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Topics - RadioRay

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Radio Reviews, Questions and Comments. / The 'Old Standard' FT-817ND.
« on: September 17, 2016, 12:01:42 PM »
I trade/sell radios often.  A bout of medical bills or 'lust' for a different radio sends one or more to the auction block.  However, the one model I come back to is the FT-817 series.  It's not that it's "the best" at any single mode, but it's strong point is that it's "pretty good" at almost everything.  The performance is lower in CW than a KX-3, but only by a little and it's 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of the EXCELLENT KX3.  IT's not a top rated VHF/UHF rig, yet it's perfectly capable of working simplex, repeaters and even through satellites with an Arrow Antenna. Someone a few years ago coined the phrase that sums up the 817 well:

"It's the Swiss Army Knife of radios.

That's why I own one and many accessories, oh and - did I mention that it's a good shortwave radio for listening to broadcasts as well?

The one problem with the 817 series has been relatively high receive current.  The manual very honestly states it as over 400 mA.  However, by turning off the backlight, noise blanker and IPO, mine is well under 400 mA.  Secondly, batteries and charging options have come a long way since the 817 was first introduced. Taking a tip from Survival TechNord, I looked into the new generation of NiMH rechargeable AA batteries, which have capacities around 2500 mA/hour, and take roughly 2,000 recharges!  - WOW! Julian was right-on in his assessment that these are far superior to the Yeasu 1000 or 1400 mA/H internal pack.  They charge faster, are very low self discharge and versatile, in that you can use these AA batteries in consumer devices and in your 817.  I got 16 "Amazon Basics", AA NiMH cells and a smart charger for far less than the Yeasu battery pack - with a capacity of 2400 mA/H, I get an extra 1,000 mA/H above the 'big' Yeasu pack- screaming deal!

Because my mountain/desert walking days are over, I enjoy going to parks and easily accessible places to 'play radio'.  The lower noise and ability to erect a wire antenna is a big plus for me, and a relief fromt he HOA Stasi here at the rental.  The power upgrade , using the AA batteriea makes operating on the internal pack a reality.  For those times when I want more power, I bring my Chinese amplifier, another E-Bay find. I get about 32-35 Watts out, and power both the rig and the amp from an external 4.5 a/H LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery.  The Lithium IRON batteries have built in over/under voltage protection and are NOT the type which suffer "rapid deflagration" when bent, over charged or shorted... 

These Bioenno are considered 'the stable lithium batteries'. It's also rated for 2,000 recharges. and fits into the side pouch of my  , Sherpa bag.  I got the protective rails for my FT-817ND and they are totally worth it!

Between this radio bag, a push-up pole and SOTAbeams type wire antenna, I can have an efficient antenna up and radio station working in under five minutes. 

73/72 de RadioRay   ..._  ._


General Discussion / Gil Watch - Radio Spots
« on: August 19, 2016, 08:59:32 AM »
Gil showed-up in the reverse beacon network, on an Austrian monitor station
14060/17 wpm CW , 19AUG16, 09:48 & 13:30 GMT !

During the early 1970's, th ARRL Handbook in my school library had the image of a simple, crystal controlled, 1/2 Watt 40 meters, direct conversion transceiver being held in one hand and operated while wearing mittens caught my imagination and never let go.  That rig , " The Micro Mountaineer", is still the stuff of legend.  It was likely the first ham 'trail friendly radio' to become generally known.  Designed and built by an avid mountaineer and outdoorsman, it was not designed for comfortable shelves in an air conditioned shack: it's a rig for the real world of snow, sun, dirt and operating inside of your sleeping bag - where it's warm.  Here is a ink to a W7ZOI's website - one of the real poineers of /p  ham radio.

aaaaaand WA7MLH's Excellent page
(WARNING !  Graphic pictures of REAL RADIOS, often open with their wires exposed. )

Real Radio !  I LOVE it !

de RadioRay  ..._  ._

For Sale is my tiny, MTR5b.  Ask anyone and they'll tell you that this is the go anywhere, 9 volt battery powered wonder radio for QRP CW. It draws only 15 milliAmps on receive - yup that means that even on a 9 volt battery, it will run a very long time. It's built by LNR Precision.  The case is a water proof 'kayaker' case: I'll take their word for it's waterproofing...

Here is what I am selling:

1x    MTR5b, I bought it in May and the receipt is included.

1x    American Morse mini-paddles / a $50 value, and modified by me to use a common audio cable (incl.)

