Posts Tagged ‘TH-D72’

Derventio

I have been itching to try venturing further afield and thought we might go down to the river Derwent at Papcastle. I carried the Kenwood TH-D72 on my belt to track the walk using APRS and see how far we got. When we reached the path down to the river we saw a paper sign saying “Derventio.” Olga thought – wisely with hindsight – that it would not be a good idea to walk down to the river as we would then have to climb back up again. We walked a bit further along the road and looked down towards the river where we could see substantial excavations were taking place. This looks like being a major archeological site. One day when I’m just a bit fitter we will go down and take a closer look.

We continued our walk with a loop through the village of Papcastle, then returned home the way we had come. On the way I heard and worked Richard G1JTD portable on the summit of Great Calva, and Liz M6EPW on my local SOTA summit of Watch Hill. That will undoubtedly be the first summit I will attempt but at the moment it is still too far – about 3 miles from our front door.

I was pretty tired and very sweaty by the time we got back to Cockermouth but I resisted Olga’s suggestion that we finish the excursion by taxi. Although what we had done was an easy walk by normal standards this was my most ambitious outing since finishing my treatment.

When we got home I could see that our track had been perfectly recorded by APRS. I was happy with that – and with the two contacts I made. I had only been using one of those stubby antennas about 5 cm long which are a couple of dB down on a rubber duck.

I saved the track as a GPX file and then produced a report using one of the online GPX report generators. According to the report we had walked exactly 4 kilometres. 1.5km of this had been climbing for a total ascent of 87m. To me it felt as if I had just climbed Scafell Pike!

Third-party Kenwood accessories

Ebay is a good place to buy accessories like speaker/mics and headsets for your radios. A few years ago I used it to buy a speaker/mic for my Kenwood TH-F7E. After I sold that radio I used the speaker/mic with my TH-D72. When I tried it with my old TH-205E however I found that PTT didn’t work. I soon established that the reason was the genuine Kenwood accessories used a monophonic 2.5mm plug with only two contacts, tip and sleeve, for mic audio and PTT. The third-party accessories from eBay used a stereo 2.5mm plug with tip, ring and sleeve, but there was no connection to the ring. It looked as if the plug in the radio was trying to make contact in the area of the ring. This obviously was OK for newer Kenwood radios but with the 205E there was no ground connection for the PTT.

Ring and sleeve of the 2.5mm plug should be connected

My first thought was to open up the speaker mic, find the wire connected to the ring and connect it to ground. However I soon found that the cable of my speaker/mic had no wire connected to the ring at all. My only option was to try to bridge the two contacts together using solder. This I did, and the speaker/mic then worked with the TH-205E.

The Wouxun KG-699E and the Baofeng UV-3R+ also claim to use accessories with a Kenwood-compatible plug but just like the 205E I found that PTT did not work. I have just performed the same modification to the plugs on a “Kenwood-compatible” headset/boom mic and also one of the earpiece/mics that came with the Baofeng and Wouxun so that they would all work with all four radios. It is easy to do, but you need to take care as it’s easy to melt the plastic parts of the plug and you could easily ruin it if too much heat is used.

Using a sharp craft knife cut away a small section of the black plastic insulation between the ring and the sleeve of the 2.5mm plug to reveal an inner metal sleeve. Open this up a bit more using the edge of a jeweller’s file. Then make a solder bridge between the ring and sleeve. You need to apply heat using the edge of the soldering iron bit to the inner sleeve in order that the solder will bridge the gap. Apply the soldering iron for as short a time as possible to avoid melting the plastic insulation and destroying the plug. I used Blu-Tac to hold the plug in a steady position whilst soldering.

After you have bridged the contacts use a jeweller’s file to remove any excess solder from the plug. You should also smooth the plastic insulation between the plug contacts which may have melted and bulged a bit. The plug should be completely smooth between the contacts, the solder bridge and the insulation. It should plug easily into the socket on the radio. If it needs a firm push then try a bit more filing until it goes in easily. You don’t want the plug to get stuck in the radio nor for it to damage the socket contacts if force is needed to insert or remove it.

I accept no responsibility for damaged plugs or radios as a result of trying this modification. However I have done three of them now with success each time so it is possible with care. Now my “Kenwood-compatible” accessories will work with old and new Kenwoods as well as the Baofeng and the Wouxun.

