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Ramsey Island News

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

We know most of you like to keep up with what we are up to when we are not playing radio at MC0SHL. Well what about keeping up with the news on what is happening on our favourite destination for our portable activities.

As we have said before Ramsey Island is a RSPB reserve where the Flora and Fauna is spectacular - hopefully you see this in our photos. Well why not keep up with what Greg. Lisa, and the volunteers get up to and how the birds, wildlife and the island in general get on day by day? Just go to their blog http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/ramseyisland/default.aspx for all the latest news and updates.

Or go to the Thousand Islands boat comapanies facebook page for some excellent photographs of the sealife around the island.

How to Send a QSL Card

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Tim (M0URX) put this on his webpage a few weeks ago. Something that is worth reposting and keeping fresh in peoples minds, and not just UK operators but also some of our overseas friends seem to forget to include return postage costs - if you do it will be returned via the BUREAU.

FAO UK Hams - How to send a QSL card

Created on Saturday, 27 June 2015

K800 WP 20150627 004I have noticed that many new hams in the United Kingdom are not aware of how to send QSL cards to ensure they get a 100% reply. So here are a few tips to help you along the way.

1) Use a Self-Addressed Envelope SAE for the QSL to be returned to you.

2) Enclose US$2 - this pays for postage, ink, labels and other items that are needed in QSL management. Never send a QSL without covering the return costs.
NO stamps or IRC's Sorry!

3) All QSOs should be neatly listed either on one QSL card or on a piece of paper attached to the QSL card.

Now let's look at what should be on your QSL card. Many QSL cards are used to claim awards, this means that your QSL card should contain at least the very basic details.

1) Your call sign, name and mailing address. Call sign should also be on the back.
2) The country name "England" should be clear. Not everyone will know that Hinckley Bottom is in England.
3) IOTA (Islands On The Air) MUST have the Island name printed on the QSL so "Mainland Great Britain" should be shown. You can also add the IOTA reference: EU-005.
4) CQ Zone: 14 ITU Zone: 27 should also be on your QSL for CQ & ITU Zones awards.
5) It is also helpful to add your Maidenhead locator: mine is IO92fj it is common that the last two letter suffix       be in lower case.
6) WAB: Worked All Britain is another award where it is helpful to show your WAB area mine is SP27. You      can also add your book numbers too.

7) This is most important! If you are using a photograph on the QSL, use HIGH RESOLUTION digital images.       Low resolution or scanned images will not work in QSL reproduction, they will be pixelated or grainy or           both. The same for logos, use high resolution logos.

Do not assume that the QSL printer will add such detail. To be honest QSL designers / printers that do not add the data or advise you about such information should not even be designing or printing QSL cards. So think about your design AND what text must be written on it.


Further to the above post. All UK hams that do not provide US$2 for the QSL costs will be sent this letter with their QSL card. We hope that this will help UK hams understand that you must provide QSL costs to receive the QSL direct.

Thank you for the QSL card, I am pleased enclose our QSL card for you.

I would like to remind you that QSL Via M0URX = US$2 – I am sorry that I am not able to accept UK postage stamps or IRCs.

There are three reasons for this:

1)            Stamps are the most expensive way of getting QSL cards to you.

2)            Postage is only ONE of the costs involved in QSL management.

3)            I am not able to use IRCs for postage.

Please let me explain, sending over 10,000 letters every year using stamps is not a cost effective way to provide QSL management.

All my mail is posted on a Royal Mail Online Business Account. This account is accessed by several UK QSL managers from all over the UK. Together we are spending over £20,000 a year on postage to the UK and the rest of the world. This means that we have access to the most competitive rates in the postal industry.

As a QSL manager I have to follow certain rules set out by the IARU:

IARU Region 1 QSLing Code of Practice From Chapter 10.5 of the IARU Region 1 HF Handbook available at the IARU - Region 1 website

“1. Any DX station appointing a QSL Manager must ensure that satisfactory arrangements are in place for receiving and responding to incoming bureau as well as direct cards. Adequate publicity must be given to such arrangements.”

As a QSL manager I am not permitted to use the RSGB QSL Bureau. Because of this I had to set up my own outgoing QSL bureau to send QSL cards to all World IARU Bureaus at my expense. It is the discounts that we get from the mailing account, especially from major DXpeditions that finance the United Radio Outgoing QSL Bureau.

DXpedition sponsors have terms and conditions that I have to adhere to as QSL manager requiring me to provide a service above and beyond the cost of postage.

There are also many other expenses in QSL’ing such as QSL printing, labels, envelopes, IT, computer hardware, and software.

