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<My Diary Archive 2011 My Diary Archive>

- . . PCd a bit of this. Only around +1C out! First sunrise I've seen in a while. The days are lengthening - plenty of daffodils, other bulbs and spring growth in evidence heralding the coming spring. . walked. . . stopped at the store on the return for mushrooms. I greatly need a breakfast and fancied mushrooms for some reason. . ate bacon, eggs and mushrooms with four pieces of bread and butter . . slept the day away until late afternoon . . PCd/radiod . . walked with the new scanner again. There's something weird/different about this scanner when I go mobile with it in my pocket. It seems to be picking up lots of noise all over the place and no amount of attempting to alter the squelch or other settings appears to make much difference!?. .PCd/radiod the evening away. Interestingly I 'think' I 'may' be getting a somewhat better receive signal on the scanner by simply linking the discone and my marine slim-jim antennas together. Expanded my scanned memory groups to include all the 'no licence required' PMR channels, and DID actually pick some up from people using them somewhere. Also found listings on the net for more 'shopwatch' frequencies (in Paignton and Torquay), so 'just' picking up more of those now. A lynx helicopter was out in the bay over near Portland somewhere doing live firing excercises with tracer! Wonder if any of that is actually visible from the land anywhere? That'd be interesting to watch at night!. .trawled e-bay listings . . ate four Mum donated cheesey bread rolls with a tin of tomato soup and some chocolate before eventually to bed around 2am.
27 - Up around 7:30am . . walked . . scanned/PCd . . did some serious vacuuming chores. The 'new/recycled' vacuum is completely incapable of dealing with Bellas hair!? The design of it is such that her hair catches on some inside parts of the hose and an internal screen, and it CONSTANTLY blocks. Infuriating having to keep stopping to partialy dismantle and declog it all! Having said that, it's hard to imagine ANY vacuum being able to cope with what I put them through, what with the hair and mud dust and all. . . drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate four sausages, four bacon, two eggs and chips. . napped long, and didn't wake unil just before the alarm at 7pm again!! . . walked. Cold and breezy with a clear sky . . TVd/guitarred. . PCd/radiod the night away. By the time I was feeling tired, it was daylight and too late for sleep - so I decided to go without until after walking Bella!!!! das
26 - Up around 8:30am . . PCd a bit of this while torrential passing rain poured. . walked late pretty much missing the rain. Got in a horrendous mood with Bella. She uncontrollably lunged at every dog we passed, and then I messed up when poop scooping and got it all over my hands and under my finger nails etc!! :o( . . PCd/scanned. Lot of radio traffic out in the bay somewhere from warship 'St Albans' I think it was. From what I heard, it appeared to be doing some sort of fisheries 'policing' thing, with boardings and inspections of fishing vessels. Sadly no trace of it on the AIS map. . . Mum called in with food donations for brief chats . . scanned for ages more, gradually building up my lists of frequencies worth keeping an ear on. Any action on the military airband seems to be something of a rarity. Only heard one brief snip of something so far. I AM picking up some 'local'(ish?) security PMR radios from somewhere (Paignton or Torquay maybe?) - part of the 'Shopwatch' scheme I think, based on what I heard ('Watch that group of girls', 'watch those hoodies', etc.) . . ate mum donated pork pies, crisps and biscuits and then back to the radio . . walked . . guitarred/TVd the evening away, having a much needed break from the radios. . ate bowls of corn flakes before eventually to bed around 1am. s
25 - Up around 8am . . .annadin tablet, coffee and cigs for breakfast . . walked leaving the new scanner at home doing a search and store of airband channels. . stopped off at the store for milk on the return and scored two packs of going cheap sausages. . . radiod with the new scanner, building up my 'usual' switchable groups of frequencies to monitor, complete with appropriate togglable 'alpha tag descriptions' so I can keep track of what frequency is what. (1. All marine channels ; 2. local VHF/UHF amateur ; 3. 80 channels CB ; 4. civil aircraft )
haven't been eating enough of late, and I was feeling it badly! . . cooked and ate four sausages, two eggs, two bacon and chips followed by chocolate biscuits. . napped around 3pm. Didn't wake until the alarm at 7pm!! . . walked in the rain. . ended up listening to mostly the scanner all evening, while plotting heard
ships and aircraft on the relevant websites. . ate ham and mayo sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate biscuits before to bed around 3am.
24 - Up around 7am . . . walked . . spent pretty much the whole morning doing dishwashing chores!! All the house chores are long overdue - and I'm in need of a break from all this radio nonsense. . . raced out like an idiot with an armfull of glass jars to catch the recycling lorry, and promptly smashed one all down the path! . . ate pate and four pieces of buttered toast for lunch . . started dabbling with trying to de-dust some of the bathroom! Everything absolutely everywhere - ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE- is covered in thick layers of red mud dust from Bella/Bgdns!! Just then around 2pm the postman delivered the Uniden UBC3500XLT scanner!! A whole nother radio to learn - again!!!!!! SO complicated - all of them - impossible to remember it all for any one of them! It DOES appear in as-new condition, complete with the box, all the supplied bits, 3 alkaline duracells - AND the 9th edition scanning directory (thick as a phone book, full of frequencies)! Delayed getting to grips with it while I charged up a set of NiMh batteries in my charger. . eventually ended up spending the whole rest of the afternoon into early evening messing around with it. (Even when new - it does NOT get supplied with the programming lead or Butel software - which the USC230 WAS! Cheapskates.) Used the programming lead that came with the USC230 and by using a downloaded 'free to try for a short while' copy of the Butel software for it, managed to determine that everything that was programmed into it by the previous owner (the sellers father, ill and no longer able to use it) wasn't worth keeping. Quickly loaded it up with the marine and amateur frequencies I've had loaded into the other scanner for a while. Without a doubt the 'build quality' of the thing isn't as good as the USC230, and the stupid belt clip is incredibly bulky and potentially useless (an issue for me slipping it into my favourite, bodywarmer small breast pocket! I 'may' explore the possibility of unscrewing the projecting clip lug!) but boy, does it make up for that in how it functions and what it does. A VAST improvement. A VERY nice little radio. . as if to prove it does the job, whilst monitoring - around 6pm the coastguards, lifeboat and rescue helicopter 106 were all mobilised to look for a missing, possible suicidal 43 year old male, over near Dawlish. He was soon found and made known to the police and all were stood down. The rescue helicopter resumed its (navigation?) training flight and actually buzzed over to Exeter airport. I monitored its progress on the AIS map and actually even also managed to switch frequency and hear it talking to Exeter airport before it returned to the bay. It then sought from the coastguard, the bearing and distance to a Belfast bound cargo vessel 'The Verity', which was sailing east at around 12 knots, 15 miles from Portland Bill. At an altitude of 506mtres, at a speed of 143knots, off it went across Lyme bay in the ship's direction. (Sadly - the ship inexplicably disappeared from the AIS map around this time??) A short time later at 7pm it called the ship, and it was agreed they could drop a person onto their deck! Must be SO weird to be sailing along minding your own business, and suddenly get a helicopter dropping in on you like that! Must've livened up their whole evening. Just listening to and plotting it, did mine. lololol How sadly geeky am I!! lololol . anyway - all in all - I guess I'm happy with it - thank goodness! I think it WAS the scanner I SHOULD have bought when I bought the USC230. . . walked. . TVd but nothing much on and somehow ended up playing with the scanner, having a glass of wine, and then ending up on the PC looking for the free programming software I knew was out there somewhere. Soon downloaded 'bcTool+', installed it and blindly connected the scanner to the PC and had a go with it. Ohhh - Myyyy - Gawd! How fantastic is THAT! Absolutely brilliant!!!!!!!!! Not only will it program BOTH the USC230 AND the UBC3500, but it also gives FULL control of them via the PC. AMAZING!!!!!!! . . sat back with my feet up on the footstool, sipped wine, smoked cigs, and casually clicked with the mouse, scanning and changing settings etc, etc. Incredible. I haven't dug out a lead yet, so I have yet to experience how it feels to have the sound coming out of the PC speakers - but it sure is a whole different ball game not having to press buttons and twiddle knobs etc. I like that a lot! I may have to look into how 'CAT' the FT-767 really is - and then there's the VX-2 to look into also. Funny - I'm kinda lookin' forward to tomorrow when the airwaves are all busy. lolol I can see it now - I'm gonna spend most of the day sat with my feet up, leisurely scanning, all by the click of a mouse. lololol . . PCd this briefly around midnight . . ate ham sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate biscuits before to bed around 2am. d
23 - Up around 06:45am . . PCd a bit of this. Aha - the local repeater is back up and running. That'll give me my fixed reference point to see which 2mtr antenna is receiving best. Using the S meter on the FT-767:- S6(-) on the new (unfinished - although the SWR isn't 'too' bad as it stands!) slim-jim; S3 on the donated 'spider ground plane' whip; S5(+) on the discone; and just for interest, S5(+) on the marine-band slim-jim. Well - I guess it IS worth trying to get the SWR fixed and finish off the 2mtr slim-jim then. I'm quite impressed with those slim-jim antennas. . . walked in the rain, played in the mud and then walked in the dry on the return . . messed around with aerials. Things did NOT go well! :o( Attempts to SWR the new slim-jim failed. Failed miserably - at length! I haven't really a clue why. If I had to put money on it, I'd say at the very least, the SWR meter I bought is 'unreliable' (or actually maybe doesn't even work!). On top of that, I'm not entirely convinced the built-in meter on the FT-767 reliably works either!! Where the hell does THAT leave me?

Mum called. I was NOT in the mood.

also stumbled into a problem with the PC. For some unknown reason, all of a sudden I couldn't watch Youtube videos!? Ended up having the PC running for hours doing windows updates and downloads and all manner of infuriating nonsense. Even downloaded Firefox (for the first time ever) at one point in desperation! I'm sure its very clever and all, but it makes everything look 'slightly' different and I don't like the change.

soldered connectors (EVERYTHING I attempted to solder today turned to shit!????) onto the slim jim at what I thought was a good SWR point, only to find the next time I tried to check the SWR, it was sky high - or not - maybe - who can tell!! . . . .ended up desoldering what I'd taken hours to do, and then fabricated a less permanent, hopefully better than crocodile clips, adjustable connection out of some plastic and nuts and bolts. That didn't help. I must have gone back and forth from the radio, up the step ladder in the bathroom into the attic to adjust that conection a hundred times. LITERALLY! Exhausting - frustrating - and in the end, a total waste of f-ing time. Eventually I just HAD to give up!

gave up on the aerial/radios (actually just bloody sick of the whole thing - and ready to sell the lot back on e-bay, for a happy loss just to be free of it all!) and concentrated on the PC and FINALLY managed to get the damn thing to run the flash download/plugins etc. and play Youtube videos again. What the hell that was all about I have NO idea! Unfortunately all the updates etc I've been forced to run, has made the whole machine feel all alien and strange to me - with new menu options and all manner of stuff to have to re-learn. Nothing is 'quite' where I was used to having it.

PCd just a bit of this around 9pm before walking!! Total, TOTAL waste of an entire LONG day! God I'm pissed off. I'm so VERY bloody pissed off.
