28 Nov 2013

Time for a Post

Time for a Post  -  "Time" -  where does it go? These past few months have past (Probably longer) . . . and I have to admit I'd lost any inclination to write anything - problem is trying to squeeze time to Blog - I have found "Other" interests and things to do and once you get out of the habit of checking the Blog Pages you lose it.
Well I HAVE been active on the bands that's the main thing, and still 75% of the time during the evenings I'm on the cw ends of the bands listening around - I note the recent excellent conditions on  10m and have made a few on there - and a massive lift on 2m about 6 weeks ago - I had noticed one morning that the 2m band conditions were "Enhanced". .  and continued through the day but during one late afternoon I turned on to find a Foreign voice on a simplex channel - after carefully listening he gave his call  -  an ON station, It was an actual Belgian station working simplex to someone to the west of me - I did'nt work him as there were stations queuing up to work him, but how interesting - east/west propagation was excellent, and stations were later that evening working coast to coast here in the UK with repeaters popping up all over the place - very entertaining too !  I can honestly say I'd never heard anything like this ever before - and it lasted about 4-5 days too.
I have never particularly shown an interest in VHF/UHF but I'm planning to erect a 6 ele yagi  (need rotator) . . .   as I seem to get decent take off to the east from here across the water - so thats in the pipeline  -  also now have the wideband ELK  portable Log Periodic which I will be setting up to use on a tripod, and hopefully have a crack at some Satellites ?? you never know...
Also now have a doublet up which gives pretty much all band coverage including 5Mhz (60M)
In the Shack we have decided to scrap windows  -  and after giving my current PC a spring clean and memory upgrade we're going back to Linux - And my main machine will now be an iMac so most of the radio stuff will be under Linux, but well see how it all goes together anyway  -  I know software choices are limited but I'm fed up with all the  security holes and associated virus software problems that seem to go hand in hand with windows 7,  and 8 come to that  -  W8  who ever decided to release that?  Big mistake if you ask me.

January/New year will see the big shack clearance here so we may well be off the air for a bit while we do some decorating and re-fitting - but thats all to come.

Anyway 73's for now and hope to get on here more often.

Cheers All.

15 May 2013

Get on 6m

That heading reminds me of Randy's (K7AGE's) "Get on 6" You Tube series, great videos by the way - and inspirational to many Hams world wide, me included - its always interesting to see how other folks build things and some of the ideas they come up with some of which I have to say are quite good.
The 6m thing started at the end of last year when some kind "Jumbo jet of a pigeon " decided to exercise on the ends of my 6m beam and joined by some pals broke the centre block in half and bent the element, it's hanging in my garage waiting for repair  -  in the meantime I built a new "Simple" rigid rotatable dipole out of old aluminium from a 10m beam of years ago -  Its basically made up of pvc pipe (plumbing) 20mm,  and 22mm electrical conduit,  x2 22mm to 15mm converters  and  the two elements, with the centre - a 22mm inspection cover - I wont go into construction, there are plenty of video clips that cover it but you 'll get the idea, here's a couple of pics.


CENTRE
So239 connected to elements with bolts/washers
Joints neat fit and glued and painted Matt Green



ELEMENTS
The tips (of the old 10m beam here cut to appropriate 
lengths, they're adjustable anyway



22mm-15mm converter
Conveniently steps down to 15mm same as diameter of
the elements - nice snug fit, the pvc pipe is about 15"
either side of the centre to give some strain relief

The hardest part of building this "Simple" dipole was sourcing the parts, for me I found B&Q and Wickes have most of what you need for a lot of these H/Brew antenna projects -     DOES IT WORK ?

Raising it to a workable height with an analyser connected adjust the ends for resonance at the desired frequency, I opted for 50.090 (app'x) I made three attempts for a 1.2:1  then connected up to my TS590 on the second antenna output - well yesterday proved profitable as there were openings into EU and I worked about 6 countries in half an hour CW

Conclusion:
I had not been a great fan of 6m (Even with my beam) until  at the end of last season when I worked USA
This "Simple" project cost me next to nothing and I had fun building it - I'm now realising too that 6m is a fun band  so why not "Knock one up" ? cu on 6 ?


