Monday, 31 December 2018
A couple of final things for the end of the year
First of all, I found a very experimental Android app that allows an Android device, including network radios, to connect to D-STAR, called Peanut, unfortunately it has proven very difficult for me to register on D-STAR as there appears to be no means to do so in the UK without having to use a specific repeater, could be a blessing in disguise considering the danger posed by Chance Callahan KD0MXN on D-STAR, however there has not been anything heard from him in a while even though he reappeared on IRC and his Snoonet server ban had expired, and in the world of Amateur radio it is all about experimentation so why not run this app on the Radio-Tone RT3 and see how it fairs, I'll follow it up in the new year when things return to some normality.
Secondly you'll also remember I came very close to destroying my President Grant II in the summer, but did not do so thanks to a diode, now I know it transmits into a dummy load (and my meter claims it puts out the 4 watts legal power) however I haven't put it on an antenna to test it properly until now, the large antenna on my car roof that I want to use for 10-meters has not been retuned as yet to work on both bands, the radio receives fine, despite the amount of QRM in towns, and while the bands were quiet after my return from work I ran a couple of transmission tests on AM, FM, and SSB, the radio reports on its internal SWR meter that the antenna is an almost perfect match (can never be truly perfect), and reports that full power output is taking place, to test SSB I had to whistle, I chose channel 19 EU for this as I knew if I used channel 19 UK for the FM tests the muppets would cuss me out as they think 19 is their channel only (they should read Ofcom document Of 364, in particular the paragraph on page 9 that includes the words "channel 19 for mobile use"), the only way to know for certain that transmission is taking place is get reports from a receiving station, though I have a plan up my sleeve for that one.
So for my radio plans for 2019? I have a video in the can for that one already and will get that one on YouTube tomorrow as soon as I am able to considering I have work commitments and am on the rota for a closing shift at the pizza shop I work at this evening, though it will be up on my twitter and this blog, and during which I will find out as to why the last video came out 4:3 despite being filmed in 16:9, I filmed the New Year video on Christmas Eve as I've not had a lot of time to fit video filming in the hectic schedule over the last couple of weeks.
So tonight I will be monitoring GB3IR, the network radio (notably channel 00), CB channel 19 UK as part of the Grant II's ongoing tests though I don't hold out hope to hear anything civilised there, and I am debating on including the Jumbospot in the car tonight on the power bank so I can monitor the hubnet at the same time as GB3IR as I can monitor hubnet over DMR, however with me working I may not be able to respond to any calls, though I could be finished before midnight.
Time to wrap this up, and have a happy new year to you all
73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730 for the last time in 2018
Friday, 21 December 2018
Testing the 10/11-meter antenna
Thursday, 20 December 2018
An antenna for 10-meters /m
My current 10-meter rig is the CRT SS9900 (a rebadged AnyTone AT-6666) which I have configured for the last current 10-meter bandplan I saw (though this rig cannot do CW so I can't use the CW part of 10 once I have learned morse code but I can still use SSB, AM and FM).
Looking at Thunderpole's website the antenna in question, which is also taller than me, appears to be one of the Sirio Hi-Power antennas though there is no label on it, it is fitted to a very familiar magmount, a Sirio Mag 145 PL which I already use on the car myself for my Diamond NR770RSP for 2-meters and 70cm.
As I would like to put this on the car in a more permanent fashion I need to figure out next, by looking at the roof, where the antenna could go, it needs to be spaced sufficiently from the existing 2/70 antenna in such a way as that both when driving and when parked the SWR is not upset on both antennas, the antenna whips around as typical of CB antennas of that size, the Diamond antenna for 2 and 70 is more rigid with a spring in the base, looking at the space on the roof of my car I would probably have to sacrifice the broadcast antenna and replace the whip on that with something exceptionally short, another hands free mic would be needed, though the mic part is OK in situ as it appears to be connected using a Phono connector I could use a switch to switch between the FTM-400 and the SS9900, both radios would still have their own PTT switch.
Power to the rig would require another relay, there's an auto parts place in town I could get one from cheaper than Halfords, and I can tap into the same loom, for power I'd have to run yet another power feed from the battery to the SS9900, though Mac did suggest I could run this radio, as he has one, off the cigarette lighter I suspect that I'd have to run it QRP which is fine sometimes but not all the time if I did this.
The height of this antenna introduces new problems, low-hanging tree branches being one, low bridges, car park headroom restrictions, a local petrol station in Richmond where the clearance closer to the shop is lower than it is closer to the road, though I rarely refuel there, and potentially one or two other issues like power lines (though these are generally high enough for HGVs to pass and this antenna would not add that much height to my car, it's about equivalent to a person standing on the roof), and telephone lines, again these usually are high enough for an HGV to clear safely.
My plan is to test the antenna static first, that involves a trip to my usual radio playground in Richmond with the antenna in the boot, a notepad, the Zetagi SWR meter as it is the most reliable one I have for those frequencies, and the dummy load to get the power levels sorted, the radio will be powered by battery, the notepad is to note the SWR curve on the antenna on my car, this does involve sacrificing the broadcast antenna but nothing that a quick trip to Halfords won't fix, I'm going to film this for YouTube as well, and while I'm there, I'll stick a CB on it as well, my trusty President Grant II, and see how it performs on 11-meters, might as well if it's a nice day and that rig can run off the cigar lighter as it's quite low power, I'm obviously not going to run the SS9900 on 11-meters as, after all, that's technically illegal, even if it can be made to work there.
Though I am taking a dedicated 11-meter rig with me the T2LT will not be coming with me because this is a test of this antenna across both bands, any contacts I make on either band will be done using the antenna I have been given.
73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730
Monday, 17 December 2018
new videos are up
upcoming Amateur radio videos
The JVC Everio camcorder that I have been using to do my videos has developed an audio fault and has at least at one attempt to record a video recorded one with very bad audio, to the point I suspect the mic element is failing or there is a connection loose somewhere, as I've already recorded part of the Retevis RT87 video on it I will have to investigate as to whether this is also bad or not, and also investigate whether this fault is intermittent or not and if it can be repaired.
The two videos are being uploaded to my Google drive to allow transfer to my video editing box (as I don't have a reliable USB-C lead in the house), this will give me some time to figure out what is wrong with the Everio so future videos can be made on it, if not it's a trip to CeX to replace it (the Everio itself was a CeX purchase).
I should have these videos both edited and up on YouTube by the end of the evening, here's hoping that the person who wanted to abuse radio doesn't rear their head and thinks it is all about them again, after all these videos aren't about them at all.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Sunday, 16 December 2018
The weather and radio
Also with the winter weather there can be treacherous driving conditions, ice on the roads can be an extreme hazard, though I have a mobile station so should I get into any difficulties and my phone for whatever reason does not work I can radio for help on 2-meters or even 70cm, and I also plan to keep a HT or two in the car whenever it is out, I plan to include PMR446 equipment as well as many people tend to use this just as a cheap means of communications, I am also working on 11-meters as well however I have no place to mount an antenna at present for that band.
I do intend to brush up on emergency procedure should I need to call for help as, of course, I've never made an emergency call and hope never to have to, however I feel it is best to be prepared, after all in the severe weather mobile phones simply may not work and the only way to call for help could well be the radio, which is why I recommend every driver carry two-way radio equipment in the car, be that CB, PMR446 or, if you're duly licensed, Amateur radio, I don't include taxis in this as they tend to already have a PMR set in the vehicle as part of their duties, and I don't include truckers in this as they tend to have CB radio as a minimum.
