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The KE0VH Hamshack for September 2017

September 10, 2017
By

September 2017

Once again, my new email address is now ke0vh@outlook.com.  I have changed it due to some problems with access and my cell phone.  Please make a note of it!  J

The Monday Night SBE Chapter 73’ of the Air AllStar/Echolink NET is making the transition to the new connections very well.  We hope you will join us some Monday night in the future.  We are soon hopefully going to in addition to the WØGV 448.975 repeater adding the 449.625 WØKU repeater that we were on before.  We are planning on moving it to Mount Chief in Denver since KXKL FM (KOOL 105) vacated a space in the “basement” of the building.  It will also be connected to AllStar via facilities provided by Tracy, KIØHC.  More to come on this in the future.

Speaking of AllStar, Skyler, KDØWHB help me to put together my raspberry Pi3 portable node to carry on trips with me.  The node is easy to transport and sets up quickly in a hotel room.  I then can connect either via the Wifi to my IPad, or a network cable plugged into a system.  On my last trip to Steamboat Springs I used it to talk back to the Denver repeater and linked AllStar system.  I hope that many of you will look into connecting to us with one of these very transportable system.

 

More on the Raspberry Pi3.  See this article for how to use a Raspberry Pi as a ham radio TNC: https://tnc-x.com/TNCPi.htm

 

I hope you got to view the “Great American Eclipse” on August 21st.  I spent the days prior building a really easy “sun funnel” to put on my reflector telescope for safely viewing the event.  In Denver we expected a 92 % occlusion of the sun.  Glasses 2 weeks before the event were easy to find.  But the week before, they were nowhere to be found.  A pinhole projector of course would be usable, but I wanted a better look in magnification.  So after a search on the internet I found how I could build a funnel to attach to my 4.5 inch reflector telescope.  A trip to an auto parts store later I came back with a standard easily available oil funnel and some hose clamps.  Then after a visit to a local Walmart for a cheap shower curtain, I built this:

 

The Plossl eyepiece fitted into the smaller end and the bigger end of the funnel with the shower curtain (2 layers) “screen”.

 

My 4.5 inch Konusmotor 130 reflector, with sun aperture cover and the sun funnel showing the first aiming at the sun as the eclipse started

Here are some views taken with my cell camera of the eclipse as it progressed here.

The Eclipse at its maximum here in the Denver area

Pretty amazing!  Our tree acted as a “pinhole” projector!

A closeup!  Pretty cool!

 

How I built my sun funnel:

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/Build_a_Sun_Funnel_v4.pdf

 

More pictures of the eclipse on 08/21

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=90796&src=nha

This is what the eclipse looked like from 72000 feet as seen from

The EOSS (Edge of Space Sciences) high altitude balloon flown from central Wyoming by the Colorado based group (www.eoss.org). See the entire video of the shadow moving across that part of the country at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oom8jEDAdT4

 

Good friend and “transmitter” whisperer J Steve Wilde, KI6FEO, took a trip out to help troubleshoot and find some issues we were having at a site here in Colorado.  Steve is an expert at tuning filters and getting things running in the best way possible.  He solved a couple of issues and did some fine tuning in our bandpass filter at this site.  Steve really has the touch when it comes to tuning high power filters and getting everything operating within parameters.  Steve, myself, and Rich W9BNO, worked for several hours on the transmitter, RF “plumbing”, the filter, and other issues and finally got the station running back at full power and stabilized.  We are hoping to make further improvements and doing more work at this site in the future.  THANKS STEVE and Rich!

Steve working on tuning the high power filter at the site southwest of Pueblo CO

Getting the parameters well within proper operating limits!  GREAT JOB STEVE!

 

As I have written in previous editions, I love it when you see ham radios used in TV shows and movies.  This month’s capture features a shot of detective Danny Williams (played by Scott Caan) using what looks like a Yaesu FT-60 in one episode.

