GB4LBC – SOS Radio Week

Its nearly that time of year again when St Bees Lifeboat station becomes a mass of cables and slightly cold and damp radio amateurs. All in the name of SOS Radio Week.

The week doesn’t actually start until January but in the interests of being on time I applied for the GB4LBC NoV before Christmas this year. Ofcom did their bit in only a day or so and the email hit my inbox yesterday.

We haven’t made too many plans yet but the two weekends we’ll be activating the site (along with the usual suspects from Workington & Furness clubs doing their bit from Silloth to Barrow) are published as those falling between the 24th Jan and 1st Feb.  Last year we had a bit of bother with some bad weather. Here’s a reminder……blue sky not always available (the lifeboat station is the white building on the right in the distance)

Its worth mentioning at this point that the week is both an awareness special event and a fundraiser. The RNLI relies of volunteers to man the boats and Joe Public for donations. Our own volunteers are trained to go out in just about all weathers as well as doing a day job. Cumbria Crack had a cracking photo of it being launched in a relatively boisterous sea. The contraption behind the boat is a submersible tractor that lunches the RIB.

DStar and Digital Networks

If your pockets are deep and your mind open then DStar offers some useful opportunities to connect to other amateurs via a very robust network. I on the other hand am a cheapskate with very shallow pockets and a healthy distrust of proprietary stuff. So how does one get involved in a changing view of amateur radio? There seem to be a few options that are more that dongles for your PC.

FreeDV is one way. It promises a way of connecting up your existing analogue radio to the digital networks. A very brief look at it this afternoon gave the impression that if there was a signal to be heard (On 14.236Mhz) then it would decode it and display the QSO on the screen. Trouble is there where no HF signals.

DV3000 bridge is another way to connect your radio to and existing set up (Analogue VHF)

Jonathan Naylor, G4KLX also has spawned a range of hardware and software that makes use of digital voice that appears through the link.

All these little bits of knowledge came from an a hour or so when the kids were at their quietest (which is not often) so there’s clearly a bit to learn. I hadn’t paid much attention to DStar or its friends as at face value it was asking me to buy more stuff at £300+ . That was a turn off. But if there are options at a lower price point then I could be persuaded to join in the digital voice game.


I remember reading something about this on the Southgate ARC news a while ago. When I tried to find it I couldn’t. Thanks to I found it again.

So what is it. The website has some big ideas on it but, to me it is a homebrew, simple Az El rotator using open source software and 3D printed parts. Something that, funding willing, I will be able to do over the winter. Info on availability seems a bit scarce but I’ve emailed regarding PCB’s.

Here’s a few links and a video Project page




Ouch and PortableSDR

Two things have happened over the last week. The first was that after what must be 10 years I had a decent crash on my mountain bike. Nothing too bad, just a reminder that I’m not 16 any more and that duckboards have 2 parts. One part grippy, one part slippy. The grippy bit is for the tyres not hands, kness, elbows and shoulders. The slippy bits are not for tyres. Enough of that though.

This forced lay off has had me googling rather than building stuff (that occasionally works) and I found what looks like a nice idea. From the video it looks like a simple, portable qrp hf transceiver. There isn’t much detail on the functionality but a quick dig revealed gerbers etc so a build-it-yourself could be on the cards. Without further ado, take it away Mr Colton


There’s a bit more detail here a the project page and a block diagram below

pinched from Hackaday

Ever wondered what I&Q are?

I was after a really good explanation of what the I & Q were when talking about SDR. These are better tan anything I could come up with. Thanks W2AEW!


So it works then. Mini WSPR’ing with the U3 on 20m with an indoor 1.5m whip antenna. Who said ham radio needs big stuff.


Echolink node update

Well the node is up and seems to be running reasonably well. The software is reporting distortion on the input but I think that is more to do with the close rf during testing. There are now some isolating transformers and a resistor in series to knock back a bit of signal and it seems to be ok when I connect through the web interface. Perhaps some other measures might help. Its still running on vox but until I can work out how to do the ptt easily I’ll stick with that.

I’ll leave it on for a while and see what I get back from the locals. Here’s a reminder of the details

Callsign – MB7IAH-L

Node number – 243350

Freq – 144.9625 Mhz

CTCSS – 103.5Hz

Power – 1.6w (hold onto your rf hats!)

Antenna – 1/2 wave dipole

All powered by a Raspberry Pi, Svxlink and a Baofeng UV-5R.


AutoCAD files for Ultimate 3

I’ve used AutoCAD for a while (because I had a work licence) but since being promoted I didn’t need CAD software…boooo (I also had an inventor licence but that wasn’t used as much). Anyway, back to the point.

U3 small

I made a couple of front and rear panels for the QRPLabs ultimate 3 WSPR transmitter and thought that someone else might like to make one. Well if you do the dxf files are below. You can modify them easily in Draftsight (A free 2D bit of CAD software) that accepts AutoCAD files. The file shows the parts embedded on a sheet that can be used for laser cutting and your local FabLab or similar.

Anyway enjoy

AutoCAD Files


I’ve had a little play about whilst avoiding the household viewing of ‘Strictly come dancing’ aka ‘celebrity showing off’ with the APRS maps you can embed through

I’ve added a little map to the site here

Just a bit of fun but I do like APRS. Great for the fells.

Trouble is it seems to default to Helsinki regardless of the lat / long you put in the script