Wednesday, 27 December 2017
I now have access, via Hotspots, to both Phoenix and Brandmeister reflectors. I have two Hytera MD785 mobile radios, one VHF and the other UHF. The UHF radio is used for Phoenix, with a DV4 Mini and the VHF radio is used with a dual band DVMega RPi, using Pi-Star software. I still use the venerable TYT MD380’s, both VHF and UHF, for the same purpose. I also use a Radioddity GD77 dual band handheld for both. For portable/mobile use I have the DVMega/Bluestack, running BlueDV for Android, with the very useful Hytera PD365 radio.
I have added a second DSTAR handheld to the inventory. It’s a IC-91 with the DSTAR module fitted. I bought it on an online auction site for a very reasonable price. Battery life is good but would be improved with a new battery. The audio quality from this radio is superb and I just love the quality of build and ease of use. This supplements the ID-51 and both are used with a single band DVMega RPi with Pi-Star software.
My Wires-X gateway, MB6IAG, has now been decommissioned due to lack of use and the NoV has lapsed. The equipment is now employed as a personal node, with both the FTM-100 node radio and the FTM-3200 working through dummy loads. The FT1 XD is still in use as back up and when out and about. Two of our local repeaters are Fusion enabled so the handheld comes in useful when out.
Not much change with the AllStar set up - RF needs being met with the Icom IC-E208 node radio, M0AQC interface and Raspberry Pi.
There are four more RPi nodes, connected with IAX to my TeamSpeak server. These continue to provide excellent service and reliability.
Winter has somewhat curtailed any forays into portable HF operations but it is hoped that I may just wrap up warm and brave the elements with the FT-817 and selection of home brew and mobile antennas.
The mobile set up has altered slightly with the FTM-100 being replaced with a Yaesu FT-7100 dual band radio, the Super Gainer antenna still being used with good results.
73 for the moment and Happy New Year
Monday, 13 February 2017
The Shack is now reinstated following the recent building work here in Cranwell. MB6IAG is back on form on Wires-X and I have had a jolly time reinstating my personal AllStar node. I've been busy configuring and reconfiguring systems and now I have the definitive internet linked set up.
The Wires-X node has benefitted from a new PC, with a faster processor and more RAM. The results are outstanding and I'm now reasonably happy with the set up. I do need to set up an Ethernet connection in the shack, I'm thinking of a long ethernet cable from the router to the shack with a two or three port ethernet socket on the shack end. More on that in the next update.
After trials and tribulations with AllStar I have now settled on the definitive set up for my personal node. Previously I ran the node on a netbook which ran Linux, but there was a constant loud hum on the audio. This was traced to the PSU for the netbook so the whole node was mothballed. I decided to try to rectify the issue by going back to the Raspberry Pi as node computer. I had previously used an image developed by Ken, K5ENB, and I used this image initially. The downside to this approach is that the Pi has to be initially set up on an Ethernet connection, wireless being configured afterwards. This is all well and good but I found myself dashing between the shack and the living room, where the router is, setting and resetting the Pi and I eventually had the node running. For some unknown reason the node just would not register on the AllStar network so the image was scrubbed and a new image was sourced from Doug Crompton. This is a great image for AllStar, you do need to spend some time setting it up and it can be a bit complicated but it is excellent in operation. I have a 7 inch TFT screen and a USB keyboard attached to the Pi, so monitoring the node is simple, and there is also the option of using SSH to administer the node, so portability is possible. I have Allmon configured to monitor the node from a GUI, and EchoLink is also set up. After a bit of head scratching and a few late nights I now have the node pretty much as I would like it. The icing on the cake would be an Ethernet connection.
With my new found enthusiasm for AllStar, I feel confident enough to leave the node running, connected to either HUBNet UK or the AllStar UK Hub, and accessing via Echolink on my F22 RoIP handset.
There is now lots of C4FM activity on both the FCS reflectors and Wires-X. CQ-UK has a room on Wires-X which is well populated and there is a link from the FCS reflector system, which gives activity all day long. C4FM-Net is active most nights on FCS001-54, and once a fortnight there is a very well subscribed net on there on alternate Saturdays from 20:00 to 22:00 GMT.
DStar remains my Achilles heel at the moment. I've got hold of an Arduino dual band DV Mega but, as usual, I can't get any of my computer equipment to communicate with it, so it's a "work in progress" until such time as I can summon up the required enthusiasm to get on and sort it out. I've downloaded and installed drivers for it and I have the BlueDV program in the PC, but I need to flash the DV Mega firmware in order to use it. I can't do that until I can get the thing to communicate with my PC. I will persevere - it will not have me beaten - I would like to spend some time "on air" instead of tapping on a keyboard for hours.
The alternative (and looking more and more promising) is a Shark RF Openspot. It gets rave reviews but at over £200 it is a bit of a financial outlay - I'm still thinking on that one. I do need a stable platform for DMR, as the DV4 Mini is still not great, so that's another reason to consider the Openspot. I'm not convinced, as there are almost daily beta releases of the firmware - perhaps I may wait until there is a definitive stable release. I'm reminded of the debacle when the DV4 Mini was first released, with no support for software and catastrophic problems, particularly with its DMR capability. The jury is still out, but it's looking as though I might take the plunge.
I'm told that Spring is on the way, time to get my shoes wet with dew and a spot of portable HF ops with the FT-817. Roll on those lazy, hazy days of Summer.
73 for now and bye for now
Sunday, 22 January 2017
Monday, 2 January 2017
Well, that's Christmas and New Year over with. I have to say that radio activity for me has been quiet over the Festive period, due to being away for a large part of it and away from the shack.
Since returning four days ago, I have had MB6IAG running on the UK Hub Net on Wires-X and have heard little or no activity. There was a net publicised on the NWIS room for New Years Eve, where stations from all over the world were invited to take part and celebrate the New Year from wherever in the World they were, in real time, but that was also under subscribed.
There was a short local net on 2m on New Years Eve, for an hour or so earlier in the evening, but I couldn't make it to the radio due to visitors.
The Gateway is running at the moment and apart from a few overs earlier, there has been nothing for at least three hours. Admittedly I haven't called either as I'm doing other things, and I suspect that is what everyone else is doing.
This all points toward a distinct lack of activity in general. Could this be a sign that the Hobby is in decline? I know of several Operators locally to me who have forsaken the hobby to pursue other interests. Propagation on HF has been poor, lack of activity on other bands and modes and general disinterest have contributed to ghostly silences of late.
I'm concerned that we will soon have no hobby, despite record numbers of Licensees, where are they all?
New Year, new objectives - I intend to get the studying in and the Advanced exam under my belt this year. I did say the same last year but circumstances led to my time being prioritised in other directions. I also want to tackle Morse this year - its something I feel I'm missing out on at the moment, so to have that capability in the arsenal would be an advantage.
I'm looking forward to the Spring and better weather to go out portable - it's awfully chilly at the moment, so I haven't been out lately.
VoIP seems to be growing in popularity and I have plans afoot to become more involved with AllStar and EchoLink - if the inactivity on 2m and 70cm continues it will soon be the only way to talk to anyone.
Anyway, let's hope that things will improve somewhat and in the meantime, I will carry on regardless.
For now 73 de 2E0ENN