Lightning Detectors Working Overtime

Had a good electrical storm that Chatteris Weathers own lightning detectors tracked successfully, the software gives each storm cell a reference number, direction bearing in degrees, distance from Chatteris in miles and it’s status, i.e. weak and steady.

The software will also send subscribers an e-mail when a storm meets certain triggers, a e-mail is also automatically sent when no lightning has been detected for over 30 minutes.

Click on link for further details on the alert scheme – To Alerts Page.

My Humble Radio Setup

I have hopefully finished battering the credit card (well for now), and have the radio and ancillaries, the next purchase will be the external aerial, but I will do another page on that.

I decided on a Kenwood TS-2000 multi-band transceiver as this will give me all the flexibility I believe I require, this is powered by a EP-925 PSU with an output current of 25A and a peak of 30A. All the reviews on this power supply were right in that it is really noisy when the cooling fan kicks in, I have done the mod which is all over the internet and is simply a 1.5K resistor in series with the thermostat, this ‘fools’ the cooling fan circuit and has the fan running at a very low speed all the time, should the thermostat open due to high temperature, the fan will go to full speed and full cooling.

SAM_5009

I also bought a Signalink mainly in preparation for PSK31 when I get the aerial sorted, I will also explore all other data modes when I get the chance, the Signalink is configure to Radio Ham Deluxe program and works really well, again I copied others in downloading Skype so I can remote into the TS-2000 from a laptop, currently my license allows me to do this only from within the house as it is still classed as being attended, a full license holder can use this in remote mode away from the house.

I imported a MFJ-949E Antenna Matching Unit, this is not connected to anything yet, but looks nice 🙂

SAM_5012

Passed Intermediate Test

Undertook the Intermediate License radio amateur Test under the watchful eye of Cambridge University Radio Club who kindly allowed me to take the test with them, even though I’m not a member, or for that matter ever got past going to a comprehensive school!

The test comprises of 45 multiple choice questions on all aspects of the syllabus, once the test is over, the invigilators provisionally mark the paper straight away so you know if you have passed or not.

I got two questions wrong, and although you do have to wait for official confirmation, I’ve passed….Yeah.

Front Page Season Countdown Error Fixed

Noticed that the Season Countdown timer on the main index page had missed out the Summer and went straight into the countdown to Winter from Autumn, I thought this was a bit harsh as we have to give Summer a go at least, the fault turned out to be where I had changed the Americanism of ‘Fall’ to Autumn, this had upset the script, so made really minor word changes and it seems to be ok again.

Weather PC Backup

The Acronis True Image 2013 backup software in online ‘real time’ mode has caused me some problems since the 28th May when I enabled it, with the Weather Display application hanging  and therefore generating a Clientraw data received error on the web site. I have reverted back to incremental backups every 24 hours, bit of a shame that the backup software won’t work as advertised (plenty of user comments on this when googled), but at least this method works.

Weather PC Enhancements

Weather PC RAM increased from 2Gb to 4Gb due to memory resource issues when running Acronis back-up software in ‘real time online’ mode, this memory increase has resolved the problem and now instead of making Incremental backups once per day, the system is creating a constant mirror of the ‘C’ drive to the second hard drive which has also been made bootable.

Hopefully these resilience measures will not be needed, but if history does repeat itself I’m better prepared than last time.

Weather Station Down For Maintenance

Sorry for the interruption to the weather service, I needed to add a second hard drive and clone it, read too much lately of hard drive failures and decided to replace my existing second drive with a new one, rather than a refurbished one off ebay.

Chatteris weather was offline for 3 hrs 42 min, but I did make some changes as well,  such as the clouds page, added a radio player to the marine page and also repaired a broken link with the alerts rss feed.

Weather Station Update

Weather station has been behaving until a few days ago when it stopped receiving data from the Davis console, only confirmed this earlier today when Weather Display flat-lined, removing the mini usb from the consoles data logger and refitting it enabled Weather Display to start receiving data, checking the loggers drivers with Silicon Labs, the version I was using was not the latest, this has now been downloaded and seems to be working, I’ve no idea why this has just started so I’m not convinced that I have solved anything, fingers crossed 🙂

Sorry for the breaks in service.

