May 2023 Entries

Wednesday, 31st May, 2023

I made a bunch of anki cards last night. It’s quick to make them with the cloze (parts of text hidden) and image occulsion add-on. When making them it seems obvious what to hide but when reviewing them I see that I’ve hidden too much and it’s hard to answer them. So they need tweaking. The image ones work really well, especially identifying circuits and graphs.

I’m not 100% sure this is how I want to learn it, and I’m not sure I have enough time to make all the cards and learn them, as anki only gives you 20 to learn per day. You can change that but it doesn’t recommend it. I suppose I should filter them to the hard stuff I don’t know.

It was a useful exercise to make them for topics, as that made me re-read my notes. It was a little frightening that I’d forgotten the existence of topics since writing them up.

I still like writing my own quizzes where I have to fill in the gaps on paper. The act of writing it helps me. Just making the quizzes takes time.

Tuesday, 30th May, 2023

I’ve now read the whole manual and made notes on paper for it. Not counted but I think about 40 double sided of A4. I started re-reading them and saw stuff I’d completely forgotten about, and this is just over the past two weeks.

I wish something could turn those into anki flash cards for me, so I could quiz myself on my phone at various times instead of wasting it looking at Reddit.

I have booked the exam, but I’m worried it’s too soon now, and I’m going to be relying on luck of what questions show up.

I just watched a good video on setting up anki. The pasting in pictures and hiding areas using the add-on is amazing. Even just pasting in snips of text is helpful in quickly building anki cards. I wonder how quick I can make some cards. I’ll start with harder stuff

Monday, 29th May, 2023

I was making a cup of tea and thought something which I then thought I should write on here. I now don’t remember what that was.

My previous radio, the Xiegu G90, which I still have but don’t use, was remarkably simple. It had some good functions and was straight forward to use. The only “issue” is that’s it’s only 20W. My new radio is 100W, but oh so complex. It’s not complicated, but does have quite an array of functions and settings. A lot are set and forget, and it does have some nice features which make life easier.

I just haven’t got round to learning it yet. But it does make me appreciate the little G90 and it’s simple but effective interface. Even the waterfall was easy to understand and tune to. Whereas now the fancier waterfall is less obvious, to me, where to tune to. I guess if I’m upper side band I park the line to the left of the peak in the waterfall?

I’m still working my way through the 123 page manual.

The noise reduction is amazing though.

There’s no way getti no around the fact that antennas need to be placed up high. No matter how clever the design is, if it’s not up high it’ll beam everything into space.

And unfortunately our garden has no decent sized trees.

Saturday, 27th May, 2023

Got our annual letter by recorded delivery from our neighbours asking us to cut our hedge. 🙄

I cut it today and it looks nice and neat. I’ll wait for next year’s letter to cut it again.

Wednesday, 24th May, 2023

There’s a lot of content to learn for the full licence. The book is 100 pages (A4 sized) vs 65 for intermediate. This is not a cram it overnight job. Thinking of making anki cards for it to test myself, just that takes time to do. Ideally I’d take the test by the end of June, before the summer holidays start and when I’ll never find a time slot that’ll work.

This time round I’m making notes from the book whilst reading the syllabus. This makes sure I know what is actually in the exam vs just chat in the book or extra info for awareness. Feels like it makes me go much much slower than just making notes from the book myself. Not sure what’s better, great through the whole book and then come back and check for gaps or methodically go through it. Methodical feels right but it sure is depressing when I only cover 4 pages in an evening.

Also wish the anki app for iOS wasn’t £25.

I pinched a tree from the forest that had fallen down, took it home (at 7am on Sunday morning) and propped it up against the wall to act as a pole for the antenna to tie to. I should also say it was 30 ft tall and deceptively heavy.

Wife was not pleased.

It came down two days later. Never even got to tie the wire to it.

Saturday, 20th May, 2023

My friend passed his intermediate licence yesterday which was good. He’s keen on getting to full, so that’ll encourage me to do mine. I’ve started reading the book. Debating if I should book the test now so it forces me to read it. I did that last time, although I didn’t get myself much time and it was a bit of rush.

I’ve not opened dynalist on my phone in such a long time that it had been offloaded and had to be installed again. I looked at my 2023 goals. Radio didn’t feature at all other than going to the local club meet as a way to get off the computer. However, it has done a great job of getting me off the computer. Everything else is a mix of doing it, like reading and generally going to bed at a reasonable time, and not done anything whatsoever - such as exercising beyond my cycle commute.