Thank you for reading and I hope that this explains why it is so important to provide US$2 for the QSL costs.

Thank you!

More Winning Ways

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

mw0jzecqwwcertWell not only are Chris and Charles at it getting certificates in the post from CQ Magazine for their efforts in the contests, but also our antenna guru Anthony. I know it's a little late but CQ are just catching up on getting their certificates out in the mail for the past couple of years.

"Postman came today and this was in the post!" Said Ant, "I'm feeling happy and didn't realise I had got this. But I can do better and will do this year -if we have any sunspots left (hi hi)"

Well done Ant and lets start getting the S.H.A.R.K boys back on top in these contests.

Winning ways

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Well it has been a good week for Charles (M0OXO) and Chris (G1VDP) this week with both of them receiving winners certificates from CQ Magazines headquarters in the USA.

M0OXOCharles has come first in England in the CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest 2015 for his band category. This also puts him in 7th overall in Europe in the contest, which attracts thousands of entries each year. Well done Charles and lets see some more of these certificates on the wall.

Chris has also come 1st in England in his category that he entered in the CQ World-Wide DX Contest on SSB. Again this contest attracts thousands of entries from around the world and is the contest where the Strumble Head Amateur Radio Klub started - a group of guys G1VDPgetting together and entering from the farm back in 2007 - and where we decided to have fun each year on the radio.

These are the start of many that will follow for the group, and you never know maybe the boys will be back in one of the big contests as a group soon.

End of EU-124 for 2015

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

That's it for another year.

D7K 7284 Ant SunsetThe sun has set on another of our activations.

It has been a great few days on the island and alltogether a fantastic 10 days away for this operator (G1VDP - Chris). A big thank you to Charles, Rob and Jane for their company and friendship over this period.

Both myself and Charles started early with a few days relaxing at the farm getting on the air for a couple of hours, and fishing the small pond that Rob has on his property catching well over 200 small Rudd. We set up the FT897 and a laptop for exclusive 100w digi operations on PSK63 and RTTY ready for on the island.

When Tim, Vinny, Ant and Laura arrived we had a small party and learned all about the new Hexbeams and how easy they are to construct and attach to a mast.

Tony and Glenys arrived late on the Thursday and we sailed on the Friday. From then on it was fun and laughter all the way through the weekend, with some serious operating as soon as the bands opened. We ended the 3 days - well 2 and 1/2 if we take out the waiting time on Friday for the sheep to be sheared and Monday's stripping down of the equipment - with over 4000 contacts in the log (check Tim's online log search), and the bands were in poor shape for most of Friday evening and Saturday.

We all got back to the farm and started heading home on the Tuesday morning, again with Charles and Chris being the last 2 to leave as we had an extra days holiday. Thanks all for your work, friendship and fun all weekend.

And a huge thanks from us all to Greg & Lisa - the RSPB wardens on the island - and their team for their help and allowing us to go over to do what we do. As Greg stated "the aliens have landed" upon seeing the Hexbeams. We must also say thanks to Thousand Islands Expeditions for their support and for taking us over to the island with all the kit each year, Morgan - the Gower Ranger's skipper - is a big help along with his crew who always make us welcome and feel safe.

I personally want to thank the team for everything, and to thank Vinny (M0TAV) for fitting in and being our guest operator this year. Photo's to follow in a new gallery as soon as I have sorted through them.

Also thanks to all who called in and worked us. Tim is now processing all the QSL requests through his OQRS and will be despatching the directs as soon as done and the bureau in his next posting to the international bureaus direct. As we have asked previously please don't send us your cards as they are just recycled (we have no where to store them) and it is far quicker for you to request through OQRS. Again thanks for the on air fun and we will see you all again at our next on air activation.

Geomagnetic storm reaching G4-Severe levels

Charles Wilmott
Charles Wilmott

g4-severe gms Three Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) produced on June 18, 19 and 21 have now all arrived at our planet and their combined effects caused G4-Strong geomagnetic storm on 22nd June 2015.

Two of the three CMEs were produced by Region 2371, one of the biggest regions of the current solar cycle, which is currently directly facing Earth. This region has 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic configuration and is capable of producing more strong to major eruptions on Sun. Due to its location, CMEs this region could produce over the coming days would most likely be Earth-directed.

Full-halo CME produced by a long duration M3.0 solar flare which erupted at 17:35 UTC on June 18 hit our planet at 16:50 UTC on 21st June. It was a glancing blow followed by the arrival of partial-halo CME (produced by filament eruption in the SSE quadrant early June 19) at 05:45 UTC on 22nd June.3 cmes wsa enlil june222015 f

Direct hit by full-halo CME produced early 21st June was registered at 18:37 UTC.

