South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society

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Internet Linking (VOIP)- 6 May 2016

Sean Burton 2E0ENN gave a presentation on the use of Internet linked (VOIP) systems in amateur radio.

Sean runs the EchoLink UK and Internet Linking User Facebook Group described and demonstrated the equipment required for an Allstar node, using a Raspberry Pi and inexpensive Baofeng BF-888 transceiver.

GB5ROC "Britain On The Brink" - 10 April 2016

Following last years successful activation of the Buckminster Cold War Nuclear Bunker SKARS operated from Buckminster Village School on Sunday 10th April 2016 as part of the "Britain On The Brink" Cold War event organised by the Up an' at 'em History group.

The event feature displays, military vehicles and re-enactors demonstrating the role of the various civil defence organisations on standby during the cold war. Visitors were again able to experience the restored Royal Observer Corps nuclear monitoring post on the outskirts of the village.

Stewart (M0SDM) brought along his Landrover with military push-up mast supporting an off-centre fed dipole. Using Andrew's (M0NRD) Yaesu FT-450D running 100W  130+ contacts were made in the short time band conditions and contesters allowed on 40M

Sean (2E0ENN) and Sid (G4RIO) also came along to operate and assist.

More photos can be seen in the gallery here.

Construction Workshop - 4 March 2016

Alan G0BXU kindly put together a kit to make a practice Morse oscillator. The simple kit is constructed on strip/veroboard and ideally can be fitted inside an extension speaker with a push button and socket for an external Morse key. It can be powered with a standard PP3 9V battery.

At the SKARS meeting on the 4th March members including those who wish to progress to their intermediate licence began construction of the kit. Alan assisted by Mark and Andy started with an introduction to soldering and construction began to be completed either at home or at the next meeting.

When the kits are complete SKARS will begin a Morse course, which while is no longer a requirement for a licence is still a useful skill for any radio amateur.


JT65/JT9 Workshop - 19 February 2016

Mark Orbell M0OBL gave SKARS a practical demonstration of operating the low power JT65/JT9 data modes. Using the WSJT software from Nobel Prize winner Joe Taylor K1JT, Mark explained the setup and operation of JT65 and the narrow band JT9, able to make a number of contacts using minimal power.


 Now SKARS has secured a new permanent venue with facilities to operate further such workshops and demonstrations of other operating modes are planned.

Kite Antenna - 13 February 2016

Members of SKARS went out on Saturday 13 February to operate using a Kite Antenna.

Stewart Mason (M0SDM) had been wishing to try out his kite for some time. It was a successful afternoon and he was joined by other members to operate for a few hours under the club callsign MX0SDR on 40m using a vertical antenna suspended beneath the sledge kite.


It was a interesting learning experience and plans are under way to repeat and expand the venture in the near future.

Do Something New - Grantham Museum 24 January 2016

SKARS attended the "Do Something New" event at the Grantham Museum on Sunday 24th January 2016.

The event was to encourage people to take up new hobbies and interests for the new year. The club had a stand to introduce visitors to the hobby of Amateur Radio. As well as information and photographs we had a demonstration of an SDR receiver, various transceivers and videos for people to see.

There was also a special appearance of "Pinky" the pig that we sent into space!

Konrad (M0KVF), Andrew (M0NRD) and Stewart (M0SDM) manned the stand.


How to fly a High Altitude Balloon - 18 November 2015

Andrew Garratt M0NRD gave a presentation on how to fly a high altitude balloon. Detailing the "Pig In Space" balloon launched at this years National Hamfest and the earlier Eggsplorer-1 "Egg In Space" mission.

Andrew described at length the processes involved in design of the payload, and trackers. The sourcing of balloons, parachutes and gas. Also describe how to prepare for a flight, obtaining clearance and everything involved in predicting the flight and tracking it.

The talk was well attended with visitors from Spalding and District ARC and Hucknall Rolls Royce ARC.


Introduction to Amateur DMR - 21 October 2015

Sean Burton (2E0ENN) gave a talk on demonstration on DMR to SKARS

Sean brought along a number of DMR handhelds along with his latest purchase one of the new DV4 Mini dongles.

Sean gave a clear description and overview of what to many operators is a confusing new technology. Using the DV4 Mini plugged into a Raspberry Pi single board computer connected to the internet via a mobile phone connection Sean was able to demonstrate how a gateway works.

The talk attracted a number of new visitors and we gained four new members as a result.

1st Foston Scouts - JOTA GB5FSG - 17/18 October 2015

 SKARS members Andrew (M0NRD), Stewart (M0SDM) and Sean (2E0ENN) operated the GB5FSG station for the 1st Foston Scout Group over the Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) weekend.

