For a long time I have used two mics for my amateur radio setup, a Heil PR-40 for my HF rig and A Heil PR781 for my ID-5100. I received good audio feedback all around and every time I tried to get down to 1 I’d get noise in one or the other rig and I’d just go back to what worked.
Recently I’ve been doing some writing work and that’s required me to have conference calls a couple of times a week. The mic on the camera is decent, but I have these beautiful professional mics right next to me, and it was killing me not to use them.
I ended up purchasing a new tool to help me integrate. The Focusrite Scarlet 2i2.
Now, instead of the PR-40 going straight into the balanced input of the Flex 6500, it runs into the 2i2. The 2i2 has 2 line level outputs on the back. I run that to the Flex 6500 and it doesn’t know the difference. With the Focusrite’s USB connection to the PC, it sees it as a sound card that I can run into Zoom or Google Meet. No sweat.
This still leaves the problem of feeding the ID-5100. I’ve done this for now.
I received feedback from the folks on the Atlanta Radio Club Sunday Night Net that the XLR Split leaves my FM audio with a high pitched whine in it. So, as the graphic says, I’m going to build an adapter to come out of the other Scarlett 2i2 line out port and step the audio down to Mic level for the 5100.
Parts are on order. I’ll update later this week on how things go.
I wanted to see if I could add my DVAP Dongle hotspot to the DR list of repeaters on my Kenwood TH-D74A handheld. I could find the settings for an ICOM radio but not a Kenwood so I did a little experimenting. Here’s what worked for me:
Part of the trick was using the DIRECT tag in RPT1 and RPT2. This allows me to link and unlink repeaters using the DR mode, tested on 30C and it came right through. This works with DVAP Tool V1.04 that I am running on my Raspberry Pi.
The only functionality that doesn’t seem to work is INFO and ECHO since the DVAP is looking for “DVAP I” vs. just the “I” command and “DVAP E” versus “E”. To keep that functionality, I put it in as a repeater memory.
Now I have DVAP access both ways, memory channel or DR mode. Hope this helps someone figure it out.
As one of my earlier projects, I set up a Raspberry Pi with some relays to control my systems remotely. This allows me to warm things up from the couch before I head to the shack, or if COVID ever goes away, to fire up the radio remotely.
So it’s been several years since I made any updates to the Raspberry Pi that makes all that work. I remember rolling back from a Raspbian update because it broke some functionality and I wasn’t in a place to spend time on it. I finally found the time this week, 3 YEARS later.
So I decided to start from the ground up with the latest version of Raspbian and reinstall WebIOPi, which is the software I am using. WebIOPi allows me to use the GPIO pins to control the relays using a web interface. I had spent a little time customizing it for my shack so I wanted to keep using it. Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated in 4 years.
After struggling with the latest version of WebIOPi (0.7) and dealing with “invalid syntax in thread.py” and “Attribute error” issues related to my Pi 2B, I found my savior on GitHub. https://github.com/doublebind/raspi
Follow the instructions theree and you are good to go. I’ll be pleased if it will run another 3 years with no need for updates.
For their next Zoom meeting, the Atlanta Radio Club is having a “show us your shack” session so I thought I would use this time to share mine along with some detail on what’s there. For ease I have numbered many items and linked to more information where I can.
Let’s start from the top left: (1) Photo & Certificate: The photo is the cover of QST Magazine from August 2011 and a copy below of the short article and a photo from the Coca-Cola 125th Special Event Station the Atlanta Radio Club put on. The certificate is my Volunteer Examiner certification, it lets me be part of a testing team for new ham radio licenses issued by the FCC.
(2) Part of my microphone collection, along with a couple of other odds and ends. (2a) is the Heil Sound Classic Microphone which I added the call letters to in this YouTube video. (2b) is the Shure 55SH which inspired my N4BFR Vision logo.
(3) is the brass and wooden Watch Stand I made back in July. Next to it is an old Western Union sounder that would summon someone to your shop to pick up a telegram.
(4a & b) are JBL Control 2P speakers. I’ve had these 2 years now and I really recommend them, they sound great. Not shown, but for PC audio I use the Schiit Modi 3 DAC and I can really tell the difference a better Digital to Audio converter makes.
