More bits of wet string…

…well actually aluminium. I finally cut down an old ‘fm’ radio dipole to 2m and quietly ran yet another run of WF103 into the loft. So the Trio TR-9130 I got a few weeks ago finally has an aerial. SWR is not bad at 1.2 or so on the VNA. It’s mounted horizontally as I got the transceiver in the hope of one day finding some 2m SSB… well it’s been 3 hours, nothing yet! Impatient!

Anyway it worked fine for the local RSGB News this morning, and to hear someone asking if 145.5 was in use but with no callsign…

This also means I finally have a use for the KW520 SWR/power meter. However, it would not register any power on the 20W setting on the 140-525MHz range but did on the 1.8-200MHz range (both of course cover 2m). I took the lid off, discovered it would be rather difficult to get at the switches to check them so put it back together. Of course it now works fine. Perhaps the initial swearing at it actually worked.

The Trio causes some QRM on the speakers of one of our PCs – actually in the room below the dipole. But as I cured our mains-bourne QRM in general I feel I’m still winning.


It’s amazing what a single wall-wart can do. I have some X10 controllers around the place controlling the outside lights and the dimmers in our family room. For ages now, one outside light refused to co-operate. I changed my scripts to fire several on or off commands to this light which worked for a time but then nothing. All the other lights seemed ok.

Then the family room lights would either come on or go off at random, but only occasionally. I went round the house with the ICR2 on MW and open squelch and there was a hash coming from one indoor camera but not the other. It also came out of many of the 13A sockets around the house. By now I was convinced I’d have multiple noise sources, potentially all of our wall-warts.

Anyway, it got to the stage that the X10 controller running from the house server could no longer reliably control any lights so I got another controller and ran that from the radio PC upstairs. That, at least got most lights back to normal operation, all except the one that had seemingly given up completely.

I finally made time to investigate more properly and began by unplugging the noisy cameral. Silence! All hash gone. Ok. Took the wall-wart out to the workshop and plugged it in. Instant hash, on or off load. I replaced it with another and although that camera still makes a hash on the ICR2 when close by there is nothing anywhere else in the house. And the X10 lights all work, controlled once more by the server, including that apparently uncooperative outside light.

I dismantled the offending wall-wart. It has the relevant filtering components so I assume one or more of them have gone duff over time.

Now, if I can just get rid of the ticking noises from the CAT5 cabling…


Paypal and eBay woes (updated 20/Jun/17)

I occasionally sell valves on eBay and their Global Shipping Program has been useful, taking away the need for me to figure out postage to individual countries. For a very small trader like me this save a lot of hassle. Or it did.

But here’s the issue. Paypal has become ubiquitous and makes for an easy way to add payments to various things, Uber for example. As Paypal’s own adverts tell you by using them you do not need to lodge any personal information with all the various websites and apps you may use. But there is a huge issue. I currently have someone in China who, after taking over two weeks to pay me for two valves then lodged a dispute with Paypal for non-delivery after just a few days. The tracker shows it is stuck in their Global Shipping Centre here in the UK. Anyway, this person is no longer communicating with me but Paypal transferred the money out of my account leaving a negative balance.

And guess what… now I have a negative balance Paypal transactions are failing. So in one fell swoop this dispute means that Paypal is effectively useless to me. I have already taken it out of Uber as I will need to use them. I found this out the I tried to purchase something on eBay. It added the negative amount and then told me that if I pay by card, which is my only payment method, then it counts as a cash advance and thus I will pay interest from day one. I don’t pay interest on anything. Yes, I can add my bank details and transfer money that way but I don’t want to, and anyway Paypal say this takes 5 to 7 days.

Oh, as to the valves they are marked as undeliverable. No idea why yet. In such a case, eBay will refund the buyer, so no need for Paypal to get involved. But the person has not yet closed the case or even bothered to answer my messages about it and so Paypal is still lost to me. And I suspect this will be permanent because as I change away from it as a payment method what reason is there for me to return?

Update 29/5/17 – I now notice as a seller I cannot leave negative feedback for a buyer! I can leave positive feedback or nothing. How useless. eBay is totally buyer friendly and seller unfriendly now. I only sell a few items a year – I can’t imagine the hassle major traders must face… I expect they simply have to write stuff off. Anyway, given the eBay fees, including charring a fee for postage (why?!), plus the Paypal fees this has probably done me a favour as I will now list valves on the museum site open for offers and just trade p2p. Well done Paypal, because of this eBay will not be getting any more commission from me.

Update 2/6/17 – after Paypal found in my favour and put the funds back the buyer changed the appeal to ‘not as described’. At first I though this meant the valves finally tuned up, but it seems they have not (nor will they ever thanks to the GSP) and so he has fraudulently changed it to try to get a refund via Paypal (eBay, remember, will apparently refund the buyer anyway if the item cannot be delivered so it’s not a Paypal claim even though Paypal will need to actually do the refund). So once again Paypal have left me with a negative balance but fortunately I have now stopped using it so it makes little difference to me!

Update 18/6/17 – Apparently Paypal has sent an email on the 14th that I never received and there is something now about having to wait for a refund. But I’m not waiting for a refund? So, whatever the e-mail said it was 12 days since the fraudulent claim that the item was not as described (it never arrived, ¬†remember? It got trapped by eBay). Equally annoying is that because this person took over two weeks to pay me in the first place the seller bill from eBay arrived before the funds. I paid that straight away of course, but because I made a payment to eBay I cannot now close my eBay account until 30 days have passed in case I do to them what this person has done to me and claim the money back!

Of course, now time has passed I am reminded just how easy it is to not have to use Paypal, given just about everything else I need to pay takes cards directly and my various subscriptions have been switched from Paypal to bank transfers.

Update 20/6/17 – Well Paypal tell me they refunded 0.00 to the buyer and have once again put the funds back into my Paypal account, meaning I was able to pay the one thing I still needed Paypal for (a club membership, but future payments can go via Direct Debit). I have removed my credit card details prior to shortly closing my Paypal account. Yes I know I will probably then want to buy something from eBay but I… will… resist!

And so my Paypal account, which I have had for a very long time now, is closed. Gone. Bye. They are apparently sorry to see me go. Hmmm…

6m finally…

50MHz seems alive just now, and after one incomplete JT65 QSO I finally managed to complete a call with a station in the Slovak Republic at 1,600km or so and then with a station about 3km away! My first, and second ever 6m QSOs.

Further JT9…

Well 20m seems to keep springing into life these days, JT-wise anyway. Lots of American stations (north and south) but I have had little luck in managing many QSOs. Then last night I had a JT9 QSO all the way to Chile at 11,800km. Not bad for my bit of wet string in the loft. Mind you, looking him up on shows a massive antenna array so he was doing all the work!

Today my first QSO was JT65 at a mere 620km. There are a lot of European stations on right now.

20m JT activity

Well last night 20m was alive with JT65 and JT9. I saw lots of stations from North America and a number from South America. I replied to a dozen or so US but no-one heard me. Oh well. I tried a couple of EU stations, again nothing. Hmmm. Then the band died off… try again tonight! Mind you, if this stuff was too easy it would not be fun.

One thing that would be useful is a clock that bleeps every minute but on the, say 45th second to remind you to look for CQs.