22 - Up around 07:45am . . . walked . . TVd briefly . . messed around knocking up another slim-jim antenna from copper tube. Cut this one to length for slap-bang in the middle of the 2 meter band - hopefully. Indecisively ummd and ahhd throughout doing the work, about a listing I've been watching on e-bay, due to end early afternoon. Eventually came to a difficult decision. Stopped work on the antenna briefly and went and bid (three seconds from the end) - and WON the auction! 126 including postage for a 'Uniden Bearcat UBC3500XLT scanner'. (They are 'around' 200 new!) That scanner is probably the one I SHOULD have bought, when I (in relative ignorance) bought my USC230, new for 116 back in August 2009! From what I've read, it pretty much does exactly the same (with the desireable fast scan rate etc) - except - it DOESN'T have the gaps in coverage that my USC230 irritatingly does. Most notably (to me - with my childish desire to listen to the local air displays in the summer), it WILL pick up the military airband frequencies etc. .I won't be happy until ALL my savings are gone will I!!!!!!!! I'm really starting to get pretty uptight about it. :o(. Anyway - if it all works out ok, that's sorted out my desire to have a dedicated marine recieve setup (using the USC230), and that Swiftech marine radio is DEFINITELY gonna be sold on. . back to the copper pipe slim jim. Even with the solder-ring elbows, the soldering was a disaster AGAIN!!! The garden is just COVERED in solder! What a waste! :o( . . messed in the attic and put the aerial the local ham donated, up there for a bit of comparison testing. Delayed continuing playing around because my shopping was due to be delivered. . just before 4pm (my 'slot' was between 3 and 4) the groceries delivery driver phoned, unable to find the place. After giving brief directions he soon arrived. . meticulously checked it was all there and then stowed everything away. (Damn - I forgot to order crisps - and they were out of stock of the ketchup I'd ordered!) . . hung the new slim jim in the attic on some string, and temporarily connected some coax to it via a couple of big crocodile clips! Plugged it into the 767 and sat waiting to hear something, so I could evaluate its effectiveness compared to the discone and donated aerial etc, etc, etc. Would you believe it - the local repeater appears to be inoperative and the whole band appeared to be pretty much dead. So - no way I can get a feel for the effectiveness of either of those aerials until I have some signals to play with! Damn frustrating. . . PCd a bit of this while listening to mostly silence on the radios! Humph. . walked and played ball in the mud. .sat smoking a cigarette on a seat afterwards, all of a sudden Bella shot off like a bullet. She'd spotted a badger just leaving the gdns through the gate out onto the road. Thankfully she returned to my FRANTIC calls, 'just' before going out onto the road! I'm ALWAYS on guard with her! I can NEVER relax. :o( . . . drank a glass of wine and got tipsy (no food all day) while cooking a pot of tinned stewing steak with potatoes and peas . . ate a BIG bowlfull with a couple of buttered bread crusts after 10pm. Pretty soon overcome by the wine and food rush and just HAD to go to bed by around 11pm. d
21 - Back up around 08:30am . . walked late between showers . . PCd/listened to radio just a little. . the postman delivered my cheap wraparound scanner-earpiece. It really IS cheap, but it does 'appear' to be useable. Won't really know until it's been out and about with me on a walk. I find it weird how just being 'out in the open' means having to turn the volume up SO much more. It won't help my failing hearing that's for sure. . spent pretty much the whole rest of the morning doing a big online groceries shop. I'm VERY low on edible stuff for ME - but then again, the last time I 'shopped' proper was a suprising THREE months ago, so I guess that's fair enough! Wasn't difficult to tot up a 140 bill and easily qualify for the free delivery. . . ate pate and four pieces of toast . . napped . . did laundry . . walked with the scanner and tested out the earpiece. That seems to work reasonably well - particularly with my 'thinsulate' hat pulled down over it. Having said that, I'm not entirely comfortable not being able to hear what's going on around me so well. . . TVd/guitarred the evening way feeling more than a bit down. . ate a microwave curry, crisps, banana and some buttered mum donated golden syrup cake . . to bed around 2am. s
20 - Up around 07:30am overheating . . walked and played ball in the mud. . . radiod. Well - the GBRS news I think IS coming in rather stronger than it was - although that 'could' have just been down to atmospheric conditions rather than my new aerial set up. Eventually actually dared to have a couple of very brief conversations on 40mtrs!!! Rotherham and Tamworth of all places. lol My 'avoidance' is VERY prominantly rearing its ugly head. I want to use the radio (my new 'toy') but I found it oh SO difficult to actually key the mike and attempt to have a QSO with someone!! :o( It was quite a relief when they very soon made it clear they'd had enough and wanted off. I WAS nervously stumbling over my words and talking largely gibberish! An 'avoidant radio ham'! It'd be laughable if it wasn't so painfully absurd! I haven't had the nerve to even ATTEMPT any 'foreign' contacts. Pathetic! :o( On the plus side - I was actually even given a '5 by 9' signal report by one of them - a 5/7 by the other. That pleasantly suprised me - on my bit of random wire (no earth connection) and dodgy balun. Says more about how well THEIR antennas were receiving my poor signal I think. It'll do me for the time being. :o) . . carried on listening around until gone 2pm!!! . . PCd just a bit of this . . ate Mum donated pate sandwiches, crisps and a banana. . napped dreaming much until around 7pm . . pouring with rain again - and much the same forecast for days it would appear. :o( . I haven't yet dried out since the other night! My 'Karrimor Weathertite Hiking Shoes' are still soaking wet. Actually - on that subject - those shoes are pretty close to being fit for the bin already - after less than THREE months of use! I've worn the main part of the tread on the soles away already, and they are now virtually 'slicks' - which is real treacherous on the damp slopes and mud in BGdns. They were NOT good value for money! :o( . . delayed walking (because I REALLY didn't want to - again!) and actually finally got round to putting a coat of dubbin on the Doc Marten shoes PS donated a while ago. I've worn them a few times now (enough to break them in to MY feet) and I figure with all the rain we are forecast to have for the next few days, they are my best chance of keeping my feet dryish. . . walked in the light rain after the heavy. . TVd . . PCd/listened to radios and then PCd a bit of this through midnight into early before then listening to the radio lots more. Even on my wire (on 40m), I could hear some 'fairly' good US signals. Had a bit of a shout at one, but sadly to no avail. Some guy from eastern europe started hollering all over the top of me which hardly helped. Bizarre how frantic and insistant he seemed to be to get through. SO frantic and insistant, he even missed the American he was calling saying he was going off air, and was still hollering at him long after he'd gone. lolol. .worthy of mention here - I AM now satisfied that there IS another fault with the 767. Something not right with the onboard tuner. It DOES appear to tune when I ask it to (on 40m especially - but then the wire length isn't 'far' off resonant on that band I suspect) but it never indicates it has done so. It ALWAYS remains displaying 'wait' no matter what happens. That's really bad news for me. Doubly so since I passed up on the oh SO rare opportunity of bidding for replacement tuner parts on e-bay the other day!!! I bloody KNEW I SHOULD have gone for it!! Bugger! No way do I know ANYTHING about repairing such equipment. :o(. . . TVd briefly and ate bowls of co-co pops before finally to bed around 3:30am!
19 - woken in the night by Bella howling (in her sleep I think)!! Up around 7:45am . . walked . . listened to the radios for hours. Bizarrely - connecting the discone antenna to the 2mtre module socket on the back of the HF radio, reduced the background noise level!!?? That surely MUST be because of the as yet lack of an earth!!!! As soon as the weather is better, some sort of proper earth must be an urgent priority!!! I probably shouldn't even be transmitting as it is! . . Mum called in with the paper and food donations. . tidied up tools and just some of the mess that'd built in the conservatory, and then spent an utterly absurd amount of time trying to sort out the absolute mountain of cardboard boxes and packaging I've just been dumping out there for the last several weeks. Stacked up potentially useful boxes and bubblewrap etc, before breaking down and flatpacking the rest of the cardboard (as per the explicit re-cycling instructions from the council). What a time consuming pain in the ass - especially the huge TV box - and all the polystyrene, which apparantly canNOT be recycled, and has instantly filled my wheelie bin! It's gonna take a couple of weeks of bin collections to try to shift it all bit by bit!!! . . ate pork pies, crisps and some chocolate . . napped for just a couple of hours. . radiod/PCd. . .walked . . Walked real late again. Cold, but sat listening to the scanner drinking coffee and smoking cigs on a seat for ages. The pleasantness was eventually ruined by groups of rowdy youths assembled in the gdns nearby. Time to leave - quickly!. . TVd/radiod. Nervous and 'self conscious' and just couldn't bring myself to make ANY calls!!! :o(. . . ate salami and mayo sandwiches, crisps, banana and cake. . TVd until bed round 1:45am.
18 - Up around 08:10am . .walked. . gave Bella the pig's foot to eat out in the back garden . . unlocked the ladder which has been living out front, split it into it's two pieces, and then carefully managed to thread them both through the living room window, to get them through the house and out back. Worked out ok. That saves having to walk it all the way up the street, round, and down the back lane. . . Right then - project 'random wire' aerial!! . Got the ladder up and messed around for ages, trying to see if I could route some coax from the attic down through the now redundant, central heating water tank overflow pipe. Sadly I eventually just had to give up. That pipe goes into the cavity wall space and somewhere in there appears to be a right angled bend which I couldn't get past. How on earth they fitted it like that is beyond me. .ummd and ahhd quite a bit before eventually just dragging the electric drill up the ladder and popping a hole (large enough for the coax AND a PL259 socket to pass through) through the thin, rotting bit of soffit timber.

-//unfinished//- . . . BIG trouble with soldering!!! . Neighbour loaned me his gas iron and miniature blow torch . . . . made marks for a meter length on the low garden wall, and then marked off the cable with the indellible marker as I unreeled it, just so I would be able to have some way of counting out the length of it even when strung up. I probably should have gone for an intelligent/resonant length, but in the end I didn't and just went with as long as I could get. It's only temporary until I get more clever. It eventually worked out being a little over 23 meters I think.. had the wire in place just tied with heavy nylon loading strap . . .climbed my little step ladder and reached up with the loppers and managed to trim a couple of bits of 'could-touch-in-the-wind' branches off a couple of the trees. . putting socket on coax and testing its fit in the balun, the balun fell apart! ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! Cheap rubbish!!!. .Surfed baluns . stuffed it back together.. pulled the coax through and glued the top of the balun to the eaves with a touch of carpet spray glue!! . . ! Image of a temporary 'random wire'/balun antennacalled it quits outside as rain began to pour. (Eager to just get the thing strung up 'somewhere' - one thing I overlooked was its proximity to the rotary washing line. The wire and clothes line come in contact when it's opened up!! So - I won't be hanging my washing out for a while then. :o( ) . . fitted the plug on the other end of the coax and then radiod for a bit. I was absolutely DETERMINED to before I went out (despite how shaky and sweaty with nerves it made me!) - I dared to transmit on the wire, answering someones CQ call - just to try to prove it works. It did - just!!