At work we’re doing a step challenge for May and June. It’s funny how now at lunchtime a huge number of staff are out walking! My team isn’t doing that well but it’s nice having a lunchtime walk with people.

Got the parts to build my 20m 1/4wave portable vertical antenna. Still need to decide/think about what I’m doing with my home one. Wife still doesn’t like it but is tolerating it for the time being. I might just move it so it’s not in line of sight from the kitchen. That might help get it out of mind…

Thursday, 18th May, 2023

The probably with buying things from forums and doing bank transfers is that our bank account has relatively few transactions and so it’s quite obvious when money comes out. Compared to the credit card which everything comes out of. Not that I’m actively hiding spending, but don’t always want to call attention to the random junk I buy…like new radios…It helped there was a transaction before it of about the same amount coming in from stuff I’d sold to pay for it. 😅

Wednesday, 17th May, 2023

Love this morse key build.

Tuesday, 16th May, 2023

Wow the box with the radio in is massive! It arrived, and no excess postage to pay so that’s good. The guy is really nice as well. I should call him to talk antennas.

Finally finished the blog post I had in draft for ages. Had loads of other things I wanted to write but it was just going on forever. Maybe make another post at some stage.

Thinking I should start studying for the full licence now, whilst the current stuff is still circling in my head. Just means I don’t have time to do anything else.

This poor mac mini G4 is sat open on my desk awaiting the new drive to be installed. For me to install Classic OS 9 on it and then continue to still never use it. Oh well.

Monday, 15th May, 2023

Bought that radio…Yaesu FTDX10 😅 The seller is very nice, spoken to him on the phone several times, but he’s not used to posting things. Ended up not paying for enough weight, so we’ll see what happens with that. Also not clear if the box fitted with the allowable dimensions. Anyway, hopefully it’ll just be a small fee when it arrives to cover the excess. Sounds well packaged at least!

Been watching some videos on it. Some guy has a 175 part YouTube series on it 🥵 All 20 mins or longer! I’ll watch a few, then just play about with it. I like that I can get a desk mic for it, and that it can integrate with a dedicated external antenna matching unit, and amplifier. Good expandability if I want it. Also want to get the remote memory control thing. A little numpad that attaches that lets you play pre-recorded messages back by pressing a button. So now I can just press a number and it says my callsign, or calls CQ etc.

Managed to get a contact with Australia this morning! Tasmania even! I saw he’d heard me on pskreporter and so started calling. I went away for breakfast and when I came back and successful QSO! Even confirmed in, so now I can get the Continents of the World award. Ah the little things. 😗

Friday, 12th May, 2023

I’m ending up buying another radio without actually saying I’m buying the radio…oh well! THe guy wants me to arrange shipping though, which is a snore, don’t see why he can’t just do it and charge me.

Sometimes I do worry that I’ll get bored of it in a few months/weeks and then it’ll be a waste. But then I go back on it and love it, plus there are so many different things to do.

I’ve decided that I want to throw my wire antenna over the roof of the house. a) Gets some more height on it b) removes it from the garden and should make my wife happier. However, I’m not sure about it sitting on the roof and if that’ll cause issues in some way. I’m sure it’ll work but how effective will it be? That is also something that is very hard to determine, as it’s more on the propagation and ionosphere than my setup, unless it’s super amazing and I can hear Australia like they are next door.

I also think that I think it’ll be easy to “throw” the antenna over the roof, when in fact it’ll be a nightmare and it’ll get snagged on all sorts.

Thursday, 11th May, 2023

Digital radio, like DMR or the others, are like Discord but instead of using your computer’s mic and speakers to talk to someone, you use a radio handset. I go back and forth thinking that digital radio is “not real radio” but what is “real radio”? It’s a bit like digital vs. film photography. What is real photography?

I think the fact that a lot of older hams will join in digital radio but wouldn’t join in Discord is a reason to use it. There’s a lot of knowledge and interesting people who I’d never speak to if I disregarded digital radio as it’s “not real”. Also for local chats, regular radio can be annoying.

Wednesday, 10th May, 2023

Well after all that song and dance on callsigns, none of them were available when I came to apply this morning! 🤦‍♂️ I spent a while trying other ones to find some.

In the end went with 2M0RVM, slightly different from my current suffix RVP. Now to update the various online log systems.

