A $114 all-in-one D-Star, System Fusion, DMR, and P25 hot-spot digital modem dongle

All,  I just got a hold of a neat little gadget available on ebay for $114 shipped (from Hong Kong).  It is a fully integrated MMDVM (multi-mode digital voice modem) on a board that interfaces with a Raspberry Pi Nano single-board computer.   It comes in a tiny case with an OLED display screen, and a UHF ducky antenna.

SO…what can you do with this dongle?   Well..many digital repeaters are networked together….and connected to various “chat rooms” and “reflectors”.   Thus, a virtual congregation of hams from all over the world meet up.   However, some places may lack a repeater (or like many students, you’re limited to a simple D-Star, Fusion, or DMR handheld without the ability to install outdoor antennas to reach the regular repeater).

No problem — all you need is this dongle, a  5V wallwart, and a WIFI connection… oh, and your regular dstar or fusion or dmr radio.   You configure the dongle to connect to the internet and connect you to those various reflectors/chat rooms of your choice using a user-interface known as Pi-Star.

The small hotspot dongle connects to your radio on your choice of VHF or UHF frequencies (simplex in most cases).  Thus, the ‘last mile’ connection is from your HT / Radio to the dongle and is done with RF.

What results is an HT that is truly global-capable as long as the internet connection is available.    Some guys are even using mobile WIFI/LTE hotspots to take their HT mobile while staying connected every step of the way through the D-Star, Fusion, or DMR network.

What’s more:  a College hamradio chat room has been created on the DMR network – node 9500 – to allow college club stations to communicate with each other, to network, and to have fun.


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School Club Roundup – and one of our field day ops on the ARRL landing page !

Reminder the winter/spring School Club Roundup is on air and happening now !

Here is Trevor Cutshall,  younger brother of club president Ryan Cutshall KD9DAB and one of our HS student field day ops for K9IU/K9SOU joint field day.   Here, Trevor is operating out of K9SOU Bloomington South HS, likely piloting them to another SCR first place win!   School Club Roundup is happening NOW !    Feb 12-16.  Please get on the air and work the schools that are calling “CQ SCR”!    If you’re a school club,  be it university/college or high school/middle school/elementary school…by all means, GET ON THE AIR !!!!

DE K9IU … Making Ham Radio Cool (again) !

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Boat Anchors….

A recent visit to Mike, WB0SND’s ham shack.  This is  half of the “boat anchors ” on this side of his ham shack.  Just a few toys, eh?  How about the AM transmitter – a bunch of  813 ‘s modulating some 4-400’s.   This thing loafs along at the legal limit of 375W AM carrier.    It will do double that (3KW effective DC output) without breaking a sweat.

I just want to know what brand of  desk he is using.  That’s some heavy metal !       Mike was a member of the University of Missouri, Rolla  (W0EEE) club back in the day.    He is active on most contests and uses the old gear often !

Do you AM ?     Give 7.290 Mhz a try !

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A $109 HF all band SSB and CW Transceiver from India! Meet the UBitX (micro Bit X)

Wow.      For $109 you can get on the air with 10-15 watts of RF, covering all ham bands.  SSB?   CW?   Digital modes?   No problem !!   QRP?   QRO?   Also No Pproblem.

The opportunities are endless.

How about putting this in a box, along with a single board computer (pi, other) and a small LCD screen, antenna tuner, SWR meter, an LIFE4PO battery  and have an all in one, battery operated  fully digital HF station?   I just ordered one of these — I prevously built the BitX40 and it worked great.   Want to learn more?



Ready to buy one?  Go over to the HF Signals web site, check it out.





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K9IU was  ON AIR participating in North America QSO Party.

Final score:  Total Points = 16,380


Total Contacts by Band and Mode:   note first time to have all band access with new antennas !

Band QSO  %Total

160    6   3
80   30  15
40  106 54
20    29  16
15     22  11
10       2   1
— —– — —– —
Total Q’s     195

K9IU President and IU Student Ryan Cutshall, KD9DAB mans the new Icom IC-7300 – radio was purchased through a generous ARRL Foundation Grant that was just approved ! Thanks Newington. We are contest ready and radio active !
KB9YOJ discusses antenna theory with the club while waiting his chance to pilot the station during NAQP – SSB.


NQ9L and KC9YSG pose in front of the new ARRL-funded Icom IC-7300 ! Thank you ARRL. K9IU has been a continuous ARRL dues paying club since the early 1960’s. Thank you for reciprocating our decades of dues-paying loyalty with a generous Foundation Grant to help us fund some new equipment and keep students ON AIR !
Behind Door number 3… actually, behind door #677 at the Indiana Memorial Union. The K9IU ham shack! What’s inside? Our HF station, a small server room and a hacker’s space for experimenting and building electronic / ham projects. It’s small but it works !


73 DE K9IU



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Tour of the old Russian Duga 3 aka the Woodpecker

A bit of  ham radio history:

For hams who were active back in the  1970’s through the 1980’s on any HF band, an often annoying interference was heard day and night. This interference was commonly known as the Woodpecker because it cycled on and off in 16hz increments and sounded..well…like ole’ woody woodpecker….tap tap tap tap tap.   I was so loud that it could easily drown out WWV’s time signal.   What was woody ?     It was a long range, over the horizon radar system near Chernobyl, and was designed to bounce radar signals off the ionosphere and deep into the USA to detect potential nuclear missile launches aimed toward the Soviet Union using back scatter off of the ionosphere.   For USA hams, it was simply annoying QRM.   Eventually, various gadgets were created to tackle the Woodpecker.


AEA made a device called the “Moscow Muffler” which would sync with the woodpecker and notch it out of your receiver.  It worked, somewhat, but not entirely.   Eventually, hams learned to simply switch over to CW and send a string of dits for 20 seconds or so.  Apparently, this would confuse the radar (getting a false echo bounce) and the radar sweep would move to another part of the radio spectrum.

At 5 megawatts (5 million watts) of power, it’s no wonder the $89 “Moscow Muffler” didn’t exactly work as hoped…. The huge transmitter used nearly 25% of the entire power output of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The DUGA- 3 OTH (over the horizon) radar was decommissioned in 1989, as the cold war came to an end and a new era of Peristroyka ushered in historic changes to, and then the collapes of,  the Soviet Union.

The 1980’s were  a fun time in ham radio.   QSL cards from the cold-war soviet union were sometimes difficult to get and always prized.   They were often printed on very thin paper (recycled) and were quite colorful and creative despite the obvious scarcity of resources.    All cards were strictly monitored, and to QSL, one had to send a “green stamp” (dollar bill) or an IRC (international reply coupon) to PO Box 88, Moscow, Russia, USSR.    Those indeed w

Here is a youtube video of a lady who is visiting the infamous DUGA-3 radar antenna site.      She does a remarkable job in the video to show the massive size of this antenna.


And the original woodpecker in action as heard over WWV:

Finally, a bit more about DUGA-3

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Mesh Networks over Ham Radio….

From QRZ.com:  This video will explain mesh networking over ham radio. Imagine taking old consumer wireless routers that are available everywhere, especially finding stacks of them at hamfests for next to nothing, and flashing them with new firmware and turning them into ham nodes, which auto join and auto configure to connect us all to our own internet-like infrastructure. A must have for emergency communications, and a good watch for fun as well….

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