Radio – CB & the Future

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Hope everybody is doing well. Weather is gradually changing, or it is for us lucky people that live in the south anyway. I know some of you still have a little snow here and there, maybe even a lot. A lot of you still have water covering everything. On an individual basis, this water is devastating. On a national basis, and even worldwide, we need to pay very close attention to these floods. This could very possibly cause a strain on our food supply. Pay attention. This might affect us all. I hope those folks dry out soon and recover quickly. As for you folks still shoveling snow, we are getting ready to plant a garden. There are reasons why old people move south. If you live long enough, you will get old.

Okay. Moving on.

The basic nature of man is to communicate. We’ve always wanted to know what’s going on in other parts of the community and even know what’s going on in other parts of the world. It’s just a basic, innate, psychological response of man. We want and need to know what’s going on, close and distant. Right now, most of us have immediate communications – TV, commercial radio, cell phone, computer and other forms of electronic gizmos. That’s a professional term, by the way, only used by the highly qualified. Use at your own peril and risk. I will attempt to drift back into reality here.

So, what if there’s a disruption in this immediate communication? Maybe something like a power grid malfunction, happens all the time locally, natural disasters occur, power goes down. But there’s always a back up not too many miles away. Power companies come in from other parts, fix things up and ‘Bingo!’ we’re good to go. Ice cream is back on the shelves, frozen burritos are restocked. Yep, Bingo! we’re good to go. Another one of those high tech terms, you know, Bingo!

But all joking aside, we are going to have a shut down. There’s lots of terms for it, call it what you like. The power will go off, then the local gas stations won’t be pumping gas, the hospital generators will run out of fuel, as will the nuclear power plants. Sure hope you’re not downwind from one. Anarchy will occur and things will go dark. It IS going to happen.

So, how are you going to communicate? Since it is an innate human need, it’s kind of like psychotropic drugs, once you are addicted, you are, well, addicted. You have to have them, kind of like sugar, which is addictive. Instant communications, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed from every teenager to grandmother, people using their smart phone for some purpose. Get the point here? How are you going to check to see what everybody’s doing on Facebook? Yes, it is addictive. Ok? 

So, what are you going to do when the power goes off and stays off? Yes, you need water, you need food, you need shelter, you need the means to protect yourself and you need to have the mind set to deal with all of these issues. Why is mindset important? Because if your head is not screwed on right, it doesn’t make any difference how many preps you have. If you check your phone every five minutes to see if you have a message, then you’re in trouble. You are addicted. Well, I’ll just quit my cell phone. It’s a psychological addiction. You’ll have the same withdrawals from a psychological perspective as a person having physical withdrawals from psychotropic drugs, sugar, alcohol, tobacco, just to name a few. Some people are obsessed with flushing their toilet. Oops, power is off, water plant motors don’t pump, your cell phone is dead, the police aren’t coming, the grocery stores are in utter chaos and you don’t have a clue what’s going on. 

Welcome to reality. Get the picture? You might as well sit down in your driveway and start crying.

Next chapter. So, today we’re going to talk about CB radios. Why? Because it is the most common two way form of communication out there. Yes, I know CB’s get a bad rap and there’s good reason for that. There’s a lot of nasty language from foul mouth people. Well, they will quickly be off the air, they will be sitting out in their driveway crying right next to many. They will be off the air because they don’t have power, and they won’t have batteries, or a small solar panel to keep a car battery charged.

CB used to be an 11 meter frequency. That is a ham radio term. 11 meters is also about 27 Mhz, but you don’t need to know that. What you need to know is how to push that button and have a successful transmission, which means you need an antenna, a piece of wire connecting the antenna to the radio, and power for the radio, which in this case will come from a car battery and a small solar panel. That’s it. Yes, the system needs to be tuned to work.

By the way, that same solar panel and battery will also provide power for your scanner, shortwave radio, AM/FM radio, a small LED light and it will charge your handheld radios and some rechargeable AA batteries for your flashlights. If you don’t have these things right now, then go out and get in line sitting in the driveway because that is where the vast majority of people will be. Sitting on their fat butts waiting for the government to come and save them. Enjoy the wait, because I ain’t gonna be there and neither is Fern.

What I put together today is four previously published articles about CB radios. It’s the basics, but it will provide you with a plethora of information to get started. Remember, this information is dated, some of the embedded links may or may not work. CB radio, in my humble opinion, will be the most useful radio tool available to man. Now, don’t run out and buy a bunch of CB radios today. Read, learn, talk and listen. Ask questions, discretely. There are other forms of radio communication, too.

Let’s get this thing started. Radio – CB & the Future.

We’ll talk more later,  Frank 


P.S. Fern and I had a interesting visit from a relative that we see very seldom. It was a pleasant visit, a young man, his wife and two daughters. The reason I mention this is that when he was about two or three, we had a picture of him holding a day old chick. You see, Fern and I have been preparing for many years now, and this young man, now in his 30’s, also has chickens and is preparing for what is coming. He and his wife’s father have many CB radios. It’s just interesting to observe that there are others that are preparing. Fern and I hope to see him more in the future and wish him the very best, and I wish all of you, the readers, the very best also. Many people think time is short.

Originally published June 8, 2013

Radios – CB

Hello, Frank here.

In a previous post we talked about safety and family radio regulations. This time I’m going to direct you to some of the popular CB manufacturer’s sites and to a few dealers that sale and service radios. This way you can start to look at some of the features the radios have and get an idea of the approximate cost.

While you are looking at the CB radios at the dealer’s sites, you will notice a radio called a 10 meter radio, sometimes called an export radio or one of the big boys. I’ll discuss these in greater detail, when I talk about ham radios.

There are CB radios that can cost less than $50.00 and there are CB radios that can cost hundreds of dollars, but they all come from the factory with the same advertised power maximum which is four watts. 

While you are perusing these radios, check out the ones with the letters SSB, which stands for single side band. Not all manufacturers produce SSB radios. Understand, it is still a CB radio with 40 channels, but has single side band capabilities. This is not technical and don’t let it throw you off. 

If what you want to do is talk to your neighbor two miles away, then any CB radio will do that job if you are in a pretty flat area. This is assuming you have the proper antenna which will be discussed more later. If you want to talk to and listen to people hundreds of miles away it can be done with a CB radio that has SSB capabilities with the proper antenna. 

The more popular CB manufacturers are: 

Cobra
Midland 
Uniden 
Galaxy

After you look through these manufacturers websites, you will see that they also make many other communication items. Some of them, but not all, make marine band radios, weather radios, scanners, GMRS/FRS radios and accessories. In future posts, we will go into further detail about all of these.

Next are a couple of online retail outlets. This is not an endorsement, pro or con, for these companies. I have bought from all three and am happy with the service I have received.   

CB World

Looking at these online retail sites will give you some ideas about prices and the products that are available. Between looking at the manufacturers and some retail sites, this should give you lots of information to play with. 

Remember, to operate a CB radio, you will need an antenna, a radio and a source of power. Almost all of these units operate off of 12 volt DC power. They are intended for mobile operation inside of a car, but can be easily used at home as a base station with a 12 volt DC power supply. Again, this is not complicated or technical. If you are going to put it in your car, you have a power supply. If you are going to use it at home, then you will need a separate 12 volt power supply.

Don’t be in a big rush. In the next few posts, we will talk about CB radios, antennas, power supplies and SAFETY.

There is one recommendation I would make. If you are looking for a CB as a means of communication. I would be looking for one that has SSB (single side band) capability. This will narrow your search greatly. 

And for fun, check out CB Radio Magazine, this site will answer many of your questions because there is a continuous debate about the best radio or antenna.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank 

Originally published June 14, 2013

 
Radio – Mobile CB

Hello, Frank here.

So, it’s time for a CB radio. I wouldn’t purchase one just yet, there are some other things I want to tell you, especially about 10 meter export radios. But, if your heart is set on a CB, then let’s talk about a possible radio for your vehicle, which is referred to as mobile, or a base station which in many cases can be the same style of radio.

CB radios can go in cars, trucks, boats, four wheelers, farm tractors – anywhere that has a motor and some type of battery. We talked earlier about single side band, SSB.  The type of radio you choose depends upon what type of mobile operation you want. If you want a basic CB radio, there are numerous types to choose from. But if want to include weather (NOAA) and/or SSB, then your selection choice drops sharply.

Examples: If you take your pick-up truck and go mudding, then you probably want a very basic CB radio. If you spend more time in your vehicle in a quiet world, then please consider an SSB CB radio. What activity you do will determine what type of radio you want and the type of antenna.

Some folks for mobile operation have a magnet mounted antenna. But again, if you are mudding or hill climbing, then you will want something permanently mounted. There are lip mounts which attach on the lip of a hood or a back door hatch. 

Mirror mounts, are what you think of when you see the big rigs. Mirror mounts, in some cases, will also attach to luggage racks. What you get depends on your need. 

The antennas themselves come from eight feet long to about two feet long. As a general rule, the longer the antenna, the farther you can transmit and the better your reception. There are all metal antennas, metal antennas with little spools of wire in the middle, fiberglass antennas with wire embedded in the fiberglass. Some are flexible, some are rigid.

So much for antennas, mounts and radios. Now you need to decide which type you want. Included in a previous post are some websites for CB radio dealers. I will include these sites again at the end of this post.

So, now you have picked a radio, you’ve picked the type of mount and antenna you want. The power supply is going to be the 12 volt system in the vehicle. It is best to connect the radio power cable directly to the battery. The positive side connected to the battery and the negative side to the battery or to any good solid metal attachment. You might have to buy a little extra cable to do this.

