<<Return to My Diary
31 - Up around 7:50am. Grey and much cooler. . . walked . . . sat around at the PC/radios - bored withall. . . Mum called in with papers and food donations for chats etc . . ate Mum donated sausage roll, pastry slice, banana crisps and biscuits . . slept the afternoon off until waking from a nightmare around 6:30pm. Pulled another tooth out. It'd been wobbling and hurting for a while - glad to see it gone. I really don't have many left at all now. Just one more out on the other side, and that'll be me unable to eat anything other than soup! :o( Somewhere around then I guess I'll have no choice but finally have to go see someone about things . . walked the woods as the daylight faded. Repulsive drunken, dope smoking youths were rampaging around the area. Many tents pitched up the top of the woods. Party time. :o( . . sat in BGdns for ages with coffee and cigs, watching multiple chinese lanterns being launched from over by Berry Head. Quiet and murky. Briefly chatted locally on the radio for just a bit . . . PCd this . . BB called . . TVd . .ate a tin of oxtail soup, four pieces of bread and butter and chocolate. . to bed around 1:30am.
30 - Up around 8am. Warm and sunny again . . . walked . . felt increasingly down and ended up just poking aimlessly at the radios again . turns out the new lower antenna is almost entirely deaf with regard to the weather satellites! :o( Amazed at the difference just a few feet in height (and a bit more length of coax) makes. . . felt increasingly down as the day wore on. Overwhelming pointlessness to all - and strong feelings of absolute failure in all. Turned into a really tough day.
. . . walked. Feels a lot
cooler this evening . . .TVd . . ate a six pieces of bread and
butter pile of tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps and a VERY large
amount of chocolate! . . . to bed just after midnight.
29 - Up around 7:20am. Sunny again. . walked (just as the refuse men were emptying my heavy bin. Yayy. :o) ) and then back via the store for a few supplies. Feels very hot and dry. . I don't feel so good or up to doing anything with the day. Sucked anadin tablet and just prodded at the radios for hours . . cooked and ate two beefburgers with chips and then some biscuits and chocolate . . napped . . .walked and sat with coffee until after dark . . PCd/poked at radios some more . . . TVd . . ate a bowl of defrosted stew with four pieces of bread and butter and then bowls of co-co pops . . to bed just after midnight.
28 - Up around 7:30am. Sunny again. :o) . . walked in the warm sun. Didn't hang around and got back quick, to wait in for my delivery - which probably won't get here until this afternoon anyway. Coffee in the garden and then PCd a bit of this . . balanced my accounts . . pottered around a bit just wasting time, 'waiting' . . messed with the 'suspect' antenna switch I got off e-bay, and actually dismantled it a bit to have a look inside and get a feel for why I don't 'trust' it. Looks to me as though I'm not the first person to have a look inside that! :o(
ate a six pieces of bread
and butter pile of corned beef sandwiches, crisps and chocolate .
. couldn't help myself laying down for a bit. Half snoozed until
around 3:15pm when 'woken' by Bella barking, as the courier
arrived to deliver the antenna. Got straight down to it. . it
took a couple of hours, but eventually I had the the disconne
down and the new antenna up on the top of the pole, connected-up
using the existing (disconne) coax. Breifly listened on the
radios for a bit, although it did appear to be largely quiet
about then. Typical! lol . . outrageously loaded the wheelie bin
up with the remaining timbers from the old sofa/chair, ready for
tomorrows fortnightly collection . . walked a little early with
coffee. Still warm enough to walk in shirt sleeves! . straight
back onto the radios, to listen-in to a local net, and switch
back and forth and do a proper side-by-side comparison of the two
antennas. Joined in a bit, just to get some signal reports back
on the two antennas. Wow - I didn't expect there to be quite so
much difference. The new one is quite 'substantialy' poorer in
performance (a minimum of 1 S point - sometimes three or more,
both in and out!), just for the sake of around five feet in
height! Still - it's more than useable, so I can't complain.
That's what comes of living in a 'black hole' , on the side of a
valley. . .took a much needed break from all the 'noise' and
quietly guitarred in the garden with a coffee for a while . . TVd
. . ate bowls of rice krispies . . to bed around midnight.
27 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8am. Sunny again and up around 10C already. . walked. Playing ball as usual, Bella all 'throwing herself into it' as ever, misjudged a turn and crashed headfirst into a big old tree!! She didn't seem to care too much but it DID cause some blood to appear on her nose!!!!! Checked her over and couldn't find anything serious, and the bleeding did seem to quickly stop, so eventually we carried on playing as normal. Crazy dog! . . Carried on down town to tour the charity shops and buy some dog food. The RSPCA charity shop strangely had some dog food outside for sale? Must have been donated by someone I guess? Figured I may as well buy the two packs of six tins of 'Pedigree' they had. 12 tins @ £5.90. I 'think' the price was ok, but even if it was a little more than the supermarket, it was better quality food, and I didn't mind because it was for the RSPCA after all. . bought a couple of bags of sugar and then struggled back with a heavy rucksack . .On the way back from town up the main road, there were roadworks and temporary traffic lights causing a bit of traffic chaos. In the stationary queues of traffic, a coach full of day trippers had come to a halt blocking a junction. A guy in the car at the head of the junction started blowing his horn at the coach, and then proceeded to get out of his car, storm up to the coach door and hurl foul mouthed abuse at the driver for blocking the junction! Totally out of order and unecessarily unpleasant and agressive. It 'scarred' me being forced to witness that, and I couldn't get it out of my mind for ages! Ruined my morning. Repulsive man. I wish him harm. . did vacuuming chores - lots! . . PCd/monitored radios. Received an e-mail suggesting the new antenna would be delivered by the courier tomorrow. Eager to get hold of that and 'start' getting it set up on the new pole. I've disconnected all my antenna cables in the radio room and got them all connected to the PCR1000 in strange temporary ways at the moment, preventing me from doing ANY transmitting. Little point in sorting all that out (again!) until I get the other antenna and can actually sort things out properly, in a more permanent fashion. . . ate a tin of soup with four crusts of bread followed by many biscuits . . slept the whole rest of the afternoon away until around 6:30pm! Seem to be needing HUGE amounts of sleep at the moment? . . walked . . PCd/monitored radios until around 10pm. . . did the mass of dish washing chores . . TVd (Kung Fu) . . cooked and ate four slices of bacon, two eggs, a tin of beans and two crusts of bread and butter followed by a little chocolate . . popped into the garden without turning the light on for a bit in the early hours. Around 6C. Absolutely pitch black out there with a breathtaking sky full of stars . . to bed around 2am.
26 - Up around 7:20am. Sunny . . walked . . . sat in the garden with coffee looking at the antenna mast for a while, YET again, mulling over what new antenna to go for. This has been going round and round in my head for weeks (months?) now, it's driving me crazy and has reached the point where I just need to be free of it - whatever the cost!!! . after having looked at the 'new' mast, and trying to remember how bad things can get when we have a storm here, I finally FINALLY decided that I just couldn't live with a huge 5m long antenna on top of it, 'hanging over me' and preying on my mind every time it got windy. Headed for the PC and after having searched and agonised over the decision for just a while longer, eventually went ahead and clicked and bought one 2.5m long, the same as I already have (albeit with an 'N' type connector on this one, instead of a PL259 type as on the other). A 'Moonraker SQBM500N 2/70cm DUAL BAND FIBREGLASS COLLINEAR' for £79.94 including postage. With luck, it should be a pretty quick job to just swap the (N type plugged) feeder from the disconne, and get it up and running into the radio room with the minimum of hassle, and no need to start trying to route new runs of coax, etc. Committed. At LAST I can stop thinking about the damned decision!! Now I can briefly pause and switch all my thinking back to the HF antenna side of things - again - still!! I AM gonna be sticking with ununs and 'random' wires - but of course I want to have a dedicated recieve-only setup AS WELL as one for transmitting on now! Until I make a decision about cutting down or at the very least, severly trimming back that damned mis-shapen cherry-blossom tree out back, I'm pretty much unable to do anything to improve and or alter things!! :o( <think, think, decide, decide - ££! - ad infinitum!>. . .ended up sitting at the PC/radios again for hours. I hadn't intended to 'tune in' because it wasn't making a particularly close pass at that time (somewhere around 1pm), but I'd left one of the weather satellite frequencies in the memory bank I had scanning, and it suddenly started picking up a signal. Couldn't resist quickly having a play, and actually quickly attached the homemade copper pipe, marine-band slim-jim antenna INSIDE the attic as an experiment. Damn it all if it didn't seem to generally actually pick up the satellite BETTER than my main chimney mounted vertical!!! Amazing considering it's behind all the timber and tiles of the roof, AND 'tuned' for a VERY much higher frequency (although it is of course pretty much a 'loop', so SHOULD be better at recieving stuff from 'above'! That VERY much makes me tempted to have a go at knocking up another, specifically the length for resonance(ish) on the weather satellites frequency, and then hanging it up horizontally! The little bit of image (enhanced) it managed to pick up, really tells the story of how nice a sunny day it is today. Hardly ANY cloud over the UK at all! Cracking bit of an image. . and so went the whole day again! . . walked. Around 10C out and falling. Actually a bit of a chilly breeze from the south east kinda, had me feeling too cold for comfort and I soon walked back home complete with undrunk coffee . . TVd . . ate chopped ham and pork sandwiches, crisps, banana, kipling apple pies and some chocolate . . TVd struggling to stay awake until bed at midnight.
25 - Up around 8:30am. The clocks went forward last night, so that isn't much sleep - and I feel yucky! . Slow getting going . . .walked the beach and woods (past all the new piles of litter left by the partying youths the other night), feeling increasingly tired, headachey, and ready to return to bed! A very (hazy)sunny summery day. . . guitarred briefly before poking at the radios for a bit. Experimented some more with the Ham Radio Deluxe software and had rather more success than before at decoding some PSK and even some CW. . Today is a right-off - feel so yucky and headachey I don't feel up to managing to do anything. . ate four ham rolls, crisps, and chocolate chip cookies . . napped the whole rest of the afternoon away until just before 7pm . . walked . . TVd and watched a show on BBC 2 all about how satellites have so radically changed our world. Interesting. . radiod for some hours, just listening around the largely quiet bands, before putting in some time building up memory banks for the PCR1000. . . ate a trio of kipling apple pies and biscuits before to bed around 2:30am.
