Exercise Portable Communications (Exercise PC)

Exercise PC is a novel and different type of exercise for Norfolk County RAYNET as it will take place on Monday evenings during our normal net, not ask members to make a commitment to take part except at their QTH . . .

The purpose of the exercise is to allow members to work “portable” for the duration of the net on a Monday night preferably from a series of different locations. A member taking part will go to their chosen location, erect a portable mast and aerial and take part in the evening’s net. They should record all stations heard along with readability and signal strength. There is no need for the portable station to work all members on the net. Members operating from their QTH should record the portable station’s readability and signal strength.

At the end of the net or a.s.a.p. afterwards, and certainly before the next net, I would appreciate it if members could email their reports of any portable stations (and the location of their QTH (the member) if it is their first report). I will collate all of the reports and ensure that they are reported on the website. Similarly if the portable station could email me their location, type of aerial, power and signal reports, this will be added into the mix.


1) Safety. Please remember if operating portable that your safety is paramount. Do try your set up in the daylight (if you are going to be working in the dark), do ensure that the location is safe – i.e. there are no overhead wires / trees, you are not on the road, watch for pedestrians, passing cars etc.

2) Location (see 1 above re safety). Do try a variety of locations, perhaps not the most obvious e.g. a country lane could be just as good a place as Cley beach. If there is an emergency, it could be anywhere and we could be asked to go anywhere. Be aware that what we see as harmless, might in some eyes be seen to be an act of terrorism so you might get challenged. Take your ID card and where your day-glo and don’t be surprised if you attract a crowd, so be prepared to talk about what we are doing, in testing communications. Some might think you are trying a test spot for a mobile phone mast! . . .

3) Common sense (Use it!!)

4) The exercise is not meant for people to go out on an evening’s drive, park up and use your mag mount! It really is for you to go out, stick a mast and aerial up and then use that – there’s nothing wrong with plugging the aerial lead into your rig mounted in the car! For more of a challenge you could park up, walk into a field and hook your handheld up. Do take care not to trespass, watch out for animals (no bull . . . ) and importantly don’t upset people.

5) There is nothing wrong with having a QSO after the net is over with the portable station(s), assuming that they are still operational.

6) When calling back on the net after the controller has called you, please give your call sign and then say Exercise PC so that all members will know that you are an Exercise PC station as we do get visiting portable stations on the net and while we welcome them and indeed all non-member stations to the net, the purpose of the exercise is for members to test their portable capabilities and members ability to hear “emergency stations”.

The exercise hopefully will go on until the end of August, when the nights start to get colder, wetter and windier . . . some weeks there might not be any portable stations (Terry as G4PSH/P Sutton ATC, doesn’t really count nor does G3IOR/A on holiday retreat as they are really not truly portable stations!!)

Further thoughts – if any one wants I will have a go at taking my ribbon slim jim apart and measuring the different components so they can make their own portable set up. At last look Lathams had 6m fishing poles for around £6 – they have a loop at the top so the ribbon aerial can tied on with a piece of string, a piece of coax can be fastened to the pole with garden tie twists. This gives a very cheap and portable setup – GB4NCR worked VHF like this on the Saturday as we were unable to use a dual band collinear as was first planned. If you have a hand held and the right coax – handheld adapter this light weight set up can easily be carried to a site not reachable by car – the pole is about 1 metre in length (unfolded), the ribbon aerial will roll up into a small bag and the coax will coil quite small – I use a small waterproof shoulder bag. I would think the total cost would be less than £10 and the complete setup (without the handheld!!) could be left in the car without it taking up hardly any room, ready for an emergency.

For those who want a little bit more of a project that this exercise would give the opportunity to test, they could construct a low power linear – I’ve acquired a small Model P -335 2m (no idea what make!) linear which I think was originally built from a kit (size approx  70mm x 50mm x 40mm) which works quite well with a handheld. You might need to acquire one of the 12V solid gel rechargeable batteries to run it, but even so, cost, size and weight shouldn’t be to much – and you might be able to power your hand held from it too . . .

Exercise PC, then more than just turning out, could be a low cost project to get involved in over the summer. Would be nice if by the time we got to Holkam in October that many of us could be using some of this type of setup, as opposed to just our car mobile!

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