Nagoya RB-400 fell to pieces

Nagoya RB-400 – it just fell to pieces

I purchased a new, unused Nagoya RB-400 lidmount antenna mount from a seller on eBay. After a couple of days of use, I was going to adjust the angle using the hexagon socket screw. When unscrewing it, a part of the mount just fell off (see photo).

I did not overload the mount (largest antenna used while driving was a 65 cm whip). Did I overtight the hexagon scew? Obviously 🙂
I’m quite used to dealing with mechanical stuff and I applied a resonable force while tighting it, to keep the antenna upright while driving but not really enormous force.

Nagoya RB-400 fell to pieces
My brand new Nagoya RB-400 fell to pieces. This ring is not supposed to come off. It is a part of the mechanics keeping the antenna straight up.

I guess it was a manufacturing fault but getting it replaced from the eBay seller would cost me a great part of the price as a new one as the seller policy for returns was that the buyer pays the return cost. Worst case is that it was a construction issue and in that case I will probably soon end up with the same result. I didn’t want this to be bothering me anymore.

Instead I went to a local ham shop and bought another (more expensive) brand and the RB-400 went into the trash.

Anyone else who have experiences like this with the RB-400? My experience with Nagoya products so far is not impressing (see my article on RB-66 rusting scews), so I will probably avoid them in the future.

Nagoya RB-66 rusting screws

I purchased a Nagoya RB-66 lidmount antenna mount from a seller on eBay. The product was new (not second hand used). After two weeks use, I noticed the screws had started rusting.

Nagoya RB-66 rusting scews
Nagoya RB-66 rusting screws

Dear Nagoya. The antenna mount is supposed to be used on cars. Cars are outside all year around, in all kinds of weather conditions. Why don’t you use stainless steel screws? Yes, I know they are more expensive.

I replaced the two screws and the four small hexagon socket screws (they also started to rust) with stainless steel ones so hopefully my problem is solved. But quite annoying. I think a product supposed to be used on a car should be able to handle all year weather conditions and it is quite annoying having to replace parts before being able to use the product properly.

Yaesu FT-818ND QRP and CW keyer

How to operate QRP successfully

Operating ham radio QRP, that is using low power, is probably not a good choise for the new beginner. To successfully operate ham radio QRP you need to use all your skills when it comes to selecting the correct bands, modes, propagation and evauluating current conditions. As a beginner to amateur radio it might be a better idea to start off with for example a 100 watt rig to get a lot of successful QSO:s and acquire knowledge about propagation and conditions first.

However, when you start to know how propagation and band conditions work, operating QRP from a portable location with a small temporary antenna can be an exciting and rewarding challenge. When operating QRP any contact is a success, not just far away DX stations. A contact just 500 or 1000 km:s away using a few watts is really exciting. But operating QRP requires patience. Don’t expect to come home with a log book with hundreds and hundreds of QSO:s.

  • Use CW. It comes through better with small amounts of power than SSB.
  • Listen around on the bands to estimate which bands are open and select the one with most or strongest stations. I usually start off on 10 meters and walk downwards on 12, 15, 17, 20, 30, 40 and 80 meters. If 10 meters is open, it can give you nice contacts with small amounts of power. That is during day time, if it is evening or night you might start off at 30 meters and walk your way down to 40 or 80. But as you know how propagation works, this is not news for you 😉
  • If you have Internet connection, send out a few CQ:s on each band and search for your call on Reverse Beacon Network (enter your callsign in the DX box) to see on what bands you show up and where your signals are strongest.
  • I prefer the WARC bands (12, 17 and 30 meters). They are contest free and generally less crowded.
  • Responding to CQ:s are way more efficient than sending CQ:s yourself. Even though your CQ might be heard, people have a tendency to respond to stronger signals and your will be weak when operating QRP.
  • If you decide to CQ yourself, use the QRP calling frequencies; 28.060, 24.906, 21.060, 18.086, 14.060, 10.116, 7.030 and 3.560 MHz. I usually add “QRP” one time before “PSE K” to indicate that I am operating QRP.

My QRP “go to” band usually is 30 meters. It is often open, it has propagation characteristics between 20 and 40 meters. And I usually get best results on RBN when I work 30 meters.

In the pictures below, I am operating QRP as SM0RGM/6 from a location nr Strömstad, Sweden.

Good luck and hope to see you on the bands! 73 de SM0RGM / OZ0RGM

Reverse Beacon Network spots using my EFHW and QRP 6 watts

Why I love end fed half wave (EFHW) antennas

The antenna seems always to be a compromise between practical matters and performance. While not being the most high performance antenna, I find the end fed half wave (EFHW) a very practical antenna, especially during portable operations.

The EFHW doesn’t need to be straight. It can be bent in angles and be “abused” a lot.

In this video I have a temporary installation in a vacation home (time share) where I am not able to erect any masts, not being able to use trees or other houses as fixation points for my antenna. I used some zip ties only that can be removed without leaving any marks.

