HAM radio


Yes. 7.074MHz. Was listening a bit higher up while my computer booted, and could hear a guy in Malaysia on SSB clear as day too. He was having a convo with someone else, so I didn’t TX, but was happy with that.

Currently trying Russia on FT8, can RX a guy there quite well.
 
I mentioned the other day that I was plotting contacts by hand, and wouldn’t it be good if there was software that did this. Well I just found GridTracker. The world is divided into Grid Squares (the “Maidenhead Grid”, somewhat like UK Ordnance Survey grid squares), and these are used in FT8 contacts (and others) to indicate position. The WSJT-X software has a web socket, so it can communicate with other apps/devices. I have it running locally, and it plots live traffic and optionally can load your logs.

It’s a bit flaky on my machine though. I’m not sure if it’s the machine itself (the one that likes beer), or the app. Might be that some of the beer fubarred a particular block of memory and it was being allocated that block. Restarting the computer seems to firm it up a bit. Or maybe the app is just flaky. Apparently it will run on a Raspberry Pi, so that’s the next little project.
 
Had something of an "Island evening" tonight. Worked the Azores, Madeira, Newfoundland and Cyprus on FT8. Also Costa Rica, Hungary and erm, Florida :)

Now have my "worked all continents" badge. I got the radio exactly a week ago.

Mick Watling would be proud of "his boy". Mick was an ex-RAF instructor at 8 Sigs, and then the Royal School of Signals in Blandford. When I became an instructor, Mick was my mentor. He took me under his wing on my T3, T1, and then as his "peer". I'll never be his peer.

Worked all continents in a week. I think Mick might just approve of that :)
 

itchy300

Old-Salt
Had something of an "Island evening" tonight. Worked the Azores, Madeira, Newfoundland and Cyprus on FT8. Also Costa Rica, Hungary and erm, Florida :)

Now have my "worked all continents" badge. I got the radio exactly a week ago.

Give the rest of us a chance! Good effort though, you've obviously chosen the best hobby for you
 
Had something of an "Island evening" tonight. Worked the Azores, Madeira, Newfoundland and Cyprus on FT8. Also Costa Rica, Hungary and erm, Florida :)

Now have my "worked all continents" badge. I got the radio exactly a week ago.

Mick Watling would be proud of "his boy". Mick was an ex-RAF instructor at 8 Sigs, and then the Royal School of Signals in Blandford. When I became an instructor, Mick was my mentor. He took me under his wing on my T3, T1, and then as his "peer". I'll never be his peer.

Worked all continents in a week. I think Mick might just approve of that :)
Excellent results, given how little you have done with antennas at your QTH. This highlights how if something seems improbable, give it a try anyway. Unless you encountered marine telephony on LF it's unlikely you have done much with 160m. Yes the wavelength makes ideal antennas rather long but for FT8, all you have to do is make it resonant and give it a try. This will bring new knowledge and experience of propagation below 2 MHz.
You might find some interesting nets to listen to.

There are still the other bands, time of day, season, grey line and so on.
 
Next week, building your own Stratocaster guitar.

Definitely not me. I have no musical ability at all. I understand the notation system, but absolutely clueless on how to make an instrument sound like what’s on the paper. I really don’t understand Guitars very well at all. I get that the strings are different lengths, and a bit like antennas (well, a lot like antennas), resonate at specific frequencies, and by shortening the length with the fret board, you get a higher octave. But the chords, where you clamp the strings at different points on the fret board, are like Chinese to me.

Mechanically, I probably could indeed build an electric guitar. If I really put my mind to it, I could probably also build an amplifier for it, and possibly some effects pedals. But I would have absolutely no idea if I‘d done a good job or not, because I couldn’t play it at all. Even a piano, which to my mind is similar, but just horizontally arrayed strings, key-operated, I struggle to get “Three blind mice” out of it. Lord alone knows how violinists acquire that skill!
 
Definitely not me. I have no musical ability at all. I understand the notation system, but absolutely clueless on how to make an instrument sound like what’s on the paper. I really don’t understand Guitars very well at all. I get that the strings are different lengths, and a bit like antennas (well, a lot like antennas), resonate at specific frequencies, and by shortening the length with the fret board, you get a higher octave. But the chords, where you clamp the strings at different points on the fret board, are like Chinese to me.

