Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Frequency corrected Ramblings

The DV4 Mini saga continues. I initially set the dongle up with a Raspberry Pi and had limited success in setting it up for reliable use. Experiments with beta software and my XYL's Windows 8 laptop proved marginally more successful so I bought a second hand Windows 7 netbook for use with the dongle. After upgrading the firmware and using the latest beta release it was working, but not 100%.
The issue I had was with the Master Server, the GB server was not shown in the list, so I initially connected via a German server as I was informed that all the servers were hosted in Germany anyway. In the meantime the DMR Plus network in the UK had changed its allegiance to the Brandmeister host as used on the Continent and renamed itself "Brandmeister UK". There was a small adjustment needed for the host table on the laptop and once that had been addressed I connected to the Brandmeister server and, hey presto,  it's now working perfectly. The latest software has a "meter" for setting the offset on the frequency used for access via the dongle. You simply key the mic for about 10 seconds and watch the indicator. This has green, yellow and red sections and the idea is to adjust the offset until you get mainly green and no red showing on the indicator when transmitting.
It is very easy to overload the dongle, it's very susceptible to excess RF, even one Watt can overload it. To combat this I have wrapped the dongle in copper tape and the laptop with the dongle is in an upstairs room - away from where I would usually operate from. To access the laptop I use Chrome  Remote Desktop on my Android phone and it works a treat. No excess RF and no need to be sat in front of the laptop - happy days.
I now have a Raspberry Pi doing nothing so it will be utilised on an AllStar node. It's not as straightforward to set up as an EchoLink node so there's a bit more reading to be done and I suspect a small amount of experimentation no doubt. Work is in progress on that project and I hope to be able to report on it soon.
I have rekindled my interest in Data modes and have been having a great time on 20, 40 and 12 metres. Some good QSO's having been logged. Now I've mastered the software and macro settings it has been much more fun. I must do more with this mode as it's immensely satisfying.
Next week sees the South Kesteven A.R.S. fish and chip Xmas supper. Looking forward to munching on fish and potatoes with lashings of ginger beer in the Club meeting room!
I hope all readers have a jolly mighty fine Christmas.
73 de 2E0ENN ⛄✌

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

TYT MD-380 Review

Since using my DMR radios on a more regular basis I was intrigued to hear so many operators using the TYT MD-380 and so I decided I would buy one. I am glad I did, it really is a very good radio and, for the money, represents very good value.

The first thing I noticed when I took it out of the box was the sturdy construction, it really feels well made and substantial  in the hand. The battery fixes to the radio firmly and feels very good in the hand, despite the shape. The radio comes with a pair of SMA male antennas - a longer one and a stubby one for use when carrying on a belt clip. Both antennas work well and there is no heating up of the handset on reasonably long overs. The display is clear and well back lit, giving clear indication of the channel or talkgroup, as well as power settings etcetera in use.

Receive audio is nothing short of amazing. Crisp and clear audio, with just a slight hint of bass in the tone makes for an enjoyable listening experience. Transmit audio is reported as being very good, in comparison with my Hytera PD365, reports are that it has a slight treble effect.

Used in conjunction with my DV4 Mini dongle, the error correction is superb - by far the best of my three handhelds for performance with the dongle.

A slight disappointment is the length of time it takes to charge - the charge time is approximately six hours, so a second battery might be needed for continous use. The back light has either a time out setting or continously,  the problem is that when the back light times out the display is blank and will only come back in again once a button is pressed - this might cause issues if the display is required whilst monitoring.

The speaker/mic connection is the standard Kenwood type (as on Baofeng models) and accessories are easily connected. The buttons on the radio are particularly responsive, especially the PTT, which has a soft feel as opposed to a click switch.

My conclusions are that it is a very competitively priced radio, and represents good value for money and is also a good introduction to DMR. Build quality is very good and prolonged use is comfortable due to the ergonomic design. It has limitations with regard to charge time but I am finding it hard to say anything negative about it. Suffice to say, I'm quite impressed and would have no reservations in recommending this radio to anybody.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

DV4 Mini Review

A week after receiving my DV4 Mini dongle I thought it would be helpful to give a review and my experiences with it.

Firstly, a note of caution if it is intended to use the dongle with a PC running Windows XP - Helitron don't recommend using XP, even though they supply software, and I can confirm that on two of my XP equipped laptops the software isn't suitable. It works fine on Vista and above but I have found the most reliable platform is via a Raspberry Pi.

The control software is good and easy to follow, and is relatively straightforward to use. It gives options for power levels and which server to connect to as well as giving a display as to which reflector you are connected to and the traffic through.

On the Pi (and Windows Vista on) the dongle needs no drivers as it is automatically recognised  (with XP a driver has to be downloaded - although I haven't been able to run the software on XP).

As a result of monitoring and using the DV4 Mini, I have observed that users accessing via Dstar have good connection and superb audio, and Fusion users have reported that it works very well on that system. DMR is a different matter though. The connection suffers from drop outs and missing syncs, which makes the use of the dongle very challenging. I have used various methods to try to address these problems; low power on the handheld, wrapping the dongle in foil and using an external antenna and siting it well away from the dongle to minimise excess RF getting to the dongle, but it would seem that these measures haven't improved matters much; which leads me to believe that the software needs some attention. Fusion and Dstar users report that it works fine. I have investigated my Internet connection and although connecting via wi-fi is ok, a direct connection through an ethernet cable is marginally more reliable.

So, my conclusion is :-

Very good idea and it works reasonably well. Software glitches need to be sorted for DMR use and once these are addressed the whole experience will be improved. It's early days for the DV4 Mini and I'm sure that the Amateur Radio Community and the software developers will work towards a solution - let's hope that it comes soon.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

DV and Scouting Ramblings

It's been a busy couple of weeks radio wise lately. Last week we at SKARS visited the 1st Barrowby Scouts to enable the Cubs to gain their communications badges. After a short talk about radio we set about getting them to pass greetings messages. We couldn't raise anybody on 2m so I went into the car park and carried out QSO's from my car. A great time was had by all and, more importantly, a good rapport was established with the Group.

Last weekend saw SKARS again involved with the Scouts, this time it was with the 1st Foston Scouts for Jamboree on the Air. Saturday and Sunday were occupied with the event and Andrew, Stewart and myself ran both HF and VHF stations from the Scout Hut. This is my favourite of all the events we cover - the enthusiasm and willingness to participate from all of the kids is infectious and goes to prove that radio really does affect us all.

My DV4 MINI dongle arrived last week and it is now running on a Raspberry Pi in the shack. It's a little disappointing as the performance on DMR is poor when compared to Dstar and Fusion. Drop outs and missing syncs are the major issues - perhaps a software update might improve things but we will have to wait and see.

Last Wednesday I gave a talk and demonstration on DMR to the Club and guests. It all went surprisingly well and as a result we gained four new members. I have ordered another DMR handheld (bringing the total to three) and the next major radio purchase will be a DMR mobile set to put in the shack. I can access the GB7RR DMR repeater so I will reinstate my X50 collinear on a 6 metre pole in the garden to be dedicated to this task.

As Christmas looms ahead we at the Club have decided not to have a Christmas Bash as such, we will be having fish and chips and fizzy pop at our December meeting instead. I'm very much looking forward to that, there's a particularly good Chippy close to the Church Hall and it will be good to get everyone together for a fish supper.

