Monday, October 17, 2016

RTL-SDR.COM latest FM-Notch Filters.

I just received 2 units direct from RTL-SDR The full review will be up here in the upcoming days. The construction is rock solid. The price. Insanely cheap. See you all soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Console preview #4

Simon just released the public preview v #4 of SDR-Console. I was :) a die hard HDSDR user but v3 really evolved into something amazing. The list of supported SDR'S keeps growing. The full list is shown on the left.

So many details and features make Console v3 the top frontend of choice. Please consider sending Simon (the developer) a small donation for all his hard work.

I suggest you read Paul's (N4FF) quick start guide

SDR-Console Quick Start

SDR-Console v3 #4 Download

Some new addition: CW Skimmer output. IQ output. Sat Tracking & Rig Control via Omnirig.


Quick update

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have new SDR hardware & HF filters being sent to me for review. I will be posting information about them shortly.

Looks like I have been bit by chasing paper awards. So many contests going on 20m lately. Ham radio is non stop action. I really love this part of the hobby.




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

CQ CQ CQ ALL U.S. Hams

The US House of Representatives passed the Radio Parity Act. It will ensure that every ham in the US, regardless of the community they live in, will have the opportunity to practice their avocation from their own homes without breaking any rules or fear of reprisal. If enacted, amateurs who are living in deed-restricted communities would be guaranteed that there would be no preclusion of Amateur Radio communications by an HOA (Home Owner Association), that the Amateur would have the ability to construct an effective outdoor antenna on property under exclusive use of the licensee, and that the HOA must allow such facility using the least practicable restriction by the HOA to achieve their lawful purposes. In essence, this is important especially for people who live in an area that forbids them from erecting external antennas. It still needs to pass the US Senate.


Click Here Please to visit the page to send a message to your Senators to approve the bill.

Thanks You and 73
Mike-KD2KOG

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DX-Toolbox DEAL

I worked out a deal personally with Black Cat systems software for the SDRplay Facebook group that I admin for but anyone here can also use my discount link for DX-Toolbox (OS X or Windows).

This is the propagation software I use daily. The program is now $19.99. DX-Toolbox is actively developed and in my opinion spot on when it comes to predicting HF band conditions. Big thank you to Chris for doing this for me. I make zero $$$ on any of the deals made for the radio community. Yes I purchased my own copy :)


If you would like to purchase this software at a discounted price this is the link below
CLICK HERE

Friday, August 26, 2016

$20 RTL-SDR v3 edition

On August 16th 2016 rtl-sdr.com released the brand new v3 edition of their very well known RTL based SDR dongle.The v3 edition has added a lot of new features but one feature that stands out is the ability to receive HF.

Without getting overly technical this new model will allow you to listen to HF from 500 kHz right on up to 24 MHz by making a selection of the Q branch within any supported frontend.

The previous editions also allowed you to listen to HF but you needed to make some modifications to the PCB.

Now If you want to listen to DX on 80m, 40m & 20m... No problem. Feel like listening to world news as it happens and unfiltered...No problem. How about listening to clandestine or Military operations...No problem. Listening to HF communication is just one feature that was added. You can still receive transmissions from 30 MHz up to about 1.8 GHz.

What I mentioned above is just some of the additions added to the v3. This dongle packs a lot of punch for $20.00. Everyone says that the RTL-SDR'S "Allows you to get your feet wet in the world of SDR'S" Which is true but with this new v3 you get so much more for such a small investment. $20.00 is nothing compared to some of the prices of HF SDR'S. Don't expect the v3 to match up head to head with a $700 SDR with a 16bit ADC. One thing I will say is that the new v3 edition can hold it's own and actually quite well.

This one is without a doubt staying in my collection. rtl-sdr.com has a great product. I can't say enough good things about this company. They took a run of the mill 820t2 and made it into something worth using and enjoyable. With the right software and antenna you have a complete coverage SDR for 20.00


 Apologies in advance for the quality of the video. I'm still waiting for my camera to come in. I shot this with my cell phone in one take unedited. See you all on the next post. Before you watch my video I highly recommend you bookmark the following sites

RTL-SDR
London Shortwave


Friday, August 19, 2016

WLN KD-C1

 I just got the radio about 2 hours ago and already I'm super impressed with it. I will be doing a write up in the upcoming days. Right off the bat the RX audio is loud and clear. Did a quick test on the Alpine repeater out in New Jersey and was told I sounded fine. Honestly for $20.00 how can you go wrong. Much more to come on this model. In case you can't wait
CLICK HERE




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

HDSDR Master frequency list.

About a year ago I started to compile a master HDSDR frequency list of common HF frequencies for personal use. My list has about 1000 entries and is updated often.