24 - Up around 7am. Looks like it could be a real sunny day. . . walked in the hazey sun. Boy - what a fantastic morning at last. Proper summery, and really pretty warm. . .managed to stay OFF the radio for a bit, and finally managed to motivate myself to have a good prod at the old line post I'd scored from the house up the road. (Did two loads of bed linen and other laundry whilst doing so.) Sawed off the silly little useless metal base plate with a hacksaw to start with. Then used the angle grinder to cut off the obstructing line tie posts part way up. Ground it right back and made the scar as round and unnoticeable as possible, finishing it off with a hand file. Used a wire brush attachment on the drill to clean it all up and remove the traces of rust, cement and years of dirt etc. Finished it off as best I could with some sand paper. Applied a touch of car-body filler to the poorly welded seam beneath the small cap over the top end, just to stop the rain from getting inside the top of the tube there. (Sadly I AM going to HAVE to paint it! White at the bottom - maybe red-oxide at the top? We'll see.) A small welded-on ring, an inch down from the top, I left in place. THAT will be perfect for attaching an insulator and a long wire to (or would be if the huge distorted cherry-blossom tree wasn't right in the way! :o( )! . . Mum called in with the papers and food donations for chats etc. Sat in the garden with coffee while chatting - it was THAT warm and pleasant out. . . as soon as mum had gone I returned to the 'mast' project! Got the ladders out and dared to actually attempt to put it up in position - just to make sure it WAS gonna be actually possible single handed, being that it IS rather heavy even without an antenna attached! Fitted the new U bolts and succeeded in getting it up into a low height and bolted in place. Yayy. Had a breather with a coffee and cigs before returning up the ladder and proving that I WOULD be able to push it up and get it to full height. . well - there we go then. In principal, I have a heavy (!!!) duty mast to attach 'things' to - and SO much easier to work on than having to get up over the roof to the chimney. The top of it can only be around six feet lower than the chimney, so any VHF type antenna I put on it, 'should' be very similar in performance to the one I already have up on the chimney. I absolutely AM going to buy another wideband-recieve colinear, to replace the disconne for the scanners etc. (The dedicated receiving side of my setup!) I just can't decide which one I dare to go for (££(£?)s). At the very least, it will be one exactly the same as I already have on the chimney - because that one works SO VERY well for me. . left the 'mast' temporarily up like that, and the ladder still propped against the wall, and called it quits for the timebeing (as much as anything, to give me time to gain confidence it isn't going to bring the back wall of the house down!!!!!!!! <worry>). . ate chopped ham and pork sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate . . PCd/TVd a bit . . walked. Briefly spoke with someone on echolink. He'd mentioned in a previous conversation I'd been listening to, that he couldn't 'activate' his QRZ.com listing. I've done that once before for someone else, so offered to give it a go for him when I got home. . returned home and straight onto the PC and radio. Sorted out the QRZ thing and then somehow ended up on the radio chatting to a handful of people for ages. Bit of a lift on. Managed to hook back up with the same guy from earlier and told him I'd succeeded with the QRZ thing. . PCd a bit of this gone midnight. . ate a banana and a bunch of chocolate chip cookies. . to bed around 1:30am or later.
23 - Up around 7:30am. Thick fog! . .walked . . yayyyy - first signs of the patch of grass seed I put out in the garden as an experiment, actually shooting up. :o) . . tried to actually 'do' something with the day, but soon ended up on the PC radios again. Started dealing with my accounts and paperwork but that soon went by the by, as I just monitored radios and tried decoding satellite images and pagers again, etc, etc, etc. So was wasted away the whole day, acheiving nothing! . . . walked and sat with coffee under the star, satellite and aircraft filled sky and then chatted to another dog walker for quite a while before eventually heading home . . . TVd . . ate the second half of the cheese melt concoction with four pieces of bread and butter, a banana, biscuits and chocolate . . TVd until bed around midnight.
22 - Up around 7:15am. A little rain this morning . . . walked as the rain pretty much dried up. . .PCd and ended up playing with my 'toys' again for hours. . . early afternoon the postman delivered the U bolts and BNC patch leads I'd ordered. Happy with both. The U bolts even came with washers (and nuts of course), which I'd half suspected they wouldn't. . . moved things around on the desk and using the new patch leads, managed to find an 'acceptable' place to put the PCR1000 amongst all the other equipment, and generally got the desk back to being pretty tidy and functional. . butted in on a local 2mtr conversation just to check everything was working ok, and ended up chatting for ages! . ended up being kinda too late to eat (and inevitably need to sleep), so skipped food and walked Bella early. Walked the woods. First 'evening' walk we've done this year so far, in daylight still. Sat in the woods (without a coat) having a cigarette, it unexpectedly started to rain - quite hard. Got pretty wet walking back to BGdns. The irony of that was not lost on me and made me laugh quite a bit. There's me spending half the day recieving and decoding weather satellite imagery - and then I get caught-out in the rain without a coat and get soaked!! lololol . . sheltered under the roof in BGdns and drank coffee until the rain passed before eventually walking back. . . drank a glass of red wine . . cooked up a mushrooms, onion, bacon and grated-cheese 'melt' concoction and ate a modest amount with four pieces of bread and butter, eventually followed by bowls of co-co pops . . TVd until to bed before midnight.
21 - Up around 8:30am. Tired and slow getting going again . . walked late as sunny spells developed. Somehwere in the far far distance, almost at a subaudible level were some big bangs going off. It just HAD to be some sort of naval excercise with live firing somewhere. Highly unusual to be able to actually hear any of that. . .Went to turn the PC/radio equipment on as usual and 'maybe' didn't hit the main fused master switch quite cleanly? The result was that the main fuse box tripped, cutting the power throughout the house!! That's a bit worrying. Reset the trip and everything was thankfully back to normal and ok. . PCd/monitored radios and also watched the TV news a bit off to one side. The French police are in a stand-off with a suspect for the recent horrific school kid/military personnel shootings! . . played with my toys while surfing related things a bit. Downloaded a freeware copy of WXtoImg V2.10.11 and then had a 'in total ignorance about what I was doing' bit of a go at recording some of the audio from the NOAA19 weather satellite as it passed (actually NOT using the WXtoImg recorder). Loaded the resultant WAV file of noise into WXtoImg, ran one of the built-in enhancements and - oh wow! I'll be damned! Despite the appallingly low signal to noise ratio, a barely-moving-the-S-meter type low signal, and picking up the strong local pager signals all over the top of it, etc, etc, - there WAS 'something' of an image! How tantalising is that! (in that first image I ever got, which I've reduced in size and included here, the northern tip of Scotland is JUST visible in the bottom left corner!). . continued playing for hours - AGAIN, slowly getting 'slightly' more to grips with getting the different software to control and interact with the PCR1000. Ended up leaving the Ham Radio Deluxe software running, tracking the weather satellites, and periodically laying in wait for them, to be able to have another go, with different settings on everything, etc. Sadly, it would appear that Satellite NOAA-18 is completely out of bounds for me. It transmits on 137.9125Mhz - but a local pager transmitter (VERY local!! Possibly even just a few hundred meters up the road?!!!!! One of those two big masts with 'pods' on the top perhaps?) is pumping out HIGH powered dross, somewhere around 137.9800Mhz. That's SO close - geographically AND frequency wise - every time it fires up, I just get totally 'blanked' and recieve nothing. Real shame that. :o( Why ARE people using pagers these days? Surely mobile phones, text messages, and the like have superceded all that nonsense? (The second little 'scratchy' (WX software enhanced) image I've included here, shows the UK top right - with Brixham underneath a little + sign, in full sun - as it is. <waving> lolol) . . .late afternoon I managed to tear muself away and ate a pastry slice, crisps, banana and biscuits . . napped until around 7pm . . walked with a coffee . tu . and sat around for well over an hour after ball play, listening to a local net on 2mtrs .Saw a hedgehog crossing the road not far from home on the way back. A rare sight these days. Bella went all hyper and uncontrollable on her lead. She wanted to chase after it REAL bad. . . PCd . . TVd and ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps and chocolate . . to bed around 2am.
20 - Up around 8:15am. 14C in, 8C out and mostly grey . . walked . . wow - I feel pretty headachey, tired and rough! Lack of food/sleep I suspect. . back to the PC/radios. Temporarily hooked up my 'random wire' to the PCR1000 for the first time. Actually used a BNC 'T' piece to 'inappropriately' attach the disconne AND the long wire as the aerial input on the SP3 antenna splitter, at the same time - as a concept prover!! Oh wow - that appears to work! I can simultaneously scan VHF/UHF etc using the Uniden scanner, and trawl through the HF (AND any of the other!) bands on the PCR at exactly the same time - and or just click over in any combination between the two!! Ok - so I'm suffering signal losses, and the signal strengths aren't exactly high on HF, but with my random length of wire attenae in this black hole of a valley, I've become pretty used to low HF signals on the suspiciously 'deaf' FT767 anyway. If I used the reversible SP-3 antenna splitter as it SHOULD be used, and independantly connected the antennas and fed them to JUST the PCR1000, it'd probably improve the signal strengths - but the flexibility of using BOTH radios at the same time like this, is just too tempting and probably worth the signal strength compromise. In short - the 'test' as far as I'm concerned, has been a suprisingly SUPERB success. :o) The results firmly justify my aiming to have a totally independant 'set' of both long wire AND broadband VHF/UHF etc antennas, JUST for recieving on the scanner(s) and PCR1000 - never mind whatever I end up with for actually transmitting on the amateur radios. Exciting possibilities, which very much appeals to my bizzare lust for wanting to be able to sit at the PC screens and just click about with the mouse, and be able to pick up whatever there is to hear - everywhere, all at once!! As I type this, I'm listening (through the PC speakers attached to the bottom of the main monitor - with the radio(s) control software running on the second screen to my left!) to a local 'South Dorset Net' on 7.15Mhz on the PCR1000, whilst arbitrarily simulateously scanning the Marine band (picking up plenty of Cherbourg coastguard this morning) , the 'local' aircraft (helicopters out of Yeovilton), and also the nearby PMR frequencies (staff at a local school?) on the Uniden UBC3500XLT!!!! That's a pretty serious 'recieve station' setup! A couple of clicks of the mouse, and I could be listening to or scanning a whole bunch of different stuff - just like that! AMAZING!!! I like. NOW I'm getting somewhere. :o) . . PCd a bit of this . . got all confused when all of a sudden, one or othr of the radios suddenly started emitting an awful noise around 12:45pm!!?? Oh wow - I hadn't even realised I had THAT frequency (137.1Mhz) in the list the PCR1000 was currently scanning! It was the NOAA19 weather satellite doing a 'close' pass overhead! lolol A VERY low signal strength, but enough to break the squelch and get picked up for quite a long time considering! (actually - 'just' audible, pretty much from horizon to horizon (by switching-in the chimney mounted colinear antenna)!) In some far distant future (if I ever get the time!??), I AM going to HAVE to have a go at making a dedicated recieve aerial for trying to better receive and decode some of that. . .lololol Same thing happened again around 13:08pm as NOAA18 passed over! Made me jump. lololol Oh wow - just data bleeps and 'noise', but boy, was the 'doppler shift' SO VERY noticeable as it sped past. . . ate a trio of ham and mayo rolls, crisps and shortbread biscuits. .napped until around 6pm . . walked . . PCd/monitored radios . . . cooked up chips to go with a cheap meat pie and half a tin of baked beans . . PCd until deep into early before finally to bed.
