04/9/13

Repost from ae5x.com – New CW/SSB all-band QRP rig (not a kit)

X1MNot only did they take my advice and change their name from Wouxun to ImportCommunications, they have migrated down to HF.

Although I have no desire to own one it is interesting to see new rigs being developed in China. So far most of the HF rigs from various Chinese manufacturers have been kits.

Wouxun – oops, I mean ImportCommunications  – now has a $300 non-kit HF transceiver on the market and a US distributor to make it easy for us W hams to buy one.

Here’s the particulars from their website:

Frequency range RX & TX:  0.1 ~ 30 MHz*
Modes: USB, LSB, CW
Power output: 5 Watts
Operating voltage: 9.6 ~ 14.5 vdc
Operating current: 0.35 ~ 1.2 amp
Receiver Preamplifier:  Yes
Memory Channels:  100
RIT Function:  Yes
Automatic Internal CW Keyer:  Yes
Backlight
On/Off:
  Yes
Keyboard  lock:  Yes
Dimensions:   3-13/16 x 1-9/16 x 6-1/8 inches
Weight:   0.65 kg  ~  1.43 lbs
PTT Microphone:  Included

Not mentioned is the selectivity. Perhaps a perusal of the manual (available online) will answer that and other questions.

Here’s the link to the product and here is a more informative link to the US distributor.

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And coming soon:

The 6-160m “MK 2″ version:

mk2

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03/12/13

Solar Power

So with my radio down and out of service I’m looking at different things. Different things to do and different things to work on. I’m staying in the realm of ham radio or at least electronics, but my Fan Dipole is being bagged up right now. That will be finished in the spring. That way it’ll be warmer for me to actually operate since I have to open one the apartment windows anyways.

What now?

Field Day prep is what I’m thinking.

What is Field Day?

Field Day is a contest that is once a year for ham radio operators to really stretch their wings and test their gear. It’s a 24 hour op. It is a test of our ability to work our radio’s and transmitting equipment. It is a test of our smarts that we can put to together an operating station that follows the best engineering practices and is safe. What it comes down to is that we have a short amount of time to get a station up and on the air. Furthermore your mindset is that this is an emergency situation. Really it’s not supposed to be your normal shack. Lots of us go outside our homes and work off of alternative power in alternative shelters.

So what is my mission?

Alternative power. Something I can regulate and not have to depend on any other sources for power. Solar power! And batteries. There is a night time component to Field Day.

What to do? Plan and Prep.

1. Find out an average of how much current my radio uses per hour, on receive and on transmit.
2. Figure out which things beside a radio I’ll be using(Laptop, light, fans, etc…)
3. Batteries
4. Solar Panels
5. Accessories(Charge controller, voltage reg, PS’s)
6. Budget

A lot to do, even a little math.

More to come…

01/22/13

My First Ham Contest

If you read previous posts, you know this past weekend I took part in my first ham radio contest. It was the North American QSO Party. I was also trying to take part in the ARRL VHF January contest but that was fruitless, completely. Saturday afternoon about 12pm CST I started my setup. I gathered up my antenna supplies, a 20 meter home made wire dipole with a DX Engineering Alpha Delta Antenna kit. Basically it’s just a feed point and two insulators. This was going up into two tree’s outside the radio room’s window, so I also used rubber bands to lash the various pieces in place. Then I just opened the windows a smudge and feed in the coaxial feed line it’s self. This all worked really well!

By this point it’s about 12:40pm on Saturday, 20 minutes to go. I now grab my laptop put it on the desk, turn on the PS and finally radio. I’m using the NAQP program by N3FJP as my logging software. It’s simple, easy-to-use and this program is specifically made for this contest. N3FJP has a whole suite of programs for popular various contests. I had tried to get my radio to interface with Ham Radio Deluxe, but it just wasn’t having it. O well.

It’s now 15 till start time. Everything is on and charged. I tune up the antenna just to tighten everything up. Since I had extra time I tuned around and called CQ for about 13 minutes and 6 contacts so I was feeling pretty good about it. First hour 20 contacts right out of the gate. All over the north, north east, south and south eastern side of the USA and I think one Canada contact. So I take a lunch break and sit with the wife for a few and then get back at it. 26 more contacts in about an hour and a half.

This is awesome, I mean I don’t have a pile up of people looking to talk to me when I’m working CQ, but every single station that I come to that’s calling CQ I get through to. Including a pile up or two that I make it through. Remember home made antenna in a tree that’s not near as high as it should have been. I’m having a ball!

