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History of Nottingham University [Amateur] Radio Society

Posted <2019-08-04 Sun 23:37> by Aaron S. Jackson.

Inspired by a video released today by Lewis M3HHY, delving into the history of G3CXX radio society at the University of Manchester, I was curious to see what I could find regarding an amateur radio society within the University of Nottingham.

The earliest reference I can find for such a club is from The Short Wave Magazine (SWM) issue September 1951. It writes,

Nottingham University Radio Society. – This Club runs the station G3DBP, under the super- vision of G3BAC and G3DVV. An AR88 is on loan from the University authorities, and a BC348 and R1155 are also avail- able. The transmitters operate on 80, 40, 20 and 2 metres. G3DBP is on the air every Wednesday afternoon during the University term, and also at other times.

The same issue also includes this photo of some of the members of the society:

Scaned from Short Wave Magazine September 1951. An earlier version of this photo is included later in this post.

A few years later, in the November 1954 issue of SWM):

G3DBP is the station of University of Nottingham Radio society, operating from Beeston; they have become increasingly active on VHF, running 70w to a pair of HK24G's with a Cascode into an AR88 on the receiving side; the beam is at present fixed N-S 8-element stack, soon to be reinforced by a pair of slots to cover E-W directions. It will interest a number of people to know that G3DBP/G5CP run a regular week-day schedule at 1315.

I wonder where in Beeston? … In a competition on 2 metres, reported in that same issue, G3DBP made 18 contacts between October 4th and 16th with a readability consistently of R5 and mostly S9. In the January 1955 issue of SWM, it says,

While on this subject, we must mention a good example of the genuine "Ham Spirit" which was brought to light by one of the contestants. Nottingham University has some unforeseen trouble withtheir BC-348, and in this crisis got in QSP with Nottingham G3EKW, their nearest neigbour and, of course, a rival entrant. The result was immediate loan of an AR77, delivered by the secretary in his car in time for G3DBP to be set up and working by 1430. How pleasant to be able to record this within a few weeks of having read of a contest (not in this country) in which an entrant actually carried out a bit of minor sabotage on a rival's station during the previous night!

In the July 1955 issue of SWM it says,

G3DBP, the University call has not been heard much due to "pressure of examination" and G3JKO himself has spent more time listening than transmitting. There was a reason for this - their 70-watt transmitter paralyses an ancient O-V-1 BC receiver used by the neighbour by whose grace G3DBP is allowed to function! When G3DBP, with G3JKO operating, was working G2FJR recently, said neighbour decided time was up so far as QRM was concerned, and pulled the main switch, which put G3DBP off the air in the middle of the QSO ! (We relate this just as G3JKO re- ports in his letter.) Incident- ally, another bit of jugglery involving G3DBP is that they cannot transmit CW, as such ; they key by modulating the steady carrier with a 400 cycle note, which produces quite a nice noise in the shape of a tone signal (BFO out), but has elicted some rather left-handed reports when taken as CW (BFO in) at the receiving end.

as well as,

Nottingham University Radio Socety is also fully active, with a constantly changing membership. Visits have been paid to the G.P.O station at Rugby, and to the local Rediffusion centre. The Club TX, G3DBP, is active on 160, 80 and 2 metres. At the beginning of next sessoin the society will be putting on a stall at the University Pre-Sessional Conference, with G3DBP/A operating on phone. This, it is hoped, will show students something of Amateur Radio, and attract new members to the society.

The next reference I can find to G3DBP is in the February 1965 issue of SWN. It seems they let their callsign lapse and as such listed as a New QTH. The address being reported as "Nottingham University Radio Society, The Union, University Park, Nottingham (Re-issue)"

In the September 1966 issue of SWN, it seems their call sign has changed, writing,

G3UNU, October 4 : Nottingham University Radio Society will have a station on show at the Uinv. Pre-Sessional Confernece, operating on or near 3600 kc, 0900-1400z, with cards for all QSO's. Address for information, and about joining the Club: C. J. Doran, 89 Lennard Road, Penge, Londn, S.E.20.

I wonder why the address is listed as being in London? Unfortunately after that, I wasn't able to find much else. There was a brief mention of G3UNU in SWM 1983 about Mark Tuner, G4PCS, operating the club call during a period of Sporadic-E propagation. At some point, probably late 80s or early 90's, although I can't find a date, the call sign appeared in the AMPR hosts file, allocated several addresses, just below G8RWK's callsign, who I know. Upon asking, it would seem the addresses were registered to a VAX and some Amigas. Finally, later mentions in SWM refer to the to the club as "Nottingham University A.R.S." instead of "Nottingham University Radio Society" which may be an attempt to ensure some clarity exists between URN (University Radio Nottingham) and the amateur radio society.

Well, fun evening trying to learn about all of this. Just to finish off, I thought it would be fun to try and quantify the level of activity of the society over time. Below shows the number of mentions each year that either G3DBP or G3UNU appears in an issue of SWM.

Number of times per year the society is mentioned in The Short Wave Magazine.

<2019-09-05 Thu 12:57> Update. I contacted the university Manuscripts and Special Collections asking if they had any photographs of the society. Amazingly they do. There was a small fee for digitisation, but I was also able to get permission to publish the photographs on my website (although I don't think I will release the full resolution scans). Both photographs were taken in 1949, so 70 years ago this year! Without further ado,

The clubs shack. Copyright of the University of Nottingham. Published with prior permission from Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Items worthy of mention include an AR88 receiver on the left, BC348 receiver in the middle with a TU7B VFO and power supply above. On the right there is a modulator at the bottom containing 6SJ7 and 6SN7 tubes. Above that is a bandswitched exciter, class C amplifier and antenna tuner unit.

Some members of the club. Copyright of the University of Nottingham. Published with prior permission from Manuscripts and Special Collections

Eric Smith and Mike Dransfield are the first and second on the front row. Standing at the back on the right hand side is Bob Bastow G3BAC.

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