More than just a Ham radio blog.
is an informative, cynical and sometimes humorous look at what is happening in the world of amateur radio.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wouxun KG-UVD1P/L 2m/4m Dual Band Review

I just could not resist the new Wouxun KG-UVD1P/L 2m/4m dual band handheld amateur radio, even though I have far too many portable rigs already. The fact that it was the only radio to ever be produced that was dual band and dual watch on these two bands might have swayed me, but I have become a bit of a fan of this companies products and I really wanted to see if my predictions on how their quality and range improves over time prove true.

Straight out of the box I saw the first improvement, a much better quality charger with a thirteen amp UK plug. Gone is the wall wart charger but so is the ability to use the charger from a cigar socket, it is no big loss to me as I have several of the old type already which I can use on long Raynet incidents or between SOTA activations. The look and feel of the new charger is a good improvement on the old ones, which seemed cheap, tacky and somewhat flimsy.

The antenna was taped to the outside of the box which seemed a bit strange but comparing the size of the rubber duck to that of the ones on the KG-UVD1P 2m/70cm rig and the Wouxun KG-699E it was somewhat longer. Surprisingly it is probably responsible for the improved receive that was the next advancement I found.

I was sat at my PC with the rig just out of the box and just called “GW7AAV testing” while listening back on my MyDEL ML-5189. Much to my surprise my pal Graham GW0HUS called me back. Graham is only 5 miles away but from the same position I could not hear him on the KG-699E. Several test calls later I am convinced that the KG-UVD1P/L is better on both receive and transmit on 4m that the KG-699E and on 2m than the KG-UVD1P. I believe this is only due to a more efficient antenna on both bands, but I have yet to test the theory by trying the supplied antenna on the other rigs. All the rigs have the now familiar reversed SMA antenna connection that had us scratching our heads when we first saw them.

Tests side by side using a Kenwood TH-G71E and a Yaesu VX-7 showed the new Wouxun to be better on receive than both the other rigs, using the supplied antennas. On TX very little difference was noticed but one station reported a little white noise on the Yaesu, and apart from that all stations reported the audio quality very similar. The Yaesu was the quietest, the Kenwood was reported as “just right” and the Wouxun a little louder, but not too loud. The Yaesu had me almost shouting, the Kenwood talking normally and I found I could double my normal distance from the mic with the Wouxun and still be easy to read.

Do not think that I am basing my tests on the S-meter readings either because like its predecessors it reads S9+ or nothing, whatever the signal. In fact the only time I ever saw the S-meter read somewhere in between was when I had some desensing from a nearby commercial transmitter on a SOTA activation.

The build quality of the Wouxun rigs is better than most of those emerging from China but as these are new rigs in the same case as the 2m/70cms version there has been no opportunity to improve the look. To be really picky the plastic of the case feels good but looks a little too shiny. It might not look as tacky if it had a matt finish.

For those familiar with the Wouxun range the controls should be no problem, but the same old issues remain with this rig as the others in the stable, it is a pig to program memories from the keypad. It is however an absolute doddle to do if you have the computer programming cable, which is very cheap to buy and works with Kenwood handies too. It was easy to import my settings in to the software from the 2m/70cm rig delete the 70cm settings and add the channels for 70MHz in their place. I saved the result with a new file name and I imported it in to a use with the new rig. It all took five minute start to finish. Using the keypad would have taken days.

Over all I am impressed, I was not expecting any improvements over the other Wouxuns, I just wanted to be able to carry one rig less up the hills. Previously Helen and I both carried a 2m/70cm KG-UVD1P rig on the hills and I also carried the KG-699E for 4m. This way I can replace my two rigs with one, Helen and I can still communicate on 2m and we can still cover the three bands. I still have the Icom 23cm rig and the Yaesu FT-857 in the rucksack though.

I wonder who will be the first to come up with a good 2 and 4m antenna for SOTA and portable or mobile or even home base?


* No one else makes a rig that does these two bands

* Price.

* Excellent RX audio quality.

* Great RX sensitivity.

* Better immunity to out of band desensing than some more expensive rigs.

* TX audio reported by several people as very good.

* Solid feel and high quality construction almost as good as Japanese rigs.

* Desktop charger supplied with 13amp plug rather than the wall wart

* Very cheap batteries and accessories.

* Clear LCD display.

* Enough memories to never have to use the VFO.

* You can name the memory channels easily with programming cable.

