Thursday, 5 September 2019

UV9RPlus - Programming the water proof Baofeng radio for HAM use

Baofeng UV-9RPlus

Advantages of the UV9R Plus over the UV-5R series

Quick review of the Baofeng UV-9R Plus: I had an UV5R for quite a while now as my primary handheld for HAM radio. There is a lot of documentation about the UV5R out there and I quite like it for it's long battery runtime.
Waterproof connector

But as an outdoor enthusiast, rain, dirt and moisture was a concern. So I went for the UV-9R Plus when Banggood had a promo. It feels quite a bit more rugged than the 5R. The higher output power (the label on the back claims an unlikely 15W) and the 8000mAh battery (well, that has to be seen, I haven't measured the actual capacity) were not really a factor for me. But it is sure nice to have three power levels to choose from.
Banggod has a promo from time to time when it sells for about the same price as the uv5r.


Programming the UV9RPlus with Chirp in Windows 10

The programming cable

Thr programming cable with its odd connector

I got the programming cable from Banggood:


The cable was a little over 5 bucks at the time of writing. It has a Baofeng label (unlike my UV5R programming cable described here) and has the Prolific USB2Serial bridge chip, which requires a driver, of course. My windows found the driver itself with the "update driver" function of the device manager.
The USB Vendor ID identifies it as a Prolific bridge

Once the driver has installed, it comes up as a serial port

Chirp settings

There has been some controversy in the Chirp forum whether or not the UV9R Plus was supported or not. My finding is, that while it is not explicitly listed as a supported device, it appears to behave like the UV-82WP.
The first thing to do in Chirp is to download the radio's original configuration, and save that, just in case, and then work from that configuration.
Your COM port number will probably be different
The cool thing is that you can copy your channel memories from your UV-5R over to the UV-9R Plus, with a simple copy/paste.
My memory channels
I recommend the following basic settings for HAM radio operations. The other settings are mostly irrelevant.
Basic settings UV9RPlus

Final remarks

Why Baofeng advertises it's otherwise decent product with false specs is most likely a very questionable marketing stunt. A quick web search indicates, that the actual RF output power ist around 7W max, which does not make that much of a difference from the usual 5watters.
Keep in mind that doubling the power adds only one S-level on the receiving side. It might give you a bit of an edge over the UV5R, with it's 4 watts.
I still have to measure the battery capacity. For a 8000mAh it seems a little light to me.
The case has "Digital Mobile Radio" engraved in it. - It's not DMR. It is a traditional analog FM radio. It is CPU controlled and has a LCD display, but that does not make it a "Digital Mobile Radio".
In Germany most repeaters have been modified to conform with the 12.5kHz channel spacing. Therefore the N-FM (2.5kHz) is the FM-deviation of choice for repeater operation, whereas for other applications like the SO50 satellite, 5kHz wide FM is still correct.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Static Routes in Ubuntu 18.04.1

How to set permanent static routes in Ubuntu 18.04

New: netplan

For a somewhat strange Linux cluster configuration, I needed to set a few static routes. Other than suggested in some HOWTOs, the configuration is not in /etc/network/interface but (as it also says in the interface file)  in the /etc/netplan directory. In my case, in a file named 01-netcfg.yaml, with the following structure:

----8x---- cut here ----- 8X-------

network:
        version: 2
        renderer: networkd
        ethernets:
                ens170:
                        dhcp4: no
                        addresses: [192.168.10.145/24]
                        gateway4: 192.168.10.1
                        nameservers:
                                addresses: [192.168.1.254,192.168.1.253]
                                search: [mydomain.com]
                        routes:
                        - to: 192.168.20.90/32
                          via: 192.168.10.1
                        - to: 192.168.20.91/32
                          via: 192.168.10.1

                ens180:
                        dhcp4: no
                        addresses: [192.168.20.145/24]
                        routes:
                        - to: 192.168.20.0(24
                          via: 192.168.20.1


----8x---- cut here ----- 8X-------
As you can see, the machine has two interfaces on different subnets, but needs to talk to two machines on the other interface's VLAN via the primary interface. Therefore the static host routes.
Don't ask why. It is a long&sad story that does not make a lot of sense.

