End Fed Antenna Review

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Okay, let’s review. By the title you can tell that this is going to be a review of an end fed antenna. Now, the review part. A wise man once said, write what you know about, and me being an advocate of advanced humor, I’m going to try to combine a little bit of knowledge with a little bit of humor. 

A disclaimer. Anywhere on this site, whether it is radio or chickens or pigs, we make no profit off of anything. There has been no gratuity awarded for any product endorsement. For those that do profit off of what they write, great! It is just not our forte.  

It’s been 3 years since I posted any type of article. A lot happens in three years. I have tried some antennas, some radios, I decided to try out heart surgery. I’ve now got one of those zippers from stem to stern. Not literally of course. And not being a person of nautical persuasion, I do not know the difference between stem and stern. But for those of you that are interested, I will share information about the bypass at a later date.

At a radio meeting one night, I heard a guy talking about his new antenna, and he was raving about it. Now all this guy does is CW, or morse code, he doesn’t even have a microphone attached to his radio. Let me back up here a little. This article is not being written at an entry level knowledge base. I’m sorry. So, if we’re speaking of CW and end fed, then you know I’m talking about HF radio. And yes, I know there is some CW on VHF, but that is not what we’re talking about here.

So, continuing. I listened to this guy, and he is a senior operator. So I listened for a while, and this guy learned CW from the United States military. And this guy talks CW all over the world. I’ll get back to this part of the story later.

Okay. The antenna I’m going to review today is made by MyAntennas.com  Yes, that is the name of the company. I will start off by saying I am highly impressed with this product. Are they pricey? Yes. Could you build your own? Probably. And if you would like to do that they will sell you the parts to do so. I bought the EFHW-8010

It is 130 feet long, resonant on 80/40/30/20/17/15/12/10M. It is rated at 1kW maximum. These are the specifications. If you’re not familiar with an end fed, which at the time, I was not, it is basically half of a full wave dipole, in this case, for 80 meters. Because if you remember, the number 468, that is your magic number that you use to figure the length of a half wave dipole. A small example, 468 divided by 3.5 equals 134. 3.5 is the lower end of 80M. So, 468 divided by 3.5 is 134 feet. If you were building an 80 meter dipole, it’s full length would be 134 feet, which would be 67 feet on each leg of the dipole.


Now follow me here. Through the miracle of using a balun, using the end fed half wave length antenna, then you can tune all of the afore mentioned frequencies. Or that’s how it works in theory anyway. Now I’m going to tell you how it works for me in reality.

Equipment used. My power supply is solar. The radio is an IC-718. I have approximately 100 feet of RG-8X from the radio to the end fed antenna. The feed end of the antenna is at 30 feet in the air, it runs approximately 50 feet to an apex of 40 feet and then continues whats left to a 30 foot height. This works okay for me. Your mileage may vary. I have a power transformer from the electric company about 50 feet away, and the apex of the antenna passes over a metal roof that is about 16 feet from ground level. These are the parameters that I have.


Now. This antenna will not transmit on 160M, but it will receive. I did not check for SWR on 30, 15,  or 12 meters because I don’t use those. It did work great on 40M, so 15M should also be good. Here’s what I got. 
All the following readings are SWR. 
80M – lower end 1:1.1
80M/75M – right at the higher end 1:2.5
40M – entire band 1:1.1
20M – entire band 1:1.1
10M – lower end 1:1.8
10M – middle and upper part 1:1.4
60M – the 5 channels 1:2.5
11M/CB – 1:2

As you can see, these are all easily tunable without a tuner. But with a tuner, your radio is happier. So, example. If you have a radio with a built in tuner, it would easily tune these numbers. If you have an external tuner like I do, then for most bands I don’t even use a tuner, and if I do, it just makes my radio a little bit happier.

Because this is a review of an antenna, I’m not going to discuss the theory of SWR. It’s one thing if you’re running 100 watts power, and another if you’re running a 1000 watts. But if you’re looking at this antenna, then you already know the difference.

This company, MyAntenna.com, also provides higher power antennas, just look around. They also sell baluns, RF isolators and other assorted goodies and toys.

Here is a link to eHam.net. I think you will find the reviews impressive.

If you have the space, or the desire, I would highly recommend this antenna. For me, it works. You can also configure it like you would any other dipole. Yes, it is a little pricey and it takes up 130 feet. What do I use it for? I do not contest, nor do I use CW, therefore there is no review of 30 meter. I have made contacts on 80/40/20M, and mostly on 40M. I seldom DX. And I seldom talk, but the reports I receive back are all 5/9, or easily intelligible. 

Again, I have no other end fed experience, I have never used a directional antenna, yes I know these are directional, but you know what I mean. For 10 & 11 meters I primarily use a vertical A99. 


 

I would appreciate your feedback, how your antennas are configured and what type of results you get. We’re all in this ballgame together, and if we can help out a fellow man, let’s please do so. If you have found mistakes in my writings or calculations, please let me know. This is just my experience. I look forward to hearing from you.

My XYL just reminded me that I need to let you know why I do this. First off, I listen. I want to know what’s coming down the road. As mentioned earlier, I operate from solar, not my whole house, but all of my radios, and that’s what it’s for. The system I use is simple. For me simple works better. The man I mentioned earlier that I learned about this antenna from operates all over the world when conditions permit.

