40miles 10w FM – Llancloudy to Cheddar (GB3WR)

Recently I spent the weekend at Merediths Farm and Campsite in Llancloudy, a lovely quiet campsite. I set up a 2m 3-element beam (arrow) at 5m on top of a painters pole and pointed it due south. It was a test run to see if I could operate through GB3WR, over 40 miles away due south.

The height profile implies that it should not be possible. GB3WR is the yellow blob in the map above, my location the blue blob in Llancloudy. Amazingly I could open up the repeater with just 10w from the IC-705, so I put a couple of calls through it and made some contacts !!

G1WOV was the first, but I had attenuated WR too much when direction finding and missed his replies unfortunately. I then had contacts with M0HWP Jeremy, and M7AJO/M Callum. Dale, 2W0ODS then called in and we had a good chat, Llancloudy, through GW3WR, and into Barry, great stuff.

The repeater was about S5 on the IC-705 meter, I was running 10w into the 3 ele beam.

Cheers for the contacts which made it resounding success.


Meshtastic – A healthy mesh

There has been a significant rise in the quantity of nodes in our local vicinity, leading to a notable surge in activity on the 869.525MHz single channel. Some nodes are indicating LongFast channel usage rates of 30-50% even during off-peak hours, which is deemed excessive. Research conducted by BRS3 (Mopatops Bristol) has revealed that numerous nodes in the region are excessively transmitting on the channel, akin to ‘spamming’. Thanks to BRS3 for the information regarding these settings. The following is a 24hr snapshot (14/04/24) of direct data that BRS3 received.

It has been observed that sending a text message can often be challenging due to the channel being congested, even when attempting to reach nodes in close proximity. Therefore, it would be advisable to consider restricting the automatic transmission of packets to the mesh in order to alleviate this congestion. The settings outlined below have the greatest influence on the default automated packet transmissions sent to the mesh.

  • Node Info – 10800 seconds (10800 is the default)
  • Position – 3600 seconds (changed from 900)
  • Telemetry – 7200 seconds for all (changed from 900, ‘device metrics’ always gets sent at this interval. It sends battery state and the like to the mesh)
  • Neighbour Info – disabled (disabled by default, leave unless you have a good reason, and know the reason for using it)

I’ve configured the following settings for my nodes in an attempt to reduce the automated transmission of unnecessary data to the mesh. The values highlighted in orange are the crucial ones; please disregard the others as they may not align with your requirements.

Happy Meshing !

Device Config (Node Info)

Position Config

Telemetry Config

One callsign to rule them all

With the new/recent Ofcom amateur radio licence changes, we are permitted to hold only one personal callsign. To that end I have released my Foundation MW6LGA callsign, and my Intermediate 2W0LGE callsign.

Portable Beam

So I picked up one of the ARROW II 146/437-10BP portable 2m/70cm beams for some satellite and portable/mobile activity. Three elements on 2m, seven on 70cm.

I decided that I also wanted it on top of a 5m painters pole for easy setup when I am out in the van so I picked up an adaptor from Amazon. It was a bit pricey but it did the job and seems very strong.

I cut up some box section cable trunking I had and mounted to the top of the adaptor with a few screws and washers. I pre-drilled the adaptor plastic.

A small cut out to take the curved section on the adaptor can be seen below. It lets the box section sit flat.

I put together some velcro straps and screwed them into the adaptor with washers. The foam/sponge grip of the antenna sits snugly in the box section and can then be velcroed in place.

A quick test setup on the van on the top of a 5m painters pole. I am looking forward to using it when next out and about.

73 !

GB1SS downlink on 145.800

So, at around 14:20utc, today, Tim Peake (GB1SS) was due to have a chat with a school in Bristol, Oasis Academy Brightstowe (GB1OAB).

I set up the IC-7100 to listen on 145.800 +3 or so kHz as he approached, moving to -3 or so as he left over the horizon.  The following video is the audio recording, all done through the 7100 qso recorder. The antenna being a 2/70 collinear vertical, the X510N from Diamond.  I found it interesting how his signal dropped as he was over head, obviously hitting the antenna end on.


QRM on 80m

So over the past few months, perhaps four months, I have noticed what can only be described as some wide band QRM on the bottom two thirds of 80m and some smaller stripes of QRM near the top end.

In this image you can see the noise, it is roughly an S point or so, but quite wide band with no real strong centre frequency.


Direction finding it will be extremely difficult if not impossible due to its ‘spread’ out nature and lack of strong signal to ‘home’ in on.

The horizontal green lines in the top section of the image are at S5, S6 and S7. Anyway, this is more of a record of the QRM to see how it changes over the coming months.


Back on the air

So after moving into his new flat at the end of 2015, it was time to get 2W0ODS (Dale) back on the air. I placed an order for a couple of 6m ally scaffold tubes (5mm wall) and split the delivery with Dale. They arrived after some coaxing from the supplier and Dale picked one up and took it back to his home QTH on the car roof rack.


Work was started around 10:15am yesterday in the glorious sunshine, the air cold and fresh with frost in the shade lasting all day. The first plan of action was to recce the situation and work out where everything was going. Dale’s garden is roughly 15ft square so we decided the 6m mast/pole would be as far from the house as possible. A corner was selected due to the number of concrete fence posts making it extremely strong, and a 50ft+ Silver Birch tree, the candidate for the end of the inverted L.

GW4BLE (Steve) arrived later in the morning and Dale donned his chefs outfit and cooked up some very nice bacon and egg crusty rolls. Dale was on soldering duty whilst Steve and I built up the X50 Diamond collinear antenna. A dirty choke was added (6-8 loops of at with 6-8 inch diameter) for good measure. A fixing point was also added to the top of the mast to attach a pulley to ‘pull’ up the inverted L. Paracord was the cordage of choice with its 550lb breaking strain.

Everything was fitted on the pole and it was loftedScreen Shot 2016-01-21 at 10.50.23 into place. Three mounting points using the existing fence bolts with new nuts that pass through the concrete post, and three wood bolts. A couple of rope tie offs were also added to the post.

Next it was time to get my MFJ-269C out to check the SWR on the collinear. A fantastic 1.0:1 rising to 1.1:1 at the ends on the band on 2m, and 1.4:1 at 434MHz on 70cms. All connections were made water tight with self amalgam.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 10.49.24Now it was time to work on the tree. After a number of failed attempts and bruised fingers, an M12 nut was fired over the silver birch taking with it some 18lb fly fishing cord. This was then used to pull 100ft of paracord up through the tree and over. We estimated the height of the end of the inverted L to be about 40ft. The dog bones added to the end of the L (1.5mm conduit cable in grey) and a bungee added at the base to add some ‘give’ to the system.

The SGC-237 coupler/atu fitted, with 10mm of ground wire running off to a single 4ft copper rod driven in as a makeshift ground. This will be added to with more rods in a grid pattern spaced at 4ft, and as many radials as we can fit in.

Everything was made good, and I headed off around 5:10pm, quite a long day of antenna installing. Dale was left with the connections to the HF set and ensuring all was working. Later that evening I had a QSO with him and his signal was a good 10 over 9. Everything reportedly working well and top band tuneable. As a rough estimate the wire length is in the order of 90ft give or take.

IMG_3362 IMG_3363

So all in all a fantastic install with everything working well. It is great to have Dale back on the air again and we will be performing some more tests in coming days. His qrm at this location does not seem to be as bad as his previous qth.

