Recent modifications to the Galway VHF Group's Yahoo Site now include a Calendar of Events which automatically notifies the membership of a forthcoming activity a fortnight before the event is going to occur. Intial tests show that this facility works well. The calendar will be updated on a regular basis and may be perused by accessing the site.
A very successful operation of the EI3CLAN operation was carried out over the week Sunday the 11th of February to Sunday the 17th of February inclusive. The operation kicked off well with Steve EI5DD and Enda EI3IS operating on phone mainly on 80 and 40 metres. Commencing Monday, Arek EI9GMB operated his PSK station for the full week as and when band conditions permitted on 40 up to 28MHz. Andrew EI3FEB also contributed to the PSK operation during the week. Enda, EI3IS alternated between phone and PSK operation during the week. Whilst band conditions were not perfect on each day of operation, the time frame ensured operation during both good and bad conditions yielding many good contacts. Most of the time there were pile-ups on each band and then it was good to relax more on 80 metres working semi local stations and spending a little more time discussing the operation. QRZ.Com had all the information about the activity making it very easy to refer individual stations to the site rather than enter into long discussions. The outcome of the operation seemed to reveal that a huge number of stations worked, both inside and outside of Europe, had at some stage traveled to Ireland for holidays or work and more interesting many of these had been to Galway.
Members of the Galway VHF Group will be operating under the Callsign EI 13 CLAN from Sunday the 10th of February to Sunday the 17th of February inclusive. Operation will be on the HF Bands kicking off on 40 metres on Sunday the 10th of February. A brief sojourn to 80 metres will occur for those wishing to call on 3.690Mhz after the 80 metre news and then back onto 40 metres for the afternoon. Operation will continue on 80 metres later in the evening. During the week the operation will be on all HF bands using Phone and Data Modes depending on band conditions. The operating schedule abd information will be placed on the EI4ALE QRZ.COM site.
This operation coincides with the unique event "The Gathering" in which Families and Clans will be coming together in numerous events, both on the island and around the globe, to celebrate thir history and heritage. Irish Amateur Radio Stations, North and South, will be participating and all operators throughout the world, whether thay have some Irish Blood or not, are invited to join in the craic and celebrations. A special award is available to for operating the EI 13 CLAN call and the details maybe found on the EI 13 CLAN QRZ.COM page.
A Short Time Award from 15 January to 18 February 2013,On the occasion of the Alpine Ski World Championships 2013 being hosted in Schladming, the Austrian Radio League (OEVSV) offers an official award to all radio amateurs and SWL’s worldwide. From 15 January 2013 to 18 February 2013 special event stations will be QRV with the prefix OE2013. Three classes of this award will be issued (Gold, Platinum and Diamond). Each class requires a certain number of special event stations and OE stations logged. Each special event station or OE station will only count once on each band. All bands and the below listed modes may be used; the only exception Packet radio and Echo Link contacts do not count. The award may be worked in the following modes: SSB, CW, DIGITAL, MIXED and QRP (max. 10 Watts). More information from http://wmdiplom2013.oevsv.at/opencms/diplom.html
Steve, EI5DD, was contacted by Sarah Browne who is currently exhibiting a project in the Galway Arts Centre in Dominic Street. Sarah's project is a Crystal Radio set driven by a large LF Frame Loop antenna. Initial problems were encountered where no signal was received by the set which had been working when exhibited in other locations. The problem was that there are no medium wave stations in the vicinity of Galway City and if anything was to be received it wouldn't be possible until darkness had fallen and D-layer absorption became minimal. The lack of medium wave signals was overcome by a small project that had been constructed to aid the repair and restoration of vintage radio equipment - a small 10mW medium wave transmitter generally sufficient to facilitate the alignment of the restoration projects. The transmitter was modulated by a WiFi internet radio where the audio from Galway Bay FM was transmitted to the project. Correct orientation of the loop and antenna from the 10mW TX provided an excellent signal with a reasonable level of audio. A transistor radio was used to check the signal which was receivable around the building but was not copyable outside the premises. Take a look at the project which will be on display in the Galway Arts Centre from the 6th of December unitl the latter end of January.
Over the last few months members of the Galway VHF Group have acquired various types of military radio equipment for use on both the HF and VHF Bands. The PRC 351 works on 50 and 70 MHz in FM and with a 25 KHz spacing. This radio has been put through its paces and seems to have a very good sensitivity and excellent audio quality. The PRC 320 is a HF rig covering 1.8 - 30MHz continuous with an output power of 3 or 30 watts of SSB or AM. The sensitivity of this set is excellent and initial tests have been impressive using only the whip antenna supplied. This set can, of course, be plugged into a much larger antenna system. There are a number of different Racal wire antennas available which will be used out in the field. We do have a 30ft Racal mast to support these wire antennas. Arthur, EI7GMB, and Ger, EI6DP, own Barrett sets which are a radio favoured by the Australian military. It is planned to hold a "Green Day" portable operation when the weather improves and outdoor operation is more favourable. All of these sets operate from their own power sources so they are perfect for hilltopping. Not light to carry but compact and have more than enough faclities to be of use.