In a future article I will tell you about my IC-7300 experience and why I went back to an IC-718. Thanks for being there.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

A Product Review, Baofeng UV-82HP

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

This is a product review of the red Baofeng UV-82HP. In this article I’m going to tell you about the radio, my likes and dislikes, a little bit of technical stuff from my perspective, and how I got to this point in life. Ready? Good. But first, some legal stuff. To do this review I was sent the UV-82HP and was told that I could keep it, so there was some compensation, a free radio. Let’s understand that upfront. Otherwise I have no affiliation with any product or link mentioned in the post, except that I have bought and used some Baofeng products. 

Now, a friend of mine sent me a link to a radio dealer’s site that I was not familiar with. He mentioned that they were looking for people to review radios in exchange for a free radio. He uses this radio as his primary handheld, so he thought that I might be interested also. By the way, he belongs to a group of people that use radios in their activities, and this is 

the one that he recommends to all of his colleagues. He is highly pleased with the UV-82. His is not an HP, but the only difference between the UV-82 and the UV-82HP is the power output. I emailed the company, they had a certain criteria that needed to be met. We did the paperwork game back and forth. The main stipulation was that I would include a link to their website. Here it is: BaofengTech.com  Again, I have no affiliation with this company at all, except the free radio. Now for the review.  

First the negatives. Let’s understand that this is not a $200 – $300 radio. The HP version sells for about $60 – $70. The regular model, non-HP, sells for $30 – $40. This is a basic, inexpensive, commercial radio. I found nothing negative about the radio at all. Yes, that is nothing. For it’s intended purpose, it does a great job.

Now for the positives. It will do anything that any of the low cost, handheld radios will do. One large positive, the speaker puts out more power, therefore, more volume. This is important if it’s windy or you’re in a noisy environment. This radio puts out more power, therefore, the transmitted signal goes farther. I could not tell a major difference in 4 watts and 7 watts of power. I have two repeaters that are 20 and 25 miles distant from my house. I could hit both repeaters with 1 watt comfortably, with some white noise, but 4 watts was more than adequate to reach both repeaters with zero background noise. I did not use this radio during a torrential downpour, but I’m more than confident the 7 watts would drive better than the lower wattage.

Not mentioned above, but the transmit button has a built in toggle allowing you to transmit on Band A or Band B. No extra buttons to push, nothing to unlock, just push the top of the toggle and you’re on Band A, press the bottom of the toggle and you’re on Band B. For my usage, this feature doesn’t mean much, but for folks that need immediate contact on two different frequencies, this feature could be a life saver. My buddy mentioned up above, he loves being able to switch between Band A and Band B. So, I would seriously look into this feature if you think you might need quick accessibility. 

So, let’s see. Inexpensive, loud speaker, more power, instant access to 2 bands. These are quality features, but there are other features also. Cosmetically, they come in different colors, so if you’re fire department, EMT, or S&R types, different colors can come in real handy. It is a semi duplex radio, which means you can hear on Band A or Band B, but not both at the same time. I’ll be glad when Baofeng comes out with a full duplex radio. This is the one I’m waiting on.

Now, in my humble opinion, besides all the features mentioned above, the best is the location of the transmit button. It is at the top of the left hand side of the radio. Well, most transmit buttons are on the left hand side of the radio, but not at the top. I have a large hand, I use my radio in my left hand, and I use my thumb to push the transmit button, which means I have to hold the radio farther down toward the bottom. With the transmit button at the very top, not on the top, but at the top of the side, I can hold the radio more comfortably, and more securely. To me this is the biggest asset of the radio for my purpose.

When the radio came to my house, I took off the factory antenna and applied a 2 1/2″ stubby, or sometimes called a highly flexible, rubber ducky. Reason being is, we use our radios not just for emergencies, survival or ham radio purposes, we use them for everyday work around the little farm here, which includes birthing animals, moving hay, gardening, chicken house and assorted chores like that. So, I wanted it to function under realistic conditions, which means it got dropped, it got dirty, but it did the job and it worked real well.

It also has a nice little light on top, it will receive FM commercial radio, comes with a belt clip and all the stuff you expect a radio to come with. The manual for the UV82-HP is far superior than the previous Baofeng manuals. That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to hand program, but it does make it a whole lot easier to figure out how to do it. If you’re going to program with the computer, you will need the programming cable which is a standard type. My buddy mentioned above, uses the Chirp radio programming system, and finds that more than adequate. For my purposes, I use the RT system, which I bought from the RT folks for this purpose. I like the RT system, I use it for all of my radios. This is not an RT review, but if you want a system that is easy to use, works well and has excellent technical support, check out the RT folks. Now, they do charge for their product, that’s the way the free enterprise system works.

Back to the Baofeng UV-82HP. It is a good radio, solid performer, aesthetically pleasing, and well worth the money. I currently use the Baofeng UV5R+, but if I were starting out new, I would seriously consider the UV-82 series. I like the way it fits in my hand. It’s like a lot of things, when you pick it up, you want it to feel right.


So there you go, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is my review of the red Baofeng UV-82HP. I would recommend the radio. By the way, a man down the road from me liked the radio, so I gave it to him, along with the RT system, in exchange for a used stainless steel sink to use in our outdoor kitchen. Great trade! Please look at the UV-82HP if you’re looking for a good radio. Thank you for your time.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Antenna Tower Sneak Peak

Over the last few weeks, Frank has been working on upgrading our antenna towers. We’re still not finished, and hope to raise the last one today. There are many details that Frank will explain in a future article, but for today, you get a pictorial of our progress. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section. We have learned a lot doing this project and are very pleased with the outcome so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is healthy.

