Click here for the Ban PLT website.

Saturday 29 December 2012

CB gateway update

The replacement CPU for the CB gateway computer has arrived today, this has since been installed and it appears to perform better and run somewhat cooler than the CPU I removed from the computer.  The next and final job is to install new RAM to that machine which should cure any remaining problems, the FRN client still briefly locks up but this is even less frequent than before.

The antenna dipole centre will not be delivered until after the New Year, also, the RAM will be sourced at this time.

Hopefully this gateway will be fully operational by February at the latest.

Hope to catch you on air soon


73 de 26CT730

Sunday 23 December 2012

The war against PLT - UK ISP TalkTalk “insists” that PLT adaptors are used with, not surprisingly, YouView

I have read on the Ban-PLT website that TalkTalk, one of the major Internet Service Providers in the UK who I have had a personal dislike of for many years, are insisting that customers who get the free YouView IPTV PVR from them use PLT adaptors, this is an unacceptable act.

The insistence only comes if the residential gateway is more than 3 meters away from the television set that the box will be used with a PLT device.  As ICT is one of my specialities, I can safely confirm without any backlash that Ethernet cables will work up to a maximum of 100 metres in one cable run and being twisted pairs means that no interference is generated, they are available in a variety of colours so can blend in with your skirting boards or carpet, or you can run them under the carpet.  Another legal option is to use an Ethernet to WiFi bridge, which can be picked up from Maplin Electronics or any good computer store.

A safer setup will always be the proven Ethernet and WiFi connections, YouView do not seem to have implemented WiFi into their boxes despite the fact that WiFi adaptors can in fact be used with the Linux kernel on loading of the correct drivers.

So, it seems very clear, TalkTalk are doing almost exactly what BT have already done, if you have to use TalkTalk and they offer the YouView service, you can refuse it, but there are far better ISPs out there than TalkTalk and BT.

Also remember, PLT adaptors are technically illegal and are only on sale because of manufacturers flouting the law, in particular those relating to emissions and type approval, which these devices will not, can not, and will never meet, and sadly Ofcom cannot stop them, and it gets worse if you mention it’s causing issues to CB radio because Ofcom don’t really care about CB users anymore since they deregulated CB radio.

Remember, you have a choice, if you WANT to use YouView with TalkTalk use the legal means to connect it up to the Internet, those are WiFi and Ethernet, if and when the engineer, if you opt for a visit, suggests PLT adaptors, make it clear that you do not want them and that they are illegal, the best course of action is to take your custom away from TalkTalk and YouView.  Some may say that radio is a dying hobby, but remember, it isn’t just amateurs and CB operators you are affecting, aircraft, broadcast, emergency services, businesses, remote controls for models, car central locking and alarms, and even WiFi, they ALL need it to function and PLT prevents many, if not all of these, from functioning, hence why it is illegal, and it’s only flouting the law and omitting the tests that reveal this that allows them to market.

Remember, WiFi and Ethernet are safe, legal, and interference free, PLT is none of these, I urge you again to disconnect any PLT devices you have and destroy them or, if you bought them very recently, return them to the store you bought them from for a full refund, you could use the refund to buy ethernet cabling or a WiFi bridge.  Don’t destroy something that even you need to use every day, help fight against it’s destruction.


73 de 26CT730

Saturday 15 December 2012

Gateway computer troubles

I thought I’d post an update on the FRN gateway computers today.

The computer for the CB gateway has recently had a PCI sound card fitted to it as the onboard sound device was a little bit noisier than I’d otherwise had liked, this cured the noise problem but this machine has been struggling somewhat.  The computer has as near as makes no difference 512MB RAM and a cheaper, and very poorly performing, Intel Celeron processor rather than the Pentium 4 of that era which it will accept.  The plan is to install 1GB RAM and a Pentium 4 CPU, this may improve performance somewhat, until then however the power has been disconnected.

When working on the CB gateway computer the PMR446 computer developed a fault all on it’s own, the hard disk decided it would no longer be recognised correclty by the system, the only way to fix this was to install the only spare hard disk I could find, coincidently the exact same make and model of hard disk found in the CB gateway computer.  I also picked up a new sound card for the machine and installed this as the same issue that plagued the CB gateway with the audio plagued the 446 gateway, sure enough it was cured and it now runs perfectly.

I used also used the PMR446 gateway computer to run a none-radio related service however it didn’t work after everything else was reinstalled, so this service was moved over to my webserver where it works fine, and once again the gateway computer is now solely dedicated to handling only the PMR446 gateway.

Hopefully the CB gateway computer will work properly after the CPU and RAM upgrade, while I am in there and have it off the CPU cooler will also be cleaned out as it is full of dust, as it is due a service on the same day, the PMR446 gateway will also be down and will most likely also be cleaned out, which may help it also.

Hopefully these computers can hold a decent uptime after this and thus the gateways be available 98% of the time.


73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Further antenna woes

Today I reinstalled the inverted V antenna into the loft space, sadly, as before, the SWR was 10 or between 10 and infinity, so, in the next few days, I will be testing it outdoors in an open space, weather permitting, to see if the SWR drops at all, if it does I am going to have to find some other way to get this working as I would like, perhaps even enclose it in some plastic tubing and make it into a normal dipole, this would be a better option as my Sirio GPE 27 5/8 wave is a lot larger and more obtrusive compared to this, also this would be lightweight and would mount fine on smaller brackets.  We will see however.