Commencing with the first meeting in the New Year, a series of lectures and demonstrations of the EZNEC Antenna Modelling software will take place. The lectures will commence at entry level and gradually become more complex as the understanding of the program's intricacies are realised. Once the very basic functions of the control panel have become familiar it will be possible to work our way through a series of differing models and derive full advantage of the program. The basic modelling program is available free of charge and is more than enough to set us on a course of learning. The program may, however, be upgraded at a later stage at the individual's leisure.
The Rasberry Pi has made it into Practical Wireless (September Edition). There is a description of the Pi in the Data Modes section describing it and its potential. The author would appear only to have acquired his board recently. This is the first time the Pi has been mentioned in a radio publication. The only problem is that there are very little, if any, documented projects of a radio orientation available at present. There are three members of our group currently experimenting with the Rasberry Pi at present and it would be really interesting to see some of the work, to date, documented. If anyone is interested in compiling an article for publication documenting their progress so far do contact Steve, EI5DD, who has a some information regarding the formatting of same for publication.
The Galway VHF Group are providing courses for the Amateur Radio Examiation. These may be provided on a one to one basis or as a group class, whichever is preferable. To back this course there is a CD Rom containing all the study material required to complete the course without the necessity for the purchase of additional books. The RSGB provides a book entitled "Advance! the Full Licence Manual" which is a good resource for study material. For those who are unable meet for the Class in Galway, we can provide the CD ROM and offer the facility to seek assistance via e-mail where difficulties may be encountered whilst studying. The Radio Amateurs Examination is held twice a year in centres around the Country.
The Galway VHF Group will be activating the Club Callsign EI4ALE during the Galway Volvo Ocean Race Festivities from Thursday the 5th of July to Sunday the 8th of July. The Operation will cover all HF bands up to 6 metres. HF band conditions are predicited to improve towards the latter end of the week with occasional openings on 6 metres. As always, all VHf Group members are welcomed to join in on the activity.
The official launch of the Craggy Island DXpedition Group, using our new callsign EI0TED, took place on Sunday the 27th of May meeting at the Parochial House in the Burren, Co. Clare. Two stations were put on air during the period between 11am and 3pm. The LF station was operated on 80 metres and took calls on 3680KHz following the IRTS News. The station then QSYed to 40 metres where the band was lively and a good pile up was generated. Many fans of the series, Fr Ted, called in and supported the operation. All of our details were on QRZ.com where a picture of the location and the details of the QTH were displayed.
The second station operated on 20 metres where a pile up was generated very quickly. It was interesting to note that the Fr Ted series was popular in Poland and resulted in many stations calling in. Arthur was able to QSO in his native tongue with his fellow countrymen. The 20 metre band was open mainly to Europe at this time of day.
At 3pm, the stations were dismantled and packed away in record time. A sumptous feast followed in the Parochial House with copious amounts of tea and scones. A fitting way to finish a really enjoyable activity. Special thanks to John EI1EM, Tom EI2GP, Andrew EI3FEB, Steve EI5DD and Arthur, EI7GMB for contributing to the success of this event.
At the last meeting of the Galway VHF Group there was a discussion and display of progress with the current crop of home construction projects. Arthur, EI7GMB, has almost completed his BITX20 QRP tranceiver project. A short wire antenna was connected and the receiver proved to be lively with very little background noise. There are still a few components to be added before the transmit side is ready for testing.
Steve, EI5DD, is well into the construction of the G6LBQ 9 band QRP tranceiver. The main board is in the advanced stages of completion but awaiting a few more components. The bandpass filter is almost there but requires a few RF switching diodes before completion. A complete DDS VFO has been purchased to finish of the project. Hopefully there will be something to show in the next 2 months. A Two tone test oscillator was constructed with a view to setting up the QRP tranceivers to ensure linearity of the outputted SSB signal.
Other goodies on display included the recently acquired Modulation meter to ensure that the AM modulation depth and FM deviation was within specification following the recent PMR rig conversions. Steve also passed around a handheld oscilloscope which had a multitude of uses in the shack.
Gerry, EI8DRB, is in the process of designing some interesting Radio orientated projects around the "Rasberry Pi" micro-computer. Watch our projects page for the developments as they become available.
The next meeting of the Galway VHF Group will host a lecture on the theory of Software Defined Radio with a display and demonstration of Softrock kits in action. A number of members in the Galway VHF Group have completed their Softrock projects. The Softrock kits were produced a couple of years ago and were way ahead of their time. For demonstation purposes, there will be a 40/80 metre tranceiver and the Softrock Ensemble receiver, covering from 1.8 - 30MHz on display. These will be placed on test gear to demonstrate their potential. Whilst Software defined radio has not realised its full potential as yet it is certain that there will be a major announcement in the next year or two. To date FlexRadio is one of the few commercially available Amateur Tranceivers, but there is much room for improvement before these become an alternative to that which is presently available. Whilst Software Defined Radio has not realised its full potential, there will be a major announcement in the next year or two making it a major player in the communication field.
