Showing posts from 2016

#OptOutside - Getting Sun On My Radio

I decided to avoid Black Friday and get away from stores, but not site at home watching TV either.

I packed up my Elecraft KX3 and headed for a local park.

The plastic box is for my wire antenna. It has way more stuff than I needed and I think it weighs more than the I may abandon it for future trips. I also brought my 20AH LiFePo3 battery. The voltage didn't drop at all during the entire 3 hours. I'm going to bring a smaller battery next time.

I setup an end-fed wire antenna and operated for about 3 hours. I only made five contacts, but it was still fun. The noise level was much lower than at home.

I need to figure out how to log an NPOTA (National Parks On The Air) contact as I connected to a station in Washington that was calling from a National Park.
The bag is great for the KX3, it is a +Maxpedition Incognito Quad. The inside is just the right size for the KX3, PX3, and my battery. I couldn't have asked for a better fit. There are large and small compartments …

Regional Talkgroups for BrandMester

The BrandMeister team has introduced a set of regional talkgroups. This are similar to the ones we had on C-Bridge.

BrandMeister has added the following US Regional Talk Groups:

Midwest Region TG3169Mountain Region TG3177Mid-Atlantic Region TG3173Northeast Region TG3172Southern Plains Region TG3175Southeast Region TG3174Southwest Region TG3176

Add these to your code plugs as you see fit.

Ham Radio Friendly Fonts

For most people being able to see the difference between the capital letter "O" and a zero is a matter of context. You simply don't see a letter in the middle of a phone number, or a number at the beginning of a word.

This isn't usually a problem on the computer either, the context will usually tell you which is intended.

In some applications the difference is important and context will not always help you out. For people that deal with data in it's raw form it can be harder to figure out which is which from the context.  This is true in ham radio as well. To combat this many people use a slash through the zero to differentiate it from the capital letter "O". It is unfortunate that most computer fonts do not provide the slash.

Paul Young G0HWC of Essex, England created a comprehensive list of fonts include a slash through the zero. Thank you to Paul!

In addition, there is a Morse Code font. No more using hyphen and p…

BrandMeister - DV4Mini

Update 2016-Sep-13 - The creator of the DV4MF2 software has decided to stop updating the software. At this time the DV4 family of products is being designed to support the DMR+ network, not BrandMeister. If you are looking at the DV4Mini for use on the BrandMeister network I would look elsewhere.Please consider the DVMega or OpenSpot/SharkRF products instead.
The DV4Mini is a USB dongle that give the operator an ability to connect into DMR, D-Star, Fusion and other networks.  For DMR both DMR+ and BrandMeister are support.

This discussion will not include setting up the dongle as getting the software to work can be a challenge.  There are a couple of URLs you will need to get started.

DV4Mini Software: DV4MF2 Software:

You will need the DV4MF2 software to use BrandMeister.  But, you must install the DV4Mini software first, then download DV4MF2 and put it into the same folder as the DV4Mini.exe file.
From there you …

Nitecore Charger Case - DVMega

As you've seen in some recent posts I recently setup a DVMega in a DHAP Mini Mega case. This case holds four 18650 batteries. It does not have the ability to charge the batteries internally however.

I looked at a number of chargers and decided I like the Nitecore D4 the best.  It monitors each battery individually.  This allows you to put batteries in at different times and they will each charge correctly.

The charger also comes with a 120v cord and a 12v cord.  I like this because I can charge from solar if I'm in the field or in the car.

Back to the case.  It is the REI Expandable Packing Cube - XS (link below).  It's just the right size for the charger and the two cords.  If you unzip the expansion zipper you could put an extra set of batteries in as well.  The material of this case is thin, I don't think it will afford a lot of protection for the charger. But, that wasn't my motivation for getting it.  I wanted something that would keep everything together. We'…

MicroSD Cards and Small

MicroSD cards are really small.  To make matters worse, I have large fingers and I keep my fingernails short.

Trying to get the MicroSD out of some devices is difficult.  Sometimes just holding onto them is a challenge.

As an example, I setup a DVMega in a DHAP case (link).  The MicroSD card is recessed into the case and I can't reach it.  I end up using a tool to pull out the card.  To deal with this I created a technique to make the card easier to handle.

Using my label maker and some 1/4" tape I made a label and attached it to the MicroSD like a flag. This flag hangs out of the case and makes it easy for me to pull the card when needed.

This has the added benefit of allowing me to label the cards.  I was experimenting with several images, I created different labels so I could remember which image was on each card.
I found this technique handy with my GoPro as well.
I hope you find this tip helpful

ATC Circuit Breakers

RIGrunners from West Mountain Radio are great.  I have several of them.  But, I also feel the need to carry a pouch of extra fuses.

I have seen a number of people plug their power source into the wrong end of their know then end with the 1 amp fuse, not the one labeled "DCIN" and has the 40 amp fuse.  The first time they power something up the circuit breaks.  That sucks.

Recently I became aware of ATC Circuit Breakers from Bussman, or Cooper Industries, or Eaton, whatever they are calling themselves now.

These are small, manual-reset circuit breakers that plug into a standard ATC fuze socket, like the ones found on a RIGrunner.

