Grid Watch UK

Wednesday 31 December 2014

Christmas past & those presents

Christmas came and went very quickly this year yet again. I must be getting old these days to feel that I don't enjoy it any longer? No sooner we had done the shopping and all the running around for ourselves and the family, stuffed the turkey, had a few visitors and done a bit of entertaining, we were left with nothing more than a few bones and an empty fridge.

The last of the turkey went in the pot a few days ago and we boiled it up for a nice stew, this was really appreciated as the weather had turned colder here since Boxing day the 26th, we even had some snow! After the stew followed a nice piece of homemade Xmas Cake and a large Scotch keeping one in the spirit of things.

Presents were few this year, I cheekily had asked for the money on purpose because I would like a new wristwatch, when the one I have been looking at for quite sometime comes around in a sale in the New Year at the right price.

However, apart from the analogue meter which I have already purchased from the gift cash pot: (see: ). I did receive a couple of other nice little presents too. A book from the RSGB by Eamon Skelton & Elaine Richards. Building a Transceiver  (I currently do not have permission from the RSGB to reproduce or copy, so I cannot provide a photo of the front cover, hence the link. I am working on this one!).

My other tech present was a nice little DMM in the shape of a probe from Mastech Model MS8211:

First thoughts about this, it comes in a sturdy box with instructions and a certificate, complete with a nice case, a couple of leads for the Com, one with a probe and the other with a croc clip attached. The whole unit has got a nice rugged feel about it.

I am looking forward to reviewing the DMM along with the book further down the Blog.

A Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

LD-5 price!

LNR Precision is now flagging a price of $575 (£380 UK) for its new HF QRP radio the LD-5. I guess this price doesn't include shipping?

Currently it is flagged "Out of stock".!/LD-5/p/39885476/category=10468544

I gave a short mention about this radio back in October:

Plus a link to its manual a few weeks later:

If I was buying this radio here in the UK, I would like to see it supported by a dealer, so I hope you all are reading?

Monday 29 December 2014

Spare pocket money

I have always been a big fan of moving coil multimeters, don't get me wrong the digital DMM is great. But there is something about an old fashioned moving coil meter I have always liked, a bit like the boy who grew up to be a man and still loves steam engines I suppose?

Christmas brought me a couple of envelopes with some money and I was busy browsing late last night, temptation got the better of me:

The MF500B is a full sized bench multimeter (plenty of images available on the web):

DC voltage: 0/ 2.5/ 10/ 50/ 250/ 500/ 2500V
AC Voltage: 0/ 10/ 50/ 250/ 500/ 2500V
DC current :0/ 50uA; 1/ 10/ 100/ 500mA
AC current : 0/ 1/ 10/ 100/ 500mA
Resistance(Ω):  R × 1/  R × 10/  R × 100/  R × 1K/  R × 10KΩ
Audio Level: Audio level -10 ~ +220 dB

The price was the best bit, less than £20 UK ($30 US) including delivery! 

It has got to be a bargain:

Sunday 28 December 2014

More component finds

Some recent component finds I have on order for myself, which you may find useful for your own Amateur projects all prices seem very reasonable:

10 pieces of copper clad board useful for building your QRP projects on, size 10cm x 15cm:

2200 uF 16V electrolytic capacitor x 50 pieces:
Ideal for some decent smoothing on your project supply rails:

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Seasons Greetings

                                               Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

                                                      73's & 88's from G1KQH

Monday 22 December 2014

A little mention

Christmas reading time, Sprat 161 popped through the letterbox in this mornings post. I see Graham (G3MFJ) gave me a little mention about the TDA2003's that I recently had come across, he had decided to grab a batch for G-QRP members sales:

What interests me about this chip, as well as being a high powered 10W audio Amp, plenty of circuits which are available on the web. The TDA2003 has also been used in VLF PA design Amateur projects. From G3XBM:

Also at 73KHz The Heyphone John Hey (G3TDZ):
I emailed John recently about the TDA2003 and  he reckons that they will work at 137KHz depending on manufacture? Time to get testing a few on the end of a signal generator..

