HF Convention 2008

Over the weekend of the 10th -12th October 2008 I attended the RSGB HF Convention at Wyboston Lakes, Wyboston Bedfordshire.

Friday:- I left work about 4pm, slightly earlier than normal to catch the trains to Kings Cross / St Pancras International to meet Peter M3PHP as we would travel to St Neots on that same train. I got a slow train direct from East Croydon to St Pancras, but by the time I arrived at Kings Cross, I saw the train leaving. Next train was 20 mins later, so Peter & myself got a coffee and the next train was already at the platform.

We arrived about 6pm and got a taxi to the Wyboston Lakes centre and checked into the hotel room. After unpacking, we headed to the bar before dinner for a drink (ha-ha) or two. Dinner was about 8pm and consisted of a buffet with Roast Pork or Lamb or Beef Madras. I had the Madras.

After dinner we headed to the bar again for a few more drinks. The serving area at the bar closed at midnight, but we left gone 1am.

Saturday:- Woke about 7am and felt rough. After a quick shower headed to the restaurant for breakfast, full English of course. Peter & myself had decided to go to the Contest University lectures during the day, so headed off around 9am to find the room.

After a brief opening by Mark MØDXR, the first lecture was The Joy of Contesting, Lee Volante, G0MTN. This was a short overview of the lectures later in the day. After a short tea break the next lecture I attended was Contest Operating Procedures, Roger Western G3SXW. The first lecture had proved so popular, that tables had been moved forward, and more chairs brought into the room.

During one of these lectures, I showed to Pete how quickly Damn Small Linux had booted on my laptop, but quickly turned machine off as next lecture was starting. This was a mistake. I somehow damaged the Vista Master Boot Record (MBR) and could no longer boot into Windows, or Linux.

At about 12:30 we met in bar for a beer and a Steak Sandwich for lunch.

In afternoon I missed a few lectures to get laptop in working order by doing a system restore. Not great, but idea worked and laptop is usable again. No more Linux on the laptop, Windows Vista Home Basic will suffice.Once laptop was in a basic usable state, I decided to attended a few more lectures which were Contest Strategy, Dave Lawley G4BUO & Station Equipment & Layout, Paul Beecham, G6PZ. By this time I had been to 4 or the 7 Contest University lectures, so could collect a certificate.

Then was back to the bar before the DX Gala Dinner. The Dinner was a 3 course affair. The starter was some pâté with crusty bread. Sirloin Steak, roast potatoes & vegetables for main course, follow by a pudding of vanilla ice cream & warm pear tart. And then back to the bar. This time we were going to leave at about midnight. This didn’t quite happen when someone brought us a round just before the bar closed at midnight, and when he went back to get finals drinks and pay also brought a bottle of wine back to the table. It was nearly 2:30am when we finally headed to bed absolutely exhausted.

Sunday:- Someone how we were to breakfast earlier than Saturday morning by at least 15 minutes, but felt rougher. Full English breakfast again & lots of coffee.

The first lecture of the day was a talk by Eric Scace K3NA called Technology and Operating Procedures at VP6DX. It was about the planning of the VP9DX DXpedition and problems they faced and solved.

The Eric had a chat with Pete with me still trying to sort laptop out while enjoying another cup of coffee as I was still rough round the edges from the late night.

Dom Smith MØBLF was giving a talk entitled “Ham 2.0 – sharing amateur radio information across the Internet”. We were previously asked by Dom for input. Also Peter M3PHP had to give a short presentation on DXAnywhere. Not bad I think the idea up and Pete does the presentation. I must admit, I did help him tidy it up though. Shame also the wireless presenter gizmo I had ordered was sitting at home as hadn’t arrived before I left for the HFC. Oh well.

At lunch we tucked into another Steak sandwich, & a pint.

I had given up at this point trying to persuade Peter M3PHP to do his US FCC exam, so decided to go myself. I found the room, but had to wait for the main invigilator to return. Bad News…. I had delayed going so much that day waiting for Pete, that they had run out of the US Technician exams papers.

I did find out he would be at the Martin Lynch Hog Roast later in the year, and have decided somehow to get along to take exam. Also means for first time can see the Martin Lynch Chertsey site. Nearly 5 years as a Ham in London and not gone yet.

Last part of the day was the Raffle draw and farewell from the RSGB President, Colin Thomas G3PSM. Once again I didn’t win anything in the Raffle, but was the end to a great weekend. Hopefully will it be even better in 2009.

Shortly after Peter M3PHP, Iain M0PCB, Chole M0??? & myself jumped in a taxi back to St Neots station and were on our way back to London. From there we headed off in different directions with me taking the Northern line to London Bridge and a train to Sutton Common. Not the usual station I use, but Southern Rail in there wisdom decided to close a large section of the line between Streatham & Epsom.

Hamtests.co.uk Awarded the Kenwood Trophy

G3PSM, M0TZO, M3PHPIt is 21:00 & I am starting to write this heading back to London on the train from Bristol.

The RSGB AGM is over and Peter M3PHP & myself have finally collected our Kenwood Trophy for “making significant contributions to Training and Development in Amateur Radio within the United Kingdom” to Hamtests.co.uk from the RSGB board.

The rest of the day was also interesting at the AGM, although the open forum session in the afternoon proved very interesting to hear member’s views and getting answers from the board.

To finish off the evening we went for dinner with Iain M0PCB, Chloe (M0GEJ), Paul (M3JFM) and Terry (G0LUQ).

RSGB Kenwood Trophy 2008 award winners

So am on my tea-break and check my text messages and find the following from Peter (M3PHP):-

  • Myself and @Gadget17 have been awarded the RSGB Kenwood Trophy for significant contribution to training in providing hamtests.co.uk Woohoo! (via Twitter magicbug)

I have to call him and find out and he tells me that this morning he woke up to find not only had RSGB Radcom arrived but a letter from the RSGB, on further inspection it turns out that the RSGB Board have awarded Paul (M0TZO) & myself the ‘Kenwood Trophy’ for our significant contribution to training in providing the HamTests.co.uk website which offers mock questions for all levels of licences. (copied in part from following Peter M3PHP post)

We are of course very proud to be awarded the Kenwood Trophy and will be attending the RSGB AGM which takes place in Bristol on the 19th April 2008 and commences at 11am.

If you are going to the AGM do say hello you can’t miss us, and of course checkout www.hamtests.co.uk


Tonight after local net had finished I went up to 432MHz to work a few station in the 432MHz UKAC contests.

Operated for about 40 minutes and worked 6 stations. Not mega numbers, but I gave a few points away and as I only ran 20w and that was into a vertical I am not upset with results.

Was more to give me something to do than watch TV all evening.

QSOs = 6
Mults = 2
Longest distance = 44km
Total Score = 202 points

More info on RSGB VHF/UHF contests available at www.vhfcc.org

Plan for future:-
Buy 70cm Beam & Rotator. Install in Loft with 2m ZL Beam.

Kempton Park Rally 04/11/2007

As usual I attended the Kempton Park Radio Rally on 4th November. It was an early start for me as the person who was giving me a lift had to leave at 04:45am. Ouch.

So alarms were set and I woke up an hour early thinking I may have missed alarm and could get back to sleep. Instead I played a couple of games of bejeweled with my friend JW on MSN.

We arrived at Kempton about 5:30 and I helped set the tables with the info displaying where the vendors and clubs would be.

After 6am one of the big Vendors arrived with their Transit stuffed full of Amateur Radio items to sell. I helped them un-pack as I normally do and then other traders and clubs started turning up. After the 2nd large vendor was unpacked with my assistance I went to our clubs tables and added my 2 items with prices. I put up for sale my Icom IC-E90 handheld radio and my Squeezebox wireless music player.

At 10am the punters were let in to spend their hard earned cash and I was busily checking that everyone had a ticket. When someone could cover the door I went and brought 2 copies of the RSGB Prefix guide (one for M0BOV) and went back to keep on checking the tickets.

A while later I had a call on the radio that someone was interested in my radio. The person was tempted and the haggling began. Eventually we settled on a price and the sale was made.

Time for some more shopping. As I had helped one of the vendors I got a good price on some items. Alas the music player was unsold and when I arrived home was unpacked and back in old position.

Items Purchased

  • RSGB Prefix Guide
  • 2x High quality patch leads
  • Yaesu FT-897 battery – FNB-87
  • Yaesu MD-100a8x Desk Microphone

All in all apart from being knackered when I got home was another great day. And the M0TZO shack is getting better.