The Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust are based at the former Midsomer Norton South Railway Station. The postal address is Midsomer Norton Station, Silver Street, Midsomer Norton, BA3 2EY. However, there are some specific details that will be of interest to radio hams:

  • Lat/Long: 51.281077°,-2.482759°
  • IARU: IO81sg
  • IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
  • WAB: ST65 – England


The weekend of 27/28 September, aside from being the weekend of the National Hamfest, was the weekend set aside for Railways on the Air. This is one of our bigger special events and it is our fourth year of operation.

We were blessed with good weather on both days and a good turnout of members and visitors throughout the weekend.

As last year we set up our HF SSB station in the carriage adjacent to the buffet car. The carriage had been altered since our last visit and allowed us to face the door whilst operating so as to be able to greet any visitors, although this meant that visitors first perceptions of us, aside from our sunny demeanour, was the back of the rig, ATU and PSU and its associated cabling which is not, perhaps, the most attractive view and something that even our youngest members were unable to fully compensate for.

Setting up on the Saturday morning went more or less to plan until it came time to put up the antenna. Last year had shown us that a half size G5RV at 15.55m (51 feet) in length fitted nicely between roach poles strapped to either end of our railway carriage, with the standard railway carriage length being 19.5m (64 feet) and our plan was to repeat this arrangement this year.

Unfortunately, and unbeknown to us, the vertical "handrails" at either end of our carriage had been removed as part of the refurbishment/restoration/conversion process. This was a shame as last year the carriage had formed a really useful prop to the end of antenna supports.

This year we had to resort to using the rail on the adjoining buffet car at one end and on a locomotive a couple of wagons away at the other end. In and of itself not a major problem, but it did mean that the roach poles had to do much more work this year as instead of having the full height of the operating carriage to resist the tension from the antenna self weight and wind load, this time they had to rely on their own tensile properties and a couple of velcro staps at the base and about 1500mm above the base.

Henryk M0HTB and Andy G7KNA setting up the antenna at the buffet carAntenna at the Locomotive EndDroopy Half Size G5RV

The inevitable happened, and as the antenna was drawn up to provide something approaching a horizontal line the tension was too much and the roach pole at the buffet car snapped its second telescopic section.

It wasn’t the end of the world, collapsing that section into the base restored sufficient structural integrity all be it at the expense of some height which if Louis Varney is to be believed is of little importance over the last sixth of the antennas length in any case. But it did make us more circumspect about tensioning the antenna with the result that this year our antenna was a bit of a droopy affair!

All set for the offLaptop running HRD for loggingPeter G0DRX operating GB0SDR with David G7BYN logging

Never the less, aside from this setback we were on air. Our first contact at around 11:45 BST was GB5ABA the Special Event Station for the West Midlands Air Ambulance, they are fund raising through their QSL cards and donating proceeds to the West Midlands Air Ambulance. There was a small pile-up trying to work Neville but we managed to crack through it on the first or second call so we felt our station was fine even if the aesthetics could have done with a bit more work. A similar result occurred with our first RotA contact of the day with GB1BAS the Bickershaw and Abram Railway Station when we punched through the pile-up there too!

Not all pile-ups were as easy to crack, Pete G0DRX initially failed to emulate the success of both Andy G7KNA and Dave G7BYN although he made many contacts and is to be congratulated for having reserves of feeder which was to prove invaluable through the weekend.

South Bristol Banner at Midsomer NortonObligatory SnacksHear No Evil, See No Evil

The day moved on in this fashion as we took turns between operating, logging, chatting to visitors, many of whom were lapsed hams, touring the station. By the end of the first day we had logged 42 contacts including 14 other RotA registered operations, 5 other Special Event Stations and 2 members of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust who used Amateur Radio to pass their apologies for not being able to get to the AGM.

Thanks should go to the members of SBARC who turned up and supported and helped, in no particular order: Andy G7KNA, Dave G7BYN, Henryk M0HTB, Peter G0DRZ, Eddie 2E0LJT, Tania 2E0TUK, Josh 2E0DSR and Doug G1TYK and anyone I may have inadvertently forgotten

On the Sunday we were joined by a couple of our younger Foundation Licensees who took the opportunity to operate the Special Event Station.

