Friday, October 19, 2007

Digital Holidaymakers!

What is a digital holidaymaker?

"Quite simply, they aren't trying to emigrate anywhere...Do you know any digital holidaymakers?

Quite probably yes.

If you've ever had the pleasure of leading in-service training on any ICT, you'll definitely have met some. They are the ones that will attend in-service training as it's a 'day out', go through the process of learning new things, cope well with the new ideas and then leave at the end of the day having shelved absolutely everything they learned - it was a day out of school after all, and the tutor was quite entertaining.You'll have met them on a day to day basis too. They are the ones that will incorporate ICT into lessons, units and topics where it explicitly says so. They are the ones that will use ICT to teach skills exclusively and make no connections to anything elsewhere in the curriculum. They are the ones that use the interactive whiteboard only on the day the QIO or HMIe comes to visit."

Well, I must admit that I have to deal with this daily!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik - Analogue Native?

50 years ago today!
Now, I really don't remember this because I was only three years old, but I bet this little beasty was made up of early transistors and didn't have a digital bone in it's body. I would love to see the circuit diagram of this 'bleeping machine'. I'll bet it had a bi-stable mulivibrator, modulating transformer and a big valve!

Launch date: 4 October 1957
Mission: First man-made satellite to orbit the Earth

In 1957, Sputnik 1 became the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth. The world looked on with awe as the space age began.
Sputnik was a triumph of technology. It sent back information about the atmosphere at the edge of space - and of course, it showed that man was capable of sending a spacecraft into orbit.
Yet Sputnik was never intended to be a scientific mission. The United States had already announced their plans to launch the first satellite. The Soviet Union wanted to show the world that their space technology was the best in the world. Sputnik's radio broadcast at a frequency that amateur radio fans could tune into - just to make sure the whole world was talking about the little craft.

Sputnik's transmissions were monitored all around the world. The craft itself was less than a metre across. However, the booster rocket that launched it also reached orbit, and this was easily visible from the Earth.
The satellite's batteries lasted about three weeks. The craft itself remained in orbit for nearly six months, and completed 1400 orbits of the Earth. The fact that the Soviet Union launched a craft that repeatedly flew over America did much to spur on the American space programme.

The word 'Sputnik' originally meant 'fellow traveller'. However, thanks to this little spacecraft, 'Sputnik' has come to mean 'satellite' in modern Russian.

Now this link is brilliant, it tells the story of and launch of Sputnik 1 Click HERE!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

High Pressure!

Todays pressure map.

Historically, Autumn and particularly the first two weeks of October, brings High Pressure and superb openings on the VHF and UHF bands into the Continent and Scandanavia. My logbook shows some great openings on 2m, 70cm and even 23cm!
Checking out my log book, here are some stations worked with less than 10w!
28/9/83 EA1NU on 2m (Spain)
12/10/85 HB9MIN on 70cm (Switzerland)
12/10/85 EA1CYE on 70cm (Spain)
13/10/85 HB9AEN on 70cm (Switzerland)
4/10/86 OK1DIG on 70cm (Belgium)

This one is a classic, this time a later opening in November:
5/11/87 FD1FHI on 23cm with about 50mw of power!
7/11/87 SP6MLK on 70cm (Poland)
Sadly, I have no beams (arials) anymore for 2m and 70cm, I feel that i'm missing something, but when I listen on the bands it is completely DX at all. The magic of working DX on an Autumn evening with the bands open is no more. Sometimes I would stay up most of the night listening and the excitement of working a continental station with home made equipment has to be experienced!
Don't you just love High Pressure!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Piccadilly Radio 261!

While we are on the subject of Pop Radio Stations... Piccadilly Radio on 261 metres MW.
My Ford Escort had three of these stickers displayed at the time, two in the back window and one in the front!

It's now known as Key 103, but it's roots lie in the early 70's when it first came on the air on Medium Wave as a 24 hour station. Great to listen to at night and during the day when I spent my days on the road doing field servicing. The studio was in Piccadilly Plaza (on the second or third floor I think) and when I went to Manchester on Saturday afternoons with Kath, we used to call in at the station to pick up some stickers and other info about the station.

I also remember a visit to Radio Manchester at it's old site in Piccadilly (next to Woolworths)

It was a visit organised by the Bolton Radio Society when I was secretary. We had a look around the studios and talked to the producers and engineers. At the time James Stannage was on the air who caused quite a controversy when he was at Radio Manchester. Wouldn't think twice about using the word 'Pillock' which was not acceptable on-air then!

One night on Radio Manchester (or Piccadilly...I can't remember) Johnny Walker was a guest and invited people to ring up to speak to him on guess what...I stopped my A35 car (with Kath) next to phone box near where she lived and rang up. I got through to the studio but then put on hold until my money ran out! At the time he had left Radio 1 and hadn't been heard of for ages. Now Johnny Walker is on every day on Radio 2!

Click HERE to find out more about Piccadilly Radio!