Geomagnetic K-index of 8 (G4-Severe) threshold was reached at 18:52 UTC.

Area of impact is primarily poleward of 45 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.Under G4-Severe conditions, widespread voltage control problems are possible and some protective systems may mistakenly trip out key assets from the power grid. Induced pipeline currents intensify

Less Than a Week to go

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

With less than a week to go before the gang gather and start having fun on the air and putting Ramsey Island (EU-124) back on the map. But don't forget this will only be from Friday 19th June, all other activity will be from the farm HQ on the mainland (EU-005). The schedule is as follows:

Monday - Charles is traveling from Yorkshire to collect Chris from his home in Warwickshire. Then they will make the journey down to Fishguard calling in to see Ant and Laura for a quick cup of tea and catch up to break up the journey. Some time during the day they will probably be on the air, and will again be on on Tuesday at some point.

Wednesday - Tim and Vinny leave their homes in Coventry to get down to the farm and allow Vinny time to meet Rob and Jane and see the beutiful views for the first time. Ant and Laura will join the boys later that evening after they have finished work. We hope to get Vinny on air for a couple of hours too this day so he can hear our friends calling in to say1 Welcome to Ramsey Island EU124 2011 hello.

Thursday - Tony and Glenys will be making their way down to Fishguard arriving some time in the evening as they too have other commitments up until this time. The team already at the farm will be doing some antenna testing with Ant and learning how to put together the new DHEXPEDITION Hex Beam.

Friday - Up bright and early setting off to get the boat over to Ramsey. The team will the set up the stations and try to get on the air some time mid afternoon. They will be on throughout the weekend right up to Sunday late afternoon where they will strip down to leave just one station active.

Monday - Strip down the final station and clean up leaving the place just as they found it. Another boat trip back to the mainland and then back to the farm for a much needed shower and freshen up.

Tuesday - The team will start to return back to their homes, leaving Rob and Jane in peace, well almost as Chris and Charles are going to be staying until Wednesday.

So don't forget only from 19th June to 22nd June we will be on EU-124. Please do call in and say hello - but you must use your full call sign.


MC0SHL now on Twitter

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

At last we are catching up to the 21st Century. We have just created a Twitter account and will be using that when we are at the farm, on Ramsey, and carrying out any other activities - even on a day to day basis. We will advertise the frequencies we are on next week - along with the cluster - while on Ramsey, keep you up to date with QSLing activities, show some photo's of the boys & girls having fun, and along with the website keep you up to date with the group in general. So why not start following us. We can be found using @MC0SHL and we look forward to seeing you on there, and maybe meeting on the air next week.


Ramsey Island - 2015

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

We would like to announce that we are currently in the final planning stages of our regular trip to Ramsey Island - IOTA EU-124. This year we are going to try to have 3 stations on air full time as we are only there for 3 nights.

Arrive on island Friday 19th June
Depart island Monday 22nd June

We will be using 3 of the new "Hexpedition" hexbeams built by Ant, one will be directed to the West to allow us to work as many stations in the USA as possible as we seem to be lacking contacts from there each year. There may be some digi mode operating and again we will be looking on 6m to work as many as possible on there too.

Team members this year include a new addition of Vinny, M0TAV, who we welcome into the fold as a guest operator. Vinny is the antenna erector here in the midlands and has experience of operating from around the world when he was working on cruise ships and from his time in Thailand.

The full team this year are;QSL-MC0SHL-2




Charles M0OXO

Tony G4LDL

Chris G1VDP

Vinny M0TAV

Jane - Rob's wife and the chief chef and the one who keeps us in check

Laura MW6INK - Ant's wife and Janes right hand and will also taking to the air.


Glenys G8KWD - Tony's wife and Janes left hand

The girls are in charge as usual and I am sure will keep us all in our place.

Usual DX Code of conduct rules will be adhered to (FULL CALL ONLY) and the regular QSL route via M0URX. Please do not send your card to us via the bureau as we do not need your card, but use Tim's on line request service to get your card sent this way free of charge - or request direct and donate a couple of dollars to assit with our costs.

There may be some operating the days before and after from the farm as we all assemble and get ready to travel.

We look forward to meeting you on the air and again we ask to listen to who we call and just act in a true Ham Spirit and allow us to complete the QSO's.

QSL Bureau Abuse.

