All posts by John Gumb

Farewell Bill G4WJS, SK

We are stunned to hear of the sudden loss of Bill G4WJS:

“Sad news and so suddenly for him to be taken from us.  I remember when Bill moved to Stokenchurch and his tower went up and I spoke to him just before we moved from that high location. Bill treated everyone the same and would help with his knowledge, a sad loss to us all. “ — Min G0JMS

A most helpful gentleman. I had several contacts with him on the Bracknell 70 CM repeater using a Baofeng BFT-1 mini walkie talkie on the Sunday 1700Z net. SK was most unexpected.  DE G4ELD

“That is very sad news indeed, he helped me a lot and he was always available. Even when his status on Discord was set to offline he was often still monitoring and answering. I worked him many times from home and from S5 in different modes, not just FT8, and only last week we discussed possible solutions to my windows-10 laptop crashing repeatedly. He will be missed,R.I.P. Bill G4WJS” — Michael M0MPM

“Bill was humble yet definitive at the same time! He is very well known in Amateur circles because he got involved in lots of conversations with new and old amateurs a like. You’d not necessarily know, that this man was instrumental in one of the leading digital modes that is used by many ham radio enthusiasts on the planet. Bill made his mark in so many ways. He is a seriously clever bloke! His depth of knowledge and understanding of a myriad of topics was outstanding. When Bill gave an opinion on something, you’d get the feeling that he had played through the thought process that came to the decision like a master chess player. Checkmate every time. Bill really knew his stuff. He was very kind with sharing his knowledge. He held strong to things he believed in. Bill was a star. The shiniest of stars, but he wouldn’t subscribe to that opinion of him. He would just carry on shining. ” — Brett 2E0HFW

Bill helped me with many activities including testing my new 2m and 70cm antennas, my first MS contacts and my first EME contacts.   He even persuaded me to try a 2m Ionsospheric scatter contact (yet to be achieved).  We had lots of discussions both on the air and via Discord and Zoom.   Bill was a true inspiration. RIP Bill” — Mike G4CDF

“I first met Bill around 20 years ago when he moved to Stokenchurch and became active on the VHF Bands. We had a common interest in VHF dxing and Contests. Bill was degree educated, Chemistry if I remember correctly, but worked as a Software Engineer for local companies. My background was in mechanical engineering, so we were able to readily exchange ideas. During the following years we did many contests together from 160m to 70cm with the Maidenhead Amateur Radio Club of which we were both members and of which he eventually became Chairman. Following the clubs demise, we both joined the Reading club of which he was an active member until his death.

During our early exchanges I mentioned that I was using a piece of software called WSJT which had originally been given to me in 2002 at the Prague EME conference and updated at subsequent EME conferences. We spent many hours discussing this and my hardware disasters trying to use it. Following a call for help by Joe Taylor sometime around 2008, we discussed how he may be able to help. That led to his involvement with the WSJT-X program.

Bill had endless patience and had the unique ability to resolve issues over email in a way that very few people could. I remember one evening, we were doing a Pub Quiz, in the interval he was answering questions posed to him on the WSJT reflector, and there were many, all answered with the same patience and understanding.

More recently during the recent SV5/HB9COG EME dxpedition, there was a problem with the way Q65 was treating compound callsigns, Bill was able to remote into my shack PC and effectively sit on my shoulder and see what was going on in the software that was causing the decoding problem.

RIP Bill, you will be fondly remembered. ” — Dave G4RGK

Terrible news, hugely shocking. In amongst the tributes flooding in, there is a very touching tribute from Paul G4YKQ on the WSJT-X mailing list which I would like to draw people’s attention to: https://wsjtx.groups.io/g/main/message/30558. On November 14th, Bill sent the following photo of the birds on his mast to the antennas channel on the club’s Discord. It stood out from the noise to me somehow. I wanted to share it a little wider, I hope you don’t mind. — Tom M0LTE

Bill said “Getting to that time of Year when the Starlings really like aerials to perch on.”

Whilst most will know of Bill through WSJT-X, we were privileged to see many different sides to Bill. He loved amateur radio in all its forms. This shone through in his contributions to the club. He was equally at home encouraging newcomers or working through some tricky technical issue with the most experienced members on anything from RF/electronics to propagation queries. His knowledge and experience were truly vast.

