Click here for the Ban PLT website.

Monday 19 December 2011

First post from comms computer

I thought I’d make a post from the comms computer to make sure all is working, but I thought I’d also make a note of something else interesting that I personally have never come across before, my CB radio is powered up and on Channel 19 UK allocation, despite only being connected to a dummy load and SWR meter, some transmissions were received, they were close looking at the signal meter on the rig, leading me to assume a vehicle behind my home was the locale of the transmitting station, I do plan to get an antenna up soon, new year all being well.  This was also a good way to test my home made extension speaker, which sounded pretty good considering :)

That is all for now, but I shall return soon with more


Thursday 15 December 2011

Binatone Action 950 modifications

Note, For information only, I do not recommend or encourage modifying PMR446 radios, you do so at your own risk
One of my own Binatone Action 950s has been put forward as the radio, the other one of the pair will remain unmodified
The victim... or should I say patientThe victim... or should I say patient, working
This is the radio in question, this radio will be modified to include a BNC socket and antenna, a power mod does exist but requires some SMD components as well as a switch or two solder pads bridging, the bridge has been made but the components are not present so the radio is still at 500mW
This is the same radio as above but with the antenna removed ready for a BNC socket to be fitted
Action 950 with BNC socket installed
This is the radio with it’s BNC socket installed, the bottom part of the antenna has been used to accommodate the BNC socket, the BNC socket cannot be soldered directly to the board, a small piece of wire had to be soldered between the centre pin of the BNC socket and the antenna connection on the board, the ground is soldered to a nearby solder pad that connects to ground, for stability the area around the socket will be filled with some epoxy, this should stop it moving about as although the BNC socket is a tight fit, it does move a little so this is recommended
Nagoya NA-771
This is the antenna I intend to fit to the radio, Nagoya NA-771, this antenna is a dual band antenna for the 2 metre and 70cm Amateur radio bands, and as the latter includes the allocation for PMR446 in the US (where PMR446 is not used) this antenna proves somewhat suitable
And here is the final result, the radio now has the new antenna fitted, and seems to work fine and has survived it’s operation Smile
Now to see how good it really is Smile

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Home made extension speaker

Now last night, feeling a little bored, I had a bit of a brainwave, to convert a broken shower radio into an extension speaker.  This involved removing the PCB, FM antenna, and internal wiring, leaving the speaker in the case, the speaker was then rewired to two long lengths of wire, and a spare 3.5mm plug I had lying around, this was then connected to a few of my radios for testing, though I can’t make a proper test until I connect it to a live radio, such as the Moonraker FA5000 CB as that is what it will be used with, given this was made from an old shower radio there is room for some improvements such as a volume control and a mute switch, I’ll post a picture soon


Edit, I now have a photo of the current stage of the speaker

The speaker has been labelled with a model number, to give it a little bit more of a professional look, though the labelling from the radio remains at this time, and the two holes allow for improvements such as a mute switch and possibly a volume control, though the rigs drive the speaker fine

The design of the case allows for the speaker to be mounted to a wall, as shown in the picture, thus freeing up the desk space for more important things

Sunday 3 July 2011

Follow up to PLT post dated 15th March

I thought I’d follow up on the above mentioned post. albeit a week late

A week ago I replaced my DSL modem router as my previous one was starting to fail… badly, so I made a trip to a local branch of a well known UK PC superstore, PC World, purchasing the router was not an issue however on nearby shelves were the horrible radio spectrum destroyers themselves, and quite a few of them, but that was not the worse thing, the worse was to come when I went through the checkout, got home, and unpacked the carrier bag containing the router to find this…

The offending voucher for 15% off Powerline networking

This voucher is blatantly promoting the unfit-for-purpose PLT, in particular at the online gaming community.  If you have one of these vouchers from PC World, please do the radio community a favour and destroy it, please don’t buy the powerline networking equipment, it saves you upsetting your local radio enthusiasts and having Ofcom hassle you to remove the devices, is is really worth the 15% discount, upsetting radio enthusiasts, blocking out broadcast reception, and even disrupting your neighbour’s broadband? I don’t think so

As a radio enthusiast I urge you not to take up this offer and find a wired or wireless alternative

Needless to say I was absolutely fuming with PC World for doing this, in fact had I known about this at the time I’d have given the store manager a link to the Ban-PLT website but I did not know about this voucher until I got home