The antenna height is far from optimal and the antenna is bent several times. It is also close to the rain gutters made of metal. Still I have fine SWR levels on all bands (10/15/20/40 m) and can work all of Europe on my QRP rig (6 watts) (see the screenshot from Reverse Beacon Network).

Anytone AT-D578UV Toyota Prius installation

Anytone AT-D578UV stealth installation in Toyota Prius (2008)

I wanted to make a “stealth installation” of my Anytone AT-D578UV radio in my Toyota Prius (2008) so I don’t have to worry so much for burglars when parking the car. Below the FM-radio is a compartment, when removed, leaves a space big enough for the radio.

There is plenty of space behind the compartment. I was a bit worried about that issue becase the radio is longer than the depth of the compartment, but it turned out there is enough empty space behind it.

I installed the radio with the programming cable connected as it will be very hard to connect it after the radio is mounted in the car. The microphone is extended and connected using a flat straight ethernet cable and both cables are dropped downwards and pulled out from behind the panel. That way I can easily hide the microphone when parking the car.

When the compartment under the radio is removed (and saved to be reinstalled when selling the car), the space between the metal plates is to wide, so I took a 5 mm nylon cutting bord that I cut into pieces and glued them together to form a suitable spacer and drilled a hole for the mounting screw. I did not use the mounting screws that came with the radio, instead I used one M4x20 mm and one M4x40 mm. On the right side of the radio I used 2 nylon pieces and on the left side 5 or 6. The screws went into the rear holes on the radio and to get some support for the front I used zip tie straps around the radio through the holes in the metal plates.

The GPS was just tucked up behind the navitor screen, just to the right of the speaker.

For power, I routed two 6 mm2 wires directly from the battery (with a 30A fuse close to the battery) and routed them through the left trunk panel and inside the side panels below the doors to the front. The antenna cable went the same way and I didn’t want to drill a hole in the car so I used a trunk lid mount even though the performance for those are often not as good.

Useful videos

These are some useful tutorial videos as you need to uninstall and reinstall the stereo in order to install the Anytone AT-D578UV below it.

Car stereo removal

How to remove trunk interior, left side, for cable rerouting. Use parts of this video. You don’t have remove all interior as the video shows.
Car stereo removal, parts of this video is very useful
Anytone Talker Alias

How to enable Talker Alias on Anytone AT-D878UV / AT-D578UV

With the number of assigned DMR ID:s on radioid.net going over 200.000 we are over the limit of the capacity for the Contact List on the older Anytone models. Anytone:s under estimation in design is not the first in history. Remember Bill Gates saying that no-one, ever, is going to need more than 640 kB RAM?

So we need to select which regions of DMR ID:s to incluide in our contact lists in our Anytone radios.

In addition to that it is a good idea to enable Talker Alias to sort of increase the chance of just not seeing a DMR ID in the display. Not all repeaters supports it though.

  1. Make sure your own Radio ID Name is set in the form “CALLSIGN Name” (your callsign and first name separated with a space). Set your radio on a DMR channel, then MENU -> Settings -> Chan Set -> Radio ID -> select your ID -> Option -> Edit Name -> Confirm
  2. MENU -> Talk Group -> Talker Alias -> Alias Tx Set -> On
  3. MENU -> Talk Group -> Talker Alias -> Alias Rx Dis -> Contact First

Cisco RV160 RFI fix

Cisco RV160 RFI-problems [fixed]

Being an amateur radio operator (or HAM-radio operator) I need to use electronic devices with as low radio emissions as possible in order to keep a low noise level on the shortwave bands (or HF-bands). I found out that my Cisco RV160 router was one of the major sources of radio noise (RFI or Radio Frequency Interference) in my home. It turned out it was easily fixed as the culprit was not the router in itself, but it’s power supply.

The router runs on 12 volts DC (original power supply rated up to 1,5A) which is often available in the ham schack already. So in that case, get rid of the original power supply and hook up the router to your 12 volts DC supply in the shack. In my case, the router was located in another part of the house so I just replaced the power supply with another, transformer based power supply. In my case, a Mascot 6823, rated for 12 volts DC, 1A (intermittently up to 1,3A). Even though not the same amp rating as the original, it seems to be sufficient.

My experience with HyEndFed 10/15/20/40/80 meter 5 band antenna MK3 End Fed Half Wave antenna

For what it is, I think the HyEndFed 5 band antenna works very well. The location where I am using it is my wife’s house so there has been some careful negotiations taking place. 🙂 If it was up to me, a 24 meter tower with several beam antennas in the top would be a reasonable choice. But since it was not my decision I had to go for something more low key, stealthy approach.

The property is about 30×36 meters with one high fur tree along one of the sides. A reasonable way of installing a wire antenna is between the roof of the house and the tree. Distance between them is about 26 meters. I wanted to work the HF bands, including 80 meters, but for 26 meters a multiband dipole was out of the question since 2 x 19 meter is too large. I used Google Maps in satellite view to measure the distance between the tree and the house where the other end of the antenna was going to be.

