29 Dec 2010

Disappearing CDroms under win7

I installed Win7 reluctantly back in September 2010 having been a solid Linux user for some 4 years – I mainly wanted to be able to check out and use some of the leading Amateur radio software packages – My first impressions were good and I soon got used to using it – all my scanners/printers/drives/and accessories ran fine (In the end), after some minor problems, but nothing that some googling  could’nt resolve.

Today I needed to install drivers and software for a new Laser printer so having placed the disk into the cd tray and closed it waited for the install to begin  -  NOTHING happened and  checking under My Computer discovered that the cdrom icon had gone! (So how am I to install software)? I powered down and re-booted but still nothing – I checked again in the Bios and it appeared , along with an external drive I had connected but win7 was not seeing it, nor was it displaying icons for either player.

I ran some disk utilities and a couple of disk scans to see if I could locate any problems and sure enough after some four hours found a problem with a registery entry, either it was broken - or worse, a virus!

This was certainly not the sort of problem I’d encountered with any win installation as  cdroms are normally one of the first things to load up under “Win”, I recall early Linux systems had major cdrom issues but they had long vanished.

A re-install from the win7 disk at least proved it fired up ok, but did not help my cause –  discovered that one “Fix” that appeared on more than one forum was to go into the “Registry Editor” and find an entry for the cdrom section – It’s a bit involved so have included the link here it seems that certain software adds 3rd party cdrom filters on your system and places an entry in the registery as was the case on this system, and disables access to any cdroms on your system be they built in or external USB – it’s probably nothing new but I’d not experienced this before – Having made the necessary deletion in my case (lower filter) re-booted and all the connected drives appeared like magic, imagine my relief as in the months gone have accumulated a whole bunch of files and information I really do need  right now – I had visions of re-formatting and installing Linux again !

I hope I’ve seen the last of that problem ! 

22 Dec 2010

Cumbrian Earthquake

Seems an Earthquake of magnitude 3.5 hit Cumbria at 11pm last night – the epicentre was 30 miles soutwest of Carlisle appx 75 miles west-southwest from Newcastle – the location of the tremor was given as Coniston Cumbria about 5 miles southwest of Ambleside, apparently it’s depth was given as 8.9 miles.

This is a seismically active region of the UK and therefore not uncommon for these events to occur, the largest ever recorded was 4.3 in November 2002 with a magnitude 4.3. The shock would certainly  have  been felt but would not have led to extensive damage.

I remember when I was at school back in

1962/4 we had an earthquake and the whole building shook momentarily with a deep rumble (Our geography teacher hid in the cupboard and would NEVER live it down! 

Other “Quakes” were recorded in Kent during 2002 measuring 4.3


Map picture

20 Dec 2010

Back on the Airwaves

Well, I decided to go for it today although I have loads to get on with in the build up to Christmas, but it is going to be a quiet one this year which will actually make a change, most of the activity here is going to be over the New Year period – bit of a turnaround really.So, fired up Wspr on 30m (at least I could get some chores done)…  noticed absolutely no propagation to the west at all until around 9:45+/-  when I started seeing the USA coming up, prior to that it was mostly EU, curiously no VK or ZL’s – anyway the best DX today seems to be Doug W3HH in Ocala Fl  AT 6958km distance, he reported my 5w,  as did Craig KC2LFI in Bedford NY at 5482 Km’s

Douglas W3HH (From QRZ.com)

When I fired up there were not many stations on 30m and I was just about to switch to 40m but suddenly it all kicked off so decided to stay put – I have had it running most of the day, but will close mid afternoon – band conditions do not seem that good, but we’ll be taking a further peak at the bands throughout the holiday period especially CW and Jt65,  I was getting bored with Psk as everyone uses the same macros set-up
*My name is
*My Qth is
*My Loc is
*My Rig is   etc  etc etc !    zzzzzzzzzz !
I try to spice it up a bit –  let it flow!
Anyway – looking forward to  a fresh challenge – I will also consider taking part in this years PACC  cw  contest in Feb, I took part some years back and found it a quite relaxed affair, and the ops are friendly enough – so might give it a go as this end fed tunes 80 ok.

29 Nov 2010

Win or Lin in the Shack?

Well now, here's an argument that’s been running for a while and Originally I used Win, however over the last 3/4 years have been firmly in favour of Lin,  but although  Linux as an everyday O/S is great (Ubuntu  or  SuSe)  there simply is no where near the  amount of “decent” software around:

K3NG comments

Having read this – spot on! 

24 Nov 2010


This morning I was up reasonably early and came into the shack with my  cup of Rosie Lee  (Tea) !  and switched on the FT817 which I usually leave on the Air Band but I had left it set on 70cms, I remember when I last used it I was amazed to find activity on this band for probably the first time when I set up the comet dual bander  -  it always amazed me that such a vast bandwidth hardly ever got used, well this morning once again there were a few mobiles using it GB3BR 433.150  in Brighton about 50 miles along the coast from me I was actually surprised it was so strong here, GB3HY Haywards Heath in Sussex also popped up on 433.125 with several /M’s  on -  a further scan revealed GB3IW on the Isle of Wight too – so it does get used after all !  leaving it on 433.150 the squelch  dropped and I was hearing the Central London repeater GB3LW complete with “Goon Show” or squeakers I think they were called in the 80’s – why do people spend good money on equipment to behave like idiots? (I suspect this is a British mentality thing – bit like the Friday night drink problem) ??? anyway, I guess there is some sort of lift on probably due to the cold foggy conditions this morning – I cannot recall hearing much beyond 10-15 miles on this band before but today we have up to 60/70 miles might be worth checking 2m for some cw activity.

