GB7MB still on-air, but we use P25 & HF SSB 28.495

The demise of DMR in the area has seen a resurgence of a few of the locals go back to 10m SSB instead.  We have been using 28.495 USB (on and off) for over 10 years now, with a brief
flirt with DMR in between when we put GB7MB on air.  Activity is low of course, but is monitored most of the time, so fire your HF rig up and shout up. We are vey relaxed on there and fun, please don’t get offended by the goings-on on 28.495 – instead, just join in,

The photo above is a MMDVM – a little radio board that sits on top of a Raspberry Pi – those tiny twenty quid computers – and it’s a hotspot for your P25 rig.
You can buy them ready built too,  they work fine. here’s an example.

After a bit of a config you need a P25 set, they pop up on Ebay and other places occasionally.
you shouldn’t need to pay much above ¬£100 for one, the chinese haven’t yet made a cheap P25 set yet, and likely never will, have a google for P25 digital if you don’t know what it is.

We have a Morecambe bay reflector for P25 and several users, though again, activity is low ūüôĀ

So, that’s an overdue update, just so you know what’s happening (not too much) but feel free to use GB7MB and have fun.

GB7UZ off-air

As most DMR locals may have noticed, GB7UZ is off-air and there is no way of knowing if it will ever return.
So It isn’t your radio – the repeater is gone.

turn your smartphone into a P25 or DMR HT ?

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 have been busy lately, they’ve rebranded now from BriCom, and i completely missed them first time around, ¬† Anyway, this device, which is¬†sort of a set of modular clip-on-goodies for your smartphone can magically turns it into a VHF / UHF P25 / DMR / FM / HT is available, and, 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, and P25 modes, analogue signalling like MDC1200 etc, trunking, GPS, ROIP, SOS, alarms etc, and there’s an SDK kit available for third party developers too, and hopefully the apps that will appear as well. It all seems very¬†modular and well thought out, the clipon goodies even has their own mic and speaker and battery, and it’s all neatly wrapped up in a $99¬†Nextpaq case – with the actual Dxbm modules beginning at $65 it’s beginning to look mildly Interesting. Watch this video¬†or this earlier video¬†which hopefully gives a better idea of it…

All work, text and images ©GB7MB and

Sommerkamp FT 277 ZD sale ((now sold ))

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Sommerkamp FT 277 ZD MK III  РFrom 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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All work, text and images ©

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


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 ūüôā – 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..

I¬†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 crap,¬†keep 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,

I¬†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.

Below: no idea about any of them, just FM sets, but they are excruciatingly ugly.

There are no more words ¬†ūüôā
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 Support,¬†Mars¬†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 !

All work, text and images © GB7MB

TAC-9 logos for Motorola DP4800 / DM4600


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

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..

All work, text and images © GB7MB