Category Archives: General Article

How-to: Perfectly Clean Wires in Minutes!

Here’s a quick one that you have to click through to view in detail.  Thanks to Stuart VK2FSTU for the link.  Solomon NH7ZE says:

Here is an old ham radio operators trick for cleaning wires for soldering that are old and corroded.  It is hard to find this technique printed anywhere!  I am a ham, NH7ZE, and learned it from my elmer (mentor).  I am passing it on.  I hope it helps people who need to clean wires  😛

Left: After – Right: Before

See the full article by clicking here (or the picture above), as hosted on instructables.com.

The CAT Mobile Phone Hotspot

Here’s a simple installation that uses an unpowered, passive parabolic dish to provide mobile phone coverage in remote Australian locations:

The CAT are the Centre for Appropriate Technology, a non-profit who’s vision is “Sustainable and enterprising communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People underpinned by appropriate ‘fit for purpose’ technology.”.

The PDF Flyer from CAT describes the hotspot as follows:

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (“CAT”) mobile phone hotspot uses unpowered passive parabolic ‘dish’ antenna technology to focus and amplify the received and transmitted signal strength at the user end, thus extending coverage well beyond the existing footprint to locations where hand held mobile use would otherwise not be possible. A very marginal 1 bar signal becomes 2 or 3 bars and enables calls to be made reliably.

The parabolic antenna is mounted some metres above the ground, and is aligned in azimuth (direction) and elevation to point at the nearest or most suitable tower. In the standard configuration, the antenna height is arranged such that the phone can be either hand held by a user standing with the phone at the dish focus or mounted on the cradle provided, for hands-free loudspeaker mode operation. The phone/device antenna is thereby loosely coupled with the dish antenna, and the overall configuration achieves an effective increase in both-way gain.

This solution works regardless of the user mobile device technology, and can be used in conjunction with any mobile network provider’s network. In situations where a distant town provides multiple (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) services, a single mobile phone hotspot can be used to connect with any of these services.

Whilst other product solutions are available for locations where 240 volt power is available and the associated equipment can be securely housed in an indoor environment, or where solar panel / inverter equipment can be secured and maintained cost effectively and regularly, the robust CAT mobile phone hotspot is ideally suited to the many outdoor situations such as roadside stops, small remote Indigenous settlements and remote tourism locations where the provision of power and the cost of maintenance would make the overall cost of ownership for powered solutions prohibitive.

Very innovative!

Yaesu C4FM line-up and new affordable C4FM handheld

ORARC has embraced Yaesu’s System Fusion (aka C4FM) digital mode in a big way thanks to Yaesu’s generous rebates on their C4FM enabled DR-1X repeaters for radio clubs.  Like all digital modes (with the possible exclusion of DMR), however, the entry price for C4FM enabled transceivers remains high compared traditional FM-only rigs, for obvious reasons.

Thankfully, as time goes on, more and more C4FM enabled radios are popping up in Yaesu’s transceiver offerings.  The traditional C4FM line-up has been the (well represented at ORARC) FT-991 All-Band, Multi-Mode rig along with the high end FTM-400 Dual-Band Dual-Receiver mobile – both fantastic, touch-screen enabled radios.  Both of these radios represent quite the investment at $1400ish and $700ish respectively at the time of writing, despite being fantastic value for what you get.

FT-991 All-Band, Multi-Moder

FTM-400 Dual-Band Dual-Receiver mobile

More recently the FTM-100 C4FM enabled Dual-Band Single-Receiver mobile has popped onto the scene.  These are also well represented amongst ORARC members from a time when they were a mere $399 – a relative bargain to the current (less compelling) asking price of $550ish.  Reports from members indicate that this too is a solid performer.

FTM-100 Dual-Band Single-Receiver Mobile

At the low end of the mobile line, and of little interest to ORARC members, is the 2m only FTM-3200.  With our C4FM enabled repeaters being on 70cms, I can’t see too many of these being sold on the Mid North Coast – even if it represents good value with 65W output for $300ish.  Yaesu, make a Dual-Band version and we’ll talk….

FTM-3200DR 2M only C4FM/FM mobile

The mobile situation is largely echoed in the handheld line-up with the FT2D Dual-Band Dual-Receiver touch-screen handheld (left) at $670ish and the more traditional FT1D (with lacks the touch-screen but is otherwise remarkably similar to its bigger brother) at $500ish.

Like the FTM-100 mobile above, the FT1D (right) got as cheap at $399 at one point, so there’s a few of them floating around amongst ORARC members.  They’re still on Yaesu’s webpage, but they seem to have disappeared from local suppliers.