Guess I need to buy a new radio now to make use of the 50W I have 😅 I have already picked it…just debating do I want to actually buy it…

Went for a walk last night and took my handheld. Was calling the repeater and CQ frequency but no response. Then I decided to try out 70 cms and it just so happened to be a local net going on. I wasn’t really sure how to break in, so I listened for about 20 minutes. Whilst the old guys lamented over printer issues and describing the minutiae of their day. They were about to go, and so I just blurted out my callsign. Anyway, had a nice chat with them. I could hear one just fine but the other was a bit spotty. Made me think I need to setup a 2m/70cms antenna and radio at home to chat locally.

I like looking at people’s QRZ profile pages. The two locals were no different and had all the details of their setup. They have quite a lot of equipment and invested a lot in it! But I suppose that’s like all hobbies.

Was chatting to my friend online last night who is also recently licenced. We were talking about antenna setups. He then revealed that the big field surround his house was owned by his parents. I was like “wtf are you doing? Get a huge mast up there!”.

Tuesday, 9th May, 2023

I have to pick a new callsign for my next licence. This is turning out to be harder that I thought. Mostly as I over-analyse it. There’s how does it look, sound phonetically, sound normally, the morse weight (even though I probably won’t learn morse until I’ve got my full licence, if at all.), and then my perception of how people will hear it. i.e. weak signals struggle with soft vowel starting words like india, or the single syllable ones get lost, e.g. mike. I had a contact with a guy in Clarksville, Tennessee, and he could not hear my Mike Mike, ended up thinking it was Golf Mike (which is also a valid UK callsign). However, some of those only matter when multiple letters are said together. I think 2-1-2, like B-M-B sounds okay. Also on the morse side there are “rules” to avoid certain letters as they get confused easily or mixed up or lost. These rules are probably more correct than the “sounds like” ones.

All this plus the fact that many have been taken, so I’m working from a semi-accurate list of what’s available based upon the last request for the list of taken callsigns. So I could do all this and then find someone else has taken the one I want since!

Plus if I decide to continue to a full licence, I’ll get to do it all over again!! So why fret now…

The current short list is:

  • 2M0ZOE (Daugther’s name. not sure if allowed, ending ‘E’ is a big no-no with morse as E is dit and can get lost)
  • 2M0XPG (just like the sound of it)
  • 2M0AMG (shortest morse code)
  • 2M0GMR (like the sound of it)
  • 2M0MBM (maybe I don’t like this now)
  • 2M0MOM (looks funny momom)
  • 2M0MOO (🐮)
  • 2M0MDX (Came up in my filter for ones containing M and X, seemed okay, not so sure now)
  • 2M0AJJ (My initials)
  • 2M0AJR (Like my initials)
  • 2M0ALX (Name)
  • 2M0WMZ (Sounds good)
  • 2M0ABZ (local airport code)

For various reasons. The intermediate call sign starting with a 2x0 is terrible anyway, so I shouldn’t worry. ALX is almost my name, so maybe that’ll do.

I think these three letter repeating ones are available:

  • 2M0III
  • 2M0JJJ
  • 2M0QQQ

K is also available but I doubt it’s registerable. Q might not be either. I don’t like “india” or “juliett” really. Q might be okay but Quebec is a bit of a tricky one.

Might just go for my name after writing all of this.

After everyone being ill and mostly all recovered, I’m wondering if I’m now starting to feel ill or is it just in my head?

Sunday, 7th May, 2023

I’ve fallen behind on doing our DayOne journal. After quite a good year last year, I feel this year is quite lacking. Big gaps and even exciting events and weekends often get missed. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter but I’m sad I’ve not been keeping up with at least the trips away or other events.

Spent ages trying out a carbon fibre pole I have with the antenna. I was hoping to use it to raise the other end higher off the ground. Unfortunately, the pole is too flexible and if I try to use it near the top it just bends over so much (that I fear it snapping again) or if I move the connection further down, to the stronger parts, there’s not actually any benefit. So I put it back to using the little tree we have in the garden. I think I managed to get it 6” higher in the tree, although pushing it’s limits and I may find that one day I go into the garden and the tree as broken…

Really need a more substantial fibreglass one, with thick walls.

I started looking at vertical antennas, particularly the Hustler vertical. It’s not small though, still 7 odd metres high, and probably needs radials - wires on the ground running outwards. With some people recommending 3m away or more. Then I read that some people didn’t find it that great for transmit.

