Monday, 21 March 2016


Back in last August, I found myself in West Des Moines, Iowa, I was in a Taxi on the way from my hotel to work, When the taxi driver asked me if I knew Bill Bryson, I had just told him that I lived in South Yorkshire, (Bill had lived in North Yorkshire).

I said I knew of his work for the CPRE, to my shame I had not picked up on his work as a writer, The Taxi driver told me he had been at school with Bill and asked me if I had read any of his books, I had to admin that I hadn't.

We walked about this and that and it wasn't too long until I arrived at work. I opened my laptop and made a note to look up Bill Bryson. I read quite a lot, and I mostly go for books that have been recommended.

Well I just finished my third book from the collection that Bill wrote "Notes on a Small Island" I was surprised, on just how many of the places that Bill visits in his book that I had visited also. I am finding that I have an affinity will Bill and his work and look upon him as some sort of kindred spirit.

I am just starting a Walk in the Woods, and very much looking forward to the joys and gems I am sure its going to offer.

Question is how in the first place did I miss his books for so long and what others am I missing ?    

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Great New Amateur Radio and Blog site found

Great New Amateur Radio and Blog site found

Keep updated and follow a journey in to Amateur Radio (ham radio) at

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A Good Flat Bread for Camp ? -- Roti

A Good Flat Bread for Camp ? -- Roti

I was just having some left over curry for lunch, when I decided that it would be even better with some of these amazing flat bread.

I like to make these when camping and they are good even when backpacking or Canoe Camping.

I was given this recipe by a good friend and understand these come from Nepal, they are very good with Curry or Stews, and for Breakfast I like them with scrambled egg and a little bacon.

This makes about six which is normally good for me, the dry content can be bagged up and sealed, and packed in your rucksack, or canoe barrel.

100g strong (bread) wholemeal or brown flour
(you may need a little for rolling out)
A small pinch of salt
60ml water

Optional - melted butter (if liked)

Mix the flour, salt and water in a bowl, don't add all the water, you may need a little less or more. Using your hands knead until smooth - can take 2 to 3 minutes.

Roll out into a sausage shape and divide into six, and roll into balls. ( try and get these as round as you can).

Using some extra flour roll out each ball into a thin circle about 15cm / 6in across.

When I am on a standing camp or taking the canoe I have a small cast iron griddle, which is excellent for these (you can use any heavy based frying pan). 

Unless you mad your not going to take a lump of cast iron backpacking. These can be made in a Tranga pan (I use a non stick one) you need a medium heat which is not easy on a Tranga (take can not to over heat your pan).

When the pan / griddle is hot, place the first roti on it, for about 30 to 50 seconds, you will see some bubbles, then flip it over, hopefully it should be slightly browned, with some dark spots. Flip it over over again, the bubbles should get bigger. Flip it over one more time and if you are luck the whole roti will puff up (my first one never seams to) turn a few more times and you are done, depending on how much colour you like.

You can brush them with melted butter at this point, but I don't.

You can keep them warm in a clean tea towel.

Even when light weight camping I take these, you can make them in less time than it take to boil some rice. ( I have a round water bottle which makes a good rolling pin !).

Monday, 4 November 2013

Raspberry Pi - Second helpings

Gave a talk at the Radio Club - "Raspberry Second Helpings"

This was a follow on talk from my introduction talk, the first Item was how to set you Raspberry Pi to run 'headless'

This involves setting up a static IP Address.

Using your favorite editor, setup the following:   (I use Vi).
edit /etc/network/interface (to match your network settings).
iface eth0 inet static


You also need to edit /etc/resolv.conf
Add the details for your dns server or your ISPs dns server

Connect your Raspberry Pi to the Network

Connect the power supply and allow it to boot
Then use an ssh client to connect to your Raspberry pi
(I recommend putty from

This will give you cmd line access, however you may want to make it a bit more secure
and easier to use.

Lets make the login secure

Using putty and pageant we will create a public /private key pair and use them to 
Use PuttyGen and create a new pair of keys by clicking the “Generate” button. You can
keep all the options at their default settings. It is be a good idea to set a passphrase for 
your key. Then, save both public and private key to a safe location.
Name your public key .pub and the private key .ppk.

* Pageant / PuttyGen are also from

Copy your public key to your /home dir
ssh-keygen -i -f >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
Replace with the path to your key. Now log out and setup pageant and restart 

If you are using a windows PC I recommend WinScp to use to copy your key.

In the picture above you can see your key file.

Problems ? Key Not working ?

Check the permission on the .ssh dir
Only the owner should have rwx
$ chmod 700 .ssh (for example)

Also check the authorized_keys
This should be rw write for the owner only !

