Friday, December 25, 2009


Can't find a trace of this wonderful disco back in the early 70's in Bolton.
Located underneath the 'Palais' (now Icon) at the top of Bridge Street I remember standing across the road with Stephen Hignett deciding whether to go in or not cos we were not sure if this was a dive. In fact it was a great place with UV lights and a lovely small dance floor. A real nice atmosphere! We went there later for a Rock Night, trouble was the bouncers and DJ didn't really appreciate rock and SAG came along! We had to dress smartly to get in and most wore a tie over their usual rock gear. I must admit that I wore my velvet jacket and a tie!
A great night, 'Black Cat Bone' played live and SAG got thrown out for 'dancing'.
Whatever happened to the Nocturne?
Also the 'Va Va' which was located under Elizabeth House, all locked up now and never used again!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!

First time ever that we have a had a white Christmas like this one!

Outside six inches of lying snow, treacherous roads and my poor Blue Tits are freezing to death in their little frozen home. So what have I asked Santa for this year? Well, a good combination of Digital and Analogue. I have really gone back to my childhood days and asked for the Saturn V Airfix model along with an 'electric train' from Hornby. I have also asked for a Mobile Phone because the one I use now is well out of date (even though it works perfectly) got to be cool you know!
Ohhh...and an all singing and dancing digital photo frame!

You must admit that I live with one foot in the analogue world and the other in the digital world and I love it!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Got it wrong again!

What is large, yellow, very shy and hates snow?
A Bolton Council Gritter of course!
Yesterday it snowed all day long, roads awful. Never mind, the Gritters will save the day and tomorrow the main roads will be clear in time for the rush hour. Guess what? Not a Gritter to be seen on this side of town at least. I have been on the road all day and never once did I see one these rare creatures in Bolton.

This is what they said about last year:

"Last year bosses came under fire when the town was hit by heavy snow in early December, causing morning rush hour chaos.
Council chiefs said that because the snow fell in the early hours of the morning, there was insufficient traffic to break up grit which had been spread earlier in the night. "

Well this time it fell during the day so what is the excuse this time?
Went to ASDA at Radcliffe tonight (Bury Council) guess what?
I passed two Gritters happily adding salt and grit to already cleared roads in Bury!
Get into the digital world Bolton and don't tell me the snow was not expected!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

White Christmas

See how the snowflakes are falling.
Falling so gentle and white.
Coming from God in his beauty.
All through the day and the night.

One of my favourite songs when I was 5 years old!

I can't believe the weather at the moment...SNOW AT CHRISTMAS!

All day day today (and yesterday) it snowed heavily and its still snowing. Its been wonderful for the first time ever to see Christmas films on the TV with snow falling outside as well.

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Susie the Sheep

Here is Susie the Sheep, AKA Melissa in the Christmas Nativity!

She can read words now, so tonight she rang up our home phone on Mums mobile searching the contact list for 'home'. I am so amazed how technology does not present any barriers to kids. Melissa is a true Digital Native, I even have to ask her how to start up a DVD and which button to press on the remote control! I somehow feel scared and even embarassed that a five year old is so confident with technology when I struggle to understand it myself.

I guess the answer is that kids don't need to understand it, they just embrace it!!

Well, tomorrow is the last day at school before Christmas and its SNOWING!!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I'm an RSGB Member!

I'm now an official member of the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) again!

I first joined the RSGB in January 1969 as an associate member with my number A6412. I sent out loads of QSL cards with my number on as a Short Wave Listener. I waited patiently each month for the new copy of Radio Communication Magazine to arrive, I even got my photo in it one month.

It later changed it's name to RadCom, a brilliant magazine most of which I still have in a big box in the loft. I became a full corporate member in 1977 (I'm not sure why because I got my Amateur Radio Licence in 1971 ... maybe its because I had to be 21?)

I still have my original membership certificates!