1x    3.5mm,  mini-cable for paddles.

1x    Power cord.  The rig is designed for a 9 volt battery, and the MAXIMUM voltage is 12 volts. Do NOT exceed 12.

1x    Kayaker case, with room for your earbuds, batteries and your micro-paddle.

1x    FREE Insured Shipping in CONUS. ( French shipping is more expensive, I'll need to adjust the price :-)

IPrice is only 7 thousand French Francs or $360.00 with shipping - PayPal preferred, or will trade for a large farm in northern Idaho or north/west Montana. (It never hurts to ask - riiiight?)

Here is the LNR Precision page with more details.!/MTR5B-Mountain-Topper/p/64137720/category=10468544

I'm not 'mobile' enough to put this to proper use - and I need some funding for another radio project I am wrenchin' on.

> RadioRay ..._  ._

>>>>====>  PM me here or place a note below for to arrange payment or for questions.

Radio Reviews, Questions and Comments. / MTR5b from LNR Precision
« on: May 28, 2016, 08:45:17 PM »
I recently sold my two band MTR2b (Gil's old one) and a YouKits HB1B to buy the tiny MTR5b.  I feel it was a good trade, though the problem with any specialized rig is that it's - well - specialized.  The MTR2b had a great receiver, but due to it's being optimized for CW, it is narrow - great for CW, but not useful for anything else: specialized: only for CW. That's not a mistake; it's a design function and it pays-off in superb CW performance in an insanely small package! 

The HB1B by YOUkits has an adjustable bandwidth, so that you can listen to SSB and AM shortwave (by zerobeating the signal) and you can make it quite narrow for excellent CW reception. That's a huge plus for a prepper or any person who's budget recommends that one radio do more than simple ham CW. The Hb1B series does that and one a very good power budget in a small, lite box.

The LNR Precision solved a HUGE problem by selling MTR 3 band and 5 band rigs commercially, because MTR's were previously ONLY available at random, during limited runs of a few dozen or perhaps one hundred; on-line. How the designer was able to dedicate the time, I'll never know.  They often sold-out before word spread that they were for sale. Remember, a full-time employed person is the one who designed and kitted these previously. Even IF I had his brain; I would not do it - too much frustration. So, LNR stepping in to produce these commercially - Woo-Hoo!.

I have only one gripe: p (and it's an important one) my MTR5b arrived very poorly aligned. The transmit/receive frequencies were misaligned by a few hundred Hz.  In any rig, it's a sign of poor quality. In a CW only transceiver with a nice, tight receiver bandwidth: that is very poor.  The receiver stages were poorly peaked causing the already mistuned signal to be out of the center of the passband, when it sounded like it was at zerobeat, so -  even weaker in the earbuds. The frequency display was off by a couple of hundred Hz as well .

I read the manual and because it's based on the construction manual by the designer, it had full alignment and calibration instructions. After a bit of dial twidling and 'tweaker-tool-time', my MTR is right on frequency ( error measured in a couple of Hz after warm-up) , I've peaked the receiver front ends and this MTR5b (like it's predecessors ) is VERY HOT and nicely selective!

I'm glad that I ordered it, but dissapointed that LNR did not perform a proper alignment - after all, it's not a kit. I am certain that the pressure is ON LNR Precision to make as many as possible, so it's tempting to accidentally make them 'faster-than-possible'. However, the fact is that they brought an excellent - limited run product to full commercial production and it's unlike anything else on the market.

Good on LNR for producing these commercially, but please; make more bench time for alignment and tighter QA to keep this excellent rig performing as it should.

73/72 de Ray

Ps. I just finished some QSO's using my home brew , magnetic loop / Anti-HOA antenna.  When I got to the part about '2 watts on a 9 v transistor battery' the fellow on the other end thought it was hilarious!

Classifieds / SOLD OUT - - - Two QRP Rigs for Sale -
« on: May 23, 2016, 02:40:13 AM »
I can't STAND it!  I MUST buy the new MTR5b. However, I do not want to cut into my family budget, so am selling other GREAT rigs to cover most of the cost.  Both of my rigs are fully checked, working perfectly and have been in cases when not in actual use.  Prices include shipping.

HB1B Mk3 and SOTAbeams EFHW tuner is sold.  I can afford the radio I just bought!  Both rigs went to good homes.

My Youkits (sold by Vibroplex) HB1B Mk3 QRP rig for 40/20/20/17 & 15 meters, with SOTAbeams EFHW tuner, an EXCELLENT combination for operating from remote environments (or coffee shops...)

