Radio – Let’s Get Started

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

I recently received this comment under a non-radio article. I’m going to share the comment with you, I’ll answer this man. He had some very good questions, valid points and is seeking information. The comment will be edited, by removing what part of the country he is from, otherwise it is mostly intact. 

Following the answer to his comment, I have included an older article that is a beginning step for understanding radio. Some of the information in here is dated, in other words, out dated. I’ll talk about that before you get to the article.
 
Hi Frank, Thanks for offering additional help! I’m interested, like you, in “survival communications”. Two primary areas of interest. First, I’m reading about two-way radios like the Midland you referenced; also looking at a Baofeng. Trying to decide if I want to get the license, etc. I’d like to be able to communicate with wife, children, and neighbors/church family around me. Neighbors are within a mile. Wife/kids could be 30 [miles] if I’m at work (or on way home) and they are home. Second, I’d like to get a good SW [shortwave] radio with SSB for listening. The new Baofeng I’m looking at has variable power, up to 8 watts. Not sure if one can charge batteries while in the unit like you can with the Midland.  Best Regards, Tim

Tim had some excellent points here. My very quick recommendation. A Baofeng. Why? It will do the same thing that the Midland radio will do, and significantly more. In many cases, for that matter, most cases, it costs less. The Baofeng can be charged in the cradle, it has a plethora of accessories, and you can attach an external antenna. 

One negative for the Baofeng is that it has to be programmed. There are multiple ways to do this. There are YouTube videos, you can attempt to decipher the instructions, there is a free program called Chirp, and the system that I use is called RT Systems. Chirp and RT Systems are via computer. I will include more information in future articles about the Baofeng.

While we’re here, in the article that follows, I recommended a Wouxun radio. It’s a good radio, but the Baofeng is newer and, in my opinion, just as good and costs significantly less. 

Tim’s second question. A good shortwave radio. Few shortwave radios have SSB, single side band. Why is this important? If you want to listen to the ham radio operators, you will need SSB. If you’ve got the jingle, here’s what I would do. Purchase an HF radio, which is a ham radio. You can listen to all the lower ham frequencies, plus all of the SW frequencies. It is a higher quality radio and has listening features that few SW radios have. You can also listen to CB on it, and if you ever get the desire to have your ham radio license, you can transmit on it. Remember, you can listen to any radio signal being transmitted. Transmitting is an entirely different ballgame. 

So, Tim, I would recommend a Baofeng UV-5R+, about $30.00 on Amazon. An RT System for programming, about $45.00. The money you will save on the Baofengs will pay for the programming system. 

For SW, an IC-718 made by ICOM. This radio runs new about $650, used $300 and up. Remember, it will do AM radio, CB, SW, all the lower ham bands which are 160-10M. For this radio you will need a power supply and an antenna which are both an extra expense. When you get your ham radio license, then you can use this radio to transmit on. The legal frequencies, anyway. Getting a ham radio license is very easy.

Ok, Tim, and everybody else. Next is an older, dated article that I think you will enjoy. It’s a start. Every few days I’m going to include an older article about radio in an order that will help folks get started. There have been some changes and I will point these out. Safety has not changed and will never change.

If you have a question, ask. Others have the same questions. Utilize YouTube. Check out ARRL. Check out QRZ.com

We’ll talk a whole lot more about this later. This is not difficult, it’s just new. And there are some new radios out there, too. There’s some new guns out there, too. Some are better, some are not. If you have a question, ask.

By the way, in this following article, there is a new weather radio I would recommend. I’ll get to it later. Enjoy.

We’ll talk more later.  Frank Feral 

Radio Communications Review

Originally published August 12, 2013

I’m going to try to summarize what we have talked about in the last ten posts. The reason being, my next radio post is going to start into ham or amateur radio. So, let’s go back and talk about all of the stuff I have covered so far. We have talked about the rules and regulations, and I will give you my recommendations on certain radios. Okay, let’s go.

CB radio is probably the most popular radio around and more people have them than any other type. There are basically two types of CB radios – non-single side band radios and single side band (SSB) radios. Remember, CB radio is line-of-site

communications, most of the time. CB radio operates at about 27 MHz. It will also bounce off of the ionosphere similar to HF ham radios. In some circles the CB radio is called an 11 meter radio. Any CB radio will skip off of the atmosphere if the conditions are right, but an SSB (single side band) will do a better job of it and give you greater distance. So if you want to talk to your cousin Leroy two blocks down the road, and there is not a hill in the way, any CB radio will do the job. If you want to play and listen to other folks much farther away, then SSB is the preferred method. I recommend the Galaxy line of CB radios with SSB. There are other manufacturers that make a quality radio, I just think the Galaxy is more dependable and is prettier. No one likes looking at an ugly radio.

We’ll talk about antennas, power supplies and coax cable later in this post. Next, let’s talk about GMRS/FRS radios. These radios are also very popular. The vast,

vast majority of them are handheld radios. People use them a great deal for hunting, keeping track of the kids and just play-type radios. These are also line-of-site communication. These will not bounce off of the ionosphere so you are not going to be hearing frequencies from around the world. These radios function at about 465 MHz. Because of the higher frequency they will work better from inside a building than your lower frequency radios. The big difference between these radios, in my opinion, are the batteries or power systems inside the radios. 

While we are writing this, there is a major electrical storm in our area. All of my antennas have been disconnected and our computers are unplugged. If I were a little bit smarter, I would also unplug my power supply.

In a previous post, we talked about the difference between GMRS and FRS, they are basically the same radio. These are excellent, high quality radios with a good clear signal for line-of-site communications. Do not believe the advertisements for 10, 20, 30 miles – this is a sales gimmick. Not all of us live on a flat planet, if we 

did, then the advertisements would be correct. Remember, line-of-site. All GMRS radios will communicate with other GMRS radios regardless of the manufacturer. All the channels are the same frequencies. I recommend the Midland GXT1000VP4 or GXT1050VP4. They are the same radio – one is camo and one is black. The reason for this recommendation is that you can put four AA rechargeable batteries in the radio and the batteries will recharge while in the charging cradle. Some other Midland radios look identical, but they charge slightly different and will not recharge rechargeable batteries while in the charging cradle. I have used this radio for a number of years on our little farm.

Okay. We have reviewed CB and GMRS. There is one other type of radio frequency and it is the MURS frequencies. MURS comes with five frequencies operating at about 151 MHz. It is also line-of-site communications and will work fine inside of most buildings. There is not a major manufacturer that produces a MURS handheld radio, but you can buy a commercial radio, which we will talk about in just a minute, to use on the MURS frequencies. OK, CB, GMRS and MURS are the basic frequencies for non-ham communications. All three have about the same power output. CB and MURS do not require a license, GMRS does.