A cigar-type plug connected in the cigarette lighter outlet or any 12 volt accessory outlet will also power the radio. The problem with plugging into a cigarette lighter adapter is that sometimes there will be engine and computer noise from the vehicle on the radio.
In future posts, I will talk more about power supplies. The closer you connect the power cable to the battery, the less background noise there will be from the vehicle.

Whatever type of mount and antenna you choose, you will need to run coax cable to the antenna connector on the radio. Most mag mount antennas come with this cable already connected with a plug-in adapter on the end of the cable. Some mounts come as kits with cable and adapter provided, with others you will have to provide your own. Most people run the cable through a door opening and bring it into the vehicle. If you run it underneath seats, make sure it is not in an area where moving the seat forward or backward will damage the cable. 

Now that just about covers it. You have the radio, a place to mount it inside your vehicle, and the antenna with a cable plugged into the radio. A slight warning here, NEVER key the microphone on the radio to transmit without an antenna connected. This is a very easy way to fry the radio.

You are ready to go – almost. There is this little thing called SWR, which means standing wave ratio. Somebody with an SWR meter needs to check and see if the SWR on your radio is low or high. Either the antenna or the coax cable will need to be adjusted to lower the SWR if it’s high. This may sound extremely complicated, but if you are going to be successful with a CB radio, then the SWR needs to be low. You ask, “What is SWR?” To make it very simple, SWR is the radio frequency waves bouncing back from the antenna to the radio, restricting the ability of your transmitted signal to be transmitted successfully. This applies to any transmitted signal, whether it is mobile, base, CB, MURS, or ham radio. Any local CB shop should be able to help you tune your radio system so that the SWR is low and your enjoyment is maximized.

Many CB radios have a built in SWR meter. These meters are not known to be tremendously accurate, but they are a good start. Some antenna systems will say pre-tuned at the factory and that is probably true. They were pre-tuned at the factory for whatever piece of test equipment they were using. That does not mean it is pre-tuned for your vehicle and your radio. How you tune the radio’s SWR can be affected by the location of the antenna on the vehicle, the length of the cable running from the antenna to the radio, or how the excess cable is gathered, normally under a front seat. So – being tuned at the factory – take that for what it is worth.

Firestik is a new website that I would like for you to check out. I have done business with these folks, as I have the others mentioned. They make good, quality, American made products. Their site also has a library of information. Besides looking at their products, go to their FAQ and technical help sections. This should answer the vast majority of CB technology questions and problems.

This may sound technical and complicated, but it’s really not. Next time we will talk about specific radios for mobile use in a vehicle, because there is a big difference between vibrating down the highway at 65 MPH in the rain or snow, and a radio sitting stationary inside your house. As stated earlier, some radios will do both. 

We’ve learned some new terms this time. Study some of the websites. Remember, some radios have weather, SWR, and even have alarm clocks – which could come in handy if you are sleeping in your car, for whatever reason. If you know of a reputable, local CB shop that installs radios, stop by and visit with them. You might pay a few extra bucks for this service, but if the people know what they are doing, they can teach you how to install a radio properly.

I would still recommend a CB radio with SSB. There are only a few on the market. One is made by Cobra, some are made by Galaxy and Uniden makes a new one. If you want to sit at home at night and talk to stations around the country, then your best bet is a single side band. If you want to talk to your neighbor down the street, SSB will also work for short distance line-of-sight communications. Again, remember, CB radio is line-of-sight communications unless you are using a radio with SSB. Yes, on rare occasions any CB radio will work long distance by bouncing off the ionosphere. But a radio with SSB, will bounce off the ionosphere more often and with more reliability.

Think safety.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

CB World

Originally published June 21, 2013

Radio – Base CB
 
Hello, Frank here.

Last time we talked about mobile CB radios. For a base station most of the equipment will be the same – power cable, radio and coax cable. What you will need different this time is a power supply. Since almost all CB radios operate off of 12 volt or 13.8 VDC, then you are going to need a separate power supply that produces this voltage.

In most cases, you will also need a base type antenna. If you have a metal roof, you can get creative and stick a magnet mount antenna, (the kind used on a vehicle) on your roof, and it will work okay. But most choose to go a different route. I am going to talk about two antennas – the 102 and the A99. I will also give some examples of power supplies. 

Next I am going to give a formula that will be used through all levels of radio communications. And guess what it is? P = E x I.  Now, you need to remember this. P equals power or watts. E equals voltage. I equals current or amps. Alright. If your radio uses four watts of power (P) and the voltage is 13.8 (E), then divide P by E and get I, which in this case is about .3 amps. So, you will need a power supply that produces .3 amps. Most amateur power supplies are rated with their output in amps. Now, you might say, that is not a lot of amperage. You will need

more than .3 amps to transmit. But then, 4 watts is not a lot of power. Another rule: The rule of 80. The maximum you ever use of any piece of equipment is 80% of maximum rated output. So, in this case, go ahead and purchase a power supply that puts out at least 2 amps minimum. 80% of 2 amps is 1.6 amps. You need .3 amps for a 4 watt radio to listen, so there is power to spare with this set up, but not a lot. Something else to remember, you cannot have too much amperage, but you can have too little. 

This is a side note here. If you are never going to add any more equipment to your system, then a 5 amp power supply will work fine for years to come. But – if you have plans to add more power to a CB radio or you might buy a manufactured radio that uses more power, like an 11 meter radio, or most ham radios, then you might want to buy a larger power supply now. Remember, you can’t have too many amps. Universal Radio and Bells CB both have many power supplies and a lot of information. I have done business with both companies and am satisfied with their service and products.

Example: Let’s say you purchased a 30 amp power supply, which is a good choice for long-term planning. This is, of course, at 13.8 volts. Everything we are talking
about here is. Then go back to the formula of P = E x I. You have 13.8VDC (direct current) times 30 amps, equals 414 watts. That is your usable wattage output. Now figure in the rule of 80 – 414 times 80% equals 331 watts, which you can use very comfortably with a 30 amp power supply. We’ll talk a whole lot more about P = E x I. Learn it now. Look up above to see what P, E, and I mean.

 There are many, many antennas sold by many, many dealers. Every antenna promises the maximum output and the best reception. I’m going to recommend the classic 102, which is a stainless steel, whip antenna. 102 means one hundred and eight inches in length. It is actually a 102 with a six inch spring attached to the bottom. Wa-la! giving you 102 inches. To mount this antenna you will need a trucker mirror type mount, because it will probably go on a pole attached to the outside of your house. We’ll talk more about attaching the antenna to the pole in just a minute. By the way, the 102 antenna, in my opinion, is the best antenna made for mobile operation. It really looks cool on a jeep. Again, my personal opinion.

Next is the A99 made by Antron. It is about 16 feet long, comes in three fiberglass pieces and is a standard in the industry. It comes with a radial plane kit. Some will say the kit is needed and others will say it’s not. This antenna is a pole mount only and if you use the radial plane kit, you will need to go a little higher because the radials point downward at an angle. The mounts that come with this antenna, will mount poles about an inch and a half in diameter. Do some research and find the exact size, because you want the pole to be smaller than the mounts call for. The same is true with mounting the 102. 

Now you are going to need some cable or coax. It is actually called coaxial cable. On each end of the cable you will need a PL259 connector. Of course, it depends on how far your antenna is up in the air as to how much cable you need. Buy a few extra feet. Depending on the length needed and the power used, a standard cable is RG-8X. If you’re running high power, and greater length than, let’s say 25 feet, then you will need a different coax cable. We’ll talk more about that when we talk about high power equipment.

Okay. Now, you’ve picked out a power supply that will cost you any where from $50 -$100. You have chosen your antenna. A 102 antenna will cost at the most, $50. An A99, with radial attachment, will be, maybe $130. Without the radial attachment, less. Pre-made coax cable with connectors on each end, let’s say, 25 feet – $35 or $40 or less. Now you need a radio.

All CB radios operate on AM, which is amplitude modulation. They all operate around 26 to 27 Mhz (megahertz). This is the operating frequency. All manufacturers make a good, solid radio. You can find one from $75 to $125. Some have weather (NOAA), some have alarm clocks, some the dials change colors, others light up at night and during the day, some have echo, some have talk back, some have SSB, some have adjustable power, adjustable microphones, adjustable input power – there are many, many choices to pick from. Like I said before, if you want to talk to your buddy half a mile down the road with no hills in the way, any radio will do. If you want to talk to somebody a long ways away, then not any radio will do.

Talk back and echo, I think, are a little silly. Lighted dials come in very handy, especially in a mobile situation, and sometimes they just look cool. A weather option is your choice. SSB (single side band) is necessary if you want to talk long distance. 

Cobra makes the 148, which is a classic SSB radio. Galaxy makes a handful of SSB radios: 949, 959, 979. Uniden makes the Bearcat 980. These are all strong contenders for single sideband radios. The Uniden is a new radio. It hasn’t been out long, but it is well worth a look. My personal preference is the Galaxy line of radios. All of these radios tend to cost a little bit more than your average non-SSB radio, and work well in a mobile environment. Having the same radio in your house and your car means you become more familiar with the knobs and it’s operation. Something to think about.

Now, we have a radio, an antenna, cable, and a power supply. That’s about all you need. There are some things I cannot tell you on a blog. You are going to need a pole to put up your antenna. Some people use fiberglass. You can purchase these at some Army/Navy stores. Hardware stores that carry fencing supplies that come in 10 foot sections work pretty good too. I like to have the pole attached to the ground, attached to the side of the house and just far enough above the roof line so that the antenna will fit. Mount the pole in it’s chosen place; mount the antenna to the pole; connect your cable to the antenna; run your cable into your house however you choose; READ THE RADIO MANUAL; READ THE RADIO MANUAL; connect the cable to the back of your radio; connect your radio to the power supply, which is real easy – red connects to red, black connects to black; turn the on/off switch in the appropriate direction – which is normally also your volume; and you are in business. If you purchased an SSB radio, most CB SSB is conducted on the LSB (lower side band). It is usually done between the frequencies of 30 & 40. Example: Channel 34 LSB.

