Friday, July 21, 2017

Experimenters Sources for Electronic Parts and Kits

Interested in electronics? Kit building is a great way to learn and you end up with useful circuits/devices!  Here are some websites (Working!) for any of you that might like to experiment with kit building.


Here's my favorite for audio interfacing your rig for digital modes:


You can't beat $9.95. Just add your own project box.

I buy most of my parts and stuff on Amazon but if you need something local to the Phoenix area, try Circuit Specialists in Mesa or Fry's Electronics in Tempe.

If you have any website for kit building or parts that you would like to share, please do!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Narrow Band FM in Two-Way Radio

Good examples of Narrow NFM are FRS radios, PMR radios, or a modern business-band UHF radios. Narrowband NFM only has a modulation index of .8 which is about half the modulation index of normal FM. You can fit twice as many channels per megahertz (approximate bandwidth 11 kHz with channel spacing 12.5 kHz).

  • NFM may have better spectrum efficiency than FM, but NFM just doesn’t go as far.
The 6 decibels reduction in NFM deviation and modulation index is sadly a 6 dB decrease in signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and this unfortunately means that NFM causes a loss of about 30% of your distance coverage versus regular FM. Of course Narrowband FM works fine when you are nearby, when you have strong signals (full quieting), but when you get in the fringe zone at far distances, Narrowband NFM goes to static quite rapidly.
  • You would need to double or triple your NFM transmitter Watts of power to equal a regular FM transmitter.
  • That means that those who are interested in emergency, disaster, or SHTF simplex radio communications should stick with regular FM instead of NFM whenever possible. Switching from NFM to FM will boost your range by 30%.

The Future of FM

This recent change to NFM will probably be the last of the FM series. In the future, modulation will be all digital. With digital, the spacing between channels can be even more narrow, and the distance performance can be improved.
Proof positive that installing a digital capable vhf/uhf repeater such as Yaesu's Fusion repeater is an act of a true visionary!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Li-ION Battery Alternative for the Yaesu FT-60r Hand-Held Transceiver


By Joe Sammartino, N2QOJ – QCARC/QCECG, Queen Creek AZ

As most FT-60r owners should know, the standard battery that comes with the FT-60r purchase is the FNB-83b.  It is an Ni-Mh type, i.e. nickel metal hydride.  The standard matching charger (PA-44/48) for this battery is designed to ONLY charge this NI-Mh chemistry but can also handle Ni-Cad (nickel cadmium) chemistry.

Most FT-60r users quickly learn that the standard battery does not deliver much operation time under average to heavy use.  The battery is rated at 1400 mAh and 7.2 volts.  Yaesu does not offer an alternative battery as you can see from the owner’s manual excerpt below:


 


The FT-60r is a great handheld with its dual band features and extended receive capability.  It is a perfect fit for emergency communications and other service related use.  What is needed is a modern battery alternative that not only extends the operational use of the FT-60r but also provides additional benefits as well.

Great news!  There is now an option.  Recently, Doug, WB7TUJ, shared with us that he had located such an option.  Vertex, the Land Mobile Radio sister division of Yaesu Amateur Radio, markets several handheld models that share the physical appearance of the FT-60r.  Since the target audience for LMR is public safety, construction, transportation, etc., the power requirements are a bit more demanding.  As a result, these LMR models are usually supplied with the modern Li-ION batteries.

Here is a detailed photo of Doug’s new FNB-67VLIA battery:


 

One of these batteries, the FNB-67VLIA, can be substituted for the standard NiMh battery of the FT-60r.  It can provide 2000 to 2300 mAh of current at 7.2 Volts*.  Here is a picture of the battery from a couple of online sources:




From www.ebay.com :



*You may have noticed that the example products and description actually indicate 7.2, 7.4 Volts and current ratings of 2000 mAh and 2300 mAh.  This is typical of battery sources.  Be sure to read the purchase ads very carefully and buy the best battery at the best price you can, i.e. get the best value for your money.  You are also recommended to buy Vertex branded battery to ensure you are getting exactly what it advertised regarding battery ratings.
  
Let’s review a few features and benefits of this Li-ION battery alternative:
·         Extended operational window - More radio time, especially if you normally operate at reduced power modes.

·         Easier battery management – Can remain in charger, battery can be returned to charger after each use.
·         Ii-ION does not develop “memory” – The “memory” effect does not apply to Li-ION chemistry as it does to NiCad or NiMh battery chemistries.

Do you need a new charger?  Yes!
As mentioned earlier, the Li-ION battery requires a charger specifically designed for it.  That means your original charger that came as a standard accessory for your FT-60r will not work and will damage itself and your Li-ION battery.  Of course, your original charger will continue to work just fine with your original NiMh battery type and is a protected investment.

