Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Magmount 2.4GHz Antenna For Wireless Video Scanning

Hi guys I recently purchased a couple of what the seller calls 'SMA 2.4GHz 9DBI Wireless Wifi WLAN 5 X Range Booster Antenna Extender + Base GT' antennas off eBay. I saw these and thought I'd give them a try for wireless video scanning because they are tuned to 2.4GHz and can't be any worse than the tiny little antenna on my wireless video dongle.

It cost around £1.40 shipped from Hong Kong so no great loss if it's useless. It seems pretty well made with a rubber cap at the top, magmount base at the bottom, a few feet of coax cable and an SMA male connector which screws right into my wireless video dongle.

I'm looking forward to giving this antenna a try sometime soon to see how it performs but at £1.40 who cares!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Baofeng GT-1 First Impressions

So my Baofeng GT-1 arrived today and I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box. First was the little manual which is in perfect English, German and French plus a small card advertising Baofeng's 'Brand Reimagine' from Baofeng to Pofung. Also in the box was the usual charger, earpiece, antenna, 2 pin to 3 pin adapter plug and of course radio and battery.

The supplier sent me the orange version instead of the yellow version that I ordered but it matches my GT-3 and GT-3TP which is good so no big deal there. The radio is really solid and well built just like it's older brother; the BF-888S. It has orange PTT, monitor and flashlight buttons plus the speaker mic socket is also orange. The belt clip is alot stronger feeling than the BF-888S and the antenna ever so slightly bigger too.

The charger is slightly reworked but like the BF-888S has the LED which drains the radios battery if it is left in there without mains power.

The radio is programmable in CHIRP software using the regular Baofeng programming cable on the BF-888S setting. I think I'll programme this to my local UHF repeaters and the 8 PMR channels for the UK. I plugged the radio in to check what was pre-programmed in and it is on random frequencies from 437.15000 to 469.85000 with a mixture of CTCSS and DCS codes in use (click to enlarge).

RX and TX audio is great, just like the BF-888S and all in all the Pofung GT-1 is a great little radio for £12.

Thanks for reading as always.

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Frosty Conditions

With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas period and a busy week at work I've had no time for radio whatsoever. My new Wouxun KG-UV8D is still waiting to be tried and tested and my antennas on my care are well and truly frozen up!

My Christmas break comes in the form of 3 days off this week so I hope to get some radio in at some point!

Thanks for reading as always.

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Is Coming

Well, yet another Christmas is upon and after panic Saturday on the 20th and manic Monday on the 23rd the shops and supermarkets are absolutely rammed and things won't change until late on Christmas eve! So I decided to do a bit of online shopping and get some treats in for Christmas.

I recently sold about 10 radios on eBay to make a bit of cash and clear out the stuff I wasn't using. Items included a pair of TYT 368S 449MHz handhelds, one of those 70's/80's mobile CB radios for the car that come with a magmount etc. Also sold were a Uniden UBC30XLT scanner and an Alinco DJ-S40C UHF handheld transceiver. As I said, I won't particularly miss these items as they were just not used and are of no particular value to me from a monetary or sentimental point of view.

Wouxun KG-UV8D:

The first radio I bought was the Wouxun KG-UV8D Dual Band 136-174/400-520MHz handheld transceiver with the large colour LCD screen. I've not used Wouxun radios before and have been toying with the idea of getting one of these for a while. There are plenty of features packed into this such as 4 watts power on UHF and 5 watts on VHF. It features a whopping 999 programmable memory channels and full CTCSS and DCS as well as DTMF operation. The KG-UV8D also has duplex cross-band repeat capability, so you can operate the radio in full cross-band mode where you transmit on one band while you receive on the other simultaneously. You can also receive two signals at the same time on either band.

The KG-UV8D has the same other features as most of the Chinese handhelds out there such as channel name display, dual standby, 76-108Mhz FM radio, DTMF encoding, SOS function, low voltage voice prompt, VOX for hands-free operation, stopwatch and a flashlight. The radio is powered by 7.4v 1700mAh Li-Ion battery pack.

