Category: Tips, Tricks, and Troubles

Antenna Radiation Characteristics (Great Demonstration!)

click image video will open in new window

click image video will open in new window

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Antennas ...(But were afraid to ask) Frank Rutter K3AW

I’m not exactly sure how I came across this video, but, I am thrilled that I have! This might be the best demonstration of antenna radiation characteristics that I have seen.

Frank Ruter  K3AW gives an excellent presentation at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory  August 4, 1981.  

In which, he discusses and demonstrates the radiation pattern of a wide variety of antenna types including; verticals, dipoles, quad, yagi, and others in various configurations. 

This demonstration will allow the viewer to SEE how these radiate and get a good idea of the angles of radiation and lobe strength. What a fantastic resource for those of us that like to experiment with antennas!

The video is long, but I enjoyed every bit! I hope that you enjoy it too!

Leave comments in the discussion section below.

EchoLink Tip – See the whole list!

A GREAT EchoLink Tip from N3RO!

Our Coffee Shop is a great place!  I learn something almost everyday as a result of my participation here. This is a great tip and I have never seen it documented anywhere, so I want to do that here and share it with the group!

Our Coffee Shop has been growing by leaps and bounds! It is wonderful to see all the new folks joining us here, but, with that, we have found yet another “bug” in the Echolink software for the PC.

If we happen to have more than about 22 active participants in the list during a net the bottom of the list becomes obscured.  It would have been nice if the EchoLink software would allow you to scroll down, but this is NOT an option.

Since we always “pass to the bottom of the list” in Our Coffee Shop, we really need to know who is at the bottom. 


Many thanks to N3RO for sharing this wonderful tidbit with us this morning!

To see the bottom of the list when the list is full follow this procedure:

  1. Click in the LIST portion of the EchoLink window.

  2. Hit the PAGE DOWN button on the keyboard!

That’s it!  A huge thank you to N3RO for providing this fantastic undocumented tip!  

Do you have tips and tricks you would like to share with the group?  Just send me an email with the info and I will get here on the site for everyone to enjoy!

Please leave comments below, and please, share this page via the share buttons!

Scanner Listening without a Scanner

I’ve been a radio listener for most of my life, always fascinated with what I can hear, on any kind of radio I can get my hands on.  

I grew up in a time when the handheld AM transistor radio was the easiest way to take some music and news with you wherever you went.  Those small receivers certainly didn’t offer a lot of audio quality, but the portability couldn’t be beat! And, they were relatively inexpensive. A couple of weekends mowing the neighbors yards would provide the needed funds to buy an inexpensive receiver.

Today I still find myself searching the RF spectrum in search of radio signals. Most any kind will do for some entertainment. One of my favorite things to occasionally listen to my local public service frequencies.

Fire, Rescue, Police, etc., are interesting to listen to, but, depending on where you live, and the systems your local services are using, it is getting harder to do. Particularly if you don’t have an expensive “trunk – tracking”  scanner. It seems to me that most of these services have migrated to using more sophisticated radio systems that my 25 year old scanner just won’t keep up with.


There is the problem. My toy budget just doesn’t always meet the needs/desires of my hobbies. Replacing my old scanner with a new modern one is probably not going to happen right away, maybe ever.  A new scanner is pretty far down the list of new toys I want for my radio hobby.

So, I had to look for another solution. Enter, the internet! LOL like so many other aspects of our hobby today, the internet provides solutions of all kinds. Instant news, information, entertainment, and yes… the ability to listen to local scanner frequencies!  

If you haven’t tried this yet, you might be in for a real treat! I sure was! I came across this site while doing some research on scanner frequencies for another project.  I’m sure I have seen and used some of these “feeds” before, but it has been a long time.

Broadcastify bills themselves as the “Worlds largest source of Public Safety, Aircraft, Rail, and Marine live audio streams.”  They may be right. I don’t think I have seen any other single source with the variety of locations and content available here.

6945 live feeds available at the time of this writing! Wow, that’s a lot of content! If you want to find out what feeds are available from your local area, or another area of interest, start here >>>

Just click the link, select your desired location and a list will be provided of the streaming content that is available for that area. There’s a good chance that you will find something of interest!