A slightly different type of radio is a commercial radio. These radios are not set for any particular frequency and they will not operate on the CB frequencies. But they will operate on the GMRS, MURS and the VHF/UHF ham radio frequencies. You have to program these radios yourself. Most of them come with a programming cable and computer disc that you download. My recommendation is the Wouxun handheld commercial radio. Many dealers sell them. I would recommend Universal Radio. It is 100% legal to use these radios on the ham radio frequencies. It is not legal to use these radios on MURS or GMRS. We will discuss legalities and license requirements in just a minute.


Non-transmitting radios. This is a group of radios that you listen to only. We’re going to talk about shortwave receivers, scanners, weather radios and there are a few others, but for the most part this covers them. Let’s start with weather radios. Weather radios connect to a radio frequency provided by the National Weather

Service. Most parts of the country receive good, clear weather radio signals. Very few places don’t. I would highly recommend a weather radio with S.A.M.E.  This feature will narrow down severe weather signals to the county level. If you live in an area that has the potential for tornadoes, I would highly recommend one of these for your home. My recommendation is a Midland WR300. It can be powered from a wall outlet, any 12 volt source and has a built in battery back up for when the power goes off, you can still receive signals. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is a little difficult to program. You can connect an external antenna and a flashing red beacon for those that are hearing impaired.

Scanners are another type of listen only radio. There are handheld, mobile and base scanners. The big question right now is whether it is digital or analog. Some communities are going to a digital signal similar to what TV did nationwide a few

years back. This is not a national movement. This is a local decision as to whether to go digital or stay analog. Many communities are not going digital. You will need to check with your local emergency management office. Some scanners are S.A.M.E. capable for weather alerts. New scanners will not receive telephone communications. Some will not receive the CB frequencies, but all will receive police, weather, fire, GMRS, MURS and the VHF/UHF ham frequencies. Some have external antenna capabilities. In some states it is illegal to have a scanner in your vehicle. This is your responsibility to find out the laws in your state.

I’m not going to talk much about marine band radios. Marine band is a two way radio. If you have a boat, or you live near the coast of the ocean or any large lake, or any navigable river then you can listen to marine band signals which includes
the Coast Guard. There are commercial frequencies on the marine bands. There are about 88 channels on each marine band radio. They operate at approximately 157 MHz. The commercial radio I mentioned earlier will also broadcast on these frequencies. Your scanner will also receive marine band frequencies. A little side note – your scanner will also receive railroad frequencies. If you choose to purchase a marine band radio and you choose to transmit on a marine band radio, then know which frequencies the government is using and do not use those frequencies.

Shortwave receivers receive the lower frequencies. 30 MHz down to about 1.8 MHz. These are receive radios only. Shortwave and ham band frequencies are intertwined everywhere between 30 and 1.8 MHz. Most shortwave broadcast signals are AM (amplitude modulation) radio, as is your CB radio, which falls in these frequencies. All ham radio frequencies are AM/SSB. So if you want to listen to the ham frequencies, you will need a radio that receives SSB. Most shortwave radios (SW) do not receive SSB. Some SW radios are capable of external antennas. If you are considering going into ham radio this would be the place to go ahead and buy an HF ham radio transceiver, which will transmit and receive on the SSB ham frequencies and also receive all of the AM shortwave

transmissions. Shortwave radios can be as inexpensive as $50 – $80 up to $10,000 and up. A beginner’s HF ham radio that will transmit and receive starts at around $700 and goes up. You do not have to have a license to listen to any frequency on any radio. But to transmit on the ham frequencies, you will need a ham radio license. We are going to discuss ham radio in much greater detail starting with the next radio post.

Ok. So much for radios. Power supplies. If you have a handheld radio, it will probably be powered by batteries. Some come with a built-in rechargeable battery. Some operate off of AA or AAA batteries that you can replace with

rechargeable batteries. If they will operate off of rechargeable batteries, I would recommend you go this route. All mobile radios, because of the nature of being mobile, will operate off of 12 VDC, which is actually 13.8 VDC. If you choose to use a mobile radio as a base radio, then you will need a separate power supply. Most receive radios use very, very little power. Just about any power supply will work. If you use a mobile CB as a base station then you will need a power supply that puts out 3 or 4 amps. If you’re going to operate a ham radio or more equipment off of your power supply then I would recommend that you go ahead and pick up a 30 amp power supply. This will provide you with enough power to operate your radios, receivers, battery chargers, charge your cell phones and other similar items. 

Antennas. Some radios will need an external antenna. If you are operating

in a vehicle, the only radio we have discussed that will need an external antenna, is a CB radio. Most people use a magnet mount antenna. If you decide to go into ham radio, then your antennas will become more varied because different frequencies need different antennas. There is no one antenna fits-all frequencies. For your CB base station at home, you will also need an external antenna. Go to the post where we talked about CB base station antennas. Your handheld radios, like GMRS and MURS, will operate for the most part off of their attached antennas. If you choose to attach an external antenna to your scanner or weather radio, I would recommend a basic discone antenna. It is built to receive these VHF frequencies. If you choose to connect an external antenna to your shortwave receiver, then I would recommend a long wire type antenna for this purpose. In the previous post about shortwave receivers, there is information about antennas. There may come a day when you need some coaxial cable. This is what connects your antenna to your radio. You will also need a plug on each end of this cable and in most cases, it will be a PL-259, or a BNC type connector. For overall general purpose use, I would recommend RG-8X cable. It is a good all purpose cable for low power, short distance runs of under 25 feet. It also works well for your receive only radios.

Licensing. There is no license required for any receive radio. If you choose to become a ham radio operator, you will need a license. More on that in the next radio post. CB and MURS do not require a license. GMRS does. As I stated in a previous post, I have never met a person with a GMRS license. Which brings us to legal regulations. If you operate any transmit radio that interferes with any other type of telecommunications signal, then you are required by law to either fix your problem or cease transmitting. This is seldom, seldom a problem with legal power transmitters. If you choose for example to increase your CB power from 4 watts to, let’s say, 400 watts of power, and you cause the lady next door’s TV signal to be distorted, then you are running illegal power. If your 400 watt CB radio does not bother anybody or anything, then your radio is still illegal, but for the most part,

no one will care. If you decide to buy a commercial radio, which you can, and you choose to operate it on a frequency, for example the one the local airport is using, then you will find out very quickly that being stupid does not pay. If you choose to use an unauthorized frequency that interferes with the local fire department, again you will find out that some people might not think this is cute. If you run 5000 watts of power, as an example, and you want to talk to your buddy down the road and you don’t bother grandma’s TV signal and you don’t interfere with the local airport or fire department, then probably no one will care. If you choose to operate or modify your radio, and it is now considered illegal, this is your choice. Something I said earlier, if you are driving 36 in a 35 MPH zone, probably no one will notice or care. But….if you choose to drive 96 in a 35 MPH zone, then someone will notice and care. Again, this is your choice.

