Winter Camp (7th to 8th January) 2017
The GB2GP station at Winter Camp was a great success. We had our usual shack in the Gidney Cabin at Gilwell Park, but this year, for the first time ever, we ran a fully remote station. This consisted of two radios – a Kenwood TS-2000 and a Kenwood TS-480 – running remotely across the IP network on the site. We decided to go for a safe but effective configuration in order to maximise our effectiveness without needing physical access to the radios at any point. To that end we opted for the TS-2000 to run on 40m and 80m, using the Optibeam OB2-40 for 40m fed via the Acom amplifier, and 80m fed directly into the custom built dipole. Both feeds were filtered to eliminate cross-talk from the TS-480 in close proximity. We opted for 20m on the TS-480, fed via the SP Expert amplifier, again filtered to avoid crosstalk, into the A3S beam. We then added, during the weekend, an SDR displaying local aircraft traffic, which in true amateur style had an ‘alternative’ antenna – in this case the frame of a metal tent outside the shack.
Throughout the course of the weekend we made 144 contacts across 3 bands, and even had a broadcast from GB2RS on the Sunday morning to listen to!
Our operators also ensured, when not operating, that the fire was kept going all weekend. This kept the shack at a very pleasant temperature, and we were able to enjoy operating in comfort. Oh, and we kept the obligatory station log – pictures below.
GB2GP Station Log:
The fire burning away to keep the shack warm:
Aircraft tracking screen:
SDR receive antenna for aircraft tracking:
The full tent used for receiving aircraft beacons:
Kieran, John and Paul getting some QSOs in the log:
Sian and Dave getting some more QSOs in the log:
Winter Camp is Coming!
Over the last few weeks, many hours of preparation have been performed by Steve (M0BPQ) with assistance from John (2E0XLX). Circuitry has been built, tweaked, faults have been diagnosed and rectified, further faults have been introduced, diagnosed and rectified, and extensive testing has been performed. Steve even managed to find time during this to collect a wheelbarrow full of wood ready for the operators to use at Winter Camp (no, not for the station log, but for the wood burner inside the cabin we will be operating from). As always, we’re pushing the limits of our skills, equipment and most of all time constraints, and for the first time we hope to have dual rigs, an amplifier and rotators all controlled remotely from the opposite end of the site!
As always, the fun will continue this week with the finishing touches being made, some more crazy ideas, plenty of extensive testing and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of luck.
Come and find us at the Gidney Cabin on the Training Field at Gilwell Park Winter Camp 2017!!!
Post JOTA Maintenance, and CQWW CW (26th to 27th November) 2016
Following the fantastic success of JOTA, there have been a couple of maintenance weekends occurring at GB2GP. The first of these was the weekend after JOTA, involving some maintenance on the mobile tower (including dropping the antenna off to replace a section of the tower, and rebuilding it again properly). The second of these weekends was the same weekend as CQWW CW, which although GB2GP did not enter, provided a fantastic test-bed for the 40m optibeam to ensure everything was put back together properly. Unfortunately we identified a fault in the coax (the plug not being attached properly) which meant we spent the first evening of CQWW testing with the dipole. 87 countries in a matter of hours seemed a pretty good run for the dipole, and Steve was very pleased with that result. The maintenance continued Sunday morning (when we eventually located the dodgy plug and replaced it), and having confirmed that the coax was now sound all the way through, along with the rotator cable being correctly installed all the way back to the shack, we were able to give the beam a bit of a shake-down. Another few countries were added to the list giving a very respectable number worked for Steve with minimal air-time.
We also joined the Saturday morning HF Scout Net, which involved a rather nice chat with two other Radio Scouters. 40m was hopeless for the morning net, but 80m was absolutely amazing and we had armchair copies throughout.
The station now has the OB2-40 ‘installed’ for the winter on the mobile tower, which is parked up and cabled in completely. Another tick in another box for GB2GP!