 I decided to make this list available to all SDRplay RSP users free of charge. It makes tuning common broadcasts within HDSDR so much easier.



If your interested in the list or would like to learn more about the SDRplay RSP SDR I invite you to join us is in our SDRplay RSP Facebook group. We have over 3,400 members and it's going daily.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

BTECH uv-5001 2nd gen needs fans part 2

A few months ago I posted that the UV-5001 needed some sort of cooling and after numerous complaints BTECH released the v3 aka gen3 version of the UV-5001 which included a very small and loud internal fan. The community seemed happy and loved that BTECH addressed the issues but this newer model still had issues.




My friend John who is no stranger to the world of Chinese import radios stepped up to the plate and posted a fantastic UV-5001 gen 3 internal fan mod. John's site is loaded with many how-to's & new release reviews.

The original 12v fans I installed died and to be honest I wanted to ditch this radio and go with a brand new BTECH UV-50X3 but for some reason I can't do it. Granted my radio does have some quirks and a design flaw but I just chouldent do it... Despite all the problems it does pack some serious punch.





The fan I decided to go with is a single 12v Artic cooling f8 80mm priced at $6.00 shipped. I have it in the same configuration as the last fan. Fresh air is blowing down onto the rear part of the heat-sink. I tried doing this in the reverse (fan pulling hot air off the heat-sink) and the radio still overheated. The Artic f8 is moving a greater volume of air vs the dual fans I had. The radio used to get a slightly warm to the touch with 2 fans but now using a single fan the heat-sink is not even warm and the radio works as it should.








This does leave plenty of room to come up with your own DIY Arduino fan controller so the fan is not running all the time. The possibilities are up to you and that is what this hobby is all about.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Amateur Contact Log, HDSDR & The RSP SDR

Amateur Contact Log is my logger of choice since March of 2016. I did try LOG4OM & Ham Radio Deluxe along with a few other package. Since I'm only a General class ham and I primarily chase DX... Amateur Contact Log had one important DX cluster feature that I could not find in any of the other packages "Only show DX spots that are in the General portion of the USA band allocation". Basically that is my fail-safe that I don't go outside of my frequency band-plan when using the built in DX Cluster viewer. It will only show DX spots for frequencies that are within the General class privileges.

Now that the first issue was solved I had another big one. Amateur Contact Log does not support Omni-Rig. Without Omni-Rig I can't synch my SDR frontend (HDSDR) to my logger and visa versa.

Coming from a heavy SDR background I felt a little limited with all the SDR equipment I own. Amateur Contact Log only supports direct serial control of the rig and locks the port.

I Finally got everything working. Big thank you to my good friend Paul (NN4F) for the heads up about Virtual Serial Ports Emulator.

Below is a complete walk-threw/how-to for setting up Amateur Contact Log & HDSDR with full rig control with complete bi-directional communication You can apply this how-to with any logger that does not support Omni-Rig and uses direct serial rig control.

First I will start with the links to all the needed apps. This has only been tested on Windows-7 64bit. I'm not sure if  Virtual Serial Ports Emulator will work with anything above Windows 7.

Amateur Contact Log $25.00 (Ham radio logging software and rig control within the logger)
Virtual Serial Ports Emulator 32bit Free 64bit $25.00 (Virtual com port/com port sharing)
HDSDR Free (SDR front end app)
Omni-Rig Free (Rig control to and from HDSDR)

I will assume a few things before we start.

1: You have a SDR and a RF Sense switch that is properly configured to put your SDR'S input to ground when you key up your rig. I don't want you to fry your SDR'S front end. This will also work with a rig that has the IF tapped.

2: You have HDSDR installed and configured. You can read the guide I did for SDRplay using the RSP in HDSDR by clicking here.

3: You know the real com port your computer is using for rig control. In my case its COM 7 for control. Check your device manager.

Step A: Install Virtual Serial Ports Emulator. Some issues have been posted when making a virtual com port above COM 9. I would suggest you make your VCP COM 9 or lower. In this setup I also used COM 9.

1-Launch Virtual Serial Ports Emulator.
Click the button labeled: Create new device

Select Splitter & Next

Under Data source select your real com port that has rig control. Assign it a virtual com port below COM 10 if possible. Select settings and match the speed of the real com port to the virtual com port. My rig and real com port are set for 38400. Check your rigs manual for com port speed. 

You should now see the settings we just configured with the lower box showing Initialization OK (1).

Save your settings to the desktop. I named my setup as "Radio"

Move the settings file we just saved to the desktop (Radio) and move it to the startup folder. This will save us from having to remember to launch the VCP every time we want to use our rig along with HDSDR and the logger.

Step B: Install Amateur Contact Log
1
Configure ACL'S Rig Control. This is under settings and rig control.
Remember we are using the VCP com port which is now COM 9.