Later in the 80's I gave up my membership because it became expensive and RadCom was going downhill.
Never went back again until now, I really miss the RSGB and RadCom, I have lost touch and need to find out what is happening. I listen every night on my Yaesu FT-817 and am getting more and more curious. The bands have become much more active with the new licensing and I have listened to loads of interesting QSOs.
Got my first copy of RadCom and am very impressed! I even got my brand new RSGB pin badge ... oh...memories!
Just one original certificate was hand drawn on parchment paper, my new one was printed on cheap card printed on a computer. Not personal at all!
Come on RSGB, at least print it on parchment paper and sign it!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa

Please can I have a Hornby Train Set so that I can play with electric trains again, because after watching James May's programmes on television about Hornby Train Sets, Models and stuff I am about to enter my second childhood.

I would also like an Airfix Saturn V model which has been re-issued to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. When it first came out I did not have enough money to buy one as I was still at school. the way... can you please sent me a Digital Photo Frame with blue lights and 2GB memory card, the one that plays MP3 sound, MPEG videos, digital calendar, alarm clock amazing transitions and links to my TV so that we can all watch photos and videos on the TV.

Thank you Santa and don't forget to give the Reindeers a carrot!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Analogue Native Book!

Well, here it is!

My own autobiography that I predicted when I first started my blog.

I didn't think it was possible to actually print out a whole blog, but I found a site that will do this and even make into a book. The book took a while to be delivered from New York, but the quality is SUPERB!

I now have my own professionally printed blog autobiography!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

More from the Judy Wallet!

This time we have my original membership cards from the Bolton and District Amateur Radio Society back in the 70's. I went to the first meeting which was at a pub at Four Lane Ends. Evert meetin I travelled on the number 10 bus then the 82 bus to the meetings. I was still at school at the time. The club moved around a bit over the next few years. The Clarence Hotel on Bradshawgate, then the White Horse (I think!) at the corner of Moor Lane. After that we moved to that awful loft room at Bolton Recreation Club. It was then when I kind of gave up, but the club continued at the Horwich Leisure Centre. I was Secretary of the Club when we were at the Rec Club.

Now the Bolton Wireless Club has replaced the old club and is thriving, I must join this club myself. Chris (G4HYG) and Chris (G4ADM) are now members of the club.

The times they are a changing!

Last night Kath sorted out one of her drawers and found her 'Judy Wallet' this was a plastic wallet given away in the comic/magazine 'Judy' back in the 60's. (I had one of these that I sent for from Weetabix in the early 60's with my name engraved in gold)

Inside the wallet were tickets and Membership Cards from the 70's. Here are the tickets when we went to see DEEP PURPLE and RORY GALLAGHER in the 70's. I remember these gigs like yesterday, especially the Deep Purple concert at Belle-Vue.

(I have loads of memories of Belle-Vue, particularly the Belle-Vue rally)

Deep Purple were amazing, but we had to get home, so we had to leave without watching the encore to catch a bus back to Manchester. When we got to Manchester we caught an all night bus from Piccadily that took hours to get back to Bolton!

Now if you look on the back of the Deep Purple ticket you can see how it was in those days. In fact we were searched when we went into the concert to make sure we were not carrying a camera or tape recorder (sad days!) Try doing that now in the mobile phone era, you can have the concert recorded and digital stills uploaded onto YOU TUBE and FACEBOOK before it has even finished! Fantastic!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Digital Switchover!

The photo shows the old 405 line aerial on the right and the new 1015ft aerial on the left. (The old aerial was later dismantled) Bill Kay had photos of these aerials including the construction of the new aerial.
Well tonight marks the end of era!
The analogue TV transmissions from Winter Hill will begin to switchover to Digital. Tonight BBC2 will be switched over to the digital transmission system. It seems that Manchester is the first area in the country for the national switchover.
For 20 years I worked on analogue televisions, from the old Thorn 1500's Black and White TV's, Decca 2230's, Kortings, Philips G8's and loads of others.
I still know how analogue TV works!
Here are some memorable words and figures that I can still recall from my head...
PAL (Phase Alternating Line), Luminance Delay Line, Chrominance Delay Line, (B-Y) (R-Y), RGB, Subcarrier Oscillator, 4.43361875Mhz, 625 lines, 15.675Khz (line Frequency), 50Hz (Frame Frequency), Static and Dynamic Convergence, Sync Pulse, Colour Burst, Varicap Diode Tuner, Boost Capacitor, Scan Coils, CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), Line Output Transformer, 25Kv (on the final anode), PC86, PC88, AC138, AC139, NTSC (Never Twice the Same Colour), SECAM.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On the Air!

