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 Choosing gear for operating within power limit

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PostSubject: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 01, 2022 12:19 pm

Hi, advice, help me get this right!

I haven’t got any HF gear yet. I am keen to operate lawfully, using type-approved radio on UK CB, EU SSB CB, and on the amateur bands at 10m and 12m within the power level permitted by my Foundation licence. I expect to mostly be listening but maybe keying up if there’s a net going or something, and probably operating from the car on a hilltop. I know that nobody polices these bands but that’s how I want to work.

(From home I have had some success on 2m with a square of steel placed on top of my flat roof garage with a magmount on, I might try that as well.)

I would like access to all the bands 10m – 12m but don’t need the ‘export power’. I am unlikely to want to open the case. My amateur licence allows 10W PEP.

I think it’s probably got to be President McKinley in export mode. But export mode ups the TX power. There’s an RF power knob but where to set it?

Is it simply a case of getting the President, getting a power meter, then experimenting and memorising the RF knob setting for each band / mode? Or are the menu options clever enough so that I don’t need the power meter? Or shall I just get my head down and do the Intermediate licence. Comments welcome.

Regards Alistair

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 01, 2022 4:32 pm

Hi Alistair,


I can understand your befuddlement over this all as it seems to be one big grey area with contentious and often unreliable advice given.

A CB will have one type of approval, (to include EU directives for SSB/AM), and an Amateur Radio piece of equipment will have another. Technically and therefore argumentatively neither of them cross over(!)
If you modify a 'CB' for expanded frequencies to include the Ham bands then that radio is no longer typed approved. The same if you modify a Ham Radio piece of equipment to cover CB frequencies where power levels etc. now make it non-type approved.

Confused? Of course you are. Wink

Legally you can purchase a SSB CB radio and operate it within the UK under EU law and you can purchase another that is set for 10/12m which would be legal for Amateur Radio, (considering power output for licence level). They both could be exactly the same model such as the President Lincoln II which actually only differ programmatically!!

Does seem rather stupid doesn't it?

There are those that throw caution to the wind and happily 'open-up' these type of radios so that you can do both, (which would make financial sense), but equally there will be others that say you shouldn't.

I can understand the fretting about power levels, I even built a tandem line coupled meter calibrated via a dummy load so that I could conclusively prove my HF output was <=10 watts even with a peak reading circuit included for SSB. (Much, much cheaper than buying a unit that could do the same!) Yet you get an Inter-G lift on 40m and every b*gger is accusing you of running more power.


It's up to you Alistair, (no legal advice is given on my behalf - just to cover base), on how you want to go.

I'd say do whatever makes you happy so long as it isn't to the detriment of others.


Hopefully someone will come along who owns a McKinley and can tell you more about setting power levels....

....and there'll always be someone that says you should be 'progressing' up your licence anyway, 'cos apparently M3, M6 and my own M7 isn't a "real" licence. Wink

(Yes, heard this on air many times! Then they wonder how to attract more members to the amateur radio community - bit friendlier would help!)



All the very best to you,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 01, 2022 5:37 pm

Hi Alistair, 

I'm 100% with you here I use the right radio for the bands I want to operate on. I have dedicated type approved C.B. radios and I have a HF set for the amateur bands. As Vic has already said it's a more expensive way of doing things but with a HF set you can access the lower frequency bands where there is a lot more activity. 

I predominantly use 20 and 40 meters which are open most of the time at the moment. You'll be getting some E skip on 10 and 12 will have some openings but to make the most of your privileges I'd be looking at the lower bands.

73's Gary.


Last edited by GaryWilson on Wed Jun 01, 2022 6:49 pm; edited 1 time in total

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 01, 2022 5:48 pm

Well said Gary and I've got to agree that although high HF is exciting with some Sporadic E activity you regularly get DX distances on those lower bands that you can only dream of unless you've experienced it first hand.