Speaking of 5000 watts. 5000 watts may be a tad bit of an exaggeration. But if you choose to pump up whatever radio you are using and you do not know what you are doing, you can fry your brain. No joke. No kidding. If you don’t know what you are doing with radio frequency, then DON’T DO IT. Lot’s of ham radio guys and non-ham radio guys run what is called, extra power. It’s not a question of legal or illegal, it’s a question of, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can cause permanent damage to your cute little girl’s brain. So, one more time, if you don’t know what you are doing, DON’T DO IT. Safety comes first. Always.

Next time, we’re going to get into ham radio. You will find the frequencies very similar to GMRS, FRS, CB and MURS because ham radio is not some miracle, mysterious thing. It’s just a group of frequencies or bands or meters that we all share every day. I hope this has helped somebody, somewhere along the way to understand radio communications just a little bit better. Look through the previous radio posts. They are filled with links, dealers, manufacturers, and regulations. 

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

OPSEC Communications

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

It’s the weekend and we had a great rain last night. Now the freshly tilled garden would be just the place for making mud angels. For you Yankee types, some of you would still be calling these snow angels, but here in the south we actually call it mud wrestling.  See, we have a problem here with communication. Some of you think snow tires and some of us think mud tires.

This previously driven article is about communications. It’s titled OPSEC which means operational security. This article is five years old, but the information is still the same today. We NEED to be able to communicate with our neighbors. No, it’s not the kind of communication that you say you can’t have with your teenage kids, you know, ‘we just can’t communicate’. The type of communications mentioned here is the life and death type, where you NEED to be able to talk to the person down the road.

The first picture down below is of Nunam Iqua, Alaska. Fern and I used to live there, it is located at the mouth of the Yukon River on the Bering Sea. For you curious types, the zip code is 99666. Google maps will take you right there. 

The article is about radios. This is not so much about ham radio, actually, it’s not about ham radio at all. It’s about the across-the-counter type of radios. But, ham radio is a good idea, it vastly expands your options. If you are of the level that you find reading Frank and Fern enjoyable, then you should have no difficulty with the first two levels of amateur radio testing for licensing. Ham radio can be very, very expensive, or it can be quite inexpensive. It’s kind of like flying a remote controlled airplane, now days commonly called drones. I didn’t realize some of those drones are as big as a jet, a big jet. But I’m drifting here. 

Something to remember. Anything that is said on a radio can be heard by someone else. I used to teach my teachers, if you don’t want someone to read something, then don’t write it. Same applies to radio. Anything you say can be heard by that drone flying in the air. Think about it.

Hope you enjoy the article. Have a great day. And get ready. It’s very near.

We’ll talk more later, Frank
 

Originally published January 4, 2014

Nunam Iqua, Alaska

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

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

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

110/12VDC charger

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

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

So, I decided to buy more radios. That’s when I started using the Midland GXT1000 and 1050. They are the same radio, one is black the other is camo. I got lucky when I bought this little radio, because it did something I didn’t know it 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Ham Radio & Survival Communications, Volume 2

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Radio – Are You Listening? A Re-Post

Hello, Frank here.

Many people do not have an interest in getting a ham radio license. Most people want to listen, and by listen, I mean shortwave radio from around our country and around the globe. There is another group of folks that like to listen to a police scanner describing activities that are happening in their immediate area. Remember, it is legal to listen to any radio transmission, and be aware that different states have different laws regarding a scanner in a vehicle. So, for those of you that want to listen, and not transmit, this re-post is a good review. If you need more detailed information, look in Frank’s Radio Communications on the right hand side of the blog. 

It’s been a while since Fern and I have re-posted an article. I was reading through old posts a few days back and this particular post caught my eye. There is also a small rant toward the bottom of this article which was published late December of 2013. Please read it and try to convince yourself that things are actually getting better. And if you can, please share with us how. I hope you enjoy the re-post. And remember, don’t get on the bus.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Originally posted December 28, 2013
 
Hello, Frank here.

Whether you’re a listener or a talker, radio has something for you. If you read this site for entertainment, that’s good. If you read it to increase your knowledge base a little, that’s even better. If you read this site because you know and can see what is coming, then that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

We’re going to talk about listening, be it AM/FM commercial radio, shortwave, scanner, ham radio these are all good areas to listen. You’ll

basically need two radios. First, being a scanner. Now some areas signals that you would normally scan are going digital, which means a normal analog scanner will not pick up those signals. But, many, many areas are not going digital. What I am talking about here are police, fire and ambulance, because it just plain and simple costs too much. Along with the increased costs, many municipalities are finding they have increased their

inability to communicate effectively. So, before you buy a digital scanner, which right now, they are somewhat pricey, check and see what your local guys use. You can buy a good, functional analog scanner for around $100 new. A good, functional digital scanner costs around $400 and up, new. Why a scanner? Your newer scanners can pick up CB radio, VHF/UHF ham frequencies, GMRS, FRS, MURS, aircraft traffic, police, fire, rescue, school buses, railroads, Coast Guard, utility vehicles and the list goes on. A handy tool! 

The next radio will be some form of shortwave listening radio, SWL. You can buy a fair SW for around $100 and the price goes up. My recommendation is contact your local ARRL and tell them that you’re

looking for a used HF radio. HF means high frequency. Unlike scanner traffic, SW may be coming from 10 miles to 10,000 miles away. You need a piece of equipment that is a little more sensitive. Even if you can pick up an HF radio from a ham operator that does not transmit, for whatever reason, but it still receives, then you are getting a finer piece of equipment than you will with most shortwave radios. The frequency bands are the same for HF ham and SW listening. And the bonus in this case will be that you can also pick up the ham side bands. Remember, this post is for listening purposes only. 

If you want to improve your reception dramatically, then you will need an outside antenna. For your scanner, a simple discone type antenna will work great. For your shortwave radio, the longer the wire, the better. I will include resources and diagrams. 

Shortwave connectors: This is a part of a dipole antenna. Take the center piece, the coax from here connects to your radio. This center piece needs to be as high as you can get it. Go to any hardware store and buy 12/2 or 14/2 insulated electrical wire. This is standard house wiring. You do not need flexible. Cut the wire to the maximum length that you can have it going outward, the ends connecting to the little insulators need to connect to poles also. The higher the better. In the ham world you need to

be fairly precise with the length for transmitting. It’s also important for receiving, but not critical. Have the ends as high as you can get them also. Avoid going over metal structures, but if you don’t have a choice, go ahead and do it. Connect rope to the end of the insulator, but do not pull it rigid tight.