Saturday 20 December 2014

Simon's Greyline

Simon Brown (G4ELI) author of SDR-RADIO has recently started writing another program called Greyline for Windows, and is still moving it forward. We are now up to Version1 Build 222.

I wrote about this in early October

Since then the Great Circle map has been given a zoom option, and some minor bugs have been ironed out. I also notice there is now an interface for the Yaesu FT-3000 that has been added, not much reference to this at the moment, and as I do not own this radio I cannot test it out? However, I feel there are great things to come from this program, so it is well worth a download and keeping an eye on its website for future updates:

Not much time?

The month of December has come and nearly gone without any Blog output from me, poor show I hear you all say. Christmas shopping and the family have had the better of me of late, but don't worry I will be back to the keyboard shortly after I have eaten the last leg of the turkey.

There are a few little electronic toys I am hoping for this year, as well as a book. All will be revealed very soon!

73 Steve   

Friday 28 November 2014

72 Club Blog from Russia with love

Oleg Boradin who runs the small Russian QRP 72 Club has started his Blog recently to support the club:

Alternative server link:

Some may know Oleg for his small QRP design the Micro 80 that featured in Sprat 72 (Autumn 92).  This is a very small and simple 80m CW Transceiver and is very easy to construct. A UK revised component circuit I found at:

Maybe worth thinking about if your starting out in the QRP route of Amateur Radio.

Friday 21 November 2014

Which is your favourite Baofeng (Pofung) survey results

Time was up a few days ago, results are now counted.

Thanks to all those who took the time to do the survey:

  17 (36%)
  18 (39%)
  11 (23%)

UV-B5 is the winner by 1 vote! The appeal of the eXtra knob on the top to change frequency, or channel, is what must make this model the most popular, manufacturers note! Surprisingly there were no votes for the small pocket sized UV-3R, or the budget UHF 16 channel BF888?

Saturday 15 November 2014

Sourcing the Semiconductors (2)

When you only want a few components for a project, purchasing small quantities off major suppliers can incure handling charges of quite substantial cost! Which makes it uneconomic to buy, unless you are going to place an order for large amounts to make it viable.

G-QRP Club runs an excellent component service for its membership at low cost, and I have been a member for quite a  number of years now, and find the service great! Not only does the club stock common general purpose semiconductors, but also some obsolete parts like 2N3819 FET's that are becoming hard to obtain at the right price. Also hard to source Toroids, Crystals, and other passive components. Even technical books & the new DVD of all the back issues of  the journal Sprat Issues 1-160 is available, again all at excellent prices and delivery to the membership.

My package arrived smartly this morning from Graham (G3MFJ), who looks after this side of the business for the club:

Of course you have to join the club to get the service, but for only £6 a year (UK)  (£12 EU & £13 DX) you also get 4 issues per year of the excellent journal Sprat. That contains about 2/3rds of technical constructional content, ideas, and the rest devoted to members and news about the club etc.

To join contact Membership Sec Tony G4WIF

Or step down to the G-QRP club Website for further details

Thursday 13 November 2014

Arrival of the Radio Communication Handbook

 Cover courtesy RSGB

The new Radio Communication Handbook 12th Edition arrived from the RSGB:

Certainly this has come a long way since I started in the hobby with the 5th Ed back in 1982. 

I  have always seemed to have received it for a present everytime it has been revised over the years. This year was a rare exception, I was able to use my £5 members discount voucher towards the cost of purchasing it myself, for an early Winter read.

The fundamental wheels of electronics is always covered very well, and seems much improved. With Chapters on the Principles, Passive Components, Semiconductors & Valves, The Building Blocks Oscillators, Mixers and Amps etc. Good information for those starting out on the radio road, and the novice who is underway, this is very much a must! Even the experienced like myself who would like to refer back to the basics over time if not sure, will find it contains all the invaluable stuff one is likely to ever need!

Like always, it covers HF Receivers, Transmitters, Propagation, Transmission lines, Antenna basics along with Practical HF, VHF/UHF Antennas, and Microwave RX & TX, enough information to get you clued up for any Amateur test. 