The meaning of >F

I have been playing with using the Kenwood TH-D72 as a standalone digipeater and fired up the FoxTrak APRS tracker I built last year. The FoxTrak is a TinyTrak clone using DK7IN firmware. I had not noticed a problem before when using a TNC connected to PC software, but now I found that the D72 will not display the FoxTrak’s packets. Instead, it interrupts the frequency display and puts >F G4ILO-12 on the first line of the display. The packets are digipeated but they don’t appear in the radio’s list of received stations.

I’m guessing that >F is some sort of error status but it is not listed on page APRS-3 of the user manual where the other status indicators are listed. Does anyone know what it means, or how to configure the FoxTrak so that the Kenwood will display the beacons?

Dodd [LDW-174] all to myself

The weather forecast suggests that the fine spell we have enjoyed for the last few days – which has caused the G4ILO shorts to be brought out of the wardrobe unusually early – is going to end soon. So I thought I would try an activation this morning of the small summit of Dodd, LDW-174 for Wainwrights On The Air. Being a tightwad, I didn’t want to pay the Forestry Commission’s exorbitant charges to park at the visitor centre so I parked off the road at a spot about a mile north of the official car park. I’ll happily walk an extra two miles to save £6.50!

I was afraid this well-known parking spot would be full but in fact there were only two other cars there, a silver Nissan and an old BMW that was very dusty and looked suspiciously as if it might have been there a while. I set off along the path and had hardly walked a few paces when I saw some car keys in the undergrowth beside the path. “I bet they are BMW keys” I thought to myself as I picked them up and sure enough they were.

Now I had a dilemma. Perhaps someone had dropped their keys and would be coming back to look for them, so I should leave them where they were. It was just a gut instinct that made me suspect the BMW had been stolen and some thief had left it in this quiet spot and thrown away the keys before switching to another car. If it wasn’t a stolen car, surely it soon would be if I left the keys so close to the vehicle itself. So I decided to walk to the visitor centre and hand the keys in, explain what had happened and suggest they called the police to investigate.

This I did, before beginning the ascent of Dodd up the forestry road. It is a rather dull plod until you reach the col between Dodd and the Ullock Pike ridge and the path curves round Dodd’s conical summit until this view over Derwentwater opens up. Then it is another short upward plod until you reach the summit (top picture.)

As I reached the higher altitudes it was clear that the stiff cold wind that has been a feature of the entire weekend and made conditions a lot less pleasant than the photos suggest was still with us. The WOTA Pole was still broken (and probably won’t be repaired) so in its place I was using my new rucksack mounted telescopic 5/8 vertical. This is the old telescopic 5/8 BNC antenna with a new more robust whip fitted to the spring/loading coil. Because the weight of the whip makes the spring bend over it is encased in a piece of plastic electrical conduit which is Araldited to the base of the telescopic whip. This fits into the base section of conduit using one of the famous fragile jointing pieces. A female BNC plugs into the BNC base of the antenna, with the coax and a 19in pigtail counterpoise. This gave a perfect 1:1 SWR at 145MHz when tested at home using my antenna analyzer. It fits nicely in the rucksack with the telescopic whip sticking up above my head, the ultimate fashion accessory for the keen WOTAphile.

The radio was the Kenwood TH-D72 stuck on my belt. The headset I first tried on Carrock Fell proved itself once again, both in helping me to hear the other stations in the howling gale and in keeping the wind noise out of my audio. Regular readers can probably detect a trend here. I think the Kenwood is finally coming into its own as my APRS radio of choice.

I called CQ WOTA a couple of times, with no replies! Was this going to be a failed activation? Eventually to my great relief Mark MM1MPB came back. He gave me only a 5 by 5, which I improved to a 5 by 9 by walking a short way to the other side of the summit. I was concerned that perhaps something was wrong with the antenna so I swapped to the Nagoya NA-701 short dual band flexy-whip and Mark gave me only 5 by 3 so the 5/8 seemed to be doing its stuff. Dodd is quite a hemmed-in summit and although I could see across the Solway to Scotland it’s possible that the path to Annan was blocked by the Ullock Pike ridge and the northern flanks of Skiddaw.

A few more calls and I was pleased to be answered by Colin G4UXH in Milnthorpe who had noticed the website spot placed by Mark, and then Steve M0IGG from Walney Island. Both stations were beyond the southern boundary of the Lake District and so at a fair distance. Clearly I was getting out, just not many people were listening. I also worked M6BDV/P on Little Mell Fell for a summit to summit contact, who confused me at first by using the call MW6… his home area being Wales. But that was it. None of the Workington mob or the Penrith crew. I guess everyone was WOTAed out after all the activations over the weekend.

