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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Here in the UK a contact I made on 10 watts (HF BAND) of power got me into Japan on a CB areial tuned through a matcher unit I was using. Never for a moment did I think I was going to make the contact but I did. The ham radio hobby sure takes you by suprise at times.

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Amateur-Radio Emergency Services and Disasters
    Date Posted: October 30, 2012 10:20 PM
    Author: Don Tuite

    http://electronicdesign.com/blog/sec...isasters-74616



    Quote The second morning after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast seems like a good time for Electronic Design readers to think about ham radio and emergency response issues.

    I got involved in these issues myself when my neighbor, Dave, told me about his experiences after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

    Dave’s a lawyer, so he was down at the Courthouse when the quake struck. At the time, the courthouse and the police station were co-located. The police station had (still has) a ham radio station (HF, VHF, UHF) on the premises. Those were both good things, because what there was of a public safety communications structure in Northern California came down with the quake, and for all anybody knew, so had the overpasses on 101 and I-280, the main north-south corridors. (They hadn’t, but were rumored to.)

    For the first long hours, the mayor and the police and fire chiefs had no idea what was going on. During that period, Dave, who was part of a trained and drilled ham radio emergency services organization, got on the air, into an emergency net and filled them in.

    You’re probably thinking: That was 1989. All they had was spotty Gen-1 cell coverage. Today, the mayor and the chiefs would be communicating on their iPads before the first aftershocks rippled under their feet. So here’s Important Thing #1:

    1. Even today, the infrastructure for cellular communication runs mostly on underground fiber. Fiber breaks. I know a place around here where, a few years ago, some persons not yet publicly identified, went down some manholes and cut a few fiber links. In the ensuing hours, people in hospitals, ambulance services, police and fire stations, all thought, “Gee, this is a slow night.”

    Citizens who were calling those emergency-response guys couldn’t get through by voice, so they did what? They texted.

    Texts looked like they were getting through, but they were actually just being buffered in the cell towers. Fortunately, it was a slow night. Eventually, hams did play a part in getting things straightened out, but it took most of the night and into the morning. Now, here’s Important Thing #2

    2. Ham radio has changed; many citizens’ desire to serve in emergency communications is a big part of that.

    When I got my general license in 1960, I had to take a bus and a subway to the Federal Building in downtown New York, demonstrate an ability to send and receive Morse code at 13 words/minute, draw a Hartley oscillator, and calculate some simple resonances and stuff. Today, the code requirement is gone, and most of the questions are about differences among various operating modes and regulations. Most people can sit through a cram course and pass the test the same day.

    In my experience, the reason many of them are doing that is to get involved with emergency communications. (Amusingly, some of them also go on to become CW DX-hounds for the sport of it.)

    Now here’s the most important thing.

    3. One can’t just get a license, wait for a disaster, and show up.

    You're a liability if you haven't had training. The guy behind the glass at the police station won’t give you the time of day. This is not a decision you make and sit on until the stuff hits the fan.

    You have to work at it. The best place to start is with Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. That’s because it’s more important that you and your neighbors work together to secure your home and neighborhood and collect some information about damage and injuries to communicate to the public safety people than that you show up and immediately get cluelessly underfoot.

    CERT training will also introduce you to the Incident Command System, giving you some idea of what might need to be communicated, and by whom and to whom.

    There’s a choice of potential organizations. The classic is the Amateur Radio Relay League’s (ARRL’s) ARES and RACES organizations. They’re explained here:

    But that’s not the only option, and you may find that, in your area, other groups are better organized, or have better leadership, or for whatever reason are more compatible with you. I’m a member of the local ARES group, which has excellent organization and a wide range of practice activities. (For example, you have no idea how challenging it can be to participate in a networking operation until you have been involved in keeping up with all the groups participating in a city Fourth of July parade. Or with a day-long bicycling event for hundreds of participants over a hundred-mile course with sag-wagons, aid stops, lost bikers, and terrain that challenges the use of repeaters.)

