Top of the world Ma!

After a real grind of a couple of weeks last week sort of fizzled out without event, I am glad to say.

Next week may be different as we start receiving a brand new product for one of our customers, fingers crossed we see less issues than on the last batch.

One of my Christmas presents for last year was a trip to the Shard, the UK’s tallest building. I was supposed to go back in 2013 but a bad back put paid to that. So my daughter paid out (again) for tickets for last Saturday. To say I love London is an understatement, however since taking up a job with my current employer I have not found time to have my normal wander around the city. This weekends trip saw my first venture into London on foot since early 2010. We arrived at Liverpool Street and caught the bus to London Bridge, we were early so had a wander around Borough market, when I worked at TfL this was my Friday lunchtime haunt as it was only 10 minutes away from the office. It was much busier than it used to be. There was stacks of stuff I wanted to buy but didn’t fancy lugging them around with me after, so I think a Saturday morning jaunt is planned in the next couple of weeks.

Our trip to the viewing deck was booked for Midday, and I was impressed at how organised the whole place was. I grew up in a block of flats in Plaistow on the 13th floor, and the lists in the Shard got me to the 33 floor quicker than lifts in settle point got me to the 13th.

The view from the viewing platform was fantastic, I didn’t want to come back down, it’s great to see London from that height, the viewing platform was busy, but not too busy. After the Shard me and Toni had lunch in Wagamama’s at Tower Hill, I’ve never been to this chain before but I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was a bit more than I’d normally pay for a lunch but it was nice all the same.

We finished the day with a walk along the South Bank, but I have to say my lack of activity since breaking my legs really showed. I am suffering today with my back, my legs and my feet. I really have to change my lifestyle.

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Hobbling Along

Had a check up at the fracture clinic on Tuesday, the doctor asked me to take my big boot, made me walk around for a bit, then told me I could loose the boot now, game over! So 10 weeks after breaking my leg I am now allowed to wander around without my boot, the only drawbacks are: I have a complete lack of confidence on walking over anything that is not obviously flat or unobscured by grass. And secondly it hurts like a bugger when I walk, it’s like having a badly sprained ankle. But the good thing is I don’t have to wear that bloody boot.

I had a big night up the radio club on Friday night, the week I broke my leg I was supposed to pick up my 10wpm morse certificate at Chelmsford radio club. Andy my teacher told me  that he wanted to do this to submit the news to  the various radio publications to enhance and publicize the work of Essex CW Amateur Radio Club (ECWARC). I made my apologies and put it to the back of my mind. On returning to CW lessons Andy was badgering me about coming to my club to do the now belated presentation, I really wasn’t that bothered, I have long been a believer in “success is its own reward” and don’t really feel the need for certificates and such. Andy continued to badger me and I eventually relented after realising that the publicity may be good for the club. So Friday night came and we had a visit from all the dignitaries of ECWARC including one of my classmates.

The upshot was that I got my 10wpm certificate as did Bob, but then I was told I was also being awarded the G4OAD award for the student who showed the most promise. (G4OAD was a silent key, who, when he died his family donated his key for an award to be continued in his name. So for the next year I have G4OAD’s old morse key which has pride of place on my mantlepiece. Pictured below

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Below a picture of me with Bob G0AGO, and ECWARCS guys Steve G4ZUL and Andy G0IBN

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Sunday saw nine of the club members getting the minibus up to Dunstable Downs Radio Rally , this one is a particular favourite of mine. This is the first time I have taken the minibus with the lads, we had a scream. There is something about being with a bunch of blokes with no women around just cracking jokes and taking the mickey out of each over. The general language would make a docker blush, but there was a few occasions I thought I was going to have a heart attack because of something someone said. I struggled a bit with my gammy leg but had a good time, I spent about forty quid which is an all time low for me. I didn’t really need anything so just picked up some bits and pieces, namely: 25m of braided antenna cable, a name/callsign badge, a couple of coax test points some drawers for the shack. I arrived back home about 2:30 having had a good day.

Now to think about work for next week.

 

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Mobile at Last

Busy week this week with a return to some sort of normality. I went back to work properly this week going to North Wembley on Monday. I was not looking forward to the drive but in fact it was quite easy.

Some tidying up to do, the guy who had been caretaking for me had missed quite a bit which left me with shed loads to do as well as the day to day stuff.

