Thursday, 27 August 2015

28/70MHz transverter by Richard G6AKG .


I've finished my 28/70MHz transverter, later than I would have liked but I've been busy with other things.



Good news is a nice clean 12W output on 70MHz, with the second harmonic 40 dB down. Other sprogs noted at 84MHz are better than 40dB down too. The receive sensitivity is similar to that of the drive transceiver on 28MHz. However, there is a slight frequency skew in transversion of 6kHz but I can live with that for now.



Thanks to Serge UT5JCW of the Transverter Shop for his prompt help with technical queries.



So what next? Tackle putting LSB mode on PRS 320 manpack transceiver or finishing my QRP 30m beacon?
Added extras besides the two DPDT relays are the 30dB power attenuator on the left and small PCB, at the bottom of the picture, which is an RF activated switch option for the change over relay. The diecast box is an original Eddystone type purchased cheaply at a QRP Rally and the heat sink is from a scrapped single PCB industrial computer.

IRTS 70 MHz Continents, Countries and Islands (70 MHz CCI) Award Programme.


DEFINITIONS:
For the purposes of this document describing the 70 MHz CCI award programme the following terms shall have the following meanings.
“WAC”: means ‘Worked All Continents’, an award programme of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) which recognises amateur radio achievements in respect of communications with amateur stations located in the six continents of the world.
“DXCC”: means ‘DX Century Club’, an award programme of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) which recognises amateur radio achievements in respect of communications with listed territories and entities around the world.
“DXCC Entity”: means an entry in the current DXCC list of territories and locations.
“IOTA”: means ‘Islands On The Air’, an award programme of the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) which recognises amateur radio achievements in respect of communications with listed island groups around the world.
“IOTA Reference”: means an island group within the IOTA programme.
GENERAL IRTS issues CCI certificates to amateur radio stations around the world concerning international amateur radio communications in the 4m band.
The purpose of the CCI award programme developed by Dave Court, EI3IO is to recognise and promote DX achievements by amateur radio operators licensed to use frequencies in the range 69 – 74 MHz, (4 metres). In general the 4m band is limited to a relatively small but growing number of countries, mainly in Region 1 (Europe, Africa and the Middle East) and Region 2 (North America) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 4m stations are or have been active in over 50 territories in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
A second objective is to stimulate an interest in the 4m band in countries which are not authorised to transmit in the range 69 – 74 MHz, by encouraging cross-band working to frequencies in the vicinity of 50.285 MHz and 28.885 MHz, which are recognised centres of cross-band activity.
IRTS reserves the right to amend the qualification criteria for the three levels of CCI award.
AWARD:
Three award levels, CCI, CCI century and CCI century plus are offered, based on the number of points obtained through:
In band two-way working of amateur and associated experimental radio stations located in continents, countries and islands in the 4m band or
Cross band working of amateur and associated experimental radio stations located in continents, countries and islands in the 4m band by two way in-band working, and for stations not authorised to use 4m, cross-band working to 4m from 6m or 10m, or a combination of cross-band and in-band working.
The awards will be designated In-Band or Cross-Band.
QUALIFICATION:
Qualification for a CCI award is based on an examination of a log extract and accompanying certification by the IRTS Awards Manager, which certifies that the applicant has made 70 MHz QSOs with amateur stations in the required number of continents, countries and islands. All log extracts must show the mode, must mention the 4m or 70 MHz band and if a cross-band QSO, in addition 6m (50 MHz) or 10m (28 MHz). Furthermore, the log extract must clearly show the DXCC entity and applicable IOTA reference, if an island. The following information should be helpful in determining the continent of a station located adjacent to a continental boundary. North America includes Greenland (OX). Asia includes, Cyprus (5B, ZC4). Europe includes the Azores (CU). Africa includes the Canary Islands (EA8), Ceuta & Melilla (EA9), Italian Islands (IH9 & IG9) and Madeira (CT3).
The rules for obtaining the award build on existing awards (WAC, DXCC and IOTA).
Point System1 2
A combination of WAC continents, DXCC countries and IOTA island groups which are not in the DXCC country list in their own right form the basis of the award. A continent is valid for 10 points (once only), an IOTA island reference which is not listed as a DXCC entity is valid for 2 points and a DXCC entity is valid for 1 point.
Example 1 An applicant works MJ3ABC (Island of Jersey) in IOTA reference EU-013. If this was the first European station worked 10 points would be gained as well as 1 point for Jersey (DXCC entity 122); a total of 11 points. As Jersey is already in the DXCC list its status as IOTA EU-013 is not applicable.
If MJ3ABC had been located on Les Minquiers Islands in IOTA reference EU-099, which is not in addition a named DXCC entity, stations working MJ3ABC would gain 2 points as an IOTA reference, plus another 10 points if this was the first QSO with the European continent.
Example 2 An applicant works OZ9XYZ located near Billund in Jutland (Jylland). Jutland is connected to the European mainland so it can count as 1 point for Denmark (DXCC entity 221).
If OZ9XYZ had been located in Copenhagen on the island of Sjaelland, IOTA reference EU-029 it would count for 2 points, even though Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark.
1 The Azores has 3 IOTA references and is a single DXCC entity. For the purposes of the CCI award EU-003 will be considered as the DX entity and will count as 1 point for the Azores. IOTA References EU-175 and EU-089 will count for 2 points. The criteria invoked here is EU-003 hosts the Azore’s principal city.
2 Cape Verde has 2 IOTA references and is a single DXCC entity. For the purposes of the CCI award AF-005 will be considered as the DX entity and will count as 1 point for Cape Verde. IOTA Reference AF-086 will count for 2 points. The criteria invoked here is AF-005 hosts Cape Verde’s capital city.
Two other examples are provided in footnotes 1 and 2. In the case of query concerning the points applicable to any territory please contact the IRTS Awards Manager ( Awards at irts.ie ).
Points required for CCI awards
For the 70 MHz CCI in-band basic award 50 points are required, 65 for a cross-band award.
For the 70 MHz CCI in-band century award 100 points are required, 115 for a cross-band award.
For the 70 MHz CCI in-band century plus award 130 points are required, 145 for a cross-band award.
A 70 MHz CCI century plus award can also be endorsed for additional entities worked in steps of 20 e.g. +20, +40, +60 etc.
It is of course possible for stations licensed to transmit in the 4m band to hold both cross-band and in-band CCI awards.
QSO VALIDATION3:
A claim for an in-band or cross-band CCI Award and additional endorsements to a Century Plus award must be accompanied by a certified log extract (see below), to include date, time, frequency (in the case of a cross-band award), mode, station worked and claimed Continent and/or Country and/or Island.
CONDUCT:
All QSOs must be made with licensed amateur stations working in the authorised 4m allocation within the frequency range 69 – 74 MHz or with other stations licensed or authorised to communicate with amateur radio stations. Contacts made through repeaters or satellite transponders are not permitted for CCI credit. However Earth-moon-Earth (EME) QSOs are acceptable. In addition: All 4m operations should take place in accordance with the regulations pertaining in that jurisdiction. All stations contacted must be located on land. QSOs with maritime mobile and aeronautical mobile stations cannot be credited. All stations must be contacted from the same DXCC entity. All confirmations must be submitted exactly as received by the applicant.
It is a condition of the CCI award that the person applying unreservedly agrees: To observe all pertinent regulatory requirements for amateur radio in the country or countries concerned. To observe all rules applying to the CCI award process. To accept the decisions of the IRTS awards manager.
APPLICATIONS:
All applications shall be made electronically. An email shall be sent to the Awards Manager ( Awards at irts.ie ) which clearly indicates the category of in-band or cross-band CCI award requested (e.g. Basic, Century or Century Plus or endorsements to a Century Plus award) and the number of claimed continents, applicable IOTA references and DXCC entities to qualify for the award. The email address of the applicant should also accept incoming emails in case of a query. A log extract, shall be attached to the email certified as a correct extract from the claimant's log by an officer of a Radio Club or by two licensed radio amateurs. The log extract should also include details of the Continents, Islands and DXCC entities claimed
3 You may wish to ensure confirmations also include a QTH/Grid Locator as a 4m squares (MLA) award is also available.
for each QSO. The certification of the log extract may be attached to the email as a JPEG image of a scanned document.
Please address all correspondence and inquiries relating to CCI awards and all applications to the Awards Manager ( Awards at irts.ie )
FEES:

