QRZ, QRZ QRZ…. The number one website for hams, and the Founder….life does not get better.

IMG_0322

 

We had the greatest honour in recent years to be blessed with Fred Lloyd’s AA7BQ (President and Founder of QRZ.com) visit to the UK. Further more, we had Fred come visit us in person and give us an inspiring talk on the early days of QRZ right through to modern and beyond…. life as a ham does not get much better than that.

In the early 1990’s “1993 to be exact”, Fred Lloyd had an idea to get all the names and information of every ham in the USA and bundle them up on a QIC cartridge for distribution amongst hams. From a 9 track to QIC and later to CD rom the database just started to grow and grow. As time continued so did the database and it continued to grow more and more to what we are blessed with today. A friendly database that’s full to the brim with information on your fellow ham. Fred talks much about the progression from home servers, to T1 broadband and onwards to greater things … fast forward to 2016 and now the database is safe as bricks and mortar in  the cloud for 24/7 uptime. Now that’s progression.

QRZ.com in history was established way before Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Twitter and even Google.!! So how has QRZ.com come so far. In my own words, “A thinker is someone who understands the peoples needs and adapts to that without straying from the original concept.” Well in truth QRZ was established way before 1993….. as a BBS (for those who are old enough to remember Bulletin Boards and News groups). From that and FTP server and bridging 30+ years to today in the Amazon cloud. Fred talks about his early years as a programmer and he really has kept up to date with progression. QRZ today has a dedicated XML server and database server ensuring that the site is always accessible.

 

Now in present day 2016 QRZ incorporates awards, logging, XML lookups (for integration into logging software), custom page design to name the most popular, but more than ever the database has grown and if you want your amateur radio online presence to be documented then you have a QRZ page to do that…..and its still free (quite a feat as the 80gb [citation needed] a month bandwidth QRZ consumes is not cheap). QRZ has survived through very clever, non intrusive advertising which keeps the site alive. QRZ has also expanded to included staff to answer your questions and queries within 24 hours, a dedicated web designer and QRZ page designer.

In another propellerhead flash on Genius, Fred talks about his decision to publish questions from past Amateur radio exams. With a broad grin Fred declares “I helped thousands of people get through their exam”.

In summary QRZ.com has had an impact on the world of amateur radio. Looking inside someone’s shack from the comfort of yours is a stroke of genius and I would thoroughly recommend taking out a QRZ subscription of some sort.  An example is HRD or Ham Radio Deluxe. Have you ever been inside your favourite logging program (other than QRZ of course) and had to fill in tedious data on the fly……yes I hear you cry. Then your destined for the XML database. it quite simply ties the mass of data on QRZ to your logging program and before you have even finished typing the callsign, the users data is filled in automatically.  Or get the ad free version if you do a lot of portable operating, on a slow broadband connection or use a cellular phone to get your internet. The ad free version is considerably quicker loading than the free page and preserves you monthly limits too.

Don’t take my word for it, check out QRZ subscriptions here and choose the right one for you and don’t hang about as the turbulent £££ pound may mean your paying more in the future.

I would like to thank Fred and Robin (Fred’s amazing wife) for one of the most level headed and clear thinking talks the Havering and District Amateur Radio Clubs has ever had. I think the worlds owes Fred a debt of thanks for keeping the No#1 amateur radio website alive.

TRAINING.

Training at the Havering Amateur Radio Club was previously a little ‘up and down’. Nowadays however everyone is pulling together nicely to give 100% to the trainees. Here is Steve G8PMU overseeing Michael M3DOV getting to grips with resistor colour codes, coax plugs and mains plugs. Refreshing to see our trainees know (without being taught) how to check a mains plug for all the correct ratings, fuses etc.

                                  Watch this space to read of more happy souls.

