A sad day for Hams (and Durham Radio) in Canada

After 25 years in business, Durham Radio has closed its doors permanently.

We regret to inform you that Durham Radio Sales & Service Inc. after nearly a 25 years in the industry – closed its doors forever at 3:00 PM on Saturday, April 14th. We would like to thank our dedicated staff, loyal customers and friends for your continued support and for many great years in this hobby. Unfortunately, times have changed and it has become impossible to remain competitive in this industry without making drastic changes to our business model. We have decided that it would be better to close the business rather than change the products we carry and reduce customer service.

Website

I have to admit that I was not a big customer of theirs. I had ordered a few small items in the past and their customer service was always great and professional. It’s sad to see an amateur radio business shut it’s doors. I want to wish everyone over there all the best in any future endeavors they may embark on.

73 de VE1XT

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2018 Update

Hello All!

It has been a long time since I have posted anything here. I guess when life gets in the way, the blog is one of the first things to suffer.

I started a new job back in August and that has taken a lot of my time and energy. Luckily the work is basically the same as I was doing before, just with a new company, so it was really easy to get settled in. This new gig has been awesome so far and they are a great group to work for. I never really knew how much I missed going in to an office as well as working for a small / lean outfit. I’ve had the chance to do a few new things as well as take part in some project work which I had not been able to do at the previous place.

On the radio side, I have been relatively busy with the local club (YARC) as I am now the club President / Chairman. Back in October, the previous president decided not to re-offer and it did not look like anyone else was really interested so I threw my name in and gave it a shot. So far it was been a fun learning experience.

I’ve also been working on one of the club’s Yaesu DR-1X repeaters and the associated HRI-200 to get it connected to Wires-X. Unfortunately, after a few months of troubleshooting and trying various things, we have determined that the HRI-200 is dead and we need a new one. I am hoping to get that sorted out sooner rather than later and get this project squared away. After that, we have a few other club projects on the horizon.

On a personal level, I have recently been battling some health issues. I am hoping we are on the way to figuring them out. Unfortunately, due to their nature, it makes work (and computing in general) relatively difficult and painful. I am keeping my hopes up that this is just temporary and will soon be resolved. There’s no point in dwelling on the negative as it does not help anything!

That pretty much sums things up from the last few months! I hope everyone has had a great start to 2018 and I hope to be posting again relatively soon!

73 de VE1XT

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I built a form for the concrete base for my new tower

Last summer I purchased a 48ft aluminium tower and an antenna rotor. This year I purchased a tri-band yagi to put on top of it. Between work, kids, life, and perpetual procrastination, I haven’t been able to get my prep work done. This past weekend, I finally got the chance to start by putting together the form for the concrete base I will be pouring. Form for concrete base

 

73 for now!
VE1XT

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Log4OM Video Demonstration #4 – Setting up Alerts

For some reason I completely forgot to post about my latest video on Log4OM. This time I take a look at the set up and configuration of the alerts and notifications.

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Log4OM Video Demonstration 3.5 – Rig Control using OmniRig

Hello All!

I received a comment on my previous video (where I used Hamlib for rig control) by G4POP. He indicated that I would be able to get a view of VFO B in the application if I used OmniRig instead. I decided to give it a try. I found, not only that the second VFO was where, but the response time to and from the rig when issuing commands was much faster.

Here is the video demo I put together about it.

73 de VE1XT

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Log4OM Video Demonstration 3 – Configuring Rig Control and CAT

It is once again time for another Log4OM video! In this third installment of the series, I take a look at setting up Right Control / CAT using the Hamlib library and my TS-570. I go through the configuration and demonstrate how it works.

I posted the video last night and have already received some feedback from G4POP (Terry Genes) who is one of the Log4OM team members. He indicated that I would be able to get more features (and faster response time) by using the Omnirig library instead of Hamlib. I am going to play around with this and probably record an additional video about it. Stay tuned for that.

For now, here is the latest video. Enjoy!

73 de VE1XT

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M8 Transistor Tester Kit

One of the fun things about our great hobby is that we get to tinker with all sorts of gadgets. Over the past couple of years I’ve purchased a few cheap device kits from eBay, Amazon, AliExpress, etc. These gadgets are perfect for people, like me, who are only just getting into electronics and learning how things work. The best part is that these kits are very cheap so if you damage it you are not out a lot of money.

I’ve bought, and put together, various kits. Some examples are: An oscilloscope, a sound meter with LEDs to indicate the level, an audio amplifier, and a few more. My two favorites so far have been the $20 oscilloscope and the $12 transistor tester.

Most of these kits are fairly well made but certainly not as high quality as something you would get from one of the traditional manufacturers. However, they are great for learning. Today’s post is focused on the M8 Transistor tester that I recently built. You will find some links below to Amazon and eBay where you can buy this kit.

M8 Transistor Tester

The PCB in my board holder with the first few resistors installed.

 

M8 Transistor Tester

Here is my soldering station (purchased on eBay) and my multimeter. Those are the only tools I needed to assemble the kit.

 

M8 Transistor Tester

Here is a shot of the back of the board prior to soldering the components and clipping the leads.