There are currently no charges levied for the issue of CCI awards and endorsements.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Slim Jim and J-Pole calculator by John M3UKD.






The Slim Jim can be a great portable ‘roll up’ antenna, if made out of 300Ω or 450Ω ladder line / twin feeder. Add a loop of string to the top, and hang it on a tree branch, use it with your handheld transceiver, then roll it up and put it in your pocket when done! A Slim Jim for 2m (145MHz) will be 1.5 metres long, and 70cm (433MHz) will be 0.5 metres. Alternatively, for permanent installations, the copper tube or aluminium J-pole is a good choice. I have had good success with both, but regularly use the balanced feeder Slim Jim mounted on a 9m fibreglass pole, as can be seen in the photo at the bottom of the page.

It is recommended to use some sort of choke at the feedpoint. Around 6 close turns (for VHF) of the coaxial cable around a 40mm former (PVC pipe etc), or taped up and hung freely should be enough. I have also used a clip on ferrite for VHF. As with any balanced feed antenna, this will help prevent the braid of the coaxial cable from radiating, and becoming part of the antenna, and therefore affecting SWR and performance. The 6 turns is tested as adequate for VHF operation (145MHz) More may be needed lower down in frequency.

The spacing between elements, I have shown as 45mm on 2 metres. This is not critical. It will have some effect on where the 50Ω feed point is, but i’m sure you’ll find it! ‘D’ and ‘F’ work together in the calculations above. The critical lengths are B, C, and E then adjust the feedpoint to find a perfect match. Ignore B and E if building the "J pole".

*Velocity Factor: I have added the ability to select the velocity factor of your conductor. It is set by default to 0.96, which is for bare copper or bare aluminium. If you use balanced feeder such as 300Ω or 450Ω, adjust it to 0.91 (or set to the cable manufacturers specification if available).

50Ω feed point: The 50Ω feed point varies between the Slim Jim and the J-Pole. A Slim Jim has a higher feed impedance, due to it being a ‘folded dipole’, therefore it will be lower down. I have included a 50Ω feedpoint value for both the Slim Jim and the J-Pole, however, it really is a starting point and should be adjusted up and down until you get a 1.1 SWR with your antenna. You could even use a 4:1 coax balun and feed it higher up the matching section.

