News and Views
October 3rd, 2008: Reading & District ARC
As mentioned elsewhere I was a SWL member of the Reading club in the 1960s and this week I was exploring their club website and was amazed to find a picture of myself taken during the 1963 HF National Field Day. There is a copy of the picture here, the RADARC website is here. The history ( a PDF file) and the pictures give a great sense of Amateur Radio in action, particularly the early days.
September 5th, 2008: Andover Boot Sale
Last Sunday M3VQZ, M3VUW, G3TUF and myself loaded ourselves into Nick's (VQZ) car and we wended our way to Andover by the scenic route (via Romsey, Kings Somborne and Stockbridge. From the friendly welcome on the gate to the equally friendly 'cheerio' on the way out we all had a good time and the rain held off.
I came away with a scanner that covers 10m, 4m, 2m & 70cms. Other things include a project box of incredible quality for three pounds, the panel size is approx 4 x 6 inches, the box being around 5 inches deep and 4 inches high. The panels are identical, painted a MOD pale green and held in by 2BA instrument head screws. The body is a light hammer grey. The box is destined to house a signal generator.
click on images for a larger version.
August 24th, 2008: Updates
I have updated the Links page to include sites that I have recently bookmarked. The page is edited down from my Firefox bookmarks and excludes anything not radio related.
August 19th, 2008: GB2HF
Over the weekend we operated a station at a hobbies festival at the Royal Victoria Country Park at Netley near Southampton. The park is the site of a military hospital that was built at the behest of Queen Victoria after the Crimean War, the site was chosen for it's nearness to the sea. The hospital served in both World Wars and was closed in 1958, it was destroyed by fire in 1963 and bull dozed three years later. The chapel still remains and is a fine mid-19th century building, the Officers Mess was converted into luxury flats. In 1979 the grounds and remaining buildings were purchased by Hampshire County Council and opened to the public in 1980, more information
August 7th, 2008: The End of Shortwaves?
Local QRM is becoming an increasing threat to reception over the whole of the Shortwave spectrum and for many Amateurs and Short Wave Listeners is fast becoming an impossibility. There is a conflict between the desire to link up all sorts of gadgets in the home and the ability to listen to low level signals. One fast growing threat is the use of domestic mains electricity wiring to distribute data signals around the home. This technology uses devices known as Power Line adapters (PLA).
I personally see this in the context of a number of onslaughts on short wave operation these include, cheap unfiltered computer power supplies that carry the CE mark and are now flooding the UK, badly filtered switch mode power supplies in TVs & set-top boxes, ditto running modems, chargers,light dimmers, etc. The issue of Power Line Adapters really is a wake-up call, unless we push for improved standards and best practice we will lose the short waves - they will be sunk under an ever increasing tide of QRM. See the menu, left, for more information.
June 29th, 2008: Kenwood TR751E First Aid
My TR751E developed a noisy squelch pot which got worse and worse until I could no longer adjust the squelch, anything under S3 could not be heard. The TR751E ceased production some years ago and new spares are no longer available, to make matters worse the pot (50K Linear) is part of a dual-concentric assembly that also contains the AF volume control and when this latter control is pushed in it operates the radio on/switch. No amount of searching around the Internet came up with a source of these assemblies.
I had imagined that the problem was the carbon track but on examination found that the slider has gone open circuit rather than the track so some sort of replacement was needed. (I had hoped that I could reverse the pot track connection as it is only used a variable resistor.)
The dual pots+switch assembly is on it's own little PCB, the whole assembly is held in place by the pot nut and the leads are socketed. So what I did was to connect a twisted pair lead across the squelch pot and brought the lead out through a convenient hole (for adding a mounting bracket for mobile use) and mounted a 47K linear pot (Maplin £1.05) in a small metal box which now sits beside the radio. All is well and all manner of things are well - at least the squelch works properly and I can hear low level signals. For a total cost of £1.55! (Click image for larger version.)
May 18th, 2008: Site Update
I have updated the
links page. The Radio Wymsey links page is an edited export of the radio section of my browser bookmarks. Current browser is Firefox 3 Beta 5. (Depending on your operating system the location of the Firebird bookmarks file will be something like: username/.mozilla/firefox/sbowekke.default/bookmarks.html . This can be quite a large file as it is where Firefox stores Favicons as text. Under Windows it should be under your user profile, in Linux it will be in Home folder under your user name - don't forget to turn on 'View Hidden Files'.)
April 20th, 2008: Radio Cat
The cat often hangs out with me when I on the air or working at the bench and obviously harbours a deep interest in computing and radio. I have decided that she deserves here own page on Radio Wymsey, so here is
April 6th, 2008: Browsing With What?