This is all well and good but where is the GUI ?

For this we are going to install a VNC Server on the Raspberry Pi.
And a Vnc Client on the Windoze PC ! * not shown !!

Installing VNC on the Pi

Using the cmd line
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade
(before installing any software and from time to time it’s a good idea to update your o/s).
This can take a while if its not been done for some time.

$ sudo apt-get install tightvncserver
Once installed you need to run

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Off to the BATC CAT13 again this morning, looking forward to some good stuff

Looking forward to more from the BATCs CAT13 today, on the Agenda for today Sunday 27th Oct. 2013

10:00    10 GHz tx multiplier from 13cms

10:30    PLL LNBs on 10 GHz

11:00  Locking PLL LNBs

11:45    HAM TV on ISS

13:30    ATV in practice - 10 GHz ATV in the N West

14:00    DATV express update & Narrow band modes below 432 MHz

14:30   Digital update - including the latest news from Digilite team 

The BATC 2013 event is streaming live from the Finningley Amateur Radio club -

Keep an eye on it and check the agenda to catch some fantastic talks today.

Friday, 18 October 2013

TNC-Pi Raspberry Pi Packet Radio Board

Just Reading round the Amsat Uk web site when I came across this:

TNC-Pi Raspberry Pi Packet Radio Board

Which is just what I was looking for, it comes in kit form which should be fun to build, not that my hands or soldering are that good, just as well that there no surface mounted components. Bonus !

Its looks like its going to provide me with  a low cost means of using amateur radio AX.25 Packet Radio and APRS.

Aprs is the thing I am most keen on, as well as Microwave and AVT.

Fun times 


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Sport Radio – UKACs – What is it all about ?

Sport Radio – UKACs – What is it all about ?

The main word that springs to mind for me is Fun! However, it is much more than that, by taking part in these my operating techniques have improved and there have been a number of other benefits as well.

When the word contest comes to mind, I used to picture one of those events on HF which has been likened by some as ‘Swimming with the Sharks’, but not anymore.

So what’s different about the UK Activity Contests?  Apart from the fact that they take place on VHF, UHF and SHF? Well to use an old term, I would sum them up as a, gentlemanly contest. Where everyone is very welcoming.

So who can take part in the UKACs? “All entrants and operators of UK stations must be RSGB members except visiting amateurs, not normally resident in the UK” Except if the operator is a member of an RSGB Affiliated Society (AFS).

When do these UKACs run? They take place on a Tuesday evening, between 19:00 and 21:30 (UTC), there are four sections you can enter – which are mainly dependent on your power output. You need to log your contacts and this is time, RST (Rx and TX) , Serial Number(Rx and TX),  Locator. Once the contest has finished you need to upload them to the contest web site. See the RSGBs web site  for full information.

I like to operate portable /P which is a good job as my home QTH is down in a bit of a dip and although I hold a full licence I prefer to use a maximum of 10 watts, if I am operating on my own I use a pen and paper to log, backed up with a recorder. Then transfer to minos to upload, you can type your log directly online, but I have found minos works well for me. When I can find someone I prefer to get someone to log for me, and when I do this I get much better results, and less errors! (due to my poor handwriting)(HI).

A typical contest starts a couple of days before when I make sure my batteries are charged up and put my ‘sotabeam’ in my vehicle, log, tea making equipment etc. I plan when I am going to setup.

When the evening arrives, it’s normally a bit of a rush, getting home from work around 18:15 and getting setup on a site somewhere for the start. I can normally be setup now in 10 minutes, and I am getting used to it all now. I start off pointing the antenna, North and call CQ for around 10 minutes, then scan the band and then move North East and repeat the process, again and again. This works well for me but, I am sure you will find what’s best for you.

I find it useful to listen to a weak station until I hear the locator, and then move the beam by hand, so that it’s pointing in the best possible direction. If there are two of us my logger normally moves the beam for me, which helps.

I  find the evenings great fun !!, when I am finished I go home, put the kettle on and make a cup of tea, get the laptop fired up and go online to summit the results, then have a good look at other peoples submitted scores. I find myself checking the results section of the RSGB web site a couple of times a day. Once the new results are up, someone in the club normally post them on out facebook site and we have a bit of a rag chew.

Very often these discussions result in sharing ideas on how we can improve. I also found the people from other clubs are happy to help you improve too. Even if you are competing against them. This says a lot about the friendliness of the contests.

One of the other areas that I enjoy is getting those who are new to the hobby to come and take part, after we are all here to learn, and we all started at some point as a beginner.

Look forward to working you – Paul