Saturday, January 30, 2016

Red Rose Rally Find - Kenwood TM-411E

I found a bargain at the Red Rose Rally a couple of weeks back here in Manchester in the form of a Kenwood TM-411E 70cm FM transceiver. The seller let me have it for a reduced price of £30 so I snapped his hand off.

It works exactly as it should and is in great overall cosmetic condition. Produced from 1984, this is a classic little 80's looking radio in silver/grey with blue accents. It came with the original mic in great condition and also a mounting bracket although it won't be being mounted anywhere. Designed as a mobile rig it is nice and compact and features a swivel front which goes up and down for ease of use. 

It doesn't have CTCSS, just the 1750hz tone but I only got it for a bit of simplex testing and not for repeaters anyway so this isn't really an issue. It doesn't have a speaker but has an audio output on the back for a speaker.

Frequency range is 430-440MHz, 5 watts on low power and 10 watts on high. I gave it a quick test with 3 stations. The first being 8 miles away, the second 6 miles away and the third 2 miles away. Great reports from all of them too!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

DMR Vs dPMR Simplex Testing

Myself and Roydan M0LEX recently decided to make a video showing the Kydera DP-550S dPMR and the TYT MD-380 DMR handhelds in action. We tried to do a range test in an urban area as everyone knows that in an open area or hilltop to hilltop any radio will perform particularly well.

We chose our locations after consulting Google Earth and I went to Irlam Locks and Roydan went to Barton Locks in Trafford Park, Greater Manchester. The two points are about 2.8 miles apart.

The Kydera is a fantastic little radio but we concluded that the stock antenna it comes with is awful. I wanted to do some footage of it with a Nagoya NA-771 whip antenna but the wind and recent drop in temperature made me retreat to the car and use a small Nagoya SP-80 magmount making the test unfair. The radio worked fantastic over the distance with no packet loss whatsoever.

However, the MD-380 performed fantastically well on the stock antenna and even better on the Nagoya NA-771 with only a slight bit of packet loss when I moved into the shadow of a large iron bridge.

I was going to scrap this footage and shelve the video for a while but I thought I'd share it. It's a look at how both radios work and sound if nothing else. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Transmitter Trail Part 1 - Ashton Moss

As I said in a previous post I visited some transmitter sites around Greater Manchester recently and came across some really interesting places. So I thought I'd share some pictures I took along with some info in a series of parts as there were quite a few.

The Ashton Moss transmitting stations are two independent facilities for medium wave broadcasting about 3/4 of a mile apart on Ashton Moss in Greater Manchester. The first one I visited was the original BBC transmitter which was built for BBC Radio Manchester.

The facility has been used for transmitting Gold on 1458 kHz since 1994, with a power of 5 kW. It consists of 3 free-standing lattice towers, arranged as a directional array, insulated against ground and is one of the few broadcasting stations in Europe using free-standing tower radiators. It is designated "Ashton Moss (West) MF" by Arqiva. At the base of each transmitter sits a small unit that houses the transmitting eqiupment.

The masts can be best viewed from Wren Close, and Rayner Lane in Ashton-Under-Lyne. They're not accessible as they're on private farmland which is fenced off but you can get close enough.

 The other station is Ashton Moss IBA site which was built by the Independant Broadcasting Authority in 1974 for Piccadilly Radio. It still transmits Piccadilly Magic 1152kHz and Asian Sound on 1377kHz today.

It uses a directional antenna consisting of 4 guyed masts, insulated against ground. This antenna has a maximum output toward 250°. In this direction the ERP is 1.5 kW, but the transmitter output is actually 350 Watts. The antenna of this transmitter has a highly directional pattern in order not to interfere with other nearby transmitters on the same frequency.

It is designated "Ashton Moss (East) MF" by owners Arqiva. The best way to view it is from Rayner Lane on Ashton Moss or the M60 where it passes Ashton-Under-Lyne. It is also on private land so I couldn't get nearer.

The stations were constructed and owned by the BBC and IBA as indicated above. Over time, (1974-2007), by a series of asset sell offs, and mergers, both sites are now owned and operated by Arqiva.

Hope some of you found that of interest. Look out for the next part coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

West Manchester Radio Club - Red Rose Winter Rally 2016

Today was the West Manchester Radio Club annual winter rally so I decided to go down and check it out. I'd not been to a rally in 11 years; the last one being Llandudno 2005 so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was pleasently surprised! There was a huge turnout despite the snow that had fallen overnight which possibly hampered things a little but there were lots of traders and equally lots of visitors too.

The rally was organised by West Manchester Radio Club and held at the George H Carnall Leisure Centre, Kingsway Park, Davyhulme which is near the Trafford Centre. The venue is easily accessible from junction 9 of the M60 (opposite the Trafford Centre itself) and has disabled facilities with good access as it is all on one level. There is a large free car park and a café on site which is always nice to see. Doors opened at 11am and we queued to get in too which was also nice. It sort of reassures my faith in the hobby to see so many turn out.

