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Sunday 27 August 2017

Amateur radio to the rescue

I discovered a couple of days ago that two Amateur radio operators were involved in saving the life of a youngster with Epilepsy, which to me shows that when all else fails then radio will prevail.

The story is that of a youngster camping on Exmoor with friends and family, one of whom holds the callsign G6ASK, the youngster had an epileptic seizure and thus needed immediate medical attention, with no phone signal on Exmoor this would have been impossible had it not been for G6ASK, who had his mobile setup in the car, putting an emergency call onto the closest repeater GB3WR, the call picked up by an operator in Bristol, M6MGE, who just happened to have the radio on and heard the call from G6ASK, and called 999 (the UK emergency service number) and subsequently relayed information between G6ASK and the 999 operator, thus getting an ambulance to Exmoor and saving the youngster's life, she has since made a full recovery.

This story got the attention of the BBC, including a segment on Radio 2 on The Jeremy Vine show, this was some good publicity of the hobby and has made me rethink my opinion on Jeremy Vine as I didn't really like him that much, I have listened to the segment in question which featured all parties involved.

Knowing what happened in the West Country I want to say that I am proud to be an Amateur radio operator, and also stress that I will equally respond to emergency calls if I hear them, I consider any emergency call priority one and do what I can to assist.

I keep an active mobile setup as you know, some people who I know who have no clue about the hobby may claim that my car looks like a dodgem but in fact that antenna and the radio attached to it could one day be what could save their life or even what could save my own life when the mobile networks simply cannot be relied upon.

I have since decided to keep a radio on at all times, you just never know when you may hear that call for help.

Below is a video filmed from M6MGE's side in Bristol as events unfolded, I cannot fault his professionalism and calm manner during all of this.

Again I cannot stress how this makes me proud to be an Amateur radio operator.

Maybe this could also encourage others to enter the world of Amateur radio, it works where phones do not, we also have RAYNET here in the UK, a part of Amateur radio that is specifically there to handle emergencies if they crop up, I may consider joining it myself if I can find time, so as you can see, Amateur radio is not just about chatting to other people, passing messages between someone in distress and the emergency services is part of it too, it's all about getting the message across clearly and concisely and that is what has happened here.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 19 August 2017

Shack desk shopping

I paid a visit to the nearest IKEA today, only to find the place was horrifyingly huge, in search for a new shack desk, and I found one that came with a whiteboard on a top section, part of a range of desks that also included a corner desk so it could be added to as time progressed, the desk and top section totalled less than £100, and had ample space for radios and the computer, with a hole at the back to drop all the wires down into.

Only trouble was that when I went to the self-service warehouse to look at the size of the desk parts flat-packed it appeared that the top bit may be a bit too big to fit in my car whereas the desk section was to fit just fine after I again checked the size first.

Although the current metal desk that I use was adequate for the old QTH (where a separate shack was never going to happen) I feel that now I have a larger space I should be able to have more room for radio operating

I did not leave IKEA empty handed, I left with a £6 clamp-on light that I plan to use as shack illumination, it is currently clamped to my current shack desk, I may get a couple more of these for the bedroom as they'd make good reading lights as well as a shack light when the dark nights get here.

While I was up there I called into the Metrocentre for lunch and on passing into PC World to look at a Gigabit Ethernet switch, they had one but it was a managed switch rather than an unmanaged one, making me think it best going to the big PC World at Teesside Park, as I want to get the shack computer back onto wired Ethernet as soon as possible.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 13 August 2017

Shack ready to go... or as ready as it can be right now

With the clutter cleared from the shack room at the new QTH, and the carpets vacuumed, the shack is now ready to go, still using the same desk as I used at the old QTH, so it is a bit cramped as to be expected until I can replace the desk with a bigger one.

The radios are still the QYT KT8900D for 2 and 70 (into the small magmount antenna on top of the radiator as this QTH has no windowsills, but I get no movement on the SWR meter at both 10 and 25 watts so it is matched well), the CRT SS9900 for 10 metres (into the orbitor/stinger antenna on top of some old computer chassis with a reasonably good match in the FM portion of 10 metres, have not tried the SSB portion to avoid interference with it being an indoor antenna) and, of course, the President Grant II for CB (though the orbitor refuses to match properly at 11-metres for some reason I haven't worked out yet).

