Monday, July 25, 2016


For months, my nano-node made the most horrible screaming noise. I've been too busy, and I didn't get around to writing to Mark at Micro Node for a few months to see if there was a cure. All that time, I blamed the Nano node unfairly. I played with the CTCSS tone, and discovered if I turned it off, the noise would go away. Seemed odd, especially since the radio and the node were tuned to the same frequency tone. And then the noise came back.

I tried a different radio. Suddenly, the noise was gone. The radio, not the node, was bad. According to the Internet, a filter has a tendency to go bad on that radio, which was a Yaesu VX-6r. The filter is an inexpensive part, but nonetheless, this component failure brought on a debate.

All my batteries for my VX-6r have gone bad, except one which is still usable. Replacing the battery would cost $16 to $35 per pack. Therefore, the radio would have to be fixed and I would have to buy new batteries. We're looking at $20 to $40 including battery if I fixed it myself (which would be very likely).

However, Baofeng sells nice Handy Talkies (batteries included), starting at $24. I already own one, and apart from having to yell into the separate speaker microphone, this is a very good unit. I asked some ham friends on Facebook what they thought about my dilemma, and I got the usually conservative answer: buy expensive, buy Japanese radios. The friends thought Baofeng was a cheap squawk box (70s term for transmitters with harmonic transmissions or distortion and a bad front end). Squawk Boxes always produced NALs from the FCC.

I did some research. The best article I found was by PD0AC. Interestingly, he tested the Baofeng UV-5R and found a very sound radio. I've experimented with this type of radio for over 10 years. The first one I got years ago, I didn't like so I sold it on EBay. The UV-5RA I have currently, I've had for 3 or 4 years. That radio has an extended battery that seems to last for months. The whole cost of the radio and the extended battery was around $39, with the radio being $24 of that.

The choice was easy. I decided to decommission my VX-5R in favor of a Baofeng. Amazon had a great deal on a UV-82HP, so I bought one. This is a very nice radio and has lots of features not seen on other brands. Of particular note is the PTT toggle switch so an operator can easily transmit on either of the two frequencies the radio is 'listening' to. There are two squelch open lights, and the keyboard is easy to read and lit. The most important change is how Baofeng wrote a good User Manual and the Menu system for the radio. Both are easy to use, which wouldn't be true in the not too distant past.

All in all, good radios for what I do, and I don't cry when I break one.

Don de AA2V

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Nano Node Review

Micro-Node has built IRLP/Echolink nodes for years.  I always wanted to get one, but the situation never came up until this year.  I'm super busy with two jobs and full time school to contend with, so buying an already completed node felt good.  I like their work, and even though I built 4 nodes myself, they do quite a few things better than I.

My new node number is 3531, and I wound up with a Nano Node.

I found the set up to be flawless, and the node worked well out of the box. I just set it on the shelf, and the node provides service 24/7.

Mark Guibord really makes a good product, and he is willing to offer support.  I ran into him on the 9100 reflector where he was helping other hams use his product.  I am planning on setting up a VPN so I can use the Nano Node with my cell phone.  Mark will help me do this.  I'm impressed.  He's a user as well as a manufacturer.