Caister Marconi radio station contacts more than 160 amateurs in 25 countries

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Radio amateurs from Caister Lifeboat in Norfolk managed to contact 162 other radio amateurs in 25 different countries on Saturday April 23, 2022 when they took part in the annual International Marconi Day (IMD) event to mark the anniversary of the ‘inventor.

Using the GB0CMS call and a mixture of Morse code, telephony (speech) and data (FT8), contacts were made with other radio amateurs across the UK, Europe, USA , Canada and Australia.

Roger Cooke G3LDi (callsign G3LDI) using Morse code at Caister Lifeboat on International Marconi Day 2022

Notable contacts were made with other IMD stations in Newhaven, East Sussex and Chelmsford – the home of Marconi’s original factory.

Further remote contacts have been made with Ian VK3MO near Melbourne in Victoria, Australia and John VK6WC in Chidlow, Western Australia.

the Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (NARC) ran the all-day special event station at Caister Lifeboat to commemorate the village’s original Marconi wireless station, which was established in Caister in 1900. The station was in a main street house known as the name of Pretoria Villa and its original purpose was to communicate with ships in the North Sea and the lightship Cross Sands.

On the Saturday closest to Guglielmo Marconi’s birthday, stations from around the world are set up at sites with historical ties to the inventor’s work. These include Poldhu in England; Cape Cod Massachusetts; Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; Villa Griffone, Bologna, Italy and many more.

NARC Public Relations Officer Steve Nichols, who organized the event, said: “High winds over the Caister Dunes made it difficult to install our antennas – and they bent alarmingly! But they stayed awake all day.

“Conditions were better in the morning as there was an ionospheric disturbance in the afternoon which made communication difficult. Overall it was nice to come back to Caister after two years of not being able to operate there due to the Covid restrictions.

“We connected with other radio enthusiasts all over Europe and as far away as Asian Russia using speech, Morse code and the highly efficient FT8 digital mode that Marconi could only have dreamed of.

“We never used more than 200 watts of power, and often only 100 watts – about the same as an incandescent bulb.

“Our thanks again go to Caister Lifeboat for allowing us to set up the station.”

Technical information for radio magazines

The equipment used was 200W maximum from a Kenwood TS-480 (20m) and 100W maximum from an Icom IC-7300 (40m). The antennas were a W5GI dipole on 40m and an end-fed monoband vertical half-wave designed by G0KYA for HF.

About the Norfolk Amateur Radio Club:

The club has over 100 members, a strong history dating back to the 1950s and a very active calendar of conferences, events, special event stations and classes.

It meets virtually online at 7.30pm on Wednesdays with occasional in-person meetings in the Sixth Form common room, City of Norwich School, Eaton Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 6PP, with formal proceedings starting at 7.35pm.

The program alternates weekly between lectures or club challenges and informal get-togethers with Morse code lessons, electronic construction and ‘Bright Sparks’ events for young people.

For more details, see www.norfolkamateur radio.org

More History of the Original Marconi Wireless Station

The High Street and wireless telegraph station at Caister-on-Sea in the early 1900s

Caister station was connected by land line to Gt Yarmouth post office and Caister Coast Guard station. The main overhead mast behind the house was 150 feet high, with the overhead wire hanging between this and a slightly shorter mast on land where Lacon Road was later built.

The large front room of the house contained the main apparatus and also served as the operating room. The accumulator charging engine was located in a shed adjoining the house, and the accumulators themselves were housed in a purpose-built annex.

The rest of the premises served as a living quarters for the officer in charge.

The communication range was 150 to 200 miles on long wave (600 m) and 100 miles on short wave (300 m).

In 1909, all the coastal stations of Marconi are taken over by the Post Office. In 1911, Caister station was used to train the lightship men in the use of telegraph equipment.

In January 1915 the telegraph equipment from the lightship Cross Sand was transferred to the lightship Parlor and the Caister station was changed to “general operation” and not used for ship-to-shore work. Public use of the telegram facility provided at Caister was suspended for the duration of World War I.

In 1921 plans were made for the reinstallation of wireless on the Trinity House lightships, but this time the new wireless telephony was to replace telegraphy (Morse). New technology made Caister station obsolete and it finally closed in 1929. The masts were taken down and a few years later the house became the village police station.

(Historical details with our thanks to local historian Colin Tooke.)


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