Well, today I got my Amateur Radio Licence back in 1971!

I will never forget dashing home from work to find the brown envelope stood up on the window sill in the kitchen. As I was opening the envelope along came George, G3ZQS (in his slippers)

"What's the callsign then?" said George. "G4AQB!" I exclaimed. "Ahhh...A Queer Bugger!!" says George with his usual sense of humour!

I still have my logbook with all my first contacts.

Tonight I joined in with the 70cm contest on SSB and managed to work quite a few stations. The QRA locator baffled me a bit, it must have changed during my time off the air. I found a website that pinpoints locators and shows on a map...brilliant! If only we had that type of technology back in 1971!

I am tempted to put beams back up for the VHF and UHF bands, there are now contests every Tuesday nights on different bands. The next one is 23cm. (I still have the transverter!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Micro Men

Just watched the whole of this programme on BBC4, loved it! Brought back so many memories from the 80's with the Sinclair and Acorn, learned a lot of things that I didn't know as well.

Imagine what would have happened if Chris and Clive had worked together with the personal computer? The BBC Computer was used in all schools and this is where I started off myself, but then things went off at a tangent. The Acorn Archimedes was a super machine and had a super ARM processsor that was really ahead of its time, but the PC ruled! I remember making a bold decision for our school when I went for the PC route and bought new PC machines for each classroom. At the time other schools thought I was mad, but how right I was!!

The Acorn didn't have the backing that it deserved. Gosh! How stunned I was with the graphics of My World with Dress Teddy and the Weather Map!

They were great times, I can still picture myself sat in my loft room with the Sinclair Spectrum, home made interface and 300baud modem talking on bulletin boards before the word 'Internet' had even been invented!
A nice bit of the programme was the thing in the paper that showed how many were returned faulty. When I worked at TAM my job was repairing computers returned to the shops. The Sinclair Spectrum was the worst, mainly because the memory chips failed. It was easy to diagnose...the chips got HOT! Boy, Have I changed a few of those!!
I went through gallons of 'Freezer' spray diagnosing faults on these beasties!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Monty Python

Another 40th Anniversary!


I watched the first series of this back in 1969 (along with Rowan and Martin's Laugh in!) At first I thought some of it really funny, but was a bit nieve at the time to understand some sketches. It was on TV on Saturday Night just after Rowan and Martin, totally different humour than the american stuff. I still laugh at some of the sketches, like the 'Parrot Sketch'. It was on quite late at night, I watched it because I was baby sitting my brothers and sisters at the time when Mum and Dad went out.

Later in the 70's I got more into Monty Python, I went to see 'The Holy Grail' with Kath when we were going out together. It's still a funny film

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Found these photos by accident on Facebook!

The Navada was an intitution, roller skating and great bands. When I was at school lots of kids from my form went to the 'Nav' on Tuesday nights. I never really fancied it at the time. When I left school the Navada along with BIT was the place to be. I remember my first visit to the Nav with Neil (G3ZPL) and two girls. I could skate (quite well really) and Lynn was brilliant, but Neil had never had skates on before so I spent some time showing him how to skate. I remember watching Lynn skating around the arena with the music playing and she was fantastic!

Would you believe that the bar was upstairs!

You had to climb up the stairs with your skates on and carry the drinks down again, it was pretty scary.

One of the best nights at the Navada was watching 'MUD' not skating this time, because they often had good groups playing at the Nav. They were excellent!

Such a pity the place burned down...we were all devastated when it happened, it was an icon of the 60's and 70's.