. . . finally walked in the TORRENTIAL rain and wind, real late, well after 9:30pm. Horrendous walk. Just a quick once round without hanging around. Both got utterly drenched . .saw a frog and then a mouse in the street near home on the return . . .TVd . .ate a tin of baked beans, four sausages, four pieces of bread and butter and some chocolate around 11pm. . to bed around 1am. I'd not long been in bed when the agonising sound of dripping announced the wind had finally driven the huge amount of rain into the leaking bay roof. The rolled up towel which now lives on the window cill managed to soak up the considerable drips, because thankfully the worst of the rain soon after eased off. I need to call that bloody roofer - again. :o(
17 - Up around 7:30am . . VERY slow getting going again. . walked in the drizzle. Eventually carried on down town to tour charity shops and buy some burgers (and score a pigs foot for Bella) . . FINALLY received confirmation in the post from the microchip company, that Bellas microchip details have all been updated for her new keeper. Funny thing is, without any input from me, it lists her as a "GSD X BELGIAN SHEPHERD", colour "BLUE". So - is that ACTUALLY what she IS I wonder? . . . messed around on the PC while monitoring radios. Actually caught up on all the 'feedback' that seems to be required when buying anything off e-bay. I've not been bothering and had lots to do! Weather improved and turned to sunny spells . .spent an age reading how to, before manualy programming memories into the VX-2. God that thing is so complicated - and hard to remember when you HAVE looked it all up! . . messed around swapping aerials on radios quite a bit, trying to figure out what I was hearing! Not a strong signal by any means, but all in French accents, and often actually IN French!?? Something to do with atmospherics perhaps (and high output transmitters?) - but incredibly I appeared to really actually be picking up the French coastguard (or their equivalent of our local 'bay reporting') from somewhere. I am assuming it must be Cherbourg!!! Sadly, to my immense frustration, I never did hear (or successfully translate!) enough to actually be sure - and pretty much only ever heard the one side of their conversations. One notable exception was when I VERY briefly heard both sides of the conversation when they were talking to the German warship 'Brandenburg' (apparantly out on 'military operations'). That finally enabled me to quickly locate it and zoom in on the AIS map to figure out what part of the channel I should be looking at. The AIS data was coming from Alderney - the Brandenburg was plotted at N5006'36.03", W00219'15.10". By my rough reckoning using a ruler against the PC screen, that put it on a line between me and Cherbourg - around 40 miles from Cherbourg and a good 60 miles from me!! Very weird - but not bad for a bit of old central heating pipe in the attic!! lolol Just a weird atmospheric fluke I'm sure. Plenty closer is more usually dead silence to me. . .briefly strayed onto e-bay and finally got round to ordering a cheap single earpiece for use with the scanner. Been wanting one of those for ages. Carrying and listening to the scanner without one, is an embarassing, antisocial, attention-grabbing pain in the rear! Bought a 'D TYPE WRAPAROUND EARPIECE' for 2.94 including postage. Dunno if I'll be able to get along with it, but worth a shot for a couple of s.. . PCd a bit of this . . Setting off to walk Bella (with the VX-2 in my pocket), I opened the front door and almost tripped over an aerial! Bella had just taken it in her stride and jumped over it, as though it was an every day occurrence. lolol That'll be the 2m aerial 'donated' by the local amateur then. :o) I'd have made him a coffee if he'd called in! The aerial appears to be a small whip type on a bit of a base with four radials off the bottom - kinda looking like a gangly spider! I've a horrible feeling, that isn't actually ANY better than the discone, and may even be 'less able'. I suspect he isn't familiar with the capabilities of the type of discone I bought. I went for the 'Royal Discone 2000' largely because it purported to have a "TRANSMIT RANGE 50-52/144-146/430-430/900-986/1240-1325MHz". We'll see. Quickly popped it inside to experiment with some other time, and got on with the walk. . . Monitoring a conversation between local hams in BGdns while throwing Bellas ball in the mud, I couldn't resist on chipping in, commenting on the apparant propogation conditions (viz the French reception earlier) and ended up having a bit of an awkward chat for quite a while. Managed to thank the local ham for the aerial also. According to him (he is the one running a local AIS station), there is something weird about the hills I can see across from my house, and the way they seem to bend more distant signals from just that particular direction. What he said all seemed to make bizarre sense based on what I'd been hearing on the scanner all day. . saw a neat shooting star . A VERY pleasant evening out. . . TVd . . touched base with Mum . . TVd/guitarred. . BB called to touch base . . ate four burgers on buttered bread rolls, biscuits and a little chocolate . . TVd until bed around midnight. s
16 - Up around 8am . . slow getting going. Walked late and played ball in the mud . .the long wire antenna 'insulators' were delivered in the post. I think that's everything I've ordered now isn't it? . . . climbed into the attic with the new TV aerial (as rain poured and wind lashed outside), trying to figure out how to mount it somewhere suitable, and more permanantly. Back down and looked in the garage for anything useful, for making up a short stubby 'mast' to screw to the roof timbers and stumbled into the bit of timber frame that used to hold the dressing-table mirrors (now on the wall of the diner) I scored from the person up the lane. After having pulled one upright dowl out of the timber, the remaining 'L' shape looked very much as though it would maybe do the job. Back up in the attic, it transpired it fitted the angle of the slope perfectly, and wouldn't even require cutting to fit! Yayy. Image of an in-attic digital TV aerialDrilled four screw holes and pretty quickly had it fastened to the roof timber, nice and solid. The TV aerial bolted straight onto it and after pointing it in more or less the right direction and moving the cable over from the old aerial, that was that. MUCH less work than I'd envisaged having to do. Excellent. (I just LOVE it when a bit of old rubbish I've been keeping, does a job so perfectly!) Calmly raced down to the TV and used the Tvs fantastic onboard-menu signal-strength option, to go through ALL the channels and test the signal strength. On that menu screen there are three items to keep an eye on. 'Signal Quality' and 'Signal Strength' (on a scale of 1 to 10 with ten being the best), and a counter for 'Bit Error Rate'. The most demanding digital channels are the High Definition channels - and on the old aerial I was getting some VERY low signal numbers on those and a bunch of bit errors as the picture started to break down. The new aerial has fixed all that. Most channels are showing full double 10s. The VERY lowest signal quality or strength (never both?) I'm getting on just one or two of the 'lesser' channels is now a 7, and not a single one is getting any bit errors - and all that with just pointing the aerial in more or less the right direction!!! Oh WOW!! How cool is THAT! I'm not even gonna try adjusting it any further. That'll do me nicely. VERY pleased. That worked out all really easy. That's the best 17.98 I've spent in a while. lol And I still have the old aerial (left up in the attic) to 'maybe' some time use as a secondary (non HD), IF I start running lots of TVs in different rooms again. Cool. Very VERY pleased. :o) . . PCd a bit of this . . much radio traffic on the scanner early afternoon from 'Warship Monmouth' and other craft (something 'Teshelling'?), doing transfers and 'small boat operations' and interesting stuff somewhere in the bay. Sadly (as usual with the military of course ) - no sign of it on the AIS map. Lots of other ships in the bay all sheltering from the bad weather. . . . . cut my hair, vacuumed and cleaned up around the place just a little . .PCd . . walked late . . TVd . . ate four sausages and chips with four pieces of bread and butter . . to bed around 11pm.
15 - Up around 7:50am. Wind and rain . . . walked and played ball in the mud before dipping Bella in the sea to clean some of it off . . touched base with Mum just to confirm I hadn't forgotten about giving her a lift to her hospital appointment (scan of her bad leg) later. . the double female joiners arrived in the post . . pottered around listening to the radios and trying to evaluate what does what the best. There's no doubt about it - the combination of my Uniden USC230-E scanner and homemade aerial, IS the best for picking up the marine frequencies now. Suprisingly the 'Swiftech' marine radio doesn't come close!? The actual radio itself also appears to be less sensitive!??? Since it's a dedicated marine band radio I expected MUCH better from it. That, together with its slow, oh SO slow channel scan-rate (compared to the lightning quick Uniden) AND it's bassy speaker tone, means I think I've already come to the conclusion I'm gonna be trying to sell it on. If I was using it on a boat like it was designed for, I'm sure it would be VERY acceptable - but that's not how I'm trying to use it. I'm even thinking I could actually make use of ANOTHER Uniden for monitoring stuff in the way I want to!!! I may need to start reading up on OTHER (cheaper?) scanners, with the emphasis on the channel scan-rate - to have one sat dedicated to listening to JUST the marine band all the time (which is what I'd hoped the Swiftech would do for me). I'm in no hurry on any of that - shame though. . .PCd this as HEAVY showers fell all morning. . . . set off in the car with Bella just after 1am, picked up Mum and all drove to drop her off at the hospital - with an arrangement Mum should call me on the mobile when she needed picking up. . used the trip to stock up on much needed dog food in the nearby pet store. Bought LOADS! Enough to keep us going for almost a couple of months. Dogs are welcome in the store, so I took excited almost uncontrollable Bella in with me. The assisants had split open a big sack of their own-brand dog food whilst setting up displays, and bits of the 'complete' food were littering the floor and being swept up by one of the staff. Raced in with Bella and let her help the clear up - by eating as much as she could grab. lolol . . filled the front passenger seat with all the tins and sacks and quickly headed home to drop it off. (PAH 400g x 96 @ 39.96 ; Wagg Worker 17kg x3 @ 29.97 ; PAH Peanuts 2kg @ 6.99) Not even yet home, Mum called to say she was ready to be picked up!! I'm not used to all this talking on mobiles stuff - and definitely not when I'm driving!!! Bit of a panic when the phone rang in my pocket. I dared to pull it out and press the button to accept the call - and then just threw the phone down on top of all the dog food, and shouted I couldn't talk right now because I was driving!!! (I'm always SO critical of people I see driving, using a mobile. I guess just 'sometimes' they DO have a good reason?lol) Veered off into a side street, just stopped, and managed to do the call. . quickly dropped of all the food at home and then got straight back on the road and drove the half hour trip straight back to pick up Mum . . stopped at the DIY store and bought a pack of 15mm solder ring elbows @ 3.59. . returned home and dropped Mum off . . ate mayo and salami sandwiches and biscuits. .a courier delivered my new TV aerial (all flat packed in actually quite a small box). . . the freecycle guy phoned to confirm now was a good time, and then soon turned up to collect my old 28" CRT TV . Helped him carry it down to his car, quick thank yous and a handshake, and off he went. Good to have THAT old beast out of the way - although a hint of sadness at seeing it go. Been a good TV to me that one. We've been 'through a bit' together! It's 'witnessed' some stuff! lol It's even had a Christmas tree stood atop of it on occasions. Goodbye old friend. . walked . .TVd and assembled the new flatpacked TV aerial, and then just plonked it in the corner of the room until tomorrow. . .guitarred/TVd the evening away . . ate a tin of baked beans and four pieces of bread and butter, chocolate and later bowls of co-co pops. . to bed around midnight. s
14 - Up around 8am. Sunny . . walked . . ummd and ahhd about maybe taking the old TV and some other bits and pieces (a car load!) to the tip, but ultimately just wasn't in the mood for all the aggro. I do SO hate having to go to the tip, and I just keep putting it off and putting it off! Ended up dismantling my old faulty 17"CRT PC monitor and crammed most of the bulkier bits (including the CRT!!!) into the wheely bin! (the possibly useful 'innards' I'm temporarily holding onto). . received a most unexpected letter in the post from the parents of LB! . . surfed and found an online nifty 'calculator' for the dimensions of slim-jim attenas at chosen input frequencies. That gave me, at a stroke, all the metric dimensions for one for 157mhz. :o) . . put on overalls and descended under the floor with the pipe cutter and tape measure, to 'harvest' suitable lengths of copper pipe from my redundant central heating system. Wow - there's loads of it! Far more than I'll need for SEVERAL slim jims. lol ( I DO intend to make another one at least - for 145mhz (2mtrs Ham band) at some stage) . . I only had three ninety degree elbows in my collection of plumbing spares (I needed four), but by cutting a suitable length with an elbow already fitted from beneath the floor, I actually had all I needed to get on and start having a go at building the antenna. Measured and cut appropriate lengths, laying it all out on the floor of the cluttered conservatory. Used a piece of wooden dowl to fashion a plugged insert in the 'gap', to keep everything straight, solid and together. . eventually finally took it all out into the garden and rested it on the big wooden garden table to do the soldering of the elbows with the blow torch. As always - it did NOT go well!!!! I really am RUBBISH at soldered joints like that. I just haven't managed to learn the art. (Solder-ring fittings I can seem to manage, but not so the cheaper solderless fittings, which was all I had to hand!) After a great deal of trouble, with more solder on the paving slabs of the garden than on the tubes, and with rain starting to fall, I FINALLY managed a 'good enough' result - for a receive only antenna!! I need to do more of these - just to practice and hopefully master the damn soldering!! . . somewhere in the midst of all this, a carrier delivered a big heavy box containing the 100 meter spool of RG213 aerial cable I'd ordered. Oh wow - I'm all good to really go for it. . Image of marine band slim-jim antenna easy cable connectioncarried on and soldered some wire around the tubes at somewhere near the required feedpoint, and fed the ends of the wire into an old electrical connecting block. Since I'm not able to actually tune the SWR (which would require moving that feed point up and down), there seemed little point in doing anything else - and the connecting block just makes messing around with the coax real easy. Should be quite close enough for just receiving. . Image of my marine band slim-jim antenna hung in the atticmessed around in the PC/computer room and actually cut a small section out of the ceiling in the corner above where the radios sit. Removed the sockets from the ends of the existing antenna cables, pulled the cables back up into the attic and removed them from the 'temporary' hole I'd made, which has ended up being on the 'wrong' side of the room for how I intend to have things. Dropped the cables back down through the new hole, and then after having hung the new marine slim-jim antenna on a bit of string from a hook screwed into the topmost roof timber in the attic, cut and fed through a piece of the new coax cable for it. Too close to the temporary TV antenna, disconne and everything else for comfort - but it'll HAVE to do! Cut and soldered plugs back on everything. (I SO need a new soldering iron! I don't think that old one even gets as hot as it should anymore! Things did NOT go well! :o() At last - finally I had everything ready to go and moved the radios back into the room and nervously connected them up. 'Just' managed to get there before the evening coastguard weather broadcast ended, so was able to swap antennas back and forth on different radios to see if the new one WAS actually working. It sure was. It actually IS giving me a better signal than the disconne. Yayyyyy. Excellent. So - I now have a dedicated antenna for just listening to the marine band. Much less swapping of aerial leads as I've been having to do up till now, depending on what I've been doing. EXCELLENT. . rigged up the Swiftech marine radio on the new antenna and had a bit of a try out with that. Pretty quickly came to the conslusion, it was NOT really doing what I wanted!! More experimentation needed - but I think it's mostly down to how slowly it scans through all the channels I've programmed into it. Nothing to do with the aerial. Disappointing! :o( . . PCd briefly and someone had mailed me showing interest in the 28" TV and will hopefully collect it tomorrow. . walked late after 9pm and played ball in the mud . . not eaten all day - finally ate after 10pm - pizza and biscuits . . TVd until bed around midnight.
