Oops, zapped my Auto ATU!

As I’ve documented on this website I have recently put together an Auto ATU 100 kit. The ATU works well and I’ve bought a metal case but the buttons that came with the kit aren’t great and I’ve not put the time in to cut out the case. For the time being I have been using the ATU on a plastic tupperware lid, however I’ve also been using Dupont wires and croc clips to connect to my power supply which has led to some unfortunate incidents with disconnected wires shorting to ground, in the latest incident I have unfortunately fried a small region of trace.

Everything seems to work fine, however I’m going to add a small jumper wire to replace this trace as it looks fairly dodgy. I’m hoping that I haven’t fried any components but I think I’ll have to add the two optional extra buttons to allow me to use some of the debugging features.

Joined The Long Island CW Club

I’ve now been learning morse code since the end of June and more consistently since September, over Christmas I have let it slip a bit, but still continuing to practice. After a recent talk from Howard WB2UZE I joined the Long Island CW Club, previously I’d looked into this but the timings of the beginner classes didn’t seem to suit UK times, however now I have reasonable grasp of the characters there are far more classes at times which suit and the joining price is very reasonable.

A week in I’ve really enjoyed the meetings I’ve gone to and everyone is very friendly. In hindsight I could have joined at any point and sat in on other meetings/classes as I was going through the characters, there are a number of members who do that and it’s fine not to participate but just to listen.

I look forward to continuing more meetings and improving my morse code and would thoroughly recommend anyone learning morse code to join.


As my CW has improved I’ve started to schedule QSOs with a local friend, this has been great practice. At times despite being only a mile apart the signal has been very weak, but this has been great practice, in particular when we have had QRM, nothing beats on air experience, I can really see the improvements!

Colpitts Oscillator

Quite a while a go I undertook a small project to build the Colpitts oscillator found in the RSGB intermediate book (purchased as a kit from Jab Electronic Components), despite putting it together as per the schematic I couldn’t get it to work. With help over email and zoom from Jack G3JIR and some other club members and after eventually replacing pretty much all of the parts with spares (many posted from helpful club members) and reassembling on a breadboard, hurrah I got it working!

I think that in the end it was the transistor being incorrectly wired which was the issue, despite having checked and double checked…or so I thought, but it was a long and painful process to debug, quite a learning curve as a newbie in electronics.

Finally the illusive output from the oscillator!

Passed My Full Exam!

On the 08/11/20 I took my full exam and passed gaining the new callsign G5JIM.

I’m looking forward to digging into a few areas of amateur radio now such as doing some construction work – a couple of projects I’ve been waiting to finish and get started on, spending more time learning morse code and experimenting with P25.

Learning Morse Code – A Few Months In

It’s now been a few months since I originally started learning CW and about a month and a half since my ‘restart’ after passing my intermediate exam.

This time round I decided to use G4FON after discovering that I could use it on my Mac via Wine. Part of the reason for this is that although the Chuck Adams course was good I felt that the code speed was a bit slow to start with so and I was finding myself counting, also there wasn’t really any way to work on particular characters as obviously being pre-generated files you just have to follow it through.

With G4FON you follow one of two orderings of characters up to the full 40 characters, ( a-z, 0-9 and ? , / . ), but you can choose character speed and spacing speed (actual and apparent speed) as well as choosing if the spacing speed is just for between words or each character. You can also select individual characters if you have specific characters you wish to work on.

By default the set of characters you are fed is for 5 mins, but like with everything else that can be adjusted. The aim (as per the Koch method) is to start with 2 characters, hit 90% accuracy and add another character, then hit 90% accuracy with that and so on.

The settings I started with were 25wpm character speed/15wpm spacing, but I quickly realised that this was just too fast and switched to 25/12, I made reasonable progress but was still finding it frustrating and very slow process. In the end I moved down to 25/9 and recently finally hit my 90% accuracy aim for a 5 min set of characters.

I am currently studying for my full exam so I am not practicing as much as I’d like, but I am trying to keep some practice up rather than letting it drop like before my intermediate. Hopefully before long I’ll be able to spend some more time working on Morse Code and improve my speed.