50Mhz Contest

Had a great time last week with the 50Mhz contest. My Yaesu FT-817 puts out about 5 watts and fed into my vertical antenna I wondered what I would manage top work on 6m.
Loads of stations on that night, so managed to work:


Not bad considering I have not been on the air for ages! I have started to pull out my old stuff in the loft and have set up my FT101E and VHF / UHF Receiver. Maybe I am getting the bug back. I must admit that I find it hard to get back into the old days of Amateur Radio. I would dearly like to go back to the old days (before the days of mobile phones!!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chadwick St

I went past Chadwick Street today to find that the Campus there is being demolished!

Back in 1989 I did my PGCE at Chadwick Street which was part of Bolton Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) then. My PGCE was actually from Manchester University, but Chadwick Street was the Teacher Education Centre.

I had just completed my Open University Degree and decided to give up my job as an electronics technician to become a teacher! My year at the college was memorable, a great atmosphere and I made loads of friends there. I had never been to University and this was the next best thing to me.

Had a whole year as a student living on my grant...loved it!!

Spent my placements at Salford College in Worsley and Bolton College. Gosh...can't believe I taught IT to twenty four girl hairdressers at Salford College and Science to sixteen A level nurses!!

Must admit that working in a college is nothing like working in a school!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Turing apology

"Gordon Brown has said he is sorry for the "appalling" way World War II code-breaker Alan Turing was treated."
"A petition on the No 10 website had called for a posthumous government apology to the computer pioneer. "
Alan was a genious, he is the master of computer technology today. Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers built the first ever number crunching computers based at Bletchley and Manchester University. The trouble was that nobody knew about the computers, later, "Collossus" the first programmable computer, was a secret and after the war, instructions were given to dismantle the machines and hide them away! Fifty years later when the secrets were revealed the machines were 'found' and rebuilt. This was all too late for Alan...a sad story!

What was it that Winston Churchill said...something about owing so much to so few...well Alan Turing, you rank high in the league table!

I signed the petition and now he has got the apology deserved!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Iron Maiden

I was astounded when I stumbled on this picture!

Back in the early 70's I went to a gig at a Methodist Church on Chorley Old Road with Neil and my girlfriend at the time Carol. Now I have seen a few pop groups live before now at the Palais and places, but never a group like this!!

Iron Maiden were LOUD and I remember two brass horns on either side of the stage! My first real experience of Rock, it was brill!!

Then there was this other guy called SAG who danced in the middle of the floor covered in foil and flashing lights. What I didn't know at the time is that my wife Kath (and a few others) dressed him up in foil and they all danced. Now SAG is quite a guy, wore a huge chain with his name on it or sometimes with flashing lights and did his famous 'back dance'.

I will never forget the amazing Moss Bank Park festival with other other local groups like 'Black Cat Bone' and a girl called Jacky from Radcliffe who came with Kath and myself and another girl who got lost!!

A great site!!

Monday, August 17, 2009


Another 40 years anniversary! Woodstock...August 15th - 18th 1969, quite a year was '69!

Brian Adams wrote a great song 'Summer of '69' says it all!

I must admit that the Woodstock Festival at the time was a bit strange to me, I didn't know much about the artists and it took another few years before I fully appreciated rock and blues stuff. Even then I thought Janis Joplin was 'noisy', now I can see the light! Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and a few others could have had a huge influence on music today had they not died early. I can see where Led Zeppelin's stuff came from, particularly where Robert Plant's voice came from....Janis Joplin!
A truely analogue festival - Valve Amps!!

