Project 444…

…the slowly ongoing saga. Typical. I wired up the 50-way D connector and connected it all up and … nothing. On checking voltages half was missing, i.e. -80 was there but no +80. The barretter was open circuit on one side. Huh.

A new barretter arrived via eBay and so I now have the PSU fully working. A quick check of the 444 showed it to be no better than before, which I’d expected but I really wanted the correct power supply to verify that. So I connected up the TDMS to send data to the 444 and with the keys set to SMSMS it reliably prints Y – pity that should be R! Fiddling with switch combinations is equally confusing.

So, progress, of sorts. However, the TDMS itself needs work yet because the circular trace is far from a circle, or indeed not even close to anything which might be imagined to be circular.


Politics has no place in this blog and that is not about to change. But something made me laugh today.

In days of old when techies ruled the web we’d use whatever domains we thought were best. But back then there were few, basically .com, .org, .net, .edu, .gov, .mil and a couple of others. Or course, everyone wanted a .com. Later we got country codes, thus,, and so on, and every other country did similar. And here we are today with zillions of domains, some restricted, others not so. At one stage I had a .museum domain but my project didn’t get very far and the domain costs were too high. To get that I had to fill in all sorts of proof.

A lot of my work in name and brand protection saw me acquiring domains which could be used against us, and domains which we could use for marketing in other countries. I had loads including permutations of our name as well as our actual name in other countries and regions. For example, I had China, Asia, Europe, US, may generics, and others in the organisation had India and Japan. I could throw domains up literally in seconds if we detected an issue, for example a name very close to ours but being used in a scam or some fakery. All were directed at relevant information or at our main websites or region specific parts thereof. These were all tools both for me in my work but also for marketing as we had them available for extraterritorial projects.

So it did amuse me to see that some party had purchased a .org domain but no others. Immediately someone else grabbed the .com and .eu versions of the same name and put up opposing views. Many others are also taken but are parked. An individual grabbed the version and some enterprising person even grabbed the .party (one of the new TLDs) domain and parked that.

If you have an idea, a name, a party, or whatever, speak to your marketeers about it before anyone says anything. Listen to them but also advise them. It can save you, and them a lot of embarrasment.

Sleeping teleprinter

It’s beginning to look serious now…

I just need the time to solder up a 50-way D connector to connect the interface unit on the right to the 444. The interface has the +/- 80V supplies inside as well as all the interface logic for the various teleprinter functions. if I nick some volts out of it I should then be able to feed in the test signals into and out of the TDMS and use those to align the 444.

Cookie consent

Seriously, when are website designers going to realise that setting lots of cookies and then asking for consent is the wrong way round? I mean, surely the concept is clear. Unless the cookie is strictly necessary, for example to carry out the function requested by the user, don’t set the darn thing until consent is gained. To me this is like someone plastering advertising stickers all over your car and then finding you and asking if it’s ok, versus someone asking ‘hey can I put these advertising stickers on your car?’

As I’ve said before, there are some truly excellent cookie consent mechanisms out there now, and some truly awful ones, and every mix in between. I’ve seen one recently that sets out your options at the bottom of the page rather than send you off to another page, and they were all pre-unchecked. And another, a cookie wall this time (to be banned soon!) where you either accept or go off to a completely different website run by an advertising agency, only to be told you then need to tell your browser to reject cookies. One had a list of about 400 partner sites and you had to deselect each, one very similar had the same but you could deselect them all in one go. But in each case they were selected by default and consent is gained basically by user frustration – click Yes just to get somewhere, anywhere.

Of course, you can always empty your browser’s cookie cache regularly as I do. But then you run the risk of Google asking you to go through their consent stuff for the umpteenth time because you deleted the cookie they set that remembers your answers. That’s understandable, but still frustrating. Browsers could use a mechanism by where you clear out everything except a few you chose specifically to persist, and have a button on the menu bar to clear them too so you do not need to go diving into the menus.

New toy… (updated)

My latest toy arrived on Monday, a TDMS5BV telegraph distortion measuring set (TDMS). This guy (hopefully!) can generate a test pattern and all sorts of other magic to help test circuits (not particularly relevant) and also teleprinters (definitely relevant).

