23 Dec 2012

Still Lurking in the wings

October saw my last official posting - bit embarrassing really, but I have been occasionally catching up with most of the blogs - it seems I have entered a transitional phase of both Radio and Computer activities which have seen a definite "Decrease" in ALL Hf work,  both digital AND my Favorite mode Cw - I guess these things do happen through time, 2m activity has taken off here, something I've not used since the early 90's but being involved on our club nets has an attraction and am beginning to enjoy the local camaraderie   and banter on VHF, including 4m now -  something I'd not got involved with in the past.
Projects for the new year include restoration of my good old "Classic" Kenwood TS830 and a delve into the world of SDR utilising the Rtl 2832  T820/E4000  DVB T  Dongles and Sdr sharp or HDSdr software - still waiting for some bits to arrive so it will not happen until the new year but am looking forward to some experimenting and some construction work for a change - all this plus some decorating as well :-) My guess is once I have cleared out my workshop/garage it will not be until the better weather.

Thanks for all the comments over this last year, although post's have been a bit thin, so I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone a FB Christmas!

Looking towards more  Blogging next year.

Cheers and Beers

16 Oct 2012

JT65/Wspr

Well here we are again,  must start getting this blog rolling again, and just for a change I came into the shack pretty early this morning thinking I’d get JT65 running (Wrong). . .  for some reason it would not play ball with my FT450D so I just left it monitoring on 20m  -  I was surprised to come in later to see ZL,  VK,  VO, and W’s appearing onscreen plus some short skip stuff, I did not have the patience to get it going but switched to Wspr instead having quickly checked the maps and decided to leave it on 15m for the day (or best part of it anyway) – 15’s not my best band by any stretch but today produced some propagation, although I thought conditions were poor.

It seemed to start slow but got quite busy around midday and was soon being spotted :-

K9AN

KN22
W4MO EL87
KB9AMG EN52
VE3GTC FN25
W4AC EL86
VO4KE EO01
VE2LJX FN35
VO1LQ
LA5ZL  
   
 
Average distances were up around 5000 – 6000K/ms which I suppose is what you’d expect on 15 so might have another crack tomorrow, all interesting stuff and a good way to get back into the swing of things – I might even warm  the key up too!

8 Oct 2012

Hi Folks - Back again. seems wierd being on these pages again but this is probably the first time I've had completely to myself since about May apart from my "Heart episode back in July,  even that seems way back in the far distant past now - recovery has panned out pretty well I guess and I got the dosage of one of the tablets reduced as it was slowing me down considerably and reducing my heart rate just a little too much and quite often felt light headed - now I have some Zing! and not as tired.
The builders have gone, and we have moved back into our new kitchen, and the new upstairs room has a fabulous view now.
I have had fits and starts with the radio and managed a few sessions out the back here but thats all, and just last week had my first listen on HF on the lower bands (80m) after speaking with one of our club members and discovered some DX coming in the form of   W,  and  ZL so I guess we're now entering the winter season in propagation terms.
Also I have made a few acquisitions in the form of a "Buddipole Deluxe" portable antenna system which I have been playing with but still yet to carry out a proper test,  and a new keyer - the idiom press K5 memory keyer which has programmable stackable memories, and can link and call from other memory banks, and the capability to change speed midway through a message , then change back again which is useful for those "Quickie" contest exchanges.
Although I have not experimented too much with setting up the memories yet it handles and feels very smooth and i can use it with all my radios, It is so smooth  in use (far better than those built in keyer modules in the rigs), which I now turn off - especially the Yaesu ones....er   which are frankly a waste of time.
Also all the antennas had to come down during August/Sept due to access/machinery and we had ALL the Fir trees removed from the side of our property (about x20)  which we discovered to our amazement gave us up to 12 feet more width  in our garden wow!  only problem is now my antenna activities are exposed for all to witness...
So-  best part of this week will be catching up with some of the blogs, checking general conditions(especially 10m)   activating the new keyer,  and when we get a dry spell of weather, getting out there with the Buddipole, though looking out today I might have to wait a while.... so maybe a spot of Wspr might be in order.