Now, CAUTION. During a thunderstorm or electrical storm unplug your radio antenna connection. Some people also disconnect their power supply. Depending on how you ran your coax into your house, put your antenna connection into a glass jar, because lightening can and will fry your radio and all associated equipment. CAUTION. If you choose to pep up your radio and run more power, then you can do RF (radio frequency) damage. If you don’t know what you are doing then don’t do it. With 4 watts of power this is not a concern. 

I have talked on my SSB CB radio from southeastern Oklahoma to Grants Pass, Oregon; Ontario, Canada; and southern Florida. I hope you enjoy your CB radio. But if you do want more options, or more power, then in a couple of posts we are going to be talking about 10 meter and export radios, which are on many of the sites I have given you before. 

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Originally published June 27, 2013

Radios – CB Export/10 Meter

Hello, Frank here.

I would like to tell you about a CB radio that is not really a CB, but it can be. I don’t understand exactly why these are made or sold, but I would assume it has to do with profit. There is going to be some new jargon on this post, so like always, if you don’t understand everything, wait a little while and it will soak in. 

Export radios, to the best of my knowledge, are what they say they are. These radios are meant to be sold outside of this country – exports. Other countries use different bands and frequencies for their radio communications. Therefore, these radios are easy to modify and can be used for the frequencies and bands in this country as well. Some export radios are programmable via computer which makes it easy to add the CB frequencies. Another option is power capabilities up to 100 watts, 200 watts and more. These radios also tend to be more expensive. Are they legal to use on the CB frequencies? The answer is no. Do people use them on the CB frequencies? The answer is yes. Some of the previous sites I have posted sell export radios. If this is what you are looking for you will probably never have any problems with the FCC unless you are interfering with other forms of transmission. 

10 meter radios are similar in nature to export radios. Almost everything I said above applies to 10 meter radios. Let me explain the difference. A 10 meter radio operates on the amateur radio frequencies or ham radio. You have to have an amateur radio license to use the radio on 10 meters. I will talk more about amateur radio licensing and frequencies in a future post. Okay. Follow me here now. Some of the ham bands are 10 meter, 12 meter, 15 meter and so forth. The CB radio frequencies fall between the 10 and 12 meter ham bands. CB is often called 11 meters. Meters have to do with the length of the frequency signal. But at this time, that is not important. It will be discussed more later.

So. You can buy a 10 meter radio with a small modification or you can program in the CB frequencies with the computer program option if it is available. Let’s clarify something here. A ham radio license does not allow the ham radio operator to operate on 11 meters because CB radios are approved by the FCC to operate on CB frequencies only. Is it legal to operate a 10 meter radio on CB frequencies? The answer is no. Do people use 10 meter radios for CB purposes? The answer is yes. These same dealers mentioned above also carry some of the 10 meter radios. It’s a matter of driving 56 MPH in a 55 MPH zone and driving 95 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. Both are illegal, one will attract a whole lot more attention than the other. 

Can you mount these radios in your car or truck? Sure, you can. If the radio runs higher power, it will come with the appropriate size power cable. If you need

to extend this cable to your battery, use the same size cable or larger. In most cases, you can use the same antenna as any CB radio, unless you are running an exorbitant amount of power. In that case you need to make sure your antenna will handle the power. If you need to tune these, you can do it yourself or you can take it to your local CB shop and they can tune your rig for you.

If you are giving thought to purchasing one of these types of radios, please get one with SSB. Remember, some, but not all of these radios can be used for 10 meter ham radio operation.

If you choose to use this type of radio for a base station, your one amp power supply will not work. A quick review here: P = E x I. P = power or watts, E = voltage, and I = current or amps. Let’s say you are running 200 watts of power. That is your P. Your voltage will be 13.8, that is E. That is 200 divided by 13.8, equals 14.5 amps or I. Don’t forget the rule of 80. This means you will need at least 18 amps just to run this radio. That’s why on the last post it was recommended that you purchase a 30 amp power supply for your home. 

There is something I failed to mention on the last CB post. You cannot take your base station and outside antenna to a CB shop and have it tuned so you will need to do it yourself, or have a competent friend help you. This will involve an SWR meter, and a three foot jumper, which is a short piece of coax with a 259 connector on each end which allows you to put the meter in line between the radio and the antenna. This will allow you to tune your SWR down. Read the FAQ at this site. It will answer most of your questions about SWR. Again, make sure your base station antenna can handle the power you are using. Don’t push any antenna to the maximum, use the rule of 80.

If you can, ground your radio. The radio may or may not have a ground plug on the back, most CB’s don’t. If it doesn’t, slide in a piece of flexible, coated, copper wire about size 12-14, where you attach the screws to mount the radio. This will give you a good, solid ground. In your car, find a screw somewhere connected to metal. In your house, run the ground wire back the same way you brought in your antenna wire and attach it to the three foot copper rod that you placed in the earth. Do you have to ground your radio? No. Will it help clean up some sound issues? Yes. When we talk about ham radios, grounding will be covered in greater detail.

By the way, if you choose to get your ham radio license, you can use these radios to operate on 10 or 12 meter frequencies. Just a little bonus there if you decide to make that switch. 

I know all of this information about the CB radios, export radios and 10 meter radios is a general and broad view. I would encourage you to read some of the earlier posts about laws, regulations, safety, and some of the websites that have FAQ sections about radios and antennas. There is a lot of information about CB radios that is not included here. In future posts we’ll be talking in more detail about power supplies, antennas, coaxial cables, connectors, ham radios, GMRS, FRS and commercial radios.

What I have to say now is a personal observation. The reason I got into radio communications is because someday there may not be the regular types of communications that we have now. When I say regular, I am talking about cell phones, hard-line phones, internet, television, AM/FM radio, etc. A lot of people currently have CB

radios. Some folks approve of the type of traffic on them and some don’t. But if there is a nationwide emergency, CB radios and GMRS will be excellent forms of communication. Most people don’t realize that the two-way communication radios that they have right now are of an excellent quality and can be used during an emergency. Of course, I hope this day never comes. But I believe that the wolf is at the door. I would recommend all families have some type of communications, whether it is two-way or listening only. We will talk more about receive only radios – how to power them with things such as rechargeable batteries, small solar panels or car batteries. This is all part of communications. 

This finishes up my posts on CB’s for now, more will come later. Next I am going to talk about GMRS, FRS, and MURS. 

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

 

Hand Tools for the Near Future

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

We recently had a question that for me was thought provoking. It had to deal with tools. I’ve included a partial quote from the email, and my response in it’s entirety. It’s just food for thought. There is one item I would like to add to the list, though. It may not seem like a tool to you, but anything that makes your life easier I classify as a tool. That’s comfort food. So the tool I would like to add is a big box of Snickers. You know, those health bars covered with chocolate. Hope you enjoy the list. But it was a very good question.

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“We have been finishing much of our “to-do” list (aka ‘preps’), including purchases of lumber and fencing for the future garden beds. I did want to ask your opinion on what type of hand tools should we get to keep on hand?  We do have many garden tools, and shovels and such.  Any other recommendations?  I am talking just what you think would be absolutely bare-bones necessary. Could you do a short article on that subject?  I think it would be most welcome by everyone.”

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Good question.

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I think your idea about doing an article on hand tools is an excellent idea. The garden tools that Fern and I use are good, solid, well-made, with long handles. We are both tall people. When I do buy extra, they are on sale and stock up for the future. Garden tools may make an excellent barter item some day.

As far as hand tools go, I buy the best tools I can afford. Not the most expensive, but the best. The last few years I’ve started relying heavily on battery operated tools. I rarely use a hammer to drive nails, so I buy a lot of long screws. My elbow will not take the pounding anymore. Saws are very important, all kinds of hand saws. But I use my battery operated tools as much as I can for cutting and drilling. A quality brace and bit is also necessary. Sockets and socket sets are a must. Buy lots of drill bits, especially the little ones, they break easily.

I have multiple sets of tools. One basic set in the house, a complete set in the garage, and a pretty good set in the barn.
Watch for sales at the big box stores like Lowes, and as mentioned earlier, buy the best tools you can afford. Don’t forget things like files, grinders, punches, chisels, nail sets, but especially don’t forget files. Heaven forbid, but you can sharpen your kitchen knives with a file. So, don’t forget good knife sharpeners too, which ever type you prefer.

A shotgun is a handy tool, too. Double 00 buckshot, bird shot, a Remington 870. This tool will help you keep your other tools much longer.

A good Bible comes in handy. Axes, big ax, hand ax, mauls, splitters, sledge hammer – big one, and smaller ones. Pry bars. The list goes on. On occasion when we have a small animal to get rid of, a small sledge hammer comes in handy. A good stock of lumber, as you mentioned, is very handy, as is fencing, especially barbed wire. A couple of extra loads of gravel is a nice tool to have.

A small, full functioning tractor is extremely handy, especially the front end loader. You can haul larger animals in the front end loader for butchering processes. Yep, I’d get a good, small, solid, full functioning tractor with implements.

Might want to stock up on clothes, too. Go ahead and buy that extra canner and water bath now. Don’t forget boots, socks and underwear, gloves and hats.
 

If I were you, I would switch all of your light bulbs out to LED bulbs. Don’t forget traps. Some day those traps might feed you. Get a good supply of mouse traps while you’re at it. Don’t buy the cheap ones, you get what you pay for.