I have until the 6th January to get this going, first the VSWR checks will be done, then if these come back positive then I will look into how to do this as it now appears the loft is a no-no.

Here’s to the best


73 de 26CT730

Monday 3 December 2012

CB gateway update

I thought another update on the CB gateway was in order.

Today I have reinstated the audio feed for the gateway and retested it on the test room on 446Muppets, some bouncing has since started to reoccur, and I suspect because I have the 446 gateway feed on the CB gateway computer as well it is causing problems meaning I’ll have to switch it over to a new computer shortly, the ground loop isolator was also reinstalled.

During tests, a buzz was heard for the most part and I suspected it to be the audio connection, however after connecting my external speaker into the gateway rig and transmitting from the handheld again, it soon transpired it was the handheld CB transmitting in the vicinity of electrical equipment and possibly the fact I have this gateway on a dummy load may also be a contributing factor, this required me out of the room to determine this.

This week I will be finding suitable radials for the antenna, these will be trimmed to the correct size when the antenna is tuned, it will be tuned for use across the band as there may be times I take the gateway off air and put my main CB on air until it becomes possible to install a second antenna, the radials will be made from the stiffest wire possible to obtain which may be of some help.

Hopefully if I have rectified the SWR issues I may be able to get the antenna on the air, but if not then I suspect there may be another issue I have overlooked.

Let’s see what this next week or so will bring.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 2 December 2012

CB antenna update

Now, as you may know from previous reading, I removed the CB antenna from the attic along with the balun, the balun came apart during this however so I have had to reconstruct it.
While reconstructing the balun, I discovered a short within it, this was located near the SO239 which had to be unbolted as a result, braid was then covered with hot melt glue in that general area and this seems to have, for now, cleared the issue with the short, whether this was the reason for the astronomically high SWR of nearly 10 I do not know, what I do know it that the antenna will be receiving new elements, I have a target date of the 6th January 2013 to get the antenna going and thus have the CB gateway working.
The balun was rewound and reinforced with hot melt glue at frequent intervals, this has made the turns of the RG213 used stay tight on the core, it retains the SO239 to facilitate easy removal of the coaxial cable and the antenna, the terminal blocks have also been modified so both radials are connected to the balun closer together, meaning this can also be used for a standard dipole if needs be.

The gateway radio still powers on and is at present connected to a dummy load but there is no audio feed between it’s speaker output and the computer, this will also be dealt with in due course, along with connection of all computers in that corner onto wired ethernet to help with connectivity issues.
I will update this blog in due course on my progress, and will also update the FRN gateway website page.

As they say on CB, 10-10 until we do it again

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 29 November 2012

Research into taking foundation exam.

I am doing research into what I need to do in order to take the exam for the foundation license, the part of this I already know is that I have to do some training at a radio club, sadly both clubs that offer this are not well served by public transport so I’m going to have to find a way around that… somehow.

I have also found a good study aid, a book by the Radio Society of Great Britain called Foundation License Now, they sell this from their own online shop for £4.99 and from what I understand it is a worthwhile investment and should help me pass the exam first time, my intent is to operate on an M6 call until such times as I am happy and comfortable with operating procedures, then progress to the next level, the intermediate, but I’ll go over that nearer the time.

If all goes well I could be operating on the Amateur bands a foundation license holder can operate on soon, and perhaps we could have a QSO at some point after I am licensed, in the mean time I still have CB, PMR446, and the Free Radio Network, though there is so much more out there to use than just a set of channels on 27MHz and 446MHz.

Before I go, it has come to my attention that an Internet troll has somehow bypassed the lockout on this blog and obtained the photographs on it and photoshopped at least one without authorisation, on the belief that Copyright law does not apply to the Internet, sadly as the image has been modified I cannot issue a takedown notice, however I would like to remind everyone that unauthorised use of any of the content of this blog is prohibited, if you want to use photos or content, ask first.

I shall update you on my journey to becoming a licensed amateur radio operator soon


73 de 26CT730

Thursday 22 November 2012

Wouxun KG-UVD1P, a good radio?

