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History of the Repeaters – Beacons and Nodes in Grimsby 1980 - 2016
Where the present Asda Car park is there used to be a Glentons bakery on the corner of Clyde Street and Holles Street, after that area was cleared Glentons had a new bakery built down Ladysmith Rd, and one of the local amateurs who worked there, Mick Knight G3NJF installed a 2 Metre beacon, this ran before I was licensed in Jan 1970.
Our next remote device, although not in Grimsby was the start of our involvement with Thesiger House and it’s various devices that the local amateurs have had installed on the flats, the remote device I talk about is GB3LC (elsie) or the Lincolnshire Coast 70 cens repeater.
GB3LC was situated 3 Kms south of Louth and became operational of RB13 on Wed 20th Feb 1980, running 3 Watts, and it says in the newsletter as the finances improve the power will be raised to 25 Watts
A local group “North Lincolnshire Repeater Group” was set up to raise funds and support the repeater, members decided in July 1980 that we should submit a proposal and try and obtain a local 70 cens repeater for the Grimsby Area. Jim G8VHJ had offered his house in Weelsby Road as a temporary site for the repeater, but due to his moving house we had to find an alternative position.
In September 1980 I applied to the Grimsby Borough Council, for planning permission, also a letter was sent to the Humberside County Council, County Emergency Planning Officer at Wawne to help our application. Later we submitted a planning application for the antennas on the roof space and where our equipment would be housed within the flats.
By December 1980 the planning application had been successful and the following is an extract from the “North Lincolnshire Repeater Group” newsletter No. 4 dated 9th Feb 1981.
A letter was sent to Grimsby council on 9th Sept for permission to use the Thesiger House for our repeater, since that date a lot of people have helped with the project. Two C8 Co-linear aerials have been erected on the flats; one of these was donated by the Humberside Repeater Group, and the other by Jack Tweedy. The Logic has been built by Trevor G3RGC on PC board from Ron G4GAB with components from J Birkett. This logic is currently being interfaced with the Pye 461 transceiver (on loan from Dave G4DJD)
Space within and roof space on Thesiger House (high rise flats) has been leased to the Grimsby Amateur Radio Society for a nominal fee of £10.00 per annum. It is been fitted out by Graham G3VIP and Gordon G4BNT. The holes in the roof for aerial cables have been completed by many people including John G3RSD, Roly G3IYT, and Jim G8VHJ. The fire extinguisher was supplied by Lindsey Oil Refinery (Brian G4DXB). 50 sets of Pye Pocket-phones have been donated by Conoco Oil Refinery (Richard G8RQT).
The Crystal for the base station, a Pye 461 was donated by Quartz Lab. Fred G4GX has loaned the group 2 cavity filters, in fact the list is never-ending. So it is a big thank you to all those who have helped with GB3GY and equally big apology to those who haven’t been mentioned.
The state of the repeater to date (10-02-81) is that a site clearance form has been sent to the repeater working group and we are awaiting a reply. Channel RB11 is confirmed, tests were conducted on the two aerials and it is hoped to have regular test on Sunday Morning 10-12am and Tue evening 7-9pm.
This will enable people to tune up their pocket phones and test for repeater coverage etc, so please encourage the operators. These comments about GB3GY would not be complete without a final thank you for the effort and time put into the project by
Many thanks to Jim G8VHJ for the use of his Pet computer to drive a Creed teleprinter which was used to print this newsletter, and to Alan Nillson G6FCX who photo copied all these pages of this edition, free of charge.
To add to the above in a separate note it mentions Graham G3VIP also along with Jim G8VHJ fitting a sheet of asbestos inside the entry door, this was a council requirement at that time. Today that has been removed and a new door fitted.
The roof on the flats is 17 inches thick and two holes were required for the feeders, these were drilled by Mick G0MUY and Jim G8VHJ, and were sealed later after the feeders were installed by Roly G3IYT
Around the same time, Lindsey Oil Refinery also donated 50 sets of Pye pocket-phones, these units and those from Conoco were intrinsically safe as they were used around the refineries. This caused a few problems for G2DXB who had to clean the boards, then re-crystalled and retuned them all, for which he was given Honorary membership of the Grimsby Amateur Radio Society. To change the batteries in the pocket-phones a two pronged screwdriver was needed, and the batteries were a similar size to a pp3 for the receiver and two pp3 end on for the transmitter. These sets did work well and, when I worked at Lindsey Oil Refinery I could work the repeater from there.
When these Pye PF1’s (Pye pocket-phones) as they were called were crystalled and working, they were sold to club members, I think the price was £15.00 for a pair but I’m not sure, also as a club project a battery charger was made which was able to charge both sets of batteries.
