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Tuesday 23 December 2014

Possible mobile CB installation and a PMR446 gateway update

With me not being at the club this week (simply because two weeks after the last club night will be Christmas Day) this post will be on PMR and CB instead.

Firstly, I have had the PMR446 gateway off air because the rig was showing some terrible power readings at the antenna socket leading me to suspect something has blown somewhere, though the radio is still transmitting, I intend to try and find a suitable replacement in the new year.

Mobile CB may once again become a possibility for me without having to do the scooter install (though I still plan to progress with that at some stage when I can find time to do so), as I am looking into getting a car in the new year, a cheap and used car that I'd not mind drilling a hole in the roof to install the antenna on a permanent basis, I already have the antenna and the rig (my Midland 78+ Multi B, there is NO WAY I am permanently installing my President Grant 2 in the car, that can be put on the antenna if I am parked on a hill doing some DX on SSB) yet not the antenna mount and a suitable coax lead with the correct plug for the mount, I may also need a PL259 to SO239 right-angle adaptor should space be tight, other bits I will need are a switch to isolate the rig, a Bosch type automotive relay to ensure the circuit is only switched on with the ignition, possibly a fuse though there is already one on the rig's power line on the live side which is pretty standard anyway, and an extension speaker though I could cobble one of those together out of some bits I have lying about which should save money there.

Planning will come when I actually have the car because all cars are different, planning has to be done so that the rig and microphone are not going to interfere with operation of the car and are not in an airbag deployment area, and that the power and antenna cables can be routed in such a way as they make it to their respective sources.

So to sum up, I should be able to get on the air on the road on CB, and have to do some repair work to the PMR446 gateway, hopefully there will be no difficulties there.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 22 November 2014

Equipment for PMR446 antenna upgrade ordered and a few other bits

I have placed an order for an SWR meter suitable for the PMR446 channels, I have also added tp this order some PL259s suitable for some cable I found I had lying about which is suitable for use on UHF but not as heavy as RG213, an SO239 coupler identical to what is fitted to the T2LT so the antenna and feeder can be connected together (I will be sealing this up with black sugru to protect it from the elements) and a SMA-F to BNC adaptor to fit the Wouxun in order to attach my Nagoya NA-771 to it when it becomes free again (once the Intek is on the bazooka and operating happily into it)

The SWR meter I have ordered covers from 140MHz (meaning I can use it on 2-meters to double check the slim-Jim on a radio and in situ once I have a license), all the way up to 525MHz (so PMR446 is included), my good CB SWR meter is valid up to 200MHz so for 2-meter antennas I can compare the readings.

The bazooka will be checked for SWR in two places, the first being at Whaston Road car park, my favourite DX spot close to home, the SWR will then be rechecked when the antenna is up in the air, I still need to add some rigidity to the driven element to keep it as vertical as possible (PMR446 units all have antennas that are near enough vertical as almost all type approved PMR446 radios are handheld units (the exceptions to this being the Intek DRS-5070 and it's cosmetically identical predecessor, the Midland BaseCamp446, and the Alan Base446, but these all can operate on batteries and are still portable rather than fixed like a base CB or home Amateur station, the BaseCamp446 has a mic holder on it's rear panel).

I expect to take delivery of the items I have ordered in the middle of next week, and I expect the PMR446 gateway to be moved off the Nagoya and onto the bazooka by the end of next week, range tests will then be carried out once the antenna is up, including to Northallerton, I look forward to seeing if at last I can make it there on PMR446, it's a big ask but it's worth trying.

73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Couple of updates

First of all, the PMR446 gateway radio is no longer operating using it's supplied antenna, it has now had a BNC socket fitted, with the bazooka unavailable to be used for this radio at the moment I have had to make a temporary arrangement using my Nagoya NA-771 antenna, this antenna is doing the job, the radio is still operating at 500mW, and the gateway is still covering roughly the same area it always has been, the radio did have to be rotated to accommodate the Nagoya (the stock antenna entered the rig at a right-angle and I don't have a right-angle BNC adaptor), I aim to get the bazooka up in a couple of weeks, which should vastly improve coverage, I am also looking into running my T2LT over some weekends from home on the fibreglass pole once I have a means to mount it in the ground, but I shall have to see what happens.

The TTI TCB-565, the basic rig with s-meter that I reported on a few days ago has just become available on Thunderpole's web site, at just under £80, as my priority is an SWR meter for use on PMR446 the replacement TTI rig will be arriving after I have finalised the 446 bazooka, I'll have to order it perhaps in the new year.

My amateur radio foundation training is coming along nicely, I have to get used to the morse code properly, which means a couple of hours of it with a pair of headphones (my trusty Sony MDR-V150 headphones would work for this) listening to morse code, as I have to be up to a certain standard to pass that assessment, all the assessments need to be marked off before I can take the exam.

That is all there is that really needs to be updated, it's time for me to get on with other things, I've hit the limit on what I can and cannot do radio wise today, the bazooka antenna can't be tuned today, but it can when I get an SWR meter, I hope to place that order this weekend.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 15 November 2014

Bazooka antenna assembled

As per the instructions of Jason 26CTX965 on his YouTube video, I have assembled a PMR446 bazooka antenna using RG58 coaxial cable.

The choke was a little bit of a difficulty to find a former for to begin with but I simply cut the handle off a cheap toilet plunger (no great loss as I can replace it).

The antenna needs to be adjusted for SWR, I face two problems here, one of which is that I do not have an SWR meter that I can use on PMR446, my decent SWR meter only covers up to 200MHz, so I need to get a new SWR meter, secondly is that I need to be able to connect the antenna to a radio and a feedline, the feedline is not a major issue as I have an RG213 feedline for my portable CB work anyway, a radio is as the feedline is terminated with a PL259, fitting the antenna socket kit on my Intek MT-5050 will not work without an adaptor as this is an SMA type connector, the modded Binatone Action 950 as you know has a BNC socket so again needs an adaptor, and my Wouxun, though not strictly legal on PMR446 also has an SMA socket so again requires an adaptor, though I need an adaptor for the Wouxun to use the j-pole I made at the club the other night.

The ultimate idea of using this bazooka antenna is to improve range of the PMR446 gateway, the gateway radio is currently using the antenna fitted to it and is attached to the window with suction hooks to give it some height in the Catterick and Northallerton direction (it has NEVER reached Northallerton and been usable there, but as the A1 is in range, only just, then a better antenna is called for as the A1 is a major through route in the area and good coverage there would be a bonus, as the Intek DRS-5070 is not fitted with an antenna socket out of the box then this needs to be done, the BNC sockets are generally cheap to obtain (the same time I used for my SDR enclosure should suffice with the outer connected to a ground in the radio (negative side of battery box)

I'll update this when the antenna has gone on the pole and been checked out for SWR.

73 de 26CT730

Friday 14 November 2014

Amateur radio club night - 13th November

Yesterday evening was the evening of the local club meet, and we broke out the soldering irons and had a go at making j-pole antennas out of twin-feed cable for the 2m band, with varying degrees of success, the difficult part is stripping the twin-feed,

Fortunately we did not need to put them on a radio and ask one of the licensed members to test them, instead Chris G4FZN, the repeater keeper for GB3IR, brought with him an antenna analyser allowing us to test to see if our completed antennas were working fine without the need to connect them to a transmitter, mine was pretty good for a first attempt (bearing in mind all my previous antenna projects have been for 11-meters or the Delboy online RX-only 446 dipole and the last working one on transmit was my T2LT for CB, bear in mind I am also putting together a 446 bazooka antenna to the design of 26CTX965 and have not finished it yet).

This now means I have an antenna for the 2-meter band I can actually use once I am licensed, I see no harm in using it for RX-only applications in the mean time but I'd really like to test it out on transmit, the good thing is that my decent SWR meter works between 3 and 200MHz so covers pretty much everything I would be using apart from PMR446, which I will deal with later on, I shouldn't need to adjust the SWR but I will check it out either way.

Also there was mention of when I do my exam for my foundation, nothing is set in stone, a date will be decided later, in the mean time I have to do more training on Tuesday night.

Next club meeting is the 27th, though I am supposed to be doing forklift training that week I should still be able to make it to the club that evening.

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Small TTI CB radio with included S-Meter coming soon?

It came to my attention from Simon The Wizard's blog that there is a new TTI CB radio coming soon, the TCB-565, I already own a TCB-550 which I use for my CB gateway on the Free Radio Network, and though it's a good and basic radio which is suited to it's role I have found it lacks one useful feature that every other CB radio I own has, an S-meter.

TTI themselves obviously saw this shortcoming too with the TCB-550, TCB-560 and TCB-660 as none of these had an s-meter and introduced the TCB-565.

Normally I don't report on new radios, but this one is noteworthy having an s-meter, and this got me thinking, I could replace the gateway radio with one of these easily enough, provided that like the TCB-550 the internal speaker was plugged into the main board as the bottom cover should fit and it should fit into the TCB-550's rig bracket, also if the mic socket uses the same Uniden wiring as the 550 the interface would just simply swap over, should this happen then the TCB-550 will be re-purposed as just another rig.

From what pictures I have seen the radio does look good and the s-meter is in a prominent place above the channel display, I shall keep my eye on the usual UK CB suppliers and pick one up as soon as it becomes available and go from there.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 2 November 2014

SDR enclosure almost ready for stage two

Posting this on my phone as the home QTH has no Internet connectivity since Friday morning, which has resulted in no PMR446 gateway in Richmond, unfortunately this is BT's issue as opposed to mine.

