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Tuesday, 7 July 2020

POCSAG from the Jumbospot

I finally got round to setting up an account with the DAPNET, which means my Jumbospot can now transmit POCSAG pager transmissions, I put the NooElec NESDR SMArt on my tablet and on the standardised pager frequency in the Amateur 70cm band and indeed the hotspot is genuinely transmitting.

I hope to try and get hold of a compatible pager and use this to its full potential, because it's retro tech and works well for what it is, and this service being part of the Amateur radio service is perfectly legal to decode, unlike commercial pager systems.

The hotspot is working as follows, when it is idle, the POCSAG transmissions can take place on the worldwide spot frequency of 439.9875MHz (or whatever frequency is set up for paging, though this one is the standard in most of the world), once the hotspot has done this is switches back to the hotspot frequency (in my case I use 438.800 as in the UK bandplan this is set aside for personal hotspots, though your country my differ), while a digital voice transmission is in progress or the hotspot is receiving a digital voice transmission it will not transmit any further POCSAG until the hotspot has returned to its standby state.

If you want to use the DAPNET yourself you need to go onto hampager.de, open a ticket to create an account (you will need to also submit your licence document as proof you are an Amateur radio operator), then you will need to open a ticket to register a transmitter, which will give you the auth code to put into the POCSAG settings on your hotspot, this does work with most Pi-Star based hotspots but not sure about others.

If you have a pager you'll need to obtain a RIC, open another ticket to do this.

I have Josh KI6NAZ from Ham Radio Crash Course to thank for me actually getting registered with DAPNET, one of his previous livestreams featured a pager in it (though the subject was the NanoVNA) and he has a video on the pager subject as well which is what motivated me to finally get on and do it, and though his channel is an American channel I highly recommend you check him out no matter where in the world you are.

there's more to come on this subject so do watch this space

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday, 28 June 2020

The current-model Thunderpole T-800 CB radio's odd country selections

I discovered that the country standard selection in the current model Thunderpole T-800 was a bit obscure, which I alluded to in my last post, the radio is still a good radio it just seems to come with a bizarre set of country standards including one that overlaps in the CW and data parts of the 10-meter band, and transmitting there is going to upset every Amateur and of course the authorities of the country where the transmission originates if this can be determined.

So I put a video up onto the channel showing exactly this and it's also attached below for you to go straight to.


I do like these Thunderpole badged CB radios, the T-2000 is one I hope to get in the future, and I know there are still a lot of the original radio, the T-1000, still out there, if you're a starter the T-800 is the most simple radio you can buy, currently £60 with free delivery from Thunderpole, if you need an antenna and mount then you can get it in a pack for between £85 and £95 depending on what mount and antenna you choose.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Thunderpole T-800 now here

This morning I took delivery, then filmed the unboxing video, of the Thunderpole T-800, the current model in production that uses the same chassis as the PNI Escort HP-8000 series, the only differences between those radios and the T-800 are the T-800 having a better mic, an RF gain control, and a channel 9 position on the switch closest to the display, the PNI Escort HP-8000 series have an adjustable auto-squelch, and a lock position on that switch, otherwise they're identical, except the PNI Escort HP8024 which has the 24V regulator position populated and the HP8001L which has a Kenwood style accessory jack above the volume control.

The radio feels light but well built, and it is supplied as standard on the UK channels, though the banding in the radio does not match the chart in the book.

On the display if the radio shows -U it is the UK+CEPT all in FM, at 4 watts, selectable on the AM/FM switch, if it shows CE it is the CEPT band only, not tested this to be AM/FM yet but will investigate, now here comes the complicated bit,

-d on the display is the EU channels in AM/FM at 4 watts, -P is Polish offset (0 rather than 5 ending), -g is all 80 channels approved for use in Germany, but there are other modes as well and these do not appear to be legal anywhere yet the radio can transmit on them (I have tested this into a dummy load) and will be putting a video out on that in the next few days showing these unusual standards and which ones (pretty much all of them aside from the ones I have mentioned above) that you really must not select and use.

