We arrived at the Hellingly Festival of Transport site on the Friday afternoon, with plenty of time to set up our camp and radio display before the public opening on Saturday.
I located the Marshal for the military section and discussed where I should establish my display. I also sought permission to erect an aerial along the back row of the vehicle line. What I did not tell them was that the aerial was an 80 metre dipole supported by two 5.4 metre Clansman masts! The aerial now spanned about 3/4 of the length of the entire 2nd row of vehicles. I considered the aerial to be an impressive backdrop to the military vehicle display but perhaps not all of the owners of other vehicles appreciate the intrinsic beauty of aerials!
We erected our tent, Shelter Canvas Command Post MkII 9″9 feet and proceeded to unload the rest of the camping and display equipment. The Ground Mounted Monopole (Washing line aerial) was deployed at the rear of the display. The Monopole looks like something out of the cold war period and was to be used for local VHF contacts from a PRC352.
The RACAL 8 Metre mast carried the Elevated VHF (Pineapple) as the main VHF aerial. Unfortunately this could not be deployed to its full height as one of the guys would have to be placed within the vehicle access area.
Early on Saturday morning initial tests with the RT321 HF 40 Watt pep AM/SSB transceiver on 80 metres were encouraging but there was a high level of atmospheric noise. At 0830 local time there were a good number of stations on the VMARS AM net on 3.615MHz. The control station, Martin GW8TBG was only 5&7 but Martin M0MGA in Hampshire was putting out an impressive 5&9 signal from his 12 Set and R107 receiver. G1RAF was 5&9 using a PRC320, Bob G6AVI using a MiniMitter was 5&8 from Norfolk and Jonathan G8URE 5&9 from his WS19 High Power in Chichester. Due to the noise and QSB I decided to leave this band until later in the morning.
There was a lot of interest in my display of the entire range of Clansman portable sets, with one ex soldier keen to try on the PRC352, SURF 4W and carrier GS reminding him of time in Northern Ireland. Apparently whilst the radio weighs in at a mere 11.71kg also carrying the required two or three spare batteries at 3.54kg each bought back some unpleasant memories!
Saturday passed very quickly with little time for active radio contacts other than demonstrations to interested members of the public. Jon M0JAO/P called in on 3.615MHz AM using a very good example of the Larkspur Station Radio C12 fitted in his excellent 1948 Series One Land Rover.
The excellent weather that we had enjoyed on Saturday continued bringing many visitors to see the Steam engines classic vehicle displays and trade stands.
The first station worked was GB100MWT on 3.615MHz AM with operator Peter, this special event callsign was from the Marconi museum in Chelmsford. After a quick change of microphone at my end to rectify a report of low modulation, signal reports were 5&9 both ways. GB100MWT was using an old RAF T1154 Transmitter with matching R1155 receiver from the old city waterworks. The 100W RF and high level modulation from the T1154 delivered a very impressive signal. The Marconi factory was based in Chelmsford and the museum houses examples of ships radio equipment dating back to the days of the Titanic..
Following our ethos of continuing to test Clansman equipment under field conditions Andy M6GND had offered to call my station from Beachy head using his PRC320 in tactical mode. Quite simply this involved powering the set from its own battery and using the standard 2.5 metre whip aerial. We had arranged schedules on a variety of bands starting with our old favourite, Top Band on 1.981MHz (1983kHz on Clansman dial due to 2kHz carrier Offset)
I called Andy on Top Band at 1432z using the 80m dipole connected to the RT321 in the vehicle. Andy came straight back with a 5/9 report for my SSB transmission. Considering the inefficiency of Andy’s whip aerial on 160m his report of a good readable 5/6 was actually very good. We did change to AM, but as anticipated our signals deteriorated by one or two S points, we continued communications on this band for fifty minutes. Next we changed frequency to 3.633MHz avoiding existing traffic upwards from 3.615MHz. My signals were again 5/9 with Andy’s report improving to 5/8. Band conditions on 80m had improved considerably and we were treated to a clear channel for the rest of our communications. We made a further schedule for early evening to continue tests on various other frequencies.
After closing with M6GND/P and still on 3.633MHz I was called by GB100MWT with a strong but rather strange sounding signal. I explained to operator James that we had already worked earlier but further exchanges were most welcome. I then realised that James was using AM and we were still on SSB (Upper Side Band), switching to AM on the RT321 made a vast improvement in the speech quality!
It was good to see a number of friends during the day including Simon G4BJP and share a few stories over a cup of MOD issue tea. This is not quite the evil brew it used to be, with the current ration packs now being stocked with packets of Typhoo!
Food was now also on the agenda and for the duration of this event we had decided to try some of the latest Meals Ready to Eat (MRE). This was mainly to simplify the catering and to better simulate field conditions. I will be reporting on the MREs in a later Blog which I hope may be of interest to those planning field trips.
The next scheduled contact with Andy was at 1930 local time, again starting with the tried and tested 1981kHz. Andy was there right on time with a slightly better 5/6-7 report. We had previously arranged to give 10 metres a try and changed frequency to 28.314MHz (Clansman 28.316) SSB. I changed over from the dipole to the 4 metre whip on the FFR and adjusted the Tuning and Matching on the Tuner RF250W. Andy reported my signals as 5/9+ and was very pleased to receive a 5/9 report on his signals. We changed to AM with my signal dropping a little in strength and Andy giving me a respectable S 5/7 on A3E.
The RT320 probably comes into its own for ground wave working around 10m as the standard whip is almost exactly 1/4 of a wavelength long. The final change of frequency was to 21.151MHz (21.153) using SSB, again signals were very good with Andy’s report rising to 5/8 This is probably due to better aerial efficiency at my station with the 4m antenna being close to 1/4 wave on 15 metres. After some very pleasant exchanges on everything Clansman we finally closed the net at 2009 ( UTC)
This probably does not need any further comment than to say that the weather was awful.
I normally stay to the end of most events but could see that things were not going well for the organizers when the military section marshals packed up their tent at 1100
Apart for getting wet when packing up the equipment, this was another well organized and very enjoyable event.