Month: December 2013

Chirp – (Nearly) Universal Amateur Radio Programming Software

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I want to throw out what I’m using right now to program my radios that happen to support digital programming interfaces, which happens to be the Baofeng UV-5R and Tonfa UV-985.  Neither are very high end radios, but they work for me for the time being with a price that was right.  I strongly recommend the use of CHIRP for programming amateur radios.  It’s a free, open-source tool written in Python that supports Windows, Mac, and Linux, and I have had excellent success running it from my Fedora workstation at the home QTH.  Just like the rigs, the software works very well for my needs, and the price cannot be argued with.  The official CHIRP project page may be found at and its specifications at present is quoted here as of the time of this post’s composition:


Supported Radio Models


  • AT-5888UV (in daily builds)


  • DR-03T
  • DR-06T
  • DR135T
  • DR235T
  • DR435T
  • DJ596T
  • DJ175T


  • F-11 (in daily builds)
  • UV-3R
  • UV-5R
  • UV-82 (in daily builds)
  • UV-B5/B6 (in daily builds)
  • BF-888 (in daily builds)


  • BJ-UV55 (in daily builds)


  • IC-80AD
  • IC-2820H
  • ID-800H
  • ID-880H
  • IC-208H
  • IC-2200H
  • IC-91/92AD
  • IC-V/U82
  • ID-RPx000V/RP2x
  • IC-2100H
  • IC-2720H
  • IC-T70
  • IC-T7H
  • IC-T8A
  • IC-Q7A
  • IC-W32A
  • IC-746
  • IC-7200
  • IC-7000
  • ID-31A
  • ID-51A (in daily builds)


  • JT220M

  • TH-D7A/G
  • TH-D72
  • TH-F6A
  • TH-F7E
  • TH-G71A (in daily builds)
  • TH-K2
  • TK-7102/8102/7108/8108 (in daily builds)
  • TM-271A/281A
  • TM-D700
  • TM-D710
  • TM-G707
  • TM-V7A
  • TM-V71A


  • PX-2R (UHF)
  • PX-777


  • TH-UV3R
  • TH-UVF1


  • FT-60R
  • FT-90R (in daily builds)
  • FT-817/ND
  • FT-857/D
  • FT-897
  • FT-1802M
  • FT-2800M
  • FT-7800R
  • FT-7900R
  • FT-8800R
  • FT-8900R
  • FTM-350R (in daily builds)
  • VX-2R (in daily builds)
  • VX-3R
  • VX-5R
  • VX-6R
  • VX-7R
  • VX-8R


  • KG-UV6D/UV6X

Note that not all functionality is supported on all radio models. Take a look at overview of what features are supported for each model.

Other Data Sources

File Formats

  • Comma Separated Values (.csv)
  • Comma Separated Values generated by RT Systems (.csv) (in daily builds)
  • EVE for Yaesu VX-5 (.eve)
  • Kenwood HMK format (.hmk)
  • Kenwood commercial ITM format (.itm) (in daily builds)
  • Icom Data Files (.icf)
  • ARRL TravelPlus (.tpe) (in daily builds)
  • VX5 Commander Files (.vx5)
  • VX7 Commander Files (.vx7)

  • RadioReference
  • RepeaterBook
  • (in daily builds)
  • RFinder

10 Meter Band Operation Research

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Presently, I’m still just a technician class licensee, but my license does give me privileges to operate 10 meter HF on frequencies between 28.000 MHz to 28.300 MHz for CW and 28.300 MHz to 28.500 MHz for upper sideband (USB) voice.  I have yet to really throw myself into learned Morse code, so I will need to focus on the sideband operation.  I’ve found a lot resources on the subject, but this article from is an excellent comprehensive write up of the subject.

I have the fortunate luck to have my hands on a Uniden President HR2510, and I picked up a cheap truckstop quality HF SWR meter for it.  I know that it’s meant for 11 meter CB radios, but reviews on Amazon indicate successful operation from 160 meters to 6 meters from another radio amateur.  I’ve still got my eyeball on an MFJ-259B antenna analyzer for more precise antenna construction, but that will have to wait for the KK4TSJ personal budget to open up more sometime in the future.

I’ve made and tuned a wire inverted-v dipole antenna with integrated W2DU style current balun.  Reads roughly below 1.5 VSWR for the sideband portion of my frequency privileges, but I want to dedicate a future post to that antenna, it’s design, and my outdoor hanging plans once I get it hung.  I’m still not convinced that the design is the best, but I’m confident it will work for the intended purpose better and cheaper than commercial options will provide.

Stay tuned for the next post, and I promise to post some pictures of the new antenna.  73.

Eight Essential Knots You Need to Know

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Strings, ropes, strands, fibers, and textiles are the basis of many human technologies, and they have existed as such largely unchanged until the advent of industrialization and synthetic textiles.  I would like to present eight essential knots that I feel are important for the reader to be familiar with and know how to tie.  They will empower you with a greater ability to survive on your own wits with the right equipment in the wilderness, and they’re simply fun to make.

Overhand Knot

The overhand knot is the most simple knot to make.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, can tie this knot.  It’s not very useful, not very strong, and tends to slip very easily, but it is typically the first step of any more intricate knots.

The Reef Knot or Square Knot

The reef knot, or square knot, is a simple knot used to tie two lines together.  It’s simple and quick and easy to repair a break in the field, and offers a temporary solution while a more permanent knot can be put into place if necessary.  The reef knot is one of the most simple of knots to make, but many people often incorrectly tie the second half causing them to roll over.  The end that wraps around over the first half needs to wrapped around the outside on the other half symmetrically causing the strands to form two overlapping loops over each line.  This knot only works well if the two lines are closely matched in diameter (preferably from the same cord stock), otherwise the sheet bend knot should be used with lines of significantly differing thickness or materials.

The Two Half Hitch Knot

The two half hitch knot is an essential knot that is used to string a hammock between two trees or posts, and is also well suited to form the core of more intricate cord weaving designs.  The ring can either be nailed into place, secured with a metal strap, or tied to an anchoring structure with another line.

The Bowline Knot

The bowline knot is a maritime knot that is found in all known seafaring cultures.  It will anchor a loop to the end of a line that will not move and will handle high strains without slipping.  It typically forms one end of a line with a taut line hitch on the other side to give you variable strain on fixed lines.  Like most other knots, this may be used as the basis of more intricate weaving patterns.

The Taut Line Hitch

The two half hitch knot is an American tradition handed down from generations that has been taught by the Boy Scouts since their founding in 1910.  It provides an essential means of setting up tent lines secured to ground stakes or pegs, and provides sturdier support for shelter than almost any other more modern plastic quick release mechanisms.  Typically used with a two half hitch knot on the other end, this knot also needs the short end secured with a two half hitch knot to prevent it from slipping.

The Figure Eight Knot

The figure eight knot is an essential knot to secure the loose ends of cords used for other more intricate knots such as the taut line hitchthe clove hitch and others.  It’s a very quick and simple knot to make, but make certain that you fold the first loop over itself a second time to keep from making the knot a simple overhand knot.

The Clove Hitch

The clove hitch is pretty simple and used to loosely bind a line to post of some sort.  Historically used to bind horse reins to hitch posts in addition to the highwayman’s hitch, it is also useful in securing lines used in the construction of improvised lean-to shelters and cooking tripods.

The Sheet Bend Knot

The sheet bend knot is a fairly simple knot, and is much better for securing two lines of differing thickness together than the reef knot.  This knot along with the clove hitch is essential to the construction of fishing nets and any sort of corded netting.

Special thanks to for their excellent instructional videos.