Should contest rules allow and act upon 599K QRM reports?

Saturday, 20 December 2014

President Lincoln II V3 review final comment on broken CW mode

My previous reviews have been answered by cbradiomagazine saying that it is perhaps unreasonable to expect a cb to perform well on cw and most users of this radio will not require this mode. I currently have access to 2 other cb radios with CW mode: Alinco DR-135UK Realistic HTX-100 These radios exhibit none of the faults described for the president Lincoln II V3. Basically you buy a President Lincoln II V3 at top dollar with the engineers at the company knowing full well that the radio is flawed in at least 4 ways (described in previous posts). The company must recon CB users won't notice these flaws and apparently aren't going to to bother fixing them as no pressure is being applied. Cbradiomagazine is happy with this result but I am not. I am now happy with my Alinco DR-135UK which is the right size and price for the car and will work for the occasional CW contact as well. A real pity I had to spend 2.5x on a PLIIV3 before I got here. If you are an SSB operator only (using the president Lincoln II V3), pay particular attention to TX drift (for the first second of transmission) when using the clarifier (not centred) as this isn't a CW only fault. Also time to PTT is very slow compared to other rigs so expect initial syllables to be cut. Also a quick stab at the mic button will result in a long transmission. All are devastating for CW, but might be annoying for SSB once you notice them. I suspect most of these problems are due to overloading an underpowered hardware architecture with pointless bells and whistles. For all potential buyers out there, I would not recommend the President Lincoln II V3. It is currently half a radio with many many problems under the hood (see previous reviews). I would however recommend the Alinco or better still the Realistic.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Alinco DR-135UK

On black Friday I puchased an Alinco DR-135UK for £99 from Nevada Communications.
I didn't bother with the USB programming cable as I have a number of prolific usb rs232 adapters lying around. The first one I tried was the one for my TYT TH-UV3R handsets. I downloaded software for the CRE8900 and bingo was able to configure the radio. I wanted to make the channel display useful, so I programmed the radio so that the channel display (for CW) shows the number of KHz offset from 28MHz i.e. Band A 28001 -> 28060 ch1 rx 280016 tx 28001 ch2 rx 280026 tx 28002 etc. You only need about 50KHz (28 -> 28050) tuning range for cw anyway. The reason for the 600Hz offset on the rx frequencies is that I have set my cw sidetone to 600Hz in the menus and the radio transmits the cw tone at this offset frequency, but doesn't shift the rx up by this amount, most HF rigs do this automatically but this one doesn't, so a manual offset on rx is required to work anyone. Putting this offset into the channel memory means you can forget this detail. For SSB I decided to program the channels in 2KHz steps as again this would enable the channel display to be of use. This time the channel display (for SSB) when doubled shows the number of KHz offset from 28.3MHz (band B) or 28.4MHz (band C) i.e.: Band B 28302 -> 28420 ch1 rx 28302 tx 28302 ch2 rx 28304 tx 28304 etc Band C 28402 -> 28520 ch1 rx 28402 tx 28402 ch2 rx 28404 tx 28404 etc The above programming methodology allows you to remember where the original channel frequency was once you have been playing with the clarifier. One of the major drawbacks of this radio is that you can only tune 10KHz either side of the programmed frequency for that channel i.e. Band C ch25 28450, you can tune 28440 -> 28460 using the clarifier. Trouble is it remembers the clarified setting when you move channel. It therefore pays to remember what the true frequency for that channel was so that you can return the clarifier to the centre frequency. This is easily done using the above programming methodology as you just double the channel number to get the correct programmed center frequency i.e. Band C ch24, radio frequency display says 28450, 24x2=48 so I know it has to be returned to 28448 to be centered. Band A ch2, radio frequency display says 28003, 2x1=2 (+600Hz) so I know it has to be returned to 280026 to be centered. Another drawback is that on CW there seems to be a time lag between the sidetone and the key. This is very off putting so the solution for me was to turn the radio sidetone off and use the sidetone from an external keyer. Luckily this radio can happily be used at speeds well in excess of 30wpm without the dreaded initial dah on PTT like the President Lincoln II (see previous posts). I'll round off by saying that the rx of this radio is really punished by incorrect tuning unlike normal radios. The audio quality seems to be very poor with even a 30Hz mistune. The audio of a station sounds terrible (dalek like) until it is tuned bang on. This means selecting the 10Hz steps and fiddling for a minute before the audio sounds good. The push step mechanism for the clarifier is round robin so it takes several key pushes to get the step to 10Hz and then back to 100 or 1000Hz when you want to tune away. Most people leave it on 100Hz as a happy medium, but then the audio sounds crap as you are up to 50Hz mistuned (see most youtube videos). I rate this radio better than the President Lincoln II V3 as the CW mode is useable (without the tx drift and the initial dah problems of the LII). SSB operators will prefer the LII as it has more toys and SSB doesn't show the bugs described above.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Ten Tec Eagle 599

