FARS Activities & News
Read all the latest activities and news from Furness Amateur Radio Society
In early October, Furness Amateur Radio Society put on a special station, GB9SL, to celebrate the life of Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) - arguably one the areas most famous sons. The event was to help celebrate the 30th annual Oliver Hardy Festival in Harlem, Georgia, USA (the birthplace of Oliver Hardy). A team of American radio hams from The Amateur Radio Club of Columbia County (ARCCC) made contact with Furness ARS to see if they would put on a companion station in the UK. What better location than the beautiful Gleaston Water Mill to use for this special event - just a few miles away from Stans birth town of Ulverston, in South Cumbria. Furness ARS set up a hex beam antenna, and their IC-7300 plus a club members Elecraft linear for 400w output. Band conditions were not fantastic, but perseverance on both 20m and 30m resulted in QSOs from South America, North America and all over Europe.
Best of all the team at GB9SL were able to make contact with the U.S team (W4O) in Georgia, USA during the festival to pass messages to each other to celebrate Laurel and Hardy.
Later in the month, GB2FSR was set up from the 17th Barrow St Perrans scouts for the annual JOTA weekend. Members from Furness ARS operated on 40m HF to assist the cubs and scouts in sending greetings messages. With just one day of operating, 20 other JOTA stations were worked (plus many other none JOTA stations), with dozens of greetings messages passed and received. One QSO with a station in the Netherlands lasted over 1 hour, with the messages being translated from English into Dutch for the Dutch scouts to understand. Other activities included a CW practice station, creating their own phonetic alphabet and a 5.6GHz 'helmet-cam'. The helmet-cam is always a popular draw at JOTA... one scouts wears a helmet with a camera and transmitter and is sent out into the field, whist other scouts watch the received signal on a TV, and use a directional antenna to improve the signal in the scout hut. PMRs are used to allow the scouts to communicate with each other.
Furness Amateur Radio Society held their final 2m fox hunt for the year in early September. The winners were Nick G0HIK and Dave G3VUS in less than 15 minutes. They only needed to take 3 bearings before finding the fox hiding under the railway bridge. There were 6 teams out, which is the highest number for a long time and it was good to see some new 'faces' take part. With the dark nights now upon us there will be no chances for any more fox hunts until the spring. Also in September there was a 'what I did over summer' meeting where club members brought in projects they had been working on over the summer and told stories of activities and QSOs they had over the summer months.
Furness ARS was represented in this years RSGB SSB National Field Day by Ivan G3IZD and Stewart G3RXQ. The event, which took place at the beginning of September, used the call sign G3RXQ to enter in the Fixed Station category. The contest results have yet to be published. However, a position at or very near the top is expected.
Furness ARS took part in the annual Railways on the Air weekend in September from Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway in Cumbria. Using GB2LHR the team operated across both Saturday and Sunday from the club caravan using a doublet antenna and a Kenwood TS570DG. Band conditions were not the best, but perseverance resulted in 65 QSO's in total in 15 countries as well as 7 other ROTA stations.
Furness ARS held their second (and last of 2018) 80m ARDF event at the beginning if August, again in Seawood near Ulverston.
A friend of a club member was co erst into setting the beacons out - and after half an hour he returned (some what warn out from running through the woods) and the course was set. Club members set out with their 80m receivers and the 5 beacons were found within 35 to 55 minutes - some were hidden 'well off the beaten track' and took some finding.
The last August meeting was a portable meet on Birkrigg common (IO-84-KD) where club members set up a range of antennas and radio kit.
These included portable trapped dipoles, vhf yagi's, 6m whips and hf whips. Members worked stations in Europe on 6m SSB, Europe, Oman and the USA on 20m SSB, and local 2m FM. There was even some 23cm digital and FM ATV reception tests carried out.
An enjoyable evening was had by all, and the perfect way to end the years 'outdoor' meetings before the darker nights force club members back indoors for the winter series of talks, demos and presentations,
At the end of June Furness Amateur Radio Society members Chris M0KPW and Nick G0HIK achieved a great result on 5.6GHz ATV of a distance of 159km from G to GI.