Irrespective, $400+ on a handheld is a serious investment (as Yaesu are no doubt aware), so now there’s the new $250ish FT-70DR Dual-Band Single-Receiver handheld to fill the void:

  • C4FM and FM TX and RX with Automatic Mode Selection (AMS)
  • 5 Watts of reliable RF power inside a compact body
  • 700 mW loud audio output
  • Rugged construction meets IP54 (dust / water protection)
  • Huge 1,105 channel memory
  • Wide-Band receive coverage 108 – 579.995 MHz
  • 7.4 V 1,800mAh Lithium Ion battery pack
  • Equipped with external DC jack for DC supply and battery charge
  • Equipped with Mini USB port for convenient memory management and software updates

Whilst not Baofeng money, $250 for a quality brand-name transceiver with C4FM capability undeniably represents good value, so if you’re in the market for a quality affordable hand-held this should definitely be on your shortlist.  It’s worth remembering too that C4FM will get you into one of our repeaters in situations where a conventional FM radio isn’t cutting the mustard thanks to the digital cliff.

Icom Remote Station setup

Too much QRM at your QTH?  No room for that monster 80m beam perhaps?  A remote station may be the answer!  All you need is a little place in the country (or a very good friend) where your (modern) transceiver and antenna array can live, some internet and problem solved!

Maybe you’re sick of lugging your rig on holidays with you?  5W from your 718 not enough?  Holiday antenna too much of a compromise?  Assuming you’re holidaying with internet, remote control is the answer!

Here’s how it’s done with the IC-7300 (step by step), courtesy of Bob McCreadie G0FGX at TX Films.  Skip to 17:24 if you’d just like to see it in action (and bypass the software install and setup):

The video addresses:

  • Setting up your computer and radio
  • Installing the RS-BA1 remote control software
  • Accessing the IC-7300 remotely
  • The RC-28 remote controller encoder (remote tuning knob)

To find out more about Icom’s remote control software, visit the RC-28 IP Remote Control System page (at Icom UK) where you will also find a list of compatible Icom HF radios.

For more information about the IC-7300 look here (at Icom Australia).

TYT MD-2017 Dual Band DMR Handheld – coming May 2017

As spotted by Steve VK2ZSW (thanks Steve!).

Remember all those dual band Chinese DMR radios that are coming to revolutionise the affordability of digital voice modes?  Here’s another one to add to the list, and it’s from the maker of the nearly ubiquitous MD-380 – TYT.  Interesting naming convention they’ve got going on here.

Article below from HamRadioReviews.eu, original post here – published Feb 15, 2017.

TYT just released the first ever image of the upcoming TYT MD-2017 dual band DMR handheld radio.

Back in November, a photo of a poster from PMR expo 2016 was published online, showing the MD-2017 model.  At the time it was still a rumor, as no other official information was released from TYT.  Just 10 minutes ago, the image you see above was published.  Still not at good resolution, but it provides some information.

First and foremost, it is no longer a rumour.  Second, the first 3 bullet points in the characteristics of this “leaflet”, indicate that it does support true TDMA.

It is rated as IP67 waterproof (which is always a plus) and has a GPS module.  Most likely, this will follow other models from TYT like the MD-380 or MD-390, which came in non-GPS and GPS versions.

Other than that, the model looks kind of chunky in size.  It has what looks like a proprietary antenna for waterproofing and a guard for the turning knob at the side.  There does not seem to be a channel-selection knob, which is kind of weird.  There are 4 buttons on the left side, with the PTT being in orange.  On the right side is the cover of the accessory port, which is screwed on for weatherproof-ness.

The keypad has two programmable keys (P1 and P2) which are shared with Menu and Back respectively.  Between them, there is a joystick-type rocker key with an extra button at the centre. Below these, the number keys with “0” at the left side.

The screen is colour and shows frequencies in large numbers.  This is also an indication that the radio is most likely designed with ham radio usage in mind, instead of the commercially targeted designs of previous radios from the company.

Here are the specs mentioned [my comments in square brackets]:

  • Dual time slot for point to point [they probably mean simplex]
  • Dual time slot for repeater
  • Use Time-Division Multiple-Access (TDMA) technology
  • Compatible with Mototrbo Tier I and II [we’ve seen that before]
  • Lone worker
  • Encryption function
  • Analog and digital combined [I hope this means something more, eg. watching analog and digital at the same time]
  • Single call, group call and all call
  • Remote kill/stun and activate
  • Firmware upgradeable

Expected release date is May 2017. No info on pricing yet.