One student had an interesting tale. He was ready to sit the exam, only one problem – no exam papers. This was when people were murdered on Westminster Bridge and the ‘keeper of the papers’ was held safe in the Houses of Parliament. Unable to leave for hours he was unable to attend the exam and bring the papers. Fortunately the exam was reset for a few days later. Again we got worried. The exam was due to start at 5pm. Three of us were expecting the student to arrive in good time but 5pm had come and gone! He finally arrived 10 minutes late having been held up on a long train journey. Since the exam had to be finished by 6pm it was a bit of a toss-up with regards explaining rules or just getting on with it. No worries however, being a bright spark he completed the paper in half an hour and passed, phew!

Well done to Ken 2E0KFJ who passed the intermediate exam. There were about 45 questions if I remember correctly and Ken only got a couple wrong. I’m not surprised really as there were some awkward ones which would have had me pondering for quite a while too, and probably ticking the wrong box. Well done to Bill our latest exam entrant. Early on in the marking we got worried but after a few ‘bad starts’ the sheet became a clean sweep thereafter.

Well done to Neil (2E0OYY), just sat his final exam and feels he has passed. Also congratulations to Ken and Steven who have just done the Foundation exam. We have one more entrant to go before the new syllabus starts. We have two more currently preparing for the 2019 Foundation.

 

IMG_0308

Christmas bash & TRAINING

If you think we look a bit of a ‘rum bunch’ please forgive us, (it was a long session). You will pleased to learn we are now all chipper and looking forward to meeting you at the Club one Wednesday evening. Foundation Exam training is now becoming almost a continuous event. Whilst some Clubs make a charge for training we tend not to. We trust that anyone fairly local will become a regular Club member anyway.

queenstheatre

Mountnessing Windmill

Just a quick write up of Mountnessing Windmill until I get time to write it up better. Another great day out for the Havering ARC. Making some contact with some rare mills and a few old ones. Quite a few Dutch mills in the log and quite few German stations in the log to. Shame to see the mill in disrepair at the moment so we hope our small donation went some way to getting it fixed up. Also thanks to Karl, Essex County Council and the friends of the Mountnessing windmill for making us feel welcome.

WP_20160514_16_52_11_Pro

Steve G8PMU making a few on his ex-military equipment. A great day for experimenters. Also worked the usual 160m club top band net.

WP_20160514_16_51_41_Pro

Who? What? When……is that the great man Oliver G3TPJ operating. Oh yes… we had a really great experience with Oliver operating. Oliver bringing his own form of wit to the windmill (we were in stitches with Oliver’s jokes). Also in the shot is John 2E0WJI John Dale.

Didn’t go through the night on this one as many of us had other commitments but a great success. Thanks to the guys who helped make it happen.

The Weather, he cometh. Alan Paul – G3RJI talks weather and weather stations.

Weather, some love the word, some loath it, the truth is we have to suffer it….whatever the weather…..get it..? Having a clear prediction on the weather can be god send, if your nipping to the shops or taking a holiday, the weather is of paramount importance. It gives us fine food and crops, its replenishes the grass and washes away dirt, it brings the rain we need to live, so why are so many so clueless about “weather”.

Our very own Alan Paul G3RJI or www.upminsterweather.co.uk fame gives us an amazing in depth analysis of weather and his world renowned weather station. During the talk we had great pleasure in learning why heat is often cooling…..”what”, yes heat can cool us if managed correctly. Call me a hypocrite but its all true and how we manage humidity is key to just that effect. Alans talk spoke in depth on receiving weather data in the early days of NOAA and 136mhz geo-orbiting satellites to geo-stationary satellites of today. Alan now points his equipment to Eutelsat 10a and with snazzy programs to decode weather data from MSG or Meteo Sat 2nd Generation the ordinary amateur weather guy or gal can now be a professional in his or her own right, giving rise to a new breed of reliable weather forecast. Alan has featured in many publications and has been prominent in the Romford Recorder for quite a while. Even using his weather station to send detailed weather via his APRS setup for the rest of Essex and beyond to appreciate.

