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.
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.
The PCB in my board holder with the first few resistors installed.
Here is my soldering station (purchased on eBay) and my multimeter. Those are the only tools I needed to assemble the kit.
Here is a shot of the back of the board prior to soldering the components and clipping the leads.
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.
The microprocessor and LCD screen installed. I forgot to take pictures of the processor and it’s socket.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wow it has been a while since I’ve posted anything. I guess it’s time for a bit of an update.
The most important thing is that I got my TS-570 fixed! Thanks to a local ham who figured out there was a problem with some of the solder joints on the main board. After trying to figure it out for a few days, he noticed that pressing at a certain spot on the board would reliably reproduce the issue. He then went ahead and re-flowed a the solder joints on a good chunk of the board. The radio now works better than ever.
I also picked up two towers this summer, a 45ft aluminum and a 30ft self standing. Neither one of them is up yet but I am hoping to get to it early in the spring when the ground thaws. I hope to get a good VHF/UHF antenna on the self standing and maybe a hex beam or a Yagi for HF on the 45 footer. We will see how it goes.
Another new endeavor for me is taking over admin duties on Repeaterbook.com for Nova Scotia. It’s pretty fun to be a part of this and I’ve learned a lot about the repeaters. There’s a fair bit of research involved to get things updated. If you know of a repeater that needs updating feel free to use the update feature on the website or use the contact form here to let me know.
I’ve been working on a few other odds and ends as well. I have a Yaesu DR-1x repeater with the matching HRI-200 Wires-X node that I intended on getting set up for the club. I have a DX Engineering log periodic (VHF/UHF) antenna that I need to replace a couple elements on. I also have some other non ham projects I am working on.
Below is my latest video on YouTube. It’s showing some nasty noise I have on 80 and 40m. I’ve already shut the power off in the entire house and shack just to find out that it wasn’t anything in either of those places causing it. I guess I’ll have to get out the AM receiver and take a trip up and down the road.
That is all for now. 73s and I hope everyone had a great Christmas!
I recently posted this to YouTube. My TS-570S has been having a couple of issues.
The first is an issue with receive audio dropping down very low a few seconds after turning the radio on. I am told (by a local ham who repairs most of our gear) that this is usually caused by bad solder joints on the SSB filters. Often times removing the filters, cleaning things up a bit, and then re-soldering them back in place does the trick.
The second issue is the DOTS issue. I am told this is somewhat common and that it’s due to the VCO not being able to lock on frequency. It seems that there’s a pot on the PLL circuit that can be adjusted to set the correct voltage so that the VCO locks correctly.
I’m not an expert in radio repair, by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I might be able to do both of these myself. I’ll post an update once I get a chance to attempt the repairs.
I’ve come to the realization that it is much more interesting to practice CW by listening to real live stations. Lately I have been tuning around the bands to find a QSO or station that is transmitting somewhere near what I think I can copy. Often times I am not able to copy very much but ever once and a while I realize that I have written down a small word (or two) and maybe even a callsign or name.
Tonight while surfing 40m, I came across W1AW’s slow code practice session. This was great. I was actually able to copy multiple sentences. It was much more fun than using a practice application that spits out random strings.
If you are interested, I’ve posted the current W1AW operating schedule. You can find the original (and updates) on the ARRL website.
Now that 2015 has come to a close and we have a whole new year ahead of us, I’ve decided to set some ham radio goals for the year. I am probably being overly ambitious but if I can get few items checked off I will be happy.
Here are the goals I have set for 2016. They aren’t in any particular order.
Continue practicing CW on a daily basis
Make my first CW contact by mid February
Make lots of HF contacts (CW, SSB, Digital)
Study for, and achieve Advanced Certification
Acquire a new tower, hf beam, rotor (and get them installed)
Purchase and install new Yaesu System Fusion compatible radio (our club now has three YSF repeaters)
Purchase and build a kit radio of some sort
Become more involved in the technical side of our radio club operations
What are your ham radio goals for 2016? Feel free to comment and let me know. I will also post updates throughout the year when I manage to accomplish some of these.
Back when I first got licensed (Canadian Basic) you only had privileges on bands above 30 MHz. If you wanted to get on HF you had to learn and pass a Morse Code test. There were actually two tests, one at 5 wpm and a one at 12 wpm. I was able to successfully pass the 5 wpm test, and if I recall correctly it allowed access to some HF bands but not all. Unfortunately I never did master the 12 wpm test. I have now decided that it’s high time to get back into it and re-learn Morse Code.
One might wonder why I would do such a thing in this day and age. First off, it’s becoming somewhat of a lost art. Most of the younger hams that I know have zero interest in Morse Code / CW and the older guys are slowly and surely becoming silent keys. I like the thought of taking the hobby back to it’s roots. Have you ever listened to the lower edge of any band when it seems dead? If not, you should take a trip down. You’ll be surprised at what you can hear on CW when phone seems to be completely silent. That is the second, and main, reason why I want to re-learn code.
In my search for tools to help me re-learn Morse Code, I stumbled upon a piece of software called Just Learn Morse Code by LB3KB. The latest version is 1.23 and was released back in 2006. However, it still works very well. I am currently running it on two different Windows 10 machines without issue. It uses both Koch’s method and Farnsworth timing to teach and it is very flexible. You can choose random characters (your choice of how many), you can load text files to practice from, it will teach you basic words, and you can also have it spit out Q codes and common abbreviations used in real QSOs.
Another great feature of this program is that you can show the output in real time or you can hide it so that you don’t cheat. You can also type the characters as they are being sent so and the program will score you on what you copied. Of course, you can also adjust the WPM speed and character speed if you so wish.
I am not affiliated with LB3KB or have anything to do with the software, other than being a user. I just wanted to say thanks for the great application. I’ve included some screenshots below to give you a peek at what the software looks like. I will post again later on once I make some more progress. I am currently copying fairly well, albeit at very low speeds, but I hope that should improve with lots more practice.
The splash screen
The basic interface. Output at the top. Input (your copy) at the bottom. Click the characters on the right and see what happens.
Example of the session results
The menu where you can configure the source of the code the program will send.