Stuart's Ham Radio Page - Callsigns G1IDE, M3IDE & now MØSAR

 

My name is Stuart A. Roy and my home QTH is near Woking in the county of Surrey, UK, about 20 miles south-west of London.

I joined the Radio Society of Great Britain in December 1983, just ahead of passing the UK Radio Amateur's Examination in May, 1984. The specially requested call-sign (see later) - G1IDE - was issued in August,1984. It was a UK class 'B' (no morse code) licence, and I was therefore restricted to VHF only (above 30 MHz) - no HF operation was allowed. My first rig was a Yaesu FT-290R, which I still have to this day. It went everywhere with me. It was my mobile, portable and base station rig - all 2.5 watts of it! I did eventually buy a small P.A. which boosted the output to a whopping 16 watts. Suffice it to say, I never made any world DX records with it.

In 1998 I suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, through no fault of mine. After a claim against the other driver's insurers, I received a small (by today's standards) payout, and decided to treat myself to a proper base station rig. After a lot of umm-ing and arr-ing between the Yaesu FT-847 and the Icom IC-746, I eventually chose the FT-847 as it covered from DC to light, all in one box. It would make for a neat installation in the 'hobby' corner of the marital bedroom. At the same time, I bought an SGC-231 SmarTuner and used it with a simple long-wire antenna (that wasn't very long!). Due to the poor antenna performance, I was not overly active on-air over the years, but enjoyed listening a lot. In mid-2002, I got divorced, so, having moved QTH, was able to indulge in the hobby more without getting nagged all the time.

I attended the Colchester Rally and did a morse assessment, which entitled me to apply for a UK Foundation licence which I then held for a year from July 2002 - I had the call-sign M3IDE. This was a restricted HF licence with a maximum power limit of 10 watts and no 10m operation. I had a number of very enjoyable HF QSO's with the restricted power, but continued to use the G1IDE call when on VHF, as it allowed full power. I usually signed M3IDE/M/QRP when operating on HF mobile - it's amazing how people always seem to hear you if you sign /QRP, whereas they seem to be deaf if you don't!

I love CW, having had a couple of morse practice sets made by my dad back in the late 1950's, from war surplus stock. I never got up any speed at all, but always listened to the CW end of the band - it was (and still is) music to my ears. Due to constant barracking from members of my radio club who also love CW, I was determined to get the magic certificate that showed that I'd passed a morse test. I made a concerted effort to get up to the required 5 wpm during the winter nights of 2002/2003 and passed the test on 2nd February 2003 at what turned out to be the last RSGB Morse Camp at the Potters Bar HQ. Phew - what a relief! It only took me about 43 years to get up to 5 wpm, so I've figured out that I should make 12 wpm by the time I'm about 130 - that's something for us all to look forward to, isn't it?!

So, having now got the requisite morse certificate for a full 'A' class licence, I requested and was issued the (vanity) callsign - MØSAR - Mike Zero Stuart Anthony Roy (or "Search And Rescue" as I sometimes used when operating /MM).

As widely expected, the 2003 World Conference did away with the morse requirement for access to the HF bands. The distinction between class 'A' and class 'B' licences in the UK was removed, so I can now use my original G1IDE call on all amateur bands. However, many countries still require a morse test pass before allowing operation on the HF bands, so I've decided to use my Class 'A' licence - MØSAR - just about full-time now. Once in a blue moon, I air the G1IDE call on VHF, for old time's sake.

Equipment Upgrade Time

I had been wanting an IC-756 Pro III for a long time, but never quite made the decision to buy. When I finally did decide the time was right, in November 2008, Icom had announced a new transceiver - the IC-7600 - but with no due date for release. It was obvious that this model was to be a replacement for the 756 series, which had been around in various forms for a considerable while and was due a make-over. The IC-7800 top-of-the-range big brother (with twin receivers - and a price tag of some £6400) and the mid-range IC-7700 (its sibling with just the one receiver and a correspondingly smaller price tag of around £4500), had been out for quite a while, so it seemed logical to bring in the IC-7600 as a low-range option. With the world-wide recession beginning to bite, prices from Japan were set to rocket and the IC-7600 was mooted to be priced at around £3200, so in the end, I opted to pay a little bit more and purchased the Icom IC-7700 at the beginning of December 2008. It is one heck of a rig, but I'm enjoying finding out what all the buttons and menu options do!

For VHF/UHF, I only have a 6m/2m/70cm co-linear antenna up at present, but have a dual-band 9/19 element Tonna crossed yagi waiting to be installed, together with a 5-el 6m yagi. I use the FT-847 just about exclusively for VHF & UHF now, at which it excels.

In May 2002, I bought an Icom IC-706Mk2G for mobile and portable use. It is semi-permanently installed in the boot (trunk) of the car, with the head remotely mounted near the automatic gear-shift. I carry separate 80m, 40m, 20m, 17m and 6m whips which mount on the hatchback lip. I've got the bits together to make a Texas Bugcatcher look-alike, with the intention of mounting my 8-foot Shakespeare fibreglass whip on it. It'll look impressive - whether it'll work OK remains to be seen. I'm not so sure that I'll be able to use it whilst moving either - I think it'll have too much wind loading at motorway speeds!

