BHRS – As Barry G8DXU was spending the weekend on Dartmoor we planned to attempt Clansman to Clansman contact between Dartmoor and Beachy Head, a distance of around 200 miles (320km), for this we decided to enlist the services of the PRC320 using the AM mode.
I had earlier had grandiose plans of deploying the 5.4M Clansman mast with a dipole but, by the time the day’s business had been resolved I had only enough time to use the recommended 18.5 metres of the supplied long wire running horizontally about 2 metres off the ground and tied off on a fence post about 25 metres away. I anchored the other end of the antenna with a piece of string tied to the 320’s case which took the strain easily, which says something about the weight of this kit!
Our Schedule was to start at 17.00 BST on 3.615Mhz and then move to 7.143Mhz and finally to 14.286Mhz at agreed times if no contact made.
The weather, despite a very thundery start which included a downpour, had turned out warm and sunny with a light SE wind and clear blue sky. The rain had cleared the air and you could see all the way along the coast to Selsey Bill about 50 miles (80km) distant.
I tuned up and listened in at 5pm on the dot, the thunder was clearly still around as I could hear almost continuous deafening static crashes through the handset, I called out several times, occasionally hopping up to 3.625Mhz but heard nothing. As arranged I then moved up to 7.143Mhz, tuned up and listened in, the noise was horrendous, there was a lot of SSB activity and the atmospheric noise was only slightly more tolerable than the 80m band. I called out a few times and was eventually rewarded with hearing my callsign repeated back to me along with Barry’s! I could only just hear him and large parts of his over faded into the noise but we were able to agree to QSY down a couple of Khz where it was little quieter. After we exchanged reports we decided to decamp up to 20m and try 14.286Mhz, unfortunately an italian SSB station had got there first and there was no way we were able to make contact.
I then switched back to previous frequencies in an attempt to re-establish contact but to no avail. I did however chat with Mervyn GW8TBG on 3.615Mhz AM who was located 10 miles north of Swansea in Wales (also around 200 miles away), Mervyn very patiently deciphered my very poor signal, though his to me using his Collins was a very respectable 5/7 considering the extreme static crashes almost continuously battering our ears.
Interestingly Mervyn had also had a QSO earlier with Barry G8DXU, hopefully Barry’s signal was better than mine otherwise Mervyn will get a very poor opinion of Clansman 320s. We QRP Portable operators sometimes forget the patience, skill and forbearance required by our fellow hams to pull our weak and feeble signals out of the static!
Those of you that know us will be aware that our aim in the ‘Green Wing’ of SARS is to use our Clansman radios to their fullest extent, testing whether they live up to their reputation for reliability and performance. I think that today the two portable battery powered PRC320s on AM used with the supplied kevlar longwire antenna proves that meaningful comms is possible over a couple of hundred miles in very poor conditions and that therefore, in my humble opinion, this 30 year old equipment still rocks.
BHRS is manned most Wednesdays and Saturdays (15.00-18.00 BST or thereabouts), usually, at least once a month, the Saturday will be an all-day affair. All SARS club members are very welcome to come along to chat, mock or play with their own or our radios, whether Military, Vintage or not! Full mains power is available from the generator as are primitive but effective tea making facilities.
If you are a non-member and wish to get involved then have a word with a committee member and I’m sure arrangements will swiftly be made to accommodate you and of course we welcome reports from anybody that hears us!
We usually monitor and call out on several bands:-
80m 3.615Mhz & 3.625Mhz AM
40m 7.143Mhz AM
20m 14.286Mhz AM
6m 51.600Mhz FM
4m 70.450 FM
2m 145.500Mhz FM
If you hear us then all reports from anywhere, near or far, from experienced or inexperienced operators are most welcome,