Author Topic: Communications:  (Read 27266 times)

Offline redtailhawk

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Communications:
« on: December 22, 2008, 06:38:13 PM »
I'm going to jump into Vonu's initial post but with a twist:

Simple works.  Period.

In the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan, each village communicates through sheperds who're carrying VHF handheld radios and each sheperd becomes a human repeater or relay throughout some of the most rugged  terrain in the world.  There is absolutely NO electricity in the mountains and the people dont really care for it because it consumes and requires parts, which no one wants to deal with.  Nothing moves in the Kunar, Konigal, and Gowerdesh Valleys without everyone knowing because these sheperds and the local villages talk to each other like we'd use a phone, in Pashtun, on the open waves.  The radios cost $110 USD and local tribal elders buy them by the hundreds to pass out to the sheperds and villagers.

With all our gadgetry and techno-wizardry, we haven't beat 'em yet, haven't jammed 'em yet, and they always know when the Army's coming, so they ambush at all the "good places" and vanish into the hills without worrying about being chased.

If there are "hams" here, lets get our long and short radios up and running.  I'm AA4VB in Yelm, WA so give me a freq and time.  All we need's a 10min net with check ins to make sure they're working and talking.

For non-hams, get your license.  Its incredibly easy and cheap, not to mention, dependable.  Dont want to learn Morse?  Fine, its not a requirement anymore and the test bank is available to all to study.

And, if you're worried about batteries, radios, especially handhelds, will charge on mini-solar panels.  I do it all the time to practice emergency communications.

Its not CB, though that system works too, otherwise truckers wouldn't use it.

Any takers?

Merry Christmas all!

redtailhawk


Offline SafetyFactor

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2008, 07:49:36 PM »
Its incredibly easy and cheap, not to mention, dependable. 

You're in Washington.  What cheap equipment suggestions can you make that will get us communicating from WY to WA? 
I've heard that repeaters are few and far between out here.

Thanks for posting this topic. I'm very interested.

SafetyFactor
Todays headlines and other distractions brought to you by the makers of the New World Order- Creators of problems and their solutions since 1913. - SafetyFactor

Offline redtailhawk

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2008, 08:01:15 AM »
Fantastic!

Hamfests, which are really gun shows for radio geeks, have a world of used equipment as do local radio clubs, usually listed as "County X Amateur Radio Club" etc.

I'll do some research and find out who the Volunteer Examiners are in WY and also the local area radio clubs.

As far as talking WY to WA, HF is really the only way to go, and WY to anywhere for that matter, but still not as expensive as you'd think.  You'll need a General License to get on to HF, but it really opens up the world.  There are hundreds of digital modes that've come about over the years, but simple analog voice or CW is as reliable as anything can be.

Local communities on VHF or UHF literally become a reliable weather-warning net, locally coordinated disaster response and alert net, information net, gossip net, etc.  They're line-of-sight (LOS) which means 10-20 miles without a repeater, but small, stick in your pocket, stay in the truck instant communications without relying on cell towers, utility companies, or internet.

I'll post what I find later today.




Offline Blakejoh

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2008, 09:02:40 AM »
Thanks redtailhawk for starting this topic.  My wife and I are hams, but haven't been active for over a decade (other than keeping licenses renewed).  I have an old Icom IC-735 that is still in storage since we moved to Idaho.  You've inspired me to try harder to get an HF antenna up in the spring.
.
He who conquers must vanquish; he who defends must merely survive.

Offline wyomiles

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2008, 09:20:17 AM »
Since you told the story of the Afgan sheperds, I have been wondering if there is some sort of small, relatively inexpensive radio that could pick up ham broadcasts , at least in a local area? I am thinking of a time when our modern communications grid is down and a small group of folks are out there in survival mode. It would be real handy to have some sort of small unit that could at least receive brodcasts about what is going on. At least these folks could get an idea where the hot spots are. I think there will be many who are mobile and a mobile ham would be great to have.
" Cultivators of the earth are tied to their country and wedded to it's liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds" --Thomas Jefferson --1785

Offline Seniortech

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2008, 10:27:29 AM »
Redtailhawk,
Welcome to the forum and thanks for the post. 