21 Nov 2010

Time to Post

Just felt it was “Time to Post”, having been in the doldrums for the last two or three weeks and felt the need to re-activate the blog in case anyone thought it was a duffer – no radio work going on  Yet!  and although I will be very busy in the coming weeks sorting out some personal business  I really need to press on and get back on-air, hopefully I might sneak some evening sessions in, trying to get some normality back here – hoping to catch up soon !


10 Nov 2010

Black Week

It has been a difficult and somewhat traumatic period for me of late – hence the “Lack of post’s on here”, ALL RADIO and related Activities/projects have been put on hold – at least for the foreseeable future due to a very close family bereavement – just as my digital interests were taking off as well !

I still check out most of the posts, but have been unable to spend  too much time on here – to be really honest my interests are elsewhere at this difficult time – I will continue to monitor other’s post’s and will return as soon as !

Hoping to catch up soon  - 


Love and Peace



31 Oct 2010





         Have a Good One

27 Oct 2010

Domestic Bliss ?

Not quite – the freezer went up in a plume of smoke – the electrical curse strikes for a third time – this time it’s the quick freeze switch which has snuffed it – its built into the top front panel just inside the door and it arced across and burned the rubber seal inside the door – the switch is totalled !Devil

Of course it’s out of guarantee as it’s 12 yrs old, but to be fair it has lasted pretty well, it’s (German)  though not actually known for being the best with electrics, we have in the past owned two well known German cars, (both) suffered with mysterious electrical faults which not even computerised fault finding equipment could solve – we swapped for Fords. Smile

I would have taken a photo of the blackened mess but I was so disgusted with it I  took it straight for re-cycling .


Happy Days

Back to some CW !

I have in recent months spent a lot of time “Fiddling” with, and looking at software of different sorts be it Ham Radio related or otherwise, plus the change over to windows 7 and feeling my way around that, which incidentally “appears” to be quite stable (might regret saying that).. anyway I realised that I’d been looking at this screen for many a day but had not been logging many calls (after all that IS what it’s all about) so spent a good deal of time yesterday chasing around the bands working a few using various modes throughout the day and most notably worked some CW, which has – and probably will always be my favourite mode.

Some of the stations worked:

Call Name Band Mode
All within easy reach using 15w on all modes and nearly all x2 way 5NN’s ! Who the hell needs QRO anyway?  QRP or reduced power levels are more challenging and fun – BTW all qso’s were using the end fed !

23 Oct 2010

More DX


First call in the morning yields more Dx in YV6BFE Jose Luis Castillo, Anzoategui Venezuela – once again on the end fed – it seems fairly consistent and I’m certainly seeing plenty of activity – cond’x seemed pretty good today on 20m.

I must check again later on the CW end.

Also busy here setting up new cellphone as my trusty Samsung has been letting me down lately, it has not been receiving text’s from my xyl of all people ((I know ;-))   )  cannot be such a bad thing I hear you say…

No ! it’s been playing up so have moved over to one of these touchscreen phones – more on that later  - 

20 Oct 2010


Have been having a look at this “QRSS” – its not for me, but did manage to capture this image – and appears to be the only station I’m hearing on 20m  - it’s the best I could manage !!

argonkx00005 It appears to show a trace of the OH2B  beacon – Here  -  I  was expecting to see  a screen showing more activity, there were one or two other beacons on but were very weak indeed, even increasing the size of the image would not reveal a callsign, however I will check occasionally to see if I can capture any of our fellow bloggers.

19 Oct 2010

In the shack

When I should be getting on doing something useful !

I saw on the DX cluster there was a 10m opening so had a few cw contacts up there – I’ve not been on the key much lately and was hankering for a cw fix  - I really enjoyed it, as you have not got the bother of constantly having to check audio  input /Tx/ALC levels, which can get tiresome with these Digimodes.

Yesterday I was monitoring JT65 again and was surprised to see so much activity, and I did seem to be hearing a good deal of it too.

Screenshot_001 Oct. 19 12.15 The end fed is working well on 20m, I only use up to 15w max and its enough to work some decent dx – at the moment it has the edge over the dipole I’d say – it’s less efficient on 80 but it works :

I was also pleased to Qso with Francesco, YV4GJN using this  fascinating mode, he’s down in Valencia, Edo. Carabobo, Venezuela – also KT1B James, in Haverhill MA  -  all good stuff.

yv4gjn Francesco YV4GJN   -  from QRZ.com

12 Oct 2010

Time Sync

I have still not seriously used Jt65 much as I had been having issues with “Time” synchronisation – I had installed and run D4 (Sometimes it seemed to work – sometimes not) although it was telling me updating had occurred.

To be honest I had not really delved into it too much  and as a consequence it just got left – I had assumed it WAS ok as I had been using Wspr last week without any hitch.

This morning I decided to take another look at Jt65 Hf, primarily just to check out activity and band conditions as the CW end of the band seemed very quiet, and once the sequence had started I noticed the timing was way way out – some 9s in fact – D4 popped up a window telling me it needed to update by that amount, surely this cannot be right ?

Anyhow the upshot was that Win7 by default has it’s own internet time sync built in, and running D4 was causing a conflict (at least one would assume so) ?!

De-activating D4 and powering up Jt65Hf again seems to have worked – its down to me I guess as I just did’nt take the time out to investigate fully – simple solutions??