I didn’t even see another person on the summit, which is quite unusual. Not that I minded that at all, in fact I always prefer to have a summit to myself than have hordes of people wondering what I am doing.

The views as always from Dodd on a clear day were stunning. But it was damn cold no thanks to that icy wind, so I was pleased to pack up and head back down to the car again. The BMW had gone by the time I returned. How it came to be there with its keys tossed in the undergrowth will probably forever remain a mystery.

Dodd [LDW-174] all to myself

The weather forecast suggests that the fine spell we have enjoyed for the last few days – which has caused the G4ILO shorts to be brought out of the wardrobe unusually early – is going to end soon. So I thought I would try an activation this morning of the small summit of Dodd, LDW-174 for Wainwrights On The Air. Being a tightwad, I didn’t want to pay the Forestry Commission’s exorbitant charges to park at the visitor centre so I parked off the road at a spot about a mile north of the official car park. I’ll happily walk an extra two miles to save £6.50!

I was afraid this well-known parking spot would be full but in fact there were only two other cars there, a silver Nissan and an old BMW that was very dusty and looked suspiciously as if it might have been there a while. I set off along the path and had hardly walked a few paces when I saw some car keys in the undergrowth beside the path. “I bet they are BMW keys” I thought to myself as I picked them up and sure enough they were.

Now I had a dilemma. Perhaps someone had dropped their keys and would be coming back to look for them, so I should leave them where they were. It was just a gut instinct that made me suspect the BMW had been stolen and some thief had left it in this quiet spot and thrown away the keys before switching to another car. If it wasn’t a stolen car, surely it soon would be if I left the keys so close to the vehicle itself. So I decided to walk to the visitor centre and hand the keys in, explain what had happened and suggest they called the police to investigate.

This I did, before beginning the ascent of Dodd up the forestry road. It is a rather dull plod until you reach the col between Dodd and the Ullock Pike ridge and the path curves round Dodd’s conical summit until this view over Derwentwater opens up. Then it is another short upward plod until you reach the summit (top picture.)

As I reached the higher altitudes it was clear that the stiff cold wind that has been a feature of the entire weekend and made conditions a lot less pleasant than the photos suggest was still with us. The WOTA Pole was still broken (and probably won’t be repaired) so in its place I was using my new rucksack mounted telescopic 5/8 vertical. This is the old telescopic 5/8 BNC antenna with a new more robust whip fitted to the spring/loading coil. Because the weight of the whip makes the spring bend over it is encased in a piece of plastic electrical conduit which is Araldited to the base of the telescopic whip. This fits into the base section of conduit using one of the famous fragile jointing pieces. A female BNC plugs into the BNC base of the antenna, with the coax and a 19in pigtail counterpoise. This gave a perfect 1:1 SWR at 145MHz when tested at home using my antenna analyzer. It fits nicely in the rucksack with the telescopic whip sticking up above my head, the ultimate fashion accessory for the keen WOTAphile.

The radio was the Kenwood TH-D72 stuck on my belt. The headset I first tried on Carrock Fell proved itself once again, both in helping me to hear the other stations in the howling gale and in keeping the wind noise out of my audio. Regular readers can probably detect a trend here. I think the Kenwood is finally coming into its own as my APRS radio of choice.

I called CQ WOTA a couple of times, with no replies! Was this going to be a failed activation? Eventually to my great relief Mark MM1MPB came back. He gave me only a 5 by 5, which I improved to a 5 by 9 by walking a short way to the other side of the summit. I was concerned that perhaps something was wrong with the antenna so I swapped to the Nagoya NA-701 short dual band flexy-whip and Mark gave me only 5 by 3 so the 5/8 seemed to be doing its stuff. Dodd is quite a hemmed-in summit and although I could see across the Solway to Scotland it’s possible that the path to Annan was blocked by the Ullock Pike ridge and the northern flanks of Skiddaw.

A few more calls and I was pleased to be answered by Colin G4UXH in Milnthorpe who had noticed the website spot placed by Mark, and then Steve M0IGG from Walney Island. Both stations were beyond the southern boundary of the Lake District and so at a fair distance. Clearly I was getting out, just not many people were listening. I also worked M6BDV/P on Little Mell Fell for a summit to summit contact, who confused me at first by using the call MW6… his home area being Wales. But that was it. None of the Workington mob or the Penrith crew. I guess everyone was WOTAed out after all the activations over the weekend.

I didn’t even see another person on the summit, which is quite unusual. Not that I minded that at all, in fact I always prefer to have a summit to myself than have hordes of people wondering what I am doing.

