GM4ULS ham radio station

a QRM-free zone!

Sometimes someone sends you a cracker!

Posted by gm4uls on May 30, 2020

This card arrived today in a small bundle from my QSL Manager. It is probably the most flamboyant piece of “wallpaper” I have ever received. Thanks, Eric.

I have also just acquired an LDG IT-100 automatic ATU. This works very well with the IC-7300, which was a little unhappy at certain band edges. It tunes very quickly but, unlike my (dead) MFL-993B, does not simply work from your transmission and remember its setting, it requires you to hit the tuning button every time you arrive on a frequency with a problematic SWR. It does remember that it tuned there before, or that it tuned to a close frequency, but it still requires a push of the button.* The IT-100 tunes up to 6m, so while the sporadic E season lasts, I’m thinking of employing a coax switch, so that I can use my temporary dipole. I’m not a great believer in having lossy devices in line, but I will do some comparative tests.

[Edit: The tuner did not like looking into the coax switch, so I’m thinking again.]

[Edit: *Only if you don’t read the blinkin’ instructions!]

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Well actually, Boromir…

Posted by gm4uls on May 28, 2020

one can simply plug in an IC-7300 and start to operate. On the other hand, though, it does pay to spend a day watching the YouTube videos by WA2IVD to get to know all the touch-screen bells and whistles.

Here’s my new IC-7300. It’s monitoring Shannon Volmet, 5.505MHz, on a memory channel.

I decided to blow some savings and buy myself an early birthday present / reward for passing my 1st year PhD upgrade. My HF station was getting a wee bit tired. Odd inconvenient (if non-fatal) faults had developed on my FT-101ZD and my FT-847; my Ten-Tec Jupiter hasn’t transmitted at full power for a long time. Asking round the dealers, the choices seemed to be the Yaesu FT-991A and the Icom IC-7300. The Yaesu is a wonderful rig, but my UHF/VHF activities didn’t really warrant a rig that versatile, and it is on HF that I go for multimode operation. The attraction of the IC-7300 is, for me, the superb receiver – this morning I’ve been listening to WWV on 10MHz AM, a very weak signal that might have been below the noise on some of my other rigs. And to contradict Boromir again, yesterday I plugged it in, switched it on, and had a QSO with KL7KK in Alaska on 20m. He heard me on my second call, in a pile-up just as propagation was changing. Now, I know that this was 99% propagation in my favour, but when it happens on a new rig, you’re hooked!

The band stacking display on the rig doesn’t show either the 5MHz or 70MHz bands, This means one has to programme the 5MHz channels and some handy 70MHz spot frequencies into the memories. I’ve done that, along with such things as RAF Volmet, Shannon Volmet, WWV/WWVH, the bottom edge of short wave broadcast bands, and 27.555MHz USB – the latter is the calling frequency of the unlicensed 11m “freebanders,” and I use it as a handy indication of whether there is sporadic E propagation. As soon as I hear signals there, I switch to VFO and tune around 28.500MHz. It’s a lazy alternative to monitoring the beacon sub-band. I still have to programme 10m FM and AM channels, including repeaters, and spot frequencies for 70MHz.

The only real niggle I have – and it’s a tiny one – is that there is only one antenna socket. For a rig that covers HF, 6m, and 4m, that is a bit inconvenient, and either involves fiddling around behind the rig or setting up a coax switch. I prefer to have as little as possible between rig and antenna.

I love SSB, but I fancy trying some different modes. I have an SSTV programme on a Macbook, but as I don’t own a Windows PC I’m finding software for various data modes difficult to access. I want to try FT8, but the one WSJT programme for Mac seems to crash on my laptop and on my iMac. A friend has promised to lend me a Raspberry Pi after lockdown, so we’ll see…

PS. This is the first Icom rig I have had since a second-hand IC-215 in 1983. It can be seen in the rather fuzzy shack shot below. It was a lovely rig. I went from that to a Belcom Liner 2.

shack cb Icom 215 wessie pcr

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tnx OM Boromir

Posted by gm4uls on May 24, 2020

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

That station on Mockingbird Lane

Posted by gm4uls on February 24, 2019

Well, it makes a change from Tony Hancock.

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

This is how things stand…

Posted by gm4uls on February 12, 2019

MScA lot has been going on lately, starting in November last year when I graduated with an MSc with Distinction, in Literature and Modernity, from the University of Edinburgh. No, I have no idea why a postgraduate degree in a Humanities subject attracts a Master of Science tag either. Since then, a lot of time has been spent trying to organise a PhD place somewhere and arranging for funding. I’m doing all this during what is in effect a ‘gap’ year, having taken time off between the MSc and starting the PhD, which is due to go ahead in September this year.

Radio? “Who has time?” he scoffs. But actually, I haven’t been totally inactive. However, it was only recently that I have seriously switched on my rigs and other equipment to see what needs opening up and the dust blowing out. What I found was a heck of a lot of niggles and narks. Let me take you round the shack.

  • The ancient Fujitsu-Siemens PC that drives the Perth Echolink Gateway MB7APT-L suddenly refuses to find the operating system, and so boot-up fails. The darn thing is seventeen years old, after all!

.

  • There is still a big hole in the shack line-up where the FL-2100Z used to sit. It blew within eight seconds of the touch of my toe on the foot-switch. Martin GM8KPH currently has it, and I feel he might have a shock when he opens it up.

.