17 Apr 2013

Hacked

My XYL had a strange screen appear after having logged into one of her Bank Accounts the other week and I saw it (usual live  percentage Bargraph activity) at the time I thought it was a legitimate process, although she said it was NOT normal, about 20 mins later she received a confirmation text on her phone asking her to confirm having set up a new “Payee” to the tune of £8xxxx pounds – W H A T ???

A phone call revealed her account had been hacked although nothing had exchanged as the call was a security measure – BUT the fact her account details had been compromised was a bit shocking, and they even traced who the new “Payee was”  – the Anti Virus software was not activated so I tried to re-install new software to discover what was happening unfortunately several .dll files were either corrupt or missing preventing me installing updated or new virus programs, I had three different installs on the go but none would install – eventually I re-installed windows xp from scratch but still no go… the answer in the end was to scrap the machine and install a new one with W8 on, I find this impossible to work with . . .

So if YOU do online banking , and I suspect most of us do be extra vigilant when logging in especially if you see odd or strange looking screens.


As a result I too became twitchy about my machine which   although now 9 years old   is still capable of holding it’s own although designed and installed originally with XP Pro now runs Win7  -  I decided it might be prudent to install Anti Virus software as thus far I had not bothered  (due to running Linux for 5 years) -  NOW  having installed and registered it we’ve seen a reduction in performance overall – it trips over itself on boot up,  Browsers frequently fall over with unresponsive pages AND the HDD is constantly churning in the background – the virus software has entwined itself onto my system and is tugging at every command – I am wishing I’d NOT bothered with it at all – I HAVE however sort of got it back on track by disabling W7 Aero effects and all its Bling and Eye Candy and (Who needs it anyway)?  so I’m geared for speed now – well, for the moment  - all the time I ran Linux it DID definitely run faster than Win XP, BUT I guess time moves on and the Brand new shiny machine I bought 9 years ago does now appear to be slowing down with the weight of all the new (Bloatware) and I include HRD…  and background processes of modern O/S’s are ALL hogging memory too, and the dreaded Virus checker is taking it slightly over the top… Pity!  No chance of running SDR then !

I could possibly add some memory but I dont think it’s worth it at this stage – a friend of mine has a new H/Brew Comp running an i7 with 12Gb Mem  and 1Tb HDD with back ups  COR !

I’m hanging by a thread methinks and it wont be too long before I decide to get a new one, I know one thing though it WONT have W8 on it  -  is this yet another Microslop disaster ?

Thoughts?

11 Apr 2013

Still working on the new mast install here and have the base concreted in, offering the wooden mast up to the stub pole presented a possible weight issue - the way I had planned it (for stability) meant a considerable amount of timber swaying around and the base, which I had previously thought would be of ample dimensions suddenly looked rather frail - so there is a slight technical hitch sorting out another alternative - looks like I might have to install just one wooden mast to the stub pole, and attach a 20' aluminium mast to the top section - it will certainly be lighter in weight, and look a bit slimmer but will not have the the rigidity I was looking for - I think I'm going to try it anyway,  most of the time it will be erected and locked anyway and the raising and lowering of the mast will be done with care so it should'nt be a problem - also I am hoping to create a stand off at the top so I'll have 2m and 4m antennas up.
My latest creation (6m solid rotary dipole) is complete too and ready for testing ready for the new 6m season which should get under way soon, the whole thing cost about five pounds for some Pvc pipe and fittings - the element were made up from an old scrapped 10m beam - I'll post some piccies too at a later date - also some nice things been going on in the shack !