Be sure and share your comments in the comment section below, and please share this page via the share buttons here too!

Echolink on your Cell Phone


Using Echolink on your Cell Phone

I have created this post to have a discussion about using EchoLink on your cell phone. Since I only have experience using EchoLink on an Android device, I hope that some of you folks with Iphones will use the comment section to add to the discussion.

As you may know, EchoLink is a rather dated application that does not receive many, if any, updates. This is ok for the most part as the application does get the job done, but, I have noticed a few things that I wish could be corrected or added to the program.

  1. No time out timer – When using Echolink on a PC, you have the ability to use a timer that will warn you when you are about to time out. This timer is configurable, and is a handy tool. Particularly in Our Coffee Shop where “Geraldine” the infamous alligator, will nip at your ankle if you should transmit beyond the 2.5 minute limit established in Our Coffee Shop. So, one of my greatest wishes for the Android version of Echolink, would be to include a timer that would provide a warning when you are approaching the predetermined time out in the conference. Maybe one day, but, I’m not holding my breath since it looks unlikely there will ever be an update.
  2. Automatic text connection that works – EchoLink offers both a VOIP connection to the group, individual, or conference you are connected to, and a text chat connection too. Many times there is just as much going on in the group via text as there is “on the mic.” Unfortunately, if you are using an Android device, (and maybe an Iphone as well,) you will miss out on the text chat if you don’t send some characters when you enter the conference. Many times I have been in Our Coffee Shop using my Android cell phone, enjoying the voice conversation, and I hear someone refer to something in the text chat. When I click to see, and join in the text chat, there is nothing there. Well after some time and experimentation, I have come to the conclusion that if I don’t send some kind of text in that window, I won’t receive any. I’m sure this has happened to some of you as well. The solution is easy, but you will have to remember to do it each time you enter a conference on Echolink. After you enter the conference, just send a few characters. Frequently I use (…) or something similar, but it would just as good to say “hi” or some other greeting to the group perhaps. If you have been missing out on the text chat conversations while using your Android or Iphone device, try this method and see if it works for you.
  3. Simultaneous use of two applications – One more item that I have had trouble doing while using the Android version of EchoLink is, pulling up another window or browser tab while transmitting. I have tried this operation many times, and everytime I do, I cease to transmit when I change focus on the phone. My phone is capable of doing a split screen to run 2 applications at once, but, even when I try it this way, the moment I touch the secondary application, my transmission ends.  So far, I have not found a work around for this issue.
These are a few of the items that I have had issues with while using EchoLink on my Android phone or tablet. Have you had these issues as well? Are there other things that cause you difficulties? Please share your experiences, tips, tricks, etc. in the discussion below.

Your tips, tricks and experiences can be of great value to other members of Our Coffee Shop! Please consider sharing your knowledge with us here!

You can send these kinds of things to me via email and I will create a post for you, or, if you like, I can set you up with a page here on the site that you can post to. 

Please share your knowledge and experiences with the group!

Create a shortcut to OCS on your Android phone

Your gonna like this easy method to add a shortcut to our website on your Android phone! Chances are, once you do it, you’ll do it for some of your other favorite sites too!

I know, you can always use your browser favorites, but try this shortcut method and you will be hooked!

  1. Open a Chrome browser window and navigate to

  2. Tap the menu button in the top right corner.


3. Select “Add to Home screen”


4. Here you can edit the name if you like, or just tap “Add” in the bottom right of the pop up.


5. Just tap the “Add” in the bottom right of this pop up.

Screenshot_20191203-203320_One UI Home

You will get a confirmation that it has been added to your home screen. 

Depending on how busy your home screen on your phone is, (how many icons you have), you may have to go looking for the shortcut that you just created.

I created an additional blank homepage on my phone so I could put these kinds of things in a special place.  For those that have a phone that has a sliding side panel display, you can put it there too!

Now that you know how to do this, You might like to add shortcuts to some of your other favorite sites. 

Use the comment section below.


Wifi Trouble

Most of you know that I have been in the process of moving from one home to another.  These kinds of events are always filled with challenges. Some of them easy to figure out and resolve, some perhaps a little more difficult.

We get used to our operational conditions, and environment, and when you move, these things change. Ofcourse. 