But there you have it:
In the routes section just add the - to:  and via: statements to specify the target subnet and the gateway to be used to get there.

Engage!

To activate the change, issue the
netplan apply
command (with sudo, of course if needed.)

Monday, 15 April 2019

Baofeng UV-5R programming with Windows 10

How to program the Baofeng UV-5R from a Windows 10 PC

Driver Installation

I needed to make some changes to my Baofeng UV-5R memory settings. Doing that manually is very unpleasant, and I have a programming cable, of course.
It is this one, that is not even labelled, but works great. (Important to note: it does not have the FTDI chip)
The most important thing is to have the right driver installed. The adapter acts a serial interface adapter and needs a driver for that.

USB ID of the adapter
I googled the ID of the adapter. The nearest match was the CH340 from wch.com. The driver can be downloaded from here.
The programming adapter apparently has to be plugged in when running the setup (with Admin rights), otherwise the driver installation failed on my machine.

Successful driver installation
To confirm the successful installation, check your device-manager. There should now be a new serial port.  Com3, in my case.
New Com-Port (3)
Once the programming cable is recognized as a serial port, we can proceed with the programming software

Chirp installation

Chirp is a fantastic piece of software that allows to program a wide variety of radios. Chirp can be downloaded from here. The daily build usually is the best version to use.
Chose the UV-5R
The serial adapter connects to the Mic/Speaker socket

I usually download the current setup from the radio, modify it and upload it to the radio.

Programming hints

It is absolutely not essential, but I like to see my name and call sign when I turn on the radio:
Power-on message
For normal ham-radio operation, these advanced settings work great for me:


Simplex programming

For normal simplex work, I use the old fashioned, wide deviation FM settings. That might vary from region to region.
Simplex Channel example
There are some unused settings here for the tone squelch. The important bit is to have the Duplex field empty.

Repeater programming

For the local repeaters, tone mode settings depend on your local requirements. Here is a very simple example for a 2m repeater:
Repeater example
The 2m repeaters in my IARU region have negative 600kHz offset for their input. This repeater doesn't need any tones.

Prevent transmission

Sometimes you might want to just listen in and be 100% sure you don't interfere with a service you have no license for. In that case, set Duplex to "off".
Duplex off = no TX
If you press the PTT key, the radio won't transmit. An interesting feature for those not-yet holding a ham-radio license.


Friday, 15 March 2019

Microsoft Surface DVI-Adapter problem solved

Mini-DP to DVI adapter problems with Microsoft surface

This problem affects all Microsoft Surface PCs (Surface Pro 4 and newer / Laptop 1+2) using the "brick" type dock rather than the older stands. Our good quality Eizo monitors turned black during work or were not recognized by the Surface PC, when conected with a mini Display Port (MiniDP) to DVI cable or adapter.

Microsoft's recommendations

Microsoft recommends two adapters here on their website. Unfortunately none of these is available inside the EU at the moment. So I ordered the "Cable Matters mDP-to-DVI (model 101022)" directly from the US to try it out.
And sure enough it worked. But I need about 50 of them and would have to get someone to import them to Germany. Too much trouble for my suppliers.

First result:

  • Cable Matters model 101022 works perfectly

More research

I then ordered the other adapter from "gofanco" also directly from Amazon US. That has not arrived yet, but in the meantime, I had a closer look at the specs of the gofanco, specifically the chipset:
  • Chipset: Parade PS171

Use the force!

So if the Cable Matters adapter works, and the gofanco has a PS171 chipset, the next step is to find out what chipset Cable Matters uses. If it is the PS171, too, we have a well founded theory.
Only one way to find out: We cracked the case open carefully to reveal this:
Inside the CableMatters 101022
I needed a microscope to be sure, but this is a PS171 chip. 

Alternatives to Microsoft's recommendation

The DeLOCK mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter 62603 lists the same PS171 chipset on it's spec sheet here. And also shares other buzzwords like "Eyefinity" on the list.