 

M8 Transistor Tester

Here you can see that a few more components have been installed. The board was clearly marked except for some of the polarized caps that I had to dig around a bit to figure out.

 

M8 Transistor Tester

The microprocessor and LCD screen installed. I forgot to take pictures of the processor and it’s socket.

 

M8 Transistor Tester

After hooking up a 9v battery the unit powers on and needs to be calibrated. The process is pretty quick and once it’s done you generally do not need to do it again. The manual explains this short process.

 

M8 Transistor Tester

Testing a 3.3 nF cap. The cap is an old one that I had kicking around but the tester seems to measure relatively accurately.

 

Overall the process only took me about an hour to complete. However, I did assemble it in various steps when time permitted.

Here are some other comments / details about the unit:

  • You can power it with a power supply ranging anywhere from 5.5 to 12V as long as it is center pin positive but the 9V battery is handy for portability.
  • The manual is written in very poor English. You can also get it here (M8_Instructions). I had a real hard time getting it from the vendor I bought it from as their dropbox link would never work.
  • Make sure to calibrate the unit properly, as per the manual. If this is not done correctly you will not get the correct readings.
  • This tester works on much more than transistors. It will do capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, and more.
  • The microprocessor used is an Atmel ATmega328. This means that you can most likely reprogram it if you have the skills.
  • There are no extra components shipped with this so if you do receive a defective one, you may need to source a new part as it will probably be more of a hassle to get it from the vendor than getting it on your own.
  • As with most of these low cost kits, there is no case that comes with it.

I hope you enjoyed this short review of the M8 Transistor Tester. If you are interested in buying one feel free to click one of the links below. To be fully transparent, the links are through my Amazon and eBay affiliate accounts so if you would rather not use them you can go directly to the site and search. If you do use one (or more of my links) I thank you very much.

Amazon Canada (search) – Search for M8 tester

Amazon Canada (Assembled) – SODIAL(R) M8 Transistor Tester Diode Triode Capacitance ESR LC Meter MOS/PNP/NPN Soldered

Amazon US (search) – Search for M8 Transistor Tester

Amazon US (Assembled) – SODIAL(R) M8 Transistor Tester Diode Triode Capacitance ESR LC Meter MOS/PNP/NPN Soldered

Amazon US (Kit) – M8 transistor tester

eBay (Kit) – M8 Transistor Tester ESR Meter LC Meter Diode Triode Capacitance DIY Kit

 

73 de VE1XT!

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March 2017 Update

Hi Everyone!

I hope 2017 is shaping up to be as good as you had hoped! This are going relatively well here except that I have run into some issues with my back within the past two weeks. I have a couple of discs that are herniated and are causing sciatic nerve pain. This is extremely painful. I have seen my doc and have started going to physiotherapy so I hope be to back in decent shape within the next few weeks.

With that said, I have not been able to devote much time to making any new videos or doing much of anything ham related lately. I suspect that will remain much the same until my back heals. The one thing that my back has not stopped me from doing is thinking of new ideas for projects and videos. In fact, I may be making a lot of work for myself.

I’ve very much enjoyed making the first two Log4OM videos and I have some ideas for more to continue the series. I like making these videos because I very much enjoy the program. These videos also help me learn more about how it works and some of the more obscure features.

I have also been interested in doing more with my RTL SDR dongle. I had started playing with a few different software applications (HDSDR, SDR Console, SDR#) prior to my back injury. So once I get back into shape I may make a couple of videos demonstrating some of the things you can do with the dongles.

Apart from the video work I have been doing, I have a few other projects that I have been working on:

  • Our radio club has three Yaesu DR-1X repeaters and I have been working with Yaesu to figure out the logistics of getting the 1.10Q firmware on a model that only supports the 1.oo versions (1.00n is the latest). Due to the complexity of this firmware update, we will likely need to send the unit back to Yaesu to have it done as it is not a process they are willing to release to the public. I also found this same response from another operator on one of the System Fusion email reflectors.
  • Along with a couple other operators, I have been looking into potentially doing a local lighthouse activation in May. That is if everything can be lined up and we can get permission to do so.
  • It is getting close to time for me to start planning the placement and work needed to get my two new towers in the air. This past year I acquired a 45 ft aluminium tower as well as a 3o ft self standing tower.
  • I also have two small kits I want to put together. One is a 40 m CW / crystal transceiver, the other is a component tester (mainly a transistor tester).
  • I will use this line to sum up the other 20,000 little things I want (and maybe need) to get done.

That is it for now. If you have any software or topics that you think would make a good video, please let me know and I will check it out.

73 for now!
VE1XT

 

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Log4OM Demonstration 2 – Setting up real-time log generation

I have posted a second YouTube video in my Log4OM series. This time I take a look at how you set up real-time log generation (webpage) and get it uploaded to your website via the built-in FTP client.

73 for now!

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Log4OM Video Demonstration

Hello Everyone! Happy 2017!

I wanted to post and let you know that I have recently uploaded a video of the logging program that I have been using for quite some time. The name of the program is Log4OM. It is feature packed and is completely free to download and use.

Check out the video below!

If you want to check it out for yourself, you can get it here.

73 for now!
VE1XT

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