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K0JTA USA flag USA

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"Quick links"  (-As requested)

LIVESTREAM (not always on) is: http://www.livestream.com/k0jta

My WEB SITE is: http://s3com.net/

My repeater ECHOLINK node number is 9636.  (Please always use the Echolink test node to see if your Echolink program is set up correctly!  The Echolink TEST NODE is node number 9999!)


Version 2 of my piHPSDR project

My newest project will allow me to operate my ANAN-100 software-defined-radio (SDR) without the need of running a full-sized computer.  The "piHPSDR" is a unit that uses a Raspberry PI as the computer that allows control of an Apache Labs ANAN radio.  

This system takes place of the full-sized computer; -It is not only small, but is very quick to boot up, etc.  The unit's main function is to run the piHPSDR app, as shown.  The Raspberry PI computer will also function as a computer, which it is(Web browsing, email, etc., etc.!)

This is my SECOND version of John Melton's SUPER-FINE piHPSDR design.  This is my verson 2; Version 1 has now been sold.  My hat is off to John for his design effort to make up what is known as piHPSDR! I took his basic design and tried (successfully) to add a few features, and the following is my result.

- Like version 1, this unit has a microphone jack on the left side; If the mic has a switch, it can be used to TOGGLE the radio trasmit function!  (Or the VOX function can be used, but I have never tried this mode.)

- This unit also has a speaker built in. This audio is totally independant of the ANAN radio audio setup.

- This unit has a digital encoder (for VFO) that can be set to a wide range of sensitivities as desired.

- The VFO-encoder is a very different design, a roller-wheel as seen in the above pictures. (See "Uppy-Downy" above.)

- This unit also has a TRANSMIT TOGGLE button on the base, which is in parallel with the microphone switch.

- The display is a highly sensitive TOUCH SCREEN, so it can totally run the ANAN radio.  (Or, one can use a mouse to control the radio, such as frequency, volume setting, etc., etc.)

- The display is fixed at a pleasing angle.

- The housing for the display is such that the interconnect wiring is hidden, except for a USB cable.

- The 7 inch display's housing is a very different design from the original; -It houses the Raspberry PI in a more central location; This keeps the connector ports well behind the display, so the cables do not extend beyond the edge of the display, as in my version 1.

- The micro-SD card can be changed without having to remove the Raspberry PI from the display case, then turn it over and make the swap.  (With my version 2, this task is a lot easier, quicker and is less stressful on the connections to the Raspberry PI.)

- This unit has a 5 volt plug/jack on the left side for the unit's power supply feed.

- I have TEAMVIEWER installed, which allows remote control of the unit.

- This unit has a POWER SWITCH, which is a lot nicer than having to unplug the MINI-USB connections to turn on/off. (There is also an LED to indicate the power connection.)

- This unit comes with a small DC power supply that has the mating plug, so it is easy to use. It is modified to ground the previously floating DC output. (Without the ground, the SSB transmitted signal had HUM.)

Scott (WU2O) has an extremely fine web page on the construction of his piHPSDR unit!  He has detailed the parts needed as well as visually offering a lot of good information on how he constructed his piHPSDR unit.  His web page is here:  
http://wu2o.dyndns.org/wu2o_pi_4.html

LOTS more pictures, etc. of my piHPSDR project is HERE. 

The images in this linked site "mostly" show the newly installed GOLD ON BLACK labels. (Previously, I had used the more common BLACK ON WHITE labels.)  These new labels not only dress the unit up, but they to make the system very easy and intuitive to operate.

Originally, I built two of these units, as I was trying to resolve the HUM issue that I was having when I would transmit in SSB.  Initially, I felt that the HUM was a result of my layout or a connection error, but this was not the case.  Both units are now hum-free. (The resolution was a needed ground to the AC mains.)

Oveall, this unit has more built-in abilities than the kit or the finished product. It works perfectly!  It is the latest verison of the Rasbberry PI computer family, and has the latest version of Johm Meltons "piHPSDR" app. 


