Click here for the Ban PLT website.

Saturday 5 September 2020

Realistic TRC-1007, a quick first look

 I have had the radio now for a couple of days, it arrived quicker than expected and well ahead of the dummy batteries which have not shown up as yet (despite being sent via Amazon Prime) meaning to get the voltage required I've had to fit 10 normal AA batteries with two of them insulated by tape to remove them from the circuit and a wire to jump the last in-circuit battery to the negative terminal, the batteries in the radio are two of the 10 Duracell batteries that were in it on delivery taped over to remove them from circuit and 8 Kodak batteries from Poundland, the radio indeed has an intact telescopic and seems to transmit and receive fine.

After filming the attached video I found out when this radio dates from, if I have read the date code correctly it is from September 1987, making this radio 33 years old and aside from a crack in the housing it is in very good order.

With the non-standard external antenna connector I cannot get even a rough power measurement off it because I need an adaptor and I will have to call Knights on Monday to see if they have any in, though they list them on their website as limited stock it is best I check ahead.

On Wednesday I hope to put up the boomerang antenna, connect it up to the President Grant II and go up to the Downholme viewing point with the Realistic and the modern Intek and Midland handhelds I also own which will be tested on both the supplied rubber duck antennas and the Albrecht CL27 with the Realistic using its own telescopic which is longer than the CL27, which will be filmed and uploaded to YouTube

In the mean time though here is the video on this radio not long after it arrived

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Classic 80s CB on its way... but will it work?

I placed a bid on a "seems to work" but being sold as "spares or repairs" Realistic TRC-1007 27/81 spec CB handheld, and surprisingly won it as the only bidder, this would be the second Tandy/Realistic product I would own after the scanner which needs work and maybe the switches cleaning.

I do have a soft spot for the older radio gear as well as the modern radios you can get today, and if this handheld needs work I can refer to Richard Shireby at UK CB radio servicing on YouTube as he has done this radio and has a service manual for it.

With the seller having tested this and suggesting that it seems to work, it should be a good project if there are any faults, the telescopic antenna appeared intact from the photos on ebay, however I will find out in a few days, and as will you guys as this radio will be featured on the YouTube channel at some point not long after it arrives.

This will either be the third working handheld or the second non-worker depending on actual condition as I have a broken Intek H-520 Plus that I may be able to repair if I can get a scrap one in the future.

I will post an update when the radio arrives, to err on the side of caution I have some dummy batteries (which were sold in a kit from Amazon) which will arrive ahead of the radio, testing the radio for TX power is not immediately possible because the Realistic handhelds appear to use a phono or Motorola connector (unsure which it is) but I will be setting up something to test the radio from high ground.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 9 August 2020

The radio camper project

 With the whole COVID-19 situation of the past few months I have had time to think about other projects, the igate being one of them, however I have a bigger project in the pipeline for a couple of years now.

So what would be nice is if I can go /p and have all the conveniences of my home rather than operate from the car, the solution here is a campervan.

I am after something a little specific and have been looking to base this off a Ford Transit T350 LWB (or XLWB if I can get one in good order at the right price), rather than buy a ready made camper I want a blank canvas so I can make it mine, the other reason I chose the Transit is because it is the go to van in the UK, having driven one in tipper variant and also having driven a similarly configured Iveco Daily and a large Mercedes-Benz Sprinter I have also been able to conclude that the vehicles have their own quirks, the clutch on both the Daily and the Sprinter are both too heavy for my liking, the handbrake lever is far too low for me on the Sprinter, and the Transit is the closest thing to car-like performance and handling without me going for smaller, and thus impractical VW Transporter, Vauxhall Vivaro, Peugeot Expert (and its Citroen sibling), or even as small as the VW Caddy, Vauxhall Combo and the Ford Transit Connect.

The majority of Transit vans I have seen for sale all tend to have a bulkhead between the drivers cab and rear section, except in the case of crew cabs and mess vans which have that bulkhead further back, usually that's removable and not a part of the vehicle fabric.

Cab radios will be the Team Roadcom-FS for CB and it was planned the Yaesu FTM-100DE be an option for 2/70 but that has since been discontinued and the Yaesu FTM-300DE will make a suitable replacement choice, antennas for these will be fitted ahead of conversion work, on the minibus variant of the generation of Transit I am looking at Ford fitted a tachograph into a 2x single DIN mount above the stereo that would replace a tray normally fitted to the panel van, which would be where the CB would go as the part is readily available

Lighting in the accommodation area would be run from 12 volts to allow me to see without having to run a generator, though I will make provisions to plug in a generator or campsite hookup if the vehicle I buy does not have this, the same 12 volt supply will be designed with running radio gear in mind so a beefy leisure battery, or two very identical ones run in parallel to give high current, will be needed, so along with usual camper electrics a radio capable of a reasonable amount of power can draw off the same supply, though I am looking into solar panels as an option, a light will be provided above the accommodation door and in the footwell that will come on with the door open.

For the vehicle to be classed as a camper then there needs to be a bed, a table some seating and cooking facilities as well as storage, though I will be fitting some cupboards I also intend to use the space above the cab as one as well, a water tank also needs to be installed, as well as a waste water tank, and a supply of gas to cook with and make tea, a fridge to keep milk also will be needed and for those cold winters a heater as well. it also needs at least one window in the rear, mess vans usually have two, one in the sliding door and one immediately opposite on the driver's side. as well as the mandatory table, which is one reason I am looking at crew cab and mess van type vehicles, so I don't have to cut holes in the vehicle fabric for windows

Externally there will, of course, be CB and 2/70 antennas on the roof, as well as all the needed vents and a mains inlet, also there would need to be an inlet on the side to take an antenna feedline without me needing to leave a window or door open, I also want to sign write the vehicle with my Amateur radio callsign using the logo from my YouTube channel, as well as information on my YouTube channel, to help promote it, and the vehicle will ultimately feature heavily in the channel's videos, and when safe I can do meet-and-greets with it for all those that watch my channel.

For storage of gas and other essentials I plan to build a storage area around the back doors of the van, separated internally from the main accommodation area, with the LPG warning on the door of course, and a finishing touch externally will be a 'GB' sticker for driving abroad as I'd like to be able to travel to Germany for a very well-known Amateur radio event and not have to sleep in a hotel.

I also hope to use this vehicle for club activities with the Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur Radio Society.

With my finances starting to improve and my new job paying a good salary and my final pay from my previous job being higher than expected (holidays and such) then I am already on the road to the van and know if I shop around and take a torch I can get the right van at the right price, I learned a big lesson from the disaster of the 106 so I shall take my handy torch and look for the dreaded rust in every single place it could be on the vehicle and in the future I could well be making a post from that vehicle and you guys and my twitter and YouTube followers will get to see this every step of the way from buying the van through the entire fit out as the perfect mobile portable shack.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Friday 7 August 2020

Attempting to receive the AO-92 satellite on a tape measure Yagi antenna

 Last night I went outside with my tape measure antenna and attempted to receive the 2-meter downlink of the AO-92 amateur radio satellite, was I successful? have a look in the video attached and find out.

73 de M0WNU

Thursday 6 August 2020

Work on the future Catterick Garrison igate underway

I have been working on getting the radio hardware working for the future APRS igate that I intend to run from the home QTH, the radio is my Leixen VV-898 as it's sat doing little, the rest is done via a Raspberry Pi with a keying circuit and a USB sound card.

The setup is currently into a dummy load and is powered from my bench power supply for the radio and the Pi is running off my phone charger.

The next jobs to do for this is to get the shelves in the shed and to get the antenna built (which I plan to make resonant on 144.800), then of course batteries and solar panels to get power to the shed.

So far the tests show promise, the transmissions are received by my Yaesu FT2D and it is used to test receive on the igate which seems fine.

I have two You Tube videos on the subject and they are attached below.

73 de M0WNU

Tuesday 7 July 2020

POCSAG from the Jumbospot

I finally got round to setting up an account with the DAPNET, which means my Jumbospot can now transmit POCSAG pager transmissions, I put the NooElec NESDR SMArt on my tablet and on the standardised pager frequency in the Amateur 70cm band and indeed the hotspot is genuinely transmitting.

I hope to try and get hold of a compatible pager and use this to its full potential, because it's retro tech and works well for what it is, and this service being part of the Amateur radio service is perfectly legal to decode, unlike commercial pager systems.

The hotspot is working as follows, when it is idle, the POCSAG transmissions can take place on the worldwide spot frequency of 439.9875MHz (or whatever frequency is set up for paging, though this one is the standard in most of the world), once the hotspot has done this is switches back to the hotspot frequency (in my case I use 438.800 as in the UK bandplan this is set aside for personal hotspots, though your country my differ), while a digital voice transmission is in progress or the hotspot is receiving a digital voice transmission it will not transmit any further POCSAG until the hotspot has returned to its standby state.

If you want to use the DAPNET yourself you need to go onto, open a ticket to create an account (you will need to also submit your licence document as proof you are an Amateur radio operator), then you will need to open a ticket to register a transmitter, which will give you the auth code to put into the POCSAG settings on your hotspot, this does work with most Pi-Star based hotspots but not sure about others.

If you have a pager you'll need to obtain a RIC, open another ticket to do this.

I have Josh KI6NAZ from Ham Radio Crash Course to thank for me actually getting registered with DAPNET, one of his previous livestreams featured a pager in it (though the subject was the NanoVNA) and he has a video on the pager subject as well which is what motivated me to finally get on and do it, and though his channel is an American channel I highly recommend you check him out no matter where in the world you are.

there's more to come on this subject so do watch this space

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 28 June 2020

The current-model Thunderpole T-800 CB radio's odd country selections

I discovered that the country standard selection in the current model Thunderpole T-800 was a bit obscure, which I alluded to in my last post, the radio is still a good radio it just seems to come with a bizarre set of country standards including one that overlaps in the CW and data parts of the 10-meter band, and transmitting there is going to upset every Amateur and of course the authorities of the country where the transmission originates if this can be determined.

So I put a video up onto the channel showing exactly this and it's also attached below for you to go straight to.

I do like these Thunderpole badged CB radios, the T-2000 is one I hope to get in the future, and I know there are still a lot of the original radio, the T-1000, still out there, if you're a starter the T-800 is the most simple radio you can buy, currently £60 with free delivery from Thunderpole, if you need an antenna and mount then you can get it in a pack for between £85 and £95 depending on what mount and antenna you choose.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Thursday 25 June 2020

Thunderpole T-800 now here

This morning I took delivery, then filmed the unboxing video, of the Thunderpole T-800, the current model in production that uses the same chassis as the PNI Escort HP-8000 series, the only differences between those radios and the T-800 are the T-800 having a better mic, an RF gain control, and a channel 9 position on the switch closest to the display, the PNI Escort HP-8000 series have an adjustable auto-squelch, and a lock position on that switch, otherwise they're identical, except the PNI Escort HP8024 which has the 24V regulator position populated and the HP8001L which has a Kenwood style accessory jack above the volume control.

The radio feels light but well built, and it is supplied as standard on the UK channels, though the banding in the radio does not match the chart in the book.

On the display if the radio shows -U it is the UK+CEPT all in FM, at 4 watts, selectable on the AM/FM switch, if it shows CE it is the CEPT band only, not tested this to be AM/FM yet but will investigate, now here comes the complicated bit,

-d on the display is the EU channels in AM/FM at 4 watts, -P is Polish offset (0 rather than 5 ending), -g is all 80 channels approved for use in Germany, but there are other modes as well and these do not appear to be legal anywhere yet the radio can transmit on them (I have tested this into a dummy load) and will be putting a video out on that in the next few days showing these unusual standards and which ones (pretty much all of them aside from the ones I have mentioned above) that you really must not select and use.

I hope to get an on-air test and a car-to-car test done on this radio too as that is something I've never done before, but in the mean time the video I filmed is available below

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Saturday 20 June 2020

Upcoming attractions to the YouTube channel

So the YouTube channel is beginning to prove popular meaning I need to put more content up, so I am planning the next lot of upcoming attractions.

I plan to take a look at the Thunderpole T-800 CB radio (after being told by Ben of channel 'RustySkull Productions' that the RF gain on these sets works in FM now, after seeing videos of them, particularly on 'UK CB Radio Servicing' showing that the RF gain does not work in FM, and pictures on Thunderpole's website clearly showing what is the same board as the PNI Escort HP8000 series (which are actually cheaper radios) which also featured on that channel.  With the T-800 I hope to speak to someone I know who has a car and be willing to help me do a car-to-car test from my home QTH to Wetherby Services on the A1(M)

The next one I hope to do is a look at the PNI Escort HP62, which is effectively a handheld CB with a car kit but no battery box, and it comes with the PNI Extra 48 antenna, which I already have and will look at later on anyway as it is a mobile antenna but would need some adjustment to work on 27/81.

I hope to get on air a bit more as well, though I will miss the annual celebration of legal AM and SSB on CB again this year as I will be working I will use whatever days off I have to get on air from better high ground.

With the COVID-19 situation a lot of rallies were cancelled, the most notable for me was Blackpool which was to feature on the channel (I made up the titlecards for the video well in advance and still have those) however as the situation unfolded I made the decision not to go anyway, however at time of writing as far as I can tell the National Hamfest is still going ahead, with the UK government lowering the threat level of the virus this may make it likely that this event will still go ahead, and of course make it to YouTube (and perhaps I'll be able to meet other radio YouTubers there too and we could cross-promote but time will tell), I will keep a watch on this situation as well.

Hopefully if things work out well for me I may be able to get some HF gear in the shack at last as I still have not got any and would like to get on air and may be able to hide a wire in the nearby trees outside.

I also am hoping to still put on an igate, and add video of me setting this up on YouTube as well though this was something else I had to postpone due to COVID-19 but should soon be able to go out and buy wood to make shelves for my shed to install the equipment on, and though I have a radio to use for it I am yet to get any kind of controller arranged and cannot get an NoV until I know it all works fine on a bench into a dummy load.

There is more to come that I have not planned, I do sometimes add the odd spur of the moment video too as there are sometimes some interesting things on the air too that are worth recording and sharing on YouTube.

Don't forget if you're not already subscribed pop over to the channel and hit the button and ring the bell, I don't have a set frequency, I upload when I can.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday 8 June 2020

CB radio on my bicycle, an idea inspired by Jez 2E0IQJ of YouTube channel 2j4ez

I had a plan to run a CB radio from my old scooter when I had it, but this did not come to fruition, I have an old 3/8" threaded snail mount but this has no cable fitted, my idea is to drill a hole through the  pannier rack or use a piece of metal as a bracket to fix to the pannier rack, and put a battery into my old scooter top box fixed to the pannier rack as long as the pannier bag itself still fits.

The radio Jez used originally on his pushbike was a CRT One, a standard mobile CB, because I have a set of wireless indicators on my bicycle I cannot do that, and would like something with a little more handsfree availability I would use my Midland 42, however the PNI offering I mentioned in my last post would also do the job for this and would just need to run off a battery which I can remove daily.

Antennas, I have two choices, the orbitor/springer antenna or the dial-a-match antenna, don't think I'll have a lot of luck with the Extra 48 as it's more for the mids than it is for 27/81.

My bicycle is out of action at the moment as one of the pedals needs a new nut, preferably a nyloc type, I suspect it was one of these but the nylon insert has failed, next time I'm in a local hardware store I shall pick some suitable nuts up once I have the nut for the bicycle sized up again and possibly a suitable piece of metal to fit the snail mount to, it may need a groundplane as well but that I will work out when I can.

Whatever radio I use I will need a handsfree kit of sorts, Albrecht did do one aimed at PMR446 for motorcyclists which I modified to run off a handheld CB as for some reason these jam handheld CBs in transmit despite being wired identical, I still have some parts of this, the main loom with modification and the PTT switch, so I could reuse this with an appropriate headset when I reverse engineer the pinout of what appears to be a DIN connector on the main loom, otherwise new headset to buy.

First up though, fix the bike and use it, and thanks Jez for the inspiration.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 7 June 2020

Handheld CB discussion

I came across a video on UK CB Radio Servicing on YouTube in which Richard G0OJF has a go at servicing a PNI Escort HP62, which as I have worked out is the same radio as the Moonraker Major 42 which also from what I am to believe shares internals with the new "digital squelch" version of the Midland Alan 42, Richard also worked out that the circuit is designed to run off 12 volts rather than 13.8 volts, I wondered if the older Midland 42 Multi, which I own, was OK at that voltage, it is, then I did some digging with my Intek H-520 Plus car kit and concluded that the radio is designed for 9V as it is regulated down in the Intek car kit, whereas the Midland Alan 42 Multi car kit is straight through with no regulation.

The Moonraker variant is the cheapest handheld on the market today, it joins its Midland and PNI cousins on the Moonraker website (they're all fundamentally the same radio), other options out there are the K-Po Panther (which is really a President Randy II and uses a TNC antenna rather than a BNC one and has also been featured on a video by Richard G0OJF), and just recently appeared to market is the TTI TCB-H100 which has a roger bleep and echo facility onboard, as well as a drop-in charger as standard which to my knowledge no handheld marketed previously had one as standard and only the Randy II/K-Po Panther/Lafayette Urano had one as an optional extra, the Intek H-520 and 512 had the contacts for one but one was not made or marketed.

