The Radio Box

How do you stop a hand held radio from falling and being damaged? Do you sometimes put the radio down on a bench or desk between overs or while you are waiting for someone to call you? Some radio’s don’t stand very well on their own, or can fall over easily if the bench is bumped.

Have you ever tried my box method?

I use a stand-up desk most of the time and I found my hand held radio would sometimes topple over and hit the floor hard. The radio hit the floor hard and broke a clip on the battery. It could have been a lot worse, but also could have been avoided also. My box idea has stopped anymore falls.

Wooden box stops hand held radio's from being damaged
Wooden box stops hand held radio’s from being damaged

For my box, I simply just cut 4 small scrap pieces of wood at 45 degrees angles, screwed and glued them together, and there we have it. It doesn’t need a bottom it is so simple. It will look a heap better when I pain or stain it.

A simple wooden box stops my radio from falling over or off the desk
A simple wooden box stops my radio from falling over or off the desk

You could easily make a box like I did, or make several boxes joined together so you get a row. Make sure you build them so you can swap radio’s between boxes should you wish to change the order of them, or should you change or upgrade your radio in the future.

You could also use a speaker mic and keep the radio in the box, this way you can still see the screen, and will not knock you radio over or off the desk.

Here is a short video that shows a bit more detail.

Feel free to follow this web site by putting in your email address so you get notified of future posts. If you have any comments regarding this concept, please let me know – I always appreciate feedback.

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WizNet DMR

The WizNet DMR app is still in beta testing, and at the time of writing this, you have to not only have a currently have a licence as an Amateur Radio Operator, but approved to be part of the beta testing group. You can do this by googling the web site, submitt a few details, and a password. Once approved, you will get an email with a link and log in details that will tell you how to install.

I understand this app is currently only available on android devices at this time, however there are plans to extend this to Apple.

Installing on Android, you will need to make sure you turn on the feature where you download sources from anyone. Once installed, put in your callsign, and your password as per the email and your in.

The first thing you will need to do is click on the settings menu right down the bottom left of the screen. In there you will have your call sign already populated, but you will need to put in your DMR ID number. If you have two Wiznet apps on different devices, you can use two different DMR ID numbers. You can on this same settings screen you can adjust your mic gain also.

Over the left side is five menu options.

The first item at the top on the left side expands out the menu’s so you can see the text for each item and not just the icon.

Talk Groups

By default you should land Talk Groups page which has the icon of a person and paper next to the person.

On this list you can see available talk groups. The scan ones will scan talk groups on that network, and will continue to scan until someone is talking.

Talk Group

When you click on a talk group, you will go to a new screen, the Talk Group screen, where you can see yourself in that talk group, and whoever else is in that talk group that is also using the same app.

If you go into a dynamic one, you can put in the Talk Group number at the top of the screen and select set to join that group. If the dynamic talk group is on the TGIF network, then you can select talk groups on that network to join, however it is on the BrandMeister network, you can select talk groups on that network.

When you switch the dynamic talk group to another talk group, you take everyone already logged into that group with you, so it is usually best to ask to see if anyone else is using it first.

Down the bottom of the screen is the button you press to transmit – you have to hold it unfortunately but I guess this stops accidents.

At the top of the screen is a chat window also. Just select the background and type.

2020 Update

Since writing this review, this software no longer seems to be available. Thank you for the many people who have contacted me to let me know they couldn’t download it. I am not sure what happened, but while it was working it worked very well. Hopefully it will return or turn into something similar soon.


Other Apps and Software

Hope that was helpful. Below are some other apps I have looked at also:

  • Orion Push to Talk
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Android Apps

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  • WizNet DMR
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Apple Apps

  • Orion Push to Talk
    Orion is an app that isn’t really known in my world, perhaps because it isn’t available on all platforms, or because it does transmit your exact location to everyone on the channel. However there are some benefits to this mode and does add another communication mode to your list. You can also create your own…

Orion Push to Talk

Orion is an app that isn’t really known in my world, perhaps because it isn’t available on all platforms, or because it does transmit your exact location to everyone on the channel. However there are some benefits to this mode and does add another communication mode to your list. You can also create your own channels easily in it and invite a small group of friends.

Below is based on my understanding of the app, and may not be 100% accurate, but if you find anything not quite right, or wish to add your suggestion, please let me know.

From what I can see, the app is only available on Android and iPhone, not Windows.

First you need to create an account using an email address and then your off. You can enter a phone number if you want to.

Once you connect to or start a group, you can invite people to join you. Then once in the group, at the top of the screen you can see a map that shows the locations of all current online members in your group. You can zoom in or out the map as required or press on a member and select “show location on map.”

You can then talk to the group by pressing the large microphone button at the bottom of the screen.

The DigiComm Cafe Amateur Radio Group use it, and they welcome new visitors. Otherwise there is nothing stopping you making your own with family and friends.