Last year was SKARS’ first experience of JOTA when we operated GB2FFC with some success but this year we hoped to improve the experience for the Cubs/Beavers and Scouts.

We had a much improved antenna installation, with Stewart's Land Rover and impressive push up mast holding up an excellent OCFD dipole, resonant on several bands including 40m and a collinear for a 2m/70cm VHF/UHF along with another smaller pole holding up an end fed long wire for a data mode station.

Last year we were hampered by the noise of excitable children in the main room of the scout hut which made operating and hearing contacts difficult. This year we asked for some separation from the hubbub and had planned to use a tent. Instead we set up in the storage area in the back of the hut which proved ideal as it allowed us to control the number of children and allowed easier working conditions - it was a little chilly but much warmer than a tent would have been.

On Saturday we used Stewart's FT-897D as the main HF SSB rig, Sean operated a 2m meter station making a number of local contacts. Andrew’s FT-857D operated datamode (primarily PSK) but a damaged feeder curtailed this and we soon concentrated on the HF SSB voice contacts as conditions were good and the bands were busy with other JOTA stations.

In keeping with the aims of JOTA we didn't chase numbers instead we had some lengthy quality contacts, including a marathon 30 minute plus contact with GB2WSG the 2nd Wellington Scout Group with lots of two-way greeting messages being sent to really give the children a full experience of using the radio.

Andrew had home brewed a Morse code oscillator using an Arduino board and an old computer speaker for added volume and this proved popular as the children tapped out their own names, their friends names, call signs, their ages and various words._6YaIOOaI8g

 We had created some certificates and stickers to reward the children and to prove they had completed the tasks should they need them for any future scouting badges and communication awards.

Sunday we just operated for the morning and since Stewart couldn't attend Andrew brought along his FT-450D and together with Sean operated solely on HF SSB. Again conditions were excellent and we were able to pass lots of greeting messages again despite the QRM from the German contest running at the same time.

It is hoped that next year the JOTA event might be much bigger with several of the local scout groups working potentially working together, SKARS will definitely be involved if required.

1st Barrowby Cubs - 14 October 2015

South Kesteven ARS members Andrew (M0NRD), Stewart (M0SDM), Sean (2E0ENN) and Konrad (2E0KVF) spent an evening giving the 1st Barrowby Cub group an introduction to amateur radio and help them towards getting their communication badges.

Konrad who is an ex-scout leader explained the hobby while Stewart and Sean helped them pass messages via a radio. New SKARS member David (2E0RVV) had volunteered to talk to the cubs from his home but communication proved problematic due to the terrain so Sean decamped to the car park and patiently talked to all the cubs in turn. Stewart also demonstrated listening and tuning to HF transmissions.

The use of Morse code and the phonetic alphabet were explained and the cubs all used a Morse key to send various words and letters.

There was also a timely ‘visible’ pass of the International Space Station during the evening and it was hoped that the cubs they might be able to see it while Andrew demonstrated transmitting and receiving APRS messages via the onboard digipeater.

Using an handheld YAGI, laptop and radio in the boot of his car we did successfully get a message digipeated and i-gated however the cloud and rain prevented the cubs seeing the ISS pass overhead.

Following on from the cub group we stayed on to give the older scouts a quick introduction to amateur radio while we had everything set up. 

The evening was a great success and the enthusiasm shown by the Scout leaders hopefully means SKARS will be involved in more activities for the Barrowby Scout group.

National Hamfest - 25/26 September 2015

The National Hamfest took place at the Newark Showground on 25/26th September.

Following the success of the MADHEN Eggsplorer-1 High Altitude Balloon SKARS Chairman Andrew Garratt (M0NRD) had agreed to launch another balloon flight.

As well launching on the Saturday the balloon SKARS also manned a receiving/tracking station at the event to monitor the flight and promote the society.The balloon transmitted telemetry and SSDV images back to earth and carried a 'Ham' in the form of a toy pig some 26km in to the stratosphere.

The payload landed back to earth south of Grantham and was successfully retrieved with hundreds of photographs taken onboard.

Assisting Andrew was his brother David (M6GTD) and Stewart (M0SDM) who brought along his Land Rover and push up mast to hold the antennas. The Land Rover attracted a large number of visitors in itself.

A full description of the flight and recovery along with links to the onboard photos can be found on Andrew's blog.

Operating Amateur Radio Satellites - by Abdel Mesbah M0NPT - 16 September 2015

Abdel Mesbah M0NPT gave an informative talk on operating amateur radio satellites. Abdel who was the first UK operator to receive the AMSAT-UK 73 on 73 award for making 73 confirmed contacts via the FUNCube satellite AO-73.

