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Sunday 3 December 2017

hands-free mic in use

With the hands-free mic now installed in the car this means I can be on air more often mobile and not have to drop carrier for roundabouts, traffic lights, junctions, traffic jams, and any other time where I need to change gear or direction which requires both my hands to do

In practice the setup works fine and I have had 2 audio reports already and they have come back positive, this meant I have not had to make any adjustments to the microphone gain.

I put the microphone to the test on a journey from the seaside town of Scarborough yesterday, the nearest two repeaters to that town are GB7RW at Robin Hood's Bay just up the coast from Scarborough near the town of Whitby, though it covers into Scarborough for mobile operators and those with a decent outdoor base station antenna at least, my other choice is usually GB3YC but a lot of the time have found it is listed as not operational on though I have checked it now and it appears to be operational so I could have used that repeater, others I did use on that journey are GB3HG and of course GB3IR, but no one did come back to me, and it was literally yards from home when someone actually called on GB3IR thus making me unable to respond to the call, as I was not far off shutting the car off.

I am happy that I have got a safe means to operate in the car and I have found it easy to use, I just flick a switch to talk and flick it again to listen, not a bad investment and I can easily fit it to my next car as well, I just need to figure out how to get the up/down buttons to send the correct data to the radio to work as up/down.

The next major job is properly arrange the shack and sort out the desk arrangements.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 28 November 2017

hands-free mic installation and hearing the ISS

This evening, in light of it being delivered to my work QTH this morning, I fitted the hands free microphone into the car, I have not received any on air reports from it however so I don't know how well it is working and if I need to adjust the mic gain (a trimpot marked "vol" on the side of the switch box), the switch is fitted round the gear stick, and the microphone itself is fitted to the sun visor.

On the downside the channel up/down controls don't work on the Yaesu FTM-400, they simply send a 4 and 7 respectively, so this means I have to use the control panel to change frequency, though this should not be a difficult task as I've reconfigured the radio to allow me access to an on-screen keypad, I don't know if this sends DTMF or not, I'd need to test this out or refer to the manual.

With the switch on the gear stick it means I need to use care in not flicking the switch unintentionally and informing any passengers I have that they are not to touch it, though with it being on the gear stick they probably won't anyway.

A convenience feature of this microphone is that it has a 2.5 minute alarm, so I know if I have been talking too long, as can happen, though I tend to keep my overs short if possible.

While I was finishing tests, I took a test drive amongst other things to ensure the fittings were sound, I tried to call on the digital voice calling frequency, no one was there, and given the order it is stored in my FTM-400 I managed to catch on to what I initially thought was noise on the ISS 2-metre downlink frequency only to find a QSO ongoing between one of the astronauts (IZ0JPA as I later discovered) and a ground station, a school in Ontario, Canada (I did some digging around to see if there were scheduled contacts), I recorded a small part of the QSO on my phone (of the ISS side from IZ0JPA as that was audible, the Canadian side would not be for obvious reasons) but I do not intend to upload this to YouTube as it was spur of the moment and not on par for a YouTube video

The reception of the ISS was unexpected, and it must have been within range for a time, not bad for a vertical antenna on the roof of the car, in fact I would have happily kept listening had I had time and it wasn't nearly freezing out.

As for the hands-free microphone, I hope to get some audio reports on that in the next few days.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 26 November 2017

Hands-free mic for radios

You may remember that I wanted to get a hands-free microphone for my Yaesu FTM-400XDE from Martin Lynch & Sons while at the National Hamfest this year, only to discover they had none with them as last year no one bought them, so I have ordered one, at last, off their website with wiring for the Yaesu radios that have the same mic socket as mine, my plan is that as I have booked Friday afternoon off work is that I can begin fitting it to my car and perhaps tidy up the control head cable as well as the cable tie mounts that hold that on had come off during the summer months when the temperature inside the car reached high levels enough to soften the adhesive on the cable tie mounts, important considering the cable is starting to foul the passenger side airbag which could prove dangerous if I have a crash with a front seat passenger on board.

The microphone mounts to the hinge of the sun visor with a cable running to a control box that mounts to the gear stick (though this does not work in automatic cars very well), it has a toggle switch for PTT and up/down buttons (which do not work with the FTM-400), and should time out after 3 minutes TX should it be left on by mistake, this means I don't have to hold a microphone and only have to take my hand off the wheel to key up and again when I have finished speaking to go back to RX.

This would also leave me without direct DTMF entry unless that can be done from the control panel, I'd need to read the manual to find out if this is possible, alternatively I could find a way to keep both mics plugged into the radio and allow a way to switch between them.

Though I do like to operate mobile, the majority of the roads around here don't lend themselves to the mobile operator due to lots of bends and roundabouts, and I consider road safety to be priority number one when driving, if I cannot drive and operate my radio safely I won't operate the radio at all.

On a side note, I should have been attending this year's Bishop Auckland rally at Spennymoor, however it is early this year (today) and I have not been paid, so it looks like the next rally I will be at will be either Ripon or Blackpool next year, whichever comes first.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 12 November 2017

Noise levels

I took a drive out to the village of Hudswell today to do some noise checks, though as I was using my RTL-SDR (the NooElec one not the cheap one) I obviously was unable to check below 24MHz, however my findings are good, and the noise levels at the location are pretty decent, though for a true reading I need access to HF gear that can cover below 24MHz, the local club have such equipment and members of the club went up yesterday.

The antenna in use was one of the NooElec supplied ones on the supplied magmount, through an open window on the car, I mostly checked amateur bands, particularly 10-metres as it is the only HF band I can get on my existing equipment, for below this I'd need equipment for it which as you know I am saving for.

I will follow this up in due course.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 5 November 2017

433.92MHz Energy monitor transmission monitoring and possible reverse engineering

On trying to find out exactly what my energy monitor device is transmitting, as I know it to operate on 433.92MHz I find this part of the band filled with transmissions, this is due to the vast array of licence free devices used here, particularly remote car keys as these are by far the most common of them all, this of course makes it harder for me to figure out what my energy monitor's transmitter is doing, though the only device making sense of the signals from the sender by the electricity meter is in fact the display for the energy monitor itself.

In order to do this I have connected an SDR to my laptop, my NESDR SMArt rather than my basic RTL-SDR as this would not have done a good job and currently I have no way of putting my antennas onto the basic one, and it is prone to drift and interference, whereas the NESDR SMArt is not as it's very well engineered, software side is SDR# as usual as it is my preferred choice, antenna is the shortest one that came with the NESDR SMArt as it seems to be the most effective, after some playing about the mode to receive all this appears to be AM, not FM as I initially thought.

The energy monitor is a cheap one I bought from the local Poundstretcher shortly after moving into the previous QTH, though it is based on an old design Efergy unit circa 2009 (possibly earlier) I see no information on what corresponding Efergy model number it is nor any means to reverse engineer the RF side to receive it and decode the data for putting into a graph or chart which the newer Efergy devices can do anyway with a simple add-on, though why buy it when you can build it yourself, I'm a tinkerer and radio Amateur, so why not play about with it, after all I do like taking stuff to bits, and no big loss if I break it as I can simply replace it with a newer Efergy unit.

Having not removed the covers from either side of the monitor, it appears to be a standard 433MHz TX/RX pair from photos I have seen online, the TX side has an unpopulated header on the main board (serial port maybe?) and so does the RX side (again, possibly a serial port), I've not got as far as finding any further information on what I should see on the SDR# waterfall nor have I figured how it transmits the data, aside from using, presumably, ASK which explains why I have to look at 433.92 in AM.

If I can figure this out it would be great, then I can hopefully extract the data and make it something that can be comprehended and put into a web-based graph or chart, all I need to do that is a 433 receiver, and a means to decode the data in the transmitted packets (Raspberry Pi would do a sterling job here and can run off a battery that can be recharged so it will read 0 in the event of a power outage), and then I'd be able to access my usage data from anywhere in the world

Let's see what comes of this then.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Update: 17:48

I have finally figured out how to get my energy monitor open and have done so, however all was not as expected

The CPU is in the centre as per the Efergy units however it appears that it is not the same device, the receiver is of a different type to the Efergy units as well, the unpopulated header is labelled differently and presents no real way to fit headers as a mounting screw fouls it, finding the embedded data in the radio signal from the transmitter will require some further work than I initially thought, if not I can simply buy a newer Efergy device and transfer this project to that as these are more common, though that would have to wait until payday methinks given I had to fork out for car parts and fitting last payday.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Homebrew smart sockets

Don't worry, what I plan to do is perfectly safe and involves radio, specifically LPD433 (which as you will no doubt be aware is in the 70cm band), and off the shelf remote control sockets.

What is probably not well known is that I am saving up some money to buy 2 radios that I really would like to have, a Yaesu FT2D and a Yaesu FT991A (as I want brand new and the standard 991 is no longer sold), and to do that I am looking to make cost savings where I can.

The first thing I have done is fit an electricity usage monitor (also an LPD433 device), so I have an idea how much electricity I am using at any given time, I hope to have this replaced with a smart meter later on, this means a lower bill and more money towards things I am saving for, specifically the two radios mentioned above.

The next stage in this is automation, most of the ways I have seen this done, by the foolish, is hard wiring mains leads onto relay boards, which is extremely dangerous for obvious reasons, so I thought let's see if someone has done this wirelessly before I have to start from scratch down that route, and happily someone has done.

