Tuesday, 31 December 2013

And a Happy New Year

With the new year in prospect, and indeed already here in much of the world, I thought I would wind up the blog for 2013 with a few of my radio highlights.

As every year, the Heelweg meeting in January provides a strong focus in the immediate post New Year. Last year we took a car over for the first time so that we (G4HUP, G4BAO and myself) could visit Dwingaloo after the Saturday meeting. This we did, but the heavy snow showers made for an interesting drive back to the Hook!

We are taking a car over again in 2014 because it is so much more convenient.
I will take some 4m transverter kits as well as the usual PGA Amps and VLNA preamps. And some of Kent's PCB antennas, all to sell.

Sadly, shortly afterward we returned we lost my good friend Russ, G4PBP, to cancer.
I was honoured to be asked to do a Eulogy for Russ.
Later I was asked if I would be able to help dispose of much of his precious amateur microwave gear. I am pleased to say that we raised well over £2000 for the hospice where he spent his last few weeks.
He will be missed..........a fine gentleman and radio amateur that I am proud to say was my friend.

Next up was the Martlesham Microwave Roundtable. That was a very enjoyable event and I had the pleasure of hosting WA5VJB once again.

I attended my first RSGB AGM at Savoy Place in London. There I received the 1962 VHF Committee Cup for my work on the VLNA preamplifiers. Thank you RSGB.

June, and it was the Friedrichschafen Ham Radio Meeting with the usual trip over by train, boat and plane, but not in that order!

In September I attended the National Hamvention at Newark and took my place on the PSC stand, answering ( trying to answer....) questions from visitors. That was followed in October by the RSGB Convention at Horwood House. I did both stand duty on the UK Microwave group stand as well as doing a talk where I introduced my new 4m transverter design ( since released as a kit).

I gave up writing the RSGB Radcom 'GHz Bands' column at the end 2012. To keep my hand in I wrote the 'Getting Started in HF construction ( using SMT)' article in the January 2014 issue of Radcom and have been busy writing another 'getting started' article, jointly with G4BAO, for a later issue of Radcom.

2013 was a busy amateur radio year for me. Roll on 2014.

Happy New Year everyone

Sam






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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas everyone

I trust you all had a good 'un?

Sam




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Saturday, 21 December 2013

Visitors

Yesterday (Friday) I had a visit from SM7EYW and SM7GEP.
Tor and Hakan are on a short visit to the UK and had asked if I was a available for a visit.
It was my delight to show them the G4DDK station and discuss what I would be doing to the station, come the better weather, including an enforced move of the EME dish ( to a better location near the bottom of the garden).

I was able to show them both a little of the local area. It was fascination to hear that Tor has been interested in the radio pirate stations that were so prevalent in the southern North Sea back in the 1960s. He was a mine of information about the pirates and he was pleased to have Sealand (Roughs Tower) pointed out as well as seeing where Radio Caroline was moored, all those years ago!

It was listening to Radio Caroline all those years ago that initially got me interested in radio. I was fascinated to hear the changes in signal level as day progressed to night. And I enjoyed the rock music, of course.

The receiver was an old valve set, whose make I forget, but I think it was a Bush. This was installed in our outside coal house and shed, that later became my first shack. That QTH was near Ascot in Berkshire.

I've known Tor for several years, from meetings in Friedrichschafen and elsewhere. I think this is the first time I had met Hakan in person although we have worked on the higher bands (23cm and maybe higher -need to check my log!)

Tor is, of course, a member of the Moglarp contest group, located in Southern Sweden, who I have worked on many occasions.

After lunch it was time for Tor and Hakan to go and visit G3XDY, in Ipswich.

Hopefully, we will meet up again on Monday, before they travel back to London and then home.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Sam





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Monday, 16 December 2013

A bit more on 3cm

It seems at least two people read this blog!
Thank you. It encourages me to write more.

I was able to do more testing of the power supply regulators in the 10GHz transverter today. I'm pleased to report that the +11v and -9v both came up immediately and the failsafe close down of the high current 11V worked as it should when I removed the -9v
Unfortunately the transverter was missing the original Bulgin Buccineer power lead and connector, but I was able to bodge a working connector from an old rotator lead and in-line connector that had a similar Buccaneer connector. The catch was that this was the wrong polarity, but with a bit more bodging I was able to get something workable!

I heard today that the NoV has now been released for the new Clacton 3cm beacon, GB3PKT. I'm looking forward to hearing the new beacon in the next few weeks. It's location, overlooking the North Sea, promises to be superb for
observing super refraction. Maybe we will get more insight into the theory about vertical discontinuity back scattering of signals near to the estuaries of major rivers. GB3MHX has not provided too much information about this phenomenon. Possibly due to its inland location and distance from the Thames estuary. Clacton may be better located.

Sam




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Sunday, 15 December 2013

10Ghz update

Taking a break from my 4m and 2m transverter kit work I thought that I would see what I could do with my 10GHz transverter system, having been goaded into doing something by G4BAO's constant prodding!!!

I have not been QRV on 10GHz for over a year and had actually sold my original 10W transverter in lieu of using a smaller and marginally lighter 8W transverter that I had obtained in the meantime. Unfortunately the DB6NT PA in that transverter had 'expired' and I didn't particularly want to replace the 8W FET as the cost was felt to be a bit excessive.

After putting the transverter on one side for the summer I recently started to think about 10GHz again, with more goading by John.

A few weeks ago I inquired about my old transverter and was delighted to find that I could buy it back from its new owner as it didn't meet their needs for various reasons.

Today I took a look at what needed to be done to restore the transverter to full working condition. Although it had been pretty badly 'mauled' it looks like it can be restored to working condition. In particular the original DB6NT G2 transverter module had suffered from low transmit output. With the 'new' transverter module out of the defunct 8W transverter it should be possible to get back to a full 10W output.

I managed to find the original 10GHz transverter paperwork ( written exactly 11 years ago today!) and I think that I can work from that to get it all working again. It looks like I have a Christmas project.

If all goes well I hope to report on further progress on the 10GHz in the next few weeks.

Sam





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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Catch up

I have had a few weeks break from my blog. I was unable to blog whilst on holiday and got out of the habit!

Since getting back I have distributed quite a few of the 4m band Nacton transverter short kits, but I've now got back to testing the 2m version ( 144MHz RF to 28MHz IF).

Today I tested this version and it seems to be living up to expectations. The noise figure is less (better) than the 4m version and gain is slightly better ( expected because of the performance of the RF front end MMIC).
I have made a few small changes to the circuit to improve performance and these will probably be reflected back into the 4m version.

I have arranged for a couple of 2m versions of the Nacton to be built up by some of my friends in order to test their reproducibility.

If this further testing goes well I will make kits available, as for the 4m version. I haven't decided how much of the kit will be available and how much you will need to source yourself.

G4FRE is currently testing a 472kHz version of the Nacton. It uses the same PCB as the VHF transverters, but a few different components and lots of different values........

BTW, the name Nacton is taken from the local village near to where the Codgers radio group hold our monthly Saturday breakfast meeting.
Just in case you wondered!