Summer of '69

Matthews Southern Comfort

Janis Joplin

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Open University 40th Anniversary

Stirling University - My first Summer School!
In 1980 I made probably one of the boldest decisions of my life. I started studying with the Open University with a view to getting a Degree! I had looked at other options for getting better qualifications, but when I read about the OU and the prospect of a Degree at the end I thought it was the best option. At this time I was a qualified electronic technician, but still had no GCEs. You didn't need them to study with the OU! Fantastic!
The first year I did the Maths Foundation Course M101, this was a make of break course, if I could pass I would carry on, but if not I would just give up! I had a lot of applied maths experience from my courses in electronics, but the pure maths stuff worried me! I was lucky, I met a guy from the corner before I started. He was sat at the bar in the social club around the corner with another guy discussing some questions. I overheard and asked him if it was OU stuff. It was and they were doing M101! He lent me the units and and some preparatory stuff and this gave me enough confident to make a start.
Discipline was the thing, I had to adapt to working two hours a night in my study room, away from the TV and Radio stuff!
I did it...I completed the course, passed and then never looked back!
Followed it with the Science Foundation Course S101 and then second and third level courses. OK, sometimes I struggled, but I passed every course!
It took me eight years to complete and finally become a Graduate!
Congratulations OU! It changed my life!

"23 April 1969 saw the birth of The Open University but its intellectual roots go back much further. In 1926 the educationalist and historian J C Stobart wrote a memo on a ‘wireless university’, while working for the BBC. By the early sixties many different proposals were being debated such as a 'teleuniversity', which would combine broadcast lectures with correspondence texts and visits to conventional universities - a genuinely 'multi-media' concept. "

Gosh...packages through the post every week, books, resources. Six in the morning watching the course TV program, cassette tapes to listen to!
That was in the analogue days of learning, I wonder what it would be like to do the courses again in the digital age?
High quality TV productions on TV, Sky + Box, DVDs and CD Roms, memory sticks and Laptops. Interactive Whiteboards and Visualizers. E mail your TMAs and CMAs on line! Blogs, Twitter, Forums and the Internet! WoW!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Radio Caroline

Radio Caroline live on Sky 0199!

Way to go...playing some great stuff on this digital, internet and satelite station. At the end of August they go live from the old Radio Caroline ship 'Ross Revenge' that has been renovated and moored at Tilbury.

Gosh...what memories of Radio Caroline on 199 back in 1966 and 1967. We had a GEC transistor radio and could pick it up during the day if my dad sat the radio next to the electric socket which acted as as an aerial. Radio 1 had not been thought of yet and Radio Caroline along with Radio Luxembourg at night was the only station that played POP MUSIC. I used to have a tape recording of the last programme when the pirate stations became illegal on 1st September 1967.

Well, I have just ordered a Radio Caroline T-Shirt that I will wear with pride when it comes. The website is super and you can listen live on-line!

The Black Stuff!

After 32 years the council have FINALLY decided to re-surface our road and estate!
Even Melissa can't beleive her eyes!
What was it John Lennon said...."Four Thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire" well I can beat that...we have five thousand just on our estate!
My poor cars have suffered for many years, I lost count of the council men that come every year and stamp a bit of tarmac into the bigger holes, then dissappear for another year.
At last common sense has prevailed...welcome to the digital world!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today's my Birthday!

Gosh...hasn't time moved on!

I'm 55 years old today, living in the digital age and having a new mobile phone for my birthday from Kath. I must admit that I can't remember many birthdays apart from my 18th (at Camber Sands) and my 21st...

Here I am at my 21st Birthday Party cutting the cake and wearing my really expensive denim waistcoat and cheesecloth shirt that Kath bought me from Manchester. I'm also wearing my St. Christopher chain that my mum got me and a new belt and jeans.

Today we went to the 'Sparking Clog' pub for tea and I really enjoyed it, the sun shone!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apollo 11 Launch 40 years ago!

So where was I 40 years today?
Well at 2.00 in the afternoon on July 16th 1969 I was sat on the grass banking outside the gym building listening to the Apollo 11 launch! It was a hot sunny day and I was 14 years old. It was the last week of school before the long Summer holidays and my birthday was next week. I can remember it vividly, listening to the launch on a transistor radio and a whole load of us getting excited as we listened. Peter Holt had brought in the pack he got from W.H. Smiths which outlined the times and events of the mission (mode one charlie!)