(5) is my lighted call-sign sign I bought to celebrate 10+ years in Amateur Radio. It’s made by Gifts4Hams.com which does a lot of very nice laser engraving. I have a QSL card chest from them as well. Under the sign is the Heath GC-1000 “Most Accurate Clock” which was part of my 24 Hours of Clocks YouTube experiment. Between that and the speaker is a Ducati desk mic I found at an estate sale.
(6) is more of a memory wall than anything else. The panels are by Wall Control and I liked them so much I ended up redoing my workbench with them as well.
(7) is one of Ham Radio stations I have in the room. When I designed this 8+ years ago this was set up to be a contest shack that we could run Morse and Voice in at the same time and we even worked a third station in for digital. This station is named “Edison”. The radio is an Elecraft K3 with a Panadapter. This station uses a Raspberry Pi 4 4GB for logging, digital modes, and just about anything I need.
(8) is a Tivo Mini, I can repurpose one of the Edison monitors for TV and run the audio through the JBL speakers for watching news and weather.
(9) are antenna controllers. On top is the SteppIR SDA2000 Controller for my SteppIR Urban Beam antenna, and below it is a Yaesu G450A rotor controller that I put an add-on board in for control from my PC.
(10) Are the Wright and Sputnik monitors where I monitor things of interest. Wright is on the top and I think of these two as a dashboard, it shows Local and UTC time, temperature inside and at KPDK, my ADSB receiver so I can track planes in the neighborhood and I manually keep antenna configuration displayed. On the bottom is Sputnik which tracks the International Space Station via a program called GPredict. Since my 70 Amp Astron 12 Volt power supply is not where I can see it, I use a Raspberry Pi Zero W as a Web Cam to see the status dynamically. I also keep a text log of states I need to complete my ARRL Worked All States awards and the web interface for my PiStar hotspot which gives me DMR access. Wright and Sputnik are powered by separate Raspberry Pi 3’s in Kiosk mode.
(11) My handhelds for DStar and DMR. Currently using a Kenwood D74A for DStar and APRS, and a used Motorola XPR6550 for DMR.
(12) starts the big “Tesla” work station where I spend a lot of my time. I have gone through different monitors but I expect these LG 27UD68P 4K HDR monitors to last me a while. Not shown but they are powered by an ASUS ROG Gaming PC I picked up a few years ago.
(13) is my Flex Radio 6500 HF Radio. This is a terrific radio, a big step up over the Elecraft K3 (which is a wonderful radio in it’s own right). 4 tuners, covers DC through 6 meters, plenty of expandability and integration. I also have the (13a) Flex Radio Maestro for listening and operating around the house or the neighborhood via Wifi. I am really glad I got on this system early on. I am thinking of upgrading to a 6700 for even a few more features, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.
(14) For VHF / UHF and D-Star I have the ICOM ID-5100 radio, which I liked so much I bought 2. One for the shack and one for the car so I don’t have to learn 2 different radios and I can share programming in-between them with SD Memory cards.
(15) Mixes 6 different audio sources including the radios and PC plus and Alexa and the TV. It’s the Behringer Eurorack Pro and it’s just what I need. I tried a fancier PC controlled mixer for about 6 months and for simplicity of being able to reach up and turn the knobs or mute something quickly, it can’t be beat. By the way, the Flex and Mixer are mounted in 2 wooden stands I custom made. Just below the mixer is a 7-Segment clock I made with a Raspberry Pi (are you getting a theme here?). Under that is an eInk display I use to track when future SpaceX launches are. Yes that is powered by a Pi as well.
I think that wraps it up. I would love to get questions on any of this or have discussions or even give support. Check me out on Social Media at https://www.facebook.com/N4BFRVision or https://twitter.com/N4BFR_vision.
Disclosure: All of the items above were chosen by me and comments are my personal opinion, I received no special discounts or materials. Some of the links above go to Amazon.com. If you purchase through those links I may receive a commission.
I’ve been fairly lax on keeping up with local repeater nets in my area, so I thought what better way to sync up than to build a list. If you have additions connect with me at n4bfr at arrl.net. Thank you to those that have contributed!
