Friedrichshafen visit days 1 and 2

Below is ongoing detail. I will add more to this post as the trip unfolds.

Day 1 – 22nd June 2016

Graham and myself are on a European adventure to Friedrichshafen (link). We embarked on our journey at 11am UK time on Wednesday 22nd. An easy journey to Dover was followed by an earlier than planned crossing (at 3:15pm) to Calais via DFDS.

Waiting to board at Dover

The ferry couild have been named the Marie Celeste as we were 2 of 4 people using the aft lounge.


On investigation we realised that the majority of the travellers were truckers, filling their lounge to capacity. We arrived in Calais at 5:50pm local time and proceeded through Calais passing the Bleriot memorial on our way to the Formule 1 motel. Following check in an evening meal was had at Flunch a short walk away and a browse through the Auchen Hypermarket. The night was pucntuated with Thunder, Lightning and HEAVY Rains.

 Day 2

We awoke at 7am and were on the road by 9am proceeding to Dunkerque followed by Steenvoorde where an uneventful crossing into Belgium was undertaken. Then on to Epres, Kortrijk, Tournai, Mons, Charleroi and Namur with a stop just after Liege for Lunch and the first part of this post. On the way we drove through many storms some with the biggest hailstones ever, passing out into glorious skies and 30+ degrees Centigrade.

Continuing after lunch saw us past Aachen to Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler on the river Ahr. after settling in at a spenldid, clean, tidy and welcoming youth hostel (Below) we joined approximately 150 schoolchildren and their handlers for an evening meal.

Bad Neuenahr UHA

After dinner of three courses we took a stroll into Ahrweiler along the river. The town of Ahrweiler has a restored wall and cobbled streets as below where a pleasant evening was enjoyed.


Day 3

started as day 2 at 7am for ablutions and a continental breakfast, once again with the cast of Oliver Twist. It is to be remembered however that we were in their territory as neither of us could be considered to be youths!

Travelling saw Koblenz with stunning views at a stop of the Moselle Valley (below) then Stuttgart followed by loads of scenery.

Mosel ViaductMosel Valley

Lake Constance then came into stunning view followed by a drive down the eastern side arriving at Friedrichshafen YHA at approximately 4pm. We have found that we are 2 of 212 people staying here. Everyone of which appears to be an amateur or XYL.

Friedrichshafen YHA

Bicycles have now been rented for tomorrows short ride into the Messe for the 2nd day of the rally.

Our evening meal was taken at a restaurant over the road and co-located with a campsite on the shore of Lake Constance. Some discussion of the menu contents was discussed until an English menu was provided. A brief walk along the shoreline was completed before bed.

Day 4

Day 4 started at the usual time with the usual routine. We then took a short ride on the bikes (missing the queues and parking) to the Messe. Shown is Hall A1 and A2 in the distance.

Messe Friedrichshafen

The rally is split into four halls/hangers as follows;

  • Hall A1 is for Manuafacturers, Associations and non-flea market traders with a huge DARC stand
  • Hall A2 is for the talks and association meetings
  • Hall A3 is the first flea market hall (14 rows by 40 odd tables)
  • Hall A4 is the second fleamarket hall with test equipment auction (14 rows by 30 odd tables) Where can you get 1,000 tables?
  • Hall A5 is an added bonus of the Bodensee Maker faire.
  • Other areas included a stage for talks and presentations, QSL wall and special interest groups including an ARDF contest

Full details of the halls and traders can be obtained at the link above.

We then spent the whole day having our first look around and trying to ensure we walked every gangway. It did take us all day to view A1, A3, A4, and A5 just once. Halls A1 (where we signed in with the RSGB) and A3 were completed before lunch with A4 and A5 after lunch. Many purchases were made with some return to stalls previously dismissed.

We then returned via bicycle to the YHA to rest and recuperate after a day on the hoof.

Our evening meal was taken at a local Italian fish restaurant along the river from the YHA. We then returned to the YHA for coffee and discussion with other HAMS (the place being full of them) and then to bed.

Day 5

Day 5 started at the usual time with the usual routine.

Travel to the Messe was by car today to allow for antenna purchase. Parking was a mere 4€ (£3.20) and then into the halls for another walk through to see everything missed yesterday. Those who have been to rallies with me will know that I’m not fast, except for when in the car. More purchases were made with some bargaining as it is the last day.

