Thursday, January 29, 2009

UK 2m and 70cms Echolink gateways mapped

Chatting to Paul, 2E0BHA on the way to work this morning, we realised that we weren't too sure where all the different Echolink gateways were. I said I'd take a list and map them.

You can download a KML file to pull into Google Earth here

View Larger Map

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Amateur Radio is NOT all about...Going nuclear!

Last month, the Radio Society of Great Britain's magazine, RadCom, contained a wanted advert from a radio amateur advertising for a 1KW HF amplifier for use in his experiments into thermonuclear fusion.

This has raised many eyebrows in the amateur community over the last few weeks, but yesterday, the Times newspaper picked up on the story, which you can see here, as well as a comment from Giles Read, Technical Editor of RadCom.

As far as I'm concerned, much of the good work that many people have done promoting the hobby of amateur radio over the years has just been undone with that advert. Readers of the Times article will be left with the feeling that radio amateurs are fiddling around on their benches trying to set off a nuclear reaction. Just marvellous!

What are the RSGB doing about it? Nothing, as far as I can see. There's no mention, no retraction, no explanation on the RSGB's website

So, just to be clear, I, for one, would wish to distance myself from such experiments as would, I imagine the vast majority of responsible radio amateurs. This is NOT what the hobby is about.

Still, perhaps we can look forward to an article in RadCom next month about 'Building a Time Machine'.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Catching up with Hambrief TV; Satellites and D-STAR

I've mentioned Chris Matthieu's, N7ICE site, before. Chris has been producing some interesting podcasts over the last few months. What I really like about Chris' presentations is his enthusiasm. I don't think I've ever watched one of his podcasts and not been inspired about something to try, or research. So, well done, Chris - and thank you!

This morning, I caught up with the latest two podcasts, which you can find over at Hambrief TV

Episode 11 was filmed at a Hamfest local to Chris in Arizona. The really compulsive viewing is of a live satellite demo by (oh, I should have written his callsign down...) KD9.... anyway, it's brilliant. It shows how simple and straightforward satellite operation can be and how viable it is, even with simple equipment.

Episode 12 is about D-STAR and in particular features a demo of the D-V Dongle. The D-V Dongle is, unsurprisingly, perhaps, a dongle which will plug into your PC or Mac and allow you to use the D-STAR network. Chris has a super and interesting QSO with a station mobile in Washington. DC from his computer. It's impressive in lots of ways.

In many ways, I'm not a fan of the D-V Dongle, because it isn't an RF device. It's not radio as such, although of course, it does connect into a radio network. But if you're miles from the nearest D-STAR repeater and want a gentle introduction to D-Star it may be a way in for you, so I wouldn't discount it.

The overall operation of the D-STAR network in the QSO was very impressive and certainly made me want to find out more. Whatever you think of the D-V Dongle I think you'll find it a thought-provoking and impressive presentation.

Well done, Chris - thanks for the inspiration!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CQ Awards to accept eQSLs

CQ to Accept eQSL Confirmations for Award Credit

(Hicksville, NY and Bedford, TX, January 13, 2009) - CQ magazine will accept contact confirmations made on the electronic confirmation system for its operating awards effective immediately, CQ Editor Rich Moseson, W2VU, and eQSL Founder and Webmaster Dave Morris,N5UP, announced today.

There will be certain limitations and procedural differences for different awards, at least to start. Only confirmations from"Authenticity Guaranteed" members of eQSL will be accepted, and in accordance with existing eQSL policy, a membership level of bronze orhigher is required in order to participate in award programs via eQSL.

"This is the first time that CQ has formally accepted anything other than traditional paper QSL cards for its awards," said Moseson."We have been working with Dave Morris and his team for several months to assure that the integrity of our awards programs will be protected and to create mechanisms to make it easy for both award applicants and award managers to use eQSL credits toward our awards. All of our award managers have been involved in this process and support this action."

"We want to express our great appreciation to Dave and his team for their willingness to do whatever was necessary to make this agreement possible," Moseson added. "It has been a pleasure workingwith them and we look forward to a long-lasting relationship."

"We are pleased to be adding CQ to the top of our list of amateur organizations that accept electronic QSLs," said Morris. "CQ has some of the most highly sought-after awards, and we have been working behind the scenes for years to create credit submission mechanisms that would ensure the integrity of their programs without introducing any additional labor for the award managers. We believe the electronic QSL can drastically reduce costs, and the award application mechanisms we have developed will provide for more efficient processing at reduced cost for both the applicant and the award manager."

Applicants for the CQ DX and CQ DX Field Awards must print out their eQSLs and submit them along with their traditional QSLs to a CQcheckpoint or to CQ DX Awards Manager Billy Williams, N4UF. eQSL has an automated process in place for applicants for CQ's Worked AllZones, WPX and USA-Counties awards. N5UP explains how that will workfor the applicant:

"The applicant goes to the My Awards screen. He clicks on the particular award he wants to apply for. This brings up a list of the credits our system 'thinks' he is entitled to. There are checkboxes that allow him to check which ones he wants to use, and we automatically pre-fill one credit per category so he doesn't have to do anything if he wants to take the defaults. At the bottom of the screen are two buttons: 'Submit to CQ' and 'Print Paper Application'."
The "submit" button will place all the selected QSOs into a filefor the award manager to access, while the "print" button will generate a printed list to be submitted along with the traditional application.

