Saturday 27 February 2016

Sommercamp Yaesu FT-290R back in operation

After about 15 years of little or no morse practice, my CW is dog slow and I can barely even follow a conversation at  moderate speeds.
Fortunately a friend nearby suffers from the same problem. He holds a German class "E" license which restricts him to a limited selection of ham bands, while I have an "A" license, permitting full access to all ham bands. So the wonderful Pixie I assembled a little while ago is not an option here.
We both have shortwave rigs, but neither of us has a proper antenna out there, nor does the bulky equipment have a very good WAF in our families.

So 2m sounded like a great option to get back into CW, with the added benefit of not exposing half the continent to our noobish morse code.

I do own a used, mid 80s (that's 1980s, for you young whippersnappers) Sommerkamp branded Yaesu FT-290R VHF multi-mode rig. I hadn't used that for over ten years.

The NiCad batteries (from around 2000), are still undergoing the "alive" procedure in my old Conrad Charge Manager 2000 which will take about a week for the 8 cells.

An other problem caused more pain: The foam padding in the battery compartment had turned into a black, gooey substance that was about to work it's way into the NiCad's plastic tubing.
I had to sctatch that off with a spudger and wipe everything clean.

Half liquified foam 
Same thing with the rear panel. Some of the foam already stuck to the wire insulation and the components of the PCB. I don't think I got all of it out, but did the best I could.

Foam residue everywhere
So if you have an old FT-290R, remove the foam ASAP, that'll save you a lot of trouble.
Apart from that, this thing is built like a tank and deserves a "they don't make 'em like that any more" rating.

Sunday 21 February 2016

CX-10 - Extending the flight range

Extending the Cheerson / Sanlianhuan CX-10 C flight range

This mod is not my original idea. I've found it here and here. Unfortunately I could not find any information about the additional range gained by the antenna mod. We can fix that.

Also see my video about the same topic here.

The antenna mod

The antenna mod cound hardly be simpler. The transmitter comes apart easily:

  •  remove the screws at the bottom and the handles. Also pry out the on/off switch
  • The transmitter can then be carefully be pulled apart. Take care of the battery cables

  • The antenna wire can easily be located on the transceiver module

  • Drill a small hole through the top cover just above the tranceiver module and stick the antenna wire through it.

  • Put it all back together. Done

What's the range gain?

Now for the part I was most interested in:
I did my range tests in the woods where I was sure not to have any 2,4GHz interference from WiFi or other LPD appliances. The results are pretty clear.

Setup Range (m) Range (ft)
Original 10C controller (orange)26m 85ft
Modified 10C controller (orange) 35m 115ft
Original 10A controller (black) 25m 82ft
Modified 10A controller (black) 36m 118ft
All distances are measured on a horizontal path. The drone's flight level was about 2 meters. The range indicates the distance between the remote control and the spot where the CX-10 crashed because it lost the connection.
Still extracted from video.

The attainable height has also increased to the point that I find it hard to see the craft in the air. But I haven't found a reliable way to measure heights.

Bottom line

Yes, it is totally worth it. The mod is easy and safe for beginners and the nearly extra 10 Meters make quite a difference. I had lost control of the drone a couple of times and had to climb my garage roof to recover it, This hasn't happened since.

PS: Banggood has the CX-10C on sale for under 20€ now.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Painless Surface Pro 3 Windows 10 migration

Today I upgraded my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 from Windows 8.1 pro to Windows 10 pro.
I was a bit worried about odd stuff like old Java versions I need for compatibility reasons and numerous development and network tools. Moreover, my work machine is a domain member and sits behind a HTTP-Proxy.
It turned out to be the most painless upgrade ever:

  1. Download the GetWin10 tool from Microsoft and run it.
  2. After a while it asked me if I wanted to keep my apps and data. Yes, of course!
  3. All of that took less than an hour and then some to recognize my external monitor.
  4. Another round of Windows and "Store" updates
  5. Run "iexplore.exe" from the command line and keep it in the task bar
  6. Remove Edge from the task bar. (Sorry, Edge just doesn't feel right for me, yet)
Upgrading Windows has never been easier
That's it. If I find any problems, I'll list them down below.

PS: If you're behind a proxy, you have to let the "metro-world" know about that. In an Admin-CMD shell, type:
 netsh.exe winhttp import proxy source=ie
Otherwise windows activation will fail.

List of problems encountered:

  • Some signed macros in office documents won't run. Cause still unknown.

Thursday 4 February 2016

DSO 138 firmware updates

DSO138 firmware update

A little while ago, I built the DSO 138 and blogged about it.
I was a bit disappointed at first to that JYE Tech wouldn't publish any new firmware releases, because the scope appears to have quite a bit untapped potential. Specifically the USB-Port.

So I was pleased to stumble over an announcment that they made the latest version available to the public. No USB support yet, but some great improvements like better zeroing.

The update process is pretty simple and you'll find an instructional video here.

Bill of materials

You need:

The process

  • Close the jumpers 1 and 2 on the back of the PCB

  • Connect the USB-Serial Adapter
  • Get the flash upload utility ready
    The serial port number depends on your PC configuration.
    Check in the device-manager which com-port appeared when you plugged
    in the USB-Serial adapter
  • Power up the scope
    The screen will light up
  • Be brave
  • Select the .hex file
  • Wait
  • Disconnect power and the USB adapter and re-open Jumper 1 and 2. This works great with solder wick, but you can also use the dry tip of the iron to remove the solder.
  • Power up
    New splash screen.
    Although both grammar and spelling suggest otherwise, the firmware is  pretty solid.