N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
October 7, 2018
I have now added yet another page to the site about the separation cable mentioned below. The page lays out the project in complete detail along with a diagram and photos to make the concept as clear as I can. This is a very simple project for anyone who can solder two wires together. The main thing that makes this project easy is the use of EZ modular connectors that allow one to insert the wires one at a time and then trim them to fit. These RJ-12 and or RJ-45 EZ modular connectors are available on Amazon and are relatively inexpensive. I buy them in lots of 50 per package.
October 6, 2018
After a very nice visit with one of my daughters and her family I came home and after dinner I built a 14 foot extension cable for an FT-7900R that combines the control circuit with the external speaker extension by using a CAT-5 cable with the brown/white and brown wire pair soldered to pigtail leads that have a male 3.5 mm mono plug on one and a 3.5 mm inline mono jack on the other. The remaining 3 pairs then have RJ-12 6 conductor plugs installed at both ends o the CAT-5 cable. I built one for my new go-kit radio (an FT-7900R) and it worked so well that I built another one just in case someone needs such an extension cable. Reducing the cable count from two to one really does make the installation much simpler. If anyone out there needs such a cable let me know via the contact me page and I will be happy to build one for you. I can make almost any length that will still work with the radio. Some delay may be required while I obtain the correct length of CAT-5 cable for you. Of course this cable can also be used with the FT-7800R, FT-7900R, FT-8800R and FT8900R.
October 5, 2018
While I wait to hear what MFJ intends to do about my antenna design, I had another project coming to the fore. You may recall that on September 28, my long suffering mic selector decided it had had it with me and stubbornly refused to carry any signals from the headset to the radio. I temporarily replaced it with a new unit but that one only had 2 positions, not 4. If you look at the picture of my operating position you can see that there is a hand mic, a headset and a boom mic. There is also a spot for a possible digital setup if required. I ordered a couple of 15 pin data switches from a company called Monoprice and awaited their arrival which came today. Of course the mailman decided to take his sweet time about delivering the mail so instead of the usual 11:30 it was more like 3 pm when the switches finally got delivered. Is it any wonder that Fedex and UPS are doing so well. Any way, I got to work and by the time dinner was calling me the new 4 port switch was done. After a small hitch that turned out to be a mono plug that was not firmly seated in it's jack. The unit turned out "fine business" as some hams are wont to say. Being a brand new data switch, I expect that this one will last a good deal longer that the recycled ones I used to use. All in all a pretty good day.
October 4, 2018
MFJ has decided to appropriate my "Octopus Antenna" design which was featured in the pages of the December 2007 issue of QST. So far they are unwilling, according to their lawyer, to even give me credit for the design in their marketing. Now I have never required any amateur to obtain my permission to build one of my designs, but to make a commercial product and not even give the designer credit is, to me, defintely, a bit below the belt, as it were. All I am asking for is proper credit for the design. MFJ essentially stole it from the pages of QST and from me. There will have to be consequences. (See Page 9 for an update)
October 3, 2018
Last night at our local ham club meeting, I was asked by one of the members to build him a new 2 meter ground plane antenna. I did so last night after the meeting but in my haste to comply I did not get his telephone number or address. If that person sees this please send me an email with the info on it. Your antenna is ready.
October 2, 2018
I have been taking more photos of the updated Go-Kit in preparation for submitting it for publication. I suddenly realized that if I used battery power, there was no way to prevent that 12 volt DC from flowing back into the on-board power supply. Since I did not have a suitable diode in hand I resorted to an analog solution and installed a dual pole, dual throw heavy duty switch to select either the battery or the power supply but not both. It may be old fashioned but it works every time. On another note I received an Email from MFJ today (as did a lot of other people in the hobby) and was shocked to see a picture of my "Octopus Antenna" that I wrote about in the pages of QST back in December of 2007. I actually won the cover plaque for December with that article. I immediately got in touch with MFJ and reminded their vice president that the design was mine, not theirs, and I would like a little credit for it. He stated that he would get in touch with his marketing people and get a correction into the marketing materials. I am not holding my breath but if a correction does not appear soon, I will consider hiring legal assistance toi pursue this further. They did not even have the forethought to change the name. They call it an "Octopus Antenna" just asd I did back in 2007. Amazing!!!
