A Day at the Museum for the Bittern DXers

Well, it was two days really, Sunday and Monday at the end of August, when the Bittern DX Group, attended the Village at War Weekend at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum in Norfolk activating the GB5GFW special event callsign.

Given the theme of the weekend, we put a special focus on attracting the interest of young people away from guns and war, to the hobby of amateur radio and in particular, space related operations.

At the beginning of August we emailed the Funcube 1 (AO-73) operations team and asked if a Fitter Message could be put on board the satellite for the event, and we were ‘over the moon’ when Graham, G3VZV, said ‘No problem.’ The message requested reading “This is FUNcube 1 in space calling Gressenhall Farm Workhouse and the Bittern Dxers in Norfolk on Planet Earth. Greetings to all earthlings!”

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Despite the difficult surroundings resulting from both from the very effective RF shielding provided on three sides by the Workhouse and the high levels of local QRM, we were able to receive and decode telemetry and the Fitter Message on both days ‘live’ for visitors. This was quite pleasing as on Sundays, Funcube 1 is in Transponder mode making the telemetry beacon quite low power.

It was interesting to note that whilst the reception of the message attracted the attention of our audiences, the ‘Greetings to all earthlings!” always raised a laugh. There was also considerable interest from parents regarding the educational aspects of Funcube 1 and many young people were able to make good suggestions of the cause of the varying output of the solar cell voltages. It did seem that it is the 8 – 11 year olds who are most interested, teenagers appearing to be somewhat blasé.

Reinforcing the space theme, we also caught passes from FOX 1 (AO-85), listening to QSOs over Europe and also looking at spacecraft telemetry and also the ever popular images from the NOAA weather satellites. Again there was great interest in watching the passes appear on the monitor screen and several times people returned at the right time to watch the whole pass, and there were some lively discussions about the weather!

Also running and active were an HF data station running on a Raspberry Pi, a 2 meter station, SSB on HF and a receiver on which visitors could listen in and tune to what was going on. At every event we attend, we have morse keys with sounders for young people to send their name and everyone takes away a certificate of achievement, which again is always extremely popular.

Gerald,  PA3GEG, recorded his QSO with us has kindly allowed us to include it on this site

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Lastly we were visited by quite a few licensed amateurs who have been inactive for some years for various reasons. We did manage to sign up two new members and we hope to get them back on the air in the near future.

A great weekend for us and we hope that we might further increased the awareness of the scope and depth of this remarkable hobby to all ages.

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