Shingleback or Stumpy-tailed Lizard 

Always keep your eyes open in the countryside. You might get a bonus like this.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

Walking at lunch today I passed this perfect specimen of the Shingleback. Length is about 350mm or 14 inches in the old scale. The shingleback lizard is native to Australia. The name ‘Stumpy’ is from the short tail.

Canberra is well-known as the bush capital.

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Excellent VK0EK Heard Island Video by Vadym, UT6UD

Noble but chilly expedition in the names of amateur radio and perhaps international understanding also

Please enjoy this excellent video made by Vadym, UT6UD who was one of the “dynamic duo” on Top Band (along with Dave, K3EL), and a major reason why VK0EK broke Top Band records from Heard Island:

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Prime Meridian – Greenwich Mean Time

Welcome, friend, to the home of GMT.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

In most cases, amateur radio operators record the time of a conversation (QSO) as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or also known as Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). Why? No matter where in the world the amateur radion station is located, GMT or UTC is the time refrence by which all amateur radio QSOs are logged, doing so eliminates potential errors or misunderstandings of individual station time zones. The same can be said for all emergency services radio communications and radio conversations between air traffic controllers and pilots of aircraft. The time reference for all essential service radio communications is Greenwich Meant Time (GMT). The prime meridian serves as the world’s standard time zone

Today my wife and I visited the Royal Greenwich Observatory the location of the Prime Meridian at Zero degrees Longtitude (0). Yep we are in London! The prime meridian divides the earth’s Eastern and Western Hemispheres. 15 degrees…

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SOTA – VHF/UHF Kit Upgrade

2 Metres and 70 cms in VK. Aman after my own heart.

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

SOTA – Coax cable signal loss at 432 MHz

Using good quality RG58AU MilSpec coax at 144 MHz is a compromise of weight saving versus RF losses and the ability to coil a 5 metre length of coax to fit in the SOTA back pack. Yes I hear you, considering the losses in RG58AU it’s not ideal for weak signal reception!

Using RG58AU at 432 MHz was a temporary measure but in doing so my UHF set up will have losses in the coax feedline in the order of 33% or more.  Assuming a perfect VSWR and no losses in RF connectors, the cable loss will be 1.72 dB.  The reality of my UHF set up is more like 3 dB loss where half of the FT-857D power output is lost in the coax cable before any amount of RF signal is successfully radiated by the antenna.  It’s not all…

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Wood and Douglas and the 70 cm amplifier

Wood and Douglas ampA while back I bought a rig on eBay, but the seller had included this with a job lot of miscellaneous items.

In the box were three linear amplifiers. One was for 27 MHz which is of no interest to me and I will sell on. Another is one for 144 MHz. That is going to need a workaround as it was made for a specific transceiver way back, and I need to find a way to switch it as it has no RF sensing and I have no manual yet.

The third item was a Wood and Douglas amplifier for 432 MHz. It must date from the late seventies or early eighties. It is a solid piece of equipment. The seller said on eBay it was a maximum of 10 watts in for 30 watts out, but I have been reluctant to put it on dummy load to test it. I had no manual and there was nothing on the internet to help. It is a rare beastie.

Wood and Douglas was started by two radio amateurs in the late seventies to build and sell amplifiers, preamps and other amateur radio gear, but since has become a grown-up player. It has moved far beyond its original business.

On the off chance I sent an email via the website to ask if they had a manual or some instructions for this ancient amplifier. They emailed me back the next day with the instructions / spec which would have been sent out over thirty years ago when the amp was new.

This is absolutely brilliant customer service provided to someone who was not even a customer, but just someone asking a favour.

It is great credit to the company that they helped me out, so three cheers for Wood and Douglas. Thank you very much.

One more thing. The amp is a maximum 3 watts in for 30 out according to the manual, so it is just as well I did not try to overload it having relied on the seller. I am sure he had forgotten after not using it for many years. With any luck I have a usable amp for 70 cms.

MEETING LINKS EXPEDITION WITH OPERATIONS NEARLY 50 YEARS AGO

Historically interesting amateur radio from 1969.

