Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Baofeng UV-5R Low Volume Fix

When I first started transmitting with my UV-5R5, I would sometimes get reports of low volume.  I verified my transmit power was set to "WIDE" (Menu 5) but that didn't seem to matter.  I bought a speaker mic that solved the problem, but when I'm using it as pedestrian I don't want to always carry a speaker mic.

After some googling, I had heard that sometimes the tiny microphone hole gets blocked on the UV-5R.  If you look on the left-hand picture, you'll see how small that mic hole is.  The resolution to this is to either clear out the hole, or widen it.

I disassembled it according to this YouTube video and found that there's a rubber gasket behind the mic hole that has a larger opening than what is drilled in the plastic.  I got out the Dremel and widened the hole so it matched the size of the rubber gasket behind it.  Reassembled, and voila, I had a nice contact with no reports of low volume.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

HF Here I Come

I've been puttering around on 2m and 70cm since getting my Technician license in January.  It's nice to hear other hams chat about their radios and ragchew on the local nets.  It has been a great learning experience and a fun way to get my feet wet.  That's pretty much all I can do anyway with the little HT I have.  There are parts of 6m and 10m that are open to Technicians, but I really wanted to hop on 20m and 40m so I can try my hand at DXing.  Bouncing radio waves off the ionosphere half-way around the world is what has always excited me about amateur radio.

I knew I couldn't get too complacent with a Technician license and had to keep going to get on HF. Back to my two favorite learning resources I mentioned in my last post for some General studying. I'm excited to have passed my General on Superbowl Sunday, 02/07/2016.  That day was full of good news, as I got home and turned on the tube to watch my favorite Denver Broncos win the Superbowl. What a day!

Next up...researching HF rigs.  I've already started looking, and I can tell you I've probably already put more research into HF radios than I have my last car.  HF transceivers are ridiculously expensive.

The Shortlist:

Home/Portable Radios:

  • Kenwood TS-480SAT
  • Yaesu FT-450d
  • Yaesu FT-867d
  • ICOM IC-718

QRP Radios

  • Yaesu FT-817d
  • Elecraft KX3
As I've mentioned before, I really like the idea of portable rigs.  Having young kids and an urge to get outside more often makes me lean toward the QRP radios.  They'd be great when we're travelling or camping as well.  I'm a big fan of light and simple.  In case you're not familiar with QRP, it is amateur radio limited to low-power, typically 5W or less.  I'm a believer...I don't really think you need to blast 100W to have fun. Don't take my word for it, I really enjoyed Cliff N4CCB breaking down Why QRP Works on his QRP School YouTube channel.

KM4QID - Ham it up!

After many years of interest in amateur radio but never quite putting in the time to get a license--I finally did.  I passed my technician test on January 3rd, 2016 and am offically a "ham"! After almost 2 weeks of waiting, I was assigned my call sign "KM4QID" on 01/19/16.  I like it.

Why now?  Because I was given a Baofeng UV-5R5 handheld transceiver by my father-in-law this past Christmas.  I had put it on my Amazon wishlist a while back, hoping to buy it when I got my license.  It was a big surprise to receive it for Christmas!  That was just what I needed to buckle down and pass the test.

I'll admit having some experience homebrewing electronics as a kid probably gave me an easier time than some on the test, but there was still a vast amount of information I wasn't familiar with.  There were two resources I used exclusively to pass the test.  The best was HamExam.org Amateur Radio Practice Exams. If I wasn't in front of a computer and wanted to get some studying in, I really liked the Android app Ham Test Prep.  Best part is that both are free.

The Baofeng UV-5R5 has been pretty good.  I've been able to hit local repeaters, sound quality reportedly is fine, and battery life is excellent.  I added a Nagoya NA-771 antenna (pictured), which helps greatly with reception.  As you can see, I like taking advantage of the portable aspect of the HT. I have a feeling that's going to be my favorite part of the hobby.

I'm pretty excited to be a ham.  Shortwave listening was fun, but I'm stoked to be able to make contacts.

KM4QID Craig

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hammock Camping

The current hammock camping setup. A Hammock Bliss No-See-Um-No-More hammock with built in bug shield (I do live in the South--necessity IMO), and an ENO ProTarp. So far in my backyard hangs it's been a good combo. The day the photo was taken of it, the weather was wet any the inside remained dry.

I've got three goals for this hammock business to work: get more comfortable, find a faster and more reliable way to set it up, and try to rid myself of motion sickness. The last one is particularly a bugger since I hear it's quite rare. I believe a reliable setup will achieve the first goal as well.

So far so good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New to me: Suzuki V-Strom

This past week I took delivery of my new bike, a 2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650, affectionately known among motorcyclists as the "Wee-Strom" because it has a 1000cc big brother. Amazingly, I won it through an eBay auction that I stumbled across in early October. I placed a bid thinking it would never stick, and what do you know, come Sunday morning I was the winner!

Getting it home was interesting...I bought the bike from MaxBMW in New Hampshire. I hatched a plan to fly and ride, but with little Brian only being 3 months old, we thought it best to ship the bike and not have me gone a long weekend. So 2 agonizing weeks later, the bike is finally mine!

Why a new bike? The V-Strom is an altogether better bike for my purposes than my previous ride. Mainly, it's a lot more comfortable all around. The ergonomics are better, the engine is smoother, the wind noise is better on the highway, and so on.  It also is considered a dual-purpose bike that will perform reasonbly well off-road in good conditions, which is where I'd like to go if the opportunity arises. It's no motocross bike, but it'll handle packed dirt and gravel roads easily.