Major manufacturers were there including;

  • Yaesu (who were very free with their freebies)
  • Kenwood
  • ICOM
  • Hillberling
  • Lusso
  • Hytera
  • FlexRadio Systems

Yaesu Hillberling ICOM FlexRadio KenwoodLusso

There was a wide range of items to be purchased including;

  • New and second hand transceivers (at least 4 large stalls selling new Transceivers)
  • Lots of Valves and restored/un-restored equipment
  • lots of Microwave bits
  • loads and loads of components
  • Vacuum capacitors
  • some tool stalls
  • some computer stalls
  • Cable and rope
  • Antennas (at least 6 stalls in A1 plus stalls in the flea market)
  • 3D printers and supplies
  • The obligatory XYL gift stalls (only 4 i think)

Our evening meal is planned for the local Italian fish restaurant along the river.

Many photos and videos are available from me in addition to those within this post.

Day 6 & 7

Days 6 and 7 will see a return to Bad-Neuenahr YHA and a return ferry crossing via Dunkirk with arrival home late on Tuesday night.

Other Items

The youth hostel nights cost on average €40 and included a breakfast and packed lunch. An evening meal can also be purchased where it is available. Breakfasts consisted of cereals, fruit, yogurt, meats and cheeses with breads. Accommodation was either on or off-suite depending upon the hostel and availability.

The route taken was fairly painless with good continental roads and knowledge of where the hold-ups may be.

Entry into the Rally was either €9 per day or €18 for all three days in advance.

The third day did however see some stalls leaving early including the RSGB packing up at 9am!


MoTA – Cancelled

The TSGARC has, unfortunately, had to withdraw from attending the Yate Heritage Centre this weekend as part of Museums on the Air due to difficulties agreeing terms for our use of the lawn next to the centre.

Thank you to everyone who has put effort into making this, so nearly, happen.


Event organisation

Whether it be a talk by a member or a larger event such as a field weekend we all enjoy events. Events are core to our club; they bring us together and allow us to share idea’s and information with others. An active, vibrant club is a rewarding environment for existing members and its attractive to potential members.

Its a core responsibility of every member to participate in events – after all, the club is its members and its members are the club. We are one and the same.
Participation is helping with an event in some way. That might be taking some photo’s and writing a few words for our website, it might be helping to transport equipment, it might be arranging for a speaker to come and give us a talk. Participation by members is the life-blood of the club.

So if you have an idea for an event please talk it over with other members and together we can make it happen. Whether you are involved in turning your idea into an event really depends on your wishes, its size and complexity. But here at the TSGARC we encourage all members to be involved with making events happen.

Further information about events and their organisation may be found by following the ‘Event organisation’ link to our website.


What are IQ signals?

The terms IQ are increasingly commonplace in amateur radio literature.  Open any copy of Radcom or read anything about Software Defined Radio (SDR) and you will see the terms IQ.  But what are they?

Since transitioning from a cherished black-box radio last Autumn to SDR I’ve been meaning to understand the mysteries of IQ.  Fundamentally, its really very simple.  But I’ve read several descriptions on the Internet which, quite frankly, are just confusing – too many words all trying to convey something that is much easier done visually.

Tonight, I discovered the video below.  It is an excellent description of, not only, IQ but of modulation and especially BPSK, 4PSK and 16PSK.  I highly recommend taking a few minutes and watching even if you are not interested in SDR and IQ.


The new FT-891

FT-891_yaesu_dayton_ag1A little news hot off the Dayton press…  Yaesu have a new mobile HF & 6m, 100w transceiver.

Looks a little like the latest series of Icom radio’s with its black on white display.  Its also similar to the FT-857 with function buttons surrounding the its display.  The head is detachable and it claims to have a 32-bit IF DSP capability.


With the IC-7000 now firmly retired and the IC-7100 head more suited to desktop operation than mobile, I just wonder if Yaesu have seen a gap in the market….  What will Icom do next?

But why omit V/UHF?  Seems a little odd.  Of course this could be the first of several re-designs and there may be other models yet to be released.

Perhaps it will be launched into Europe at Friedrichshafen.


Field weekend

Derek, Mark, Andy and Rob fitting the hexbeam to the towerFriday 29th April saw the start of the TSGARC big Field Weekend. OK, not quite the same as its BBC Radio 1 namesake but just as much fun 🙂  Setup took place on the Friday and was finished by late afternoon – much quicker and more smoothly than last year.  The event ran over the following Saturday, Sunday and everything was dismantled and removed by mid-Monday afternoon.

