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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Channel 5's 'Nightmare Neighbour Next Door' programme, 27/10/16... follow up 2... bad news

The bad news is that Ofcom, despite receiving 52 complaints about the programme which I suspect now that all of them relate to the offending segment relating to an Amateur radio operator, have decided not to investigate as per information I gathered from broadcast bulletin #317.

Apparently this did not raise issues warranting investigation but yet it was assessed, if this is so then what are the people at Ofcom smoking? 52 complaints is going to set a lot of alarm bells ringing straight away.

This is a massive blow to Amateur radio and the content in the programme was terribly misleading, and as a result could mean that Amateur radio operators across the UK could now suffer simply by erecting an antenna, even with the right planning permission to do so.

Ofcom have a duty to ensure that misleading content is not broadcast by setting strict rules for broadcasters (which it has done) and if it is it is duty bound to investigate if sufficient complaints are received, 1 complaint would not warrant an investigation as one complaint could be someone being offended by something that clearly is not offensive to everyone else, but 52 complaints, that warrants investigation, and as Ofcom also issue Amateur radio licences then I would imagine that they would want to protect that side of things.

Why ignore 52 complaints, would it take twice as many complaints? 10 times as many? 100 times as many? 1000 times as many, or for every single Amateur radio licence holder to complain before Ofcom investigates? Seriously, this cannot be ignored, misrepresentation of the hobby is damaging to it, Amateur radio is often where radio innovations come from, destroy the hobby and any progress in radio communications can be kissed goodbye.

As I am proud to be an Amateur radio operator I am outraged that Ofcom have just sat back and done nothing, if it's all to do with political correctness, racism, sex and nudity and bad language before 9pm, or a broadcaster breaching the conditions of their license they are quick to act, but with this they have ignored it, it occurred on Channel 5 for goodness sake, which is part of their remit

I can safely say I am very angry about this.

73 de M6RSQ

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Possible solution to my antenna problems

Now as you are most probably aware by now, operating from home is difficult for me because of the antenna arrangements, at the moment the 2-meter antenna for home is the old one from my car stuck on top of a biscuit tin (and it doesn't work brilliantly), for 70cm it's the same antenna but I rarely work 70cm and stand no chance with an indoor antenna anyway, and 11-meters (that's CB radio to the not-so technically minded) makes use of an Excalibur loft antenna into an ATU specifically for that band as otherwise I have SWR readings in excess of 10:1 but this could also be the dodgy PL259 on the other end of the coax feeding the antenna but time has not been on my side to get into the loft.

I have a CRT SS9900 as you know, which has seen nil use since removed from my old car last year, it has had it's 2 fuseholders reinstated and powers up fine from an ATX PSU (as I don't have any other PSU for it and the one powering my CB and 2-meter gear is rated at 7A whereas the current draw of the SS9900 is higher than that at full power, this radio is not connected to an antenna and for the sake of legality is in "HF mode" so I can use 10-meters if I choose.

An antenna to operate 10-meters is needed, a CB antenna could be used and cut down here as some of these are cheap, however as I plan to only operate 10-meters from home for the main a different approach is needed where I don't have to mess about in the loft as it's full of dust and nasty fibreglass insulation and put up and remove temporary antennas.

Enter the magnetic loop

The magnetic loop antenna is not obviously an antenna to the untrained eye, it has a smaller "Faraday loop" to couple it and a variable capacitor of sorts to tune it, usually a large one as when transmitting even at QRP the capacitor can and will exhibit high voltages, they are narrow banded and the rating of the tuning capacitor gives the range of what the loop should operate at, my interest is one that can potentially operate between 40-meters and 10-meters as I do plan to upgrade my shack for other HF bands as and when I can, probably with a second-hand HF rig with the power wound down to at most what I am able to use.

Commercially built magnetic loop antennas are very expensive to buy, about the cost of a radio in some cases, the vast majority of operators build these themselves at a fraction of the cost of a commercial one, usually sourcing materials to build the loop itself is generally easy as they can be made of copper tube (preferably painted to disguise it and protect it from copper thieves) which is available from either auto parts suppliers as brake lines or DIY stores as water pipes, refrigeration line would work too, though most suggest diameter of the tube is important, I won't go into this in depth as it's beyond the scope of this blog and there's plenty of information on the internet.

It is the capacitor to build one that is the difficulty to obtain, you could build this yourself or you could find the appropriate capacitor on the Internet, important is that it needs to handle very high voltages without flash over, as running at even a few watts creates very high voltages in the capacitor, also a remote tuning arrangement should be built here to tune the antenna to your operating frequency, again all this is outside the scope of this blog and Google can be helpful here.