This would involve using off the shelf remote control sockets, most places sell these, and though these sockets would draw a very small amount of current themselves to run their radio receiver (probably in the range of a couple of milliamperes), they would assist in saving money on the electricity bill, it also involves use of the Raspberry Pi (a Pi 3 would work but in my opinion this is overkill so a Zero would be a better option), and the TX module of a LPD433 TX/RX pair, also a bit of sniffing of the remote control with a receiver so the RX module can be used for this or at least according to several sets of instructions I have seen.

When implemented I can control what I don't need running from elsewhere in the house, or outside if I put up password protection onto a web interface, thus allowing me to save money when I can.

Another LPD433 project I'd like to do is somehow reverse engineer the codes sent out of the transmitter of my energy monitor and put that up onto a web page as well, not sure if anyone has done that and I'll need to sniff around in the LPD433 band on 433.92MHz where all this traffic sits.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 21 October 2017

JOTA transmissions on GB3IR

As my local repeater is on the Echolink and IRLP systems, I generally expect there be some International traffic through it, as well as traffic nationally that is generally out of range of the repeater's input, however today is different and it has made me smile, hearing the voices of Scouts as they take part in Jamboree on the Air, which teaches them about radio and allows them to speak to other Scouts worldwide, supervised by fully licenced Amateur radio operators of course (in the UK holders of Full licences) often using special callsigns for the stations, such as the station at Gilwell Park here in the UK.

The repeater is connected to a JOTA conference server as I type, I am aware that an event is being held locally and the repeater has been connected to the conference specifically for this.

This is a very wonderful event in the radio and Scout calendar and I hope that some of these Scouts go on to get their own Foundation licences (or their country's equivalent) and I wish them all the best if they choose to do so.

A nice way to end a week I think, again another thing that makes me proud to be an Amateur radio operator, not sure I'd get my nephew interested when he is old enough but you never know, he might like that.

I noticed the transmissions when I turned on my car this afternoon just as I was about to depart from work, having put some overtime in this morning, naturally it was hard to make most of it out due to my broken exhaust, however once I got home I put the Wouxun KG-UVD1P on as it was tuned to IR anyway from my walks to work when I had took it out to use it, much easier to hear the stations.

I hope the Scouts are having a wonderful time, and getting a go on the air no matter what band, mode or system is in use.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 19 October 2017

mortified, disgusted and furious

Pretty much every Amateur radio operator works hard to obtain his or her licence and progress in the hobby, I myself am studying for my full licence when I can, however today, and the hobby itself, once again has been spoiled by Chance Callahan KD0MXN.

Sure you will recognise this individual, he is the one that stabbed me in the back the day I went personally to Martin Lynch & Sons to buy my Yaesu FTM-400XDE, and has since committed and planned to commit many atrocities ever since, including harassing me at every opportunity.

This then bring me to the post title, he has since taken it upon himself to hack WiFi routers using the very knowledge he gained during his course and exam for his Technician licence (roughly equivalent to the UK foundation though not entirely), as it has since been learned there is a fundamental weakness in WPA2 that allows someone to gain the key and monitor packets, the full explanation is beyond the scope of this blog as it is focused on radio, and WiFi is relevant as it is roughly in or near the 13cm band (though more accurately just above it).

He intends to build a "cantenna", this is an antenna made from a can of sorts, though he did not specify what can he'd use I can safely assume it would not be made from a potato snack can as this would be useless at 2.4GHz for anything realistic and he would know this too, he did not explain how he'd connect this to a laptop or other device to conduct the attacks.

This act is in gross violation of computer misuse laws worldwide, not only this it puts Callahan in breach of Part 97 of the FCC rules (Part 97 is Amateur radio regulations, similar to Ofcom's conditions here in the UK), and if this does not get his licence revoked I do not know what will, and as he mentioned this in ##hamradio on freenode he may find his door being broken down by the FBI pretty soon, as well as a polite letter from the FCC saying he no longer is eligible to hold an Amateur radio licence.

We can only now hope that this will be the final nail in the coffin for Chance Callahan's life of flouting the rules and laws when he sees fit, there is no place for people like him in the hobby

By the next post I should have calmed down somewhat, and I felt that this was best put out there for all to see.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Edit: I did not read the information correctly and he plans to target 5GHz WiFi routers as well as the exploit I alluded to effects them also, this means that he could be constructing more than one antenna, bearing in mind the information was given out between 6:30 and 7:00am BST today he may well be well into building the antenna assuming he started then (they are 5 hours behind so he may have been asleep for a couple of hours since), readers of the blog in Garden City and Savannah, GA, keep an eye out for suspicious activity on your WiFi

Sunday 15 October 2017

Will I finally enter the 2-metre FMAC?

Hopefully the answer to this question will be 'yes', as you will know, my car threw up another fault on it's way to the National Hamfest, and will be booked in for repair hopefully before November's 2-metre FMAC, nothing stopping me entering now aside from the need to run the engine as I will need to keep the car's battery topped up, and with it being late Autumn now to keep me warm, though I replaced my car's interior light with an LED bulb the current draw will be from the radio on transmit.

The noise the car makes right now due to the hole in the exhaust system is what prevented me from entering October's contest, as it is loud even in the car with the engine at tick-over, as it stands it seems that car is doing everything it can to stop me entering as I can't enter from the home QTH as I don't have an external antenna and this is what I need and such a thing is fitted to my car and parking up at a high point local to me would do it nicely.

I have seen a part on the Internet to get the car back to normal for around £80 with all the nuts and bolts and gaskets and seals, the fitting charge will be down to the exhaust fitter who I intend to fit this as most of the existing bolts are in fact rusted and if they break while I do the work I'd have to arrange the car to be towed and it may also mean missing the contest for another month, getting an exhaust professional to do this will hopefully allow me to enter the contest as planned.

Of course I stand no chance in getting a high place on the scoreboard, but if all works out well for November I should at least make the scoreboard, I will enter the FR (FMAC restricted) which will allow me to use my available 50 watts or if I choose 25 watts.

I plan to take the computer with me to log with minos as before, and also stream the event to YouTube as before, though with the loss of my Huawei tablet this will have to be done on my phone as the computer would not be able to stream and log together.

Hope to work you in the contest on the 7th November, all being well

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 30 September 2017

National Hamfest 2017

Today I was in attendance at the National Hamfest, and Yaesu have answered my question, they informed me the new TX/RX ID function is similar to CTCSS, works with networked (not Internet linked but radio linked) repeaters and is called System Fusion II, something I had seen advertised, I had also seen the new System Fusion II repeater, I also looked at the new online exams being rolled out and a look at the equipment used for ATV courtesy of BATC.

I picked up the Advanced book from the RSGB book stand and had a look at a smart phone DMR and various other bits and pieces useful to Amateur radio operators, unfortunately I wasn't able to get the handsfree mic for the car as this was unavailable, and other items such as a base antenna due to financial constraints.

Needless to say, the car chose the journey to develop another fault, initially detected as a developing oxygen sensor malfunction (on the sensor post-cat), however when I had chance to look under the car at the exhaust this revealed a massive leak in the exhaust system as the centre pipe (which includes the post-cat O2 sensor) had parted company with the catalytic converter, so my car sounds very much like an old motorcycle or tractor, and I will keep the car off the road until I can fix it unless I have to use it, ruling out October's 2-metre FMAC.

Otherwise I have had a good time at this year's National Hamfest and hope to do it all again next year.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 16 September 2017

FTM-400XDE Firmware upgrade

In the time I have owned it I have never once updated the firmware on my Yaesu FTM-400XDE, until tonight that is, though this was a bigger job than anticipated given the location of the main unit within the car, however I was able to access the upgrade switch to do the firmware then subsequently update the DSP, I am not sure what changes have been made to the DSP, however the firmware has something called 'Digital Group ID' and 'Digital Personal ID', what purpose these serve I don't actually know, however now at the top of the radio screen there is an extra field with TX and RX ID, along with the repeater shift direction, CTCSS/DCS and clock (I have my 400 in the car therefore have this set to display the voltage instead which is handy if the engine is off).

I am trying to find out the purpose of this new feature, though I cannot seem to find information on it it however I am hoping to speak to the Yaesu representatives at the National Hamfest in 2 weeks time regarding what future improvements are heading towards System Fusion, they may even be able to shed some light on this interesting update.

All that remains for me to do is just keep using the radio.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Update 29/9/17

Less than 18 hours before I go to the National Hamfest as it so happens, I have a photograph of the display as I described

The radio is currently set to AMS as I prefer this, the selected repeater, GB3IR, is an FM-only repeater located about 2 miles away from my current home QTH, I may ask the Yaesu reps at the National Hamfest what the "ID:TXnn/RXnn" means as I have not found any information on it yet, otherwise the radio is working as it ought to ready for the drive to the Hamfest and hopefully also for participation in October's 2-metre FMAC.

Friday 8 September 2017

Car now cleared for this year's trip to Newark

With the oil leak in the gearbox now repaired, my car is now ready for the drive to the National Hamfest for the 3rd time, the furthest I've really been this year is both coasts (Scarborough and Blackpool respectively) and to Gateshead, though this is not the final rally as I'll be attending the Bishop Auckland rally in Spennymoor in December (which reminds me that I really need to be getting up to the Bishop Auckland club again as soon as possible).

I was originally intending to camp at Newark and have a portable station however with the clutch failing on my car earlier in the year along with the QTH move the camping had to be put on hold however I intend to get all the camping gear I need during the off season and go next year, I still have my drive-on mast stand yet have not put that to any use at present, it was intended to get an outing at Newark this year but of course with all that has gone on this has had to wait.