September 30, 2018
Since I built the first separation cable for my new FT-7900R a few days ago I have built a couple more. The main reason was to increase the length of the cable. However, I also came up with a (I think) neat solution to the separation cable situation. The original from Yaesu actually is two cables, one to connect the control head to the main body and the other to extend the external speaker so it can be near the control head. My solution is to combine these two functions into one cable. The control head separation cable requires 6 lines, a CAT-5 cable has 8 lines. THe other two lines can be used for the external speaker connections. A suitable length of CAT-5 cable (at first 7 feet, later almost 15 feet) was modified to splice a pigtail two conductor line at each end of the cable. The lines used in the CAT-5 cable for the external speaker connection were the brown/white and brown wires. With proper use of heat shrink to insulate and secure the pigtails a mono 3.5mm male plug was connected at one end and a 3.5mm female in line jack was placed at the other end. The other 6 lines were similarly connected to a RJ-12 male at the same end as the mono male plug. At the other end a n RJ-12 female jack was connected to the other end of the 6 lines. Obviously, careful attention was paid to ensure that each wire matched its position at both ends. Testing revealed that the separation cable worked fine business for both radio control and the external speaker connection. With the two cables built this way so far the control head and speaker can be positioned almost 20 feet away from the main body. I have added photos of the new cable at the bottom of the "Large Go-Kit" page.
September 29, 2018
A friend has donated a bunch of stuff for the club members to dig through before the residue winds up in a less friendly place. I noted an MFJ headset and a pair of Koss headphones and pulled them out to see if I could do anything with them. The Koss headphones were easily converted to a 3.5mm stereo plug instead of the 1/4" unit it came with and the audio sounds fine. If I can find some new foam cushions to replace the faded ones it will be good as new. The MFJ headset on the other hand was very strange. It had a 3.5mm mono plug on the audio line and a 1/4" stereo plug on the mic line. I made several attempts to convert both to 3.5mm stereo plugs to fit the standard here at N1GY. All failed to get even receive audio let alone audio out of the mic. Another problem was the construction of the wires connecting the headset to the plugs. They were made from that awful stuff that old phone lines were made from with a combination of threads and copper as the conductors. Awful stuff. Even with some advice from another ham with more experience with that type of wiring, the project was a bust. I suspect there is more wrong with the headset than just the wiring and the connectors. To the trash it goes! Life goes on... On a happier note, I re-measured the extension cable for my Large Go-Kit and found it was not as long as I had thought. Thus, a new cable was designed and built using a 7 foot CAT-5 cable. I was even able to use the two spare wires in the CAT-5 to connect to two pigtails with a mono plug on one end and a mono in-line jack on the other for the external speaker. The other six wires got an RJ-12 male connector at one end and a RJ-12 female connector at the other. It tested out fine and has been added to the radio box. The previous extension cable has not gone to waste. If I use both I can get about 12 feet of separation between the control head and the main body of the radio. The new extension does look much nicer of course since it is one cable instead of two.
September 28, 2018
Last night, after the Tech Net was completed, I sat down at the workbench to try to determine why the mic selector for the IC-706 was no longer passing receive audio to my headset. After many tries, long into the night (try 3AM bed time) I built a new mic selector with only two ports, the hand mic and the headset. That unit was put into service and is apparently working fine. This morning (and afternoon) I tried rebuilding the old mic selector as a three port unit to allow the use of my boom mic as well as the other two. Everything went together well but testing revealed that the selector switch itself had gone belly up. Thus the boom mic is now relegated to interesting historical exhibit. If all else fails I can plug it into the hand mic jack and operate that way but that will not be a neat way to do anything so, until I get another four port data switch to convert into a mic selector, the boom mic is off duty. "Sigh" (Quick Update: a new 4 port data switch has been ordered and construction will begin as soon as it gets here. PS I also bought a spare, just in case).