Sam


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Location:Falkenham Road,Kirton,United Kingdom

Friday, 29 November 2013

Apologies

I have not blogged as promised during my trip down under, but I was thwarted by Google.
As my Nexus blog is linked to my gmail account Google decided that my access from NZ was possibly fraudulent and blocked my posts. I had to verify it was actually me. So far so good. But I didn't have access to my password. Attempts to reset using Google's system don't work when you don't have cellular coverage....
I gave up in frustration.
Yes, thank you, I had a great holiday!
Sam

Saturday, 2 November 2013

More storms

After Monday's storm I thought that was it. Today it started blowing again and my son happened to mention that a dead elm tree on the edge of our property was leaning precariously towards the lane at the side of our property. Rather than leaving it to fall on a passing car it was out with the bow saw and then with a good deal of sawing, cutting of ivy with the branch loppers, and it was finally in two large pieces; ready to heave away and dispose of.

What is the radio connection? It just about missed my 40m dipole that had been collapsed down to protect it from the storm on Monday. It seems nowhere is safe from storm damage.

Sam




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Location:Falkenham Road,Kirton,United Kingdom

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hacked

It seems that my e-mail was hacked on Thursday evening and my contact address list stolen. Just about everyone on the list was then e-mailed by the hacker with a sob story that I was mugged or something in Manila and needed money. I sincerely hope none of you were taken in by this very common scam?
I must have seen it at least six times in the last two years. The wording in the e-mail should have been a real give away. It was clearly not written by a native English speaker. It is too flowery and imprecise.

The first thing these hackers do when they get access to your account is change your own password so that you can't get back into your mail and make your own changes. You must contact your own ISP and get them to clear the hack. You can then change the password.
However, it may not end there. I was informed that some of my messages were being forwarded to the hacker. What had happened was that they had gone into the personal security area of my account and substituted another e-mail address in place of the second account you have previously entered. From this point on any messages received from the ISP will be copied to the hacker! Clever.......
Make sure you also run a virus checker over your PC or WHY and look for Trojans or key loggers that might have been embedded in your system.
I have also changed my passwords on all my accounts and groups
and even more than once on my e-mail.

Don't EVER click on a link in an e-mail, however innocent it may appear.......

I have no idea if I have really cleared the hacker out of my system, but since doing all this I have been constantly bombard with more phishing e-mails and realistic looking postings 'from' BT to upgrade my e-mail client etc. it all looks like someone trying to find their way back in. Needless to say I am even more wary of anything received that looks out of the ordinary. I'm not sure whether being without internet access for 52 hours after the storm has helped or not.

Sam




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Power outages

Following the St Jude's day storm we were without power for 52 hours. Power came back on at mid day on Wednesday.
That was long enough to destroy a freezer and fridge/freezer's worth of food........
As happens my standby sealed lead acid battery was not charged and even my iPhone battery was low on charge. It was only possible to use my phone by taking the iPhone for a ride in the car to get some juice back into it!
Of course, there was no amateur radio activity during this period.
We relied on a cheap and cheerful transistor radio to listen to Radio Suffolk and obtain storm progress and power restoration reports. I am not sure that a battery powered DAB radio battery would have lasted the full 52 hours. There is a lot to be said for simple AM and FM radio!
We registered for text updates from UK Power Networks. Although texts were forthcoming they were of very limited use. Even a rough indiction of when power might have been restored would have been useful. I know that it may have been hard with a widespread outage, but changed reports such as 'it's an overhead fault' followed by 'it's a substation fault' are clearly made up as it changed back to overhead again when more engineers were deployed to our fault. Such messages serve to annoy rather than re-assure the customer that the problem is being dealt with. Come on, UKPN, acknowledge that web pages are not necessarily very useful when power is off and texts need to be more informative. A proper national radio information emergency channel ( possibly on FM) would be useful at disseminating useful information. The internet is NOT the ideal information channel at these times.

Thanks to the loan of a small generator by one of the local amateurs we were able to power a light for one evening, but not much else.
The lesson learnt from all this is that we need our own generator and a switch unit to isolate the house from incoming mains so that the generator can be plugged in to power some of the house items at least.

Sam





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Location:Falkenham Road,Kirton,United Kingdom

Thursday, 24 October 2013

OFCOM visit

Today I was part of the RSGB team that met with OFCOM in London.
My role was to present EME in a favourable light, as part of the Space exhibit and one of the four areas of amateur radio on show today. The other ares were home construction, working pile-ups & ARDF, and a table-top antenna test range.
This was a follow-up to another technical meeting, held earlier this year. These meetings are in addition to the regular administrative meetings between RSGB and OFCOM.

With the amateur radio license terms and conditions consultation coming up next year, these meetings are essential to a successful future for our hobby.

During the meeting I met the OFCOM staff responsible for the 2.3 and 3.4GHz Consultation. That consultation is still ongoing. We have to wait to hear the eventual outcome.
However, I was able to explain first hand, to relevant OFCOM staff, some of the issues (of possible changes) for EME enthusiasts and what EME was capable of achieving given an interference free channel on these two important EME bands.

One of the presentation slides has an embedded video showing G3LTF working W5LUA using SSB on the 13cm amateur band ( video courtesy of BATC) . I could see that OFCOM staff were impressed that we were able to do this at all, given the great path losses involved and the limitations of our amateur license.

I have come away from the meeting with a very favourable impression of the OFCOM staff involved in amateur radio licensing, their understanding of our position and sure that they do care about us and will do their very best to ensure we retain a 13cm and 9cm allocation for EME and probably other areas of amateur interest.

It was also clear that the other exhibits and presenters did a good job, from the candid comments I overheard.

We should be thankful that the RSGB have engaged so effectively with OFCOM and that is good for the hobby's future.

As an aside I was surprised to hear one the OFCOM staff refer to our aircraft scatter activities whilst we were chatting over lunch. Following an explanation of what was involved, the distances that could be covered, etc the person appeared very impressed with what we have been able to achieve.
I would judge it was a very successful day and I am pleased I was asked to participate.

Sam




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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Convention

In case you are waiting for more about the Convention, I have decided not to write any more about it!
Too many other things to write about......
More later this week.

Sam



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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pictures from the Nexus7

When I got back from the Convention I found my OTG lead and USB SD card reader, ordered from Amazon on Friday, had turned up. After loading the paid-for NMI application onto the Nexus 7 and sorting out the work-around for the bug (they didn't mention it until after I had loaded it), I was able to upload pictures from my digital camera SD card so they can be incorporated into blogs when we are away on holiday. Expect to see a few radio and non radio blogs from down under.
Sam
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RSGB Convention

Well, what a great weekend.
In spite of heavy rain and roads closed due to accidents I made it to Horwood House on Saturday, albeit 30 minutes later than I had planned!
I spent a lot of time on Saturday helping answer questions on the UKuG stand, as I waited to give my talk at the end of the day. This was scheduled for 17:00 , so I had a long wait.
However, I had also entered the construction contest and so took my entry along to the viewing and judging room at 12:00.
There I met several of the other entrants and we were able to chat whilst we set up our entries for the judges to inspect. Exhibiting included providing a technical file with a technical description and plots etc. This had taken me much of last week to prepare.
Anyway, to cut a longer story short, in the designer section the winning entry was a very nice radio that will appear in an article in Radcom. My own entry of the 4m transverter won a highly recommended and a small prize presented to me by Eben Upton, Chairman of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
Later, when I gave my talk on the transverter, the Raleigh room was full to overflowing and it was standing room only!
To be fair, it was a small room, and my friends G4SWX and G4HUP also had the room full to overflowing for their talks.
If I had any doubts about the likely level of interest in the transverter, they were laid to rest my the response I got to the design.
There is lots more to report, but it will have to wait for another blog, later in the week.

