Saturday, 21 March 2009

Night into Day,50/50 split at the Autum Equinox

Autumn Equinox - First day of Autumn
Written on March 20, 2009 – 8:44 am | by Abigail Abrahams |
Today brings the first day of autumn to the Southern Hemisphere and there already is a crispness to the Cape Town mornings.

Autumn is a good time to be in this city. The weather is mild, with a few hot days in between.
The leaves on trees start turning yellow and then brown.
For me, Autumn brings my birthday - a good and a bad thing.
Admittedly I am a summer lover though. Autumn brings a reminder that winter is not far away.
So today, March 20th is the Autumnal Equinox - one of 2 equinoxes that we experience during the year. Meaning the centre of the sun spends equal amount of time above and below the horizon, resulting in night and day being roughly of equal length.

From wikipedia (with thanks)

Building a kit boat in stages

The boat is nearly complete now,thats another Didi Mini Transat pile of plys to the right waiting to be built next.
Note,we supply a free CD disc with many building stage pictures on it,this will allow you to see what each stage will look like as you proceed with your build.

We were sharing premises at this time with Errol,of 'S Products',the steel boat construction you can see was one of a number of Dix 38 yachts they built,we later moved out to our own larger premises,where some seven years later we still are today.

The black parts visible on the bulkheads,is black plastic taken from a dustbin liner bag,its a way of ensuring the scraps of 9mm plys used to sandwich the joints when we screw them together can be seperated easily later on.

These bulkheads are just asking to be set up on the building stocks,which was to be stage three,as the floor space was first used to assemble the CNC cut bulheads,which was done on a sheet of 9'x6'x 3/4" (2.76mtr x 1.86mtr x 16mm) chipboard sheeting.

The assembly of the various bulkheads is stage two,its a boat by numbers in some ways?

Making a start,you have to start someplace,so releasing all the bulkheads is a great way to start!

The very first bulkhead being cut from a Didi Mini Transat,given a total of twelve days actual building time, I was then looking a completed hull.

One of the quite usual questions asked by our kit buyers is How Long Will It Take,and Is It Easy,which are questions we can only reply to by saying, it depends on the buyer as much as anything?as you have to put in the hours,the boat will not build itself. Lets start at the beginning,the pictures show me at the start of a Didi Mini Transat build,an order that came in to build a complete boat,at this stage I was unsure of the time scale,as I had never built one before,so in many ways I was a beginner too.To my surprise,stage by stage,spread over a number of weeks, the work went remarkabley well and some twelve (12) (seven hour) actual building days later, I was looking at my first completed hull!This prooved not to be a fluke,as I then built another one,also in twelve days,the Didi 26 hull build that followed took me all of fifteen (15) days.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Didi 38 kit to the South Pacific

Johnston Island!

We sent an entire boat to the island of Johnston Athol,thats in the Pacific Ocean,about 170 miles west of Honolulu,the boat was built in a disused shed,here are a few pictures of the begining of the build process.

Yaesu FRG-7000 all band receiver

Another communications receiver I have owned was the Yaesu FRG-7000,I only sold it when my friend the late Willie Reidel sold me his FRG-7700,the next model up.

some information on the set:

General Coverage Communications Receiver Rating (1-5): HHH (3)
Made In: Japan 1977-1980 Voltages: 100/110/117/200/220/234 VAC
Coverage: 250-29990 kHz Readout: Digital LED 1.
Modes: AM/USB/LSB-CW Selectivity: 6/3 kHz
Circuit: Triple Conversion Physical: 14.3x5x11.5" 16 Lbs.
Features: ¼" Head. Jack, S-Meter, Attenuator, Tone Control, Mute Line, Digital Clock Timer, Carry Handle, ANL, Record Jack, RF Gain, Recorder Activation Jacks, Fine Tuning, Pre-selector, Digital Display On-Off Switch.

David R Hassall ham radio man,call sign WA5DJJ

Davids QSL Card.