 
This has been, and continues to be, a big project for us. We are very excited about increasing our ability to communicate via radio, whether it is GMRS, MURS, CB or ham radio. This is a very important part of our survival plans. If at all possible, we want to know what is coming down the road before it gets here, and you should want to know, too. Don’t get on the truck.
Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 16

When I sit down to write about the news from our place, I always look back at the last article to see what I wrote. I was surprised to see that the outdoor kitchen was still a slab of concrete, and that the antenna towers had just been put in the ground. It seems like much has happened since the last edition, so much so that I won’t remember it all.

We ended up with 77 quarts of pears. I had to do some rearranging on the pantry shelves to get them in there all together. That wasn’t such a terrible task.

I’ve canned another 6 pints of green beans this past week. Six jars aren’t a lot, but I’m still surprised that the Missouri Wonders are producing this time of year. I will be canning a few more pints  along with a few beets, maybe tomorrow.

Yesterday I picked the last of the tomatoes. We have temperatures forecast in the mid 30’s on Saturday and Sunday night, which means we will probably get a frost here at the house. We were really surprised the first time that happened. The house is in a small, low dip in the land, and the barn is on a small hill. It will frost at the house, but not at the barn when the temperatures are in the mid 30’s. That means the tomatoes, green beans and okra will die this weekend. I was surprised at the number of tomatoes we harvested. Most of the vines are suffering from some kind of wilt and are dying anyway. Today I will wrap a bunch of these tomatoes in newspaper and tuck them in the pantry to ripen. 

I was also surprised at the number of carrots we still had in the ground along the tomato trellis. After the rains pass through today, I will dig up the remainder of the carrots along the green bean trellis. I have really enjoyed being able to go out and pull a few carrots for a salad throughout the summer. Carrots are something I have finally figured out how to grow. Now if only I can learn how to grow onions, and store them.

I used to be sad to see the last of the garden die out for winter. This year, all of the new growth in the greenhouse has replaced that sadness with a continuation of ‘gardening’ activities. Many of the new seeds I planted last week are coming up, including the Austrian Winter Peas. I look forward to adding them to our salads and picking a few for the chickens as well.

 Since we are expecting a frost, I dug up one sweet pepper and one jalapeno plant to see if they will survive the transplanting and live in the greenhouse. They have been blooming and producing more peppers, so I thought if the frost was going to kill them anyway, it won’t hurt to experiment with transplanting. I

had mentioned these plants to a friend of mine that encouraged me to try this. I know she’ll be watching their progress or demise, whichever comes first.



Frank has been working on giving some of our trees and shrubs haircuts. The new antenna set up will be a little different configuration, thus the trimming activities. We have made several trips to the brush pile to keep the yard cleared. 

 


 

 

We have another rainy day today which is very good. The soil has gotten very dry over the past few months and we appreciate the nourishment the rain brings. We hope to get several inches today. The hay we put down last week to cover the bare parts of the garden have worked out very well. That was a very good use of old hay. Now it looks like we will be getting some serious weather later on today.


 

The structural portion of the outdoor kitchen is finished. Now we need to paint the plywood walls to protect them from the weather. When that is finished we will start ‘installing’ the stove, grill/smoker, rocket stove, sinks and cabinet/workbench.


This water tank has been lurking around here for about six years. Our original plans for it have long since gone by the way side. Our latest plan was to put it up on a platform by the outdoor kitchen and attach it to the sinks, but that just never seemed quite right. You know those ideas you get that seem to be pretty good, but just don’t quite come together in your mind? Well, Frank and Henry discussed the placement of the tank there by the kitchen one afternoon with plans to build the platform the next morning. That night when we went to bed, we were talking about the next days work and a new idea emerged. I had already asked Frank to put a 55 gallon drum under the guttering down spout by the greenhouse, then I could dip out the water easily. Well, our late night idea was this. Put the 305 gallon water tank here instead. Looks great, doesn’t it? It will be connected to a short run of guttering, with a faucet of sorts for accessing the water. It’s a few short feet from the greenhouse which will be wonderful.

 

In the next few weeks we will be showing you the installation of the water lines. Emmet has been back several times digging the beginning of the ditches required for water and electric lines. This will allow the gentleman to come and dig the lines without worrying about the barn, fencing or existing water line. I have some really exciting pictures on here, don’t I? Holes in the ground….

A few days ago Frank commented on how many acorns one of our oak trees has dropped this year. These are larger acorns than many of the other trees, large enough to affect your footing if you have too many of them underfoot. Until this year, they have been a nuisance to contend with, this year they are turning into meat. Seeing all of the acorns brought a vague memory to mind, something about pigs eating acorns. We researched oak acorns and pigs to make sure they were safe, and found not only are they safe, some people consider pigs raised on acorns to be some of the best pork available. So yesterday I began collecting acorns. It only took about 30 minutes to pick up this many. I gave a few to the pigs yesterday morning and at first they didn’t pay much attention to them. We thought it might be necessary to crack the hard outer

covering, but it’s not. Last night all of the acorns were gone and this morning I saw one of the barrows crunching away on one. It’s interesting how perspectives can change. There are lots of things I now view as meat, meaning food for animals that will turn into meat. Many of these things have lain about for years going to waste, but now with a little effort, they are increasing our food supply. Speaking of pigs, for the rest of this week Liberty has come running into her pen each time I feed. She starts out in one of the ‘outside’ feed pans, but as soon as I pour out her feed and call her, “Come on, Liberty”, here she comes running. Every so often one of the boys tries to come with her, but they’ve figured out that this is not their food. This has been very interesting to me.
 
