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