It is with a tremendous amount of regret that I have to let you know that club member Stephen Coleman, G4YFB, passed away on Friday 4th January aged 66.
He had been battling cancer having been diagnosed only 9 weeks ago.
Steve was a supporter of the Club and recently had been helping Ray with the Intermediate and Foundation courses. Going back to the 80s, he taught the RAE course.
Also, he was a member of the Thames Valley Repeater Group (TVRG) and had used his software talents to provide modern programming software for old PMR radios we had for sale. Those of you that were into packet radio may remember that for a period most of the U.K. mailboxes used the YFB software.
A man of hidden talents who will be very much missed.
” It is very sad to learn of this news. Steve always had a lot of time for anyone. I know he dedicated a lot of time to writing the programming software for the VX-10 before TVRG set about selling them a couple of years ago. He will be missed. ” – Jonathan M0JSX / K6JSX
“Steve gave a talk to the Farnborough and District Radio Society In 2016 and always greeted me when he saw me at rallies. RIP Steve gone too early.” – Phil G1LKJ
“Sorry to hear the sad news about Steve, much to young.” – Min G0JMS
“I am very sad to have lost an old friend and enthusiastic supporter of everything. His dry sense of humour and ‘can do’ attitude was always an inspiration. He will be a great loss to the club and the wider Amateur community.” – Baz G8DOR
“I knew Steve initially through the talk on the Development of Radar and Virtual Radar he kindly did for the club in May 2017. From that it was clear he was a prodigious software talent developing his own ADS-B decoding software. He was very thorough in the prep he did for the talk bringing along examples of kit and demonstrating them. He made it look easy. Anyone that’s ever tried to demonstrate stuff will know, it’s really not.
He was completely self-taught in software. With the hard stuff he was tackling and the results he got, that’s quite remarkable. I was hoping to learn more of the magical things he was doing with TVRG particularly in the area of software for commercial PMR sets.
Someone with Steve’s talent, experience and kind unassuming nature getting involved with training was always going to be a perfect match. I will very much miss him” – John G4RDC
The funeral will be held at the English Martyrs Church, 67 Liebenrood Road, Reading, RG30 2EB, Berkshire at 13.30 on Tuesday January 29th. This will be followed by a burial at Caversham Cemetery, All Hallows Road, RG4 5LP at 15.00. Dress code is informal – what you feel happy with.
Read by his son in law Peter at the funeral, a fascinating read.
was born in Reading, the only child of Eric and Winifred Smith, and
lived all of his life in Caversham, attending Hemdean House,
Caversham Primary and Wilson schools. His early years coincided with
the second world war and Peter recalled vividly the occasion in which
their Caversham home was hit by 2 incendiary bombs – one of very
few houses in Reading to suffer damage in an air raid. Peter’s
father was a machine workshop instructor with the REME at Arborfield
and Peter was proud that, with a lathe and other machinery specially
installed in the back bedroom of their modest home in Rectory Rd,
both of his parents helped the war effort by manufacturing aircraft
parts. It became clear only recently, that they were part of a
clandestine network throughout the South of England that secretly
built thousands of Spitfires hidden in garages, sheds and barns. The
story is now told in the recently released film, Secret Spitfires
which includes Peter recalling some of his wartime memories. He
enjoyed being filmed, and the family will treasure the footage.
