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:

  1. Lat/Long: 51.281077°,-2.482759°
  2. IARU: IO81sg
  3. IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
  4. WAB: ST65 – England

Equipment Used

We’ve been undertaking our Special Events for a number of years now and have gradually fine tuned our equipment and setup over time. Railways on the Air is one of our favourite events and the only one where we regularly operate both SSB and Data. In the future our data might have to be FT8 in place of our preferred PSK as the number of PSK operators appears to have diminished since the advent of FT8, time will tell if this switch is permanent or not.

This year we used:

  • SSB Station:
    1. Nissei DPS300GL power supply;
    2. Yaesu FT991 HF/6m/2m/70cm multi-mode transceiver;
    3. MFJ 993 auto atu;
    4. 80m doublet fed with 450Ω ladder line;
    5. Acer Aspire 8942 laptop running CQRLog under Ubuntu MATE 18.04LTS.
  • Data Station:
    1. Watson PowerMite NF power supply;
    2. Yaesu FT857D HF/6m/2m/70cm multi-mode transceiver;
    3. MFJ-971 Portable Manual ATU;
    4. Multi-band (40m, 30m, 20m, 15m) delta loop antenna;
    5. Tigertronics Signalink USB data interface; and
    6. Toshiba Satellite C660D-19X laptop running FLDigi under XUbuntu 18.04LTS.

The Operation

We can’t describe a Special Event in 2020 without making reference to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic. The conditions under which the Club has had to operate for the bulk of the year are unlike any that have been known in living memory, and the living memory of some of our members is very long! Usually the final Special Event of the year for us this year with everything ahead of it having been cancelled or drastically altered by the restrictions we found ourselves in the position where this years Railways on the Air event was both the first and the last Special Event of the year.

We took sensible precautions, members of the Club who are in vulnerable groups or whose households contain people in vulnerable groups did not attend, we met with the Trust before the event and agreed limits on the number of people and other measures. We were only on site on a non-public day to limit the overall number of people on site and in fact we only had three people on site from the Club and one from the Trust when opening up or locking up. Within the carriage that we were allowed to operate from we maintained such distancing as was operationally practical and sanitised microphones and keyboards when different people operated.

SSB StationData Station

The day started when Mark M0SKV and Andy G7KNA got to site around 09:30, well that is Andy G7KNA was on site by 09:30 but Mark M0SKV was delayed because in order to get to sleep the previous night he had put in earplugs to reduce the disturbance from a neighbours party meaning that he didn’t wake when his alarm went off and overslept, which explains why repeated calls for M0SKV by G7KNA on the local repeater went unanswered during the drive to site.

Once Mark M0SKV arrived the antenna errection could begin, and the two were joined by Chris M7CSL arrived and was able to lend a much needed hand putting up both the 80m doublet and the 20m delta loop antenna as well as setting up the 2 stations within the carriage.

There were one or two problems, nothing major but it dealyed both stations getting on air. A glitch in the logging software where each keystroke was duplicated as two characters had to be resolved and was traced to IBus which had possibly been installed on the Club laptop when a ZOOM client was added. Removal of IBus (and ZOOM) followed by a restart restored normal keyboard entry and coincidentally seemed to fix a database error in the log at the same time although there is no reason why it should have achieved that.

Once the two stations were operational it was noted that transmissions on 80m SSB were causing the 20m data station’s MFJ Z-11 automatic ATU to retune, separation of the feeders reduced but did not resolve the problem and ultimately the original Auto ATU was replaced with a manual ATU. For a short duration operation the issue could be tolerated, but there was obvious interaction so we might have to review antenna locations next year.

80m SSB activity was reasonably constant throughout the day with a number of the stations we worked thanking us for putting a Special Event Station on. 35 clubs or individuals had registered to participate in Railways on the Air this year which is understandably down on 2019, although how many actually operated given the pandemic and the imposition of local lockdowns in some parts of the country is unclear.

PSK31 activity was very sparse and only a handful of PSK contacts were made and unfortunately a syncronisation error between logs resulted in the loss of the recorded contacts, we’ll fix that for next time.

In the afternoon, Chris M7CSL had to get to a prior engagement and left but was replaced by Julian M0JCE who operated through the afternoon and helped with the dismantling of the station.

SSB StationSSB Station

It was a very low key event compared to our previous outings, it was the first and only outing we are going to get this year, it was only for part of the Activity weekend but we did put a Special Event Station on this year and had fun operating it safely.

We would like to thank the Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust for allowing us access to their premises to operate this Special Event Station and hope that we can put on a more inclusive event with them next year.

Our Log

Date of Contact Time Station Worked Band or Freq (MHz) Mode TX RX Operator’s Name QTH IARU Locator Distance (km) Notes
26/09/2020 10:46 G3OZN 80m SSB 59   59   Ted Worksop      
26/09/2020 10:50 G3LUA 80m SSB 59   59   Alan        
26/09/2020 10:52 GW0JAI 80m SSB 59   59   Glian        
26/09/2020 10:56 M0JCE 80m SSB 59   59            
26/09/2020 10:59 2E0CSQ 80m SSB 59   59   Neil        
26/09/2020 11:02 G0LQI 80m SSB 59   59   Mike Weymouth      
26/09/2020 11:07 GB4VBR 80m SSB 59   59   Owen Vale of Berkeley Railway     Thornbury And South Gloucestershire A R C
26/09/2020 11:09 G8IJM 80m SSB 59   59   Howard        
26/09/2020 11:14 G3OBX 80m SSB 59   59   Derek Romford      
26/09/2020 11:18 GB2WSR 80m SSB 59   59   Richard West Somerset Railway     Richard Newton
26/09/2020 11:26 G4ADR 80m SSB 59   59   Nigel Thame      
26/09/2020 11:30 2E0WPL 80m SSB 59   59   Peter        
26/09/2020 11:36 G4BXM 80m SSB 59   59   Roger Kingston      
26/09/2020 11:41 G8FRS 80m SSB 59   59   Keith Stratford On Avon      
26/09/2020 11:44 F4IFQ/P 20m PSK31 599   599       JN19rj 469 Best 73’s from France
26/09/2020 11:45 GB0NDR 80m SSB 59   59     Shillingstone Station North Dorset Railway     F R A R S
26/09/2020 11:49 G6GXO 80m SSB 59   59   Charlie        
26/09/2020 11:52 G3VCG 80m SSB 59   59   Don Chelmsford      
26/09/2020 11:56 G0WKK 80m SSB 59   59   Cliff        
26/09/2020 11:57 2E0KKA 80m SSB 59   59            
26/09/2020 12:03 2E0DIQ 80m SSB 59   59   Andy        
26/09/2020 12:07 M1DDD/M 80m SSB 59   59   Nick        
26/09/2020 12:09 M6XXD 80m SSB 59   59   Paul        
26/09/2020 12:12 GW4GNY 80m SSB 59   59   Martin        
26/09/2020 12:16 G6GWR 80m SSB 59   59   John        
26/09/2020 12:24 G7CRQ 80m SSB 59   59   Adam Sutton London      
26/09/2020 12:26 IZ2KXB 20m PSK31 599   599       JN45rg 1103  
26/09/2020 12:38 MW0KST 80m SSB 59   59   Steve        
26/09/2020 12:45 G8IYS 80m SSB 59   59   John        
26/09/2020 12:55 GB1CR 80m SSB 59   59   Simon Corris Railway     Aberystwyth And District Amateur Radio Society
26/09/2020 12:59 G3VMT 80m SSB 59   59   Terry Newbury      
26/09/2020 13:04 M0GIB 80m SSB 57   59   David        
26/09/2020 13:08 G0OUC 80m SSB 57   59   Roland Barnsley      
26/09/2020 13:08 MX0WGS 80m SSB 59   59   Bernie        
26/09/2020 13:17 2W0JMK 80m SSB 59   59   Mark        
26/09/2020 13:22 G4CJY 80m SSB 59   59   Brian        
26/09/2020 13:29 G4RAC 80m SSB 57   57   John        
26/09/2020 13:32 G3OKA 80m SSB 59   59   John Wirral      
26/09/2020 13:36 G0LJU 80m SSB 59   59   Dimitri        
26/09/2020 13:39 F4VPL 80m SSB 59   59   Dave Brittany      
26/09/2020 13:42 G2FT 80m SSB 59   59   Dave        
26/09/2020 13:46 G4AWF 80m SSB 55   59   David        
26/09/2020 13:47 DM30RSV 20m PSK31 599   599       KN87ux 2879  
26/09/2020 13:50 GW0HYU 80m SSB 59   59   Keith Cardiff      
26/09/2020 13:52 M0DFW 80m SSB 59   59   Dave        
26/09/2020 13:56 F4EQE 20m PSK31 599   599   Serguei Strasbourg, France JN38uo 785  
26/09/2020 14:00 G4ZWA 80m SSB 59   59   George        
26/09/2020 14:04 G7AEY 80m SSB 59   59   Dave Kemsley      
26/09/2020 14:09 G3VWH 80m SSB 59   59   Brian Shrewsbury      
26/09/2020 14:16 M0WID 80m SSB 59   59   David        
26/09/2020 14:17 G0HFL 80m SSB 59   59   Nick Branston      
26/09/2020 14:24 G6UUR 80m SSB 59   59   Sam        
26/09/2020 14:30 2E0WCJ 80m SSB 59   59   Will Stratford On Avon      
26/09/2020 14:34 DM30RSV 20m PSK31 599   599       JO42lu 799  
26/09/2020 14:34 G0DTX 80m SSB 59   59   John Glossop      
26/09/2020 14:38 G0EHR 80m SSB 59   59   Mike Isle Of Wight      
26/09/2020 14:39 G4BSC 80m SSB 59   59   John        
26/09/2020 14:50 2E0LLD 80m SSB 59   59   Edwin        
26/09/2020 14:52 G4CUS 80m SSB 59   59   Antony        
26/09/2020 14:57 G7RRQ 80m SSB 59   59   Vic        
26/09/2020 14:58 GB5BOB 80m SSB 59   59           Operated by members of the Braintree and District ARS to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain
26/09/2020 14:59 M0WYB 80m SSB 59   59   Russ Peasdown Bath      
26/09/2020 15:05 G0RLN 80m SSB 59   59   Keith        
26/09/2020 15:07 G3MFO 80m SSB 59   59   Peter