CQHQ

More than just a Ham radio blog.
CQHQ
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Thermopiles, Bibles and the KGB

In the 1970’s we had a family friend who had spent most of the 1960’s as a Christian missionary smuggling bibles in to the Soviet Union. He always told wonderful stories of his adventures and how he travelled extensively behind the Iron Curtain paying his way with Wrangler Jeans and Wriggles Chewing Gum. He had been a member of the Communist Party as a way of appearing a legitimate visitor but that did not stop him from being constantly followed by KGB agents or from finding that every room in every hotel he stayed in was bristling with hidden microphones. Somehow he usually managed to evade his followers and travelled to places where tourist were not supposed to go, to meet his contacts and distribute his contraband. The problem was that avoiding the secret police drew attention to him and after a few near misses, were he was interrogated and then released, he was caught red handed and spent six months in a Siberian Labour Camp. If the tale of his escape is not in a book somewhere it probably should be but it ended with him crossing from East To West Berlin in the boot of a car, where he would have been caught if someone had not chosen that moment to make a run for it.

It was while he was in the Siberian prison camp that he came across a radio receiver powered by a kerosene lamp. He explained that the lamp had what is known as a thermopile which directly converts heat in to electricity. A thermopile is a mass of hundreds or thousands of thermocouple junctions in parallel and series to generate a useful amount of current. A thermocouple works due to the fact that when there is a junction of two dis-similar metals and there is a temperature difference a current flows.

I had no reason to disbelieve him or his amazing stories but for years I wondered if this thing really existed. For some reason after many years it suddenly popped in to my head and the wonders of the Internet let me research the subject. Sure enough there it was a kerosene lamp with a thermopile powering a transistor radio.

Visit this link to find out more.

Site of the year 2009

























Of course its a fake. I can dream can't I?

Friday, 18 December 2009

2010 Radio Rallies

Dates for your diary... 2010 Radio Rallies

17 JANUARY 10amRED ROSEWINTER RALLY

Lowton Civic Centre WA3 2AH, just off the A580 East Lancs Road.

Further details from Steve on 01942 888900

http://www.wmrc.org.uk/

17 JANUARYDOVER AMATEUR RADIO CLUB RALLY

Whitfield Village Hall, Dover CT16 3LY.

http://www.darc.org.uk/

31 JANUARY 10am/10.30amHORNCASTLEWINTER RALLY

Horncastle Youth Centre, Lincolnshire LN9 6DZ. £1.50

Details from Tony, G3ZPU 01507 527835

http://www.blogger.com/G3ZPU@yahoo.co.uk

7 FEBRUARY25TH CANVEY RADIO & ELECTRONICS RALLY

'The Paddocks', Long Road, Canvey Island, Essex

SS8 0JA (southern end of A130). £2,

Dave, G4UVJ, 01268 697978 (evenings).

http://www.southessex.ars.btinternet.co.uk/

14 FEBRUARY 10.15/10.30HARWELL RADIO AND COMPUTING RALLY

Didcot Leisure Centre, Mereland Road,

Didcot OX11 8AY. £2 (under 12s free),

Details on 01235 816379

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/ann.stevens@btinternet.com

http://www.g3pia.org.uk/

14 FEBRUARY 10.15/10.30NORTHERN CROSS RALLY

Ossett School, Storrs Hill Road, Ossett, West Yorkshire WF5 0DG. £3.

http://www.northerncrossrally.org/

21 FEBRUARY 10.30SWANSEA ARS RALLY

Afan Lido (Aquadome), Aberavon seafront, Port Talbot, SA12 6QW,

1 mile from M4 J41 £1.50/50p

Details Roger, GW4HSH, 01792 404422.

28 FEBRUARY RAINHAM RADIO RALLY

Rainham School for Girls, Derwent Way, Rainham. Gillingham.

Kent ME8 0BX. Trevor, G6YLW, 0771 7678 795.

7 MARCH 10.30EXETER RADIO & ELECTRONICS RALLY

America Hall, De la Rue Way, Pinhoe, Exeter, EX4 8PW. £2

Contact Pete G3ZVI, 07714 198374

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/g3zvi@yahoo.co.uk

13 MARCH 09.00 DUTCH NATIONAL RADIO FLEA MARKET

"Autotron", Rosmalen ('s-Hertogenbosch, just off A59 motorway). PI4SHB €6.

Details +31 6 1356 1325,

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/info@radiovlooienmarkt.nl

http://www.radiovlooienmarkt.nl/

20 MARCH 11.30LAGAN VALLEY ARS RALLY

The Village Centre, 7 Ballynahinch Road, Hillsborough.

Contact Jim, GI0DVU, 02892 662270,

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/jim.henry@ntlworld.com

21 MARCH 10:00 – 150025TH WYTHALL RC RADIO AND COMPUTER RALLY

Woodrush Sports Centre, Shawhurst Lane,

Hollywood, near Birmingham B47 5JW

on the A435, 2mi from J3 M42. £1.50

Contact Chris, G0EYO, 07710 412 819

email http://www.blogger.com/g0eyo@blueyonder.co.uk

http://www.wrcrally.co.uk/

21 MARCH 10amCALLINGTON AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY RALLY

Callington Community College, Launceston Road,

Callington, Cornwall PL17 7DR. £2.00

Contact Chris G7UDX, 07973418371

email http://www.blogger.com/g7udz@mac.com

28 MARCH 10amSPRING MILITARIA & ELECTRONICS &

RADIO AMATEUR HANGAR SALE – Hack Green secret

Nuclear Bunker, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 8AP. £2.50

Contact Rod Siebert, 01270 623353

email http://www.blogger.com/coldwatr@hackgreen.co.uk

http://www.hackgreen.co.uk/

11 APRIL 10:45/11:00NORTHERN AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETIES

ASSOCIATION EXHIBITION – Norbreck Castle Exhibition Centre, Blackpool.

Dave Wilson, M0OBW 01270 761 608

http://www.blogger.com/dwilson@btinternet.com

http://www.blogger.com/www.g1gyc.demon.co.uk/narsa

11 APRIL 12 noonLOUGH ERNE AMATEUR RADIO CLUB ANNUAL RALLY

The Share Holiday Village, Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh BT92 0EQ N. Ireland.

Access from Erne/Shannon Waterway.

Details Iain 028 66326693,

email http://www.blogger.com/gibbjgbb@aol.com

http://www.lougherneradioclub.co.uk/

24 APRIL4TH CHESTERFIELD AMATEUR RADIO RALLY

Hasland Village Hall, Eastwood Park, Hasland S41 0AY (M1 j29/30).

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/rally@chesterfieldrally.com

http://www.chesterfieldrally.com/

25 APRIL 09.3026TH YEOVIL QRP CONVENTION

Hall, Hound St, Sherborne, Dorset. Digby Hall adjoins the

Digby central shopping car park.