Chris and Nick were located on Corney Fell in South Cumbria (IO84IH), with John GI7UGV at Scrabo Tower, Northern Ireland (IO74DN). This was the 3rd time we'd tried this path, and it was a case of 3rd time lucky (although John had moved locations slightly to somewhere with less RF noise). Picture quality was between P5 and P3 both ways using 'bearfoot' of 600mw and with linears of around 2.5w. We believe this was the first G to GI on 6cm ATV 2 way QSO and just pipped the current distance record by 1km !
A week later another G to GI path was attempted, this time at 180km. Again with Chris and Nick at IO84IH but this time with Geoff GI0GDP in Northern Ireland (IO74AU). Pictures were not perfect but good enough to confirm reception both ways between P3 and P4 with deep fading. Poor Geoff had strong wind conditions and had to keep one hand on the dish, whilst trying to operate ATV and 2m talk back with the other, so well done to him.
A bank of cloud was visible in the distance so signals were being attenuated. We feel sure that much better results can be achieved under the right conditions in the future.
To think that at the core of these systems are cheap PFV drone TX and RX units, but with some ingenuity distances of 180km are achievable which is truly remarkable.
Later in the month Nick G0HIK and Jim M0KYL, travelled to Arran for a long weekend to play radio. On the 14th Nick setup for an ATV sked on 5.6GHz with two GI stations, Geoff GI0GDP and John GI7UGV, who were operating from Knock Dhu. Good signals of P4/5 were exchanged both ways at a distance of 80kms.
Late July saw club members and their families gather at Gleaston Water Mill (which is owned by club member Mike G8ALE and his XLY Vicky) for the annual FARS summer BBQ. The weather was kind to us and an enjoyable evening was had by all.
The last weekend of July saw club members attend the Cumbria Steam Gathering at Cark airfield near Grange over Sands. The Steam Gathering is a popular annual attraction and attracts 1000s of visitors over the 2 days. The station was more a demonstration of the hobby than a special events station, and attracted a great deal of attention. Look out for a more detailed report soon !
June saw Furness Amateur Radio Society hold it's first 80m ARDF event of the year. Chris, M0KPW, set a challenging course in the 58 acre Sea Wood, located just south of Ulverston in South Cumbria. There are over 3.5km of pathways through the woods, so there is plenty of space for setting out a course. The starts time was 19.20, and the first competitor to find all 5 hidden TX beacons was Andrew, M6GUM, in around 45 minutes. With Les, 2E0LBI, coming in a few minutes later. The event was scheduled to last for 1 hour and by the end, everyone who took part had found 4 or 5 of the beacons. It took another 30 mins at the end of the event to DF the beacons to bring them back home again ! Another ARDF event will take place in Sea Wood later in the summer.
Late June saw a number of candidates take part in a Foundation course weekend, of which there was great success and passes. Thanks to those who gave up their time to make the course a success and we hope to hear those new M6 calls on the air soon !
May was a busy month for Furness Amateur Radio Society. With the annual SOS event being moved from January to the entire month of May, members from FARS activated GB5LBC from Barrow Lifeboat Station for 2 weekends.
The first weekend saw 109 QSOs for both days with 16 countries. 3 other lifeboat stations were worked : Isle of Hoy, Orkney; Hoylake, on the Wirral and Calshot in Hampshire. The second weekend (which was 19/20 May) saw poor band conditions on the Saturday resulting in less than 50 QSOs. There were a few Maritime Mobile stations, one of which was a Tall Ship from Bergen and was located just off Shetland. The Sunday started with deep QSB on the band, but perseverance brought the total tally up to 213 QSOs for the two weekends.
In the middle of the month was the Mills on the Air weekend, held at Gleaston Water Mill on 12 and 13 May. GB2GW was on the air for both days, unfortunately band conditions were not great but a total of 80 QSO's were logged across 40m and 80m (with 80m providing the most contacts). This included 18 other Mills on the Air stations in the UK and the Netherlands.