10 Oct 2010

Palm Sync

Back in 2005 I got a Palm Tungsten 5 which included desktop palm, and file transfer software which ran under XP, during the early days of using it I had stored a number of important “Events” which I needed to keep, that I did manage even after my transfer over to Linux later that year, and having tried unsuccessfully using several Linux distro’s to sync my calendar,  Ubuntu came to the rescue and that was the final stopping point – Ubuntu 7.10 and on to version 10.04.

Last month I changed back to “Win”  (7)  …  and had got most of the peripherals working ok, but not my Palm T5, I installed the software I had with the T5 but it would not complete the install telling me it did NOT recognise the O/S,  here we go again !  googling threw up a few options – there was an update of the software I had on CD – so I installed it but the program would not show any options to enable a set-up, just blank – so promptly uninstalled.


I needed a program that would import and show my calendar/To Do’s/Tasks etc…  plus perform a Hot-Sync – I found a Program called EssentialPim of which there are two versions – a  Free-bee, with limited functions,  and a full blown PIM which would offer HotSync,  ability to send all items to e-mail, configure various mail accounts, and most important for me was the ability to talk to my palm and transfer information.

I also found a newer version of Palm HotSync written for vista/win7 – I installed it and although  the desktop part of it does not load,   after a re-boot discovered that the HotSync part of it does load at start-up – so having hooked up the T5 via my new Desktop USB Port, pressed the “HotSync” button and wow !  updated all the T5/Desktop info I had put in last week  -  I was beginning to despair as the info (Dates) were  important to me and I really did need to retain them – at the very least I would have wanted to somehow extract the .ics file to display in any decent Cal software – these dates are a source of reference for me – they are History ! By the way I tried a Bluetooth transfer but it was having none of it either.

Apparently this cannot be done using the “Free” version,  so I purchased the Full Works – It’s very easy to use and as powerful as any PIM I’ve used on Linux.

Screenshot_001 Oct. 10 21.53

Epim today gives a weekly summary of events (In colour) and the calendar is as any other, with repeat/recurrent events set as you want – To Do lists – Notes which can display Hyperlinks and Photographs and can be imported and forwarded as e-mail. A full and detailed contacts list – Mail – I have two accounts set up – and most things can be configured as you want  -  I like the  ability to click on links in the notes section and it opens up your current browser (NOT MS Explorer) Sensible – Note – Taker does the same job  -   and all your info can be kept under one roof  -  I suppose it’s a bit like outlook (ish)  but nowhere near the ridiculous price,  I’ve had it running on my desktop ALL weekend and I’m trying to make it the “Hub” of my activities and note taking I can also use it to make draft post’s, or even run a Log if I have to – the notes also has a “Tree” to the left under which to organise your note-taking – print-outs are clear as well, great for daily/weekly schedules, I love it, so looking for a Personal Information Manager? Try EssentialPim (Especially if you have a Palm T5) which I thought might be rendered useless, thanks to Palm also for updating their HotSync software I can continue using my handheld.

Electrical Gremlins Strike Again

Well – after last nights  “Microwave” incident we were struck again this morning  by the “Gremlins”, whilst we we’re just sitting discussing the weeks upcoming work schedule over a coffee  “Bang”, (what was that?)  smoke emanating from the Dishwasher, I pulled the power and checked the RCB, and that circuit had tripped, it’s a different circuit to the one the Microwave was on – our kitchen has two ring mains (we incorporated an old circuit when we moved here).
Upon removal I could see that the back of the unit was heavily corroded and had inDSC00624 fact been leaking, made visible by the calcium build-up at the back and the bituminous material that had lifted, looked like a seam had started leaking !  – sure enough water had seeped into the main connector at the rear of the machine, hence the sparks – so another domestic appliance hits the dust in two days – now just waiting for something else to “POP”, these things seem to go in three’s.

DSC00627 Above – Wet connector block – bit of a mess !

9 Oct 2010

Microwave smoker

Whilst sitting watching early evening Tv on saturday the power suddenly went off, I immediately thought (Power Cut) I grabbed my torch and went straight to the consumer box and noticed the RCCB had tripped (Appliance fault),  but where ?

I flicked it back on by which time the XYL had returned to the kitchen to be greeted by a loud “Pop” followed by that familiar pungent  electrical smell, checked kettle/Hob/Freezer/Fridge/Lights/Oven/microwave --- cor whats that smell, open door and smoke !  It’s the Microwave:

Now – the unit was not running, but still plugged into the power socket, AND, SHE  (Bless her), had left some cooked beetroots in the oven which had caused quite a bit of condesation, and my theory is that it had found its way into the magnetron/condenser compartment (High Voltage Capacitor) where it reacted with the ever present voltage and caused it to arc (It might not have been that at all – but just a fault) BUT it’s not something to mess with – It’s being replaced tomorrow (Sunday). I would be interested to hear if anyone else might have their own “Microwave” experiences or theories to share…!  -  boy it does smell… orrible  !


Screenshot_001 Oct. 09 19.34

8 Oct 2010

Win7-Scanner Problem

I encountered my first problem with Win7 last night – not insurmountable, and certainly not terminal but annoying all the same.

I needed to get my Epson 3409 scanner working (I had used Xsane) under linux and although at the time I thought it was a bit basic I now realise just how good it was.

I loaded the complete suite of programs for the epson, (just in case) and I could remove unwanted stuff later – the install went ok (by the way I had this software running fine on the laptop with XP)  -  After installation I re-booted and powered up the scanner and software only to get a warning telling me ti O/S could not connect to the scanner – I tried various settings and it would still not work – BUT it did work from within “Paint”,  how wierd ?