It tests polar relays too, thus the socket on the front. I have a PDF of the manual and schematic for it. I now also have a variac so I carefully brought the TDMS up to voltage while watching the current and all seemed well – no exploding electrolytic. But it did nothing. After bothering to read the manual it gave instructions on how to prepare the instrument. After a fiddle with a control at the back it produced the required circular(-ish!) trace and the polar relay started to cycle. So far, so good…

Weather… and all that sort of stuff

Well so much for me tinkering with the satellite dish to receive QO-100, the dish arrived and the weather arrived too! We had days of very strong wind and horizontal rain and then when the weather got better I had railway stuff on. Sorting the valves out just made it worse as the dish is now buried in the workshop. Anyway, the valves are leaving next week so I will have space (Space for space, get it? Ok, I’ll get my coat…)

This is the pile of valves to go so you see the issue facing me workspace-wise. There must be 1,000. There is half as much again behind the boxes. This finally rids me of any non-CV marked valve and all are going to a better place (no, not the dump!). And yes, those are 5 of the 21 VT98-type valves I imported. The guys at the depot managed to get all 21 crates into my (then) Astra hatchback – they were a lot better at packing that I am and I’m pretty good!

Oh eBay…

I do love seeing valves and CRTs on eBay listed as ‘ultra rare’ when they aren’t and I’ve got 3 of them…

It reminds me of the VT98 style pulse radar triode listed years ago as the only one and on at £ 15k (memory may fail me here but it was a silly price). Several of us contacted the seller to say how many we had… a friend had 3, and I had imported *twenty one* of them for a few pounds each!!

Projects, projects…

I seem to be collecting projects but making no progress on any of them! Well, ok I have five on the go, of which one is started and one nearly, and three are in boxes still.

Since Es’Hail-2 (QO-100) went up I’ve been planning to set up a receiver for it, and later on hopefully a transmitter as well. One thing at a time (or in my case it seems no things at any time!) So, I have an acceptable LNB, not a good one but should suffice until I get a more decent one. I now have a bias tee, some relevant connectors, I have a roll of CT125 satellite cable somewhere and I am now waiting for a 120cm satellite dish and pole to arrive. If this arrives today I may even get it working by tomorrow, otherwise next week.

The Creed 444 is the one project that has at least had some progress. For that, I now just need to wire up the 50-way D connector to the signalling unit and then it should type to itself, otherwise it will need adjusting as that’s all that is left if the text is still garbled.

Then there is a box full of bits to construct a Minitiouner receiver which will receive ATV (and will hopefully receive it from QO-100 too). All the bits are there ready to solder up.

And there is a box of bits to make a low power 5.6GHz ATV setup. All that needs is a box!

And finally, a box of bits to make up the QRP Labs 40MHz QRP transceiver. I’ve only had that since the National Hamfest – of 2017!


Those pesky cookie consent notices…

Those that know me probably know I do go off on one when it comes to annoying uses of cookies. Well, I came across two allegedly GDPR-compliant consent pages today, each of which amazed me but for diametrically opposing reasons.

The first of the two threw up a box obscuring most of the website telling me it uses cookies, that I can find out why in the privacy notice, and then saying “You are hereby requested to accept the use of these cookies”. No other options.

Ok. First off, the privacy notice had just about zero information about what cookies it set and what these were used for. Fail. Next, there is no way to consent or refuse. Fail. The only way to remove the annoying box is to accept. Fail. Oh, and by the way it had already set the cookies anyway regardless of if I accepted or not. Major fail!

The second example I came across was so different. Here, and in just three sentences at the bottom of the screen, it told me what it used, why it used them, and below this were a series of 4 tick boxes for Necessary, Preference, Statistics, and Marketing, all ticked except Marketing. I didn’t even need to read the linked privacy notice nor anything else to know that the options it was offering were the ones I would have chosen anyway. This is by far the best implementation of a cookie consent popup I have ever seen! YMMV.