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

The following has been written and posted by Tim, M0URX, and is on his webpage. I have never known Tim to feel so strang about this subject, but after a telephone conversation with him I can understand why. We here at MC0SHL don't need your card, but are quite happy to send you one of ours and would rather you request it using the OQRS page on Tims site.

Bureau Abuse & Responsible QSL’ing

The latest incoming box from the RSGB Bureau arrived 3 weeks ago and has been sorted and processed and in the Bureau bins ready for the next bureau dispatch.

It is quite clear that many people are confused by OQRS, Bureau and Direct QSL’ing which leads to a huge problem of “Bureau Usage Abuse” Let me see if I can make it clear for you so that we can reduce this abuse and reduce costs within the bureau system and also reduce the wasted time that is spent on sorting bureau cards and processing them.

Out of 3,600 bureau cards received 75% of them should NOT have been sent. Yes, 2,700 cards that you have sent me should NOT have been sent.

For all DXpeditions that are QSL Via M0URX the correct way to request your QSL cards is by using my OQRS. (Online QSL Request System)

Once you have requested your DXpedition QSL using OQRS you must NEVER then put your cards through the bureau – This is NOT required and is ABUSE of the bureau system!

Once the cards are processed they are BINNED.

It is quite clear that many of you do NOT understand this, ESPECIALLY DL stations that send for EVERY QSO Via Bureau – THIS IS ABUSE of the bureau system Please DO NOT DO IT!

Once I receive your OQRS request, your QSL is processed and stored until it is time to send the card to your bureau. You must NOT then send your card through the bureau.

If I need YOUR QSL I will email you and ask you for it!

You MUST ALSO correctly mark your log as "QSL Requested" When you receive your QSL from me you will see "THANKS QSL" This means your reply is NOT NEEDED. DO NOT SEND a reply QSL to DXpedition cards.

The Bureau service is NOT free, it costs national societies (AND ME) vast amounts of money to ship the cards around the world, abuse of the system is clogging it up and is extremely wasteful and will NOT be tolerated. This is the strongest language that I have used to highlight this massive problem. My next step will be to name and shame the abusers.

'E' Callsign error by OFCOM

Charles Wilmott
Charles Wilmott


rsgb100 logo colourMany UK Amateurs complaining and worried today when they received letters suggesting that OFCOM intended to change their Licence prefix to include the letter 'E' (GE, ME etc). This was indeed an error and here is the response from the RSGB;

''Dear Colleague,

As you will be aware, Ofcom are required to give all licenced radio amateurs notice that they intend to vary licences in line with their decisions following last year’s consultation. That process has nowbegun and letters are being sent out.

It has been brought to our attention that some amateurs have received a letter suggesting that their callsign now includes the RSL “E”. Ofcom have confirmed that this is an error and not a change in policy. I am advised that Ofcom intend to publish an explanation on their website (which we will replicate on ours) but, until that appears, I would be grateful if you could reassure any enquirers accordingly.

Many thanks

Graham Coomber, G0NBI

*General Manager*

Radio Society of Great Britain ''

DXpedition Planning - Avoid those school boy errors!

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Tim, M0URX, our QSL manager has had some problems recently with logs and other things not quite going right with some new operators on expeditions and decided to put together the following that can be found in full on his website www.m0urx.com.

Written by: Tim - M0URX

We have all heard about the "DX Code of Conduct" and how important it is for all of us, DX chasers and DX activators to follow rules to reduce DQRM and other nasties. As a QSL manager I am able to see much of what happens behind the scenes and feel that the new year is a good time to help those of you planning DXpeditions in the future to make sure that you are fully prepared for your adventure. Many of the circumstances I describe below HAVE happened to the teams that I have worked with and some of them are so "school boy error" that you often do not even think about it until the problem occurs.

I want to start with the IT side of the DXpedition. Preparing computer equipment for the DXpedition is a very important job. It does not matter whether you are a single operator or a multi operator on a major DXpedition. You need to be familiar with the logging software that you are going to use, test not only the computers performance and stability before you leave but also the logging software itself. 
Is it set up for fast entry DXpedition operating?
Is the time set to UTC? Remember if the clock is set to a local time zone any logging you do is completely worthless, not only will the QSOs not match on LoTW neither will the QSOs be valid as times will not match QSL requests and may be rejected by DXCC, IOTA or other award programs. 
Do you have a USB memory stick to back up logs? Logs should be backed up at least each day that you are operating or every time you finish a shift ideally. Lost QSOs cannot be added later, if you lose your log, that is it, game over! 

