This weekend saw a few extremely committed members take on what was by far (I imagine, though I’m happy to be corrected) the biggest and most expansive demonstration of amateur radio equipment the club has ever attempted.

There were a few apprehensive visits to various weather websites on Saturday evening and a restless night for some, but once Sunday morning rolled around we were thankfully greeted with dry conditions underfoot and a uniformly pale grey sky. I for one would have been royally cheesed-off if I had found an event cancellation notification in my inbox, but fortunately there was Nothing Heard.

Peter (Left), Merv, Chris, Adrian (Right)

Myself, Mervyn M0WVE, Chris M7VJE, Phil G4UDU and Peter G4AKG rocked up in St. Johns Park at 9:00am with all the gear and plenty of ideas. A sensible amount of planning had gone into assembling something cohesive for Town Day, but it certainly wasn’t onerous. Each individual’s preparation efforts though, were clearly erudite and thoughtful.

We were also relying on our innate ability to make things happen with whatever we had packed in the cars and I never doubted that we would be able to put on a decent display, and so it proved.

Were there things we could have done better? Of course, but I was hugely proud of what our little group achieved, and we were grateful for the support early-doors of Adrian M0TCD and Russell G7TMR, and I can’t thank them enough for being there. Every single member would have been welcome to join us, and whilst I appreciate that several people have very real reasons for not being able to attend, I’m sad that the rest of you missed out on what was a historic landmark in the club’s history.

I’m not overstating that point either. It’s a seminal moment when the club puts on the biggest public-facing display of radio technology in it’s history, and there wasn’t a single SSB phone contact made all day. In fact I’m not sure we even had a microphone with us, let alone a Morse key and yet we made multiple contacts via DMR handhelds across the internet, had QSO’s via CubeSats passing overhead in Low Earth Orbit, and logged many FT8 contacts across multiple HF bands.

Many screens were deployed. Now where does the blue wire go?

We had our very own KiwiSDR running on screens within a welcoming open-sided event shelter, and hardware SDRs running on other laptops and monitors (in fact we had more laptops, displaying more engaging, relatable information, maps and data than I could have realistically imagined). There were multiple laptops and iPads running FlexRadio’s SmartSDR remote client software too, all hooked up to Phil’s HF station at home. Most sub-stations were tethered to phones or using 4G dongles.

Merv M0WVE's lovely Baby Tarheel antenna

We had digital hotspots, an EFHW ‘inverted L’ HF antenna resonant on 40m 20m 15m and 10m (you simply have to have a big ‘ole antenna up at these gigs, if only to get you noticed) a Tarheel multi-band antenna on a tripod and the little Procom wideband antenna I’m currently testing up on an 8 foot pole. There was a big 32” flat-screen continually playing-out RSGB promotional videos and AMSAT tutorials etc. whilst other monitors were displaying various slices of radio spectrum and waterfall visualisations.

Chris M7VJE brought along an impressive digital voice demonstration

All this was kept fed by Phil G4UDU’s fantastic little Honda generator, which was more than up to the job, and which ran whisper-quiet all day. A 1kW generator was probably overkill, or so you would have thought - but we were actually consuming more than half of that output to keep all the amazing tech powered up!

Super-quiet Honda 1kW generator. I want one.

The fair did endure a couple of light rain showers during the morning, and that undoubtedly affected visitor numbers generally, but things cheered up again in the afternoon and a few more people showed up. Given the relatively small attendance, I thought we did really well in attracting several interesting people to our pitch. A long-term CBer considering the foundation exam, a leader from the Air Cadets keen on working with us on a collaboration, a professional comms. engineer who was genuinely impressed with what he saw, a couple of SWL’s potentially interested in taking their hobby further and three of four licenced amateurs who checked in, all of whom either already follow our website updates or who went away having scanned our URL QR codes.

Our QR codes were well-scanned on the day

We also had constructive discussions with Scout and Guide leaders around future radio-related opportunities. Everyone who visited went away with a slick colour RSGB leaflet, and the resonating sound of can-do MSARS attitude in their lug-holes.

Chris M7VJE, Russell G7TMR, Merv M0WVE, and Peter Chapman, Burgess Hill Town Mayor

We even caught the eye of the new Town Mayor, Peter Chapman AKA Mr BHU accompanied by fellow town councillor Anne Eves. I hope they appreciate the up-tick in their kudos gained from their association with the Mid Sussex Amateur Radio Society :)

It was great to have Adrian there, and we did manage to have a brief chat about training during the day, but we intend to get together soon to flesh out what we think can be achieved on that front, so watch this space.

As it happens, Adrian is also the caretaker of the QRZ pages for the club’s various call signs, and this proved useful on the day as he was required to make another landmark change for the club, because for the first time ever we were operating the G5RV callsign on digital modes! This was explicitly contradicted by the existing QRZ entry, and that was therefore duly updated to reflect its new status as of Sunday. I will manually get those QSOs uploaded somewhere online ASAP for the benefit of all those that clamoured to get that one in the log. A collector’s item for sure.

G5RV on 20m into all of Europe, Japan and East Coast USA

The G5RV call was heard across the world, including Japan and Australia

We also used our personal callsigns on the day, as well as our Special Event Callsign for Burgess Hill Town Day - GB1BH.

Special Event Station GB1BH was also heard in 11 countries

Yes, all those years of discounting the illegal use of Louis’ legendary callsign by unscrupulous operators around the world, and then we broke out the big guns officially on Sunday. We absolutely battered the globe with our treasured and much vaunted identifier, and I hope Louis would approve of its use in signalling the start of a new chapter for our club in this digitally enhanced world. The G5RV callsign racked up 844 reports and was heard in 54 different countries in one day. Now that's never happened before!

There is now undoubtedly a solid core of members with the foresight, enthusiasm and determination to usher the club forward, because it’s desperately in need of a technology transfusion.

I’m also happy to note the positive outlook of many of the club’s elders, and I have to register my respect for that. Clubs that can’t assimilate the latest technological advancements will not fare well in the coming years. There is room for all disciplines within amateur radio, and that’s what makes it great in my opinion. Now let’s crack on, because this is happening!

Berni M0XYF

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