Month: August 2018

LEFARS and SNBCG Big Radio Weekend

Once a year the LEFARS crew and SNBCG come together at the Secret Nuclear Bunker Kelvedon Hatch for a big radio weekend.

It’s the last chance to play some radio over a bank holiday weekend in 2018 before winter arrives!

On Saturday we had a BBQ for 25 people, giving everyone a chance to catch up over a burger.

The radio was split into a number of tents, VHF/UHF and 50 and 70 Mhz for LEFARS, with SNBCG running 2 HF stations. George M1GEO looked after the triband beam 14/21/28 MHz while I concentrated on 7 MHz using my vertical.

Band conditions could best be described as variable, at times allowing some big DX to be worked, and at other times presenting no signals at all due to a solar storm.

7 MHz on FT8 mode on HF helped work in the poor conditions, allowing me to work several stations from Indonesia, Brazil, West Malaysia, Argentina, Cuba, Australia, Oman, China and Arizona USA. Not bad for a 7 MHz vertical antenna with elevated radials.

I took the drone up to capture some nice aerial shot of the setup.

We had attendees from lots of local clubs including Camb-Hams, Essex Ham, LEFARS, SNBCG. A very well attended event, really nice to see everyone having fun and enjoying both the social and radio event.


HF fun with the 18 MHz beam

The addition of a beam on HF never ceases to bring a smile to ones face, the addition of a linear amplifier is often enough to create a pile-up.

If you look around at some of the amateur radio publications you will often see people complaining about the conditions or the lack of propagation. Undoubtedly we are at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, and HF propagation is much more of a challenge than sunspot maximum, but you would be forgiven for thinking  HF was dead.

Home for the weekend

The truth is even in this solar minimum it’s still possible to work DX, all be it you will need to try a little harder. If possible I try to use a beam, and the addition of a linear but you still need to be able to hear the lower powered stations.

The transceiver was a newly purchased Icom 7300, second hand but in excellent condition. The radio performed flawlessly and often had to cope with multiple stations calling simultaneously.

At times it was hard to work out what JA I was working at any given time!


Last weekend team SNBCG decided to have a weekend of radio fun on 144 MHz MS and 18 MHz HF. I operated the HF station, while George M1GEO operated MS.

The beam is a DK7ZB design, you can read about the construction project in this article.

FT8 was the favoured mode, giving me the best chance to work some DX.

Over the course of the next few hrs I decoded a large volume of exotic calls, not all working me but it did demonstrate what is possible with a reasonable setup.


25 USA, 42 JA (Japan), not forgetting to mention XE (Mexico), BD (China), FR (Reunion Island) and ZS (South Africa)

As traditional with field days, they often finish in VU.