Muddying the waters: Pofung

Baofeng-Pofung

BF-9500Pofung? A new name, but don’t expect anything interesting to happen. From what I could find all Pofung radios are identical to the ones we already know. The name was spotted by Craig N7LB on the Baofeng website.

What Baofeng can do now – and already does – is re-branding products from other manufacturers. One of these products is a mono-band mobile transceiver we all know to be manufactured by Anytone, the AT-588.

In my opinion all of this is only muddying the waters even further, which is the last thing we want.

Dutch hams: “Goodbye XP, Hello Linux”

I never wanted to be a Linux evangelist, and never pretended to be one either. Times change. Microsoft’s end-of life announcement left many hams using Windows XP worried. What to do? Do what more and more ham operators are doing here: switch to Linux. It’s fast, beautiful, safe and (here comes the magic word) FREE.

Best of both worlds
Dumping XP completely in favor of Linux might not be a good option for everyone. Some ham related software can’t do without Windows. What you can do then is install Linux next to Windows, a so-called dual-boot system. Boot Linux for safety, speed and the wealth of more than 62.000 applications, and boot XP when you really have to.

What Linux version?
Linux addicts like to live on the bleeding edge and switch from version to version. Most popular versions (called distributions, for a list see Distrowatch.com) have a life cycle of 6 months or so, after which you’re supposed to update to the new version. I agree that this is fun, but for the average user this is not very practical. A smarter option is to pick an LTS (Long Time Support) version, which is supported for a period of 5 years. Ubuntu and Mint (which is based on Ubuntu) both offer such LTS versions.

Not too long ago Ubuntu had everything going for it, but that changed from the moment the developers tried to force-feed Unity, a new graphical user interface, to their users. I’ve worked wit Unity – at least I tried to – but found it to be mediocre at best. Linux Mint on the other hand lets you pick the desktop environment of choice. As a result the popularity of Ubuntu dropped like a stone, while Mint’s user base exploded.

The most popular desktops are MATE and Cinnamon. Both are slick, fast and ideal for Windows users who love a start button of sorts and navigate through applications the way they used to. Below screenshots of MATE and Cinnamon.

The current LTS version of Linux Mint is version 13 (Maya) (download here) which will be supported until mid 2017. Make sure you pick a version suitable for your system — you need to know if your processor is 32-bits or 64-bits. A new LTS version of Mint will be available around June 2014.

If you give Linux Mint a try, please report back to me. I’d love to hear your comments and will do my best to answer any questions you might have.

Lisheng UT858 mobile radio

A new mono-band mobile radio popped up on the radar screen: the Lisheng UT858. I kinda like the military look. The radio spits out 50 Watts max. and comes in four flavors: 136-174 MHz, 350-390 MHz, 400-470 MHz and 450-520 MHz.

According to the listing on Alibaba.com the price will be around $150, which does not include shipping. The radio isn’t anywhere to be found on AliExpress yet, which (in most cases) means that you can’t buy one, at least not with any kind of buyer protection.

On the Alibaba page the following payment methods are mentioned: L/C (Letter of Credit), T/T (Telegraphic Transfer aka bank transfer) and Western Union. Neither of these three methods are safe, so beware.

Lisheng 1Lisheng 2Lisheng 3

 Company website: http://www.cnlisheng.com/aspx/EN/index.aspx

General Specifications
Frequency Range 136-174 / 350-390 / 400-470 / 450-520 MHz
Channel Capacity 199 groups
Channel zones 32
Frequency Spacing 25/12.5/10/6.25/5KHz
Working Voltage 13.8V DC±15%(11.7-15.8V)
Frequency Stability ±2.5ppm
Operating Temperature Range -25°c to + 60°c
Antenna Impedance 50Ω
Dimensions (LxWxH) 185 X 56 X 170mm
Weight (approx.) 1.16kg
Transmitter(ETSI EN 300 086 standard testing)
Output power VHF: 50W/25W/10W, UHF: 45W/25W/10W
Modulation mode 16KΦF3E/11KΦF3E
Spurious Radiation 60dB
Maximum Frequency Deviation ≤±5KHz/±2.5KHz
Audio Distortion ≤5%
Adjacent Channel Power ≤-70dB/≤-60dB
Receiver (ETSI EN 300 086 Standard testing):
Receiving Sensitivity ≤0.20uV/≤0.25uV
Modulation receiver bandwidth ≥|±7KHz|/|±3.5KHz|
Adjacent Channels Selectivity ≥60dB/60dB
Intermediation ≥60dB
Spurious Response ≥60dB
Squelch Response ≥60dB
Frequency Stability
±250MHz
Audio Output Power 500mW

Speaker Mic Antenna, a weird accessory

As seen on eBay, and it’s yours for about $15. Strange as this gadget may look, I actually see an advantage when it comes to range. A handheld firmly attached to your belt combined with an ordinary speaker microphone won’t translate into an optimal range. The antenna is just a few feet above ground, and the proximity to your body reduces efficiency even further.

That said, it looks weird, very weird. I can’t see myself walking around with it. Update: my reader’s comments reveal that the quality is very poor; purchase not recommended.

Speaker-Mic-Antenna