Router & RAM Upgrade

I have had Fibre to the Home for a while at 38Mb download speeds, Talktalk my ISP offered 76Mb download speeds for a small increase in costs, the engineer called today (27 Jan 16) to check my actual speeds which were well below that quoted and installed a new HG633 router.

The problem of reduced speed performance is Openreach’s as its infrastructure, so I’ll have to wait and see, the current download speed is 56Mb so still not too shabby for here.

Manuals  for the Huawei HG 533 can be found here, the actual HG633 manual I haven’t managed to track down yet.

hg633

At the same time of the Broadband upgrade, I decided to increase the RAM in my Weather PC from 8Gb to 32Gb as it was regularly running at 7Gb used, the PC is a Dell Precision T490 and uses Server RAM modules which cost a total of £60 from ebay.

Davis Vantage Pro2 Fan Change

I check and clean my weather station twice a year, just before Christmas I noticed the  FARS (Fan Aspirated Radiation Shieldfan which draws air past the external temperature and humidity sensor had stopped working, (write up from a previous blog on how I installed it is here –FARS Link).

As an interim measure I increased the voltage to the fan from 1.7v to 2.8v, which kept the motor working for a few more weeks before it finally wouldn’t kick into life.

In February 2014 I had bought 5 spare motors (minimum order but cheap as chips) from Jameco.com, so today I decided the weather wasn’t going to catch me out  and I made a start on replacing the fan.

Disassembly of the unit is very easy, removing the Rain Bucket exposes three cross head screws which hold the FARS in place, whilst holding the base of the FARS, undo each of the screws until you have the weight of the FARS in your hand, slowly lowering your hand the weight of the unit will be held by the interconnecting wires to the ISS.

The power to the fan is via a small plug and once removed, the fan assembly slides out of the shield as one unit.

The fan is held onto the motor by an interference fit, pulling on the fan will remove it from the motors shaft.

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The motor is held in the fan body by silicon, I used a craft drill with a tapered bit to remove this.

2016-01-23 09.41.35It didn’t take too long to get the motor out, the next job was to tidy the fan body socket and de-solder the old fan motor wires.

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New motor from Jameco compared to the one removed just in case I had ordered the wrong one!

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The motor needs packing to center it in the fan body, jerryg on the WXForum gave his solution of using insulating tape to build the diameter and this works really well, I made it so the motor was a snug, but not tight fit (as the motor uses brushes to make electrical contact to the rotating commutator, the motor will inevitably fail and need replacement).

The motor has three holes at the shaft end of the body which in the the original motor had been taped over, so I did the same, pushing the motor in the body I used a few dabs of silicon to hold it in place and pushed on the, the last part of this job was to solder wires on making sure the red wire went to the terminal marked with a + sign!

Once connections are made, a cable tie holds the wires neatly to fan body.

2016-01-23 10.06.04

While everything was apart, I checked the voltage regulator to the fan to make sure everything was ok, this is a Velleman unit with 24vAC in and I have removed the potentiometer and replaced it with a fixed value resistor giving a stable output of 2.8v DC.

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After a washing  down with soapy water the tipping bucket, Stevenson screen and rain bucket, everything was put back together, the total time taken was about an hour, now I know what I need to do, this could be done in under 30 minutes.

If you prefer to simply change the complete fan unit (Davis 7758), this can be bought from Weatherspares  in the UK who offer exceptional customer service.

Just got to see how long this motor lasts, once all the motors I’ve bought are gone, I’ll put a PC fan motor in and monitor the output to generate an alarm, I have made a a circuit based on this site, but I need to play a bit more to get it to work properly.

 

Chatteris Weather Page Updates

Over the festive break, I’ve taken the opportunity to tweak my weather web pages and add a few features:-

  1.   Meteotemplate

This is a new style dashboard accessible from the menu bar of Chatteris Weather, if you prefer this template, save it as a favorite.

Jachym, the author of the script is continually adding new functionality and wherever possible I will adjust my site to incorporate his hard work.

2.   International Space Station (ISS)

I have always had a link to the ISS, but now Maj Tim is orbiting, I thought it would be fitting to have a bespoke page showing the live camera stream and graphical overlay of where the ISS is in real time.

3.   Live Webcam

I have recently fitted a Hikvision IP webcam which is streaming live video 24/7. I’m working on the time lapse feature and this will follow shortly.

4.  Supercounter

I have had revolver map on my site for a while as well as a whos-online script and PHP Web Stat, Supercounter was very easy to set up and implement, site statistics are available from the above link, what is of interest is that the majority of refers have come from webcam sites.

5.  Page Header Image

New design which will change to reflect either a reason to celebrate, when not a special header, a new standard image will be used with a change of title from Chatteris Weather to Chatteris Weather Station.

