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Richard Parsons
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Part #2
Things are calming down and many more lessons are being learned. My confidence is getting more and more when using the repeaters when one person is on, I get confused with call-signs when there is a net so I just lurk in that case. Most of the times I miss the start of the call-sign as M0xxx and G0xxx are usually mumbled at a high speed and I find it difficult to differentiate. As I am driving during these chats and taking notes is out of the question! It still erks me that the foundation course stress using the NATO phonetic alphabet but its usage in reality is actually random.

From my previous HAM posting I got a magnetic mount antenna for my car. Being impatient I got it from Maplin and not understanding the whole deal I got something that was completely sub standard. The antenna worked wonders except it was not weather-proof or robust. Water ingress and the glue on the magnet getting hot and losing its stick almost killed it. To cut the long story short, I tried to take the antenna off the roof of my car and the magnet stayed on the roof. After that I rebuilt it and made my own version using plans from the internet. Its not the best, but it works; until I can replace it with something a bit more professional. I am investigating a better radio too which will be mounted in the car but I cannot justify the cost just yet as I speak to a very limited group. I need to make more friends at the local repeater and HAM groups and learn more of the ropes before I am ready to upgrade.

I started venturing in to the realm of Echolink and IRLP but it was soon decided that that the internet protocols were too simple and not very well thought out. I got a Echolink repeater configured on a RaspberryPi using TheLinkBox. As there is no EchoLink directory server, I decided to write a quick-n-dirty one to test out TheLinkBox without the need to be registered and a day later I had QTel taking to myself.. not useful but atleast I could see and hear voice traffic. The thing I disliked was how Echolink security worked.. or didn’t and the masses of ports that needed to be open on my firewall before a Client can connect. This is something I plan on changing; Perhaps writing a whole new repeater/voip system with the emphasis on teaching Licenses HAM radio communications to people without radios. This can be extended to teaching radio etiquette between PC's and no radios even are used.. quite a few possibilities.

Other things on the horizon are digital modes and thankfully there is a talk at CDARC about this topic next week.. looking forward to that session and I am expecting to have an information overload. I don’t know how DMR and D-Star fit in to the question but I am keen to see what that is about.. is it even a digital mode?
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James Quartly's profile photoRonald Verweerdt's profile photo
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Take a look at this project :
http://www.rowetel.com/blog/?p=3125 73's Ronald ZS6RVC 
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My adventures in Amateur Radio (M6NPS)

I had the perfect opportunity to get started with HAM radio as I volunteered to teach radio etiquette to young kids. As I am a seasoned Aviator, I have had years of experience communicating with Aircraft Traffic control and other aviation related comms I figured it will have its place, After all my call-sign was my aircraft registration.

Getting in contact with the local HAM group I decided to go for the Foundation course (everyone has to start there!) which involved meeting some HAM professionals and taking some practical tests to make sure I wasn't going to be a nuisance to others on the air. This was a breeze and that is where the frustrating games begin.

A letter came through the door from OFCOM it read 'Congratulations'. Excitement could not begin to describe the feeling, I had a BAOFENG radio all ready programmed for the local repeaters and had the latest RSGB Band plan printed at my side. Before I could do anything I needed to get a call-sign from OFCOM – seems easy? So I thought it was. I got to the section where you pick the letters you want, I entered M3RHP – not available.. M3CAV .. not available.. and nor where the other fifty three letter acronyms I picked. Looking at the call-signs, I tried the M6 letters and typed in my first random 3 letters – eureka, the website does give suggestions if the nearest call-sign is available. Getting frustrated I ended up picking M6NPS as my rationale for remembering was it stood for 'No problem sweetie'. Hopefully it would be easy to remember.

Now, the fun and games can start! I hopped on the UHF FM calling frequency 'CQ CQ CQ M6NPS standing by for a call' resulted in nothing. Tried this several times no avail. I pressed the Monitor button to see if squelch was too low but all I was greeted with was a hiss.

Listening to the chatter, the local repeater almost always has someone on it, maybe they will talk to me. I key up, 'Mike Six November Papa Sierra listening through Papa Yankee' and release. I hear the transmit tail and the repeater beeping some more code, that is good! Or is it? No replies from fellow radio enthusiasts. I start wondering if the radio is a dud, after all it wasn't very expensive at all. I hunted down a pair of PMR radios I had handy, program the Baofeng and viola – Audio was heard. The radios worked.. next is the antenna.

The antenna was more of a problem, I ordered the Nagoya antenna and waited for it to arrive. I removed the stock antenna and plugged in the new Nagoya. It looked like it would do the business. 'M6NPS listening through PY' I transmitted. Same as before, I could hear the PY trailing carrier and the morse tones but still no humans.

Was I too far from the repeater? I jump in to my car and drive close to the repeater, surely at this distance a wet string will get enough signal through. 'M6NPS/Mobile listening through PY' again was attempted, again , no-one replied.

At this point I still thought the antenna was at fault and I decided to get a car mount antenna from the local electronics shop. It was flimsy but the magnet really stuck to my car and I was confident it was the business.

