History

Previous club newsletters, called "Mid Sussex Matters" are a goldmine of great information and club news dating back many years. Here we have assembled those from 2020, and we hope to restore some of the older newsletters for your enjoyment in the future. They are in .pdf format, and you will therefore requre Adobe Reader or a suitable browser plugin to read them.

 

  January 2020 - (1.7MB)
  February 2020 - (2.8MB)
  March 2020 - (3.4MB)
  April 2020 - (2.0MB)
  May 2020 - (2.6MB)
  June 2020 - (2.9MB)
  July 2020 - (2.1MB)
  August 2020 - (2.5MB)
  September 2020 - (1.3MB)
  October 2020 - (2.0MB)
  November 2020 - (3.7MB)
  January 2021 - (2.6MB)

 

Summary of the life and times of Louis Varney

Born: 9th June 1911

Died: 28th June 2000 aged 89

Louis Varney G5RV, - FOC7, RSARS795, RAOTA, RSGB, ARRL.

Call Signs Used: 2ARV (1927) - VP4RV - VP5RV - VP6RV - VP7RV - PJ5AA - PJ5CA - PX1RV - EP2RV - ON8RV - 9Y4RV - 8P6DF - VK9LV - YJ8RV - FO0RV - CX5RV - PY1ZAR - TU4AJ - EI2VPL - G5RV/GC - GI - GM - GW - F7 - PA0 - IL - IT1 - LA - SM - OZ - DL - CT1 - EA8 - VP9 - W2 - VE3 - XE1 - TG9 - YS - TI2 - HP1 - YV5 - HK3 - HC1 - OA4 - CE3 - LU - 9G1 - 5N2 - 5Z4 - 9J2 - 5U7 - XT2 - OD5 - VS6 - VK2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - ZP5. (Total of 60)


Photo by Ron Glover G0WGPInventor of the world-famous G5RV antenna, and member of the RSGB for 74 years. He moved to Burgess Hill in November 1968. At the January 1969 AGM of the Mid-Sussex Amateur Radio Society (MSARS), Louis was made President. At the January 1977 AGM Louis was voted ‘Life President’ of MSARS (23 Years).

Louis presented a trophy to the club, to be awarded to the person that the committee selected, for ‘Outstanding work or achievement above 30 MHz’.

Louis’ first and main hobby was his amateur radio, and his collection of antique radio equipment & valves, but he also enjoyed painting, gardening and foreign languages. His own collection included a ‘Rice’ microphone, various valves and several pieces of telegraph equipment, now at the Museum of Submarine Telegraphy at Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall.

While with the Marconi Company he was a ‘Technical Representative’ for Venezuela Marconi, including traveling to Peru and the Caribbean. He was then head-hunted by Preece, Cardew & Rider, to install and commission radio stations as a Consultant Engineer for NATO in Paris, Europe and Middle East etc. Occasionally he returned to the stations to confirm their operation. Whilst Louis worked for the Marconi company he shook hands with Mr Marconi*.

A portrait of Louis Varney was commissioned by MSARS (by artist Ken Farmer) and unveiled on November 9th 2001 at Marle Place. It now hangs in the radio shack at Cyprus Hall.

Louis was a delightful man, and a great personality. His G5RV Licence was granted to MSARS by his wife Nelida Varney. More information on Louis Varney is available here on the Mid-Sussex Amateur website.

*Guglielmo Marconi took out the first wireless telegraph patent in June 2, 1896. In 1901 Marconi succeeded in transmitting and receiving signals between Newfoundland and Cornwall. Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909.

G5RV Multiband Antenna

Courtesy ARRL Antenna Compendium Vol 1

Download as a .pdf file

Last Stagecoach To Amberley

Readers of Westerns will be familiar with the stock opening. Take, as an example, "The Last Stagecoach into Abilene".

Stagecoach to Amberley

The Stagecoach rolls into Abilene, late. It comes to a halt outside the Silken Garter saloon. The first of the arriving travelers to step down is a young attractive lady, wearing fancy eastern clothes and a haughty expression.

Next is a tall stranger. He tips the brim of his Stetson to the lady as she strides off across the street to the hotel while he makes his way into the saloon.

The man riding shotgun, a grizzled old-timer, clambers down from the top of the stage and tells the waiting crowd, who can hardly take their eyes off the rear of the departing fancy eastern clothes, that the coach is late 'cos o' them pesky injuns who’d come a whoopin' outa the hills the other side of Rattlesnake Pass.

Some of the spirit of the Old West remains in place today in West Sussex.

The Stagecoach rolls into Amberley, late. It comes to a halt outside the station yard. The only arriving traveller to step down is me.

Nobody is riding shotgun on the Stagecoach Bus, the special Sunday's only service between Burgess Hill and Pulborough by way of Amberley, running under contract to West Sussex County Council, to explain why it's late.

I know why because I witnessed it all an hour ago when the driver of a Range Rover misjudged the pattern of the continuous line of parked vehicles in Bramber.

