The old website at etribes

RobL's world of wonder

...staying cheerful the wrong side of 40!!

Blog - March 2006 to April 2009

About me

Life has so much to offer, lets get out there and find out!!

Surveyor, radio amateur (under the call 2E0RZD and latterly 2J0RZD), photographe... (read more)

 

 

This explains a lot!

Well etribes, thank you very much!!!  Now I know why despite having been taking my money for membership renewal and retaining the domain for another year you have resolutely refused to respond to emails when the site won't accept document or photo uploads from my home connection since before Christmas as they are now shutting up shop (as of 30th April 2009, notified 27th April!!!), its a bit like trying to find Waldo!!  Notwithstanding the fact that having paid my dues in February for 12 months I won't be getting a refund OR my website, welcome to the credit crunch online I guess.  Ah well, to all those who have followed the exploits thank you for your patience and understanding but I'll just have to look for somewhere new for random rantings and online phot storage!!  Flickr or Facebook are looking to be the favourites so we'll just have to see!!!

God Bless and keep in touch - ta ta!

73 de RobL

Looking forward to getting out and about!

Roll on summer!!  Surfing the net for ways to use the new FT857d Yaesu portable brought up the website of a European amateur Adrian YO3HJV with a simple, solid and lightweight 'cradle' for using the rig with a dry cell battery so it can be dropped in a rucksack.  My sincere thanks to Adrian for his design which works really well (though I have added one or two adaptations of my own) and also to Mike 2J0SZI for his assistance with the trickier bits (folding aluminium etc.).  The 'going portable' photo album shows some more and also the first outing with the newly acquired Buddipole antenna.  Unfortunately first outing yielded no actual contacts though it received very well but it was more a practice run for some summertime expeditions!!  Looking forward to the better weather now.

Well where did that go?!

2008 I mean!!  It seemed to a case of 'whoosh!!' and there it was gone..., mind you looking back we seemed to cram plenty in, the kids came over twice, same with the folks, we had a lttle tour of the nearby bits of Normandy, J's tribe arrived mob handed in November for a weekend which was fun (though I had tonsilitis) and we are still sat looking at the sea and thinking what did we do to deserve to be here?  Economic downturn notwithstanding hopefully it will continue though there is always something in the back of your mind that these things seldom last forever but its nice while it does!

Seem to have made the local radio club happy by taking on their secretary role and running their website and club newsletter for them (see documents), helping with the resurrection of the Jersey amateur radio repeater and a few plans for the coming year for them.  Toyed briefly with the idea of joining the photographic club and the astronomy club and fleetingly dabbled with some archery again but where does the time go that these things just never seem to happen?

Anyway plans are afoot for hols this coming year and doubtless there will be more visitors before we know it.  Also the camera came out for its first airing in ages last weekend so must get around to posting some more images sometime soon.  Must make a point of trying to keep the website up to date more often too!

New toy time

Was having trouble using the trusty old FT747-GX mobile, its been a good old workhorse but was suffering some RF feedback issues in the car.  Well Michael SZI had been shopping around for a new HF multimode for the car and came across a fantastic deal on a new FT857D with car separation kit (so you can mount the faceplate on the dashboard and the rig in the boot) so it just had to be done!! New toy works well, in fact first outing netted 57 into Boston on 20 metres and there have been a few pile ups since, even some good Es on 6 metres while the summer has lasted. It will also work well as portable being a little bit more 'butch' than the admittedly brilliant FT817 (that I did have a hankering for) so shall need to try that side of things too (now having a 7amp 'portable' battery to use too). Shame we are running out of summer but winter tropo on 2m and even 10m could be entertaining!!

Jolly Holidays

JJ and I had our trip to France in July with a road trip up through Normandy and actually get to visit and see the coastline that we look across to from home. The weather was kind and saw some lovely places but others whilst we were pleased to see them could have been better:
St. Malo - always lovely
Mont St. Michel - nice but hideously crowded and over commercialised - pity as we'd looked forward to going there but actually preferred the Cornish one!!!!  From there on to Avranches - nice with a cracking good jazz band in the town square while we had our meal
Granville - wonderful town, arrived on Bastille day so lots happening, loved the old town, brilliant hotel
Carteret - misty and wiffy when the tide was out but nice to see the lighthouse and amazingly sandy beaches, good view of home from the cliffs!
Bricquebec - lovely medieval town, nice old manoir and town square, some nice property for sale, cheap too!!
La Rozel - the other one, not a lot there but a big campsite, nice manoir in private ownership on the edge of the village
Flamanville - nice little French town ruined by overhead power cables from nearby N power station
Goury (Cap de la Hague) - lovely little village/hamlet at Normandy's most north westerly point, must be hellish bleak in winter but nice atmosphere, good lighthouse, nice view of Alderney looking almost a stones throw away
Cherbourg - crappy, only good for ferries!!!
Barfleur - gorgeous little fishing town, brilliant food overlooking the harbour for J's birthday, nice surroundings too and Normandy's tallest lighthouse.
Had a cracking time, next anticipated visit, Brittany, in the other direction!!

Big visit in August, the entourage (Mum, Dad, Pat the dog, Sophie and Daniel) all came over for Battle of Flowers week. The forecast was desperate, the sea crossing over was awful with much sea sickness but as is traditional in Jersey the day of the battle of flowers was hot, sunny and beautiful. The tribe stayed over to the following Monday and all had
a good time despite there being six of us plus a hound in a small one bedroom cottage!!!

Astonishing neglect

Well I've neglected the website big time so determined that a sudden rush of enthusiasm should take over and actually do some updates!!! So here goes then, summer has been spent working, travelling, having visitors, sorting out some stuff, playing with toys new and old and quite possibly making some more plans for the future!! As is said, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life, so don't waste it!!

One wet Sunday we happened across Mr Bergerac's old car too!!

 

A grand day out

Warning!! Radio bit coming!!! I have only briefly dabbled with radio contesting before, mainly with a few VERY low key and none too serious attempts at the Practical Wireless VHF contest so it seemed to make sense to take it slightly more seriously this year.  The rules are relatively simple, it is limited to the amateur VHF band on 144MHz with a power limit of 3 watts and running from 9.00 to 16.00 UTC (GMT) on the second Sunday of June.  Some planning prior to the event netted a prime site on the (nearly) highest point of the island at Le Platon car park on the north coast (looking across the channel to France, Guernsey and Sark with the UK beyond), and a new (to me) antenna, a 10 element Yagi ‘monster’ that could just fit on the roof rack for transportation. Practice run on the Saturday afternoon picked the bones out of setting everything up (with the help of Mike and Vani) but with only one contact into the Torquay repeater, hmm, would have to do better than that!! Weather and tropo forecast for the Sunday was marginal but in the event, once I’d set up and tested everything the sun came out and it was an absolutely cracking day!  I was using relatively dated equipment comprising a Yaesu FT290r mk1 with an external pre-amp but it has to be said, it could hear okay!!  The old Yaesu may be slightly down on power being in excess of 25 years old now but at these levels it really is the antenna and how you use it that makes the difference. I had set myself a target beforehand, a mate of mine back on the mainland (hi Patrick) is dead keen on VHF so I set his score of last year as my ideal (24 contacts across 8 locator squares – the world is divided into squares by the International Amateur Radio Union to identify where in the world you are to other amateurs, generally it only really gets used at VHF and UHF and people will ‘collect squares’!!  (Well, we have to have something to do!!!)  North east (home) corner of Jersey is IN89xf with “India November” being the zone, “89” being the locator square and “x-ray foxtrot” the alphabetical grid identifier within the square to tie the location down to a specific area. As is the way of things a good many competitors will go romping away whether its due to location, equipment or shear manpower so as a single operator there is a theoretical disadvantage.  That said last years winner was a single operator but he was using an array of four beam antennas which probably helped!!  So it was that I got underway at 10am local time (09.00 UTC) and started slowly but reasonably surely to build up a healthy looking log.  By the 5pm (16.00 UTC) deadline I had 28 contacts across 11 squares so beat my personal target and was also pleased to have worked further and more consistently on low power VHF than I have at any time in the past!!  Furthest contact of the day was into IO 93 uk (South Humberside) but I was on occasion hearing Scotland, Southern Ireland, Belgium and even one each from Spain and from Portugal but unfortunately couldn’t get through to any of them. The band seemed to quieten down in the middle part of the day with things being VERY quiet for a long period, as it turned out it wasn’t just because it was lunchtime but the band did drop out (as confirmed subsequently by Patrick who packed up at that time).  Fortunately it opened up enough to get a few more contacts in the afternoon but it was getting hard work by then. So all in all good fun, I enjoy 2m SSB anyway but this was an eye opener at just how far it is possible to get and with minimal power.  There were lessons to be learnt though:

1.      The siting of the antenna was good but I needed to be sat with it to turn it OR have a rotator which would mean the added problem of powering it.  I just know I lost contacts because I couldn’t get to turn the beam onto an incoming signal fast enough or accurately enough before they would turn their own beam away from me. 

2.      During the quiet bits I needed to be calling CQ more then moving the beam a few degrees then calling and so forth and through 360 degrees.

3.      Having a separate receiver and a helper to monitor other frequencies whilst still calling could help matters and spread the load a bit.

4.      This all generated some interest for what was going on and could be a good advert for the club so there’s something else to think about.

Quite looking forward to the next one now though!! 73 de RobL 2J0RZD

Historic flight

Came across something in the JEP a few weeks ago about the old Douglas DC3 Dakota (Gooney Bird to those in the know!!) and that due to new rules and regulations they will soon no longer be used for public flights unless mopdified with stuff like padding, oxygen masks and escape chutes!!  Not easy in a seventy plus year old plane and probably not even really needed!!  Anyway a farewell event is touring the country and one of the weekends alotted was to be here in Jersey for Liberation Day (9th June).  So the good old credit card was forced into action and on Saturday 10th I pitched up to the airport for my flight.

It was absolutely brilliant!!  Whatsmore they were taking requests so we ended up flying not only over but right around Rozel for some superb aerial photos of home!!  See 'last chance to see?' photo album.