I decided to drive to work with the hand-held ( with hands free ) to work as this goes past several repeaters, PY was one of them. Hopped in my car and immediately there were people talking and it was difficult to hear callsigns using a headset but none the lesss I could hear people. I waited for a clear moment to announce myself listening.. waited some more for a clear moment .. and waited .. the repeater was quite busy and I felt it rude just to jump in. I waited some more and finally there was a gap. 'M6NPS/M listening to PY' .. again .. no replies. Its like everyone had just disapeared. The least I would have expected was a 'Last caller you are unreadable' or something along those lines but nothing heard seems to be the order of the day.

I put the radio away for a few days being frustrated sounding like a lost animal bellowing its call to nowhere. Surely someone must have heard me.

A few days of a break I decided to give it a try again, this time on my way home. I was almost stationary on the motorway in a traffic jam when I called out 'M6NPS/M listening in to PY' when I got a reply. I would give the call-sign but the whole call-sign announce was a blur to me, Dave was his name and some fat chewing commenced. A few minutes later another enthusiast joined in, Lawrence added his fat-chewing bits and I got all the information for Pi-n-pint and the Cambridge HAMS group. All in all apart from being confusing and not being able to remember who owned which call-sign it was a a success. It was like the SETI project and I had established contact.

I lurked about some more and listened on the PY repeater, seemed always to be the same people and they always swapped stories about the night before or some tasks that were to be done. Feeling it was a chat between friends, I decided not to introduce myself and let the regulars carry on with the social updates.

My next task was to see how far I can get away from the PY repeater and more importantly can I reach it using the Mobile from home. I take a stroll in to the garden, key up and call. This time I got a reply, it was G8TMV. Following some other conversation procedure I heard on the radio, I decided to only announce the suffix of the person I am talking to when handing over; this proved to be wrong and Colin corrected my procedure. This correction raised some questions for me as all the call-sign prefixes just are a noise to me when said using the plain english alphabet. G8 M0 M1 M3 M6. Much like the air traffic control, speaking is very fast when something gets repeated quite often! With all the procedure, what happened to the NATO phonetic alphabet? None the less, I am the the newcomer and I will comply – just expect quite a few 'Say Again' messages and I am yet to master all the different accents in the United Kingdom.

So far Amateur Radio world is still very foreign and intimidating to me, the amount of procedure that needs to be adhered to is the main reason I don't speak much... that, and trying to decipher the call-signs from Amateurs that have years of listening/speaking experience.

The adventure continues..

#hamradio #amateurradio  
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Richard Parsons

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The invasion stripes on the jet really looks strange 😄
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Richard Parsons

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#FORD #FAIL
Anyone wanting to buy a FORD that has RUNFLAT tyres (no spare tyre)  such as the S-MAX, please note what the manual states and the Sales person wont tell...

There is NO Wheel spanner nor JACK  You cant even change the brake pads without buying a jack/spanner!

Never again will I get a #FORD
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Lisa St. John's profile photoTafka Wac's profile photoSteve Evans's profile photoPhilip Lawrence's profile photo
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To add more to the tail of woes, No-one will repair a RUNFLAT tyre! a 5p nail in it will cost you £150 for a new tyre.
I would love to know what accountant thought it was a good idea to take away the spares.
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Owncloud Server Performance

I bet many are looking at using the CB as a Owncloud server - here are some of the things I had to do to make it perform..

The OS I used was Cubian running on a 8GB SD card as I dont trust NAND at this point. Using Cubieez I had problems with files getting corrupted.

1) Plug in a SATA hard disk (didnt try usb)
2) Use MySQL database! (not Sqlite!)
3) Move the /lib/myqsl to the external hard disk (I just Symlinked the directory, but you can re-configure mysql.cfg to point to the new location... I was lazy)
4) move /var/www to the external hard disk and configure your webserver to use that as the document root

The aim was to move ALL IOs' to the Hard disk... the NAND/SD cards are horribly too slow. Use iostat to check what device is being accessed.

#owncloud #mysql #cubieboard2  
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Jan Persiel's profile photoRichard Parsons's profile photo
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+Jan Persiel I was initially disappointed, but after the tweaks it really started to perform beyond my expectations :D

I am using a 500GB Notebook HDD and a CB2 for the installation  - seems to work quite nicely (running for 3 days now, it has to run for 2 weeks before I will call it a success :D
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Richard Parsons

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Richard Parsons

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Nerds are really getting carried away!  Illegal Algebra labs being shut down regularly.
 
This just does not add up
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3 days so far trying to update the horrible windows 8.0 to the Free Windows 8.1

#Linux doesn't need any marketing with monumental junk like this!

#Windows #fail
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David Cooltions's profile photoAndrew Hop's profile photoTigran Martirosyan's profile photoEdward Holland's profile photo
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All the comments about troubles with 8 has convinced me to stay with 7.

Richard Parsons

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Fantastic picture
 
impressive!  CASA C-101 Aviojet of the Spanish Air Force's Patrulla Aguila aerobatic team (here).  Interestingly, Northrop designed the wings.  It also has a weapons bay.  (Austrian Armed Forces Photograph)
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Passed the foundation licence! Now to wait a week and pick my radio callsign :)
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Congrats!  73.
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Richard Parsons

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Is there a known issue with the CubieBoard2 corrupting the NAND?  I have flashed Debian to NAND and it never boots more than a dozen times - after that the files are corrupted or the boot fails.

I have to re-flash NAND to get it back - but I feel that is futile.
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