Bishop Auckland 2019 Radio Rally

Colburn and Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society have booked a table at the upcoming Bishop Auckland radio rally. This will take place at Spennymoor Leisure Center, on Sunday the 24th November 2019.

Dave, Paul, and Terry have all volunteered to crew the club table, where they’ll be selling a variety of amateur radio related bits and pieces. If you have any miscellaneous items you’d like to sell at the rally, either for the benefit of the club, or on your own behalf (for a small commission), feel free to contact Dave, G8YPN, to make arrangements.

Likewise, if you fancy lending a hand and supporting the club, then please let Dave know.

2019 AGM and related matters

The CRDARS Annual General Meeting took place on Wednesday 6th November 2019.

The following members were elected to roles on the committee:

Chairman Dave Lutman
Vice ChairmanPaul Hunt
SecretaryChris Kirby
TreasurerMartyn Vann
Additional Committee MemberPaul McGee

Ian Bell has agreed to shadow Martyn in his role as treasurer this year, and assist with duties where required.

We would like to extend our thanks to Irene Lyne for all her hard work as club treasurer over the years. Irene has served as treasurer since the club was founded, and we really appreciate her efforts behind the scenes to ensure that the club could continue to function.

Membership subs are now due, and remain at £20 per year for members over the age of 18, and £5 per year for under 18s. The club does not charge members for attending individual meetings.

It has been suggested that the club may not hold meetings in July or August 2020, as many of our members are on holiday during this time, and are therefore unable to attend meetings at this time of year. A final decision will be made closer to the time.

It has been suggested that we hold a club net on the GB3IR repeater on the Wednesday nights when no club meeting is scheduled.

Finally, the club has begun putting together the events program for 2020. If anyone has any suggestions for events or talks they’d either like see or offer, please pass your suggestions to the club secretary. Feel free to use the web site contact form if you’d like to submit a suggestion electronically.

Junk Sale and Annual General Meeting

Our events calendar has once again been updated with a few bits and pieces to tide us through the next few weeks.

On Wednesday 16th October, we’ll be holding an amateur radio junk sale. Whether you’re into building your equipment, or just looking to add a few extra bits and pieces to your shack, this is an opportunity to pick up a bargain.

The 2019 Annual General Meeting will be held on 6th November at Hudswell Village Hall.

The meetings page has been updated with the dates of the next few club meetings, but there aren’t any talks or events on the calendar yet. We’ll update the news and meetings pages once we have agreed our winter/spring schedule.

All meetings start at 19:30.

July Contest Nights

We’ve added a new meeting to our events calendar. On Wednesday 10th July, we’re planning to participate in the RSGB 3.5MHz Club Championship contest. As we don’t have use of Hudswell Village Hall on this night, we’re currently planning to operate a portable station, probably from the field behind the hall. Meeting times are to be confirmed closer to the day.

We have a proposal to operate a portable station for the RSGB 6m UK Activity Contest on Thursday 11th July, but there are currently no concrete plans in place. We’ll try to determine whethere there’s enough interest to warrant operating portable contest stations two days in a row, and update the web site once we know whether or not the 6m contest is still on the cards.

If you’re interested in taking part in one of the contest nights, please keep a close eye on the web site in the days before the meeting, as arrangements may change at short notice.

A Life in HAM Radio, by Peter, G4VUN

On Wednesday 19th June, CRDARS hosted a talk by Peter, G4VUN, on his experiences in amateur radio.

Peter brought along a variety of classic radio equipment, including second hand and ex-military transceivers and ATUs that had been repurposed for use on the amateur bands. He was keen to point out that he’s had many successful contacts with people all over the world, using cheap equipment and simple wire antennas, fed with ladder line. There’s plenty of older but perfectly serviceable equipment in circulation, and getting started with amateur radio doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Peter was also keen to discuss the challenges facing amateur radio in 2019, from weak propagation and high levels of noise to the lack of apparent activity on many of the amateur bands.

All present were encouraged to get on the air and operate as much as possible. Whether by calling CQ, or coming back to other people’s calls, any activity on the bands is welcome, and the more people we have making even basic, boilerplate contacts, the better.

When it comes to HF, Peter recommends taking the time to check whether the higher frequency bands, such as 21 or 28MHz are open, as propagation may be possible even if the band appears to be dead. When it comes to the 28MHz band, Peter suggests tuning down and listening for Citizens Band signals around 27MHz, as if the CB users’ signals are propagating, there’s a good chance that the 28MHz amateur band is also open.

Regardless of our individual opinions on amateur radio, the evening was certainly thought provoking, and prompted some interesting discussion. On behalf of our members, we’d like to extend our thanks to Peter for coming to visit, and for his perspective on our hobby.

Upcoming Talk “A Life in HAM Radio”, by Peter, G4VUN

On Wednesday 19th June, Peter, G4VUN will be presenting a talk “A life in HAM Radio”. We hope that many of our members will join us for what will hopefully be a fascinating journey through everything Peter has experienced during his many years as a radio amateur.

As always, our Meetings page is where you can find full details of our upcoming events programme. We’ve got a few other guest speakers pencilled in between over the coming months, and we’ll be updating the web site once we’re able to confirm that they’re available.

Summer 2019 Events Programme

The proposed calendar of club events is now available on our Meetings page at https://crdars.org.uk/meetings. Between now and October, we’re hoping to have presentations by several guest speakers, participate in a 6m contest night, and try our hands at Amateur Radio Direction Finding.

We’re still checking the availability of some of our guest speakers, so please watch this space, as we’ll be updating the calendar once we receive confirmation that a particular talk is going ahead. Some upcoming events will not be taking place at Hudswell, so please keep a close eye on our Meetings and News pages, as we’ll be posting meet up times and locations closer to the day of the event.

In a change to our usual routine, we’re planning on adding an extra date to our calendar on Thursday 11th July for the RSGB 6m contest. The usual July meetings on Wednesday 3rd and Wednesday 17th July will go ahead as normal in Hudswell.

We currently intend to hold an Amateur Radio Direction Finding event on Wednesday 21st August, at a location yet to be determined. Please note that there are no meetings at Hudswell Village Hall in August.

Finally, please note that the date for the CRDARS AGM has provisionally been set for Wednesday 2nd October at Hudswell Village Hall.

Optical Communications using Lasers

On Wednesday 20th March, the club hosted a very interesting talk and demonstration by Charles, G4DXP. Charles has been experimenting with line-of-sight transmission of audio, using lasers and pulse width modulation. He brought along his two home-built laser transceivers for members to play with, and gave us an explanation of how they work and how they are constructed.

Charles’ laser transceivers are based on a design by Ron Jones, K7RJ, and are elegant in their simplicity. In fact, most of the complexity in making the system work is in finding a reliable means for aligning the lasers over long distances, rather than in the electronics.

If you’re interested in trying to build something like this, always remember that even low power lasers can be hazardous. Never use a laser in a way that might endanger another person, or where the beam might come close to anyone’s face. Many countries have legal restrictions on the use of lasers, so do your research before buying or using any laser light sources.

Charles clearly loves his construction projects, as he also brought along a differential windlass that he’d built for members to have a play with.

On behalf of Colburn and Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society, we’d like to extend our thanks to Charles for taking his time to come and visit us, and show off his various projects.