With new versions of both Firefox and IE on the horizon and Safari released for Windows I thought it might be interesting to see how browser use has changed over the past year. I have compared March, 2007, with March, 2008. (I gather that the new version of Firefox promises to be even faster and that the memory holes have been sorted. I also gather that the Beta testers of IE8 are not too happy with the browser.)
The figures are taken from my server stats for all the sites I maintain and show that over the year Internet Explorer, usage went down by 5.2 per cent, over the same period Firefox usage increased by 5 per cent to 29 per cent against IE's 64.3. Over the same period the use of Safari rose from 2.2 to 2.7 per cent, this probably reflects the increased use of the Mac. Opera seems to have lost some ground over the same period, dropping from 2.1 to 1.8 per cent.
April 5th, 2008: Goodness Me!
I have just received the Spring edition of Sprat which is the journal of the
GQRP club (for anyone interested in low power operation the Club, journal and Yahoo! group is a must). Imagine my surprise when reading the Members' News section to find a rather flattening review of the BITX20A section of this site. Even the Station Manager was impressed!
March 22nd, 2008: Easter Updates
I have started constructing a 2 metre Moxon rectangle which eventually will be mounted on a rotator in the loft, there is a page for the project here.
There is a newly created projects section for various small pieces of homebrew gear, these are adaptations of commonly available circuits and can be found here.
March 22nd, 2008: Easter
The Station Master's Simnel cake (click image for a larger version), my only input was "Yes, include Judas." (Blooming liberals!) The twelve balls of mazipan being the deciples.
The weather has been pretty awful so far this Easter so it's been a good time to stay indoors and play radio.
February 24th, 2008: Vista Stats Re-visited
It's six months or so since I first looked at the operating systems of visitors to my various web sites, the purpose being to see how fast MS Vista was appearing in the real world.
Currently the operating systems used by visitors are as followed:
Windows XP = 72 per cent
Vista = 8 per cent
Linux (all versions) 7.5 per cent
Mac OS = 4.7 per cent
Windows 98 = 1.7 per cent
It looks as if the increase in Vista use over the past six months is much the same as the decrease in the use of Windows 98 and 2000, it makes sense as these are likely to be older machines falling over and being replaced. There again it could by that the Vista users are mostly new computer users and the more experienced XP users are replacing their systems with Linux and Macs. Whatever is going on XP is nine times more popular than Vista
The operating systems that have increased their share since August are as follows:
Vista by 2.3 percent
Linux (all versions) by 1.7 percent
Mac OS by 1 percent
Windows XP has fallen by 2 per cent, 2000 by 0.4 per cent, Windows 98 by 1 per cent.
February 24th, 2008: At Last The P.A!
I have now assembled the PA stage of the BITX20A and hope to start setting up the drivers shortly. I am also working on the mechanical assembly of the transceiver which is going to be pretty tight in places.
The Cumbria Designs MiniCounter is a neat, but not cheap, readout which is built and tested. Your can see it here.
January 13th, 2008: Farewell Windows!
I blame my mother! It was she who gave me the W H Smiths gift token that I spent on a copy
of Practical Wireless and Linux Magazine, the one with the Ubuntu
7.10 on the cover. Put up or shut time! I was already dual booting
SUSE Linux and XP quite successfully and wanted to keep XP for the
radio programs, such as HamRadio Deluxe, plus a couple of web
programs that I like.
The installation of Ubuntu went like a dream, about 15 minutes and everything was up and
running and I mean running! Ubuntu is snappy. My only inputs were
language, keyboard, time zone, nothing technical. All my hardware was
detected, network card, scanner,video card (the latter needed to
download a proprietary driver) but that went like dream. I told
Ubuntu to find our network printer which it did and offered to
install the correct driver. The OS was happy with my MP3 player and it
told me the make of my digital camera before I had time to tell
So now, in theory, I had a triple boot system. SUSE booted up fine
from the boot menu (GRUB) but XP was quite happy just to cycle repeatedly through the boot up
phase. Suspecting problems with master boot record (MBR) I tried a
fixmbr which resulted in more XP boot errors. It was, as the station
master would say, borked. I was now between a rock and hard place as
a re-install would loose all the programs and data on the XP
partition plus I could not trust the XP installation not to wreck the
other OSs. Luckily most of my data is on a dedicated data drive which
Ubuntu can read and import from. So I was able to import my log from
HamRadio Deluxe and read it in MDB Viewer from where I will be able
to export to a Linux logging program.