13 - Up at 8:30am after not much sleep because of all the noise from the 50mph gusts of wind and rain. . reluctantly walked. Did NOT play ball and just did a once round and got back as quick as we could. Horrible out. . .PCd this while monitoring the marine channels. Something going on out of my earshot over by Sidmouth before midday. Coastguard and police attending. Helicopter is up somewhere too. All too far away for me to hear. .(CG update to the rescue helicopter 'Rescue 106':- a group of (young) kids walking the coast from Seaton to Sidmouth started rockpooling. They had to flee over the rocks from the incoming tide - one had a bad ankle and went missing! ! . Blasted AIS website is down!!! Funny thing was - the coastguard AIS was down too!?. . Just after midday, minute(s) after starting the search (Amazingly quick!), the helicopter located the missing child ("a minor") and had him onboard and were heading somewhere to land and deliver him to the police/ambulance!!! All done and dusted and a happy outcome by 12:30pm. :o) Damn - monitoring this stuff really IS addictive!. . .ate two cheesey ham rolls and a tin of baked beans . . napped until the alarm at 7pm! . . walked between showers. Chilly . . .guitarred/TVd in front the fire. . ate a pastry slice, cake and chocolate . . PCd until bed around 3am. s
12 - Up around 9am after not at all enough sleep!! Felt really awful. More than usual. Quite 'unwell'. . walked. . PCd reading up (again) on copper tube constructed 'slim jim' antennas. I'm gonna just HAVE to have a go at one of those, although sadly I don't have enough elbow fittings etc laying around, so I AM gonna have to go buy some. I think it makes sense for me to start off by having a go at making one for just receiving on the the marine band. My SWR meter won't go beyond 150MHz, so there'll be no way of trying to tune it precisely, but since it'll just be for receiving, that shouldn't be a problem. Using the data and calculations available all over the net, if I just work out all the measurements accurately for 157MHz, I reckon that should be good enough to, at the VERY least, equal the performance of the disconne on that band - while of course actually hoping for much better. I need to get under the floor and start cutting up my central heating! lol. . Mum called in with the paper and food donations, only to be exposed to my foul, short tempered, 'I need to be asleep' mood. . shortly after midday as we chatted, the 'freecycle' woman called at the door with her son for the portable TV. I suggested to him that overall, the size (depth) wasn't so different, and he 'may' wish to consider taking the (mum's old) Sony 24" instead. He WAS seduced by the idea of the bigger screen, and decided he WOULD like to have it instead. .SO heavy - it took the both of us to carry down to their car!! (Even had the manual and original receipts for that one! Well over 500 it originally cost Mum and Dad!!!!!!) . I made it clear they could have both if they wanted - and even gave them the option of having the 28", but that was going too big for them. The woman DID however say she would like the portable for herself if I didn't mind, so I was more than happy to let them have that one too! So - off they went with their car back seat full of old televisions, hopefully happy. I was VERY happy to have got rid of them. I STILL have three portables in the back bedroom cupboard - and the huge 28" on the floor in the corner of the living room!!!!! The portables I AM gonna keep for the forseeable future - but I can see that the 28" IS I'm afraid gonna end up at the tip. It's just too old technology for ANYONE to want, even for nothing. :o( . . . ate Mum donated pork pies and a slice of cake . . slept until the alarm at 7pm . . TVd (Dads Army). . walked . . TVd/PCd e-bay listings for hours and then this until early. . .ate two ham rolls and then bowls of stale sugar-puffs before eventually to bed around 4am as a bad storm with plenty rain noisily battered the house. a
11 - Up around 7:30am . . walked . . PCd for ages before eventually just biting the bullet and spending a HUGE amount more money on e-bay, just to get it over and done with! 2x Wire antenna insulators 3.80 ; 2x double female SO239 couplers 4.48 ; 10x pressure sleeve coax plugs for Rg-213 22.90 ; 100 Metres of RG213 50 0HM COAX CABLE 97.45. Loads more money, but that really should see me through most if not all of what I have in mind (plus!) for the forseeable future-ish. I really AM feeling pretty panicky now about all I've spent of late. Having said that, I guess I really should be looking at it all in terms of an investment for the future. In terms of a 'hobby' and the hours spent at it, I guess (assuming the radios don't soon break) it 'should' be a good return on the investment kinda. A bit like a TV if you look at it in the right way. If you spend a lot of time watching TV, and assuming the TV goes on for several years - the initial 'lump sum' you spend on the TV, isn't actually 'that' much, considering the 'hourly' amount! Nevertheless - I STILL feel panicky about it all!!!! Just to top off my final 'BIG' spending spree, I ALSO finally ordered a new high gain TV aerial, to once and for all get a decent signal from my in-attic setup. A Labgear High Gain 48-Element for 17.98. (ALL these amounts are including the considerable postage on each!). . Image of a slightly 'modified' Himound HK-705 morse code keymessed around for quite a while with my morse key, taking it all apart and cleaning it all up and lubricating it etc, as best I could. It actually cleaned up pretty well, and even the nasty 'replaced/taped over' knob doesn't look so bad after removal of the tape, and some gentle attention with some fine wet and dry paper to the filler which appears to have been dropped into its middle to secure the fixing bolt. Overall, I'm quite happy with it. Crazy thing is - I quite probably never will actually use it on-air! Having said that, in the face of all the (strangely 'distasteful'?) modern developments in ham radio (repeaters and internet hookups and QSOs on mobile phones and the like) I DO kinda fancy the idea of 'going retro' and maybe doing so one day - SLOWLY of course - oh so VERy slowly! lolol . . . went onto the local Yahoo 'freecycle' website and posted three 'offers' (my first ever). Individualy offered, up for grabs for nothing, my old 28" TV, Mums old 24", and the 14" portable which dog walker H gave me. Sadly it was one of those lists which has to be moderated, so the actual posts didn't materialise on their site for some hours - and then when they did, somehow the post for the 24" didn't make it! Not impressed with THAT! Fingers crossed someone will want them. I DESPERATELY need the space! . . ate Mum donated pie with chips . . napped but didn't really get to sleep, and then Mum phoned and left an ansaphone message, which woke me good and proper. . ended up back on the pc. Yayy - someone from freecycle had shown an interest in having the portable TV. Gave her a call and agreed she could have it for her son to play his Xbox on, and arranged she could pick it up tomorrow. (Also e-mailed her to confirm, and included pictures of the sockets, just to make sure it'd do what she wanted) . . PCd more listening to the scanner. I misssed the start of it, but something serious was going on. THe coastguard helicopter had been tasked to a offshore rescue. Fired up the AIS website and watched its track as it headed south, responding to the call. Heard mention on the radio of 'three casualties' and 'one person in the water - without buoyancy aids'! Apparantly the weather conditions here and there weren't good, and they ended up deciding that any casualty brought back would be delivered direct to the landing site at Torbay hospital! A local coastguard team was despatched to the hospital landing site to make the necessary arrangements. The helicopter eventually went out of the range of my disconne antenna and all I could hear was the one sided response of the coastguard. Image of PC/radio monitoring of a rescue at seaThe AIS website showed them heading straight out to sea (from the vicinity of Portland), across the BUSY channel shipping lanes, heading for a position which eventually turned out to be probably closer to the 'nose' of France than this country! (Don't the French have a SAR response? The AIS data was being fed into the website from Guernsey!). Because I'd missed the beginning of the incident, I had no idea of which ship they were heading for. That narrow English-channel really must be THE busiest shipping channel in the world! The AIS always makes it look like the M5 during rush hour! Eventually I managed to surmise the helicopter was heading directly for a group of three ships, with only a mile or two between them, which appeared to have 'out of the ordinary' headings and speeds. One in particular seemed a likely target - appearing to be heading almost due south, with a speed of only three or four knots - more or less stopped in the water! The 'Boxford' - a big container ship, under a Marshall Islands flag and apparantly heading for 'Gioia Tauro' wherever that may be? Sure enough, that WAS who they were heading for. They apparantly began a search for the man overboard - and zooming in on the AIS website, it was pretty clear from their track what was going on. .briefly returned Mums ansaphone call in the middle of all this, and let her know what was going on. There's something different about being aware of something like this, when it is actually happening - now. It's much more emotionally involving somehow. . at the same time all THIS was going on, ANOTHER shout had gone up. Someone with 'mental health issues' was missing along the coast somewhere around near Exmouth, and teams were mobilised to search. With the Portland helicopter already out, a helicopter was being mobilised from Chivenor to assist! It wasn't very long before the person was located and all were stood down. . . back to the 'main event' - all of a sudden the AIS trace indicated the helicopter was stationary, over an 'empty' bit of sea - for quite a while! Oh wow! They must have found the missing guy! They MUST be winching! That's been AGES! Hard to imagine anyone in the cold water could possibly have survived? . . I'm not sure why (weather?), but the helicopter decided NOT to land at Torbay hospital and instead was intending to head for Exeter airport. A coastguard team was sent to the airport. . All of a sudden, the AIS site showed the helicopter heading off north, making a bee-line for Exeter at a HIGH (130+?) rate of knots. . . with things appearing to be coming to an end, with the helicopter on its way to Exeter airport and a coastguard reception team, I finally got round to walking (late) - but took the scanner with me to keep listening of course. Good grief - I don't think I've EVER heard such a busy night on the radio for the coastguard! ANOTHER shout went up, this time from someone over in Torquay. Someone had allegedly seen some kids with BMX bikes on Haldon pier - had heard a splash and shouts for help, and had then called the coastguard to report it. Coastguard teams and police were mobilised to start a shore-search and BOTH the inshore and all-weather lifeboats were also tasked to cross the bay to join in. Settled myself on a seat in BGdns and watched it all unfold before me in the dark. Awful thing to admit under the potential circumstances, but the whole evening of scanner listening was actually very - um -'entertaining' dare I say!! So many of the coastguard teams were involved, they assigned the different groups different callsigns - "Torbay Alpha", "Torbay Bravo", etc. A silly observation, but I really REALLY would NOT have wanted to have been in group C. Despite the potential seriousness of the situation, every time they used their radio it made me laugh. "Torbay CHARLIE". Torbay Charlie!!? I couldn't help it - I kept on imagining some clown-like figure with a red nose and big feet all dressed up in blue coastguard overalls!! lolol. . The search of the Torquay harbour shoreline went on for quite some time. The all-weather lifeboat even launched a couple of illuminating flares - just visible from my several miles distant vantage point. The SAR helicopter eventually re-surfaced from dropping off its casualty at Exeter airport, and was called back in by the coastguard to help with a quick FLIR search of the area. (They were advised to be aware that people were letting off chinese lanterns in the vicinty - and reported 'visual' on them!) What an amazing life those guys have. To cut a long (and HUGELY expensive!) story short, after an intensive search onshore and off, no trace of anyone was found and everyone was gradually stood down. As I