These circuit breakers are available in 8 different load capacities from 5 to 30 amps.  The specific ratings are 5, 6, 7.5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 amps.  They are colored to match ATC fuses.

You can see these circuit breakers are taller than fuses. For me, this isn't a problem, but it could be in some installations.

I purchased mi…

Getting started with the DVMega and EasyBM

After getting started with DMR I was excited to explore additional capabilities.  I started with the DV4Mini.  I was frustrated with this solution because it really only supports Windows and DMRPlus reflectors.  The BrandMeister team created a new version of the software to work with their network, but I have to either go to the software or the Extended Routing page of the BrandMeister site to change talkgroups.

The DVMega board was an early entry, but I was concerned about complexities in getting it running. When you go to the DVMega web site there is very little information about how to setup and use the board.

I talked with a few different people and decided to take the jump.  I purchased a Raspberry Pi 3, mostly because it has built in Wi-Fi, and a DVMega Dual Band.  Why did I choose the dual band? Not sure, it just seemed like I should.  I also wanted to get a case that would make it easy to carry the system with me.

I decided on the DHAP Mini Mega case.  This is a purpose-built cas…


Emergency Communications, or EMCOM, is a significant element of amateur radio.  As new voice modes are added there is always interest in using the latest technology.

DMR on the Brandmeister network has taken a major step in making DMR much more usable for EMCOM.

The following annoucement was posted in the BrandMeister Facebook group:

Due to the high demand for emergency communications on DMR we have implemented two new (worldwide) talkgroups
TG 9911 - EMCOM USTG 9112 - EMCOM EUPlease keep these talkgroups clear. Use them only for Emergency Communications!
(FAQ: why is there a 9 infront of each TG? The 9 stands for global TGs that are not bound to any country.)
For the PAPA System we have decided to add EMCOM US (9911) to our code plugs.  We intend to create an EMCOM zone with channels for each repeater.

This is being done to discourage use of the talkgroup, except during an emergency, and to make it easier to move between repeaters if you are using the talkgroup.

Listen to the DMR Roundtable …

Handheld Mobile

I have done a variety of things for mobile ops over the years. Currently, I'm using a handheld in my car as I haven't taking the time to mount a mobile yet. I've also used a handheld on my motorcycle.

My preferred mount is the RAM Mount RAM-HOL-BC1U - High Strength Composite Cradle for Devices with Belt Clips.  Wow, that name is a mouth full.  Let's just call it the Mobile Mount.  Here is the official picture from the RAM Mount site.

This holder has a diamond mount on the back.  I used one of these for a long time before I figured out I needed a place to hang a speaker mic.  To do this I simply mounted a piece of metal between the holder and the ball mount.  I rapped the metal with para-cord to give the speaker-mic some grip.  This gives me a great place to put my speaker-mic.  After taking these pictures I see that I should have painted the metal before mounting it.

You will also see that I put some felt pads and rubber on the holder.  This isn't really needed in the…

BrandMeister - Text Messaging

The PAPA System is evaluating the BrandMeister network for it's Motorola MotoTRBO DMR Repeaters. This is one of several posts with information about the features and capabilities of the BrandMeister network. Please see the links at the bottom of this page for reference links.This is not a full description of text messaging, more of a reminder that it is available.  Text messaging is support on the BrandMeister network and you are encouraged to experiment with it.  Text messaging is not a store-and-forward system.  The recipient does need to have their radio on and tuned to a BrandMeister repeater when you send a message to them.

The recipient does not need to be local, they can be connected to any repeater on the BrandMeister network.
Most of the radios allow you to create a set of messages using CPS.  Create some messages and send them to others.

ReferenceBrandMeister Information Website

BrandMeister Dashboard:


BrandMeister - The Hose and Scanning

The BrandMeister Hose has been updated to include scanning capabilities.  When you go to The Hose, you will now see a new "Scanner" option on the menu.

Clicking the "Scanner" button will show you a list of talkgroups.  Put in the talkgroups you would like to listen to and click "Apply" 

The scanner will start running and you will be able to listen to all of the talkgroups.

Have fun!

ReferenceBrandMeister Information Website

BrandMeister Dashboard:

BrandMeister Last Heard:

BrandMeister Hose:

BrandMeister Getting Started Guide:

User Guide:

BrandMeister - Setting Up GPS

The PAPA System is evaluating the BrandMeister network for it's Motorola MotoTRBO DMR Repeaters. This is one of several posts with information about the features and capabilities of the BrandMeister network. Please see the links at the bottom of this page for reference links.The BrandMeister servers have a gateway to for location information.  Setting up GPS support on your radio is easy and once setup works well.  Basic settings can be found at  You will need to update the ARS Radio ID based on your country.  See the country specific page on the BrandMeister wiki for details.  For the US this is

This is a summary of the settings for Motorola Radios

General Settings GPS: On
Network Settings CAI Network: 12 ARS Radio ID: 310999 (this depends on the master) Prefered channel settings ARS: On System/Site Change Enhanced GPS: Off Compressed UDP Data Header: Standard DMR GPS Revert: Selected Data C…