Oxford University Radio Society, 1975 - 1979

This page contains memories and photographs contributed by Dave Lawley G4BUO and Steve Bevan G4GFX from their era at OURS in the late 1970's. It is told mostly in their own words.

The Story According to Dave Lawley, G4BUO

In my first year the shack was in the basement of Keble Road and we had a Yaesu FT400 transceiver feeding dipoles in the roof. Unfortunately there was a nearby lab with wideband preamplifiers and we had to phone up and check they weren't running any experiments before transmitting. Also on one band there was a bit too much RF on the feeder which could cause an earth leakage breaker to trip. If this happened you had to grope around in complete darkness to find your way to the mains panel to reset the supply.

Beams on Westower at 62 Banbury Road. Circa 1977 After about six months or so we moved to a shack at the back of 62 Banbury Road, behind the Department of Geodesy and Surveying. This seemed a great improvement and we managed to get a grant for the purchase of a 40ft wall-mounted Westower and Western DX Penetrator 3 element tribander. Also at about that time I happened to be cycling through the Science area and saw some scaffolders loading a lorry. I stopped and asked if their company sold aluminium scaffold poles and they promptly took me to Banbury Road and offloaded ten 14ft poles plus couplers for the princely sum of ten pounds.

Putting up DX33 beam on 60ft mast at Elsfield for NFD 1978 Julian G3YGF got hold of some rope that had been used for launching gliders and in the next few weeks we worked out how to put up a 60ft mast using a gin pole, from first principles. The photograph shows the mast and tribander being erected at Elsfield for NFD 1978. These masts stood us in good stead but when last seen they formed part of the support structure for the 70cm moonbounce array. There is a picture of this at, I think, Keble sports ground in the RSGB's book "Amateur Radio - the First 100 Years".
DX33 tribander mounted on the flagpole at the Engineering Department and
fixed in the direction of the USA


I think it was 1977 that we first took the tribander up the stairwell of the Engineering Science block and assembled it on top of the lift housing. We used the pulley halyard to get it to the top of the flagpole, with scaffold poles supporting the weight. The beam could not be rotated so it was ideal for the ARRL DX contests, which in those days occupied two weekends per. mode and we left the beam assembled and firmly tied down to the top of the lift housing, ready to be raised again for the next leg of the contest.

In our first effort as G3OUR/A we generated some enormous pileups using the FT400 and 75ohm TV coax feeding the beam. When James G4EZN came on the scene the following year he brought a homebrew amplifier using a pair of 3-500s but the homebrew anode choke hadn't been designed to avoid resonances so when changing bands we had to power down, open up the amplifier and solder in a different choke.

It was harder to put up effective antennas for the LF bands, but the HF bands seemed to be open very late and from a note in my logbook I see that in 1978 we made 1,798 QSOs in the CW contest and a massive 3,919 QSOs in the SSB contest. All of these QSOs had to be written into a dup sheet and then the whole lot re-written before the entry could be sent to ARRL.
ARRL SSB 1st Leg 1978. G5BYS? operating, G4GFX & G4DXQ logging. ARRL SSB 1st Leg 1978. G4EZN operating, G8HDR logging.

The two photographs here were taken during the SSB 1st leg of the 1978 contest. In the left hand picture, G5BYS? is operating with Steve, G4GFX and Harvey, G4DXQ logging. In the right hand picture the operator is James, G4EZN and Chris, G8HDR is logging. (Can anyone help with a name for G5BYS? That is what is written on the back of the photo, but it may be an error!)

Notes in my logbook remind me that we entered the May 2m portable contest in 1977 from Stow on the Wold and made 450 QSOs using 150W to a 13el parabeam at 45ft. That sort of performance wouldn't be possible today! The next month OURS entered NFD for, I assume, the first time ever. Julian managed to arrange for us to use Little Rissington, a former airfield in Gloucester, and we made over 500 QSOs. For most of the contest we were in cloud and I remember we had a truly miserable time taking everything down. Julian was the only member with a car and he had to make two trips to get all the gear back to Oxford.

1978 with Finals looming didn't stop our second entry in NFD this time from Elsfield, much nearer to Oxford and we made 580 QSOs.
1978 DXpedition. Hilltop at the end of the Mull of Galloway. 1978 DXpedition. Hilltop at the end of the Mull of Galloway.

In late August/September of 1978 we took the University minibus on DXpedition to Scotland and then down to North Wales. The pictures above were taken on the first leg, a hilltop at the very end of the Mull of Galloway. The first shows the aerials and operating tent, whilst the second was taken with the gear all packed up in the transit, ready to depart for North Wales. Left to right are: G8KHU, G4GFX, G3YGF, G4CNV and G8LYB. 1978 DXpedition. Transit stuck on slope of Moel Famau, Clwyd.

On arrival in North Wales, we got the minibus stuck on a very steeply inclined mountain track leading to the top of Moel Famau in Clwyd. The picture shows all the equipment being taken out before we very carefully got it back to level ground.

There was a 1977 expedition to the Isles of Scilly but I wasn't on that one.

Steve Bevan, G4GFX Takes Up The Story

I recall operating (as a G8!) ARRL HF SSB and CW contests from the top of the Engineering Science Block in Keble road. As G3YGF was a post-grad student then, he had access to the labs and the keys! We put a 3-el tribander on top of the flagpole and at other times we put a 16-el 2m beam up there too.

Operators and Equipment at the ARRL Worldwide SSB Contest, 1976 or 1977.
The photograph here shows the operators and equipment from the ARRL Worldwide SSB Contest in 1976 or 1977. Left to right are:
G4GFX, G4EZN, G4EWJ, G8RHI, G4BUO, G3YGF, unknown, G3CWI, G8LYB.
The trusty Sommerkamp FT250 is below the "G3" and under the "OUR" are some high power amplifiers.

G8LYB's 2m EME array. I also recall sitting in on some of the very early 10GHz narrowband tests between G3YGF on the top floor of the Eng Science block to G3JVL(?) in Hayling Island on the S.Coast.

There was also a lot of moonbounce (EME) activity. We started with G8HDR's 70cm kit with 4x27el loop yagis at a college playing field (off Iffley Road somewhere?). We upgraded the following year to a 20+ft chickenwire dish at the back of 62 Banbury road. We also ran 2m EME with G8LYB's array of 4 16 element yagis. This last is shown in the photograph taken at the back of 62 Banbury Road, with the tower carrying the tribander and a 14 element parabeam in the background.


Many thanks to Dave, G4BUO and Steve, G4GFX for these contributions to the web site.

Copyright © Alan Simpson, Dave Lawley 2003 Back to the OURS Index Last Updated 2003-06-05