Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Windows 10 and New Motherboard woes


I have 3 main computers, 2 desktops and a laptop. Tried the W10 technical previews on the laptop and my 'lounge' machine, and all went well. The updates came and installed properly and everything was Hunky-Dory.
Few things I didn't like as compared with the the Windows 8.1 edition included the presentation of the 'all apps' list as a single vertical list rather than a whole page view, and the inability to personalise icon fonts on the desktop although this was not a big problem on the test computers as these were shadowed and showed up fine.
I therefore decided after testing my important software on the lounge machine to take the plunge and upgrade my Games machine, this being the main machine for my Ham Radio operations. Update was good although my white font on a white wallpaper gets lost and no way to change this (it seems).
All went well until my LOUNGE machine developed a motherboard fault.
My plan as has been for many years is to transfer the motherboard from my games desktop to the lounge desktop and get a more up to date motherboard for the games unit.


24th October (Sat) - ordered new motherboard bundle from ebuyer
25th October (Sun) - despatched from ebuyer
26th October (Mon) - received goods via YODEL early evening. That day I had stripped out the 'games' motherboard and fitted into the 'Lounge' computer.
27th October (Tue) - Installed new motherboard and booted up the computer. Got to the BIOS setup and pointed to the system drive. Booted OK. Attempted to load the motherboard drivers from the supplied disk, and got the message as shown.
Contacted ebuyer who suspected a motherboard issue  but advised I download the motherboard drivers from the Gigabyte website and install individually. This I did and all seemed well.

28th October (Wed) Switched on the machine from cold and it started rebooting without even getting to the BIOS splash screen. By this time I had added in all my peripherals which had all worked properly the night before. Gradually removed each 'extra' until I was down to the very basic this being the system drive, video output from the M/B, mouse and keyboard. Still wouldn't stop rebooting.
Then I removed the keyboard and mouse to try bog standard ones. Mouse only was OK although still didn't boot, but as soon as I connected the keyboard it went haywire again.
Contacted ebuyer and they agreed to accept a return. Received a link to a courier booking system from them and booked for the following day, anytime between 8am and 9pm. this was confirmed by email. Ebuyer said that their turnround for returns was 3-5 days.

29th October (Thu) - waited in ALL DAY and no collection made. Contacted ebuyer by email.

30th October (Fri) - Waited for a response so again contacted ebuyer. Was advised that YODEL could not find the house (Been here 40 years, on an estate and found my many hundreds of other couriers on a regular basis). Ebuyer to rearrange at earliest opportunity.

31st October / 1st November - Nothing heard

2nd November (Mon)- Wanting to find out what has been arranged on my behalf I checked the RMA notice I had received. Collection date not changed, so contacted ebuyer. Advised it was to be collected that day which it was.

3rd/4th/5th November - Nothing

6th November (Fri) - email from ebuyer saying they had now received my parcel, and it would be 3 - 5 days to process. Contacted ebuyer (what else) and was advised by the guy dealing with this that he would ask then to process this quickly.

9th November.(Mon)- email from ebuyer saying 'no fault found' and product was being returned. This was queried as to what 'extensive testing' had been done.

10th November (Tue) received motherboard back so decided to give it another go. Setup with basic configuration and it worked OK. About 1 hour later received an explanation of the  tests done. 'This is a known issue which was corrected by updating the BIOS from version 6 to version 8' . So much for no fault found!

today 11th November (Wed) - Full configuration completed and all is working well . Windows 10 was not however reactivated as happened automatically after the lounge computer rebuild. Activation dialogue screen locked so contacted Microsoft by published phone number, fed through to a moronic AI which looped asking me for a number I do not have and which isn't shown where they tell me. Two separate phone numbers led me to the same messages.
Found a 'chat' feature so used that. The agent after about 10 minutes exchanging information took control of my PC and fiddled about a bit, finding a 71 character Installation ID which was being asked for on the automated system. Had to reboot so she gave me a link to get back to her chat.50 mins elapsed at this point
Rebooted but link didn't connect back to her and windows still not activated.
Started another chat session, and initially same information provided. She also took control of the computer, ran a couple of system commands from the 'run' dialogue, input the windows 8.0 product key which the first agent said that although valid would not work, and WINDOWS WAS ACTIVATED.

The first person told me I would have to reinstall windows 8.0 and my applications if the phone activation failed.

Considering ebuyer state 3-5 days to process a return, and took 12, and the phone based help from Microsoft it';s not been a good couple of weeks. At least the lady I spoke to the second time around knew what she was doing and sorted me out. 2 more hours lost though.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

QSL card printing - the pitfalls of printing

Cards for special calls became an issue

I recently got around to reprinting my special call QSLs after it seems my original batch to the bureau went astray. Thought I would use a different method this time as only 38 seemed to be missing (1 pack of G stations). I therefore reran the computer extract via Mail Merge (see my site under HRD Utilities) and printed each document as pdf's.

I then converted these to .jpgs using an online conversion tool and I was ready to get them printed. Looked around for the best option for achieving this and Max Spielmanns (Timpsons) was the outlet of choice. The order was duly made online with the images uploaded and the selection of the radio button on the order form entitled 'actual size' was made, thus deselecting the 'to fit' button. The paper stock was 6" x 4", image size as 5.5" x 3.5". I was happy to guillotine the white bits off myself.

