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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