Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Handy - Baofeng GT-3WP

I was browsing around eBay for another Chinese handheld to add to the collection and came across the Bafoeng GT-3WP. Why it has GT-3 in the title I don't know as it bears no resemblance to the GT-3 and the WP stands for waterproof. This intrigued me and after a few Google searches I found some waterproof demonstrations and was pleased to see that is is actually waterproof. Not shower proof like the other Baofeng models are advertised as, actually submersible.

Apparently this radio is IP67 rated. IP stands for 'Ingress Protection'. An IP number is used to specify the environmental protection of enclosures around electronic equipment. These ratings are determined by specific tests. The IP number is composed of two numbers, the first referring to the protection against solid objects and the second against liquids. The higher the number, the better the protection.

First Number

0 - No protection (Sometimes X)
1 - Protected against solid objects up to 50mm3
2 - Protected against solid objects up to 12mm3
3 - Protected against solid objects up to 2.5mm3
4 - Protected against solid objects up to 1mm3
5 - Protected against solid objects up to 1mm3
6 - Totally protected against dust

Second Number

Second Number
0 - No protection (Sometimes X)
1 - Protection against vertically falling drops of water (e.g. condensation)
2 - Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees from vertical
3 - Protection against direct sprays of water up to 60 degrees from vertical
4 - Protection against water sprayed from all directions - limited ingress permitted
5 - Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions - limited ingress permitted
6 - Protected against low pressure jets of water, limited ingress permitted (e.g. ship deck)
7 - Protected against the effect of immersion between 15cm and 1m
8 - Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure
The second thing that attracted me to this radio is the Motorola style screw in mic port. This is used for speaker mics, ear pieces and programming cables. The device slots into a groove on the side of the radio and then screws into place creating a seal between it and the radio.

Of course the downside of that is that the mics and cables I use with my other Baofengs will not work with this radio although it comes with a programming cable so that shouldn't be an issue. I'll get a microphone further down the line as I'm not a fan of the supplied ear pieces.

The unit also slips into a beltclip allowing it to be removed from your belt easily and being able to swivel 360 degrees when in use. This is a first for Baofeing. The A-58 has the above features too.

There's not alot else to report on this radio until it comes. All other features are the same and operationally there should be no difference between this radio and it's cousins the GT-3, UV-5R and UV-82. Looking forward to testing it out though.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

An International Space Station radio contact was made by Timothy Peake GB1SS with participants at St Richard’s Catholic College, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex using the call sign GB4SRC. The event took place on Monday, April 18 at approximately 14:56 GMT (3:56 pm BST).

The contact was clearly audible on 145.800 MHz FM over Western Europe. I managed to catch him for a brief window here in Manchester on my Baofeng UV-82 on its stock antenna.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK. 

54th Norbreck Rally

Myself and Roydan M0LEX went up to the 54th Annual Norbreck Radio Rally at the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool on April 10th and I was pleasently surprised at how busy it was. Lots of traders and stands, lots of visitors too.

In my excitement I forgot to take and photos or video of the inside of the rally so you'll have to make do with some poor screenshots from the little video I did record and use your imagination for the rest.

There were lots of stands there from all the big names such as M&L, Moonraker, W&S, RSGB etc and lots of club and individual stands offering the latest radio technology along with a lot of vintage gear and everything in between. There was also a bring and buy which I thought was a great idea but a lot of the stuff on it was way too overpriced for what it was hence most of it still being there at the end of the day.

This year admission was granted upon showing a yellow wristband which was a first for Blackpool rally. Admission was £5 which I thought was reasonable. The queue was massive which is always great to see. Luckily we managed to get there early and after a full English breakfast we joined the queue very close to the front.

I managed to pick up a couple of things on the day, the first being a portable kit for my Yaesu FT-290R all mode 2m QRP radio. This consisted of a metal case with an antenna adaptor, power adaptor and two power cables. It has a nylon strap and mic holder to allow the user to carry the radio round easily when operating portable. A bargain at £5 and after a clean up with some wipes and a dremel to get rid of some light surface corrosion it looked the part.

I also picked up a Standard C5800 all mode 2m radio too which I cleaned up after the below pictures were taken and it looks great in the shack and works well on SSB. Unfortunately on FM there is an issue with the tone burst. When the PTT is pressed twice in a row it activates the 1750hz tone but there is an intermittent fault which causes the tone to activate. Not too much of an issue as I got this for SSB anyway. £30.

All in all a great day Blackpool Rally and I look forward to next year!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK. 

Amateur Radio Mobile Install - TYT TH9800 Dead Again!!

 I posted a while ago that my TYT 9800 which at the time was barely out of the box had packed up on me out of the blue. When I pressed the power on button, the fan came on for a split second and went off and that's all that happened. No power to the radio at all. I checked all the fuses, cables, software, PSU, everything and I just couldn't figure out the fault!

One YouTuber commented saying that he had the same issue with his Yaesu 8900 which is basically the same radio that has been copied by TYT. He said to check the small RJ12 cable behind the front face of the radio which joins it to the main body. So as a last 'why not' attempt I swapped the cable for the separation cable provided with the radio and hey presto it worked!

The radio sprung back to life as if nothing had happened but I had to use the separation cable now as the small cable was dead. I retired the TYT from the car for about 6 months and used my Icom 207 2m/70cm transceiver instead which is my little workhorse at 20 years old.