With today’s laptops and computers serial ports are becoming a thing of the past and sometimes makes using some older ham gear interfaces a bit of a challenge.  You can always use a USB to Serial adapter to make the connections needed, but most of these will use something like “COM 10 or 11” to interface the software to the ham equipment being used.  Older software will sometimes only have COM 1-4 available in a pull down menu.  There is a way though in Windows to make happen what is needed in these cases.  Going into “Control Panel”, then to Device manager look for “Ports”.  Look there for the USB device that the computer has listed that you want to use.  Double click on that and then on “Port Settings”.  Another window should open then you will select “Advanced”.  You will get a dropdown that will allow you to look for another port number.  Selecting a Com number that matches your software requirements will solve the problem.  Virtual Com 11 becomes whatever Com you need.  GREAT TIP I read about on the internet!  This will help with many older serial devices used by ham operators to keep good stuff running (at least in the current versions of Windows.  I wish it were that easy in Linux!  J

By the way, another picture of the Eclipse taken by Sam, in Rocklin CA during the event.  I forgot to include it above.

 

Here is a beautiful mobile installation done by our friend Robert KC8GPD.  Robert also is helping us out as a contractor for sites here in CO.  He installed a Motorola Analog Spectra 70cm rig and a CB SR89MC radio in his Suzuki Grand Vitara.  He hopes to replace these radios soon with a Connect Systems CS800D (the dual band model)!  Stay tuned!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  We are going to make yet another move as we transition more to the ALLSTAR system, with a better connection for those of you using ECHOLINK, which will stay in place, but simply move to another ECHOLINK NODE.

 

Henceforth, those of you coming in via ECHOLINK, please use Echolink node KD0WHB-L, or number 985839.

 

I will be keeping a link into 9615 IRLP for special use by those who only have an IRLP link capability at this time.  BUT it will not be the main link anymore due to problems it has been having cross connecting into ALLStar.

 

You will find that the audio coming thru the new ECHOLINK 985839 is much better than the other IRLP reflector too.

 

NOW, if you want to get on AllStar directly,

1st, see if there is already an AllStar repeater on the air near you.  Email me if you want help on this.

2nd, you can build your own portable AllStar node out of a RaspberryPi3 which of course is readily available.  Email me for more information on this.

 

3RD and most immediate, you can (you will have to register anyway), you can get on the AllStar Phone Portal via your cell phone very easy.

Go to https://allstarlink.org/ and sign up for an account.  Once you have that, (it usually takes about 24 hours to register) and you have an AllStar PIN, you can use the phone portal to get on the net.  Think of it as a long mic cable to connect your microphone (cell) to the system linked to a repeater (or several).  I can send you an auto dialing script once you have your PIN.  Makes it very easy, audio is great, simple to use and no more having to employ a laptop.

 

BTW, you can also get the Echolink APP for your phone and do the same thing if you don’t want to use AllStar.  As stated above, please start using the Echolink node 985839, or KD0WHB-L

 

SEE back issues of my articles available now on this web site.

ONE YEAR AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/09/

TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/09/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/09/

 

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

AND

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of The Air

AllStar (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits!  73’ es God Be With You!

The KE0VH Hamshack for August 2017

August 13, 2017
By

 

August 2017

Check out how K-LOVE (and now Air1) has grown over the years!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zZa8V53FY&feature=youtu.be

 

By the way, my new email address is now ke0vh@outlook.com. I have changed it due to some problems with access and my cell phone.  Please make a note of it!  J

 

Setting up a portable AllStar node for being able to get back into the Denver WØGV repeater and the Denver AllStar Skyhub (Skyler, KDØWHB) is something I have had a as a project for this summer. Skyler has been so instrumental is setting up AllStar systems for myself and other folks here in Denver and we really appreciate the time and expertise of this fine young engineer.  Skyler has spent a lot of time experimenting and perfecting the software setup and hardware to make all of this work.  So one day he and I got together after I had gathered all the parts and he helped me to get my portable simplex node going.  I gathered up a Raspberry Pi3, a Syba USB CMedia CM119 Sound adapter, and a Yaesu VX-170, to use as a portable AllStar node (46372) for connecting to the AllStar systems via WiFi.  I am planning on using this when on the road thru my iPad hotspot, or in the hotel rooms I stay in thru their WiFi or Ethernet.  There are a lot of directions on how to do this available, but Skyler has figured out how to use these ($5 on Amazon) Syba sound cards instead of buying some of the $50 or more interfaces available.  Very simply done too.  The Raspberry Pi3 has on board WiFi so it can connect to the internet.  The soundcard is the interface to the radio for the transmit and receive audio, and the PTT to the radio.  The VX-170 I had on hand had a proper 4 conductor mini plug along with the interface wiring from an earlier data project.  The same line off the radio for mic audio had a capacitor and resistor already attached for the PTT thru the resistor and passing the audio down the line.  This speaker mic cable by the way, like just about everything else can be obtained thru Amazon.  Many other radios are usable and adaptable to this system.  Here soon it will be my intention to do a full “how to” write up on how we setup my node.

