Posts Tagged ‘Uncategorized’

MFJ JOINS CORPORATE PRIZE DONOR LIST

RIDGELAND, MS – August 23, 2019 – The list of corporate prize donors is growing for the Homebrew Heroes Awards program. MFJ Enterprises of Starkville MS has agreed to donate a key prize for the workbench of the Hero in 2019. “We owe our corporate success to the practice of homebrew electronics in amateur radio,” said MFJ Founder and President Martin F. Jue. “MFJ is delighted to support this annual award. We sell a high volume of parts to the homebrew and maker community. It’s in our business interests to encourage and support hams and other enthusiasts to design and build things that contribute to this space in the hobby. And, it’s just good business to encourage it, too!” Martin added.

MFJ has identified the popular HF/VHF Two-Port Graphic Antenna Analyzer sold as product number MFJ-225. The 225 uses free downloadable software to access the vector analyzer through a PC. Richard Stubbs, Customer Services Manager at MFJ says that “It has all the basic analyzer functions plus a host of advanced features like a built-in LCD graphics screen, two-port VNA measurement, PC-Interface using IG-miniVNA freeware, precise DDS frequency control, and is self-calibrating.” Mike Enis, Manager at MFJ, says that the MFJ-225 should enhance most every workbench that uses RF circuits, especially through the S-parameters that the device measures, all without a lot of computations required without a two-port vector device.

We owe our corporate success to the practice of homebrew electronics in amateur radio.

MFJ Founder and President Martin F. Jue
MFJ 225 Dual-Port Analyzer
George W5JDX on the MFJ-225 Dual-Port Analyzer

Homebrew Heroes Award Steering Committee member, Frank Howell K4FMH said that “MFJ’s joining our corporate donor list with this test gear shows leadership in the amateur radio maker space. We are delighted that this corporate list is growing in support of our annual award winner.” Details on the new awards program can be found at its website.

MFJ Enterprises, Inc., was founded in 1972 by Martin F. Jue. The company began operations in a small rented hotel room in the old Stark Hotel in downtown Starkville, Mississippi. The company began marketing its products in October of 1972. The first product was a high selectivity filter that would enable a receiver to separate one Morse code signal from scores of other signals that were being transmitted over the radio airwaves and was offered as a kit to homebrew builders in amateur radio.

New Homebrew Heroes Award…

Ridgeland, Mississippi— July 8, 2019— Today, the ICQ Podcast (icqpodcast.com) announced a partnership in the founding of the Homebrew Heroes Award by three members of the podcast. This annual award is to recognize persons, groups or organizations who help define the frontiers in amateur radio technology through the long-standing tradition of “home brew” construction. It is housed at the separate website, homebrewheroes.org.

“We felt that with all of the technical homebrew activity in amateur radio today that there should be a means by which to identify and highlight those whose technical creativity has made a clear impact on the hobby,” said Frank Howell, K4FMH at ICQ Podcast (icqpodcast.com). “Our recent visit to the Hamvention conference in Xenia, OH convinced us that the traditional homebrew craft and science is alive and well,” said Martin Butler, M1MRB from London. “But there was no clear means to bring additional and independent attention to the fruits of their labor,” added Colin Butler M6BOY, of County Kilkenny, Ireland. “My background in strategic marketing and information technology led me to believe that the time was right for such an award,” he added. Howell stated, “If you look at some of the workbenches for many successful homebrew entrepreneurs, their equipment is vintage, to say the least, so our awards program may assist them in getting corporate support through donated products to enhance their future ability in this maker-space.”

The new awards program is independent of the ICQ Podcast but these three podcast members comprise the Steering Committee for the annual award. These include Martin Butler M1MRB, Colin Butler M6BOY, and Frank Howell K4FMH. The ICQ Podcast is a promotional partner in this endeavor while the Homebrew Heroes website is maintained by Howell. “The idea for this awards program originated while we attended, for the first time, the Hamvention in Xenia, OH. It struck the three of us that this was another way to give back to the hobby,” said Martin Butler.

