All Blogs

Michael Watterson's picture

Irish Amateur Radio Exam

Why is the pass rate so low?

Partly to blame are stupid questions in the regulations section that are really nothing to do with Regulations, like foreign call signs?

Lack of preparation?

The pass rate in South Africa is 70% Many places in UK it's 100%.

I'm against "dumbing" down. But I'm also against poorly designed exams or poor preparation.


Michael Watterson's picture

FM Radio to Stay. Who ever said it was going away?

RTE has started DAB for new Digital Only Radio in Ireland. DAB stations will all also be be on Saorview and Saorsat. We are having an ASO in 2012 (analogue Switch Off).

But FM-VHF is not going away...<

Britain and parts of Europe are planning to switch off their analogue signal in favour of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), sparking fears that the same would happen here.

Standard radios can't pick up the digital signal, which would make them, and millions of car radios, obsolete.

Michael Watterson's picture

Irish Digital TV Announced

RTE executives met with the Oireachtas Committee for Communications  14-07-2010.

(see this word doc<)

The Irish Terrestrial Digital Television (i.e. via an aerial), called Saorview will launch 31st October 2010. In Spring/Summer 2011 the plan is to add Saorsat<, a fill-in and backup Satellite service (i.e. via a dish). Our existing Analogue TV will be turned of by (during, starting end of?) 2012.


Michael Watterson's picture

XP Professional

A Microsoft exec admitted today that about 75% of business computers still run the nine-year-old OS on hardware averaging 4.4 years old, and Computerworld's now reporting Microsoft will extend XP's lifespan through 2020 as a result.

Lots of specialist applications and Niche hardware & Drivers don't work on Vista or Windows 7. While Windows 7 fixes most of the issues of Vista, it's still slower to boot, less compatible, no more secure in reality and needs more RAM than XP.

"Going forward, businesses can continue to purchase new PCs and utilize
end user downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are
ready to use Windows 7," Microsoft Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc blogged<

Extending the downgrade option on Windows 7 means that Microsoft can still claim the Windows 7 sale and feed the operating system into the customer base, while letting customers continue to use the software they like until they're ready to move (if ever).

Michael Watterson's picture

Stereoscopic TV: Marketed as 3D

Good round up review here<

Good clear introduction.but misses some points:
1) While implied, the article doesn't explicitly state that it's not 3D at all. Only Stereoscopic. Like Viewmaster or Victorian novelties.

2) Maybe 20% of people who DO see real 3D, don't get ANY depth illusion from Stereoscopic video.

3) The Active shutter glasses may work for some people with one eye slightly weaker where the passive glasses don't..

4) Prolonged Stereoscopic video viewing will cause headache and eye strain. In reality unlike real life or real 3D displays(there are some not holographic), the image distance is actually always on the screen. The eye unconsciously tries to focus on apparently closer or further objects based on the parallax illusion. This is what causes the headaches or even nausea. The definition of "prolonged" is going to vary per person.   

See also<

I recently tried 3D in Harvey Normans. The glasses are quite heavy.

Michael Watterson's picture

Bits and Pieces

Found this interesting site<< on RF design

Still working on PIC based CATpad, PIC based Admiral system and a 70MHz / 4m Transverter for 145MHz. The 25MHz Crystal to 75MHz -5dBm L.O. to drive ring diode mixer is simple and uses a single BC547 transistor.

Added two new aerials on my rotating 144MHz yagi mast:

Three Yagi Aerials


Don't forget the Forums< 


Michael Watterson's picture

The Fudge of Irish DTT

After 10years the Official public "launch" of Irish DTT is not happening on 31st October 2010 as planned. Due to failure to find a Commercial PayTV operator the  launch this Autumn will be called a Testing phase (soft launch?) and official Launch as a National Service effectively in 2012


The Minister for Communications has told the Dáil that the Digital Terrestrial Television service will be up and running in a testing capacity by October. Eamon Ryan earlier said he had told RTÉ that the full DTT service will be launched on 31 December 2011. Minister Ryan said it would be a tight schedule but that the necessary set-top boxes were ready to go.

Michael Watterson's picture

What connects at the end of an Aerial?<


Michael Watterson, a freelance communications design consultant and board
member of broadband lobby group Ireland Offline, suggests cancelling
your subscription (after the typical minimum contract period of 12
months) and buying a FTA receiver box to use with your existing Sky

"Every town has people and large multiples selling €30
to €200 FTA receivers and Freesat receivers. They work on existing Sky
dish and wiring," he said. "The only reason to go for UPC is if you are
not allowed a dish or don't want one."

Actually the Freesat or Free To Air receiver would be a 2nd setbox for a 2nd room if you cancel Sky. Sky now install Sky+ or SkyHD and this uses two feeds from  four available at the Dish.