This is my schematic for the pinout on the waterproof cable for the Yaesu VX-170. As you can see in the schematic below, I had already installed a capacitor and resistor on the cable from an earlier project for data in and out of the radio, so we incorporated that into the schematic for the Syba USB soundcard interface.  Skyler showed me how he had wired up the soundcard for past projects and he did a beautiful job putting the components in and getting them to fit into the case of the Syba as the pictures will show.

The Schematic for interfacing to the VX-170. This interface should work for most radios, the cap/resistor upper right is for the VX-170 combined mic/PTT line from the radio

$5.00 soundcard from Amazon. Must be the CM108 or 119 Chip

One of the connections to the Syba USB soundcard, takes a little bit of care in soldering to the pins on the chip

 

The final component layout all connected to the soundcard and plugged into the Raspberry Pi3

Another view of the soundcard and Pi3

 

Since the Yaesu VX-170 is a 2 meter radio only, I am using a 2 meter frequency

coordinated for using as a simplex repeater node. This also makes powering the easy as you can put 12 volts directly into the battery charging port.  I will be including pictures of the setup into a carry case in a later edition of “The Hamshack”.

The testing setup, using a Baofeng radio to test into the VX-170

Testing the node on the network at home

 

Another way to connect into the AllStar system is thru your cell phone! It is a portal that will connect into whatever AllStar node/repeater you want to dial into.  Just think of it as a remote audio link to your radio, repeater, or connection into the AllStar system.  I have used this thru my motorcycle helmet blue tooth communicator into my iPhone to connect into the local Denver repeater or Skyler’s Skyhub.  Jeremy, N5JER showed me how to set up an automated dialer contact in my phone to one button dial like a regular phone number.  When you dial into the phone portal you must tell it what node you wish to connect to, your personal PIN number (given to you when you register with AllStar) and whether or not you want to use VOX or a command to “PTT”.  You can program this into your cell phone contacts.  It is my intention to use this feature to communicate while riding my motorcycle to the Chattanooga Tennessee area in September via interstate to visit my Mom.  If you want to be able to do this too, I will be glad to send you a template for a contact for you cell phone.  Just send me an email.  I will also carry a HT to get into Kenny, K4KR’s system there in the Chattanooga/Chickamauga GA area to talk around town there and back to Denver via Kenny’s node.  By the way, while on the trip I will be beaconing APRS as KE0VH-5 on APRS.fi.

My cellphone dialed into the KDØWHB AllStar hub (Node 46079). You can see part of the automated dialing process, (my pin blocked out) easily done on a cell phone.  Once again, just think of it as a “long mic cord” to a radio system!

 

And below you can see the AllStar connection chart with the phone connected:

To use the phone portal, you must register with AllStar (https://allstarlink.org/). You don’t have to setup a node or do anything other than register if you want.  Then even where there is no coverage by radio, repeater, or AllStar repeater you can get into whatever node you wish.  VERY COOL SYSTEM!

 

And yes, I am actually getting a lot done this summer for K-LOVE/Air1! We have had several ongoing projects that are keeping me very busy.  Earlier in the spring my good friend Ken from KUNC radio noticed a broken strut on the tower supporting both his and our Air1 transmitting antenna during a visit.  We had a tower crew immediately go up and sure enough, not just one strut but several supports.  Buckhorn Mtn is an EXTREMELY windy site and the gusts during storms or just fronts moving in can be of hurricane force!  Sure didn’t want our transmitting antennas blowing down!  So that was a biggie to get done.  Again thanks to my guys at Galvanized Endeavors for the great work in getting this site back to specs.

