From my Twitter feed: Hacking a ham radio, KX3 video, sleeping cat

This is very cool…

Amateur Radio: Hacking a Ham Radio

Build a KX3 in a minute

You can watch a Video on youtube about building the #Elecraft #KX3

Who doesn’t like cats? I used to have a cat that slept like this.

?????-Sunny spot and Maru.-: #cats

Video: AA2YV, build a receiver, Wouxoun review

Bill, AA2YV, is not only a fine amateur radio operator, but a professor of German at Nazareth College in New York.

Build a SW receiver with only four transistors!

A video review of the KG-UVD1P, my latest acquisition. Short version: he likes it.

Humorous Repeater IDs

Here are some humorous repeater IDs. The first set were recorded by Don, AE5DW, of Amateur Radio Newsline for Stuart, KD8LWR, for use on the crossband repeater that he’s set up in his backyard. My favorite one is “Located in NW Washtenaw County with HT coverage to all of Dexter, you’re listening to the KD8LWR repeater system.”  Dexter is a little burg here in SE Michigan with, I’d say about 5,000 people.

The second set was recorded by Don for the W4KEV repeater in Knoxville, TN. My favorite from this batch is “With less coverage than the owner’s hair, this is the W4KEV repeater.”

Stuart recorded the third set of IDs, which you can hear on the WB8DEL repeater. It’s on 224.560  MHz and located near Harbor Springs and Charlevoix in northern Michigan. My favorite from this set is, “If you want to be modulated, radiated, aerated, and communicated, you’re destinated when you’re situated on the WD8BEL repeater. Can you dig it?”

REVIEW: Wouxoun KG-UVD1P 2m/440 HT

Wouxoun KG-UVD1P

Is this radio worth $93? Read the review.

Normally, I hate spam, and when I find it in my inbox, I mark it as such, and attempt to unsubscribe, if there’s a link to do so. Even so, sometimes, when the spam is amateur radio related, I’ll take a peek. So, even though I hate to admit it, I did succumb to some spam last week.

The spam was an e-mail from Amateur Radio Supplies offering me 7.3% off my next purchase. I had never heard of Amateur Radio Supplies before, so I decided to click over to their website and see what they had for sale.

Most of the stuff they sell is pretty unremarkable. There’s a lot of MFJ stuff and some Alinco radios. What caught my eye, though, is that they were selling the Wouxoun KG-UVD1P HT for $100. With the 7.3% discount, that price would be $92.70. I Googled around a bit, and the lowest price that I could find elsewhere was $112, so I decided to buy one for myself and play around with it for a bit.

The radio arrived within a week, and I eagerly unpacked the radio. I hadn’t bought a new, in-the-box radio in years. It was all very nicely packaged, and came with a wrist strap, desk charger, and rubber ducky antenna.

I clipped the battery pack onto the radio and turned it on right away, even though the battery really needed charging. The first thing I noticed was how bright and easy-to-read the display was. I also got a chuckle from the voice that came out of the radio announcing that it was in frequency mode. The voice is female, and while the announcement was in English, it had a very distinctive Chinese accent.

At that point, I turned off the radio and set up the charger. I came back that evening, to find the battery fully charged. I’m not sure how long it took, but it definitely charges pretty quickly.

The next step was to set up some frequencies. I had heard this was very difficult to do, but I didn’t find it to be so tough, especially once you get the hang of how to work the menus. Without too much futzing, I was able to program the two repeaters that I use most. I was aided in this by the relatively decent user manual and the quick reference card. The second time I picked up the radio, I was able to figure out how to delete the two pre-programmed channels and how to get it to scan the programmed memories.

In addition to ordering the radio, I also purchased the programming cable, but it’s on back order. After programming several of the local repeaters into the HT, and seeing how easy it is to do, I’m considering canceling that order. I’m not a big VHF/UHF user, and I don’t continually update the programming of my radios, so I’m not really sure that I need that programming cable.

So, how does it work? Well, to be honest, I’ve only been able to make one contact with it so far, and that was a really short one because the other guy was driving away from the repeater and quickly was out of range. I don’t fault the radio for this, though. Like many places, the repeaters are around here are dead. I had the radio turned on all day Wednesday and only heard a couple of “kerchunks.” I don’t recall hearing an entire conversation.

I don’t really have the equipment to properly test the performance of the radio, but I will say that the receiver doesn’t seem to be as sensitive as the other HTs that I own. That’s not a big problem, though, as they’re still solid copy.

All things considered, it seems to be a decent purchase. It would be nice if there were more people to talk to, though.

On the Internet: $100 supercomputer, 13 yo reviews his HT, HackRF covers 100 MHz – 6 GHz

Here are  a couple more interesting tidbits gleaned from the Internet over the past week or so:

  • Personal supercomputer for only $100! This blog post describes reports on a company called Adapteva, which sounds like it’s still basically a basement operation, that’s developed a low-power, high-Gflops processor chip. Their current project is to develop a very low-cost supercomputer using this chip. One of the possible applications they’re targeting is software-defined radio.
  • 13-year-old reviews the Quansheng dual-band HT. A new ham reviews his dual-band HT. Bottom line: he likes it!
  • HackSDR to rule the airwavesHackRF is a software-defined radio (SDR) that will potentially receive and transmit any radio frequency from 100 MHz to 6 GHz. HackRF is intended to hit the sweet spot between versatility and cost – around the size of a USB hard drive and with a $300 price tag,

Activate rare grid squares with the Michigan 6m Group

A friend of mine, Bruce, KT8TD, has started a Yahoo Group—the Michigan Six Meter Group—to organize “DXpeditions” to activate rare northern Michigan grid squares on 6m. The plan is to get a small group togethere sometime in the near future to operate from these sparsely-populated areas.

I’m not a big 6m operator, but it sounds like a good idea to me. Do  you know of any other groups or websites or mailing lists promoting this type of operation? If so, please comment here.

A wake-up call for amateur radio?

Yesterday, this letter to the editor was published on the website of The Review of East Liverpool, OH:

Ham radio usage needs fixed

Dear Editor:

Attention amateur radio operators, it is easy to forget where amateur radio is and what we are here for.

First let me give you a story. A man sat in his car out of gas during freezing weather, on January the 29th of this year. He was a Ham operator and he had called several times for assistance. No answer came.

For those of you who know a little about sub-freezing weather, you can go into hypothermia in less than an hour inside a car and it takes 20 minutes outside.

This man never got any help from the radio but his son, knowing he was stranded, walked 5 miles to where he was with a small can of gas that held about a gallon-and- a-half. They made it home safely, no thanks to Amateur radio assistance.

You wonder why I didn’t help that man inside that car … well that man was me. You see, at home I monitor the local repeater, but now I have lost my faith in Ham radio.

People you need to listen up, if were not going to monitor local repeaters of call channels on a 24-hour basis, than Ham radio is not worth saving. Is this the message you want to send to those who are after our frequency?

Amateur radio is for the recognition of emergency communication first, and a privilege to use it as a hobby second -not anything other than that.

Start monitoring those frequencies, and set up a schedule for volunteers on a 24-hour basis. If we are to live up to our name, then we need to listen to those calls of emergency, with your local clubs.

This could have been a bad car accident happening in the early-morning night, with severe bleeding, or worse.

We must not fail those who need us in these times.

I do want to thank the officer who gave my son a ride back with gas, and we did get home safely.

Walter Kernaich
East Liverpool

So, is someone monitoring your repeater?


Next VOIP Conference, Friday, May 12, 2012 in Reno, NV

From Kent, W7AOR:

The next VOIP Topical Conference is Friday, May 4, 2012 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

Since 2001 Nevada Amateur Radio Repeaters, Inc. (NARRI) sponsored the Annual VoIP IRLP Conference that is held in the Spring. Prior to 2012 the conference was held in Las Vegas as a separate event. Now it is part of EMCOMMWEST event. Each year the meeting has broadened its scope and now includes all the major VoIP systems in use by the amateur radio community, i.e., IRLP, Echo link, EchoIRLP, All Star, D-Star and DV Dongle. Report on success of the Pacific Division D-Star Emcom Net held on Western Reflector REF014B. See the program for topical speakers.

Here is a summary of details:

  •  Place: Grand Sierra Resort Conference Area
  • The conference area is in the lower level – take elevator down from main floor.
  • Date: Friday May 4, 2012
  • Time: 9 am to Noon and 1 to 4:30 pm
  • Program: elaborates on the various VoIP systems with presentations and demonstrations. See past VoIP conference session at
  • Venue: 10th Annual Topical VoIP Conference
  • Cost: $25 per person. No one allowed without payment, no exceptions.
  • RSVP: Pre-Registration is Required by April 16, 2012.
  • Registration: Not available at this time. Will begin on February 1st.
  • Hotel Rooms:

Please direct your questions to Kent W7AOR, or phone 702-452-4412.

It is the hopes of NV Section leadership that this combo will alternate yearly between Reno and Las Vegas. Look forward to seeing you in Reno for the 10th annual VoIP Conference and EmcommWest.

Yaesu thinks the future of ham radio is digital

A Digital Communications GuideYaesu thinks the future of ham radio is digital, and of course, that amateurs should adopt its digital mode (CMF4) over Icom’s (D-STAR). At least that’s what they say in their latest publication, A Digital Communications Guide for Amateur Radio Operators.

This publication claims several advantages for digital communications techniques, including:

  • reduced bandwidth,
  • digital data transfer,
  • better performance,
  • immunity to interference, and
  • product and system cost reduction.

It talks about some of the theory behind digital communications, explaining in relatively simple terms how the various modulation techniques work. Of course, it slams D-STAR:

Now, this method [GMSK] is considered old fashioned and no longer used by LMR [land mobile radio]. Currently, GMSK is still being used by D-STAR.

One problem I have with this publication is its implicit assumption that digital is better than analog, and that if we want to be “progressive” amateurs, we should all adopt digital communications techniques. I’m not all that convinced, and to its credit, Yaesu does concede that “analog FM can show an advantage over digital radio in some areas.”

I haven’t compared prices, but if the D-STAR radios are any indication, the prices of Yaesu’s digital radios are bound to be more expensive than the analog radios. I just don’t see that the added functionality is worth the extra cost.

What do you think? Do you think D-STAR or Yaesu’s CMF4 will gain widespread acceptance anytime soon? Do you currently own a digital radio? If not, what would convince you to buy a digital radio?


T32C in the log at WA2HOM

I didn’t make many contacts today down at WA2HOM, but I had a great time.

First off, I had planned to put PL-259s on the feedlines for the dipole and the VHF antenna, but when I went to do so, I found that it had already been done! That was very cool.

Next, I hooked up the Icom IC-V8000 to see what repeaters we could hit. First, I tried keying up the ARROW repeater. Nothing. Hmmmmm, I thought, maybe it’s just down. Next, I tried the U-M repeater, which is less than a mile away as the crow flies. I was able to key it, but the S-meter showed only a couple of S units. Something was wrong.

I swapped feedlines, and voila! Everything worked as I’d hoped. Somehow, we’d mis-labelled the feedlines. Not only that, there’s still nothing connected to the end of the dipole feedline, so I was actually able to key up the U-M repeater without an antenna!

Anyway, after connecting the right feedline to the radio, I chatted a bit with both Ralph, AA8RK, and Pat, W8LNO. Talking to Pat was fortuitous because he’s involved with Scouting, and when I mentioned that we planned to operate the Jamboree on the Air next weekend, he volunteered to come down and help out. That means we will be able to operate two radios, the HF station on 20m and the VHF station through the U-M repeater to EchoLink.

T32C DXpeditionAfter that conversation, I turned the HF rig back on, and thought I’d see what was on 15 m. Tuning around, I found a small pileup on 21.017. I called up DXWatch and determined that the pileup was for T32C, the DXpedition to Chrismas Island. I accessed their record on QRZ.Com, found the bearing, swung the beam around to 260 degrees, and heard them quite well. After setting the transmit incremental tuning to about 2 kHz, I worked them on the second call! I just love that beam!