Category Archives: General

SSB Field day 2015

Last weekend, I joined other members of Tipperary Amateur Radio Group on the farm of Paul, EI3ENB for the SSB Field day.

EI5HBB operating
EI5HBB in Search and Pounce mode.

Dipoles
40m and 80m Dipoles, with the Tribander at the left of the picture.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to get any decent runs going on 20m or 15m which would have helped our score quite a bit, however Eoghan, EI5HBB was at the microphone when we got a decent run on 80m for about 90 minutes in the early hours of Sunday morning.

 

EI7IG's suite
My comfortable accommodation for the night.

Looking forward to next year already!

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!

Trucking

I don’t have any ambitions to be a lorry driver, but for years I wanted to learn and get the licence. Possibly from watching too many re-runs of Smokey and the Bandit, or maybe just from watching my late uncle Hugh drive past our house to collect cattle when we were small.

I eventually decided to get my act together about 12 months ago and started by passing a test in a mini-bus (D1) in January. No sooner had I done the test, I was using my newly acquired licence in support of the larger community where I live, nothing dramatic, but quite satisfying to give something back, and quite a different experience to anything I’d driven before.

With that under my belt, I got brave and started lessons in a rigid truck (C), passing that test in May.  I did not find it that much of a step up from the mini-bus, just a different focus to the driving, and a different way of “chucking it about” (and a very patient instructor).

Throwing caution to the wind, I applied for an Artic (CE) test. Green as grass, and with little or no “wheel time”, oh man, did I get a shock when the lessons started.

Volvo FM12, 03KK4350, 420HP, Box trailer, tri-axle super singles on air.

Thinking about it now, having passed the test this morning.  Various factors conspired against me the last few weeks and I probably should have cancelled the test, but this morning, even though I got mixed up in what order I should raise my legs and plug in my suzies, the driving gods smiled down on me. No cyclists swerved into my path without looking, no pedestrians walked out in front of me while chatting on their mobile phone (oblivious to 15,940kg rolling towards them), all drivers went where they were indicating, and I nailed my off-side reverse.  Boy am I smiling inside tonight!

What to do on a wet bank holiday Monday evening?

Listen to an episode of Linux in the Ham Shack while slinging some solder…

BX-184
BX-184 Voice Keyer Kit by DH8BQA

… and tuning around the HF bands.

Screenshot
SJ2014ECC is the Station under the green marker.

While soldering, i have been listening to SJ2014ECC (a special event station celebrating the town of Umeå as European Capital of Culture 2014), working a decent ‘pile-up’ of stations from all parts of Europe.

It sure beats listening to the rain!

Staying secure

Taken from Schneier on Security:

  1. Hide in the network. Implement hidden services. Use Tor to anonymize yourself. Yes, the NSA targets Tor users, but it’s work for them. The less obvious you are, the safer you are.
  2. Encrypt your communications. Use TLS. Use IPsec. Again, while it’s true that the NSA targets encrypted connections — and it may have explicit exploits against these protocols — you’re much better protected than if you communicate in the clear.
  3. Assume that while your computer can be compromised, it would take work and risk on the part of the NSA — so it probably isn’t. If you have something really important, use an air gap. Since I started working with the Snowden documents, I bought a new computer that has never been connected to the Internet. If I want to transfer a file, I encrypt the file on the secure computer and walk it over to my Internet computer, using a USB stick. To decrypt something, I reverse the process. This might not be bulletproof, but it’s pretty good.
  4. Be suspicious of commercial encryption software, especially from large vendors. My guess is that most encryption products from large US companies have NSA-friendly back doors, and many foreign ones probably do as well. It’s prudent to assume that foreign products also have foreign-installed backdoors. Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software. Systems relying on master secrets are vulnerable to the NSA, through either legal or more clandestine means.
  5. Try to use public-domain encryption that has to be compatible with other implementations. For example, it’s harder for the NSA to backdoor TLS than BitLocker, because any vendor’s TLS has to be compatible with every other vendor’s TLS, while BitLocker only has to be compatible with itself, giving the NSA a lot more freedom to make changes. And because BitLocker is proprietary, it’s far less likely those changes will be discovered. Prefer symmetric cryptography over public-key cryptography. Prefer conventional discrete-log-based systems over elliptic-curve systems; the latter have constants that the NSA influences when they can.

If you haven’t already read the full post, you should.

Ocean to City

Conor, EI4JN asked me a few weeks ago if I would help him out at the Ocean to City , as he was doing safety boat and could do with an extra pair of hands.

Last Saturday was a fabulous day on the water. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I was quite envious of the kayakers, they all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

After the last competing boat passed our location, we motored up to the city and I started taking a few pictures again.  This family passed us heading downriver, the parents looked to be getting the most enjoyment from the spin.

Ocean to City from Eila Marie

Fingers crossed that that was not the full extent of summer 2013 in Ireland!

Nire Valley

Where we've been

Got organised enough to get away this weekend so we headed into the Nire Valley. Making it to Hanora’s Cottage just in time for a fabulous dinner on Friday evening.

The weather was looking decidedly dodgy when we started our walk on Saturday morning, with a planned destination being the viewing point over Coumduala Lough. Herself was not impressed when we got soaked even before we got up to the Sgilloge Loughs, but other than a few menacing looking clouds, that was the only rain shower that hit us for the day. Enjoyable walk, enjoyable weather, great weekend, just what the doctor ordered!