These next two items apply to your coax connection. One is an exterior tape, the other one is an inside goo type stuff. This will help keep moisture out of your connector. If you need help, contact the folks at ARRL.
Mounted on a single pole, this will give you a more than adequate ability to listen. You will need coax cable running from each antenna to your radios. You will also need a very simple power supply, because it takes very little energy to listen. This would be an excellent place for a small solar panel with a charge controller and a battery. You can put both antennas on the same antenna pole and you can listen to almost any signal being broadcast, be it local or long distance.

A good AM/FM radio will come in handy also. Most SW radios will receive AM radio, but something I have learned along the way, no matter how good your radio or your antenna, if there is not a signal there, you are not going to receive it. At my house, I cannot pick up local AM commercial radio and that means no Rush Limbaugh. I am broken hearted. Okay. Back to reality.

Why do you want to receive radio? News, weather, sports, military movement, dams breaking, local disasters, check point locations, icy roads, where the bus is parked gathering people, what is happening two states over. With this listening radio set up, with a little bit of practice and a little bit of knowledge, you will be able to know what is happening on the

east coast or west coast, and that’s from people on the scene. You will also know what’s happening locally. You can hear CB traffic, and you say, “Why would I want to listen to that foul mouth type talk?” Because we’re talking about an emergency crisis situation. Those ole’ boys running mega watts of power from who knows where will no longer be on the air. And if they are, you might want to know what’s happening five states over, from a simple CB radio. Whatever they’re talking about might be heading in your direction.

You might say here, “Why doesn’t this guy just stick with radio facts and information?” Because there are hundreds of internet sites that will teach you how to get your ham license. This site is to help you get prepared for what is unquestionably coming. If you can’t see it, I am sorry. But there have been way, way too many things happen in the last few years that solidly indicates that significant changes are not just on the horizon, but they are happening as you read this.


A side note here. Yes, I have a ham radio license. I do not contest, and many days I don’t turn my radio on. My wife and I communicate 
around our farm with handheld radios that anybody can buy. Being ham radio operators, we also have radios in our cars. So can you. Our house is also set up with ham radio equipment. And if you could care less about ham radio, you can still listen.

Example. A couple of nights ago, I was listening to my CB radio, and yes, I have a nice CB antenna and a nice CB radio. I was not on SSB, this was regular CB AM channel 28. I listened to a guy in Portland, Oregon from southeast Oklahoma, just as clear as a bell. If you want to be able to communicate with your neighbors, CB radio is the way to   

go. Or, you can use GMRS/FRS. GMRS according to the FCC requires a license. I have never met a person to this day who has one. You don’t know what GMRS is? It’s those little two way walkie talkies that hunters use and children play with. I can’t stress enough the importance of having communications. Whether you want to listen only, which is what most people do. Or you want to go the talking route with CB and GMRS. Or you want to get your ham radio license. You are going to want to be able to communicate when this thing comes upon us.

Okay, what is this thing I am talking about? Religion, church is under attack. Schools, public education has been under attack for years. Now, all of our medical records are going to be under attack, and this little issue is going to extend out in ways we have not even thought of yet. Our military is under attack from the inside out. Agriculture and the agricultural industry

has been under attack for years, imagine GMO foods. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to pull your head out of the sand. Look at privacy and security. There are no private phone calls or email messages for that fact. Look at political correctness, what we say and can’t say. Look at the 2nd Amendment. Did you know that there will be no more lead bullets

manufactured in this country? Do you know what NSA is? Do you know what NDAA is? Have you taken your little girl to an airport lately and let some guy feel her chest and put his hand in her crotch? And we stand there as parents and let this happen? And then that same guy does the same thing to your wife? Feels her chest and gropes her crotch? We call this freedom? Do you know what TSA means? These folks are now setting up check points at ballgames, shopping malls and interstate highways. Are you aware that police do not need search warrants anymore? Have you looked at some of the vehicles our local police departments have been given by Homeland Security?

Wake-y! Wake-y! people. Look at our banking system. Try going into a bank and withdrawing a large amount of your money. You will be questioned as to why you want it or need it. If it’s above a certain

amount, you’ll have to fill out a form. Did you know that you cannot pay for a new automobile with cash? When you go to buy a house, you have to provide a financial statement of where your money is coming from. Wall Street. The Federal Reserve Bank is propping up our currency and Wall Street to the tune of approximately $86 BILLION dollars per month. Yes, that’s BILLION with a big ‘B’. PER MONTH. Unemployment is out of control,

but we are told by the government controlled news media that everything is getting better. Example here. A man that used to work 50 hours per week at $20.00 per hour and is now working 30 hours per week at $8.00 per hour is considered gainfully employed. Suicide is now one of the largest killers in this country. Think about that. Pharmaceuticals. A huge percentage of people are taking prescription, mind altering, legal drugs every day. And this is only a partial list with no detail.

Now wasn’t that pleasant? If you can’t see what is coming, or if you choose not to see, then I pray that someday you wake up real soon, because all of the above mentioned topics are occurring while you read this. If you want communications and you have the desire and

financial means, you can still go to the store or go online and buy these items. But one day, you’re not going to be able to. It appears to me, and this is just a personal observation, that there are lots and lots of people that do not want to deal with reality. I really don’t know what’s going to happen to all of these people, but I don’t think it’s going to be pleasant. Folks, all I deal with here is communications. I don’t talk about food storage, beans and bullets, gold or silver, just communications. It’s time to get it done. Go back and read the other posts, there is lots of non-technical information provided. I hope this helps.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Radio Communications Review, Part 1 – A Re-Post

Hello, Frank here.

If you are a regular reader, then you know a week or so back we introduced a re-post of an article that was a year or so old. This effort was very well accepted and we genuinely thank you. 

As most of you are aware, when, not if, our society shuts down, or collapses, then it will be too late to start making general preparations. I believe communication is one of the areas grossly overlooked by those that are trying to prepare. Whether you want to transmit on a radio, listen to local events or world events, then there are certain types of equipment that you will need. Most of these items can be dual or triple purpose, and will not break the bank unless you choose to do so. 

The following article is a re-post about basic radio communications. You can find many other articles listed under Frank’s Radio Communications. If this is of interest to you, then please read some of these articles. They are written in easy to understand language with the beginner in mind. Thank you for your considerations, and I hope you enjoy the following re-post. If you have a comment, please share it, because this is one way for all of us to learn. That little radio in your hand may some day save your life. Thank you again.

Originally published August 12, 2013

Hello, Frank here.

I’m going to try to summarize what we have talked about in the last ten posts. The reason being, my next radio post is going to start into ham or amateur radio. So, let’s go back and talk about all of the stuff I have covered so far. We have talked about the rules and regulations, and I will give you my recommendations on certain radios. Okay, let’s go.

CB radio is probably the most popular radio around and more people have them than any other type. There are basically two types of CB radios – non-single side band radios and single side band (SSB) radios.

