The Wizard or The Trouble in Hambor

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The clipping action generates harmonics that fall within the audio passband of the tone decoder It seems that Ma Bell's decoders get hyper if there are any sig- nals louder than 20 dB less than the level of the tones. This means that if there are any extraneous signals pres- ent along with the tones, the decoder may refuse to recognize the tones- Since most people cannot even tell that any distortion ex- ists on the tone signals, let alone what the relative level between the high tone and low tone is, it is ab- solutely ludicrous to at- tempt to set your pad level by ear.

This usually results in constant on-the-air trial and error testing, irritating those monitoring and frus- trating the poor operator who bats only. There is a better way. In anticipation of these types of problems, we at WR2ABS installed a simple relative-deviation-level meter on our autopatch re- cording receiver We set all tone pads by meter reading, eliminating all of the guess- work and the bother, There is no real reason why we installed the meter on the autopatch recorder receiver except that it was convenient and we didn't have another receiver lying around.

As this meter circuit, shown in Fig. But, once found, the meter can be declared "the golden standard" and can be used to set every- one's tone pads consistent- ly, The input of the meter circuit is connected to the output of the discriminator circuit The easiest point is usually on the hot side of the volume control. The meter circuit must be con- nected before the squelch gate and before the volume control. We want neither the squelch control nor the volume control position to affect the meter calibration in any way.

The discrim- inator output is fed to an operational amplifier through a 15k pot which serves as a gain control. The amplified audio is rectified by the full-wave bridge, the peak output of which is ap- plied to the meter. The meter will respond to peak deviation of either polarity. To calibrate, the 1 5k pot is set so that the meter reads full scale when no signal is present.

The background noise level will indicate more strongly than a modulated signal, and by setting it to full scale on the meter, it will provide a re- peatable upper level in case recalibration becomes necessary. The specific set- ting for the autopatch will need to be determined by trial and error, as each re- peater setup will vary, The meter is not a linear device, so unless it is calibrated with another device of known accuracy, remem- ber to use the readings as strictly relative — repeat- able, but relative.

The touchtone signal consists of two sine-wave audio tones The low group representing the rows are , , , and Hz, respectively. The high group representing the col- umns are , , and Hz, respectively. Ideally, the proper tone consists of a high tone and a low tone and nothing else, including such things as harmonics from clipping, voices, noise from less than full-quieting signals, and music. Any other noise must be at least 20 dB lower in amplitude than the tones or the Ma Bel I decoders will hiccup. The two tones must add in a linear manner So, if one tone is louder than another, it may show the same peak amplitude as one with totally different in- dividual amplitudes but with the same sum ampli- tude.

For this reason, it is important to set the pads up by looking at the individ- ual tones, as Ma Bell also is fussy as to their relative amplitude. The low tone should be equal to, or less than, the high tone, but no more than 4 dB lower. Example: Pushing the 2 and the 5 together will produce the Hz tone, and pushing the 4 and the 5 together will produce a Hz tone.

These two tones just happen to be near the middle of the tone range and therefore serve well for test purposes. To calibrate your system, find someone who has a pad with the low tone slightly less than the high tone and who can adjust the pad volume quite easi- ly, By experimentation, set the pad to the point where it just will access the phone system without misdialing.

Take careful note of the meter levels of the 5 tone, as well as of the window. Repeat this test, and this time set the pad just below the point where misdialing occurs on the high ampli- tude side. Again, take care- ful note of the readings of the same items as before. This will represent the high level of the window. Pads should be set so that the single-tone levels fall within the center of the window.

This will vary with every setup. It rs inter- esting to note that most problems involve tones that are too loud, including the much more subtle problem one that the Golden Ear boys can't spot where the low tone is much louder than the high tone. By setting everyone's tones in the window, mis- dialing is practically eliminated, and on-the-air trial and error testing is gone. There will always be the HT boys attempting ac- cess to the patch from 50 miles out, since they hear the Watts erp of the repeater full quieting and they can't figure out why 1. Education is futile at that point.

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One of the reasons they may be surplus is that the tones are off frequency. Another is that one out of the three or four tones won't fall within specifications. The frequency can be adjusted with the cores on the rear of the pad. If one of the three or four tones does not fall within specifications, dump the pad, as it is unfixable and not worth the grief. For those pads that will not gen- erate single tones, adjust them with the 5 tone by bringing the level from "too low" up to the proper level for a dual tone.

