turn your smartphone into a P25 or DMR HT ?

Untitled
Well, You can certainly do some neat tricks with SDR’s nowadays, clever things like making your Raspberry PI transmit AM/FM/SSB and the (slightly pricey) but very interesting HackRF board. I see Fenton Dynamics, they’ve rebranded now from BriCom and i completely missed them first time around,   Anyway, this device, which are sort of a set of modular clip-on-goodies for your smartphone, which magically turns it into a VHF / UHF P25 / DMR / FM / HT, Not that you can tell, but the photo above is of the 2w VHF iPhone 6 version apparently, well so it says in the blurb, all wrapped up in a  Nextpaq case.

For more info check out their August 2015 Youtube posting HERE  and head over to Fenton Dynamics too, if you have a supported Android or IOS device it may appeal to you .. it does far more than what you’d think, with a dual band module, DMR, P25, signalling like MDC1200 etc, trunking, GPS, ROIP, SOS alarm, and there’s an SDK kit available for third party developers too, and the apps that will appear. It all seems very modular and well thought out, it even has it’s own mic and speaker, and it’s own battery, all neatly wrapped up in a $99 Nextpaq case – with the actual Dxbm modules beginning at $65 it’s looking Interesting. Watch this video or this earlier video which gives a better idea of what it looks like.

-Hax-
All work, text and images ©GB7MB and @mbars.co.uk

Sommerkamp FT 277 ZD sale ((now sold ))

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Sommerkamp FT 277 ZD MK III  – From a warm, dry, pet free and smoke free home.
It’s got all the WARC bands, and will never ever have been CB’d as far as i’m aware, as i bought it directly off Harry G3LLL, the famous Yaesu 101 Guy who lives locally to us here at MBARS HQ – all that’s changed is that i fitted a FM board, which works, but there is an earth loop buzz on TX (but on FM tx only) i never got ’round to to fixing it as we used SSB !

The mic is a standard taxi type mic and the power lead comes with the set of course. The set has been looked after, RX’s well and TX’s well, the tubes seem good too, i never bothered checking them as the set just kept running fine and never let me down. It’s been kept switched on for long periods sometimes, weeks at a time, (heaters off) and is quite a nice example of the Sommerkamp badged FT 101 ZD mkIII

I will be sad to see it go, it’s like an old friend, but it’s time for me to move on, so here you are.
It’s in used, but working condition, don’t expect showroom condition, and know these sets are about 40 years old.

Best thing is to come and collect it, it’s too damn heavy to post, but if you really can’t get here to pick it up, maybe we can arrange a courier or something, but it’ll likely be pricey, and i’m not even sure i can package it in any meaningful way that would protect it during transport.

Really really, do come and pick it up.

Nice set .. and it will help keep you warm in the winter too.
Come and collect it from Morecambe promenade,

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20160721_152251 20160721_152310 20160721_152425 20160721_152458 20160721_152511 20160721_152645

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–Hax–

All work, text and images © mbars.co.uk

Never mind the fugly, feel the er, quality..

cap

Yes, that’s a real photo of a real chinese electrolytic someone found during a repair.

I’ve not been doing much radio lately, as life kind of got in the way and my interest in amateur radio is somewhat on the wane, but every now and again it’s good to raise your head from out of the trough long enough to taste the cool summer breeze, as i do, i notice a new email from China in my inbox, i wonder if the air is as fresh over in Quanzhou, Yes, it’s another Chinese radio for me to purchase, or not, this time it’s DMR (TDMA) and it’s a Wouxun, it’s the first DMR Wouxun i’ve seen, and the previous FM set whatever it was was, probably wa the best selling (useable) dual band HT after the ‘christmas cracker quality’ Baofengs which hit the streets, so it slightly caught my attention. It kind of goes without saying that the Wouxun i foolishly bought, shuffled off it’s mortal coil after a only couple of years, after randomly crashing, rebooting, reverting to the default mandarin and forgetting everything. dreadful. At least it was a one minute job to re-upload the frequencies back in the set via the USB lead, Worse still was the Yupiteru 7100 scanner which lasted about the same span, then randomly crashed and burned at random moments too, and occasionally forgot it’s nearly 1000 memories. No USB programming there, that got old really quickly, so sold it as scrap, which reminded me of several Yaesu’s having done the same to me since i was a kid SWL, leaving me fed up and with a broke radio, not good enough.

I moved over to Motorola hardware several years ago and have never been let down with their solid hardware (just their occasional crappy DMR firmware) Yaesu have let me down hundreds of pounds for years, and forced me away with bad gear and worse after sales support, so obviously won’t be buying Yaesu or any of the other Ham names anymore, besides which, i think It all looks like it comes from the same Baofeng factory anyway. I love my FT 101 ZD, probably the best HF rig Yaesu Musen ever made, i love the build quality, but i will get rid soon, as i don’t use HF anymore.

Bad experiences aside, i must say I’m quite pleased that the Chinese manufacturers are now making DMR, obviously the quality is not the main priority when they’re knocking these things out en masse, and predictably the programming software is crap too, thank goodness then for Chirp the open source CPS that does a few other (not just Chinese branded radios) and hooray, i don’t have to even use Windows. Thank goodness for that. 2016 huh.

The firmware in the Chinese sets is often poor, but somewhat shockingly, even Motorola screws up firmware releases, the affected Gen2 MotoTRBO Motorola sets crashed and rebooted if you set the DSP and scanlist in certain combinations, and as if Moto didn’t learn by that mistake, the code monkeys at Motorola recently released a firmware which stopped the sets going into transmit mode. Nice job Moto,  but hey, why bother actually testing this stuff ?   I am available as a beta tester, email me for my details Moto.

If you’ve got a Chinese radio you may have the added bonus of fixed, naff, and quiet TX audio too, which seems to be getting solved nowadays, and with some recent Chinese DMR sets, there is talk of slot timing issues which slightly worries some DMR repeater keepers (but which Amateurs measure the slot timing accuracy and rise / fall on TDMA sets anyway ?) – these sort of things should be sorted out, if only they spent as much refining these things as they do with bloody cell phones.. but i digress, there seems to be little evidence slot-timing issues are much of a real world problem at present for Amateurs, my guess is the MotoTRBO repeaters are perhaps adjusting their tolerance ‘on the fly’ in these circumstances, but i’ve no proof..

You do get what you pay for of course, and the Chinese sets and Motorola are of course aimed at 2 different markets, and i hope the Chinese manufacturers one day could open-source their software and get the community to do some of the bug testing and development for them, but maybe the Chinese manufacturers are protecting their own IP (insert: irony) or maybe they’re reluctant to anger DVSI and Motorola’s legal department.  Only joking 🙂 – well,  it’s not stopped them making clones has it, and if it’s not all fake cell phones, and dodgy copies of Windows98 in China, let it be known there were or maybe still are some fake Apple “STOERS” (sic) over there, apparently even some of the employees thought they were actually working for Apple… You can’t make this stuff up can you..  Hopefully the chinese manufacturers will use their famous ingenuity to embrace a emerging market (us lot) my guess is that maybe there aren’t the numbers in the hobby to justify them spending on such R & D..

do know however, that exactly what the hacking / Ham community needs are people like Travis Goodspeed there in this Youtube presentation over at ShmooCon giving a presentation of his now famous firmware hack of the Chinese TYT MD380 handheld.. and there needs to be more of this. This retro looking website might be interesting if you’re interested. Travis’s blog is interesting too, even if it seems he’s not updated it for a few years.

After seeing this brand new shiny Wouxun KG D901  i was reminded of something else the Chinese HT designers should fix, less important perhaps, it’s the look of some of the sets, this bugs me way more than it should, appearances are of course subjective, but to me, the vast majority of chinese radios seem plain Fugly  indeed, some look like they’ve gone out of their way to make them as ugly or as infantile as possible, and some look like they’ve just dropped out of a clown’s arse, stop making them look crapkeep it understated and tasteful, I’m not asking for Johnny Ive  to design the bloody things (i mean, it wouldn’t have any buttons would it ?) but make them look like a proper radio, not something that is so ugly you’re likely to get beaten up for just having one at the next radio rally.

Amazingly this DMR Wouxun has a variable mic gain (must have given the designers sleepless nights) but still, they have 16 channel max scan lists ? – not all DMR sets are so limited, so any arguments about scan speed and missing calls ‘because of large scanlists’ is based on an incorrect premise, that such large lists increase likelihood of missing calls, well possibly, do dealers programme huge scanlists into commercial users systems, instead of only just what they need ?  