eventually headed back home, one of the coastguard teams in Torquay was apparantly having trouble with a group of drunks, and was in the middle of trying to stop a fight!! For goodnes sake!! Calls for assistance went out and all the other coastguard teams and police were heading their way.eventually returned home around 10pm. Returned Mums ansaphone call. Apparantly she'd just heard a report about the rescue on the local radio news! . . TVd and caught the local news. Mention WAS made of the rescue. They didn't go into any detail about what had happened, but according to their report, everyone was ok - despite one guy having been in the water for over an hour!!! (Eventually found the following report on the BBC news website: - "Two men have been rescued from the sea after a trawler and a merchant shipping vessel collided off south Devon. They went overboard when a container ship, the Boxford, and a trawler, the Admiral Blake, collided about 30 miles south of Start Point. The coastguard rescue helicopter at Portland was scrambled and the Salcombe lifeboat was launched to find the men. One was found after nearly an hour in the water and was taken to hospital with severe hypothermia. The rescue operation was coordinated by Brixham Coastguard which received a mayday call shortly before 1845 GMT on Friday. The Admiral Blake was reportedly taking on water but not in danger of sinking. One man was pulled from the sea within minutes of the collision. Several other vessels joined in the search for the second man including the Amber J, the Geeske, the passenger vessel Oriana and the rescue boat from the Boxford. The man was eventually located shortly after 1930 GMT by the Boxford rescue boat. He was then winched aboard the Coastguard Rescue helicopter and taken to the landing site in Exeter before being transferred to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital with severe hypothermia. A rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose was sent to the Admiral Blake to bring a salvage pump and assess the condition of the first crewman to be recovered. A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the Admiral Blake suffered extensive damage in the collision but was towed to the Plymouth lifeboat before being taken into Plymouth." . . . TVd/PCd for hours and didn't get to bed until around 4am or later!!
10 - Up around 8am !! Rain. Sore mouth. . . walked in the rain and mud, kept walking while throwing Bella's ball, and didn't hang around much before heading straight back. Not pleasant . . . TVd briefly before PCing a bit of this . . the postman delivered the SWR meter . . eventually played around with the meter having a go at checking the SWR of the disconne antenna with the VX-2 handheld. Things did NOT go well! I've a horrible feeling that the meter has a minimum required power input to work - and the watt and a bit which the handheld puts out on the internal battery, just isn't enough to get a reliable reading. :o( That's bad news. Having that combination work together, was one of the deciding factors about why I went for THAT particular meter! Eventually had more success using the FT-767, so I 'think' the meter works ok - and the SWR of the disconne IS quite acceptable/safe (albeit degraded by my having hung all that wire around the attic too close-by!). . .ate tuna and mayo sandwiches and many biscuits. . napped . . walked with the VX-2 radio and had a very brief contact (just to prove the radio was capable) with an amateur just across town. I STILL haven't managed to access the local repeater with the damn thing. I SO should be able to - especially from BGdns! Pretty much line of sight from it! I'm pretty sure the truth is, I simply haven't learned how to set the radio up properly to reliably do so. All in good time. .sat on a bench under the roof in BGdns, because I was playing radio and needed not to have to be 'on guard' for her behaviour, I'd put Bella back on her lead. Good job as it turned out. Incredibly as we were sat there in the dark, at least two badgers appeared, foraging nearby and racing around! I've never seen THAT there before, despite all the many, MANY night time hours I've spent around the place. WHAT a priveledge to see. Amazing they weren't 'particularly' concerned about our presence - and at one point, one of them came within twenty feet of us, up to the edge of the concrete beneath the roof! Bella obviously didn't have a clue (thankfully!) - but of course showed quite some interest. Marvellous. A real priveledge. . .TVd feeling pretty yucky due to my sore mouth. The bad news about that is, it's NOT sore from where I pulled the tooth out. It's sore from an apparantly ulcerated area of gum nearby!!? I'm hoping that was caused by the wobbling tooth before I removed it. Time will tell. Sure is unpleasantly painful. . ate two sausages, four eggs half a tin of baked beans and four pieces of bread and butter . . to bed around 1am.
9 - Woken around 7:30am by Bella barking, as the postman called to deliver two packages. Gosh I'm tired of all this. . opened the packets. Wow - that Rg58 coax with T pieces and terminators win for 4.20 DOES appear to be a good deal. All looks in fine shape and the coax is actually terminated in professionally 'bonded on' BNC plugs. I HAD intended to probably cut it up for patch leads and such like, but that's gonna make it a shame to do so! . . the 12.50 morse key (VERY well packed with MUCH padding all around it - in a scented box!! lol) ALSO appears to be a good buy - despite the drawback of the yucky modified handle/knob with old peeling PTFE tape over the top. It even came with a lead and big stereo plug on the end. As it'd appeared in the listing photo, it HAS been screwed onto a not unattractive, heavy white marble base! Everything is there and appears to work, so with a clean up and some felt (or maybe even rubber?) on the bottom of the marble, I reckon it should be quite functional exactly as it is. Keeping an eye out in diy stores/charity shops/car boot sales for a suitably different knob, can be an ongoing little 'hobby'. lol. All in all - that was all WELL worth the modest amount I paid. :o) Excellent. . .walked the woods. Big mistake. Oh the MUD!!!! Washed Bella (and me!) off in the sea at Fishcombe cove on the way back . . PCd the remainder of the morning away . ate two sausages, eggs, chips and half a tin of baked beans . . napped . . tu . walked . . TVd/guitarred/PCd/radiod - a full set! . my wobbly lower front tooth has been causing me some considerable 'discomfort' of late. CONSIDERABLE discomfort!!! Today it seemed to build up even worse, with my bottom lip and a good section of my lower jaw all feeling a bit numb under the pain. Ground me down a bit and made the evening pretty miserable. Sucked an annadin tablet and at some point in the early hours in front of the PC/radio, I FINALLY managed to get a good hold on it and just pull the damn thing out! Around an inch long, it left a nasty BIG hole in my red-raw gum!!!! I can't actually bite pieces off anything any more (haven't been able to for quite a while) - and that gap right in the front DOES seem to have altered my speech slightly - which HAS been one of my worst fears about losing them all. :o( . . heard the most bizarre 'conversation' on the 80mtr ham band before I finally went to bed (English accents). It appeared to be just a big argument about politics, terrorism, conspiracy theories and all manner of nonsense!! I've never heard anything like it on the amateur bands before! Totally out of order! Atrocious behaviour - and not a callsign in sight during the period I could stomach listening! Reminded me of illegal CB days at its worst! I trust that is not a representative example of how things have gone!! :o( Things really do seem to have changed quite a bit since I last listened to any of it. Now, I know I only have a dodgy wire strung around the attic and all, but I'm convinced there is a HUGE amount more general interference and hissing and popping than there used to be. Something to do with EVERYTHING, EVERWHERE having gone electric and wireless in the past couple of decades maybe? . . eventually to bed around 3am, without daring to try eating anything. :o( as
8 - Up around 9am !! Foggy out . . walked real late. Took the scanner with me for the first time in ages. Heard the coastguard were called out to some woman up to her waist in the water, over by Goodrington somewhere (I think). Everyone was stood down when they were informed she was safely out of the water and in the hands of the police and ambulance people. Wonder what THAT was all about? Dementia maybe? . .returned to find the front gate wide open. Damn - I've missed 'something' (postman?). . . spent hours and hours meticulously balancing my accounts. Big struggle because of all the little bits and pieces I've been buying, and the transferring-over of multiple bits of my savings to cover it. Got there in the end by late afternoon! My accounts are all looking much depleted for sure - but no need to call the coastguard - I'm still 'afloat'. Phew. :o) SUCH a relief to finally get a grip on things again. Whenever I don't 'do my accounts' for any length of time, I start to feel permanently filled with panic. . YIKES!!! I made the mistake of totting up every penny I've spent on the 'radio shack' project, since I started getting back into it late last year (starting with the VX-2 handheld). NOT including the price of the USC230 scanner I already had, I've spent a wapping 1028!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JEEZUZ!! I KNEW I should never have totted that up - that's even more than I'd imagined it would be - and I STILL need to buy some expensive coax, SWR meter(s) and a handful of other bits and pieces - and maybe 'make' (!?) antennas etc, before I can even 'use' most of it! Jeeze!! WHAT a poverty trap!!!! That's well on the way to the cost of having central heating put in isn't it! I must be mad!!!! :o( Sure is a 'diversion' though. The days are just zipping by at the moment ( - and I'm not really even 'using it' yet)! Haven't got time to be dwelling on whatever my 'mood' may be doing. No bad thing. . . ate Mum donated ham and mayo rolls and a little chocolate . . napped . . PCd and delayed walking to watch the end of an e-bay auction or two I'd been watching. While waiting I ended up actually bumping into a newish listing, with only a 'Buy it Now' option - and after a bit of research, relatively quickly decided to just go for it. It was for an old "Welz SP-10X Swr Power Meter 1.8-150MHz 200W" - for 22.94 including postage. It certainly isn't what I'd imagine I'd end up with, but after reading the reviews etc, assuming it works, I think it should do all I want - for the time being at least. Rather than a permanent 'sit on the desk and look pretty' type, it seems to be more in the style of a piece of robust 'portable test equipment' kinda. I think that is more in keeping with the sort of use I can envisage me putting it to. Aside from all of that, it was about the cheapest meter to cover that sort of frequency range on e-bay at the time. I hope I haven't made a mistake. Right then - once I get my hands on that (and some coax), I'm all equipped to start thinking seriously about antennas proper, and even the possibility of having a go at making my own. . the other auction I've been watching was for an original instruction manual for the VX-2 handheld. I HAVE already long since downloaded it in PDF format, but I've found it really is a pain to be chained to the PC just to read a manual like that (like I am with the TV, vacuum, and various other radio manuals, etc.). Haven't had my printer working for months now, and even if I did print it out, it wouldn't be as handy as an original (and would probably cost more to print!) - so I put a token bid of a couple of pounds on before walking. . . next door called at the door around 8pm and handed me a packet they'd accepted this morning (aha - hence my open gate). It was the power lead for the TV. Excellent. :o). . walked late . . sadly I'd NOT won the auction for the VX manual. The only other person bidding had manually outbid me in the last few seconds whilst I was out. Oh well - shame, but no great loss. . PCd a bit of this and that, AND yet more e-bay list trawling. I admit to having developed a bit of a habit of watching auctions for stuff the same as I've already bought - just to keep an eye on whether or not I've burned my fingers on any of it. So far, all looks reasonably okish. Nothing has 'particularly' leapt out at me, as having been something I've paid 'far' too much for thank goodness. . PCd this until gone 1am. .ate tuna and mayo sandwiches, a banana, and a square or two of chocolate. . to bed around 3am.
