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RAILWAYS-ON-THE-AIR 2017

Swindon & Cricklade Railway from Blunsdon Station - Saturday 23rd  & Sunday 24th September 2017


Another fantastic weekend spent at Blunsdon Station courtesy of the Swindon & Cricklade Railway and Railways-on-the-Air. The weather was kind to us as were the radio conditions. We were able to work many stations across the UK and near continent a number of which were other Railways-on-the-Air stations.


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Technical details:

The transceiver used for the 80 & 40m SSB station is the trusty old Yaesu FT-840 with a Heil Headset and foot-pedal Tx switch. Aerial matching unit is the MFJ 948 and the antenna is a full-sized G5RV. The masts are RACAL 12m (40’) push-up masts and the lake was about 10 feet below us to the G5RV was about 50’ above the lake.

The 2m station uses the Yaesu FT-897 with the collinear at 40’ above the ground.

The 20m station uses Ray’s FT991 and a 20m dipole sloping from the 40’ mast down towards a 20’ fibre-glass sectional mast.

All logging was done on paper.

Weekend Summary:

We spoke over the radio to 17 other Railways-on-the-Air stations. We had 189 QSOs on 80 & 40m, 9 on 20m and 15 on 2m.

We were pleased at how well our signals were getting out and gratified by the signal reports about audio quality. We had many mini ‘pile-ups’ that kept us busy throughout the days.

We had a number of visitors both members of the public and licensed amateurs.


I am grateful for all of the assistance received throughout the weekend particularly from:

Ray 2E0DHG

Ken G1NCG

Chris G4AJA for his help getting the aerial across the lake and the fun we had with his cross-bow!

Richard M6VRB for his help setting up on Friday

Mike G4HGV for his help operating on Saturday

Rob G4XUT for his help operating on Saturday

Kelvin M1KDJ for spending time with us

Matthew 2E0WLF for the fun with his drone

Russell M0RFI for spending time with us

Dom 2E0WHQ for his help operating and packing away

And to all of the Railway enthusiasts who made us so welcome! It was great to be so close to a real live steam engine again.


QSL cards available, please send S.A.E. or via the RSGB bureau

Friday 22nd September - Ray, Ken, Chris, Richard and I arrived at Blunsdon Station on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway to set up for Railways-on-the-Air 2017.

As you know from previous years, the greatest challenge is always that of getting the aerial up over the lake. Holding it up, once we have got it across is easily achieved by the 40’ Racal push-up masts.

This year we had Chris and his cross-bow to help us. The bolt of his cross-bow has been modified and weighted such that a light line can be attached.

Early attempts failed, the strength of the cross-bow versus the weight of the bolt and the drag of the line meant the bolt was falling about 20’ short.

A solution was found in that there was a small platform at the edge of the lake that moved us about 15’ nearer our target, the bolt was fired and only fell a few feet short but was fished out  with the use of a pole and hook.

A task which normally takes about three hours was completed in about one hour. Success! (Unfortunately we were all so engrossed in achieving the above that no photos were taken!)

We went on to raise the 2m collinear and the 20m dipole onto the masts, then set up the shelter before retiring for the night.

Saturday 23rd September - Ray and I had stayed at the Tawny Owl, about 2 miles down the road so were on-site by 08:30. All we had to do was set up the radios and make a start. We were joined by Mike G4HGV and later by Rob G4XUT who helped enormously with the operating side of things.

I worked the 80/40m station whilst Mike and Rob worked 2m and 20m.

Dom also made a few QSOs on 20m.

Early attempts at 40m proved the skip to be quite long but bagged PA, DL, OZ, EA and HB9 so a switch to 80m was called for.

A couple of hours on 80m was more profitable for inter-G working where we also spoke to a number of ROTA stations.

By midday we were back on 40m for a mix of more distant G stations and easy EI, GI, GM, DL and some of the more distant ROTA stations.

By 6pm local time I was back on 80m for Inter-G again, finally packing up about 6:45pm local.

A pint and a good meal at the Tawny Owl was beckoning!

Sunday 24th September - Ray & I returned and set up for the day. Ken was waiting for us and rarin’ to go!

With the morning and afternoon spent on 80m and the midday times on 40m it was a very busy time with just over 100 QSOs made.

On Saturday the Railway was serviced by a small shunting diesel locomotive with quite a few visitors.

We continued to operate until about 4pm when, threatened with rain we hastily packed up and by 5:15 were on our way home having enjoyed an absolutely cracking weekend.


The photos in the Gallery above all relate to the Radio Operations for the weekend.


The photos in the Gallery below are all of the Railway operations. There’s loads of them, many are very similar.

I hope you enjoy them!

On Sunday we were delighted by steam engine 2138, a small Great Western Railway saddle-tank locomotive built in 1941 by Andrew Barclay working the line.

The sights and smells were very reminiscent with frequent ‘Toots’, steam and black smoke everywhere. What is it about the smell of the smoke? We all loved it. Many photos were taken. I have decided to split the Galleries into two, one for the radio operations and one for the photos of the railway and in particular of the steam engine. I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures as much as we enjoyed seeing the trains!