Railways on the Air – 2013

Saturday 21st September saw three of us from the Derby & DARS setting up aerials and the operating desk at the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust (PCRLT) at the West Shed located on the Midland Railway – Butterley site at Swanwick here in Derbyshire (SK45 / IO93HB).  The doors opened at 10:00 to the public and we were straight into our first contact.  It took a cup of tea to get the voice-box working though!  We’d decided that ‘hunting’ on 40m was the best idea so we could work as many RotA stations as possible, but there were lots of signals coming in from mainland Europe as well as ‘tuners’ and other miscellaneous noises (SSTV, RTTY/digital, etc.) none of which helped matters and just made life difficult.  We were also using a half-wave 80m dipole so we could look for any activity there as well but nothing doing there so back to 40m.  As a result, the signals sent and also received weren’t as strong as we’d have liked so when we closed down at about 16:15 we changed the aerial for a 40m half-wave dipole ready for the Sunday.  Saturday had netted us about 16 different RotA stations and a few non RotA’s. Slow, but worthwhile doing. Train
Sunday was gorgeous weather with blue skies and temperatures of about 23deg C outside West Shed, and about 20 inside.  Still a fair amount of EU-based traffic on 40m but everything seemed louder now, whether that was the change of aerial or the conditions the jury is still out. This time we decided to sit on one frequency that seemed clear and we worked everything that came our way.  It started off with a reasonably gentle trickle, the suddenly the dam burst and we had a pile-up which stayed all day, working about 100 or so until we had to close down at 16:17 to give us time to de-rig and stack gear outside ready to load into the car.  We’d worked a further 5 or 6 RotA stations too which was good.  Signals generally were much better than the Saturday with a majority of them being 59+ or even 59++ on our Society’s FT897 which was run at 100W.  Regrettably there seemed to be many stations who we just couldn’t get around to contacting, such is the penalty of operating in a welcoming location (the duty volunteers keeping our back teeth awash with copious amounts of tea all the time we were there!) which doesn’t open until 10:00 and closes at 16:30.   Hopefully we’ll do even better next year.
Aerials taken down and wrapped up, the portable masts removed and loaded, site checked to ensure everything was accounted for and the place left tidy, and we were leaving the premises by 17:10.  We were all pleased with the results, but sad we couldn’t work everyone who called.  A great pity to be sure, but nothing could be done.
Thanks to the Bishop Auckland Radio Club for organising this event, and to the members of DADARS (David Sager and Clive Stevens) who came to assist with the operating and logging, then helping with the aerials and masts.
All being well GB2WS will – subject to Ofcom’s approval and the OK to use West Shed as a base of operations - be back for next year’s “Railways on the Air”.
Dave, G1VAB - Chairman - Derby & District ARS

Nice Photograph of the Duchess of Sutherland (West Shed)