31 Dec 2008

Best wishes for 2009

My very best wishes for 2009. For a change, I'd like to quote an extract from the last of T.S.Eliot's Four Quartets poems which is called Little Gidding. It reminds me that every year is part of our never ending exploration and journey.

"With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one."

Go quietly on your journey in 2009 and may it be a very fulfilling and joyful one.

30 Dec 2008

70cms good conditions tonight

Just worked GW0LJW in Gwent and G3VEH/M via a 70cms repeater in Somerset tonight when running 5W (actually about 1.5W into the antenna after the coax run) into the vertical colinear. Conditions are definitely up in that direction as the distance is about 250kms.

29 Dec 2008

Dutch on-line SDR testing new bands

The on-line software defined radio (SDR) in Twente, Holland http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/ (very useful when testing 80m QRP rigs) temporarily added the 0-150kHz, 1.8MHz and 10MHz bands to the ranges with wider band coverage than before on 20 and 80m over the Christmas period. This SDR is now back to its usual 80,40 and 20m coverage (as of Dec 30th).

28 Dec 2008

The South Hams and G5BY on 6m

A slight aside from ham radio, I just want to give a plug for the most beautiful part of England where I lived until leaving for university - the beautiful part of southernmost Devon known as the South Hams. Our family has lived here from at least 1428, the earliest date in our family history records when one of my ancestors owned one fee of land in the time of King Henry VI. You can understand why I still regard this as my spiritual home even though we enjoy living in East Anglia. We still make regular pilgrimages back to "the promised land" as my dear old dad called it. Indeed it is.

There is a new book of walks in this area called The South Hams Coast by Gerry Miles (see www.devonpaint.nl/ and also available from www.amazon.co.uk). The book is beautifully illustrated with coastal walks covering many of the high spots from where some great VHF DX has been worked. These include Bolberry Down from where G5BY worked the USA on 6m back in the 1940s when the band was briefly available. Today his QTH (see old picture) is "The Port Light Hotel" a delightful place to drink a pint or have a crab sandwich on a long sunny cliff top walk.

27 Dec 2008

G4IRZ Silent key sale - items now sold

On behalf of his widow, the kit belonging to the late Len Winnert G4IRZ was sold today, as one lot, to a private buyer in East Anglia.

25 Dec 2008

Radio Nature

A very happy Christmas everyone. One of my presents was the book called "Radio Nature" by Renato Romero which is a very good introduction to the weird and wonderful world of ELF/VLF natural emissions such as whistlers and tweeks. The book, available from the RSGB on-line bookstore, is an excellent read.

See also his excellent webpages at http://www.vlf.it/ .

24 Dec 2008

Tunnel Diodes rigs

Way back in the 1960s I recall making a simple tunnel diode oscillator as part of a lab project and being excited to see such a circuit used to span 160 miles on 80m by a ZL station despite the power being microwatts only. These days tunnel diodes are almost unheard of.

Recently I spotted a similar tunnel diode TX and RX on AA1TJ's excellent webpages on which you can find more data and links to off-air records made at DX distances.

23 Dec 2008

G3XBM is 60 today

Well, another milestone passed - I have reached the age of 60 and get a free bus pass for local English buses nationwide as well as a winter fuel allowance. At least there are some perks for getting older.

21 Dec 2008

Elecraft K1

This morning I fired up my Elecraft K1 CW transceiver not having used it for some time. It is such a good little rig. Mine has the 4 band unit and internal ATU option and covers 40, 30, 20 and 15m. The filtering is excellent and the user interface good as long as you can remember the menu system, which I forget often when I don't use the rig for a time.

Within a few minutes of connecting the end-fed wire about 15m long into the back of the rig I had 5 QSOs in the log on 40 and 15m. It is such a perfect CW rig.

More details see the Elecraft website http://www.elecraft.com

£500 silent key sale - a REAL bargain!

Some weeks ago I mentioned that I had been asked by a niece of G4IRZ to help with disposal of his (silent key) radio gear which included an Alinco DX70 HF transceiver in original packing and an FT767GX, FP707 PSU and lots of other ATUs, SWR bridges, BC221, GDO, etc. Several requested the list, but no-one has put an offer in.

The whole lot is yours for £500, buyer collects from Cambridgeshire.

I believe the actual value of the kit FAR exceeds this amount but I am not in a position to spend time disposing of the items individually. If someone is willing to buy the lot from his niece she would be pleased (as would Len's XYL) and the buyer is likely to make a decent profit if the items are then resold separately. It would also make an excellent complete ham shack for anyone starting out.

Remember, £500 buys a huge LOT of decent gear for Christmas.