Today I took delivery of a Wouxun KG-UVD1P, part of my reasoning for buying this is so that I can use it on the Amateur bands when I pass my Foundation exam, at the moment I can use it to listen to GB3IR, the local repeater in Richmond.
This radio has the majority of features that an Amateur could possibly need, DTMF dialling for use with repeaters and the Free Radio Network if you choose to use such a radio on PMR446 or some other unlicensed service, though that is at your own risk (as some gateways are configured to support DTMF), a 1750Hz tone burst for accessing repeaters, split-frequency operation either in VHF, UHF or VHF+UHF, ideal for repeaters, an A/B button is provided to select one of the two frequencies displayed as master frequency, that frequency would be the transmit frequency. It can also be widebanded from about 118MHz to about 500MHz, possibly 520MHz, though the lower range of this is the civil airband which would be illegal and dangerous to transmit in and the upper range is in the television broadcast band, also illegal to transmit in and there’s no analogue broadcasts up there now in the UK at least.
The radio is supplied with a battery, belt clip, lanyard, SMA antenna, and a drop-in charger with LED to indicate when the battery is charged.  My radio came with a programming cable for the computer (A USB type “Prolific” cable though a serial port cable exists), a speaker microphone, and a headset, the radio microphone wiring is Kenwood wired, if you decide to use this as an FRN gateway radio and needed an interface.
The top of the radio has 3 LEDs, one serves as a torch, a green LED flashes in standby, and come on when a signal is received, a red LED comes on when you transmit, these also indicate activity when the radio is being programmed via computer, you can use the official Wouxun software (which is confusing for the most part) or the easier to use KG-UV Commander.
The manual available online for this radio is in the typical “Engrish” one would expect the Chinese to use, however the manual that came with the radio seemed to be pretty much well written, however under the charger on the label came a notice that wasn’t translated all that brilliantly into English about not dismantling it.
The radio feels solid, yet not heavy so not an issue carrying it around, underneath the battery is a die-cast metal chassis.
The radio has an adjustable transmit power, ideal to save the battery, it can transmit at 1 or 5 watts VHF, or 1 or 4 watts UHF.
The radio has a keypad and an LCD display that shows the frequency you are operating on, the second frequency if in dual mode, or a line of text, usually UVD1 though this can be changed, I changed it to UVD1P because I could.
The radio seems to receive well, with it, unlike with my Steepletone and Omega receivers, which have analogue tuning and seem a little on the drifty side, I have been able to positively identify a second repeater I could use when I get the foundation license, GB3HG, located in the market town of Thirsk, though the Wouxun can hear it, I do not know if it would be able to open it on it’s stock antenna and as I am not licensed I am not able to try it, GB3IR in Richmond I’d have no problems with accessing once licensed, I’ll give them both a shot when I get my foundation license.
I am going to put the radio to the test at some point to see just how well it can receive, if it is good enough it should be able to receive my PMR446 gateway, which transmits at 500mW, from a distance, the furthest I have managed is to just before the B6271 railway bridge in Northallerton, around about the gates to the home waste recycling centre, using an unmodified Intek MT-5050 with the monitor button pressed, though I was on a bus and that did degrade the signal somewhat.
I may write a follow up when I’ve had a chance to fully explore what this radio can actually do.

73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Domain change and an antenna progress update

It has been a while since I posted to this so I thought now would be a good time to post some updates.

Yesterday, without much warning,, who provided the domain for my personal sites including this blog went down without any warning, this resulted in a loss of all these sites, this was repaired this morning by me after I bought another domain and transferred all affected sites to it, so I’m back in business shall we say.

Now, as for the CB antenna, I have had to remove it entirely from the loft, this is because I have had work done to replace my bathroom and kitchen as they were due it, the latter in particular was well overdue, this has delayed the CB gateway even further, though the PMR446 gateway is still available for use, still on channel 6 with CTCSS 20.

Of course with all the work to my kitchen I’ve not been able to get on air, as I’ve not been able to get into the shack and get at the radios or indeed the chargers for the PMR446 radios, though this problem is now largely mitigated now that access to the shack has been restored, this also sees the return of the shackcam.

Now everything should hopefully get back to normal as far as radio is concerned, until next time, hope to hear you on air


73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Antenna woes

Now, today I spent a lot of the day, in between writing a letter to my fiancée and other things, getting the CB antenna up into the loft space above my flat, however I have hit a small issue, it seems difficult to get the antenna into a proper V shape, and so I have preliminary installed it without tying off the ends, this led to a recorded VSWR of approximately 10:1 or just over, which is unacceptable.

In order to ensure the RG213 cable was not the culprit, I put the dummy load onto the end of the cable on the in the loft space, this returned the expected 1:1 VSWR reading and the radio’s full 4 watts is being sent up the cable, which is making me suspect strongly that the antenna system is at fault

I am going to try to reconfigure the antenna into an L shape in the next few days if I cannot get it into the V shape that I desire, that is running the 1/4 wave radiator vertical, and the lower part of the dipole laid across the floor, maybe running parallel with water pipes (though this may not be good either).

I know the antenna system is working on receive, as I monitored UK35 for a little while and the morons that I heard on there a few weeks ago that discussed doing certain acts that would have Ofcom revoking Amateur and broadcasting licenses for if discussed on those bands.

I verifed the VSWR issues with 2 SWR meters, both are consistent in their readings, so if I can find time tomorrow or Friday, I will go back up into the loft and try and retune the antenna, although if my fiancée was here she’d have been able to help or she may have even thought of a good idea.

I shall update this in due course


73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 28 August 2012

One step closer to a working antenna.

Today I went out to a nearby branch of the UK DIY and hardware store B&Q to buy the final parts needed to build the choke balun and a hot-melt glue gun.  If you’re American it’s the British version of The Home Depot, except not related to that company in any way shape or form, but that’s a debate for a different blog and a different time.

I spent the last few hour after arriving home putting the balun together, I now have it completed and almost ready for operation, I enclose a picture of my work below.


I have not stripped the end of the coaxial cable on the top of the balun yet, that will be done before it goes into the loft.  With a bit of luck this should be in service with the antenna tomorrow and the gateway will be tested on it.

If you’re on the Free Radio Network keep an ear out, you know my callsign by now, if you’re coming in to the Free Radio Network via PC, the CB gateway is RMDCBG, though I may change this to be prefixed with 26, owing to it being in England, which is 26 division on the AT division list.

