Saturday, 29 December 2012

Psalmopoeus irminia. Venezuelan sun tiger

I thought it was about to happen and it did, my P.irminia tarantula sling has molted again. This is about the third time it has molted since I have owned her/him. It started about the size of my little finger nail and is now about 3 or 4 cm in size.

It is now starting to look a lot more like this picture but its still not know if its a male or/female, things can change.

I am really hoping it will be a female as she will look just like this one, if its a male it will change quite a lot and not be quite as striking. In fact it will go a more grey/silver colours.

One of the main differences between male and females is that in most (if not all) live for different life spans. Males generally do not live as long as females and often the difference is quite substantial.

So the male looks quite a bit different although it is still a great looking tarantula.
By choosing to grow on tarantula slings it is impossible to tell the sex of the spider at such an early age. So its really 50/50.

Out of our seven tarantulas four of them are slings and three are young adults. from the adults we know that the Avic Avic is female, the B.smithi is male but we don't yet know the G.rosea as she hasn't molted since we bought her a year ago and she/he came unsexed.

So we just don't know the sex of some of them yet but if I could get to the molt of the P,irminia maybe I could sex it, but getting the molt now thats easier said than done ! this is one quick tarantula.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


OK I think I have most of the issues sorted out with this antenna, none of them I have to say are the fault of the antenna but have come about through using a loft space antenna rather than a n outdoor one. The benefits of not having to go outside each time I operate are huge.

The Magitenna was giving me issues on the 20mtr PSK31 band, going back to basics and re organizing the cables in the shack sorted out this problem and I can operate on 20mtr with no issues now.

Minor issues with the 30mtr band have been resolved by making and using an Ugly Balun. This was really easy to make with a great web page that gave a great explanation of what it does and how it works. Check out this page at Hamworld I have to say Brian at Hamworld and Nigel at M0CVO antennas have been really helpful in getting my RFI issues sorted out. Now I don't know these guys personally but my emails to them have been met with really helpful answers.

My next  job is to bomb proof my heating thermostat and boiler which is shorting the contacts on the thermostat on select frequencies. Again great advice from the guys above and I am hoping to get the thermostat changed very soon and ferrite's on the boiler lead also.

Now the Ugly Balun seems to have really smoothed out the feed from the antenna to the radio and has resulted in a better SWR with the auto-tuner.

The signal reports from this little antenna have been really good and I have had some great contacts from all over Europe and even down as far as South America.

So with a little house keeping and some good advice my shack is now running pretty smooth again, there is some testing still to be done but that all part of being a Amateur Radio operator.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Great amateur radio weekend.

Here is an update on the Magitenna antenna  which is 7,5 meters in length and located in my loft. I have had the chance to use it this weekend and I have had a great time with it. There is a but ? I will get to that.

This map shows most of my recent qso's the important ones for this antenna are Paraguay and Kazakhstan, Greece and Jan Mayen Island.

Over the weekend on which I operated on 80,40,30,20,17,15 and 10 meter bands on PSK31 and SSB over 3 sessions operating about 12 hours overall, I managed 48 contacts.

I already had the USA and Canada on 5W SSB not too long ago and also a great contact with Dubai on other antennas.

So overall a great amateur radio weekend with lots of great contacts throughout Europe and beyond.

 Now for the but , PSK31 was great on 15,17 meters but even though 20 meters tuned fine it kept spiking and causing DM780 to freeze.I did update HRD and DM780 to the latest version but it did'nt make any difference.
 I have no problem on 20 meter PSK31 on my Buddipole so I am not really sure why it is doing this. If I kept the Signalink TX switch really low it was ok ish but that only allowed for about 5w output on a 25w setting.
 The ALC is always zero but spiking to about three on the ALC scale (not good).

So overall a great weekend with operating on most bands. The QSL cards are all done and ready to send to the bureau tomorrow.

This antenna is a great addition to my shack but not perfect. The key for me is that its winter and for a few months I don't have to go outside and set up antennas each time I operate so that is a big bonus.

To see my restricted operating conditions check out .

If I could sort out the ALC problem on 20 meters it would be almost spot on. Watch this space.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Twitter feed

So I was chatting to a friend about blogs and thinking that I had everything covered she surprised me with the question, " so if I update my blog will it go on Twitter and Facebook" ?

 Now I often Tweet and Facebook at the same time from Hootsuite and I often add to Twitter that I have updated my blog, but now I am thinking how do I feed Twitter and Facebook to my blog direct.

Google here I come and within seconds I find Twitter feed, this allows me to have my blog sent to Twitter and Facebook as soon as I update it.

 But does it ? well that's what this blog update is about finding out if this works, so here goes. Lets see if this works Kirsty ?