    Alternatively, in some areas, the Red Cross may be the most interesting group. When one of our communities had a major gas main explode, killing eight people and leveling 35 homes, there was a massive evacuation, and the job of the Red Cross was to manage the task of finding food and shelter for all those people. It was a massive logistics effort that the trained Red Cross hams executed brilliantly.

    Locally, we also have a special unit of volunteer communicators who work with the county Sheriff’s organization, particularly on Search-and Rescue activities. These are all good alternatives, but you wouldn’t have time to work with them all. It’s a good idea to look around before you decide where to commit your good intentions..

    4. You will learn useful stuff.

    Quick! What’s the most unexpectedly dangerous kind of common vehicle in a highway crash? My CERT trainer, a Sheriff’s deputy, says it’s a pool-services truck. Mix those chemicals and you can send out a cloud of chlorine gas across a whole neighborhood. That’s good to know any time you’re out on the freeway.

    Maybe more importantly from a ham radio perspective, is that you learn where stuff is. Most of our local hospitals, schools and firehouses, even the manager’s office at the local general-aviation airport, have ham antennas, at least for 2-meters and 440-MHz. Where are the antenna drops? The local volunteers know, and without that knowledge, the drops are useless.

    Then, what’s the drill for getting into the police station? What do you say at the intercom by the door? Once you get in, where’s the ham radio equipment? How does it work? How do you run a net with simplex, if that’s what’s called for? What are the fallback plans when Plan A is a bust? What’s it like to “shadow” a politician or an incident commander during an event? There’s stuff you learn from being taught and stuff you learn from doing.

    If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably an alpha geek. You may or may not have a ham license, or if you once had one, it may be defunct or out of date. Or you may be young enough to have decided that ham radio is just too “twentieth-century,” too much “getting the serum through to Nome” to be relevant. Well, yeah. Until the next time the text messages start backing up in the cell-tower buffers and the freeways are blocked by fallen overpasses. . . or the subway tunnels are full of seawater. Give it a thought. You’re needed.
    .................................................. my first language is TYPO..............................................

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Is there a way to do that without being traced ? I mean, ok, if all our usual way of communication become useless, no one will come to track us because of the possible transitional chaos. But what if I use it now ?

    Anyway, thanks for those infos.

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    -------

    Hi, All --

    To all the hams who are members here!

    In Ecuador, a group of us have a Yaesu 857D.



    This is a compact mobile unit, designed to be mounted in a car or truck. We have the vehicle antenna, and all the kit.

    We also have a power supply for use as a base station -- but no base station antenna. I'd very much welcome specific recommendations for a high quality antenna that could be mounted on the hillside above where I'm living (which is in a fairly broad valley with hills that rise to about 800 ft above the valley floor). What I'd like to get from the base station antenna is a maximization of performance and range. I'd like to be able to reach the US, Canada and Europe from Ecuador.

    What antenna should I get, and where should I order it from?

    Many thanks -- all advice appreciated.

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  8. Link to Post #65
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    -------
    In Ecuador, a group of us have a Yaesu 857D.
    ......
    I'd very much welcome specific recommendations for a high quality antenna that could be mounted on the hillside above where I'm living (which is in a fairly broad valley with hills that rise to about 800 ft above the valley floor). What I'd like to get from the base station antenna is a maximization of performance and range. I'd like to be able to reach the US, Canada and Europe from Ecuador.
    .....
    Hi Bill,

    The set you have has a wide range of frequency bands. It is probably very difficult to get one antenna which covers it all.
    Antennas need to be tuned to the particular wavelength used.

    This set covers a range from 160 meters to 70 centimeters

    You can use 6 and 2 meters (VHF) and/or 70 centimeters (UHF) for local traffic. The wavelength is so short that compact
    directional antennas can be applied. The problem here is however that you need to place a tower and rotor with remote
    control on top to put it in the right direction. Look for Yagi antennas.