I’ve taken the dummy load and SWR meter off the CB gateway radio, and have these plugged into the Moonraker FA5000 instead, this radio is parked on EU1 in preperation for the tuning tomorrow.

I will report back tomorrow once the antenna is tuned or whether I’ve not been able to get the antenna tuned.


73 de 26CT730

Saturday 18 August 2012

The war against PLT–seeing the destruction caused by BT supplied Comtrend PG902 UPA PLT adaptors

I have had another look on the Ban PLT website, a new video has been added, the video is by a licensed amateur showing what a pair of Comtrend PG902 PLT adaptors, the ones supplied by BT, can do to shortwave.  The results were that effectively the band is wiped out by noise.  Shortwave is part of the HF range 3-30 MHz, which includes some amateur radio bands, the CB allocations, as well as shortwave broadcasting.

Shortwave is still used by many people every day although most domestic radios sold these days lack the shortwave band, although the receivers are still obtainable and still used.

For some people from overseas, shortwave may be the only way they can hear news from their home country, these people may not have access to the internet and may prefer to listen to the radio.

Shortwave listening is a part of the Amateur radio community as well, even for those that are not licensed and thinking about taking the exam to get their foundation license, just because someone has an interest in radio does not mean they wish to transmit, shortwave listening is just as fun as transmitting.

So, do you have a pair of Comtrend PG902 PLT adaptors?
Do you use your Comtrend PG902 PLT adaptors?
Do you know that you are destroying a precious natural resource that people everyday need to use?
IF you answered “yes” to any or all these questions, unplug the adaptors, contact BT straight away, tell them you want an alternative (they HAVE to give you one) to the PLT adaptors, the BT Home Hub is a WiFi router, and most laptops built since 2004 have WiFi built in, but if the WiFi doesn’t work due to congestion, just run some ethernet cables, these can be discreetly run along the skirting boards and under carpets, or if you own the property you can have your home wired to contain ethernet cabling and sockets on the wall where you just plug your computer into, it’s a one-off hassle and causes NO interference to radio services.

You may not think of it as this, but the radio spectrum is a precious natural resource which is why many radio services require a license to use them, why radio equipment must meet certain Interface Requirements, and why all equipment, radio transmitters or not, must be tested to make sure that any RF emissions will not cause harmful interference to legitamate services, tests which all PLT adaptors, not just the Comtrend PG902, are not cabaple of passing, and although many seem to differ on this, they are a type of radio transmitter but they are spectrally unclean, causing unwanted interference.  I compare them to spark-gap transmitters from the early days of radio, which used large amount of spectrum and thus they are now illegal to operate, so it should be the same for PLT.

So, I urge you again, please stop using PLT adaptors if you have not already done so, and bin them, they pollute the radio spectrum, and we all need the radio spectrum every day, don’t take it for granted.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 16 August 2012

Old antenna, new tricks, or I hope so…

I have dug out my wire dipole (made from coaxial cable), this was cut from the coaxial cable, which is currently set aside, in order to attach it to a choke balun, the last small piece of insulation has been removed from the centre of the dipole and both ends attached to a terminal block each,  This will be put into service once the choke balun has been built, and if found to work it will be used as the main antenna, thus saving me money.

I found some scrap twin-and-earth cable in the attic, sadly though a lot of it is still running to the sealed-up conduits so it therefore is not usable, and because it’s in close proximity to cables that are in service there is a risk that I could cut the wrong cable, something I wish to avoid, a cheaper option is to use steel-cored washing line

I have never been able to see how good a performer the wire dipole actually is, though when I had it draped down the side of the building at my previous QTH, it worked relatively well, although it lacked the choke and I was getting feeder radiation, revealed by slight changes in the SWR reading when moving the cable during transmit, the dipole at the time was against a stone wall in a vertical arrangement, in it’s new duties it will be in an inverted v arrangement, the terminal blocks being the connection between the choke and the antenna elements.

Once it’s up and I have managed to get the SWR to an acceptable level across all 80 channels, the gateway will be connected to it and the testing phase can begin. 

I hope to be on the air very soon


73 de 26CT730

Monday 13 August 2012

Another CB gateway update

Late last week the dummy load on the CB gateway radio failed, which caused the SWR to go very high, and for most of the weekend I had to wait and hope the radio wasn’t damaged as a result.  I had ordered a new dummy load and a combined power and SWR meter to reveal any issues, as a visual inspection of the transistors proved inconclusive and I had no other way of testing the radio.  Upon reconnecting the radio back to the power and connecting the new dummy load and meter to it this morning, the output was measured at 4 watts, meaning that no damage had been done to the radio.  I used the radio’s supplied microphone to transmit rather than the gateway computer as I felt it more convenient to do so despite the computer still being connected to the microphone socket.

This means I need not replace the radio and can safely progress to the next stage, the antenna building, although the built antenna will be tuned to work from 26.965 – 27.99125MHz rather than specifically for 27.94125MHz, that antenna will come later on.

More updates to follow.


73 de 26CT730

Thursday 2 August 2012

Another gateway update

The CB gateway radio arrived yesterday morning, and using the spare few hours I had before I went out I removed the shelf from the cabinet where the main CB is fitted, and installed the bracket for this radio.

