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

Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Mode Poll


Future of GB3JB and impact on GB3WX.

I received the following email from the GB3JB team yesterday...

Hi All,

Firstly. I hope that you all had a pleasant Christmas and are ready for whatever the New Year holds for you; nothing but good things, I hope.

Secondly. Sorry for what is a very long and detailed, but very important, communication.

Now to business.

The primary purpose of this e-mail, however, is to advise you of a meeting, to discuss the future of GB3JB and the potential impact on GB3WX.

As you are one of the repeaters’ previous / existing financial supporters or simply just a user, you have been invited to attend a very critical meeting.

The meeting will take place on Sunday 30th January 2011.

The location being the Methodist Church Hall, Wincanton, Somerset.
The entrance being via the Memorial Hall car park.

Start time being 1:30 pm SHARP. (Doors will open at 1:00 pm).

Light refreshment will be provided.

There will be a small charge of £1 per person, made on the door, to assist with the Hall fee and cost of refreshments.

Since it is important to know how many will be attending, so that suitable seating and appropriate refreshments can be organised, it is important that you confirm if you will be attending.

Please indicate your Full Name and Callsign on all responses, since not all of our e-mail circulation list can be associated with a specific name or callsign.

Confirmation of your attending should be sent to gb3jb.repeater@googlemail.com as soon as possible, but not later than Sunday 23rd January 2011.

An acknowledgement of the receipt of your confirmation of attending will also be issued, via the above e-mail.

It will perhaps be useful for you to know why this very important meeting is being called.

As you are all aware, several months ago, on 19th October, I e-mailed you all with an outline of the situation, and asking for support.

As you may have gathered by now, very little was received.

However, our thanks to those of you who offered suggestions regarding the PSU issue. Most helpful, and that problem was resolved.

Only around £170 has been received in donations, to date, mostly from the usual half dozen or so, and there has been no interested parties offering to get involved in the maintenance / technical side of things.

Since its inception, both Clem (G3UGR) and myself (G3ZXX) have run GB3JB on what we like to call ‘a benevolent dictatorship’ basis. With accounting support from Peter (M0ACD), and assistance from other willing helpers, when required. In some respects, this was likely to
be the eventual case with GB3WX.

Also, when there has been a shortfall in funds, to cover site fees or
insurance or the costs associated with unexpected repairs or
replacement parts etc., then we have again covered this expenditure,

However, this situation must now change.

Age, environment and lifestyle etc., impact on health. AS will be appreciated by all, and these issues have finally caught up with both Clem and myself, with neither of us is in a position to carry on, as
we have.

Both of us are now suffering from serious long term and ongoing health problems, with the obvious physical and financial implications.

Clem and myself are not looking to claw back the significant amounts of money that we have invested in GB3JB and the GB3WX project.

However all existing supporters and users need to understand that we
can no longer do this for you.

Therefore, the time has come for others to have to step into what is going to become a significant breach, during the coming year.

Having stated that, Clem and I will be happy to provide as much support as we can for as long as we can.

Unless anything unexpected happens, then GB3JB, will keep going until the end of October 2011, when the site fee is due and the insurance is also due for renewal.

As a supporter of GB3JB and/or GB3WX, you have made a donation/s to its maintenance and running, or as is the case with GB3WX, its construction and development.

We would therefore request that you make every effort to attend, as
your views are of the utmost importance to us.

As a user of GB3JB, you are very welcome to attend and participate in the discussion. However, since you have not made any direct financial commitment to GB3JB, at any time, prior to the issue of this meeting notification, then you will be excluded from any vote/s that may take place.

Where any vote/s do take place, then each individual supporter, present at the meeting, shall have 1 vote per item voted upon.

However, where more than 1 individual is present, representing any club, group or society etc., which has made a donation/s to GB3JB or GB3WX, then only 1 vote per vote shall be available irrespective of the number of individuals that are present from any club, group or society etc.,

Supporters, who are unable to attend the meeting itself, are invited to put forward any constructive comments, suggestions or thoughts that they may wish to make. Please forward your written input, via e-mail to: gb3jb.repeater@googlemail.com

Printouts of your constructive e-mails will be available for attendees to read, prior to the start of the meeting.

In ALL cases, G3UGR and G3ZXX shall be the final arbiters regarding all and any aspects relating to the conduct of the meeting and its proceedings any decisions to take any specific vote any points of order or any tied votes, etc.,

With specific regard to GB3WX, although somewhat delayed regarding final installation, GB3WX has been on air several times since getting its NoV, and has had significant additional financial input from Clem, Peter (G3BPM) and myself, over the last 6 months or so. It is more or less ready to go, subject to final programming of the controller, site installation of the kit and new antennas, and testing, which Clem and I will attempt to carry out as soon as the weather and health, permits.

However, it is safe to say that this will not occur until after the meeting on the 30th, and then only subject to at least a route to a secure future regarding financial and technical support for GB3JB and the site (and GB3WX), has been put in place.

The text of this e-mail will also be placed on the GB3JB and GB3WX web pages.

Please feel free to forward on, this communication, to any other amateurs whom you feel may be interested in its contents and be prepared to offer assistance.

Please do not alter or amend the text in anyway, and please also ensure that the reply address is included.

Cheers & 73’s
Dave, G3ZXX.

This e-mail has been sent from: g3zxx.mail@googlemail.com

GB3JB Blog http://www.gb3jb.blogspot.com/

GB3WX http://www.ukrepeater.net/repeaters/gb3wx.htm

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

70MHz Multimode from China

Geoff G6MZX has tipped me off to the rumour floating around that a UK ham radio supplier is in negotiations with a Chinese manufacturer over the supply of a multi-mode 4 metre rig (70MHz). Although I am somewhat sceptical about the chance of the rumour being true, it is just too exciting a prospect for me not to say something. Geoff who had rung the company to try and confirm the rumour tells me that the rig is in the design stage and will only go in to production if the potential sales are enough to make it worth while. As a fan of both SSB and the four metre band I would probably be joining the queue to buy one and with other countries pushing their respected governments for access to the band demand can only increase.

I do hope the rumour is true. There is a massive untapped potential (if similar rigs are produced for the other bands) and the big manufacturers always play it safe. If we look back to what happened to UK motorcycle manufacturers where when the Japanese came along, they innovated and killed the great British industry stone dead, then I can see the potential for Chinese radio manufacturers to do the same to the transceiver market. I hope they do it, if only as a sort of revenge for what happened to BSA, Triumph, Norton and so on.

As my friend Andy MM0FMF points out there are plenty of reasons to be sceptical. Why would the Chinese make a multi-mode and why 4 metres? Most of the radios coming out of that country are FM and double as business radios. They can be programed and locked to single or multiple frequencies and just happen to include the amateur bands in their range. It is not as if there is any competition from the big Japanese manufacturers on 2 metre or 70cms. How long ago did we see a monoband multimode from the likes of Kenwood, Yaesu or Icom? So why not try those bands where the market is bigger (Worldwide) rather than limited to a few countries with 70MHz?

Those who have read this blog know I suspect the Chinese invasion of the amateur band will take us to new places but this is a case where I will just do what I do at the movies; suspend my disbelief and dream that it will all come true.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

ISRO can't get it up

The Indian Space Research Organisation are in need of a dose of Viagra, because they just can't get it up. The GSAT-5P that is. In a second disastrous attempt to get the satellite payload in to orbit a "glitch" in the first stage saw the rocket explode in spectacular style. On the previous attempt the rocket plunged in to the bay of Bengal. You just have to feel for these guys, they are trying hard but the lessons of other space programs don't seem to be being learnt here. Maybe a word of warning, as well, to those 3rd World countries trying to get their own Inter Continental Nuclear Missiles built, don't bother you are more likely to kill yourselves than any perceived enemy. And another to those thinking of booking a ride on Virgin's commercial space tourist program, space travel is hazardous to your health.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas in CQ town

It has been a strange sort of day for me. I have been working 12 hour nights for the last few Christmases and that has meant I could be anti-social and grab my Christmas dinner and skulk off to bed with a darn good excuse as to why I am doing an impression of Scrooge, or I have missed the whole thing entirely working 12 hour days. At least the extra payments went somewhere towards paying for the whole thing. I am no lover of Christmas, firstly it occurs at the coldest time of year, it costs a fortune and although I pay for it I usually miss out on all the fun. It always seems that everyone arranges parties when I am working and then the following year when I am not working I don't get invited because "Well, you never came last year!".