 It has a built-in SWR meter and is also a general coverage receiver capable of monitoring SSB and shortwave broadcast stations by zerobeating the broadcast carrier. It have the internal LiPO battery, a wall-wart charger.  It is a very good transceiver for a person who wants both a highly portable CW transceiver and the ability to monitor ham SSB and international/national shortwave programming. They sell new for $299 from Vibroplex. I'll sell mine with my a SOTAbeams EFHW tuner for $225, including shipping . You save  ;D  $74  :D and shipping and get the WORKING EFHW tuner as a bonus. . . PayPal please.

I wanted to post it HERE ( and one other private site ) for a few days first.  Please contact me via this site or  w7asa at yahoo period com .  The sooner this sells, the sooner I can order my MTR5b.

73 de RadioRay  ..._  ._

My/Gil's MTR has sold //

Gil's MTR 2 band transceiver/// SOLD // for 40/20.  You've seen it in videos and read about it here.  It's even been used for our skeds, from his coffee shop. Normally, a fine CW transceiver used by a famous movie star like Gil would cost a million dollars (oh - brother, it's getting deep in here...) but I'll sell it here - shipped - for $130. It comes with spare finals (never needed, but Gil supplied them) , 9 vdc power cord , and the digital mode cord Gil made (I've never used digital on this rig - I'm a code guy. ) Yes, this is the model which was designed to do digital modes and CW, but you'll have to do the websearch on how to do it - I B ignit.)  First PayPal gets it. You will be amazed at how excellent this receiver is. This link is THIS actual radio - from a coffee shop to me in Virginia...

Adolph Hitler learns about QRP - the HARD way.

Video Link:

I really didn't think that this would be THAT funny, but one of the posters on another forum suggested it.

>RadioRay ..._  ._

Classifieds / SOLD // FS: LD5 Transceiver from LNR Precision // SOLD
« on: August 16, 2015, 06:24:12 PM »
I have - up for sale - my LD5.  It's a very good little rig, excellent filtering and DSP!  However, there is no reason for me to have an SSB capable rig, because I do not use it.  Mine has hardly been used, has no scratches, dents, bullet holes or elephant foot prints on it - runs very well. Amazingly, I've only used it inside. You can respond by answering this posting and/or pm'ing me.

It lists for $575 but I'll sell mine for the unbelievably low price of only $450, shipped in CONUS, in it's original factory shipping box, with all standard accessories. (Including something funny called a 'mike-row-foughn', which I have used once to test the rig , then put it back into the box. "Sounds Great!" is what the fellow said of it's audio.) there is a possibility of a trade for HF gear.

Here is the link to their page:!/LD-5/p/39885476/category=10468544

If no quick action here on RP, I'll post it for more money on the usual ham sites.

72/72 de RadioRay  ..._  ._

Antennas / Home Brew Magnetic Loop for the Lower Bands
« on: July 12, 2015, 04:50:44 PM »
After getting to know about magloops by purchasing an AlexLoop (works WELL, BTW) , I have sold it and made a larger loop for the bands from 20 meters down to 60 meters.  Unfortunately, the Soviet surplus high voltage capacitor I ordered was damaged, however, the vendor took care of the situation admirably.  I'd happily shop with him again.

Attached is a picture of the loop at present, while I get the primary loop (feed point) dialed-in  - duck tape and all . . .

The outer loop is 5'3" diameter, made from 7/8" copper Heliax "hardline" that I got as a reel end on E-Bay for far less money than I could buy 1" copper pipe, and it's easy to shape by hand.

The original capacitor arrived damaged, so I used a WW II 'junk' double stator capacitor as a 'butterfly' capacitor so that the lossy rotor contacts are not part of the circuit.  This keeps resistance low and Q/efficiency high.

The tuning capacitor is turned using an old 3:1 reduction drive, Velvet Vernier dial - likely made in 1940-50. This makes finding the SWR dip relatively easy. 

Tune-up is simple:

1.  Peak the RF noise at the desired freq.

2.  Transmit a carried and re-turn the loop capacitor for lowest dip in SWR.

3.  Have fun on the air.

I've been running 5 Watts from the LNR Precision LD5 (which I like a LOT!) with the loop inside of my front room, due to stupid HOA restrictions.  I have been able to participate in my CW nets and people were shocked when they learned that I was running 5 Watts into a home brew loop.

