Posts Tagged ‘RadCom’

RadCom and the IC7300

My RadCom arrived by post today. Unlike in the recent edition of PW, the advertisers were publishing details of the new ICOM radio and were keen to take deposits. Perhaps they have got later data? I quite like the look of the new IC7300 radio, but feel the price will soon fall to £799 or less. I can wait. I may wait to see what the FT817 replacement looks like. A 5W (or maybe 10W) radio would suit my needs better.

The latest RadCom has a review of ICOMs latest flagship radio, the IC7851, selling for around £9000. Does anyone really spend this sort of money on amateur radio gear?  With PSU, tower, big beam and big rotator this implies over £10000 on amateur gear. I suppose some people must spend this sort of money. My FT817 has served me for over 14 years now. To me, this was an investment and I had to give it careful thought.  I wonder how many XYLs are happy for their husbands to spend over £10000 on a hobby?

Each to their own. If you really have that kind of disposable income how you spend it is your decision.

AM and UK Band Plans

Because of my poor voice (as a result of my cerebellum brain bleed) I tend to use digital techniques, like WSPR and JT65, but I still enjoy AM.  Like many, I’ve worked transatlantic AMers on 29-29.1MHz with real QRP and simple antennas using AM. It makes a great change from SSB.

One could be forgiven for thinking AM is a dirty word at the RSGB.  In UK Band Plans published in the February 2015 edition of RadCom, AM gets no mention on 28MHz and 50MHz and gets a (begrudging) comment as a footnote only in the 144MHz Band Plan when other modes get “centres of activity” mentions. AM is alive and well in the 29-29.1MHz sub-band. AM on the 144MHz (2m) band here in the UK can be found on and around 144.550MHz. There has been AM on 29-29.1MHz for years and years and years – in fact almost as long as I’ve been active on the air. Yes, this is in the all-mode section, but why not say this is the 28MHz (10m) AM sub-band? Also, why are 144MHz AM users asked to “consider adjacent channel activity”? AM should easily fit in 6kHz!!

Yet again, AM is being treated as a dirty and outdated mode. Here in the UK, ex-PMR AM rigs ripe for use on VHF can be picked up for virtually nothing and there is certainly room for AM on all bands from 28MHz upwards. AM has its enthusiasts on other bands too, but yet again the RSGB seems keen to kill off this mode. Why I wonder?

Allegedly, a RadCom article on digital TV in the 146-147MHz band was pulled last month at the last minute because “someone at the RSGB” thought it would not fit in the new band! Sometimes one wonders. Maybe the day when I only get SPRAT is closer than I thought? Thankfully, there are many good articles in RadCom.

FUNCube Decode Issues

I had a pleasant surprise last week at the AGM/Prize giving evening of the South Kestevan Amateur Radio Society (SKARS) being awarded the Most Promising Newcomer!

I also had a small write up in Tim Kirby's (G4VXE) VHF/UHF section of the February issue of Practical Wireless about my I-Cube1 reception which I have mentioned on here before.

I haven't progressed very far with my Arduino projects. There has been a set back in the plans to build and use an Ultimate3 QRSS kit. I had incorrectly assumed as it was a kit being sold commercially that it would satisfy my foundation conditions. However I have been advised that Foundation license holders may use radio equipment constructed using commercially available kits which satisfy IR 2028 which is all a bit vague and woolly, but I don't believe this particular kit does.

There is a simple solution, I will just have to take my intermediate assessment and exam at the first opportunity!

I have been doing a little WSPR spotting, getting some nice spots.

Over the Christmas/New Year period I have neglected the FUNCube-1(A073) satellite and was slipping down the telemetry upload rankings, sad I know!

Now I have got back the upstairs 'shack' I set up my original FUNCube Dongle on the laptop running the dashboard application continually to capture/decode the telemetry using the loft mounted discone. I took the opportunity to upgrade to the latest version 8.14 of the dashboard software, however something was amiss when checking the statistics I was only adding the odd frame here and there, sometimes not making a single decode during the high power daylight passes.

I switched back over to the newer FUNCube Dongle PRO+ running my main PC, which I had also updated to the version 8.14 dashboard and saw the same behaviour, rather than getting daylight decodes of 30+ frames I was just getting the odd 1 or 2.

My first thought it was an antenna or interference issue, but checking the SDR waterfall the signal is still very strong with little QRM. Suspecting a software issue introduced by the update I checked the FUNCube forum and found a thread which appeared to confirm my suspicions.

I have a number of discussions on twitter with various people including David Johnson (G4DPZ)  an AMSAT-UK Committee Member and one of the developers of the FUNcube ground segment. David kindly performed an analysis of one of the passes yesterday where I managed just 2 frames, and from the results it does appear to be an issue at this end, rather than issue with the spacecraft.

I have uninstalled v8.14 and put back on an earlier version of the dashboard (v8.09) and thanks to a windows update last night have also performed a full reboot!

There was a good pass this morning at 62 degrees maximum elevation (to the east), followed by a lower pass at 22 degrees elevation (to the west so not so good) and it seems things have improved managing 68 and 17 frames respectively. So could this be an issue with the latest dashboard?

If anyone has suffered similar performance fall-off, or indeed not suffered any issues then please add some feedback to the FUNCube forum.

My copy of Radcom arrived but didn't have much time to read it..

The culprit! ;-)

QST Going Digital

You’ve probably heard the news by now.  Last week the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) announced what many of us hoped would eventually happen.  In June 2012, QST will be available in an on-line, digital edition version.  Now before anyone panics, QST will still be available in the same print version we all know and love.   So in addition to receiving the print version, ARRL members will also have access to the digital version at no additional cost. 

This news truly excites me.  There are a few monthly publications which I subscribe to in digital only format.  Some of these publications are only available this way.  However, many other magazines (and some supporting our very own hobby) have recently introduced digital content.  CQ Magazine is an example of this.  However, even if you subscribe to the paper version you must still pay extra for the digital version. 

Our hobby is unique (so are those individuals who participate in it) and as I stated, while some of the monthly publications I subscribe to are just fine in digital only versions, I must admit that for now I still want QST, CQ, RadCom and Practical Wireless delivered to my mailbox in paper form.   However, if you think I won’t use the new QST digital version, you would be wrong. 

The ARRL is going to do more with the digital version of QST than simply scan the magazine in and create a .PDF.  There will be content available via the digital version (and methods of delivering that content) which won’t be available in the paper version of QST.  Want a magazine article to jump out at you?  With the additional features available in digital content delivery, readers will have access to click links from articles, watch video,  listen to audio, print, share and search across the entire edition.  All of this included in the regular cost of membership.

Again, while other magazine publishers charge (and charge full price as well) for both a print and digital version.  I proudly take my hat off to the ARRL for doing this the right way and making both editions available.  This is another example of why I’m proud to not only be an ARRL Member, but a Life Member.

Until next time…

73 de KDØBIK

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