Ham Radio

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This Years Summer Break Started With A Bang!

My summer leave from work did not start so well as I was knocked off my motorcycle on the way home from work back in July. I survived with a few aches, knocks, bumps and bruises but never the less was fortunate not to get too seriously injured. The bike however was a right off! A real shame as I have looked after my Suzuki Bandit for 12 years and it was an absolute minter.


As you can imagine I have been feeling stiff, sore and fed up with myself and my usual happy holidays was not quite as happy as it should. With this in mind my better half told me to go out and buy something cool to get my mind off of things, so I took her advice and came back with a new vehicle. I chose something that would benefit the family as well as myself and with this in mind I got a Ford Transit Van. The reason why I chose the Transit was because its a good size of vehicle to be able to convert into a day van/tourer and the Transit van has a good reputation for reliability as well as economy with a 2.0 litre turbo charged diesel engine.

TRANSIT Van Conversion work commences
 The conversion so far has gone well with a flying start thanks to my old CB pal Kevin aka "Tom Thumb" whom I first met on the CB back in 1981. Kevin has always been a good friend and he has been helping me out since my motorcycle spill. He is a gas engineer by trade and a dab hand at too many things to list, he also has a fully converted Transit which is very nice indeed. With his help we made an immediate start on my new van which involved ripping out the original board and racking, replacing it with acoustic sound proof cork, fresh timber and some warm carpet.


Sound proofed as well as insulated before the sheets go down.


A nice base to start things off with!


Insulation and sound proofing into the sides which will keep things warm and snug in the back.


Elsie is well impressed with her new "camper" so much she was so keen to help, under strict supervision with the scissors of course.


Kevin putting in a good days work as he finishes laying the carpet, very nice indeed Thanks buddy!


My turn now, I grabbed a bargain from ebay which was the seats pictured below for my beautiful girls Elsie and Martha, which I fitted with the assistance of my welding equipment and workshop skills.


Finally, well until the next stage. I fitted my YAESU FT-857 Transceiver using the separation kit and home-brew bracket out of my Toyota which is now My YL Louise's new wheels of steel.


 A close up of the dash mounted mobile YAESU radio in my new van.


 Off we go on our travels in our new DX Machine keeping reasonably local for now and yes I am feeling a lot happier and my injuries - stiff neck, back and a bashed knee are getting better day by day thanks to the physiotherapy sessions arranged by my motorcycle insurance broker,who  is doing a good job for me so far.


 The view isn't too bad either!


 Happy days are ahead for sure for all of us as we all enjoy our new vehicle and the rest of the summer holiday.


So far the performance from the Ham radio DX Machine has been good as I have made some good radio qso's from the newly installed equipment. I made a video below showing the Ham equipment working and it also shows the antenna set-up that I am using with my FT-857.



The next stage of work on the van will be getting the side panels out and some nice privacy tinted glass in which will enable a better view in the back. I am also on with designing a pair of rear benches which will incorporate storage area and also be able to change into a bed. Stay tuned for more.... & best 73 as usual!
posted by Simon Davison @ 11:42 pm   1 comments
Monday, July 21, 2014
VO-52 - Favourite Satellite Is Silent Key

My Google+ account keeps me up to date with all of the things and people that are important to me and it was there where I first received the sad news that my favourite earth orbiting amateur radio satellite VO-52 had become silent key. I had a look on the AMSAT-UK site to see in more detail what had happened to the long serving satellite. It appears to have been down to a problem with the battery unit as I read that during VO-52's 49,675th orbit, the on-board lithium ion batteries finally gave in and are not likely to be recovered.


I first got interested in working the VO-52 satellite when I made my first home brew yagi which I called the" broomstick yagi". Since then I have had hours and hours of fun working hundreds of radio amateurs and making antennas whilst trying my best to improve my satellite station. For many years I have caught lots of daily passes from the superb LEO satellite -VO-52 allowing me the opportunities to practice making qso's and perfecting my amateur satellite operating skills and techniques. It was working through VO-52 that first inspired me to modify my IOIo antenna and make it a IO-10 element as seen in the pictures above. I have had some of the best ham radio fun working through this quality bird and will really miss it as well as some of the guys that I worked solely through this satellite. I am glad that I made plenty of videos of VO-52 for anyone wanting a chance to re-live the magic of the legendary VO-52. Just follow the links below.