This keeps it out of clipping. Occasion- ally, you will find a rig with the clipping level too low. The operator will be suffer- ing from misdialing and low deviation — he will be bassy. Then he can set his pad level. The uniform setting of pads and the easing of the recording of logging infor- mation will take most of the burden out of running an autopatch. This leaves out the frustration and makes for a less formal and stiff operation. We also publish a series of rules which is sent to everyone new who pops up on the air.

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Deviation-detector circuit. A sincere wel- come, coupled with instant education, has proven to be one of the major factors leading to the lack of auto- patch problems. With a wide-open patch that has been up for two years and has averaged calls a month, we have never had an incident that would cause us to install safeguards. The unrestrict- ed and informal attitude has never prompted chal- lenges. This is not to say that we have not had our share of testers of the grey areas of the rules, but a friendly off-line discussion of the rules and their inter- pretation, using 73, QST, HR Reports, and other pub- lications as visible refer- ences as to how the FCC is viewing different matters, has usually solved any dif- ferences.

Obviously, in the larger urban areas where there lie greater nerd concentra- tions, reason is not always an effective tool I can only offer sympathy to those areas, as the answers to their problems defy solu- tion. But to the group just contemplating autopatch, fear not; usually there are not nerds waiting in the woodwork just antici- pating the day they can boiix things up. Give your group a chance; most of our foreboding "what ifs"never came to pass. If everyone knows everyone else, as do those in most smaller com- munities, friendly infor- mality works well.

If there are factions, cliques, rivals, etc. The elusive point that should not be avoided by beating around the bush is that autopatch is a tre- mendous convenience as well as a public service.

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The expressions on the faces of one of our local chiefs of police and the reporter standing next to him were enjoyable to watch when an HT was pulled out of a pocket and used to dial up the chief's phone. The patch has been used to call the State Police so often to report accidents that all of the dispatchers are using "over 7 ' and other familiar techniques. If you want to start a near-riot at a CB cof- fee break, whip out the ol' HT, tickle the keyboard nonchalantly, and watch the eyes bug out on the first ring.

That alone is worth 5 guys at the next Novice class. Autopatch is the ma- jor factor that increased our club membership from about to It's worth the trouble. I hope that this article has taken some of the mystique out of the subject of autopatch and will lead some groups reluctant to in- stall a patch to think more kindly about it.

Who knows, you might save someone's life by your ability to report some emergency directly and immediately. Claire Blvd. Because of the response to the 58B5 converter, we decided to refine the sys- tem by adding a buffer, regulating the output rate, and providing better con- trol for the tape reader. Photo A The converter can be used as is, but there is one disadvantage. When typing, the operator has to keep in mind the auto- matic insertion of shift characters and has to type slowly and evenly to avoid loss of a character.

The buffer will eliminate this. A person can type as fast as he can without having to worry about the insertion of shift characters, Also, the output rate of the buf- fer can be controlled so that a regular stream of characters goes on the air while you type in spurts, This way, it gives you time to think what to say next, while the buffer is still pumping out data. For those who have heard a UT-4 in operation, this unit works in a similar fashion It was decided the buffer should have the following features: one-line buffer- ing, power-on reset pre- load, reader control, buf- fer-contents indicator, and variable output speed with buffer full override.

Controls Four controls have been brought out to the front reset, preload, output rate. It is used primarily if you have something in the buf- fer and it is no longer valid, or a number of mistakes have been made, The preload is used to type a string of characters into the buffer and hold it until you are ready to send it out.

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You can start typing while the other party is still transmitting to you. Then, when you turn off the pre- load switch, your charac- ters will begin to flow out of the buffer. The output rate is set by the output-rate potentiom- eter. It should be set for your aver- age typing speed, That means that the override should hardly ever startup, nor should it be set so fast that the buffer-empty LED is on most of the time.

The fast runout is used when you are finished typ- ing but have a large num- ber of characters in the buffer and want to give it 34 Seventy-three, March to the other party. When this control is pushed, the buffer will empty at full speed. The buffer-empty LED will come on when it is finished. Character Storage The buffer consists of a pair of 2 Fairchild x 9-bit FIFOs, giving a full line of buffering — actual- ly, 79 Baudot characters — unless there are several shift characters, which will make it less.