Explained all the current active satellites work, how to work through them and gave hints and described techniques for success on this more challenging mode of operation.

Abdel is also the chairman of the Hucknall Rolls-Royce Amateur Radio Club and everyone who attended enjoyed this most enjoyable talk.

GB2SAG - Churches and Chapels on the Air Weekend - 12th September 2015

SKARS operated from St. Anne's Church, Harrowby Road, Grantham on Saturday 12th September 2015 as part of the Churches and Chapels on the Air Weekend. 

Stewart (M0SDM), Sean (2E0ENN) and Andrew (M0NRD) were the principal operators running HF (SSB), VHF/UHF and HF (Datamodes) respectively. Konrad (2E0KVF) also visited along with a couple of the ATC cadets.

We had a number of visitors who came along and learned what Amateur Radio was all about.




Global Navigation Satellite Systems by Arthur Moore M0GUU - 19 August 2015

Arthur Moore (M0GUU) gave a presentation at South Kesteven ARS on Global Navigation Satellite Systems.

Arthur has been involved in the development of navigation systems from the early days and gave a very informative and interesting talk on the theory and practise of the satellite navigation systems such as GPS and GLONASS which everyone now takes for granted.


47F Grantham Squadron ATC, Foundation Practicals - 4 July 2015

On 4th July SKARS members Konrad Emery-Ford (2E0KVF) and Stewart Mason (M0SDM) held a Foundation licence practical session for the 47F Grantham Squadron Air Training Corps.

Three cadets and one member of staff successfully completed the practical assessments which are required in addition to the exam to gain a Foundation Licence.

Konrad is a Civilian Instructor in the ATC and is a RSGB registered assessor. Hopefully this will be the first of many collaborations between the two organisations.

Stewart can be seen instructing the cadets in the operation of the radio.
(Pictures supplied by Konrad).


GB2EGG - 10th World Egg Throwing Championship, Swaton Vintage Day 28 June 2015

On 28th June South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society (SKARS) operated a special event station at the Swaton Vintage Day held at Thorpe Latimer in Lincolnshire.

The 2015 Swaton Vintage Day hosted the 10th World Egg Throwing Championship  and in recognition the special event station had the call sign GB2EGG. This popular annual show raises money for local, national and international good causes.

Egg Throwing is recognised by the English Sports Council and the sport is taken very seriously by some competitors. 300 competitors from around the world took part.

Nigel and Graham operating

For the most part GB2EGG was operated by Nigel Booth M0CVO, Graham Belson M0HLO and Sean Burton 2E0ENN using a Kenwood TS480 at 100w feeding a M0CVO HW-40HP OCFD both supplied by Nigel on top a 40ft mast supplied by Stewart Mason M0SDM.

Graham operating

Operating conditions were testing, due to the weather and band conditions following solar activity as well as the close proximity to the egg throwing arena. The public address system and noise of the crowd made hearing contacts difficult, also attempting to run at 100w proved problematic for the small generator supplied by Sean, so we ended up running on leisure batteries.

GB2EGG also suffered a setback when the gazebo (also supplied by Sean) self destructed for the second time in the strong gusty wind and Nigel Booth, the NoV holder for the event call sign, decided that he had enough and left not wanting to jeopardise his equipment.

Unable to continue under the event call sign we continued for a while using Stewart's Yaesu FT897, this time using the Club Call Sign MX0SKR, commandeering a vacant adjacent tent supplied by Butler Electrics who were the official sponsors of the Egg Throwing Championship.

Graham, Sean and Stewart on the set-up afternnon

MADHEN Eggsplorer-1 HAB Flight - 10th World Egg Throwing Championship, Swaton Vintage Day 28 June 2015

For mission background please visit this page and Andrew Garratt's Radio Antics blog.


In addition to the GB2EGG Special Event Station, Andrew Garratt and South Kesteven ARS sent an egg into 'space' - well in to the Stratosphere at least reaching a maximum altitude of 31km, nearly 20 miles or over 100,000 feet!

The egg then returned to Earth, splashing down in the North Sea and is currently missing in action condition unknown and hopefully will wash up on a beach

Anyone finding MADHEN EGGSPLORER-1 please contact 07969 062859 (+447969 062859 outside the UK) or email

Madhen Eggsplorer-1 flight path

The flight path can be seen above.

