Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This is a new, very expensive, HF/VHF/SHF tranceiver that Icom is advertising and potentially going to release later this year. It can do HF+6m, 2m, 70cm and 23cm with an optional module. Additionally it will have a module for D-star that will allow you to do D-star on 10m,6m,2m,70cm and 23cm.

Wait, is D-star even allowed on 10m? The brochures say it's possible to use the DV mode on 28mhz but I was under the impression that the maximum bit speed you could run on 10m was 1200baud. D-star runs at 4800baud. The transceiver has not made it's way through the FCC according to unversal-radio. I wonder if anythings going to come of that.

More information:

Rich man's hobby

Repost from KE9V's blog:
A quick review of some of the equipment that debuted, was announced, or made an appearance at Hamvention this year:
  • Icom IC-9100 when it becomes available the rumored price is $4000. This is yet another in a platinum-plated Icom line that includes the IC-7600 ($4000), IC-7700 ($7000), and the IC-7800 ($13,000).
  • The Yaesu FT-DX5000 in several flavors that retail from $5000 to $6000.
  • Kenwood’s TS-590S at $1800 retail (available in October) is said to replace the TS-570S. This seems like a fairly reasonable price but don’t lose sight of the fact that the 570S that it is replacing last sold for $989 before it was discontinued.

 I agree with every aspect of this. I also like the challenge near the end of his post where he challenges people to tally up the cost of equipment in their shack and compare/contrast it with how much they spent on their wife's wedding ring. I guess these are the prices that the market will bear.. but will the hobby?

Go Check it out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Alinco Radios

I know Alinco isn't as popular as some other equipment makers but they do have a couple of interesting new radios out. One that I saw and played with a bit at the Hamvention is the DJ-G7:

I think this is something really neat because it not only does 2m and 70cm but also 23cm, or 1.2ghz. You don't really see a whole lot of equipment that does 1.2 so I thought that was really cool. It does 2m/70cm at up to 5w and 1.2 at up to 1w. Additionally, it's true dual receive and it has a wideband receiver that goes from 530khz to 1.3ghz, minus analog cellular. (824-849.995,869-895.995 blocked) I thought I read at the show that it was all-mode receive, but I can't see that on their website now. It is just showing AM/FM/WFM.

Go check it out.

Additionally, and I was tuned in to this by someone on the softrock40 mailing list, Alinco has brought out a DJ-X11 communication receiver. It looks a LOT like the DJ-G7 actually. If I had one of each in a drawer, I might accidentally leave the house with a scanner instead of my HT!

This covers from 50khz(!) to 1.3ghz, all-mode. AM/FM/WFM/SSB/CW. It is dual receive but it appears that the sub-band only covers 118-171 and 336-470. AM/NFM, blegh. I shouldn't complain, dual-receive at all in a communication receiver is pretty rare anyways. This radio makes up for it by having a really cool feature. It has IQ and 10.7mhz IF output. With the IQ output, you can plug directly into a soundcard and use it directly as a SDR (Software Defined Radio) Very cool! I'm not familar with what the IF output could be used for but it's nice to have anyways. Again, this is something very rare for this sort of thing. It also has a frequency counter and "Flash tune" feature to tune into nearby radio signals. You can get a cable to control all functions from a computer. Very nice indeed.

Go check it out.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Paging all Hams


This is cool. It's a homebrew paging network running on Ham radio frequencies. I believe they have this set up to send DX clusters. That's okay I guess but there's all sort of uses this could be used for. Weather alerts, Skywarn, club reminders, emergency contact, or even getting the attention of someone away from their radio.

I'm not sure if it's related to the above project, but here's one using a modified commercial radio to send the pages: http://oh7lzb.blogspot.com/2010/03/project-pocsag-paging-network.html

Apparently some pagers can be reconfigured to work in the 2m band. The pocsag "modem" can be implemented on an Arduino which is a cheap multiprocessor development board.

I saw some pagers in the flea market at the Hamvention this weekend so the used hardware is definitely available. I don't know what kind of prices they were being sold at. I saw plenty of commercial VHF, UHF and 800mhz radios there also.

