meeting 14th February – TELL US WHAT YOU’RE UP TO!

14th Feb Woodford Park meeting is a chance for us to catch up on the
various projects/activities we’re up to – in particular any follow ups
to the Great Construction Contest but not limited to that.

If you’d like a short (5 minute or so) slot let me know.

Doesn’t have to be stuff – could be contest updates or how RADARC
contributes comms to events like 3 towers etc.

Also – what would you like to see and I’ll try and arrange?

We can take contributions on the fly on the evening if need be.

  • Min G0JMS will kindly bring along a RigExpert HF to VHF SWR meter (Digital display) RigExpert to show you and VHF to UHF swr power meter (Cheap unit) which includes frequency. He will also do a brief demo of Yaesu Fusion – Wires X technology RF paths permitting.

If necessary, I’ll bore you for a few minutes before the bottles and
tomatoes start flying:

  • Geostationary satellite project – es hail 2. Mike G4CDF (and possibly others???) is making the running on this one but I will present on his behalf a very short overview. iirc it’s 2.4GHz up and 10GHz down. tx/rx is based on an SDR transceiver (lime sdr mini).
  • Adventures with FT8 internals and taxi radios (generating FT8 tones by pulling a carrier around) – update. TBH anything that generates a stable carrier and can be pulled a bit maybe down to 1Hz resolution looks like it might work – eg. voltage controlled oscillator.
  • cheap RTL-SDR dongles (£15 delivered). Mine does work but probably better to get the real ones rather than fakes like mine.
  • short gnuradio demo (maybe)

We’ll have the ICOM IC7300 out for people to have a play with and the spectrum analyser.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be in plentiful supply all evening.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

73

John

G4RDC

Apollo Experience Report – Lunar Module Communications System

A fascinating document from the Apollo programme was recently unearthed on the NASA website by a local amateur, Jim M0YOJ. It goes into loads of detail about the development and use of RF systems on board the various vehicles involved the lunar programme. For some light bedtime reading, the full document is here. Thanks Jim (and John!) for highlighting this.

The development of the lunar module communications system is traced from ‘the initial concept to the operational system used on manned lunar missions. Included are the problems encountered during the development, the corrective actions taken, and recommendations for similar equipment in future programs. The system was designed to provide communications between the lunar module and the Manned Space Flight Network, between the lunar module and the command and service module, and between the lunar module and the extravehicular crewmen. The system provided the equipment necessary for voice, telemetry, and television communications; ranging information; and various communications links.

Stephen Coleman G4YFB, SK

Steve G4YFB


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 G4RD

The funeral 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 approximately 15.00. A “reception” will then follow at the Travellers Rest Public House, 180 Henley Road, Caversham, Reading, RG4 5DL, at around 15.45 onwards.

Dress code is informal – what you feel happy with.

If you wish to send flowers, then these can be ordered via the A.B. Walker website www.abwalker.co.uk Alternatively donations can be made to the Sue Ryder charity, again via the A.B. Walker website, although at the time of writing this hadn’t been set up.

Chris G4CCC and John G4RDC

Tribute to peter smith G4JNU

Read by his son in law Peter at the funeral, a fascinating read.

Tribute

Peter 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.

Peter’s 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 and Eric!

Peter 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 parties.

Peter 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.

Peter 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 television.

To 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!

Outside 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.

Family 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 in 2009.

Both 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!

Peter’s 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.

Following 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.

We 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 Baird televisor.

The 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 that time

‘Magic Rays of Light sung by Adele Dixon


Memories of Peter, G4JNU

Peter G4JNU talking about his valve display 2017.
Peter in full flow at a RADARC meeting 2017 with his valve display.
Peter G4JNU at the McMichael Rally in 2008
McMichael Rally 2008
Peter G4JNU at RADARC's 70th.
Ever the creator, a demonstration for RADARC’s 70th year (2004). Some beautifully made equipment and some work in progress? Maybe someone can remember.
Peter's celebration of RADARC history at Reading Rugby Football club, 2014.
Peter’s consummately professional display celebrating our club’s history at RADARC’s 80th event (2014), Reading Rugby Football Club, Sonning.
Construction Contest 2013 - Peter presenting first prize to Jim G0LHZ
Construction Contest 2013 – Peter presenting first prize to Jim G0LHZ
Construction Contest 2014 - Peter presenting second prize to John G4RDC
Construction Contest 2014 – Peter presenting second prize to John G4RDC
RADARC AGM 2008
RADARC AGM 2008
Knowl Hill Steam Rally, early 1980s.
Knowl Hill Steam Rally, early 1980s. I can identify Peter, I think. Not sure who the supporting cast are! Health and Safety? Well it was the 80s….

Page to be updated as we get more photos and memories. If you have more to add or further information for the stories above, please use the contact forms via the Contact page.

meeting 10th Jan – Equipment + Alignment evening, Spectrum analyser Intro

Folks,

Happy RADARC New Year to you!

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!

On show will be:

  • Icom IC7300 transceiver
  • Rigol Spectrum Analyser + tracking generator + VSWR attachment
  • MFJ259 + MFJ269 Antenna Analysers
  • FT100D HF Rig
  • 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.
  • FT757GT transceiver
  • 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,

73

John
G4RDC

(Hopefully you can read this. I’m battling the new ‘wordpress’ interface as you may be able to tell.)

WSJT-X, FT8, MSK144

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.

See https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html for details and download.

For those of you that also use JTAlert with WSTJ-X, there is a later version 2.12.10. See https://hamapps.com/ for details and download.

New 4 metre web SDR IN South herts.

John G3VHH notes we have a new 4 metre web SDR available to us covering 69.492 – 71.028 MHz

http://81.111.70.181:8091

IP address may change so look at http://websdr.org/ for a definitive address. Text is “4 Meter WebSDR Located in south Hartfordshire UK using a RTL Dongle”. Antenna is a 4 metre quarter wave ground plane.

Many thanks to John and Steven M0XVT for making this available.

73

John G4RDC

Website for the Reading And District Amateur Radio Club