Here are a couple of Li-ION charger alternatives suitable for the FNB-67VLIA battery:

From www.theantennafarm.com :  (Fast Charger)


From www.ebay.com :  (looks like only for stand-alone battery)



Here is an example of both a charger and battery offering on eBay – Note it is not an authentic Vertex battery but you can make the decision on whether you want to take the chance it will be as advertised.  However, this eBay seller has a good reputation:




Summary
There is now an alternative battery for you FT-60r that can provide the extended operational time that typical emergency communications, service events, and other activities demand.
With a bit of online shopping, you should be able to source this alternative battery for a reasonable cost.

Important NoteFor those of you using vehicle battery DC power cords such as the E-DC-5B cigarette lighter adaptor cord or E-DC-6 adaptor cord with your own power connector:

The FNB-67VLIA battery will not be charged when using such a DC adapter cord.  It is not designed to be charged via the radio DC external power source.
  

Appendix A – Some FT-60r Manual Excerpts concerning battery installation, usage, charging, etc.






  
Appendix B  – Calculating Battery Life for the FT-60r
Use the following table from the FT-60r Owner’s Manual to gauge your operational time from whatever battery you may be using.  Remember, operating the radio at reduced transmit power levels adds additional time to your operating window.



Let’s calculate some expected operating times for both the standard and alternative Li-ION batteries using the above current specifications….
Using 5/5/90 standard usage and stock 1400 mAh battery in 440 MHz band:

TX: ~ 1.6 A (1600 mA), 3 min.
 RX: ~ 0.125 A (125  mA), 3 min.
 STBY: ~ .047 A (47 mA), 54 min.
Actual = 1600mA(3/60) + 125mA(3/60) +47mA(54/60)
Actual = 80mA + 6.25mA + 42.3mA
Actual = 128.55mA used in one hour

How long will the battery last?
1400mAh available / 128.55mA used = 10.89 hours

How about 50% TX and 50% RX?
Actual = 1600mA(30/60) + 125mA(30/60) =  862.5mA
1400mAh / 862.5mA = ~ 1.6 hours

Using 5/5/90 standard usage and Li-ION 2300 mAh battery in 440 MHz band:
TX: ~ 1.6 A (1600 mA), 3 min.
 RX: ~ 0.125 A (125  mA), 3 min.
 STBY: ~ .047 A (47 mA), 54 min.
Actual = 1600mA(3/60) + 125mA(3/60) +47mA(54/60)
Actual = 80mA + 6.25mA + 42.3mA
Actual = 128.55mA used in one hour

How long will the battery last?
2300 mAh available / 128.55mA used = 17.9 hours, ~ 64% more time than standard battery

How about 50% TX and 50% RX?
Actual = 1600mA(30/60) + 125mA(30/60) =  862.5mA
2300mAh / 862.5mA = ~ 2.7 hours, ~ 69% more time than standard battery

  
Joe Sammartino - N2QOJ - jsammartino@gmail.com - 480.270.4563


Monday, December 31, 2012

Attending Your First Hamfest - Some Tips


Hi Folks,

If you plan on attending your first hamfest, try to go with someone who has experience.

In either case, alone or with experienced hams, the following tips from "Ham Radio for Dummies" are excellent.

I promise you will enjoy your first hamfest and all subsequent hamfests for life!

Here's a couple of tips from me first:

Important:  If you are looking for antenna adapters, adapter pigtails, etc., look for the RFSTUFF.com vendor from Congress AZ.  They have very reasonable prices.  Their website stinks.  It used to be great but they are changing over to a new web site format and I don't like it.  They have much more than is listed on the website.

Important:  If you are looking for good COAX antenna line for you base or mobile needs, look for WIREDCO.com vendor from Scottsdale AZ.  Great prices on pre-cut lengths of RG-8X coax with already installed PL-259 connectors.  They also have great selection and pricing on connectors, audio cables, and a lot of other stuff.  Their website is very good.  They sell via Internet and also have an eBay storefront.

These two vendors are usually at all the local hamfests.  WiredCo also attends the Boy Scout Electronics Swap Meet and Recycling Event every 3rd Sunday at Scottsdale Pavilion.  Check out http://electronicfest.com/.  I've attended many times just to re-stock on audio cables, connectors, and coax.  Map:  http://tinyurl.com/cocky2s.

Obviously, the above info refers to two local vendors in the Phoenix area but they do have an Internet presence for non-local readers of this article.