19 - Up around 7:30am. 15C in, 5C out and blue sky sunny again . . .walked . . back via the newsagent for yet more tobacco. :o( 6x50g @ £90.57 . . mowed the lawns both front and back, and then pottered in the back garden for just a short while, de-weeding just a little, etc. . . soon back to the PC and radios. Surfed and ordered a pair of U bolts to fit a 2" mast for £4.78 inc postage. Once I get my hands on those, I think I'm gonna be having a go at using the old line-post I salvaged from the renovated house up the road, to act as a mast on the T & K brackets on the back wall of the house. . also ordered 2 x 1 metre RG58 50ohm BNC to BNC patch leads for £5.78 inc postage. I need a couple of slightly longer half decent ones to hook up the scanners etc up to the antenna splitter etc. The ones I have are too short, and at least one appears to be potentially a bit 'iffy'. . . spent the whole rest of the day pretty much, messing with the PCR1000 and associated different software packages, still trying to get to grips with it all. The free 'TalkPCR' appears to be the way I'm gonna have to go. It's SO much more flexible than the original awful 'toytown' Icom software. It is in fact a SUPER program - I 'think'. MUCH to learn. . Had another bit of a go with the downloaded/free 'PDW' software at decoding pagers again. Slightly more success using the PCR1000 - although it's still pretty poor (as it appears one should expect, without modifying things to have a 'discriminator output' apparantly - which I have NO intention of trying to do!). It would appear from a little snippet I DID manage to decode, that someone somwhere was hit by a train, causing lots of train delays!?!! Had much better success decoding the aircraft 'ACARS' broadcasts - but I'm not sure why anyone would want to! lolol . . . eventually tore myself away late afternoon and ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of corned beef sandwiches, crisps and fig rolls in front of the TV watching a bit of a Kung Fu episode. . napped until the alarm at 7pm . . walked with coffee under the cold, clear, star-filled sky again . . back on the PC/radio and put in lots more time playing with pagers. I think I'm done with that now. It obviously isn't gonna work well - and again, from the little I HAVE decoded, I'm not sure why anyone would want to! There's a limit to how interesting it is to read about someone foaming at the mouth or going glycemic somewhere in Wales!!. . PCd a bit of this around 1am! Not enough hours in the day to play these silly time consuming games. It's taking up EVERY minute of the day at the moment - and frankly wearing me out and making me much grouchy and short tempered!! . . let Bella out into the garden for a 'comfort break' not long before 3am, and she promptly 'crashed' past the conservatory door with a loud bang, and ran out barking! FFS! . . went straight to bed all angry (and hungry!) - again! . . difficulty getting to sleep and then a VERY poor disturbed nights sleep.
18 - Up around 6:45am. 13C in, 3C out and sunny . . woke up at the PC/radios and dared to actually give a few CQ calls as the ISS did a high pass overhead. All to no avail of course. (Phew!) lol . . walked in the full sun with the temperatures rapidly rising. A couple walking their dog were 'harvesting' some of the daffodils in BGdns, to give as their mothers day gift!!! Outrageous selfishness. I thought only 'children' were that stupid!? It IS actually 'theft' after all, never mind the 'moral' aspect of depriving others of the pleasure of seeing them, etc. I DID dare to say I thought it was wrong of them as I passed by. As far as I know, they said nothing. I just hope they think of me and feel just a 'little' twinge of guilt when they give them to the unsuspecting whoever. Grrr. People! <spit> :o( . . raced back to get on the PC for the next ISS pass - (the one before a scheduled contact later. (ARISS contact planned with school in Ortona, Italy. An International Space Station school contact has been planned Sunday 18 March 2012 at approximately 11.31 UTC with students at Istituto Tecnologico Statale Trasporti e Logistica "Leone Acciaiuoli", Ortona, Italy. 11.31 UTC = 12.31 CEWT. The contact will be performed by the radio station IQ6LN and the downlink signal will be audible over Europe on 145.800 MHz FM. The event will be broadcast in streaming video on http://www.livestream.com/AMSAT_Italia/) Nothing heard. . .tuned in for the 11.31am pass and sure enough, despite the pass being 'lower', and the talk not starting until the aquisition of their signal in Italy (well past me), I got a fairly reasonable copy for a short while. Very weird trying to listen via the web broadcast at the same time. LOTS of delay, and freezing and stutter made it pretty impossible. Did me a short video again during my playing. . uploaded it to youtube again for what it's worth. Silly games. :o) . . touched base with Mum . . eventually stopped playing and ate a mini pork pie, pastry slice, crisps, apple turnovers and chocolate . briefly touched base with Sis2 . . .napped long, until the alarm at 7pm . . walked in the chill and sat with coffee under the star filled sky for ages . . .
got my soldering iron out, and VERY carefully made up an audio lead for the PCR1000. It absolutely demanded that it be a, soldered appropriately, MONO plug on the end of the cable. No amount of trying stereo to mono connectors on the end of a stereo cable would do the job. No matter what I tried, I just ended up getting ONE speaker working on the PC, so soldering up a forced mono was the ONLY way to go! Cut the female end off one of the multiple headphone extension leads I have laying around, used a razor blade to shave a bit off the thick outer covering, and then eventually carefully managed to solder on the mono socket. . Yayy. Successfully managed to get both the Uniden and the PCR1000 running simultaneous side by side with the audio from both (by using the MIC input for the Uniden, AND line-in input for the PCR) , coming out of the PC speakers on the monitor in front of me (as it should be in my opinion. Actually sounds (to MY ears) suprisingly MUCH better than either of the little built-in radio speakers. I suppose in theory, I could even run the graphic equaliser across that audio? YET another thing to experiment with!!!! Later!
Suprising and actually rather disappointing variation in the performance of the two radios. The PCR seems quite a bit deafer at times on different frequencies - although that 'may' be because I haven't quite mastered it yet. Hmmm? . . . funny how if I lisetn to the same frequency on both radios at the same time, the audio from each just slightly cancels the other out kinda. Has the effect of just slightly reducing the volume of the output
.listened to radios and
surfed related stuff for hours again. . ate mini pork pies,
crisps, banana and half a pack of fig roll biscuits . . to bed
not far off 3am.
17 - Up around 7am . . walked . . played some more with the PCR1000 trying to get to grips with it some more. It IS an interesting little 'toy'. STEEP learning curve . . Mum called in with the paper and food donations etc . . played some more before eventually cooking up and eating four cheeseburgers late afternoon . . napped until 7pm . . slow getting going. Walked late with a coffee and sat under the star filled sky for ages . . PCd/monitored and surfed, reading up on the new toy. Also downloaded and tried another piece of PCR100 control software -//-
listened in to what I considered a bit of 'childishness' from someone on the radio. Reminded me of all the nonsense that used to go on, back in CB days! I need to look up the word 'petualnt' which sprang to mind! :o( Suprised and saddened me that amateurs would act in a similar fashion. People are just people aren't they! <spit> . bumped into another conversation by a particular individual who appears to have managed to become REALLY rather wealthy by running a tier of a pyramid selling scheme. I've nothing against that of course, but the trouble with such people (as I've previously experienced) is that they seem to become TOTALLY single minded about the whole business, and are unable to seprate it from the rest of their lives. It BECOMES their life. They can't engage in a single conversation without angling it in such a way as to attempt to 'recruit' you as one of the lower blocks of 'the pyramid'. I've had the misfortune to encounter a couple of people like this in the past (friends/work colleagues) and it soon simply becomes unpleasant to be around them! This radio amateur appeared to be JUST like that! Even his lookup page on QRZ.COM was ultimately largely little more than 'an advert' for his pyramid selling!! (Shouldn't be allowed on there!!) Made me want to throw up! . all in all, I eventually ended up turning the radios off with a sour taste in my mouth so to speak. Reminded me of why I'd lost interest in radio in the past, and put me in a bit of a dark mood! . . ate bowls of rice krispies, apple turnover things and some chocolate before to bed at 2am.
16 - Up around 7am with the alarm. 14C in, 7C out. Briefly PCd (or that was the intention) while waking up with a coffee and cigs, and would you believe it, yet amother damned windows update started loading so I felt obliged to hang around and wait for it to finish! . . walked early - quickly, but got back around 8:30am, later than I would have wished. Straight onto the radio scanning for any action on the ISS frequencies. Seemed like I was too late really - only a minute or so until it was out of range. But then - Oh WOW! Oh my god!!! I think I heard it!!! I heard a VERY clear voice at a VERY respectable signal strength four or five!!! "CQ PI9ISS" - called once, and then again a short time later!!!!!!! I couldn't believe I was actually hearing it! I even wondered if I was actually hearing some other station calling FOR PI9ISS, rather than the other way round. Actually, given I've never heard it before, and aren't sure of the operating 'etiquette' for ISS contacts (it's surely gonna be different than normal CQs isn't it? - and all shortened and quick?) ,I'm still not entirely sure it WAS the voice of 'Andre Kuipers' on board. No one returned his call as far as I could hear. Wow - if I was more experienced and new what I was doing, given the recieved signal strength and how my setup 'usually' works, I reckon I could have made a contact there!!! Fascinating stuff. . sat in waiting for the 10:11am pass and the scheduled school link-up, IF it's happening. . YAYYYYYYYY. Well - don't ask me what was said, but I DID hear the International Space Station. I heard it GOOD! I even made me a video of the experience!! How sad is that! lololololololol Seriously though - I'm dead chuffed to have FINALLY definately heard it like that. . . PCd and uploaded the video to youtube for what it's worth, in case anyone else may be interested (or can translate what was said!). . right - I think I may need to catch up on a bit of sleep now. All that 'excitement' - worn me out. lolol :o) . . at 13:20 FINALLY a postman delivered me a box. Yayyy - the IC-PCR100 communications receiver. Wow - was it well packed. Wrapped in huge amounts of bubble wrap, and then in an oversized stout cardboard box surrounded by polystyrene chips. Whoever the seller was, took some considerable care over that. Very much appreciated by me! . took quite a while just to get the thing unwrapped without covering the house in polystyrene. lol . wow - looks in pretty damned good nick. Almost like new, in the box, with even a couple of the original bits and pieces unopened/unused still in their plastic bags! The BAD news was that the original control software was on two 3.5" floppies! I don't even have a drive for such things on the new PC! Went straight on-line and downloaded the apparantly equivalent zipped files from the Yahoo group I joined a while ago.