Don’t forget trash bags, paper towels, kleenex, toilet tissue. Don’t cut hygiene short either. Laundry detergent in large plastic buckets? Get a bunch. The buckets are really handy and powdered laundry detergent will meet the vast majority of your cleaning needs.


I’m tired. Hope this helps. Just food for thought. Don’t forget rechargeable batteries and solar panels. Take care.

Frank

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Here is another handy tool. Tools for Survival by James Wesley, Rawles



Seriously folks, don’t forget the Snickers, man does not live by bread alone. It’s late, it’s been a real long day.

We’ll talk more later, Frank
 

OPSEC Communications – A Re-Post

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Hope everyone is doing well. If you peruse through these pages often, then you have heard us refer to those dark clouds on the horizon. No, I’m not referring to the dust bowl, but it could be. I’m referring to that storm that most of us know is coming. We see events happening on a daily basis that tells us that something bad is coming.

I also use this blog to try to help people prepare themselves by using different communication methods. Here about 18 months ago, we published an informative article about different types of radios that can be used for radio communications. I’m not talking about ham radio or amateur radio here. You see, right now we take communication for granted. We have hundreds of TV channels, AM/FM/XM radio, cell phones, internet, and I’m sure I’ve missed a few. But we live in a very fragile system that could very quickly go dark. 

I would encourage you to read the re-post below and give serious thought to how your family is going to be able to communicate when, not if, our complete way of life goes down. Please ponder some of these ideas, it could save you and your families’ life someday. We are used to instant communications and it’s a very sophisticated, complicated network. You need to have a plan B. Take care, I hope you enjoy the article, and when you get finished reading it, please tell me what you think.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

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Originally published January 4, 2014

 
Hello, Frank here.

Nunam Iqua, Alaska

Once upon a time, there were two people that lived in far bush Alaska that could see dark clouds on the horizon. These two people, knowing what dark clouds meant, started to prepare for a serious storm. As the clouds got closer, and the sky darkened, these two adventurous souls packed up all their gear and relocated to a somewhat safer location. Even though these people escaped this particular storm, the storms followed them to their new location. And the storms have continued to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.

Okee-dokee everybody, back to reality. My first experience with radio communication in the modern world we live in now, was with two little walkie-talkie radios. Fern and I were leaving Alaska and we were going to drive to southeast Oklahoma. Through a large portion of this trip there is no cell phone service. Since we were traveling in two separate vehicles, each pulling a U-Haul trailer, I bought a couple of the above mentioned handheld walkie talkies from Cabela’s. And that’s how this radio story started. That was five years ago, and here we are today.

I knew nothing about rechargeable batteries. I didn’t know that you could recharge batteries while you’re driving down the road. So we used eight alkaline batteries a day. You see, Fern and I are an odd couple. We actually like each other and enjoy talking to each other, so the radios came in real handy. So, after our little trip, which took eleven days, I discovered the benefits of rechargeable batteries.

110/12VDC charger

So, when we got here, we put the radios away for a while. I’m not sure exactly when or how or why, but we started using them again around our little farm here. And like many things in life, I had to experience a large learning curve. Well, we started using the little radios again and learned

about rechargeable batteries. I decided I wanted extra radios. I went online, found a couple, and not paying attention, realized they did not use a AA battery. But, instead these new radios used a AAA battery. This was not my plan, but I didn’t have the knowledge to know the difference. So, now I need AA and AAA rechargeable batteries. Well, this system worked out okay. I found a place online to buy batteries that I like. And I still use this same place, by the way. So, now I have a hand full of radios, two different types of batteries and the system is working pretty good. But the three AAA batteries will not stay charged near as long as four AA batteries. 

So, I decided to buy more radios. That’s when I started using the Midland GXT1000 and 1050. They are the same radio, one is black the other is camo. I got lucky when I bought this little radio, because it did something

I didn’t know it would do. It comes with a rechargeable battery pack, which looks just like three AA’s put together. But it says it will take four AA’s, and it will. If you take the cover off and take the battery pack out, you will see that there is an extra slot for a fourth battery. The cool part is, these four AA rechargeable batteries, will also charge in the charging cradle that the radio came with. Here’s where I got lucky. Midland makes a bunch of radios that look just like this, that have the same set up with the same battery pack, but the other ones will not recharge the four rechargeable AA batteries while in the cradle. As the learning curve increased here, it was obvious that not all of these radios charge the same way. So, a bonus feature, because later on I bought some other Midland radios that looked identical, but I could not charge the four AA rechargeable batteries in the cradle. So, much for that issue.

I know these little radios are advertised a certain mileage. But that is under perfect conditions. So, remember, these radios are line of sight, and if you need more information about how the radios operate and their properties, go to Frank’s Radio Communications page. These are good radios, high quality and they work well, and they did the job we needed around the farm.

I’m still, at this time, not into ham radio. I tried to get some of my friends and neighbors to get some of these little radios so we could keep in touch. No one was interested in this form of communication, and years later, they’re still not interested. That pretty much took care of the home issue. Now I wanted to be able to reach my wife by radio 30 miles away. Bigger 

issue. We tried CB radios with SSB and due to the properties of the CB radio, it just would not work. I live in hill country with small mountains. So one day, looking at a retail radio site, I noticed a programmable commercial radio. Did a little bit more research and realized that these radios would broadcast on the same frequency as my little walkie talkies. That is when I started to realize about different frequencies. You see, a CB radio is around 27 MHz. My little

walkie talkies are around 460 MHz. These new little commercial radios are handheld and they would broadcast on the VHF band which includes most local police, fire and ambulance. It was also good on the ham radio frequencies, which at that time, I cared nothing about. All the ones I just mentioned, police, fire and ham, are in the VHF range, that’s around 140-155 MHz. But these little radios would also work for GMRS, which is my little walkie talkie, at around 460 MHz, which is UHF. There is also another free public band called MURS, which is around 150 MHz. So, I tried these little handheld commercial radios and they worked great on this frequency. Some of these activities mentioned here, some folks will tell you that you cannot use a commercial radio for, and they are right. But as long as you are not bothering anybody, most people don’t care. Also, remember that in an emergency, anyone can use any frequency if no other means is available. 
So, I put a couple of these little commercial radios, remember, these are handhelds, in our cars running legal power, and could talk to my wife most of her way to work. I dug out my old Radio Shack power supply, I put up an outside antenna, and used one of these little radios to talk to my wife all the way to work. The antenna outside of my house is what made the difference.

Okay. That’s where we were. So using a handheld radio, with an outside antenna at my house, I can now talk to my wife in her car. Shortly after this stage, I got my ham radio license, and we’ve made other changes since

then. But what I’m getting at here is, if you want to have communications, and you do not have a ham radio license, it is available. A small power supply, just about any transmitting and receiving radio, the proper antenna and you can talk to your buddy a good ways down the road, even with your little walkie talkie that does duck calls. That little gizmo thingy that your kid is out playing in the yard with, is probably a GMRS radio. Now, you cannot take a GMRS radio and attach it to an external antenna, you just can’t do it. But you can, with a handheld commercial radio, and it’s not difficult. Now don’t think you’re going to take one of these little handhelds and increase the power to 500 watts like some CBer’s do. They’re just not intended for that use.

But, that CB radio that you have out in your truck, is good for other purposes. All it is, is just a ham radio around 27 MHz, or in the ham world, called 11 meter, that will transmit line of sight. But it will also, when the atmosphere is right, transmit very long distances by bouncing off of the atmosphere. Read the other posts for more information on that. So, you have a CB radio, you can talk to your buddy down the road. If you have a GMRS radio, you can talk to your buddy down the road. Someday, you’re going to want to talk to your buddy down the road, because your cell phone and your telephone may not work. Some people say, “Hog wash! We’re always going to have electricity and telephones.” Yep, and the Titanic was floating just fine, until it hit that iceberg. 

Okay. Some little tips here. OPSEC. That translates into operational security. Anything you say on a radio can be heard by someone else. Let me say that again. Anything you say on a radio can be heard by somebody else. Any point where you transmit from can be located. Ham radio operators have a game where they try to locate a certain transmitter. The military and other government agencies also have that ability. So don’t think you can’t be found. If you’ve read some of my other posts, I emphasize, don’t be stupid.

Okay. Don’t use people names on the radio, because somebody is listening. Develop real simple little codes about locations and where you are. Teach other family members to do the same thing. Well, you say, “How are they going to know what channel I’m broadcasting on?” Anybody with a scanner that has these programmed will know exactly what frequency you’re broadcasting on. You ask, “How will they know where I’m located?” It’s called electronic triangulation. So, don’t kid yourself, that you’re smarter than the government, because some of those folks are very, very good at what they do.

So, if you’ve got a bunch of guys you go to church with, and you all have those little GMRS radios, one day at church, set up a time and see if everybody can talk to each other. Just practice and see if you can talk.

Also try it with CB radios, too. Then if you can communicate, set up a time to do it in an emergency. You say, “Well you talked about the power being off and I don’t want to use batteries.” Well, then don’t. Get you a couple of rechargeable batteries. And you say, “Well, fool. If the power is off, how am I going to recharge them?” Get you a teeny, weeny solar panel and check out this link. It will give you a lot more detail.

I use my little radios everyday. My wife gets this strange kick out of feeding farm animals. I don’t need to understand why, but she does. And we stay in contact. We make sure we have contact before she walks out the door. We make sure the batteries are charged. Give it some long term thought. Plan ahead, test your equipment. If you choose to advance to the ham radio hobby, then you will understand a whole lot more about what you are doing right now, and a different radio world will open up.