VO 52 Amateur Satellite Communication 

CQ VO-52 Satellite 

How To Make A VO-52 SAT QSO 

VO-52 Satellite QSO With ON7EQ & 2E0HTS 

Well I guess that VO-52 will take some beating, lets hope that there will be more like VO-52 for us all to enjoy in the up and coming amateur satellite future. All that is left to say is a big thank you to everyone involved in the VO-52 satellite project. It was a great asset to amateur radio World wide and will be always remembered as the satellite with a solid signal whenever it passed by my horizon. Farewell old buddy, your transponders have served you well!
posted by Simon Davison @ 11:13 pm   0 comments
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Wide Open on 20m Mobile.
Its been a couple of months since I drove to work in the car, I have been enjoying the good WX and making the most of being a motorcyclist riding my suzuki bandit to and from work. However this morning I was feeling a bit tired so taking the car seemed a good idea despite the lovely sunshine.

I fired up my FT-857 and was impressed with how well stations were coming in on the 20m band. I heard some big signals coming out of the USA and Europe was also loud. As I dropped down from the moor tops I came across a very strong signal belonging to XE1RK - Rafael from Mexico. I heard Rafael tell another station he was up late and had not felt like sleeping, it was 2.00 am local time in Mexico which was 8.00 am local here in Yorkshire. XE1RK - Rafael was working stations from all over the globe as I continued towards my work place which is in Keighley West Yorkshire, I continued to call back to his QRZ call. Just as I hit the main carriageway on my last leg of the journey Rafael heard my mobile call and came straight back to me, my report was an impressive 5/7 into Mexico! XE1RK congratulated me on a superb signal from my mobile as we made the QSO with my FT-857 and Maldol HFC 20 antenna.

XE1RK - Rafael had a beautiful 5/9 solid signal and after looking him up I can see why. Here is his shack seen below.



XE1RK has some very nice antennas as well.

Well thats it for now, I will more than likely be back on my motorcycle tomorrow but with such superb conditions on the bands I am looking forward to the drive back home later today. Hopefully I will get an hour later on in the twilight hours back home in the shack. 73
posted by Simon Davison @ 9:59 am   2 comments
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Hamtastic Spring Bank Break

One of the many advantages of being a college lecturer is getting plenty of time off to recharge the brain cells. For me, the best way to do this is spending quality time with my beautiful family. In between the fun (usually when they are asleep) I manage some hobby time to check out my Ham radio station. So far during the Spring bank break I have worked a few guys via Satellite whilst operating through AO-73 using my FT-847 Satellite setup. The HF bands have still been reasonably open into the late evening and using my FT-1000 mkv I  have had another nice qso with Ian -VK3MO, who gave me a 5/7 report on 20m. Over the next few days I plan to visit our holiday shack up on the Yorkshire Moors where I shall be active /Portable. I shall operate my old FT-767 on the HF bands from 40 - 10M, there will also be some 2E0HTS Satellite activity with the cobwebs dusted off of my old IO-10 and Arrow Sat antenna. Operating times will be very flexible h.i and may vary as we enjoy the view, entertain our kids and take in the fresh air. 73 Happy Ham ing, Have Fun!
posted by Simon Davison @ 12:17 am   0 comments
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Amateur Satellite QSO With CT2GOY Via SO-50.

From my last post you will be aware that I recently repaired my G-5500 elevation rotor. It had a seized gearbox and a faulty elevation position sensor. I have now had a chance to give it some stick on a couple of different satellites and are very pleased with both the antennas and the rotator performance. During one of tonights passes I  caught  a qso via SO-50 on video showing my satellite station back to its operational status. In the video I operate my FT- 847 Transceiver which is still doing a good job for me as I work my friend Luis - CT2GOY. I also am in regular contact with Luis over the net, we are both on Google+  and tonight was great to be able hear him loud and clear in the flesh over the SO-50 satellite.



73 thanks for passing by and watching another 2e0hts ham radio video extravaganza!

posted by Simon Davison @ 11:30 pm   0 comments
Sunday, May 04, 2014
YAESU G - 5500 Elevation Rotator Repair

After 10 years of careful use my G-5500 eventually developed a couple of faults on the elevation rotator side. 

Fault 1. For the past year I have had to guess the elevation as the readout was no longer working on the controller unit. I suspected the position switch which was located inside the rotator up above the house roof which was a pain in the butt to say the least.
Fault 2. Over the winter the gearbox on the elevation rotor seized up solid.