* Cheap programming lead and free software.

* Lighter than my other (Japanese) handhelds.

* CTCSS decode/counter function.

* Voice announcement of functions (if they don’t drive you nuts).

* Narrow TX & RX FM mode available.

* Good battery life.

* Good belt clip.

* Supplied rubber duck works surprisingly well.

* LED torch (Great for finding the fuse box when the lights go out).

* FM radio for when no one is talking to you.

* Stop watch. I almost forgot this one because I only used it once.

* Cheap and easily available accessories from dealers or direct import (eBay).


* Build quality is not quite what we get from the Japanese manufacturers.

* The out of the box wideband nature could lead to problems for those who don’t know their band plan. Tip: use memories for the ham bands and the VFO for out of band listening or use programming software to lock down to just the ham bands.

* Turning repeater shift on for the first time can be 'tricky', but once learnt, it's not difficult. Tip: Read the manual or use memories.

* The S-meter reads full scale even on weak signals.

* Hard to understand manual.

Note: One or two people complained on the net previously that they could not get the USB driver that comes with the Wouxun software working with Windows 7. That would be because you don’t need it with Windows 7 due to USB support being built in. It is no wonder folk screw up their computers; they just don’t know what they are doing. If all else fails read the manual!

For the rig specs see this post: http://www.cqhq.co.uk/2011/06/wouxun-kg-uvd1pl-2m4m-full-dual-band.html

Martyn Lynch and Sons are the offical UK importer and so far this is the only place to get this rig.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

30 years too late- 27MHz SSB CB in the UK

Thirty years ago I would have been jumping around for joy at the news that because of an  ECC Decision as of 24th June 20 the use of 27 MHz SSB CB across the British Isles and Europe is to be harmonised.

The new ruling permits the use of SSB equipment running 12 watts PEP output in the frequency band 26.960 - 27.410 MHz. The ECC Decision came into force on June 24, 2011 and the preferred date for implementation of this ECC Decision by national administrations is October 1, 2011.

Read the ECC Decision ECC/DEC/(11)03 - The harmonised use of frequencies for Citizens’ Band (CB) radio equipment http://www.erodocdb.dk/Docs/doc98/official/pdf/ECCDEC1103.PDF

I wonder how many of us would have made the move to amateur radio if this had been done in 1981. Especially as B class licences were only permitted VHF and above back then. It would have been almost a backward step for someone used to eleven metre DXing to only have 144 and 433 MHz to play on, indeed some of my old chums took a lot longer to see the big picture than I did. If you every have listened on these frequencies you will realise just how often ten metres should be open, but there is no-one on there and yet the eleven metre frequencies are bouncing. Some of those UK pirates will wonder what hit them as all those Cobras and Tristars are dragged from lofts and fired up legally for the first time. What worried me for a long time was the number of familiar voices that could be heard on 27, now they can come out of the closet.

As a ham, think of it as an extension to ten metres. Sure there are lids but we have them on the ham bands too and we always have. I am happy for all the old CBers who never gave up. Thirty years what a wait!

CB is dead, long live CB - Back at you good buddie!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Radio gear sell or swap

There are too few radio rallies these days so...

The Mold and District Amateur Radio Club http://www.madarc.org.uk/ would like to invite all radio amateurs and short wave listeners to a silent key, shack surplus, bring and buy, junk swap and sell evening to be held at 8pm in the Mold Rugby Club Mold in Flintshire North Wales on Wednesday 14th September 2011.

What we hope makes this sale a little different is the quality of some of the silent key items in the sale, which includes an Elecraft K3 and the fact that there is no charge for private sellers. If required a limited number of commercial sellers would be welcomed but please contact Steve GW7AAV (email correct on QRZ.com) in advance for a table reservation. Again no charge for commercial sellers but a small donation to be split 50/50 with the Rugby and Radio clubs would be welcomed.

There should be some very tempting high quality gear on sale as well as some real bargains.

There is a bar too, so team up with your mates and organize a designate driver. Let’s make this a great social evening too and it will be a chance to put faces to callsigns.

In the meantime the club has a lecture on 13th July by Keith GW4OKT on the building, maintenance and use of the Elecraft K series and on the 3rd August Phil VK5SRP will tell us about radio restoration and Ham Radio ‘Down Under’ (http://www.philipstorr.id.au/).