lifelong friend, Tony Halford, recalls their pre-teen exploits,
including making soap box go-carts and testing them out on the hill
at Bugs Bottom. Sadly, Tony is unable to be here today – but he
told us that as they moved into the teen years, Peter shared with him
his interest in the wonders of electronics which in those days
centred around the thermionic valve. They spent many happy hours in
the shed at Peter’s parents’ house, constructing and modifying
“Government Surplus” equipment, and it was during this time
that Peter taught Tony the skill of soldering the correct way – a
skill that Peter later taught to both his children and all of his
grandchildren. On one memorable occasion Peter and Tony assembled a 3
valve audio amplifier, with an old loudspeaker frigged to act as a
microphone, so that from the shed they could listen to the ticking of
the hall clock. They also discovered that because of the wondrous
sensitivity of their creation, they could listen to Peter’s
parents’ conversations as well – all over the house – a scientific
achievement which, as you can imagine, was not appreciated by Winnie
would say that his school career was undistinguished but it was here
that he first met Ann, who was to become his lifelong companion and
soulmate. He also gained the qualifications that he needed to start
an electrical engineering apprenticeship working at Taplow Court for
British Telecommunications Research. He loved his days there and told
many apprentice prank stories – such as the time when he had the job
of wiring up a circuit to test a very expensive prototype valve –
the only one in the country. When ‘switch on’ time came, much to
Peter’s horror, wisps of smoke started to rise from the wiring. On
closer inspection, Peter found that someone had placed a resistor
across the valve supply which blew a few seconds after switch-on –
just to trick him. He and Ann also enjoyed the social aspects of
Taplow such as the tennis courts, boating, rifle range and Christmas
then moved to work at the Rutherford labs at Harwell. He was never a
lover of bureaucracy and recounted stories of his frustration with
the Civil Service. Seeking promotion, he moved temporarily to
Daresbury in Cheshire, but after a brief and unfulfilling soujourn
there he returned to Rutherford where he gained his Chartered
Engineer status. While at Rutherford he met his future business
partner, and in 1968 they set up their own electronics company-
CONTECH – where Mac was in charge of the drawing office and Peter the
design. Colleagues, who became lifelong friends, recall not only a
brilliant engineer but also a kind, calm and generous boss who was
always happy to pitch in whatever the task.
relished the freedom of having his own company and enjoyed working on
many interesting projects – a key one being the design, development
and production of equipment for TV audience monitoring, subsequently
employed widely around the world until the advent of digital
say that he was an engineer does not really do justice to his
affinity for mechanical and electrical things. He had the wonderful
ability to understand how things were supposed to work, even if not
all the parts were there. He could picture whatever was missing –
go to his workshop and make them. A talent that will be greatly
missed by his family and friends. As an engineer, his passion was to
unravel unnecessary complexity in favour of elegance and simplicity.
He had a very similar approach to everyday life!
work too, Peter was always busy. At 21, he and Ann married (Tony was
his best man!). Peter built the first marital home by purchasing a
caravan shell. He installed heating and lighting and built the fitted
furniture inside. Just prior to the arrival of Wendy a year later,
they moved in to live with Ann’s father and aunt while Peter
planned his next project. This was to build the house in Kidmore Rd
where they brought up their family and where he lived for the rest of
his life. Peter familiarised himself with building regulations and
taught himself the necessary skills such as bricklaying and plumbing.
He broke ground on the build in 1960, aged, 23. Holding down a
full-time job and only working evenings and weekends on the house,
they completed it with virtually no outside help of any kind 2 years
later and moved in in October 1962. 6 months later, the house was
complete and following a couple of years R&R, Helen was born.
was always a priority and Wendy and Helen’s mum and dad had a very
long and happy marriage, celebrating their Golden Wedding in 2008.
Their mum suffered with ill health for a number of years and their
dad became a kind and devoted carer for her until becoming a widower
Wendy and Helen have lived nearby for the majority of their adult
lives and so raised their families locally. Because of this Peter and
Ann were able to be an integral part of their grandchildren’s
lives. Grandpa was always there to join the celebrations, encourage
first Andrew and Elizabeth and then Christopher, Thomas and Matthew
with their projects and endeavours – helping to fix anything and
everything that needed attention. In addition to all the usual family
events, Grandpa continued the tradition he and Nana had started,
hosting two highlights in the family calendar. In the spring, he
spent considerable time hiding mini Easter eggs around his wonderful
garden for the grandchildren to find. Over the years he took great
delight in finding new places to challenge the hunters – a task
that became increasingly difficult as the grandchildren are all now
over 20. Bonfire night too, was always organised meticulously in the
typical Peter fashion. Fairy lights and lanterns provided a magical
setting for bonfires, fireworks and sausages and soup.
Peter and Ann relaxed by
walking in the countryside and family holidays were usually taken in
Scotland, the Lake District, Cornwall or Wales. In retirement, the
Pembrokeshire coastal path became a real favourite for the pair with
many holidays in St David’s – and also Switzerland. Once widowed,
Peter sought new walking partners by joining the Sonning Common
Health Walks where he rekindled old friendships and made new ones.