Oh no! Is it broken???? . . . . 5pm before I found the SSB/CW recieve!!
lay down for a bit (I just
HAD to!) and half snoozed for a short while . . walked . . drank
wine and cooked a pizza . . to bed around midnight.
15 - Up around 8:30am. 14C in, 9C out and back to being all misty . .VHF seems to have settled back down just a bit, and is starting to be more normally quieter. Lots of chatter on the band about people having made unusual contacts well down into different countries across Europe! . . walked. Didn't hang around and rushed back in the hope of being in for a likely postal delivery. As it turned out, there was nothing for me today!? Since it was 'allegedly' sent first class on 13th March, I'd fully expected the PCR1000 to arrive today. I'm starting to feel a bit anxious about that now! . . . . PCd leaving the BIOS and everything in exactly the same state as last night. It really does all seem to be working perfectly ok despite that POST error. I hate to admit it, but I think I AM just going to keep it in this configuration and carry on using it as is for the forseeable future. (I've yet to put the case back together - not 'quite' yet fully decided.) The video card appears to be working fine, and the PC graphics (tested on some bits of video, and online on the BBC Iplayer, etc) are all looking as good as they ever have. On the plus side - and lets face it, that's what this 'upgrade' was all about for me - the DUAL monitors thing is just wonderful! I've only been using the two monitors for a few hours, but already I'm absolutely sold on the idea. I did an e-mail reply to DS at one point - reading his original mail and using the scanner control pad in the little 15" monitor on my left, while typing my reply on the main screen in front of me (while ALSO keeping an eye on a international-space-station-orbit plotting program in a window behind, because it was due to pass overhead. Annnnd . nothing heard - again! Bugger! lol) Yep - having the desktop extended across two monitors like this is VERY cool! :o) If I have any criticism of this type of setup, it'd be a case of having to remember what you've put where (particularly if you have one monitor turned off) and sometimes getting a bit confused when you loose a running window, and also that the old 15" monitor has pretty poor performance in comparison to my 19" monitor. Sad to admit also, my tired old eyes DO have a 'bit' of trouble reading the smaller characters on 1024x768 resolution on the 15" screen!! (although of course I CAN alter all of that to better suit maybe. We'll see.) . . deliberately poked around, surfed and generally played a bit, just making sure everything was working and stable and nothing presented itself as a problem. So far so good. . read up on some websites and played monitoring radios a bit, and successfully heard 'data' from a couple of weather satellites as they transitted overhead! It MAY be interesting to have a go at that some time - and try decoding my own images from them. I'll need (to make?) a different antenna at the very least though. Signal strength on my colinear WAS generally pretty poor and 'noisy'. Still - I found it strangely quite enjoyable 'watching' the satellites pass-by on the Ham Radio delux plotting software world map, while listening to the data noise on the FT-7900. Puts things, and where I am, into a different wider perspective somehow? Being able to decode that data into images for myself WOULD be fun! Kinda like periodically being able to look down on myself from high above. lol . .had a phone call from a dog walker! She apparantly does work in a charity shop, and some time past I must have mentioned shoes, and she said she'd brought home a pair of sized 10 I may be interested in!!! Wow - that's good of her! Said I'd pop in later tonight on the way past to have a look. . finally very much needed a break from surfing and reading about POST failures and listening to satellite data beeps and the like, and turned everything off mid afternoon. . drank a glass of red wine and cooked and ate chips, sausages and half a tin of baked beans. . . napped until 7pm. Difficulty waking up and getting going. . . walked and stopped by the dog walkers house to have a look at the shoes. It was very embarassing to me. They were NOT the sort of shoes I would have bought for myself. More like 'office' shoes, with a weird square toe. Not the sort you want to walk around in. With difficulty and much embarassment, I declined the generous offer! :o| . sat with coffee and cigs in BGdns for ages, listening to the radio. Strange mixture of emotions invoked by a couple of conversations I overheard. One radio ham guy was on there on echolink up country. A familiar voice despite me never having spoken with him. Been made redundant (again) and desperately searching for work (again!). He was in his car briefly using a free wi-fi hotspot to get in, because he'd recently just 'decided' (or was he forced?) to have his TV and phone contracts terminated because they couldn't afford to run up the bills! I felt VERY sorry for him - and felt 'I' AM VERY lucky. :o| The next conversation I bumped into elsewhere, was kinda the opposite etxreme. A guy talking all about the new 75 foot lattice tower he was getting for his antennas. (He already had a smaller one!) I think he said it was being shipped down from Scotland, and special custom-made bits were going to be fabricated, and he was going to also get an electric winch, etc etc etc. In short - LOADSAMONEY!! . . . PCd this at length . . dragged myself away from the PC and radios in the early hours again! . . ate a single cheese sandwiche, cheddars, crisps and a little chocolate before to bed around 2am after having set the alarm. I set the alarm because I rather fancied being on the radio around 8:30am. Given the recent horrendous tragedy of the coach crash which killed 28 people, most of them children from a BELGIAN school, and given tomorrow is a day of mourning in Belgium as a result, it seemed 'unlikely' that the 10:11hrs scheduled ARISS (space station) contact planned with the school in Bree, Belgium would go ahead. Even it WAS going ahead, my orbit plotter program suggested a 'closer' pass (with better signals) would be made by the ISS at around 8:30am. Under all the circumstances, it seemed VERY likely to me, that the 8:30am orbit would be a very likely time to be able to hear it - or even make contact with it? So - set the alarm to get the morning walk done and get back in time to listen.
14 - Up with the alarm at 6:30am. Need to get down the post office and back, before potentially missing another attempted delivery while doing so. Grey but no fog right now. Around 8C out. STILL a 'lift' on 2mtrs!! PCd a bit of this before ending up being unable to resist, and gave a station a shout on the French F6ZCE repeater on 145.700Mhz. Had a brief contact with an F8MRQ, Michelle, in Tigy, 20Kms from Orleans! Neat way to start the day. Bonjour. lol :o) . . walked early with a rucksack, and after a bit of ball play along the way in BGdns, carried on down to arrive at the post office just after its 8am opening time. Not only was I able to pick up the delivery I'd missed yesterday, but also two others due to be delivered today. Yayy. Returned straight home with the three small packets in my rucksack . . nervously opened the really expensive SP-3 antenna splitter/combiner first. Funnily enough, I'd thought it was a lot physically bigger than that from all the photos I've been looking at for some reason. Only a dinky 4.5inches long by less than an inch in the other two directions (not including the three actual BNC connector projections). That's GOOD news. . nervously unscrewed scanner/antenna connections and temporarily connected up two scanners to one antenna (which is primarily what I wanted it for). Well - first impressions - I've got to say, I'm pleasantly suprised! It basically seems to very effectively do 'what it says on the tin' as it were. I'd fully expected some serious signal losses at best, and at worst, some local signal 'swamping' and poor interference rejection issues. So far - no sign of ANY such problems! Whatever the insertion signal losses may be in technical terms, under the conditions I'm using it, they 'appear' to be quite acceptably negligable, both by way of the scanner's basic S meter, and more importantly by ear. So - on the face of it, so far, I'm very happy with that. Phew. :o) A VERY useful (decadently expensive!) bit of kit. . the next packet I opened was the two way Cx-201 style coaxial switcher. Not so happy with that. Looks to have been opened up before now, and HAS been re-painted at some point. The switch itself is 'soft' (hence 'worn') in operation, and I even have a 'suspicion' over the actual isolation between the two switched positions! Having said all that, it DOES appear to work quite adequately for switching between recievers at least (which IS what I wanted it for) - but I don't think I'll ever be happy to take the risk of trying to transmit through it!! NOT a very good deal - again. . . PCd a bit of this, in a bit of a mess, with temporary patch-lead cables draped all over the desk/keyboard. . right - now - lets get serious with today's 'main event'. <worry, worry>. The other packet that came today was the video card for the PC!!! If this doesn't get updated for a while, you'll know the fitting of it went disasterously badly!!!!! Fingers crossed. . .First things first, I remembered to make a restore point in Windows. . VERY carefully followed all the instructions and removed the existing on-board graphics driver before closing the PC down and opening up the case. Got the new card in the slot, hooked up BOTH monitors to it, and finally very nervously turned the PC back on. Uh oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It did NOT boot back up!!!!! Oh NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All I seemed to end up with was a repeating loop of the DVD drive 'seeking' for ages, and then nothing - with both monitors showing nothing and then going into standby!! YIKES!!!! After cutting the power lots and going round and round in circles like this for ages, I FINALLY bumped into the BIOS setting for getting the motherboard to look for the PCIe slot as its first graphics device. THAT at least gave me the monitor back, and eventually enabled me to SEE what was going on. After multiple seeks of the DVD, and presumably once the tries had 'timed out', the PC started to do its power on self test (POST), and then halted on an unspecified error."***** Warning:System BOOT Fail *****. Your system last boot fail or POST interrupted. Please enter setup to load default and reboot again. Press F1 to continue, DEL to enter SETUP " . I DID the load the BIOS defaults as suggested, but that made no difference - other than wipe all MY preferred settings of course! Eventually determined that if I pressed F1 to continue, the PC WOULD then load Windows. That enabled me to load the new card's drivers (and updates on-line) and get it all setup and working correctly - even with the second monitor! Nevertheless, every time I re-booted, the same boot/post failure and halt occurred.