Club nights were well attended, with club member Mark, M0NOM, doing a very entertaining and informative talk and presentation on his SOTA activities. Later in the month club members met on Birkrigg Common for a portable evening. A sked had been arranged for 5.6GHz ATV so members could 'see what all the fuss is about' and witness some 2 way ATV QSOs as they happened.
Thanks to club members to took part and/or supported all events.
Furness Amateur Radio Society celebrated World Amateur Radio Day in 18th April by running special events station GB4ARD. The station ran from 09.30 local time to 17.30 on 20m and 40m, conditions on the bands were not great but perseverance resulted in 63 QSOs in 23 countries. Highlights included GB106TBC, a special events station celebrating 106 years since the launch of RMS Titanic and the best 'DX' was a 4Z4 station in Israel. All other QSOs were in Europe, with Germany, Italy, Spain, Finland and Denmark taking the lions share.
The Furness Amateur Radio Society 5.6GHz ATV team have been doing good work since the weather improved. Teaming up with members from the Wirral club (who have travelled into a number of sites in Wales) a number of 2 way ATV contacts have been achieve between South Cumbria and North Wales with distances of 92km, 101km, 120km, and 139km worked at P5 / P4, and there is plenty left in the signal for further distances. Its been discovered that some of the quoted '600mw' tx units are actually only putting out 50mw so these paths are even more remarkable on considerably lower power than expected.
A path of 153km was worked on 21 April from Kirkstone Pass in Cumbria to near Bylchau in North Wales with an average of P4 both ways. The picture shows Chris M0KPW and Nick G0HIK with their ATV stations. If you are interested in arranging a 5.6GHz sked into South Cumbria please drop us an email at email@example.com
Furness Amateur Radio Society has been busy over the last couple of months. Chris, M0KPW, gave an interesting presentation on how to build a cheap (but effective) 20m helically wound vertical antenna as described in RadCom last year and originally from the 1976 ARRL Handbook. Using bits from the shack, Chris explained how the antenna was built, along with a 1:4 UNUN, how easy it is to tune and explained that so far running between 75 and 100w SSB contacts have been had into EA, EA8, EA9, DL, F, I, CT, OZ, SP to name but a few.
Members of Furness ARS have been suggesting ideas for how to improve the club stand for the Norbreck Rally, and it is hoped that this year they will have an improved club stand design with better signage, lighting and display area. As Furness ARS won the best website trophy at last years NARSA rally, they have been busy judging the winner for 2018. It's no mean feat going through 40+ websites and narrowing it down to a winner, but we got there and the winner will be kept under 'lock and key' until 29 April.
As the WX was not been the best over the last few months, the Furness ARS ATV project has not had much opportunity to get out and 'on the air'. There were a few cancelled activity weekends due to rain and wind when there has been arrangements to make contact with other clubs, but it is hoped than now we are into Spring and (hopefully) better weather these inter-club ATV contacts can now take place.
Furness Amateur Radio Society held an end of year surplus kit sale in December. Club members were able to sell, gift or exchange kit with each other. The night was accompanied by mince pies, cheese & biscuits and other festive fare. A lot of the kit was sold on the night in question, but allot of it also went home with who it came with!
Over the last few months members of Furness Amateur Radio Society have been busy working on 5.6GHz ATV, with a number of systems being built and tested. Work is on going and test have been very positive with signals being received over 10 miles away. There's plenty of work to do yet and further distances will have been achieved by the time you read this. But if any other clubs or individuals are working on 5.6GHTz ATV and would like to arrange a sked into the Cumbria hills with members of Furness ARS please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org There are lost of potential sites for line of sight over the North West and beyond.
At an October meeting of Furness Amateur Radio Society Chris M0KPW and Nick G0HIK delivered a pretension on a new club project for 5.6GHz ATV. This came about from a short article in the September 2017 edition of RadCom that stated 5.6Ghz ATV could be achieved by using cheap 'First Person Video' transmitters and transceiver units (intended to be used in drones), Chris M0KPW thought this might be an interesting project for Furness Amateur Radio Society.