73 de Sam

Friday, 11 October 2013

Convention preparations

Getting ready to go to the RSGB Convention tomorrow.
My bags of kits are packed, my talk is ready and my contest entry is finished at last.
Hope to see you in the Raleigh Room at 17:00, immediately after John' G4SWX,s talk on Remote Station Operation. I will be describing my 70MHz transverter.
Anyone wanting to buy a VLNA kit needs to catch me early as I am only taking a few for sale. I,ll also have a few PGA and SPF Amp kits for sale.
Find me on the UKuG stand.

73 de Sam


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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Spectral display

One of the highlights of next weekend's RSGB Convention will be G4HUP's talk on surface mount technology followed by a workshop on the Saturday afternoon where you will be able to try your hand at SMD construction. There will be a few soldering stations (4 probably) and Dave will have a number of his new, low cost, wideband buffer amplifier kits for you to assemble, under supervision ( if required).
I have just fitted one of these little buffer amplifiers into my TS2000X and after a little level setting I am now able to feed out an IF signal to either my SDR-IQ or to my Elecraft P3 SDRs in order to obtain a spectral display. This is one feature the TS2000 has sadly and inexcusably been missing. I felt lost without a spectrum display on the Kenwood.
I am pleased that the P3 can be simply programmed so that I can select either the K3 or the TS2000X direct from the P3 screen and if required the SVGA card in the P3 enables me to have a large 22 inch frequency spectrum display.
It's also the first time I have connected the SDR-IQ to the P3 'pass through' connector in order to get two different, but simultaneous frequency spectrum displays.
Why would I want to do that?
So that I can use the SDR-IQ and Spectravue to make Continuum noise measurements for EME, of course!




73 de Sam
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Location:Falkenham Road,Kirton,United Kingdom

Friday, 4 October 2013

PCBs

I'm pleased to say that the 4m transverter PCB went together without problems and works as specified. No track problems!






And now for something completely different........

IARU 432MHz and up contest
Now sorting out the rigs and indoor shack to outdoor shack connections.
I'm likely to be limited to 70 and 23cm this time.




Sam




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Location:Falkenham Road,Kirton,United Kingdom

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Nacton transverter PCBs

I'm pleased to report that the PCBs have arrived from China. Less than three days since dispatch!!!





They are very nicely made although the company appears to have made a small mistake in producing boards to my first Gerber file after querying it and I sent them a revised file. I'm going to have to watch that in future.
All it means is a short errata sheet with each transverter until I get a new batch made.
I hope to have a Nacton, assembled with the commercial PCB, on show during my talk at the RSGB convention.

73 de Sam




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Monday, 30 September 2013

And so to 70cm

With all the emphasis I have been putting on 4m recently I began to think that I ought to do something about the higher bands, especially with the IARU 432MHz and up contest this coming weekend. 432MHz is essential for this contest. I will probably also have 23cm available.

Late this afternoon I took down my 9 element 2m yagi and put my 21 element 70cm yagi back up in its place, at the very top of the mast.

It is many years since I had a masthead preamp on 70cm, so this was a definite requirement, especially with the long coax feed I now use.

Last week I discovered one of my 'reject' 23cm preamps. This one had failed to respond to my efforts to stabilise it. So I changed it to a VLNA70 and installed it in one of my interchangeable masthead preamp cases. I should add that having changed it to 70cm it was completely stable!!!! It was probably a faulty component that I had completely failed to find.

With the 21element Wimo on the mast I was delighted to hear and positively identify not only PI7CIS (JO22) but also HB9F (JN36) and F5ZHG (JO10)

At the moment I am unable to transmit, but I plan to implement the simple interface between my remote ( indoor shack) and main (outdoor shack) to enable PTT over the long control cable between the two. Maybe tomorrow.

73 de Sam






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Hamfest

I went to Newark on Friday.
A very enjoyable day out. I had volunteered to spend some of the day on the RSGB PSC stand although I was also able to spend a little time with Roger Banks on The DX Shop stand. There seemed to be a lot of interest in his new Gemini 4 70MHz PA and Roger was kept busy answering questions about the new 300W solid state power amplifier. Roger had a few of my built VLNA low noise preamps for sale on the stand, hence my interest.
Back on the PSC stand there was a steady flow of visitors. The PSC stand was in the block of stands allocated to the RSGB and was just across the way from the main RSGB stand. This obviously had its benefits as we were able to direct some of our visitors across to the main stand in order to re-new subscriptions, buy books or just meet members of the RSGB board.
Steve, G0KYA, is the Chairman of PSC. He had set up the PSC stand the previous day and it featured a number of photos, diagrams and a laptop running a slide show. Of particular interest was the plot of sun activity through this cycle. Steve didn't think we had reached the peak of this cycle just yet as the sun's magnetic field didn't seem to have flipped.
My only purchase of the day was a Cross Country Wireless SDR4+
This was purchased as a lowish cost way to produce a panoramic display on my TS2000. As the SDR4 frequency coverage has been increased to 4m it is now also capable of covering the first IF of the TS2000.
I struggled through Saturday to get it to work on my W7PRo desktop, but without success. I couldn't get the Si570 tuning to work.
On Sunday I tried again, but the installation was now onto my W7pro laptop. This time I was successful, but then I found the SDR-Radio software wouldn't apparently work at 70MHz!
I've put the SDR on one side for now and turned my attention back to preparations for the RSGB Convention in 12 days time.
I'm expecting a batch of PCBs this week. When I have these I will build one up to produce a 4m transverter to prove the PCB and to give me another version of the Nacton to photograph for the Convention!
73 de Sam
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Location:Falkenham Road,Kirton,United Kingdom

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Hamfest

Off to the Newark Hamfest tomorrow. I will be spending some time on the RSGB PSC stand as well as a bit of time on The DX Shop stand.

I will be looking for another SDR to use as a panadapter with my TS2000.
More on what I find, if anything, when I get back.

I hope to see many microwavers at the 12o'clock get together near The DX Shop stand.


Not looking forward to the early start tomorrow, though!

73 de Sam




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Sunday, 22 September 2013

4m again

I operated for an hour or so in the PW 4m contest this afternoon. I was rather surprised when several stations said 'thanks for the new multiplier!'
Was I the only JO02 station on 4m today? Apparently not. There was at least one more station on from somewhere north of me. I didn't hear them.