I made one for 4m (70MHz) which is 3 metres long. The quarter wave matching section can be made horizontal, with the half wave radiator section vertical, 90° to it if space is an issue, although this will affect radiation pattern slightly. Just remember the whole antenna needs to be in the clear, away from any objects, especially conductive objects!
So, how does this thing work?
Dipole Voltage Animation
Full Wave
The Slim Jim, similar to the J-pole, is in fact a half wave end fed dipole, in the Slim Jim’s case, an end fed folded dipole. As with all folded dipoles, the currents in each leg are in phase, whereas in the matching stub they in phase opposition, so little or no radiation occurs from the matching section. You may think how can you say this is a dipole, when its just one element? Well, contrary to popular belief, the dipole is so named because it has two electrical poles, not two physical poles. Wouldn’t that be a di-element!? Just like a magnet has two magnetic poles, a North and a South, we have two electrical poles, a Positive and a Negative. Being a half wave, there is always two opposite poles on the tips at each half cycle. Any half wave antenna is actually a dipole.
To help explain this, I have drawn on the left, what happens to the voltage on a half wave element during one cycle. You can see, there are 2 poles, one positive and one negative at each half cycle. Hence, ‘dipole’. As its a half wave element, the wave is opposite at each end. Unlike the full wave example on the right, where the wave will join up if you imagine placing it on top of itself.
Hopefully, this explains things, and shows that the Slim Jim is actually a half wave dipole. A dipole, is usually fed from the centre, where the impedance is about 70Ω. This provides a reasonable match to 50Ω coaxial cable, and is why the centre fed dipole is so widely used. A dipole can be fed anywhere along its radiator, for example, the windom is ‘off centre’ fed at the 200Ω point, and an end fed half wave will give a very high impedance of up to around 5000Ω.
Feedpoint
So, we are feeding this half wave antenna from a high impedance point, which needs to be matched to 50Ω
coaxial cable, and is where the ‘J Integrated Matching’ (JIM) quarter wave matching section (λ/4) comes in. With the Slim Jim, you have the option to select the exact impedance you want, typically 50Ω. With the centre fed dipole, you have an impedance of around 68Ω, and usually the antenna is slightly detuned, to bring it down to 50Ω. The matching section is just that, and does not radiate significantly. Radiation starts from the beginning of the half wave section, to the tip of the antenna, so although the whole antenna is 3/4λ long, it is just a half wave radiator. The matching section does radiate a very small amount, due to the impedance’s at the top of the matching sections being not identical. This is because one is open (where the gap is) and the other is the feed for the radiating section. This means the two waves don’t completley phase each other out, and therefore some small radiation will occur. This is no significant problem, they are both high impedance, high voltage, low current points.
The 50Ω point can be found once you have built the antenna to the correct dimensions. Have the antenna out in the open, then move the feedpoint up and down small amounts, and when a 1:1 SWR is found, fix them there. An example of what the different impedance points may look like are shown on the image to the left. The calculator above will give you a good starting point, although spacing between the elements, velocity factor and other differences will have an effect on where this actually is.
Although the antenna is a half wave end fed, it will perform better than a half wave ground plane, due to its lower angle of radiation.
Dave M0TAZ using a 450Ω feeder Slim Jim on 70MHz.
I hope this has been of help to you. If you decide to build this antenna, I’d like to know what you think of it. Please leave a comment! Thanks, 73 John.

IRTS 70 MHz Maidenhead Locator Award (MLA) programme.


DEFINITIONS:
For the purposes of this document describing the 70 MHz Maidenhead Locator Award (MLA) programme the following terms shall have the following meanings.
“Maidenhead Locator (Locator)”: means the first four characters of the six character geographic coordinate system originally devised by Dr. John Morris, G4ANB, and approved by a group of IARU R1 VHF managers at a meeting in Maidenhead, England in1980. Maidenhead locators are also referred to as QTH Locators, Grid Locators or Grid Squares.
GENERAL IRTS issues MLA certificates to amateur radio stations around the world concerning international amateur radio communications in the 4m band.
The purpose of the MLA programme developed by Dave Court, EI3IO is to recognise and promote DX achievements by amateur radio operators licensed to use frequencies in the range 69 – 74 MHz, (4 metres). In general the 4m band is limited to a relatively small but growing number of countries, mainly in Region 1 (Europe, Africa and the Middle East) and Region 2 (North America) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). 4m stations are or have been active in over 50 territories in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
A second objective is to stimulate an interest in the 4m band in countries which are not authorised to transmit in the range 69 – 74 MHz, by encouraging cross-band working to frequencies in the vicinity of 50.285 MHz and 28.885 MHz, which are recognised centres of cross-band activity.
IRTS reserves the right to amend the qualification criteria for the three levels of MLA award.
AWARD:
Three MLA levels are available, the entry grade Half Century award, the Century award and the Double Century award are offered, based on the number of confirmed communication with stations in different Maidenhead locators by:
In band two-way working of amateur and associated experimental radio stations in the 4m band or Cross band working of amateur and associated experimental radio stations in the 4m band by two way in-band working, and for stations not authorised to use 4m, cross-band working to 4m from 6m or 10m, or a combination of cross-band and in-band working.
The awards will be designated In-Band or Cross-Band.
QUALIFICATION:
Qualification for a MLA is based on an examination of a log extract and accompanying certification by the IRTS Awards Manager, which certifies that the applicant has made 70 MHz QSOs with amateur stations in the required number of Maidenhead Locators. All log extracts must show the mode, must mention the 4m or 70 MHz band and if a cross-
band QSO, in addition 6m (50 MHz) or 10m (28 MHz). Furthermore, the log extract must clearly show the Maidenhead Locator claimed in its 4 or 6 character form.
Requirements for MLA Awards
For the 70 MHz MLA in-band Half Century award, communicating with stations in 50 locators is required, 75 for a cross-band award.
For the 70 MHz MLA in-band Century award, communicating with stations in 100 locators is required, 125 for a cross-band award.
For the 70 MHz MLA in-band Double Century award, communicating with stations in 200 locators are required, 250 for a cross-band award.
A Double Century Award can also be endorsed for additional locators worked in steps of 50 e.g. 250, 300, 350 etc.
It is of course possible for stations licensed to transmit in the 4m band to hold both cross-band and in-band MLA awards.
QSO VALIDATION:
A claim for all in-band or cross-band MLA awards and additional endorsements to a Double Century award must be accompanied by a certified log extract (see below), to include date, time, frequency (in the case of a cross-band award), mode, station worked and Maidenhead locator.
CONDUCT:
All QSOs must be made with licensed amateur stations working in the authorised 4m allocation within the frequency range 69 – 74 MHz or with other stations licensed or authorised to communicate with amateur radio stations. Contacts made through repeaters or satellite transponders are not permitted for MLA credit. However Earth-moon-Earth (EME) QSOs are acceptable. In addition: All 4m operations should take place in accordance with the regulations pertaining in that jurisdiction. All stations contacted must be located on the surface of the Earth. QSOs with aeronautical mobile stations cannot be credited. Stations located in ‘wet Maidenhead Locators’ by means of stations located on off-shore platforms or maritime-mobile stations installed on boats, ships or other floating objects can be credited. All stations must be contacted from the same locator.
It is a condition of the MLA award that the person applying unreservedly agrees: To observe all pertinent regulatory requirements for amateur radio in the country or countries concerned. To observe all rules applying to the MLA award process. To accept the decisions of the IRTS awards manager.
APPLICATIONS:
All applications shall be made electronically. An email shall be sent to the Awards Manager ( Awards at irts.ie ) which clearly indicates the category of in-band or cross-band award required (e.g. Half Century, Century, Double Century or endorsements to a Double Century award) and the number of claimed Maidenhead Locators to qualify for the award. The email address of the applicant should also accept incoming emails in case of a query. A log extract, shall be attached to the email certified as a correct extract from the claimant's log by an officer of a Radio Club or by two licensed radio amateurs. The log extract should also
include the Maidenhead Locator claimed for each QSO. The certification of the log extract may be attached to the email as a JPEG image of a scanned document.
Please address all correspondence and inquiries relating to MLA awards and all applications to the Awards Manager ( Awards at irts.ie )
FEES:

There are currently no charges levied for the issue of MLA awards and endorsements.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Alinco or Anytone??

Recently I bought an Anytone AT-588 70Mhz radio, now these radios have been on the market for a while now and are very popular.
Having 50 watts out on high power and a bigger brighter display than it's older brother the Anytone AT-5189,which I owned since December 2010 and served me well.
The new one has a signal meter which I have been missing out in the shack.
I know that there are many ex-pmr radios out there which have signal meters such as the Philips FM-1000 range, the Simoco SRM with the 9030 head,have one in my car!!! and I even got a digital signal meter to operate on the Simoco PRM-8030's, this shows digits "00" to "99" and 00 being the lowest and 99 being full scale!!!

Some local hams who are not familiar with the new Anytone AT-588 4m radio I bought and have been asking me how best to describe it and I always say it resembles an Alinco in it's layout and menu.
I had a look online and came across some Alinco photos (as I do not own an Alinco), below you will see comparative pictures of the Alinco and the Anytone.

I cannot compare the technical differences between them but just the physical similarities:
ALINCO DR-438 Front Panel (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
ANYTONE AT-588 Front Panel (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
Above you can see the Alinco and the Anytone, the button layout IS different but the chassis is the same, right down to the yellow sticker on the top!!


ALINCO DR-438 Circuit (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
ANYTONE AT-588 Circuit (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
ALINCO (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
ANYTONE (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
Above you will see the internal circuit boards of the two radios, I kid you not!!!! The top one is from the Alinco and the bottom one is from the Anytone. Also there is a "code" etched on to the circuit boards of both radios, these codes are on the boards at the back of the radios to the left of the antenna socket.
I have also enlarged the pictures of the codes and as you can see they are very similar indeed!!

Below are two pictures of the rear of the radios, again identical, right down to the threaded hole in the middle of the heatsink....
ALINCO DR-438 Heatsink (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
ANYTONE AT-588 Heatsink (CLICK TO ENLARGE).
So there you have it, make your own mind up on them, but I think that the Anytone company must have purchased a batch of chassis and circuit boards to use on their own radios from Alinco...





4m antenna dipole i nGaeilge .


Sa lá atá inniu , a tógadh mé deireadh a dipole λ ½ do 4m . Bhí mé roimhe seo ag baint úsáide as a fillte ½ λ dipole déanta as 450Ω friothálacha cothrom , ar fionraí sa lochta , nach atá oiriúnach . Tá mé mhealladh taobh amuigh ar an díon agus an cuaille a bhí an dá úsáideadh roimhe do mo 2m / 70cm comh - líneach , atá athlonnaithe , mar sin aon uair amháin a tógadh é , bhí sé simplí go leor chun a chur ar bun .

Bhí mé ag smaoineamh faoi thógáil deireadh chothaithe ar dipole leath tonn , a bhfuil roimhe tógadh ' fréamhshamhail ' a d'oibrigh go maith . Éilíonn seo alt meaitseála ag bun , ach níl aon lámh borradh ag teastáil . Shíl mé freisin faoi caol jim / J - cuaille , ach bheadh an fad iomlán a bheith 3 méadar . Mar sin , chinn mé dul le hionad λ ½ dipole chothaithe iontaobhach . Tógadh mé é ag baint úsáide as dhá 1 faid mhéadar feadán alúmanam 6mm , agus tá gach foircinn taobh istigh de bosca leictreach uiscedhíonach . Inside , chuir mé chomh maith le balun choke bhréagfainn , atá tógtha as píosa 25mm de phíobáin , le 11 casadh de RG58 bhréagfainn fillte timpeall air .


