Thursday, December 31, 2009

VHF & above + Field Day contests

Here are some links to upcoming contests for 2010:
WIA VHF/UHF Field Day (Jan 16/17)

Ross Hull VHF-UHF Contest (entire month of January)
John Moyle Memorial Field Day (March 20/21)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

23cm operating

As of 20th December, I now have 23cm FM gear, an FT-223R with 10w and a Double-Quad antenna, did some testing against VK2RWI Dural beacon (1296.420) and repeater (1273.500 o/p and 1293.500 i/p) after wasting a couple days trying & monitoring the rptr on the wrong freq.[note: this rptr has been listed incorrectly in past callbooks as 1273.750]

The Double-Quad antenna works well, you can really tell the difference of both the beacon and rptr signal and their respective polarisations when switching between horizontal and vertical for each device.

Playing with the 23cm is interesting, totally different to 2m & 70cm, I found trying the antenna in different places around the house that the best signal from the beacon & rptr was by aiming at the city, which is at a beam heading of 180 deg, whereas the Dural site it is a beam heading of around 280 deg, which appears to indicate that a large lump of steel, glass & concrete is providing a better path than aiming through trees and over a ridge.

Made my first 23cm contact with Keith VK2ZZO on Sunday 27th Dec at 12.20pm local EDST to Lane Cove direct & via the Dural rptr. I heard a few people call back on the WIA broadcast.

Dave VK2JDS reported he could hear the Dural beacon (1296.420) from out near Hill End (QF46), but the rptr was way down, but still interesting, as he couldn't hear the 2m or 70cm from Dural rptrs, which is about 180kms, but over the Great Dividing Range.

Dave VK2JDS (QF46pv) worked Bob VK2MRP/p operating at Mt Ginini (sth of ACT) using the same radio and antenna with 1w on FM.

In summary, I am monitoring either 1294.000 FM simplex call freq or 1273.500 VK2RWI Dural rptr. Hope to try some coastal ducting soon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

EchoLink node 1494

The Ubuntu 9.04/LXDE/WineHQ build for my Echolink just was not cutting it,
the audio channel is still flakey, sometimes TX & RX audio is fine, sometime just one path is ok, sometimes no audio at all, so I have switched to a Win XP Pro machine yesterday to run the Echolink node and had it running in just a few minutes, but spent an hour just fine tuning the DTMF decoding. Maybe this relates to the audio interface of the PC and its driver.

As of last night it is back on air. I will see how it performs, as the last time I ran it on MS Windows, I kept finding it crashed & corrupted and having to reinstall the Echolink program several times over a 12 month period.

I also want to try installing the Echolink Proxy as I eventually want to run a second Echolink node, probably on 70cm. I also want to interface my Echolink with UIview32 for APRS, currently running APRS with Xastir on Linux at home.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Alinco DR-590 2/70 mobile

I finally sorted my problems with my Alinco DR590,
fixed the UHF PA, the radios that were imported into Australia are T model for 440-450 and the 70cm PA is guaranteed to cook itself, hence you could never get more than 30w at 433-434 Mhz, now I put the correct E model components into UHF the PA it can do 42w at 13.8v, (the actual RF block is rated at 45w at 15.2v) but I wound it back to 30w and she runs cool now on high pwr, the way it should be. The basic change is a couple of caps and an inductor, L4 goes from 1.25T on 3mm diam, to 1.25T on 4.0mm diam. It makes a big difference for such a small change.

Then I fixed the freq stability, it kept wandering off freq, it drifted about 4kHz from cold to warmed up, if give it a quick squirt of freezer spray, the TX freq would wander 10 kHz, found the soldering in the osc cct on the VHF main board was looking dry, so retouched the solder joints for all the components associated with the Xtal and it is now stable again.

Only one issue is the mic for the Alinco is crap, so I working on a better mic with DTMF, in fact, I am updating an old Philips FM-900 DTMF mic, a solid mic, with a much better DTMF operation, just replacing the old carbon mic insert with an electret plus resistor divider to supply the DC volts. The reason for this is the Alinco mic was so sensitive it picked up the echo inside the plastic casing, which overides the actual speech audio, plus the DTMF operation is garbled, as the DTMF tones are partially clobbered by the induced sound of pressing the DTMF buttons, so the DTMF tones were not clean.

Anyway, it is back in the car as of yesterday and I can get on 2m & 70cm mobile again. This compliments my mobile operation on 6m FM using the AWA RT85.