73 for now de 2E0ENN

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Happy Ramblings

It looks like, at long last, my issues with TVI with the neighbours has been cured. After consulting the RSGB EMC helpline I got an almost instantaneous reply and after explaining the situation I was advised to replace the Y adaptor on their TV with a UHF distribution amp. They recommended a particular unit and I duly ordered one. The Y adaptor was taking the input from the aerial and effectively splitting the signal in half - sending half to their lounge TV and half to the one in their kitchen. With only half the signal getting to either TV my RF signals were over riding anything going to the telly. The dedicated UHF TV distribution box ensures that the full signal is distributed to both tellies, which also ensures that their received signal is far stronger than any of my RF emissions. Upon disconnecting the Y adaptor, it disintegrated in my hands (see photo) and it became instantly obvious as to where the TV was picking up the RFI. So, the box was fitted, keeping the high pass filter in the line, and my XYL stayed with the neighbours whilst I went back home to conduct some test transmissions. No interference was noted so I think we can say "mission accomplished". The remaining issue is with their pesky touch lamps - I think an axe and a tin of lighter fluid might be the best solution there (only kidding).

This morning I had a drive over to the home QTH of David (2E0RVV) to program his DMR radio. Having searched online for a suitable codeplug, and not coming up with anything, I took my own handheld with a view to cloning the Codeplug on that to his new radio (just as long as the programming software was compatible). The radio had a rudimentary codeplug installed and I was able to modify the contents of that one to suit his needs. The dreaded Prolific driver issue reared it's ugly head but was soon overcome by switching to another computer running Windows XP. My advice is to have a cheap laptop handy with XP on it - you never know when it will come in handy. Duly programmed, I conducted a few test calls from my handheld and all was working as it should. Before I left, David had a QSO with another DMR user, so, again "mission accomplished".

I had another opportunity to help an EchoLink user get to grips with his system and now he can ragchew to his hearts content as well.

After all the help I have received from the Amateur community, it has been an exceptionally rewarding weekend where I have helped a fellow Ham in his quest for radio enjoyment and given just a little back to a community of helpful and friendly people.

73 for now de 2E0ENN

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Rambling Ramblings

I have a new toy. After months of searching for a suitable radio for portable use, I now have a Yaesu FT897, complete with an LDG AT897 ATU. Why I never got one of these in the first place is a mystery to me. With full coverage of HF,6m,VHF and UHF it's a much cheaper option to buying separate rigs. I know that mono band or dedicated radios work better than a shack in a box but for sheer portability and convenience, I think you have to go a long way to better them.

I haven't transmitted as yet (due to the TVI issues) but I will be testing the radio soon. I have re located my HF antenna, performance on receive is vastly improved so hopefully my problems with TV interference might just be a thing of the past. I have tried everything - low pass filter on the radio, high pass filter on their telly, ferrite on the radio power lead, reduced power and chokes wound into the feeder) - but still the problem has persisted to the point of the neighbours becoming thoroughly peed off with it (as am I) and my thoughts of giving up the hobby entirely. I'm in the position where I dare not pick up the microphone for fear of causing trouble. That's not a good place to be - I love the hobby and I really wouldn't want to be without it but I fear I may have to be an SWL if I can't sort it out. If anyone has any other suggestions, please contact me - contact details on call sign 2E0ENN - as I'm at a loss to solve it completely.

73 for now, de 2E0ENN

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Alternatively Located Ramblings

Followers of my blog will be aware of my continuing TVI problems at the home QTH. It would seem that, despite best efforts, the problem won't go away. So I have taken the decision to operate HF at an alternative location. VHF and UHF are no problem at home so I will concentrate home operations on those bands and EchoLink and DMR. I have a lock up garage a short distance away and I intend to set up my HF station there. It only takes 10 mins to get there so it should pose no problem. I have a weedy generator but it should still be able to power a PSU but I might have to work QRP so it doesn't get overloaded. This should prove interesting as the challenge will be to make QSO's with a limited antenna.

I have been having a clear out of shack ephemera and it's looking rather spartan at the moment. I'm looking at buying a mobile DMR radio to permanently install in the shack and permanently coupling that to the X50 collinear, which I replaced earlier in the year.

In typical Ham fashion in adapting to overcome the obstacles before me.

73 for now

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ramble on

TVI problems continue to blight my enjoyment of HF. Despite lowering the antenna, winding chokes into the feeder, fitting an additional low pass filter to the feeder immediately out of the radio and a high pass filter to their telly and reducing output to 25W. The final option left is to fit a clip-on toroid to the feeder and see if that works.

It is all the more annoying this evening as there is a Falkland Islands station breaking the QRM on 20m at the moment and conditions on 20m are otherwise good.

I think I just have to accept that HF operation will have to be limited to monitoring for the foreseeable future. I have neither the time or the funds to further sort this problem out so HF will have to be sidelined for a while. Perhaps I could exchange my TS570 for an FT857 and work mobile.

My EchoLink node is now fully operational and I am able to use DMR from home via the GB7RR repeater and, thanks to a decent U/VHF antenna, I can operate simplex reasonably well so I have options for operating by other means.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I have a particular interest in DMR and Internet Linking in general and as such I hope to persue these avenues in greater detail.

I'm looking for either a Connect Systems CS800 mobile set or an equivalent Hytera mobile in order to have a permanent radio in the shack for DMR. As the repeater is connected to the DMR Plus network, a Motorola radio would only be of use when mobile and in the coverage area of a DMR-MARC repeater, so they're of little use to me at the moment.

In the meantime, I shall continue with U/VHF, DMR and EchoLink with aplomb until I figure out how best to approach HF operation.

So, from a disappointed 2E0ENN, 73 for now

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Internet linked Ramblings

Further to being granted a NoV for an analogue Simplex gateway, I now have an EchoLink node established in Sysop mode.

The set up is remarkably simple - a Baofeng UV-5R handheld (set to 1W output) connected to the laptop running the EchoLink software. Connecting the two is a ZLP Mini Pro interface with a home made interface cable. The UV-5R relays the traffic from the server via the gateway frequency and can be accessed with any radio in range.

The cable was the tricky part - I sourced  a six pin mini din to Kenwood style speaker mic cable. It didn't work (not surprising as it came from China) so I set about making my own cable. I had a Baofeng speaker mic doing nothing so I took a screwdriver to it and removed the cable. I took note of which colour wire went where and proceeded to perform surgery on a 6 pin mini din cable that was also doing nothing. I worked out the speaker +ve and -ve wires and the PTT and ground from where they were on the mic. Then I established which pins on the din plug went where and identified the four connections used. A bit of intricate soldering of wires followed and it was plugged in for a test. It worked, first time, so I was enthused and went to try my creation on the EchoLink system. Everything worked ok until I looked at the display on the UV-5R, which had disappeared and the battery eliminator was getting rather hot. I changed the eliminator for a freshly charged battery and normal service was resumed. I think the eliminator didn't like 13.8V from the psu and (also being Chinese) protested. So I now keep one battery fully charged and swap them when required. On average a fully charged standard Baofeng battery lasts about 5 to 6 hours so there's no problem with that as it only takes about 2 hours to recharge. I think a bit of ingenuity should see a 7.4V transformer being built and fitted in place of the battery - perhaps a project for our Radio Club.

