SEARS May 2014 Club Night Report

South Essex Amateur Radio Society LogoSEARS, the South Essex Amateur Radio Society, held its first club night at its new venue tonight, Tuesday the 13th of May 2014.

The society has moved from its former location at the Canvey Sailing Club to the Swans Green Hall in Thundersley. The new location is significantly more central to South Essex, and the facilities at the new venue are very suitable for use for club nights and other activities that SEARS has in mind for the future.

Swans Green Hall, Thundersley
Swans Green Hall, Thundersley

High Altitude Balloon Tracking

The evening’s talk was on the subject of High Altitude Balloon Tracking, and was presented by SEARS secretary Dave Speechley G4UVJ. The presentation included detail of the payload that’s loaded onto balloons and the equipment that Dave uses to track balloons in flight over the county. He also showed some video of flights in progress, showing impressive aerial views and some ‘creative’ props.

Dave G4UVJ, running the High Altitude Balloon presentation
Dave G4UVJ, running the High Altitude Balloon presentation

Balloon tracking typically requires a 70cms receiver capable of SSB reception, plus a computer running specialist decoding software. This is something the Essex Ham team has tried and it’s very rewarding being able to receive signals from a floating body and plot its position on a map – great fun too when the balloon bursts and the signal undergoes some changes.

To help demonstrate the practical side of balloon tracking, Dave played the Essex Ham video on the subject, which you can watch from the following YouTube link:

If you’re interested in finding out more, take a look at Essex Ham’s Guide to High Altitude Balloon Tracking

GB2HB – Heavenly Body Commemoration

After the main presentation and before the teabreak, SEARS outlined some of their upcoming events, including special events to commemorate a historic event from 1944.

SEARS showed a 10 minute video that explained the events of the 19th of June 1944 – Two American Flying Fortress B17 aircraft collided over Canvey Point returning from a bombing run. The video featured local eye-witness account of the tragedy, accounts of recovering those who were able to parachute away from the doomed aircraft, and the recent campaign to get a plaque installed in the Garden of Remembrance.

To mark the 70th anniversary of that fateful day, SEARS will be operating the special event station GB2HB (Heavenly Body II being the name of one of the two aircraft) – SEARS is planning a field day event at the Canvey Island Yacht Club on 16th August 2014 and GB2BM at the Bay Museum on 22 June 2014. For more details, go to

Some of the attendees of the SEARS May 2014 Club Night
Some of the attendees of the SEARS May 2014 Club Night (Graham on the camera)
Some of the attendees of the SEARS May 2014 Club Night
Some of the attendees of the SEARS May 2014 Club Night (James on the camera)

Thanks to the team at SEARS for the warm welcome. By its own admission, SEARS is a small club, with just over 15 people in attendance for the evening’s get-together – however, the welcome was very warm (especially to newcomers), with members of the SEARS team going out of their way to make sure everyone was welcomed and offered a drink.

The new, more central venue affords the club some excellent opportunities, and there are some exciting things on the horizon for SEARS, including the Heavenly Bodies special event, a planned ISS schools contact, and at the start of next year, the 30th Canvey Rally.

For details of upcoming events at the new SEARS venue, see the SEARS Club Diary

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