I decided to have a quick look on the Epson UK website, and I couldn't believe the software had actually been re-written for Vista and win7  so with an 85mb or so,  download I quickly re-installed (I hope its re-installed completely)  now it works as it should and I have complete control of all the scanning direct off the desktop – so, don't forget to check out manufacturers websites for updated drivers and software, Thank you Epson – I was beginning to think it may have been a non-starter – it’s not happened too often in the past and I usually end up  having to bin good equipment because the software was out dated or similar.

Now we’re up and running – Good Job !


Screenshot_002 Oct. 08 08.50

6 Oct 2010

Hello Paul . . . !

Left my set up on 40m, and I just popped in to see what was cooking and noticed Paul PC4T was reporting me on Wspr, though have not spotted PC4T as yet – interesting, I I guess we’re not actually THAT far apart,  out of interest my antenna runs broadside at about 135/315 degrees


Screenshot_006 Oct. 06 12.14 Screenshot_005 Oct. 06 12.12

Whispering away !

Thought I’d get set up for some whispering, so went up on 40m – there were not too many stations on – but it strikes me perhaps  people tend to use it at weekends more during the winter months, anyway using the End Fed here’s what we have so far. These stations were coming up consistently  between –25 - -29dB late last night
Screenshot_002 Oct. 06 08.54
and again this morning plus an odd German station,  the skip is such that most close stations in EU are missed completely and no doubt the changing trend will be reflected as the day/skip changes, I was hoping more stations were on as we seem to be hearing the same stations but it’s interesting just seeing how the propagation changes, like last night on 20m – I was monitoring some psk activity and some US stations were reeling in here at a “Genuine” 599  at between around 21:00 local to, say 22:00 “ish” but within a half hour they had all but disappeared.
Screenshot_003 Oct. 06 08.57
Just had a look this morning and propagation just starting to change by the look of it – still seeing the US stations but spotted G6LUG in there in IO93 and DG4FBC JN49 – I’m going to leave it running and note any further changes during the day – I  keep promising to have a good CW session but it has’nt happened yet :-(  Hopefully I will also see a pattern emerge with regard to who is actually hearing me on this antenna – I am currently using 5w from an FT450.

Screenshot_004 Oct. 06 09.31

5 Oct 2010

End Fed Up !

The wx was kind to me yesterday after the weekend’s deluge and manged to get outside for some antenna rigging – my pulley system let me down, the loop (which proved too long) must have jammed over the top of the pole and required some ladder work to free it – that done we were clear to erect.

My intention was to have both dipole AND end fed together however this proved awkward and so just replaced the dipole.

First impressions are positive, starting from 80m –> up managed to find tuning points for all the bands except 12 and 10m which seemed rather flat, however I will return to those later – 40m did not tune as well as I’d hoped but with careful tuning had very good matching on 80/30/20/17/15 meter bands, 40m IS  around 1.2:1 – all this with the manual tuner – the auto atu  built into the rig would not tune on 40 either but I’m basically happy having gained three bands .

I scanned across all bands and there was plenty of activity, not sure if it was just conditions yesterday afternoon but noticed quite a few US stations  plus a couple of JA’s and VE’s – still early days yet and I would like to perform some more test’s here before I’m really sure.

This morning I took a quick look on 40m and the noise level had dropped off from last night (80m was the same)  and did notice close EU stations were up in strength,  but that‘s possibly due to my re-orientating the antennas position.

1 Oct 2010

End Fed

I have been mulling for a while over purchasing a Par End Fed, but the cost put me off considering wSRCANThat's involved, so I set about building one – I sent off for some T200-2 torroids so I could play with  baluns, and also splashed out on the SRCX65 from Snowdonia Radio Company – I will be able to set these up and run comparisons once mine is finished, it certainly wont be over this weekend as the weather forecast is not looking too good, but I cannot wait as I (Hope) . . . I’ll have 80m available – I’m not expecting too much from these antennas but quite a few people are using them with decent results, (we’ll see) but if they work out I’ll leave one of them up – like everything else here, It’s an experiment – will post results when I get set up.

I’m not particularly a “DX” chaser but glad to work whatever I can, and last night I missed out on 7Z1CQ in Saudi on Psk, he popped up a couple of times but he disappeared into the ether !

30 Sep 2010

Revised Band PLan

Well:  It seems there is a revised Bandplan – I appeared to have accessed the old one.

Screenshot_003 Sep. 30 23.32

Apparently it now looks like this :

But Psk activity is still based around 7035?


Screenshot_004 Sep. 30 23.37

Back to Psk

Well after a lay-off from Psk I have now got HRD running , I have some of the basics set up which at least gets me going, now all that remains is to do some fine tuning and we should be ok – I have been monitoring mostly at the moment while I play around with some of the settings and get used to it but we have had a few contacts one of which was  SQ7BCB  Trela Aleksy in Kielce ko00hu, shown here.


ja.jpg Thanks !

29 Sep 2010

UK Bandplan

Witness one altercation on 40m earlier today in which two UK stations were busily conducting a Psk contact (inside the narrow band section of 40m)  – all was going well and as the qso was about to conclude someone jumped in and started making unsavoury comments, re their frequency, plus a few other things  – well I happened to be monitoring that frequency where a previous contact had already taken place – this guy chipped in going on about bandplans and such, no callsign was given to my knowledge, then started up on cw !! correct me if I’m wrong but does it not clearly state that 7.000-7.035 is for cw,  and 7.035-7,038 is for narrow band modes with a maximum bandwidth of 500khz ?  This contact was clearly inside the “right” portion of the band  - I though we had passed all this !