Other podcasters in the homebrew electronics maker space have applauded this new program. Jeremy Kolonay KJ7IJZ, co-host of the wildly popular Ham Radio Workbench (hamradioworkbench.com) said, “When I heard about this new award program, I was very excited. The homebrew electronics community in amateur radio has grown tremendously as our biweekly podcast has attempted to track and encourage. It’s really important to have a way to recognize and promote excellence achieved by the most successful participants.”

“Commercial companies have begun signing on to donate prizes to the future recipient,” said Howell. “Digilent Inc., a National Instruments Company, immediately told us that they would contribute their highly successful Analog Discovery 2 test device. Kaitlyn Franze, Software and Hardware Product Manager with Digilent, said, “When I learned that this was being planned, I immediately said that Digilent would like to be a corporate prize sponsor. Our market base has been significantly impacted by amateur radio operators who design and build equipment in this maker space. Digilent is proud to be on board with the Homebrew Heroes Award Program.” Other companies have expressed positive interest and are evaluating the right product to donate. Howell added, “We anticipate that this donor list will grow with the awareness of the awards program.”

Founded in 2008, ICQ Podcast (icqpodcast.com) is one of the more successful amateur radio podcasts in the world. It is published every two weeks and has a team of a dozen international presenters on the podcast, based in the United Kingdom.

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For more information on the Hombrew Heroes Award:

https://homebrewheroes.org

Graphic Logo: https://homebrewheroes.org/index.php/about/

CW Part 2

In 2016, I posted that I was learning CW by taking the CW Ops level 1 course. I did complete the class, made two on air QSO’s then life got in the way of the ham radio hobby and until recently, I left CW alone. In January this year, I decided to get started again and set a goal to make 100 CW QSO’s by the end of the year.

I started reviewing the CW Ops materials I had from 2016. I also copied the all the K7QO code course mp3 files to my phone so I could listen to that while in the car. In addition to those two things, I am also trying to listen to live QSO’s on the radio. Most of them go too fast for me to not miss a bunch of characters. Some QSO’s are difficult due to timing or no spacing. I heard a CQ call that sounded like “CQCQdeCallSignk”. There were no spaces in between the characters or words. One long string of dits and dahs.

So far, I am making progress. I relearned the alphabet, numbers and a few punctuation marks, and am trying to gain faster recognition so I can understand more.

I did make my first CW QSO of the year last week. It was a bit of a mess but we managed to actually exchange enough info to make an official QSO! That lead to an exchange of emails and this fellow ham and I made another scheduled QSO and he’s going to help me make more so I can practice CW! Gotta love the ham radio community!

If anyone is thinking of trying to learn CW, do it! If I can do it, then I think most people could do it as well. It’s going to take some effort and time but what doesn’t? 73.

My Last Post Ever Regarding ARRL?

In the past I’ve been a strong proponent of ARRL.  I often mentally tied the past and future success or failure of amateur radio to the organization.  I’ve come to the conclusion that this just isn’t the case, and in my evolving opinion the organization is becoming less relevant as time goes on.  The elected leadership hierarchy to me seems archaic.  I tend to doubt the slate of new blood “change” candidates which got elected will change much, as long as the majority of ARRL leadership, and to some extent the general population of amateurs in the US, continues to have the demographic makeup that it does.  My life membership has essentially become a good deal on a perpetual magazine subscription, assuming that I don’t get hit by a bus anytime soon.  I’m convinced it’s non-centralized grass roots efforts from individuals that are going to make or break amateur radio in the coming decades.

So, one of my 2019 “amateur radio resolutions” is to stop worrying and pontificating about ARRL, and be that individual that leads my own grass root effort.

K5A Special Event Station

Screenshot from 2018-08-10 08-40-25

On Saturday, August 11, 2018, the Bella Vista Radio Club will be operating a special event station at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale Arkansas. This is to celebrate the 50th year anniversary of the museum. We will be operating on the museum grounds from the General Store. Listen for us on the air starting Aug 11, at 1300Z. Operations will conclude at 2300Z.  Two stations, one SSB and the other CW, will be operating on or near 14.250, 14.035, 7.250 and 7.035.