Of course I do not plan to leave the National Hamfest empty handed, I am working some extra hours and hopefully will leave with another radio, a Diamond X50 antenna, and some more PL259s, particularly of the compression fit or crimp fit variety, as well as a right-angle connector for the antenna port of my Yaesu FTM-400XDE as there is very little room behind there for plugging in and disconnecting the antenna when I want to connect the SWR meter for tests, and maybe some freebies if possible, and also the Advanced book so I can get on and study for my full licence as soon as I can.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 1 September 2017

Car almost ready for the trip to Newark

Today as you are aware my car went in for its MOT (The UK roadworthiness examination) which it has passed with flying colours despite my own worries that the vehicle would fail, now this would have meant the all-clear to participate in the 2m FMAC on Tuesday night, however a new problem has arisen that needs to be rectified immediately.

While the car was in for the MOT, the mechanic found the gearbox to be leaking oil from a seal on the offside (driver's side, right in this case) driveshaft coming out of the gearbox, this requires urgent attention and the car is booked in for this repair on Wednesday, I will have to drop the car off on Tuesday night and this means I cannot take part in the 2m FMAC this month, much to my disappointment, however this gearbox issue cannot be ignored as if the gearbox loses a large quantity of oil it could potentially seize which could cost more than what the car is actually worth to fix, fortunately it is being repaired under the extended warranty.

Once this oil seal is repaired this will then give the car the all clear for the 2017 National Hamfest at the end of this month, as usual I will be in attendance.

I aim to take part in the October 2m FMAC as all my car troubles should then be resolved.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 27 August 2017

Amateur radio to the rescue

I discovered a couple of days ago that two Amateur radio operators were involved in saving the life of a youngster with Epilepsy, which to me shows that when all else fails then radio will prevail.

The story is that of a youngster camping on Exmoor with friends and family, one of whom holds the callsign G6ASK, the youngster had an epileptic seizure and thus needed immediate medical attention, with no phone signal on Exmoor this would have been impossible had it not been for G6ASK, who had his mobile setup in the car, putting an emergency call onto the closest repeater GB3WR, the call picked up by an operator in Bristol, M6MGE, who just happened to have the radio on and heard the call from G6ASK, and called 999 (the UK emergency service number) and subsequently relayed information between G6ASK and the 999 operator, thus getting an ambulance to Exmoor and saving the youngster's life, she has since made a full recovery.

This story got the attention of the BBC, including a segment on Radio 2 on The Jeremy Vine show, this was some good publicity of the hobby and has made me rethink my opinion on Jeremy Vine as I didn't really like him that much, I have listened to the segment in question which featured all parties involved.

Knowing what happened in the West Country I want to say that I am proud to be an Amateur radio operator, and also stress that I will equally respond to emergency calls if I hear them, I consider any emergency call priority one and do what I can to assist.

I keep an active mobile setup as you know, some people who I know who have no clue about the hobby may claim that my car looks like a dodgem but in fact that antenna and the radio attached to it could one day be what could save their life or even what could save my own life when the mobile networks simply cannot be relied upon.

I have since decided to keep a radio on at all times, you just never know when you may hear that call for help.

Below is a video filmed from M6MGE's side in Bristol as events unfolded, I cannot fault his professionalism and calm manner during all of this.

Again I cannot stress how this makes me proud to be an Amateur radio operator.

Maybe this could also encourage others to enter the world of Amateur radio, it works where phones do not, we also have RAYNET here in the UK, a part of Amateur radio that is specifically there to handle emergencies if they crop up, I may consider joining it myself if I can find time, so as you can see, Amateur radio is not just about chatting to other people, passing messages between someone in distress and the emergency services is part of it too, it's all about getting the message across clearly and concisely and that is what has happened here.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 19 August 2017

Shack desk shopping

I paid a visit to the nearest IKEA today, only to find the place was horrifyingly huge, in search for a new shack desk, and I found one that came with a whiteboard on a top section, part of a range of desks that also included a corner desk so it could be added to as time progressed, the desk and top section totalled less than £100, and had ample space for radios and the computer, with a hole at the back to drop all the wires down into.

Only trouble was that when I went to the self-service warehouse to look at the size of the desk parts flat-packed it appeared that the top bit may be a bit too big to fit in my car whereas the desk section was to fit just fine after I again checked the size first.

Although the current metal desk that I use was adequate for the old QTH (where a separate shack was never going to happen) I feel that now I have a larger space I should be able to have more room for radio operating

I did not leave IKEA empty handed, I left with a £6 clamp-on light that I plan to use as shack illumination, it is currently clamped to my current shack desk, I may get a couple more of these for the bedroom as they'd make good reading lights as well as a shack light when the dark nights get here.

While I was up there I called into the Metrocentre for lunch and on passing into PC World to look at a Gigabit Ethernet switch, they had one but it was a managed switch rather than an unmanaged one, making me think it best going to the big PC World at Teesside Park, as I want to get the shack computer back onto wired Ethernet as soon as possible.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 13 August 2017

Shack ready to go... or as ready as it can be right now

With the clutter cleared from the shack room at the new QTH, and the carpets vacuumed, the shack is now ready to go, still using the same desk as I used at the old QTH, so it is a bit cramped as to be expected until I can replace the desk with a bigger one.

The radios are still the QYT KT8900D for 2 and 70 (into the small magmount antenna on top of the radiator as this QTH has no windowsills, but I get no movement on the SWR meter at both 10 and 25 watts so it is matched well), the CRT SS9900 for 10 metres (into the orbitor/stinger antenna on top of some old computer chassis with a reasonably good match in the FM portion of 10 metres, have not tried the SSB portion to avoid interference with it being an indoor antenna) and, of course, the President Grant II for CB (though the orbitor refuses to match properly at 11-metres for some reason I haven't worked out yet).

The shelving unit has the chargers for my HTs with the exception of the dedicated PMR446 radios and the handheld CBs (I have the handheld CB chargers plugged into the shack main extension lead), as well as space for my copy of the radio communications handbook, radios I am not using at present (all the other CBs and my Midland BaseCamp446, not my MT-5050 though as that is for reasons unknown in my backpack down in the car at time of writing).

My shack desk has the addition of a pair of PC speakers manufactured by Philips (these are the speakers supplied with the machine used as the shack computer though I have never plugged them into it since it had the motherboard replaced a few years ago until now), these allow me to use Echolink without headphones if I choose, though I can use headphones if I require to do so, for example late at night or early mornings, the homebrew extension speaker, as it can no longer be fastened to the wall as this isn't allowed at the new QTH stands on top of the left speaker (though the cable still reaches the SS9900 no problem and that also has a headphone jack for private listening with the adaptor), the CB mic converter is cable tied to the side of the desk near the computer, and the programming cables for various radios are plugged into a USB hub, the USB to RS232 adaptor is directly connected to the computer though this doesn't usually get used.

Seating is another issue, as my only desk chair is in the living room and it would need moving to the shack if I want to use it in there, I do plan to get another chair for the shack as soon as I can do so.

There are still a couple of odds and ends relating to that room to address, there are some bags of random things, two storage boxes, and my old TV (which I did bring from the old QTH and did not scrap given that it has sort of failed) to still find a home for but that probably will not happen until next weekend when I sort out the cupboard opposite the shack, but apart from that I believe it is ready for some radio.

I hope to get back on air properly from home in the coming week, been mostly performing test transmissions since I moved in and connected things up and they seem to have gone well.

Also I can now get that video for the NooElec NESDR SMArt done, hopefully that too will be this week.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 6 August 2017

APRS map display revisited

As you may be aware, in an earlier post in February of this year, I discussed displaying APRS objects received by a radio on a map, in this case the radio was my Yaesu FTM-400XDE and the tablet was my Huawei MediaPad T1 4G, unfortunately earlier this week I lost the tablet on my now cycle commute to work, leaving me with only my old tablet, a Tesco hudl (the first one not the hudl 2), which isn't really up to running a lot these days hence why I got the MediaPad in the first place, so I'd not really want to use that as a replacement, also as it lacks mobile data connectivity it is not suited and my 3 UMTS stick would not work with it without significant modification to the firmware to include drivers for it.

So I need a new tablet and decided my next tablet will be a Windows tablet, specifically the Linx 1010 as it has 2 dedicated USB ports and can be charged with USB devices plugged in, and as it is a Windows tablet I can use APRSISCE32, this has of course been done with a Windows tablet, a video on this topic, though it seems to have focus on the USA, had been made 2 years ago by Dallas Clements K7DCC.

The tablet used by K7DCC was a Windows 8.1 tablet, the Linx 1010 is a Windows 10 tablet, though as far as I can tell APRSISCE32 runs on Windows 10, though of course I need to reconfigure my laptop installation of this very same program to my new callsign (which requires authorisation to APRS-IS as I have not done this since I got my Intermediate).

Of course my car has limited room in which to add things, the tablet would need to be positioned in a location where it would not impede my operation of the car, it would need to be placed so as not to distract my attention, I can reach it while I am parked up, and I am still able to apply the handbrake and change gear when needed, also it needs to be in reach of the charger as it won't last a long journey when not on charge.

Mobile Internet is not available built into the Linx 1010, as I can buy myself out of my tablet contract between now and December (it will be cheaper as each bill between now and then is paid), I should be able to get hold of a 4G WiFi adaptor from EE, the cost to me should be similar than what I pay now for the tablet that I lost.

