When the RSGB asked the Guernsey Amateur Radio Society if we wanted to be responsible for the running of GB70U for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations for the bailiwick of Guernsey, the club jumped at the chance.
One thing I will say is the RSGB seems to have left this all rather late in the day with little time to get everything organised and promised publicity material did not arrive until the Wednesday after the event.
Friday is the regular club night here in Guernsey so a few days before an email went to all club members asking for those who would be interested in helping to setup and run the GB70U special event station to attend the club meeting. As I am sure it is across the country a small dedicated group of regulars put their hands up, so let the organising begin.
As we wanted this special event station to be open to the public we decided that we would operate from the Beau Sejour leisure centre carpark, adjacent to the club building a world war two three storey bunker. We also decided what bands and modes we would use, then I had a bright idea lets setup a station for operating through QO-100. After getting back home from the meeting and sitting in the shack looking at the QO-100 setup it dawned on me what I had just let myself in for.
Then it all started to happen, the RSGB wanted some information to put on their gb70.co.uk website about our planned operation, so information was provided such as the location and days we were planning to operate over the jubilee weekend including that we would be operating a QO-100 station. The RSGB came back very enthusiastically wanting photos and station details, which were put on their website,, this all caused a bit of a stir and lots of interest.
I was starting to now get a little worried with all this interest, I had a lot to live up to and how was I going to achieve it.
With three days to go before the event I decided that I was not going to pull the shack to bits, so then came up with the idea about setting up the QO-100 station in my old LDV van.
I found an old kitchen worktop and some other useful lengths of timber and made and fitted an operating bench in the back of the van. I rescued a retired PC, two monitors and UPS from work and fitted them in the van and setup the PC with Windows 11 and SDR-console.
The station consisted of an SDR Play RSP 2 on receive and controlled by SDR-console.
A simply bias tee to feed 12 volt power to the Bulls eye LNB.
Transmit was done on 70cms to an SG Labs transverter mounted at the dish feed point with 2 – 2.5 wats fed into 3.5 turn helix.
We also used a midi controller for tuning, volume control and for other functions used in SDR-Console.
This was all assembled and tested whilst the van was parked in the front garden with many a bemused look from passing motorists and more than a few comments from the neighbours.
By now the local newspaper were keen to do an article on the special event station, which was published the day before the start of the jubilee celebrations.
All of the satellite logging was done in real time using a 5G internet link to the excellent Cloudlog software by Peter 2M0SQL
The van was taken to site on the Thursday and setup phew, it all seemed to work fine.
On the Friday morning I was interviewed live on BBC radio and on the Saturday ITV news came and did an interview which much too all our surprise was the lead item on the Sunday news.
We also operated a station on the HF bands and a VHF station but most of the interest from both
visitors and other amateurs was in the QO-100 setup. As I write this we have made 163 QSO’s and have worked 27 countries.
One QSO that stands out was being called by Carson DP0GVN at the Neumayer III Station Antarctica whilst a group were watching on. The look on their faces was amazing when they realised where the station was. Carson was excellent in answering some questions and explaining that the wind was only 3 knots but the temperature that day was -31 he also went on to tell the listeners about the emperor penguin colony that were over wintering there.
Many local amateur had their first taste of operation though the satellite, so much so that there was a near constant queue to operate, to the point I thought that I might be taking some of them home as they enjoyed it so much I could not get them to leave the van.
So was it all worth the effort, it is a resounding yes. It was hard work but very rewarding. We have shown amateur radio to the public, we have generated more than our fair share of media attention and lots of positive social media comments.
Due to popular demand look out for us again as GB22GU for the Commonwealth Games special event station from July 28 to August 8 and again call to be confirmed as GB5VAS from the Guernsey Vintage Agricultural Show on the 6 and 7 of August.
See links below for more information.