New content I have noticed in this edition is the Eamon Skelton EI9GQ Transceiver project, which featured in Radcom sometime ago. Here it is condensed into one chapter in abridged format, and is well worth the buy of the book alone! If you are interested in building a QRP transceiver, or something decent and uncomplicated that will work, by understanding the way he lays it all out in a simple format from stage to stage, this is certainly the section that one needs to read.

Also an excellent VLF chapter that also covers the new 472KHz allocation, along with a good Data & Computers in the shack section, including a small mention of the Raspberry PI & Arduino. Along with EMC & Power supplies, Morse Code, Test equipment, Construction & Workshop practice. 

There is so much packed into its 864 pages and I have only touched on a small part. But it is a great reference and addition to the Shack.   
This is the book that sets the benchmark and may be the only one you ever require!

Friday 7 November 2014

Sourcing the semiconductors (1)

When you build small QRP projects, one is always hungry for Transistors at the right price! I found a kit that has the most useful general purpose types, this will certainly build most stages of a QRP Transceiver and other projects.

600 Pieces, 15 Different PNP & NPN, 40 of each. You can't really go wrong for £8.66  ($13 US) including shipping and the case too.


2N2222 NPN
2N3904 NPN
2N3906 PNP
2N5401 PNP
2N5551 NPN
A1015   PNP
C1815   NPN
C945     NPN
S8050   NPN
S8550   PNP
S9012   PNP
S9013   PNP
S9014   NPN
S9015   PNP
S9018   NPN

Down to Banggood again for the full details:


Martin Lynch & Sons to move store

I received an email this morning from ML&S, that they are moving their Chertsey store to bigger premises in the New Year:

Pop down to the link below for more details:

I wish them well with the move and for the future..

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Flying the flag

Well not quite, but flagpoles do make an excellent way of hanging a long wire, as you will find out below:

My friend Pete (G4WQR) rang me recently, he had been looking for a couple of 20ft poles, his current anchor for his long wire a tree, was going to have the chop. He said, "have you seen the price of 20ft poles? By the time you get one home via the post your talking £50!! Do you have any ideas Steve?" I said "leave it to me and I will have a look around".

Sure enough, anyone advertising aluminum for antenna work is expensive! But I had seen Flagpoles recently on ebay, and I wondered if these would be good enough to use? The spec looked good, and as I was not going to be the guinea pig they had got to be worth a try at half the price of antenna poles from emporiums.

He took my advice and ordered a pair from the link I found on ebay, we waited, they arrived very quick! Both well boxed, perfect just made for the job! I went over to see recently, by which time he had managed to errect one:

The contents of the box below including flags. (not shown is another small box which contains a few accessories, including cord, and a pulley which is perfect for hoisting the antenna). The small black 2ft tube is the ground sleeve, which you have to concrete in. The Pole is 2" diameter sectional, which simply slots together to form the complete length.

After viewing and taking a few photos, I was asked if I could dig a 2ft hole for the second pole and a mix a bit of fast setting concrete, easy done than said, phew! I did earn a few mugs of tea and a bacon sandwich.

Concrete complete with one section of pole installed in the sleeve:

Conclusion, an excellent economic way of hanging a long wire for HF work. The flagpole may be suitable for a small 3 element 2m beam if well guyed, and maybe a couple of exhaust clamps to hold the sections together a bit tighter?

I will be buying a set now too!

Ebay reference: 

Friday 31 October 2014

Halloween UK 2m Licence NOV

Just updated my licence by Notice of Variation to extend the band coverage 146MHz to 147MHz..

It was done in a flash! Or quicker than you can make instant coffee.. You can download a copy of the NOV straight away in PDF format, and there is an email sent back to you with a link to a copy, once you have completed the online application.

*Note Geographic restrictions, and upper band limit apply in some parts of the UK, see link below.

25W Max erp. Digital modes only. Available to Full licencsees only! NOV is for 12 months and expires on 31/10/15

I don’t understand why we require more digital Bandwidth when there is very little activity on the main 2MHz already allocated?

Step down to the RSGB link below, armed with your licence number:

Band plan & details here:

Thursday 30 October 2014

LNR publish LD-5 manual

If all goes according to plan, they plan a soft launch of initial production run in a couple weeks, with full scale mass production following shortly thereafter.

For now though you can download the manual at the link below:  

Saturday 25 October 2014


My latest headline Blog regarding the precision ref board will have to take a back seat..

I have just read on G4ILO's One foot in the Grave Blog, that Julian lost his long battle with his illness yesterday: 

Julian was an inspirational writer, anything new he spotted, purchased, or built, he brought to the forefront of his Amateur radio blog:  Letting us all know his thoughts and modifications. He tried everything from bargain street kits, Baofeng's to Elecraft, and software writing. He enjoyed his hobby and blogging, which was always written to a very high professional standard.

I am going to miss his regular updates on his blog, because I really enjoyed reading what he had written, and couldn't wait for the next item he was going to write about. 

My thoughts and condolances must go to his wife Olga and family.

RIP Juilan Moss G4ILO

Calibration time

If your in the right place at the right time a useful bargain can be found..

I had been looking at a way of checking calibration of my DMMs on DC, and this useful board will do that for £4. Using an AD584K Precision reference chip, that will output 4 high stab Volts by the flick of a switch:

                                  10.0 V  +/- 10   mV
                                    7.5V   +/-   8   mV
                                    5.0V   +/-   6   mV
                                    2.5V  +/-    3.5mV

Figures quoted are for 15V feeding the input of the board

I have seen these on the Internet at various sources, but my link proved to be the cheapest I could find:

There is also a full spec sheet on the device at the above link.

I will come back to this when I have boxed it up and terminated it for better protection.. 

Saturday 18 October 2014

Which is your favourite Baofeng (Pofung)?

We all call them Baofeng the original name, but now they are called Pofung. Who really cares about the name? They are a budget priced HT capable of 2m/70cm and other freqs, they have lots going for them.

Take the survey to the right of the Blog and lets see which one of the 5 you like.

We have the pocket sized UV-3R which includes all models MK1/2.  and Plus..
The full sized UV-5R, again includes all models RA, RC, RE etc.
UV-B5 and UV-B6
The rugged UV-82
The budget priced BF-888s 16 CH UHF model.

                                          UV-3R     UV-5R    UV-5B/B6  UV82    BF-888s

I will let the survey run for a month, perhaps in the comments you will let us know what you like and don't like about them?

Of course if you don't own a Baofeng yet, take a trip down to Hans PD0AC Blog, and do a search for a model which takes your fancy, he has written full reports on most of them:

I know which one is my favourite which is yours?  

Friday 17 October 2014

The hits keep on coming!

You do wonder when you start publishing your finds, and thoughts, via a blog if folk will read them?

Well a look at the stats reveal they do:

United Kingdom
United States

Thanks for reading I will write some more soon.

Thursday 16 October 2014

PSDR from Michael Colton

A new open source Portable HF SDR Transceiver is evolving from Mike Colton (KE7HIA), a self taught designer. Named the PSDR. It is full coverage (up to 30MHz) Transceiver, plus 144MHz. Using an ARM 168MHz processor, colour display, and an innovative interface.

For full details check out Mike's project here:

Tuesday 14 October 2014

LNR LD-5 no news is good news?

What could be the QRP rig of the year, many of us are still awaiting for the release of the LNR-5 from the makers of the Par EndFedz antenna.


Since I passed on the news of this radio to G3XBM's blog umpteen weeks ago when I first spotted it on the LNR precision Facebook pages, the only thing I can report at the moment is the LNR website has been upgraded with general information, plus a short form spec, and highlighted Ordering Information Soon.

With Christmas on the way we eagerly await an announcement of price, I guess they are just doing the final tuning before release?

Monday 13 October 2014

Amplifiers by Peter Rodmell G3ZRS

The man behind the Linear Amp Peter Rodmell G3ZRS founder of Linear Amp UK  has published a book.

