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Sun, 02 Jun 2013

My first Ham Radio Baofeng UV-5R experiences

I have been a licensed ham for some time .
However never had the time to buy a Ham handset and play with it.
So finally I took the plunge and bought a cheapo Chinese Ham radio which seems to be very popular due to its price point amongs online reviewers.It is called Baofeng UV-5R and I bought it for $40 shipped,lots of US retailers selling on amazon or ebay etc .I also bought the programming USB cable for about $8.So for about $50 I could get started on Ham radio.

Here are some of my notes after spending quite a bit of time on understanding Ham etc as I do not have any experience with using a Ham radio.Getting licensed and playing with an actual Ham radio are 2 different things :-).

First find the firmware version by following the instructions at mine was BFB297

Tried the chirp software on linux and it worked fabulously (it didnt give any errors as i still dont know what i programmed :-))and since i had a usb cable my port was /dev/ttyUSB0 .Alot of people have complained about prolific drivers on windows etc , so you migth want to try on linux as no special drivers needed.

As Im new to Ham I didnt want to inadvertently transmit anything on any of channels.So I disabled most channels by following instructions below.As this unit can transmit on any frequency it receives.Pls note in US you need proper licenses to transmit on most channels/frequency used by this radio.

Trying to follow instructions on comments for receive only initially I have discovered that you can Tx inhibit the VFO of these radios using CHIRP. Set the VHF & UHF frequency to 1.000 und uncheck the "Allow Tx" checkboxes. Now only the memory channels can Tx (listen-only channels can be created by setting duplex to "OFF").

Finally, be aware that it has an "emergency alert" function and since the switch that activates this is just below the PTT switch, it's quite easy to accidentally hit it and send this attention-getting tone over the air.

Various alarm modes.For my alarm the setting was SITE which from the video i understand is just like a panic button on a car remote.It does not transmit anything to anyone. For a moment I had got worried that when I hit the alarm button it would send some weird signals as it is very easy to click on the alarm button when you are trying to play with the FM radio.

keeping in mind that you should pre-program the frequency offsets of your local repeater, as automatic offsets (+/-) are not included on this one. Or use the chirp software as it does for you.

Few things to note about Antenna.I'm still using the stock antennae. - the antenna connection is a reverse TNC, so you will need an adaptor if you want to use your other handheld antennas with this radio

It is highly recommended to buy an aftermarket 2/440 (17") F-SMA antenna it will work a lot better. I have a BNC to F-SMA adapter to widen the antenna selection. I use a long range MFJ 1714 antenna for 2M. The original ducky works on 440 better than I'd thought it would.

Best site on what frequencies to program for a newbie

Video to program NOAA weather channels for your area

Just to be safe i turned off all transmissions from my unit by following the instructions below
if you set the channel to duplex then the offset to off it will apparently block you from transmitting.
Let me know if this works for you.

Comment by Andor | August 25, 2012 | Reply

if you program your radio in chirp and set the duplex mode to off it will prohibit transmitting if the unit is on that channel. I have tested and confirmed this yesterday.
Effectively it sets the TX frequency to 000.000mhz.
The U-5R nicely error beeps when pressing the PTT button.

Quite a few people ask if this radio can be used on GMRS frequencies.Unfortunately as it is not FCC part 95 certified it cannot be used on GMRS frequencies.Pls refer to this link for exact details on FCC requirements

posted at: 18:11 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sat, 18 Feb 2012

Twitter-like , open source for micro-blogging

So I have started using for my micro-blogging needs.You can see the badge on right hand side of all the blog pages.
You can choose to follow me using the following links
I intend to use SDF chatter as a primary blogging medium for shorter blogs and will continue to use this site for bigger blog entries

posted at: 17:14 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sun, 26 Jun 2011

CPU & GPU temperature and CPU throttling

So I have been having lots of issues with my Dell E6400 company laptop and everytime it heats up and halts to a crawl that I just have to reboot the machine by pressing the power button.
I spend a couple of months debugging it as i thought that first Mcafee was giving problems , then i thought that other heavy processing software were causing CPU to be 100%.
After searching a lot on the internet I found some interesting co-relation with the temperature of the CPU/GPU and the processing speed.So the more heated your CPU gets , it modulates itself to lesser speeds so that it can be cooled down.But the end user is not able to see this because their CPU will show 100% but at the same time is it actually crawling.
This happens because the CPU has reduced down to probably about 700MHz, yes you read it right your dual CPU , of 2.8GHz etc crawling down to 700 Mhz or less, and so correspondingly the applications  start running slower and start showing 100% CPU usage where in it is actually using 100% CPU of 700Mhz and not your full speed CPU.
In any case the following tools helped me debug this