IMG_3364 IMG_3365

It will be interesting to see what Dale can work with the L, and things will only improve as we add more and more ground radials. Incidentally a reen runs some 40ft from the base of the L so the ground there is nicely damp and should act as a great ‘mirror’.  Happy DX’ing Dale 🙂


My first contest

So, over the last couple of weeks, I have been slowly moving into a new shack room, getting everything set up. GW4BLE (Steve) and GW3NWS (Ross) introduced me to Logger32 which is a great piece of software for keeping logs.  Everything is getting sorted out slowly in the shack and Steve mentioned that there was a PSK63 contest happening, specifically the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest, from 12:00Z, Jan 9th, through to the 10th ending at 12:00Z. I thought…. why not 🙂


So I decided to use Ham Radio Deluxe for my data qso’s, with its inbuilt Digital Master 780 and logging utility. I managed to get it all set up and working, macros to hand, automatic serial number incrementing, qrz lookups, etc etc. Thankfully, I am able to export the logs from HRD and import them into Logger32 via the trusty adif file format.

I started around 10:15pm on the Saturday, rather late I know. I managed to get 50 contacts in the log before I shut down around 1:30am, stations became few and far between after mid night. Many European countries worked that evening, Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, Coatia and into Russia to name but a few. I also managed to contact a US station, N1NHY, who unfortunately wasn’t partaking in the contest. I switched to non contest macros, and had a 5 min qso with Robert over there in Maine. Good stuff indeed !

Sunday morning I was back at it around 9:50am and worked some more stations in Europe and beyond. The Newport Amateur Radio Society club net featured between 10am and 10:50am, so I was back at it again around 10:55am calling CQ and jumping on those I didn’t already have in the log. Some interesting stations on 15m worked, A65DC in the United Arab Emirates, UN6TA and UN7PGA in Kazakhstan.

All in all, very happy with the results, 100 contacts in the log, and a few lost due to  fat finger moments on my part. The antennas here seemingly working quite well, the fan dipole 80/40/20 home brew at around 35ft top, and an inverted L, 128ft long, 60ft slight sloping vertical with a 68ft horizontal section.

A brief setup issue on my part with the Kenwood TS-590SG. I had left the auto notch filter on, and it was playing havoc with the psk63 signals. I realised this after about 20 mins of trying to decode all sorts of corrupt signals. Ah well, I know for next time 🙂

A most enjoyable 4 hrs or so.


Follow Up – TVi

Issues at home all resolved. A whole night on 2m and 70cms, and not a single flutter or comment from mum when she was watching tv. Also a load of HF during the evening as well.  Happy Days indeed 🙂  My brownie points will now be preserved somewhat !


TVi – The battleground

Television interference, what a complete nightmare. When I passed my foundation licence and started transmitting on 2m @ 10 watts,  TVs throughout the house all went haywire.

We were running a Global (or equivalent) F140 amplifier/splitter 4 way, to take signals from the loft mounted (not ideal, being in a bungalow) TV antenna and distributing them to some TVs around the house.

So, on day two of being on the air, I replaced the loft antenna with a high gain, and replaced the shoddy down feed coax.  This did seem to improve things, until recently, when I moved into a new shack location and was spending more time on 2m and 70cm. Also transmitting at up to 50W with the new callsign.

Anyway, it transpires that the F140 amp, is wide band, in that it amplifies from 48mHz through to 700-800 odd. This is not ideal considering some of the HAM bands fall inside this range.

So a scout around, and some advice from 2W0ODS (Dale), I decided to pick up a PROception PROAMP104X distribution 4 way amplifier. £11.98 from a local supplier ToolStation. Keep in mind it doesn’t come with a 12v PSU. It has a frequency response of 470-862mHz, and has >= 26dB of rejection below 400mHz. The passband filter slopes from 400mHz at -26dB up to 470mHz at roughly +4dB.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 16.13.42

A link to the UK distributor of the device can be seen HERE and includes links to manuals. You can get it cheaper from ToolStation though.

So, I returned home, installed the device in place of the old F140, F-type connections on both, so an easy swap over, and the existing 12v supply was in spec, so that was used.

I did some initial tests on 145.375 and the signal was maintained on various channels on the TV whilst I was keying, un-keying and talking. Another test made on 70cms to a local repeater GB3RT, and the TV picture was perfect.

Fingers crossed I have seen the last of this issue. One last option if it rears it’s ugly head is a ham band tvi filter on the input to the splitter, to further reduce unwanted signals.

Fingers crossed, and 73 !