So please, don’t use this voucher if you have been given one recently, it’s not worth destroying half the radio spectrum and getting a visit from Ofcom because you’ve upset a whole bunch of local radio amateurs or even caused a danger to safety-of-life systems



Sunday 12 June 2011

Midland Base Camp446, the “Swiss army knife” radio

Now I just added a new radio to my motley collection of radios, the Midland Base Camp446, which is a “Swiss army knife” radio, or so I think anyway.  What makes this radio different from most PMR446 radios is that it is equipped with a flashlight, USB charging port, medium wave and VHF broadcast reception, VHF marine band reception, and a dynamo charging system to charge the radio or anything connected to the USB charger port.  It also features an alarm clock and Morse code function to send signals using the flashlight. It comes with both a home charger and car charger, a shoulder strap, and a Midland branded speaker/mic for ease of use, I tested the speaker/mic with my other radios with a 2-pin standard connector, it worked with my Intek MT-5050 but it did NOT work with my Intek H-520 (the transmit was jammed on with the mic connected), the radio features a high and low power setting so as to save on the battery if you are only communicating over a short distance, it is simple to operate, the volume and power control is rotary, which I like in a radio, the tuning/channel change control is a momentary rotary control, turn right to increase channel, left to decrease, a 4 position switch selects the band, a 2 position switch below that selects the battery type, and a 2 position switch below that turns the light on and off, on the right hand side is the dynamo crank, this can be turned clockwise or counter-clockwise to recharge the batteries or phones, MP3 players, iPods, GPS systems, and PDAs that may be connected to the USB socket in the left hand side, the left hand side also features the flashlight, the speaker/mic socket (2-pin), and the charger socket, the rear has the antenna, which folds down, a very large battery box for both the supplied rechargeable battery pack and normal AA sized batteries, all in all a good radio.

Note, For information only, I do not recommend or encourage modifying PMR446 radios, you do so at your own risk
This radio can be modified for increased power output (3 watts), and increased channels (LPD433 on the PMR446 only model), or locked to LPD433 only, or PMR446 only
Inside the unit you need to locate 3 jumpers, these are JS4, JS17, and JS16, the settings are as follows
JS4 JS17 JS16 PMR446 settings LPD433 settings
0 0 0 500mW H/10mW L disabled
0 0 1 3W H/500mW L 3W H/500mW L
0 1 0 500mW H/10mW L 500mW H/10mW L
0 1 1 3W H/500mW L disabled
1 0 0 500mW H/10mW L 10mW
1 0 1 500mW H/10mW L disabled
1 1 0 disabled 10mW
1 1 1 disabled 3W H/500mW L
EDIT: I discovered a service door (it’s an unmarked piece of thin black plastic) in the rechargeable battery pack compartment during a routine security mark, all 3 jumpers, plus a cut 4th jumper were present, the 3 jumpers were closed, in the above diagram, 0 means do NOT cut, 1 means cut, the order is unknown jumper (already cut by Midland), js4, js17, and js16, don’t touch the first jumper.
The picture below shows the location of the jumpers behind the service door
The 4 loops apear to be steel wire, so you may need some very sharp cutters to cut them, to put the radio back how it was just reclose the 3 loops, leaving the left-most one as is

I will make a short video demonstration of this radio in the coming weeks, stay tuned

Sunday 22 May 2011

Sign of things to come?

Yesterday I heard that there was some skip on the CB frequencies, I therefore took my trusty Intek H-520 Plus, switched it on, placed it in my kitchen window and had a flick through, the “muppet” band (also known as CB 27/81 due to the original 1981 type approval) was moderately more active than normal, and there’s hardly any CB users close to me in the first place, on switching to the CEPT band, there were stations coming in from various points on the European mainland, specifically I heard Germany and Holland I believe, if this is the beginning of improvements I may have some good contacts on my big DX day, this will take place during a dry day in the summer months
I took a short video of the possible skip, my H-520 Plus had it’s stock antenna (KA-520) fitted to it
This video will explain what I mean
I’ll leave you with this and you can make your own mind up

Friday 25 March 2011

All set for the DX day… other than needing to choose a day

Now, I made mention in my PMR446 post and the starting post about my DX day later in the year, in the last 48 hours I ordered a replacement handheld CB radio, none other than the Intek H-520 Plus due to it being one of the better handhelds on the market and the fact that I had one previously and it was a good rig (until it landed end on, rendering it transmit only), now I have the replacement handheld I can now proceed to the DX day, I should with no modifications and favourable conditions make some good contacts, the indication of how favourable the conditions are going to be are displayed on the right of this page, though for CB the section 12m-10m is relavent, as CB falls into the 11 metre band

