Posted 31 Mar 2013 — by Alex
After what seems like a lifetime in the attic the Cobwebb ventured outside for the Easter weekend. What a weekend as well.
I put the little antenna up on the telescopic pole about the same height and the top of the Hustler 6-btv (in the background) and spent a few minutes tuning into various stations then dashing in and out of the house to swap the feeder over between the two antennas. Several dashes later and the freezing cold east wind finally kept me in doors just as 2 VK stations appeared on the cluster. At the time I was on the vertical and paid little attention to them as experience tells me that they wouldn’t be ‘in range’ with my 100w. Especially as I was at home in the st bees dip which usually strips rf out of the ether. I tuned to their operating frequency and was met with stoney silence, as expected.
Out of curiosity I did one last switch and the first station was a real 5 & 9. A few calls later and we managed my first qso with a vk. A few minutes later I bagged my second. Within a few hours I managed 7 new countries in between walking the dog and other family stuff. I can safely say that I will be making a more rugged version of the single wire Cobwebb and retiring the vertical.
Now the bands have returned to their usual quieter state it was certainly a good weekend to be on the radio
I’ve resumed my role in the vhf white noise listening club with this evenings UKAC 50Mhz contest. Its a bit early in the season to expect any results with 6m from here but nice to get a full 3 qso’s with my new (and more xyl friendly) 4 ele yagi, from Powabeam.
I opted for the smallest one they did as the previous long boom 5 ele was just too big and basically got in the way for much of the year. This one is shorter by quite a margin and performance isn’t far off what I would have expected from the previous one. Oddly enough it was a gift from my mother in law through the DX shop. Well done her, and by far better service than I received through other well known and innovative antenna manufacturers. The specs are largely what you would expect from a small beam but the quality of manufacture is superb. There is no need to trim or tune anything. Just bolt up and away you go. All in all less than 10 mins from start to up on the portable mast. Highly recommended.
Operating at home certainly beats sitting in a car, freezing yourself half to death, on the side of a fell road but there is not much in the way of chance that I’ll get good results from here without the aid of Es. When I could no longer hear the beacons in Northern Ireland it was time to turn the rig off though.
The Arduino platform has struck a bit of a chord with me. It is very well supported with both hardware and software, which makes it ideal for people like me who don’t have the background or skills to get a project off the ground. There are plenty of resources around the internet that off either ready made projects (just add hardware) or Books that explain the concepts and procedures in detail. Even the books tend to be supported by websites that have the code available for download if you wish.I came across a new(?) book by Leigh Klotz Jr, WA5ZNU titled ‘Ham radio for Arduino & Picaxe’ seems to be available through the ARRL but not the RSGB at the moment.
The book is supported by a website which has forums, code and links to the various projects that are presented. The links include the almost ubiquitous Sparkfun website, which has been supplying bits and bobs to US based hobbyist’s as well as those internationally for some time. The Sparkfun site is also a good place for technical data and resources such as libraries for Eagle.
Anyway, as usual I digress. The book is currently available through the ARRL and possibly in the future through the RSGB. The contents page looks like it has a whole heap of projects that will keep us busy for a long time. If its your cup of tea then I hope you can get a copy and enjoy the projects.
Posted 22 Mar 2013 — by Alex
Do you Google+ ?
After an initial flurry on interest in Google+ I couldn’t quite decide what it was for. Like many people I keep contact with friends and family on facebook and it servers a purpose, I can’t say I actually like the platform but it does keep me in contact. Google+ is a similar swervice but for a while I couldn’t understand what it was actually for. If nobody I knew was on it then what use is it to me?
Over the past few months a number of different additions have been made to it. There are now communities that seem to be well populated including several for Ham radio.
Again I wasn’t really sure how these things would benefit me, especially as time seems to disappear very quickly at the moment. But yesterday it struck me that you get out what you put in. Not exactly innovative thinking but I posted a question on one community and was pleasantly surprised to see the responses came quickly and they were relevant. Having tested the water I think its time I used it a bit more, not just a personal news service from various blogs and sites now that Google Reader is going to be shut down.
So if you fancy dipping a toe into the various communities I can recommend it. I struggle to actually explain what the service is but as a geek I’ve found it useful in keeping myself up to date with my interests.
Posted 16 Mar 2013 — by Alex
Martin Harrison, G3USF has provided another 6 and 10 report. Its a bit shorter than usual but we’re all blaming the conditions. It can be downloaded here