Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Twitter & Morse

I love twitter. Some years ago I thought it was a load of rubbish, and had no purpose. But actually there is a fantastic community on the social media network, and more importantly a group of like minded Radio Hams are also on their sharing ideas, knowledge and experiences.

Take Dec 23rd for example. A simple thread was started about how we are progressing learning Morse and how we are attempting to up our speed. The conversation naturally came around to what’s best – paddle or straight key, and which particular keys do you own. For some crazy reason I mentioned I would complete a YouTube video of my keys, and share with the other participants of the conversation. Well I’m delighted to see that others have gotten on the band wagon and are sharing their keys and their experiences with them. Have a look at the following. I’ve ordered them in chronological order :

David @G7AGI

Nigel @M0CVO

Patrick @M0ZPK

Im sure a couple more videos may appear here as i originally tagged a few more in the 1st video. But we shall wait and see ! Iain (@M0PCB) also contributed by sharing his list of keys available on his web site https://www.m0pcb.co.uk/?page_id=68 Have aloof - he has supplied a nice description against each key he owns.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My year in review

Another year passes by. And while sat at home I asked myself had I actually played any radio this year? Well in actual fact it’s been quite a memorable year.

Here are some of the highlighst

Back in January we held our annual Buildathon – held in Bath. This time around we built the GQRP Sudden Regen receiver. A successful day as all participants left with working Receivers for the 40m band. It was a long day, but very successful, with many of the students having the final part of their intermediate practical’s being signed off.

That month saw our intermediate students take their exam, and all but 2 students passed with very high scores. The retakes later in February allowed the students who couldn’t quite pass to shine through and achieve their 2E0 callsigns.

Lastly January saw the start of the first Advanced of 2013. The results in July proved to be our best pass rates ever.

February & March proved quiet as we (Wessex) decided and nominated ourselves to host the G100RSGB in April. Planning and logistics were our main focus for those 8 weeks. Although I did manage to spoil myself and purchase a KX3. A radio that I am still utterly head over heals with.

April came around very quickly and before we knew what was happening, it was our turn to run G100RSGB. I’m still staggered and quite humbled on how many people came and helped and how many contacts we made in 24 hours with such an average set up.

Not stopping we carried our RSGB centenary theme and created a centenary buildathon event that took place on July 5th at Bletchley Park. Building a PSK receiver for 20m was a great circuit and we managed to get 22 School children building the simple receiver that would plug into the sound card of any mac, PC or Raspberry Pi. All but 4 were working. The 4 non working were later fixed and posted back to their respective owners.

August saw us start the planning for our annual radio holiday. And The Wessex boys all decided that Isle of Man was a suitably good location, so research and planning started in full through out August. We planned for May 2014 as a good time to be on the isle.

September was the first joint contest that Wessex Contest Group actually entered. Ok we were not going to set the world alight with out 1st entry but we learnt loads, had a blast doing it and got more of a hunger for competitive QSO’s. In Bath we started another Morse class. Teaching students with various levels of knowledge the code and getting them to at least pass the 5 WPM test.

October and we all attended the RSGB convention. Again another great set of lectures and I thoroughly enjoyed my time, making new friends, rekindling old friendships and learning loads.

Finally as we approach the end of the year in November I built a Foxx 3 Transceiver and have had a great time with it oDecember we sat another 3 exams in Bath. 2 Foundation, 1 intermediate and 2 advanced students. I also upgraded my QRP go pack to a case that has more compartments and pockets. It makes it far easier to carry I can assure you.
n air. In

So to answer the original question. Have I played much radio this year ? No. I’ve been too bloody busy !

Happy Christmas & new year to you all.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

New toys.

Its been some time since I bought myself any new toys but the two purchases I have made really are for when I am QRP with my go pack.

Firstly I have changed the rucksack I use. The previous pack was excellent initially but I quickly understood its limitations and when full of kit I realised that everything essentially falls down to the bottom and makes the pack really quite uncomfortable to carry.

After much research I noticed a few reviews of the 5.11 rush series. They have 3 packs designed and named the 12, 24 & 72. I decided to go for the 5.11 Rush 24 which has a capacity of 34 litres which is pretty much the same as the previous pack, but this one has may compartments and sections to store the kit.

One big advantage of this pack is the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) strapping that the back pack has all over it. Meaning that you can purchase extra modular pouches, cases and attachments to the outside of the pack. So far I have managed to pack the water bottles, mast and VX8 hand-held radio to the outside of the pack with specifically designed pouches. This of course leaves the inside completely free to carry the essentials. Click here for more info on the 5.11 Rush 24

With the repacking and organising of the new case I did document (stock check I suppose) the contents of the pack so I know exactly what I am carrying – and can adjust with ease what I want to carry. I documented it in the form of a mind map, and I’m sure there are bits that I have missed off – feel free to comment.

As I was packing the case I also really decided it was time to change the battery power I have been carrying for some time to a new light weight alternative.

Weighing in at a quarter of the weight of the SLA, I have opted for a Lithium Polymer pack designed by Debam. Its not cheap but well worth the investment when it radically reduces the weight of the pack. The battery is 8Ah and comes with its own fuel gauge, choices of charging adaptors and comes in its own case.

The pack is also smaller than the old SLA, but 1 disadvantage is that I cannot use the Solar panel with this pack as I doesn’t being trickle charged. So the SLA pack complete with Watts Up meter will remain intact and live in the boot of the car. Click here for the details of the battery.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Foxx 3 TRX build

So it was my birthday recently and to celebrate the turning of another year and that I had indeed taken a day off – I decided to build a FOXX 3 QRP CW transceiver. These little kits are available from Kanga-products.co.uk and are designed to fit in a Altoids tin.

The kit comes pre bagged up in separate bags, and its just a case of soldering the correct component to the correct area on the circuit board. The kit itself is a 1 Watt QRP transceiver that can be bought on various bands. Mine was for the 20m band.

The board has a clear and easy to read Silkscreen and the pads are suitably wide enough to allow anyone with different levels of skill to create the kit. Each step allows you to test each part of the board, so you learn how each part of the kit relates to the transceiver as a whole.

I had a great time building it, it’s a simple, easy and great fun little kit. I hope to take it out and about – so hopefully you can hear my tiny signal on 20m soon.