Cul  P

5 Sep 2012

Service with a BIG Smile

Some years back I treated myself to a decent set of Paddles (Then)  the Bencher BY2 in chrome, I was struck by how light the action was and  -  being a green CW op found them actually easier to use than my old clunky Japanese key.
But in 1998 after having moved house I discovered they had become damaged -  one perspex paddle had completely shattered, and the other was now very loose and very flimsy, a spot of superglue in the right places did improve things but my old friend was relegated to the back of the shelf only coming out when I ever managed to get some airtime this being due mainly to working odd shifts that were continually changing.
But in the few years I have been retired I have actually used them a whole lot more and as a consequence they have become worryingly loose as my sending speeds have increased and have reached a stage where I have started to "slap" the paddles with increasing "Rythmn" - so  I thought it prudent to perhaps "Fabricate" some new paddles,  or better still inquire as to whether Bencher produce a set of spares - why I did'nt  think to do it earlier I'll never know - so I sent a quick e-mail to Bencher to which they replied the next day, I simply asked If they produced a set of spares, well under normal circumstances it seems they don't - however after I'd explained what had happened they said if it was only the paddles I required they would be happy to send some.
I had completely forgotten about them until yesterday when our Postie Lady knocked the door with a parcel from the USA  -  one set of replacement paddles !  My old BY2 now takes pole position over my Begali, which now feels a bit stiff - and just does'nt quite have the tiny extra flex of the Bencher to which I have become so attached , reminds me of the Profi II I borrowed last year and I did'nt like it - maybe I will take another look at it - so a BIG BIG thank you BENCHER.

After some recent events with suppliers my faith is restored

Cheers Joan:

13 Aug 2012

From out of the blue

Hi Guys - you'll no doubt have been wondering why I've not been posting lately - well I was hit totally and unexpectedly out of the blue a couple of weeks back, as these things do, by a "Heart Attack" - it comes as a complete shock/surprise as I'm not yet 60, and neither of my parents or grandparents suffered any heart related history.
So after several days in hospital am now resting at home catching up with some Dx'ing - the cardiac team 1st performed an angiogram (which is absolutely amazing) via the Femeral artery (Groin).  but results showed nothing relating to lifestyle etc... but apparently there was an anomalie with one of the hearts valves being slightly elongated and occasionally would buckle, (something I was born with), which required a second angiogram -  so had to go down again for further investigations - however they felt it best not to interfere by using a stent so have decided on drug treatments - on returning home I did not think I would feel so tired (drugs)  boy was I...  but now a week later I'm feeling almost normal, although I cant help thinking just what a thin line we ALL tread even though you think your well and healthy - still taking it slowly though just in case - they're telling me any damage is minimal - I am just looking forward to being able to get on with some of the physical jobs I have always done, and maybe being able to reduce the cocktail of drugs I'm on currently - I am starting to rattle, luckily the only side effect of these drugs at the moment is effecting my voice slightly (Feeling Hoarse)
So.. it's back to some DX'ing  worked some W's last week and called a Lone JA on 17m cw who did not appear to be getting any response - he heard my 50w call and came back with a 569 in the clear WoW !
I have also had the 817 out the back here with my fishing pole/dipole set-up running 2.5w and its just fine for working EU  -   thank goodness I have this hobby.
73'

24 Jul 2012

More Firefox woes

This Browser has gone right down the pan in performance - since v. 11.00 it's just got slower and slower, and slower.... yawn.
now in v.14.0 it does not load OR SHOW You Tube clips Bah !
V.14.01 did N O T fix said prob's either.
Just tried to download v15 and it WONT.

So - sorry firefox your off my list after 8 years solid use - now back to Chrome which effortlessly displays WHAT I NEED TO SEE.

Very disappointed.

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4 Jul 2012

Firefox 13 Problems

More frustrations in that "Firefox 13" has problems displaying flash video clips and no longer able to watch You Tube "Ham" videos.
I am so annoyed - I have started using using "Chrome" and it's fine,  also tried an earlier version of Firefox on another machine using "Linux", that too is fine - if they cannot get it sorted I'll just delete it and carry on with Chrome - I had noticed that Firefox seemed to have been getting slower in booting/performance with every subsequent release so maybe it's time to change.




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26 Jun 2012

6m Surprise

Conditions have been POOR - not much being worked the whole of last week, however one late evening (11:30 Local) I switched on and the radio had been left on 6m and was buzzing with East coast USA Stations - I now have USA on 6m - this is quite amazing as in my entire time of monitoring this band I have NEVER heard anything other than EU stations or white noise.
People rave about this band but I have NEVER found anything shout about so whats all the fuss ?
I guess I have never been around at the right moment to witness these conditions - now my dial is tuning 6m often, whilst my other rig checks ten.
What a strange band - this morning I am running 6m Wspr and had been spotting GW3NJW since about 09:00, his signal has steadily but surely fallen away from his original -8dB and at  around 10:30 at -17dB he's gone but I will leave Wspr running, who knows whats going to show up next.