The transmitting antenna on the mountain.

AND, during the inspection of the tower, I had them look for a leak as our line pressure had started to become an issue, making the dehydrator run more than normal. Sure enough, while doing this support work they found this:

Hmmmmmmmmmm, there’s the problem!

 

Turns out the line section had been rubbing against one of the supports all this time, wind had exacerbated the problem, hence the link! So, on with new sections and the problem is cured!

This fixed it! Thanks again Galvanized Endeavors!

 

Check out this old electrical panel!

Yes this is still running a radio station!

We were having issues with the top fuse blowing. Seems to be solved after several months now of no problems.  Turns out tightening the mounting brackets SEEMED to do the trick.  All has been running well since.  I have an excellent electrician in Mike Cooper from Colorado Springs has done an excellent job for me on several sites.  Including wiring in the Denver Nautel GV-40.

By the way, I forgot to include this picture earlier in the article. Testing the AllStar node setup via laptop before programming the Pi3.

Thanks again Skyler!

SEE back issues of my articles available now on the SMPTE/SBE web site.

 

ONE YEAR AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/08/

TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/08/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/08/  

 

 

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

AND

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of The Air

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 73’ es God Be With You!

The KE0VH Hamshack for July 2017

July 24, 2017
By

July 2017

Last month I wrote about how we had installed an AllStar Node (46020) in the office here in Lakewood. It by the way can now be seen by going to APRS.fi, and putting in the callsign search box ke0vh-1.  Jeremy N6JER wrote up the instructions on how to set this up after doing an exhaustive search on the internet but not actually getting a complete set of instructions.  If you go to his website: www.n6jer.com, you can see the complete instructions on how to do this. I followed them with my node and it worked great.  Took a while to get the GPS co-ordinates matched up with the map, but as you can see below it works really well.   Just another feature of AllStar that is really cool!

Right now I don’t have an external antenna of my node, just a whip in the office. But it allows Rich W9BNO and I to have a great link out of a very RF dead building with one link into the 448.975 WØGV repeater here, and of course whoever else is linked in.  Jeremy N6JER’s node (45844) at EMF HQ in Rocklin is on a frequency of 442.950, PL 141.3 and has some really good coverage around Rocklin and Roseville CA with 5 watts.  You can see his coverage map on his website too.  We link my node and his node more or less permanently to the KDØWHB SkySystem AllStar hub (node 46079) so we can pick up our HT’s in our respective offices and talk to each other between here and there.  Click this website: http://stats.allstarlink.org/getstatus.cgi?46079 to see what is currently connected to the hub right now. Thanks again to Skyler, KDØWHB for bringing us into and helping us with both hardware and education of the AllStar world.  AND, at this time, we are planning on using AllStar as the backbone for the SBE Chapter 73’ of the Air Monday night net with the WØGV repeater in Denver as the flagship machine.  We will still be using IRLP and Echolink with Skyler’s bridge to those systems from AllStar.  More to come on this in the near future.  I am also going to use a Raspberry PI computer to make a portable AllStar Node, for times when I am in a hotel or in an area that may have cell but not repeater, and specifically an AllStar repeater around.  More on this in the future as Skyler teaches me to do this!

By the way, the WØGV repeater here in Denver is getting a new amp to take the power up to 75 watts depending on where Gerry (repeater owner) sets it. Thanks to Keri, KBØYNA for donating it to us out here on the Front Range eastern “side of the rockpile”.  The repeater is a GE Master II e, and this will really help with the coverage here in the Denver area.  More to come on this one too!

AND, here is another repeater project that we will be hooking up to AllStar as well, a 5 watt Kenwood repeater that we will probably use here at the office or maybe on a hilltop soon. Once again, Keri KBØYNA in Grand Junction is helping with re-frequency-ing and tuning this radio for some use here.  No real plans yet, but I will keep you up to date on this project as well.  The repeater does transmit and receive, but needs a controller, which will probably be done by Raspberry PI.  More to come!

As you may remember, I love spotting old radios in movies. Here is the latest spots from the movie “Independence Day: Resurgence”.  A fine Yaesu FT-101!

And this

A really fine transistor Zenith Royal 3000

I LOVE SEEING these.

