Radial Plate

Doing a permanent install of the 40m vertical that I use and figured it needed a radial plate to make it look all pretty like. So I made one out of some 2mm aluminium scrap i had laying about.

A little bit of marking out.

A little bit of cutting out with the grinder cause I was lazy.

And finally a little bit of drilled out and ready to rumble, I added the angled bracket for installing a balun, unun or a remote tuner on.


Propagating For The Great Wall Of Lavender

HAHA so much for working on antenna stuff today. Its a nice sunny day, after a week of miserable drizzly shit weather. So today we are propagating plants for the great wall of lavender. The process is simple enough.

Take the cuttings about yay long.

Strip off at least 3 nodes worth of leaves and tip out the top. Cut the base in a diagonal and remove a strip of bark.

Place the prepared cutting in seed raising trays

Get a shit load of them done, in this case its 6 each of 12 different varieties of lavender.

Put them in the green house and give them some water. Keep moist and in a month or so they will have grown roots, and a month after that be ready to pot up to grow on to get them big enough to plant out.

In a few months they will look like this.

And this. And when the latest 75 are ready for potting up, the previous ones will donate they pots back so that the cycle continues. Its all good fun.


Antenna Traps

Actual doing stuff and building stuff ham radio kind of stuff has been rather absent from the blog for some time. Mostly I have been doing things around the house and in the garden.  But I have fully reassembled the radio room now and have all my toys setup. Son inlaw the electrician was down a couple months back and connected all the power up that I ran. So The room is now A1, tip top and ridgy didge.

I have actually not been as absent from radio stuff as it might seem. There has been stuff going on in the background and others taking up a lot of my thinking time :), you know, old men need to think a lot or as the wife puts it, PROCRASTINATE.

So what has actually been taking up my thinking time is antennas. Namely, now i have the space and lack of noise, what am i going to do for the antenna situation. After lots of iterations and ideas, I think a beam is actually in my future, a dual band, maybe tri band yagi.

Sun spots are on the up, 10m has been open for days and 15m as well and they are only going to get better for the next 4 years, so i will start there. With that in mind, I needed to play with traps and trap design to get that solid in the mind so I can focus on the interesting part of mechanical design and engineering.

A trap is simple enough, its an inductor paralleled with a capacitor. So i knocked one up to test and play with for 29Mhz. 1.1uH and 27pF and well, it came out at 28Mhz but that’s ok, for now, its not like I can use a 50V cap on an antenna that’s seeing 100’s to 1000’s of volts, at one port. The actual cap used will be made from aluminum tube most likely.

Next is to make another and use them in a wire dipole and get that working dual band for 10 and 15m before i head to the big smoke and buy the tubing I need and other bits to make a yagi. I am not really an antenna guy, but sometimes one has just gotta do what they gotta do.

Antenna up.



Its been a tough year trying to grow tomatoes. First crop failed due to rain, 2nd one was not far off it either, but we managed to get some to eat and some to preserve as pasta sauce,


Chilies on the other hand have done ok. Made a few jars of Sambal and a few jars of sauce. Ring burn material. 🙂


Ham Radio On Linux

Ham radio on linux. Is it any good? Is it ready for prime time and as a daily driver desktop OS? Yes, but sort of. If you are a total dummy and do not know your way around linux its going to be frustrating unless you know how to install flatpaks, compile source and install dependencies, because not all distros have all the software you might need available in their package manager.

Debian and Ubuntu derivatives have the largest software repositories but, I hate debian with a passion and ubuntu uses gnome which feels like pulling teeth to use. That said, I am using Mint, a ubuntu derivative with Xfce desktop only because its the path of least resistance. I hate APT because it seems to want to break things all the time, but so far, I have only had apt break a couple of times and were easily fixed.

So the software, most things you would want are available in one form or another. Coming from windows using Ham Radio Deluxe, you will be disappointed. But most things can be achieved one way or another. So what software am i using?

For logging, Cqrlog.

As far as logging goes it does most of what you want. Interfaces with WSJTX, uploads to LOTW and EQSL etc etc. Install can be hit or miss with broken dependencies if something has installed myslq rather than mariadb. I fought with this for a while until i worked out what the actual problem was and that mariadb was a broken package that would not install its dependencies. But, if the install goes smoothly it works fine out of the box, if not, its a pain in the arse,


Cant complain much about this, installed fine, no real hassles, detects the right USB TTY ports in use. Just remember to add your user to the DIALOUT group or you will be raging at the screen because it wont access the USB serial port, HAHAHA.


While I much prefer HRD and everything integrated into the one program group, fldigi does work, installs fine and does what it claims it will. Setting up rig control was a bit of an abortion and it defaults to having the squelch function turned up to 11 do nothing decodes. Other than those few things its ok. But I am not a fan boy.


Chirp works fine, installs as a flatpak so no headaches as long as you know how to install flatpaks and flatpak is installed on your system. Other than that, it baofengs like a champion LOL.


Qtel used to be a pain in the arse to install. But now someone is maintaining the software and supporting an install package. It works, does what it does and not much more. Not that I use it, but have it there for just in case someone wants to actually talk to me on it.


SlowRX receives only. Which is fine for me because I only use it for SSTV from the space station. I have had it running for the last few hours on 20m, but nothing. So i cannot confirm it actually works. But for now I will leave it running until either it decodes an image or I rage quit.

Well thats actually it for ham software that I actually need or use. There might be some other things that might be useful, but I cant think of anything off hand. I know that the software for my Spectrum Analyzer wont work on linux, and getting the SDRplay and HackRF One working, while painful is doable, though the software is kind of rubbish. I will get them going later.

Is linux ready for the prime time? Kind of, but not to the extent of everything just works as it should as it does in windows. The only reason why I am here is the windows PC causes RFI from its shitty PSU and this old pentium machine with its external PSU brick does not. Once I get a new PSU for the windows machine I will dump linux like a box of turds. But for now, i like no RFI and the ability to work the SSB thats out there without having to worry about using all the tricks in the book to make them workable.

EDIT: Slowrx works just fine.


10 Metery Goodness

A little bit in the morning, a little bit at lunch, the afternoon and the evening. The above plot represents most of the activity for a single day on 10m last week. And it was not all FT8 either, there were some workable stations on SSB and CW as well. A sign that conditions are actually improving.

Long story short, I am hamming on linux again. The windows PC causes RFI and nothing I can do will stop it. Cheep arse power supply and a mother board that is more antenna than not. So i dug out an old machine I had laying about that does not cause so much trouble and put a light weight version of linux on it  and so far its working well enough. I will make a huge post about it later and outline what works and what is a pain in the arse. Linux is still not quite up there for a permanent desktop solution, but its getting closer.