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Hacker Public Radio

Your ideas, projects, opinions - podcasted.

New episodes Monday through Friday.

In-Depth Series

HAM radio, QSK

"I can hear you between my signals." --Definition of QSK This netcast is a personal project. From time to time in my life I've encountered things that I want to share with others. Sharing will be the name of the game here. The topics are sure to be varied, from computers and technology to politics and sociology, from pet peeves to in-depth software how-tos. I'm not sure there's any way to put a classification on what you might hear when you listen, but the hope is that no matter what the subject it will always lead to outrage, thoughtful contemplation, sounds of disgust, a nod of agreement, a fist-shake of righteous indignation. If I can spark some neural activity or inspire a conversation, I have done my job properly. I've already described the netcast to several people who have asked as "80% tech and 20% rant." That might be a good way to sum it up; or it may not. I'm jumping in the car and going along for the ride just like you are. Along the way I hope I put out some interesting information, get tons of feedback from listeners, and overall simply engage the human race (at least the part of it that is listening to me) in a broad dialog. So dip your toes in. The water's fine. You can find the OGG Feed link at the top of the page for downloading the audio episodes to your favorite podcatcher. Let's see where the mood takes us. Intro and Outro music is "Sly Bone" by Larry Seyer.

The Kenwood TS940S Automatic Tuning Unit - MrX | 2019-07-30

In this episode I let you hear the operation of my Kenwood TS940S automatic tuning unit. It had been a while since I’d last transmitted and I was a bit nervous that it might not even work – apparently it still does.

Explaining the controls on my Amateur HF Radio Part 5 - MrX | 2018-11-21

  • The controls covered are

    • AF / RF gain
      • (1A) AF, Audio frequency gain control (Volume)
        Turns the volume up and down
      • (1B) RF, Radiofrequency gain control (From the Kenwood manual)
        RF GAIN is controlled by changing the AGC (Auto Gain Control) threshold voltage. Adjusting the RF GAIN so that the S-meter reading increases to a point just lower than speech peaks. This also reduces noise during reception. For normal operation, this control should be turned fully clockwise for maximum sensitivity.
    • CW VBT (From the Kenwood manual)
      • Carrier Wave Variable Bandwidth Tuning Control
        This control is very similar to the SSB Slope tuning controls. However, with the CW VBT control, both sides of the IF passband are narrowed at the same time.
    • SSB Slope Tune (High pass low pass audio filter)
  • I mention that the radio uses phase locked loop technologies.
    Below is an article in Wikipedia about PLL (Phase locked loop)

  • I mention that the radio doesn’t use valves.
    Below is an article in Wikipedia about valves (Vacuum tubes)

  • Dry joint
    I mention that the radio developed a dry joint
    Below is an article in Wikipedia about soldering that covers dry joints

Explaining the controls on my Amateur HF Radio Part 4 - MrX | 2018-11-07

The three dual function controls covered are


Pitch/AF Tune

  • (2A) Pitch (From the Kenwood manual)
    The CW PITCH control is provided so that you may adjust the pitch or tone of the incoming CW signal so that the tone is pleasing to you. The TS-940S accomplishes this without shifting the actual transmitter or receiver frequency, by shifting the 100kHz IF frequency, just prior to Product detection.

  • (2B) AF Tune (From the Kenwood manual)
    The AF TUNE circuit is just the opposite of the NOTCH circuit. With this control, it is possible to accentuate the desired signal by providing additional rejection of noise and interfering signals whose pitch (tone) falls outside the audio passband. Turn the AF TUNE switch ON and adjust the AF TUNE control to peak the desired signal.


  • (3A) RIT – Receiver incremental Tune
    The RIT control allows shifting the receive frequency without effecting the transmit frequency

  • (3B) XIT – Transmitter incremental Tune
    The XIT control allows shifting the transmit frequency without effecting the receive frequency

Explaining the controls on my Amateur HF Radio Part 3 - MrX | 2018-10-24

Sub Display

Used either to display the time or in graph mode gives a representation of the receiver bandwidth setting when using CW or SSB.

Memories and band keys

Ten memory and band keys to switch either between ten stored memories or to switch between the ten pre-set amateur HF bands when in VFO mode. Up / Down step keys jumps in 1Mhz step.

Antenna Tuner

I tried and failed to find a simple explanation of an antenna tuner it’s a complicated topic, I can at least have a go at explaining how to use a simple manual antenna tuner, hope this makes some sense.

A typical manual Antenna Tuner has two rotatable knobs both interact with each other. The Tuner is used to match a badly tuned antenna to your transmitter. The Tuner is placed in-between the transmitter and antenna. To use it you typically hold down the transmit key while looking at the VSWR meter and rotating one knob at a time in turn repeating this operation until the minimum VSWR is achieved.