Back to normal..., briefly

Well as we wave off the last of our visitors for a few weeks its time to take stock and get back to normality for a while.  Work is about as mad as ever (QA audit time too!!) but thats to be expected and hopefully will be helped by the arrival back in January of the new boss who is already making his presence felt and in a good way, long may it continue!  J is doing her normal thing and exceeding the targets she gets set at work and despite muttering about the stock, the deliveries, the pricing strategy and the limited numbers of customers has really turned her department around over the last twelve months and is one of the companies best performers!!!  Ooh she is a clever girl :-)

Meanwhile I've had the unexpected thrust upon me (once again!) and am now the club secretary (designate) for the radio club here in Jersey as well as now being their website administrator with a new club website on www.radioclubs.net/gj3dvc which is worth a look (not that I am at all biased of course ;-)  As part of the fun down there we are currently in the process of refurbishing the radio shack which has to be complete by the end of May (regular updates and pics on the website above).

Long overdue for an update!

Its not that I've got fed up 'blogging' just don't seem to have had the time!! 

Been doing plenty of photography too but since Christmas I've taken the plunge into using the digital for 'RAW' imaging as opposed to letting the camera do all the processing.  JJ gave me the Photoshop Elements 6 software for Christmas which is absolutely fantastic for manipulating images and doing all the fixes you need to get the best results and lends itself to using the un-compressed RAW format straight from the camera.  Only problem is very big files and the time needed to do all the necessary fixes and post processing and then to convert the photos into JPEG format to upload to the internet.  Hence no new photos since Christmas!!  The format isn't terribly user friendly as it slows the camera down too so I'm going to go back to using JPEG for most things and just do certain images in RAW when I want the best possible results.  At least thats the theory!!  I am intending processing a batch for upload here soon though so watch this space as they say!

Not been terribly 'radio-active' (!!) of late either, HF conditions have been poor though the antique FT101ZD has been put to good use once or twice on 20 and 40 metres but VHF beyond the island has been a dead duck for a couple of months now though I did get an honourable mention in the RSGB magazine RadCom last month for my 2.5w SSB contact into Northamptonshire (465km) back in January (Big hello and thank you to Bryn G4DEZ!).

The kids came over for a week last week and had a super time with mostly good weather and are looking to coming back again in August.  Dropped them back over the weekend and then hitched a lift with Ma&Pa to come back on the ferry and they are staying for a week too.  The ferry trip was a bit of an adventure too!!  The ferry got in about one and a half hours late, I kid you not!!!  We left Mum and Dad's in Cornwall at about 9.45am and drove up to Poole where we joined the hideously long queue for the boat which took an extra half hour to board as it was so busy then they couldn't close one of the rear doors as a chain had jammed making us an hour late, that meant we then arrived late at Guernsey, another delay as the Condor Clipper was in ahead of us rather than after us and we actually arrived at Jersey just in front of it but then had to wait for an HD ferry coming out of the harbour, Mum and Dad went off to their car and I went to get off as a foot passenger as I had to go and get my car but the scissor lift had broken down so none of the foot passengers could get off until the cars had gone!!!!!!!  Good old Condor eh?!?!  What is it they say about travelling hopefully??! 

Anyway the Jersey weather is at last showing signs of improvement and the influx of visitors has now started by the look of things.  And who knows there may even be some more photos to look at soon!!

 


New gadget

The last 12 months in Jersey has seen something of a reduction in my annual mileage from, at the peak over 36k a year in the old E clas to less than 10k a year here in the new A class.  Seems not the best timing to have replaced the VHF rig with a hands free unit but it is undoubtedly better than negotiating some of Jerseys back doubles with a microphone in your hand!

So the upshot has been some shopping around, initially looking at small Yaesu 2m rig and hands free microphone and ultimately has resulted in getting a really good deal on a new FTM-10e with full hands free bluetooth adaptor and headset.  As a radio it is absolutely superb, 2m and 70cms FM and broadband VHF/UHF receive in a unit where you can mount the rig under the seat and the faceplate (which is not much bigger than a cigarette packet) on the dashboard, in this case using the supplied powerful magnet to a screw fixed metal plate.

The unit was relatively easy to fix, not so easy to understand from the mildly 'pigeon English' instructions but with judicious fiddling and playing with the multitiude of menus and functions we got there in the end.  I've been told the transmitted audio with the headset is BBC quality though there is a funny background 'beep beep' noise like a heart monitor sound when using the built in faceplate microphone but it seems to be a peculiarity of the rig.  Yaesu UK themselves said they were mystified by that one!!!

Anyway it should be entertaining to not be worrying about fiddling with a microphone and with up to 50w output power should be fun next time there's a lift.  Record so far in flat conditions is 57+ approx 50 miles into France but you can just tell it'll be capable of so much more!  The good old FT480r is now in service indoors in the shack hooked up to the 30w linear and a switch to the crossed 7element ZL-special so that should find some use still.

Radio days!

I was over to visit kids and family last October and was able to engineer things in such a way as to be able to get along to the Holsworthy amateur radio rally which made a nice change and was fortuitous!!  I've been on the lookout for a 2m or VHF beam antenna for some time, was going to hazard building one but as is the way of these things its getting around to it!!  Well at the rally I actually intercepted someone with a rather nice 2x 7 element crossed ZL-special for 2 metres who was asking directions for the bring and buy stall, so a deal was done there and then and I am now the proud owner of a beast which offers 13dbd gain for both FM and SSB at VHF!!!  To give yet a further boost the lowly 2.5watts output of the FT290r is also now fed through a 30watt linear amplifier with pre-amp (ebay) for some VHF next summer, possibly sooner!!  As a postscript the new set up has so far managed approx 465km from north Jersey into Lincolnshire, and that was QRP switching the linear out in a recent lift!

Its been quite nice to try a little QRP SSB DX'ing with the 290r out portable too, when the conditions are right its amazing just how many other amateurs crawl out of the woodwork on 2m SSB so its always worth a shout when the  pressure is high, even during the winter when the sporadic E isn't about.

Had a bit of a mishap in early January though, it gets pretty windy up at Rozel sometimes and we got home one night with some shopping, I took a routine look up at the 10m antenna on the chimney and despite it being dark the initial thought was "wheres that gone???"  It had blown down across the roof slope but fortunately (?!?) the Hustler which is ground mounted had broken its fall and no damage occurred to the roof slates..., phew!!  The radials on the Hustler aren't looking too bright though but it doesn't seem to have affected the tune on the 5 bands and it still gets out ok on 20m and 80m, I tried!!

Meanwhile its been nice to try a little mobile HF work with the FT747 but on a recent stateside net I had 3 or 4 reports of distorted audio and 'sounds like RF interference'.  Well some further mods to the /M may be needed but I think we've isolated it.  The FT747 was known as the 'plastic fantastic' because of its metallized plastic casing which is all very well but doesn't serve to insulate the inner workings from RF the way the good old all metal radios (a la FT707) did.  May end up wrapping the thing in Bacofoil..., I kid you not!!

Well followers of the doings of the "Randomly Zany Dude" may remember I was lucky enough to get an aged FT101ZD mark 2 for the princely sum of £25 but was receive only!  Well a recent Saturday afternoon's tinkering courtesy of Phil GJ4CBQ has got the old campaigner up and running again, it'll still need some aligning and I've spent a few happy evenings with the switch cleaner, meth's and cotton buds but we seem to be getting there!  It'll be fun to have the old thing working, I love my FT707 to bits but fancied a 'big rig' to play with.  Was watching an FT102 on ebay recently (including AM/FM board, SSB and CW filters) and is the successor to the FT101ZD but ultimately it went for a stonking £475!!!!  Thats silly money I reckon for a 25 year old, especially as the 101 cost £25, some switch cleaner and 2 bottles of wine!!!

Weekend away!

Well it was our first anniversary, we've known each other much longer than that but actually got it together this time last year and the rest is history as they say!!  Anyway we had a good time when we went to St. Malo earlier in the year for the office 'booze cruise' and decided we must go again for a proper explore so this was a prime opportunity. 

We took the fast ferry early on Saturday morning, it was cold but delightfully sunny in France and stayed that way all day so good for exploring and for some photos (though guess who forgot to charge the battery for the camera!!).  Food and drink was excellent and not too pricey and we had a thoroughly good time.  The Hotel faced onto the old square in the walled city which was promising, the room though was an anti climax facing out over a roof and a wall!!  Soon resolved that one though by going down, asking to change to a 'room with a view' (!) which we could but we'd have to pay extra for the upgrade..., a whole 4 euros (which in the event we didn't get charges anyway!!)

Unfortunately Sunday was cool, wet and really windy but still headed out for a little bit of an embibe before finally getting the late afternoon (and slightly choppy!) fast ferry back.  We're looking forward to the next opportunity to 'get away from it all' now..., then again we already have up to a point by living where we do!!  ;-)

 

Jersey Rally 2007

Jersey does seem to take its motorsport seriously with oodles of hillclimbs, beach and road races and last weekend was the Jersey Rally through the lanes of our fair island.  Plenty of good photo opportunities too!

Didn't have loads of time to devote to it unfortunately but Saturday morning was a good opportunity to wander up near Trinity for the Bonne Nuit stage and watch people old enough to know better having a rant around lanes in cars that are much too fast through roads that are much too narrow!  Absolutely fantastic, the sights, smells and sounds are just great and hats off to the driver of the green mk2 Escort RS who spent most of his time going sideways, he may not have been the winner but certainly took the prize for being the most spirited and entertaining driver of the day.

After the rally everything is taken down and cleared away like clockwork the only clues being the skid marks at corners and the occasional dented hedge and car paint left on the whitewash (oops!).  I took the opportunity to drive round the route after the road was re-opened and 'flipping heck!!' it scared me at 15mph let alone 50!!!!  One corner it took me three attempts to get around in the A140 so in a four wheel drive Quattro its a major feat (and ample use of the handbrake!)

