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New toy…

…arrived very quickly from Mouser… but no time to play right now!

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More rattling about…

Well I fiddled with the teleprinter some more, wondering if I could at least get it to print with just 30-0-30VDC – it needs 80-0-80. Nothing. I tried connecting directly to the relevant pins for the receiving relay but could not feel any resistance when this was applied. Odd, because I could measure its resistance with a multimeter, so what’s up.

Strangely the next time I tried I could no longer measure the resistance. Might have been me. Then it occurred to me that on the 444 everything comes out on the 50-way D connector and you can get directly at the receiver coil, and I can see the relevant ohms. So, re-wiring the lash-up and still with 30-0-30V and with a resistor in series just in case and it burst into life. Almost.

It did print, or rather tried. It got most of the letters wrong, but is at least trying. Most likely the voltage is just not quite enough, or my lash-up resistor is denying it sufficient current but I’d rather not risk the coil right now.

However, and more of a concern was that although it went through the motions, the carriage did not move. It was stuck fast and no amount of fiddling would move it. After pouring over the workshop manual there seemed to be a lever in the wrong position. Moving this freed it up and it does now move with keypresses, even though the letters are wrong.

This lever was in the wrong place and could not move. Freeing it fixed the non-moving carriage issue.

Nearly there then… the ribbon is not rotating but there is at least one broken spring so hopefully that’s an easy fix. All I need now is a proper TU.

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Good old days…

So I now have a Creed 444 teleprinter. I’ve been after a teleprinter for about 2 years now. When I was still at school I used to buy, strip, repair and sell Creed 7E’s – maybe 7 or 8 passed through my hands and on to others for pocket money. Back then I had two 7Es for myself, as well as a tape reader, tape punch and a valved TU hanging off a B40 / B41 setup. Weight was not an issue in my basement workshop… But I’ve never had one of the more modern units like the 444 (yes, modern is a relative term here!)

Having manhandled the beast from the car to the workshop I now need to learn how it is put together so I can be sure it’s not going to fly into bits when I power it up. However, hopefully I’ll get it running and then get an interface set up. I doubt it will be allowed in the shack (aka the little bedroom) so it may well have to run in the workshop – but that does give the excuse to acquire a nice old comms receiver to go with…

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D-Star registration blues

So I got an Icom ID-51 so I will have DMR, C4FM and D-Star. Well why not… it’s currently on its initial charge for 2 more hours or so. I though that a good time to read the manual and sort out registration. So far, not so good.

DMR was simple. I can’t remember what I did for C4FM but it all works. D-Star? I followed the guidance and looked for the nearest repeater in the list. But the nearest one in that list is now C4FM. Ok, next nearest. That has a registration URL which takes me to an information page on which there is no sign of anywhere to go to register. Right. Next nearest – and no way I could contact it from here – has a broken registration URL.

So I started at the top of the list. I gave up after 15 – most had no registration URL, the rest had broken links or had apparently gone over to DMR. I picked a few others at random, all follow the same tale.

Off to Icom UK via Google – it has a link to a registration form but it does not actually work, i.e. you end up back on the page with the link. Google finds an old form – I guess it’s old anyway and I’ve no intention of putting my details into it. But at least the Icom page has an email option… and that worked fine and I am set to go! Well, I will be once I read up about how etc.

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RFI

Oh so now I’m giving myself RFI. I pinched a pair of powered speakers from one of the domestic PCs yesterday and wired them to the mixer. One speaker is powered from a USB adapter and it is then wired to the mixer via a 3.5mm stereo jack and to the other speaker. No idea if the wires are screened. There is an amp in the powered unit.

The YT-1200 upsets the speakers when it is operating, most so on 20m (which is the closest match for the loft antenna). But only the non-powered speaker is affected. A truckload of ferrite on the cable between the speakers has quietened it down for normal operation but it is still upset when tuning. The wire is currently wrapped multiple times through two decent ferrites, so much so that the speakers are now next to each other! Hmmm. Looks like I need to take these things apart to see what the cables are actually like.

 

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Sorting the audio out

I’ve whinged before that my ears are naff. I often use headphones to help but now with so many radios it’s a pain, especially when the relevant socket is on the rear of the rig.

