Hello and welcome to my Blog, my name is Chris, a bus driver for First Mendip based in Wells, Somerset. Married to Fiona, we live in Midsomer Norton near Bath, with Harvey the dog and Boots the cat. My main hobby is Amateur Radio and I hold the call sign G4KVI. I am the repeater keeper for GB3UB and MB7UB. I have a fascination for the weather and all things to do with nature and science. I am a biker and currently ride a Honda CBfF600. As a Christian I worship, when shifts allow at St. Nicolas Church in Radstock. These are my observations on my life, both at work and at home.

28 Jan 2013

999 and 112

Seen a lot of posts on Facebook regarding the use of 999 and 112 when calling for emergency assistance. Thought I would publish some information regarding these.

999 or 112 can be used to summon assistance from the three main emergency services, the police, fire brigade and ambulance, or more specialist services such as the coast guard and, in relevant areas, mountain and cave rescue. Calls to 112 or 999 are free. Calls to the European Union and GSM standard emergency number 112 are automatically routed to 999 operators.

First introduced in the London area on 30 June 1937, the UK's 999 number is the world's oldest emergency call service. The system was introduced following a fire on 10 November 1935 in a house on Wimpole Street in which five women were killed. A neighbour had tried to telephone the fire brigade and was so outraged at being held in a queue by the Welbeck telephone exchange that he wrote a letter to the editor of The Times,which prompted a government inquiry.

The initial scheme covered a 12 mile radius around Oxford Circus and the public were advised only to use it in ongoing emergency if "for instance, the man in the flat next to yours is murdering his wife or you have seen a heavily masked cat burglar peering round the stack pipe of the local bank building." The first arrest – for burglary – took place a week later and the scheme was extended to major cities after World War II and then to the whole UK in 1976.

The 9-9-9 format was chosen based on the 'button A' and 'button B' design of pre-payment coin-operated public payphones in wide use (first introduced in 1925) which could be easily modified to allow free use of the 9 digit on the rotary dial in addition to the 0 digit (then used to call the operator), without allowing free use of numbers involving other digits; other combinations of free call 9 and 0 were later used for more purposes, including multiples of 9 (to access exchanges before STD came into use) as a fail-safe for attempted emergency calls, e.g. 9 or 99, reaching at least an operator.

As it happens, the choice of 999 was fortunate for accessibility reasons, compared with e.g. lower numbers: in the dark or in dense smoke, 999 could be dialled by placing a finger one hole away from the dial stop (see the articles on Rotary dial and GPO telephones) and rotating the dial to the full extent three times. This enables all users including the visually impaired to easily dial the emergency number. It is also the case that it is relatively easy for 111, and other low-number sequences, to be dialled accidentally, including when transmission wires making momentary contact produce a pulse similar to dialling (e.g. when overhead cables touch in high winds).

Alternative three-digit numbers for non-emergency calls have also been introduced in recent years. 101 is used for non-urgent calls. Meanwhile, trials of 111 as a number to access health services in the UK for urgent but not life-threatening cases began in 2010.

The introduction of push-button (land line, cordless and mobile) telephones has produced a problem for UK emergency services, due to the ease of same-digit sequences being accidentally keyed, e.g., by objects in the same pocket as a telephone (termed 'pocket dialling') or by children playing with a telephone. This problem is less of a concern with emergency numbers that use two different digits, such as 112 and 911 although on landlines 112 suffers much of the same risk of false generation as the 111 code which was considered and ignored when the original choice of 999 was made.

The pan-European 112 code was introduced in the UK in April 1995 with little publicity. It connects to existing 999 circuits. The GSM standard mandates that the user of a GSM phone can dial 112 without unlocking the keypad, a feature that can save time in emergencies but that also causes some accidental calls. All mobile telephones will make emergency calls with the keypad locked. Originally a valid SIM card was not required to make a 999/112 emergency call in the UK. However, as a result of high numbers of untraceable hoax calls being made, this feature is now blocked by all UK networks. Most UK mobile telephone handsets will dial 999/112 without a SIM inserted (or with a locked/invalid SIM), but the call will not be connected. Following the blocking of SIM-less calls, in 2009 the UK networks introduced emergency call roaming. This allows a user with a valid SIM of a UK network to make emergency calls on any network for which they have coverage.

In the UK all 999 or 112 calls go through to emergency operators of either British Telecom (BT), Cable & Wireless (C&W), Kingston Communications or Global Crossing (RailNet). This depends on which phone network the caller is using. These operators ask the caller which emergency service is required and then connects the caller to the control room of the service requested in the callers geographic region. Virtually all
the emergency service control rooms have access to translators if the caller does not speak English.

Hope this helps to clarify the situation.

19 Jan 2013

Morse Code

As you know, Amateur Radio has been my hobby for over thirty years. It is one of the most varied hobby there is. Until recently my interest has been mainly VHF/UHF voice and APRS. 
I have been fortunate to now be in possession of a Kenwood TS-50 this has rekindled my interest in HF (short wave). On HF one of the modes used is Morse Code. This is one of the most effective ways to communicate especially over difficult radio paths. It has over the last few years been dropped by most professional radio users and the requirement of Morse to obtain a full Amateur Radio licence has also been dropped. I obtained my full 'ticket' when you had to learn Morse at 12 words per minute. However, I have never had a contact on Morse and think I would struggle a bit to obtain any speed. There is now a an increase in using Morse. I came across this very interesting web site. Not sure if it will inspire me to start using the key, we shall see. http://www.themorsecrusade.g5fz.co.uk/

Air Ambulance

As you know I had the misfortune to be a customer of one of local Air Ambulances. I was too ill to fly with them but the care they brought may well have saved my life, or at the very least enabled me to be writing this today. The charity, yes the Air Ambulance is NOT run by the NHS it is run by donations! is looking to upgrade the current one to a more modern purpose built aircraft. So have a look at the link and see if you can help. As I discovered YOU NEVER know when you may be watching one land when it comes for you.


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