Best bits can be found in the relevant photo album.

Good timing

Well whilst on the subject of ebay I've been on the lookout for some time for the E-10 vertical holding grip and heavy duty (professional!) battery pack, missed one or two, especially as they don't come cheap!!  Also since the airshow I figured I could also do with a telephoto lens to pull in the more distant subjects!!

Well good timing as there on ebay was an as new E-10 with the grip, heavy duty battery but also the telephoto, wide angle and macro lens adaptors and all for a good price!!!  Even better before I'd even won the bidding I had a buyer lined up for the soon to be 'spare' E-10!  Sorted!!!!  I love it when a plan comes together!

P.S. Hoped for sale fell through but no matter, the new one is an updated version so both are now in service!

Mobile Radio

A few modifications means the A140 is very nearly a fully operable mobile radio station - I've had 2m FM/SSB and 10m SSB in the car for some time now but all based on magmounts.  Thats fine at VHF and even 20m upwards but a permanent antenna mount for HF is definitely a must if you are at all serious about things!!  So I have set to work with the tin snips, drill and a sheet of aluminium and constructed a mounting bracket which is secured in the lip to the boot/tailgate opening.  Testing has only extended to 10m so far but more will soon follow.

When I bought the FT747 I almost got a mobile mount too but it was more than fifty quid so gave it a miss.  Well good old ebay has come up trumps again and I have got a brand new one in its box for a tenner (not bad considering they are as rare as the proverbial hens teeth!).  It will need a little tinkering and 'falsework' though - modern cars being full of curves, plastic panels and airbags cuts down the options a little but pretty soon JJ will be sharing the passenger footwell with a Yaesu (she can't wait!! ;-)  All being well that should open up the world of 17m, 20m, 40m and 80m mobile once again (it will have been a long time!). 

Of great fun and amusement I recently found a G3's website with pictures of mobile amateur radio in the early 60's.  Topband was popular mobile and its a real hoot to see old vehicles (most notably a Mini van, a Ford Popular, a Hillman Minx and even a Bedford Van) with big antennae for mobile operation, much of it putting to shame a lot of the stuff we use these days (apart from the Americans who take their 'mobiling' VERY seriously!!)  I've always enjoyed mobile operation, going and parking somewhere scenic and chatting to people around the world always had a certain appeal!

73 de 2J0RZD

Jersey Airshow 2007

 

Took the day off yesterday (13th September) to enjoy the Jersey airshow. Its a big'un, 4 hours of aircraft all shapes and sizes and era's - see new photo album - Jersey air show 2007. The show includes a static display of quite a few of the planes up at Jersey airport (though they don't let you get too close unfortunately, such are the times we live in!!



I reached my pre-determined photo location at about 11am and it was already getting busy for the 12.45 start! The choice spot appears to be on the concrete 'steps' to the sea side of 'le fregate' in St. Helier the display being planned around the West Park side of town. Was it a good location...? Well yes and no actually. Modern safety requirements are such that the hard deck for flying is at or about 100ft a.s.l. and the flight line was marked out at approximately a thumping quarter mile or so offshore!!!! Sum result is even using the good old T90 with a 300mm lens the photos are all a bit distant, certainly more distant than I would like.  The vast majority of the 450 or so photos from the E10 digital with 140mm equivalent lens were a waste of time :-( - (results from the T90 will be posted here though once I've saved up nough to get them processed and digitised).  Not only but also St. Aubins bay faces south so most of the time and especially after 4pm at this time of year the planes are backlit pretty much of the time. The answer is to be at Elizabeth Castle with a good lens or on a boat out in the bay!!

           

Anyway it was still a good show, popular highlights were of course the red arrows (marvellous) and the noisiest the Typhoon Eurofighter (awesome) especially with an 8g turn and stratosphere chasing vertical climb to about 8000 (?) feet to close his display - he basically went vertical in full re-heat until you couldn't see him anymore - even through a 300mm telephoto lens!!!! Personal favourites though (apart from those) had to be the B17, A26 Marauder, P-51 Mustang and the good old DC-3.

 

Most unusual were the Antonov AN-2 flying at walking pace without stalling (!!) and the Junkers JU-52 which with its three BMW radial engines just sounds..., weird!!!! Talking of sounds though who can beat a good old Rolls Royce Merlin (Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang) at full chat and in a slight dive across the bay, sunlight glinting off the plexi-glass canopy. Oh why didn't I become a pilot when I could have had the chance?!

 

Breathtaking as well was the Blue Falcons army helicopter display. If you've ever watched and marvelled at a prop driven stunt plane climbing and hanging on the propellor before falling out into a vertical dive then the sight of someone doing that in Lynx army helicopter is something to behold!!! I'm probably more than a little pleased that I wasn't actually on board though!! ;-)

P.S. For both aviation and motor enthusiasts it was a bad weekend (15th and 16th September 2007) with the news of the death in a helicopter crash of the outstanding rally driver and former WRC world champion Colin McRae (and his young son and passengers) and also the fatal crash of one of the Hurricanes at last weeks Jersey air show at the Shoreham air day with the death of the pilot Brian Brown.  Respect is due to both of them and condolences to their families.

Fun in the sun!!

 

The other weekend was good fun, JJ's daughter Charlotte and two of her children (Imogen and Meg) came over for the weekend to visit and to see some of Jersey. The weather was kind and allowed some suitable children orientated outings (Durrell and the beach at Greve de Lecq) as well as a barbecue on the Saturday night.
One of the kids suddenly announced on Saturday morning that they reckoned I must be a spy having a Maglite torch, binoculars and all that radio equipment and aerials!!!!!

 

Anyway they had a good time and announced that they didn't want to go home so we took that to be a good sign, overseas espionage or not!!!

Radio developments August 07

Well a slight improvement in circumstances has finally allowed the acquisition of the long awaited Hustler 5-BTV antenna for use from home for the 80m, 40m, 20m, 15m and 10m (and with subtle modification even 17m) use.  The antenna was finally erected and guyed last Saturday being ground mounted at the back of the house and it just remains to wire in and fine tune so looking forward to that.

Mike assisted with the construction on Saturday though we did get a little sidetracked with a tropo opening on 2m resulting in using the QRP FT290r with the 6element Yagi to chat to a bloke in Newhaven for over an hour (hello Colin G3ZAF) both via Bournemouth repeater and simplex FM.  Which has now prompted the next possible project to materialise in my fertile mind!!!!  Ever on the look out for a future project I got to thinking about our 2m QRP working into Newhaven and figured I could do with a mini-beam up on the TV aerial post - found one (an HB9CV) on the net which looks pretty neat, hardly noticeable I would have thought and I'll probably take down the now redundant TV aerial and use its bracket.  It will probably also replace the slim jim ultimately which is effectively doing bugger all!!  Thinking of having a go at putting it together in copper pipe and connectors so could be worth a try.  The thing should give up to about 5dbd gain and the vertically polarised (for FM) pattern is such that I could fix it facing north east (hence no need for a rotator) and cover the south coast pretty much from Weymouth up to Dover as well as the inland parts like Wells and Weston repeater and beyond in the right conditions!!!!  Blimey..., that has to be worth a try!!!!!  Better get back into scrounging mode I reckon!!!

Toujour St. Malo!

Jersey office has an annual outing (or 'booze cruize') and this year was no exception with a jolly little trip to the medieval walled town of St. Malo just a little over an hour away on the fast ferry.  It was a little bit of an early start with a sailing at 08.45 but allowed a pleasant mornings brief stroll and then a remarkably elongated lunch extending up to the late afternoon sailing time before coming back and adjourning for a 'few' in St'Helier before the battle of flowers parade.  We gave up waiting for that though and headed home being ever so slightly 'the worse' and for my own part I will admit that Saturday morning was a wipe out!!!  Still nothing comes without a price I suppose!

 

Satellite delay!!

Well its been a busy old month so not really had the time to get around to blogging anything very much so by way of an update here goes!!

Ma&Pa were over for a holiday last month and this was followed up by two of JJ's friends visiting for her birthday and then my two illustrious teenagers coming over for a weeks holiday (first time here and on the way back the first time by air which they loved!).  They had a great time and are now looking forward to coming again so we'll have to see what can be done!  Anyway the weather was mainly good and they loved visiting places like Corbiere and especially enjoyed St Ouens beach and Portelet.  I think they were actually sorry to go, Sophie even going as far as to say how she'd like to live here!!!  Well who knows what the future may bring!  They particularly liked if we were in St. Helier going in to visit JJ at work and making her jump when we'd appear next to her!  They also liked renting a four wheeled cycle and pedalling out to First Tower for lunch.  The blooming things are quite heavy though and not too easy to keep going but all attempts to lose it or get it knicked failed though apparently one was buried on the beach once!

Well latterly J's friend Matt has been over again and it would be no surprise to find him spending more time on the island, its really that infectious!

Playing at radio again!

Saturday turned out nice so new radio 'chum' Mike MJ3SZI and myself (with Mikes good lady Vani in tow) headed up to the north coast high ground at Le Platon to try out some radios.  All in all a successful afternoon Mike notching up 18 or so 20 metre contacts to all parts (it seemed) east, with lots of Russian and eastern Europeans contesting.  The only trouble with both of us working off magmounts limiting activity to 20m it kind of rules out both operating at the same time.  So yours truly fiddled about on 10 metres for a while which was a bit flat (5/9 into Croatia though on Es!) and then gave the FT290r its first proper airing on 2 metres with the homemade beam.  Worked well too, good SSB contact to bottom end of Cornwall but he was amplified with more power and after bigger fish in Eastern Europe being geared up for it, but once polarised vertically 2.5 watts and beaming north opened up the Dorchester and Torbay repeaters a treat!!  Best contact of the day though had to be me old mate Jules M1AGY who was tuned to GB3TR, stopped in a layby at the top of the Plympton bypass and less than 3 miles from where I used to live in Plymouth!  Direct distance of about 120 miles I reckon..., on 2.5 watts with failing batteries.  Thats not bad for a first try and was even starting to get a repeater pile up at one stage (if thats possible ;-)  It was then that I turned around and realised I'd managed to get an audience too you see I'd lashed the beam to the side of a bench and was sat with the rig next to me enjoying the sun!  Ah well heres to the next sporadic E lift and sunny day.