I thawed out the leg roast I saved from the last goat butchering. We tried cooking one of these roasts, but it was really tough. This roast was sliced yesterday and marinated in soy sauce and pepper so we can try another batch of jerky. Frank didn’t care for the first batch, and I have to admit it is really tough to chew and doesn’t have a lot of flavor. It’s okay, but we hope to improve. One thing I am doing differently today is starting it in the morning so it won’t be left in the dehydrator overnight, which was too long the first time. We also hope the soy sauce improves the flavor. If not, I’ll go back to sea salt and add more than I did the first time.

Easter & Patch

Our buck moved to a new home yesterday. Since we kept his daughters, Easter and Patch, we wanted a new buck for breeding. We have yet to find a new buck, though, and will be borrowing Faith’s new buck in a few weeks. One Stripe and Copper will give us another set of kids from the buck we just sold, but Easter, Patch, Lady Bug and Cricket will all be bred to Faith’s buck. This will give us the chance to add some new blood to our herd. We will keep looking for another full-time buck for our next round of breeding in May. We are still trying to have year round milk, which means two ‘breeding seasons’ per year. It makes things a little more complicated, but we think it’s worth the effort.


Enjoy the blessings of these peaceful days. On the surface, most things seem calm. Don’t let the depth of the swift undercurrent pull you under. The decisions we make today will help determine our ability to survive in the future. Choose wisely.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 15

It’s raining here today, which is expected to continue for a number of days. That’s good, because it was very dry here. Since we have been doing a lot of tractor work in and around the garden and antenna tower locations, much of the ground was just dust. We didn’t want to have any of our new topsoil wash away again like it did in the spring, so I took what was left of an old bale of hay and spread it out pretty thickly in the bare places. Then we turned the sprinkler on for a little while to mat it down and hopefully hold it in place. We got a good rain last night that wet it down even more. So far so good.

Lance, the boar

Our pigs are doing well. Their behavior is acceptable, and they like their routine. I have been watching Liberty, and petting her more than the boys, to see if there are any signs of pregnancy. She seems to be getting rounder by the day, and if I’m not mistaken, I think her teats are developing. Maybe some of you that are experienced with pigs can give us your opinion of these pictures. I can only guess at her condition based on a goat’s body, which is woefully inadequate since one is a ruminant and one is not.

Liberty, our gilt

 

In between antenna towers, the steps for the outdoor kitchen were built. The two posts to the right will host a handrail once the concrete at the base of the posts cure. The metal for the roof and lumber for the framing is in. Depending on the amount of precipitation we get early next week, we may see more progress on the kitchen.
 

Tower #2


Antenna towers. We now have three concreted in the ground. The main tower was the last to go in since it necessitated taking the radio shack off line for a while. We had our third Survival Radio Relay Net this week with another increase in participation from around the area. There are even folks that are starting to try to contact each other every evening at the same time, just to check in and see how well their radios are working.

 

Tower #3

 

We will do an indepth article on the changes in Frank’s antennas, the towers, their installation hows and whys, when we complete this project. If you have any questions beforehand, please post them so he can address them in the article. Our current set up surprised us with the number of people we could reach and the distance some of them are from us. We can’t wait to see how the taller towers will affect our communication abilities. This is a very exciting project indeed.

Bucket with a hole for watering trees

When we put the lattice work up across the front porch, we had to move a small jungle of trees that had lived in pots for a couple of years. Most of them had died due to neglect, but some of them made it by growing out of their pots and into the ground. One of them was this mulberry. We had to lop off a very large root to move it out of the way, and I wanted to try to save it. We really expected it to die. I pruned it severely, planted it by the chicken pen, and watered it regularly when we watered the chickens. The leaves all gradually died and fell off, but then the other day there were new leaves. Yea! This tree can provide berries for us and chickens alike, and will also provide some much needed shade for the pen in the heat of summer. 

Our wonderful Pearl


Our critters are doing well. Here is a glimpse of a few of them.

The chicks are growing.

The chickens like pears.

Scruf is funny.

Patch

Lady Bug
Okra blossom

I have one more day of pear canning ahead of me, hopefully tomorrow. I have a few more green beans I can put up as well. It won’t be long before the first frost comes and puts an end to the outdoor garden. Then I will really concentrate on learning to grow our winter food in the greenhouse. I already have visions of seedlings for spring lining the shelves. But first, we all need to weather the coming winter and whatever it holds in store. 

We continue to appreciate each and every day that we can live these comfortable, ‘normal’ days. That gives us one more day to prepare.

Until next time – Fern
 

Survival Radio Q & A

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Over the last week or so, more on the so side that is, I have received some interesting questions via email. Serious questions. I’m going to attempt to give some serious answers, with some embedded humor, of course. Others out there may have the same type ideas, and I hope these folks’ questions will help fence sitters decide which way to go. So, here goes.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Question #1 

Hello Frank,

First, I want to thank both you and Fern for what you do to help us and others.  I know that just like the rest of us, you are busy doing your best to prepare for whatever is coming our way, yet you take precious  time to extend a helping hand to anyone who will take the time to read your blog.  Please know that you are very much appreciated!

