Times Are Changing

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

Let’s talk radio.

It would appear that in the very near future, radios might be a great way to communicate. Radio communication has taken a back seat to the internet and cell phones. It is easy to understand why. Internet is mighty convenient. Cell phone, I don’t even stop and think at this communication marvel.

Times are changing. Times are changing quickly. I’d like for you to think about radio as a backup system to cell phone and internet. Yes, radio will never replace internet or cell phones, but if you need to talk to someone in your area, or you just want to listen to that same group of people in your area, you can do this with radio. We’re going to talk about that.

A few years back I wrote a number of articles about various radio communications. Here is a link to a list of those articles. It’s also on the side bar under Frank’s Radio Communications.

LINK: Frank’s Radio Communications

Some of the information is dated. Some of the test manuals are out of date. Some of the links to various businesses may not work. But the information about the radios themselves, very little has changed here.


Look through some of these articles. Times are changing. If you have questions, put them in the comments. Boys and girls, we need to be able to communicate. Think about it. If you say to yourself, well I can’t do that. Then you can’t. If you see Bubba riding down the road in his old truck with his CB antenna on it – well he can do it. Fear of learning is common. Adults generally are not good students. Get over it. Learn.

Read some of the articles. If you don’t understand it, let it soak in. Most radio is push the button and talk. I live surrounded by Bubba, it’s a great place to be. Learn. Read. And do.

Always use caution when sharing information with folks you don’t truly know. One last thing. Anything you say on a radio can be heard by somebody else. Don’t give out phone numbers, addresses, it’s called operational security, OPSEC. Let’s do this.

Put questions in the comments. Local is where you live. Local is where you will survive. Bubba is your buddy. Remember, humor is the essence of survival.

 

We’ll TALK more later, Frank


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

 

Changes in Life

Changes. A lot has changed in our lives since the last time we wrote here, but a lot has stayed the same as well. Thought we’d let you know what’s been going on for the last three years.

What hasn’t changed? We still live on our homestead, have goats, chickens, cats and our Great Pyrenees. There is still a garden where a lot of our food is grown. The world continues to appear to be in for a great reset, which seems to be holding off for now, even with the shaking and rattling that comes and goes worldwide every day. That is not a reference to earthquakes, by the way.

What has changed? Much. 

At the time of our goodbye, I was in the midst of having hand surgery for trigger finger and ganglion cysts. That turned into one of the ordeals of our lifetime, which ended up with a serious actinomyces infection that necessitated six months of antibiotic treatment. That story will be an article or two all by itself.

Also during that time, it became apparent that my mother was entering some serious stages of dementia. She is now in the final stages and lives in a nursing home. This will also be a continuing story that contains many trials, frustrations and heartaches that will be shared. It will be good for me to write it all out and get input from others, their perspectives, their insights and experiences.

And then about two years ago Frank had a double bypass. The need for it came as a shock since he hadn’t shown any previous symptoms, nor have a heart attack. This has been the biggest life altering event that continues to impact our daily lives, goals and perspectives. There have been many serious, difficult conversations concerning our lives and futures since this event, and some of those topics will be shared with you.

Frank still works with radio and there have been some ups and downs there which he will be sharing along the way. Some things worked out as planned, and some didn’t.

We have increasingly found our life of homesteading and preparing, our chosen path, has been a lonely one. There aren’t many people we meet that choose to live this way. Some still say ‘that sounds like so much work’ or ‘why don’t you just buy it at the store’. We are just too different for most people’s taste, and make them uncomfortable, and yet, would not choose to live any other way. It seems some of the most meaningful ‘conversations’ we have had about this way of life has been here, sitting at a computer, ‘discussing’ life with strangers. Interesting.

There is much to share now that we’re back to writing on the blog. Know that in many ways it was a relief to stop writing. The blog had become a burden, with the feeling and pressure to perform on a regular basis. That aspect was not missed, so our posts may be irregular and only occur when there is something worthwhile to share. For now we would like to share what we can in the hope that it may help someone else along the way. Frank has always been a teacher and continues to search for ways to help others.

Life’s priorities change with time and circumstance, and you will see this has happened with us. We look forward to interacting with our friends out in blog world again, have missed your comments and have wondered how many of you are doing. It’s an interesting thing to ‘know’ some folks that we have never met, never talked to and probably never will. The way all of us are presented online never shows the real person behind the words, and yet, the interaction it makes possible could never happen any other way.

We look forward to our future conversations.Your comments are encouraged and critical, others benefit from what we talk about here, all of you and I sharing our ideas and visions. We’re all in this boat together. Just remember, don’t get on the bus.

Until next time, Fern

End Fed Antenna Review

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

A Product Review, Baofeng UV-82HP

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Homestead News, Volume 15

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

Lance, the boar

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

Liberty, our gilt

 

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

Tower #2


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

 

Tower #3

 

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

Bucket with a hole for watering trees

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

Our wonderful Pearl


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

The chicks are growing.

The chickens like pears.

Scruf is funny.