At this point I’m 4 hours into the contest, I’ve stepped away to do something for the wife. I come back and turn the radio back on and my for whatever reason my power supply takes a dump. The fan inside revs up to full speed, as does the voltage read out. It maxs! As quickly as I can I turn it off and unplug my radio from it. I put a voltmeter on the PS and 31.6 volts. AGH! So pissed.

Power Supply is a MFJ-4245MV

My nice, beautiful, expensive, new Yaesu FT-950 was over volted! Then I’m taking another reading and the POS power supply shocks me. I’m touch the metal chassis of the case and the negative terminal. I then, after my arm stops hurting, take a measurement on the chassis. 186.9 volts. At this point I go, pull out my antenna and bring it in. My contest day is over. Tomorrow, tuesday 23rd, I’m calling MFJ.

I’ve always heard the MFJ isn’t the best but I really was trying to buy from an American company. Astron

ft-950 338422

 

11/21/12

Second Operating Positon

Following my experience from Field Day 2012 I’ve been thinking. What can I do? I did help as much as I could with setup and operating, but I did not really contribute anything. So between now and the ARRL 2013 Field Day I’m trying to get things together. Being I am now a General Class operator with plenty of operating privileges I will be acquiring a HF capable transceiver. I’ve also recently gotten a mobile dual band rig. As written about previously.

What I did today was wire in a second operating position in my SUV. Version one of what I did was to simply run 2 CAT6 cables from the radio mounted area to the back of the SUV and crimped on RJ-45 connectors. I then used f-f couplers to hook everything together. This worked just fine, but had 2 flopping cables in the back. You know, flopping around. Well that was version one.


Version 2 is a little more buttoned up. I’ve maintained the same cables running to the back from the radio. Now, instead of 2 RJ-45 connectors at

 

the end of these two cables, there are two keystone sockets. One to plug microphone and one for the control head. This way the look i cleaner and a little more flexible interface. To house all this I picked up a slim electrical box. I put some 3M Velcro strips to hold it in place. And finally I simply mounted my keystones in a 6 port face plate. See the keystones you buy with various sockets and plugs are a universal square snap in fit.

Why go through the trouble you ask? Well as I mentioned I’m doing this in preparation for Field Day. I imagine myself sitting in a chair working my radios from the car. This is so I can go flip the two cables and plug up to setup a station in the back. That simple. I don’t have to un-mount the radio, find power in the back, plug everything in and then be on the air. 1 minute and I’m going. I would love to find some switching device that would let me jump back and forth without having to go to the radio and switch cables.

What do I have left? Well not much if I’m honest. Directly for this project I need audio in the back. 2 speakers. Specifically the MFJ 281 ClearTone Speaker. What I’m planning on doing is fabbing up a bracket to mount the speaker right inside the SUV to the roof. I’ll setup an audio switch of some kind to send it to the back and I’ll have either 1/8 jack keystones or

10/8/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in Dodge Nitro, Continued Part 3 – Mounting and Assembly

IMG_20121004_120147

IMG_20121005_155938

What I decided to do. The remote control head would be velcro-ed the a ledge on the dash. This ledge is slightly angled so that the display is angled upward for best viewing. I also have it rotated ever so slightly to even further improve the viewing angle.(Figure 5 & 6)

Next, where to mount the body of the radio? What I came up with is under the front passenger seat, towards the back. With the contours in the floor pan and the rear bench seat the way it is, this is really, I think my best option. One day if I feel adventurous I may mount it under that bench, but not today.

IMG_20121005_155925IMG_20120920_172933The radio mounting bracket started life as a small piece of 22 gauge steel I found on the side of the road. 22 gauge, how do I know? The sticker was still on it. This was crudely bent by hand to mostly mate up with the curves and contours of the floor. It mostly does. To attach my bracket in a permanent manner I left enough metal to drill a hole and use a seat bolt to hold it down.(Figure 7, 8 & 9) The pressure of the seat holds it firmly.


Now running the wire out from the radio over to the center console, which can be seen in figure 7 & 8. I then ran it through the center console all the way to the front. Up behind the dash and out where the knee panel meets the speed cluster surround.(figure 5 & 6, at the top)Using the factory Kenwood radio mount as a guide, I drilled 4 holes in the sheet metal. Then I bolted it together.

Basically this is all to my mobile installation. There’s a few extra pictures I’ll share here at the bottom.