As has been noted elsewhere, his clarity of thought was legendary. This wasn’t just evident technically. My phone QSOs via GB3BN with Bill when out walking were a delight. It’s a measure of the man that he could go to the most technically rarefied areas of the hobby such as weak signal work at VLF but still be quite happy to have a chat on 70cm FM.

It goes without saying his contribution to to WSJT-X is vast terms of code written. More often that not, Bill would be “pulling a release together” or working through some tests – never the easiest of tasks. His diligence and thoughtfulness in his support work speak for themselves.

Bill loved writing code. Any software engineers out there know what I mean. To this end, he had a few projects lined up involving microcontrollers, FPGAs and DACs. It’s impossible to believe they won’t now happen.

I only ever know Bill through local QSOs or through online media such as video conferencing or the club online discussion forum. His presence was always such that I can hardly believe this is the case.

Bill at home in his shack on zoom

A star that shone so brightly.

RIP Bill.

John

G4RDC

RADARC Secretary

GB3BN net summary 9th April 2020

Wonderful to hear so many people on BN again. Here are a few of the salient points:

Great discussion about birds and wildlife. Some thoughts there may be changes in red kite behaviour in that they may take small prey. Robin G4IWS reports on turf wars over his nesting box; nuthatches involved. Graham G3XYX reports it’s great to hear the song thrushes in full voice.

Lots of projects on the go, too many to mention – Tom M0LTE using ammo cases as enclosures/housings; Loz G2DD looking to calibrate his power meter. Simon fixed an IC260 2m rig – dead ‘OR’ gate CD4071 IC I think it was and is now being driven mad, like me, by a microwave modules transverter.

Big shout out to Gareth M7GRB for supporting our carers by 3D printing face shields.

On that front, remember there’s the RSGB ‘Hope’ QSO party (can’t remember who mentioned that): https://www.rsgbcc.org/hf/rules/2020/rhqp.shtml

Min G0JMS has had a shack tidy, or so he claims 🙂

A possible talk we could look into is Dud Charman G6CJ’s Aerial Circus – or recreation thereof.

Dave’s WIRES-X/Yeasu fusion gateway MB6IOX is there for all to use (https://www.ukrepeater.net/my_repeater.php?id=3214). Min and Gary G4FLY also have gateways.

A source of RF noise found and summarily shot: a talk talk router and possibly a USB charger.

John bemoans the lack of the old GB3RAL beacons (28.215, 40.050, 50.050, 60.050, 70.050)MHz and GB3BAA on 50.016MHz and 70.016MHz and wonders if RADARC might be able to support at least getting something back on air in the lowband VHF region.

Here is the full cast list, with signal strength in dBm on the BN input at Bill G4WJS’s location in Stokenchurch (where recorded):

Tom M0LTE (-125)

Graham G3XYX (-109)

Chris G4CCC (-103)

Mike G4CDF (-118)

Chris M1CYE (-128, then -120)

Michael M0MPM (-122)

Bill G4WJS

Jim G0LHZ (-125)

Simon M0ZSU (-121)

Andy M7ANR (Fleet) (-124)

Loz G2DD (-128)

G4ZRZ (sorry – didn’t get a name, could have been via echolink)

Robin G4IWS (-119)

Min G0JMS (-99)

Dave G0TKV (-102)

Gareth M7GRB

Vin G4JTR (-100)

Gary G4ELD

Thanks to Bill for the signal reports on the input.

Next net: Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 8:10pm GB3BN

73

John

G4RDC

GB3BN net 8pm 26th MARCH – A Summary – thankyou!

On the evening of what should have been the spring junk sale 2020, postponed due to COVID-19, we had a net on GB3BN with 23 stations joining. Now, more than ever, communication is important . We did that in spades.

I thoroughly enjoyed running the net. It was fantastic to combine getting on the radio and having a club meeting. Looking back, we really did that using the technology we love. At 8pm, I didn’t know that would happen. All I had was a beer and the radio by my side. By 10:30pm I had a list of 22 callsigns (with ticks against them, finally, to indicate signout) and it really felt like the end of a normal club meeting, or even better because everyone took part and contributed. This virus will not stop us.

Operating procedures were first class. Everyone. No exception. New M7 operators/callsigns? Flawless.