I wish you well with your choices Alistair.
(Yes, HF gear can be expensive but you can often bag a bargain and sometimes it's just plain worth shelling out for some radio fun. Smile )

73
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 01, 2022 7:44 pm

Thanks Victor and Gary

It hadn't occurred to me to get two radios! Maybe I should approach this from the other direction and ask myself which band I would like to transmit on, choose a radio suitable for that, and just be listen-only on other bands. 

I do like the thought of the EU CB bands on SSB as there might be more activity, and that's where the local nets seem to be.

Alistair

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 01, 2022 10:47 pm

I've never owned a CB before joining this Group, and bought an Albrecht AE5890EU to access all the CB Frequencies/Modes. but I really need to read the manual, because by default I am limited to UK 40 Frequencies in all modes, and I'm sure I need to re-program something to get to 27.555 USB.

As regards type approval on the Amateur Bands I've modified radios to transmit outside the programmed specifications on 5Hz (60m) in 2002, when you needed an NoV for spot frequencies shared with the UK MoD.  Bonus for this was opening up an FT-847 for 70MHz (4m), although it has a large sproggy on 45MHz, and because the IF and finals aren't designed for 70MHz, the PEP is limited to about 10 Watts tops, using maximum power from the PSU, and heating up the finals on 6m since it uses the 6m Socket for 4m, long overs and max power will toast the 847, so really is a low power output that needs filtering before driving a 70MHz Linear Amplifier.

So my Amateur Radio was never type approved, however, I won't use it for TX on 11m, even though the SGC SG-235 Smartuner I'm running will tune my dipole on any band the 847 tunes to, and allows 500W PEP, if I used a linear, but practically even the 847, capable of 100W PEP, is normally running just 5W PEP max, on any band HF/VHF. and UHF.

Run anything at max capacity and the life of it is short, best buy a 100 Watt rig and run 10W max and have the thing last a long time I think.

You're best buying second hand to begin with, something like an FT-817 and an older SSB/AM/FM CB, its all radio but keep them separate and you'll never get in any trouble, even if nobody id looking anyway, as many will point out.

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeThu Jun 02, 2022 7:33 am

Hi Alistair,

Good advise given by others already. To add to this I want to applaud you for wanting to stay within your power limits of your foundation licence and using type approved radios for CB. There are a minority out there who abuse the licence privileges which paint the rest of us in a bad light to some full licence operators. With experience, listeners can sometimes tell when a big amp is being used, and not just from big signals, e.g. background hums, fans, stray RF in the voice, slight warbling until the PA systems warm up etc. I sadly have heard two M7s displaying such transmission characteristics fairly recently, one of which I had QSO with who was also practicing wideband audio and belittled me for having such a weak signal and told me I must have an SWR problem.. stupid people like this are not helping us.

Expanding on what Wayne has said regarding using a rig with a higher output available but having it turned down so as not to put strain on it, I feel is a good idea, though I have read (but not had experience of) that some high powered radios don't work so well when dialling the power right down.. maybe someone here has experience of and can chip in on that?

Another reason to have a little more power available to you for the ham bands is that your power output on most bands are limited to 10 W at the antenna, not 10 W out of the back of the radio. There may be instances where you would be allowed to dial it up a watt or two, e.g. if you had a mammoth length of lossy coax in line (going to start another topic in the near future about small amounts of power gains / losses at legal CB and foundation licence power levels and why it might/can matter, so if anyone has any thoughts on that aspect either way it would be great to keep till I write that one).

On using 10m export radios, I can't comment on the McKinley as haven't used, but my 6900 RF output control knob doesn't turn the power up equally as you turn it from left to right. 10 W is about 10 o'clock and then turning it further clockwise it quickly reaches 21 W a long way before it is turned all the way around. I changed the setup of mine to reduce the max power from 35 to 21 W and measured the output not just on the front panel but also on an external power meter with a dummy load. It is used mostly on CB now though as my G90 has a few features I find very useful when operating 10m. My G90 is stock, it is not opened up to 11m and other non-ham bands.