I found a second nut and machine screw today while tidying up, needless to say this allowed me to drill a second hole and fasten the USB port to the tin lid properly, I removed the SDR to drill the hole as I did not want to damage it, it was returned to the tin when the second screw was tightened.

The SDR is currently tuned to GB3IR, the local 2m repeater, the antenna is a 2/70 antenna so fine for this use, performance appears to be good, the next stage will be sealant around any holes to prevent leaks, then some vegetable oil for coolant as far as I dare fill the can, as per the information on SDR for Mariners, and a final bead of silicone sealant on the outside of the lid to be absolutely sure.

This has been a slow project but it is almost there, a scanner antenna will be next for this, hopefully I can see what this cheap SDR, when surrounded by metal and immersed in oil, can really do.

73 de 26CT730

PS, I hope to have Internet restored and the gateway operational soon

Wednesday 29 October 2014

RTL-SDR enclosure prepped

I picked up 2 different diameter hole saws today to enable me to cut the hole needed in the lid of the tin for the USB connector for the SDR, the connector was fitted after a suitable hole cut and another hole drilled through for a screw (a second screw will be sourced and used later to finish the job).

A connecting lead for the antenna socket on the stick was sourced from the magnetic mount stick antenna that was supplied with the RTL-SDR stick, it was simply a small amount cut from the lead with the MCX connector intact, the cut off end was simply prepped and soldered to the appropriate points on the BNC connector, with the excess trimmed off, continuity was checked before the lead was connected to the stick.

The stick was then tested with just the antenna socket, I installed the SDR# software to do this, it worked as it should have done, the stick was then connected to the USB socket inside the tin lid and the tin closed up, it still works, the NA-771 antenna is not tuned for everything the RTL-SDR is capable of tuning to, but it seemed to work OK in the broadcast band, it of course worked fine in the 2-meter band and on PMR446 (PMR446 frequencies fall into the 70cm band in the US so to be expected). I tried it on 11-meters including on 27.555 MHz, but no luck, partly due to being indoors and partly due to being the wrong antenna for the band, a final test was to see if broadcast reception was eliminated while inside the tin, it was.

The last stage of this project is to fasten the USB connector down properly with one final screw, silicone seal the inside of the tin to be sure that no leaks can occur, fill it with oil after the silicone sealant has cured, and immerse the operating RTL-SDR into it, the reason I want it operating while I do this is to ensure that the stick continues to work while immersed in oil, SDR for mariners claims that it does.

It has taken me a bit of time but I finally have got the tin fitted out.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 26 October 2014

DXpedition called off

Due to extremely strong winds, so strong I could not open the car door, I decided against DXing at Tan Hill, and arrived at Emley Moor (my second choice) too late to do anything due to heavy traffic on the motorways.

It is a shame I was unable to DX as Tan Hill is a superb spot for DXing due to it's elevation as is Emley Moor which is why there is a broadcast facility there to cover West Yorkshire and some parts of North and South Yorkshire, of course I'd have found a spot some distance away from the broadcast tower to avoid interference to and from it.

If the wind dies down I will plan to set up the T2LT near to my home address in time for The Big Net in November, I've missed previous UK CB big nets but would like to take part in this one, and as my T2LT is a temporary structure I should, in theory, be able to operate on it then remove it when I am finished, not sure I have sufficient cable though, this I need to deal with before I can go on air from home.

Also I am planning on getting a working PMR446 bazooka antenna on the gateway radio very soon, an antenna of this type is so small and unnoticeable that no one would really care that's it is there, it should improve coverage somewhat after I had a station on the A1 use the gateway a few days ago.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 23 October 2014

Possible DXpedition this weekend

I am renting a car on Saturday afternoon for a few days (until Tuesday afternoon), this is primarily for me to get somewhere I need to be on Monday afternoon without taking the train, however it has another plus point, getting to a nice high point for a spot of DXing.

My initial plan in August was to go to Tan Hill and do some DXing there, this fell through as I could not find any time to get up there and I was late finishing the T2LT and finding a suitable pole for it, this is now remedied, and I could go to Tan Hill or Emley Moor, the latter being home to a famous broadcast transmitting station, but I'll see which would be best, Sutton Bank on the A170 is another option but the only car park is owned by the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority so only useable with a magmount and tank whip, and I don't have the latter and cannot put a magmount onto a rental car as it may damage it, Tan Hill is closer however.

The radio (the President Grant 2) will be powered by my sealed lead-acid battery and not from the car's cigarette lighter to avoid damage and running the car's battery flat, the only antenna I have available is the T2LT, this will happen assuming the weather is better than it has been of late.

If I can do this I will be on air most of the day, and I hope to catch you on air that day if conditions permit.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 19 October 2014

Digital modes

As it stands, all my radio operations have been using analogue modes of transmission, and due to the prohibitive cost of most existing digital equipment I've obviously not been able to experiment with it, but my radio related browsing has caused me to stumble on yet another Chinese radio that offers functions of a more expensive radio but a cheaper price, the Kirisun S780.

The S780, when operating in digital mode, appears to be compliant with dPMR standards, using  FDMA, 4-level FSK modulation, and in essence works like a mobile telephone but minus the infrastructure so no loss of coverage, it is seemingly compatible with dPMR446 but with a minimum TX power of 1 watt it wouldn't be legal and it isn't type approved for dPMR446, it does analogue transmissions as well.

The S780 appears to be able to send text messages, like SMS but peer to peer rather than through infrastructure, in common with other digital radios like this it can talk directly to another radio without transmitting to them all, it also offers encryption, though this is limited to voice, the text messages can be decoded by anyone listening if sent to all radios in range.

Looking at pictures of the radio the connection does not appear to be Kenwood, as is the case with other Chinese radios such as those by Wouxun and Baofeng for example, it instead appears to be 2-pin Motorola, thus immediately ruling out compatibility with my existing Wouxun accessories, which is a pain as when I do buy one of these radios I will have to order it with a USB lead to actually program it to work on the right frequencies.

So if finances permit a digital radio may join all my analogue gear, and given the quality of Chinese radios now I think it would be worth it.

73 de 26CT730

Friday 17 October 2014

Amateur radio club night - 16th October

Nothing between my last post as I've been a little busy to find any radio time other than casual listening of GB3IR, but last night was indeed the club night again.

The founders of the club brought in a rig that could do HF, VHF, and UHF, but for the purposes of the club it was on 40-meters, and as the club did not have a call sign only those that were licensed could actually use it, the antenna was a G5RV, which I didn't see as it was dark outside, connected into a tuner and then into the rig.

I had a discussion about the foundation training and useful resources with the tutor, some of which I will have a look at tonight when things settle down.

Despite not having the same mishap as last week I still arrived earlier than I expected to, but because there is resurfacing works overnight at my road-end I didn't want to risk being stuck so had to leave the house earlier than normal.

It wasn't a busy night last night unlike most nights but we had two newcomers, also unlicensed like myself, bringing the total of those that would be doing the foundation up to about 5 or 6.

Next club meeting is in two weeks time, I need to get some airtime hours on 11-meters and PMR446 logged in the mean time and also a bit more revision on the old Foundation license, as my course starts on the 4th November.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 2 October 2014

Amateur radio club evening - 2nd October

Tonight was the local Amateur radio club meeting, pretty much almost everyone who was there last week was, topics of discussion included discussion of a neighbouring club's delivery of a modern repeater and a chat between the founder and the 3 (later 4) of us that would be doing the foundation exam, myself included, we were each given a CD which I will have a look at tomorrow when I am less tired and have my jobs I need to do out of the way.

I arrived there a shade earlier than expected tonight owing to some unforeseen and unfortunate issues earlier in the day, but it was still a good night, with the licensed members trying out the neighbouring club's repeater which was connected up to a dummy load to keep it all above board, and it was a very clever looking piece of kit but I did not have a closer look.

So, next meeting is in 2 weeks, and I also hope to begin my training in November, so forwards we go.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 21 September 2014

Some ideas for my next attempt at the CT SSB DX net

Despite my lack of entries into the log last night for my attempt at the SSB net, as well as my first ever go on SSB since it became legal on CB in June, I have not been deterred and want to have another go next time, so I came up with some ideas for my next attempt

  • Carry my antenna pole in a backpack, attaching it to my scooter doesn't work as well as I'd like
  • Invest in a bigger backpack, and a pop-up tent that will fit it, the scooter's cover did work to keep some of the weather off but not all
  • Take some warm clothing and and some food and drink with me so I can stay on the air for some hours longer without the need to return home after 2 hours, I have a 7,2Ah battery that should last a while depending on how much transmission takes place
  • Possibly locate other high places that are accessible by road and are close by, and, of course, not liable to cause any interference to other radio users
Though it all went well, apart from no QSOs logged, my only disappointment was not logging a QSO with the station in Corsica, as that particular station is one I've been trying to log for some time, perhaps the next time I can log a QSO with him.

Let's see what happens next time and when next time is due to occur.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 20 September 2014

Evening SSB net

Tonight I made an attempt to take part in an SSB net for a couple of hours on EU 28 USB, though I could hear a station in Corsica I was not able to get back to him, nor another Charlie Tango station on channel I heard in the back of the box, presumably Northumberland, there was  a lot of QRM from the US as well as some QSOs going on, but unable to reach them either.

The T2LT had tuned down fine so perhaps conditions were not favourable for me this time, if the weather is good I might give it another go next weekend, and perhaps work out a shelter that's somewhat better than my scooter's cover.