28 Sep 2010

HRD and Win7

I have only just got around to installing and setting up HRD / DM780 etc…  it’s been nearly a week since I installed Win7 and It is growing on me – one interesting thing I noticed when trying to configure my usb interface was when I inserted the disc to install the usb to serial drivers up popped a message saying there were “Newer” versions already installed, I promptly cancelled the installation, well what a surprise that was, then going on to configure the Radio was  very easy and connected first time !!  Well done MS,  HRD IS now running and I have DM780 working, had a Psk qso last night on 40m, the logbook installed fine and  packet cluster connection is very handy – so far I have no problems to report under W7, one niggle – on version 4 of HRD the soundcard window offered a slider to control input – v5 does not, so it looks like we’re good to go on Digimodes.Screenshot_01 Sep. 25 00.18

23 Sep 2010

Autumn Wx

Well – pretty wet out there today with few bright spells – looks like Autumn is just around the corner – so inside doing what I should’nt (Playing w7 and jt65).. I had  a quick look at jt65 hf this morning and although it’s running and displaying signals its failing to decode – I have double checked the set up and reduced or increased the

LEAVES the input but  it still wont decode – and this is under “Win”, I did not have this with the Linux version – BTW it is the new version 1.06 – I’ve been under win7’s hood and checked out the input/output devices and “apparently” it looks ok – so now I am not sure quite where to look – wonder if it would be worth uninstalling and going for the previous version, although everything's clean installed on a fresh system and dont want to start hacking around with it.

I know Paul and Bas are using it on w7/Vista – to be honest there's not a lot in the set-up,  anyway will have to take another look later (also just downloaded latest HRD which I believe has been optimised for w7 since January ) that will have to wait.


Screenshot_04 Sep. 23 00.04


I decided to download the latest release of JT65 as Paul (PA0PSY)  runs it on his w7 machine, I also decided to keep all the Ham software under one roof c:\Ham\jt65\etc…

Its getting on and 20m is closed apart from a couple of Psk’ers and quickly installing it and rattling through the set-up got it receiving signals ok, and I’ve found the system volume controls, so maybe some time over the weekend I “might” give it a go, I’ll certainly monitor 20m at some stage !

I need to look at HRD next – I do hope that runs ok – this evening I have mainly been  looking at replacing some of the software I had on my Linux system (Equivalents anyway), Office Suite, Screen Capture, setting up the printer, and installing a Mail client which works now with two of my mail accounts – and set-up was automatic, it literally took 3 mins !

22 Sep 2010

Solar Activity

It appears we’re getting some action out there – solar flares heading our way during the next 24Hrs as Sunspot 1109 comes into play.


Solar Activity2              Solar activity

Linux out - Win7 In

Yes - It's true, my Main desktop now features Win7 - I suppose I should'nt knock it too much as it's going to run ALL my Ham Radio applications from now on.
Installation took place last night, and I was assured that the copy I was given was the correct one and that it would take care of formatting and installation of my new system  (W R O N G ) ! ! !
When I 've done previous "Linux" installs it always takes care of deleting partitions and reformatting into whatever filesystem you choose to use, be it ext3  ext4  reiserfs... Windows apparently does not recognise any other file system other than ntfs, it halted with a note saying so, end of.
So windows, even now will only install on a machine which has previously had "Win" of some description on it.
So having run my utility disk (which incidentally runs courtesy of Linux) we got an ntfs file system - so it was all systems go - and the install only took 45 mins - plus downloading some updates at the end.
My very first impressions are that it's not quite as responsive as Linux - it has'nt quite got that "Zap" about it, but it looks good - and venturing inside I see a whole new layout, glad to see the win interface  has undergone a complete facelift - I've been tinkering, getting used to where everything is and I quite like it.
So far I have installed and customised Firefox - luckily all the add-ons were available, and had fun and games trying to install Flash Player, which for some reason was leading me a merry dance in a loop, but we got there in the end.
At the moment I am still finding out about it, and have not even transferred my files yet - I need to get some of my peripheral gear running first then I'll take a look at installing some of the VAST array of software I now have available  (This was the main reason for making the decision to swap to Win, Like Julian (G4ILO), It was the lack of software on the Linux platform which prompted my final decision) having said that there ARE some very good programs available CQRLOG being one of them and Gpredict, but Wspr Wsjt  even Fldigi had issues, and I still spent more  time trying to get things running or looking for workarounds, when that time could have been spent doing something constructive  -  Linux|Ham Radio  ?  not quite there yet - Linux|For every day use ? Definitely.

Watch this space

16 Sep 2010

Geolocation - scary !

Following Julians (G4ILO)  rather "Spooky" revelation on Geolocation in Firefox, I found this
Link  it gave me the same reading as when I connected to Julians set up page,  (Apologies if it's the same page)  I have to admit I was aware of this  but I thought It was done using your IP address which usually gets you pretty "close", Usually the location of your ISP main switching network.
You can if you wish of course "Disable" it if your that bothered by using  about:config in Firefox
details of which are right here Thanks to Julian for bringing it to our attention - I still find it spooky that this is embedded within your browser - this might help explain somewhat the reasons for certain advertising banners that follow me around - also when "Googling" for example B&Q,  or  Staples Office  Equipment it always pops up the store nearest to me.

Powered by ScribeFire.

