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Saturday 28 March 2020

In the lockdown, no excuse not to be on air

So at the time of this post, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a lockdown though we can still go out for a short bit of exercise and to the shops for essentials as infrequently as possible, so to fill in the time of boredom why not get on the radio, even if all you have is a handheld radio.

I can still go out to work as I am considered a key worker as I deliver food to people, albeit pizzas but that is still food, though I do risk being pulled over as I use my own car to do this, however the positive is that I have radios in the car and can get on 2-meters, 70cm and CB/11-meters, the latter being especially ideal right now.

At home I put up my 2-meter groundplane antenna however there is little to hear on 2-meters and also the wind got up on the day of posting to a point in which I decided to take the antenna down.

I am in a position though in which I can work on building the local igate I want to run though obviously in the situation as it stands an NoV may take longer.

This is also a good time for those radio related projects as well so why not dust off that soldering iron and those half-finished projects and get them finished off, even those portable antenna designs so when we are finally allowed back out again portable ops, even from a car, are there to be had.

And, as always, stay safe guys and play lots of radio and don't forget my YouTube channel, I'm trying to upload a lot more frequently this year and beyond.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday 23 March 2020

COVID-19 update: 23rd March 2020

As the situation with the coronavirus pandemic gets worse and more and more places shut down for the safety of everyone, I have taken the decision to not travel out to Blackpool at all following advice from Public Health England.

This means my cancellation list as of today looks like this

  • NARSA rally (even if it is still going ahead)
  • Trip up Blackpool tower to operate /p with the Yaesu FT2D to see if it works where Baofengs cannot
  • All meetings of the CRDARS until further notice, as we have the GB3IR repeater in our locality it is hoped these would be on-air instead.
The postponement list remains unchanged during this time though this can change quickly

A video to this effect will be released later on today and what I plan to do instead.

Catch me on 2-meters, the Hubnet, CB and Network radios, I have increased use of all during the pandemic.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 22 March 2020

More kindness from Amateur radio operators, Carl 2E0EZT to run Zello net for those who's foundation training is currently on hold

Another fellow YouTuber, Carl 2E0EZT is running a weekly net on Zello for those of you who cannot get on the air and unfortunately have to wait for a foundation licence, as he is also inviting those with a licence in too I may well call in too, as I like to give back to the hobby were I can, I like Carl's content and perhaps having a few full licence holders in there may help the foundation students get their questions answered as during this period they can study until tests resume when the situation improves.

I hope to do exactly what I did with Callum's 80-meter net and put this on YouTube, Carl has said he will be livestreaming it anyway though I would like to put some of it onto my YouTube channel as long as everyone is happy of course.

Thanks Carl

73 de M0WNU

PS, here is a video by Carl telling you what you have to do to join the net.

COVID-19 update: 20th March 2020

I post this now as at present there is now uncertainty on if the NARSA rally at the Norbreck Castle Hotel will take place, I am also continuing to monitor the situation with the goverment's travel advice and will update you further when things are known for certain.

As I work as a delivery driver for a well-known chain of pizza shops it is paramount that I do not put myself at any more risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus, this also extends to limiting travel where possible even for YouTube videos, portable operation can still continue from remote locations.

I planned a series of YouTube videos where I would operate from towns and localities where I spent parts of my life growing up, due to the pandemic I am going to have to put this on hiatus as it will involve a lot of travelling and stays at hotels for some of those videos and would increase the risk to myself, I'll be putting a video and post up with up to date postponements and cancellations in the next couple of days.

The uncertainty regarding the rally in Blackpool comes as the Northern Amateur Radio Societies Association announced on the rally website they will be meeting with staff at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, should this meeting result in postponement or cancellation I will let you know as soon as I can, as this will directly affect future videos for my YouTube channel.

I am going to start portable operations in the coming weeks on the 2-meter band dependent on weather and other factors, I may also operate /p on 11-meters however this is not set in stone, these portable ops I will be doing alone to avoid any chance of spread of the virus or catching it myself and at as remote a location as possible to help ensure this.

Stay safe guys and please remember to follow the advice of your local governments and public health departments, it could be the difference between life or death for not only you but those around you too, remember there are a lot of older people in this hobby that fall into the at risk groups, and some of the younger operators do too, hence why all clubs are cancelled and rallies are dropping like flies.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Wednesday 18 March 2020

The kindness of a ham

In this time of crisis we need someone who will think about those that are elderly and vulnerable in our hobby and I have found that person as none other than Callum M0MCX from DX Commander, he is organising a net at 11am weekdays on 3.780 MHz +/- depending on whether the frequency is already in use or QRM or other factors for the older guys in the hobby who may feel isolated and alone during all this.

Credit to Callum where it's due and I certainly plan to buy him a beer (or tipple of his choice) if I meet him in person

73 de M0WNU

Tuesday 17 March 2020

My postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19 - 17th March 2020

Currently mym plans for Blackpool remain unaffected by COVID-19, the Norbreck Castle Hotel have not been in touch yet regarding my booking and the NARSA rally is still going ahead, also further to this the Blackpool Tower is still open as normal at present, I as well as the organisations responsible for the establishments and the NARSA rally will no doubt continue to assess this ever-changing situation.