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


      M0CVO Antennas MAGITENNA now installed in the loft.

So if you have checked out my profile on  ( M0GYY) you will see that my amateur radio conditions are pretty limited.

So after checking out lots of alternative antennas I finally settled on this one, but does it work ?

I fitted the antenna on Sunday 9th December 2012 and to be fair the bands here in Portishead South West  England were pretty poor, propagation was not very good at all.
However not one to give up and having installed the antenna I powered up my Yaesu 817ND as my test rig and got on the air. I scanned the 20mtr band and IK2VFR was calling CQ SSB. So giving it a go I called in reply and had a great QSO using 5w. My signal was confirmed as a 5/9 all the way with congrats on a great 5w contact. So far so good.
So with a few days off work and a chance to spend a few hours hours on my radio I changed to my Yaesu 450D.
7 hours of operating over two days resulted in 20 contacts using PSK31 and SSB on 80,40,20 meters. To be fair I was really pleased with that.
Firstly I have never really operated on 80 and 40 meters from my home qth so that was a first for me.
So all is good ? ..... well almost, the antenna worked fairly well but I have a problem keeping the ALC from spiking on 40 and 30 Meters and I have not managed to solve that yet unless I go below 10w output.
On 100w SSB I turn on the bedroom lamps and the heating thermostat starts clicking, to be fair it did that with the Buddipole as well so I have to reduce power a little.
Overall and after only 7 hours of operating I really think that this little antenna is performing better than my previous set up.
I have another few days off soon so I will give it another go, hopefully conditions will be better and I can really see what this antenna can do.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Ok I did it I finally went for Spotify Premium about 2 weeks ago and I have to say I think its pretty awesome.
Now I dont think its perfect in any way as I have had a bit of a steep learning curve with it , but I think that I have sort of got to grips with it.

The radio feature is really good but sometimes it throws in the odd ball ie Pearl Jam radio and as well as Nirvana and Foo Fighters it gave me MC Hammer, really ?

 What I really do like is the way I can think of a band or artist and hey presto I have it. I have not been able to find Alica Keys Girl on Fire album but I am not sure how soon Spotify get the music when its released.

There has not been much that I have not been able to find. Today as an example I thought of Hurt by Johnny Cash and in a second I was playing it and other great tracks.
So if that was it I would be well pleased with my £9.99 a month but it gets better.
I have Spotify on my Ipod Touch and also my Samsung Galaxy Ace phone and it syncs my playlists which is cool and it also, "and this bit is great" allows me to play my playlists off-line, so my phone syncs at home on my wifi and then I play the tracks when I am out and about.  Now that's good.
Also no adverts on the Premium subscription.

Any cons ? yes a few little ones. Sometimes the sound quality from my laptop is scratchy and stutters (I have fibre bb) I know its not the speakers and its been documented on the net as a blip.
The occasional odd track on the radio and as mentioned the steep learning curve to get the best out of Spotify.

Final verdict, I really like it and wish I had done it sooner.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Busy building a website is up and fully working. Great craft items made by the xyl.
Its been pretty tough at times getting all the elements to link together but I got there in the end.
Now back to boring old work.

Sent from my Galaxy Ace on O2

Saturday, 1 September 2012

ML40 MK2 Magloop

                                 ML40 MK2 Magloop

Being a keen ham radio operator I often get frustrated by having very poor working conditions from my home qth. I have up to now had great success with my Buddipole vertical on 20 meters but have never been able to get a 40 meter contact.
 I operate on PSK31 and SSB from my qth and also operate portable qrp SSB from my caravan which is either on Dartmoor or Exmoor and from here I use a 20 meter home made vertical.

The latest idea was to find a suitable way of operating 40 meters from both locations and without having a big antenna and in fact keeping as small a footprint as I can.

So weeks and months of searching for a suitable antenna lead me to allsorts of weird and often wonderful antennas. As you can imagine the prices varied and so did the reviews.

Reading through a copy of Radcom I came across a review of a loop antenna made by Tom G4TPH, now I have to say I don't know Tom from Adam but in my recent communication with him he seems a really decent guy.
The review in Radcom was good and so was the one in Practical wireless, both mentioned that this was a compromise antenna but they still gave it a decent review.

I emailed Tom and he replied that he had none in stock as he was having a problem getting parts. Ok back to the drawing board or maybe not. Tom said he was trying to source new parts and would let me know when and if he got them.

 A few weeks later I received a email from Tom telling me that he had a few new antennas in stock, great I bought one and its arrived (above)

I set it up as per instructions and within 30 minutes I was operating on 35w PSK31 first contact. tuning was no problem if you follow the instruction. I have to say the receive on the magloop is really good so how about 40 meters.