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Regards,

Joe, N2QOJ


http://joe-in-arizona.posterous.com/ - Reprints of very good articles


480.270.4563

=================

Hamfest Tips:

After you have a hamfest in your sights, set your alarm for early Saturday morning (most are Saturday-only events) and get ready to be there at the opening bell. Be sure to bring the following things:

An admission ticket:  You need a ticket, sold at the gate or by advance order through a Web site or e-mail.

Money:  Take cash, because most vendors do not take checks or credit cards.

Something to carry your purchases in:  Take along a sturdy cloth sack, backpack, or other bag that can tolerate somewhat grimy, dusty electronic devices.

A hand-held or mobile rig:  Most hamfests have a talk-in frequency, which is almost always a VHF or UHF repeater. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you can get directions while en route.

If you go with a friend and both of you take hand-held radios, you can share tips about the stuff you find while walking the aisles.

Water and food:  Don’t count on food being available, but the larger hamfests almost always have a hamburger stand. Rarely is gourmet food on hand, but expect the same level of quality as that of the concession stands
at a ballgame. Taking along a full water bottle is a good idea.

Buying at Hamfests

After parking, waiting, and shuffling along in line, you finally make it inside the gates. You’re ready to bargain! All hamfests are different, but here are some guidelines to live by, particularly as a novice hamfest customer.

If you’re new to ham radio, buddy up with a more experienced ham to steer you around hamfest pitfalls.

Most prices are negotiable; more so after lunch, but a good deal goes quickly. Most vendors are not interested in trades, but you do no harm by offering.

Hamfests are good places to buy accessories for your radio, often selling for a fraction of the manufacturer’s price if separate from the radio.

Commercial vendors of new batteries often have good deals on spare battery packs.

Many hamfests now have electricity available so that vendors can demonstrate equipment. If a vendor refuses to demonstrate a supposedly functional piece of gear, or won’t open up a piece of equipment for inspection, you may want to move along.

Unless you really know what you are doing, avoid antique radios. They often have quirks that can make using them a pain or require impossible-to-get repair parts.

Be familiar with the smell of burnt or overheated electronics, especially transformers and sealed components. Direct replacements may be difficult to obtain.

Don’t be afraid to ask what something is. Most of the time, the ham behind the table enjoys telling you and, even if you don’t buy it, the discussion may attract a buyer.

If you know exactly what you are looking for, check the auction Web sites and radio swap sites, such as www.eham.net, www.qrz.com, and www.arrl.org/RadiosOnline/before you attend the hamfest. You can get an idea of the going price and average condition, so you’re less likely to get gouged.

Other activities at Hamfests

Along with buying and selling, many hamfests also have programs and speakers and even license exam sessions, like small conventions. Look for a flyer or check the hamfest Web site for information about special services that may be available.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review - Wouxun KG-UV3D Dual Band Ham Radio


Hello folks,

I got my grubby Western hands on this piece of Occidental communications gear recently.

I'll give you my thoughts by starting with my one word summary - VALUE.

It is an absolute value of function, features, and fit. Maybe we all have been "programmed" for far too long that a good dual band handheld has to be $300 plus and come with a big three badge - Kenwood, Icom, or Yaesu.

Well, I learned a long time ago that there are disruptive product offerings out there. Because of my longtime association with 220 MHz, I became aware of Alinco. They too provide exceptional value in both handheld and mobile form factors.

It was just a matter of time before these Chinese manufacturers attacked the job-site and LMR market with their offerings. With a little h/w programming tweak by their designers - BINGO - Amateur Radio handhelds are born, benefiting from established models and extensive offerings of accessories.

Does it compare favorably with my tri-band Kenwood TH-F6A - yes. Is it meant to be a 100% match, absolutely not. But when you compare with a standard run-of-the-mill dual bander, the Wouxun KG-UV3D is a stand-out. This specific model is offered by the California distributor, Powerwerx, and it lists for $119.99.

People focus on price for these radios and one can understand that - it is the kind of positive sticker shock that we don't get to experience very often. But that focus on price alone is not really fair. The Wouxun has all the features you need in a handheld - VFO mode, Memory mode, dual receivers, both CTCSS and DPL/DCS, DTMF, 128 memories, voice prompting, battery voltage indicator, progammability (keypad, computer, and clone cable), and lots more.

