Callsign change

I’ve decided to get back my original Region 10 callsign: KB0YTU. I thought that with each license upgrade I’d get a new systematically assigned call - signifying my achievement up the ranks. On second, I’ve reconsidered.

If you’ve noticed, I’ve made kb0ytu.com my primary domain, keeping ad0ui.com to maintain any links - if they haven’t been broken.

I’ll stick with this at least for now. Maybe I can even start blogging again.

2019 Minneapolis downtown Skywarn frequencies

146.700 Metro PL/CTCSS 127.3/127.3
145.430 Hennepin County RACES PL/CTCSS 127.3/127.3
147.000 West Metro PL/CTCSS 000.0/114.8
147.210 South Metro PL/CTCSS 100.0/100.0
146.760 Metro alternate PL/CTCSS 114.8/114.8

If you have a mobile or an HT at a higher elevation, you’ll be able to hit the West and South Metro repeaters. It’s also a good idea to include 146.520.

NOAA Weather Radio (enter into your WX channel and enable WX alert function):

162.550 NOAA Weather Metro
162.500 NOAA Weather NW Metro
162.475 NOAA Weather SW Metro

RF noise between a transceiver and computer

As noted in the instructions for setting up the TS-590SG to use digital modes on a Mac Mini, there is an increase in RF noise when the USB cable is connected between the Kenwood and the Mac Mini, through the SignaLink USB, and with a DB-9 serial cable to a USB to Serial adapter. I also tried connecting the serial cable to a Lenovo desktop - and even though the desktop was off, there was still an increase in noise. This leads me to think it is the cable itself that is coupling the noise to the Kenwood. Here are three possibilities of mitigating the interference:

  1. Use a shielded cable, ensuring the shield has continuity between connectors; and
  2. Ensure both the transceiver and the computer have a common ground.
  3. Use a laptop that isn't connected to the power lines.

The first alternative ensures the transmission of the interference from the computer to the transceiver. The second didn't work. The third....worked.

I was able to test the third alternative with a recent MacBook Pro. There was minimal additional interference (if at all) and I was able to install the USB drivers, download fldigi and WSJT-X, and get on the air. When the charger is connected, it will show a frequency dependent increase of an RF noise level of S2.

Conclusion: Use a laptop for digital modes to minimize or almost eliminate RF interference.

 

 

 

Kenwood TS-590SG and Fldigi on a Mac

Configured on a Mac mini (Mid 2011) running El Capitan, 10.11.5.

Note: The output audio will default to the headphone jack at random. Read about the problem with USB audio codecs and Mac audio here.

On the Mac:

1. Download the Silicon Labs USB to UART bridge drivers here and install.
2. Connect a USB cable to any USB port on the Mac. DO NOT connect to the TS-590SG.

On the TS-590SG:

3. Make sure a dummy load is present on the antenna connector, power on the TS-590SG and set the power output to 5 watts.
4. Press the Menu key.
5. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 68, “USB PORT BAUDRATE”.
6. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select 57600.
7. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 69, “AUDIO INPUT LINE SELECTION FOR DATA COMMUNICATIONS”.
8. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “USB”.
9. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 70, “SOURCE OF SEND/PTT TRANSMISSION”.
10. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “REAR”.
11. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 76, “VOX OPERATION WITH DATA INPUT”.
12. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “ON”.
13. Press the MENU key to save and exit.
14. Turn off the TS-590SG.
15. Connect the USB cable to the rear USB connector on the TS-590SG.
16. Turn on the TS-590SG.

Go back to the Mac:

17. Open System Preferences.
18. Click on Sound.
19. Click on the Input tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device. You should see the bars move with sound input.
20. Click on the Sound Effects tab. Using the "Play sound effects through" drop down menu, DO NOT choose "USB Audio CODEC". Click on the Output tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device.
21. Close System Preferences.

