Monthly Archives: February 2007

Installing Windows XP

Tonight, I put in the latest XP install disk into an old PIII machine from my latest (Jan 2007) Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) to build a thin client (RDP) for my ever-expanding 2003 Terminal Services empire. After a few minutes, I get to the place where XP tells me that in 24 minutes, I will be on my way on a clean install. Several bloody HOURS later(!) I’m still downloading update-after-update and later.. Service Pack 2! Why-oh-why wasn’t SP2 already on the build for the latest MAPS XP install disk? Good Lord – I’m hanging around in the middle of the night just to get a clean install up and running!

Worse though is when you select from the Microsoft Update site to install the latest update.. you hang around and answer a few YES and NEXT buttons and wander off, looking over your shoulder watching that the update is being downloaded. After 40 minutes, you come back expecting the update to have been applied to see yet another bloody dialogue box to have you agree some bloody licence agreement and 40 minutes of your total life has been wasted! I already committed to the frigging MS agreement when I installed XP didn’t I?

Some day I WILL be out of MS. In the meantime, my advice is to shout “Grrr”.

My little helicopter

I am pleased to report that my birthday present helicopter has a mind slightly bigger than a Huey. He thinks he really is a helicopter. We put a camera and a microphone on-board and this is what we discovered!

Maybe there’s a 160m quarter-wave vertical antenna waiting to be flown here?

Map of Europe Game

I have just achieved an avergae of 70 miles and 89% accuracy on my fourth try for the game. If you are a Radio Amateur in Europe, this game should be easy. You may need PowerPoint installed on your computer for this to work. It’s a .PPS file.

Here we go, it’s here:

Postscript; June 2007: For some reason, this particular posting has attracted a huge volume of spam comments that I keep deleting. This is a pretty big overhead. Some days I get over 50 posts, all selling v1agr@ etc.. I’m going to either leave these comments for a bit of fun – or delete this complete post. I’m wondering if I can close this post to comments instead? I’ll figure a way. Thanks for visiting.

Ground Wave Propagation

Is everything I have ever learned on the “ground wave” topic is a complete nonsense? This magical world between line-of-sight and ionosphere bound signal propagation; what is it and does it exist? In my experience, HF signals do mostly one of two things: They either refract/reflect off the ionosphere or they are “line of sight” (or almost line of sight). I realise that there’s meteor scatter, back scatter, tropo and other specialist propagation paths but lets face it, most propagation for the average HF Jo Ham is either line of sight or ionosphere refracted.

Last Monday evening during the 80m CC contest, I had QSOs with several of our local club stations over a circumference of about 10 miles. Most of the local stations were consistently 5 and 9 or better, sampled during the whole 90 minutes. I have since discovered two stations that couldn’t QSO with me at all and they tried many times over the 90 minutes apparently. They could hear me but we couldn’t work each other. So who was ground wave and who was ionosphere propagation? Why is it that over a circumference of 10 miles, I can almost always have a guaranteed QSO with a local station and other times they can not be heard at all?

If ground waves existed, then we could all communicate, all the time. Does this mean that all the other club members I spoke to locally were via the ionosphere? I have therefore made a conclusion that most signals on 80m are ionosphere bound propagation other than the very local 1 mile away station.

What do you think?

G7OJO Silent Key

Reg Brown, G7OJO, passed away on 22nd January 2007. Reg was a member of Wythall Radio Club and in the words of Chris Meadows (Chairman), a “stalwart” of the club. Today was Reg’s funeral and a quite a few of the club turned out at Robin Hood Cremetorium.

He was “Piped” up the driveway by a Scottish piper, all the way into the chapel. The vicar’s sermon included references to Reg’s fishing and radio hobbies and afterwards, Reg’s Brother-in-Law was invited to say a few words. It was a very moving speech and he said goodbye to Reg using the radio ham terminology, “G7OJO, 73 Old Man”.

Afterwards, at the British Legion, Stratford Road, we compared stories about Reg’s exploits. I loved the one about Reg having an accident with a car on a slipway at a harbour. He was launching a small boat and his kids were watching at a safe distance with Pauline his wife (who told me this story) sitting in the car. Pauline said that something went wrong and she ended up at the bottom of the harbour inside the car. Reg dived down and got her out! Amazing.

After Reg switched off one night after having a natter on 2m FM, Chris (G6KMQ) and myself noticed a carrier come up on the frequency and we could hear someone in the background clearly tidying up and generally making human noises(!). Chris and I discussed who it might be and all of a sudden Chris said, “I know”! and disappeared. Shortly afterwards, I heard a phone ringing in the background from the FM set that was emmiting the carrier and then Reg’s voice, “Bl**dy hell”, he shouted to Chris’s advice and took the MOX switch off. He had pressed that instead of the ON/OFF switch! I believe his vocabularly may have been slightly worse than that quoted in this text!

I’m gonna miss you Reg. Rest in peace OM.

C McCormick, Tues 6th Feb.

Andrew 2400 Grid Antennas arrived!

I’ve had loads of fun tonight putting together the Andrew Grid antennas (well one of them) and duly installing it on an old brass curtain rail in the shack, pointing towards the kids PC in the “little lounge” (as we call it). The signal shot through the roof when I got the lobe on the sweet spot, bearing in mind that the lobe is only a few degrees wide, so get it wrong and you don’t see a signal at all! This is good news though and proves that my 2.4Ghz antenna designs were utterly rubbish :)

Andrew Grid Parabolic Antenna 2.4Ghz

I tell you, it’s even bigger than this picture! Like all good antennas, they are bloody huge if you muck about with them inside a shack. Clearly designed for a roof on a rotator (in my view!!), I have decided that it would be a waste to put a wireless router on the roof, instead I am going to see if I can bring some Andrews Heliax down the wall and straight into the shack. Perhaps a kind amateur may help with a 20 meter run of scrap heliax? That way, I can play wireless networking, general purpose radio and anything else that tickles me!

The only thing that worries me is the polarisation. Should I mount this vertical or horizontal? I was going to go horizontal for a point-to-point wireless bridge but now I’m not so sure. I’ll have to mull that one over – I have a feeling that horizontal polarisation works better over long distances, we’ll see.

One problem though, the guy that sold these to me seems to have “lost” one of the antennas. He thinks he shipped 5 grid antennas according to his letter. However, I received 4. Something odd has happened. [Later] He’s emailed me saying that he’ll investigate on Monday because he didn’t pack them himself. [Later again] He only sent the four and now the fifth is missing so he’s sending a cheque for £10 as compensation.