After some more information was sought from British Amateur Television Club (BATC) Chris ordered some suitable units from China (via ebay) to create 2 retransmit and receiver stations . A few weeks later club member Nick, G0HIK, made a start on one of the stations.
The presentation gave a background of what had been learnt so far and ended by encouraging other club members to get involved in the project. Be it constructing suitable antennas/dishes, fabricating brackets for attaching dishes to tripods, building relays and a host of other jobs to make the project succeed. The plan is to get the two stations operational and transmitting and receiving over a short distance – across a room or short open space area. Ultimately building up to working over a distance of many miles in the Cumbrian hills.
October 2017 saw Furness Amateur Radio Society operate GB2FSR from the 2nd Ulverston Scouts for JOTA.
At the request of the scouts, this year only a one day (Saturday) event was required. Set up began at 8am with the rigging of a 10m mast to accommodate a 40m dipole for use with the clubs Icom IC7300.
Other activities were set up including a CW station, where scouts could practice sending their names in more codes. There was a simple design a QSL card activity as well as create your own phonetic alphabet, just for a bit of fun.
One of the most popular items was the 'helmetcam', which is a wireless video camera mounted to a helmet that the scouts wear and others watch their received signal on a TV screen and use a yagi antenna to improve their reception. PMR radios are also used allowing the scouts to communicate to each other.
Early morning discussions with one of the scout leaders indicated this might be the last year of our JOTA involvement for a couple of years as there had not been allot of interest from the local scout groups for this years event, suggesting that interest may have waned – so there were thoughts of 'resting' for a year or two.
We were very pleased to see this was not the case and we saw a good number of beavers, cubs and scouts pass through the doors during the course of the day.
As well as the other activities, there was not a ‘scout’ who visited who did not pass greetings messages on 40m. In total we gave out 26 badges and certificates for ‘passing a greetings message’ - indicating 26 scouts had passed messages - some passed multiple messages and were very enthusiastic about radio. This may not seem like a large number, but for small scout groups in South Cumbria this is a good results and an improvement on recent years.
After an initial CQ we managed to stick to one frequency for nearly 7 hours of operating, with some mini pileups. The QSO count was 65 for the one day - no mean feat when some lasted 30 minutes or more passing and receiving greetings. With the exception of France and the Netherlands all other QSOs were inter-G (G, GM, GW, GI, GU and GJ - no GD for the compete set). We worked 28 other JOTA stations, some numerous time, including :
GB2JAM - 1st Birkenhead Scout Group, GB1SJM - 1st Margate (St John's) Scout Group, GB2GU - Guernsey Scouts, GB1HS - 1st Hainault Scouts, GB5SUS - 5th St Ives Scout Group, GB1CUB - 1st Bromsgrove Scouts, GB2GCS - Grimsby Cleethorpes District Scouts and GB4PS - 4th Portadown Scout Groups to name but a few.
By the end of the day there were 3 scout leaders asking us to take part again next year, so nice to see the enthusiasm is still there and we look forward to taking part again 2018.
October 2017 - FARS in Northwest Evening Mail
Furness Amateur Radio Society held a demonstration of data modes at a meeting in September. Chris M0TES demonstrated the WSJT-X software, focussing primarily on JT65 and WSPR. Showing the setting up of an FT991, the protocols involved and format of QSOs, plus some background information on data modes. Also included was a demo of the Sotabeams WSPR Lite unit and software, along with the original WSPRnet website.
Chris M0KPW followed this with a specific look at the FT8 mode, available with version 1.8 of the WSJT-X software. Using his IC7300 and laptop Chris showed the process of setting up the mode and the ease at which QSO's can be had, across 40, 30 and 20m stations worked were CT1ERW, SP4TKR, IU4ASI, S57DD and EA5DM over a short period of time.
The evening was well attended by members of Furness ARS, plus a visiting MW6 and local SWL who were welcomed to the meeting.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway is located in the Leven Valley at the southern end of Windermere in South Cumbria. It's a historic branch line which was closed and then taken over in 1970 by a small but dedicated band of permanent staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly ever since to protect and improve the railway.
The last weekend of September saw Furness Amateur Radio Society taking part in the annual Railways on the Air event with special events station GB2LHR, operating as usual from the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway.
There were favourable conditions on the 40m band with 76 QSOs on Saturday and 58 on Sunday, totalling 134 QSOs and 12 DXCCS. The number of QSOs is down on previous years, but given the recent conditions the QSO haul was reasonable The station comprised an Icom IC7300 and 40 dipole, despite some initial generator problems all equipment worked well, with many reports of S9. If you work 10 or more fellow ROTA stations you qualify for a special certificate, Furness Amateur Radio Society was pleased to qualify again this and receive the certificate for the tenth consecutive year.
This year, in addition to the many other amateur radio stations in the UK and Europe, Furness Amateur Radio Society also made radio contact with the following railway radio stations :
GB4BCR - Babbacombe Cliff Railway in Torquay, Devon
GB0BR - Bluebell Railway in Horsted Keynes, West Sussex
GB2KDR - Dufftown railway station in Dufftown, Scotland
GB2OCG - Eastbourne Miniature Steam Railway Adventure Park in Eastbourne
GB1NYM - North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering
GB4SR - Swanage Railway in Wareham
GB0CVR - Colne Valley Railway in Castle Hedingham
EI2WSVR - Waterford and Suir Valley Railway in Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford
GB4MHR - Medstead & Four Marks Railway Station in Hampshire
GB4HMR - Hoddesdon Model & Railway Club in Broxbourne
GB0ROA – Avon Valley Railway in Bitton, Bristol
GB4HSC – Hollycombe Steam in the County in Liphook, Hampshire
GB0SRP - Shillingstone Railway Project
GB2SDR - Buckfastleigh Station, the main terminal of the South Devon Railway
Furness Amateur Radio Society has always been made very welcome by the team at Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railways and we thank them for their continued support and we look forward to returning again in 2018.
At a Furness Amateur Radio Society meeting in August, Chris M0KPW and Nick G0HIK gave a talk and presentation on their building of short boom, 2 element 6m yagi antennas. The presentation covered the theory of the antenna and the construction methods. The end results of the two antennas were the same, but it was explained that Chris used 10mm aluminium in 1m lengths that were joined together (which allows the antenna to be used portable if requited), where as Nick used 12mm aluminium in single lengths more suitable for permanent installation.
Following the presentation, one of the antennas was set up outside in the hope of working some late season QSO's. Unfortunately the band was not open, but the antenna was tested on a a host of analysers including a VNA which showed less than 1.1 SWR and an impedance of exactly 50ohms. The presentation was well received a number of club members are planning on building the antenna ready for next years 6m season.
Lighthouses on the Air... A team from Furness Amateur Radio Society set up amateur radio station GB2JMB at the Sir John Barrow Monument, know locally 'The Hoad' to help celebrate the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend held on the 3rd weekend of August each year.
Although not an official lighthouse, The Hoad is modelled on an Eddystone Lighthouse and is easily one of Cumbria's most recognisable landmarks.
An aerial was rigged to the flagpole in near gale force conditions, but thanks to some excellent rigging skills, the antenna stayed in position all day. Due to access it was only possible to operate for the one day – Saturday – but contacts were made with a number of other lighthouses on 40m and 20m including 'Naze Tower' in Walton, 'Burry Port Harbour Lighthouse' in Wales, 'Barnes Ness' in Scotland, 'Fluegge Lighthouse' and 'Wehldorf Oberfeuer' both located in Germany, 'Wadden Island' in the Netherlands and 'La Lanterna lighthouse' in Genoa, Italy
Contact was also made with two light ships in Germany, 'Lightship Elbe I - Burgemeister O"Swald II' and 'Amrumbank' which was originally built in 1914.