Jersey in the rain!

Believe it or not I am now in my sixth month on the island and I can safely say it was the right decision at the right time.  The original basis was a six month work placement and was soon extended to twelve months but the way things have settled down (combined with the way I feel about the place) there is little likelihood of me going back for the foreseeable future.  Those who really know me will undoubtedly have picked that up a long time ago..., lets just say I feel I have found a niche and I am more than happy to stay here and see where it leads

 

Even better JJ seems to be settled too..., I will still admit a degree of amazement that she was willing to uproot herself to come here to join me.  There have been tribulations with various things but all are external matters and we have something here and in being together we are both so pleased and happy about.

We are really getting to know the island too and feel that it has wrapped itself around us and taken us in so to speak.  Its nice to feel that way about a place and I for one am not sure if I've ever felt that way about somewhere.  I like the way it has the feel of a small town or parish, sure people know everyone else and in all probability their business but everyone seems to take a pride in the place too.  Been meaning to put it down for a while but I like the way the streets are not just cleaned but washed down everyday in St.Helier, that it doesn't really matter where you are on the island but it all feels cared for and cared about.  Not being a particularly political animal I know there are grumblings about various aspects of the running of things in certain quarters but hey, where isn't there?!  It is quite entertaining though to listen and just smile when you hear an islander or long term resident bemoaning the organisation of the States (never mind eh!), the level of taxation (no longer the tax haven it once was but still pretty good for a mainlander ;-) and the cost of petrol (significantly cheaper than the mainland)!

Its a bit of a shame that the 'real' Jersey weather hasn't arrived yet but at least we've not disappeared under the flood waters or a high tide yet!!  Hopefully better is coming, the kids will be here for a week in late July and JJ's daughter plus two grandchildren will be here for a long weekend in early September so hopefully summer will have arrived by then.

Radio update for June 07

Well what a funny old month - some quite interesting contacts on HF, have actually come across some people who want to have a chat rather than just saying 5/9 (!!) so all good stuff.  I have been lucky enough too to have come upon some secondhand and surplus radio equipment for 'the right price' so the shack is now looking even better - latest acquisitions include:

Yaesu FT101ZD mk1 - hefty old HF transceiver, sold as seen, filthy dirty, been in a loft for in excess of 10 years and not in a box!  Good receive, has cleaned up nice, no transmit - shame!  Don't know if it'll be tempted back into life, it may take a better tinkerer than me!!  First trial as receive only was listening late one night to USA and Kuwait on 20m with only a patch lead for an aerial!!

 

Yaesu FT290R mk1 - the original portable SOTA rig - excellent condition, cheap as chips on ebay and should work a treat on 2m SSB with the home made 'back pack' 6ele Yagi.

MFJ259 - SWR analyser - just brilliant for fixing building and checking antennas and 'stuff' and has already allowed the resurrection of the formerly partially destroyed Watson 7/8 mobile whip for 2m using a length of s/s weld rod.

Realistic HTX-100 - 10metre SSB mobile transceiver - cheap as chips again and in good nick, ideal for the car especially as 2m FM mobile in Jersey is desperately under used so a bit of mobile HF Es sounds promising, will be connecting it to a...,

DV27 - as new, cheaper than chips!!!!  Bought on ebay (ostensibly for the 5/8" threaded mount and co-ax) for under a fiver which spookily is what the original cost new 25 years ago when your truly was in to CB!!!  SWR comes down nicely in the 10m SSB portion of the band, rated to 50W which is fine as the HTX is 25W out, yet to be tried in anger!

3 band trapped wire dipole - free!!!!  Thanks Terry!!!!!  Was to all intents and purposes redundant in his garage and is the perfect size for the back of L'Abri du Cotil as a slightly sloping 'V' beaming E.N.E. toward France, Eastern Europe and the UK.  Perfect on 20m (no ATU) but dicey unmatched for 15m, 10m iffy unless QRP but does at least allow the proper use of the 10m 5/8 wave for its intended purpose.

Comprehensively knackered half size G5RV - been re-building that one but should be interesting if I ever get it up high enough!!

Nearer thy God than thee!!

The weather on the mainland the last few weeks has been basically awful, mostly good here which was a bit of luck as Ma&Pa came to stay for a week or so and it stayed fine most of the time.  Yesterday the weather made up for it by pouring all day which was a bit of a worry as today I was surveying a church roof and spire!!  Quite good fun really as I hired a HIAB (or cherry picker) so I literally could get up to the top of the spire and prod and poke it to my hearts content - nothing like a bit of aggressive building surveying sometimes though it was still windy and in truth a bit of a relief to get down again at the end.  As I write this the wind is howling around the office windows (ITS LUNCHTIME!!) and the car is getting sand blasted in the seafront car park in St.Helier and its just started raining again.  Ah well, apparently God wasn't in too vexatious a mood today as I'm still here to tell the tale!

 

PS.  Just joined the Jersey amateur radio club GJ2A which seems great, nice people, good toys (mostly Yaesu's - Rob's favourite ;-) and all housed (like it or loathe it) in a 1943 German concrete communications bunker!!!  Good location for aerials though being up above Corbiere.  All of which reminds me, when it stops raining I've got to get up on the roof to put a couple of antennae in place (10m and 2m) - could do with the HIAB!!

All change!

Its a shame really as J was really enjoying her new job but was a bit concerned as not long after starting she was rather ill.  turns out she has a wheatflour and yeast allergy, hmm, not ideal working in a bakery then so that ended all too abruptly.  Shame as she enjoyed the job and got on well with the people but the hair net and baseball cap were never her favourite fashion accessories!!  ;-)  Still fate has a strange way about it on occasion and the day she left the bakery she had a call to arrange an interview for what is generally held to be the islands foremost department store..., and the next day she was confirmed as having the job - with better hours and pay!!  Not too bad then; funny how things work themselves out sometimes!!

JJ's new job

Getting a job here wasn't as straightforward as J had hoped quite a lot of them requiring 5 years residency and the levels of pay for many of them actually being quite poor!  The image of Jersey as being for the rich is one thing but as a newcomer it apparently is not so easy.  Anyway as is the way of things J suddenly had a crop of interviews and potential offers but best of the bunch was for a bakers in the central market.  Initial concerns over the nature of the work have soon passed and J is now quite enjoying it ..., plus there is a ready supply of bread, buns, croissants, cakes ..., pretty much anything really as there is always more left at the end of the day than they can sell :-)  Downside is all the bread based products could pile on pounds so a little moderation is a good thing.

We have also worked out why once outside of St. Helier there seem to be so few shops especially secondhand shops, bookshops and the like.  Jersey residents it seems like nothing more than a car boot sale!!  We actually happened across three last Sunday morning and now have some extra bits and pieces not only for the garden but some reading matter too!!

Gardening...., do what?!?!?

 Neither JJ or myself have ever been particularly keen gardeners, the spectre of grass cutting and tending what seemed like acres of weed infested suburbia have taken their toll on both of us I suppose but recent developments at L'Abri du Cotil have seen something of a resurgence of interest in all things horticultural!!  I suppose its a symptom of having an outdoors that you really feel you can use for things other than just parking the car or aerial rigging and has resulted in 'obtaining' some local stone to build a front rockery and introducing some terracotta (massive) pots for trees and 'stuff' to the front and the rear.  That as well as the steel balls/boules in pride of place on the front gravel and the place is really looking rather good.  Downside (theres always one) is the significantly large maritime pine tree at one end of the drive that drops 'bits' as well as leaves from other neighbouring trees that regularly cover the front and rear areas as well as getting into the gutters.  So a further acquisition has been a leaf blower (and God forbid) garden vacuum!!!!!!!  Those who know me will be aware of my slight vacuum cleaner aversion but this one is quite cool because it sucks up the leaves and shreds them too!  JJ has challenged me on the whole sitting still and enjoying the garden thing though, being an inveterate tinkerer and potterer abouterer (!!) I always seem to be fiddling about with something rather than sitting still.  Better get back into some serious book reading and view admiring I suppose!

Radio Active

Now the radios are useable again its been nice to try and get on the air a little.  The antenna needs fettling and ideally a bit more height though so that is the next task but had some reasonable HF contacts but not quite enough time to sit and try to break the recent pile ups for Saudi, Israel, Cyprus and China (oh yes!!).  Was trying to get through a pile up to a 5/5 expat in Cyprus when two successive chinese stations called him, both a good honest 5/9!!  Unsurprisingly the frequency went haywire and our poor countryman was swamped in the ensuing rush by everyone in western Europe trying to muscle in on the action.  Unfortunately it appears the good manners which used to be associated with our beloved amateur radio has gone the way of much these days.

Still a recent crop of QSL cards from the buro has re-kindled the interest, particularly as more than half of them were from contacts made who I didn't expect to send or want a card so a little catch up to do and it has prompted me to produce a new card now I'm on the island (see photo!).  Hope to get a print run organised as soon as and then hit the airwaves again with gusto!! 73

 

New life, old shoes!!

Well what a change around this has all been.  JJ is now firmly ensconced at L'Abri du Cotil and we are having a great time.  Theres been a bit of adjusting to do obviously and J is now actively job seeking (she says she will be a lot more settled once there is a bit of security in that direction) but I can honestly say that things here are wonderful, life is good and to quote from a wonderful web entry I recently saw (from someone I feel I know though have never met) which I can completely understand and appreciate:-  "When she smiles her whole face lights up.  I am content just to be beside her and breathe the same air as she does.  I miss her even if she has gone for 5 mins and I keep looking out of the window for when she returns."  Lets simply say that J has really turned my life around and I could not imagine life without her now, she is my dream come true and I will never willingly or consciously upset undermine or lose her.

 

Old shoes...?  Yeah the favourite old 'CAT' boots are now close to death and there is little more that can be done for them so better sort that out sometime soon.  They had a good innings though..., about 11 years I think!!

