Encrypted radio signals, Enigma, Lorenz, and Colossus – presentation by Charles Coultas

We were recently delighted to welcome Charles Coultas for his club presentation on “The discovery of encrypted radio signals, both Enigma and Lorenz leading to the development of Colossus” for a lecture covering:
– Why Bletchley Park was chosen, and who worked there
– Government concerns about what is going on in wartime
– Alan Turing who joined at the outbreak of WW2
– Enigma, how it works and how it was broken by Turing
– The purpose and importance of radio communications
– The mathematicians at Bletchley Park
– A light hearted dip into some aspects of cryptography
– The strange radio signals from 1941, what they were and how the code was broken, and how this shortened the war
– How the “computer” came about and Turing’s part in it

We’re pleased to say you can re-watch Charles’ whole presentation right here:

With thanks as always to our video editor Chloe 2E0JPM.

UK Radio Astronomy Association talk with Paul Hearn

Further to the January 2022 RadCom article entitled “A Collaboration of Enthusiasts”, we recently welcomed club member Paul Hearn who gave us an introduction to Radio Astronomy and the UK Radio Astronomy Association.

Paul kindly gave his presentation in person at our new venue, the Scout hut. There’s something for all wavelengths here from VLF to microwaves!

You can re-watch the full presentation right here. Don’t forget to check out all of our other videos on our YouTube channel.

The Arrival of the Transistor in Amateur Radio with Duncan James M0OTG

Following on from his November 2021 RADCOM article “Amateur radio and the arrival of the transistor” we recently welcomed Duncan James, M0OTG as our guest presenter.

Duncan gave an excellent talk showing the historical development of the transistor through the ages from primitive laboratory pieces through to today’s hyper-miniaturised devices.

You can watch Duncan’s talk again right here:

If you are interested in joining RADARC for our meetings either in-person or online, please check out the Membership page of our website.

CQ World-Wide WPX SSB contest this weekend

Thought I’d put up a note that ALL this weekend is the CQ World-Wide WPX SSB contest. This is one of the very busiest weekends on HF for the entire year, and is a great opportunity to get some contacts on HF, even if you’re not a contester. Large contest stations with very capable receive antennas, which would not normally be on the air, will be operating worldwide – so you will be heard by more stations and further away than normal. People will want to work you.

Don’t be daunted by the fact it’s a contest – there’s no requirement to enter formally (though it’s encouraged) and all you have to do to complete a contact in this contest is give the report (always 5/9) and a number which you increment by 1 each time. For example, “you are 5/9 001”, “you are 5/9 002” etc. If you did want to enter, a contest logger is recommended (I like N1MM+) but not required – look on cqwpx.com for setup instructions for N1MM+.

Many large stations will be sitting there calling CQ continuously on one frequency for literally hours at a time. There will be busy times with huge pile-ups and quieter times where you’ll easily make the QSO. Rich pickings to be had for these on Sunday afternoon – work your way up a whole band and make easy QSO after QSO.

The permitted bands are: 160m, 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m.
Times are 0000 UTC tonight to 2359 UTC Sunday, i.e. 48 hours.
The full set of rules is here: https://www.cqwpx.com/rules.htm

Good luck, have fun!

HF + No PTT by Dave Porter G4OYX

Recently RADARC welcomed Dave Porter, G4OYX, as our guest presenter for an evening talk.

Dave is a well known author from, among others, VMARS’ magazine Signal, and joins us for a talk entitled “HF + No PTT”. I wonder what that could be about? Here’s a clue: the transmit powers involved are somewhat higher than most of us are accustomed to.

Join Dave G4OYX as he loses 249,750 Watts, goes “professional in Europe with home-brew”, but is on the air without a PTT!

Don’t forget to check out the club Events page for upcoming talks, also announced on the RADARC mailing list as well as our Discord discussion server – click the links to join either.

Dr. Bob Heil K9EID – The Science of Audio

In January, we were delighted to welcome the one and only Dr. Bob Heil K9EID for a talk entitled “The Science of Audio”.

Bob really needed no introduction. This talk is a “must” for radio amateurs and music fans. A tech pioneer in the 60s/70s rock scene he’s worked with many of the “greats” including Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck and sets the “gold standard” in audio.

He went on to define “the state of the art” in amateur radio audio with products many of you will be familiar with though “Heil Sound” and continues to innovate in all things tech. He’s too prolific for us to even begin to scratch the surface of what he’s done.

You can watch Bob’s talk back right here:

Talk by Mike Gloistein – British Antarctic Survey

Recently RADARC was privileged to be given a talk by Mike Gloistein GM0HCQ of the British Antarctic Survey about his experiences past and present with said survey, on board the newly commissioned Research Vessel Sir David Attenborough.

Mike has worked for the British Antarctic Survey for over thirty years. Initially sailing as a Radio Officer until GMDSS came along, then as a Communications Officer and now as an Electronics Officer on board the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

In 2004 Mike was awarded the Polar Medal by Her Majesty the Queen.
During his time with the Survey Mike has operated as GM0HCQ/MM, VP8CMH/MM, VP8ROT, VP8SGK and VP8SIG.

Mike shared with us a hugely illuminating exposé of what it’s really like to live and work in this kind of environment – from technical, through practical and all the way to dealing with the local wildlife, of which there is plenty!

We are delighted to share our recording of Mike’s talk right here:

Don’t forget that RADARC have a YouTube channel where more of our talks and other content get posted when we can.

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

Update 29th January 2022

Bill got a great sendoff yesterday at Amersham. A beautifully conducted service by a close friend, we learned of Bill’s other passions including fast cars (preferably being driven by him), real ale/beer, sailing, scouting and the great outdoors. A difficult day for everyone (I can certainly attest to that) but a get-together at a fine establishment in Bolter End provided a chance for us to support each other and celebrate his life. I’m not sure Bill would approve of the “celebration of him” bit, but he would certainly would approve of us all enjoying a drink together.

Website for the Reading And District Amateur Radio Club