Saturday, October 14, 2017

Chirp and Chinese Handheld Radios

This is to support the discussions on CHIRP and Chinese Handhelds (mainly Baofeng/Pofung and
BTech radios) given at LIMARC on 10/11/2017 and LARK on 10/12/2017

Always make sure you are running the latest version of CHIRP

     there are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
     you will notice two Windows versions.  One is an installer. This is the easiest way to get going.

CHIRP uses databases from several sources:
     DMR MARC (I am investigating this further)
     Radio Reference (Subscription) Good for municipal and public service frequencies
     Repeaterbook (FREE repeater lookups)
     R-FINDER (From LI resident Bob, W2CYK). If you have paid for the iOS or Android APP  for European repeaters

Programming cables are available from many sources.  Look for FTDI chipsets.  They are more reliable.  I have a universal programming cable kit from Retevis.  Here are a few similar ones for sale on Amazon:

The best source for info on Chinese HTs is  Here you'll find reviews and information.  Some of the most useful information here is the comparison of various Baofeng/Pofung radios so you can figure out the differences, and the USB driver troubleshooting guide.

The Tri-Band HT I had that looked like a UV-5R but is actually a B-Tech UV-5X3 is a great little radio.  Available here:  Currently under $60 as of this writing, and available through PRIME next day shipping!

While you're looking at the '5X3, take a look at B-TECH's other offerings.  They have some interesting radios including the 8-Watt HTs, and some very interesting mobile radios too.

I am testing this tri-band antenna with it (It comes with two antennas stock. One for 2M/440 and one for 220):  Keep in mind that most of these radios use reverse SMA (or MALE SMA) connectors so they require an antenna with a FEMALE SMA.  I'll report back on my findings.

Other things that were discussed at the LARK meeting were SDR related:

     OPENWEBRX Project:
     Enhanced RTL-SDR Dongles:

Also, for the brave hearted.  Here is the Zastone radio (The Yaesu copy):

Monday, October 02, 2017

Fraud Fumble

I was late getting home tonight.  When I'm this late I'll grab food in the city, usually eating on the train.  As I was walking through the station with my food, water, napkins, and backpack, I felt almost off-balance already, and my phone started ringing.  Looking at the display, I saw a 631 area code number.  This usually means it's somewhat important.  I was thrown further off balance trying to get the phone answered, and get at least one of my earbuds in my ear.  I almost dropped the food, and myself for that matter, and answered the phone.

"Hello, we have been trying to reach you. This call is officially a final notice from the IRS, Internal Revenue Service. The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.”

Have you gotten one of these?  It's been a year or more, but this is about the tenth final notice I've gotten from these scammers.  My reaction tonight is one of anger.  I almost performed the epileptic slide just trying to answer the phone, only to get this call again.  I also have to wonder who falls for these.  Literally.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Scot Robinson - FLICKR
For someone who never remembers their dreams, waking from a scary one, and remembering the whole thing can be a bit disorienting.  Even though I may be at one of the lower stress-levels in my life, something is triggering these weird nightmares.  They're usually early in my sleep cycle, and occur when I was trying to stay up late in bed to finish something, or attempt a nap before actually going to bed.

I woke last night calling Jill in my sleep.  Yelling, I guess, according to her.  The dream was

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bye Bye Cable...... sort of

I just made a major change to my media services and I'm VERY happy about it.

I got really tired of a few things:

  • Rates and charges always going up for cable/internet/phone
  • The "packages" being structured so that none of the basic ones ever have what you want
  • Hidden costs.  Verizon is famous for this.  You have to buy a Docsis Modem, and pricey settop boxes
I eliminated regular cable TV from Optimum.  All I have now is 100M Internet, and basic-local TV.  I pay $67 plus fees and taxes, and I turned in my cable boxes.

For cable TV, I subscribe to DIRECTV NOW, which is a new streaming service.  I get 60 channels, and they happen to be ones that I actually want.  We can have 2 concurrent users, and it's $35/month.  For an extra $5 I have HBO NOW which includes On-Demand access, plus it gives you On-Demand access to MOST of the cable channels in the subscription. ABC, FOX, and NBC are included. CBS is working out a deal with them, but you can still watch these on your local TV service, sans cable box.

For phone, we mostly use our cell phones, but I bought an ObiHai box and attached it to Jill's Google Voice number.  As far as a real landline, we haven't had REAL copper landlines in this neighborhood in a long time.  

My monthly bill is about half of what it was, and I can now watch TV on my phone, or laptops, ANYWHERE.  Not just on my own WiFi like the Optimum app restricted.

DIrecTV NOW works on the Amazon Fire Stick, and they'll give you a free one if you pay for your first month in advance.  It will be available on ROKU in a matter of weeks, and also works on Apple TV, Chromecast and is coming to XBOX  One.

You NEED to have decent Internet to make it work (100 M or better in my case with three kids in the house all watching NETFLIX, and YouTube)

Enjoy!  (I think there may be some kind of referral bonus but I really don't care. I just hate seeing people spend so much money on cable)