Category Archives: Travel

An outdoor weekend

I had two completely different outdoor experiences this past weekend, both hugely enjoyable in their own ways.

Saturday I took a trip in a Canoe (my first ever) with the Into The Wild Survival.

The view

Four of us were sheparded down the River Suir by Frank Deegan and John McGrath (John is pictured below).

Captain John

We paddled from the Swiss Cottage in Cahir to Clonmel on Saturday, camped overnight on the river bank, just east of Clonmel, then continued on from Clonmel to Fiddown on Sunday. A long trip, though very tiring, it was very enjoyable and I really can’t wait to get out for another trip.

Some videos Frank took during the trip.

You can see my best side in the clip below (I’m in the white hat).

Monday and Tuesday were a different story, two days at Millbrook Off Road Centre (Lantra accredited), being instructed on the finer points of driving off road. Kevin, Thomas and their team were excellent to work with, great instructors. Below is a taster of what you can expect.

They are having a 4×4 Festival the 11th and 12th of July, definitely worth checking out (get off the M9 at Castledermot).

In summary, a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a “long” weekend!

CQ WPX RTTY and memories.

So there I was early Saturday afternoon wondering what to do with myself before the England-Italy match kicked off. The CQ WPX RTTY contest was on, so I sat down in the shack, installed Fldigi, and configured it to work with my K3. I have a 15m Inverted V Dipole up which is my best antenna, so I operated in Search and Pounce (S&P) for a bit and was working away nicely with no real issues other than the operator hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard.

Last time I operated a RTTY contest from home like this I was using a Kenwood TS-2000X, I was very very disappointed with the radio at the time, so much so that I sold it pretty quickly afterwards. It appeared to suffer badly with strong signals capturing the automatic gain control (AGC) and completely blocking out out the weaker stations. The K3 was having no such issues (thankfully).

CQ WPX 2015

This left me with a quandary. What do do about the Rugby? Well, my Intel Nuc has a Mini DP connector so I borrowed the screen from my Mac Mini, opened up RTE Live  on it and voila!

I took a break from the contest for the Ireland-France game and resumed afterwards, finishing up with about 130 contacts (QSOs) in the log by Saturday evening.

I did not feel well Sunday morning, so I gave myself the modest goal of 200 QSOs. After a break to watch Scotland get robbed of a win against Wales, I ran for a bit, then hit 250 Q’s, returned to S&P again then 300, finally deciding that I had enough done at 329.

That said, I really really missed having a bandmap. A band map is a display of recent DX spots by frequency. You can see one in the middle of the picture below. This display is user-configurable in many ways including the length of time to display, the frequencies to include,  etc. It lets you see at a glance what activity is on the selected band and, if you see a station you really really really want to get into your log. You can pounce with a click of the mouse.

Last year after listening to the LHS guys interview Petr, OK2CQR, I was convinced to give CQRLOG a go. I have gotten so used to its bandmap that really missed it.

Screenshot of OK2CQR’s Desktop showing cqrlog.

After the contest I was chatting to G0HWW on IRC about my issue and he pointed me at an old blog post of his (thanks Darren), initial testing seems promising but rigctld seems to exit with errors now and again. More work is needed I think.

Sunday afternoon, in the melee, I was running and a callsign appeared on my screen that seemed familiar, N9TGR. I responded with my normal report and was trying to figure out how I knew the callsign. I saw the other stations report appear on the screen and at the end of it was “UP THE DUBS”.  The penny dropped.  In 2009 I travelled to Chicago to present at the ARRL and TAPR Digital Communications Conference, somehow Andy Ronan, N9TGR (a dub, and no relation that we know of and also EI6KG), got wind I was going to be there and suggested that I call out for dinner with him and his family one of the evenings while I was there.  I also remember joking it would be highly unlikely that we would ever meet up on air! Suffice it to say I spent a most enjoyable evening with Andy and his family, they showed great hospitality,  great memories!

 

 

Tea and Cookies (and Cucumber Sandwiches)

So, you have been walking for an hour, not after climbing a whole lot, approximately 450 metres or so, you round a bend, and there is a lovely little ‘house’ where you can get some nibbles.  All at 2100 metres. Very impressive.

Tea and Cookies at 2100 Metres (Lake Agnes Tea House)

It was an interesting experience, made even moreso by listening to the poor waiter explain several times to a potential customer that no, they could not take credit card, due to the fact that there was neither phone signal or electricity to run a credit card terminal available in the Tea House. Cash, was indeed, king.

Lake Agnes Tea House

After the Tea and sandwiches (Cucumber and cheese never tasted so good). I sought out the lavatory before we continued on our way. There was a member of staff standing outside the toilet wearing gloves,  ear-protectors, and a handheld radio.  When I enquired he informed me I had about 5 mins as the helicopter was on its way up to bring up an empty 40 gallon drum, and take away one of the full ones (I’ll leave it to your imagination).  I quickly did my business and headed up the trail for a good view of the exchange.

Due to the wind, the helicopter had to make a few attempts before managing to drop the empty drum and collect a full one, much to the relief of other customers of the Tea House I daresay.

 

Next stop Morocco!

An amateur radio balloon carrying APRS on 144.390 MHz FM has left the USA. Requests have been sent out for APRS operators in the British Isles and Europe to listen for and help track the transatlantic balloon!

The APRS transmission, call sign K6RPT-11, is on 144.390 MHz FM the standard APRS frequency in North America.

At the time of writing, the balloon was South East of the Azores, moving at approx. 225 kph, heading for Morocco. See the link http://aprs.fi/?call=K6RPT-11&mt=roadmap&z=4&timerange=172800&_s=ss_call

Dec 13, 08:40 UTC: It changed course overnight, skipped Morocco, flew slightly North of Malaga and is now heading for Palermo, Italy at about 260kph.

09:25 UTC: It has slowed and dropped several thousand meters since the last beacon.  I fear its heading for a dip in the Mediterranean.

 

09:46:30 UTC: Last packet, 56km/h 4437M