Thursday, 12 April 2012

April 2012

Finally got to sit down and log into the blog!

Not much of an update but just checking to see if things work, windows live essentials stopped working and had a hell of a job to get things sorted. Windows live writer still won't work so am trying Zoundry Raven to write with.

Well lets see if it works and then maybe i can upload more :-)

April 2012

Finally got to sit down and log into the blog!

Not much oof an update but just checking to see if things work, windows live essentials stopped working and had a hell of a job to get things sorted. Windows live writer still won't work so am trying Zoundry Raven to write with.

Well lets see if it works and then maybe i can upload more :-)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

My Daughter Sarah, bought me a Kindle 4 for Christmas, i find it is really good. I have quite a few of the "classics" on it and some other books i downloaded. Also i have all SPRATS from 1-140 on it. I edited the pdf files using adobe professional v 9 and reduced the file size so they only take up about 350mb. They are all easy to read. Nice having them all there pocket size :-)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

New year, where did last year go ! i need to make sure i update this blog more often, this
will do for now :-)

Friday, 4 March 2011

Modified my BLT tuner to the Emtech ZM-2 circuit.

I modified my homemade BLT tuner to the Emtech ZM-2 tuner circuit, a single coil Z match.


I modified that circuit slightly to give a low or high impedance input, basically it meant changing the 7 turn link into 4 turn link and adding another link winding of 8 turns wound next to the 4 turn one.

I can now get a 1:1 swr from 80-10 meters on my short inverted V doublett, with the BLT tuner i could get a match from 40-10 but not 1:1 on all bands. The ZM-2 circuit seems much better.


Friday, 28 January 2011

Czech Morse Key

I just got this Czech Army Morse Key, over 50 years old but still in original unopened packaging. First thing was to remove the 2 pin plug and fit a 3.5mm mono jack plug.

I kept the two pin, might come in handy for something.

It is really nice to use, i adjusted it to suit me, small gap and low tension on the spring and it a joy to use. One of the nicest straight keys i have used in a long time.



I also got this nice old Cossor scope, it works but just needs a “service” it was made in 1952.


ideal i think to use with the octopus tester. It is very small, only about 5x4 by 12 inches long.

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Not a lot happening, just getting over a bout of flu!

got a neat netbook for Xmas and at the moment using it instead of the bigger pc.

Keyboard a bit fiddly but getting used to it, great to carry about though.


happy 2011 to everyone.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Poor Mans Antenna Analyser


The poor mans antenna analyser was brought to my attention by Dave M0GGK. i had been looking for something like this for a long time.

It was designed by Andre, GM3VLB and his article is really interesting reading. He gives full details of how you can build one yourself. I have one built and am in the process of calibrating the meter.

I decided to buy one ready built from Andre and he still has a few more available but he says when they are gone, they are gone :-) he got the beautiful 50ua meters at a good price but there are no more available from that source.

I ordered one from him and it arrived a few days later, i must say it is beautifully made and is a great asset in my shack. Now i don’t have to rely on guess work anymore when building and setting up a new antenna.

check out Andre’s website

Monday, 25 October 2010

HB-1a 3 band QRP rig


The HB-1a is a small 3 band QRP CW rig made in China. It was produced as a kit but today the HB-1A is offered as a complete product (batteries not included) using professional assembly with Surface Mounted Technology. The cost seems to be in line with most other rigs offering similar features, power output, multi-bands and of course, size. The current pricing including freight direct from the manufacturer represents a bargain when compared to other units offering similar features.

The digital display offers power output, RIT, storage frequencies as well as short-wave radio receiver functions.

This is an ideal transceiver for the CW enthusiast who likes to set up a station at impromptu locations. A picnic bench in a park with the antenna wire thrown in to the closest tree, a remote camp-site, long nature walks are just a few thoughts. The unit does not include an internal antenna tuner.

The current drain is of a low-power design and allows approximately 50-75 mA on receive. The manufacturer rates the unit, using 2200 mA rechargeable cells at 2 watts output power at 15-20 hours with receive and send ratio of 2:1.

I had to replace the 100 ohm trim pot in the driver stage on this one as it was broken. I set the output to 4 watts on 40m and it was also 4 watts on 30m, on 20m it was about 31/2 watts. The pa transistor is heat sinked against the case but it was standing in free air on this one so i fixed that, used a mica washer and plenty of heatsink paste.

Output seems fairly steady and got clean reports, my power meter is not very accurate so i think i’ll make new one!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Paper clip paddle!

I could not resist making one of these, i first saw one somwhere on the internet and thought thats a good idea, but never got round to making one. Then the latest SPRAT arrived and there was one in there so out came the soldering iron and a few paper clips and one was made. I must say that for what it is it works really well, better than i thought it would. I will be using one for portable operating from now on, weighs hardly anything.