The radio is connected to the existing power supply, with a 12 volt fan glued to the underside directly over the speaker grille, the speaker having been removed from the radio.  This was because the original fan, despite it’s small, and slimline, profile, did not fit inside the radio due to the location of a transformer directly under the speaker.  The fan draws it’s power from the same power supply, rated at 12 volts, 7 amps, more than enough for a CB transmitting at 4 watts and a computer fan that is rated well under 1 amp current draw.

The radio has it’s auto squelch enabled while it is on the dummy load, and the keys are locked (except for the 9/19 key which, owing to the use of those two specific channels in most CB bandplans. makes some kind of sense.  The volume and squelch controls are two switched potentiometers so are not electronically locked and can be changed.

Transmitted audio appears to be good, though I’ve so far only had my trusty Intek H-520 Plus to hear it on though I did connect my extension speaker to the handheld knowing that it would provide better quality audio than the speaker that is in the handheld, received audio I cannot get a good answer on just yet, though the parrot output in the test room on 446 Muppets showed promise.

The last stage is to install an antenna, this will allow me to take the gateway off the dummy load and put it on air, though, to begin with, I may set it up as a shared system, alternate weeks, one with my gateway on the antenna and one with my home CB on the antenna, until a second antenna, tuned to be resonant only at, or close to, the gateway’s frequency, will be installed.  Once an antenna is installed, on air tests can be carried out (the gateway will have the testing announcements added during the on air testing phase).  The antenna will be tuned on my main CB as this is what it will spend most of it’s time being used on once the gateway has it’s own antenna.

The estimated completion date will be sometime after the Olympics.

More updates will follow


73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 31 July 2012

CB gateway update

I placed the order for the CB gateway radio this morning, and it should be here by the end of the week at which time testing and audio calibration (into a dummy load) will begin.

The radio is the TTI TCB-550, a very basic radio with a small profile.  This will be bolted next to my current home CB radio, the autokey unit is located under the desk and already plugged into the computer.

The radio will need some form of cooling as it will spend most of it’s time in transmit when it is in service, and have decided on a fan which will be on when the gateway radio’s power supply is on (it will be connected to the same power supply), I have found a suitable fan which will be installed in place of the speaker.  The speaker, unusually is fitted to the board inside these radios with a plug/socket arrangement as opposed to the normal soldered-on connection, though if the current run of TCB-550s has had this changed I will probably desolder at the speaker and insulate the wires.

As soon as I have the radio and can test it, I will update this and the gateway website, this is at


73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Construction of the CB gateway now in progress

I am now in the process of putting together my CB gateway for the Free Radio network, I have most of the components for the autokey device and am preparing to get that ready to be built, the computer for this gateway has been repurposed for it, and the radio will be ordered in about 2 weeks time.  Once the circuit is built and plugged into the radio, testing on a dummy load with a bit of help from my trusty Intek H-520 Plus, though I will, so the batteries will last, run it on it’s lowest power setting.  This method of testing makes sense as the system needs to be adjusted for best results,  the CB autokey will be equipped with a level control to adjust the volume from the computer to the radio, meaning this needs testing on a live network to ensure all works properly and the radio is working as it should be.  I can test this also with the H-520 and the dummy load.

The CB gateway will have several advantages over the PMR446 gateway that is currently operating, these are

  1. International contacts will be possible during times of the 11m band being flat
  2. Access is possible from a vehicle without the need to modify a radio
  3. The gateway will have a better range than the PMR446 gateway, thus access from outside of Richmond would be possible.
  4. There is a possibility that this will encourage more people to use CB radio in the parts of North Yorkshire the gateway will cover.

The radio chosen, as I mentioned on the gateway’s website, is the relatively simple TTI TCB-550, this radio would have it’s speaker removed and a fan installed in it’s place like the Intek DRS-5070, the fan will be driven from the same power supply as the radio.  A fan is needed as the radio will be running 24/7 and this may cause it to get hot, so the hot air would need to be removed to prevent any component failures.

I am looking to get this gateway on air in the next few weeks, possibly with an initial alternate week arrangement as I would intend to share the antenna with my main CB radio until I could get a second antenna built, which I may tune to be resonant on the gateway’s own frequency.  The gateway will operate on UK channel 35 (27.94125 MHz), the reason a UK 27/81 channel was chosen is in part due to the fact that there are many 27/81 40 channel radios still in circulation, in particular through the popular auction site eBay.

I periodically update the page “proposed CB gateway” on the website for the gateways, which can be found at the new address of  The old address will still work for the foreseeable future.

Also, if you are in Richmond, and own a PMR446 radio, feel free to use the existing gateway on PMR446 channel 6, CTCSS 20.

Hope to hear you on the PMR446 and CB gateways sometime soon


73 de 26CT730

Monday 9 July 2012

The war against PLT–New IPTV provider YouView to supply PLT units manufactured by devolo with their equipment

My recent check of the Ban PLT website (banner at the top of the page) has revealed that a new IPTV provider, YouView, will be supplying 85Mbps devolo PLT units with their equipment.  This is pretty much identical to what BT did with their BT Vision service, they supplied a pair of Commtrend PLT devices with their equipment.  These, and the devolo units supplied with YouView’s set-top box are, just like any PLT device on the market, none-compliant.  This leaves you with two choices.  One would be to boycott YouView until the company knows that PLT is not fit for purpose, or two would be to use the YouView service with an ethernet cable instead.  I believe that to boycott YouView is the lesser of two evils, rather than fund a company that is willing to help wipe out the radio spectrum.