The other question is do I get a new transceiver now, as I’ve passed intermediate and so can use 50W (vs. The max of 20W my current one can output), or do I just stick to 20W and then when I pass full, get a new one. I worry I’d be tempted to sneak the power up just to see if I can make a contact, before I’m allowed to! 😅 Although 50W could make more of a difference. I’m also not sure if I should as, am I really going to get into this. It feels like it so far, but I’m still early and chasing down the higher licence levels. However, once I get to full will that be it? I don’t think so, as I think I’ll then want to build things and mess about with all sorts of other stuff (although most don’t need full licence to do this). Plus my wife is still not keen on the wire across the garden. I’m just not sure what alternative antenna I could/should get. Other than a ridiculously large wall mounted mast on the side of the house, but that’ll need planning permission and be very expensive.

I do want to raise the current wire and see how much improvement that makes, and then with additional power, I wonder if I can make voice contacts with the far east and Australia.

Oh dear, two kids and my wife have some vomiting sick bug. Everyone was up all night. The others had it last week. So far I’m the only one who’s managed to escape it so far. I’m constantly washing my hands now.

Now that I’ve sat down, I feel tired.

My friend has been playing Transport Fever 2. It’s very much like Transport Tycoon. I loved that game. Absolute classic, and timeless too. With the release of OpenTTD (in about 2003), it’s going to be around forever. TF2 looks good, but it seems awfully close to a game of chores. Plus it’s not multiplayer, and I really only like multiplayer games these days. Mostly to chat and play at the same time. Transport Tycoon is multiplayer.

Saturday, 6th May, 2023

God save the king etc. All the regalia and brocadary is out in full today. 🤴🇬🇧 For example, this title.

Friday, 5th May, 2023

I passed my intermediate exam this morning. So now I can use up to 50 W, a couple of other random bands (that I’ll probably never use), can do remote transceiver operation (although only via radio) and design/construct my own equipment from scratch. Oh, and I can supervisor another amateur and they can use my callsign and privileges.

It wasn’t too difficult. The maths questions are straightforward, but there are several questions where the wording is cunning. Two answers seem like they’ll be technically correct, but really only one is. Sometimes because they’ve inserted a word which, in the exam writers mind, means a certain thing - although in the English language could mean multiple things. I worked through all the questions twice and wrote a list of the ones I felt happy with and the ones I wasn’t sure. After ages debating between answer A or B on these iffy questions I decided to just submit. I felt that even if I got them all wrong, I was right on the others and still get enough points to pass. In the end I did very well and scored 91%, the pass mark is 60%.

I did spend every evening this week revising and at work I did one mock paper a day at lunch. Now I don’t know what to do with myself this evening!

It’ll take a week before I can apply for my licence, and then I get to choose another callsign as it takes a different syntax.

Someone did a freedom of information request and there’s a spreadsheet of all the taken licences online, so I’ve been filtering and slicing that to see what I could get. Around 65% of the combinations have been taken, so anything meaningful is probably gone. So I’m focusing on ones that sound good when said phonetically, or roll off the tongue or aren’t confusing. Another radio guy said I should pick one that’s good for CW (morse code). I’m probably going to go for a full licence before I start learning morse code, (and will then get another new callsign) so not sure that’s super important but I might look it up to see.

Mike and Golf are single syllable letters, and being in Scotland the start of my callsign will be 2M0, so somehow making use of that would be good. 2M0MOM is available, but not sure if that’ll be quite confusing to listen to and hear.

I was explaining the radio stuff to my dad and taking about antenna etc. He asked if I was still doing the negative development. I said I only have time for one all consuming hobby at one time 😂 Maybe once I’m retired I can do all these things at the same time.

Tuesday, 2nd May, 2023

Mower got repaired this morning by a nice guy who came to our house at 8am. I had previously spent about 1.5-2 hours trying to dismantle and fix it but not being very mechanically minded I didn’t really get anywhere. He, on the other hand, fixed it in about 20 minutes, and for £35, which seems reasonable given the prices places charge for just a call out.

Now I wish I was working at home today as the weather is lovely and the lawn is in dire need of mowing. I could do some nice lunchtime mowing. If the kids had been back to school today I would’ve considered it. Although they’re off out with friends, probably for the whole day, so maybe I could’ve.

Been thinking about how to improve the antenna in the garden. Getting it higher is the key but that means big poles and it’s unfortunate that our garden is adjacent to the road, so it’s very obvious. I don’t think anyone would complain but at 10m (~30ft) high it’s not exactly subtle. I did think about something on the roof but for HF, it would be quite the monster, 10m across with multiple elements. I think the wire is the best option for now. If only we had some decent sized trees to use or hide the pole. This is all somewhat moot as my wife is quite against the idea. There are vertical antennas that are mounted at ground level which would work….if they actually work. I’m not convinced but want to try them - just not at £300 for a trial…this is where I need to find someone who has set it up in a situation like mine.

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