Saturday, 12 June 2010

Home made Miracle/ wonder whip antenna

I have read about the Miracle whip and wonder whip antennas and decided to take a closer look at them. I remember reading an article about the Miracle whip in Radcom, it turned out it was June 2006.

I found M1IOS website with his take on the antenna and it was his article i had read.

So i decided to make one and give it a try, i used a ferrite torroid that i had handy but it is not the correct type which should be an FT140-43 or one of the ones bought from the RSGB. With the one i used i don’t get the full coverage of the one M1IOS made but mine does cover 30meters to 2 mtrs.P090610_15.29Schematic2I got the telescopic from Maplin and also the 12 way switches, the torroid is a bit fiddly and takes a while to wind but it is worth it.I set up in Moses Gate Country Park, which is in the Bolton area of Lancashire in the North West of England.I attached the miracle whip to the back of the SWR/Power meter and used a short patch lead to connect to the FT817.First i tried the M/whip on tx on the bands and found it was a goo match on 30 - 2 meters :-)So i then set it back on 30mtrs and tuned around, in the country park it is away from buildings etc so the noise was niceand low, not showing at all on the S meter.I listened around but the few QSO's i could hear were not about to end so i moved up to20 meters, 1:1 SWR no problem, some good strong signals heard and i then had a 2 way qrp qso with Thomas, DL1DRA/QRP/Pwho was running 5 watts from an FT817 :-) 559 both ways. I then got a QRZ from a UA3 station and then i changed bands to 17m.I worked SP6PZG in Poland and he gave me 559,Then i worked DL6FAX and got 569.Next i moved to 15 meters SWR 1:1 but no signals on there so moved to 12m again 1:1 swr but no signals so i then moved to 10m again swr 1:1 but there was strong signals across 10 meters and i worked EA5BS and then SM4DDE who gave me 579 and asked for details of the antenna so i described it as a 1.3meter telescopic whip with a switched loading coil wound on a torroid, he said it was doing really great :-). Next i changed to 6 meters and that also had some signals on it and SWR was about 1.7:1 and i worked EA1FF and he gave me 599 very strong signals both ways. So it was a very pleasant and enjoyable couple of hours and i am more than pleased with the results of using the homemade miracle whip :-)


I took the FT817 with me and the home made miracle whip antenna when i went for a walk before meeting Charlotte from school.

I walked in the open heathland which is set aside by Salford council to walk on and i found a spot where some rocks were and a nice small flat topped one was used to set up the rig and antenna. I tested the antenna on 20-6mtrs and found i could get a low swr on them all. Nothing much on the bands as they were not good but i heard a strong signal on 20m and called him. F6ENI he came straight back to me and we had a chat for about 10 minutes, he was 599 and gave me a 569 but during the several overs he said my signal was peaking S9 at times. not bad for 2 watts and a small whip antenna.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Royal Signals Amateur Radio Society- May test


I have been taking part in the annual anniversary test which runs for the whole of May each year.  The object is to work as many members of the society as you can. This year has been hard again with poor conditions. I don’t think i did so well but have managed to work 31 members, mostly in the UK but one in Spain and one in Australia so i was especially pleased with VK6PG on 20 meters.

Antennas have been my indoor magloops and on one occasion a 132ft doublet i strung out at the club one weds night.

The VK6PG though was worked on my indoor “Baby Zilla” magloop

Baby Zilla 013 (Small) (2)

Seen here on the right. It is mounted N/S in my roofspace and is giving a good account of itself. VK6PG said i was as strong as most of the UK stations he had worked and said that condx were poor so that made the QSO with Alan even more pleasing. The rig used was the FT840 and i was running 50 watts.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Portable with FT817ND

I like portable operating and so when i get the chance i will take to the hills :-)

Here is a short video of the FT817ND set up in a portable location and using the small PAC-12 antenna. This antenna is great for backpacking as it splits down to just 12 inches but is almost 9 feet high when assembled. Mine is for 40 / 20 meters but it can be made to operate 80-10mtrs with the appropriate loading coils.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

New half wave end fed wire tuner for FT817nd

P130410_22.26_[01] (Medium)

Here is a photo of my new half wave end fed wire tuner, i made it for use with my FT817nd, it will fit direct onto the SO239 socket on the rear of the rig. It will tune a half wave end fed wire on 40,30,20,17,15 and 12 meters. It has a built in LED SWR bridge, using a super bright led, which can be seen easily even in direct sunlight, a must for portable operating. The 4K7 resistor you see across the terminals was used to test the tuning range, 4k7 being an approx of a half wave end fed.

Friday, 2 April 2010


I have been setting up Argo for QRSS reception again.I used the FT817ND and inverted V doublet,FT817 set to 10.139.66.

Here is one of the first screen shots taken from Argo.