PLEASE NOTE that ALL applicants must send the award fee payment to the CQ Award Manager, regardless of how the application is submitted. Some CQ award managers are now accepting PayPal; see individual award web pages for details. All awards will continue to accept traditional QSLs as well as eQSLs. For the USA-Counties Award(USA-CA), applicants must note on their record books (or printouts) whether each county has been confirmed traditionally (with an "X" to the right of the entry) or electronically (with an "E" next to the entry).

For more information on eQSL, visit

For more information on CQ awards, visit the awards page on the CQwebsite at Please note that the award rules posted on the website have not yet been updated to reflect theacceptance of eQSLs. This will be done as soon as possible, but the policy takes effect immediately.

Foundation and Intermediate Courses available at Newbury

I just noticed that my friends down at the Newbury radio club are running a Foundation course as well as an Intermediate course in the near future.

If you are interested in getting started with the hobby, or upgrading your licence to Intermediate, then let me recommend the course at Newbury. The tutors are really excellent and have a great track record.

Here's their press release:

Members of the Newbury & District Amateur Radio Society will be running training courses for the Amateur Radio Foundation and Intermediate licences.

The Foundation course will take place on the single weekend of 28th February and 1st March.

The Intermediate course will take place over two weekends, the 21/22 March & 25 April.

The courses will both take place at the Newtown Village Hall.

To apply, please contact Steve Elliott at s_elliott293 at or 07799 897 839

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Steve, G3ZVW to be active from Ascension again

Via the excellent Southgate Amateur Radio site comes news that Steve, G3ZVW, who you may remember as an ex-editor of RadCom, will be active from Ascension Island (ZD8) once again.

Southgate Amateur Radio Club member, Steve, G3ZVW, will be QRV again as ZD8N from Ascension Island (AF-003).

Steve will be working in CW, RTTY and SSB mainly on 30m-10m from Jan 12-27.
QSLs direct or via bureau to G3ZVW.

The UK CW Ladder

From John, G3WGV comes the following. If you're keen on CW, are based in the UK, then why not take part?

The first UK Annual CW Table was started by Roger G3SXW and Nigel G3TXF in 1983.
This year will be the 27th table and will cover all 10 amateur radio bands from 1.8 to 50 MHz.

To all UK CW operators
You are invited to join the 27th annual UK 10-band CW table, starting 1st January 2009.

What's it all about then?
The purpose of the table is to encourage CW activity on the HF bands and six metres. Each year participants start afresh and work as many DXCC entities on each of the ten bands as possible between 0000Z on 1st January and 2359Z on 31st December.
All UK Radio Amateurs are welcome to participate. You do not have to be active on all bands to make an entry. You just have to make some QSOs using Morse Code.
All CW QSOs count: rag chewing, contests, general DXing. No QSL cards are required: you are on your honour to report your score honestly.
There are no prizes, it's just a bit of fun and it helps to keep CW activity going throughout the year.
Full details at the UK CW table web site:

How do I take part?
The 2009 table has just started. Start keeping track of your band scores and submit them via the easy to use web site form. That's it! It's really a lot of fun - and it will amaze you how your score can mount up, especially if you take part in a few contests along the way.
I look forward to welcoming you to the UK CW table. Any questions, just ask.

73, John

Archive of table since 1983
Annual UK 10-band CW table

Friday, January 02, 2009

A change to the Fiddlesticks Weather Station

Thanks to Pete, M3PHP I've just made some changes to the weather station software I use here.

This has had various effects - and if you use the web page, you'll need to bookmark the new URL which is here - though if you link from either the G4VXE or Fiddlesticks blogs, then I've updated the links on those pages.

Most excitingly, though, the software supports Twitter, so the weather station will 'tweet' a weather report every half hour. I'm sure you'll agree that the software is excellent. If you have a weather station, you might like to check it out, it's free from Sandaysoft and it can be downloaded from here.

All that being the case, I probably need to update things so that the wind and rain gauges register properly!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Time to WSPR again

Last April, I included a few details of the WSPR program and what people were doing with it. Over the last few days, I saw something on Twitter about WSPR being a big thing for 2009.

I had a chance to hook it up this afternoon and had a listen. For several minutes, I couldn´t understand why I couldn´t decode anything! It then transpired that the clock on my PC was quite a way out. I synchronised it to an NTP source and then things started to work. Only 2 stations were heard in the hour or so that I was listening on 10MHz this afternoon; DH8SA from Northern Germany and VE2DC from Quebec. I shall try it out again tomorrow and see what can be heard during the day time.

New Year´s Eve Tropo

New Year´s Eve dawned foggy here, with the temperature well below zero. Any sign of fog and it´s always worth looking on VHF//UHF. Sure enough, the GB3VHF beacon on 2m was well over S9 and the F5XAM and PI7CIS beacons were well above normal, also on 2m.

Interestingly, the PI7CIS beacon on 70cms was much, much louder than normal peaking up around S7-8 on fades.

I tried a few CQ calls on 432.200 beaming to the east, but without any luck. After all, many people were probably at work. Around lunchtime, I popped into the shack and there was a huge signal on 432.200. So loud that I thought it was one of my locals. It turned out to be Frankie, PA2M in JO21IP. We had a really nice QSO - I think we last worked in something like 1989 when I operated, with the Squarebashers group from Porto Santo, as G4VXE/CT3.

Interestingly, the good conditions moved away quite quickly. I checked the beacons about two or three hours later and signals from PI7CIS had dropped dramatically, although the F5XAM beacon on 2m had increased in strength. Iḿ guessing the tropo had moved away from us and slightly further south - the weather map seemed to bear that out.


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