13 Sep 2010


I have been meaning to look at this for a while and since Wsjt was not going to work on Win XP never really got the chance, but since the re-hash of the computers here having loaded xubuntu on my laptop, I have had a switch around and loaded JT65-HF on my desktop running Ubuntu - the program installs under virtual drive C:\ and runs under wine -  as these are early days I'm NOT going to go head first into it as there seems a steep learning curve.
Looking at it, the interface seems complicated and it's not quite what I've been used to so will take it slowly so we're happy with whats going on - I have "Quickly" run over the set-up parameters and have been monitoring JT activity so I can see whats happening, and it looks interesting, it's different to Wspr in that a physical "exchange" of reports is given albeit a brief one but thats all we need, I'm not keen to TX with it yet until I've made more sense of it - It has been running this morning from early on and have several stations decoded in the window one of which was  a JA !  interesting... as I said, early doors yet !

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12 Sep 2010


With "Win XP" finally giving it up last week I had first made absolutely sure my "current" HRD log had been exported to ADIF and I stored it as usual on my Memory stick  (dedicated to ALL my Amateur Radio applications/documents/PDF etc..) in fact I stored it twice under different names just in case, also - (I thought) on one my other external drives.
My laptop is now currently running xubuntu (surprisingly well) considering it's age and lack of mem/disk space but for smallish applications and surfing blogs etc.. it's fine and I have to say I've been very pleased to get it running - I had started to load some ham software on it which all seemed fine, then I turned my attentions to logging, I installed Cqrlog, which I also have running on my desktop - but I had not updated it, it only had entries until march 2010, so when I came to copy the updated log on the mem stick  found that the system would not recognise the memory stick - nada/nowt. tried in another machine, still nothing, tried in my own desktop - dead ! so the darn thing died on me, it's the one I had all my "Ham" documents and info on.
Now my updated log file was lost it meant finding the "Other" one, which of course I did'nt copy after all, which left me with the one on my desktop  on which the last entry was during March this year,  Bah!  so I was short from March - August effectively - I logged on to EQSL and downloaded my archive in adif format, picked off most of the entries I "thought" were missing and added them to the log then immediately backed it up under two names - Most of the Psk contacts are ok as luckily they ALL went via eqsl, however most of my 6m contacts are lost, but to be honest - there were'nt that many.
How to make things unnecessarily complicated!


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11 Sep 2010

Linux Revisited

Well it did'nt take too long for me to become discontent with my new "Mepis" Linux installation - over this last year I had forgotten what it was like  trying out different Linux distro's as I had been quite happy with the Ubuntu system on my desktop, and had been doing more in the way of "Radio Operating",  be it CW or Digi, but the recent demise of XP on the olde laptop opened the oportunity to experimment once more - And this is really why I got the laptop in the first place, now I'm not programmer, and certainly no "guru" but I do enjoy looking at, setting up and experimenting  with Linux.
On this occasion the quest was to "try" and get a reasonably robust/modern system running on this old laptop, but I particularly wanted to get it running with my Pcmia network card as I did not want wires everywhere, plus I could run it in the lounge, as I'd already stated earlier I first tried  the latest "Puppy" distro as it's very fast and a dream to use for normal applications (More work though setting up Ham app's), but came unstuck as although it would recognise the card the modules would not load - I also tried an older version but the result was the same - "Mepis" vers 6.5 did work, AND it runs a full KDE desktop, and considering the age of the machine I was surprised at the speed at which it ran (Much quicker that XP)...  BUT for some reason on more than one occasion whilst trying to add comments to a blog Firefox "Bombed Out", it was using ver 2.00.2 and i  could not update it, also a couple of other wierd things occurred - like some windows becoming unstable, or not responding  - ending in me having to terminate, so I decided to take another look around - here's the list I tried
Sidux - Suse - Ubuntu 9.04 (Surprisingly Loaded and detected network card)  ran v e r y  s l o w l y . . . . .! Mint Linux (encouragingly ran from the live disk - but on installation halted half way through re-partitioning,  Bah!) Fedora - and  Now the HDD was messed up with grub still installed!  Now I had to do some disk swapping with some utils to clean up and re-format the drive ( you may be thinking by now I must be completely barking),  but having done that I decided to download Xubuntu on the other M/c and burn it to disk, this time it ran live ok, and the important part for me was the network card worked fine, just by using the utils supplied - Great!
Thankfully  it installed ok, and the desktop used is xfce, I have used earlier versions  and I am surprised at the choice of configurations available for changing the look of it, it's very smooth, Firefox is stable , and I have got Gpredict running (Satellite Tracking), next up - Probably Cqrlog - quality ham software IS still rather thin for Linux but I'll certainly be looking at Fldigi, plus trying a few other things, so far it's holding up and I 've been running it for about three hours having added some key Firefox addons (blog tools, and screen grabbers)... tomorrow I'll investigate the rest of the system -  network still up excellent !