I set the calibration in argo to 10139650, the FT817ND is set in dig mode and the dial set to 10.139.66

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Tak Tenna

I I I I I H Have been building a Tak Tenna with my good friend Frank MW1RES, it is an 80 meter version
and i believe one of the proto types.
Construction was fairly straight forward and we did get some help from Ian G0PLX when we were winding the coils, see the photo, Ian looks at the completed Tak Tenna and admires our handiwork :-)
Frank set the taps for the feed point as per the instructions but as the antenna was indoors it was not the best place to do this.
Later we put it on a 12 foot pole outside and did it again. The SWR was about just a shade under 2:1 and we could have got it much lower if we had carried on checking.
Frank then fed the Tak Tenna into his home made transmatch and the atu easily brought the swr down to 1:1. Then just for fun we tried other bands, leaving the taps where they were and with the transmatch we could get 1:1 on 40,30,20, 17 and 15 meters, we could also get a low swr on 12 and 10 but it was not as easy to tune.
I think for a small footprint and using an atu the Tak Tenna could prove very useful for some one who is short on space. Thanks for asking me to help Frank, enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

small end fed wire tuner for the FT817nd.

P231209_19.07 (Medium) This is my small atu /end fed wire tuner i built to use with the FT817nd. I wanted something nice and small to take with the FT817nd when out portable and i didn’t want something to big. The design is taken from Steve AA5TB’s web site. He ahs lots of interesting information on using the half wave end fed tuner.

This is a good choice for portable operating as no counterpoise wire or ground is needed with a half wave wire. It’s light and fits in the rucksack easily. If there are plenty of trees where you operate then just get the far end up as high as you can. If like me you find yourself on top of a hill/mountain with no trees handy then i use a 5mtr telescopic fishing pole. This is quite light and just straps to the back of my pack or you could use it as a walking pole !!

here is the link to Steve’s interesting web site.

Monday, 14 December 2009


I now have an FT817ND in the shack, just finding my feet with it at the moment. Lots to remember with the menu driven kittle rig.

First impressions are it is awesome for it’s size, I have just bought some nimh 2300mah batteries to put into the alkaline battery tray that was in it. I did hot get the nicad pack so bought these much better nimh type. As the FT817 battery tray comes with it if you put nicads or nimh types in it they will not charge. I found the mod on the internet that instructs to snip the green wire on the battery tray connector, did this and now the batteries charge up. see the mod at this link.

Lots of other mods can be found at this link

P071209_17.26_[01] FT817ND on top of the old Sommerkamp ts280fm.

Also had a nice QSO on 80mtrs with the FT817 using and old Himound BK-100 bug key, the bug key is bigger than the FT817 :-)

P101209_00.03 (Small)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Baby Zilla is about to take it’s place in it’s new home

Baby Zilla 012 (Small)

Baby Zilla will be taking it’s place in it’s new home over the next week.

It will be up in my roofspace and ready to be cut loose on the HF bands. I have added a new feed loop made from RG213 coax in place of the wire loop you see in the photo above. It just needs some final tweaking and then it’s ready to go.

I can’t wait to try it out using my latest additions to the shack ! a couple of Heathkits, the old but favourite of mine HW-7 and the last model they sold the HW-9. I picked these up a couple of weeks ago, the HW-7 is working OK, it has a modified reciever and RIT, The HW-9 needs some attention but i have had some QSO’s with it on 80 mtrs. 10 mtrs is not working and it does need some other jobs doing before it is fully operational.

P151109_01.03_[02] (Medium) tn_hw7

The box on top of the HW-9 is my home made BLT tuner, it is a great little ATU.


Octopus Tester.

This circuit dates back to at least 1935 and is a simple cheap adapter that converts just about any oscilloscope into a component tester. It causes a component's current vs. voltage characteristics to be displayed on an oscilloscope's screen. The name "Octopus" is attributed to a Marine Corporal who reinvented it in 1968 while working working on Tactical Navigation Systems at NAS Newriver, NC. He called it "The Octopus" "...because the first one was so messy with wires sticking out all over the place,..."

I made mine using an old 6v heater transformer, I was surprised just how  well it works. I can see it being one of the most useful bits of test gear in my shack.

Here are some photos of the traces on the scope.

P091109_22.52 (Small) P081109_23.50 (Small) P091109_00.01 (Small)this one shows a 4.7uf capacitor which gives an oval shape, depending on the size of the cap it could be a circle, the one here shows a 1uf cap .P081109_23.51 (Small)  P091109_00.08 (Small) This line shows a 1k resistor

and this one a 10k resistor.

P091109_00.09 (Small)

A vertical line shows a dead short, there are other shapes for diodes, zenors and it is a great transistor checker. Also makes it easy to ckeck FET’s and Mosfets.