Updated 6/18 – 4:45 PM
Start Time (Local)
Alford Memorial Radio Club
Atlanta Radio Club
Dekalb County ARES
SE D-Star Weather Net
145.350 146.960 REF004A
Gwinnett ARS “Want/Swap”
West Georgia ARS
North Fulton ARL “Tech Talk”
Cherokee Co ARES
Alford Memorial Help net
Butts County ARES
Fayette County ARC
Alford Memorial EmComm Rag Chew
Southeastern DMR Net
444.825 TG 3113
Southeastern Linked Repeater Net
146.820 & 5 other states
Paulding Co. ARES
Carroll Co. ARES
North Fulton YL Net
GA Tech Yellow Jacket Net
Turnip Truck Net
Sometime before Midnight (Usually around 10 PM)
Additional Non-Weekly Nets
Alford Memorial Brown Bag Lunch Bunch Daily (Most Weekdays) – 12 Noon – 146.760
Metro Atlanta ARES First Sunday – 4:00 PM – 146.805
WG9XHP – Telemetry for sub-orbital first stage and orbital second stage.
2247.5 MHz, 2255.5 MHz, 2232.5 MHz, 2272.5 MHz – 3.5 to 4.167 Mbps Signal
WJ9FXQ – Autonomous Drone Ship
2090.0 MHz – 600 kbps signal One Watt
WI2XUB – “Commanding to Spacecraft”
2106.40625 Mhz – 12 Kbps Signal One Watt. Authorized for Cape Canaveral including Port Canaveral Recovery Dock Ship, Vandenberg AFB; Kodiak AK; Pensacola FL including Pensacola NAS Dock Ship; Inarajan Guam; Boca Chica TX; Daytona Fl Recovery Location Ship; Jacksonville FL Recovery Location; Panama City Recovery Location; Tallahassee Recovery Location; Tampa Recovery Location.
@MilcomMP on Twitter this morning (5/27) that “Cape Radio” on 10780 Khz is active.
For Ham Radio operators, Twitter user @KO4AQF says listen to Echolink node 3082 for NASA.
406.2375 MHz Primary Control Channel (P25 II) Based on the Radio Reference list, this appears to cover talk groupsused for SpaceX, Orion, SLS and other operations frequencies.
SpaceX 900 MHz
935-939 MHz (Moto TRBO) Radio Reference only reports an “Operations” talk group.
SpaceX 400 MHz
464.7375 Primary Control Channel for Cape Canaveral (Moto TRBO) Radio Reference lists 2 “Operations” talk groups
45th Space Wing – US Space Force
386.375 MHz Primary Control Channel (P25 I) Radio Reference lists mostly security, fire and base operations talk groups.
(Also see NOTAM / NTM information below)
Air Traffic Control
KXMR – Cape Canaveral AFS Skid Strip 118.625 MHz AM 143.150 MHz AM 239.05 MHz AM
KCOF – Patrick SF Station 133.750 MHz AM Ground 269.375 MHz Ground 132.650 MHz AM – Orlando ATC Departure and Arrival
TTS – Shuttle Landing Facility 128.550 MHz AM Tower 284.000 MHz Tower 134.95 MHz Orlando ATC Departure and Arrival
Aviation Emergency / GUARD frequencies 121.500 MHz AM 243.000 MHz
Coast Guard Emergency
15.6800 MHz FM
Amateur Radio on the ISS
ARISS is ham radio communications to and from the ISS, not mission audio. This is also used when schools “Talk to an astronaut.” More on ARISS > https://www.ariss.org/
145.800 MHz FM Voice & Slow Scan TV Repeater Downlink
145.490 MHz Voice Uplink (Americas, Pacific, S. Asia)
145.200 MHz Voice Uplink (Europe, Russia, Africa)
145.825 MHz Packet Uplink and Downlink
437.550 Mhz Packet Uplink and Downlink
437.800 Mhz Repeater Downlink
145.990 MHz Repeater Uplink (Requires PL of 67 Hz)
Notice to Mariners / Notice to Airmen
Because of risks to aviation and marine traffic, notices are published to avoid the areas of launch and rocket landing. While not specifically radio related they may at times carry frequency information.
USCG District 7 reports in LMN07202020
ATLANTIC OCEAN - FLORIDA - CAPE CANAVERAL: EASTERN RANGE OP# X0053 FALCON 9 CREW DEMO-2
Eastern range will be conducting hazardous operations surface to unlimited within portions of Warning Areas W497A, W497B, W137F/G, W138E,W139E/F, W140, W141, W122 and the following Hazard Areas.
THIS IS A MANNED SPACE LAUNCH
A: From 2838 25.89N 8037 17.06W
TO 2839N 8037W
TO 2901N 8014W
TO 2858N 8011W
TO 2834N 8029W
TO 2833 32.69N 8034 1.72W to beginning
B: From 3122N 7744W
TO 3201N 7716W
TO 3218N 7641W
TO 3212N 7634W
TO 3142N 7652W
TO 3117N 7740W to beginning
Hazard periods for primary launch day and backup launch days;
Primary launch day: 27 / 2022Z thru 27 / 2107Z May 20. Preferred T-0 is 2032Z.
Backup launch day (1): 30 / 1911Z thru 30 / 1956Z May 20. Preferred T-0 is 1921Z.
Backup launch day (2): 31 / 1849Z thru 31 / 1934Z May 20. Preferred T-0 is 1859Z.
Related Frequency Information:
If a vessel equipped with AIS is determined to be entering the launch hazard area, an addressed safety message 14 with the text "REGULATED
AREA 33 CFR 165.775 ACTIVE STAY CLEAR" will be transmitted to the vessel. All provisions of the safety zone remain in effect; no person or vessel may enter, pass through or remain within the safety zone unless authorized by the Captain of the Port. Mariners are required to contact the Coast Guard via VHF FM channel 16 to arrange for this authorization.
Marine Channel 16 is on 156.800 MHz using FM modulation.
The FAA has published Facility ZJX (Jacksonville Center) NOTAM 0/1729 for 5/27/20. It reads in part:
!FDC 0/1729 ZJX PART 1 OF 6 FL..AIRSPACE CAPE CANAVERAL, FL..TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS.
MAY 27, 2020 LOCAL.
PURSUANT TO 49 USC 40103(B)(3), THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) CLASSIFIES THE AIRSPACE DEFINED IN THIS NOTAM AS 'NATIONAL DEFENSE AIRSPACE'. PILOTS WHO DO NOT ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES MAY BE INTERCEPTED, DETAINED AND INTERVIEWED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT/SECURITY PERSONNEL. ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL ACTIONS MAY ALSO BE TAKEN AGAINST A PILOT WHO DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OR ANY SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS OR PROCEDURES ANNOUNCED IN THIS NOTAM
THE FOLLOWING OPERATIONS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED WITHIN THIS TFR: FLIGHT TRAINING, PRACTICE INSTRUMENT APPROACHES, AEROBATIC FLIGHT, GLIDER OPERATIONS, SEAPLANE OPERATIONS, PARACHUTE OPERATIONS, ULTRALIGHT, HANG GLIDING, BALLOON OPERATIONS, AGRICULTURE/CROP DUSTING, ANIMAL POPULATION CONTROL FLIGHT OPERATIONS, BANNER TOWING OPERATIONS, SIGHTSEEING OPERATIONS, MAINTENANCE TEST FLIGHTS, MODEL AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS, MODEL ROCKETRY, UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UAS), AND UTILITY AND PIPELINE SURVEY
No specific frequencies are given, but the Aviation “GUARD” frequencies are 121.500 MHz AM for civil aviation and 243.0 for Military.
I decided after 3 years and a few weird errors here and there it was time to refresh the copy of my Windows 10 on my main desktop PC in the ham shack. (I know, I have Linux and Mac here too!) After keeping a list for a few days, here’s what I use most.
Google Chrome I like Chrome for browsing and I use many of the other Google features like Sheets, Drive and Photos, so this all stays integrated. Since it keep my logins and history across all my different machines, this is the universal tool for me.
It’s a Ham Shack, So… One of the reasons I chose this particular PC (ASUS ROG GR8 II) is that it was powerful enough to run my Flex 6500 graphically, and let me multitask. Here’s where I start from a ham perspective:
Smart SDR for Windows. I upgraded to the latest version, 3.1.11 which gave me a radio software upgrade as well.
N1MM Logger Plus Well integrated with the Flex, this is my go-to logging software for any contest I do, plus it puts the DX spots on my Flex spectrum to find-em fast.
Ham Radio Deluxe Why two loggers? Well HRD is more than my logger, it’s how I do digital and Logbook of the World (yes, I have TQSL as well.) It’s my non-contest, everyday QSO software.
Audacity I could have put this with other PC items, but mostly what I use it for is recording my radio items like strange Shortwave signals and it’s a great non linear audio editor.
