Categories
Hobbies And Interests

Andy’s Hobby Blog : Past And Current Interests

Andy’s hobby blog is an insight into my past and current interests. The things that I like to do in my spare time.

When I was a youngster, in the dim and distant past, I was very interested in plastic scale models, you know, the ones from companies like Airfix.

Andy's Hobby Blog - Past And Current Interests

I used to assemble quite a few aircraft and motorbikes. I even painted a few and applied the little decals that came with them. A few were hung a few from my bedroom ceiling and thought they looked great.

Sadly I had a bit of an accident with a wonderful biplane that I’d built.

We went to see my grandmother, one sunny day, by car. I as eager to show her my biplane and she was very impressed. Once she’d seen it, I put it back in my Dad’s car, on the rear parcel shelf.

Later that day, as we were about to go home, I discovered that plastic models and the sun don’t mix. It had melted and the wings were very droopy 🙁

Andy’s Hobby Blog – Radio Controlled Cars

When I got a bit older, I discovered radio controlled electric cars. There was a club where I lived and they used the village hall for racing 12th scale electric cars.

I thought this was fantastic so I started saving my pennies. I saved enough to buy a 2 channel radio control transmitter and receiver.

Someone at the club made me a car chassis out of polycarbonate and I started to buy the rest of the components. Eventually, I built a car and, as a result, could start racing.

It was brilliant fun and I have very fond memories of this wonderful hobby. It was a wonderful interest to have and is a good reminded of the past.

If you’re interest in radio controlled cars them Modelsport could be the place to look.

When I reached my late teens, I discovered real motorbikes and other interests that appeal to a teenager. I forgot all about radio controlled cars..

Current Interests And Hobbies

Fast forward so and my hobbies and interests are very different.

I bought my first computer back in the early 90s and I have to say that they have been a life long hobby. I also discovered amateur radio and have held a transmitting license for around 30 years.

My computer interest led me to start a small business as a computer repair technician so something good came out of a hobby.

I closed that business back in 2020 and am now enjoying early retirement. I have plenty of time on my hands for new hobbies and interests.

One of my new interests is being a hobby blogger and it’s actually a bit different from writing about my pastimes. It refers to someone who writes blog posts for the fun of it and doesn’t want to make a living from it.

Anyway, thanks for reading Andy’s Hobby Blog, I hope you found it a little interesting 🙂

Categories
Salisbury

Start A Small Business In Salisbury : Become Self Employed

My plan was to start a small business in Salisbury back in 2007, and become self employed, after I’d moved here from Southampton.

I’d always had an interest in computers so it was decided that it would be a small repair business in the City.

I got in contact with an organisation called Business Link and had a meeting with one of their new business advisors.

We discussed various options available for new starts and how to register with HMRC for tax purposes as well as advertising options such as a website.

Start a small business in Salisbury - Become Self Employed

Start A Small Business At Home In Salisbury

The best option was to start a small business at home, become self employed, in Salisbury and to see how it would develop.

I had a spare bedroom available could be used as an office and workshop for repairs. It would be a lot cheaper than renting an office space in Salisbury.

As I was going to be a self-employed sole trader, I contacted HMRC and registered for self assessment.

I also registered for a Government Gateway user ID and password so that I could sign into my new HMRC account.

A short time later I received a letter with my Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number that I would need for tax returns.

I didn’t need to become VAT registered as I never expected to earn enough.

I also had to come up with a business name but didn’t want anything fancy.

In the end, I simply used the key words that someone was likely to type into a search engine if they were trying to find the services that I was offering. Salisbury Computer Repairs seemed like a good idea for a business in this City 🙂

Advertising My Small Business

If I wanted to get any customers for my new business then I was going to have to advertise.

Flyers and leaflets seemed like a good idea so I had some printed. A lot of time was spent walking around the streets in my local area, posting flyers. I suspect that many ended up in the rubbish bin.

I also contacted the Salisbury Journal and arranged for a small advert to appear in the trades section of their newspaper each week.

