Grid Watch UK

Sunday, 18 October 2020

The return of...

 Yes I am sort of back at it, but the family problems have not gone away.




I am currently working on a signalling system for a local model railway club.

This is a quite a big arrow to my bow, as I am not quite sure what I am doing yet? A big learning curve is required to take it all in. I have to take out the old analogue system, that is operated by a creaking relay logic system, and move it over to a more advanced software/hardware driven system, with a RS485 data highway switching the signals.

 


 It should keep me my mind active for another couple of years, especially as all rally visits at weekend now have been cancelled due to Corona..



Monday, 31 August 2020

Why I signed with Google Adsense.

For years I had tried to get an Adsense account accepted on this blog but for some unknown reason it was rejected? I didn't understand the complicated email reply they sent back at the time, even others I showed  the email to were also puzzled? But I came to the conclusion, that in the blog's early days of it's birth, there wasn't enough content on here for them to entertain an Adsense account, so I never really bothered pushing again until now.


During last week I had some spare time available  (very rare at the moment) so I applied again,  this time I was accepted and the Adsense account was opened. Nothing different had changed on my part or had the blog been altered in anyway?


If folk don't understand what Adsense is, it is a system that places adverts around the blog's spare unused space. Down the sides, along the top or bottom, or sometimes within the content. It can either be setup manually, or auto. The latter is how I have set it up, because I have little spare time to mess around, adverts will be automatically placed in the areas it thinks best.
 
Yes I get paid a small amount in return, mainly if someone clicks on the advert and goes off and views it.

 I have tried to set it up that it will show advertising from things that will be of interest to you the person that comes here and that reads the blog. Although this cannot be guaranteed the adverts will be applicable to its content?
 
How will this help me?

I don't expect I will be riding around in a Ferrari! But it may help fund the purchase of small items, which may be of interest to the hobby which I will be able to test out and review in the future musings,  making the blog more exciting with content.

So it is a win win situation for us all, so can I please encourage you to pop into the blog on a regular basis and click the adverts of interest from time to time.

Thanks!

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Where have you gone G1KQH?

Many have wondered why there has been no output from me on this Blog? Quite simply, I have not had the time of late to play Amateur radio, or update my Blog. As I have stated previously there are family issues I am having to deal with on a daily basis, which have been taking up most of my spare time and which are still on going and maybe for sometime yet?

Some of you recently sent me emails regarding the G3LEK key, and requests for links to my Blog, I will get around to replying to you all.


So here's hoping you have all have managed to dodge the virus and have stayed safe? I suppose by luck it has not been at critical levels in the area where I live, and we have been thankful for that, although it has added further restraint to our lives.

 So for now I leave you with a photo of the person behind the Blog, something for you all to throw darts at when you are next in the shack. I hope to be back at the hobby not too long into the distant future.

73's Steve..

Yes we can make quality in the West

Just searching through my desk drawer I came across one of my first calculators from the late 1970's at the time when I would be in the 4th or 5th year at Senior school (Aelfgar for those who may know the area now long gone).



Simple functions, and LED tunnel display, but inserting a new 9V battery it sprung into life.




The best bit came when I read the back plate, yes it was made in the "United Kingdom".

 

This should give hope for us all in the West that we made quality products that last the test of time, and should prove production should return once again.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

The G3LEK key that turned up in Chile?

There was always a key player who I have always credited for getting me interested in this radio hobby and electronics. Len (G3LEK), who lived at the time in the 1970's five doors away from me in Fortescue Lane, Rugeley, during my youth. The first time I came across his radio gear is when his son Martin who I used to play with in the road, invited me into their old concrete garage one cold Winter's morning. The back of the damp musty garage always had these strange bits of equipment with wires springing out and meters and stuff just hanging there in thin air, I never really took much notice about the stuff at the time. Until this one morning, there was Len, pumping away at an old primer stove with a brick on top trying to keep warm "Brrrr it's cold Stevie" he said. While he was busy working away he had setup this ex military piece of radio equipment jacked up at an angle on a couple of blocks of wood in the centre of the garage. It must of been a very interesting experience, because I was only around 7 or 8 at the time and he allowed me to twiddle the VFO and tune in these wonderful Short Wave stations from around the world, it was quite amazing! Especially when I could see these glass things giving off a strange orange glow at the rear of the front panel, the Radio stations I tuned you would never hear of today, the transmissions and their stations silenced and long gone! It would of been about 4 years later, I started building crystal sets, and on in my late teens went to work in the Test department for Thorn Automation, where Len also worked as a system designer after he had cut his craft being a radio operator in the Merchant Navy in the 1940's.

