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Saturday 28 February 2015

New radios arrived

Today I went out before the arrival of the gas engineer to collect the Leixen VV-898, and indeed it is a compact rig.

As I was starting to programme it and see what it was able to do, I received a notification that the CRT SS9900 was ready to be collected, so I got in the car and made the trip to the collection point, giving the Baofeng handheld it's final outing in the car and on the mobile antenna.

The SS9900 was put on to an ATX power supply to allow me to programme it, this is because there would not be enough current delivery from the bench power supply for this rig and also I had already connected the VV-898 to that supply.

The next part is to install both these radios to the car, the SS9900, due to it's heavy current drain once I am licensed to use such high powers, has to be connected to the battery, the VV-898 has a lower current drain so can use the existing wiring for the Midland CB save for the negative feed, the VV-898 will be fastened in place with double-sided tape as it's very light, the SS9900 will use self-tapping bolts much like the Midland currently does.

So in a week I should have passed my exam and a little while after that should be on the air

73 de 26CT730

Friday 27 February 2015

Updates on new radios

I have updates on the new radios arriving very soon, they are as follows.

The Leixen VV-898 is currently at my local sorting office pending collection, tomorrow I have an extremely small time frame in which to collect the rig and return it here, the CRT SS9900 I have not received notification for yet, this may come over the weekend however it may come on Monday instead.

The Leixen should be going in the car this weekend after a gas inspection that I am overdue, the CRT may be delayed in installation due to late delivery, though it should be done by the time I am licensed, this will mean the Midland will have to be removed from the car as there will be no room for it though this should not be a major task.

Both radios will be connected to the shack computer for programming to make them a little more user friendly, tomorrow I start with the Leixen, hopefully by Monday I will have the CRT as well.

Tomorrow is a week before the exam, the coming week will be long, very long.

73 de 26CT730

Thursday 26 February 2015

New radios on order

I have put on order 2 new radios, the CRT SS9900 (which is the AnyTone AT6666 with CRT badges on it) and the Leixen VV-898, which I decided to bring forward so I could have it in the car and not carry the Baofeng or a fiddly adaptor around.

I have had the CRT SS9900 ordered for collection at an undisclosed location nearby, the Leixen will be mailed to me as per normal (though may have to be picked up one morning from the sorting office), these will be installed at the first available opportunity in the car.

All prepared for my foundation pass so I can get on air immediately when my license is in effect.

73 de 26CT730

Monday 23 February 2015

2/70 antenna tests

Having the new 2/70 antenna on the car in readiness for the Leixen VV-898 and my foundation pass I connected up my Baofeng (with the speaker mic for better audio) and left it tuned to GB3IR to see how well this antenna works for receive at the very least, as the repeater was not in use all I had to rely on was the periodic idents and any incoming connections from Echolink, as I was leaving Northallerton I heard the repeater announce that it was there, a few miles closer I heard an incoming Echolink connection followed by a timeout alert a few minutes thereafter, seems it's working on receive, the real test will be on the VV-898 which will be the permanent 2/70 rig for the car as my Baofeng is for when I am not mobile.

Overall I am satisfied the antenna is working for receive, transmit will be checked when I am licensed

73 de 26CT730

Saturday 21 February 2015

Temporary 2/70 antenna on car

After my last post I went out today and picked up a small antenna capable of transmit on 2-meters and 70cm, this antenna has not upset the CB antenna in any way but it has not had it's SWR checked for obvious reasons, though it should be fine to get me on the air when I have my license and have checked the SWR.

I connected the antenna up to my Baofeng, and it does work on receive, although most frequencies that I did check seemed to be dead at the time so not a good way to test the new antenna.

As I am driving over to Northallerton on Monday night I can see if it can pull in GB3IR from that distance, I see no reason why not though as it is,in typical repeater fashion, located high up for best coverage possible, it also depends on the radio, which will be the Baofeng, and how well that can also pull in the signals, the antenna cable is RG174/U rather than RG58 and the magmount is the size of a 10p or as near as makes no difference this size, but it is a powerful magnet so should hold onto the car with no problems.

I'll post results on Monday

73 de 26CT730

Leixen VV-898 compact mobile VHF/UHF radio

I became aware of a gem of a radio on the Charlie Tango forums, the Leixen VV-898, this radio is extremely compact so will fit in the smallest of spaces in the smallest of cars, and it is perfect for the foundation license holder in that it is maximum power of 10 watts.

