Grid Watch UK

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

VOAPROP configuring 2021

Sunspots are getting higher! 
 
Band conditions are improving once again, it's time to get active!  It is nice to be able to crunch all the data and get a daily understandable, updated plot, and find out what bands may be workable, where and when, under this improving cycle.

VOAPROP is a graphical propagation presentation program, written many years ago by the late G4ILO, used in conjunction with VOACAP as its engine. It is something I have used for years, until I encountered a PC crash recently that took out my motherboard, and which I had to scrap off  the entire computer and set up a newer PC with a copy of Windows 10.  
 


 
However the new installation of VOAPROP didn't go smooth, and it made me scratch my head over a few long nights.
 
The first problem encountered, the software was not updating the Solar data? I know G4ILO had done some work on this around 2014 when WWV changed the solar file format. This is  logged in G4ILO's last notes about the update.
 
 Important notice: 
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Because of a change in the format of the WWV solar information file updates now fail with an error. Thanks to Mirek, OK1DUB a fixed version of the file has been made available. The URL in the Solar Data window must be http://ok1dub.cz/wwv/wwv.txt ) 
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
OK1DUB runs the server that takes the newer file format, and then converts it to the old format VOAPROP can use
 
However the above link which the software comes packaged with now proves dead!
 
But the server still continues to work, and it's new link which URL I eventually found, must be pasted into the program Solar Data window is:  https://ure.cz/wwv/wwv.txt
 
Second problem encountered with Windows 10. When I pasted the new URL into the software, still produced an error and was not updating the voaprop.config file? Again another few hours of late night head banging and scratching, Grrr! Eventually, I found the reason why?
 
 
This is down to a configuration setting against the program itself, and Windows 10. What you must do, is right click on the VOAPROP icon on the Windows desktop, and click Run as administrator then add the URL again to the Solar data window, and this time it will update the file, and everything will then start to work, and you will see the Solar data update.
 

 
 
If you also pop down to Mirak's site http://ok1dub.cz/wwv/ you will also be able to find updated ssndata.txt and beacons.txt files which you can download and update in the root of the program.

Once you have all this updated, the program will perform flawless without any problem.

  

My thanks must be to the late G4ILO for writing such a superb piece of software, and his family that still keep his website open https://www.g4ilo.com/

 

 


Monday, 4 October 2021

Remember what it was like without it all?

 

Remember what it was once like without Facebook, and Instagram, and we had dial up Internet..

The dark nights are certainly back and Facebook has failed!
 
 
Time to return back to Blogging, watch this space! :-)
 
 
 


Saturday, 13 March 2021

EMF calculator

For those in the UK worried about the new pending Ofcom ICNIRP EMF rules.

I have found an excellent EMF calculator program from the late VK3UM, infact I would say it is the best I have come across yet.

Well worth a download and a play with:

https://www.vk5dj.com/VK3UM%20EMRCalc%20Ver%207.12%20Install.zip


 

EMR calc V7.12 runs in Windows and is very easy to get up and running, allowing a variation of  most parameters you can think of.

It comes with a preset load of settings, including Freq, PWR, TX loss. Transmission type (CW, SSB, FSK etc). Antenna type Dipole, Vertical even a G5RV! 

Or you can customise it more or less to your own settings.

I have also been informed this will run ok under Linux using Wine.

Good luck!

STOP PRESS:

Useful references: 

RSGB EM Field Exposure 

Ofcom Publication Date: 11 March 2021 Ofcom’s new EMF licence condition ( Draft Version) 

ICNIRP Guidelines 2020

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Snow stopped Transmission.

 This Sunday morning we have had a good dumping of snow over the Midlands area..

 

 

Around 12:00 GMT as I write this, my VHF/UHF array of antennas strapped to the side of the house are well plastered with the white stuff.  

Outside Temperature is Zero Centigrade.

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Armbian Linux for Arm processors and Android TV Boxes.

It's always interesting when I write, to see what feedback or help is out there. I encourage you all to write back your thoughts in the comments below.

The recent blog about Linux Mint 20.1 created a stir on amateurradio.com, where my scribbles are relayed over and duplicated. Paul VA3ZC got in touch, and said "Have you tried Armbian? Linux for ARM devices".

So a quick trip down to the link https://www.armbian.com/  Reveals a good download area for hardware which you may like to try it out on. Although the Raspberry Pi is not listed, surely it can't be long before something is ported over.

 I know recently Ubuntu Linux has been ported for the Raspberry Pi. But are there cheaper methods of playing around with Linux and using it to advantage our hobby?

Paul mentioned he uses  an old Android TV Box. I have one of these which I use coupled up to my main TV for watching Youtube on.

 

             This is mine I snatched out from under the TV for demo purposes. 

The advantage of the Android TV box they are cheap! A mini computer all self contained inside a little box. Normally they include a power supply, simple remote, and work straight away out of the box when you plug them into your TV, booting from their internal Android firmware. They are also very simple to get running with Linux (in most cases). Adding a keyboard and mouse, blow the Linux firmware on to an SD card, and  away you go (In theory anyway).


 

 

  As you can see from the above two photo's good connectivity is included.

If you would like a little play around with Linux they have got to be an excellent starting point, and if you don't like it or get get fed up, brick it, or just end up throwing it into the corner of the shack, you haven't lost much.

You buy them from the likes of ebay, just type in Android TVBOX. You need to check first that the processor type is supported before you buy. Here is an example at around £20 UK:

 https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Smart-Wifi-TV-Box-Android-Quad-Core-Remote-4K-HD-Media-Player-3D-8GB-Streamers/293698849998?hash=item4461d0ccce:g:dEkAAOSwS41fH-VW

As well as the Armbian website support there are lots of videos on Youtube to a show you how to go about installing Linux.

(Depending on processor type):

Here is one I dug out, there are plenty of others, but it shows you the basics how to go about and get it running with Armbian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xezRDUCDkg 

Hope that helps! 


Friday, 8 January 2021

Kiwi online SDR G4DYA

The online G4DYA Kiwi SDR receiver is just 9 miles North of my QTH. Situated at Stone, Staffordshire. UK.

It has an excellent range of Amateur bands, and even goes down to LF 136KHz and 472KHz, it also has some good decoders built in to play around with for CW, PSK and even WSPR.

Ideal to test band conditions and your equipment.

Join in the fun here http://kiwisdr.lamont.me.uk:8073/


Linux Mint 20.1 Ulyssa Xfce released.

 

Latest version of Linux Mint released  https://blog.linuxmint.com/ 

I am hopeful there will be a version for Arm processors soon?