Archive for category Amateur Radio

Review: E-Flite Blade 350 QX Quadcopter

The Blade 350 QX quadcopter is an almost-perfect example of its class. Three flight modes provide almost the perfect range from well behaved and safe to crazily agreeable to any insane set of control inputs you supply.

Blade 350 QX

Blade 350 QX

It is light, provides a reasonable flight time with the supplied battery, and you’re pretty well guaranteed to have more fun than you expect fooling around with it.

But that’s not all. The 350 is powerful enough, and stable enough, to carry a Go Pro camera and take awesome HD movies and stills from the air. You can spin the quadcopter in place and create a fabulous pan, or fly right up to something you otherwise can’t get to and take a closeup. Or just fly around and take a look at the countryside.

Everything you need is supplied in the package; the quadcopter, the hand controller, batteries, a charger (12 vdc… meant to hook to your car’s electrical system so you can recharge in the field), and you even get a set of extra blades. Which you are unlikely to need if you are even just a little bit careful. The manual is a little dense, and because of that you’ll have to read it carefully, but everything you need to know is actually in there within twelve pages.
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Kenwood TS-990S Review

ts990sI’ve been operating the Kenwood TS-990S for some months now, so it’s about time I actually review it. This review reflects operation under firmware 1.05 as downloaded from the Kenwood website.

Because there have been a number of reviews that have done an excellent job of enumerating the radio’s features, I’m going to come at this differently. I’m going to first give you an overview of how well I think it operates and how comfortable I’ve become (or not) with its features, along with an assessment of its value with regard to its capabilities. I’ll note a few things that seem unique to me, standout features that are really special from the operations standpoint.

Then I’m going to lay out, in detail, the critiques I have of the radio from an operating point of view — that’s something no one has really gone into as far as I know, and I hope you’ll find it useful. I even nurse a vague hope that Kenwood will, via Google-fu or some kind soul, find this and take some of my ideas to heart, because I really do think the radio could be significantly improved with just a firmware upgrade (or several.)
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Voice of Russia (former Radio Moscow) going dark

Sad news — another important broadcaster is abandoning the short waves. On January 1st, 2014, VOR will cease transmitting except on medium wave, and a token presence on the Internet.

VOR has been broadcasting to one hundred sixty countries with about twenty five hours of programming each day. As Radio Moscow, VOR was the first shortwave station to broadcast internationally; with that credit, it is also at present the station with the longest continuous presence on the short waves.

Somewhere in my various pack-rattery, I have a beautiful mug from Radio Moscow, obtained in the late 1980′s if I recall correctly. I guess it’s time to bring it out and give it a place on the memorabilia shelves.

Well, I suppose there is a bright side: Without those big gun transmitters on the air, it’ll be a little easier to hear the smaller stations from time to time.

VOR joins the BBC in abandoning the shortwave bands; the slide continues.

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The KD0BCF de KC0OW show on 3843 KHz

For my ham and SWL readers, I just wanted to point out a fun little thing that’s been going on for a while. KD0BCF, Tom, an atheist, and Scott, KC0OW, a christian, have been going at it, more or less politely, for some time now. I first ran into them SWL’ing the 75 meter ham band, and now I actively look for them, and if I find they’re on, I leave the dial right there.

Scott’s a lawyer, and you can tell that this forms the root of his arguing skills. Tom pretty much has Scott for lunch, or at least he has the times I’ve tuned in, but Scott’s ability to duck and cover and evade is right up there with some of the best I’ve seen. He also, it has to be said, appears to be very secure in his faith.

Both fellows are quite intelligent, and the tone of the rhetoric is generally well above what you’d expect for this kind of interaction, especially one that’s been going on this long. Kudos to both of them for keeping it mostly polite and cheery.

Subjects covered include religion (of course), politics, world events, fundamentalist broadcasts, Israel, Islam, etc.

A highly recommended little chunk of the SWL/ham experience. :)

Yaesu FTDX-3000 Review

FTDX-3000I added the FTDX 3000 to my station in order to use it differently than most users will; my setup uses the transmit portion of the radio as usual, but utilizes the IF output on the rear deck to replace most of the receive capability with an SDR on the IF, and my SdrDx software working with the SDR. This works as planned, and so I am well satisfied with the radio in my installation. I get a far superior receive capability to any traditional radio on the market at any price including the very best from Yaesu, Kenwood and ICOM, *plus* the radio’s own capabilities as a medium quality second receiver in-band if I want that. I did my research, I got what I asked for, and I am happy as a clam. Also, confirmation bias, lol. But…
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On the use of Power Amplifiers in Amateur Radio

As many of you know, I’m a ham operator. I spend a lot of time listening to the HF bands, not a whole lot transmitting, but I do listen. One of the things that tends to irritate me is when I hear some wag putting someone else down because they have a “little signal”, by which they mean 100 watts or so.
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Something for you CW types

You know, I have to confess: CW isn’t my favorite operating mode. It’s ok; sometimes I tune down to the CW portions of the ham bands and copy it for a while just to keep my hand in, but not too often. Consequently, another confession: I’ve not looked really hard into SdrDx’s CW handling until today. When I did, I found there were improvements that could be made, and, because I’m somewhat compulsive, I went ahead and made them, and you’ll find them in the 2.12r OSX beta that’s available for download as of right now. But don’t stop reading yet, please.

My old J-38 straight key

The first thing I did was some work on the high and low adjustment ranges of the CW mode demodulator envelope; CWL now allows from -10 to -1500 Hz, CWU allows from 10 to 1500 Hz. These are sane ranges; previously, it was a little weird, and I apologize for that.

The second thing was change the demodulator envelope adjustment from 100 Hz/step to 50 Hz/step. This allows you to create a properly centered demodulator envelope of an odd width, such as 300 Hz, or to cut the bandwidth all the way down to 50 Hz — a little extreme perhaps, but amazingly usable if the received station is stable.

Lastly, I experimented a bit with the audio notches to see how to best tailor the audio, and I found that with the Q of a notch set to about the third hashmark from the right of the Q scale, the notch was narrow enough to sit right on the upper edge of the demodulator envelope. I’ll give a detailed example:
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New OSX and Windows version of SdrDx – 2.12p

SdrDx 2.12p adds support for the Andrus, FunCube Pro Plus and AFEDRI SDRs; It also provides various features and fixes. See the link to the changes document, below.


  Screen shot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fyngyrz/8675326983/in/photostream/lightbox/
    Downloads: http://fyngyrz.com/?p=915
Documentation: http://fyngyrz.com/sdrdxdoc/sitemap.html
      Changes: http://fyngyrz.com/sdrdxdoc/changes212.html

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