Taobh istigh sa bhosca uiscedhíonach:




Balun choke comhaiseach:





Cheap mé go raibh mé in ann Baile Átha Troim le beagán ó na heilimintí 1m , ach nuair a chuir mé é ar an cuaille , léirigh an anailíseoir an VSWR is ísle de 1 : 1 ag beagáinín 70MHz , mar sin d'fhág mé iad mar siad! An rud amháin mé dearmad go raibh go féin téip a chónascadh ar fud an PL - 259 breiseán tar éis a chur go léir mo uirlisí ar shiúl! Gach críochnaithe anois cé.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Simple comparison of the Ascom SE550/Philips FM1200 By Andy GJ7JHF.

PHILIPS FM1200:




This page is just for a very simple comparison of the Philips/Simoco FM1200 (a particular model number within the FM1000 range - very confusing!) against the other common 4m (70MHz) radio available these days, the Ascom SE550. Both radios are ex-PMR conversions that require external speakers.

The owner has stuck on the labels A to H in an effort to make it easier to use with the manual. I have taken the chance to photograph the radio while the radio is currently with me. The owner has let me play with it for a week or two while he's away, so that I can turn off the loud beeps it had as supplied, and other annoyances set by mistake.

ASCOM SE550:







At 182 W x 58 H x 250 D (mm), the FM1200 is 3 mm taller, 12mm wider, and considerably larger backwards than the Ascom by some 75mm (complicated by protruding knob and sockets). The FM1200 has an LCD display which I suspect (just a suspicion!) may have a longer life than the light-emitting one on the Ascom. Time will tell. Mind you, the back-light bulb will probably go first.



The FM1200 has a rotary volume control, which is a digital affair that switches between fixed levels.

The FM1200 has a signal meter, which is the main operating advantage over the Ascom. Tuning with the up and down buttons takes you all the way down to 0 MHz and then wraps around to 299.975, and you may enter any frequency in this range too. While it would be nice to punch in a 2m channel, 51.51 or 29.6 sadly (as you'd expect!) you're not going to be able to receive anything in most of this range, let alone transmit there. A quick scoot about with the signal genenerator revealed that reception of any sort at all is going to be limited to the high 60s to very early 90s (MHz).


The FM1200 has a physical (clicking) on/off switch which is a good and positive, but there's a loud thunk on the speaker when it's first switched on. This probably means it doesn't draw any power when off, whereas the Ascom does draw a small amount and needs just the right quick press to switch on (but at least there's no clunk).

Apart from that the differences in use are minor, as they both use variants of the same software and it's very similar to program the various settings through the same menus and submenus. The green button H is used for this, along with 0 and #.

Once the beeps are turned off and other settings are to your liking, you'll probably only use buttons C and D to go down and up the channels (why not E and F that are actually labelled with + and - ?!), and F to jump back to the calling channel. # would be used for reverse repeater shift. If you bother with memories, then * would be used for scanning, and G for switching between VFO and Memory Mode.

Sensitivity seems very similar. Without any 4m activity over here it's hard to compare the two in Real Life, but on a web forum G7IVR reports that in his opinion the Icom E90 is more sensitive than either of them, then the FM1200 beats the Ascom. I keep an open mind considering how one radio (even the same model) may vary from the next due to the alignments. He may have a good example of an FM1200 and a poorly aligned Ascom. I would expect a commercial amateur radio to outperform a PMR radio because I don't believe mobile PMR radios are required to be fabulously sensitive due the users requirements - the coverage area is usually well served by a well sited base antenna. The usual design compromise is probably weighted more towards handling strong signals gracefully without overloading, whereas amateur radio manufacturers know they have to make their kit as sensitive as possible to keep the fussy hams happy - with the usual result being that they overload way too easily. You can't have both!

I decided to try a sensitivity test. This was complicated at first because with a dipole connected the FM1200's S-meter jumped up some way due to all the noisy RF mush from a whole host of nearby computers. There's no point testing sensitivity unless your location is quiet (low background RF levels) as almost any halfway decent FM receiver is likely to be much the same as any other at picking out a signal among a high noise level. However, connecting a random length piece of COAX (an old network cable) to the FM1200 showed no change in signal level (and no change in sound with the squelch off) from having nothing connected. By placing the far end of the cable on my signal generating device (something putting out a low clean carrier on 70.45) I got a good quiet signal. I then moved the cable about 6" away from the signal generator until it was like a very noisy weak signal that would have been right on the limits on usable reception if it had been modulated. This was very stable, could be verified easily be turning the device on and off, and didn't change in level at all as I moved around the radios and unplugged the lead into both radios to compare. And the conclusion was that both radios resolved this week half-quietened signal equally well, the difference in noise levels between being connected or not sounded the same on both the FM1200 and the Ascom. That's as scientific as it gets with the facilities at my disposal at the time, but I'm happy enough that my Ascom is on a par with the borrowed FM1200. (bear in mind that 70MHz (like 50MHz) is apparently a lot noisier than 145MHz and 433MHz, so you'll probably get an increase in noise levels when you connect your antenna anyway unless you're lucky to live in a good quiet area)

Modulation and TX audio quality are very different, on the stock microphones as supplied with the radios. I transmitted on both to a friend with a receiver, and I had my Ascom audio reported very favourably as loud, full, and clear. On the FM1200 I was "thin and quiet and mouse-like". A lot of this may be due to the deviations being set for 12.5kHz v 25kHz channel bandwidths, but I'd need to do further testing. I prefer to be heard well, especially as I'm often told I'm too quiet, so the Ascom scores here for me. If anyone says I'm too loud I'll just talk further away from the microphone. This is far better than chewing the thing and still worrying whether you can be heard or not!

