30 Mar 2011

Japan on Jt65

I thought  I'd spare some time on the radio today as I have not been spending much time on it lately, so fired up Jt65 on 20m - made a call and Nowt - Nada - Zilch,  strange it was working last time I'd used it - so quickly switched to HRD and it wouldn't load either - even stranger, my suspicions were confirmed after re-booting, the virtual Com port drivers had not loaded up - it's the first time it has happened - so back to Jt65.
No one was coming back so I stuck with it and did finally make two contacts, one into France, Pierre F5GPE  -  and  K0IDT Ron in Lincoln Nebraska,  I came back some time later and tried a few more calls but it was getting to the stage of frustration, so I had a quick look on 15m and there were a couple of VERY faint traces on the waterfall - they turned out to be VK's and a couple of JA's down in the noise, I thought I'd give a shout, you never know !  BANG  JE2TLZ straight back with a report, he is on the outskirts of Nagoya - I have not worked Japan for many years and am very pleased to do so today and it's a new one for me on Jt65 - it's a liitle slow but a great mode (I was using 20w) to an End Fed on this occasion.

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29 Mar 2011

Firefox and Linux

Well this is going to stir it up for sure - I'll be brief !

I could not resist firing up Firefox under Ubuntu - this is the last version in the 3.x.x series - purely out of interest of course ;-)
FF booted from scratch in 5s - and it loads pages just as quick - and when your using it,  it has that magic "Feel" - a certain zip  she's very quick under Linux.

One slip up under W7 and I'm back to Linux !

Do have Fun - 10m is open ;-)

Firefox 4 Page Loading

No issues with it at all – Julian G4ILO pointed out that perhaps its page loading that we should be looking at so I conducted a test this morning using

Firefox 4  -  Opera  -  Google Chrome

I actually ran the test twice over and averaged out the final totals –  sites visited included  PC4T, G4ILO, G4NKX, BBC NEWS, LINUX DISTROWATCH, UBUNTU, SONY UK, OPEN SUSE, STAPLES, FEDORA PROJECT…… plus a good few other popularly visited ham sites.

Final Average times for loading pages

1. Opera        5.61s

2. Firefox 4    5.76s

3. Chrome     6.00s

All  browsers performed well in my book, speed wise (Nothing in it at all) so it’s just down to personal preference, having used all three this morning I have developed more affinity to Firefox although it’s different to the old version, and I like the look and feel of it (Must check to see if it’s available for Linux yet).

Obviously page loading times will vary from one machine to another depending on the installed hardware – this is a bog standard Intel 3.4 dual core, running a 250Gb HDD and 2Mb ram and W7

I’ll be sticking with FF4 but would’nt hesitate in using the others.


I thought I'd take a look at Firefox 4 since I have been playing with the Browsers lately, also since I'd found Opera to be so much quicker that the Firefox 3.x.x , it deserved a chance - to begin, the download was faultless, as was installation and upon firing up (Instant Reaction) it's a Chrome copy, with a distinct whiff of Googles Chrome - but of course it's not, a deeper look revealed slightly more to it than Chrome, though was disappointed to find it was just as slow as the old version.
I quickly checked Chrome and it took four seconds to fire up - actually I was surprised at this  -  once again back to FF4 and it fired up in some eleven seconds (On this machine) with 2Mb ram...! H'mmm maybe it's this "Haminfo Bar thingy" ? I disabled it and it came up with seven seconds +/-, but I find the "Haminfo Bar" very useful, and once your running it's ok so I guess I'll put up with it's slow starting.
Out of interest I checked all three one after the other, bear in mind this is purely from a "user" point of view and is in no way intended to be a Technical "Review", here goes

Opera   8s     FF4  7s (Without Haminfo Bar)  11s (With)  Chrome 4-5s

IE9?  I have deleted all shortcuts and routes pointing to it on this system.

I run all the usual video and audio addons, the only others are  a screenshot tool, and the scribefire addon for the blogging which I only use for convenience as it's quicker than Windows Live-writer (Very nice but too slow) But then again that might be due to "W7"?
Might as well stick with FF4 - not a lot between them

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28 Mar 2011

WARNING my sensors indicate !!

Another Scam, Virus, Trojan ??
Probably, they hit the "Bit Bucket" anyway here at NKX Towers - My inbox took delivery of half a dozen or so messages last week from "UPS", advising of undelivered parcels with a nice little attachment  in the form of either a .rar  .zip  file - now only I know for certainty that I am NOT expecting any parcels from UPS !  dont be tempted to open them especially if your running windows.
The message reads:-
Dear customer.

The parcel was sent your home address.
And it will arrive within 7 business day.

More information and the tracking number are attached in document below.

Thank you.
© 1994-2011 United Parcel Service of America, Inc.


This weekend I have not been at the computer at all until last evening (SUN) and only had a few e-mails delivered - this morning I have another five of these things laying in wait - all from different addresses - I am suspicious of ANY mail these days and as far as I'm concerned if it comes from an unknown scource (With Attachments) it gets bounced.


