Monday, 30 June 2014

Gaining interest in radio

A big friendly welcome to my new readers who will be reading my blog entries via - I hope my articles will provide insightful reading.

If you are not already “in the know” im based in the UK and provide distant learning course for UK amateurs alongside Steve (G0FUW) and Lewis (G4YTN) along with home based learning we also provide in class education as well.

PSK Receiver No. 001 with Raspberry Pi
The education element of the hobby really interests me and not content with the 3 tier license, we also provide buildathons for anyone who is interested in electronics, radio or construction.

Our very successful PSK receiver kit (Instructions here) has now been used up and down the UK and orders are still coming in for the kit via the RSGB all over the world. Its a perfect kit for newcomers or students wanting to build a radio related project for their intermediate practical assesment.

A couple of weeks ago we were asked to provide a buildathon for 21 young scientists at the BRLSI in Bath. And when I say young I really mean 8 – 14 years of age.

All but 3 kits went away working that afternoon and one of the first was a young 8yr old girl who had never held a soldering iron or had any clue what was really going on. But by the end of the day not only had she completed a build of the receiver but was decoding PSK signals on 20m in less than perfect conditions.

That was a particular highlight of mine on that day, seconded only by persuading her farther to pop along to some of the in-class lessons and see what it was all about.  It seems that there is a little bit of curiosity in radio in all of us. even today !!

Whereas we are keen to knock ourselves for not connecting with the youngsters, and gaining interest in the hobby, it actually seems to be that we are not that great at following up and converting the curious mind into a radio hobbyist.

In a couple of weeks we will once again be completing a buildathon. this time we are preaching to the converted - a collection of young amateurs will be completing the build at the YOTA UK. But I will be asking them what it is they love about radio, and what would be a good follow up exercise for us to engineer. Of course if you have a great idea - let me know. 

Friday, 13 June 2014


YOTA UK is taking place over the weekend of the 19-20 July at in Wolverhampton. Most of the activities will be at the Electricity Club near the City Centre, home of the Wolverhampton Amateur Radio Society. There will also be some outdoor activities in the near-by Baggeridge Park.

  • This weekend offers two exciting days of amateur radio activities where you can: 
  • Meet other young radio amateurs
  • Learn about the Summits on the Air awards
  • See how you can work through satellites
  • Have a go at using digital modes
  • See how easy it is to build portable antennas
  • Take part in a Direction Finding competition
  • Find out about the latest radio technologies
  • Learn how to solder and use test meters
  • Complete the Intermediate Practical Assessments
  • Build a 20m PSK receiver
  • Take the Intermediate exam
  • Try your hand at operating the YOTA UK Special Event Station! 

Tickets are only £5 per day with additional cost if you want to build the receiver or take the exam. There is even a BBQ is included on the Saturday evening.

Full details of the timings, directions to the venue and a list of items to bring, will be forwarded by email.

Bookings are limited so book now - Click here

You can also keep up to date by following @YOTA_UK on twitter

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Out scouting about

Being able to work from home clearly has its advantages. Today for example I find myself walking along the ridgeway just down the road from me. The dog loves this place but it doesn’t really offer up as a great location to play a bit of radio. Or does it ?

For me the idea of a perfect location is somewhere remote. Easily accessible and yet offers up enough real-estate to erect an antenna. Of course what antenna you erect is entirely limited to the location. In recent weeks I have been using a home brew vertical antenna to great effect, although one of the SOTA beams Linked dipoles also provide a great lightweight antenna package.

Back to the ridgeway. Is this a perfect location? Well it might just turn out to be a good area after all. There are some areas that offer some small amount of space – The Vertical antenna would be the perfect choice here and its very easily accessible too.

On todays walked I hunted out a couple of small areas where I can settle down in a quiet corner and set myself up for the day.  I do have a couple of days off coming up soon – So I think I will try one of these locations out and film the results too. There is an added benefit as there is a woodland nearby, so fuel for my Firebox is sorted out for the day – so a nice lunch and warm drink is certainly on the cards.

I will of course update you and if I remember my camera - upload a video of my time on the ridgeway.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Direct QSL cards

I wonder how many people come home after a holiday and find a pile of post ?

We lets refine that. I wonder how many people go on a radio holiday – and come home to find a stack of QSL cards ? Since our return from the Isle of Man I have received every day new QSL cards. In total I have collected about $50 in direct fees from some of the amateurs we have spoken with for a direct QSL card. (which we will respect and send once our cards are back from the printers)

This is by far the biggest admin headache of any trip we have done so far. Our eQSL account was brimming with just about 1,000 QSL requests. And emails, direct letters and requests just keep coming in.  going forward its on the check list of things to do when we get back.

Clearly the trip just doesn’t end when you all head home, stick the washing on and relax telling your wife and children of how well the radio was (not that they are that interested of course)

Its great to know that we did such a good job. SO our QSL card design is all done up, and is heading off to the printers We decided to go for 3,000 cards this leaves just 99 spare cards ideally for SWL listeners who would like a memento. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

New toy.

Another new toy arrived this week. This time it’s a hand made straight morse key from John Wellings. Although it looks just like a Kent key, I can assure you it isn’t. The brass is highly polished and the wood is finished off to a fantastic finish. in my opinion a more refined look and better quality machine work too.

John builds everything here by hand and this very key can be seen on YouTube being built through the various steps. Im sure John missed out a large portion of tasks on these videos, but his attention to details and superb craftsmanship are really quite extraordinary.

You too can purchase a JW key from John directly. Have a look at his website for more information, and why not have a look at the quick video I made of this key.