If you really want to dive into more detail feel free to follow this link in wikipedia.

Explaining the controls on my Amateur HF Radio Part 2 - MrX | 2018-10-08

Radio Mode and frequency controls on Amateur HF Radio TS940S

The “T-F Set” button is used to set the Transmit frequency when working in split mode. In split mode, you can set the radio to transmits on one frequency and receives on a different frequency.

Explaining the controls on my Amateur HF Radio Part 1 - MrX | 2018-09-26

In this episode, I cover the transmit section controls.

Further info and clarification

Below I’ll cover some of the items I missed or didn’t understand when I recorded my off the cuff episode. If I miss something you may find it in the user manual link above.

Full and Semi break-in mode is used when operating in CW mode (Morse Code). In full break-in mode the radio jumps back into receive the moment the mores key is released this way you can hear if the station is trying to contact in-between each press of the key. This is very demanding on the radio as it must switch very quickly back into receive mode it can also be distracting for the operator hearing hissing noise between each dot and dash. Semi break-in mode is a bit like using VOX mode in speech the radio goes silent between each dot and dash but will return to receive after the mores key is released for a predetermined time interval.

The digital display used on the main display of the TS940S is apparently a Vacuum Fluorescent Display not the more usual LED of the time.

The TS 940S was manufactured around 1986, so unbelievably that means my wonderful radio that to me looks fairly modern is around 30 years Old! I believe this HF radio was top of the line for Kenwood back then.

The Auto and thru button is used to connect the auto tuner in line with the antenna. When AUTO is selected the radio is connected to the Auto internal tuner and then to the antenna. In THRU the radio bypasses the auto tuner and connects the radio directly to the antenna.

The Speech Compressor

During SSB operation it is desirable to increase the relative “talk power” of the transceiver by using speech processor circuitry. The speech processor control is set by using the in and out rotary control. The in control level is set by putting the meter into Comp and adjusting the in control to no more than 10 dB of compression. The out control level is set by putting the meter into ALC and adjusting the out control to ensure the meter stays within the ALC section of the meter.

IC meter position indicates the power transistor collector current

VC meter position indicates the power transistor collector voltage

Noise Blanker 1 (NB1)
For pulse type noise, such as generated by automatic ignition systems.

Noise Blanker 2 (NB2)
For long duration pulse noise, like the Russian woodpecker.

Tuning around the HF 40Mtr band - MrX | 2018-03-01

Tuning around the band

In this episode I tune around a small portion of the HF (High Frequency) band in the 40 Meters section which in the UK covers 7 to 7.2Mhz.

Equipment details

The mode being used was mostly LSB (Lower Side Band)

At the end of the recording I briefly switch mode to to listen to a commercial station on AM (Amplitude modulation).

The radio being used is my trusty and much loved Kenwood TS 940S

The antenna used is a dipole tuned for the 40 Meter band.

I used my trusty Dictaphone and internal microphone to do the recording

If you want to hold private conversations with another party over radio then perhaps amateur radio is not for you as this goes against the whole principle of Amateur Radio.

Listening to amateur radio broadcasts is actively encouraged, and in the UK a licence is not required for listening.

A simple receiver capable of listening to sideband broadcasts and odd bit of long wire is all that's required.

In the past it was common to hear an Amateur operator saying goodbye to any short wave listeners at the end of their conversation. If you listen carefully at about 10 minutes in the station DF2BO says goodbye to anybody still listening.

Stations received

  • DF2BO speaking to Peter VK4ZP in Brisbane Queensland, on 7.16209 MHz

  • CW station calling CQ on 7.00994 MHz, I don't know the callsign or details of the station as I can't read Morse code however I did recognise the distinctive rhythm of the letters C and Q.

  • Transmitting the letters CQ on a particular radio frequency is used as an invitation for any operators listening on that frequency to respond. It is widely used in amateur radio.

  • German station unidentified on 7.15794 MHz

  • DF2BO name, Tom, near Stuttgart speaking to Rob VK2XZ who I can't hear on 7.16200 MHz, then speaking briefly with Chris VK2SR who I can't hear

  • Another brief bit of morse code

  • An unknown commercial station broadcasting on 7.35520 on AM

Some stuff I bought at a recent amateur radio rally - MrX | 2018-02-12

Links to the stuff I bought at a recent amateur radio rally I attended.

What's in my ham shack, part 2 - MrX | 2017-11-08

What's in my ham shack, part 1 - MrX | 2017-11-02

Amateur Radio Round Table #3 - Various Hosts | 2017-10-18

This is the 3rd in the Amateur Radio Round Table series.

