Posted by: GW7AAV | February 8, 2014

Basque Region SOTA

Basque Region SOTA

Although I have done nothing on the radio with SOTA for a while I get asked to design SOTA logo for the various regions. This is the latest as requested by Antonio Garcia EC2AG.

Posted by: GW7AAV | February 8, 2014

Life can be tough

Life can be tough at times and it is during those times we need friends. I would like to thank those friends and say “thank you amateur radio” for those friends.

I decided a while back to put my radio activities on hold while I got my retirement plan up and running. My retirement plan consisted of getting a holiday let business off the ground. Following on later by some straight lettings. Stage one took longer than expected and for the better part of two years I worked harder than I think I ever have in my life getting the first two properties finished and ready to let. Things were looking good, but my own home and my antennas had become very neglected.

The plan was to now concentrate on getting my own place to the same standard as my lets and to replace the coaxes on all my antennas. I only managed to mow the grass once last year, but the problems started in the later part of 2012. Without going in to details, for the last 18 months I feel like I have been living in a war zone. It has been one long ordeal of hospital visits and funerals. We have said goodbye to friends, work colleagues and family alike. Maybe it is a sign I am getting older but one week there were three funerals and another two at the same time in different places.

Amongst the fallen is my mother and that of my mother in law who both succumbed to the ravages of cancer. The endless hospital visits, the hassle of sorting out beds in homes and the fights to get them even the medication they had been prescribed is very wearing. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Macmillan nurses and the hospice at Nightingale House in Wrexham were marvellous and were there to fight our corner against the belligerence and officialdom that prevented us getting what was entitled and prescribed.

So it is a long while since I seriously had the time to do any radio. My only antenna still working due to wind damage, neighbours severing feeders while changing fence panels and water ingress in to coax that is past its sell by date is 70cm. One out of ten radios stacked in the shack is still monitoring GB3CR and lucky for me it is. It is the guys and gals on the repeater who have kept a little normality in my chaotic life of late, they have made me laugh, given me sympathy and kept my company on the drive to and from work. Above all they have listened when I needed to talk and said the things I needed to hear when I needed to hear them.

One thing stands out in my memory and that is that one day when I was particularly upset. I put a call out on the radio and it was answered by someone I had never spoken to before. No one else was around but this guy must have been listening to previous conversations I had been having and realised I needed company. He asked if I was okay and I said I was pretty low and told him why. He came back with exactly the words I needed to hear and I suddenly felt 100% better. The message was from the heart and built on similar painful experiences. Where else other than on amateur radio could a fellow hear that sort of thing from a compete stranger?

I really hope the next year is much more pain free and I can get back in to radio and Summits on the Air in particular.

My two holiday lets are Llamedos Holiday Cottage on the great Orme in Llandudno (a SOTA summit) and Tir Nani Ogg in Towyn near Rhyl. The website for Llamedos is here  http://www.llamedoscottage.co.uk/  Tir Nani Ogg’s website is a ‘work in progress’ due to the events described above. Please like our cottages on Facebook too – Llamedos , Tir Nani Ogg            

Posted by: GW7AAV | March 5, 2013

Remove write protection in usb pen drive

This is one of those most searched for things on the net that there did not seem to be a solution for. One of my USB pen drives locked up during a file transfer and write protect was somehow enabled. There was no physical write protect switch.This was not too bad as I was able to recover all the files from the drive but I was reluctant to throw away the thing away so it was either fix it or put it in the furnace at work and completely destroy it. I scoured the net and was given no hope what so ever. All the tips I found related to enabling write on disabled USB ports rather than drives or suggested reformatting the drive, which did not work as the drive was write protected. I even tried other operating systems and a hacked version of a very early DOS with no success. Eventually I hit upon a dirty solution…

First I removed the drive from its plastic case and plugged it in to a short USB extension lead (so I could turn it over) and plugged it in to my laptop.

Then I booted in to safe mode command prompt only.

I accessed the directory with the E:> Dir command and it gave me a list of the files on the disk.

Using the Del command I got the message Unable to Delete *** Disk is write protected.

I tried E:> Format E: and got Unable to format E: Disk is write protected.

Finally I keep reading the directory and every time the PC accessed the USB drive I ran a small screw driver over the tiny pins of the chip in the USB drive.

Eventually I got the message that the PC could no longer read the drive. I had corrupted the data.

I tried E:> Format E and this time the drive formatted without any problem.

I did however get a message that…There are open objects do you wish to close them? I hit Y and enter and the format started.

The drive is now back in use and I did not have to throw it away with all my sensitive data on. Okay it is a kill or cure method but it worked for me.

