|G7MFR||Chris||Lee o.t. Solent|
|M0SLL||Dave||Lee o.t. Solent|
|2E0LLD||Edwin||Lee o.t. Solent|
2E0WDR - Steve
Getting Started in 4m – a personal voyage
My initial interest in radio was to be able to operate HF on our yacht, with a view to being able to participate in the maritime mobile nets. I was already qualified to operate marine VHF, MF and HF, but with the decline of coast radio stations worldwide, the ability to legally operate on amateur bands presented a clear advantage. To facilitate this, I gained my Foundation and Intermediate licences and am working towards my Full. During this process, I discovered the UHF and VHF bands, for which my home location is ideal. I live at 400ft (145m) above sea level, in a relatively quiet RF environment, with a clear sea path towards the Solent, but only have a small garden, which does not lend itself so well to HF. I discovered the existence of 4m nets through a mention in Practical Wireless of the Blackmoor Vale Wednesday night net, centred on Bulbarrow Hill, on 70.425MHz. I initially made contact whilst mobile in Bovington with both mobile and handheld sets.
As a first set, I purchased a second hand Garex 4001, also known as the AKD or Spectrum 4001 and a Wouxun KG-UVD1P handheld. A contemporary review of the AKD 4001 can be found on page 21 in the June 1992 Practical Wireless https://worldradiohistory.com/UK/Practical/Wireless/90s/PW-1992-06.pdf . I experimented with a number of aerials, culminating in the use of a Moonraker 5/8 end wave, which had the advantage at my home QTH of the element being encased in fibreglass and capable of weather proofing with amalgamating tape – with the sea on 3 sides, this is effectively a high altitude marine environment. This is mounted at gutter height, which gives it some protection from southerly winds, but can be vulnerable to gales from other directions. For high wind conditions at home, I also have a ½ wave dipole in the loft and a 5/8 end wave, which can be suspended from a roach pole, in lieu of the rooftop antenna.
I first made contact with G3WIE in Sep 19, whilst afloat in Southampton, and was invited to join the Sunday morning 4m net, on 70.325MHz. Despite being surrounded on all sides by high buildings, and operation with an antenna about 1m above sea level, I managed to join in the Sunday net, with varying degrees of connectivity. An opinion was expressed that I should be able to join in from my home QTH, in the Purbeck Hills, so the challenge was set! Initially, reception was significantly better than being received, and being mobile, at the end of the lane was often more successful than transmitting from home. On both the boat and the car, a ¼ whip have proved successful. The next steps to improve transmissions from home were to install the 5/8 end wave, followed subsequently by a masthead pre-Amp and upgrading the Garex to the latest spec. I also installed a BHI digital sound processing speaker, which significantly reduces background noise and enables reception of weaker signals. My most recent addition to the setup has been a Pye A200 linear amplifier (thanks to Ian M6OVN), which adds about an S point to my signal strength. I am generally the westernmost operator on the Sunday morning 4m net. Over the course of these updates, I have progressed from signal reports of 4/4 to regular 5/7 to 5/9. Some of the net contacts have been particularly satisfying (even before fitting the amp), as I have successfully worked Hindhead, (108km), Chactonbury Rings (N of Worthing) (120 km) and Tonyrefail, just west of Pontypridd (146.5km). Two of the challenges of the 4m band are ducting and sporadic E. This can aid transmissions but can also lead to the inadvertent reception of broadcast stations from Eastern Europe / Russia. Temperature inversions and calm seas aid propagation over the water.
4m lives up to its reputation as the friendly band, and I have received encouragement and advice from amongst others G3WIE Chris, G3XUX Ted, G0GFD Keith, G1JRU Del, M6OVN Glyn, G0UZL Chris, G0ROJ Peter.
TNX and 73