Special Event Radio Station

One of our Club members Graeme Miller, has been instrumental in gaining great publicity for XH558 and the project by broadcasting with his friends to amateur radio stations all over the world. Greame writes:

"We would like to thank everyone who has been involved previously and those being involved this year, but special thanks go to members of Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society (NADARS), Newbury ATC, Finningley Amateur Radio Society (FARS), Robin Hood Airport Doncaster, The Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Club, and also to West Berkshire District Council, who have all contributed in some way to making this extra special event possible."

See full details below:

GB60VUL – The Vulcan Diamond Jubilee

Some of you may have been aware that over the last few years GB0VUL has been used by various members of the Newbury And District Amateur Radio Society (NADARS) to promote XH558 the last flying Vulcan bomber. This year, we are arranging the call GB60VUL, this is to promote 60 years of the Vulcan Bomber, and the Vulcan’s “Salute to Her Majesty” during her Diamond Jubilee year. The call will be active from 6 different QTH’s from the 30th April to the 27th May.

These include Robin Hood Airport Doncaster, The Control Tower at Greenham Common, and the 211 Squadron ATC in Newbury.

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved previously and those being involved this year, but special thanks go to members of Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society (NADARS), Newbury ATC, Finningley Amateur Radio Society (FARS), Robin Hood Airport Doncaster, The Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Club, and also to West Berkshire District Council, who have all contributed in some way to making this extra special event possible.

Please listen out for us on air, we will only be active when time permits, round our normal daily commitments, but we will try to work as many stations as we can.

Norman Bland

Norman has started a blog that he will update regularly to keep us informed:

GB60VUL Update Part 1

Hello everybody,

I'm sure most of you will have heard by now that XH558 is being promoted on Amateur Radio using a special event callsign GB60VUL.

I thought I'd take the time to give you a quick update, and let you know how things are going.

By the end of day one (the 30th Anniversary of the 'Black Buck 1' mission) we had managed 227 contacts, in 26 Countries, furthest being in Canada, and 2 other special event stations.

The number of stations wanting to call is amazing, they are all eager to get our QSL card, with the picture of XH558, so much so, that by the morning of day two, I'd already had an envelope containing a QSL card from one of the stations we worked on day one, complete with a Stamped Addressed Envelope so we could send them our card by return.

One of the joys of this sort of Special Event Callsign is that unlike putting a message out on a commercial radio station, we are not just transmitting hoping that our message is being received, we KNOW it is, as people are calling us back, en masse, and talking to us about XH558 and Vulcan's in general.

Whilst we operate station to station, we know that there are many more people listening than are able to talk back to us. There is an army of what we call "short wave listeners" (or SWL's) who also eagerly listen in for stations such as ours and will often send us one of their cards to confirm they heard us. We value these 'QSL' cards equally with those received from stations we have managed to talk to directly.

I'll hopefully be sending you updates as the event progresses. I'm especially looking forward to visiting Doncaster over the coming bank holiday weekend when our friends from Finningley Amateur Radio Society who will be using the call based near XH558's Hanger. They will hold the call until Saturday 12th when it will return south, and I'll bring you more updates when we set up from other venues including the control tower at Greenham Common (Home to air shows in the 1970's and early 1980's - including a certain Vulcan....)

We will end the stint with an open weekend at 211 Squadron ATC in Newbury, starting on XH558's 52nd "Birthday" the 25th May. All are welcome to attend on the Friday evening and all day Saturday or Sunday.

That's all for now, but I hope some of you are as excited as us, about us getting XH558's message out to the world.

Norman Bland


Well done all! Photographs of both sides of the dedicated Vulcan QSL card Norman refers to are shown below.

Our newsletter goes worldwide, so if any of our readers are 'Radio-hams', please do listen out for the calls and say 'hello' if you can.



GB60VUL Update Part 2

I had a great weekend visiting Doncaster. It was really nice to meet the guys from Finningley Amateur Radio Society, who are doing a sterling job running GB60VUL. I was impressed with their setup pictured below, which is based in a van parked just outside Hanger 3 where XH558 is currently based.


I also took some video of them working a couple of stations with a 3D camera I recently acquired, these can be viewed at:-



We have had more busy periods with many stations trying to call us, and e-mails from the USA to ask when we are going to be on certain bands so they can call us, to get in the log and get our QSL card.

In the first five days of the special event, Bill, M0TDW, managed to get nearly 600 contacts in the log in over 34 countries. In the time that the call has been at Doncaster, they have put at least another 600 in the log. If we continue to fill the log at this rate, we will have more than 3000 contacts by the end of the month. This will beat our best efforts from past years and shows how keen people are to work the Vulcan Special event call.

The web page that Amateur stations use to look us up (https://qrz.com/db/gb60vul) has already had more than 3000 hits so we know we are reaching many more people than we are able to talk to.

The Special event call is at Doncaster until the 12th May.

More in my next update in the next week or so...




GB60VUL Update Part 3
Well, I suppose it's about time I gave you another update on the exploits of GB60VUL. Jeremy G4DOQ (Chairman of Newbury And District Amateur Radio Society - NADARS) has been running the call from his QTH this week, and it is the first time the station has had access to a "beam" antenna, which makes working the longer distances just that bit easier. Jeremy has been concentrating on the higher HF bands 20m-10m (14Mhz-28Mhz) and has been trying to contact as many stations on the American Continents as possible. Like most of us, his spare time is a little limited, so the station has not been on as many hours a day as it was from Doncaster, where the team from Finningley took shifts to run it most of the day. The numbers of contacts in the log book are still steadily increasing, and Jeremy is using his time wisely to allow those stations in the USA who were so desperate to work us, the best possible opportunities to do so.
This is a good lead up to us operating from the ex RAF and USAF base at Greenham Common over the weekend. I'm sure we will get nearly as many stories about GI's who have served in the UK as we get off those who may have had some experience of the Vulcan over the decades. We know from previous years that there are many people all over the world, and especially in the USA, who greatly admire the Vulcan and the work done by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Club.
Pictured below, you will see me handing over a special cake to two of the guys from Finningley Amateur Radio Society (Eric on the left is the President of FARS, and Richard in the Middle is one of the main operators who kept GB60VUL on air while it was in Doncaster), this is a design of Cake I have had made by my local bakery (The Empire Cafe) for XH558's Birthday later this month. I took one up to them as a thank you for running GB60VUL. I have included the original design so you can see more clearly what the cake looks like. We will have another cake like this for our open weekend at 211 ATC Squadron on the 25-27th May.
That's all for now....another update after the weekend at Greenham Common.