I used my original Nacton 4m transverter with the K3 and the external SSPA at about 100W output to my 5 element dual band 6/4m YU7EF yagi.
The only propagation I observed was tropo, so ranges weren't so great and there was lots of the usual slow QSB. My best DX was probably Tony, GW8ASD, who I usually work on the microwave bands and who is usually many dB stronger on 23cm than he was on 4m today,
As always, I found the waterfall and spectrum display on my P3 to be invaluable for spotting activity and knowing where to tune without the hassle of having to tune up and down the band.
4m.
73 de Sam
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Location:Home

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Web page update

This morning I updated my main web page www.g4ddk.com to reflect some changes to the status of my preamp kits.

I took the opportunity to update the VLNA PDF to include some important changes to the VLNA70 as well as including the changes required to the VLNA23 to cover 1420MHz (VLNA21).
I have also ordered a small batch of PCBs for the new 'Nacton' 4m transverter. I will be talking about the Nacton at the forthcoming RSGB convention.
For anyone coming to the Newark Fleamarket next weekend, I will be on The DX Shop stand part of the time and the RSGB PSC stand part of the time. I'm not sure I'm going to get to look around the flea market!
I plan to have the early prototype of the Nacton with me at Newark. I may also have another prototype of the final PCB with me. If you want to ask me about the Nacton please do so.
73 de Sam
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Location:Home

Sunday, 15 September 2013

More 4m

DUBUS turned up two days ago. Interesting that it contains a nice 4m transverter design by DF4UE. What is surprising is how similar some of it is to my Nacton design. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised at the similarities. Anyone starting out to design a transverter today would probably choose to use modern MMICs for the RF stages. Indeed DF4UE has chosen to use the same MMIC for the RF stage. Even the mixer(s) are the same as used in the Nacton, although I use just one whilst Johann uses two.

I have added more interface switching options since the original design. When interfacing the original transverter module to the PA, external linear etc it became obvious that it needed a few more options. I'll talk about this at the Convention.

As I mentioned in my last blog I have spent a lot of time during the week drawing the schematic circuit diagram using my PCB CAD package and then modifying the PCB mask to correspond. Or maybe it was the schematic modified to agree with the PCB?........
Anyway, both are now ready to be used in my Convention talk next month.

I've etched another couple of PCBs, using the latest mask, drilled them and am now ready to assemble another transverter using some alternative and easier to obtain parts to those in the early transverters. In particular I have had to order a set of tuneable coils from Coilcraft. Coilcraft are usually happy to supply free samples as long as you are not too greedy. The chosen tuneable inductors are similar to the now-obsolete TOKO parts used in the original design. I am keen to check that these ones do fit the hole pattern in the PCB and have an adequate adjustment range to cover the required 4m frequency range. I've been informed that the samples have been dispatched and hopefully will arrive this week.
Dave, G4HUP, is currently stocking what appear to be suitable 42MHz third overtone crystals in HC49U package, so I will be obtaining one of those tomorrow in order to try it in the oscillator stage. The transverter has facilities for an external LO input where the requirement for greater stability warrants it.

If all goes well I plan on getting a small batch of PCBs made in the next few weeks.
I might have these back from production before my talk in mid October.

The other thing I have been doing is working out how to assemble my 3cm band EME RF feed unit. After weighing the successful 6cm EME unit I have found that the 3cm power amplifier, waveguide switch, and adapter weighs in some 1kg less, leaving just enough margin to add the mounting plate, transverter and feed without exceeding the target weight of 4kg I have arbitrarily set.
As my TVRO dish has a quadrapod feed support, meant to support a lightweight Chaparal horn and LNB, it has limited ability to support a heavy RF head. It will probably need further supports to prevent sag when the dish is elevated.
As we approach the autumn equinox the sun is getting lower in the sky so that sun noise testing time is reducing rapidly.
Sam
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Location:Home

Monday, 9 September 2013

4m

I have been busy updating the documentation for my Nacton 4m transverter design, ready for my talk at the RSGB Convention, next month.
So far the design documentation has only existed as a series of notes in my shack notebook and in my head!
The need to ensure I have a comprehensive circuit schematic and PCB design ready for my talk means I have been having to critically examine all parts of the original and has already resulted in a number of small changes. Consequently I now need to produce another set of transverter hardware to check out these changes.
The good thing in doing this is that, because there is a good deal of commonality between the 70MHz Nacton and 144MHz Kirton transverters, I should be able to document the Kirton much more rapidly.......
Sam
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Location:Home

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Tek492P spectrum analyser

This is the TEK492P spectrum analyser I mentioned in my posting on the UK Microwave Reflector.
With 18-26.5 and 26.5-40GHz external mixers and Diplexer
Analyser covers to 21GHz on its Coaxial input.




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Location:Home

Friday, 16 August 2013

Scotland

Following our recent trip to the Isle of Mull for a few days break and to take up a long-standing invite to stay with friends on the island I have returned determined to get the EME system back on air. More on this in another posting.







First, Mull...... What a lovely place! Although we didn't see any eagles we did see dolphins, otters, red deer, puffins, assorted other sea birds and lots of herons.





Our trip across the island to Tobermory via Salen on a very narrow single track road was exciting and definitely a great way to see more of the island than many visitors see.





I am still enjoying the large piece of Mull Cheddar cheese bought at the Tobermory cheese farm!

We had dinner at our friend's, friends sea food restaurant, the 'Ninth Wave' near Fionafoort. Carla and John, the owners, did us proud. It was a very special birthday meal for my XYL! Fresh caught Lobster, fine wine and very tasty desert...........
The Ninth Wave, http://www.ninthwaverestaurant.co.uk/contact/
Highly recommended.

The following day we took the boat to Staffa and then Iona. It was from the boat that we saw the puffins and then the dolphins. Unfortunately the puffins had pretty much left the island by mid August, but were observable at sea.




Fingals cave on Staffa




Dolphins feeding on the way back from Staffa

After a brief call back on Mull the boat took us across to Iona so that we could see the abbey and have lunch. Then the regular ferry back to Mull.




Benedictine abbey on Iona. The original abbey, built by St Columba, has been largely lost and the newer abbey built in its place. It's still worth a visit.

We left for home with the regret that we didn't have longer to spend in this fantastic place. I'm sure we will be back.







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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Earthing the mast

Today I decided to connect a protective earth ( ground) to my Versatower.
This mast has been up for 11 years next month and in all that time I have not had a grounding system in place. I've relied on luffing the mast over whenever there is a storm in the area.
After a long chat with G3NYK and G4HUP about this at our weekly coffee get together last Sunday I decided I really had to do something.
Today was the day.