 

Finally, in this really busy summer, and in particular this month, I found this prayer and it really speaks to me about our Freedom, and Privileges given to us by a loving Heavenly Father.

SEE back issues of my articles available now! Copy or click these links into your browser to see previous installments:

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201701Jan.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201702Feb.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201703Mar.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201704April.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201705May.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201706June.pdf

 

AND ONE YEAR AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2016/07/

TWO YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2015/07/

THREE YEARS AGO:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/2014/07/

 

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

AND

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of The Air

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 73’ es God Be With You!

The KE0VH Hamshack for June 2017

June 12, 2017
By

June 2017

Welcome to summer, finally!

 

How about this for a QTH? A REALLY TINY HOUSE?

No, it’s the UHF/VHF antenna setup for Jeremy, N6JER in Rocklin CO. Jeremy was experimenting with this antenna setup from his house and thought it would setup nicely on the hillside behind the little playhouse.  I think its pretty clever!

Last month in May I went on a mission trip to Gallup NM and I took the CS-800 DMR/Analog mobile on the trip. I learned how to program in some New Mexico frequencies and of course the RMHam Albuquerque (I learned too how to spell Albuquerque) Rocky Mountain DMR link was something I really was excited about using to talk back to Denver.  So about the time I got to a point just east of Santa Fe on I-25 heading south I started being able to get into the Albuquerque Rocky Mountain machine, located on SanDia Peak.  Most of the TV and FM’s are located on this very prominent mountain NE of downtown Albuquerque.  An amazing site for a ham radio repeater, but I did notice that as I was driving west on I-40, the system didn’t seem to hear me past about 30 miles or so to the west on the way to Gallup.  I could hear it just fine, but it couldn’t hear me.  I was talking to Cris W5WCA, Rich W9BNO, and Greg WB7AHO on the way down there, and then Cris and Greg on the way back a later that week and it behaved in the same manner.  But the audio quality was great as you would expect.  Those guys have created a great DMR system, and I was really happy with the performance of the 45 watt CSI CS-800 mobile radio. See my full review in last months issue.

The RMHam “Rocky Mtn” DMR linked system

As you can see the network covers a major part of Colorado and around Albuquerque.

 

By the way, I would like to welcome Rich Anderson, W9BNO to the EMF Engineering family. Rich is taking over the Western Region Manager job for EMF/K-LOVE/Air1.  Rich and I have known each other for many years and I was his employee back around 200 at what was then Jones Radio Networks.  I am excited about being able to work with him practically daily and for the leadership, expertise, and knowledge he brings to the table.  He is an expert engineer, systems integrator, networking guru, satellite guy, and is great with the people who work with and for him. I cannot wait to see all that we can accomplish with him on the team! WELCOME and QAPLA! (Klingon for SUCCESS!) Rich!

 

We are getting into a new system here in Colorado and beyond. AllStar (https://allstarlink.org/) is a system similar to IRLP but much more versatile, better sounding, and not so proprietary that you can’t do many more things with it simply and easier with a Linux based operating system.  AllStar allows many interconnect nodes (both radio and computer “hubs”) to be a will connected, interconnected, disconnected and communicated thru.  It can even cross mode to DMR and other digital connections thru bridges setup depending on the network node operators.  Our good friend Skyler, KDØWHB has built nodes for myself, and Jeremy N6JER using the Debian Linux “DIAL” software available for free from the AllStar network.  As of this writing Jeremy will be putting his node on the air from Rocklin CA so we can have connected comms just by picking up the handheld radio!  KE0VH1 Allstar node, #46020 is on the air on 449.500 as a simplex node from our Lakewood K-LOVE office using a Comcast public network WiFi, and gives us instant communication connected thru the KD0WHB hub into the local WØGV repeater on 448.975 here in Denver.  That hub then in turn is connected out into the world by whoever wants to connect into it.  Get a look at the example of how my node is connected by going to this site: http://stats.allstarlink.org/getstatus.cgi?46020. With my handheld or a mobile rig getting into any node via whatever repeater I can get into any connection thru AllStar.  Now some could say that this isn’t “pure radio”, and I supposed that’s true from a certain viewpoint.  It definitely isn’t radio to radio like HF comms, BUT, it does allow radio communications to be facilitated thru VHF and UHF very reliably.  SO, with that, I think of it as “just a long mic cable” or audio lines to a transmitter. I will be writing more about Allstar in future articles.