Baofeng/Pofung GT-5:

The next radio I bought was the new Baofeng/Pofung GT-5 VHF/UHF 136-174/400-520MHz Dual-PTT Dual-Standby 2-way Radio. This is basically the Baofeng UV-82 family of radios in a new casing with slightly different buttons etc. There is no real difference between the two but I've been looking at getting a UV-82 for a while to give it a try and now the GT-5 is out it makes sense to go for that model.

Receive and transmit are better on this radio and it features a better antenna compared to the useless stock antenna on the Baofeng UV-5R. I chose this radio to try out the dual PTT key which would be very useful when the radio is in dual standby mode. Obviously the PTT allows you to select which frequency you transmit on. The extra 1 Watt of power on both bands (5/4 Watts instead of 4/3 Watts) is also a slight advantage.

Baofeng/Pofung GT-1:

Next was the Baofeng/Pofung GT-1 UHF 400-470MHz. I'm assuming a BF-888s in a new casing but nevertheless a great remodel of an already great radio. I've always been a fan of the BF-888's which you can pick up for as little as £12. It does simplex, repeaters, has CTCSS/DCS and decent audio. Better still it works with the UV-5R accessories. I've bought a pair of Baofeng/Pofung GT-1's for £25 with a free earpiece and I'll be made up if they're just as good as the BF-888s.

It has all the same features that the BF-888s has but seems slimmer, a little more professional looking and comes with either and Orange, Yellow or Green fluorescent PTT, monitor button and speaker mic guard. I chose the yellow but as I type this I wish I'd chosen orange to match my Baofeng GT-3! Ah well it'll match the GT-5 instead.

Baofeng GT-3TP:

Lastly was the Baofeng GT-3TP which is the new triple power dual band handheld from Baofeng but I've posted about this in my previous entry.

So some great radios coming for Christmas and the new year. I'm looking forward to trying them all out in terms of testing and also everyday use on repeaters and for recreation when the weather is better and camping season is here. I'm sure I'll get round to posting my findings on here soon. 

Thanks for reading as always.

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Switching to the Baofeng GT-3TP

Hi guys, a while back I posted about making the move from the Baofeng UV-5R to the Baofeng GT-3 as my main handheld radio (click here to read). Well after much anticipation Baofeng have released their new Baofeng GT-3TP which apparently features 8 watts output power.

Now, like everybody else I was skeptical about whether this is actually true and I've found the answer. It is true depending on what frequency you use according to the eBay seller who has included a measure of power on a number of frequencies:

140-145MHz - 8.0 Watts
150.325MHz - 6.9 Watts
430.125MHz - 6.5 Watts
435.225MHz - 6.3 Watts
440.325MHz - 6.3 Watts

It looks like it'll perform best on 2m which is ok. The results for 70cm/PMR are a little disappointing and the extra 1 watt won't make the slight bit of difference. Anyway I bought one of these on eBay tonight after selling a few old radios. Firstly to make my GT-3 a pair and secondly to see if there is any difference in performance with a little extra power.

The radio comes supplied with all the usual peripherals and is coming from Hong Kong so it probably won't be here until the 2nd week in January. When it comes I'll be sure to post my findings!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

RTL SDR Problem/Caution

I'm a huge fan of SDR after discovering it around 6 months ago and these £6 RTL SDR dongles that are all over eBay at the moment are a great way to get started. They're a great value SDR dongle that coupled with SDR# in my opinion is a very powerful tool and since then my scanners have sat switched off in my shack.

I decided recently that I'd get a second SDR dongle from eBay so I could run one on my PC for pager and digital decoding and the other on my laptop for analogue VHF and UHF monitoring. So I got onto eBay and bought the absolute cheapest one I could find. It came in about a week and was identical to my existing dongle right down to the packaging. Happy days! Or so I thought.

I plugged the dongle into the laptop and decided to give it a test to check everything was ok but when I clicked play in SDR# I received an error message saying cannot access RTL devicde. So I decided to reinstall all software/drivers etc and try again but the same message kept appearing. The exact same happened on my desktop PC too.

So I decided to do some searching around on Google and all results pointed to software issues but there was no difference between the dongles and all my software was correct. I plugged my old dongle back in and received no signals which worried me a bit as I use my SDR all the time. After racking my brains for 30 minutes I noticed the faulty dongle had knocked my RF gain to 0Db!

I gave it up as a bad job and decided to take the dongle apart to see if there was any difference in hardware inside that could be causing the fault and saw that the board inside seemed corroded! Now, I'm no electrical expert so it could be that either the board inside had fried when I plugged the dongle in, or the unit has been exposed to moisture but the pictures below show the damage that is causing the fault.

The soldering on the board seems to be of a very low standard too which makes me think that some manufacturer in China is cloning these boards for various eBay sellers to distribute onwards in bulk hence the poor quality. Who knows!

Anyhow, the dongle was only £6 and I received a full refund after contacting the seller so no harm done really but just a word of warning when buying these dongles on eBay or anywhere else. Sometimes the cheapest one isn't always the best one. Go for a dongle that's around £8-£10 and save the hassle.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2.4GHz Wireless Video Scanning Update

I posted a few weeks ago that planned on having a go at some wireless video scanning for the 2.4GHz wireless security cameras and that the dongle I bought was pretty much useless due to the software being awful. After that I lost interest in the idea due to that reason but I've made some progress this week.

So after a lot of moaning and complaining to the eBay seller, and alot of fobbing off by the eBay seller, I managed to get them to send me a replacement with better software. Don't get me wrong it was an absolute nightmare to install and get running again but once I sorted it all out, I was impressed!

I don't yet have the palm monitor so I'm making do with the dongle for now, so I plugged it into the laptop and put the laptop in the passenger seat of my car and drove round my local area. I went through a small shopping village and came up with nothing so I decided to head home but when I got onto my estate I found a fair few camera's on houses and made a few recordings. The button on the top below the LED is what toggles the channel change. Unfortunately there is no way to tell which channel you're on. The recording is easy to do in the supplied software. All you do is click start and stop. The software allows you to edit video and transfer to a data disc or DVD but all I needed was the MPEG files. You can watch my findings in the video below.

All in all I'm very pleased with the results and can't wait to get back out in the daytime and scan for more. For info on how to do this, Google search and YouTube are full of info on where to get started. The 2.4GHz frequencies are 2414MHz, 2432MHz, 2450MHz and 2468MHz.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Please note, this equipment is available all over eBay and it is up to you to be responsible by not putting anyone or anything at risk by scanning or sharing wireless video. Please also note that any clip I show is for demonstration purposes only and does not contain anyone's face, address, name, street name or vehicle license plate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Motorola 4500X Hand Portable Phone

It's really easy to forget just how awful, and large mobile phones used to be and one look at the Motorola 4500X serves as a reminder that mobile phones were once something that you really didn't want to carry around unless you had to.

I picked this model up on eBay for around £25 if my memory serves me. It came in great condition with a mains power supply and car power supply, antenna and its own Motorola carrying bag. Dating from the late 1980s, the 4500X weighs in at a whopping 3.5kg and is basically a handset connected to a heavy box containing the battery and electronics via a cable. The unit measures 260mm long by 118mm wide by 175mm tall (270mm if you count the antenna). This type of phone was known as a hand portable and it was just one step up from a car phone. The handset itself has a basic set of numeric buttons and some function keys, with a very simple LED display for output. There are no letters on the keys, because at the time of release, text messaging had yet been developed.


Unfortunately the phone operated on the now obsolete ETACS system. Total Access Communication System (TACS) and ETACS are mostly-obsolete variants of Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) which was announced as the choice for the first two UK national cellular systems in Feb 1983, less than a year after the UK government announced the T&Cs for the two competing mobile phone networks in June 1982.

TACS cellular phones were used in Europe and other countries (including the UK, Italy & Ireland. TACS was also used in Japan under the name Japanese Total Access Communication (JTAC). It was also used in Hong Kong. ETACS was an extended version of TACS with more channels.

TACS and ETACS are now obsolete in Europe, having been replaced by the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) system. In the United Kingdom, the last ETACS service operated by Vodafone was discontinued on 31 May 2001, after sixteen years of service. The competing service in the UK operated by Cellnet (latterly BTCellnet) was closed on Sunday 1 October 2000. Eircell (now Vodafone Ireland) closed its TACS network on 26 January 2001.


I love these old phones and they provide an interesting look at the not so distant past where they were the new high tech thing to have. Obviously a long way away from the iPhone 6!

I have a few old mobile phones which I'll blog when I get chance so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.