I hope to get an on-air test and a car-to-car test done on this radio too as that is something I've never done before, but in the mean time the video I filmed is available below

73 de M0WNU/26CT730


Saturday, 20 June 2020

Upcoming attractions to the YouTube channel

So the YouTube channel is beginning to prove popular meaning I need to put more content up, so I am planning the next lot of upcoming attractions.

I plan to take a look at the Thunderpole T-800 CB radio (after being told by Ben of channel 'RustySkull Productions' that the RF gain on these sets works in FM now, after seeing videos of them, particularly on 'UK CB Radio Servicing' showing that the RF gain does not work in FM, and pictures on Thunderpole's website clearly showing what is the same board as the PNI Escort HP8000 series (which are actually cheaper radios) which also featured on that channel.  With the T-800 I hope to speak to someone I know who has a car and be willing to help me do a car-to-car test from my home QTH to Wetherby Services on the A1(M)

The next one I hope to do is a look at the PNI Escort HP62, which is effectively a handheld CB with a car kit but no battery box, and it comes with the PNI Extra 48 antenna, which I already have and will look at later on anyway as it is a mobile antenna but would need some adjustment to work on 27/81.

I hope to get on air a bit more as well, though I will miss the annual celebration of legal AM and SSB on CB again this year as I will be working I will use whatever days off I have to get on air from better high ground.

With the COVID-19 situation a lot of rallies were cancelled, the most notable for me was Blackpool which was to feature on the channel (I made up the titlecards for the video well in advance and still have those) however as the situation unfolded I made the decision not to go anyway, however at time of writing as far as I can tell the National Hamfest is still going ahead, with the UK government lowering the threat level of the virus this may make it likely that this event will still go ahead, and of course make it to YouTube (and perhaps I'll be able to meet other radio YouTubers there too and we could cross-promote but time will tell), I will keep a watch on this situation as well.

Hopefully if things work out well for me I may be able to get some HF gear in the shack at last as I still have not got any and would like to get on air and may be able to hide a wire in the nearby trees outside.

I also am hoping to still put on an igate, and add video of me setting this up on YouTube as well though this was something else I had to postpone due to COVID-19 but should soon be able to go out and buy wood to make shelves for my shed to install the equipment on, and though I have a radio to use for it I am yet to get any kind of controller arranged and cannot get an NoV until I know it all works fine on a bench into a dummy load.

There is more to come that I have not planned, I do sometimes add the odd spur of the moment video too as there are sometimes some interesting things on the air too that are worth recording and sharing on YouTube.

Don't forget if you're not already subscribed pop over to the channel and hit the button and ring the bell, I don't have a set frequency, I upload when I can.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday, 8 June 2020

CB radio on my bicycle, an idea inspired by Jez 2E0IQJ of YouTube channel 2j4ez

I had a plan to run a CB radio from my old scooter when I had it, but this did not come to fruition, I have an old 3/8" threaded snail mount but this has no cable fitted, my idea is to drill a hole through the  pannier rack or use a piece of metal as a bracket to fix to the pannier rack, and put a battery into my old scooter top box fixed to the pannier rack as long as the pannier bag itself still fits.

The radio Jez used originally on his pushbike was a CRT One, a standard mobile CB, because I have a set of wireless indicators on my bicycle I cannot do that, and would like something with a little more handsfree availability I would use my Midland 42, however the PNI offering I mentioned in my last post would also do the job for this and would just need to run off a battery which I can remove daily.

Antennas, I have two choices, the orbitor/springer antenna or the dial-a-match antenna, don't think I'll have a lot of luck with the Extra 48 as it's more for the mids than it is for 27/81.

My bicycle is out of action at the moment as one of the pedals needs a new nut, preferably a nyloc type, I suspect it was one of these but the nylon insert has failed, next time I'm in a local hardware store I shall pick some suitable nuts up once I have the nut for the bicycle sized up again and possibly a suitable piece of metal to fit the snail mount to, it may need a groundplane as well but that I will work out when I can.

