RSGB Convention 2016

RSGB ConventionThe RSGB 2016 Convention will be held at the Kents Hill Conference centre in Milton Keynes again this year on the 8th and 9th October.  It is a weekend of lectures spanning many topics of interest to all radio amateurs. The RSGB have now released a draft programme for Saturday and Sunday which I have included here.

If you are under 21yrs you get free entry too. 🙂

Peter, 2E0UAR and I, G0RVM are going.  Are you?

RSGB Convention

RSGB Convention

The RSGB Convention takes place in Milton Keynes over the weekend of 8th and 9th October.

Not to be confused with a rally, the convention has lots of lectures on topics related to Amateur radio including DXpeditions and a construction competition.

Video’s of lectures, talks and events from previous years can mainly be found on Youtube or on the RSGB (Members only section) website where there  is a Navassa Island video.

Hope to see you there,


Friedrichshafen visit

Below is ongoing detail. I will add more to this post as the trip unfolds.

Click any of the photos in this post for bigger versions.

Day 1 – 22nd June 2016

Graham and myself are on a European adventure to Friedrichshafen (link). We embarked on our journey at 11am UK time on Wednesday 22nd. An easy journey to Dover was followed by an earlier than planned crossing (at 3:15pm) to Calais via DFDS.

Waiting to board at Dover

The ferry couild have been named the Marie Celeste as we were 2 of 4 people using the aft lounge.


On investigation we realised that the majority of the travellers were truckers, filling their lounge to capacity. We arrived in Calais at 5:50pm local time and proceeded through Calais passing the Bleriot memorial on our way to the Formule 1 motel. Following check in an evening meal was had at Flunch a short walk away and a browse through the Auchen Hypermarket. The night was pucntuated with Thunder, Lightning and HEAVY Rains.

 Day 2

We awoke at 7am and were on the road by 9am proceeding to Dunkerque followed by Steenvoorde where an uneventful crossing into Belgium was undertaken. Then on to Epres, Kortrijk, Tournai, Mons, Charleroi and Namur with a stop just after Liege for Lunch and the first part of this post. On the way we drove through many storms some with the biggest hailstones ever, passing out into glorious skies and 30+ degrees Centigrade.

Continuing after lunch saw us past Aachen to Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler on the river Ahr. after settling in at a spenldid, clean, tidy and welcoming youth hostel (Below) we joined approximately 150 schoolchildren and their handlers for an evening meal.

Bad Neuenahr UHA

After dinner of three courses we took a stroll into Ahrweiler along the river. The town of Ahrweiler has a restored wall and cobbled streets as below where a pleasant evening was enjoyed.


Day 3

started as day 2 at 7am for ablutions and a continental breakfast, once again with the cast of Oliver Twist. It is to be remembered however that we were in their territory as neither of us could be considered to be youths!

Travelling saw Koblenz with stunning views at a stop of the Moselle Valley (below) then Stuttgart followed by loads of scenery.

Mosel ViaductMosel Valley

Lake Constance then came into stunning view followed by a drive down the eastern side arriving at Friedrichshafen YHA at approximately 4pm. We have found that we are 2 of 212 people staying here. Everyone of which appears to be an amateur or XYL.

Friedrichshafen YHA

Bicycles have now been rented for tomorrows short ride into the Messe for the 2nd day of the rally.

Our evening meal was taken at a restaurant over the road and co-located with a campsite on the shore of Lake Constance. Some discussion of the menu contents was discussed until an English menu was provided. A brief walk along the shoreline was completed before bed.

Day 4

Day 4 started at the usual time with the usual routine. We then took a short ride on the bikes (missing the queues and parking) to the Messe. Shown is Hall A1 and A2 in the distance.

Messe Friedrichshafen

The rally is split into four halls/hangers as follows;

  • Hall A1 is for Manuafacturers, Associations and non-flea market traders with a huge DARC stand
  • Hall A2 is for the talks and association meetings
  • Hall A3 is the first flea market hall (14 rows by 40 odd tables)
  • Hall A4 is the second fleamarket hall with test equipment auction (14 rows by 30 odd tables) Where can you get 1,000 tables?
  • Hall A5 is an added bonus of the Bodensee Maker faire.
  • Other areas included a stage for talks and presentations, QSL wall and special interest groups including an ARDF contest

Full details of the halls and traders can be obtained at the link above.

