Will the latest Windows update kill your HT programming cable?


The interwebs are abuzz with reports that the latest Windows update is killing counterfeit FTDI chips. Future Technology Devices International (FTDI) — according to Wikipedia — “develops, manufactures, and supports devices and their related software drivers for converting RS-232 or TTL serial transmissions to USB signals, in order to allow support for legacy devices with modern computers.”

The latest Windows update includes a new driver that is apparently “bricking” the knock-off FTDI FT232 chips by programming the USB PID to zero. This causes the device containing the chip to be inaccessible on any operating system.

What might you have around the shack that could contain a counterfeit FTDI chip? Well, lots of things including that cheap USB radio programming cable you picked up on eBay. It’s not yet clear whether the affected FTDI chips are in any widely distributed radio programming cables.

While many radio programming cables advertise that they contain genuine FTDI chips, a post earlier this year on Hackaday shows that it’s not always easy to tell a fake from the real thing. One difference, apparently, is that the markings are laser etched on the genuine chip are often just printed onto the fakes.

If you experience a “bricked” cable due to this update, please report your experience in the comments including any details about the cable you were using.

Matt, W1MST, is the editor of AmateurRadio.com.

160 meter fun

160 Meters

Well looks like it wont be long until the 160 meter contests start up. Both the ARRL and CQ 160 meter contests are really just around the corner. ARRL contest first week of December and then January is the CQWW 160 meter contest.
I have loads of fun in both the 160 tests and usually do quite well running 5 watts QRP. Each year I have done the tests I usually end up with a Certificate, but heck, if no one else enters and sends in their scores I guess that makes it easy to place huh?????I run a sideways “L” antenna , not the typical inverted “L”.
I run out about 125′ to a pole in the backyard, then take the other 60′ and run it to a right angle and down to about 5′ from the ground, the end at the house is on a 15’pole that is grounded, I use a balun at the feed and coil the coax as well into about 10 1′ turns. This antenna tunes very fast on 160 and its actual match at the shack is about 3:1 at the low end of the band. I have a 6′ ground rod at the base and no radials.

What I do find on 160 is that stations have no problem hearing me, however for me if I work the test both nights because of ground-wave propagation the stations I worked the night before are the same stations I hear the next night, my best chance to work stations out of my ground-wave is  usually at sunset and sunrise.

This year I will give the KX3 a workout at 5 watts in the test.


Fred Lesnick, VE3FAL, is a special contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Ontario, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Hunting For NDBs In CLE187

VR-266 Vancouver Int'l (50W) - heard as far east as NC
How time flies...once again it's time for the monthly Co-ordinted Listening Event (CLE) for NDB hunters....the 187th event. These always interesting and popular affairs take place over three nights, with this one starting on Friday, October 24th at local noon and running until Monday, October 27th, local noon.

These listening events serve several purposes. They:
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are actually in service and on-the-air so the online database can be kept up-to-date
  • determine, worldwide, which beacons are out-of-service or have gone silent since the last CLE covering this range
  • will indicate the state of propagation conditions at the various participant locations
  • will give you an indication of how well your LF/MF receiving system is working
  • give participants a fun yet challenging activity to keep their listening skills honed
This time, it's a two-part activity, should you decide to chase normal DX beacons as well as those from your own country or state/province. Here are the details. 

Days: Friday 24th October - Monday 27th October
Times: Midday on Friday to Midday on Monday, your LOCAL time
QRG: Normal LF/MF frequencies (190 - 1740 kHz)
NDBs: Normal DX and 'HOME' ones (not DGPS, Navtex or Amateur)

Please try to log NDBs that are over 2,000 km / 1,250 miles from you.
If you have a wall map in your shack, you could draw a circle on it.
It will be accurate if it is a great circle map centred on your location.
(There are other easy and very good ways to find which NDBs qualify
for you - I will describe them in the Final Details email)

Please also try to log NDBs in YOUR OWN radio country. For listeners
in AUS, CAN and USA, that means your State or Province.
It will be trivial for a few of us in tiny radio countries, very challenging
for a listener in, e.g., RUS (Eu). Most of us should have a fair list to
try for.
If we also mention any of our home regulars NOT heard, it will help
others to know about NDBs that are not currently active.

