We meet on Thursday evenings at 19.30 hrs local where members can share their knowledge and experience over tea or coffee if they wish. Thursday meetings are held in an informal social environment but much useful radio related information is exchanged. The first Thursday of each month is a specific event night where there may be a talk, a demonstration, some guided practical construction, or a presentation of a radio related subject.
On Monday evenings from 19.00 hrs local we hold a VHF net that Amateurs in the local area are welcome to join. We can usually be found on 144.725 MHz or thereabouts.
We, at CARS, do not currently run training courses but we will support members in their study and we can provide practical, hands on experience which online courses cannot do. Please see our Training page for further details.
CARS Review of 2023
The year 2023 saw the start of some new initiatives at Christchurch Amateur Radio Society. The clubhouse has seen some major tidying and rearrangement. A shelf and light has been fitted above the main work bench and meters and test gear are now more easily accessible. The ‘office’ has been cleared so that it can now be used if a private space is required and a computer and printer are now available in the office. Recorded below are the other major events that took place and a short resume of each one.
On Thursday January 5th CARS held another successful construction evening. Once again Chris Wood, G4CWS, led members and one very new guest who is yet study for his Foundation, through the principles of the ubiquitous NE555 timer. The practical build was a simple oscillator that could be used for code practice, continuity testing or any other audio signalling application. All present, including out guest, completed the project successfully and enjoyed listening to beat frequencies between their completed oscillators. Further 555 projects will doubtless follow.
Martin M0KZC gave a presentation about FT8 on February 2nd. This was an interesting look at the way this popular modern digital mode works. Martin emphasised the need for accurate PC clocks as the timing of the transmissions is very time sensitive. A number of those present were spurred on in subsequent weeks to develop their own FT8 skills.
On March 3rd, David G3KLH gave a presentation on his recent ‘expedition’ to the Isle of Wight to operate with Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society. David explained the setting up of the station and gave a report of the number of stations contacted. This was, of course, an Islands On The Air (IOTA) event even though the Isle of Wight is so close to us that I am sure many of us don’t think of it as an island at all, until we have to pay the ferry cost.
The April 6th event held in the CARS clubhouse focussed on Software Defined Radio. The initial presentation by Richard, MØRBF, was entitled “SDR, What, Why and How” and covered, in very simple terms with no maths, what SDR is, the advantages over analogue systems, and how it works. Martin MØKZC then showed some of the equipment that can be used including various dongles and a Flex radio. Martin then went on to demonstrate some of the software and discuss some of the configuration considerations.
Richard, M0RBF spoke on May 4th about mobile operation. His talk, accompanied by pictures of vehicles and example set-ups was aimed at members who were considering mounting radio sets in their vehicles. Richard showed examples of transceiver and antenna mountings as well as considering the legal and safety obligations of mobile and static mobile operation.
On June 1st a number of members gathered in the morning to do some maintenance in and around the clubhouse. In the evening Chris G4CWS held another construction evening and gave an introduction to voltage regulation, and the various means that could be used. The subject for the practical build was a useful Variable Voltage Regulator based on the LM317 that provided a steady supply voltage to the circuits it would feed. This build used stripboard to introduce another method of construction.
On July 6th the AGM was held at the clubhouse. A new committee was elected and informal discussions on other matters of club business followed.
We held a stall at the Flight Refuelling Club Hamfest on August 13th and raised almost £350 for club funds. The weather was good to us this year and those present had an enjoyable day with the added benefit of being able to dispose of some old junk and replace it with other items.
On August 17th a work party was held to re-cable the main antenna tower and repair cables that had been damaged having been snagged on some of the tower metalwork. A new system of storing the cables in a box was introduced and seems to have solved the tangled cable problem we had previously.
Over the weekend of August 19th & 20th the club fielded a number of operators to the Lighthouses on the Air event run at Hurst Castle. The impressive list of contacts made with the special event call of GB5HCL is below.
1. Lighthouses Worked
GB2EL Rathlin Island (NI)
GB2TD Trwyn-du (Penmon Pt, Anglesey)
GB0BMB Beaulieu Millenium Beacon
GB5TLV Trinity Light Vessel (decommissioned) Blackwater River, Essex
GB1PBL Portland Bill
GB1OL Brough of Birsay, Orkney
MN0JQS Light Vessel ‘Petrel’ (decommissioned) Strangford Lough (NI)
GB5BL Blackhead (NI)
GN0LIX Chaine Tower
PA6OUD Ouddorp (NL)
TM0BSM Berck sur Mer (F)
EI50NDR Baily (EI)
EI2WRC/P Hook, Wexford (EI)
S51LGT Cape Madona (Slovenia)
PA38MW Eierland (NL)
PA3BIC Ameland (NL)
OR5R/P Westhinder 1 Lightship (BE)
OZ1NBG Nordborg (DK)
TM2LW Coat Mer Aval (F)
2. Log Statistics
Overall contacts (2 days) 220
Countries (all Europe) 14
Bands Used 40m (7 MHz) and 20m (14 MHz)
The team were responsible for setting up the station as well as operating over the two days.
