Andy M6YAO Builds A Sproutie!

Hands across the pond. Good to hear.

Dave Richards AA7EE

Andy and I have been communicating via e-mail since April. He is M6YAO now but back in April, he was plain old unlicensed Andy, who was about to apply for his Foundation License in the UK. He had built a Mark regen from Walford Electronics, which seems to have given him a taste for regens. He mentioned that it was a good receiver and worked well but that the tuning, accomplished by a polyvaricon with no reduction drive, was a bit critical, so he was looking for a regen to build that represented “the next step”, so to speak. It turned out that The Sproutie was that next regen for him.

I haven’t built any of the currently available regen kits but The Mark from Walford Electronics, and The Scout from QRPKits both strike me as good ones for anyone who has never built a regen, and wants to get…

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Satellite demonstration at AMSAT-UK Space Colloquium

Looks like fun, but hard work and one way of getting an achy arm.


Drew Glasbrenner M/KO4MA working FO-29 at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium 2015 Drew Glasbrenner M/KO4MA working FO-29 at the AMSAT-UK Colloquium 2015

On July 25 Drew Glasbrenner M/KO4MA gave a demonstration at the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium in Guildford of working the amateur radio satellite FO-29

His portable station comprised two FT-817’s with an Arrow 145/435 MHz antenna.

Watch Drew KO4MA satellite demo at AMSAT-UK Colloquium

Thanks to Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG for the video.

Further information on the SSB linear transponder satellite FO-29 is at

Also see the RadCom article Getting started on satellites

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Ham Radio Circa 1975

I have an FT200, probably around the same vintage as the FT101B here. I bought it secondhand around 1978. I will try firing it up one day. Even if you did not homebrew much, you needed to know what you were doing. No “all-band” 160m to 23cms rigs then.


My dad earned his amateur radio license in 1950 when he was 10 years old. His first station consisted of a Collins transmitter and receiver into a long wire antenna. From the QSL cards that survived, he worked the world with those radios. The hobby led him to being a radioman in the US Navy after high school.

During a recent trip home, I took possession of what is left of dad’s radio station, the one I remember as a small boy.


Now I am stepping back in time to see if I can get the station back on the air. There has been no power applied to anything since the late 1980s. The electrolytic capacitors probably are dry as bone. The tubes probably are tender too and will require a lot of TLC and a variac to get them going again.

Yaesu FT-101B HF Transceiver


This is one rugged…

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School Shortlist for Tim Peake Space Station Contact


Major Tim Peake KG5BVI Major Tim Peake KG5BVI

On Tuesday, July 14 at the UK Space Conference in Liverpool the names were announced of the UK schools which have won the opportunity to contact UK astronaut Tim Peake via amateur radio during his mission to the International Space Station. Tim holds the call sign KG5BVI and is expected to use the special call GB1SS from the amateur radio station in the Columbus module of the ISS.

Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment Tim Peake KG5BVI training on ISS Amateur Radio Station Equipment

Tim will launch to the ISS in December of this year and will spend 6 months working and living in space. The Amateur Radio competition is a collaboration between the UK Space Agency, the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Selected schools will host a direct link-up with the ISS during a two-day, space related STEM workshop which will be the culmination…

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40m End Fed Half Wave (EFHW) Antenna

Practical advice

Get out of the Radio Shack and Live Life

EFHW portable antenna for SOTA activations

Mention to anyone you are using an EFHW will prompt a discussion about the pros and cons of the EFHW versus the center fed 1/2 wave dipole. There are operators who swear their center fed 1/2 wave dipole is 2 S points better than the EFHW and vice versa. I am neutral on this subject, I have built both antennas and can confirm when they are used in the real world, on top of a mountain, neither antenna is better than the other. Choosing one antenna over another is about personal choice. The obvious difference between the two antennas is the feed point location and the feed point resistance. The EFHW is in the order of 3000 to 5000 ohms while the 1/2 wave dipole will be closer to 50 ohms in the inverted V configuration.

So why would you spend time making an…

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Ham Radio Can Bring Morse Code Back to the High Seas

Similarly UK radio amateurs could make a difference too.


For more than a century, Morse code was the language of ships at sea. This simple code communicated messages ranging from the routine to the life-saving.

Morse code slipped under the seas in 1999, replaced by satellite communication. It’s demise left amateur radio operators as caretakers of an art form first demonstrated to Congress by Samuel Morse himself in 1844.

Recently, the FCC granted amateurs access to a portion of the historic maritime radio band where most Morse code communication took place. This grant means that people will once again communicate regularly using Morse code around maritime channels at 472, 476, and 478 kHz.

In a way, this makes amateur radio operators curators of a living museum on the air.

But Amateurs can do much more that be caretakers.

How? The FCC can still issue ship licenses with radiotelegraphy privileges.

