Radio RSGB

Training Arkwright Engineering Scholars at Bletchley Park

This Saturday I found myself at the RSGB’s National Radio Centre within Bletchley Park, former Second World War home of the Government Code and Cypher School (now GCHQ) for the third year running.

Radio RSGB

Youngsters on the Air 2017

This is an abridged version of my article published in RadCom Vol. 93 No. 10 October 2017. You might also like to watch the recording of my lecture at the Radio Society of Great Britain Convention on this topic, embedded below.

Lecture at RSGB Convention 2017, Milton Keynes

YOTA 2017 saw young people from all over the world come together in the UK for a week of fun, amateur radio based activities.

Radio RSGB

Video: GB1SS – schools speak to Tim Peake

Video from the Radio Society of Great Britain. Clip from my talk at the Derby High School’s contact at 2:40.

Radio RSGB

Derby High School ARISS contact – Panel

I was fortunate to attend The Derby High School, Bury’s ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) contact with ESA astronaut Tim Peake last week, representing the Radio Society of Great Britain’s Youth Committee.

Following the successful ten-minute contact, I said a few words about the hobby of amateur radio:

You can view the recording of the whole event on ARISS UK’s YouTube channel.

Update Article in the Bury Times:


Radio RSGB

Write-up of Derby High School’s ARISS contact 2016-04-25

This article was originally published in Radcom, vol.92 No.7 July 2016 p.72-73.

The staff and students of Derby High School, Bury, and its partner primary schools, had been preparing for their amateur radio contact with Tim Peake for months – researching the work of astronauts and learning about the science behind space exploration.


Receiving ARISS contact 18 Apr 16 (video)

Radio Technology

Watson W8681 weather station feeding data to WUnderground via a Raspberry Pi

Install Raspbian on your Pi. In the setup process go to Advanced and enable SSH. Also, set it to boot to the command line rather than the desktop – you should be able to run this headless.

Do some basic maintenance

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo rpi-update
sudo reboot

Install Python

sudo apt-get install python-configobj

Install dependencies:

sudo apt-get install python-cheetah
sudo apt-get install python-imaging
sudo apt-get install python-usb

Now install WeeWX
Visit to find the link to the latest .deb file. In this case it is weewx_3.3.1-1_all.deb.
Download it:


Install it:

sudo dpkg -i weewx_3.3.1-1_all.deb

The installer will ask you for a location, lat/long (decimal degrees) of your location, altitude, station type and hardware model.
For the W8681 it is a “FineOffsetUSB” type, and the model # is “W-8681”

sudo tail -f /var/log/syslog

will give you an idea of if it is working or not.
If dpkg complains of missing dependencies then simply perform sudo apt-get update followed by sudo apt-get -f install.

You might notice in the syslog that you get a USB error – this occurs if you have not yet plugged in the weather station receiver.

sudo /etc/init.d/weewx stop

Plug in the receiver if you haven’t already.
Then, edit /etc/weewx/weewx.conf. I used nano. You will need to be root.
Adjust settings such as piping it to wunderground, or to if you would like.
Save the file, and then start weewx again:

sudo /etc/init.d/weewx start



Building an APRS iGate using a Raspberry Pi and a TV tuner dongle

I’ve been messing around with APRS – the Automatic Packet Reporting System – for some time now and had noticed an absence of coverage in my local area. The end goal of APRS is to feed packets (which might be position data, weather reports, messages or other information) to the APRS-IS (which can be viewed at, and this is done via digipeaters and iGates. A digipeater merely re-transmits packets, until they reach an iGate, which feeds them to the Internet.

My local RAYNET group frequently uses APRS for position tracking at events, but often position reports fail to reach control due to a lack of APRS coverage. I therefore deemed it would be a good project to make a portable, lightweight iGate that could be deployed quickly.

Radio RSGB SOTA Wales

Project DX15 – RSGB Youth DXpedition

Last week, I travelled to South Wales to take part in the RSGB’s Youth DXpedition – the first such trip organised by the Society’s recently-formed Youth Committee.


How does a date-time group work?

Date-time groups, DTGs, are a way of writing the date and time (no, really?) as well as the time zone, usually within the military. They are used in orders, logs, and in my case a multi-time-zone flight.

DTGs are formatted as DDhhmmZMMMYY. For example, right now it’s 16:25 on 7 August 2014 in the UK – as a DTG, 071625AAUG14. The letter immediately after the time is the time zone – A being UTC+1 (British Summer Time) and Z being UTC (for most purposes, equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time).