Having owned the Alan 42 Multi for some years (and my XYL liking that radio too) I am keen to see how the Moonraker Major 42 and the PNI Escort HP62 fair, the latter radio is solely the car kit and battery boxes and a BNC antenna are optional, it's also supplied with the Extra 48 antenna of which I already have one, the Moonraker handheld meanwhile comes with at least one battery box and the car adaptor is optional.

Though handheld CBs generally lack in performance due to their compromise antennas, though the longer Albrecht CL27 antennas are available and I have proven that antenna is a good option on YouTube, they can be very handy for communications in a similar manner to PMR446, you have flexibility of all 80 legal channels, I do still advocate their use but to do anything realistic with them a longer antenna is always better, modern ones also don't eat batteries as much as their older counterparts and can be put into low power anyway to save battery power if you don't need a full 4 watts (and some, like the Intek H-520 plus, refuse to even key up at full power when the batteries are at a certain level).

Moonraker do sell 5 PNI CB radio products including the Escort HP62, which I will cover another day, I also hope, finances pending, to be able to take a look at the Major 42 and see how it fairs against a distant cousin by Midland, and also hopefully take a look at some more PNI offerings because they're so affordable it makes sense not to promote these radios to those looking to start out in CB.

Again I hope to discuss this on my YouTube channel though I've not decided if I should do it as a live stream or a regular filmed video, but keep an eye on the channel.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Testing the boomerang antenna with a choke on it and the Zello gateway

I have put up the boomerang antenna for 11-meters today, being only possible to tune it for 27/81 or CEPT, not both, I opted to tune it for 27/81 as I wanted to run the Zello gateway experimentally on channel 11 (27.70125MHz), I filmed both of these for YouTube which will be hopefully going up tomorrow.

My choice of channel 11 may upset the European pirates who use 27.700 for SSTV illegally, given that it is .00125MHz away from UK channel 11, which is an FM only channel and UK stations are legally entitled to use it and any station outside the UK is in fact in breach of the rules in their country, though I am using 4 watts here which is the legal CB limit my transmissions could in fact cause the pirate operators issues during lift conditions if they receive me, or in this case my Zello experiments at a strong signal due to the nature of the 11-meter band during lift conditions.

I will be doing a little range test tonight while at work with my Sirio Hi-Power 4000 and my Thunderpole T-3000 and see what range I can get out of it, pirate SSTV pending of course.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

4 years since I was betrayed

So 4 years now since I went to Staines to ML&S to pick up my Yaesu FTM-400XDE, Diamond NR770RSP and Sirio magmount, and unfortuately 4 years since I was stabbed in the back by Chance Callahan KD0MXN, and he was active on air sadly as recent as April this year, however using APRSDroid from a phone and he still has not changed his address with the FCC ULS putting him in breach of Part 97 assuming, if I read it correctly, that all hams out there in the states have to change their address when they move house, however his track record is grim and he is woefully unfit to hold an Amateur radio licence.

So apart from stabbing me in the back when I went to Staines in 2016 he also:

He also hoped to get back on air using a HackRF SDR at one point, the output of those is dirty so would not be possible without filtering and it can access bands he does not have privileges on as well. 

I meanwhile, still not deterred from the hobby by this horrible young man who has tried to break rules as he sees fit and harass me at every opportunity, have continued on and reached the full licence level here in the UK since the last anniversary of this terrible act, and I also run a YouTube channel on all things radio both Amateur and CB, and stay within the terms of my licence and also don't break the law, makes me a good operator and I am always happy to speak to people on air.

On the plus side I have more content planned for YouTube so keep watching.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday 25 May 2020

PNI Escort HP7120 on air test this week

I hope to get, on Wednesday, the PNI Escort HP7120 compact CB radio on the air from local high ground, the radio will be on the T2LT antenna, this will be the first proper use of that antenna since I had to cut some damage out of the feed section, and also since Activate All Counties in 2018, though it was up in my demo video earlier this year on deploying a CB setup in an emergency.

The radio will be run at the power output as it came, it has not been modified to do the 8 watts and this modification will not be made to this radio, the mic will be the stock mic as I prefer to use the stock mic where possible, the antenna will be on my SOTABeams pole.

I should be on air most of the day with it so if you do hear me feel free to have a chat with me, I will be filming for YouTube so do let me know if you do not want to be on film and I'll make sure you're not included on the final video.

I expect the video to be on the channel by Thursday, this is because it can take up to 5 or 6 hours to render a video depending on how long it is.

I also hope to get my Boomerang antenna back up this week and the choke tested out on it depending on the wind as it has been high lately and that has postponed it a little bit longer, if I do get it up I hope to set my benchmark for CB range testing as well as some other experiments.

I also have the radios on in the car and monitor UK19 (though I tend to hear the burner brigade for the most part) and also the local repeaters on 2-meters, these are GB3IR and GB3HG though in the main it's usually GB3IR which is also on IRLP and Echolink.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday 18 May 2020

The purpose of the roger bleep

This comes about after I picked up a member of what I refer to as the 'Cleveland Burner Brigade' (a group of people that sit on UK19 and don't move and TX at too high a power in the Guisborough, Stokesley and possibly Yarm areas) using an overly long roger bleep in the sound of the horn from the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazzard, the other station using a standard beep as is acceptable practice if you must use one.

Now roger bleeps are useful on 11-meters/CB if the mode of transmission is SSB as that has no carrier and no other way of knowing if the other station has dropped the key, in AM and FM they find another use, they stick out in the noise better than the human voice so you CAN hear the station when they drop the key even if the voice is unreadable due to a low signal.

I don't mind roger bleeps being used too much on 11-meters though most legal radios do not come with them as a standard option, the ones I do know of that do are all of the President radios released in the last 10 years, this includes the Lincoln II(+) despite that radio being a 10-meter radio and often unlawfully used on 11-meters, the legal 27/81 radios of the 80s I know of that feature a bleep are the legitimate Amstrad 901s (both the Japanese made and Hong Kong made variants) as well as the nasty copies from Hong Kong that became a SpinneyTronic/Harvard radio.

Roger bleeps find their way into every PMR446 set on the market, and usually they are on by default, given the short range of PMR446 this is acceptable so if you do walk a bit too far out of range you can at least hear the other party has transmitted, and that can be useful given businesses tend to use these, shops for instance.

Unfortunately roger bleeps find there way into Chinese made Amateur radio gear, as most of this stuff is aimed at professional PMR markets in those countries, however this extends to 10-meter radios as these are often easily unlocked to work on the 11-meter band, examples of this are the AnyTone AT-5555 and radios derived from it (which is a commonly used illegal radio on CB), the AnyTone AT-6666 and radios derived from it (which is also commonly used illegally on CB) and as alluded to above the President Lincoln II(+), roger bleeps are never used in the Amateur radio world, no standard Amateur radio equipment features such a thing, and with CB-like features in some of these radios including roger bleeps (which in some are programmable to what you want) makes me wonder if the manufacturer wanted to target these at the CB market but to get around compliance testing they were made and sold as "10-meter" radios (I use my SS9900, an AT-6666 derivative, on 10-meters only).

I will be doing a video on this subject so do stay tuned to the YouTube channel, I will stress again that I don't dislike roger bleeps, I just see no point in them being excessively long, used to play tunes or found in radios that are used on the Amateur bands primarily.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Saturday 16 May 2020

Keeping a CB radio in the boot of your car for emergencies

Back in the 80s it was possible to obtain emergency CBs that you put in the boot of your car and deployed if you had a breakdown, CB back then was in constant use and channel 9 generally respected as an emergency channel, the original Radiocommunications Agency leaflet, which predates Ofcom and also from the era that CB radio required a £15 annual licence to operate, stated to respect operating conventions and keep channel 9 clear for emergency use but it also stipulated the same thing Ofcom do today, that 9 is no substitute for 999 or marine channel 16, the document is RA369 and is on the UK National Archives, along with the rest of the RA website which includes that channel 9 be kept clear for emergencies but is was not a licence condition nor was is protected from abuse, though it was monitored, but today it is not so, or at least at present anyway and it is still traditionally seen as an emergency channel.

Today emergency kits are not made brand new or sold, however very compact CB radios are available and they generally have a cigarette lighter plug on them, a small compact antenna with a magmount is all you really need, and an SWR meter for tuning it initially, the compact Dial-A-Match antennas are ideal for this because they are relatively easy to tune, though the range is limited there is still a chance that if you need to call for help you WILL be heard.

I have put a video onto YouTube covering these points and it's included below for you to see, as I am trying to encourage people to use CBs mobile before I put my proposal to HM Government that these radios be made mandatory equipment, that way the benefits can be seen before I do so, however I'm keeping this on hold until COVID-19 is dealt with.