The shelving unit has the chargers for my HTs with the exception of the dedicated PMR446 radios and the handheld CBs (I have the handheld CB chargers plugged into the shack main extension lead), as well as space for my copy of the radio communications handbook, radios I am not using at present (all the other CBs and my Midland BaseCamp446, not my MT-5050 though as that is for reasons unknown in my backpack down in the car at time of writing).

My shack desk has the addition of a pair of PC speakers manufactured by Philips (these are the speakers supplied with the machine used as the shack computer though I have never plugged them into it since it had the motherboard replaced a few years ago until now), these allow me to use Echolink without headphones if I choose, though I can use headphones if I require to do so, for example late at night or early mornings, the homebrew extension speaker, as it can no longer be fastened to the wall as this isn't allowed at the new QTH stands on top of the left speaker (though the cable still reaches the SS9900 no problem and that also has a headphone jack for private listening with the adaptor), the CB mic converter is cable tied to the side of the desk near the computer, and the programming cables for various radios are plugged into a USB hub, the USB to RS232 adaptor is directly connected to the computer though this doesn't usually get used.

Seating is another issue, as my only desk chair is in the living room and it would need moving to the shack if I want to use it in there, I do plan to get another chair for the shack as soon as I can do so.

There are still a couple of odds and ends relating to that room to address, there are some bags of random things, two storage boxes, and my old TV (which I did bring from the old QTH and did not scrap given that it has sort of failed) to still find a home for but that probably will not happen until next weekend when I sort out the cupboard opposite the shack, but apart from that I believe it is ready for some radio.

I hope to get back on air properly from home in the coming week, been mostly performing test transmissions since I moved in and connected things up and they seem to have gone well.

Also I can now get that video for the NooElec NESDR SMArt done, hopefully that too will be this week.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 6 August 2017

APRS map display revisited

As you may be aware, in an earlier post in February of this year, I discussed displaying APRS objects received by a radio on a map, in this case the radio was my Yaesu FTM-400XDE and the tablet was my Huawei MediaPad T1 4G, unfortunately earlier this week I lost the tablet on my now cycle commute to work, leaving me with only my old tablet, a Tesco hudl (the first one not the hudl 2), which isn't really up to running a lot these days hence why I got the MediaPad in the first place, so I'd not really want to use that as a replacement, also as it lacks mobile data connectivity it is not suited and my 3 UMTS stick would not work with it without significant modification to the firmware to include drivers for it.

So I need a new tablet and decided my next tablet will be a Windows tablet, specifically the Linx 1010 as it has 2 dedicated USB ports and can be charged with USB devices plugged in, and as it is a Windows tablet I can use APRSISCE32, this has of course been done with a Windows tablet, a video on this topic, though it seems to have focus on the USA, had been made 2 years ago by Dallas Clements K7DCC.

The tablet used by K7DCC was a Windows 8.1 tablet, the Linx 1010 is a Windows 10 tablet, though as far as I can tell APRSISCE32 runs on Windows 10, though of course I need to reconfigure my laptop installation of this very same program to my new callsign (which requires authorisation to APRS-IS as I have not done this since I got my Intermediate).

Of course my car has limited room in which to add things, the tablet would need to be positioned in a location where it would not impede my operation of the car, it would need to be placed so as not to distract my attention, I can reach it while I am parked up, and I am still able to apply the handbrake and change gear when needed, also it needs to be in reach of the charger as it won't last a long journey when not on charge.

Mobile Internet is not available built into the Linx 1010, as I can buy myself out of my tablet contract between now and December (it will be cheaper as each bill between now and then is paid), I should be able to get hold of a 4G WiFi adaptor from EE, the cost to me should be similar than what I pay now for the tablet that I lost.

The Linx 1010 does not appear to have GPS installed, and it may not get that information direct from the radio in APRSISCE32, so I'd need an external GPS device, I have a Bluetooth GPS device that I bought some years ago for a Windows Mobile device to use with TomTom Navigator, I plan to test the unit with my laptop first to ensure it works as I hope it does (using APRSISCE32 as I have this on my laptop as alluded to above).

Hopefully I can start work on this next month after my car gets through its MOT, though it may not happen until after the Hamfest, but we can see what happens.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 1 August 2017

postponement of my entry into the 2-metre FMAC until September

Due to being unable to plan due to the house move I am once again unable to enter the 2-metre FMAC until September (MOT pending as my car is in for its MOT the Friday before), I hope to enter by then and throughout 2018 if the contests still run I will hope to aim to participate all 12 months.

Apologies if you did hope to work me in the contest tonight, I will do what I can to be on air next month, MOT pending of course.

73 de 2E0EIJ