Friday 26 February 2016

Today's Tim Peake ISS contact was a great success

I was so proud to be part of the team that let youngsters talk to astronaut Tim Peake on the ISS from the CNS School in Norwich today.

There wasn't a dry eye in the hall!

The lowish six-minute pass went incredibly well thanks to the technical team from ARISS.

Each of the youngsters got to ask a question and we even got in a few more. Good video link too.

Norfolk Amateur Radio Club has been heavily involved in the event and helped run workshops at the recent "Ground Control" day.

Our special event station with the call MX0YHC also made around 100 contacts on 40m thanks to Chris G0DWV and Andy M0NKR.

Good luck with the next link-up

Sunday 21 February 2016

Worked All States, QRP and magnetic loops

MFJ-1786 magnetic loop for 30m-10m
This weekend was the ARRL CW DX contest where US stations work the rest of the world. This was a good opportunity to try and work the rest of the states I need for my Worked All States award.

I need Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Nebraska.

I have actually worked quite a few of these, but those stations are not on Logbook of the World (LOTW).

Anyway, starting at the bottom of 14MHz I soon came across KI1G in Rhode Island and bingo! He was in the log with 100W to the OCFD.

I never found any of the other states I needed, but on Sunday I came across N8II in West Virginia and bingo, worked him too. Unfortunately, he isn't on LOTW – damn! I'm not sure if you can do a mixed entry with part LOTW and part QSL cards, like I did with my DXCC application. It might come to that.

Anyway, with no sign of the Dakotas or Nebraska (don't even mention Alaska), I thought it would be fun to try some QRP.

With just 5W I soon worked Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts with the OCFD. Time to up the game.

So I rigged up my MFJ-1786 mag loop on a 12ft pole in the back garden. This was about two S points down on my usual 40m half-wave OCFD, but I was able to work the eastern states on 20m in very short order. I also worked N2IC in New Mexico, W2UP Colorado and N9RV Montana on it.

So what about QRP and a magnetic loop?

A bit harder, but North Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia were soon in the log with 5W on 15m.

Now, don't get me wrong, it is the antenna at the other end of the contact that was doing all the hard work, but if anyone says they haven't got room for HF antennas tell them about the MFJ-1786. It's a miracle for hams with little space.

So I'm hoping that Rhode Island gets confirmed on LOTW. I then need to think long and hard about Alaska. That is going to be a tough one. And if I can get the others confirmed with QSL cards Worked All States (WAS) is a possibility.

Friday 12 February 2016

Radio Norfolk interview about Tim Peake and ISS

ESA astronaut Tim Peake.
I was lucky enough to hear astronaut Tim Peake's ISS contact with another UK school on Thursday 11th February 2016.

Not only did I record it, but I sent out a press release and ended up being interviewed about it by BBC Radio Norfolk.

The Norfolk Amateur Radio Club had put on a workshop the next day at the City of Norwich School for students who are going to be involved in their contact with Tim in two weeks, so it was very fortuitous.

You can hear the ISS downlink on 145.800MHz and you don't need a particularly fancy antenna.

If you do hear and record Tim do contact your local media as they are fascinated by the whole business and it brings good PR for amateur radio in general.

Anyway, here is the audio from Radio Norfolk in MP3 format.