Posted by: GW7AAV | January 19, 2013

GB2FLB – SOS Radio Week 2013

Dave MW6NTG operating GB2FLB run by Flintshire Raynet Group for SOS radio week in the Flint Lifeboat station. Helen GW7AAU is logging.
Posted by: GW7AAV | March 13, 2012

Summits on the Air 10th Anniversary

Posted by: GW7AAV | January 27, 2012

GB2FLB on the air for SOS Radio Week

I will be on the air with the call GB2FLB on air from Flint Lifeboat station 28th and 29th January. Mike M1DAP and I along with members of Flintshire Raynet and Mold and District Amateur Radio Club will be operating from 10am Saturday 28th Jan through to the evening of Sunday 29th January 2011. We will be operating mainly HF SSB and 2m FM. Other bands as the mood takes us and modes depending who else turns up. The purpose is to raise awareness of SOS Radio Week and the work of the RNLI (Lifeboat volunteers). We are not allowed to ask for donations on the air but please give generously at your local station, donate on line or drop in and pay us a visit. The lifeboat station in Flint is opposite Flint Castle (worth a visit its self) on the banks of the River Dee.

http://www.sosradioweek.org.uk/

Apologies to my regular readers for the lack of contents recently, but it is a long story. The result is that changes at work and things going on at home mean I don’t have much time to devote to the blog at present.

Posted by: GW7AAV | December 25, 2011

Morse Message Hidden in Brickwork

Morse messages hidden in brickwork are nothing new, but here is the new National Guard Building in Milan Illinois. Go here to find out more.

http://wqad.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf

Posted by: GW7AAV | December 25, 2011

A PC for the price of a round of drinks – Raspberry Pi

Go to http://www.raspberrypi.org/ and find out about this little marvel which is a week or two from going into production. This tiny little PC with a 700MHz processor looks just the thing for those shack projects such as a dedicated APRS server, software defined radio or dozens of other ham radio uses. At £16 for the basic model and £22 for the enhanced version maybe a string of these wonders could be used working in tandem to do heavy duty processing tasks faster than the latest machines at a fraction of the cost. The potential is enormous and I wish these guys every success.

Posted by: GW7AAV | November 11, 2011

Thailand’s Amateurs set an example

One of the great things about amateur radio over the years has been how having friends all around the world can make you feel less insular. It is a pity I have to use the word ‘can’ because even in such a global hobby bigotry is still all around us. For me it has brought me a feeling of being closer to world events but these days with the Internet and the ability to travel a lot more folk are starting to realise that this is a shrinking world and we are all on it together.

Not that many years ago when there was a disaster in some far off country it never even crossed my mind that it could be anything to do with me. Amateur radio however has put me in the position of knowing people on both sides of military conflict, who have lost there homes due to forest fires, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes and suddenly far off events become so much more personal.

This week the issues surrounding the floods in Thailand were brought home to me as I realised I know not only several Thai amateurs that have been effected, but that two UK hams I know had to cut short their trips to the country and my own brother’s holiday there had been cancelled.

Amateur radio has saved around 1,000 lives in this disaster by coordinating rescue communications in cases of medical emergencies. Radio amateurs have been helping by providing communications support and this have been especially helpful in flooded areas where several mobile phone cell sites have failed.  Amateur radio repeaters were kept busy and government agencies have taken advantage of the amateur radio communications infrastructure when their own networks failed or where there has been interference, such as when many different agencies are trying to communicate simultaneously on nearby frequencies from a central location. Thailand’s radio amateurs have been an essential part of the relief and rescue efforts in the country’s worst flooding for sixty years.

Through communications comes understanding and through our actions we can set an example to the world. Well done to those hard working Thai radio amateurs for setting an example and showing the world a small glimpse of what being a ham is all about.

Posted by: GW7AAV | November 8, 2011

Ham Radio at Shorpy

There is always something interesting at Shorpy.

For those that have never found this fascinating way to waste time, Shorpy is a blog with literally thousands of high resolution vintage photographs, it is a great way of educating or reminding ourselves of the recent past. Occasionally something pops up there that appeals more than the rest. I am referring of course to photographs that include radio gear, although personally some of the images of old cars, aircraft and motorcycles have a similar appeal. The pictures of beauties of a bygone era however evoke in me a strange guilt though, should I really be admiring the looks of a woman who would have been older than my great grandmother had either of them still been alive. The changes in architecture over the last hundred or so years are also interesting to see and I have to ask myself if in another 100 years people will be looking at similar images taken today or to put it another way; Who is documenting everyday life today? When did you last take a photograph of your high street or your amateur radio station?

Here are just a few links to ham radio related images, if you find more please post them in the comments.

http://www.shorpy.com/node/8086
http://www.shorpy.com/node/8087
http://www.shorpy.com/node/10634
http://www.shorpy.com/node/1937

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