Your Questions Answered‚ March 2020

First off I’d like to welcome all the new subscribers to the channel. In the last week we picked up over 600 new viewers‚ which is a nice little boost. Thanks for joining the channel. As a recap for all the new subscribers‚ every month I pick through the emails and comments and take a bit of time to answer your questions. So if you have a question or an idea for a future video- please leave it in the comments below. And also be sure to stick around until the end as I’ll be giving you a channel update on what will be happening in the coming weeks. But first‚ on to the questions.

Last year at about this time I released a video highlighting some proposed changes to the Technician License. This was based on a petition for rule making that the ARRL submitted to allow Technician license holders to receive expanded HF privileges. What’s the status of the petition? J P comments:

Never came to fruition

The short answer to the question is that the petition isn’t dead yet until the FCC denies it; and they haven’t done that yet. In fact‚ the subject of increased Technician privileges in the HF bands are still very much alive. In early February of this year the ARRL HF band planning committee sought comments on their recommendations for an HF band plan that includes Technician phone privileges. Those results were forwarded to the ARRL board. In conjunction with that comment period the league also created a new HF Band Planning Discussion Group. This online group will focus not he ARRL HF Band Planning Committee’s recommendations and other band planning activities. I’ll have a link to that group in the video description below if you take part in it. So the process of expanded phone privileges may be moving forward slowly‚ but it is moving forward.

I received a couple of questions and comments on last summer’s video on the Retevis RT97 portable repeater field test. You may remember this as a small ten watt UHF repeater in an all in one package. Eric asks a more general question about repeaters:

what kind of output power are fixed location VHF/UHF repeaters typically using?

In building a repeater system‚ selecting the power output is a bit of an art. You want to deliver a strong signal but you also don’t want the repeater to transmit a further distance than what it can reliably receive. You may also need more power to help overcome losses in the feed line and duplexer system. Many repeater sites will be content to use a full duty cycle 50 watt transmitter for their final output but some sites use a power amplifier to put out between 100 – 250 watts of power. One advantage of using an amplifier is that a continuous duty amplifier allows the repeater transmitter to run at a lower power level which prolongs its own life and second‚ an amplifier will be used to help overcome the losses in the feed line and duplexer system. For example you could lose 3-6db or more in those two components so an amplifier becomes a kind of an equalizer in your overall repeater output.

In a second comment Phillip says:

I have a fairly simple bash script I wrote to turn any Linux/Pi machine into a simplex repeater. It also has the option to store all received transmissions. That could be useful for field testing. Hearing how the signal sounded when it arrived.

Thanks for the offer. I did take a look at the script and it appears to be very well commented so if you are handy in these kinds of things- this may be a great way to put together an inexpensive simplex repeater. I’ll put links to the script in the video description below.

In my review video of the Radioddiy GD73‚ I mention the high BER or Bit Error Rate. Elden offers an update:

Two things… the high BER was addressed in a recent firmware update. The inability to copy/paste in the configuration software… or re-order the entries is largely solved by using the export/import feature. However… the export/import feature does require Excel.

Thanks for the information- the firmware update wasn’t available when I did the review. Importing/exporting the channels seems like

a good idea although bit of a kludge. I’ll give that a shot.

Speaking about DMR radios‚ Xu Tangjin asks

I am curious about why hams do not use p8668i as a device. I want to make a decision between motorola p8668i and yaesu ft3d. Can u give me some advice plz Thx a lot.

BTW the same model of P8668i in North America might be XPR7550E

There are a few reasons: Motorola gear tends to be more expensive since the company is targeting the commercial and public safety markets. Plus new equipment has to be purchased through a dealer network and it can be more difficult to program as you need the proprietary software and Motorola can be very tight on who they distribute it to. But used Motorola gear tends to find its way into the hands of amateur radio operators as state and municipal agencies will often sell off their old gear to anyone.

More specific to your point‚ I believe the p866i sold in the Asian market- I haven’t seen that model in the US. It’s Mototrbo which is DMR compatible. The Yaesu FT3DR is System Fusion C4FM. Both are digital technologies but incompatible with each other. Your choice would depend on what’s more popular in your area: DMR or Fusion.

I’m going to finish up the Q&A section of the video with a few comments on my recent product announcement of the Yaesu FTM-300DR. This is a dual band mobile radio with analog and system fusion support. The radio is in production but should be available by April of this year.

The largest number of comments and complaints where on the looks of the radio- most notably the display. Ben says

I had to look at the date of the video to make sure this radio wasn’t released 10 years ago. Seriously, this does not look like something that should be coming out in 2020.

Others mentioned that it looked like something that came out of China or that Yaesu copied the Anytone 878. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I guess I don’t have an opinion one way or another on the front panel or display itself without using it- but I really do like the large touchscreen display on my FTM-400 so a smaller display in the vehicle may be a step back for me. I’ll reserve judgement until I use one.

But the 64‚000 dollar question comes from IW1prt and Martin:

Hello, do you know if FTM 300 works in analog (or digital) transponder mode ??

What I want to know, Will it do cross band repeat in fusion mode?

Everyone wants to know the answer of that question and Yaesu isn’t saying anything right now. I’m going to speculate that it may do analog cross band repeat as the FTM-300 will have two VFOs but I don’t know about digital cross band. I’ve been told that in the FTM-400 the way the audio chain works digital cross banding is impossible. It will remain to be seen if this will also be the case in the FTM-300.

Finally Field Radio says

The FTM-300 will never take the place of the FTM-400. The FTM-400 is just a better radio. Yaesu should’ve just improved the FTM-400 and called it FTM-600. If anything probably taking place of the FTM-100. We will see

I tend to totally agree. I’ve seen a lot of comments speculating that the 300 will replace the 400. John Kruk from Yaesu has a video he released that talks a bit about the FTM-300 and they’re positioning the rig as mid-level offering between the 100 and the 400.

That’s it for this month’s questions. Here’s what’s coming up for March. The next few weeks until April 7 are going to be quite busy for me. Some of you may know that in addition to making these videos and selling antennas‚ I also have a side gig of serving as an elected official on the Wausau City Council. It’s an election year so this month I have to focus a lot of energy into my campaign.

Now in Wisconsin local elected offices are non-partisan so don’t even ask or try to assume what my political leanings are. I serve all my constituents equally and for the betterment of the community. So coming up I have a couple of videos from Joe- you can look forward to those. The Wisconsin QSO party is also coming up on the 15th of March- and I’m planning to be on the air for that event and hope to have a video on that. The snow is melting rapidly so as long as we don’t get dumped on this month‚ I may be back operating outdoors. And of course If there is a topic you’d like to see leave me a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

That’s it for this month’s questions, please keep them coming. Leave them as a comment below, I’ll filter through them and keep the conversation going. Maybe one will even show up on the next your questions answered video.