Of course being a ships ex Radio Operator, Len was also a very proficient CW operator, and this never left him throughout his Amateur radio years.

A few days ago Martin contacted me, who is now 2E0LEK and following in his late Dad's footsteps with the hobby.

WOW !! I am amazed .... A British engineer has contacted me through the RSGB regarding my late Fathers CW Morse Key, and it is in Santiago Chile. I have been wondering where it had gone, and now I know.





Martin said the chap who has got the old key is Simon, and he said it can be a bit iffy ....  His XYL is Angie who bought it from an antiques dealer in Santiago. The dealer found it in a secondhand market in the city, called Persa Bio-Bio……Apparantly a fascinating place to visit if you ever get the chance (but don’t carry any valuables and be very careful).

Ref:https://www.fleamapket.com/listing/persa-bio-bio/


So Martin is now on the chase to find out how the key arrived in Chile? I know when Len left the old bungalow where he once lived, he cleared the garage out and filled up his VW camper van and took most of the ex MOD equipment to a place called Thackers at Cheslyn Hay (long time gone), Thackers were scrap dealers and breakers in ex ministry gear.

Leave comment below if you have come across the G3LEK CW key on it's travels. Martin would like to hear from anyone, who might know something. 
   .

Saturday, 14 December 2019

uBITX V6 turns up the heat!

Huge sales of the uBITX around the globe is one kit that has certainly raised the profile of Amateur Radio. An HF radio kit which got many back and involved in the hobby, with many interested in construction once again. It has proved easy to put together for most, with a pretested PCB, along with a simple set up procedure. Ashhar Farhan and his small company HF Signals, have been credited with a huge success story of uBITX sales, on top of his now retired BITX40 single band 40m kit. It has kept a small team in employment back in India and that  is also a good thing.

Where could he take the uBITX from here?

Well you have only got to blink these days and things always get updated very quick!






The new V6 uBITX could be the wolf that eat the cat meooow!

Gone is the two line 1602 display, a new 2.8" LCD touch screen is it's replacement. No soldering required is part of the new uBITX sales statement, is this a rig that now plugs together like lego? Gone are connections that once had to be soldered with wire to the 3.5mm sockets for mic, key etc. These are now attached to the new V6 PCB, along with the variable resistor for the volume control, even the encoder doesn't need a soldering iron anymore it comes already attached and soldered up with a plug ready to push into the revised board.


There are two flavours of kit, as before you can just buy the tested PCB kit with raduino, display, hardware and stuff it in a box of your choice (Basic kit) . Or there is now a second choice of a professional predrilled case, (Full kit) which really takes the uBITX to retail standard and looks the part. Both kits, even come with a fist microphone ready to plug in and a speaker for those that purchase the full kit.

Those that have purchased V5 PCB can upgrade to the 2.8" display and update the Raduino firmware, and should read these notes:


For those who are using the 16x2 display and you would like to upgrade, you will have to do three things:
1. Add a heatsink to the 7805 of the raduino
3. Grab the new Arduino sketch from https://github.com/afarhan/ubitxv6

I also found the displays are available on ebay.

Further details on it all read this thread here

Head down to HF Signals here for full details about the kit. 



Saturday, 16 November 2019

A 100MHz Handheld Oscilloscope for £54

We have never got enough toys in our cupboard. Dave Jones down at EEVblog always turns up with a few exciting bits of test equipment at times, that could be useful to our hobby. The FNIRSI-5012H that might be another good catch from one of his recent tech videos?

Sold as a Single channel 100MHz Scope for less than $80 with what does come with a few flaws, feebles and bugs, which makes it really a 20MHz workable unit. But it does go to show the Chinese are hot, and going places, where manufactures in the West would never enter a market for such a bargain price.





I did a bit of research afterwards and Banggood sell what appears to be the same model as the Dainu ADS5012H for less than £54 UK!! link here.