One issue that I have been struggling with the past few days is problems with my previously very reliable wireless router.

Internet service here is provided by Spectrum. We subscribe to 100 mb internet service for the introductory rate of $44.95 per month. 

For this, you get a cable modem connected to their service. If you want them to provide wireless networking, you have to pay an additional $5 per month to rent a wireless router. They will set that up for you so its basically plug and play.

But, since I already have a couple of wireless routers, I see no need to rent one from them.

Using the exact same equipment here that we were using at our old address, for some reason, when I connected my ASUS RT-AC66R wireless router to the cable modem it wouldn’t allow our devices to connect. Ugh…

The technician that came to install the cable modem, offered no assistance with my equipment, which I suppose would be expected, but, interestingly, when he saw that my gear wasn’t immediately working, he didn’t offer to provide a wireless router that he would connect and ensure that it is functioning.  If he had, we probably would have done that just to get it going without further hassle.

So, I asked him to demonstrate that his equipment was working correctly. To do so, he connected his own wireless router to the cable modem and was able to connect to it with his phone, no problem.

So, this indicated the problem was with my router. To solve the issue required a hard reset of my router which wiped out all my previous settings. No big deal, I can recreate the network that I had previously established with that device, and, I did. 

After doing so, all of our devices, phones, tablets, tv’s, were able to connect without issue.  Whew ..   Nice to have that problem solved, or so I thought. 

At our previous address, I was able to walk outside, all over the property and receive good signal. On the back porch for example where I spend a considerable amount of time in Our Coffee Shop, I had great signal and connectivity.

Well, that is not the case here. While I could move about many locations in, and outside of our new home without issue, I was finding that on the back porch, and particularly the seat where I wanted to sit had little to no signal and dropping the connection frequently.

I tried relocating the wireless router a bit. No real improvement. The option to move it closer to the back porch is possible, but, will require running additional wire / cable through the house which might prove to be somewhat difficult and unattractive. 

But this issue of how terrible the connection was in the particular seat that I would like to sit in was really bugging me. I could move a couple of feet in either direction and it would improve, but not by much.

l began to consider that perhaps there was some other wifi signals that might be causing some interference. I have seen this problem before, so I thought I would check it out.

Break out the long trusted app from Farproc called “Wifi Analyzer.” 



Wifi Analyzer by Farproc

Wifi Analyzer is a tool that I have been using for many years. I have found it to be a great free tool for getting a look at the wifi traffic where ever you go. 

The app offers quite a few different ways to look at the wifi signals in your area. I have used it before to troubleshoot wifi issues. 

If I need to set up a new wifi network somewhere, often I will use this program to help identify open channels in the spectrum to put the new network.

In the image you can see that the wifi signal from “DIRECT…. FireTV…” is much stronger, and on the same wifi channel as my router represented by the dark blue / purple line called “ASUS TW.” 

I took this screenshot of my phone while sitting in my favorite chair on the back porch. Unfortunately, the FireStick plugged in to the TV in the living room is much closer to that chair than my ASUS router, and since they are on both on the same channel, I’m sure this is what is causing my difficulty.

Now that I know I have these two devices operating on the same frequency, channel 11,  I should be able to correct the issue by changing the channel on my router.


Screen Capture from Wifi Analyzer

Changing the channel worked!

Here is an image of the Wifi Analyzer taken while sitting in the same spot as before. after making a few changes to my wifi configuration on my router, and, on my FireTV device. 

 You can see that my router, ASUS TW 2.4 (renamed at the same time as changing the channel,) is now a little stronger and further away from the other traffic. 

You may notice that you no longer see the interfering signal from the FireTV.  The reason for this is that changed its connection from the 2.4G to the 5G that my router offers.

Something I also find interesting, is that after I moved both thre router and the FireTV off channel 11 on the 2.4G, a lot of other items on channel 11 became visable. None of which belong to me, or are in my home.

The final result is that now I have better signal and maintain a good flow of data while I sit in my favorite spot on the back porch.

I hope that this post might stir your interest in your own Wifi situation. If it does, please let us all know in the comments below. 

Do you have a similar tool that you use? Have you had a similar experience? Was the idea of this kind of potential interference new to you? 

Let us know!  Post your comments below!