   My main radio operation position includes an Icom IC-7300 and an ANAN-100. My RECENT PAST main radios included a Flex-6500, and two Flex-5000a and TS-590S radios, etc.  (At one point, I had four units on-line in our family room for a long-term informal test; See below.)  I have now pared this operating position down to the ANAN-100 and the IC-7300 at my family room operating position.  (I have the TS-590 in the basement shop operating position.)

   A software defined radio (SDR) is a lot more fun to operate than the Kenwood TS-590, of course. -The TS-590 is a surprisingly STRONG contender, as you will see in my informal test below! It is easy to operate, and is VERY good radio! -The only thing is, the TS-590 is "blind!" (One gets spoiled by enjoying the VISUAL abilities that an SDR offers.) (See below for a resolution to the "blindness limitation" of the TS-590 radio...)  The IC-7300 is a second-generation SDR, which employs the DDC-DUC technology.  (This is direct down conversion, direct up conversion.)

   As I mentioned, the above radios are located in the family room, which is my main radio operations location. -The family room is on the main deck of our house. As a result of this location, I am able to look (outside) to the North and to the South, for a much nicer on-the-air experience, compared to my basement-shop. (I also have HF radios in my basement shop, as I had mentioned above; Continue on, for more info on "studio 'B' in the basement.")


MY INFORMAL RADIO COMPARISON TEST . . .

   In my informal testing of a collection of four very fine radios, the TS-590 sometimes WON the test of comparison several times! -Even when it it did not "win," the TS-590 was never far behind the other three at all. (!!) During my informal tests, I was surprised that the "little piss-ant TS-590" did as well as it had! Mnore on this later, perhaps...

   Initially, I felt almost disapointed that the '590 did as well as it had, considering the cost of the units that I was comparing! -The TS-590 seemed to "work better than what would be locically expected," in other words!  -Good radio for the cost, plus it has great ergonomics, is easy-to-use, can be run remotely, and so on!

   For my testing, I tried to level the playing field as much as I could.  I used

1. THE SAME (COMMON, switched) ANTENNAS

2. THE SAME (multiple input) SPEAKER SYSTEM

3. The same POWER SUPPLY for all four radios.

   I allowed each of the radio's antenna tuners to achieve a good match to the antenna that was being used at the moment, so that this part of the "testing" was as fair and equal as possible. I then would use coaxial antenna switching to select the different radios. This allowed me to "instantly" (quickly) switch between the four radios.

   My informal test period spanned several months, mainly on 75, 40, 20 and 17 meters. I also tried the FOUR radios at various times of the day, with and without QRN, QRM, different bands, etc. The four radios that I compared "in real-world conditions" were as follows:

- Kenwood TS-590

- Flex-6500

- Flex-5000a

- ANAN-100

   As I mentioned, all of my tests were very unscientific; -I was simply noting which radio was able to give me an output THAT I COULD HEAR AND UNDERSTAND, and noting which radio was able to give me the best, or most easily understood signal. In most cases, I was looking for weak signals, with obvious consideration for co-channel QRM, local noise, QRN, etc.  ("Real operating conditions" needs, in other words.)

   I was trying to be as "real world" as possible. This is VERY different from a screen-room, lab setting!  -All of the finest laboratory setups and subsequent measurements go out the window, when we screw all of these fine results up by (gasp..!) ATTACHING AN ACTUAL ANTENNA TO THE RADIO! 

   The radio-test-sites are good for some points, no doubt.  But one has to keep in mind the extreme "ARTIFICIAL ISOLATION" that a well equiped test bench offers; -As a result, these lab tests genuinely are in an artificial world.  -Hook an antenna to the radios and measured things such as the noise floor, etc. go right out the window.  Really!

(Really!!!)

   My testing of the four very fine radios was on 75, 40, 20 and 17 meters, and was strictly "by the ear," seeing how well I was able to hear weak signals, through QRM, QRN, QSB and so on.  (Again, "real world" testing and comparison over a period of several months!)

   As I had mentioned,  I tried to level the playing field as much as I could with my testing, addressing the following main points to define my methodology; -Beyond this, the radios had to stand on their own merits:

- All four radios were compared on the same antenna, switching between them for quick evaluation/comparison
- All had the same speaker systems, using multi-inputs into powered Bose speakers
- All radios were tuned with the built-in antenna tuners as needed/equipped
              (The ANAN-100 has no built-in ATU, so I had to use an outboard MFJ-993 tuner)
- I used the radios on different bands, time-of-day, under all conditions
- Antenna switches allowed selecting the different radios very quickly

   I had the collection on the main operating desk for about four months.  As a result, I was able to do ongoing casual comparisons between all four of the radios as the conditions would change, as I have mentioned. I used the radios in all sorts of real-world operating conditions, except for contesting. (I am NOT a contester.) As a result of my setup, I was very easily able to QUICKLY cycle between radios and sense any differences; -As a result, any differences very quickly and very easily seen.

    Of the four radios, the Flex-5000a was always the "looser," but not at all by a dramatic margin!! In a few rare cases, the TS-590 actually matched or even edged out the newer technology radios, such as the ANAN-100 and the Flex-6500!  The "newer technology" that I just mentioned is defined as employing DDC/DUC technology, which stands for direct down conversion / direct up conversion.  It is noticably different and better.  The new technology uses FPGA technology, which is FIELD PROGRAMMABLE GATE ARRAY, which allows for a greater versitality for an SDR.

   The comparison results between these four VERY FINE radios is why I had jokingly referred that the TS-590 was what I began to call  the "piss-ant" radio;  -This, because the TS-590 "had NO RIGHT" to "best" the other radios due to it's much lower cost!  In all tests, the TS-590 and all others won out while the alternate radio was the Flex-5000a.  Maybe this is not all that surprising, as the '5000a is a first-generation SDR, and is a very good of class of SDR radio.  The newer DDC/DUC design simply has the edge, though.

 Just to remind, the Flex-5000 is an extremely good quality radio, but it is an earlier category or generation of SDR!  But I must again stress that I was surprised and almost dismayed that the TS-590 did as well as it did! (Bottom line: The '590 "did better than it had a right to.")

   The newer generation (employing DDC, DUC technology) SDR radios, both the ANAN-100 and the Flex-6500 were fairly equal. (The ANAN-100 and the FLEX-6500 are both "second generation SDR units.") In sheer SENSITIVITY, the ANAN-100 may have had the edge at times (varying conditions, atmospherics, etc., etc.) and at other times, the Flex-6500 might have won my informal "by the ear" comparison. -Again, the TS-590 was fighting for top place, and it even WON a few rounds! I do feel that the Flex-6500 handled the QRN better than the ANAN-100 radio initially, but the software updates for the Anan has added noticably better noise-fighting abilities, which would now place it at least on par with the Flex-6500, more likely better at this time.  (As the new controls are added for the ANAN-100, I can now say that I do feel that the ANAN offers a noticably better experience, when one has to fight QRN.)

   I have now sold both of my Flex-5000a radios. And, my Flex-6500 was returned to the factory for a full refund, for which I am thankful and pleased with Flex-Radio. (THANK YOU, Flex-Radio!!) The Flex-6500 has the "best feeling hardware" of the SDR units. (As an example, the ATU in the '6500 was the absolute best, in that it was fast and efficient. It also had a genuinely NICE "sound of quality" as the built-in ATU (auto antenna tuner)  matched the antenna's load, as an example!!) The TS-590 has a unique DIE CAST frame, as opposed to sheet metal, so the unit might be a bit heavier than others.  The weight was not at all a noticable factor for me.  The two large internal cooling fans are not exposed to any outside surface, which makes the TS-590 very quiet.

   It was MAINLY the software that the Flex-6500 had available that was the show-stopper for ME. I have noticed that the software has progressed more and more, so in time, it is entirely possible that the Flex-6500 would be in the "most coveted" position in my informal pick, if I had one to directly compare again! (Maybe I gave up my Flex-6500 too quickly..??!!) The basic software for the Flex-6500 was a genuine problem for me, but this has been upgraded quicker than the road-map had outlined! (Ratz..?)


   As I had mentioned above, my new fave radio is the ANAN-100, which is made by APACHE LABS of India.  I run a net for ANAN and other SDR units; This net is called the SDR-NET, and meets on 20 meters each Sunday on or about 14.340 Mhz at 12:30 Central time, which is 1730Z or 1830Z depending if we are on daylight savings time or not. I will usually have my ANAN-100 radio viewable on line here: http://www.livestream.com/k0jta -Once you open this web site, you will be able to see and hear what I see and hear!  There is a short commercial that you will have to endure first, when you first get the Livestream web site loaded.  Use the above link to join in, to see what I see and hear what I hear.  The Livestream site is free to use, no sign-up is needed.  There is a time delay when you are on any Livetream video/audio feed, so it will not quite be live.  Please do join into the SDR-NET in whatever way you can!!


   I am now experimenting with a couple new toys;.- I now have a new device hooked to the TS-590S radio! This is called "Funcube Pro +," which is a small USB dongle that is able to cover the same basic frequency span as the RTL-SDR and converter package as desribed above. -It does this with no need for a converter, plus adds new features over the RTL-SDR units. The Funcube Pro + works very smoothly, just like the SDR/converter package that I had described above. The FUNCUBE PRO + is a lot more money than the popular RTL-SDR dongles, but it offers better sensitivity, better filtering, a higher bit-data-depth, a TCXO, in addition to other features. It is truly a DC-to-daylight SDR!! 

   Here's what the resulting display looks like below, as hooked to the TS-590. -This is the display from the Funcube as seen on a standard computer. The Funcube is tuned to the IF of the TS-590, with the results being displayed by a free app called NaP3. I am using this app in it's simplest form: I am only using the NaP3 app to view the panoramic frequency display. I have the display set to display a variable span (+ and -) that is centered at the frequency that the radio is tuned to. (The variable span is set with the slider-bar in the lower-right of the picture below.) NaP3 and other apps can be made to actually control the radio, but this is not needed for me.

   See this LINK for other information of NaP3 app in action, as fed from my TS-590S and Funcube Pro +...

(The following is a sample PICTURE; See above for the link to the added information.)


   I run the MSPN (Minnesota State Phone Net) on 3.860 Mhz at noon (Minnesota local time) on Tuesdays.  I often have my Livestream going for this session, also.  Some folks enjoy seeing and hearing the activities of the net via the Livestream link that is available on any operating system, using any web browser.  (Even on a smartphone's web browser!)


   I made up an antenna switching box to allow the antennas (75 meter loop and 75/40 meter dipole) to be remotely switched via a USB connection to the computer, an iMac that is running Windows 7 so I can run the radios. I used to feed the two loop antennas with about 55 to 60 feet of 450 Ohm ladder (window!) line.   I now have just one loop antenna on the North side of the house, fed with about 130 feet of 450 Ohm window-line.  (I had two before.)


   I SOMETIMES have my radio(s) viewable on line here: http://www.livestream.com/k0jta -Using this, one can see and hear what the SDR radio "sees and hears." When you first go to this web page, you may have to endure a short commercial; Once this is done, you can watch and listen to the presentation for as long as you'd like. (I am using the FREE version; The paid versions do not have the commercial, as I understand.) Go to Livestream.com for hints on how to do some "streaming" yourself!

   If you would like to see YOUR SIGNALS via livestreaming from my site in South-Eastern Minnesota, email me with your needs; -If at all possible, I will run the LIVESTREAM app for you, if I am able.  Just let me know, and I will set it up for you, if time allows!



   I can run the family room's software defined radios (ANAN-100 or IC-7300) remotely, which is fun to experiment with. I can even switch the antenna relays with a USB controlled board, so I can ground the antenna remotely, if I am out-and-about.

   The remote control of the SDR units involves two software applications: -These are TeamViewer and Skype. These are free apps, which is a pleasing advantage! TeamViewer allows me to view and control the computer that is used to run the SDR-Radio and the USB-controlled antenna switching/grounding relays in the garage. Using TEAMVIEWER, I have full control of the entire computer, in addition to fully operating (as an example) the ANAN-100 radio's version of the PowerSDR software. I can access and control the needed computer(s), using any web browser, running any operating system! (A version of PowerSDR is the program that operates the ANAN-100 radio.) Skype provides the audio path to and from the radio (via the PowerSDR app) from a remote computer, iPad or cell phone. The Skype application that is running on the computer that is directly hooked to an SDR is set up to AUTO-ANSWER, so all I have to do is call the Skype computer-identity which is at the radio, and I can hear and send audio to and from the remotely operated radio.

   As a result, the radios are completely accessable and operable via the internet. -Again, all one needs is ANY web browser, running on ANY OPERATING SYSTEM or computer and internet access. -All I have to do is use the above-mentioned apps or web sites; -And there I am; -Just like sitting at the computer that is running the Radio.

   As  an alternate, I use Icom's RS-BA1 app, which offers CONTROL as well as AUDIO to control the IC-7300.  This is not a free app, but it is a lot easier and smoother to operate the radio, compared to the TeamViewer and Skype  packages above.  The app is not "intuitive" to me, but after study, the way it runs makes it a favorite app for me!


   I presently have two 75-Meter loop antennas as well as a 75/40 meter "REFERENCE" dipole; The NORTH 75 meter loop is attached to the radios that are the family room, as I have mentioned. The NORTH 75 meter loop is about 35 feet high, and has about 248 feet of #14 THHN wire.  It is fed with about 135 feet of 450 Ohm WINDOW LINE that run to the "relay box" and then to a Balun Designs 4:1 balun that is in the garage.

   The 75 meter loop antennnas simply work BETTER, so there was no reason to retain the little used 160 meter loop(s).  My 160 meter loops are gone!  (My 1000-plus foot and my 2000-plus foot loops are also gone, for the exact same reason!)

   The "standard" (reference) dipole on the tower that used to be 140 feet tall, which is now 40 feet tall. The apex of the 80/40 dipole is at 36 feet, and is fed with about 100 feet of RG-8 coax. This coax is hooked to antenna port number two on the LDG AT-1000 Pro-II auto-antenna tuner.

   The WEST 75-Meter loop antenna is now attached to the Icom IC-7300 or Kenwood TS-590S in the basement shop. The West loop is at about 20 feet height, and has about 242 feet of #14 THHN wire as the antenna. The West loop is also fed with a short run of 450 Ohm window-line that is about 15 feet long. The window line is attached to a good grade (Balun Designs) 4:1 current balun, which allows this antenna to function easily from 75 through 6 meters. I have about 15 feet of RG-8 coax that connects the balun to the radios in the basement shop. 


   I -HAD- an Icom IC-2720 as the car's VHF-UHF mobile, and various other VHF and UHF radios in use in the house. (I have two IC-2200H radios as my main "utility" radios in the house; One at my computer desk, and one in the basement shop...) I also have a low-cost VHF-UHF handheld, with assorted "expansion tools" such as headset, chargers, antennas, etc. (Another IC-2720 is in our camper. (My wife, Peg is now a ham! She has her tech license at the present time. Her call is K0JPG. She has this same low-cost handheld radio.)


   I own and operate the 147.360 Mhz ham repeater, which is located at my home. It is an open repeater system, and offers 30 mile range for a typical mobile radio user. The antenna for the repeater is on a self-supporting 40 foot tower at my home site. Ground elevation at our home is 1020 feet, and the "profile" of the local area is quite good. (I am on a small rise, which is a great help; Minnesota's terrain is relatively FLAT, so this small hill has more meaning to us flat-landers, you see...)

   The 147.96-36 repeater also has ECHOLINK. My Echolink node number is 9636; -This number was chosen as my "repeater pair" is 147.96/36; -Hence my choice for the "vanity node number" of 9636!  (See my web site for more information on the repeater, Echolink, etc.) 