On September 7th Chris G4CWS introduced us to the NanoVNA. He explained how this low cost device can be used by Radio Amateurs for all manner of things including checking filter responses and the SWR of antennas. Chris demonstrated one of his devices, yes, these devices are so reasonably priced that many of us have ended up with more than one, and showed how it can also be used with a PC, giving a larger screen area and slightly improved processing.
A work party met on September 21st and undertook more antenna maintenance to repair the main lifting winch cable attachment which had broken lose when the tower was being lowered after a contest. The work will hopefully ensure that the tower will be safe but members are still reminded NOT to reach through the tower under any circumstances.
October 5th saw Richard M0RBF explaining some of the important factors to be considered when measuring SWR and Power. His presentation covered definitions, measurements, electric and magnetic fields, the causes of standing waves, the relationship between SWR and power and a very basic introduction to Smith charts.
Unfortunately the weather on November 2nd consisted of rain and strong winds. Coupled with reports of traffic build up on the roads leading to the club we followed advice and cancelled the scheduled meeting.
On December 14th members enjoyed a Seasonal Social. There was lots of eating, drinking and chatting, so much so that the planned Quiz fell by the wayside. A good time was had by all.
There were numerous competitions entered by Club members during 2023. From CQWW (worldwide) to RSGB UK contests, most of the latter with both individual and cumulative Club scoring systems, so you earn QSO ‘points’ for both yourself and your Club. These are awarded on a combination of point per QSO, cumulative distances (Km), grid squares depending upon the rules plus, of course the standard correct exchange of signal report and serial number.
The HF contest year started with the 80m-40m RSGB AFS (affiliated societies) contest series (CW/Data/SSB), a team event where the leading 4 scorers form team ‘A’ the next 4 team ‘B’ and so on. These were longer events lasting 4 hours on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon using just the 80 and 40m bands. Somewhat irrelevant as we struggled to field a full team except for the SSB round where we finished a creditable 19th.
The other main Christchurch ARS HF entries were for the 80m Club Championship which runs from February to July (inc.) and the 80m Autumn Series from September to November (inc.). Both are sprint format, duration 1.5 hours during weekday evenings, three sessions per month, one each CW, Data (RTTY and PSK63) and SSB. Here, owing to the ‘friendlier’ timings, we had increased participation, especially for the SSB rounds. The number of contributing stations is not limited so a case of ‘the more the merrier’ and as a result we had (respectively) a top five and a top fifteen placing.
On VHF we’ve concentrated on 2m with the monthly (first Tuesday) UKAC (UK Activity) contest, a longer duration (2.5 hour) evening contest. With 3 regular entrants it’s been hard going from IO90 but we still placed 14th in our category. We would welcome more entrants for 2024 !
Below is a summary table of the Club finishing positions for the contests entered, the individual scores are too numerous to record ! One notable exception – G0MUD placed joint 1st in the 100WQRS (slow speed CW) category of the Autumn Series, joint 1st with…………. David G3KLH !!
|24 (of 49)
|31 (of 44)
|G3KLH, G4AWA, G0VPJ, M0KZC
|19 (of 53)
|Feb – July
|G3KLH, G4AWA, G0VPJ, M0KZC, G1RRR, 2E0SEW, G0VPJ
|13 (of 53)
|80m CW/Data/SSB (3 sessions/month)
|Sep – Nov
|G3KLH, G4AWA, G0VPJ, M0KZC, G1RRR, 2E0SEW, G0VPJ
|5 (of 37)
|80m CW/Data/SSB (3 sessions per month)
|Jan – Dec
|G4GTH, G4AWA, M0KZC
|14 (of 57)
|2m SSB (12 sessions, 1 per month)
1 Affiliated Societies Contest
2 Club Championship
3 Autumn Series
4 UK Activity Contest
If anyone is interested in taking part in 2024 please let anyone listed above know, you’d be most welcome and we can provide basic information to get you started! Thanks to the 2023 teams.