Radio And Other Days (Jan ’15)…

I thought I’d bring back my regular monthly radio and other ‘report’ more as a tick over whilst things are quiet at Mhor Towers. I’ll see how each month pans out to see if I have enough content but may just randomly post as and when.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday period over Xmas and New Year and some new toys, radio or otherwise to play with. Let’s make 2015 another year to remember.

Without further adieu…

Radio…

My SOTA chasing activity has been very quiet due to the extremes of the weather, the early month plagued with wet, windy days whilst the last two weeks have had snow, icy conditions. A right winter mix for the month. The brave ones have been out.

I managed only two chases through the month, first in the 2015 SOTA log was Robin PKT on a new hill for me, Creag Gharbh just south of Loch Tay, I had checked location of this hill and thought ‘Nah’ but listened and managed a new summit chase. Next and last for the month was Iain WJZ on part of the Great Wall of Rannoch (the boundary between the old Pictish Kingdom of Alba to the east and the Dál Riata kingdom of the Scots in the west), Beinn an Dothaidh, a quiet month indeed as the winter has been in and out weather wise.

HF..

I thought it was time to reformat my computer as it had not been done 3 years ago since I bought the present tower, I had kept regular ‘cloud’ backups of my log files. both ADIF and my home-made ‘paper’ one (I should really print if it off as I go). I bit the bullet and set out forgetting all the drama of getting everything up and running again, Ham Radio Deluxe (v5) was first loaded followed by both softwares for JT65, I use WSJT-X which gives me both JT65 and JT9 but my go to for JT65 is HB9HQX’s version.

Once installed I had loaded all the drivers needed or so I thought…

I was getting receive but no TX but a quick look at the ZLP website and the light went on as I opened the page and I soon remembered it was FTDI drivers I needed so once installed it was off and running.

I thought after a break I should do more PSK work so I got busy and got all the personalised macros set up and it was back to working with only one day off air.

I was soon busy on the two modes..and an occasional look on RTTY.

Contacts spread over the world with over 80 contacts (eQSL cards exchanged). Africa evaded me but I’m guessing the N/S dipole comes into play.

I’m still hunting those 4 states for WAS….

SDR..

It has been a while since I mentioned this, eh?

I have an old laptop which had become bloated and slow so I thought ‘Linux’. I had tried Ubuntu before but this time I thought I’d give Linux Mint a trial. It didn’t take long installing and soon I was in strange surroundings. I was wary as Linux is a different kettle of fish. I ‘googled’ (on the laptop) SDR dongle as I had some initial problems using the methods on Windows but not this time, I used the code from HERE (thanks David) to set up my dongle and in minutes I was running Gqrx and I had the short video below made in less than 5 mins on the programme. The station is UK Classic FM on 101.7 FM and as you hear the quality of the received stereo signal is excellent. I had thought of running some familiar Windows SDR progs in Wine but thought no, linux based only.

I have spent some time since working and checking out the controls and hope to soon put my Nooelec Upconverter in line so I can explore the HF bands. I had earlier bought the enclosure kit for the upconverter but it was for the newer V 1.2 so after an email to the US before I bought, I knew I had to fit an USB-B connection to enable a proper fit.

I’ve had email exchanges with Nooelec on both occasions I have bought items and the correspondence has been quick and most helpful.

I notice they have an enclosure now for the dongles which should help screen out RFI, I have bought copper tape for this purpose but will wait until after I have fitted an SMA output port instead of the present MCX fitting. Another mod is in the process, more later…

It is an ongoing part of the hobby and a regular check on Reddit’s subreddit RTLSDR will keep you in the forefront of what is happening. I’ll update on my progress as I go on, Linux SDR is new territory for me..

Cycling…

Its been pretty non-existent due to the snow and ice, a couple of spills in my motorbike days (slow speed) kinda wearies me to not head out, the rain I do not mind as my last run of 21 mile was entirely in the wet. It was a snap decision and I was wary of icy patches, I did meet one woman who had gone down on black ice near Linwood.  I was heading out Elderslie way but turned back as I met some large icy stretches but was glad I had gone out after 20 days inactivity. I have been out walking some short 5 mile routes near home just to keep the legs working.

Hopefully this weather will clear and get back to the milder conditions but it is high pressure as I write this looks as if there will be no change in the next five days. A slow start to the year but soon the milder weather will return.

If interested in catching the Northern Lights, check out and keep an eye on this forecast HERE, if you have Twitter it would be worthwhile following @BGSSpaceWeather and @BGSauroraAlert. 

Oh and I’m playing with another toy but more on this later..

NooElec case

NooElec case

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