I'm waiting for the DV4 Mini stick to be available here so I can do a similar thing with a DMR Plus hotspot at home. I'm really into the Digital and Internet Linking thing and have learned a lot while setting things up. It won't ever replace the fun of DX contacts on HF but for those who can't put an antenna up (living in sheltered or Housing Association accommodation, for example) it provides a means of persuing  the hobby.

Looking forward to the coming weekend's SES at St. Anne's Church in Grantham for CHOTA. GB2SAG will be operating on the 12th of September on both HF and VHF. Operated by members of South Kesteven A.R.S. Stewart (M0SDM) has organised the event and his spectacular Land Rover mounted 12 metre mast will be a sight to behold outside the church with an X50 collinear on top and an OCFD. Check out or

73 for now de 2E0ENN

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Irritated Ramblings

Just when you think you've got your set up about right a blooming great spanner gets well and truly thrown into the works. Last weekend I braved the weather and put up a 7 metre fibreglass pole to complement the other 6 metre aluminium one that I have in the garden. So, I moved the balun of my end fed dipole to the top of the 6 metre pole and erected the other pole further down the garden to accept the end of the radiating leg at a height of 6 metres also. The extra height and proper horizontal polarisation made a huge improvement and to confirm that I had a contact into St.Petersburg on 20m at 59+20db on the Sunday evening. Brilliant, I thought until I got the message from the neighbour with the touch lamps saying that their TV was "jumping" and it was "making the dogs uneasy".

I replied saying that I wouldn't transmit any more and took the antenna height back down to 6 feet and wound back the power to a paltry 5W. No more hassle from the neighbours but reduced performance on HF. I have ordered a low pass filter to augment the one fitted in the TS570 and a high pass filter that I will put in the aerial feed for their telly. The problem is with the poorly set up TV antenna : crudely attached to the wall of the house, with a booster and cheapo coaxial cable. The problem is, how do I convince them that it's their set up that's causing the problem? As usual it's down to the Amateur to bear the cost and aggravation of sorting it all out. I have to live next to these people so I have no choice but to either buy them a decent TV set up or just go QRT on HF. Hopefully the filters will eliminate the problem.

Recently, Ofcom declared that all NoV's would be only available to Full Licence holders and that any NoV's issued to Intermediates would not be renewed. There is an exception and that is for Simplex Gateways. Intermediate Licence holders will still be permitted to apply for an NoV and be allowed to run such gateways. With this in mind I have an NoV request in for a 70cm Simplex Gateway to run an EchoLink node. This will comprise of a Baofeng handheld, connected to a ZLP Minipro interface and in turn connected to a laptop running the EchoLink software. I will use another DTMF equipped radio to access the node. When available I will be buying a DV4 MINI  dongle for DMR and will run the same system but for connection to the DMR PLUS network (subject to NoV clearance). The dongles are available on the Continent but not here yet but it works in the same way Dstar dongles work and may also be compatible with Dstar and System Fusion.

Details of the EchoLink set up will be posted in a later blog.

73 (for now) de 2E0ENN

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Rambling Updates

Further to the problem I had in upgrading the software on my CS700 DMR Radio, I can report that all is well. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you how it happened or what I actually did, but it's now upgraded and re programmed and working very well through the GB7RR repeater at Nottingham (that I can now access with the new aerial).

I'm super enthusiastic about DMR - so much so that I've bought another radio. It's a Hytera PD365 and is a very nice handheld. With three watts output on high setting, it works very well. On a trip to Lincoln with it I was able to work through GB7LN and audio reports were very favourable. Both of my DMR handhelds work in analogue mode and the Hytera (even with only 3 watts) can comfortably work GB3GR from my garden. It's worth noting that both the CS700 and the PD365 are UHF radios, VHF not really having taken off with DMR.

I've been doing minor surgery on my Kenwood TM-G707 this weekend. I noted that after a few lengthy overs the radio casing became very hot. I couldn't see the fan moving on the rear of the radio, so as a temporary measure I put a small battery powered fan behind it to aid cooling, which worked. I have a replacement fan on order, but in the meantime I have fitted a slightly smaller fan in place and it's keeping the radio much cooler. Hopefully it will be ok until the proper one arrives.

HF activity has been very limited for me recently,  due to poor band conditions. Hopefully I'll be able to power up the TS570 soon. I have a 1:1 balun to replace the open feeder on my home brew 40m dipole. I will have that replaced this week and I'm experimenting with mounting positions so a bit more to tell you next time.

Club business is a little slow, we are recruiting for members and anyone who would like to participate in our group, please check out our website

73 (for now) de 2E0ENN

Monday, 10 August 2015

Rambling Antennas etcetera

Bit the bullet today and bought an X510 collinear for V/UHF. My trusted friend and fellow Amateur, Stewart (M0SDM), came along and helped me out in erecting "The Beast". I have always had issues with getting a signal out in a westerly or northerly direction with the X50 that was in place before. Grantham (10 miles or so as the crow flies) was particularly difficult, as was Newark (15 or so miles).

The X50 was on a 6ft pole, on T&K brackets and the base of the aerial was about 4ft above the guttering on the side of the house. My first plan was to put a 6 metre pole on the brackets and sit the X50 on top. The X50 is 1.5 metres long, added to the 6 metre pole it would have given an overall height to the top of the aerial of about 11 metres from the ground. The X510 is 5.2 metres long (hence calling it "The Beast") and to the tip of the aerial I have about 12 metres from the ground when mounted on the 6ft pole.

The gain is awesome, 9db VHF and 12db UHF, so it was easy to see which option would be best. I did contemplate the 6 metre pole with the 510 on top but decided against it on the grounds of practicality. I'm hitting repeaters only previously dreamed about and reports are favourable. I just need to make sure "Her Indoors" doesn't look skyward at any point 😉

Coupled to my recently purchased Kenwood TM-G707 the pair make a fantastic combination.

The bands on HF, particularly 40m, haven't been favourable recently, hence the resurgence of my interest in V/UHF. As far as radios are concerned, I only have two bands left to cater for (4 and 6m). I'm not really too bothered about 4m but I would like some capability for 6m so a transverter for the Kenwood TS-570D might well be my next purchase.

I have encountered a problem with upgrading the firmware on my Connect Systems CS700 DMR radio. I looked online yesterday for an updated codeplug and found one and downloaded it to my laptop. I connected the radio with the programming cable to the Connect Systems programming software and attempted to upload the file to the radio. It wouldn't go, try as I might. The dialogue box kept telling me that I had an incorrect model, so I downloaded the firmware updating software and the updated firmware file. When I tried to upload the firmware file nothing was happening. I need to contact Connect Systems in the States to find out what went wrong. The radio is also an analogue 70cm set so I can use it on UHF repeater and simplex channels.

With my shiny new antenna and a radio that performs well, I'm beginning to feel like a "proper" Amateur again.

73 de 2E0ENN

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Rambling Radio Review

Here is a brief review of the QYT KT-8900.

The first thing you notice is its diminutive size - don't let that fool you, it's a fully featured dual band rig with CTCSS, DTMF and a range of useful options.