. . .after trying every conceivable alternative setting for many hours, to no avail, I reluctantly figured for safety's sake, I had little choice but to remove the new card and attempt to restore everything back to how it had been before I started!!!! Took a while, but thankfully that all went ok - the PC eventually booted back up as normal, and I pretty much got back to square one with everything - with a shiney new £25 graphics card I can't use! Thrown away yet more money I can ill afford?!! :o( Very pissed off - very headachey - very tired - very hungry - VERY pissed off! . . .ate a six pieces of bread and butter stack of chicken and stuffing slice sandwiches, crisps and chocolate . . napped . . walked late. . . Grabbed some of the 'for possible burning', old sofa chair timbers (with lots of metal staples and little bits of upholstery still attached) from the garage (by torchlight!), and filled the wheelie bin up with them. Bin day tomorrow, and I'm trying to make it a rule that I ALWAYS fill it and don't waste the opportunity, so that bit by bit, I WILL ultimately clear all the masses of junk I have filling the garage! Should have done that earlier, in daylight, but I didn't get round to it for obvious reasons. . . Back to the damned PC! What to do? Surfed, looking up and reading up on stuff - lots. At length, I decided to run the risk of trying to update and 'flash' the motherboard BIOS to the latest driver. Never done such a thing before, and based on what I've read, any screw up along the way, could quite easily have rendered the PC pretty useless to me!!!! Downloaded the latest motherboard software utilities, and then just crossed my fingers and went for it. It went agonisingly slowly - but ultimately smoothly. Oh thank god. Guitarred a bit in the diffcult down time. . With the BIOS all fully up to date, I figured despite all the hassle, I just HAD to give that graphics card one more go, in the hope it WOULD now work properly with the motherboard. . Did all the instal - and damn it if I didn't STILL have the boot/POST failure! The fail DID seem to be kinda smoother and quicker (without the multiple retries I'd had before), so as a temporary measure, I set the BIOS to automatically ignore the error (and any others that could arise of course!!!) and just carry on and load windows as usual regardless. Once into windows, everything appeared to be working ok and as it should - complete with the dual monitors setup. I wonder - what is the risk of just leaving the PC like this and carrying on using it? With that 'halt on NO errors' setting selected in the BIOS, it all boots up as normal and seems to work perfectly. Until something else actually breaks, I'm not sure I can see any reason why I couldn't just leave it like this? Hmmm? Around 2am, at length, I selfishly e-mailed DS (MY technical support! lol) and asked HIS opinion on things before finally HAVING to call it quits for the day. . Still remarkable lift conditions on VHF. Actually heard what seemed to be a London/Thames area coastguard on the marine channels at one point!!. . TVd and ate a banana and bowls of rice krispies before to bed somewhere around 3am!
13 - Up just after 7:30am. 15C in, 8C out and VERY misty with everything soaking wet as though it'd poured with rain (which it hadn't). Recieved one more e-mail confirming that now ALL my recent purchases are on their way. . . walked in the damp mist and then returned via the store for bread and potatoe supplies . . oh would you believe it! I'd missed the postman trying to deliver something requiring a signature, by no more than five minutes! Damn and blast! Gotta wait 24hrs now before having to walk down to the post office to pick it up! What a waste of a day and now all that hassle for the sake of five minutes! :o( . . PCd this . . ended up getting all involved with the ongoing lift conditions on 2mtrs again for hours. Hearing all sorts of repeaters out there in the distance!! Clearly heard the morse code callsign of GB3BC in Pontypridd(incredible! Almost 150 miles through the hills?!), people talking on the french Caen repeater F5ZBF, and actually spoke with someone on GB3SN in Hampshire quite happily, using only 5watts! I'm going to have to revisit all the (limited to 'local') frequencies I've been monitoring, and add a whole bunch more for when such conditions are in play!!! That's gonna take a while to sort out.. this is all being rather addictive to me at the moment. Getting nothing else done!! . . ate a banana and biscuits . . monitored radios some more. Lots of french repeaters coming through - and French stations chatting on WR!!! I've not seen propogation on 2mtrs like this before. Superb. . walked . . radiod some more. It's a flippin addiction under such conditions. .cooked and ate eight small sausages, four pieces of bread and butter and a handful of cheddars followed by a little chocolate . . TVd . . back on the PC to see the end of an auction I'd been watching for days, and fully intending to have a go at it. It was for a VX-7r handheld. I HAVE set my heart on one, to replace my VX-2, and am quite likely to end up with one sooner or later somehow. I sat in-wait ready to put my (controlled/restrained) bid on, but at the last moment (thankfully?) the price went higher than I felt happy to go. Two sniping sharks battled it out and it went for around £170ish. Actually something of a relief not to end up having spent a bunch more right now. There'll always be another some time. . to bed around 12:45am.
12 - Up around 7:30am. 16C in, around 6C out, sunny and huge amounts of dew on everything. .walked in the warm sun. Beautiful springlike morning, with a bank of fog in the distance out in the bay. . . coffee in the sun in the garden before of course ending up on the PC again. Bit the bullet (YET again! God - there's no end to it ££££!!!!) and in mostly complete ignorance about which one I SHOULD go for, blindly surfed on Amazon for a bit reading reviews and such (again) before ordering a "VTX3D 1GB Radeon HD 5450 DDR3 Graphics Card" @ £24.72 including postage, for the 'main' PC (currently just running on the on-board graphics). This will be my first ever 'PCI Express x16' graphics card! I'm worried about backward compatability with my 'old' (?!) motherboard (and the low wattage power supply I've ended up with in it) - but based on the reviews I've read, fingers crossed. I'm not the least bit interested in high performance for playing computer games and the like - like everyone else in the world seems to be. Pretty much the ONLY reason I 'needed' the upgrade, was because the motherboard on my main PC only has a single VGA type socket output for the video. My 19" monitor (which I DO like) has the VGA socket AND a DVI socket, so it hasn't really been a problem (even though when I got the monitor, it only came with a DVI cable. I had to use a 'spare' VGA cable to connect it up!). The little 15" flat-panel monitor I bought ages ago (and haven't even really yet used!), only has a VGA socket (it was the cable from IT which I've used to connect my main monitor, hence not being able to use it elsewhere unless I bought another VGA cable!). Anyway - it is my plan (doomed to failure?), that with a new graphics card fitted which has BOTH VGA AND DVI outputs, I 'SHOULD' be able to connect both monitors to the PC simulatneously, and FINALLY be able to run a dual-monitor desktop. There have been MANY occasions over the years, when I would have LOVED to have been able to do that. (The physical size of my desk and my old CRT monitors always made it impractical.) It's become increasingly desireable of late, what with ALWAYS having the scanner control-software running on the screen whenever I'm doing anything. My failing eyesight means 1024x768 resolution is pretty much as far as I can go, so juggling the windows is often a real pain. Given yesterdays auction purchase of the ICOM PCR1000, which is ONLY PC/software controlled, (assuming it's gonna work/be any use to me!), the juggling of windows on my desktop can only get FAR worse! I'm VERY much resisting (the obvious of) having a whole seperate (old) PC running all the time, just for the radio stuff, so I figured it was worth throwing some money at the graphics-card/dual monitors idea!!!!!! I do SO hope this all works out for me (better than my other 'master plan' ultimately did!!!)! I think I know better pretty much what I'm aiming for with everything I'm doing now - it's just a matter of can I actually pull it off (or will duff equipment and people ripping me off, confound it - AGAIN!). I'm feeling permanently all uptight and VERY nervous about things right now - and that, really simply because the money side of it is SO critical to me! I haven't been actively 'keeping score' (my melting-pot finances don't really work that way) but I MUST be pretty close to having used up all the money Mum gave me for Christmas (to keep warm) - and I haven't finished spending it yet!!!!!! I feel SO guilty about 'spending' like this (given everything else I SHOULD be spending it on - like some new clothes to replace the rags I'm wearing! ), it's reaching the point where I'm even feeling loathed to keep detailing it here like I do! Feel really guilty and embarassed somehow - feel I am 'not allowed' to spend money on anything which isn't an absolute necessity (or something to do with the house)?!?!!! :o( . . PCd this at length, wasting away a beautiful sunny day . . .ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of corned beef sandwiches, crisps, banana and chocolate. . napped . . walked. A bit of mist but a pretty clear starfilled sky immediately above nonetheless. HECK of a lift going on on VHF! Picked up Swansea coastguard's MSI transmission as plain as day on the little handheld, right down at sea level! Amazing. Had a good listen around on 2mtrs with the VX-2. Stuff coming in from all over the place. All of a sudden there was a very strong signal coming in from an amateur station using a beam on the Isle of White. Couldn't resist having a go back at him, despite only having the tiny 1.5watts output and foot long antenna on the VX-2. It was NOT possible to have a conversation, but he WAS just about hearing 'parts' of my transmission. Amazing. 100miles or so, simplex on a watt and a half!! . . . chatted locally a bit and listened around on the radio - lots - straight through until midnight! Stuff audible from all over the place. Amazing VHF 'lift' conditions . . . briefly sat in the garden with a coffee in the mist . . TVd . .ate a tin of baked beans, grated cheese, cheddars and a couple of crusts of bread and butter . . to bed around 2am.