A pair of PMR446 radios costs £10 for a very basic set, even Baofeng make them now, a CB radio all in is less than £100 with antenna and cabling and can be run from the vehicle cigarette lighter socket, the only accessory you'd need is a cheap SWR meter and a patch lead which you'd only ever use when first installing the equipment and there are lots of guides on how to install a CB radio into a car online, forget the mobile phone if the weather turns nasty, use radio, it will never let you down in the bad weather if you get into trouble.
Perhaps vehicle manufacturers should include CB radio as standard equipment, or even PMR446 as the antenna, even external, would be permanently fixed and still meet the required standard, it makes sense, the mobile phone in times of adverse weather simply cannot be relied on
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 15 December 2018
Noting a lot of similarities between the person that wanted to abuse radio to prank truckers from my previous posts and Chance Callahan KD0MXN I thought they'd pair up nicely, the other similarities being that they both like to blame people for things that they have not done.
I didn't want to post this on twitter because I wouldn't have been able to go into any detail, but it makes sense, these two fit together well, they're both manipulative (though Chance Callahan KD0MXN is more successful at this), harass people they don't like as they see fit, accuse people of things they've not done and make intent to abuse the radio spectrum, of which both of them are liable for should they do.
Hopefully both these people will be away from radio in the near future, and limited to the one two-way radio every person near enough has with them, a mobile telephone and even then on serious limitations
73 de 2E0EIJ
Thursday, 13 December 2018
The differences between Amateur and CB radio - the video
I also gave sound advice as to why it is a bad thing to abuse the radio spectrum, I have nothing against children playing with PMR446 radios as that would get them interested, what I am talking about is using radio to mislead truck drivers and using Amateur radio illegally and also using non-type approved equipment on bands you shouldn't be and running higher power than what you are allowed to run, noting that CB is 4 watts, the Aussie UHF CB is 5 watts, American 11-meter/27MHz CB is AM not FM, and PMR446 is 500mW, and how misuse of any kind could land you in trouble, as it could be classed as deliberate interference, along with pirate operation on the Amateur bands which is also highly illegal, and use of equipment outside of its intended market, the Australia UHF CB system is only legal in Australia and some other ITU region 3 countries if I recall.
My main piece of advice is don't operate where you're not meant to, in a fashion you're not meant to, do not cause deliberate interference and absolutely do not operate in any radio spectrum that you should not operate in, not only is this illegal it could also cause danger to safety critical systems such as aviation, fire, ambulance, police and maritime communications
Needless to say one person, who is not even part of the hobby anyway, was insulted by this despite the only person being named was Chance Callahan KD0MXN, as we all know the sort of things he likes to do especially in breach of Part 97 of the FCC rules.
Wednesday, 12 December 2018
The differences between Amateur radio and CB radio
I will do a video on this but before I do I will post some things here.
Firstly, CB radio is, in most countries, licence exempt on 27MHz, the 11-meter band, limited in power to 4 watts AM or FM (but see below about the next uneducated thing from this same person), and 12 watts PEP SSB, depending on the rules and regulations in force in the country it is used in, ie no FM in the USA, usually 40 or 80 channels again dependent on country, Australia has UHF CB in around 477MHz (40-80 channel) with a 5 watt limit.
Amateur radio on the other hand requires a licence, which is obtained by taking and passing an examination which goes over knowledge of most fundamentals of radio transmission and reception, and gives access to frequencies all over the radio spectrum, and transmission power sometimes in excess of 1kW (I know this to be the case in the United States) though here in the UK and also in Australia I believe the top power limit for full licencees is 400 watts, using modes ranging from morse code, SSB, AM, FM and various digital modulation modes, the US limit their licencees on spectrum access rather than power limit, they get 1.5kW off the bat, kind of worrying when you factor in Chance Callahan KD0MXN.
The controls on a CB radio are limited to channel, volume, squelch, and RIT/clarifier on units capable of SSB transmission, and possibly a CB/PA switch to allow use of a PA speaker, on an Amateur radio set there are usually more buttons and a DTMF keypad on units that operate on the VHF and UHF bands where repeaters are common, none are channelised unless a ham uses converted PMR or CB equipment which they are legally allowed to do for the VHF/UHF or 10-meter bands respectively.
Amateur radio requires callsigns be used, and the operator must give their callsign at the appropriate intervals including at the start and end of a QSO, in CB there is no requirement for callsigns though an unofficial one can be got from various online groups such as Charlie Tango and Transmission1.
So, the person that decided they wanted to use an Amateur radio set to wind up truckers decried everything apart from AM and FM, these are modes of modulation that even Amateurs and CB operators use, not exclusive to broadcast, as it turned out this person had done no research into the subject matter and used this in an attempt to wind me up, however as I have more knowledge on this subject it backfired on them as I was laughing.
I later discovered the set in question is an old Australian UHF CB set, not an Amateur radio set, needless to say this person is very short on their ability to use Google, so perhaps this person should do their research before attempting to use references to Amateur and CB radio to wind me up, and also should they get a radio set to wind up truckers they could find themselves in trouble with the authorities of their country, as radio has rules, and misuse of radio can put someone in serious trouble
Video coming soon
73 de 2E0EIJ
Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Though I have moved QTH I plan to use the same camera housing, only this time I cannot fix it to the ceiling as I intended, this time I plan to run an overhead support from either the desk or the shelving unit for the camera, how power will get to it will remain to be seen, which has to be sourced from the mains supply to keep the camera on and ready for the shack computer to pick up the feed.
I also plan to set up a portable operations ShackCam over a 3G/4G connection with a feed back to the home server, I have written up pages to support displaying this however this requires another Raspberry Pi Camera and a 3G or 4G connection to send the data over securely back to the server at home, and a means to power it in the field, battery or solar power would suffice but a Raspberry Pi requires 5VDC and a supply rated at around 2A so I would need to make sure that at least that amount of current is available.
The original plan was to get the ShackCam on after last year's National Hamfest, this fell through for various reasons, including me shutting down the original web server used to host the page, with a new server up and running it is more likely that the ShackCam should return soon.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Retevis RT87 first writeup
The radio itself certainly feels like it was well made despite its Chinese origins, a nice clear LCD display, audio sounds good, not sure on transmit yet as I am working on that, and also not sure if it truly will get away without being overloaded by pagers or any other strong signals but we shall see.
I am not going to write up too much about the radio as I am still filming on and off and have yet to get to the outdoor tests, this will be on my days off next week as the weather has not been right for it this week, however I should have the video up soon, also I have done the power tests but can't reveal too much on that until the videos are up, I don't want any spoilers now, do I?
73 de 2E0EIJ
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
RT87 on order
I won't be testing the IP67 rating, someone probably has already done so and I would rather not risk destroying a brand new radio, might be on YouTube somewhere, range and front-end test from the racecourse in Richmond will certainly take place (my VV-898 and KT-8900D both had problems with pagers here though the latter less so, no doubt my Baofengs do as well, my Wouxun and AnyTone may get away lightly but I don't know and will probably test them too if time permits), and although other videos on other YouTube channels cover it I'll briefly go over the programming of the radio using the supplied data cable, and also I will include a link to the Amazon page where I ordered the radio from in the YouTube description.
It may take a few days for the video to get onto YouTube as I do have to work and obviously the hilltop test at the racecourse will be weather dependent also, I can start the unboxing and programming parts first then get the rest filmed and then the whole video put together in a timely fashion.
I will update this when I get my hands on the radio.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 24 November 2018
Retevis RT87: my next HT?
I found the radio on Amazon for £54 plus shipping with the data cable, the cable is needed as this radio is IP67 rated and uses a pogo-pin arrangement to make the connections (the pins are on the accessory, contacts are on the radio under a waterproof cap, my network radio has a similar connector but I believe it is not IP67 rated), otherwise I'd be spending hours programming a radio like this by hand.
So I certainly will order this radio, and put it through its paces, for £54 plus a programming cable you certainly cannot go wrong.
Probably does not work with Chirp yet so I'd have to install the Retevis software on my shack computer, it's not much different to Chirp and looks simple and easy to use compared to most Chinese radio programming software.
I'll keep you informed
73 de 2E0EIJ
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
The SWR on 2-meters was acceptable, even at the full 50 watts the radio could do, the SWR on 70cm simplex however was unacceptable, though when I checked the SWR at the frequency used for the Jumbospot (which I occasionally have in the car) it was acceptable at all three power levels, I since adjusted the antenna and got the SWR on 70cm down to 1.7:1, still some loss present, and as the radio is being fed with RG58 anyway I expect loss on the line anyway at those frequencies, the only cable I have similar in size to RG58 is RG8 mini which has a foam dielectric and would be crushed in the tailgate and would create a new problem so I'd need to find coax that is less lossy at 70cm and wouldn't simply be squashed by the tailgate. a tall order but worth it to get the message across.
I plan to do a second SWR check in a week as I do a lot of driving and things may change, though they shouldn't as long as I avoid any really low branches or multi-storey car parks.
Adjustment of the antenna was difficult as the adjustment points had all seized, however a squirt of WD-40 soon sorted that, the grub screws holding the antenna together were easy to get out with an allen key though, all good in that regard, and with a better SWR at 70cm I feel confident that I won't destroy the finals in a £500+ radio that would certainly be out of warranty by now and the finals would not be covered by that regardless as no manufacturer honours the replacement of the finals, however if the final power transistors are of a common type and are through hole I see no reason why I could not replace these myself however the FTM-400XDE is a modern rig and has a lot of surface mount components so chances are I'd have to send it to the pros to be fixed as I cannot solder surface mount, hence why it is critical I don't blow the finals.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Tuesday, 20 November 2018
YouTube video editing facilities now in shack
I also have moved my audio mixing desk into the shack and plan to use it with the video editing, ideal for recording and inserting audio into videos, I won't be connecting this to a radio, another plan was podcasting, however since discovery of the ICQ Amateur/Ham radio podcast I may have to come up with something unique, I have a few ideas however whether this comes to anything remains to be seen, given I am busy at present with work so no time to play radio really either.
The same machine has enough grunt to run RTL-SDR related software without complaining though I have not fully tested it yet and the antenna feed might be longer than I'd like unless fed with RG213 which would negate losses at the frequencies the RTL-SDR would operate, as I may want to include RTL-SDR feeds in videos.
I have tested the setup and found an audio abnormality on the sound card I fitted, I swapped the audio input and output between the fitted sound card and my Creative SoundBlaster Live 24 USB, noise gone, the video processing has not been tested as yet but will be tested as part of processing the first video, the camcorder simply connects as a USB drive as per other machines.
The software running on the machine for video processing is Kdenlive rather than Openshot (which I had on my desktop), so hopefully this will be a big improvement in the quality of my videos.
As you will know I purchased my first Network Radio at the 2018 National Hamfest, I have planned to do a review on it for some time but this has not happened, with my shack now somewhat organised I should be able to get this one, I have not transmitted on the Network Radio yet either apart from tests, so I hope to get the review made and up now I have new editing facilities for my videos.
I also hope as a result of this I can now have more content to YouTube not only on my Amateur radio channel, which applies here, but also my electronics channel, my cars channel and my Internet videos channel.
Keep an eye out on my YouTube channel for my Network Radio review (Radio-Tone RT3) and more videos from my part of our wonderful hobby, and keep an eye out for me at rallies, I may be at Spennymoor this year depending on circumstances and plan to start next year's rally season either at Blackpool or Ripon, whichever comes first and hope to get videos of these rallies up on my channel too, and if you see me at any of them do say hi, and hopefully by Hamfest 2019 I should be an M0 (I will update the blog and YouTube channel on how I do), wish me luck :)
73 de 2E0EIJ
Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Full licence possibilty
I want to pass the full examination before the syllabus changes, with this course I have to arrange my own examination at an exam centre of my choosing, naturally this would be the Colburn (Hudswell) club though I may have to go to Bishop Auckland or Ripon depending on situation at the time.
I have read the book already however will need to re-read it again and possibly the Foundation and Intermediate books just to keep me up to speed on the earlier and lower tiers of licence.
I have a few incentives to go for the full apart from the sense of satisfaction I will get from doing so, as I want to run a self-contained APRS receive only igate from my home QTH and under my current licence I must be at home to run it, initially using a Raspberry Pi and an RTL-SDR with a battery and solar charging, and NoVs for this can only be done on a full licence, mainly to fill-in for MB7USD as that does not seem to be working all the time and thus those that use APRS in the area may not be able to get into the APRS-IS. I also want to be able to help others to get into the hobby and with my intermediate I am very limited in what I can do in that regard. Another thing I would like to do is run special events stations which I could not otherwise do without a full licence, again to help promote the hobby.
The other thing I'd be able to do is run up to 400 watts on most bands (the UK limit without an NoV is 400 watts), and most modern rigs are capable of up to 100 watts on HF (sometimes a bit more depending on the radio) though power is not everything as successful contacts can be made on some bands with as little as a few watts sometimes milliwatts under good conditions.
And finally I will then be able to operate in other countries and also /MM (maritime mobile), the latter with permission of course, though the likelihood I'll operate /MM is low.
My journey to the full licence should hopefully start soon and in a few months I hope to have achieved what I set out to do, I will keep you all posted on how things are going.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 10 November 2018
As you know, aside from 10-meters, I lack any suitable equipment for use on HF, however I have been saving up what I can to get some HF equipment, antennas are no issue as I will build these as this is significantly cheaper and I plan to experiment with magnetic loops on HF and use wire antennas when portable so no point buying antennas (and Marconi would spin in his grave if I did).
The equipment in mind is all Yaesu equipment, their new FT-818 or their FT-991A, depending on what I save, the latter does have an onboard ATU and higher power output, the FT-818 has a battery onboard and no ATU and outputs 6 watts, I made my first 80-meter QSO from the club last meeting under the club callsign thus allowing me to use the 100 watts the radio was putting out legally, and most HF activity under my own callsign is generally restricted to 10-meters as I only have a radio for that band though at present no antenna.
I have little to no experience operating HF other than on 11-meters where different procedures apply as it is the Citizens' Band, though SSB is available my inexperience tuning an SSB frequency does show which is why I want to get into operating HF as soon as I can do so to gain that experience, after all Amateur radio is all about learning and learning to operate on HF properly is certainly something I intend to do, for starters I will be listening to Hack Green again and using that to start learning to tune SSB, as I can plug my shack headphones into my shack computer, that way once I have a knack for it I will be able to do it and also at the meeting after next at the club I shall practice my tuning on the club rig, not sure which bands aside from 20, 40 and 80-meters are covered by the club rig or its reserve, however once I know that information it will allow me to have a good tune around during club nights and practice for when I have HF gear.
Whether I get a 991A or 818 does not matter overly much, as I plan to do some portable ops during the summer and also operate from the National Hamfest every year, if I get an 818 I will probably need an amp unless I want to do true QRP say from the hills (SOTA activations for example), but this is a post for another day.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Monday, 5 November 2018
UK legal CB is 37 years old
2nd November 1981, 5 months before I was born, CB radio was legalised in the UK, though not how the people wanted it, however it remains alive and well, though not as utilised as it once was as most of the idiots in modern society all lurk on social media, that said CB use has picked up a little with AM and SSB modes being legalised a few years ago.
A "big net" was held on Friday, which due to work commitments and no CB equipment in the car at this time I was not able to take part in, it doesn't matter to me that I have my Amateur radio licence, it all started for me on 11-meters and to a point PMR446 as well but that is another story, apparently the turnout on UK channel 37 was pretty good, I was planning to go to Sutton Bank near Thirsk to take part in this (after my success at Tan Hill during Activate All Counties I wanted to try something different and I know Sutton Bank is a good spot for radio) and use the President Grant II as the radio, but as I mentioned work stopped me doing this.
So, how to partake next year on Channel 38? My idea was one I had with my previous car, as my current car is identical in almost every way my plan was to fit the cycle carrier I had installed on my previous car and mount a CB antenna (and possibly a counterpoise) to the carrier using an off-the-shelf mirror bar mount, however I am looking into doing something similar for 10-meters so I can operate on 10 mobile, so I'd need an antenna that could cover both with minimal adjustments, the first step of course is to fit the carrier which I will have to do on a good day, the carrier is a Westfalia monoflex designed specifically for the Toyota Aygo AB10 and its two Groupe PSA sister cars, my idea was to fit a large CB antenna to it, and later a full HF antenna, this would allow me to use CB and 10-meters on the road and I'd be able to participate in nets like the big net that celebrates the anniversary of CB radio being legalised
as I am working to save money for the future and get an HF rig as well as something nice for someone special to me (the future XYL of course), I should see my "antenna and cycle carrier" idea becomea reality in the coming months, how it will work with a bicycle on the carrier remains to be seen as I will be testing that too.
73 de 26CT730/2E0EIJ
Tuesday, 16 October 2018
M7 callsigns now being issued by Ofcom to newly qualified foundation licence holders
I decided after seeing this information on another of Lewis M3HHY's videos to wait for RSGB and Ofcom to announce it before posting this, however it appears the M6 callsigns have finally run out (I still hold M6RSQ though do not use it on air at present given that I have an Intermediate (2#0EIJ) but still have the freedom to use it if I so desire as it is still valid) and Ofcom are now starting to issue M7 callsigns to Foundation licencees who have recently qualified.
This does bring the question of how many M0 calls are left for full licence holders, as I hope to qualify before the syllabus changes in August, and obviously M3, M6 and M7 are all used for Foundation, and M1 has already been used for full licences, leaving 2, 4 and 8, 9 is not used for Amateur radio callsigns in the UK, at least in the G series anyway, except in some contest callsigns. though Ofcom may change this as they have that power
RSGB's official announcement was on Twitter in the last 48 hours, however not put out by the fiasco surrounding Activate All Counties that went against him, Delboy gloated in reply with a link to a post from his blog saying he had "beat them to it" when in actual fact he had heard a new M7 call on air local to him on 2-meters after I read the post, which predated RSGB's announcement.
I have always encouraged people in the hobby to go out and get their M6 call, now I simply encourage them to get the M7 call and find there is more than 80 channels at 27MHz and 16 channels at 446MHz to play with.
and I look forward to working an M7 station real soon
73 de 2E0EIJ
Thursday, 11 October 2018
Amateur television - a new adventure in radio for me
As you know I went to the National Hamfest this year for both days, giving me an opportunity to speak to more organisations than normal, one of which was the BATC, who were there with examples of their Portsdown transmitter used for DATV (which uses DVB-S and therefore can be received on a domestic satellite receiver but not Sky branded equipment as that is locked down in firmware and cannot be unlocked to tune to DATV) and a couple of other bits and pieces and an opportunity to join, after giving it some thought I plan to do so but lacking a suitable Raspberry Pi I cannot begin to construct the Portsdown myself so I looked at a cheaper and more challenging alternative that the BATC have on their website as a means to transmit ATV.
The alternative are the transmitter and receiver pairs used for FPV from drones, these operate in the 5.8GHz region, part of which falls within the 6cm band, since I gained my intermediate I also have privileges to operate on that band, something I did not have with my foundation, the agreed on frequency is 5665MHz, or 5.665GHz, which most of the units, though not all, can tune to, though I'd want to mount these in a diecast enclosure for two reasons, one so the enclosure acts as a heatsink for the device and two to keep RFI down if any, these units take a standard CVBS (composite) video feed though may need the appropriate sockets fitting to connect the camera to the TX and the monitor to the RX, the TX unit also needs a means to insert a callsign and send out a test card, the BATC suggest a memory card media player unit for this purpose, my idea is to add a video splitter to allow me to see what is being sent to the TX as well.
Camera wise I am sorted, I have a long redundant Samsung camcorder that, since I bought my JVC Everio camcorder, has been seldom used and been allowed to remain in a state of discharge, it had fitted a coin cell battery to back up the time and date, though not a feature I'd need and this battery has not leaked and the camera works fine and tested into a video source the picture is clean enough for transmission.
Antenna wise I need to look at, a single antenna requires a changeover relay, these can be had at rallies for a small amount, the antenna itself needs to be directional, horizontal polarisation, and equipped with an N type connector, 5.8GHz WiFi antennas would work here though these are expensive, a cheaper solution is to build an antenna, as I like building antennas I see no reason why not, a design I have seen involves copper wire and double-sided PCB and a chassis mount N type connector, as I lack any coax at this time I could simply build 2 antennas so I have one for TX and one for RX and the units connect directly, however these use RP-SMA and as such require an adaptor or an appointment with a soldering iron to swap the connector to standard SMA and again an adaptor, the former is quicker and easier.
Before I begin I plan to join the BATC as their annual fee is low, around £8 or so if my memory serves right and they send out a quarterly publication called CQ-TV, which sounds like a good read.
I watched a video from BATC's CAT17 conference in which the very person I spoke to at Newark discusses the 5.8 GHz FPV system being used for ATV, and a demo as well, including antenna information which include modifying a Sky Minidish (which are very common now and there are a few surplus ones doing the rounds) with a PCB log periodic antenna at the feed point, the BATC wiki details a homebrew antenna that I alluded to above.
Lastly at this frequency your normal coax is useless, so in the case of 2 antennas and no changeover relay the TX and RX are directly connected to them, 0dB loss, or if you're using a changeover relay, one antenna and possibly also a power amplifier (to get the TX up to 2 watts) then you'd need short coax links that are not lossy at these frequencies and fitted with SMA connectors for changeover relays and adaptors to convert the RP-SMA to standard, at my next rally attendance I of course will be keeping an eye out for microwave changeover relays as these frequencies are classed as microwave.
So in summary I have a camera, I have a mic to connect to the camera, I have a cable to connect the camera to a monitor/TV (which will go to a TX instead), all I need now is the parts to build the system, and because this station will be operated /p 99% of the time it will be created with this in mind, I also intend to build a self-contained receiver standalone to the main station to ensure the TX is actually working with help of an assistant.
I may, once I've got this up and running and had a couple of QSOs over it, demonstrate it to the local club, perhaps keeping the RX at the club and they talking back on 2-meters on the agreed talkback channel.
The best part about all of this is that everything can run off 12 volts so all I need is a battery, and while doing this I can still work on the Portsdown which will take a little while but I enjoy building things, part of the appeal of Amateur radio, the technical side of things too also is of interest hence this interest in Amateur television.
Time for further research and I hope to get something working real soon and I'll keep you updated on progress as it goes on.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Monday, 8 October 2018
The fatal flaw of cheap Chinese radios for 2m and 70cm
YouTuber 'Ringway Manchester', Lewis M3HHY, posted a video of himself and another amateur attempting to make contacts on 2-meters simplex from Blackpool Tower, something I myself wanted to do but decided against and, as Lewis revealed, I too would have failed as on the day I had only a Baofeng with me.
Radios made by Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu all have good front end filtering on them and a superheterodyne receiver, with a couple of the really cheap Yaesu radios being an exception on the latter, cheap Chinese radios tend to have a direct conversion receiver and poor filtering, as I demonstrated with my Leixen VV-898 this leads to interference from out of band signals.
Lewis had this problem from Blackpool Tower on a Baofeng UV-5R and another Baofeng which I believe was a UV-82, 10 stations came back to Lewis' calls but he was not able to hear them on either radio.
the other part of the problem is that there are antennas on Blackpool tower, to higher powered transmitters, though these are higher up than what the public are allowed and should have not caused a problem in theory, as I plan to get hold of a Yaesu HT (or an analogue Icom or Kenwood) hopefully before next year's Blackpool rally I hope to be able to give this a go myself and see if a Japanese made radio will be able to do what the Baofeng cannot do, work contacts from Blackpool Tower, also I really hope Lewis gives this another go with another radio, as that is a video I would very much enjoy seeing.
Chinese radios, you do get what you pay for, though don't get me wrong, I do advocate the Baofeng radios as they are very good starter radios for the newly licensed that cannot afford a radio by one of the big three.
Search YouTube for 'Ringway Manchester' for Lewis' video from Blackpool Tower and you'll see the difficulties he was having, after all the tower should make a very ideal place to get into the repeater on the Isle of Man, just Baofeng skimp on the filtering and use an SDR chip in the radios though all radios are prone to front end overload and desense from strong transmissions.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Monday, 1 October 2018
National Hamfest 2019 planning already underway
- A better tent, namely the £99 tent from Go Outdoors that I could not afford this time round
- Solar power aside the generator to run electrical appliances with a heavy duty inverter
- Running of a station on site, hopefully HF as well as 2 and 70, and possibly an amateur TV setup as I look into that aspect of the hobby
- Better Internet access arrangement rather than tethering to my phone as I had to do, the mobile data service on my tablet never worked at Newark so everything was through my phone
- A heater for outdoor use as nights were cooler than expected
- Reworked cooking facilities though I will still keep the existing stove
Sunday, 30 September 2018
National Hamfest 2018 - Post Hamfest
The camping arrangements this year were different, instead of across from the hall you'd enter the showground, stop at a wooden hut, get your welcome pack and pass, and make a left turn, as this was my first year I wasn't aware there had been any changes.
I was hoping to run a station but didn't get to do this, however I still had a good time, eating tins of beans and sausages, drinking tea and being around fellow Amateur radio operators.
I arrived on site at 6pm Thursday and got the tent up with some help, after that set up the table, the chair, the stove and filled the kettle with water and made a cup of tea, I had some milk and butter with me so was able to have toast and coffee on Friday morning (on Saturday morning the keeper of GB3IR, Chris G4FZN offered me a bacon sandwich which was very nice of him).
The drive down was beset with traffic jams, rush hour and an accident on the A1 near to Blyth services delayed me some, however the run back was smooth and not once did I slow down below 50MPH, I left the site at 2:15pm (or thereabouts and arrived back into Catterick Garrison at 4pm, a run of 1 hour and 45 minutes, only stopping at the roundabouts near the showground and the lights at Colburn Broadway, White Shops and Gough Road in Catterick Garrison, and the car handled the journey very well.
I had run my APRS beacon the whole way there and back, so click the link on the right of the blog (on the main website) if you want to see it.
I also purchased a Network Radio, I will be doing a video on it for YouTube as I mentioned this in previous posts, which I hope to get up in a couple of days, I didn't get the chance to film at Hamfest 2018 but I will do some in 2019 as I hope to have someone with me next year.
So now I must unpack the car, hope to see you all at next year's National Hamfest, or if not the Spennymoor rally should I get there this year.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 15 September 2018
Midland CBTalk and Dual Mike accessory for CB radios
CBTalk turns your smartphone into a kind of CB radio, the Dual Mike lets you use it like a CB radio, however with the crop of Network radios out there I see no reason why CBTalk cannot run on one as it is an Android device, however at present the app screen won't rotate with the phone so this would restrict it to handheld network radios, something worth trying when I get one as I hope to get one to review.
I also plan to do a full review of the CBTalk app and the Dual Mike accessory once the latter is available in the UK for my YouTube channel, most likely I will use a 6-pin variant as all my CB radios use 6-pin mic connectors except for my TTI TCB550, whether the mic will work with my Midland Alan 78 Plus Multi B remains to be seen, and I doubt it will work with my ancient Moonraker FA5000, the unit uses Bluetooth to pair with the phone the app is running on and therefore allows you to use the CB or the app (it could in theory allow you to use a 10/11-meter multimode rig as well however I don't advise this if you're not duly licenced and use such a radio on 11-meters).
The app is available on the Google Play store for Android so get it downloaded today and give it a try, I have yet to see the mic on sale as yet but I am watching the usual outlets.
73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730
Monday, 10 September 2018
National Hamfest 2018, just over 2 weeks to go
As most local shops will stop selling camping gear around about now, I will source it from Go Outdoors on my next payday as I will know then how much I will have to spend.
Radio wise I only need to take Amateur radio gear as I am travelling alone this year, obviously my FTM-400 will be coming along with me, the Jumbospot and the AnyTone 868 also (but whether anyone is actually active on CQ-UK remains to be seen on the hamfest weekend), if I can get an antenna the CRT SS9900 will also be with me, and most likely the QYT KT8900D (as it has the better pager filtering over the Leixen), and because it was a hamfest purchase my Pofung GT-5 will be making a return to Newark along with the Wouxun KG-UVD1P for analogue 2/70 while I'm wandering around, I'll keep the AnyTone for DMR use, I may even be active on Zello under my Amateur callsign so keep a listen out if you have a network radio or have it on your phone.
As for the Hamfest raffle this year, they have 3 really special prizes up for grabs, these are a Yaesu FT991A, an Icom IC7300, and a Kenwood TS-590SG, all three prizes come complete with an antenna, power supply, coax cable and SWR meter ready to go, as I am there for both days I obviously have an increased chance to win one of these, if I do I'll post after the event, I suspect there will be other prizes too as there are two raffle draws over the Hamfest weekend.
So with the two weeks left to run I eagerly look forward to my first "holiday" in a while, after a stressful year and not having had a holiday as such for a good few years this is perfect, I can be with fellow Amateurs, play radio and even buy some new toys and perhaps even win something fantastic if I am lucky, and those that go to the Hamfest and enter the raffle, best of luck to you too, you're going to win a fantastic prize if you do win one of the "shack in a box" prizes.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Tuesday, 4 September 2018
Could the reign of terror by Chance Callahan KD0MXN be coming to an end?