I tended to do most of my operating whilst /M - finding it so much more enjoyable than listening to the broadcast radio in the car. I had a 22 mile journey to work which took anything up to an hour, so tuning around and operating - usually on 20m or 40m - passed the time for me. Since 2010, my latest car, a Toyota Prius, is not suitable for mounting aerials on, so I've given up mobile ops until I can find a workaround!

I enjoy kite-flying and sailing. In true amateur style, I like anything where you get something for free - in this case, the wind! I have hoisted top-band quarter-wave vertical wires aloft from the kite and I used a 26-ft wire - held up by an eight-metre long fibreglass roach pole - when on the yacht. With both these setups, I use the SGC coupler as it makes tuning-up so easy! I've had good DX from the yacht when off the south coast of England - both Japan and Florida have been worked on 17m. By the way, there's no extensive (expensive?) 'earth system' on the yacht. Mine consists of an eight-foot bit of (earth!) wire soldered to a six-inch square off-cut of double-sided PCB, which I throw overboard and trail in the water behind the yacht! High-tech or what? Most importantly though, it obviously works!

I am the treasurer of the Echelford Amateur Radio Society (EARS) based in Ashford, Surrey, UK, and I'm the web-master for its website - http://beam.to/ears

I've given a few talks to the club - (1) unconventional HF operating - including my introduction to radio as a youngster, (2) a demonstration of PSK-31, (3) kite-lifted antennas (which I've also given to the Burnham Beeches RC and the Guildford and District Radio Society) and (4) Radio-controlled clocks & watches (also given to GDRS).

I'm not into collecting QSL cards and I no longer receive cards via the Bureau. If you want to send direct, please e-mail me for details of my address. I use LoTW, eQSL.cc and ClubLog now.

Hope to catch you on-air some time.

Very 73 - Stuart


Some of my Main Station equipment

As mentioned above, I started off with the Yaesu FT-847.

After joining various discussion groups on the 'net, it became apparent that a number of amateurs were having problems with the power switch, which became intermittent in operation and eventually failed. The problem was determined to be the power in-rush at switch-on causing the fragile switch contacts to gradually burn out. A number of enterprising amateurs just parallelled-up the spare contacts on the On/Off switch to give their rig a new lease of life, but of course, it didn't eliminate the problem. Eventually, Yaesu issued a mod. to fix the issue. Here is a scanned in copy (of a pretty awful original) of the official FT-847 power switch mod., as supplied directly to me by Yaesu UK.

Page 1 shows where the resistor has to be soldered on the AF Control board. Don't forget to sleeve the wires to ensure that there's no inadvertant short-circuiting.

Page 2 shows the board turned over to reveal the track that requires cutting (basically, of course, you're inserting the resistor in that track.)

Page 3 shows the board that's behind the front panel - the one that the power switch is mounted on. You're just parallelling-up the unused contacts, to save actually having to replace the switch itself.

I was lucky in that I hadn't got to the stage where the contacts had actually burned out. I bought a new switch (not that I needed it, but as a 'just in case') direct from Yaesu U.K. and asked them for the mod. It requires a 10 ohm 1 watt resistor, a steady hand to wield a small knife to cut a PCB track, and the willingness to slightly dismantle the rig and do a bit of soldering. It's a number of years since I did the mod, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, my memory is not good, so I can't give you step-by-step instructions now. Suffice it to say that it took me no more than an hour in total, from preparing to take the lid off, to the time it was screwed back on again.

(Late 2009: Having had the rig apart again to replace the key socket which had disintegrated, I made some more notes on the power switch mod. Remove the bottom of the case. Undo the screws which hold the power cables, and remove the power socket by sliding it out. Undo the nine circuit board mounting screws, noting that two of them hold down the cable loom restrainers. Undo the three longer screws which hold down the power devices - you'll need some heat-sink compound when re-assembling. Unplug the three RF cables, noting their positions. Carefully lift the circuit board and turn it over. Solder in the sleeved 10-ohm 1-watt resistor. Turn the board back over. Near the main fuse, cut the track carefully. Parallel-up the contacts of the main switch on the front panel. Reassemble.)

 

 

This is my best acquisition (Dec 2008) ... which I'm still learning to drive! I've started to use a desk mic now - an Icom SM-8.

I've also purchased an Icom-7600 for use when doing competitions (as /MM) on board my friend Roger's catamaran. He's licensed as 2E0RFB - I do wish he'd get round to doing the Advanced exam and get a proper licence! I also use the 7600 for 'portable' field-day-type operations.

I eventually succumbed to pressure from G4CCZ, and bought an SPE Expert 1K-FA solid-state linear. It didn't get much use, sadly, due to antenna restrictions at the home QTH, so I reluctantly sold it - and immediately regretted doing so. Suffice it so say I now have a 1.3K-FA!

Spring 2014 - acquired an Elecraft K2/100 with 160m and SSB boards.

