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Crazy Logging on Lingmoor

Crazy Logging

I had one of these when I was a kid (and I’ll bet a few of you had something similar):


Casio FX-720P

…and decided recently to buy one off eBay and have a play. Given the daylight readable screen and ‘proper’ keyboard I wondered if the device could be used for logging. This model has a very limited screen area and no easy connectivity. I found the last model in the range, the FX-850p, solved both these issues:


Casio FX-850P

It also has the advantage of more memory (via an expansion card). The Casio’s use something called ‘MEMO’ which is a shorthand way of creating data for BASIC programs.

If you’ve ever used BASIC of this era the following would be a way to add data to a program:

1000 DATA '1017','G8CPZ/P', 145.575, 59, 59, 'WOTA: LDW-047'

the memo function strips out the DATA part and allows you to enter the information direct:

1017,G8CPZ/P,145.475,59,59,LDW-047,,

and this is what I did for this activation. The serial port is TTL, but with the right connector and a cheap-as-chips TTL to RS232 USB adapter you can pull the information out of the Casio very easily:

SAVE# "COM0:5,N,8,1"

Lingmoor

I approached Lingmoor from a parking spot on the road just to the West of the footpath to Side Pike. The parking location is quite a long pull-in, so it leaves plenty of room for cars to still pass each other


Parking Location


Parking Location


Footpath Signpost


Side Pike

The ascent is quick, 20 minutes and most of the pain is over, you’re then on a much shallower gradient for another 10 minutes before you reach the ridgeline and get views to the East.


Pike of Blisco


Blea Tarn with Wetherlam in the background


Side Pike from the Ridgeline Walk.


Mandatory Lake District Sheep Photo


Blea Tarn


Mountain Goat bus with Tourists


F&F


View towards the Langdales


Windermere in the Distance


Quarry works in Langdale Valley


Harter Fell in the Distance via Wrynose & Hardknott Passes


Bowfell in the Cloud


Building Ruins on Lingmoor


Helicopter

There was a helicopter on the foothills of Wetherlam doing what looked like fell repair support, but talking to @G8CPZ Andy he thought they were taking stone off the fell, not putting it back.


Logging Device in the Wild!

I’m not sure logging on the pocket computer would have been that great in a pile up, so the poor band conditions today were to its’ favour.

Activation

Andy G8CPZ/P was in the log first on 2m nearby on Dow Crag which is a WOTA/HEMA summit. Quickly followed by @G0WPO Neil very close by on Holme Fell G/LD-051 and then when trying to find a clear frequency I stumbled upon M0VPM/P on Skiddaw G/LD-004. My activation proper started on 145.350 and it was great to get both Colin @M1BUU/M in the log and M7MCG/O on Weets Hill (not far from Pendle Hill). I thought G7XSR was a good distance to Leeds on 2m, but @M6BLV John was the furthest contact at 129km.

20m ssb was fairly poor and there wasn’t what I’d call a pileup so much as a steady trickle. @DL1CR Christoph bless him had to work me twice in order for me to get his summit reference.

After a quick QSO with dedicated chasers Geoff /M @G4WHA and @G0TDM John in Penrith I moved to 40m which was pretty terrible. I heard a UK station talking to a faint station that turned out to be Euan MM0VIK/MM from the Shetland Islands back from his sailing adventure to the Adriatic, Island Hopping. I couldn’t get his exact location because his signal was just above the noise. No other contacts on 40m.

Braving CW I decided to give 30m a try, but the underslung Palm Pico Paddles are probably in need of a little TLC, I found them a bit ‘sticky’. It might be the trauma the cable is subjected to as the rig is pulled in and out of its’ case. Just two stations on CW, then I heard @M0VCM John on 145.575 calling CQ SOTA on G/NP-013 which resulted in a lovely chat and the end of the activation.

Log Post-Processing

There were plenty of folk on the hills and it was a great day to be out playing radio. Transferring the log file was fairly easy once I’d got the comms parameters right and actually it only took me 5 mins in jEdit to remove the commas, add some additional information and then load the file into Fast Log Entry for ADIF generation.

Thanks to all the chasers!

