Thursday, February 10, 2022
Saturday, December 25, 2021
6BTV now under test.
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Special Event Station - GS2ZE - GB2ZE - GB1002ZE - Ardrossan - 11-12 Dec 2021
G. Marconi managed to get a single letter 'S' across the Atlantic on 5th December 1902 from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada to Poldhu (Cornwall) in England using a high power longwave spark gap transmission. For the next 19 years longwave transmitter and receiver stations were developed and used to send messages across long distances using enormous antenna systems and high power spark transmitters. It was believed that signals could not be sent long distances using shortwave frequencies.
In December 1921 Paul Godley 2ZE received the first complete CW message sent by an amateur radio station across the Atlantic ocean on shortwave frequencies. This proved that long distances could be covered on shorter wavelengths without huge, high powered commercial radio transmitters.
1921 Transatlantic Test shortwave receiver station at Ardrossan.
A Special Event Station station was set up within one wavelength of the original location at Ardrossan. This was set up and operated by members of the Kilmarnock and Loudoun Amateur Radio Club from 12:00 GMT on Saturday 11th December to 12:00 GMT on Sunday 12th December 2021.
Monday, October 4, 2021
Network assisted communications for amateur radio operators. Making good use of avaiilable tech.
Amateur radio repeaters and networks.
As licensed amateur radio operators we have access to stand-alone repeaters as well as repeaters and gateways linked by various forms of network infrastructure. Amateur repeaters and gateways are owned and operated by amateur radio operators using licensed amateur radio bands/frequencies.
There are thousands of repeaters and gateways into networks exclusively for licensed amateur use around the World. There are amateur radio transponders / repeaters on satellites and even the International Space Station has a VHF/UHF cross band repeater for licensed amateur operators.
Some repeaters and gateways have backup power so they can remain operational during times of power failure, but the vast majority do not. The range and coverage provided by amateur repeaters and gateways is limited and there are large areas where there are no amateur communication services available.
Extending coverage using existing 'non-amateur' infrastructure.
The largest network of radio gateways in the World with the greatest coverage available to the public has to be the global mobile telephone/data network. It is comprised of millions of 'cell tower' sites around the Globe with over 1.5 million in the UK alone. Each cell tower site is effectively a multi user radio gateway installation linked into Global network communications infrastructure. Some people seem to think using the cellular phone/data networks is 'not radio communications' but they are indeed mistaken. The cellular networks operate using radio frequency energy propagated through free space, which by definition is most certainly radio communication. It is correct to say this is not technically Amateur Radio as it does not use licensed amateur radio fequencies/bands but it can be put to good use by amateur radio operators to communicate to/from locations where there is no access to licensed amateur radio repeaters or gateways. The vast majority of cell sites are operated as primary communication systems with full backup power and multiple network connections providing reliable global communications most of the time.
Of course in times of major disasters or when the network infrastructure fails for some reason an independant self powered amateur radio station will often become the primary means of emergency communication, as long as the operator has prepared for such an event and has backup power available.
Make good use of the technologies available.
It makes perfect sense for amateur radio operators to make use of this vast network of supported infrastructure to communicate when they are in areas that are beyond amateur repeater / gateway coverage or have restrictions that prevent them erecting antennas and using amateur radio equipment.
This is where mobile phones, network radios, tablets, laptops and other portable devices connected to the Global communications networks via cell tower sites and WiFi access points or hotspots can be used with a wide range of software / mobile device apps allowing the user to stay connected to the amateur radio networks gateways and repeaters around the World.
Using software / applications such as Echolink, Peanut, IRN(teamspeak), DroidSTAR(Android & iOS), DudeSTAR(PC), DVswitch, and many others the licensed amateur operator can easily be connected to amateur networks and communicate with other licensed hams using a wide range of equipment almost anywhere on Earth. The coverage is expanding rapidly with the deployment of satellite internet
Communicating with multiple modes across multiple networks.
One of the most innovative networks that provides inter-linked communications between licensed amateurs using a wide range of modes, networks and equiuipment is the FreeSTAR network. This brings together a diverse range of technologies such as DMR, Dstar, YSF, WiresX, NXDN, P25, IAX, M17 and network linked analogue repeaters and gateways.
Have a look at freestar.network for more informations and details of how to connect with whatever equipment You have handy.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
MM7WAB/P working other licensed amateur radio stations from the commemorative cairn enclosure at the Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery disaster site on Sunday 13 June 2021. Many thanks to the stations that worked me on 2m FM simplex and via the FreeSTAR network during this activation.
(Location NS6097 1250). KNOCKSHINNOCH CASTLE CollieryLocation: New Cumnock
Types of Coal: House and Steam
Production Commenced: 1944
Year Closed: 1968
Year Abandoned: 1969
Workforce: Average 578 : Peak 755
Peak Year: 1956
Shaft/Mine Details: 2 shafts, 187m and 128m deep
Details in 1948: Output 900 tons per day, 264,600 tons per annum, stoop and room working. 580 employees. 3 screens for dry coal. Baum (Simon Carves) type washer. No baths, but canteen available. Steam powered cranes and machinery. Electricity from public supply.
The accident occurred about 7.30 p.m., whilst the afternoon shift was at work, on Thursday, 7th September, 1950, when a large volume of liquid peat suddenly broke through from the surface into the No. 5 Heading Section of the Main Coal Seam. The inrush started at the point where the No. 5 Heading, which was rising at a gradient of 1 in 2, had effected a holing at the outcrop of the seam beneath superficial deposits and had made contact with the base of a large natural basin containing glacial material and peat. The liquid matter, rushed down the steeply inclined heading and quickly filled up a large number of existing and abandoned mine tunnel drifts and roadways as well as several working places. This inundation of liquified peat /moss cut off the two means of egress to the surface from the underground workings of the Knockshinnoch Castle colliery.
