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Wednesday 28 September 2016


Well, the possibly fictitious Baofeng DM-5R apparently has a problem...

Delboy has reported on his radio blog that customers who have ordered this radio have received an email saying the supplied firmware has a bug that makes upgrading it for Tier II (which I believe is needed for DMR repeaters) may brick the radio requiring it be sent back to Baofeng for repair.

They offer the option for the customer to wait until the firmware bug has been ironed out, as well as the option to receive the radio as-is and cancel the order, needless to say I have not ordered it as I don't trust I'll get a radio as it just looks far too much like a standard UV-5R just with all the buttons coloured black except the side button above the PTT.

Sooo... I'm still not convinced it is a real radio, and Radioddity aren't convincing me either, again if it is real it will be on my YouTube and also the video will be here, I will be keeping a very close eye on this, new radios coming to the market often pass me by but this one stuck out like a sore thumb, probably because it's reportedly DMR, but also because there is the possibility it isn't real.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong in the next month or two, maybe I'll be proven right.

73 de M6RSQ

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Baofeng DM-5R, the plot thickens

The price of the supposed Baofeng DM-5R has gone up in the last few days at Radioddity according to Delboy's Radio Blog  since "launch" to around the US$90 mark ($89.99 in fact), still cheaper than the well established TYT UHF DMR handheld that is known to exist.

This still does not make me believe the radio is real though, until I see a working model online, even in the hands of Simon The Wizard or Dave M0OGY as the both of them I regard with anything to do with radios, I also have regard for Delboy as he is an active member of a lot of radio forums.

Once I know the radio to be real I should have one in the shack, and then upgraded for Tier 2 so it would work with DMR repeaters (none in my locale though because of complicated reasons) as well as properly registered for use on the DMR systems, though my initial tests will probably be into a dummy load with an RTL-SDR doing the RX and decode.

73 de M6RSQ

UPDATE: At the time of writing this they are, ironically, out of stock, perhaps they are out of stock because the product does not exist? Who knows? In the next week or so we'll find out.

Sunday 25 September 2016

DMR Baofeng? Surely not...

I have learned from Delboy's Radio Blog that there may be a DMR Baofeng, that looks suspiciously like a photoshopped UV-5R, may be about to be released, Delboy found this on QRZ Now, and seemed to not be convinced it was real, and to be honest nor am I, even after seeing an alleged instruction manual and programming software for the radio from QRZ Now.

The radio is like a UV-5R in pretty much every way, except for the DMR side, it is dual-band, 5 watts, and cheap, if this radio truly exists I would consider it as I've found the normal UV-5R to be a decent radio (I have a UV-5RC Plus which is essentially a UV-5R in a different exterior), though a dual-band DMR radio isn't a lot of use in the UK as I understand all DMR activity is on 70cm, it is reportedly able to transmit analogue FM so it isn't a total loss.

The price, about £50ish but don't quote me on that, that also came from external sources.

If you want a DMR for cheap, that actually exists, then the TYT Hytera clone is the best you're going to get, though if this Baofeng radio is real, how long before Baofeng pull off something that works on D-STAR and possibly even System Fusion? Probably never but I'm sure Baofeng are aware their main market share in the west is Amateur radio operators, I've only ever once seen Baofeng radios being used outside the Amateur radio and hobby radio world, these were BF-888s owned by a karting track in Middlesbrough.

If this radio is real, expect me to get hold of one as soon as they hit UK soil and there will be a video on YouTube (and of course here) as soon as the whole DMR side is working as it is not a case of buying it, charging it up, and pressing the button.

On closing, I will be at the Hamfest this Saturday, looking for cheap radio bargains and also probably having a chat with the representatives from Yaesu to find out if there is anything new coming to System Fusion in the foreseeable future, and also, as the release date in the US for this mystery Baofeng is tomorrow, perhaps I may find it, but maybe not as it may not be real and someone out there is incredibly bored

73 de M6RSQ

Saturday 17 September 2016

ShackCam progress

As you will know I am working on building a dedicated camera for the ShackCam out of a Raspberry Pi Zero, the current incarnation of the Pi Camera (I have the original Pi Camera which I am reserving for another project anyway), and a £1 dummy CCTV camera which has been gutted (with it simply being an LED, some wires, and a switch).

The initial idea for this was to use Raspbian and Motion to run the camera, sending the stream out to the programme on the shack computer that I used previously with the Dazzle and the JVC Everio camcorder, however I found a suitable operating system for the Pi that will allow me to dispense with the complicated setup procedure, motionEyeOS.

For the Raspberry Pi this has a unique feature called Fast Network Cam, with it I can stream the camera output to the shack computer over the existing WiFi network with minimal setup, naturally I will set this up before the ShackCam goes into it's final place so I can see an output while I move the camera about and see where it is best being positioned to get the best view of the shack.

I've also made some changes to the web page the image is displayed on, firstly a Copyright notice that had gone missing during a previous edit some time ago was reinstated, secondly the "about" page was linked to as the hyperlink went missing at some point in time, this is set to open a new tab, tested to work in Chrome (computer, tablet and phone versions) and Microsoft Edge (computer and phone version) though in the computer version of Edge the link to the about page is not very visible due to the blue background I chose for the page until after you open it, but I doubt many people are actually using Edge anyway so I won't bother to fix it, as I cannot test on other browsers I can't guarantee the page will work as intended, but as long as the browser can handle HTML properly you should be fine.