The Linx 1010 does not appear to have GPS installed, and it may not get that information direct from the radio in APRSISCE32, so I'd need an external GPS device, I have a Bluetooth GPS device that I bought some years ago for a Windows Mobile device to use with TomTom Navigator, I plan to test the unit with my laptop first to ensure it works as I hope it does (using APRSISCE32 as I have this on my laptop as alluded to above).

Hopefully I can start work on this next month after my car gets through its MOT, though it may not happen until after the Hamfest, but we can see what happens.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 1 August 2017

postponement of my entry into the 2-metre FMAC until September

Due to being unable to plan due to the house move I am once again unable to enter the 2-metre FMAC until September (MOT pending as my car is in for its MOT the Friday before), I hope to enter by then and throughout 2018 if the contests still run I will hope to aim to participate all 12 months.

Apologies if you did hope to work me in the contest tonight, I will do what I can to be on air next month, MOT pending of course.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 23 July 2017

RTL-SDR reinstall on the shack computer

So it turned out I had to reinstall RTL-SDR related stuff on the shack computer, this was not as easy as I thought, the new stick shows up slightly differently in Zadig than on my laptop, I suspect this is because the version of Zadig on my laptop is actually older than the one on the shack computer, but it did in the end still work.

I started by trying a NooElec suggested SDR program, CubicSDR, this only detected my sound cards and thus did not work, even when I did some test transmissions on PMR446 channel 1, so I switched to HDSDR, however the waterfall displays in that program left me with a headache, so I looked for SDR#, which is now an Airspy product, and this worked after I downloaded and reinstalled RTL-SDR drivers, and Airspy have made some improvements to SDR#, including identifying bands and using the correct mode and frequency for them, or at least I think so, without an antenna connected at all I scanned through everything, it suggested military aviation is NFM, which makes no sense to me as civil aviation is AM, it also identified CB at 26.965-27.405MHz, again in NFM however AM and SSB are also legal to use in that band (the UK portion was not labelled, 10-metres was, and default set to SSB).

This worked well up to a point as during the second tune cycle (with a rubber duck antenna on the stick) the computer presented me with a BSOD, only the second time that machine has thrown one and only the second one on Windows 10 that I have seen, I let the computer reboot and I have not tried again yet.

The antenna I attached was not one of the supplied antennas but instead the Nagoya NA-771 antenna, using an SMA to BNC adaptor which I have to hand, the reception wasn't brilliant without turning the RX gain up, the tests I did for receive were performed in the FM broadcast band and PMR446 (though this was identified as 70cm as 446MHz is part of that allocation in the US and Canada), and it seems to work well.

I will get a video on YouTube in the next few days, and afterwards try and find an environment where there would be lots of radio activity (not counting pagers as they seem to be everywhere) for a proper field test of this stick

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Salvaging my original RTL-SDR stick.

My previous post mentioned my original RTL-SDR stick (original in the sense that I have a new improved one from NooElec on the way), I salvaged it and the internal USB wiring from the tin of oil it has sat in for some months, and degreased it, it is currently out of its casing with the casing and all the cables drying off.

I did this as I intend to show it on the YouTube video of the new one when it arrives and the fact the can is leaking oil as the sealing I did to it did not work as intended, also I plan to take it along to the amateur radio club.

I first want to test the stick with my tablet on the USB-OTG, I know the OTG will work for flash drives but will it run the RTL-SDR without complaining? one way to find out is to plug the stick into the OTG connector and then onto the tablet, if successful I will see if the new stick will also work so I can do some field tests for YouTube in an RF busy environment without having to lug a computer around with me.

Before any of that can take place of course, the stick needs to be tested on a normal computer to ensure it is actually working, this will be done using the modified USB cable that I use for the stick (also degreased), and a Windows machine, possibly my laptop, and SDR# if it is still on the laptop which it appears to be.

The tests will cause the stick to pick up some noise, an antenna may be fitted for testing purposes but this depends on many factors, the coax for the antenna was also degreased along with the BNC connector and should in theory still work, the MCX connector at the other end was also subject to this, though I probably won't need to use this much once the improved NooElec unit with an SMA connector arrives in the next couple of days, time to see what happens next.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 17 July 2017

RTL-SDR revisited

As you are no doubt aware, I own one of the RTL-SDR sticks that do the rounds on the likes of eBay and Amazon, a cheap DVB-T stick that can be used as a software defined radio, trouble is it has flaws, those being that it can drift off frequency as it heats up and that it is prone to pick up of interference, particularly WFM from Band II, the FM broadcasting band, and methods of alleviating these problems do exists, my current stick is submerged in cooking oil in a golden syrup tin (though the sealant on all the connectors and the rest of the tin has been eaten away by the oil and it has escaped, so it is wrapped in a plastic bag), this did work well to keep the heat down and the noise contained, as some of it was conducted along the USB cable it was modified for the feed inside the can.

Though that stick is still very much usable, once salvaged from the tin and degreased, I have purchased an improved one by American company NooElec. they have taken the basic design and improved on it, replacing components, and removing redundant components, even going as far as to replace the MCX antenna port with an SMA (which I have a couple of adaptors for to allow use of any external antenna I see fit), the unit I have ordered is in a much different case than the original one I bought, and comes with a selection of antennas for different jobs, and as it is the same chips for USB and tuning as my existing stick it should work in a sense with the software that works with the old one with little change.

I partly bought this to use as a reliable scanner receiver, as I knew my existing RTL-SDR was not cut out for the job, and I hope to have it by the end of this week and will be doing a couple of YouTube videos on the stick all being well.

I'll see what happens with this

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 16 July 2017

Shack re-establishment

With the QTH move all done, I have started to get my shack set up, the shack computer is operational but requires network connectivity and at present the only network feed to that room is for my web server, so I am looking at getting a switch in order to run the shack computer, the NAS box and the server off wired ethernet, I don't intend to set up wireless at all for the NAS and the shack computer will only be on wireless temporarily until an Ethernet switch arrives which will probably be around pay day.

The radios are working, I put the 2/70 antenna on top of an old computer case first on the top of my shelves, which I had assembled previously, SWR was very high but not dangerous to the radio, so I had a theory it may work on the radiator, so I attached the magnet there and low and behold the SWR dropped considerably, in fact the needle is not moving on 10 watts on 2 metres and is at most 1.4:1 on 70cm, which I find incredibly impressive for a compromise antenna, then came the turn of my CB antenna, I placed it on top of 2 old computer cases (one of these being one I used for the 2/70 antenna before placing it on the radiator), the mismatch on 11-metres was bad, at the bottom end was well into the red on the SWR metre but an improvement on the old excalibur, the top end (UK40 channel 40) was about 2, suggesting the antenna was far too short, theory, use it for 10-metres, plug it into 10-metre rig with a power output of around 10 watts, in the FM segment the SWR was very low, suggesting it will tune across 10-metres, which I will give a go at a low power at a later date.

I am so far impressed but as time progresses I intend to hide a couple of wire antennas in the nearby trees if possible to get me on both 10 and 11 metres at home, I already have my T2LT which has seen some but not a lot of action, and some kind of wire antenna for 10-metres could also be made, worth investigating

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 15 July 2017

Disturbing news for the Amateur radio community

I have learned today that Chance Callahan KD0MXN is to study for the US General licence (he has technician already, which is like our foundation, General is like our Intermediate), this confirms that the FCC have been incompetent and disregarded all evidence I gave against him, and thus this individual is still in our community and has not yet been shunned out.

I suspect I know two reasons as to why he intends to do this, first and foremost is because he is now aware that I have my Intermediate and he feels that I should not be better than him in all things Amateur radio given his extreme pathological hatred of me, second is because his current callsign has been pretty much outed as bad.

So what can be done? Seeing as the FCC will not revoke his licence despite all the evidence I handed to them there is nothing that can be done, and with me moving QTH I have not been able to study for my Advanced yet, but I certainly intend to at some stage, something I have made very clear.

Despite a monumental pile of evidence against him and even his local Sheriff's department watching him due to other crimes why is he still licenced and allowed in our community? I guess we will never know, he will be ousted, and that is certain, as the Amateur radio community has no time for people like him.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 6 July 2017

second postponement of 2m FM activity contest

In light of my car being serviced on Tuesday I arrived back home too late to get the rig set up in the car, I have decided to hold off again of the 2m FMAC until August, when I will be able to take part with no hindrance as my move will be complete and my car is not due back in the garage until MOT day (which will be done at the back end of August to allow travel to the National Hamfest the following month).

I still need to set up the rig in the car as I can't put the antenna onto the roof of the car while it is wet as it has been raining heavily lately and my car is full of all sorts of things including my bicycle which has been removed from my shed while work goes on.

I have not had a lot of time on air with the move either and my shack is still not set up, as I have some finishing works at the old QTH before I hand the keys back to the local housing department, I still have all my HTs at the new QTH but I don't have the chargers plugged in as these normally go in the shack.

I should be operating again in the next few days all being well.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 18 June 2017

Move to new QTH nears completion

I have physically moved in to the new QTH, the majority of the shack however is still boxed up, some of it is in the room where it is going to go, the shelves used at the old QTH to separate the shack from the living room will be assembled in the shack room, in order to get wired network I will have to get another switch into the shack room, I located the server in a wardrobe in that room (it is intended as a bedroom) and with the wardrobe doors shut the noise is lower than at the previous QTH and should not be picked up by my radio mics at the very least.

With the closing door it will allow me to operate without other noises in the flat being picked up, the room is also close to both the main entrance door to the flat and the room containing the circuit breakers and electricity meter so shutting the shack supply down in an emergency should be no problem, I will need to make a set of emergency procedures to back this up, I will fit an easy to access emergency stop on the extension lead supplying the shack when I upgrade the desk for a bigger one now I have the room.