So personally I prefer the Ascom so far, because I can be heard, it's smaller, and looks nicer in my opinion, but it may be simply because I got to know that radio first before I clapped eyes on the other one! Size is important though, the Ascom seems small enough that I could easily keep one in a bag and take it out in the car once in a while - whereas the FM1200 is so much bulkier and heavier it really could make that borderline difference as to whether I would bother or not. An S-meter would have been nice on the Ascom though :o)

The FM1200 is still available from:
www.norcall.co.uk
www.tetra.tv
www.ebay.co.uk

Some more links for you :
www.pa4den.nl/fm1200.html (PDF manual)
www.pa1mt.nl/fm1200-1100.html
www.jrc.co.uk/PMR/FM1000/ 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FM1000series

Sorry I can't help with any queries - for technichal questions please try the Yahoo group above, or www.70mhz.org

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Double Vision!!!!!


No you do not have double vision nor am I getting greedy by getting a second one of these low priced 4m Anytone radios...
This is for another local ham but in the meantime I get to compare the receive signals on the two radios on very different antennas, one radio is on my Sirio 5/8 wave vertical tuned for 4m at about 35 feet, the other is a commercial folded Di-pole (66-88Mhz) at about 20 feet.  
Needless to say the Sirio  works a heck of a lot better on RX than the Di-pole on 4m but the Di-pole is far better on RX on the 80 to 88 Mhz in receive.
It is strange to see the different signals between the 2 antennas, you would expect to see a "similar" signal as the distance between them should surely have helped... the higher non tuned antenna VS the lower tuned Di-pole...

Saturday, 15 August 2015

4m Activity today.

I really must get myself back up and running on 4m SSB, I feel that I am missing all the fun. I think that I will be saving all my pennies or asking for a special pressie for my birthday later on in the year or even Christmas.....
Here is my hint for you Santa!!!!

SPECTRUM COMMUNICATIONS TRC4-2



The PRM80 series of radios.


These are more modern day units (circa 1989) which offer a plethora of features all customisable with software, remote head or single piece units, 10, 64, 100 or 200 channel units, and trunking variants were available, too.  Alphanumeric channel names were available on one model, the 8040.  All this in a radio that is somewhat smaller & lighter than the FM900, modern-day styling, highly interference resistant and very sensitive to weak signals.  The PRM80 series of radios have been replaced by the Simoco 9000 series radios, though the PRM80 series continues to be supported.

The PRM80 family consists of:

*PRM8010 - a local mount only, 10 channel version with a single digit display (two digits for the trunked version) and only four function buttons, CTCSS and fixed SelCall system.
Was also known as Mobria R20 in Scandinavian countries.
*PRM8020 - a local mount only, 64 channel version with 4 digit display, eight function buttons, CTCSS and variable SelCall system, and scanning
Was also known as Mobria R21 in Scandinavian countries.
*PRM8025 - a local mount only, 100 channel version with 6 digit display, eight function buttons, CTCSS and variable SelCall system, and scanning and voting
*PRM8030 - a remote mount, 100 channel version with either 4 digit remote head or optional 6 digit remote head, eight function buttons, CTCSS and variable SelCall system, DTMF and scanning and voting
*PRM8030 Dual Mode - same as the PRM8030, but additionally can have two trunking networks programmed in (the trunked network feature is not much use to us hobbyists, even for receive only, since the unit must 'register' with the network)
*SRM8038 - like the PRM8040 (and uses the same main unit) with an alphanumeric display with keypad, similar but slightly fewer features, more modern styling.
*PRM8040 - a remote mount, 200 channel version, with alpha-numeric display remote head, function & full keypad built in, CTCSS and variable SelCall with memory list, DTMF, scanning and voting.  Top of the line PMR unit, produced only in Australia
*PRM8041 Dual Mode - same as the PRM8040, but can have trunking networks programmed in as well as the PMR channels.
UK models:
*8060 Band 3 (175-220MHz) trunked visually identical to 8010
*8070 ditto 8060 but like 8020
*8061 data mobile without display for such as Fire Service mobilising, mainly E-band (68-88MHz)




E0 = 66 to 88 MHz
B0 = 132 to 156 MHz
A9 = 146 to 174 MHz
K1 = 174 to 208 MHz
KM = 223 to 235 MHz
R3 = 330 to 400 MHz
TM = 400 to 440 MHz
TU = 403 to 470 MHz
T4 = 425 to 450 MHz
U0 = 440 to 470 MHz
UW = 450 to 520 MHz
W1 = 470 to 500 MHz
W4 = 494 to 520 MHz
X = 800 MHz trunking bands

Dedicated trunking units are also available, but are not much use to us in this form.
They cannot be used as standard two-way radios (i.e. PMR mode), although with replacement of the firmware EPROM, they can be used as a normal PMR radio. Other mods are required (0 ohm SMD resistor jumpers) to enable SelCall signalling.  Models included 8025T (curiously labelled as 8020T), 8030T, 8041T, 8042T, 8060T, 8070T, and supposedly a model that looks like an 8010.  Certainly a dual mode unit can be transformed into a single mode unit by replacement of the EPROM and altering some jumpers - not that there is much point in doing this, because the dual mode units can be programmed in PMR mode anyway.