Secondly, I want to apologize for the length of this email and thank you in advance for the time you spend reading and hopefully responding to it.  A man’s time is a precious commodity.

We are attempting to set up an emergency communication system between three family member locations.  I am a total novice at this but I have been reading and researching for 2-3 months and based most of our plan on the information gleaned from your “Frank’s Radio Communications” articles.  I fully realize that I am stretching things to the limit here both technically and legally, and that it may not even be doable, but I have to try.

I’ll describe our situation as best I can, then list my questions.  We want to link the three family member locations, without relying on repeaters.  Since this is for emergency use, we want the system to be free standing.  We are located in hilly Southeastern Ohio, but fortunately all three locations are at or near the hill tops.  No one is down in a valley or a low area.

Location A:  This is my location.  I am not licensed yet, but I am studying for my Technician license and will be taking the exam September 17 (that’s the next exam date here).  I am setting up a “basic” 2 meter base station at this location.  I have a Yaesu FT-1900 (modified) for the base radio and have mast materials to put my antenna up 30-40′ AGL.  My mast will probably be okay close to 40′ with a small antenna, but less with a large antenna.  I’m using the military camouflage net support poles (heaviest aluminum type) and it is at the end of my house, supported firmly at 14′, leaving 26′ unsupported if I go to 40′.  I don’t want to use guy lines unless absolutely necessary, but I can if you think it’s required.  There are no power lines and if it came down it could only hit a metal roof.  At this location I want to be able to use the 2 meter ham band and maintain contact with locations B & C.

Location B:  This is my daughter.  At home, she is about 8 miles from my location with no major obstructions between us.  At work she is also about 8 miles away, but with some small building obstructions. Her plans are to use the system only for emergency contact with me, and it needs to be mobile so that she is covered at her work place.  For convenience, and cost control, we hope to be able to meet her needs with a 5 watt HT and a good quality antenna.

Location C:  This location is about 12 miles from me, with no major obstructions between us.  This is a stay-at-home person, but would also like the ability to go mobile if necessary.  I would still like to use the 5 watt HT if possible, but with a small mast if necessary.  I was hoping that we could use an antenna that would work for both the mast and mobile if needed.  The one I had in mind was the CA-2x4SR with a ground plane for the mast and a mag mount for mobile.

What I hope to do is use my base to access the 2 meter ham band and use the low MURS channels (151) to communicate with B & C.  Certainly, we are testing the limits here, but this seems to me to be the most economical  way for us to set up an emergency communication system.  I realize that we are asking a lot for a 2 meter antenna to also be effective for the MURS channels at 151 MHz, but my hope is to use a wide band antenna that is tunable to be resonate at about 148-149 MHz.  If I am correct, this should give me a usable range including the upper portion of the 2 meter band and the low MURS channels. 

My plan is to finish setting up my base as soon as I make the antenna decisions, then use my 5 watt HT with a mobile mag mount antenna on my vehicle to test the “system” at locations B & C before we buy any more equipment.

First question, in your opinion, is it possible to do this with the HTs and mobile antennas as described above?  If not, what would you suggest as minimum equipment requirements to get the job done?

Second question is which antennas would you recommend?  I have read and researched until my eyes are crossed and I cannot come up with a definitive answer.  For the mobiles, the CA-2x4SR looks good to me but I’m wide open to the voice of experience.  For my base antenna, I’m really undecided.  I currently have three on my “possibles list,”  the Hustler GC 144 (with the MKR-2 ground plane kit), the Hustler G6-144B (pricey & big), and the Diamond X50A.  The X50A is described as “pre-tuned” so I haven’t been able to find out if it is field tunable or not.  But, from the reviews I’ve read it seems to generally be tuned toward the upper end of the 2 meter band, which is just what I need.  One fellows review that I read said his was resonate at 149.5 out of the box.  Again, I am wide open to the voice of experience.

Soooo, there you have our situation.  Don’t worry about hurting my feelings with your comments and suggestions.  I’ve already been told by two Hams that I can’t do this with less than 200 Watts at each location.  I prefer efficiency to brute power, but if I am way off track here don’t hesitate to say so, just please give me some direction as to how to get to where we want to go.

Thank you

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This is the first of two emails. The second email will contain product recommendations and significantly more detail, but I want to assure you that this is doable. This is what I do.

 
Your CA2x4SR is an excellent choice. I use it for mobile and base with a ground plane. I’ll send more detail later, but you don’t need 200 watts. On a clear day 5 watts will get you where you want to go. During a torrential rain storm, more power may be needed, but not 200 watts.

 
I will send you a second email. I talk to friends 30 miles away on MURS 1, 2, & 3 simplex, or line of sight, on a handheld with a 2 inch stubby antenna. Does your tower really need to be 40 feet?

 
We’ll talk more later,

 

Frank
 
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Thank you so very much.  After the response I got from two different Hams (one was at Universal Radio) I was beginning to doubt myself on this project.  As far as the antenna height goes I was just trying to make it as effective as possible.  I would be thrilled if it didn’t have to go that high.

 

Thank you again and Please have a Blessed Day.
 

