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

 

Antenna Tower Sneak Peak

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is healthy.

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

Show & Tell the Ham Way

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

As some of you are probably aware, I’ve been teaching a ham radio and survival communications class to some of the folks from my local, small town community. This has really been a fun time. It’s caused me to dig a little deeper about radio information than I normally do, and it’s given me the opportunity, when I didn’t have a clue what the answer was, to refine my lying skills. Just kidding, of course. Kinda.

This is a group of adults, with one 16 year old young adult, two ladies and about 15 men. It’s also a very diverse group with various occupations and perspectives about life. But one thing that most of us agree with in this group is that something is coming that is not necessarily going to be good. And that is interesting, because most of the people in this class I did not know before it started.

But back to the story. Last Tuesday evening I got to do show and tell. If you’ve forgotten what show and tell is, it’s that major event when little kids bring something from home to school and talk about it. You know, show and tell. Well, I brought my little Jeep Liberty loaded down with assorted radio toys. My Jeep already has three antennas permanently mounted on it. One of them is the AM/FM radio antenna which gets very little use. Another one is a four foot CB antenna and the other one is a 40″ VHF/UHF antenna. The last two are mounted on the rear of the vehicle where the hatch opens, on opposite sides.

I disconnected my CB and my VHF/UHF radios in the car, then rerouted the coax to the back of the vehicle, and used these two antennas during show and tell. But, I need power for these radios, so I took about a 10′ piece of 14/2 speaker wire, put a power pole connector on each end, connected one end inside the vehicle to the power source where the original two radios were connected. I routed that power extension out the open hatch in the back. Now we have power at the rear of the vehicle, a CB antenna and a VHF/UHF antenna.

I borrowed a little individual student desk from the church hall where we’ve been holding our classes, and set up an HF radio and a VHF/UHF radio on this little desk. But I didn’t want to use my CB antenna because it is rather limited. As part of the show and tell demonstration, I removed the 48″ CB antenna and replaced it with the world famous 102″ stainless steel whip antenna. This is the antenna that all others are judged by. The 102 is the one that the really cool cowboys have on their pick up trucks with their CB radios, and now, I was really cool, too. Why the 102? It’s by far the best mobile CB antenna made, not the most expensive, but the best performing. So why doesn’t everybody use it, you ask? Pray tell, not everyone can handle being cool. Or, maybe realistically, it’s because it’s 102″ long, and it just doesn’t fit in everybody’s garage door. But the primary reason I used it is because CB is actually the 11 meter HF band, which is right between the 10 and 12 meter bands. With a good tuner, you can tune down to the 20 and 40 meter bands.

Well, we listened for a while on some of the HF bands, and we also listened to some shortwave frequencies. The radio we used to do this with is an ICOM IC-718 accompanied with a LDG IT-100 tuner. I purchased this radio used a couple of days earlier, cleaned it up, reprogrammed it, made some modifications and now it’s ready to go. It’s a no frills radio with solid performance. The LDG tuner is an excellent compliment to the radio.

Is the 102 the perfect antenna? It is for the CB bands, and it met the needs that evening for show and tell. But you ask, what about the

other radio? Well, the other radio was a VHF/UHF, commonly called a dual band radio. It was connected to the same power supply that ran from the front to the back of the vehicle. It was connected to my mobile antenna that I use everyday, which is a Comet CA 2×4 SR. It’s not your everyday ham radio antenna, but it works great on the ham frequencies, and it also works great on the search and rescue frequencies which is what the SR stands for. The radio I was using is the same type I use everyday in my vehicle, but I didn’t want to disconnect it, so I used my back up storage radio, which is also and Anytone AT-5888UV. It is not a ham radio, it is a commercial radio that works fine on the ham frequencies and the search and rescue frequencies. We did make contacts with a couple of outside stations and it was fun.

On hand that evening I also brought a VHF/UHF magnet mount antenna. This is the antenna that Fern and I first used on our vehicles. It’s a good solid mobile antenna that is also made by Comet, model M-24. Due to time restraints, I did not hook up this antenna, but I did bring a hand held Wouxun dual band VHF/UHF and showed the group how you can connect this radio to the external antenna with an adapter, using what is called a 

battery eliminator that plugs into a cigar plug or power port. With a good microphone attached, and a little Velcro, you now have a solid performing, mobile, 5 watt, VHF/UHF, commercial radio that works on the ham bands, and also the search and rescue frequencies. This is the set up that Fern and I used when we started getting serious about longer distance communication. This set up worked quite well and it would still work quite well. For under $100 one can have an outside the vehicle antenna, which is a must for reliable distance communications, a radio, power supply, and Wa-la! you have communications. There are thousands of ham radio operators that use this type of set up for VHF/UHF. If you get the inclination, you can disconnect the radio from the outside antenna, remove the battery eliminator, insert the original battery, attach the original antenna, and you can now take your hand held radio for a walk. Life is good.

The overall demonstration that night went well. Sitting in a classroom and talking about something is one thing, but seeing it right there in front of you is the best teacher. I’m happy to say that show and tell went well. If some of the language in this article seems a little foreign to you, may I recommend you scoot over to the right hand side of this blog, and up toward the top you will find Frank’s Radio Communications. Inside Frank’s Radio Communications you will find many articles about radio communications. Some are about ham radio, but there are also articles about CB, GMRS, scanners, shortwave and other radio articles in general.