Remember, CB radio is line-of-site communications, most of the time. CB radio operates at about 27 MHz. It will also bounce off of the ionosphere similar to HF ham radios. In some circles the CB radio is called an 11 meter radio. Any CB radio will skip off of the atmosphere if the conditions are right, but an SSB (single side band) will do a better job of it and give you greater distance. So if you want to talk to your cousin Leroy two blocks down the road, and there is not a hill in the way, any CB radio will do the job. If you want to play and listen to other folks much farther away, then SSB is the preferred method. I recommend the Galaxy line of CB radios with SSB. There are other manufacturers that make a quality radio, I just think the Galaxy is more dependable and is prettier. No one likes looking at an ugly radio.

We’ll talk about antennas, power supplies and coax cable later in this post. Next, let’s talk about GMRS/FRS radios. These radios are also very

popular. The vast, vast majority of them are handheld radios. People use them a great deal for hunting, keeping track of the kids and just play-type radios. These are also line-of-site communication. These will not bounce off of the ionosphere so you are not going to be hearing frequencies from around the world. These radios function at about 465 MHz. Because of the higher frequency they will work better from inside a building than your lower frequency radios. The big difference between these radios, in my opinion, are the batteries or power systems inside the radios. 

While we are writing this, there is a major electrical storm in our area. All of my antennas have been disconnected and our computers are unplugged. If I were a little bit smarter, I would also unplug my power supply.

In a previous post, we talked about the difference between GMRS and FRS, they are basically the same radio. These are excellent, high quality radios with a good clear signal for line-of-site communications. Do not believe the advertisements for 10, 20, 30 miles – this is a sales gimmick. Not all of us live on a flat planet, if we did, then the advertisements

would be correct. Remember, line-of-site. All GMRS radios will communicate with other GMRS radios regardless of the manufacturer. All the channels are the same frequencies. I recommend the Midland GXT1000VP4 or GXT1050VP4. They are the same radio – one is camo and one is black. The reason for this recommendation is that you can put four AA rechargeable batteries in the radio and the batteries will recharge while in the charging cradle. Some other Midland radios look identical, but they charge slightly different and will not recharge rechargeable batteries while in the charging cradle. I have used this radio for a number of years on our little farm.

Okay. We have reviewed CB and GMRS. There is one other type of radio frequency and it is the MURS frequencies. MURS comes with five frequencies operating at about 151 MHz. It is also line-of-site communications and will work fine inside of most buildings. There is not a major manufacturer that produces a MURS handheld radio, but you can buy a commercial radio, which we will talk about in just a minute, to use on the MURS frequencies. OK, CB, GMRS and MURS are the basic frequencies for non-ham communications. All three have about the same power output. CB and MURS do not require a license, GMRS does. 

A slightly different type of radio is a commercial radio. These radios are not set for any particular frequency and they will not operate on the CB

frequencies. But they will operate on the GMRS, MURS and the VHF/UHF ham radio frequencies. You have to program these radios yourself. Most of them come with a programming cable and computer disc that you download. My recommendation is the Wouxun handheld commercial radio. Many dealers sell them. I would recommend Universal Radio. It is 100% legal to use these radios on the ham radio frequencies. It is not legal to use these radios on MURS or GMRS. We will discuss legalities and license requirements in just a minute.

Non-transmitting radios. This is a group of radios that you listen to only. We’re going to talk about shortwave receivers, scanners, weather radios and there are a few others, but for the most part this covers them. Let’s start with weather radios. Weather radios connect to a radio frequency

provided by the National Weather Service. Most parts of the country receive good, clear weather radio signals. Very few places don’t. I would highly recommend a weather radio with S.A.M.E.  This feature will narrow down severe weather signals to the county level. If you live in an area that has the potential for tornadoes, I would highly recommend one of these for your home. My recommendation is a Midland WR300. It can be powered from a wall outlet, any 12 volt source and has a built in battery back up for when the power goes off, you can still receive signals. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is a little difficult to program. You can connect an external antenna and a flashing red beacon for those that are hearing impaired.

Scanners are another type of listen only radio. There are handheld, mobile and base scanners. The big question right now is whether it is digital or analog. Some communities are going to a digital signal similar to what

TV did nationwide a few years back. This is not a national movement. This is a local decision as to whether to go digital or stay analog. Many communities are not going digital. You will need to check with your local emergency management office. Some scanners are S.A.M.E. capable for weather alerts. New scanners will not receive telephone communications. Some will not receive the CB frequencies, but all will receive police, weather, fire, GMRS, MURS and the VHF/UHF ham frequencies. Some have external antenna capabilities. In some states it is illegal to have a scanner in your vehicle. This is your responsibility to find out the laws in your state.

I’m not going to talk much about marine band radios. Marine band is a two way radio. If you have a boat, or you live near the coast of the ocean or any large lake, or any navigable river then you can listen to marine band signals which includes the Coast Guard.

There are commercial frequencies on the marine bands. There are about 88 channels on each marine band radio. They operate at approximately 157 MHz. The commercial radio I mentioned earlier will also broadcast on these frequencies. Your scanner will also receive marine band frequencies. A little side note – your scanner will also receive railroad frequencies. If you choose to purchase a marine band radio and you choose to transmit on a marine band radio, then know which frequencies the government is using and do not use those frequencies.

Shortwave receivers receive the lower frequencies. 30 MHz down to about 1.8 MHz. These are receive radios only. Shortwave and ham band frequencies are intertwined everywhere between 30 and 1.8 MHz. Most shortwave broadcast signals are AM (amplitude modulation) radio, as is your CB radio, which falls in these frequencies. All ham radio frequencies are AM/SSB. So if you want to listen to the ham frequencies, you will need a radio that receives SSB. Most shortwave radios (SW) do not receive SSB. Some SW radios are capable of external antennas. If you are considering going into ham radio this would be the place to go ahead and buy an HF ham radio transceiver, which will transmit and receive on the SSB ham frequencies and also receive all of the AM shortwave transmissions. Shortwave radios can be as

inexpensive as $50 – $80 up to $10,000 and up. A beginner’s HF ham radio that will transmit and receive starts at around $700 and goes up. You do not have to have a license to listen to any frequency on any radio. But to transmit on the ham frequencies, you will need a ham radio license. We are going to discuss ham radio in much greater detail starting with the next radio post.

Ok. So much for radios. Power supplies. If you have a handheld radio, it will probably be powered by batteries. Some come with a built-in rechargeable battery. Some operate off of AA or AAA batteries that you

can replace with rechargeable batteries. If they will operate off of rechargeable batteries, I would recommend you go this route. All mobile radios, because of the nature of being mobile, will operate off of 12 VDC, which is actually 13.8 VDC. If you choose to use a mobile radio as a base radio, then you will need a separate power supply. Most receive radios use very, very little power. Just about any power supply will work. If you use a mobile CB as a base station then you will need a power supply that puts out 3 or 4 amps. If you’re going to operate a ham radio or more equipment off of your power supply then I would recommend that you go ahead and pick up a 30 amp power supply. This will provide you with enough power to operate your radios, receivers, battery chargers, charge your cell phones and other similar items. 