For now I am relying on a single ground rod. I will increase this to 2 or three in the very near future.
What has been the problem up to now is deciding how to connect to the metalwork of the tower. Although the round sections of the lattice would be a convenient place to make a connection, the fact that the mast luffs over means that a long ground lead would be required when new mast was puffed over. That is not a good idea. The ground lead should be as short as possible to ensure that the inductance of the lead is low. The rapid rise time of lightning discharges do not want to encounter a lot of inductive reactance.
I decided to drill a 9mm hole on one of the mast ground post locating 'pegs' and fit an M9 stainless steel bolt that would hold the ground lug on one end of the ground wire. These pegs are the nearest point on the mast to the ground beyond the concrete base of the mast. The locking pin prevents getting too close to the end of the peg, but near enough.
The photo shows two parallel ground wires. This is probably not a good idea and a single, large diameter, or flat, non-braided, ground would be better and will come later.
The ground rod is driven 4 foot into the (soft sand) and the big brass clamp is secured to the ground wire lug with brass M8 stud and nuts.
The black 'gunk' is an RTV sealant to protect the lugs and screws as well as the wire.


Sam



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Saturday, 27 July 2013

G100RSGB

Today was 'Last Saturday' so the Codgers had their monthly breakfast get together at the Orwell Crossing Truck Stop. We had a good turnout, once again, with around 35 in attendance. This monthly meeting was started some 6 1/2 years ago and has continued to be very popular with East Anglian radio amateurs. It is very much an eclectic group, with interests varying from LF through propagation, microwave and optical comms.
A large number of very well known and respected radio amateurs are members of the Codgers group.


Codgers is not a radio club. It is just an informal group of radio amateurs and radio interested persons.
If you are in the area on the last Saturday of any month, please join us at 10:00am at the Truck Stop. You will be very welcome.






After the Last Saturday Braekfast I joined the Felixstowe and District Amateur Radio Society at nearby Foxhall Road, for a few hours, to take my turn at operating G100RSGB. At 00:00GMT the G100RSGB call sign will be passed on to the next group to hold it for two days.

Meanwhile Felixstowe club will continue tomorrow with a GB call sign at the Foxhall road site. This is an old Cold War troposcatter station with three tall towers which once proudly sported dishes and a flyswatter reflector.

Disused since about 1992, when the USAF moved out, it is now a museum and hosts regular open days.

The radio club has used the site regularly for a number of years and as it is in the middle of nowhere it is possible to run relatively high power on HF without fear of causing interference to anyone.

The warm weather today meant a good turn out both from the public visiting the Comms site museum and other attractions, and popping in to see the radio club and what we were doing with all that wire in the air.....

The radios include K3 with linear, FT857, IC718 and some other radio that I forgot to note!
The antennas include a G5RV, 3 element triband yagi, some sort of HF vertical and yagis for 6,4,2 and 70cm

A very enjoyable few hours......
73 de Sam







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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Some tests on 3cm

I have been operating my Yaesu G1000DXC mast rotator remotely using an ERC controller and PSTRotator Lite, over WiFI. I realised earlier this week that I could also use PSTRotator to control my Spid Ras az/el rotator remotely from the indoor shack.
With a bit of help from Cudrot, YO3DMU, the author of PSTRotator, I am now able to use PSTRotator to control the dish and PSTRotator Az to control the mast rotator.
With this capability in place I replaced the 23cm feed on my small EME dish with a selection of 3cm antennas, using a 1.2m length of Suhner low loss coax to the 3cm transverter, mounted on the rear of the dish.

This worked well, even over more than 70m of coax, to the shack 144MHz IF rig.
But, I found it difficult to hold the dish on the sun in order to get a meaningful sun noise to cold sky reading, although the less critical pointing at the ground and then cold sky proved that the system was indeed working and on some dish headings I could hear the nearby GB3MHX beacon signal by scatter off local buildings and structures.

The principal reason for doing this was to see if the EME dish could be used for rain scatter contacts.
My conclusion is that it can be done, but will be difficult because the dish is so sharp.

On 6m I have continued to add locator squares to the few I already had when I started this SpE season! I now have 163 locators and 49DXCC. Recent additions have been a couple of USA stations, including Dave Orleans, K1WHS, who I have met several times in the USA and from whom I have bought a number of antennas ( he only recently sold Directive Systems).
This evening I worked a CU1 station ( thanks for the heads up, Graham). Afterwards I was called by CT1DMK. Luis and I moved up the band and had a long chat. It was his first contact on the band with his new log periodic antenna and just 20W. As conditions on the SpE path began to deteriorate we signed.
That is three new locators on the band today!

Coming back to 3cm. Today I was able to test a number of surplus 10GHz, 10W SSPAs that had been donated to our group. Each produced a comfortable 14W indicated output, at 10368MHz, and one ( a keeper!) did an indicated 18W output. These outputs were achieved for 8mW input. Nice!

73 de Sam


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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Remote operation of the shack - update

Several weeks ago I decided to buy an 8 channel ( relay) USB card to plug into my shack PC. This PC is usually left on and by using LogMeIn I can already access my rotator controller and log book, both on this PC, from my indoor shack laptop. Now with the USB relay card I can remotely switch up to 8 circuits on and off, with full isolation.

My current plan is to switch one of my remote linear amplifiers on and off line and to switch one of my antennas to the common feeders. The other channel uses are still being decided.

Although I bought the card several weeks ago it was only last night that I got round to downloading the control application and trying it out. It requires a USB connection to the PC and 12V to power he card. 24V versions are also available as are cards with more channels.

I purchased the Bulgarian made Denkovi card from EBay at $41
With these cards you are permitted to download and use their own DRM (Denkovi Relay Manager) v2.0 control application to switch the eight channels on or off. The state of the relay is then signalled back to the GUI. The name of the control channel can be labelled to reflect the controlled function.

How does it work? I haven't connected the card to the linear or coax relay yet, but I have had fun remotely turning LEDs on and off! It has been extremely reliable so far.





Channels 2, 4, 6 and 8 all turned on.

Sam




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Monday, 15 July 2013

Progress

I have not had too much of a chance to play radio in the last two weeks due to decorating. However, I did get to visit the Finningley Microwave Round Table on Sunday 15th. This is an annual event staged at the Finningley radio club site at the old RAF Finningley site.
It is actually a two-day meeting but since I prefer not to stay overnight I usually only get there on the Sunday. This year it was my turn to drive the 400 mile round trip with a 06:15 start from home and returning at 21:30. A long day for me!
I attended several of the talks and also set up to sell some of my low noise preamps as well as sell some of the remaining parts from the estate of G4PBP.
Overall, I about covered costs, but that was secondary to being there.
My only purchases of the day were a couple of 144-160MHz high power Alcatel (350W average, 2kW peak) circulators for £7 for the pair !

I also purchased a couple of old Aerial Facilities Ltd hybrid couplers for the milled boxes and connectors. These will be stripped out and then turned into diplexers( maybe triplexers) to enable me to combine and then split two radios onto one cable passing through the shack wall and then to split them again to feed an HF antenna and a dual band 2m/70cm antenna.

Don't forget to answer the 9 OFCOM questions on the 13 and 9cm consultation web page!

Sam




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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Friedrichschafen or, three men in a boat!

Now that the dust has settled and I am recovered from the weekend's trip to Friedrichschafen, the story can be told!