My licence has been updated with Ofcom, and my RSGB membership also changed after I found the latest RadCom at my old QTH, will need to inform the club if they need my address.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 4 June 2017

Entry to the 2m FM activity contest postponed until July

Given that the likelihood of my car not being repaired until Wednesday at the latest, I have put my entry in the 2-metre FM activity contest on hold until July, this it not the news I wanted to give but given the nature of what has happened and the fact I had to remove my home antenna there is little else I can do at this time.

I wanted to enter the contest's restricted section, which would allow me to use anything up to my legally allowed 50 watts, though I could easily use 25 as my FTM-400XDE has that at it's mid setting and my QYT KT-8900D has that at high power, hence why I require at least an external antenna or my car, as neither are available to me right now (the magmount is in fact in my hallway and so is the antenna) the contest is not realistic to enter in June, though back in May when I did all the planning my car had a fully working clutch and simply a rattle underneath.

I have updated the upcoming events on YouTube to allow for the live streaming of myself taking part in the contest, my laptop will be used for logging and I will be changing Minos to reflect this as well so the contest date is correct for my uploading of logs.

The QTH move will begin in the next week or two, so I may not be on air or updating this often during that time

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 2 June 2017

The search for a new QTH... green light to move after the 10th June

I have been given the all clear to set a move-in date after the 10th June, this falls after this month's 2m FMAC but in order to facilitate the move I need my car running, which at time of writing it is at the garage exactly where myself and the recovery truck driver left it on Tuesday.

So I will be at the new QTH for July's 2m FMAC but I intend to still operate from a higher point than the top floor flat I move to (this one does not have a loft though).

So what does this mean for me, an external antenna possibly for 2/70, the shack in its own room, the shack computer no longer having to stand on top of my NAS box which I intend to locate to the same location as my webserver, as well as a closing door that will reduce any unwanted noise.

Of course I will be starting out on my biscuit tin antenna but that's a situation that I can rectify later on.

So the time at this QTH is now measurable in days rather than months or years.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 28 May 2017

Even less chance of entering the 2m FM Activity contest

As is known, I want to enter the 2m FM Activity contest in June, unfortunately for me another issue has come up, the clutch in my car has failed, I thought it was either a pressure plate failure or a linkage issue, I called the roadside assistance who sent out an AA patrol, they confirmed my worst fears, the pressure plate, this now means that the chances of me operating the 2-metre FM Activity contest are closer to nil as they have been.

Because the car now has to be towed to the garage for the clutch to be fitted I will be disconnecting the antenna from the radio and removing the magmount, control unit, and microphone, the main unit will need to stay in situ as it is difficult to remove.

I will do this as I need to remove everything from the car before returning it to the garage, I could remove the main unit of the 400 as well for Fusion operation from home as a stop gap but I dare not risk it on my biscuit tin antenna as this is an expensive radio and naturally the finals also expensive to repair.

maybe it will work out that I can operate but unfortunately needs must that I have my car back before then as of course as you well know a neighbour forced me to remove my home antenna which I hoped to use.

I will update this further as time progresses.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 26 May 2017

A year since I was betrayed

As you may be aware, a year ago I was down in Staines picking up a Yaesu FTM-400XDE from Martin Lynch & Sons, before I could so much as set foot in the showroom however I was betrayed by Chance Callahan KD0MXN, who to this day believes he is innocent of any wrong doing and considers me the guilty party.

During this last 12 months I have done all I can to protect the rest of the Amateur radio community from Callahan, that has not been an easy task as part of this relies on the FCC who aren't that forthcoming or helpful, and various other organisations, however it seems that whatever I have done at some point in time is working, as the Sheriff's department local to him is watching him very closely as there are a lot of things he said he would do which are beyond the scope of this blog and are certainly not welcome in the radio hobby.

From the information I have gathered, it seems his local Sheriff's department had, in plaintext, the decryption keys for the Project 25 (America's answer to TETRA) radios used by the Civil Air Patrol squadron of which he is a member, I do not believe that his local Sheriff's department would have held these keys, let alone in plaintext, unless they were monitoring something out of the ordinary, it is for this reason I believe they were watching him, unfortunately someone made a cock-up, the keys made it to an affiliate of the American Broadcasting Company, and anyone equipped with a scanner was able to listen in, bringing the attention of this to Callahan, and subsequently to me when he himself told fellow hams that this happened, he now controls the keys himself, but it proves that the Amateur radio community will oust people like Callahan pretty quickly, it just leaves the FCC to do their part, if they will do their part, I have yet to hear back from them but it's a US government department and it may take time.

With this latest chain of events, I have faith that Chance Callahan won't be KD0MXN for much longer (or be allowed to hold any type of transmitting licence ever again as he openly admitted to not following protocol using the P25 radios issued to him by the CAP), I have held this information for some weeks but did not desire to post it until the first anniversary of Callahan's attack against me, which as you can easily tell has not stopped me being active in Amateur radio, in fact I enjoy radio immensely and feel very welcome and no one on the bands yet has said otherwise as I am a very good operator and am eager to learn more.

73 de 2E0EIJ

FM Activity contest participation in doubt

Yesterday I discovered there may be an issue with one of the rear brakes on my car after having it examined by the garage, and they want to look at it on the 6th June, this adds to the already growing issue of participating in the 2-metre FM Activity Contest.

If the problem is minor and can be fixed then I should get the car back for 5pm that day and be able to get to a high point in time for 6pm though I intended it to be a little earlier, however if the problem is worse than it seems then I will more than likely miss out and have to wait until July, though this would never have happened had my unruly neighbour not forced me to cut the coax to my groundplane antenna.

So the chances of me participating are a little bleak, and with a move of QTH now into the early stages I wonder if I'll get on in July as well, I will keep you posted on this as I really want to give this a go and hope I am in fact able to do so.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Search for a new QTH.... beginning the process

Tomorrow at the first opportunity I will be going to the letting agent to arrange the process that will begin the move of QTH, as the property I looked at meets my requirements, a separate room for the shack, a place to locate the webserver responsible for hosting most of my websites (this blog will remain online as it is Google and not run from my server during the move), a living room that will be just that, a living room, having it combined with the shack for as long as I have has been a pain, and if I am allowed a nice high antenna for 2-metres and 70cm, looking forward immensely to hopefully getting a new QTH.

I will still be active on Amateur radio while the move takes place, but it will of course be mostly from HTs and mobiles, I also plan to use PMR446 to co-ordinate the move between myself and those I get to assist me, proving the worth of radio to the non-licenced and how it can be a valuable asset.

Hopefully a move in date will be given soon, I'll let you know, there are of course a few other hurdles to overcome.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Bicycle mobile revisited.

Having given my bicycle a test run prior to moving to a new QTH I have thought about fitting a mobile set up to it, a 12VDC (or 13.8VDC stable preferably) generator to run a HT with a battery eliminator, perhaps into a SLA battery that is charged as the bicycle moves.  A CB install is certainly doable with sufficient grounding to the bicycle frame (SWR will be checked with myself sat on the bicycle anyway), 2-metres and 70cm should also be possible, though I intend to use the UV-5RC Plus solely for APRS, I can use one of my other 2/70 HTs for voice, the APRS HT can be equipped with a high gain antenna and the voice HT can use a mobile antenna if the logistics of this can be worked out, the CB setup will use the stinger/orbitor antenna that was originally found on the roof of my old car.

The idea seems sound as I've seen a few videos involving an individual who fitted a CRT One CB radio to their bicycle (which of course is unusable while riding hence why I picked a handheld such as the Midland or Intek with a a suitable headset and PTT) however before I do this I'll need to move QTH first as the idea is I ride my bicycle to work or to the gym or even the shops, all of which are within cycling distance of the potential new QTH and the current one though the current QTH is on a hill, the bicycle itself needs attention to its brakes and more than likely a new set of tyres before I start attaching radios to it.

I'll keep you updated

73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730

Monday 22 May 2017

The search for a new QTH... update

With my search ongoing for a new QTH I had a call from the letting agent I made contact with last Friday, they checked my interest in the property in question and informed me a second identical property was also available, however on the first rather than second floor but this is a minor detail.

The layout of both properties is identical and the shack will therefore be in the same place, my only issue is an antenna, I have looked at the Diamond X30 and X50, Martin Lynch & Sons sell both these antennas with N type connectors on them so a change of plugs on one end of some RG213 is needed, though I cannot seek permission to put the antenna up until I get it, I chose these two Diamond antennas because they work well and don't upset neighbours unlike other antennas, I may choose the X50 over the X30, this demotes my homemade groundplane antenna to portable ops once it has a plug on the coax again, I still can operate 2 metres with my biscuit tin setup or one of my HTs or my mobile setup, the biscuit tin setup will need retuning however.

10 and 11-metre operation won't be possible immediately until I have ascertained the possibilities there, my focus for now is 2-metres and possibly 70cm operation but I rarely hear anything on that band.

I may even get a bigger desk for the shack should it be warranted in the future as my small metal desk is a bit cramped but I can work on that.

So, I move forward towards moving to a new QTH, of course this will take out my ShackCam website which is currently down however the ShackCam itself will not be rebuilt until after the move now.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 19 May 2017

Search for a new QTH... the beginning

Today I have found a potential new QTH, though antenna prospects are smaller having the shack away from the living room is possible. I would probably be back to the magmount or get permission to have an antenna put on the building.