Somewhat refreshingly, there are occasional breaks from this ‘tradition’,  as an example, I do like the huge number of contacts you can add to the Connect Systems HT (a few thousand i think it is) – they’ve gone that extra step, which makes it better for masochists who like keeping full contact lists, it seems like Jerry as Connect Systems checked his email, and took notice, and i do understand that there are limitations on what can be done with the hardware and firmware, but it looked interesting and it peaked my interest originally, but i thought the CS700 seemed quite overpriced when compared to what North American buyers were paying, as it’s still a chinese HT, and i refused on principle, I’m an Amateur and i’m tired of pointless restrictions, life’s too short, and if you’re charging Amateur prices, give Amateur facilities.

Some advertising burb even suggest the TYTERA / TYT MD 380 are a copy of the Motorola DP4800, er, no.
I know the TYTs are popular sets, i might even try one, but damn, they need a bit of a makeover, they’re not like a DP4800 other than the keyboard is under the display, the proper place for it. I only just forgave Motorola for making the nice but FUGLY DP3600 and then replacing it with a model that *is* pretty, and screwing the pooch by neglecting to fit an SMA on it – (unless you pay another couple hunded pounds for the blue ATEX model) Yes, Motorola, you suck too, Hams buy your gear too, Moto, and some are about to stop, but to be practical, I require a VFO and other amateur features on my sets now,

know Moto are not consumer Ham type sets, but i’m already tired of the DP4801’s lack of SMA and lack of real FPP ond no VFO’s and real FPP, it’s not even a real option for us in the west, and vendor lock-in is bad for buyers, if only they recognised it, and If i find a DMR HT with the features below, my DP4801 will be on Ebay and i’d likely buying a HT with hackable firmware. for me a useful DMR HT needs:

  • SMA aerial
  • standard 2 pin TRS (jack) or something stronger / more pins features, non proprietry but Moto style.
  • scanlist not limited to 16ch
  • open source firmware / programming software for general hackability, so we can avoid the hateful chinese CPS
  • obvious mic gain & other standard features in radio menu you’d expect to find in any other radio
  • RSSI
  • Full FPP including up/down VFOs and full TG creation without PC. ALL TG rx like the hack for the TYT / Tytera / Retevis MD380 sets
  • doesn’t look like crap, good font and display on set too.
  • rugged

There may be more, like not being overpriced, but that’s obvious, and i don’t mention roaming, though i use roaming on our TAC-9 repeaters, and so think it’s very useful, MotoTrbo compatible roaming would be a sure winner in non-Moto sets, but i can live without it. I do wish the HTs were as pretty as the Moto’s however, below are some of the ugliest HTs i’ve ever seen, apologies if you own one, actually no, but why can’t they make them look less crap ?

wouxunDMRAbove: Wouxun DMR
Below: three Hytera’s. Hytera, you should be ashamed.

hytera_pd355_face_onpd365-500x500Hytera-X1E-GPS-UHF-5-Watt-Analog-Digital-Two-Way-Radio-6-Stueck-705423693--large
Below: no idea about any of them, just FM sets, but they are excruciatingly ugly.

shit1shit5
H-133439-1-5-new-launch-uhf-hot
shit3
HTB1ZHedJXXXXXXZXXXXq6xXFXXX8
Teamup-Chinese-two-way-radio-factory-low-price-T37
There are no more words  🙂
-Hax-
All work, text and images © GB7MB

 

Heads-up: beware cloning codeplugs, & why you should really write your own ..


oldie pc
It’s time to give a heads up to people and to try and encourage more amateurs to write their own codeplugs.
Our hobby is primarily a technical hobby, and as such we’re all interested in tech and playing with this kind of stuff, and so perhaps this is a good time to maybe sit down and write your very own codeplug, as a recent post on a {professional radio site} warns that there can be problems sometimes, when cloning someone else’s codeplug into your set – if they’re differing codeplug versions that is, it seems you could end up with bad audio settings, or worse still, missing features, so really do check before you commit the changes to your radio. Codeplugs contain much more data than just the channel information and rig settings you get to see and change in the CPS.