About 3 or 4 days later I received a package through the post containing the 38 photographs, all printed at full size, hence too big for the ever picky RSGB Bureau. I was already in their bad books as I had sent cards to them with the Russia cards not sorted in the way described in the Yearbook which I do not have access to and have no intention of purchasing. I suggested this information be published on the RSGB website but I got the impression that the guy I communicated with just couldn't be bothered. Information still not there.

ANYWAY... I contacted Max Spielmann (Timpsons) and explained my situation and received a reply saying that the actual size should have printed them actual size but as their paper is 4"x6" this is the smallest they do. Actual size would leave white bits around the edge...

My response was  that that is what I expected and that they had not followed my instructions and asking for a further response as to getting a reprint. Nothing heard for 10 days so 2 days ago I again emailed them asking for a response.

I subsequently received a message from PAYPAL advising that my money had been refunded. NOT A WORD from Timpsons.


Thursday, 6 August 2015


Success at last

After several attempts to get a decent signal from the ISS I noticed on twitter that the orbit tonight within radio sight of the UK was imminent. Went to the shack, fired up the PC and switched the Icom IC706Mk2G to 145.825 MHz then got Multipsk running in APRS mode.
Didn't make much of the decodes th the main window, however the Map feature shewed the detail as they came in.
Finally sorted out my system, and now to get to know what the hell APRS is about...
Details of the contacts below.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Initiative - should we tell people to use it?

Do people need to be told to use initiative?

Over the last few days I have come across several instances of individuals asking questions on forums where the answer is easily discernible by simply looking.

Example 1: A guy asks where a window has gone on an application. 
It had not gone but was embedded in the main application several versions ago. Accessed by the 'View' menu or [F6]. Information provided in the help file. 

Example 2: A guy contacts me on 'Amazon Answers' asking what to do when his SD Card on his new Raspberry Pi seems defective. 
I respond telling him to check the card or try another with newly downloaded software.
He responds expecting me to replace the defective card (he must think he contacted Amazon)
I respond telling him I am not 'Amazon' and he should contact them or the supplier.
He responds DEMANDING that I should replace his card. He obviously does not know how to contact the right people even though that information is on the order detail.

Example 3: users of Joe Taylor's excellent WSJT-X software or similar not having a clue as to the correct (or adequate) sequence of messages. The guy in question was ONLY using the 'CQ line' of messages and 'RRR'ing each of my messages. Took a long time to get my QSO completed.
Simply seeing what others do would indicate what sequence to follow if the following of written instructions is too difficult.

I worry sometimes that the technological aspect of the hobby is now of low importance and the use of 'Black' boxes alongside 'easier' licensing in some regions is effectively dumbing down the hobby. As an aside a year or so ago on 2m I heard an old timer trying to explain to a new licensee what a dipole was!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

I am Radio 3

Recently on the bands I have had or heard several QSOs with stations giving a report of 'Radio 3.4 or 5'. I personally received a Radio 3 so must assume that my signal was 'classical' as this is the name of a classical music broadcast station in the UK.

I thought that the licensing exams covered reporting protocols so no idea how this corruption of Readability report (if this is what it is) has appeared. What happened to learning from others?

I have a link on my website which may throw some light on this

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year Challenge

Every year I challenge myself to work a station on every band I have available both on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Since I obtained a TS990 in April this now includes the WARC bands and 6m. I did however get help from my Titan DX which I used 40 through 10m, with a halo for 6m, 5 el yagi for 2m, and a 65' end fed for 80m. 70cm this year not available due to antenna being down.
Bands to work are therefore 2,6,10,12,15,17,20,30,40 and 80m.

Not sure about validity of SQ2WHH who came back to my CQ call then worked a German station on that frequency after we exchanged reports but before he acknowledged receipt of my report to him. He did not come back with any '73' to tie the QSO up. OZ1CCM worked as a backup.

Results below. Thanks to all stations.

Happy New Year to all

Friday, 19 December 2014

Headline just Wrong!

They actually emailed a CAD design for making one using their 3D printer.
Stupid and simply incorrect headlines either tell me that the editors who allow this to be published just don't care about accuracy, are trying to generate a 'wow' factor, or are just plain incompetent.

Article HERE

Monday, 8 December 2014

WAS (data) completed

WAS (data) completed 7th December 2014

After waiting for Louisiana to appear on my screen in JT65 mode for several weeks now I was 'chuffed to meatballs' to receive a callback from Parker, W5ADD following my targetted CQ call.
LotW confirmation arrived shortly after and I was able to apply for the award later that day.

Now have the certificate:

Friday, 28 November 2014

I Need LA

Geography of the USA

I completed WAS several months ago in theory, however when I checked the LotW credits I found that the contact  for Louisiana, although 'matched' was not recognised.
The details are :
My attempts to contact that station by email have elicited no response.

I have been calling CQ for LA over the last few days and have had responses from Arizona, Idaho, Missouri and Kansas.

I note from PSK Reporter that I am being heard at decent strength there but i don't get a call back. My attempts to call those stations have not been successful either.

Still hoping though.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Ever wondered whar I&Q are with relation to SDR? Article

Ever wondered what I&Q are with relation to SDR?

This is an absolutely brilliant explanation of the I&Q components of a signal both as TX and RX. If you wonder how these are generated or demodulated then this article and the follow-up are the ones to read.