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18 Jun 2012

Fiddling on Two

During this morning I had been taking advantage of the better Wx and went outside to play with mast's and poles in an effort to find  suitable  support for my H/Brewed 2m beam - the 7/10m fiberglass poles had too much give (even with topmost sections removed) so settled on a 5m painters pole  which I got last year for painting a difficult to reach gable end.
I decided not to go to the full height  but instead opted to use some 32mm Upvc piping for the top of the mast which easily slipped over the top - It was a calm day, but had it been too breezy staking would be required - the 4 ele beam was secured by using the fitting off an old 10m job though I feel it might be just too heavy, a lighter one may be more appropriate - with some thought I'm sure we might brew one up.
So sitting in some rather pleasant sunshine hooked up the Analyser  to discover the Swr was 1.2 across the band and a quick tune across the lower end produced ON0VHF in JO20HP central Belgium - what a surprise for me as we are low lying here in the south and 80% surrounded by sea water - I dont know if there is a lift on or not but then heard GB3VHF up on the North downs in Kent, rotating to the south heard F5ZGF in IN88JS in central France.
I have never taken an interest in VHF but the results today so far at sea level are very interesting - imagine what one might hear, or even better work, on much higher ground ? I am  encouraged to take this prototype set-up out in the field and do some 2m CW.
I  am looking for a set-up thats very quick to deploy minimum fuss - same for HF - my Roach pole/single band dipoles always seem to work well though - but the best part is being out in the sunshine with the fun of discovering new things.

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24 May 2012

TenTec Argonaut 539 (Typo corrected)

Wow !

This ones on my shopping list....



Tuning the Ten-Tec Model 539 Argonaut VI

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23 May 2012

Delivery Frustrations

Most, if not all the Parcel Delivery services operating these days have Automated systems installed whereby you can log on and track your parcels progress through the relevant systems - most of the time it's just fine, and certainly "Royal Mail" here in the UK,  in particular score quite well  - but when it comes to "Home Delivery/Parcel Force  or UPS"  I expect problems and once again today proved just that - I placed an order Tuesday, it was scanned in and dispatched via Northampton to Barking (London) then on to my local area depot for dispatch and was expecting it to arrive today (Wed), all was well until I checked progress on their website having waited until  18:00, and discovered it had been flagged as not having a "Street Number", so therefore they could not deliver it - (or just not bothered more like)
In the 14 years we have lived here Royal Mail never appear to have had a delivery problem !!  but it appears some of the "Other" delivery services just dont cut it.  We live on an Avenue where a number of properties do  not have numbers but "House names", and checking back to the 50's that appears to have always been the case.
The last time this happened was last september when "Parcel Force" FAILED  quite comprehensively on TWO occasions  over a three day period to deliver a rather large parcel from the Netherlands which I had been tracking for a month and got short shrift from the driver who complained that ALL properties should have house  numbers like in the USA/Germany - are'nt these vehicles equipped with Sat-Nav ?, and if they cannot see the destination property would it not be prudent to ask someone local? I get SO frustrated with "Delivery Services" ,  so for a third time I had to wade through their web site to find a way of rescheduling and checking the address, all that seemed a waste of time  - I just needed to speak to a HUMAN BEING, not a Machine which insists on giving numerous useless options that are'nt applicable anyway.  Bahh!  now I'm getting wound up, so I just called their local office to be informed I'd dialled the wrong number, and after having "calmly" explained the situation was "Eventually" put through to "another" Human (I think) . . . to confirm my address, yesss that's right I HAVE NO STREET NUMBER - NEVER HAVE - NEVER WILL, Please reschedule for tomorrow I WILL be here all day.
Waiting !  There must be some bug/flaw in these systems surely, they can get the Postal Area correct and a sat-nav will get you there (Mine does), the driver then needs to execute some common sense (whats that),  surely ?! by asking a few simple questions - I guess thats too difficult and time consuming.
Totally Frustrated now.

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15 May 2012

May Update

I've not been posting lately but dont be fooled into thinking there's nothing going on - quite the opposite, I have been doing PLENTY of listening, it has to be said mainly CW and even 10FM !
A couple of weeks ago I got set up for VHF operations but have had to re-jig things to accommodate my 6m beam so as to work more on that band this year as I missed out last time - also, as a complete newbie I have indulged in getting Aprs running on my VX8, I have had it running but still have a lot to learn about it's workings (and use), so it's another steep learning curve for me when time permits, but it's fun doing so.
I have also acquired 4m here too - again lots to learn but all in good time.
And today I managed to steal half an hour to work 7O6T on 15m (SSB of all modes)...!!!"£$ crikey...
Last but not least the house (Shack) has been turned upside down due to extensive renovations which meant having to set up a kitchen in our Hallway.... so yes the IS PLENTY happening so any routine we did have has now changed our lives for the next 7 months, but I'll be squeezing in some airtime for sure especially on 6 and 10m.
See you on the Key.