Tom M3TWJ Operating with Ashley M6USP loggingTom M3TWJ Operating with Ashley M6USP loggingTom M3TWJ Operating with Ashley M6USP logging

As the antenna had been left up overnight setup on the Sunday was more efficient and we opened our account shortly after 10:00 BST with a QSO with North Norfolk Railway to set the tone for the day. We found that new RotA registered stations were thinner on the ground today, although we had changed our operating method a little and were working less Special Event stations as we were calling CQ rather than hunting and pouncing. As a result our early work rate was quite high with 15 QSOs in the first hour.

As things were ticking along quite nicely in the afternoon as a “proof of concept” experiment we decided to try to set up a PSK31 station. This consisted of:

  • Yaesu FT-857 HF/VHF/UHF Multi-mode 100W transceiver;
  • 20m Full Wave Delta Loop Antenna with ability to work 30m as a loaded full wave loop, 40m as half wave inverted V-dipole and 15m as a 1.5 wave inverted V-dipole;
  • Watson Power Mite NF25 Switch Mode Power Supply;
  • LDG Z-11 Pro Mk I Auto ATU;
  • Signalink USB Digi Modes Adapter;
  • Diamond SX600 SWR/Power Meter; and
  • Acer Aspire 1 Intel Atom Netbook running Elementary OS (a combination of Ubuntu and Enlightenment Desktop) using FLDigi for PSK31.

It took a little while to get set up, the antenna was constructed around the static goods wagon that forms a feature near the Trust’s museum, and the station itself was set up in the gazebo outside out operating carriage and adjacent to the buffet car.

The Data StationDelta Loop AntennaDelta Loop Antenna

30m wasn’t really that active for data so we switched to 20m. Conscious that we were now working two stations with antennas in close proximity on harmonically related bands we were expecting some issues with interference but nothing manifested itself. Part of this might have been the fact that the antennas were cross polarised, that is the half size G5RV was horizontally polarised whilst the top fed Delta Loop was vertically polarised plus the G5RV was radiating more or less north-south whilst the Delta Loop was more or less east-west.

We didn’t have a great deal of operating time on PSK31 but we managed to have 6 QSOs in PSK31 with stations in Italy, Norway, Germany, Austria and Spain. Most enjoyable was the contact with IN3GNV Giovanni who went away from the standard macro driven rubber stamp QSOs for a personal keyboard to keyboard QSO. Andy G7KNA was operating the PSK31 station at the time and was more than willing to reciprocate with equally non-macro responses and information. In fact the two had worked before, on 17 September 2010 Andy G7KNA operating as GB2BLE from Lundy Island had an equally enjoyable and unscripted QSO with IN3GNV just before the station was packed up for the year. It was memorable precisely because it was personal and not macro driven.

Thanks for help and support on the Sunday go, in no particular order, to Andy G7KNA, Dave G7BYN, Henryk M0HTB, Tom M3TWJ, Ashley M3USP and anyone else who might have been forgotten.


