Friday, October 26, 2012


I had a spare hour or so today while I waited for a server to finish updating, so took the opportunity to assemble the Rockmite 20 which arrived from Small Wonder Labs in the USA yesterday.

Compliments to David Benson for this great little TRX. I can confirm it worked at first power up, delivering around 250mW into 50r. Signals heard but not attempted to work anyone yet.

Now for the next phase: a 12v lipo battery pack, and casing it up with a built in paddle key in the smallest possible box. 

Im aiming for something like :  But with a built in 2Ah battery with external charge socket.

Ultra portable qrp on 20m :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

16:49utc pass

pre-amp : update

Another couple of similar before and after passes:

With pre-amp (05:22UTC today)

Without (04:53UTC  11/02/12)

AOS and LOS seem respectively much earlier and much later - consistent with a few extra dBm arriving at the RX.

Definitely time to think about servicing the antenna and possibly getting the preamp up to masthead. I should really uprate the coax too - its only RG58.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Ive noticed a lot more noise on the NOAA15 passes recently, and looking back through the archive it seems that over the last two years the signal strength has been slowly dropping - probably down to it being time to get up on the roof and service the antenna.

This isn't an easy job, due to the WX sat turnstile being on the northernmost chimney here @ the 'NBP QTH, which is not directly accessible via ladder as it has a fragile sloping roof directly below it. Access is gained by climbing up to the apex, and then by walking the ridge to the chimney itself - scary stuff!

Im due for some roof work soon anyway - so will wait until there is some scaffolding up, then I think I may re-site the antenna to a more accessible location - at the expense of partially obstructed sky to the south.

Anyway, in a bored moment this afternoon, I quickly tacked a Garex 137MHz pre-amp into the case of the RX - yes I know it should be at masthead - did you not read the last few paragraphs??   ;)

Sigs on the most recent pass - northwards over the Azores, up towards Greenland still shows a little patterning, but is a much more solid signal than previous passes at similar times.

Pass with Pre-amp

Similar pass without pre-amp

In both of these passes NOA15 isnt much above 15 degrees over the horizon at its highest. As can be seen I have much more coverage north-south now.

Best passes are typically 90 mins before - so watch out for images between 15:30 and 17:00

Thursday, January 12, 2012

does Michael Gove read my blog?

Followers of my blog will hopefully remember the post I made back in October ( ) Where I commented on the failures of the UKs current ICT curriculum to inspire children in the field of computing.

Yesterday Michael Gove called the current ICT curriculum "demotivating and dull". He will begin a consultation next week on the new computing curriculum.
He said this would create young people "able to work at the forefront of technological change".

He went on to say "Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word or Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations,"

(source : )

This is brilliant news indeed - if schools are able to back it up with good quality teaching. Sadly, in my experience a number of schools fail to teach even the existing curriculm particularly well and would require significant help with teaching a more technology rich version.

I shall continue to watch progress in this area with interest, especially as I am currently putting together a technology learning package aimed at 11-16 year olds based around a lot of the technology now being advocated as the future of ICT.

Watch this space...

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Today we are be mostly building robots

Emily has started construction of the robotic arm project. More pix and vids shortly.