Saturday, 7 March 2020

DH8BQA has given me an idea for some future date ...

Actually, DH8BQA has given me several ideas, but let us deal with this one.

It seems to me that sometimes I need a prompt. Like an actor who has forgotten his lines, I need a gentle reminder of what the next thing is supposed to be, a reminder of the plot too maybe. Sure, I know my lines, I have learned my lines over the years, but sometimes I need a bit of a push. Olli has given me a push, but it might take me some time to get around to it. Sometimes I just think about an idea for long periods.

You see, all the time I am dreaming about lots of things which will get done eventually. I am busy having ideas.

I do not really have a photo to represent an idea so here is an unsharp picture of me with hair a long time ago. The Ford Escort 1300E (minus the driving lights which had been stolen) had an on-screen antenna which seems invisible in the photo. It radiated badly anyway. You should have seen that car when I had a bottom loaded whip for 20m on the back bumper and an FT-101 on the passenger seat.
GI8JWG at Kingsbog Junction around 1976.

I have been thinking for some time about meteor scatter on 28MHz, the 10 metre band. This should be a good band for meteor scatter as the reflections from the trails would be longer, possibly leading to short spells of ionisation which looks like "normal" Sporadic E. This sometimes happens on 50MHz (6m) but should be more common on 10m.

What a blog might do is provide me with my prompt. I don't have to share every interest with whoever wrote the blog. Olli has written an article about a contest which coincided with a meteor shower. I don't do contests but we share the interest in the meteor shower and the 10m band. Not only that, but I thought it was a well written posting with all the right information and I think it was pitched at the right level for me, a beginner in 10m meteor scatter.

You can find it here :

There is no convenient shower just now. What I have is an idea about something to try - 10m meteor scatter. It is like getting a piece of kit which does not work, and leaving it in a corner of the shack thinking "I am not sure what I can do with this, but I will sort it eventually". And then, magically, the idea of what you might do is far more interesting that actually using it once you have fixed it.

A bought a humble clock a couple of years ago. It is simple travel clock, bought in a Nordic bargain store in a shopping centre in Edinburgh. Now, why there might be a Nordic bargain store in such a place I had no idea, but the clock was £1.00, so why not? Well, it didn't work properly, that is why not.

Sure it worked after a fashion, with a very loud tick. But every day or so it lost time. Random amounts of time lost, at random intervals, or so it seemed. So I took the battery out and it became one of those things to be fixed.

Let us face it, I cannot give up on an idea. For several years that clock has been in my thoughts. For £1.00 I might as well throw it away. It would cost £41.00 for an "anytime" return in the train from Berwick upon Tweed to Edinburgh so I am not taking it back. Sure, for an old codger like me the bus is free, but that takes four hours to get to Edinburgh and back in the bus.

What kept me going is influenced, no doubt, that I can probably fix it for free and get a pay-off by feeling pleased with myself.

So obviously I kept this clock for years, every so often tinkering with it. At one stage I had a theory that it was sticking gears in the alarm mechanism which was stopping it every time it came up to alarm time. It wasn't. Other equally complex ideas came and went.

Eventually last week it dawned on me to take off the "glass", remove the second hand, put it together again and WHEY-HEY, it works. It must have been jamming against the minute hand at certain points in its arc.

Let us not ask why this had not dawned on me ages ago. If I already knew the answer I would not have had all those interesting ideas along the way.

Who needs a second hand on a travel clock?
The clock with it's former second hand.

As George Benson once sang "Never Give Up On A Good Thing", though I doubt if he meant cheap clocks. I went to a George Benson concert one time and while I think he is a wonderful guitarist, singing is not his forte. He didn't give up on a good thing though, and had a successful vocal recording career. Strange he couldn't do it live. I wonder why.

Now, where was I?

Ah yes, I get these ideas and I just cannot give them up. It might take a very long time to come to fruition, but when I do get round to them I usually crack them in the end. Like the clock. And that is where I am with 10m meteor scatter. Sure I thought about it before. Then Olli's blog prompted me. So now I am thinking again, "I should try that sometime".

When I open up an old computer to try to fix it, I don't know where things are going to go. Fault finding is a wonderful thing, you never know where you will end up. I enjoy just going at risk and trying. My neighbours turn up on the door step and off I go into the unknown with their ancient printers and weird Apple computers. I know nothing about Apple, but I still get there in the end. I am an old bodger.

And so it was with the clock too. Just kick it around until you think of something. The journey is better than the final destination. Curiosity, a desire for experimentation, and an unrealistic impression of my own ability, drive me on to think about a solution.

I don't know what 10m meteor scatter might be like. But like moonbounce or 23cms, let us just go and see where it takes us.

Perhaps I don't do Amateur Radio. Maybe I do one hundred things related to "how things work". I almost prefer having the thoughts, and making the plans about how to solve the task, to actually doing the radio. Sure I do the radio too, but then I am off on some plan to do something else. I do it eventually, but first I must think about it for a year or two.

Thanks Olli.

Now, can I fix the noisy tick on that clock?




  1. I've been interested in meteor scatter on 10m for a long time, most of my monitoring these days is done with an SDR and I tend to watch 26.5-28.7 for any signs of life. CB although quiet these days has much more day to day activity than 10M.

    I've quite a bit of experience with random MS on both BI TV and BII broadcast and from my observations I would say MS is much less frequent on 10 and 11m. This could be down the lower gain of the antenna although it's the same Log Periodic I use on both HF and BI but BII has its own high gain 5M boom Yagi.

    I usually hear MS on 10/11 only between day break and around 11AM, I've no idea if this is just coincidence, a peak in activity or some other reason.

    Occasionally I'll hear a really long burst than can last for some minutes, I don't believe it's any mode other than MS as the signal fluctuation doesn't really fit any other mode. I've also noted that a good ping on HF doesn't necessarily equate to one on BII.

    Here's a video of one such ping

  2. Paul
    Yes, I think you are right. Meteor scatter usually peaks around 06:00 and as you say, tails off by about 11:00. It doesn't stop though and I have done quite well in the afternoon.
    I also agree with your point about 10m versus bands I and II. The weaker 10m ones would not have any effect on higher frequencies. It depends on the angles and size of the meteors.
    I freely admit I know a lot less about 10m than higher frequencies. I need to learn.