One of the ships that Dave served on in the US Navy.
USS RANGER (CVA-61) from January 1963 to October 1965. I was a Electronics Technician First Class and had just completed Electronics Technician "B" School and the factory school on Automatic Carrier Landing System AN/SPN-10. We landed planes on this carrier using that system.


At the Albuquerque Hamfest in August of 2003 David R. Hassall was honored by the New Mexico ARRL Section as the New Mexico Amatuer of the year. I am shown here receiving my award from the ARRL Section Manager Bill Weatherford KM5FT (on the left) and Warren G Morton WS7W Rocky Mountain Division Director (on the right). This was a very great honor for me to receive and it was greatly appreciated.

Roy writing here:
I am not a licenced amateur radio person,my radio operators licence covers marine SSB HF and VHF channels,which is fine for my boat use and does what is required for marine communications but I have always had an all band receiver and great interest in amateur radios and the interesting persons who tend to use them world wide,hence my series of QSL (confirmation of contact) cards to be found on this blog site.

Some months back I was looking for an old work mate,he emigrated to SA too,his name is/was? David Hassall,so searching the web I did indeed find a David Hassall but as it turns out not the one I was looking for.This David signs his return mail back to me '73 David',which in amature radio speak,is a way of signing off,was this David an amateur radio person? So I asked David and he returns my mail saying yes he is and this month will be his fifty years as a ham! quite remarkable.Below is a return mail from David when I asked for his Picture and QSL card for this blog.

David writes:
I have the QSL Card and the Picture and will attach them to this message. Sorry it took so long to get back to you ..
but I just happened to check the Spam filter today and found your message down at the end.

Great on your ham radio adventures. You should have went and done the course. There are so many really neat
things to do besides jabbering away on 20 meters. I do meteor Scatter, Build little Transceivers in Altoid cans..
(you know - those little mint tins).. Now I am playing with Manned expermental Propagation Transmitters on 10.140
Mhz and working other amateur stations on Meteor Scatter. Meteor Scatter is where you bounce your vhf signal
off a falling star. It is wild. Keeps me from getting bored in my old age. Most of my activities are on my webpage.
Link is below.

Anyway ... Have a great week. Hope the qsl card comes out OK. It is a .pdf file... The Picture is a JPG.


David R. Hassall WA5DJJ

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Learn to Live

A thank you card from Hout Bays James House, I am sure you will get a similar thank you from Tony.

Left click this poster to view full size,then print it and post it in your office or sports club.

Old Computers Wanted!

We recently found we had a spare PC,it was just stored in a cupboard,when we thought the local James House here in Hout Bay may take it in and see it put to better use? it needed a Hard drive so our PC expert,Ivan came and fitted a spare one,we then took it to James House and we are told they had seen around four of their PCs crash recently,so ours was really needed.

Question,DO YOU HAVE A SPARE PC LYING AROUND? as I have just met Tony,a visiting yachtsman,he has started a free course for those who need it,he also needs some computers,so what have you got? Dont worry if your not in Cape Town,if you can box it I am sure we can make a plan to collect anywhere in the country?
Phone us on 021 790-3859 if you can not reach Tony on his cell line,its a message and fax line also.


Dix 43 building in ply/epoxy

Left click on this picture to view in amazing full screen size!

Flying Clouds third birthday party,with friends Oscar,Errol,Cheryl,Jean,thats the boats designer Dudley Dix in the grey top and enjoying a Castle beer.

Flying Cloud,sailing on Chapmans Bay.

The boat was moved to the HBYC boat park for final fitting out inside.

Fitting the laminated chine takes longer but its soon done,giving a fair and very strong hull construction.

Work wise,this Dix 43 took me (one man) just six weeks to build the hull,Radius chine construction allows a fast build time due to those large sheets of plys you can see,in a couple of days half the hulls side plating can be fitted.