Unfortunately like all pioneering space missions we suffered a technical hitch and the on board camera system failed shortly after take off so pictures weren't received back at mission control. As you can see the system was working before launch as the spacecraft lay in it's pre-launch position.

madhen before launch

before launch image

A representative of MADHEN - The Ultimate Party Band  the flight principal sponsor was on hand to inspect the craft

This was the partial image received after launch as it sailed into the sky, suspended beneath the parachute.


madhen at launch

Despite the failure of the camera, the backup system sent telemetry data showing the altitude, position and temperature and pressure during the flight, which was tracked by numerous radio receivers and shown on the UKHAS tracking website.

The launch took place at the start of the show as there were some issues with getting CAA approval because the sky was very busy on the day including the last remaining Vulcan Bomber VH-558 making its farewell flight in the area, cue jokes about the Vulcan getting scrambled... but approval was given for a morning flight, not ideal for the organisers but we were still a spectacle for the handful who were there early.

Andrew Garratt (M0NRD) starting the balloon fill

Checking the lift using a bottle of 'heavy' water

Stewart Mason (M0SDM) securing payload to balloon

A strong gusty wind was blowing at launch time

Andrew and Stewart running to assist the launch

Video of the launchUuoOcMOjf4o

In addition to MADHEN Eggsplorer-1 with what remained of the Helium we also launched a foil party balloon later in the day carrying a lightweight pico-tracker donated by Steve Smith (G0TDJ) of ProjectAVR

After a worryingly slow ascent at launch, the plucky EGGDX climbed into the jet stream at approximately 6km up and was flying toward Denmark at approximately 120km/h till it hit bad weather and was downed into the sea after a 400km journey, you can the flight path compared to MADHEN Eggsplorer-1

It was a eggscellent day, and plans are already underway for Eggsplorer-2 next year...

The flight was featured on the BBC News website here

You can follow developments on twitter @eggsplorer1

South Kesteven ARS welcomes anybody with an interest in radio communications, so if want to be involved in this and other events like this please visit the South Kestevan ARS website and on twitter @M0SKR and the clubs Facebook page

GB2CAM - Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre  International Museums Weekend 21-22 July 2015

During the first International Museums Weekend, 21st/22nd July members of the South Kesteven ARS assisted in the activation of GB2CAM at the Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre.

Royal Air Force College Cranwell, the first Military Air Academy in the world, is probably the most famous landmark in Royal Air Force history. The Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre portrays the fascinating story of this historic establishment from its early days as a Royal Naval Air Service base to the current day. It is well worth a visit and entry is free.

It was a difficult weekend conditions wise and with local QRM operation was at times difficult, however a good many contacts were made over the weekend.

Arthur Moore M0GUU and Stewart Mason M0SDM can be seen operating.

Sean Burton 2E0ENN on the mike and Stewart Mason M0SDM logging.

RAYNET Presentation - 20 May 2015

On the 20th May 2015 Alan Clark M0NLR, North Lincolnshire RAYNET County Controller and Jim Wheeldon M0JHW gave a presentation to South Kesteven ARS on the work of RAYNET.

As well as describing the history of RAYNET from its inception following the East Coast floods of 1953, Alan and Jim also describe how RAYNET now provide a way of organising the valuable resource that amateur radio is able to provide to the community and has grown into a very active organisation with thousands of members, providing communication assistance on many hundreds of events and incidents each year.

They described several disaster preparedness exercises and major events RAYNET have been involved with and so impressed were they that several members of SKARS signed up as volunteers on the night.

GB5ROC - 26 April 2015

 On Sunday 26 April members of the South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society operated the special event station GB5ROC at the Buckminster Cold War Royal Observer Corps (ROC) Nuclear Bunker Open Day.

Situated on the Lincolnshire/Leicestershire border ROC Post Number 62 is leased to the UP AN’ AT EM! History project and has been restored as a museum and is managed by ​​​Jed Jaggard.  The free open day was a rare chance to visit and experience an important part of British post-war history.

These bunkers are underground structures found all over the United Kingdom, constructed as a result of the Corps’ civil defence nuclear reporting role and were operated by volunteers during the Cold War between 1955 and 1991. There was a network of over 1500 such monitoring posts around the UK designed to detect nuclear detonations and monitor blast and subsequent fallout and radiation levels should an attack take place.

Thankfully they were never used and the last of the posts were closed in 1991 when the majority of the ROC was stood down following the break-up of the Communist Bloc. Many have been demolished, fill in or adapted to other uses but the majority still exist, although in a derelict condition.

During the open day visitors had the chance to climb down into the bunker so for reasons of practicality SKARS operated GB5ROC from a tent close to the bunker hatch.


Stewart Mason (M0SDM), Andrew Garratt (M0NRD) and Sean Burton (2E0ENN) operated on 40m from 10:00 till 16:30 BST and made a total of 151 contacts mostly UK operators with a number of European stations.

