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