Do remember though that Channel 9 is an emergency channel it is not always monitored and calling for help on 19 may work as long as the burner brigade aren't jamming it but there are 40 channels in total on the UK block so someone will be there somewhere

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 10 May 2020

Coming up on the YouTube channel

I have a few videos in the pipeline, and here's what they are

I go through the mic wiring of a CB microphone using a conventional plug (this is of a 6-pin variety), I will also be looking at the Albrecht CL27 rubber duck antenna for handheld CBs and finding out how it will fair against the one supplied on a handheld doing a test a-la "handheld CBs, are they any good", a video I will be reviewing prior to running the test, and I will also be taking a look at a Solarcon Dial-a-match type antenna (the A110) and showing you how to tune it and seeing if I can also get it to work on 10-meters without a tuner.

The CB mic plug video is also under way as there are parts I can do now for that video ahead of schedule, a small video showing what I ordered from Thunderpole, as I ordered these things together with some PL259s for RG8 mini and a rubber boot for my original magmount (which will be used to demonstrate the dial-a-match) as the current one was hurriedly repaired with Sugru prior to its 8 months on the roof of the Peugeot 106.

I will be paying close attention to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's message tonight regarding the lockdown and if certain restrictions are relaxed (which may not be likely) I will be planning an air test of the PNI Escort HP7120  from Hurgill Road in Richmond provided it is safe to do so and not in contravention of lockdown, I may even use the T2LT antenna for that one to see just where legal power will take me, this way I don't have to muck about unplugging the mobile antenna from the Thunderpole T-3000.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Thursday 7 May 2020

PNI Escort HP7120 & PNI Extra 48 compact compromise antenna now here

So I paid £56.95 plus postage (the postage would be the £7) for the PNI Escort HP7120 and the Extra 48 antenna, my first impressions of the radio are positive, it's very small and fits in almost all modern cars where space could well be at a premium, I own a first generation Toyota Aygo (a late one from 2013/14) and as anyone who owns that car or its Peugeot and Citroen siblings will know is that space is quite hard to find in there so this radio would fit those cars perfectly, however as I have a Thunderpole T-3000 in my car I have no plans in which to replace it with this PNI set.

The set uses a quick-release bracket for mounting, rather than the thumbscrew arrangement, and is supplied with a power lead that is not only fitted with a cigarette lighter plug it is also fitted with an inline fuse so no need to fit a fuseholder if you want to remove the plug and hard wire.

The Extra 48 antenna looks exactly like the sort of antenna you'd find fitted to a car for broadcast reception except it is a magmount and has thin coax feeding it, I tested it on my car and it seems to work ok on EU20 but a little high at the outer band edges and the UK band was a no-go so this antenna will be revisited in the future when lockdown is over.

I also plan to give the radio an on-air test when the lockdown finishes, I've already compared its audio with the Thuderpole T-3000 which I include in the attached YouTube video below, especially considering the sizeable microphone with the T-3000 over the small one with the PNI set.

The on-air test will also be done on YouTube.

And a radio for still cheaper than the cheapest compact radio alone you cannot go wrong.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Thursday 30 April 2020

Another new radio on its way, but what radio?

Today I put an order in for a new radio, it is a CB radio, but not an expensive one, but on arrival there will be the unboxing for YouTube, of course I know what the radio is but you guys will find out in due course what I have ordered.

The set is a brand new multi-standard set, and is compact and fits in the smallest of cars, it apparently can be modified to put out around 8 watts or so but I won't be doing this to remain legal and keep the warranty, it has featured on YouTube channel 'simonthewizard' and also appears on his blog, and that is all I am going to say on it for now.

The radio should, COVID-19 pending, arrive sometime next week, I don't expect it to be on time because of the pandemic but I do know it will arrive as soon as it is possible to have it shipped and delivered as courier services are doing the best they can to keep things going during these times

I do have a few more lockdown reviews videos left to put on the channel too so keep watching for them, and keep watching for this new CB that is coming.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday 20 April 2020

A brand new CB radio and antenna for less than £50 (excluding shipping)? surely not

But apparently so, you can get a PNI Escort 7120 radio and PNI Extra 48 antenna (that looks very much like a normal FM broadcast antenna) for less than £50, and I for one am very intrigued.

These are being sold by PJBOX in Cornwall in the UK, as PNI isn't a common brand here in the UK (it's Romanian I believe), and the antenna itself is very fascinating, it won't have the range one would expect from a larger mobile antenna but it will get you on the air and also it would satisfy the requirement I have in my currently postponed proposal to get CB radios made mandatory equipment in every car on British roads.

Even though the radio is primarily sold in the Romanian market it can work on the UK 27/81 frequencies as it's sold as a CRT model here by some retailers, the antenna can possibly be tuned there as well though that is something I will have to investigate, the downside with the antenna is the coax supplied is quite thin stuff so may well prove lossy but it is a full starter kit for £50 and does not look out of place in your car.

I hope to get this pack in and on to my YouTube channel in the coming weeks, might take a little while longer with the whole COVID-19 situation however imports of goods is still going on, and with the dangerous myths about 5G going on right now causing people to burn down mobile telephone base stations (some of which aren't even 5G enabled) CB, and radio in general, is needed more now than ever if the nutjobs destroying mobile phone infrastructure because of a mistaken belief about it and the current situation bring it crashing down.

As I do still plan to make proposals to HM Goverment to make CB radio mandatory equipment in all British registered vehicles now is a good time to buy a set and get it in your car, and this is the perfect set for that, small, compact and comes with a small and discreet antenna.

73 de M0WNU

PS, on the 5G BS I plan to make a video to show how annoyed I am that people think it's connected to the current situation and think it's harmful.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Lockdown reviews, I review the radios I own

So given that were are currently in lockdown due to the coronavirus, and many rallies have been cancelled and my plans have had to be shelved as a result I decided to fill in the YouTube 'air time' with this small series where I review my own radios, I start with the Retevis RT87, the video is on render at time of posting and should be uploaded by 8pm BST however it may be a little bit later than that.

I will be following up with this tomorrow if I have time with my Wouxun KG-UVD1P, then following that my Pofung GT-5, then my AnyTone D868UV, my Baofeng BF-888 (which will be reprogrammed for 70cm) and finally my Yaesu FT2D in the VHF/UHF handheld category, I chose not to do my Baofeng UV5RC-Plus because I used it to see if the RT87 faired better and the battery has fallen off it and disappeared meaning a new battery is needed for that radio, my Yaesu FTM-400XDE will be done as well, though it's in the car, and some of my CBs will be done but not the President Grant II and the Thunderpole T-3000, my working PMR446 radios will also be done.

I plan to do this using my once a day exercise allowance, which up until filming the first video I had not used so only really had fresh air when working however being stuck in the house is not good for the old mental health so a brisk walk in the fresh air is a brilliant idea and combining it with YouTube video filming is a brilliant idea and if stopped by the police I can legitimately say I am getting some fresh air, though I will only stay on streets within 5 minutes walk of the home QTH at all times,

And there is also kitties in the first video, and that was not planned as the cats were on the street while I was filming,

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Saturday 4 April 2020

Radio projects I can look at again and a possible radio related birthday livestream on YouTube

So with this lockdown in effect going out /p is not an option, though when the lockdown is over and it is safe to do so I will return to looking at /p operating though now I am gathering ideas.

I have a few radio projects still to work on and parts for these if needed can be ordered online, my igate project which has stalled since Coastal Chipworks in the USA ceased trading requires I look at a new method to get the igate on the air, though I will still use a Raspberry Pi for this which I also have not got however the suppliers are still trading and therefore I can order though there could be delays depending on stock levels, demands and courier companies or the postal service operating on lower staff numbers.

Staying on the igate project, power and antenna have yet to be sorted, the radio will still be the Leixen VV-898 and is cheap, rather than me spending money on a big-name radio though an old Motorola VHF taxi radio could be used here as well I have the VV-898 lying around and 10 watts would be fine (not counting coaxial cable losses).

Other projects will hopefully include finishing the HF slinky antenna I started, I was hoping to get ladder line for that from Blackpool however with me deciding not to go and the rally being cancelled as it falls within the current lockdown period anyway I will have to order this from an online supplier, though I still lack an HF set and an antenna tuner to test it and I would need to properly test it /p which I also cannot do anyway.  There also remains to get the boomerang antenna back up and tested, the Zello gateway tested (though I am thinking of obtaining a mini PC to run that exclusively as my shack computer would use more electricity that I'd like just to do that).  More YouTube videos will be coming to try and fill the void left by lack of /p and rallies that did not happen because of the coronavirus.

Onto other things, I am hoping to run a livestream the day after my actual birthday as I am working on my birthday, because I can't really have a birthday party this year or even see family like I normally would, I hope to invite people to call in via Zello, Echolink and my YSFReflector, which means that if you are not licensed you can still participate via Zello, I have set up a Zello channel which I am intending to open up during livestreams on my YouTube channel, on Echolink just look for my callsign, and to find the YSFReflector just search on the Pi-Star website as that will give you the number needed if you are using a bridge between YSF and another digital voice mode, an announcement will be made on my YouTube channel once my rota for next week is confirmed which hopefully will be by the time I clock off tonight.

Stay safe guys, enjoy the radio, and also have fun finishing off those projects you've been meaning to, if you can of course.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Saturday 28 March 2020

In the lockdown, no excuse not to be on air

So at the time of this post, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a lockdown though we can still go out for a short bit of exercise and to the shops for essentials as infrequently as possible, so to fill in the time of boredom why not get on the radio, even if all you have is a handheld radio.

I can still go out to work as I am considered a key worker as I deliver food to people, albeit pizzas but that is still food, though I do risk being pulled over as I use my own car to do this, however the positive is that I have radios in the car and can get on 2-meters, 70cm and CB/11-meters, the latter being especially ideal right now.

At home I put up my 2-meter groundplane antenna however there is little to hear on 2-meters and also the wind got up on the day of posting to a point in which I decided to take the antenna down.

I am in a position though in which I can work on building the local igate I want to run though obviously in the situation as it stands an NoV may take longer.

This is also a good time for those radio related projects as well so why not dust off that soldering iron and those half-finished projects and get them finished off, even those portable antenna designs so when we are finally allowed back out again portable ops, even from a car, are there to be had.

And, as always, stay safe guys and play lots of radio and don't forget my YouTube channel, I'm trying to upload a lot more frequently this year and beyond.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Monday 23 March 2020

COVID-19 update: 23rd March 2020

As the situation with the coronavirus pandemic gets worse and more and more places shut down for the safety of everyone, I have taken the decision to not travel out to Blackpool at all following advice from Public Health England.

This means my cancellation list as of today looks like this

  • NARSA rally (even if it is still going ahead)
  • Trip up Blackpool tower to operate /p with the Yaesu FT2D to see if it works where Baofengs cannot
  • All meetings of the CRDARS until further notice, as we have the GB3IR repeater in our locality it is hoped these would be on-air instead.
The postponement list remains unchanged during this time though this can change quickly

A video to this effect will be released later on today and what I plan to do instead.

Catch me on 2-meters, the Hubnet, CB and Network radios, I have increased use of all during the pandemic.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 22 March 2020

More kindness from Amateur radio operators, Carl 2E0EZT to run Zello net for those who's foundation training is currently on hold

Another fellow YouTuber, Carl 2E0EZT is running a weekly net on Zello for those of you who cannot get on the air and unfortunately have to wait for a foundation licence, as he is also inviting those with a licence in too I may well call in too, as I like to give back to the hobby were I can, I like Carl's content and perhaps having a few full licence holders in there may help the foundation students get their questions answered as during this period they can study until tests resume when the situation improves.

I hope to do exactly what I did with Callum's 80-meter net and put this on YouTube, Carl has said he will be livestreaming it anyway though I would like to put some of it onto my YouTube channel as long as everyone is happy of course.

Thanks Carl

73 de M0WNU

PS, here is a video by Carl telling you what you have to do to join the net.

COVID-19 update: 20th March 2020

I post this now as at present there is now uncertainty on if the NARSA rally at the Norbreck Castle Hotel will take place, I am also continuing to monitor the situation with the goverment's travel advice and will update you further when things are known for certain.

As I work as a delivery driver for a well-known chain of pizza shops it is paramount that I do not put myself at any more risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus, this also extends to limiting travel where possible even for YouTube videos, portable operation can still continue from remote locations.

I planned a series of YouTube videos where I would operate from towns and localities where I spent parts of my life growing up, due to the pandemic I am going to have to put this on hiatus as it will involve a lot of travelling and stays at hotels for some of those videos and would increase the risk to myself, I'll be putting a video and post up with up to date postponements and cancellations in the next couple of days.

The uncertainty regarding the rally in Blackpool comes as the Northern Amateur Radio Societies Association announced on the rally website they will be meeting with staff at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, should this meeting result in postponement or cancellation I will let you know as soon as I can, as this will directly affect future videos for my YouTube channel.

I am going to start portable operations in the coming weeks on the 2-meter band dependent on weather and other factors, I may also operate /p on 11-meters however this is not set in stone, these portable ops I will be doing alone to avoid any chance of spread of the virus or catching it myself and at as remote a location as possible to help ensure this.

Stay safe guys and please remember to follow the advice of your local governments and public health departments, it could be the difference between life or death for not only you but those around you too, remember there are a lot of older people in this hobby that fall into the at risk groups, and some of the younger operators do too, hence why all clubs are cancelled and rallies are dropping like flies.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Wednesday 18 March 2020

The kindness of a ham

In this time of crisis we need someone who will think about those that are elderly and vulnerable in our hobby and I have found that person as none other than Callum M0MCX from DX Commander, he is organising a net at 11am weekdays on 3.780 MHz +/- depending on whether the frequency is already in use or QRM or other factors for the older guys in the hobby who may feel isolated and alone during all this.

Credit to Callum where it's due and I certainly plan to buy him a beer (or tipple of his choice) if I meet him in person

73 de M0WNU

Tuesday 17 March 2020

My postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19 - 17th March 2020

Currently mym plans for Blackpool remain unaffected by COVID-19, the Norbreck Castle Hotel have not been in touch yet regarding my booking and the NARSA rally is still going ahead, also further to this the Blackpool Tower is still open as normal at present, I as well as the organisations responsible for the establishments and the NARSA rally will no doubt continue to assess this ever-changing situation.

I start with the following cancellations correct as of today (17th March 2020):
  • All meetings of the Colburn & Richmondshire District Amateur radio society for the foreseeable future, all members should have received an email to this effect from club secretary Chris G4FZN

Current postponements correct as of today (17th March 2020):

  • Ripon & District Amateur Radio society rally due to take place on the 12th April, this is also repeated on their website and also the club announced it too has taken the decision to cancel all club meetings for the foreseeable
During this current crisis please keep yourselves and those around you safe and remember to follow only the official guidance from official sources, and keep doing the things you enjoy with this in mind

Further news of what is postponed affecting my radio plans for this year will be outlined in further posts as I get the information, in the mean time check out my YouTube channel, I do have plenty more to come and will also keep you up to date there too.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Friday 13 March 2020

Hotspots and YSF reflectors

Yesterday on the YouTube channel I posted a video on hotspots for DV modes such as DMR, Yaesu System Fusion, D-STAR and some others, I briefly also touched on the YSF reflectors, and knowing fellow YouTuber and Amateur radio operator Carl 2E0EZT had made one on cloud hosting I thought about making one on a Raspberry Pi, so I did.

The process to create the YSF reflector was very long because on Raspbian Buster it did not work, on Raspbian Stretch it has worked fine, the Pi hardware itself is my remaining working Raspberry Pi 1B made in Wales version, the reflector is listed and is currently online and under test, I have a video for this in the process of being rendered, in the mean time I have the video for the hotspots available on YouTube and it is included below with the photo of the YSF reflector.

The video for the YSF reflector should be online later on today at time of posting.

73 de M0WNU

Wednesday 11 March 2020

The 'werewolf' of Tesco Catterick Garrison... solved

So as you will be aware it has been noted now by a couple of Amateurs in my area, myself included, that there is a strange 'werewolf' interference coming from the local Tesco store here in Catterick Garrison, the cause of this remained a mystery, until now.

A colleague of mine figured it could have been a combination of the automatic doors and the 2-way radio systems used by the staff, however I have narrowed it down to solely the automatic doors on the front of the shop as after 4pm on Sunday night, the interference vanished.

Then to add to my theory of it just being the automatic doors the 'howl' part of the interference coincided with the doors opening on approach of someone, therefore the case is now solved and it stands to reason that the automatic doors at this Tesco store fail to comply with the regulations in place regarding generation of interference, and because they cause interference into spectrum where Amateur radio operators are primary users, that could be a problem for the automatic door manufacturer if other doors of this type are found to do exactly this, especially if that interference is found in bands used for more critical applications.

A video will be released on YouTube later today or tomorrow morning.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 8 March 2020

Possible attendance at the 2020 Ripon rally

I have been trying to find a date for this rally, as I could not find one, for some time now and checking the RSGB rallies list on their website shows that the rally is indeed taking place and I hope to be there, with video camera and hopefully a radio in tow as well.

Though I will not know my work schedule until a week before this event it usually runs with plenty of time to get me to and from Ripon as well as to work as I've fitted it into my work schedule in previous years without booking the day off.

Hopefully I might find a bargain or two there and of course as I plan to film get it onto YouTube this year, along with other rallies I hope to attend this year including the National Hamfest in September as this is a 2-day event so plenty to be filming there.

If you see me at the Ripon rally do say hi.

73 de M0WNU

Saturday 7 March 2020

a small issue with the Boomerang antenna, and a bit of a catch up

So I spent Thursday setting up the Boomerang antenna however I ran into a problem with it, a narrow bandwidth that I was not anticipating so SWR on a lot of channels was higher than desired no matter how much adjustment I made and then I discovered there to be common mode currents on the coaxial cable, leaving me to build a choke which I have not done due to not having the parts, I also, that day, did a range test revisit on the handheld CBs and they performed much better from the HT to the base station, rather than one on the building and one outdoors, the only place they struggled was, as expected, in front of the shops at Princes Gate Shopping Park, though they may not have got over the S3-S5 of noise the Grant II was showing on the S-meter.

I also discovered that I was not the only Amateur in the local area hearing interference outside the local Tesco, dubbed the 'werewolf' as it has a distinct 'howl' in parts, and I've no idea what it is though one of my work colleagues, who knows nothing much if anything about radio, says he might have an idea, that was also made into a YouTube video as I went down straight after the club on the Wednesday night armed with the Yaesu FT2D.

My next video up, by this evening all being well if I can get it onto YouTube before I have to be in work, is part 1 of two on the ugly balun, which ties into the boomerang antenna, part 2 is on making the thing.

Future videos are hopefully going to be:

  • Ugly Balun part 2: making one for 27 MHz, see above
  • Dummy loads
  • Getting started with radio
  • Operating /p from Blackpool Tower with a Yaesu FT2D, a sort of follow-up to Ringway Manchester's "Baofeng's Fatal Flaw, receive overload & desensistisation" to see if an expensive Japanese-made radio from a big name brand can work where the Baofeng radios cannot
  • The NARSA rally 2020 at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool.
  • A look at the µBitX V6 kit and assembly (I plan to buy one as a cheaper way onto HF)
  • Setting a benchmark with the Thunderpole T-3000 and the Sirio Hi-Power 4000
  • Testing out my other CBs on the same mobile antenna against the Thunderpole T-3000 (multiple videos)
  • Bowburn Rally 2020 (if I get there this year)
  • National Hamfest 2020
This list isn't a complete list as there may well be other videos made as well that I have not planned to make as sometimes happens, and I probably will plan further videos for later on in the year too.

I also hope to engage more with my subscribers soon so please do subscribe to my YouTube channel, your subscriptions will help encourage me to make more videos and make the channel better, also there is an on-air test of the Boomerang antenna still to do however I've already explained why I cannot do that one just yet, my YouTube channel is here

Latest videos are also included below

The above are all available on my YouTube channel linked to above, again please subscribe to the channel as I have plenty of content in the pipeline.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Saturday 29 February 2020

both antennas arrived, both scheduled for YouTube upload by Monday

I now have both antennas that I ordered, however the Thunderpole Boomerang antenna was to be delivered by Parcelforce (or Parcelfarce as I call them because they are incredibly useless) and they failed to deliver it to a neighbour as instructed, ignored the fact I rescheduled and left it at Catterick Garrison Post Office meaning after filming the video for the Sirio Hi-Power 4000 (and subjecting it to 70MPH due to a trip to nearby Darlington to do a bank run) I had to call at the Post Office to collect it, with that done editing work was finished for the Sirio antenna and the Boomerang unboxing video was filmed.

A big surprise with the Sirio was that I did not need to adjust it, SWR under 1.5:1 across all 80 channels, for the most part, the top end of 27/81 was about 1.4 which is acceptable, I was to compare between my K-Po and Zetagi SWR meters however this did not happen because another vehicle parked next to my car before I could do that, and the driver did not seem happy that I was even up there, probably because I don't own a dog, unfortunately public land means I have a right to go up there, it is ideal for radio given height and forms part of my mobile standardised test route, now I have the antenna I will be doing a dry run on video before actually doing anything on the air to show you the route from the car.

The only part to do from the perspective of the new antennas is the on-air test of the Boomerang, once it is up and tuned, given the fine adjustments that may be needed I won't bore you and give a final SWR reading as per the K-Po meter, the Zetagi meter, and the one built in to the President Grant II.

I will be working from 4pm tonight and as ever will be monitoring UK 19, which is usually full of the burner brigade running illegal power to speak to their pals which the 4 watts can do fine for them but they generally don't have a good understanding of this fact, that and they have the squelch turned all the way up which is a bit ridiculous really, maybe even with them I may notice a difference on this antenna on receive, the one thing that will be noticed is the fact I have a bigger antenna on the car.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Wednesday 26 February 2020

A couple of antennas on their way

I have placed an order for two antennas, a Sirio Hi-power 4000 for the car and a Thunderpole Boomerang for the home QTH, these antennas should, hopefully, work to set my base line for CB testing in a mobile environment, the base line is to be set as the Thunderpole T3000, the mobile antenna being as long as realistically possible, the boomerang coming in close to the 'spider antenna' for size.

Of course these antennas get a video on YouTube, the first one will be the Sirio Hi-power 4000 as that is the most straight forward to install, installation will be done at my new radio test ground above Richmond at the Hurgill Road end of the old racecourse.

The other reason I chose the Sirio Hi-Power 4000 is due to the similarity between it and the antenna loaned to me (see a previous video on my YouTube channel) which I since had to return as the amateur that loaned me it needed the magmount, the Orbitor/Springer antennna on the car was always going to be temporary, and the Hi-Power 4000 will work with 10-meters though I would need to shorten it and I was never comfortable doing this with a loaned antenna so it is my intent to buy a second Hi-Power 4000 to be tuned to 10-meters so I just swap the antennas over depending on if I choose to use 10-meters or 11-meters.

For CB, tuning will be done on my Thunderpole T-3000 with the car engine running to ensure the radio is running at it's maximum power output, SWR will be checked across the entire 80 channels using 2 SWR meters, my K-Po meter and my Zetagi meter, these meters will both be used with the boomerang when it goes up and tuning will be done on the Grant II, once this is done my base line can be set, all my radios will go through it, even my handhelds with car kits will be subject to this to see how they perform once a suitable speaker-mic can be obtained that won't jam them on transmit.

I will set up a scoring system for the standardised tests, also with a temporary base antenna I'll be able to retest the handhelds in the local area for a follow up video to "Handheld CBs, are they any good?".

Keep watching this space

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Blackpool rally attendance confirmed

Today I have been paid again and have booked my weekend in Blackpool ahead of this year's rally and hopeful visit to the Blackpool Tower to operate my FT2D on 2-meters up there if the weather is better than it was last year.

Last year I did take a fair selection of radios with me as well as the Jumbospot to the rally, partly to prepare for the trip up the tower should it have happened, which due to the bad weather that weekend it did not, I intend to film for two videos over the course of this weekend should the weather be good.

This year as I'll be able to operate 2/70 from the hotel room through the GB3FC repeater as well as the Jumbospot I'll be able to operate the portable ShackCam as well from my tablet, this will be done by virtue of a data connection from my phone, I will be filming from the top of Blackpool tower in the normal manner, both videos may take a few days after to make it to YouTube as I won't have access to my video editing facilities until after the rally, the Sunday evening by the time I return from Blackpool.

The rally takes place on the 26th April and if you are at the event then please do say hi, I always like to meet new people and discuss all aspects of the hobby even if I have yet to partake in them, I'll be wearing a custom made badge with my callsign on it.

See you in Blackpool

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

P.S, remember that on the Friday and Saturday I will be on the GB3FC repeater and also the hubnet and perhaps also Network Radios channel 00, I won't be operating 11-meters/CB from the hotel but may experimentally do so from Blackpool Tower on a handheld, I also will be running my APRS beacon throughout my journey to and from Blackpool using both the Hi10 Air tablet and the FTM-400XDE installed in my car

Saturday 22 February 2020

Shack organise complete

With the shack now reorganised despite lack of shelf space I can now film more YouTube videos in there rather than do them at the dining table, which I have been doing lately

My operating area is set up with 2 CBs and a 2/70 radio so I have a choice of what to operate, my 10-meter rig is in the house but my house power supply can only deliver 7 Amps 50% duty cycle, so I do plan to swap it out and relocate that power supply to the bedroom so as to be able to run the Team RoadCom-FS from it for the benefit of my wife when she does return to the UK.

My antennas are all by the door, and the coax cables are in a box under the desk next to the computer tower, the radios I am not using are on the shelves behind the desk right now until such times as I can put them on their own dedicated shelving unit which I hope to do possibly by May if all works out as to plan.

My electronics workbench is organised to some extent as well, and as I have a Heathkit valve voltmeter I'd like to get working I have a means to connect it to a mains supply temporarily, I suspect both valves will need replacing as will one electrolytic capacitor, the flex will also get replaced, this will feature on my electronics channel and I should be able to obtain the valves, and hopefully a valve tester, from a radio rally.

I have even organised the HT charging corner again, however the video editing area is still on my camping table, this should hopefully get sorted out in the next couple of months as I need the table for the National Hamfest 2020

I have yet to set up the camcorder and tripod in there for future YouTube videos, however I have filmed one showing the shack, and failing to answer the question as to why CBers call linear amplifiers 'burners', is it because they get hot and burn you? who knows.

The video is at this link and is included below.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Tuesday 18 February 2020

organising the shack, at last

The last couple of days I've spent time organising the shack, trying to get it organised and ready for new YouTube videos and hopefully equipment pending live streams as well, today has been spent finishing decluttering the operating position and testing the shackcam which I had to disconnect at some point though I forget why I did this.

At my operating position now is my QYT KT-8900D for 2-meters and 70cm, my President Grant II for 11-meters/CB, and my TTI TCB-550 to act as a Zello to CB bridge. there is a switch screwed into the desk that split the CB feed between the shack and the bedroom left over from when my XYL was in the UK last. I do plan to reinstate that feed when I get some more coaxial cable, I may replace the radio for a Team base station radio if I can find one, as it would use the same mic and my wife liked the Team mic over the Midland one, as the radio in the shack at the time was the Midland Alan 78 Plus Multi B, the President Grant II was not used for reasons I won't explain, and the Team RoadCom FS UK was used in the bedroom, where it still remains and it still works as I have put it on a dummy load to test, as all the radios in the shack were as well.

The next stage is to remove clutter from the area where the computer is located, though this cannot be seen on the shackcam as it is just out of the field of view whereas the radios and the keyboard, mouse and monitor are in the field of view, this will allow free movement of the chair, my old desk chair as I might get a new one for the living room computer, and also I need to return the coax storage box to the underneath of the desk,

Then there is my work bench by the window, at the moment I have had to pile things onto it so I can sort them out, also there is my large collection of RadCom and Practical Wireless issues (though I am debating whether I continue to buy that and its sister publication due to how the current publisher treated Dave M0OGY when he started doing a CB column in Radio User, the sister publication to Practical Wireless), the RadCom issues will keep building up as of course I am a member of the RSGB and I don't buy Practical Wireless often.

Then comes the HT charging area and the video editing area, the desk still needs expanding over the video editing area which will allow the audio mixing desk to be countersunk into the desk keeping those cables underneath and out of the way and thus allowing me to remove the camping table, I intend to ensure the desk is finished to that extent prior to Hamfest 2020 as I'll need the camping table for it, the HT charging area just needs a general declutter and reorganise.

Hopefully I will have this sorted by the end of this week

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Tuesday 11 February 2020

a money making idea involving radio

Part of the Amateur radio terms and conditions states that I cannot use it for commercial or business purposes, as such I can't obviously put this idea on air on those bands however nothing stopping me posting it here, though the equipment in question will be CB equipment, so here is what I would like to do to make some extra cash.

What I intend to do is go to local car boot sales, there used to be a large one at a place called Scorton, not sure whether it still takes place so I'll have to go up to the place and see, find any cheap and potentially untested CB radios from these, buy them, inspect the boards inside for the likes of leaky capacitors and recap where possible, and of course test them to see if they transmit and, importantly, are on frequency, fit them with a cigarette lighter plug on the power lead then sell them on with a magmount, antenna and SWR meter and a guide on how to tune the antenna once the magmount is on the car roof (I'll be aiming these sets at mobile use), wherever possible the SWR meter, magmount and antenna, which would likely be an Orbitor/springer type, would be brand new, I intend to price based on condition and age of the radio, any work that has had to be done, components replaced and if a new mic and power lead was needed.

I also intend to have a look on eBay as well, specifically for type approved radios as often there are old American radios from pre-legalisation doing the rounds on there which though compatible with the post 2014 standard those are still not legal for use, there are radios on there that have been powered up but not tested for transmit quite often appearing on there and as I do have the means to test these on transmit, a dummy load and a meter that can measure power to show an output, then I can check them for transmit, make sure they're sound and resell the same way.

Of course, to ensure no tampering does occur the cases will be sealed with tamper-evident stickers and the serial number noted in a log.

And any radios I cannot repair and resell as working I'll sell at Amateur radio rallies and target them towards those who would like to convert them for 10-meter use or with more ability and facilities to repair than I would have, so I'll be investigating local car boot sales starting from Wednesday of this week to find out when the next ones are on and start getting some CBs refurbished.

Again my finds will make it onto YouTube where I plan to look at them and test them out both into a dummy load and on the air, maybe making contacts if there are any and also using a method done by YouTube user 'knoxieman'.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Thursday 6 February 2020

Radio comms in times of emergency and disaster

Being a licensed Amateur and being in the radio hobby itself for a number of years, I have found it to be practical to keep a radio setup active to some degree, whether that be keeping HTs charged up or keeping an active CB station at home and in the car.

I bring this up in light of the scaremongering and fear that is going on because of the recent coronavirus outbreak from China, and the vast majority of people these days use mobile phones and there will probably come a point when the misinformation could lead to a mass panic and bring the mobile phone networks crashing down.

The alternative for the general public has always been CB radio, it's a one-off cost for radio and antenna and all connections, no licence or training is needed and will run off as little as a 12 volt battery, so even if the power goes out you're still in touch with the outside world.

Those of us in the Amateur radio community however have organisations like Raynet in the UK or similar in other countries where we can assist in times of emergency, having done this in the UK since the 1953 North Sea floods.  Where the emergency services radio systems may fail, ours will still continue to work and quicky deployed and put on air to help the emergency services, part of the UK Amateur radio licence terms allows us to pass messages on behalf of emergency services.

So my recommendation to those not licensed is to pick up a CB radio, there's plenty out there and the investment is worth it so when the mobile phone networks stop working due to overload in an emergency or disaster then you will still be in touch with everyone else.

I planned to do a YouTube video on this subject today however my XYL sent me out to the shops despite the current situation of her not living here so it never got filmed, I plan to film it now on Saturday because I work day shift tomorrow.

I don't recommend PMR446 or similar services because they are limited to 500mW and an exceptionally inefficient fixed antenna in a handheld radio and also given the radio spectrum they use the signal doesn't travel far in a built up area.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Sunday 2 February 2020

CB to Zello gateway

I have cobbled together using my TTI TCB-550, an old relay (which may have been used in the now-closed FRN gateway), and my existing interface that I rewired for the VV-898 a few years ago, with a very crude adaptor that converts the VV-898 connector to one that can plug into the TCB-550 into a Zello gateway, the Zello app runs on my shack computer reconfigured for gateway mode, it then listens either for activity on the CB channel the radio is tuned to, or from those in the channel logged into Zello on their phone, tablet or computer.

I didn't have a smooth sailing with it because the relay lost its common pin (it sheared off once wires were soldered onto it though I repaired it with a ball of solder) and working out which wire went to what on the VV-898 connection was a challenge, the audio out of my CMI8738 soundcard was unusable for this so the audio connections were all made to the onboard sound in the computer.

The CB transmits fine, and it receives fine (local testing from handhelds puts a buzz on the transmission but that's from operating them surrounded by electrical items), the CB in question was also used in the now-closed FRN CB Gateway, though I since removed the fan on it.

The CB is putting out the expected 4 watts, and an antenna is still required to go up to make it of any use, that's a work in progress given the antenna limitations I have here at this QTH.

Once the antenna connection is complete then I can transmit from my car's CB in the local area to any device running Zello in which the user of that device has access to the group the CB gateway operates from, and vice-versa, however I do not have a permanent computer to dedicate to such a task in the shack right now so it would only operate if I was out of the house.

And the best bit is, as Zello is used, any messages not picked up immediately can be replayed by the Zello users to catch up on, it would not work for radio side.

My plan with this is for the Zello side to only allow those I know to have access to it, the CB side I obviously have no control over as is the nature of CB, and neither the TCB-550 nor Thunderpole T-3000 (which I use in the car) have CTCSS, obviously the first person getting access is my XYL who can then contact me over the CB like she did when she was here.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730

Saturday 1 February 2020

Thunderpole T-3000

I took delivery of the Thunderpole T-3000 CB radio yesterday (I've not update the sidebar list for those of you that are viewing this on the desktop version of the blog), first impressions are good, it is nice and compact compared to most CB radios, it is a DIN space sized radio and certainly compared to my Team RoadCom FS is a small radio, it is my main in-car CB radio due to its nice compact size.