Antennas. Some radios will need an external antenna. If you are

operating in a vehicle, the only radio we have discussed that will need an external antenna, is a CB radio. Most people use a magnet mount antenna. If you decide to go into ham radio, then your antennas will become more varied because different frequencies need different antennas. There is no one antenna fits-all frequencies. For your CB base station at home, you will also need an external antenna. Go to the post where we talked about CB base station antennas. Your handheld radios, like GMRS and MURS, will operate for the most part off of their attached antennas. If you choose to attach an external antenna to your scanner or weather radio, I would recommend a basic discone antenna. It is built to receive these VHF frequencies. If you choose to connect an external antenna to your shortwave receiver, then I would recommend a long wire type antenna for this purpose. In the previous post about shortwave receivers, there is information about antennas. There
may come a day when you need some coaxial cable. This is what  

connects your antenna to your radio. You will also need a plug on each end of this cable and in most cases, it will be a PL-259, or a BNC type connector. For overall general purpose use, I would recommend RG-8X cable. It is a good all purpose cable for low power, short distance runs of under 25 feet. It also works well for your receive only radios.

Licensing. There is no license required for any receive radio. If you choose to become a ham radio operator, you will need a license. More on that in the next radio post. CB and MURS do not require a license. GMRS does. As I stated in a previous post, I have never met a person with a GMRS license. Which brings us to legal regulations. If you operate any transmit radio that interferes with any other type of telecommunications signal, then you are required by law to either fix your problem or cease transmitting. This is seldom, seldom a problem with legal power transmitters. If you choose for example to increase your CB power from 4 watts to, let’s say, 400 watts of power, and you cause the lady next door’s TV signal to be distorted, then you are running illegal power. If your 400 watt CB radio does not bother anybody or anything, then your radio is still illegal, but for

the most part, no one will care. If you decide to buy a commercial radio, which you can, and you choose to operate it on a frequency, for example the one the local airport is using, then you will find out very quickly that being stupid does not pay. If you choose to use an unauthorized frequency that interferes with the local fire department, again you will find out that some people might not think this is cute. If you run 5000 watts of power, as an example, and you want to talk to your buddy down the road and you don’t bother grandma’s TV signal and you don’t interfere with the local airport or fire department, then probably no one will care. If you choose to operate or modify your radio, and it is now considered illegal, this is your choice. Something I said earlier, if you are driving 36 in a 35 MPH zone, probably no one will notice or care. But….if you choose to drive 96 in a 35 MPH zone, then someone will notice and care. Again, this is your choice.

Speaking of 5000 watts. 5000 watts may be a tad bit of an exaggeration. But if you choose to pump up whatever radio you are using and you do not know what you are doing, you can fry your brain. No joke. No kidding. If you don’t know what you are doing with radio frequency, then DON’T DO IT. Lot’s of ham radio guys and non-ham radio guys run what is called, extra power. It’s not a question of legal or illegal, it’s a question of, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can cause permanent damage to your cute little girl’s brain. So, one more time, if you don’t know what you are doing, DON’T DO IT. Safety comes first. Always.

Next time, we’re going to get into ham radio. You will find the frequencies very similar to GMRS, FRS, CB and MURS because ham radio is not some miracle, mysterious thing. It’s just a group of frequencies or bands or meters that we all share every day. I hope this has helped somebody, somewhere along the way to understand radio communications just a little bit better. Look through the previous radio posts. They are filled with links, dealers, manufacturers, and regulations. 

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

Radio – Wanna Be a General, Part 4

Hello, Frank here.

Hi everybody, anybody get any RF burns this week? If you did, hopefully it was on your hand and not inside your head. I’m going to start with safety and end with safety. 

Today we’re going to talk about signals and emissions and some other interesting things. Right now we’re going to look at the word emissions. You want emissions to go from your radio, out your coax and ultimately out of your antenna. If you have things set up right they will. But if you have a piece of equipment that might be getting a little old and it’s just wearing out, then you might get some emissions where you don’t want them. Same thing can go if you have your antenna system hooked up incorrectly. 

You need to have your equipment grounded. This will take these unwanted emissions that are bouncing around inside your metal radio and send them to ground, or Earth. If your piece of equipment is too hot, and it shouldn’t be, this can be caused by many things. One of the causes is RF escaping from your radio at the wrong place, at the wrong time. It’s kind of like if your car is running hot, and it’s not a summer day and you’re not pulling a trailer. So, things to think about and pay attention to. Ground your equipment and know how it works. Some pieces of equipment just operate warm all of the time, it’s their basic nature. That’s part of the reason that you need a good mentor from ARRL.

Okay, AM and FM. Most of you are familiar with AM and FM radio in your car, or home. These are the two primary ways that signals are sent through the air. But for listening purposes, in your car AM is amplitude

modulation and FM is frequency modulation. AM is older, FM is newer. Okay, let’s say you are listening to an AM radio station on your dial, and you cross an old metal type bridge. There is a chance you will lose part of your signal because the bridge is acting like a Faraday cage. If you’re on FM you probably won’t notice a difference in the signal at all. Because FM is normally a higher frequency, or newer frequency. For the most part, 30 MHz and down are AM, and in most cases, but not all, 30 MHz and up are FM, which is what you’re using right now if you’re playing around on VHF and UHF. Why the change? Newer discoveries and newer technology.

So far we’ve talked about AM and FM as bands. But AM is a type of modulation, as is FM. By the way, on a side note. Most shortwave listening, SWL, is AM. Now for both of these, AM and FM, you have a carrier frequency. Let’s say my voice is at a certain frequency. It is added to the carrier frequency. Remember what a sine wave looks like? The sine wave is the carrier frequency. Let’s take 900 KHz and my voice at 8000 hertz, you add that to the 900. But you add it and make the amplitude of the sine wave get taller on the top side and the

same on the bottom side. The frequency really doesn’t change, just the amplitude of the signal. That’s why AM radio is more affected by weather. I’ll explain more why in just a second.

Now with FM, which means frequency modulation, you still have a carrier frequency, which for radio purposes, let’s say 100 MHz. You add my 8000 hertz voice, and it’s added to the frequency. It goes through the air and the radio receiver separates the two and you hear my 8000 hertz voice again. But the reason weather, lightening and things, do not affect FM is because the top and bottom of the carrier frequencies are filtered and removed, wherein, AM is not. That’s why FM has a cleaner nicer signal and less static. That’s a whole lot for just the first two questions here, but that’s basically how AM and FM work. Very basically.

