Wednesday 1 February 2012

An update

I haven't blogged for what seems ages, and I'm sure in that time I've gained some new followers ?!

Amateur radio wise, well not a lot was happening, hence why I stopped blogging, hearing about my latest DXCC I suspect may get kinda boring, and even after a while 10m being super open got to be routine.

Well I do have something perhaps worth mentioning, and that is a pal of mine and yours truly have formed a new Amateur radio club, called the Riviera Amateur Radio Club, here in the English Riviera, also known as Torbay !

We formed the club only a few weeks ago and currently have 16 members, we are very close to finalising club premises, and we also have completed our first 'event' for the RNLI SOS week, with an outdoor station, open to the public, down on Torquay harbourside.

Please have a look at the club website -

And maybe 'like' our facebook page -

Perhaps follow us on twitter ? -!/RivieraARC

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Penny Red: Panic on the streets of London.

Penny Red: Panic on the streets of London.: "I’m huddled in the front room with some shell-shocked friends, watching my city burn. The BBC is interchanging footage of blazing cars and..."

Wednesday 13 July 2011

RSGB issuing 'G' callsigns..

A candidate who had just passed his Advanced exam has discovered that the Ofcom licensing website will issue old, unused amateur radio callsigns, in his case a G6.

Paul 2E0EAN tried selecting various permutations of Advanced (Full) call from the Ofcom website as he recalled reading somewhere that they were running out of M0's and would start using up the gaps in the system. After several tries the system offered him the distinctive G6FAX which he immediately took.

The G6 call block was originally issued in the early 1980's. It is not known which other callsigns blocks are available from the Ofcom system but half of the G2 call sign block was never issued so may be available as well.

Very interesting, so is this a good or bad thing ?

Sunday 3 July 2011


Yes, it's coming on slowly, very.

I have downloaded a program that uses the Koch method, whereby you start by learning two letters at a speed of 12 WPM or greater, once you have gained an accuracy of  >90% over a 5 minute copy, you can add another letter, and so on.

So that's M and K sorted out then !

Nothing much else to blog at the moment, the bands have been very quiet this way, don't know how everyone else has been finding it ?

Thursday 2 June 2011

Czech Army key.

Whilst I wait for the shiny iambic key to make it's way across the Atlantic, a search on the internet found this website -

The key was made in the early 1950's for the Czech armed forces, and I have to say, though this is as a complete novice, it feels like a very nice key, quite solid with a pleasant action.

A pal of mine, Ken, G3SDW has one, and he highly recommended this key to me, who am I to argue with someone who has been using CW since well...let's just say a long time !

The price of these keys are 20GBP including UK postage, I think that it a real bargain, I can only assume whoever is selling these has bought quite a job lot !

The key on my desk, note the CQ crib sheet !

Close up of the key.

Note the lettering, I think this translates as 'receive' as there is an arrow pointing upwards !

Tuesday 24 May 2011

I'm surprised no one has asked..

what is that picture all about, at the top ?

Johnny Depp and Alan Wyatt with their Advanced RCF exam pass sheets.

Perhaps I decided that rather than being outed on Twitter, it was better to save my money and come clean, yes my other love is AMATEUR RADIO...there I feel better now.

Enjoy the cartoon, you've probably seen it before, still makes me chuckle.

Monday 23 May 2011

Finding the incentive.

Even though a fellow blogger friend of mine recently said that the secret to working the rare DX for the <100 w station was morse code, I, and I suspect most of us (and especially the die-hard phone users like myself) begrudgingly already know this.

Radio wise I have been stuck in a little bit of a rut recently, stuck on 91 DXCC, with 49 confirmed on eQSL, so I'm one off being able to print the next certificate off, I have been busy though, sending QSL cards off, however radio activity has been mostly working special event stations and any stations of interest, like when I worked F/HB9LCP, Sandro, on holiday 100 Km from Bordeaux, on the N. Atlantic coast, great page showing his camper vans.

Anyway back on subject, a pal of mine has recently taken up the code, and is slowly and surely catching me up DXCC wise, well I cant have that, so what better incentive is there to learning than by actually having your own morse key, so this is on it's way from the US of A.

It's an Iambic paddle from Vibroflex, I saw it and fell in love with it..

Seeing that on my desk will be the incentive learn the code.
Or become an expensive and shiny doorstop.

Sunday 8 May 2011

New blog on the block..

I've not blogged for a couple of weeks, I suppose there hasn't been much happening for me on the radio, however one of my radio friends on the facebook has started blogging, I think she could definitely be worth following..

So take a look at, she wont bite..!

Tuesday 26 April 2011

International Marconi Day/Royal Wedding.

A few of us from the Watcombe Radio Club here in Torquay are off to Dartmoor on Saturday to work the bands !

G(R)2DXU and myself, with the help of Martin, M0IME, Dave, G4OTU and Keith, M0PAW will be running two stations working on HF and 2m from around 1030 UTC through to around 1600 UTC.

With our new NoV callsigns we will be celebrating the Royal marriage and also International Marconi Day, we are having some special QSL cards for the event.

