GB3WES - the Westmorland 5MHz beacon

GB3WES closed down on 11th March 2020. This page is retained for the time being for reference.

GB3WES, the Westmorland beacon, made its debut on 5290kHz at precisely 16:31Z on 30-October-2004. It is one of a chain of (originally) three propagation research beacons, the other being GB3RAL, Oxfordshire and GB3ORK, Orkney (see updates below).

Due to an unfortunate fire at the G3WGV QTH, GB3WES was QRT from 10:02Z on 28-Dec-04 to 14:46Z on 15-Jan-05. Apart from other short outages due to equipment or power failures, GB3WES has been continuously operating for over 15 years.

Various changes were made to the transmission format towards the end of March 2012. After a couple of iterations, a 30 second transmission was adopted on 28-March-2012, as described below.

Click for a bigger picture!   Click for a picture in which you can actually see the antenna!

The beacon hardware


The inverted V antenna (it is there, honest!)

GB3WES technical information (now QRT) (updated 02-Apr-2020)

  • Operated from the QTH of G3WGV, IO84QN
  • Ground elevation: 205m above sea level
  • Antenna height: 10m above ground level at apex
  • Antenna: Full size dipole in inverted V configuration, orientated approximately East/West
  • Power: 10W at full carrier
  • Transmit periods: 1, 16, 31 and 46 minutes past the hour for a period of 30 seconds. GB3RAL (now QRT) used to transmit one minute earlier and GB3ORK transmits one minute later, the idea being that the three (now two) beacons fire up one after the other, in south to north sequence GB3RAL, GB3WES, GB3ORK see updates below).

Format of the GB3WES transmission (as of 28-Mar-2012)

T+0 seconds - transmission starts
Callsign sent at approximately 16WPM, followed by a period of full power carrier

T+7 to T+15 seconds - Nine transmission intervals with a 6dB reduction in power for each step, giving 48dB overall power reduction at the final interval.  For each step a 100ms break in transmission is followed by 900ms of carrier at the appropriate level. 

T+16 to T+24 seconds - Repeat of the power step sequence described above.

T+25 to T+29 seconds - 5 seconds of continuous transmission at full power – this is the interval used by G3PLX’s beacon monitoring software.

T+30 seconds - transmission ends. 30 seconds of silence before GB3ORK commences transmission.


GB3WES has finally closed down with effect from midnight on 11th March 2020.

GB3WES is closing down. GB3WES will finally close on 11th March 2020 when its NoV expires. GB3WES has run continuously at my QTH, apart from occasional short periods off-air since 30th October 2004. In all that time I have been essentially unable to make QSOs on the band. I hope to be able to be active on 60m once the beacon has closed down.

Well 'WES is still running, 15 years after it was first commissioned. It has now been joined again by GB3ORK so we are like a pair of elderly radio hams CQing into the ether, hoping that someone is listening. I'm not entirely sure anyone is any more, now that the beacon monitoring programme has been disbanded. It requires little maintenance (mainly antenna work) and consumes little in the way of space or power, so it might as well keep on with its plaintive calls every 15 minutes for a bit longer!

'WES seems to be the last man standing! GB3RAL ceased transmitting several years ago and now I discover that GB3ORK has been off for some time as well. I have indicated that I will keep GB3WES going as long as it is required but as a single beacon its value and therefore future operation must be in question.

Other information

If you need to know more about GB3WES please contact me via johnl [at]

Copyright © 2004-2020, John R Linford, G3WGV
Updated 2020-04-02