Date of Contact Time Station Worked Band or Freq (MHz) Mode TX RX Operator’s Name QTH IARU Locator Distance (km) Notes
27/09/2014 10:47 GB5ABA 40m SSB 59   59   Nevil Walsall      
27/09/2014 11:13 GB1BAS 40m SSB 59   59   Jason Bickershaw     RotA Bickershaw and Abrham Railway Station
27/09/2014 11:17 GB14NH 40m SSB 59   59   Jamie       Newark Radio Rally
27/09/2014 11:35 GB0GNA 40m SSB 59   59   Carl Hartlepool     A013 International Air Ambulance Week WW1 Gun Battery Museum
27/09/2014 11:47 GB0ELR 40m SSB 58       Steve Ramsbottom     RotA East Lancashire Railway
27/09/2014 11:56 GB2LHR 40m SSB 59   59   Bill       RotA Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway (WAB: SD38)
27/09/2014 12:06 GB5RSR 40m SSB 58   45   Peter Preston Lancashire     RotA Ribble Steam Railway
27/09/2014 12:13 GB2RGM 40m SSB 56   59   John Waltham Abbey     RotA Royal Gunpowder Mills
27/09/2014 12:20 GB1PCA 40m SSB 58   59   Andrew       Special Event station run by Llanelli ARS to promote the awareness of Prostate Cancer in men in conjunction with Prostate Cancer UK – see QRZ.com (IARU: IO71wq, WAB: SN51)
27/09/2014 12:25 GB2EVR 40m SSB 59   59   Mike Appleby Cumbria     RotA Eden Valley Railway (Extension to Stockton and Darlington Railway)
27/09/2014 13:10 GB0BR 40m SSB 59   59   Mike Horsted Keynes Station IO91xb 170 RotA Bluebell Railway
27/09/2014 13:11 F5VIG 40m SSB 59   59   Mike Brittany      
27/09/2014 13:20 G8NEO 40m SSB 59   59   David Cromer      
27/09/2014 13:24 MX0NBC 40m SSB 59   59   Dave Bitton     RotA Avon Valley Railway Oldland Common Bitton by North Bristol Radio Club
27/09/2014 13:26 GB2AA 40m SSB 59   59   Ben       Widness and Runcorn ARC Special Event for Air Ambulance
27/09/2014 13:28 GB2WS 40m SSB 59   59   David       RotA Princess Royal Class Locamotive Trust
27/09/2014 13:31 G4STP 40m SSB 59   59   Tony Durham     WAB: NZ23
27/09/2014 13:33 2E1VAR 40m SSB 59   56   Richard Exeter      
27/09/2014 13:36 G4SZST 40m SSB 59   58   Dave        
27/09/2014 13:37 GB2DMR 40m SSB 59   59   Bill       RotA Drumawhey Miniture Railway Bangor Northern Ireland
27/09/2014 13:39 F4VPL 40m SSB 59   59   Dave South Brittany     Member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
27/09/2014 13:43 GB1NNR 40m SSB 59   59   Bob Norfolk     RotA North Norfolk Railway
27/09/2014 13:45 M0XLT 40m SSB 59   58   Kevin Skipton      
27/09/2014 13:46 G4RAC 40m SSB 59   59   John Burton on Trent      
27/09/2014 13:47 M0SRS 40m SSB 58   59   Sid        
27/09/2014 13:49 2E2KJ 40m SSB 59   59   Adrian        
27/09/2014 13:51 M5AEO/P 40m SSB 59   57            
27/09/2014 13:54 GB0TLR 40m SSB 59   59   Mike       RotA Tyttenhanger Light Railway
27/09/2014 13:58 M0DFW 40m SSB 59   59   Dave       Member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
27/09/2014 14:03 G4PEK 40m SSB 58   59   Les Gloucester      
27/09/2014 14:05 M0KLK 40m SSB 59   59   Bill Isle of Sheppy      
27/09/2014 14:11 G8YPL 40m SSB 59   59   Pete Liverpool     Use eQSL or QSL card
27/09/2014 14:15 M0RLK 40m SSB 59   58   Brian Trowbridge     No QSL Card
27/09/2014 14:16 GB2MHR 40m SSB 59   59   James        
27/09/2014 14:20 2E0GBK 40m SSB 59   59   Keith Leatherhead      
27/09/2014 14:21 M0SSF 40m SSB 59   57   Peter        
27/09/2014 14:24 GB2FLR 40m SSB 59   59   Ian       RotA Foxfield Light Railway
27/09/2014 14:31 2E0TVV 40m SSB 59   58   Scot West Bromwich      
27/09/2014 14:35 GB2CR 40m SSB 59   57   Derek       RotA Corris Railway Snowdonia National Park
27/09/2014 14:39 M6CYN 40m SSB 56   59   Tony       QRP Station
27/09/2014 14:42 G3KAG 40m SSB 57   59   Tony Derbyshire      
27/09/2014 14:42 G3VCN 40m SSB 59   59   Paul Plymouth      
