RSGB 2021 Convention lectures

Due to continuing uncertainty about COVID-19 restrictions, the RSGB held its Convention online for the second time.

The lectures were divided into two live streams, details of which are below.

Click or tap the presentation title to watch it on the RSGB YouTube page

President’s welcome

Stewart Bryant, G3YSX

RSGB President Stewart Bryant, G3YSX introduces the 2021 Online Convention by chatting to RSGB General Manager Steve Thomas, M1ACB about amateur radio and what to expect during the day. The President was also on air from the RSGB National Radio Centre using his Presidential call sign GB4RS for the first time at an RSGB Convention.

Keynote address by Professor Cathryn Mitchell, M0IBG

Stream 1: an introduction to…

  • Soldering: skills, ideas and tips

    Dan McGraw, M0WUT
    This talk focuses mainly on hand-soldering techniques that will allow you to tackle all but the most challenging of components. Dan looks at techniques for everything from through hole resistors to the miniscule SMD components used in modern electronics using both a soldering iron and hot air. There is also a discussion on soldering equipment, what to look for when purchasing modern component packages, PCB cleaning, and reflow soldering as used in professional environments. As silicon processing technology improves and PCBs are required to become increasingly dense, amateur constructors—or homebrewers—are required to undertake soldering of smaller and smaller components to keep up with progress within industry. While many excellent designs have been created using large DIP or SOIC size parts such as the venerable SA602 and 741 op-amp, if we restrict ourselves to such devices, the gap between this and what is possible with modern devices will only continue to increase.

  • Portable operating for the terrified or inspired

    Michael Sansom, G0POT
    This presentation should help you try out portable operating, or improve your results. Many of us are finding that operating from home is challenging. Levels of urban radio frequency interference (RFI) seem to be on the up, and many of us have limited space or live in apartments or rented accommodation making aerial erection difficult. One option is to take your station out into the countryside; but how effective is this and how much effort do you have to put into building a portable station, and is it effective? In this talk, Michael looks at different options for getting started or improving your portable operating; the challenges, and some of the fantastic benefits.

  • Having fun with electronics, coding and amateur radio

    John Hislop, G7OHO and the STEAMettes
    Four years ago, John, G7OHO started a STEM club for a group of boys and girls in Key Stage 2 of a primary school, aged seven and older. He introduced electronics, coding and activities associated with amateur radio, with the aim of having fun. If they learned facts along the way, such as how transistors work, that was a bonus. Now the club has incorporated art to become a STEAM club and has girls only. Because the girls have learned Morse code they call themselves the Morse Ninja STEAMettes! They have achieved a lot in those four years. The girls have enjoyed downloading telemetry and ‘fitter’ messages addressed to them from the FUNcube-1 educational satellite. They are now using the satellite to send a CQ to operators around the world. Other activities include sending a greetings message to the astronauts on the ISS, making the Snail Morse key, learning Morse code with the Long Island CW Club, amateur radio direction finding, and lots more! The girls’ investigations of the BBC micro:bit V2 and how it can be used to send Morse code by radio led to a three page article in RadCom magazine. They also gave a video presentation to the QSO Today online conference. Now John feels that they are ready to get their amateur radio licence. It’s time to drop the club call sign and get their own! This presentation highlights some of those activities that would be of interest to STEM club leaders and radio clubs who would like to attract youngsters into the hobby.

  • Solar cycle 25: the good, the bad and the downright ugly

    Steve Nichols G0KYA
    Steve, G0KYA, chairman of the RSGB’s Propagation Studies Committee, looks at what we can expect from the upcoming solar maximum in this talk. He looks at the good and not-so-good aspects, including better propagation on the higher HF bands, but greater risks of solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

  • SOTA, POTA, and IOTA, QRP DXpedition fun!

    Ray Novak, N9JA
    Would you like to be the DXpedition that does not break the bank? Ray Novak, N9JA from Icom is well-known in DXing circles. In this talk he helps you get interesting ideas on how to have fun as if you were on a DXpedition to a rare entity, because you are! Many interesting amateurs around the world like to collect things, some may say this an obsession, but he calls it fun. Your next amateur adventure is only as close as your local park.

  • Club Log for absolute beginners

    Michael Wells, G7VJR
    This talk gives newly-licensed radio amateurs ideas, challenges and inspiration. After becoming a licensed radio amateur it can be difficult to know where to focus your interest. In this talk, Michael gives simple and practical tips on how Club Log fits into your new hobby, and how you can use it to build up your experience. Whether it’s HF, data modes, satellites, VHF locator squares—or even just understanding what you hear on the bands and see on the web—this accessible, novice-friendly talk gives you some more reasons to get in front of your radio and make contacts.

  • Intro to ham radio satellites

    Sean Kutzko, KX9X
    Amateur radio satellite operating is one of the fastest-growing areas of the hobby worldwide. Sean introduces you to the world of amateur radio satellites. He gives a beginners’ guide on how the satellites function, what equipment is needed to access them, and some introductory concepts to help make it easier for you to get started in this facet of amateur radio. This material gives a broad overview of satellite operating, focusing on practical operating techniques rather than technical details.

