March 2024 Entries

Sunday, 31st March, 2024

Happy Easter! 🐣

Been playing a lot of Last Epoch with my friends online for the past week or so. A good Diablo experience.

Took part in the CQ worldwide WPX SSB contest this weekend. Just casually mind, but it’s a great time if you want to work DX. (Translation: voice contest, work all prefixes (for points) and so many countries show up). Think it was my first time speaking to Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, and maybe somewhere else. Heard Argentina and Caribbean islands and all sorts. Only made about 45 contacts but was great fun.

Making a new tiny transformer for my portable setup, the 3D printed box and winder that I made, looks good but is practically annoying. Especially for fitting in the tiny LowePro CS60 case I bought to house the radio. My aim is to fit everything I need in this box, as my up a mountain, trip out, travel abroad pack. Just need to solder it together and measure the performance of the antenna and cut to the right length.

Off on holidays soon, and then trip with work, so won’t get much time at home to do things for next few weeks.

Want to get things planned for when I start my days off. Radio stuff but also thinking the garage needs sorting, including painting the concrete floor. That’ll be the annoying part, but with better weather then I should make the most of it.

Neighbour has just got a robo mower. Looks nice…would save time. Pricy though.

Monday, 25th March, 2024

I signed up to get a chance to spend a fortune on a limited edition X100VI. there will only be 1934 wordlwide, it’ll cost £1934, and around (at least) 110 cameras will be available in the UK. However, if I did get the chance, I have to go to the Fuji store in London on the 6th April to buy it. Well that decides that.

Sunday, 24th March, 2024

Spoke to Greenland via the QO-100 satellite today. Not quite as grand as it sounds as it’s just a quick signal check and callsign repeat. However, it reminds me of how great this satellite is. It’s the only one in the world and it covers the U.K. and a whole load of this side of the earth. The other day I had a contact with Benin on it, and French Guiana, which I wasn’t exactly sure where it was.

Finally made my tiny microphone too. Next on the list is trimming the wire antenna to length and making a separate box for the transformer vs it being on the wire winder. I need to buy a carry case for the radio. The Lowe pro CS60 is about the right size but it’s pricy for what it is. I suppose I should just buy it elsewhere I’ll debate the issue for weeks and then I’ll want to go somewhere and still not have a bag.

Slowly ticking off the things on my radio building list. Next is going to be back with the orbiting satellites but with computer controlled stuff. At the distant end of the list is EME - earth moon earth. Needs more stuff for this though.

Last Epoch is fun. Played with some friends and enjoying the ARPG aspect of it.

Saturday, 23rd March, 2024

I don’t often look at my blog on the internet but when I do, I remind myself of how much I enjoy the look of it and so it encourages me to write some more.

A very generous ham has posted me a telescopic antenna to test out on my KX2. It’s been a bit cold to sit outside with it to try out but I should try doing so soon. It’s not quite as simple as I thought as it also needs a long counterpoise wire running from it. Which if this is the case then why not just use a wire antenna. I suppose it doesn’t need any poles or supports as the counterpoise can just run along the ground. I was considering buying one, the official one is quite expensive, but knock offs aren’t too bad. So I should really try testing it out to see if I like it. The real test is not me in the back garden but me at some park bench. Not sure I’ll get round to that. I’m borrowing it, but how long is acceptable to keep it until he wants it back? I think he said he had two so maybe this is his method for selling it?

I’ve always like ARPG games, like Diablo series. I like them much more so than RPGs where you read stories and take turns to do things. The action version are fast paced and rapid. You click to run and fight monsters, there are never ending quantities of monsters and you pick up ever better and better loot to equip. I enjoy the progression and finding unique items, and then crafting a build from skills and items. Usually when it gets to “end game” the time you spend to upgrade to the next level or tier grows exponentially whilst the improvement you make shrinks by the same amount. This stage is where I’ll quit. Pareto principle, 80:20, all that, makes it not worth my time! Well there’s a new one in town, Last Epoch, which looks and sounds so similar to Diablo I’m not quite sure how they get away with it. Diablo 4 has been out a while but has had poor reviews and is stupidly expensive. Been debating if I should get Last Epoch, and trying to convince but not tell my friend for him to get it so then we can play together. Another friend has it and says it’s growing on him. He plays with his son and is likely miles ahead so impossible to join in just now, maybe once we finish the story we can join him and it doesn’t matter.

I hesitate getting it, as I know it’ll end up being fun for a while and then I’ll stop and not play. I suppose this is like watching a movie, why start it as it’ll just end…The game isn’t too expensive, £30, and I did see a promo for it to be £25. Think I’ve just talked myself into getting it!

Daughter’s next drama performance today and now I have the 18-55mm OIS Fuji lens to record it without a huge autofocusing noise of the 35mm that I used the last two times. Plus the zoom allows me to focus on her and also capture the whole stage when I need to. Hopefully we’ll get some good seats that make it easy to record between people’s shoulders and not be annoying to everyone else.

I’ve signed up to lots of radio related groups and get the daily digest email, but I feel like every day all I do is delete them all. Should I just unsubscribe completely? It’s not a huge burden to flick through them, perhaps very occasionally there is a thread I want to look at.

Friday, 22nd March, 2024

I did it. Submitted my application, it was approved and come May I’ll be working 4 days a week! Stayed up late last night figuring some numbers and think I have decided.

Funnily enough, a guy in my team, who’s probably 2-3 years away from real retirement is thinking about part time now and we looked at some numbers on my spreadsheet together.

I see there’s a special edition X100VI, only 300 available in the US and the U.K. has some email ballot system or something. Anyway, I don’t need it.

Thursday, 21st March, 2024

I was meant to do a write up each month about expenses, to force myself to see what I’ve spent. I have my spreadsheet which tells me the numbers but I have no context for it. I like doing this in dokuwiki as it feels organised (although I since realised I didn’t do January in there and did it in tiddlywiki). The dokuwiki needed upgrading, which was as easy as clicking next a few times. I then went to my private section and realised I had some journal entries about work from July-November 2022 in there. Was interesting going back and reading those.

Since went to TW to look at January’s summary. Nice to see, I should do February’s, but it’s also 2315 and I should go to bed.

This all started as I’m trying to figure out my pension contribution if I go part time vs. take home pay. So I come back to the question of how much do I need? Which is always tricky to answer as every month is different and there’s always some thing. Interestingly, the monthly average spend of 2022 and 2023 are the same. Maybe that’s a good target to aim for. Those included big things like EV charger install, kitchen deposit and whatever else, however, I suppose it accounts for future random things that occur.

Hmm the sum of the monthly averages is different from the average of the monthly sums. 🤔

I’m usually the guilty party spending money on excessive things…laptops, cameras, radios 😅 So if I want to save more then I should stop what I’m spending.

I decided on a figure. Then I changed it by 1 percentile and things don’t change that much (funnily enough), so why not do 1 more…but where does it stop…Time for a graph!

Wednesday, 20th March, 2024

Spoke to HR and started filling in the form for part time working. Need to double check the financial calculations. I can see it in the spreadsheet but I want to write out the options on a piece of paper so I can really see it.

I still struggle with not saving as much as possible now because who knows what might happen and I don’t want to be wishing “why didn’t I make the most of it back then”, but this is at the risk that I end up old with money I’ll never need. I suppose giving all the kids deposits for houses will eat everything up!

If I start thinking about that it gets me nervous. The real world is hard (and getting harder?). I was interviewing graduates this week and two of us commented that we were glad it wasn’t us as the graduates. But I’m sure this cycle is the same with every generation. The young are young and the old have forgotten.

I worry with more time off will mean more time to learn about things that I then need to buy. Let’s not get carried away, it’ll be one extra day a week. However, my counter is going to be SOTA. Summits on the air. Climb a mountain, play radio and by the time I’m home it’s school pick up. There are twenty summits within 30 miles of the house. More within 50 and more still within 100. Given holidays, the weather and things 20 is enough to last me half the year or more.

Sunday, 17th March, 2024

To limit how much we have to think, for many decisions like what to buy, we often rely on habits – that is, we simply repeat what we did last time when faced with a similar situation. -– Richard Shotton, [The Illusion of Choice]​(

Did a nice little radio consutuction project last night and tested it with the analyser. Seems to be working well. Was a transformer for a end fed half wave antenna, if you were wondering. I took some photos so I should write a short post about it on my radio blog. Which reminds me, that I sat down on the computer to find a 3D model for an insulator for the wire. That was 7 tabs ago already…

Saturday, 16th March, 2024

I did nothing and now the domain renewed. I do use as it my secondary domain for services as my primary one is blocked at work. Of course I still have two other domains I keep which I could’ve used instead…oh well. I’ll think about it again next year.