But if you choose not to, you can still communicate. And if you just want to listen, get you a scanner and a shortwave radio, and there are few things that you will not be able to listen to. The scanner is for local and the shortwave is for long distance. Because you might want to know when there is a forest fire coming your direction. It can also tell you from the National Weather Service, when a tornado is coming. And if you listen to the local ham radio weather clubs, using weather spotters, they will also tell you where the tornado is and what direction it’s traveling. Then you may hear when they’re loading up people into buses a mile or two down the road from you. By the way, don’t get on the bus.

When you see those big black clouds come rolling in, then you need to be able to communicate. It will be too late to find your radio and see if you have any batteries. It will be too late to set up a system of communication. It will be too late. Folks those dark clouds are gathering. Pay attention.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Life & Death on the Farm

There are times that life on a farm or homestead can be a joy and a challenge. After One Stripe’s successful birth of healthy, vigorous babies, we had a couple of days before Copper was due. So we tried to get a few things done.

 

We wrote about the beginning stages of getting the solar panels ready for installation a week or so ago. Frank has started charging and conditioning the batteries that will be used with these panels. We bought the batteries a few years ago, and it’s time to charge and desulfate them in preparation for installation. He got that in the works yesterday in between trips to the barn to check on One Stripe and her babies, and to see if Copper happened to be in labor.

 While Frank was working on the batteries, I managed to make up some coleslaw and deviled eggs. I figured the next

few days would be busy and  wanted something quick and good to eat on hand. Then I was able to get a few seeds in the dirt. I have some old seeds that may not be viable any more so I wanted to try and use them up. I put a thick planting of dill, lettuce, mustard, onions and mixed baby greens back in the

herb bed. Then I planted three dishpans of seeds to put in a south window in the house. It was a beautiful, sunny, 65* day, and it was great fun to play in the dirt.

Patch and Breakfast this morning, 2 1/2 days old.

We decided to let One Stripe and her babies out of the birthing pen last night after two days of confinement. The babies are very vigorous, jumping around and exploring the barn. If they had not been this active, we would have kept them penned up for another day or two until we……….[Interruption…….] We just had a little rain shower pop up and I went to make sure these babies were in the barn instead of out in the corral or pasture. They were tucked into their birthing pen with One Stripe. This is one pen that we are able to remove the gate easily since we have it attached with double end brass clips. When we let them out, we actually just removed the gate so the kids can ‘go home’ when they want a warm place for a nap that is out of the way of the regular activity in the barn. And that is where I found them just now.

While Copper was eating on the milk stand last night around 5:30, I checked her udder and it was tight and full, which means her milk had come in. I knew then she could give birth anytime, so we planned to check on her again around 9:00. We also put her in a birthing pen, just in case. Her tail was becoming very pronounced and I figured she would have her kids in the night, so we made plans to come back and check on her at midnight. No babies.

When we got back to the house after the 9:00 barn check,  I went out to feed the cats and found Little Bit barely alive. She was having difficulty breathing and was very limp. Little Bit got her name from being the very littlest kitten of the four we got a few months back. She has always struggled to be healthy, fighting a type of kitty cold from the time we brought her home. We carried her to and from the barn a lot, because she couldn’t keep up with the others. We had taken her to the vet a few weeks back for a long acting antibiotic and steroid shot which helped a little, for a short while. Instead of letting her suffer and die in the night, with much sadness and tears, we put her out of her misery. Thus is life on the farm sometimes. This morning, I miss Little Bit.

After the short trip back to the barn at midnight, Copper hadn’t started labor. That made for a short trip, so it was back to bed until about 5:45 am. As I sleepily got dressed to head back to the barn, my thoughts were on another short trip, and back to bed for just a little more sleep. It wasn’t to be. My arrival at the barn this time found Copper having contractions, not often, but contractions. With the sun just beginning to color the horizon, I settled into my barn chair to await the sun and the birth of new kids. I called Frank on the radio to give him the news. Remember we use our handheld radios all the time, and they come in very, very handy. Now it was his turn to get dressed and gather water, coffee, the camera and some snacks for me. He is truly a great husband.

After a little over an hour and Copper spending most of her time standing up, we decided to go down to the house for a quick breakfast and to warm up. Upon my return, I found a beautiful baby girl, mostly cleaned up and talking to her momma. From the looks of Copper, I knew she wasn’t finished yet. Since nothing seemed imminent, I brought One Stripe in on the stand to be milked. No sooner had I gotten started, when Copper laid down pushed real hard a few times, and had another baby half way out. I guess she thought that was far enough because she stood up, and out he came and plopped in the hay. Copper is a great mom and started cleaning him up right away. 

Now you can meet Buttons, another beautiful baby girl. Her coloring and markings are very similar to Patch, except the white on her side is kind of splotchy and she has white on two of her feet like her grandmother, One Stripe.

Her brother, in keeping with the way we name boys, is named Lunch. He has more white than Breakfast, and is really a good looking boy.

Both of the babies are vigorous with a healthy set of lungs and a very good sucking instinct. I made sure they had another meal when I went up during the rain to check on One Stripe’s kids. I also collected the afterbirth from Copper’s pen since she was finished passing it. The goats will usually eat some of it, but we remove it once it’s passed to prevent the smell from attracting any predators. On this trip to the barn I found Pearl laying right beside the gate to Copper’s pen, right where she is supposed to be, protecting the new mother and kids.

Right before I left the barn this morning, I realized that one of the young wethers was limping very badly and wouldn’t put one of his feet on the ground. But my back needed rest, so inspecting his hoof will have to wait for the next trip up the hill to the barn. Raising and breeding animals is not always a successful venture. More often it is, but not always. Sometimes they live, and sometimes they die. Such is life on the farm.

A different topic. If you are looking for more information about homesteading, gardening, preserving food, moving to the country and more, we would highly recommend that you check out the new ebook store, Country Living Series by Patrice Lewis, from Rural Revolution. Frank and I have read two of them, The Death of Knowledge and Bovine Basics for Beginners, and found them well written and informative. The Lewis family has been homesteading for several years. Patrice and her husband, Don, share many of their experiences in these writings. There is nothing like experience to teach you something, but reading first hand information from someone that is describing their life and learning is the next best thing.

We continue to learn each and everyday that we are blessed to live, and for that we are truly thankful. Each day that we can spend living life on the farm is one more day in paradise. Challenges and hardships cannot dim the blessings that this life brings with each new day. Now it’s time for another trip….to the barn.

Until next time – Fern
 

Performance of Our Propane Cookstove with Battery Ignition

We shared our new battery powered, propane cookstove with you a while back. I wanted to update that information with it’s performance now that we have used it for a while.

First, the oven. I have checked the oven temperature with a hanging oven thermometer off and on, just to make sure the thermostat is accurate, and it is. The difference between this oven and our previous one, is that this new one takes more time. If I fix a batch of biscuits that normally will bake in 10-12 minutes, this oven takes 20 unless I increase the temperature. So things don’t bake like I am used to, and don’t taste quite the same. Another downside is that if it takes longer to bake, it uses more propane.

I wasn’t sure if I would like the open burners or not. I have used a gas stove with open burners before, but it has been a long time, and I couldn’t remember any problems accept the occasional piece of food dropped down through the hole. The top is easy to lift, prop open and clean under. So, we haven’t really found any downside to the open burners.

The burners are all the same size. I knew it would be nice to have a larger one, but figured this would be fine. They are all 9100 Btu, and just like the oven, take longer to cook things. Since the output on the burners is less than our old stove, I’m not sure if it uses more propane or not. Unless the meal I’m cooking takes a while, my cast iron skillet doesn’t heat evenly across like it did with a larger diameter burner that put out more Btu’s. For me, that is a negative. If I’m trying to cook a burger, I have to turn it around so all sides will cook and brown evenly on both sides. I have made the necessary adjustments, but if we had it to do over, we would have gotten a different stove.

One of the comments on our previous stove post mentioned Premier stoves. They have a larger selection of stoves with battery powered ignitions, which was the reason we bought the Hotpoint. In our research for this type of stove, Premier never came up. If it had, we would have bought one, probably like this one

Overall, the quality of our stove is lower than we would have liked. It doesn’t appear to work as efficiently or effectively as the stoves we have had in the past. The quality of the stove reminds us of one you would find in a cabin that was used for camping or vacation use, not everyday cooking or canning. But, if the power is out temporarily, for an extended period of time, or forever, we will still be able to cook, at least until the propane runs out, and that was our goal.

Is this stove meeting our overall goal? Yes. Would we like for it to be a heavier quality stove? Yes. Do we wish it had one larger and one smaller Btu burner? Yes. Does the battery ignition work? Yes it does, and it works quite well. When we installed the stove, we put in a 9 volt rechargeable battery in the battery slot, and it’s still working fine to this day, which is a little over three months now. This time the old adage, ‘experience is the best teacher’ applies. We didn’t know anyone else that had ever had a battery powered ignition on a propane or gas cookstove, so we just had to find out for ourselves.

Until next time – Fern

Radio – Entry Level Equipment, Parts 1 & 2 – A Re-Post

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

On occasion, I’ll read a good book, something I find interesting, I’ll set it down and never read it again. I guess for some folks that’s just basic human nature. But, when I was a boy, especially a hard-headed one, it seems that I had to be reminded often the difference between right and wrong. Even though I knew what was right, I had to be reminded frequently, or at least that’s what my father thought, anyway. 

So, on occasion, I’m going to give you some re-posts. Understanding the basic human nature of most people, some would say, “I’ve already read that. I don’t need to read it again.” But, here it is, some good information about entry level equipment. I have to go back often and look up information that I have forgotten. But I’m getting older, and I don’t try to prove to anyone, anymore, anything. And if you’re new here, this will provide you with some entry level information about radio communication. 

