Dave Richards AA7EE

November 8, 2010

NT7S “Project X” Receiver In Action and 2 Meter FM In England

Jason NT7S just embedded into this blog post a YouTube video of the receiver section of his upcoming transceiver project in action. As a kid, I remember visiting the shacks of local radio hams and feeling the excitement to hear the sound of the bands on their “big rigs”. There was something about the rush of band noise coming through the speaker that was exciting to me.  It sounded even more compelling if reaching my ears through a narrow filter. Yes my friends, my name is Dave and I’m a licensed radio amateur. Anyway, Jason’s receiver sounds great, and flashes me back to those teenage moments.

The finished project will be available as a kit with a PCB and will be a transceiver.  Video of a QSO in action will hopefully follow once  the microcontroller is fully operational. Stay tuned.

My faltering steps towards improving the HF antenna situation here are temporarily halted while I prepare for a trip to England. On previous visits, I have usually taken my decent camera complete with flash, spare lens, filters, battery charger, spare battery etc. This visit is due to family health issues and I’m travelling light so that I am not distracted by all manner of electronic paraphernalia.  However, there will most likely be a few spare moments, so I thought I’d take a little 2 meter HT with me.  On a future trip I’d like to take a small HF rig so that I can work CW in England for the first time in over 25 years but the mission this time is not to be distracted by extraneous stuff, so this simple little HT is going with me:

GB3MH (for Malvern Hills), my favorite UK repeater, is no longer, so the radio is already tuned to GB3NW in the city of Worcester.

This radio is QRP even by 2 meter standards.  The output is 340mW on high power and just 50mW on low power. It uses 3 AA batteries that last for a long time – one set will be enough for the trip, negating the need to take a batterry charger.  If the batteries do run out, I can buy replacement AA’s almost anywhere. If the radio gets damaged, lost etc, used versions (it’s not made anymore) are cheap. It’s an ideal travel radio for some non-serious chatty FM fun.  The factory version of the model came with an integral fold-out whip antenna which in my opinion, was the weakest part of the radio. If you’re going to make a 2M HT with just 1/3w output power, why hobble it’s capabilities any more by including an inefficient whip less than a quarter-wave long?  I got mine from a ham who modified it for QRP mountain-topping by replacing the integral whip with an SMA connector to which can be screwed a light-duty quarter-wave whip, or other external antenna:

Back view showing modified SMA antenna connector and list of UK repeaters I hope to be able to hit.

I do very little 2 meter FM in the US. The chatter doesn’t really interest me, but I have fond memories of 2 meters (2 metres for my UK friends) in the late 1970’s when I was first licensed. I did a lot of chatting on the simplex channels and made some good on-air friendships. GB3MH, the Malvern Hills repeater, had very wide coverage, a fabulous signal, and was easy to access.  I could access it with one watt to a small paper-clip held in my finger.  I even tried a short length of wet string (really) once, and it worked.  I don’t know whether times have changed, or just me, but 2M FM just doesn’t do it for me now. However, I haven’t worked 2M FM in the UK since probably around 1982, so this will be fun. I’ll be in 2 places – the Redditch/Worcester area, and in the city of Bristol.  I have the following repeaters already programmed in:

GB3NW (Worcester)

GB3BM (Birmingham)

GB3WK (Leamington Spa)

GB3KD (Kidderminster)

GB3WR (Penn Hill, Somerset)

GB3WE (Bristol)

GB3AA (Alveston)

I’ll also be squirting my 1/3 watt of FM on 145.500 from time to time. If any UK amateurs are reading this (not sure if any do) will be in either of these areas and fancy a chat, then drop me a line.  I’ll also be in London for an hour or two and plan to listen to the London repeaters for a bit.

Next time I’ll take HF and pound some brass!

 

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6 Comments »

  1. Hi Dave,

    G0ORE here. QTH is Redditch.

    Am often around on 2M when i’m mobile in the mornings around 08.30 and evenings around 5 to 5.30pm so if I hear you I’ll give you a call.
    Activity is not the same as back in the 80’s but you should be able to find someone around. 145.5 is still the calling channel and the repeaters you have programmed are the local ones. Some repeaters need CTCSS to bring them up from cold. Generally its the ones on the 12.5Khz channels for example GB3BM needs a 67Hz tone. There is also some 2M simplex activity around in the town most evenings.

    Will you be using your US call/G or do you have a UK callsign ?

    73’s
    Nick (G0ORE).

    Comment by Nick — November 10, 2010 @ 11:14 pm | Reply

  2. Hello Dave,

    I was there recently but didn’t take my HT because I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of spare time. Sorry to hear about the family illness but hope you get a few minutes to spend on the air. I use a little Radio Shack HT which puts out about the same power. I’ve used an adapter for my SMA connector to a BNC. Those little “pocket roll up J-poles” work very well with these little radios. Hope you make a few contacts and have a few spare moments in England. I found it to be a fascinating place. I could stay in London for awhile. Just loved it there. Have friends that were born and raised in Bristol.

    Still waiting for the first SS check. Should be any day now and hope to do something with the “micro station”. The bands seem to be improving a little but don’t hear England very often. Worked Slovenia yesterday with 5 watts and the indoor Isotron. Looking forward to the bands improving this winter.

    Comment by John N8ZYA — November 14, 2010 @ 2:44 am | Reply

  3. Hi Nick – will try calling but family matters have become more pressing since I arrived in the UK, so I probably won’t be on the radio much. The one repeater I seem to be able to hit from here in Astwod Bank is GB3NW. I have accessed it a couple of times with no replies to my calls. I’ll be in Batchley today so may see whether I can access any of the repeaters from there or whether there is any activity on 145.5. Thanks for the tips and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we QSO. I’ll be using M/AA7EE (I think that is the correct way to do it.)

    Comment by AA7EE — November 14, 2010 @ 11:33 am | Reply

    • Hi Dave,

      Just seen your reply. Yep the repeaters are somewhat quiet these days in the UK.
      Am going down M5 tomorrow morning (Tuesday 16th) around 08.30 to 9.00pm so will listen to GB3NW. Will then probably be on same repeater around 5 to 6pm on my way back. Hope to work you but fully understand that other matters take priority.

      Cheers
      Nick

      Comment by Nick — November 15, 2010 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

  4. John – exciting about the retirement! I hope to be in touch once I get back to the States.

    Comment by AA7EE — November 14, 2010 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  5. We keep missing each other Nick! I do have a question to ask you if we ever get to work each other. I think my sister-in-law might know a member of your family.

    I try to listen to NW in the mornings from about 8:30 to 9, but there are usually some other chaps there in QSO. If we don’t QSO, I’ll e-mail you at some point. 73 fer nw,
    Dave.

    Comment by AA7EE — November 17, 2010 @ 11:04 pm | Reply


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