The resulting confusion, when he ended up facing the Amberley Stage head-on with cars piling up behind in both directions, took a time to sort out. The driver of the Amberley Stage lacked the eloquence of a grizzled old-timer when he voiced an opinion of the Range Rover driver.

Through the reverse image from the oversize mirror in the driver's cab I was able to lip-read every syllable of his forthright, colourful delivery and no mention of pesky was made.

Morse Shack

It's the last day of September and there are two reasons why I'm at the Amberley Museum today. It’s Autumn Crafts and Skills Day, billed as 'A chance for accompanied children to try their hand at a range of craft activities'.

First job is to get the Radio Station set up with the sign 'Try your hand at Morse, send your name in Morse Code and receive a certificate' prominently displayed.

There are already a few visitors circulating.

At one end of the building housing the Wireless exhibits the sombre tones of Neville Chamberlain are issuing a sixty-eight year old declaration of war from a radio set of that period.

In lighter vein, from another part of the building, Flotsam and Jetsam, a popular vocal duo of that same period, are singing about little Miss Bouncer who loves an announcer down at the BBC.

I unlock a couple of cabinets, throw three or four switches and the Radio Station is ready for action. There are two HF rigs available for operation, a Trio 530 and a Kenwood 570.

The 530 has a history. Formerly owned by G5RV, Louis had bequeathed it to the RAIBC. Johnny, G3MJK, the chairman of that club decided that because of its pedigree the rig ought to be preserved and accordingly donated it to the Museum, where it is fired up from time to time to keep it in trim. It's still capable of delivering 100 watts but lacks the filtering on receive found on the 570 which is a big plus in view of the locally generated static.

Louis' Trio 530

With the 570 running I check 80 metres to find a signal strong enough to surmount the S9 plus of noise and get an entry in the log from a /P in South Wales who is at a kite flying rally and has an enormous length of wire up.

Now the serious business of the day begins. Usually the Morse key attracts a few inquisitive fingers but as this is billed as a hands-on event everyone seems to be up for it today.

With the aid of a chart of the Morse alphabet and brief instructions on the keying of a dot and a dash from me it is no time before eager hands are clutching prized certificates.

There are also questions to be answered. When, where and why did Morse originate? Is it still in use today? Have you ever heard an SOS message? All good stuff but it’s not all about Morse.

Stopping by for a chat are people who have just come across the very same Wireless Set/TV that their dad brought home years ago when they were still at school.

Old soldiers have just seen a 19 set and a 22 set and reminisce of times when they operated them at Catterick or was it Calcutta? The passage of time has distanced their minds from the exact location but wherever it was its good for a yarn. Then of course inevitably there are the Radio Amateurs

A fortnight earlier, then in company with Tony G3XQM, it seemed more than co-incidence that so many Isle of Wight Amateurs were present. It was the day of the Museums annual mid September Bus Show and it transpired that with a bus coming over on the ferry from the island for the Show, the members of the famous Brickfields ARS were making it an opportunity for a day out.

They deserved it, with the work they put in, running all those special events stations. The Needles Lighthouse and the Marconi sites come to mind, so it was great to meet up with a very interesting bunch.

There was the chap telling us of the bits of the original Marconi mast base that are still being turned up when the field at the site is ploughed. Another was the collector of old 405 line TVs, so many that they are housed in a 3,000 sq. ft. shed. Then there was the Intermediate License Holder who worked ZL with 50 watts and an inverted V on 80 mtrs. Makes you wonder.

Back to today and I’m still putting the children through their paces, or is it the other way around? Most of the names are short, Josh, Emma, Max, so the certificates are issuing thick and fast.

I complain of the need for a rest and then there steps forward a young lady who is going to help me out because she tells me she has a really long name. I'm occupied tidying up the shack whilst she sends.

"So you’re Madeleine?" I ask her. She smiles and nods her head. Her mother comments that it was clever because I wasn't even watching but mum is wrong, what was really clever was that this little ten year old has laid her hand on a key for the first time and sent her name at a fair clip, faultlessly.

Just before closing for the day another high spot occurs. By a combination of arm-twisting and leg-pulling an entire family, three children, mum, dad and grandma are talked into taking their Morse tests and as they meander off, still chuckling, past the mock-up of the bomber wireless cabin, each is grasping a certificate.

Signing out and making my way along the path to the station yard I reflect on the last few enjoyable hours but what is to come and the second reason for my visit today is not so pleasant.

The contract for the Sunday bus service is expiring today, probably because of a tightening of the purse strings by West Sussex County Council. So cos o' them mean ornery critters at Chichester I'm about to climb onto "The Last Stagecoach into Amberley".

Written by Ron Glover G0WGP

Louis has a field day

For NFD this year MSARS again used our much treasured call, G5RV, for the two Metre station entry and, elsewhere in these pages, there is an account of the operation.

At some later date we will learn of our degree of success in the contest but before then I would like to take you back in time to an earlier NFD when G5RV himself competed.

The year is 1948. The Amateur Band allocation for two metres was released in two segments in 1948 and 1949 but it was not until ten years after that, in 1959, that the first VHF Field Day took place. Back in 1948 the contest Louis is taking part in is on HF and what’s more, in his preferred mode, CW

The local press picks up on the story and this is their reporter's version of the event.

"Crouched over their transmitting and receiving sets in two tents in a meadow behind the Running Mare, Galleywood, nine Chelmsford radio amateurs, several of whom have held licenses for over twenty years, contacted the world during the weekend. They were one of the five portable stations in Essex taking part in the National Field Day organized by the Radio Society of Great Britain.

The rules of this field day were that the amateurs must use portable sets, must be under canvas, aerials and masts must not be fixed to buildings and they must not use a mains electricity supply.

Although the members thoroughly enjoyed the field day, which started on Saturday at five in the evening and continued till five on Sunday, it was organized as a practice for making amateur stations available to the authorities in times of national emergency.

These radio "hams" are members of a world-wide movement which embraces every creed and colour in one brotherhood. Among them there is a prince and the mayor of a large English industrial town. They bar politics in their conversations and boast "ours is a world of total peace."

The two stations in Galleywood, which are known throughout the world by the call-signs G5RV and G2HPF transmitted on four wavelengths - G5RV on 170 and 80 metre bands and G2HBF on 20 and 40 metres.

They picked up messages from Jersey, C.I., Holland, Eire, Czechoslovakia, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, and Hungary.

Messages consisted simply of code words giving the strength of the signals and greetings. At other times the "hams" held conversations with other amateurs across the globe as easy as two people converse in a room, using no more power than is required for a motor car side lamp."

That report shows that the newspaperman had been well primed, and even in those instances where there is a suggestion of intrigue, with the operators "crouched over their transmitting and receiving sets" and "messages consisting of code words" it is likely that Louis would have approved. After all it was only eighteen months earlier that he'd been released from his SCU in Royal Signals where his wartime duties gave him scope for a spot of cloak and dagger.

The A Team: G5RV G2AAU G6LB G3CKJ G2SA

Let us now look at the event from the alternative perspective, Louis' log and the entries for the 5th and 6th June 1948.

June 5th 1948

QTH - Meadow back of Running Mare, Galleywood

Tx. CO – PA. Input 4.4 W

Rx. HRO

Ant.   270’ long wire

What does that tell us? Well, for openers Louis wasn’t going to go short on creature comforts. The Running Mare, a short walk from Louis home in Galleywood Road, was his local, so how civilized is that? Incidentally, I've googled it and not only is the Running Mare still there but the Google Earth link shows that the meadow also remains in place.

The transmitter, the CO is almost certainly the Colpitts Oscillator, built by Louis in 1927, which survived to be exhibited by him when he was the guest of honour at the Leicester Rally in 1998.

HRO

For those of you unfamiliar with the HRO receiver, in its army designation it is the R106, has plug-in coils and weighs a ton. I’m exaggerating, maybe it’s only half a ton but you get the idea.

Louis, still fit from his army service and just four days shy of his 37th Birthday would have had his work cut out to lug it across the meadow but no doubt he would have had some help from the rest of his team. The long wire antenna; no problems there, the Google link shows plenty of trees surrounding the meadow to support 270 feet of wire.

With the contest scheduled to start at 1700 hrs, on the 5th of June, the five man team get off to a slow start, recording their first entry in the log at 1747, on 80 metres.

G5RV log start

From then onwards, rotating, in shifts of from one to two hours, members are making a steady number of contacts, mostly Gs but a few from overseas are also giving and receiving good reports.

Once the log registers the last contact before midnight Louis changes the date to June 6th Sunday, confirming my thought that it is being maintained in BST. The contacts begin falling off around 01.30, so he now QSYs to Top Band where things are a lot livelier for a couple of hours.

There's a bit of a slack period after that but changing back to 80 metres at 5 o'clock changes their luck when Rotterdam and Jersey are logged. Rubbing the sleep from its eyes the rest of the country is waking up and from then onwards, by continually switching between the two bands, the team keep things ticking over until the last contact of the contest is made at 1659. Louis makes the final entry in the log. “1700hrs. OFF  STATION  G5RV/P  CLOSED”

G5RV log finish

In all, 114 contacts and against each of them Louis has recorded the number of points awarded, ranging from one to four, and to begin with the numbers aren’t making much sense. Distance worked doesn’t seem to have a great deal of bearing on the result.

How can it be that a contact between Chelmsford and Chingford, in the same county, qualifies for three points whilst Chelmsford to a GM in Stirling is only worth one? I ponder this for a minute or two and then it all clicks into place. You calculate one point for a UK base station, two points for an overseas base station with a bonus of two points for /P for either.

Nothing startling by way of DX but nevertheless satisfying to work an Easy Item an Oboe King and an Oboe Nan. Indulge me; I’m still back in 1948, visualizing Louis and his boys dismantling their gear and trooping into the Running Mare for a sustaining pint or two so that they can cart that blooming great HRO back home.

Written by Ron Glover G0WGP