  • The Ten-Tec 538 Jupiter suddenly refused to put out more than about 4W pep on USB. The company in the USA that owns the Ten-Tec brand suggested a factory reset, which was a good idea anyway. But after I had done it the 4W had gone down to an indicated nil, and I could only get 1W with the key. The rig has been taken out and will go to the menders in Wales.

.

  • I think some of the others might be heading after it. For a start the FT-847 has an annoying fault with the MEM/VFO CH knob, in that it sometimes refuses to advance, and even goes backwards, when turned. This isn’t a major fault, but it is a minor inconvenience. The FT-847 remains the rig that is still functioning reasonably, but I might send it away to be fettled. If the Ten-Tec never works again, it would be good to have the FT-847 opened up on 60m/5MHz (though this isn’t a perfect option), so it might go away to the menders too.

.

  • The FT-101ZD has developed a fault with the AF Gain. The fault behaves like a “dirty pot” on both speaker and headphones output. This has been happening for a while, and I have been putting up with it. However, I noticed a couple more niggles yesterday. Firstly, my WM-308 desk mic no longer seems to want to speak to the rig. Hitting the PTT mutes receive as normal, but nothing happens when I speak (the mic works with other rigs). I did manage a QSO on 20m using a fist mic. However, when I switched to CW and hit the key, there was a noise reminiscent of a dying cat, and no transmit…

The good news is that I have been promised a nice old TS-930S on approval. This is a rig I once had on loan, I believe, and it is currently part of the estate of the late Robin GM3WFJ. However, if service is back to normal here at ULS Towers, it’ll probably be just in time for me to start back at university and be too damn busy to operate!

Always look on the bright side of life.

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A couple of Munros, Spring 2017

Posted by gm4uls on May 11, 2017

Ruth, MM3YVQ and I climbed Beinn Ghlas (1103m) and Ben Lawers (1214m), the latter being the 10th highest Munro. GB3PR and GB3PU repeaters were end-stopping signals from there. The climbs are not technically difficult, but they’re hard work.

2017-05-09 04 Beinn Ghlas summit

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Updated – the page about my father’s wartime exploits.

Posted by gm4uls on March 20, 2017

I was in the loft yesterday and found some old photographs taken by my father in 1944 in Yugoslavia (as it then was). I have updated the relevant page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

2016

Posted by gm4uls on December 26, 2016

2016-10-29-03-paulThere has been a lot going on in the world this year. For me, personally, the good propagation happened when my back was turned, and my doublet snapped and fell down. That was the bad news. The good news has nothing to do with amateur radio. I am pleased to announce that I am now the holder of a 1st Class BA (Honours) degree in English Literature, and am now studying for an MSc* in Literature and Modernity at the University of Edinburgh.

73 for 2017, everyone, and see you on the top end of HF, propagation allowing.

*Yes, Edinburgh awards ‘Master of Science’ in arts subjects.

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A 6m lash-up!

Posted by gm4uls on June 13, 2016

6m

I must remove that trailing bit of wire – it’s what’s left of my doublet, which has snapped, leaving me bereft of 30m, 40m, and 60m. I have plans for a slightly longer replacement, which I may be able to tune on 80m. Watch this space. ©GM4ULS

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

With MM3YVQ in the Forest of Ae

Posted by gm4uls on June 13, 2016

As you know, I post an occasional update on my daughter Ruth, MM3YVQ, the third generation ham in our family. Our latest activity was a 20Km hike in the Forest of Ae, Dumfries and Galloway, on which I was photographer and bag-man. We hiked mainly on Forestry Enterprise tracks, but at one point climbed a twisty mountain-bike trail, making sure we didn’t get in the way of any mountain-bikers. It was a Tuesday and blazing hot, so thankfully there weren’t many about.

The point of the trek was to gather information for her MSc dissertation, which is to do with a project Glasgow University is undertaking for SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, all about sediment and channel-change in the Water of Ae, a river in southern Scotland. Ruth made many interesting and surprising observations about the upper reaches of the river and its upland tributaries, and hopes that these will inform her dissertation.

We went as far as the fairly new Array F of the Harestanes Wind Farm (see the picture below). We would have liked to go on to the source at the Pot of Ae – in fact we would have liked to climb Queensberry*, the nearby high spot, at 697m/2287ft – but we didn’t have enough time. The hike took over four hours on the outward journey, with stops to fix our position on GPS, make observations, and take photographs, and a forced march of two-and-a-half hours on the return leg.

2016-06-07 03a Ruth, Harestanes wind farm

©GM4ULS

As well as Ruth’s scientific observations, I did some wild-life spotting. It amazed me just how far into the upland area I could hear the spring call of chaffinches. They were everywhere and in great numbers. I wouldn’t have expected to hear the spring call this far into summer. We also spotted a slow worm by the trackside. This fascinating creature looks like a snake, but is in fact a legless lizard. This is the first time that either of us had ever seen one.

2016-06-07 05 slow worm.png

©GM4ULS

The Water of Ae is a very beautiful little river, particularly in the stretch between Ae Village and the footbridge above Dan’s Pool. Minor roads beyond Ae Village take you to tributaries such as Capel Water, and to little places that tourists seldom visit. It’s a lovely part of the country.

2016-06-08 03a NX96182-96365 Caperl Water (trib) conf w Garroch Water (sub-trib)

The confluence of Capel Water, a tributary of the Water of Ae, and Garroch Water, with Queensberry in the distance topped with cloud. ©GM4ULS

*For those of you are interested, Queensberry is a ‘Marilyn’, a ‘Donald’, and a ‘Graham’. 🙂

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »