Since the last post, I had gotten involved in a Facebook group with a focus on the mcHF transceiver. As well as being a great forum for sharing knowledge and experiences, it gave me the opportunity to get a very nice case in a group buy organised by one of the members. The case is 2-part design, which is easier to work with than the one I bought previously. It also comes with buttons, a speaker and very nice machined aluminium knobs.
A while ago, while browsing Ham Radio channels on Youtube, I came across an interesting project. Chris, M0NKA, an obviously talented hardware designer had designed a QRP Software Defined Radio (SDR) based on the STM32F407 from STMicroelectronics.
Among other great features of the Raspberry Pi is the General Purpose Input Output array (GPIO). This is an array of pins that can be programmed to behave as pretty much any I/O type that can be represented digitally. The pins can be switched on or off to represent binary 1s and 0s and controlled so as to emulate any communication protocol that uses bits (I2C, SPI, RS232 etc. etc.). However, as a first attempt at working with GPIO, I took a recommendation from Steve EI5DD and wrote a program that will key a transceiver and generate morse code.
Following a suggestion by Galway VHF Group mamber Steve, EI5DD, I thought I would give SSTV a shot. It's not a mode I have any experience with, apart from hearing the transmissions at 14.230MHz when I tune around. Steve mentioned a cross-platform SSTV program QSSTV, which seems to run well on a Pi 2, so that's what I decided to use.
I recently upgraded my shack to an ICOM IC7300, which in the EU specification includes the 4 meter / 70MHz band. I do not have a vertical for 4m, or space for one right now, but had read about others using a small matching unit to provide the necessary match using the Diamond V2000, or Watson W2000, as my version is badged.
Now that the weather is improving, I decided to dust off the /P kit and ensure that all was working will in anticipation of getting some outdoor operation. I had bought a lightweight dual-band beam for this purpose so decided to put it on a pole and see how it performed.
The FT817 from Yaesu is still the most featured portable radio available. The Elecraft KX3 might have better HF performance, but for sheer spectrum coverage, it doesn't come close... unless you spend a few hundred more Euros for the 2W output 2m or 4m transverter. You will definitely have a world class radio, but it still won't do UHF, and would cost something between twice and three times what an FT817 would.
During HF field day 2010, I had occasion to get some experience with the off-centre fed dipole, in this case, a commercially made unit from Buckmaster.
Prior to this, I had heard that OCF dipoles ‘are a compromise’, ‘are noisy’, ‘are deaf’, ‘have wildly varying radiation patterns’ and many other negative comments. During field-day, our experiences definitely gave me cause to doubt the nay-sayers.
I used to have a bunch of radios in my car; an IC7000 for HF, a Kenwood TM D710 for APRS/VHF/UHF and a Cleartone CM7 ex-PMR for 4m AM/FM. They were installed relatively stealthily, but when I came across the successor to the IC7000, the IC7100, I saw how I could aggregate all of this into a single radio.
So... long story short, I sold all the radios that were in the car and bought the IC7100.
I have created image files for CHIRP for both the Baofeng B5, VHF/UHF dual band HT, and the Wouxun UVD1P 4m/2m dual Band HT with the Irish repeater&internet gateway frequencies and where applicable, access tones. They also contain other frequencies that can be interesting to listen to, such as Marine VHF and PMR446.