Look forward to hopefully speaking to some of my fellow blog friends on the bands ! page.

Our location for the day.

Saturday 23 April 2011

G2DXU: Dartmoor DXpedition Recce

G2DXU: Dartmoor DXpedition Recce: "Good Friday 2011 It was a good way to start the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. A trip to Dartmoor with M0PCZ and his XYL, SWL 'SXM' to find..."

NoV 'R' Royal Wedding..

Just received this email earlier, so check your inboxes !

Royal Wedding Nov: M0PCZ : APPROVED by Ofcom


We are pleased to inform you that Ofcom has APPROVED your application for a Notice of Variation which will allow you to use a special temporary callsign in order to commemorate the marriage of H.R.H. Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton.

Attached is a PDF document of your NoV; please use Acrobat Reader or similar to view and/or print this document.

Should you have questions or concerns, please address these only to EMail address:-

Thursday 14 April 2011

New 'notes' page on

Just noticed this new feature on arguably the most popular Ham radio site, whereby you can post notes to other users, a bit like sending a PM to someone's inbox.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Further tests to the homebrew 2m band Moxon Rectangle..

It turns out that I do have an SWR meter suitable in a Zetagi meter that I bought for HF, I checked the specs, and it's good for up to 200 Mhz !

In the shack I use a colinear antenna for 2m, this is up in the loft, the shack being in the front upstairs box room, so I tuned around to find activity on the Plymouth 2m repeater, around 30 miles away, signals were coming in around an S5.

I plugged in the moxon and could receive the same signals around an S7, turning the antenna made a noticeable difference, as did turning it horizontal, it was fun making the signal come and go at will, having only ever used dipoles and verticals.

Upon checking the SWR, I got the following readings -

144000 - 1.6
145000 - 1.5
146000 - 1.9

This was with the antenna hanging vertically from the top of the shack door !

I did some extra checks and have concluded that the antenna has a bandwidth for a 2.0:1 SWR of about 5Mhz !

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Homebrew 2m Moxon.

Thoughts have turned (no pun intended) to directional antenna's, having looked at the Yagi and Quad antenna designs, I then stumbled across the Moxon Rectangle, this 2 element antenna offers similar gain figures to a 3 element Yagi, with better F/B ratio's.

I am quite active on the 2m band, but mostly on FM, you know chatting with your radio club pals etc, however in the vehicle I have the Icom 706, which has 2m SSB, I have made a few calls, but with little success, knowing that most use horizontal polarisation, myself using a dual band Watson 2m/70cm vertical.

For the Moxon I used two  3/4" 'tee' piece's and some scrap plastic pipe, along with some bare wire found at work, an SO239 socket and some cable ties, the most useful item ever.

Following dimensions found in the internet (link at the bottom) with use of a hacksaw, side cutters and tape measure, knocked it up in about 1/2 an hour.

I am unable to check the SWR properly, as I don't possess a VHF meter, and for some reason the 706's meter shows 1.2 even with no antenna connected, I did try it with an old cb twin meter, swr meter, checking on the cars vertical first for a 'sanity check' reading, against that it showed an SWR of around 2.5:1, so some adjustment required.

Initial test's showed it has directional properties, it opened a repeater 11 miles away, then did not when I turned the antenna around, I also found a continuous signal around 145.000 which I could alter the level of signal with the moxon, managed to find the direction and the signal was also better with the antenna in the horizontal.

The signal was an S9+ 10dB on Moxon horizontal, in the vertical position it was S9 with little noise, the Watson 5/8 vertical was then tried, S9 again, but slightly noisier.

Further tests to follow..

Typical radiation pattern.

Monday 11 April 2011

10m FM..

My blog posting is a bit like buses, nothing for a while, then two at once, yesterdays opening on 6m was too good not to blog, and then the day got even better..

I use the Kenwood TS-480, as shown on my blog page, this radio has some up/down buttons for changing bands, so starting on top band, you can click up the bands, when you get to 10m mine then shows 28500 USB, then 29600 FM, then 6m, 50150 USB.

As mentioned there was a lift on 6m, and being a big fan of 10m, you can imagine these up/down arrows get a lot of use, so earlier I flicked from 10m USB and normally on the 10m FM portion hear nothing, well not today, for booming in at 5/9+ on 29600.0 was WP3UX.

I was fairly sure this was a station from Puerto Rico, as I've worked there before on 10m SSB, mindful of the way FM propagates I didn't want to waste time, but still I needed to be sure, so a flurry of fingers on the keyboard (well two actually) on confirmed my suspicions.

A few calls was all it took to receive a 5/9 report back, though the QSB was pretty bad, next came EC8ADS in the Canary Isl's.

Finally, and this took some working, as he had quite a pile-up, was PY2WC, from Sao Paulo, he was at times 5/9 +30dB, though again subject to heavy fading.

This is my farthest FM contact at 5735m, it took me back to a time when as a cb'er I worked into New York on the local FM calling channel.

10-4 !

The antenna array at PY2WC.

eQSL from Willem, WP3UX..