Other possibilities for this QTH include moving the server used for my websites and the shackcam out of the living room and into a cupboard, reducing noise for both it and the shack, the shack itself can be put in another room away from the living room.

I would like to get moved soon, and with better protection of my address my location will not be known, as I only put a rough location on, this of course will annoy the likes of those that in the past have caused me many issued because they'll no longer have information on me such as this, it is fortunate that only one of these people is part (albeit questionably) of the Amateur radio community.

Well I will keep you informed.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Follow-up to the neighbour trouble I have had.

So, having had trouble from an until now unknown neighbour and having to cut the coax to my antenna, I have wondered who was responsible, what I did not mention in the last post was someone knocked at my door while I was otherwise engaged, I heard them get up and down the stairs quicker than the person who lives across the hall from me and the person underneath them, leaving it to potentially be one neighbour in this block, the person below me, a theory I held but could not prove until this morning.

So, my usual routine now, wake up, breakfast, shower, dress for work, pack up gym gear and go down to the car and make my way to work, I was accosted by this neighbour who asked if he could have a word and I feel he was not polite about it, I declined explaining that I needed to be at work, and left quickly before the situation could get out of hand, the gentleman in question has only lived here a matter of months.

None of my other neighbours have complained ever about my antennas, in fact when I erected the T2LT a couple of times some have been curious as to what it was, and approached me directly, this is the only neighbour that has shown intolerance from a radio standpoint.

If this gentleman had approached me rather than stuck bits of paper to my property I'd have happily come to a reasonable compromise, however as he did what he did I feel that this won't go well at all, I am very reasonable and will happily discuss problems, anyone in the estate that felt there may have been a problem only had to come and discuss those with me, be it interference (as I was transmitting at 25 watts) or the antenna itself, all these I'd happily rectify, however the damage has been done and I feel that time at this QTH can be measured in weeks now not years.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 15 May 2017

Neighbour troubles

Now I enjoy the radio hobby immensely, not just the talking but the technical side, and as you know I like to build antennas rather than buy them, and over the weekend I tried out my latest creation, then just imagine how upset I was when I went outside this morning to find a note attached to it, handwritten and on a scrap of old envelope, that read "REMOVE YOUR STUFF TO YOUR OWN FLAT ASAP!!!", what was the problem? none that I can see, was it in anyone's way? Not at all, it was placed between two inaccessible sheds, I am no closer to finding out who did this.

I was forced to go out with my heavy duty cutters and some self-amalgamating tape to cut the coax as close to the antenna as possible and waterseal the outside end, the antenna end is in the dry and will be receiving a PL259, or a crimp on inline SO239 if such a thing exists, in due course when I have some suitable for RG58 in stock, the coax will also receive a PL259 at roughly the same time, as I intend to use crimp-on type connectors I will not be able to get this antenna running again in time for the June 2-metre FM Activity contest, so I may have to go to a high spot and use the car set up.

I feel that I am yet another Amateur radio operator that is a victim of intolerant neighbours, my thoughts are now looking at moving to another QTH where I may have more antenna possibilities, I have respect for my neighbours and would have gladly come to an understanding should they have come over and spoken to me, not took it upon themselves to attach notes to my property, I think it is time to move to a new QTH, the current one just may not be suited anymore.

This does not mean my QYT KT-8900D is off air however, it will be reconnected back to the magmount antenna in due course and I can still operate mobile and I will still take part in the FMAC in June, and it will still be on YouTube, just not from home sadly, as my FTM-400XDE is connected to the car battery I will probably need to run the car as I'll be using the radio above 5 watts as I intend to enter the contest's FR section which allows me 50 watts, I can only use one antenna and am debating on if this will be my homemade dipole or the car's NR770RSP, though I think for operating convenience it will be the NR770RSP, and all of this comes because of one intolerant neighbour, but as it is known once one moans they all do, especially in this town and especially on this estate as a lot of old people live here.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 14 May 2017

Weekend of radio - Sunday update

Well the weekend has drawn to a close, and I didn't get as much radio in as I hoped, first off I attempted to raise the height of the antenna but this proved to be an issue without adequate support for the antenna at that height, so a new approach to getting it high is needed and I have until the 6th June to figure this out as it needs to be high for the 2-metre FM activity contest (which I intend to live stream my participation of on YouTube), of course once I safely get the antenna high I will test run it again at the new height (should be around 4 metres up as I bought 2 lengths of 2 metre pipe).

Running 25 watts has not caused any issues that I am aware of yet which I am pleased about but of course as this is the first time I've gone anywhere near this kind of power level I have to, of course, make sure it stays that way, though I doubt all that 25 watts is even making it to the antenna, especially with the CTC-50 introducing some losses in the feedline.

With the band being relatively quiet I decided to shut down the station earlier than I planned.

Well I have a week off coming up and any spare time I have will be dedicated to radio

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 13 May 2017

weekend of radio - Saturday update

Today the antenna went out and up, it is hidden between the two locked sheds but it is working, worked 2-metre FM simplex with Chris G4FZN, who was at a higher location than me and heard me better than I was hearing him, so that paves the way for the antenna to go on the air on the FM Activity Contest on the 6th June as it has been proven to work, also there is slack in the coax to allow the height to go up for the duration of the contest.

Most of the day was in fact spent getting the antenna working, rather than QSOs, I did put one call out earlier on 145.500 but had no reply to it as I was having some strange SWR issues that turned out to be the coax between the Comet CTC-50M and the SWR meter, replacing this cured the SWR issues.

So tomorrow I shall do more simplex work with the antenna, though I will have to take it down overnight tonight just to show it is temporary.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 11 May 2017

Weekend of radio - pre-weekend plans

Given I have no plans for this weekend at all, I intend to put up my homebrew groundplane antenna, all being well, and play a bit of radio on 2-metre simplex, hopefully this will give my QYT KT8900D a chance to show how well it works, it has had little airtime since I got it, and it will hopefully give me a good indication on how well the antenna works as well as I intend to use it on the 2-metre FM activity contest at the beginning of June if I find it to work well.

I should be heard calling on S20 (145.500MHz) on Saturday sometime in the afternoon if I get the antenna up, we can find a free channel once contact is made.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 6 May 2017

progress with the groundplane antenna

As you may or may not be aware I am building a ground plane antenna for 2-metres, which could potentially work with 70cm as well, today I visited a certain DIY store for some parts, these were a drill bit to make a hole for the SO239, 2 2 metre lengths of waste pipe, a T section (compression fit for ease of assembly/disassembly and has a handy curve so as to run the coax round it), 2 couplers (also compression fit for same reason) and a black end cap as well as some extra Sugru for waterproofing.

The first job was to bore the hole into the end cap, this went well until the hole was made and the hole bit injured my hand, as I was using the bit with a ratchet screwdriver handle and had my hand on the other side of the end cap, holes were made for the bolts, then the screws passed through, a fiddly job, then the connector placed on the end cap, the 4 groundplane radials have been reattached, the whole lot then waterproofed with Sugru, and the end cap sealed with the same on a cut off piece of one of the two lengths of pipe, the other end of this had the T piece fitted with the coax threaded through and connected to the antenna before it was all sealed, helped by pliers as there is little to no room.

The part built antenna was then tested with 10 watts from my Leixen VV898, on 2-metres the needle barely moved for SWR, 70cm showed similar results suggesting this antenna could be used on 70cm as I alluded to above, how this will work outdoors with 25 watts from my QYT KT8900D remains to be seen, tomorrow I will get the Comet CTC-50M jumper in place, and the antenna itself should be ready to go on air tomorrow or Monday.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 5 May 2017

more Hamfest camping preparations

In the last week I have replaced the ink in my printer meaning I have been able to print off the form for the National Hamfest camping booking, it is part filled in though I should be able to fill it out fully today, however in light of this I am looking into buying what I need for the 2-night camping.

So first and foremost I will need a tent, that is a work in progress though I have found an ideal one from Go Outdoors for just shy of £100 that has exactly what I need, a rearmost sleeping area with a canopy area at the front where a small table or two can be placed, next are cooking facilities, perhaps it is possible to get these items from B&M for as cheap as possible, the stove, the pots and pans, a kettle (I am not going without tea), gas, utensils and a camping table, I have my mini fridge to store milk and other things that need refrigeration over the course of the 2 days.

A generator is required for electricity during the day (my mini fridge should run off the jump starter at night (though when I measured it's DC current draw this may be for only a few hours) and run off the generator by day, which will also charge the jump starter), the selected generator has an output of 2.2kW which is more than enough to run my radio power supplies and the fuel tank is rated at 15 litres capacity with an 8 hour run time, as I am aware of a petrol station near the showground I will fill fuel cans near the site rather than drive the whole way with filled petrol cans in the boot of the car, the generator may have fuel in it from initial testing as I plan to do that on or soon after delivery of this unit, and because it uses the blue CEE socket rather than a traditional mains socket then a flylead is required, Go Outdoors sell a long lead fitted with the same type of MCB as a house breaker box, a mains conditioner is also required as generators aren't always a clean and stable output.

And in the last 24 hours my Intermediate licence came through so I can now up my power to 50 watts on most bands and have access to bands I didn't have access to before, and I've pretty much configured everything including the FTM-400XDE in the car, all that involved was writing a pre-prepared file to an SD card (after updating the callsign in the file) and doing a restore.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 29 April 2017

a few bits of news.

I start first with my Intermediate results now they are out in the wild, I have passed and am awaiting confirmation from the RSGB, however if it arrives today I will be out of luck as Ofcom's licencing system is down for the weekend, so no new licences can be applied for, I celebrated on Thursday night by getting dinner from Domino's Pizza, which is something I rarely do as it isn't usually cheap.