The advert seemed to do the trick and my phone was soon ringing. The phone was now ringing.

A website to be able to advertise my services online was also needed but there was a problem. I didn’t know anything about them or how to create a website.

I did some research online and discovered one of the website builders that I could use to create my own site.

It wasn’t long before I found out that it wasn’t appearing on the first page of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPS).

In the end, I bought a web hosting package, registered a suitable domain name built my own.

I also learned about On-page search engine optimisation and it wasn’t too long before my website was on page one of the results.

As far as I’m concerned, budget for a website if you can and/or use Facebook to advertise.

If you’re not comfortable with creating your own website then look into something like WordPress. This website uses WordPress and it’s very easy to use.

That’s a brief guide to how to start a small business in Salisbury and become self employed. Good luck.

Categories
Salisbury

Computer Repair Technician In Salisbury : Retired

I used to be a computer repair technician in Salisbury but took early retirement back in 2020. I used to deal with many of the common PC faults that people had.

The main ones were usually a computer not starting (booting up) or running slowly. These were often software issues but hardware problems were also responsible.

My small business in Salisbury operated from a workshop at my home in the city but I retired in 2020. I’d always been a bit of a tech enthusiast so the business seemed like a good idea.

The business started back in 2007 when Microsoft Windows XP was the most popular operating system.

MS Vista came along that year but I heard quite a few negative reports about if from customers so never tried it.

We then had Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and then onto 10. Version 11 has been out for a while now but I’ve not installed that on my desktop computer yet. In fact, I don’t think my machine is compatable with that particular operating system.

I used to deal with a range of common PC and laptop faults for customers in Salisbury. Can you guess what the issue was from the photo below?.

Computer Repair Technician - Overheating desktop computer

Yes, it was overheating in a big way and the computer would cut out. Once it had been cleaned, and a new layer of thermal paste was applied, it was working perfectly.

Computer Repair Technician In Salisbury : Common PC Faults

I used to deal with a whole range of common PC faults as a computer repair technician, some of which were easy to deal with while some could be a bit of a headache.

Broken laptop Screens

It’s fairly easy to replace but they can be quite fiddly. The other problem is getting hold of a replacement laptop screen that will fit as they come in many sizes and fitments.

Touchscreens and digitizers are more awkward as they tend to need a hot air gun to take them apart. The screens are held together with a glue and this needs to be warmed up

Overheating PCs

As you can see from the photo, overheating can be a problem in older computers and laptops. It’s due to the dust and fluff buildup in the CPU heatsink and it restricts the flow of air needed to cool it down. Smoking is also a problem as the nicotene also gets drawn in by the cooling fan.

DC jacks (charging sockets)

Sometimes the charging socket will wear and lose its contact with the charging plug. You can often hold the plug at an angle and it will charge but it really needs replacing.

Some laptops have a DC jack that is soldered to the motherboard. These can be fiddly to change even with a decent soldering iron. In other cases, the jack come with a short cable that plugs into the motherboard.. much easier.

Failed hard drives

Hard drives do fail and sometimes you know that they’re heading that way because they’re making a clicking sound.

If you’re lucky, you can recover the important data (photos, documents etc) from them by taking the drive out of the computer or laptop and putting it into a hard drive caddy.

If you can recover the data and transfer it to another hard drive or memory stick then the customer is likely to be happy. I’ve been very fortunate in the past but it’s not always easy.

If you own a computer or laptop, please make sure you backup your documents and photos on a regular basis. You might be very thankful one day

Software Problems

Quite a few of the problems with computers relate to the software. Sometimes if needs a good clear out of temporary files and cookies.. Sometimes a file has become corrupt.

There are so many reasons why a computer won’t start and far more that I have time to write about 🙂

If you can discover the reason then that’s great. Sometimes it’s easier to reinstall 🙂

Many thanks for reading, I hope it was of interest.. I have to say that I enjoyed being a computer repair technician in Salisbury but retirement is also very nice.