9 Sep 2010

Disaster Strikes

Win XP is no more - Having backed up all the necessary files I needed (mainly my log-file)  of which I keep back up copies in two drives I decided to re-load Win XP, so continued to delete the old partition and re-format etc... then re-install but it kept going into some sort of loop, after copying the main files it would stop, then start over, this happened four times over a one and a half hour period, and would not continue to the next stage of installation, I downloaded some disk utilities to check the system out and all seemed fine, having wasted a whole 4 hours last night I continued again this morning  and have concluded the XP disk is corrupt - which makes this the second time this has happened as my old Win98 disk went the same way some years back, and always at a crucial moment - so now I was (Frankly - well stuffed).
So with XP effectively (Knackered) it HAD to be a linux system of some sort - bearing in mind this IS an old machine it needed to be a small linux distro, due to memory and disk limitations, so Puppy was the first choice, AND I needed the Pcmia network card working.
I first ran it from the live cd and it blitzed through at some speed, I could not beleive it was the same machine that idled under xp, and tried to use the various modules included to get the network card running but it was having none of it, although I did see the card fire up, it was not connecting and after an hour of this decided it too was a none starter - at this stage I was beginning to think this machine was now too old to put a reasonably modern O/S on, as most of the bigger up-to-date O/s's are somewhat bloated now (bit like win), and this machine really struggles big time even to load the necessary files into ram (265Mb) - then I remembered having got an old version of "Mepis" running a wireless connection some years ago, and after some rummaging found "Mepis Linux ver. 6.5", although I have to say at this point I was dubious about it loading as this distribution runs a full KDE desktop (Not the quickest).
Having selected a full clean install, stopping momentarily to select things like Keyboard layout/Language, and time-zones it chugged along surprisingly fast, finally setting passwords etc...  then into re-boot from the hard disk.
First thing I needed to set up would be the network card (I had remembered the settings).. boot time - somewhere around 23 seconds into a full KDE desktop and best of all it detected the pcmia network card instantly.
This will probably be the last O/S installation on this machine - I reckon it will last for another year or so - have just done a disk check and Linux has turned up several bad sectors I suspect HDD failure at some stage - but for now, anyway it is running - and it's much snappier than XP - problem now is- getting logging software up and running, and digimodes ?!?!
I still think I need to get back to win for that as there soooo much more choice

6 Sep 2010

To win or not to Win

That is my question - I run Linux as my main desktop - it caters for my every need, office apps, synchronising my palm-handy, I use it for listening to my music collection, updating blogs, and playing with web stuff and  my Browsers are tuned as I want them, passwords are all stored etc... and I have most of the files I want backed up on an external drive. On my old laptop I have XP which has now started displaying errors, and it's decided not to run Wsjt, Jt65HF (wont even install) , plus a few others, although the old version of HRD runs slow it its useable. I have run some utils on it but it's looking like a clean re-install might be on the cards as  the registery might be corrupt,  I am thinking along the lines of going back over to "Win" on the main PC :-(  and treating the old laptop to some turbocharging in the form of "Puppy Linux", and just use it netbook style. I have used Puppy before and "It's fast", even an old PIII  feels like a new machine. There is another alternative, more costly but I'd be able to retain my beloved Linux system, (Which btw is regularly updated), and it would mean I could keep the "Ham Radio" side of it completely separate, and that is to install a new machine (Just for Radio),  one other possibility - install a second hard drive just for doze? Comments?
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31 Aug 2010


Silly fool me - In my previous posting I inadvertently picked off the wrong screenshots depicting satellite passes which should have been for today (Tue), and not (Wednesday) - I discovered also  whilst comparing the results from another source that the times were and hour out - I had the time selection wrong in the set-up :-(  easily done I guess, I knew the computer time setting was correct as I have Dimension 4 installed from "Thinking Mans Software" v 5.0.35 - my aging Compaq Evo used to struggle a bit with timing but since I have been using this software the past 9 months or so it has kept perfect time , it's available here , so if like me you have an "older" machine it's worth installing, ther are other programs around but this is the one I was recommended.

Double Hit tonight

Double pass tonight ?

30 Aug 2010


I was hoping for a repeat of last nights ISS Pass but the projection for tonight is not good - a little too early in the evening, and the pass is only around 22 degrees EL - so may be I will find something else to focus on - Also the forecast is for a quite chilly 9c, but I will have a glass of something handy, and of course the fire will keep off the chill.

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Under the Stars

What better way of ending a day than sitting outside on the patio warming your feet by the chimanea in the  (now) damp chill evening - with charged glass of (something) !?  well thats what I did last night, I had spent the day pointing slabs, and thought what a nice change to sit outside for the evening.
It had been a sunny day, but the evenings are getting quite damp - the night was still, and stars shining bright and thoughts turned to Amateur Radio, next time I thought - maybe I'll rig up the FT817 and sit out here for an hour or so making CW, and I could rig up one of my Portable Dipoles on the roach pole, good idea - as I looked up I realised I was not alone, ISS streaking directly above and setting to the east, what a fantastic sight against the dark background, and a distinct shape when viewed through binocs (although keeping them steady is something else) Those dark winter months will soon be upon us.

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29 Aug 2010


Checked in this morning only to see Paul PA0PSY had closed his Blog which a shame as I always looked to see what contacts he had made, and his exploits with digimodes - I am sure his friendly attitude, and the manner in which he conducted himself will be missed - I will look out for him on the bands - so Paul if you read this, take care  and enjoy the hobby, one day I'm sure we'll cross paths.

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25 Aug 2010

GP1 Antenna

Whilst on Antennas, yesterday I removed my 6m beam as activity (appears) to have tailed off ?... and frankly have become somewhat disillusioned with 6m so I resurrected my 16year old Comet GP1, which I'd used at my previous qth where we were reasonably high and had good take-off at VHF to the north east, this proved to be excellent whilst I was using "Packet" all those years ago, (Is the UK Packet network still alive)...  I remember the rush to buy a TNC in those days and later set up NOS and also used tcpip directly from Linux.
Back to the GP1  -  Since moving I had only used it for a short period until the 2m radio died, then stored it - it is now about 15 years old and I find they're still being produced and sell at around £60.
I cleaned it up, and the mounting brackets which are only slightly tarnished (Look like - laquered aluminium) polished up nicely and gave the outer fibreglass a wipe and polish and it looked as good as new - I remember thinking when I bought this antenna, this will last a while - It has !