I am told that the last great depression back in the 1930s,was the start of the kit boat building phase,its hardley stopped all these years and with a very good March month nearly behind us,it seems to be holding true to the idea that when things are tough,its time to do it yourself,which for a similar reason was what I myself did some years back.Wanting a new boat,I costed a set of mouldings to the Shearwater 39 design in GRP,my cost was the actual materials and labour input,plus R5000 mark up to Eric Bongers who then owned the mouldings,the sum I would have to pay was R134,000,which was a lot of money back then (it still is) so I looked in a different direction,I asked Dudley dix for a set of his study plans to his much larger design the Dix 43,then costed basic materials in plys and epoxies to R41,000 only and as they say 'Got the Show On the Road' it was a start in wood/epoxy boat building that still exists for me today,the hidden element is you have to do it yourself,there is nothing wrong with that?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Yaesu FRG-7700 communications receiver

The original sales brochure!

This may be the webs better picture of the Yaesu FRG-7700 receiver and its optional tuner,I will publish the sales brochure to give you all the details soon.

Note,maintainance tip,there should be three (3) AA sized batteries in a tray on the underside of the set,they are for the memory function,I have just checked my own to find that even though they are the Duracell brand,two out of the three have degraded at the ends,no damage has been done but its worth checking yours?

The rather neat tuner,I also installed their memory unit at the same time.

Time (the years) moved on and I bought a used but very solid Yaesu FRG-7700 from a cruising friend (willie) who sold his boat(buccaner) and parts of his equipment,I then went to see Hamrad and for a very reasonable fee purchased an antenna tuner/splitter,this really can boost this sets reception performance,its a separate box that sits on the top of the reciever.
The sales brochure will be scanned and included in this blog in the next day or so,

The Barlow Wadley XCR-30 portable radio

Now very much a collectors item,find one if you can? if you find two,please let me know!

The Barlow Wadley portable solid state radio. A super performance AM and SW radio that utilizes the "Wadley Phase loop system". Manufactured by Barlows Television Company, New Germany, Natal, South Africa.
Page created by John F. Barlow

The Barlow Wadley XCR-30 Receiver - QST Test Jan 1977 (by W1CP)
The Barlow Wadley XCR-30 portable receiver provides frequency coverage from 500 Khz to 30 Mhz. It is powered by six 1.5 volts cells (nine volts overall) which are fitted into a battery case inside the receiver.

The XCR-30 is capable of receiving upper or lower sideband and AM.CW can be received by placing in one of the sideband modes. There is a fine tuning adjustment called an SSB CLARIFIER, two tuning dials are used, one for setting the Mhz range and the other dial provides 1000 Khz coverage with 10 khz dial markings.
It is easy to tune the receiver to within a kilohertz or two of a predetermined frequency with some accuracy. A volume control and a antenna-peaking control are also located on the front panel. Additionally, there is a ZERO SET control which is used for exact frequency setting to compensate for temperature or humidity variations should such adjustement be necessary.

The built-in antenna is of the telescoping whip variety and is approximately 40-inches long, when fully extended. Provisions are made for an external antenna. But the receiver is designed for maximum performance using the whip, I found during my use of the receiver that the whip did a creditable job.
Circuit Details
Fig.1 provides the general information of signal paths. Assume an incoming signal of 13.7 Mhz, with the Mhz dial set at 13 Mhz, the Mhz set oscillator will be at 58.5 Mhz. This, mixed with the incoming 13.7 Mhz signal, produces the first IF of 48.8 Mhz which is amplified and fed to the 3rd balanced mixer. The 58.5 Mhz set oscillator signal is fed to another mixer where it is combined with the output of a harmonic generator. The harmonic generator is based on a 1 Mhz crystal oscillator which produces a signal at 1 Mhz intervals. The only signal appearing in the harmonic filter is the 58.5 Mhz signal and 16th armonic of the harmonic generator. These signals produce the 42.5 Mhz signal which is amplified and fed to the 3rd mixer along with the 44.8 Mhz signal. The resultant signal is a 2.3 Mhz which is fed to the 2 to 3 Mhz interpolation section of the receiver. The Khz dial to 700 will, therefore, tune this section of the receiver to the 2300 Khz signal coming from the 3rd mixer.

