Author Archives: Alex

Summat on the air?

In a rare moment of rashness I decided to not do any building work today on the summer house. Partly because its nearly finished and partly because Mrs g7kse was sent to the builders yard for 5off sheets of 22m ply and came back with 10 bags of gravel. So as punishment she had to do something construction-like with it. I on the other hand spent a few hours /p in a new venture I’m calling ‘summat on the air?’ There are a few rules to follow.

  1. You have to be /p – Its best if you walk up a nice hill that may or may not be a summit, hump, lump, fell or other such designation.
  2. Take a radio and antenna. Set this up in the usual manner.
  3. Tune about for around an hour, call CQ a few times but in general the idea is that you don’t have a QSO. Or if you do it needs to be with a contest station who is rattling off CW as if it was some kind of percussive attack.
  4. Enjoy the view, this is imperative.
  5. Go home and question if you’ve broken something in your rig / antenna / key / brain etc

Here’s a few photo’s to remind me of today’s events. I’m sure you’ll agree that St Bees head is a nice place. There’s an old wartime lookout post (which must have been miserable) and a nice view towards the Isle of Man to the wets and the Lakeland fells to the south and east.

Stay away from the edge

 

A simple set up with an LNR precision MTR5b and end fed antenna, note leg in lower left of picture.

 

I can see my house from here

A little postscript….

The Cumbrian dialect has many variations. To the outsider they all sound a bit similar so to help the Cumbrian Dictionary will help you understand. So I have taken this from the dictionary to help:

summat1.(noun. summert) something, e.g. There must be summat wrang, he can normally mek it ower yon yat easy = I think something is amiss as he is usually able to jump that gate with ease.

My favourite word is ‘dookers’ if you were interested….eh?

CW Academy Intermediate

A little while ago I decided it was time to get a little help with my CW. Whilst I can have a reasonable QSO whilst I’m sat in the shack I tend to make a complete hash of it when /p. The bottom line is that my head copying skills just aren’t there. To try and fix this I enrolled on the CW Academy course for the slightly less than novices (Intermediate). I had expected that I was slated for October but it seems that we’re starting on April 1st! Hope there’s no significance in that.

Norman Williams, G7MRL Sale

Many of us know Norman, G7MRL. Not so many know that he took ill before Christmas and has since had to give up radio. He has asked that I help sell his stuff. I have made a list and published it here rather than trying to list it all on eBay. Have a browse and if anything takes you fancy get in touch.

Practicing CW QSO’s without RF

The bands are starting to make my cw practice pretty heavy going. I got one contact over the Christmas period with my ft-817 and end fed antenna and to be frank I made bit of a hash of it. Lots of errors mainly caused by a lack of practice time on the key.

I’m sure that I won’t be alone in saying that practice software goes a long way to getting rid of those errors and helps you move up from glacial sending and receiving speeds but nothing matches on air work . But what can you do when there’s no chance of a decent QSO / Sked. Well there may be an answer in iCW. It is a Mumble based system that does away with all that pesky RF and simply allows you to connect you key (via a keyer or in my case from the audio out of my transceiver) to a computer and then hey presto you can practice with your friends to your hearts content.

There seem to be a couple of websites that cover the detail. The main one and a one that shows you a bit more detail. Its a bit confusing but having said that the setup is pretty straightforward and some really helpful video’s help get the finer points sorted.

So it dire times of s9 noise and no propagation. There’s plenty of opportunity to get some practice in.

Radio taken a back seat

I’ve finished work for the remainder of the year and its a good time to take stock. I had a lot of plans, most of which didn’t happen as a result of some over optimism on the planning front so what went wrong. Well not much in fact when it comes to radio. I did however sneak a little progress here or there but its been barren for a few months. Before we get into new years resolutions I think its worth noting what did go on….

  1. I bought a MTR-5B rig which has had a few outings and a couple of QSO’s. Lovely bit of kit by the way.
  2. Practiced my CW a lot off air. Not so much on air.
  3. I acquired a TS-850 as well. Very nice
  4. I spent a bit of time perfecting the Raspberry Pi / RTL Dongle iGate. Pleased with that because I’m not that great with Linux.
  5. I am typing this on a PC loaded with Ubuntu. In an attempt to learn a bit more about Linux.
  6. Bought a FT-817. I really missed the old one for VHF contesting (get which section I prefer)
  7. Built a towbar mounted decorating pole mast. Well prototyped one at least.
  8. Attempted to programme an Arduino to display a load of GPS data. This is definitely in the work in progress tray.
  9. Did programme an Arduino to decode morse
  10. Wrote a piece for RSGB on the SatNOGS project we did at the club. May or may not get published

………….hang on this list is getting longer than I though it would

I suspect I’m not alone in this but looking back in the log I have not had a QSO in a few months other than on a repeater or as part of a contest. I thought that this meant I hadn’t really done much. But the reality is that, probably like quite a few, there are a more pressures on your time than you think there are. It just so happened that when this relaxed and I turned the rig on, conditions were down the khazi.

So Happy Christmas, Happy New Year and all that. Remember hams don’t just make QSO’s.