Sunday 10 April 2011

First 6m opening of the year.

I have a routine when I get in the shack, main pc on the internet, load up, dx sherlock and the dx cluster pages, switch on the radio then load up HRD on the laptop for the cat control.

Have a listen around the bands whilst checking the cluster, I use the cluster primarily as a tool for propagation, (as often by the time good dx has been spotted, the pile up has started), and so this morning at around 1130z, it was nice to see lots of spots for 6m.

What may of helped was that there was a contest on, so managed to work some inter 'g' along with a new square IO81, thanks to G4JFK/p, however the band started to open to the south, with two new squares, IM87 and IM86, with EA7RZ being my best and farthest south DX at 944 miles.

I have found that the ZS6BKW to be around 4-5 's' points up from the Sirio 827 I used for 6m last year, the 827 being resonant for 10/12m, though it tunes for 6m, the ZS6 offers in excess of 6 dBd gain, with a multi lobe pattern, so looking forward to some fun on the 'magic band' this year.

Thursday 31 March 2011

Much on telly tonight ?

I have been trying some television broadcast today, well actually slow scan television on 15m, as that band has been open across the Atlantic most afternoons.

Here is the result of the only contact I managed, using the SSTV program that comes with DM780, which is part of Ham Radio Deluxe, this software is used also to control the CAT functions on the radio.

The first picture is a cheesy one of the Good lady, with myself trying to smile..

VE3RNG first transmission back to me.

I had the auto slant options enabled, but didn't quite sync properly, you can just see in the bottom left my transmission that he received.

This is by far my farthest SSTV transmission at 3650 miles, using 85 watts, into the ZS6BKW.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

More than one way to skin a rabbit..

Or bag a new DXCC, one of the many that I have never heard, but have wanted to work.

I am talking about Paraguay, now Brazil and Argentina I hear quite a lot, especially now that 10m is opening up, also Chile and Venezuela, Paraguay however I have never heard, so when I chanced upon ZP5DBC at 5/7 with QSB on 10, well it has to be worth a shout.

After a few calls and getting nowhere, I heard my pal, G0VQY get through on his second call, I was even more determined to get through, I wont however shout and shout, instead timing single and full calls when he called QRZ, still no luck though.

Sometimes you just now it's not going to happen, so I decided that maybe the data modes would offer an opportunity, so down to 28120 and PSK31, I think it was fate as the cursor on the waterfall was exactly on the trace of ZP8AE, he was a little outside the AF passband at 2700 Hz, so I adjusted the vfo up 1 Khz to bring him in at 1700 Hz.

Of course it wasn't easy, it took 5 calls, with him calling back other stations, and finally I saw him call M0PCZ !

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Two new DXCC close to home.

Last night was Radio Club night, and what better way to start the evening than by working some new DXCC on 2m.

I heard a station on 145.500 FM, G0VHS, Terry in Weymouth, Dorset which is about 45 miles from my qth, this got me thinking, is there a lift on, anyway before I had a chance to call back, my local pal, Alan, G2DXU has done so, and I follow up to listen.

As soon as I heard Mike, GU3WHN, from Guernsey (distance 84 miles) break in I knew we were onto something, so Alan brought me in and we worked them both, with reports of 5/3 both ways.

As we said 73 to go off to the club I heard Ian, GJ7DNJ from Jersey, (distance 106 miles) so I decided to call him from the mobile, so I switched the amp on which gives 100 watts out, and gave him a call, and was delighted to receive a 5/9 +60dB report !

From our club location, I switched the amp off and wound the power down to a watt. and still received a 5/3 report, I suspect we had some very nice tropo ducting !

Monday 28 February 2011

Remote radio operation.

I have dabbled with using my station remotely, using a remote desktop application, this allows you to control the 'base' or shack computer, as my TS-480 is connected to a laptop and can be used fully via Ham Radio Deluxe.

Sound duties are taken care of by using the existing hardware set-up used for data modes, the software used is Skype, freely available, and free to use between skype to skype accounts, one set up on each laptop, base and remote.

This does work, though I find that the connection is quite laggy, and the desktop image shown is not the clearest, also the audio on receive can be somewhat choppy at times.

Earlier this week I had a long and interesting qso with NZ5E, Terry, in Arkansas, he is using the same radio as me, but remotely, we talked a lot about a beach buggy he and his son have restored, it wasn't until after we said 73, that I realised that I hadn't asked him exactly how he was running his remote station.

Well today I happened across two local friends of mine on the air, G0VQY, Penn, in Brixham, and my radio club pal, G2DXU, Alan, in Torquay, they had been working some Stateside on 17m, and so I joined them, well by chance Terry, NZ5E returned Penn's CQ, and I was fortunate to get to ask Terry exactly what he was using to remotely control his station.

He was using the Microbit RRC-1258 system.

No computer connection is required, I think the next picture explains..

I am hoping as there is no 'video' connection, only audio and radio command that the bandwidth demand on the internet connection will less.

Also my thoughts are you could then use your home station when truly on the move, for example in the car ?!