This year might have been much better, but half the family have terrible colds and I have been wandering around wishing they would take their germs somewhere else and praying I don't get a dose of what they have been coughing and sneezing everywhere. It was a bit strange having everyone else opening piles of parcels and knowing everything had gone wrong with mine. First up was a radio that my Mother-in-law and eldest son had paid for, which is out of stock and "we don't know when we will have some more". Then there is the two items from my other children, that they ordered on December 3rd and are stuck in the post. Another unknown present out of stock, then we have one sold out but they never sent the email until Christmas eve and finally an item my wife ordered on the 20th of November that "We are not due to get in until mid-February". I did get a box of Jelly Babies and a Flip Ultra HD digital video camera.

I spent the day sneaking off to finish something I was writing while the idea was fresh in my mind and I did manage to work some Summits on the Air stations. Dave M0MYA was on Titterstone Clee Hill G/WB-004 and Neil 2W0TDX and his XYL Karen 2W0XYL were on Moel Famau GW/NW-0044. I worked Dave on 80m SSB and Karen and Neil on 2m FM. After Christmas dinner I could see the attraction of a little walk up a local hill and the weather was cold but pleasant, at least at ground level.

Oh well, Bah Humbug! I have had a few drinks and I am going back to join the germs playing Rock Band on the XBox. You can't beat a good sing song to cheer you up.

Hoping you had a great Christmas. Peace and love to you all.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Icom IC-7410 HF/6M Base Station

Just in... Icom's replacement for the IC-7400 Amateur Radio Base Station. A bigger number but no two metres.

IC-7410 HF/6M Amateur Base Station Transceiver, Coming Soon!

IC-7410 HF/6M Amateur Base Station Transceiver, Coming Soon!
Icom are pleased to provide details of the forthcoming IC-7410 HF/6M Amateur Base Station Transceiver. The new IC-7410 is aimed as a mid range rig for Amateurs who are looking to enjoy the HF bands.

The planned features of this model are as follows.

  • 100W HF+50MHz base station transceiver
  • All mode (AM / FM / SSB / CW / RTTY)
  • +30dBm IP3 class receiver circuitry (HF)
  • Standard 15kHz first IF filter, optional 6kHz/3kHz first IF filters (max. three filters total)
  • 36kHz IF 32 bit DSP, the same class as used in the IC-7600
  • 0.5ppm frequency stability
  • Built-in Antenna Tuner
  • USB interface for PC control and voice output
  • “Band edge beep alarm” helps users avoid off-band operation
  • Large B/W LCD screen, ergonomically designed controls
  • Integrated speech synthesizer
Further details and product availability about this model will be added to this site as soon as we have them.

Spies still using Morse Code?

Found on Southgate ARC newsline ...

Morse Code Graffiti: Andy Talbot G4JNT has posted to the web a picture of Morse Code graffiti found by the River Hamble in Southern England.

His picture, taken at the Manor Farm Country Park in Hampshire, England, can be seen here

I looked at it and it says SASLHR, which could stand for Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) and London Heathrow (LHR). Then there are the words "Fair weather never a skillful sailor made" sprayed around the corner. A drunken mariner having some fun with a spray can? I think not. It has all the hallmarks of a dead letter box message. Whoever the assassin is meeting is due to arrive by Scandinavian Airline at London Heathrow but without being able to decipher the quote we don't know who the target is. The quote it's self is usually written as "Smooth seas (or a calm sea) never a skilful sailor made" so maybe the target has the initials FW and is a navy man.

Maybe I read to many spy novels, but it is fascinating and fun to speculate.

Update: Martin M1MAJ pointed out that the Morse says SASLOR but like they tell you in journalism school "Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story" or conspiracy theory for that matter.

Girl Power

It is with great pleasure that I can announce another Radio Amateur is about to take to the air after sitting her Foundation licence at Mold and District Amateur Radio Club. Congratulations to Samantha Baker XYL of Mark 2W0CCK. I will publish her callsign here when I get it. Thanks to Keith GW0OKT and the rest of the team particularly for going out in thick snow on icy roads in temperatures of minus seven centigrade to get the test done before Christmas. Lets hope Santa brings this young lady just what she wants for Christmas, she deserves it not only for all the work she has put in but for shivering her way through the exam in double quick time and still getting an excellent pass.

Unfortunately another YL candidate never made it due to the poor driving conditions, but hopefully we will sort out a resit early in the new year. Meanwhile we have our Advanced Course due to start on the 19 January 2011 and it looks like we have plenty of candidates lined up for that.

Personally I would like to see a lot more ladies taking up the hobby.When I was first licensed there were a number of very competent YL operators around here. Some of whom had done some 'hush hush' type things with the military and could knock the spots off even the best CW operators. Oh course on CW the guys did not know they were talking to a YL. On phone they knew their stuff too and were always keen to help the newbies. It was a lady operator that first took the time to try to teach my wife and I Morse code, unfortunately her husband took ill and it was impossible to continue. These days around here we are getting more and more ladies taking up the hobby. The majority seem to be married to Summits on the Air activators and have probably decided they have had enough of just logging or walking up mountains and sitting around waiting for an hour while hubby makes his contacts and might as well have ago themselves. It seems strange that the girls who love to talk for hours on the telephone don't get in to the hobby, they should. It is also strange that when the YLs get together on the air the conversation is not about knitting or cooking as one might expect but the more normal stuff for ham radio and that you are more likely to find it is the guys who will tell you all about the cat's trip to the vets. I do feel for the girls sometimes as when one calls CQ it can be like flies around a honey pot and I can just visualise the slavering perverts in their dirty macs, but hey it sure fills the log up quick and on a SOTA activation or in a contest a pile up is what you want.

Monday, 20 December 2010

RAYNET to the Rescue

RAYNET is the Amateur Radio Emergency Network in the UK. South Glamorgan RAYNET were involved in an emergency caused because many hospital staff could not get into work.

What follows is an Operational update from South Glamorgan RAYNET about what happened.

Heavy snow falls in the Cardiff area on 17th and overnight on the 18th December saw most roads in the county impassable. As reported in the local news, on 18th December the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) made a plea for help from any 4 x 4 owners to volunteer taking NHS staff into the hospital to work their shift.

On the 19th December South Glamorgan Group provided assistance to the NHS and Police with their 4x4 vehicles transporting staff to the University Hospital of Wales.

The South Glamorgan group, alongside a local rescue team CAVRA and the 4 x 4 owners club, did well with their support ferrying staff back and forward throughout the day.

Well done to all the South Glamorgan RAYNET members who were involved for a great job and to all the other volunteers who helped out. Without these volunteers operations would have been suspended and lives possibly put at risk.

Similar operations have been going on with other RAYNET groups up and down the country and with the bad weather predicted to last until February no doubt others will be called on in the near future.

This post is dedicated to the idiots who want to drive 4x4s off the road and those that think RAYNET should leave it to the professionals. Maybe the army could have helped if they were not in Afghanistan (7,800), Iraq (4,000), Balkans (850), Cyprus (3,300), Falkland Islands (1,300), Gibraltar (300), Germany (21,500) or Northern Ireland (1,500).

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Free SVLand iPhone App

SVLand is an iPhone app developed by Christos Papathanasiou SW1NJX to help radio amateurs find their way around the VHF and UHF repeaters within Greece. When loaded, this simple app presents you with a map of Greece and pinpoints of the most important repeaters. When a GPS fix is available , the known blue dot shows your current location. Then you can zoom in and tap a repeater to see its details (Name, Frequency, Offset and squelch Tone).