    CPU temperature : Execute the following command   cat /proc/acpi/thermal_zone/THM/temperature
    For GPU(Grpahics Card like NVidia) : Execute the following command prompt nvidia-smi -q -a

posted at: 22:34 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sun, 02 Jan 2011

Is HAM Radio still relevant

Radio communications have always fascinated me and recently I have been thinking of getting a HAM Radio license.
In todays day and age of computers and internet and cellphones etc are HAM Radios even relevant?
It is amazing how less is taught in todays engineering curriculum about radio technologies.
I started looking into this as on my last couple of road trips and outdoor sports like hiking/skiing etc there were so many times there was absolutely no cellphone coverage.
Paying $2-5 for satellite phones is obviously not an alternative so I started looking into HAM Radio.
A few links which I found useful
Some of my criteria is that it should fit in a pocket and easy to use and based on my initial searches none fit in that category , i will keep looking though.

posted at: 22:22 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Tue, 28 Dec 2010

Duplicate File Finder

Recently I had to clean up our photo/video albums and this free(GPL license)utility called Duplicate File Finder  helped me do that job very quickly.It uses a very fast algorithm going thru big files very very fast.

posted at: 00:31 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Fri, 05 Nov 2010

Cutting the cord, first landline and now cable

We have been landline free for a couple of years(or possibly a decade , don't remember) and completely rely on VOIP(primarily) and cellphones(as backups).
Couple of months back we got rid of our frugal basic cable(used to cost us $16 per month) also.Till now the problem had been that my Over the Air signal was very weak and since we live in an apartment we could not have an outdoor antennae.So now what we did is got an outdoort antenna for about $29.99 and then i connected it to a modified torchiere mast(saved probably $20) .With the Digital TV transition , the signal has been much stronger.For those folks who have not tried HDTV via an age old TV antenna should give it a serious try.
So we rely on a combination of DVD's from Libraries/local stores and OTA(over the air) signals for our entertainment needs and sometimes on Online TV(not many good legal options).
We are not alone but there is a wave of people across US who are dropping expensive cable and relying on the same alternatives as above.
The cable/satellite industry is obviously in denial which is not surprising considering that the landline industry was in denial a couple of years ago.

posted at: 22:32 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sat, 12 Jun 2010

Stanford employees give cars a rest

A recent poll by Stanford's Parking and Transportation Services Department shows that 52 percent of the university's employees choose some sort of alternative transportation, such as cycling or public transportation.
Read more @

Kudos to Stanford

posted at: 04:03 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

New wave of US cities look at bike-sharing plans

The new message to commuters in Minneapolis: Hit a bicycle pedal instead of a gas pedal.
Minneapolis is joining Denver in a new wave of cities in car-crazy America trying to cut down on obesity, traffic jams and air pollution with bike-sharing programs.

Read more @

posted at: 03:52 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Sat, 27 Feb 2010

Toyota Camry  99 - P0169 Incorrect fuel composition

My toyota camry 99 started suddenly showing up "Check Engine" light.So I attached my OBD-II reader to it and retrieve the error code as P0169.
After researching a lot on the internet I could only find one relevant article describing what the problem could be .
So finally I took my car to a local mechanic and he diagnosed the problem to be a air fuel sensor problem.The part number from Toyota is 89467-33011 and it will cost about $260 when bought from a dealer but you can get it much cheaper online.

posted at: 05:27 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

Mon, 19 Jan 2009

Talk to your car

Cars seem to be the most disconnected from computers and I always had the urge to connect my laptop to my car to see what it is doing and also to see if  I could get any meaningful information out of it.Starting from 1996 in all cars there is a mandatory port called the OBD-II which allows you to read the code generated by your car.
There are two ways to communicate via this port
  1. Via a handheld scanner which can only spit out the codes.
  2. Connecting via a USB cable to a computer and then analysing the data.
If you are looking for option 1> then there is a hot deal currently going on @ , you can get this scanner and clearer for $23.90.Keep in mind the latest new model cars cannot use this because they need a newer technology called CAN reader.

I have chosen to go with option 2> and have bought a USB cable interface from ebay , you can search for "CAN-BUS OBD OBDII Code Scanner Reader  USB" and there are many available in $20-30 range including shipping.This reader is CAN compliant and will work with the latest car models  also.

The next time when  you get an "Engine Check" light on , on your car you don't have to fork out about $65 per engine check at your car maintenance shop.I'm amazed by how much they rip us off for such a trivial task which can be done by us.

posted at: 18:21 | category: /general | permanent link to this entry | Donate via Bitcoin

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