The KEØVH Allstar node 46020 being built on the workbench.

A look at nodes connected on a certain day. The bottom two, not visible in this picture, are connected to the UK!

The KEØVH AllStar node in the rack operating with a re-frequencied re-purposed Motorola Maxtrax radio as the simplex repeater radio.

 

Now some could say that this isn’t “pure radio”, and I supposed that’s true from a certain viewpoint. It definitely isn’t radio to radio like HF comms, BUT, it does allow radio communications to be facilitated thru VHF and UHF very reliably.  SO, with that, I think of it as “just a long mic cable” or audio lines to a transmitter.

Another upgrade to the KEØVH Hamshack in June. The latest version of the RTL-SDR USB dongle.  You can see one at: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0129EBDS2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This dongle can tune 500 khz to 1.7 gig with 3.2 Mhz of bandwith. Easy to interface with your computer thru USB and connect to any antenna with an SMA male to any adapter also available at Amazon.  As I have written in the past you can use the free SDR Sharp software and HDSDR to control and use the dongle to provide a visual interface making a powerful software defined radio for only $20.  Many have even used these to create a frequency display for radios such as a Kenwood TS-2000 and more.  Check out a lot of uses, software, and so many things available and to learn more go to: http://www.rtl-sdr.com/. ADSB aircraft “radar” is even do-able as I have written about in the past.  And for $20?  I can’t even have imagined this sort of thing growing up listening to radio!

HDSDR Sharp using the new dongle receiving 1510 am in Denver

 

A closer look at the spectrum at 1510 kHz in the HDSDR software

Tracking aircraft with the ADSB software included in the SDR Sharp (AirSpy) software

SEE back issues of my articles available now! Copy or click these links into your browser to see previous installments:

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201701Jan.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201702Feb.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201703Mar.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201704April.pdf

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201705May.pdf

 

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

Or see the complete archives at:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/

AND

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of The Air

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 73’ es God Be With You!

 

 

 

 

 

The KE0VH Hamshack for May 2017

May 3, 2017
By

 

                                                     May 2017

DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) is taking over the amateur radio VHF and UHF airwaves big time here in the front range of Colorado. If you have heard the digital audio available now on cell phones, the audio on DMR radios is very similar. Radio’s for this mode are easily available, (even on Amazon.com) not expensive, and with the groups using them they are very easily set up due to pre written “code plugs”, which include many analog frequencies and DMR repeaters.  The TYT MD-380 and Connect Systems Inc (CSI) CS-800 UHF are now part of the KEØVH mobile hamshack.  Jerry Wanger, CEO & owner of CSI has been instrumental in bringing DMR affordability and ease of operation to ham radio.  Now the price, performance and ease of programming the radios via free software makes DMR exciting and FUN!  . The radio’s interface to the computer with an easy to install USB cable.  I had no trouble with Win 7 installing the programming cable and talking to the radio’s.   Connect Systems Inc has amazing customer service.  Chris Edwards, KK6MLY at CSI was really kind and helpful in helping me with my order of the CS-800.

With the CS-800, I was impressed right off the bat with how the radio was shipped and packaged. CSI ships the radio in a very well put together box that has a pretty intricate folding of the compartments within to really protect the unit.  Did you guys use an origami idea for this?  VERY cool how the different sections of the box went together protecting the contents.  That’s the first thing I noticed upon opening the shipping box.  Downloading the software was quick and easy, and actually very similar to the TYT MD-380 HT that I own.  Downloading the local codeplug very expertly put together by the Rocky Mountain Ham group. (www.rmham.org) and loading into the radio literally had me operating the radio within about 10 minutes of getting it out of the box. I was making contacts quickly and easily.  The radio has a programming cable (actually 2, one for the faceplate of the radio for upgrading the firmware, and one for the rear view DB type connector.  The radio essentially has a USB interface/drive built in and the USB to DB type connector will act as a drive when connected to your computer.  The software then communicates with the radio and you can read/write like any other radio.  I really want to thank Chris at Connect Systems as he was very helpful and really went above the call to help me with questions and getting the radio to me.  I called him late one Friday to pay for a radio, and it came by Monday via US Mail.  I was impressed to say the least!  By the way the radio is easily upgradable thru the firmware on the Connect Systems website.  The audio is great from the radio, loud enough in a mobile environment, and as you will see in my pictures of my mobile install the face plate separates with a simple CAT 5 cable.  Makes installation in just about any vehicle a snap.  Here is the radio out on the desk being programmed with the RMHam Codeplug.