The following is from Graham G3VIP.
The first test transmission, from Theisiger House, was on 19/12/1980. Graham G3VIP and Jim G4NPS (then G8VHJ) set up a station to test coverage.
The antenna, pole and stepladder were manhandled up the stairs to the roof (too big to go in the lift). The Jaybeam C8 co-linear antenna was mounted on a pole which was lashed to one of the clothes posts on the roof, at one time residents were allowed to hang their washing on the roof before health & safety reared its ugly head.
The station was setup on the top stairway close to the door to the roof. The gear was a FT221R and Microwave Modules 70cm transverter running about 8 watts output. The “shack” was a metal tea-tray with folding legs and old camping stool.
The test was short, it was discovered, that a C5 2m antenna had been sent by mistake, thus it did not load too well. Four local stations were worked the first being Fred G2DXB.
On the 21/12/1980, a second test was organized, by Jim and Graham, this time using the correct C8 70cms co-linear. The setup was the same as the first test. This time the signal was much improved, several local, fixed and /m, stations were worked with G3OHT, G2BXZ, G5GX and G3RDM all across the ‘river’ in the Hull area, also Roger G4IPE/M in Louth.
Access to other repeaters was tested, several were successfully opened, the farthest being Boston, unfortunately no qso’s were made.
It took a few days for the two intrepid operators to thaw out; it was extremely cold at the operating position, This log extract is from G3VIP’s log of the two tests.
G3RXP notes on 10.4 gigs
GB3GBY was installed on the flats during 1981; it was a 10.4 gig beacon running 7mw wide band FM from a gunn diode to a homemade 16 slot omni-directional antenna. Everything was home built except the wg16 waveguide which came from old ships radar installations and cleaned. It was one of about 5 beacons in the UK. If I remember right G4DXB did the paper work for the RSGB and obtained the licence, so a belated thanks.
The 16 slot antenna was made at John G3RSD work QTH by Keith Robinson G4LVN on one of the biggest milling machine I had ever seen using an appropriate milling tool I had bought for the slots. This was mounted on top of the flats and with the help of Jim G4NPS who drilled through the roof we were able to fit a waveguide flange to make it water proof - what would building regs be like nowadays. This then went through 6 ft of waveguide to the Power supply and memory CW chip located in the room below.
I built a simple logic board which contained a 1K by 1bit static memory chip (2102). I could program the CW into it via a small Morse key which was mounted on to the logic printed circuit board. I soon found out that when power was lost, I had to run up all those flight of stairs and reprogram the chip and by that time my hand Morse was a bit ropey but it went out on ten gigs anyway. I then fitted a battery backup system using rechargeable batteries, and that worked fine.
Once operating, John G3RSD and I went to a position 30 miles away at Ulceby Cross, and heard the signal 599 which was unbelievable for the small power it was running. We then did tests all over the Wolds and it was always a very strong signal. We were using 30db dishes to make up for the low power from an old Practical wireless project.
Sadly, after two years or so the roof was resurfaced and it was during that time the slotted copper waveguide antenna was pinched possibly due to it being housed in a clear Perspex tube.
No I don't have a good memory; I found an old write up that I had made and I’m quoting that.
It was quite experimentory for the time and John and I had a great time testing it all out.
About three years after it stopped working I saw a mail on the web asking if the Beacon was still working and that was from a SM or LA I think, I wonder if it was ever heard across the North Sea.
73 Dave G3RXP
By Feb 1982 the group membership had increased to 71, and the subs had doubled to £2.00 per annum, GB3LC power was increased from 3 watts to10 Watts and GB3GY was running at 25 watts erp, and the use of standby batteries for GY were to be looked at.
At some just after this the two repeaters went their separate ways, with the Grimsby Amateur Radio Society taking responsibility for GB3GY, and Roger G4IPE and Mick G8OOS looking after GB3LC.
Just as a matter of interest GB3LC did have a talking clock on the repeater, someone may remind me when it became active, I’m not sure if it was in beacon mode or when it received a 1750Hz tone.
The original Pye Transceiver for GB3GY remained in service for many years, and I must at this point say that G2DXB spent many, many hours up the flats, trying this, that and the other and kept that repeater running, in the early days we had a lot of problems with the North Sea navigational aid Syledis, which transmitted on many frequencies including the 70 cens band, and sometimes it stopped GB3GY from being operational because of the strong signal on the input.
