Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kirisun S780 Digitally Encoded Messaging Over RF

Just a quick demonstration of the Kirisun S780 sending digitally encoded messages over RF. I've included a clip of one messaging the other and also what the messaging sounds like on an analogue radio.

Thanks for watching!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wouxun KG-UV8D Cross Band Repeat Demo

I posted a while back about getting a Wouxun KG-UV8D and I've not had much time to play around with it since Christmas. I've used it a few times with very pleasing results but I've not had a proper look at the cross band repeat function. So I've uploaded a video of myself testing this function between two Baofeng GT-3 radios.

I've included a diagram below to demonstrate how the function works between the three radios. I'm going to try and use cross band repeat at some point to check how it really performs in QSO.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Monday, January 26, 2015

SainSonic INF-641 Vs SainSonic INF-661

I came across a larger antenna for the Baofeng GT-3 series radios which is longer than the SainSonic INF-641 supplied with the radio. They're on eBay for about £4.99 and are styled in the same way as the INF-641.

The original antenna is 230mm long and performs really well. It out performs the stock Baofeng antennas previously supplied with their radios by miles on RX and TX. It has an SMA female type connector for the GT-3, GT3-MKII and GT3-TP MKIII series of radios.

The new INF-661 is 360mm in length, almost the same as the Nagoya NA-771. It performs a little bit better than the INF-641 but nothing to shout home about. I tested it briefly with receiving my local repeater and it is better. At £4.99 they're inexpensive and will surely come in handy at some point when out and about with the GT-3.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Antenna Spotting! Really!?

I must admit I'm a bit of an antenna/mast spotter. Purely due to the mystery some antennas are shrouded in. What are they connected to? How long have they been there? Are they still used? Some stand as a reminder of communication systems that are long gone and some are newer and still support systems that are busy today. Don't get me wrong I don't go looking for antennas but if I see something interesting I'll snap a quick photo.

Woodford Airfield

Woodford Aerodrome is local to me and closed for business in 2011 and when I went to take some photos the other day I noticed a few antennas dotted around the site. One was a folded dipole on the top of a small building situated on the southern perimeter of the airfield. The other is a large mast on top of the security hut at the main gate. I wondered what they were used for and how they integrated into the operation of the airfield.

Small folded dipoles? Seen on a mast at the entrance to the airfield. 

There were a few UHF frequencies in use at Woodford until its closure and these were likely used to transmit on these frequencies although only a guess:

455.575    460.875    Woodford Airfield Tower/Ground
455.475    460.775    Woodford Airfield Crash Ops "Red Base"
455.850    461.150    Woodford Airfield Hawker Aviation
455.725    461.025    Woodford Airfield Engineers

It is a shame I got into scanning after all the action at Woodford stopped. Although flying at the airfield was rare in later years, production was still very much alive with the last years of the RJ/RJX series and then the Nimrod MRA4. I bet it made interesting listening when Nimrod was test flying out of Woodford until 2012.

I assume they've long since fell into silence and will be torn down as the demolition of the airfield has started this month.

Point To Point Microwave Links

I find point to point microwave links interesting as they are more stealthy and covert. They are used for all sorts of things such as transmitting data from weather stations, CCTV images from cameras mounted on poles and lamp posts and numerous other uses.

I was recently delivering something to a block of flats in Manchester and as I glanced out at the view from the 16th floor I noticed a couple of microwave links on the corner of the building. One looking towards Manchester City Centre and the other pointing towards the Stockport area. I wonder what they're transmitting?

Well I hope you enjoyed that boring post. I'm sure many of you will agree that antennas are actually pretty interesting!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Game Changer Coming From Baofeng

Baofeng have announced a game changer that will according to them, change everything for amateurs, commercial users, preppers, and enthusiasts. This sounds interesting! I won't hold my breath until I see it though.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Wouxun KG-UV9D Is Here

Wouxun has released a new radio this week, the KG-UV9D and it looks great! It features the usual VHF and UHF bands on transmit but a whopping 7 receive only bands:

76 – 108 Mhz (FM RX)
108 – 136 Mhz (AM)
136 – 174 Mhz (FM RX/TX)
230 – 250 Mhz (FM RX)
350 – 400 Mhz (FM RX)
400 – 512 Mhz (FM RX/TX)
700 – 985 (FM RX)

How effective the RX will be on those bands with the stock antenna is anybody's guess but it certainly looks nice and is one on my list for this year!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chinese Radio Accessories - Speaker Microphones

One of the things I love about the Chinese handheld radios is that there is no shortage of accessories at incredible prices. Most of them seem to be of decent quality too. I've tried a few speaker microphones for my Baofeng and Wouxun radios and they all cost between £3 and £8. They're not amazing on audio quality but for making a decent radio contact they're great.

I picked up the two mics above first and the one on the left is ok but the click is very loud and the audio quality seems a bit muffled. It works though and it works well however it is almost as big as the Baofeng UV-5R. I paid around £3.50 for it on eBay so nothing lost there. The one on the right is a bit of an upgraded version which has a socket underneath for a speaker. It is a nicer design, slightly smaller and features a TX activated LED. That one cost around £4.50 on eBay.

The microphone on the above left I picked up for my Wouxun KG-UV8D and I think is identical inside to the newer Baofeng mic. Again audio quality is ok and it does the job. I think I paid around £8 for it. The one on the right is a relatively new microphone which features dual PTT for the UV-82 and GT-5. This one cost £5 on eBay and is decent quality. The unit is extremely small which is nice for using with a handheld radio.

All the microphones above are really good and I'd recommend them all for the price. Do you use any of them? Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Shack Upgrade - Icom ID-5100

In 2003 at the age of 15, I got hooked on radio after spending many nights listening to my local amateurs on repeaters and simplex for hours. I got in touch with my local club and got licensed in 2004 and was very lucky to have people there to help me get on air. I didn't have a job yet and had no money but managed to scrape together some cash with the help of my parents and my savings and buy an Icom IC-207 mobile rig off a guy from the club. I was given a Diamond X-50 antenna for about £20 and a 3-5 amp power supply off a CB from the late M3MEA, Simon Meakin.

So with that I was on the air and spent hours and hours most nights chatting on GB3MR and a few other local repeaters. I was hooked on radio for 4 or 5 years but after getting a job and a long term girlfriend I lost grip with it all and my equipment went into the attic until 2013. During the time I was initially on air I was under the impression that all radios were expensive, which is true to a degree so I never upgraded my shack. I managed ot pull around 8 watts out of my PSU and just about get by.

In 2013 I bought my first Baofeng UV-3R and got well and truly hooked on radio again. Since then I've accumulated a nice collection of Chinese handhelds and bought a TYT TH-9000D mobile rig but my shack still lacked a decent base station radio. So this week I decided to treat myself and upgrade my shack to the new Icom ID-5100.

What a radio! It is packed with features such as dual receive, touch screen display, D-Star and analogue operation, air band RX, UHF and VHF TX/RX, bluetooth, nearest repeater search, dplus reflector linking, GPS and so much more. I'm getting slowly used to this radio but I'm so pleased with it. It receives miles better than any of my other radios including my Icom 207 and D-Star is something new to me which seems very interesting. Nice to hear so many call signs of people who have migrated to digital to evade the IQ zero's on analogue.

Here are a couple of videos I put on YouTube of the radio in receive. Stay tuned for updates soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Some Videos I Put On YouTube

Hi guys, nothing much to say this week so how about some videos I uploaded to YouTube.

Thanks For Watching!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Baofeng GT-3TP Is Here!

My Baofeng GT-3TP finally came today and was the last of four radios ordered over the Christmas period to replace a load I sold on eBay. It is the 8 watt variant of the popular GT-3/GT-3 MKII radios and even came in a GT-3 MKII box which worried me but when I opened it sure enough there was a nice shiny GT-3TP inside.

I've not had chance to do much with it yet but I'll go through my first impressions. The radio came with the usual charger, belt clip, wrist strap, car charger and the antenna which is surprisingly good and much better than the stock antenna that comes with the UV-5R and even the first series GT-3.

The RX and TX audio is great, the screen is the regular 3 tone version found on the UV-5R type models and not the covert dark screen. When I flicked through the radio I noticed the frequency range was 150-160MHz on VHF and 430-440Mhz on UHF which concerned me slightly. I did manage to open this up in the programming software to the frequencies listed in the manual which are 136-174MHz and 400-470MHz which is slightly less than the GT-3 MkII which goes up to 502MHz. Not a problem as you shouldn't be transmitting up there anyway!

The radios are visually the same apart from the GT-3TP name plate on the front. You'll notice my GT-3 has a black volume knob. I took this off an old scrap UV-5R because I don't like the silver one as I think it cheapens the radio. Otherwise both are the same. As for programming, I had to use the daily version of CHIRP software to support the radios firmware version and programmed it set to Baofeng BF-F8HP.

All in all a very nice addition to the shack, a nice upgrade on the already impressive GT-3 and I look forward to testing this radio out.

Thanks for reading as always.

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Strange Antenna Mystery Revealed?? Partly...

So I posted yesterday about the strange antenna array on top of a mast in the grounds of Hyde Cricket Club up Werneth Low. I asked on Transmission1 forum and after a healthy debate, one user posted a link to the website of Caravan International Corporation which supplies a very similar set up for a fixed ground station and also for mobile use. The system they provide is the Direction Finder TC-5400 System. I've included some information from their website:
The TC-5400 Series of general purpose automatic direction finder systems are intended for use in a variety of military, commercial or civil government applications. The model TC-5400 Series DF systems may be configured with a series of internal or external receivers and are compatible with a wide range of simple or sophisticated RF receiving instruments to include surveillance or amateur radios, spectrum analyzers or communications service monitors. The TC-5400 Series DFF Processor may be configured with a wide range of associated general purpose or mission specific fixed station, mobile, shipboard or airborne Direction Finder Antennas.  
The TC-5400-1 DF Processor is a goniometer type direction finder that uses a variety of DF Antennas. The DF Antennas may be Monopole, Dipole, Log Periodic, Annular Slot or other beam former, or various combinations thereof.   
The received signal is AM modulated by the processor-generated sine wave, at each output (quadrant) of the antenna. The signals are combined and fed to a receiver where it is AM detected. The audio base band contains the 124.8 Hz and other received signal characteristics. The AM detected signal is fed to the TC-5400-1 processor that selects the 124.8 Hz component, measures the phase angle relative to the reference phase and converts it into bearing information.   
The processor then adds to the bearing information any offset programmed at the front panel, and displays the resultant bearing in a 3-digit readout and a corresponding relative compass pointer. The processor continues to measure and update the front panel display at the selected slow or fast rate until the received signal is no longer present. At signal loss, the processor 124.8 Hz component is no longer present. At the loss of the 124.8 Hz component, the display is frozen, displaying the last bearing calculated and the processor resets until a new signal is present.
Image and information © 2011 Caravan International.

So it appears that the array is a direction finding system possibly for aircraft although a member on the forum informs me that it is nothing to do with Manchester Airport. Perhaps it is for government and military use. What exactly it is monitoring is anyone's guess but it is certainly an interesting setup and definitely something I've never seen before.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis, M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Strange Mast/Radome Up Werneth Low

Whilst up Werneth Low near Hyde today testing my Baofeng GT-5, I came across a strange looking radio mast that I've never seen before. Nor have I ever seen anything like it. It is hidden away in the grounds of Hyde Cricket Club. It has 5 evenly spaced, vertical dipoles in a hexagonal shape around it, a sort of reference antenna above those and a small radome type housing on the top in green.

The mast is around 20-25ft tall and is situated in a fenced off compound with barbed wire on the top which also contains a small utility hut for the transmitter that uses the antennas. Could it be something to do with the approach to Manchester Airport? Aircraft turn in from both directions overhead Werneth Low which is right on the flight path. Click the photos below to enlarge:

If it is indeed aviation related it is certainly an unusual setup. I've asked around on various radio forums and websites to find an answer so hopefully the mystery will be solved soon! I've also included a couple of aerial shots which show the mast when enlarged by clicking.

Thanks for reading,

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Pofung GT-5 Videos

Just a couple of short clips of my new Baofeng/Pofung GT-5 in action. The first is a video of it receiving some local repeaters from Werneth Low in Hyde, Cheshire. Sound is actually alot better but I had a cheapo Baofeng speaker mic plugged in and it is recorded on my iPhone 5. The second clip is a brief scroll through the channels I have programmed in the radio. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

This Is The One! - Pofung GT-5 First Impressions

As I said in my recent posts, I decided to try the new Pofung GT-5 after looking at the Baofeng UV-82 family of radios. It came in the post this morning and I've just opened it up after work and I'm not disappointed.

The packaged contains the usual belt clip, charger, 2 pin to 3 pin adapter, earpiece (with dual PTT), wrist strap, antenna and of course the radio. There is also a good manual written in English, German and French. The front of the manual says 'This Is The One' which suggests it's the best Baofeng/Pofung radio yet. Baofeng and many radio users rate the UV-82 family of radios as the best of the lot and with the Pofung GT-5 being an updated version of the UV-82 then this could be the case!

The radio is really well built and very solid. The buttons are large and are nicely printed and very brightly lit compared to those on the UV-5R. The internals of the radio are the same as the UV-5R but it features the stealth reverse LCD display with the usual 3 colours. On the left side is the dual PTT for selecting transmission on one frequency or another, the FM radio/alarm button and the monitor button for opening the squelch. The right hand side has a speaker mic output socket. The top features a massive flashlight that is set into the body of the radio which beats the sticky-out LED on other models and also a large on/off/volume knob.

My only criticism so far is that you have to hold the menu button while switching on the radio in order to switch between channel mode and VFO mode which isn't ideal. I'll get this radio programmed up and give it a test and post my findings. I'm guessing it won't be any different to the UV-82!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.