Click here for the Ban PLT website.

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)