Thornbury and South Gloucestershire Amateur Radio Club were once again allowed to operate for Railways on the Air at the Vale of Berkeley Railway on Saturday 21st September 2019.
Railways on the Air (ROTA) usually takes place on the weekend closest to the 27th September. This date celebrates the anniversary of the first steam powered passenger railway which took place on the 27th September 1825. The first passenger train ran on a line in the North East of England from Darlington to Stockton.
A number of amateur radio stations operate from heritage railways throughout the country with the aim of contacting as many other stations as possible as well as any other radio amateurs who may be interested. TSGARC managed to contact 13 other railway sites from Helston in the south to Dufftown in the north.
We also managed to contact 2 other special event sations. One was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the KLM airline and the other was celebrating the 101st anniversary of the first Marconi wireless message from North Wales to Australia.
In total we managed 69 contacts in 10 countries including Italy and Slovenia. We were very pleased with the results of our day and would like to thank the members and trustees of the railway who put up with us for the day.
The mobile foxhunt was held on a glourious evening. The fox this year was Paul M0ZMB. There were four teams out looking for him. All the teams chose the same high point on the A38 to get the first direction.
As the my team was created from the guys who went to the Chantry we were the last of the teams to arrive at the high ground to get the first bearing. The first team were leaving when we arrived, the other two teams were still getting their bearings. We only managed to get a quick bearing before the first transmission finished.
Mark (M0RZS) was using a homebrew loop into a hand held, Roger (2E0FPV) was using a handheld and the body shielding to attenuate the signal and I was driving and drawing on the map. The car also had a mobile unit so we could monitor to ensure we did not miss a transmision from the fox.
The teams that left at the same time as us went in the opposite direction. Our second bearing was slightly off where the fox was hidden, so when we got to our third point we were expecting the bearing to be approximately due South to cross over where two previous bearings crossed. It crossed the first bearing line but further to the West.
We took our fourth bearing from outside the church at Cowhill. Even though the fox was reducing power by now the only way we could get a reduction in signal strength was to loose height. This was achieved by Roger (2E0FPV) putting his hand held on the floor and shielding the antenna. Mark (M0RZS) had to use the hill to get some attenuation but had strong signals all around.
To get to the church we had driven past the fox. So we had to turn around and found the fox in the Anchor car park.
I hope all the other teams had a good night as we did. Thanks to Mark (M0RZS) and Roger (2E0FPV) for the team work and company. Thanks to Paul (M0ZMB) for being the fox.
Paul M0ZMB ran a beginners night with Arduino. This included what is involved in the Arduino ecosystem and how to get started.
Is an open source computer hardware and software company, project, and user community that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits for building digital devices and interactive objects that can sense and control objects in the physical world.
The Arduino project started in 2003 as a program for students at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy, aiming to provide a low-cost and easy way for novices and professionals to create devices that interact with their environment using sensors and actuators.
Since it was started it has grown with other people adding in new things including controller boards and sensor/device boards called shields.
Paul’s bag of tricks.
Paul had been tinkering with the Arduino for a while and previously gave a talk on some of his projects that he had created. From this Paul was asked to create a kit of bits to introduce the basics of what could be done. He created a bag of bits including the NodeMCU controller, a small OLED display, resistors, LED’s, jumper leads, switches and breadboard. All members had to provide was a laptop to run the programming software.
To start with the members had to install the IDE to be able to programme the device. It also had to be updated to enable the controller that Paul chose. After this we were able to create our first programme called a sketch. This was to blink an LED built on to the controller board. Then finally to blink an external LED, using the bits in the bag.
Paul has created a few more projects to do with increasing complexity.
The time for the evening ran out, with everyone enjoying the evening.
John M0HFH is already think about things he might try and do with the Arduino family!