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Morse Code with G3ZQS

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Yesterday afternoon I listened to an interesting conversation about Morse on the Bolton Wireless Club Network Radio.

It made me think about how I learned Morse Code. I was taught by George (Geo) G3ZQS back in 1970. He produced some tutorial ‘tapes’ that you could learn to read the morse alphabet from scratch. George’s method was to group letters together, the first ones that I learned were A, W and J (di dah, di dah dah, di dah dah dah)
The tape would introduce the letters, then send them mixed up so that you could recognise them. After that you move to the set of letters in this case N, D, B
(dah dit, dah di dit, dah di di dit)
Again on the tape, learn the letters then listen to them mixed up.
The next step was to try to receive both groups of letters together before learning the next group (Which I think was E, I, S and H)
George always emphasised that we listen to the rhythm and not the dots and dashes. Some letters you can remember from the rhythm like Q (dah, dah, di, dah God Save the Queen) and F (di, di dah dit Filling Station)

I found this method very effective (for me) You just take your time and if you want to, try to practice sending the letters that you have learned.

Sadly George is now silent key, but he founded FISTS which promotes the use of CW throughout the world.
I have been trying to trace one of his tapes, but without success. It would be great to get hold of a copy to maybe produce a digital version.

Many of these tapes were in circulation around the Bolton and Blackburn areas back in the 1970’s.

 

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Topband Beacon

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A bit of nostalgia here…the Topband Beacon! (or Bells)

Back in the 1970’s when Topband AM was the flavour of the day there was a beacon on 1.900Mhz. During the day it was a simple two tone beat, but at night it came alive making Topband very tuneful. Back in the 70’s the beacon was an ideal place to tune up your AM transmitter. I used to monitor 1.900Mhz when I was in the shack for stations that tuned up, then I would call them.

Here is an old recording that I found on the internet played to a video of my R1155 receiver…. ahhh… memories!

Steam Radio

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Today I listened out for the special event station  GB0ELR at the East Lancashire Railway at Bury. They were operating on 40m, 20m and 15m.  A message from Facebook told me that the station was operating FT8 on 20m during the afternoon, so I set up my FT8 to find them. Although GB0ELR is only about 4 miles away I found it difficult to find them through the very strong FT8 stations on 20m. After putting out a call I managed to link up with the station.  It was a rainy afternoon, so I decided to go down to East Lancs Railway and deliver a QSL directly to the station.  I love going to the station to see the steam trains and today the Flying Scotsman was running along with the City of Wells Loco.

Here is Mo M0TXK operating GB0ELR from the hut next to Flying Scotsman on the platform. I used the opportunity to talk with Jack G8HIK and Chris G4HYG on the Bolton Wireless Club on Network Radio.

Here is the Flying Scotsman departing to Rawtenstall today.

Topband with an R1155 Receiver

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Latest news on the R1155 Receiver project…

The R1155 is working fine on all bands, but unfortunately my version of the receiver doesn’t cover Topband (1.8Mhz – 2.0Mhz). I believe that one of the later versions of the receiver had Trawler Band, but these are quite rare to find.  So to be able to listen on Topband with my receiver it requires a converter, in this case to convert 1.8Mhz – 2.00Mhz to the Medium Wave band. The R1155 covers 600Khz – 1500Khz, so I decided to use 800Khz – 1000Khz as the converted Topband Frequency.

I found that the simplest circuit to use for this purpose is to use an NE602N chip, this is a double balanced mixer that can convert almost any input frequency to an output frequency using the correct crystal oscillator. In my case, I want to convert 1.9Mhz on the input to 900Khz  on the output. To do this I need a 1MHz crystal for the oscillator and choose the correct values of capacitors in the oscillator circuit.

 

L1 is a TOKO equivalent coil that can be purchased from http://www.spectrumcomms.co.uk/  I used the 45uH coil for 1.9Mhz.  I found that C1 needs to be around 220pf to tune the coil. X1 is a 1Mhz crystal and C3 is 100pf, C4 is 1000pf. I built the circuit on a small printed circuit board, which was very easy to make.

The circuit works really well, very stable and gives an output that suits the input of the receiver. I was able to tune Topband on the Medium wave frequencies and listen to stations on AM, SSB and CW.
Really pleased with the results!
On the board I left room for an extra coil on the input, but the circuit works fine with just a single coil and seems very selective.

I added a switch so that I could switch between Topband and Medium Wave. I also used the switch to mount the board inside the R1155 Receiver. The 6v for the board is powered by rectifying the 6.3v heater voltage, doing this meant that I didn’t need R1 in the circuit.

 

The converter working fine on the Sunday morning 1963Khz AM Net with G3EGC, G0CTO and M3RNX.

 

 

Sporadic e on 4m

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A nice Sporadic e opening this evening on 50Mhz and 70Mhz. I used FT8 to monitor the conditions on both bands and was amazed at some of the stations coming in on 4m! Managed to work almost everything station I heard on 4m including:  DJ5MN, S51RM, DF4UE, DJ2QV, S520R, OK2BRD, HA1YA, 9A3TN. This is with 25w and an HB9CV antenna. I have to say that FT8 is great for monitoring conditions on a particular band as there is so much activity. Sometimes you miss the openings on 4m and 6m because of lack of activity.

Using a Spectrum Communications 4m Transverter, hence 28Mhz showing on WSJT-X.

 

R1155 Receiver

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For years now I have wanted to get hold of an old valve receiver to restore and modify. I have looked at the AR88, but it is far too big, the HRO, but this has plug in coils which is messy. A couple of weeks ago I saw a couple of R1155 receivers in good condition, but suspected that they would be expensive. I have always wanted an R1155, this receiver has a lot of history as they were used in Lancaster Bombers during the war together with the T1154 transmitter. I decided to have a look on eBay to price up one these receivers, I was a bit put off because of the prices again. After a few visits to eBay I came across an early version of the R1155 which was selling at a nice price. I bought it!

Now I have my very own R1155 which is in great condition and actually works!

I will spend some time renovating and modifying the receiver, there are lots of information available for this receiver.

 

Listening on Medium Wave… just like the old times!

Listening to 40m with the BFO switched on.

Network Radio

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While at the 2m Contest on Sunday with the Bolton Wireless Club one of the topics of conversion was Zello and Network Radio. I had heard of Zello before, but didn’t fully understand it’s potential for radio communication. Network Radio channels have only recently been created on Zello. At the moment there are three dedicated Amateur Radio Channels which enable Amateurs and enthusiasts to communicate over a wireless network or cell network. The channels are all moderated and operated with strict rules, just like the Amateur Radio Licence. We now have a dedicated Network Radio Channel for the Bolton Wireless Club. I am now trying it out with my mobile phone…