September 23, 2018
Today I have replaced several pictures in the page about the "Large Go-Kit" with shots of the latest version. The photos of the radio box interior are new as is the photo of the extension and power cables. Some new text has also been edited and or replaced to better describe the new photos. I have also made good on my suggestion of purchasing a larger headset with bigger ear cushions to try to keep out the din that usually surounds any disaster area whether it be the shelters or the EOC or outside. Unfortunately, there is insufficient room inside the box to store the headset so it will have to be carried by the user. One small item that went unmentioned in the main page was that a small 2.5 x 2.5 piece of ABS plastic was added to the box lid to provide a sort of a foot to keep the control head properly viewable by the operator. It also keeps the speaker aimed at said operator.
September 22, 2018
The hits just keep coming. Today and yesterday I made several minor changes to the large go-kit. I was not terribly happy with the 6 conductor flat cable that I was using to connect the control head to the main body of the FT-7900R. So I scrounged up a short (approx 24") length of CAT-5 cable, removed the brown and brown/white pair of wires and added a pair of RJ-12 modular connectors. The new cable works just like the old cable and blends into the black color of the box much better. I also shortened up the audio cable to the external speaker and got rid of a lot of excess cable which made the installation look much neater. I moved the mic hanger a little further away from the external speaker and also painted the spoeaker enclosure flat black to match the rest of the installation. Finally, I constructed a new headset adapter to fit the FT-7900R. I tested the new headset on my FT-7800R and it worked fine. It is stored in the top of the lid of the radio box. In the future, I may purchase a headset with twin earphones and larger cushions to muffle outside noises more. In a post disaster posting the ambient noise is likely to be somewhat loud.
September 19, 2018
Even more changes eventually came to the new "Large Go-Kit". A new and thinner power supply was installed and multiple changes were made in terms of the electrical circuits both 110 AC and 12 VDC. Different switches have been installed, the speaker was moved to the box lid next to the FT-7900R control head and a headphone jack was installed in the speaker housing. This will allow the use of a headset if necessary. THe pictures on the "Large Go-Kit" page have been updated and some new text added while other text that was no longer germane was deleted. I hope that the modifications to the original page and the go kit meet with your approval.
September 7, 2018
Naturally, almost before the virtual ink was dry on the page about the Large Go-Box, modifications were on the horizon. A couple of new photos and a paragraph of new text have been added to the page showing the changes made. Amateur radio projects have a way of evolving as the needs and abilities change. THis project is no different.
August 29, 2018
The photos I took of the new Large Go-Box setup were well received by our local ARES group last night so I am happy with the system at least for now. On another note, I went through the Links Page today and found a couple of broken links. They have been repaired and at least for the moment, all of the links on the page actually do take you to the desired web site.
August 26, 2018
The photos are taken, the text has been written, the new "Large Go-Box" page is up and running on the web site. I apologise in advance for the too busy backgrounds in some of the photos. It was raining quite heavily when the photos were shot so going outside was not an option. I have a feeling that the main use of this unit will be field day as the talk in station or at one of the various public service events our club provides communications for.
