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Messages - Dave Richards

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Part 15 AM and FM Station Operation / Re: Part 15 AM and FM
« on: July 24, 2020, 1936 UTC »
I do recommend the Schlockwood, which can be both loud and pleasant sounding.

+1 for the SW200. I've been using one with my Rangemaster continuously for over 2 years now, and it has performed flawlessly. Although the front panel controls might seem a little daunting to someone who hasn't used this type of broadcast processor before, it's pretty hard to get a bad sound from this unit - as long as you don't overmodulate the transmitter, of course.

I only had one concern when the SW200 was coming onto the market. Although, IMO, it's a good deal for genuine multi-band broadcast processing, Part 15 hobbyists tend to be budget limited. I was happy the initial production run sold out, and that sales were enough to justify a second run. I do hope the SW200 will remain on the market for quite a while. However, I am never going to give up mine, as I feel it's a classic. Same goes for my Rangemaster, and even my Behringer Eurocom SPL3220 which, for ~$100, delivers a very listenable sound. Other pieces of gear may come and go, but these ones will stay with me. If I sold them, I'd just end up trying to get them back at some point - and there are very few SW200's on the used market, as there are not that many in existence to begin with.

Great piece of kit. Buy one, and hang onto it!

Glad you were able to improve the bass response somewhat Chris. I suppose that, given the original intended purpose of these units, we shouldn't be expecting too much in the way of quality audio from them. I have never used one, but picking up a used TH seems like it might be a good way to dabble in Part 15 without breaking the bank. I nearly fell off my chair when I first discovered the price of a Rangemaster!

I was sad to see SSTRAN stop selling their AMT3000 transmitter kit. To my mind, it was a great option for someone wanting to get their feet wet in Part 15, or for anyone not wanting to spend the kind of money that a Procaster or Rangemaster cost. Although the onboard audio processing was a simple one-band affair, it actually did a pretty good job on most audio signals. All this for a little more than $100. The closest thing to one of these that is still available, is the fully-built Spitfire, out of the UK, for about the same price as the SSTRAN. The Spitfire doesn't have onboard processing, though that would free you up to provide your own, if you want something a little more sophisticated than the single-chip solution provided by SSTRAN and Procaster. (The Procaster uses the same chip as the SSTRAN did).

I'm tempted to buy one of these Spitfires, just to have it. I regret ever selling my AMT3000, and wouldn't mind having a Spitfire on hand. I just know that if I don't buy one, one day, I'll wish I had.  However, my other hobby pursuits are currently taking up all my spare cash.


HF Beacons / Re: The new "L" Beacon
« on: May 15, 2020, 2247 UTC »
L beacon coming through weak but Q5, at about the level of the S2 band noise, on the KFS SDR in Half Moon Bay, at 2240z.

It would be great if we could get some information on this beacon - power, approximate location, and any other details.

Both the beacons you reference are mentioned in this Wikipedia entry, and are referred to as cluster beacons -


22 Meter Band Beacons / Re: WSPR on 22 Meters?
« on: May 13, 2020, 0750 UTC »
The Ultimate 3S kit from QRP Labs will do the HiFer band, if you use the LPF kit for 20M. As for the output power, the Si5351 puts out about 10mW. Looking at the schematic for the U3S, you should be able to omit the BS170 PA and take an output directly from the Si5351 output to the LPF. An attenuating pad could get you down to HiFer power level. Alternatively, if you use just one BS170 transistor in the PA, I'm wondering if you can adjust the bias pot R5 enough to get down to HiFer power.

Here's the link to all the info on the U3S kit -


I built one a while back, for the ham bands, and it's a great little kit. WSPR would be a good way to go on the 22M band, as legal power is so limited. I wonder if anyone has tried having a 2-way QSO on 22M, using one of the new-fangled digital modes?

HF Beacons / Re: Windy 4102.85 malfunction?
« on: May 12, 2020, 2234 UTC »
I haven't been able to hear Windy on either the KFS SDR, or the Kiwi SDR in Pahrump, NV. I can usually hear it in the daytime on both of those. Glad to hear it is still alive and kicking.

Yes, I can hear a single L being sent on about 4096.1 on the KFS SDR at about 2200 utc, buried underneath what sounds like a relatively continuous tone. 4096 is a commonly used crystal frequency, so I suppose it's not surprising to hear a signal there. The L is sent about once every 7 seconds, and at a rough guess, I'd say the speed is about 6 - 7 wpm.

The eBay kit referred to in the original post on this thread has been out of stock for a while now. I messaged the seller to ask if he will be selling it again. He replied that the airlines in his country (Thailand) are not operating because of the COVID-19 situation and, therefore, he cannot sell his products.

Hopefully, it will be back in stock at some point in the future.

