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G3PGA England flag England

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Welcome to the QRZ.COM Page of Mike G3PGA.

The picture above is a tribute to my old Dad (SK ) cycling in the 24 hour veteran's marathon race in which he held the record for many years. He was a founder member of the Festival Road Club based in Kingston, Surrey.

First of all some basic locator info:-

WAB = SS53.

WWW = IO71WB.

QSL.... Please ONLY via EQSL. QSL card as below by Post direct if first "G" OK. SAE please but no need for postage.

Committee member of the Appledore & District Amateur Radio Club

Hi... Mike here and thanks for looking in... I hope you enjoyed our qso and find the following information interesting.

Working Life.

My first career 1961-1976 was in precision tool and cutter grinding working for the family company V&R Alderton in Teddington, Middlesex. The machines there included Cincinatti (Pic below), Jones and Shipman, Clarkson, Taft Pierce and Studer, quite a selection of grinding machines.

 

This one is The Cincinnatti No 2 Universal Tool and Cutter Grinder. A Great machine. This one ( above) certainly takes me back to those good old grinding days. I used to make this one talk...

 

I am retired from the Royal Parks Police (1976-1989) in London and for those interested in Police matters and movements the RPC was taken over and absorbed into the Metropolitan Police in 2007. Below is a pic is of yours truly on duty at Hampton Court Palace. I also served at Richmond Royal Park, St James Park ( Buckingham Palace ) and others as duty required. I was mostly employed on the Traffic Land Rover but also enjoyed creeping around on "White Lightening" my favourite pedal cycle. I was on duty the morning that Hampton Court Palace caught fire and suffered serious damage. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited in the afternoon and was visibly upset at the damage. It was amazing that very little of the internal "treasures" were lost in the fire. The flames and smoke were visible for many miles. The palace has been restored to its almost original condition requiring many old skills to effect the restoration.

I am particularly interested in nattering with retired or serving police officers

Yours truly at Hampton Court Palace


My wife Velma and I moved to the county of Devonshire from Teddington, Middlesex in 1990. Home now is the small village of Fremington in the north of the county whose population in the village is around #3500.

The village pub prepared for "Fremington in Bloom"

 

Since moving to Devonshire I have had a number of occupations including a return to precision grinding at a local aircraft component manufacturer, as working manager for an aluminium box maker, five years in computer sales and servicing and last but not least seven years as a volunteer driver for the Ambulance Car Service. Now of course "Fully Retired".

 

Fremington Quay and Camp.

Fremington Quay, if you recall, was the midway point in the recent James May's TV presentation of the small gauge railway on the Tarka Line , long closed by Beeching, between the towns of Barnstaple and Bideford. The first attempt failed because of technical problems and the theft of several batteries along the line. The second attempt later succeeded with flying colours, a triumph for model engineering.The old Fremington Quay railway station ( shown below ) has been renovated and is now a heritage centre and cafe. It currently has several thousand visitors a year. I can recommend the tea and buns hi.

Fremington Quay Railway Station now fully restored.

 

The nearby Fremington Army Camp has recently been sold to developers (Shame). The village was famous for its clay which was used locally for fine quality pottery made at Fishley Pottery and also at Brannum's in Barnstaple, now very valuable and sought after by collectors. Across the River Taw lies Royal Marines Base Chivenor which during the last war was a RAF base with Spitfires etc.

For more information on Fremington please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fremington,_Devon

 

G3PGA Radio Shack

The radio shack consists of a Yaesu FT-2000 with a UK Linear Amp Ranger 811H modified to 572B valves and matching SPC Supertuner ATU. Aerials are a 140 foot Doublet for the lower bands and a Cushcraft A3S for 10/15/20. A Yaesu FT-7800 dual-bander lives in the car.

The Radio Shack.

 

 

QSL.

A G3PGA QSL card is available now by EQSL or DIRECT (100% Return).. If you send direct would you please enclose some used postage stamps for my wife Velma who is an avid collector. You wouldn't believe that just 18 months ago she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had her left kidney and some other bits removed. Here she is laying concrete blocks as grass edges. There's no stopping this girl. As they say " Never give up and never surrender"

Her Indoors. ( Bless )

 

Data Mode.

