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

Antenna Tower Sneak Peak

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer is healthy.

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

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

Show & Tell the Ham Way

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll talk more later, Frank

Busy Time

Hi Everyone! We haven’t forgotten you or the need for a new article, it’s just that life is really busy right now. I have attended an all day training for a new computer program for the school district I contract with, and now I am preparing to train district personnel to use this new program. This is taking quite a bit of my time.

Frank is preparing for his radio class where he will be demonstrating the use of his ICOM 718, which is an HF rig, the VHF/UHF mobile unit in the car, as well as how to hook up an HT, handy talky, with an adapter to an external antenna. It’s a little complicated to explain, but this demonstration will give his students some ideas about radio set up and operation. Maybe I can get a few pictures with no faces. Next week will be the last class and an opportunity for the students to take their licensing tests to become ham radio operators.

Anyway, life is good and busy, which isn’t a bad thing. It keeps the mind young and encourages the body to keep up. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Be vigilant. The time for preparing will soon be past and you need to be ready.

Until next time – Fern

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
 
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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 – Adventure with a New Antenna

Hello, Frank here.

Hi Everybody, hope all is well. Once upon a time, before the realization that ham radio was achievable, there were pursuits to communicate 30+ miles by radio. Okay, let me switch to real time here. When Fern and I moved to Oklahoma, we worked about 25 miles from our home. I put a CB radio in each vehicle, and one in the house. Well, I like CB radio, but being the nature of what it is, and living in hill country, CB just would not do the job.

Then I discovered another citizens band radio called MURS, which is around 151 MHz, and by the way CB is around 27 MHz. But, back to MURS. We picked up a few handheld commercial radios, which are programmable, and I put the MURS frequencies in the handhelds. Got a couple of mag mount ham radio antennas, which are built to function between 144 – 148 MHz. I thought, well 148, that’s pretty close to 151, and this little set up worked pretty good. We also use these same handhelds to communicate around the farm here.

But, getting back to the theme of tonight’s post, I decided to go big time. Now, remember, at this time I did not have a ham radio license, and the stuff I’m doing here really had nothing to do with ham radio. So, I devised a little system. I engineered a way to raise and lower an antenna pole, which I’m still using today, by the way. I still think that it was one of my more creative moments. But, on top of this raising and lowering marvel, I put a 16 foot Comet antenna. Except this antenna was not made for ham radio, it was made for 151 MHz, the commercial frequencies, and it worked great for the MURS frequencies. So now Fern and I can communicate from home to work, depending on whether or not the car was in a low spot or a high spot, it worked quite well. But, as fate would have it, our little newspaper had a little, bitty, teeny article about a ham radio class starting. And the rest is history, especially when I found out that you don’t have to learn Morse code at any level of ham radio any longer.

 So I tried this radio, I tried the Alinco mobile VHF/UHF, and it worked more than adequate. Good radio. But it’s a ham radio. What I wanted was a commercial radio, which is 100% legal on the ham frequencies. Now that I am spending more and more time on the ham frequencies, I needed a different antenna. Well, once I discovered the ham world, I put a couple of different antennas on the vehicles, and they work great. Then I decided I would take that same antenna, which is a CA 2×4 SR, CA means Comet. I connected it to a TRAM 1460 ground plane kit. 

Fern and I took the time to put it up on the pole today, and it doesn’t quite work as well as it does on the vehicles. I have two friends that

have this same type of antenna system, each one mounted in a base configuration. With two of my meters, their SWR checks okay, not

great, but okay. Well, here a few days ago I bought a new SWR power meter and mounted it permanently connected to my HF and VHF/UHF radios. It shows my SWR on the VHF to be unacceptable, not horrible, unacceptable, but still usable. And I can’t figure out what the problem is. I have three different SWR meters, these things kind of grow on you after a while, then you forget you have one and buy another one. Here’s the problem. My two portable SWR meters read high, but acceptable. My higher dollar SWR meter reads unacceptable, but still doable. Not the results that I wanted. So is my brand new higher dollar meter just a cute piece of junk? I wish I could tell you.

For you ham folks, my antenna analyzer shows high but acceptable SWR and the antenna tunes perfect at 161 MHz, you know, up by the railroad frequencies. But it shows about a 2 or a 3 from 144 – 156 MHz. I guess I need to reconsider my new high dollar meter, don’t I? But it’s up and it’s in the air, and it’s the first time I’ve done anything really strenuous since my back surgery. And at this time, I’m still walking. 

We started about 2:00 in the afternoon, I guess, and finished at about 6:00pm. Fern took a bunch of pictures. And you might ask yourself, why did it take so long? Well, I had to cut the coax, solder the connectors, doctor the burn from the soldering iron, it never fails me that I will touch that hot tip.

 

 

I had to get out my fingernail polish that I use in place of lock tight. 

I put Stuff on the new connections. Stuff, let’s see, it helps keep out moisture, that’s the main reason I use it on the connectors. And I used a new type stretchy tape to help seal the outside connectors.

Attaching ground plane

Putting Stuff on the antenna connection

But what took so long was getting the old antenna off of the pole. And it’s cold, my fingers didn’t want to work at 45 degrees with a cold northwest wind. I know that’s not cold to some of you fellas, but I’m sensitive. I had to move my cell phone booster antenna, and I also removed an 80 meter dipole that I had constructed. I really wish that they would not use metric on these antennas, but that’s another story.

We put the connectors on the ends of the coax in a bucket to keep moisture out.

Stainless steel scrubber blocking coax entry port into the house.

Attaching the new antenna to the pole.

Dusk is fast approaching as we prepare to lift the pole back up.


Wire has been run back into the house and hole blocked with a scrubber.

Finishing up by flashlight

The kitchen was a mess, but the new antenna is up.

Reconnecting all of the antennas

Fern took some pictures along the way. I hope you enjoy them, because here one of these days, if this experiment works okay, I’m going to put up a couple of new towers and try to improve my communication system. The new antenna works fine. I called a buddy down the road to see if we could still contact each other on simplex. You see, he lives closer to the highway than I do, and when the buses come to relocate us they will stop at his house first, and I want to know when the buses are coming. You should, too. Because the buses are going to come someday. Don’t get on the bus.

We’ll talk more later. 73, Frank

P.S. Tuesday, December 30th is book bomb day for James, Wesley Rawles new book, which is a guide to the selection, use, and care of tools. Here is the link for your reading pleasure. We are looking forward to his latest publication.