Contacts were also made other stations within the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Solevia. Although the monument was closed to the public on the days in question there were a number of people who took shelter from the wind and rain and the team education those interested about Amateur Radio in general and also about the Sir John Barrow Monument. It is hoped Furness Amateur Radio Society will be able to return to the site again for 2018.
In June Furness Amateur Radio Society ran their first full 2m radio Fox Hunt for a few years. Covering the SD27 square, teams set out to find the cunningly hidden fox on a glorious June evening. The winning team consisting Chris M0KPW, Martyn M0TEB and Andrew M6GUM found the fox in just under 35 minutes. Not bad for the teams first outing! A rematch is planned for later in the year.
Early July saw the annual Furness ARS summer BBQ held at the beautiful location of Gleaston Water Mill (which is also the venue for Mills on the Air earlier in the year). We were blessed with the best weather of the week and around 20 club members and family attended. There was plenty of good food and good chat, and a very enjoyable evening was had by all. The end of July also saw Furness ARS take part in a local family fun day. A demonstration station was put on and the hex beam antenna certainly drew lots of attention. Although there was a considerable amount of noise from some of the 'fun fair' activities, the station was able to make a number of QSOs into Europe and a number of people expressed an interest in the demonstrations and Amateur Radio as a whole.
Furness Amateur Radio Society again operated GB2GW for the Mills on the Air weekend from Gleaston Watermill in Gleaston village, South Cumbria. Setting up on the Friday evening went swiftly with the FARS club caravan moved into into position in front of the mill. Gleaston Watermill is owned by club member Mike, G8ALE and a large delta lop antenna is permanently installed at the location. The club has recently purchased an IC7300, and this was the rigs first official outing.
Unfortunately 40m band conditions on Saturday were so poor that only one QSO made until 2pm when the band slowly started to improve, but remaining unstable. Thanks to the persistence of operators Tom M6NER, Jim M0KYL and Mark M6ZVD the score reached the dizzy heights of 19 QSOs for day 1. All stations worked remarked on the poor conditions and the difficulty of making contacts This was markedly worse than any Special Event station for many years.
Sunday wasn't much better, but there was an improvement. The first QSOs was shortly before 10am, but progress was slow with deep QSB. During the morning an early afternoon the QSO count moved from 19 to a final of 54 (including 11 other Mill stations, which is considerably fewer than previous occasions).
As always, thanks to those who took part for all the effort over the weekend, and we look forward to the next Special Event where band conditions will hopefully be better.!
Furness Amateur Radio Society again attended the NARSA Norbreck radio rally, with a club stand demonstrating projects including ARDF receivers and beacons, Halo Antennas, and restoration of old equipment. There was a slide show of recent club activities, plus the sales of members surplus kit.
FARS were very pleased to win the Club Website Shield, which was collected by FARS secretary and webmaster Chris M0KPW. Club member Nick, G0HIK was the winner of the Bill Sparkes Construction Competition trophy, with his superbly constructed 'Paraset'. Nick used original components to build the 'Paraset' which involved scouring from rallies, the internet and his 'junk box'.
February 2016 - FARS in Northwest Evening Mail
April 2015 - FARS Members present RNLI with cheque for monies raised during SOS Week 2015
Members from Furness Amateur Radio Society presented Barrow lifeboat station with a cheque for £1020 from the monies rasied earlier in the year from the SOS radio Week
28 January 2015 - FARS in the South Lakes Citizen newspaper
24 september 2014 - birkrigg activation
In late September Furness Amateur Radio Society held an outdoor 'On Air' evening on Birkrigg Common (IO84KD) near Ulverston, Cumbria. Members met from 6pm and brought along their own equipment including an IC706 Mk IIG and FT857 along with a 20m fishing pole vertical and 40m inverted V. For VHF various hand helds were used.