The views as always from Dodd on a clear day were stunning. But it was damn cold no thanks to that icy wind, so I was pleased to pack up and head back down to the car again. The BMW had gone by the time I returned. How it came to be there with its keys tossed in the undergrowth will probably forever remain a mystery.

High Pike [LDW-107] and Carrock Fell [LDW-105]

Sometimes conditions on the fell-tops are not what you expect when you leave home. Yesterday, having no desire to watch the big event in London, I decided to have a big event of my own, namely to activate two of the Northern Fells for Wainwrights On The Air (WOTA). Although the weather was a little hazy there had been several sunny days and I anticipated two leisurely activations lazing in the grass and basking in the sun beside my guyed WOTA Pole, perhaps even some DX due to atmospheric conditions. I did notice a chilly breeze as I went out to the car, so I went back and got an extra fleece. That turned out to be a good move.

It was about 45 minutes drive to the parking spot at Caldbeck Common. I set off on a circuitous but easy climb up to High Pike, the first summit, working Jimmy on Blencathra who was using a special Wedding call MR3EYP/P on the way. No getting away completely from thoughts of the big event in London.

Half way up I noticed the wind was getting stronger and chillier. The extra fleece was quickly donned, and I worked another activator with a Royal call, MR1EYO/P on Red Screes. By the time I reached the summit I felt conditions were such that I didn’t want to stay long up there. After a contact with Bill G4WSB/P on Grasmoor whose voice was at times unintelligible due to wind getting into the mic of his Quansheng, I walked down from the summit in search of a slightly less windy spot to eat my packed lunch.

Whilst eating my lunch I weakly heard Derek 2E0MIX/P on Maiden Moor but I didn’t dare nip up to the top to make a contact in case my rucksack and other things blew away. When I did return to the summit I found the wind was blowing icy rain into my face. I didn’t have any enthusiasm for putting the WOTA Pole up as I didn’t intend staying there long enough for the effort to be worthwhile. I also didn’t want to get the non-waterproof Kenwood TH-D72 – which I’d taken after realizing the limitations of the receiver of the VX-8R – wet. So I sat on the stone bench near the wind break on the summit and using the 8in. helical rubber duck rapidly worked 7 of the ‘usual suspects’, contest-style, then stuffed the Kenwood in the rucksack and set off on my way to the next summit.

Carrock Fell is is a rocky summit with a big cairn, overlooking a valley. By the time I got there the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped a bit and seemed less cold. There were numerous large rocks scattered about making inviting seats. I decided to put up the WOTA Pole. First, I had a fight untangling the guys, which had knotted themselves together. Then, while pulling up the antenna using the third guy, doing my trick of using my walking stick as a bottom section for extra height, there was a crack and the antenna fell back on the ground. The jointing piece between the lower two sections of plastic tube had cracked. Arrgh!

So I was forced once again to do the activation using the 8in. helical rubber duck. However one piece of equipment favourably surprised me. Well, two, really. I began to get used to the Kenwood TH-D72 and felt that perhaps it is a viable alternative to the VX-8GR to use on activations. I received several APRS messages while I was up in the hills and found it easy to read and reply to them. Before I set off I used ?APRSO to load APRS objects for the two summits into the radio which I used to help navigation and check proximity. Very useful, though having to page forward a couple of times is less convenient than the VX-8’s all in one view.

I’m still not convinced that the Kenwood’s snazzy metallic grey paint and plasticky casing isn’t going to start showing marks from the rough and tumble of use up in the mountains. And the radio does sometimes do things I don’t understand, like beep and do nothing when I press the PTT, or beep and mute the audio of the station I’m listening to until I press the PTT again. I think this may be something to do with the APRS functions but it confuses me. The battery endurance doesn’t seem to be as good as the Yaesu either. But I’m learning to love it.

This was also the first time I could try out a headset for the Kenwood that I’d bought for £3.99 on eBay. The price, which included shipping from Hong Kong, was so low I doubted that it could be any good. But it was also cheap enough to be worth a gamble. It turned out to be the ideal accessory for operating from windy hilltops. The microphone has a foam muffler and even with my head turned so that wind was blowing on to the mic stations reported that there was only very slight wind noise, not enough to interfere with copy. With my head turned away there was no wind noise at all. Experienced activators will know just how hard it is, when it is windy, to find a position that keeps the wind out of the mic on the front of the radio.

Despite the unexpectedly nasty weather I had a nice walk and two successful activations. I may have one last try with the WOTA Pole. I will superglue the cracked jointing piece and then try reinforcing them with nylon cable ties. If that doesn’t help then I must give up the idea or accept that it will only work with longer tubes and only one joining section.

