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, 21 April 2011

Joker exposes RSGB NoV hole

My thoughts on the NoV being issued to UK radio amateurs in celebration of the Royal Wedding are no secret, as I said previously I am not interested in the slightest in the marriage and I have no intention of applying for an GR callsign. Now it seems I do not need to bother because I have had some joker apply for one for me. I received this email this morning...

Applicant's copy of Electronic Submission: Royal Wedding NoV
Royal Wedding NoV Application submitted: 4/20/2011 11:50:15 PM
Authentication Information: Remote IP Address: Callsign: GW7AAV Email:Removed

Which would seem to indicate a bit of a security hole in the application process. Not that it is of great consequence but this sort of thing should not be allowed to happen. I actually got it wrong when I said you needed to apply to OFCOM, indeed they might well have made the application process a bit more secure. The real route for applications was the RSGB website, where a form that required no more than a callsign and an email address was required. 

Bearing in mind the IP Address that the application was posted from is in New York, in the United States via Haefele TV Access high speed Internet access it was easy to see it was not coming from me. Added to that they used a different email address to the one that RSGB and OFCOM should have on record.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Multi-mode rig for 50 and 70MHz

A multi-mode ham rig for 70MHz seems to be sneaking ever closer to being a possibility. First we had the rumour that a UK dealer was negotiating with a Chinese manufacturer and this was later confirmed by a trusted source who told later me that pre-production testing was going well, but even so it did not seem worth getting too excited about.

Recently I had two unsolicited emails from separate sources telling me they had seen a pre-production dual band multi-mode rig for 50 and 70MHz. That again seemed too good to be true. I had assumed they were referring to the rig we already heard of, but apparently I was wrong because a few days ago a message on the Four Metres Website forum from Rob Van Den Ent PE9PE announced; "I've seen the design of a new DualBand Allmode CW, FM and SSB Transceiver for 50 and 70MHz". The Transceiver may be ready for release by August or September and it is not being made in China. The only other information Rob has imparted is that it does not have AM and its size is similar to that of the Icom IC-718 (which is 240x95x239mm) , so a compact base rig rather than a mobile. 

On the subject of 4m; Since the Blackpool radio rally then band has been alive around here. I reckon everyone who went either bought the Anytone mobile or the Wouxun and some of them got both. A multi-mode could be just what is needed to get this band really bouncing.

And talking of mythical rigs; I hope the Wouxun KG-UV920R is released soon, because I need two new mobile dual band rigs. My two Alinco DR-610E rigs have given sterling service but have seen better days. The tone burst only works one time in ten on one rig and both of them have started a little thing were if are tuning down via the tuning knob the frequency will suddenly jump back up a few channels. It can take quite a few clicks to go down only two channels from the calling frequency sometimes. 

PLT kills DAB

Apparently the BBC has finally boarded the train that radio hams have been trying to get out of the station for some time and done some tests on how PLT devices interfere with radio reception. The report here explains that high speed Internet via PLT leaks RF out of the wiring to fill the house, and neighbourhood, with unwanted interference. An article by Bill Ray at the Register explains with damning clarity.

Certain sections of Rays article say a lot that explains the belligerent attitude that our complaints as radio hobbyist have received from OFCOM and Government alike...

The first PLT systems used frequencies between 2 and 30MHz (confusingly known as High Frequency, HF, despite being way down the dial by today's standards), and thus only interfered with the kit of radio hams and the like. But the need for speed has pushed some devices into the 50-305MHz band (Very High Frequency, VHF) where FM and DAB like to play, which is when the BBC got interested.


Ofcom still maintains that all the complaints about PLT come from one lobby group, and the problem is only preventing "one man" from pursuing his "hobby".

The irony that the government is pushing two incompatible technologies should come as no surprise, as no one with more than two brain cells to rub together would ever get involved  in politics anyway. Just another example of how the worship of mammon takes priority over doing what is right these days.