I was also thinking about putting on a mobile ShackCam as well for those occasions I am working portable but of course that would depend on me getting suitable 3G coverage at portable locations, the Everio would not last more than 90 minutes doing this and I'd need a machine I could run off a battery for a long time, the Raspberry Pi's energy usage makes this a suitable candidate again with a Pi Camera and the above OS if possible, worth looking at, this will be added to the ShackCam page if I go ahead with it, I may pick up a 3G or 4G compatible router for this and utilise the Pi3's onboard WiFi again if I decide to go ahead with it, though as the year is progressing I may not do any portable operating for a while.

The improved home ShackCam should be operational sometime next month after the National Hamfest.

73 de M6RSQ/26CT730

Sunday 4 September 2016

A bit of radio activity this afternoon

I took a drive up to my usual radio playground at the top of the hill, my intent was some more System Fusion activity and another go on WIRES-X, sadly this did not work in my favour as no one answered my simplex or repeater calls on System Fusion nor did I get to play with WIRES-X as it was down on GB3CD and the second nearest WIRES-X node is in Middlesbrough and I’m unable to hit it from my location on 5 watts.

I made the spur of the moment decision to drive to Tan Hill, of course avoiding all the sheep that like to casually walk into the road without a care in the world, I approached it from the other side after going across the A66 and back down, I could hear GB3AS in Carlisle from Tan Hill no problem but I could not get into it with my 5 watts, I tried more calls simplex on 2-metres both digital and FM but no luck, guess today was not as lucky as last time I went out to play radio, hopefully WIRES-X will be working again on GB3CD soon.

Before I set off I reprogrammed my HTs a little, clearing out repeaters I’d not likely use anytime soon, currently programmed are all my local repeaters and GB3LM in time for the Hamfest as I should be able to hit that with a HT at 5 watts from the Newark showground as it is situated on the roof of Lincoln Cathedral, this repeater is a System Fusion repeater and as I have the corresponding radio I should be able to use it in both modes while I drive down but once at Newark I’ll obviously switch to analogue-only operation as I’ll be wanting to look around the hamfest, but I understand that due to it’s location it does not have WIRES-X like GB3CD, it’s 70cm sister, GB3LS, does have IRLP and Echolink but may not work from Newark.

Hopefully when I next play radio from a hill I’ll have more luck, I suspect I’ll need to get my CRT SS9900 working to do some 10-metre operating as I’ve yet to operate on that band since buying the radio, or even think about buying a 2-metre SSB set at the Hamfest for the right price, and make up a beam antenna.


73 de M6RSQ

Mobile set up tidy up

Ahead of the journey to the Hamfest later this month, I took the time to make my mobile set up look much tidier, to do this I bought cable tie mounts from Wilko, where as it turned out I could buy more of them for cheaper than I could get them from Halfords and also in black which I wanted as they'd not stick out so much, I picked up some cable ties from Wilko as well, two sizes, 100mm to mount the control cable between the FTM-400's main unit and control head, and 200mm for the coax from the antenna.

I have already sorted out the control cable for the rig, the cable now runs along the dashboard close to the windscreen, located to clear the heater vent for the windscreen, initially this was tucked in the gap between the windscreen and the dashboard but this would sometimes come out and foul the passenger airbag, a situation I wish to avoid.

I have yet to do the coax as it was getting dark and it was raining when I did the control cable so this will be done another day ahead of the journey to the Hamfest.

I also took the time to reattach the mic clip, which is fixed down with a "no more nails" sticky pad rather than screws as I do not want to do that right now, I'm not sure if it's held overnight however but I'll find out when I go out again, the previous sticky pad was not trimmed down, I replaced it with one I had trimmed down, which actually looks tidier.

So, just the coax to sort and it'll look great.

73 de M6RSQ

Saturday 3 September 2016

ShackCam improvements

As you are aware, I have a shack cam which currently is offline due to no video hardware being connected, until my windows were replaced this was my JVC Everio camcorder connected to a Dazzle USB capture device, this worked ok as a stop gap but a problem was ongoing with the video connection at the Dazzle end, one of the connectors was not making connection properly and was flaky.

So, what to do, reinstating the Dazzle was an idea but this device has a strange interlacing effect which sometimes was apparent whenever I got up out of my chair and moved past the camera, so instead I look at something a little bit smaller and also on the network and a dedicated device, the Raspberry Pi and the Pi camera, as well as a dummy CCTV camera, the pound shop sell small dummy CCTV cameras and at time of writing the Raspberry Pi Zero, of which I already own one, now has a camera connector on the board, this happened after I bought mine so will need to buy a second one at the same time as the camera, also the Pi Zero has very little in the way of current consumption, and adding WiFi to it would make life easier as the Pi Zero has no Ethernet at all and should still keep current draw low.

This setup should work with the software I use on my shack computer to run the feed, which is currently running at boot and not sending images as it has no video source at this time, effectively I plan to make a custom IP camera using mostly off the shelf parts rather than spending a lot of money on an off the shelf IP camera, all I need is a camera, no fancy features, and as I have a light in the shack at night I do not need a camera equipped with Infrared.

Hopefully I will get the new and improved ShackCam online very soon, this might happen after the Hamfest though but we'll see, I have kept the link up to the ShackCam page over this time but of course with it not sending imagery out the most you will see is a "no device" warning.

73 de M6RSQ/26CT730