Various options are also available, such as:
*6 digit local or remote heads - used to upgrade a PRM8030 or 8020T from a 4 digit head
*DTMF microphone - can be connected to any of the PRM80 family to transmit
DTMF tones, useful for those radios that do not have built-in DTMF capability.
*Controller (keypad) microphone - looks almost identical to the DTMF microphone,
but can be used to obtain extra functions on the radio, and directly enter SelCall numbers etc.  
This microphone will only work on 6 digit heads (i.e. 8025 or 8030 with the optional 6 digit head)
*Power supply & console unit (for 'base station' use)
*Power supply & remote console unit for remote control base station use.
*Modem card (for transmission of data, and programming the radio personality)
*voice synthesizer card for trunking operation
*quick release mounting bracket
*cross band repeater cable kit
*hands free microphone set up
*covert microphone
*telephone style handset
*transportable kit
*alternate speakers

*numerous outboard options - MAP27 data interface, GPS & AVL systems, etc etc

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

New 4m radio arrived.


My new 4m FM radio arrived yesterday, special express by DHL.
The sellers of the radio, the 446 Shop in China,sent the radio by DHL as compensation for taking nearly a week to dispatch the radio, fair play to them. www.446.com
I was in Wexford since Sunday and just arrived home today and first thing was to collect the radio from my neighbour, and within no time had it up on the bench.
So far I have had only one contact on it and that was with Ben EI4IN, both receive and transmit working well.
The radio runs 50 watts out on high power, 5 watts more than the older Anytone 4m radio that I bought back in 2010.
The new Anytone AT-588 was a long time getting to my shack, the purchase was put of by bad health and recovery, but at last now I can give signal reports from my shack!!!!
I will have to put some memories into the radio when I get time, back to Wexford tomorrow.... and then to the Gorey Radio Club tomorrow night....  

Sunday, 9 August 2015

4m Band Plan.


The 70MHz band is increasingly recognised as being appropriate for amateur allocations. In the CEPT area this progress is now recognised in the European Common Allocation table by footnote EU9 which states: EU9: "In a growing number of CEPT countries, parts of the band 70.0--70.5 MHz is also allocated to the Amateur service on a secondary basis." In addition it is worth noting that there is some experimental access on a national basis in the range 69.90 - 70.0MHz in cases where 70MHz is not available.
It is also worth noting that the calling frequency for the UK and Northern Ireland is 70.450 where as in the south of Ireland 70.2625 is often used.
Also there are various nets around the country and 70.400 is frequently used along the east coast.

**** N.B. Authorised Frequencies in EI are 70.125 - 70.450 MHz ****



Saturday, 8 August 2015

70 Mhz is heating up with many contacts across Europe.



WWW.DXMAPS.COM   19:41z




Sporadic-E opening on 4m. Best estimated MUF=93 MHz above JO81 at 18:50z. Most recent QSO at 19:22z

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

KG-UV950PL Quad Bander: 6m/4m/2m and 70cms.



This amazing value for money fully featured Quad band mobile now has 4m instead of 10m, so it now covers 6m/4m/2m/70cms. (50/70/145/433MHz) with a super wide band receive side; including AM Air band RX (108-136MHz).
The whole case is basically one big heatsink. On 4/6/2m it will run 50w, reducing to 40w on 70cm. The front panel is removable (separation cable supplied) and is able to be attached either horizontally, or angled slightly up or down. In addition to the internal speaker there is a speaker built into the mic (for very noisy environments) and the option for separate external speakers for each ‘side’ of the rig. It is effectively two rigs in one. A mobile mounting bracket is supplied too.

Microphone:
It has been very well designed, feels just right and offers all the functionality you need – and more. Not visible in this picture is a speaker at the back and an extra volume control on top. This makes adjusting the volume much easier and precise. At the left you will find PTT and a programmable side key (default: monitor). A lock switch and a backlight switch are welcome additions too


Air band reception:
I know many people love air band reception and this radio does just that. 
Unfortunately the radio lacks 8.33 KHz channel spacing, which is needed in Europe. Increasing air traffic congestion has led to narrow-band 8.33 kHz channels in the ICAO European region; all aircraft flying above 19,500 feet are required to have communication equipment for this channel spacing. Outside of Europe 8.33 kHz channels are permitted in many countries, but not widely used yet.

Cross-band repeat:
The one million dollar question was: can this radio cross-band repeat between the Citizens Band and amateur bands? The answer is: yes, it does, the KG-UV950P will happily cross-band repeat between anything on VFO A and VFO B, as long as the chosen bands are not the same.

Apart from real cross-band functionality, the radio can also act as a transverter (one way repeat). If that was not enough, you can construct your own repeater system by linking two KG-UV950P’s together. Just interconnect the two RJ-45 connectors at the left to get that to work.



Scrambler:
A scrambler system is standard in this radio, and you can choose 8 different varieties of voice inversion. The garbled audio such a system produces will sound very familiar if you ever spend time on the HF bands and tuned into a USB signal while still in LSB mode.

Receiver quality:
The receiver is sensitive enough to pick up even the weakest signal. Measuring sensitivity is becoming a bit boring, because all modern radios perform about the same. More interesting is the front end and its capability to keep unwanted signals out of the equation. Again Wouxun did something most other radios can’t: this radio survives most problems you throw at it, just like their dual-band KG-UV920P. 


