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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