Radio Station Rebuild

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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 24 Mar 2013, 12:32

Thanks for the comment Stanley but still a work in progress. I will shove another photo on from time to time to show progress. A bit of information dissemination now, you will have heard me referring to "S points" and the like in some of my posts so I will post this as way of explanation.

Signal Meter.

Here is a photo of the signal meter in my HF transceiver:

Image

Most transceivers will have some form of signal meter available, mine is a standard moving coil meter but others take the form of LCD Bargraphs. Both do the same job and are a multifunction indicating device.

You can see that the meter has two scales, the upper marked S ranges from 0 and is marked in odd numbers up to 9, the scale then changes to red and ranges from 0 to 60 and is marked in dB. This scale is red in actuality but the flash has rendered it Orange/Yellow, some flare as well from the perspex cover on the front of the transceiver.

This scale operates in receive mode and indicates the strength of the signal from 0 to 9 giving rise to the term "S points". For signals that are stronger than S9 they are then shown in dB gain over the maximum level of 9. There is an Internationally agreed system for reporting signals between stations which is known as the RST Reporting System. The abbreviation stands for (R) Readability - (S) Strength - (T) Tone. You can deduce from this that the system started life when all communication was by telegraph, the system was continued when telephony modes were developed. In telephony modes you only use the Readability and Strength to report the signal conditions.

The Wiki below shows how the system is used

Wiki - RST Code

The meter is shown in receive mode and is indicating a signal of Strength 6. the signal was completely readable so the report that would be sent would be 5-6

The bottom scale is marked PWR and has an additional scale in the middle marked ALC. This scale is used when transmitting and is dual purpose indicating transmitted power 0 - 150W. A pushbutton switch on the transceiver switches the metering between power and ALC which stands for Automatic Level Control. This scale is used to set the microphone gain (level of signal sent from the microphone), the scale shows the acceptable level of gain before introducing distortion to the signal. Once this is set correctly the meter can be reset to monitor transmitter output power using the toggle.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by melteaser » 09 Apr 2013, 16:03

Thought about you on Sunday Panbiker. We made the trip north to Blackpool so that imindoors and a friend could visit the rally at Norbreck, I wondered if you might have been there. Friends wife and I had a coffee in Blackpool and then a steady stroll along the prom up to Norbreck while cheering on the marathon runners.
We also had quite an entertaining game of spot the Ham both going there and returning home. Surprising how many have G* *** number plates - gives the game away a little.

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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 09 Apr 2013, 18:39

I was at the rally Mel, my wife Sally came with me and did it the other way walking down into Blackpool from the Norbreck. Now I'm back on the air, one thing I cant quite get used to is the M0's and 2E0's instead of all the calls being G's. I talk to a couple of local guys quite regularly on 2M they can't seem to get my G4 call and I always start their M's with a G before I remember the new order of things.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 10 Apr 2013, 04:29

It's an alternative culture with a different language.......
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 10 Apr 2013, 09:47

Different language yes Stanley but just ordinary folk pursuing a hobby. The M0's and 2E0's are just UK callsign prefixes that have been issued since they ran out of G's. When I was first licensed all UK calsigns started with G with regional variations for where you were located:

G for England, GM for Scotland, GW for Wales, GD Isle of Man, GI Northern Ireland, GJ Jersey, GU Guernsey. The prefix was followed by a number and 2 or 3 letter combination. Calls were issued in sequence a bit like car registrations used to be. You could more or less tell when the call was issued from the combination. The call sign is reflective of where the station is operated from so you vary your own call adding a suffix /M if mobile /P if operating portable /A from a temporary location other than the main station address and /MM if maritime mobile (from ship or vessel with the captains permission). Stations alter the prefix if they are operating from a different country. For instance my normal station callsign from my main address is G4LWG. If I was operating mobile whilst driving through Wales, my callsign would be GW4LWG/M, If I was touring in Scotland it would be GM4LWG/M.

There was also a different callsign structure when there were different classes of licence. I was originally issued with a Class B G8 callsign when I passed my City and Guilds Radio Amateur Examination (G8UKC). My current callsign was issued when I passed the Post Office Morse test which then allowed me to apply for a Class A licence and was issued with G4LWG.

When they ran out of numbers and letters in the G series they started with M's and then went on to the 2E's. The licence is now split into three levels starting with the Foundation licence, the exam structure is now run by radio amateur clubs which makes the hobby a lot more accessible and licence progression more structured. The Foundation licence is not difficult and it gives the opportunity to "get onto the ladder" and onto the air quite quickly. The idea being that you learn as you go. You can then step up to the Intermediate licence and then the Advanced licence as your knowledge increases. There is no longer any requirement to take a Morse code test as part of the licence conditions. The current Advanced licence is the equivalent of my Class A (without the Morse qualification).

