CRG Amateur Radio Demonstration Vehicle

So back in October 2009 the Cambridgeshire Repeater Group (CRG) were approached by Martyn M1MAJ, who works at the Cambridge University computer laboratory about a Fiat Ducato van they owned but hadn’t used in years (you can see a picture of *Flossie on the left of one of the outside the building pictures on the computer lab homepage).  The van had failed its MOT and as the computer laboratory hadn’t used it it a while decided they didn’t want it anymore.  Why would Martyn have approched the CRG I hear you ask, well the reason was the rear of then van was fitted out with a desk, cupboards and various power sockets for 12v, 48v and had an inverter for 240v (also an external 240v incomer), oh and it had a frickin pneumatic 60ft Clark mast sticking out the roof complete with compressor!

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*At this point I should explain we decided ‘the van’ was not an appropriate title and for what-ever reason or another we started calling it Flossie!

The CRG decided the cost of getting Flossie through its MOT and roadworthy was a very good investment for the group.  Also the Camb-Hams were starting to become very active and Flossie would be an ideal /P operating vehicle.  The CRG committee also agreed to spend some money to get Flossie geared up for amateur radio use.  When we got Flossie the power connections in the back were not designed to handle the current required for a 100w radio, never mind 2.  We also got magnetic signs made up for the outside of Flossie with the CRG and Camb-Hams logs and web addresses and the words ‘Amateur Radio Demonstration Vehicle’.  We have done a lot of other things such as improve the desk layout so the station 2 position had leg room under the desk, addition of a roof-rack and ladder on the rear door, adding 2 x 110 Ah batteries and fitting an APRS radio + bluetooth handsfree.

Operating / Inside


Inside Flossie at the 2014 RSGB National Hamfest were the Camb-Hams operated the special event station GB14NH.

Operating in Flossie is great.  We use it on all our RSGB UKAC activations and can arrive onsite at 19:15 for a comfortable 20:00 start.  This entails unpacking Flossie of the boxes (which have all the various cables, wire antennas, coax runs or brackets we may need), assembling the antenna for whatever band the UKAC is for, un-rolling the runs of Ecoflex-15, mounting the antennas onto the top of the Clark mast and pumping the mast up.  Only then we can setup the radios and PCs for logging, the reason for this is there is a hatch in the roof to get access to the top of the Clark mast, it’s 13.7 feet off the ground when retracted, and the ladder sits in front of operating position 1, we use position 1 as it’s next to the mast, the mast is on a bearing allows the mast to be rotated arm-strong style meaning the operator can really adjust the beam heading for best signal for the remote station or flip the direction 180degrees in about 2 seconds.  We can rotate the mast from a motor if there is a large antenna on it such as our spiderbeam but we mainly use it arm-strong style. We can be packed up after a UKAC in about 20 minutes.

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Inside Flossie at the 2014 RSGB VHF National Field Day


In the first year of having Flossie it has been used more than 40 times, we have maybe missed a couple of UKAC contests since starting them in February 2010.  It was used in the RSGB VHF NFD, 144MHz Trophy, went with the Camb-Hams to Harris, was used by the RSGB at their 2010 AGM for talk-in and for their special event station GB0AGM.  It has been used by Cambridge and Medway RAYNET and Huntingdon ARS for a JOTA activation.  The pure simplicity of being able to drive it to an operating location, get antennas up to 60 feet effortlessly (using the installed Clark mast compressor) and operate from well designed, dry, comfortable operating position(s) make it ideal for getting more amateur radio activations happening.


Flossie in a lay-by operating in the RSGBs 144MHz UKAC on the south side of the Isle of Arran during the Camb-Hams 2011 dx’pediton. From here we worked 46 stations in 16 squares.

Flossie operating in the RSGBs VHF NFD from Worts Causeway.

Using Flossie

The CRG are happy to receive requests for using Flossie, we believe it is an excellent tool to help promote the hobby.  The request may be to promote amateur radio at a school, village fair or similar or just a request by a club to have a portable shack on a club BBQ or similar.  Any requests should be made to the CRG secretary secretary@cambridgerepeaters.net

Pictures and Video

For a bit of a tour of Flossie watch this video which was taken on Harris and shows Flossie on the inside (and Lawrence M0LCM getting his 1000th QSO of the DX’pedition) which was filmed on the 2010 Camb-Hams Harris DX-pedition.


Here is a video of when Gavin M1BXF, operating as G3PYE/P, worked the ISS the night before the RSGB 144MHz Trophy contest in September 2010.


Here are some photos of Flossie from various activations.