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Thank you for taking the time to read Frank‘s Radio Communications. To answer your most important question, Yes, it is doable, and your ham buddies are wrong. If you‘ve read Frank‘s Radio Communications then you know that Fern and I did this exact same thing on the MURS frequencies, and later on the ham bands. We would commonly talk on MURS at a distance of 25 miles using standard mag mount antennas, the Comet M24 to be precise, Wouxun HTs, an adapter for the antenna, and a quality microphone, using a battery eliminator. It works, and that’s what you want, you want it to work. This was about four or five years back. But remember, it worked.

Now, today, I use the CA-2×4 SR on all of my vehicles and my base station. The base station uses a ground plane adapter, and all use the UHF type connector. I have done nothing special to these antennas. They are tuneable, but I haven’t needed to do anything.

Your tower height may be a tad bit excessive. I take it 14 feet is close to your ridge. Unless you plan on putting up other antennas, if you don’t need the extra height, then don’t use it.

Your Yaesu is a nice radio and it’s been modified. Consider an Anytone AT-5888 for a base radio. It is UHF and VHF. The HTs are great when there is no weather around. The extra power of the base station will help drive through heavy rain. The reason I recommend the VHF/UHF Anytone is for UHF. Check out the GMRS frequencies, find one that no one uses. It can be your back up or your primary. Food for thought.

If you do use the battery eliminator and the external antenna, always keep the original antenna and battery handy in case you have to leave on foot quickly.

Yes, your idea is doable. The little Baofeng UV5R, is inexpensive and it works. For accessories check out Radioddity.com, because some use an SMA female and others use an SMA male type antenna connector. Buy two of the little handhelds, get your cell phone out and have somebody at

the other locations with their radio in hand and cell phone out. Call each other on the cell phone, pick a frequency or channel that no one is using. Remember you’ll have to program these radios yourself. Call each other on the cell phone, face the direction to which you are talking and see if you can make contact. You’ll have the cell phone as a back up to know. Set your power on your HT to maximum power. If you get a weak or bad signal, remember, be facing each other. Hold the handheld straight up and down. Try VHF which is MURS. Try UHF which is GMRS. If you have the ability, get up on a tall ladder, or up on top of your house. This should tell you what you want to know.

If it will work with two handy talkies, make sure you’re both outside, not inside a structure. If somebody has to be inside a building, have them stand in a window facing the direction they want to talk. Give it a try, see if it will work. What you‘ve invested at this stage is the cost of two handy talkies. On Amazon the UV5R sells for about $25.00 with free shipping. It is critical that you are facing each other just like you are having a conversation. If you get a poor signal, move two or three feet to the right or left and try again. If it works, then put up the outside antennas and you should be good to go. If you want to get a bit more sophisticated, then use a base station with a power supply. Always get a bigger power supply than you think you’ll need.

Now the procedures described above are for emergency communications. You’ve read this before. Doing 36 MPH in a 35 MPH zone is illegal. Doing 96 MPH in a 35 MPH is also illegal. Nobody cares if you do 36 MPH, but they do care if you’re doing 96 MPH. Always run the lowest power you can.

By the way, in reference to the 200 watt VHF radio? Some old time hams do not support any type of radio communication except ham radio. Many of the older hams see it as the ultimate hobby, and that’s great. You probably are going to use radio for a different purpose, and that’s great, too. It’s a big playing field and there is lots of room for everybody. I would like to see a 200 watt VHF that anybody sells.

A different topic. Copper Electronics has an SSB-CB on sale right now for an excellent price. It is a first class CB radio that cannot be modified in any form. If this is what you’re looking for, you won’t find this kind of deal very often. I have one, and it works. I have two more on the way. 

For you and everybody else out there, you might want to consider a scanner. Many ham radios will scan, but as a general rule, they are notoriously slow. Why a scanner? If you know an event is occurring, you can warn your loved ones ahead of time. It’s much better to avoid a problem, than deal with one. A scanner can save your life. You want to know what is out there.

Try to buy products that operate off of 12 volts. That simplifies your charging. If you’re using your car battery or you’re using a home power supply, it just makes life easier. Think about it. 

What we talked about up above with MURS and GMRS, I really hope this helps, but I know it works. I have used this technique, I still use it, and I use it everyday. Take care. Best of luck.      


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Question #2

Hello,

I am acquainted with you both from The Deliberate Agrarian, Herrick Kimball’s blog.

 
I am very intrigued with your communications post. I too believe in the profound importance of readiness and an impending radical change to our civilization.
 

I must confess though, in conjunction with an overwhelming amount of ideas/projects/responsibilities and the thought of adding something that I know is crucial but for which I lack interest/affinity or skill, stops me cold. I haven’t the resources (money, time and interest) to become a ham radio hobbyist but KNOW it is a necessity that should not be ignored because I am in over my head with other projects.

So my query is, how can I set up communications for a minimum investment in time and money? I am not talking about shortcuts but levels. It sounded as if there were some in your class that are at or were at, my level. 
I know you are busy folk so I will be grateful for any information you are able to impart. I will, in the meantime, search your blog and glean what I can. Thank you for sharing with us.

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Start with a Baofeng UV5R+, about $35.oo. Programming cable, about $10.00. Use the Chirp programming system, it is free. Any frequencies you need can be obtained at Radio Reference.com. An inexpensive supplier is Radioddity.com or Amazon. For ham radio assistance or advice contact your local ARRL club. You can find this information at ARRL.com.

Read the section called Frank’s Radio Communications in the right hand column, and this will answer most of your questions. Pam, I do not use ham radio for a hobby, I use ham radio and other forms of radio for survival. An inexpensive analog scanner comes in very handy, if you live in an area that supports analog.

