A new paddle on the block

After the sad closing down of Palm Radio products, makers of the wonderful miniature CW paddles so many portable operators use, CWops member Peter GM0EUL has set out to make something similar. The UMPP-1 is currently in a beta phase, and one condition of buying it is giving feedback on usability and ergonomics. So I went ahead and ordered one, and here are my thoughts on it.

First impressions are that the packaging has been carefully thought about – the paddle comes in an ‘Altoid’ type tin, with foam insert cut to hold the paddle and small hex wrench for adjusting the contact grub screws. Very nicely presented.

The paddle itself is very small, shown here with a UK 1p coin for scale. For two-handed operation it’s easy enough to hold, but you can only hold it from the sides due to the moving parts – a magnet in the base would be very handy as then it could be stuck to the tin or the radio. I can picture it slipping out of the hands on a cold wet mountain top! Using it on a desk, it still has to be held by the sides, as putting any pressure from above interferes with the paddles.
The inner workings are quite exposed, though – the contacts are made from copper foil and may not like seaside air, and I’m also wondering how long it’ll be before some random bit of swarf gets stuck to the magnets.

The paddle action is quite nice; initially I found the travel a bit long but a quick adjustment of the grub screws sorted that out. It didn’t come with a connecting lead, so I had to go out to the car and grab my audio cable to connect it up. Once wired up to the KX3, a half hour session giving some points away on a 40m contest wasn’t too tiring in use, once I’d got my grip sorted it was just like using my Palm Pico (which I operate two-handed).

All in all a nice project, and with a few small changes it’d be a good companion for portable ops like SOTA. It plays nice with the internal keyers in my Elecraft KX3, Yaesu FT-817 and Xiegu X5105.

Do bear in mind that this paddle’s current status is a beta test; future versions may have changes made. When I shared my initial thoughts with Peter, he has since sent me a top cover, which can be attached with a couple of drops of superglue. This allows the paddle to be held down from above, and improves the protection of the inner workings somewhat. Here it is sat next to my Palm Pico.

 

More information can be found on Peter’s website at https://www.umpp-cw.com

Morserino32

A brief look at the Morserino32

I saw this intriguing new kit mentioned by someone on Twitter, and decided to take a closer look.
So a quick email to Wili OE1WKL in Austria, and one affordable PayPal payment later, I was waiting and within a week a small package arrived.
The kit comes as a couple of boards with SMD components pre-populated, all I had to do was solder on the speaker, connectors, and controls. A small LiPo battery was sourced from a toy helicopter I no longer used; the total assembly took less than an hour from start to finish, following the excellent build instructions downloaded from the internet.
So, what does it do then? Well, first off you get a 5 to 50wpm keyer that connects to a radio. The morserino also has audio in and can act as a decoder; audio out so it can be used on iCW or similar internet based morse chat systems. A separate headphones socket so it can be used for quiet practice. You can use your own single or dual-lever paddles, or use the supplied capacitive touch paddles (which I find I quite like, having made a couple of QSOs on air using them).
But the fun doesn’t stop there; also built in are some learning modes too, such as a Koch trainer, random groups, Q codes, common words, and a fun ‘echo’ game where the keyed sends you something and you have to send it back (this can also have a RUFZ-like setting where it gets faster or slower depending on your errors).
Oh and a couple more surprises; it has built-in wifi and you can update the firmware or upload your own text files to it using nothing more than a simple web browser – no more ‘windows only’ or hunting for obscure drivers nonsense, this is pure cross-platform genius.
And the final surprise – if you’re with (or near) someone else who has one of these, you can have an over-the-air QSO with them. Wait, what? Yes – there’s even a built-in transceiver which uses LoRa (long range WiFi in the ISM band). I’ve put a few CQ’s out, but no replies yet…

In summary, a great kit to build and use, and support is excellent with an online user group. It’s well worth a look; check out Willi’s page at http://www.morserino.info/morserino-32.html

Chris, G0JPS Lid #156

LidSpotter – From the ground up

The Lidspotter has now been completely rebuilt from the ground up.
Some issues were noticed where spots got delayed, and reappeared a couple of hours after they should have been posted. This turned out to be a delay in the email part of the chain (Hamalert was doing the spotting, and emailing the spots to the script which formatted and posted out to the social media channels).
After the rebuild (and a bit of debugging), the spotter is now reading a direct feed from the RBN, so our spots now appear almost immediately, rather than the about-a-minute delay as was.
The other improvement is it now reads the Lids_CW member page to directly grab the callsign filter list, so any new members are automatically added to the list when Michael updates the site. Previously I had to notice a tweet, and edit two separate lists on different services; now it’s just a case of sit back and watch!

Oh, and the last bit of good news, Twitter are allowing us to post again!

73 and see you on the air
Chris, G0JPS

LidSpotter’s new lease of life

Twitter hasn’t been very nice lately; apart from the constant spamming of adverts all over the place, they have now also severely restricted the ability of bots and scripts to make automated posts, which broke the lidspotter. The program was still happily running, it just couldn’t post. A temporary fix was made (using a very shoddily coded web page), but the bandwidth of a £1.20 per month virtual server isn’t huge.

Enter Telegram. A free, secure messaging app that’s cross platform. I’ve been using it to communicate within a gaming clan for quite some time, and one of the channels we use is run as a news feed, which seemed ideal. So I got some setup details from the chap that made it, and created a LidSpotter version which runs smoothly and faster than twitter’s ever did (and we’ve discovered the alerts can even be made to appear on smart watches, too!). This feed can be found at t.me/LidSpotters

 

 

And now, Mastodon as well. I’d heard of it, but never really looked until Simon G0FCU mentioned it on twitter; so I had a chat with the admin of the mastodon.radio instance

and got permission to play – and, on the first attempt, it works! Just create a free account, and search for @LidSpotBot then follow it.

I’m sure there will be some snags along the way, Mastodon is a new open-source network and is still evolving, but it looks good.

Hope to see more members on there.

 

LidSpotter Revisited

When the LidSpotter died, I was dismayed to find I had lost access to the web facility which turned the Hamalert emails into tweets!
After some chasing around, and finding out that while other sites existed that performed the same service, they all needed to validate email addresses I had no access to.
In desperation, I asked a friend who's a bit of a linux guru. In true 'mate' tradition, he said he wasn't going to do it for me, then told me where I could get a basic, dirt cheap VPS (Virtual Private Server), and lent me a book - "Programming Perl" - and said I could work it out for myself.
So one cheap server, and a lot of googling later, I had 45 lines of script. The server accepts the incoming email from Hamalert, and sends it to the script which removes all the gibberish headers then tweets the spot that's left. The end result is I learned something,  and the spotter's working again, hooray!
Once again, apologies for the interruption to the service.
Chris G0JPS