Thursday, July 26, 2007

Starting out!

This picture was taken back in June 1971, I was 17 at the time and had just taken my Radio Amateur's Exam (RAE). You can see my faithful R109A Receiver and next to it my WS38 set powered by a 90 volt battery! The power for the R109A can be seen under the bench, 2x 6 volt motor bike batteries given to me my Arthur, G3JJM. Arthur managed to secure the R109A from a shop on Fold's Rd in Bolton who sold ex-government communications stuff...cost £1. 50p. I also bought the WS38 set from there as well. The shop moved to St Georges Rd and this became a hive of local 'pirates' who could obtain all sorts of equipment to cause havoc on 160m! I used to enjoy visiting the shop while at college, usually in that awful break time between 4.00 and 5.30 when I had to go back to college for night school. At the time I worked for Telefusion as an apprentice and went to college one day a week.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Digital Dalek!

It's not often you see one of these while out shopping birthday!

This close encounter ocurred in Bury town centre, a real life Dalek trundling it's way through the shoppers. My Granddaughter Melissa was absolutely stunned when it came up to us and spoke! As I took some pictures with my mobile phone it came right up to my face and said

"Is this close enough for you!!!"

in a Dalek voice.

The Dr Who Police Box was there as well...Brill!

This was to promote the Dr Who Exhibition at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. I went last week with 60 kids...they loved it!

Back in 1963 I remember the very first episode of Dr Who, I was at a party at my cousin's house in View St, Bolton and about 8 years old. As I watched it on black and white TV it scared me to death...I even hid behind the couch! When the Daleks arrived later in the series I watched it on TV again shaking like a leaf, but assured that they were not real!

I remember watching the first ever episode of Fireball XL5 in 1962 ...that scared me as well! Steve Zodiac was great, I fell in love with Venus though even if I was only 8 years old! Just found out that her voice was Silvia Anderson... I did'nt know that!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

AR88D Receiver

I still dream to own one of these...the RCA AR88D!

A fantastic receiver, built in 1940 and used during the second world war in America. It is a huge beast and weighs a ton, but the the tuning drive is wonderful! I can feel it now tuning through 80m with the huge flywheel drive on an AR88D owned by someone else.

Maybe I should start collecting these old receivers and store them in the loft. I now have a Yaesu, but it doesn't tune like the oldies!
My Hallicrafters SX24 had a main tune dial similar to the AR88D and a lovely 'Bandspread' dial which had a big flywheel behind it, again...great to tune!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Time Capsule

Tomorrow my school closes forever.

In September we move to a new school site (The Moss) where Jacquie and Paul, my children, went in the 80's and 90's. To celebrate the opening we decided to make a Time Capsule, which was constructed by Dave my brother from stainless steel with an engraved plate on the top.
Today we filled the Time Capsule with newspapers, letters, coins and greetings from the children at both of our old school sites. The contents have been wrapped in aluminium foil like sandwiches and carefully placed in the Time Capsule tube. The tube has now been sealed with the many bolts and tonoght we took it to the site of our new site for burial.
In the Time Capsule were some DVD Videos and CD's which included digital information and contained Powerpoint Presentations and Word Documents.
The question is...will anyone in the future be able to access these resources? Will DVD and CD media retain the digital data for the next 50 years?

The thought of making a Time Capsule has really made me think, particularly with the digital media resources ... a lot of questions!
Do you remember the Sony Beta- Max, Philips and Grundig Video recorders, the 8-track car tapes, cassette tapes, reel-to reel-tapes, floppy discs, vinyl records? Even VHS is now obsolete!
It's only a matter of time before CD's DVD's and memory sticks are replaced and what about the Hard Drive...will it survive? Nobody yet has thought of something that will replace the HD's digital capacity...and guess what? It runs from a's mechanical (and analogue!)
Which is one good reason not to put a hard drive into a Time Capsule...the bearings will seize!!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Today and tommorow is VHF NFD (National Field Day)

This used to be in September, but was moved in the later 70's to July. This was when we spent the weekend on top of a hill shouting "CQ CQ CQ, CQ Contest, CQ Contest!" As I write this I am listening to G3ZTT/P on 2m doing the same thing.

VHF NFD was quite an event. With the Bury Radio Club in the early 70's we would hike up to the top of Rooley Moor near Rochdale and live rough all through the night. I used to man the 4m tent with Neil G3ZPL and boy was it cold up there at 3am in the morning! To warm us up I brought with me my 'Tilly Lamp' which was great for heating the tent. Always got a bit quiet during the night, but the best time to catch those elusive DX stations.
Later, with the Bolton Radio Society we chose sites nearby, Affetsite was the favourite, located about 800ft asl on a car park right opposite the Pack Horse Pub which served lovely beer. Great fun operating most of the night with plenty beer on hand.

VHF NFD was run by the RSGB on bands 50mhz, 70mhz, 144mhz, 432mhz and 1298mhz. One year with the the Bury Club we used a dish antenna for 1298mhz and this worked well as long as you held it still! I remember taking my own home built 23cm converter and yagi up to Matchmoor Lane on Winter Hill one year, but I don't think we worked anyone.

There is still a lot of interest in VHF NFD, i'm listening on 144mhz to MW1LCR/P on top of a hill in Wales and he is doing quite well, but I can't hear most of the stations he is working. My Yaesu FT-817 is only connected to a disconne antenna, my array of yagis have long gone, but it's great listening to the at the moment.