I’ll write up my external speaker setup later.

IMG_20121005_192807 IMG_20121005_155947 IMG_20121005_155938

10/5/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in Dodge Nitro, Continued Part 2 – Disassembly

To continue with with my previous post about my mobile installation of my Kenwood TM-V71A dualband. So we are done figuring out the logistics of actually setup up the remote head. Now on to my method of mounting.

As mentioned I’m driving a Dodge Nitro SUV. I initially thought that this mobile install was going to be a pain. Actually it’s not remotely difficult. Getting power into the cabin from the battery is super easy, opening up the dash is super easy, as is the center console and mounting both parts is easy.
gauges

Looking at the image to the left, figure 2, you see a picture of a Dodge Nitro dash. With the battery of the SUV being on the left side, drivers side, that is where I focused my efforts in wiring.

Looking at the image to the left, figure 2, you see the speedo cluster, the knee panel, radio area and center console.
6686_st0320_087
1. I failed to snap a picture of the removal of the speed cluster dash area. But it is as follows. Lower the steering wheel all the way down. Firmly grasp the top most forward plastic and pull back towards yourself.

2. Two remove the knee panel that is below the steering wheel. The the top plastic edge of the knee panel exposed, firmly grasp and pull down with even force. Doesn’t take much at all. Only two clip hold up the hinged panel. Once it has hinged down as far as it will, slide the panel 3 inches to the left and it comes off.
IMG_20120920_172933
3. If you look at the shifter there in the front middle off the console.(Figure 3) You see the frame that looks like brushed metal. It is plastic so go easy. If you are in this truck looking down at it, you notice a gap between the shift base and this faux metal area. Insert  tips of your fingers and pull up gently. It helps to engage the ebreak.

4. Next if your sitting in the back seat looking a the rear of the center console near the floor you’ll see that the back cover is one piece. Very easy, just grasp it and pull slightly. I’ve included a picture with it removed as I don’t have one from before. (Figure 4)
IMG_20120920_172912

5. Lastly after popping the hood move to the drivers side, near the brake master cylinder. Look on the firewall under the brake master cylinder and to the right near the fender. In this area there are two pass troughs on the firewall. On my vehicle one is fully in use from the factory but the over merely looks like a rubber plug. Pull the out the plug. No tools needed, it just pulls out. Don’t those it.

Disassembly Complete.
To be continued…

Continued in Post 3: Mounting and Assembly

10/4/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in a Dodge Nitro

This write up is on an installation of a Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band VHF & UHF mobile amateur radio into a Dodge Nitro SUV. The Kenwood TM-V71A radio is a modern radio with remote control head capability. Technically a remote head kit available from Kenwood is required to take advantage of this feature, but in reality this isn’t true. The remote kit certainly will make your installation easier. The kit would include a adapter and bracket to attach the head to and the specialized cables to hook the head to the body. The basic remote kit only includes an extended cable for the head to radio, no extension for mic to radio. There is an extended remote kit available that I believe has the basics, plus a extended mic and power cable adapters.

With that said, here is how I did it. If you take a look at the small cable that hooks the remote head to the body when they are hooked together you will see that one end is a RJ-45connector(standard ethernet connection) and the other end is a slim RJ-12 connector. Similar to a telephone line(same wiring), but about 1/4 thinner. Then at the termination of the mic cable you’ll see that the connection is also a RJ-45 connector. These two RJ-45 connections are standard size. So to extend this to connections I acquired two RJ-45 male to male couplers, as scene in figure 1.

I should mention I looked for a couple days for this special RJ-12 cable with no luck. I could have fabricated something up, but my method is easier.

To complete all these extended connections here’s what you will need:

  1. 2x RJ-45 couplers
  2. 2x Ethernet Cables(for efficiency’s sake, short as possible)
  3. 2x Ferrite Choke(Optional)

Step 1. Plug a coupler onto each ethernet cable
Step 2. Plug an ethernet cable into the head and into the microphone plug
Step 3. Plug the appropriate end of the include head wire into your extension
Step 4. Make your mic connections

Now this is an optional step but in the kit you can see that cable has a ferrite choke to keep RF emissions traveling down your remote cable. I ordered two from Mouser. I’m going to do it.

***Found these specifically fitted for CAT5 cable***
http://www.iautomate.com/products/Ferrite-Chokes-for-RFID-CAT5-Installations.html

Continued in Post 2:Disassembly