Saturday, 22 September 2007

All quiet at the BBC

Ive just spent a week at the BBC training center Wood Norton. Pleasent enough place, excellent restuarents in Evesham, and very good training, learning about TV signals. But as far as radio goes, the place is dead! I only took the 2m handheld, but i thought i would get something. Even with the stonking great 7/8ths whip i could only get two repeaters, nothing on simplex at all. And of those two repeaters, only one would respond to 1750Hz toneburst. As i dont yet have CTCSS in this radio, it pretty much limited my options.

It was however fairly academic anyway, as it turned out the 12v EBP-18N battery pack i had chosen to take has a bad cell, so i could only transmit with a decent power level if plugged into the charger. Hardly practical with an antenna attached that reached the hotel room ceiling. Even the telly in the hotel was badly tuned, although the one in the bar was probably more due to having a half dozen telly techs, engineers, production people or whoever retuning and adjusting it every five minutes!

So, i now need to recell that battery pack, and maybe even the 7.2v pack as well, although ive not tested that one properly yet. I do however have the EJ-12U CTCSS unit for the handheld on order from R&L in the states, so hopefully that should be here soon.

The DR-130 is now fully installed in my car, along with its huge whip antenna. Supposedly a 50W set, ive adjusted it to run at 25w, which im more comfortable with. Even so, using its low power setting of 4w i can hit the Hull repeater from my driveway, a good 30miles or so, and i can hold the Flockton repeater, close to my works at Emley Moor, all the way home from work, another 30miles. As it stands, this radio has only 20memories, but i found a chap in Italy on ebay selling various Alinco modules (sadly not the EJ-12U), and bought the EJ-19U 80ch memory module from him. This my son Sam and myself installed into the radio this morning, Sam passing me the tools from the passenger seat. He knew exactly what we were doing and how to do it, not bad considering he's only 3 and a half. So now the radio has 100 memories, plus the calling channel. My intention is to program them up with all the repeaters and their CTCSS tones that i am ever likely to be within range of in that car.

Sam helped me repair and reinstall the receive only longwire today. It had been down for over a week after the feed connection broke. Unfortunately the insulator got stuck on a newly grown branch in the tree, so could onlu be brought down by wrapping a carrier bag around it to smooth its passage. If i had taken it down the other way i would have needed to rethrow it into the tree, doing it this way left me able to pull it back up, as i had put an extra length of rope on its fixing line. Once back up, and its counterweight (a house brick) attached, we tested it. For around an hour at about six o'clock we had solid copy on 12MHz of Kyodo news FAX, so its definately working fine. At least, that was after we had solved the QRM problem that was covering the bands in S9+ hash. This turned out to be the portable telephone on my radio desk, but only when the phone is charging. Ferrites on the power lead make no difference, so the trick it to turn off the charger when using the radios.

Theres still plenty of VHF QRM, from the broadband router, but thats something to deal with another time. Im now looking for a AKD/NASA HF-3 radio for Sam, these radios are very simple to operate and Sam would enjoy tuning around, on a radio he cant break!

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