Because it was so productive, I thought I’d try and capture a few points.

Firstly, it was wonderful to be able to collectively say THANKYOU to our magnificent NHS together, on air, using BN’s huge coverage area.

Other:

  • In these uncertain times, this net is a place where we can all gather on 2nd and 4th Thursdays where we would have had a face to face club meeting. To ‘check in’ if you like.
  • Following on from the BATC’s support for online meetings and their offer of support for clubs, it is clear they are something RADARC needs to pursue. In particular, a number of members enjoyed Noel G8GTZ’s QO100 talk.
  • Lots of practical tips for surviving the ‘lockdown’.
  • Finding out about other nets (eg. G1RAF has a net on GB3TU 433.225MHz: 12:00 and 19:00 daily).
  • Discussion about new conferencing technologies: eg. zoom, discord.
  • Propagation news: HF, VHF. There are some signs Sporadic E is starting on the high HF bands and 50Mhz. The Poldhu net on 80m was in fine fettle.
  • Virtual sharing of beer and biscuits (Jammie Dodgers no less) in the finest Reading tradition. (There should be bulbs in there also – gardening did feature).
  • Updates on construction projects – reports of exploding tantalum capacitors.
  • The trials of home working.
  • Clarification on how the local repeaters work with CTCSS. You get a ‘T’ in morse if you’re running CTCSS, ‘K’ otherwise. Soon, I think, you’ll need to run CTCSS. see http://www.tvrg.org.uk/ for details.
  • Our ‘YouTube’ channel with videos of previous talks (thanks to James 2E0JPM) is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChamISEy8HRvKmWN0-GTWpA
  • Loads more. If I’ve missed anything you would like included here then please let me know.

Thankyou for a special evening.

73

John

G4RDC

The net:

Bill G4WJS

Dave G0TKV

Graham G3XYX

Michael M0MPM

Jim G0LHZ

Tom M0LTE

Mike G4CDF

Simon M0ZSU

Nick G0LGG

Sergei M0TLN

Gareth M7GRB

Vin G4JTR

Denis G4KWT

Tom 2E0YGW

Robin G4IWS

James 2E0JPM

Chris G4CCC

Guy 2E0GDC

John M5ET (echolink)

Sean 2E0ZIP

John M7IJV

Loz G2DD

John G4RDC

Apologies for getting any callsigns wrong. Now you can see why. The raw material for this post.

6 more intermediate passes!

I am delighted to announce further intermediate level success at RADARC.

Left to right:

Graham Walker, M7MRG

John Holden, M7AHY

Kim Hiscock

Ray Brown G3SCZ (RADARC training guru)

André Broodryk, M7VWB

Graham Aisbitt, M7GRA

James Wynne

Ray’s T-shirt says ‘I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you’. Clearly both activities happened with great success so well done to all!

A particular thank-you to Ray for all the preparation and hard work that goes into making events like this happen – also to everyone supporting him.

Callsigns to be updated in due course.

73, John G4RDC.

RADARC Secretary.

Solar orbiter talk postponed

Chris Brockley-Blatt is unwell so the Solar Orbiter talk planned for this evening is postponed.

We will still meet at Woodford park for a natter night and chance for anyone to do a short talk if they wish.

We will also have a go at the 50MHz UK Activity Contest

Reading Science & Tech Meetup Groups Summer Gathering – Tuesday 13th August 2019

There is a gathering of local tech/creative groups on Tuesday 13th August at the Walkabout pub (upstairs) in the centre of Reading, Friar st.

Wiston Terrace (off Friar Street) Reading RG1 1DG

see https://rdggeeknight.wordpress.com/ for details

The aim is to promote awareness of all the good stuff going on in Reading.

Someone from each group will say a ‘few words’ about who they are and what they do. Here are some of the groups:

  • Agile Valley
  • British Computer Society (Reading Branch)
  • ConnectTVT
  • Google Developer Group Reading & Thames Valley
  • IET Berkshire
  • Innovation Catalyst
  • Missing Maps
  • PHP Berkshire
  • Reading and District Amateur Radio Club
  • Reading Data Science Group
  • Reading Hydro
  • Reading Tester Gathering

Hope to see you there.

Thanks to Simon and “Reading Geek Night” for organising this.

73

John

G4RDC