Install Fldigi:

22. Download and install Fldigi.
23. Open Fldigi. You will see the Fldigi configuration wizard. Click “Next”.
24. Enter your station information. Click ”Next”.
25. On the Device tab, check the PortAudio box. Select “USB Audio CODEC for both Capture and Playback. Click “Next”.
26. Click on the Hamlib tab.
27. From the “Rig” drop down menu, select “Kenwood TS-590S (Beta)”.
28. From the “Device” drop down menu, select “/dev/cu.SLAB_USBtoUART”.
29. From the “Baud rate” drop down menu, select “57600”.
30. Make sure Stopbits is 1 and Sideband is “Rig mode”.
31. Make sure the “Use Hamlib” box is checked.
32. The letters on the “Initialize” button at the lower right will be red. Click on it. The red  letters will turn to black and the frequency display behind the Wizard will reflect the rig’s current dial frequency. Click on “Next”.
33. Update the frequencies using your choice of data source. Click “Finish”.
34. Click on the Configure menu in the main window and Save Config.
35. Read the instructions for Fldigi and connect to your antenna.

That’s it! :-)

Note: A Mac Mini will generate S3 RF noise regardless if you are connected to the USB port through a SignaLink, or through the DB-9 connector, depending on the band.

Kenwood TS-590SG and WSJT-X on a Mac

Configured on a Mac mini (Mid 2011) running El Capitan, 10.11.5.

Note: The output audio will default to the headphone jack at random. There is a USB audio codec - Mac audio bug (at least on OS 10.11.5).

On the Mac:

1. Download the Silicon Labs USB to UART bridge drivers here and install.
2. Connect a USB cable to any USB port on the Mac. DO NOT connect to the TS-590SG.

On the TS-590SG:

3. Make sure a dummy load is present on the antenna connector, power on the TS-590SG and set the power output to 5 watts.
4. Press the Menu key.
5. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 68, “USB PORT BAUDRATE”.
6. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select 57600.
7. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 69, “AUDIO INPUT LINE SELECTION FOR DATA COMMUNICATIONS”.
8. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “USB”.
9. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 70, “SOURCE OF SEND/PTT TRANSMISSION”.
10. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “REAR”.
11. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 76, “VOX OPERATION WITH DATA INPUT”.
12. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “ON”.
13. Press the MENU key to save and exit.
14. Turn off the TS-590SG.
15. Connect the USB cable to the rear USB connector on the TS-590SG.
16. Turn on the TS-590SG.

Go back to the Mac:

17. Open System Preferences.
18. Click on Sound.
19. Click on the Input tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device. You should see the bars move with sound input.
20. Click on the Sound Effects tab. Using the "Play sound effects through" drop down menu, DO NOT choose "USB Audio CODEC". Click on the Output tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device.
21. Close System Preferences.

Install WSJT-X:

22. Download and install WSJT-X. IMPORTANT: READ ReadMe.txt contained in the image before install.
23. Once you've successfully installed WSJT-X following the instructions in ReadMe.txt, open the application.
24. If the dialog asking you to configure the radio does not appear, go to the finder.
25. Click on WJST-X and choose “Preferences”.
26. Go to the “Radio” tab.
27. From the “Rig” drop down menu, choose “Kenwood TS-590SG”.
28. Under Serial Port Parameters, select the Serial Port “/dev/cu.SLAB_USBtoUART”, Baud Rate 57600, 8 Data Bits, 1 Stop Bit, Hardware Handshake, Force Control Lines DTR HIGH.
29. PTT Method, select “CAT”. (Note: you can also use "VOX" if necessary)
30. Transmit Audio Source, select “Rear/Data”.
31. Mode, select “None”.
32. Split Operation, select “None”.
33. Click on “Test CAT”. If the settings are correct, the button will turn GREEN and “Test PTT” will no longer be grayed out.
34. Click on “Test PTT” The button will turn RED and the TS-590SG will transmit. Click on “Test PTT” to stop transmitting.
35. Click “OK” at the bottom right.

Main window:

36. The frequency indicator should now show your rig’s frequency and there will be a red dot next to the frequency display.
37. Select a band from the wavelength drop down menu to the left of the frequency display and the red dot.
38. With your selection, the TS-590SG will go to the correct frequency for that band, and the dot will turn GREEN.
39. Adjust the volume control below the GREEN dot so the input level is about 40-50 db.
40. Read the instructions for WSJT-X and connect to your antenna.

Note: When the waterfall no longer advances and no further transmissions are noted in the main window indicates WSJT-X has crashed. Quit and restart the program.

Note: A Mac Mini will generate S3 RF noise regardless if you are connected to the USB port through a SignaLink, or through the DB-9 connector, depending on the band.

HF from an apartment

After putting most of my radios on consignment - and eventually selling them - I was able to purchase a Kenwood TS-590SG to be used as my "base" HF unit. I also purchased a Kenwood TS-480SAT, Comet SAA-500 Mark II antenna analyzer, Hustler MO-3 (54") and MO-4 (22") mobile whips, 400 watt resonators for 80-10 meters, a VP-1 tri-band adapter, and a D-322 mount.

My first attempt at a usable antenna in my apartment was the Hustler antenna on the D-322 mount on a modified Sony VCT-R640 tripod (modified = I removed the camera mount) with a counterpoise. Failure.

Second attempt was to ground the antenna base. I was able to match the antenna. Noise. When I used the MO-3 without a resonator for 6 meters at 5 watts, the mic went hot. RF burn. Fail.

Third attempt was to ground the TS-590SG.  Because the ground is attached to building steel, I was in a Faraday cage, effectively nulling my signal. Fail.

Fourth attempt was to purchase a Chameleon F-Loop antenna with the 80 meter add on. Success, save for the standard RFI in an urban area (bzzzt....bzzzt...bzzzt). I'll review the F-Loop later with instructions to make it work with the Kenwoods (or any modern HF transceiver with an internal tuner).

The TS-480SAT will be used for my mobile and field work. I'm looking forward to experimenting with the verticals and the F-Loop outside. I've also ordered HF verticals from GAM (WeatherFax/DSC) and Metz (General Coverage). 

Of course I'll post the results.

 

902 Mhz band plan and experimental frequencies

Due to the lack of interest (and amateur rigs by the manufacturers) the 33cm band is wide open, if you don't count interference or non-interference from ITS, Part 15 and the ISM radio services. We will dispense with any part of the band plan that does not address spectrum for experimental purposes, data transmission or narrowband FM (i.e. repurposed Motorola GTX and Kenwood units). This is what it looks like here in Minnesota.

902.3125–902.4875 Narrowband FM/DV repeater inputs (25 Khz spacing)
902.500 Simplex (15Khz)
902.8500-902.9750 Narrowband repeater inputs (25 Khz spacing)
902.9875 Narrowband SNP repeater input
903.425-906.975 Digital
916.025-918.975 Digital
927.3125–927.4875 Narrowband repeater outputs (25 KHz spacing)
927.600 Alternate FM Simplex (15 Khz wide channel)
927.700 Alternate FM Simplex (15 Khz wide channel)
927.800 Alternate FM Simplex (15 Khz wide channel)
927.8500-927.9750 Narrowband repeater outputs (25 Khz spacing)
927.9875 Narrowband SNP repeater output

904.00-909.750 and 919.000-928.000 are designated for Intelligent Transportation Systems. They are the primary users of this part of the spectrum and the Amateur Radio Service cannot cause harmful interference. Part 97.303(n)(1)(i-iii) states, that in the 33cm band, Amateur stations must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the United States Government; the FCC in the Location and Monitoring Service; and other nations in the fixed service.

Researching 902-928 Mhz on the FCC ULS website, these are the active ITS frequencies in use within 50 miles of a point just south of downtown Minneapolis. They include users like the railroads, spectrum speculators and an airport:

901.95-902.00 (not in affected sub band)
902.25 (not in affected sub band)
903.00 (50K0N0N emission within 2 km of MSP Airport - 25 khz from SNP repeater input)
903.75 (within digital sub band)
904.00-909.75 (within the digital sub band to 906.975)
910.00 (not in affected sub band)
911.50 (not in affected sub band)
913.00 (not in affected sub band)
913.10 (not in affected sub band)
913.75 (not in affected sub band)
915.00 (not in affected sub band)
917.00 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
917.75 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
918.50 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
918.75 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
921.00 (not in affected sub band)
921.75-927.25 (not in affected sub band)
927.25-927.50 (within Wisconsin simplex sub band)
927.75-928.00 (within simplex and narrow band repeater output sub bands)

You cannot transmit on the SNP frequency within 2 km of MSP International. Generally, you have to be careful about which frequencies you can use and where you can use them. Using FCC ULS search, determine if your signal would radiate on a  frequency and within a bandwidth is in use by a licensed service.