My suggestion:
I will give you a call tonight at 8:00 PM Mountain Time (0100Z) on 3987
plus/minus 5khz, wherever we can find a clear freq around there.  If 75 meters won't work I will go to 40m, say, 7180 plus/minus.  One of those freqs should work.  If you have an alternate time or freq post it; I'm adaptable here.

Any other hams on the forum please, please join us at that time and we'll have a net discussion.

Thanks again and 73's

John  AB5SW
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
A. Einstein

Offline Blakejoh

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2008, 01:19:26 PM »
Since you told the story of the Afgan sheperds, I have been wondering if there is some sort of small, relatively inexpensive radio that could pick up ham broadcasts , at least in a local area? I am thinking of a time when our modern communications grid is down and a small group of folks are out there in survival mode. It would be real handy to have some sort of small unit that could at least receive brodcasts about what is going on. At least these folks could get an idea where the hot spots are. I think there will be many who are mobile and a mobile ham would be great to have.
I haven't kept up on the equipment technology in recent years, but I know the general answer to your question is "yes".  I have a Radio Shack handheld scanner that receives the 2m and 70cm ham bands.  There are probably models that can receive additional ham bands as well.

For a little (or a lot) more money, depending on your budget, you can also pick up an HF ham rig with a general coverage receiver.  My IC-735 that I mentioned in an earlier post runs on 12 VDC and is not too large, so it can be mounted in a car/truck/etc.  I'm not sure what is available in mobile multiband HF antennas, but it wouldn't be hard to find out.

One other possibility for HF ham reception would be a small multiband shortwave radio.  I'd have to check and see what's available though.  I have one from Radio Shack but must confess I've never tried to receive ham bands on it.  My wife gave it to me as a gift many years ago, and at the time I mainly used it for receiving NIST time standard broadcasts.

I think your idea is great.  Even if a person didn't want to get involved in ham radio, it would be worthwhile to be able to listen in and receive information over the amateur airwaves.
.
He who conquers must vanquish; he who defends must merely survive.

Offline Bigduane

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2008, 02:05:10 PM »
Blakejoh: They work better if you put them up in the snow!! Antennas I mean. >:D
 Bigduane KF4ELJ  I will listen on the frequencies noted wed and thur and post a signal report. I am only a tech right now put am studying for my upgrade. I have a IC-R75 for hf. I also have a 10meter from Radio Shack.
 Bigduane
Why am I not in Wyoming Already? Because I have been lazy for years. I am coming to visit in 2010. To live forever in 2012. Look out Wyoming!!

Offline redtailhawk

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2008, 04:12:14 PM »
Seniortech, Sounds like a plan!  I'll be on 80m at 8C/7P and if no luck by 8:05min, will go to 40m.  If no luck on 40m after 5min, let's go for 20m around 14.260 (I've got to get over the mountain!)

Bigduane, get your 10m radio up and running and we'll try it in the near future.  10m may be a good choice since Techs can use it and its a good place to start learning HF.  The General exam's a piece of cake now that the Morse requirement's been lifted and the test bank is public, so you're studying the actual questions for the exam!

Blakejoh, glad you've kept your license current and this does give everyone a good option for communications should the main grids go down, locally and nationally.  It wont take much to get a dipole up and even if you dont transmit, listen in, and heat up those resistors!

wyomiles, any good shortwave receiver that will pick up AM, FM, and Upper and Lower Sidebands will receive amateur radio, as well as the world shortwave stations.  I listen to a lot of BBC World and the "pirate" radio stations on shortwave.

As far as radios, we can find radios.

For those interested but not licensed, I'm sure each of the hams here will tell you that we all got started with help from other hams, so dont be afraid to ask! 

I'm really glad to see the response to this thread!  Thanks!

73,
redtailhawk
Grant




Offline Seniortech

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2008, 05:09:58 PM »
rgr on the 20m
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
A. Einstein

Offline redtailhawk

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2008, 08:53:55 PM »
Well I'd have to say our trial run tonight was a success though the noise level was high.  We'll try it again tomorrow at 3:00pm Mountain time on 14.260 for any who'd like to join in or listen in!

For those not familiar with radio, Seniortech and I talked tonight Newcastle, Wyoming to Yelm, Washington on a short-range HF frequency and were able to break through the noise and still get across the Rockies at night when the propagation is weak and failing!