Categories
Salisbury

How I Created A Website For My Business In Salisbury

This is the story of how I created a website for my business in Salisbury and how I started to learn about On-page search engine optimisation (SEO).

I wanted a website when I started Salisbury Computer Repairs back in 2007 but I didn’t have a clue. I opted for one of the website builders that I found online and it seemed to do the job at first.

It looked ok but my phone wasn’t ringing and I wasn’t making any money.

It wasn’t long before I found out that it wasn’t appearing on the first page of Google’s results pages. I decided that there’s no point in having a website if no one can find it.

I started to do a lot of research into web design and soon realised what was wrong. That was that website content was the most important factor when it came to ranking well in the search engines. This content need to be written text, not just pretty pictures.

How I created A Website For My Business In Salisbury

I found out that I could look at the source code behind a website as this was what the search engines were seeing.

I decided to look at the code behind the original site that I’d created with the website builder and found that the title tag was ‘Home Page’. <title>Computer Repair Salisbury | Laptop repairs Salisbury</title> would have been so much better.

No wonder my website wasn’t showing up in Google search.

How I created A Website For My Business In Salisbury

After the trouble that I’d had I decided that I was going to create a website for my business in Salisbury. There are things that you need before you can start designing your dream site:

A website hosting package

You’ll need some for of web hosting before you can create your own website as opposed to using a website builder such as Wix or Weebly.

The web hosting package will provide you with web space on a computer server and it’s where your site will ‘live’.

You web host will also be able to provide a lot of other services such as SSL certificates to secure your site.

A Domain Name

You’ll also need a website domain name. The is the website address and typically starts with http://www.

As an example the domain name that I used for my business was ‘http://www.salisburycomputerrepairs.co.uk’.

You will also want to create an email address for your website so that your customers can contact you.

I think that a professional email address that is consistent with your brand has far more credibility.

In my case, I used andy@salisburycomputerrepairs.co.uk although this address is no longer in use.

Website Editor

You’ll need some sort of website editor to create your website. It’s possible to design a simple one with notepad or, better still, notepad++ which is free.

You will need to learn a bit about HTML so that you can create the ‘container’ for your web content and CSS. You can learn about all of these things at W3Schools.com

Upload Your Website With FTP

Once you have created your website, you’ll need to upload this to the web space.

One of the easiest ways to do this is via FTP (File transfer Protocol) and with a small, free program called Filezilla.

Categories
Ham Radio

How I Became A Licensed Radio Ham

A little story about how I became a licensed radio ham and issued with a license to transmit on the amateur radio frequencies.

I became interested in amateur radio back in the early 90s, I’d recently moved house and the chap opposite had a large aerial in his garden. It turned out that he was a CB radio operator and that the aerial was a half wave vertical.

I popped over to see him sometimes and started chatting to people on the radio. It wasn’t long before I’d bought my own CB radio.

How I became A Radio Ham - Andy : G7MJV

One of the chaps that I started speaking with lived close by and invited me round for coffee one day.

He happened to mention that his brother was a licensed radio amateur ( I think he held a G8 callsign) and that some radio hams could use the HF bands (Shortwave) if they’d passed the morse code* test.

This sounded much more interesting than CB and I wondered how I could listen to radio hams in other countries.

Very soon afterwards, I bought myself a Sony world band radio (ICF-SW7600) and started tuning around the HF amateur radio bands.

I’d already found out what the ham frequencies were and that they mostly used single side band, either upper (USB) or lower (LSB)..

Within a short space of time I was listening to 2 American hams on 20 meters 🙂

Some time later I bought a radio scanner from Nevada Communications and discovered the local amateurs on 2M and 70cms. I often used to listen to a semi-local repeater in Portsmouth on 145.775 MHz called GB3PC.

*UK radio amateurs have not had to learn Morse code to obtain their licence since July 2003.

How I Became A licensed Radio Ham and Was Issued with a Callsign

Now that I’d become so interested in ham radio radio, the 2 of us went to evening classes at Southampton Technical College to learn about radio and study for the RAE (Radio Amateurs’ Examination)..