These times became an important part of his week and he always told
the family about them, including owning up when they had got lost!
interest in wireless began during the war, when his father gave him a
crystal set and from an early age he was often called upon to help to
fix sets for neighbours and friends. He was a frequent visitor to
Bill Good’s wireless shop around the corner in Church St and later
spent many hours at the ‘Shop on the bridge’ in Kings Rd and Bob
Iles’s shop in Southampton St. In the late 1970’s he found time to
resurrect his interest in amateur radio and he became a member of the
Radio Society of Great Britain taking on the A license G4JNU call
sign in 1980. He was a very active member of the Reading Amateur
Radio club where he made many friends through shared interests and
enjoyed demonstrating his restorations of all kinds of vintage
electrical and mechanical curiosities.
from his love of wireless he also became a member of the
Narrow-bandwidth Television Association devoted to all aspects of
early television. He was fascinated by the technology and spent many
hours restoring original equipment, constructing replica mechanical
television apparatus and learning about the origins of early
television by recreating the experiments of its inventor and pioneer
– John Logie Baird. He became one of the most knowledgeable people
in the country on Baird and early mechanical television. He supported
museums, groups and individuals with his masterful engineering skills
and with his passion for early radio and television technology.
Through his efforts many museums can now display original radio and
television equipment working again and he has enabled working
demonstrations of original equipment to be featured on several
television programmes on the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky, including the
BBC’s recreation in 2016 of the 1936 opening night of television.
will treasure memories of a loving, kind- hearted and generous man
who was always willing to help whatever the task. He always had a
project on the go either restoring or building something, researching
or making something work – whether it was a family, a house or a
BBC’s – and the world’s – first regular television service
started on Monday the 2nd of November 1936. The song you are about to
hear was performed in the opening show and captures something of the
mystery and wonder that must have surrounded the new invention at
Next meeting is Thursday 10th January, Woodford Park, Woodley.
Eyes down 8pm.
This time it’s the club equipment that’s the star of the show with the new Rigol spectrum analyser and the Icom IC7300 transceiver “Top of the Bill”. However Ray G3SCZ will also give a short introduction to the spectrum analyser and what it’s capable of. Many thanks to Ray for that.
It will be less formal than ‘normal’ talk evenings. This is more a chance for you to play with stuff – and have a natter, of course.
Also note the “humble support acts” are very capable (antenna analysers etc.). If you haven’t used one and you enjoy messing with antennas do come along.
This is a great opportunity to see how test equipment can make your life much easier and what radio equipment we have that’s ready to use.
Bring along any filters you may need aligned, also attenuators and dummy loads to find out what they’re really doing, and antennas within reason. Alignment evenings reborn!
Marconi radio test set (combination of sig gen + spec analyser iirc donated by Mick G8ZWN. Need to get to know this better.)
FL2100Z linear – even if we just admire the glassware on it. Needs bringing up on a variac.
Advantest 1GHz spectrum analyser
+more, will keep you updated.
This will also be a good opportunity to discuss what our next equipment purchase should be. One obvious thing I’d say is missing is a decent, modern (i.e. small, light, capable) RF signal generator. Others:
10MHz GPS locked frequency source
Decent Frequency counter i.e. accurate and wide range.
Would be good to chat about what makes sense to purchase as a club and what not.
Tea, coffee, biscuits will be in plentiful supply – perhaps a bit earlier than usual. But only for humans/our membership. A valve linear at full throttle drinking a cup of tea doesn’t bear thinking about! As ever, keep your meetings ideas coming. If you mentioned something to me before and I’ve not done anything about it, please nag me.
Season’s greetings all,
(Hopefully you can read this. I’m battling the new ‘wordpress’ interface as you may be able to tell.)
The current General Availability (GA) release is WSJT-X 2.0.0
The FT8 and MSK144 protocols have been enhanced in a way that is not backward compatible with older program versions. The new protocols become the world-wide standards starting on December 10, 2018, and all users should upgrade to WSJT-X 2.0 by January 1, 2019. After that date, only the new FT8 and MSK144 should be used on the air.
For FT8, WSJT-X 2.0.0 will decode the messages sent by earlier releases and respond with the corresponding older message format. However, for MSK144 (often used for meteor scatter), the payloads are incompatible and 2.0 will not decode messages sent from pre 2.0, and vice-versa.