You can download the app for FREE Here

You can read about it on the authors own blog can be seen Here

The only downside I can see is that roaming charges for smart phones such as the iPhone can be very high if you are thinking of taking yours on holiday to Greece. I am also told that activity on Greek repeaters can be scarce. This information was imparted to by two people one of whom is Greek and holds a Greek licence. The other spends two weeks in the country every year and says he has managed only one QSO in the last eight years and that was with a UK holiday maker who only lives 20 miles from his home QTH in England. Maybe this new app will breath new life in to the Greek repeater network. A good job by Christos if it does.

FREE Ham Radio magazine WRO Jan Issue

Get over to http://www.worldradiomagazine.com/ and download the January issue of their FREE Ham Radio magazine.

Always a cracking read World Radio Magazine is published monthly as a PDF file by CQ Communications, Inc., 25 Newbridge Rd., Hicksville, NY 11801 who publish CQ magazine, Popular Communications and CQ VHF in dead tree format.

You can even set up email reminders to let you know when a new issue is due.

UK Radio Rallies 2011


BISHOP AUCKLAND RADIO AMATEURS CLUB RALLY - Spennymoor Leisure Centre, Co Durham DL16 6DB. 10.30am, £1.50 (under 14 free). Contact:Mark, G0GFG, 01388 745 353.


RED ROSE WINTER RALLY - George H Carnall Leisure centre, Kingsway Park, M41 7FJ. Details from Steve, 07502 295 141

Visit website: www.wmrc.org.uk


DOVER AMATEUR RADIO CLUB RALLY - Whitfield Village Hall, Dover CT16 3LY.

Visit website: www.doverradiorally.com


HORNCASTLE WINTER RALLY - Horncastle Youth Centre, Lincolnshire LN9 6DZ. 10.30am, £1.50 Contact:Tony, G3ZPU, 01507 527835, e-mail G3ZPU@yahoo.co.uk.


26th CANVEY RADIO & ELECTRONICS RALLY - 'The Paddocks', Long Road, Canvey Island, Essex SS8 0JA [southern end of A130 10.30am £2, Contact: Dave, G4UVJ, 01268 697 978 (evenings)

Visit website: www.southessex-ars.co.uk


RADIO-ACTIVE RALLY - Civic Hall, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 5DG Contact: Simon Chettle G8ATB, 01270 841506, e-G3ataol.com.

Visit website: www.midcars.org


HARWELL RADIO AND ELECTRONICS RALLY - Didcot Leisure Centre, Mereland Road, Didcot OX11 8AY. £2.50 (under 12s free), 10.30am Contact Ann, G8NVI on 01235 816379, e-mail rally@g3pia.org.uk

Visit website: www.g3pia.org.uk


NORTHERN CROSS RALLY - Thornes Park Athletic Stadium, Horbury Road, Wakefield WF2 8TY. 10.30 £3 Contact:Ken, 2E0SSQ on 07900 563117 before 8pm please or e-mail kquinn27@o2.co.uk.

Visit website: www.northerncrossrally.org


RAINHAM RADIO RALLY - Rainham School for Girls, Derwent Way, Rainham, Gillingham, Kent ME8 0BX. 10.00am, Contact:Trevor, G6YLW, 0771 7678 795, e-mail trev@wig1.co.uk.


SWANSEA ARS RALLY - Court Herbert Sports Centre, Neath Abbey, Neath SA10 7BE. OT 10.30am, £2.50 Contact: Roger, GW4HSH, 01792 404422

Visit website: www.radioclubs.net/swanseaars


BOURNEMOUTH RADIO SOCIETY 23rd ANNUAL SALE - Kinson Community Centre, Pelhams Park, Millhams Road, Kinson, Bournemouth BH10 7LH 09.30-14.30, £1.50. Contact: John, G0HAT, 07719 700771

Visit website: www.brswebsite.org.uk


EXETER RADIO & ELECTRONICS RALLY - America Hall, De la Rue Way, Pinhoe, Exeter, EX4 8PW. 10.30am, £2, Contact:Pete, G3ZVI, 07714 198374, e-mail g3zvi@yahoo.co.uk.


CAMBRIDGE & DISTRICT AMATEUR RADIO CLUB RALLY - Wood Green Animal Shelter, King's Bush Farm, A1198 London Road, Godmanchester, Cambs PE29 2NH. 10:00am, £3. Contact:John, G0GKP, 01954 200072, e-mail j.bonner@ntlworld.com.

Visit website: www.cdarc.co.uk


26th WYTHALL RC RADIO AND COMPUTER RALLY - Woodrush Sports Centre, Shawhurst Lane, Hollywood, nr Birmingham B47 5JW £2, Contact:Chris, G0EYO, 07710 412 819, e-mail g0eyo@blueyonder.co.uk

Visit website: www.wrcrally.co.uk


LAGAN VALLEY ARS RALLY - The Village Centre, 7 Ballynahinch Road, Hillsborough. 11.30am Contact:Jim, GI0DVU, 02892 662 270, e-mail jim.henry@ntlworld.com.


CALLINGTON AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETY RALLY - Callington Community College, Launceston Road, Callington, Cornwall PL17 7DR. 10am, £2.00. Contact:Chris G7UDX, 07973418371, e-mail g7udx@mac.com.


27th YEOVIL QRP CONVENTION - Digby Hall, Hound Street, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 3AA 9.30am. Contact:Derek, M0WOB, 01935 414 452.


SPRING MILITARIA & ELECTRONICS & RADIO AMATEUR HANGAR SALE - Hack Green secret Nuclear Bunker, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 8AP. 10am, £2.50, civil, military and vintage radio equipment plus vehicle spares. Contact:Rod Siebert, 01270 623353 or e-mail coldwatr@hackgreen.co.uk

Visit website: www.hackgreen.co.uk


SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE AMATEUR RADIO RALLY - Avon Scouts Activity Centre, Fernhill, Almondsbury BS32 4LX (junction of M4 & M5). 10.00am.Contact:Stan Goodwin, G0RYM, 07833 517370, gentryone@gmail.com

Visit website: www.avonscouts.org.uk/woodhousepark


NORTHERN AMATEUR RADIO SOCIETIES ASSOCIATION EXHIBITION (Blackpool rally) - Norbreck Castle Exhibition Centre, Blackpool FY2 9AA. 10:45/11:00. Contact:Dave, M0OBW, 01270 761 608, e-mail dwilson@btinternet.com

Visit website: www.narsa.org


WEST LONDON RADIO & ELECTRONICS SHOW (Kempton Rally) - Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex TW16 5AQ. 10.00am. Contact:Paul, M0CJX, 0845 165 0351, info@radiofairs.co.uk

Visit website: www.radiofairs.co.uk


LOUGH ERNE AMATEUR RADIO CLUB 30th ANNUAL RALLY - The Share Holiday Village, Lisnaskea, Co. Fermanagh BT92 0EQ N. Ireland. 11.30am. Contact:Iain 028 66326693, e-mail iainlearc.eu.

Visit website: www.lougherneradioclub.co.uk


DAMBUSTERS HAMFEST - Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre, Coningsby, Lincs LN4 4PE. £3 under 12 free 10.00am. Contact:David, david@g1zqc.demon.co.uk..

2 MAY (Bank Holiday Monday)

DARTMOOR RADIO RALLY - Tavistock College, Crowndale Rd, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 8DD. OT 1015/1030. TS, B&B, TI S22 (V44), CP, DF, C, FAM. Peter, M1AYI, 01822 860277.


10th JUNCTION 28 QRP RALLY - South Normanton Alfreton and District Amateur Radio Club (SNADARC) in association with the G-QRP Club. Alfreton Leisure Centre, Church Street, Alfreton, Derbyshire DE55 7BD. Just 10 minutes from M1 J28 and the A38. 10:00am. Contact:C. Russell Bradley, G0OKD on 01773-783658, e-mail russell.bradleyG0OKD@ntlworld.com

Visit website: www.snadarc.com


NEWBURY RADIO RALLY AND BOOT SALE - Newbury Showground, next to M4 J13. Big display area of amateur radio stations, exhibitions, special groups, clubs and societies. 9:00am, £2, Details see web site.

