Saturday, July 24, 2010

Practical Wireless author, Gordon King, G4VFV dies...

I heard from my 'boss', Rob Mannion, G3XFD, the editor of Practical Wireless the sad news that well-known PW author, Gordon King, G4VFV died yesterday, 24th July. Gordon had been suffering from stomach cancer.

I'd known Gordon on the air ever since we got our Class A licences around the same time. Of course I knew his call as even then he was a prolific author! We had many a good chat, often when I was at my parents' then house in Cornwall, which was a good distance to Gordon's Brixham station on 80m.

I'm sorry that I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to him. A full obituary will appear in Practical Wireless shortly.

Where's he been? D-STAR and Echolink from a hotel in Madrid


I've been in Madrid for a few days, on business. I didn't have any radios with me, though I did have the laptop and a decent internet connection. I had a couple of QSOs using the DV-Dongle on D-STAR - which of course is great fun if you're stuck in a hotelroom. Not that I was stuck, as such... but anyway it was nice to work Mark, KJ4VO and a few others from time to time and just to listen to some of the reflectors.

Incidentally, I noticed someone the other day lament that there were a lot of reflectors on D-STAR but not so much activity. I'm not sure that's entirely fair, but I've found that rather than operating 'blind', I tend to keep an eye on http://www.dstarusers.org and see who's on and what repeaters / reflectors they're on. That way, you can easily work out the best place to listen to catch up with activity or a particular person.

I also had Echolink on my PC and I was hoping to try and make some QSOs through the Swindon 70cms repeater, GB3TD with it. However the router configuration of the hotel did not permit the UDP ports required to pass. It wasn't until later on that I realised that I could have remotely setup an Echolink proxy on my PC at home and used that. Find the Echolink proxy software on the Downloads section of http://www.echolink.org

TV series invites amateur radio enthusiasts to take part

Call me cynical, but I had a feeling I wasn't going to like reading this story on the excellent Southgate ARC News site.

So, the producers want to invite amateur radio enthusiasts onto a doubledecker bus for some sort of dating show.

What could possibly go wrong in terms of publicity for amateur radio!

Wouldn't. Touch. It. With. A. Bargepole.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One day: Two different types of QSO

Last Saturday, I made two QSOs (a quiet day, then!) but what interested me was the difference between them. Both highly enjoyable, but of very different natures.

Sitting out in the sun, before breakfast I was listening to my IC-E92ED handheld, monitoring the local 2m repeater, GB3WH and the D-STAR reflector REF005A. Tyler, WX4TX from Knoxville, TN popped up on D-STAR and we had a great chat. Tyler was some distance from his local D-STAR gateway, but was running 50W and a beam antenna pointing at the gateway. The connection was solid, with a few moments of R2-D2 audio as the propagation went up and down. We had a good relaxed chat about the different styles of breakfast in our respective countries - Tyler was planning a Buttermilk and Cornbread breakfast!

A few hours later, I was briefly in the shack, doing some work on the computer - monitoring 70.200. I heard a little SSB a little LF of the calling frequency. It turned out to be a Spanish station operating from the coastal area near Alicante. He was using 10w to a small beam and I was surprised to work him with my small station. Interestingly it sounded like propagation was favouring the Oxfordshire area as he was hearing the GB3RAL beacon at Harwell, me and not much else! Shortly after our QSO he faded out and I'm sure that the propagation moved to favour another area of the country.

Two different types of contact - but both very enjoyable. Diversity is one of amateur radio's strengths!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

70MHz: UAE permission granted / interesting openings

I just took a look at the excellent 70MHz website.

United Arab Emirates have granted permission for 70MHz activity, as a secondary service. 70.000 to 70.500 may be used, with 100W.

In the Chatterbox section, David, G4ASR reports activity yesterday from CU4/DL3GCS and D44TD.

Four metres gets ever more interesting!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

VHF NFD weekend

Driving home on Friday evening, Dan (whose call I've forgotten, sorry...2E0 from Wootton Bassett) asked me if I was going to take part in the contest. I laughed and said no, I'd retired! And to be honest, though I didn't say so, I hadn't really got an plans to 'give any points away'. I did say to Dan, though, if I heard his contest station, G5FS/P, I'd give them a shout.

On Saturday we had a lovely picnic at Blenheim Palace in the sunshine. We headed back in the late afternoon and I checked Twitter. Pretty much the first tweet I saw was from a DXCluster 'bot' which tweeted a DX spot of my friend Allan, GM4ZUK/P being heard from Scotland in the Netherlands. I always like to work Allan, so I headed up to the shack to listen. I swung the beam around to the north ( a tricky direction for me, as the antennas are a little shielded by part of the roof). Allan was coming through at fair strength with a few calling. I tried several calls on SSB but didn't get very far, so I decided to call on CW - Allan managed to dig me out of the noise! Thank you! Conditions weren't great, but it was nice to make the contact.

Anyway, over the weekend I made a decent number of contacts, purely search and pounce, on 50, 70, 144 and 432MHz. I did work Dan's contest station, G5FS/P on on 144 and 432MHz. GM4ZUK/P was the best DX on 144MHz, though F6KCP/P in JN18 was a decent distance. ON4AZW/P, EI9E/P, MM0CPS/P, MJ/PA1AW were all nice ones on 144MHz - with lots of G portables worked too. On 432MHz, PA6NL/P from JO21 was (as always) the best DX - with a great number of G portables as well. Should have beamed towards GM on 432, but I didn't seem to.

With the high noise level on 50MHz, it's not ideal for working tropo, but I was pleased to work G0FBB/P in JO01 as well more local portables.

On Sunday, I concentrated on 70MHz. Before the contest started, I was surprised to hear EI9E/P from IO62 coming through - and I heard them a few more times during the morning - but couldn't raise them on the 7W and vertical - I'd have been surprised if they heard me! Best DX on tropo was G3WZT/P in IO90, but G4RFR/P from IO80 was a good one too. There was some Es around too and I worked S51DI (JN76) and 9A6R (JN83) as well.

There was some Es on 50MHz during Sunday afternoon as well - I drove down to see the bees and worked HB9HLM, 9A9AA and IW1ALW (I think!) from the mobile as I drove back and forth. SV9GLW was coming through too - presumably a double hop Es opening.

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