Robert, 01935 706715

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/robert.farey@btinternet.com

http://www.yeovil-arc.com/

3 MAY 1015 -1030DARTMOOR RADIO RALLY

Tavistock College, Crowndale Rd, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 8DD. OT

Details Peter, M1AYI, 01822 860277

14-16 MAYDAYTON HAMVENTION

Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio, USA.

3 day pass $20/$25 on door

http://www.hamvention.org/

25 – 27 JUNEHAMTRONIC SHOW FRIEDRICHSHAFEN

Messe Friedrichshafen, Germany.

http://www.hamradio-friedrichshafen.de/html/en

27 JUNEWEST OF ENGLAND RADIO RALLY

"Cheese & Grain", Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BE.

Contact Shaun, G8VPG 01225 873 098

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/rallymanager@westrally.org.uk

http://www.westrally.org.uk/

8 AUGUSTFLIGHT REFUELLING ARS HAMFEST

Cobham Sports and Social Club Ground, Merley, Nr.

Wimborne, Dorset BH21 3AA.

Details Mike, M0MJS 01202 883 479

e-mail http://www.blogger.com/hamfest@frars.org.uk

http://www.frars.org.uk/

5 SEPTEMBER 10:30TELFORD HAMFEST

Enginuity Technology Centre, Coalbrookdale, Telford TF8 7DU.

Discounted admission to Enginuity Centre.

Details from Martyn, G3UKV, 01952 255416

http://www.telfordhamfest.co.uk/

1 & 2 OCTOBERRSGB NATIONAL HAMFEST

in association with the Lincoln Short Wave Club.

George Stephenson Pavillion, Newark and

Nottinghamshire Showground, Lincoln Road, Winthorpe,

Newark NG24 2NY (close to junction of A1/A46/A17).

3 OCTOBER 10amAUTUMN MILITARIA & ELECTRONICS &

RADIO AMATEUR HANGAR SALE – Hack Green secret

Nuclear Bunker, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 8AL. £2.50

Contact Rod Siebert, 01270 623353

http://www.blogger.com/coldwatr@hackgreen.co.uk

http://www.hackgreen.co.uk/

8-10 OCTOBERRSGB CONVENTION

http://www.rsgb.org/rsgbconvention

30-31 OCTOBER24th NORTH WALES AMATEUR RADIO SHOW

Llandudno, Ysgol John Bright, Maesdu Road, Llandudno. LL30 1LF

Liz Cabban GW0ETU, 01690 710257

http://www.blogger.com/rally@nwrs.org.uk

http://www.nwrs.org.uk/rally/info.html


This list is available here to download in word format.

If you have any up-dates or additions please let me know by leaving a comment.

Red Roses but no news

The RSGB figure there will be nothing happening between now and the 10th of January and as a result have given their news readers the 27th of December and the 3rd of January off. GB2RS will return on the 10th of January after their final transmission of 2009 on the Sunday 20th.
Never fear though because CQHQ along with great services like those of Southgate ARC Newsline will do the best to keep you up to date with what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

The news GB2RS listeners will be missing includes the first UK radio rally of the year...

On the 17 January the Red Rose Winter Rally takes place at Lowton Civic Centre WA3 2AH, just off the A580 East Lancs Road. Talk In is on S22, Opening Time is 10am.

It should be even better than last year's event at this superb new venue.

All on one level. More traders.
Low cost “Bring & Buy".
Special Interest groups.
Hassle free. Large spacious halls at ground level.
Free car park, disabled facilities.
Really excellent catering
Large, comfortable, social area
Licensed bar

RSGB bookstall

Further details from Steve on 01942 888900
[www.wmrc.org.uk].

500kHz deadline extended

Good news for UK radio amateurs experimenting with the 500kHz band. It was announced on Wednesday 16th December that the period due to expire in February 2010 would be extended until 29 February 2012. RSGB have received confirmation from Ofcom who have been negotiating with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency over the 501-504kHz band and have extended the validity period to 29 February 2012. RSGB General Manager Peter Kirby G0TWW, said “This is another fine example of the RSGB working closely with Ofcom to the benefit of all UK radio amateurs.” Just like they are working with you on the issues of PLA and PLC interference hey Peter?

This announcement has come at a time when there is growing interest in the band from non-coders due to the popularity of using narrow band modes such as WSPR to study propagation. Previously almost all amateur 500kHz traffic has been CW.

The full text of the announcement can be found via the RSGB web site at www.rsgb.org/news/article.php?id=0010, or at www.ofcom.org.uk where you can search for update special research permit.

Kenwood makes it to PsD

Kenwood USA have made it to the mainstream by getting one of their advertisements on the hilarious PsD or Photoshop Disasters Blog. The disembodied hand stands out so obviously that one has to ask 'How could someone create that, and think it was good?' And 'how did someone actually approve it for the brochure?'

To see the PsD post...
Kenwood: The Right to Bare Arms.

To view the original brochure...
Click here! [PDF]

The daft thing is this might actually get Kenwood more publicity than if they had done a proper job.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Mobile Phones Crash Cable TV

BT have making a misery of life for those that enjoy the short waves for some time with their power line adapters now it looks as though O2 are not to be out done and have come up with a way of crashing cable TV set-top boxes using mobile phones so couch potatoes can be just as miserable.


We are told he next generation of mobile phones will be capable of lightning fast speeds and advance features but Long Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G will use the 800mHz band in the UK. 4G is not available in the yet but O2 is currently testing 4G at the LTE Slough testing centre. LTE allows users to connect to the internet at speeds twenty times faster than currently available. The problem lies in the fact that cable TV set-top op boxes operate on a frequency of between 800 to 900 MHz and a 4G mobile phone in the vicinity can cause break up of the picture and sound and even crash the box, which requires turning the box off and on again to reboot. O2 researchers are looking at the problem, but aside from replacing millions of set top boxes or using a different frequency band I think they are on a looser, which is a pity because the advantages of 4G would be most welcome to most mobile Internet users and we do not want it delayed too long or the UK may miss a whole generation of mobile technology.

Source: Various

Fighting talk

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our hobby, to ride out the storm of PLC, and to outlive the menace of PLA, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of the Radio Society of Great Britain - every man of them. That is the will of RSGB and the nation of radio amateurs. The RSGB and all UK radio amateurs linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their RF spectrum, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Power Lines Communications and all the odious apparatus of Power Line adapter, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in the court rooms, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength on the air, we shall defend our hobby, whatever the cost may be,we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Society or a large part of it were subjugated and penniless, then our fellow amateurs beyond the seas, armed and aided by the British amateur community, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the PLC menace, with all its power and might, is resigned to the dustbin of history.

Appologies to Winston Churchill.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Most Wanted DX 2010

From QRZ.com we have more about DX this time from John Ferringtonde VK6HZ/VK6ARI who has created a Most Wanted DXCC for 2010 survey on his website.
The URL is http://dxsurvey.vk6hz.com

He says he has two reasons for the survey.

1. He would like to compare global needs for DXCC against VK needs
2. A statistics assignment for a course he is doing and what better survey to get a decent cross section of the community than a DXCC wanted survey?

The poll is open until March 1st and results will be published on www.vk6hz.com and other DX websites, along with an article for AR magazine here in VK.

Please vote and ask your friends from the DX community to join in and give John some good data.

Who has the biggest DX?


Over at the DX World of Ham Radio it is time to vote for your choice as to the best DX peditions of 2009. You can vote for up to three from a randomised list here.

The one that grabbed my attention was K4M Midway Atol but as I never managed to work any of those listed I will not be voting. Sure I heard quite a few of those in the running but my 100 watts to a wire at 30 feet never cracked the kilo-watts to a seven element beam on the tower at 300 feet boys. It is a pity these great opportunities to work somewhere rare usually turn in to a free-for-all peeing contest. For me a good expedition is one where the calls are managed numerically, alphabetically or by zones. Calling occasionally for QRP marks you almost for sainthood in my book.

"Na na na na. Look my DX is bigger than yours!"

Monday, 14 December 2009

Radio Pirate Finally Sunk


The story of obnoxious spoilt brat 14-year-old Jayhaed Saade and his pirate radio station has had adequate coverage from newspapers and bloggers all over the world and I did not write about it earlier because I did not feel he deserved any more publicity than he had already. Today is different because he has finally done the right thing and shut down his illegal station and that has to be cause for celebration for those in Ottawa who were having their listening pleasure ruined by his stations interference to legal broadcasts. He had ignored two cease-and-desist letters from Industry Canada. The second had warned him he could face a $5,000 fine for each day he remained on the air, but the reason for his final compliance remains a mystery. He had been operating his station out of his fathers hotel and strip club the Sadde Inn. His father, Georges Saade, initially supported his son but later said he and his wife wanted the station turned off. The big question is why his broadcasting has gone on so long when there are so many regulatations.

More about this item at... DigitalHome VA3QV Ottawa Sun

In his Blog Post about this issue Bob VA3QV says "Perhaps its time for Industry Canada to sit down with Canadian Border Services and get on the same page about what Radio Equipment can come legally into Canada so this does not happen again.", but the way I see it whatever radio equipment can come legally into Canada it will not stop pirate stations springing up. As a radio amateur you may have heard of ‘Home Construction’, it is a long lost art amongst us radio amateurs but it is still widely practiced by broadcast pirates. Then there is a plethora of ex licenced station equipment for sale if you know where to look. Grey imports from places like China will always be possible because customs cannot check every single import. Industry Canada (and similar agencies in other countries) need to either be more pro-active in cutting off each of the Hydras heads as they arise or make some legal way for these stations to be licensed for low power local broadcasting. I am in favour of some form of limited licence where all the would be DJs can practice their art away from real broadcast stations and off the local amateur radio repeaters.
For information: The obnoxious rum swilling cut-throat in the picture above is none other than your truly who has been known to terrorise the seven seas in search of booty.

Christmas Humbugs

According to a survey published by Samaritans and YouGov nearly half the UK population (48 percent) has worried this year about debt and money. In addition, almost a quarter of people (23 percent) describe 2009 as a bad or their worst year ever. For me it has not been quite that bad and there have been some real high spots but the last few months have been pretty crumby. Firstly there has been uncertainty at work, which makes you want to hang on to every penny in case the worst happens. Various friends and family members have been in hospital for one reason or another including my mother. So many reasons to wear my black suit that I do not even want to think about it. Then there is the reminder that it is 12 months since a similarly black period last year. Last night my eldest son was in hospital after injuring his knee. He is now on crutches for the festive season and unable to drive. Fortunately his work as a web developer will allow him to work from home, but that is not a situation that can go on indefinitely. It also meant a 100 mile plus round trip to collect his car.

My work pattern over the festive season has been particularly bad. I was working over the weekend and missed the mass return of the Summits on the Air operators as everyone unperturbed by the cold set forth to grab a few Winter Bonus points in what turned out to be a brief bit of winter sun. I am due to work a twelve hour night shift on Christmas eve and another Christmas day so although I am home for the big event most of it will be spent in bed. Previous years we have been put in to a limbo standby state at work and have effectively only been there to fire watch, but an unplanned seven week shutdown means we are working flat out to catch up. I then have a little break and return to work at 7am on New Years Day morning, so an early night and no celebrations for me then. What I will miss most over Christmas will be my brothers and sisters who I only see a couple of times a year because I am working when they are visiting and my Granddaughter's smiles. New Year's eve and way until the early hours I will miss wishing all those old friends and many strangers on the radio "Happy New Year" while getting mildly pickled and eating left over trifle.

So there you have it. It is dark damp and miserable and as an grumpy old fart with nothing to look forward to I should actually be more grumpy than I actually am. I will just take my pleasures and victories where I find them because I know the sun is going to come up tomorrow. Now only if that sun had a few spots!

Todays highlights were Frank K9HMB on 5.4035mHz USB romping through while I munched my special K and later LA1TPA/P on SOTA summit LA/TM-049 Holtankollen 5.3985mHz USB, followed by Richard GW0VMW/P 144mHz FM on two of the three local summits he did today. I also had a ragchew on two FM with my buddy Mike M1DAP. In between I chilled out by watching some recorded TV and freeing up some space on my inadequate SKY+ box. On Jonathan Ross World Champion Formula One Jenson Button came across as much matured and more sensible than I remember and Andre Agassi changed my opinion of him that had been swayed by shock revelations in the news papers. I never was quite enamored by Terry Wogan but he was mildly entertaining but N Dubz, the MOBO-award-winning hip hop group from North West London(North West = N Dubz get it?) , left me wondering what the hell happened to education in this country and wanting to put every drug addled hoodie I see up against the wall to be shot. I watched some other stuff too but the space freeing was all in vain as I found some more films to record that are on while I am in work and then it was off for a few hours sleep before another night shift. Once again I was not visited by Marley's ghost so maybe I am not as big a humbug as I think, but I still fancy putting up the importal words 'Bah Humbug!' in twenty foot high letters at this time of year.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

RTTY Day Welcome

RTTY Welcome Day Cheerleader Phil N8PS announces a RTTY welcome day. A what you ask? Phil tells us that "This event is being held all day on January 1, 2010 to encourage RTTY operation." So you can meet and greet other RTTY operators. There are no hours, no rules, no score, no pressure, no quota, no log needed and you can use any band*,any contact, any time, any power, any equipment, or any antenna. He tells us we can have a short exchange or a rag-chew - whatever suits us. He wants us to help others find joy in RTTY for the first time, or the thousandth time.

Great idea Phil. Now how about we try it on SSB. It's good to talk!

I'm slightly worried at the vision of Phil (pictured above) dressed in his cheerleader's outfit but at least it is not Amateur TV.

If you have not tried RTTY why not try a new mode for a new year?

Remember Hiro if we save the Cheerleader we save the World.

Spectrum is Green for Go

The RSGB have finally decided it is time to come out fighting on the issues of PLA (Power Line Network Adapters) and PLT (Broadband Over Power Line Transmission) by taking legal action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of radio amateurs and other radio spectrum users effected by the horrendous interference most of these devices emit. Ofcom have prove singularly dismissive of the problems preferring to side with the powerful and influential businesses behind the ventures.

The first stage is a fighting fund and in January’s issue of Radcom they announce the formation of the Spectrum Defence Fund. RSGB’s lawyers have suggested the first stage is a judicial review that could cost over £75,000 (I suggest someone missed off a few zeros there) and there is no guarantee of success.

RSGB say that now is the time to stand up and be counted and make it known that we, as a community of radio amateurs and short wave listeners alike are not prepared to accept any level of interference from non-compliant devices. We are looking to our administration, Ofcom, to protect our interests, which is their statutory duty. This is a long-term project and all monies donated will be ring-fenced for those actions alone.

To donate to the Spectrum Defence Fund please make cheques payable to The Spectrum Defence Fund and send them to:
Spectrum Defence,
RSGB,
3 Abbey Court,
Priory Business Park,
Bedford MK44 3WH.

Alternative methods of payment such as PayPal etc will be announced in due course.

The RSGB is appreciative of the efforts and support from Society members, the UKQRM group and its membership, among many others.

You can now donate on-line to the Spectrum Defence Fund at www.rsgb.org/defencefund

Personally I think every one should consider a few things before donating-

The chances of success are going to depend on having the very best legal representation and that costs. A decent barrister probably would not get out of bed for £75,000 and unless both he and the Judge are vaguely familiar with amateur radio the chance of success are minimal. I suspect if we want to win that a final bill no less than two million pounds is quite likely and even then the other parties may appeal. I am in touch with some friends who are involved with what appears to be an open and shut case of criminal negligence and their legal bill is already over £250,000 before they get to court and is no-where near as complex as this case is likely to be. So the question is am I throwing away my money by supporting this project? If we avert this threat will some other damnation spring up in its place? And if we do win who is going to go around and collect all the thousands of PLA devices already out there?
Having said all that we all give buckets full of money away to charities such as Cancer Relief, The Heart Foundation and Famine Relief and none of then have solved their much more important problems. Maybe donating is not about the winning or even about faith in the cause but simply about joining the fight because it is the right thing to do.


I have to say that the Spectrum Defence Fund is a great name but that logo is not very inspiring. If they had used the one from Captain Scarlet I would have been right in there. Tee shirt sales alone could raise enough to fund a dozen court cases.

Launch Angels to intersept enemy jamming devices SIG.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

4x4 Driver Missing

I received this rather worrying email and although I am thousands of miles away I thought I should do what little I can by passing this on to my readers who may be just a little closer and able to help.
Off Road and On the air!

A message to all members of 4X4 Ham Radio Operators

URGENT – Offroader missing – Jay Lafontaine Bryan has been missing since last week. If you can, please help post this and pass this around or on other forums. He was last seen driving from Boomtown nevada to Death Valley on 11/27, driving a Jeep Rubicon – black, no doors.

Additional info on the link below. http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2750358620050172860AuTWpy

Visit 4X4 Ham Radio Operators at: http://4×4ham.ning.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Look Mam no hands!

Driving while distracted has been a regular topic of conversation amongst amateurs all around the world recently as more and more countries bring in legislation to clamp down on the number of motor vehicle accidents caused by mobile telephone users. Radio amateurs in some countries have been caught up in the legislation while some others have been left in limbo due to grey areas, which leave them unsure of their position when operating mobile transmitting equipment. In the UK radio hams using two-way radio are specifically exempted to the law that bans the use of mobile phones, but try explaining that to the nice PC Plod when he stops you. Even so we are in an almost unique position and it would be nice to think we could at least maintain that position and not have more restrictions placed upon us. Unfortunately lead by white van and taxi drivers the numbers of people openly using their hand held mobile phones while driving is even higher in the UK than before the restrictions were brought in. According to the Times on Line during the last twelve months more than 14,000 people were observed in London alone. A 2006 survey showed 2.6% of drivers used a mobile phone while driving, the implementation of restrictions brought that figure down to 1.4% but this year’s figures indicate 2.8% of us are flouting the law. The have been calls for higher fines, automatic driving bans and tougher regulations, including the banning of hands-free devices.

It was my hope that the previous legislation would have lead to a plethora of cheap hands-free equipment being available for use with two-way radio equipment and that manufacturers of mobile amateur radio equipment would have grabbed the bull by the horns, neither of these things has happened yet. Yaesu has one Blue Tooth enabled mobile rig and Waters and Stanton sell an add-on device that costs almost as much as a radio itself. It appears that like the general public manufacturing is not taking this problem seriously, not that government are backing up their rules either by enforcement or perhaps forcing all new cars to have hands-free connect capability. I suspect law enforcement feel that they have more important things worry about and a lot of them do not like the idea for booking someone for something very similar to what they were doing 30 seconds before they full them.

Personally I do not feel any more distracted by talking on amateur radio when driving than talking to someone in the car or listening to music or a pod-cast so I do not feel any further restrictions are necessary, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed before Mother State uses a sledge hammer to crack an egg once more. We need better hands free devices for our ham kit because what is on sale now is at best inadequate and we need the manufactures to respond by fitting hands-free connections to all mobile two-way equipment including amateur gear. Car manufactures should respond by Blue Tooth (or similar) enabling every car they sell.

I have Blue Tooth capability in my Land Rover Discovery and via a Tom Tom sat nav in my Vauxhall Corsa and the convenience and safety of being able to take a call with the push of one button compared to fumbling in a pocket, flipping open the phone and then trying to press the ‘accept’ button before the other party hangs up makes not having hands-free a real no brainer. Now if only it was so simple to link in my ham gear as well.

“I know the audio is low. There is a cop car behind and the mic is on my knee. Hold on, it’s okay he pulled some guy blogging on his Iphone.”

Thursday, 10 December 2009

First Time Travellers Arrive in Norway

Several sites on the net have similar images to this taken in the early morning over Norway. Some people are speculating that it was caused by the malfunction on a Russian rocket launch while most are calling it a Photoshopped hoax. We can exclusively reveal that it is a quantum vortex caused by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and was formed when time travellers from the future were able to latch on to one of the tiny black holes created in the experiment and form a worm hole. The blue swirling line is a quantum eddy in the fabric of space caused when the time ship entered through the vortex in to our time line. The time travellers tell me that the only known after effect reported in the future was that during Wednesday 13th January 2010 a cat in Norway was killed by a car and was seen to be walking away from the accident at the same time. The owner of the cat a Mr Schrodinger will refuse to comment on the incident.

Maybe I have been watching to much Sci-Fi or maybe not. Read more at Space Weather.com

UK Goverment ignores PLT problems

Many of my UK readers will have signed the petition at
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/SaveShortwave2/
asking the Prime Minister to "require the relevant regulatory authority namely Ofcom to take active and speedy measures to test samples of all makes and types of PLT device and to remove from the UK market all those devices where the sample is found to be non compliant with the requirements of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2006. And to take all practicable and necessary steps to prevent anyone placing non compliant PLT devices on the UK market now and in the future. The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Ofcom are familiar with these devices they being widely distributed by a national communications supplier, various high street stores and on the Internet. These devices are used to transfer electronic data via domestic electrical household wiring and the techniques involved in typical use result in harmful interference to short wave radio reception."

Gordon Brown in charge of 10 Downing Street! More like 10 Drowning Sheep. However the Prime Minister's Office has responded to that petition with its typical complete disregard for the problem and you can view it he http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page21654 or read it below.

Thank you for the E-petition about testing Power Line Technology (PLT) equipment.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills is responsible for the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Regulations 2006. Enforcement powers are delegated to local Trading Standards offices and to the Regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), where there is a radio spectrum protection or management issue. Ofcom is the body responsible for the management of the civil radio spectrum in the UK.

In the last twelve months Ofcom have received 143 individual PLT interference complaints about inability to receive radio transmissions in the High Frequency (HF) band (3 to 30MHz). Of these, 121 have been investigated and referred to the apparatus supplier who has resolved 104. The solutions employed include replacing the apparatus, hard wiring and conventional wireless alternatives.

As a result of the Regulator’s investigations which found no breach of the EMC requirements, Ofcom decided against taking further enforcement action at this time. Ofcom is therefore working to reduce any negative effects in individual cases with BT, the largest supplier, and with Comtrend UK Ltd, which supplies the apparatus as part of the BT Vision package. Further information about PLT and Ofcom may be found on their website:

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/ifi/enforcement/plt/

On the available evidence, we do not believe an outright ban of all powerline equipment is justified.

Ofcom can provide advice and assistance to those who complain of interference with radio communications equipment. Any individuals who wish to report specific cases of interference that may be caused by PLT apparatus, or any other source, should contact Ofcom’s Advisory Team on 0300 123 3333 for further assistance.

You may wish to visit http://www.ukqrm.org/ to find more about the threat to the amateur radio spectrum.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Paper batteries

One of the biggest things holding back electronic technology is battery technology but the pressure is on and new ideas are starting to emerge. The latest of these uses normal copier paper coated with an "ink" made from tiny carbon nano tubes and silver nano wires. The fibre in the paper acts as a skeleton on which to hold the nano carbon and it is then soaked in ionic liquid electrolytes, such as a lithium solution. Stanford University scientists have demonstrated a postage stamp sized battery with enough power to light a small bulb. The exciting thing is the possibility for cheap and fairly light batteries that could be produced by using a convention printing press, which is a fairly low-tech solution compared to most other emerging cell technologies. With pressure from the makers of laptop computers and mobile phones plus the hybrid car market the future looks bright for the scientist behind this idea. Other ideas are being investigated such as using cloth instead of paper and a version that uses blood as the electrolyte, which could power things like pace-makers or other life saving devices.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The cracking Elecraft K3

Keith GW4OKT has just returned from working in Sakhalin Island where he never managed to persuade the authorities to issue him a reciprocal licence. So unable to transmit he spent some time building first an Elecraft K2 and more recently a K3, which he tells me is nearly finished. I have thought for some time what a cracking bit of kit the Elecraft K3 is but an item over on Julian G4ILO’s Blog explains that cracking piece of kit now has a different meaning. Julian tell us that the knobs on the K3 are made entirely from plastic or some compound material and do not have a brass insert, so they are very vulnerable to over-tightening. According to Elecraft, the manufacturer of the knobs made a bad batch that was rather brittle. They are now making the knobs with a much tougher composition and these were sent to all those affected and are being fitted on all newer K3s. He goes on to say, “That should have been the end of the matter, but every now and again another incidence of cracked knobs is reported.” Hopefully Keith and others building K3s in future will not have to experience their knobs cracking and falling off, but if they do maybe it would be better to look for better quality items than Elecraft provide. They could do worse than looking for ex-equipment alternatives, which have by definition survived longer than the dodgy batch of knobs. Which brings me back to the previous item I wrote, so how about a Steampunk K3 with nice Bakelite knobs?

Update: Now Julian's knob is cracking too. Now I've Cracked-Up

Steampunk Radio

I was watching an item on BBC television about the rise of a fashion phenomenon know as ‘Steampunk’, which is an offshoot of Cyberpunk and Goth styles. Steampunkers tend to dress in Victorian clothes adorn themselves with gadgets styled as if from the science fiction of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and H.G. Well’s Time Machine. I was extremely taken with the beauty of the gadgets with their polished wood and brass, but it was the glowing valves that really took my eye. However much as I might find it fun to dress in tailcoat and top hat I know I am somewhat past what might be considered an acceptable age for such satirical elegance but there is definitely a spark of yearning inside that wants to Steampunk something. The attraction is possibly because it was the glowing valves within the polished wood and brass of our old radios and radiograms that attracted me, as a child, to radio in the first place. Then later when I got into amateur radio and first sat in a friend’s radio shack with the warm light and the smell as the valves heating up, while we chased one drifting oscillator with another drifting oscillator.

Old radios were quite often at least a piece of furniture and sometimes verged on being ‘art nouveau’, compare that to the stark functionality of today’s plastic and steel. There is a certain beauty in the simplicity of modern designs, but where are the purely decorative swirls and flourishes. Maybe there is room for amateur radio equipment that looks as attractive as furniture with modern functionality, but I cannot see it getting mainstream, more is the pity. So I sit here and think that maybe I could build a Steampunk PC because there are plenty of people who have done that and I could easily modify their designs but as far as I know no one has done it with an FT-817. There is probably little chance of me actually doing it but I can see a Walnut case with brass scrollwork decoration with the rig hidden inside and the Bakelite controls under a flip up lid with the valves of the linear and coils of the tuner visible through a glass porthole. Oh well back to looking at pictures on the Interweb!

There is one kit that almost goes some way to having the look I desire, unfortunately it is only a receiver. Have a look here.

CQHQ-4


CQHQ-4, originally uploaded by GW7AAV - Steve.

If CQHQ was a magazine. Issue 4

A test post from flickr to this blog and Twitter.

Reinventing the wheel

Sometimes reinventing the wheel is the right thing to do, take the radial tire for instance, but most of the time it is done through ignorance and an inability to research why things were done the way they are in the first place. Every now and again I read or hear something on the air that makes me cringe or simply shake my head in disbelief. Recent cases in point are experiments with horizontal FM, a two metres AM experiment, trying to generate a revival in Packet Radio and various people building antennas that are well know to be useless or near impossible to get working. I also heard of someone spending a massive amount of money on equipment and antennas to do something that I know defies the laws of probability if not those of physics. What is it that make some people deny what has gone before and have to fail for themselves before they will believe? With the Internet generating almost as much misinformation as information will future generations have to reinvent every time they want to achieve something? Are the odd cases of amateurs trying to reinvent the wheel simply a reflection of evolution in action as humanity responds to a misinformation overload?

Rumors Of Demise Exaggerated


The none event of the day has to be the news from various sources that rumours of Icom ceasing production of the IC-706 have been just that, rumours. It all started with this article over at Southgate ARC News and it may have begun because Icom Australia may no longer be importing the rig.

When I saw today's denial I just wanted to jump up and down and shout "I told you so!", but although I said as much to my buddies on air I did not publish anything as I did not have the evidence to back it up my theory when this rumour started circulating. We had the same rumour circulating when the IC-7000 came out and then again a couple of years later. It is perhaps surprising that the IC-706 is still being produced twelve or so years on but maybe that is because it is a direct competitor for the Yaesu FT-857 were as the 7000 is considerably more expensive. When Yaesu replace the 857 I would expect Icom to ditch the 706, but I believe both rigs still have a few years in them yet.

I have an IC-706mkIIG in the shack and a couple of Yaesu FT-857D for using mobile and portable and have found then excellent rigs. I have used an IC-7000 from time to time and I would have any of these radios in my armoury.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Shiny Appy People

If there is one thing guaranteed to generate a myriad of opposing opinions it is the Windows vs Linux debate. I recently spent half a day trying to get access to Shackbox, a Linux distribution aimed at radio amateurs, and another half a day downloading and writing it to a DVD. I then spent four hours trying to get it to install both from the created 'live DVD' and as a proper install with no luck. Plain Umbuntu 9.1 was a breeze much easier than Windows and faster, I even have a live version on a USB pen drive. However although my heart wants to wave the pirate flag (or should that be penguin flag) I know almost nothing I want to do can be done on the Linux machine without an immense outlay in both time and money simply to replace the programs I already have for Windows.

Unfortunately Microsoft keep moving the goalposts and I have ended up with multiple machines running different versions of Windows just so I can keep running my favourite software. With Windows 7 there appears to be a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. My son is a web developer and has been using the betas of Win7 for a while now and has recently had a full 'Ultimate' version installed on one of his machines. He has been most impressed with the Microsoft Virtual Machine which allows other operating systems to be installed and run as a virtual PC. Some Windows 95 & 98 programs apparently run faster and are more stable in the VM environment than they ever were on a dedicated machine. The idea of VM is that developers can test their products under different operating systems before releasing them in to the wild, but for those who want the best of all worlds it gives us the opportunity to keep using those old programs without having half a dozen obsolete machines hanging around for the purpose.

For those of you who already have a Windows 7 or Vista machine there is a new ham radio gadget out. It is a simple gadget for propagation and searching QRZ and can be found on the gadget site http://gallery.live.com/LiveItemDeta...e-0993d61b3bca I have to say I do not really like gadgets and task bars cluttering up my desktop and I find the style somewhat dated but it is quite useful. What is it about ham applications that most of them look like they were designed to run under Windows 3.1? Are we hams not 'Shiny Appy People'?

Monday, 30 November 2009

My month in review

It has been a strange sort of month for me with my quietest time on the air since July 2005 and yet some really pleasing contacts in the log. The weather does its best to depress me, being almost constantly dark and wet. Work has been slow, we had a supposed one week shut-down that turned in to a slow six weeks lurching from one disaster to the next. However despite long periods on inactivity while awaiting parts and repairs I have worked more hours than would care to due to sickness, jury service and family bereavements amongst my collogues. Quiet twelve hour night shifts would normally be welcome but they do tend to drag and you get on to that slippery slope of the less you do, the less you want to do. The problem is you bring that feeling home with you and just want to slump on the couch and slob out. I do not watch much television but I have freed up 50% of the space on my 'Sky Plus' HDD this month. I would rather be talking on the radio but when I do get on the air my conversation has been somewhat uninspired of late. Even this weblog has been silent for over a week with nothing I have seen, heard or read managing to inspire me.
I have had other things going on to keep me off the air such as my mother spending some time in hospital and me visiting to check up she is okay since she got home. I have also been busy organising the Mold and District Amateur Radio Clubs Christmas Dinner, which might have been easier if I had not been working nights for our last meeting or if everyone had replied to the emails I sent. I finally sorted out the clubs call GC0HRG/GW0HRG with OFCOM nearly a year after our founder and president Eddie Hewins BEM GW3GSJ passed away and we now have both a workable facility and the license to use it.
My band of choice this month has to be 5mHz with lots of new LA (Norway) calls in the log and a handful of new US states, but the prize contact has to be Octavio YN2N (Nicaragua). There was one that had me kicking myself for letting him get away and that was Juilen 9Z4FZ (Trinidad and Tobago) who was booming in on 5.4035 mHz. I let everyone else work him while I finished an email, but when I called he had either gone QRT or the propagation died. Apparently he is on every Sunday night at 00:00z but that was the first time I heard him. Maybe next Sunday?
Tomorrow is at least the start of the SOTA winter bonus period so chance of some much needed activity on that front. If the weather is half decent I may even get out on the local two pointers myself and that should boost both the number of contacts in my log and my mood.
Even if getting out on the hills improves my mood it will not last. I am working twelve hour nights Christmas eve and Christmas day and just to rub my nose in it I start back New Years Day morning. Oh Joy! Maybe I will spend the extra payments on a new rig to cheer me up. Bah Humbug!
I probably would have been even more of a Humbug this Sunday as Flintshire Raynet are in Mold for a 'Santa Dash' but I am working so cannot attend. Maybe I am the only one who does not see the relevance of a fat guy whose name is an anagram of Satan propagating greed and consumerism amongst our children at Christmas, but I am sure my shouting "Get back to hell and take all those credit card bills with you!" or "I hope you have all been Police checked!" through a loud hailer would have gone down like a lead balloon. I might not appreciate the loonies running in their Santa outfits but they are all doing it for a good cause and this one is to raise money for both Nightingale House Hospice and St. Kentigerns Hospice in Denbighshire so good luck to them.
My best news of the Month is that my Land Rover Discovery had a recall for the dodgy brakes and it now actually stops. The Discovery MkIII has been renown for its brakes that sometimes did not work. I know several people who bought one only for them to get rid quick after a scary moment and one guy that ploughed his in to another car in a traffic queue at very low speed but wrote off both vehicles. He had it less than a month. Land Rover have been denying there was a problem ever since the MKIII came out but suddenly years later with the MKIV suffering the same problem we get a recall. I love this car to bits. If I didn't it would have gone the first time I almost didn't stop. Now I love it even more. If only I could get the ATAS working properly so I could work mobile HF on my Yaesu FT-857D I would be ecstatic, but the roof is almost all glass and there is next to no ground plain so I cannot get it to tune.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Random comments and news

Last night I took advantage of clear skies and watched the International Space Station fly over. I was in work so no telescope or binoculars but it was quite easily visible to the naked eye and for probably about three minutes. I just so wanted to be up there playing radio. Imagine how many people you could make happy with a quick QSO on 2 metres. I remember in my early teens lying in a field watching Skylab orbiting past every few hours and years later hearing a local amateur make a two way contact with an astronaut.

The Large Hadron Collider is up and running again after 14 months, which must be a big relief for those involved. I find this exciting but a little worried. I think it is unlikely that a black hole will be created and we will all be sucked in to oblivion as some suggest, what worries me is what the final outcome will be. Science only wanted to know what would happen when the atom was split but result was the atomic bomb. "I am become Death destroyer of worlds" said J. Robert Oppenheimer when he saw the result of his handiwork.

Belgium Radio Amateurs now have access to a tiny allocation at 4 metres. Class A holders in Belgium have access to 69.950MHz (+/- 5kHz) with 10W EIRP on a non-interference basis. Those Amateurs that wish to use this frequency must first inform their regulator the BIPT.
While this is nothing to get excited about at least it is a start, hopefully a more extensive allocation will follow sooner or later. UK amateurs will just have to wait or work split frequency with Belguim as their allocation is out of band to us and vice versa.

Martin Lynch & Sons will be holding their annual Open Day on 5 December from 8am to 4pm.

Sunspot activity seems to be increasing steadily of late and HF band conditions seem to be edging out of the doldrums. Activity on 5mHz has been up as a result on the Norweigians on the band during the day and some good night time openings to the US. I almost doubled my worked all state total for 5mHz in one night recently.

With all the rain here recently I keep thinking I should try 10GHz as a rainscatter is useful propagation method on that band. There are some good videos on YouTube of this type of propagation in action but I cannot get on to get the links just now. While you are on YouTube search for Leonids Meteor Shower too.

SOTA & Ham Radio in the News

Richard G3CWI is the guy who a lot of you may know as the brains behind SOTABeams the manufacturer and supplier of lightweight amateur radio products for portable HF and VHF operation and G3CWI's Amazing Online Flea Market which allows hams to buy and sell their used equipment.
Richard recently became the first person to activate all the English Hills in the Summits on The Air program by making a minimum of four unique QSOs from each summit. Operating from a total of 178 summits often under difficult weather conditions to achieve his goal. Not that Richard is content to stop there as he has activated from a considerable number of summits in Wales and Scotland as well and has done a lot of hills multiple times on all sorts of bands up on frequencies up in to the microwaves. He has now got some worthwhile publicity for Amateur Radio in his local newspaper the Macclesfield Express, which printed a picture of him on a summit and described his achievement.
Well done Richard and thanks for bringing the hobby to the attention of a wider audience. Now instead of being asked what we are doing on the hills around Macc everyone will ask "Are you that SOTA guy?"

WSPR 2.0 - Propagation Tool

WSPR (Whisper) stands for 'Weak Signal Propagation Reporter' and I seem to have heard a lot of people talking about it recently. I must admit to not having the slightest bit of interest in it, thinking that it was "just another digi-mode" and "why do we need another digi-mode?", but that was before I read up on it.

Joe Taylor K1JT has released version 2.0 of WSPR and so it is cropping up on blogs and as news items everywhere. It looks like an interesting tool and so I thought to myself I would download the program and see what all the fuss is about. I have not got it up and running yet so I cannot really comment other than to say follow the links and do some reading.

My plan is to use my Yaesu FT-817 as I already have the data cables, this mode as it only requires minimum power and my 817 is usually sat idle in between SOTA activations and Raynet exercises. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I can let you know how I am getting on.

WSPR 2.0 is available for Ubuntu Linux (versions 8.10 and later), Debian 5.03, and other Debian-based 32-bit Linux distributions as well as Windows and I believe it is possible to download and compile the source code for other operating systems including Mac OS.

WSPR 2.0 can be downloaded from
http://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/wspr.html

WSPRnet
http://wsprnet.org/

Note: I found the download link extremely slow until I set my browser to text only and it came up instantly. The actual download was no problem.

BLP - Death Looms

When I read what follows at Southgate ARC news I just wanted to yell "Hurray!" I am sure the Manassas radio amateurs will want to join me and breath a big sigh of relief.

Manassas VA to pull the plug on BPL

The Manassas City Council is saying goodbye to BPL.

Inside Northern Virginia reports that the council is in the process of deciding whether to abandon its broadband over power line project now, or to let it die at the end of the city's fiscal year.
BPL was Manassas' attempt to bring the Internet into the homes of every resident by providing a low-cost broadband service. Subscribers were told that they could access the Internet through the regular electrical outlets, but for a number of reasons it never caught on with the public.


First, the connection proved to be slower than cable or DSL. It was expensive to maintain and caused massive reception interference to those using the spectrum it shared. This included the Manassas ham radio community which was highly vocal in its opposition.

The end result was that the project only garnered about 670 subscribers while costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in ongoing maintenance. It also faced a strong challenge from Comcast cable which claims the potential to serve the entire city, and Verizon which has rapidly been expanding its FIOS service in the Manassas area.

And now like a bad dream it will shortly be fading away.


This is what we have been longing to hear and I am hopefully this is the first in a long line of similar stories that will chronicle the death throws of this spawn of Satan that is BPL.

Monday, 16 November 2009

SOTA introduces new awards

SOTA
A new award for SOTA chasers has been announced by the Summits on the Air Management Team, called the Mountain Hunter Award. It was announced today by Barry GM4TOE The SOTA Awards Manager on the reflector to complement the award recently announced for Activators (I think I missed that one!).

The ultimate award is to encourage a Chaser to Work All Associations (this does require the use of HF and is not practicable on VHF without moonbounce!) but we also wanted to encourage VHF/UHF operations and so have also introduced an award that requires qualifying contacts on 70MHz and above only. The award is NOT points based like the existing awards but relies on valid contacts between Chasers and Activators on a qualifying number of summits in a number of Associations.

It is feasible at present for a Europe based Chaser to work 24 Associations on VHF with the possibility of 7 more in the offing. We have Associations on 4 continents at present and there is the possibility of Australasia joining in the future.

Both African and Asian Associations have a rarity value so this might encourage activity from them or persuade other countries to join the scheme (Who is up for Activation from the High Atlas?). It is recognised that the VHF award is very Europe biased but it is foreseen that the USA /Canada associations will, very shortly, be able to qualify for the entry level VHF qualification. It should be noted that, although Europe does not have the 1.25m and 33cm bands, this does not prevent those countries with these bands from using them.

The inclusion of the requirement to work some intercontinental associations (for the all bands award) does make this award different from the existing Chaser awards and will run in parallel to the existing Chaser awards; by introducing the requirement (except at the entry level) to work other continents this award should encourage activators in less active associations to operate as there will be demand from chasers for the rarer associations.

a) VHF (70MHz and above) Award

Hunter should contact at least 2 different summits in each of 5 associations using just VHF/UHF any mode.

Endorsement for UHF only qualification (430MHz and above)

Steps of 5 Associations for each award: 10, 15, 20, etc

Level/ No. Associations/ Min. no. of summits
1 /5/ 2 per association
2 /10 /3 per additional association
3 /15 /4 per additional association
4 /20+/ 4 per additional association

b) All bands Award

Hunter should contact at least 2 different summits in each of 5 associations The higher level awards require that at least one association claimed is on a different continent from the claimant’s normal residential QTH. Level 1 can be claimed with contacts only on the claimant’s own continent (1 continent); higher level awards require intercontinental contacts.

Endorsement for all 50MHz qualification

Steps of 5 Associations for each award: 10 (including 2 continents), 15 (including 2 continents), 20 (and 3 continents),

Worked all Associations

Level No./ Associations/ Continents /Minimum no. of summits
1/ 5 /1 /2 per association
2 /10 /2/ 3 per additional association
3 /15 /2 /3 per additional association
4 /20 /3 /4 per additional association
5/ WAA/ 4 or 5 /4 per additional association

The Award will be issued from January 2010 and summits may be claimed retrospectively (you do not have to start over; summits previously chased under the programme will qualify). Each claim must be registered on the SOTA database in the normal way and a new filter will be incorporated onto the database to track progress and allow checking of activators’ claims.

This award will be certificate based as with the Activator award however the MT would like to consider the possibility of producing a trophy for the Worked All Association award. Several suggestions have been made and we will seek input from participants to determine the level of interest in producing a suitable item.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

End of the World - Be prepared

On Saturday 14 November 1800-2200 UTC on or near the emergency centre of activity frequencies on the 80, 40, 20, 17 and 15 metre bands more than 200 stations representing IARU member societies and Emergency Communications Groups in 45 countries around the world took part in the latest Global Simulated Emergency Test. GlobalSET provides an opportunity to demonstrate the provision of communications across national borders, test the emergency centre of activity frequencies, create practices for international emergency communications and the relaying of messages.

I was unable to listen or take part in what was going on as I was working but I am sure plenty will be written about the success or otherwise of the event. What I would like to know is what exactly might constitute a global emergency? An asteroid strike, a large volcanic event, an alien invasion, the Cern Large Hadron Collider sucking Switzerland into a black hole or what? I just hope I am not around if any of these things happen, but I am keeping my batteries charged in case, maybe you should do the same.

Is the future of printed mags numbered?

Bob VA3QV has been questioning how printed matter can keep up with the Internet or if it is approaching the end of its usefulness. Bob points out that the latest issue of The Canadian Amateur Magazine was out of date way before it dropped on the doormat. The TCA shows two Directors (Ontario South and Quebec) being acclaimed to their next terms when in effect they resigned their positions at the end of October in support of the President who also resigned. He goes on to say "No ones fault, just an example of how the print media can no longer keep up." Bob received his copy on the 12th November and says what was written there was the talk of the amateur community two months ago and he has just three days to send his comments in to make the next issue. Therefore what is discussed is likely to be up to six months too late.

In the UK at least RadCom drops through the door every month, but I find the same problem, that most news is old news, which in a lot of cases has been done to death way before we see it in print. I do not really care for my national societies magazine prefering the style of other amateur radio magazines but as a former printer I have a soft spot for printed matter and would hate to see it disapear. What does the future hold, will we be reading our radio publications on a mobile phone or Kindle or will blogs like CQHQ toll the death nell?

G0VBC - The Kite Runner

Another station in my log today was G0VBC who was operating portable on 5mHz from a field not far from his home in Wolverhampton using a kite to support an inverted vee antenna. His signals were good to excellent until the wind dropped when he would disappear for a short while. I have always wanted to try a kite to support a vertical but never thought about using it with an inverted vee. I would have thought having two wires and the feeder hanging from the kite along with the flying line would be a recipe for disaster but 'Mashoo' seems to have got it sussed, by having a lanyard on the kite he can raise, lower and change antennas without bringing the kite back down to earth. Have a look at Mashoo.org.uk which is interesting but written in a hard to read white on black and in lower case. He says he will update the site shortly based on todays tests. For more information on kite antennas also look at G4VGO's balloon and kite antenna site here.

Update thanks to Graham GW0HUS for this link to G4ROJ's kite aerials
Update 2 G0VBC's details of the antenna including modelling data

Norwegian Radio Museum

In between SOTA activations there has been lots of Norwegian activity on 60 metres (5mHz) and it was my pleasure to once again work Per LA1TNA but this time he was operating as LA1ASK from a radio museum in the old LKB Bergen Kringkaster, which is the former NRK(Norsk Rikskringkasting) AM(LW/MW) broadcasting station for Bergen. Its QTH is near the village of Erdal on Askoey Island EU-055 north of Bergen, locator JP20OK. The website is well worth a look with lots of photographs of the broadcasting equipment and more. The Telefunken broadcasting transmitter of 20 kW was built in 1935 and is the only remaining Telefunken transmitter (complete) of this type in the world. There is also a 1kW Marconi transmitter from the 30's and loads of old military and domestic radio gear. It looks like being worth a visit if you are ever in Norway.

SOTA a victim of success?

Those who read this weblog regularly will know Summits on the Air is my main passion and while I occasionally get the chance to wander in the hills with my radios, I spend far more time running in and out of the shack at home working other activators. Today I was up earlier than I expected after working a twelve-hour night shift and no doubt I will be flagging about 3am as a result. I was up just in time to work Andy MA0FMF/P (5mHz) on a previously un-activated South Scotland summit Meall na Fearna GM/SS-035, which made it all worthwhile. Still on 5mHz I worked Walt G3NYY/P up on Hegdon Hill G/WB-023 in the Welsh Boarders and on 80 metres I got Geoff 2E0BTR/P on Bryn y Fan GW/MW-018 in Mid-Wales and Steve G1INK/P on Hoove G/NP-024 in North Pennines. That was a total of eight chaser points, which for me on a weekend is a poor show, but that was due to my working/sleeping pattern because looking at the spots page there had been 46 spots today and 90 for the weekend. Bearing in mind we are in what might be considered the SOTA doldrums, a period between the good weather and the winter bonus that does not seem too shabby.

On Saturday there were stations on from Canadian and US summits and although I never heard anything of them they created quite a stir. My buddy Mike GW0DSP managed to work one of the Canadian stations on 20m CW and was as pleased as punch to get his first VA SOTA. Richard G0IBE/P on Bredon Hill G/CE-003 managed an SSB summit-to-summit contact with K1YMI/P on Crane Mountain W2/GA-044 not bad with both stations running 5w with Richard giving 4/1 and receiving a 5/3 report in return. Lets hope the activity stirs up more interest in the Americas.

There is a worry that SOTA is becoming a victim of its own success with complaints on the reflector of the animalistic scrambles reminiscent of rare DX expeditions on the CW portion of 40 metres. Yesterday I waited patiently for the pile up to disperse in order to work an Austrian activator on 40 metres SSB, it took 45 minutes before I even bothered calling. If this had been a busy SOTA weekend I might have given up in order to work another station. As an activator I would relish the attention and I love the chance to fill the logbook but for the chaser the nice gentlemanly round of familiar call signs waiting for their turn is turning in to a bit of a melee. What somewhat worries me is that propagation is still poor, so what happens when it eventually comes good? I suspect then SOTA will hit new heights and the pile-ups will see stations closing down with callers still waiting, after all is considered you can only spend so long on a cold windy mountain.