Chris - If you ever get to the point where you're looking for ideas of features to add, let us know. Although the software I use does have a random shuffle feature, I use a separate program to create the playlists, and then load them into my playout program.

What type of automation software do you use on your Part 15 station?  I know that some folk use applications like WinAmp and iTunes to act as a basic player. For operators who want more advanced functionality, the sky's the limit if you're prepared to pay. However, for us hobbyists, who tend to have fairly strict budgets, there are some free options -

1) Rivendell is open source radio automation software for Linux. I have not used it but, at the forum I used to frequent, there was a broadcast professional who loves it. I understand that it has a lot of
    functionality that should satisfy many experienced broadcast types. You can find it at http://www.rivendellaudio.org/

2) Zara Radio is a Windows-based radio automation software. This is the one I use. I'm not sure if the paid version is still available, but the free one is. The free one has not been updated
    in quite a few years, but I am running it on an early version of Windows 10 with no issues at all. My automation laptop used to be connected to the internet. It received regular Windows
    updates, but this was creating problems. The need to reboot the computer was a big one, and not desirable on a machine that I wanted to run continuously, 24/7. Then, there was an update
    that was causing Zara to become choppy and unreliable. I disconnected the laptop from the internet, and rolled the OS back to an earlier version. That was something like 2 years ago, and it
    has been running continuously, completely smoothly, with no issues.

    Zara has some great features. It can automatically announce the time, which I set mine to do at the top of the hour, along with the top of the hour station announcement and ID. It provides for
    some great ways to automate your programming. Sound bites, promos, PSA, commercials, or any other programming elements, can be placed into a folder. Then, at set times, Zara will look in
    that folder and play one file in it. It can select them randomly, or play them in strict rotation. Also, if you have a number of audio files that need to always play in the same sequence, you can
    create a sequence file, with the file extension .seq, and schedule that to play in Zara. For instance, every Sunday at 5pm, my station airs an episode of a big band show called "Fred Hall's Swing
    Thing". There is a pre-produced show opener, then the episode itself, then a pre-produced show closer, which promotes the time the next episode will air. These 3 programming elements are
    saved as a sequence file. One of the elements in that sequence file is another type of file - a rotation file, with the file extension .rot. This is for the specific episode of the show. It's an old
    show, for which new episodes stopped being created long ago. I have all available episodes (1,002 of them) in a folder. Zara plays the episodes in strict rotation - one every week. With 1,002
    episodes, it will be many years before they start repeating.

    The above are just some examples of how well suited Zara is to radio broadcasters. It's a lot of useful functionality for free. The free version is available at http://www.zarastudio.es/download.php

How do you schedule your songs and other audio files for broadcast? Simple solutions are fine. I've spent way too much time on this over the last few years, and do appreciate that it's not as much of a pre-occupation for others. All answers are valid. I'm keen to know what you do.

I think I just heard Phallaxy, on about 4095.9 on the KFS SDR, at 0100utc (6pm PDT). It was a little above the noise, with an S3 signal. Carrier on for about 4 secs, and off for about 3 seconds. Does this sound like Phallaxy?

It was one of the beacons in the 4096 cluster that initially sparked my interest in these magical little voices out in the desert. About 11 years ago, in my ground floor apartment in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, I was surprised to find that one of the 4096 beacons was coming through very well to an indoor antenna on my FT-817. Had it not been for the internet, it might have taken me a long time to discover what I was actually hearing. I forget the exact frequency, and which one I was hearing.

I'm too chicken to put an unlicensed beacon on the air myself so instead, I experimented with Part 15 beacons. Part 15 is, of course, also unlicensed but, well, you understand the distinction.....;D Nevertheless, I'm happy these signals are on the air. I'll keep listening out for Phalaxxy on the KPH (currently offline) and KPS SDR's. I'll also be listening for the groundwave when in the area with my campervan, hopefully next year.

Note - regarding the KPH SDR's, a message on radiomarine.rog reads,
"NOTE: The SDRs are temporarily off line due to a failure of the Internet connection at the KPH receive site.  Due to the park closure we are unable access the site to diagnose and repair the failure."

HF Beacons / Re: Windy 4102.85 malfunction?
« on: May 03, 2020, 2258 UTC »
Just peeking above the noise at about an S2 into the KFS SDR in Half Moon Bay, CA at 2256 utc (3:56pm PDT).
97 degrees and 12.3V.

Coming through clearly, and peaking an S2-S3 with slow QSB on the KFS Kiwi SDR in Half Moon Bay, CA at 2250 utc (3:50pm PDT)
Thanks for the photos!

They have a GoFundMe to finance this project which, so far, has raised $100 towards a $20,000 goal.

I don't know. I'm not holding my breath.

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