We'd love to get a regular "net" going, nationwide and local for all those in WY.

Thanks, Seniortech, and we'll do it again tomorrow!

73,
redtailhawk

Offline Paul Bonneau

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2008, 12:17:40 AM »
Actually, I'm interested in this too, but not to the extent of licensing. I'd like a portable transceiver I can throw in a box and forget until the revolution, when licenses won't matter.  :) Or maybe just use it as a receiver. Do you have any recommendations? I don't have the time or energy to dive into this to figure out what's best. Otherwise I will just go to Fry's or Radio Shack, but I don't even know what bands to look for. Even that bit of information will be helpful.
Laws turn men into slaves.

Offline redtailhawk

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2008, 07:22:12 AM »
Hi Paul,

Recieving's easy and a blast to do.  In order to get the "ham" bands, though, you'll need a higher end receiver that'll cover AM, FM, CW, and Upper and Lower Sideband (LSB USB).  This way you can receive regular or emergency shortwave programming, local radio channels, as well as the ham bands.  Some of the Grundigs and Sonys are great radios.  A couple of good sites to look are Ham Radio Outlet, QRZ, and Texas Towers as well as others.  I cant keep up with the technology, so I just stick with my ancient boat anchors!  If you're interested in the "old school" stuff, Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, and Zenith were phenomenal radios.  EMP wont touch 'em, either!  For a radio to stick in storage for a rainy day, the Grundig's are probably the easiest.

Transmitting's a different beast.  You'll need a well tuned antenna and a 12v power supply.  With receiving, pretty much any wire strung out will work, but to transmit, the antenna's got to radiate to a specific frequency range, otherwise, you'll damage the radio.  12v dry cells work also for power and can be charged from solar panels.

Getting a radio license is really pretty easy and quick...30 question, multiple choice exam from a test bank that's published to the public, and $15...the Volunteer Examiner does all the paperwork for you, as well and submits to the FCC.  It opens up a whole new realm of preparedness!

Let me know if this answered your questions. 

redtailhawk

Offline wyprairielady

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2008, 09:19:26 AM »
Thanks for some good info! :)

Offline Seniortech

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Re: Communications:
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2008, 10:33:59 AM »
Paul,
I understand your hesitance to get a license.  That has been hashed over in the forum before. 
What & where to buy?  What a problem!  you can get a copy of QST magazine at most news stands.  It's all about ham radio and lot of sources to buy stuff.  Also, go to QRZ.com a really fine ham radio site.  Most hams are anxious to give help and advice.  You can find them on the qrz site by typing in your city in the search box. Cody, WY will give you a list of all hams in Cody.  If you had a license your name and location would be there too.  I don't care as I'm already on the lists.

What you would need to have squirreled away for you know what:
1. A decent transceiver, such as a Yaesu FT450AT (google it), approx $750 new.  A good rig covering all HF ham bands plus 50 MHZ.  The automatic tuner (AT)will help tune the antenna, eliminating the need for a separate tuner (another $150).
2. Power supply, at least 30 amps continuous ($150) to plug in line voltage.  Most ham rigs are for 12VDC.
3. Antenna.  A simple home made wire dipole will do (free instructions on the net).  Simple to make with 14 ga copper wire, some insulators and connector.  Call it $25.
4. Coax cable to connect the rig to the antenna.  About $80 for a 100' piece with connectors.  Most hams have some of this lying around and they will sell it cheap or give it to you to help you get started.
5. ARRL Operating Manual.  Needed to tell you all kinds of stuff, what frequencies to use, etc.
6. Ham radio friends to offer advice and help.  FREE!

Round it off at $1000.  You can get it cheaper, get a ham to help you.  Lots of ham stuff on ebay.  What did I leave out, Redtailhawk??

This is bare bones.  Ideally you need a couple of VHF Handi-Talkies, mobile VHF rigs in your vehicles, don't forget the ATV. 

All this is just simple preparation for future needs.  Communication is as necessary as bullets and beans.  This is why we need a regular (weekly at least) FSW ham net, to exchange ideas, technical advice, whatever.  We should get it started now and keep it going.  Anyone who is a ham please join Redtailhawk and me on the air at 14.260 MHZ, 4:00 PM MST today.  If you only have a receiver just listen and post your comments on the forum.
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
A. Einstein