Started on Ham Infrastructure

After a bit of surfing I decided on installing a Diamond x30 antenna, this has been fitted to a 9′ cranked offset pole, I have mounted this next to the soil vent stack so that the bracket and supporting pole are partially obscured from my immediate neighbour on my right, that said, the assembly doesn’t look that bad and cable management in the form of 50 x 25 trunking dropping from the soffit blends in somewhat.

x30 antenna
x30 antenna

I used RG213 cable, this will terminate in a double gang faceplate housing 3 x SO259 sockets, one socket is for the x30, one will be for a spare outlet in the loft and third will go to an external aerial which I have yet to decide on, cable routes have been found to outside down the cavity so that it ends a neat install, this route will also carry the stations RF earth.

Draw rope to attic via 30mm hole

This shows the draw cord disappearing into the cavity ending up in the loft, I used a 30mm core bit at an angle of about 60 degrees to make the hole in the wall, once drilled, I used two lengths of 16mm trunking lid fixed together to get the right length to push up through the wall insulation. Fishing the trunking lid out in the loft is a two person job and a used a walkie-talkie with my better half, to get at this in the loft meant I had to take half a breeze block out as well as the skin off the back of my hand!, once captured, I affixed the draw cord and pulled the trunking lid out, pulling the cord down the cavity.

2014-05-23 01.07.39

First wire to be drawn into the loft was an 6 core 7/02mm signal cable, this is looped out at the breakout faceplate and will allow me to add peripherals such as RF relay, rotators or powered equipment.

2014-05-23 01.08.33

As my walls are ‘Dot and Dab’, meaning that the breeze block walls instead of being directly plastered, have blobs of plaster board fixing cement all over the place with the plaster board sheets being pressed against this and levelled, the board is then given a finishing skim of plaster, to make sure you don’t make a hole directly over a blob of fixing cement, tap the board with your hand and you will hear the sound change form ‘hollow’ to ‘solid’ as you work your way around the area of interest, if you have no option but to make your hole where it sounds solid, good luck!, I found a hollow spot in the region where I knew the draw cord was in the cavity, marking round a double metal backbox, I kept scoring the plasterboard with a utility knife until the cut board came out exposing the breeze block, using a 8mm drill bit, I chain drilled and then opened the hole with a bolster chisel. Using a brazing rod with a hook formed in the end, I managed on the forth attempt to hook the draw cord.

2014-05-23 02.16.16

The image shows the RG213 from the x30 antenna and the longer RG213 which has been pulled up from outside, this will be looped, and pulled into the loft space.

2014-05-23 03.33.23

Backbox ready to be pushed into position, the cables you can see are three RG213 (x30, spare to loft and outside), signal cable looped from outside to the loft and a 10mm earth cable which goes to multiple earth rods, I earthed the x30 antenna bracket with a separate 10mm cable, also terminating at the earth rods.

2014-05-24 00.54.08

RG213 soldered onto the faceplate bulkhead SO259.

2014-05-24 04.11.37

All antenna cables soldered and for good measure I shielded the connections with bonded copper tape.

2014-05-24 04.11.46

Faceplate being eased into place.

Modified face plate

All secure, newly labelled faceplate with DIN socket for the signal cable, this will be used for a future requirement.

loft cable markers

Cables identified in the loft.

SAM_4943

Ground for earth rod being prepared, this area does not get the sun and with the gravel on top, the heavy clay is always wet, so an ideal spot, I did have to be careful of existing cabling and the drains with run close to the wall. The rods and enclosures came from www.tlc.com.

SAM_4944

Loose fit of the enclosure allowing measurements to be made for the conduit.

SAM_4946

Conduit bent and saddles fitted, in the picture is the 4′ copper coated steel rod.

SAM_4947

Silicon sealant around the cable exit, the enclosure will be screwed against this making a good water resisting seal, this sealant dries clear.

SAM_4949

Hardware fitted and earth cables ready for termination.

SAM_4956

10mm lugs crimped and ready to be soldered for good measure.

SAM_4958

Connected to the rod clamp.

SAM_4959

Lidded up.

SAM_4961

Even Barney couldn’t find it when covered.

SAM_4963

Inside the enclosure cables are labelled, I might put an earth block in here connected to a external antenna surge suppressor at a later date.

2014-05-25 21.57.52

This where the faceplate lives in relation to the office, as you can see it is absent of radio kit as I do not own any yet, but I’m working on it!

2014-05-25 21.57.26

Office put back together and faceplate covered by PC monitor, now the route to the loft and outside is established, modifications or extensions to the cabling can be done relatively easily.

The next stage is the addition of multiple earth rods, so please keep checking back.

General information and status updates.