The major partners of YouView include BT, TalkTalk, The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 Television, Channel 5, and transmitter operator Arqiva, note in particular the latter, Arqiva maintain the transmitters that provide radio and television services in the UK yet have the double-standard of partnering with a company that is helping to promote destroying radio spectrum.  The PLT devices don’t just render longwave broadcasts, medium wave broadcasts, shortwave broadcasts, CB, and Amateur radio useless, some models have the potential to wipe out VHF broadcast band 88-108MHz, of which Arqiva maintains some transmitters for, and Band III where DAB is allocated, again some transmitters for this band are maintained by Arqiva.  The potential still exists however to wipe out the Bands IV and V, which is television and possibly 4G LTE mobile telephony (which is set to cause issues in itself).

So, if you are thinking about getting YouView, please reconsider this until they stop supplying PLT devices with their hardware.


73 de 26CT730

Friday 22 June 2012

Back off the CB airwaves

I am back off the CB airwaves, this is because the antenna fell off the window at some stage, I have decided that due to the difficulty in siting it without assistance and the possibility that the antenna will fall off the window again, to remove the matching box as well.

I can still be found on the Free Radio Network and my gateway is still on air.

I will soon push ahead to get a new antenna system built for the CB.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 7 June 2012

The war against PLT–A further idiotic recommendation of these nasty devices

I was doing my regular read up of the Ban PLT website and it’s associated Facebook group, when I stumbled across this, the article is a 3-page article about “souping up” your network, and recommending PLT devices as a third, and best option to do this “despite the inevitable outrage from radio hams”.  The author of that article is very misinformed, he assumes that only Amateur radio operators are the one affected by PLT, this is not the case because these devices cover a wide range of spectrum, parts of which include broadcast band, airband, safety-of-life systems, and CB radio.

Let’s look at it another way, someone in the neighbourhood is using those PLT devices, and the emergency services are unable to contact their control center, and don’t think that digital transmissions are immune from interference, they aren’t.  Or what if your neighbourhood is within a few miles of an airfield or airport, the control tower would not be able to contact the pilots both over short and long distances, this would result in you being tracked down by the Civil Aviation Authority for causing disruption to the activities of air traffic control, you are also putting lives in danger, which could include loved ones going on holiday for a while.

So it’s not just amateur radio operators (to give them their full and correct title), or 11-meter band operators, using these devices will wipe out a lot of spectrum and could put lives in danger.

I urge you to unplug and dispose of these devices NOW!

I also urge you to click the Ban Power Line Technology banner at the top of this page.

As for the author of the article I linked to, he should be thoroughly ashamed to be a purveyor of lies


73 de 26CT730

Friday 1 June 2012

A new month and another Bank Holiday weekend to come

And a bank holiday means more DXing, on Sunday I will be headed to the racecourse with my PMR446 radios, and on Monday afternoon after I get back from the annual parade I’ll be doing some DXing on the CB, however I am still using the on-glass antenna on CB at this time and unless the skip is really good don’t stand much of a chance, but I shall give it a go regardless, and see how many contacts I can log thaf day, and of course on Sunday on PMR446, for which I will be checking the conditions for.

A Bank Holiday such as this one, as it is not only the annual Richmond Meet, it is also the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, meaning the likelyhood of the PMR446 Free Radio Network gateway will be hard to access, and may have to be put into “Not available”, the “Not Available mode prevents the gateway from receiving however it still transmits, this will not have any kind of affect on the stream though, as transmissions are still received by the radios, just not passed through to the gateway.

I shall update again very soon


73 de 26CT730

Sunday 27 May 2012

Richmond Free Radio Network PMR446 gateway Live stream now online

I am pleased to announce that the PMR446 gateway's live stream is now online (updated 29/05/12 to lower bitrate stream)

A radio was modified to provide the feed for the stream, this was one of my Binatone EK1000 radios, it's antenna was removed, and the antenna housing cut off with a hacksaw blade to accommodate direct connection to the antenna, the centre of the coax cable connected to the hole made vacant by removal of the extremely small and inefficient coil antenna, and the braid of the coax cable to a ground pad next to the antenna hole.  The speaker leads were disconnected and connection to the computer is provided by the cable from a broken pair of headphones, to wire these up I had to break out the sandpaper and remove the coloured enamel from the wires to allow them to be soldered to the speaker terminals.

The antenna is a home made dipole, the making of which appeared to kill my glue gun but fortunately it was cheap, this is held up on the window with blu-tack, the idea of it is to help receive what the gateway does, so if for example I am out and about with a radio, the stream radio and the gateway should pick it up at the same time

Below are photos of the equipment

Binatone EK1000 with coaxial cable, and audio cable going to Creative SoundBlaster Live! 24bit USB
The home made dipole antenna mounted to the window

The stream is available at and  is in operation near enough 24/7, you can also listen live on the move with your mobile phone, if you have an Android phone or tablet just install Winamp, tap on the "SHOUTcast" button, then tap on the "Enter Station Manually" link, then enter "" (this works for Winamp for the PC also), as the stream is not listed in the SHOUTcast directory, it doesn't appear possible to listen via the SHOUTcast app for iOS, but I am working on this one.

Everything that is heard is what is heard by radio users of the gateway in Richmond.  This is what you will hear on your own PMR446 (or Chinese UHF handheld or modified 70cm Amateur radio should you use those on PMR446) when you are in range.