At the last meeting of the Galway VHF Group, Gerry EI8DRB, gave a comprehensive talk and demonstration of the EZNEC antenna modelling program. Basic antennas were modelled, such as the dipole and off-centre fed antenna and the results were impressive. Slight adjustments to the parameters of the antenna could make quite an overall change of antenna's characteristics. A beam antenna was modelled from scratch and plots of the predicted radiation pattern showed the effect of adding a Reflector and Director either side of the dipole element.
The G4HOL loop antenna was put under the microscope next, and an 80 metre and a 40 metre version were modelled. It was interesting to see the performance of this antenna at differing heights above ground and also on the various harmonic frequencies. As the 80 metre loop was used at a higher frequency it did appear to become bi-directional as in an un-terminated rhombic antenna. This concurred with some findings made by G4HOL. He stated that he was getting very good paths to VK and ZL on the higher frequencies. It was actualy pure "matter of fact" that the feed point and the opposite corner were probably perfectly orientated to favour this path.
The 40 metre version used at a height of 20ft above ground performed much like an omni-directional NVIS antenna giving superb signal strengths on local and UK contacts. Being a loop antenna, the noise levels were considerably lower then those of a vertical or a horizontal dipole.
We are delighted to announce that the Craggy Island Dxpedition Group has received its new callsign EI0TED which of course will be EJ0TED when operating from offshore Islands. Special thanks to Mr Derek O'Reilly in ComReg for putting our application through and keeping in touch about the progress.
It just remains for us to put together or plan of action for the forthcoming year and hopefully the weather will be with us. Much of the equipment has now been procured for the Island operations but the group is still waiting on a lightweight beam and a small Honda generator to complete the list. These operations will contribute towards the WAI award scheme and also the WAI Islands award. The IOTA contest is certainly on the cards this year.
Our plans will be announced through the IRTS News Services and also on the Galway VHF Group news blog at www.galwayvhfgroup.com and we look forward to working as many as possible during our activations.
Following an antenna hoisting session on Sunday the 29th of January, Tom, EI2GP is now QRV on HF. A 150ft long wire was raised approximately 30ft above ground. Tom hopes to hoist a Windom antenna in a few months time but this wire should give him an opportunity to activate HF bands in the mean time. At the station end, the Nevada tuner matched the antenna to his Yaesu FT950. Initial settings for the bands were determined using the antenna analyser to save having to spend too long finding the resonance points using the rig. Tom is in the unique position of operating below road level but initial tests on 80 metres yeilded strong signals to Gerry in Oranmore on both 80 and 160 metres.
Steve, EI5DD, is offering tuition for those wishing to study for the Amateur Radio Licence examination. If there are enough takers a formal class will be set up. If there are insufficient numbers, it will be possible to arrange tuition on a one to one basis. The course material is not difficult but time does have to be spent in order to sit the multiple choice exam. There is also a comprehensive CD based study course available to assist with the tuition and revision.
Futher enquiries about the course should be made to Steve on 087 2451218 or email@example.com
Some members of the Galway VHF Group have joined together to form the "Craggy Island Dxpedition Group". This group will be active over the next year with operation from offshore islands and places of interest. Over the last year, equipment has been gathered to make the expeditions possible. Certain members of the group will have time on their hands from now onwards making it possible to indulge in more activity. The Group will be active mainly on HF but there will be occasional excursions to VHF and upwards should the need arise. If there is a need for two callsigns to be operated then the Galway VHF Group Callsign will be utilised as well. At present there is an application for an appropriate callsign with ComReg and once obtained the activity will begin.
Following an antenna hoisting session, on Saturday the 21st of January, Gerry EI8DRB is now back on HF. The antenna is an off centre fed covering 80 - 6 metres up at approximately 50 ft above ground. Apart from intitial problems with the feeder the antenna showed a good match on all bands. Initial tests showed a wealth of lively activity on all bands. The antenna and balun were homebrewed and built to withstand the adverse weather conditions of Galway so it should remain in the air for sometime. We look forward to hearing more of Gerry on the air in the future months.
At recent meetings of the Galway VHF Group, the use of items of test equipment have been demonstrated in the context of PMR rig conversion. At the last meeting the Signal Generator and Sinadder were put through their paces and two ex PMR rigs were tuned to VHF Amateur bands. The Sinadder proved itself an invaluable tool when lining up the FM receivers. It was possible to peak the receivers to maximum sensitivity in minutes. Surprisinlgly good results were obtained by this method. The transmit side was then aligned and peaked into a dummy load and power meter. The sets have been in use for the last week or so and have shown improved performance during mobile operation. There are still a few requests to align individual PMR rigs so the next meeting will be a continuation of the last session.
Next month the build of the various stages of an AM/FM broadcast receiver will be studied in detail, measuring the parameters of each stage, before hooking them all together and aligning the set using standard test equipment. The use of an Oscilloscope and Sweep Generator will also be demonstrated as part of this project showing the selectivity curves of the IF stages in the AM and FM sections of the Receiver.
In the following few weeks some of the results of homebrewed projects will be demonstrated and put through their paces.
At a future meeting, the icing on the cake, a demonstration of the Signal Hound S44B and its matching Tracking Generator the TG44 which basically covers everything from DC to 4 GHz.
Check out our "Activities" page over the next few weeks for some pictures and more details will be found.