Equipment was supplied by Stewart who did the majority of the operating and consisted of a Yaesu FT-897D at 100W feeding an off centre fed dipole at around 30ft on top of a Racal push up mast. Stewart also provided a new club banner.

The open day was very well attended and a number of local and not so local amateurs (one visitor from VK) came along thanks to the publicity the event had received on Facebook, Twitter, GB2RS and the Southgate ARC newsfeed. It was great to meet up and chat.

Encouragingly members of the general public were keen to learn what amateur radio was all about and they were able to take away a number of leaflets with information about the hobby and contact details for SKARS.


It was an excellent day all round with the operators have a fun time and gaining useful experience of operating a pile-up. The weather was kind with blue skies and sunshine. Hopefully it will become a regular activation at future bunker activations.

The video below Stewart operating Richard M6GPT who had tried most of the day to make contact and was successful just before the station was closed down.


SKARS member Mark (M0OBL) had monitored GB5ROC and made a video of his Elecraft K2 receiving us load and clear.8ko8TT3pRGQ

 Andrew Garratt (M0NRD)



M0OBL - Elecraft K2 Transceiver Talk - 15 April 2015


Mark Orbell M0OBL gave a very interesting and informative presentation on the Elecraft K2 Transceiver which he constructed recently from a partially built but incomplete kit purchased from a silent key sale on eBay.

Mark described the task of sorting the large number of components to identify the missing pieces and the process of building, checking and fault finding. The attention to detail in the design and the construction was particularly impressive

Being a vintage kit some of the missing original components were no longer available and Elecraft now supply replacement parts or modules which have to be squeezed in, all very fascinating.

Stewart Mason M0SDM brought along a dipole which was set up at the back of the Church Hall and Mark was able to demonstrate the impressive receiver, sadly band conditions and a shortage of time together with running at low power prevented making any contacts.

The meeting was well attended and we would like to thank all those that joined the society on the evening and/or contributed to the cost of the venue. 

ISS SSTV Activity Weekend - 11/12 April 2015

 On this weekend in April was Cosmonautics Day celebrating Yuri Gagarin’s famous flight on April 12 1961 becoming the first human to reach space.

In celebration of that momentous event the Russian Cosmonauts used amateur radio equipment on board the International Space Station to broadcast images down to Earth celebrating Gagarin’s life over the weekend.

The images were broadcast using a system called Slow Scan TV (SSTV) and radio enthusiasts were invited to receive and decode them during the short periods when the space station was in range as it orbited around the world.

Members of the South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society (SKARS) along with many others successfully received the images.

These SSTV broadcasts have proved very popular and you don’t need to a licensed amateur radio operator to receive signals or have expensive equipment. As well as dedicated amateur radio equipment anyone could have received the images with a simple dongle receiver costing around £10 that can be plugged into a computer and operated with some free software.

Receiving the signal on 145.800MHz FM and decoding using MMSSTV or other software is relatively straightforward and the transceiver used on the ISS is running at approximately 25W so guarantees good signal strength, however the knack to getting perfect pictures relies on optimising antennas and set up so is a worthwhile and rewarding exercise.

Many of the pictures received can be view on the Clubs Facebook page

Image captured by Stewart M0SDM

Image captured by Stewart M0SDM 

Image captured by Andrew M0NRD

SSDV Talk and Demonstration -18 March 2015

A spectacular partial solar eclipse took place on the 20th March 2015 in the UK, during the eclipse several HAB flights were launched to try to capture images above any cloud cover (details here)  Fellow SKARS members and members from the Grantham ARC were keen to decode the SSDV images themselves as the BBC Stargazing Live balloons were flying from nearby Leicester.

So on Wednesday 18th March Andrew Garratt M0NRD did a talk and demonstration to show how to track and decode the images, it was well received and real images were transmitted, decoded and uploaded of the audience to the UKHAS tracking system. The talk took place at the St Anne's Church Hall which SKARS hope to use for future meetings and talks.

Unfortunately technical issues prevented live images from the Stargazing HABs being transmitted but Andrew was able to decode some images from the University of Southampton OLAF payload
Andrew is currently developing a payload for a balloon flight as part of the SKARS special event station on 28 June 2015 - see Future Events page


GB2FFC -18/19 October 2014

GB2FFC was our first JOTA station.  This was activated on Saturday and Sunday the 18th and 19th October 2014 at the First Foston Scout hut.  The call - GB2FFC stood for First Foston Cubs.

It featured in the RSGB Radcom magazine and a write up detailing the operation can be found on Andrew's (M0NRD) webpage, more photos are in the gallery.

We hope to operate another JOTA station in 2015