I start with the following cancellations correct as of today (17th March 2020):
  • All meetings of the Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur radio society for the foreseeable future, all members should have received an email to this effect from club secretary Chris G4FZN

Current postponements correct as of today (17th March 2020):

  • Ripon & District Amateur Radio society rally due to take place on the 12th April, this is also repeated on their website and also the club announced it too has taken the decision to cancel all club meetings for the foreseeable
During this current crisis please keep yourselves and those around you safe and remember to follow only the official guidance from official sources, and keep doing the things you enjoy with this in mind

Further news of what is postponed affecting my radio plans for this year will be outlined in further posts as I get the information, in the mean time check out my YouTube channel, I do have plenty more to come and will also keep you up to date there too.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Friday 13 March 2020

Hotspots and YSF reflectors

Yesterday on the YouTube channel I posted a video on hotspots for DV modes such as DMR, Yaesu System Fusion, D-STAR and some others, I briefly also touched on the YSF reflectors, and knowing fellow YouTuber and Amateur radio operator Carl 2E0EZT had made one on cloud hosting I thought about making one on a Raspberry Pi, so I did.

The process to create the YSF reflector was very long because on Raspbian Buster it did not work, on Raspbian Stretch it has worked fine, the Pi hardware itself is my remaining working Raspberry Pi 1B made in Wales version, the reflector is listed and is currently online and under test, I have a video for this in the process of being rendered, in the mean time I have the video for the hotspots available on YouTube and it is included below with the photo of the YSF reflector.

The video for the YSF reflector should be online later on today at time of posting.

73 de M0WNU

Wednesday 11 March 2020

The 'werewolf' of Tesco Catterick Garrison... solved

So as you will be aware it has been noted now by a couple of Amateurs in my area, myself included, that there is a strange 'werewolf' interference coming from the local Tesco store here in Catterick Garrison, the cause of this remained a mystery, until now.

A colleague of mine figured it could have been a combination of the automatic doors and the 2-way radio systems used by the staff, however I have narrowed it down to solely the automatic doors on the front of the shop as after 4pm on Sunday night, the interference vanished.

Then to add to my theory of it just being the automatic doors the 'howl' part of the interference coincided with the doors opening on approach of someone, therefore the case is now solved and it stands to reason that the automatic doors at this Tesco store fail to comply with the regulations in place regarding generation of interference, and because they cause interference into spectrum where Amateur radio operators are primary users, that could be a problem for the automatic door manufacturer if other doors of this type are found to do exactly this, especially if that interference is found in bands used for more critical applications.

A video will be released on YouTube later today or tomorrow morning.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 8 March 2020

Possible attendance at the 2020 Ripon rally

I have been trying to find a date for this rally, as I could not find one, for some time now and checking the RSGB rallies list on their website shows that the rally is indeed taking place and I hope to be there, with video camera and hopefully a radio in tow as well.

Though I will not know my work schedule until a week before this event it usually runs with plenty of time to get me to and from Ripon as well as to work as I've fitted it into my work schedule in previous years without booking the day off.

Hopefully I might find a bargain or two there and of course as I plan to film get it onto YouTube this year, along with other rallies I hope to attend this year including the National Hamfest in September as this is a 2-day event so plenty to be filming there.

If you see me at the Ripon rally do say hi.

73 de M0WNU

Saturday 7 March 2020

a small issue with the Boomerang antenna, and a bit of a catch up

So I spent Thursday setting up the Boomerang antenna however I ran into a problem with it, a narrow bandwidth that I was not anticipating so SWR on a lot of channels was higher than desired no matter how much adjustment I made and then I discovered there to be common mode currents on the coaxial cable, leaving me to build a choke which I have not done due to not having the parts, I also, that day, did a range test revisit on the handheld CBs and they performed much better from the HT to the base station, rather than one on the building and one outdoors, the only place they struggled was, as expected, in front of the shops at Princes Gate Shopping Park, though they may not have got over the S3-S5 of noise the Grant II was showing on the S-meter.

I also discovered that I was not the only Amateur in the local area hearing interference outside the local Tesco, dubbed the 'werewolf' as it has a distinct 'howl' in parts, and I've no idea what it is though one of my work colleagues, who knows nothing much if anything about radio, says he might have an idea, that was also made into a YouTube video as I went down straight after the club on the Wednesday night armed with the Yaesu FT2D.

My next video up, by this evening all being well if I can get it onto YouTube before I have to be in work, is part 1 of two on the ugly balun, which ties into the boomerang antenna, part 2 is on making the thing.

Future videos are hopefully going to be:

  • Ugly Balun part 2: making one for 27 MHz, see above
  • Dummy loads
  • Getting started with radio
  • Operating /p from Blackpool Tower with a Yaesu FT2D, a sort of follow-up to Ringway Manchester's "Baofeng's Fatal Flaw, receive overload & desensistisation" to see if an expensive Japanese-made radio from a big name brand can work where the Baofeng radios cannot
  • The NARSA rally 2020 at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool.
  • A look at the µBitX V6 kit and assembly (I plan to buy one as a cheaper way onto HF)
  • Setting a benchmark with the Thunderpole T-3000 and the Sirio Hi-Power 4000
  • Testing out my other CBs on the same mobile antenna against the Thunderpole T-3000 (multiple videos)
  • Bowburn Rally 2020 (if I get there this year)
  • National Hamfest 2020
This list isn't a complete list as there may well be other videos made as well that I have not planned to make as sometimes happens, and I probably will plan further videos for later on in the year too.

I also hope to engage more with my subscribers soon so please do subscribe to my YouTube channel, your subscriptions will help encourage me to make more videos and make the channel better, also there is an on-air test of the Boomerang antenna still to do however I've already explained why I cannot do that one just yet, my YouTube channel is here

Latest videos are also included below

The above are all available on my YouTube channel linked to above, again please subscribe to the channel as I have plenty of content in the pipeline.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730