HF Evening close to Magor wetlands

I took a short drive down to the Magor wetlands last night, which is a couple of minutes drive from my house. There is a rough track with a number of large reens that run along side and branch off. The water table is very close to the surface, 12 inches from road to the surface in the reens at most. My location is shown in the map below, and I was only 8ft ASL according to the ICOM 7100 gps.


I set up a HF antenna, which was roughly 128 ft inverted L, running north/south. A fibreglass pole velcroed to the Landrover held up one end. I also taped my NR7900 (2m/70cm) antenna to this pole half way up, about 1m above the car body work. The other end of the L was held up by another fibreglass flag pole, some 90ft away. I used my small trailer to hold the other mast. The horizontal was about 20ft above the deck.


The SGC 237 did the business again and tuned it from 160M all the way up to 20m. I didn’t try any other bands at the time. The following stations were contacted in the net on 3.720.500, gw0fgo (59+), mw0rpb (59), mw0yac (58), mw6fnv (59+), gw7rqm (59+), gw0ozb (59+). We QSY’d around a few times due to some QRM. I missed the distant station that was on the net at the start as I was still getting set up, but it was great to hear GW0OZB (Andrew) for the first time.

Some ground wave / sky wave phasing was heard, which was a first for me. After the net ended around 8:40pm, some of us hopped down to 160m and worked on 1.938.000.

I tried adding a ground wire from the SGC into the water/reen but was unable to tune top band when I did this. I would probably need to adjust length of antenna. All other bands would tune with the additional ground plane.

After the ‘net’ ended on top band, I went back to a few stations calling CQ on 40m. F6ECS with my report being 5/7, and YU5VV giving me a 5/9.

I felt the spot would be hard to beat for some great HF’ing.  What with the water table, 400m to closest trees and lack of buildings around makes it a great spot. I was suffering from S8/9 noise on 80m but this could have just been conditions/static QRN. I will be heading down there with the analyser, setting up and doing some tests with a ground wire into the reen and without to see what impact it is having.

I also had a short QSO with Steve (M6STL) on 145.375 around 9:30pm who was coming in 5/4 from his handy at 5w indoors. Good stuff Steve and hope the home brew dipole/slimjim/jpole antenna construction goes well ! A couple of short QSO’s with MW6FNV on 145.375 as well, his station a 5/9.

I pulled the plugs around 10:30pm and headed home. I put a call into GB3RT as I was driving back up the track and I talked to MW0GUK (George) who wanted a radio check. He was sounding fine, although he dropped off the repeater around 10:40pm, perhaps a battery issue.


Trip to Wentwood

Dale and I took a drive up to Wentwood forest north of Magor, Newport. A small detour was made via the chip shop on the way. We tried to get to the SOTA point in Wentwood, but it is gated so only accessible by foot. One day we will have to lug some gear over there and try and get an activation.

The spot (see pic below) we chose was about 600 yards or so from a commercial mast which proved to be a nightmare. Much QRM was to be had on 2m, and made it impossible to use. The CADARS 2m net initially gathered on 145.375 at around 7:30pm but the QRM made it impossible. One minute I would hear Chris (2w0ogy) 5/7 then the QRM would wipe him totally with S9 noise.

wentwood_actualSo, we all moved over to GB3RT, the 70cms Fusion/FM repeater in Cwmbran, maintained and operated by CADARS. The usual banter was exchanged and the net ended somewhere around 8:30pm. The following stations partook in the net : 2w0ogy, gw0fgo, mw0yac, mw6mun, mw6fnv, mw6lga (myself).  We were running a portable callsign as we had placed the radial-less mobile NR7900 antenna from Diamond, on top of a 8m fibreglass pole and velcro’ed it to the landrover ladder. A barrel so239 connector was used in the antenna and a 6m patch cable was used to connect to the normal so239 fitting on the truck. Essentially an antenna on an extension cable. It seemed to work quite well, and quite a few 70cm and 2m repeaters were heard. A recording from a Sunderland repeater is below heard on 433.175.000 at 6:30pm. Such a repeater might be GB3TS but obviously these two chaps with Geordie accents could be on any other repeater from the RB07 band. If it was the Sunderland GB3TS repeater, then wow, that was some serious skip/lift !!!! Unfortunately we didn’t the signal long enough to get a ident. I’ll have to try and analyse the audio to see if a tone is stored in it, but I am not sure.

Analysis is in 🙂 indeed it is the Sunderland repeater GB3TS. Great stuff !

After the CADARS net ended, we put up an 8m length of cable and ran some HF. A couple of contacts were made into Italy and we even interrupted GW4BLE (Steve) from his DX chasing (sorry Steve).  A massive pile up was heard with people trying to get a Japan station but we were unsuccessful and he faded away in the space of 30 or so minutes.

We pulled all the plugs around 10:30pm and headed home.


Sunday afternoon on Machen Mountain

Took a trip up to Machen mountain at approximately 1200ft ASL, and set up a HF vertical to try and make a couple of contacts. Met up with MW6FNV (Dale) and MW6TYD (Rich).

My setup consisted of a vertical (slightly sloping), 6m piece of 1.5mm conduite cable (multi-strand) connected to the 3/8 whip point on the truck, held up by an 8m fibreglass pole, cable tied to the roof rack ladder. This was fed by the SGC-237 coupler which was grounded out to the body of the car, no other radials or ground spikes were used. Rig was my trusty Icom 7100. The sgc would tune 160m right through to 4m no problem, 1:1 everywhere, amazing, quite amazing.  Worked Italy, USA and the UK.

TYD’s setup consisted of his new ATAS-120A and new Yaesu FT-857D. His first solo HF contact was made, and it was in the USA, just brilliant Rich. That setup really does work well !

Much fun (and food) was had, lots of chin wagging, and a couple of contacts made in the Autumn sunshine, great stuff indeed. Now to plan the next venture, next weekend anyone? 🙂



GPS Working

Well, managed to get the BR-355S4 GPS module working on the Icom 7100 🙂

Used an LM2596S DC-DC Buck converter to bring the car volts 12-14.5 or so, down to 5.1v for the GPS. The gps module pulls 60ma max, so this device is well suited to regulate the volts.

Only wired the TX from the gps into the icom centre pin on the 2.5mm as didn’t really see the need in getting data from the radio to the GPS. Gounded the 2.5mm to the -ve output on the DC-DC converter.

Turned the ICOM 7100 on, and setup the GPS to external, and the icon showed up. 11 Sats received, good stuff indeed !!!

gps working dv-a

New Site

The minecraft server is gone (for now) as it wasn’t being used. When/if we decide to get back on it, and squib fancies running it again, we’ll get it up and running and send out some emails. In the mean time, you’ll have to put up with my ramblings on here.

New site being setup, using the old favourite, WordPress.

HAM and Bushcraft stuff to feature.

Enjoy 🙂