I just now need to find an available day to go out and transmit and see what range I can get from the position I will be at, I don’t expect much further than into the Vale of Mowbray at this time, but even that may be a push if height and conditions aren’t perfect but all shall be revealed on the day when it comes round

That is all for now I shall return soon Smile

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Networking over the mains (PLT), a menace to radio

Now, you may have noticed a banner pop up at the top of the page, what this is about may not be clear to those not familiar with it

This is a link to the website, a site that explains very clearly that PLT devices (made by the likes of Belkin, D-Link, Devolo, and others) cause interference to many radio services, such as broadcast, amateur, marine, aviation, quite possibly emergency services, CB radio, and others.

An example of such a device

These devices have been proven by many radio enthusiasts to wipe out a lot of radio spectrum, in the UK, the regulator, Ofcom, has had many complaints, many remain unresolved, but none of them are gonna sit back and watch Ofcom do nothing and allow these devices to continue to be sold and used, and as such the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) plan to take action

If you are planning on buying a pair of these, then don’t, a WiFi router or proper network cabling can do the same job, if you have a pair of these then the advice is to disconnect them and use the more common WiFi or network cables instead as these will not generate interference.  If you want to find out more about these menacing devices, please click the banner at the top of the page

Thank you for reading

Saturday 5 March 2011

Beginner’s guide to PMR446

I thought I’d begin with this, a beginner’s guide to PMR446
PMR446 is a (normally) short range two-way radio service that is license exempt and used throughout Europe, it is divided up into 8 simplex channels (one channel for communications both ways), and with an option for 38 CTCSS tones and DCS on some radios, though be aware that it may say in the instructions that CTCSS increases privacy, it, in actual fact, keeps out transmissions not sending the same CTCSS tone, the receiver will still receive the signal, you just won’t hear it
The range of PMR446 can be anything up to 6 miles in open areas, more if the conditions are right to a few meters in built up areas, however last weekend I managed 0.31 miles (about 1/2 a kilometer) on a pair of old and cheap PMR446 units in a built up area, I wasn’t expecting even that because these units (Binatone EK1000) are very compact, and have a shorter antenna compared to most PMR446 units on the market, my DX day later in the year will involve the use of a Binatone Action 950 as opposed to the EK1000
PMR446 radios are made to meet the following specifications
Transmit power: 500mW EIRP (Effective Isotropically Radiated Power)*
Antenna: Integral*
Channels: 8*
Form Factor: Hand portable
*= on some units these values can be changed outside of PMR446 parameters, you do so at your own risk, I don’t encourage the modification of radio equipment outside of it’s type approval
PMR446 channel arrangement
Channel Number Frequency
1 446.00625 MHz
2 446.01875 MHz
3 446.03125 MHz
4 446.04375 MHz
5 446.05625 MHz
6 446.06875 MHz
7 446.08125 MHz
8 446.09375 MHz
It should be noted that it is not permitted to use PMR446 equipment in the US as the frequency allocations are used for amateur radio, it should be possible however to use this equipment in the US if you are a licensed amateur
There are gateways on both this band and the 27MHz CB band in operation, these use the Free Radio Network client available from, these are located all across Europe, are not repeaters so therefore are perfectly acceptable to set up, unlike repeaters which are prohibited
I can be found on channel 5 with CTCSS tone 5, though I do scan the band frequently, if you send a call I will reply if I hear you
but for now I’ll be back soon

Friday 4 March 2011

Welcome to my radio blog

Here I will share most, if not all, of my activities on the air on various bands (although at time of writing this is currently limited to CB radio and PMR446) and anything else that may be related to radio communications

Regulars to my personal blog will know that I plan to return to the CB airwaves with a new handle, Red Squirrel, replacing the handle I previously used

I have some plans over the coming months, one of which is very ambitious, I plan to take a PMR446 radio, and a handheld CB radio (with a good few batteries) to do some DX work from a tall building near where I live, I’ll post more on that nearer to the time

Whenever I carry a PMR446 with me it is generally tuned to 5 (446.05625 MHz) with CTCSS 5, though I will scan the whole band from time to time, on CB I generally listen to UK 19 (27.78125 MHz FM), though will, again periodically scan all 80 available channels.

I plan to, sometime later in the year all being well, take the Amateur foundation course which will open up more possibilities in the field of radio communications

More to come