I am also very keen on the PSK mode of operation and have recently endeavoured to help and assist those stations new to the mode. I have an article on the EPC website which I reproduce here for interest :-

 

I Lost A Good DX QSO Because Of It... Now this is what I call Splatter !!!!!!!!!!!!! 2000hz !!!!!!!!!!!!!! wide.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR SPLATTER

Read the instructions for the soundcard + interface and radio menus BEFORE you start to transmit. JUST IN CASE??????

I am Mike G3PGA EPC#05139 and as a result of seeing many stations splattering I operate on behalf of EPC the "EPC "G" SPLATTER WATCH"

The aim is to guide and help to get clean "Splatter Free" bands so PSK'ers don't suffer as the waterfall above and lose good dx because of it.

I am really happy to help whenever I can. Do not take my "SPLATTER" information as personal criticism just stay with me and between us we can get it sorted. Of course there is always one to which I have to admit defeat.........So far of the literally hundreds of 591 reports I have given a 95% success rate has been achieved in cleaning up the signals. So long as your email address on qrz.com is current I can email a .JPG file of your original bad waterfall and a second after correction if needed.

 

I recommend anyone interested in the PSK mode to join the EPC. There is a mass of information including awards to work for, contest info etc etc.

 

 

As a result of numerous interesting comments I offer the following in the best HAM spirit as help to those that obviously need it. The following two paragraphs I gratefull acknowledge the text from Andy G3SVD an excellent explanation of ALC and SPLATTER:-

ALC is "automatic level control" and is a system applied to power amplifiers in order to force them to operate only in the linear portion of the operating curve. In a so called linear amplifier if you plot the power output against power input at the bottom of the graph it will be straight line, then it tends to curve off. The alc system takes a sniff of the output voltage and applies that back to the input as a negative voltage in order to reduce the gain of the amplifier as the out increases. The alc voltage can just be applied within the PA itself or it can be applied back to the driving device, ie transceiver. However this does have limits and if one really applies too much drive you can still operate outside the linear portion.

SPLATTER is caused when a PA is over driven and it is operating in the non-linear portion of the curve. This causes the PA to produce harmonics of the input signal which then modulate each other (inter-modulation) and these will produce signals outside the original width of the SSB signal. This also applies, of course, to PSK as it is a signal comprising two continuously transmitted tones. The splatter is what you can hear on sideband and see on the waterfall in PSK.

 

This is the Meter on my FT-2000.

You will see that the meter is reading ZERO ALC level.

My power output is 40 watts.


Now for how I setup for PSK mode and note I have this setup as a macro to fire off at any time to assist a fellow ham with a problem setting up...

The ability to set up your radio for psk modes comes with experience. Many stations are finding the PSK modes popular but do not fully understand how to set up the computer and radio for the mode. I hope the following advice will help.

The important thing to remember is that it is very easy to overdrive the radio with too much audio from the computer sound card causing QRM and SPLATTER to every other operator on the band.

I find the following is a good way to start:-

1. Tune your transmitter to say 40 watts output ( this is plenty or power for psk mode) to a good aerial vswr having made sure you have a clear frequency first. The "Q" code is simply QRL? QRL? QRL? = Is this frequency in use.

2. Accessing the soundcard drive sliders ( Volume + Wave ) whilst keying the radio move them up or down to achieve just under the 40 watts drive level. Or, use the rotary level control on Signalink types. If you push the drive level over it WILL splatter.

3. Set your radio to read the ALC meter and if its any more that ZERO then reduce the soundcard drive sliders slightly to achieve the ZERO ALC. This is very IMPORTANT and is the worst cause of overdriven signals.

4. Make double SURE the speech processor is OFF.

5. Double check your interface is OK.

6. Last but not least is the problem of an OPEN microphone whilst transmitting in PSK mode. This is either that when using an ACCESSORY socket a menu item has NOT been corrected for ACC only, probably being set ACC, MIC a common problem with ICOM radios. So, do please check that one. In the same vein Some Yaesu Ft-1000's and Kenwood 440's also have an open microphone when useing the ACC socket. The only cure for this I am told is to remove the microphone when in PSK mode. This can be another source of the splatter problem as the mic picks up any shack noise and transmits it.