Connecting up to the FT817 on 2m there was instant activity, also on 70cm's,  but I found monitoring the "Airband" even more interesting - boy does it pull in the sigs here - coupled with using  Radar Virtuel can track flights into and out of either Gatwick  or London Heathrow,  the best bit is I can even hear  aircraft direct on the other side of the channel as they leave Brest airspace 30-50 miles away - I am going to try my handy as well, see if we can monitor the shipping.
Not sure how it might perform receiving the satellite sigs on U/V - I seem to remember many moons ago someone introduced me to satellite activity and I did hear the space station so it will be an interesting experiment to try again. Having never really been a big 2m fan it has opened up new avenues - might check out  the satellites tonight providing I get a decent pass -

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Antenna Supports

When I set up my 40M dipole last year for almost the entire winter I used the freely available Bamboo Canes we have growing in abundance here, they are now very tall - some 20 odd feet and can be cut to 12 ft lengths without them being spindly and weak and by lashing two together (x2 each end of the antenna) you can make easy supports which are about 15ft or so high - I use a 10M  "SOTA" fibreglass pole as the centre support strapped to the centre cane obtained from a local carpet store (Coated with Lacquer), inserted into one of those big clothes pole spikes, makes a good solid fix (Need to watch out in very windy weather though), the beauty is it's very easy to remove, or re-site, and ideal for testing purposes, I shall be setting one up again this winter.

These 20ft canes can be cut down to about 12ft - then lash two together.

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19 Aug 2010

Still here !

Today I have some good time to myself to catch up with some of the Blogs as I have not been active lately, mainly due to the "Summer" activities going on, and the fact we had visitors last week culminating in my sister in laws (sisters) wedding, and for the first time I think - enjoyed the whole day - good entertainment, food not bad at all, and more importantly - the Beer !
I had promised outdoor radio activities this summer but it has not materialized yet, and I notice the evenings are now starting to draw in and daylight hours have already fallen by an hour or so, and inevitably, there has been  talk of Christmas !! So need to crack on and get the 817 out in the car before it's too late.
Last night I promised myself I'd switch the radio on - I did - and fired up Wspr - my 5w was heard in the USA so that was encouraging, It was getting late so decided to quit.
Thought I'd have another session this morning and it's running as I write - on 30m to date this mornings best report was into VK plus a host of German/Italian/Danish/Austrian  and a couple of Russians, interesting to see the propagation path change through time.
I've also just noticed the interference from adjacent stations, especially PSK, with some HELL in there as well plus RTTY ?
Just had a quick peek and it's mainly EU's now.
I have a few chores to sort so will leave it running today with frequent shack visits - I thought I'd post an updated pic of my current operating position, you'll remember my "Shack in a cupboard" idea,  well it did'nt work out - as a consequence the doors were always open (Messy)

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11 Aug 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid meteor shower is spawned by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. As it orbits the Sun, this big "dirty snowball" sheds tiny grains of rock and dust. Over time, the particles spread out along the comet's orbital path. Earth flies through this path every August, sweeping up some of the dust grains. They plunge into our atmosphere at more than a hundred thousand miles an hour and vaporize as the streaks of light, known as meteors.

Most of the meteors are faint - you need to get away from city lights to see them. But a few can be bright enough to see from just about anywhere. They leave glowing trails that are visible for several seconds.

The Perseids will be at their best late tomorrow night, 12th Aug although a few  can be visible for a few days before and after the peak. At their peak, you might see a few dozen meteors per hour, And the Moon sets by mid-evening, so it'll leave dark skies for the shower.

The meteors all appear to "rain" into the sky from the direction of the constellation Perseus -- hence the name "Perseids." But the meteors can streak across any part of the sky, so you don't have to look toward Perseus to see them. Just find a dark but safe viewing location, and then watch the sky for the fireworks, so be at the ready with those Binocs.

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3 Aug 2010

JT65 HF Not running

All these digital modes are interesting - still looking at "Hell",  but still not made the big one yet...!  I also unearthed JT65 for HF  and downloaded it to my laptop running XP - the install appeard to go smoothly but when I first fired it up received this !

Wonder if anyone has a clue?

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31 Jul 2010


Being a user of PSK I have obviously been aware of some of the "other" digi-modes, in particular "Hellschreiber", and I had previously looked around  without success  trying to find out what it was all about, I had never found any Hell signals and subsequently pretty much dismissed it completely.
Adam M6RDP recently commented he had dabbled with it and inspired me to take another look - I'm glad I did, today (Saturday) at around 4pm I had some spare time and had  what originally intended to be a quick look on 20m and found some activity - I have not been on the air for about two weeks and it was refreshing to see something happening using a new mode for me, as sometimes PSK can be a bit repetitive.
I did not actually make qso's but spent some time familiarizing myself with it by just monitoring for a while using HRD,  what an interesting mode this is - next time I must try using it properly, I assume the radio settings are as for PSK using USB Data user mode ! (Need to check)...

This appeared to be good copy - with very weak signal on 20m

there's not as much  activity as on PSK and some of the signals seem pretty weak but I was surprised at the print out, I found use of the digital noise processing  and filtering on the rig helped a lot  -  I'll be looking into this mode, I like the way it displays - good fun.
If you have any tips for a newbie please pass them on - Thanks, have a nice weekend.

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