Posts Tagged ‘Practical Wireless’

Historic adverts?

Thanks to Phil G4HFU (see earlier post) I have been reacquainted with the old PW adverts that got me dreaming over 50 years ago. I wonder if other blog readers can point me in the direction of old UK magazines and adverts? I was first interested in radio and SWLing in the early 1960s.

Back then, the world was a very different place. The Beatles were still in the future.  We lived under the constant fear of all out nuclear war (I was terrified in the 1962 Cuba crisis) and most amateur DX was by CW or AM. Although RTTY was around, most digital modes were not. Magazines like Practical Wireless, Radio Constructor and Short Wave Magazine were filled with goodies I drooled over, but could not afford. Even now I do not like parting with money for amateur gear unless there is a good chance of getting very many years of good service from it.

FUNCube Decode Issues

I had a pleasant surprise last week at the AGM/Prize giving evening of the South Kestevan Amateur Radio Society (SKARS) being awarded the Most Promising Newcomer!

I also had a small write up in Tim Kirby's (G4VXE) VHF/UHF section of the February issue of Practical Wireless about my I-Cube1 reception which I have mentioned on here before.


I haven't progressed very far with my Arduino projects. There has been a set back in the plans to build and use an Ultimate3 QRSS kit. I had incorrectly assumed as it was a kit being sold commercially that it would satisfy my foundation conditions. However I have been advised that Foundation license holders may use radio equipment constructed using commercially available kits which satisfy IR 2028 which is all a bit vague and woolly, but I don't believe this particular kit does.

There is a simple solution, I will just have to take my intermediate assessment and exam at the first opportunity!

I have been doing a little WSPR spotting, getting some nice spots.


Over the Christmas/New Year period I have neglected the FUNCube-1(A073) satellite and was slipping down the telemetry upload rankings, sad I know!

Now I have got back the upstairs 'shack' I set up my original FUNCube Dongle on the laptop running the dashboard application continually to capture/decode the telemetry using the loft mounted discone. I took the opportunity to upgrade to the latest version 8.14 of the dashboard software, however something was amiss when checking the statistics I was only adding the odd frame here and there, sometimes not making a single decode during the high power daylight passes.

I switched back over to the newer FUNCube Dongle PRO+ running my main PC, which I had also updated to the version 8.14 dashboard and saw the same behaviour, rather than getting daylight decodes of 30+ frames I was just getting the odd 1 or 2.

My first thought it was an antenna or interference issue, but checking the SDR waterfall the signal is still very strong with little QRM. Suspecting a software issue introduced by the update I checked the FUNCube forum and found a thread which appeared to confirm my suspicions.

I have a number of discussions on twitter with various people including David Johnson (G4DPZ)  an AMSAT-UK Committee Member and one of the developers of the FUNcube ground segment. David kindly performed an analysis of one of the passes yesterday where I managed just 2 frames, and from the results it does appear to be an issue at this end, rather than issue with the spacecraft.

I have uninstalled v8.14 and put back on an earlier version of the dashboard (v8.09) and thanks to a windows update last night have also performed a full reboot!

There was a good pass this morning at 62 degrees maximum elevation (to the east), followed by a lower pass at 22 degrees elevation (to the west so not so good) and it seems things have improved managing 68 and 17 frames respectively. So could this be an issue with the latest dashboard?

If anyone has suffered similar performance fall-off, or indeed not suffered any issues then please add some feedback to the FUNCube forum.

My copy of Radcom arrived but didn't have much time to read it..


The culprit! ;-)

Mentioned in Practical Wireless! and some Christmas stress

I am not a fan of this time of the year. I know Christmas is supposed to be a time for joy and a time for families to re-connect and come together. Well this year it is true, the only problem is they are all coming here for Christmas day, night and Boxing day!

This has meant I have had to tackle some long put off home renovation projects. The first was to redecorate the bathroom and what should have been a simple paint job has snowballed into a major project and has sapped a lot of free time. Thankfully it is now all but done.

The second was to turn the third bedroom back into an actual bedroom rather than the study/computer room/indoor radio shack it had become. Again this involved more work than planned including dismantling and remodelling of a home-made desk and the removal of piles of collected radio/computer junk and books.

The upshot of all this work and de-cluttering is my outside workshop has turned into a bomb site! Most of the junk has been dumped in it and it is very untidy with tools scattered everywhere. I also had a minor catastrophe when trying to retreive a workmate when my beloved 2Meter YAGI, fell off its perch breaking off the reflector and a director! Thankfully Justin at InnovAntennas was able to sort me out some replacement boom insulators

With all this upheaval, combined with work pressures I have been unable to really do any radio or electronics for most of this month. Do I sound like the Grinch?


Despite this I have been able to capture the odd FUNCube-1(AO73) pass and have nearly reached 1000 telemetry packets.

It came as a pleasant surprise was finding out I was mentioned in the January issue of Practical Wireless magazine. Tim Kirby (G4VXE) reported on my ISS SSTV capture and APRS experiments. Tim  the magazines VHF/UHF editor has his own blog and is someone I converse with on twitter (@G4VXE)

I realised I didn't blog my SSTV capture back in October, but did post it on twitter feed (@nerdsville)
Here is a scan of my mention and the picture.. I can forgive Tim misspelling my name, it happens a lot! It also seems I might get mentioned in the February issue to following my ICube-1 reception report.

From Practical Wireless - January 2014 Issue

From Practical Wireless - January 2014 Issue

I’m a star!

If you are a new visitor who found my site via my letter in the May Practical Wireless (PW) welcome to my blog!

What’s this all about? In the March 2013 issue of PW the editor Rob, G3XFD, happened to mention that he had just taken delivery of a new Elecraft K3 or, as he put it, “joined the K3 Klub”. He also mentioned the difficulty he had in using a morse key due to disability. I sent an email to Rob welcoming him to the K3 owners’ fraternity, and mentioned that he might like to try my simple logging program KComm written specifically for Elecraft radios which allows you to send Morse from the computer keyboard using a built-in capability that Elecraft rigs have.

Rob also wrote of his pending retirement once they had found a new editor to take his place, so I mentioned that it was a position I would have been interested in myself if circumstances had been different. I have been technical editor of a computer magazine, launch editor of a Linux magazine and had made a living successfully as a freelance writer for best part of 20 years so I was probably quite well qualified for the job. It would have been exactly the right move for me at that point in my career, something I would have enjoyed doing, I could even have worked from home, but my health disqualified me from serious consideration of it. I said as much in my email to Rob.

I forgot about the email until a few weeks later when I received an email from Rob asking permission to publish an edited version of it in the next issue of PW. I hadn’t expected that but agreed to it and also sent a picture of me in my shack. I was quite surprised when my letter appeared almost word for word as I had originally written it. I was even more surprised to find it was the star letter for that month! I hope you found it interesting. I’m sure the £20 when I receive it will be put to good use!


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