Click here for the Ban PLT website.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Testing my home SSTV setup

Yesterday I did some tests, into a dummy load for the time being, of my setup at home for SSTV transmission, I can receive using my phone however receiving using the computer would be a better option here, though I have yet to get a decent adaptor to convert the TRRS output on the KT-8900D to a standard lead suitable for driving a mono speaker (though the computer input is in fact a stereo input), however the audio from the computer to radio is handled by an old home made interface I had lying around and at first it did not work on two different serial port numbers, I then opened it up to find the ground wire from the computer side was in fact disconnected from the board, so I had to resolder it back in place, it still did not work then I found that I had not actually plugged the serial to USB adaptor in when I unplugged and reconnected what I thought was it (which was in fact the USB extension cable to the shackcam), after I did plug it in and set the correct COM port a test without the radio connected showed the "TX" LED on the unit light up, plugging it into the KT-8900D confirmed that it shared a pinout with the Leixen VV898 (I had used this interface for APRS experiments with that radio), so ready to transmit.

First attempt the radio keyed up with no audio, my fault as I forgot to plug in the audio lead, second attempt it worked and I had turned the volume pot on the circuit down to its lowest and adjusted it so the receiver, my FT2D, received the audio but not too loud, it needs a bit more tweaking which will be into a dummy load and a test receive on a receiver in another room of the house as the dummy load, though in a metal case, does radiate a little but not too much.

After that I'll try and get some pictures of the local area to have some to send out in these tests and hopefully on air when I get an antenna made and put up, been a while since I have been on 2-meters in general from home other than through repeaters on HTs, and SSTV is something I have wanted to play with for a while

73 de M0WNU

Sunday 29 September 2019

National Hamfest 2019 - I missed it this year...

However I am already planning 2020's visit to the Hamfest, this year was down to tight finances even though I had been paid because of my emergency trips to the continent last month, as well as not being given this whole weekend off as, as it has now transpired, I booked it far too late, as soon as my holidays for next year are allotted I intend to book it off, however as I intend to look for a second job, for reasons I shan't go in to, I will have to book this off with the second company I work for once this happens.

I still intend to get a larger tent, the same one I've been looking at since last year, this means I can set up a station at the Hamfest location, if my wife returns and she gets at least her foundation then this could be very useful if not I'll need to take a CB set as well.

I do have a project and it should be in full swing by the time of Hamfest 2020, as well as a YouTube video of the event, I will be looking at all the latest news for this hamfest, though I was not in attendance.

If you are already planning for Hamfest 2020, keep an eye out for me and say hi, and until then listen for me on the air, I do also monitor GB3IR, an Echolink enabled and IRLP enabled repeater, during my shifts at work so feel free to give me a call, I usually do not respond when in the shop because I generally do not take a HT into the shop as it is a very busy environment, my delivery windows are 30-minutes max (though I aim for 25) so QSOs will be short.

73 de M0WNU

Monday 23 September 2019

My journey to finally getting on the HF bands from home and the Slinky antenna idea

With my full licence out of the way I can focus on the other things in Amateur radio I want to do, this includes operating HF from home (without upsetting the neighbours of course), a thin wire antenna strung in the nearby trees should do it (with an ATU preferably fed with balanced feed up to the shack window then a coax into the shack (may need a second CTC-50)) though other antenna ideas are out there and one that would probably attract people into the hobby, and show you can make an antenna out of almost anything, is the Slinky antenna, which has been proven to work though Slinky toys are usually made of cheap steel so don't lend themselves to great antennas and would corrode if left untreated outside, in general this should require at least two Slinkys attached to a dipole centre and preferably fed with 300Ω or 450Ω ladder line into an appropriate balun (just to eliminate common-mode currents on the coax feeding it as this may pose interference and tune problems), suspended taut with a piece of rope running through the Slinkys as they don't lend themselves to staying suspended horizontally.

With no HF set it is not possible to actually test this out, though some say it could work for 80-meters it may work better for higher up, say 20-meters but nothing to stop adding more Slinkys to make it longer and closer to resonance at the lower frequencies, which would require longer ropes for holding it vertical, however the real added bonus is that this makes a crude portable antenna that can collapse down to a very small size indeed, and also extremely cheap to make.

The Slinky antenna is listed in the Stealth Antennas book by Steve Nichols G0KYA, though I first had the idea when I saw Slinkys in a local branch of Boyes (a chain of cheap department stores in the North of England) before I read it in the book (which I purchased to come up with a good way of getting on HF without drawing too much attention, though a Slinky might draw some attention though a theory is that if an antenna is mounted high up and no one looks up it goes unseen and unnoticed for some time (until of course RFI becomes an issue which as responsible Amateurs we are obliged to resolve as part of our licence terms), and hiding a wire antenna in trees might work better though I do want to try out the Slinky idea anyway because I am all for experimenting.

The only thing I don't know yet is how bad the noise level around here is on the HF bands, there are no houses with solar panels on my street at present, but there are plenty of houses and three other identical blocks of flats which means potentialy battling the dreaded PLT and nasty electronics that have had all levels of filtering removed from production models, however when I checked the noise floor on 11-meters it was not dire (about S4 at worst) and my wife and I were able to use the band to communicate successfully during her visit to the UK while I was at work or otherwise out in the car while she was at home, hopefully I have that same luck on HF no matter what antenna I use.

The biggest concern I naturally have is causing RFI to neighbours, and potentially my own gear, so I plan to from the start keep a log of all my transmissions on HF, I rarely do this for 2-meters because FM is usually benign and at worst generates a buzz on things, my poorly shielded computer speakers in my shack being a good example of this, also I plan to do plenty in the way of RF housekeeping so that any RFI issues should not occur, however with modern electronics that are not adequately immune then even this may not be enough however I still plan to operate until such times as I am told by neighbours that I am causing them interference, and it is for this reason I intend to keep a log to make sure that the neighbours are in fact telling the truth (I have had an instance already where my 10/11-meter antenna on my car has been complained about, to me fortunately, for causing TVI yet it was not connected to a radio at the time, my mobile antennas do get noticed, though the person that made the accusation had no understanding of radio at all, all I could do was brush it off and tell the truth, that the antenna was not plugged in and I was not transmitting), filtering out the true interference reports from the false one will always require a log.

The radio is the next hurdle, should I make it to Newark this year (which has been in doubt since I was told I could not have the weekend off), I will see what I can find there, if not the other radio I have in mind is the µBitX from India (which is now into version 5 after the American scaremongering about spurs forced the designer to redesign part of it) which is just a shade over £100 and can do up to about 10-watts on 40 and 80-meters (my two main HF bands of interest though I may want to operate top band later), though I am tempted to measure this, there are other "cheap" HF rigs out there such as the Xeigu radios from China (though the price point of some of these is not really cheap) and the unauthorised Chinese copies of the mcHF (which I would never buy as the designer of the real mcHF put a lot of work into it and the real thing would be my preferred choice could I afford it right now), though with the µBitX you get satisfaction from assembling the non-assembled parts and can design it into a case of your choosing (you get the same satisfaction assembling the genuine mcHF or even a transceiver of your own design if you're truly inclined), but I will see what happens there, or if all else fails I could borrow the Kenwood radio from the club as we use a Yaesu rig for HF operation at the club, though I'd need to borrow the manual tuner as well as that is another hurdle to overcome in the grand scheme of things.

I look forward to operating HF hopefully with a mix of portable and home operations because I want to be able to show to the world that Amateur radio is actually exciting and still relevant in the 21st Century, and I am hoping to sit down at some point and actually start teaching myself Morse code properly, will have to listen to some as well as practice sending it to get tuned to it (no pun intended).

73 de M0WNU

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Pager revisit

In June I posted about how POCSAG pagers were being used in Amateur radio and had been for some time by the Germans using the DAPNET, further investigation led me to discover that ETCC had been able to get Ofcom to issue NoVs for some POCSAG transmitters on the Amateur bands, specifically a spot frequency in 70cm, located in the south of England, I believe there are 4 of them all with callsigns MB7Pxx (where xx is two letters), and Pi-Star, as I posted about, can transmit POCSAG messages on the same spot frequency used worldwide (with some regulatory exceptions).

This is all part of a German system called DAPNET, the Decentralised Amateur Paging Network, and because I am a fan of older technology, as it has been proven to work hence one reason I enjoy Amateur radio as a lot of old radio gear is still in working order or has been restored to working order, pagers simply add another aspect to this, they are in very seldom use by commercial users now and only one paging network exists in the UK now, so us Amateurs can keep it alive, though we cannot use it commercially as that would be against the terms of the licence in every country and against the nature of Amateur radio in general.

Pagers have to be assigned a RIC to work, a radio identity code I believe, the system is, like a commercial pager system, one-way, so good for transmitting information on local clubs, nets, SOTA spots, or any other bit of information of interest to the Amateur radio community, the DAPNET has something called 'rubrics' which you can choose to receive information from.

Now I have my full licence I plan to play with this, though I need to put through a new DMR ID first as I believe a pager RIC would be derived from that (though pager RICs don't go up as far as DMR IDs from what I understand), though I plan to run an APRS igate which would require a NoV, running a pager gateway would require a second NoV which would be required to allow me to run both, as demand for pager use is lower than APRS-IS access then I don't have to worry for now.

73 de M0WNU

Tuesday 10 September 2019

A project for my YouTube channel

I've not uploaded much in the way of new videos lately, however I have had time to think about future videos, particularly a series project which will take some work to pull off, this will be a series filmed in locations or localities in where I have lived with myself operating on the 2-meter band, the order will be as follows:

  • Berwick-upon-Tweed (note that as it is still on the English side of the border I will not need to add the RSL for Scotland)
  • Brixham, Paignton and Torbay area (probably focus on Brixham however will not be at Berry Head due to a DVOR array there, the existence of which I learned from Lewis M3HHY of YouTube channel 'RingwayManchester')
  • Richmond, North Yorkshire (I have lived in Richmond for a significant time twice, this reflects moving there initially in the mid 80s until leaving in the mid 90s
  • Colsterdale, near Masham, North Yorkshire
  • Sedbergh, Cumbria, though perhaps operating from easy to access points on the Howgill fells
  • Sunderland, Tyne & Wear (potentially operation will take place from Penshaw Monument, or the hill on which it stands, reflecting my two years of college within the city)
  • Northallerton, North Yorkshire (the final location as I moved back to Richmond in mid 2003 until 2 years ago in which I moved to Catterick Garrison, operation on 2-meters will take place above the town at Bullamoor).
With doubt raised on whether I can attend this year's National Hamfest I will see how my days off fall and get the Berwick video done and out of the way, Brixham will probably be late March to Early April, Richmond can be any time however I want to keep the videos in sequence as much as possible, Colsterdale and Sedbergh will require the weather to be good, Sunderland and Northallerton are also not problematic with weather.

I cannot obviously publish exact dates and times of when the filming will take place nor what equipment I will be using on the days of filming, however I will post something in the days leading up to filming and operating taking place, and also if you don't want your QSO with me on the film do let me know and I will ensure it's edited out.

73 de M0WNU

Sunday 1 September 2019

The saga of 2-meters

in the last few months there has been a situation where a commercial entity, Thales of France, has wanted to allocate the 2-meter band (144-146 here in region one) to primary status for aeronautical mobile applications either removing the incumbent primary allocation, or reducing it to secondary status, given the application Thales wanted to use it for, the potential for interference should Amateurs have been relegated to Secondary was too great, in the last few days the proposal was rejected and Amateurs retain primary status, however this got me thinking.

At the end of August I was on the continent twice, driving to Dover and back from there I heard some stations call CQ on 145.500, however all I heard on the continent was APRS packets, and very little if anything on 2-meter simplex (I have my FTM-400XDE preset for UK repeaters and had not had any time to look up French, Belgian and German repeaters, nor would have been able to use them at the time as I only held a UK intermediate licence as my full had not come through until after the trips).

After my second trip out to France it made me realise why Thales thought they could try for the band, because it is under used in those places, but also here too, however after returning I saw a video by Mike M0XMX operating 2-meters portable from a high location not too far from his home QTH, and this showed the band as being used here in the UK, and one French station was heard, the consensus with all our bands is use it or lose it, while my wife is not in the UK, she's back in the US at the moment, our CB antenna won't be going back up and I will be building a new 2-meter groundplane antenna to similar design as that done by Lewis M3HHY before his hiatus a few months ago so I can return to 2-meters from the home QTH with the KT-8900D, though that radio does suffer a wee bit of pager noise and can put out 25 watts comfortably, it rarely gets used right now though because it's on a cheap indoor magmount antenna.

I have not been as active in radio as I'd like while the wife has been here, in particular around the time of our marriage a few weeks ago, however I'm going to find sometime to get out and play radio again, my studies are done, my exam passed, all I have to study now is Morse code which will happen a little later down the line and I will try and put some of my activities on 2-meters on to YouTube in the coming weeks, there's not much of summer left so it stands to reason I must pick up where I left off and help keep 2-meters active so we do not lose it to the commercial entities that want whatever frequencies they think they can get their hands on.

73 de M0WNU

Thursday 29 August 2019

Restarting my self-training in Morse code

One of my bigger Amateur radio ambitions after passing the Advanced exam is that I wanted to learn Morse code, and even more so since the passing of Charles Ring W3NU last year as he was a CW operator, this does mean I will need to get hold of a key, a battery and a buzzer to make up a Morse trainer, so as soon as I find a free moment in my hectic schedule, which is due to get even more hectic as circumstances will dictate that I get a second job now which is unfortunately unavoidable.

I don't have access to HF at this time from home which dictates that I use another CW segment in another band, or on QO-100, when I am confident in both sending and receiving, I do intend to listen to some CW to get my ears adjusted as well as practice sending on a key with buzzer and battery, best tools for this for me right now are the SDRs on both Hack Green for the HF bands and Goonhilly for the QO-100 geostationary satellite,

I also still have an app on my phone but I need to get the feel of a key as well to get anywhere

I will keep you posted

73 de M0WNU

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Advanced exam results

as you know I took my Advanced exam on the 14th August, and I am pleased to inform you that the good news is that I passed the exam, after chasing it up with RSGB a short while ago, because they had already sent out the paperwork, to my old address, they were able to give me my candidate number to log into Ofcom's website and get my full licence, I now hold the callsign M0WNU, the letters being from the callsign of Charles Ring W3NU SK in his memory as I know he would have been proud of me to make it to this point and now I have.

I will get that callsign aired as soon as I am able to do so.

Though now I am duly licensed I will have to put my igate plans on hold because of an emergency situation involving my XYL which involved a trip out to France and Germany, inconveniently while I was waiting my results, however I hope to have the issue rectified before I know it, it has been a stressful time and this has come as some great news.

73 de M0WNU

Sunday 18 August 2019

hopefully saving some money on the QO-100 RX project

now in an earlier post I mentioned about my intent to attempt to receive QO-100 using off-the-shelf hardware for Sky UK's television service, I've not come across any cheap dishes anywhere however I could potentially construct the Bias-T out of parts I have lying around as all I need to do this is a ceramic capacitor to block DC but pass RF and an inductor to to pass DC and block RF, preferably inside a metal enclosure (I have an Altoids tin in mind for this), and what I intend to do is splice the existing Sky coaxial cable and hard wire this into the homebrew Bias-T with a BNC output for the receiver, the RTL-SDR.

The LNB can obviously be tested however it won't really receive anything because it is not fitted to a suitable dish, I just need to feed it with 12-volts, my bench supply can do 13.8v which should be fine for this task, if nothing goes bang it is good, otherwise it is scrap.

So all I will need now is a suitable satellite dish and away I go, however with an old Sky LNB I do not expect the best results, but we will see, this hobby is about experimenting after all.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 15 August 2019

Advanced exam taken

Last night, on day of posting, I went up to the local club, Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society, and sat my Advanced exam, assuming the paperwork is sent on time, as it is a paper exam and not one of the newer online ones as we don't have a club PC to use nor Internet access it means I have to wait to see if the big envelope comes through the door, however I am feeling chilled out because it's no good me worrying myself over this.

This means it could be only days now before I operate as 2E0EIJ for the final time though that callsign, as well as M6RSQ, will remain valid and I can still use them, however should I get the big envelope I am eager to start operating with a full callsign, M0, straight away.

I have a callsign in mind already and have done for some time, the reason for the callsign I had in mind will be explained should it actually be available and should I receive the big envelope.

The XYL has shown support too, and even wants to go on to get the advanced, of course that would then be under the new syllabus, however with my XYL spending a year in DL to do some studies not related to radio in any way,, it may be a while before that happens.

The next 10 days should be quite exciting, though who knows, I could hear back from RSGB much sooner and if it is the big envelope I will get then I will obviously update my callsign on here, my YouTube, my twitter, and, lastly,, as well as, of course, all the amateur radio related services that require my callsign such as DMR, D-STAR, Echolink and APRS.

73 de 2E0EIJ (for how much longer though?)

Saturday 10 August 2019

setting up receive for QO-100 at my QTH

The Es'hail-2 geostationary satellite, the first of its kind to carry an Amateur radio payload, designated QO-100, has been in orbit for some time now, and I listen to it now and again on the BATC WebSDR hosted at Goonhilly Earth Station in Cornwall and have got a rough idea of when it is active, I've had a look at how to receive it and it would appear it can be received with a Sky UK 60cm Minidish and LNB connected into the RTL-SDR, however the RTL-SDRs that can power accessories on the coax only can do so with 5v, a satellite LNB requires either 12v or 18v, the polarisation is selected using these two voltages, 12v for vertical, for the narrowband transponder, which I am interested in here, 18v for horizontal, this calls for a Bias-t which essentially supplies voltage to an accessory up the coax however at the same time prevents that voltage going into the receiver (or transceiver in some cases), a Bias-t simply has a capacitor to block voltage and an inductor to block RF).

LNBs generally have a LO of 9.75 GHz unless a tone is fed to them as well, which is not required for QO-100 as the 9.75 GHz LO is suitable, the downlink frequencies being around 10.4 GHz (though generally these LNBs specify a minimum frequency of 10.7 GHz), so on the RTL-SDR for me to receive the narrowband transponder requires me to take it's frequency of 10489MHz and deduct 9750MHz, this should be around 739MHz.

As I already have an LNB, which is designed for an oval shaped dish, the Sky UK Minidish, the biggest size they are in is 60cm for the north of the country is what I need, though there is a dish and LNB already on the building for my flat I cannot use this as it needs to stay set for the Astra 2 Satellites used for Sky UK and Freesat, so I need to buy another dish and this is what I had in mind as the LNB I have, a quad-output Visiblewave unit with Sky branding on the sticker, will fit this with no modification, this gives me an option to receive both transponders as the unit had a length of twin cable terminated in F male connectors, which I intend to splice and fit a Bias-T inline for each, powered at 12V and 18V respectively, however I'd need two RTL-SDRs of good quality, the NooElec NESDR SMArt is a perfect choice as it is more frequency stable than the standard stick, as reference I'll use the Goonhilly hosted WebSDR to ensure things are on frequency, LNB skew and dish alignment is obtainable from BATC.

There should be a YouTube video of my success (or failure) of receiving QO-100 with a Sky Minidish, nice to experiment with, if not I've got a portable satellite dish to take camping with me for television use.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 25 July 2019

Belcom AMR-217B, my advanced exam, and a couple of other things.

I visited the Hambleton Amateur Radio Society last night on the day of posting this, they were having a junk sale, my guest was with me and they also saw a few things in the junk that they liked and thought was cool, one of these was a Belcom AMR-217B VHF/FM Monitor, which I picked up for £5 and that money went back into that club's funds, along with a Heathkit meter and a set of spanners that my guest liked, nice to have some Heathkit stuff in the shack, though I'll have to make it electrically sound first.

I have some pics of the scanner receiver, front, inside and back, there is a sticker on the back that suggests it was sold at one point by a CB shop in Shildon, County Durham which as far as I am aware is actually still trading to this day

The receiver front panel, cardboard to protect tablecloth

Inside the unit, looks to be in good order, all but 5 of the crystal positions are occupied
The bank of crystals in close up, a couple of these don't have an RX frequency on them however I will be investigating this later to find out what frequencies these are on, though the rest suggest 2-meters

The rear panel, showing a serial number, a slightly damaged AC input connector, a fuse holder, a Uniden CB type power connector wired inside as per Uniden CBs, and an SO239 connector for the antenna
I plugged the unit into my power supply using the President Grant II's power lead and the unit fired up and scanned through the channels and a receive test done without the antenna plugged in worked fine, I'll be doing some further testing with this at a later date.

I have my Advanced exam booked for the 14th August so now have a deadline to work to regarding this, I hope to have it passed at the first time of asking and will be revising and doing two outstanding mock exams ahead of time.

I have had some external stress as well over last weekend so little time for radio and related however I am settled and the cause of the stress is now sorted, and I can now focus on my guest and radio

I also with help from my guest got our CB antenna up higher so I can be in communications range via radio from a bit further until, of course, they get their M7 which may be a couple of years yet sadly.

And that should be everything up to date for now

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 16 July 2019

A creative solution to my 11-meter station problems.

Myself and my guest jointly cobbled together an antenna for 11-meters that we have dubbed the 'spider antenna', this takes the old DV27 on biscuit tin concept, adds radials made from galvanised steel wire used in gardens, 4 of these folded in half under the mount, which is a Sirio fixed body mount, this whole assembly is screwed onto the top of the wood.

The antenna was erected by way of cable ties to the window frame, and the SWR is actually not too bad considering how low and close to the building it is, the antenna is my springer/orbitor type antenna which has not seen use since 2015, an adapter converts the SO239 on the mount to take the orbitor's threaded connector, the whip was found to be seized up so a bit of fiddling got it out and got the SWR down (it was still set for the 106's roof).

not sure if it operates up on 10 but it seems fine on 11.

My guest and I settled on UK channel 11, the channel number is a reference to Netflix series 'Stranger Things' which features CB heavily.

73 de 26CT730/2E0EIJ

Wednesday 3 July 2019

Quiet on the posting and radio front

Due to having a guest over at present I've been taken away from my radio activities, however I am still trying to get active when I can as my guest has in the past expressed an interest in the radio hobby.

I am also in the process of tidying up the shack, with some help, and hope to get that done soon too and a perhaps a stealth antenna for 11-meters to get my guest on the air and in contact with me without resorting to Skype.

I also as a result have not finished the video on the Yaesu FT2D, and just about to finish off my work for the Advanced exam and hope to get that passed soon so I can do all the things I still want to do.

I hope to get more active on air in the coming weeks

73 de 2E0EIJ

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Hopeful attendance at the Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society and exam booking

Tonight I hope to attend the club, primarily as they have a guest speaker, and secondly to book my advanced exam before the end of August or I face being tested against material I have not studied due to the syllabus change.

The guest speaker will be talking about their life in Amateur radio, which will be nice to hear about as they do hold a G prefix callsign, this will be my first attendance at the club in the last couple of months, after I missed the colinear installation, however on passing the venue recently I have seen how the colinear is erected, this will be handy to guide new visitors to the venue either over simplex or on the repeater, this club visit will also allow me to take the Yaesu FT2D with me.

I would need to speak to whoever holds the position of exam secretary at the club in order to arrange the exam, as well as be able to have the invigilators available, getting the exam booked means I will still be tested to the old syllabus and will have time to catch up and revise, though I do have a guest scheduled to arrive in approximately one week from today, though as this guest has shown an interest in Amateur radio they may want to get a licence themselves, and I do have some plans for this summer for radio as well as the M0 exam

There will be an update later on should I attend the club, though the update may be posted tomorrow if I am not able to post it today.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 10 June 2019

Devastating news for digital voice mode users

It has come to my attention that Chance Callahan KD0MXN had obtained a DMR ID in December 2018, and all this time I was under the impression that he was strictly D-STAR, however not so.

The DMR ID for gateway and repeater operators to blacklist, if this is even possible, is 3122805 if you value the safety of your gateway or repeater and Amateur radio operators worldwide, this comes as a massive blow because DMR reflectors and talkgroups can be crosslinked to Yaesu System Fusion, though I do use DMR myself and this means he could potentially send threatening and harassing messages over DMR as it supports a form of text messaging.

From what I can tell the contacts list in my DMR HT is not up to date from that point, however as I bought a radio for DMR that can record the second I hear a voice contact from him the second it gets recorded and then forwarded to the FCC to be dealt with, I can only summise the primary reason he got a DMR ID in the first place was to access the DMR network and harass me, obviously he won't be telling people that as he is a very sneaky conniving young man.

From what I can also tell is that because the DMR reflectors and talkgroupls I use are also accessible on YSF reflectors and FCS reflectors I can access from my Jumbospot through my two existing YSF radios, neither of which are able to record as far as I know however I am never far away from a computer or my mobile phone.

So why should we blacklist this young man from DMR? here's the list

I was hoping it would be some months before I would be posting about the single individual in our hobby that by rights should not be part of it, it sickens me that he is because his behaviour, attitude and history go contrary to what Amateur radio is all about, the sooner the FCC do revoke his license the better.

On closing he made a remark in ##hamradio on freenode on the 18th May speculating that a user there could have been an AI written by a University, considering his track record his speculations tend to become accusations pretty quickly.

I know that it will be a matter of time before the individual I refer to as the 'disgusting creature' will pass this on to him, however the stress caused to me will be low to nil unless of course I hear him on the air via CQ-UK or Hubnet as these are the primary places on DMR and YSF I monitor when not monitoring GB3IR or GB3HG.

73 de 2E0EIJ 

POCSAG in Amateur radio

The dreaded POCSAG (dreaded if you run cheap Chinese radios on 2-meters) has found it's way into Amateur radio, the Germans have been running it for years, in recent months I've seen an option for it in Pi-Star however up until a few days ago my Jumbospot would not be able to transmit it, however the board received a firmware upgrade and should now transmit it.

To receive it from the Jumbospot I'd need a pager though my RTL-SDR combined with PDW can do the same thing, however though I want to play with it I'm not sure what I could do with it or how it fits in Amateur radio however the Germans have it sorted, getting a used UK pager would not work  because the Jumbospot and the standardised frequency used are both in 70cm and UK pagers are set on 153MHz.

I am a fan of the older technology, pagers are no exception to this, even though I now know that poorly built 2-meter rigs (Chinese ones primarily) suffer badly from commercial installations of POCSAG and FLEX transmitters as these are so high powered and the radios alluded to have wide front ends, people may ask why I want to buy or even use a pager, however if it's in Amateur radio it would be free and I am pretty sure some kind of QSO can be done using them over the DAPNET.

Perhaps in the coming months I will play with this, after all it is there so why not.

73 de 2E0EIJ

In-car tablet mount delivered today

The mount for the CHUWI Hi10 Air tablet has arrived today, though yet to be installed, as you know the tablet will get used for APRS map display with the Yaesu FTM-400XDE and I needed to be able to mount the tablet to something.

So the mount needs fitting to the seat runner on the passenger side of the vehicle, I plan to include a USB 2 hub in the setup as well to allow a couple of extra peripherals such as a wireless keyboard and mouse, the Logitech K400 fits the bill well as it has a laptop style track pad so operating APRSIS32 would not be an issue at that point, the USB hub required to be able to plug two devices into the tablet (the radio would need the com port reallocating at the tablet end as this would break the setup as it currently is).

As the tablet charges from USB-C this means I can run it from the charging cable on long journeys, the tablet should gate anything it gets from the radio to the APRS-IS and also keep tracking active where the radio cannot transmit to an igate or digipeater itself.

I have test fitted the tablet on the mount without attaching it to the gooseneck that would hold it down, it fits snugly and should stay in place on the bumpiest of roads all being well, however that remains to be seen until after installation.

I hope to get the mount fitted to the car sometime this week, the speaker for the FTM-400XDE also needs reattaching as even Sugru does not seem to hold it despite the fact the FTM-400XDE itself is still held in place and is the heavier item, I could fix the speaker to the gooseneck of the tablet mount as it seems to be of good quality and I'll be attaching, somehow, a USB hub to it anyway.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 3 June 2019

Yaesu FT2D has arrived

The latest addition to my collection of radios, the Yaesu FT2D, has arrived, and it seems to be a well sorted radio, I did note immediately that like my Retevis RT87 it has the female SMA connector for the antenna on the radio, again this seems to be to do with waterproofing however I do not believe the antennas are interchangeable between the two radios in any way.

The APRS is working and my local repeaters are programmed in to it, by hand as the supplied USB cable is only any good if you want to update the firmware, which I may need to do.

The radio is on its 9 hour charge, as the supplied charger is not a drop in charger, the only other HTs I have bought that did not include one are the licence-free HTs by Intek and Midland despite the Intek radios having this provision, those radios were a fraction of the cost of the FT2D so it's my only real criticism of the radio.

It works on receive fine on C4FM, TX I've not been able to test as it was at that point the battery ran out, FM transmits fine and I got a brief QSO on the local repeater with Dave G8YPN just as he got home.

So my second Yaesu radio and the day of purchase not ruined by the nasty Chance Callahan KD0MXN doing something horrible to me, nor the nasty stalker doing something, primarily because of my step-back from Twitter (infrequent tweets) and IRC (seriously reduced activity), though because the former is licensed and can use anything that uses Internet linking which are generally found on 2-meters and 70cm he could quite easily have harassed me and further stabbed me in the back, but he didn'.

I am in the process of doing the video for the radio, however that won't be completed until much later in the week.

In an unrelated note a colleague of mine gave me a wind-up broadcast receiver either as spare parts or to repair, as he had no use for it and it didn't appear to work, I've wound the crank and found that the internal battery is low on charge.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 2 June 2019

Update to mounting radios for /m in the car with Sugru

On Thursday, my day off, I went over to Darlington to pick up some Sugru, on returning home I used it to attach the speaker bracket and the FTM-400XDE bracket in the places I wanted them, 24 hours later the speaker was put back onto the bracket and a little over 36 hours later the FTM-400XDE went onto its bracket and it appears to hold well.

With the next job to do is to fit the mount for the tablet, which is on order, into the car, which will require me to get a relatively large torx driver to remove by the looks of it (a good reference is the Haynes manual for the car), the radio is close by so there would be no stress on the data cable running to the tablet and it will also be set up so that there is a USB-C cable for the tablet in order to run it on the longer journeys, which will be tried out for the first time on the 26th June.

I'll give the Sugru a bit longer and see how well it stays on, and if it holds for beyond a week I'll use it on the CRT SS9900 as well provided I can get the antenna cable to it, a very non-standard use for Sugru but it seems to work, and is useful both in and out of the Amateur radio hobby.

My next post should be on the arrival of my Yaesu FT2D tomorrow which a video will be filmed for it, and that video may have a segment in it similar to that done by YouTube user "knoxieman" G6LNK, though rather than just range in the case of his videos I plan it to be a test of audio as well against the Chinese competition, as I have lots of Chinese radios, it may take a couple of days to do this however due to work commitments and other commitments, a post will be up as soon as the radio lands.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 31 May 2019

Yaesu FT2D now ordered

The main handheld I've been after since getting the FTM-400XDE, the Yaesu FT2D, is now on order from, you guessed it, Martin Lynch & Sons, I want to quickly thank the people that tipped me when I delivered food to them for their help in getting me to this stage, I plan to continue saving for either an FT450D or an FT991A, though preference is the latter.

I ordered some screen protectors as well as the radio is a touch screen radio, and a video will be put online when it arrives before it is taken out of the box.

It ticks these boxes for me:

  • APRS on HT without extra hardware
  • Yaesu System Fusion
  • Superhet receiver
  • Access to System Fusion out of the car without removing the FTM-400XDE
There are a few other things in the radio worth exploring which I won't cover in this post, and if it arrives before my next club visit I will certainly be taking it along with me, I will also be testing it with the Jumbospot, which at home is solely used for DMR at present, it only gets YSF use in the car.

As I ordered the radio before 2pm it should arrive before Wednesday if all goes according to plan, and if I am on a day shift Wednesday, or even off that day, I should be able to get to the club with it.

I will post more on the radio when it arrives, it's been a long time coming for my first decent HT.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Catching up with ICQ Podcast

Since a bit after last year's National Hamfest after speaking to one of the gents involved with it I've been catching up with ICQ Podcast (link on right on desktop version of this blog), I'm currently roughly 2 years behind now and hope to be caught up before this year's National Hamfest as I have a feeling they will be there again.

I listen to the podcast when I am in the car and there's noting going on on the radio, though I do monitor the local repeaters (GB3IR and GB3HG) during work hours when I am out on deliveries, they don't tend to be active often when I am working and there is one local Amateur that seems to have this uncanny timing of calling on the repeaters just as I am unable to respond, the podcast is good entertainment and very informative so while there's nothing going on on the air I can listen to other Amateurs discussing Amateur radio related subjects and going to Amateur radio shows and rallies that I simply cannot go to such as Dayton and Friedrichshafen and talking to companies and groups attending these events.

I  have the podcast on at time of writing, currently at show 249, latest show at time of writing is number 295.

I recommend this podcast to anyone who is licensed or interested in taking up the hobby, all the presenters are licensed Amateurs and they take no advertising.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 27 May 2019

The Yaesu FT2D could be coming to the 2E0EIJ shack very soon

As is known, I run a Yaesu FTM-400XDE in the car, a radio that can do both FM and Yaesu System Fusion, I've run this radio for the last 3 years with no major problems, now the prospect of the Yaesu FT2DE handheld is becoming real, at a price of £299.95, it's gone down as Yaesu are soon to release the FT3DE, which is a similar concept to the FT2D however it has a colour display and Bluetooth on board whereas the FT2D has a monochrome screen and no Bluetooth hardware, though all these radios do have APRS which is the selling point, along with YSF, for me, however the FT2D is the radio I am interested in.

I've checked my savings to date and they appear to be within reach of the £299.95 price of the FT2D, the radio will most likely be in my shack in June or July.

Currently all my 2/70 HTs are Chinese (Wouxun, Baofeng, Retevis and AnyTone) and the Baofeng units in particular have the problem of poor front-end filtering in RF-dense areas, the FT2D would be the best tool to have to do /p from the top of Blackpool Tower or just even on a big hill with the stock antenna of the radio.

So, I have until *before* the end of June in which to order and take delivery of this radio and get a video up onto YouTube, with the rate of saving I should hit the magic number and still have money in my savings account in good time, this is because of the events that will be taking me to Manchester at the back end of June and I'd like to have the radio by then.

I have the FTM-400XDE, it is time to expand my YSF abilities out of the car now and RF based APRS.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 26 May 2019

3 years since I was betrayed

Regular readers will know it has been three years since I made the journey to Staines to go to Martin Lynch & Sons to purchase my FTM-400XDE, my Diamond NR770RSP antenna and a Sirio magmount, however that day was marred by Chance Callahan KD0MXN, who stabbed me in the back, and as the years have gone on I think I may have found his motive behind it now, but first to bring you all up to speed on this young man from America who is grossly unfit to hold an Amateur radio licence.

Apart from stabbing me in the back when I went to Staines to ML&S he also:

So it seems to sum him and his negativity up, my theory, though not proven, regarding why he stabbed me in the back is that because he thinks I am a stalker, which is certainly not true as stalkers make me sick to my stomach and I've had to deal with a genuine one of late, he thought I was stalking an IRC user who just so happened to live in the Staines area, the only interest I have in Staines is ML&S, nothing more, and the sooner Chance Callahan KD0MXN understands this the better, I still have the box the FTM-400XDE came in and it just so happens to have a 'ML&S' sticker on the side of it, I still have a copy of the invoice, so I have sufficient evidence to why I was in Staines that day.

The thing of note most of all is that there has been both no APRS and D-STAR activity by Chance Callahan KD0MXN, perhaps that is a good sign, who knows, but any action that sees him off the air is a good thing, and his licence is due to expire next year unless he renews it which he may not do so or the FCC may finally revoke it between now and then, but we will see.

I meanwhile am not deterred from the hobby and progress on to get my full licence, that would more than likely infuriate Chance Callahan KD0MXN immensely given how much he hates me and thinks in his own little messed-up head that I shouldn't have more privileges than him, but I do not care what he thinks, I just want the world to know that he is nasty and has no place in our hobby and his actions have not really done him favours in regards to this.
73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 25 May 2019

Fixing radios in the car without screws, or attempts to at least

So in my last two cars I've wanted to avoid putting screw holes into the dashboard when mounting radios and the extension speaker, fortunately the control panel for the FTM-400XDE comes with a sticky pad for the mounting bracket and this had held it fine in its final place in the current car, the main unit on the other hand has been loose in the glovebox and this was not ideal and in the past I've tried strong double-sided tape that did not hold it for long.

My second try at the beginning of this week was Gorilla tape, which is supposed to be very strong and 'permanent', not so as I also used it on the speaker and that fell off between yesterday evening and the previous night, and because of this I'm wary the main unit of the FTM-400XDE will also fall off, and it is significantly heavier.

My next try will be with Sugru, 5g of which is reportedly able to hold 400x its own weight once it has set according to the manufacturer, the FTM-400XDE is 1.5KG, however I will use as much as I can to ensure the radio stays attached where I want it, as Sugru is able to stick to uneven surfaces it should theoretically allow my FTM-400XDE to attach to the side of the centre console, the substance needing a full 24 hours to cure before any weight is applied to it, as I am planning on fitting a seat runner mount tablet holder for the CHUWI Hi10 Air as well it needs to be able to be installed and not foul it or the movement of the passenger seat (as I plan to run the full APRS setup during the run to Manchester in June I aim to get the tablet mount, and a powered USB hub for other peripherals, fitted as soon as possible).

The other radio to install in the car is the CRT SS9900, as this has an integrated display it is more appropriate to have it where it can be easily reached, this may warrant a coaxial cable extensions be made up for it, I plan to fit a feed for it that uses Anderson Powerpole connectors and take advantage of the full power available for the radio, this feed will be separate to the FTM-400XDE power feed.

I'll post a bit more on this, and probably a video if it all works out as it should, in the near future.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Tuesday 21 May 2019

More focus on Amateur radio, though stepping back from twitter... there comes a point

I have made a decision, for my own good, to step back from twitter and put more focus on Amateur radio (and the rest of the radio hobby too of course) and step back from IRC too, and if you read my twitter you'd understand why but it will be covered here.

An individual who I have simply referred to as 'the disgusting creature' owing to some deplorable and disgusting comments they made about a very frightening experience I had behind the wheel of my car while I was working a few months ago has been, for some considerable amount of time. block evading my twitter and using what they can from it to try and get me to "grow up" after I made the choice to cut ties with this individual because their behaviour was unhealthy and I felt excessively uncomfortable.  This individual later went on to try and find my current home address (without success) using (I only put the closest street onto that as my previous address had been compromised and I refused to allow a repeat it) and using to try and locate my work, again without success as I will NEVER run my APRS beacon during working hours, I only transmit analogue and digital voice during work hours.

This blog and my YouTube channel will not be affected nor will any other website I run, this stepping back mainly affects twitter and to a degree IRC (I run an IRC bouncer at home and therefore don't need to disconnect from IRC completely, just not run any clients on my machines.

This decision was not made lightly, I had become stressed and angered after I discovered my email address signed up to spam and given their track record of doing this in the past I knew full well who did it.

At least with Amateur radio I can not only get away from this unwanted drama, I know it cannot follow me there as this individual is not licensed and their behaviour would not be welcome in the Amateur radio hobby, they've earned a ban from ##hamradio on freenode which proves this point greatly.

My twitter will still be updated just not as regularly as it was and it will be more topics on Amateur radio and my YouTube videos as I upload them, I have no plans to put my YouTube channel on hold at present.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 19 May 2019

CRT SS9900 returned to the car

The SS9900 has made its way back into the car, connected to the cigarette lighter as before however this time it is plugged into that lead using Anderson Powerpole connectors, which should ensure a satisfactory connection.

The radio was connected to the antenna as well and powered on during my shift last night, popping it into 11-meter mode after I watched a video by fredintheshed on YouTube I had a listen on 27.555 USB (I don't TX on it) and found it was busy compared to other times I have listened in, which more or less correlates with the fredintheshed video, bearing in mind he was receiving on a proper CB antenna and using a Yaesu FT-450D, which is a better setup than my mobile antenna and CRT SS9900, though I have no issues at all with the 9900.

I'm going to have to get the antenna retuned for 10-meters, I just need to shorten the whip as far as I can and hope to do this when I get 5 minutes as it looks like conditions may be picking up and I can start to think about operating 10-meters.

Before I do that I'm going to be trying to do some CB tests using the RTL-SDR at a distance and the legal CBs on a clear enough channel, using the antenna on the car of course, and put the results up to YouTube, most of my CBs are now also on Anderson Powerpole connectors so can use the same lead.

After this I can tune the antenna for 10-meters

73 de 2E0EIJ

Upcoming events at the Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society

The club of which I am a member, the Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society, callsign GX3EKL, have, albeit in my absence due to work commitments, put up a a summer programme of events, complete with an idea that I was going to suggest myself to the club however it looks like Chris G4FZN got the idea in before I could (great minds think alike), that being a "fox hunt", or ARDF (Amateur radio direction finding).

The first meeting of June sees the club erecting a colinear thus putting it on air on 2-meters and 70cm, which since its formation it rarely if ever has been and from its elevated point at Hudwell it should do quite well with, ideal for those new to the hobby and not gaining the confidence yet to go on HF, I hope to be there for this however work commitments may not allow for this so what I can do is help out on receive from my car, this should allow me to participate in some capacity with the club when I am not able to attend due to work, though on operating nights only.

The direction finding appears to be taking place in August, due to slightly conflicting schedules I may or may not be able to attend however this remains to be seen, the regular Wednesday meetings usually depend on work commitments, however with an increasing number of drivers at the place I work it may well be that I will be able to make more club meetings however we will see.

The calendar of events for the club can be found here and at time of originally posting the events listing goes from the 5th June to the 16th October, a link to the club's website can now be found at the side of this blog (for computer and most tablet browsers) and if you are in the Richmond area and have an interest in Amateur radio or are licenced then we at the club welcome you to pop in, and membership details can be found on the website if you wish to become a member, the more the merrier as they say.

I attend most meetings where possible and if I am there please do say hi

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 18 May 2019

Testing the Leixen VV-898 on APRS receive and the hopeful igate plans

I've set up the Leixen VV-898 on a power supply and connected the antenna from the NooElec NESDR SMArt to it, using a creative method to adapt it and left it on RX on the APRS channel, so far it sounds like it is working fine on RX however I'd like to test it out both ways at some point.

This did indicate that APRS activity around here is next to non-existent though I did hear the odd packet come through over the course of this, and there is, of course, a blackspot in the area as far as APRS is concerned, with there no longer being an igate in the locality which is inspiring me to apply for the NoV to run an igate from home, the radio is capable of 10 watts though can be dropped to 5 watts if needs be, the radio has already been configured to make it a little difficult for anyone casually going near it to press buttons and change settings as well as to turn off the backlight if no buttons are pressed to save energy.

I have alluded to looking to purchase the Yaesu FT2D now it has come down in price and with APRS on board it makes sense to have an igate in the locality, and it would be of benefit to other local hams, at present the closest igates are MB7UMB at about 13 miles LOS and MB7UVU which is a little further than that in the opposite direction, not ideal on a handheld right down in a built up area.

I am now looking at a TNC and have my eye on the TNC-Pi from the US, sadly I cannot find any local sellers of this unit and would have to import it from America then build a custom loom for the VV-898 to work with it and do various bench tests with the radio and the Pi to get everything just so, it may also require a ground loop isolator though I can get these cheaply off Amazon or ebay.

As I plan to run this unit off a battery and solar charging I will need to fit a fusebox to the output of the charge controller then an output with Anderson PowerPole connectors to take the radio connection, this way should someone unplug the radio it can be reconnected without causing a reverse-polarity incident, I also intend to fit a stop button to the same circuit and a heavy current relay to kill the radio instantly if requested to do so by Ofcom or in an emergency, a light will be added to the shed as well ahead of time all being well.

The antenna, well I have a clever plan for that one to disguise it from the local residents.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 16 May 2019

YouTube channel “Ringway Manchester” on indefinite hiatus

I, amongst the many that are subscribed to YouTube channel “Ringway Manchester” by Lewis M3HHY, found out yesterday that for personal reasons, Lewis has had to make that hard decision to put the channel onto an indefinite hiatus, some very sad news as his radio reviews were truthful and honest, and I as such bought one radio he reviewed based on that fact, the Retevis RT87, I also own a Radio-Tone RT-3 Network radio which he also did a review on however I bought it based on exploring Network Radios rather than Lewis’ review.

This means I may not be working him through GB3MN and/or GB3MR as hoped, however in the grand scheme of things there are things that take priority over YouTube channels and the radio hobby, those must come first and the hobby and YouTube have to take a back seat until such times they can be returned to.

I, as a fellow Amateur radio operator and YouTuber, wish Lewis well and I hope that whatever is happening in his life right now is resolved with a positive outcome and he returns to YouTube and Amateur radio, if he has also had to step away from it which I get the impression he has had to do as well, sometime soon.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Manchester repeaters and potential for possible QSO with M3HHY

So today I received some good news that will involve me driving to Manchester, and my first ever use of GB3MR and GB3MN, as these are the local repeaters of Lewis M3HHY from YouTube channel Ringway Manchester there is a potential that I could work him for the first time during this journey and maybe on the return leg too while in the coverage of both those repeaters, one is 70cm, one is 2-meters.

I try and work through local repeaters when I can on journeys that take me away from home while /m, gives me an idea of what is actually going on from a radio standpoint there, and also get me on the air through repeaters I’ve would not otherwise be able to use.

I am not going to divulge any information on the nature of the journey or the news I received as it is off-topic for this blog and there are certain individuals on the Internet that do not need to know why I am travelling to Manchester, nor on what date, it will be a few weeks before I go though.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Friday 3 May 2019

APRS in-car mapping again

The new tablet arrived a few days ago and I got it working with APRSIS32, the Bluetooth GPS receiver and the FTM-400XDE, so I took it out for a test run to see how it faired, it worked fine and was able to show me stations that the radio received, as well as gate them to APRS-IS but it also showed up stations out of range as I used my phone as a WiFi hotspot to connect it to the Internet, in a previous post I mentioned that I need a mount, I still do as it is not quite the end of May yet, in fact it’s only the beginning of May.

As the tablet is Windows 10 it should also allow me to update the firmware of the radio and reprogram it as needed, though I don’t have a need to do either in a hurry as the radio is working and as far as I am aware there are no major fixes though I will double-check Yaesu’s website in the coming weeks.

The best test for the setup will be long journeys though at present I have none planned, next one hopefully will be the Bowburn rally and after that the National Hamfest, though by the latter I should be an M0 by then.

I’ll keep you posted on this topic

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 29 April 2019

Post-Blackpool rally post

So yesterday I was at the Blackpool rally and spent the weekend at the Norbreck Castle Hotel where the rally was to be held, not a bad hotel and I enjoyed my stay, however there was one small issue during the journey over, not counting a traffic jam on the A66 and the high winds along the high-lying areas.

I had to stop at some services for a pit stop shall we say, this particular service area was Lancaster (Forton) Services on the M6, on exiting the service area there was a Mini so close to my rear bumper it was borderline dangerous and I had to give way to traffic already on the M6, this Mini driver cut me up, thus forcing me onto the hard shoulder at the bottom of the slip road, pulled into the hard shoulder ahead of me, got out of the car, and, showing clear signs of aggression, walked towards my car (I had come to a stop and put the hazard lights on while I quickly composed myself and waited for a gap (the Mini driver left me no room in which to get up to speed on the hard shoulder as per the Highway Code), I saw a gap, shut off the hazards and indicated right and was left no alternative but to put my foot hard down onto the accelerator pedal, on passing the Mini driver who returned to his car as soon as he seen I was about to drive off gave me the “two-finger salute”, it was clear he was aggressive and could have caused me harm, this is the first and only time I was victim to road rage, it clearly was a road rage incident, I was still quite shaken on arrival at Blackpool, this is mentioned briefly and in less detail in the video I made on the rally which I hope to have up to YouTube soon.

So onto the subject of the rally, it was not as busy as my last visit and due to unforeseen circumstances the Bring & Buy was cancelled this year, I broke with tradition and did not buy a radio, I did buy the Sotabeams Fuser-6 and some Anderson Powerpole connectors, after the incident with the Grant II I certainly do not want a repeat of it with my Amateur radio gear so priority number one is to fit my CRT SS9900 with them, then my QYT KT-8900D, also I will be fitting these to the Leixen VV-898 ahead of it being used as an APRS igate radio once I obtain an M0 call which should be soon.

I have plans to return to the Blackpool rally next year, and hope to go to Blackpool later in the summer and do radio from the top of the tower as the weather this past weekend was not suited to it, obviously not using Baofeng radios.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 25 April 2019

Preparation for Blackpool and testing my Bluetooth GPS receiver for APRS use

Today the car went in for two new front tyres ready for my trip out to Blackpool, I aim to set off about lunchtime with an aim to be there for at least 2 or 3pm, all I have left to do is pack my things, including HTs, their charger bases, the Jumbospot and any other charger I may need for phones and the camcorders,  I will check the battery levels of all the batteries tonight and charge those that need it.

Now as I have ordered a replacement tablet to replace my current Android one that I destroyed the digitiser on, if you’re a regular follower of my Twitter feed you’ll know about this already, I have found no where in the specs for the replacement unit that is has any kind of satellite positioning receiver, commonly this is GPS with the addition of GLONASS and sometimes others such as Gallileo, as I want to use this in the car plugged into my FTM-400XDE in a similar vain to a video by Dallas Clements K7DCC I do need GPS at a minimum, the FTM-400XDE does have this as standard but does not, that I know, push it down the data lead at the same time as the APRS information, the test was two things, one to ascertain the receiver was working and could receive, it appears to be fine, the second was a Windows 10 compatibility test, not completely compatible as the SPP is used in the device and would thus have to present itself as a COM port (in my shack computer’s case this appeared as COM14 (there is a COM13 as well for Bluetooth that I have seen on the shack computer), this was done as the tablet in question certainly appears to be a Windows 10 tablet and therefore the setup done, albeit a few years ago now, by K7DCC can be replicated with changes made to accommodate British use, the differences are as follows:

  • K7DCC uses a service called “freedom pop” to get the Internet to the tablet in his video, as that does not exist in the UK I will use my phone, with its 5GB data allowance, for APRS-IS at the tablet
  • The APRS frequency here is 144.800MHz (this is a change I don’t need to make as my radio is set up for APRS already)
  • The FTM-400XD is XDR in the US, it’s the same radio just configured for a different market, in the case of K7DCC he uses the older FTM-400D model

The tablet I ordered has a micro-USB and a USB-C port, the latter doubles as the charger connector so the tablet can be kept powered in the car, I will be ordering a mount at the end of May shortly after I get paid.

After it goes live in the car it will be tested on some journeys.

Also hope to see you at Blackpool this coming Sunday

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 22 April 2019

Reason behind no video from Ripon rally, and a bit more on the APRS front

As you know I visited the Ripon rally last week, and got some video footage while there, however on final editing and looking at the footage I felt it was not up to my usual standard, partly down to there being far too many people in a small space not allowing me to film properly, so in the end I scrapped the idea, as the Blackpool rally is at a much larger venue and has more to offer I will of course do some filming there and I also have an opportunity to play more radio from Blackpool including, if my non-Baofeng radios don't suffer like the Baofeng radios would, from the top of Blackpool tower, watch this space.

Another thing I learned about APRS thanks to Carl 2E0EZT was that APRS has a "bulletin" feature, by which you can post bulletins simply by sending a message to "BLN*" (where * can be anything), these bulletins will show up on, and looking at this there appears to be little use of it in the UK, I tested this from my -5 using my mobile phone direct into the APRS-IS though it can be done through a radio over RF on the APRS frequency (the frequency differs by country, check what yours is, in the UK and Europe it is 144.800MHz), I may use the bulletin feature when I am operating portable, including from the Blackpool tower (though I don't have an APRS enabled HT so I'd have to rely on using an Android device, my Radio-Tone RT3 or my phone being the two obvious choices here, though I am saving for a Yaesu FT2D (as these are not cheap) and aim to have one hopefully before Hamfest 2019, and hopefully by which time I'll also have a full licence and be able to obtain the correct NoV in order to run a fully unattended igate so I can do HT based APRS properly and so can others around the area that use APRS.

So hopefully I can get a bit more serious with the APRS side of Amateur radio as it is still extremely useful in this era of mobile phones.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 21 April 2019

APRS features beyond the tracking - SMS

APRS has always been pointed out as a system that is more than a vehicle/station tracking system, it is in fact real-time communication, the tracking part is only one of a subset of functions the system has.

The system has the ability to send messages between users, normally this is done by virtue of APRS radio to radio, however it is possible to send a shorter than normal (you'll see why) SMS message to any mobile phone on the planet.

To send to a mobile phone, on any radio so capable of APRS or adapted to work on APRS with a TNC and client software you simply send a message from the radio to "SMSGTE" which must start with @<phone number> (where <phone number> is any mobile phone number starting with the country code though not the +) and any short message you like, as long as an igate has heard you recently it will gate the packet and send it on to SMSGTE which will in turn send it back to the mobile telephone network the number is associated with.

The system can allow the recipient to send a reply, though that reply cannot leave APRS-IS if the recipient was not heard by an igate, no one can reply to a message without knowing the correct syntax or the phone number the message from the radio originated from, so no chance of spam messages, particularly important considering my recent troubles with a very questionable individual from Australia though not enough to stop problems with Chance Callahan KD0MXN however he appears to have vanished from the Amateur radio scene for the moment and he could use standard APRS messages to harass me if he so desired as he does know my current callsign, though that alone is grounds for me to report him to the FCC for Part 97 violations.

So if you're out of range of the mobile networks and need to get a message to someone, use this, if you're up a hill the chance is are your message will get out to an igate (remember to beacon first so a reply can be sent from the recipient), I tested this and it works at least from the radio to the phone.

I have Carl 2E0EZT to thank for this information, as he has done a video on some of the APRS features available.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Saturday 20 April 2019

Another APRS map display revisit

As you may recall I have been hoping to get a semi-permanent map display for APRS in the car, preferably using a Windows 10 tablet, the last tablet I ordered was an Android one, which though also capable of doing this doesn't do much in the way of gating shall we say, just shows it all on the map.

So another look on the usual Chinese suppliers leads me to a tablet with keyboard dock as optional extra, this would allow me to not only see APRS objects on a map, but would also allow me to do logging on the hills better than what I can do now, potential YouTube livestreams depending on the Internet availability at my location, the cost of this machine is under £200 and could perform as a laptop, drawback is that the keyboard dock is in American layout though I can probably live with that or just use a wireless Logitech keyboard with trackpad as these are reasonably good quality.

I am going to connect the data lead for the FTM-400XDE up to my existing Android tablet as I have a suitable OTG adaptor to do this and test using the applications on there, should this work then I'll see if I am able to buy this tablet I have seen and once it arrives then set it up in the way I seen previously on YouTube.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Activity on the hills

A rare free weekend has appeared in my schedule, so this is a good chance to go up to a high point to play some radio, and I have a few high points around me including the famous Tan Hill on the Cumbria border, inspiration for this has come from Mike M0XMX, one of his recent videos has him operating 2-meters FM and SSB from a high point near to him and he did very well, especially considering there's a lot of people out there who seem to think that 2-meters is dead, all one has to really do is pick up that mic and press the button, and if you're high up it's even better.

So I've been having a survey of high points around me that I can access with a vehicle, Tan Hill being one of them, Sutton Bank being another though there doesn't appear to be anywhere up there I can pull in at the side of the road, there is the visitor's centre up there but that is run by the North York Moors National Park and I doubt they'd be happy with me setting up 2-meter antennas in their car park, though I do keep a copy of my Amateur radio licence in the car at all times in case anyone asks any "awkward" questions.

So I'll do all the radio playing Sunday, as this is the best time for it, Saturday I will give my groudplane antenna a test on a high point close by, this will be after shortening the coaxial cable feeding it because this feeder is RG58 and is lossy on 2-meters if it's fed by any considerable length run, this antenna needs a test because it has not been used in a while, was damaged during the QTH move and subsequently repaired, it will technically be its first time back on the air after that awful man that was my neighbour at the old QTH decided to be intolerant of my hobby without justification, now I'm all for people asking me to stop my Amateur radio and 11-meter activities if they're causing problems but not if they're just doing it because it just simply happened to be out of the way, and my hilltop activities don't usually get me into too much trouble.

I hope to spend most of the day up on the hills on Sunday once I find a place to go, and if the weather stays good, and will be operating 2-meters FM, pending tests on the groundplane antenna as well, if not the dipole will be used instead.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 15 April 2019

Post-Ripon rally and pre-Blackpool rally post

The Ripon rally took place yesterday yet nothing immediately caught my attention, I did buy a new coax stripper and a SMA-M to SO239 adaptor that appears to be of better quality than the one I had in which the centre pin sheared off in the SMA socket on my NooElec NESDR SMArt. and the stealth antennas book by the RSGB for members price of course.

I do have video footage that I am working on, it isn’t much because the rally was far too crowded to film effectively at, and one gentleman did try to sell me another camera but having two JVC Everio camcorders already I don’t need another camcorder, just some action cams to fit to the car for a new element I am introducing to my videos (which will be seen in the Ripon rally video)

Radios I took on the day were pretty much all except the UV-5R, BF888 and all my PMR446 annd CB gear, the radio that ultimately went into the rally was the AnyTone AT-D868UV, and the very company that sold me it was actually at Ripon selling it, the QYT KT-8900D, and Baofeng speaker mics and a Bluetooth adaptor, the speaker mics unfortunately were all Kenwood fitting, I require a multi-pin type for the network radio, which just so happened to be in the car anyway, and the Retevis RT87 which is actually waterproof to a degree, a Blackpool purchase I think.

With me being in Blackpool for the weekend of the Blackpool rally, I plan to do some radio while there, now if you recall I wrote about a video done by Lewis M3HHY on his Ringway Manchester channel, in which he and another Amateur went to the top of Blackpool Tower and attempted to put out calls from there but were hampered due to the poor design of the Baofeng UV5R and UV82 series of radios (the latter of which my GT-5 is a reskinned variant of), Lewis also later went on to test the Retevis RT87 (which is partly why I ended up buying it in the first place) and he did this from a place called Werneth Low, which is a high point within Greater Manchester full of transmitters, he found the radio handled that environment with no big deal, so I intend to take it, along with my Wouxun KG-UVD1P and my AnyTone AT-D868UV up Blackpool Tower to see if they get absolutely battered by the RF environment up there OR they overcome what Baofengs, based on the RDA1846 radio on a chip and with dire front-end filtering (or a seeming lack of it) cannot do, hopefully they will prove better than the Baofengs and just in the interest of fairness the GT-5 and the UV5RC Plus will be going up there too, otherwise the operating conditions from there are good if you don’t factor the transmission antennas at the extreme top of Blackpool tower

Prior to this all I had was Baofengs and the Wouxun, though when I last went over to Blackpool for the rally I solely had the GT-5 with me and though I did go up the tower I did not operate, and as it turns out I chose wisely as I would have suffered the same problems as Lewis did.

I also plan to add a bit of the music of Andy Kirby, who as it turns out is a fellow Amateur with an M6 callsign I cannot remember off the top of my head. to some of my videos, subject to usage rights of course, I have seen his music used in Ringway Manchester videos and a couple of videos by ‘knoxieman’ G7LNK, so I do wonder whether they asked him for permission or it is simply a case of the music can be used as long as it is credited to the source, I’ll have to look this up or contact Andy myself.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 11 April 2019

RTL-SDR dedicated machine sort of set up

I have an old laptop with a display that has no working backlight, a Samsung RV510, and am putting this machine to use as a dedicated RTL-SDR receiver, it originally served as the now closed Richmond CB FRN gateway, with me having high SWR (and having to use a matcher), it remained closed for quite some time however the machine was in fact hibernating from the very point it was closed down.

It seems to run the SDR# software fine and works with both RTL-SDR sticks (I already know that the cheapo black one works, the NESDR SMArt was tested). so first test was with Soundmodem and APRS, it worked ok, though I don’t think I configured it correctly to pass packets from soundmodem to APRSIS32 so nothing was gated in that experiment.

Next was to decode DMR, it did not do well here either due to there being some noise on the frequency I could not seem to get rid of, though this was in the 70cm band and the supplied magmount is fitted with RG58, trying a piece of 213 and a dipole didn’t make a difference and destroyed my SMA-M to SO239 adaptor almost to the cost of the stick’s SMA-F connector (though the sheared pin was removed with Blu-Tack.

I am going to rehash my Handheld CB and PMR446 videos after either the Ripon or Blackpool rally, the first videos were all HT to HT (or in the 446 video between two units with fixed helical antennas) using this setup, the final location of this receiver of many talents will be next to my “Stranger Things” radio (the Realistic Pro-53 Patrolman, I call it that because it really looks like it was pulled from the Netflix series Stranger Things though I owned it before I heard of that).

The two videos will be done under the same conditions at the TX end, using the same radios (Intek MT-5050 for PMR446 and Midland Alan 42 Multi for 11-meters, both again using the stock rubber duck antennas), the RTL-SDR will be connected to an antenna using a lenght of RG213 to keep loss as low as possible, the antenna will most likely be in the window, outside if possible, and I want to make it from a couple of cheap CB antennas with the 3/8th thread on them as I have a dipole centre configured this way, that arrangement won’t be used for TX as there would be no choke.

The receiver works from as low as 24MHz right up to 1.7GHz. so 10-meters, 6-meters, 4 meters. 2-meters, 70cm and a lot of commercial, licence-free and aviation frequencies are also covered as well as the Amateur bands and CB frequencies, first things first is that I require a new SMA-M to SO239 adaptor and preferably a way to stop the SMA pin shearing off.

On closing I now have an extended battery to record video footage from the camcorder, this is so I can record footage of the Ripon and Blackpool rallies , Ripon is on Sunday (with an aim to have the video uploaded by Monday afternoon), Blackpool is two weeks later (with an aim to have the video uploaded by the following Monday afternoon)

73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730

Thursday 28 March 2019

All set for the 2019 Blackpool rally

I booked a room for the weekend of the Blackpool rally at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, so all I have to do is check out on the Sunday morning and go down to the rally, easy, however I have a weekend in Blackpool as well, so a good opportunity to play radio by the seaside, of course I’ll be taking radios with me as I am going to the Blackpool rally after all.

So this means I once again do not have to travel at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning and can have a relaxed drive over to Blackpool, I do plan to do some filming at the rally so I shall take my camcorder as well and hope to have a higher capacity battery for the camcorder in time for the rally to get some decent footage of it to put on YouTube, and I should have no rush to get away that day either.

If you see me at the rally do say hi.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 25 March 2019

Network Radio data SIM recommendation

Network radios, as the name implies, require a network to connect to in order to be used, be this your home WiFi or the mobile phone network, however for the latter a SIM is needed, though you'd only need to do this if you are away from home or a public WiFi.