So a big thanks to those that came and who helped setup and/or remove everything.  An event like this was only possible thanks to some accommodating friends of John, M6EQQ who allowed us to use their field.  As a thank you the club bought them a bouquet of flowers and some beer.  I will let you work out who received what!  Like preceding days, the Monday was a relaxed start and the dismantle job only started late morning.  Unfortunately, as some people know only too well it started raining just after lunch which incentivised speedy work.  But some of us got a little damp – Rex 😉

FT-897, TSGARC field weekend 2016Over the whole weekend there where two radio tents, the first used the FT-897 loaned to the club by Derek.  This allowed HF and VHF (6m) operation using a G3TXQ Hexbeam from MW0JZE (top image).  VHF (2m) operation was possible using a 9-element Yagi from Tonna.  The FT-897 PA provided 100w on HF and 50w on 2m.  The highlight of the first day was a solid 17m contact into Japan by Derek using SSB.  But there where also lots of other contacts across the European and American continents.  The hexbeam was observed to have useful directivity mounted at 12m atop the trailer tower.

John, M0HFH working Morse code on 14MHzThe second tent used a home-brew HF (20m) Bobtail – orientated to provide East/West lobes – and a 3-element Yagi for 2m, both courtesy of John M0HFH.    This tent used the clubs FT-450 both for SSB and CW plus an FT-857 and FT-817 provided by John and Rex.  The tent also showed rebellious tendencies, opting at times, to use some rather exotic batteries which no-one wanted to be anywhere near!!  Thanks John!

There, was of course, another tent, a very important tent and one where people congregated.  The ‘brew tent’ was where we had the stove, tea, coffee and what seemed like an endless supply of bacon – thanks Jane – plus copious amounts of biscuits 🙂  The weather was mostly dry but a little on the chilly side so this was indeed a popular tent.

In total we had two big (6m x 4m) tents, the rebellious tent (2.5m sq) plus a small day tent to keep the generator dry.  These provided ample space and shelter for the weekend.  The final accommodation to mention was the chemical toilet, arguably the most important item to making the field weekend possible.

TSGARC Members at work!Everyone who went had a good time and all the equipment worked well.  Simultaneous operation of two HF stations was not really possible, or expected, due to the proximity of the antenna’s so perhaps a project for next time is to make band-pass filters.  It was a surprise to find  that even HF low power transmissions broke through on the other tents VHF (2m) activity.

With only two radio’s in operation at any time it was common to find people in the ‘Brew tent’ or contributing to activities in the field.  In the above image John, M0HFH is being helped to connect an ATU to the feed point of the HF (20m) Bobtail.

Mark helping John fit an aluminium section to the top of a fibreglass mast.There was also some genuine help.  Many hands made light work of jobs including raising the tents and preparing the operating positions.  Unpacking, assembling and raising the hex beam was made easy with great support.  Thanks also to Ron, who stuck it out in the rain on Monday to methodically dismantle the hextbeam such that it can be easily reassembled next time.

Personally, I’m already looking forward to another event next year.  But we may move the date back to the late May Bank holiday weekend as the weather should be a little warmer 🙂


Raynet Talk

This Wednesday we received a talk by Mike G0JMD about the formation of Raynet groups and Mike’s experiences in and as the controller of the North Avon Raynet group.

We learnt that the idea of Raynet came about after the 1953 North Sea Floods.

Back then there were different types of group, either independent, affiliated to the RSGB or affiliated to each other. Things changed and progressed with most groups affiliating to the RSGB and then falling away as funding changed.

Mike then moved on to the North Avon group and its activities over the years. The group has only been called upon once where Avon Fire found themselves without coverage in the Severn Tunnel. However before Peter G4OST could arrive they found channel 2 on their radios allowed back to back Simplex use. The fact that the group has only been called out once is surprising considering the motorway and rail networks in the area along with chemical, gas, fuel and nuclear plants.

The main activities of the group are around support local sporting events including the Sodbury Slog, and Bath Half Marathon. Within the group a standing competition is held for the operator with the most emergency services equipment and personnel.


The talk finished with a round of questions all suitably answered by Mike.

In all 18 people attended the evening including 1 visitor.


Programme update

Until recently our Programme has contained On-air nights. Before our radio room came into operation last year these where necessary as all activities shared the same room. However, now that we have a separate radio room we no longer need to reserve specific nights for operation of the radio’s as this is now possible on any evening by club members. As a result the committee has agreed to remove On-air nights from our event programme.

Members are encouraged to get our club on-air each Wednesday evening and/or on other days if they so wish.

If members would like to see new events in our programme, could they please communicate with a committee member to progress their suggestion.