Sunday, 17 January 2016


I suffer from cold hands and have to be mindful of exposure to the elements when the temperature starts to tumble. Whilst I can manage to operate CW whilst wearing  gloves (somewhat erratically at times), the issue still often arises where I need to take my gloves off, for a short period of time, during an activation. Even a brief exposure to ice cold wind and rain can leave me virtually incapacitated if I don't take extreme care.

Aside from really good gloves (multiple pairs), in winter,  I always carry hand warmers with me.
These are in the form of disposable packs based on iron oxide, together with my Zippo warmer which runs on lighter fuel.

I found out the hard way, that the expiry date on the disposable pads, is not there just for show.
I have a whole stack of pads I bought from Go Outdoor when they were selling 4 twin packs for £1.
With an expiry date of October 2014, I can confirm that they produce no heat when using them a year after that date!
My Zippo is used mainly to rewarm my hands after packing up my gear, but I like to keep a disposable pad inside each glove during the actual activation.

Shopping around on eBay for a replacement element for the Zippo, I came across small Japanese hand warmers, a pair of which is the same price as a single replacement Zippo element.

For £7 a pair, I thought it would be worth giving them a shot; at worst I'll have two replacement elements for the Zippo (they are the same size).

They arrived in 12 days from Hong Kong and first impressions are very favourable.

The £3.50 hand warmer.

Complete with their own little pouch, I couldn't really fault the quality for the meagre cost.
They're a bit rough around the element housing, but I didn't buy them for their highly machined finish!

Luckily they arrived on a morning of sub zero temperatures, so I put approximately 5 ml of lighter fuel in each, lit them, and placed inside my gloves and went for a walk to the local shop.

Firstly, these get really quite hot. Much warmer than the Zippo, but then again they are using the same heating element and only have about half the surface to heat up. Outside of their pouch they were verging on too hot to touch.

Comparative size

Comparative size
Being small enough to tuck into the palm of my gloves, my hands were impressively toasty by the time I got home. Much superior to the disposable heating pads.

I left them to burn out, which took a shade over 4 hours; 10 or 15 mls of fuel should easily last me an all day trip.

Whilst I've only had the single use so far, initial indications are that these will perform well for me when used inside my winter mitts.
The Zippo needs careful management when in use. If the case gets cold it will extinguish and become impossible to light. I will have to see how these smaller devices perform.

Specifications (approx):
Japanese hand warmer = 31g (inc pouch), 67x46x15 (mm)
Zippo handwarmer = 78g (inc pouch), 100x70x15
Disposable pad = 42g, 85x56x10

Multiple choice!

I bought these from eBay seller delhanway2009, but there are many other sellers selling identical products. Prices change on an almost daily basis. Mine were £3.50 with free delivery.
I'm not endorsing the product or seller, but initial indications are that these will be useful to me during the winter weather.


A further update after some testing.
I filled the both handwarmers with 5 ml of Poundland lighter fuel (other makes are available).
They lasted for 3 hours.
Extrapolating that data, the consumption is ~ 1ml per 36 minutes, or 1.7ml/hour.
A temperature probe inside the pouch revealed the max temperature reached was 65.2ºC

I've now used the warmers a couple of times and am very happy with the performance.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Windows (7) Desktop Embellishments!

With a few idle minutes to hand, I've been sorting out my Windows 7 Desktop.
As an ex sparky, I like to have a ships clock on view denoting the quarter hour SPs!
(It's a good excuse for a brew up).
I've always used the Windows Clock Gadget on the Desktop, and it struck me that I may be able to modify this with different clock faces.

After a bit of fiddling around I've now created a couple of new clocks; a ship's clock and a SOTA clock.

I've created a gadget file to install these on a Windows 7 desktop.
It contains the 4 clock faces above.

If anyone is interested the file can be downloaded here.
Download the file from the above link.
The file is called Radio Clocks.gadget
To download from the link above select the "download icon"

Double click the file to run.
You will be asked whether you would like to install this file.
Answer yes.
This will create a clock on your desktop.
To modify, hover over the clock and click the "wrench" icon.
From here you can select 1 of the 4 clock faces, add a second hand, set the timezone and name the clock.

If you wish to add further clocks, right click on your desktop and select "gadgets"
This will launch the gadgets toolbox:

Double clicking the Radio Clock icon will install another clock instance.
Please note, this has only been checked on Windows 7.
For Windows 10 you need to install a third party installer.
Details here.

The file has been virus and malware checked.
It uses the original code with only cosmetic changes to the clock faces.

I'm currently looking at creating a similar Android app.