Participants in this episode are:

  • Steve, KD0IJP
  • Michael, DL4MGM
  • Ken, N0CALL
  • Russ, K5TUX

No agenda items had been set before recording, so we spent our time answering Ken's questions and allowing the discussion to proceed naturally. Some of the topics of conversation included:

  • What the licensing exams are like in the US as well as Germany.
  • Resonance.
  • Antenna design.
  • RF Modulation

The next Amateur Radio Round Table recording is tentatively set for November 15, 2017 at 18:00 UTC. Watch the HPR email list for any further updates on this and consider joining in the discussion if you are a "ham" or if you aren't but have any interest in the subject.

What's In My Ham Shack - Steve Saner | 2017-09-20

What's In My Ham Shack

In this episode I am starting what I hope will become a series where Amateur Radio operators talk about what equipment they have and use in their Ham Shacks.

Ham Shack Definition

A good definition of exactly what a Ham Shack is can be found on Wikipedia.

Categories of Ham Radio gear

I tend to divide gear into the following categories.

  1. Portable - hand-held devices designed for carrying.
  2. Mobile - equipment that is designed to be used in a vehicle.
  3. Base - gear used in a fixed station environment.
  4. Miscellaneous - other stuff.

My Ham Shack

You can google any of these model numbers to see what the hardware looks like and learn more about it.

Portable Gear

  • Allinco DJ-190 Handy-Talkie
  • Yeasu VX-6R tri-band Handy-Talkie

Mobile Gear

  • Yeasu FT-8800 dual-band radio
  • New Motorolla Mount (NMO) antenna mount
  • Comet B-10nmo mobile antenna
  • Comet SBB-5nmo mobile antenna

Base Station Gear

  • ICOM IC-746 HF+6m+2m radio
  • Grasshopper II vertical HF antenna
  • Unknown brand vertical 2-meter/70-cm base station antenna
  • MFJ-4225MV Switching Power Supply
  • MFJ-949E Manual Antenna Tuner
  • LDG Electronics AT-200Pro II Automatic Antenna Tuner
  • Computer running Xubuntu 16.04
  • West Mountain RIGblaster Advantage digital interface

Miscellaneous Gear

  • MFJ-269C Antenna Analyzer
  • Stereo head-phones and microphone
  • Push-to-Talk pedal
  • RTL-SDR Dongle
  • Collection of various connectors and adaptors

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 9 - MrX | 2017-07-14

In this episode I cover the menus 25 to 40 of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

  • Menu 25, SFT-D - Frequency Shift Direction [ - / + / 0 ] (Duplex shift)

  • Menu 26, OFFSET - Frequency shift amount - Values (MHz) [ 00.000 - 69.990 ]

  • Menu 27, MEM-CH - Store a Memory Channel [ 000 -- 127 ]

  • Menu 28, DEL-CH - Delete a memory channel [ 000 -- 127 ]

  • Menu 29, WT-LED - Display back-light colour (Standby) [ BLUE, ORANGE, PURPLE, OFF ]

  • Menu 30, RX-LED - Display back-light colour (Receive) [ BLUE, ORANGE, PURPLE, OFF ]

  • Menu 31, TX-LED - Display back-light colour (Transmitt) [ BLUE, ORANGE, PURPLE, OFF ]

  • Menu 32, AL-MOD - Alarm Mode, Activated when Orange button Held [ SITE, TONE, CODE ]

  • Menu 33, BAND - Band Selection [VHF/UHF]

  • Menu 34, TDR-AB - Transmit selection in Dual Watch mode [ A / B / OFF ]

  • Menu 35, STE (Squelch Tail Elimination) [ ON / OFF ]

  • Menu 36, RP-STE - Squelch Tail Elimination through a repeater [ 1-10 OFF]

  • Menu 37, RPT-RL - Delay the squelch tail of re-peater [ 1 - 10 OFF ]

  • Menu 38, 38 PONMGS - Power On Message [ Full / MSG ]

  • Menu 39, Roger Beep, Wikipedia [ ON / OFF ]

  • Menu 40 RESET - Restore defaults [ VFO / ALL ]

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 8 - MrX | 2017-07-05

In this episode I cover the menus 12 to 24 of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

  • Menu 12, T-DCS - Transmitter DCS: [ D023N -- D754I , OFF ], DCS Wikpedia

  • Menu 13, 13 T-CTCS - Transmitter CTCSS [ 67.0 -- 254.1, OFF ], CTCSS Wikipedia

  • Menu 14, VOICE - Voice Prompt [ ENG / CHI / OFF ]