7. If all of the above is in order and you are still getting reports of splatter then make sure you have a GOOD station earth with NO earth loops which are causing the problem of RF getting into the system and being transmitted.

That's all there is to it and you will have a clean signal with NO splatter with excessive sidebands which cause qrm and spoil the mode for others. I hope this will help you to set up correctly and you enjoy the mode as much as I.

Check List again for reference.

Too much audio drive resulting in excessive ALC. (Must be Zero )
Ground / earth loop or poor / no station earth.
RF getting back into the system somewhere.
Speech Processor MUST be OFF.
Is the mic live when using the rear ACC connections for tx/rx?

 

Regarding the queries about signal reports:-

Normally a clean waterfall signal with NO sidebands being also perfectly readable and good signal strength would merit a 599 report. A received signal may be perfectly readable (5) and a good strength (9) but the last number on the report is the CRITICAL one. Rangeing from 1-9 report 1 would be a signal that is SPLATTERING so wide it blots out almost the entire waterfall up to a 9 which would be perfectly narrow with NO visible sidebands or splatter which is the result of ZERO ALC level.

As for our colleagues being taught otherwise then that is basically wrong. To give a 599 report then to add " you are a bit wide" is a nonsense and must be avoided. Simply give a correct report eg 595 would mean you are perfectly readable with a good signal strength but you are overdriving causing some splatter with sidebands. The habit of automatic 599 reports are ok so long as it is true. If you must rely on auto mode reporting then with a quick mouse-click on the second 9 you can easily change that to eg. a 5....... As for it being considered "RUDE" to give a correct report however poor, I wonder what manual that comes from, certainly not in any of mine hi. As was also commented on that "Yes, please tell me if my signal is poor as I want to enjoy the mode and NOT spoil it for others"... again YES please tell me.


I do hope this screed helps those in need of guidence and a reminder to those who know it all. I will continue to give accurate reports and to help where ever I can. If you need assistance in setting up for PSK then please ask, I can probably help you.. Email requests for help are OK too. I do NOT bite and remember we all started at some time.

73 de Mike G3PGA (EPC "G" SPLATTER WATCH )

 

And now onto my Solar Panal installation saga:-

 

The PV Solar Panel installation on the roof of my bungalow

 

The "Old" Inverter and the cause of a near nervous breakdown.

 

The "New" StecaGrid 2000 inverter system fully functioning ( Note the 4 large ferrite clip-ons )

 

 

SOLAR PANELS VERSUS AMATEUR RADIO.

I have tried unsuccessfully to get free solar panels for the roof of our bungalow here in Fremington. with two sets of surveyors arriving, measuring up, leading us up the garden path by insisting on earthing cables from the gas and water pipes and finally turning us down for the installation.

Four weeks or so ago the phone rang and it was " Uswitch.com " asking if we had loft and wall insulation. It would all be " free of charge " now as the wife and I are pensioners. To that we answered that it had all been done. The operator then offered "free" solar panels to which I of course laughed out loud. When explaining our previous aborted offers she insisted that it would be third time lucky as she had checked out our roof on "Google Earth" and couldn't see any problem.

The surveyor from the main suppliers "Consumer Advice" turned up a few days later, a reasonable chap to which I immediately hit him with the question " Does my amateur radio equipment or aerials have any effect on the installation or it with my station ". He replied that it did not and could not understand why we had been turned down previously. After and hour of measuring the roof dimensions he advised us that it was a " go " on the installation and carried on with the paperwork to sign us up. I will at this point make clear that the scheme offered was a " Rent a roof" scheme at no cost to us at all. This was the case to which we agreed.

Two weeks later the installers from SA12 Energy Services of Port Talbot in Wales arrived and fitted 14 PV solar panels and an inverter and wiring into the loft. We were left with a following week date for the electrician to couple the system in to the mains supply in the garage. This duly arrived on time and was completed. All work being neat and tidy and very professionally done. All working correctly and off he went.

Now down to some testing to see what was happening with the electricity supply and any effects elsewhere. Two and a half kilowatts the meter said was being supplied by the installation. Great we though, all that " free " electricity. The wife of course was delighted.