Step C: Install Omni-Rig.
1: Configure Omni-Rig. Launch Omni-Rig and Edit Rig 1.
Remember we are using the VCP com port which is now COM 9.

Step D: Install HDSDR
1: Configure HDSDR to use OMNI-RIG
Select options (F7) CAT to Radio (Omni-Rig).

Select options again (F7) select TX checking off the above two options. We now have a new button on the main HDSDR screen labeled TX. This button will trigger the radios PTT circuit (microphone). This gives me lot's of options with a wireless customer controller :)

Harmony...




If you found this step by step useful throw a buck in the jar.
Click the button below. It's a fixed amount of $1.00
 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

$5.00 tuning knob for SDRuno


Here it is. The complete plans and parts to make your very own tuning knob for SDRuno. You can edit the code to make it work with other frontends but since I do a lot of testing and work for SDRplay I will only release SDRuno devices from now own. The parts are very inexpensive. The video below was taken on my cell phone only to show the proof of concept. You can make use of the rotary encoder button but I decide to keep in very basic. I deleted 2 byte codes in the source code. I would like you to explore and learn about how these micro controllers work. It's really not that hard. Have fun. The 2 byte codes needed are at the bottom. remove the // and enter the needed codes in the FIND ME section (source code lines 97 & 102). Have fun.


1a Digispark ATTINY85 $1.59
2a Keyes-040 Rotary Encoder $1.59

If you would like more background information about the 2 boards here are 2 links with really good information.
Rotary Encoder
Digispark

The connections are as follows.
Keyes-040 Gnd to ATTINY85 Gnd
Keyes-040 + to ATTINY8 5v
Keyes-040 SW=No Connection
Keyes-040 DT to ATTINY8 Pin 0
Keyes-040 CLK to ATTINY8 Pin 2

You will need 4 pieces of software

1a The ATTINY85 Drivers
2a The Arduino IDE
3a The Adafruit Trinket Drivers
4a My source code (posted below)



1a Before you plug in the ATTINY85 you will need to install the drivers.If your on a 64bit flavor of windows double click DPinst64.exe If your on a 32bit system double click DPinst.exe. After the drivers install. Reboot and plug in the Digispark.

2a Install the Arduino IDE from the link above. Follow the directions in this link to add the Digispark boards to the Arduino IDE. Make sure after you finish all 4 steps and your ready to upload the code you need to select Digispark default-16.5Mhz under tools/board when uploading my sketch in the Arduino IDE.

3a Download the master.zip from github. move the folder called TrinketHidCombo from Adafruit-Trinket-USB-master to Documents\Arduino\libraries.

4a Don't forget. Lines 97 & 102 are missing byte codes. You will need to explore a little bit and find the missing codes :) I can't force you to like electronics or micro controllers but it really is a lot of fun when you can prototype any idea you might have.

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#include "TrinketHidCombo.h"
 
#define PIN_ENCODER_A 0
#define PIN_ENCODER_B 2
#define TRINKET_PINx  PINB
 
static uint8_t enc_prev_pos = 0;
static uint8_t enc_flags    = 0;
 
void setup()
{
  // set pins as input with internal pull-up resistors enabled
  pinMode(PIN_ENCODER_A, INPUT);
  pinMode(PIN_ENCODER_B, INPUT);
  digitalWrite(PIN_ENCODER_A, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(PIN_ENCODER_B, HIGH);
 
  TrinketHidCombo.begin(); // start the USB device engine and enumerate
 
  // get an initial reading on the encoder pins
  if (digitalRead(PIN_ENCODER_A) == LOW) {
    enc_prev_pos |= (1 << 0);
  }
  if (digitalRead(PIN_ENCODER_B) == LOW) {
    enc_prev_pos |= (1 << 1);
  }
}
 
void loop()
{
  int8_t enc_action = 0; // 1 or -1 if moved, sign is direction
 
  // note: for better performance, the code will now use
  // direct port access techniques
  // http://www.arduino.cc/en/Reference/PortManipulation
  uint8_t enc_cur_pos = 0;
  // read in the encoder state first
  if (bit_is_clear(TRINKET_PINx, PIN_ENCODER_A)) {
    enc_cur_pos |= (1 << 0);
  }
  if (bit_is_clear(TRINKET_PINx, PIN_ENCODER_B)) {
    enc_cur_pos |= (1 << 1);
  }
 