The loop is capable of moderate power levels with the WW II capacitor in there.  There is a limit, because mag loops develop VERY high voltages and voltage can jump across the capacitor plates. My barn-yard math, based on plate spacing, says that I'm good to almost 4 KV, which is right at 100 Watts on most frequencies.  However, 20 - 50 makes more sense.  I hope to try it using my home brew amplifier.

So, that's what I've been doing on this end.  I hope to paint it, cover it with plastic flowers , string it up and hang glass wind chimes and feathers in it, put it in our little garden and declare it a 'Dream Catcher(which , in a way - it IS!)

de RadioRay ..._  ._

This is a review where the only 'test equipment' is a pair of ears and the 'test range' is actual operation of the radio.

Bottom line: An good bargain in a CW (yes, SSB too, but WHY???) HF transceiver.

I'll leave the specifications over on the LNR PRecision page, but the basics are:

40-15 meter operation in CW/SSB (no A.M.)

Rig seems to put out ten Watts at REDLINE. (Why stress the finals for half an S-unit?)

Built in Keyer that works with a straight key too.

S-meter/SWR meter or power out can be displayed numerically or as a bar graph.


DSP (rarely needed, this is a good receiver without it.)

Current drain on receive 350 mA (about the same as an FT-817)

Very good form factor for field work, because it's controls are on TOP, so that you do not need a shelf to put it on like many rigs.


I have not tested it on SSB, but plan to do that, then put the microphone away for when I sell there rig in a few years. (I always seem to do this.)

In actual operation, I have been using this rig with my AlexLoop, small magnetic transmitting loop. I easily reach coast to coast, taped code with SOTA guys on mountains, even listened to TAPRN voice net Sunday on 40m SSB using the loop and had fair to good copy on the net, though I am 2500 miles away and it was still solid daylight - on forty meters.  Good receiver and the AlexLoop helps.

The CW filters come in three pre-programmed widths and one programmable width.  They are quite effective for very crowded band conditions, when all around you have their computers screaming '599' for some silly reason. 

I packeged rig in a Sigg, aluminium case made for mountaineers, contains 3.4 Amp/Hour NiMH battery, a mini-paddle bolted to the inside of the top lid, ear buds and etc. I use a small, multi-pocketed bag to hold it , additional batteries and an "AA" x 10 holder for emergency power, a 10 Watt folding PowerFilm panel, my rhinestone yo-yo and autographed picture of Perry Como.  ;-)

In short, fine rig, a little less than the venerable FT-817, no VHF/UHF but far better filtering for HF.  I prefer to carry an HT and an HF rig so that I can monitor operating in camp on the HT while active on HF: not limited to one or the other.

I like it.  It's right at the edge of what I would spend for it though, being so close to the price buying another FT-817. I think pushing the price downward toward $500 would make them sell like hotcakes.

Additional features: as it arrived, it was a ham band ONLY rig - no SLWing outside of the ham bands.  However, band edges are programmable in menu driven software ( a little tricky the first time) so I spread out each band so that I could listen to shortwave, utilities and etc. EZ-PZ


de RadioRay  ..._  ._

General Discussion / Dream Rig for HF - Kickstart Funding Now.
« on: January 15, 2015, 08:03:53 PM »
Have a look. I've been watching this and have ALREADY pledged my TINY amount of money where my mouth is.  Watch the video and see whether this makes you wake at night to run to the mail box, hoping it's there!

>RadioRay ..._  ._

Technical Corner / RF Noise Source Found
« on: November 08, 2014, 05:09:18 PM »
I've had a source of local noise, but never really tried to track it. However, today I put-up a 'quickie' vee-beam pointed at a friend of mine and when I would switch form the Delta loop to the vee-beam, the noise jumped from S2 to S8!  Several things crossed my mind (Martinis, dancing, becoming Emperor of Earth, a new KX3!!!) however, there was something else - a major difference in the two antennas: location.

1.  The vee-beam terminated near power lines.

2.  The vee-beam passed over the house.

3.  The Delta loop is away from the house and the powerlines.

I decided that it would be better to test the house first.  Seems that the local power company thinks poorly of people who drop the power grid to check for radio frequency interference - at least that's my impression.  So, I tuned to an open spot on a noisy band and began turning breakers off.  When I reached the living room breaker, the RF noise went from S8 to S-unreadable on the meter.  Aaaaah!  Long story short, the family computer system is served by that breaker.  I powered back ON and the noise came back.  It turned out to be the Linksys wifi box, making all that noise!

Now, my RF noise level is basically zero, because it's not merely the remoteness of the old antenna system from the house helping, but the source is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!

