Body Blob (by )

Again issue with doing lots of performance stuff is all the photos of me being fat - they are me doing things and I will myself use them but you know when good photographers still don't manage to make you look good! Well that... I am well aware that I have gained weight what with the miscarriages and just not caring with Dad's and others deaths.

We've been monitoring my weight weekly and everything I've tried results in 12 and a half stone :/ except that time I ate all the crap and I mean all of it from BBQ through to giant ice creams and I went down to 12 and 1/4 stone - the next week was period time complete with swollen painful legs and that was 12 and 3/4 stone but was then back to 12 and 1/2 stone the following week (it took about four days to loose the swollen feet and legs - something I have never before had outside of pregnancy and even then only really Jean's when I had all the blood clot issues).

The nurse for thyroid, diabetes and dietary stuff no longer exists as her role got axed at the drs - and I need to loose weight - I am literally carrying around half a me extra! As I should be 8 stone but the healthiest I've ever been was 10 stone when I was an outdoors pursuits instructor.

It's the mobility that really does me in with the weight or rather the lack of it and I am sick of it. Yesterday the venue we were at had no real food so I bought a chocolate bar but then felt so guilty about it I didn't eat it and instead ended up eating a really late dinner at home where I ate more cheesey type stuff than was sensible as I was REALLY hungry by this point.

I think I need to just follow what I did before with the nurse but am doing more work stuff now and I was so light headed, Passy outy and feeling like I was going to throw up that I just don't see how I can do that and be working at the same time :/

I have gamified my walking with Pokemon go and feel that if I can just shift some weight then my pelvis will improve and I'll be able to loose the crutch and maybe even go back to park runs or something - I have bought a load of medals ready to complete various challenges to help motivate me - they start with walking and ramp up so we shall see!

Please don't suggest the dieting groups like slimming world and weight watchers as they make me want to punch something and keep punching if I am completely honest! They are pretty much my definition of hell and I don't mean the food part of it - it's just a social dynamic thing - I have friends and family they worked really well for but they are not for me.

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Our radio adventures (by )

My last post was about amateur radio in general, but for those of you who are interested, here's a summary of where we're at and where we're heading.

Jean and I did the Foundation Licence course together and passed, so we have UK Foundation licences. That means we can transmit in nearly every amateur frequency allocation, covering the HF, VHF, UHF and microwave bands discussed in my blog post. We're limited to ten watts of output power (details vary slightly in some bands), which is enough to do most things: at that power level you can communicate over intercontinental distances on HF, especially using Morse or data modes. I'd like to progress to the higher levels of licence, not so much for the increased power levels (although those might be handy), but because at Intermediate level you can use transmitters you have built yourself; and at the Full level, you can operate outside of the UK (as that level of licence meets the requirements of international radio law).

What we've done so far:

  • Obtained FM VHF/UHF handhelds - the ubiquitous Baofeng UV-5Rs - and experimented with external accessories for them; we have a magmount antenna on the car and a UV-5R hooked up to the 12v socket in the car and a fist make, as a cheap mobile rig, and various different headsets, antennas, and pouches to find comfy ways to wear the things out and about.
  • I've tinkered with antenna construction; I built a quarter-wavelength vertical with a radials, hinged so it collapses down flat, for the VHF amateur band. It seems to work pretty well.
  • Chatted to each other on the handhelds. We've done some experiments for the sake of it around town, and used them to usefully keep in touch at a couple of outdoor events.
  • I've played with APRS a bit. I didn't explain that in my last blog post: it's a protocol for announcing position and basic status information in digital data packets over the radio, meaning you can track the positions of other stations near you.
  • Chatted to each other on a local repeater, as an experiment. (Repeaters are set up by volunteers on tall masts so they have a good view of a lot of the local area, and re-broadcast your signal for you, so that two people down on the ground amongst buildings and obstructions can still talk to each other).
  • I've joined in some conversations with strangers on the local repeaters, but it's still a bit nerve-wracking doing so!
  • I've done some experiments with building simple HF antennas and hooking them up to a wide-band receiver I already have, and picked up a few signals - but mainly noise at home.

Things we're interested in doing include:

  • Volunteering with the local RAYNET group, to get some practice in doing useful things with short-range comms (VHF and UHF). In particular, we both want to gain experience with radio etiquette and build up confidence.
  • Talking to the International Space Station, which our licences allow - we have all the required equipment apart from a more directional antenna! We'll probably start with relaying digital data from the ISS digipeater as it doesn't rely on an astronaut being around to say hi.
  • Talking to amateur satellites; requires the same equipment as the ISS, but involves talking to other people on the ground. This will be fun because (a) SPACESHIP!!!! and (b) you get to talk to people much further away.
  • Getting onto HF! Our home isn't great for an HF antenna installation, from my experiments, so I'm interested in "portable operation". This looks fun - there are contests such as SOTA based around making contacts from hilltops and mountaintops, or IOTA for making contacts from islands - and I like the flexibility of being able to set up anywhere.
  • Getting a VHF/UHF antenna on the roof at home, with a base station transceiver. I'd like to be able to sit at my desk and monitor the local repeater, for instance, so that Jean can get in touch with me while she's out and about. Access to our chimney is tricky and my desk is in the workshop which is at the other end of the garden to the house (requiring a long cable or an expensive remote-controlled transceiver), so I might need to build a small mast on top of the workshop: the signal might be good enough for the repeater, at least, and making a truss mast out of aluminium would be a fun welding project.
  • Maybe build a "magnetic loop" HF antenna on the workshop roof; those are supposed to get better results in circumstances such as mine. Experiments must be done!
  • We both want to learn Morse; this opens up the ability to make longer-distance contacts with smaller, cheaper, transmitters, and is kinda fun in its own right.

Amateur radio (by )

The radio spectrum is a complicated and varied thing.

Although some people seem to separate "radio" from "microwaves", I tend to lump them together, so I'm going to consider "the radio spectrum" to be the section of the electromagnetic spectrum from the very lowest frequencies we can usefully use (a few Hertz) up to frequencies that we'd start to count as "infrared light" (several terahertz).

Those bounds are based on practicality - for very low frequencies, the antennas required to efficiently transmit become impractically large and the bandwidth available to communicate gets ridiculously low; at very high frequencies, our electronics cannot process the signals and we have to switch to optical methods, which is a whole different ballgame.

I'm going to give you a whirlwind tour of the radio spectrum - but with an agenda: I'm just setting the scene so I can talk to you about amateur radio... Read more »

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