Visit website: www.nadars.org.uk


WEST OF ENGLAND RADIO RALLY - Cheese & Grain, Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BE. Contact:Shaun, G8VPG, 01225 873 098, e-mail rallymanager@westrally.org.uk

Visit website: www.westrally.org.uk


CORNISH RAC 48th MOBILE RALLY - Penair School, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 1TN. 10.30am, £2. Details Steve, 01209844939 e-mail g7voh@btinternet.com.

Visit website: www.cornishamateurradioclub.org.uk


MCMICHAEL RALLY AND BOOT SALE - Reading Rugby Club, just off the A4 east of Reading, £2, 9.30am. Contact:Pete, G8FRC, 01189 695697, e-mail g8frc@radarc.org

Visit website: www.mcmichaelrally.org.uk


QRP IN THE COUNTRY - Upton Bridge Farm, Long Sutton, Langport TA10 9NJ Free entry. Tim Walford, G3PCJ, 01458 241224, e-mail walfor@globalnet.co.uk

Visit website: www.walfordelectronics.co.uk


HORNCASTLE SUMMER RALLY - Horncastle Youth Centre, Willow Road, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6DZ. 10.30am, £1.50. Tony, G3ZPU, 01507 527835.


COCKENZIE & PORT SETON ARC 18th ANNUAL MINI-RALLY NIGHT - Community Centre, Main Hall, Port Seton. Bring along your own ‘junk’ and sell it yourself. Tables on first come first served basis. £2 for everyone.18.30 to 21.30.


FLIGHT REFUELLING ARS HAMFEST – Contact:Mike, M0MJS, 01202 883 479, e-mail hamfest@frars.org.uk

Visit website: www.frars.org.uk


FRISKNEY & EAST LINCOLNSHIRE COMMUNICATIONS CLUB RALLY - The Friskney Village Hall, Church Road, Friskney, Lincs 10.00 to 14.30, £1.50. Contact:Bren, 2E0BDS, 01754 820 204, e-mail felcc@btinternet.com

Visit website: www.felcc.webs.com


TELFORD HAMFEST - Enginuity Technology Centre, Coalbrookdale, Telford TF8 7DU. OT 10.30, discounted admission to Enginuity Centre. Contact:Martyn, G3UKV, 01952 255 416

Visit website: www.telfordhamfest.co.uk


21st GREAT NORTHERN HAMFEST - Metrodome Leisure Complex, Barnsley S71 1AN. 11.00am Contact:Ernie, G4LUE, 01226 716 339

Visit website: www.greatnorthernhamfest.co.uk


AUTUMN MILITARIA & ELECTRONICS & RADIO AMATEUR HANGAR SALE - Hack Green secret Nuclear Bunker, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 8AL. 10.00, £2.50, civil, military and vintage radio equipment plus vehicle spares. Contact: Rod Siebert, 01270 623 353 or e-mail coldwatr@hackgreen.co.uk

Visit website: www.hackgreen.co.uk


HORNSEA AMATEUR RADIO CLUB RALLY - Floral Hall, 7 The Esplanade, Hornsea, East Yorks HU18 1NQ. 10.30am. Contact:Rick, M0CZR e-mail R106221@aol.com or Duncan, G3TLI, e-mail g3tli@hotmail.co.uk

Visit website: www.hornseaarc.co.uk

29 & 30 OCTOBER

NORTH WALES RADIO RALLY - Saturday & Sunday, 29th & 30st October 2011, 10am – 5pm both days. High School Ysgol John Bright, Maesdu Road, Llandudno. LL30 1LF. Contact:Liz Cabban GW0ETU on 01690 710257 or rally@nwrs.org.uk .

Visit website: www.nwrs.org.uk/llandudno-rally/


WEST LONDON RADIO & ELECTRONICS SHOW (Kempton Rally) - Kempton Park racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex TW16 5AQ. 10.00am. Contact:Paul, M0CJX, 0845 165 0351, info@radiofairs.co.uk

Visit website: www.radiofairs.co.uk

If you are the organiser of a radio rally and you would like me to add your event to this list or amend the details please let me know by either leaving a comment or emailing me. To email check out my call on QRZ.com. If a rally you usually attend is not on the list please let me know and I will endeavour to find out the details.

If you are outside the UK and have a list of rallies/ham fests in your country please send it to me I will be glad to publicise it here.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

CQHQ New Years Challenge

It is that time of year when we tend to think about changes. Christmas is a time for family and it can make you realise just what has changed in your lives. We see children that have grown up, miss folks who have moved away or passed on. We see new wrinkles and grey hairs either on ourselves or our relatives. It is a time for reflection. The New Year follows shortly on its heels and is more of a time of friends and looking forward. It is a time for making plans and change. Some of us may make resolutions, but how many of us looking back achieve those goals we set ourselves?

I would like to set you all a challenge. It is not a competition, although if you want I can design a certificate for you to print out, but a personal challenge in the hobby of amateur radio. What I would like you to do is pick ten of the items from my list of things you might not do otherwise and try to complete those ten challenges by the end of the 2011. Some are a bigger challenge than others.

1. Try to learn Morse code
2. Try to teach someone Morse code
3. If you mainly use CW then using the HF band of your choice call CQ at least once a month on SSB
4. If you mainly use SSB but know the code then using the HF band of your choice call CQ at least once a month on CW
5. If you only work HF call CQ at least once a month on VHF/UHF (repeaters allowed)
6. If you only work FM call CQ at least once a month on HF SSB or CW
7. Make at least 12 contacts during the year on 6 metres
8. Make at least 12 contacts during the year on 10 metres
9. Try to have at least one real conversation on HF each month
10. Join your local club and attend at least 25% of their meetings
11. Offer your services as a committee member to a radio club or related organisation.
12. Give points away in three VHF or above contests (at least 10 contacts per contest)
13. Enter a VHF or above contest and submit a score
14. Give points away in three HF contests (at least 10 contacts per contest)
15. Enter a HF contest and submit a score
16. Set up a satellite station
17. Build a kit
18. Finish that project you started
19. Build an antenna using a design on the Internet or from a book
20. Give a lecture at your local radio club on a subject you are passionate about
21. Persuade your XYL to take her licence
22. Persuade your children to take their licence
23. Set up an APRS gateway or repeater
24. Help out at a special event or JOTA station
25. Do a Summits on the Air or Wainwright’s activation
26. Operate portable from a beach
27. Write a letter to a ham magazine and have it published
28. Write an article for a ham publication
29. Operate QRP make at least 12 contacts on HF using 5 watts or less
30. Help a newbie by loaning or giving them spare kit or helping install antennas.

The purpose of the challenge is to try and make the hobby more interesting for everyone and by moving out of your comfort zone you will be giving something back and you may find you enjoy doing something different and make new friends.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Malaysian Facebook for hams

The Malaysian amateur radio website MYCallsign Network has been redesigned. The site a social network, a bit like Facebook for hams and controlled by 9W2KEL for the FOC.All ham radio operators worldwide are welcome to join. http://www.mycallsign.my/

I joined to say hello, send greetings to fellow hams and keep up with news from that part of the world. There was an issue with spam but that seems to have been sorted with some tightening of the site security, although it does mean you have to be registered to view it. I have had great fun with Google translate trying to read the posts. I wish them good luck with their site.

In other news from Malaysia; The Malaysian Amateur Radio Transmitters’ Society http://www.marts.org.my/ have a poll running that asks the question “Do 9W holders have to wait for at least a year to take the CW Test?” The results so far show that 60% of voters think they should wait a year. It seems a little unfair to me, if the operator can pass the test why should they have to wait? What does it achieve? Bearing in mind that numerous countries no longer see the necessity for CW as a pathway to the HF bands and that CW is more popular than ever, in those countries, I hope common sense prevails.

South Africa gets a Space Boost

According to the latest news from the South African Radio League (SARL) South Africa is going to get its own space agency or as the SARL news writer put it their "own NASA".

As I said in a post way back in July 2009; I wonder if I am alone in thinking my generation has been cheated of our inheritance. What I mean is that as a ten year old watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon I was convinced that we would have been to Mars, had colonies on the moon and had hotels in space by now. I therefore think this is great news, someone is at last taking the subject of space seriously again. Like Gene Roddenberry the screenwriter, producer and futurist, best known for creating the American science fiction series Star Trek I believe that there is no better way to bring together the nations of the world than the mutual cooperation required for the exploration of space.

The press release states: The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, on Thursday 9 December officially launched the South African National Space Agency at a gala event in Mid Rand. She said that SANSA is mandated as the primary, but not sole, implementer of South Africa's National Space Programme to direct Government's investment in space sciences and technology. The purpose is to integrate and manage the country's space activities for the greater good and implement an effective, sustainable, long term, national space programme aligned with South Africa's socio-economic policies.

Of most interest to the amateur radio community was a question from a SARL representative at the media briefing, asked if SANSA will support amateur radio satellite programme, the CEO of SANSA said "Definitely, the radio amateurs are part of our plans".

Get Started on 10GHz

Microwaves are the biggest section of the amateur radio spectrum and the least used and they are also a place where there are still things to be discovered or at least rediscovered. It may also be the last bastion of the true home brewer as you cannot just pick up the gear off the shelf. As time goes by commercial interest in the higher bands is a two edged sword; equipment and components become more easily available but pressure on our allocation, in what was once thought of as useless parts of the spectrum, becomes greater. The use it or loose it statement we hear so often applies here more than anywhere else.

Some people are put off the higher bands by tales of needing lead underpants and knowing what that microwave oven in the kitchen does to food goes nowhere towards calming that fear. Yet others are more interested in aspects of the hobby that are less technical, but if you like a challenge both technically and as an operator the microwaves are where it is at. The biggest problem is how to get started.

Above 23cms, the most popular amateur microwave band is 10GHz, also known as 3cms. With the advent of the UK ‘lifetime’ licence in 2006, the 10GHz band became available to all classes of UK licensee. It can accomodate a wide variety of modes including narrowband DX, ATV, EME etc. A wide variety of old and new hardware is avalable for this band.

Available via the UK Microwave Group is an article by Brian Coleman G4NNS and Ian Lamb G8KQW published in the RSGB Radcom magazine back in August 2007 and now made available for personal use only by the courtesy of the RSGB about getting quickly started on 10GHz.


Photograph is Richard G3CWI of Sotabeam fame working 10GHz from G/SP-010 Winter Hill on Rivington Moor, Chorley.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

10Ghz cumulative contest great result

Congratulations are in order to Ian GW8OGI for coming fourth and highest newcomer in this year's UK Microwave Group 10Ghz cumulative contest with a creditable 3580 points, even though he missed two of the 6 sessions, had he done all 6 sessions he would have been the clear winner of the restricted section and close to the top of the open section even though his first session only netted him 30 points as a trial run.

Thanks to John MW1FGQ for pointing this out and forwarding me the results sheet, both John and Ian are members of Mold and District amateur Radio Club and Ian is a keen activator for Summits on the Air.


SOTA Ham Pressed

Congratulation to Simon Reynolds M3IWN for getting both amateur radio and Summits on the Air in to the mainstream press.


Roadblock to find radio abusers

The authorities in Brunei are having problems with pirate radio operators. The two metre band in Brunei extends from 144 to 148 MHz, but radios manufactured in places like China have the ability to operate from 137 to 174 MHz and unlicensed operators have been interfering with communications among government agencies, police and military operating within those bands. As a result the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry (AITI) and Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) joined forces in conducting a roadblock in Sengkurong to inspect and ensure that amateur radio operators, or ham radio enthusiasts, are following the correct procedures and regulations.

The roadblock was carried out to ensure that amateur radio operators do not have an expired license or are using unapproved equipment. "If such an issue like unapproved equipment arises, the police have the authority to confiscate the said items under Section 37," said Senior Technical Officer Hj Suhaili Hj Kawang.

One of the problems that AITI and RBPF had to handle was that some amateur radio operators use small hand portable radios that are hard to detect and could be hidden in somewhere in the car out of sight

In just under two hours, five people were detained for having either unapproved equipment and/or expired licensed while two passed the inspection for following procedures appropriately and having valid licenses. The police also made sure that drivers observed road rules such as wearing safety belts and untinted window. This is the third joint operation conducted by both agencies and similar roadblocks will be held next year.

For some reason I could not see the authorities in the UK bothering with such an operation, but with the number of wide band transceivers on sale via places like eBay we may experience similar problems here. Way back in the dim and distant (1980’s) I remember similar roadblocks to find illegal CBs. Strangely during one of these roadblocks, after the UK introduced legal FM CB, I was waved on despite having a car festooned with antennas. Maybe someone on that roadblock knew who I was or maybe they knew who they were looking for, I wonder!

Superham saves the world

Reliance on technology could be more of a threat to human race than another ice age or a nuclear war. Not so long ago only the rich had mobile phones but these days take away people’s iPhones and Blackberrys and they feel vulnerable and naked. Business grinds to a halt and peoples thumbs twitch in an involuntary reaction to the inability to send SMS texts. Suddenly blue tooth ear pieces are yanked out and people can hear, unfortunately they have lost the ability to talk face to face and make the sign of the phone with their hand and mouth I’ll give you a call later.

In Israel on Wednesday 1st December Cellcom, the country’s largest cell phone provider experienced a breakdown that left 3 million without their mobile phones. The outage lasted from 10:00 to 21:23 hours local time. The company worked with Nokia engineers to fix the problem, which was described as a fault "in the core of the network."

The fault was more than just an annoyance to Cellcom’s customers with questions having been asked in the Israeli parliament and a number of lawsuits filed against the company. Not surprising when you realise that Israel has one the highest numbers of cell phone users anywhere in the world, with 1.38 phones per person.

With the obvious vulnerability of a society reliant on such a fragile infrastructure one wonders how such a society will handle a large scale outage as might be caused by the radio magnetic pulse from a massive solar event, nuclear explosion or volcanic eruption, not to mention the possibility of a large scale cyber attack.

Oh well! It is time to slip my underpants over my tights, paint my wellingtons red, turn my jacket into a cape and save the world again. Thank the Lord for Superham and his special powers to communicate over long distances without reliance on a cell phone.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Hitler's QSL Problem

Now we know why he started invading Europe, he just wanted to get his QSL cards direct.

Ham Antenna Fail

Even Heath Robinson would turn in his grave at this one. By the way he was 599 here.

white trash repairs - Hamtenna Is Up and Running
see more There I Fixed It

Advanced Radio Amateur Exam Course Starting Soon

Mold and District Amateur Radio Club start the course for the 'Advanced' exam on 19 January 2011. This will give us a good 10 weeks to run the course and then a 2 week break prior to the exam to run some extra/revision sessions if needed. The exam date will be 6 April 2011.

If you are an Intermediate licensee and can get to Mold Rugby Club on Wednesday nights please contact me (GW7AAV) or Keith GW4OKT, our email addresses are correct on QRZ.com or search my call on Skype and we can talk. Further Foundation and Intermediate exam courses will be run during the year.

Previously all courses were run for free but due to an unexpected rise in our rent (from nothing to several thousand pounds a year) we will be asking all new candidates to join the club (£20) and pay a small fee (£12) towards our costs. The only other costs will be the exam fees charged by RSGB and the price of the course book available from RSGB.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Ham Jam Man Looses Van and more

Ofcom has successfully prosecuted one Clive McMurray, aged 63, from Lambert Street, off Beverley Road in Hull City Centre for jamming Amateur Radio frequencies. A big hurray for Ofcom, we never doubted you. Well actually we did, but this is fantastic news. Just another couple of hundred other morons nationwide to nail then. Please Ofcom knock yourself out and nail the bastards heads to the floor.

Interesting is the age 0f this idiot. You would think at his age he would have something better to do with his time. Everyone calls them 'Lids' and the implication is that it is not just kids that cause a nuisance of them selves on the air but as in this case and my own experiences show it is not just young bored teens that do this sort of thing. Often it is someone who has an axe to grind against another radio amateur or organisation such as a repeater group but also it can be some guy who has just lost the plot due to some kind of mental problem. Some of these guys started keying up, being abusive and playing music on CB thirty years ago and are still at it. They moved to amateur radio because keying a mike on an unused band does not get a response.

The RSGB report he was sentenced to:

Four months imprisonment suspended for 18 months (from a rope I hope)

A curfew between 7pm and 7 am for 3 months via a means of electronic tagging (Should have been 24 hours for the full 18 months)

Forfeiture of his van and radio transmitters, to Ofcom. (Awesome! The van as well)

See the links on Southgate ARC Newsline for more details.

Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy

Learning Morse has been over the years a chore for most radio amateurs. For some it was a means to an end and yet for others it has instilled in them a great passion and there is nothing more infuriating to someone like me who has got close but fallen by the wayside to be preached at by those that love CW.

It is true that since the dropping of the code requirement more people than ever are keen to have a go. The access to the HF bands for many former B class licensees has made them realise just what they were missing. CW gets further and when conditions are bad it still gets through when SSB fails. A good CW operator can even beat digimodes with error correction in poor conditions because the imagination lets a human being fill in the gaps, although if predictive texting type techniques are employed the gap is narrowed.

There is lots of advice on the Internet and in books about learning the code and now thanks to the generosity of Carlo Consoli, IK0YGJ his book 'Zen and the Art of Radiotelegraphy' is available free to down load as a PDF file here http://www.qsl.net/ik0ygj/enu/index.html in both English and Italian.

My thanks to Thomas AB9NZ for bringing it to my attention via his blog 'The Radiotelegrapher' , which is essential reading for all hams not just the bass pounders of you out there despite only having been online 15 days. Thomas says of the book... It's a beautiful piece of work. I especially enjoyed his study of "amateur telegraphy from a linguistic perspective" where he poses the question "CW the Esperanto of the third Millennium?". The book is packed with methods and exercises to help the beginner learn the code. Mr. Consoli then raises the bar and teaches the reader how to shed his limits and become the code.

ANYTONE 5189 4M FM First Impressions

Due to my failure to obtain one of these 70MHz amateur radio rigs to review on CQHQ I have with kind permission reproduced a blog post from G8UBJ's Hamdy Spot go there to see the rest of the photographs. This is followed by an email from Paul M0LRE with his first impressions. The Anytone and MyDel are the same rig by the way.

The ANYTONE 5189 4M FM Mobile

Martin Lynch and Son have taken delivery of their first batch of the new ANYTONE 5189 Transceivers. These cover 4M and output is about 40 Watts on high power. I think the specification is 60 watts so some internal tinkering may be considered in the future? That said the 20 watts difference is not great and probably won´t make a difference on the air.The radio come nicely packaged with a double fused power lead, fist microphone, mobile mount and of course a fairly easy to read manual. The manufacturer is Qixiang Electronics (Never heard of them!)

I have only just bought this today (24th November), one of the initial batch of ten. Initial on the air testing has been positive.It has a very large integrated heat sink. I imagine that this can actually dissipate the power on 60 watts.

The rig is a little sensitive to SWR, changing the coax length by 1/4 wavelength resulted in just shy of 40 watts out.

I took a few photos of the display, with and without the flash. As you can see its not huge, but acceptable for mobile use. Still no S meter...sigh!

Tuning of the VFO is on the front panel dial (Finally no more up down buttons!). The dial doubles for volume if you press it once. The squelch is on a menu (Can´t have em all....) but can be defeated by a button press for those DX contacts?

On the air reports were good although the default deviation of 25Khz was too wide and had to be turned down to 12.5K

Sensitivity was slightly better than my ASCOM SE550 and the integral speaker was very clear and produced good audio. the microphone is a good size and comes with up/down buttons for mobile use. It connects to the rig using the RJ45 type connector, similar to most modern rigs.

There is a speaker jack at the rear.

This is one of the first batch and the next batch should be in before Christmas. At £149.95 they aren´t giving them away but if you compare it to the Yaesu FT-2900 single band 2M transceiver its not too expensive and hand helds aside the only new 4M transceiver available on the market (So put it on your Christmas list now?)

Email from Paul M0LRE with his first impressions.

Hi ,

Just thought I'd drop you a quick line to say that LAM also have the said radio on there website http://www.lamcommunications.net/shop/product_info.php?products_id=621

I actually have one, on 4m and although I've only had it a couple of days and not really had much chance to put it through it's paces yet, first impressions are it knocks spots off a Garex or AKD 4001.

The radio looks good for the price and is slightly smaller than my current radio for 4m (Motorola GM350) and is putting out a Swr/power meter measured 40watts ( I thought that the 60watts was a little optimistic, but still more than my GM350 which is set for 25 watts)

On receive it seems to perform quite well and as well as my Motorola (I can hear everyone even at a distance I can hear on the Motorola to the same levels) sorry, it's not any more technical than that but I don't have the test kit and I've not really had a chance to use it much yet.

As the spec states 3 bandwidth settings, Mines set to narrow as you'd expect for 12.5khz channels and again sounds good against and GM350, It has a quite large microphone, but still fits in the hand well and also has channel/frequency up and down buttons which is handy when mobile.

There are lots of memories although I've not set any up as I feel that you can get away with having the radio in VFO mode for 4m. There are the usual features, that you'd find modern PMR kit (CTCSS, Rpt shift, etc) again a bit redundant for our 4m band plan.

These are just a few of my first impressions, to round up I like it, it seems to work well and would definitely have one over a AKD/Garex if I were starting out on the band. As you've said on your blog, I'm sure they'll sell well.

73 Paul W M0LRE

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ham Radio in Computer Game

I have over the years taken pleasure in seeing ham radio in mainstream media. Spotting amateur radio equipment in movies and television has been a fun sideline from time to time. The introduction of the hard drive recorder (in my case a Sky plus box) has made it easier to freeze frame the scenes with the radio gear in to try and identify it. The last fun thing was when Stig on Top Gear was learning Morse code and we all found out that he liked cheese and Strictly Come Dancing was no quite his thing. What I have searched the net for is a definitive list of films and TV programs that feature such snippets. It is a bit of fun to see just how wrong they producers can get it.

A little while ago I was tipped off by my son Adam 2W0DPI to a very addictive game called Portal. I loved the game but did not dare get started as I knew just how much time it would cost me. This will be old news to any hardcore gamer (I doubt many of my readers are), but there are some radios (about 29) in the game portal. Turning the radios on, by completing a puzzle task, all you get is noise, at least that is what most people thought, but the noise is easily identifiable to the amateur radio community as Slow Scan Television or SSTV. Decoding the images left most people almost as baffled, but it turns out the images are a taster for the sequel, inventively called Portal 2. Below is a video showing a couple of the images being decoded.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Fractal Antennas

I have been convinced for some time now that the future of antennas was with the use of designs based on fractals. My searches on the Internet have always left me feeling there was something someone was not telling me. This video that appeared on Southgate ARC Newsline seems to confirm that despite my limited knowledge of the subject my suspicions were correct. I wonder how far we are away from that magical one antenna for all bands or even sleeves like that in the video to increase the bandwidth and gain of our co-linears. Watch the video and see what you think. I suspect also that the word fuzzy may appear with regard to wideband antennas in the near future too.

Fractal Antenna Systems, Inc. www.fractenna.com

Improving APRS Coverage in North Wales

I received an email about a an amateur radio project that is trying to improve APRS coverage around North Wales. We are looking for donations of any unwanted TNCs or other packet equipment. Please contact either myself or any of the calls in the email if you like me have anything that has been gathering dust for ten years or can help by setting up a station at your home or works QTH. My details are correct on QRZ.com. The email is below...

Hi Steve,

I am working on a project with John GW4BVE and many others (including John MW1FGQ) to try and improve APRS coverage around North Wales, especially around the Snowdonia area.

At the moment we are short of hardware and I was hoping you might be willing to circulate an email around the club members asking for donations of old packet radio equipment. Right now we are in need of one or more packet TNCs. Age or condition are unimportant and I'm sure that there are one or two lying unused and unwanted as mainstream packet radio is rarely used these days.

As you may know, in it's simplest form, APRS enables real-time display of a station's position on a map - for example John BVE's activation of Cadair Berwyn today:


(In the drop-down box near the top right, change from map to terrain)

There can be much more to it than that, from simply adding the frequency being used at the time, to full-blown inter-station real-time text messaging (great for Raynet).

The SOTA community is currently taking a lot of interest in APRS, but a lot depends on having a decent network with good coverage and it is this we are aiming to help achieve.

Of course, the APRS network is available to all amateurs, so everyone could potentially benefit.

Many Thanks,

Ian GW8OGI et. al.

New CQHQ project

I was on YouTube looking at amateur radio videos when I came across this message; "YouTube Groups will no longer be available starting December 1, 2010."

YouTube already screwed up the groups feature a while ago and it crossed my mind that maybe there was another way. The SOTA Group on YouTube had over 300 videos at one time. It was great because unlike a general search for SOTA you did not get unrelated garbage and the group admin (Richard G3CWI) could filter out anything irrelevant and ban undesirables from posting to the group.

I have started SOTA TV which is basically a video blog linking the hundreds of Summits on the Air videos that people have posted to YouTube. This is not an official SOTA site and there is no content stored on this site. If you object to your content being included on this site it will of course be removed, but you should consider in the first instance disabling the ‘embed’ feature on YouTube. The purpose of this site is to bring together videos from YouTube and elsewhere posted about or by SOTA Activators, Chasers and others, covering Summits on the Air activations and related subjects. Videos relating to amateur radio, antenna design and hill walking may be included. The site is hosted on Wordpress rather than here on Blogger due to it being easier to embed the videos using their system, just one line of code. Here hoping it is well received, I hope everyone likes it. There are already over 100 videos on the site for you to watch.

Review of MyDEL AT-5189 4m Mobile Delayed

It seems I may have shot my self in the foot when it comes to MyDEL AT-5189 4m Amateur radio. No sooner as I had seen these rigs on sale via the Martin Lynch website than I posted about them on here. Maybe I should of kept my mouth shut. I just received an email from Lynch’s which says; “Unfortunately this item has sold out and we do not have a lead time for the next delivery.”, Oh dear! I guess I should learn my lesson. I often hear a SOTA station and put a spot for them on SOTAWatch before I get to work them. Occasionally this backfires and fail to get through the resultant pile up before they go QRT or their batteries die. Maybe I should be more selfish but I don’t think that is going to happen. I will just have to wait , but I can take comfort in the thought that maybe my post had something to do with them selling out, this blog has quite a few readers now.

If anyone out there has bought one of these rigs I would be interested in your findings. Please email your review to mycall at gmail dot com (do the usual) and I can get something on the blog.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Police Radio System too Expensive to Use

Police officers are being ordered to send texts rather than speak on their radios because of the sums charged by the firm that owns the police communications network. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1329538/Police-told-send-text-messages-expensive-speak-radios.html#ixzz15sLC4ix0

More proof if ever it was needed that Airwave may not hold up in a real emergency. As someone in the know said to me the other day "It is just a fancy mobile phone except more expensive and not as reliable". Thanks officer and your Range Rover was kind of cool too.

Airwave’s pre-tax profit was £170 million, a 26 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

A senior officer has said it costs Dorset £2 a second whenever we go over the limit.

It just keeps getting better...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

FT-817 Power Connector Solution

The Yaesu FT-817 is probably the most important ham radio to be released in resent years. A whole amateur radio shack shrunk in to something that I could loose in my wife's handbag. It got millions of us out of the dark dingy Hobbit holes we affectionately called home and in to the countryside, out of the office chair and in to our hiking boots and out of our cars, trucks, and pickups into the thin mountain air. Plenty of us soon abandoned the 817 for more powerful rigs or something home built, but it was the 817 that started us on the portable radio adventure.

The 817 is a brilliant piece of electronic engineering but like anything it has its faults. Number one on the list would have to be it is not waterproof. Why Yaesu made a rig ultimately suited for portable work and then neglected to make it waterproof I will never know. There are other faults too but the main one is the flimsy power connector, which has given many of its users grief over the years. Finding a replacement power lead has been difficult to start with due to it not being a very common size. The connector you need is 4.0mm outer and 1.7mm inner diameter.

I had wanted two such connectors myself a while ago. One for connecting to a shack power supply and another with Anderson Power Poles to connect to the sealed lead acid batteries I use portable. I had no desire to butcher the one that came with it, that was fitted with a in car type plug that fits into the cigar lighter socket. My good friend Andy MM0FMF came to my rescue as he had bought a load of leads at one time and had a few left.

The latest victim of the of odd sized power connector was blogger Julian G4ILO and it was one of his commentators Graham VE3GTC lead me to The Shoppe at Wulfden and an intriguing solution to wear and tear on the Yaesu FT-817's power connector.

Way back in the June 2005 issue of QST magazine there was an article by Phil Salas AD5X, entitled "Input Voltage Conditioner - and More - for the FT-817". It details a project to add reverse voltage, over voltage, and over current protection, a more convenient power connector (Anderson PowerPoles) and an external voltage regulator to take the much of the heat dissipation from the inside of the rig to the outside. For over five years N1BQ has offering this project as a kit. So far the FT817 community has purchased just under 4000 of these kits at a price that should not break the bank. With this kit failure of the connector is highly unlikely and with the other advantages I wonder how it took so long to come to my attention.

All the details are included in these documents PDF (700KB) or Word DOC (200K) so if you have the bits there is no need to buy the kit, but The Shoppe at Wulfden offers a Basic Kit for $15 plus postage or an Enhanced Kit for $21 plus postage. Postage for the basic kit to the UK is about $5.00.

M6AKV's Rybakov 806 Antenna Variation

The experimental spirit of amateur radio lives on! I argued with someone recently about whether or not your average ham was an innovator, I am convinced that most of us are. We may never make that Earth shattering breakthrough that changes the world but each little thing we do has the potential to inspire someone else's Earth shattering moment. A couple of ideas lately have fired me off thinking "That is a great idea but how can I do that better?"

I was reading the forums on Junksale when I came across Andy M6AKV's unusual portable HF antenna solution. Read about it here. Andy has taken a telescopic fishing pole and wound it with sticky back copper tape and used a 9 to 1 balun to produce an interesting variation on the Rybakov 806 Multiband Antenna that is still one of the most popular articles on this blog even though I wrote it in May 2009. Even if this antenna is not as good as Andy would have us believe, it works and proves that the experimental spirit of amateur radio is alive and kicking.

The sticky back copper tape Andy uses is sold as Slug Tape. I wish I had found this years ago. I paid stupid prices for tiny rolls of sticky back copper to repair circuit boards. I could have done hundreds with one roll of this slug tape. I have in the past made a 2m on glass J-pole and quad from aluminium flashing tape, but had trouble connecting the feeder. This stuff solders brilliantly and would be great for stealth antennas on glass, stuck to drain pipes or the boards on the eaves of a house. A coat of paint would make them invisible. Also great in glass fibre boats or cars for making a ground plane or radials or for making protatype circuit boards. The brain is ticking over and I am sure I can no longer live without a few rolls of this stuff in the shack. I just have to try Andy's design for myself too. I am thinking 10m pole for a loaded 80m vertical. Thanks Andy!

New Four Metre Alternative AT-5189

Interest in the 70MHz (4m) amateur radio band has been on the increase recently. It started with various ex-PMR rigs like the Ascom SE550 flooding the market. It was amazing to see the prices of those used rigs shoot up from were you could buy 10 for a fiver to where they are today, lucky to get a battered one for under £60 on eBay. Then along came the Wouxun KG-699 4m handie and suddenly a whole new market opened up. It started by word of mouth and SOTA activators keen to do something different latched on to them. Previous ex-PMR bricks meant 4m portable was a rarity, not anymore it wasn't. Admittedly the Icom IC-E90 had been around a while but take up was slow due to the high price and the fact that most would be buyers probably had a dual band handie they were perfectly happy with. The Wouxum was cheap and cheerful and did a great job for a small outlay. When I finally saw one had been thoroughly tested and was as RF clean as anything the majors made I got one too. I was blown away and told anyone who would listen and probably quite a few who wouldn't to get one.

Perusing the Martin Lynch website a few days ago I spotted the MyDEL ML-5189 or AT-5189 4m Mobile in their list of new products. This rig is another made in China and badged under various names but this is the first time I have seen them on sale in the UK. The rig is actually available in 66 to 88MHz, 135 to 175MHz and 400-490MHz versions. The 4m and 2m versions are 60w/25W/10W output and the 70cms version 40w/25W/10W. Martin Lynch and Son only seem to have the 4m version at present. They say in the advertisment; "With the massive increase in 4m activity thanks to the new Wouxun KG-699 4m handie, along comes this new 60W 4m mobile". I wonder if this rig will sell as well as well as the Wouxun?, at £149.95 it may.

There has already been some discussion on various forums about this radio, but no-one has yet bought one to give it a good once over. Is it as good or better than the Ascom SE550? What does the test gear say about its output? Hopefully the truth will out soon, before the sceptic dismiss it out of hand as a bit of junk. Maybe I will put one on the Christmas list and try it for myself. It can't be any worse than my AKD 4001 can it? Sorry Garex! It got me on the band but it really is a pile of crap.

Update: I just ordered one so a review coming here soon.

More Foundation Licence Successes

It is with great pleasure that I can announce that the Foundation Licence Course run at Mold and District Amateur Radio Club from Wednesday 6th October 2010 culminated on with five successful passes last Wednesday 17th November. Unfortunately there were two candidates who only just failed. As they only attended for the examination and not the course we can consider our 100 percent pass rate intact. With a little help and encouragement I am sure these two candidates will pass a retest in a few weeks time.

We also plan to run a Full Licence course in the new year. Anyone wishing to join the course is welcome to do so, just turn up at the club on a Wednesday night and we will take your details or contact Steve GW7AAV or Keith GW4OKT (details correct on QRZ.com).

Update: Callsigns- Paul Edwards M6AKF, James Fairbrother MW6WXM and Dan Marshall MW6BUT, waiting to hear from Anne Tipping and her son, 14 yr old Tom Tipping.
Retest for the other two candidates is 22nd December, good luck ladies.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Sprint, The Storm and The Shock

If you had told me not so long ago that I would be enjoying ham radio contesting I may well have not believed you. I could never have seen myself doing the 59 next thing, I am after all a bit of a self opinionated motor mouth. My normal modus operandi is to put a kettle of water on top of the rig at the start of an over and when the whistle blows it is time for someone else to have a go.

I suppose it all started when I got in to Summits on the Air. SOTA guys are a friendly lot and usually if the sun is shining and they are not trying to do half a dozen hill in one day then they have time to pass a few pleasantries even if they do not tend to engage in long drawn out waffles. Getting on the hills I realised that I needed the batteries to last and tried to keep things brief. As SOTA became more popular I got better at handling the pile ups, so much so that one or two people actually said nice things about how I handled them compared to when I started. To be honest more said the same thing about my wife Helen GW7AAU's advancing skill, but who is keeping score?

It was one of the SOTA stalwarts John GW4BVE that got me into the contesting thing. I got an email asking if I wished to join a contest group and thought "What the heck" if I don't try I will never know if I enjoy it and I also thought that seeing how there is no room for anything else when a contest is on the "If you can't beat them, you might as well join them". It made a lot more sense being part of a team than going it alone, because I did not have the 'Top Gun' station that I needed to be competitive. In a team I could hone my skills and have a chance at being part of winning something.

We started off with the RSGB's 80m Club Championship but because of my shift pattern I only got a couple of the monthly evening contests, but to my surprise I found them fun. Hard work but fun. I was hooked. I had for years joined in the 2m SSB contests to give away points but I started to take them a little more serious and I tried to get on for all the VHF and above contests. I still haven't entered a log for those, maybe it is that when I have 60 contacts and some of the stations are giving me serials numbers around 270 I get a bit put off. It has made a difference because these days I don't just work the locals and if I don't hear the south coast and Scotland during a 2m contest I feel cheated.

When the 80m Club Championship ended for the year the Travelling Waves Contest Group turned their attention to the 80m Sprint. Last night I was finally able to participate in the 80m Sprint at last. I have not been available for the other rounds due to my shift pattern and other commitments. I feel sure that someone out there does not want me to join in. I must say that I did not have a clue what to expect, but that is the most fun I have had yet in a contest.

For those that don't know (and I didn't until last night) a sprint works a bit like a relay race. If you call CQ on a frequency and get a contact you must change frequency after that contact. It sounds like it should be chaos but it is not. In fact it is a quite gentlemanly affair. I answer a CQ call, we exchange serial numbers and our names and then the other station says something like "The frequency is all yours" and you call CQ. When you make a contact the process is repeated and you hand over to the newcomer. So when everything is going well it is a sequence of search and pounce then call CQ. Rinse and repeat and so on. Strange that after all these years on the air I did not know that. It is probably something to do with the fact that I usually turn off when I hear a contest on.

My first problem last night was that I lost about twenty minutes due to a late meal ten minutes in. The meal would have been out of the way if it was not for mother-in-law problems, she must always telephone as we are about to sit down to eat. After that it went well until during the last half hour things got a bit sparse, with no one answering CQs and the only stations calling were ones already worked or too weak to hear.

I had a few problems with the logging as there is no option in Winlog32 for this particular contest. Consequently the required names were left out when I exported my log to the format required. I first tried copy and pasting the names into the report box in the log but that only worked for names five letters or under. In the end I opened the Cabrillo file in a text editor and kept my fingers crossed that it would work, fortunately it did.

I did not have any record breaking numbers in the log but this time I only found one duplicate, that was an improvement. I had recorded the contest on the PC using Audacity this time and was able to correct a dodgy call I had entered. I had got the call right during the QSO but transposed the letters when I entered it. I later found a couple of transposition errors from my scratch pad to the computer log as well. I can see room for improvement but it seemed to go okay. There were several weak stations who I could have worked with a lower noise level, better antenna or receiver and I am starting to wonder what difference a straight 80m dipole might have over my 80/40m trap dipole. Unfortunately the present dipole is attached to the chimney stack in the centre of the roof and so swapping over antennas for the contest would not be straight forward. Anyway I am quite happy with points tally for the evening and 5 DXCCs. I hope my participation is enough to push the group past fifth this time.

Today I had to repair the damage caused over the last two nights by winds hitting 90mph. My 10 element crossed Yagi for 2m was lying in a tangled heap and the collinear at a precarious angle. Because my 2m beam was a cross I mounted it on a glass fibre scaffolding pole. The wind had snapped the pole at the junction with the aluminium pole and it all came down. I managed to repair most of the elements, made a few new ones fitted a new pole and it is back up.

All the radios were silent here this morning due to the damage and a Belkin surge protector that exploded when I switched it off due to a short on the on/off switch. I got a slight electric shock and a blackened thumb. Thank God for circuit breakers. The bang when it blew was most impressive as was the bright blue blinding flash. I hope I am not a cat because I think I am getting close on the nine lives thing.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Free iPhone App and more

If you are a radio amateur with an iPhone there are already a wide range of apps out there, some more useful than others. Mark Turner's commercial presence on line is called KramStuff and he is pushing two of his ham apps at the moment. Ham Dashboard sounds like another of those things to clutter the taskbar of your browser, but it is in fact a neat application that shows a searchable list of nearby repeaters in the UK, along with details of input and output frequencies, a map, and a handy bearing arrow for each repeater. Reading between the lines I think future versions will have more features. It comes with a database of repeaters which can be added to or edited, and it has a handy default button for if/when you mess everything up.

Just as useful is Ham Square it is a simple and free app that shows your current Maidenhead Locator, i.e. your "square". There are already a few apps like this and I already have one in my old PDA that does this plus it gives you all the other locators that you might need, but hey this one is free.

Personally I don't have an iPhone yet but if I did I am sure I would be downloading these from the appstore.

Ham Square download Free
Ham Dashboard download £1.70 at time of press