For directions see - http://www.madarc.org.uk/location.html

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Make circuit, kill vampires

My regular readers will have noticed that I have been 'otherwise engaged' of late so I am catching up on the news items I may have missed. One that caught my eye on Southgate ARC News is a ScienceDaily report on a pen that can be used to create flexible electronic circuits. Apparently University of Illinois engineers have developed a silver-inked rollerball pen capable of writing electrical circuits and interconnects on paper, wood and other surfaces. The pen is writing whole new chapters in low-cost, flexible and disposable electronics.
Read the ScienceDaily report at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110628151632.htm

Now me being something of a cynic, a thing is of more interest if I can poke holes in it, so here I go...

You University of Illinois engineers are too late, it has been done before!

In the early 1980s I had a car, 1750cc a Hillman Hunter GLS. In fact over a number of years I had between seven and ten of them, or their equivalents the Sunbeam Rapier and Humber Sceptre. I never paid more than £100 each for them and used to keep all the best bits of the one I was scrapping to embellish the next. The first one I had, had a break in the rear heated window element and I bought a silver-inked fibre pen to repair it. By sticking two strips of tape aligned with the elements and drawing over the gap I was able to carry out an invisible repair to the heating element.

Later I did repairs on a Hi-Fi unit and reinstated burnt out tracks with the silver pen. A couple of CBs had a Ten Metre mod and where part of the new electronics joined the old circuit the pen came in useful again. Lastly I started experimenting with on glass antennas (on perspex actually) by using the pen and copper strip sticky tape. Later I used aluminium flashing tape to do the same. One time I even mad a loading coil by drawing a spiral thread on a plastic pop bottle. My two metre on glass J-pole worked a treat as did a 70cm quad out of the aluminium flashing tape, both real stealth antennas.

So once again University of Illinois engineers, been there, seen that and got the tee shirt. There is nothing new under the sun. One of these pens could be handy to have in your pocket in case you get attacked by vampires, but of course the real interest will not be in the pen but in a printer with their silver based ink.

IOTA and rare WAB via the birds

There are some things in life and in amateur radio that I will never understand. It is not nessasarily the complex stuff that baffles me either. For example some people like spare ribs and to be frank I don't mind them myself, but they are somewhat messy and 75% bone, so why would anyone chose ribs from a menu when for the same price or a little extra they could have a 16 ounce steak? It is totally beyond me. I am not knocking the rib lover, I just don't understand them. So it is with this next news item...

Paul 2E1EUB operating as 2M1EUB/P will be activating some rare Grid Squares on the Amateur Radio satellites over the next two weeks. In a post on the AMSAT bulletin board he says: Leaving for [IOTA] EU-010 [Outer Hebrides] early Sunday morning about 600 mile drive, so don't expect much action the first day! Will catch the ferry I hope on Monday next ...then first stop will be the island of South Uist, moving upwards to Harris and then Lewis. I'll put as much time in on AO7 mode A and B as poss and FO29 etc. This will be a 14 day opp so I'll be around at least a week on the islands then moving North and back down the East . Hope to be QRV on 145.847 USB mode B AO7 and around .50 on mode A. Hope to be active from IO67OV, IO68TF, IO67VJ and others.

Now I am not knocking Paul but to me operating satellites from rare squares is like doing SOTA via repeaters, collecting DX CCs via Echo Link or making love with your socks on. I guess there is some call for this which is why I am puttting it on CQHQ but I don't understand it. Maybe some of the satellite operators can explain the attraction. Everyone to his/her own. Anyway I wish Paul the greatest of success with his venture and if he wants to do those squares on simplex then I would be interested . Paul's 'Sat Van' and the picture of his shack on QRZ look quite impressive so check them out.

Stolen Radio - There is an app for that

In August last year I told you about Hugh Golding G7UOD and online rig register called, Rigregister Online The idea is you keep an online list of all your equipment’s serial numbers and then if they get stolen you can flag it so a buyer will be alerted if someone tries to sell it. Hugh recently contacted me to say the the site is going strong and has a few thousand users now and their listed equipment. There also is a Smart Phone / PDA search tool for checking serials too so you can check out any gear you are buying in the field at rallies, junksales or on a sellers doorstep. Check it out.

Note: If you discover a piece of equipment that is lost or stolen you should notify the police. DO NOT confront the person offering you the equipment ! Give the police the details and tell them the equipment is registered on The Rig Register. Information regarding the owner and contact details can be obtained by them.