DATE TIME CALLSIGN FREQ MODE RSR RST SOTA-TX SOTA-RX OPERATOR QTH COUNTRY MHL
2021.07.13 10:17 G8CPZ/P 145.475 FM 59 59 G/LD-040 IO84KI
2021.07.13 10:20 G0WPO/P 145.450 FM 59 59 G/LD-040 G/LD-051 IO84LJ
2021.07.13 10:27 M0VPM/P 145.550 FM 58 55 G/LD-040 G/LD-004 IO84KP
2021.07.13 10:33 G7CDA 145.350 FM 58 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 10:36 G1OHH 145.350 FM 59 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 10:37 M1BUU/M 145.350 FM 55 55 G/LD-040 IO84rc
2021.07.13 10:40 G6LKB 145.350 FM 59 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 10:41 M7MCG/P 145.350 FM 59 57 G/LD-040 WEETS HILL
2021.07.13 10:42 G7SXR 145.350 FM 53 55 G/LD-040 LEEDS
2021.07.13 10:45 G4ZRP 145.350 FM 55 55 G/LD-040 BRIAN IO83ki
2021.07.13 10:48 M6BLV 145.350 FM 51 55 G/LD-040 JOHN ELLSMERE IO83mg
2021.07.13 10:49 2E0AGB 145.350 FM 52 51 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 10:50 G0LWU 145.350 FM 59 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 10:54 G6AEK 145.350 FM 59 57 G/LD-040 DAVE KNOTT END
2021.07.13 10:58 EA2ENC 14.310 SSB 55 51 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:00 F4WBN 14.310 SSB 59 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:01 EA5K 14.310 SSB 55 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:02 M7MCG/P 14.310 SSB 59 55 G/LD-040 WEETS HILL
2021.07.13 11:03 OH3GZ 14.310 SSB 57 51 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:04 OE6END 14.310 SSB 53 57 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:05 F5JKK 14.310 SSB 59 53 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:05 EA2DT 14.310 SSB 52 51 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:06 OE6LHG 14.310 SSB 57 41 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:07 SP9AMH 14.310 SSB 54 41 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:10 HB9MKV 14.310 SSB 51 55 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:11 DC8YZ 14.310 SSB 54 55 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:12 DL1CR/P 14.310 SSB 51 41 G/LD-040 DM/NS-163 JO52AB
2021.07.13 11:22 SO1980LL 14.222 SSB 59 59 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:26 G4WHA/M 145.500 FM 51 51 G/LD-040 A66 PENRITH KESWICK IO84mp
2021.07.13 11:27 G0TDM 145.475 FM 51 55 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:33 MM0VIK/MM 7.162 SSB 55 55 G/LD-040 IO89th
2021.07.13 11:52 DL6WT 10.118 CW 559 559 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:55 DK5PD 10.118 CW 559 559 G/LD-040
2021.07.13 11:59 M0VCM/P 145.575 FM 59 59 G/LD-040 G/NP-013 IO84RI


Summit Bits n Bobs


Modified SotaBeams Band Hopper IV, now a V on their 10m compact mast


Helicopter, tracking north possibly to refuel


Pike of Blisco double summit


Blea Tarn - Beach Destination


Plenty of Folk on Lingmoor


F&F


F&F


Passing Plane


Longest 2m QSO


S2S with Neil on Holme Fell


S2S with John on the Calf G/NP-013


Euan MM0VIK/MM Maritime Mobile (position estimated)


S2S with DL1CR/P on DM/NS-163

16 Likes

Absolutely love the vintage tech! Great job on the repurpose of it, and the activation.

1 Like

I think a Wordstar implementation on a CP/M box would be the next step (downwards) with the user needing to type in pure ADIF, with all length descriptors pre-set. No arrow keys for navigation on screen are permitted. Files must be saved directly to 5.25” floppy disks onsite.

3 Likes

All joking apart, having a real keyboard is the deal breaker for using anything other than notepad for logging. I spent my life cursing when trying to enter text on a phone accurately. So you say, use a bluetooth keyboard (for example) but then that doesn’t really work either.

I genuinely think, regardless of the age of the tech, that this is a solution that has some merit, and the conversion to ADIF via FLE is very simple. I considered writing a BASIC program that parsed the data and output a syntactically correct FLE file.

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If I’m honest, I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t take the printer and print a hard copy of your log on the summit.

Well done on the activation and the novel logging. You did better than I did yesterday. I had a real struggle. Great shots too of what looks like a cool little mountain.

7 Likes

Before I found amateur radio I spent a lot of my time with vintage computers. In fact, the reason why I started amateur radio is that Dale MM0INH and I used to run Retrochallenge together, and he kept banging on about how much fun Amateur Radio is. Eventually I looked for a local club and found FARS were running a Foundation Course in a couple of weeks, and obviously have never (really) looked back. This is the first vintage computing device I’ve bought since becoming an M6.

At one point I had an Epson HX-20 with built in printer, but that has poor display, not much better than the original Casio FX-720P. Heavy too.

image
Epson HX-20

The other option I seriously considered was to get a Psion 3A.