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2 May 2012

Beware Paypal Scam

I have received 7 E-mails in the last two days from Paypal??? telling me that I have made a payment to "Someone", that someone is a different person in each case, and that the recipients of said E-mails are all @o2.com addresses (not sure what the term is for this "Phishing/Spamming?) - whatever, just delete them if you have an o2 address, they are also sent from  different addresses but checking the source they seem to be emanating from China - mine instantly hit the bit bucket.
I know what payments I have or have not made using paypal and an account check confirms this - you just never know what your getting lured into, I guess  by responding proves your  address is live too.

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4 Apr 2012

The Big Picture

Getting it all in Perspective !

Thanks to Pedro CT7AEZ - Check this out  HERE

Pretty amazing stuff...

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2 Apr 2012

New DXCC

How strange radio can be - earlier this morning I took a couple of looks on 10m and there was no activity and forecasts were for poor conditions - just  tuned across the lower cw end and worked A6/DL9WVM   which is a new one for me - going to do some shopping (Big smiles).


Thanks qrz.com


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Digital SSTV

A couple of weeks back I noticed Bas PE4BAS posted about this mode using a new DRM software that has been developed, I had always wanted to use SSTV but, like a lot of other things just never got around to it - I did take a very quick look and was immediately impressed by some of the pictures "Quality", gone were most of the graininess associated with normal SSTV - I considered downloading the Easypal software but instead put it on the back burner (always something else to play with) yesterday I did download the Jan 2012 version, installed on W7 in my "Ham" folder - I went straight to the setup and (hopefully) got that right ! and we were soon in RX mode, but listening on what would probably be the most common frequency of 14.233 produced nothing - it was late and the tide had gone out so switched to 7.173 (Dead too) . .. tried 3.723 but nothing so pulled the plug, disappointed !
This morning I got up early expecting 20m to be open and try again - there seemed to plenty of the usual SSTV activity but nothing easypal seemed likely to decode although I did tune around some of the sigs without any luck - this did decode though :-



this actually reads SQ2CO and looks like the text decode before a picture is received, however no picture materialized - I went for a coffee (several in fact) and discovered that three stations had in fact sent pictures but no decodes (looking under the station log tab).
I then had to check my setup several times, had I missed something ? being a complete newbie to this I went away and just left the FT450D running on 14.233,  I was thinking there must have been something I'd missed either in the setup or the decode settings - imagine my complete surprise on my return to find this !?!?!?


W'fall shows slow QSB but still good quality picture.

I was very pleased to see that a re-run of a picture sent earlier HAD decoded, so there IS some activity? I guess a lot of stations are still using standard SSTV software, there is active ongoing development and most of the big guns are involved - could become the future standard ?  While I write another "Failed Decode",  I will not attempt TX until absolutely sure how this all goes together - but it's yet another mode to play with..
If anyone with more knowledge than I can shed any light on this fascinating mode/S'ware feel free to post, or mail me - help files sparse!
Dont you just love Ham Radio ?







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29 Mar 2012

Groundworks



For a long time now as Antennas have come and gone or moved to some other location in the garden my xyl has often reminded me of the “Unsightly cables laying around, or “Hanging” from strategic points, ie: off the Rose Arbour, or dangling around hanging of trees etc.… I always promised to get it sorted and as I have just installed a  45 foot vertical I needed to keep it tidy as I had not only the coaxial, but the power line for the remote tuner too – so I decided to bury everything in piping – the main run out of the shack  is about 6m , and the run down to the base of my  mast is around 25m – thereafter if I need to extend beyond that I can always tuck extra cabling in behind a hedge and use “U” Pegs to pin it down (Useful since my coax seems to attract very unwelcome guests – Mr Fox)
Here’s how it went :-

 



You may be wondering if I provided for pulling another cable through ? yes I did  (hope it works) there are no sharp bends except at the very ends where the pipe comes out of the ground – I certainly dont want to be digging this lot up again in too much of a hurry – it’s so nice to see this part of the garden cable-free.
The cabling to the vertical is also now buried using the same method – that just leaves  some adjustment to the antenna/elevated coounterpoise wires which I’ll do later – also need to lay some grass seed over the 6m long slit running across the lawn oops! once summer gets going it’ll soon disappear – now nursing a sore back !!

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