Here is a photo of my very first 40 meter contact from my home qth to 2O12L Olympic special event station. Well pleased with a 59 report..

So in the first few hours I have made contact on 20 and 40 meters both on PSK31 and SSB

Its early days with this antenna and I have to find a way of providing a clear waterproof cover for when its raining (almost every day in the UK) as I am not sure it will survive for to long unprotected in the open.

I will update  on how this antenna performs over the next few months but my initial thoughts are it does what I haven't been able to do so far and that's give me 40 meters.

Check out Tom,s website and take a look for yourself.

I am sure that this antenna is not for everyone but for operators like me who live in a planning restricted area with really small gardens it seems to be a great addition to my shack.

I am really looking forward to a lot of new contacts in the near future with this antenna.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Its a spider time in the house

Yes its really an exciting time here with the tarantulas that we have. Sadly we did have 5 Ts but now we have 4, our B.albopilosum sling (curly) just suddenly stopped, no death curl or nothing just stopped. I have however managed to secure another 2 slings and they will be with me soon.

My P.irminia sun tiger sling has at last shown its pretty little self and is looking cool after its molt, the T is about 1cm now.
 This pic is what she will be like when she is grown up assuming its a female,it will have less  colour and more grey if its a male.Actual picture coming soon.

This T is one defensive beastie and even as a sling it is fast and moves in less than a blink of the eye.


Our Avicularia Avicularia has just molted today (Wed) and is looking all black and shiny in her den, this one has lived on the ground in a cave since we had her. Maybe after this molt she will move up her tank.

This one in the pic is similar but the one I have is much blacker, its a pretty cool spider.

This is the most secretive spider we have along with the sun tiger so its a rear treat to see them both out and about.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Amateur Radio good times.

Using my special callsins of MQ0GYY and also MO0GYY I have made over 200 calls  for these special events using PSK31 and SSB.

Here are the 2 QSL cards that I will be sending to celebrate the recent great events that we have had here in the UK
This is the very first time that I have applied for a NOV on my callsign and it has been a really enjoyable experience.

It has been really surprising how many people really want that special call. In fairness I also really like getting special event contacts and find it a very interesting part of the hobby when I get QSL cards in the post.

What I find exciting about amateur radio is the difference in operating conditions but more importantly the ability for operators to "get out there" often using whatever there conditions allow.

In my case I am either on QRP low power operating portable from my caravan on Dartmoor or Exmoor or I operate in difficult conditions with a Buddipole vertical in my small garden.

The one advantage of the Buddipole is that I can take it down after use and then I have no planning issues.

It is surprising how good the Busddipole is when you get used to using it and its even better now that I have learned to set it up so my Yaesu 450D tunes it with the internal tuner.

In my opinion it is now really worth becoming a member of the RSGB even if its only for sending and receiving QSL cards.

On a few occasions when I have contacted a new country I have only been able to send QSL cards direct, the cost of sending cards through Royal Mail is getting really expensive and really does justify a RSGB membership.

I still have until September 9th to use my Olympic callsign so I had better get back to it.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Psk31 on a rainy day

Not having much luck on the 20mtr band today.

Ham radio today

Well its not going so well today from my home QTH. The signals on the 20mtr band are very poor and so far only 1 PSK31 contact.

Lets keep plugging away for a little longer. The WX here is about 15c and raining , again!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Jubilee over now Olympics

 The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is now past and I was pleased with over 100 contacts on PSK31 and SSB 5w QRP. It was a great few weeks of Amateur radio for me, thanks to all the great operators for some great contacts.


July 2012 will be a new special callsign of MO0GYY which will celebrate the Olympic games and I am really looking forward to some more great contacts from 00.00 BST 21 July 2012 to 23.59 BST 9th September 2012.

I have an Olympic QSL card on order and I am hoping for some new countries and special event callsigns during the Olympic games.

Psalmopoeus irminia , Sun Tiger

Psalmopoeus irminia, Sun Tiger.

 Wow what a great addition to our spider collection, we have been after this little beauty for quite awhile now and its here and settling down nicely.

Its not quite looking like this picture yet as its a sling (spiderling) and is about 1cm in size. 

This is going to be a great tarantula if we can bring it on to an adult.


At the moment the little terror looks like this and seems to be somewhat reversed from its adult form.

Really good looking spider and by its nature its very fast and very defensive.

 Really pleased to have this in our collection and as its a very fast grower we should have a great spider soon.



Sunday, 3 June 2012

Spiders are making themselves at home.