On the forums over at Communication SupportMars here, posted a heads-up about this issue to Amateurs, and when Mars says it, you’d be wise to listen. so might i suggest you read Mars’ Post here  The forum is for professionals, so don’t even think of posting on there without having done your homework first, or you may not get much help at all, but what you will get is a huge forum full of technical discussions and, more often than not, you will find out exactly what you want – by just reading the forums, you also may enjoy the dry humour that occasionally pervades the site too, and maybe you’ll get answers to questions you’ve never even thought of asking, and hopefully save yourself a little stress into the bargain…

Writing a MotoTRBO codeplug isn’t too bad once you have the basics, It may help your understanding of how DMR works too, if you’re not familiar with it, there are guides to using it and documentation on programming with Motorola CPS on this very site, but first option for help is the CPS’s built in documentation and the area specific help system, that’s a real great feature of the Mototrbo CPS, or, if you care to browse back through the archived posts, you can look there too for some Amateur specific bits of info, and then you can set your radio for how You use it, not how the original author of the codeplug you downloaded uses his, and also you’ll not fall foul of any of this cloning codeplug stuff Mars warns us about. You can drag ‘n’ drop channels from other Mototrbo codeplugs with ease, you can open other codeplugs in the CPS at the same time, FM channels are much easier, and dragging ‘n’ dropping can save you much time, but make sure to check the exact name of things like talkgroups before dragging digital channels between codeplugs, If you don’t, you’ll find out later why you *should*

Writing a codeplug is all part of the ‘learning about radio technology’ thing we all signed up for.. sure, it’s not waving a soldering iron inside a valve transmitter like the early days, not quite as dangerous either, but technology has allowed up to swap the soldering iron for the keyboard in some ways, and me, i’m not complaining, they are both skills the modern amateur radio hobbyist will benefit from, and it really does bring back a sense of DIY to the hobby, now that much of the premade gear is often too small and fiddly for most of us nowadays.

Don’t be afraid of the CPS, give it a go, it can be quite interesting trying out your ideas, and you’ll be putting something In to the hobby too, which leads to getting more out of the hobby too, & it kind of beats watching funny cat videos on youtube doesn’t it !

Happy programming !

–Hax–
All work, text and images © GB7MB

TAC-9 logos for Motorola DP4800 / DM4600

cushion

Just because i was a bit bored, i thought i’d trim our TAC-9 logo’s and see how they would look as a startup bmp for the MotoTrbo sets.
The portable ones are a bit stretched out to fill the (little) screen the HTs have. They’re quite fetching i think.
Download>>   Download

–Hax–
All work, text and images © GB7MB

A Thankyou ..

To everyone that came to visit us at Blackpool rally yesterday and very kindly surprised us with donations, we’d like to say a big Thankyou to You all, and also of course, to Everyone who has supported us this far, either with donations, equipment, time or other assistance along the way,. even just by joining in,  It shows the true Amateur spirit is still alive and kicking !

-Hax, Mot and Paul-
All work, text and images © GB7MB

MB and UZ last heard lists

We were asked by some folks at Blackpool rally to add a few links to the last heard pages, the web pages where you can see who’s been using the repeater and what their rough signal quality was like into them.
So here we are, First link is to the Phoenix last heard list for GB7MB:

GB7MB Last heard list   (these links open in a new browser tab)
and GB7UZ below,
GB7UZ Last heard list

So .. Hope that helps..

–Hax–
All work, text and images © GB7MB

some codeplugs retired, and and an updated CS700 codeplug for GB7UZ and GB7MB

We are in the process of moving some old codeplugs we had on the site into an ‘archive’ or ‘retired’ section, as since they were uploaded, the DMR landscape in the UK has changed. They may have incorrect or not used anymore talkgroups, i spotted one or two CS700 ones with errors, so i strongly advise you not to use these, unless you want to see how DMR has changed since they were uploaded, and we have a new, hopefully easier, download system on the site, so all the codeplugs will magically re-appear in there soon.

Some of the ‘retired’ codeplugs still contain huge amounts of valuable data, like FM repeaters, contact lists and many simplex frequencies that you can still drag over into your current MotoTRBO CPS, but the DMR repeater Talkgroups have changed massively, most, (but not all) Phoenix talkgroups on other Phoenix DMR repeaters generally follow the ones we carry on GB7MB and GB7UZ, talkgroups such as the old American slot1 and uk wide slot2 and other unused stuff should be removed.

Anyway, here is an updated CS 700 Codeplug for GB7MB and GB7UZ users.
There are no other DMR repeaters programmed in.
It is here mainly for testing purposes, and i request feedback of any errors you may notice.
Please bear in mind i do not own a CS 700 to test this codeplug on, so please do expect errors and differences, and bear this in mind whilst submitting errors for inclusion into the proper finished version, which i will re-check in a month or two.

It is up to you to fill in your DMR ID and assign buttons etc. to your liking.

Please (ALWAYS) back up your current codeplug and take a look at the MBARS test CS700 codeplug before you write it to your radio, and adjust it to your needs, like side buttons and your ID. You can then use it after that, but most users will want to customise it and add a few extra channels of their own. There are DMR simplex and FM simplex channels, local FM repeaters and, of course GB7UZ and GB7MB.  FM channels are all 12.5kc, and there are basic scanlists set up.

I cannot find any way to re-order the channels in their zones, as i am pretty unfamiliar with the (dreadful) CS700 programming software, I hope someone out there knows how to and, either tells me, or submits or uploads a re-ordered and tweaked codeplug. I’m pretty much a CS700 newb !

Notes to fellow codepluggers, on Phoenix DMR repeaters in the UK, there is NO UK wide on slot 2, the long time gone North America Talkgroup is no more, it was spotted in several codeplugs, but as that TG disappeared before GB7MB got on air, i thought it should be made clear. TG8 roaming is no more either. The more efficient User activated Talkgroups  made this moot. The full list of our Talkgroups are listed on this site, plainly and simply, and they are the same for GB7UZ nd GB7MB, there are no ‘secret’ or undocumented talkgroups. talkgroup9 slot 2 (local) is called TAC-9 now because it is linked between UZ and MB.

We hope this helps, as i say, i do not have a CS 700 to test this codeplug, so please do not complain of any errors or omissions, instead, just drop us a message on here, or better still, upload your fixed CS 700 codeplug, saying what you fixed, (but lets not have any non Amateur frequencies though), so let’s help each another in the true spirit of the hobby 🙂

-Hax-
All work, text and images © GB7MB

Introducing TAC-9

tac9-a 1 not bad nn
Now just what are they on about over there in the Bay area ?
– and what’s all this TAC-9 business about anyway ?

We largely started GB7MB to help ourselves, a few radio geeks up here, communicate between each other a little more easily on handhelds whilst we were out and about, and perhaps, even drum a little more activity in the area, and to experiment and to have a bit of fun doing so into the bargain, and we were actually quite delighted when quite a number of other local Amateurs joined in with the DMR fun too, Great stuff. The more the merrier !
Results with GB7MB weren’t quite as great in some areas as we had hoped, largely due to a mixture of site restrictions and the local terrain, after all, this is perhaps the lower end of the Lake District, and it’s certainly not the flat VHF friendly terrain of Norfolk and other flatter VHF friendly areas we might wish to live in, even a local towns’ commercial system uses two repeater sites to cover one town – and and we would like to cover the whole area if we could…

So, GB7UZ came on air over Easter, it’s at a private site in Lancaster, it’s a MotoTRBO repeater, one of the new SL series, and it’s carrying the same talkgroups as GB7MB,  the new repeater’s output frequency is 439.500 and it’s input is 430.500, all colour code 1. Yes, feel free to set roaming up between UZ and MB – both repeaters are set to beacon (nothing like CW id!) to aid roaming.

Our two UHF  MotoTRBO repeaters are not completely seperate however, the one slight difference is that Talkgroup 9 local is linked between them both – how this works is you simply transmit on Talkgroup 9 slot 2 one on repeater and you are coming out of the other repeater at the same time, so if you cant get in to MB and your friend cant get into UZ .. you can both have a QSO as if it were the same single repeater. This is what we are working towards in the area, Total Area Coverage on Talkgroup 9, hence, TAC-9.

Referring to GB7MB local slot2, Talkgroup 9, (apart from being a bit of a mouthful), is less important really, as it is much the same as GB7UZ local slot2, Talkgroup 9  – and TAC-9 is far easier to say, and maybe more acurate too, and will become even more so as we test, build and expand the system over time, because calling on TAC-9 will involve your voice coming out of more than just two DMR repeaters, maybe on a different band or different mode somewhere in our local area… – that’s if we get to where we want to be with our other plans.
The next plan being discussed is to possibly add a 10m FM repeater into the TAC-9 system and possibly a 6m FM repeater too, and hopefully another digital gateway into the system too, in order for us to all experiment and provide access to a common place to chat between users of different systems, some of whom may not have DMR or 10m FM, but may still want to join in with other users who only have (say) a 6m HT or whatever, maybe giving them chance to actually use that dusty old 6m FM HT you’ve been meaning to use, but have instead, had sitting gathering dust in the shack for years.. and use it on the interlinked TAC-9 system !, of course as for the DMR side of things, these interconnections will only be local, on talkgroup 9 local, and not networked or routed across any other talkgroups or networks at all.

That’s the plan, or something like it anyway, and who knows, it might even be a bit of fun 🙂

-Hax-
All work, text and images © GB7MB