Whatever radio I use I will need a handsfree kit of sorts, Albrecht did do one aimed at PMR446 for motorcyclists which I modified to run off a handheld CB as for some reason these jam handheld CBs in transmit despite being wired identical, I still have some parts of this, the main loom with modification and the PTT switch, so I could reuse this with an appropriate headset when I reverse engineer the pinout of what appears to be a DIN connector on the main loom, otherwise new headset to buy.

First up though, fix the bike and use it, and thanks Jez for the inspiration.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Handheld CB discussion

I came across a video on UK CB Radio Servicing on YouTube in which Richard G0OJF has a go at servicing a PNI Escort HP62, which as I have worked out is the same radio as the Moonraker Major 42 which also from what I am to believe shares internals with the new "digital squelch" version of the Midland Alan 42, Richard also worked out that the circuit is designed to run off 12 volts rather than 13.8 volts, I wondered if the older Midland 42 Multi, which I own, was OK at that voltage, it is, then I did some digging with my Intek H-520 Plus car kit and concluded that the radio is designed for 9V as it is regulated down in the Intek car kit, whereas the Midland Alan 42 Multi car kit is straight through with no regulation.

The Moonraker variant is the cheapest handheld on the market today, it joins its Midland and PNI cousins on the Moonraker website (they're all fundamentally the same radio), other options out there are the K-Po Panther (which is really a President Randy II and uses a TNC antenna rather than a BNC one and has also been featured on a video by Richard G0OJF), and just recently appeared to market is the TTI TCB-H100 which has a roger bleep and echo facility onboard, as well as a drop-in charger as standard which to my knowledge no handheld marketed previously had one as standard and only the Randy II/K-Po Panther/Lafayette Urano had one as an optional extra, the Intek H-520 and 512 had the contacts for one but one was not made or marketed.

Having owned the Alan 42 Multi for some years (and my XYL liking that radio too) I am keen to see how the Moonraker Major 42 and the PNI Escort HP62 fair, the latter radio is solely the car kit and battery boxes and a BNC antenna are optional, it's also supplied with the Extra 48 antenna of which I already have one, the Moonraker handheld meanwhile comes with at least one battery box and the car adaptor is optional.

Though handheld CBs generally lack in performance due to their compromise antennas, though the longer Albrecht CL27 antennas are available and I have proven that antenna is a good option on YouTube, they can be very handy for communications in a similar manner to PMR446, you have flexibility of all 80 legal channels, I do still advocate their use but to do anything realistic with them a longer antenna is always better, modern ones also don't eat batteries as much as their older counterparts and can be put into low power anyway to save battery power if you don't need a full 4 watts (and some, like the Intek H-520 plus, refuse to even key up at full power when the batteries are at a certain level).

Moonraker do sell 5 PNI CB radio products including the Escort HP62, which I will cover another day, I also hope, finances pending, to be able to take a look at the Major 42 and see how it fairs against a distant cousin by Midland, and also hopefully take a look at some more PNI offerings because they're so affordable it makes sense not to promote these radios to those looking to start out in CB.

Again I hope to discuss this on my YouTube channel though I've not decided if I should do it as a live stream or a regular filmed video, but keep an eye on the channel.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Testing the boomerang antenna with a choke on it and the Zello gateway

I have put up the boomerang antenna for 11-meters today, being only possible to tune it for 27/81 or CEPT, not both, I opted to tune it for 27/81 as I wanted to run the Zello gateway experimentally on channel 11 (27.70125MHz), I filmed both of these for YouTube which will be hopefully going up tomorrow.

My choice of channel 11 may upset the European pirates who use 27.700 for SSTV illegally, given that it is .00125MHz away from UK channel 11, which is an FM only channel and UK stations are legally entitled to use it and any station outside the UK is in fact in breach of the rules in their country, though I am using 4 watts here which is the legal CB limit my transmissions could in fact cause the pirate operators issues during lift conditions if they receive me, or in this case my Zello experiments at a strong signal due to the nature of the 11-meter band during lift conditions.

I will be doing a little range test tonight while at work with my Sirio Hi-Power 4000 and my Thunderpole T-3000 and see what range I can get out of it, pirate SSTV pending of course.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730