The link below has a very good explanation of the history and issue of UK callsigns.

All about Callsigns
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 11 Apr 2013, 07:28

One thing that struck me Ian is that you may be able to help us Doc watchers when he sets off round the world next year. How about having a word with him about maintaining a link and keeping us abreast of his progress? I have an idea that with your expertise and the right technology you will be able to crack this when access to normal communication is difficult. Apart from anything else it would be a good project for you.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 11 Apr 2013, 08:53

I have already posed the question in the hand over thread I think Stanley. Doc will have Marine Band radio and satellite navigation on his vessel I would assume. From the radio point of view my licence does not extent to maritime or marine frequencies unless in dire emergency. If I hear as ship in distress I can talk to them and relay information to the coast guard. This was the reason that Morse was included in the licence for such a long time. On the other side of the coin, Doc's Marine Band licence does not allow him to to use the Amateur frequency bands.

There are two way forward that I can see. There may be some mileage in his navigation aids. There may be a way of plotting him via his GPS on some internet based site. Very much like the Air Traffic Control sites on the net. The other way would be for us to encourage Doc to get himself an Amateur licence. He would need to pass Novice which gives access to the bands but at low power (max 10W) If he progressed up to Intermediate level that would enable him to use (50W). The Advanced licence goes to (400W). I'm not sure though how he would go on in International waters though. Territorial waters would be OK, we have reciprocal licensing agreements with the vast majority of countries in the world so you can still operate with your UK licence in a foreign country by varying your callsign according to where you were with the countries allocated prefix. I would have to look at what he would do outside the territorial limits though.

Of course Doc may want to go with complete anonymity and he may already have enough on his plate without having to start a new learning curve. Novice and Intermediate would not be out of reach though, depending on time scale. Then he would need some kit......or a satellite phone!
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by melteaser » 12 Apr 2013, 06:07

Imindoors (G0 DUI) has said much the same re. the callsigns. He had been off the air for some 20+ years. He chats most evenings with 3 or 4 people who he knows from years back while they make their way home from work. He is often listening and enjoys chatting with the SOTA callers when they are doing their thing, interested to hear where they are and what the weather is like etc.

I like that he has another interest in the toyroom other than work. The yaesu radio is always on the background when he is in there. My only grumble about that....I miss Radio 4 6:30 comedy and the Archers at 7!

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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 12 Apr 2013, 07:59

I fancy having a go at SOTA Mel as an activator. We are often on the fells so I have just bought a dual band handheld transceiver I can shove in my rucksack (2M / 70cm). I have my original multimode portable as well for 2m so I can run SSB as well. SOTA did not exist when I was first licensed and I notice that our local hill (Weets - 1286 feet) is not a registered summit so would be interested to make it so.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 13 Apr 2013, 05:24

Ian. I have a Sony PLL ICF 2001D on my bedside table and it only ever gets used for R4 on FM. If it's of any interest to you I'd gladly swap it for a simple radio to give me snooze on R4! I see they are being sold for ridiculous prices on Ebay but would far rather it went to a good home like you. If I understand it right it will be obsolete for R4 one of these days anyway.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 13 Apr 2013, 14:52

That's a very nice offer Stanley, thank you, but I think there is a lot of life left in the analogue FM bands yet for you. The planned switch off of analogue services for sometime between 2017 and 2022 may never happen.

Wiki - FM Broadcasting in the UK

The Ten Myths of DAB

It's a very nice radio, which has held it's price exceptionally well over the last 30 odd years. It is a collectors item as well as a functional piece of kit. I would hang on to it for the time being. I don't really have anything to swap it for anyway. The prices commanded for the beast would certainly pay your coal bill for some time! Can you remember what you paid for it back in the 80's?
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 14 Apr 2013, 05:07

I think it was about £300 at Plunkett's in Barrowford.
Right, I have another offer for you. Advise me about a new bedside radio (with snooze!). can DABS work in Barlick now. I'll get it and you sell the Sony for me, you're used to Ebay. You take a good commission on the sale, at least 25%? That means we both get something out of it. Come to think, there are some other similar items that need to go as well. Nice little earner for you and don't tell me to do it myself, things like selling on Ebay are not nice experiences for me.... Call in and have a word?
Bottom line is that I want to pay someone to deal with Ebay for me.....
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Big Kev » 14 Apr 2013, 07:19

[quote="Stanley"]can DABS work in Barlick now.[quote]

I have a fairly strong DAB signal where I am (external di-pole aerial) but I think a lot of Barlick is very limited.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 14 Apr 2013, 09:10

No problem with that Stanley I will call round some time and give you a run down on the selling options. As you know I have raised a bob or two for my station over the last few months. Last day on one of my items today. It's at £27.50 with 8 hours to go awith 56 watchers, it has 19 bids and I'm already in profit.