Part 80 Rules defines a voluntary ship as “any ship which…

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Old friends

Having decided to resurrect my amateur radio activities, I have been daunted by the prices of equipment and gear for radio. Obviously I have been pleased to find that at least Baofeng is cheap cheap, albeit with limitations.

One can get a rig that covers all bands from 160m to 70cms apparently. I cannot aspire to that at the moment, and anyway how can one do all those bands justice? I will stick to those bands that interest me, I think.

Anyway, for 2 meters I have an old FT290R multi-mode (well, actually two working quite well). For 80 to 10 have my Trio TS130V with dual VFO, which has survived well thirty years of inactivity and is working fine.

I also have an old valve FT200 which may be 45 years old and is untested. I bought it in the early eighties, second-hand. My FT221R, a fine 2 meter multi-mode rig once, is also untested so far. Yes, I was mostly a Yaesu man.

I had really been worried about the cost of antennas though, in addition to the long wires I am planning. However, I recently had to clear our garage through force of circumstances, and apart from two G5RVs ready made-up, I have discovered two ten-element Tonna (F9FT) antennas for 144 MHz. One of them is in its original box, never opened. I cannot remember buying it over thirty years ago. I have a portable mast, too.

Then there is an intact 23 element Tonna yagi for (yes) 23cms plus the 1296 MHz transverter from 28 MHz, and the bonus, maybe 20 metres of LDF 450 Heliax cable which I used to feed the Tonna. It looks in good condition.

There are a couple of rotators although I am not optimistic they will be in working order. 😦

Of course having all this is one thing. Deciding what to put up, when and how is quite another. I think the long wires and/or a G5RV should come first as they are the easiest option. Then antennas for 2 meters upwards, with a nod to planning regs, because I am a higher frequency man by nature. Now where is the 70 cm yagi? Don’t say I will have to buy one.

BaoFeng Buys Tokyo High Power Labs

Interesting news. Should we hang on before spending loads of money on other products?

Factual Amateur Radio Technology Services


Quietly, without much fanfare, BaoFeng (the marketing name for PoFung Technologies) has purchased the remaining assets from the holding administrator representing Tokyo High Power Labs.

This acquisition, completed just before the end of 2014, signals the entry of BaoFeng into the HF radio market.  This was discussed in detail on QRZ.


In recent weeks, Factual Amateur Radio Technology Services have learned of a product roadmap for both amplifiers and a new HF transceiver.  We’re still gathering details, but what we’ve learned so far includes:

  • Three New HF Amplifiers, modeled after Tokyo High Power Labs models.
  • Three New HF Transceivers, with features to delight even the most critical of operators
  • A new remote base protocol

Details are still a little sketchy, but the rumored HF Transceivers are reportedly being labeled:

  • BaoFeng Hurricane (SDR with knobs, 250 watt all band transceiver)
  • BaoFeng Tornado (SDR with knobs, 400 watt…

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New faces and skills

As part of my rehabilitation in amateur radio I attended the Skills Night presented by Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society at Danbury.

As one would expect, there were many Foundation and Intermediate License Holders for whom the “Skills” training is a very good idea. I found it helpful as of course the radio world has changed in my absence.

Once upon a time I was familiar with the OSCAR amateur satellites (this is tautology given that OSCAR stands for “Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio”). Stephen, M0SHQ, was very kind in giving me some minutes telling me about the latest developments, and showed me his impressive hand-held dual band 2m/70cm homemade yagi antenna, . He also demonstrated the OSCAR Android app on his phone. I have installed it on mine, and well, you never know, I might have a bash.

Charlie, M0PZT, was busy programming various handheld rigs, and was kind enough to “do” my second dual-band Baofeng as he did the first. Thanks, Charlie!

More experienced hams (more up-to-date than I) were scattered around the hall imparting their valuable knowledge. I enjoyed chatting with a number of the ladies and gentlemen present, and believe the attendance was over sixty in number.

Anyway, the Skills Night is a cracking idea, there was a lot going on which you can see via the link, and if you are in striking distance of Danbury, do go along to the next one.

Review Baofeng FF-12P (UV-5X)

Ham Radio Blog PD0AC

Probably because Baofeng is running out of letters (although I didn’t see the Baofeng UV-5Y or Z yet), there’s a new numbers game in order. The FF-12P is essentially a UV-5X and my sample came in…. silver.

Baofeng FF-12PThe radio houses the latest chip set and firmware. Pressing various keys confirm this: pressing ‘0’ for a bit more than a second shows the battery voltage, pressing PTT + Band generates 2100 Hz, PTT + A/B generates 1750 Hz, and PTT + VFO/MR generates 1450 Hz.

The display is of the inverse type, the antenna the short one we all learned to hate, “FF-12P” is printed on both the left and right side of the radio. Batteries / accessories aren’t compatible with the standard UV-5R. While I could find enough suppliers of the FF-12P and UV-5X, not a single one appears to sell spare batteries or any other accessory.

Charger / battery…

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