I plucked up some courage and erected my ladder and which with the aid of a rope to lower the mast it all worked out quite straight forward. Once down out with the impact driver and away I went.
Once I split the case with the impact driver which was easy, I found lots of sandy grit and dried out remains of what should have or once was gearbox/bearing grease.

The next step was to inspect the seized gearbox and then remove the main shaft which can only be carried out by first removing the entire gear housing unit.
I started by removing the motor which was two cross head m4 screws, I continued by undoing 3 m6 bolts, which released the gear housing plate to reveal the problem. The gears are supposed to spin on shafts but were all seized solid. I disassembled all of the gear components including the shafts, cleaned them up and then reassembled in the reverse order with fresh grease and copper slip.

Then I undid 4 small allen screws I think they were m4 but can't remember, either way they came out easily with some quality long reach allen keys which enabled me to  released the gearbox housing and main boom shaft.
Unfortunately I broke a micro switch in the process which is used to stop the rotor turning Doh? Not to worry I put on my thinking cap and surfed the net.
I found some suitable replacements for £2.50 at Maplin Electronics and decided to replace both micro switches to eliminate any near future corrosion issues.
New switches soldered in by yours truly, now to obtain some 5/16 ball bearings.

New ball bearings greased up and back in. I  managed to get them locally for £5.00 by going directly down to the engineering supplier in Bradford this was achieved with the assistance of my daughter pulling a really cute face at my side. 
The next job was the position sensor which is a 500 ohm potentiometer that I opened up to find that the slide was completed corroded. I purchased a suitable replacement from Farnell Electronics in Leeds which again I collected at a bargain cost of £9.00. I fitted it and carefully set up the new 500 ohm pots position before I reassembled everything back into its correct place, taking care to line the boom shaft correctly to the elevation sensor which I had marked with masking tape. Again care was taken to avoid anymore broken micro switches.
Once everything was back together I tried things out on the ground first to allow me to fine tune any necessary parameters. My bike shed was handy for this.
 All ok, out with the rope and ladder. The 2E0HTS Satellite station is back on the air for a total repair cost of less than £15. Result!
73 happy HAMing.

posted by Simon Davison @ 12:24 am   0 comments
Saturday, April 26, 2014
A Busy First Week Of Paternity Leave and Lots HAM Radio In Between The Nappies!
I had to carry out a soldering task earlier in the week when I developed a fault with my HEiL GM-5 GOLDLINE studio mic. On inspection I found a wire had parted company with the board located in the head unit. As I disassembled the mic I found that practically all of the soldered wired terminals were not too good and could easily separate as well. 


 After removing the narrow/wide filter switch I re attached the wires using my soldering iron.


 That wasn't so bad! Back together and ready to test back on the FT-1000. Fingers crossed and back in business once again on its lattice tower mount. Yep, all working!


The next day after spending time with my family I was back in the shack with my fully functioning microphone operating the late night DX shift when I got the opportunity to try my antenna's out on Ian VK3MO, located in Melbourne down under!


it was around 11.30 pm local time when I came across Ian - VK3MO who was  in qso with another UK Ham, who I could not copy. Ian was around 5/8 - 5/9 on my S meter and sounded crystal clear as usual. Whilst monitoring Ians qso I was able to carry out a couple of antenna comparison tests between my Carolina Windom, Hustler 6BTV and Cobwebb, all used for the HF bands. It was interesting seeing which antenna was performing best on the short path.  Ians signal strength was well copyable on all 3 but the Cobwebb had the edge which I captured on video.  Check out the video below to see for yourself as I make another quick qso with Ian before he heads off to work. This time conditions were perfect for an armchair copy.


Today we had a visit from Elsie and Martha's Grandparents which was great as it  gave me the opportunity to alter my Hustler 6BTV. This involved a re-site, some nice new shiny stainless steel box section and a couple of extra radials cut for 20m, these were made from copper microbore pipe. Finally, some hammering of a solid steel bar into the ground and the 6BTV never looked so good.  Again I was doing my thing with the camera and caught some shots of my entire  humble ham station antenna array, which was once again exclusively captured and uploaded on video for your pleasure h.i . Check out the video below for a tour around my garden and antennas.

I have still got 6 more working days off with my paternity leave and I am loving every minute, its great been at home with my beautiful family 24/7 and not forgetting my ham station as well! 73 enjoy the bank holiday!

posted by Simon Davison @ 9:41 pm   0 comments
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