We sat a 2 part exam. Part 1 (Licence conditions and transmitter interference), and Part 2 (Operating procedures, practice and theory).

When we sat our exams, in the early 90s, the RAE was run by the City & Guilds.

Towards the end of the 90s, it was taken over by the RSBG ( Radio Society of Great Britain). They introduced the Foundation, Intermediate and Full radio license.

We both passed the RAE

I’m pleased to say that, after a long wait for the postie, we both passed the RAE first time 🙂

I seem to remember that I had to send off my certificate to Ofcom and wait for a letter.

Within a short space of time, I heard back from them and was allocated a ‘B-class’ callsign. I became G7MJV while my friend was allocated G7MLS. We were now licensed radio hams 🙂

Not long after this, I bought a second hand Alinco DR-112 for the 2 meter band and a Diamond X-300 aerial. I was finally on air and enjoying amateur radio.

I’ve recently started early retirement so this is a great hobby to keep me busy.

That is how I became a licensed radio ham and granted the callsign of G7MJV.

Categories
Ham Radio

G7MJV : Radio Amateur – Salisbury IO91CB

I’m a licensed radio amateur from Salisbury (IO91CB) and hold the callsign of G7MJV. I’ve been licensed for 30 years.

I occasionally use the local 70cms DMR repeater, GB7SP, located at the local Hospital which links to the South West Cluster.

I studied for the RAE at Southampton Technical College back in the early 90s. My license to transmit was issued after passing the exams and sending my application to Ofcom..

G7MJV : Amateur Radio - Salisbury

My first experience of listening to radio amateurs on VHF was when I bought a scanner from Nevada Radio when they were in Munster Rd, Portsmouth.

I regularly listened to the radio activity GB3PC, on 145.775 Mhz, which was located on top of a tower block in the city.

In those days I had quite a good RF path to the local repeaters and could operate quit a few of them including GB3SN at Fourmarks.

I’ve also written a short history of how i became interested in shortwave radio and how I became a licensed radio ham that you might be interested in.

G7MJV – Radio Amateur in Salisbury IO91CB

I’ve just returned to amateur radio after a long break and now have very limited space available for aerials.

The radio that I now have is an Anytone AT-D878UVII Plus that is capable of both analogue and DMR.

The thought of having to get my head around a UK DMR codeplug did put me off to begin with but I seem to have managed.

I bought the radio from Martin Lynch although a did download a Moonraker code plug.

It gave me an idea what was involved in deiting and creating a codeplug. The UK DMR network is huge.

The codeplug that I used was one that I downloaded from the Facebook page for the Bristol 70cms Repeater Group (GB3BS).

One thing to remember about DMR repeaters. If you’re in the habit of keying up without saying anything your digital ID is still transmitted!

Hack Green WebSDR

Despite my lack of HF equipment, and space for aerials, I do like to listen to radio amateurs online. There’s an online receiver called the Hack Green WebSDR which is very useful. It covers the main HF frequencies and is easy to operate.

If you’re interested in becoming a licensed radio amateur then why no search online and see if there is a local club that you can visit and, maybe, join.

Kind regards,

Andy – G7MJV – Salisbury (IO91CB), UK

Categories
Salisbury

Places To Visit In Salisbury : Tourist Attractions

There are some wonderful places to visit in Salisbury including the Cathedral, St Thomas’s Church and Stonehenge as well as many other tourist attractions.

The Rifles Museum and The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum are also very interesting places to visit, you can find them in The Close.

Places to Visit in Salisbury – The Cathedral

Why not visit historic Salisbury Cathedral set in the beautiful surroundings of the Cathedral close. It’s over 750 years old and features the tallest spire of any cathedral in the land at 404 feet. It is the most popular of all of the tourist attractions in Salisbury

You’ll also find that It contains the oldest working medieval clock in the world, made by 1386.