7 - Up around 7:30am . . walked in the strong (50mph?) gusts and rain. Evil! . . knocked up a patch lead for the TV, intending to experiment to see if the satellite signal was strong enough to split - which would have enabled me run the sky box aswell as the TV. Messed around for ages knocking up the lead only to eventually discover, the splitter I was trying to use (left over from cable TV days in Bristol) was for a completely different frequency. As soon as I attached it to the satellite cable, it just attentuated the signal down to nothing! Waste of time all that was then! . . the postman delivered the vacuum cleaner belts . . eventually decided - to hell with it all! What IS the point of trying to hook up all my old junk to run lots of old out of date televisons all over the place, as nothing more than 'monitors'? Just isn't worth all the bother. Disconnected the sky box and freeview box and all the associated leads and stashed them in the overflowing back bedroom for the time being. Also shifted the old CRT portable out of the kitchen and added that to the mess. (Can't even actually get IN the room anymore - and my old main TV is still on the floor of the living room!!!!!!) It's gonna take me a while to get used to the idea, but I am sorry to say, I think I'm gonna just have to try to give away all the old 4:3 CRT TVs I've amassed (via Yahoo freecycle?). (Six in total now I think?!!!!) Trouble is, from what I've seen - I may not even be able to GIVE them away. Even though they all work perfectly, they are SO old technology now, I can see I may end up just taking them to the tip!!!!!! Heartbreaking. Scandalous. :o( . . pcd . I'd been watching an auction for a morse key like the one I won the other day, but in rather better condition, EXCEPT, it had some cracks in the hinge mounts. Presumably for that reason, it did NOT sell for the minimum starting bid (which with the postage would have put it up around 20). Suprised myself by getting all cheeky, and actually mailed the seller after the auction had ended, asking if he'd be willing to let it go for 10 (inc postage!!!). His one word reply was "NO". lol He immediately relisted it as previously. . . eventually tore myself away from the auction listings and got serious with the 'new' vaccuum cleaner. Removed the brush and attempted to get to the bottom of why it was SO stiff (which had clearly been the cause of the belt breaking). Turned out things were worse than they at first appeared. Somehow a mass of what appeared to be mostly fine dark hair, together with some nylon (carpet?) strands, had entered behind a dust seal and become wound around the roller end bearing. Amazingly it'd all become so tight and wedged in, it'd actually aparantly stopped the bearing from moving! The plastic cap covering it all, had actually partially melted in place as a result! Managed to eventually prise the cap off and then used various small sharp implements and some fine nosed pliers, to tease out all the gunk, hair and fibres as best I could. At length, I managed to get the bearing moving again, albeit less than smoothly! Eventually cleaned everything up, fitted the new belt and dared to give it a go. It works - but I'm not sure how long it'll last before that bearing gives up completely, jams, and snaps the belt again. When it does, I'll have to see how much new roller assemblies are, before deciding on its fate. . did vacuuming. OH MY GOD! Does that vaccuum work better than my old one!! (Why????) I can't believe the clouds of dust it was kicking up from the carpets, that my old one doesn't even seem to find. So much so in fact, that it seems likely I'm going to suffocate and kill the motor with all that dust, BEFORE the brush bearing gives out!! Had to open all the windows and doors when doing the kitchen/diner/living room!! HUGE clouds of dust rose into the air from the pile of the carpet and carpet tiles - all from back when I did all the building work and plastering/ filling etc - never mind all the new layers of mud dust from Bella. Breathtaking! Hard to believe so much of it could all be ingrained like that, and not touched by my other vaccuum. Everything everywhere is now covered in dust again/more - much!! . A negative about that vacuum seems to be its ability to cope with Bellas hair. I lost count of the number of times I had to disconnect the hose to clear blockages. No way will it survive long under such EXTREME conditions. Nevertheless - for what it cost me - NICE ONE! :o). . the strange weather suddenly improved during the afternoon and went all calm and almost sunny spells . . ate Mum donated pie with chips, followed by a square of chocolate . . napped until just before 7pm. . walked in the chill. Actually quite a pleasant evening. Sat for ages listening to the scanner drinking a coffee and having cigs . . radiod/PCd for hours again, largely reading up on home-brew 2mtr antennas of all things!!! I am so, SO tempted to have a go at making a simple j-pole or similar type (once I've managed to score a suitable SWR meter from somewhere). They really do look pretty simple and effective - although I VERY much fancy the idea of trying one of the copper-tube-design ones I've seen detailed on various sites. There's something enticing about maybe being able to re-use some of the old, redundant, central heating pipework, which I've yet to remove from beneath all the floors. lol . . . ate chicken soup and two bread rolls and a Mum donated currant bun after 2am . . to bed at 3am.
6 - Woke around 7:30am, snuggled with Bella for a bit before getting up. . walked . . radiod and attempted to have a listen to the RSGB news again, just to see if it was being received better with my spaghetti of wire in the attic. It WAS better - but not much. . registered with 'QRZ.COM' and eventually updated the information that was ALREADY on there for my callsign!?! It was showing my full address in Bristol. I guess they must have originally populated that with some publicly available register (Offcom?) of licenced callsigns or some such? Bizarre how many people had looked up my callsign already. Sorry guys - you must have misheard - certainly wasn't me you heard, whenever it was you thought you did. . . Mum called to touch base . . PCd a bit of this . . surfed and checked I had the downloaded manual and all the wiring diagrams I needed, to have a look at the wiring of the 'not working' MD-1 base mic, before then carefully removing the plug cover from one end of the base section mic lead. Only took a minute to see that something was not right at all. Hang on - oh my god, WHAT a TOTAL plonker I am!!!!! How obvious is THAT! I MUST be going senile - I really must! I'd simply plugged the wrong leads into the wrong sockets when I'd assembled the mic! What a dick head! Switched the leads around and - it works perfectly - the up, fast, down scan buttons, the lot. :o) . . ate something or other but I can't remember what!? . . napped . . walked . . PCd all evening and deep into early looking at all manner of e-bay adverts and then reading ALL the posts on the yahoo group dedicated to the FT-767 radio. I think I've pretty much read them all now (more than once!) . I've also studied everything I've managed to find about how to replace the blown meter bulbs. Looks to be something of a real fiddly hassle - involving opening the thing right up and de-soldering or splicing into the old bulb legs! On top of that, most people who've done it are recommending replacing them with LEDs and resistors instead of compatable bulbs. I think I can live without trying any of that right away thank you very much!! . . eventually to bed somewhere around 4am!!
5 - Up around 8:10am . .walked . . PCd, trawling through e-bay listings. . the postman delivered the balun I'd ordered. . Mum called in despite her bad leg, with the paper and food donations! . . spent the next MANY hours messing around with the balun and a spool of wire I had in the garage . Soldered a couple of PL259s on the ends of the 10m length of RG58 I bought, and ran the cable up into the attic through the existing hole in the corner of the PC room. Screwed the balun on the end and then attached the end of the spool of wire to the other end of the balun. Used cable clips to drape the wire all over the attic in a multiple zig zag arrangement across all the roof timbers. Didn't want to ruin the long length of nice (multi strand earth) cable for such a temporary arrangement, so I didn't even cut off the end - just left the remaining wire wound on the spool and dumped on the floor of the attic! Hardly a proper 'antenna' - but hopefully good enough for just a bit of listening on the HF bands, and surely MUST be better than the disconne. . eventually attached the set up to the FT767 and had a listen arround for quite a while. Well - it's better - but it ain't good. . even dared to actually transmit to a local station on one of the bands at one point (40mtrs I think it was) just to prove THAT side of the radio was actually working for the first time. I 'think' the balun is doing its job and enabling the on-board tuner to match to the dreadfully-not-at-all-resonant wire, although the radio seems to 'maybe' have an issue/fault with the tuner display. Hard to tell at the moment. I have NO intention of making a habit of transmitting with such a 'flakey' antenna setup!! RF into the room was obviously an issue. Just keying up to test the SWR and antenna tuner resulted in my PC speakers going nuts!! Every time I keyed up the radio, the PC announced I'd connected something to my audio jack!!! NOT good!! God only knows what sort of interference I may be causing the neighbours with that bit of wire - never mind the 'health issues' for anyone in next doors converted-attic room!!! lolol . . eventually called it quits and left it like that for the time being . . walked and sat and played ball in the drizzle and wind. I guess I just needed a break from all the radio and PC mess I've been drowning in - I decided despite the weather to walk all along the outer harbour path and back via town. That turned into a hassle. The small walkway next to the new fish market turned out to be barricaded closed with 'works' (?) being done - and will be until March!! What that meant was I had to walk all the way back, up the steep slope out of the car parks and detour back down into the inner harbour via the cliff top roads! I wouldn't have minded 'quite' so much, if someone had bothered to put up notices at the end of the car park on that path telling you, and saving you all that wasted long walk! Anyone visiting the town and parking in those car parks, will find themselves with the same long arduous detour!!! That's really bad! . . . TVd. Damn - the signal from my loft aerial is down, making some of the terestrial channels unwatchable again! I knocked it out of alignment when messing around earlier. I AM gonna HAVE to get a better TV aerial up there. !! :o( . . .ate a pack of Mum donated mini pork pies, crisps, banana and a little chocolate . . TVd . . cooked and ate four sausages in buttered bread rolls . . struggled to stay awake and eventually to bed somewhere after 11pm.