I did a video on the radio pretty much as soon as I got it and it is included in this blog post so I won't say too much on it on here as I've pretty much covered it all in the video.

Only thing I've yet to test on it is the Kenwood type speaker mic port, that's for later on but I can use it with the normal fist mic no problems.

I do monitor the 19 now pretty much all the time in the car so do give a shout out, I do call out as well, and as a licensed Amateur radio operator I still monitor 2-meters when mobile, usually repeaters.

And the video is here for you

Hope to catch you on the air, be it Amateur or CB, or even the Network Radio (I monitor Network Radios channel 00 most of the time) very soon

73 de M0WNU/26CT730 (or even just the red squirrel on the CB if you want to go proper old-school with handles on there)

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Thunderpole T-3000 is winging its way to my shack

Today was my payday, and factoring in that I have a bit of extra cash left over from my salary I placed an order for a Thunderpole T-3000 CB radio, which so far I have heard good reports about, this radio has already been looked at by RustySkull Productions on YouTube and Lewis M3HHY from channel "RingwayManchester" has looked at the radio this is a rebadge of, the Nanfone CB-689, and tested with another station radio to radio, the other station having the T-3000, was found to work well.

I plan to use this radio as my main mobile CB, even though it does not have SSB which I only really use parked up because adjusting the RIT (or clarifier as it's called on CBs) while mobile is a pain and with SSB you sometimes have to concentrate on the incoming audio which is certainly not ideal while driving, as this radio is so slimline it can fit any modern car with ease either into a DIN sized space or fixed to the dash with a bracket in the normal way.

The unit I ordered is an ex display unit, what that means is that Thunderpole have had it out of the box and had it on display, though they will have tested all accessories to ensure they function, particularly the microphone, which although has an LED in it, or at least a position for one, no LED lights up on transmit, this is because an optional Bluetooth mic is available for the Nanfone unit and would work with this as well, by virtue of the Kenwood HT type connector on the front (as I have a speaker mic and some headsets from Baofeng radios that fit I may test these too.

Naturally I will be doing a video with this radio, power tests (4 watts of course), how it looks and feels, ease of use and hopefully if there are any stations on that day a radio report.

I plan to mount this radio in the car, and ultimately keep my Grant II for portable work on 11-meters SSB, the antenna on the car at the moment for 11-meters is in fact my Orbitor/Tornado Stinger antenna that during the summer my XYL painted white and her and I converted into the antenna we dubbed the 'spider antenna', the magmount is an older version of the Sirio magmount I have in use for my 2/70 antenna, except this older one had near destroyed cable so I had to rewire it using coax from a snail mount I was not using, I will later on be replacing the rear antenna with something similar to the antenna I loaned, I'll have to see if GB Communications sell one of these because I then don't have to travel far and can swap the antennas over immediately, provided I remember an SWR meter because the T-3000 does not have one installed.

I certainly am eager to receive one of the most unique CB radios made today to fit into the most unique Toyota Aygo of them all, not because I've fitted radio equipment in it but because it did a journey from my home QTH to well into Bavaria and back and did not seem bothered, so a unique design of CB radio should complement it nicely.

There is a Sci-Fi connection with the naming scheme of the Thunderpole T-series CB radios, I've spotted it, can you spot it too?

I have started monitoring and calling out on 19 due to the appearance of a Ford Fiesta, a Volkswagen Bora and a pick up truck all equipped with Orbitor style antennas, so I know people are out there using the CB, and I'm pretty sure the drivers of these vehicles have seen the antennas on my car too, and I saw a video on YouTube where a CB operator drives to work on the motorway, gets passed by an HGV and the driver of the HGV calls out after seeing the antenna on the car of the operator that's filming, I suspect he's using a President Grant II in that video, no idea what the trucker was using though.

Hope to catch you on the CB and also don't forget as I'm a licenced Amateur radio operator I can be found on local repeaters in my area and sometimes the calling channel on 2-meters.

73 de M0WNU/26CT730 (or you can just call me the red squirrel on the CB if you like)

Sunday 19 January 2020

In car APRS map install almost complete

I have fitted the tablet mount in the car, unfortunately by using self-tapping screws into a piece of trim panel on the passenger side, and have tested to find the best position for the tablet so it does not interfere with the operation of the controls, it does block access to the stereo at the moment however this is a minor inconvenience.

The wiring has tested out in a temporary location and RF from the radio does not appear to interfere with the operation of the USB port thus allowing the mobile phone to remain tethered to the tablet over USB, the last job to do is tidy up the cabling by means of cable ties, keeping the radio cable away from anything else of course, the USB cable for the phone will run out loose from the hub as it will be reused in the charger as well for when the tablet is not in the car (for instance when I am at work and I require to charge the phone, the USB hub cannot deliver enough current for a fast charge), the hub was not powered externally during the mount install tests, the Bluetooth GPS unit, which got a lock relatively quickly, was though I suspect the connector does not quite fit the socket on the unit which results in poor to intermittent connection.

Otherwise everything is working, the tablet is displaying whatever the radio receives, the position from GPS and anything on the APRS-IS that is out of radio range, so all set for the off to Blackpool in April

73 de M0WNU

Saturday 18 January 2020

Addition to the in car APRS mapping setup planned

With me hoping to fit the mount for the tablet into the car on Sunday, attention has turned to how I would be able to type anything into the tablet while it is in the mount and off the keyboard dock, I decided a wireless keyboard with trackpad for this and as I've had good results with Logitech products in the past (I have a keyboard but lost the unifying receiver for it) I chose their K400, which we actually use at my work on one of the non-till computers (and it gets dropped on the floor sometimes), as this incorporates a trackpad it means I can still have the option of a mouse or a touchscreen, with APRSISCE/32 a mouse is needed due to the fact it is a desktop application not optimised for a touch screen.

The keyboard is of a decent size so it will fit in the glovebox or the space under the seat when not in use and the dongle can stay plugged into the USB hub which I plan to cable tie to the arm of the tablet holder, given how the setup is configured there would only be one spare USB port after this though this is not an issue as I'd only really use that for flash drives (the tablet does have a micro SD card slot onboard).

Unfortunately with pay day being some time away this will have to wait until then, however I hope to have the setup working ahead of the Blackpool rally so it can be used then not only filling in for where my FTM-400XDE cannot reach an igate or digipeater, but also gating others packets as well as the setup is able to do that.

Going onto the subject of igates, Coastal Chipworks, the company behind the TNC boards for the Raspberry Pi, have since ceased trading, which I discovered yesterday, so I am now having to look into an alternative method to get the Raspberry Pi to work as a two-way igate for this area, I shall keep you posted on my progress with that project.

73 de M0WNU

Thursday 16 January 2020

Testing the in-car APRS map display with USB hub on tablet

Today I had to do a run out to a local branch of discount supermarket Lidl, and thought it was a good opportunity to test out the map setup using a USB hub on the tablet, however some issues came to light during this before and after leaving the house.

The first issue was APRSISCE/32 causing the WiFi adaptor in the tablet to lock up under load, meaning my phone is tethered using a USB cable (Bluetooth was tested and found to be unacceptably slow, and RF from the radio, with the cables in a certain place, would cause the USB to drop and reconnect, which would cause the tethering to switch off in the phone, the USB cable feeding the hub itself was too long anyway and I've found a shorter one in which I have fitted a clip on ferrite to to see if that helps.

The other issue was the COM port allocation for the FTM-400XDE's supplied data cable, this conflicted with a Bluetooth serial port so the number was changed over to one that was not in use, this did involve disconnecting and reconnecting the plug, and to identify the USB port in which the data cable is to always be plugged in it was outlined with blue permanent marker, the phone used one of the other ports, this allows fitting of a wireless keyboard later on

The USB hub is powered from an in-car power lead with variable voltage set at 5 volts, though the computer and hub will only dictate a maximum of 500mA current per port (the data cable won't get close to that but the phone will).

The Bluetooth GPS box, though currently not fitted to the windscreen as it was previously, worked fine stuck to the top of the dash with the blu-tack already on it and unusually got sufficient satellites from cold start which certainly impressed me.

There is still a little bit of testing to do, using the cable that I put a ferrite bead onto, and then there will be the fitting of the mount in the car which has yet to be done though if the weather is not bad I can look into it on Sunday, but to be honest I'm not holding my breath, it is the UK and winter after all.

I hope to have this working ahead of the Blackpool rally in April.

73 de M0WNU