Riverton Wyoming Gunshow and Class Sale

The Riverton, WY Gunshow is this weekend at the Fremont County Fairgrounds.  Look for the table with the Zombie Tools display and two FALs for sale.  I’ll have copies of Signal-3 Issue #1 for sale.

Also since there is a local gunshow this weekend, there is also a sale on all classes until Tuesday afternoon.  15% off if you pay via Paypal, or 25% off if you pay via USPS money order (postmarked by Tuesday) or at the show via cash.  I also take precious metals (Silver, Gold, and Lead) and other forms of barter at the show for classes or Signal-3 subscriptions.  Inquire there.

See you at the show!

Five Friday Frequencies

I find it charming that some of you are smart enough to know how to use a search engine, but the point of this exercise is meatspace.  You know, the place where the establishment mass media keeps you away from with this thing called Internet, and pundits that give you plenty of opportunities to rend your garments over “news” stories they spoon feed you to keep your thoughts from wandering in forbidden directions.

  1. 39.46
  2. 45.86
  3. 45.88
  4. 154.28
  5. 155.475

Got point search?

You should.

A Reader Sends: Transmission Times with Fldigi

h/t Quietman

I was fooling around on my day off and did some tests with fldigi using flamp and flwrap. Not scientific, but some interesting info. For me at least.

I created a textedit doc (no embedded metadata, or whatever it’s called) of 150, five (5) letter groups, then cut and pasted it into the text window of fldigi. Set my radio to zero (0) watts, entire rig configured and tuned as usual. Rig is KX3, Signalink box, ZM2 tuner, Acer laptop.

I wanted to time various modes and find out how long it took to send a message of that size. I’m not going to test all modes, but I did find this.

Mode Time

PSK31 2:57

CONTESTIA 8/250 5:15


QPSK 31 2:50

QPSK 63 1:30

QPSK 125 :46

QPSK 250 :26

QPSK 500 :13

BPSK 125 :47

BPSK 1000 :11

QPSK provides error detection and correction. This is important.

As you can see, the wider the bandwidth, the faster it goes. Balance this against the likelihood of a wider transmission being detected.

flamp provided no time improvement, despite compressing the file. You can encrypt at various levels on flamp. Not yet sure how effective that is.

flwrap was interesting. :03 seconds for the file. That surprised me to the point I’m pretty sure I did something wrong.

Even at zero (0) watts, the radio warmed up a bit. I suspect a temperature calibration for your radio will be necessary, if you have that capability. At a minimum, a heat sink will be required.

Full disclosure: I’m just starting down this road. All feedback welcomed.

A Reader Sends: Scanning with Yaesu FT-817

h/t Joe

Hey Sparks,
I saw this on the 817 forum.  You may know this already, but….  I have not yet verified this.

Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:38 pm (PDT) . Posted by:


Hi all,

Just thought I’d share a tip here in case anybody might like to know.

I sometimes use one of my FT-817s to scan analog public service frequencies in my area by using an external receive converter (MFJ-313). The converter is just a simple 10mhz oscillator/mixer combo which down converts to the 2m band. Works well.

The problem was “proper” scanning, until I figured it out. The FT-817 gives 4 scan resume choices via menu #41 – delay times of 3/5/10 seconds or off. So if you have a delay time selected, the radio will stop on a signal and then resume scanning at the chosen delay time even with a signal present.

Quite annoying for scanning if you want to hear entire transmissions. Most types of scanning receivers allow for stopping on a valid signal and holding there until the signal ceases and then resume scanning after a short delay.

Guess what? The FT-817nd does this too!

The FT-817 manual states that if menu #41 is set to “off” , then the radio will not resume scanning unless scanning is manually restarted by the user – i.e. pushing up/down mic buttons etc.


I discovered by accident that this IS NOT the case with either of my FT-817nd radios! YAY!!

If I set menu #41 to “off” , my radios both behave like real scanners should – they stop on a signal, wait until it is gone, delay about 2 seconds, and then resume scanning. :).

So with the converter in use and the appropriate 2m frequencies programmed into memories, The FT-817 makes a fine scanner. If this sort of thing interests you, then try it on your FT-817nd – set menu #41 to “off” and see if it behaves per the manual or if it behaves like mine do. :)

– Darrell/K7LZR

New Class: Radio Recon

phone download 5-18-2014 103Sparks31 Radio Recon Course

June 27, 2014 – Rock Springs, WY

This is an intensive 1-day practical course conducted in the field at a remote location near Rock Springs, WY.  Class enrollment is limited to 15 attendees.

The student will arrive at a pre-arranged location with personal field gear and electronic equipment suitable for communications monitoring in the field.  A quick briefing will be conducted followed by a short (<1 mile) rucksack hike to an elevated location where a field monitoring post will be set up, and a field training exercise (FTX) will be conducted in conjunction with practical training on on tactical communications monitoring and COMINT (Communciations Intelligence) collection techniques aimed specifically at the 100 KHz. to 2 GHz. frequency range. Personal communications monitoring equipment/accessories, and adequate field gear are required for this class. The FTX is held *rain or shine*. It will be late June in Wyoming.  Dress and equip yourself appropriately.

The cost of this course is $150. Payment terms are US Postal Service payee blank Postal Money Order or Paypal. Payments via Paypal are subject to an additional charge to offset Paypal fees.  Email sparks31@unseen.is for payment mailing address or click here to pay via Paypal. Course fees are non-refundable. Hotel, travel, and meal arrangements/expenses are the responsibility of the course attendee. Lunch and snacks during the FTX are the responsibility of the student, and will be held in the field. By enrolling in this class, the student agrees to hold Sparks31 and all associates harmless from and against any claims, damages, losses and expenses, including but not limited to attorneys’ fees, arising out of or resulting from any injuries or other damage sustained from attending this course.

phone download 5-18-2014 100

Monday Monitor: Radio Shack Requisitions

Many Radio Shack stores across the nation are closing.  This enables you to acquire parts and equipment at a pretty good discount, 50-70% depending on the item. A reader sent in a request asking what items he should look at in taking advantage of this opportunity.

  • Police Scanners are 50% off.  You can get a digital (p25) trunktracking scanner for around $200-$250 depending on what models that have in stock.  Non-P25 scanners are even less.
  • Pick up copies of Forrest Mims’ Getting Started in Electronics and Engineers Mini-Notebooks if you already haven’t done so.
  • Arduino and Raspberry Pi microcontrollers/single-board computers, along with various accessories/sensor modules for same.
  • Any electronic components, since they are 70% off.  555 timer and 741 Op-Amp ICs are useful, especially when combined with the Engineers Mini-Notebooks.
  • RF connectors and adapters.
  • Coaxial cable.
  • Alligator clips.
  • Wire.
  • Radio Shack Mini-Amplified Speaker, RS#277-1008. A very useful item for the test bench.
  • Radio Shack Inductive Pick-Up Microphone RS#44-533. Another useful item to have around.

Those are the items that immediately come to mind, and I’m sure the readership will add others in the comments section.