73 de 26CT730

Sealed lead-acid battery for portable work aquired

I made a trip to Sunderland yesterday to pick up an SO239 coupler from Maplin Electronics (as both the Teesside and Middlesbrough stores did not have any), this is to allow my T2LT to connect to a suitable feedline, the tail from the T2LT isn't that long and barely reached the ground during my tests.

I also picked up a 7Ah sealed lead-acid battery for my portable work, relegating the AA batteries to emergency power as the sealed lead-acid battery should provide enough power for a few hours of operation, though if I am close to it my scooter would also be able to provide power, it too has a 7Ah battery but I need to use care not to run it down as it's not for deep discharge and starting my scooter would not be possible otherwise.

So later on today I will be up at the same car park I tuned my T2LT and will be taking to the air, look forward to making some contacts tonight

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 18 September 2014

Amateur radio club visit

I attended the inaugural meeting of the new local Amateur radio club, and it was an enjoyable evening, out of those there only a small handful of us did not have a license, with my CB and PMR experience and having read the Foundation License Now book I should get through the exam with no problem and plan to begin revising more thoroughly

The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and a lot of Amateurs from the wider area including GB3IR's keeper were present, the club had no planned on-air activities tonight, given that this was a new club and they want to get it established, and also make it a member-oriented club.

So, I will be attending again in two weeks

73 de 26CT730

Less than 12 hours to go

Today is the day of the start of the new Amateur radio club, they have even managed to get a story in local newspaper The Northern Echo, which in turn made an appearance on Southgate Amateur Radio News.

The aims and objective of the club and it's founders is to get as many people involved in Amateur radio as possible, given this age of social media and mobile phones, and happily for me they are going to offer at least Foundation and Intermediate training, although I do enjoy what I do on 11-meters and PMR446, I know I can do so much more with radio, listening to GB3IR is one thing but being able to use it will be another.

I look forward to being at this new radio club tonight and I will be reporting back with how it went later on.

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 16 September 2014

T2LT update

With the new pole having arrived I strapped it to my scooter, packed up my Grant 2, my most decent SWR meter, my multimeter should I need to investigate any shorts, the dummy load in case I needed to check for any issues with the radio, which I did not need.

The pole was not 100% straight (it was propped up), the T2LT was slightly adrift at the top but otherwise fine, a small loop was also provided for tuning. but no tuning was needed as the SWR was below 1.5 at all times, reception was good across both UK and midband, the tuning loop was positioned slightly above the top of the pole with the main part of the antenna running the length of the pole, the choke also worked perfectly.

Should the weather be good on Saturday I shall be heading back up to the car park where I did the tests and will be going on air properly for the first time in a long time.

73 de 26CT730

Monday 15 September 2014

Pole for T2LT arrived

And surprisingly it was left in the hallway by the courier, the last job for me to do will be to transport the pole, the T2LT, and a suitable radio (I was thinking the Grant 2 for this so I could ascertain reception on SSB) to tune the antenna on.  I will also need an SWR meter (internal SWR meters are not to be relied on solely).

I got it unboxed and had a look, the bottom is removable to allow sections of the pole to be removed to shorten it in increments of about 1 metre.

So, now to see if it works and the antenna tunes down.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 14 September 2014

Amateur radio club confirmed to be starting Thursday

I have been listening to GB3IR, the local 2-metre repeater, and mentions of the new Amateur radio club actually taking place this Thursday, and I will be there for this historic occasion and to get into the Amateur radio hobby, there's only so much one can do on CB and PMR446.

I certainly look forward to seeing the faces behind of some of GB3IR's voices and taking my first steps to my Amateur radio license, so a busy week for me is ahead as I have a lot on as well as the Amateur radio club starting this week.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 13 September 2014

Pole prep

In preparation for the pole for the T2LT, I have picked up some velcro cable fasteners, they simply wrap around the cable to hold it in place, it's supplied on a roll to be cut to the right size. so I simply can cut off one piece to wrap around the antenna and pole, and cut more pieces to the same size.

I still need to cap off the end of the exposed part of the T2LT before I can fit it to the pole for testing to keep the water out if it's out in the wet.

So, hopefully I will have this antenna set up and working within the next week. and I can finally get on the air anywhere.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 11 September 2014

Pole for T2LT ordered

I have put an order in for a suitable pole for the T2LT, though this pole was advertised as being a flag or windsock pole it would work fine for having a piece of wire attached to it, this will allow me to tune down the T2LT to a suitable degree, though the SWR may change on location but we will see.

The tuning will be done using my President Grant 2 off either the battery pack or the scooter battery, as I don't plan any proper QSOs, I will simply erect the pole and antenna, and either prop or fasten it to a fence post, I will find some velcro straps to allow a temporary fix to the pole, and a small cable tie to loop the top section for tuning, all I have to to is adjust this loop.

I intend to use the most reliable of my 3 SWR meters for this, the meter in the Grant 2 may not be accurate but will be on to see just how accurate the onboard meter of the Grant 2 actually is, also out in the open the antenna should receive across all channels, and also all modes now we have multimode CB, I look forward to finally seeing if my third antenna attempts (I made a dipole a few years ago out of a piece of coax (but forgot the choke), the coax being used later for the ill-fated inverted-V, the T2LT uses one component used in the ill-fated inverted-V, half of the choke core, it was integrated rather than detachable.

I have confidence this antenna will work well, but I have sufficient coax to make another should the need arise.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 7 September 2014

T2LT progress update

Today, as the weather was nice, I dug out the beginnings of my T2LT antenna and got to work measuring it up and finishing it off, though I have yet to tune it yet.

Tuning will take place as soon as a suitable pole can be acquired, the pole MUST be a fibreglass pole, a carbon or steel pole will upset the antenna and make it useless, given how busy I have been of late with other things it's been a bit difficult to find time to get the T2LT sorted, hopefully I can get it tuned down and it will work nicely, a temporary solution to a problem I shouldn't even have and perfect for hilltop DX, which I hope to do before the weather starts to turn bad, so I'll get on with it sooner rather than later.

Also it's a couple of weeks to go before the Amateur radio club supposedly starts, I will still be going to Colburn that evening but if it's a no-show there is not a lot I can do about it, but if not then it's progress for me.

So I most certainly will be on CB soon, and possibly the Amateur bands not long after.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 17 August 2014

Follow up to previous Amateur radio club post

So I returned to the Post Office where I saw the information the following day and bothered to take note of it, the date was 18th September with a start time of about 7:30pm (or this is what I put in my calendar). and it will be taking place in Colburn, if they do not offer training of any sort I can simply go to Bishop Auckland anyway, but to have an Amateur radio club closer where I do not have to travel miles is a great help so it will be a bonus if they do offer the training and I can get my foundation at the very least, maybe even my intermediate, aiming for full license by 2015 if possible, though it could take longer depending on what my employment prospects hold.

So, about a month or so to wait, and I'll be able to begin my journey to licensed amateur, it's been a few years in the making but it might well be happening very soon, also it will allow me to meet new people who share a common interest.

So let's see what happens

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 12 August 2014

New Amateur radio club possibly starting in local area in September

At a local Post Office today, one that is at the very back of a Co-Operative supermarket, I saw a flyer for what appeared to be a soon to start Amateur radio club in the village of Colburn, a stone's throw from my current work, and about 15 minutes travelling depending on traffic, weather, and other external factors.

Their first meeting is scheduled to be a date in September, when this is I did not record as I had other things to do such as make my way back home after work, however it does mean that for general club activities I do not have to travel to the Bishop Auckland club at Stanley Crook, I may still have to do this for my exams however, though this is a one-off hassle per exam, I now have a target set, get my foundation license by the end of the year, I have the "Foundation Licence Now" book, so I suspect I am best getting to the revision again.

I am very pleased by this turn of events, and all I intended to do was post a large letter and pick up something for dinner, I will be going back over to the Co-Operative store in question to get the dates noted down in my phone, it's an opportunity to get more involved in the Amateur side of things, I may as well take advantage of it, and with a bit of luck you may hear me on the bands and GB3IR with an M6 call, of course I'll still be on CB and PMR446 with my CT callsign

I'll update this with more soon

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 7 August 2014

Portable power pack completed

Wednesday lunchtime I had arrived home, and found the postman on the estate already out delivering mail, I had got to the home QTH before the postman could deliver my mail, once it did come the combined volt and ammeter for the portable power pack had arrived.

The voltage is displayed in red on the top row, the current in Amperes is displayed in blue on the bottom row, with no load the display will show 0A, it is rated to 10A if simply wired in line with the negative side of the circuit, I don't expect a current draw above 4A at most.

I may regulate the output so that the voltage at the cigarette lighter terminal is constant, however the radios are working without regulation though they are down a little on TX power though this should make very little difference

So, just to finish the antenna off and get it on a pole

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 3 August 2014

Portable power pack almost done

This morning all 10 of the batteries were completely charged up, I have on order a dual voltmeter and ammeter (voltage and current measurement on the same display) so I can keep an eye on both current draw and battery state at the same time.

The batteries will be going in the unit shortly so tests can begin to make sure it will handle various loads, specifically CB radios and, for power cuts at home, phone chargers, also to see what voltage these particular batteries really show on the output (they are Maplin 2400mAh rechargables), some batteries may show 1.25 V at the terminals, that's about 12.5V for 10 batteries, some may show 1.3 at a full charge but this could be very rare (it would give 13V).  During the tests a basic multimeter is to be wired across the terninals to check voltage.

So I shall get on with that and report back later

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 2 August 2014

Portable power pack under construction

Since I returned home last night I have been working on a portable power pack that uses 10 AA size rechargeable batteries for portable work, inspired by 26CTX104, I have made the design as such that it is enclosed, the battery box can be detached from the cigarette lighter socket by removing two screws.

The batteries themselves, currently, are Maplin 2400 mAh rechargables, at around 1.2V per cell to get the required 12V, I suspect combined capacity is 24Ah, based on my theory that there's 10 of them, and 10x 2.4Ah is 24Ah (2400mAh being 2.4Ah).

A voltmeter will be integrated into the design later to ensure there is sufficient charge in the batteries at all times, nothing worse than running out of power mid-QSO.

So, I have another 6 batteries to charge and my charger only takes 4 at a time, so I best go do that and I'll post and an update later on

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 27 July 2014

A bit of an update

Not had a lot of time for radio this weekend, however on Friday evening I waterproofed to some degree all the components to be used for the scooter CB that I already have, namely the modified headset wiring and the Midland Alan 42's car adaptor (at both ends, the radio itself is still not waterproof and would need waterproofing), the cigarette lighter socket on my scooter was done earlier in the day, to do all the work required three packets of Sugru, black was chosen as it matched well with the cables and the cigarette lighter socket on my scooter as well as the surrounding plastic, the socket was originally sealed with silicone sealant which did not stay on well enough.

I couldn't find anywhere locally that I could see that did telescopic fibreglass poles, it may be that I need to order one from eBay but finances are tight until I next get paid, also the T2LT has yet to be completed, which may not get done for a couple of days as I've got a bit sunburned and am trying to avoid sun exposure (the measurements may need to be taken in an open space outside on a dry day), hopefully I will still be set to go to Tan Hill in August, though a dry run of the T2LT setup will be done from a car park just up the road from me, helpfully up a hill, whether I use the Grant 2 or the Midland Alan 42 remains to be seen, the latter can run off my scooter battery without risking completely discharging it, the Grant 2 has a lot higher current drain than the Midland handheld on transmit

Also this coming weekend if I get paid I may get the parts I need to build at least one battery box and a replacement fuse for the longer of the cigarette lighter cords to accommodate the Grant 2 (the fuse in the plug is lower than the one in the Grant 2's lead and would blow with the Grant 2 at transmit under normal conditions, thus needs to be about 10A, the fuse on the Grant 2 is 6A, and current draw should not exceed 3A, the 10A fuse allows the lead to work with higher radios.

The shack computer had to have an OS reinstall after an issue occurred preventing a few programmes working properly, all resolved but yet to reinstall the RTL-SDR software, also I am yet to do the oil cooling for the SDR stick

That is all up to date and another post should be on it's way sometime soon :)

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 20 July 2014

T2LT progress

The choke is now wound, the PL259 plug is fitted, and the top of the plug where it meets the cable has had a small amount of Sugru applied to it.

On doing a Google search for "PL259 plugs and Sugru" it turns out that there is no record of anyone doing this which means either one of two things, I am the first person in the world to watertight the cable entry of a PL259 plug with Sugru or others have before me and not really made it public

The RG58 I used is reasonably good quality, it has good braid coverage and a good dielectric, I just now need to measure from the choke to the point in which I will be cutting off the braid, I then need to measure from that point to what will be the top of the antenna (so 8.5ft and another 9ft respectively as per 26CTX104's YouTube video, the 9ft top section allows for some tuning down, folded over and not cut as the VSWR may vary from location to location)

So I look forward to getting the next bit done, then perhaps this antenna will be up and I'll be on air soon :)

73 de 26CT730

T2LT choke dilemma

Now as you know, I am planning to build at least one T2LT antenna, using the design outlined in 26CTX104's video on his UKCBTV YouTube account, but I had a dilemma, what to use as the former for the choke, an important component that separates the antenna and coax as this antenna is not only a dipole for all intents and purposes, it is also made from the coax, I had a look at a few ideas, B & Q sold long lengths of soil pipe that had a slightly wide diameter and I could not transport on my scooter, Homebase were no good at all.

So I thought to myself "what do I already have that I could use?" after carefully measuring the diameter of various round objects (cocoa tin, golden syrup tin, fizzy drink bottle, cider bottle and empty marshmallow fluff tub) I then remembered that I still had the two pieces of tube I used for the choke on the ill-fated inverted-V dipole I was intending to use in the loft but for many reasons didn't, I measured this, bingo, 4" diamater, a quarter of an inch shy of 26CTX104's findings but should be fine if the turns are the same (around about 5, I've seen 5 turns on 4" former reported to work fine).

So, I intend to begin today by running out a short length of the coax I have, which is 100m of RG58 which I bought partly to do this, today, winding the choke, fitting a PL259 on the other end, sealing the plug up with some Sugru where the coax leaves it to stop water ingress (I have heatshrink but of the wrong diameter for the PL259), it will take around 24 hours for the Sugru to fully cure and I don't know if any operators have used it on their PL259s, perhaps this is a first, but perhaps not.

So, I'll let you know how I get on, also just need a fibreglass pole and some means to fasten the antenna to it, and I should be on the air very soon.

73 de 26CT730

Friday 18 July 2014

Feeling kind of nostalgic (well 12 or 13 years in the past anyway)

Now I am too young to remember the original legal day in 1981, I wasn't born until a little over 5 months later, I didn't get onto CB until the very early 2000, I got my CB license at the time, and I borrowed from a now former friend (the reasons to why he is no longer my friend I won't be getting into) an Audioline 341, a power supply, and an antenna on a magmount which was just stuck to a radiator, it worked but not very well, I could hear the stations my former friend could hear from his home QTH on UK7 in Northallerton, and they could hear me, but I could not hear my former friend, being the fool that he is he came over again, took the cover off the Audioline, and fiddled with the adjustments inside of it, not helping the situation.

The reason I think back to this particular rig is because it, like my President Grant 2, is a Uniden product, and since getting the Grant 2 I've been thinking about picking up an Audioline 341 for nostalgic reasons, might check out local car boot sales and see if there are any of these rigs about, I know there's a few on eBay now and again, of course I'm not going to buy one immediately after purchase of the Grant 2, though I have a Uniden wired mic spare from my TTI TCB-550 because I don't use that rig, I'm not totally sure it would work with the Audioline 341, it might, it might not, so I may be better making sure it comes with a mic and power lead.

So perhaps sometime in the future my Moonraker FA5000, my TTI TCB-550, my Midland Alan 78 Plus Multi B, my Intek H-520, my Midland Alan 42 Multi and, of course, my President Grant 2, will be joined by an Audioline 341, it may be a 27/81 rig but it was the first rig I used, albeit very briefly after the owner decided to mess with it without knowing what he was doing, if I get a working one you may hear me on the UK40 with it, though of course I'll be testing it into a dummy load and looking at it's emissions on my RTL-SDR.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 17 July 2014

Grant 2 first look video

As promised, albeit a little belated, here is my first look at the President Grant 2, the day after I took delivery of it.

It took a little longer to get uploaded to YouTube than I thought, it's not meant to be a serious review as the radio has been out for a while now and it has been reviewed by others, this video is mainly my views on it out of the box.

Another video will be done when I get the radio on air

Hope to get this on air very soon.

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Grant 2 in pictures

I have a picture of my President Grant 2 in situ on my desk, however I took the picture on my phone so it's not brilliant, there are better pictures of this rig out there and I'll try and get a better picture later

But for now, here is my Grant 2, connected to a dummy load and power meter on UK35 after I'd been having a look at the features the rig had.

Hope to get this on an antenna very soon and on the air and see how well it works.for myself

73 de 26CT730

Monday 14 July 2014

G2 day

Well it's Monday and they're usually boring for most but today I took delivery of the President Grant 2, and even though I have not been on air with it yet I am liking it already.

Firstly, it is bigger than I initially thought it was, probably car stereo sized if anything, secondly it has a solid feel, like it's been well put together, which I would expect from a Uniden product (the Grant 2 is made by Uniden for President, some have said it looks a lot like a Uniden Bearcat rig from the US, however it appears the Uniden Bearcat rigs are made in China, the Grant 2 is made in Vietnam).

I received the radio in EU mode so I had to set it up to UK mode, in order to do this you have to turn off the radio, press "F", turn on the radio, and select the UK ("U" on the display), press "F" to save it, turn off, and back on, now if you press "AM/FM/USB/LSB" you get the UK40 along with the new modes on midband, on existing equipment if you want AM you have to set the rig to think it's in Spain, I did this with my Midland 42 over the weekend.

The power lead had, as predicted, bare wires on both leads so I plan to rectify that soon, the rig puts out the expected power on all modes, I tested this with my combo SWR and power meter, I also examined the audio quality of the radio's transmissions on my RTL-SDR while it was on the dummy load, AM and SSB sounded pretty good, though bear in mind that I have never had an SSB rig before, FM was a little quiet but that's ok

Now to test receive, get an antenna on it soon and I'll let you know.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 13 July 2014

Another shack desk tidy up

With the imminent arrival of the President Grant 2 (this will be tomorrow all being well) the shack desk was in need of a little bit of a clear up, it wasn’t bad but there were things on there that really weren’t needed to be there as I was not using them such as tubes of solder, knife, veroboard track cutting tool, some screws, a hopeless coax stripper (I need a new one) and a roll of electrical tape, as well as my second of my two portable power leads, I decided to leave my Midland Alan 78 Plus Multi B on the desk just in case I may need it on for whatever reason.

I will be recording a “first look” video of the President Grant 2, like I mentioned in previous posts (though I didn’t mention this on the Tan Hill video, but it’s good my YouTube account is getting some use again), on-air tests will come later when I build a T2LT or get a car, whichever comes first(I of course I still cannot install my Sirio GPE 27 5/8 wave as I live in a rented flat and it isn’t a very portable antenna)

So hopefully about 7pm-ish tomorrow my President Grant 2 will be here, a review video should be on here and YouTube by about 9pm at the very latest.


73 de 26CT730

Tan Hill pre-DXpedition evaluation - video

Here is the video I took up at Tan Hill, it's taken me a while to get it ready for putting on here but I got there, it should give you some sort of idea of what I was talking about in my last post.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 12 July 2014

Pre-DXpedition evaluation of Tan Hill

I took a ride up to Tan Hill today to evaluate how good a DX spot it really is, for PMR446 use I’d still advise on an external antenna mounted as high as possible, for CB a proper antenna would be beneficial, though I had stations incoming on a handheld, in this case the Midland Alan 42 Multi, notably some foreign stations on channel 8 midblock using AM. I did have a brief flick around on FM and also on 27/81 but AM appears to show more promise, SSB may also be very promising when I can finally give it a go, which may well be at Tan Hill.

I took some video footage on my phone and while I type this I am awaiting it to process before I upload it to YouTube, a later post will be that very video, which includes my very first call on AM, although because I was using a handheld I doubt anyone was able to hear me but with radio you just never know.

All I am left to do is sort out a shelter, build a T2LT and some suitable battery packs, acquire a pole to mount my antenna to, and hopefully I can get back to Tan Hill and keep DXing, I’d like to be up there in August on a Sunday.

So, a video is to come later one when it is finally uploaded to YouTube, and on Monday the President Grant 2 should be here on my desk.


73 de 26CT730

Friday 11 July 2014

President Grant 2 arrival–an update

My new President Grant 2 is due to arrive on Monday, as I’ll be out most of that day I have made alternative arrangements for it’s delivery, it will be arriving with a couple of PL259 plugs and 100 meters of RG-58 coax, a lot of this will be used for the construction of a T2LT antenna.

As luck will have it, the courier company responsible for delivering the shack computer’s new motherboard, CPU and RAM will also be delivering the Grant 2, so they should not struggle to find my address.

The first thing I will be doing when I get the package is bringing the radio, in it’s box, into the shack, I will have to clear a few things off the desk first but that is no hard feat.

Now I have a whole weekend of something to look forward to :)


73 de 26CT730

President Grant 2 on it's way

In just a few days time the President Grant 2 will be the latest radio in my shack.  The Grant 2 seems to be the most popular radio for the new legal modes, though in export it can only do frequencies ending 0 or 5.

So, watch this space, my own first look at what is my very first President radio, though not my first Uniden as that was an old Audioline 341 that I borrowed in the early 2000s (who's owner messed with all the adjustments inside in front of me, that same indvidual probably thinks SSB is still illegal), will be on here soon

73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 9 July 2014

First post from rebuilt shack computer

I have taken the time to install Windows Live Writer on the shack computer now it is running fine, this will allow me to post to the blog without having to actually log in to Blogger, however I may still do that when I am not at this computer, for example I am at my laptop.

All appears to be working well, as noted in my earlier post. the ShackCam is also under test again to ensure that it works fine with this computer so it will be running overnight for a little while, so you may see the shack but not me in it, though I am at time of posting given the title of this post

So, perhaps now I will be in the shack a bit more, I left the Internet chat rooms that were causing me some serious issues with my health, the time may as well be put to better use.


73 de 26CT730

Shack computer rebuilt

The shack computer has been rebuilt and the stop-gap hard disk installed and an OS running on it, though this was not without it's problems

Firstly the boot loader on the hard disk failed to work as it should have, rendering it useless, so I reinstalled Windows 7, however once I had Windows 7 and the network card drivers installed I went to open Internet Explorer to download Google Chrome, which is perfectly normal, however something went wrong and the system ended up infected with what appeared to be ransomware (along the lines of your system is locked until you pay a £100 fine for looking at things you should not be), it was easily determined that it was ransomware by virtue of atrocious grammar used in the "warning", and incorrect naming of certain organisations, as well as the fact that my other windows systems were not suffering the same issue.

Solution, reformat the hard drive and let the swines that caused the infection just be £100 out of pocket, however this time I decided to err on the side of caution and not open Internet Explorer, and won't be doing so ever again on any system that has been freshly installed, I also have since disabled Internet Explorer.

After that, I installed the FRN client, some logging software, and all that is needed for the RTL-SDR to function as it should, I have yet to install the programming software for my Wouxun KG-UVD1P but will be doing this after dinner.

The old motherboard may be donated to my work as I no longer have a use for it, and it will just be taking up space otherwise, the new board is in fact smaller than the old one surprisingly, I also got a sticker with the CPU which I attached to the front of the case

All in all a hectic few hours to get the system operational but I got there in the end, perhaps next will be the President Grant 2

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Shack computer update

The shack computer's replacement internal components should be arriving at some stage tomorrow, which I rescheduled, however I could have kept it today had I known I'd be stuck in the house today due to ill health.

Sadly however the conversion board for the hard disk has not surfaced, in fact it has not been marked as dispatched, so what I will have to end up doing is using a spare drive I have lying around that is unreliable until the part I need arrives, it does have a suitable version of Windows 7 on it but as the drive is starting to fail (though it does appear to boot) I have little faith in it working properly, it will be fine a stop-gap until the adaptor for the more reliable drive already in the system arrives

Edit: 9:20pm: Maplin have just marked the adaptor to convert the existing Western Digital WD800BB hard disk to work with the SATA ports on the new motherboard as despatched, it will be arriving via normal post and should be small enough to fit through my letterbox so I do not need to be home, if it arrives tomorrow (unlikely but it is possible they sent it but did not mark it as despatched until later) then I will be good, however I suspect it will not arrive here until Thursday or Friday, the computer rebuild will continue as planned regardless of the arrival of the part, the other hard drive being used as a stop-gap.

Judging by the state of my health, I may not be making it out tomorrow either unless I absolutely have to, but with the parts arriving then I won't go mad and will have a better computer in the shack and be able to spend my time there, though I may be fit to leave the house, I also hope that I am not waiting around for the delivery because that is something I seriously dislike.

What will happen is something like as follows

  • Prior to the parts arriving the PMR446 gateway will be shut down and removed, it is on top of the shack computer and it's previous case, the radio will remain in situ, the empty case will also be removed and the shack computer will be unplugged and disassembled.
  • The entire existing innards of the shack computer except the power supply, DVD drive, and hard drive will be removed from the computer and an assessment of the inside of the case made, original RAM from the shack computer will be removed from the original motherboard and set aside for the PMR446 gateway computer as it would act as a suitable replacement, the CMI8738 sound card from the shack computer will be retained
  • The shack computer will then be rebuilt, put into place before the other systems, and configured headless, due to a lack of optical drive (it's incompatible with the new board without the same £12 adaptor the hard drive is due) the drivers will be moved to a flash drive and installed from it.
  • Once configured the empty case will be placed on top of it, following this the RAM from the old board will be installed in the PMR446 gateway computer, hopefully improving performance.
And that should be it, I will, of course, have to remove everything again when the adaptor arrives, my SDR will then perform as it should do, the FRN will work nicely, so will Zello, the ShackCam feed, and whatever else I may need, I'll obviously have to clear everything else off the temporary hard disk first before connecting the network as it's horrifically out of date not being in a live system for some time,

Next to come will be the President Grant 2 all being well (as well as all the things I need for my DXpedition to Tan Hill).

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 6 July 2014

DXpedition preparations, parts list and rough measurements for T2LT antenna, and a possible cheap and light power supply

As I am hoping to order a 100 meter drum of coax, specifically RG58, I have taken some measurements for the T2LT antenna, I may make a second antenna for home if the design proves itself in service, the measurements are those used by YouTube user UKCBTV, a fellow Charlie Tango station (though can't remember the callsign), with a working centre frequency of around 27.500MHz, should cover the legal 80 channels with little in the way of trouble.

Another thing I found while watching UKCBTV's videos was his excellent idea of a portable power supply, which uses 10 1.2v rechargeable batteries, which range in capacities up to 2500mAh, that would be roughly 25Ah at 12v DC, so something I may cobble together, as well as get hold of a decent battery charger plus some new batteries, he also fitted a volt meter, a good idea to ensure voltage is stable and a cigarette lighter line socket, the battery box and cigarette lighter line socket can be sourced from Maplin Electronics, the voltmeter appears to be an eBay purchase.  This idea was compared to the Midland 77-805 Portapak CB radio, which had a battery box with it, handhelds are another option but the battery life in most is usually pretty dire and the rubber duck antenna is usually hopeless.

The current draw for my Midland Alan 78+ Multi B is around 1.1A on TX, presumably at full modulation, the 42 handheld (which includes a car adaptor) is slightly shy of 1A on TX, the President Grant 2 is 3A on TX with modulation. my Moonraker FA5000, which I now hardly use, I do not know the current draw for as I've lost the manual.

So if I can get the T2LT antenna built and tested in the next couple of weeks, I can focus on a suitable power supply, the battery pack idea above from UKCBTV sounds ideal and is cheaper and lighter than the car jump starter I was originally going to use and will get me started, a telescopic fibreglass mast, and, importantly, a shelter, a collapsible tent may suffice, and a means to carry it all on my back while riding my scooter (I don't have a car yet) then I'm  all good to go, and can get on the air portable at Tan Hill hopefully come August time, if you're on air the day I am up there then we may hear each other on air that day, I'll be using the usual callsign

So, progress in the right direction, power lead, a possible electrical supply, and the measurements for the T2LT written down.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 5 July 2014

President Grant 2 to be ordered soon maybe? (also a shack computer update)

I may place an order for a President Grant 2 next week if my finances look good, this will allow me to operate on SSB, in particular on my DXpedition to Tan Hill, however I will see what's what.

The reason I chose the President Grant 2 is several reasons, it is the first legal rig that allows you to switch between the new modes in the UK band (this is a recent update to the firmware in the radio), the radio is fitted with a power socket on the rear that the power lead plugs in to, this is similar to my Moonraker FA5000, a rig I hardly use now.

The President Grant 2 is easy to open up to export mode, inside there's a white wire and a jumper block, simply snip the wire and move the jumper, at the loss of your warranty and and your own risk, you also would lose the UK setting but you can get this back by moving the jumper back to it's original position.

It support's President's Liberty wireless microphone, a great idea that no one really thought of in the past, means you are not tied to sitting in the shack or your /p station, you can take a wander if you like, up to 100 meters I think it is, much like a DECT phone or a bluetooth headset.

Another nice feature of the rig is a choice of two backlight colours, orange and green, which also includes a dimmer so you're not blinding youself with a bright backlight at night.

There are other features as well on the rig but I'll do a full write up when I actually get hold of one, hopefully in a couple of weeks all being well

My shack computer has had a new motherboard, RAM, and CPU ordered for it, this would help with performance with regards to SDR use, there are incompatibility issues with the hard disk, optical drive, and existing graphics card, the hard drive has had an adaptor ordered for it to allow it to continue to work, the optical drive will be rectified later as it's not important at this time, the power supply should be sufficient for the new board, the only card that will be fitted is to be the CMI8738 sound card that the machine already has and that is compatible with the board.

Performance with SDR# has been dire with the RTL-SDR operating, the FRN client does work... just, the shackcam feed isn't really reliable on the machine (it's controlled by it both hardware and software, though I intend to replace this with a network camera,, which will make it software and link), and with plans to do the Amateur radio foundation exam as well I want the machine to reliably handle the Echolink software.  Another radio software installed on the machine is Zello, this runs reasonably OK but I tend not to use it as I use it on my phone more than I do on the computer.

Programming my Wouxun KG-UVD1P has proven unreliable with this machine, upgrading the internal hardware may be sufficient to remedy this (the official software, that is practically incomprehensible, works fine, the easier KG-UV commander doesn't read the radio properly, though it could be a bug with the software rather than the computer).

I should be taking delivery of the motherboard and it's ancillaries by Wednesday at the latest, for fitting that evening, which will take out the 446 gateway for a couple of hours but this is no real issue, the RAM on the existing board, if compatible, will be used in the 446 gateway computer to hopefully try and improve things, the GPU in that machine will also be swapped out with the one in the shack computer as I feel the one currently fitted to it is wasted in it and would be useful in another installation.

So, a better shack computer and maybe, just maybe, a President Grant 2 will be sitting on my shack desk soon, but we will see :)

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 3 July 2014

Planned DXpedition to Tan Hill, an update

I have looked on Google Street View for suitable spots to set up a /p station up at Tan Hill, in front of the pub itself is a car park, with large fields all around, my aim is to set up somewhere out of the way of the pub so I don't upset the landlord and landlady, there is a side road just down from the pub, so I could use a spot just past there, provided I can find somewhere dry, boggy ground could upset various components.

I was thinking a quick to erect tent would make a suitable shelter, of course I'd need to ensure that my antenna coax would reach sufficiently to the radio and my temporary mast wouldn't fall down (I plan to get one that has stays on it that would just fit in the ground much like tent pegs which can simply be removed quickly at the end of the day), as I've already completed a pair of power leads for portable power I simply need a portable power supply, mast, shelter, and antenna, the antenna wouldn't be too difficult to source as it's the T2LT I mentioned in my last post that I will be making, I found a suitable mast on a site that specialises in this kind of equipment, and I can pick up a small, easy to erect, tent from either Yeomans or Mountain Warehouse, the power supply may come from Halfords or Maplin, as a jump starter for car batteries would suffice as these tend to have cigarette lighter sockets, the radio I will use for now will be my Midland 78, as mentioned on my previous post, later I will be investing in a President Grant 2 but whether I use it for this remains to be seen.

My home made power lead is a cigarette lighter plug, a short run of cable (which was already fitted), a ring terminal with a bolt through it for negative, and a terminal block for positive, this would make it exceedingly difficult to reverse the connections as the vast majority of rigs have a ring terminal on their negative line, and I usually fit one to rigs that do not anyway.

I include a picture of the lead in question
This picture was taken in the "shack" not long after I put it together, the radio it is on top of is the same Midland Alan 78 Plus Multi B that I will be using, the bolt came from the metal frame my scooter was delivered in, the terminal block and the power cord itself were both lying around, also on the desk is a coax cable stripper and roll of electrical tape that I did not use and the solder that I used to tin the wires to prevent copper oxidisation occurring.  The "CB 27MHz label on the rig is there so I know what the rig operates on if I don't take a good look at what the rig is but all my mobile type rigs are CB anyway, though the picture shows the radio has  PL259 plugged into it, this goes to a salt water dummy load via an SWR meter.

I made a second lead using the plug off the car kit that came with my early (2007) Intek H-520 Plus, the newer H-520 has one with it and it didn't appear to work as well when I tested it so I figured I may as well, there is no picture of this however but it is similar to the first one except it has a black and red wire per pole.

So, preparations are underway, hopefully I will be up on Tan Hill sometime in August all being well.

73 de 26CT730

SDR improvement, an update

I have taken delivery of the two connectors needed to fit to the top of the lid of the metal container that will hold the RTL-SDR stick and the coolant (which will be vegetable oil), and have set up the USB port to be a type B on the outside of the case, in line with USB specifications and to allow the connector of the RTL-SDR to connect.

The next job I have to do is drill two holes in the lid, one to accommodate the USB connector (which turned out to be a little smaller than I initially thought) and the BNC connector, these will be sealed up with silicone sealant to stop oil escaping through the connectors, the RTL-SDR stick will then be placed inside the can, connected to USB and antenna first, then the can will be filled with oil as far as possible, the lid fitted, and the edges sealed up to prevent leaks.

As I plan to upgrade the motherboard in the machine to a more recent model the shack computer will be used, the board swap will mean a port change and reinstallation the drivers for the stick, this is not a problem for me, I have at least 3 compatible antennas for this new setup, or 4 depending on how you look at it, these are my Nagoya NA-771 2/70 antenna, 2 Intek KA-520 antennas (one is a bit bent but I think it works), and the stock antenna of the Midland 42 (I do not know the manufacturer's designation for it).

The RTL-SDR should run cooler after this and should not drift or require the offset to be changed, also reception without an antenna should be either heavily reduced or eliminated.

so, I can start to get this thing built and will try and order the parts to upgrade the shack computer this weekend, which I have already chosen.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 29 June 2014

Planning a DXpedition to Tan Hill

I am planning a DXpedition to Tan Hill, home of the highest pub in England, my plan is to take a rig, battery rated around 10Ah, may get a bigger one (my scooter's battery is 7Ah and I need that to power my scooter's starter motor so I cannot use that), or a portable jump-starter with a 12 volt outlet, I just need a collapsible pole and antenna, I plan to make up what is called a T2LT for this purpose.  This is inspired by others going up hills to do this, and Tan Hill makes a good place, I'm sure the Amateurs would like it too, and best of all there's a pub up there for food and drink

Update: Listening to GB3IR, the 2m repeater in Richmond, this evening (I obviously cannot transmit as I don't hold an Amateur license yet) the Amateurs that were on air have mentioned Tan Hill so they actually have used it themselves for HF work, so I am not the first nor am I the last.

The pub itself stands at 1732ft ASL, so the location is pretty much perfect for radio, especially DXing on both 27MHz and 446MHz (I may give the latter a go as well depending on how much charge is in my radios, though I can charge them up prior to the event and take spare batteries, but my aim is to try on 27MHz, as it is sat around spare and it the better of the three mobile rigs I own I will use the Midland 78+ Multi B (the TTI TCB550 is on gateway duties so won't be removed and the Moonraker FA5000 has an awful s-meter and cannot do AM, as AM is now legal and my Midland 78 Plus is type approved for use in the EU as far as I can tell it is legal to use on AM here, for the full 4-watt output on AM, it is required to put the radio into the setting for Spanish channels as these use 26.965-27.405 AM and FM at 4 watts.

My new Sony headphones and my converter will also be going with me, just for those stations I may not hear easily, laptop, maybe, though a notepad would allow me to write down callsigns, I simply need to pick up a portable power supply (a battery and volt meter may be sufficient as a temporary measure until I can get something better), a telescopic or collapsible pole, and an antenna, preferably of the T2LT type.

I may also look into picking up a President Grant II CB radio, as I hear these are very good indeed, and I've wanted a President CB radio for a while now, but until then I will just use my Midland 78+ Multi B.

One thing that I intend to do is take an SWR meter, my good quality Zetagi combo SWR and power meter will be ideal for this role, my cheaper two aren't brilliant, one has a needle that is not as precise as it should be and the other sometimes likes to stick, one of these is connected to my home antenna system for the CB gateway as the radio is also connected to it and I need to monitor if the tuner is working as it should be on occasions.

on PMR446 the antenna will be screwed into the radio, so no meters, coax, or anything else.

If I take the computer I may take the RTL-SDR and use it with another antenna, provided I don't overload it with my own transmissions.

So, I'll post an update as and when this DXpedition takes place, Tan Hill is there, I might as well use it for radio.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 28 June 2014

Overclocking the shack computer... follow up

As it turns out, the motherboard in the shack computer is so horrifically useless that it doesn't like to be overclocked at all, it will, for a short while, but then it will revert back to default clock settings, so a new board is in order as I cannot use this machine for RTL-SDR reliably.

So, the next option is to replace the motherboard with a new one, not what I wanted to do but I appear to have little choice in the matter, lets hope the old motherboard actually comes out, if not I have another case I can use, if it works as it should I should have a better shack computer sometime soon.

73 de 26CT730

Overclocking the shack computer

Because the shack computer is proving a bit lagging performance wise, I have taken the decision to overclock it until it's internal components can be brought in line with up-to-date standards (it's a Pentium 4).

Overclocking is a process to make a chip, in this case a computer's CPU, run at a higher speed than it should, the idea is to get more performance out of a chip, sadly though this causes a heat increase and can risk damage to the component, and manufacturers never accept warranty claims through damage caused by overclocking.

I hope I can get the CPU to run at a stable speed and the machine performs better, I'll let you know

73 de 26CT730

Friday 27 June 2014

AM and SSB legal day

A nice positive post in contrast to the negative one earlier

I have been reading on the varied success and lack of it by various people on some radio forums I frequent now it is legal day, and I am somewhat pleased with the turnout however sadly I could not join them due to lack of an external antenna (my loft antenna only can do a couple of miles and AM would probably have broken through on neighbour's equipment in such close proximity).

I will try and get hold of a collapsible portable antenna and a BNC to SO239 connector and a short run of coax to connect to one of my handhelds, as well as a spare set of batteries and give AM a go now I can legally do so (I could also use my scooter's battery with the antenna adaptor for my Midland Alan 42 but I have to remember that I will need to run the scooter's engine), and will log whatever contacts I make, in fact on a quiet weekend I can go up to Tan Hill and do exactly this as it's a lovely high spot in which to work from.

I'll let you know how I get on and I look forward to many contacts using AM, SSB isn't an option yet for me..

73 de 26CT730

comments disabled

After receiving a nasty, yet empty and laughable, threat from a psychopath I have disabled comments until further notice, I run my websites and blogs to inform and I understand there are those that will not agree with me, but threats will NOT be tolerated.
Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause
73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 25 June 2014

SDR improvement

After seeing an article on the RTL-SDR blog and a more detailed article on the SDR for Mariners blog I decided that to eliminate the excess heat (and by association the excess frequency drift) I would use a cooling method from this page, immerse stick in can of cooking oil.

This cooling method hast two plus-points

  1. The liquid is not conductive and no damage to the stick should occur
  2. The can will act as a faraday cage, the SDR alone contains no metal screen and picks up everything in it's surrounding environment easily without an antenna (I tried this with a CB radio connected to a home brew dummy load in close proximity with the gain at 0, it picked it up with little problem), in a metal enclosure it should not pick up anything
The can I have chosen is the largest golden syrup tin I could find, I have chose to modify this with two connectors, BNC for the antenna (this will be of the 50Ω impedance, rather than the 75Ω the dongle would expect but a mismatch shouldn't be an issue, to allow compatibility with scanner antennas), and a Neutrik NAUSB-W chassis mount USB port set up with the "B" side on the outside of the tin and the "A" side inside to connect the dongle to.

These will be sealed with silicone to stop the oil leaking out of the connectors and to keep air out.

I'll report back on how this works, apparently it works quite well according to what I have read.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 19 June 2014

ShackCam updates

My ShackCam, the webcam feed of my "shack" (the corner of my living room where all my radio gear lives (normally)) has been under test for about 11 days and the only change I have made to the setup in that time is set up the webcam capture programme to start when the computer starts, the camera itself remains the JVC Everio camcorder, it will be replaced with a Raspberry Pi, using the Pi camera board, on my local network in the coming weeks to free up the camcorder for other uses, the replacement camera will also be subject to tests.

Those that have viewed the ShackCam won't have seen much of me in there as I've been finalising other things in my new better life after the unpleasantness at the hands of Internet psychopaths who have thankfully left me alone for two weeks now, but I will be on air more often very soon, and of course in the shack, and now the nicer weather has come around I might take to the hill and make the trip up to Bishop Auckland to do my Amateur radio exam in the next few weeks.

Don't worry, I don't just simply put the camera on without being in there, I will be in there.

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 17 June 2014

AM and SSB CB legal on 27th June (and a Scooter CB update)

The good news is that Ofcom have made their decision and have given a date for legal AM and SSB CB, 27th June, earlier than the expected July but in time for it.

The regulations have specified 4 watts on both AM and FM, current multi-standard sets have both AM and FM modes of operation, the President Grant II is the ONLY current mobile radio on the market that meets the legal standard for SSB operation on the CEPT (midband) frequencies, pre-legalisation sets will still remain illegal, as will "export" radios, for use on these bands.

The UK only band with it's horrific offset will remain in use and FM only for the foreseeable future.

SSB operation is set at 12 Watts PEP

This is 30+ years in the making, with me not having a proper CB station as yet (my antenna is in the loft) using AM and SSB may cause massive problems to both me and my neighbours, using FM is fine, I also tend to use the antenna for the gateway, though I have transmitted by plugging the supplied mic into the gateway radio, though this has normally been for SWR adjustments so they don't really count, so my first legal AM and SSB call may not be for a while just yet.

The scooter CB project is taking shape, yesterday was it's first outing and run as a CB radio, the main problem I identified was QRM from the engine, possibly the ignition coil or sparkplug given the sound of the interference, the only other issue was difficulty pulling in the gateway from a distance but that could be down to the gateway itself, it could also be down to the testing on the radio's rubber-duck antenna, a full mobile antenna will be fitted in due course, I couldn't do a proper inaugural mobile call to the CB gateway, as by the time I was in range to actually here it others on the FRN came over but it was nice to hear the "k" and the morse code idents.

So, I'll be on air mobile soon, and CB radio operators all over the country (the serious ones at least) will be celebrating the introduction of AM and SSB CB radio on the 27th June, and with the band opening some I can imagine contacts to the US will be possible, we can legally talk to them but they may not legally be able to talk to us because of some rule the FCC impose, I for one look forward to it

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 15 June 2014

Scooter CB, modified headset tests

Having modified the headset connector cable in a different manner to what I would have liked, though using more or less the same principle, I put it under a couple of tests to see if it did exactly what I hoped it would do and I am pleased to report that it indeed works properly, the modifications were as follows:
  1. The cable between the PTT button and  the radio was cut before a join in the cable that has 4 cables coming out of it, the PTT wires were then closed and taped over,
  2. The cut section was then prepared to go into a new section between the mic jack of the radio and the mic plug on the headset
  3. A new connection was made, this was built using some spare wire I had lying about, two new 2.5mm connections, one plug, one socket, the PTT switch disconnecting the tip of the 2.5mm socket when not pressed, and reconnecting it when the button is pressed
As a result, the Midland Alan 42 Multi handheld that will be the scooter CB now switches between transmit and receive correctly, this means I simply need to add the antenna, EGP, and a cable to connect them to the radio, and I'll be on the air on my scooter in no time, all in all I am impressed with what I have achieved, I can also swap out the current lead for a Kenwood-type for my Wouxun dual-band handheld in the future should I wish to use mobile on the scooter it once licensed on the amateur bands

I look forward to testing it out on a proper antenna.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 12 June 2014

an innovative idea

With the motorcycle helmet headset not working as it should be with the Midland 42 I had an idea that might work to solve the problem.

Firstly would be to place a loopback plug into the PTT button connector on the wiring for the helmet headset and waterproof this with Sugru.

Next, create a new adaptor using a 2.5mm plug for the radio and a 2.5mm socket for the existing plug on the headset connector cable, this adaptor would contain a new connection point for the handlebar PTT, all the wire joins will be sealed with heatshrink tubing to keep them as water tight as possible.

Once the above adaptor is made, test this with both the Midland and Intek to ensure compatibility, then further test to see if it can be left in situ for use with PMR446 radios, it should be the case that it can be, if not this modification is designed to be removed easily, as Sugru is simply silicone it should remove as easily as silicone sealant.

This will be done this coming weekend, in the mean time I will be testing the CB's audio quality using the earpieces, I can listen to the CB gateway for this.

more to come

73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Another scooter CB progress report

Having fitted the earpieces and mic to my motorcycle helmet, I plugged the headset into the supplied cable wired for the radio and found a small problem.

With the cable disconnected from the headset, the PTT functions normally, that is press to TX, release to RX, however, connect the headset to the radio, all is changed, the Midland 42 goes into TX with no power, and pressing the PTT applies the power, this does not occur on my Intek MT-5050, which is a PMR446 set, and running mic-only with the Midland 42 does not eliminate the issue.

The headset is getting a trial run today to see how it handles an actual trip on the road, I may connect the Midland 42, possibly speaker-only, and monitor traffic on the CB gateway channel.

I also intend to connect up the car adaptor temporarily in order to ascertain if the TX issue is eliminated with the earthing of the scooter, if so, then I won't need to modify the headset in any way, otherwise I'll need to modify it as such so that a second switch is needed in order to transmit.

I will report back later

73 de 26CT730

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Scooter CB: progress report

The scooter CB project reached another milestone today, the arrival of the motorcycle helmet headset, interestingly made by Albrecht, which is part of the same group of companies as Midland, something I note because the radio is a Midland Alan 42 Multi

The headset came in two parts, the radio connection part with PTT switch, a Kenwood type also exists so I could simply replace this for the Kenwood type to use my Wouxun KG-UVD1P on the Amateur bands once licensed, and the headset itself which is two speakers and a microphone held in by velcro pads.

The connections are all quick to make and disconnect, the PTT uses a DC type connector to connect it to the headset, the headset itself connects using a mini-DIN connector (looks to be 6 pin), and at the radio end there are two plugs, 2.5mm mono for the microphone and 3.5mm stereo (though seemingly wired mono) for the speakers, these are not a combined plug however, they are separate plugs, but this does not cause any issues otherwise.

The earpieces will be fitted to my motorcycle helmet either this evening or later in the week, further progress will be made later on once I have ordered antenna parts and they have been delivered, but I can still do a test run with the headset inside my helmet and a radio with me, weather pending because radios don't like water very much and you know what the British weather is like

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 8 June 2014

26CT730 ShackCam once again operational

The ShackCam is now once again operational, however I am testing it so it may go on and off intermittently during the course of the day and it won't be shut down overnight.

The link to view it is on the right as always, and as always it is a JVC camcorder fed by a Dazzle DVC100 frame grabber, however I am looking to cobble together a WiFi network camera with better quality than the Dazzle can offer (the JVC camcorder is otherwise pretty good video wise), a network camera will also offer flexibility as if I need the camcorder for it's intended use the ShackCam doesn't need to be reinstated.

But for now it's running, I'm not in the shack at time of writing but I will be on and off through the day.

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 7 June 2014

Scooter CB, proposed antenna arrangements and a bit more updates

Now, the scooter will need an antenna fitting, however it needs an artificial groundplane, and there are at least two options.

The first option is to use the Sirio GL27, this comes with a mirror bar mount and thus would mount onto the scooter's luggage rack, however this antenna is supplied with a cable that cannot be cut short thus making installation somewhat difficult without raising the antenna high up, not ideal as I cover my scooter every night and need an antenna that will fold out of the way.

Option number two is one of those electronic ground plane devices from, this is a plasic cylindrical device that an antenna with a 3/8 thread screws into the top of, and the coax cable screws into underneath, I can simply fit this inside the top box and the antenna screws into the mount on the outside of the top box with the cable exiting underneath.

After running the loading test the other week (and at the same time proving a man who likes to claim he knows everything about motorcycles and likes to call himself "Goliath" when that isn't even his real name as being completely and utterly wrong) I am free to move onto the commissioning of the scooter CB, it will be ideal as it means I'll be able to use the 27MHz Free Radio Network gateway in Richmond, and perhaps do proper range testing with it as I have not had that chance.

With a major cause of problems for me now out of the way my focus can return to radio and the like, I am currently monitoring my PMR446 gateway at the time of writing this, and feel quite relaxed compared to what I normally would, it even now means I have no contact with the above mentioned "Goliath" who claimed my scooter's alternator would struggle with the load of a CB radio.

So more airtime for me in the coming months, and maybe eventually in the next couple of years I can have a house with a garden big enough for my antennas, which I'd like.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 5 June 2014

Closer to legal AM and SSB CB.

Ofcom, the regulator of all things radio and television here in the UK, have released a draft interface requirement document suggesting that AM and SSB will become legal on CB in the UK in July as planned, this can be found here and outlines what will be allowed if this document moves beyond draft status in July.

Of course as I like to keep a copy should this become law I will need to take a printout of it.

So, we are almost there and we will have legally what the CB lobby in the late 70s and early 80s wanted, the American system or as close to it as possible, this is almost 33 years too late though, but at least someone somewhere decided that there was nothing wrong with AM and SSB.

73 de 26CT730

Monday 26 May 2014

private listening issues and progress with the scooter CB

Now, as anyone in the radio communications hobby will know, pretty much every transceiver and scanner is set up as such to have a mono audio output, meaning plugging in a pair of headphones results in a dead left or right earphone, and for me this always causes a level of discomfort.

Today I purchased a pair of Sony MDR-V150 headphones, I have another pair of Sony headphones and have found them to work wonders, if you want good headphones, buy Sony headphones, of course plugging them into my radio resulted in there being one-side not working, not ideal if you want to use them with your radio, so here is what I did.

I used a piece of cable with a TS plug of the sort normally used to connect external speakers into rigs, the bare ends of the wire were soldered into a scrap of veroboard on which I fitted two resistors, originally at 10k Ohm but I reduced this to 1k Ohm as the 10k resistors made it such that I had to turn the volume on the rig and handhelds full up to hear anything when I tested it, I may use lower resistors but the 1k resistors are fine for the moment, the other side is a suitable socket for connecting any pair of headphones, even the earbud type, for this purpose it doesn't matter if the left and right are wired to either resistor the audio is mono from the rig and simply being split to both channels on the headphones, it's a fairly simple solution and cost me nothing as I had all the parts in stock already for at least one such adaptor, possibly two.

The scooter CB issue was approached today since the weather had dried up, QRM only appeared to be present when the starter motor was turning over, with the scooter's engine running QRM was not present, nor was it conducted through the cigarette lighter socket that I had fitted, and load on the scooter's generator was not an issue, even during transmit, this last issue was brought up with me some time ago when an idiot decided to tell me that I didn't know what I was doing and there was no way the generator would handle the load, as the Midland Alan 42 Multi is only a handheld it is designed to be quite energy efficient yet still work as well as a normal mobile rig, and the generator never once complained, even with the scooter's lights on, so an antenna and a motorcycle helmet headset are next on my list for that as of today.

So I am almost on air at home and mobile, and hopefully this week I can begin the journey to licensed amateur.

73 de 26CT730

Friday 23 May 2014

Getting back on the air

After some unpleasantness in other places lately I have decided the best place for me would be on air and as such should be going back on air in the next few days, this is especially true now I have both Zello and GRNclient on both my phone and tablet.

The next day or two will be to get my shack in some kind of order so I can sit at the desk and use the radios in there, as well as reinstate the shack computer, this will be the computer currently in use for the CB gateway once a suitable USB to serial converter is sourced so I can use my damaged laptop for the CB gateway, I might be able to do this, as well as pick up a backpack suited to carrying my broken laptop, over this weekend, I may also pick up a ground-loop isolator for the PMR446 gateway as that has had ground loop issues for some time now and I've not found time to fix it.

Another objective to have by July is to pass my Amateur foundation exam, I will be sending an email to a local-ish amateur radio club that offers the training in the next week or two, I plan to fit this in on weekends.

I also will continue to investigate the possibility of CB radio on my scooter, I can order an antenna with artificial ground plane this weekend if funds are sufficient or alternatively just an EGP to screw in a normal antenna to, though I can still use PMR446 if CB is not an option.

The CB gateway has been put through a little bit of a test, as it's not been on air for some time, and it seems to still be transmitting and receiving within it's normal parameters, the only issue is my heating thermostat operating like a spark-gap therefore I cannot run the heating and the CB gateway at the same time, in the summer months it generally isn't an issue but in the winter months it may be, though the CB gateway is generally only on air when I am out.

And that is it really, just now leaves me to get on the air soon :)

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 18 May 2014

FRN client on Android

For some time now there has been a Free Radio Network client for Android doing the rounds known as GRNClient, and in that time I have never been able to get it to work, until now.

I purchased a hudl this week, this is a £119 Android tablet sold exclusively by British supermarket chain Tesco, and is as near as makes no difference a stock device aside from a Tesco button on the bottom left of the screen.

The GRNClient app is not available in Google Play, you have to download the apk file, allow the device to install from unknown sources, and then you can install it.

Given that some of the example screens are in Italian on the website it comes from I'll post some English screen captures here from my Samsung Galaxy S4 as it is yet to have the GRN client installed at time of posting and this makes a perfect excuse to do so.

  1. Allow the phone or tablet to install from unknown sources, you do this by:

    Selecting "Security"

    Ticking "Unknown sources"

    and tapping "OK"

  2. Next you want to download the client, click here, the page will be in Italian so you can translate it if you wish, scroll to the bottom and you will find a QR code, if you have a barcode scanner on your device simply scan this, if not there are free barcode scanners on Google Play that you can use.
  3. Click the link the barcode scanner gives you, it will look like this, or you can simply press "open browser and it should download.
  4. The download will be in the notifications at the top of the device's screen, pull it down and tap the apk
    You will be presented with the following
    Tap "Install" to install the app, you should then see install progress like this

    And when it is done it will then give you the option to open the app like this

    Tap "Open"
  5. With the app started you need to do some final things before it can work, you will be presented with this screen
This is the screen that will display other clients in the net on the server that you are in, you need to press menu, this will present the following options

If you tap "Settings", you will get something similar to the following
All you need to do now is fill in the information, be aware, however, that you must specify a port number if it is not 10024 or the client will crash, for example if you were to connect to 446Muppets (where my gateways are) you would need to enter the address as normal but add :10025 to the end, this is the port, I figured this out through some trial and error.

And that is it, now you can use your tablet or phone on the Free Radio Network like you would your shack computer, you may find that for best results you should plug in a headset.

Remember to test in the Test room first, use the messages option to send message to start the parrot if you need to.

73 de 26CT730