Traveling and HotSpots

Spending time at my office in Boston for the next 11 days, so I decided to bring my PiStar ZUMSpot hot spot with me. AG7SM, David, thought it would be cool to chat with each other that way. Booted the HotSpot, and let it default to AP mode, hooked it into the Hotel WiFi, and off it went. For two nights, AG7SM and myself had a couple of brief QSOs. While I know some people think using the internet as a back bone is NOT Amateur Radio, and quite easily, we could have done FaceTime or something, I still think it is a fun thing to do. I look forward to the day when I can remote my HF rig, while I am traveling, and use an auxiliary front panel to have QSOs.

All in all, this hobby still excites me, after 45 odd years.

New Knob

I procured a tuning knob for my uBitX from the Elecraft KX3 but buying the knob and rubber band from them. I have put it on the uBitx, and the tuning in fantastic. Really a good tuning knob.

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Moved the uBITX into a new case.

This weekend, I decided to move my uBitX to a new case, and incorporate a Nextion Screen and use KD8CEC’s updated FW for the radio. While here at the QTH, I do not have the proper tools, it did come out ok. Here is a photo of the minimal front. Tuning, Volume, and Display. On the back, There is Power, Power Switch , IF tap for SDR hookup (pan adapter), mic, key, and speaker/headphone hook up, Raduino USB extension, (bulkhead mounted). And the RF out. The only thing left is to get a new tuning knob (accomplished, will incorporate later this week!). (Also, pardon for the messy work bench.)

 

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SDRs and Tuning knobs

I am going to get an Elad Tmate-2 tuning accessory for my SDRPlay RSP2Pro. This device is a bit pricy, but it will make using the RSP2Pro much easier. Couple that with a good desktop running SDRUno, and I thing I will have a great receiver, when coupled to the mag loop set up I am designing (Mounted high, with a rotor for nulling and remote control).

 

When I get it, I will let everyone know how it works out.

 

73 de KD1IT

The QCX-30 Case

I ordered the recently announced QCX case for my QCX-30 rig by QRP-Labs. It is a very nice, simple, but well engineered case. Putting it together was a snap.

Here are some photos of it.

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ZUMSpot

Yesterday, I received a ZUMSPot modem that plugs into a RaspberryPI. I opened to have it in a Raspberry PI3 B+, with integrated WiFi. After setting up PIStar on the unit, I started having conversations with people in England, Canada and the East coast of the United States. Basically, the ZUMSpot is a hotspot for Data/DMR/etc digital voice modes. It can connect to reflectors to allow you to see other people listed and make a call to them. Very cool. I am trying to get a friend in NH to get one, and get on it, so we can chat while the solar flux is at its lowest. HF hasn’t been too good lately.

 

Will say m

More on the ZUMSpot and MMVDM as I get more and more used to using it.

 

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Got myself a new HT

The last time I bought a new HT, was in 1997. I bought an Icom T7H, back then.

 

I wanted to get a new HT that did DSTAR and APRS, etc. Well, that HT turned out to be the Kenwood TH D-74.

What a wonderful device. After getting used to the UX, it has been a joy to use. The fact that it covers 144/220/440 is a sweet aspect. It handles DSTAR, APRS and has a built in GPS. I got a good smoking deal on it from my local HRO in PDX. So far, I am overcome with joy. DSTAR is something to get used to, but once I got the hang of it, made a pretty quick QSO.

The only thing I want to do, to augment the radio, is to get a MMDVM access point to allow me to connect over the internet to a friends DSTAR repeater in NH. Then I can stay in touch.

I highly recommend this radio.

 

 

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uBITx Audio Amp woes

So, I got a new power supply at the Seaside Hamfest on the first week of June. I plugged my uBitX into it and a pop happened. Seems the audio amp chip popped its top. After asking a question on the uBitX FB group, Daniel King recommended a NJM2073D to replace it. Ordered about 5 of them, because you never know. Replaced it, this afternoon, and audio is back and they handle the 14 VDC the power supply was putting out. Apparently, there is a know issue with some of the stock audio amps in the uBITX and they seem to pop with more that 13 volts.

uBITX finished

Last night I finished putting the uBITX together and testing it out. I did a 30 Meter CW contact (straight key) and listened up and down the bands. Nice little radio.

Here it is in completed form. The case was printed by Dave Schmidt, who has done these case for a number of BIT40X and uBITX folk.

 

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Now, what to do with the uBITX?

The uBITX comes with a 2 line display and an Arduino CPU. (not shown). I am designing a 5″ display, Cortex-A8 (minimum) CPU with the Si5351A Synthesizer chip, and will be writing the FW for it. Also, will be designing a circuit to tap off the IF and provide a band scope/waterfall on the 5″ display. In addition, will be designing an audio circuit so that the radio can be plugged into a computer to run digital modes. (Maybe include a decoder in the FW?). Maybe just put a bluetooth module and write a control protocol, and build an iOS app/macOS App to run the radio. Now, this sounds ambitious, and it is, but I really want to build the radio they way I want to. I will probably add a remote facility to control it via a network, or better the web (OpenWebRX?). I am hoping to be similar to the display in the second picture. If it turns out well, it could become a side business.  The display will look somewhat like this:

Screen Shot on 2018 02 18 at 15 08 47