Ages back I set up a mini-recording studio to help the kids with their music lessons and practice. Guess what, I have a mixer as part of this and yet left it sat on a shelf forgotten! No prizes for guessing where it is now.

So, I can now mix in all the radios and the PC / SDR and output to headphones or speakers or both. It has two channels so I can play one radio through one speaker and another through the other which is useful. The same goes with output to the headphones but this is less useful because my hearing is so far down on one side that I play everything through my ‘better’ ear. But it gives a lot of flexibility.

One thing I am toying with getting is a decent audio processor. I had a Datong unit which I sold on but that was before the current DSP offerings. Again, the mixer will be useful because it has an FX channel, meaning I could send audio from one rig out through a DSP processor and back into the mixer all without having to fiddle with plugs.

Now if I could just tidy up all the wires…

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New toy

I got myself a combined birthday and Christmas present – actually the first radio I’ve ever purchased new apart from the handhelds – a Yaesu FTM100DE. Not set it up yet, and I’ve still got to run some WF103 down to connect up the 2m/70cm co-linear which is sitting in the loft waiting. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, this means I finally have a C4FM radio (one of the the local repeaters speaks it) and this time I have a Yaesu box with a radio inside, unlike the empty box that scammer Steve 2E0STI sent me a while ago.

Now, where can I install it where it won’t be noticed… hmmm.

 

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Bad timing

No, I’m not taking about clock synchronisation issues and digital modes in WSJT-X, though it has to be said that my PC clock is regularly synchronised via NTP and time.is always says it is ‘exact’ with some very small fraction of a second deviation.

Bad timing in my case is the number of times I manage to find a good bit of DX, usually FT8 as I am concentrating on this right now, only to make contact but not complete because the band dies off from underneath my poor little bit of wet string in the loft. I had a US contact last night who gave up after 6 valiant attempts to exchange signal strengths. Oh well.

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More bits of wet string…

…well actually aluminium. I finally cut down an old ‘fm’ radio dipole to 2m and quietly ran yet another run of WF103 into the loft. So the Trio TR-9130 I got a few weeks ago finally has an aerial. SWR is not bad at 1.2 or so on the VNA. It’s mounted horizontally as I got the transceiver in the hope of one day finding some 2m SSB… well it’s been 3 hours, nothing yet! Impatient!

Anyway it worked fine for the local RSGB News this morning, and to hear someone asking if 145.5 was in use but with no callsign…

This also means I finally have a use for the KW520 SWR/power meter. However, it would not register any power on the 20W setting on the 140-525MHz range but did on the 1.8-200MHz range (both of course cover 2m). I took the lid off, discovered it would be rather difficult to get at the switches to check them so put it back together. Of course it now works fine. Perhaps the initial swearing at it actually worked.

The Trio causes some QRM on the speakers of one of our PCs – actually in the room below the dipole. But as I cured our mains-bourne QRM in general I feel I’m still winning.

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QRM

It’s amazing what a single wall-wart can do. I have some X10 controllers around the place controlling the outside lights and the dimmers in our family room. For ages now, one outside light refused to co-operate. I changed my scripts to fire several on or off commands to this light which worked for a time but then nothing. All the other lights seemed ok.

Then the family room lights would either come on or go off at random, but only occasionally. I went round the house with the ICR2 on MW and open squelch and there was a hash coming from one indoor camera but not the other. It also came out of many of the 13A sockets around the house. By now I was convinced I’d have multiple noise sources, potentially all of our wall-warts.

Anyway, it got to the stage that the X10 controller running from the house server could no longer reliably control any lights so I got another controller and ran that from the radio PC upstairs. That, at least got most lights back to normal operation, all except the one that had seemingly given up completely.

I finally made time to investigate more properly and began by unplugging the noisy cameral. Silence! All hash gone. Ok. Took the wall-wart out to the workshop and plugged it in. Instant hash, on or off load. I replaced it with another and although that camera still makes a hash on the ICR2 when close by there is nothing anywhere else in the house. And the X10 lights all work, controlled once more by the server, including that apparently uncooperative outside light.

I dismantled the offending wall-wart. It has the relevant filtering components so I assume one or more of them have gone duff over time.

Now, if I can just get rid of the ticking noises from the CAT5 cabling…