There are guided tours of the Cathedral Tower available and they can be booked online at the Tower tour times and booking page. Salisbury Cathedral is usually open from 09:00 – 17:00 in the summer and 12:00 to 16:00 in the winter.

Places to visit in Salisbury - The Medieval Cathderal - Tourist Attractions

Other popular Attractions in Salisbury for you to enjoy

The Salisbury Museum – The Kings House, 65 The Close. Includes the King’s House Cafe.

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum – The Wardrobe, 58 The Close.

Mompesson House – The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EL. 

Arundells – The former home of Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.

St Thomas’s Church is located in St Thomas’s square and is just a few hunderd yards away from the Cathedral Close.

The Church is home to the famous Doom Painting as well as 3 medieval wall paintings in the Lady Chapel, information about these can be found on the website.

Interesting Tourist attractions outside of the City

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in South Wiltshire, about 2 miles west of Amesbury and 8 miles north of Salisbury. There is a visitor centre on site and it’s well worth a visit if you want to know more about the history of Stonehenge.

Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years.

I believe that it’s also one of the locations for the filming of Pride And Prejudice.

The House is generally open during the summer from 11.30am – 5pm although it’s best to refer to their website. The grounds are open for most of the year.

Located on a hilltop north of Salisbury, Old Sarum is the site of the original city. The Bishop relocated Salisbury Cathedral to its current location in 1219.

Most of the site is free to enter, although there is a charge to enter the Inner Bailey. 

As you can see, we have a wonderful range of places to visit in Salisbury and should keep everyone happy. The City is also a popular destination for those considering retirement.

I hope you enjoy the City and all of its wonderful tourist attractions, it’s well worth a visit.

Categories
Salisbury

Cherry Orchard Lane Salisbury : Unsuitable For HGVs

Cherry Orchard Lane Salisbury (SP2) is a popular route from Wilton Road (A36) to Lower Road and Churchfields Industrial Estate. But, it is unsuitable for HGVs and high sided lorries because of a low bridge.

The twin railway bridges ( BAE2 E4/241 and SAL E29/75) have height limit of just 10′-3″ (3.12 Meters) and even luton vans hit it from time to time. Looking at the marks on the underside of the bridge, it’s been hit quite a few times in the past.

Aside from that, it’s a is a nice little residential street. From the bridge, up towards Wilton Road, there’s a nice row of houses on the left and some flats on the right.

The road was resurfaced in 2021 as it was in pretty poor condition with a series of potholes. They did a great job but I can’t work out why they didn’t resurface under the bridges. Was it because their machines wouldn’t fit?

Old Railway Engine Sheds : Cherry Orchard Lane Salisbury

As you walk under the low railway bridge, towards Lower Road, you’ll see a lovely area full of trees on the left. This is where the old railway engine sheds were.

The was talk about redeveloping this site for extra parking at the Salisbury Railway Station at one stage but I believe there are concerns about contaminated land.

At the moment, it’s a beautiful area and is almost like a little nature reserve in Salisbury. I know that there are foxes and Muntjac deer over there because I’ve seen them.

Hedley Davis Court

Hedley Davis Court is also located off of Cherry Orchard Lane, Salisbury and is a small retirement housing complex for the over 55s operated by Housing 21. It’s a popular housing comples for people starting early retirement in Salisbury.

The entrance also leads to a collection of houses at Syringa Court. It’s generally very quiet aside from the trains that have to sound their horns as they approach the Gramshaw Road pedestrian level crossing, which leads to Lower Road in Lower Bemerton.

HGVs using Cherry Orchard Lane

We get HGVs and high sided lorries from Churchfields Industrial Estate turning into Cherry Orchard Lane. It happens almost every day and they’re forced to turn around.

It always looks so dangerous when they reverse back into Lower Road, Lower Bemerton. Especially with the impatient car and van drivers overtaking them.

If they don’t reverse into Lower Road then they reverse into Hedley Davis Court.

I sometimes wonder if they’re lost or following a Sat-Nav that’s designed for cars because there’s one of a series of low bridges in Salisbury that causes them to rethink their route.