  • Menu 15, ANI-ID - Automatic Number ID Baofeng UV-5R

  • Menu 16, DTMFST - DTMF tone of transmit [1, 2, 3, 0]

  • Menu 17, S-CODE - Signal Code [ 1-15 ]

  • Menu 18, SC-REV - Scanner Resume Method (Time, Carrier, Search) [ TO / CO / SE ]

  • Menu 19, PTT-ID - When to send the PTT-ID (Beginning, End Both) [ BOT / EOT BOTH ]

  • Menu 20, PTT-LT - Signal code sending delay. [ 0 -- 30 ]

  • Menu 21, MDF-A - Channel Mode A Display [ NAME / FREQ ]

  • Menu 22, MDF-B - Channel Mode B Display [ NAME / FREQ ]

  • Menu 23, BCL - Busy Channel Lock-out [ OFF / ON ]

  • Menu 24, 24 AUTOLK - Automatic Keypad Lock [ ON/ OFF ]

  • DTMF, Wikipedia

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 7 - MrX | 2017-06-26

In this episode I cover the menus 6 to 11 of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

Link to the Free, open-source tool for programming your amateur radio. It supports a large number of manufacturers and models, as well as provides a way to interface with multiple data sources and formats.

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 6 - MrX | 2017-06-19

In this episode I cover the menus 0 to 5 of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 5 - MrX | 2017-06-12

In this episode I cover the rear and front panel features & controls of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 4 - MrX | 2017-06-06

In this episode I cover the controls and connectors around the outside edge of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

I couldn't find a link to the supposed problem with the headphone socket on the Baofeng UV5R and despite regularly plugging and unplugging the covert earpiece so far mine seems to be working OK as long as I don't push the plug too far in. Perhaps on this radio it is less of a problem than I first thought.

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 3 - MrX | 2017-05-29

This episode will be right up your street if you like rambling podcasts.

I planned to cover the supplied accessories of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver however somewhere along the line I rambled off topic and started blathering on about a whole range of topics.

I cover the VHF / UHF spectrum, radio frequency, wavelength Omni-directional antennas, mains hum time stamp fingerprinting among other things.

Sit back and enjoy.

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 2 - MrX | 2017-05-22

In this episode I go through the general specification of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

Baofeng UV5R VHF/UHF Handset part 1 - MrX | 2017-05-16

In this episode I give a brief introduction and demonstration of the Baofeng UV5R VHF / UHF Hand Held Transceiver

Undocumented features of Baofeng UV-5R Radio - MrX | 2016-07-11

This is a short follow on show listing undocumented features I came across while playing with my new Baofeng UV-5R radio

QSK Netcast 6: The Origin of Open Source - KFive | 2011-02-24

Originally aired on OCTOBER 15TH, 2010
This episode of the QSK Netcast is the audio recording of my talk at Ohio Linux Fest 2010 entitled “The Origin of Open Source.” The talk turned into a strange but, I think, interesting melange of Open Source philosophy, history, sociology and religion. The biggest problem was the poor audio recording equipment used in a very large room so the audio many be difficult to understand in a few places. I did what I could to clean it up using Audacity, but it’s simply not great. Hope everyone enjoys it, though. I’m going to attempt to put up written transcripts of all my episodes starting very soon.

QSK: Episode 5: You're Driving Me Crazy - KFive | 2010-12-16

In this episode of the QSK Netcast, your hero takes his road rage into the netcast arena. With a top-ten list of bad driving buffoonery to choose from, I stand on my soapbox for an entire episode and spout off to my heart's content. Be warned, the explicit tag on this episode means EXPLICIT. No two ways about it. It just so happens that when I'm passionate about something, I don't hold anything back. Please enjoy this latest episode and tell all your friends about the show. Don't forget to send feedback, too. I'd love to hear what you think.

QSK Episode 4: AM vs. FM - KFive | 2010-11-24

After a discussion on IRC that I've had several times before over the past few years, I decided to put my thoughts on the difference between AM and FM radio into a podcast. This talk gets a little bit technical but I think it's easy enough for the average listener to follow. Thank you, Linux Basement, for mentioning the show. I really appreciate it!

QSK1: Devil in the Details - KFive | 2010-10-29

This is the very first episode of the QSK Netcast. I want to thank everyone who supports podcasting, netcasting, Internet broadcasting or whatever you want to call it. I also want to thank all those who believe in Open Source, who strive to mentor with every breath and who believe the world is a better place with more knowledge in it. Please have a listen to my latest effort and send me feedback using the contact form or by leaving comments on the Web site. You can also call the show at 417-200-4811 and press the option for QSK Netcast. I really want to hear from you: Your likes, your dislikes, your requests, your questions--whatever. Just remember, it can only get better from here.