Spoke to my boss about part time and she was supportive. That’s good. Just need to talk to HR and then actually do it. Still can’t help feel like I’m going to be the one cheated in the situation…I’ll still do the same amount of work, I’ll just do it in 4 days instead of 5 and maybe faff about less. I just have to pay for the day off. Plus fight my natural instinct to maximise income now because who knows what’ll happen in the future. It’s reversible so that’s fine. Anyway, one step at a time.

Someone semi-nearby is selling a full loaded satellite setup, radio, antenna, rotator the lot. Probably circa £3k though 😨 I suspect, like him, I’d do it for a while and then think “that’s nice but I’m done now”. So probably a good price relative to what he would’ve paid new for it all. Plus I’m not sure where I’d keep it all. Think I’d get greater satisfaction from building more of it myself as a temporary, one afternoon I play satellites in the garden then pack it up. Which is what I’ve started doing.

Bought a control cable for my fm radio, need to get it hooked into the computer and the software to do the Doppler correction and then connect it to a white stick dual band antenna. Be interesting to see if I can make any contacts that way. I know some people have done and they were then less interested in bespoke sat setups. If that doesn’t work, I can make (or buy) so called eggbeater antenna which have a wide radiation pattern that is like a dome covering the whole sky.

I’ve also got my handheld dual band antenna to use, just I’m incompetent at aiming it. But practice and maybe some headset to free up a hand would help. But this could also be used with a homebrew rotator. That might take me a while to make but I still think it’ll be more fun than just spending a fortune.

Wednesday, 13th March, 2024

The same thing that happened last year. I get obsessed with radio things and then have zero time for anything else. Like writing here or my DayOne family journal or playing games or anything. It’s not bad but I’m also not really doing anything. I’m jumping from one idea to the next, watching videos, reading blogs, then doing nothing other that staying up too late and being tired the next day.

I’ve started making a big list in dynalist of all the possible things I’d like to do, with links and notes. I need to then pick one and actually do it. I’m getting the wire and cores and bits to build a portable antenna for the KX2 (which I’ve not really used and really need to read the manual), but that should be first. I keep having slight regrets about the KX2 and see cheaper radios that probably “would do” but I think once I start to use it I’ll want to keep it. There was another radio, that I nearly bought which can do almost everything and is pretty small. The ICOM 705. Technically I could do everything with it…HF, VHF, UHF, satelitte…I’d need a few other things to help it and whatever but I could have it in the office, it’s tiny, and then the other amps and whatnot in the garage. Whilst it is portable it looks a bit chonky and slightly precious for taking up a mountain, however, it could be done. I could even automate all the systems with NodeRed, relays and whatever. However, I think it’s just my brain creating a scenario where I need to buy another radio. I could sell the one I have, but the net result would be more expensive.

I would like to be able to use the radio in the office, particularly in the winter, as the garage is cold. My dad suggested building a partition in the garage so I could heat a small space, that’s probably a good option but not sure how I’d close it off without a door, or it has a door but then it starts to become a big space. He suggested a heavy curtain but I think that would just get messy and annoying. It could double as a darkroom though…except there’s no space for any equipment as I have the 3D printer and loads of other things in there.

Really I’d like a flex radio as they make it super easy to use remotely, just they are eye-wateringly expensive. I don’t have the antenna to justify it either. Speaking of which that’s another area I’d like to fix. Ah, so many things to do, and hardly any time. This is why I need to organise myself.

I started thinking about the 705 following a conversation on the matrix radio chat I’m in. One guy was talking about selling off various bits and bobs and consolidating down to the 705 to do lots of things. It seemed smart. I’ve recently bought a 2m/70cm FM rig and that’s fine but I can’t do SSB with it, so if I wanted to use SSB sats then I’d need something else. Given the 705 can do 2m/70cm SSB, it’s more than capable as it’ll also do FM. The only thing it can’t do is duplex (send and receive at the same time on two bands - typical on satellites.) However, that’s easy to overcome (either just ignore it!) or have a cheap SDR and computer to listen. Given I want to have doppler control then I have a computer nearby doing that so an SDR isn’t an issue either. Can even have a remote SDR in the house that’s always hooked up to listen with.

I’m tired of reading 5 radio manuals to figure out how to do something, only to then forget it later, if I had, say 2, then that would be perfect. Argualy I could get down to one with just the 705. Feels appealing. Also reminds me of the One True Camera, and to a lesser extent, a single computer. There’s always compromises…

I think I’ll try planning it out, what I’d want to do and how I would do it. Then see.