6.  Status Page

Added a screen grab image of the Weather Display program which drives Chatteris Weather, looking at the image you can see at a glance the overall conditions which are updated every 5 minutes.

Construction of More Blitzortung Lightning Detectors

I offer my help to the Blitzortung Forum members who find soldering is not for them, especially the tiny components; the  boards below are:

Top Left –  Blitzortung Controller with pre made daughter board plugged in

Top-Right – Amplifier which interfaces the antennas (not shown) to the controller

Bottom Left – E-Field Amplifier connects to controller

Bottom Right – E-Field Pre Amplifier  connects to E-Field Amplifier

SAM_5587 (Medium)The owner of the boards (Julian – Bremen, Germany) had kindly put all the parts in uniquely identifiable bags which certainly saved me time usually spent in sorting out the components.

In total I spent about 9 hours building up the boards and installing the firmware in the daughter board, hopefully that will be another one on the Blitzortung network.

General Web Site Maintenance

Decided to do a little bit of autumn maintenance of the weather web site:

  • Added London Underground service status to the Trains page
  • Added a link to Solent Harbor radio to replace the broken audio media player
  • Repaired the link to Talking Chatteris Weather on the web front page
  • Changed the time lapse video feed to mp.4 format and configured a JW Player in an iframe to show this
  • Rationalized some of the menu to make navigation easier
  • White listed my ip address in ZBlocker after I locked myself out of the site 🙁
  • Added  more Chatteris related community interest links and checked existing ones, adjusting to newer links where needed
  • Changed some of the upload times to the correct value in the page text

If you find any broken links, please use the Contact Form to let me know.

 

CCTV Pan & Tilt Head Interfaced to Orbitron and Ham Radio Deluxe

I have blogged  previously  about using a CCTV head as a platform for ham radio antennas and have made a manual controller to do this.

I already have an Easy Rotor Control for my rotator but thought I would experiment with a dual control ERC-M unit in linking it to a Pan & Tilt head I was given.

I bought the ERC-M, two Rotorcards and enclosure with matrix positioning display and front controls for this project. The parts came as a kit and took a few hours to put together, a with a previous kit from ERC, the instructions were excellent and the unit operated first time on power up.

The Pan & Tilt head I have is 24vDC, but will work on 12vDC, once the connections were made to the Rotorcard relays, the next step was to calibrate to positional potentiometers which are part of the head and allow presets to be selected. (Note – the positional pots need a 5v to 15v supply across them, this can be taken from the Rotorcard but as no take off terminals are fitted this board, I fed the pots directly from the power supply)

The kit comes with a CD containing all drivers, manuals and instructions plus a calibration program and operating program, I opted for a USB version of the ERC-M, I needed to point to the USB driver location on the CD during the installation of the ERC-M, after installation, checking in device manager confirmed the controller was using Com Port 6.

Setting the calibration program to the correct com port number allowed me to first calibrate the Pan or Azimuth, once this was done after following the on screen instruction I calibrate the Tilt or Elevation, this needs a bearing to be entered when the platform is at the top position or 90 degrees to ground, once this is done, calibration is as the Azimuth by following the on screen instructions.

The calibration software can be closed and the operational software opened to test functionality of the head, clicking on the compass rose will take the head to that position.

I use Ham Radio Deluxe but the garage PC where I do my building has no radio related software, so I downloaded Orbitron satellite tracking software.

As the Orbitron does not have a physical connection to the ERC-M, the program Pstrotator was also downloaded as the interface as this will connect to Com Port 6 and drive the controller, the internal data exchange between Orbitron and Pstrotator is via DDE, this additional file needs to be downloaded from the Orbitron site.

Pstrotator was only used to test concept and I used the demo version which is time limited.

pst

I entered positional settings in Orbitron and clicked on DDE connect (a pop up will say if you need to download this if you haven’t already), if all I well, the positional data details of the satellite you selected will show in a small splash screen.

Opening Pstrotator, enter setting for the Com Port, type of head (Az & EL) and controller (ERC-D), close and then reopen the program, click on ‘track’ and the head will follow the trajectory of the satellite when in range.

A really cool feature of Pstrotator is the ability to take a feed from  a local WeatherUnderground feeding weather station (Chatteris Weather), when high winds are detected, the antenna will automatically turn to the wind reducing mast windage loading.

This use of a CCTV head to position tracking antennas is certainly a lot cheaper than buying a bespoke unit,  CCTV heads are made for external use and have decent torque, jut check if you get one that they are 24vDC and have the pots for presets, these come up all the time on Ebay for about £50, so all in you can have a quality tracking system for about £200.

I will mount the Rotorcards in a small enclosure and move everything next to the rig and interface with Ham Radio Deluxe, I have tested the tracking element with my existing Azimuth rotator, so I don’t envisage any issues with the ERC-M, the next job is to save up for some 8 core cable from the Rotorcards to the head!