August 23, 2018
The latest project at N1GY is coming together nicely. I purchased an FT-7900R from HRO and it arrived in short order. This afternoon was spent programming the radio with about 90 frequencies, most of them repeaters from all over the West Central Florida Section. The power supply that I ordered from Amazon showed up but pre installation testing proved that it was defective, so it is on it's way back to Amazon. The alternate was the power supply that I had in my vehicle for operation from a gen set or line power. To my great surprise and joy it fit into the new Go Box along with the radio, and an external speaker made from 1/2 of an old un-powered PC speaker set. The audio sounds fine. Both the power supply and the radio have their own fans and since the "tool box" is wide open when the radio is in use (the control head is mounted on the underside of the box lid) I do not foresee any overheating problems for either unit. A slightly larger tote box purchased from Target for less than $10 carries several coils of RG-8X coax plus a dual band J-pole that disassembles into a roll up pouch that is less than 19" long. The 33 AH battery which has it's own charger and battery box that I have had for a couple of years now will fit easily into the tote box for transport. While the new "Go-Box" is a significant amount larger than the previous iterations it travels to and from the van on a heavy duty luggage carrier with fairly large wheels. Even in my stage of "old age" I can easily maneuver the system from car to house and back. I plan to take photos and write up the project very soon so watch for a new page in the web site.
August 21, 2018
Dmitriy's adaptors arrived today and they work like gangbusters! I used a standard CAT-5 cable to connect the two adapters once I had them properly installed on the main body of the radio and the control head. The radio fired up fine business and I was able to make calls via the front mountedmic connector no problem. I should point out that on my normal IC-706MKIIG here in the radio room, the mic entry is via the rear mic connector because I use a mic selector to choose between a hand mic (the stock HM-103) or my home brewed headset adapter which uses a computer style headset. Dmitriy's email is firstname.lastname@example.org although Dmitriy appears to live in Germany and indeed the adapters carry a German call sign. I can highly reccommend these adapters and I am not alone. If one copies and pastes the url in my previous post you will see that quite a few hams from all over have made use of his awesome devices. Thank you, Dmitriy.
August 19, 2018
The DIY replacement for the OPC-581 separation cable for the IC-703, 706 series of radios is back on my workbench or at least it soon will be. Dymitri, ex RV4YY, now DM5AL has redesigned the adaptors he created to allow the use of a standard CAT-5 cable to connect the control head to the main body of the radio. They are also cheaper than before and fit the radio better. I have ordered a set and they are being sent by the German Post Office as a priority mailing. I am responsible for providing my own CAT-5 or CAT-6 cable which I already have in stock. Here is the link to the QRZ forum where one can see photos of the devices: https://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/homemade-opc581-remote-cable.471513/page-7#post-4749991 You will have to copy and paste the entire link into your browser. In the interim, I had purchased a stock OPC-581 from another ham and found that it works fine even though the retention clip that fits on the main body of the radio was broken. The insertion of the hold-down bolt into the main body keeps the connector in position. Thus my son's IC706MkIIG is now capable of being separated. With the rarity of the OPC-581 nowadays, I had to pony up over $100 for the stock cable. In contrast Dymitri's adaptors only cost around $37 with shipping and the only extra the buyer has to supply is thje CAT-5 or 6 cable. These are available almost everywhere in lengths to suit almost any installation. I plan on using either 7 or 14 foot long cables depending on the need. I will post more about this project when I have tested the set-up but all the reports from others are good.
August 9, 2018,
I am sorry to report that after testing the transformer mentioned on page 7 of the "UPDATES", it has been determined that one of the windings is shorted out. Thus the transformer has been converted to a rather beefy paperweight. I removed the dangling wires on both sides of the unit and it now resides on my desk as a method of keeping papers from moving around and as a field expedient hand operated weapon. Ah well at least it has a purpose.
August 8, 2018
As you can see, a new "UPDATES From The Radio Room" page has been added. Page 7 was getting a bit long and I probably should have started page 8 a few entries ago. Having, once again been required to call GoDaddy to help me figure out how to maneuver around the Navigation Panel to put Page 8 in the proper place I have written the instructions down on paper and I have posted them on one of my many filing cabinets. It actually is so easy, you would think I could remember how to do it. Each Updates page generally takes a few months to fill up before I need a new page, so the instructions kind of fade into the background. This time I am going to put them up where I can see them.
Ain't growing old fun!!!!
UPDATES from the radio room Page 8