It really is rip off Britain isn't it? I'd like to buy a Ten Tec Eagle 599 transceiver but I can't find a new one in the UK that isn't greater than double the original factory price: Ten Tec Eagle 599AT $1499 (£930) direct from TenTec Same spec radio from Waters and Stanton in the UK £2000 Ten Tec refuse to sell outside the USA and just refer UK customers to their local distributers. I think our local distributers must have bought them before the TenTec summer sale and are doing their usual pounds to dollars (1:1) price translation and then adding a couple of hundred pounds for their service. I would imagine that any stock the UK distributers did buy will now be a couple of years old and they will be beginning to realise that the customers (us) aren't going to pay for their greed/stupidity. How long they can hold out for their £2000 asking price I don't know, but I for one refuse to be taken for a chump.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

President Lincoln II V3 cw testing (part 3) more findings

Testing with a second transceiver, I realised that the President Lincoln II V3 cw mode is DSB (Double SideBand), reminisant of the old tentec centuary 22 transceiver and the like. This means I can hear my second transceiver tx twice whilst tuning on rx with the Lincoln (-600Hz -> null -> +600Hz, as my menu item "CWtoFr" is set to "600" meaning that my tx/rx cw tone is 600Hz offset from my centre frequency). This is similar to some of the simple cw rx kits I have built in the past which do not supress the rx'd opposite sideband in an attempt to keep things simple and cheap. The trick to using these simple receivers is to decide which rx sideband to tune for and stick to that. With the Lincoln, I've decided to always tune through the LF rx image to the HF rx image of incoming cw stations (clarifier centered and with split engaged (-600Hz offset)). This means I can go straight back to them and they will hear me. If the HF side has interference from another rx station then you can alternatively tune for the LF side provided you change the split to +600Hz offset. Using the split function simply means that the tx frequency of the Lincoln is different to the rx frequency by an offset frequency amount and direction (up or dwn). Using the split feature avoids the "tone drift" firmware problem (described in an earlier post) caused by using the clarifier. Unfortunately this means that the frequency display will read +/-600Hz out. I'm learning all the time here and am pretty disappointed with "the best" cb offering for cw mode. The DSB receiver is a hardware design and cannot be fixed in firmware. The slow CW to PTT time may be improved in firmware, but will be limited by hardware. The erroneous tx "long dah" problem (described previously) can be fixed in firmware. The initial tx cw element "tone shift" through using the clarifier is a hardware problem and cannot be fixed in firmware. Rating the cw problems with the President Lincoln II Mk3 (most important first) I'd say: 1) CW to PTT too slow. 2) "tone drift". 3) "long dah". 4) DSB rx. There are a lot of tx firmware bugs and the DSB rx is simply too crude a design for a transceiver of this price. Has any CB ever been properly rated for CW capabilities? Has President ever spoken to a CW operator before putting CW on the mode switch?. Does President realise the size of the 10m CW user base? CW Buyer beware, it kinda works but it's a lot of hard work for the price at this revision. This video link shows how to work a cw station on the President Lincoln II whilst avoiding the "tone drift" problem described previously:

President Lincoln II V3 cw testing (part 2) 3 firmware bugs far!

Well I'd like to share some more findings with you. Yet again the President Lincoln II V3 (cw mode) was nearly assigned to the bin. On listening to my transmission on another transceiver I noticed that the initial transmitted cw element was not only chopped, but the transmitted tone changed by about 200Hz like it was drifting or warming up. On air it sounded very poor for the initial cw element then fine for the rest of the transmission. Just by chance I moved the clarifier and discovered that the initial cw element tone drift characteristic changed on transmit! I had the clarifier at 2 o'clock to allow me to rx returning cw stations, I centered the clarifier and listened to my initial transmitted cw more tone drift! Yet another firmware problem! I thought about this a bit and came up with a work around...SPLIT! I set up a postive split of 600Hz (6 offset on the LCD) this meant I could work stations with the clarifier centered and avoid the initial cw element transmit tone drift problem. Just to summarise all the cw problems found so far: 1) Initial transmitted cw element chopped due to "PTT too slow" to engage. 2) Initial transmitted cw element "long dah" independent of the key up/dwn position. 3) Initial transmitted cw element "tone drift" due to non-centered clarifier. With my work-arounds (in order): 1) Send an initial dit before the start of every transmission. 2) Increase the size of the initial transmitted cw element i.e. slow down cw speed. 3) Center the clarifier and use a 600Hz split instead (this fault means the clarifier cannot be used). The good news is that once you implement the above work-arounds the President Lincoln can be used quite effectively in cw mode. Hopefully President will see this post and implement some fixes for future firmware revisions...please? Tone drift video -