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeSun Jun 05, 2022 3:45 pm

If you haven't already used one I highly recommend a Delta Loop antenna. VERY good transmission and reception
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeSun Jun 05, 2022 9:22 pm

Heard plenty of full calls ripping the arse out of their 1k acoms it’s not limited to m7s
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeTue Jun 07, 2022 2:26 pm

After a few emails I think I have found a supplier who can configure me a McKinley with the expanded channels but with standard RF power, i.e. 4W AM/FM 12W SSB. And they will test it before dispatching it. I will let you know if it works when I get it! 

Alistair

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeTue Jun 07, 2022 2:34 pm

All sounds good Alistair. Choosing gear for operating within power limit 1f44d

Let us know how you get on.
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeTue Jun 07, 2022 6:39 pm

SangueG wrote:
Hi Alistair,

Good advise given by others already. To add to this I want to applaud you for wanting to stay within your power limits of your foundation licence and using type approved radios for CB. There are a minority out there who abuse the licence privileges which paint the rest of us in a bad light to some full licence operators. With experience, listeners can sometimes tell when a big amp is being used, and not just from big signals, e.g. background hums, fans, stray RF in the voice, slight warbling until the PA systems warm up etc. I sadly have heard two M7s displaying such transmission characteristics fairly recently, one of which I had QSO with who was also practicing wideband audio and belittled me for having such a weak signal and told me I must have an SWR problem.. stupid people like this are not helping us.

Expanding on what Wayne has said regarding using a rig with a higher output available but having it turned down so as not to put strain on it, I feel is a good idea, though I have read (but not had experience of) that some high powered radios don't work so well when dialling the power right down.. maybe someone here has experience of and can chip in on that?

Another reason to have a little more power available to you for the ham bands is that your power output on most bands are limited to 10 W at the antenna, not 10 W out of the back of the radio. There may be instances where you would be allowed to dial it up a watt or two, e.g. if you had a mammoth length of lossy coax in line (going to start another topic in the near future about small amounts of power gains / losses at legal CB and foundation licence power levels and why it might/can matter, so if anyone has any thoughts on that aspect either way it would be great to keep till I write that one).

On using 10m export radios, I can't comment on the McKinley as haven't used, but my 6900 RF output control knob doesn't turn the power up equally as you turn it from left to right. 10 W is about 10 o'clock and then turning it further clockwise it quickly reaches 21 W a long way before it is turned all the way around. I changed the setup of mine to reduce the max power from 35 to 21 W and measured the output not just on the front panel but also on an external power meter with a dummy load. It is used mostly on CB now though as my G90 has a few features I find very useful when operating 10m. My G90 is stock, it is not opened up to 11m and other non-ham bands.

Agree entirely, even had a G4 query my 10 Watts on 40m giving him a 59+20 signal, I think he initially thought I was a Foundation Licensee, until I pointed out he had a trapped dipole at 7m AGL, and I had a Random 4.3m vertical/19.3m horizontal 1.81MHz resonant Dipole at 6m AGL, and he had said he was running 100 Watts and was 59+50 here, so the reports fitted as we were both using NVIS HF Antennas for inter-G Propagation.

I basically had more gain both ways as I had more wire in the air.

So you don't need all the power, you just need all the antenna, and if you can a pre-amp on your antenna to improve RX then even better, TX Power is the last option, no point being heard in New Zealand and not hearing them call you back.

I will be running 400Watts soon, as I need to service and test my 600 Watt PEP Yaesu FL-2100Z, as I'm selling it to fund another radio.  Had Radioworld offer just £300 part-ex for it, and I've seen them for sale between £800 to £1,100 on eBay and elsewhere.  So to cut out the middle man I'm going to get it up and running and take video of the Power Meters before and after the Linear, sell it collection only and demonstrate it working here before then pay cash and take it home.