11 - Back up around 8am . . walked . . PCd/radiod the whole day away - agonising over e-bay things and my newly honed 'master plan' for radio stuff! There was a bit of a propgation lift on VHF throughout the day, and aside from the usual local coastguard stuff, and a helicopter rescue from mid channel and then flying to a Plymouth hospital etc etc, I even picked up a bit of what appeared to be the Swansea coatguard MSI transmission! . . I 'signed up' for having e-mail updates about international space station amateur-radio activity the other day. Actually recieved my first notification e-mail from them this morning! "ARISS contact planned with school in Bree, Belgium. An International Space Station school contact has been planned Friday 16 March 2012 at approximately 10:11 UTC with students at Middenschool de Regenboog, Bree in Belgium. The contact will be performed by the radio station ON5LL and the downlink signal will be audible over Western Europe on 145.800 MHz FM. -//- The conversation will be conducted in Dutch." Well, shame about the Dutch language aspect of it, but if I can manage to remember - that's DEFINITELY gonna be one to listen-out for for five minutes. Cool. :o) . . . carried-on at the PC/radios, doing nothing much for HOURS! Eventually ended up having a serious go at seeing if I could recieve the SO-50 satellite downlink on 436.795Mhz again, because the HRD software suggested it really was going to be passing over in such a way as to give maximum signal strength for me. Sadly, hugely disappointingly, the attempt was almost entirely futile. Nothing but noise, with a brief moment of just the slightest hint of some voices in the distance. I think it's pretty obvious that given the entirely wrong sort of antennas I'm trying it on, and perhaps more particularly because of my location on the side of a 'black hole' of a valley, it just isn't something I'm ever going to be able to be playing with. Real shame that. I had fancied the idea a little. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, I can make out of the ISS thing on Friday - particularly since I know at least one or two others in other locations around the bay are aiming to listen (because I went on the radio earlier and told them it was happening). If it ends up they hear things (with 'similar' equipment/antenna), and I don't, that'll largely be my answer won't it. . . oh dear - there's something else on e-bay I'm interested in!!!!!! Oh NO!!!!! They don't come along very often! First one I've ever seen on there in fact! Hugely expensive and it'd be an outrageous 'luxury' type thing (for me especially) to throw so much money at - but oh my goodness I'm SO tempted! An 'RF systems SP-3 antenna splitter/combiner' - with a START price of a wapping £68.50 including postage!!!! The way I play with my radio 'toys', I am REGULARLY trying to simultaneously run more radios/scanners than I can possibly have aerials up for. Although a serious compromise with some signal loss, I've long dreamed of having such a passive splitter (for the scanners mostly. You CANNOT simply 'T' piece the antenna cable. I HAVE even tried to! lol). Oh dear - that's just SO expensive - and SO tempting to me nevertheless!!! Arrrgggh!!! :o( . . . took a break and ate a trio of ham rolls, crisps and a little chocolate . . napped poorly for only an hour or so. . ended up straight back on the PC agonising over that antenna splitter some more. I just couldn't resist!!!!!!!!!!!!! The auction was going to end around 8pm while I was out walking Bella. I put a maximum bid of £77.57 on, and promptly turned the PC off and let things take their course, in the full knowledge that quite probably no one else in their right mind would be bidding on such a thing, and I WAS quite liable to win it and have to cough up the money! Gulp! . . walked with a coffee. Beautiful starry evening across the bay - with some VERY bright planets also VERY noticeable particularly in the west. . carefully timed how long I was out and then back home before 9pm and straight back onto the PC. Perhaps not suprisingly, I'd won the antenna splitter auction - for £68.50 including postage. That was NOT why I'd rushed back to get on the PC before 9pm!!!!! I was fully intending to have a go for yet ANOTHER expensive bit of kit I'd been keeping an eye on for several days, which was due to end around 9pm! 'ICOM PCR1000 Computer controlled communications receiver - also fitted with the optional DSP UT-106 unit.'Given what I'm doing with my radio monitoring and playing with toys at the PC, I'd decided I've just GOT to give one of those a go - and potentially repent at my leisure (along with all the rest of the 'msitakes' I've bought, and will make a massive loss on! :o( ). .did my usual, of sitting watching the seconds tick buy, and eventually with a shaking hand, clicked and put on my high bid of £150.52 inc postage. I hit my button around seven seconds from the auction end. The 'connection/system' type delays meant my bid was entered around four seconds from the end. Suprisingly I beat a 'shark' bidder. The shark had apparantly put in EXACTLY the same high bid that I had, and actually ONE second AFTER my bid, but I guess because we both bid the same and mine was first, it was me who won it! If not for those damned couple of sniping 'shark' bidders, it would probably have cost me around £40 less! :o( Oh well - I've paid a low-average going-rate kinda (although of course some HAVE gone for lots less in the past. Such is e-bay - and MY luck with it!). . . . Briefly spoke on the radio with a couple of amateurs out playing 2mtrs over on Portland. Just wanted to see how I get out over that way. There WAS a bit of a 'lift' on, but I was reaching them pretty well on the low power 5 watts setting on the Ft-7900 through the roof colinear. I DO have a bit of an 'opening', down and out of the valley in that direction. Wish I was higher. Such a shame I'm not. That radio and antennna combination really does the business VERY nicely indeed - and yet parts of Torquay just a few miles away are simply inaudible/inaccessable to me!! . . .needed a break from radios and the PC (and spending 'mums' 'to keep warm' money!) and went and sat in the back garden with a coffee in the dark for a while - although even then, I ended up just staring up at the roof for ages, trying to decide which antenna I AM going to buy, to replace my deaf disconne . . Eventually came back in and then went and sat out in the front garden for even longer, having a carefully barely-audible play with the guitar. Beautiful clear sky this evening, and pretty chilly, but for some reason I wasn't particularly feeling it? Sat out until gone moonrise. Eventually came back in to warm up in front the fire and TVd for a bit . . ate a chicken and mushroom pastry slice, crisps, cheddars and then bowls of co-co pops and some chocolate. . TVd until bed around 1:45am.
10 - Up at 6:45am. 15C in, 8C out and mostly all grey cloud again. . . . walked . . guitarred for quite a while out in the conservatory . . did dish washing chores until mum called in . . . . . . cooked and ate a ham ring, two eggs, chips and half a tin of baked beans . . napped . . walked . . PCd/TVd/radiod the night away . . ate cheddars, cheese, crisps, banana and chocolate . . finally to bed around 4am!!!
9 - Up at 6:45am headachey. 14C in, 8C out and grey. . PCd . . walked the woods feeling pretty tired and blah. Bella rampaged as usual, and somewhere along the line ended up hurting herself and limping pretty bad?!! Calmed her down for a bit at least! She eventually seemed to recover and return almost to normal . . oh dear - ended up wasting away yet another day on the PC and radios. Poked around some more trying to understand what satellite frequencies I should be listening to. I seem to be confused and having trouble getting to the bottom of what satellite is on which frequency for some reason. Loads about it all out there on the net of course, but much of what I've been reading up on, subsequently seems to be out of date and for stuff which is no longer operational?! . eventually bumped into a very cool website www.heavens-above.com, which made things very much more simple for me. (The link here, if it works, is for MY lattitude and longitude(ish) - not yours!) That set me on a path of drawing up a completely new, larger bunch of frequencies to program into the scanner and FT-7900 memories for monitoring. Took a while. Only a few minutes after having updated the memories on the FT-7900 and set it scanning, I couldn't believe my ears when the squelch briefly oh SO briefly opened on 436.795Mhz at somewhere around 14:50hrs, and I actually heard a voice calling CQ. Sadly, that was ALL I heard - just 'CQ, CQ' twice amongst the noise and that was it. lolol Nevertheless, that's the first voice 'from space' I've actually heard like that. I think I'm right in saying it must have been via 'AMSAT Saudi-OSCAR 50'. Well - I'll be damned. :o) I really can see how people get into this sort of thing in the hobby, and end up pointing lots of aluminium up at the sky, all for a few minutes opening every few hours or so! lololol I need to learn and understand and hear more. .ate a banana . .walked. Some breaks in the cloud but no sign of any araura effects . back via the store for bread rolls and burgers. . cooked and ate four cheeseburgers . . TVd . . ate bowls of coco pops . . TVd but just couldnt stay awake. To bed at 11pm.
8 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up around 8am. 14C in, 5C out with a hazy sun. .walked and carried on down town with a rucksack. Checked out a couple of charity shops and then hit the Tesco Express for 18 tins of their own-brand dog food for £8.40. . . recovered with a coffee and cigs in the sun at the top of the garden for a bit, while listening to the VX-2 scanning the marine band. A fisheries protection vessel (HMS Mersey) was 'gently' interrogating a trawler about where they'd been, where they were heading, what they'd caught and how much, and what size mesh they'd been using on their gear, before then announcing it was going to be sending over a boarding party for an inspection. Obviously all in a days work for all concerned. . .PCd a bit monitoring radios as ever. Decided to get a load of laundry going and popped into the bathroom to get it just before midday. Just then, the FT-7900 actually broke squelch and halted on a frequency - while scanning the small group of satellite downlink frequencies I'd programmed into one of its memory banks! Oooooh. Dropped the clothes all over the floor and raced back into the PC room (setting Bella off barking!) to see what I was picking up. For the briefest of moments (up to a minute or maybe even two perhaps), I got to hear some sort of 'telemetry/data' signal from something on 145.920Mhz (+ or - with the doppler shift?) as it transitted overhead. Haven't a clue how I can figure out what/which it was, but it DOES prove at the very least, that my colinear on the roof (and even the scanner on the discone albeit less audible), IS 'just', JUST capable of sometimes maybe being able to pick such stuff up. Interesting. I need more to even scratch the surface about understanding any of that! . in the news today is much reporting about a coronal mass ejection from the sun hitting the earth today! Can't say I've noticed anything radio-wise - and no power cuts so far. If the sky stays clear tonight, it'll be interesting to see if there are any noticeable atmospheric effects this far south. Highly unlikely I'm sure. . Right - back down to earth - and the laundry! . . . at 13:15pm the postman delivered a small box. The power supply? . Well - first impressions, the thing really is like new, in a box, complete with (I FULLY expected it NOT to be!) all the different sized interchangeable power tips, still in a sealable plastic envelope! The smallest of the tips DID appear to fit the VX-2, so after fitting it to the end of the lead (the right way round for centre +ve) and sliding the voltage selector to 6volts (allegedly at a very respectable 2.5amps!) , I raced up to the garage and grabbed my multitester. Fiddley - but managed to test and check the voltage being supplied to the 2.35mm diameter miniature tip, by inserting a small sewing needle down the 0.7mm diameter middle of it! Sure enough, 6 volts, centre positive. Plugged it into the side of the VX-2, switched on the power and - yayyyyy - the VX-2 screen briefly reported slightly less than 6 volts (anything between 3.2 and 7 volts is cool) and then correctly indicated it was charging the battery. Excellent! Well - with a bit of luck, I can now PROPERLY charge the battery(s), IN the radio, without having to take the damn thing out every time and then fight to get the cheapo dodgy chinese battery charger to fully charge it (which I KNOW it usually doesn't! I have to keep 'flicking' it with a finger, often throughout, to get it to resume charging!). Early days, but on the face of it, that was WELL worth £6.04 - to me. :o) . PCd this and briefly stopped to look up that power supply on the Maplins website. Currently on promotion for £14.99 (and for me, add on the postage), reduced from £24.99! Coool - as long as it keeps working and doesn't eventually turn out to be faulty in some way! :o). . .ate tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps, banana and biscuits as it clouded over quite a bit outside. Typical! . . BB called to touch base . . napped until around 6pm . . walked a little earlier than of late, to enable me to get to the store for milk before they shut at 8pm. Suprisingly most of the cloud had cleared. Sat in BGdns with a coffee watching the impressive full moon rise and the sky darken. Not a hint of any unusual 'lights in the sky' at all - apart from the 'usual' satellite, which I often spot heading kindof NNE just off to the right of 'The Plough'. All that fuss in the media about the CME and potential chaos etc,etc - as usual, (just like the Y2K thing) much ado about absolutely nothing. Back via the store for milk and a going-cheap pack of minced beef (put straight in the freezer this time). . straight back onto the PC to sit in wait for the end of another e-bay auction I'd been keeping an eye on. Did my usual late high bid thing a few seconds from the auction end, and managed to outbid a 'shark' who put a bid in, just ONE second from the end of the auction! Bagged myself (another) CX-201 SO239 type coaxial switch for £11.09 including postage. That's not 'too' bad - but hardly a great deal. I can ultimately envisage maybe wanting at least yet another of those at some point so I can quickly and easily switch at the very least, my primary roof mounted colinear antenna between scanners and radios etc under differing circumstances as the desire arises! I'm trying to show greater intelligent restraint with stuff I'm going for on e-bay these days, given how much I've burned my fingers in the past. Now I've been playing radio a bit again for a while, and have become better aware of what is currently available in terms of modern equipment and functionality etc, I've VERY much clarified in my mind what 'I' may want from the hobby - and have developed a whole new 'wish list' of things I'd DEFINITELY like to have - INSTEAD of what I've ended up with!! Oh HOW I wish I could turn the clock back and start from scratch, instead of being lumbered with all the stuff I've got which I'm SO not happy with. :o( All the money I've spent in the past on all that 'rubbish', would easily have gone at least half way to paying for the equipment I've now more sensibly figured out I want, to do what 'I' want! I AM gonna have to build myself up to trying to sell some of the stuff I've got, suffer the £££s loss, and have another bash at building up the equipment I REALLY want! A deep money pit! :o/ . . .drank a glass of red wine . .popped into the garden to look at the sky again, but more or less full cloud cover had returned. . guitarred briefly . TVd . cooked and ate a ham ring, two eggs, half a tin of baked beans and four pieces of bread and butter . . TVd until bed around 1:30am.