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24 Mar 2011


I have been using Firefox for as long as I can remember now on both Win and Linux after dumping IE years ago after suffering with a plague of security issues, and finding websites of dubious origin constantly appearing in my bookmarks, Firefox also seemed to have a broader selection of addons.

The last couple of weeks on my main machine I had noticed Firefox seemed  to be getting a bit sluggish - ok I had three or four addons attached to it including this Hambar thingy which I happen to like as it combines a whole bunch of links and pages concerning Amateur radio, and it's a convenience thing - tonight (Thur) I decided to disable the addons to see if it made any difference, (to be honest - not a great deal), the browser did fire up a bit quicker but nothing special, so I decided to take the plunge and install Opera, as it claimed to be quicker.

Having downloaded it the install was totally hassle-free, AND everything appeared as it should, and wow ! yes it IS quicker - it has a different feel and look to Firefox but I'm sure I'll get used to it soon - it also still incorporates its own mail client which I have not set up as yet.

One thing I did want was the ability to post blogs from it - Luckily Opera has the Scribefire addon which pops up under a new tab - all in all it looks quite good, and it's possible to personalise the layout too.

I was confident enough to also install it on my netbook to see if it was quicker than Firefox - Yes it is.

I will set up the mail client on the netbook as its all under one hood - thats good as we dont want too many windows running so I will erase Thunderbird,  but on my main machine I use a personal information manager for mail so I'll leave it be - that comes from using Linux for so long.

I am actualy making this post using the Scribefire addon using Opera, now I should get back to using Opera to see how it performs.  Might do a follow-up later.



23 Mar 2011

Phone re-cycling

Got an old cell phone?  they tell you to re-cycle them and there are web sites that cater for such actions, however you need to be careful - you could be handing crooks and fraudster's  important personal information.
In a recent study it would seem 54% of used phones contained personal information on the previous owners including photographs, banking details, pin numbers, and private text's.
Apparently researchers bought phones from sources such as E-Bay, used electronic stores, and second hand shops to see what information they held - 247 peices of data were found on 19 of 35 mobile phones, and 27 out of 50 sim cards - information included pin details, bank account numbers and passwords, company information and login details to personal networking sites like Facebook (Dont go there)...!  and Linkedln.
Another research discovered  half of second hand phone owners said they found personal information from a previous owner on it,  or the sim card.
It has also revealed that some 81% of users claimed they had "Wiped" their phones before selling them, confident they had removed sensitive personal details.
There are more and more phones available these days through various sources and  it is important for users to take greater personal responsibility to ensure their phones are "clean" before re-sale.
I have checked all my old phones in the past and I have kept the same number (sim) since I had a cell phone and just transferred it to the new phone, so no worries there but dont forget the phone does have it's own memory and should be double checked for content before you either sell it on, give it to charity or whatever
these days you just never know who's rifling through your unwanted items - those sealed bags of junk you take to your refuse collection centre are checked !

21 Mar 2011

VK on 20m Wspr

Trying out an experiment today with a homebrew vertical for 20m so I thought I’d gear up with some whispering – it started off a bit slow this morning (Mon), mostly EU but was soon getting some DX reporting, notably Leigh VK2KRR  -  NO WONDER !!

BigGun VK2KRR 

Running his Quad band Yagi up goodness knows what height

I do envy those who have the real estate for such installations – even if I had one I would still only use low power Winking smile

Anyway we’re getting quite a few W’s and VE’s this afternoon although I notice the SF index has dropped quite considerably since early last week’s 157 Peak.



I had been having problems with an intermittent fault which I traced to the plug on one of the audio cables, seemed to have developed a break inside the jack from the interface – it’s running again with a “Temp” repair but need to make up some new cables – one of those VERY tedious but necessary jobs, how I hate making up leads – In fact, I Sooo  cannot be bothered I might actually buy some ready made. I do have the time but I consider my time would be better spent on other aspects of the hobby.

16 Mar 2011

Iphone Bug

Iphone bugs :-
Seems Apples Iphones allow users to watch films, surf the internet, and even navigate, but apparrently is STILL having difficulty with such menial tasks as telling the time.
In the US its been reported it fell short in the "One hour ahead"  daylight savings time.
I find it incredible that here we are on gen 4 phones still with problems with all this modern technology to hand.
Apparently users were waking up last weekend to find they were two hours adrift, and phoning apple to complain - now British users are being told to be aware when the clocks go forward an hour on March 27, Twitter was awash with "Solutions"???  Either Power down and re-boot the device, or, switch to "Airplane mode"???
Thing I dont like about these modern phones is that they encourage use of internet connection - even when your unaware of it - a lot of these "Apps" run in the background, next time you get your bill check the itemised list to see what your phones been connecting to !

A phone is a phone - why do we need all these "Apps" ? 


8 Mar 2011

Propagation on 40m

Is good - Had Wspr running during this evening on 40m with the End Fed hooked up, propagation not bad I'd say, and with  the  next solar flare due to cause disruption any time soon we could be in for some unsettled conditions.

