Practical Wireless

Radio Round-up

- Continued on page 66

MANGOS ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT: Early into the Covid pandemic Lee M0RLE started a Monday evening net that he called ‘It’s Good To Talk’. It used repeaters GB3RF and GB3PF in Lancashire. The Repeater Group kindly linked the repeaters for the evening in order to extend coverage.

‘It’s Good to Talk’ was simply a ‘touch base’ type net, allowing people to ‘check-in’, have a few words and a couple of short overs.

By June 2020 it was clear that the meeting of local radio clubs and the possibilit­ies of meeting to operate in the field would be out of the question for some time, so the obvious next step was to meet up online.

Amateurs love acronyms... SOTA, JOTA... The list is long but every good amateur radio group seems to utilise an imaginativ­e ‘play on letters’ in naming themselves. Hence MANGO was born: (M)any (A)mateurs (N)ot (G)oing (O)ut. Extremely relevant at the time.

OK there is a name but how does it work? Basically, it is a Zoom Group. It meets online each Wednesday to talk radio as well as discussing every topic imaginable! On occasions there have been presentati­ons and invited guest speakers. The group has also undertaken sessions of formal training but mainly they learn from one another. They occasional­ly go on air during meetings to test things out.

They expected the group to attract establishe­d amateurs but gained a number of M7s who had had their training interrupte­d by the pandemic. They were able to help, encourage and guide them towards taking the RSGB online examinatio­ns.

All the new licence holders operate. Most have run large nets. This included a Christmas Day

net, run by Karl 2E0KHB. Another of the newer licensees Phil 2E0PRV got the group playing BINGO on the on air. Strange but it proved to be very popular during lockdown. Plus, nearly all the newbies have had a go at running the ‘It’s Good to Talk’ net.

The photo is of Rick (now 2E1RAN) after making his first ‘Stateside’ contact with his M7 call. Rick got into the hobby after listening to the net on his scanner and giving Lee (the host) a ring. He is now studying for the Full Licence along with other members of the MANGO group. (Just for the record, yes, Rick was using 10W to a speakerwir­e-vertical and it wasn’t an arranged QSO!). Once they were finally able to go out, in a limited way, they staged what they termed ‘QSO Parties’ on 2m FM.

They were a type of mini-contest. They did this by each setting up portable stations and seeing how many contacts could be made in a given time. Being unable to find a clear channel on 2m was a unique experience! ARRL have a really handy tool on their website for these fun competitio­ns. It allows you to enter the QSOs with both locators to get a total miles worked.

The station with the greatest total of miles worked won the day.

More recently the group ‘activated’ St James’ Church, Dalehead (near to Slaidburn in Lancashire) for ‘Churches and Chapels on the Air’ using special event callsign GB2DH. It was a great opportunit­y to operate HF and VHF together and to meet in person for the first time. It was great fun even if it does now make them Many Amateurs Now Going Out.

Some have been involved in amateur radio for many years but the enthusiasm of new amateurs and the various things they have done together as a group have often pushed them out of their comfort zones as they explore the different parts of our hobby. It continues to be a very welcome weekly distractio­n

The group has also kicked the trend of the ‘disappeari­ng Foundation Licence holders’! All their new licence holders are on air and a credit to the hobby.

Group,MANGO, was born out of the needs of 2020 and has developed in ways the originator­s did not plan or expect but this new technology does come with advantages. Because it was not part of an existing group it did not come with any baggage. They have been able to operate using their own equipment during meetings. There is no need to drive or park, or to hire a room and very little cost involved.

Their challenge is “Pick a fruit and Just Do It”. See if the format works for you. If it does, allow it to develop to meet the needs of your group. Hopefully you will find you enjoy the hobby in new ways with new and old friends.

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