I will be participating part of the day, likely on the SSB station. I may spend some time trying to listen to CW to see if I can decode it yet! Gotta work on that!

For more information see the following links:
ARRL Link
Bella Vista Radio Club Link

Looking forward to having a QSO with you on Saturday!

 

 

FT8

It’s like slot machines for amateur radio.

 

DMR Hotspot

There is a lot of blogs, forums and place to get information about various aspects of our hobby. Ham Radio, as you all know, is a diverse hobby with a lot of different ways to  enjoy it. This post is going to be about my learning and stepping in DMR. As with most of my posts, this is aimed at someone just looking at and thinking about diving into DMR. If you are a seasoned DMR operator, then you likely know all this already.

A friend of mine brought an inexpensive TYT MD-380 DMR radio to a club meeting and told us about DMR. He uses it a lot when he travels around a two state are for his job and loves it. After that, I decided to order the same radio and see what DMR was all about.  This friend sent me his code plug and when I looked at it I was lost. He had all the repeaters for two states, lots of talk groups and lots of operator call signs. It was a lot to digest for someone who didn’t know how to program a DMR radio.

I decided to take a step back and learn some more about how DMR works and how to do the programming. I wanted to start simple and begin my code plug from scratch. The closest DMR repeater to my house is about 20 miles away and with all the hills around Arkansas, I cannot hear it with the HT antenna. I figured putting together my own hotspot would be the ticket as I have three Raspberry Pi’s sitting around doing nothing but collecting dust, so acting on some advice from more experienced hams, I ordered a DVMega board to go with one of the Pi’s.

I asked a friend with a 3D printer to print this case for the Pi and DVMega from Thingiverse.

IMG_0246

The completed Pi, DVMega combination put together and ready to go. Yes there are two screws missing. I don’t know that I need them so I left them out.

For storage for the Pi, I used a Sandisk class 10 32GB micro SD card that I already had. It is important to use a decent storage card so the performance isn’t worse than it needs to be. One of these cards is less than $15, so it is not very expensive compared to the cost of the entire hotspot project.

One could download Raspian and install all the software separately but there is an image already created that is very popular called Pi-Star. It is essentially Raspian with MMDVMHost, DStarRepeater and other software included. It is an easy way to get everything you need for DMR, DStar, P25 and more digital voice modes.

Pi-Star can be downloaded from here. Once the image was downloaded, I used the Linux dd command to write the image to the card.

After inserting the card into the Pi and booting it up, there are two very important steps. The first is to expand the image to use the entire card. When first written, a small portion of the space is used and a command needs to be run to expand the file system to use the rest of the space. That command is pistar-expand. The second important thing to do is to make sure the image is updated. The Pi-Star creators provide two commands for doing that. pistar-update / pistar-upgrade which are similar to the Raspian apt-get-update and apt-get upgrade commands but do so for the operating system and the software included in pi-star.

To setup the Pi-Star software, I followed along with this page:

https://www.toshen.com/ke0fhs/pi-star.htm

There is a lot of information on this site in addition to this page related to DMR. It was worth browsing around and finding information that I didn’t know.

After configuring the hotspot, I was able to verify that it connected to the BrandMeister Network.

The next step was to program the TYT MD-380. I had to choose a simplex 70cm frequency. After consulting the band plans and looking at the Arkansas repeater council page, I was able to choose one to use.

I won’t go into a lot of detail on programming the radio as there are a lot of YouTube videos and web pages describing that process.

I listen to the Hamradio 360 Workbench podcast and they use a talk group that I programmed into a channel and was able to hear some of that traffic. I also made a call and confirmed that I was able to transmit on the talk group as well as receive.

My next step is to find other talk groups that I might want to listen to, and determine how I will use DMR going forward. I am planning on taking the hotspot on business trips and possibly use it in the car for DMR mobile. I’ll figure that out as I go along.

Overall the process was not difficult, but took some time researching how DMR worked so I could understand the programming better. I used many web resources along with several YouTube videos. I still have a few more bookmarked to watch but I am getting a handle on it.

Comments and questions are welcome.


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