   Echolink operation notes: 

As ever, one absolutely MUST check the operation of your Echolink setup by connecting to the ECHOLINK TEST SERVER!!!  (Please..!!)  To do this, connect to node number 9999, either by a menu-selection in the Echolink application or by simply doing a manually-entered connect to node number "9999" as the station desired.  The voice-response will introduce and tell you want to listen for, as you make a TEST TRANSMISSION to the test server.  If you hear your voice played back, all is OK and good.  If you do not hear your own voice being played back, something is wrong with your setup!  At that point, there is no need to do further "tests" to see if other nodes might work better.  (!!)

   If the Echolink TEST SERVER (node 9999) works, you are good to go.  If NOT, you must do some research on the Echolink web site for assistance; Most errors are caused by not setting the needed PORT FORWARDING in your modem or router.

   Again: -If the test server connection does not work, THERE IS NO NEED TO "TRY" MANY STATIONS AND NODES!!!!!!  All you would be doing is causing un-desired and un-needed clutter (activity) on someone else's equipment.  The test server is free to use.

There is no better test than the Echolink test node, which is node number 9999!

   Always do remember that when you do connect to someone, be it a repeater, conference, or whatever:  You are a GUEST on someone's hard-earned, privately owned equipment!  Treat it as such, please.


   I operate HF (as well as VHF and UHF) from my home, and sometimes from the car or camper. I frequent the 75, 20 and 17 meter bands on HF, as well as 2 Meters on FM.


   When I was still working, I used to have an Icom IC-7000 radio in my car. (This IC-7000 then served as my 'camping radio,' for the times when my wife and I go camping in our "26 foot" camper. An IC-7300 and an ALS-600 with an LDG AT-1000Pro-II auto-antenna tuner are now permanently installed in the camper.)

   On the very rare times that I am mobile these days, I use an an Icom AH-4 auto antenna tuner in my van's HF installation. (This same tuner has also been in service when I take the IC-7000 in my mini-van, when I was still employed) The IC-7000 system is now in my shop.

   See my web site for some pictures of the "ham shack on wheels" that is in our camper.) See my web site at (http://s3com.net/) for more information on this unit.  (Click on the "About" icon there, to go directly to the portion that shows the camper's radios.)


   I used to work for NWA. (Northwest Airlines.) I had been there for more than a THIRD OF A CENTURY. (Thirty-seven years, actually!  I hired on with NWA in September, 1968.) Great company; -Superior job!! (I LIKED it!!) I retired from NWA in August, 2005. NWA was purchased and is now absorbed into DELTA AIRLINES. (Fortunately, my association with the new owner, DELTA, remains the same, so flying privileges and so on are still in place...)


  I enjoy aviation, and have a private pilot licence. (I am quite inactive, however...) My wife and I attend the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) international fly-in and convention (AIRVENTURE) in Oshkosh, Wisconson every summer. We do some volunter work, usually PARKING ARRIVING AIRPLANES (at FLO, or Flight Line Ops) in the days just before the event actually opens. Many of the folks that fly in do so to actualy camp right at their aircraft! We also do some volunteer work in the EAA VINTAGE area. After that, we stay on for a few days, and enjoy the world's largest aviation event in the world!! (Go, EAA!!!)  We camp right on the field at Camp Scholler.  (Camp Scholler is the EAA's camp-grounds on the Oshkosh, Wisconsin airport.)


   For a "surprisingly nifty" view of your home site: Use this link: http://www.bing.com/maps/ -Once you have the web site loaded, put in your address in the address search area. Then, if you click on the 3-D graphic (at the top-center of the MAP area) , you will see the selected address! You can also change the view so that you are "looking down" from four different directions, from about 300 to 500 Meters height! This is a nifty web site!!!!!! (Use the controls at the upper-left to show the hybrid image, and then select the MAP or BIRD'S EYE view to get a better image.) In the bird's eye view, you have two choices of position (elevation), closer and a little farther away. I hope that you enjoy this web site!!!


My main web page is at: http://s3com.net/


 

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I FINALLY put a visitor counter on in early April, 2015!

(This was so very much overdue!)


73!

-Mike- K0JTA

8035053 Last modified: 2017-04-16 04:10:49, 34585 bytes

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