The year 2016/2017 this was once again a significant one for RAYNET in general and this group in particular as after many years, the whole of RAYNET was once again re-united under a single banner as a single organisation. This is very significant in that our ‘user services’ who have a statutory duty to not only liaise with us but also to actively keep us informed of developments and to take on board our comments and concerns now have a single point of contact through RAYNET-UK, the new organisational name, rather than several different groups with differing priorities and points of view. Much of this work has involved myself, Kevan G1LOE, Chris G8LNT, Brian M0OZJ and John G1SQI in trips to Wells, Taunton and Cornwall on several occasions to make and hear presentations, many of which have been hosted by CCU’s and the Regional Resilience Teams. This work is on-going and monthly future sessions are planned.

Amongst our events this last year were the usual Lions Walk, Carriage drives, walks and Goose Fair, and the annual Exercise ICE.  In addition members from West Devon RAYNET have attended various events in North Devon, Somerset and Cornwall to assist at other RAYNET duties. This did however mean a very intensive time during the latter 3 months of the year. Once again I would like to add a very special a deeply appreciated thank you to all the xyl’s and families who were so understanding at this time.

I would like to pay particular thanks to Kevan G1LOE who has continued to take on the role of Deputy Controller, Roger 2E0RPH as Training Coordinator, Brian M0OZJ as Membership Officer and John G1SQI as treasurer and liaison with the local LRF forum. They have all done an excellent job and I and the group could not manage without their dedication and assistance.

Once again I have been active with SWRA, the body to represent all RAYNET groups throughout the SW and for my sins have been re-appointed as Data Co-ordinator for the Zone.

Once again cash flow has been extremely tight this year. Many events have been either postponed or reduced in size, however I am pleased to say that due to your incredible efforts we have continued to make a small but significant operating surplus this year, thank you.

What of the future? 

This year’s National AGM is being held in Bristol and I shall be attending with I hope as many of you that can spare the time.

The RAYNET South West AGM is also being held at the end of October and I and Kevan G1LOE will be attending, where a course is being run to introduce RAYNET to the updated JESIP protocols.

As part of my role as Group Controller and RAYNET SW Data Coordinator, you may be aware that I have written the training program for the data systems we now use across the SW. This training package is now being adopted by all groups/zones across the UK as the basis of a new standard training package and format.

As a result of discussions held earlier this year with Kevan G1LOE and Tristan 2E0TZR, we have been investigating the use of Digital Modes for RAYNET working. The local Fusion and D-Star repeaters have prompted an interest in the local area, although there is still much to do and to get to grips with. One problem with Digital modes is that there is no single standard in use (C4FM Fusion, D-Star, DMR, pDMR, P25 etc.) and each mode is not compatible with any other, so short of having to use lots of different radios for different events and general amateur use, we have been looking at the best compromise. Another significant barrier to using Digital modes is the sheer cost of the equipment. Dedicated amateur equipment cost in excess of £350 for a handheld and now over £500 for a mobile. Our results have been to use the Retevis & TYT, RT3/MD380/MD390 series of handhelds on DMR (the Motorola commercial system) and so far trials have been very promising, so much so that many group members have taken the decision to invest in their own sets. (These have the advantage of a cost of ~£75 - £80 each) I have also purchased a Hytera MD785 mobile set for use on the ISU which again has proved invaluable with the extra power and higher gain antenna. Although DMR use is primarily limited to UHF in the UK, some dual band set are becoming available. Although again at a significant cost – (sub £200 which is still ~1/2 to 1/3 of D-Star & Fusion sets.) I have recently sourced a new Dual Band set for £75 (yes £75 new) and am awaiting delivery. Reviews seem promising.

We as a group have continued to work with our neighbours Cornwall RAYNET, on several events and I would like to express my deep appreciation to them for all their help and assistance.

I would also like to extend my special appreciation and thanks to your long suffering and very supportive partners and families, whose support have allowed the group to provide the service that it does often at comparatively short notice, and lastly but by no means least to you, the committee and members of West Devon RAYNET. Your hard work, support and sheer professionalism have now been recognised not just locally, but regionally and nationally as a standard in excellence, performance and commitment. Thank you.

Ian Harley - G6BJJ, Controller.