With 25W on VHF and 20W UHF, it's not short on power either. The user interface is almost identical to the Baofeng Handhelds and manual programming is, let's say, challenging. Top tip - get a programming cable!

Receive sensitivity is good and transmit audio is a little quiet, but useable. Maybe a mic upgrade would improve things.

The switches are typically "Chinese" in that they are a little unresponsive but once used to the feel they do what they are supposed to do. Due to the small size, mounting in numerous locations is possible and mine is mounted on the dash top (as can be seen in the photo).

The S meter is nothing more than an RX indicator - the bars move across the display but almost every signal that breaks the squelch is S9+ so it's bit of an inaccurate measurement. Having said that, weak signals are easy to hear due to the speaker being on top of the unit. There is no provision for an external speaker,  the rear jack being for programming only.

In conclusion, not bad for around £70 and useful, even if it's bought as a stand by set - but a programming cable is essential.

73 de 2E0ENN

Blatant Club Promotion and other Ramblings.

As many will be aware, I am Secretary of the South Kesteven A.R.S and as such this post is an unashamedly blatant promotion of the club and what we do, in the hope that we can attract more members to come along and join in with our activities and meetings.

We meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings each month - the first meeting is at the Beehive, Castlegate, Grantham,  and is a generally informal meeting where we can chat about all manner of subjects (often non - radio related) and gives us an opportunity for a social gathering and a chance to have a beer and a good old natter.

The meeting on the 3rd Wednesday is at St . Anne's Church Hall, Harrowby Road, Grantham, and we have usually got some activity planned each evening. Our next meeting, for example, has a talk about Global Positioning Systems for navigation etc. by Arthur Moore, a well known local operator. We often have radio evenings where we use the club call, MX0SKR, and operate from the Church Hall using an OCFD in the grounds.

We are involved in many SES activations such as Jamboree on the Air with the Scouts, Churches and Chapels on the Air, Museums on the Air, to name but a few. We also attend local functions, the most recent being the World Egg Throwing Championship at Swaton, where we ran an SES and launched a High Altitude Balloon.

We are a friendly bunch and amongst our membership are some very knowledgeable fellows so if you are an experienced operator, or just starting out in the Hobby,  help and advice is always freely given.

Please take time to check out our website

Membership is reasonably priced and good value for money, in my opinion.

Contact us through the links on the website or you can contact me directly on

Hope to see you at future meetings.

73 de 2E0ENN
Secretary, SKARS

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ramblings in the QRM

Pretty quiet radio-wise lately. I've had some fun with data modes but the novelty is wearing off now. I think they are best used when there's no voice activity.

I recently made up a 40m dipole and had better results than with the end fed but the dreaded touch lamp problem reared it's ugly head again. The end fed doesn't cause any problems but my new dipole seems to set the neighbours lamps off (and one in our house). A re design of the dipole is in order - I guess a balun might be needed instead of the open dipole centre that I have used - something to experiment with. I haven't got into how to make and use filters for interference so I will have to read up on it and get cracking so I can use the dipole again.

I don't want to cause friction, as we have nice neighbours so I am continuing to use the end fed for HF at the moment.

I went along to the Horncastle Rally yesterday (26/07/15) and, as usual, I bought something unnecessarily.  Another Standard radio. This one is a C8900 2m FM set from the '80's and works well. I have it coupled up to my VHF linear amplifier into a 2m dipole that I use for local contacts. I have stated before my interest in these older radios and I am constantly stunned by the quality.

I've gone all Chinese again and bought a 20w dual band thing - but it was cheap. It's a small scale but fully featured rig and I intend to test it before installing it in the car in place of the dreadful Baojie radio that I bought. That one will be the basis of an experiment involving APRS, details will follow.

As Ofcom have withdrawn the right of Intermediate Licensees to operate I - gates,  I'm not sure where I stand with APRS, so this might be another idea that will be dead in the water until I get around to studying for the Full Licence - which I intend to embark upon later in the year.

73 for the moment de 2E0ENN

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Digital Ramblings

Just had my first foray into Digimodes. I thought it was about time that I made use of my ZLP Minipro data interface and after experimenting with SSTV I decided to give PSK31 a try.

Using Ham Radio Deluxe digital software,  I found it quite difficult to configure the radio and sound card and as such it was nigh on impossible to work with. After a few test transmissions with Stewart (M0SDM) it soon became clear that I wasn't making it work. I installed Digipan software and with a little trial and error I managed to find ideal settings and soon found myself operating PSK31 with some success. I'm hooked now, it's still a bit of a learning curve as I need to create a set of macros to speed up my replies but that will come, I'm sure.

I have had some minor problems with my QRP set up. The Platinum X1M was suffering from low receive audio levels. A delve into the innards uncovered the problem. There are two pcb's which are connected via a socket and plug, which had become dislodged. I separated the boards and gave the connections a good clean with switch cleaner then reassembled the radio. Problem sorted. I have a 40m mobile vertical aerial and that constitutes my mobile QRP arrangement. I intend to find some high ground and operate from the car during what remains of the summer. For portable use, I will build a mono band dipole and sling that in a tree, with power coming from a SLA battery or my old 3 amp PSU and the trusty little generator. I have looked into Photovoltaic panels for charging the battery but that seems a little bit like overkill for a radio with such a low operating requirement. I haven't quite made my mind up but for contests etc the generator is a no - no so a little more thought will be required.

I have acquired a VHF linear amplifier/preamplifier for use with the two Standard radios. With a 1W input I get 35W out and with 8W that goes up to 40W, which is a big jump from the 8W that the C8800 gives. The C5800 gives 16W on full power so the increase is useful. Speaking of the C5800, I will be looking at increasing the full power output to its original 25W and I will post another blog outlining the project. For some reason the output was decreased by a previous owner - quite why is a mystery to me so we will have to see if it works. The next project will be to add CTCSS capability as well - I have seen some boards that can be fitted with only three wires to connect.  A little time to study the schematic will be required and I will also report on that.

In September SKARS will be operating from St. Anne's Church in Grantham for Churches and Chapels on the Air weekend. GB2SAG will operate from the church. SKARS has a connection with the church as we use the Church Hall for our meetings, so there will be a mutual benefit to be had. October sees Jamboree on the Air weekend and we will also be operating from the Grantham area in association with the Scouting Organisation. We operated JOTA for the first time last year and it is hoped that we will operate from a proper tent next to the Scout Hut - last year we operated from within the Scout Hut and noise levels with lots of youngsters having fun affected operation. The tent idea is apt for the Scouts and we will all have a really fun time.

73 de 2E0ENN

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Eggbound Ramblings

GB2EGG took place on the 28th June and was a little disappointing due to weather conditions at the Swaton Vintage Day. We set up our operating base on the previous day - the mast and dipole going up smoothly and tested with Stewart's Yaesu FT 897 but the gazebo that I  had bought especially for the event was a different matter. Half way through putting it up a gust of wind launched it into the air, bending some of the structure into the bargain. Having straightened out the frame and successfully erecting the gazebo we put a strap over the gazebo to hold it in place overnight. I was first on site on the day and was relieved to find it intact and proceeded to install the generator, which started and ran fine. Andrew arrived next and he proceeded to the event ring to set up the launch of Eggsplorer1, the HAB. Nigel then arrived with the radios and the organisers supplied us with tables and the station was set up. Graham then arrived and he and Nigel commenced operating the SES.

We were all carrying handhelds and I then made my way to the ring to assist Andrew, Stewart already being with him. The balloon was filled with helium and as the launch time approached all was going well. I received a radio message from the radio operators,  advising me of a problem with the generator and, after the successful launch of the balloon, I went over to sort it out. It turned out to be a minor hitch and was soon sorted out.

The balloon soared into the air with the payload slung beneath and it became apparent that the image telemetry was not being sent, however the tracking system was working fine and the balloon attained a height of just over 31000m before the balloon burst (as it was supposed to) over the North Sea. Numerous Amateur Radio Operators tracked its progress and it was a great success. A while later a smaller balloon was sent up, again with tracking facilities, which did not go as high but entered the jetstream and travelled at 120 kph heading towards Scandinavia, being brought down short of Denmark by the weather.

Meanwhile, back at the radio station, things weren't going as swimmingly. The generator was struggling ( mainly due to the amount of power being drawn by the PSU at 100 watts power) so it was supplemented by a leisure battery, which solved the power issue. The weather, though, was a different matter. It was very gusty and the poor old gazebo was taking a battering, so much that it gave up the ghost spectacularly and collapsed into a mangled heap of metal and PVC.  Nigel went into panic mode and hastily removed the radios and without discussion he took them away and left for home. As he was the NoV holder, this left us in the lurch. We couldn't continue with the event call and Stewart stepped in with his radio and the event sponsors allowed us to use their gazebo, which was vacant next to where ours had been. We continued operation using our club call (MX0SKR) for a while but band conditions didn't make for a lot of contacts.

There were a few lessons learned :

1.  Don't use cheapo gazebos, they just are not suitable

2.  Always have a back up radio, as some people just panic at the slightest setback.

3.  Make sure the NoV holder is committed enough to stay on site for the whole of the event.

To be honest I was a little embarrassed by the way things turned out and I won't be put in that situation again. There are a few of us in the club who are dedicated to these types of event and I think it will be those people who will be invited to participate in the future.

Churches on the Air next,  followed by JOTA in October. Plans are afoot for both events. Gazebo not required, so here's to a couple of good events.

73 for now

Monday, 15 June 2015

Garbled Ramblings

After setting up my HF station I am enthused with all that mode has to offer. I have made several foreign QSO's and had my share of initial ups and downs.

The X1M QRP rig has worked very well and with limited output I am impressed with the performance. Having acquired a Kenwood TS570D, the realm of HF operation has opened up exponentially. Being able to use the full 50W allowed by my licence has made a big difference and at the same time brought about one major issue. I am using an end fed wire with an un-un and it was mounted with the feed point  underneath the soffit at the home QTH. Whilst blissfully unaware of any issues I was operating a few nights ago and my neighbour came round to tell me that their touch lamps were going on and off with my transmissions. Gutted, I immediately ceased transmitting and became somewhat dejected. After consulting with my radio friends I formulated a plan to eradicate this EMC issue. One option I read about was to fit resistors in the lamps - out of the question. So, I moved the feedpoint 10 metres away from the house and ran the radiating element down the garden, also away from the house. I wound about 5 turns of coax into a choke at the feedpoint and then called on the neighbour to do a test transmission. Using 50W I carried out a few test transmissions on 40M and, hey presto, the problem was solved.

The lesson learned? End fed antennas that use the coax braid as a ground are susceptible to EMC issues unless precautions are taken. I intend to replace the aerial with an OCFD at some point and get it mounted a bit higher up. Performance was also increased by the addition of a counterpoise so now, for the moment, all is well and I have a functioning station.

Using Ham Radio Deluxe is a treat. Controlling the radio from the laptop is a cinch and logging via the program is also simple. I want to set to grips with data modes. I have downloaded FLdigi and a couple of other programs to try and to see which one suits me best. I already have a ZLP Minipro data interface and a suitable cable for the Kenwood so data and SSTV are within my grasp.

Better news for our local repeater, GB3GR, as the repeater keeper has installed better aerials and a cavity filter, along with a preamplifier. Access is greatly improved and with a link to the Allstar UK Hub, international communications are possible.

I am always astounded at the level of friendliness, helpfulness and understanding among the Amateur Radio community and especially those who have given me both advice and assistance - a heartfelt thanks to all of them.

Right, I'm going to sign for now, so

73 de 2E0ENN

Sunday, 7 June 2015

More HF Ramblings.

I'm beginning to think that HF radios are a bit like buses. You wait for ages for one then two come at the same time 😀

A friend of mine told me he wanted to sell his Kenwood TS570 and would I like it? At the time I just didn't have the asking price as car insurance had eaten into my radio fund. Fast forward to this weekend and I obtained two Clark push-up masts, complete with all guying equipment. These masts are superb (the military use them) and, although used, they were in good condition with no bits missing. I mentioned them to my friend and suggested a deal on his radio. He was somewhat unsure if he really wanted the masts but we struck a deal once he had a chance to inspect them. So, I now have a superb condition TS570. My plan is to keep the little QRP radio and buy an Ampro mono band vertical for mobile use, then go out and about.

The picture shows the Platinum X1M with MFJ902 ATU and SWR/PWR meter on the left. In the middle is the TS570 with the Standard C5800 atop. To the right, suspended beneath the shelf, is my trusty old friend the Icom IC-E208. The Magitenna works quite well but I'm looking into the idea of an OCFD, as my friend has suggested extending the long leg down the garden and the shorter leg to go over the roof of the house (just maybe the XYL will be OK with that) - thereby looking less obvious. We will have to see what comes of that idea, but I'm in no immediate hurry.

Spent a couple of hours at the Spalding and District Amateur Radio Society Rally in Spalding. Lovely weather and was good to put faces to names. A nice bacon roll and mug of tea went down well and the weather was brilliant, as I said. I now have burnt arms but it was worth it.

73 for now.....

Sunday, 31 May 2015

HF Ramblings

Well, I am at last operating HF. My first HF rig is a Xiegu X1M QRP set and it is coupled to a Magitenna end fed wire. It outputs 4.5W on SSB and CW, and covers the major bands. It will TX/RX on all from 3-30MHz but bandpass filters are only present for the amateur bands. I had my reservations about the rig as I have had issues with Chinese equipment before, but I am happy to say that, so far, it has not disappointed.  It emulates an Icom IC-718 for CAT control, using Ham Radio Deluxe,  and I find that controlling the rig via the laptop is a more effective way - the controls on the rig are a little convoluted.

The Magitenna is one of Nigel's (M0CVO) hand built antennas and is ideal for my situation as it is a single wire that receives it's ground input from the coax, meaning that there is only one wire coming from the matching unit and that is 7.6m (about 26ft) - great for small and confined spaces. Ok, it is something of a compromise aerial but it does have good performance considering its limitations. My first HF QSO was with DL65DARC, a Germany special event station, on 40m and I was given a report of 58, which is very good considering my limited setup. So, it would seem that, despite my reservations, the X1M is a very capable rig. The RX quality is very good and the audio from the inbuilt speaker is crisp and clear. The screen is a little small but has an inverted display and is clear to see. The controls are limited and a little convoluted but HRD control is seamless and a treat to use.

Following the sad demise of my Standard C5600,  the Icom IC-E208 is reinstated to the main V/UHF rig in the shack, which left a void as far as a mobile radio was concerned. As I don't use the car very much I looked for a dual band rig that would fit the bill without breaking the bank. I looked at used Yaesu and Icom rigs and was surprised as to how much they hold their value. So, the spectre of the dreaded Chinese radio reared it's head again. Having had an extremely bad experience with Leixen, I decided that maker was out of the question. So, what were the options? I looked at a few of the more mainstream manufacturers but even second hand they were a little too expensive.  There were a few Chinese ones around and I plumped for a Baojie BJ-UV55 dual band mobile. 35W on UHF and 45W on VHF it seemed ideal.  It arrived in the mail - or so I thought. I opened the box and inside was only the rig itself - no mic or mounting bracket and no power lead. Incensed, I railed off an email to the supplier, threatening all manner of legal recourse,  only to find that the missing items arrived under separate cover the next day. They had split the contents to avoid a weight penalty with the Hong Kong postal service. The UV55 is a strange beast, in that it has no built in speaker - the speaker being contained within the mic. Dashed inconvenient, so I have an extension speaker fitted in the car and that works mighty fine. The user interface is almost identical to Baofeng handhelds - clunky and awkward, not to mention complicated, and manual programming is the work of the devil. I am awaiting the cable, so I can program with Chirp.

Looking forward to Swaton, which is getting nearer. Andrew has made good progress with Eggsplorer1 and we have a game plan for the Special Event Station, GB2EGG. The next event will be JOTA in October, which we did for the first time last year, and proved to be a great experience. for more details.

73 for the moment

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Happier Ramblings

After my recent spat, I am now a bit more positive about things. I have been having a look at the shack and have made a few changes. I still do not have an HF set up but I'm determined not to buy anything until I have a good idea of what I want. I'm not so sure that I necessarily need to be home based for HF - a friend of mine is considering going QRT from home and working /p on HF instead. The idea appeals to me but the only reservation I have is that, if I have a little time to "play radio", I would have to gather the equipment up and leave the house to operate. I need to give that some thought - one idea I have is to have a Yaesu FT817 and use it from home with a wire and take advantage of its portability when out and about. Again, there is a slight reservation with the 817 as it doesn't have much power, I suppose I could use a linear from home. I'm still working on that idea - there's no hurry.

On the VHF and UHF side of things I have made an impulse purchase from eBay, this time it has turned out to be a good buy. I am now the proud owner of a third Standard radio - this one is a C8800, FM 2m radio from the early '80's. It came in it's original box, with all inserts intact and every accessory supplied when new. It has only one fault and that is an LED out on the last digit of the frequency display, but there's no issue with that as it can be read adequately. It has repeater shift but no CTCSS, so no good for repeater use, but I have the Icom IC-E208 for that. 10W or 1W output, and in superb condition. I do like the "old school" radios.

I have another Chinese radio for the car, a Baojie UV55 dual bander. It has issues with TX on high power - distorted modulation _ but it is OK on low power (15W) so it's fine for the car. I'm still not convinced that buying Chinese is a good idea but it was cheap and should be servicable as a mobile unit.

Preparations for GB2EGG are well in hand and we will have a run through of the HAB procedure at our next meeting. June 28th is the date and details can be found on the website

73 for now.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Disillusioned Ramblings

I'm not feeling upbeat about the Hobby at the moment.  After seeking guidance from Ofcom about setting up an EchoLink node for use with a radio, I was told that it was ok and no NoV was required. So, I set about establishing a node and then the lights came on in my head. Surely this is an Internet gateway, I need an NoV for that. According to Ofcom I don't but there's so much ambiguity surrounding what constitutes what I have decided to abandon the idea. There's little or no guidance that can be found - that's all very well until they come knocking at the door to remove equipment,  and it's just not worth the bother.

DMR is another cause for aggravation to me as well. Since purchasing my CS700 I have had one (brief) QSO and that ended abruptly when the signal from the repeater dropped out. I was out at the weekend with a roof antenna on the car and a clear link with the GB7RR repeater and called on the UK Wide talkgroup repeatedly, for over 90 minutes and not a sausage was heard. Same again today with the GB7LN repeater in Lincoln. I can't access that repeater from home due to geographical obstructions so I'm beginning to think I have wasted my money.

I moved my collinear to appease the XYL and that has decreased performance, and to top it all off the money put aside for HF equipment has all gone on car insurance.

Contemplating giving up on  the whole thing and saving my money for a set of golf clubs.

I'm sure most Hams go through periods of disaffection with the Hobby - I hope this is temporary,  and will soon abate.

73 from a Grumpy 2E0ENN

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Updated Ramblings

It's been an eventful weekend here at the home QTH. Saturday afternoon was spent moving my 2m/70cm collinear from the military mast to it's new permanent home on T&K brackets on the house wall. Stewart, M0SDM, gave invaluable assistance - and without whose help the enterprise would not have been such a success. Many thanks to him.Now the wind can blow as hard as it likes, as I no longer need to worry about the mast coming down and demolishing the neighbours garden sheds.

The collinear is about a foot lower than it was before and that gives only a marginal drop in performance - the pole is only 6ft so I may just replace that with a 10ft one in the relatively near future. The main advantage is that my XYL is now a happy lady as she has her patio back and the neighbours no longer have to gaze upon the splendour of my Clansman mast complete with guy ropes. I thought it looked reasonably OK but on reflection it did dominate the garden quite a lot - I'm happy with the results so all is well chez nous.

With some sadness I have to report that my Standard C5600 has a fault on the UHF side of things, it has an intermittent habit of losing TX on UHF and the received signal becomes distorted.The Icom IC-E208 has been removed from the car and reinstated as the main V/UHF FM set in the shack. I have ordered a new dual bander for the car and until it arrives I am using an 8W Baofeng UV-5RTP, with battery eliminator in the car. I have to report that it works really quite well in the car, so my faith in Chinese products is partially restored.

On Sunday Andrew, M0NRD and myself had a meeting with the organisers of the Swaton Vintage Day and we took the opportunity to undertake a site survey for the SES operating location and the Eggsplorer1 HAB launch.I can report that all is fine with the site and, CAA permitting, the HAB launch should go ahead. June 28th is launch date and our SES call GB2EGG will be operatin all day throughout the event.

May 20th sees a presentation on Raynet at the S.K.A.R.S. meeting - details of that and all other club matters can be found on the website

73 de 2E0ENN for now

Friday, 1 May 2015

Spurious rambling emissions

As I have a compulsive radio buying disorder I have purchased a couple of radios for "experimental" purposes. They are Motorola GP68 handhelds. One is UHF and the other is VHF. The GP68 is an Asian market radio and I'm rather impressed by them. Sturdy, robust and with fab audio, I have programmed in local repeaters and the quality is super. The only down side is that there is no 12.5kHz step so VHF tuning is a bit limited. The other slight disappointment is that the battery packs are ni-cd and I don't like them. There is a li-ion  battery listed but I have ordered two AA battery cases instead. Caveat emptor!  The standard Far Eastern drop in chargers are awful - I've already had one fail spectacularly so I'm using the charge jack on the radios with a decent PSU for battery replenishment.

The aim is to use them for Raynet events. I'm in the process of joining Raynet and I'm sure these will do nicely for local comms at events etc.

Speaking of Raynet, Jim Wheldon,  local area controller for Raynet, will be giving a talk on the organisation and it's uses at the SKARS meeting on May 20th,  see the website for details

73 for now

Sunday, 26 April 2015

SES Ramblings

Just spent an enjoyable day assisting in the operation of GB5ROC, a special event station operated by members of the South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society at the Cold War Bunker site at Buckminster, on the Lincolnshire/Leicestershire border. Stewart (M0SDM), Andrew (M0NRD) and myself (2E0ENN) operated on 40m all day and a total of 151 contacts were made during the day. The majority of the operating was done by Stewart,  who provided the Yaesu FT897 and the off centre fed dipole, used for the activation. A Racal push up mast was used to support the antenna and contacts were made into Switzerland, Holland and Belgium, as well as UK wide.

The Bunker has been the subject of a restoration and the first public open day of the year was held today - the public having access for visits. It was the site of a Royal Observer Corps monitoring post and Nuclear fall out and other conditions associated with a Nuclear strike would have been monitored from there, if the need ever arose. There was a network of over 1500 such bunkers UK wide, and most were de - commissioned by 1991, the ROC being disbanded by 1996 after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Thanks to all who called in to the station and just a reminder that our next SES is Sunday June 28th for the Swaton Vintage Day,  GB2EGG and Eggsplorer 1 being the highlights of the days activities.

More details on our club website

73 de 2E0ENN

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Digital and other ramblings

Well, after much deliberation I have got hold of a DMR radio. I weighed up the options between DMR, System Fusion and DSTAR and plumped for the DMR - MARC system. DSTAR is great, well established and quite popular but the equipment is fairly expensive and the Yaesu system isn't yet proven and I hear varying reports as to its functionality. The radio I have I'd the Connect Systems CS700 UHF handheld. It is both digital and analogue and has an output of 1 or 4W.

The requirements for using the DMR MARC system include registering for a user ID which is transmitted with your QSO, giving your radio a unique identifier which can be checked against the DMR MARC database. It a a bit like a digital

The radio needs to be programmed using a data set called a codeplug which contains all the details the radio needs to access the network. My radio came pre programmed but I have had to adjust some settings for analogue repeaters but once programmed correctly the radio is quite impressive.

Digitally the audio is superb with no loss of signal quality but there is no degradation of signal as with FM - when the signal deteriorates to a level that the radio cannot receive then the entire signal drops out. As the network of repeaters increases there is a "roaming" option which will re tune you to the next strongest repeater on your route. Each repeater setting is known as a "zone" and in each zone there are "talkgroups". Talk groups are like individual channels and are available locally, nationally and worldwide, dependent on which talkgroup you are on so it doesn't matter which repeater you use, the talkgroups remain the same.

I have fitted a CTCSS board into my old Standard C5600 radio and now FM AV repeaters are now available to me again. The Icom IC-E208 now being installed in the car to maximise my 50W operating limit.

SKARS meeting this week (15th April) includes a presentation from M0OBL on the build of his Elecraft rig. Details on

73 de 2E0ENN

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Even more Ramblings

The latest addition to my radio collection is another old Standard set. This one is a C56OO, a twin band VHF and UHF rig. This one dates from the'90's and has dual receive. There is no CTCSS, although there is provision for a board. There is a CTCSS board listed for it but it is so old that it is long since discontinued, I have, however,sourced a pattern part and will be fitting it once it arrives from China.

Speaking of Chinese products, all three of my Leixen radios are now faulty. The VV-898 dual bander appears to be dead. There seems to be power getting to the rig as the DTMF microphone lights up but the main unit is lifeless. TheVV-808U UHF set appears to be misaligned as audio is very distorted and the VV-808V VHF set does not output audio on the internal speaker, an extension speaker being necessary. Sending them back to china isn't an option as shipping costs there and back are more than the units are worth. The lesson learned is "don't buy cheap stuff, as it's a waste of money" A similar thing has happened with a smart watch and a tablet, so I now have a policy of buying decent quality kit, even if it has to be second-hand.

The South Kesteven A.R.S now has a new Chairman, Andrew Garrett(M0N RD) who replaces Nigel Booth (M0CV0) who, after four years at the helm has stepped down due to increasing work commitments. Andrew has a particular interest in HAB tracking and is a keen contester and his contribution to the club will be greatly appreciated.

The wind continues to batter the country and my mast is holding up well, due to the guy ropes being so taut that I can get a tune out of them. My collinear will be attached to the side of the house with "T&K" brackets and a twelve foot pole, freeing up the mast for its intended use.

April 26th sees SKARS Members helping out with a SES at the Cold War Bunker at Buckminster, near Grantham. This is a restored bunker and is part of the UP AN ATEM Group-check their website for further details, which can also be found on the SKARS website.

73 de 2E0ENN

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Ramblings update

Well, I did pass the Intermediate Exam and I now have my call sign (2E0ENN).

Plans afoot at the home QTH include raising my military fibreglass mast by a further six feet and replacing the ill - advisedly used RG58 with RG8 mini. After looking at the loss figures for a long run of RG58 I have opted for mini 8 as the loss for that is half that of 58. Of course, if I'd have looked beforehand and not been so miserly I would have done this from the beginning - lesson learned.

The recently acquired 2m beam will be added to the mast as well but, with no means to rotate it, it will be fixed in an easterly direction for now as that is the least obstructed direction for me. Who knows,  maybe a bit of Continental DX on 2m SSB might come my way during the 'E' season.

Speaking of antennas, I have built the 2E0ENN 2m portable horizontal dipole  for use /P for the UKAC 2M contest.  I'm rather pleased with my efforts and,  with a cost of about £6 plus a length of coax it should prove useful. SWR comes in at 1.1 : 1 in the centre of the band and 1.2 : 1 at the band edges - not too shabby.

I'm currently waiting for Stewart (M0SDM), who is coming over to help with extending my mast, and should be back on air this afternoon with (hopefully) much better performance.

As Club Secretary for the South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society I have been getting to grips with organising our first major event of the Summer, which is the Swaton Vintage Day on June 28th. This show also includes the International Egg Throwing Championship - and we will be running a Special Event Station (GB2EGG) and Andrew (M0NRD) will hopefully (weather and CAA clearance permitting) be launching "Eggsplorer1", a HAB which will take an egg to the edge of space and we will be demonstrating tracking the flight with SSDV. There will be a camera on board and the flights progress and images will be transmitted to the HAS website. Check out Eggsplorer1 on Twitter and Facebook, and the Eggsplorer1 website or on our club website

We are recruiting for members of the club, so if you have an interest in radio - of any kind - or would like to join in in our activities and our various talks and discussions check the website or email me at

That's all for this update - further developments will be forthcoming as we get confirmation. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Extra ramblings

My most recent acquisition in the radio department is a 2m SSB radio. I have bought an elderly Standard C5800 and it's rather nice for an old radio. The condition is very good and with a couple of test transmissions using my collinear, it seems to be working well. I listened in on the VHF/UHF contest over the weekend but I wasn't able to hear too much due to using a vertically polarised antenna. I was tempted to call but I thought my antenna situation would be too much of a handicap. To remedy this I have acquired a 2m Yagi from Nigel, M0CVO,  and it will sit atop my mast in the next couple of weeks (in time for the next 2m UKAC contest).

Tomorrow night (March 10th) I will be sitting my Intermediate Exam in Grantham. I won't be alone as Konrad will also be sitting his exam. To be brutally honest, I feel a bit ill prepared - everybody says it'll be fine, but they've already got their certificate. I have to keep reminding myself that it's only a hobby, but it hasn't stopped me being slightly fretful. So the next blog might just have good news within.

The South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society has its first confirmed event lined up - at the Swaton Village Show. This is an annual event and incorporates the International Egg Throwing Championship. We will be running a SES and our HAB expert,  Andrew, will launch an egg into the ether, using a balloon - look out for Eggsplorer 1, website details will be available soon. The event is 28th June and Swaton is located near to Sleaford in Lincolnshire.

Check out the Club website

That's all for now, 73's until the next time

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Continuation of ramblings

Two items of radio related equipment have been delivered today.

The first is a Zurich PSU,  a hefty piece of kit with 30 amp continuous rating. It has a 30 amp banana type connection, a 10 amp cigar lighter socket and two 6 amp clip type connections. It weighs the equivalent of a supertanker but will be more than capable. Not too shabby for the purchase price of £45 from eBay.

The second is a new generation Baofeng handheld. It's called the FF-12P and is also sold under the UV-5X name. It's the same as a UV-5R internally with the GT-3 inverted display. It puts out 5 watts on VHF and 4 watts on UHF with a low power setting of 1 watt on each band. In comparison with the UV-5R, receive audio is better and the feel "in the hand" is much more comfortable. Performance is on a par with all the other Baofeng radios and I have opted for the silver finish - which looks quite distinctive. For £30 delivered, it represents good value and as a stand by set is ideal and won't break the bank.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

(Yet) more ramblings

All quiet on the Western Front this month. Went away last week to North Yorkshire and got high up in the hills with my handheld. I could access two repeaters - one 16 miles and the other 28 miles from where we were based. Apart from the repeaters identing,  there was nothing to be heard - at all. Even U/VHF simplex was as quiet as the grave.

Getting more interested in 4m. I have a handheld and a magmount for the car and, even though the band is sparsely populated, I've heard a few stations here and there. I'm holding off getting a base rig and antenna - no point if there's no one to talk to.

I have my Intermediate exam next month - looking forward to being able to use a bit more power (always assuming that I pass). Once I have jumped that hurdle the search for an HF rig will begin in earnest. Torn between a full blown shack in a box or something more QRP orientated. I did settle on the Yaesu FT450 but now I'm thinking FT817 with an amp for home use - at least that would give some flexibility for /P work without having to buy two rigs. The jury is still out on that one - perhaps I will make a decision and stick to it soon.

The South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society will be holding discussion evenings relating to test equipment as well as other topics, we meet fortnightly at the Beehive, Castlegate, Grantham - check out the website for more details. It is my privilege to be Club Secretary and we'd be delighted to meet any person with any interest in radio (not restricted solely to Amateur Radio) our next meeting is Wednesday 18th February at 20:00 and fortnightly thereafter

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Random Ramblings

Had a slightly more productive weekend this week. Thanks to a friendly Radio Amateur I now have a hole in my wall, allowing me to have the antenna permanently connected without having to run the coax through the cat flap in the kitchen door. This is much more convenient and, as usual, I never cease to be amazed by just how helpful folk in the radio community are. In order to access the wall I had to remove a kitchen unit and in doing so I found a double power socket on the wall behind it, which is now in gainful employment powering the PSU.

This being Sunday I switched on to hear the RSGB news bulletin, which is usually transmitted on Sundays at 10:30 on the Lincoln VHF repeater GB3LM. Sadly no newsreader was to be heard. I do hope that the GB2RS bulletins don't disappear completely.

Our radio club (South Kesteven A.R.S.) will be holding some interesting evenings where we will discuss the use of different types of test and analytical equipment. It is hoped that we will cover one specific piece of kit at a time in order to get the hang of using items in our shacks that many of us either don't use or are not aware of their function. All welcome at our meetings - search for the club online and come and join us.

As for any other radio news, well, there isn't much to report from me - except to say a word or two about repeaters and their abuse.

I monitor VHF and UHF repeaters and I'm mightily disappointed with the behaviour of some people who insist on constantly opening the repeater without a) declaring their call sign or b) declaring what they're doing. If they're checking their settings why not say so? Or if they're checking access,  again, why not say so? One repeater keeper always makes comment (sometimes in a condescending manner) but it makes no difference - in fact it makes them do it all the more. The best way to do away with these clowns is to ignore them, they become bored and go away to bug someone else. The same repeater keeper does, however reply to most calls made on the facility, and is a very knowledgeable fellow.

That's it for now, brunch beckons.....

73 to all

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Random ramblings and notations

My most recent radio purchase has been a Wouxun KG-UV8D. I have to say that the quality is better than a lot of fellow Chinese imports .... but ......

For the price it's a little light on features, sure it has dual VFO's and cross band repeat and a nice display but it falls short on many levels. Receive audio is horrible, outgoing audio is reported as quiet and battery life is pitiful. I paid just shy of £100 for mine, only to find that it doesn't have the 2.5kHz step that would be useful for satellite work, and has a chassis and case so prone to scratching that it looks old (despite only having it for three weeks). In short, I'm not impressed - a Baofeng UV-5R would be far better value at a quarter of the price. Add the fact that you can buy an Alinco DJ-V500 for £65 and the prospect looks unattractive.

In other news, I have recently had cause to buy a replacement battery charge cradle for my Alinco DJ-V57 handheld (after being somewhat ham fisted with the original - my own fault for having a short temper 😈). I found one online at Nevada Radio and promptly ordered it. It was delivered today, I say delivered, what I mean is that the Courier still has it as Nevada (in their infinite wisdom) shipped it with a "do not leave with neighbour" marker. Don't these people realise that if one had the cash to spend on their products the chances are that they work for a living and just might not be at home to accept the delivery!!! Makes my blood boil!!

The HF radio fund is amassing nicely, have looked at the Yaesu FT450 D - I  think I have settled on this one for my shack.

More ramblings and rantings soon


Saturday, 3 January 2015

New Year Ramblings

After the New Year celebrations it's good to be back to relative normality. As you can see from the pictures the temporary "shack" (corner of kitchen) is fully equipped for V/UHF operations. The re- sited mast is holding firm.

The AOR AR-3000 communications receiver is working well - not bad for an item given to me - and has a Moonraker Whizz Whip attached. This antenna is supposed to be for portable operations and has its own "tuner" - the reality is that it does work but nowhere near as well as Moonraker would have you believe. I use it with the AR-3000 and it works quite well.

Things are pretty quiet radio - wise at the moment as I'm putting money aside to get that long awaited HF rig.

Christmas has brought a load of PMR446 radios to the local kids and channel 1 is buzzing with pre - pubescent squeals - it may just spark an interest in radio in them.

Short and sweet this time, so more to come as and when something happens.