Secondly, progress to an external antenna has been ramped up a gear, I ordered a Comet CTC-50M from Nevada (IHS Group) on Thurday, I expect to take delivery of it either today or Tuesday at the earliest, and a video of my first impressions and test into a dummy load after installation will appear on my YouTube channel in due course, being a council tenant putting a hole through the wall appears to be a no no, unless of course it's for television reception, but as I am putting my homebrew 2-metre grounplane antenna on the end of this thing I expect it won't be questioned too much as it's made of the earth conductor of 30A rated twin and earth and at a distance would be barely noticed from the flat, and if anyone asks it is for receiving, 2-metre FM usually is pretty benign but you just never know.

Thirdly I have been looking into crimp-on PL259 connectors again as I feel the solder-on type are too much hassle to work with and I strongly suspect a dodgy one is causing high VSWR on my loft CB antenna (but have no way to prove this without plug replacement), the plug on the antenna end has close to fell apart, a crimp-on plug would solve this issue on the lead but whether my suspicions are confirmed or denied will be a different matter, I can get 10 of these plugs from eBay and I have a tool that should work to fit them onto the coax as I plan to move over to crimped connectors anyway as I can give them a professional look, be sure they're reliable and ease the waterproofing of them, important considering I plan to use these in the outdoor environment.

That should cover everything, hopefully by my next blog post I have my intermediate licence or the CTC-50M, whichever comes first.

73 de M6RSQ

Wednesday 26 April 2017

An antenna that could solve my HF problems?

As you are probably well aware, HF is pretty much something I cannot do due to size of the antennas that are used at these frequencies, however during the course of my amateur radio related web browsing I came across an antenna from America that might just be the ticket, the TAK-tenna, an antenna that, in it's simplest description, is essentially 2 spirals of wire, a boom separating them, and not a lot more, weighing very little and not being huge.

As this antenna is not large like the majority of HF antennas performance would probably be down, though it would make for an excellent stealth antenna, it doesn't really look like one, and one of these should handle 50 watts no bother once I have my intermediate licence, as they are rated for about 1kW CW though that power level is not really legal here on any licence, my HF setup is mostly limited to 10-metres and CB, both of which aren't generally active and CB has it's own legal limit of 4 watts ERP AM/FM and 12 watts PEP SSB.

The drawback of this antenna appears that you'd have to order it from the US, shipping will probably take a few weeks unless it is shipped air mail and it may hold a customs charge, the antenna appears to be available for a few bands, 40 up to 10, so us in rented accommodation and especially us flat dwellers can in fact get on HF, I think this antenna may be worth a look.

73 de M6RSQ

Monday 24 April 2017

follow up to my temporary mast base rescue mission

As you may recall from March, I wrote about how the local authority sent out a letter to all tenants of the block of flats I live in regarding the external sheds on the building, that is that no tenants were permitted to store anything in them, and that all contents was to be removed otherwise they'd remove it and dispose of it, one of the other things they said they would do is fit locks to the sheds, this did not happen until today, despite the deadline being the 31st March.

The locks are padlocks and no keys have been issued to tenants, this is what I thought may happen and as such can use the space in between the two sheds to erect an antenna in a plant pot, this gets around planning constraints, and it shouldn't stick out like a sore thumb either, my groundplane dipole uses stiff copper wire and as such from a distance should be invisible, though the coax won't but that is the least of my worries right now.

This comes as welcome news so hopefully I can get my 2-metre groundplane antenna up and working, how much power I will put through it (10 or 25 as that is what my shack rig can do) will depend on what I tell you on Thurday night.

73 de M6RSQ

Sunday 23 April 2017

Intermediate exam - post exam

I have completed my intermediate exam about an hour ago or so, however I am not going to reveal the indicative results, except to a certain few, until after 9:30pm BST on Thursday night, this is to give chance for other club members at my local club to find out how I got on.

Naturally we all want me to pass as I have put in so much work and revised where I can, and passing will be a good thing as explained above.

For now however I shall let only those that need to know at this stage know, except for the invigilators on the day who already know if I have passed or failed.

73 de M6RSQ

intermediate exam today

I take my intermediate exam today at about 4pm BST, I am looking forward to this as I know what it means if I pass the exam, a few extra bands and allowed to use up to 50 watts, I set up some programming for my FTM-400XDE ready for when I get a 2E0 callsign, that is set the default power output to high (the radio outputs at 50 watts at full power, 25 at half power, and as I am well aware, 5 watts at low power), of course I would not need to use full power at all times and can simply press the button to lower it, passing this exam means I am allowed to do this, does also mean changing the callsign programmed into the radio but that's an easy job to do.

You should also be aware that 2 weeks ago I bought a QYT KT-8900D 2/70 radio that can output 25 watts on 2-metres and 20 watts on 70cm, coincidence is that before I took my foundation exam I bought my Leixen VV-898 and my CRT-SS9900 in preparation for entering the Amateur bands for the first time after my pass, the VV-898 gave me 2 wonderful years of operation until I replaced it, the CRT-SS9900 is still in my shack but otherwise not used as there is no suitable 10-metre antenna connected, I posted about building a groundplane antenna to place outdoors for 2-metres as well, as I aim to finish that next weekend I hope it can be ready in time for my intermediate licence coming through, which whether I pass or fail today's exam it will be ready regardless, I bought the QYT radio as it would allow me to make the most of my Intermediate from home once a suitable external antenna is set up and operating.

Also I have sat down when I can to read the book to ready myself for today's exam, hopefully this revision has helped, though I feel confident that things should be pretty much there for me it is best to revise.

I shall post a little later on to let you all know how I got on

73 de M6RSQ

Friday 21 April 2017

YouTube channel overhaul to focus on radio

I have had an account on YouTube for a number of years, nearly a decade in fact, and had used it for a number of videos both radio and non-radio related, yesterday I removed all the non-radio related videos after backing them up to my laptop in preparation for a different account later as I want to use my existing one for radio.

The changes I made were:

  • The channel description
  • An introduction/promo video for new subscribers (which will be changed after I get my 2E0 callsign assuming I pass my exam this week which I remain confident that I will)
  • Adding a section to my channel showing my subscriptions, so far this is only TX Factor at time of writing but it will certainly increase as time goes on
There is a little bit more work to be done as the course of time goes on, and more and more videos will be making their way onto the channel in due course, how this will affect existing subscribers is beyond me, however I may get more subscribers, I'll keep an eye out and see.

73 de M6RSQ

Saturday 15 April 2017

Some tinkering

In the early days of this blog I posted about building a homebrew extension speaker out of an old shower radio that bit the dust, I have had this speaker in service ever since and it has only let me down on a couple of occasions, today it received it’s first major upgrade in almost 6 years, a headphone jack, this is in the hole where the original AM/FM selector was fitted when it was a radio, I still have room to fit a mute and volume control, the headphone jack itself came out of an old speaker mic I disassembled, and is a mono jack as fitted to the rig at the other end, my CRT SS9900 at present, this was done after something else.

I had previously built a mono to stereo converter to run my stereo headphones (well both pairs of Sony over-ear headphones) from the socket on the back of the radios without losing audio in one side as these are mono, the previously built circuit was destroyed unfortunately, and had slightly too high resistors that made it so I had to turn up the connected radio to full, this new one was rebuilt using the same jack plug and lower value resistors, all this does is ties the left and right sides of the stereo part together using a pair of resistors for each channel, theoretically it should work in reverse but I’ve not tried that as I intend to use this solely with my radios, it works with them all and my improved speaker as noted above.

Earlier in the day I had run a test of a 2-metre groundplane antenna I had built a while ago, or part-built as it will be mounted atop some plastic waste pipe, it seemed to work ok though I did test it on a bed with a metal frame and mattresses are full of metal springs, so a proper test outdoors is needed, the test was done at 10 watts on my Leixen VV898 powered by my jump starter, the VV898’s first time on air since the QYT KT-8900D replaced it in the shack, needless to say the fact the antenna radiated at all (verified by my field strength meter I posted about) was impressive as the radiator is simply a piece of copper wire on the centre of an SO239 socket.

Well it’s what Amateur radio (and the radio hobby as a whole) is all about, making it yourself and tinkering with it, as well as the communication aspect of course.


73 de M6RSQ

Field strength meter

A field strength meter is a useful tool to have in the shack as it detects the presence of RF, and in the shack that is undesirable and can be a sign of potential feeder radiation, which as is known is often a problem if a balanced antenna is connected to an unbalanced feedline without some kind of balun, RF in the shack can also occur if the antenna is also in the shack (which in my case is more or less unavoidable at present).

A basic field strength meter does not require a battery, it works similar to a crystal set but without the tuned circuit, I had an old unreliable SWR meter for CB and set about salvaging components from it, 2 of these components were germanium diodes (silicon diodes won't work as well if at all), so I found what components I could close to the values specified from a particular circuit (some of these were from the SWR meter I had disassembled) and assembled a crude field strength meter onto a veroboard, in close range of an HT at full power it swings the needle on the meter display fully over to the end stop, a potentiometer reduces sensitivity so I was able to bring the needle back over to the end of the "FS" markings (this SWR meter had readings for field strength but they were not used in the meter as it was a basic CB SWR meter and the majority of CB users usually don't need to know more than if their antenna is working and not going to kill their radio's finals).