When you get in touch with ARRL, tell them what you just told me, see if there are any classes being offered that are normally free, and ask for an Elmer, which is a teacher. If you don’t click with this one, ask for another one. The shoe doesn’t always fit the first time.

Best of luck.

 
Frank
 
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Thank you Frank, very much, for your time and knowledge.  I am deeply grateful and humble. Please know that I did not mean to be insulting when I used the word “hobbyist”.

I have read some of your articles and most of it goes over my head.  I have a innate ability with mechanics but electrical blows my mind (pun intended!). For instance, I truly cannot comprehend the difference between an ohm, a watt and an amp despite multiple attempts and patient friends and family.  Indeed, I will follow up on your information or try to persuade my husband to become interested.

Today, I wish the collapse would just hurry up and be done.  The waiting is interminable.
 
But I would be forever saddened at losing contact with folks like you and Mr. Kimball.  (I would call you by your surname, but you’ve never shared or I’ve never seen it. I am a firm believer in the use of Mr., Mrs., and Ms.. And “Mr. Frank” sounds like something a toddler uses with a neighbor.)

Again, many thanks for your response.

 

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Thank you for your question. You are correct, there were people in the ham radio class that had no interest at all in getting an amateur radio license. They were interested in survival communications, which was actually part of the title of the class.

Okay, let’s start. The equipment you need will depend on your desires. If you have friends down the road that you want to talk to, then you will need two way communications. If you just want to know what is happening down the street or across the county, then you’ll need listening only equipment. As mentioned in the question above, a respectable scanner will meet most people’s needs. If you live in a large city, you might consider a digital scanner. They’re expensive and difficult to program. If you live in smaller town America, or rural America, then an analog scanner will probably meet your need. You don’t know? Call your local emergency management office. They will know. Tell them what you want to find out, it is public knowledge.

If you need two way communication, first on the list is CB radio. Some people don’t like the trash talk, but it is a good means of communication and lots of people have CB radios.

Next, the GMRS walkie talkies. Hunters use them, little kids use them for play radios, my wife and I have used them for years around our little farm. Don’t believe the ads about 36 miles, that’s under perfect conditions. They will go as far as a CB, and the signal is a whole lot better. The CB and the GMRS are both line-of-sight communications. Back to the GMRS, mountain top to mountain top? As far as you can see. Valley to valley with a hill in the middle? Ain’t gonna happen. 

If you want to talk around the world it gets sharply more complicated, but it can be done. If you want to just listen around the world, a decent shortwave radio with a good antenna will let you listen, plus you can also listen to all of the ham radio frequencies with a good shortwave radio. It’s all in the antenna. Look for SSB when you’re checking out radios. Single side band. Sometimes called upper side band and lower side band.

For more detailed information, read Frank’s Radio Communications. Don’t spend any time on getting a Technician or General license. Read the other articles first about CB, GMRS, scanners and that type of stuff. I hope this information helps. After you do a little bit more research, put some more questions together. It’s really not that difficult. Take care.    

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Question #3

Help, need com & antennas, handhelds, ect… Have read your site. Need to get com going as fast as we can.

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Start with a Baofeng UV5R+. Use the Chirp programming system. Any frequencies you need can be obtained at Radio Reference.com. An inexpensive supplier is Radioddity.com. For ham radio assistance or advice contact your local ARRL club. You can find this information at ARRL.com.

Read the section called Frank’s Radio Communications in the right hand column, and this will answer most of your questions.

Best of luck.

Frank

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Dear Frank, Thank you for your reply. I like yours & Fern’s site. I have been reading your Com page and decided to try the Hand held’s you recommended, Midland GXT 1050s. I would like to extend the range so I was looking @ the exterior antennas . I guess I must have missed the one in the article that you recommended for that set. Thanks again for all you both do.   Good luck & stay vigilant & safe.

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Hello, there. I’m sorry to tell you, but the Midland 1050 is not made to accept an external antenna. It is a good radio for what it is intended for. Fern and I used these radios around our homestead for a long time before we switched to a commercial radio, which is just the same type of radio, except it is programmable. The GXT 1000 is the same as the GXT 1050, except it comes in black instead of camo. Remember, both of these are excellent radios, tough, durable and do a good job. But like anything, they have limitations. I’m glad you enjoy our work. Thank you.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, above I’ve addressed three relevant and pertinent questions. All three of these folks have the same thing in common. They all believe that we’re going to need communication beyond what we currently have available today. For whatever reason, if you are reading this blog, then you know that we have serious difficulties just over the horizon,

and in many places, those serious difficulties are already here. Just look at the immigrant problem right now in Europe. Look at our own southern border. These people are leaving their homes and going to a new place, not only to better their lives, but to escape where they’re coming from. This is just one example of what is happening in our world. I’m sorry, but our financial markets world wide are is disarray, and in the mid stages of collapse. Not the beginning stage, but the middle stages of collapse. If you look around, our churches are under attack, our schools are cesspools, our society, it has denigrated to a pathetic, disgusting level. 

These three questions addressed above are folks that are worried, and you should be too. I know I am. Read the questions above again. Three different perspectives, but all three see an urgent need to be able to communicate beyond normal day to day communications. What are you going to do when things shut down and your kids are miles away? Or your wife is at the dentist? Or your husband is on a trip somewhere? What are you going to do? Dial 911? Those people are going to go home and take care of their families. You should be taking care of your family, too. Look around. I don’t know how else to say it, but it is very, very near.