Shack up and running!!

Radio bit time!

Spent Sunday afternoon fiddling about with wires and antennas and it appears with some success!!  I now have temporary 20/17/15 metre antenna in the back garden and HF is once more accessible, first contact using 50 watts to Italy with a solid radio 5 signal 7 (he was 59+20 but admittedly using 200watts and a beam!).  So that particular avenue of pleasure has re-opened.  For the radioheads who get to this page the working conditions are as follows:

Yaesu FT747-GX and Yaesu FT707, 50 watts out (in compliance with license conditions) through a 10 metre waveband 5/8 wave vertical, currently ground mounted but, subject to planning to be chimney mounted on a 6 foot aluminium pole and hopefully pending the future installation of a Hustler vertical.  2 metres is also accessible using Yaesu FT480R, 10 watts out (FM and SSB) through a 'slim jim' folded dipole or a 6 element yagi beam as required. 

Not a lot happening on 2 metres currently but I am admittedly 'in the shelter of the hillside' but facing into Normandy so watch this space!!

 

Momentous days

 

Four months ago (let alone 6 months!) I could not have foreseen just where I'd be right now or how things would be.  There are so many crossroads and options in life.  A crossroads was reached which has led here and while there will be regrets about some of the past that is, and I quote "tucked away in its own little box marked special" and this is where things are now and in all honesty I could not see myself being anywhere else now.  JJ will be moving over at Easter now and we can't wait for our new life together.  I am just very aware that the future has never looked so bright, long may it continue to be that way.  I think I've said before that just maybe there are reasons for everything but sometimes it feels like perhaps my old Nan if she's watching is smiling.  I hope so!

Out and about in Rozel

 Well the house is about as I'd like it but as with anything there will always be bits and pieces to do.  The driveway is in the middle of being re-surfaced with gravel, one ton was put in place by yours truly this morning (Saturday) another ton arrives onMonday for the second half of the drive!!  Looking good.  Other projects to do involve the mundane, cleaning out gutters, touching in/repainting the house sign, putting up a short wave and a VHF (2 metre) amatuer antenna, TV isa bit dismal so we may get Sky in!!  Odds and ends but all going towards making the place home.  I was fairly adamant that the next place (after the flat in Plymouth) should be a house and something that I would choose in the kind of place I could really enjoy living.  BINGO!!  I know its still a rent but the place and its environs is just great.  After shovelling a ton of gravel this morning had a nice long walk out and about in the sun after an absolutely cracking lunch at the hungry man and a good opportunity for some more photography.  Work is good too, busy but better that way than the other, only downside brought some stuff home to do over the weekend but rough with the smooth I guess.  Quite entertaining to see some old episodes of Bergerac now I live in Jersey and see some places that I actually now know!!

Island hopping

 

The advantage (one of many actually) I have found with working on the island is that there is more than one island!! Today I had the very great pleasure of getting up at 6am but the good bit was it was a lovely sunny day for the short (fifteen minutes) flight to Guernsey. Never been there before either (apart form looking out of a plane window on a 10 minute stopover) and the first impressions are good. Seems if anything even more laid back than Jersey, St.Peter Port looked lovely, had some nice shops (though I was there for work, honest! ;-) and lacked the bustle and rush of St.Helier. I was there ostensibly to measure up a building for new windows and go and look at some new flats being built. One of the penthouse units there has been sold for three and a half 'big ones' (and I'm not talking thousands here!!) though it did have breathtaking views of the island of Herm and the bay. So for information it seems Guernsey has its fare share of millionaires too!!

 

Finding time to sit at a street cafe for a coffee and a Danish on the way back was a highlight too and I'm looking forward to visiting for pleasure soon with J. The only thing is J is fine with big planes, the smaller the plane the less confident she gets. Potential problem here then, Aurigny who are the best bet for local flights use a Britten Norman Trislander which for those in the know (or not for that matter) is a triple propellor engined 15 seater. about the size of a Transit van but only the width of a small car, noisy, cramped but 'oh boy' you KNOW you're flying!! There's no flight attendant (theres no corridor for he/she to push a trolly along - though I have it on good authority in cold weather the pilot offers his flask around), there's no safety drill (but there is a label next to your seat saying simply "life jacket under seat") but you never go above 1000 feet so its not too far to jump! It was slightly concerning/amusing (not decided which yet) when on the return flight the pilot (there is only one) got his paper out to read!!  The only downside to all of this was getting back to reality on arrival back in Jersey at 2.30pm to then still put in a good honest days work in the office. Still never mind, summer is coming!

P.S. Driving back to the office and did a double take..., Saxon (the great white hound) has a relative in Jersey, not as large but still big white and fluffy, and abolutely adorable!

Update time

Well its high time the long threatened / promised news was publicised!!  In May my lovely lady JJ will be coming across to Jersey to move in with me!!!  We are both dead chuffed and I'm pleased to say the family and friends who have been party to the knowledge already have all been really pleased for us too.  I said that 2007 would be a fresh start, a new chapter if you like and is it ever.  The enforced separation has been hard work, it would be for anyone, but has I'm pleased to say just reinforced what we both already knew, that we want to be together and 'our' little house in Rozel is where we both want to be.  Whatever the past it seems that just maybe these things are all for a reason, I don't pretend to know, we just have to make the best of things as time goes on I suppose but its nice to see things coming together and in a really positive way.

All happening!

Well its Thursday and I've nearly been here for a week!!!!  In some ways it feels much longer (not seeing JJ) in other I don't know where the time goes.  Well Jersey is just lovely, the house is great and improving all the time.....!  Pourquoi??  Ma & Pa came over with me on Friday and have been a great help with all the cleaning, sorting and decorating I wanted to get done and haven't left yet!!  Hopefully the weekend will see a little more exploring than working and we can get to do some of the more touristy things!  The camera is of course taking a pounding forcing me to buy another 1GB memory card and hopefully some stuff will be uploaded soon.  I see my online memory limit is in no immediate danger so it sounds rather like it'll be photo a go-go right through the summer!!!

Oh yeah, the job is pretty good too, builders are just as mad here as on the mainland but I suppose I half expected that!  Surprise out of all of it is that I now commute to work on the bus!! Public transport is cheap and efficient whilst parking in St.Helier is a bit dicey and not cheap!!!!  Ah well more will follow soon, the place is looking quite organised and I'll soon have broadband at home which will help no end!!

Busy old time!!

 Well the build up to Jersey has gone remarkable quickly and the time has now arrived!! As a precursor we went across to Jersey mid January, ostensibly to find me somewhere to live and success first time around! I had seen a small ad in the local paper website for a cottage and it was the first and only property I looked at. It is a small cottage/bungalow just above the village of Rozel in the north east corner of Jersey about 25minutes drive from St.Helier and it is absolutely beautiful. Photos will be posted later onto this site but it looks like it is going to be a great place to live, overlooking the sea with the coast of Normandy about 14miles away and clearly visible. The rest of the time was spent sorting out the nitty gritty of island life (tax, NI, electricity etc.), dodging showers as the weather was grim a lot of the time but for one day (in Rozel) when the sun came out while we had lunch sat on the quayside. Lunch was a bacon butty from what I am advised is the best purveyor of such things in the whole island, possibly in the world!!

Not only all of this but I am actually looking forward to starting work over there (which as my initial workload will be more QS than BS must be saying something). There seems to be plenty of opportunity for photography over there so watch the site for 'new stuff'. I am also reliably informed that it is a good location for radio (HF) being a sought after DXCC and IOTA location and my new landlord says he is happy for me to put up an antenna (or two?!) so some late into the night DX'ing may well be on the cards!

Well, I don't know when the next post will be as I am in the throws of packing everything up, most of it to go into storage (hateful process) but quite looking forward to the setting up and sorting out process as well as a bit of decoration all of which I am looking forward to in a slightly masochistic way! Well thats it for a while as I will need to sort out internet etc. once I am over there and won't even have a PC for a little while (other than the work one but that one may block my site so we shall see. See you soon!!

PS - stop press - only just got around to posting this one and the one way ticket and ferry are ready for the off in the morning, there will be more and in all probability startling news in the offing but that is something for another day I think!

Goodbye old friend!

 Well the old car has finally gone, was a good car and never ACTUALLY let me down though did have a few tantrums and was getting more expensive to run as a result. But the good news, she has gone to a good home, back to Wembury actually which is where she came from and is now owned by someone who I know will take good care of her and treat her well with the respect she deserves, Aah!! Sounds like putting an old horse out to grass but I suppose in a way I have. USV was 'MY' car for two and a half years, saw some huge changes in my life, saw the laughter and the tears, if an inanimate object can be a friend I suppose she was. Its like I said though, the time has come for a new start in lots of ways and parting with USV has been one of those changes. Poor old bus, she's gone but she won't be forgotten.

For those lucky enough to know me...!

Please let me introduce you to JJ, a very special lady who makes me smile and the future look bright again!!!!!

New gadget

If you go to pictures you will see a new directory for the new toy - an absolutely cracking Olympus E-10 digital SLR camera - the results have been brilliant and though its not new or the latest technology I am well pleased - more will follow no doubt.

Work in progress

Well after a bit of tinkering and to-ing and fro-ing I have at long last been able to get the 'slightly' outdated Plymouth Radio Club website on www.parc.org.uk updated and modified and looking thouroughly 21st century.  The original link still leads to it but its own identity (courtesy of the good old RSGB) will work too on www.radioclubs.net/g3prc so if you are reading this and like radio give it a look.  It'll mean it can be kept more up to date to as it works a little more intuitively than the old one. 

 Also I know I've been a little remiss with keeping the blog updated lately, work internet is now in its infinite wisdom blocking my access to it so I'm having to 'hot desk' with Mum's PC until I get my own internet..., one day!  :-)

I was always taught to listen!