Michael Watterson's picture

After 10 years, End of line

There isn't money for content, or electric or feed costs for the payTV muxes. Nor money to roll them out more. There isn't and never was a viable commercial plan for Terrestrial Pay TV in Ireland.

RTE will need every cent just to meet the PSB mux rollout obligations. Maybe in 2014 or so someone can afford them.

Roll out the the PSB MUX asap. Start the launch. Light the blue touch paper<


By Laura Noonan

Saturday May 15 2010

PLANS to launch a new commercial television platform in Ireland<
are in disarray after the final bidder for the multi-million euro
contract bowed out in recent days.

Michael Watterson's picture

UPC rebrands Chorus/NTL and Considers the DTT contract

Hidden in bottom of article on 100Mbps Broadband and UPC re-branding

UPC's owner is also mulling over a contract to roll out the next generation of paid-for TV in Ireland. Liberty Global, along with consortium partner RTE [as EasyTV], was offered the contract for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) last week when talks with a separate consortium collapsed [OneVision]. DTT will become the transmission method for Ireland's four free-to-air channels by 2012 at the latest.

UPC's spokesperson yesterday said the DTT contract was "under consideration".


There is no suggestion that BAI has set any deadlines this time, or in fact has done anything other than the norm of issuing the offer to the next rated tender.
Boxer hoped to launch in Jan 2009 and have 225,000 customers after an "investment" of €165M<
RTE wanted an October 2009 Launch.

There isn't 50K customers for this and why would UPC want to cannibalise its cable market (where the 1st transmitters 100% cover already)?

Michael Watterson's picture

Easy TV awarded Irish Pay DTT licence

April 29th 2010: Easy TV offered Licence for DTT.

It took Government and its Quangos A YEAR to realise that OneVision would never agree contracts.

It was last May that Boxer withdrew (the winning bid).


Either it will launch and go bust or it will not launch.

Will it be 1 week (should be) or 1 year to decide if taking Contract?

"Easy TV"  is a consortium held by RTE and UPC owner Liberty
Global.  However Liberty Global has expended much (Debts?) on Cable Fibre upgrades worldwide and on  Sirius XM  satellite Radio in USA, which is losing money. RTE doesn't have the money to fund the Pay DTT roll out. In present climate (dramatically different from two years ago when the Tender offered) will either have appetite for it?

Links (open in new tabs/windows)

See this comment< on 9th March

Liberty Globa<l, owner of UPC Ireland (who took over NTL and Chorus). A partner in Easy TV

Michael Watterson's picture

White Space Radio

Is Cognitive Radio a fantasy?

There has been a lot of nonsense written and researched, even in Ireland's Universities. Basically the "hidden" transmitter syndrome  (A is transmitting to B, C can't hear A and transmits, wiping out  B's reception) can only be solved by a central database. But how does "C" access it? Who maintains it?

Good article here<

Also you can't make Transmitter Filters, Duplex filters and aerials out of software. No matter how good SDR, any radio is limited by the physical band using parts it is built with.

Michael Watterson's picture

HP buys Palm

HP will buy Palm for 5.70 USD per common stock, which amounts to an
enterprise value of approximately USD 1.2 billion. The deal is expected
to finalise July 31, 2010.

Palm was originally very innovative with their PDAs.  Adopting Windows Mobile for Palm phones was a mistake. The Web OS and new phones were really too late to save palm with the Meteoric rise of Apple iPhone and RIM Blackberry in USA.

There were once some good Compaq and HP PDAs, it will be interesting to see what HP does. The DEC technology didn't fare well as DEC was really bought for the service & support side.

Michael Watterson's picture



Did you know that in  1936, the new 405 line service (377i) was called High Definition?

Since most screens were less than 14", and a 14" 405 line image has about the same resolution as HDTV on a 42" screen, they were correct.

Michael Watterson's picture

This Week ending 24th April 2010

Real TV have approval for their EPG from Ofcom, write to Stations and prepare to launch Satellite setboxes in the shops.

OneVision reaches the end of the Line. Wednesday 21st April was final submission date. The Irish DTT fiasco is over a year now, or 11 years...

Anyone bounce Radio signals off the Eyjafjallajökull Volcanic Ash Cloud?

Arecibo Dish used for EME amateur traffic. SSB was recieved on modest yagi.

Rumours that Apple will buy ARM holdings.

Google Streetview captures all SSIDs, IPs and MAC addresses of WiFi spots (even home users) it passes. A German newspaper calls them a Data Octopus.

This Saturday 24th April 2010 is Marconi Day.


Martello Tower Nr. Howth with Radio Museum