You do share your exact location though, so be careful who you accept into your group or groups you join if this bothers you. They will be able to see when your home and not for example. However you only share your location when your online, not when your off line.

I can really see many benefits in this great little app, but it only works if you are in a WiFi or phone network area.

Here is the official video, clearly you can get microphones and speakers as shown in the video:

You can download the app here: orionlabs.io/get-the-app/

Further information is available here.


Other Reads

There are many other applications I use on my devices, have a look at some of them I have listed via the list on the right.

Android Apps

Apple Apps

Using an Android TV Box for Ham Radio

If you want to get onto Digital Radio for less (way less) than $100, then you may be interested in this.

I have Apple equipment, and therefore miss out on a lot of the testing apps that are only available on Android. There seem to be more and more there all the time! I don’t want to purchase another phone, just to get a few apps, but I did hear of an alternative.

A friend of mine in Canada, Martin VE3KLR, gave me the idea of using an Android TV box and actually using it as a radio! He had already done it and believes it could end up doing a lot more than what I have posted below. With the amount of apps now available, you can talk on almost all networks now via Android. You sure get some funny replies when you say your on a TV box.

I had to do it as more and more people were talking about Android apps.

Not knowing much about Android at all, this project started to quickly become overwhelming, so I ended up putting it on hold for some time.

However I later decided to get back on this project. It just seemed to easy. So this is what I did.

The Box

I purchased a cheap Android TV Box, mine was worth $40.99 including postage. You could almost purchase any Android box, but I decided to get one with at least two USB ports, and blue tooth. Blue tooth will allow me to connect other things like keyboards, microphones and mouses as I want to. It also has wifi, which means less cords.

At first, I was using this TV Box with out old CRT TV, and it worked well, the writing was a little hard to read, but it still worked. I then plugged it into a HDMI monitor, and it worked very well, very clear and easy to use.

As this little box plugs into a nice TV screen, you could easily use this as a small computer by installing a word processor. Social media, YouTube and web browsing are easy also.

Once connected, I connected it to my Wifi. On my box, you can plug in a Ethernet cable which is handy if your shack is far from your router, but I chose not to at this stage.

When you get one, make sure yours comes with the correct AC plug for your country. You may want to think about if you want HDMI, Blue tooth and how many USB ports does it have. Remember, these boxes are meant to store and play video, so they usually come with a lot of hard drive space and grunt for what we are going to us it for.

Below are some pictures of the one I got, however I am not necessarily recommending it. There are heaps of options available, so do a bit or research first, but remember most reviews will be about how well they play movies, which is not why I got mine.

As I mentioned earlier, there are heaps of Amateur Radio apps now available, and new ones all the time, so you could install these on the same device.

I started with some of the basic apps, like Echolink, Peanut, Teamspeak and Zello. These also have the echo function where you can test sound also.

The Monitor

You probably don’t need to get a monitor, but you may want to when you see what I got. I purchased a small 9 inch monitor that runs off 12 volts. I was going to get a 5 inch one, but it ran of 8 volts, and the one I got is just that little bit bigger for my eyes. This monitor has several different input options so I could future proof this handy little monitor. It also had speakers inbuilt, so when using HDMI, everything sound and video is taken care of.

You can get larger monitors ones, or smaller ones, but I thought this one would sit well on my desk. It also came with a nice stand. You can see in the video how well it sits on my desk in front of my PC monitors.

What other things do you need?

For me, I found a mouse most useful. You can use the remote, but if you plug in a mouse, you almost don’t need a remote anymore.

A microphone is something else you should invest in. You can purchase these for almost $1 delivered, but I often think you get what you pay for, and the microphone is very important. Having said that, as you are going to use the microphone on digital talk groups only, some would argue it isn’t as important as analog.

A keyboard would be great. You could plug it in via USB, or connect in via Bluetooth. I haven’t done this as yet, but plan to.

You can plug in a USB Bluetooth dongle also should you not need to.

Other Uses

Another use for this is to put your electronic QSL cards on it. It makes a great slideshow for the radio shack! They usually come with large hard drives so lots of space for these.

As I mentioned earlier, it could be used for gaming, watching videos,

Mobile

The screen is 12 volts, so this could easily go in the car also, and the Android TV Box could be secured on the back of it. The box runs off 5 volts, so this could easily be also run in the car if your cleaver enough to drop 12 volts to 5 volts.

The TV box can uses wifi, so you should be able to connect it to your mobile phone.

I hope that helps get a few more onto the digital bands. It is a lot of fun on digital. I have made good friends all over the world over digital. Having this Android TV Box not only allows me access to Android Apps, but pretty much gives me a new radio so I can now receive and transmit on a different talk groups while using my current setup to work other talk groups at the same time.

Update: since writing this post, I have updated and changed my android TV box as I suddenly had sound issues. The one I ended up getting had a later version on android and more memory etc.

Other Reads

Below are some other posts I have done on similar topics