More Information:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ROS new Digital Mode

Video from Youtube of the ROS digital mode that's caused a bit of a raucous. More info here. I'm going to stay out of the discussion.. I have no way to use it, yet. I am humored by the sound of it. It kinda sounds like an old, run down, out of tune music box. I'm half surprised that the FCC's disagreement with it is about a spread-spectrum quality rather than a musical one! LOL :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weird kit from Kenwood...

Kenwood had some neat kit that they were experimenting with in the past. There's this thing:

The Kenwood VC-H1

Kinda looks like one of those portable TVs doesn't it? It was for portable SSTV.  The camera on top was a 270k CCD that could be turned 360 degrees and detaches for connection of an external video source. The LCD screen was 1.8". This unit was capable of storing up to 10 pictures in its memory and it was compatible with 8 different SSTV modes. Even though the manual says that, it can only send in two modes; Robot 36 or "Fast FM". The latter requires a 9600 baud connection with your transceiver. The manual lists 5 Kenwood transceivers that it works with in Fast FM mode, I suspect it would work with anything that can do 9600 baud though. It is capable of subtitling your pictures with your callsign. It can also automatically transmit every 3 minutes.

Pretty neat little device for someone who wanted to do portable SSTV. Put some AA's in, plug an interface cable into your HT, and go.

Then there's the Kenwood IP-100 "Illustphone"

If you do a Google search for this you'll end up with a bunch of pages talking about an ipod interface for your car or something. Rigpix claims it "allows transmission of alphabets, number symbols and pictures which are drawn on the pressure sensitive tablet." But there's nothing about transmission mode. Does this work in SSTV or some sort of FAX mode? Is that a thermal printer of some sort on the back of it? When were they sold and does anyone still use it? I may never know.

Kenwood also made the CD-10 Call sign Display.

I talked about that in an earlier post though. I'm kinda sad this didn't catch on. Just because it's neat and it was 20-30 years ago that we had the capability to have a callsign automatically transmitted. This is the sort of thing that D-star is only now making possible again. R & L actually has one of these for sale.

All pictures courtesy of RigPix.com
Used without express permission, I'll take them down if there's an issue though.
Oops, I was unintentionally linking directly to the pictures on their website, I thought I was hosting them on here when I pasted them in. Fixed that now. 

Monday, May 3, 2010


The wikipedia page for D-star is pretty interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-STAR

I don't think I was aware that it was created as long ago as it was. It started as a research project by the Japan Amateur Radio League in 2001. Also, apparently it's been used for at least one satellite QSO in 2007. I don't know how popular that is compared to analog modes but that's pretty neat. There's a D-star capable microsatellite that is suppose to launch this October, 2010.

I'm impressed in how low the data speed really is, and yet they manage to get decent audio through it. I guess the data stream runs at 4800bit/s. 3600bit/s is voice audio (with 1200bit/s forward error correction, so only 2400bit/s for the audio) and a spare 1200bit/s for other data. A different modulation technique can transfer 128k but only on 1.2ghz.

Pretty much the entire standard can be implemented except for the chip that encodes the audio to a data stream. This is a proprietary chip, only available in hardware form, and noone's allowed to make an open source implementation of it. There is an effort to make an open source audio codec but this will create digital radios that can't talk to each other. With such a codec you'll have a dstar radio that can't talk to icom based dstar radios, although you'll be able to transfer regular data just fine. http://codec2.org/

GB7MH has been able to use this to make a d-star repeater without requiring the audio chip. Decoding the audio isn't necessary for the repeater functions. It's still possible to fully handle the rest of the D-star features.

Some people have been able to build homebrew radios using the UT-118 DV adapter that was originally intended on being installed in Icom radios.

Honestly, all this technology makes me very excited. I refuse to buy into it with a proprietary licensed codec however. Ham radio these days is way too much a commercial, consumer electronics field. The usage of a proprietary codec really flies in the face of the hobby and I refuse to support it. Godspeed to Bruce Perens and David Rowe. Hopefully sometime in the near future an open source codec will exist. I wouldn't scoff at an Icom radio, or any other, with an open source digital voice adapter in the place of the UT-118 one.

James Hall

Link dump

Blog by pictures...... go!


http://www.qsl.net/wb1gfh/antenna.html aka "THE $4 SPECIAL"

http://www.w1mv.org/ladder.htm "The Lure of the Ladder Line"

I'd like to find a good schematic and detailed, easy to understand, guide to building an antenna tuner/transmatch.

...To Be Continued