  // if any rotation at all
  if (enc_cur_pos != enc_prev_pos)
  {
    if (enc_prev_pos == 0x00)
    {
      // this is the first edge
      if (enc_cur_pos == 0x01) {
        enc_flags |= (1 << 0);
      }
      else if (enc_cur_pos == 0x02) {
        enc_flags |= (1 << 1);
      }
    }
 
    if (enc_cur_pos == 0x03)
    {
      // this is when the encoder is in the middle of a "step"
      enc_flags |= (1 << 4);
    }
    else if (enc_cur_pos == 0x00)
    {
      // this is the final edge
      if (enc_prev_pos == 0x02) {
        enc_flags |= (1 << 2);
      }
      else if (enc_prev_pos == 0x01) {
        enc_flags |= (1 << 3);
      }
 
      // check the first and last edge
      // or maybe one edge is missing, if missing then require the middle state
      // this will reject bounces and false movements
      if (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 0) && (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 2) || bit_is_set(enc_flags, 4))) {
        enc_action = 1;
      }
      else if (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 2) && (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 0) || bit_is_set(enc_flags, 4))) {
        enc_action = 1;
      }
      else if (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 1) && (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 3) || bit_is_set(enc_flags, 4))) {
        enc_action = -1;
      }
      else if (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 3) && (bit_is_set(enc_flags, 1) || bit_is_set(enc_flags, 4))) {
        enc_action = -1;
      }
 
      enc_flags = 0; // reset for next time
    }
  }
 
  enc_prev_pos = enc_cur_pos;
 
  if (enc_action > 0) {
     //TrinketHidCombo.pressKey(0x00,FIND ME);
    TrinketHidCombo.pressKey(0,0);
    delay(10);
  }
  else if (enc_action < 0) {
     //TrinketHidCombo.pressKey(0x00,FIND ME);
    TrinketHidCombo.pressKey(0,0);
    delay(10);
    }
  else {
    TrinketHidCombo.poll(); // do nothing, check if USB needs anything done
  }
}


If you found this step by step useful throw a buck in the jar.
Click the button below. It's a fixed amount of $1.00
 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

FT-450D Punch through the pileup v2

2 months ago I added the 5 band EQ from UR6QW. I knew the designer had a better model and eventually I wanted to upgrade. Both the 5 band and 8 band EQ allow you a tremendous amount of audio shaping control to your transmit signal. The compression alone will add's a lot of audio punch you just can't get from the 450D alone.



Before I purchased the 8 band EQ. I upgraded my stock MH-31 mic to the desktop MD-100 mic. Huge improvement from the stock 450D mic. One concern I had was that the MD-100 might be to much mic for the 8 band EQ. Not the case at all.






I have the MD-100 mic set to the following.
Thru is on/High Emphasis is on
/Low cut is set to 2

The 450D is set as the following.
Mic gain is normal/EQ is set to 0






When you chase DX and your only running 100w with conditions being a challenge every little bit helps. I'm very happy with 2nd version EQ upgrade.

The adjustable ranges are available +/- 6dB
80Hz 160Hz 250Hz 500Hz 900Hz 1500Hz 2500Hz 3200Hz

Here are the links for more information
UR6QW 5-band
UR6QW 8-band


What I personally like:
Solid all metal construction
Amazing support from the designer.
8 different frequency ranges of adjustment.
Independent mic input and output controls.
Simple setup & very easy to use
Very punchy range of adjustable compression.

What I don't like:
It's not cheap.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

SDRuno Controller.

It's been a while since I made any type of SDR controller. Actually it's been a while since I made anything Arduino's related. Since I stated the beta testing of SDRuno I wanted to make another controller. Below is what I have so far. This one has to be as small and simple as possible, I'm waiting on the mini OLED screens to come in and that will be the last part I need. Should be a fun little controller when it's done.


Testing the encoder

Testing the encoder and button board

Sunday, June 26, 2016

SDRuno Basics

It has been a busy couple of weeks. I added some quick videos on the basic features of the brand new SDRuno.

SDRuno is the front end app from SDRplay. The original was just recently acquired from Sandro the sole developer of Studio1. Myself and a few others are part of the beta test team.

Personally I love the program both original and the new SDRuno but for people that might be new to SDR'S this could be intimidated by all of it's high end features. SDRuno has progressed fast since it's initial release.

I will be adding more videos on YouTube covering almost all the features SDRuno.

Another project I'm working on (along with Paul J. NN4F) is the SDRuno "Cookbook" It covers most if not all of the features of SDRuno. It is a work in progress. The PDF is available now and will always be located at NN4F.COM







Field Day 2016 1D-NLI

Field Day 2016 is officially over. This was the first time I participated in such a epic ham event. I have listened many times over the years but was not licensed to join in.

 It was a lot of fun. So many stations on 20m & 40m. I picked up a few States I needed to help with my WAS (currently at 39) award I'm currently working on.

I did not make many contact's due to the bands not being in my favor but I had a ton of fun being a 1D from the house.

Since this was my first Field Day I can't wait to do it again next year and hopefully not from the house. Hopefully by this time next year I will have passed the Extra class.