Monday, August 31, 2015

Update


Sorry for the lack of posts lately, work has been hectic and I've not had too much time so I thought I'd give you guys a bit of an update.

R.A.D.A.R.S 1st Annual Fox Hunt - August 1st 2015.


Myself and Roydan M0LEX decided to take part in the 1st annual fox hunt that Rochdale and District Amateur Radio Society organised. We'd never done this before so thought it'd be a bit of fun. I've always enjoyed videos on YouTube of the fox hunts that take place in the US and wished we had them more over here so when I saw the notice on Transmission1 forum I got in touch with Roydan and we put the date in our diaries!

We met at his house to load his 2m beam into his car. It was a big old black and white TV antenna from the 1960's that had been converted for the band. With a bit of superglue fixing and some tweaks here and there we were good to go. Roydan brought along his Yaesu FT857 but forgot his signal meter (we only realised 25 minutes into our journey) so we just stuck with the small one on the radio itself. Backup equipment was my TYT TH-9800 and of course the obligatory Baofeng UV-82.

We then drove up to Owd Betts public house on the edge of Ashworth Reservoir in the hills above Rochdale. We weren't expecting many to turn up but around 6 or 7 cars took part which was a great turn out. Some dropped out due to other commitments but the ones that were there gave us a warm welcome before starting the brief. One of the members had a very impressive homebrew welding rod antenna:



The brief was as follows:

The fox will transmit a 145.3875 MHz FM (Club calling frequency) signal from a fixed location, not requiring permission for access or payment of a fee, within a 5 mile radius of the start point. The fox may only use one vertically polarised antenna. The fox will transmit the location at the end of the exercise.

The hunt ends after 90 minutes, or when all hounds have found the fox (or conceded), whichever is the earlier. Hounds without a transmission capability should make their participation known in advance.

The start will be from the car park opposite Owd Betts Public House, Edenfield Road, Rochdale, OL12 7TY. Hounds should be at the start point in good time. Each team will be given written instructions regarding the transmission schedule and emergency contact details for the fox or a suitable representative.

The following details show the times, strength and duration of transmissions:


  Time Strength Duration
1st transmission 18:00:00 High power 10 watts max 2 minutes
2nd transmission 18:15:00 High power 10 watts max 1 minute
3rd transmission 18:25:00 High power 10 watts max 1 minute
4th transmission 18:35:00 High power 10 watts max 1 minute
5th transmission 18:45:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
6th transmission 18:50:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
7th transmission 18:55:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
8th transmission 19:00:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
9th transmission 19:05:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
10th transmission 19:10:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
11th transmission 19:15:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
12th transmission 19:20:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
13th transmission 19:25:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
Final transmission 19:30:00 Low power 5 watts or less 1 minute
Debrief 19:35:00 High power 10 watts max NA


After the brief myself and Roydan rushed back to our own 'base' to pick up the beam that we had hidden in a field and we got on our way. When the first transmission was made we quickly pulled over, got the beam out, unfolded the elements and plugged it into the radio. Roydan looked for the strongest signal and I rotated the beam. This proved to be hard work as the contest continued and meant that we missed part of a couple of transmissions and skipped a couple all together. We got our first heading and drew a line on a map from our location in the direction of the signal.

We then drove in the direction of that line and parked up ready for the next transmission to be made. At this point we did exactly the same as above and proceded in that direction. By the time the 5th or 6th transmission came along we had a rough triangle drawn on the map in which to search.

With each transmission we got closer and closer to the fox and drove past the same areas numerous times. We also passed a number of the other hunters on the way. By the 10th or 11th transmission we were about to give up when we heard the fox on the TYT 9800 with the squelch open giving us an S9. This gave us some hope and by the 12th transmission we were receiving him on the trusty Baofeng with the sqelch open and no antenna in.

By the 13th transmission we had found the fox and met up with him. It was Eddie G7DNM who is club secretary for R.A.D.A.R.S. and we had a good chat as we followed him back to Owd Betts.

When we got back we found all the participants enjoying a well deserved pint and some food and we shared our experiences from the hunt. As myself and Roydan were last in the game and came closest to the fox, we were declared the winners and were delighted to be presented with a certificate.


All in all a very fun evening with a great turnout. Thanks to the guys at Rochdale and District Amateur Radio Society for the warm welcome and we'll see you next year!

More Radio Bargains.

