NAVTEX

Canon 5D update

Before going any further, just a quick update on the repair to my 5D that I carried out in my last blog

Unfortunately, it only lasted about another 200 shots before the mirror became unstuck. So I decided to purchase a new 5D mk III, but before I did I looked in to how much it would cost to get the current one repaired to either then consider selling on or to give to my girlfriend who is just starting out in photography. I decide to search locally, choosing Glasgow as the nearest biggest place to start. Straight away I found a company called A.J. Johnstone & Co. so I gave them a ring to find out the bad news. AJJ

Well, it turns out, all that information I’d previously reported about the cost of repairs was total rubbish. As it’s a known Canon fault the repair is free!! The only cost was for the postage. Well, this was great, no new camera needed. I sent it off the next day by courier adding a note asking to give the sensor a clean; and one of their team rang me the day after that to confirm I’d pay the £38 for the sensor clean plus £10 postage.

Not only did they do the repair and sensor clean, they also replaced the focus screen, updated the firmware and gave the camera a good clean externally. I highly recommend using them if you need to service your camera. The sensor cleaning service is same day with no prior booking required if you’re able to go to their premises. I was without my camera for about 6 days in total, including the postage days.

Their website can be accessed by clicking on the image above.

NAVTEX

With the recent Joint Warrior exercise having taken place here in the UK I thought I’d mention the NAVTEX decoder I use for getting information on where some of the action may be taking place. Why use NAVTEX? Well the Royal Navy, in conjunction with the Queens Harbour Master (Clyde), produce a twice daily warning on Submarine activity off the west coast of Scotland. This is due to a fatal incident in 1990 involving a fishing boat trawler and a dived submarine which unfortunately got snagged up in the trailing net. SUBFACTS, as it is called, is broadcast twice daily on the NAVTEX frequency of 518kHz at 0620 and 1820 UTC and it gives the approximate location of any submarines that are operating within the next 24 hour period. Also included in the broadcast is information on any live firing that is taking place in the danger areas on the coasts and at sea off western Scotland – this is known as GUNFACTS. Further information can be found here

Anyway, back to the software I’ve been using recently. This is the Frisnit NAVTEX Decoder created by Mark Longstaff-Tyrrell and it’s totally free. Not only does it decode NAVTEX messages, if you register the decoder (still free) it means you can upload your receptions to the frisnit server giving them access to anyone. The main aim of this is to provide people at sea with the ability to check NAVTEX messages without the need of having an actual decoder on board. As long as you have access to the internet you can access any uploaded messages. And you don’t need to upload messages yourself either, the messages are freely available to anyone, even if you don’t have the software yourself.

A SUBFACTS message as decoded with frisnit NAVTEX

A SUBFACTS message as decoded with frisnit NAVTEX

As you can see from the image above, as well as a raw data view, there’s also a messages view. All the completed messages are stored on your hard-drive giving you the ability to go back through all the messages you have received.

As well as using NAVTEX for getting the submarine information, it’s also a very useful tool for getting accurate weather forecasts, especially if you live right on the coast as I do, and doubly especially if there’s storms brewing out over the Atlantic.

There’s other features available on the frisnit website, so if you’re interested in NAVTEX take a look, and even try the software. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Spectrum Monitor article

tsmcoverI’ve recently had another article published in The Spectrum Monitor. The subject of the article is monitoring the Russian Air Force Strategic Bomber networks on CW and USB. It was good fun to write, but also quite complicated as it’s one of those subjects that can be hard to explain. Anyway, I think it has been received well.

The “magazine” is available as a single edition for $3 or why not subscribe for a year for $24 – that’s $2 a month for around 100 pages of great articles. There isn’t another Radio magazine that can offer such great value, especially here in the UK.

DIY Canon EOS 5D Camera fix

Canon Eos5D(mk1) DIY fix

There I was on a harbour tour of Portsmouth, snapping away at the (large) amount of RN ships docked there at the moment, when my 5D made an awful clunking, grating sound and stopped taking images. Looking through the viewfinder gave me nothing but darkness. After a brief panic, I took the lens off and sitting in it was what looked like the shutter mechanism from the camera. Luckily I also had my 50D with me, so I was able to continue with what I was doing, but as soon as the time became available I took another look at the 5D