Wspr Map

We have a number of US stations reporting, couple of VK's, 4X, RA8, Good sign - looks like we're on an upward trend SFI was up to 157, double that of last year - It's strange when I go to the computer the first thing I check these days is the solar flux before e-mail or anything else ! I am hoping to get my vertical up and running tomorrow on 20m but I gather there will possibly be showers during the day :-(

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Open Office Blogging

I deleted the last post - it was an experiment anyway having learned there was an Open Office extension that allowed you to post directly to Blogger - I thought it was interesting to see if it worked - It does, however for some reason does not pick up on "Images"  - everything else seems to  work, Formatting, Tables, Colours, Fonts/Type etc... ... ... After I'd downloaded it I found a whole page of complaints about it either not working at all, or when a post was published it spewed out a whole bunch of Gibberish - I gather MS Word does has a "Blogger" feature built into it also, but you will have probably gathered I'm not one BG's followers - I was just playing to see if there were simple alternatives for posting - Firefox has an add-on called Scribefire which I have used in the past - works ok,  but keeps dropping out ( Forgets the blogger address), then will suddenly work again  -  same with the Flock browser - I liken this to HRD - just plain complicated.

I am going to have another look as when my netbook turns up I want something small and above all "Easy" to send post's  Open Office is probably a bit heavyweight for a netbook anyway - Back to the drawing board

Getting to grips with Solar Storms

Sunspots Revealed

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5 Mar 2011

Wspr’ing on 20m

The last couple of days have seen dry crisp sunny days here in the UK due to  high pressure sitting over Europe so I decided early on to get out in the garden here and get some outside work done – I had intended to “slip in” some antenna work by erecting a 20m homebrew antenna  but it did not work out that way.

So today we had a spell of Wspr on 20m – the conditions were good, the solar flux was up to 127 – it  was slow to get going but soon we were being reported in some DX locations, conditions were good.

Dx for today on 20m was surprising – my 5w was being reported by:

VE9GJ  4575km

WZ4Z 7084km

VK3SMC 17002km

W6AFK 6929km

HS0ZED 9597km

VK4YEH 16621km

VK1JA 17075

WB8HWF 6138

VK2ZIW 17035km

9V1AL 10922km

UN7DB  5418km

Plus a good few others – I was very surprised to see such  a good opening today on 20m – conditions seem to be improving nicely, lets hope this trend continues – I had been considering removing this End Fed – I might rig up the vertical as a temporary antenna for 20m just to see how it goes – Looking good!

Awaiting delivery of new “Netbook”, watch this space.

Have good weekend.

1 Mar 2011


Well, thought it was time to get another post in – really just an update on whats “not” happening here at this time (Radio wise") nothing – I have been very busy these last two weeks or so emptying and marketing a property so it been taking up some time and I’m swamped in paperwork and its piling up daily at the moment – I have been wondering how I ever found the time to work – even so I’m my own boss and things get done MY way WHEN   I’M ready – thats the good bit.

Still pondering on  this Netbook, I looked at most of the “Major”  ones and read through the reviews, looked at the You tube videos, visited in store to see for myself – at the end what I need is something to edit text, e-mail, surf the web, checking blogs etc…  write letters and create .docs and small spreadsheets (not all at the same time)…. watch standard you tube vid’s live, and use it for portable psk and logging, thats it  -  I have one top priority, “Battery Life”,  this does narrow the field slightly but after all this what I want it for, “Portability”

The Samsung N220 stands out head and shoulders above the rest for me and it’s  a well built piece of kit, as opposed to some of the others which look tacky and cheap, and a non glare screen (I hate Black Glossy finishes) too – trouble is it breaks my budget – and the critics will then say “spend just that bit extra and you get a slightly larger screen, a full intel i3/5 processor nvidia graphics and your into a full laptop.

Anyone use a Samsung Netbook?

Let me know what you think of it, I just need to be tipped over the edge  to get it – the Asus 1215 gets a 5 star rating but it’s way over priced – give me some feedback I need convincing  -  Also with regard to running it, they come with a cut down version of w7, they do say its too bloated for these Atom processors although it’s designed for netbooks, would I be better off  installing XP on it, then I could run some simple psk/logging app’s, also I have my usb stick with which I could run Linux.


Not quite there yet – it’s 5c as I write, and has been for several days, that mild week we had a couple of weeks ago is long forgotten although there is activity on the bird front – we now have a dawn chorus with the Blackbirds featuring strongly, just waiting to hear song from the Thrush who although quite rare in some parts is a frequent spring/early summer visitor round here.

Have concluded my “Par Type” antenna at 66ft length works reasonably well on 40/30/20m  but is very inefficient on the other bands, in particular 80m in which it does a particularly good job of cloud warming – average distance worked/heard app’x 500km, It tunes and loads up ok on all bands (NOT 160m) .

Next up will be a Vertical – so will be pressing my homebrewed vertical into action, I am going to try it on a short mast app’x 10feet above ground with two sloping  horizontal radials  terminating 3 or 4 feet above ground – it was designed to work on 15m but that band has not sprung to life  yet so might persuade it to  play on 17m.

Finally today I notice the solar flux just crept up to 95 and looking unsettled again ? but the noise floor is S3 – 5 not too clever.

Back to clearing some of this paperwork as cannot see daylight yet.