Progress on Several Projects

As with everything in my life so far, I have trouble focusing on a single project. Radio should be no different. I’m currently trying to get my 2m mobile Yaesu back on the air, build a practice CW setup and figure out SDR on my DVB-T dongle.

The Yaesu just needs an antenna outside. I recently moved into a metal building that acts as an excellent RF shield. That means I have to get and antenna outside to get on the air really at all. As usual, I don’t have much money, so I turn to the Internet and making stuff out of found or cheap materials. I mostly completed my 5/8 wave 2m whip antenna tonight, but I haven’t had the chance to test it. And I haven’t really solved how I’m going to mount it on the roof. Hopefully I can test it soon and it will just work. The “coathanger” antenna I built before worked perfectly, so I’m hoping for the same luck with this one.

The paddles for the CW practice rig are almost built. I’ve finally gathered the parts I need, now I just need to assemble it. Then I get to build the practice keyer. I’m not sure how I really want to do this one. There are several plans for IC based oscillators/keyers that I’ve seen, but I’m leaning toward Arduino for several reasons. I think there are probably already some plans out there for Arduino, so that’s a good place to start. If not, it would be a good exercise for me to better understand the Arduino. It also seems like the Arduino keyer would be pretty easy to modify and improve. Plus I’m dying to make something useful out of the Adruino kit that I recently got. I know I’m pretty late to the party on that one, but at least I’m finally getting started. Better late than never, right?

And finally the SDR. I’m still in the very early screwing around stage. I know less about SDR than I do radio, and that’s really saying something. I did however pick up a faint transmission/conversation somewhere in the 2m band. Pretty amazing for using the crappy little 4″ antenna that came with the dongle and being inside of a big metal box. That seems like it will be a fun little thing to mess with on my little Acer laptop. The app GQRX-SDR was the ticket here. The latest version just detected my dongle and started working. I was tuning around in minutes. It’s built on the GnuRadio framework, but you don’t have to know much about SDR programming to start using it. I was even able to pick up several of the local FM radio stations. Pretty cool.

Anyway, time for bed. I’ve got Easter with the family tomorrow.