Military Style Camp at BHRS 29th-30 April
Several members having already braved the frosty conditions, camping overnight at BHRS during the May 50MHz contest. It was suggested that the exercise be repeated now that spring had finally arrived. This occasion would have a two-fold purpose, with the first being to have a totally green camp using the equipment to be deployed at forthcoming military shows. And the second to establish communications with local stations using Clansman radios and also Dr Jon Sansom M0JAO who was on Dartmoor for the weekend. This would also be good practice for the forthcoming SARS expedition to Drewsteignton, when members establish communications from Teignton Fayre to BHRS.
During the weekend and similar to a Field Day we decided to use only equipment transported to the site and not to make any use of the sites existing facilities. This meant deploying all aerials from the 8m mast on the Defender 110 and using battery power with the occasional boost from the FFR’s 24 volt 90 Amp alternator.
Arriving on site at 1600 on Friday evening the Shelter Canvas Command Post 9*9 was deployed in the very brisk wind that on one occasion threatened to lift the whole tent and frame over the radio hut! Heavy duty pegs were firmly hammered into the sites extremely hard ground and guy ropes well anchored. We did not want anything flying away during the night. This wind reminded me of the storm front that ripped through the War & Peace Revival show in 2014 a number of tents were blown completely away, some ending up close to the main railway track.
Andy and I rigged an inverted V dipole tuned for 80m to the Racal 8m mast and because of the high wind deployed all of the Guys supplied with the mast erection kit. Our intention being to be ready to call into the VMARS AM net on 3.615MHz Saturday morning at 0830. Whilst being on site from 1615 the time was approaching 2130 and it was now quite dark. Our thoughts started focussing on refreshment and selecting some suitable nourishment from the various packs of MREs available. Current issue 24hr ration packs are really excellent with both of us having a very wholesome soup before either Thai Chicken with Noodles, Lamb Rogan Josh or Chicken Panang and Rice. Boiled for several minutes in the sealed foil pack, and eaten from same saves any washing up! In the field, one can also use the boiled water to make tea or for any other purpose if fuel or water is in short supply. We stayed on watch until about 0100 when the late night caps of Laphroaig Single Malt Whisky and Grand Mariner started to have a soporific effect! Andy was also eager to retire and check out the comforts of his new Lavvu tent
Pictured above right, the ex Polish military Lavvu tent used by Andy M6GND This is in the Tipi style, made from two Ponchos that button together and suspended from a single aluminium pole. The arrangement has the advantage of being both lightweight and compact.
Saturday 30th April
Bright and early Saturday morning the wind had dropped, allowing the Racal mast to be extended to its full 8m height. I connected the Dipole to the LDG Auto-tuner and Clansman RT320 being the radio of choice for the VMARS net. However the LDG would not produce a reasonable SWR. Investigations first revealed that the coaxial cable to the centrepiece had an open circuit screen at the BNC plug. Also one of the dipole arms had gone open circuit at the connection pin. The mast was lowered with the faulty cables being replaced with spares. Hopefully all would now be well and we could call into the net, which has already started. The LDG would still not tune with further problems being identified, intermittent BNC socket on the RT320 and intermittent relay in the LDG.
Aerial connections were swapped to the VRC321 and TURF 25W in the FFR with an acceptable output being achieved on he TURF. It was now too late to call into the VMARS net so we abandoned 80m putting out a call on 51.60MHz into the EVHF. We were answered by Richard M6EYO giving us a reasonable signal using just 4W from Wannock and in the shadow of the chalk hills. Richard confirmed that Jon M0JAO was already at Dartmoor and would call us on 60m with his RT320. Dave G4XXM also called in on 51.60 again using his RT351 and giving us a 59 signal from Sovereign Harbour using the sets Battle Whip.
We were eager to see if would establish effective communications with Jon using frequencies in the 60m band and NVIS propagation. After adjusting the length of our dipole for the correct band we called M0JAO/P on 5.4005 (5.3985MHz) using the Clansman VRC321. Jon came straight back to us with a 58/59 report with his signal being 57. This was very good considering that he was only using the standard 2.5m whip aerial on the manpack. We made several frequency changes to improve QSB and avoid interference from seemingly wide data signals. Communications were generally quite solid and consistent proving the effectiveness of NVIS.
This exercise was principally to test out our equipment. As described above this revealed a number of problems that needed to be rectified before we take the show on the road at a number of Military vehicle events and Rallies in the summer months ahead.
Visit us at Capel Military show in Surrey, The Military World Show in Beltring or the Festival of Transport Hellingly.
Listen out for G8DXU/P from Dartmoor on Saturday 4th June on 7.141MHz USB (7.143 on Clansman) at 1500 local time.