We then spent the whole day having our first look around and trying to ensure we walked every gangway. It did take us all day to view A1, A3, A4, and A5 just once. Halls A1 (where we signed in with the RSGB) and A3 were completed before lunch with A4 and A5 after lunch. Many purchases were made with some return to stalls previously dismissed.

We then returned via bicycle to the YHA to rest and recuperate after a day on the hoof.

Our evening meal was taken at a local Italian fish restaurant along the river from the YHA. We then returned to the YHA for coffee and discussion with other HAMS (the place being full of them) and then to bed.

Day 5

Day 5 started at the usual time with the usual routine.

Travel to the Messe was by car today to allow for antenna purchase. Parking was a mere 4€ (£3.20) and then into the halls for another walk through to see everything missed yesterday. Those who have been to rallies with me will know that I’m not fast, except for when in the car. More purchases were made with some bargaining as it is the last day.

Major manufacturers were there including;

  • Yaesu (who were very free with their freebies)
  • Kenwood
  • ICOM
  • Hillberling
  • Lusso
  • Hytera
  • FlexRadio Systems


There was a wide range of items to be purchased including;

  • New and second hand transceivers (at least 4 large stalls selling new Transceivers)
  • Lots of Valves and restored/un-restored equipment
  • lots of Microwave bits
  • loads and loads of components
  • Vacuum capacitors
  • some tool stalls
  • some computer stalls
  • Cable and rope
  • Antennas (at least 6 stalls in A1 plus stalls in the flea market)
  • 3D printers and supplies
  • The obligatory XYL gift stalls (only 4 I think)

Our evening meal is planned for the local Italian fish restaurant (Fischerstuble €20-25 per head) along the river.

Day 6

Day 6 started as usual at 7am. We then began travelling towards Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler however we had agreed an initial detour to avoid some of the 5 Autobahn and then agreed an additional detour through the Rhine valley with some stunning scenery.

Day 7

Day 7 will see a return to Dunkirk for the ferry crossing with arrival home late on Tuesday night.

Other Items

Some prices at the rally were more than you would normally pay. For example a PL259 was 80 pence (£1:€1.25) compared to the best rally bargin in the UK of 65 pence. But you don’t go to Friedrichshafen for the prices.

Many photos and videos are available from me in addition to those within this post.

The youth hostel nights cost on average €35 and included a breakfast with optional packed lunch. An evening meal can also be purchased where it is available. Breakfasts consisted of cereals, fruit, yogurt, meats and cheeses with breads. Accommodation was either on or off-suite depending upon the hostel and availability.

The route taken was fairly painless with good continental roads and knowledge of where the hold-ups may be.

Entry into the Rally was either €9 per day or €18 for all three days in advance.

The third day did however see some stalls leaving early including the RSGB packing up at 9am!


Raynet Talk

This Wednesday we received a talk by Mike G0JMD about the formation of Raynet groups and Mike’s experiences in and as the controller of the North Avon Raynet group.

We learnt that the idea of Raynet came about after the 1953 North Sea Floods.

Back then there were different types of group, either independent, affiliated to the RSGB or affiliated to each other. Things changed and progressed with most groups affiliating to the RSGB and then falling away as funding changed.

Mike then moved on to the North Avon group and its activities over the years. The group has only been called upon once where Avon Fire found themselves without coverage in the Severn Tunnel. However before Peter G4OST could arrive they found channel 2 on their radios allowed back to back Simplex use. The fact that the group has only been called out once is surprising considering the motorway and rail networks in the area along with chemical, gas, fuel and nuclear plants.

The main activities of the group are around support local sporting events including the Sodbury Slog, and Bath Half Marathon. Within the group a standing competition is held for the operator with the most emergency services equipment and personnel.


The talk finished with a round of questions all suitably answered by Mike.

In all 18 people attended the evening including 1 visitor.


RSGB national SSB field day

The RSGB SSB field-day takes place over the weekend of 5 & 6th of September.  I agreed earlier in the year to organise something but now realise I am not available that weekend so organising a field event is difficult.