Back Later:

12 Mar 2013

Misconduct and all that

Hi Folks:

Referring of course to the "On-Air" antics of a minority of  "Fellow Hams"  who persist in calling on a frequency when the DX station clearly states "Up", (whatever), worse - keying over the top of said "DX" station - it's not  a new phenomena, it's been with us for a while festering away.
This my friends is the "DX Pile-Up", and something to be avoided at all costs whatever power level - there was a time when I joined a DX Pile to work Alaska using something known as SSB ?! It was run by some East coast American stations and you had to get yourself logged in on a list, very simple and it worked, even my pipsqueak 90w/G5RV made the trip - but I had to wait for hours to get my man, sadly these days stumbling upon a "Pile", I might listen for a while, to establish whats going on, I might even make a call - perhaps even call again !  but without getting too excited I'll slink away and crawl back under my stone, to another frequency, Band, or even Mode?!  and quite often in these circumstances worked "Other" DX that was lurking on the side  -  It happens !
The DX code of conduct exists, its just people don't  read it.
DX Code of Conduct

22 Feb 2013

Back again 3rd time lucky

Here we are again, 3rd time lucky in trying to get back into the blog - Various projects on the go here what with the Sdr dongle etc... not entirely working out as I'd thought but it works (sort of) ?!?  I have finally stopped using HRD as my main logging software, and much though I loved the interface/capabilities and the whole suite of programs I just felt it too  cumbersome - I'd always thought it too big so have decided to use MixW  for the Digital stuff - I know I know... it does not include some of the new "Exotic" digi-modes but hey !  I really only need Psk31/63  RTTY  and a liittle bit of "HELL".

I can also still use Mix for general purpose too and I can periodically save to ADIF and import into my main program which is Winlog32,  which I've registered, and  Colin the Author is always quick to respond to "Sensible" queries and of course the project is ongoing - so far all's well and have it set up with both main rigs here FT450D and the TS590S - mixw  now set up and running and has very usful features such as the google lookup and mapping - although qrz lookups are  slow, that apart all appear to be working and its just a question of ME learning to drive it all !!

The big project at the moment is the construction of a  wooden "Tilt over Mast" which has been ongoing for a month, most , if not all timber has been treated with x4 coats of green "Eco" stain,  and will be finished off with two coats of matt varnish.

Some mast construction has already been done,  and the base  hole has been dug,  which is app'x one cubic meter.

(Back withstood the rigors  of bending into the pit, as it was a manual job) ;-))

So we're ready to concrete now,  anyway more on that in a later post where I'll give details and pics.

The idea is to create a simple support for wire antennas which will be easily accessible without the need for ladders and such and the risks involved climbing on roof's etc... (you know what I mean),  and a support for small V/U Beams and verticals.

Also, have been out of the UK for a while so still catching up with "Things"....

 

More to come soon I hope so check in for the updates - Cheers for now..de P

8 Jan 2013

Sma curse

Hello everyone again, new year greetings and all that – this is my first “official” post of this new year 2013 and somehow I felt it was time to enter the fray since I’ve not been on here too much over the last 9 months or so, so here goes.

We have  (I think) seen mention of these cursed things before but I thought it prudent to mention it on here as we were only speaking of them this very morning on a local 2m net

IMG_0260

Above we have an image (albeit a not particularly good one) of two HT’s both of which support this connection, note the bottom Yaesu VX8 is “Femail” and the top one (Wouxun) is “Male”, both these types of connector will NOT withstand much in the way of “usage”, by which I mean continual screwing and unscrewing, or constant pressure being put on the joint, ie: use of heavy coax etc…. when using an external antenna.

This morning I dug out my sma adapter for the Wouxun as I am contemplating doing some work in the “Field” since my renewed interest in 2m, I was just checking out the connector and it all seemed fine until I removed it, the pin must have been ever so slightly off centre and had bent and the pin fell out, luckily this was only the adapter which can be replaced very easily but it just goes to show how flimsy these connectors are, this was not a disaster despite my care and awareness of their frailty, it could have been expensive !  so be extra careful with these – check centre pins and try not to keep removing/replacing them

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