Apparently when PLT is working well it completely blocks DAB reception and can make broadcast FM unintelligible, however if the devices are struggling for a connection the interference drops down to just the HF bands. I suspect if the PLT devices are interfering with our reception then the chances are we are interfering with its operation, therefore our very presence on HF may actually compound our reception problems by forcing an increase in data traffic as data packets are lost and the rate of retries goes up every time we transmit.

The big question is how to fight this menace and the incompetent belligerence we are seeing from OFCOM. Legal action is slow and expensive and likely to be ineffective. Taking hostages at OFCOM might just get you in to a little trouble and forget the RSGB or writing to the Times, we have tried that already. What we need is to fight fire with fire and up the ante. Suggestions I have heard include deliberately feeding RF into the mains via a close coupled antenna, modifying a PLT device so that when it is turned on it jams other similar devices nearby and spiking the mains using an unsuppressed motor. Not that I am suggesting anyone tries these ideas but it does seem that some form of direct action is the only answer. We need something better, we need someone to listen and act rather than saying "It does not effect me so why should I care".

What we need is the military to see the threat to communications that this technology poses. After all what would the army do if something was jamming there comms? Call in an air strike, that's what.

Mills on the Air Week

This year’s Mills on the Air is over the weekend 14 and 15 May and any radio amateurs thinking of taking part should register their details on the Denby Dale ARS website www.g4cdd.net or get in touch with Gerald, G3SDY via g3sdy(at)sky.com as soon as possible.

I am off work that weekend so I will be spending a little time in between chasing SOTA stations to try and work as many mills as I can. Maybe there are a few of you out there thinking "I would like to give that a go, but there are no windmills around here" well the mills can be watermills or old steam powered mills as well. Windmills do usually have the advantage of being built on high ground of course. It would be great to see more stations on the air and these stations are usually great fun to do.

The S.P.A.B. Mills section (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) run this event every year on or around the second weekend in May, and Denby Dale Radio Society are co-ordinating the Radio side of this event. This event is not a contest, just a chance to have a good time and promote Amateur Radio while helping to preserve some of our heritage.

I will not be in a Mill for Mills weekend but I will be from the 22nd of April until the 29th. So for the chance to sneak in an unofficial early mill in to the log listen for me on 80/60 and 40m SSB from Wendover.

Monday, 18 April 2011

AGM - RSGB close the doors

It has long been suspected by some radio amateurs that there are dark forces at work within the Radio Society of Great Britain. Indeed some of the comments received on my announcement of the departure of the General Manager said as much. There has always been an almost unspoken link between the shadowy world of James Bond and the old boys that used to run the society. So much so that someone on an Internet forum recently suggested that if you hadn't worked for MI6 then you were probably in a minority. Well that may have been true once but these days hams tend to come from backgrounds other than the military or Foreign office. Heck, some of us even have ordinary jobs and ordinary lives, well at least that is what we want people to think. However, the dark forces I am talking about may have more to do with Harry Potter and Hogwart's than James Bond.

Was it not the Devil's prophet himself Aliester Crowley who said "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole law"? It would seem that he whose name shall not be spoken (the ex Gen. Manager) took these words to heart when he dipped in to what is every RSGB members pockets. Now it seems that the AGM on Saturday, May 14, 2011 is likely to involve the sacrifice of new born babies, drinking of blood and naked orgies for why else would they not want their members to be able to view the meeting live?

According to a statement on the BATC website http://batc.tv/ ; The RSGB and BATC have worked together over the last couple of years to webstream the Society's AGM via live video. BATC again offered the facility this year. The RSGB has considered its position and has reluctantly taken the decision that this year it would not be prudent to go ahead with live streaming. BATC has accepted the Society's position on this but hopes to be able to offer the Society the facility again in 2012.

Okay, so I am having some fun writing this but seriously DO WE NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW? We realise the whole thing could become a fiasco. When the full details of what has been going on comes out there will be a fair old uproar and to be honest it could be the most entertainment seen over amateur television in, well, forever.

RSGB this is a bad move and just says to the world "We still have something to hide" other than the fact that you are mostly Devil worshiping ex-public schoolboys who once worked for MI6, but then the Masons always were fairly good at keeping secrets.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Special GR callsigns - Count me out!