4 - Up around 7:30am . .Mild out but still blowing a gale. . breakfasted coffee, smokes and annadin at the PC, mostly over e-bay. I've MANY things still in my watch list on e-bay, despite now having to be VERY much more 'controlled' in what I'm tempted to throw my remaining money away on! One of the ones I'd stumbled across and been watching was listed as "Morse code Transmitter". It was nothing of the sort. From the hard to make out pictures, it was in fact an old Himound Hk-705 morse code key - perhaps stuck onto a heavy piece of marble base - and although hard to make out from the pictures, it was pretty clear the actual knob on the top was in some sort of incomprehensibly worn-away and dreadful condition, with maybe even a little rust elsewhere!? Perhaps for this reason (or the poor listing /categorisation /description), no one had yet put a bid on it. The minimum bid was for 7.50 with a wapping 5 postage!! Despite the condition of it, I was VERY suprised to find this morning that STILL no bids had been made. After having been keeping an eye on things of late, I've been AMAZED at the high prices morse keys have been fetching! (I used to have a couple - and yes, practically gave them away when I sold everything! It may be 'inapropriate', but I AM finding myself trying to 'turn back time' and get hold of once again, one or two items exactly as I had before!!!) I have a suspicion that key 'collectors' (yes- really - how weird!) are keeping prices high! A 'in pristine condition' key of the same type (I think), is currently on e-bay with bids up to 24.55 (including postage) with a day yet to run. Brand new on the web they are advertised for 44.95!!!! Despite its condition and high postage - I put a 10 maximum bid on it before heading out to walk Bella. The auction was due to end whilst I was out. I fully expected NOT to win it. . . walked in the gale and mud. Breifly 'dipped' Bella in the sea on the beach to wash all the mud off before heading back . . TVd briefly . . PCd and - well I'll be darned. I'd won the morse key auction - 12.50 including postage!! Well - as far as I can make out from the pictures, I reckon with a bit of a clean and the fashioning of a new knob, it could well be very ok for that money. :o) We'll see - fingers crossed. . PCd this . . radiod just briefly before having a bit of a look at the new TV set up. That 'bit of a look' ended up lasting most of the rest of the day!! . suffice it to say, I have AT LAST - after all these years of trying, ended up being able to use the TV as a PC monitor for my old PC from the comfort of my sofa using the infa red keyboard. FINALLY! With my deteriorating eyesight, it IS still a bit of a squint for me from across the room at times, but it IS quite doable. Actually played around for a bit surfing here and there (Youtube/e-bay/BBC I-player etc) just to see how it was. It's SO acceptable, it DOES beg the question why anyone buys a PC monitor these days (like I just have! lol)!? I HAD dabbled with the idea of getting a TV with a PC connection for the main PC room monitor - but never having had one or seen one connected to a PC, wasn't sure if it really would do the job, so didn't. Well - now I know - it DOES do the job, very nicely indeed. Just looks like a fully functioning HUGE PC monitor, currently running at 1,280 768 pixels. In an ideal world - I'd have two 'monitors' running from the one PC, because I'd still like to have my small 15" flat-screen next to me, so I could do both the PC and TV at the same time, and switch the TV to PC view when desired. I need to research if/how is best to maybe acheive that in the future. . also found during my experiments, that the signal from the attic TV aerial WAS 'just' capable of giving me ALL the terestrial channels (including the HD ones!) IF I removed the split I had in the cable to feed the old freeview/sky boxes. Sadly, doing that means I can no longer watch my 'slave' TVs in the kitchen and PC room. The kitchen one I WILL miss, but I can live with that (until I figure out a workaround). As for the one in the 'PC/radio room'- I've too much on my plate to ever have that one on these days, and would be better off having the 'table space' for radios anyway. . . around 4:15pm the post office delivered a parcel, which turned out to be the Swiftech M-168 marine radio. Eventually called a halt to the TV thing (with LOTS more experiments and setting up yet to do) and unwrapped the radio and quickly temporarily set it up in 'the shack' on the 12volt power supply, connected to the disconne antenna, to make sure it worked. As I messed around temporarily setting it up, listening on the scanner I caught a bit of radio traffic from the coastguard helicopter (out of Portland) , flying around out across Lyme bay. Fired up the PC and using that marvellous, new-to-me AIS website, zoomed in and watched it's progress. According to what I heard - it chose a bulk carrier ship at random, called up the captain, and asked if it'd be ok for them to drop a crewman and some equipment down onto his deck and then pick him up again - presumably for a bit of ad-hoc training. On the AIS site it was possible to zoom RIGHT in and watch as the ship and helicopter position indicators on the map, got closer and closer and eventually 'became one' - before seperating for a bit while the helicopter stood off and circled, etc. Amazing what ya can do these days ain't it? The gale blowing outside the window was attrocious. Just imagine what that must have been like for the crewman on the winch!!!! I guess no point in them practicing such a thing in nice weather - because nice weather isn't so much when they have to do it for real! . . Downloaded the Swiftech instruction manual and eventually dared to turn it on. I can't check transmit of course, but it appears to work and receive as it should (I've yet to learn how to scan, etc.). Promptly went back on-line and re-found the instructions for expanding its receive coverage to include coastguard channel 0, and went straight ahead and did the required sequence. key the mic and keep it keyed ; switch on ; press and release the M1/2 button ; press and release the CLR button ; release the mic key ; switch-off. Worked a treat. :o) Although there is no manual or mounting bracket in the box, other than that, it really IS like brand-new/unused. Another 'string to my bow', which will largely have to wait until I have a proper dedicated antenna for it and somewhere 'proper' to put it. Already I'm starting to think about having to build shelves for everything I'm getting, to have it all nicely to hand and useable.. . quickly e-bayed and successfully won another auction I've been watching. Paid 4.20 including postage for 10 meters of RG58 coax, 3 BNC T connectors, and two BNC terminators. That'll be a pretty good deal as long as the cable isn't shot. I WILL need lots more cable eventually (always!) - but preferably now all low loss RG213! THAT ain't cheap! . .walked . . TVd . . ate the second half of the pot of curry with four pieces of bread and butter and later some chocolate biscuits . . TVd/guitarred/PCd on the TV! . . touched base with BB . . TVd/guitarred/PCd until bed around 3am. s
3 - Up very late around 8:45am!!! . .headachey. Annadine coffee and smoke for breakfast . . walked in the relatively mild temperatues and sunny spells, and played ball on the beach rather than in the mud . . TVd briefly before ending up back in the PC/radio room, intending to belatedly mail the seller of the radio to confirm it'd safely arrived. .couldn't resist putting the radio on to monitor stuff, and soon heard one of the (very) local amateurs calling on 145.525mhz. Seems to be their local chat channel. I seem to recall something similar back up in Bristol years ago - where everyone chatted on a particular simplex frequency. 'Radio Four' I 'think' they nicknamed it back then. . too good an opportunity to miss, sweating and shaking like a leaf, I gave him a call asking for a radio check. Suffice it to say, the radio appeared to work, and somehow, I ended up 'chatting' the whole rest of the morning - to him and briefly one other!!!!!!!!!!!!! ME - 'chatting'!!! lololol Anyway - it proved the radio and discone antenna work on that band at least (albeit SO locally, I could almost have opened a window and just shouted! lol) I even briefly re-tested the handheld too. He may have a 'surplus' antenna up for grabs! Ooooooo. .Feels VERY weird, what with the new TV AND the radios. A noteably whole new phase of my life kinda. more headache/annadin tablet . . FINALLY managed to get a reply off to the radio seller, thanking him for doing such a good job with the packaging . . nothing in the mail today???? lolol. . . PCd a bit of this - at length. .did NOT win another e-bay auction I've been watching for days, for a small portable flatscreen TV (to replace the big old CRT portable in my kitchen?). I showed appropriate restraint. It went dirt cheap to someone else! Humph. . Mailed the TV seller about the missing power lead. He quickly replied, apologised, and said he'd post it. :o) . . Had a quick look at the AIS website the loacal amateur had recommended (which he supplies AIS received data for!) http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ . Wow - that IS a good site! MUCH better than the fixed one I've been sticking with (and actually checking most days). It's got all the functionalty of Google maps and zooming-in, etc. Impressive. All change! . . Blimey - haven't hardly left the PC/radio room ALL day! Poor bored Bella, downstairs somewhere on her own! Actually - I'm getting tired of not really knowing what to call it and typing 'PC/radio room'! I shudder at the thought, because I HATE the (US ham radio?) term, but I may well end up calling this room 'the shack' - simply because its easier!!!!! Yuuuk. . . walked. Jeeze - blowing a gale (force 8 'damaging' gusts?)! See, see - it's exactly this sort of weather which makes me NOT prepared to put up lots of 'fragile' aerials outside! . . Returned from the exertion of the walk (hard to walk battling the wind) feeling rather unwell and STILL awful headachey. Lack of food!! . . cooked up a huge lump of defrosted old 'dog food' meat with a jar of curry sauce and eventually ate a big bowl of half of it with boiled rice and four pieces of bread and butter followed by some squares of chocolate . .TVd, very much struggling to stay awake, STILL very headachey!! . To bed soon after 10pm with the strong winds absolutely lashing the house - but happily, no howling noise from my windows.