As it was, it turned out it wasn’t the full mechanism but just the mirror that had come unstuck, so the thought of huge amounts of money flying on to my credit card stopped as I thought it would be a reasonably cheap fix. I did wonder if the previous weeks wet shoot of HMS Duncan may have been the cause. It had been a wet day, but the camera hadn’t got seriously soaked as I protected it. It was, however, also quite humid, so I think the two weather patterns and the clunking process that shutters have to go through combined to unstick the mirror a little. This final shoot was enough to let the mirror lose it’s grip completely

5D_001

Back home a few days later and I investigated the price of getting the mirror put back on. I was shocked to find that the price for this repair was ridiculous, prices between $250 and $500 were being quoted by people with the same problem in the USA (I couldn’t find a price in the UK). This was crazy, and I seriously thought that at that price I may as well look for another 5D

But then I thought, well I may as well see if a bit of superglue to the back of the mirror will work. So I Googled to see if others had tried this, and they had, and it had worked

So this is this is the process I carried out to make the DIY fix.

1. Obviously, make sure you’re in a clean area, with as little dust as possible

2. On the back of the mirror is a small black piece of thin plastic, take this away. There’s no need to remember or mark what way round it goes as this is obvious by the holes

3. Cut the end off a cotton-bud

Remove the black plastic and cut off the end of a cotton-bud

Remove the black plastic and cut off the end of a cotton-bud

4. Get the superglue and squeeze some out onto a piece of paper, card or plastic – whatever you have available really. DO NOT squeeze superglue directly onto the small pads on the back of the mirror, we all know that superglue has a mind of its own and is hard to control in small amounts

5. Take the cut end of the cotton-bud, scoop up a small amount of glue and dab it onto one of the small pads on the mirror – you don’t need too much. Repeat this for the other three pads, but do it fairly quickly before the glue can dry

6. Return the black plastic to back of the mirror

7. Look at the shutter mechanism of the 5D and note the correct way round the mirror should go by the position of the indents for the pads

8. Gently place the mirror on the shutter mechanism, applying only a small amount of pressure

Mirror fixed back in place. Now let the glue dry followed by a clean

Mirror fixed back in place – now let the glue dry followed by a clean

9. Close up the camera with the lens cap and leave it for a few hours to dry properly

10. After a few hours, test to make sure the camera works correctly and the mirror stays in place

11. Give the mirror a clean as its bound to have some fingerprints on it

This took me about 5 minutes, and cost the price of one cotton bud and a tube of superglue – both of which I had already

Cross Country Wireless HF/VHF/UHF Multicoupler

With the total rebuild of the radio-shack looming I’d been investigating on a Multicoupler for my VHF/UHF radios. My homebuilt antenna connected to my Bearcat UBC-800XLT is far better than the bought Vertical Antenna that is connected to my Icom IC-R8500 so I wanted to remove the vertical antenna (using the co-ax for a homebuilt AIS antenna I’ve been testing in a different location) and use the Bearcat antenna on multiple radios

I’d found a few Multicouplers that suited, but after a discussion on MilCom about different ones, and a recommendation on one of my choices, I decided to go for the Cross Country Wireless HF/VHF/UHF Multicoupler multicoupler

I wasn’t the only one as I know at least one other member of MilCom made the same choice

There was a slight delay in delivery as Chris, the owner of CCW, was away on holiday. But as the units are made to order this wasn’t a problem to me at all

When the Multicoupler arrived I put it to use immediately and was very pleased with the results. It does have to be powered by a 12V adaptor and I had one of these spare, it can go down to 7V I believe, but either way power is required or you’ll get nothing. I ran the Multicoupler with the two radios, and even added my UBC-3500XLT to it too, with no loss at all. Very happy indeed.

However, a problem did arise. For some reason, reception would drop off over time. A quick chat with Chris bought about the probability that it was the power unit as he tests everything before sending out. Using another power supply the problem was fixed – initially. After a few days the same happened again, with great reception at first but then a drop. The power supplies I used were of the same make, so I queried it with Chris and he told me of a supply they have available that doesn’t seem to have any problems at all. So I purchased this too, and a few days later it arrived

Since then I’ve had no problems at all, and I am very pleased with it. I have only used it for VHF/UHF, not HF, so I can’t give any critique on its performance in this area

Temporary placement of the Multicoupler for testing

Temporary placement of the Multicoupler for testing

The HF/VHF/UHF Multicoupler is priced at £119.95 plus shipping (£8 in the UK I believe)
The 12V power supply is £20 including postage to the UK

Further details and specifications are available on the CCW website