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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