Hello and welcome! My name is Dean Barnes, I am 47 years old (hence the title of my blog), currently resident in a village called Whittington close to the cathedral city of Lichfield, central England.
I am a licensed amateur radio operator holding the callsign G0RIF. I also enjoy listening to music and going to gigs. My tastes are varied but I do prefer guitar based classic rock & blues.
Through these pages I will share a little of what happens in my life. I will likely bore most of you with details of my amateur radio activities, I may at times amuse one or two of you. I suspect though that it will ultimately do little more than serve to remind me just how quiet and mundane my life is.
Another shot taken with my Canon 350D digital SLR through the telescope, this time with a 2x Barlow lens, prime focus. Again, just a single frame, no stacking.
I see this an an improvement over my earlier shot but still not entirely happy with it. I am now equipped with some software that I believe (and hope) will improve matters. Just waiting for the clouds to clear…
Warming the ether again at last. The antenna is back up in the tree (a simple 20m Par End Fed) and I have made a few test transmissions to see how it’s working. The SWR is a little higher than when last up there, nearer 2:1 now rather than 1.5:1 before. Mustn’t grumble though, at least I’m getting out.
Next to try is the old multi-band wire - time to find the ATU settings for the bands on which it will tune. If memory serves it was previously working on 10/12/15/17/30 and 40m which isn’t too bad. And then there’s the simple 15m dipole in another tree…
Lots to do still bit good to be back on the bands even if only for a few short contacts. More soon!
My wife and I share a growing interest in astronomy. We are both fans of both the ‘Sky at night’ and ‘Stargazing live’ shows on the BBC. As a result of that interest we now have a simple 90/900mm refracting telescope that we share and through which we have both recently enjoyed seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time.
As much as I do hope to extend my astrophotography to capturing images of Saturn and Jupiter in time for now my ambitions are somewhat more grounded and confined to capturing pictures of our closest neighbour, the moon.
Using my old Canon 350D digital SLR through the telescope, this is my first attempt. This is a single frame (so no stacking at this early stage) shot prime focus through the telescope.
I’m not entirely happy with it and I hope to do better once I familiarise myself with stacking techniques and other software that will provide some image enhancement.
For now though I think it has taken my lunar photography to the next level in terms of an improved capability since my March 2011 ’supermoon’ image was posted - Perigee supermoon.
I will post more shots here as I improve.
A year to the day since my last post and over a year since I last sat down in front of my rig and spent some time on the bands. Suffice to say it was an otherwise busy year!
But as winter turns to spring (at last) and the summer of 2013 gets ever closer I have restored the antennas (simple end fed wires and dipoles) to their lofty perches in the trees out back and am arming myself with all I need for some portable ops beyond the home QTH. It’s time to get myself reacquainted with my hobby.
See you on the bands…?
In the recent EA RTTY contest I spent an enjoyable few hours on 15m and 20m, the highlight of which was logging T6JP (Jorgen/Joe in Afghanistan) for an all time new one. This was especially sweet because it happened purely by chance without being directed to his frequency by a cluster spot or anything like that.
I was slowly tuning up the 15m band when I found a weak signal fading in & out of the noise. I quickly realised is was a station calling ‘CQ CONTEST’ but the callsign took a bit more work. I was very surprised when I subsequently got a few clear ‘CQ CONTEST de T6JP’ decodes across my computer screen. Wasting no time I sent my call a few times and eventually snagged him.
Another thing about this contact that I like is that we were both using simple wire antennas and modest power (100 watts each way). Joe uses a vertical antenna at his end and I have a simple 15m dipole suspended in a conveniently located tree close to the shack.
It was also nice to see the contact soon confirmed in Joe’s LoTW upload soon after the contact. I have since then submitted my online QSL request with PayPal payment and am now eagerly awaiting the card to arrive.
No, this isn’t a word ladder or anything like that. It’s a little random musing on the similarities between what I do with my Morse paddle and what my partner Dulcie does in her work from home transcription services business.
It struck me recently that the process by which I convert words and letters into left/right movements of my paddle, apparently without conscious effort but after a lot of practise and training, is very similar to the process by which Dulcie converts what she hears into key presses on her keyboard. I suspect it’s also very similar to the way in which musicians convert notes on the staff when sight reading into the appropriate hand/foot/lip/mouth movements to make their instrument produce the correct sound.
It’s amazing how these things come to you all of a sudden. Who’d have thought that my amateur radio hobby would be related in this way to Dulcie’s job as a self employed audio transcription typist.
Then again maybe it’s not so amazing after all and it was just me being a bit slow in seeing the similarities…?
Dulcie’s personal audio transcription website is at www.dulciebarnes.co.uk.
Having decided to give this blog a bit of a subject matter makeover to have less of an obvious amateur radio focus, for the benefit of any readers who aren’t amateur radio operators, let me explain.
9M8Z is the callsign of an amateur radio operator in East Malaysia.
WPX SSB is an amateur radio contest run annually at this time of year.
WPX stands for ‘worked prefixes’…but enough of that!
SSB stands for ‘single sideband’ which is a form of spoken communication used on shortwave bands.
The sum of which means that I, with my amateur radio station and personal callsign G0RIF, made contact with amateur radio station 9M8Z in East Malaysia this past weekend in the WPX SSB contest.
That’s a distance of some 7000 miles using only 100 watts of power (about the same as your average pre energy saving light bulb) and a simple wire antenna. This kind of thing impresses me.
The 19th of March 2011 marks the closest lunar approach for almost 20 years at ‘just’ 221 567 miles.
This is my attempt at photographing the supermoon (as they’re calling it) and despite the usual tabloid sensationalism, it looks much the same as usual.
This is not quite full moon but is about 99% illuminated. Full moon is an hour before perigee at 18:10 GMT this evening.
‘The wet string chronicles…’ is the former title of this blog, so called because of my less than optimal amateur radio antenna. Over the years I’ve always used simple wire antennas, some of which have worked better than others. Some of the less performant antennas are what we in England would say are ‘about as much use as a bit of wet string’! In antenna terms it’s colloquial for ‘not very good’.
I’m sure I’ll still write about how my antennas are a bit of a compromise (to put it mildly) but I’ll be adopting a less amateur radio focused view of the world going forward. I want to diversify and write about other things that interest me, especially photography and music. That is why today, I’ve changed the title of my blog to something more generic - ‘45 and counting…’.
And as for my antennas, well, they’re still there and they’re still about as compromise as they ever were, but they’re the best I can do given my current location and situation. I still make plenty of contacts and while times at’s a bit of a challenge working weaker and more remote stations, I accept that it won’t always be easy and in a way that only adds to the enjoyment and the sense of satisfaction when I do manage to log a new country.
The title says it all really - it’s been a bit quiet this past 6 months or so at amateur radio station G0RIF. No particular reason but contributory factors do include a diminished passion for the hobby.
Don’t get me wrong, I do still retain the fascination for radio communications and I do still enjoy chasing DX and making DX contacts. Where I struggle is with day-to-day operating. I seem to have so many other things that I want to do these days.
I’ll see how it goes over the next few months before deciding what to do. For now I’ll just say ‘Happy Christmas one and all!’ and wish everyone all the very best for 2011.