What is it?
This is a narrow +-10 degree beam , modulated red LED beacon pointed towards Cambridge/Newmarked from Wyton, as below. This map also shows
where the beacon can be seen with the naked eye on a clear night.
The beacon runs 400mW dc input to ten 10mm pre-focussed LEDs wired in series. FSK AM modulation of the standing dc bias is applied using tones at
1 and 15 kHz, enabling both baseband and carrier (hetrodyne) receiver formats to be used. CW signaling of the FSK signal with the 1 kHz tone
representing the 'mark' state is used. Tone harmonics are all at least 40 dB down on the fundamental tone level. Three 'GB3CAM' words are sent followed
by 30 seconds of '5's (as near as I could get to a 50% FSK duty cycle). A recording of the 1 kHz tone, taken at Holywell (point 6 on map above) at a
distance of 5.25 km, can be heard here. As can be seen below, signals are 55 to 60 dB above noise.
The beacon is also audible at Nine Mile Hill (point 1 on the map), as below. This is a distance of 32 km.
Another good/convenient locatation is directly opposite the BT tower on the Longstanton to Over road (point 5 on map). There is a tarmaced field entrance with an excelent view of the beacon, and plenty of space to set up tripods etc. It is gated, but again there is no need to go beyond the gate. The distance from the beacon is 11.25 km.
For anyone wanting a real challenge, you can try searching for the beacon up on Fulbourn hill on the Worts' Causeway (from the field entrance opposite the local contest site). At this location, you are well off the beacon's main beam - plus you have all the light polution from Cambridge to contend with, since you will be aiming right over the centre of the town.
A tripod is really be 'a must', though after 5 minutes of hand-holding a typical 4" optics receiver, Joe M0ZRN and I could both hear the odd burst of tone - occasionally!. A very good direction marker to use is the multi-height lit broadcast mast to the West of the A1 at Morborne. The Wyton beacon is to be found a fraction of a degree to the left of the Morborne lights. At the time of writing, there is a very bright white, mains-hum modulated light just below and to one side the beacon, so Good luck!. This path provides a good test of your telescope's minor lobes due for example reflections off the inner wall of the telescope housing. I need to take the A4 size frenel lens receiver up to this site at some point, and make a recording of what it can here.
A +-10 degree circular beam pattern is currently being radiated, with a 2 degree elevation bias. This means that there many be some illumination of
lower cloud layers, with the posibility of some propagation via cloud scatter, which would be an interesting mode to try.
[I now accept that this was an extremely optimistic comment, and not one that has any realistic chance of success!]
For anyone interested in the beacon drive circuitry, the circuit can be found here.
REPORTS OF BEACON RECEPTION GRATEFULLY RECEIVED!