So I only ever planned to get one tarantula, yes one, just to have a unusual pet that would be fairly easy to keep.
Ok so as of today we have 4 well almost 4. My wife has taken to tarantulas with the same enthusiasm as me. We have the B.smithi and a G.rosea we have a recently acquired a Avic Avic which has just molted one day after we bought her.
As to the almost 4, well we recently went to the British Tarantula Society show in the Midlands and as well as getting the Avic Avic the one we went for we also got a spiderling B.albopilosum (curly hair ) which is about 1cm.
These spiders are taking us on an amazing journey of awe and wonder. They conform to nothing and do nothing as routine. They do things that cannot be explained like the eating dance and the single minded purpose of eating its prey is truly great to watch.
I (we) find ourselves enjoying the hobby of keeping tarantulas more than we ever thought we would.
I have to add that unlike a lot of other tarantula keepers we keep all of our spiders in open clear terrariums which are on display. No plastic food tubs for us by choice.
The 3 larger spiders are in Exo Terra 35x35x35 and 35x35x45 for the Avic Avic. The sling is in a small clear tub but it would get lost in anything else.
Most of our information has come from the internet but a lot has come from a great book called the Tarantulas Keepers Guide and informative book and a must have for a new keeper.

Thats it for now for us, no new spiders at least until we move into our new house and who knows when that will be!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Here you can see some of my QSO,s from the South of the UK. My location on the map is the purple square.

Whats interesting about this map in amateur radio terms is that the contacts in USA and Canada and also to Asiatic Russia were made on a Yaesu 817 using only 5 watts of power on a home made vertical antenna on 20mtrs.

These contacts were on SSB (voice) so that makes it  much more special.
Distance was over 3000 miles.

What was also interesting was even though I was on 5 watts my contact in Canada was using 1 KW of power back to me, he gave me a 5/7 report which was awesome over that distance.
These are confirmed contacts which is great.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Brachypelma Smithi update.

Its been a while since I updated but its not through being lazy its through being  busy doing the one thing I hate the most and that's work. I know that we all have to work to pay the bills but I don't have to like it.
 Coming soon will be a live web-cam of my Brachypelma Smithi tarantula it won't be streaming all the time but maybe a few hours on my days off.

There is no point in switching on the camera yet as my "T" is in its 11th day of hiding behind a substrate wall that has completely blocked her cave entrance. I am pretty sure now that a molt is on the way.
Any day soon I am expecting her to charge from her cave much bigger and demanding crickets, or something like that!

The picture here is not her (although she looks the same) I borrowed it off the internet and I promise to give it back. I just needed something to remind me of what my spider looked like.I know I keep referring to my "T" as a she it may be a he as its not big enough to sex yet, although if I can get to the molt I may have a better idea.

So far keeping a tarantula has been great, very exciting and very very interesting, if its a girl she could be with me for 2o years or more and a male 10 years or so. So I guess in the big picture two weeks hiding in her cave is not a problem, watch this space

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ok its here, my Mexican Red Knee tarantula is here in fact its in the very tank that is show here.

The spider arrived on the 12th Jan 2012 and was delivered by post haha yes post how cool is that Mr Postman!

I never saw the spider for the first 10 days it just stayed hidden in its cave, it never ate but I think it came out at night to drink (a little).

Two weeks later my B.Smithi is nicely settled in it has taken and eaten 3 crickets and will not need feeding for another week. When the spider pounced on the cricket , and I don't use that word lightly, it was fast really really fast. Wow this type is supposed to be slow, really?

So every evening the tarantula comes out and sits in the enterance to her cave, its well cool. Its a juvenile spider about 6cm at the moment and over the next few years she will grow into a big bad spider, I hope.

Picture of the scary thing  coming soon.

Monday, 2 January 2012

QSO map and radio info.

Check out my Amateur radio map below to see all of my latest ham radio contacts. Most contacts are QRP/portable but a few are PSK 31 when I get the shack up and running.

My Yaesu 817 with a homemade vertical antenna and connected to a Elecraft T1 tuner makes a pretty good portable set up. In fact I often get great comments from the quality of signal being sent.

Its a great feeling when you break through on a contact with a operator using up to 1kw and you have a 5/8 5/9 copy with them using 5 watts.

For more info on my radio hobby check out my page on and search out my call sign M0GYY (mike zero golf yankee yankee)

The link below will take you to a map showing my latest contacts around the world, it makes for a great visual of how my signal transmits remembering that I am only using 5 watts of power. A single normal house light bulb uses 60 watts of power?   QSO map 

If you are interested in becoming a licenced Amateur radio user check your local area for clubs and groups they are a great starting point to get your licence. If you want to know more contact me and I will point you in the right direction to get you started on this great hobby.