The eighth Scottish Microwave Round Table (GMRT) was held on Saturday 3 November 2018 at the Museum of Communication (MOC), Burntisland. Thirty-four participants attended the event during the day.
The MOC opened its doors at 9:30 AM, and it was soon full of life as stalls were set up and early arrivals chatted over welcome cups of coffee and tea, eager to make the most of the day. Time to chat is an important feature of the leisurely programme of the GMRTs, and as in previous years plenty of time was allocated for this purpose between presentations. Throughout the day participants also made good use of the test and measurement facilities provided by Brian Flynn GM8BJF and David Stockton GM4ZNX. They were in the museum display area as usual, along with the tables occupied by traders.
The presentations started at 10:30 AM with a welcome to the venue by Professor Tom Stevenson from the MOC. Martin Hall GM8IEM, the UK Microwave Group (UkuG) Scottish representative, then welcomed the participants and acted as chair for the rest of the proceedings.
Following on from his presentation last year David Anderson GM6BIG provided an update on the 3cm beacon construction project, which is now nearing completion – “3 cm Beacon Update”. He described some of the practical aspects of achieving the high technical specification required for the environment in which it will be installed, and how problems identified during testing had been overcome. The beacon itself was available for inspection and attracted much attention at the end of the talk.
After a short break Gordon Curry GI6ATZ provided a well-illustrated presentation on the “NI Beacon Cluster” (GB3NGI), which is located on an exposed site 500 metres above sea level atop Slieve Anorra Mountain in County Antrim, Northern Ireland (IO65VB). After a description of the early beacon equipment, Gordon moved on to tell us about the build and implementation of the current set-up, which is based on the Next Generation Beacon hardware. What came over clearly was the difficulty of keeping the beacons operating in such a hostile and inaccessible environment, so well done the team that keeps them going! For operational details see https://www.qsl.net/gb3ngi/index.html
Whilst lunch was being set up in the conference room, attendees assembled in the museum where the entries for the GM4LBV Projects Trophy were displayed. The usual excellent buffet lunch (included in the entrance fee) was provided by the MOC volunteers.
The afternoon session kicked off with a fascinating talk by John Cooke GM8OTI entitled “Deep Space Project” in which he described his interest in monitoring telemetry from distant spacecraft. John likes the challenge of building minimum cost systems, and his home-brew rotator for a small dish for tracking spacecraft showed his ingenuity at its best and provided a stimulus to the audience to explore similar innovative approaches in their own projects.
After a short break we had a departure from the normal format when James Gentles GM4WZP, supported by Andy Sinclair MM0FMF, conducted a brainstorming session under the title “Crowd Design of a 13cm Portable Aerial”. This was to meet their objective of developing a 13cm antenna which was suitable for SOTA and highly reproducible at low cost, to complement the widely used SG Labs 13cm transverter. This evolved into a lively discussion about the merits of different options and resulted in some very useful information to form the basis for proceeding with the project, as well as helping those merely listening to understand the pros and cons of a range of solutions.
During the afternoon break Brian Flynn GM8BJF and David Stockton GM4ZNX judged the entries for the GM4LBV Projects Trophy, and the trophy was now presented to the winner Peter Howson GM8GAX (Alloa) for his reflectometer for 70cm, 23 cm & 13 cm.
There was then a brief discussion about the future of GMRT events, during which there was widespread support for the event to continue on an annual basis, and it was agreed that we should hold the ninth GMRT on Saturday 2 November 2019 - put the date in your diaries now!
As in previous years the museum volunteers had kept us well supplied with tea, coffee, biscuits and scones (plain and jam!) throughout the day, as well as providing a splendid buffet lunch. Andy Sinclair MM0FMF thanked them thanked for their efforts, and each was awarded a gift to a round of applause from the appreciative audience.
During the course of the day those present provided updates to the Directory of Scottish Microwave Activity, which also includes stations in nearby areas that can reasonable worked from GM. This is intended as a reference for those considering who they might be able to work on the microwave bands (especially when upgrading their stations), and the latest issue will be made available via the UkuG group, gm13 group, and GMDX Digest.
Many attendees (and some YL/XYLs) moved on to the Kingswood Hotel in the evening for further chat and an excellent meal, followed by an auction of microwave related publications and hardware which raised money for MOC funds. We missed the entertainment provided in previous years by the “Microwave Band”, several of whose members were unable to attend this year, but this was made up for by technical discussions and social chit-chat which continued well into the evening, providing an opportunity to get to know our fellow enthusiasts better.
At the dinner the organising committee were thanked for their hard work in making the 2018 GMRT yet another success, and those gathered drank a toast to them. The "organising committee" (Roger Blackwell GM4PMK, John Cooke GM8OTI, Brian Flynn GM8BJF, David Stockton GM4ZNX, Colin Wright GM4HWO and Ian White GM3SEK.) thanks the MOC volunteers for all their efforts before and during the event, and Lothians RS members Peter Dick GM4DTH, Andy Sinclair MM0FMF and Alan Masson GM3PSP for local support.
21-Nov-18 Prepared by Martin Hall GM8IEM and Brian Flynn GM8BJF.