Unfortunately predicting the weather and rendering images from space is costly. I personally tried to get into lightening reporting and using TTA or time to arrival synced to a GPS receiver that received the pulse from a strike and converted the energy from a ferrite type antenna into highly accurate strike data. Something that I did not ever get around to actually doing….baaahh! This is where dedicated weather predictors like Alan Paul step in and take up the rains (not a typo…a pun). Yes Alan has equipment to actually detect and report strikes…..genius (he says in an Italian accent).

 

WP_20160420_20_26_21_Pro

 

My turnstile antenna still sits on the side of the house, not really receiving much these days unfortunately, however its testament to a fad I once had with the weather. Now days most of the weather is received directly over the internet or grabbed off websites. A shame really however time waits for no person. I still tune in to Northwoods weather broadcasts on 4610khz from time to time and run FLDigi on my Ubuntu PC just for fun, however I rarely get a chance due to work commitments. Looking at the images we managed to take at the talk we can see boards of stills of Infra-red and Colour images received via satellite to via the Internet.

Now days people use one wire techniques and Raspberry Pi’s or Arduino to grab weather data and send it over the Internet for analysis, however just having a DHT22 or worse a DHT11 sensor can lead to big swings in accurate weather reporting and unless your equipment is kept calibrated its unfortunately a hindrance to other dedicated weather predictors. You will see APRS is awash with bad data and corrupt information. So if your thinking about getting into weather on the cheap, keep your information in house as there seems to be a glut of dodgy info flashing around. If you want to get into APRS on the cheap for receiving weather data then you can download AFSK1200 for Windows and use your soundcard to receive APRS on 144.800mhz FM (along with other data of course). As your not transmitting you won’t need a 1:1 transformer to isolate the RF from your PC but remember to remove the cable from your PC to Radio when transmitting.

   Lastly, Alan took us through his various features that he uses to get accurate weather information, including a Solar sensor, UV sensor and rain gauge. naturally every station needs a thermometer and Alan goes the extra mile with relative humidity sensing equipment, called a Whirling Pschycrometer which is one of the most reliable instruments, not requiring any batteries, and only taking around 15-20 seconds to obtain a reading. It is like a football rattle and is simply a holder with two thermometers, one of which has its bulb end exposed to the air and the other end covered with gauze which is kept wet via a small inbuilt container topped up with water prior to use. The unit is spun around for 15 – 20 seconds and the two thermometer readings are taken. Both thermometers will read differently with the wet one reading lower by just a few degrees. The wet thermometer gives a lower reading because when it is spun around some of the water on the gauze evaporates which cools the thermometer down. Just how much water evaporates depends on the RH at the time. If the RH is high then less water will evaporate and if it is low, then more will evaporate. Its a tad confusing but seeing it demonstrated helps and this is all plotted in a large book containing graphs called a Pschycrometric chart book.

Psychrometric chart 4

   In the current world or climate change, and weather diversity, then we all should be concerned about the weather….right. Then we should thank our lucky stars we have dedicated weather predicting gurus like Alan Paul G3RJI to keep an eye on what’s hot and not….Oh! no not more puns.

  More information and live weather data can be found here on Alan’s website.

http://www.upminsterweather.co.uk

   Final word. During the demonstration, Alan’s rain catcher was damaged and we never like to see our guest speakers go away upset. As this equipment came from the USA it naturally cost quite a bit. If you have a rain gauge or catcher that you would like to sell or donate then please contact the website here  g4hrc@haveringradioclub.co.uk. In the meantime I will search the web for a replacement. Remember Alan puts weather data into the public domain for free, his services are free so in between running a full time business he also gives up his valuable time to give us delightful weather data.  The Davis Rain Collector.

http://www.weathershop.com/images/RAIN-COLLBIG.GIF

 

best 73 de Spence M0STO

 

© 2016 Havering & District Amateur Radio Club.
Skip to toolbar