The maximum audio power is 400 mW which seems more than adequate even in noisy outdoor environments. There is also a headphone output available.
Selectivity is rated by the manufacturer at 6 Khz for AM and 3 Khz for CW/SSB. I found the selectivity adequate for listening, even on the crowded amateur bands (and the 11 meter CB frequencies).
The receiver is a full fledged communications type, not a toy. I tried the receiver with a separate transmitter and found it would do a noteworthy job.

There are many uses for a portable, general-coverage receiver. I used the receiver to chase down a noisy power-line pole in one instance.
In another, the receiver came in handy for the on-site antenna work to check a grid-dip meter for proper operation and frequency accuracy. Battery power consumption is low - 20 mA with no signal up to 200 mA at full audio. - W1CP

The Wadley Loop and the Yaesu Musen FRG-7 receiver

The Yaesu FRG7 all band reciever.

When first starting out cruising,we decided to have a radio receiver that would receive all bands,meaning normal world wide programs such as the BBC and VOA,plus marine and amature bands also.Checking what was on offer at our local amature radio shop,Hamrad,we found two sets filling the picture,one was a Barlow Wadley,the other was a Yaesu FRG7 both used what was called the Wadley Loop,which was a circuit designed in Durban,South Africa by a Mr Wadley. Local manufacturers,Barlows took up the design and then made their very popular portable radio and named it the Barlow Wadley,many cruising visitors soon snapped those up,due to outstanding performance and the sets small size.

What is a Wadley loop? its an internal circuit designed to give better frequency stability once the set has been tuned,in our case we chose the larger FRG-7 made by Yaesu,we had the space on the boat and the set had the Wadley Loop,so we scored both ways.The FRG-7 is quite bulky,many will not see it as a portable radio set but it is in fact possible to use it as such,it has a side carry handle and if you open the back upyou will see a space for six torch batteries,you will also need a length of wire to act as an antenna but then your recieving!

Icom IC M 700 antenna grounding information

Icom IC M-700 marine SSB Transceiver

Icom AT 120 SSB radio tuner

My Marine SSB Icom IC M-700 uses an Icom 120 ATU (antenna tuner unit) when the tuner came out Icom published a really good five page instruction manual,its so good you can actually understand what they mean,my good friend Justin, has just run my scanned copies of the manual through a program he has,amazing stuff,we can now read it as new text,this is the link,copy and paste it.

please also go to and on the Home Page find and open the new page on radios,many tit-bits in there and lots of usefull frequencies to daily radio nets world wide,with both marine and amature radio bands included.

Frank Wagner,a marine artist of note

Born on Long Island,New York in 1931 Frank was painting at the age of five,wonderfull attention to detail,just check out these fine paintings!

Born on Long Island, New York, in 1931, Frank Wagner has been painting pictures since he was five years old. His formal art training was completed at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and Pratt Institute followed by a European Fellowship Grant for postgraduate work at the Rijksmuseum School in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Like many well-known painters before him, Wagner's career began in commercial illustration. Opportunity was provided to produce a great volume of work that contributed to the development of a very direct style. There's a "presence," an intimacy, that draws his viewers into the atmoshpere of his art.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

March 17th is St Patricks Day

Brewed in my my home city of Liverpool

Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá ’le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig), colloquially St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa AD 385–461), one of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on March 17.

The day is the national holiday of Ireland. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Montserrat. In Canada, Great Britain, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.[1]

It became a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding[2] in the early part of the 17th century, and is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The feast day usually falls during Lent; if it falls on a Friday of Lent (unless it is Good Friday), the obligation to abstain from eating meat can be lifted by the local bishop. The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods. St. Patricks Day is very occasionally affected by this requirement. Thus when March 17 falls during Holy Week, as in 1940 when St. Patrick's Day was observed on April 3 in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, having been observed on 15 March.[3][4]