18 January, 2014

Single-lever and ultimatic adapter

Photo @LA3ZA 
Here's an adapter that emulates both a single-lever paddle mode and the ultimatic mode. It is meant to go between a dual-lever paddle and an iambic keyer. The adapter has been implemented in an AVR Butterfly in C and it is compatible with Morse keyers such as the one in the Elecraft K3 and the K1EL WKUSB. The single-lever emulation is probably the most novel part and it is meant to make it easier to practice single-lever keying on a dual-lever paddle.

09 January, 2014

Video of busy 70 cm ISM band due to car key fobs

The audio in particular should make it clear how busy the frequencies around 433.92 MHz are:

Data recorded from an RTL-SDR USB dongle with the SDR# program using the Apowersoft Free Online Screen Recorder.

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06 January, 2014

Not so busy 70 cm ISM band

Yesterday's post entitled "Car keys in the 70 cm band" showed a very busy band around 433.92 MHz with up to 10 simultaneous transmissions. That snapshot was taken on a Sunday afternoon at 16:32 local time. Here is a much less crowded snapshot taken with the USB SDR-RTL dongle under the same conditions as the previous blog post. The difference is that this is from late Monday night at 23:34 local time:

Press image for a larger view

There are only three bursts of about 1 second length here. This shows that the activity in the band varies a lot and in my mind strengthens the case for believing that the main contribution is from car keys. But of course, one cannot be certain without decoding the bursts. That is possible for weather stations, as shown by Gough Lui in the article "RTL-SDR: 433.92Mhz ASK/OOK Decoding of Various Devices with rtl_433". The bursts can easily be heard if the receiver is set for Wide FM, as shown in the settings of SDR# in the image above.

Thanks to all viewers who have made the former blog post the most popular on my blog for this week. Thanks also to the RTL-SDR blog which gave it publicity in the blog post "Looking at the 432 to 438 MHz ISM band".

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05 January, 2014

Car keys in the 70 cm band

The 70 cm amateur band covers from 432 to 438 MHz in Norway and radio amateurs have primary status. Secondary users are among others remote controls for keyless entry systems for cars since it is an ISM (Industrial, Scientific, Medical) band also.

I wanted to see how much traffic the secondary users generate. I used my RTL-SDR dongle with RTL2832U and R820T chips that I bought on Ebay for less than 10 US$ almost a year ago. The antenna was a roof mounted HL-B61N vertical (1.7 m long). This is the output of the SDR# program:

Press image for a larger view

It is clear that this band is pretty busy! No wonder that amateur repeaters have had to move their input frequency away from this frequency range. 

The waterfall covers 10-12 seconds and there are up to 10 transmissions simultaneously. The nominal frequency is 433.92 MHz and there are emissions from 433.75 - 434.05 MHz. I live in a suburban area with about 1 million people, but I imagine that I only pick up a small part of the remotes in this area since the car key transmitters are very weak. Anyway it demonstrates both the versatility of the cheap software defined receiver dongle, as well as how busy the band is. 

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