This was the begining of something really special that I have never forgotton...the Moon Landing!!
Here is the complete launch...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lunar Lander Computer

As we approach the 40th anniverary of the Apollo 11 mission, BBC 2 and BBC 4 are putting on loads of programmes to celebrate this event. The best has been 'Sky at Night - A Night to Remember' - superb! I have bought lots of books, a DVD and even a copy of the 'Daily Mirror' on July 20th 1969.

Back in the 1980's I swopped my Belcom Liner 2 for a Sharp 4 bit handheld computer with an LCD display... my first ever computer! This little beast was probably equivalent to the computer used in Lunar Landing Module (LEM) The computer used BASIC programming and ran simple and complex routines in BASIC.

I actually wrote a BASIC programme for landing a Lunar Module on the Moon. I took the calculation routine from a magazine, but wrote all rest and it worked! You had to enter the thrust, check your height and fuel and land on the Moon.
A couple of years later I adapted the programme and wrote some graphics to play the game in real time on a Sinclair Spectrum computer. The Lunar Module separated from the orbiting command module and you had to land visually with the graphics on screen.

Gosh ... I couldn't write a programme like this again any more!

I know that I had a print out of the software on silver heat sensitive paper in a roll ... I wonder where it is?

Sharp PC-1210 Pocket Computer

Display - 24-digit alphanumeric dot matrix Liquid Crystal Display, with yellow filter.In calculator mode it can display in scientific format 10 digits mantissa and 2 digits exponent.
Functions - Calculator and 400 step BASIC language programmable computer.Up to 50 Flexible memories (shared with program memory).Battery back-up of CMOS memory.A cassette recorder can be connected using an adapter cradle, allowing programs to be saved to audio cassettes. Also a printer & and cassette adapter was available, see photograph below, thus providing the full needs of a pocket computer.
Power supply - 3x Silver oxide button cells. The power consumption is 0.009 watts.
Semiconductors - CMOS LSI, including:
Two CPUs (Central Processing Units):
CPU 1 - SC43157.
CPU 2 - SC43158.
One TC5514P, 4 K-bit RAM.
Size 175 x 70 x 17 mm (6.9" x 2.75" x 0.7").
Introduced - 1980.
Made in Japan.

The Apollo guidance computer (AGC) with the Display / Keyboard (DSky)

Now compare this with the specs of the Lunar Landing Module Computer ... interesting reading!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bolton FM

At last!
We now have a community radio station ... and cool it is too!
I'm really impressed with Bolton FM, no adverts, great music and has an audience aimed at the Bolton Community. The Internet Radio Stream is spot-on and the website well designed. Great to that see Frank White played a leading role in the project!
Well done to everyone concerned with the station, planning and launch. I went to Bolton last Saturday to watch the launch and it was a great afternoon. The drums group were superb and who was that great 15 year old singer? Fantastic!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

As I speak we have just heard that Michael Jackson has died!
First lots of conflicting reports, but now confirmed. This is one of those days that shocked the world. (like 'Where were you whe Michael Jackson died?' ... HERE I AM!!)

I have to say that the conspiracy theorists are about to erupt on this one! Lets face it, he was about to start a 50 date tour starting in London next week and has upstaged Farrah Fawcett as she has also died today. OK..maybe i'm a cynic...but a bit of a coincidence don't you think?

Rest in Peace Michael

Friday, June 12, 2009

Devil's Lantern!

Here is another photo of my old English Teachers - Mr Hanley (left) and Mr Worthington (Right) on the road to stratford - on - Avon.

Mr Hanley was a bit of an extrovert, really into Shakespeare and stuff and our lessons were a bit unusual! This guy caught Me, Dorothy Collier and Christine Hilton playing a game of 'Stretch' with a compass! We were summoned to the staff room (from the window) and told to write an essay with the title 'Those who live by the sword, die by the sword!'

Now Mr Worthington was different, had strong opinions about technology and called Television the 'Goggle Box' or 'Devil's Lantern'. I remember a lesson where we discussed the use of computers in society (at that time back in 69 computers were BIG) he predicted that one day computers would fit in a matchbox and everyone would be using them.

How right he was!!