Reminds me of a merry tune from 'How The Wizard of Oz SHOULD Have Ended':


de RadioRay ..._  ._

General Discussion / Very Cool - US to South Africa on QRP -VOICE-
« on: November 08, 2014, 07:17:58 AM »
Here's a YouTube video of a voice contact from USA to South Africa. They eventually drop the power to one Watt. Evidently, the US station has a 200 meter long vee-beam (wire beam) antenna, but still, this is impressive! In Morse it would have been quite 'do-able, because of the virtual 13dB+ system gain of CW over HF radio.

On the other hand, this is an attempt at a 15 mW contact using a speaker cone to generate the electricity to run a small transmitter by ... er, ... well yelling Morse code into a bean can.  You just have to see this.

My ex-wife could probably generate a kiloWatt this way, she could yell so loud and long...

73 de RadioRay ..._   ._

Morse Code / Don't Ask / Don't Tell
« on: November 03, 2014, 11:06:08 PM »
. . . or 'Why QRPers Should Remain in The Closet.'

-This Is Based on Using Morse Code (aka: CW) Because of It's Power Efficiency. -

There is a mistaken belief among many ham radio operators that power is everything, a tower will help a little' but you MUST have a lot of power, otherwise the other fellow 'is doing all the work'. How much power?  the Voice of America would sneer at 'only 1.5 KW' ; the maximum power allowed for ham radio operators in the United States.  Many foreign ham radio operator's have power limits based on modern equipment, not spark transmitters and and coherers... (look those bits of radio history up) with maximum legal limits of 400 Watts and even a 10 Watts beginner's licence.  I wish that ALL hams had a 10 Watt limit, but that's not going to happen.  Here is what I've often heard happen on the air when the other fellow finds-out that I am running QRP.

1.   We exchange the formatted pleasantries of QTH, RST, QTH and name. I receive a 569 or more from a fellow and give him a report of say 579 or even 589, if that is what his signal is.  He is tells ma all about his powerful rig and usually not much about his antenna.  We can talk for a long time, but when I get around to running QRP, suddenly it's all fading and etc. 

2.  As above, but I never mention the rig or power and the conversation continues normally.

3.  When I mention my rig and QRP, the other fellow is happily surprised and maybe asks more about my antenna and feedline, if he is really technically savvy.

4.  When I mention my rig and power, the other fellow(s) tell me that I am a liar, because they spent all this money on all this stuff so I MUST not be using low powered, relatively inexpensive equipment to talk with them, especially a simple homebrew rig. I had this happen when I was chatting with a fellow in Belize (SSB at 2 Watts) and a couple of gomers over 1,000 miles away from me were incensed, because they spent all this money on all this stuff' so they were screaming that there 'was no WAY that I was talking to him and' they' could not even hear him.

' If "ignorance is bliss", then why aren't there more happy people?

5.  Occasionally I mention the rig and power and the OTHER fellow let's on that he is also running QRP.  Never would have known, because they had a workable signal, then we both laugh.

I've tried explaining that propagation is first, antenna is second and power . . . down the hill from there, in importance.  Good filters and the knowledge to use them in important. I am horrified to find hams who spend a TON of money on rigs, yet, have no idea how to use their filters or make efficient antennas - then again, nobody ever showed them: multi-generational ignorance = expensive bliss.

Let me explain that I have no problem with people running 100 Watt rigs at 100 watts.  Turn it down to 75 or 50 and NOBODY is going to know the difference.  100 Watts reduced to 50 Watts is 1/2 S-unit on your S-meter; something your ear is not going to realize. However, it's heat for the finals/heatsink to dissipate, uses less juice.  Heck, I even homebrewed a fiddly, semi-stable HF amplifier for my QRP rig to drive.  It -allegedly- can run up to 140 Watts. Frankly, If I can't make it with 50, upping it to 140 is still under 1 S-unit on the other guy's receiver.

So, what think ye, fellow radio-lunatics? 

de RadioRay ..._  ._

Classifieds / UParmored KX1 for sold sold sold (Yes, reeeeeally!)
« on: October 26, 2014, 07:36:49 PM »

I am selling my UParmored KX1.  This is the Elecraft KX1, but built for 'survivability' in the field or on the porch.  It's time for me to bild a new 'gadget' and besides, 'walking' further than the mailbox is not my strong point these days (Ha!). Here is the link:

Pics and a bit more are on the E-bay link and here:


de RadioRay ..._  ._

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