Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Over on the Greek Summits on the Air Forum their has been some interest in amateur radio applications for the iPhone. You could say "it is all Greek to me" and it is, but Google Translate does a reasonable job of what Panos, SV1COX has found. Most of it might be useful to the SOTA operator or any other radio amateur who happens to own an iPhone (counts me out then!). Have a look here for a translated version or here for the Greek version.
Additionally Panos has now discovered i-PSK31 for portable PSK. On sale for only 1.59Euro.
Unfortunately some of the apps require the phone to be hacked or 'Jailbroken'.
Saturday, 26 September 2009
This hilarious video must have taken quite a bit of work. It is probably more humorous to those of us who know the voices included. I do have two minds as to if I should be linking to it as I find it somewhat cruel and I suspect the person behind it is probably one of music playing jammers on the repeaters that the recordings have been made from such as the much abused GB3MM. The video appeared on YouTube courtesy of someone known as Rayfox62. Rayfox appears to be Raymond Ashworth 2E0RFX from Rochdale in Lancashire.
I have to admit a little tinge of a guilty conscience as being one of many who started out with every intention of sending log reports in to the experiment. When I received my NoV in December 2005 I even started to keep separate logbooks both on computer and on paper. However like most people I soon became disillusioned with the requested SINPO reporting. It was alien and clumsy and every one’s interpretation seemed to be different for everything other than the signal part. Even the S part of SINPO is not an accurate indication of anything as the signal strengths shown on different transceivers varied even in my own shack on the same antenna. More often than not QSB caused by NVIS and ground-wave signals arriving in and then out of phase made reporting very difficult as I sometimes would work a station that was full scale and Q5 only for them to fade to unworkable on their next transmission. Often QSB was so severe getting a SIMPO back and forth proved difficult. When the reporting station was a QRP station it could often be heard struggling. Most of use quickly reverted to the reporting system we knew and usually gave reports indicating the best signal and strength heard adding “with QSB.” I still tried to log a SINPO for a while but found that often I was still trying to work out what to write down when the next station called CQ. I guess if every one else had kept it up I would have too, but it became a chore.
My own interest being antennas and portable working I constructed a resonant dipole for the band. I started with an inverted vee and tried mounting it in various configurations and at different heights. Eventually I settled for a straight dipole strung at about thirty feet. When out portable I would use a linked dipole with links for 80/60/40/20 and 10metres in an inverted vee formation. Occasionally I would use a convenient fence post as a place to mount my antennas and very soon realised that when I did this was when I got my best crop of contacts. This led to me trying a reflector beneath my dipole at home which appeared to improve both my reception and transmitted signals. This reflector was in the form of a length of steel washing line 10% longer than the resonant dipole at around 6 feet which kept the XYL happy as she could still hang washing on it. I tried a ground-mounted reflector and found little difference to the washing line. Unfortunately I have no data that shows it worked any worse with the washing on wet or dry.
One further effect I noticed while out portable was the effect of the proximity of the ground to the ends of the dipole. Three feet seemed to be the minimum height and was usually achieved by the use of my walking poles, any lower and I would struggle to hear or be heard. This was just as true when using 2.5 watts from my FT-817 and running 60 watts or more from my FT-857.
The result of the 5mHz experiment has for me been a most interesting journey teaching me more about radio in the last four years than probably since I studied for my Radio Amateurs Exam. My own experiments coupled with a more interesting class of discussion as heard on the band have made the experience well worth the time and effort of modifying radios and building antennas. I still have not got around to trying some of the things I want to such as trying a full wave loop or making a vehicle mounted NVIS antenna. It has possibly made me a little unpopular with one or two stations due to my contention that certain antennas are not worth the wire they are made of. As I see it a quiet antenna is a deaf antenna and a poor radiator. Sometimes using a quiet antenna (none resonant) is useful for listening on as the noise to signal ratio is better. For example: I might have S7+ noise at my QTH on 60m and a station might be S8 but because of the noise he is unreadable. By listening on my 80m dipole the station shows no signal strength but is now Q5. Transmitting on my 80m dipole with a tuner in line I might just about be heard, but if I transmit on my resonant dipole I am of equal or better strength than the other station.
As a result of my experiments I realised that to carry out proper meaningful experiments a station should have both horizontal and vertical listening antennas connected to separate receivers. Now listen as a station’s signal dips on one receiver and rises on the other and the every now and then both signals shoot up when the two different phases arrive in synchrony. I probably would have never have done this and had all this fun I did without 5mHz.
As I said I have a tinge of guilt over not keeping and forwarding to the experiment the log data I should have accrued. Having had well over 2,500 QSOs on the band myself and monitoring almost 24/7 I know that the data I have seen bears little resemblance to what I have heard. Of my own total I have worked 1,479 portable stations activating for on Summits On The Air and had over 500 QSOs from 60 SOTA summits, not to mention those from beaches, holiday homes and islands. Perhaps the data from the SOTA database could be analysed because although there are no signal reports included in the SOTA records there are 27,768 chaser QSOs logged. The record of activator QSOs would be considerably higher as not all stations working an activator are registered chasers. Strangely some of the callsigns logged as being most active on 5mHz are stations I have never ever heard, while other stations that are and have been active on the band several times a day (and night) for the last four years and answer almost every CQ call are way down the list. Some well known SOTA activators appear to have been never heard by any station submitting logs, which I find incredible.
One final finding; from when I got my NoV in December 2005 for a year the band seemed to be literally bullet proof for inter UK QSOs. You could say with almost certainty when the band would come alive and when it would fade out. Then 2007 followed the pattern of 2005/6 but odd periods of a dead band began. 2008 changed with a more unreliable band and more QSB on the signals than before and sometimes the band would open and close early or late. 2008 gradually got worse to the point where instead of the band fading out at 16-17:00hrs it might be dead all day and open as we approached dusk. There seemed to be much more severe fading and long periods of no or long skip. 2009 has been the worst year so far with often 80 or 40 metres being better for inter UK and a dead band for weeks on end.
Here is to hoping we get a permanent allocation in the 60m band when the present NoVs ends in 2010. I for one still have unfinished business and I want to see what can be done on the band when we get some real DX propagation.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
By Steve Studdart GW7AAV
This small and extremely light antenna has surprising gain for its size and may be suitable for those without the real estate or pocket for a huge Yagi. It could be mounted in most loft spaces and still rotated easily, but was designed for mounting on a lightweight mast such as the popular SOTA pole. The SOTA pole is really a fishing pole and is also known in the UK as a ‘Roach pole’ or in other parts of the world as a ‘Squid pole’. My design as it stands needs some refining for my purposes as I will describe later but it works very well.
For full details go to my web site: gw7aav.com
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Thanks to Don for allowing me to post this here. I felt it was too good not to spread it about a bit.
Reading Between the Lines By Don Keith N4KC www.n4kc.com
When I am contemplating an amateur radio purchase, I find the reviews offered by others on eHam or other similar sites to be quite helpful. After a piece of gear has accumulated several dozen comments, I find there is enough input to make a good judgement about not only the quality of the item but whether its feature set is really what I am looking for. After many years of perusing the reviews, though, I think I have picked up the ability to read between the lines of some of them, and to glean even more information from them. As a service to my fellow hams, here is a quick guide to what posters are really saying in those reviews. No need to thank me. I’m happy to help.
What the reviewer says: “This thing is a POS!”
What the reviewer means: “This wonderful bit of electronic engineering is a POS – a ‘perfectly operating system!’ I’d buy a dozen but I don’t have room to store them.”
What the reviewer says: “0/5”
What the reviewer means: “I know the thing has a 4.9/5 average, and I’m the only one—out of 527 reviews—to give it less than a 4. But I pulled mine out of the box, tossed the box and manual in the dumpster, hooked it up, tried to load it up to a lawn chair, and the output transistors went pppsssszzzzlll. What a pile of junk! How can they get away with selling stuff like this?”
What the reviewer says: “I know this antenna is only a 50-ohm resistor in a tub of epoxy, but it is the greatest radiator ever invented. My first contact was with a VK on 40 meters in broad daylight from St. Louis. Forget the laws of physics. This technology may well win the Nobel Prize. A hundred years of antenna engineering and never, until now, has someone discovered such a stunning breakthrough like this. The thing is a miracle!”
What the reviewer means: “My brother-in-law and I make these things in our basement. Every other positive review you see is from somebody we gave a free one in exchange for the `5.’ Please buy one. I suddenly have lots and lots of legal bills and the Federal Trade Commission is spamming my in-box.”
What the reviewer says: “Too complicated, too many knobs, the menu structure reminds me of that calculus class I dropped in college. What good is it if I can’t figure out how to even turn it on?”
What the reviewer means: “I want DC-to-daylight, roofing filters, noise blanking, all modes, backlighting with a choice of a hundred colors, and instant mode and bandswitching, CW speed, mic gain, sideband selection, satellite choices, split and reverse split, three receivers, voice processing, and more…all with two knobs and no menus.”
Alternative version of what the reviewer means: “I’ve been inactive since Nixon was president. I’m still looking for some tubes in this thing. And knobs for the plate and load. A menu on a radio? Next thing you’ll tell me is that people are getting radios that plug into their computers. I think I need to go lie down for a while.”
What the reviewer says: “Their customer service is the worst. Dunno how they stay in business.” What the reviewer means: “Okay, so I questioned the person’s ancestry and sobriety, and used some language more appropriate for a dockworker. And that was just while talking to the receptionist. But their junk blew a fuse and all I did was go key-down for an hour with no antenna hooked up. And fudged just a bit when I told them when I bought it. Fudged by six years. But the least they could have done is send me a new one.”
What the reviewer says: “Man, this is one fantastic radio! I had no idea something this great was on the market. I’d buy six more if I had the desk space.”
What the reviewer means: “Look, I could have bought a slightly used Toyota for what this box full of parts cost me. It makes power on two bands, drifts like a hobo, smells like sardines when it gets hot…which it does quite quickly…and produces transmit audio that sounds like a cement mixer full of gravel. But if you think I’m going to spend that much on something and not pretend to love it, you’re out of your mind!”
What the reviewer says: “reel gud flox bt som time seemz to gof wen glocking the qtr. hey, ifn want craigy swartz, this is the wun yu waant.”
What the reviewer means: Well, truth is that I haven’t quite figured those kinds of posts out yet. I know our education system is superb and that no one could graduate high school without being able to string together a coherent sentence. I figure this must be some other language with which I am not familiar.
What the reviewer says: “WOW! THIS IS ONE SWEET, SWEET PIECE OF GEAR!!!!!!”
What the reviewer means: “I do like this piece of equipment. I just can’t figure out how to get the caps lock on my keyboard turned off since all the RF in the shack turned it on back in `98.”
So that is my little attempt at interpreting the web reviews for ham gear. I do hope it has been helpful and that you will all continue to give the rest of us the benefit of your comments. They do mostly serve a useful purpose, and thanks to the sites that allow for this first-hand commentary.
This youngster shows a maturity well beyond his years…
Personally I would not like to choose between having a games consul (I have them all – Original XBox, Xbox360, Wii & Playstations) or my radios but I know which I would want in a crisis.
Paul M3XPR points out in a comment that VOIP (used by XBox live, skpe etc) was developed by radio amateurs. Nice one!
Bob goes on to say…If you are approached by a Scout or Guide Group to help out with JOTA and/or JOTI, please consider saying yes. I would also like to point out that most States have laws relating to working with children, and I advise you to find out from your Scout Contacts what the rules are in your State or Territory. It’s better to do this well before the event to allow the process time to work.
Here in the UK the Scouting organisation has been painted as an organisation infiltrated with perverts and weirdos by both newspapers and popular myth. As a result many people are afraid to let their children join the Scouts and worse still those prepared to help out as leaders are being put off by the need to be vetted by the authorities and the stigma of being involved. The vetting procedure as I see does very little good as it only weeds out those who have been caught previously and makes a bag full of money for the Criminal Records Bureau while putting off good people with nothing to hide. It is not really surprising that people are afraid of the CRB checks as the process has already ruined peoples lives by throwing up false positives and mere application gives you a ‘criminal record’ with out being a criminal as you forego some of your rights and allow them to snoop into every aspect of you life. The stigma is something that requires strength of character to brush it off and an ability to educate those who are misinformed or bigoted. The checks are something that must be conceived as a necessary evil until we can change them. I would therefore plead with every radio amateur to help if you can but if not to show your support to an organisation that helps to mould young people into well rounded members of society, while many of their peers run wild.
One final note: I never was a Scout, I was ‘too cool’ for that, but I had family freinds who took us to do all those Scout type things and having helped with JOTA and talked to the Scouts and their Leaders I know I would have loved it. They might just have wanted me to cut my waist length hair; No way! If only I knew what would happen to my hair later in life.
Information about JOTA and JOTI can be found at www.scouts.com.au. Look under the International Menu Item. Check that site for updates regularly as the event comes closer.
JOTA-JOTI is on October 16-18.
"The Romanian Society of Radioamateurs will activate a special call, YR550BU, between 18th of September and 5th of October.
The callsign celebrates 550 years from the first written mention about Bucharest, capital city of Romania. Bucharest was mentioned by Vlad Tepes (a.k.a "Vlad - Dracul") in a donation receipe issued at 20th of September, 1459. Vlad Tepes is the character that inspired Bram Stoker's "Dracula".
Romanian Society of Radioamateurs will issue a special QSL card for this occasion. The callsign will be active in HF bands from 80m to 10m. "
I can just imagine the scene "That was a great meal Vlad any chance of the recipe? and I love what you have done with the décor; where you get the heads on stakes idea?"
Friday, 18 September 2009
We have seen some top end black boxes with all sorts of built in digit-modes functionality and with D-Star we have the potential for a repeater system with the usefulness that almost matches that of the mobile telephone network, but have a look at that mobile telephone in you pocket and what it can do.
Mobile telephone technology has got to be cheap due to the shear numbers of them produced, so where are the cameras in our hand held vhf/uhf transceivers? If the ability to film and send both stills and movies can be built into a phone, then why not a hand held radio? Do we need the expense of D-Star when cheap digital encoding chips exist in every mobile phone? Surely if we can buy an Internet capable mobile phone we should be able to link every new amateur radio via IRLP in a similar way using every other station as a digipeater with base stations connected to the Internet. There would be no need for expensive to run and maintain repeaters when every user is a potential cell in a network that would allow every amateur to talk every other amateur almost wherever they are on a simple mobile phone sized handheld. Maybe it is time for an amateur radio version of the Internet too; a natural progression from the now old hat packet network. A private network exclusively for amateur radio and run be radio amateurs it would host amateur radio communication systems, such as IRLP, Echolink, the DX Cluster and other information free of adverts and wires for the most part but also interconnected to the web. It would provide near bulletproof communications in a crisis because if the power failed or an optic fibre link went down amateurs would be up and running using batteries and generators, hand held and mobile transceivers.
I would actually like to see mobile phones built into my radios, which would make possible and simple phone/Internet/amateur radio linking. Allowing the remote control of powerful home HF stations from tiny portable handsets or vehicle-mounted rigs. These ideas would require possibly a few changes in the regulations but seem perfectly reasonable to me. My only reservation is that although I want the ability to do these thing I might be disinclined to use some of them because as someone said, “it’s not real radio”.
Thanks to VA3QV for the story. Let us hope the idiot is caught before they kill someone.
The original cost of a new 800mHz system that allows multiple simultaneous communications between agencies was quoted at $15 million, but erection of new towers to provide the needed coverage and a new public safety communications building has bumped the cost to a whopping $35 million.
Lives could be lost because the current system is obsolete and would not suffice in a catastrophe, but budget cutbacks and the updated price of $35 million for the new system, mean the purchase will have to wait, officials said at a recent county Civic Roundtable meeting. Roundtable member Dan MacDonald of Ponte Vedra Beach said, "I have serious reservations about why we have not heard this $35 million number before. Why has it been kept undercover? Fifteen million is the only number we have ever heard."
According to Microsoft their White Fi solution is designed so that each device measures the spectrum conditions around it and works with the others to find available frequencies. Because interference can happen at any time, the system can move to a different slice of spectrum if need be.
Read more here Technology Review
Thursday, 17 September 2009
In what could be the most revolutionary thing to happen to the printed word since the Guttenburg Press the first video advert inside a print title has been published inside the American magazine Entertainment Weekly.
A small screen that is built into a cardboard insert, contains an advert for Pepsi Max and trailers for US TV network, CBS. There are also built-in speakers, so the viewer can hear the advert too.
Read more about it at the BBC and watch another video. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8258307.stm
The company that is behind this also does video greetings cards on which you can record your own message. When I first saw the BBC’s video I was uncertain it was not a spoof as it looks as if the presenter is holding a laptop underneath a cardboard cutout. The shots of the greetings card assembly convinced me and then there is alwas more on the net.
The Video Technology Screen uses liquid crystal display (LCD) technology
Each is 2.7mm thick with 320×240 resolution
Can store 40mins of video
Battery can be recharged via mini-USB
Rechargeable battery lasts up to 70 mins
Developed by LA-firm Americhip
Go to http://k0gq.com/technet.htm download the presentation and then follow along while listening to the mp3.
Subjects like Amateur Satellites, D-Star, and Propagation on VHS have been covered and a recent presentation comparing Echolink and IRLP had over 80 listeners. The latest presentation is “Working Amateur Satellites with your HT,” presented by Clint Bradford K6LCS.
The Technology net is on the Raytown Amateur Radio Club repeater (Kansas City area) at 8:00 pm Central on Friday nights 145.170(-) no PL tone. Or listen from anywhere else via the Internet on Echolink KØGQ-R node 403841. And we have the *MISSOURI* conference server node 452514 available for additional Echolink connections.
All sounds like a brilliant idea to me.
HamBrief.TV 45 is also available at 73s.org A salute to Hiram Percy Maxim W1AW for is contributions to amateur radio plusthe first-ever D-Star parachute jump by Mark AF6IM. It also covers the 4S QRP multifunction HF test set project and review the new Diamond RH3 mini HT tri-band antenna! Note: this antenna is 1 inch long and is amazing!
And then there is SolderSmoke Podcast #115 from http://www.soldersmoke.com
Which includes Camping in Sabina, Michelangelo's late star, Anniversaries: Internet, SolderSmoke, Hack-A-DayFrom Kitty Hawk to the Moon Carrington flares and childhood aurora,Calculating speed of light (using cheese),MythbustersHubble Space Telescope, Sliding Spring Observatory, EuropaTransistor Museum and Understanding Mixer products.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
We have had guns that jam if they get slightly damp or dusty and when they get warm (so don’t fire too many rounds at once boys), boots the leak and leave everyone who wears them scarred for life due to horrendous blisters, tanks that can only travel a couple of miles on flat roads or they break down, airplanes that only just manage to fly, armoured cars that are armoured everywhere but underneath where the landmines are. The list is endless but now add Cormorant a £114 million digital communications backbone that the BBC reports “Has been withdrawn by the Ministry of Defence from front-line service after failings. Instead they have purchased a £300,000 system from Israel called Radwin “that is designed to work in severe conditions.”
Okay, so they pay £114 million for as system that is not up to the job and replace it with one costing £300,000, that is a considerable difference in price. I wonder how many kick backs were needed to persuade the guys with the purse strings that £114 million was a good price.
Cormorant first came into service at the end of 2004 in an attempt to standardise the various communication systems that were in service, but was well received by many, with a number of posts on the Army Rumour Service website, saying it has been "cursed with some of the worst procurement decisions, shoddy workmanship [and] non-existent quality control".
Read the full BBC News article 'MoD withdraws £114m comms system' at:
The Royal Signals - Cormorant
Including this gem; A man who speaks Morse Code... http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/tomorrowsworld/8009.shtml?all=2&id=8009
I always thought that maybe some of what was wacky and impractical once might just be viable with todays technology so maybe it is worth studying again the programs featuring presenters Raymond Baxter, James Burke, Judith Hann and others.
Tomorrows World was real nerd porn. You just have to love it.
Asked why he applied to take part, Martin said 'I thought the 'One and Other' project was a brilliant idea as informative art. I wanted to do something to promote Amateur radio.'
Sorry Martin, but I am not sure who you are going to persuade that radio amateurs are anything other than strange nerds by doing this. Although I wish him every success with the event an hour playing radio from Trafalgar Square is not even going to be long enough even to work everyone who wants to make a contact never mind persuade the world that Amateur Radio is better than sex. He will unfortunately go down in the annuls of the hobby as probably the most embarrassing ham since the plonker on Big Brother. I cannot say what I think of the so called artist he might sue.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
I also have both www.gw7aav.com and www.gw7aav.co.uk for the website. I will update those as soon as I have revamped the site. Don't worry about updating your links as you will be redirected from the Blogger.com URL. The same applies to the website when it is done.
Thanks to Elite Technologies for their setting up of the new domains that were active in under 15 minutes from receiving the order. Please note their website is undergoing a rebuild at the moment and what you see now is a place holder.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
The RSGB notes Ofcom's recent statement on PLT with alarm and concern.
The RSGB has been engaged with Ofcom on this matter now for several years and is surprised that it has made such a statement without proper consultation with affected parties beforehand.
The statement is dismissive of the issue, inaccurate in many respects and fails to respond to the recent formal, detailed, complaint submitted by the Society.
While the Society is pleased to hear that it will be consulted as part of the independent consultation that Ofcom intend undertaking, we feel that this can only delay matters further and will add little to the wealth of knowledge already available on the subject.
The Society will make a more detailed public response shortly.
Read the Ofcom Power Line Telecommunications statement here.
What on Earth do we need to do to get these people to remove their heads from the sand and take us seriously?
You may wish to visit http://www.ukqrm.org/ to find more about the threat to the amateur radio spectrum.
The prophets of doom are vocal as usual. "Whether [the current downturn] is an omen of long-term sunspot decline, analogous to the Maunder Minimum, remains to be seen," Livingston and Penn caution, but Matt Penn says "Personally, I'm betting that sunspots are coming back".
It makes you wonder what the FCC think that they can achieve by taking a private citizen who did not have a clue about the inner workings of her amplified television antenna or that her use of it was causing a problem through the US legal system. Surely if anyone should have been cited it should be Philips who made the MANT 300. That at least would inform Philips of a potential problem with the device so that they could try to ensure it does not happen again.
You can read the entire text of the Citation issued to Irma Fausto at http://www.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-292933A1.html
Maybe the FCC should be cleaning up genuine cases of abuse instead of wasting there time prosecuting innocent law abiding citizens.