So, skimming down page 22, you see talk about upper and lower side bands. These are used almost all the time in HF transmission. Ironically, the lower HF bands, 160, 80,  and 40, use the lower side band, or LSB, and above 40, most of the time, upper side band, USB, is used. Okay.

What are side bands? If you have a regular AM signal, like you listen to on your car radio, or your SW radio, which is intermingled in between all of the ham bands, then this signal includes the carrier and upper and lower sidebands. When you are transmitting on 40 meter LSB, your radio removes the carrier frequency and the USB. This makes the bandwidth much smaller, takes less room on the bandwidth and your power can be used more efficiently. This may sound a little complicated, but if you let it soak in for a while, it will make sense. Just for knowledge purposes there is some SSB on VHF FM, but it’s not used a great deal.

Okay, let’s continue. Modulation is very important. If you’re listening to HF and some guy sounds like a duck, then either you or he are probably off frequency just a little bit, or the sender could be over-driving the frequency. This boils down to too much power going into the microphone, often referred to as microphone gain, or he could have the microphone too close to his mouth. Okay, go ahead and read these pages and don’t forget the links at the bottom of each section.

Page 24 breaks down some of the terminology of the parts inside of a radio. You will see these on the test. Go ahead and go through page 25 and we’re coming up to antennas. 

I need to give you a couple of formulas to start with. We’re going to use the ‘T’ formula. It is: 300 = frequency x meter. The next one is: 468 = length in feet x frequency in MHz. So, build you a ‘T’, put the 300 on top, and on each side of the vertical underneath the 300, put frequency on one side and meter on the other. Now this is just used for estimations, but it will come in real handy on the test. And remember, once you start the test, ask to use scratch paper and write down these two formulas and use them all through the test.

Example: Your frequency is 150 MHz. You divide that into 300 and you get 2, which would be 2 meter. Or, if you know the meter and you want to try to find the frequency, let’s say you know it’s 10 meter. Take 300 divide it by 10 and you get 30. Is this exact? No. But 10 meter is 28 and 29 MHz. So, this is just for estimation, but it will get you in the ballpark. And if you have forgotten the frequency and meter relationship, this will get you real close.

The other one. Build you a ‘T’, put 468 on top. Put length in feet on one side of the vertical bar, and right beside it, on the other side of the bar, put frequency in MHz. This is to find the length of an antenna for 1/2 wave. This is also an approximation, but it’s very close. 

Example: You want to find 1/2 wavelength for 10 meter. So, you know that the frequency is, let’s say 28.7 MHz. You take 468 divided by 28.7 and you get 16.3. So for a half wavelength antenna at 28.7 MHz, you need approximately a 16 foot antenna. Okay? Now, let’s say you want a 160 meter antenna, which is 3.9 MHz. You take 468 divided by 3.9 and you get 120 feet for a half wave signal. Now at this stage you can tell that this is not going to be a vertical antenna. This will obviously be a horizontal antenna. 

Let’s try one more for fun. Your 2 meter VHF radio, which is, let’s say 147 MHz. Take 468 divided by 147 and you get about 3.2 feet. Remember, the higher the frequency, the shorter the antenna. It’s a whole lot easier to have a mobile VHF radio, than a mobile HF radio. Want to know why your cell phone has such a small antenna? Remember, this if for half wave. You can use a quarter wave or a one eighth wave antenna. Back to your cell phone. Take 468 divided by 900 MHz equals 0.5 foot. Which is about 6 inches. So a quarter wave antenna would be about 3 inches, and a one eighth wave antenna would be about an inch and a half. 

So, obviously the higher the frequency, the easier it is for mobile communications. And, remember, almost all VHF and UHF are line of sight communications. And for all practical purposes, they’re all vertical antennas. And for all practical purposes, all HF frequencies use a horizontal antenna. There are some exceptions for 10 meter and 12 meter, and there are still some 10 meter repeaters around the country. And don’t forget 11 meter. You say, “What is 11 meter?” It is where the CB frequencies are located, which an HF radio. CB also has single side band, SSB, but they operate on LSB instead of USB. Don’t forget the humble CB, it is a great radio. And some CB antennas are also good for 10 meter and 12 meter.

Go ahead and read along about impedance matching. But you have to understand that SWR is critical. You may have a tuner for your HF radio and it may tell you that you’re tuned, but that doesn’t mean that your SWR has decreased. It means that through the miracle of electronics your

radio is matched with your antenna, but your SWR will still be high and your power will be reduced significantly. An antenna tuner may allow you to transmit safely, but if your SWR is high, your power will be sharply reduced. You hear people talk about 1:1 SWR ratio. Well, that is in a perfect world and we do not live in a perfect world. Now, for test purposes you will see 1:1, 4:1, 6:1. You will notice that the larger number is always first. But on the test, you will find that sometimes the largest number is second. You can eliminate those as wrong answers. You’re going to need SWR meters for HF and VHF/UHF radios. If you are mobile, you can check your SWR, get it set right and remove your meter. And if you want to, you can do the same thing for HF, but many leave the meter attached permanently. 

Next time. Read ahead about antennas, starting on page 28, and please read through page 32. Most people will agree that your antenna is the most important part of your radio system. Always remember safety. If you don’t know what you’re doing, check with your mentor, or more commonly called, your Elmer. I hope this helps just a little bit.



We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank


Radio – Are You Listening?

Hello, Frank here.

Whether you’re a listener or a talker, radio has something for you. If you read this site for entertainment, that’s good. If you read it to increase your knowledge base a little, that’s even better. If you read this site because you know and can see what is coming, then that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

We’re going to talk about listening, be it AM/FM commercial radio, shortwave, scanner, ham radio these are all good areas to listen. You’ll

basically need two radios. First, being a scanner. Now some areas signals that you would normally scan are going digital, which means a normal analog scanner will not pick up those signals. But, many, many areas are not going digital. What I am talking about here are police, fire and ambulance, because it just plain and simple costs too much. Along with the increased costs, many municipalities are finding they have increased their

inability to communicate effectively. So, before you buy a digital scanner, which right now, they are somewhat pricey, check and see what your local guys use. You can buy a good, functional analog scanner for around $100 new. A good, functional digital scanner costs around $400 and up, new. Why a scanner? Your newer scanners can pick up CB radio, VHF/UHF ham frequencies, GMRS, FRS, MURS, aircraft traffic, police, fire, rescue, school buses, railroads, Coast Guard, utility vehicles and the list goes on. A handy tool! 