Psion 3A

I had one of these for years and to be honest it bettered the Psion 5 in a lot of ways. However, when it comes to weight the Casio’s beat it hands down.

When it comes to repurposing old tech I did at one point consider printing reports via old tech (daisywheel printer) and scanning them back in again, but that seemed a step to far. That’s why your suggestion is silly too :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

HF was a real struggle yesterday, and my ‘bang up to date’ Android phone suffered from Summit Brain with no mobile phone signal. I assumed it was because of the location on the fell, although I was a little surprised I got nothing, then when trying to ring my daughter later found that it had forgotten how to talk data and needed a reboot. So this activation was done with only one spot kindly provided by @G7CDA Douggie for 20m via 2m. I don’t consider asking another operator to spot you on a new band cheating, that’s a novel use of radio in my eyes.

3 Likes

I just don’t get this desire to electronically log on a summit.

At some point you need to type the log in, either to the database direct, or to another program (spreadsheet) or tool that can produce CSV/ADIF etc. for import into the database and your personal logging software. It has to be done once. So why faff about trying to enter it on tablets/phones or this fine piece of vintage tech? Why make it hard? Write it on paper and then later you can go through the ceremony of completing the activation at home. This is where batteries get removed for charging, cables etc. are checked for damage and repaired, cables get neatly rewound if hurriedly put away on the summit, wet items are aired and dried and finally… the log is typed in.

You can then type it in on a decent keyboard with all the software support you want. You have to type it in once, so why not do it on a nice keyboard?

5 Likes

Just a bit of fun Andy. For me it won’t replace paper logging for the most part. Experimenting with different options is our raison d’être isn’t it? I love vintage tech because it is stuck in an era, and the 70s-90s were such a heady time for innovation, but with a massive casualty rate. Nothing like this Casio is now in production.

If it helps I stick an :yum: emoji at the end of each line.

Cheers, Mark.

Hello Mark,
on our first contact your signal disappeared in the noise, the conditions were below average. So I was all the more pleased that we were then able to complete the qso.
I really enjoyed your description. I have never been there and went with you in spirit.
73 Chris

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I agree (digimodes excepted), but surely in this case, it was “just because”. Like the guy who carried a bedstead up Ben Nevis.

Ah! Yes. My own interest is the missing minis / mainframes from when I started becoming aware of computers. So many PDP-11s have been saved, especially the latter ones but most of those late 60s and 70s computers were scrapped. A lot was the makers not wanting the old machines falling into the second user / spares market which would massively undercut sales of new machines.

Then suddenly they were all gone. Very few IBM System 360/370s survived, a few DEC 10s and 20s and things like Prime, UNIVACs and Burroughs machines are long gone. Just a few exotica were saved, like the German guys who had a big collection of NEC, CDC Cybers, Crays etc. that were available online for free for many years. I was unable to give my Data General NOVA1200 away when I moved house. Nobody wanted it or the Hazletine VDU and to the dump it went along with a Creed 444 teletype. Broke my heart but I couldn’t afford to store or move them when relocating :cry: :

I know you can run SIMH on a Pi and emulate these old mainframes and relieve your SOS and TOPS20 days etc. but it’s not the same as knowing there is some behemoth sucking 3 phase power in a back room. Funny that of all the old beasts I’ve used, I’ve no desire to revisit GEORGEIII on an ICL1905 ever again!

I had a Sharp PC-1211 back in 1980s when at university as well as a Nascom II (with 32K RAM card!!!). It was considered something quite special when it came out, well you could write BASIC programs on it though execution speed was a bit poor. My TI59 programmable calculator whumped it for speed but didn’t have an alphanumeric display.

Yup, had one of them. And a few Psion II organisers and a handful of Data Diary things. I still have a Tandy TRS100 that works fine apart from a iffy line in the display that comes and goes. That has one of the best keyboards I’ve ever used on a portable device. A bit big for SOTA logging though.

Thanks for the contact yesterday Mark.
I was following your recent Skiddaw parking and route, so thanks for the parking tip!

My phone was struggling to do anything datawise and the spot request obviously failed to make it hence I sat on the frequency for a bit - I had heard you earlier in contact with @G8CPZ so knew you’d be in action soon.

Skiddaw was busy (as it likely always is) so I stuck to 2m only.

Alan

1 Like

No, I meant the other way around: the yellow helicopter I saw (probably the same one as in your photo) was taking about 3 giant bags of rocks from near the summit of Old Man of Coniston [which I was starting to ascend] to somewhere else, maybe to the Wetherlam location you were watching.

I was taking the old quarry road / Low Water route up OM of C and there were many of the unused full bags next to a recently rebuilt section of the path [new since my 2019 visit]. So, I’m guessing the heli was ferrying them to where they were needed.

P.S. Thanks for the [WOTA] S2S yesterday.

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Well, we now know how Stonehenge was built, with helicopters clearly…

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What’s not well known is that those helicopters used to build Stonehenge in neolithic times had slaves / convicts that turned the rotors. The same principle was used by the Romans who had galley slaves much later. (c.f. Judah Ben-Hur et al.) Of course by the time of the Romans the slave master who beat out the rowing rhythm on the large drums had slowed it right down. The neolithic beat required to get the rotors up to flight speed sounded much like some kind of modern electro-dance track at a minimum of 120 bpm if not faster. As a result flight times before the slaves were tired out were quite short. :rofl:

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That explains certain types of modern dance music, which uses 120 bpm to synchronise the slaves heart beats. Today’s slaves dress up in barbaric outfits to further re-visit the traditional garb. Well, some dress up and some dress down.

I suppose the beat goes up to 150 bpm when Caesar wants to go water skiing…

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They still use this technology in the Chinook, you can hear the beat as they fly over…

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This well explains the typical Bell UH-1D sound.

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Hi Mark,

Thank you for the 2m voice QSO, not a mode that I often use!

I try to go out for a walk, every day, of at least two miles. I’m naturally a larger person and I do enjoy food despite being vegetarian for 30 years. I let myself get to almost 16 Stones a few years ago and I was heading to being 40 years old. I kind of took stock and thought that I had to do something about my weight. I couldn’t afford the fancy rig or sports car so my mid life crisis had to take a different form!

I worked hard and I managed to shift 3+ Stones through my new walking regime. Life changed in a big way by my move to Bentham on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales by I’ve mostly managed to keep the weight off. I’m a little heavier than I’d like but I’m not at crisis point yet!

For my birthday this year I mostly received money, so I put it all together and bought myself a Samsung smart watch. The watch has a GPS built in and also a step counter. I read somewhere that 10,000 steps per day is a reasonable target so that’s what I set the step counter target at. I’ve moved away from my target of 2 miles per day to now doing more than 10,000 steps. It’s easy to keep track of because my watch just does it by itself, resetting at midnight automatically.

I work on Wednesdays as a delivery driver for an organic vegetable farm, I deliver to around 50 houses, which usually results in a step count of 15,000, just for my work shift!

On the other days of the week, I tend to walk from home around the local area.

On the morning of your activation I took a quick look at SOTAwatch before I set off, I saw your alert and also some others, so I thought I’d stick the handheld on charge whilst I did my school runs in the car. After sorting my domestic duties (putting laundry in machine :slight_smile: ) I set off walking up to the ‘Big Stone’.

The Big Stone is literally just that, it’s a big piece of rock, right on the border of North Yorkshire and Lancashire. Legend has it that the ‘Big Stone’ was hurled there in anger by Finn McCool the Irish Giant across the sea.


The Big Stone, Ingleborough, G/NP-005 in the distance.

For purposes the Big Stone serves as a target for a walk from my house and is also a good place to chase SOTA activators from, several SOTA summits are within visual range. Great Coum, G/NP-011 and Calf Top, G/NP-022 are just off to the left of this photo -

I tried to time my arrival at the Big Stone for your alerted time but I was about 20 minutes early. I heard Andy G8CPZ on a WOTA summit but I couldn’t get through the pile up of callers. I thought it was a bit daft to hang about and I reckoned that my FT60 was no match for the base stations and white sticks of usual chasers. Being a CW man, I find chasing on FM frustrating, I know that it’s a fault of my own making but QSOs just seem to take forever!

I started walking back down the road and I heard Andy G8CPZ again but the frequency was a bit quieter. I called Andy and we had a brief QSO, Andy immediately recognising me as the guy who ‘builds stuff in tins’. It was at this point where I keep hearing snippets of M0NOM/P. I chased you up and down 2m as you worked a few people!

I’d almost got home when I thought I’d throw out my call sign, tail ending a QSO. I was surprised when you came back to me! My little mini goal for the day had been achieved. I’m not very confident on voice modes and remember thinking afterwards that I’d talked really quickly, so sorry for that! I’m always conscious of the other chasers wanting a QSO.

Really interesting to learn about the old computer tech and I totally understand why you’d want to do it just for fun. The late George Dobbs, G3RJV was a great advocate for doing at least one pointless thing each day - it’s what makes a hobby a hobby. We do things because we want to or just for fun, not because there is a reason.

73, Colin

7 Likes