GB60VUL Update Part 4
Well, time for another update on the exploits of GB60VUL, this time while being based at Greenham Common.
We were limited to battery power (the ex RAF Base is now back to a "nature reserve" so we were not allowed to bring a generator and there is currently no mains electricity at that location), so this meant we didn't operate quite as many hours as we initially anticipated (mainly due to batteries going flat), but we made up for the lost hours by working the pile ups as quickly as possible.
Richard (G3ZGC) even managed to work 97 stations in an hour (all CW - or Morse code to the "man in the street") this meant we were able to exceed 600 contacts in 2 days.
It must be something to do with being called Richard and working CW, as Richard from Finningley Amateur Radio Society did 100% of their CW contacts while the call was at Doncaster. The SSB (or voice) contacts were shared mostly between Richard, Eric (FARS president), and Rick. These three did the majority of the operating at Doncaster, but were assisted by others in the Finningley ARS.
I digress, so back to Greenham Common. We worked from Richard's "camper van" and my car (pictures shown below) just to the east of the Control Tower. Richard and a number of the other NADARS club members worked using the HF radio and managed the majority of the contacts while I (assisted by Graeme) went onto 2m. This band is very similar in frequency to the Commercial FM Radio that you listen to in your car, and I'm sure most of you will know how easy it is to lose the signal from that type of radio. Distances are much more limited compared to the bands we use to "work the world" but, this being Amateur Radio, people like to try and work special calls on as many bands as possible and some people do not have equipment for all bands. It was useful for us to go on 2m to work some extra stations, given the "short range" of this band. We were very pleased to contact a station in Exeter and two in Dumfries and Galloway, this with a relatively modest setup, especially when you compare our single 7 element "beam" antenna at only 10-20ft (as a general rule the more elements and more height the beam has the further it can hear or be heard) running only 50 Watts, to one we heard of that was running a stack of 4x 13 element beams 30+ ft above a large hill and 400W.
The activities at Greenham pushed our total number of contacts past 2500 and the country total is definately over 45. We have also worked stations on every continent except Antartica, and like most activities on the planet - there is not much Amateur Radio in the Antartic. Also, hits on our qrz.com page are rapidly approaching 7000.
We still have about a week to go and will be on "data" modes quite a bit this week, and we will be finishing in style with a "birthday" weekend for XH558 at the 211 Squadron ATC in Newbury, starting on Friday evening (25th) through to the evening of Sunday 27th. All are welcome to come and see us there.
I'll give you a final round up with some more pictures after the weekend.


GB60VUL Update 5

Well, our 28 days are finally up, and its time for us to collate logs and start getting the QSL cards prepared for sending via the Bureau, so the work is not quite finished yet. 

I'd like to tell you our figures for the 28 days but first I'd like to tell you something that will put them in perspective. Our best efforts with GB0VUL ( 2 years ago - the last time we were able to run for a month ) was 2700+ log entries in over 50 countries, which was very good. 

We knew that GB60VUL would attract more interest, so we pre-ordered 3000 QSL cards. At the end, we had more than 3800 entries in our log from nearly 80 countries (on 6 of the 7 continents!). We had worked 720+ different callsign prefixes (each country can have more than one prefix) and had worked stations on 12 different frequency bands.

I'm sure there are still many more people out there who heard the word about the Vulcan, but we didn't get the change to chat to them on the air. 

Attached are some pictures from our last venue, the 211 Sqn ATC in Newbury, who gave us first class facilities as always. We used Richards Camper van this time just as an antenna support for the G5RV wire antenna.

In the pictures below you can also see Richard working a few stations "on the key" (using Morse code). I was pleasently suprised when we managed to work VK7AC (Tasmania) from that fairly basic setup. We also had an exhibition of Vulcan articles and posters from over the years as well including a "time line" from the prototype VX770 through to our beloved XH558 and the Vulcan that bombed the Falklands - XM607. 

I'd like to end this report by saying a BIG thank you to all who got involved in GB60VUL this year, but special thanks to those who helped directly with the setting up and running of the station from 6 different venues. At the Vulcan Club AGM, I got the chance to personally thank Dr Robert Pleming for his help in providing some of the paperwork we required to get the GB60VUL Call, and also I would like to thank Colin Marshall who enabled that to happen so swiftly.

Thanks to various members of the two Radio Clubs that manned the station, Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society, and Finningley Amateur Radio Society, their help made my job so much easier, and also thank you to anyone who visited the station as it toured the country. It was good to see so much interest.

Last but certainly not least, thank you to all the Amateurs who called us on the air and made the station the huge success it was this year, even if we were unable to get you in the log this year your efforts in trying to work the station were appreciated.

A final thank you not directly related to running of GB60VUL, is to the Vulcan to the Sky Trust for letting me have a blog on their site, it has been nice to be able to promote Amateur Radio via the Vulcan, as well as promoting the Vulcan via Amateur Radio.

There may be one final update from me this year, so watch this space....