Would someone else like to organise this event?

To take part in the contest our station would need to comply with these RSGB guidelines.


Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park

WOW sums up my day at Bletchley Park (BP).  What a place.  I can highly recommend a visit to anyone who has not been.  Well, actually even if you have been!

We arrived just as the doors opened and stayed until they shut and still we felt we could have spent another day or two looking around at the various exhibitions.  Bletchley Park actually consists of several museums.  One is dedicated to WWII codebreaking, Enigma, the Bombe etc another to the National Radio Centre and there is also the National Museum of Computing.

The wartime museum tells the story of Bletchley Park exceedingly well.  Not only where the exhibits excellent but the staff were very knowledgable, keen to talk and to show exhibits working.  How cool was it to see a genuine working three-rotor Enigma 🙂  One of the major creations of BP was the Bombe and to see it working is amazing.  Just its sound and smell are truly memorable.

The National Radio Centre was good and it told the story of radio well. But with the station, GB3RS, I was very disappointed.  In fact I’d say it was the most disappointing element of my day, probably as I had high expectations.  It did not have that welcoming feel and in looking through the door-way I didn’t see much that I felt would draw non radio amateurs in to discover more.  The station was capable of V/UHF and HF operations, however, the V/UHF was unattended and did not appear to be doing much apart from tracking a cube-sat and the HF radio was being used by the RSGB representative initially for Morse then SSB phone.  An area of technology that seemed almost totally unrepresented was data.  This seemed strange as data is the dominant form of communications and is core to the IT and software world that we live in nowadays.  Data modes are great for attracting the inquisitive; its easy to erect some big displays showing waterfall diagrams and real-time contact mapping (e.g. psk reporter, wsprnet), add some computers running ROS, JT65 etc and I’ll bet GB3RS looks more interesting to visitors.

Colossus Bletchley Park

Colossus Bletchley Park

The National Museum of Computing is full of that stuff we all threw out years ago believing it was nothing more than junk. It has the earliest computers, Colossus, through to the latest and everything in between!  I was fascinated, as they seemed to have each pivotal piece of equipment ever made!  It goes without saying that Colossus was amazing, but imagine my surprise to find an early magnetic disk which must have been 4 foot in diameter!  Everything that I’ve grown-up with was there: the Research Machines RM-380z, Sharp MZ80K, Sinclair ZX81, PDP-11, MicroVAX, Commodore PET, VIC-20 and 64.  Dragon 32, IBM PCBBC Micro (In fact they had a whole room of working BBC micros!).  The list goes on and on.  I even found a genuine and working Space Invaders arcade machine.  Now that is COOL!

The afternoon weather was foul.  Cold, wet and windy which made moving between the huts that house the exhibitions unpleasant.  It would be so much nicer in the summer when the weather is more conducive to loitering outside looking at the lovely old house or duck pond.

OK, so you get the message.  I had a great time 🙂

So, thanks to my co-conspiriters for a great day: Paul, JohnL, Andy and David.

Till next time,

Bletchley Park Visit

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park is famous for its wartime codebreaking activities but it also hosts the National Radio Centre.  As visiting radio amateurs we are welcome to spend some time operating this station if its open and if we bring a copy of our Amateur Radio License.  The station has the callsign GB2RS.

The TSGARC will be visiting Bletchley Park on Sunday 22nd February.  Bletchley is near Milton Keynes and about 2.5hrs drive away. The centre is open from 09:30 to 16:00hrs.  People who have been say its well worth a visit and to allow plenty of time to see all its attractions.  The plan, therefore, is to depart at 07:00hrs in the morning as this should get us there for opening time.

The entrance fee is £16.75 for adults unless you are an RSGB member and then its free!  Yes free 🙂 But RSGB members MUST bring with them an admission voucher which they can obtain from the RSGB website.  Login with your account details and then look for a link called ‘Visit Bletchley Park’.  That will take you to a page that allows you to get an admission voucher.  Note that the voucher is only valid for the selected day and named individual.

When the trip was discussed last Wednesday at the club, six people (who know who they are) confirmed that they would be attending.  If you wish to go and have not yet let Andrew know, please do so ASAP so that he can arrange transport.