 

Antennas:

I have a relatively small plot, so big antennas are out of the question. For the last few years, I use my SG-230 at the bottom of the garden, driving a 75' inverted-L which comes back to the house and down to an old tree stump in my front garden. It tunes all bands, but is a compromise on all of them. I also have an open-wire fed loaded doublet with 60' span that is optimised for 80m. I'm intending to make a nest of dipoles for the higher bands.

I bought a Sandpiper MV-10 (all-band vertical) in 2009, but found that signals were consistently 10dB or more down than on the SG-231/inverted-L setup, so I'm not using it.

I bought a 12m SCAM pump-up mast and a Hexbeam for 40-10m operation, but no sooner had I put it up in the garden than I had a visit from the local Council planning officer, who forced me to take it down again (Spring 2012).

In early 2014, I was given an old Cushcraft R7 vertical, which is giving good service on 40-10m.

I have re-arranged my random wire, and with a couple of dog-legs in it, I now have about 123ft of wire in the air. It seems to perform better, so I'm pleased with it.

 

Accessories:

I have a number of MFJ's accessories; MFJ-969 DeLuxe Versa Tuner II, MFJ-259B Antenna Analyser, MFJ-492 Memory Keyer, MFJ-461 Pocket CW Reader, MFJ-902 and MFJ-971 Portable Antenna Tuners. You'll notice that I haven't (yet) had a problem with MFJ, unlike some people! I've even got the MFJ-931 Artificial Earth, too.

I have a couple of other antenna analysers, too. A YouKits FG-01, which is great to use but the batteries last no time at all, and my favourite - the RigExpert AA-54.

Morse Keys: Kent Straight Key, Kent single-paddle, Kent twin-paddle, Vibroplex Square Racer Paddle, Bencher BY2 paddle, Palm Pilot portable paddle and my favourites - a Lennart Pettersson & Co Swedish Key (s/no 5723) and a Schurr Morsetasten Profi-2 twin-paddle key. I also have a NATO key which I've used mostly when afloat.

I've changed all my various power connections over to 30-Amp Anderson PowerPoles in an attempt to standardise the connections.

 

/QRP & /P

I enjoy QRP operation too, so have the ubiquitous Yaesu FT-817 (with BHI DSP module) and an SG-211 battery-powered auto ATU, together with the versatile SuperAntenna MP-1 system. I also have a PAR End-Fedz 40m/20m/10m end-fed 1/2-wave, which requires no radials.

(Spring 2010 - I'm using the FT-817 for WSPR - I'm amazed that I can be heard in Australia & New Zealand using just 1/2 watt!)

Of course, I have the obligatory array of VHF/UHF hand-helds, including a Yaesu VX-5E, too.

 

/KITE

It's amazing how stations come back to you in a pile-up if you can sign /KITE.

I have a number of kites that I lift wires up with - my favourites are the self-inflating parafoil types, although I've acquired three spar-type kites which work well. I tried a bit of aerial (hi, hi) photography from a kite, too, but need to improve the system stability dramatically.

 

Home QTH details:

Maidenhead Locator: IO91ri

Lat/Long of my mast (from Google Earth, using WGS84 datum): 51.349154 N, -0.504537 W (51° 20.945' N, 0° 30.272' W or 51° 20' 56.95" N, 0° 30' 16.34" W).

OSGB36 conversion: 51°20'55.07"N, 000°30'10.73"W
OSGB NGR: TQ 0424 6218 to nearest 10 metres

CQ Zone: 14

ITU Zone: 27

IOTA: EU-005 Gt. Britain

WAB: Square - TQ06; Admin - Runnymede; County - Surrey.


My QSL Card

Why did I specially request the callsign G1IDE? Well, I was looking for something slightly out of the ordinary for my QSL card. I love flying (no, not in commercial jets, but REAL aircraft like Cessnas and Piper Cubs, or Pitts Specials & Extra L300s that you can do aerobatics in), and did some glider flying at Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire, UK, in the mid-1970's. Some years later, I received a sales brochure from the gliding club in which was a super professionally-taken photograph depicting my favourite glider of the time, flying over the landmark white horse which is carved in the hill-side there.

I wrote to the photographer and obtained his permission (and a complimentary 10" x 8" print) to use that photograph on my QSL card. I have my callsign printed in lower-case lettering -'g1ide'- which can easily be read as the word 'glide'. Clever, eh?

My friend Roger (2E0RFB, mentioned above) took a nice photo of a Coastguard Search-and-Rescue Helicopter, registration G-SARD. It has its side door open, which covers up the 'D', leaving my call-sign suffix neatly showing. He's kindly letting me use the photo as the basis for a new QSL card. More about that when it's finished, but it's looking something like this...

 

Latest happenings

August 2017 - started playing with the new digital mode - FT-8. Have had over 400 QSOs, if you can call them that, including one with K1JT himself :-)

I'm trying to contact 100 countries with the mode - just as a personal "challenge". As of the last day of August, I'm up to 68 and still counting...

Roger has reluctantly had to sell his boat, so my days of /MM operating are almost certainly over.

 

Home