(Names changed to protect the ‘less than’ innocent)

"Golf three x-ray yankee zulu this is two echo zero romeo zulu delta please advise your location…,… golf three x-ray yankee zulu go ahead please…,… hello?...? Am I getting out???" This was the way an admittedly rather one sided conversation went very recently. The station in question ultimately turned out to be within 100 yards of me but was concealed by a copse of trees and I’d been looking for him for 10 minutes or so and had called him several times, so despite the fact I knew he was on frequency G3 wasn’t listening was he?!

As if that was not enough I was holding an enjoyable conversation with a new acquaintance on a local repeater just the other night. Admittedly we had almost finished but I was rather dismayed when an experienced amateur cut in calling another, equally experienced individual who answered him and proceeded to block the repeater by continuing to transmit whilst looking up some information for the caller. The calling station was admittedly mortified apologising profusely stating he had not realised his volume control was set low when I (politely) called in and dare I say admonished him for cutting in. But the question that formed itself in my mind is they couldn’t both have had their volume down or the second station would not have heard the first calling through…, now would he?!? Right, rant over!

As I got out of the car one night after a repeater conversation a car pulled up and the driver asked ‘are you Rob?’ Yeeees!? He had just bought a scanner and had been listening in on 2 metres, was intrigued by the new world he had discovered and was keen to know some more. Lets hope we see him at the club soon. He has got off to a good start after all, as the training team always tell us, ‘listen listen listen’!

73 de Rob 2E0RZD

I love HF!

A recent conversation with a (very) learned amateur chum indicated that there seems to be a need for a basic and straightforward guide to the HF bands, not on the frequencies, we have the band plans for that but rather to give some sort of guidance as to the nature of the bands. This is a subject which has been written about extensively over many years and this is at best a brief introduction so is intended as nothing more. Deliberate omission is 136kHz which can be classified as an LF band.

‘Top band’ – 160 metres (1.81-2.00MHz)

just above the medium wave broadcast band

in daylight hours best suited to local communications

after dark range achievable increases significantly and potentially intercontinental contacts are possible particularly in the winter

high levels of atmospheric noise especially during summertime

popular at the sunspot minimum with long ranges possible

80 metres (3.50-3.80MHz)

in daylight hours relatively easy communications up to 300km, very popular band for such local contacts

after dark range achievable increases greatly

round the world contacts possible at dusk and dawn, especially during the winter

60 metres (5.2585, 5.2785, 5288.5, 5.3985 & 5.4035MHz USB – channelised)

only available for full licensees who have applied for and hold an NOV to be able to use this temporary and experimental allocation

channelised as noted as only specific frequencies are available for use

interesting DX possible with the long distance qualities of 40 metres but without the shortwave broadcast QRM

40 metres (7.00-7.20MHz)

small band but good for DX (long distance) contacts

long distance contacts possible during the day but increases significantly after dark and during the winter

particularly popular around the sunspot minimum as long range contacts are still possible

dusk and dawn long distance (greyline propagation) stations can be heard

7.1 to 7.2MHz is a relatively recent addition to the band in the UK but on a secondary basis. This means the band is shared with other users, foreign broadcast stations who have precedence so DON’T INTERFERE!

30 metres (10.10-10.15MHz)

Narrow band modes such as CW (morse code) and digimodes only other than for emergency use

Again radio amateurs are secondary users of this band

20 metres (14.00-14.35MHz)

this is the main long distance band but is affected by the time of day, season and the sunspot cycle, the band can close late at night

dusk and dawn long distance stations can be heard

during the sunspot maximum the band can remain open during the night

there are few times when some form of DX stations are not contactable even using relatively low power and basic antennas

17 metres (18.068-18.168MHz)

relatively narrow band but capable of giving good results

quieter than 20metres as there is no contest activity

propagation conditions are similar to 20metres but being higher in frequency generally works better during the day and closes earlier at night as well as being more affected by the sunspot cycle

15 metres (21.00-21.45MHz)

very popular band though more affected by the state of the sun

during sunspot minimum no stations may be heard and will often close at night

signal strengths can be higher than on 20metres and at sunspot maximum the band will remain open well into the night

broadcast band immediately above this band can give a good indication as to whether the band is open

12 metres (24.89-24.99MHz)

narrow band (similar to 17metres) but similar in propagation to 10 metres a little higher in frequency

relatively high frequency means band is greatly affected by the sunspot cycle but when it is open the band can give good results

after dark signals fall away and in the morning it takes a time for long distance stations to emerge

10 metres (28.00-29.70MHz)

highest of the true short wave or HF bands and becomes available for foundation license holders from 1st December 2006

a very good band when open but very dependant on the sunspot cycle

like 12metres mainly a daytime band but at sunspot maximum can stay open into the night and when open very long distance stations can be contacted

at sunspot minimum sporadic E can give rise to some long distance contacts

at the high end of the band FM operation takes place (FM calling frequency 29.600MHz) and there is even some repeater activity. There is currently only one FM repeater in the UK at Northampton (output 29.640MHz, input 29.540MHz) but various European and even American repeaters can be heard with the right conditions

Above this level we get into the VHF bands (50MHz, 70MHz and 144MHz) and the UHF bands (430MHz and above) which work completely differently and are perhaps a subject for another day!

I don’t profess to be an expert, no-one can and we never stop learning. I hope this is helpful to one and all but I’m sure you’ll forgive any omissions or errors (and I’m sure someone will point them out to me!!)

73 de Rob 2E0RZD

Harrowbeer Aerodrome

The patch of land bounded by the Yelverton roundabout and the A386 Plymouth to Tavistock road six miles from Plymouth known as Leg ’o’ Mutton corner was, I am sure a good many of you will know, a second world war airfield known as Harrowbeer Aerodrome.  Little evidence of the airfields previous use remains it having reverted to nature and is now mainly scrub and heathland grazed by sheep but is also enjoyed by families as a large flat area ideal for playing games, flying kites and dog exercising. 

Some 65 years ago the situation was a lot different.  Great Britain was at war with Germany, the Battle of Britain had been won but the end of the war was still some way off and as far as anyone in the UK was concerned the end was nowhere in sight.  The likelihood of invasion was ever present as well as the risk of attack from the air.  Plymouth and most particularly Devonport was a key target being an important naval base and to provide defence to this and other strategic south west targets the RAF built aerodromes at Harrowbeer and Roborough (now the site of Plymouth airport) specifically to defend the city.  Harrowbeer was built not only for this purpose but to act as a satellite airfield for Exeter aerodrome (now Exeter airport) and to cater for aerial patrols extending along the south coast of England and down to the coast of France.  Satellite airfields were intended to provide backup landing fields as main stations were coming under continual heavy attacks from the Luftwaffe.  Most satellite fields were simply grass landing strips with a minimum of facilities however Harrowbeer would be different. 

Fair weather walking!

 Well we seem to have 'cracked it' this time so to speak.  The CBW Plymouth office moor walk for August arranged by yours truly sounded promising, sunny August, good Pub with sensibly priced food and a very scenic route.  So there was a bit of concern getting up early on the Sunday morning when it was grey, cloudy and just starting to rain but driving up through Princetown and on to Dartmoor it soon became clear the poor weather was only low lying.  we had a good number for the walk and the weather was fantastic, bright and sunny but with a refreshingly cool breeze.

We set out from the Warren House Inn near Postbridge (O/S grid reference SX674809), which is certainly remote and is the third highest Pub in England at approximately 427 metres above sea level. 

From the pub we struckout across open moorland (higher moor than last time) an area know as Headland Warren with hut circles stone rows and disused mine workings across and around Hookney Tor and then down to the iron age village of Grimspound.  This brought us on to part of the route of the two moors way (which runs across Exmoor and Dartmoor) on Hamel Down.  From here we continued past the crash site of a WWII bomber as far as Two Burrows and then a detour back down into the valley past Challacombe Farm, and a cut up between the edge of Soussons Wood and Challacombe Down to the Warren House Inn for lunch.

The ultimate covert amateur radio station?

I was in two minds about publishing this one to the blog but it is a 'thumping good yarn' and with due deference to anyone from Argentina "ITS NOTHING PERSONAL" - this entry appeared in PRC's June newsletter, QUA.

25 years ago next year (2nd April 1982 to be specific) Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands which despite being in the South Atlantic is a dependency of the UK.  Radio communications were vital to island life, in 1982 the manually operated telephone system extended only a short distance from Port Stanley and hundreds of islanders relied on a government administered radio-telephone communications system. 

Lighthouse keeper Reginald Silvey was a former British Antarctic Survey radio expert and enjoyed amateur radio as his hobby from a fairly remote cottage on the islands under the callsign VP8QE.  Two days after the invasion Reg started to transmit information on the invading Argentine forces to the UK.  Propagation was good at the time and Reg was able to transmit on 21MHz using up to 100 watts using an Atlas transceiver, mainly during evenings (UK time). 

Argentine forces had banned radios but Reg had handed in a spare radio smuggled to him by a friend and had taken down his landmark antenna.  Instead he adapted a simple substitute turning a steel cored washing line into a (fairly!) long wire across his garden and illegally acquired a notice signed by the Argentine military governor denying entry to Argentine soldiers and stating that his house had been cleared by the military police.  From this point on Reg started a series of clandestine transmissions which would continue for the remainder of the occupation. 

Photo a go go!

I have always loved picture taking and have been the (very) proud owner of a Canon T90 35mm SLR for fast approaching 15 years!  The T90 is generally acknowledged to be the ultimate incarnation of the manual focus 35mm film based SLR camera, some will even go as far as to say it is superior in operation and build quality to current professional and semi-professional digital SLR cameras.  Well I wouldn’t know – I have had neither the money or the compunction to find out.  What I do know though is that the T90 is still a tremendous package, very capable and produces brilliant results 20 years after its introduction and I wouldn’t be without mine.  That said however it is now becoming apparent that digital is the new God so to speak, not surprising given its convenience and effectiveness, I cheat by getting films printed and put onto CD at the same time!   

