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Saturday, 25 August 2018

Bullying by Amateur operators, apparently very real (although I know that one from off-air experience)

The other day I watched a video by Callum M0MCX of DX Commander, he had received a letter from a holder of a foundation licence who he referred to as "Tim" (not the letter writer's real name), and I was, shall I say, mortified by what Callum read from this letter, and no doubt it upset many more, it mostly went on about how older hams who are far too set in their ways did not like the idea of the foundation licence at the time (around about 2006, when the M3 pool was still used), I'm not going to repeat any of what was said in the video, however it struck a chord with me, because as you know I was betrayed, belittled and harassed, even after getting my M6 and possibly for a time after getting my 2E0 as well, by Chance Callahan KD0MXN who I did report wants to get his general, possibly as I have a licence that permits more than what he can do (though my foundation allowed me on the vast majority of HF with a few exceptions where the equivalent Technician class licence in the US allows a portion of 10-meters only as well as 2 and 70 and a couple of other bands) and he is probably not happy that someone he has an absolute hatred of and will harass at any given opportunity has a higher class licence than him.

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

I have finished the first stage of the build of the new desk and have items already on it in place, the computer is central, the radios (at least the CRT SS9900 and QYT KT-8900D) are at the end closest to the window and the charging bases for the HTs and the Jumbospot are at the far end by the store cupboard door, and with things in place the desk is holding well so far.

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...

Well to a point, I arrived home later than I'd have liked after having to visit two outlets of B & Q for all the needed parts to do the job, this was because the store I went to did not have the furniture legs in stock for whatever reason, so I had to travel to another store another 30 minutes drive away from the one I was at for the legs, which they had in white, I have got at least one board which was cut in two to fit in my car fixed together with a piece of metal plate, this alone does not provide rigidity so wood is to be used to add rigidity across the joins.

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

With my shack workspace obviously very limited I want to start getting the new custom desk built this week so instead of building it all together my plan to start will be to build it in stages, starting with the section from the window wall to the socket by the store cupboard (former wardrobe), this should at least give me more space to work and allow rearrangement of radios and power supplies and the computer from the metal desk to the larger custom desk, the metal desk is, as previously mentioned, to be retained for soldering and will be put closest to the window, this new desk will be ideal as I want to film many YouTube videos in the shack and want the shack to look better on camera than what it does now.

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

In June I posted briefly about the μBITX QRP transceiver kit from India sold by HF Signals, run by Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE, the kit is sold as a board pre-populated with all the components, an Arduino dubbed the "raduino" with a 16x2 LCD display, connectors and wiring looms and a diode for reverse polarity protection, it is up to the end user to supply a chassis, preferably a metal one.

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

Having been in the current QTH for a bit over a year now I have not turned attention to sorting out a bigger desk for the shack as the current metal desk is very cramped indeed.

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...

YouTuber "Ringway Manchester", better known as Lewis M3HHY, published a video of him operating a network radio, the Senhaix N60, which was running Zello, one of the radio apps of choice (of which I have and run 2 accounts for, one for licence-free and one for Amateur). though it could be done on a phone anyway it does not feel like radio, hence why I rigged up a CB mic to my shack computer for systems like Echolink, perhaps I have missed a few points with these devices as they seem to be quite popular now.

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

My rota for next week has me off work on Tuesday, and that Tuesday is the first Tuesday of the month, meaning I will be able to enter the 2-meter FM activity contest, for this due to not having an adequate filter for my two Chinese 2-meter FM radios I will have to use the Yaesu FTM-400XDE in the car, though to do this means I'll have to periodically run the car engine, antenna wise I will try out my homebrew dipole, however if this should fail to work I will resort to the antenna on the car, as I don't know if this dipole can safely handle close to 50 watts of RF (there will be feedline losses)

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