MY mobility has improved vastly and I’m a lot happier in myself. I managed a bit of radio this weekend, and while conditions have not been great there was still enough activity keep me happy. This morning I did some PSK 31 & 63 and was struggling a bit. I was calling CQ and only the occasional response when I saw a faint trail on my waterfall. Most of it was hard to decode and it looked like a US station, so I asked him to repeat, sure enough it was a KB5 station from New Hampshire, I only managed a quick QSO because a european station started calling on the same frequency, it was enough to exchange details and claim a QSO however.

I also worked a few European stations using voice on SSB on Saturday on 20 metres and I am planning to construct a multi-band dipole once my leg gets a little better. I also have a 2 metre Yagi antenna to build, I bought it at the Godmanchester radio rally the day before I broke my leg, so I have that to put together.

Today was a big leap for me, I managed to drive my Landrover. Since I broke my leg I have not been able to manage the full range needed to operate the clutch on Odin my old Disco. Anyway today I put my house slipper on and manged to work the clutch properly, so I’ve had a good drive about today and feel a lot better for it. I use the Landrover to do portable radio work so another option is opening up for me.

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Me and ‘Titanic’ Terry at Aylmers Farm last year, Odin, my Landrover in the background. Incidentally, Terry is known as Titanic due to his knowledge of the ill fated liner and regularly visits clubs to give talks on the subject.

Freedom

So Tuesday came and the plaster cast went. I have now been fitted with an inflatable plastic boot. I got my first good nights sleep in 6 weeks and I have been able to get out and about in the car, at last I am beginning to feel things are getting back to normal.

I’ll be glad to get back to work next week, someone from another area has been covering me in my absence and this has caused me a lot of grief, mainly due to his lack of understanding of how my area is run. So on Monday I will be back at North Wembley trying to do some damage limitation and also carry out a few disciplinaries. So I think the next couple of weeks will be a bit bumpy but hopefully it should settle down after that.

I managed to get up into the loft on Wednesday and just have a sit down with my radios. My HF radio wasn’t connected but I did fire up the VHF/UHF rig and had a chat with a couple of the lads. Unfortunately my tiger stripe plant died from lack of water due to me being unable to get up into the loft, so I’ll have to start again. While I have been recuperating I have thought of a couple of projects to get on with but not before I finish off my 80m rig, which just needs a few windings now to get it working.

I also went back to morse lesson’s this week and have moved in to the senior group. The class is smaller than the beginners one and the format is totally different and the morse more conversational but it is quite upbeat, still really enjoying it. One of my Friends Dave M6AGX joined me on the journey this week, while I have been off he has signed up to the Intermediate course also run by Chelmsford ARS.

Friday I had my first Physiotherapy session and they were quite pleased with my progress since my break, I just hope it continues.

Tonight I am off up to the radio club, I went last week and though it was great to get out I was restricted due to the plaster on my leg and relying on cabs to get me there and back, although I have to stress that I had many offers of a lifts from my friends at the club. Tonight will be better because I can get there under my own steam and I am much more mobile.

QSLCards

On Wednesday 11 QSL cards landed on my doormat, it always cheers me up when they turn up. All the cards were European, nothing exotic but welcome all the same.

 

 

 

 

All things being equal I should be able to get a bit of radio in this weekend which I am looking forward to.

Onwards and Upwards!

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Four more sleeps

It’s almost here, 5 more days until the plaster comes off my leg and I’m able to get around again. I’m itching to get around again and I’m feeling much better in myself, I haven’t had a painkiller in three days. I actually think the Tramadol has been keep me down, since dropping it I’m getting my energy back again. Yesterday much to Lesley’s dismay I managed to climb the ladders one legged to get some stuff down from the shack, I even took the car for a spin around the block.

Lesley was signed off work sick last week, probably run down after chasing around the house looking after me. The plus side is that I’ve had company all week.
I did a bit of WSPR today on 20 metres and managed to be heard in East Coast Australia as well as Asiatic Russia and Central US, so it looks like the band conditions are improving.

In other news, Margaret Thatcher died this week, whether you liked her or hated her you have to admit she was an iconic figure. What galls me is the “celebration” for want of a better word of the fact she has died. Its also interesting how all the so called experts, normally stand up comedians, who were about ten years old when she left office, have such an opinion on her. I suppose its fashionable, but I don’t think its necessary.

My only link to Thatcher was that I worked as a mechanic for the company that provided the coaches for her initial election campaign. I did get to within about 15 foot of her once when I attended a breakdown on one of the coaches on the campaign trail. I was moved rather sharply by a copper until she was out of the way and then I changed the tyre on the coach.

