Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Clarified Ramblings

Having set up and used VoIP systems for a little while I thought I would provide a layman's guide to what it is, how it works, what's needed to operate it and general information.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a means of communication whereby the service provider hosts a server that can be accessed via the Internet by its users. Voice (and data) traffic is sent to and from the server and users communicate in this way. To access the server, users are given log in credentials and these are used when signing in to the service.

There are many ways of placing your traffic onto the server: directly by PC using the sound card/mic and speakers, by connecting a radio via an interface to the computer being used to access the server and by mobile phone device access using dedicated software.
The software used transfers the traffic using a coding system that the servers can decode into voice.

EchoLink, for example, takes your voice traffic either directly from the PC (User mode) or from the node radio, via a connecting interface, to your PC (Sysop mode). You simply "dial in" the node number of the person you wish to speak to and, once connected, you conduct the conversation.

It really is basically that simple. There are more technicalities in how the systems actually work but for a layman's guide this should suffice.

Different systems (EchoLink, IRLP, All star etc.) can be linked with bridging software, however this is quite complex and best left to the experts.


BroadNet is a commercial VoIP service and is used mainly for professional communications via the Internet. BroadNet do offer a service for exclusive use by Radio Amateurs. Their UK NET gives access to registered users and there is a bridge into the AllStar UK Hub. They supply a mobile phone adapted for use with the service, which looks like a radio but is in fact an Android mobile phone with a PTT switch and external antenna. Access is via mobile phone data and it is supplied SIM free and can also be used for calls and texts, as it uses the mobile network.

If anybody needs any help or more information on setting up for VoIP, drop me an email 2e0enn@mail.com and I'll walk you through it

73 de 2E0ENN

Friday, 1 July 2016

Digital Ramblings

I have recently taken delivery of a Yaesu FT1XDE C4FM/ Analogue handheld for use with the DV4 Mini. Here is a brief review :-

The first impression upon un-boxing is the sturdy feel to the unit. It is well built and, whilst not being heavyweight, it does feel rather substantial in the hand without being uncomfortable in use. The XDE comes with a higher capacity battery than the previous model and the GPS function is improved. Having said that, the GPS and APRS is a little tricky to understand and set up - I need to do a bit of reading before I embark upon that side of things.

Sound quality from the speaker is good, it's not the loudest of outputs but it is enough. The keypad buttons are a tad on the small side and for my large fingers I find it slows me down a little when inputting but it certainly is no great detriment to the radio - just needs getting used to.

Analogue performance is what you would expect from Yaesu - DTMF, CTCSS and auto repeater shift are all present and work as they should.

Now the really good bit - C4FM Fusion. One word - WOW! - the audio quality is superb, vastly superior to DMR. Crystal clarity and a balanced audio experience. Users sound as clear as if we were speaking face to face. Another bonus is that it works flawlessly with the DV4 Mini - no drop outs due to incorrect frequency matching and, because Fusion uses a different system for digitising the speech, there is no need for error correction. The DV4 and the FT1XDE are a perfect combination.

Throw an extremely wideband receiver into the mix and you have a great all-in-one monitoring solution. The receiver covers 0.5 to 999 MHz in AM, NFM, and WFM but sadly no SSB. The internal antenna is only really any use with strong broadcast stations but, with an external antenna, things improve.

The GPS receiver uses a whopping 66 channels and ensures a truly accurate fix. Time to first fix was under a minute and subsequent fixes are done in seconds. The position data is displayed on the LCD display and it is shown in a simplified, clear way.

Programming is a little convoluted if doing manually, but the instructions are concise and once mastered it becomes very intuitive. Yaesu supply a programming lead with the radio and programming software is available to download from the Yaesu website. There have been various reports on the functionality of the Yaesu software but I programmed in quite a few simplex/duplex channels with relative ease using it. Chirp also supports programming but is not as good (in my humble opinion). There is provision for a Micro SD card for storage of radio data and also snapshot images, which come when using the snapshot camera mic (not supplied but is an extra cost option). The SD function is not like the dStar, where programming information can be loaded directly to the radio - the SD card is used merely as storage and for back up  (reading the card information into the programming software).

The radio functions are mainly menu driven but they do follow a logical path, so getting to grips with the menus is no real hassle.

Would I recommend it? - Heartily

Is C4FM worth the investment? - Certainly

Do Icom need to worry about dStar? - I think so, the monopoly on DV radio has been broken so we will have to see how Fusion stacks up.

I'm off to play radio for a while,

73 de 2E0ENN