G3PHO, G3PYB and G8ACE make the pilgrimage

“Where to this year?” was the question on my mind all through the summer. Having been to Microwave Update in the USA twice in two successive years, as well as to countless UK Microwave Round Table meetings at Martlesham, GCHQ, R.A.L and the like, thoughts turned to Germany. Originally Peter, G3PYB, and myself (G3PHO), had planned to attend Update 2002 in New England but that had to be put on the “backburner” as our respective XYLs were not too keen to go and we had wanted to make a real holiday over there rather than just a few days with the microwavers. Sam, G4DDK, had often spoken in glowing terms of the VHF/UHF/SHF Convention at Weinheim in the Rhine area of Germany. Apparently this annual event has a strong microwave component. So, that was it ... a few days (four to be precise) of pure amateur radio with no whinging wives (please don’t tell Sandy and Judy I’ve said this!!) to complain about there being nothing for them to do. In any case we left them at home!
   Organising the trip was a breeze. With friends like Dave, DL4MUP (aka G4HUP), to book us a hotel and provide maps of the local area and Jonathan, HB9DRD (aka G4KLX), to give hints on what to look for and where to go at the event, we couldn’t go wrong.  Two’s company and three is even better company when it’s John, G8ACE! He decided to come as well so we all left G3PYB’s Portsmouth home at 6am on Thursday, 5th September and drove to Weinheim via the Channel Tunnel and a series of excellent motorways from Calais to Brussels and eventually Weinheim. The contrast in driving techniques and road conditions between England and the Continent was very marked to say the least. With many stretches of  German autobahns having no limit at all we found ourselves cruising along at speeds between 90 and 100mph (sometimes over that) while BMWs and Mercedes passed us well in excess of that. It all appeared to be much safer than our crowded UK motorways.


 After seven hours on the Continental roads we arrived in Weinheim at 7pm local time, checked out the location of the radio event and then signed in at the Schmittbergerhof hotel, an excellent family-run place on the SE outskirts of the town. Three days, with breakfast and evening dinner on the first night, came to just £80 eachcan’t be bad!
After a good night’s sleep, we spent much of Friday sightseeing in nearby Heidelberg and being treated to a guided tour by Bertold Stadler, a German friend of G3PHO. He kindly invited us to a strawberry flan and cream tea at his home afterwards. There we met his wife Roswitha who, along with Bertold had visited G3PHO in Sheffield some years earlier.
Bertold, though not a radio amateur, has considerable interest in UHF and microwave RF. Formerly at the Planke Institute and the University of Heidelberg, he now spends much of his retirement at home investigating the effects of UHF RF on body tissue. This photo shows his homemade,  high-Q cavity, with a bandwidth of just 20kHz, through which he passes 600 watts of RF in the 400MHz part of the spectrum. The insertion of any item into the cavity (eg where the plastic bottle is!) detunes it and he measures this change. He has a fine array of test and measuring equipment.
That evening we made our way to the local radio club room and barbeque. Club room is an understatement! It’s located seemingly miles from the road, in the middle of a vast expanse of flat fields. 
Next to it are two or three towers, bristling with antennas covering 80 metres up to 10GHz or so, as well as a large field where hundreds of visiting amateurs were to camp for the weekend. On arriving we couldn’t miss a group of Dutch microwavers who were camping right next to the barbeque and beer area! This group included  PA5DD, PA3AGS and PE1BTV, familiar to many of you who have been to Martlesham in recent years. Their sense of humour shone through both barbeque evenings at the club house. They were a great bunch to be with and we swapped much valuable microwave information in the process. 
Hans, PA3AGS, Ron, K5LLL and Ruud, PE1BTV, enjoy a chat and a beer.
Ron lives in Texas and has a son NN5DX and XYL K5KAT
Peter Blakeborough, G3PYB (left)talks millimetre waves with a couple of Dutch amateurs. The discussions went on for a while, as indicated by the empty bottles!
Next day, Saturday, we were up early to get to the famous radio fleamarket! This part of the convention was reputed to be a little down on previous years but we were very impressed none the less. There was an official fleamarket located in the lower yard of the school housing the convention and much interesting stuff was to be seen there, albeit at rather high (like UK) prices
However, a short walk away was a really big, unofficial “flohemark” in a large public carpark. Here were rows and rows of cars and tables, all bristling with radio surplus (and surprisingly very little computer stuff). There was quite a lot of microwave surplus and test gear. However, with the three of us being a little “long in the tooth” microwave-wise, we did not buy much apart from the odd box and surplus connectors.


left to right: John, G8ACE, Peter, G3PYB, Sam, G4DDK,
Dave, DL4MUP (G4HUP)

Back at the main event we  registered for the two days, Saturday and Sunday, and proceeded into the official sales area. The first floor of the school was crowded with dealers selling the latest in VHF to microwave technology. They were all there… Kuhne Electronik (DB6NT), shown on the left in this photo, Eisch-Kafka, UKW Berichte, Giga-Tech and so on, along with dozens of smaller dealers we had not heard of before.  The highlight for me was to see the 5 watt 24GHz  amplifier on DB6NT’s stand. Michael said I could not have afforded it even if it were for sale (which it wasn’t)! Nevertheless I did spend some Euros there, purchasing a 3.4GHz transverter to drive my recently acquired surplus 14W amplifier. On the same day we met up with Sam, G4DDK, who was on a family holiday in Bavaria.
  An excellent series of  talks was  scheduled for all of Saturday and up to 3pm Sunday. The three lecture streams  covered many topics including sub-millimetre radio astronomy, 47GHz amplifier techniques, VHF antennas, new microwave antennas, a software-based TX/RX sequencer, and amateur laser transmissions. The problem was that almost all of them were in German and we three UK amateurs could not cope with that!

Sunday saw more talks and the trade stands but the fleamarket had shrunk somewhat as many folk had gone home. However John and Peter just couldn't resist these blue cases at bargain prices.



Nevertheless there was still brisk trading taking place! 

We had one last look around before leaving just before 1pm, to drop off Jonathan, HB9DRD(G4KLX) at Weinheim rail station, before our long drive back to the UK.

Arriving in Portsmouth around midnight, we didn’t feel like staying up long! The drive up to Sheffield on Monday afternoon was a nightmare! The heavens opened and torrential rain made the usual four hour journey into one of five and a half! Back in Germany we had been roasted in hot 29 degree C temperatures and sunshine!

Our thanks to all in Weinheim who organised such a great event!
We will be back!