Monday, 6 April 2015

March APRS

APRS received at home

Saturday, 28 March 2015


I tried the Puxing PX-777 VHF handheld again on Whitbarrow (SOTA G/LD-056) today and even after being fully charged this morning, the battery lasted about 2 minutes on transmit. I won't be using that battery again for transmitting. This time I had come prepared and had a PL259-SMA adaptor so I could connect up my Alinco handheld instead.
Made 6 QSOs including a summit to summit with G0EVV who was on The Calf (G/NP-013). The weather was so bad on the way there I was thinking giving it a miss but it stopped raining by the time I set off walking.

WiFi scan from the summit. The first 3 (in the 5GHz band) look like long distance links, zone2b could be from the mast at Scout Scar near Kendal, I've picked that up on Brant Fell near Windermere before.
Lamb Howe is the name of a caravan site about 5km to the north, near Winster. lambhowe1 is probably from there as caravan site WiFi usually gets a long way.

Sunday, 22 March 2015


WiFi received on Kirkby Moor with my Galaxy Note 3
Holker Old Park Wood is a caravan site about 9km away. Not sure where Endurance Wireless is from, but I've also picked it up on the Hoad at Ulverston, so probably somewhere round there.
There are so many WiFi access points on these days that you will probably pick something up on most hills, especially with places like caravan parks using high gain antennas to cover the whole site.
I was up at Kirkby Moor yesterday afternoon and made 2 summit-summit contacts before the battery in the Puxing PX777 handheld died - I had charged it a while ago but it must have discharged slowly (still showed full battery on the display). So no activator point but some chaser points.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Superfast Broadband

The Belkin that put out all that QRM on 145MHz has finally gone
Replaced by this "monstrosity" (as my XYL calls it - BT fixed the boxes to the wall).
The Technicolor TG582N (lower box) is actually an ADSL modem router but one of the ethernet sockets can be used as a WAN connection. It has new firmware on it, with Plusnet FTTC branding.

As the BT modem has to be next to the master socket, I bought a WiFi bridge to connect my wired network to the internet. Before I had the Belkin modem router next to my PC, and a small wired network (D-Link NAS, PC, gigabit switch) plugged into that.

The Edimax CV-7428NS bridge sat on top of my D-Link DNS-320 NAS. It doesn't come with a power supply, just a USB cable, so I've powered it from the front USB port on the NAS.
The bridge has 5 ethernet ports but they are only 100 meg so aren't good enough for a direct connection between PC and NAS. That's what the Zyxel switch is for.

Downloading an Ubuntu iso file, with the WiFi bridge. This was at 8:30am on Sunday. A 1GB file took around 3 minutes to download. The download speed is advertised at 40Mbps but the line is probably able to do a lot faster as you could choose either 40 or 80 (for an extra cost).


Got a brand new Yaesu FT-7900 this week, so I'm back to using a dual band radio at home, replacing the old FT-1500 single bander.

It's quite like my FT-8900 which I use in the car but a few differences:
1)The wide/narrow deviation setting only changes the deviation, not the receive filter.
2)The memory skip and bank settings are unique to each Hyper Memory (the memories themselves are common), so you can select a different set of memories to scan using the HM buttons.
3)The receiver covers 108 - 520MHz with no gaps. Even though sensitivity won't be as good outside the amateur bands, it doesn't drop off as suddenly as the FT-8900.
4)The S-meter is very sensitive on VHF, up to around S5. I get S4 of noise on 145MHz!
Because there is only a single receiver, there is a lot more room to put the controls, so the channel selector and buttons are twice the size of the other Yaesu mobiles.
I've tried uploading the memories to my PC using CHIRP and it works OK, except any airband frequencies are missed, CHIRP just says 'ERROR' for those channels.
I'd been deciding between the FT-7900 and one of the Wouxun quad band mobiles, but in the end I went for the Yaesu. With my FT-8900, I've never really used the 10m and 6m bands as I only have a dual bander on the car and when I used it at home it was with a 6m/2m/70cm antenna only. I can't even remember having a QSO on 6m or 10m with it in the last 10 years. The FT-8900 only receives 28-30MHz too, no transmit or receive on CB channels.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Belkin Router

I use a Belkin F5D8636 N Wireless Modem Router for my internet at home.
This is what 144-146MHz is like with it on (antenna on the chimney, Belkin upstairs)

And this is what it is like with it switched off
The strongest of the carriers is at 144.710, reading 7 out of 10 signals bars on my FT-1500. There is one on 145.500 at 4 bars.
I think it's time to get something new for internet access, and if you see any of these for sale, avoid them. They don't handle large numbers of connections well either, default BitTorrent client settings bring all other traffic to a standstill.

Yesterday, for the first time ever in one of my PCs, I had a hard disk fail. Switched on, Windows error message
but Windows wasn't even booting from or installed on that drive. There was a spinning and then clicking sound repeating itself, so I was sure it wasn't just a missing file.
Anything important had been backed up automatically using CrashPlan, so it wasn't too bad.
The failed drive was a 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, with a date of 2009. It wasn't new when I got it, it had been in USB case but had stopped working. It was a short circuit across the 12v supply, which was caused by the surge protection diode. After I cut that off the board, it worked OK for the last 2 years.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Gummer's How

Activation of Gummer's How G/LD-050 yesterday. The pole just about stayed in the ground, giving mixed polarisation. Got 5 QSOs and then the hail started.

I had a look at my SOTA log data to see exactly how many different stations I'd worked while out on the hills (over the last 12 years). I was most interested in how many UK stations I'd got so I removed all but those starting with 2, G or M. Then took any /A, /P or /M off the end of the callsigns. I left the regional locator in (GW, MM etc.).
This gave a total of 4098 contacts, and 1062 unique callsigns. Most of those were on VHF/UHF FM, and about half of the QSOs were from LD region summits (533 callsigns from LD summits).
Just under half of those callsigns began with G, so these had probably not been replaced by a newer one for the same person (unless they got a Class A licence between 2002 and 2003). The other half of the stations may have had more than one callsign for the same person (M6, 2E0 then M0 etc.) so the total number of people rather than callsigns will probably be <1000 .="" p="">658 of the 1062 callsigns appeared in my log only once in 12 years, I'd guess many of these were from the more distant summits I've only activated once, where they were beyond the VHF range of the local hills.
51 callsigns (5%) were responsible for 50% of the contacts.
The top 5 in descending order were:
(G1OHH, G1KLZ and G1CCL had taken 3-5th place more recently over the last 1000 QSOs).
 If someone regularly listens to VHF/UHF FM AND answers CQ calls, they will probably be in my activator log at least once, so this gives some idea of how many active stations there are on these bands. This is only part of the UK, I don't know much about the south or east of England. There will also be people who avoid any SOTA activity or never use their radio during daylight hours but I can't imagine they would answering many other CQ calls either.