I ordered one and I'll report back when we tried it out.
EDIT 2019-03-27:
We had one user testing the DeLOCK 62603 adapter for over a week without any problems. In the meantime, the gofanco adapter arrived from Amazon US. That one (, being recommended by Microsoft,) also works as expected.

Conclusion

For Microsoft Surface pro (Version 4 and newer) and Surface Laptop (Version 1 and 2)  with the new surface dock, use miniDP to DVI-Adapters with the Parade PS171 chip.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Trend Micro Office Scan causes bluescreen (BSOD): PDC Watchdog timeout


PDC WATCHDOG TIMEOUT

We had complaints from users, mainly with Microsoft Surface Pro, that they suffered from random bluescreens (BSOD - Blue Screen Of Death).

BSOD: PDC Watchdog timeout

Trend's typo

The solution is a bit hard to find, because in their support database, they refer to the problem as

"DPC Watchdog Violation"
(at 2019-02-21)
rather than:
"PDC Watchdog Violation"

So I couldn't find it, when I googled it. The solution is described on their site here:


They refer to it as "Solution ID:1121872"  the file is "Ti_1500_win_en_AMSP60_hfb1278.exe"

Also promising, although we already should have that (from Oct 2018):
Solution ID:1121200  File: "Ti_1500_win_en_AMSP60_hfb1248.exe" (see here)

Also for OfficeScan?

From the support website, it is not clear of that also works for Office Scan.
We haven't rolled the fix out at this moment. I'll add a success/fail notice once we have done that.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

SSTV from the ISS - or - How Windows 1803 ruined my weekend

Dell Latitude e6400 audio problems - or so I thought

Ok, I had noticed that for a while my trusty old Dell Latitude e6400 had stuttered on audio playback. But as I hardly ever use that Laptop for video or music, I didn't really care.
Big mistake!

SSTV weekend on the ISS

I was very happy to read, that ARISS announced an SSTV event  for February 8th to 10th. After some initial tests from home on Saturday. I decided that a trip to the open fields with some tech stuff to capture images from space was a great father & son activity.
The Saturday tests went ok with the antenna indoors and my daughter's laptop:
Not great, but promising SSTV image
So far so good. So I packed my SDRPlay RSP2pro, a HB9CV antenna, some cables and my Dell Laptop.

In the field

The plan was to capture the ISS-pass from 12:50 to 13:00 CET with SDRuno and process the captured I/Q data later. This went quite well and thanks to the fact that we could see all of the satellite band, we heard interesting FM traffic on 145.960MHz from stations all over Europe.

On a handheld, we would have missed
this unexpected signal
When finally the ISS came into view, we saved the whole pass to a .wav I/Q file, at the same time trying to decode the SSTV on my mobile with BlackCat's SSTV app. This worked rather poorly, but as it was very windy, I didn't think much of it.
Despite of that, I knew that audio on the laptop was a bit choppy. But that should not affect the I/Q recordings that didn't pass the sound driver.

Discontinuity!

Ok, once we had that, we wanted to see what we got and replayed the I/Q file to MMSSTV through VB Virtual Audio Cable. (Differnt PC, than before.)
Ouch! That didn't work out.
Ok, I could even hear that, when listening to the recording, approx. every five seconds, the interval between the sync pulses was shorter than expected. This meant, that the Dell Laptop completely froze every 5 seconds, and it was quite possibly not just a sound problem.

Windows 10 Version 1803 broke my Laptop

After re-installing drivers one-by-one from the Dell Support Website, it is extremely likely the storage driver was the culprit: After I had reinstalled the Intel Rapid Storage driver from Dell's site, the problem went away.

I also read here, that disabling the eSATA port in the BIOS fixes the problem. (At the cost of losing the eSATA port.)

Unfortunately my collection of SSTV recordings is pretty much unusable, unless I resort to filling in some silence or noise manually. That Sunday was fun but did not yield any results. (Apart from fixing my laptop in the process.)