Retevis R-888S



I was trawling one of the many radio related Facebook groups I've joined on facebook and found a great bargain the other week. I love these groups as they contain alot of very useful information and advice and are frequented by some very knowledgeable and helpful people. Someone posted a link to some Retevis R-888S handhelds that I just could not pass up.

The R-888S is basically the same as the Baofeng BF-888S. It is a 16 channel UHF handheld with no bells and whistles except the usual flashlight and the voice inversion which incidentally doesn't work on the Retevis model despite it saying so on the box.

Anyway they were £4.99 each (£9.99 for the pair (they were only sold in pairs)) and at that price I couldn't let them go. They were listed as used but brand new which threw me a bit but it turns out they were just new old stock and therefore hadn't been used or opened. I suspect they had just sat in a warehouse in Hong Kong for a year.

So I decided to order 4 for £19.98 and was made up when they came in about 3-4 days! They came in their original boxes, as described and worked fine. They came with the battery, radio, hand strap, charger, antenna, belt clip and manual written in perfect English and I much prefer the styling on these as opposed to the Baofeng variant.



I did the usual unboxing, screwed the belt clips on and programmed them all up in Chirp and they all work a treat. I programmed one for my local 70cm repeaters and 70cm simplex channels, one for Manchester Airport UHF comms, one for other local UHF comms and the last one for monitoring PMR.

In The Mail:

I have some radios in the mail that I wanted to try out. I'll post my results as and when they arrive.

Zastone DP860


 

I sold my Kirisun S780's a couple of months back to fund my TYT MD-380 and wish I hadn't. Although dPMR isn't widely used and there are no repeaters for it, I felt I hadn't tried it out enough when I sold the S780's so I was browsing the internet and came across the Zastone DP860 very cheap. I've ordered a pair to try out and get to grips with and kind of start where I left off with the Kirisun S780.

I wanted to give dPMR another go on 70cm simplex locally as it isn't as easy to decode and SDR# doesn't cover it yet. These radios do text messaging over RF and have a 4w output power and they look very impressive for the price. They also cover analogue which is handy. Can't wait for these to arrive!


Zastone ZT-2R+



This is a dual band handheld radio in terms of transmission capability but it has an impressive receive range that has had mixed reviews among the radio community. It does everything your UV-5R does on transmit but receives so much more:

RX:
0.5-1.8 MHz (BC Band)
1.8-30 MHz (SW Band)
30-76 MHz (50 MHz HAM)
76 -108 MHz (FM)
108-137 MHz (Air Band)
137-174 MHz (144 MHz HAM)
174-222 MHz (VHF TV)
222-420 MHz (ACT1)
420-470 MHz (430 MHz HAM)
470-800 (729) MHz (UHF TV)
(757-774) MHz (UHF TV)
800-999 MHz (ACT2; USA Cellular Blocked)


TX:

144-146 (148) MHz
430-440 (450) MHz


Now, I know what you're thinking and I too doubt the quality of the receive on this radio in certain bands with the antenna it comes with and the low price tag but I think it's definitely worth a shot. I'm only interested in the air band section and there is alot of commercial traffic in my area above the frequency range of my Baofengs which I'll be able to monitor on the Zastone.

It is about the same size as a Baofeng UV-3 so its small but it has had some excellent reviews so I think I'll be happy enough with it. I got a fantastic deal on the price of this radio so either way I won't be too disappointed it. I'll post my results when I give this radio a proper test on RX.

Zastone ZT-V900



This radio looks like a distant relative of the Baofeng UV-82 and does everything a UV-5R does but I like the commercial radio look that it has and I paid around £15 for it so at that price it's definitely worth a try.

It is VHF only and thought I'd give it a go on 2m when I'm out portable up my local hill. It comes with the usual stuff you get in any box that contains a cheap Chinese radio and I doubt the manual will tell me much but if it's anything like its Baofeng cousins it shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Kirisun PT617A VHF Radio

 

I was given this radio recently by a friend of mine who had no use for it. It came with no microphone or programming gear for it but he told me he had his Kenwood microphone working in it and it all seemed to work ok.


I got it home and plugged it into my PSU in the shack and it seems to power up ok. I haven't got a compatible mic as the pin outs on my TYT and Icom mics are different. The main issue is that manual programming has been disabled in the radio when it was programmed by computer.

So I've ordered a cheap Kenwood compatible mic and a Kenwood compatible programming cable to see if I can get it working. I managed to find the programming software online so fingers crossed. The worst case is I have a radio that cost me £9 to get going. The best case is that I have a VHF radio that I can use for a portable 2m comms bag that I plan on putting together.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.