Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Obsessive Compulsive Ramblings

I keep on doing it. I can’t help it. I can’t resist a bargain when it comes to radio equipment. As if the recent purchases of DMR radios wasn’t enough, I’ve bought another two radios this month. Both are DSTAR radios, an ID-880 mobile and it’s handheld counterpart the IC-80. Both were very reasonable used bargains. This brings the number of DSTAR radios to four. 

I have a Ham friend locally and we have talked on and about radio since I first became licenced. After a bit of a lay off from the hobby he decided to rekindle the hobby with a new TYT MD380 DMR handheld. I spent a Saturday afternoon with him, updating the firmware on his DVMega, installing Pi-Star software on his Raspberry Pi and writing a suitable codeplug for the radio. After a bit of coaching about how to access reflectors and imparting some knowledge, he has now found a renewed interest in the hobby and is now active again. It’s always good to have a Ham returning to the fold and it was particularly gratifying to be able to help him along the way. All in the spirit of Amateur Radio. 

I have decided to replace the AllStar RF node with something a little more suitable for a personal hotspot. I have always thought that using the Icom IC-E208 as a node radio was a bit of a waste of equipment, bearing in mind that attenuating the output to around 10mW with a radio capable of 50W is not exactly exploiting the radios capabilities. It would be fine if I was using it as a Gateway radio, but even then NoV conditions would be likely to limit the output to a fraction of the radios potential. Thinking about options, I considered a Micronode built by G7RPG but had issues in justifying the cost. I have used UHF for an AllStar node before but had to abandon it due to my neighbour’s not being able to use the remote central locking on their vehicles while the node was transmitting on its licenced frequency. I switched to VHF with no issues whatsoever. So, I needed a compact node, using a handheld radio and also using VHF. I approached the Guru of all things AllStar, Alan, M0AQC, about converting a VHF Wouxun handheld that I had in a cupboard, doing nothing. Alan suggested that the Wouxun might not be suitable but suggested the Baofeng UV-82 as an ideal candidate to build a dual band AllStar node. He then began to look into converting a UV-82, with one of his modified USB sound fobs. It’s a work in progress but my RF needs for AllStar will soon be met with the new node, freeing up the Icom for more suitable work. 

My involvement as part of the Admin Team for the UK Hub on the AllStar Network continues. Recent developments have included a bridge to WIRES-X and also a link into the Fusion FCS reflector System. Negotiations are also underway to allocate a Brandmeister Talkgroup for a DMR crosslink. Not too bad considering that the Hub has only been active for a few months. Join us if you can on AllStar node 43909 or 27066, alternatively EchoLink G7KDZ-L. Access can also be made through my nodes, which are 43989 or 42536, EchoLink 2E0ENN-L. 

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