(Syledis SYstem LEgere pour mesure le DIStance) was a terrestrial radio navigation system. The system operated in the UHF segment of 420-450 MHz. Operational during the 1980s and until about 1995, it provided positioning and navigational support for the petroleum sector in the North Sea.) Taken from Wikipedia
With G2DXB living a short distance from Thesiger House, he could transmit on the adjacent frequency to GB3GY input frequency and therefore block the Syledis signal and let GB3GY close down.
After a few years packet radio came along, and Thesiger House came in very handy. Just a quick word on packet radio, it was a bulletin board system which at that time BBS’s in different towns were linked together with nodes, I think our node was GY22 in Grimsby.
But that node was connected to three radios for most of the time, a 2 metre link for local users, we also had a 4 metre link later for connecting to the Hull BBS, then also had a 70 cens link the node on Emley Moor. Also at one time there was a node at Belmont to link GB7GBY and GB7LNX in Horsington
At one time in Grimsby, G4DXB run the BBS GB7GBY and had over 120 users, because GB7GBY was so popular with users from both sides of the Humber, a meeting was arranged in Hull with Bryan G8UVQ and he agreed to install and run GB7HUL and this spread the number of users between us, this move also helped as we then had another link via the Hull BBS to Scarborough.
The BBS in Grimsby had over the years been run by several amateur, including G4DXB, G8UFQ, G0MUY and G6FCX.
The first BBS’s were single user only, but Graham G8UFQ wrote a BBS programme that was capable of having multi users, and his program became very popular with many BBS’s in this and other countries.
When we all started using the BBS in Grimsby, activity on 2 metres in the Grimsby area did decline and a lot of locals blamed the BBS for that, the reason they used was that the 2 metre gear was connected to the TNC for packet and the locals seemed to use GB3GY for local nattering.
The BBS network relied on nodes between the stations but a couple of events happened which nearly killed off the network.
Another problem with the packet network was that all bulls had to be sent to every BBS in the country in case a user on that BBS wanted to read that bulletin. A system was being looked at to try and keep all bulls on the system that generated them, then if a request was made by a user that bulls would be fetched for the user to read, but a system was never implemented, but of course as we all know that’s how the present day internet works.
Below is an extract from the “Repeater Report” issued by the RSGB in Oct 1990.
Repeater Administration Costs - Geoff Dover G4AFJ
As you know, the RSGB is going through a difficult period financially, as indeed are many other companies and organisations in the UK. The deficit for the year 1989-90 is into five figures, so cost cutting and staff reductions are the order of the day.
Improved accounting techniques have enabled the Society to cost the administration of the repeater service. This has been worked out to be £50.00 per year. This sum includes the cost of the licence (£12), and third party insurance (£15). Council has decided that repeater group should contribute to these administrative costs to the tune of £25 per year, and it is anticipated that groups will recoup this cost from their users.
In this context, an article will be published hopefully in the December “Radcom” aimed at users and explaining the behind-the-scenes work that is entailed in administering the repeater network. The Society will still pay for the licence and the insurance, but a fee of £25 per repeater unit will be levied for administration as from 1/7/90. You will be billed from Headquarters and you should reply promptly once billed.
I am sorry that groups now have to pay for something that they have come to take for granted. Unfortunately it is inevitable and hopefully we can provide and even better service to groups in the future.
In the same edition the RSGB now has formal site sharing agreement between Pye, BBC and IBA. In the latter two cases a charge of £100.00 per annum is levied on the use of sites for repeater installations. It is still subject to there being space on site and local implementation agreement.
Before the above event a lot of amateur had made their own arrangements with site owners, with paying just a nominal rent, but together these two moves marked the decline in packet radio, although it didn’t affect us directly in the Grimsby area, the network around the country which the system relied on started to fragment and repeater keepers started to use other means to send out and obtain the mail and bulls for members. We in Grimsby did pay the £50,00 demanded by the RSGB.
In the April 1991 edition of “Repeater Report” a lot of groups were against this additional payment, and the feeling was that repeater groups are being made to take the brunt of the RSGB financial difficulties.
Today we have finished up with two repeaters on the site, that is GB3GY and GB3GG the TV repeater.
Presently the repeater was a brand new F496 UHF base station which was kindly donated by John Arnold G4NPH from Ely in Cambridge, this repeater was setup by Derrick G4SJV at his home in Spalding.
Finally, although they have both been mentioned earlier in this copy, thanks must go to the late Graham Chester G8UFQ and the late Fred Chester G2DXB for their efforts towards the hobby.
At the moment I have to thank Dave G3RXP, John G3RSD, Graham G3VIP and Jim G4NPS for their input.
Please if you can add anything to this document or I have made a mistake please email or tell me then I can update.
That’s the writing bit done, I have a few more links to add.
Any comments please to email@example.com