Monthly Archives: May 2016

A Tale of Two Radios

KG-UV6D with antennas

KG-UV6D with antennas

I’ve recently bought a couple of Wouxun KG-UV6D handies. The first because it covers the UK 70MHz (4 metre) band, the second one because it was a bargain (£49) as I was so impressed with the first.

What did surprise me was the differences between the two models. I’ll put that down to “continuous improvement” by Wouxun. I’d already noted that the 4m version was different to the one reviewed in this article.

Clearly the 4m/2m version is the earlier of the two. This has a lower capacity battery and the SMA-J (male connector on the radio body.

4M - SMA male antenna connector.

4M – SMA male antenna connector.

4M - lower capacity 1300mAh battery

4M – lower capacity 1300mAh battery

The 2m/70cm version – probably the most common one out there – has the higher capacity battery and the SMA female connector on the radio body. This is the same connector as used on the later KG-UV8D and KG-UV9D radios and a lot of the Japanese Yaecomwood brands.

2m/70cm radio - SMA male antenna connector.

2m/70cm radio – SMA male antenna connector.

2m/70cm higher capacity 1700mAh battery.

2m/70cm higher capacity 1700mAh battery.

Both seem to perform extremely well on receive, they don’t seem to suffer the overload problems of the cheaper Baofeng sets. Looking at the schematics and service manuals posted elesewhere on-line I can see these sets use dual conversion receivers with proper filtering at the first and second IFs. They also have a built-in FM broadcast band tuner.

On transmit the 4m/2m radio was a little disappointing producing 4w on 4m and 5w on 2m. Realistically this wouldn’t be noticed unless the signal was marginal.

Programming can be done from the keyboard or with Wouxun’s own software. This software is a bit picky for me because (a) you need the specific version depending on what bands your radio has (b) It doesn’t run on Windows 8.1 so it needs to be installed on a W7 PC. Fortunately there are two alternatives;  KG-UV Commander – which again doesn’t work for me on W8.1, or the Chirp project which supports these radios and some. Chirp has versions for Linux and Mac OSX.

Power level, CTCSS and narrow/wide band can be programmed on a per-channel basis. This is excellent compared to my older Kenwood and Yaesu radios where the power and bandwidth is a global setting.

Speaker/Mic pinout is the standard Kenwood 2.5mm/3.5mm connector as used by Baoefeng and others. This also accommodates the programming cable.

Good value – definately. I’ll report any further oberservations after using them out and about.

Baofeng UV-3R Programming

uv3r_lashup_IMG_20160513_120021561

A proper lash-up! Baofeng UV-3R programming interface.

I picked up a Baofeng UV-3R (mkII) to play around with. £20 delivered to my door! It should be useful for the transmitter side of a 2m or 70cm APRS tracker.

The programming cable isn’t the standard 3.5/2.5 Kenwood combo normally used by Baofeng, it uses a 4-pole 3.5mm jack for the speaker/mic or programming cable. I used a CP2102 USB serial interface that I keep for these kind of jobs and a spare Nokia phone AV cable which just happened to have the correct jack plug termination.

Finding the UV-3R software was slightly more challenging as it isn’t available on Baofeng’s website. I managed to find it on radioinc.com.  I can also use CHIRP but for some reason it helps to program first with the manufacturer’s software otherwise memories get corrupted and displayed as 666.666.

This radio seems to perform well apart from the annoyance with the volume control. The default function of the rotary control selects the frequency (or memory) and you need to press the VOL key to adjust. Apparently there were second harminic issues with early sets so I’ll be taking a look on test equipment to see how clean it is.

Direwolf Pi

Direwolf Screenshot

Direwolf Screenshot

I am now evaluating Direwolf for HF packet reception on 10.1476MHz. It’s running on a Rasperry Pi 2 with the cheapo Cmedia sound card and the performance looks extremely good. I just need to figure out why I’m getting broken pipe errors though.

I haven’t yet decided whether to run it as stand-alone igate or use it as a TNC in conjunction with Xastir as it provides either AGWPE or KISS type interfaces to external programs.

Update 13th May – I reduced the number of parallel modems from 7 to 3 and this seems to have cured the broken pipe errors. I’m now gating received traffic to APRS-IS using the built-in client. Traffic reported can be seen on aprs.link.