Patch

Lady Bug
Okra blossom

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

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

Until next time – Fern
 

Pondering, Fishing & Pigs

We had a nice, short rain this morning, then the sun came out and warmed things up. My sinuses are healing up nicely, but I am still not doing anything very physical or anything that requires a lot of bending over. So after the morning chores, I thought I would see if I could catch a fish or two from the pond. I always start out very hopeful, and dream of fried catfish for lunch. There are lots of folks that don’t care for catfish because of their life style, but if you were raised in the south, you were raised eating fried catfish. Both of my grandfathers took us fishing as children, then grandma made up some really good things to eat when we got home. They are great memories, and with them came a definite preference for fried catfish.

This time I took the feathery lure thing off the rod and traded it for a regular hook. Frank had me add three prong hooks to our shopping list since we don’t have any, or we can’t find them. This hook is bigger and much stronger than the one that was on there when I tried fishing last time. I thawed out some chicken gizzards to use for bait, got my bucket, a pair of needle nose pliers and a fish stringer, just in case, and off I went.

The fish pond is in the pig pasture, and they wondered why I was there in the middle of the day. The first expectation was that it was feeding time again some how. As I walked down to the pond they followed me with grunts and squeals, wondering where I was going with this extra large feed bucket.

It took a while with sniffing and tasting of the bat we use for correcting improper behavior, nudging the bucket to see what was in it and poking their muddy noses on my radio, for them to calm down and realize I had nothing for them, in fact, I was pretty boring and after a while, they all wondered off.

 

Soon the dog and the pigs all decided it was a good time for a swim.

About five minutes after I threw out my hook, I started getting nibbles. Then I quickly caught, well almost, a small sun perch that jumped off the hook at the bank, flopped around a couple of times, then swam off. Well, that is a good sign, there are fish in the pond, even though it has been about four years since we last stocked it.

You know, for me, fishing is incredibly boring. I know people that would fish all day every day if they could. I think I would go crazy. One good thing about carrying everything in a five gallon bucket is that it doubles for a chair. I also put the jar of gizzards under it so I wouldn’t have to protect it from the pigs or the dog, Pearl. Pearl did get a piece of gizzard, though, while the pigs weren’t looking.

I was glad that the dog and the pigs came wondering back around and provided me with some entertainment. Lance, our boar, decided to hang around and give me hand or take a nap, I’m not sure which.

 

Not long afterward, I caught a catfish! Yea! But it was very small, not enough for a meal. The good news is since we haven’t stocked the pond in four years, and this guy was small, that means they are reproducing. This is very good news.

 

Back to sitting and hoping for a fish. While I was sitting there enjoying the peaceful beauty of the day, my thoughts turned to the events unfolding in the world. My prayers are with the fallen police officer’s family and friends in Houston that was gunned down while buying gasoline. I thought of the video interview Frank and I watched yesterday with yet another prediction of dire circumstances for the economy by October. October 1st is just 32 short days away. I thought of the mounting racial tensions across our country and how the death of a black person causes outrage, riots and speeches by well known political and religious leaders. Yet at the same time, the death of a white person causes silence by well known political and religious leaders. Not to mention the inundation of people illegally coming across the borders in droves and what that is doing to many communities and cities across the nation. These growing phenomenons will be at the root of a great many coming difficulties. There is a sense of the haves and have nots, those that do and those that do not.

There are those that will prepare and those that will not. All of these things are adding to the mounting resentment and unease that is slowly starting to erupt and ooze across our land like a putrid disease. There is no good that can come of it. Our leaders are fomenting actions that will destroy our land and many good people with it. What will be left is anybody’s guess. 

This is what I pondered. You know what? I also dearly prayed that none of it is so. That I could be totally wrong. But if I am wrong, then so are

thousands and thousands of others, whose numbers grow more and more everyday. No matter how hard I wish it weren’t true, and don’t want it to be so, it doesn’t change a thing. I told Frank about this when I came back to the house. I told him I am in mourning for our country. I mourn the coming strife and devastation. I mourn for the children that will be caught up in unbelievable situations. I mourn. But at the same time, I am filled with gratitude for these days that we have been given and the motivation to prepare for what lies ahead.

After awhile, I caught another small, sun perch. Nice looking little fish, but again, not big enough to eat. So after it posed for this picture, it got to swim away for another day. That was it for fishing today. Maybe sometime I will actually catch something we can eat. While I was at it, the pigs gathered for another dip in the water and mud, then settled down for a nap. Lucky pigs.

While I fished and the pigs roamed around, I got a good picture of Liberty, our gilt. She tends to spend time alone away from the ‘boys’, although when I arrived at the pasture today, she and Lance came up from the pond together. Liberty is about five and a half months old now, so she will be breeding before long. We figure we will have our first piglets sometime in January or February. That will be an interesting experience. We will also be having kids around that time since three of our does are bred. If they took and don’t come back in heat, they will all kid in January.

Since I didn’t catch any fish, I lolly gagged on the way back to the house. We’ve been noticing butterflies all over the place lately and they were out in force this afternoon. Several of them were nice enough to pose for pictures, so I thought I would share them with you.

The time has come that we all need to be very aware of our surroundings. More so than ever before. All the preparations in the world will mean nothing if we aren’t here to utilize them. The world is increasingly becoming a more dangerous place, where you may be attacked only because of your appearance. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the grey man, you need to look it up and start practicing being grey. It may save your life and the lives of those around you. Be careful and watch your back.

Until next time – Fern