Amateur Radio | Open Source Software | Electronics

Saturday, 26 November 2016

On 08:56:00 by G7VGY   No comments
Linux Mint 18 Sarah has now been released and is avaliable for

Friday, 25 November 2016

On 15:10:00 by G7VGY   No comments
To make use of the Tuner button on my IC 7100 I needed a cable to connect between the rig and my LDG Z-100 Plus Autotuner. A quick Google revealed several sources of such a cable, however at over £20 I thought it was a bit expensive, so I decided to make one myself.

I had in the shack some suitable cable, some heat shrink and some cable sleeving, I just needed a DC power plug, a 3.5mm stereo jack and a 4 pin Molex connector. All three items were purchased via eBay for just £6 including delivery.

Once all the parts had arrived in the post, I measured out a suitable length of cable, then cut three more, ending up with red and black for power and white and green for the key and start functions needed in order to operate the ATU.

A simple pin out diagram for the cable is available on the LDG website, and I used this to wire up all of the connections, I opted for soldering the Molex connector as I didn't have a suitable crimping tool to hand. After that I slid over the cable sleeving, previously purchased via eBay, then two lengths of heat shrink, one for each end of the cable. At the other end of the cable I soldered the DC power plug next, then finally the stereo jack.

At this point I switched my IC 7100 and the Z-100 Plus off, and connected up the cable to test it. Once connected, and the rig powered back up again, a TUNE icon appeared on the IC 7100 display indicating it had detected my ATU, and a press of the TUNER button set off the Z-100 Plus tuning up my antenna.

After the quick test, I powered everything down, then got the heat gun out to shrink the heat shrink tubing completing my little cable assembly.

Now it is all connected back up, all I have to do to tune my antenna is to press the TUNER button on the IC 7100 and wait a couple of seconds for a match to be made. How simple is that?!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

On 14:27:00 by G7VGY   No comments
If you would like to give Ubuntu 16.04 LTS a try without the risk of damaging your existing PC you can download an ISO file and create a Live DVD. With the DVD you can boot your PC into a Live Desktop mode, this will load the operating system into memory and will allow you to try Ubuntu without making any permanent changes to your PC.

Follow these steps to get going:

1. Download the ISO file from the Ubuntu website
2. Load a blank DVD into your DVD drive
3. Go to your Downloads Folder
4. Right click on the ISO file and select Burn Disk Image, the following window will appear:

5. Select the current DVD drive that you want to use to burn the image
6. Click Burn, after a few seconds the burn process will start and the status bar will update:

7. Once the image has been successfully burnt to the DVD, reboot your PC
8. Enter your PC’s boot loader options menu, normally by pressing either F2 or F12
9. Select the drive containing the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS DVD and press enter
10. Allow the boot process to begin and run, when prompted select the Try Ubuntu button to boot into Ubuntu.

Once the boot process has completed you’ll be able to explore Ubuntu using the Live Desktop preview. You’ll be able to try out many of the included applications and you’ll be able to test any hardware such as printers and graphics cards.

Whilst running the Live Desktop you won’t be able to save any data or make any changes, and as soon as you reboot your PC you’ll be able to go back to your original operating system. You can however install the operating system from the Live DVD should you wish by double clicking on the Install Ubuntu 16.04 LTS icon.

For more information and to read the guide on the Ubuntu website, click here.

On 13:18:00 by Dave Childs   No comments
Last week, the latest long term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu was released along with the official varients including Xbuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME and Ubuntu MATE. Code named Xenial Xerus, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS marks the 6th long term support release made by Canonical and will receive 5 years of support which will include security updates, bug fixes and updates to key applications.

Head over to the Ubuntu download page to get your copy now.

Friday, 1 January 2016

On 20:14:00 by Dave Childs in , , ,    No comments
Whilst not wishing to spend New Year's Eve in the shack playing radio, I decided I'd let WSPR run over night, on both transmit and receive.  I also decided to operate on 5 MHz, as I've only just got into operating on this band, albeit just listening to other QSO's previously.

So, after 24 hours of activity, and quite a few other stations operating on the band, here is a picture of the spots that I've heard and of those who heard me:

Below is a table of all the stations that have uploaded spots of my signal to the WSPR website, in reverse order.  G4ZFQ over in Cowes here on the Isle of Wight was my closest spot whilst W1VR takes the place of the furthest spot at a distance of just over 6800 km.

 2016-01-01 07:56  G7VGY  5.288699  -15  1  IO90is  5  PI4THT  JO32kf  588  71 
 2016-01-01 07:56  G7VGY  5.288698  -2  0  IO90is  5  DF4UE  JN48rr  804  102 
 2016-01-01 07:56  G7VGY  5.288698  -9  0  IO90is  5  DB0ZDF  JN49cx  679  94 
 2016-01-01 07:38  G7VGY  5.288701  -29  0  IO90is  5  OZ1IDG  JO65bg  1025  56 
 2016-01-01 07:38  G7VGY  5.288699  -12  0  IO90is  5  LB9YE  JP54pu  1727  20 
 2016-01-01 07:08  G7VGY  5.288729  -16  0  IO90is  5  GM4SFW  IO77sn  783  346 
 2016-01-01 06:14  G7VGY  5.288701  -23  0  IO90is  5  DC7JZB  JO62qj  1027  74 
 2016-01-01 05:44  G7VGY  5.288707  -20  0  IO90is  5  OZ9ACF  JO65bi  1029  55 
 2016-01-01 05:12  G7VGY  5.288719  -19  1  IO90is  5  KK1D  FN31vi  5356  288 
 2016-01-01 04:44  G7VGY  5.288697  -24  0  IO90is  5  W1UU  FN41qn  5236  287 
 2016-01-01 04:10  G7VGY  5.288707  -26  0  IO90is  5  PA3GHJ  JO22gb  429  68 
 2016-01-01 03:40  G7VGY  5.288699  -12  0  IO90is  5  OZ7IT  JO65df  1033  56 
 2016-01-01 02:58  G7VGY  5.288693  -23  0  IO90is  5  EA8/DK5HH  IL28ub  2752  208 
 2016-01-01 01:58  G7VGY  5.288747  -12  0  IO90is  5  W1VR  EL98it  6894  282 
 2016-01-01 01:18  G7VGY  5.288715  -16  0  IO90is  5  DK6UG  JN49cm  691  98 
 2016-01-01 00:44  G7VGY  5.288705  -23  0  IO90is  5  NF4E  FM05ow  6179  287 
 2016-01-01 00:20  G7VGY  5.288699  +35  0  IO90is  5  G4ZFQ  IO90ir  5  180 
 2015-12-31 21:46  G7VGY  5.288701  -23  0  IO90is  5  MW1CFN  IO73tj  360  325 
2015-12-31 21:46  G7VGY  5.288701  -16  0  IO90is  5  GM3YAC  IO77bc  765  339 
On 08:47:00 by Dave Childs   No comments

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year's break whatever you got up too, I had a quiet one at home with family and friends visiting, and then watching some TV and having a few beers to see in the New Year.  With the party season now over it's time to start planning the year ahead and what I'm going to be doing radio wise.

Obviously some new year’s resolutions are called for, so I'll say that I plan to update the blog more often, hopefully with some interesting posts, I plan to actually go to my local club and get involved and I also plan to improve on my 2015 DXCC result which was just 27 verified and 59 worked entities.

I’ll have more time in the shack this year as I currently have less work trips away planned, which is good news.  I’ll still be mainly operating digital modes, most often PSK31, although I’ll be giving JT65 a go as well.

I hope you all have a great 2016!

Best wishes


Thursday, 31 December 2015

As much as I like the thought of running an open source operating system I found using Ubuntu as my main OS limited my radio activities just that bit too much, so I’ve now switched back to Windows.  I’ve not ruled out using Ubuntu again, perhaps I’ll give the next Long Term Support (LTS) version a go once it’s released in April 2016.

I had some success installing Fldigi and got PSK31 up and running, I never managed to get WSPR working, either installing the Linux version or trying to install it under Wine, Chirp installed without any problems, and I used it to program my Kenwood TM-V71, however my IC-7100 wasn’t supported.  If I had more experience and could program perhaps I could have helped with the development of some of these programs, they are all excellent, but for me they were just not as complete as their Windows versions. 

For now I’m running Windows 10, haven taken advantage of the free upgrade that Microsoft were offering.  As part of the upgrade, I decided to install a SSD HDD to give the PC a bit of a speed boost, this was fairly straightforward, although I did have to buy a fixing bracket to properly install the drive into my desktop case.  I also fitted two new 8 TB standard hard drives to increase my storage space, I mirror the content of one disk to the other using SyncToy 2.1 so that I have a backup in the event of a drive failure.

With the new drives in place, and the desktop case cover back on I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 followed by the recommended updates.  After that, downloaded and installed Windows 10, without any problems at all.  Whilst some people have had problems, for me the whole process was straightforward and took around a day to complete.

With the OS setup complete and all updates downloaded and installed I set about installing all of my favorite radio applications including Ham Radio Deluxe, WSPR and RT Systems for programming my IC-7100, again every went well with no problems at all.

Things look a little different to the way they did with Windows 7, although users of Windows 8 should find the look and feel of Windows 10 quite familiar and it took me no time at all to find most of the things I needed, the best tip I’ve come across so far is to right click on the Windows icon to get a pop up menu that provides useful links to the Control Panel, Task Manager, Device Manager and he Command Prompt amongst others.

So, I’ll be sticking with Windows 10 for now, but knowing me I’ll install the next LTS version of Ubuntu once it’s released, when I do, I’ll post all about it!