Today I purchased a SIM with 2GB data, which is more than enough for Zello, added £10 credit and this gave me the 2GB data with some minutes and unlimited texts, I fitted the SIM then applied the credit and disabled tethering on my phone and away it went, the network of choice is EE as this has the most coverage across the UK, though the RT3 is a 3G unit and therefore cannot utilise the 4G network though for Radio over IP this is not a large issue.

Though I do plan to put a Network Radio into the shack to compliment the other gear it won't receive a SIM card, instead it will use the house WiFi or be tethered to the phone in the event of VDSL or power outages, the RT3 will be kept for using out and about, and with me repairing my Bluetooth headphones I can clip the radio to my belt and walk along chatting away or clip the radio to something in my car and drive and chat on the Network Radios as well as 2-meters and 70cm, despite buying a Network Radio it is impossible to pull me away from a transceiver.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 18 March 2019

Test shackcam

I have plugged a webcam into the shack computer and have pointed it at the operating end of the shack desk, this is to test whether the shackcam feed is still working, it appears to be working just fine.

The camera used is a Tesco webcam, branded under their "Technika" brand, this is the second camera used in the test, the first being a cheap off-brand webcam that I have owned for years and required unsigned drivers to run on Windows 10

All that is visible on the camera currently is my Anytone AT-D868 UV, my QYT KT-8900D, a few SWR meters, my salt water dummy load, my Zetagi dummy load, a Pixie CW transceiver and the K-PO EA-35 linear amplifier which I still need to test for spectral purity, there are a few patch leads on my desk as well as my blue illuminated extension speaker, with the blue LEDs turned on.

Even though I am testing it the shackcam feed remains linked to at the side of this blog and is still open to public viewing

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 17 March 2019

putting all my RG213 to use and repairing the T2LT

With the crimp-on plugs having arrived earlier this week I set to work fitting them to the cables, starting off with the RG213, which is all now terminated and can be put to use, all of it tested into a dummy load showing no mismatch, these cables should see me through for a while, and will be used to feed antennas over the longer RG58 that came from the cut off piece of the groundplane antenna, which will receive a plug hopefully tomorrow.

The T2LT had a cut in the feedline outer jacket, I have cut this out and crimped on a new PL259 at that point, it will be tested tomorrow provided the wind dies down sufficiently, if not Wednesday, I noticed this cut during the Activate All Counties event last summer but the antenna was still working as the braid had not been compromised, just the outer jacket.

Another antenna I hope to test tomorrow if it gets completed and the wind dies down is the second dipole for 2-meters made from the metal strips found inside the rubber part of car windscreen wiper blades, the antenna is deliberately too long for 2-meters so will be cut to length in the field, it will be fed with the RG213 I have and the QYT KT8900D will be taken with me as it is less prone to pager noise than the Leixen VV-898 and once the SWR meter is removed the HTs may be damaged having a heavy coax connected to them, and should this antenna work it will be my go-to portable ops antenna, for campsite use I'll use my copper-wire dipole as this does work fine as I have had it on the air before.

I will post results of the new dipole on YouTube and on here, the T2LT, however, I will just post on here as I know the antenna does work OK

73 de 2E0EIJ/26CT730

Sunday 10 March 2019

recycling the metal supports from inside the rubber part of car windscreen wipers

I recently replaced the wiper on my car (see my cars channel on YouTube), inside the old blade was two strips of metal, I disassembled the spent wiper blade and pulled out the two pieces of metal, and thought that perhaps these could be made into a 2-meter dipole (though they may need to be trimmed to bring them resonant at 2-meters), and as a dipole it would need a choke, so I have used the same method I used for my copper wire dipole, the centre of a small reel with a few turns of RG58 on it cable tied in place.

I plan to connect it all up using terminal blocks I do not believe this metal will take solder well, it appears to be steel as well so may not be a brilliant antenna but this hobby is about experiments, the input will be fed through a chassis mount SO239, straight into the choke, with the antenna straight out of the choke.

I do not yet have a 3D printer so cannot print out a custom dipole centre for this project (that is something I am looking to do later), in the mean time my plan is to find something suitable to mount the SO239 into (it's one I pulled from a dead CB SWR meter), solder the shortest run possible of the output of the choke to it (the braid may well require a terminal lug around the screw holding the SO239 in place), with the antenna elements connected with the choke immediately after it (I found leaving even a short tail from the choke to the antenna itself created a high SWR last time I did that).

Testing will be done at a local high point, the antenna will be connected to a radio not too prone to pager interference (automatically ruling out the Leixen VV-898) fed with RG213 for the most part to keep the losses down and ensure as much power makes it to the antenna during these tests as this should then be possible, tuning will be done at the same time, though this is weather dependent.

will be interesting to to see how two flat strips of metal perform as an antenna, I might film this and put it onto YouTube on the day, SWR meter on the day will be the cross-needle one as this is the only one suited to use on 2-meters that I have, see how many QSOs I can get, preferably simplex, and if this antenna works well I may just use it as my go-to portable ops antenna for 2-meters FM, keeping the other dipole for temporary fixed use and the National Hamfest (and camp sites in general), I'll try and modify it so it fits the same Flo-Plast overflow pipe that the current one fits onto as that is cheaply available, once I know it works.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 3 March 2019

The humble PL259 plug

Now I want to talk about the PL259, a very common connector in the world of CB and Amateur radio, sometimes called a "UHF" plug but doesn't work brilliantly if at all at actual UHF frequencies were an N type or SMA would fair better, I have some RG213 terminated with the solder on type and in the last couple of years I've noticed that on occasion the SWR would shoot up using these cables, indicating a dead short, however I plan to replace these with crimp on type connectors as well as the one on my groundplane antenna for 2-meters and my 11-meter T2LT antenna.

The crimp-on type connectors are favoured because they are less prone to failure than the solder on types and don't in any way suffer from the inner dielectric of the cable melting when you try to solder the braid as this is not soldered at all, my magmounts appear to have crimp-on plugs and not one of those plugs has failed, and I have a fair bit of RG213 to terminate anyway in time for radio antenna testing and radio playtime in the next few months.

To this end I've ordered sufficient plugs to terminate all the RG213 and a new crimping tool die as the one on my current crimping tool is in fact too small for RG213 (which I found out at the cost of 1 plug), I also ordered a few plugs to fit RG58, as this is what is feeding my groundplane antenna (though I believe the length used, even though I have cut it prior to my QTH move nearly 2 years ago, may well be lossy at 2-meters, so a small modification will be an end-cap into the point in which the cable exits, a small tail of cable and a new PL259, then a test of the antenna at a nice high point to see how well it performs on 2-meters and most importantly how much power I can get away with through the antenna (up to 50 watts of course), the dipole has a BNC so I don't need to change this out, and I can probably test the dipole from the house anyway.

The connectors and crimping tool die I ordered came from ebay seller "ChinaRF", as I have ordered from them before and the connectors arrived in a timely manner, one to repair the cut lead from the groundplane antenna, and two for a piece of RG213, one of which I ruined because my crimp tool as it turned out had an incorrect die, I still have one good plug for RG213.

When these connectors arrive I will do a YouTube video on them, though I won't do one on fitting them as the instructions to do this are already out there.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Sunday 17 February 2019

ISS SSTV - 15th to 17th February 2019

Yesterday I stumbled, merely by chance, on what I thought might be a potential SSTV transmission from the International Space Station, which I did tweet about, confirmed by Trevor M5AKA, and I had a look on the Amsat UK website, my home shack radio for 2-meters is still the QYT KT-8900D and the antenna is currently just the 2/70 TX capable magnetic mount scanner antenna, with rubbish thin coax feeding it, on top of a radiator by the window and received the ISS no problem at all.

Today knowing about this, I was able to decode it, thanks to Carl 2E0EZT who mentioned the Robot36 SSTV app in one of his videos on YouTube (a channel I ended up finding out about thanks to Callum M0MCX of DX Commander fame so both are being credited for this), using nothing more than my phone's inbuilt microphone I was able to decode an image from the ISS when it passed over between 1350 and 1400UTC, my first successful attempt at SSTV rx from the ISS, and pleased is an understatement.

When I initially stumbled on the transmission yesterday purely by chance I had mounted the radio onto something to allow air to circulate around it, and also allow it to be raised a little higher, I have the ISS and a few local repeaters along with both 2-meters and 70cm simplex channels all programmed into the radio, and was turning the dial when I heard the transmission, bearing in mind I was unaware that the ISS was overhead at that time so it really was just luck, and on tweeting about it I got my confirmation.

Though I do plan to do some ATV (Fast Scan) I have for a while wanted to play with SSTV but lacked facilities, turns out to receive it all I need is a mobile phone, perhaps the same to TX it too? we'll see

And this is a screencap from Robot36 of what I received today
Not too bad for a first attempt and with equipment that is certainly not the best.

A good reason to get into the hobby, you aren't limited to receiving communications from stations here on good ol' planet Earth, the challenge with the ISS is, of course, knowing when the astronauts are on air and knowing when it will be passing over, and normally you only have a window of a few minutes. in my case it was 10 minutes and I made that count to receive the SSTV image here.

In some cases it is possible to talk to the astronauts but during this weekend the ISS 2-meter station was being used for SSTV so that would not have been possible.

73 de 2E0EIJ