If you report on both parts, DX and HOME, I suggest you put them in
separate parts of your log. As usual, any UNIDs that you come across
will also be of interest - in a third part of your log.

Final details can be found at the NDB List website, and worldwide results, for every participant, will be posted here a few days after the event.

The very active Yahoo ndblist Group is a great place to learn more about the 'Art of NDB DXing' or to meet other listeners in your region. There is a lot of good information available there and new members are always very welcome.

If you are contemplating getting started on 630m, listening for NDBs  is an excellent way to test out your receive capabilities as there are several NDBs located near this part of the spectrum.

You need not be an ndblist member to participate in the CLEs and all reports, no matter how small, are of much value to the organizers. 

Reports may be sent to the ndblist or e-mailed to either myself or CLE co- ordinator, Brian Keyte (G3SIA). It was very exciting to see two new reporters to last month's event after reading about the CLE right here. Hopefully there will be more first-time reporters for upcoming CLE187.

Please...don't be shy and do give the CLE a try....then let us know what NDB's can be heard from your location! Your report can then be added to the worldwide database.

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

Genesis Q5 1W QRP kit from Australia

A trawl of the internet earlier found this kit, a 1W QRP transmitter for any band from 3.5MHz to 14MHz. It is available for S19.95 (US Dollars) + S9 (US Dollars) shipped anywhere worldwide. That seems pretty good value. Also on the website are SDR transceivers.

I last showed this particular kit on my blog 5 years ago.

See http://www.genesisradio.com.au/Q5/ for more details including how to order the various kits. Details on the page include parts lists, schematics and building details.

The are some pretty good SDR transceivers on this site.

Roger Lapthorn, G3XBM, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cambridge, England.

GB2FFC – JOTA 2014

Last weekend South Kesteven Amateur Radio Society (SKARS) operated the GB2FFC special event station at the First Foston Scout Group for the 2014 Jamboree on the Air (JOTA) weekend.

JOTA is an annual event in which Scouts and Guides all over the world make contact with each other by means of amateur radio, giving them an opportunity to experience wireless communication and electronics.

This was a first for both SKARS and the Scout group and we set up a SSB voice station and a data mode station primarily running PSK. The QTH was the Scout hut in the village of Foston, between Newark-on-Trent and Grantham (IO92PX)

Nigel (M0CVO) and Sean (M6ENN) ran the SSB voice station as well as supervising the popular Morse key trainer. This allowed the children to tap out their names using a crib sheet and gave them a certificate to acknowledge their achievement. Working voice proved challenging due to the high noise level in the hut due to the other scout activities. Despite this they still managed to work stations mainly on 20 and 40m. Nigel ran a Kenwood TS-480SAT into one of his own M0CVO DBD-2040 loaded dipoles at approximately 100W

I operated the data station consisting of my FT-857D and interfaces connected to a laptop running PZTLog feeding a M0CVO Magitenna at 30W. I also had my Czech morse key connected to the TR9500 acting as a sounder and they really like the military style key.

Explaining the PSK datamode and what the program was doing to young children was quite challenging. The Scout group were also running JOTI (Jamboree on the Internet) which consisted of laptops running an IRC chat application allowing world wide groups to talk to each other so the distinction between that and the slower PSK station was a bit difficult for some of them to grasp. Thankfully there were two very intelligent and enthusiastic Scouts who got the idea and understood the QSO process and were soon explaining it to the other Scouts leaving me free to type and push the macro buttons. One of them described it as 'awesome!'

GB2FFC ran from 09:00-15:00 UTC on the Saturday and 12:00-15:00 UTC on the Sunday and made 88 QSOs in total, mostly other amateurs but we did manage a number of other JOTA stations in both modes. The whole event was great fun and we were made very welcome by the Scout group. The enthusiasm was infectious so hopefully it will be the start of a regular annual club event helping out the Scouts for JOTA - plans were already being sketched out for next year, maybe involving camping!

Here are the PSK QSO maps for the weekend. Saturday was on 20m and 15m and were just European, Sunday I was operating mostly on 10m hoping for some transatlantic contacts, and did make a couple in the short time we had - didn't quite manage to connect with some South American and Asian stations but they could be seen and decoded to the delight of the children.


Andrew Garratt, MØNRD, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from East Midlands, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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