UV5R Extreme

I discovered that a UV5R walkie can be programmed to TX on one band and RX on another band. Yep it’s true. You can’t actually get it to cross band (TX and RX at the same time) but you can use two UV5R’s to make a link band repeater – and it’s pretty easy.

So here’s the scenario. One 5R as a receiver (say on UHF) and the other set on VOX (cabled together or in a pinch, speaker to speaker I guess) to TX on VHF. There ya go, instant link band repeater for <$100! No can filters or fancy diplexers of any sort, batteries built in. And you could use the stock antennas or you could make a nice little dual band antenna – cheap. Pop this up on a high building or a tethered weather balloon 🙂 and Bob’s yer Uncle! Perfect for any emergency – or the hunt/fish camp.

I’ll let you know how this works out…

IMG_20140329_113523[1]Instant link band repeater!

Officially Spring

It’s officially spring and I’m a bit late at announcing it. Sorry to anyone waiting for the official word from me. Our cat has decided that the weather isn’t too-too bad and has been venturing outside from time to time. In fact yesterday, he went out to investigate a family of birds that were attempting to nest in the bushes right at the end of his ramp/fence. Not sure how successful he was at evicting them. One of the cats’ buddies keeps coming around asking him to come out and play but he’s not that interested in socializing I suppose and doesn’t respond.

And yes, our cat has 24/7/365 access to the outside via a “cat door”. I know, spoiled eh? Actually, it’s a lot easier for us because now we don’t have to continually let him in and out. Which can be annoying. I’m sure the other cats wonder how he can go right through a window because so far no other animal has come through. Our cat took a couple of days to figure it out too but now he’s a pro at it.

Spring == antenna work. There’s a few things I need to do. For example, I have to swap out my 6 meter beams. The one I have up right now, although it has good gain, only has a bandwidth of roughly 400 Khz. The other beam with slightly less gain has a bandwidth of roughly 2 Mhz. And the big job for the season is swapping the Antron 99 @ 32 feet with the Diamond tri bander @ 22 feet. This won’t make a whole bunch of difference but it will certainly help. There are a couple of repeaters that are a bit noisy to me so this will clean them up. I also need to re-locate my 80 meter sloper. Not quite sure to where but draped over the back yard won’t do for summer.

I’ll post some pics of the improved antenna farm 🙂

 

New Ham Exam

I know this may sound harsh towards RAC but they seem so happy and excited about the new Amateur radio exam. I’m wondering if anyone at RAC actually looked at any of the questions on the exam. I also wonder how many at RAC could actually PASS the test if they were given it today. I’ll give some examples:

Who has authority over antena installations including antenna masts and towers?
 A) The Minister of Industry
 B) The local municipal government
 C) The person planning to use the tower or their spouse
 D) The majority of neighbours residing within a distance of three times the proposed antenna structure height

Turns out that A. is the answer. Well, “the minister of industry” supposedly means “industry canada” – not to mention the fact that “antenna” is spelled incorrectly.

If you are planning to install or modify an antenna system under what conditions may you not be required to contact land use authorities to determine public consultation requirements?
 A) When transmitting will only be done at low power
 B) When the structure is part of an amateur radio antenna
 C) In a rural area
 D) When an exclusion criterion defined by Industry Canada applies

D. is the answer here

The land use authority has not established a process for public consultation for antenna systems. The radioamateur planning to install or modify an antenna system:
 A) must wait for the land use authority to develop a public consultation process
 B) must fulfill the public consultation requirements set out in Industry Canada’s Default Public Consultation Process unless the land use authority excludes their type of proposal from consultation or it is excluded by Industry Canada’s process
 C) must implement a public consultation process of their own design
 D) can proceed with their project without public consultation

B. is the answer.

So, all I’m saying is, what? Who thought this stuff up? Surely if RAC had any influence on this process they must be all university graduates in English and must be the top of their class!

I can’t even continue writing this – sorry.

 

Winter

Enough already ok? Woke up this morning to another inch or more of SNOW, high winds, etc. So bad in fact that the better half decided not to risk the trip to work. And, we were just in a melting trend. In fact, I could see some grass on the front lawn. It’s a good thing the scientists renamed “global warming” to “climate change“. They are a smart bunch.

All over North America this year its been a brutal winter. Either that or the winters have mostly been like this in the past, but the last few years have seen milder than usual conditions and we were getting spoiled. I really wanted to get out there and move my 2 meter vertical dipole to the other side of my TV tower to cut down on intermod. That will now have to wait. Man, always something.

If anyone has a date in mind for sustained mild weather, please leave the date in the comments of this post and i’ll plan to do some stuff then. Thanks.

 

Industry Canada vs RAC

Luckily, I have a Google Alert set up for “ham radio”. Imagine my surprise when I received an alert from the Southgate  website stating that the new Amateur exams had finally arrived. Oh really? Yes indeed, it seems Industry Canada (IC) had provided an all new Q&A for the Basic and Advanced exams. No fanfare, just did it. Right away I wrote to RAC (Radio Amateurs of Canada) to get some clarification on this ruling. RAC didn’t even get a chance to dispute it until this very morning (March 10, 2014) . From what I gather, the change was made on Feb.24/2014. From what I understand, RAC had “some input” into this process but not as much as they would have liked – more of a consulting thing than actually making the entire exam, which is fine on the surface. Since there was roughly 1500 questions (in both French and English) with four possible answers for each, you can imagine the magnitude of this project. Dealing with a federal agency isn’t that efficient as yours truly can attest to from personal experience.  You could write RAC and ask them. I did. They are a very helpful crew indeed.

After giving the whole thing a quick peruse, I’ve discovered that not only is the exam not any easier (fine) you’ll need an even a higher degree of English than you did before. Seriously, is it a radio exam or an English exam? Instead of making the test easier to comprehend, it is even wordier than before! Looks to me like they expanded some questions (read: padded with more unnecessary words) just so it would fit the printed out page more fully. Nothing to do with adding clarity at all. Let’s leave the wordy drivel to UGG shall we?

And, there are errors in THIS exam as well! Yes, they will probably fix them but the question is when? And if I’m writing the exam before the question bank is fixed, will the correct answer work or do I have to answer these question wrong on purpose just to pass? Imagine having to purposely make mistakes just to pass an exam. Think this would fly with the drivers test? L.O.L. No, it wouldn’t.

So having said all that, at least there are some positives. For one, I can now study online using any web enabled device instead of downloading the windows-only test generator. The Q&A bank can be downloaded in PDF form and read on any device that supports PDF. Also, the exam can be broken down into “sections” allowing the budding operator to just study the particular section that troubles them separately. Long overdue.

Conclusion: the questions that are absolutely wrong should be fixed pronto. Scores should be calculated using the discretion of the examiner. God help the amateur that must endure the exam at an IC location where no doubt only the wrong answers will suffice.

Please stand by…

Oh Spring Please Arrive!

I’m sitting here thinking of my next project but then I look outside and there’s still snow and it’s STILL under the freezing mark. Man, it’s been a long cold winter. I look longingly at the new air tools I have thinking how wonderful these will be to use if it was only warmer! But, what to make?

Obviously a new antenna. I have almost completed the driven element for my UHF corner reflector so I’ll get at that for sure. Hopefully installed at the highest point (oh right, I’ll need more LMR400 or 600 coax – stupid coax). Then I can probably get into Detroit on simplex.

Then there’s the whole HAM MESH thing. Need a 2.4Ghz yagi and some feedline for that too. Also need to flash the router that I got from VE3FEX (long story best told in person). Yes, I could do that in the cold but since I’ll need an outdoor antenna, I have no way to test it. Plus I need to get all my friends in the Michigan on board. This can wait until after the Dayton Hamvention where I hope to pick up an antenna for cheap.

Then there’s the problem of switching my tri-band Diamond antenna (at 22 feet) for the Antron 99 (at 34 feet). Yes, it will make a difference for my VHF/UHF range and I don’t really care about local 10/11 meter coverage. The A99 will work fine (maybe even better) for DX work so this needs to be done ASAP. Only problem is, who’s going to do it? Ya, I’m a fraidy cat at any height over 5 feet although I can walk on the roof now without peeing my pants. Good ol’ necessity eh? Once the tower climbing problem is solved (I may just have to suck it up and do it myself), I’ll have a much “hotter” station to be sure.

Also, I may try to make a much larger G5RV – the 102 foot model. Unfortunately, the tree in the front yard will have to be pressed into service for one end and the XYL isn’t too happy about that 🙁 Too bad my neighbours aren’t into it because they have much bigger trees! Ah well.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out – like in JUNE.

 

The high price of HAM radio

Don’t know if any of you have looked at the prices of used ham radio equipment lately. I’ve been sort of (i.e. mildly) interested in a 2 meter SSB rig to try out that mode. So off I went to Google. It’s just unbelievable to see 30 year old rigs going for more (or at least the same) price as they were NEW. I mean jeez Louise. For the most part, radios that I’ve come across are (possibly) dual band all mode radios that guys want 600-800 dollars for – and they are OLD. Gosh for twice that I can get a brand new Kenwood TS-2000 that does a way better job at just about everything – and also has a warranty. To me, $200-300 seems a lot more reasonable albiet still pricey.

I realize these guys payed big bucks for these rigs way back when but you know, I paid $360 for a VIC-20 computer back in the 80’s and what’s it worth now? Nothing. Could you imagine the uproar if I put it up for sale at $350? Oh, I’ll throw in the original manual too! Big stinking deal – I can find almost any manual on the web for free – or at least cheap! And for the most part, guys will not come down a penny.

I’m also tired of going to hamfests to see the same old 30 ‘boat anchors’ with huge price tags. Not sure how it’s worth it to buy a table, travel 2 hours, sit there for 6 hours to try and sell one of these rigs to the same guys that passed it up the last 10 hamfests without lowering the price one damned dollar! Tell ya what, pay me $14,500 for my ’08 Chevy Cobalt – it’s in good shape too – and I’ll buy your circa 1985 radio for $600. Uh huh.

Doesn’t make sense to me. So, if anyone has a 2 meter/440 SSB (or even just a 2m OR 440) they want to part with for a reasonable amount of money, please, let me know! And when I sell it I promise to give the next guy a better deal than I got. Promise!

‘Nuf bitchin’. Have a great day!

Run For Mental Health

If there’s any local readers out there (you know who you are) please help support this event. At least if you support this cause your money will stay in the area. In fact, you can actually drive by the building and see your money hard at work. It may even turn out that a certain HAM radio club may be there as well so you may even see HAMs hard at work. Pretty exciting eh?

Oh and if you’re undecided who to sponsor, please sponsor Carissa Hodgson!

 

 

CKARC

I took the plunge and now I’m the assistant webmaster for the CKARC.CA website. So that’s four sites now. ckarc.ca, ckarc.net, darkradio.net and ve3ugg.com (yep, this one). Much better for the club as now updates can be made much easier than contacting poor old Austin, VE3NCQ/AK4OG – as he’s a busy guy with other pursuits.

My plan is to convert the .net website into a mobile friendly one. Being as hams are on the cutting edge of technology (right?) lot’s of our members have mobile devices. The .ca site works fine with my tablet but on my Nexus4 phone, not so great. That might take some careful planning and possibly some hair-pulling but I think I can pull it off. The website silly, not my hair (there’s very little left anyway).

Wish me luck! And as always…

Stay Tuned!

 


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