This was my fourth trip to FHN. For the second time I travelled by plane, boat and train, arriving at Zurich airport on Thursday afternoon, taking the Intercity train to Romanshorn and then the ferry across Lake Constance (Bodensee) to the town of Friedrichschafen on the German ( northern) bank of the lake.



Arriving into Friedrichschafen harbour


My travel companions were Graham, G4FSG and John, G4BAO.

We met up with a bunch of the Camb Hams on the ferry for the short crossing.





A drink on the ferry with the Camb Hams

After a great breakfast on Friday morning at the City Krone hotel, where we were staying, it was off to the Messe on the free bus.
Since we had previously bought our tickets on line we were able to join the shortish line to get into Hall1

I had some business to complete ( delivering VLNA preamps) on the Friday morning, so it limited my time to look around until late morning.

Hall 1 houses all the clubs as well as the various traders selling 'new stuff'. Traders like Kuehne Electronic, EISCH Electronic, Schubert Electronic, the Icom, Yaesu and Kenwood stands together with lots of smaller and larger traders selling everything from antennas to SDRs, RC helicopters, QSLS cards and computer wares.

Between Halls A1 and Hall A, where the first of the flea market stands were to be found, was the QSL wall, DARC presentation area, food court and A2 talks rooms.





Part of the QSL wall

I met up with Enrico, IW5BCE, at the QSLS wall at 1pm. this is an annual event when all the EME ops get together to either arrange the evening's meal or just meet and say hello in person. Enrico is the organiser for the EME Friday evening meal event on Lindau Island ( on the lake).

After lunch of Curry Wurst and Pomme Frites, washed down with German beer, it was on to the serious business of looking round the flea market stalls.

I have to admit I didn't buy a lot on the first day ( or the second!)

Being very tired and 'hammed out' we went back to the hotel about 5pm, ready for the evening meal with the Camb Hams at a local Chinese-Indian restaurant. To be honest the quality of service left a lot to be desired and I doubt we will be going back there again.
However, the company of the Camb Hams more than made up for the long serving delay and general quality of the food.

On day two it was a repeat of the trip to the Messe, followed by a good scour of Hall A4 and then back to Hall A3. Undoubtedly the quality of the 'items' in Hall A3 were superior, although this may be my perception as a microwaver.

This was also the day when Chris Duckling, G3SVL, presented his talk on 100 years of the RSGB and its association with other societies. Earlier there had been a talk on IOTA, also arranged by the RSGB.




Chris does his talk in one of the A2 convention rooms.

During the day I met up with a number of amateur radio friends from around the world. One of these was Bruce, PY2BS! Visiting from Brazil with his wife and son. in order to have more time to chat we arranged to meet up on the lakefront in Friedrichschafen and have our evening meal together.

We (Graham, John and I) were joined by Bruce, XYL Darsheema and son Max.

Sitting in the restaurant, looking out across the lake at the falling rain ( yes, it rained on the Saturday....) but enjoying a superb Greek meal with excellent wine made I seem like a different world!

Sunday morning and Graham and I elected to spend another few hours at the Messe whilst John went off the visit the adjacent Zeppelin museum.




A Zeppelin flies over the Messe!

All to soon it was time to head off for the ferry and the train and plane. But not before we had a last Kaffee und Kuchen, sitting by the lakefront. Most enjoyable!

The trip home was uneventful and although we were all tired, we all felt it was worth the expense.





John's friend says goodbye as we approached Romanshorn!




Arriving back in Romanshorn.

In all I didn't buy a great deal ( what do you buy a man who already has everything?)!!!!!!!
I bought some adapters, attenuators and GaAs FETs and of course lots of coffee, ice cream and the various meals and beer.

I was also presented with a nice 23cm feed for my EME dish. I want to thank Carlos and Victor for the very kind thought. I will be testing it soon and promise to report back on my results.

I'll be updating the Friedrichschafen blog as and when I think of anything else to cover.

73 de Sam




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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Off to Friedrichschafen

Getting ready to go to Friedrichschafen in the morning.
Bags packed, together with camera, mobile phone, handheld radio (for keeping in touch with the Camb Hams group), chargers, mains adapters, some pre-ordered preamps and the essential passport, boarding card, currency and credit card! And mobile phone numbers to contact those I need to.
I now have a small number of items on my shopping list. I thought I had everything I needed......
The weather in FHN doesn't look so good this year.
More when I get back.


Added several new squares to the six metre band total this evening after just band noise most of the day except for the odd meteor ping on 50.150MHz
That's 30 new squares in the last month. Still a long, long, way to go to even get onto the bottom step of the squares ladder.
73 de Sam
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Saturday, 22 June 2013

ESWR Ipswich rally


Tomorrow, 23 June, is the day of the Ipswich rally. This is now held in the car park of the Orwell Crossing Truck Stop, just off the east bound carriageway of the A12/A14 between junctions 57 and 58.
This 'new venue' has allowed us to expand the rally without incurring prohibitive extra costs. And the venue has a restaurant and bar! Some of us will be in early to get a good cooked breakfast before we start the day.
I will be manning the UKuG stand in the car park where the CambHams will be in attendance with Flossie, their purpose built radio vehicle.
I'll be bringing some microwave equipment for show and be there to answer technical questions as one of the volunteer tech helpers for the Group. As I am also one of the moderators for the RSGB 'Litmus test' consultation, I may be able to answer some of your questions and may be able to offer some advice on your response to OFCOM. This is a very important consultation so don't miss your opportunity to contribute. The very future of the higher amateur bands is at risk and the implications for the VHF and HF bands is obvious. We are now very much into a world where we need to justify our very existence and where amateur radio privileges could be withdrawn if policing the amateur radio service is felt by OFCOM to be unjustified or too expensive. We will need to up our act.
The recent few weeks have seen me fill my shack with equipment for disposal, both from the shack of my late friend Russ and then from a lab clearance. Just about all of Russ' stuff has now been moved on to new and deserving homes and a very good amount of money raised for the hospice in Wolverhampton.
Just this last week I was asked if I would help clear some 'older' microwave and general radio/test equipment 'stuff' from a university lab that was closing. None of this was to be sold, but rather re-homed as donations instead of going to the scrap merchants.
I have kept a couple of the uni items for myself including a couple of Marconi Sanders X band horn antennas and an old bench DVM.
As a result the pile of 'extras' in my shack has considerably reduced in the last few days and I can actually get in there now. The extra space has meant that I have been able to finish the new 4m band transverter. I will take this to the ESWR tomorrow and may be able to show it on the UKuG stand ( well it could be an IF converter.....)
Just to show that it's not all moving equipment around I have managed to pick up several new squares on 6m in the last few days and using the new 4m transverter I have worked around half a dozen stations on the band in the few spare moments I had available for operating.