(BTW, I need to update this post with the ITS bandwidth information - that will further restrict Amateur Service use of the band.)

Answer: Yaesu C4FM. Now what was the Question?

Drag me kicking and screaming into the post-AX.25 world so I can be on the cutting edge for once in Amateur Radio. You know the justifications by heart: Let's give Icom D-Star some competition. Don't get suckered into the inexpensive, mass produced Chinese radio that plays "The East is Red" when it's powered up. If we don't buy stuff from the manufacturers they'll just ride into the sunset like Drake, Swan, Hallicrafters.  So I figured, yeah, what the hell, there's repeaters being installed, and I need a good dual band rig anyway. Here's my $700.

There are now 3 clubs with Fusion repeaters, received with the blessings of Yaesu as part of a program to catch up to Icom's D-Star - which is already so entrenched that I don't see how Yaesu's (albeit allegedly superior) proprietary system will ever catch up. There's DMR and P25, and these two open-standard modes may supplant both C4FM and D-Star anyway, since they're open. Amateurs (like me) just don't really want to spend all that cash for proprietary systems and - let's be honest here - don't want to be beta testers and pay for the privilege.

Don't get me wrong, the Yaesu FTM-400 is a good unit (though with some bugs - i.e. the blanking of audio when in mixed mode and listening to analog FM, no configuration software like Kenwood) and the ever-present intermod in downtown Minneapolis. I use a duplexer and two quarter wave trunk mount antennas, one for 2 meters and one for 70 cm. Don't even think of using a gain-type dual band antenna. The intermod will be fierce, remedied by use of tone coded squelch.

I have had one - that's right - ONE QSO with a Ham who bought a FT-1DR HT. The digital mode worked - watch out, though, if some packets drop. It's not a pleasant experience. As for repeaters, there are three, all on 70cm:  444.100, 444.300, 444.525 Mhz.

I'll keep the rig for now. If the lack of interest and participation persists in the Metro, I'll just sell the unit to a ham lives in an area with a more active C4FM base.

Constitutional problems with HR 4969

The ARRL is telling us to support
HR 4969 ("Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014") HR 1301 ("Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015") that would forcibly compel PRB-1 (47 CFR 97.15(b) upon "all types of land-use regulation, including deed restrictions and restrictive covenants":

Except as otherwise provided herein, a station antenna structure may be erected at heights and dimensions sufficient to accommodate amateur service communications. (State and local regulation of a station antenna structure must not preclude amateur service communications. Rather, it must reasonably accommodate such communications and must constitute the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the state or local authority's legitimate purpose.

Not so fast. The ARRL, Congress and the FCC faces constitutional obstacles before they can impose their will upon private contracts.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
(United States Constitution, Amendment 12)

“No State shall … pass any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts … “
(United States Constitution, Article I, Section 10)

According to the ARRL website, there is an exemption for Digital Broadcasting Service and terrestrial television antennas already in law:

Private land use regulation of Amateur antennas is not preempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but most private land use regulation of DBS dishes and TV antennas is. Congress was interested in promoting competition (and thus lowering costs and improving service) in video delivery services.

Is the exemption for DBS and TV antennas itself unconstitutional? Does it not also impair the the contract obligations between two private parties? Answer: yes it does. The proposed legislation would add another unconstitutional provision to the current law. This calls into question the legitimacy of the ARRL's request - to forcibly compel a private party, by government action, to abrogate a private contractual agreement. It is one thing to restriction government action - it is another to restrict lawful private contracts.

Don't want to live under the rules of a homeowners association? Don't buy property or move into a house under their control. Don't commend government to violate or ignore the constitution or the law for your self-interest.

We already have enough of that.

Update: introduction of HR 1301, restate PRB-1.