It has become increasingly apparent over the last 12 months that the choice of photographic film is becoming less as digital has really taken off.  Almost since I started using the T90 I have also used Kodak Gold Ultra 400asa print film, and use 36 exposure film (otherwise its gone before you know it!) but its getting rarer than the proverbial now!  Its still possible to get some good deals online but it really seems to be an indicator of the way things are going.  Is this going to mean a transition into digital proper?   

Sometimes it’s better just to arrive!!

 Well I’ve been on my travels again…, bit of a mixed bag this time and that wasn’t just the contents of my dirty laundry bag!!  This was to be a two day jaunt to Brussels for two more surveys and to survey a building I didn’t get told formed part of the portfolio last time.  Apparently the selling agent didn’t tell us about it because he’s not the managing agent and didn’t know whom to call!
 
I was to have assistance this time from Clare (the bosses wife) who is also a building surveyor…, and has a company credit card!  Brussels Airlines used to fly out of Bristol on a Sunday evening but have now changed it to the afternoon which would have meant leaving home at lunchtime so neither of us wanted to do that.  It was left I’d collect Clare just after 3.30am (oh yes) to travel up to Bristol for the 6.50am flight (see previous posting).
 
I set my wonderful Nokia phone to wake me at 2.45am and turned in at 9pm, woke up at 11.59pm, then again wondering what time it was, 3.15am and the phone had switched itself off despite having been charged up on Friday and Sunday.  Some slight panic ensued and I left Plymouth with lightning arcing out of the sky to arrive at Clare’s house at 3.45am.  There was a light on but no answer at the door so I switched my work phone on to find 2 missed calls, two texts and a voice mail, all from Clare to say she was travelling up Sunday evening and would meet me at the airport.  Hmm thanks then, how many times has Adrian rung me on my home phone thinking it was my work number yet this time they only used my work number which I always leave switched off at the weekend.  Not to worry.

Always liked this!

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came! One, two! One, two!

And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

Kindred spirit!

 For those of a certain age who remember 'Roobarb and Custard' (green dog, pink cat, fabulously irritating music!) we suddenly realised there was a distinct likeness with a certain family member!!

Travelling Again!

You have to be careful what you wish for as I have recently found out when the question of working in the EU came up at a recent office meeting.  The last time I worked abroad was about three years ago in Brussels and our ‘Belgian connection’ came up trumps again when yours truly was asked to go to the land of paté and pine trees once more.  This time it was to carry out due diligence building inspections of some distribution logistics premises (what used to be known as warehouses!!)
 
All of this fell in the week of the Whitsun Bank Holiday and meant travelling up to Bristol the Monday evening to catch ‘the red eye flight’ at 6.50am the next morning.  The good bit is you at least get in to Brussels reasonably early (though the queue for a taxi was horrendous taking about half an hour!) and then to cap it all the taxi driver didn’t know where I was going and had to keep referring to a map!  Whatever happened to ‘the knowledge’?  Well at least it was a nearly new and leather lined Mercedes which is just as well as we nearly had an altercation with a very large Belgian lorry, I could see what was going on from the back so I wonder about the capabilities of the driver.  He did seem to huff and puff a bit when I asked for a receipt and he didn’t get a tip!!!!  Never mind eh?
 
While I was away the UK weather was apparently really good, yeah cheers, apart from the occasional sunny spell it poured with rain and was cold while I was there.  Anyway all necessary surveying was done, including on day 2 four buildings (at the town of Genk, close to the Dutch border) ranging in size from 10,000sq.m to a thumping great 100,000sq.m.  I was informed on arrival that despite having allocated two days to this I only had the Wednesday and please could I press on somewhat!  No pressure then!?!  Well quite a bit of shoe leather and some 560 photos later all done, though I did spend some time back at the hotel writing up!  The big warehouse had a huge car park almost full of 2000 new Ford C-max cars (the factory is nearby).  Nice looking car but apparently some of the factory staff would be bringing diagnostic equipment to the site in the next few days as they ALL have a computer fault to be fixed, ouch!!
 
The attitude to public transport and for that matter to ‘foreigners’ is different over there,

1.      the trains run on time

2.      people accept that you may need some help to get where you are going despite not speaking the language.


For some funny reason the Belgians (and the Dutch) don’t start to talk louder and ‘over enunciate’ when you don’t understand them!!  Bit different to the British approach to foreign visitors then? 
 
A funny thing happened on the way back from Genk!!  I was all set to get a cab but the local M&E engineer a large man with an equally grandé name offered to give me a lift.  The morning taxi ride had taken about 15 minutes so after a half hour and despite the fact that we were still passing signs for Genk I tried to point out (in menu Italian!) that I wanted Genk centre, some slight panic later he turned the BMW around and back we went, turns out he was taking me to Brussels.  If I do much more of this sort of thing I’d better have a crack at learning French again!!
 
As I write this I am sat upstairs on a double deck railway train travelling quickly, comfortably and fairly quietly through part of the Ardennes Forest heading back to Brussels.  The one unfortunate thing with working somewhere different is that there is seldom the time to see a great deal of the country, that said however its raining again so a walk in the forest may not be such a good idea.  Apparently there is some more survey work coming up so looks like I’ll be back this way sometime soon.  It’d be nice to get an assignment somewhere sunny though…..,

Radio ga-ga!

Right-oh its radio update time – mainly for the benefit of those enlightened individuals who have arrived at this site via my link on QRZ.com.
 
The last couple of months have been an interesting time with the completion of my radio amateur intermediate training and trading my old callsign of M3RZD for the new and shiny 2E0RZD (or 2EØRZD).  This has had some use already with the subtle increase in output power from 10 to 50watts being used to good effect on 20 and 80 metres.
 

I was roped in to help out at the recent Tavistock radio rally by Rob & Anna (2EØONO & 2EØOSO), the good thing with helping lifting shifting and marshalling is that you get first dibs before the doors open.  The result of this was a big old lump of a 2metre multimode (FDK multi 2700) which turned out to be pants, in need of more than the ‘TLC’ as indicated by the seller and was ultimately subject (mercifully) of a refund.  I was also lucky enough to find a clean and tidy Yaesu FT707 (with top band mod) for a decent price and has already provided some very good HF contacts (see below).  The ‘best buy of the day award’ though has to go to the Nevada 10m end fed aluminium dipole complete with co-ax, brackets etc. which I obtained for the princely sum of….., £3.50!!!!!!

 
The dipole is now in service as the ‘portable’ antenna of choice (see photo), being secured to a steel channel driven into the ground and secured to the tow hitch on the back of the Benz, firmly guyed and adjusted to suit the band required.  I can actually get a decent SWR on 10, 12, 15, 17 and 20 and with a suitable reduction in power (to about 20watts) it will just about co-operate on 40.  That’s not too bad for the price of a sandwich and a tin of IRN-BRU!!  First use in anger so to speak was from Cold East Cross above Ashburton the day before the office walk (see previous posting) and using the ‘new’ FT707.  Having given the ‘great white hound’ a run on the moor as a timed (partial) route check for the following days walk we settled down to explore the possibilities that 17metres had to offer!
 
I’ve not used 18MHz before though have always wanted to try it, not too different to 20metres but a much narrower band (18.113 to 18.168MHz for phone) and a whole lot quieter.  Well there was a healthy tally of QSO’s in the log by the time I packed up at about 8pm but the best had to include W2QN Bert in Cornwall Pennsylvania (!!!) but best of all and having completed a QSO with EA5BRE being called by a very distant station who sounded English.  Was this a like minded chum calling in from the far flung parts of Devon just to say hi??  No!!  It was 5U7MA Mike in Niger but normally living in Australia (as VK8ZMA).  Best 73 and good DX to each of you and thanks for making it an enjoyable day.  Now what’s the highest bit of the moor I can get a Merc to without breaking it?
 
73 de Rob 2EØRZD

What to write about this month?!

Probably a bit of a ramble this time around, there being no specific agenda or subject but in the best traditions of contributions to any such publication (with all due respect to the editor) including editorials it can be good to ‘ragchew’.
 
The bands have been a little quiet lately but there is still no shortage of interest if you are lucky enough to be looking in the right place at the right time.  A few weeks ago I was SWL at home late one evening listening to 40 metres and a station in Iceland was putting out a tremendous signal but with a significant pile up trying to work him.  The temptation to run outside and fire the rig up in the car (flat dweller with no workable HF antenna at home) was tremendous but resisted due to the lateness of the hour (and the ambient temperature!).  I was therefore somewhat pleased a few days later to be tuning around 20 metres one morning when up popped the same station in Reykjavik, Iceland!  It was only sensible of course to put out a call and lo and behold a reasonable length conversation followed, r5s7 each way!!
 
2 metres has had its moments as well with March seeing some interesting ‘lifts’ with various French stations being audible, contact possible in some instances to further flung UK repeaters and it was good to hear a station north of Exeter working SSB well into Europe, a decent beam and quite a bit of power required no doubt but it just shows what can be done with the effort and dedication.
 
Talking of 2 metres we recently went away camping in Dorset and the first thing of particular note was how quiet the local repeaters are and how many people are using simplex, the FM calling channel was particularly busy at any time of day too.  There is bound to be a degree of reticence in some quarters due to the inherently limited range of VHF but for local chats/ragchews/technical tests doesn’t it make sense?  I’ll leave that thought with you!

Committed to Dartmoor!!

“I’ve had a great idea”, said Adrian, lets have a walk on the moors one weekend!!
 
So began a feat of organisation, determination, resilience and human endeavour the like of which has not been seen at CBW’s Plymouth office since Jen organised the skittles evening a couple of weeks beforehand!
 
Sunday 21st May 2006
   
We met up on the moor above Ashburton at Cold East Cross at 10am (O/S grid reference SX741743).  The portents for the walk were not too good, it had been raining almost continuously since the previous Wednesday, Saturday had cleared a bit but Sunday morning was apparently going to make up for it!!
 
The die hard few who turned up and were all set for a walk in the rain though  (rain type #243 ‘bucketing it down’) comprised Liz and Dave, Peter and Sharon, Rob and Mel, Jenni and Wayne and Rob with Debs son Aaron and ‘the great white hound’ (also known as Saxon).
 