7 - Up around 8am. 14C in, 10C out with wind and heavy rain. . . walked in full weather gear while the rain eased and succeeded in getting back without being wet through. . . PCd and yet again couldnt muster the energy to do anything. I'm definitely in one of those extended pretty low-mood, not really functioning periods right now. I did at least cut my hair and beard. I did also drag out the old PC I've had stuck in the back of a cuboard for ages, with a view to trying to decide what to do with it. The bad news about that is, it does actually still work rather well for run of the mill stuff, so is gonna be hard for me to just get rid of! . . ate tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps and biscuits . . too late to nap. TVd feeling oh SO tired. . walked in the cold under the stars and full moon . tu - much . . TVd/PCd/radiod/guitarred a little . . ate bowls of rice krispies while watching another enjoyable old Kung Fu episode before to bed around midnight.
6 - Up around 7:15am. 14C in, 3C out. . walked. A dogwalker handed me a tennis ball she'd just found (hers don't play with balls). Pretty sure it was actually ours, and one Bella lost there in the dark a little while ago. Very soon after, while playing ball as usual, Bella fumbled her ball over and over again as she sometimes does, and off it went over a cliff and lost to the sea. I DID try my very best to retrieve it, as I always do, but it was just too dangerous to make sense. Typical. Gain one, lose one. T'is ever thus. :o| . . back via the store for tobacco supplies. 3x50g packs of Golden Virginia @ £44.64. I CANNOT AFFORD THIS!!!! / I CANNOT FACE THE STOPPING! :o( . . desperately tried to force myself to DO something - ANYTHING rather than waste away YET another day - and ended up piddling about in the back garden just a little in the warm sun. Tried to sort out all the chippings and debris from a bit of the bare earth next to the lawn where I took the hedge out, emptied and added the earth from a pot or two, and then finally sprinkled down some grass seed and a little compost over the top before watering. I've NO idea what the 'proper' time of year is to do such a thing, so I'm treating that bit as a test. More cold nights seem to be in the forecast, so who knows if it'll be a waste of seed. Worth a go. . . PCd and monitored radios a little. The local repeater (TR) has apparantly been plagued with an idiot dead-mic-keyer of late. Some complete idiot who just seems to get a kick out of preventing people from being able to chat on there. Utterly bizarre behavior. Just SO utterly pointless!? Somehow I'd managed to miss hearing it happening over the last week or however long it's been going on. Today I DID witness it happening. He just deliberately keyed out anyone who was speaking, and put an end to their conversation! Bizarre. Equally bizarre it seemed to ME, was how everyone just gave up trying to talk as a result, and went quiet leaving TR pretty well unusued for most of the day! (It's hardly much used at the best of times - renowned for being VERY quiet on VHF down this way.) VERY suprised, radio amateurs of all people, would just kinda 'give in/up' like that! Back in CB days, such an occurance would have been like a red rag to a bull, and anyone/everyone (especially out mobile/portable) would have relished the opportunity to attempt to do some direction-finding and track the idiot down. Not so the local amateurs apparantly. :o( Someone had even 'informed' Offcom of the situation!? Huh? Like what do they think THEY would bother to do about it??? All very weird. Anyway - encountering the keying for my first time (when people were still trying to talk through it), I quietly raced to get all my scanners and radios working simultaneously on the input and output frequencies, intending at the very least, to make an educated very broad assessment of the sort of area the person may be transmitting from, based purely on recieved signal strengths etc. Before I could make ANY headway at all, everyone gave up and shut up - so, so too of course did the mic keyer!!! Makes NO sense to me that at all. None of it. VERY annoying - and I must confess, rather confusing/disappointing to me in respect to the attitude of the local amateurs?! . . PCd this for ages . .ate pepperoni, mayo and cheese sandwiches, crisps and biscuits . . napped until just before 7pm . . walked. Spoke briefly once again with a regular evening dog walker. He's a very large guy, and only walks literally a few yards before having to stop to recover, before repeating the process over and over again all around the little circuit he does. Takes him ages! I can often do the whole Bella ball play thing and climb all the way back up to the seats in the time it takes him! Anyway - in conversation, inevitably, it was impossible not to 'eventually' awkwardly come round to the 'weight/food' subject! Turned out he was quite willing to discuss it (I guess he'd had a lot of practice!). Turned out it was a major lifelong battle he'd had with it, and he was actually in line for stomach reducing surgery - but ONLY if he could get his weight down to the required level beforehand. He was younger than me - and apparantly weighed - wait for it - a staggering (to me) 36 stone (504Lbs?)! That's more than TRIPPLE MY weight!! Incredible! I've always had a 'problem' with people who get that fat. Never been very sympathetic about people who go on stuffing their face with SO much food (which IS of course the ONLY way that happens, despite the nonsense that people spout in excuses. People who don't eat much are NEVER fat! Its a fact!) Chatting with that pleasant and honest guy, further boosted an understanding I've reached in relatively recent times. His 'relationship' with food, is oh so VERY similar to my relationship with smoking! The smoking is undoubtedly now absolutely killing me, and yet I still ('must') carry on regardless. I have a full blown 'addiction' (for whatever reasons). Despite being unable to really understand it, I guess I HAVE to accept, HIS version of the very same, was with regard to food!!? . . PCd . . chatted locally just a little on the radio, largely about the phantom mic-keyer until just after midnight. As if to correct my comments of earlier, one of the hams on the radio indicated he WAS all up for trying to track down the mic keyer, and had been and WAS seriously considering going mobile with direction finding antennas etc if things carried on like they had been. THAT's more like it! :o) . . ate a bowl of defrosted stew with four pieces of bread and butter. . TVd until bed around 2am.
5 - Up around 7:15am after almost no sleep at all. :o( 13C in, 4C out. . walked. Yayy. K turned up in BGdns and said he'd managed to get hold of a nice big empty tin for me. (I'd asked him to keep a look out for one where he works, for me to cap over the top of my new PC room eyeball spotlight.) Ended up returning home with the tin (which should do the job nicely) and a bag of leftovers meat for Bella. :o). played with the PC and scanner for hours, but really because I just couldn't face doing anything else - AGAIN! :o( . Received an e-mail telling me the power supply I bought on e-bay has been posted - but second class, so it'll likely be a while before I know if THAT was yet another waste of effort and money (like almost everything else I've bought on there has been!).. It would appear the USB radio-programming leads attached to the PC ARE still all conflicting and being unpredictable, and seemingly occasionaly changing com-port assignments of their own accord - just when you try to use them! :o( . . Had a serious go at trying to pick up something/anything from any passing satellites using the orbit tracker program which came as part of the 'Ham Radio Deluxe' suite I downloaded the other day. I haven't yet scratched the surface of what that suite of programs can do, but it DOES seem pretty amazing and something of a 'must-have' I think. Didn't hear a single peep from ANYthing despite running both the scanner (on the disconne antenna - WITH the Moonraker amplifier attached!) and FT-7900 (on the main, high gain, roof colinear antenna) across ALL the relevant frequencies simultaneously for ages. Even listened for quite a bit with the squelch backed off. That soon got pretty tiring - listening to all that 'white noise' like that! With my failing hearing, I started imagining I was hearing all manner of things beyond reach in the distance! lolol 'Patterns' in the noise, like the human mind does SO inexplicably well! lolol There WAS nothing! :o( !!? . . ended up feeling tired and pretty awful. Couldn't be bothered to eat. Lay down for a nap but had trouble getting to sleep again. Eventually very briefly slept maybe, before back up around 6pm . . walked with a coffee. . TVd . . drank a glass of red wine. Cooked and ate a Mum donated frozen pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and cheese, followed by a whole pack of jam tarts. . TVd (Kung Fu) until bed around 12:30am.
4 - Up around 6:40am. 15C in, 8C out. Heavy rain . . .PCd this trying to wait for the rain to clear. It appeared to - but then didn't. . misjudged things and walked in the rain without full raingear and got wet. Found 5p . . PCd/monitored for a few hours. Pretty quiet on VHF. Everyone seems to have gone to the radio rally which is apparantly on today (Exeter?). A little jealous. Only ever been to one as I recall - MANY years ago - at Longleat! . . suprisingly 'relatively' painlessly managed to get all the radios memory management software and USB cables all back set-up and working. . ate a trio of ham rolls, crisps and chocolate biscuits. . napped . . woken by the alarm at 7pm from a very, VERY deep sleep. Difficulty waking and getting going again. Felt oh SO tired, I decided to have a 'night off' from the walking, and just popped out in the chilly garden with Bella and a ball for a bit instead. Funny thing was, she seemed to be quite happy with the idea of having a night off too, and even chose to end ball play and come back inside after no time at all. . TVd. Suddenly turned pretty cold out again. Had the fire on for a bit. Had my gas bill in the post the other day - for the 'winter' months. Scary opening that, nervous of how much it would likely be after having had the gas fire on quite a bit of late with all the prices sky-rocketing. Well - all I can say is, I guess all that sitting around freezing, wrapped in layers and snuggled under a snuggy so much of the time, was 'almost' worth the effort. For the period 29th November 2011 to 27th February 2012 (for the fire and cooking at the hob) - a 'mere' £49.89! That is less than I'd feared. Hell - I'm being charged (the highest charges in the country remember) £24 per month just for water for goodness sake!!! That puts the absolute f***ing outrage of our high water bills in perspective doesn't it! :o( You hear SO much about 'human rights' these days, I absolutely fail to understand how in THIS allegedly civilised and developed country, it isn't a 'right' that one should have free access to clean drinking water! But no - you can only have that fundamental necessity of life, IF you can afford it!!!!!!!?????? Seems to me there is something very, VERY wrong about that. :o( 'Free' we may be - but free only to be 'slaves' perhaps? :o| (Yeah yeah - I don't know how lucky I am!). .