One of the pros of these antennas is the amount of interference received on the bands is very very low if not nil, quite useful in the modern age as modern electronic devices generate more and more interference which blights the Amateur HF operator to no end, the other pro is that it is a small antenna compared to other HF antennas which normally result in complaints by people who have no understanding of the hobby.

I plan to put one of these antennas together and put it outside in a very discreet manner, to get it connected I require a jumper through the window, Comet Antennas make these and they are sold by Nevada Radio for a reasonable price, and I have plenty of self-amalgamating tape left, I'm still on the first roll, so waterproofing the plugs is not a problem.

Another reason I want to go onto HF is to operate CW, as I am planning on learning morse code again when I have time to sit and do it, for me to do it on 10-meters I'd need an Anytone AT-5555 or one of it's many variants as the CRT-SS9900 (Anytone AT-6666) does not have CW on it, but that's something for another day

I'll update this in due course.

73 de M6RSQ

Saturday, 5 November 2016

radio mic to computer... follow up 4

So I finally completed the radio mic to computer adaptor today, I have filled the computer side hole with Sugru, fixed the Teensy board inside also using the Sugru and filled a small hole next to the mic socket, popped the lid on, plugged in the TTI CB mic and it worked a treat.

So, my desk mic then had a 4 pin plug fitted to the Uniden CB wiring standard and was plugged in, audio was good, though using this mic overdriven the pre-amp so it needs to remain bypassed unless a different mic is connected, I had to adjust the volume of the pre-amp on the desk mic as well as the tone, this is now done but may need adjusting again later, as it is Uniden wired it will also work with a CB radio to this standard, my TTI TCB-550 would work wonders for this.

I got a reply from another station when I did the test on GB3IR to see what the audio was like to another person, it was reported to be fine, all that remains is to get this thing aired on Echolink and see what it is like.

So a big thanks go out to KK4JDO for such a wonderful idea and I hope to work him on Echolink with it.

73 de M6RSQ

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Channel 5's 'Nightmare Neighbour Next Door' programme, 27/10/16... follow up

I have had a quick look on Ofcom's website to find out how many complaints "Nightmare Neighbour" received, as of today the programme received 39 complaints to Ofcom, however as the programme featured other segments alongside that featuring M0PAM those could have easily attracted complaints, however I have a gut feeling that the majority of those complaints were relating to the part about M0PAM and his battles with his awful neighbours regarding a harmless HF beam antenna.

As Ofcom have to assess all 39 complaints against the broadcasting code it may come to nought, also 39 complaints is a bit worrying, I was expecting a higher count as I know many many Amateur operators are outraged, and the RSGB at time of writing still have not heard from Channel 5.

I'll keep you posted on this as events unfold.

73 de M6RSQ

EDIT: I have subsequently discovered a further 12 complaints were received about the programme, this warrants Ofcom to investigate, alarm bells should ring here.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

radio mic to computer... follow up 3

So the Teensy board arrived today, to begin with it was connected to my laptop, checked to ensure it was the real deal as the eBay listing claimed, it was, the loader programme detected it fine when the button was pressed, the Arduino code was copied from the source, put into the Arduino IDE, compiled, and transferred to the Teensy board. which then changed to be detected as a keyboard, plugging it into the shack computer after wiring the mic TX line to the board showed the Teensy as sending the plus character, fine as Echolink accepts that as a PTT option.

This means the microphone now functions near identical to that it would if plugged into a real radio, push the PTT, the TX goes high, the mic connects to the audio and the transmitter activates, or in this case Echolink, releasing the PTT will send another plus character and put Echolink into receive mode.

This now means that instead of pressing the spacebar which is awkward at best Echolink will work simply by me doing what I would do with a radio, picking up the mic and pressing PTT, audio is good, except with the preamp inline using the TTI mic, not sure about other mics as I don't have any that will fit to test and my desk mic has a 6-pin plug on it and as I have failed to find the plug I need then I may have to go to Maplin and buy a replacement, which I could of done when I bought the parts for my groundplane antenna for 2-metres and various other projects (one of which being the plug for the Realistic scanner, the fuses for it and another SO239 for use as the connector when I build a magnetic loop, and some snips that I forgot last time,

I hope to get on Echolink a little more often with this microphone but would like an audio report from a local station first hence why I am connecting via GB3IR first.

73 de M6RSQ