Auto tuners

Ok, so I acquired a YT-1200 automatic tuner some time ago but left it gathering dust as I had always planned to add more bits of wet string to my loft fan dipole for other bands. The tuner was going to go on the long wire that I never got round to making via a 9:1 un-un which is wound but not soldered up and looking sorry for itself in a corner of the workshop. Plus there has been a lot of FT8 activity on 20m anyway and the internal tuner in the FT450D is happy there.

Well, I set this thing up last night and it happily tunes from 80m to 6m (not tried 160m yet). The fan dipole has two elements, one cut for 20m and one for 6m, but I’ve now made FT8 contacts on 40m, 30m, 17m and 15m, not bad for a bit of wire stapled to the rafters and 10W or however much actually makes it out of the tuner.

Yes it’s not a mega-station with a beam or even any kind of external antenna (yet!) but it works for me, aided of course by FT8 being a weak signal mode – my signal must be pretty weak!

Edit: I’ve now managed one FT8 QSO on 12m and today (5/Nov) one on 10m. 80m is probably a lost cause right now as although the tuner seems to tune it ok the rig is not happy. But there is a serious lack of wire up in the loft so not a big surprise.

DV-MEGA

Just got a DV-MEGA single band 70cm Raspberry Pi hat because I wanted to have a fiddle with a hotspot for the MD380. I can get into three (sometimes four) DV repeaters from here but I do like to play with tech. This little board plugs into the Pi’s GPIO connector. I already had a spare Pi 3 from an abandoned PVR project and a PoE power unit so why not. The board will take an SMA arial directly but mine has a dummy load screwed in instead.

I’m using Andy Taylor’s Pi-Star package from http://www.pistar.uk/ – from there one can download a complete image for various boards including the Pi which, when imaged onto an SD card results in a Pi which boots up headless and presents a really nice web interface from which all configuration and monitoring can be carried out.

And it works really well. It is a doddle to set up and configure, especially given an instructional video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5G4gYDdJeQ

Anyway, it also made me reconfigure the MD380 as the codeplug I had made previously was a little disorganised. I now have all four local repeaters set for all the useful talk groups in two zones each (the radio can only have 16 channels each, awkwardly), including a zone for the simplex channels which I had forgotten (!) and a separate zone for my hot spot, that one with the tx power set to low. The channel is set to colour 1, a lot of people seem to use 438MHz as the frequency (NB both tx and rx), and TG9. The slot does not matter as it’s simplex.

Connecting to a talk group is straightforward on the MD380. Menu -> Contacts -> Manual Dial and then enter the TG number e.g. 4400 for the UK wide one and press the PTT. You should hear a voice telling you that you are connected. Use 9990 for the parrot, and 4000 to disconnect. QED.