In a couple of days I’m going to post information about some newer type radios that I’ve run across lately. Things change. What was new six months ago, has now been replaced, not always with something better, just replaced. So, in a few days I’ll be putting out a new post about good, solid, functional radio equipment that is new to me, and probably most of you. 

Remember, cute and pretty means nothing to me. I look for functional, solid equipment that works, at the best price I can find. Because with the recent turn of events in our country, those dark clouds on the horizon get closer everyday. If you have a family group that lives within a few miles of each other, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick up a couple of handheld radios so you could all communicate.

On some good news, though, I would like to share with you a recent comment I received.

“Hi Frank and Fern
You may not find anything inspiring to write about today, but let me tell you….You two are very inspiring! Thank You for your blog and all the effort you put into it. Because I read your blog regularly, I showed my husband “Franks Radio Communications”. Those posts helped him a lot. He took the technicians test today and passed. Thank You for being here and giving us your insights and inspiration to learn.”
[11/22/14]

Getting your ham license can be very rewarding, it opens up numerous channels of communication, but it is not necessary for other forms of radio communications. I hope you enjoy this little review. Whichever avenue you choose to go, ham radio or not, communication is critical. 

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank 

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Originally published December 8, 2013

Radio – Entry Level Equipment

Hello, Frank here.

Hi Everyone, hope everybody is well and happy. It’s still cold and slippery here, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Okay. So you want to get started. If you’ve read the other posts, then you know that there is no perfect radio. So, what I’m going to try to give you here are some options to ponder and some items to look for in whatever piece of equipment you choose. I’m going to start off with HF radios. And very similar to my other posts about chickens or goats, I can only share with you the experiences that I have had. Some folks want to jump in with both feet, buy some high dollar equipment, and if that’s your cup of tea, please do so. I still learn something new on a regular basis about ham radio. And I am very happy with the equipment that I use. Please don’t take this wrong, this is just for teaching purposes, but if I wanted a more expensive radio, I would buy it. Yes, finances are important to everyone, and I am by no means rich, wealthy or well off. But, as a general rule, I’m in a position in life where if I want or need something, then I will get it. 

We have a local man that I listen to on the VHF channels via a repeater. He appears to be intelligent, financially successful, well educated, articulate, he passed his Technician, General and Extra in a very short period of time with no problems. His first HF piece of equipment was what I would call a moderate, nice radio. Shortly thereafter, he bought a nicer radio, and now he’s talking about getting a top-of-the-line HF rig. He has also gone through the same sequence with antennas. He apparently has the financial means, and I am very happy for him. But I think he could have made better choices along the way, because he talks on the radio about the stuff that he has. And, again, this is fine. But this is not where I personally am coming from. So, if you want to buy a piece of equipment and tell everybody how much you spent, and this is your general forte, then I may not be able to help you out. If you want something that works, then I might be able to help you out.

So, let’s go. Please go to the Universal Radio website. Click on the left hand side on the online catalog button. We are now at catalog contents. Let me make a statement here. I have bought from Universal Radio and I probably will again in the future. They are not the most expensive or the least expensive, but I really like their site layout and they provide lots of data about the equipment they sell.

Now the top right hand column, click on amateur HF transceivers. You will see Alinco, ICOM, Kenwood and Yaesu. Since the ICOM column is the largest, let’s start there. As a general rule, but not always, their radios are listed from least expensive, going down, to most expensive. But this is not always the case.

First on the list, ICOM 718. This radio looks very familiar to me. Is is perfect? No. Under features, on the left hand side, it has AM/SSB/CW modes. What you don’t see is FM. You also don’t see an automatic tuner. So, if you want to operate 10 meter FM, you can’t do it with this radio. If you want to look at a screen in front of you that tells you another radio’s signal strength, you can’t do it. This is an entry level radio that will do what most HF operators require. That is, basic requirements. 

Okay, scroll down to the accessories. Second one on the list is AH-4. That is an automatic antenna tuner. Great. But you can buy one from another company for half the price that works better. LDG Electronics makes a fine quality antenna tuner for about half the price and it should be sold right here by Universal. We’ll get to that in a minute. They have other things going up and down there for other accessories. For the most part you will not need any of these accessories.

Okay, I’m going to hit the back button. Next on the ICOM list is the IC-7000. Okay, let’s take a look at some of the features. This is a nice radio, relatively inexpensive. So, play around in here. See if it has what

you want. You’ll notice under features on the right hand side it says, 100 watts HF plus 
6 meter. Underneath that it says, 50 watts 2 meter,            35 watts 440. 2 meter is VHF, 440 is UHF, but you know that, don’t you? Okay, so this radio will do VHF, UHF, and HF. It has AM and FM and you know that because VHF and UHF are FM and most HF is AM. It doesn’t say SSB? Well, scroll down a little bit and you will see it in the written print a couple of lines above accessories. This is a nice radio and if you’re one of those that’s wants to buy one radio, take a look. But something you can’t do with this is listen to HF and VHF at the same time. Most of the time that would take two separate radios.

Okay, click back to the HF page. So, let’s pick out another ICOM, the IC-7800. It only costs $10,500. This is not an entry level radio. If this is your cup of tea and this is what you want to do, then go for it. This will do more than most people will ever use in a lifetime. And if you want to tell your friends, looky what I’ve got, this will do the job. This radio is well, well out of my league. But it is pretty.

Okay, why don’t you scan through them, play with them, look at the rest of the ICOM’s. A lot of people like Kenwoods. Let’s look at the TS480. This is also a nice radio. Many people like Kenwood, I guess it’s like anything in

life. If your daddy drove a Ford pickup, there’s a good chance you will drive a Ford pickup. Remember that some people will argue to the end of the world that one brand is better than the other. I would recommend you find another crowd. These are all good radios. Just because somebody’s grandpa had another brand doesn’t make it any better. But if that’s what you want, go for it. Please check out the Kenwoods.

Next on this little list are the Yaesu’s. First is the FT-450D. If I were not using my ICOM-718, this would be my second choice. Fairly easy to use, has a built in antenna tuning system. It is a nice solid entry level radio. If you read through the features, it offers what most people need. I would give this radio a solid look. Yaesu offers some interesting radios that most companies don’t. Check out the 817, 857 and 897. These are in some way, a portable type radio. But also make sure they have the desired power levels you want. Yaesu has other good solid radios. 

Please peruse through these radios. Visit with your Elmer. If your Elmer is of the nature that only one type brand of radio will work, get you a different Elmer with a little bit more of an open mind.

Okay, let’s go back up to the top of this HF list and check out the Alincos. The DX-SR8T is your true entry level radio. But it will cover the entire HF bands in all modes, has good power, does require an antenna tuner, and

overall gets pretty good reviews. Let me stress here that there are old salts out there using entry level radios and have been for years and years. The radio that they have meets their needs. I happen to be one of those. I am relatively new to amateur radio, but I have found a radio that meets my needs. I have no intention of switching. I can talk to people anywhere, and I can listen to people anywhere. This is all I need.

Okay. Antennas. The proper antenna is unquestionably the most important piece of equipment you can own. You can have a top-of-the-line HF radio, but if you have a poor antenna, or a poor connection, or any part of the delivery system is inadequate, then your top-of-the-line HF radio will only function as well as the weakest link. Something to think about.

Okay, I went back to the online catalog page, I’m in the right hand column, about halfway down you will see amateur base antennas. Click there. You will see that the vast majority of these are vertical antennas. If this is what you want, go for it. Go down to the brand name Gap. The Challenger DX, please click there. This antenna is advertised from 80 meters to 2 meters. Good luck. Remember, an 80 meter antenna, okay 80 meters is about 240 feet. 2 meters is about 6 feet. I seriously have my doubts about this antenna. But, go ahead and read the rest of them and take a look at them. When you get finished let’s go back to the catalog page.

Go down one more to amateur wire antennas. There are multiple different types of antennas on this page. But they are all considered wire antennas. This is one of those cases where you need to get together with your Elmer and try to pick out something that will work for you. If you do not have a large lot, or you live with housing restrictions, then one of the earlier mentioned verticals may be your best bet. If you have a little bit more space, some older Elmers can teach you some tricks about wire antennas. Just for information purposes, I use the Alpha Delta wire antennas. Remember there is no perfect antenna either. 

Next on the list are beam antennas. For entry level, this may not be your best choice, but if you want to start out with one, then please investigate these. They are probably the best working antenna of all. Being a beam means that they are directional. So, find you a comfortable Elmer and

talk this over with them. A man down the road from me has an Alpha Delta DX-LB+ and he talks all over the world all of the time. Another man I know, that lives about 50 miles away, also talks all over the world and he uses a beam. Both of these guys are heavy into contesting and CW. So, one person will tell you you’ve got to have a beam and another person will tell you you have to have a dipole. 

Okay, let’s go back to the catalog contents page on the right hand side, go down four or five spaces to amateur antenna tuners. Please click. There are manual tuners and automatic tuners. There are tuners that are built specifically for a specific radio. Some are after market tuners, like LDG, or you see ICOM makes tuners. Check out the prices. I cannot address MFJ tuners, I have bought other MFJ equipment, but as for tuners, I only use LDG. If you’re interested go into the LDG site and they will have a flow chart for which antenna tuner works with which radio.

