Click here for the Ban PLT website.

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