11 Sep 2014

Update Time

My entry back to this blog was purely by accident this evening as I was trying out a new search engine using a web browser called Midori on my Linux box - I just happened to spot my callsign on a link so followed it and I landed on the Dx Zone site,  lo and behold I find an image (clickable) of this web page, as yet unrated (no surprise there) since I have been struggling to maintain ANY activity on here for the last 18 months, maybe even 2yrs ? Time just flies - so here we are - Lots been happening,  been dipping in and out of doing digital and cw, and even some ssb (a rare mode)  for me anyway - Fort Purbrook ARC club nets occasionally happen and during the past few months we've had our "Field Event Weekends" taking place under canvas on the last weeks of the month - these take place  about 300 feet ASL on Portsdown hill overlooking the City of Portsmouth and boy does it get windy up there resulting in two cancellations this year,  we have one last effort at the end of this month (Sept) so we're all hoping for good weather.  I do a lot of listening on the cw ends of most bands daily but the last couple of months have been quite poor with high noise levels, 10 and 6m have now faded away - this year E's seemed to last for a short period (or was I imagining it) ?  I dropped Win 7 last christmas plus all that  lovely Ham software thats available in favour of a return to Linux for my "Ham" machine,  and a Mac moved in and serves my other needs.  I run Fldigi for psk etc... and Cqrlog complete with that quirky Glabels  app for printing qsl labels - it works but painful to set up, and if I need to try new software I use my netbook with Win7 (cannot say I like it but it's stable) but I also have wine running a virtual c:/ drive and run a few apps under Linux (I use Mint).
Radios in use are my trusty 817, I actually use this on both VHF AND HF as most will be aware I like to use Low Power whenever I can, I would prefer we ALL used low power - the bands would be a lot quieter and we would stand a better chance of working other like minded souls - The TS590S I find this gets used for CW and digital as I have it interfaced to the Linux system, along with my FT450D, this little rig I have grown to like very much and is great for just about everything really.
My IC7100 is over on the other bench, what I call the (VHF Bench) and is freestanding, and one of my jobs is to interface it to the Mac - it's been nearly a year now, still haven't  done it - nice rig love the touch screen and  actually had my first EVER 10m FM Qso via the NYC repeater back in March - must be the busiest repeater in the world as it's constantly in a keyed state with no Audio !?
Finally the TS830 STILL on the bench here - needs  some tubes but the receive is as good as you'll get, and one new addition  -  the You Kits version HB1-B x4 Bander Tcvr, great little radio producing 4w out, and lovely crisp audio into either a pair of headphones, or an outboard amp of some sort driving a speaker - the IF Filter works very well and is just great for cw - and you can listen to U/Lower sidebands too (Warning: very addictive) ...  I have the larger battery holders in mine too.
Got a couple of projects in the making - just assembling bits to build a CobbWeb 5 (or) 6 band HF Antenna - centre plate is done and just need to get a few other bits then we can get building, I thought I t would have been built by now but other things crop up (you know how it is) . . .  so it looks like an Autumn project now.  Also just two nights ago put the links into the Linux box to download automatically and install the Wsjt-x software - a friend of mine has been playing  jt9 so I installed it too but it is slightly behind the Windows version and after a bit of fiddling manged to get it running with my TS590  -  Funny thing was, first Qso was with K1JT..
There you have it - that pretty much brings us up to date albeit just a brief summary of events, of course there was plenty else going on this year, some unmentionable of course - now we've got that out the way maybe we can get on here more often . . .

73' for now -
Have a lot of fun with Qrp

28 Nov 2013

Time for a Post

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

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

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

Cheers All.

15 May 2013

Get on 6m

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


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



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



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

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

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

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


17 Apr 2013

Hacked

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thoughts?

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