President Lincoln II V3 cw mode testing

What a difference a day makes. I have discovered some more detail on the firmware fault I described in an earlier post. The long "dah" at start of transmission seems only to occur when the input key closure duration is very quick. I connected a manual key and couldn't see the problem I had before, although another problem has reared it's head (more later). I re-connected the keyer and just sent 1 "dit" then waited till the rig unkeyed, the plan being to discover how to involke the long "dah" bug. After each successful test (no long "dah" sent) I then increased the speed of the keyer. I got to about 20wpm before the long "dah" bug appeared. With the above information I turned the keyer down to just under 20wpm and made a few cq calls. Ray GM0MNV up in Glenrothes came back to me and I enjoyed a successful cw QSO with him. Unfortunately this is where I discovered a second firmware bug. The time to PTT from key closure is too long with the result being the initial cw character is chopped. If the first cw element you send is a "di" then this is non existant on the output (not good if you are working EA). If the first cw element you send is a "dah" then this is chopped. A work around is to always send an initial "di" before the start of every transmission (you can't manually close the PTT from the mic in cw mode). Time from cw key input to PTT closure may be fixable in firmware or at least improved...V4?. There may be a hardware limitation of how much this can be improved, but we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime I've worked DL,EA,HB,HA and GM all good fun. Delay to open PTT at the end of transmission is about right and a speed of 18WPM-20WPM seems to work out fine without the PTT opening and closing during transmission (lower limit probably about 12WPM) however you cannot set this delay in the menu....V4?. I'm getting to like this wee rig, no real show stoppers, but it's got a long way to go in terms of firmware improvement till it get's to the capabilities of the worst cw ham radio. PS. I have since re-connected the manual keyer and found that the "long dah" bug can also be seem if a quick stab at the key is made. Please get in touch if you discover any work arounds for the above bugs or even if you need more detail on them. "long dah" link - "PTT too slow" link -

Friday, 6 June 2014

President Lincoln II V-3 10m (28MHz) all mode transceiver

Just received the new President Lincoln II V-3 mobile 10m transceiver from Nevada Communications. They delivered promptly (within 36 hrs) and seem to be the only company selling the latest version. All the others are relying on customer ignorance to get rid of all their old versions. Nevada have a great service department in case of problems which lead me to make my purchase from them alone. There really is no competition out there, go Nevada! Straight away I noticed that the clarifier had to be moved to 2 o'clock in cw mode to hear stations coming back to my transmission. I hooked up an automatic keyer and paddle to the cw jack and set it to around 24WPM. I noticed that on every commencement of transmission (i.e key closure) the set transmitted an initial long "dah" tone independent of how long the key was closed. This is very annoying when you want to begin a transmission with a "di" or if you hesitate too long between words and the rig unkeys then keys again with an unwanted long "dah". It was possible to work round these flaws in the transceiver firmware, but I wish the reviews of these types of radio would test cw as part of their testing. The initial transmit error is by far the more serious problem for a cw operator, hopefully president will correct this glitch in future firmware revisions. CW rx bandwidth seems to be asymetric around the centre frequency -3KHz -> 0 -> +1KHz (centre being around 600Hz audible tone) allowing anyone in that 4KHz range to be clearly audible. The clarifier is rx only and has +/- 1.5Khz travel which is sensible, but with +/- 150 degree for +/- 1.5KHz means roughly 10Hz per degree of you can imagine this is rather too lively to be comfortable. The clarifier knob is mounted on it's own with no concentic control rings to get in the way (sensible), but it's diameter is only 9mm so it's hard to control. The push buttons on the front panel seem very stiff, you have to hold the set whilst pushing till you hear a click. I can't imagine this being acceptible for any type of operation except when the radio is secured to a surface. Maybe these will ease off as the set ages, time will tell. Audio sounds poor compared to any Ham radio, with a high hiss which has nothing to do with background noise. This can be dulled by a "hi-cut" feature, but unfortunately it affects the intelligebility of rx'd stns also. In SSB rx, there seems to be an oddity in the audio that sounds distorted if not absolutely tuned in perfectly. This leads to constantly titivating the clarifier which gets tiring. Hey ho mustn't get too does do what it says on the tin...just! Otherwise I worked a few stations without a hitch with tx good audio reports. All in all I have a 10m all mode that is really a CB with ideas above it's station. I do believe that there is currently no other CB competition to it out there (if you wish CW mode), so if you have money to burn and simply must have a 10m only cw capable rig for the car then this is the only choice.