Categories
Salisbury

Lower Bemerton Salisbury

Lower Bemerton Salisbury is an attractive residential suburb with a village-like feel and has a strong community spirit.

It is also home to the Old Rectory in Lower Road, which is the former home of George Herbert.

Indian novelist and poet, Vikram Seth once visited the Old Rectory and loved it so much that he bought it.

There are also some lovely walks in the area, one of my favourite ones is the Churchfields Riverside walk at the end of Newton Road.

Moving to Lower Bemerton Salisbury

I was lucky enough to move here in 2020 although I’ve lived in Salisbury for 15 years.

I must admit that my chance to move can out of the blue and I only had a short time to make the decision.

Within about a week of two of getting a phone call, I had become a happy Lower Bemerton resident.

The first time I heard a train blowing its horn was a bit of a shock, they sure are loud. It turns out that the Gramshaw Road level crossing is quite near to me.

I’ve since visited the crossing and I’m sure I could hear a loud speaker announcment of an approaching train. Was it all in a dream?

Broken Bridges – Lower Bemerton Salisbury

When I first moved to Lower Bemerton Salisbury, I was keen to explore the area and stumbled across the entrance to Broken Bridges.

I found it nestled between Bridge Cottage and Bridge House and it’s a lovely walk towards Harnham.

It’s like a little nature reserve and I enjoy seeing the Swans and Canada Geese, I’ve also been lucky enough to see a Heron.

Local History

I’ve also been keen to learn about the history of the area and have discovered a useful website belonging to the Bemerton Local History Society.

It also contains a very useful property index with historic details of local houses so there’s plenty to learn.

I’ve spotted a beautiful little Church called St Andrew’s a little way down the road from me. It dates back to the 13th century. and is the final resting place of George Herbert, a priest and poet.

St John’s place, a grade II* listed building, also looks very interesting and is home to some Commonwealth war graves.

Another little snippet of local history is that Mick Fleetwood’s parents once lived in Bridge House.

HGV Problems

The only minor gripe here is the issue of lorry problems in Lower Bemerton but that’s another blog post for you to read.

Categories
Salisbury

Lorry Problems In Lower Bemerton, Salisbury

We have lorry problems in Lower Bemerton caused by lorries coming from Churchfields Ind Est in Salisbury.

They end up driving towards Lower Road or Cherry Orchard Lane where they face either a 7.5 T weight limit, a 10′-3″ low bridge or have to turn around.

There are a few reasons why they end up in Lower Bemerton and one is the lack signage along Churchfields Road.

The only sign that warns drivers of a 7.5 Tonne weight limit in Lower Road is one at the top of Brunel Road.

A lorry reversing and causing problems in Lower Bemerton, Salisbury

The other reasons for lorry problems in Lower Bemerton may be that drivers are using a Sat-Nav designed for a car.

We have quite a few low bridges in Salisbury but car sat-navs show them.

The only other reason that I can think of is that they’re just trying to take a shortcut to get out of Salisbury.

Lorry Problems In Lower Bemerton

When an HGV, high sided lorry goes past the junction of Brunel Road and past the VW showroom it has few options.

If it’s below the 7.5 Tonne limit for Lower Road then it can continue but the road does get tight in places.

The road also becomes narrow at the point between the Old Rectory and St Andrew’s Church.

There is no pavement along this section of road and it’s a route taken by children to School.

There is a road on the right back to Wilton Road (A36) called Church Lane but it’s unsuitable for HGVs.

I drove past recently and it’s a 7.5 Tonne limit and there is a sign to say ‘No Articulated Vehicles

Cherry Orchard Lane

If the driver respects the weight limit then they will probably turn right into Cherry Orchard Lane with its 10′-3″ low bridge.

The lorry driver now has a problem, do they reverse back the way they came, across Lower Road?.

They can do so but there is probably other traffic around them which makes this manouvre a bit dangerous.

The driver’s other option is to reverse into Hedley Davis Court which is a narrow residential road.