Coax cable. Coax cable depends on where you live, how long a cable you will need, what frequencies you use and how much power you run. There is no perfect cable. But things to consider. If you live in Washington state

near the coast where it rains a lot, then you will have a different need than someone living in the desert of Arizona. But use a good, new coax. I recommend flexible. Use quality connectors and a proven sealant for your area. And in radio, bigger is better. Yes, you pay more for higher quality cable, and conversely speaking, you get more. This is one of those cases where you don’t try to save a couple of bucks. Don’t use or buy pre-owned cable. Use the best cable you can afford. And the best connectors you can afford. A five dollar connector works a whole lot better than a two dollar connector. And sealant is critical. Arizona and Washington have sharply different climates for the most part. Don’t buy a $2,000 dollar radio, a $1,000 antenna system, and go cheap on coax. It’s just not worth it.

You’re going to need a power supply. If you want to use that same catalog contents page, scroll down a little over half way and it says power supplies and power strips. You’ve learned there are two types of power supplies, regulated and unregulated. Some people need a power supply with more bells and whistles than others, and some people don’t. I would recommend a larger power supply than what you think you’re going to use. Remember, P = E x I. Never use

more than 80% of the equipment’s capability. So, you have a 100 watt radio. 100 divided by 13.8 will give you about 7. Which will be about 7 amps. At the minimum, get a 10 amp power supply. But human nature dictates that you’re going to buy more pieces of equipment. So I would recommend somewhere around a 30 amp power supply. Can’t have too much power. So, take a look around through these power supplies. Find something that will fit your need. Some of these power supplies are made specifically for specific radios. Like I said, look at them. Some of them will have cigar plug connectors, most will have standard binding posts, newer models will have power pole connectors (some, not all). So, take a look at the Jet Stream JTPS28. This might meet your needs. 

While you’re on the power supply page, scroll all the way to the bottom. You’ll see power strips here. Look at these and see if they interest you. It makes hooking up multiple pieces of equipment a whole lot easier. For instance look at the MJF1129. This power strip has binding posts and power pole connectors. You ask, “What is a power pole connector?” Go back to where you just were and right above MFJ or power pole connectors, click on that site. These are real handy little gizmos. 

Okay, I’m going to ask you to do something a little different here now. Open a new window and go to PowerWerx. On the left hand side you will see

Anderson Power Poles. Please click here. Now click on the left hand side, Anderson Power Pole and look at this page a great deal. Look at the right hand side. It says frequently asked questions. You just use these to connect your power cables. These are standard connectors in the emergency rescue fields. This is something a little bit new to you, but take a look at it.

While you’re on the page with Anderson Power Poles, you’ll see 15 amp and 30 amp. Let’s pick the first one, 15 amp, unassembled. Let’s click on it.

Scroll down, it will give you a tremendous amount of information. The 15, 30, and 40 amp connectors all use the same size housing. A little farther down is a cutaway view. These connectors are really, really handy. When you talk to your Elmer ask to visit somebody’s shack that uses these and you will see what I mean. 

Okay, there are a few other little things you will need to set up your HF radio. You’ll need some way to get your antenna up in the air. You might be interested in some type of lightening arrestor. But be advised, nothing will stop lightening from coming into your shack. You need to unplug your antennas.

We’re not going to get to VHF today. But coax requirements, power supplies, power strips, power pole connectors and all of the data mentioned today will apply to those also. This information is for entry level. It is not for advanced amateur radio communications. There are a gazillion other terms, satellite programs, RTTY, just many, many, many things. These things will come with time. So, do you know what a ‘lid’ is? Ask your Elmer. 

Last thing. Safety. It is one thing to experiment, it is another thing to do something dangerous and stupid. If you don’t know what you’re doing, DON’T DO IT. It’s one thing to have a one watt radio, and another thing to have a 5000 watt radio. If you don’t know what you’re doing, 
DON’T DO IT. 

We’ll talk about VHF next time, and sorry about the weather delay. But I would check out the power pole connectors. They are really cool.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank
  

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Originally published December 14th, 2013

Radio – Entry Level Equipment, Part 2

Hello, Frank here.

Hi Everybody. I know some parts of the country are getting the bad weather we got a week ago, and I hope there haven’t been too many slip and falls. The snow from our storms is just about gone. Something I didn’t mention last time is going outside everyday and checking my antennas. Everything was okay.

A little trivia here. Did you know that once you plant your first antenna pole, through a miracle unknown and understood by man, more antenna poles will grow? Some houses actually look like an antenna farm. So, be ready. The tooth fairy brings them too. They just show up in the morning.

Okay. Let’s talk about VHF radios. But first I’m going to group a whole bunch of frequencies and meters together. Last time I talked about HF radios primarily. There are some HF radios that have VHF and UHF. I

know there are designated frequencies for VHF and UHF, but in the general conversation of radio, everything above 10 meter is either UHF or VHF. It starts with 6 meters, 2 meters and keeps going up. Everything today that I am going to talk about, I’m going to call VHF. The reason for that is that most of the equipment you are going to use are going to be similar and the characteristics of the frequencies are similar.

The last post, we talked some about power supplies, coax cable, power strips, power pole connectors and antenna tuners. Most of that equipment you will also use with the VHF radios. Power supplies for example, if you

want a simple operating system, then one power supply is all you need. Remember back when we first started talking about buying a bigger power supply than you needed to get started? Well, this is the reason why. More equipment needs more power. To operate a 50 watt VHF radio you can theoretically get by with 5 amps. To operate your 100 watt HF, you can theoretically get by with 7 or 8 amps. You can see where this is going. You can also recharge all of your rechargeable batteries, normally, from a 12 volt system. You can also charge your cell phones and operate your internet hot spot. There are all kinds of things you can do with a 12 volt system. Now remember when I say a 12 volt system that also means 13.8 VDC. So, 25 to 35 amps is a nice size power supply. Don’t forget your CB radio and your scanners and your weather radio, not to mention you can recharge your rechargeable lanterns if they have a 12 volt recharging system. I even have a 12 volt boot dryer and a 12 volt chicken incubator. Okay. I’ll get back to radios here now.

Again, most of your connectors, coax, safety equipment and grounding all use the same equipment. Something that will be different is your antenna. Most VHF is done with a vertically polarized antenna, which means up 

and down. Most HF uses a horizontally polarized antenna. Not all, but most. Because with HF you are normally bouncing off of the ionosphere so it doesn’t make that big of a difference whether it is horizontal or vertical. But with VHF it does make a difference. Remember, VHF is primarily line of sight and the sending and receiving stations need to have matching polarity. Most VHF that goes long distance is through a repeater. The vast majority of repeaters are vertical. Does this mean that you can’t communicate with a station with opposite polarity? You can, but your sound will be distorted.

Okay. So. Another big difference between VHF and HF. Let’s take 40 meters HF for example. 40 meters is about 120 feet. That’s a pretty long antenna even if you use half wave it’s still about 60 feet. It’s a whole lot easier to run 60 feet horizontal than it is vertical.

Think about it. Let’s go back to VHF. You have a 2 meter signal, which is 144-148 MHz in the ham band. That’s about 6 feet. A half wave signal is about 3 feet. A quarter wave signal is about 18 inches. Vertical is a whole lot easier, because you can’t put a 60 foot vertical antenna on your car. Okay, people will say, “But I know guys that run HF in their cars and they don’t have a 60 foot antenna.” That is correct. Without going into detail, they use electronic gizmos to trick mother nature. But as a general rule, mobile HF operates poorly, especially on the lower bands.

I’m going to throw in safety right here. Never mess with safety. Don’t try to over power a radio unless you know what you are doing. I’m not saying don’t do it. But don’t do it if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Okay. Let’s go to the Universal Radio website. I will say it again. I have no commercial affiliation with Universal Radio. They are not the cheapest or the most expensive, but their website is filled with easy to access information. I do use these folks and I do buy from these folks and I am relatively sure I will buy from them in the future.

Okay, we’re at the Universal Radio website. Please click the online catalog button. We are now at catalog contents. I hope this page looks familiar. There is lots of information here. Please look around, play around. Let’s go to the right hand column, Amateur VHF/UHF Mobile. By the way, you will not need an antenna tuner for VHF. Okay, we’re there. You’ll see some of the major names. Everybody here makes a capable, competent radio. Most of these are made exclusively for ham radio, a few of them are not. You need to do some research in the area in which you live. There is no reason to get a UHF radio if no one in your area uses UHF. Example: In my area there is not a 10 meter repeater. It does not exist. So, therefore, I do not need a piece of equipment that will reach a 10 meter repeater. So what I’m going to focus on is the most common combination which is UHF/VHF. When you’re reading the data on some of these radios it will just use the letters ‘U’ and ‘V’, which means the radio might be capable of operating on two channels at one time. The combination could be U/U, V/V, U/V or V/U. But remember, if no one in your area uses UHF, then why waste the money? But, if your radio does have two channels and it’s V/V capable, then you can listen to two VHF frequencies at the same time. Food for thought.

Alrighty. Let’s go down and pick the Kenwood TM-V71A. This is a very popular radio. It has most features that most folks look for in a dual receive radio. I would certainly take a look at this one. It is a radio that is easy to modify. I’ll talk more about that shortly. My first VHF/UHF was this radio. Being my first, there was a lot I needed to learn, and I found this radio to be too complicated for my needs. That does not mean it is not a first class radio. 

So, I traded it for a new Alinco DR-635T. Go back to the VHF radio page and Alinco is at the top, the 635 is at the bottom. Please open it. The first thing you could notice is that it costs less. About $60.00 less with this company. It will not do a few things that the Kenwood will do, but it will do everything that I need it to do. It is a perfectly capable VHF/UHF ham radio. It’s easier for me to operate. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, then you know that my wife and I both have our General licenses. To operate this radio, you need to be a Technician. My wife got her ham radio license mostly just to make me happy. Radio is important to her because it is important to me. She needs a radio that she can turn on, change the channel, push the microphone button and talk. She does not care about beaming a signal

off of a comet. This is what is in her car. It works. This is what is in my vehicle. It works. And this is what is in my house, because it’s easier for me to learn one radio than two or three other radios. With this 635T I use the RT programming system, which is computer based. Some people would say that you need to know how to field program it. Okay, that means that they need to know how to field program it. I need to be able to turn it on, change the channel, push the microphone button and talk. I could care less about bouncing a signal off of a comet. 

