News

At the beginning of March 2021, Ofcom put forward draft proposals to vary the vast majority of Wireless Telegraphy Act licences. This is in order to formally require licensees to comply with the ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) general public limits and thereby ensure spectrum users continue to operate services which will not adversely affect peoples’ health.

Whilst the main thrust of these measures is undoubtedly aimed at high-power wide-coverage transmissions by broadcasters, mobile phone networks and other large scale RF facilities and utilities, amateur radio licensees as well as maritime radio licensees have been caught up in the scope of the implementation. As much as we may disagree with the new requirements, you can see why we've not been granted an exemption even if it does seem like overkill.

These are still early days, and the proposals as well as the guidance notes are still all in draft format, but this is coming and coming fast. It's likely to be fully applied and enforceable before the end of the year, so it's time to take an interest and start your planning.

The RSGB are currently working with the ARRL (who are also facing the challenge of ICNIRP compliance) to provide both practical tools and advice to help to minimise the impact on amateurs whilst allowing each licensee to be able to demonstrate individual compliance with the new licencing condition.

General information from Ofcom can be found here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your-licence/emf

whilst guidance on compliance can be downloaded in .pdf form here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/214459/guidance-emf-compliance-enforcement.pdf

and information including the above flowchart specifically prepared for the amateur can be downloaded here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0026/215657/What-you-need-to-know-as-an-amateur-radio-licensee-Draft-version.pdf

The RSGB support page is here: https://rsgb.org/main/technical/emc/emf-exposure

Everyone should be mindful that the EMF calculator spreadsheet that both Ofcom and the RSGB have been working on is NOT APPLICABLE for transmissions below 10MHz. That's not to say that you don't have to bother, rather that you must use alternative methods to demonstrate that your station is in compliance at those frequencies.

 

Phil Brown M5BTB has had a fair amount of ex-GB3HY repeater equipment stored in his garage of late.

That was until today, when it was collected by Gavin G6DGK.

I believe that the intention is that if enough of it can be restored to working order (some of it has suffered from sitting around) then it will be donated to the Hastings Repeater Group.

Gordon King G3XTH writes:

"Just a report from Ian G0TJH relating to the Tait equipment. As I expected the storage over many years would possibly have caused problems.

Interesting to note that GB7ZE is both an analogue and a DMR repeater. As it uses only half the channel's bandwidth, it will support both at the same time. It's well worth looking at the GB7ZE Facebook page for more information.

The TX is working but none of the RX`s worked (not tested the second TX yet). All have suffered from the common fault of leaking caps on the CTCSS board. Replaced these and got two RX's working.

One set of filters re-tuned to RB2 with no problem. The second set need stripping down and the finger stock requires cleaning...... a job for another day. The Callsign of the repeater is GB7ZE - Hastings, and the keeper is Jamie Somerville
M0JBR"

Bringing this subject right up to date, Steve Nichols looks at the new tools available like Predtest, Proppy and Propquest and how we can use these. He also covers how they assist in preparing the propagation reports in RadCom and in general.

Catch it on the live-streamed 'Tonight @ 8' presentation on the 1st March via the RSGB's Youtube channel. Should be a decent watch, and you'll be able to submit questions to Steve via the Youtube chat. Also available on the special RSGB Tonight @ 8 BATC channel.

The RSGB has released a draft syllabus today for an additional exam type, allowing unlicenced newcomers to attain a full amateur radio licence in a single exam sitting - that is ONE exam, not a combination of the three existing exams.

Known currently as 'Direct-to-Full' it will allow an additional pathway into the hobby for those individuals that perhaps already have plenty of RF engineering experience and want a fast-path to the highest level qualification. This is reminiscent of the old Radio Amateurs Exam (RAE) in the last few years of that regime.

 

Key bullet points

  • A single 75-question multiple-choice exam (2.5 hours)
  • Available online only, not via clubs
  • Theory-only, no practicals
  • Pass mark 50/75 (67%)
  • As per existing online exams, instant results at the end of the exam, and if passed, callsign typically within a week
  • This is in addition to the existing Foundation > Intermediate > Full route

 

The Consultation

The background to this consultation and a link to the proposed syllabus can be found on the RSGB website: www.rsgb.org/direct-to-full

As in previous years I present my analysis of the Club’s HF nets for your consideration. 2020 was a difficult year to say the least with HF conditions and other factors which I hope are now behind us affecting attendances. Nevertheless, numbers on both nets increased as you can see from the following.

 

The Sunday Morning 80M Net (From 8am clocktime on 3.740 Mhz.+/-)

13 MSARS members called In, one more that last year with Phil testing antennas from several portable locations as usual. 27 non members visited us including one or two who should have paid their subs but failed to do so and so are listed as non members. You know who you are!

We were glad to welcome the return of Terry, G0SWS after his hospitalisation and wish him a speedy recovery.

Bob, N4XAT tells me that he sometimes heard us via one or other of the SDR sites even at that time in the morning.

A newcomer this year was Alain, F4GHB from Burgundy who is by now a regular call in, thanks Alain for joining us.

There were a total of 40 attendees, 5 down on last year, not surprising due to the drop off in conditions during the year. Meantime Sean and I notched up 50 more contacts between us to bring our total to 1942 contacts since 1977.

 

The Weekday 20M Net at 1330 clocktime on 14.345 Mhz Monday-Friday.

The difficulties that we have all faced during 2020 forcing many of us to stay at home resulted in an upturn in the number of MSARS members joining the lunchtime nets. 15 members called in during the year up from 9 the previous year and 34 other non-member stations made a total of 49 participants.

Bob, N4XAT was regularly heard on CW sometimes directly from his magloop in New Jersey and his daily sitreps were a boon to those testing antennas. Thanks again Bob.

David, WB1EAD in Maine was again a regular showing how conditions on 20m are getting better as the new cycle starts to improve. Another newcomer was Barry SA7GDB an Englishman living in Sweden who gives me 5/9+20 sometimes and is another of our frequent visitors.

Some of us, including me have had trouble with our equipment and antennas during the year and these daily nets are an ideal place to look for help or components to solve our problems although at this time we are not allowed to visit one and another’s QTH to help with antennas.

The nets are a boon to those of us now living alone and this aspect of amateur radio cannot be overstated.

I hope that later in the year the restrictions can be relaxed and that face to face meetings can take place. In the meantime, take advantage of your licence, and keep in touch over the air as often as you can. You will be made very welcome. Keep the overs short but join in as often as you can.

73, Ken , G3WYN.