"I am off to check out the shack gear now" I said and left her happy with all the money she was about to save.

DISASTER and CALAMITY

I switched on the Yaesu FT-2000 to have a go on my usual PSK31 setup and the monitor screen was a waterfall of hash. Panic immediately set in and I reached for my trusty Sony portable receiver, switched on and TOTAL HASH through the long wave and medium wave bands. Further tuning on the FT2000 showed all bands were affected by the "hash". So, next step is an expedition into the loft. Luckily we have a drop down ladder and the loft space is quite substantial, so much that I can stand easily. Taking the Sony receiver near to the solar panel inverter I switched on and the radio almost leapt from my grasp. At two feet the hash was total and on moving away to a maximum down the garden it was still there at 50 feet way.

Back to the shack and a few more tests with a Yaesu FT-857 fitted with filters and that was just as bad, in fact worse being almost unusable. So, that was G3PGA "off the air"

NEXT STEPS.

I called the installers trying to explain the problem which of course fell upon stony ground as they hadn't a clue what I was talking about. I left that as a user complaint and researched the manufacturers which turned out to be Steca of Germany, my unit being a Steca Grid 3000 micro-inverter. Their technical department representative a Mr. AAAAA was very helpful although not fully conversant with EMC and RFI problems said he would look into the problem stating that the units complied with relevant specification and regulations. Several emails back and forth resulted in an official statement admitting that " PV solar panels and inverters cannot be used near radio equipment ". With that statement the bottom dropped out of my world as you can imagine. An immediate reply to Mr. AAAAA further expanding on the consequences of his reply resulted in some more research on his part offering a Steca Grid 2000 with separate slave Transformer which should do the job. This was offered as a replacement for the Steca Grid 3000 model. I of course thanked him for his offer and immediately got onto my installers. I believe the fact that I had got such cooperation from Steca seemed to throw them into a panic not knowing what to do, resulting in numerous phone calls from them wanting to know what I intended to do. My answer was simply to accept the German offer and swap the inverters out. I got the impression that my efforts were not appreciated as a phone call from " Consumer Advice " felt like a slapped wrist for poking my nose into their business, which of course I was. Even he, a Mr. XXXXX, has no idea about EMC or RFI and informing me that the equipment was theirs and I had no right to touch, move or alter the installation. To that he was probably legally correct. So, yet again another explanation of what was happening with the end result and effect on me. By this time I was becoming very frustrated as I felt I had done all the work for them and was now being told to back off. At this time I fell back on my big guns of the RSGB EMC committee, Ofcom and Trading Standards and the fact that I was near to a nervous breakdown because of all the grief. The latter seemed to move him and he agreed to look into the setup again. I will give due credit where it's due as immediately after the weekend he called to say that a replacement Steca Grid 2000 and Transformer was available and could be swapped out in about ten days, to which I agreed. At this point in time I have no idea whether this replacement system will solve the EMC / RFI problem so I await with anticipation and fingers crossed for a successful conclusion and to that end I have purchased four Fair-Rite ferrite clips as recommended in RadCom just in case?

REPLACEMENT AND TESTING

The day has arrived for the replacement inverter system to be installed. Having been advised that the engineers would be here early I got up at the unearthly hour of seven o/clock and was already for their arrival from their base in Port Talbot in Wales. They duly arrived on time and set to the problem in hand. I gave them the ferrites and advised the procedure to install them. These were in fact a belt and braces decision on my part to add them to the circuit. Two and a half hours later and it is “testing time”. With my heart thumping as you can imagine I switched on the FT-2000 and tuned into 40 metres expecting to still hear the rasping sound from the inverter. To my astonishment and utter relief there was nothing, not a peep to be heard. Success at last.

So, in closing this report, be aware fellow hams, that there are inverters and inverters. Make sure that if you have solar panels installed that the surveyor is completely au fait with the requirements of Amateur Radio reception and insist on an inverter with a separate transformer rather than the simple micro-inverter which was the source of my interference problem.I can say that now all is back to normal and we are enjoying our free electricity.

Mike Hammond G3PGA.

Always under construction and improvement >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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