2 - Up around 5am!!! . . PCd/e-bayed - at length. Oh no!!!!!!! I've spotted an auction for a TV 'of interest'!!! :o( It's a second-hand one of those I'd fancied with the built in HDs - and SHOULD have bought new a few months ago, before all the prices went up by hundreds of pounds! Panasonic TX-P42G20 42" Plasma. That's gonna be an agonising decision for a bit! My bank accounts are ALREADY looking in pretty poor shape!! I'm not sure I dare. :o( It is NOT in perfect condition according to the e-bay listing and photos. Has 'scratches/scuff marks' on the base and case! Despite that, seems to me, as long as it's otherwise in good shape (the screen basically!) it's gotta be worth SERIOUSLY considering! So far, with two days to run, there were no bids with a start price of 350 - BUT - there was also a 'Buy It Now' option for 425 (plus 23.99 for delivery). I could just bid, block the buy it now option and hope for the best - or dither and someone 'could' swoop in and just buy it (like I did the radio the other day)! The trouble with bidding was, based on my research of recently sold identical TVs, it was quite likely to go for quite a bit more than the buy it now price (despite the scuff marks)! That model of TV, second-hand in perfect condition, has been selling on e-bay recently for OVER 500!! Arrrrrggghhhh - what to do?!!!! I mailed the seller: "Are there any 'scuff' marks etc to the actual screen? Does it come with the box and would pick up in person // be an option for the winning bidder? Reason for sale? Regards T". . . walked early around 7:30am.. Pausing in the gutter just up the street while Bella had a pee, I heard a car door slam. Walked into the road and looked back, and sure enough, it was the postman delivering packets to my house. Raced back calling out (which got Bella all barking and crazy!) and managed to grab the packets before he took them away again. Dumped them inside and quickly got back to the walk . . Opened the packets. One was the in very poor condition SWR meter/matcher, and the other the new cable and sockets. . . . did laundry and quickly dared to shower (half expecting the radio 'could' be delivered today) before inevitably ending up back on the PC. Received a reply about the TV! "no scuff marks to screen, screen is excellent. Comes with box and remote,mains lead. Collection is fine if paying paypal or cash. I am selling due to divorce." I agonised some more and checked my bank accounts (quickly!)!!!! Not much left! In for a penny in for a pound?I eventually mailed him back around 9:47am "As yet there are no bids. If you are prepared to immediately remove the listing and accept 400 - I'll make immediate payment via paypal and would seek to be able to pick it up (pre wrapped/boxed?) at your earliest convenience (today?)." and included my phone number - and then "Oh . . by the way . . sorry about the circumstances surrounding the reason for sale."!! . .. Seemed like an awfully long anxious wait. During this anxious time, I must admit I think I strayed into the 'twilight zone' a bit! Don't ask me how, but I ended up spotaneously impulse bidding on yet another e-bay auction!! For a 'SWIFTECH M-168 VHF MARINE RADIO' of all things! Damn it all if no one else bid, and I won the thing - for 50 including postage!!! What on EARTH was I thinking!! (Actually - I was thinking, that's a good deal - could be re-sold probably for more, especially down here - and would be cool to have as a dedicated marine channels monitoring radio.) This e-bay/spending my savings thing has all gotten COMPLETELY out of hand! It MUST stop - NOW! . . I got a reply about the TV around 10:46am "I would be happy to do that. // You can collect this afternoon if you wantd to." . Yikes! I'm gonna do it! Immediately transferred my savings into my account and did the 400 paypal payment before mailing him back to confirm. . Touched base with Mum to confirm she'd be willing to house sit later (just in case the radio IS due for delivery today). . Some little while after, he phoned me to confirm it was a done deal, and to give me the collection address etc. for after 1:30pm (he wouldn't be there). . googled the address and used the streetview thingy to do a dummy drive to the place. . touched base with Mum and agreed I'd pick her up later . . PCd a bit of this . . . somewhere around midday, the post office parcel driver arrived with the radio. Oh no! OH NO!!!!! The box had a big dent in the side where it had obviously suffered a BIG impact. That did NOT bode well. In fact - so unlikely was it that it would have survived that, and with the TV thing now my immediate priority, I just plonked the heavy box down on the floor of the hallway and unhappily left it for later. . told Mum it'd arrived but she agreed to housesit anyway, to keep Bella company. . early afternoon left Bella at home and drove to pick up Mum before returning to settle her in for her dog sitting duties. . headed out in the car to pick up the TV . . found the place no bother after my 'google drive through'. Only 'just' managed to fit it (boxed) in the back of the car!!!!! . . back home to find Mum busying herself doing all my mountain of dishwashing chores! Unbeknown to me, she'd come armed with marigold gloves for the purpose! :o) . . unwrapped the TV, assembled and fitted the base mount. The 'scuff marks' to the base in particular WERE pretty bad, but actually really rather unnoticeable. The screen looked spotless. Then I discovered the power lead was missing!!!! Oh no! :o( Thankfully, it turned out to be a standard 'kettle' type, as used on all PCs etc etc etc, so I just dug a spare one out from my trunk of junk and used that. No manual so took me a while to find the on switch!! lol Auto retuned and soon had a picture. Image of a Panasonic TX-P42G20 42" Plasma TelevisionBoy - is that a BIGGGggg screen compared to what I'm used to. And SUCH a good picture - and that's not even HD yet! (although I think some of the settings need altering to suit MY eye.) :o) Sadly - what I'd feared 'could' happen, HAS! My crappy old 'thrown away by someone' TV aerial I have propped up in the attic, appears not to be capturing enough signal for the new TV. I'd suspected this could be an issue whenever I finally got round to getting a new TV. Several of the channels had a poor signal and were pretty much unwatchable (despite being totally ok on the old equipment - which I have actually kept in situ and routed into the new TV via a scart, so I can still keep everything else as-was and perfectly watchable for the time being). I'm gonna have to re-visit my loft aerial setup - and maybe even invest in a new high gain one, like worked ok for Mums. Oh well - that can wait. . . Image of a Post Office damaged parcel deliveryMum wanted to see (the state of?) the radio, so before she went, I finally dared to open the box (AFTER having taken photos of the damage, just in case I was going to have to be trying to make a claim against the post office!!) Oh WOW! That guy really DID put a lot of effort into packaging it up as best he could. The (damaged) box was considerably oversized, and the radio was right in the middle of it, all wrapped in bubble-wrap, and surrounded on all sides by lots of screwed up newspaper. It had NOT been damaged and was fully intact. YAYYYYYY! Oh thank god, thank god - or more correctly, thank you to the guy who sent it. All credit to him for a job done laboriously well. I need to thank him - and will. Mum indicated she'd like to see if it turned on, but I wasn't willing to rush things and wanted to read the manual before I did so. (As it turned out - good job too! Later, I found 'Drive' was on high, and the 'MOX ' button was pressed in - which I 'think' would have resulted in instant transmit on full power if turned on!) . . . eventually all drove to drop Mum off before returning the car round back . .TVd some more and quickly unscrewed the satellite dish lead from the sky box, and screwed it straight into the socket on the back of the TV. A quick re-tune, and all the free-satellite channels came in without a hitch - and where available, FULL HD!!!! Wow - that IS a pretty sharp picture!! WOW! Look at the dust/brush marks on the back of that actors coat! lol. . PCd just briefly. Had a bit of unsettling to and fro communication about the marine radio I'd won. Either they aren't used to selling stuff on e-bay, or there is something fishy about the deal. That's gonna keep me all uptight and anxious until I get it (or my money back?) now!. . walked . . TVd - big and high def! It feels oh SO wrong that I own such a modern, high spec TV!! It just doesn't feel as though I should be - um - 'allowed' to!??? Very weird feelings. Hard to explain. I guess it's gonna take a while before it's 'just my TV'.. . touched base with Mum . . . PCd and read the TV manual and then radiod reading THAT manual, until deep into early. I've MUCH to learn about it, but there are a couple of problems with it I've identified already. Image of a Yaesu FT-767GX, MD-1 mic,  Uniden USC230-E, Yaesu VX-2 and AR-3000The panel meter lamp isn't working, and nor are any of the switches on the base part of the MD-1 microphone (although the mic CAN be plugged in without, and awkwardly keyed up using the difficult onboard slide switch). Managed to use the inbuilt SWR meter to check the discone antenna SWR was safe, and then dared to transmit on 2mtrs. STILL unable to access the local repeater (!!) and no one else around so late, so who knows if its working or not (although using the scanner/hand-held for monitoring, it DOES seem to be)!! It DOES also appear to be receiving across the bands ok. So, on the whole, I'm quite happy. Even if nothing else works, I've got myself a nice expensive receiver to listen on. lol It IS a joy to have a nice smooth(ish)-running VFO type tuning knob again after all these years (The 'click stop' on the AR-3000 is AWFUL!). . .exhausted! TVd and ate tuna and mayo sandwiches with crisps and chcocolate biscuits, immediately before finally to bed around 3am. Not enough hours in the day! s
1 - Up around 7:30am. . 9C in , +4C out. . walked in a hint of drizzle . bumped into a neighbour (actually a 'silent' radio ham apparantly, so I'd learned! BIG extendable tower in his back yard - with nothing but a flag on top!) and finally had the opportunity to have a brief chat and ask if he had any equipment he was intending to part with. The answer was no. . did laundry . . PCd . . touched base with Mum . . PCd more. Still no contact about that damn vacuum cleaner!? . . e-bayed (of course) and surfed - and - yes - I'm afraid I spent a wadd more cash!!!!! I'm really not sure at all what I'm doing about this HF antenna thing, but I figured it IS worth me aiming to at least get 'some' sort of a 'long wire' type arrangement in the pipeline. Surfed and read up as best I could, and then ended up buying a "TRANSMITTING MAGNETIC BALUN 0.1 MHz to 50 MHz" for 27.95 including postage - as it happens, from the same seller I got all the other antennas from recently. In common with many other business sellers (so it seems) he not only does 'buy it now' fixed price deals, but also does parallel repeating 'auctions' of the same gear, at a few pounds cheaper starting price. (A way of 'advertising' and drawing customers to him I guess. It worked with me!) Anyway - the buy it now price was 32.95. I put in the only/minimum bid on the auction and - 'kinda' 'saved' myself a fiver I guess (depending on how you look at it). Anyway - armed with that once it comes - assuming I haven't misunderstood or overlooked something critical, theoretically, I 'should' be able to hook up some coax cable and a 'random' length of wire to it, and have 'something' of a 'useable' (receive at the very least) HF antenna to be going on with. We'll see!!! :o/. . STILL sat in front the PC at around 3:15pm, the vacuum cleaner seller called. Got some (very vague so it seemed to me!) instructions on how to get there, and raced to get straight in the car and on the road with Bella. Only a few miles, but once again, it seemed like an awful long way to me, given I never go anywhere anymore. Something of an 'adventure/expedition' for me!! Followed the guys directions as best I could - and once I'd got there, pretty quickly got completely lost in the maze of tiny, oh SO tiny streets! Even in my little 'noddy' car, I was only JUST able to negotiate some of them!!! Every house on every corner seemed to have gouges out of their walls, from passing vehicles who hadn't quite got it right! Luckily there was just enough battery left in my mobile to make a quick call, so I stopped and called the guy (damn - ansaphone!!) and left a message saying I was lost - but very near. Thankfully he pretty immediately called me back and was able to direct me the final few hundred metres I had to go. Eventually found the place (the guy was helpfully stood outside) and with little ado, embarassingly handed over the princely sum of 3, popped the vacuum in the passenger seat, and was pretty soon heading back through the tiny streets. Followed sign posts and haven't a clue what route I took, but eventually I was back home. Funny little footnote to this - when I got back home, a leaflet had been pushed through the door - 'Spick & Span', advertising a carpet cleaning service. lolol . Nervously (some insulation tape wrapped around the power chord part way down!) plugged it in and hey presto, it was going - although as had been accurately described in the e-bay listing, the roller brush wasn't rotating. Experimented with the tool attachments and actually tended to some of the red mud dust from Bella that covers everything everywhere. The jury is still out in my mind as to whether or not it actually has a great deal of suck (in comparison to the bigger motor in my old one) but it DID seem to do a pretty adequate job, and produced a good handful from the window cill and Bellas sofa. Carried it upstairs, wrote down all the details from the label, went online and downloaded the instruction manual, and then using the instructions, quickly and easily removed the two screws and the belt cover. (That's SO much easier than my old Panasonic!) Sure enough, the belt was broken. (Actually - the brush seemed pretty stiff and gummed up, so that 'may' have been why. That'll need sorting and 'easing' before I reassemble it. A whole new brush wouldn't go amiss, but I'm not up for that expense.) Used it to vaccuum inside itself a bit.lol . Left it opened-up on the landing (where it will remain until I have a replacement belt) and immediately went online and ordered a 'Belt Pack ZE090' from a company listed on Amazon. 3.80 including postage - for a pack of TWO I think - delivery within a week or so. It's a "Electrolux Z2954A Enviro Vac Upright Vacuum Cleaner". I think it may be 'old' stock, and as such was hard to find actually in-stock for-sale on the net. Some links suggested it was around 50 - but they didn't have any. Only place I DID find it allegedly actually for-sale and in-stock, it was listed for 101.09, so make of that what you will. Certainly worth investing in some belts and trying to clean it all out methinks. SO - fingers crossed on THAT happy little diversion. :o) . Jeeze - my bulging house is starting to look like a TV and vacuum cleaner graveyard - never mind the conservatory absolutely FULL of cardboard boxes and packaging from all the stuff I've received over the last few months (I've kept it ALL - for re-using when I start trying to e-bay a couple of the things I intend to try to sell)!. . skipped food and PCd a bit of this . . walked under the deep black, star filled sky. Not 'so' cold, but felt it because of the pervasive damp atmosphere. Detoured via the store on the way home for quick and easy food. . ate pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, a couple of mini pork pies and a couple of squares of chocolate . . TVd struggling to stay awake . . HAD to cave in, and was in bed around 10pm!!!!