Mechanically, I probably could indeed build an electric guitar. If I really put my mind to it, I could probably also build an amplifier for it, and possibly some effects pedals. But I would have absolutely no idea if I‘d done a good job or not, because I couldn’t play it at all. Even a piano, which to my mind is similar, but just horizontally arrayed strings, key-operated, I struggle to get “Three blind mice” out of it. Lord alone knows how violinists acquire that skill!
You could try loading up the wire guitar "strings" for antenna experiments.
 
You could try loading up the wire guitar "strings" for antenna experiments.

Yes, but as i don’t have any guitar string wire, and no plans to buy any, it might be a while :)

It’s pissing down with rain, so the “antenna field” is a sea of mud, and the ferking rope’s stretched again. Next experiment will be weighting the end of the rope to tension it. The house end is fixed, and the tree end has a pulley that the rope goes through, then a rope tensioner tying off against a steel ring lower down the tree. It seems that when I pull it tight, and get a lovely taut line, either the rope’s stretching, or the tensioner’s letting the rope slip. I doubt it’s the latter, or it would be on the floor.

Plan B is therefore to dispense with the tensioner, and hang a heavy cast iron weight I just happen to have handy off the rope below the pulley. That should keep it in tension all the time, within the range of the height of the pulley to the ground (~20ft). If it’s not enough, I have three or four of the weights, and they’re probably about 30lb each. The hardware I bought has a 400lb breaking strain, so hopefully this will be an improvement.

Got to dry out a bit first though.
 
Yes, but as i don’t have any guitar string wire, and no plans to buy any, it might be a while :)

It’s pissing down with rain, so the “antenna field” is a sea of mud, and the ferking rope’s stretched again. Next experiment will be weighting the end of the rope to tension it. The house end is fixed, and the tree end has a pulley that the rope goes through, then a rope tensioner tying off against a steel ring lower down the tree. It seems that when I pull it tight, and get a lovely taut line, either the rope’s stretching, or the tensioner’s letting the rope slip. I doubt it’s the latter, or it would be on the floor.

Plan B is therefore to dispense with the tensioner, and hang a heavy cast iron weight I just happen to have handy off the rope below the pulley. That should keep it in tension all the time, within the range of the height of the pulley to the ground (~20ft). If it’s not enough, I have three or four of the weights, and they’re probably about 30lb each. The hardware I bought has a 400lb breaking strain, so hopefully this will be an improvement.

Got to dry out a bit first though.
Yes, a weight is a good idea, as long as there's nobody underneath it. It's a tried and tested method of applying tension. As long as the wire doesn't stretch too much.
 
Yes, a weight is a good idea, as long as there's nobody underneath it. It's a tried and tested method of applying tension. As long as the wire doesn't stretch too much.

It never occurred to me that it could be the wire that it stretching - of course it could, copper is ductile, and the insulation is flexible PVC, which will easily stretch. Hmm. Maybe the antenna’s resonant at a slightly lower freq :)
 
It never occurred to me that it could be the wire that it stretching - of course it could, copper is ductile, and the insulation is flexible PVC, which will easily stretch. Hmm. Maybe the antenna’s resonant at a slightly lower freq :)
Hard drawn copper will stretch until it fails under load.

You can do a number of things. I seem to recall that the ARRL antenna handbook used to describe how to support copper wire with polypropylene cord or rope. Paracord could do the job. The idea being that the cord takes all the tension and safely cradles the insulated copper wire. Rather than undertake lots of knots, you could use spacers with two holes, one for the cord or rope and one for the wire to be suspended underneath. That also reduces the chances of having the antenna clutching a wet support cord. One less opportunity to detune the antenna. You could lay in more supports eg roach poles or use a different wire.

Copper coated steel may be an option. The Clansman wire were shrouded in kevlar which resists stretching. You can still get kevlar wire from various sources. A lighter weight antenna wire may be less prone to sagging under weight.
 
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Hard drawn copper will stretch until it fails under load.

You can do a number of things. I seem to recall that the ARRL antenna handbook used to describe how to support copper wire with polypropylene cord or rope. Paracord could do the job. The idea being that the cord takes all the tension and safely cradles the insulated copper wire. Lay in more supports eg roach poles or use a different wire.