Features:
Twin band /same band simultaneous reception
Dual display
999 memory channels
Power 50w VHF / 40watts UHF
Front panel and radio body flexible for separation
Duplex mode
Duplex cross-band repeat
QT/DOT encoding and decoding
QT/DOT scanning
Non-standard CTCSS/DCS setting freely
Same -band repeat on two combined radios
High power output
Dual track and multi-way loudspeakers
Hand microphone DTMF with loudspeakers, receiving indicator and volume adjuster
Caller ID display
DTMF encoding and decoding
Group calls, all calls and selective calls
8groups of scrambler
Priority channel scanning
APO power management
Wide / narrow bandwidth select able
Voice guide
Automatic temperature detection
Stun/kill function
Single audio pulse frequency
Multiple back light colour select able
Scan channel adding /deleting
Grouping channel scanning
Multiple scanning ways
Remote control setting
Multiple setting for cooling fan

Thursday, 30 July 2015

AnyTone AT-588 70 MHz FM Transceiver.

Any Tone AT-588.

I have just ordered one of these, I already have the Any Tone AT-5189 which is working great, I have one of the very rare 45W versions, but I would like to upgrade to the New Any Tone AT-588, the new one runs 50W but that is not the reason for wanting to buy one, the new model has a signal meter which I would love to have on my main 4m radio...



So I will be putting my Any Tone AT-5189 up for sale as soon as the new one arrives.....
Any Tone AT-5189 For Sale Soon...

Here are the specs of the Any Tone AT-588:
Frequency: HF 66~88MHz

Function:
Output Power:50W(VHF),45W(UHF)/25W(HF)/10W
100 programmable memorized channels and Call channel, the channels can be  marked with letters and digits
CTCSS/DCS/5-Tone decodes and encodes

Four different single-tone pulse frequencies
CTCSS/DCS scan
Compander to reduce noise
Theft alarm
ANI function(DTMF/ANI,5Tone/ANI) PTT ID.
QHM-03 multifunctional microphone with DTMF
Scramble function(option)
Accessories:
   Microphone(with DTMF keypad)
   Mobile installing bracket 
   DC power cable with fuse holder
   Hardware kits for bracket

AT-588 SPECIFICATION
General
Frequency Range
HF: 66-88MHz 
Number of Channels
200 channels
Channel Spacing
25K (Wide Band)  20K(Middle Band)  12.5K (Narrow band)
Phase-locked Step
5KHz,6.25KHz,8.33KHz,10KHz,12.5KHz,15KHz,  20KHz,25KHz,30KHz,50KHz
Operating Voltage
13.8V  DC ±15%
Squelch
Carrier/CTCSS/DCS/5Tone/2Tone/DTMF
Frequency Stability
Wide band
Narrow band

Power Output 50W/25W/10W

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Noble NR-4SC 70Mhz USB/CW Transciever


The NR-4SC is a simple to use 15 Watt (nominal) 4
Meter SSB/ CW transceiver. The radio operates USB
and CW. The NR-4SC uses a single conversion design
with an IF frequency of 10.7 MHz. Front end band pass
filters limit out of band signals into the RF Preamp
stage. A double balanced diode ring mixer provides
good strong signal handling capability. There are two 8
pole crystal filters following the mixer which are
designed for 3.0 kHz and 500 Hz -6dB bandwidths. The
3 kHz filter allows for good SSB voice fidelity while the
500 Hz filter provides good adjacent channel rejection
on CW. Either filter can be selected in both modes. Two
IF amplifier stages and fast attack AGC provide good
receiver sensitivity while levelling the audio output on
strong signals. AGC action starts at approximately a
-120 dBm input signal level. The local oscillator is
derived from a DDS/PLL circuit providing a high degree
of stability and low noise. A high stability 107.374 MHz
reference oscillator is used for all local oscillator
generation. The high frequency provides low DDS
spurious output. The transceiver offers a 10.7MHz IF out
on the back panel for connection to an SDR so it may be
used with a PC for a Spectral Display. Other features of
the NR-4SC include RIT (Receiver Incremental Tuning)
and SPLIT mode functions as well as a built in Iambic
Keyer for CW. The AGC rate has a FAST and SLOW
speed to suit operator preference.


Specifications:
1) SSB/CW
2) 15 Watt output power
3) Built in Iambic keyer
4) Analogue S-meter, not a bar graph.
5) RIT
6) SPLIT
7) Variable Speed Tuning (VST)
8) Wide and Narrow Crystal filter
9) Fast and Slow selectable AGC
10) Output to key an external Amplifier
11) Can be switched for QSK and Non QSK compatible
Amplifiers
12) Simultaneous display of RX and TX frequencies
13) 13.8VDC at 4 Amps TX current
14) 650 mA RX current
15) Built in loudspeaker
16) Audio output .6 Watt
17) 10.7 MHz IF output
18) RX Sensitivity -130dbm MDS
19) IF rejection greater than 100db
20) Blocking dynamic range 107db
21) Third Order Dynamic Range = 96db (IP3 = +14dBm)
22) 2nd Order Dynamic Range 87db (IP2 = +44dBm)
23) TX spurious is better than - 55dBc which meets CE
ETSI EN301 783-1 standards
24) 10.625 in W (27 cm) x 11.25 in D (28.6 cm) x 5.375 in H
(13.7 cm) – This excludes the height of the feet and the
knobs and connectors on the 18 front and rear panels.
25) Weight - Approximately 11 lbs (5 Kg)