Passed My Intermediate

I’m pleased to say that I passed my intermediate exam on the 21st of August so I’ve got a new callsign 2E0JDJ. I’m excited to move on to studying for the full exam and get back to studying Morse code, I took a bit of a break from that as the exam was nearing and unfortunately it feels like I’m back to square one.

Thanks to everyone at Warrington ARC for your assistance, particularly difficult at the moment with no face to face meetings!

Learning Morse Code – A Month In

The last couple of weeks I’ve been fairly consistent at practicing each weekday and I’ve moved back to using the Chuck Adams K7QO course.

I had a bit of an issue when I came across two tracks which were identical which didn’t match the answers. When I emailed Chuck K7QO he pointed me to his website and the official ISO.

The new version I have got (v3) is a little different, it has 514 tracks as opposed to the 131 on the original I had, it also treats learning numbers a little differently. In the original for each number it would teach you the number (i.e. a track with just that number) and then mix it in with characters whereas in the new one teaches each number then gives you track with a combination of numbers, they aren’t mixed in with letters until you have completed learning the numbers.

I successfully read a CQ message, DE, and callsign after a significant amount of listening, but fair to say a long way to go at full speed over the radio!

I am noticing that some characters are becoming automatic when I copy, however others require more thinking and that slows me down. Just more practice needed, but with 514 tracks on the course and all the apps and resources available I’ll have no shortage of practice!

Learning Morse Code – The Second Week

Ok so the second week was less successful than the first. I got distracted by the suggestion that online invigilated Intermediate exams might be available soon and also just had a generally busier week and struggled to find that 15/20 mins without distractions before I got too tired. I have however continued on, using the Ham Morse app on my iPhone to start learning the numbers at 20wpm with word spacing at 15wpm.

I started the alphabet last week using the Chuck Adams course which gives you the letters at 17wpm at 5wpm word spacing. I’ve found it quite effective but before continuing on to words I felt like I wanted more practice of the letters at the 5wpm word spacing as I was getting a bit flustered so I’ve been using the Ham Morse app for that extra practice.

I’m going to try to keep plugging away at it, I figure even a little bit regularly all adds up!

Learning Morse Code – A Week In

A week ago I decided to start learning morse code. Currently under lockdown I can’t take the intermediate course to get 40W privileges so I’m stuck with 10W with my fan dipole, this is reasonable on digital modes, but with propagation as it is I’m really struggling on SSB and I’m hoping that CW will help me get some non digital contacts. Additionally I find CW really intriguing!

I’ve now been learning morse code for a week and have ‘learned’ the whole alphabet, but not special characters or numbers yet. I am using the Chuck Adams K7QO Code Course which I can thoroughly recommend, see Learning Morse Code for more information on this and various methods of learning morse code.

One of the main things I’ve noticed over the last week is that it’s important if I miss a character to just move on and put a dot in place, if I worry about a character for too long I just get stuck miss the next one and get flustered.

I’m fairly impressed with the Chuck Adams K7QO Code Course and I do seem to be making fairly rapid progress. I’m not sure if I’d be making more progress with the ‘pure’ Koch method, but I think that the most important thing at the moment is to stick to what I’m doing and if I can get through the course I think I’ll definitely have reached a decent level of proficiency.

At times I’ve struggled with some of the characters that have been added and as you get further through the alphabet obviously it takes longer to learn the new characters as they are a smaller proportion of the character set you are copying. To deal with this I’ve used a character randomiser and put (for example) 40 of each letter I need to practice in, I then added a space between each and put it into the great text to morse converter at lcwo.net with the settings and speed I wanted and voila an mp3 of the characters I needed to practice. An easier alternative which I discovered today is the “Ham Morse” app, it just isn’t quite as flexible as the text to more converter.

All in all I’m pretty happy with my progress and am hoping that in not too long I’ll be able to start practicing sending morse and then make some contacts and really make the most of my 10W!