Hugh Milburn, who was active on Heard Island in 1969 as VKØHM, paid a visit to Expedition Leader Bob Schmieder. Hugh is one of a handfull of people who have had the extraordinary experience of visiting and working on Heard Island. He was there nearly 50 years ago. Bob’s previous visit was a mere 20 years ago.
The ANARE site is reclaimed by the elements. (Upper row) 1947, 1969. (Lower row) 1997, 2012.
Feb. 24, 2016. The Expedition has a remarkable visitor today: Hugh Milburn, known to some older amateur radio operators as VKØHM. He operated mostly 20m during his working stay on Heard Island during 1969-70.

Hugh recounted the circumstances of his work at the ANARE station, at Atlas Cove:

My stay there was not for DX of course, but driven by the Cold War when there was a strong interest in knowing the size and shape of the…

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SUWS WebSDR supports Meteor Scatter enthusiasts

When I get a new antenna up for 144MHz, maybe I can return to MS operation

AMSAT-UK

Meteor pings received on SUWS WebSDR Meteor pings received on SUWS WebSDR

The SUWS WebSDR, a popular resource for the Amateur Satellite and 434 MHz High Altitude Balloon communities, has recently been upgraded to support VLF and 49.990 MHz for Meteor Scatter observations.

The SUWS team hope that these new bands will further enhance the capabilities of the WEB SDR, which already covers a large proportion of the 2m, 70cm and 3cm Amateur bands.

The bands were added in order to try and replicate some of the work already undertaken by Dr David Morgan 2W0CXV and to make the SDR available as an on-line resource for others who are interested in observing such phenomena.

http://amsat-uk.org/2015/06/09/the-generation-of-vlf-emissions-by-meteors/

Antenna's at SUWS WebSDR site in Farnham Antenna’s at SUWS WebSDR site in Farnham

Performance on the VLF bands is now quite good, but it still suffers slightly from some electrical noise from other equipment in the site and Sferic noise (Lightning discharges) from about 4 kHz upwards.

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TEAM MEMBER PUBLISHES FIELD SCIENCE BLOG

Follow Bill’s science blog

Aug. 10, 2015. One goal of the 2016 Heard Island Expedition is to make contact with thousands of radio amateurs worldwide and give them a contact with VKØEK. But team member Bill Mitchell also understands that the other goal is to carry out a significant scientific program that includes exploration, documentation of environmental conditions, and the search for new specioes to extend the known biodiversity and its connection with climate change. Armed with his PhD in chemistry and an unlimited curiosity about the scientific world, Bill has begun to publish a fascinating blog called The Inquisitive Rockhopper. Bill explains it as follows:

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“First” UK radio ham to contact space station astronauts

More meat to this version of the story

AMSAT-UK

Mir Space Station Mir Space Station

A newspaper story says a Swindon radio amateur was believed to be the first in the UK to contact an astronaut on a space station, the Russian Mir, which hosted UK and USA astronauts.

The story published in the Swindon Advertiser on August 7 says: “…it took place almost 20 years before another amateur hit the headlines this week for doing the same thing.

Radio ham Donald Shirreff [G3BGM], who died in 2010, was believed to be the first amateur radio enthusiast to successfully make contact with astronauts aboard an international space station more than 19 years ago.

In 1996, former MI5 agent Donald, then 77, took an unusual approach to his retirement and set his sights on contacting cosmonauts aboard Russian space station Mir.”

Read the Swindon Advertiser story at http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/13582484.Radio_ham_was_first_in_Britain_to_contact_space_station_astronauts/

However, it appears there were many other UK contacts with Mir prior to Donald…

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What Happened When I Added a Counterpoise to My HT

Any comments for Brian? Interesting thought.

KC4LMD

The problem of an electrically short antenna is familiar to anyone operating in medium-wave bands. One solution is the counterpoise ground system, which is a series of radial wires that act as a low-resistance ground connection.

Broadcast Engineers use counterpoise systems to improve AM radio station coverage. Coastal Maritime Stations with limited space use them in conjunction with capacitance hats as a tuning method. HF Backpackers even tie a long radial to their whip antenna to improve their own signal as they hike.

When I read an article about applying the concept to handhelds, I was intrigued.

The antenna on a typical handheld is a vertical monopole with the radio chassis serving as a ground plane. This configuration is terribly inefficient because the antenna is a fraction of a wavelength it should be. Your radio may be rated for 5 watts, but you’d be lucky to have a third of…

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