I’m going to take a slight detour here, I’ll get back to these radios in a minute. What does it mean to modify a radio? To some people it means more power, to others they want to add a system, one is called EchoLink, and there are multiple other things that you can do with these radios. But the word modification to most people means to expand the transmit range out of the ham frequencies. This radio right there, the Alinco, second

line under the picture says, “Receive coverage 108-173 MHz”. It says, “transmit frequency 144-148 MHz” which are the ham bands within the VHF spectrum. Okay. Follow me here. You can modify this radio to transmit on the same frequencies that it is currently set to receive on. The same for UHF also. If you modify it, if you could receive those frequencies before, you can now transmit on those frequencies. Well, why would anybody want to do that? Well, there are the MURS frequencies around 151 MHz. There are the GMRS frequencies around 465 MHz. If you’re into public service, there are police, fire and EMS which also uses these frequencies. Be advised, to modify this radio to operate out of the ham frequencies violates FCC regulations. But there are some police and fire departments that do just that because these radios are much cheaper than commercial radios from name brand manufacturers. If you have the chance, go back and read under Frank’s Radio Communications the GMRS and MURS post

Now also understand that one antenna normally will not work well on all of these frequencies. It will either be too short or too long and your SWR will

increase. But there is an antenna that is made by Comet. It is CA-2x4SR. If you’ll go back to the catalog contents page on the right hand side down about nine spaces is Amateur Mobile Antennas. Please click. Under Comet, about four down, is the CA-2x4SR. Please click. This antenna comes in two base types. Pay attention here. This antenna can also be used for a base station antenna for frequencies out of the ham band, also frequencies in the ham band. While we’re here, go down two more places under Comet and check out the M24. This is a real good little 2 meter antenna. It will also work out of band, but not great. And it comes with three different connectors. Again, pay attention here.

Okay, back to VHF/UHF mobile. Look at the Anytone AT-5888UV. This is what is called a commercial radio. When it comes to you it will be open and have almost all VHF/UHF frequencies. These type radios can be used in

the commercial service industries which includes police, fire, EMS, schools, railroads, power companies and they can also be used legally for the ham bands. So why not buy one of these? There is no need to modify. It can be used on MURS and GMRS. I guess the primary reason is a quality issue. Some folks say these radios just don’t hold up. I know people that have them and they like them. If they had been out for a few more years, and some of their early quality issues had been resolved, then I would look seriously at using these radios. As far as handhelds go, I do use a commercial radio. They have been out for a good while and they have worked the bugs out.

Let’s go back to the VHF radio page and go all the way to the bottom to Wouxun. Please click on their radio, there is only one. This is another commercial radio and it gets mixed reviews. Notice the bottom line, the warranty is from the factory in China. There are no state side service facilities. If it quits working on you, you have to send it back to China. That’s one of the reasons people would rather buy a ham radio and make a modification.

The Alinco DR-635T. To modify it, you remove four screws, take off the cover, locate the blue wire, which you can’t miss, cut the wire, and you now

have a modified radio. Is it illegal to own a to operate out of band? Yes. Are there thousands and thousands of modified VHF radios in this country? Yes. An example here. Your little handheld GMRS radio, which in most cases are excellent radios, operate around 465 MHz. You program these frequencies into your modified radio, you turn your power down on the radio and no one on the planet will know that you are talking on anything but a handheld GMRS radio. By the way, you need a license to operate on GMRS frequencies. I have never met a person on this planet that has one. You can buy the handheld GMRS radios at any sporting good stores, Wal-Mart, online and it’s up to you to apply for the license. When you get the license, anyone in your family or anyone at your house or vicinity can operate under that license. That means you do not have to have it on you to operate these radios. Go back and read the post about GMRS radios. What I’m saying here is you can have a nice ham radio that will also operate on other frequencies. It’s your choice.
There are many, many other mobile VHF radios on this page. Check them out. Some companies will not sell ham radios to someone without a call sign. So be aware of that. Some companies will, some companies won’t.

You need an Elmer. That’s ham language for a teacher. You can find one through the ARRL website. If your Elmer is not open to ideas of modifying radios, asks for a different Elmer. Some of these ham guys are hard core ham radio people, others are just folks that love ham radio, but they don’t mind cutting a wire here and there. I’d guess the numbers are about 50/50. But, generally speaking, a standard antenna, be it mobile or base station with standard coax and a standard power supply and about any VHF radio will get you on the air. Don’t forget safety. I’m finished.

Another topic. I am of a firm belief that our world is going to experience some type of event that is going to shut down normal life as we know it.

The entire purpose for this blog site is to help people get prepared. If these radio posts help you learn to communicate just a little bit better, then it has been worth my time and effort. To me, communication is critical. Whether you’re a listener or you want to communicate what you have heard to your little area of the country. Who knows, maybe even talking to your neighbors on the GMRS frequencies. Communications is important. A small radio, with a small antenna, with an automotive battery, a power supply, a small solar panel and a gizmo

called a charge controller, you can operate a shortwave radio on 12 volts. This will bring you your local news and news from around the world. A scanner can tell you what local police and fire are doing. That same scanner will also pick up weather and Coast Guard. That same solar panel battery will also power a CB radio, a VHF/UHF radio for ham communications, and MURS and GMRS. It will also power your HF radio where you can talk and listen

around the world. Imagine that. Something like a 20 watt solar panel, a small charge controller, an automotive type battery, a scanner, an HF radio which you can also use for shortwave listening, and a modified VHF/UHF radio and you can listen to the world, talk to the world and also communicate with your local buddies. Don’t forget the humble CB radio. And you can recharge your rechargeable batteries. Give it some thought. Hard times are coming. And if you want to be able to communicate, it is relatively simple. Time is running out.


We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Our New Battery Powered Propane Cookstove

Frank has told you before about the problems we were having with our propane cookstove. The electronic panel that controls the oven, timer and clock kept going out. The cooktop burners still worked fine, but the oven would not heat to the indicated temperature, or keep an even heat, or would heat way past the indicated temperature. We were always told it was the electronic control panel. So we replaced it instead of buying a new stove, after all, we bought this stove new in 2008, and it should last a long time, right? Not right. After replacing the control panel for the third time at $150.00 each, the third replacement didn’t work for over a week. Time’s up. We needed a new stove, but after the experience we had, we didn’t want a stove with an electronic control panel. 

Do you know how hard it is to find a new stove without an electronic panel? Almost as hard as trying to find a washer that doesn’t decide how much water you need to wash your clothes. Almost, but not quite, because we did find one, even though it may be the last one. We had chosen a particular model and asked our local appliance store if they could order one, they tried, and it had been discontinued. So, we found another one and asked the same question. They had one left in the regional warehouse, and that was it. This model has also been discontinued. We don’t know if they are still available anywhere else, or if a new similar model will be built. Even so, we wanted to show you this stove and explain why we chose it.

 
This is not a top of the line stove. In fact, most people would consider it to be on the other end of the scale. But, you know what? I am just tickled pink. It is plain, simple and battery operated. No, it doesn’t have any moving parts or talk or flash or even beep. But if the power goes out, I can still cook and bake to my heart’s

content, all because of this 9 volt battery. The ignition strikers all work off of this battery, even the oven. Yea! I have always wanted an oven that would work when the power is off. Now I have one, and I consider it to be a very important part of our preparations for the hard times ahead. Yes, I know that most cooktops will light with a match when the power is out, but very few ovens will. I feel fortunate to have one of the few ovens that will light when the power is off, very fortunate.

 

Here is a tour of the stove. It is a Hotpoint. All four burners have the same BTU output. The burners are not sealed, but the top is easy to remove and clean.

 

 

 

The oven lights similar to one in a travel trailer or camper. You hold the knob in for 10 seconds then set the temperature and make sure it lights.

Rechargeable battery
Battery charger

All of the burners and the oven can be lit with a match if the battery dies and there is not a replacement. The battery compartment description indicates the use of an alkaline battery, so we stocked up on a few. The manual indicates the battery will last two to three years. We would rather use rechargeable batteries, but when Frank contacted the manufacturer, he was told to only use alkaline batteries. The reason is that an alkaline is 9 volts VDC, and a rechargeable 9 volt is actually 8.4 VDC. Our battery charger will work off of a regular wall plug in, but transforms the power to 12 VDC. We operate ours directly from Frank’s radio power supply, which is 13.8 volts or 12 volts. Using rechargeable batteries will extend the length of time we are able to use battery power for many different things if the electricity is down for any length of time, including the stove. Yes, Frank’s power supply is 110 volts, but we also have a 12 volt solar system for the long term. And, yes, the stove works fine off of the rechargeable battery. Another yea!


I’ve been waiting for this stove for a long time. Frank’s back surgery slowed things down a little bit, but it is here, it is working, and it’s exactly what we have wanted for a long, long time. I have not tried to bake anything yet, since it just arrived this morning. If there are any problems with the oven I will let you know, because tomorrow is Saturday, and Saturday is biscuit day. I look forward to not wondering when they will be done and if they will be gooey or burnt. And besides that, Frank really enjoys our Saturday morning biscuit tradition, and I enjoy providing them for him. It’s all part of the blessings of marriage and family traditions. He spoils me rotten with the things I want, like this stove, but in return, I get to spoil him with biscuits. Isn’t life grand?

Until next time – Fern