2012 and all that…

Well as a further year looks to be drawing to a close, and I reflect on the content of this blog, I can see that my so called “goal” of keeping it reasonanbly current has again fallen by the wayside. I’m reluctant to provide any sort of promise that next year will be different, but I’ll try.

In short it’s been a good year. Work has been challenging and interesting, and while I still don’t get as much time to persue my interests as I would like, it’s much improved on this time last year. If I am to change anything next year, it will be to set some sort of time management routine to ensure I get to dedicate sufficient time to those things that interest me the most. So, what are the priorities? Well here are some, and in no particular order.

1) – Having swapped all my amateur radio gear, I’m still keen to get back on the bands more than I have in 2012. With that in mind, I’m going to concentrate in two areas. One, the Tuesday evening VHF RSGB contests. Clearly I’ll only be able to do that while I’m not travelling, but these contests give the ability to get quick results from experiementing with home made arials. And I also need to  concentrate on CW on an HF band too. It needs to be a band where I can get contacts pretty much any time of the day and time of year too, so LF is the only way to go. Currently I’d say it’s likely to be 30m, but 5MHz and Top Band may yet still be in the mix.

2) – This Christmas, my good lady bought me something I’ve always wanted since I was a kid, an electric guitar. I am hoping that by the end of the year I’ll be able to bang out some tunes. Having spent two evenings on chapter one of the beginers book of guitar, I can confirm that the likes of Brian May and Eric Clapton make it look ridiculously easy. So far, I can play three notes on one string. Well at least it’s a start. Aiming for aroud half and hour a day when I’m at home.

3) – I’ve been extremely lucky over the last couple of years to be involved with the wonderful TV programme “Time Team”. I even managed to be part of what turned out to be the last ever dig at Brancaster (to be broadcast in January 2013). While I am greatly saddened by Channel 4’s decicion to “pull” the programme after 20 years, my hope is that we haven’t yet seen the end of it. With that in mind, I’ve already attended what the series producer (Tim Taylor) hopes will be its successor, DigVillage. For further information on DigVillage click here. If plans come to fruition, I believe there may be around five of these next year, and I’ve an invite to attend them all. Work travel permitting, I aim to be there 🙂

4) – In recent years, the number of times we escape for a day or two walking in the Lake District have fallen dramatically, in fact this last year, I can’t even remember one visit. Needless to say, I’m aiming to improve on that in 2013!

5) – As regards fitness and exercise, I can thankfully report that this year has seen a continuation from the previous year. I’m run somewhere between four and six miles most days. I’ve still not run  anything further than half marathon distance, and I’ve no desire to enter any formal races or suchlike. Neverthesss, I feel I need to have some form of target for 2013. It’s not much, but I’ve set 20 miles as a target distance. No timescales, it’ll happen when  the timing / conditions are right. But hopefully I’ll achieve it in 2013.

6) – Golf, plain and simple goal here, to play at least one medal every month during the summer season. I need to get my active hapndicap back! In addition I must play a lot more golf with Mikey this year too.

7) – To try and give more frequent updates to this blog. Time will tell if I succeed!

There are probably loads more things that I should list here, I can even think of a few now, but those listed above are at least a start.

In the meantime , I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and furthermore, wish everyone a great 2013.




Update on all things radio…

Well, after several months of faffing about, I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve traded most of my “old” gear in, and am now the proud owner of a Yaesu FT-897D. And I’m very happy with it too.

Still got the aerials to sort out, but the thought of having 100W on all HF bands (including six metres) and a decent bit of grunt on 2M is good enough for me.

Planning to start the RSGB VHF contests on a Tuesday night before too long.

Will keep you all updated once I’ve got the aerials sorted. I do have aerials now, it’s just they’re not that good 🙂


5MHz (60m and all that…)

Many years ago, when I was a keen shortwave listener, 60m was one of, if not *the* favourite band of mine.

That’s because there was always something to listen to, day or night. For sure, the more exotic ‘DX’ was to be had during darkness, fond memories indeed of listening to Radio Sutatenza just above the 5MHz time signal. But as dusk approached, lots coming in from the farthermost points of the the USSR, Radio Tashkent springs to mind as a station that could always be heard! Also, although harder to pick out against all the QRN were stations from Africa. These were usually all domestic services since due to the distances to be covered, medium wave was a none starter.

So, to the present. I decided to turn my FT-817 on last night, hooked it up to a D2T aerial (granted not my best ever purchase) and took a listen. All those years ago, a copy of WRTH (World Radio and TV Handbook) was essential, I guess a copy would still be just as useful, but here are so many wonderful online resources now all you have to do is type in the frequency of where you’re listening and up comes a list of possibilities. If your luck is in, you can then stream the stations output on the Internet to check its the same as what you’re listening too! Makes the process of station identifying so much easier!

I managed to log several PBS outlets from China, Voice of America and this morning Radio Rebelde from Cuba. I even took a recording, available here :- http://youtu.be/gxzAwKi9xig

Not bad for starters.

So much for the commercial side, I’ll keep up with that since I find it fascinating, but it got me thinking of the amateur allocation. After a quick read up, I’ve now applied for my NOV from Ofcom, hopefully it shouldn’t take long. All the spot frequencies are now plumbed in, and this morning I’ve heard several QSO (all G stations) and two of the three UK beacons, GB3RAL and GB3WES, hopefully should get the Orkney one before too long.

Now to start planning some NVIS aerials 🙂 All great fun!


Test post!

Nothing of interest here 🙂

This is a test, historically I’ve got all sorts of scripts and utilities set up that auto post to various sites which, I think, I’ve now removed. So if this turns up anywhere I need to work out how 🙂


Time Team – Swansea

For those that are interested, the Time Team dig I was involved with in July last year, is airing this Sunday 26th February 2012 on Channel 4 at 5.20pm.

I doubt very much whether you’ll see me on TV, but you should of course be extremely satisfied in the knowledge that I was indeed “there”.

And what a fabulous couple of days it was too 🙂

Channel 4 link below.


Catching up…

I’ve got that many social media accounts, applications to access them and methods of cross posting from one to another that quite frankly I’ve tied myself in knots.

So, starting today, I’m trying to unravel them all and come up with something far simpler. The question is, which social networks to use? Well it appears that the heavyweights of twitter and Facebook are too strong to be ignored so they need to be in the mix. Add to that I’ve never really properly got going with the blog (but want to) that I think I’m now close to deciding the best way forward.

So, from today, any posts to my blog will now get auto posted to both Facebook and twitter. And I’ll endeavour to update the blog far more regularly than I’ve done over recent months. Short (and more frequent updates) will get posted to twitter but not Facebook. Updates that involve photos and videos that I don’t want the world to see but am happy to share with friends will go to Facebook. Not sure where google+ fits into all this at the moment. I’m sensing it hasn’t quite ‘taken off’ as much as was anticipated. For now it’ll probably just take the feed from the blog.

So, all clear? No, I guessed not.