Using Google Maps to measure the distance between the tree and the house for my End Fed Half Wave antenna.

So I started to look into End Fed Half Wave antennas. This would be very practical as one of the end points of the antenna is on the house. My choice fell on HyEndFed 5-band MK3 for 10/15/20/40/80 meters as this antenna has a length of 23 meters.

The order and delivery was super smooth and quick but I was surprised by the 4% card fee HyEnd company charged. According to my dutch wife, this is very common practise in the Netherlands where HyEnd company is located, but I think they should reconsider this when going on an international market.

The product looks high quality and I ordered the one with mounting plate and strain relief option. The antenna is rated for 200 watts SSB but note, that for CW and digital modes, the limit is only 35 watts! If you want to run these modes, you might want to consider another antenna. On their website, the specifications only mention the SSB limits (“Max. Power : 200 watt PEP, SSB.”). I think they should also be clear about the CW and digital modes limits and mention them in the online specifications!

When delivered, the antenna only needs to be adjusted for the 80 meter band. As delivered it will be resonant at about 3550 kHz. Shortening the 80 meter part of the wire by 1 cm will raise the resonance frequency about 4 kHz. This is mentioned in the supplied installation papers. You should cut the antenna to make it resonant on the frequency where you plan to use it the most on 80 meters. It is also recommended to use an antenna tuner on 80 meters in order to be able to use the entire band.

HyEndFed 5-band MK3 antenna
The antenna ready for installation. Note: the spring is not included. It was added by me.

After making a temporary mount of the antenna at approximately 4 meters (later on it will slope from about 10 to 6 meters height), I tuned in on 20 meters, heard a station from Slovenia calling CQ. I got immediate response and a 59 report. Checking the output power on my radio, it was set to only 20 watts. Looks promising.

The wire is discrete so it is a perfect antenna for “stealthy” installations. The fact that my wife didn’t notice the antenna until after 2 days in place seems to proove this. 🙂

When the feeding point is above 2 meters over the ground, no grounding of the antenna is needed but you should put a wave trap on the coax line with at least 4,2 meters of coax between the antenna box and the wave trap.

But even though I used a wave trap I got problems with HF going into my PC making sparkling noices while transmitting on 80 meters outside the resonant frequency (using a matchbox). This was easy resolved by purchasing a 1,5 meter copper ground rod that I drove into the ground and grounded my radios as well as the chassie of the PC.

Note: Do not connect the ground nut on the antenna box and the radios/pc to the same ground rod simultaneusly. This will overlap the wave trap and you will get HF into the shack, onto your radios and PC.

I’ll add more to this article when it is in final position and when I have worked more QSO:s on it. So far it is looking good though.

Connect ham radio rig to Cloudlog (Windows)

By connecting your amateur radio rig using a CAT/CI-V interface to Cloudlog you save a lot of work by getting frequency, mode etc directly from the rig into Cloudlog. This is how you do it using a Windows computer. The computer must be located where the radio is as it will be physically connected via the CAT/CI-V interface to the readio. Cloudlog is normally run on a web server on the Internet, i.e. not necessarily on the computer by the radio (hence the name, Cloudlog ;).

This is a very nice setup if you are running your station remotely. When logging into Cloudlog from a computer on your remote location, you can still get realtime frequency, mode etc from the radio into Cloudlog.

  1. In Cloudlog, click on your callsign (at right in the menu) and go to API keys. Create a new API key and copy it.
  2. Go to OmniRig, download it and install it
  3. Go to CloudLogCAT, find the latest release, download it and install it
  4. Run CloudLogCAT and go to Settings -> CloudLog. Enter your Cloudlog website URL and API key from step 1 above. Click Save.
  5. Go to Settings -> OmniRig. OmniRig window will now open. Select your radio, com port and speed. Save by clicking OK.
    OmniRig settings

If all worked well, frequency, mode etc will be syncing to Cloudlog.
CloudLogCAT syncing to Cloudlog

In Cloudlog, you can click on your callsign (at right) and select Hardware Interfaces. After a couple of seconds your OmniRig connection should show up.
Cloudlog Hardware Interfaces

You can now select this radio under Station / Radio when logging QSO:s.

Recover forgotten password to Cloudlog

I lost my password to my Cloudlog and there is no “forgotten password” built in. I did not succeed by setting $config[‘use_auth’] = false so this is how I did it.

  1. In the root directory of your Cloudlog installation, create a file called pw.php with the following content (edit the $password variable to the password you want in clear text):

    <?php
    $password = 'cleartextpasswordhere';
    echo password_hash($password, PASSWORD_DEFAULT);

  2. If you don’t have the database password, get it by looking in the file application/config/database.php
  3. Access your database using phpMyAdmin using the database credentials in the previous step
  4. Go to the users table and click edit on the row with your username
  5. Use a web browser and go to http://<your cloudlog url>/pw.php and select and copy the displayed password hash.
  6. In the user_password field, paste the password hash from step 5 and click Go to save
  7. Remove the file pw.php from your cloudlog webroot

You can now log in using the new password.