As I go along I will add items like software for programming my ICOM and Kenwood radios, but not until I need them.
Graphics and Video I’ve been enjoying making blogs and YouTube videos since I have been retired. I use at least one of the next 3 daily it seems.
GIMP – The Gnu Image Manipulation Program – Lousy name, great free and open source replacement for Photoshop or other graphical editors. It’s cross platform too, so I can use it on my Mac and Linux machines as well.
Blender – This one was controversial when I posted about it as a video editor. I learned non-linear video editing about 25 years ago, and this felt comfortable to my experience level. Plus if I want to learn more 3D rendering, it’s there. Again it’s free, open source, and multi-platform so I get to learn once and use anywhere.
Streamlabs OBS – When I want to do a YouTube live show, I use Streamlabs OBS. Look at that, free and open source and multi-platform again. There’s a theme here. It’s very easy to use and I was really please that it had saved my scenes across-installs so I could just click and go.
Raspberry Pi I don’t need a lot of software for Pi because most of what I do is related to programming on the devices themselves. But I need something to handle writing images to MicroSD cards and creating backups. Win32DiskImager is my tool. While I primarily use it for the MicroSD, I have written ISO’s to a USB card with it in a pinch. Pick a drive, read or write from it. It is that simple. To clean those cards, the SD card association supplies a formatter.
So that’s it, the first 11 programs (don’t call them apps on a PC, just, no) on my clean desktop. I’m off to make some contacts!
When I originally designed my ham shack / tech center, it had 3 ham radio operating stations to allow for some contest operating. I named them after favorite scientists, Tesla, Edison and Woz. Tesla is my main station, Edison is where I do experiments and have guest ops. Woz was used a few times for contests, but we found my small lot wasn’t really conducive for multi-multi operations.
A couple of the radios recently went out of the shack so the Woz station has been used for burning DVD’s and other odd stuff. As you can see from the top it became a junk spot. So I decided to collect up some of my Metrology equipment into the space.
Here’s the updated version. On the left, you’ll see the “Harrison” display (as in John Harrison, the father of the portable clock) which tracks my GPS clocks. Below it is my HP 5328A which includes a super accurate 10 Mhz crystal oscillator and a 100-1200 Mhz element which allows for VHF/UHF testing as well. I use this to calibrate my HF radio.
Skipping over the scope for a second, there is a small box on the glass shelf with three connectors. This is a GPS disciplined oscillator that also puts out a 10 MHz standard signal.
Next over is a Techtronix oscilloscope which allows for a bunch of cool measurements. In this case, I set up both the HP and the GPSDO standards to compare their output.
Here are the 2 traces. The top shows the output of the HP and the bottom is the output of the GPSDO. Since both are not up to temp yet, I was not worried about how they compare, but I will try again in a few hours.
Use the social links to contact me with thoughts or tips and enjoy!
I have been heavily into the YouTube thing over the last few months, and I have some old and new favorites. Enjoy this week’s nerd-heavy list of things to watch.
Want to watch cool rocket stuff regularly? SpaceX is about to become the first American company to send american Astronauts to the ISS in over 10 years. Plus their launching an internet satellite constellation and working on this little “trip to Mars” thing.
The Modern Rogue
This has a “Mythbusters meets Magic and other Scams” vibe as two “Professional Idiots” do things like making homemade thermite to cook steaks, play with RFID, discuss everyday carry items and even a little ham radio.
The Lockpicking Lawyer
The Lockpicking Lawyer has an artists touch. His videos are super basic, pretty much a camera and a lock, but he gives you a lot of different insights on build quality and how some things are safer than others (avoid TSA locks). Great way to get under the mechanics of how these things work in our daily lives.
I think he’s most well known for his camera reviews, but I really get into all the retro-tech items that he covers. This particular video shows a German 8-track style record player, but he’s covered old computers, hi-fi and phones as well.
I feel like Leo Laporte is my older “brother from another mother.” He’s successfully put together a podcast network, TWIT, that covers tech news, photography, internet security, Apple, Android and more every week. I greatly enjoy his Tech Guy radio show podcasts every Saturday and Sunday.
And a plug for me
Part photography, part ham radio and Raspberry Pi tech, part cat videos, Space stuff, just what interests me that day. I’m having fun sharing and making new stuff, so please subscribe just to see what the hell I am going to do next.