The next radio will be some form of shortwave listening radio, SWL. You can buy a fair SW for around $100 and the price goes up. My recommendation is contact your local ARRL and tell them that you’re

looking for a used HF radio. HF means high frequency. Unlike scanner traffic, SW may be coming from 10 miles to 10,000 miles away. You need a piece of equipment that is a little more sensitive. Even if you can pick up an HF radio from a ham operator that does not transmit, for whatever reason, but it still receives, then you are getting a finer piece of equipment than you will with most shortwave radios. The frequency bands are the same for HF ham and SW listening. And the bonus in this case will be that you can also pick up the ham side bands. Remember, this post is for listening purposes only. 

If you want to improve your reception dramatically, then you will need an outside antenna. For your scanner, a simple discone type antenna will work great. For your shortwave radio, the longer the wire, the better. I will include resources and diagrams. 

Shortwave connectors: This is a part of a dipole antenna. Take the center piece, the coax from here connects to your radio. This center piece needs to be as high as you can get it. Go to any hardware store and buy 12/2 or 14/2 insulated electrical wire. This is standard house wiring. You do not need flexible. Cut the wire to the maximum length that you can have it going outward, the ends connecting to the little insulators need to connect to poles also. The higher the better. In the ham world you need to

be fairly precise with the length for transmitting. It’s also important for receiving, but not critical. Have the ends as high as you can get them also. Avoid going over metal structures, but if you don’t have a choice, go ahead and do it. Connect rope to the end of the insulator, but do not pull it rigid tight.

These next two items apply to your coax connection. One is an exterior tape, the other one is an inside goo type stuff. This will help keep moisture out of your connector. If you need help, contact the folks at ARRL.
Mounted on a single pole, this will give you a more than adequate ability to listen. You will need coax cable running from each antenna to your radios. You will also need a very simple power supply, because it takes very little energy to listen. This would be an excellent place for a small solar panel with a charge controller and a battery. You can put both antennas on the same antenna pole and you can listen to almost any signal being broadcast, be it local or long distance.

A good AM/FM radio will come in handy also. Most SW radios will receive AM radio, but something I have learned along the way, no matter how good your radio or your antenna, if there is not a signal there, you are not going to receive it. At my house, I cannot pick up local AM commercial radio and that means no Rush Limbaugh. I am broken hearted. Okay. Back to reality.

Why do you want to receive radio? News, weather, sports, military movement, dams breaking, local disasters, check point locations, icy roads, where the bus is parked gathering people, what is happening two states over. With this listening radio set up, with a little bit of practice and a little bit of knowledge, you will be able to know what is happening on the

east coast or west coast, and that’s from people on the scene. You will also know what’s happening locally. You can hear CB traffic, and you say, “Why would I want to listen to that foul mouth type talk?” Because we’re talking about an emergency crisis situation. Those ole’ boys running mega watts of power from who knows where will no longer be on the air. And if they are, you might want to know what’s happening five states over, from a simple CB radio. Whatever they’re talking about might be heading in your direction.

You might say here, “Why doesn’t this guy just stick with radio facts and information?” Because there are hundreds of internet sites that will teach you how to get your ham license. This site is to help you get prepared for what is unquestionably coming. If you can’t see it, I am sorry. But there have been way, way too many things happen in the last few years that solidly indicates that significant changes are not just on the horizon, but they are happening as you read this.


A side note here. Yes, I have a ham radio license. I do not contest, and many days I don’t turn my radio on. My wife and I communicate 
around our farm with handheld radios that anybody can buy. Being ham radio operators, we also have radios in our cars. So can you. Our house is also set up with ham radio equipment. And if you could care less about ham radio, you can still listen.

Example. A couple of nights ago, I was listening to my CB radio, and yes, I have a nice CB antenna and a nice CB radio. I was not on SSB, this was regular CB AM channel 28. I listened to a guy in Portland, Oregon from southeast Oklahoma, just as clear as a bell. If you want to be able to communicate with your neighbors, CB radio is the way to   

go. Or, you can use GMRS/FRS. GMRS according to the FCC requires a license. I have never met a person to this day who has one. You don’t know what GMRS is? It’s those little two way walkie talkies that hunters use and children play with. I can’t stress enough the importance of having communications. Whether you want to listen only, which is what most people do. Or you want to go the talking route with CB and GMRS. Or you want to get your ham radio license. You are going to want to be able to communicate when this thing comes upon us.

Okay, what is this thing I am talking about? Religion, church is under attack. Schools, public education has been under attack for years. Now, all of our medical records are going to be under attack, and this little issue is going to extend out in ways we have not even thought of yet. Our military is under attack from the inside out. Agriculture and the agricultural industry

 has been under attack for years, imagine GMO foods. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to pull your head out of the sand. Look at privacy and security. There are no private phone calls or email messages for that fact. Look at political correctness, what we say and can’t say. Look at the 2nd Amendment. Did you know that there will be no more lead bullets

manufactured in this country? Do you know what NSA is? Do you know what NDAA is? Have you taken your little girl to an airport lately and let some guy feel her chest and put his hand in her crotch? And we stand there as parents and let this happen? And then that same guy does the same thing to your wife? Feels her chest and gropes her crotch? We call this freedom? Do you know what TSA means? These folks are now setting up check points at ballgames, shopping malls and interstate highways. Are you aware that police do not need search warrants anymore? Have you looked at some of the vehicles our local police departments have been given by Homeland Security?

Wake-y! Wake-y! people. Look at our banking system. Try going into a bank and withdrawing a large amount of your money. You will be questioned as to why you want it or need it. If it’s above a certain

amount, you’ll have to fill out a form. Did you know that you cannot pay for a new automobile with cash? When you go to buy a house, you have to provide a financial statement of where your money is coming from. Wall Street. The Federal Reserve Bank is propping up our currency and Wall Street to the tune of approximately $86 BILLION dollars per month. Yes, that’s BILLION with a big ‘B’. PER MONTH. Unemployment is out of control,

but we are told by the government controlled news media that everything is getting better. Example here. A man that used to work 50 hours per week at $20.00 per hour and is now working 30 hours per week at $8.00 per hour is considered gainfully employed. Suicide is now one of the largest killers in this country. Think about that. Pharmaceuticals. A huge percentage of people are taking prescription, mind altering, legal drugs every day. And this is only a partial list with no detail.

Now wasn’t that pleasant? If you can’t see what is coming, or if you choose not to see, then I pray that someday you wake up real soon, because all of the above mentioned topics are occurring while you read this. If you want communications and you have the desire and

financial means, you can still go to the store or go online and buy these items. But one day, you’re not going to be able to. It appears to me, and this is just a personal observation, that there are lots and lots of people that do not want to deal with reality. I really don’t know what’s going to happen to all of these people, but I don’t think it’s going to be pleasant. Folks, all I deal with here is communications. I don’t talk about food storage, beans and bullets, gold or silver, just communications. It’s time to get it done. Go back and read the other posts, there is lots of non-technical information provided. I hope this helps.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank