Sunday, 11 August 2013

Programming Cables

After almost giving up on the Alinco DJ-G7 programming software (hardly ever connected to the radio or it failed halfway through reading/writing), I had another go with it yesterday.
After reading these instructions I tried changing the baud rate in Windows Device Manager to 57600 and it connected first time using a USB-serial cable (in Windows 8).
I still got the odd error when reading/writing a large number of memories at once but this may be the radio at fault and not the software, see this page about some alternative programming software.
I didn't think any applications still used the Windows serial port settings, usually it is set somewhere else and the Device Manager page was not something you would ever have to change.
I find it easier to export the Alinco's memory data to a CSV file and edit it in Excel, that way the memories can be programmed in on the go, uploaded and then sorted by frequency etc.

Today I tried connecting my Icom IC-2800 to the PC. I had the CS-2800 programming software but never had any success in getting it to connect. The Icom OPC-478 cable is the same wiring as the USB cable I used to program the Alinco DJ-G7 (a single data line on the ring of a 3.5mm jack plug), so I tried that cable.
I have 2 of these cables which should be compatible with the OPC-478. The first one did not work, I thought it might be something to do with running the old Icom software in Windows 8 or the baud rate (I'd got suspicious about the Windows baud rate settings after getting the Alinco to work) but then I read this message where the writer tried several cables and only one worked. I tried my other OPC-478 type cable and once the COM port was changed to COM2 (the CS-2800 software only allows COM1 to COM4), it worked perfectly. I even tried the Windows baud rate at both 4800 and 9600 and it made no difference.
What is the difference between the 2 cables? The only thing I can think of is that Cable 2 had the ring of the jack plug at 2.78V when not connected to any radio, and the non-working Cable 1 had this at 3.3V.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Brown Carrick Hill

A more successful SOTA activation yesterday than Wednesday's attempt at See Morris Hill. Brown Carrick Hill (SOTA GM/SS-260) is near to Ayr and Kilmarnock and there are a few people listening to 145.500 in the daytime.
The true summit is not the part with the masts on, it is to the west, across a bit of boggy ground that is below the 25m limit of the activation area.

Brown Carrick Hill masts today

The masts in 2009 when I was last here
Some of the antennas have gone from the masts, all the emergency services have now moved to TETRA (the 4-stack dipoles with extra supports). DAB antennas are on the most distant of the 3 masts.

This ship was just off Ayr

See Morris Hill

Another 0-point attempt at See Morris Hill (SOTA GM/SS-274) on Wednesday afternoon. 2 QSOs were made, the furthest being to MW0PAD in Holyhead. See Morris Hill is in a bad location for the south because Criffel is in the way and there doesn't seem to be much activity in the Carlisle area, at least for SOTA chasers.

Used the FT-817 into a half wave mobile antenna. The poles are from an old garden gazebo which we were throwing away. They are just the right size to fit in a car boot and the mobile antenna fits inside one of them for carrying. The coax is connected through a SO239 coupler.

The radio mast at the top of the hill is known as Riddings Hill.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


"Downgraded" from Pro to Unlimited  broadband today, still have my static IP address after restarting the router.
Getting a sync speed of nearly 10Mbit now, improved since I got rid of the "filter" that was really just a splitter (I must have had it left over from an old dial up modem). Thought it was normal (about 5-8 Mbit) until the new Sky box got plugged in and speed dropped to 3Mbit.
Now there's no limit, I can get the Sky boxes networked for iPlayer etc. I've got a couple of old HomePlug adaptors (14Mbit) to try, see how badly they wipe out HF!

Monday, 5 August 2013


O2 have moved all their 900 MHz GSM cells into the 955-960 MHz band (channel 101 - 124).
This clears channels 37 - 59, probably for 3G or 4G.
Now in this area:
Thorncliffe, Barrow
18447 ch108
28447 ch112
38447 ch122

Salthouse Road, Barrow
13694 ch123
23694 ch103

Howard Street, Barrow
13469 ?
23469 ch105
33469 ch111

Dalton TV mast
13459 ch110
23459 ch102
33459 ch116

Morecambe Bay (BBC FM mast)
10439 ch104
20439 ch120
30439 ch118