Saturday, 16 January 2016

The new radio search, part three...

Right, saga complete (-ish) :)

Saved myself some money by double checking to see if I had an HF-70cm SWR meter - for those who haven't a clue what that is, a
SWR meter or VSWR (voltage standing wave ratio) meter measures the standing wave ratio in a transmission line. The meter can be used to indicate the degree of mismatch between a transmission line and its load (usually a radio antenna), or evaluate the effectiveness of impedance matching efforts. Put even more simply, it measures how effective a match between the radio and the antenna actually is (OK< that's not an accurate description, but it'll do for here) Anyhow, I found my old meter it in storage, so that's saved me close to a ton (88 quid, to be accurate) :)

I went over to ML&S on Friday, and chatted with one of their lads; after some in-depth discussion, and looking over both radios, I decided the build quality of the Yaesu was MUCH better than the Wouxun, which despite it's weight, felt 'plasticy' to the touch on the head unit; the buttons also seemed wobbly, somehow, as opposed to the Yaesu, whose controls felt like good quality switches and buttons should feel. My worst case scenario on costs was for the Yaesu to reach just shy of six hundred quid, including all bits and bobs. I spent just over four hundred, on this case, although I did forget something, which I'll have to order online: Coax cable and fittings to connect the radio to the antenna. D'OH.

The good news is that as it's the Yaesu, CHIRP will support it, and I don't have to much about with WINE and it's odd ways with USB/COM ports if I don't want to.

One of the main issues for me was the lack of power from the Wouxun radio on 10 metres and 6 metres, compared to the Yaesu FT-8900; the Yaesu is consistent with 50 watts on 10, 6, and 2 metres, and pushes out 35 on 70cm, while the Wouxun seems to offer inconsistent and differing results to every reviewer who measured it, which is a little worrying, when you think about it.

So, given all the information, and having had an opportunity to see the two radios in person (so to speak), I decided to go with a brand I trust, and pay the extra, rather than go for the new kid on the block, and possibly regretting it further down the line.

Now, don't get me wrong. I WOULD have spent even less, had I gone with the Wouxun. However, having compared the two radios practically side by side, and examined the pluses and minuses of both, I'm left with the opinion that the Wouxun, while quite probably being a good entry radio for a newly-licenced Ham, won't last that long, compared to a radio from one of the 'Big Three'. In addition, programming it could be a veritable nightmare if you don't use a computer running some flavour of the Windows Operating System; Yaesu doesn't have that problem, being very well-supported by third -party applications for other operating systems.

So, I got the Yaesu FT-8900R, and had it wide-banded in case I either get an NOV (Notice Of Variation, a way for licenced radio amateurs in the UK to gain access to areas of the radio spectrum not normally permitted to them under the terms and conditions of their normal licence) for 146 MHz, or go abroad with the radio at some point in the future.

Anyhow, I'm at my better half's this weekend, and while we enjoy each others company immensely, there are occasional times we like to do our own things (even while we're in the same room), so I did some work on the memory settings for the new radio earlier.

I used the Chirp CSV generator to compile a list of all amateur radio repeaters (put simply, these are dedicated rebroadcasting stations, to allow mobile and portable stations to increase the range at which they can talk to each other) in the UK, from 10m (28MHz)  through 70cm (432MHz). The list came to 294 or so entries!

However, I found that CHIRP baulked at uploading the list; seems there were problems with the list - three entries were blank for CTCSS tones, and it appears that one repeater in Wales doesn’t use either tone burst OR CTCSS, just, by all appearances, a valid carrier (a radio transmission) is enough to 'open' that particular box! So, I bunged generic tones for the three missing ones into the csv spreadsheet file, and the list uploaded after that; went into CHIRP and fixed the entries - job done!

All I have to do now is order that darned coaxial cable and connectors, and then I'll be able to install the radio in the car - I still can't believe I bloody forgot that oh-so elementary item

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