28/09/2014 09:05 GB2NNR 40m SSB 59   59   Paul       RotA North Norfolk Railway
28/09/2014 09:16 G3YSW 40m SSB 59   59   Nigel        
28/09/2014 09:16 G1KPK 40m SSB 59   59   Nigel        
28/09/2014 09:19 F8DRA 40m SSB 59         Normandy      
28/09/2014 09:21 G4GTX 40m SSB 58       Stuart Sunderland      
28/09/2014 09:21 M3FEH 40m SSB           Cornwall      
28/09/2014 09:23 F8FLK 40m SSB         Therri North France      
28/09/2014 09:24 PA1AT 40m SSB 58   58   Gerry        
28/09/2014 09:27 GB0DR 40m SSB 53       John       RotA Dartmoor (Okehampton Station)
28/09/2014 09:28 G4WIA 40m SSB 59   58   Ivan Cornwall      
28/09/2014 09:30 G0TRB 40m SSB     59   Roger Tamworth      
28/09/2014 09:31 G0IJM 40m SSB 59   59   Jen Leicester      
28/09/2014 09:34 M0PJD 40m SSB         Peter        
28/09/2014 09:39 2E0CCF 40m SSB 57   55   Gerry Yorkshire      
28/09/2014 10:07 M0DDU 40m SSB 27               Lost contact due to noise
28/09/2014 10:17 G8ISI 40m SSB 59   57   Francis       QSL Card Requested
28/09/2014 10:24 G0AJH 40m SSB 59   59   John Hornchurch Essex     QSL Card Requested
28/09/2014 10:27 G4CIB 40m SSB 59   59   Brian        
28/09/2014 10:29 M0KRP 40m SSB 58   59   Rod Yeovil      
28/09/2014 10:42 G4EJQ 40m SSB 59   59   Rob Plymouth      
28/09/2014 10:43 G4SQA 40m SSB 59   59   Dave Peterborough      
28/09/2014 12:28 GB2KAA 40m SSB         Patrick        
28/09/2014 12:42 G8NT 40m SSB 59   59   Malcolm        
28/09/2014 12:44 F4VLP 40m SSB 59   59   Dave        
28/09/2014 12:47 2M0RBM 40m SSB 59   59            
28/09/2014 13:03 GB0HBL 40m SSB 59   59   Cliff       RotA The Helston Railway
28/09/2014 13:10 2E0PGS 40m SSB 59   58   Peter Bristol      
28/09/2014 13:18 G0DMH 40m SSB 59   59   Bruce Loughborough     No QSL Card
28/09/2014 13:30 IN3GNV 14.068896 PSK31 599   599   Giovanni Bolzano      
28/09/2014 13:32 MW0GYV 40m SSB 59   59   Peter Bridgend      
28/09/2014 13:42 GI0AZB 40m SSB 59   59   Ian NW Northern Ireland      
28/09/2014 13:43 2E0ZAP 40m SSB 57   37   Rob Tamworth      
28/09/2014 13:45 G4YYD 40m SSB 59   59   Alan Bury      
28/09/2014 13:48 M0TFY 40m SSB 59   59   David        
28/09/2014 13:51 M6NAQ 40m SSB 47   47   Andy        
28/09/2014 13:55 G0SYF 40m SSB 59   59   Bob Wooton Under Edge      
28/09/2014 14:00 M1AYI/P 40m SSB 59   47   Tom Lincoln      
28/09/2014 14:02 2E1TAF 40m SSB 59   59   Dave Norwich      
28/09/2014 14:06 M1EYA 40m SSB 59   59   Richard Liechester      
28/09/2014 14:08 2E0ZYL 40m SSB 59   59   Sue Paulborough      
28/09/2014 14:14 M0ZPZ/M 40m SSB 59   59   Lee Stockport      
28/09/2014 14:18 G1NEU 40m SSB 59   59   Alan Brixham      
28/09/2014 14:19 LB2M 14.06994 PSK31 599   599   Nils   JO59gw 1258  
28/09/2014 14:21 2E0NER 40m SSB 59   59   Mike Wakefield      
28/09/2014 14:26 DL1HRN 40m SSB 59   59   Eurkin        
28/09/2014 14:27 G4NUJ 40m SSB 57   59   Ken North Devon      
28/09/2014 14:32 DG2VW 14.069614 PSK31 599   599   Werner Pirna JO60xx 1144  
28/09/2014 14:33 G4AFJ 40m SSB 59   59   Geoff        
28/09/2014 14:40 M0DFW 40m SSB 59   47            
28/09/2014 14:42 OE1JEW 14.069614 PSK31     599   Hans   JN88ee 1392  
28/09/2014 14:42 G1FHR 40m SSB 57   59   Reg Gillingham      
28/09/2014 14:43 MX0HFC 40m SSB 59   59   John Paull      
28/09/2014 14:50 DF1GB 14.069614 PSK31 599   599   Gerd Neuhofen JN49fk 800  
28/09/2014 14:50 GI0OND 40m SSB 59   59   Jim Armagh      
28/09/2014 14:52 GW3OAJ 40m SSB 59   59   Cess Cardiff      
28/09/2014 14:54 M0MTJ 40m SSB 59   59   Mike Perton Near Wolverhampton      
28/09/2014 14:57 GB3PFM 40m SSB 59   59   Terry Or Tony        
28/09/2014 14:58 EA3HOE 14.069614 PSK31         Ton   JN11bl 1143