I hope you enjoy this read. Take care. May God be with you all.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Ham Radio & Survival Communications, Volume 2

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, six radio classes and one test day have passed. The radio class is now finished. Or, in the old radio days, we’re over and out, or in the police world, we’re now 10-7, which means out of service or off duty. But the sad fact is, the class is finished. Now, we can let the real learning begin.

As mentioned in the previous post, some folks were not interested in getting their ham radio license, and whatever the reason, it is theirs. Two of the gentlemen that chose not to pursue their license have purchased radios of high quality that can receive, transmit and listen. This is what they wanted and this is what they are doing, therefore, they can contribute to our neighborhood communication network. Both of them are in good locations. Radio is kind of like operating a business. Location, location, location.

You see, my house is a poor location for line-of-sight communications. But if I can reach one of these guys, which I can, they can relay information to me and from me, which is critical. So don’t think that you have to have a ham radio license to be a vital contributing member for a radio communication system. One of these gentlemen is relying on CB radio for two-way communication. He also has a scanner and a shortwave radio, which are for listening. The other gentleman is a little bit more private. I know he has a capable VHF/UHF radio, and both of these gentlemen are in very good locations.

Now onto the ham radio part. I didn’t really teach a lot about ham radio out of the Romanchik manual, but that was the manual we used for our information about what was on the ham radio licensing test. Some of the folks used QRZ.com for free online practice tests, others used Ham Test Online, which is a paid practice test service with tutorials. We spent time on some of the formulas, which are only about three for the Technician, and about the same for the General test. The concept that was taught was read the manual repeatedly, and take as many practice tests as you humanly can. Lots of people are busy right now. Some of the people in this class work a full-time job, go to school at nighttime, and attend school kid’s functions, so as you well know, their time is limited.

The majority of the time we spent just talking about what I call radio. We talked about antennas, radios, power supplies, coax and other associated radio equipment. We talked about a lot of things that normally aren’t covered in licensing classes. We talked about how you push the button and talk into the microphone, how you call somebody else on the radio. If you’re using a handheld, which direction do you face? We talked about simple, practical things when it comes to using a radio. Like, don’t put your antenna on your filing cabinet right next to your head and turn the power up. It’s not cool to fry your brain. Some of us are already operating with diminished capabilities, we certainly don’t need to increase that negative load.

It was a fun class. A couple of the people in there enjoyed my ultra dry humor. I learned a lot from them, too. Some of the questions that came up were things that I had never really thought about. But being a retired, professional teacher, I just made up an answer that sounded somewhat technical. They didn’t know the difference anyway. Ultra dry. That’s the way some people like it. On occasion we talked about the coming war, and most everybody was okay with that, because there is one coming, and it may be here a whole lot sooner than you think.

Back to the ham class. Well, test night came. We had to change location due to a scheduling conflict, and that went well. The people that came out to give the test, it was their first time, too. Our local emergency management office started a testing group. These guys are called VEs, volunteer examiners. They are a group of local ham radio operators that have qualified to be examiners, and volunteer their time, hence the term VE, volunteer examiner. So now our local emergency management office can offer ham radio test sessions without having to ask the help of a local ARRL ham radio club.

So how did test night go? We’ve got the building secured, the VEs showed up early, it is required to have a minimum of three, and there were five. We had nine people test.  Seven were taking their Technician’s license, and I’m happy to say that all seven passed. Of those seven, one gentleman also took his General test which he passed. We had two folks that already had their Technician license that both took the General test, and they both passed. We had one woman in the group that tested. We had one young adult male, I think he is 17. If you’ve been reading along, you will know that everybody that took the test passed. In the mathematical world, that’s 100% success. Now that was a good night.


One of the guys in the group had a concrete truck coming the next day to pour the base for his ‘to be’ future antenna tower. There were a couple of people that couldn’t take the test that night due to a conflict in schedule. They will take the test at a later date. But our area now has seven new Technicians and three new Generals, and that Ladies and Gentlemen, is a good deal. We also have two local folks that chose not to take the test that are actively pursuing communication skills.

Here in a week or so, I’m going to get back in touch with everybody to see if we can start practicing communication between individuals and groups. It will take a week to ten days for the folks that took the tests to get their FCC online approval and call sign. When I said

earlier now the learning begins, that means we’re going to learn to communicate with each other. Different locations, different antennas, different radios, some AM, some FM, some VHF/UHF, some HF, CB which is HF, GMRS which is UHF, MURS which is VHF. We have folks out here that are strung out for miles, and a couple on the other side of a mountain. Without giving locations, if the testing site was the center of the circle, we have folks from the class about 25 miles north, 30 miles south, 20 miles east, and eight miles west. If the electricity is on we will use repeater connections. If the electricity is not on, we will use line-of-sight communications and NVIS (look it up).

So now the work begins. It’s been fun. It’s been challenging. I truly hope that this works, because folks, we have a war coming. Read into that whatever you want to, but it is coming and it can’t be stopped. Some of us have made the choice that we want to be able to communicate. Maybe we can get a few more neighbors or a couple more relatives on board, because right now we cover a large logistical area. We need to be able to warn our neighbors, therefore, we need to be able to communicate.

We’ll talk more later, Frank