Saturday, January 17, 2015

My New Blog

I have now combined my website and blog on WordPress. All the content of this blog has been exported to the new blog and I will continue to update the content on the new site.

Click to go to the new site:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Baofeng UV5R Cable - it works!

Baofeng Programming Cable for BAOFENG UV-5R/5RA/5R Plus/5RE, UV3R Plus, BF-888S (Newest Version, Support WIN7,64 Bit)

on Amazon - It works!

The Baofeng UV5R is a wonderful little handheld, I have had it now for a couple of years, but have not really got the hang of programming it!
I have bought two different programming cables and neither of them worked, the computer didn't even recognise them. I spent many an hour trying different drivers and trying to get the beast going using CHIRP, but to no avail. I gave up!

When the cable and other items arrived - very quickly and delivered on a Sunday afternoon.
I cautiously connected the cable to the computer with Windows 7 expecting the usual 'Cannot recognise' message...but it didn' simply loaded the existing driver and said that it was ready for use. Next, I connected the Baofeng and started CHIRP to clone the radio...IT WORKED! last I could program the radio with my computer. I then set about programming some channels into the memory. This is fine, but there is a problem with repeaters.
It seems that when you program the channels for repeaters the frequency shift for transmit / receive will not program on the Baofeng. You have to do it manually...what a pain!

Still, I now have a Baofeng UV5R that will program, I put in the repeaters manually after watching a tutorial on YouTube. Now I have a complete set of local repeaters programmed into the UV5R at last.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Box of Valves

Last night I was looking for something on ebay when I came across something quite strange...a box of valves!

When I was working at Telefusion many years ago we had a central store and a valve store. They supplied all the sevice departments with components and valves (and semiconductors) In the early 80's they decided to get rid of some of the valves that were no longer required, so I got 4 or 5 boxes of valves. I put them in my loft and used some for projects, but others never got used. I remember that I sold a couple of boxes of them to someone locally. I also sold a couple more to a guy in Blackburn that ran a junk shop.

When I came across this last night I recognised that box of valves...i'm sure that they were once mine many years ago. Also, the seller is in BOLTON!  They MUST have been my old valves...strange!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

1296Mhz 21 element Tonna

Having given some thought about building an antenna for 23cms I decided to splash out and buy a proper yagi. So I went for the 21 element Tonna and ordered one from Radioworld which came the next day.
Yesterday I set about constructing the kit. In the box is the aluminium booms, mounting bracket, plastic element mounts and bags of colour coded copper elements. The instructions are clear and concise. It was easy to put together, the element mounts just clip onto the boom and the driven element is screwed onto the boom.

The elements themselves are all colour coded so that they are mounted in the correct position. However, you have to push the elements through the holes in the plastic mounts and it is tricky getting the elements central. Would be much better if they were already mounted. It took some time fiddling about trying to centre and line up each element. On 23cms the position of each element is critical.

The driven element has a short length of coax and an 'N' Type plug comes with the kit. Not sure why an 'N'Type Plug, surely it would be better to have an 'N' Type in line socket? In fact I decided to use one that I already had. That makes it much easier to use an 'N' Type plug to connect.

The antenna looks quite nice when it is the acid test...does it work well?
Well, now comes the problem. In North West England we are a long way from any amateur radio beacons. The nearest is GB3CL at Clee Hill in the midlands. I cannot receive it here, so unless there is a station on 23cms I can't really test the antenna until the 23cm Tuesday Activity Contest. The next one is in about 3 weeks time. So I have decided to wait until the next contest to try it out properly.

Stay tuned!

Bolton and District Amateur Radio Society Rec. Club Venue

Following on from the previous post. After the B&DARS met at the Clarence Hotel in 1975 we moved to another venue, Bolton Recreation Club on St. Georges Rd. George G3ZQS secured a room up on the top floor which was ideal for setting up a club station and storing resources and equipment. I remember spending a long time cleaning and painting the room to make it usable for meetings.
An antenna was installed on the roof of the building after taking ages to get permission from the Blind School on the left from the council.