  • Everything you need to know about Valve Amplifiers
  • History of Valves
  • Classic Valve Amplifiers
  • Fault finding
  • How to make amplifiers for HF and VHF
  • ATU's and Tuners

I have also seen it being sold on ebay too.

Update (16.10.14) RSGB have stock:

Follow me.

If you have joined this Blog site in the last few days, please note I have unlinked it from my Google+ account, so please join again via the Followers link  top right of this msg

If your new to reading this Blog, again please use the Followers link, it would be appreciated to know who is reading it..




Sunday 12 October 2014

New software!

A new software package for Windows from Simon Brown (G4ELI) is slowly emerging. Everyone should know Simon for being the original author of Ham Radio Deluxe, and most recently his superb SDR-Radio package: (currently as I write this the SDR server appears to be down?)

The new software is called Simon's Greyline and is a FREE download without any restrictions.

Latest version is Build 157 and is available from

As I said before the software is"slowly emerging", so I expect more modules and additions to appear over time.

Here are screenshots from my system which the software allows you to produce via a press of a simple Icon at the top of the main Toolbar.

Currently the main screen shows a Map with Greyline and QTH info, with optional side panes, clock, solar data and geomagnetic data windows to the main display. Different configurations are available, you will just have to have a play around with what suits your mood.

From the top of the Toolbar there is a sub menu marked "More" which will then call up three other graphical sub screens via their seperate Icons.. Geomagnetic indices, Solar Data, and Sunrise & Sunset as below:

Geomagnetic data

Solar Data

Sunrise Sunset

This is a great addition to the shack desktop, for those who require up to date Sunspot and Solar flux Data. I currently have it loaded on a Windows 7 (32) package, but I expect it will work on XP and anything upwards without any problems.

Give it a try and have a play and see what you think?

Saturday 11 October 2014

Stocking up!

My resistor supply was getting a bit low, so I found a great deal for 2500 pieces, 50 Value kit, 1/4W 1/% Metal film:

Infact the price was so good, I ordered 5000 they arrived  here in less than a week direct from China.

Building the Kenwood TS-990s HF/6m radio

The wife won't let me have one yet, but the video is well worth a watch and you may go and raid your piggy bank afterwards?:

Friday 10 October 2014


I have been thinking about this for sometime, after some Ham friends and others have said to me "Steve you have good ideas at times and find some excellent search's for us Amateurs why don't you write a blog? You have been feeding others with the information for years" True I have made some excellent friends like Roger G3XBM via his great blogging exploits and  QRP projects, along with Hans PD0AC's radio antics . I don't expect I will write things to the same high standard as these pair for a while, as I do not have the time at the moment, but I hope I will make some sort of valuable contribution to Amateur radio over the years..

A bit about myself, I have been licenced since 1984. I never went to a RAE course, I just read up a few books on the subject like the Radio Communications Handbook  armed with this info I walked into Cannock Chase technical college, and came out with 2 passes after nervously waiting for a few months for the results.. Not bad I thought? Of course I had been interested in radio since the mid 70s when I built crystal sets, and worked in the local television shop on a Friday after school and all day Saturdays. Along with the school radio club,  backstage lighting productions and the local drama club Rugeley players, I carried the knowledge forward and got some sort of career out of it and worked in the trade at Thorn EMI Automation's Test dept for 14 years or so..

Since 1984 my main Amateur interests have been largely around VHF/UHF and some 50MHz operation, using a Yaesu FT-736R. Nowadays it is small HF QRP projects (when I can find the time to construct).  Some may remember me from the AX25 Mailbox (GB7RUG) I ran for over 5 years,  I built it myself from converted ex CT2 units for the TNCs, and Pye PMR M & MX series radios for the radio ports, along with a 386 PC running DOS and FBB mailbox software on top of a G8BPQ node switch  package. It certainly was  full of fun and stress with 60 users at its peak, mail forwarding South to GB7COV via a 70cm link & North via a 4m link to GB7NOT. Fully operational 24/7 Serving Mid Staffordshire Radio Hams, it never failed once!  I retired the BBS at the end of 2001, I felt it had run its course with the Internet now in full steam..