I also remember writing a story that really impressed him and he read it out to everyone in class. That year I scored 58% in my English GCE Mock Test (a pass!) Then, guess what...I was moved into the CSE class with Mr Hanley only to fail and then take and pass my GCE twenty years later!

Now I teach Literacy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Harold Riley

Tonight I met Harold Riley, a famous artist from Salford who worked with L.S. Lowry.

He came to my school to open our Art Exhibition for children. A great evening!

'Born, bred and still working in Salford is the renowned artist and local legend Harold Riley. A successful painter since the age of 17, his work has focussed on the portrayal of ordinary working lives. But as a portraitist, he's painted those living extraordinary lives - Nelson Mandela, Tiger Woods, George Best - even Pope John Paul II! He's still painting today at age 74.'

Tonight he chose a picture that he really liked to take with him called 'The Road to Jo'Burg' designed by one of the children in my class!

Harold Riley and my Grandaughter Melissa.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Haynes Manual

Haynes have brought out a manual to celebrate the Apollo 11 Moon Landing!

"On 20 July 1969, US astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. This is the story of the Apollo 11 mission and the 'space hardware' that made it all possible. This manual looks at the evolution and design of the mighty Saturn V rocket, the Command and Service Modules, and the Lunar Module. It describes the space suits worn by the crew and their special life support systems. We learn about how the Apollo 11 mission was flown - from launch procedures to 'flying' the Saturn V and the 'LEM', and from moon walking to the earth re-entry procedure."

Now I know that I have used these manuals to repair and service most of my cars and they are superb! How much time have I spent under a car with my trusty Haynes Manual at my side. I wonder if they took one of these on the Apollo Missions?

What can I say...I just ordered one!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Elegant 7

The Elegant 7 is an example of a "kit" radio from 1967
It had a "room filling" 350mw output!
Powered by the 9v PP9 it was also available for use as a car radio and had an optional power supply .
It was a 7 transistor superhet design.

Christmas 1967 and I wanted a transistor radio kit to build for my Christmas present. I wanted the 'Elegant 7' a lovely looking radio and had seen it advertised as a kit in Practical Wireless.

It used a printed circuit board and was quite complex to build and also very expensive, so I decided against it. My Uncle Bill had built one of these and worked perfectly! Instead, my Dad ordered me the 'Roamer 7' transistor radio which was a bit easier to build and used tagstrips instead of a printed circuit.

The 'Elegant 7' was a wonderful radio kit back in 60's!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Keep It Simple Steve!

Quoted regularly in 'RadCom' by Pat Hawker back in the 70's and 80's KISS (Keep IT Simple Stupid....or Keep It Simple Steve!)
Came across this which gives a really simple way of extending the range of a Wi-Fi link. Wireless Network antennas are usually omni-directional and have a small 'rubber ducky' type helical aerial. Making it directional, hence increasing the gain can be useful. I know at school we have RF deadspots in rooms and i'm sure this would be useful.
The 'Windsurfer' is simply a piece of card covered in foil which acts as a reflector for the 'rubber duck'.

Here is the template and radiation pattern:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beam me up Scotty!

This looks fact it looks like my Samsung Mobile Phone with internet access and built in camera!
Next to the Classic Phaser, the Star Trek Communicator is one of Science Fiction’s most popular props. This is also one of Star Trek’s most accurate predictions, the hand held communication device. Back in the mid-sixties, the idea of such a technological marvel was only a dream, but nowadays we think nothing of a mobile phone with caller ID, custom ringing, light up activation, camera and even broadband internet access.

No wonder Captain Kirk was always attached to it!

Amazing how a simple analogue prop with LED's can turn into a digital masterpiece that we can't live without!

Last night I was playing with an iphone in the Apple shop at Trafford Centre, the ultimate communicator. I feel like i'm missing out on the latest technology. I see people using this technology as part of their life, even kids, but I am trying to understand the technology instead of accepting it. Trouble is ... I can't accept what I don't understand!

What was it Bob Dylan said...

Don't criticise what you don't understand!

Well, I don't criticise, its great technology!