Reasonably pleasant weather and band conditions were enjoyed, and the clubs call sign, GX4ARF(/P), was used. 20M QSO's were into Europe with Far East heard but unfortunately not worked. Whilst on 40m, 50 watts into the inverted V resulted in a good crop of inter G stations, including MX0LTC at the Sidmouth Observatory.
Submitted by Chris, M0KPW
20 AUgust 2014 - lighthouse on the air weekend
For the 3rd year running Furness Amateur Radio Society operated special events station GB4WIL from Walney Island Lighthouse (UK0160) in Cumbria for the International Lighthouse and Lightship weekend in July.
The current stone lighthouse, which was built in 1803, stands on the site of the previous wooden version that was built in 1790 but later destroyed by fire. Members from the club arrived on site on Friday afternoon for setting up the 40m dipole antenna and equipment to form the station from the clubs 'portable shack'. A few members stayed on site on the Friday night and enjoyed a BBQ before retiring ahead of a busy weekend of operating. More club members arrived on Saturday and Sunday to compliment the the operating timetable.
40 metres was in good shape for the weekend and a great number pile ups were worked. The total number of QSO's was 340, which included of 35 other lighthouses / light vessels.
The breakdown of QSO's was : 183 England, 21 Scotland, 18 GB calls, 6 Wales, 4 Northern Ireland, 1 Isle of Man, 36 Germany, 33 Holland, 16 Eire, 8 France, 5 Belgium, 2 Switzerland, 2 Sweden, 2 Finland, 2 Denmark and 1 Spain.
A very enjoyable weekend was had by all, and members look forward the annual Railways on the Air event in September.
View a selection of photographs from the activation
Submitted by Chris, M0KPW
30 MAY 2014 - activation of Peil Castle for CASHOTA
Members of FARS activated Peil Castle on Piel Island, Barrow In Furness, for the Castles and Stately Homes on the Air weekend of 17th and 18th May 2014 using the callsign GB2PC
Furness ARS has for many years participated in various regular events, Mills on the Air, Railways on the Air and of course the Lifeboat one. A few of us enjoying the Curry Night at Weatherspoons discussed and resolved to attempt, to activate Piel Castle for the CASHOTA weekend. There were patently many important challenges to consider , principally accommodation for a station and for operators, with tents being the obvious solution. However my son Michael advised me that one of his friends actually owned one of the Pilots’ cottages in a terrace actually on the island and thought that we would no doubt be welcome to use it.
The owner, Steve, later took us over , across the sands at low water, and showed us the house, it had everything we needed, potable water via a standpipe, fully equipped kitchen, bottled gas for cooking , beds complete with mattresses, together with a flush toilet in an outhouse, and a gas fired domestic water heater. There was even a 5 KVA or so diesel generator – a fearsome beast indeed. All that remained to organise was the carriage of the station and personnel to and from the island on the Roa Island ferry which was speedily accomplished in phone call to the operator.
The station would be comprised of M0MYK’s FT5000 and the Hex-beam, and I would supply a 40 metre coax fed dipole and FtT7900 for 2 metres, together with the Club’s 2 metre co-linear. We resolved not to use the diesel generator and take my 1 KVA portable one which I considered quite capable of running the 200 watt TX, on SSB at least.
Forces involved would initially be G3IZD, M0MYK and M6CVD, and we duly met at Roa with all the assembled kit, at midday on the Friday afternoon, and man-hauled it all down to the pier, loaded it all on the boat and unloaded it at the Piel pier and then on to the house , some 200 yards. Mark M6ZVD joined us later that afternoon at the end of his shift at the salt-mine. This took several journeys but thankfully we had borrowed a small hand-cart from Mile ALE which certainly made the task easier, the FT5000 in particular is a large and heavy brute, and we also had a considerable quantity of coax and a large reel of heavy multi core cable for the rotator. It seemed that planning and preparation paid off exceptionally well with the only missing item a 3mm to ¼ in adaptor for the footswitch which Mark produced later.