High Pike [LDW-107] and Carrock Fell [LDW-105]

Sometimes conditions on the fell-tops are not what you expect when you leave home. Yesterday, having no desire to watch the big event in London, I decided to have a big event of my own, namely to activate two of the Northern Fells for Wainwrights On The Air (WOTA). Although the weather was a little hazy there had been several sunny days and I anticipated two leisurely activations lazing in the grass and basking in the sun beside my guyed WOTA Pole, perhaps even some DX due to atmospheric conditions. I did notice a chilly breeze as I went out to the car, so I went back and got an extra fleece. That turned out to be a good move.

It was about 45 minutes drive to the parking spot at Caldbeck Common. I set off on a circuitous but easy climb up to High Pike, the first summit, working Jimmy on Blencathra who was using a special Wedding call MR3EYP/P on the way. No getting away completely from thoughts of the big event in London.

Half way up I noticed the wind was getting stronger and chillier. The extra fleece was quickly donned, and I worked another activator with a Royal call, MR1EYO/P on Red Screes. By the time I reached the summit I felt conditions were such that I didn’t want to stay long up there. After a contact with Bill G4WSB/P on Grasmoor whose voice was at times unintelligible due to wind getting into the mic of his Quansheng, I walked down from the summit in search of a slightly less windy spot to eat my packed lunch.

Whilst eating my lunch I weakly heard Derek 2E0MIX/P on Maiden Moor but I didn’t dare nip up to the top to make a contact in case my rucksack and other things blew away. When I did return to the summit I found the wind was blowing icy rain into my face. I didn’t have any enthusiasm for putting the WOTA Pole up as I didn’t intend staying there long enough for the effort to be worthwhile. I also didn’t want to get the non-waterproof Kenwood TH-D72 – which I’d taken after realizing the limitations of the receiver of the VX-8R – wet. So I sat on the stone bench near the wind break on the summit and using the 8in. helical rubber duck rapidly worked 7 of the ‘usual suspects’, contest-style, then stuffed the Kenwood in the rucksack and set off on my way to the next summit.

Carrock Fell is is a rocky summit with a big cairn, overlooking a valley. By the time I got there the rain had stopped and the wind had dropped a bit and seemed less cold. There were numerous large rocks scattered about making inviting seats. I decided to put up the WOTA Pole. First, I had a fight untangling the guys, which had knotted themselves together. Then, while pulling up the antenna using the third guy, doing my trick of using my walking stick as a bottom section for extra height, there was a crack and the antenna fell back on the ground. The jointing piece between the lower two sections of plastic tube had cracked. Arrgh!

So I was forced once again to do the activation using the 8in. helical rubber duck. However one piece of equipment favourably surprised me. Well, two, really. I began to get used to the Kenwood TH-D72 and felt that perhaps it is a viable alternative to the VX-8GR to use on activations. I received several APRS messages while I was up in the hills and found it easy to read and reply to them. Before I set off I used ?APRSO to load APRS objects for the two summits into the radio which I used to help navigation and check proximity. Very useful, though having to page forward a couple of times is less convenient than the VX-8’s all in one view.

I’m still not convinced that the Kenwood’s snazzy metallic grey paint and plasticky casing isn’t going to start showing marks from the rough and tumble of use up in the mountains. And the radio does sometimes do things I don’t understand, like beep and do nothing when I press the PTT, or beep and mute the audio of the station I’m listening to until I press the PTT again. I think this may be something to do with the APRS functions but it confuses me. The battery endurance doesn’t seem to be as good as the Yaesu either. But I’m learning to love it.

This was also the first time I could try out a headset for the Kenwood that I’d bought for £3.99 on eBay. The price, which included shipping from Hong Kong, was so low I doubted that it could be any good. But it was also cheap enough to be worth a gamble. It turned out to be the ideal accessory for operating from windy hilltops. The microphone has a foam muffler and even with my head turned so that wind was blowing on to the mic stations reported that there was only very slight wind noise, not enough to interfere with copy. With my head turned away there was no wind noise at all. Experienced activators will know just how hard it is, when it is windy, to find a position that keeps the wind out of the mic on the front of the radio.

Despite the unexpectedly nasty weather I had a nice walk and two successful activations. I may have one last try with the WOTA Pole. I will superglue the cracked jointing piece and then try reinforcing them with nylon cable ties. If that doesn’t help then I must give up the idea or accept that it will only work with longer tubes and only one joining section.


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