Weather Station – Relay Outputs

My weather station software is Weather Display which is unbelievable in what it can do, the author of the software is very receptive to ideas and modifications and has introduced a feature which I and others have asked for, that is the ability for a physical relay to change state when a condition has been met.

Weather Display used to have the feature to operate a 1-wire single relay, but this has been superseded by an 8 Relay module which was not coded to work with the program.

I bought a board and sent it to Brian Hamilton of Weather Display, and within one afternoon had it working  (it did take a few days to get there as Brian lives in New Zealand)!

The feature Weather Display offers is not only control of relays via Weather Display, but using a Phone or Tablet app.

hobbyboard1

The relays can be assigned to Temperature, Wind Speed, Rain, Lightning (depending on sensors) or a timed schedule, these parameters are set and adjusted from a tab within the program.

SAM_5542 (Medium)

The relay board is powered by an external 12v supply with a 1-wire data lead going through a USB interface to the PC, activated relays are indicated by the LED.

SAM_5537 (Medium)

The app allows full control of the relays if configured, or for relays that have been set to ‘monitor’, the state of the relay is reflected on the app.

This addition has brought a new dimension to the weather station, and I will be connecting the ham radio mast motor to the relays, so that on detection of high wind or lightning, the mast will automatically retract (and maybe ground all the antennas so the transceivers wont get damaged).

A further benefit not related to weather is that a relay could be remotely switched to operate the heating or lighting etc, I’m using one to turn on a power supply unit so I can remotely operate power to my transceivers.

Note:   The HobbyBoard relays are not rated for high currents, I will be using these relays to operate higher switching capacity relays.

8 Channel Input/Output Manual shows the versatility of this module.

ON8JL D’Star BabyStar Node

Recently bought a Icom 7100 for the additional features this radio offers, one being DStar enabled, unfortunately I’m unable to access a  remote repeater, hence the BabyStar nodebabystar

This is a small unit with only two physical connections required, these being power (7 Vdc to 15Vdc) and an hardwired internet connection.

When the BabyStar is first powered up it will use an available ip, and this is displayed for a few moments on the screen, typing this ip into your browser opens the BabyStar configuration and status pages.

I have setup in the Icom 7100 a repeater called BabyStar Node, I then lower the RF power of the rig to 0% and simply transmit to the BabyStar and via this, using the internet, to repeaters and reflectors worldwide with FM quality audio both ways.

The version of Firmware on the unit I bought was v1.02, shortly after v1.03 came out, you will need Hyperterminal and a programming lead to complete the update, the process quite easy as the instructions within the User Guide are really good, I found the drivers for the USB to Serial lead here.

Hyperterminal is found on older versions of Windows, such as XP, so make sure you have an old PC about!

22 May 2016 – Updated Firmware to 1.04

 

Removing Mains Hum From Kenwood TS-2000

Since getting headphones, the mains hum on my Kenwood TS-2000 needed to get sorted as it was really distracting.

To confirm the source I powered the rig on a battery and the hum was still their, unplugging the antennas made no difference until I unplugged the RS232 serial lead to the PC, at that point the hum stopped, I then powered the rig from the Power Supply Unit and the hum only reappears when the serial lead is plugged in.

The issue stems from the fact that the PC running Ham Radio Deluxe (HRD) radio program is fed from an Uninterruptable Supply and this has caused a Ground Loop to be created.

I bought off eBay an RS232 opto isolator thinking this would cure it, unfortunately this stopped HRD communicating with the radio so I was stuck! posting the problem on the Yahoo Group forum came up with the answer.

The simple answer from Dave (G4UGM) was not to connect the Serial  pin 5 Ground wire making sure the outer shells of the D9 Socket & Plug were connected, and this did the trick.

(Scroll down for update)

The Serial connections on the Kenwood TS2000 are:

1- Not connected

2- RXD

3- TXD

4- Not connected

5- GND (did not use)

6- Not connected

7- RTS

8- CTS

9- Not connected

The finished unit with pin 5 disconnected goes in the back of the radio, the male and female connectors were soldered back to back, pin for pin except the break of Pin 5  –SAM_5535 (Medium)

29 September 2015     ***UPDATE***

Not sure what changed, but the mains hum came back!!, knowing that a 3 wire opto-isolator didn’t work, I bought an 8 wire opto-isolator from Tronicore, this comes complete with serial leads and a 12vDC PSU (American Power Plug).

I powered the unit from my rig supply, so didn’t use the PSU which came with it, the only other thing I needed was a 9 pin gender changer (Female to Male) to connect to the serial port on my PC.

The interface only works one way round so watch for that, mains hum has gone 🙂

rs232-optical-isolator-3-MEDrs232-optical-isolator-2-MED

 

General information and status updates.