Friday, September 18, 2009

EchoLink node 1494

well, I have been doing some more with this over the last few weeks, although time has been scarse, I have managed to install LXDE ontop of the standard Gnome based Ubuntu, and run Echolink (via WINEHQ) to prove that I have more resources on the Echolink Node PC using LXDE, so outgoing audio (from radio to IP side) is now being processed. This proves that Gnome is more resource hungry and not suitable on a dedicated server based applic like Echolink when implemented on older hardware. I definitely recommend Xfce or LXDE for your dedicated applics, but Gnome and KDE are still perfect replacements for a desktop 'workstation' replacement for a Wintel box.

However, having said that, running LXDE created a new problem, incoming Echolink (from IP side to radio) is now non-existant, but this is a soundcard output issues with LXDE which I will have a look at time permitting, so at this point in time, my Echlolink node is running, but not functioning. Realistically, running Echolink via WINEHQ on Linux is not really desirable, but a short gap solution.

Long term, I would like to do some work with 'The Bridge' and 'TheLinkBox' which are Linux based packages, available of SourceForge to provide a Echolink conference bridge (TheBridge) and a conference bridge/radio gateway (TheLinkBox), but looking at the documentation, these
are not simple click, install, run, as compared to the original Echolink package for Wintel, but anyway, it's still a work-in-progress project.

Monday, August 10, 2009

portable testing - Kanangra - Oberon area

mid July

was up around Jenolan Caves area, apart from some bush walking, did some driving around looking at various portable locations good for VHF/UHF/SHF from Kanangra Walls to Edith and to Oberon. Found some good high spots, but hard top find locations that give full 360 degree clear coverage. Some locations you really need to have 4WD vehicle, as most of the roads were dirt and very slippery with some moisture. The idea was to look for some places where you can drag a portable mast and a 2m or 70cm yagi up for some portable terrestrial DXing from. I found some great locations above 1300m ASL, but each favoured a particular direction, nothing seemed to provide a good clear omni-directional location.

Some locations:

33deg 49' 02"S, 149deg 57' 33"E (QF46xe) - the intersection, of the old Edith Road and HorseshoeBend Rd, not bad, but much better travelling north from here along HorseshoeBend Road.

33deg 48' 59"S, 149deg 57' 34"E (QF46xe) - 1300m ASL - along HorseshoeBend Road heading north from the old section of the Edith Road, farmland on western side, state pine forests on eastern side.
Gave good vhf/uhf in a Sth-West-Nth direction. Good if you want shielding from the east.

33deg 48' 13"S, 149deg 57' 40"E (QF46xe) - 1300m ASL - further along HorseshoeBend Road, the next high spot. Near Radiata Ridge. Again this shielded to the east by the pine forest. This would have been great 25 years ago for working into VK5 & VK6 on 2m SSB, would have given a clear shot, whereas "The Rock" was obscured by trees.

33deg 49' 38"S, 149deg 57' 48"E (QF46xe) - 1340m ASL - part of the State Pine forest of Edith Road, now cleared. Nice and high and flat, but close to the main road.

33deg 50' 18"S, 149deg 57' 25"E (QF46xd) - 1340m ASL - part ofthe State Pine Forest, off Bicentennial National Trail, between Ginkin Road and Edith Road. The forest has now been cleared. good takeoff to the Sth & West.

33deg 49' 50"S, 149deg 59' 36"E (QF46xe) - 1320m ASL - off Edith Road, - good takeoff to the Nth East - East - Sth East (Sydney), but nothing west.

Looked at some locations out in Kanangra Boyd National Park, Thurat Tops has good high spots, accessible by fire trails only using 4WD. Did not get there, but probably too heavily wooded. But a good location that is open and clear is on the Kanangra Road about 5kms back from "The Walls" (see photos on Flickr) at 33deg 59' 22"S, 150deg4'13"E (QF56AA) (almost 1220m ASL) excellent takeoff to the nth east, east & sth eas direction. Not as high as "The Rock", but it is clear of high trees.

33deg 48' 58"S, 149deg 58' 50"E- 1320m ASL - this is a ridge north of the Edith Road in the State Pine forest, this spot is currently covered in forest, but is also currently being logged, being a ridge it should have excellent coverage both east & west, I think by this time next year, it will have been cleared to be able to perform some tests. I think this location is most promising in the future (or at least until the next generation of pine trees grow).

The actual highest point is at 33deg 49'56"S, 149deg59'1"E (QF46ex, above 1360m ASL) just west of the CAA tower on Edith Road, but even though it is the highest point, it is heavily covered with forest and is quite useless. Just have to wait until the section of pine forest is cleared. This is about the same height as Mt Bindo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 landing

21st July marks the 40th Anniversary of the first lunar landing by Apollo 11. Fantastic stuff.

Shame the later missions were cancelled, we almost had an amateur repeater sitting on the moon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

AWA RT85 modifications

I have been making some mods to my RT85 transceivers, most recently was adding a fan to the PA heatsink, using some old Intel Pentium2 fans, simply glued them to the heatsink, added a thermal switch to the internal heatsink, a BC-547 NPN, a couple resistors, so the thermal switch drives the BC-547 which supplies 12v to the fan, radio gets hot on long overs, fan cools it now.
(The thermal switch was a PEPI 46deg from WES Components)

Did this to both my 6metre versions (E-band), one for car and the other in the shack. The third RT85 is a A-band for monitoring on 2metres.

Added a Repeater Reverse switch, for the Repeater Reverse switch, I had already converted the RT85 from 2716 eprom to 2732 eprom, which provided two banks of 80 channels, the 2nd bank has all the rptrs in reverse, so when monitoring a repeater channel, just flick the switch to go to Reverse mode.

Added a Tx Power Hi/Lo switch to the remote head, the Hi/Lo power mode is already available, via a link on the remote head, just added the switch to bring it out to the remote head front panel.

Added LED backlighting to the remote head, this was simply adding a small green led & a resistor and soldering to the front cct board in the remote head, this now backlights the key buttons, so they I can identify the buttons when driving the car at night, instead of guessing which button is which.

Replaced the rubber contact switches in the front panel of the Remote head, used some tactile microswitches ( Jaycar p/n SP-0603 ) Just unsolder the old switches, cut off a pair of diagonal legs of the microswitch, bend in the remaining two legs carefully and push in and solder to the board, get the switch base as close to the cct board as possible.

Added a 3.5mm mono socket for the speaker connection from the remote head., unsoldered the tow spade tags, glued the socket (DSE p/n P-1231) and soldered it in. So can now use a speaker with the standard 3.5mm plug

Added a RJ-11 socket for a microphone connection on the Remote head, used a RJ-11 (Jaycar p/n PS-1470 ) as it had the required 4 pins and was the smallest compared to RJ-12 and RJ-45 sockets., glued the socket on the back of the Remote head, next to the 3.5mm speaker socket, and solder wires around to the pins where the old microphone cable fed to. On the microphone lead, simply cut and spliced a 4 pin RJ11 plug cable to the existing microphone curly cord and heatshrinked it.

So finished all this off last week, put one 6metre in the car, the other in the shack, and the 2metre unit in the shack too.

Will add photos, etc, to the website page at some stage.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

APRS update

now running Xastir APRS Client Node on Ubuntu 9.04 at home

now running UIView32 Node on W2K3 at work.

also did a test run of Xastir on Debian 5.0 at home, it works fine.
plus I did a test run of Xastir on Xubuntu 8.10, it works fine as well.

The TT3 is working well in the car, but noticed some dead spots along northern beaches not covered by VK2US-1 and VK2RAG-1. hopefully will get an iGate running at the clubsite to fill those missing spots along the beaches.

EchoLink node 1494

Node 1494 is off air at the moment, having issues with Ubuntu 9.04, WINE and Echolink with the TX Audio dropping out most of the time. Rx Audio is fine.

Trying to determine if it is the PC at fault, as this particular Dell GX240 PC was erratic with Win Xp and is slow & randomly freezes using Ubuntu 9.04 and same when it was Ubuntu 8.10

Suspect the Dell PC, as my older IBM PC works fine with Ubuntu 9.04 and runs faster.

new VK2KFJ blog on Blogspot

this is a relocation of my blog on Yahoo 360, which is being scrapped on 13-July-2009 and my website at which is being scrapped at end of 2009.

my other website is still operational

below is blog entries from my Yahoo Blogs:


Entry for 14 June 2009

relocating my blog from Yahoo 360deg Blog over to here today, as Yahoo 360 is getting the axe. A bit of a shame.

This was the new BLOG site

the new Blog here has no new "nice" URL like the Yahoo 360 Blog had.

(from Yahoo7! Blog)

VK2KFJ back on APRS
I now back on APRS as of 23rd May 2009, after a lengthy absence,(since 2005) where I had the TinyTrak3 and played with UIView on Wintel platforms.

Now running the TinyTrak3 with Garmin HVS-16 and Kenwood 2m h/h for mobile op.
This time I wish to configure the TT3's 2nd config area for HF APRS for country mobile activity.

Since I been active on Linux again, I now re-visiting the X based APRS software for Linux, ie XASTIR and X-APRS clients.

Eager to try these clients out on either (or maybe all) Ubuntu 9.04, Debian 5.0 and Fedora 10
Friday 29 May 2009 - 11:40AM (EST) (from Yahoo 360 Blog)

demise of

Found out recently about the demise of

in other words will be turning off at end of 2009.

New BLOG site is

So, I am relocating from there to here and running it as a Blog instead of a static website,
which is probably better in terms of dynamic content and providing a timeline of my activities.
Friday 29 May 2009 - 11:25AM (EST) (from Yahoo 360 Blog)