Another feature I really like about the CS-800 and by the way the way the software for programming the radio is the way you can set up your scans for whatever DMR “Zone” you happen to be operating in. I have one of my scan lists setup to monitor the 3 local analog repeaters I use too while on DMR.  As the radio scans though, it does send out a quick transmit signal to handshake with each DMR repeater you have set up to scan.  This is a normal operation of a DMR radio.  On the TYT HT it does use a little more battery, but of course that doesn’t effect the mobile rig setup powered off 12 volts.  Here is a shot of the software talking to the radio and starting setup.

The CS-800 will let you program the buttons to use the functions you want, so it is totally customizable. One thing I really like is the above feature where you get a display of the buttons on the radio so you know which is which as you program.  I read in some reviews that the users really like this feature, making all the buttons do what you want.  Many DMR radios cannot be programmed from the front panel, but the CS800 can now be programmed without having to use the software. Great idea for on the fly, but I haven’t attempted this yet.

My name, callsign, and codeplug name in the “turn on radio” display.

One suggestion from a RMHam DMR guru was to program the last date of the codeplug into the radio display at power on. That way you are reminded to check for updates.  You can customize it to whatever you want.  I did add the date in at a later time, plus I have customized my own code plug now.  Remember too, a “codeplug” is simply a list of frequencies you have programmed into the radio.

The radio on the Thorodin Central RMHam repeater system in this shot

 

Another cool thing about the CS-800, the radio has tremendous functionality for hams (can have 2000 channels and over 64,000 contacts) which is pretty tremendous. Going to be very hard to fill that up as once again all is customizable. Plus remember you could have several codeplugs to program into the radio if you travel. And since it is all saved on the computer, you can reload the radio to have what you want for and after traveling. Very easy with the FREE software.

Ready to be mounted in truck after programming.

Another great thing here. The PRICE. At $280 direct from Connect Systems, you just cannot beat it with 45 watts (selectable HI/Med/Low power) and yes the mic touch tones work. I was able to access IRLP and AllStar nodes and connect with the microphone. I believe I had read in the past that the touch tones weren’t operating, but they do now with the latest firmware. Motorola’s are available, but at 3 times the price this is a MUCH greater value. The radio is built too for the mobile environment very well and I have been very pleased with the way the DMR repeaters work around the mountain drives I have to make as a K-LOVE Broadcast radio engineer. Getting ready to mount the radio in my worktruck was very easy too. I already have a mobile radio dual bander in the truck, so I used the mounting board I have under the drivers seat to also mount the CS-800. The radios both fit easily and wiring went well as the control heads are of course up in driving view. As you see in the below pictures I use Anderson power pole connectors in the usual configuration for easy in/out if I need to remove the radios from the truck for any reason.

NOTE the cat 5 cable from the CS-800 MPU. Man I like that, so easy and no having to order a special separation kit.

The Radio mounted on the center console of the Tacoma

The front firing speaker in the faceplate provides plenty of audio in the mobile environment as mentioned earlier. I really like not having to use an external speaker.  Connect Systems also provides a service manual downloaded from their website, and a programming manual.  I am super pleased with the CS-800, it really fits my needs and desires in a mobile DMR/Analog rig, and I am more excited about this purchase and every day use than any radio I have used in a long time.