Copper coated steel may be an option. The Clansman wire were shrouded in kevlar which resists stretching. You can still get kevlar wire from various sources. A lighter weight antenna wire may be less prone to sagging under weight.

It’s 14ga stranded, so hopefully a bit more stretch-resistant. I suppose the answer, at least in the near future is to use the minimum weight that will tension it. Hopefully just one weight will do it. I’ve just dug them out, they’re cast iron blocks about the size of a 2lb bag of sugar. Having re-looked at them, they’re more like 15lb each. They came out of an old TV stand, to stop a large CRT TV from toppling over as the stand was rolled around the office. Some surface rust, so I just spray painted them, otherwise they’ll be a rusty mess in no time.
 
It’s 14ga stranded, so hopefully a bit more stretch-resistant. I suppose the answer, at least in the near future is to use the minimum weight that will tension it. Hopefully just one weight will do it. I’ve just dug them out, they’re cast iron blocks about the size of a 2lb bag of sugar. Having re-looked at them, they’re more like 15lb each. They came out of an old TV stand, to stop a large CRT TV from toppling over as the stand was rolled around the office. Some surface rust, so I just spray painted them, otherwise they’ll be a rusty mess in no time.
Can you find the loading specification for the wire under tension?
 

itchy300

Old-Salt
Bit of a random one reference signals in a military context, at what point in the chain does things like propagation, counter/sigint, frequency selection etc.. get thought about?

I get given the frequency we will be operating on, type it into my sh*tty bowman
and proceed to winge about it until endex. I've not thought about it until I got into amateur radio a couple of years ago but it must be a headache planning for hundreds of radios in a battlegroup/brigade even without the non-ideal operating conditions, enemy action and so on
 
Bit of a random one reference signals in a military context, at what point in the chain does things like propagation, counter/sigint, frequency selection etc.. get thought about?

I get given the frequency we will be operating on, type it into my sh*tty bowman
and proceed to winge about it until endex. I've not thought about it until I got into amateur radio a couple of years ago but it must be a headache planning for hundreds of radios in a battlegroup/brigade even without the non-ideal operating conditions, enemy action and so on

In the exercise planning phase, as soon as the exercise locations are known, HF frequency prediction is plotted to give the best chance for HF comms, and the frequencies are applied for from Bde or Div HQ. They correlate different exercise/operations and issue frequencies as close as they can, taking into account the other units requesting likely the same/similar frequencies. This gets a bit harder for multi-installation vehicles, multi-netted HQs etc.

Wait, what am I saying? What actually happens is that the YofS just pulls up the CEI for the same exercise last year, changes the dates/locations and issues it out, and goes back to stressing about his golf swing having gone to shit :)
 
Many years ago when I was a Screw at a Cat C Training Prison in deepest darkest and at the highest place in rural Suffolk.

It was a requirement to do a set of nights every 10 or so weeks. Being a Screw who the Governors did not really trust, I used to end up staging on the internal fence patrols. This would suit me fine, bimbling around the grounds all night, in the dark, seeing nobody and speaking to nobody, but maintaining a listening watch to my hand held Motorola radio.

One dark but very clear and cold night I was leaning against the 20 foot high external metal fence and my radio started to pick up transmissions from the Police Control Room numerous miles away in the Humberside area. This was bit of a surprise as the establishment radios were basic line of sight types using an antenna on the tallest building in the establishment connected to a mains set with a range of only a few miles from the establishment.

A phone call to the said Police Control Room and repeating some of thier transmissions confirmed that they were transmitting and I was receiving thier transmissions.

I was the only person picking up the Police transmissions, the establishment main base set was not. I had the Orderly Officer stand next to me to confirm the Police transmissions.

Next day the Home Office had some Signals types down to check out the establishment radios and if the transmissions could be picked up during various times of the day. Apparently it was only happening at night.

This went on for the rest of the week, same fence section, different hand set, same Police Control Room.

It was put down to the atmospherics.

Once the weather changed the next week the transmissions ceased.

We regularly used to pick up the radio transmissions from Dutch Trawlers out in the North Sea but that would be heard on all hand held sets and the main base set.

The Cloggie prisoners would say that they were going to be assisted in an escape by the Trawler Crews. I used to remind them that the River Lark at Bury and the brook at Haverhill were very shallow and would not allow the passage of a sea going trawler.
 
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