73 de 26CT730

German stations on mid-block

If you have a CB radio, tune in to the mid block (26.965-27.405), as  there are many German stations coming through quite clearly today, I am having a listen myself but I do believe that I may struggle to get back to any of them, owing to the inefficiency of my current antenna, but with the band open like this it is a sign that we could be in for a brilliant summer of radio

I shall be back soon with more


73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Radio comms website now online

I am pleased to announce that my radio communications website is now online, it contains a little bit of information on CB, freebanding, PMR446 and the unofficial UHF CB allocation, and a little bit of information on my shack, plus links to my ShackCam and this blog

For more information, visit today Smile


73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Possible skip?

Yesterday evening I was flicking through the CB channels, and on midband heard a couple of foreign sounding stations that kept fading in and out, I figured that it was just a bit of sporadic E, or the skip is running.  Given that my antenna is nowhere near the size of the antenna I will be building a little later in the year when finances permit and I am able to gain access to the loft space I was kind of impressed, this is because I was not expecting the antenna to be a great performer on both transmit and receive, but it brought the stations in rather well, even if it was the skip.  It has only been up for nearly a week, I am impressed with the results Smile

I did not attempt to get back to any stations this time as the band went flat before I could do so, perhaps next time if I have time and I hear DXers on air I should give it a go, but nothing is stopping me giving it a go regardless Smile

I shall be back soon with another update


73 de 26CT730

(PS, coming soon is my radio communication website, watch this space)

Thursday 10 May 2012

CB setup partly on air....

I am pleased to announce that my CB setup is now on air, well sort of.  The on-glass antenna I bought as a temporary antenna is working however there are some minor VSWR issues to address.

Last night was the first use of my desk mic and home made speaker, my girlfriend sat in the shack while I went out with the handheld CB, results were good.  Today we tried in opposite places, audio from my speaker was good.

Once I have ironed out the VSWR issues, or got my inverted v antenna up, whichever happens first, I will be found on UK7, but for now I am on midband channel 1.

Those of you viewing the ShackCam will have seen the setup working this morning.

Be back soon with more, and if the skip conditions are right you should hear me on air soon

73 de 26CT730

Monday 7 May 2012

DX day, the conclusion

Today was the day of my DX attempts on both CB and PMR446, it faired something like this:
The calling channel on PMR446 was in use, with a near constant carrier, I was able to call out but if anyone tried to return then I was blotted out by the constant carrier transmission (video to come) so apologies for this, the CB attempt was ultimately rained off, so I abandoned my attempt there.
I took some photos, these are enclosed
Me at the beginning of the PMR446 attempt with the MT-5050

The MT-5050 on Channel 8

Me with the H-520 Plus at the beginning of the ill-fated CB attempt

The H-520 Plus on UK34

I am disappointed but still not put off, another attempt for both is in June so I shall give it a go then
Hope to hear you on air then
73 de 26CT730

PMR446 DX, field update

Due to constant carrier transmissions I am yet to put out a successful CQ call

I have video footage of this to come

73 de 26CT730

Another DX day–Morning before the DXing

Today is another day of DXing, both on PMR446 and CB, between 12pm and 1:30pm I will be calling out on 446.09375 MHz (channel 8) with no CTCSS tone, any contact made on that channel will QSY to another channel for the remainder of the QSO, and between 2pm and 4pm I will be on the CB on my handheld, calling on UK34 and then QSY to any other clear channel when contact is made.

A full report of my day’s attempts will be published here.

It has also come to my attention that content is being stolen from this blog (namely some photographs), and as a result security has been increased here.  All photographs on here are copyrighted to myself and should not be used anywhere else without first seeking permission from me.  For added protection all future photographs will be watermarked before uploading.

I hope to hear many of you on air today

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 3 May 2012

Some unforeseen technical issues with the ShackCam

There have been some unforeseen technical issues with the ShackCam, these should be rectified, if you were viewing it and got a "forbidden" error, please refresh your browser, no one is blocked Apologies for any inconvenience 73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 1 May 2012

New shack cam

I now have a shack cam, this is available on the right of the page, so now you can join me in the shack Smile

On another note I will be out over the Bank Holiday weekend doing some DX work, see a previous post for information on this.  I hope to hear you on air this weekend.



Saturday 28 April 2012

New “shack”

Yesterday I relocated my “shack” from the corner of the room it was in to the side of the room closest to the window, this allows me more flexibility and also helpful for when I install a CB antenna, which I aim to do soon.
This also assists me in diagnosing any issues with the Free Radio Network gateway, of which the radio was recently modified to include a fan just to help with the cooling. A CB counterpart for that is also due later in the year.

I enclose photos of the “shack” as it currently is
These were taken not long after my girlfriend and I had finished moving everything into place and I had reconnected all the equipment, the room is more efficiently organised as a result and everything is together in the “shack” as it should be.
That is all for now, hope to catch you on the air soon


Monday 16 April 2012

Happy first birthday FRN gateway

Today the Richmond FRN gateway celebrates it’s 1st year on air, here’s to another year of the gateway operating on 446.06875MHz (PMR446 channel 6) with a CTCSS of 131.8Hz (CTCSS 20 on most PMR446 radios, there are some exceptions). I am listening to the gateway at this time, for further details see yesterday’s post or go to

Hope to hear you on the gateway soon Smile



Sunday 15 April 2012

One day until the Richmond Free Radio Network Gateway’s first birthday and some upcoming DX events I’ll be taking part in

Tomorrow the Richmond FRN gateway celebrates one year of operation, I am not sure how to celebrate this occasion, the Gateway runs 24/7 and is connected to the 446Muppets server on the Free Radio Network in room “English”, I also have a PC-only client in there, though as I listen to the gateway over the radio for the most part I tend to keep it set to absent.