The new 4m transverter.
After the ESWR is over it is back to preparing for Friedrichschafen.
At least one person has asked me how I am getting to Friedrichschafen. I will be taking the same route as last year. That is, fly to Zurich, Intercity train to Romanshorn and ferry across the Bodensee to Friedrichschafen. This is possibly the easiest way to get there from the UK and used by many other UK amateurs.
73 de Sam
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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Visit to Bentwaters






This weekend we had a visitor from the USA. Steve, WB0DBS, from Wichita is a friend of many years. My wife and I first met Steve and his wife in Dallas at one of the Microwave Update meetings we attended. Since then Steve and Jeannie have visited with us in the UK and we have visited their magnificent Victorian era home in Wichita.
Steve is a regular visitor to the UK for his job and when he is able he visits us in Felixstowe.
On this occasion, whilst deciding what we could visit as something new, Dave, G4HUP, mentioned that his radio club, The Leiston Amateur Radio Club (LARC) would be putting on a radio station at the Bentwaters Open Day on the 16th June. This sounded ideal as Steve once served in the USAF at USAF Alconbury, Cambridgeshire, and was keen to see Bentwaters again after many years.
Bentwaters is open to the public on a regular basis, and once a year have their big open day. For those who don't know, Bentwaters was until 1993, the home of various USAF squadrons and latterly the 81st Tactical Wing. When we moved here in 1984 Bentwaters was home to A10 Warthogs (anti tank planes). Previously it was home to a range of fighters and bombers over the years. The now decommissioned airfield still has its long runway and lots of hardened ammunition bunkers and aircraft hangers. As well as all the other facilities required to run a large military airfield.
These days the airfield is home to a large number of small industries as well as a number of private aircraft including the world famous 'Grace Spitfire' ( see heading photo).
One of the nice things about the open day is that among other things there are bus tours around the normally-hidden areas of the airfield. This includes seeing the ammunition bunkers, repair facilities, 'Hush room' and more.
The Hush room is a specially soundproofed bunker where aircraft engines could be run up at full power and could hardly be heard outside the building. A huge 'silencer' baffles the engine sounds.
The photo shows one of the ammunition bunkers.




After the tour we were able to eat (American burgers, what else!) and then go and visit the Bentwaters Cold War Museum (BCWM).
What an interesting place. For anyone over about 50 the Cold War era is still very real and was a period of high tension between the capitalist and communist worlds. Cuba missile crisis, Korean War, Vietnamese war and so on.








These two photos show scenes inside the museum. The control room is where any conflict involving the airfield would be run from.
But the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Grace Spitfire and the YAK flying displays. Although we left before it arrived there was a SeaKing Air Sea Rescue helicopter drop-in scheduled for later in the afternoon.
After the flying displays by the Spit and Yak they came and parked up right in front of us. What great photo opportunities!








In the second photo the YAK can be seen, in the background, on a low level fly-past in front of the Spit.
ML407 has a very distinguished career. Built in 1944 is saw action on the first day of the D day landings. It flew more than 160 sorties during the war. I don't know if there are any more Spits, still flying, that saw service in WW2?
First built as a single seater it was converted in 1950 into a two seater. It saw service with a number of airforces including the Irish Airforce and ( if I remember correctly) the Norwegian airforce.
ML407 is now privately owned and is based at Bentwaters. It is owned by the Grace family and flown by Carolyn Grace. Yes, a distinguished and very capable lady pilot! Originally ML407 was bought by Nick Grace who was tragically killed in a car accident in 1988. His widow decided she must keep ML407 flying and two years later flew the Spitfire after learning how to fly. Her son also flies ML407 on occasions.
ML407 is often to be seen flying over our home whilst it is put through its paces ready for flying displays or just for testing.




ML407 has a V12 Merlin engine that sounds superb. Very evocative!
The next photo shows what I assume to be the spare Merlin engine for ML407, mounted on a trailer frame. This engine was run up several times whilst we were there. Fabulous! A real 'hat knocker off-er!'












This was seen next to the BCWM, opposite a Rapier missile launcher. It looks ideal as a 10GHz EME dish and mount!




An original radio transmitter and receiver used in the control room.
I need to find out more about the YAK. On this occasion it was, for me, very much the support act. However it is an interesting plane in its own right and deserves to have more words written about it.




A couple of biplanes that flew into Bentwaters whilst we were there.
Now that Steve has gone down to Hampshire ( to do some work!) I will turn my attention back to the new 4m transverter I'm building. It's been air tested at low power. Now to connect up the rest of the control circuitry and the 7W PA!
Out of interest the prototype, built last year, is out on loan and has already been used to work some juicy SpE DX on the band.
73 de Sam
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Thursday, 6 June 2013

Getting ready for RAL

I have been busy getting stuff ready to take to the RAL ( Rutherford Appleton Labs) Microwave Round Table on Sunday.

I was asked to help dispose of a lot of microwave related items belonging to my late friend Russ, G4PBP/G8BHH. The main disposal is being handled by a mutual friend, but he felt that he didn't have enough experience in microwaves to be able to set realistic sale prices. He and Russ' widow asked if I could help. All proceeds from the sale will be going to the hospice where Russ spent his last few weeks.

I'm pleased to say that almost all the larger items have been spoken for, leaving a large number of smaller items ( connectors, adapters, cables, mixers, wave meters, loads etc) to be sold. Some of these items have already been sold when I attended a meeting in Cambridge. However, there is still a lot to go and I've priced it ( with agreement) to sell as the shack must be cleared!











Sam



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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Dayton part 3 - home

At least on Sunday morning we were able to have a 'lie in' before departing for the Hara Arena.

Time to return the room keys to the University reception, head for the car park, 'breakfast' and the arena.

We arrived about 8am and parked the van in our usual spot before going off to have a last look around. No trading for us on the Sunday, but the chance to pick up some las minute bargains....
Most but not all the Fleamarket and hall traders had already departed. But here was still enough to see and do before departing for the airport. Rich had already departed for Dallas early on the Sunday morning, before Kent and I were even awake.

After a quick look round at what was left of the Fleamarket I went into the hall area. In there I bumped into Justin of Innovantennas and had a chat. Later we were joined by Kent, WA5VJB and an earnest discussion on antenna ensued. Photo 1 shows Justin and Kent in deep conversation.






You can see that the North Hall wasn't as busy as usual on the Sunday morning. The Elecraft stand, behind Kent, was as quiet as I had seen it all weekend!






Not much left in the Fleamarket............







After saying cheerio to Lloyd, NE8I and a few other other guys, I was back at Dayton Airport about 11am and ready for my flight to Chicago on the Embraer 145 jet. Kent went back to the Hara Arena to pick up Douglas, his co-driver for the long drive back to Dallas, and then set off to cover the 1150 miles through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and into Texas.


An uneventful flight for me and we touched down at Chicago O'Hare airport after about one hours flying time. O'Hare airport seems to be bigger every time I see it! The last time I was here was at least 10 years ago.

The flight into O'Hare, over the south end of Lake Michigan, was close to Gary, Indiana, and I was able to see just how desolate this old American industrial area has become. It was easily recognisable from the air. Fascinating!

Lake Michigan is a well known American microwave area and I previously wrote about amateur microwave contacts over the lake in my column in Radcom. It was nice to see it from the air. I had already been driven through it by Mike, AA9IL, in his pick up truck some years ago ( on our way to the Sandusky Microwave Update event).