So somebody decided that radio amateurs in the UK needed a special callsign for the Royal Wedding. Now why on Earth would I be even remotely interested in that particular event? I don't remember a special call being issued when I got married. Who the heck gives a monkey's about the two over pampered inbreds anyway?

It is not that I particularly have any objection to the monarchy per say. It is just that I don't give a damn about them in the same way I am totally underwhelmed by the British newspaper's fascination with the plastic Barbie doll formerly called Jordan or for that matter the Olympic Games coming to the UK.

I have been pressurised by some of my fellow amateurs who have sad things like "Go on the air with your GR prefix and you'll need a big stick to beat off the pileups that these odd prefixes generate. Go on the air as a GW and you'll be left alone." The problem is as I see it if I apply for an R prefix it signifies my approval of what I see as an un-necessary fuss and complete waste of public money. Heck we even have an extra days holiday, how much is that costing our economy?  When the Royal divorce, that will inevitably follow, happens will we be able to apply for a special prefix then?  Let's just hope they don't decide to knock Kate off the way they did with the best thing to happen to the Royal Family in years.

If you think I am just being a grump you can apply for a GR, MR or 2ER call prefix by filling in the simple form on the OFCOM website. You will be informed by email when your application has been processed.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Radioworld LDG Z817 Tuner Fail

Today I received my LDG Z817 portable autotuner for use with the Yaesu FT817. Not sure if this is a Radioworld or an LDG fail but can someone tell me how to get the batteries inside without voiding my warranty?

Friday, 8 April 2011

GW3KFA Silent Key.

It is with regret that I must announce the passing of Mold and District Amateur Radio Club's President Mr Lincoln Lindley GW3KFA. He died this morning in the Countess of Chester Hospital.

Linc was one of life's gentlemen, an all around nice guy and a mine of information on anything technical. Linc always had a great story to tell and was always full of enthusiasm for what ever he was doing.  His help and input into the running of the amateur radio courses at the club was invaluable and that enthusiasm could not help but rub off on the students.

His passion about amateur radio was only surpassed by that for his family. Ask him how they were doing and you knew that here was a proud father and devoted husband. He will be sorely missed by them.

Linc had been involved with the radio club since its formation over thirty years ago and it will be hard not to hear the club room door open and expect Linc to be standing there with a big smile on his face. Linc's technical talks were legendary. I remember one fascinating talk when we all looked at each other and I said "He has lost me!" and one person said "He lost me half an hour ago!" and another "He lost me when he told us what the subject was!". We stifled a giggle and continued to listen. A question from the one person who knew as much as Linc brought it all back in line. It got heavy going and he was way over some of our heads at times, but I can honestly say it was both interesting and enjoyable and we all learned something.  More than can be said of some speakers we have had over the years. The best thing was that Linc was always there to help if you had a technical issue.

Linc was a CW man through and through and recently acquired a K3, which he loved to bits and raved about at the club. Recently he liked to operate on 30m CW almost exclusively.

Sleep peacefully old friend!  

Friday, 1 April 2011

SOTA Television - Portable Ham Radio Videos

Some of you may know that CQHQ my Amateur Radio blog is only one of a number of projects I have on the net. My Transmission Lines blog takes a big back seat to CQHQ but it is intended as a conduit for me to rant or rave about none amateur radio things such as politics, films and music. I also have a website which is being sadly neglected of late, but I intend to work on again.

Of all the projects SOTA Television is one of the biggest. In the few months since it started over 400 videos from Summits on the Air activations, Chasers shacks, and construction tips have been posted to the site. It is an on going process with extra information such as logbooks, summit information and links to personal blogs and websites being added all the time.

If you have a spare hour or two you will find some of the videos are not only interesting but some are very well and creatively produced.

If you are interested in tackling a summit, either as a SOTA activator or just as a hill bagger, entering the name in to the search may find you useful videos of the assent and give you a clue as to what to expect.

Please visit and enjoy SOTA Television.