Dec 27th: Now all sold.

Solar data page - new URL

The Solar Data page has a new URL weblink. If you have this saved as a bookmark in your web browser the new link is now http://www.solen.info/solar/

19 Dec 2008

29MHz FM

Just after 7pm tonight (Friday) I hope to do some tests with G4NUA in Cambridge around 29.6MHz FM. We will both be HORIZONTALLY polarised (Homebase-10 wire halos) running around 10W FM. If there are others in the mid-Anglia area who would like to join us then please do call in.

At one time there was a lot of activity on 29MHz FM but there is much less these days or is it just around here?

1930hrs update: successfully heard G4NUA at RS56 but he could only just detect my FM carrier (no modulation) his end. Surprised that we were unable to work each other at this distance with a pair of horizontal halos. On 2m he was 59++ and on 70cms 56. Ted was using the FT8900 4 band 50/35W FM rig covering 10m, 6m, 2m and 70cms - nice radio.

15 Dec 2008

Useful on-line distance calculator


Type in the 2 callsigns to get the QSL addresses and the distance, (in miles or kilometers), between them plus miles/watt. Thanks to KD0FNR for finding this one.

The distance of my 2007 6m QRP QSO with K1TOL works out at 5083kms.

10 Dec 2008

UK price rises - Yaesu and Icom rigs

Have you noticed that prices of the Yaesu FT817 and Icom IC703 have been significantly increased by at least one of the big UK suppliers in the last few days?

With the falling pound I can understand margins being squeezed more than before but surely, with a VAT reduction and with Christmas coming, this must be the most stupid piece of marketing yet.

Later comment: Several people have explained to me that the yen/pound exchange has significantly worsened so there is probably little the dealers could do but pass on a major part of their price increase on goods from Japan. I also see that most dealers are now holding the old prices on goods in stock as well as offering some good trade-in deals.

8 Dec 2008

SM6BHZ on 504.5kHz - strong

The 3W ERP beacon of SM6BHZ on 504.5kHz is coming in well tonight at 2215z in slow CW and QRSS3. QSB rate is slow with peak to trough being around 1 minute with me.

4 Dec 2008

Ham gear for sale (silent key G4IRZ)

Recently I have been asked to help sell a large amount of ham radio equipment from an ex Royal Signals ham who is now a silent key - Len Winnart G4IRZ. This includes a FT767DX (base mains powered multi-mode rig), a DX70 multi-mode HF/6m transceiver still in its packing, FP707 PSU, a GDO, various ATUs and SWR bridges and lots more. If anyone is interested in seeing the list please email me at rogerlapthorn (at) gmail.com and I will send you the full list of items.

In particular, if anyone is prepared to make an reasonable offer for the whole lot I'd be happy to discuss. All I am trying to do is dispose of the equipment to someone who would make use of it at a fair price for his XYL.

Please contact me ASAP if you have an interest in this kit.

2 Dec 2008

Argo plot of OK0EMW tonight on 505kHz

This is the Argo waterfall plot showing the Czech 505kHz beacon OK0EMW on QRSS3 (slow CW, 3 sec dots) coming in well tonight at 1700z. It was not audible by ear though. Note the QSB in the middle when the number 0 was being sent.

1 Dec 2008

VO-52 satellite reception

Not listened for amateur satellites for some time so took a quick listen on 2m SSB around 145.9 this evening. Managed to catch a couple of VO-52 satellite passes and logged IK1SOW, EB2FJN, SP4BY and HB9XJ on SSB. I have printed out the passes for the next few days so will see what else I can receive on the FT817 and the vertical colinear antenna.

The first place to check for first-time satellite SWLs is the AMSAT page which has lots of helpful info on satellites, frequencies and passes.

WSPR beacons on the 500kHz band

There are now some stations appearing on the 500kHz band using WSPR mode which is a clever digital beaconing system allowing reception to be monitored and mapped/listed using PC software attached to a suitable transceiver and the internet. In effect you can set a transmitter running then check for reception reports from similarly equipped stations via an internet reporting page. See http://www.physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/K1JT/ for more information. K1JT designs some mighty impressive ham software! When I get a WindowsXP machine that is reliable again I will try this mode I think.

A family picture

One of our greatest joys this past year has been our first grandson.  He is now 1 year old and looking more like a little boy every day that passes. His mum is French and his dad Tim is English, so he is likely to grow up speaking both languages. This is a nice picture of my wife Lis, our elder son Tim and little grandson taken a few days ago. Our other son and his Australian wife are expecting their first grandchild next March. Whether either will be interested in ham radio remains to be seen.