With regard to DAB in Barlick. I know Kev has a roof mounted antenna. I get absolutely nothing on the wire antenna on my Sony Micro Hi-Fi System. I'm at a reasonable height as well on the Croft. I'm not that bothered really along with the vast majority of people at the moment, I'm quite happy with FM.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 14 Apr 2013, 10:06

Just done a quick Google for Sony bedside radio and came up with this:

Sony XDR-C706DBP

Something like this may fit the bill, looks like it has the best of both worlds with both DAB and FM, no AM tuner but that's not very important. Variable snooze etc.. Problem is it shows as out of stock at the moment. Might be worth giving Garlicks a ring though.

Roberts do a decent range as well if you want the same as the Queen! Not sure how much you are paying for the name though. Options with FM and DAB tuners here as well.

Robert Clock Radio's

Loads of other choices for bedside radios, the good the bad and the ugly at all price ranges. Mine is cheap Chinese job with a name I have never heard of and I have to turn it face down as the large blue LCD display lights the room up like broad daylight. It wakes me up with FM radio though and does the job.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 15 Apr 2013, 04:27

Splendid! I shall attack the new bedside radio immediately and gather the stock together. It will be a load off my mind and you will get a good slice of the action for doing the work!
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 15 Apr 2013, 09:55

Ian. I've found the Sony you suggested and ordered it. Let me know when we need a gather together.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 15 Apr 2013, 13:00

Once you have taken delivery and have your replacement sorted I'll pop in for a chat. Can you make a bit of a list of the stuff you are looking to sell? Put on any reserve or minimum price you will let the stuff go for. I will explain the Ebay listing options and a brief rundown when I call round. It will have to be some afternoon (not Tue or Wed) but we can sort that when you have your new Sony.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 16 Apr 2013, 04:44

The Sony is promised for Wednesday. We'll do the list when you see the stuff in front of you.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Tripps » 16 Apr 2013, 11:38

"no AM tuner but that's not very important."

All I listen to on radio is on AM medium and long wave, (BBC R4 and R5, and RTE on 252 kHz), especially in the car.
I think it will be kept going for a long time yet since it is the best method to contact nearly everyone in the country from (mainly) one source, in a national emergency. My view on this predates 'social media' so perhaps is out dated.

Wasn't it said a while ago that Captains of Trident equipped subs used the absence of the Today programme on Long Wave as a measure of whether the UK was still in existence after a nuclear attack.
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 17 Apr 2013, 04:34

All I want to do is drift off to sleep with clean R4 in my ears...... Who knows, the DAB transmission might work! One thing is certain, when DAB is improved I shall know about it.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 18 Apr 2013, 05:31

Sony radio arrived. I am an old fart and can remember the days when you bought a wireless, plugged it in, selected a station and away you went. Those days have gone!
I plugged it in in the kitchen, found that there was no DAB signal and so went onto FM, found 94.1 and had R$. So far so good. Now to set the clock. After about ten minutes I was getting frustrated because the instructions weren't working. Just then Laura turned up, an 18 year old technocrat. Of Goody! So I gave her the job, she did no better than me and gave up saying there was something wrong with it.
Later, after she had gone I took the set upstairs and just on the off chance held it up and pressed the DAB button. I got a signal, it scanned the stations and automatically set the time and date! Great! Now what I want to know is what is the best way to extend the aerial to the zone where I got a signal, just add some more wire?
Ready when you are Ian with the two items for Ebay..... Call me any morning before 10am.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 18 Apr 2013, 08:41

I think the radio will probably have a wire antenna matched for the FM broadcast band as that's the lowest frequency it has to operate on. The antenna length is matched to the band it has to receive on so you should not alter this. Shows how fickle the signal is in Barlick, I get nothing on my wire up on the Croft, mind you my DAB receiver is not really portable as it's in the Hi-Fi. You get something but you are lower down and effectively tucked further under Kelbrook moor than I am which is the direction the signal is coming from. Your normal FM signal is only coming from the mast at Nutter Cote, so that may be your best bet for the bedside until (if) DAB arrives on a transmitter a bit closer to home.
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by Stanley » 19 Apr 2013, 04:43

Thanks for that Ian. I shall leave it how it is and only seek the DAB signal when I want to set the clock! Ready for you whenever you are.....
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Re: Radio Station Rebuild

Post by PanBiker » 19 Apr 2013, 08:13

I'm working while 1.00pm today so can call about 2.00pm. I'll give yo a ring before I go to work.
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