I built the meter as a proof of concept and just to practice my soldering skills, as I've not soldered anything in a little while and am a little out of practice, I plan to build a proper one, in a metal box, using exact value components for the circuit, at some point in the future, I could have built one of these for my Intermediate but my instructor had other things he wanted me to do and it didn't really occur to me at the time.

73 de M6RSQ

Friday 14 April 2017

National Hamfest–Planning

As you are no no doubt aware, I have visited the National Hamfest every year without fail since being licenced, this usually takes place at the end of September, and I got the dates this far in advance from the latest RadCom.

My plan for this year is to stop overnight so I can be there both days for a change, I have already got the form to arrange this and this just leaves me to take holiday from work on the Thursday and Friday of that week.

I downloaded a form from the website but obviously need to print this to fill it in, then I can mail this to the Hamfest organisers in good time along with sending payment to them.

As I intend to stop overnight I intend to do some radio activities on site as well, this is where my recently purchased drive-on mast stand will come into it’s own, as I will be able to put up antennas for 2-metres and 70cm at the very least, I probably won’t do any 10-meter operation unless I can get hold of or build a portable antenna for that band in the interim.

Another issue I will have is powering rigs, the FTM-400XDE requires the car be running in order to run it at full power (which as I’ll have a 2E0 by then I should be able to do), though I’d be sat in the car when operating this radio anyway from the magmount on the roof (and I should be able to hit the Lincoln repeater from the Newark showground no problem), for analogue 2-metre operation I can use one of my HTs, as the 10-metre rig is also quite power hungry with the power turned up I would normally run this off my jump starter but I may not have a means to power the jump starter when it needs to be charged again, so I am looking into the possibility of obtaining a generator if possible as the Hamfest doesn’t allow the use of the site’s electricity hookups.

So, I have a lot to plan and 5 months to plan it in, time to get to work.


73 de M6RSQ

Monday 10 April 2017

Blackpool rally 2017 - post rally

Having again attended the Blackpool rally I can safely say I did succeed in obtaining a variable capacitor that may work for a magnetic loop at high power levels, I also purchased a new rig for the home shack that replaces the Leixen VV898, a drive-on mast stand from SOTAbeams. and a Nokia extension speaker for the car, which works well with the FTM-400XDE, at least in analogue mode, hope to try this in Fusion mode soon as I've relied solely on the internal speaker, as the connector is stereo and the speaker plug is mono I had to use the supplied stereo to mono converter with the radio, the speaker is not fixed in final position just yet.

The drive over the previous day was good, the drive over on the return journey was not so good as I got held up in traffic on the M55, I spent most of this monitoring S20 though it seemed quiet for the most part,

The new radio, the QYT KT8900D, works well with my current 2/70 antenna and appears to have better rejection than the Leixen does.the QYT mic has bigger buttons on it and DTMF can be sent with the PTT pressed again unlike the Leixen, allowing access to Echolink and IRLP on repeaters, though for me at my home QTH this is just GB3IR, HG is seemingly having a repeater keeper change and from what I am aware currenlty lacks an NoV and has no linking anyway, and CD is screened by the buildings behind me.

I of course need to try out the radio further, assemble the mast stand and have a look at the capacitor properly before soldering it to a mag loop.

And my replacement radio also allows higher power, it's currently in low (10w) mode, the radio is 25w, great for my intermediate pass in the near future all being well and getting my intermediate licence.

73 de M6RSQ

Sunday 2 April 2017

Preparation for the Blackpool rally

With a week to go preparations for attending the Blackpool rally are now well underway, today I have programmed the frequencies for both GB3FC (which like the Blackpool rally is at the Norbreck Castle Hotel), and GB3OA, located at Southport, a short way down the coast, the former is a 70cm repeater, and therefore seems only to cover Blackpool sufficently for HTs, the latter is on 2-metres, the coverage map shows good coverage into Blackpool, this will be ideal as this year I intend to go on the day before to avoid an early start and be at the rally in good time to get parked.

I have also bought some stick on letters and numbers from Halfords and now my car has my current callsign on it, as I run APRS this will allow any other Amateur operator to know it’s me, also I don’t make a secret of being a licenced Amateur radio operator for the most part, however this will be the first Blackpool rally I have attended in which my car is equipped with APRS

This leaves a few final jobs to do, first of which is to have the oil level of my car checked, as at the home QTH I have to park my car on a slight incline I will enlist the help of Halfords, the next job will be charging of the jump starter in case the battery is flat at any time, and finally if I have the chance it will be to wash the car.

I also need a battery box for the capacitor tester I acquired and since modified to run off a PP3 battery, these are cheap and available from Maplin, and I will need a capacitor tester for testing of any variable capacitors I can find, both the tester and my multimeter will be called on for this task.

This week will go quickly, and on closing I hope the sun is out again going over to Blackpool.


73 de M6RSQ

Sunday 26 March 2017

thoughts turn again to the magnetic loop antenna

With the Blackpool rally now 2 weeks away, my attention has again turned to the magnetic loop antenna I plan to build for 10-12 metres (though 12-metres may not be immediately possible due to lack of equipment for that band), sizes, capacitor values, even the feedline from the antenna to the radio is now being worked out.

The capacitor can probably be sourced from the Blackpool rally, the copper tube to make the main loop is available from Wickes as it is the cheapest I have seen it, Homebase don't sell it for some unknown reason and B&Q sell it for more than Wickes, I hope to get the tubing this Saturday for both the loop itself (copper) and the support (plastic), the coupling loop can be made out of RG58 or some other coax with the braid and centre shorted together, or the same copper tube as the main loop.

The design I had seen by Larry WD0AKX also incorporated a meter, though I plan my final build based on this design it will have an enclosure over the capacitor which will contain a motor on a gearbox to tune the loop with the capacitor and I will keep an SWR meter on the feeder, for initial tests though tuning will be done with the capacitor and a plastic tool to avoid stray capacitance from my hands, my final build will also be suited to 50 watts (maximum on the Intermediate) if I find a capacitor that can handle the resulting voltage but until I get my intermediate I would only transmit at up to 10 watts, for CB use I'd always be at 4 watts or 12 watts PEP for SSB on the midblock.

Naturally I also want both my CB and my 10-metre rig to both be connected so I don't have to go behind them to swap the coax over, this requires a switch, preferably one capable of dropping the output of the "disconnected" radio into a dummy load and the "connected" radio onto the antenna, such a switch does exist, my good dummy load is, however, rated only to 50 watts, though this would protect the finals of both radios, though the SS9900 does have a HI-SWR function that prevents TX if SWR exceeds a preset limit however I prefer the reassurance of a load always being there, as repair of the finals is something I have no time to do, this idea makes sense as the President Grant II does not have a high SWR safety cut out, much like many off the shelf CB radios.

Hopefully I can start gathering what I need to build the magnetic loop antenna this week save for the capacitor which I hope to get from Blackpool or Ripon if it comes to it.

73 de M6RSQ

Sunday 19 March 2017

Rescue Mission

As you may or may not be aware, I have a temporary mast setup consisting of a fibreglass mast, a TV antenna pole, and a 25kg cement parasol base, which at present is not set up with any antennas on it.
For a time, the parasol base, as it is heavy, and the near 2 metre antenna pole have both lived in a shed that is incorporated into the building for the storage of conventional dustbins, this arrangement suited me well until I received a letter from the district council along with a black and white photograph of the contents of both sheds, demanding the tenants in this block cease storage in these sheds and remove anything they have stored within by the 31st of this month, after that date the council would dispose of anything still left in these sheds and fit locks to prevent further use in this manner, I had to act and today I finally rescued my temporary mast base, both parts, from the council’s mercy.
With the pole and base both now safely within my flat, I am at a loss as to where to store these, so in the mean time I’ll look to put them under the bed until such times I can do something about storage outside again.
The securing of these sheds gave me an idea however, if they are to be permanently locked, with no bins stored in them as wheely bins are too big to store here, I could mount a plantpot mast containing a magnetic loop at the top and get on the air from home at last on 10-12 meters, even CB/11-metres, which I have not played with since I took my old car to Tan Hill.
Something good may come out of something bad.

73 de M6RSQ

Thursday 2 March 2017

ShackCam update

The shackcam is currently still down as I have yet to complete the hardware, however the Raspberry Pi Zero which I intend to use now has an update allowing me to make it easier to set up, it recently had WiFi added to it meaning one less device.

Externally the camera, when finished, will still appear the same, and should still function as intended, it just means now that all I need to complete the job is one power cable, one Pi Zero, the current version of the camera and the adaptor cable to connect the camera to the Pi Zero.

This comes as very welcome news because it means not only don't I need a WiFi dongle but I also do not need a USB-OTG lead, two purchases I no longer need to make.

Hopefully I will have this built after my planned 10-12m magloop.

73 de M6RSQ

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Remote magnetic loop antenna tuner

As you know, magnetic loop antennas require a tuning capacitor to tune across a range of frequencies,this is usually done manually by tuning the antenna with the capacitor, for maximum noise or strong signal and low SWR.

Manual tuning is not always ideal if the antenna is some distance away, a remote tuner is needed and this is usually two parts, a motor with a reduction gearbox and a remote control with electronics to control the motor.

I have found a suitable circuit that can do this and the majority of the parts and the motor can be obtained from the same place, there is a transistor in the circuit that has been discontinued so I have to find a suitable alternative, which I am working on now.

Obviously I have yet to buy a tuning capacitor to build my loop but I have an idea where I can obtain these and can test the controller before I connect the motor to a capacitor.

further research is needed but I should be able to begin construction by the end of the month.

73 de M6RSQ