I watched some videos of saveitforparts and I flip between wanting to have a garage like his - choke full of random stuff - and a clear garage that you actually keep a car in.

Sunday, 10th March, 2024

Happy Mother’s Day here in Scotland 💐.

Sent my mum some flowers, probably overpriced but she always likes them. M&S usually don’t disappoint so rely on them each year. Kids are getting old enough that I don’t have to go to great lengths at home. But also trying to not rely on “special” days to get gifts or do something. My wife reads a lot so if I see a book recommendation that I think she’ll like, I’ll just buy it.

I usually get good recommendations from newsletter. I feel slightly bad that I never buy from them and always go to Amazon - but Amazon is always cheaper.

Saturday, 9th March, 2024

Since my summit radio activation, I now seem to be back into full radio obsession! The problem is I have about 10 potential projects open across a million tabs and I don’t know what to do first.

Friday, 8th March, 2024

I updated about 5 weeks of transactions in my Google sheets in about 20 minutes, which I think is decent. The accounts with the fewest transactions take the longest. Then my query formula updates, I spot mistakes and fix them and it’s all done. I don’t have time for plain text accounting 😅

I’ve had a headache all day and it won’t go away. Tried paracetamol and ibuprofen but no luck.

Thursday, 7th March, 2024

Today I got up, took the kids to school, drove to a summit (not a mountain, a hill of 539m/1700 ft), walked up it, played radio for nearly an hour. Spoke to 37 people in 14 countries up to 1500 miles away. I came home, had a lovely cup of tea, and wrote up a blog post about it. Then normal life resumed.

It was great. Really fun making contacts on the mountain with 5.5m of wire getting blown around whilst I crouched behind an outcrop to shelter from the howling gale. I was back home by 1:30pm and felt like I’d had a whole day already. Plus my legs feel like they did something.

I wanted to sort out my logs on the computer and then write a blog post, and that computer time went by super fast. Definitely unwise for me to start the day on the computer. If I do do this part time thing then I think it should be radio construction/hikes/etc. first, then fiddle about on the computer until school pick up.

Had a really long chat with a lady in my team at work who also works part time, about pay and work and life. Felt like a rare occurrence but a good conversation. We both want to be paid fairly but not ambitious to chase after pay rises. However, I feel like the only way to get paid “fairly” is to chase after pay rises.

The only thing with the radio hobby (and me being me), is that it’s quite expensive. I tell myself that once I buy all these things then “I’ll be done”, but we all know that’s not how it works. I’m only “done” when I cool off on a hobby and am focused on something else. I’ve had my X-E4 for a while now and not interested in getting a new camera (briefly with the X1006 but that’s not even available to buy). Hopefully building various antenna is maybe how I can do things but not spend too much.

Ordered the internal tuner mod for the KX2 from the states. That’s another $250 🙄 but then I’ll be done! Well except I sort of want the telescopic antenna it has for taking with me when I don’t/can’t use a wire antenna.

Wednesday, 6th March, 2024

I finished making my antenna for my trip out on Thursday. It’s a very simple “random wire”, which like all random wires isn’t random. It’s a very specific length, but from an outside perspective appears random. “5.5m? That’s random”.

A little bit of buyers remorse is setting in on the KX2, it’s meant to arrive today and I’m sure once it set it side by side with my current portable setup I’ll be blown away. Was also reading some of the features and it’s packed with stuff. Everyone I know with one, everyone on forums, discord, YouTube, absolutely love theirs, so I’m hoping I do too.

If it does arrive today I could take it with me tomorrow but, it doesn’t have a tuner (yet) and my wire antenna needs one. I could make a resonant one but I don’t have time, especially if I’m working out how the KX2 works as well.

Ordered 48 creme eggs to work from Amazon as they were on sale. My intent is to give most of them away.

Monday, 4th March, 2024

Bought that KX2 on ebay…👀 won it with my highest bid, which is perhaps slightly more than I was hoping it would go for but using a random number probably helped me win it. For about 5s I thought I was going to get a good deal but someone else bid. Anyway, doesn’t matter, bought now. Looking forward to it as a lovely tiny radio package. I’ll sell my current portable one, which I’m still torn about as it was my first radio and it has a great tuner. However, I don’t need it and better off selling it.