First job of course was the erection of the two antennas, with Mark and I putting up the 11m mast for the dipole and Mike and Clive the mast and rotator for the beam, which was then carefully assembled. Clive did a great job splitting the very large flat multi-core down the middle joining the two and connecting the rotator to its controller , whilst Mark was beefing up the kitchen table in order that it would take the weight of the radios, laptop, rotator controller etc. In good time all this was completed and the station was ready for testing, with the generator started, everything powered up nicely and the rotator worked correctly, however the band sounded very quiet indeed, suggesting possible faults in the coax cables. Then big signals were noted on the panoramic display and it was realised that, with no mains electricity, there was no electrical noise and the noise floor was indeed “ on the floor “, a novel experience indeed. In fact there was essentially unity SWR on all bands from forty to six metres and no ATUs employed. Conditions on the higher bands were certainly not very good but we had token QSOs on them all, duly switched off and went to the pub for evening meal such as to get back in time for the FARS HF sked, switched to forty as we had no antenna for 80. We had arranged to have all meals except breakfast to be taken at the pub, in fact Mark had previously worked with the Piel reigning “ King and Queen” . The meals were always excellent , as was the beer ( from Ulverston ) !
View a selection of photographs from the activation
Operating with the GB2PI call started the next morning at 0520 on 40 with 160 Qs in the log by 1020, so around one QSO every two minutes. The HF bands remained poor during our trip , with only one decent run, on 17 metres for 73 QSO over an hour or so. Whilst Mike, Mark and I were gathering Qs in the pile-ups Clive was dismantling a scaffold tower in the back yard which had blown over , but he did enjoying working DX when we reverted to chasing it, using our own calls, at night on return from the pub .
Final results were as follows
BAND 10 12 15 17 20 40 Total
QSOs 2 9 12 79 3 317 424
DXCC 2 8 9 28 3 17 68
Interesting DXCCs included 9H5 ,A41 ,GM/MM( Antarctic survey ship) , PR, W/K ( All call areas), VE, ER, OX, ZB2, EA8, J79 (Dominica), P4, LU, 8P ( Barbados), CO, FG, YV, JA, VK, 4L, WL7 (AL), SV8, 5B4, JA. Our last GB2PC was with YV5EPM, Venezuela, at 2137 on 20m at which time we started dismantling the station , boxing up but leaving the antennas until the next, Monday, morning. During the weekend a couple of permanent residents on Piel had offered , no insisted, on carrying all our gear back to Walney via the sands instead of using the ferry. As I had actually fixed the ferry and confirmed the time, we managed to convince them that we at least needed to put the masts on the boat. So, by 1100 the two vehicles were loaded and set off across the sands, accompanied by Mike, whilst Clive and I, with our vehicles at Roa Island anyway , caught the ferry.
Soon we all met up at Walney and put the correct gear in the correct vehicles and set off to our respective home QTHs. In summary, following much discussion and meticulous planning ! plus considerable hard work, we had a most successful and rewarding weekend with excellent weather and the friendly help and support from the island’s ( indigenous ? – maybe not ) population.
Submitted by Ivan, G3IZD
9 May 2014 - FARS Press Release
Furness Amateur Radio Society took part in fund raising during January as part of SoS week in support of Barrow RNLI. After finally collecting all the sponsorship monies, were recently able to hand over a cheque for £1000 to Shaun Charnley, the Coxswain of Barrow lifeboat. (The photo shows two Furness ARS members, Dick Smith M0RBE & David Latimer G3VUS handing over the cheque with the rest of the lifeboat crew in the background.)
Furness ARS have done this previously and in the last three years have raised £2,500 in total for the Barrow crew.
Since Furness ARS celebrated 100 years of amateur radio in Furness in 2013, we feel strong links to our local area and this is one way of demonstrating that. We also have helped local Scout groups with Jamboree on the Air stations and are taking part in the activities at Gleaston Water Mill as part of Mills weekend.
G3VUS and M0RBE present Barrow Lifeboat crew with £1000
Submitted by David Latimer