A few hours later ( another delay on United Airlines) and it was off on the trans Atlantic leg home to Heathrow. Justin and I were in adjacent seats, so we were able to chat about 'ham' things before the day's exertions got the best of us!

We touched down at 06:00. I was completely disoriented by the fact we were in Terminal 1 whereas we had left from T4! A short underground ride later and I was back on familiar territory and ready to collect my car from the T4 long term car park and the 2 hour drive home.

It was a great trip to Dayton. I really enjoyed visiting again after my several years absence. I would like to go back at least one more time. I really don't know why as the Hara Arena is becoming quite dilapidated and must be nearly ready to be pulled down. The Friedrichschafen Messe is much, much, cleaner and the food and beer is so much better. And the flight there is a lot cheaper than it now costs for long haul flights.

But, there is something about Dayton that keeps drawing me back. It has more to do with the social aspects of the event than suffering the inadequate facilities of this old establishment.

My thanks to Kent, Brian, Rich, Lloyd, Dave, Tony, Dick, Zack, Ed and all the other American amateur radio guys who helped to make my visit so successful. Thank you.

Dayton, I will be back again!

Sam





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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Dayton part 2

Saturday morning we departed from the Uni about 06:30. It was overcast with 50% rain in the forecast.
After the usual stop for breakfast we arrived early enough to beat the flea market trader queues. Kent parked the van and set off for his usual early tour of the flea market. This is often when the bargains are found, there are few 'punters' around to compete with, and the other traders have time to talk.
I helped Rich set up his two gazebos and tables. Still no sign of Kent so I decided to set up our own gazebo and get the table out. As we were joined by Lloyd, NE8I, we were able to use several of his more substantial tables. It was a good job we did.
Then the rain came.......... Several hours of heavy rain meant we had to move everything under cover and even put some stuff back into the van to keep it dry. All the while we sheltered under the gazebos, progressively moving towards the centre to avoid the run-off from the gazebo roof.




Eventually the rain stopped, the sun came out and everything dried off. Several traders had already decided to leave early, but there wasn't a mass exodus.
Trade picked up, but we were able to take it in turns to leave the booth and wander the market or the halls. During this time I purchased the spares for my damaged K3 and an SVGA board for the P3 from the Elecraft stand.
I also continued my search for remote operation products and found several new ones that have either recently hit the market, or are about to.
One of the recent additions to the market was the Remoteshack unit and I watched a demo showing access to a TS2000 from a cellphone and listened carefully to glimpse what might be coming.




At 5pm we packed up and Kent went off to a business meeting whilst Zack, W9SZ, kindly drove me to the Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner with the Mount Greylock Expeditionary Force (MGEF) consisting of Brian, WA1ZMS; Dick, WA2AAU; Doug, K2AD; and Bob, KI2L. We were joined by Dave, KB0BE (G5BQE when he was in the UK).




Left to right, Brian, Bob, Dave, Doug, Zack and Dick. Me behind the camera!




Dick and Doug enjoy a pint and pasta.......
I am going to continue this into a third part as there is still a lot of material to include.
Sam
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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Dayton Hamvention visit part 1

This was my eighth visit to Dayton. For the first time I flew directly to Dayton ( via Newark) rather than via Dallas and a long drive!
After a 2.5 hour delay at Heathrow I arrived at Newark to be met by a 1hour immigration queue and the surliest immigration officer I have met in over 20 years of regular visits to the USA!
I then arrive at the United Express Jet gate for Dayton to within one minute of the scheduled departure time..........only to find out, to my relief that the flight had been delayed by "59 minutes". In fact it was delayed 1.5 hours. So I arrived at Dayton an hour and a half late. Fortunately, I had been able to call WA5VJB on his cellphone and let him know about the delay. At the airport I used 146.54MHz FM to call Kent and we met up at his minivan.

Although late, Kent whisked me off a few miles to the SE VHF Group dinner at a local BBQ restaurant. It was good to see so many old friends again, from across the VHF spectrum. I didn't get any photos at this event.

After the meal we set off for our accommodation at the University of Dayton.
Photo 1 shows Kent's minivan in the car park outside the Kettering Halls of Residence at UoD. Note that the students had already completed their educational year, so the Uni was pretty quiet apart from all the radio amateurs who were staying there.



Photo 2 shows the outside of the building.





The student accommodation consisted of a dorm with two bedrooms, lounge/study, bathroom, toilet and shower. All pretty basic but low cost, so acceptable!

Thursday morning dawned foggy, but warm. I really was surprised when I ventured outside and found that it was well into the 60s F in spite of what I expected to be cold weather.

After stopping at the local United Farmers Dairy to grab a coffee and Donut it was off to the Hara Arena in Trotwood. Trotwood is on the north side of Dayton whilst the UoD is on the south side. We took the I75 north to avoid going through Dayton. I am always amused to see that we pass through the evocatively named Dayton suburb of Shiloh on our way to the arena.

At the arena we joined the queue to enter the site. Flashing our badges we were straight in and round to the pitch booked for the North Texas Microwave Society ( NTMS). Pitches 2765 to 2768. Shown here in photo 3





Fortunately the fog cleared by lunchtime and it warmed up into the 80sF. I have to admit it was getting a bit warm for me and I hadn't put my hat on so I burnt the top of my head........

Photo 4 shows the fog on Thursday morning.




I spent a lot of time helping Kent set up the stand and selling items from Kent's extensive offerings. in fact just about all of Kent's test equipment items were sold in the first hour after opening. It was probably priced too low.
We shared the pitch with Rich Osman, also from Dallas. Rich had a lot of components etc to sell.






After a good walk around the flea market that took a few hours I had covered about 10% of what was on offer and had yet to go inside the many halls.
I found it more comfortable inside, with air conditioning, during the warm afternoon.






Two views inside the halls.







Friday finished with Kent and I going to the Weak Signal Banquet, held at the Dayton Grand Hotel in downtown Dayton. There is a story about how we got there, but that is for another day!

My thanks to Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, who kindly paid my entrance fee. I owe you, Brian.

This annual banquet is one of the highlights of Dayton for me and many other visitors to the Hamvention.
After dinner the speaker was Jeff Klein, K1TEO, VHF contester extraordinaire!





Jeff explained all about his VHF site in Trumbull, Connecticut and his description of his station, operating technique etc was quite enthralling.

After Jeff's talk we had the contest trophy presentations from John, K9JK.




The next photo shows one of the plaques, this one awarded to the K9NS contest group as winners of the 2012 USA multi operator contest.



After the presentations it was time for the prize draw and with over $5000 worth of prizes on offer, this was a much anticipated part of the dinner.

I'm sorry to say I didn't win anything. I did contribute one of the prizes. Kent won a rather nice Bengali key. The top prize was a Yaesu transceiver.

As we left the Dayton Grand it was pouring with rain. This was a sign of things to come!

In part two I will cover Saturday and Sunday and the trip home. If you can stand the suspense!

73 de Sam



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