From Cold East Cross we walked across open moorland following a track across Blackslade Down, crossing (carefully) a moorland stream almost to the foot of Hollow Tor.  The walk up to Top Tor was ruled out due to the conditions and the lack of any view at all.  At this point Jenni and Wayne who were admittedly drenched conceded defeat and headed back to their car. 
 
From here we headed south and then east for a short but steep climb and a cut across Pudsham Down where we reached the road which then continues for a little over a mile downhill through the hamlet of Venton and ultimately to The Old Inn in the middle of Widecombe in the Moor.  Having shortened the walk slightly and made good time we were a little too early for the Pub so instead went in search of coffee and tea at a nearby tearoom before meeting up with Jenni & Wayne, Julian, Val & Katya and Debs at the Old Inn for Sunday lunch where we were very well catered for.

Archery a go-go!

I've not done any shooting for months so it was quite nice just recently to get the bow out again (for this who care: green and gold Portland 2000 take down recurve, carbon stabiliser and V-bars, shibuya sight, carbon 3L18 arrows with curly vanes).  Had a few ends with Dan in Mum and Dad's back garden, only 15 yards (for Dan's sake really ;-) but was well pleased with some nice tight groups, (10, 10, 10, 9, 9, 8 for instance).  Dan did really well too but there was one hairy moment when one of his aluminiums hit the frame at the top of the target butt and ricochet'd off through the hedge and into next doors garden!!!!  Fortunately no fatalities or injuries but a little more care next time!

A nice bird at Easter!!

 Well we finally made it.  The falconry day up near Crediton was absolutely great and I/we wouldn't have missed it for the world.  The day included handling various birds of prey (kestrels, hawks, owls etc.) and even having birds fly to the glove (which is absolutely wonderful!) and helping train a small barn owl to fly to the glove from a rest (she was on a tether in case she suddenly found something else more interesting - its okay, its not cruel, its all part of the training and is in their interest too!)  We ended up heading out for a walk through the fields with a Harris Hawk called Gypsy and the sight of her flying along past our small group from tree to tree, waiting for us to catch up and go past and then she'd fly on again was just magical!  Do I seem slightly moist eyed about the whole thing....?  Oh yes!!  Just wondering where I can build an aviary for a hawk and a tawny owl now but I will need a volunteer to walk them anytime I'm away!! :-)

Train trip....!

Its fair to say I have always enjoyed train travel (mostly!) and more often than not enjoy visiting our great capital.  The other day I combined the two by visiting London to do a due diligence survey on a 1920's hotel.  All good stuff even though it was bitterly cold and snowing!!  The problem came with the transport there and back, 45 minutes delay in the morning and guess what...?  45 minutes delay on the way back.  Sum result being I left home at 5.30am and didn't get home much before 10pm!!!

The worst bit (though I couldn't help but laugh!) was leaving Paddington at 6pm there is the usual rush hour scuffle for seats or risk standing to at least Reading and possibly even Taunton.  I was able to get a seat but soon discovered that I was sat next to a student who it turned out was more camp than the caravan club!!  He spent almost all of the trip back to Plymouth on his violet mobile phone to Adam, thumbing through the pages of Vogue and applying his lip moisturiser and facial powder from a compact mirror with a brush.  Apparently he thought Tunbridge Wells was in France!  Debs reckoned he was in touch with his feminine side!!  I've no wish to appear homophobic but if he touched me with his feminine side it would have taken special equipment to remove him from the gap behind the seats opposite!!

Next time I may take the sleeper where you get a cabin of your own!!

Poor old bus!!

Or...:  Bl#*dy car's up the spout again!!!  Well this year has seen a few bills on my poor old Merc (also know as Das HitlerWagen, Der Panzer and just occasionally as"... right thats it, you've got one more chance!!!!"

Poor old thing developed an ignition fault late last year prompting a full diagnostic, new plugs etc, misfiring got worse and then traced to a faulty ignition coil, seemed okay but emissions were up so the catalytic converter had to be replaced (ouch!!), then the misfiring again so the other ignition coil was replaced and LO!!!!  Its still misfiring!!  Now it seems it may be the ECU (ouch again!!) and that is likely to cost a bit.  Have it on good authority though that they can be repaired so here goes!!!  Further posts may be from Cattedown Wharfs, third cardboard box from the left!!!!  

So whats this Echolink thing all about then…?

To say I was sceptical about Echolink (which involves voice communication beween radio amateurs via the internet) may be understating it.  To me amateur radio was about just that…, the use of radio communications and if we want to talk to people over the internet we can just use Yahoo right?  Well maybe but having actually taken the plunge and given it a try it is so much more.
 
For starters it can only be used by licensed radio amateurs and for those amateurs who for whatever reason can not maintain their amateur radio station for reasons of old age, ill health or simply where they live it is clearly a good thing to be able to keep in touch, not only with friends but also to make new friends.
 
Now I will not profess to be anything like an expert, as with all things ‘you never stop learning’ and there is plenty to learn with this particular area of communication.  The reason for this diatribe if that is the correct term is just to provide comment on experiences so far and for those who have not tried it yet to provide a (very) basic introduction.
 
Essentials will include a computer with speakers and a microphone (sounds obvious but you never know!) and an internet connection, allegedly a dial up connection will work but broadband will work better.  It is easy to connect and join to Echolink via www.echolink.org, involves downloading some software, nothing too substantial however and providing proof of your amateur status (emailing a scanned copy of your license with callsign clearly visible and legible is adequate).
 
Once that has all been verified, you are connected and ‘on the air’, so to speak.  The Echolink system works either directly station to station, menu’s allow you to navigate through callsign listings according to country, (and I mean all countries!!) showing who is on line whilst you are connected or alternatively via nodes (a subject for another day!) and even Echolink enabled repeaters (such as GB3IE, GB3NC and GB3SW).  The entertaining thing you will soon discover is that repeaters such as these can obviously be accessed by radio as well as via the internet so you never know who may pop up!!  I was sat in the car in Falmouth recently tuned to GB3NC on 2 metres when there was a CQ from an American station in upstate New York!!  He was trying via Echolink to get hold of someone in of all places Dobwalls (hmm, wonder who that could be)!!!  Sometimes it’s a little more arbitrary, amateurs generally are inquisitive souls and people will just link in and call CQ because they’ve heard of the area!!!

I know this will be emotive but...!!

Love it or loathe it Citizen’s Band radio has been with us in one form or another for something like 30 years, in its legalised form for 25 years (MPT1320 and MPT 1321 in 1981, the latter of these for 934MHz now withdrawn) and with the inclusion of the CEPT or MPT1382 European channels since 1995.  Now before I get any further with this I’d better make it clear that the following comments are a personal opinion and do not in any way reflect the views, policies or opinions of Plymouth Amateur Radio Club or any others amongst the membership or committee, as individuals we are all entitled to an opinion though, just before the flak starts up!!

The very existence of Citizen’s Band, CB, Charlie Bravo or the Chicken Box is something of an anathema to a lot of people particularly it seems to radio amateurs.  The fact of the matter is though that CB has done more in its comparatively brief existence in the UK to encourage people onto the airwaves with a very accessible means of radio communication and in turn, for those who are really interested to study for what was the RAE and latterly for their Foundation license (self included) and beyond.

The unfortunate thing is that because of its accessibility and comparative cheapness the hooligan element is attracted too, that’s life and we all as individuals have a choice.  I made that choice many years ago when I said I would hang up the mike on CB for good and did so.  I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed my CB days for the comparatively short time I partook however but in the (even shorter!!) time I have held my amateur license I have derived even greater enjoyment from the hobby of radio communications and intend to continue doing so.  We have a truly great hobby that we can all enjoy whatever our background and however others may perceive us!

Back in the USSR?!?

Last December (and since then come to think of it) I have had the good fortune to achieve a number of contacts with HF amateur stations behind what was colloquially known as ‘the iron curtain’.  As is often the case most of these are the good old ‘rubber stamp’ QSO’s, quick exchange of callsign, operator name, location and signal report and that’s about it until next time!!  Last December’s contact on 20 metres was a nice one though as this particular station stopped for a little more of a chat even going a step beyond what the weather was like and happened to mention that his full details were on QRZ.com (a marvellous invention!) if I was interested.
 
Gennadij (pronounced ‘Genn-are-dee’ I believe) clearly has an interesting story to tell and with thanks and all due deference to him and to QRZ.com I reproduce it here for those who may be interested…,
 
UN7QF
 
I was born in Alma-Ata, Kazakh Soviet Social Republic of the USSR on July 22,1945.
From 1952 to 1963 I attended public school in Alma-Ata.
Near the end of 1964 I was called to active military service. I was a Private of the signal service regiment in Kaluga, UA3X area untill end of 1967.
In 1974 I graduated from Kazakh State University in Alma-Ata and having received my diploma and being professionally qualified as a physicist in field of the nuclear physics and continued working in the university.
In 1976 I joined the Institute of Astrophysics of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakstan near the city of Alma-Ata ,working in the department of Stellar Dynamics in the section of Exterior Galaxies.

Dubious appointment!!

As if life wasn't busy enough between being there for my lady, working, doggy walking, fettling the automobile', studying for the intermediate amateur license and trying to fit in 'Life on Mars' and 'The Professionals' (on Men and Motors!!!) I was recently approached by a member of the Plymouth amateur radio club and asked if I would become their new chairman!  After the initial laughter and having dried the tears from my eyes I found out a little more and now, to cut a long story short have had this very great honour (?!) placed upon me!!  Gulp!!  all those years of 'blagging it' may soon catch me out because I'll no longer be 'talking at' construction type people about things I have a vague idea about.  Just for fun I also get to put some thoughts down in writing for the club magazine 'QUA' so being a creative sort I'll probably put them on here too.  So just remember "you saw it here first"!!!!  Hmm better go off and make it look like I know what I'm doing with some of this work type stuff now I suppose!

 

Ċ
Robert Luscombe,
6 Sep 2012, 02:19
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