There were 135 miners working underground at the time. Six men working near the main shaft bottom quickly escaped to the surface by way of the downcast shaft before it become blocked, while 116, with all means of escape cut off, found their way to a part of the mine then unaffected by the inrush, leaving 13 persons missing. The 116 men trapped below ground were rescued after an incredible rescue effort by miners and rescue teams from as far afield as Edinburgh and Liverpool lasting more than two days.
The 13 men who sadly lost their lives in the disaster were;
1. John Dalziel, 50 Loader Attendant
2. James D. Houston, 46 Coal miner
3. Thomas Houston, 40 Coal miner
4. William Howat, 61 Switch Attendant
5. William Lee, 48 Coal miner
6. James Love, 48 Coal Miner
7. William McFarlane, 36 Coal Miner
8. John McLatchie, 48 Shotfirer
9. John Murray or Taylor, 33 Coal Miner
10. Samuel Rowan, 25 Coal Miner
11. John Smith, 55 Coal Miner
12. Daniel Strachan, 38 Fireman
13. John White, 26 Coal Miner
Scottish Mining site page: (enquiry, reports and extensive information including links to newspaper reports of the accident, rescue and recovery operations.) http://www.scottishmining.co.uk/370.html
The Rescue: Timeline and information on the rescue of 116 trapped miners: https://newcumnockhistory.com/mining-minerals/coal-mining/knockshinnoch-disaster-1950/the-rescue/
Video footage of a news report on the disaster from British Pathe news: https://youtu.be/SnYOKy6_7Uc
Pathe News clips: https://youtu.be/6DHjZcTXO1A
Canmore site information link: http://canmore.org.uk/site/80656
The disaster was dramatised in 1952 with the release of the British film, 'The Brave Don't Cry', starring John Gregson, Alex Keir and Fulton Mackay.
Saturday, February 6, 2021
Many amateur radio operators are heard calling "Break" incorrectly.
Break should only be used to signify there is high priority / emergency traffic. For example, a QSO is in progress between two or more stations and another station needs to report an accident, incident or other emergency situation that requires assistance.
When the station currently talking stops transmitting the station with the accident report or emergency traffic should key his transmitter and call, “Break" The other stations should immediately acknowledge the breaking station and allow them to pass the urgent traffic.
The term break in amateur radio communications is commonly misused by new operators and old-timers alike. These operators often incorrecly use a "Break" call as a signal that they wish to join the ongoing conversation, use the frequency to make a contact or to simply make their presence known. For these types of interruptions the operator should simply wait for a gap between transmissions and give their call sign once. When the operators using the frequency are at a suitable breaking point in their conversation, they will acknowledge the new station and call them in.
Most amateur radio operating guides instruct to only use a "Break" call in an emergency or life threatening situation. Many amateur radio clubs, groups and repeater systems have operating procedure guidelines that amateur station operators should follow. These are guidelines and not rules or laws, they are proper etiquette. Operators who do not follow proper etiquette are often frowned upon or ignored by other stations.
To avoid any confusion calling "Break" should only be used in urgent or emergency situations.
If You wish to 'break in' to an ongoing conversation, and there is No accident or emergency assistance required, You should simply give Your callsign once and wait patiently for one of the stations to bring You in.
If the frequency, channel or repeater You wish to call on has no current traffic a "Break" call should only be used in an emergency situation to alert other stations that there is an accident, incident, emergency or life threatening situation requiring urgent assistance.
When calling "Break" in an emergency You should be prepared to give information relating to the type of emergency, the location of the incident and state what assistance is required. This information will enable stations receiving Your emergency Break call to pass the required information to emergency services or other organisations that can provide the required assistance.
73 de MM7WAB
Friday, February 5, 2021
It is amazing how many experienced amateur radio operators seem to have forgotten the basics.
Simple things like getting callsigns in the right order during a QSO or when calling a specific station.
You only have to listen for a short time on the amateur radio bands to hear stations giving their callsign followed by the callsign of the station they are calling or handing it back over to during a QSO. This is of course the wrong way round. When in QSO or calling a specific station You should first give the callsign of the station You are calling followed by Your callsign. It is easy to do this correctly and there is no reason to get it wrong.
Giving impossible signal reports is also becoming more common.
Anyone who has listened to the amateur bands during a contest will be well aware of false 'You are 5/9' signal reports. I have heard many poor excuses for why this is done during a contest and it seems to be generally accepted that fake signal reporting is fine during a contest.
Whatever excuse is used during a contest there is NO good reason to give false signal reports the rest of the time. If You were Really being received as a proper 5/9 (Readability 5 = Perfectly clear and understandable) there would be no reason to be asked a second time for Your callsign or to repeat information.
Incorrectly using QRZ instead of CQ when calling for a contact.
Calling on amateur bands for a contact by giving Your callsign followed by QRZ instead of CQ is a very common mistake. QRZ and CQ have specific meanings! QRZ should NOT be used instead of CQ. QRZ should only be used AFTER a station has called You. QRZ means "who is calling me"
These mistakes (and many others) are heard every day from supposedly experienced operators who should know the correct procedures and protocols. There is no sensible reason to get the basics wrong.
I have often thought that there should be some sort of refresher course every few years to remind operators of the correct operating procedures and protocols as this would help them to correct their bad habits and do it right.
Look up the Amateur Radio Q codes and use them properly, it is easy to use them correctly & there is no reason to get it wrong.
If it is worth doing at all it is worth doing it Right.
73 de MM7WAB