So when I'm ready to test, I'd appreciate signal reports on my 10 Watts, 100 Watts, and 400 Watts.
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeWed Jun 08, 2022 1:45 pm

AlistairT wrote:
After a few emails I think I have found a supplier who can configure me a McKinley with the expanded channels but with standard RF power, i.e. 4W AM/FM 12W SSB. And they will test it before dispatching it. I will let you know if it works when I get it! 

Alistair

It's definitely possible. Inside the radio are two sets of adjustment pots for each mode so that you can set the power for normal legal mode and set the power for expanded mode separately. 

Technically the radio isn't legal to use on CB in export mode, even if you wind down the power, because you can access and transmit on channels outside of the CEPT/UKFM frequencies so it no longer conforms to the type approval it has.

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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeThu Jun 09, 2022 2:22 pm

So, here it is. What I've got is a McKinley, export mode, but the internal pots dialled down and the RF Power menu setting turned back, and bench tested by the supplier to be within the RF output I'd asked for. Many thanks to Andy at Thunderpole for (a) understanding what I wanted and (b) spending time configuring it for me, at no extra charge. I also bought a 1.5m springer and a massive mag mount.

Trying it today in a car park on the Sussex coast, having read the manual and watched a few YouTube demos, I was able to access all the channels I wanted. I scanned the UK40 but nothing much heard. I tried calling on the EU channels, FM and USB, using my CT callsign but no reply. Ditto on 27.555MHz USB. I also tried calling, using my amateur callsign, on 10m (29.60MHz and upwards) and on 12m (24.95MHz) also without response. This was on a weekday lunchtime so probably nobody about.

On receive, it was most interesting to hear quite a few distant stations in foreign languages, particularly strong on 27.580 USB in Italian I think. On 27.555, signals came and went, I did not try and QSK anybody. 

Spent about an hour like this, the radio only slightly warm to the touch.

I did use the built-in SWR meter. On UK ch19 I got to 1.4, on EU ch20 it was 2.0, on 10 metres it was 3.4, and on 12 metres a pretty awful 7.0. Clearly I will need a suitable antenna for 12m if that's where I want to go.

Next time - I have a car park in mind on higher ground in the south downs, or the top of a multi-story, will try there. Would be good to make a contact so I can get an audio report!

Hope this is a useful update, I am pleased with what I've got and look forward to doing more with it.

Regards Alistair
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeThu Jun 09, 2022 3:27 pm

28.450 or 29.450 can't remember but one of them i get contacts on but not used that band for some time.
Got a springer myself and others but love the springer when used on my bmw x5 and forget it is on and then go in Tesco multi carpark don't half twang lol. 
Keep at it you will get a contact soon and start buzzing lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Choosing gear for operating within power limit   Choosing gear for operating within power limit Icon_minitimeFri Jun 10, 2022 5:06 pm

AlistairT wrote:
I also bought a 1.5m springer and a massive mag mount.


I did use the built-in SWR meter. On UK ch19 I got to 1.4, on EU ch20 it was 2.0, on 10 metres it was 3.4, and on 12 metres a pretty awful 7.0. Clearly I will need a suitable antenna for 12m if that's where I want to go.
You need to change that antenna. If you get a Sirio 5000 it has a very wide bandwidth and will cover all of 11m from EU Ch1 to UK Ch40 and most of the 10m band that's got the most activity below 2:1 SWR. You will however need to get the dremel out and chop a bit off. If you're intending to operate static mobile then try to find a full size 1/4 wave whip for CB, Knights CB sell them. That'll be very wide bandwidth and should cover 10,11,12.

On the 10m band don't bother going up to 29MHz, that's where the AM/FM portion is with little activity. The majorty of activity on SSB on 10m is between 28.400 and 28.700.

Today there's been a hell of a lot of activity on 10,11,12m. I've had no problems getting into Italy, Spain, Portugal also on a President McKinley. Talking of which, turn the mic gain down just one notch on it.

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