The FCC probably would have not done this without good reason, factor in his network-wide ban from Snoonet and a disappearance from freenode (or at least ##hamradio) in the last couple of weeks, perhaps things are looking up for the rest of the Amateur radio community in the fight to keep the bad people out of the hobby, I have also failed to see him in /r/amateurradio on reddit which may also be as a result of his network wide ban at Snoonet.
In any case, I see any action against Chance Callahan KD0MXN in a positive light, as he is a blight on every community he is in contact with and manipulates his way to power just to abuse it to get rid of those with the guts to stand up to him, however the only way he can get rid of me from the hobby is to report me to Ofcom for breach of my licence conditions, which he has no evidence for and Ofcom would need to see hard evidence regardless, and should I be subject to a station inspection because of him then this should not be a major deal, I have nothing to hide from Ofcom and am a rule-abiding Amateur operator unlike Chance Callahan.
His licence itself is still showing as active on the FCC ULS, only time will tell if it becomes inactive soon or whether that will happen in November 2020.
And don't let Chance Callahan or people like him frighten you away from the hobby, the rest of us are all very decent and civilised people, and I for one hope to work you on the bands real soon.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 25 August 2018
Bullying by Amateur operators, apparently very real (although I know that one from off-air experience)
Until watching Callum's video I though I was the only Amateur to have suffered at the hands of a fellow amateur, I was lucky as my harassment never took place on the air and if it did I'd happily hand recording of it to the FCC and see Chance Callahan's licence revoked, however after I reported on the fact he had not updated his address as mandated in Part 97 he has in the last 10 days done it, he has also requested vanity call W4BORG, another call to add to the blacklists though I don't believe he will be issued it but best to blacklist it anyway.
As I have always said, the bullies are a minority, and I continue to enjoy this hobby regardless of what I have suffered at the hands of Chance Callahan KD0MXN, I am even now putting time and effort into making my shack more functional as you will have read up on, and even hoping to get an outside 2 and 70 antenna up (though to stand any chance it will be below the roofline), so I can do more operating from home, and I could potentially return from the National Hamfest with a new radio, my last rally-bought radio being my AnyTone 868 which I got from Bowburn, and if Chance Callahan had succeeded in driving me off the bands I'd never have bought it, or started building my shack desk or even booked camping at this year's National Hamfest.
If you find yourself being bullied by a fellow ham on or off the bands, remember this, you are better than they are, if on the bands, tune to another frequency, if off the bands then if in person walk away, if online just close or switch the window, the bully will never know and if you don't give them what they want they will not bite, my postings about Chance Callahan KD0MXN are usually beyond what he has done to me as he has done plenty of things that the FCC and the Amateur radio community would frown upon, as well as it transpires the IRC network Snoonet who have outright banned him (called a G-line in IRC terminology).
Enjoy radio, don't let the bullies stop you, the vast majority of radio operators, Amateur and CB, are a friendly bunch and more than willing to help the newcomers, even me.
And thanks to Callum M0MCX for putting up the video addressing bullying in Amateur radio
73 de 2E0EIJ
Thursday, 23 August 2018
Stage one of the new desk complete
The next stage will of course be to fit some underdesk cupboards across the sections where the boards join to allow there to be extra strength and also storage, as well as find a location for the power supply unit that I intend to build.
The space difference is astounding to say the least, nothing is on top of anything nor in the way nor does it look unsightly, and the layout has allowed me to supply power to the blue LEDs inside my homebrew extension speaker, thus adding a cool look to the shack already.
The metal desk is in position now along with the soldering iron, though there are still some remedial jobs to do before I move on to stage two at least what I have now is a start.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Shack desk build underway...
I plan to be up early to be able to get the joins made and the legs on and the desk serviceable before I go to work tomorrow, it was not on my to-do list for tomorrow however things have taken a turn that way so it will be a very early night for me tonight and hopefully when I next post I'll have the basis of the desk all up and ready to go
73 de 2E0EIJ
Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Shack improvements should begin this week
The computer will remain configured with its current hardware configuration due to cost, this will be done last, starting with internal changes to increase performance and then a replacement monitor (this could either be a new monitor or the existing monitor from my desktop PC if I use a new monitor there, the changes to the computer should be done for early 2019 if possible.
The start of this build will come at a good time considering the National Hamfest is now just over a month away and I could come back with something, I do need an antenna that blends in with that outside wall and the Diamond X30 and X50 do that job very well, and there could be a new rig in the shack as well depending on what I do and do not see and buy, as I am there for both days I can get in early to get the best deals, I rarely leave a rally empty handed and the National Hamfest has not been an exception to this rule, at the very least I will get another Pixie kit as I want to assemble one on a YouTube video, and hopefully a CW key and perhaps a buzzer and battery to train myself with CW (though batteries are easy to source locally anyway) and not QRM the bands, so a large desk with a good writing surface (the metal one is far from ideal) will certainly prove its worth.
The backing cabinets for the radios will be drawn up once the desktop assembly is complete, and I am considering under-desk storage for components and other such items as these are scattered around the shack, also the existing power supply arrangement will be reviewed in due course as I mentioned I'll be replacing the Maplin supply and the ATX supply that have given sterling service over the years with at least two switched mode PSUs of the Chinese open-frame type (or "fredintheshed" type as I've affectionately come to call them after YouTube user fredintheshed 26CT1664 brought them to my attention).
One thing I did not mention on the last post of this build is the fact I plan to put a laser printer into the shack for fabrication of printed circuit boards, this would get networked rather than fed direct from the shack computer as the software I will work with, Fritzing, is installed on my personal desktop and laptop computers rather than the shack computer due to its current lack of power, and I cannot use my existing inkjet printer, this will also come later on possibly now into early 2019 unless I can get a cheap used unit from somewhere, once the rest of the desk is complete
Tomorrow I hope to go out to get what I need to begin the first part of the job, the assembly of the desktop between the window and the farthest power socket, that will allow me to move the HT chargers and the Jumbospot into a less precarious position and allow me to move the metal desk to its spot directly under the window, and ultimately increase my YouTube output from the shack.
I'll update tomorrow if I do make progress in good time.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 18 August 2018
μBITX QRP transceiver kit a possible addition to my shack
Despite a bit of scaremongering by a couple of American amateurs (something that Ashhar has tried to put an end to best he can using information he knows about the kit, given that every single one is tested before it leaves the factory) that suggest the kit is non-compliant, there are still many people worldwide using it and I'm certainly not put off using it, as there is nothing out there that conclusively proves the kit is non-compliant with any Amateur radio regulations, I still intend to order one and I hope to do that either next payday or the payday after depending on what I still need for the National Hamfest, though if I order it next payday it should arrive from India in time for the Hamfest and I can potentially operate 40 and 80 there on a non-interference basis, if the scaremongering done by the American hams (whose callsigns I will not publish at this time) does ring true then there is nothing stopping me or anyone attaching a filter to the antenna jack.
As the kit can be modified I intend to replace the mic jack with a 4-pin CB type (wired to Uniden CB wiring without the RX wire as this isn't needed) which means any off-the-shelf CB mic should work (though not my desk mic as I imagine that is atrocious with SSB), the only 4-pin mic I do have is from my TTI TCB-550 and although that's plugged into the PC interface right now I can easily swap it for use here, my second modification to the kit is fitting of an internal speaker in the case, and though not a modification I plan to add a fan to the area near the finals to keep them as cool as possible, even though this thing is 10-watts on 40 and 80 it does not mean the finals will not get warm in use.
I have seen modifications to this radio that run touch screens in place of the standard 2-line display, this is something I won't do just yet, the only display change I will make is to replace the black on green display as supplied with a white on blue display I am reusing from my now abandoned Internet radio project as it simply looks more modern than the black on green ones.
I'll follow this up should I get one, and hopefully put a video onto YouTube about it though of course there is still the small matter of building the custom desk for the shack, that is to come too.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Tuesday, 7 August 2018
Plans to improve the shack
Firstly of course is how big I want the desk, the wall on which the desk is currently on has both double sockets for the room on it, the set in use is under the existing desk and the other set by the cupboard and once supplied power to my now disused and power hungry web server, my plan is to utilise that space, though the metal desk will be retained for soldering work.
I plan to build the radios into the desk, with fans circulating air for them, all powered by a suitable power supply (a "fredintheshed" type power supply if you like, all in a safe enclosure with a switch to shut it down all properly wired in), the front panel removable and the radios held in with bolts suited to the screw holes on the side of them.
The computer monitor will be fixed in place on the desk using the VESA mount holes on the rear panel of the monitor, space will be provided either side to accommodate a widescreen monitor, that and some CPU and RAM upgrades are planned for the computer though not in the short term, the radios will be placed to the right of the computer closest to the window and radiator in order to run the coaxial cables to antennas.
As the radios will be fitted inside the desk (possibly excluding the QYT KT-8900D as the front panel is an obscure shape, the speakers will need to be brought out, cheap speakers can be got off the Internet for a few pounds or salvaged from dead equipment (my homebrew extension speaker with blue LEDs will not be stripped down) as well as headphone jacks in line to allow me to plug in headphones for private listening, all neatly labelled as to which radio they go to, and should I swap out the CRT SS9900 for a SS6900 (or any of the AT5555 variants) I may also require to bring out a microphone connector as well.
Going back to the radio power supply, the unit I refer to as the "fredintheshed" power supply is actually a cheap switched-mode PSU capable of delivering up to 33A and can adjust up to the 13.8VDC a radio expects using a trimmer pot, and according to "fredintheshed" they can be linked together to produce higher amperages though I have not explored that part and my existing radios don't pull anything close to 33A (the SS9900 is at most around 12A), though I may wish to run other 12-volt devices off this unit the enclosure will be fitted with a couple of cigarette lighter sockets, as well as a feed out to the radios capable of handling the current, the radios as fitted (Grant II, SS9900 and KT-8900D) are well within the supply's spec however extra 12-volt outputs are always handy and naturally everything gets a fuse, my Grant 2 and my KT-8900D will have modification to the power lead to fuse both sides of the power lead, I am progressively changing fuses on units to the blade type automotive fuses (though my Leixen VV-898 has a mini-blade fuse) as these are more readily available than the glass fuses and quicker to replace.
I have not as yet got an antenna up though I have a plan for this, as the outside wall of this building is white (and it is not difficult to paint brackets and poles in this colour) and the Diamond X-50 is a white antenna I plan to put one up, with consent from the landlord of course, and if I can use white coax to feed it if low-loss coax is avaiable in white, this should happen after the National Hamfest if I can obtain the antenna then, for HF the trees will have to do but this is still a work in progress, having an X-50 up low down (bracket close to window) will generally not be noticed and the surrounding trees should obscure it), however the antenna plans will have to come after the desk because it is the desk that will dictate where the feedlines will go (the X-50 will be fed all being well by RG-213 or some other low-loss coax plugged into the QYT KT-8900D, hopefully pager interference will be low (there was none on the homebrew dipole at this location last time I tried however I did notice it today when attempting to enter the 2-meter FM activity contest).
Though my woodworking skills are not brilliant I have faith I can pull this off and build a desk suitable for the spacious shack that I now have, complete with a custom power supply and a space to run coax and the radios built in and out of the way allowing the desk to be used as a desk, designs are to be drawn up soon, and I'll post an update as soon as I can.
And on closing I did try to enter the 2-meter FM activity contest from home but heard no stations as I believe my antenna may have been too low, if I am free next month I may give it a go again however I will be well into preparing for the National Hamfest so may be busy
73 de 2E0EIJ
Monday, 6 August 2018
Network radios again...
Most people will say that these things aren't radio, that is not strictly accurate as there are at least 2 transceivers fitted to them, one for WiFi and one for the mobile phone networks, there's radio involved in most of the path as most Zello users tend to use a mobile device and Echolink can come out on any repeater or node in the world, even some Zello channels are connected to a radio in some way shape or form.
I am warming up to the idea of these and am looking at the Senhaix N60 as a possible radio, also the business potential of these units is quite useful as they run Android and can be customised, this applies to all Network radios.
Perhaps I was quick to jump to conclusions on these radios and since they all come from China I imagine that they are cheap to get hold of.
Naturally people will still be saying that it isn't radio, to be honest connecting to Zello or Echolink with one of these via your router or the mobile phone networks is probably similar in vain to DMR through a repeater, just in different bands, or even like connecting to a hotspot for digital modes outside coverage areas, and I already run a Jumbospot to get onto DMR and Fusion.
So what to do next? get a network radio of course and report back.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Saturday, 4 August 2018
The 2-meter FM Activity contest... it seems after such a long wait I can finally enter it
Operating position is intended to be the Whashton Road car park of the old racecourse in Richmond, my generator will be getting used to run the laptop for logging, headphones will be connected to the radio for listening though I will have a splitter in line as I hope to live stream to YouTube if possible, otherwise I will be filming it for YouTube.
The contest is only an hour long each month and I know full well now that I have no chance of winning however this is not a problem as my aim is to take part, not win, winning is just a bonus, and of course my rota will dictate if I am going to be taking part in further contests over the course of the year, hopefully yes.
Normally when I plan to enter this something bad happens or something gets in the way, here's hoping this does not happen.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Ambitious plans and how they could involve radio
The idea is to include a 2/70 setup and HF, as well as an 11-meter setup in the design, and of course other niceties that I can include so I can have a comfy seat and a cup of tea at my operating position.
Initial designs are being worked on as I speak and antenna positions thought of as well, and a list of people I could get on board, both Amateur and non-Amateur (as this does involve a bit more than radio) are being drawn up, as I've not embarked on any kind of big project before this is something I'd like to do and hope to begin as soon as it is realistic to do so.
If it gets off the ground updates will be posted from the radio side to this blog
73 de 2E0EIJ
Sunday, 8 July 2018
DV hotspot update 5 - should be the final one
So the Jumbospot arrived yesterday, I filmed the build in parts which will be on YouTube by Monday all being well.
The assembly was pretty straight forward, the board was supplied with 2 sets of header pins for the Raspberry Pi Zero W, an SMA female antenna jack, the antenna itself, an OLED display and a set of screws and spacers, completing it a black anodised case with cutouts for all the Pi's connectors and the Jumbospot board's LEDs, antenna jack and OLED display.
The configuration in Pi-Star was the head scratching part, though once this was worked out I moved on to testing tx/rx, initially nothing but with some tweaking in Pi-Star it worked fine.
The next test I did was run the Jumbospot off a battery, namely a Goodmans 8000mAh powerbank from B&M, running from about 3:40PM to about 2AM the next morning and the powerbank only went down by one of the white LED indicators on it, the setup being very power efficient and thus can be used anywhere it can get on the Internet, I simply tether it to my phone and it does the job as long as coverage exists in the area I operate from.
