a factor in reducing the crowds. Those who did turn up seemed to enjoy what they saw.

CARS operated the HF station set up by Brian, G3CVI with Patrick, M0XAP logging and Martyn, G1EFL on the microphone. Conditions were generally good with Canada and Japan being soon worked.

Adrian, M0ABY & Mavis, G0XBC from Wheathampstead also enjoyed the afternoon.

2nd August Sunday Afternoon - Patrick M0XAP & Martyn G1EFL
Patrick logging with Martyn on the microphone.
Photographs by John G8DET using a Kodak camera with a wide angle lense.

2nd August Sunday Afternoon - CARS Merchandise

Martyn brought along a range of CARS Merchandise.

2nd August Sunday Afternoon 2nd August Sunday Afternoon - Essex Chronicle
Photographer from Essex Chronicle (right) writing the names of the persons in his picture.

Operating: Brian checking his watch with Patrick on the microphone and Malcolm logging.

James 2E1GUA talking to Martyn.

2nd August Sunday Afternoon

Brian, Patrick and Malcolm (right) with Club Chairman John G8DET looking on.
Photo taken by Martyn G1EFL

9th August
The weather forecast for the afternoon was hot sun - and it was! This may have resulted in parents taking their children to the beach. The many senior ex-Marconi people who turned up enjoyed the afternoon. The oldest was 92 years old.

This time it was the turn of the VHF/UHF Station - and Mark provided a nice tent by the Barn as he had damaged his lovely caravan.

Report by Mark M0IEO:-
Sunday August 9th was VHF afternoon at Sandford Mill, a location I always enjoy as it is close to home but could be 100 miles away. There is always a sense of peace and calm at Sandford Mill that you just do not find at other locations, that and the fact that CARS are always made to feel welcome at Sandford Mill.

And that is how it was this weekend, with perfect weather John 2E0NNQ and I arrived at the back gate at 12:20 and ten minutes later Geoff G7KLV joined us armed with the key and we were in. Unfortunately due to a minor mishap on holiday in Dorset last month, the caravan was off the road-awaiting repair. Twenty minutes later and we had the tent up and were working on the antenna we were to use for the afternoon. Just in time for the antenna assembly we were joined by Martin G1EFL who was put to good use in checking the mast was upright and well guyed.

By 14:00 hrs we were operational and we had the first cup of tea of the afternoon in our hands. Patrick M0XAP was next to arrive and was soon on the mic and calling CQ, it was hard work finding contacts on 2m and in the first hour we had no more then 6 contacts in the log. I find it worrying that 2m is so under used these days, I can’t explain why it is not as popular as it used to be, I still find it to be a band with a lot to offer and some surprises as well.   There are few things more satisfying then working a lift on 2m and there is plenty of room for all to enjoy their chosen aspect of radio. John is on a voyage of discovery with his new call sign learning to use satellites and for many people it is their first journey into amateur radio as it must be the most affordable band for a beginner to get onto.

The VHF Tent
Photograph by John, G8DET.

With Martin, John and myself all taking turns with Patrick on the mic, we were joined by Jim, 2E1GUA who worked the mic for a while and also by Malcolm G4KGL who came for a chat and to see how we were doing.   John G8DET called in during a break from the SDR display which Murray; G6JYB was giving in the Marconi hut in the main building and took photos of the gang.  

The VHF Tent later in the afternoon
Photograph by Martyn, G1EFL.

We worked on until 17:00 hrs and managed to fill no more then half a page in the GX0MWT 2m logbook, one of the most satisfying contacts we had was late in the afternoon when we were called by Yan, 2E0YAN, who was trying out his new call sign having passed the intermediate exam in July with the CARS training team at Danbury. Yan was a 5/5 signal from Colchester and was only using 5watts of power; it proves he was paying attention during the lectures.

All too soon it was time to be packing the kit away and with Martin, Jim, John and my wife Belinda, this took no more then 35 minutes to pack into the car and we were ready for the short run home.

All that remains is to say thanks to Martin, John, Patrick, Jim and Malcolm for attending and helping with the VHF station, to Geoff and John G8DET for looking in and helping with the photo’s and access and to Dr Geoff Bowles for making Sandford Mill available to the club and for all the lovely blackberries that Belinda picked.   I now have enough blackberry and apple jam to last well into the winter with enough left for a blackberry crumble or two!

Hope to see some of you in Chelmsford Town Centre next weekend and if not, then we will be back at Sandford Mill on August 23rd for the afternoon so why not come and join the fun and operate a much forgotten band.

73 de Mark, M0IEO.

Marconi Hut & the SDR Demonstration

While Mark and the VHF Group were working the world from the Tent by the Barn, Murray G6JYB & John G8DET were providing a Demonstration of a Radio Signal using the Digital Display projected onto a screen in the Marconi Hut.

9th August Sunday Afternoon 9th August Sunday Afternoon
G4KGL (left), Murray (seated) and a member of the public, Reg Lindsell, looking at a "Water-Fall" display projected with the Lottery purchased equipment.
Photographs by John, G8DET.

The blue horizontal band, near the centre represents the tuning range on a receiver. The small vertical light blue band being the tuning point.   The band above this is the radio spectrum tuned by this receiver at this time.   Yellow bands being the strongest signal, red next etc.   This coding gives a quick visual representation of the signals and activity on the Band.   One can also tune to a "dull" display area if one wished to transmit on that Band.   Morse could be read vertically in real time (to the right of centre).

The semi-circular scale with a pointer is the signal strength of the signal actually tuned into.

9th August Sunday Afternoon

Using another Notebook Computer & Charle's monitor placed on a CR150, Murray is showing a PowerPoint presentation of the "Story of Radio through the ages" which gave a blow by blow account of the introduction to SDR.