 

I only had 1 issue, and that is one time I made a change (actually an edition of the codeplug had updated) and I added in the user name, callsign and number of a friend locally, and for some reason I was getting an error “Please check whether the USB is occupied or not connected” when trying to connect and read the radio with the software. The radio was recognized correctly as a drive by the laptop, and the little connect “ping” sounded when the radio was plugged in, all looked good so that elliminated the programming cable being bad, and the radio itself. But I still couldn’t get the radio to read/write.  A few emails and a call to Chris at CSI and he said to do a software re-install and change the drive letter in the drive management software on my Windows 7 laptop.  Still no luck.  BUT, then I thought, well change the drive letter again, and lo and behold, all started working properly again.  This is not a problem with the radio, and according to Chris has only happened a couple of times in many radios sold.  It turns out to be a Windows issue, but is as written above very easily fixed. I have had no problems since.

In QSO with KØSDT, Shane on the RMHam Denver Central repeater system on the CS-800.

AND, Connect Systems, as of this writing, will soon be introducing the DUAL BAND version of this radio, the CS-800D! This edition should be available to buy in the latter part of May.  Stay tuned! Although it seems that most DMR activity is on UHF, there is quite a bit on 2 meters, and of course the reason I keep my dual band analog radio in the truck now is for the use of 2 meters on the Colorado Connection repeaters and the like that operate there, plus some others around Colorado.  The CS-800D will be a great buy, utilizing both modes.  That is going to be cool!  See all of the offerings of Connect Systems at: http://www.connectsystems.com/index.html.

BTW, go to the www.RMHAM.org website for great information on this mode and the setup here along the front range in Colorado. See also the DMR-Marc Network at http://www.dmr-marc.net/ for a great look at what DMR is and how it is being utilized now in amateur radio. I am sure that I will have more adventures and things to say about this really cool fun and exciting mode.

My TYT MD-380 handheld. The MD-390 has a GPS feature too.  These are available easily on Amazon.

 

As I stated earlier, the RMHam group has done an amazing job of setting up linked DMR UHF repeaters here in Colorado. Eventually they have plans to

cover the entire state. Their repeaters essentially all have 2 TDMA time slots and as you may know that enables one repeater to carry two voice conversations simultaneously.  You can read more about all the particulars on how DMR works on other sites, so I won’t cover all that here.  But again RMHam is using top equipment at their sites and I wanted to include a picture or two of one of the repeater sites.  This one actually occupies rack space right next to one of my K-LOVE sites.  And the Colorado Connection has their repeater for this particular area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top and bottom sections of the RMHam Rack in NE Colorado

Excellent work and THANKS RMHam!

During the month of March my Estes Park site suffered from our translator receive antenna being blown nearly off its tower. And when I went to investigate an AT&T monopole tower had been installed less than 30 feet from our antenna.  That really blocked and antennuated the signal that we were receiving from the parent signal nearly 120 miles away.  So, it was time to move the receive antenna.  We obtained permission to get on the monopole tower and I called my great crew from Galvanized Endeavors in Colorado Springs, and up we went to take the antenna down, and put it back up even higher than before, enabling us to receive the Denver signal and rebroadcast that to our listeners in Estes Park Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The monopole tower blocking our antenna (on the smaller tower behind the tree), and one of Galvanized Endeavors guys up the monopole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rafael and Chuck taking the antenna up!

Working at about 65 feet and job done!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Raphael, Chuck, TJ and Derrick! My Boyz!

Also THANKS to Daniel, for getting it all together quickly to get Estes Park back on the air!

If you need tower or antenna work done, call these guys,

they are THE BEST!

http://www.galvanizedendeavors.com/

 

You got to see the article in RadioWorld Magazine about our K-LOVE/Air1 Network Operations Center in a great article by EMF’s own Jeremy Preece (N6JER). Here is the Link: http://www.mazdigital.com/webreader/49128

GREAT JOB JER!

 

SEE back issues of my articles available now! Copy or click these links into your browser to see previous installments:

 

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201701Jan.pdf

 

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201702Feb.pdf

 

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201703Mar.pdf

 

http://www.ke0vh.com/hamshack/archives/TheKE0VHHamshack201704April.pdf

 

I will be adding more to my website archives here soon.

Or see the complete archives at:

http://www.smpte-sbe48.org/wp/

AND

 

Don’t forget the SBE Chapter 73’ Of The Air

IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING

At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both

Broadcast engineering and amateur radio.

Details on how to

join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope

You will be able to join us and share your engineering and

Ham exploits! 73’ es God Be With You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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