Anti virus software - Ensure that the computer equipment is free from harmful viruses. Any viruses could easily be moved from one machine to another causing catastrophic failure on site. Update the anti-virus software and be safe. Some logging software may stall when a daily virus scan starts, so it may be necessary to disable the daily scan until the DXpedition is over. Also disable all software updating facilities as this can also stall or trip up your logging software or even force pc restart.

Keyboards - If there is more than one operator, ensure that the keyboard layout is familiar to all operators. Scandinavia and South European, United Kingdom, Russian and USA will all use different layouts and will include local language characters. using an unfamiliar keyboard WILL inevitably create a lot of logging errors or even dropped log entries so be aware of this.
Interface Cables  - Ensure that you have the correct interface cable for your transceiver to your computer. Make sure that the computer has the correct serial port or USB connectivity. There has been much talk recently of counterfeit FTDI chip sets and problems with Windows 8 OS. Test with the pc before you leave!
Tent & Generator style DXpeditions will have unique problems that they need to overcome. One of the most common problems occur when the generator goes down. I do NOT recommend computers be networked in a tent and generator style DXpedition. If you do network the computers make sure that you have a team member responsible for setting up the hardware & software correctly for this style of operation. The team member must be familiar with networking in a field day style of operation. All team members must also be briefed on how to synchronize to the main slave pc once the generator has been restarted.  If the logging software  is NOT resynchronized and the logs are not saved on each PC then you will undoubtedly will lose every QSO that is logged, you may as well go home!  
Photograph Images - For QSL design & reproduction you should use a high resolution digital camera. Images and logos need to be 300 dpi or better. Low resolution images will be blurred, pixelated and the designer will not accept poor quality images as this will reflect on the reputation of the QSL manager, designer, printer and ultimately on the whole team.
One team member should be responsible for the photograph images and this person should be responsible for sending the images to the QSL manager as soon as possible after the DXpedition. I like to have the images no later than 7 days after the DXpedition, this gives the printing team time to create the QSL design while the QSL manager works on QSL requests. Ideally the QSL parcel will arrive just in time for the QSL manager to have caught up with all QSL requests so that all letters are posted quickly. 
IOTA Rules - If you are going on an IOTA make sure that you know the rules for the IOTA programme, you can find the rules in the IOTA directory here: Make sure that you know the IOTA reference and Island name that you are transmitting from.
VERY IMPORTANT - When printing QSL cards for your activity the "Island Name" MUST be printed on the QSL card. You can also have your logging software print the Island name directly onto the QSO report label, ideal for smaller or multiple island activities.
Finally, remember that once your DXpedition is over you still have many obligations to fulfil. The DXpedition team leader must remain available after the DXpedition to complete the jobs which can take many weeks to complete. Log must be sent to QSL manager along with photographs, copy of licence and other proof for LoTW verification. Equipment will need to be returned, DX organisations / societies that sponsored your team will also have terms and conditions that you must adhere to. 
Most of all it is important that the DXpedition is fun, and that all team members stay safe!

Seasons Greetings 2014

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

As the 2014 year end draws ever closer, we like to wish all our friends around the world seasons greetings in their home language, and we do appologise if we miss yours off the list.

Lets hope that 2015 brings us all good conditions on the radio and we hope to contact you all at some point.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd dda

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annèe
Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo
Vasel Koleda
Froehliche Weihnachten undein gluckliches Nues Jahr
Kala Christougenna Ki eftihismenos o Kenourgios Chronos
Boldoy Karácsonyt
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Cestitamo Bozia
Boas Fiestas e um feliz Ano Novo
Nollaig Shona Dhuit
From all at the Strumble Head DX and Contest Group.May we meet on the air sometime in 2015.
And remember we will be on the air sometime over the holiday period from the farm to celebrate the new year.
We will also be announcing the dates for the next Ramsey Island activation, and other activities for the group through 2015.

IOTA Qsl'in via Kadek YB8BU

Chris Colclough
Chris Colclough

Written by; Charles M0OXO

iota logoThis message just received from the IOTA Manager;

IOTA Management has received a number of complaints that QSL card requests sent to Kadek, YB9BU in accordance with his QSLing instructions on QRZ.com have not received a reply and similarly that email enquiries are not being answered. Emails from the IOTA Manager and mutual friends have also gone unanswered.

In the circumstances it can only be assumed that there is an interruption in the QSL manager service for all the many operations for which YB9BU acts as QSL manager and people would be well advised not to send further cards. We would also advise YB island operators for whom YB9BU acts or normally acts as manager to make other arrangements to ensure satisfactory QSLing.

Acceptance by IOTA Management of further IOTA operations by YB9BU must be regarded as on hold until and unless the matter is resolved.