31 Aug 2010

Timekeeping

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

ISS

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

Paul PA0PSY

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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