Being a new club, we decided to test out our equipment on a little excursion to Llansteffan by the sea, near Carmarthen, South Wales. This had to be done, as we had booked our Railways on the Air event for the 25th - 26th September (Next Weekend) at The Old Station, Cymmer, and we needed to check all our radios and antennas were fit for the job.

We arrived at Llansteffan on the Thursday 19th August at about 3:00pm and started setting up our equipment and antennas. Sooty (Chris Holmes M7EMH) was already there and had set up his mast with a trapped dipole, you could easily see it from the other side of the estuary. I was also surprised to see Pablo (M6DQB) had also come along, he had secretly planned to join us.

We programmed our VHF/UHF radios to the local repeater while Sooty and John James (MW3ASG) went to the pub.

That evening, there was some imbibing of the sweet nectar, ready for our radio adventure over the next few days.

On Friday morning we enjoyed breakfast in the village then went back to complete a radio project case I had brought.

John took a trip to  Llansteffan Castle, taking his hand held VHF radio with him. On the way back down from the castle he called out a CQ on 145.500 and Mark (2W0OKW) replied, they were only 20m away from each other :-) Mark was staying across the estuary at Ferryside. John and Mark had a short conversation, John explained where the house was and Mark visited us about an hour later, after getting something to eat at The Beach Shop and Tearoom.

Although plagued by some atrocious weather, we talked to many locals and managed to contact our friend Jethro (MW7ARE) in Ammanford via the SP repeater on UHF. Of course, we continued our evening imbibing ritual to ward off the evil bad propagation spirit, for next day. Simon Poyser (MW0GSR) arrived at 10:00pm, he is an expert in antennas and a technical genius when it comes to linking different digital modes.

On Saturday, our member Pablo (Antonio Deiana M6DQB) had to leave, I prepared for the Saturday night Ragchew on DMR Brandmeister TG 2356 (TalkinWales 2356). I have been hosting the Ragchew for over 18 months now, it's a very popular, welcoming net, usually attracting over 20 Hams from all over the world and has a live video feed. If you are interested, even if you are not an amateur radio operator yet, come and see us here on Facebook.

After the Ragchew, Daryll (MW0TTF), Ceri (MW7WAP), John, Simon and Sooty went on the HF (High Frequency) bands to get long distance contacts.

We managed a QSO on the 80m band with the RAF Net (RAFARS Net), thank you Thomas (MI0MOD) for letting us in and may see you at the Blackpool Rally next year. It was the first time Ceri and myself has used the 80m band. The antenna we used was a wire dipole made by Simon at a grand cost of £2.50.

We assembled metal detector kits that we had brought along, a little electronics project for entertainment while we warded off the bad propagation demons with some liquid refreshment. They (the metal detectors) actually worked, unfortunately propagation did not improve, but we had to try :-)

On Sunday, fully satisfied that our equipment was working and suitable for the Railways on the Air event, we packed away and sped off at about 12:30pm.

I would like to thank our members that braved the bad weather to come along to the event and John for supplying our accommodation on the beach. Hope to see you all next week.

Chris (MW7CCS)

Chris Smith-Robbins has been running a Ham Radio Digital Net for over 18 months now. He is a very active and enthusiastic Amateur Radio operator living in Croeserw, North of Maesteg, his callsign is MW7CCS. Over the past couple of months, the local Ragchew Net group have been contemplating creating a digital club, they have already been on an outing (field trip) and are booked to go to Llansteffan in August.

Chris and the gang are also getting ready for a Railways on the Air (ROTA) activation, locally, outside The Old Station, Cymmer, Port Talbot SA13 3HY on the 25th and 26th September, the station is now a restaurant called The Refreshment Rooms. The new Club Callsign is MC5WRG. If you want to see how much fun Amateur Radio is, come along and have a look.

Ham Radio is a great way to combat isolation, there is always someone to talk to, especially on the digital modes, where you can talk to people all around the world, without massive antennas or expensive equipment. It couldn't be easier to get into Amateur Radio now, the exams are in three levels and can be taken on your computer at home.

Below is a video taken today 31/07/21 of Chris using the new club callsign on the 2m Band using Single Side Band mode. For more information on Amateur Radio, come to ShedQuarters Maesteg on a Thursday after 10:30am.

The Facebook page for W.D.R.G is here: Facebook W.D.R.G.