This demonstration proved very intesesting to many members of the public with ladies picking up what was going on generally quicker than their male partners!

This demo will be repeated on the 23rd August.

16th August

The weather forecast for the afternoon was "very hot" and hot it proved to be!

90 members of the public appeared together with Adrian, M0ABY and Mavis, G0XBC had from Wheathampstead - nice to see them again.

Brian had set up the Club's FT847 on the long wire aerial.   However Club Chairman produced the Club's ASUS 1000HE Notebook loaded with WinLog32 from a suggestion by Carl, G3PEM that we really should be using computer logging.   Also connected was the Club's Digital Projector with "stereo projector screens provided by Brian & John.

August 16th
The HF Station with Brian logging & Patrick, M0XAP on the microphone.
Note Brian has a full size Keyboard to enter the data into.
Notebook keyboards are now better but not really friendly for continuious work.
Photos by John G8DET

As it appeared Brian, G3CVI was the only licensee present with WinLog in his own shack so he ran the log in parallel with the actual operator who kept the usual log-book - just in case everything went blank!

Logging by this method is slower than the old fashioned system by the very nature of the PC, the keyboard and the ever present need to keep the mouse pointer on the correct field otherwise chaos reigns.

Brian found that a few updates must have been applied since some bits of info were slightly differently displayed compaired with his home based version which is a year old.   The automatic time entries saved a lot of time reading the clock...but generally the '32 is very easy to use and delivers exportable pages and printouts.

The ionoshphere was its usual unco-operative self although soon after opening up at 2pm we managed several continental QSOs with our expected 5/9+++ reports.Holland, Germany, Denmark, Ireland etc were all well received on 40m but a few trials on 20m and higher yielded nothing but a week voice in the noise or just noise only.   It was the Lighthouse week-end and we joined in and enjoyed the fun with them.

Brian said he was especially pleased to be called by a Danish station on the island of Falster on the eastern edge of Denmark having worked him (OZ1KGV) from home a day before.   He promised to listen for us and so he family name "Thwaites" is Danish in origin !!!! whatever that implies Hi Hi.
They even have a river named after me...or so they told me when last over there. Well done to everybody who turned up to help make the day so interesting and successful.

Report above by Brian, G3CVI.

August 16th
Look at the technology in use.   The small Notebook on the PSU is feeding the
Lottery purchased Digital Projector and showing the large screen on the wall the stations
so far worked.   The monitor above the CR150 is showing the CARS Web Site
connected to the Internet via a Dongle by "3" from another ASUS Notebook but this is
the previous model - the Eee900

August 16th
Later in the afternoon with a new team with G4KGL on the mic but still Brian is doing the WinLogging.
Adrian is to the right with CARS Member, Clive M0GHH looking on.

August 16th
Close-up of the screen area. The monitor is showing a photo taken the day before in the Chelmsford Town centre.

August 16th
Close-up of the monitor showing following a suggestion by Geoff, G4ZGP from Manchester.
Once a distant station anounced their Call-Sign we looked it up in & found out more details than were given over the air.   When this was revealed to the station - great surprise!
On the screen are the details of the Italian Lightship IU1L at Genova

Well done to everybody who turned up to help make the day so interesting and successful. 73 de Brian CVI

23rd August

The weather forecast for hot but it was even hotter than last week!   27 degrees C or even more was recorded.

However a number of people turned up who were interested in the Exhibits as they had worked for Marconi, some for 40 years.

It was the turn of VHF/UHF this week so Mark brought his trusty Gazebo as he quite rightly thought the caravan would be just too hot. Stations were difficult to hear let alone work - more Radio Amateurs were at the sea-side or sitting with a cool beer with their feet on a bucket of water!

James 2E1GUA cycled to Sandford Mill to provide support. John provided a tripod with a nice new 70cm aerial matched with a 2 metre aerial. This combination was just what was needed to track Satellite AO-51 at 11 degrees.

Sandford Mill
The VHF Gazebo with James 2E1GUA (left) and Peter G4OAD with Mark M0IEO and visitor Mark from Havering Club behind the Satellite aerials. James 2E1GUA on the microphone.

Unfortunately the Satelite pass was not heard maybe because at the low angle there was a large row of tall willows which absorbed the signal.

In the Marconi Hut Brian was testing out the newly repaired FT747 with the MFJ Tuner.   It produced 100 Watts of carrier power (that was missing before the repair) but unfortunately the microphone failed to modulate the signal.   Again, unfortunately all rigs availble had different microphone connections. As someone said - that is what Amateur Radio is all about!

Sandford Mill
Murray looking at his SDR Notebook (left), Peter, G4OAD, Brian, G3CVI And Norman, M0FZW.

Sandford Mill
WWII RAF Signaller (Ground Station), Alan Hind, Jane Varley, Murray, G6JYB & Brian, G3CVI. They are looking at the Lottery "Awards for All" Notebook and the SDR Receiver.

Visitors looking at the projected image off the SDR Receiver.

As stated above it is surprising what members of the public bring & donate to the Museum.
Marion Piercy brought a series of Radar documents left by her late Husband, Brian who worked at Baddow Research from 1959 until 2004.

Sandford Mill - SDR Display
Murray G6JYB & Colin G0TRM looking at the display from the CARS Lottery purchased SDR, Notebook & Projector. The strong white signal indicated a loud Morse signal.

Next event after this is the Science & Discovery Day on Sunday, 27th September, 10am to 5pm.
See you then?

Thanks to Dr Geoff Bowles for inviting CARS & to all CARS Members and Friends of the Museum who made the events in August such a success.

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