Stream 2: learn more about…

  • Arctic IOTA DXpedition to Prins Karls Forland island

    Allan Batievsky, EA3HSO
    Allan was a member of the Arctic IOTA DXpedition to Prins Karls Forland island. The island—Prince Charles Foreland island—is a nature reserve west of Svalbard located in EU-063 at 78°N. A group of six operators activated this island in July for the first time since 2001 making 16,000 contacts with all corners of the world and made it possible for JW and EU-063 to make its way into thousands of logs.

  • Software-defined radio

    Andrew Barron, ZL3DW
    Andrew presents an entertaining talk about software-defined radio (SDR) that re-evaluates what we mean by SDR. It covers the evolution from DSP and discusses the merits of hybrid SDR technology. He goes on to cover SDRs with multiple receivers, the limits of direct sampling, FFT and the panadapter, and multiple receivers; finally taking a look at DFC—direct Fourier conversion—and some advancements for SDR transmitters. The talk is technical, but not too technical. No maths—well not much—no software code, and no vector diagrams. It is suitable for those who want to learn more about software-defined radio, whether you already own one or not. It is not intended for SDR developers and experts.

  • Radio War

    Dr David Abrutat
    David examines the story of the Second World War Radio Security Service (RSS). During the Second World War, German intelligence agents were deployed to mainland Britain to spy on British military activity. Monitoring and reporting of their wireless transmissions fell to a small, secretive and largely unknown unit manned almost exclusively by volunteers. The Voluntary Interceptors (VI) as they became known would spend hours every day at home monitoring their receivers for often faint and difficult to copy signals transmitted by these German secret intelligence services. This unit was to become known as the Radio Security Service (RSS) and was part of the core of the signals intelligence production effort at Bletchley and the insights into German military tactical and strategic planning. It was a vital part of the successful Double Cross programme mounted by British intelligence to deceive the Germans. This talk focuses on the secret world of the Radio Security Service—its existence was only made public 35 years after the war ended, shortly after Bletchley Park’s secrets were exposed. Patrick Reilly, the Assistant to Head of MI6 Stewart Menzies, was to say of the RSS…. “a team of brilliance unparalleled anywhere in the intelligence machine.”

  • Precision microwave engineering: the fun of making your own components

    Neil Smith, G4DBN
    This presentation is about the joy of being able to imagine something in your head, mould it into a workable design using computer modelling and electromagnetic simulation, then turn that abstract idea into a working device or mechanism to help make amateur radio even more enjoyable. Neil works through the process of designing, modelling, machining and testing novel antenna feeds, elevation mechanisms for huge moonbounce antennas and tiny millimetre-wave antennas. He demonstrates how to use electromagnetic simulators, mechanical stress/vibration modellers, thermal flow analysers and CAD tools to develop designs for antennas and amplifiers. Neil’s machine shop is all manual, with lathe, milling machine, TIG welder, metal casting and metrology equipment. None of the machines cost more than a good transceiver, but the quality of work they can produce is very high. He shows the process of machining, measuring and testing some of the parts that he has designed, and tries to explain the enormous amount of sheer fun he gets from making things for himself and others. Machining, like radio, is purely a hobby for Neil, but he has made microwave parts for amateurs in more than 20 countries, and learned a huge amount of science, maths and engineering in the process. “Self-training in the art…” you might say.

  • An obsession with antennas

    Callum McCormick, M0MCX
    This talk covers everything from very basic antenna modelling, through antenna shapes, to achieving impossible gain.

  • DX-pedition to the South Orkney Islands

    Gene Spinelli, K5GS
    During February and March of 2020 Gene, K5GS was among a team of amateur radio operators who set off on a journey that took them to Signy Island, located in the Southern Ocean at 60°43’S 45°36’W, part of the South Orkney Islands group. Departing from Punta Arenas, Chile, where they met the expedition vessel Braveheart, they travelled south-east for six days to reach the island. The team camped on the island for 14 days, operated radios 24 hours a day, and left the island as they found it, with no sign they were ever there. This was one of the last DXpeditions to take place before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and getting home proved to be tricky in several cases.

  • DXpeditions on VHF: how to be successful at the other end of the pile-up

    Bernd Mischlewski, DF2ZC
    Many radio amateurs dream of conducting a DXpedition at least once; being at the other end of the pile-up is very tempting. On the VHF bands—particularly on the 2m band—this can be achieved by comparably little effort. Even a rare grid square would count as a suitable place for such an activity, let alone a wanted DXCC. In this presentation Bernd, DF2ZC gives an overview of dos and don‘ts when planning for an activity: selecting the actual site, choosing equipment and antennas, travel, dealing with customs, licensing issues, etc. The presentation focuses on DXpeditions by single or max two operators—which can be easily made a reality. However, it also includes general notes for multi operators and multi -and activities. Examples of successful VHF DXpeditions round off the presentation.