The weather seems to be on the up this week and the weekends threatens temperatures of around 20C, I’ll be looking forward to that.1393_1083520286896_1794_n

 

 

 

 

 

That’s me above, this bus was exhibited at the excel centre, Custom House, in the press centre for the Tour de France. One of the perks of working for TfL at the time was to move this bus around for the TdF, I managed to get my son to come with me. The bus was eventually given to Paris for their transport museum.

Things are looking up

Its been a pretty good week this week. It was pretty lively at home over the long weekend and even Patrick seemed to be back to his old self and having a laugh and a joke, usually at my expense.

I reduced my medication this week as well and I believe this has added to my improved demeanor. I have been on Tramadol since leaving hospital and I have reduced the dosage, I am feeling quite upbeat about things now. I have thrown myself back into work and although its difficult to be hands on when you are sitting at home it is good to be back in the thick of things. My leg seems to be feeling better and I am sleeping better at night. However Lesley is quite poorly this week, I think she has run herself down with all the extra aggravation with me being out of action. The upshot of it is that she was sent home sick from work on Wednesday which is good, because she, like me will work until she drops.

The weather seems to be on the turn now and today was quite bright, I even ventured outside to have a look around the cars, it’s silly but after being cooped up a walk around the cars outside actually makes me feel better.

My radio problems continue. After all the messing around trying to get my 817 working I resigned myself to not being able to work the radio until I can get back up in the shack. However I noticed a little MFJ qrp 40m CW transceiver for sale on ebay and managed to get it quite cheap. My thoughts were that I would be able to at least work some morse. It arrived today, minus the power supply. I have managed to get it working using the boost start pack for my car and I have a sked set up over the weekend with Bob (G0AGO). That way I can make sure its all working properly as I have a feeling it is wandering a little.

Toni has had a good week and is making plans for her holiday later in the year, Kenya looks like a distinct possibility. I envy her sometimes but that said I am pleased for her because she is so independant.

If the weather is good tomorrow I may venture out on my crutches down to the shops with Lesley, it could be fun. It is dependent on the weather though

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My temporary set on the left MFJ 9040 40m low power morse transceiver, max power 5 watts although it looks to me like I can only squeeze about 2-3 watts out.

My Swedish pump key can be seen at the bottom of the picture. This was a gift from an old local ham Denny (G1SFU).

Note the cup, not enough that I have a chocolate Lab, the missus thought I also need reminding of this on the cup.

Just behind the radio you can see my non-charging 817.

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17 Days to go

It’s easter weekend and I’ve just worked out that I have 17 days to go before I get my plaster off. The boredom is really getting to me, I am sort of working from home but it is difficult as I like to be in the thick of things. It is now 11 days since I last left the house and it is grating on me, I’ll probably have to learn to drive again once I get out.

It’s been an interesting week this week apart from being stuck indoors. My funcube dongle arrived and that has been a welcome distraction, if only to highlight the fact that I can’t get to my radios. It is an interesting little gadget and I can’t wait to get it set up properly in my shack. I am using the Sharp SDR software and from what I know at the moment I feel that it could do with a bit more functionality, such as scan. However it is early yet and there may be a way to do this.

I have been having no joy with my 817, when in my shack I normally run it from my 12v psu and it runs fine, I normally charge the battery packs from the psu. I ran WSPR last sunday and was doing fine, I have two battery packs one was flat and the other went down after use. I tried to charge it from the Yaesu charger and nothing happened, the charger was working fine as I plugged it into my Yaesu handy and it was fine. Just to be safe I ordered a 3 amp PSU/Charger which arrived today and guess what? nope, that wouldn’t charge the radio either. So it looks like I’ll be without radio until my leg mends itself.

In other news I received a bit of a lift from Twitter this week, when I got an email to tell me that Suffolk Naturalist was now following me. I was quite heartened as this is my younger brother, who, quite rightfully hasn’t spoken to me for about 7 years now. When I checked he had unfollowed me as quickly as he added me, I can only assume he was looking me up and hit the follow button by mistake. It’s a shame but that’s life unfortunately.

The morse code practice is showing signs of progress this week. I have been listening at 17 words per minute for about 5 weeks now and I seemed to have hit a plateau at about 45%. This means that listening to random code over a 5 minute period I only managed to de-code 45% of it. However this week I went through the 50% mark and the last run was 57% so it is going the right way.

Anyway the weekend is here and at least I have some company during the day with Toni having a long weekend off and Patrick will be stopping over.

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