I’ll also be taking part in another Charlie Tango PMR446 DX event, two actually, one on the 7th May and another on the 3rd June, there is also a CB DX as well on the 7th May and 4th June, but due to me only having a battery powered CB radio (handheld) I am unsure as yet whether I’ll give it a go, but we’ll see how it progresses.

I am debating on whether I go to the racecourse again or find a higher spot, but I’ll look at that one in the next week or so.  Hopefully I will make contact with someone on both attempts, and maybe also on CB as well if I decide to take part in that.

And finally, my gateway is on channel 6 using CTCSS 20, if you’re in range, give it a go, you never know who you may hear on there, it might even be me.

For more information on the Richmond gateway, please go to, the site is updated periodically


Sunday 8 April 2012

Today’s DX event…

Today was the day of the Charlie Tango Easter DX event on PMR446, where many took to high points and attempted to get a long distance contact or contacts.  Unfortunately I was unable to make any contact on the day but it was still a good day out, which took me to the old racecourse here in Richmond, where there was a nice high spot just behind the old grandstand.
Although today didn’t get the desired results there will be other opportunities to give it a try again, and I’m not one to give up
I enclose some photos

My laptop for taking logs, sadly it never got to

My Intek MT-5050 on Channel 8, all ready to go

Me with the MT-5050 (and windswept hair, the wind was very high up there today)
Maybe the next time I do this I may hear someone on the air and hopefully get some QSOs logged.  If you do something like this and you don’t get a response don’t let it put you off doing it again.

Friday 6 April 2012

PMR446 DX event on Easter Sunday

I haven’t updated this as I didn’t get round to getting the CB station going due to some unforeseen circumstances.  I logged into Charlie Tango today and discovered that they have a 446 event planned for Easter Sunday that is open to all, and I intend to give it a go.  I plan to use my Intek MT-5050 but will take another PMR as backup, as well as a spare set of batteries, the JVC camcorder I use for my videos, and my laptop for logging purposes.

Charlie Tango have specified channel 8 with no CTCSS for this event, anyone who owns a PMR446 radio can join in, though to be effective you should take to the hills.  If you do decide to take part and head up to the hills, ensure you have plenty of spare batteries for your radio, and also a backup radio just in case.

This event takes place between 12pm and 2pm on the Sunday, though I will be on air from about 11:30am.  Time to make some contacts over a distance on PMR446 without the need for a gateway.

I have installed a copy of yaLOG to my laptop to log the event and will copy it over to the comms computer after the event is done and I go off air, the laptop can run for about 4 hours on it’s battery, which is more than what I need, but will keep a pen and notebook of sorts handy just in case the computer runs out of power.

I hope for a good day and also some good contacts, I’ll keep you posted


Wednesday 4 January 2012

A hopeful return to CB radio, and a catch up

I recently set up a second desk in my living room, a communications corner if you will, where I have some of my radio equipment and a computer for the likes of the Free Radio Network, possibly Echolink, if allowed in the foundation class license for communication (which I will check with Ofcom and RSGB when the time comes), and logging purposes, and some updates to this blog also

My girlfriend and I plan to see how high the loft space is in the coming weeks, I hope to purchase a suitable loft-mounting antenna and install it there until such times I can install my larger 5/8 wave antenna, although a backup plan is an inverted v mounted to the trusses, having a working CB at home will be beneficial to me, in particular when I have a car so if I am out and girlfriend is here she can keep in touch with me, also be good to get back on the air again anyway, under the handle “red squirrel”, or, for DX work, the callsign 26CT730, my handheld is good and all but not really ideal to use indoors on it’s supplied antenna.  The target date for this is the coming weeks, given that I’m already preparing the corner where the desk with the radios is located for use

I will most likely be on UK7 though will also monitor UK19, if, of course, you cannot reach me on CB, I am always available on the Free Radio Network, usually listening via my gateway but sometimes on the PC now, my gateway has my CB handle in the name, my pc only client does not, if the PC only client shows a grey icon I’m more often than not listening via a radio, which I am doing as I type this in fact, although the gateway is quiet right now.

I have had a few QSOs on the Richmond FRN Gateway (which I run) and direct from the comms computer on the Free Radio Network on the 446Muppets server, there are some nice people on there, so don’t be shy and try it out Smile

I’ve also started up listening to GB3IR, the local 2m band Amateur repeater here in Richmond, although it hasn’t been as active as the FRN gateway in the day or two I’ve been listening to it, I’ve got my multiband receiver (item #8 on list to right) turned on right now listening to that as well, but at this time of day it’s a little on the quiet side, it makes for some good listening, in particular because I wish to get an Amateur radio license, hopefully this will happen in 2012

Oh, and a belated Happy New Year, hope you all had a good Christmas and certainly a good New Year’s celebration