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Whitstable and G4AYT QTH/Profile

     Whitstable is a small town located centrally on the North Kent Coast to the east of London and a few kilometres north of the City of Canterbury. The town is famous for oysters and the actor Peter Cushing. There is a small, but quite active, harbour with a 'village' community where fresh fish and other seafood may be purchased. A short distance to the east of the harbour stands a castle in delightful grounds, including a well kept bowling green. The tide goes out a long way at Whitstable, revealing mud flats ideal for cockle picking. To the south of the town is Duncan Down, which now has village green status, the down is a mixture of cut grass with open spaces and wild areas, including two ponds. Traffic in the town can be a big problem in the summer months as many visitors are attracted to the area, in particular by nearby Canterbury, surrounding villages and the Kent countryside. Two regular favourites of G4AYT are the gardens at Mount Ephraim and the walk along the cliff tops between Reculver Towers, past what was the location of a coastguard lookout, to Bishopstone Glen. The not so far away scenic villages of Dargate and Hernhill are well worth a visit when in the area, offering delightful walks through stunning countryside. A matter of minutes drive along the coast to the east of Whitstable is the nearby popular town of Herne Bay, recently much improved it has to be said.

     Red Sands Radio is based in Whitstable, broadcasting most summers for a few weeks, sometimes on medium wave (1278kHz) from the old Red Sands wartime forts in the Thames Estuary and sometimes from shore on VHF (87.7MHz previous years, but 87.9MHz in 2012) from a studio at the harbour. The 2010/11 VHF transmitter site was close to the windmill overlooking the town and not far from the G4AYT QTH. For 2012 the transmitter was relocated to the roof of the Community College (what we used to call a school), but still on the ridge surrounding the town. This location was found by some expert research by G8NAV and is very close to the QTH of G4ATX. In 2011 local radio amateur 'Pip' Hadler, G4CZU, had an afternoon show on the station.

     Apart from BBC Radio Kent, the Whitstable area is covered by several local radio stations, some of which have connections with Radio House on the southern outskirts of the town e.g. Invicta FM/Heart Radio (Dunkirk 102.8MHz VHF). KM FM also covers the area from near Canterbury (Rough Common 106.0MHz VHF). On medium wave, the old Invicta Radio/Coast AM was replaced in 2007 when it joined the Gold radio network (Littlebourne 603kHz). One local favourite from out of area is Magic (Croydon 105.4MHz VHF). There are numerous other stations from adjoining counties and even France that can be well received in Whitstable. For the MW DXer, Boston (USA) is regularly received early mornings on 1510kHz during winter months.

     G4AYT is located to the south west of Whitstable, on the slight ridge inland from the main town, at approx. 57 metres above sea level. The locator is JO01MI and the WAB = TR16, ITU = 27 and CQ = 14.

                         The Harbour - Whitstable                                          View from Duncan Down                                Entrance to Radio House - Whitstable

                        Whitstable Bowling Club                                                       The Castle                                 Red Sands Radio VHF TX and Link Antennas 2012

                      Gardens at Mount Ephraim                                                 Reculver Towers                                                     Herne Bay Seafront

      Brief Profile of Chris, G4AYT

      Chris was born in the City of Portsmouth, Hampshire. An interest in radio started when an old domestic radio with short wave bands was relocated to his bedroom after being replaced by a more modern VHF set to avoid severe morse breakthrough on the IF from nearby high power naval communications. It wasn't long before discovering it was possible to receive broadcast radio transmissions from all round the world, as well as amateur signals ('phone was on AM in those days). As the years progressed so did the fascination in radio. After moves to Maidstone then Ashford (Kent) and leaving school, while training as a science teacher, Chris passed the Radio Amateurs' Examination. Strong influences in those days were good friends Alan, G8CVU, Jim, G2JF, and Jeff, G3TIS (all sadly deceased). Two years later the Post Office Morse Test was passed and the callsign G4AYT allocated. This was closely followed by a move to Whitstable and the best part of twenty years teaching mainly sciences, Physics in particular, as well as Mathematics and Electronics, to secondary school students. One year was also spent teaching Office Studies and a term of English. Over the years experience was gained in various areas of work, as a student, apart from farmwork, several years were spent at the then Ashford Airport in catering. Later after qualifying as a teacher, many enjoyable years of part-time work was undertaken with Securicor, either on patrols (particularly at night) or daytime CIT ('Cash In Transit'). A year or two was also spent with Eliptic Systems, a Whitstable electronics manufacturer, in various departments, but mainly testing and quality control.

      The University of London Goldsmiths' College, where G4AYT was teacher training, had an extensive TV network and studios. It was here that amateur television became a dominant part of the amateur radio hobby. Many evenings were filled televising lectures for live feeds around the complex, for which G4AYT received a generous fee. Much technical knowledge was gleaned from the service department and staff.

      Low frequency radio has always been an interest, more so in the last few years, but radio interference from two neighbours has made life difficult lately. ATV remains an interest, especially with the operational return of the Kent Television Group repeater, although activity is very low. VHF, UHF and microwave radio have all played their part, but even here local interference is creeping in and causing problems. The days of amateur radio seem numbered, especially with the sad loss of many good friends in recent years.

      The picture opposite is of Chris, G4AYT, at the age of 17, living with parents at the family home in Ashford, Kent. The shack in those days was a wooden shed in the back garden with a long wire antenna going to a silver birch tree, this worked well on topband.

      On one occasion G4AYT and a local 'radio' friend were in this shed when a massive explosion filled the place with smoke and covered the walls and windows with a sticky mess, much to the amusement of family and neighbours. It was likened to a shotgun blast, but was the inevitable result of too much voltage on a large eletrolytic capacitor.

      The current owners of the property say they still have and use the very same shed - which only goes to show how effective the endless tins of Cuprinol painted on it must have been.

      And Finally...

             

      Left: Interesting DIY installation seen on a Whitstable bungalow, guess he lost the assembly instructions for his DAB antenna! (Grimthorpe Avenue, Whitstable).

      Middle: Don't see many of these still around today, an old 405 line combination band 1 and band 3 TV antenna (Millstrood Road, Whitstable).

      Right: Another relic from the past, bayed 405 line 8 elements for band 3 TV (Canterbury Road, Whitstable).