The Spectrum Monitor — September, 2014

September TSM Cover

Here are the featured stories from our September, 2014 issue:

An Inexpensive VHF/UHF Spectrum Analyzer Dongle
By Mario Filippi, N2HUN

Commercial spectrum analyzers can run upwards of several thousand dollars in price, but for those on a limited budget, who don’t require the sophisticated features of high-end analyzers, the RF spectrum analyzer by Nuts About Nets fits the hobbyist’s bill nicely. It has opened up a new world of interest in the types of signals that inhabit the VHF/UHF bands, what they look like and where they appear. Regular contributor to TSM, Mario Filippi N2HUN, takes this spectrum analyzer dongle to the VHF and UHF bands, looking for signals. He notes, “Unquestionably, this is one of the most useful pieces of radio gear I have encountered as a hobbyist in many years!”

The Slow and Unsteady Course of HD Radio
By Ken Reitz KS4ZR

In the days before Wi-Fi radio, Pandora™, and the many ways people digitally stream audio to their mobile devices, HD Radio was created to combat the first digital threat to over-the-air radio: XM and Sirius Satellite Radio. Six years ago the market was awash in tabletop HD Radio sets ranging in price from $100-600. Now, there’s only one such set: a $52 FM-only radio from Insignia. In the 13 years since its inception, iBiquity, the broadcast consortium behind the HD Radio brand, has seen its product go from “The Next Great Idea” to the question: “Whatever happened to HD Radio?”

Going Mobile Digitally; Connect Systems CS700 Review, and Nifty! Mini-Manuals
By Cory GB Sickles WA3UVV

In this month’s look at digital amateur radio operating, Cory Sickles WA3UVV, reviews Connect Systems’ CS700 portable UHF digital amateur radio transceiver that boasts 4 watts output, a keypad and more, for a direct retail price of $180. That price is what created the initial buzz, as even a basic Digital Mobile Radio, without any display or keypad, can cost $360 or more. Factor in that the CS700 is supplied with a drop-in charger and free, downloadable, programming software, and you’ll discover why this radio has been such a game changer. We all know that price alone, however, does not guarantee a winner. But Cory found that, with the CS700, the quality and attention to detail was evident from the moment he opened the box and placed the radio in his hand.

TSM Review:

Hardrock 50 Amplifier Kit: Giving QRP a Boost
By Mark Haverstock K8MSH

QRP rigs are simple to build and fun to operate. But, as band conditions deteriorate over the next few years, you may find some need for a boost of power to get those contacts, especially if you’re chasing DX. The Hardrock 50 amp is an economical way to satisfy your urge to build, along with your need for a few dB of added signal strength on all the popular HF bands plus 6 meters. Regular TSM contributor, Mark Haverstock K8MSH, details his experience as he tackled the job of building this amp and putting it to the test on his Elecraft KX-3, a popular all-band, all-mode, low-power transceiver.

The Spectrum Monitor is available in PDF format which can be read on any desktop, laptop, iPad®, Kindle® Fire, or other device capable of opening a PDF file.  Annual subscription (12 issues, beginning with the January 2014 issue) is $24. Individual monthly issues are available for $3 each.

Ken Reitz, KS4ZR, is publisher and managing editor of The Spectrum Monitor. Contact him at [email protected].

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