I decided to reinstate the TYT about 3 weeks ago in the car and put the main body of the radio under the dash and the remote head on a holder in the windscreen which looked and worked great. The long wire that connected the two was hidden from view behind the dash.

I used it one night last week and stopped off for some dinner at a pub. When I came out the radio was dead! Same symptoms as last time. I whipped the radio out and put my trusty Icom back in the car and good riddance!

What an awful radio it really is. I've had nothing but issues from the start. When I press A, B, C, D, E or F buttons it wipes all my settings out. It has gone through 2 cables now and I also noticed how easily overloaded the front end gets rendering it completely useless at times. Try doing some hilltop DX with it and you'll see what I mean. Much prefer the Icom 207. I ordered a cheap cable off eBay just to confirm that it was a fault in the original and I was right. 

Anyone else had any issues with these radios? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK. 

A Walk Round Rivington - CQ CQ CQ

 I took a walk up Rivington last week and took my trusty Baofeng with me. I hoped to have some success in making some contacts but after numerous calls on S20 at different heights around the hill I gave up. Nobody seemed to be about! Either that or Winter Hill was overloading the front end of my UV-82.

I did manage a quick contact on GB3FC in Blackpool with a couple of chaps so all was not lost. I made a video for my YouTube though documenting the ramble. Weather was beautiful, scenery was beautiful and I played a bit of radio. What more could you ask for?

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

AirNav RadarBox Arrived!

In my last post I said I was waiting on an AirNav RadarBox to arrive. Well it came yesterday and I'm very impressed. This is the slightly older unit from 2009 but it works great and does what I want it to do.

The box itself is quite small and the metal casing houses the internal components of the device. It comes with a magmount antenna and a metal grounding plate which works ok on the window sill but I've mounted the antenna outside on one of my TK brackets which made for much better coverage. I do plan on raising the antenna high enough when I get time.

I plugged everything in, installed the drivers from the CD that was included in the package and it was really as simple as that! Everything worked great first time.

As you can see from the picture below, the aircraft are displayed on a map which you can centre around any location (I've picked my local airport which I live a few miles from). It shows the flight number, aircraft registration, type, altitude, speed and origin and destination.

You can split the screen in to 2 halves to be able to see a live list of aircraft displayed on the map. Some aircraft in the list aren't on the map due to the amount of data they trasmit. Many of these include military traffic which is the main reason I bought the box.

I already knew it wouldn't plot military traffic but it logs them in the database which is what I want. The left side of the screen provides a silhouette of the aircraft, airline logo and more detailed information on the plane and its flight.

The best bit for me, and the reason I bought the device is that it provides a detailed report on which aircraft have been received by it. It also shows when a particular aircraft was first picked up and when it was last received by the box. The grids log allows me to sort the database by airline, reg, type etc and also allows me to view received aircraft between two dates. The grids log also shows a picture of the aircraft where possible.

Reporter allows the user to generate a daily report of aircraft picked up which can be emailed from the programme itself to your email address.

I'm really happy with this radar box for the price. £50 is a bargain and it's a handy tool to use if you're interested in aircraft and are curious as to what's flying in the local area. You can subscribe to the network to receive data from other boxes via the internet but I prefer seeing what's local.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

AirNav RadarBox

I recently purchased an AirNav RadarBox off eBay to monitor military aircraft in the area. I've always been a fan of FlightRadar24 and PlaneFinder but the RadarBox provides additional info, doesn't rely solely on the internet and of course shows military traffic.

 I came across a 2009 edition in mint condition with supporting software, antenna and relevant cables for £50 which is a bargain and a lot cheaper that other new versions. The box decodes ADSB signals on 1090MHz and displays them in real time on the screen. I also intend to make a 1090MHz antenna for better coverage.

 I've included the Wikipedia write up below explaining the technical details:

AirNav RadarBox is a Windows PC software and hardware package which allows appropriately equipped aircraft to be seen on a simulated radar screen. A small receiver connects to the PC via USB and aircraft are detected using the small supplied antenna. By decoding ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) transmissions from aircraft, those aircraft are displayed on a computer in a similar display to that used by Air Traffic Control. 

Flight number, aircraft type, altitude, heading, speed are visible and updated every second. The RadarBox system can be used at any location, either as a stand-alone system, or connected to the Internet which allows additional functions. An internal map database provides 3D multi-window maps with worldwide coverage and geographic points which include airports, runways, VOR, NDB, Fixes, cities, roads, airways and elevation data.

When the PC running the RadarBox software is connected to the Internet, the RadarBox Network function is available. This allows viewing of data received by other RadarBox users all over the world. Network data is delayed by 5 minutes by default, but real-time Network data is also available.

The screen consists of 2 major sections, the "radar" map and the tabbed information area. The map can be scrolled and zoomed using the mouse to view any area on the Earth's surface. Aircraft symbols and associated data blocks show flight information which includes aircraft type, registration and altitude. The information area allows viewing of aircraft lists for both live and network aircraft and gives access to other functions which include Alerting and Fleetwatch displays.

I'm looking forward to testing it out! I'll do a blog post when I've got it going.

Thanks for reading!

73's, Lewis M3HHY.

Manchester, UK.