Here is the full list:

  • Dual band monitor (VHF/UHF, VHF/VHF, UHF/UHF)
  • Dual alpha numeric, backlit display with channel name edit
  • Selectable high/low power settings (VHF: 5W high/1W low) (UHF: 4W high/1W low)
  • Includes extended life 1700 mAh high capacity li-ion battery as standard
  • Includes intelligent desktop 3-4 hour rapid charger
  • Loud speaker audio output (500 mW)
  • Bright flashlight illumination function
  • Meets IP55 waterproof rating
  • English female voice prompts enable non-sighted operation (can be turned off)
  • 128 memory channels (shared)
  • VOX Function
  • Digital FM radio (76-108MHz) with automatic tuning and storing, radio frequency display, 18 FM memories in 2 banks
  • Wide/narrow bandwidth selection (25 or 12.5 kHz)
  • Power on display: show battery voltage, 6-character customizable welcome message, or display test
  • Windows PC programmable, free software available for download. Optional low cost cable (SKU: WXUSB or WXSER) required.
  • Radio to radio cloning with optional cable (SKU: WXCLN)
  • Same channel: VHF TX & UHF RX or UHF TX & VHF RX available
  • 105 groups DCS/50 groups CTCSS
  • DTMF encoding (includes ABCD tones, continuous with button press duration)
  • CTCSS encode/Decode (no decode delay)
  • Stopwatch function
  • SOS function
  • Low-voltage voice prompt
  • Busy channel lockout
  • Selectable transmit over timer (from 15 to 600 seconds)
  • Selectable step sizes of 5, 6.25, 10, 12.5, 25, 50 or 100 kHz
  • Multiple scan modes including priority scan
  • Keypad lock (auto or manual)
  • Programmable by computer or keypad
  • High contrast white backlit keypad. All keys are backlit (except A/B & TDR)

Here's the list of what you get:


  • Dual band radio
  • Dual band antenna
  • Extended life 1700 mAh high capacity li-ion battery pack (about 13 hours operating time)
  • Intelligent desktop 3-4 hour rapid charger
  • Desktop charger AC power cord
  • Belt clip
  • Wrist strap
  • English user manual (Also downloadable)
  • Powerwerx quick start reference sheet (Free Download)
  • Programming software (Free Download)

It has a built-in LED flashlight that, at first, I thought was kind of a novelty. Then I thought back on my 25-30 years of radio activities....hmmm...that little feature could make a difference under the right conditions. I felt the same about the built-in FM radio coverage - useful.

Audio output on receive is outstanding - just the right amount of level and very good tone and frequency response. Transmitted audio is very good - as good or better than any of the big three and on par with Alinco handhelds which are well known to provide exceptionally good transmitted audio.

My limited experimentation can't speak to selectivity and deeper characteristics but that was not my intent. I really wanted to operate this device as an appliance and from a new-to-ham radio perspective. Â The manual is an easy read! Shocking, isn't it, from China? I think the Powerwerx, or some other stateside folks, have something to do with that.

I think anyone would who understands the features to begin with, reads the manual, and then practices with the radio, would not have any trouble at all in becoming proficient within a day or so.

I got the radio with several basic frequencies loaded. I will be putting in a bunch of local 2 Meter and 440 frequencies for the next testers to try out for some real radio checks.

I don't have to remind anyone that this review is my opinion, do I? Who else's opinion would it be?

It's not expert testimony and it is not biased by some bad - or good - Chinese food I ate in Detroit in in 1978.

Regards,

Joe, N2QOJ

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Save Your Audio Settings - Windows PC

Do you find that your recording and player settings get changed from time to time?

Lots of applications, like SKYPE, take over control of your mic and output settings. When you are finished using SKYPE, your settings may be completely changed for your music player or other sound application. Also, if you have hobbies like amateur radio, podcasting, videography, etc., this can be a huge time drain to re-set the audio mixer everytime.


There is a solution to managing your audio mixer settings: QuickMix


QuickMix is a simple applet that allows you to store all or part of the current state of your audio mixer in a settings file, and to restore the mixer to that state whenever you want.
And, it's free.....It works on WIN 9X, WIN NT, WIN XP, and WIN 2000. It does not work on VISTA or Win 7.

The nice feature is the ability to setup the audio mixer to your liking and then save a "profile" of those settings. So, if you have different settings for different applications, just setup the audio mixer setting for each scenario and save a suitably named profile. Then, all you have to do is load that profile from QuickMix and all your settings are automatically setup as needed.


You can visit the website here: http://www.ptpart.co.uk/quickmix/


You can download here,
QuickMix. Feedback is always welcome, Joe

Monday, September 7, 2009

Record Your PC Session to Video (Windows)

Do you write computer tutorials?

Would recording your PC session help you explain a new program or application to another individual?

Would you like to capture your screen activity for a video you are producing?

Try one of these software solutions:

CamStudio - freeware

Jing (browser-based, MAC supported also) / Snagit / Camtasia (not free) - Popular solutions from the folks at TechSmith.

If you have something else to recommend, please do!