Ladies and gentlemen, teaching this class has been lots of fun. It’s been very eye opening. If you want to learn how to communicate, you can do it too. Here in the near future you might want to have a different way to communicate besides what you depend on today. There is thunder just over the horizon. I would like to be able to quote Ronald Regan, but I can’t, so I will paraphrase him. When the man from the government shows up at your door and says he is here to help, turn around and run. Ladies and gentlemen, that man is at the door. Don’t get on the bus.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

The Shack Part 2 – What Antenna Do I Use?

Hello, Frank here.

In the last post I showed you some of the radios I use. Well radios also use connectors, cables or coax, antennas, and need mounts for the antennas. Today I will talk about the antennas that I use. So instead of going outside

and taking a picture of something that looks like a stick in the sky, I’m going to send you to websites where I bought the antennas, in most cases. The sites will have pictures, specifications about the antennas and what they are used for. But first let me tell you – there is not one antenna that will do everything. Some will advertise that they can, but it just doesn’t work in the world of radio communications and physics. Remember, always be safe. If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t do it. Even if your crazy brother-in-law says that you can. 

Here’s what I use for my radios. My HF radio antenna, is an Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus. This is a dipole antenna that picks up multiple bands, supposedly from 10 meter to 160 meter. Remember that

there is no perfect antennas? Well this is one of those cases. It works fine on the majority of the bands, but through some gizmo whizo physics, they claim to operate on 160 and 80 meters. I guess they do in a kind-of-way. Overall, I like the antenna. It is simple and it works, kinda.

For my VHF/UHF radio I use a Comet CA-2x4SR. This is a 40 inch antenna that works fine on the VHF/UHF ham bands and also

works fine on GMRS and MURS frequencies. I have tried ham band antennas that advertise tremendous gain and they work great on the ham frequencies, but my SWR is off the charts for GMRS and MURS. I don’t know how this antenna works exactly, but I have included the eHam review page for this antenna, read it and see what you think. This antenna is normally used as a mobile antenna. I use it as a base, therefore, it needs a ground plane radial connector, which I have included. The antenna mounts to the ground plane that mounts to a pole. Therefore you have your antenna, your radial kit and the pole. 

Now let me advise you of something here. Antennas come with different base mounts. NWO and UHF are the two common mounts for mobile antennas. Everything I use has the UHF mount. UHF, SO239 and PL259 are all the same connector. One might be male or female, but they use the same threads. Some companies will call them UHF and some will call them 259, but they are the same. NWO has a larger diameter and different type of connector. So when buying an antenna, or the mount for an antenna, make sure you get the correct base. The links I have included go to sites using the UHF type base. But they also sell the NWO base. Make sure you know what you are looking for.

My CB antenna is an A-99. It is a standard in the industry. Many ham radio operators use this antenna for 10/12 meter. It has been around a long time and is a proven performer.

Okay. That covers my HF antenna, VHF/UHF antenna, CB or 11 meter antenna. Now there is one more that is not normally used as a transmit antenna, but can be. It is a discone type antenna and the link I have provided is for the economy model. Most people use it for a receive antenna only. It covers a wide spectrum from 25 MHz to 3000 MHz. But most guys and gals use it for UHF/VHF reception which includes your scanners, marine band radio, public service – which is police and fire, and the NWS (National Weather Service) or weather radio. 

I talked about scanners in the last post, but I forgot weather radios. 
I live in tornado alley. I know folks that live in hurricane areas and I know people that live in avalanche areas. Weather radios can advise you of hurricanes, avalanches and tornadoes and have a huge selection of other types of advisories and warnings. Tornadoes pop up quickly and the NWS sends out via radio frequency, special alerts and advisories that will trigger 

an immediate signal on special radios. These warnings can be narrowed down to the county level or multiple county level. This technology is referred to as S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding). I use a Midland WR300 weather receiver. I find this radio a little bit difficult to program, but it works. Here in southeastern Oklahoma, we take weather very seriously. By no means am I slighting folks that live in hurricane areas, but with today’s technology we know days in advance when a hurricane is coming. In tornado country, sometimes we might have five minutes warning. This is one more example of being prepared. Have a good weather radio, learn how to use it, keep a good battery in it for back up. I have this radio connected to my discone antenna along with my two scanners. 

I know this seems like a lot of different types of information – different radios, different frequencies, different antennas. And it is a lot of information. But that’s okay. We haven’t even covered coax cable, connectors or grounding rods which we will discuss later. Remember, there is no perfect radio or perfect antenna or perfect car or perfect gun for all situations. So, make your choices, choose wisely and be happy with what you have. If you are of this type of persuasion, which I am, then you might want to ask the Almighty Father for advice on which purchases are appropriate for you. 

We still have a lot to cover about radio communications. I hope you’ll hang in there. If you have no interest at all in transmitting on a radio and you are only interested in listening or receiving, then in the next post I will make some recommendations for shortwave radios (SW) portable and base, scanners portable and base, and antennas that will work with both. I will have some good shortwave websites with a plethora of information. 

I had some questions about the 102/108 antenna. I’ve addressed these at the following websites: Firestik and Right Channel Radios. The 108 is the standard that all others judge their antenna upon. It is not for everyone, but if you can work a 108 into your mobile needs, you will have a first class quality antenna. And it looks cool!

By the way, my weather radio just informed me with a loud, rude, obnoxious sound that there is a thunderstorm warning in my county. Isn’t technology great?

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank