Category Archives: Radio

How To Add an OLED To A Zumspot DMR Hotspot

I got the distinct honor of speaking at the local Amateur Radio Club last night and it caused me to dust the, errrrrrr, dust off of my DMR Hotspots.    After the club meeting I came back and updated the OS’s (PiStar) on my Zumspot and JumboSpot and updated the firmware as well.

The JumboSpot has one distinct advantage over the Zumpsot I have.  It has a cool OLED display.

That got me to thinking.  I could probably add an OLED to my Zumspot.   I could. Here’s how you do that:

Zumspot OLED (click to enlarge)

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Why Is Radio So Important To Me?

Thought I’d do some philosophical stuff today instead of technical stuff today.  Beware.

One of the things that first fascinated me as a little kid (besides baseball and before women) was radio.  Specifically short wave radio.  We had a world band radio in the house and it had the TV audio band.  I used to think that was so cool.  Then along came Citizens Band (CB) radio.  Oh God how I loved that.   I really find that odd because now at my advanced age of 57, and the fact I’m a licensed Ham, I really don’t care to talk.

But oh how I love to listen.  I almost don’t care what I’m listening to as long as I’m LISTENING.

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RTL-SDR Fun

One of my favorite hobbies of course is radio.  I own a few.

I think the most interesting “radios” are RTL-SDR devices.  The RTL stands for Realtek (which is the chipset) and SDR stands for Software Defined Radio.

They only cost a few bucks for a “generic” one and there are more sensitive and selective ones that cost bigger bucks.

Essentially if it is a radio signal of some kind, with a $20 USB Software Defined Radio you can listen to or decode a multitude of radio traffic/chatter.  In fact it seems darn near illegal, and sometimes it is.  I have other blog pages with this information but I’m just going to re-hash what I’ve been up to this week.

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Radio – An Observation

Radio.  It’s an interesting medium.  From Edison to Marconi it has been with us since the late 1800’s.  Among the first wireless, commercial transmissions were referred to as Marconi-grams.

Marconigram Mar*coni*gram, n. [Marconi + –gram.] same as {radiogram}; a wireless message. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

Transmitting messages wirelessly became preferable over wired transmissions referred to as the telegraph.   In 1920 our world changed as KDKA, a government radio station was thrust upon the airwaves and commercial radio kicked off.   The BBC in England followed suit around 1922.

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Chuwi HI10 Air Windows Tablet Review For RTL-SDR

Batten down the hatches and store food.   The end is near.  I bought a Windows Device and I am going to review it.

Let’s be clear.  I F’n-ing hate Windows.  I have been using Linux and Mac way before it was cool to do so.  Windows is an abomination.  That being said I have long since owned a Vinyl Sign Cutting machine.  The very best software for it runs on Windows.  Also recently I bought an SDRPlay RSPDuo and the only real software to exploit it properly is called SDRUno and it is Windows only.

This is a review for a Chuwi HI10 Air Tablet .  I bought it EXCLUSIVELY for using RTL-SDR radios on.  If you are looking for a review of how well this tablet does ANYTHING besides RTL-SDR, then by golly you are in the wrong place.

I travel a lot and I love listening to radio signals and like it or not I just need to carry around a Windows device.

Sure I can run Windows in a Virtual environment but I’m kind of king of the low power devices (read:  CHEAP) and the things I try to do require more power and speed than what I typically carry around.

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How Do You Like To Listen To Shortwave?

Probably not a lot of us shortwave junkies out there.  That being said there are several ways to listen.

  • Portable shortwave
  • Tabletop shortwave with external antenna
  • RTL-SDR
  • Internet based SDR

Probably missing something but those are the ways I can do it at Castle Hagensieker.  And while I own many, many portable shortwave radios……………

I have pretty much two preferred ways to listen.

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Icom IC-R75 Mini Review

Ok, I’m late to the show.  Really, really, really late to the show as this receiver has been out of production for a while.  I know.

While some of these aren’t my photos they are indeed photos from the eBay auction of the Icom IC-R75 receiver I bought so hopefully that’s okay.

I can give you specs and point you to all the features that you can easily look up yourself but I’m just going to focus on how I like the receiver.   Most of my reviews are subjective and basically boil down to “I like it” or “I don’t like it”.   I let others handle the super technical reviews.

While I am an electronics tech I’m mostly just a hobbyist, a user, and I know what I like, what makes sense, and what doesn’t work for me.  I’d be willing to bet that most people who are thinking about buying an R-75 don’t want to know how fast the electrons flow through the perfect waveform but rather the common sense nuts and bolts operation of the receiver.

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Cheap Chinese Magnetic Loop Antenna (MegaLoop aka MAGALoop) MLA-30

UPDATE:  I’ve been catching a little heat for this review.  I have gotten several emails explaining very succinctly to me why this antenna is not very good and I’ve been slammed for promoting a Chinese knock off.  However, know this……….It is INEXPENSIVE.  Like China or hate China, because this loop is a fraction of the price of other loops for sale it is going to get some attention.  Also, I’m sorry, I don’t care what the specs say…………The antenna receives pretty good.  Is it the end all, be all…………….no.  God no.   But it’s not that bad and it doesn’t cost $300.

I live in an HOA which limits what kind of an antenna I can use for Short Wave Listening.  There are a few options of which one of the best is a Magnetic Loop antenna.   It has a relatively small profile and can even be kept below fence level and still perform wonderfully.

One of the problems with a Magnetic Loop is that they are fairly expensive.  Like in the $250 or higher range.  Most old timers or skilled antenna builders will tell you there is $60 worth of parts in the $250 antenna and that you should just hunker down, get smart, and build one yourself.

Enter the Chinese made MLA-30 MegaLoop and damnit this is my blog so it’ll from here on out be known as the MAGALoop.  That’s what I’m calling it.

 

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Using the SDRPlay RSPDuo – A few weeks in

I’ve had my SDRPlay RSPDuo for a few weeks now and I’m prepared to talk about it a little bit.

First let me preface this by saying I also own an RSP1 and an RSP2 and while I think they are both fine radios I’ve always had a tiny beef with the SDRPlay devices.

Beef #1 is that to really pack a punch with an RSP device you need SDRUno which is a Windows program.   With every fiber of my being I despise Windows.  Don’t like it don’t trust it.

And while you most certainly can use an SDRPlay on Linux weird shit happens.  Let me also preface this by saying that if you install the Non-Windows Workflow as they say in that Lego movie………..”Everything is Awesome”.  Yeah, well, I’m not that guy.  I have every SDR known to God and Man and I build the gr-osmosdr stuff by hand to try to use other devices such as PlutoSDR and LimeMiniSDR.

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What’s Left To Do On ShortWave

Ahhhh Shortwave radio.  If you’re my age you probably remember it fondly in the 70’s and 80’s. Every home probably had at least one World Band radio.  If you are my kids age you may not even know it exists or if you do ………… what exactly it is.

Everyone knows what AM radio is.  What most don’t know is AM Radio is actually called Medium Wave (MW).  The frequencies BELOW AM are called LONGWAVE.  So it stands to reason the frequencies on the other side of AM are called “SHORTWAVE”.

Shortwave kind of fell out of popularity mostly due to the big old orange ball in the sky firing solar storms at us.  The sun works in cycles and sometimes shortwave listening is really really good and sometimes it is really really pointless to try.

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