The beam, up and running:
And back down, in the low light:
JOTA is coming!!
After a weekend of hard work, our latest aerial is up and ready for the JOTA weekend here at GB2GP. We now have a 2 element beam to work on the 7Mhz radio band to go with our 16 element beam on the other HF bands… This should help us be heard a bit further afield! Thanks to Steve, John and Frank for getting the mobile tower back up and running and ready for a weekend of visitors and radio contacts!
Do visit the home page to see the frequencies we are operating on in real time during the JOTA weekend.
Our data radio station is also up and running and listening to JT-65 this week prior to JOTA…
To see where we’ve heard stations, visit
the PSK Reporter Map
Gilwell 24 (9th to 10th July) 2016
Gilwell 24 arrived, and with it a large number of 14-18 year old Explorer Scouts (and their accompanying leadership teams). This is one of GB2GP’s biggest events in the year, and this year was no exception! In addition to the large number of young people on site, there was also the IARU contest running on the air, meaning no shortage of contacts to make, but very few longer conversations. Propagation was reasonable for DX work, but inter-G was terrible due to the conditions. We ran a two-rig station for this event – the standard TS-590S ‘contest set-up’ (complete with SDR-IQ panadapter and Acom 1000 amplifier), and the TS2000 hooked up to the Kenwood TL-922 amplifier. In the same room, we had Philip Crump and his high altitude balloon set-up, which we tracked with great interest and which almost reached the Netherlands before landing approx 15-20km offshore in the North Sea. We also had an aircraft tracking display set up using our discone antenna and an SDR, along with some transistor radio kits being built by the young people (and not many burnt fingers along the way)! In the second classroom, we had a television studio set up, complete with autoprompt and green screen, run by the British Amateur Television Club (BATC) with Frank, M0AEU and Dave, G8GKQ. This proved a popular activity too, with many young people reading the weather forecast – perhaps some of them will end up on the BBC one day! Station operators were M6ZSA, 2E0XLX, GW7VJK, M0BPQ and M0MBD.
Explorer Scouts preparing to read the weather on TV!
Playback monitor showing the green screen result to the presenter.
An Explorer Scout busy building a transistor radio kit
His Majesty the King of Spain SSB Contest (25th to 26th June) 2016
Another new contest for the GB2GP contest team, but much smaller than previous ones entered during the year so far. The station was entered into the ‘Multi-Multi DX All’ category, allowing multiple operators, multiple radios, and all bands. In total we logged just short of 500 contacts, which wasn’t bad considering we had a rotator failure on the OB16-3 tower. The majority of the contacts came in on 20m, with 15m and 40m being our strongest other bands. 10m wasn’t up to much due to the propagation (or lack of), but we did manage to work EF0F (the King of Spain’s station) on 10m, 15m, 20m and 40m throughout the weekend. Below you can see our station set-up, which consisted of the trusty Kenwood TS-590S, Acom 1000 amplifier, SDR-IQ being used as a panadapter through HDSDR, N1MM Logger+ for logging and rotator control for the Optibeam OB16-3 atop the P80 Versatower. As with all ‘working stations’, there’s the customary screwdriver, miscellaneous tools, and obligatory bottle of Vimto (though other soft drinks are available…) in the corner to keep the operators going! Station operators were 2E0XLX and M0BPQ.