Originally I was going to use my Wouxun in the car, however after seeing this rig it meant I could have something a little more permanent, the theory is that I should be able to use this radio to get into GB3IR from a little further away, this is in part due to my Wouxun only putting out 5 watts on VHF and 4 watts on UHF, my recently acquired Baofeng is similar in this regard.

Wiring this new rig into the car should not be that difficult, it wasn't for the CB though the power cables were too short, so I don't see any major issue with this rig, I will more than likely need some new reels of wire from Halfords though.

This rig retails at less than £100, Moonraker sell it for £99 give or take, Martin Lynch & Sons sell it for £90 with a programming cable or £80 without, though to be honest the story is always the same with all these Chinese radios, buy a programming cable.

This radio, like all the Chinese made VHF/UHF radios, can transmit on the PMR446 frequencies with the correct steps, but you do this at your own risk, I take no responsibility for illegal use of radio equipment.

With two weeks left to go before my foundation exam (yes, it's two weeks today) I have decided that once I pass (which I have every confidence that I will) I will get this rig ordered the same day, installed by the following weekend, with the antenna SWR check done at Whashton Road car park as per my usual routine for setting up mobile rigs, unless the proximity to GB3IR causes problems, which it should not do, or I have not received the needed information from RSGB before that date to get my license from Ofcom, I have, however, found out that these radios, or at least more recent ones, are equipped with a BNC connector as opposed to an SO239, this means an adaptor will be needed, but I can deal with that when I need to.

I will post a quick video to YouTube as well

Another rig to show up for me soon will be the Anytone AT6666 as I plan to order one of these when I get paid next week, probably with another YouTube video as well.

73 de 26CT730

Sunday 15 February 2015

SDR mod complete (or kind of)

My RTL-SDR stick is now inside it's tin submerged in Aldi's own brand cooking oil (other discount supermarkets are available) and it seems to work fine and drift appears to be reduced greatly, there is one issue that occurred however.

The Neutrik USB connector and BNC connector are both coated with silicone sealant underneath, though it does not react with cooking oil the connectors aren't properly sealed and leak by a small amount when the lid is pressed on, not good, to remedy this I have decided to use Sugru, which may require me to temporarily remove the lid of the can to deal with, around the outside edges of the connectors.

The stick has little noise (due to a mod to the cable between the "A" side of the Neutrik and the stick itself, the shielding of the tin, and, of course, the cooling, it is currently placed on my bedroom windowsill and connected using a high quality Belkin USB cable.

Reception wise so far, as I am temporarily utilising the Nagoya NA-771 antenna, has been GB3IR, PMR446 channel 1 (which I was using for some tests to check drift and at the same time was in use by children as is normally the case), CB channel UK19 (me again for drift tests), the PPM correction ONLY had to be reduced.

This whole idea came from SDR for Mariners and the author seems to be bang on the money here, the stick can't get that hot if in oil, refrigeration may help further.

To make the most of the SDR I will naturally need a better antenna, the NA-771 is a 2/70 antenna, meaning it is only any good in VHF and UHF frequencies, and doesn't make a good scanner antenna, so that may need rectification.

In the mean time I think it's best to stress test the stick in its new enclosure.

73 de 26CT730

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Assessments done, exam to do

All my Amateur radio foundation assessments were completed last night, this means I can now sit my exam on the 7th March, this will take place at the club as per the norm.

Though I've taken exams before this, as this is on subject matter I know reasonably well I am very confident that I will pass, all I need to do is remember the golden rule, read the questions.

I should find out on the day if I have passed but won't get an official result until my exam paper is marked by RSGB, once I have an official result I can get my license (online for free) and join in the Sunday 2m net on GB3IR as I know all those that normally take part in it from the club and it would be a good start, also I can then sort out setting up Echolink, I already have the app (that's how confident I am) and just need to send them a valid license which I should have in March

At the club we have an HF rig so I may use that as well for some other contacts if it's on frequencies I am allowed to use, with the power turned down to what I can use of course if using my own callsign rather than that of the club.

This will be a long month to wait but my next step is Intermediate which I will begin as soon as I can do so.

73 de 26CT730/(watch this space)