Now I have it I should be able to make DMR and Fusion contacts, I mainly can be found in CQ-UK but could be on other reflectors and talk groups.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Thursday, 5 July 2018
Activate All Counties: 4 years of legal SSB CB radio, the logs are out
The event proves something very notable, CB is not dead, and if you don't fancy taking the Amateur radio exam immediately it is a great way to enter the radio hobby, AM and SSB are permitted on the midblock, all current CB radios on the market can do at least AM on the midblock if set correctly, and some can do SSB though these attract a slightly higher price, with the right conditions you can work stations as far away as America all without the formalities of a license, however CB is restricted to 12 watts PEP on SSB and 4 watts ERP on AM and FM.
I don't operate 11-meters often and this is the first time I've had any success in some years with it given conditions have been terrible, just a shame that it didn't get to YouTube but on the day I had some wonderful scenery to look at and a very famous pub across the road should I have fancied a (non-alcoholic) drink, though I was content with the water I had in the car.
Get yourself a CB radio, a fibreglass mast, some batteries, and watch Gary CTX104's video on YouTube for how to make a cheap portable T2LT antenna, then go up to a hill and start working those stations, it will be worth it and will give you a sense of satisfaction, then when you want to go further the Amateur radio licence awaits.
73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730
Wednesday, 4 July 2018
DV hotspot update 4
If it does arrive within the week then I should have it up and configured (and a video to YouTube) in good time before the talk on System Fusion (and possibly) DMR in 2 weeks time and also have made my first official QSO on DMR, I have the radio I may as well get it used for its intended purpose, though it works exceptionally well in Analogue it is, fundamentally, a DMR HT, I've gone ahead and set up a Brandmeister Selfcare account should I need it, I don't believe I need to do any registration for DMR+ as my DMR ID should be enough, and nothing should be required for System Fusion other than hotspot configuration, and the only two digital voice modes I will use are System Fusion and DMR, as I own no D-STAR equipment (and have no intention of buying or using any until Chance Callahan KD0MXN has his Amateur radio licence revoked for his atrocious behaviour), and P25 and NXDN do not appear to be used by UK Amateurs.
The only real thing left to do is wait really, it shouldn't be long now.
73 de 2E0EIJ
Tuesday, 3 July 2018
The President Grant II lives on!
This of course meant breaking out a screwdriver and removing both covers to examine the board, particularly around the power input area, I spotted a diode that I thought may have protected the radio but this did not explain the fact it was not powering up, so the fuse was examined after I did some digging on the Internet and low and behold it was blown, this was a very lucky escape as I somehow managed to reverse the polarity of the cables as I saw red on one which I thought to be positive, turned out what I saw was actually where the red attached to the black and thus resulted in the situation I found myself in on Wednesday
The radio was then powered with the fuse replaced as noted above (a lower rated fuse is safer than a higher rated fuse because a higher rated fuse is less likely to blow under fault conditions, a lower rated fuse does become a pain because it would be prone to blowing when you don't need it do), the display lit up fine, the memory channels were intact, nothing out of the ordinary, the radio covers were refitted and the speaker reconnected (the Grant II is like the TTI TCB-550 in having a speaker that is plugged onto the board rather than the wires soldered directly, wise choice by both President and Uniden), then the transmitter tests, first of was transmitter power, all within 3 to 4 watts into my salt water dummy load, 12 watts for SSB into the same load, audio was tested on AM and FM only with the receiver being my Midland Alan 42 Multi handheld, all good, receive audio was also tested, not a problem, this radio has had an extremely lucky escape, this has further spurred me on to invest in Anderson Powerpole connectors because those would prevent mishaps like this as they cannot be reversed and also the Fuser 6 unit from SOTABeams to add that extra layer of protection.
I am relieved and hope to get the Grant II on air again as soon as possible.
Also here are the pictures of the Grant II during the testing as well as the fuse how I found it, these are also available to view on my Twitter account.
Monday, 2 July 2018
Chinese radio equipment for the amateur
I am of course still waiting for the hotspot hat, might show up by the end of this week but maybe next week, who knows, as shipping from China can take time, I last bought crimp on PL259s from China and these arrived fairly sharply, I've not had a mail delivery today anyway and I doubt the board will arrive today anyway.
Want cheap radio gear, get it from China (though be aware you could get stung by a customs charge though this has yet happened to me)
73 de 2E0EIJ
Friday, 29 June 2018
DV Hotspot update 3
Wednesday, 27 June 2018
DV hotspot update 2 and the Activate all Counties event
The Pi Zero W is currently running as a WiFi hotspot using the Pi-star software, this allows it to be configured over the web interface, though from what I can tell connecting it to the Internet is not possible in this manner, once it is assembled as a hotspot then I hope to take it out of the mode it is in and connect it to my WiFi and my phone and get on the air on DMR from home.
I have had a listen to the CQ-UK room on Wires-X by way of MB6RY, the local gateway run by Andy M1SDE, the gateway, though dropping out for me while I was driving around last night, gave me an insight as to who uses CQ-UK, and I should be able to access that using the complete hotspot by means of DMR (Phoenix, not Brandmeister) and Fusion.
With the Pi Zero arriving (and making it my second Pi Zero after the one that runs my IRC bouncer) attention turned to the rest of the hotspot, with the MMDVM board (one with an OLED display) ordered hopefully to arrive before the club meeting on the third Thurdsay of this month (if so it will mean I can assemble it and video it for YouTube).
Now for the Activate all Counties event, I did not get this filmed to go onto YouTube sadly, this was due to a few factors, one of which the complete failure (my fault) of the Grant II, fortunately for me an emergency radio was to hand and I was able to participate in the net, I managed to get into a net on Channel 37 midblock, confirming my T2LT was getting out and that Tan Hill is an ideal spot to play radio.
Initially it was planned I run the radio off a newly acquired generator, sadly my proximity to the Tan Hill Inn (literally across the road from it) prevented me using the generator as it was loud, but it was there should I have needed it, the mast was bungee corded to my car's wing mirror mount on the passenger side, the coax fed into the car through the window (which did not matter as it was a hot night) and connected to an inline SWR meter, SWR was spot on.
Another test I performed as I had the CRT SS9900 with me as this was not unpacked was to see what it was like on 10-meters, as the T2LT is exceptionally narrow banded the SWR was in the red there, not to worry, it gave me an excellent idea and that is to make a wire antenna for 10, not sure I could base this on the T2LT design however I shall get another dipole centre at some point.
Conditions improved as the night went on but the band was getting swamped by German stations operating FM, I flicked through to another net close to my location however it was right in the back of the box, so my T2LT reached out to Northumberland and Tyne & Wear from my location, on receive I heard two stations in Morpeth, one of which was the famous Delboy, probably the first time I had heard his voice, this was on flicking around, not during the time I called into the net.
This is the first time that I have managed to get my CT call logged on 11-meters successfully, it was a worthwhile event and I am glad to have been a part of it.
All in all I am impressed and by what I understand the Activate All Counties was a success, shame I had to leave Tan Hill at 9:30, as I did not fancy driving down from there in total darkness nor taking the antenna down in total darkness, and on the drive back down it was back onto 2-meters and putting a few calls on GB3IR once I could hear it, as I remained in that radio mood.
Doesn't matter if it's 11-meters or the Amateur bands, it's still radio and it's what we all enjoy, and I say enjoy it
73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730