The station set-up used by GB2GP during the King of Spain SSB contest 2016
Beaver and Cub Fun Days (18th to 19th June) 2016
This year’s Beaver and Cub Fun Days saw approx. 6000 young people take to Gilwell Park during the weekend. As is customary for this event, the GB2GP team put on a strong show, providing both an amateur radio demonstration station and a radio orienteering course using two beacons. In keeping with the theme for this year’s event, the beacons were placed with two ‘animals’ that had been ‘lost’ around the campsite – Billy the Goat and Tony the Tiger! A lot of young people helped us to find these two lost animals, and duly returned with their cards punched to prove they’d found them. This year’s demonstration station consisted of two radios – the Kenwood TS-590S (thanks to M0BPQ) and a Yaesu FT-857D (courtesy of 2E0XLX). The TS-590S was connected to a band switcher for the HF antennas, allowing use of the A3S on 10m, 15m and 20m, the dipole on 40m and 80m, and the OB16-3, although this was not used much due to ongoing maintenance on the tower and rotator it is attached to. The FT-857D was mostly used on 2m on our co-linear, up at about 80 feet. The weekend proved to be good for maintenance too, with repairs being carried out to the OB16-3 rotator, coax being re-dressed on its tower, a 2m yagi getting installed, and the 80m vertical antenna installation being completed including tuning. Station operators were M6ZSA, 2E0SWE, 2E0JPM, 2E0XLX, M0AEU, M0BPQ, G3WNS, G7BIV and G8AKU. Maintenance work was mostly performed by 2E0JPM, 2E0XLX and M0BPQ.
CQ WPX SSB Contest (26th to 27th March) 2016
The CQ WPX SSB contest came around fairly soon after ARRL DX, and once again GB2GP took to the air. Special calls are not only allowed in this contest, but are encouraged, as the multipliers are scored using callsign prefixes. This meant that it was an ideal opportunity to give the callsign another airing. The team was much smaller this time, and we ran a single radio for the weekend – the trusty Kenwood TS-590S. This was hooked up to the Acom 1000 again, but was this time augmented by an SDR-IQ and the associated signal-splitting hardware, allowing us to run it as a panadapter to make life easier for the operators. Antennas used were the OB16-3 on 10m, 15m and 20m and the dual-band dipole on 40m and 80m. We were fortunate enough to be visited by another operator from Germany, who was in England anyway for a few weeks and wanted to get some radio time in. His extensive experience with contesting not only helped the score, but also allowed others to learn some better techniques for operating effectively. Operators were DJ9AO, 2E0XLX and M0BPQ.
ARRL DX SSB Contest (20th to 21st February) 2016
The GB2GP contest team took to the airwaves for the third year running for ARRL DX SSB – this time with a slightly bigger station and a few extra visiting operators. We had the ‘full might’ of the GB2GP antenna array this year – an OB16-3 at approx. 80 feet and an A3S at approx. 100 feet for 10m, 15m and 20m, a 3 element set of phased verticals for 40m and a dual-band dipole for both 40m and 80m. Rigs used were a Kenwood TS-590S and a Flex 6300 (thanks to F5VAI for bringing this over from France for us to play with!), both connected to amplifiers – one Kenwood TL-922 and one Acom 1000. This meant the team could run on two bands simultaneously, which proved invaluable during the weekend. The bands were hard work for most of the weekend, although we had a nice lift on Sunday afternoon on 10m which allowed us to get a good run in during the pre-aurora enhancement. Then the aurora kicked in, and ended our weekend a few hours early. Operators were F5VAI, 2E0ELW, 2E0SWE, 2E0XLX, M0BPQ, M0LRE and M0THM. Massive congratulations to Sian and John, who both passed their foundation licences earning new M6 callsigns on the Sunday afternoon, running in the second classroom alongside the contest!
GB2GP at Winter Camp (8th to 10th January) 2016
For Winter Camp 2016 we ran a modest station – a Kenwood TS2000 connected to a double-sized G5RV hung up across the “training ground” field. Maximum power output was 100W, and this was primarily used for SSB. In parallel we had remote control of a small data station near the South coast, run by its owner who came to visit us. During the weekend we made a good number of contacts (circa 100 or so), and our youngest operators did the bulk of the work during the weekend. Operators for the event were 2E0ELW, 2E0JPM, 2E0SWE, 2E0XLX, M0AEU, M0BPQ, M0LRE, and we were assisted by a very keen (but as yet unlicensed) logger, Sian.