As the Rec Club was a kind of youth club, the members also had access to the facilities such as table tennis, badminton and cafe.

The Rec Club building is still the same, but now is a dance school. The Bolton and District Amateur Radio Society later moved to Horwich Leisure Centre.

The Recreation Club on the right, now a School of Dancing the room that we used was the little window at the top. The antenna was a longwire which started at the far part of the old blind school building.

Friday, September 26, 2014

QSL Cards

In my last post I mentioned being an associate member of the RSGB when I was 15 years old and I had my own receiving station number - A6412.
Well, tonight I sifted through my hundreds of old QSL cards to find my one and only A6412 QSL card!

I spent an hour looking at some of my old cards which I keep in a special box that I have collected since 1969. Some I received for sending a report as an SWL, while others are my pride and joy confirmed contacts on VHF and UHF for DX. Looking back, I am just amazed at some of the QSL cards and the effort that operators put in including personal greetings and messages from all over the world.

I guess nowadays we rely on e-QSLs I have not received a written QSL card for years...such a pity! I loved to collect QSLs and sometimes went knocking on doors of amateurs when I was young to ask for a card for my collection.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Radcom Archives

I first joined the RSGB 45 years ago when I was 15 years old in 1969 as an associate member - A6412
Every month I received a copy of 'Radio Communication' the RSGB's magazine, often waiting for the postman to arrive. I kept every copy up until about 1990 when I lost interest in the hobby and concentrated on my new teaching career. I kept all the magazines in the attic, but in a moment of madness I decided to throw them away, thinking that I would never use them again. I remember taking them all to the recycling centre and putting them one by one into the metal skip.

Years later, when I renewed my interest in amateur radio and re-joined the RSGB, I regretted throwing those magazines away. Many of the projects that I built were in those magazines and now as I think back to those constructing days I feel at a loss.

A couple of weeks ago I bought myself a CD Rom version of the first years of my RadCom magazines from the RSGB bookstore and am now enjoying browsing through five years (1970 -75) of mags. Brings back lots of memories looking at the circuits, articles and advertisements. I remember 'sending off' orders to places like Bambers, Birkitts, Garex and Amateur Radio Bulk Buying Group. Posting the orders and waiting sometimes weeks for the goods to return! How things have changed.

I may buy the next five years of RadCom, only problem is that each CD costs around £27 and I feel a bit niffed that I have to pay all over again for the magazines. The CD's are also as old as some of the magazines in them quoting Windows 95 and Windows 2000 to run. Includes a heavily outdated copy of  Adobe reader. I wonder if the RSGB would consider offering these CD archives at a discount (or free) to amateurs like myself and others who once had a complete set of magazines, but were foolish enough to throw them away!

I sent the above text as a letter to the RSGB and received a reply:


Thanks for getting in touch and expressing your views. I am responsible for the RSGB CDs and so thought I would get back to you to outline our current plans here. Essentially as of the 1st Oct (tomorrow) we are planning to open the 10 year archive of RadCom articles. This is an online resource for members (only) that will allow you to search RadCom articles from the last 10 years in a variety of ways. This builds on the work of recent years where we have been holding a rolling year of complete RadCom magazines on our website. We will continue to offer the CDs as a more convenient way to keep the archives. As you have already surmised these are not being updated and once the existing stock is exhausted there is no plan to continue them although we may do the annual CDs for a while yet. In time we may eventually reach the point of having the entire RadCom archive available online but that is a major task with a large number of difficulties. However it is the plan to offer it all in time – free to members.

Hopefully that clarifies the situation for you and again thanks for taking the time to write to us.

Best Regards
Mark Allgar, M1MPA
Commercial & Membership Manager
Radio Society of Great Britain

A section from 1975 Radio Communication showing the Club News. At the time I was secretary of the Bolton and District Amateur Radio Society (B&DARS)