There was plenty of stands there such as Lamco, Total Mast Solutions, RSGB and UKFMGW along with numerous radio club stands. The sports hall was divided into two halves with the main sale area on the left, and the right half had the clubs stands, bring and buy, and UKFMGW.

I got some bargains too, the main one being a Kenwood Trio TM-411E, a Maxon SM-2450 UHF ex PMR radio (£3 working!), a Key UHF ex PMR radio with mic (£3 working!) and a nice Pye Telecom handheld in a charger which doesn't work but it looks nice in the shack for £2.

All in all a great day at the rally and really good organisation by West Manchester Radio Club.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Transmitter Trail

Some business this week took me around Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire so I decided to stop by some transmitter sites on my way round. It turned out to be quite interesting and I managed to visit alot of places whilst sticking to my route and schedule.

Here they are in order:

Ashton Moss MF West:
Location: Ashton, Greater Manchester.
Type: 3 tower freestanding directional array.
Serves: Gold 1458kHz

Ashton Moss MF East
Location: Ashton, Greater Manchester.
Type: 4 tower guyed directional array.
Serves: Key 2 1152kHz, Asian Sound 1377kHz.

Oldham North Relay.
Location: Oldham Edge, Greater Manchester.
Type: 45m freestanding TV relay mast (from Winter Hill).
Serves: BBC Television. Other local use.

Lees Relay.
Location: Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Type: 10m eouble freestanding directional TV relay (from Winter Hill).
Serves: BBC Television.

Location: Lydgate, Saddleworth.
Type: 45m TV relay/other (from Winter Hill).
Serves: BBC Television, BBC Radio, Arqiva, SDN, Key103. Other local use.

Holme Moss Transmitting Station.
Location: Holme Valley, West Yorkshire.
Type: 228m guyed tower.
Serves: BBC Radio, Classic FM, Digital One. Other local use.

Emley Moor Transmitting Station.
Location: Kirklees, West Yorkshire.
Type: 330m freestanding concrete tower.
Serves: BBC TV, Various TV multiplexers, Capital Yorkshire 105.1

Heart 106.2, BBC Digital, Digital One. Other local use.

Primrose Hill.
Location: Primrose Hill, Kirklees, West Yorkshire.
Type: 35m TV relay (from Emley Moor).
Serves: BBC Television. Other local use.

Ainley Top/Flixby Ridge.
Location: Salendine Nook, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Type: Freestanding radio relay (from Emley Moor).
Serves: BBC Digital Radio.

Vicars Lot.
Location: Outlane, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Type: 64m guyed transmitter.
Serves: The Pulse 102.5, Pulse 2 1530kHz.

Scapegoat Hill.
Location: Scapegoat Hill, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Type: Multiple unidentified towers. Reservoir telemetry transmitter.
Serves: Possible former Home Office. Possible Yorkshire Water.

Moorside Edge.
Location: Pole Moor, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Type: 158m double guyed transmitter towers.
Serves: Radio 5 Live 909kHz, Absolute 1215kHz, Talk Sport 1089kHz.

Dog Hill.
Location: Shaw, Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Type: 30m freestanding TV relay (from Winter Hill).

Serves: BBC Television.

I'll post some more info and photographs this week on all these places.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Baofeng UV-5X Power Test With GY561 Power Meter

Marathon Comms On 164.050

Whilst having a quick scan around today I came across someone on 164.0500 FM reading out numbers so I stopped and listened in for a minute and realised it was a team coordinating a marathon or run up in the Peak District not too far from my QTH. The radio operators were reading the numbers of the participants as they passed through checkpoints along the runs route.

I did a bit of Googling and found the race to be the Marsden to Edale Trigger Run. Here are the details of the run:
The Trigger Race will run for the fifth time on Sunday 10th January 2016. Entrants will navigate their way from Marsden over Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder to Edale visiting three trigs points on route. The linear route is measured at 20 miles with 4500 feet climb. The race is sponsored by and all profits of the race will go to Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team. In 2015 we raised over £3200 for the team.
I assume Woodhead Mountain Rescue were on standby at the event due to the plummeting temperatures up in those hills. They might have even operated the radio comms for the run as the people on the radios were quite good operators. They did mention switching to a repeater but I couldn't catch the name of it and couldn't find it when scanning around.
Anyway, I thought it was quite interesting so I recorded it on the Icom 5100 and uploaded it to YouTube:

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Vintage eBay Buy - Kenwood TH-26A

I always browse eBay for bargains and I came across a pair of Kenwood TH-26A VHF handheld transceivers in November going for £25 so I decided to get them. They were produced in the early 90's but I can't find the exact year of release. 

Despite their age they work well, both power on and both transmit and receive. I tested them with a friend about 2 miles down the road and got a 5/9 report on both handsets. They use a short rubber duck antenna with a BNC connector and I live in a built up area so I was happy to see they work.

These radios operate on 144-146mHz FM and CTCSS/tone capability and offset function for use on repeaters which is handy although in Manchester there aren't really any active 2m repeaters these days. GB3MN is rarely used and putting calls through doesn't change that. GB3MB in Bury has long since gone off air so I'll have to leave that function for another day.

One of the radios has a little sticker on the front detailing the function of different buttons and combinations of button presses. This makes operation very easy although I've not tried all the functions out properly. The left hand side of the radio has a monitor button, PTT, lamp toggle switch and a power setting switch. Power output on high is 2.5-5w depending on voltage from the battery, 0.5w on low and 20mw on extra low.

On the top front panel of the radio is a little LCD screen which displays the frequency, S meter and settings. The knob on the left is a dual function dial with squelch on the bottom and on the top is the volume. The knob to the right is the frequency/channel select. A small lamp indicates RX/TX. The MHZ button allows selection of the tuning step, VFO switches between VFO and memory mode, MR allows scanning through memory channels. CALL activates the channel call function. The T-ALT button on the front activates the tone alert function.

On the back are the (F)unction, tone/ctcs, shift and rev buttons for selecting radio functions, repeater offset and tones etc. There is also a metal battery clip. There are two power sockets on the radio; one for charging the battery and one for running the radio off an external power supply.

Overall I'm really happy with these radios and can't wait for the better weather to try them out portable from my local hill.
Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Baofeng UV-5X

Its been a while since I've done a new Baofeng post so I thought I'd do one today. I got a UV-5X through the post over Christmas as a replacement for a UV-5R I have which is suffering from an intermittent PTT problem
Nothing much to report on this one really. It is exactly the same inside as a UV-5R with the exception of a few button pads but the outside is nicely styled and it feels more rugged than its predecessors which is nice.

- Frequency Range: VHF 136-174 MHz (Rx/Tx). UHF 400-520MHz (Rx/Tx); 65MHz ~ 108MHz (Only commercial FM radio reception)
- Memory channels: Up to 128 channels
- Frequency stability: 2.5ppm
- Frequency step: 2.5KHz/5KHz/6.25KHz/10KHz/12.5KHz/25KHz
- Antenna impedance: 50
- Supply voltage: Rechargeable Lithium-ion 7.4V/1800mAh
- Consumption in standby: ¡Ü 75mA
- Consumption in reception: 380mA
- Consumption in transmission: ¡Ü 1.4A
- Mode of Operation: Simple or semi-duplex
- Duty cycle: 03/03/54 min (Rx/Tx/Standby)
- Dimension: 110x58x33 mm
- Weight: 222g (included battery+ antenna)

- RF power: 4W/1W
- Type of modulation: FM
- Emission class: 16k¦µF3E / 11k¦µF3E (W/N)
- Maximum deviation: ¡Ü ¡À5kHz / ¡Ü ¡À2.5kHz(W/N)
- Spurious emissions: <-60dB


- Receiver sensitivity: 0.2uV(at 12dB SINAD)
- Intermodulation: 60dB
- Audio Output: 1000mW
- Adjacent channel selectivity: 65/60dB

Power Adapter:
- Input: AC100-240V, 50-60Hz; Output: DC10V/500mA; Plug Type: US

Package contents:

1x BAOFENG UV-5X FM Two-Way Radio Body (One 7.4V/1800mAh Battery included)
1x Antenna
1x Power Adapter
1x Belt Clip
1x Battery Charger
1x Earpiece
1x Hand Strap
1x User Manual 

Upon opening the box I found the usual stuff listed above. English manual which is nice but I'm a seasoned used of Baofengs by now so I don't need to open it! For those who don't know how to use them then the manual in good English will be a big help.

I put the radio together and switched it on and, well, that's it! It's basically a UV-5R. It programmes the same, works the same and sounds the same.

It does however look slightly different. The VFO/MR and A/B buttons are in a different place, the buttons are more rubbery and stick out better allowing for easier keypad entry especially if you're outside and you have cold fingers! The PTT,  alarm button and monitor buttons on the side are rubber as opposed to the plastic PTT on some other models which again feels nicer to touch. 

The usual speaker mic socket is protected by a plastic cover which upon closer inspection made me realised that while this radio is advertised as waterproof and even submersible on some eBay pages, it is not. The radio is shower proof to a degree so don't make that mistake if buying. It is not IP67 rated and will die if submersed in water! I knew this before buying and wasn't expecting a submersible radio such as the Sainsonic RST599.

The beltclip screws on like any other model but this one feels very flimsy and loose. It wiggles from side to side and I don't think it'd take much wear and tear before it broke. The usual sticker inside the radio has some information about the model, range and power output (which I've yet to test).

The charging base is nice, very similar to that of the GT-5, BF-UVB2+ and UV-82.

Overall a nice solid radio. It is advertised as shock proof and it definitely feels sturdier than the UV-5R. There is a video on YouTube of someone running over it with his car and it survives so who knows.

I'll do a power test and unboxing video soon so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.