TVd and somehow got a bit hooked-up in watching a film that was on, and ended up persevering with it and watching it all the way through until 1am. 'Inglorious Basterds' by Quentin Tarantino starring Brad Pitt. A horrificly brutal WWII type story - albeit as it unexpectedly turned out, a COMPLETE nonsense fantasy at the end! What the hell was the point in THAT? I sat through all that horror (and the insessant adverts!) for three hours, only to have such a b*****t fantasy ending like THAT!?? Jeeze. Wish I hadn't bothered. Left me feeling 'unpleasant' and unsettled - and no amount of surfing the channels came up with anything light and pleasant to watch, to improve my mood before bed. :o(
. . ate bowls of co-co pops. . PCd a bit before to bed around 2:30am. Unusually just COULDN'T get to sleep (??), and tossed and turned for absolutely ages! :o(
3 - Up around 8:15am . .15C in, 11C out. Sunny. . . walked . . cleared up just a little and then had a major vacuuming session around the whole house . . PCd a little until Mum called in with the paper and food donations . . ate a bag of crisps, a pepperoni and a corned beef role, bannana and some chocolate. . . PCd, still messing around getting software settings and the like reinstated and how I want them. Finally got round to getting the never-used printer/scanner drivers all working ok. Actually for the first time since I've had it, I FINALLY got round to connecting up the four-port USB hub built in to my nice Dell 1908FPB 19" LCD monitor. Should have done that long ago. I had no idea it would work like that, but it DOES seem to have instantly resolved the habit that my old USB Speedtouch modem had, of instantly using up all the USB resources. Without complaint, the PC can now seem to simultaneously run just about everything I have - all at once!! Leaving everything plugged in, even when not powered-up or in use, I've even ended up with a spare USB socket or two (although I've yet to revisit that nasty business of installing the USB programming leads for the radios, with their conflicting drivers!)! All in all, the setup I'm gradually ending up with, appears to actually be quite an improvement on how it all was before! Surfed for a while trying to read up on the possibility of making a full hard drive copy of how my entire system stands right now. I 'think' it IS possible, but I don't know enough about how, and I'd probably have to go buy some software and at least another hard drive to give it a go, so I'll sadly probably end up never doing so . :o( . . walked with a coffee, and spur of the moment on leaving, decided to walk across town to maybe see if P was around after having walked Bella. . played ball in the big playing field before then walking down to Ps place to say hello - and get the tale from the horses mouth of how he and his mobility scooter plunged off the side of the harbour! Actually quite amusing to hear and imagine it all, now that he's mostly recovered. . ended up with Bella being treated to some of the sandwiches P was eating, and me walking home with a carrier bag containing a frozen beef joint in gravy from his overstocked freezer!!? lol . . back well after 9pm feeling VERY tired and a bit unwell and woozy!. . TVd . . ate two corned beef rolls, crisps, biscuits and chocolate . . to bed somewhere around midnight.
2 - Up around 8am . . 14C in, 5C out again. Still pretty misty/hazey out. Nowhere near as thick as the last day or so at least. It occurs to me, you'd only need a couple of days of thick fog like that, and you'd have loads of (sea) birds all starving to death!! SUCH a precarious existance! . PCd a bit of this. Tired and slow getting going. . walked late. If the sun could burn through this misty haze it'd be a nice spring day. Found 10p. . back via the store for bread and milk as the lifeboat was sent out to retrieve an unmanned drifting vessel of some sort I think . sat in the warm garden with a coffee playing ball a bit . . just firing up the PC (and finally screwing the side panel back on - easy - SUCH a nice case that 'Antec') when I spotted a small spaniel type dog apparantly running loose out in the street!!!! Raced out into the front garden with barking Bella, and watched in horror as a passing car narrowly missed it. Rushed Bella back inside, grabbed her lead and my keys, left her at home and raced off down the road in pursuit - in my slippers!! lol The dog disappeared out of site, heading along a busy road towards the MAIN road!! A passer by indicated it'd thankfully cut-off up a little cul-de-sac 'behind the houses' side street, so I followed and prowled up and down outside them all, trying to find sight of it. It eventually appeared sniffing around in someones wide open garden, looking as though just maybe, that's where it belonged. At length, I decided to enter their garden and knock on the door. As I approached the door I was finally able to encourage the dog near, and eventually managed to get a hold of it and slip Bella's lead over its head. It DID have a phone number on its collar. Unusually (following the instructions cellotaped to the door) I had to actually open the outer door of their porch, to be able to ring their doorbell which was inside. As I did so, the little dog acted very much as though this WAS its home, and pawwed at and then sat leaning against the mud-marked inner door. Rang and rang and knocked and knocked but there was no reply - except for an old sounding bark somewhere inside. Oh dear - I guess I'm gonna have to take it home and try ringing the number on its collar?!! JUST as I was trying to persuade the dog to come back out with me, a woman walking another dog turned up! The dog DID belong there. Something like her sisters dog which they were looking after or some such. There was something rather strange about her attitude I thought. Like she wasn't as concerned as a 'normal' owner would have been? (I'd have been utterly frantic - and SO grateful to me - which she didn't particularly appear to be!??) Anyway, I slipped Bella's lead off, left it with her and returned home - in my slippers! :o| . . PCd this as the all weather lifeboat was sent back out to check on an inflatable off Shoaltsone, following a 999 call from someone reporting two occupants appeared to be waving for help. Yet another well meant false alarm - turned out to be a group of divers all happily doing their thing. . . someone was selling a second-hand ac/dc converter on ebay. A reasonably high current Maplin type, with variable voltage and multiple different sized socket tips. It is 'possible' such a converter 'may' be able to be used to charge the VX2 (assuming it has a compatable sized socket tip) and I'd been intending to maybe buy such a thing sooner or later. Figured it was worth a gamble and putting a bid in on. The postage was a suspiciously high £5, so my maximum bid wasn't gonna be much more than a fiver. Put the bid on and then shut the PC down and let things take their course. . . drank a glass of wine and cooked up some pork steaks, chips and two two months past their sell by date fried eggs. Ate lots. . napped until around 6:30pm. Headachey! . . checked in on the PC and I'd suprisingly won the Switched Mode AC/DC adapter auction for £6.04 including postage. Fingers crossed. :o\ . . . walked late with a coffee. Weird weather - increasing mist turned seemlessly into a light drizzle by the time we were walking home without a coat. Back a bit damp. . . PCd/monitored radios and then ended up playing morse-code-learning for a bit . . PCd this . . ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of tuna and mayo sandwiches, crisps and a little chocolate . . TVd until to bed around 2:30am.
1 - Up around 7:15am . . 14C in, 5C out and a thick fog. Down to only around 100ft visibility. . copied over and reinstated all my photos while making a coffee and having my first cigarette of the day. Just copying back the photos took around thirty minutes! Circa 21GB and twenty two thousand files! . PCd a bit of this . . walked leaving the PC/external drive copying back over all my music files. 76GB and almost twenty four thousand files! Gonna take 'at least' an hour, so perfect for getting done while out. . the bin men were just coming down my road as I set off. Oooh - I wonder if they'll take all that stuff I've put out? . Some ships fog-horns were sounding out in the thick fog. Couldn't even see the water from BGdns! Modern technology or not, I can't imagine how people can safely be at sea in such conditions! How on earth did they manage it years ago?! Would have heard a lot of bell ringing back then I guess. As always - I'll stick to the land thanks very much! . . bizarrely, I could hardly contain my excitement as I returned home - eager to see if the rubbish alongside the bin was gone. Yayyyyyyy - it ALL was. Thank goodness for that. Well - that's a 'load off'. :o) Plenty more where that came from for next time! . . PCd and continued the rebuild of countless programs and downloaded patches and updates and settings, etc, etc - ALL morning and deep into the afternoon!! Still a bunch of things to sort out as problems and missing things eventually emerge over time, but I've definitely broken the back of it now - I think?! Apart from having wasted several days of my life, I've come out of the nightmare pretty much intact I think - and dare to even have a suspicion that the PC is acting a little bit 'smoother' and even quicker in some respects overall as a result. :o) (Is it too weird to admit here, that I've even managed to save all my 'local' e-mails (sent & rcvd) - some of which incredibly date back to the year 2000! How 'anal' is THAT! lolol) . . . PCd a bit of this and tested the FTP/upload before having a much needed break and a bite to eat. Feel headachey and in need of sleep. Too much 'extreme concentrating' of late all of a sudden - and particularly not helped by my failing eyesight and not fit for purpose, off the shelf 'reading' glasses! . .ate a six pieces of bread and butter pile of chopped ham and pork sandwiches, crisps and biscuits . . napped until the alarm at 7pm . . walked with a coffee in the fog. Impossible to see it through the fog, but the pilot boat went out to rendezvous with a ship and then return while I was in BGdns. The sound of its engine was pretty much as normal, i.e. it was going pretty damned quick, including right up to the point where it rounded the breakwater and re-entered the harbour. How on earth can they manage to do that 'blind' like that?! Amazing. . found 15p on the way back. . . 'played' at the PC all evening - literally just playing. Looked at e-bay listings, listened to a little music, and even had a bit of a go at a morse-code tutor type program (MorseCat2) I'd downloaded some time ago. I really have totally lost the ability to read morse anymore ( can't even remember half the characters!) so it's sadly like starting from scratch! :o( Not sure I can be bothered to try to find and invest the required amount of time in re-learning it all. . TVd and guitarred a bit . . ate a tin of baked beans with grated cheese and a bag of crisps . . TVd until bed after 2:30am.