Quansheng UV-K5

Another new toy, a Quansheng UK-K5(8). Size-wise it’s taller and heavier than the Baofeng UV5R and has a nicer display. The reason I got this, apart from the price is there is firmware available to enable a spectrum display among other things.

I’ve loaded this version: https://github.com/egzumer/uv-k5-firmware-custom/wiki. Loading was simple enough. There have been mentions that one needs to insert the programming cable very firmly but I found that my aftermarket Baofeng USB cable went in quite easily with a click. Once I had remembered you need to turn the radio on in program mode the firmware went in via the Edge browser in just a few seconds.

Other than that I have yet to use it on air and it has not yet been near a spectrum analyser so no idea how good or bad it is RF wise. There’s plenty of information out there already anyway. For me, like the UV5R it’s a handy little radio that won’t hurt too much if lost or damaged, but it is the available firmware that seals the deal.

Redeploying LoRa modules

After having ditched Meshtastic, for now at least, I had a fiddle with two of the LoRa modules with a view to repurposing them. And there they are. The first is a LoRa APRS r/o iGate, listening on 439.9125MHz, and the second is a receiver for radiosondes listening around 400MHz.

T-Beam LoRa module set up as a LoRa APRS iGate

Nestled under a 70cm ground plane in the shack is, of course a good way to ensure nothing is ever received unless it is very close! However, it is destined for greater things… although at the end of the day it’s just me fiddling. The LoRa APRS map is at https://lora.ham-radio-op.net/

TTGO device set up as a radiosonde receiver

The radiosonde one stands a better chance of actually receiving something, especially as it is currently connected to the 70cm big wheel antenna in the loft. See https://sondehub.org/

The plan is to connect these two along with the module running TinyGS to a common antenna currently in the loft. They will be connected using a Crosscountry Wireless multicoupler which is due to arrive in a day or so.

QSO logging

Some time ago I wanted a logging program that would do things my way. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the various offerings they generally try to be everything for everyone and none of them really sat well with me. So I wrote my own in PHP (learning Python is high on my list of things to do, along with Mandarin, Morse, cooking…) which uses the QRZ.com logbook as the backend. Ok then, really I wrote a series of various scripts in PHP that make it all work. The advantage is it does just what I need and nothing more and can easily be modified to add functionality. The downside is I never was a coder (well, ok, I have a certification in COBOL from the 1970’s!) and it is not going anywhere other than my own server. So you can’t have it…

The way I tend to log stuff is via wsjt-x or other software that logs to a local file. I then have a script that takes the ADIF data and populates QRZ.com on a QSO-by-QSO basis. Somehow having to actually do something after each QSO feels like I am actually engaging in the process. But I am not a contester… it would simply not work for any stress situations (but then I could easily make it work if I so desired…)

With QRZ.com being the master a script then populates a local database which does all manner of stuff that I personally need. For example, it holds records of eQSL sent/received, real QSL sent/received, and various tabular data for Worked All Britain (WAB).

Scripts also modify the wsjt-x log file on all my systems such that each has a record of all QSOs. As QRZ.com is globally accessible (not tried from China mind… not that I plan to take any radio gear there anyway) and my main database is on a VPS so is also globally accessible the various scripts work from anywhere.

I do plan to move the database from the VPS to a system at home once we get FTTP broadband and use the VPS as a backup, synchronising between the two. But that will wait.

One plan which is more immediate is LoTW integration because as yet my LoTW logging is via QRZ.com which means an extra step. No biggie, I mean it’s its a few clicks and a password… but it would be nice to integrate it. The same goes for eQSL sends, but as yet I only send on receipt and I have scripts to deal with that anyway.

Pi reduction

I’ve been rationalising hardware, in particular as the PoE HAT on the Pi running the GB7RVB packet mailbox was noticeably noisy and needs replacing. I had originally moved the packet mailbox off of my AMPRnet router Pi as I needed to install a VPN and the networking was becoming a bit too complex for my liking. In the end I had no use for the VPN, so GB7RVB has gone back, removing one Pi.

Linbpq went across just fine – there is an apt for it (https://wiki.oarc.uk/packet:linbpq-apt-installation) so installation is easy. Just install and copy the config across and the files under /opt/oarc/bpq (there are neater ways but this sledgehammer method works). With the node running I could access via the web interface as expected, but then the axudp route disappeared.

Then I realised that our broadband router had a NAT rule for the UDP port needed for axudp and that was still pushing it to the now switched off Pi. And I’m sure I’ve forgotten this same thing before! So now I have a note as a reminder, assuming I bother to check the note…

Now having removed one Pi with a noisy fan the NTP server Pi is also whining. Grumble.

Licence changes

It’s out! OFCOM today published the new licence terms stating that licences are changed from today, see https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0029/278345/amateur-radio-general-notice-decision.pdf

I did respond to the consultation. The two things that I was rather unsure of was the new rule that one cannily hold one personal licence – I still have my foundation and intermediate as well as the full – and the business about RSLs.

On the licences I have not used my foundation or intermediate calls since I got the full licence but I maintained domains named after all three and in some cases my login ID for various forums etc is still my foundation callsign. But no biggie, the domains can expire, I will make sure I do not use any old email addresses and it doesn’t actually matter if my login ID is the old callsign in any given forum provided my email address is correct. But to be tidy I’ll work my way through those. It looks like OFCOM will be revoking one’s ‘lesser’ licences during 2024/25.

RSLs always stuck out with me but as I live in England never affected me. I can see the point where people want to use the RSL, I mean if I lived in Scotland, say, I would definitely use MM. But the change is optional rather than RSLs being outlawed somehow. I have never operated outside England (I don’t seem to travel much!) and often wondered how, say I were driving up the A1 do I change callsign on approach to the Scottish border. But it was always academic because I never use radio while driving anyway.

I do like the bits about data stations and such but it will take some time to properly digest the new rules. I did find to my surprise that my 70cm pi-star setup could be heard from a few miles away given it was connected to a dummy load! One half of my setup – it’s a dual HAT – runs a pager for Dapnet and given a bit more power would be rather handy for the local area.

Also nice is the supervised use by unlicensed people whereas before those people needed to be on a recognised training course (I may have remembered that wrong…) – not that I have the need personally but it can only be helpful to the cause.

Thunderpole T-X handheld CB radio

I actually spotted this little CB handheld via one of M0XFB’s Tiktok videos. CB is not particularly active round here but even so I felt a handheld bit would still make a good addition to my kit.

Thunderpole T-X handheld CB radio

It will manage the full 4W output and has both the UK FM, and EU FM / AM ranges. https://www.thunderpole.co.uk/thunderpole-t-x-overview.html explains it better than me. It has the ubiquitous rubber duck type antenna but the antenna connector usefully is a BNC. No idea what the range will be with that antenna but it’s certainly a handy little thing.


I recently acquired a 10Ghz / 144MHz transverter which should get me a little closer to the band. I do still have a kit to build but having this means I can eventually test that as well. It needs a 10MHz reference input and I was recommended one from an eBay seller in China. The unit arrived today and having had it sat on a ‘scope and counter for several hours it does seem to produce a solid 10Mhz signal at a nice sine wave (it has TTL output too). Not bad for £12.

Shack dismantling

Looks like I am out of action for a few days. We noticed a bulge in the kitchen ceiling which is directly under the shack. There are two pipes that run across under the floor for hot and cold water to the taps and down from the hot water cylinder to the rest of the house. Yes, you guessed it, right under my desk. So, all the radios, screens, Mac and PCs, audio stuff and all cabling out and desk out. On lifting the carpet the floorboard I needed to lift ran right across the room, and right under the test bench! So, all the equipment had to move, including the allegedly portable spectrum analyser and the teleprinter. Fortunately GB7RVB and all the network gear is on shelving attached to the wall so that can stay.

And there is was, one leaking lead to copper joint. Far too late to go and get the bits to fix it… and searching for the parts by smartphone is not amusing. Grumble.

Remembering the old school dial-up BBS

All this packet radio progressing around the place reminds me of a time long ago, pre-Internet where dial-up BBSs became the new thing in town. Back then I had a BBC Micro and a modem that ran at two speeds – I forget which now (will edit later!) and I persuaded my mum to get BT in to fit a socket rather than the hard-wired phone we had then. This let me plug the modem in. I used to use a BBS called ‘More Summer Wine’ plus one other but I forgot the name. Much of the activity back then is lost in the mist of time (or rather I just can’t remember) but sending and receiving mail was fun. BBS systems were all a part of the wider FidoNet. Mail would be routed between the various BBS systems, many of which only had the one telephone line and so would be inaccessible while that was happening. Indeed, they were mostly single user anyway, although if the sysop was there you could message them via the console of the BBS which was probably sitting in someone’s bedroom. I am reminded of the many times I would set the BBC and modem up on the hall floor because we only had the one telephone socket. In fact, it would be quite some time between then and when we finally got broadband Internet which for us was not until the later 1990s in our new home.

During that time and working in academia I had routine access to networks and mail and so interest in the BBS systems dwindled. There was a time before the winder Internet became available where we could gain network access to remote systems, all typically mini- or mainframe computers. One such system ran a MUD – Multi-user Dungeons and Dragons – another angle to remote access but this time for gaming rather than BBS. That provided an introduction to online chatrooms because the MUD we used to play on had that feature. One could not only progress through the game but also exchange messages online, the latter becoming the wanted feature vice the game itself.

And here we are. I was never involved in packet radio when it first came to be, but now it has reminded me a lot of those old days of the dial-up BBS.

And FidoNet? It is still there https://www.fidonet.org/

See: https://spectrum.ieee.org/social-medias-dialup-ancestor-the-bulletin-board-system


Made some useful progress on packet radio today. I managed to access a node in Scotland and one near the south coast on 40m, 300 baud. This was using QtSoundModem on the Linux box connected to the FT450D via a Signalink, fed into the random length wire in the loft. Access was via EasyTerm running on the Windows PC at first, but then I managed to compile QtTermTCP so ran that on the Linux box instead. A bit of fun but it proves the possibility of using 40m to interconnect where there is currently no VHF or UHF paths here.

Fingers crossed once I get some wire and metal in the air things will only improve.



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