Setup a desk in daughter’s bedroom this evening, with a pin board behind it. Looks really nice and fits in perfectly between her bed and the wall.

One of the boys had an incident at swim training over the weekend and the coach had to jump in and rescue him. Everyone was fine, but obviously not great. Think the coach suffered more than everyone else afterwards. My dad text me to today and say that it’s better to talk about it than to keep it in. I was not expecting this and took me by surprise. I was pretty tired on Saturday when they came and I probably wasn’t too talkative. I don’t think I’m upset about the situation and tbh I’ve not thought about it much as the kids are always doing soemthing or there’s some disaster and it’s just another day. Too busy to worry about it.

My grandfather, dad’s dad, died by drowning in a freak incident whilst on holiday fishing and my dad brought that up. It was maybe 15+ years ago now, and I hadn’t put it together or made that connection. I was at work when he texted and I made an effort to reply but it was short. I honestly don’t think I’m worried or upset about it, but now I’m wondering.

Watching a RSGB video on YouTube on VHF contesting…if I remember I’ll link it later…but it’s a collection of videos people have put together of them on a field day. It looks fun, setting up, and camping and so on. Including film from 1966. My local club does do some but it’s never convenient for me.

The replacement 16GB RAM stick arrived and I put it in the new laptop and it works fine. So has a nice 24GB of RAM. Still not got the track point working but also not done anything about it.

Wife and I were talking about long term plans and money and things. Don’t often do that. She remarked that the next 10 years will be our hardest as all the kids grow up and some leave home and some nearly leaving. We talked about stopping work and things and in the most optimistic case I could stop working completely in 10 years but maybe by then I won’t really want to and life will be very different.

Sunday, 3rd March, 2024

The raspberry pi newsletter informed me the very first rpi came out 12 years ago on Thursday just gone. I had one of those very first rpis. They sold 10,000 in the first batch and I was waiting on the website to buy one. I sold it a while ago as I upgraded but I probably should’ve kept it as part of internet history. Although to do what? Sit in a drawer and probably do nothing?

Can’t decide about this KX2. It’s a lovely radio, perfectly designed and capable, ideal for traveling and portable out and about. It, a bit of wire and a light telescopic pole and you can get on the air anywhere.

It’s like a GRIII with a 35mm lens 😅 but it’s pricey. I have a portable radio I can take with me, but it’s like a D850. I can bring it, it is more capable but it and the extra stuff aren’t small.

I’ve told myself I’ll watch the eBay auction first then maybe offer on the forum one. But I haven’t decided what price would make me bid or what to offer - I also doubt they’ll budge much from their listing price given the rarity of the item. Maybe if it sits in the forum for 3 weeks they might but it’s not even been 3 days yet.

Maybe in Thursday, I should take my D850 up the “mountain” and see how it is. The battery arrangement is the biggest issue. I have a whacking great golf buggy LiFePO4 battery, which is great if you drive or I’m in the garden and I’ve parts of LiPo battery which I was going to make my own but never got round to it. Nowhere in the U.K. sells them and nowhere else ships here.

Saturday, 2nd March, 2024

Went outside this morning to put out some rubbish. Was a light drizzle but the air felt so fresh and envigorating. Made me want to go up a mountain and feel the satisfaction of a day in nature and hard work climbing it.

Dad is coming to visit today. Better tidy up…

Like buses, another KX2 has shown up on the second hand forums. This one has a tuner and nice box and things. It does come with a signal link box for digital modes that I’m not really interested in. I suspect they won’t really want to sell it without that but I could always sell it on myself. It’s just a bit pricey… £1350. A new one from Switzerland is likely around £1500 and doesn’t have the case and bits. Think I’ll see how much the eBay one, without a tuner, goes for. It’s already at £620 and there are still 3 days left. I suspect that these are the current prices as supply is so low and demand is high.

I did end up offering for a 2m/70cm FM radio, a Kenwood V71A, that I saw on the forums as well. Not sure how much I’ll use it but seems like a sensible thing to have a decent 2m/70cm FM for local / satellites, that’s not a handheld, for sitting in my shack. Will just need to setup the antenna for it…

I love haribo sweets, and eat too many. Yesterday I bought a packet at lunch time but they repeated horribly on me all day. Like drinking very cheap, off brand orange juice, so acidic and artificial. Made me think that I should stop eating them. I’ll have to find something else to substitute as not sure I can just go cold turkey on them.

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