    The 20 meter band is a very popular band for DX (long distance) traffic. There are a lot of antennas that will cover the
    whole range of HF (160 meters ... 10 meters) with tuners integrated. There even are directional antennas too for HF.
    But they are heavy and big. Probably not the type of antenna you could place on a windy hilltop.



    A more practical solution could be a simple dipole antenna either specifically for 20 meters or one with tuners.
    Dipole antennas are somewhat directional too. For the USA you would place it in East-West orientation to get North-
    South directionality. You would need a second one for the Europe direction or East-West direction in general.

    Dipole antennas are very basic and can even be constructed from simple wire.



    Because I am more into making instead of buying I have no advice on where to buy them.
    There are lots of articles and images on how to make them ...
    Google is your friend (in this case) .

    P.S. The height of the antenna above ground is also important. At least half a wave length is advisable.
    Last edited by Operator; 6th December 2012 at 14:36. Reason: Added PS

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Here's an initial response from one member of a radio user group I'm a member of:

    Quote
    High quality, maximum performance, maximum range? But no mention of budget.
    The sky's the limit! The most important consideration is the antenna site.
    He does not want to be on the south side of an 800 ft hill; ideally, it will
    be at the top of a hill or on a north facing slope, with the horizon no more
    than a few degrees above horizontal. Then the difference between a wire
    dipole supported a half-wave above ground and an expensive, high-gain Yagi on a tower of the same height will be just 1-2 S-units and thousands of dollars.


    I'll keep you posted with any more tips from that source.

    I'm not going to ask any real Ham groups, because they are likely to get festered about whether you are a licensed user or not.


    added:

    Quote
    If he wants something very transportable but not for use while mobile, moderately efficient, then a BuddiPole with a telescoping mast would be a good bet.


    more....

    Quote
    I'd love to give you a quick and easy one-size fits all, but the truth
    is that it's an extremely complex question with literally dozens of
    best answers from simple wire dipoles, to triband beams, to cubical
    quads, to various kinds of verticals and even large rhobics.

    I'd suggest getting a copy of the ARRL Antenna Book as a starter.

    Now, having said all that, if I were in Ecuador or Ohio, I'd put up a
    simple wire dipole -- or several -- as high and clean as I could. This
    can be done really fast. Then, if I had a tower or a tall phone pole,
    I'd put up a four element tribander with a rotator.

    I'd also get a small linear -- maybe 1Kw PEP -- which won't be too
    costly or suck too much AC.


    more.......

    Quote
    If you're just receiving, anything will work. Transmitting, now that's a real problem! You have standing waves reflected back so nothing goes out the antenna unless properly matched.

    Last edited by norman; 6th December 2012 at 21:23.
    .................................................. my first language is TYPO..............................................

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Hi Bill,

    Beware of commercial antenna claims that say they cover "all bands" without tuning. Most are a con (and all are very inefficient) and have been exposed as such by the ARRL some years ago I believe. Anyway, there's no advantage really in buying antennas, they are only wires and insulators. All you have to do is cut them to the right lengths!

    (A few years ago I designed two multiple HF-antenna array sites for two very well-known organisations.)

    For intercontinental work you'll be using the HF bands 3.5 MHz to 28 MHz (more likely 7 MHz to 21 MHz) depending on day/night and solar activity influencing propagation conditions.

    For antenna supports, you don't need elaborate towers, etc. Trees, wooden poles and buildings are more than sufficient as long as at least one support is 30 or more feet high.

    I'd agree with Operator above. Your best/simplest is to make horizontal dipoles for each HF band if you have the space. A fan dipole does not need to be switched to each band of use. For example, the 20 metre/14 MHz dipole resonates when the antenna is fed with 14 MHz. If each dipole is cut to the right length, the coax from them can be connected directly to your transceiver.

    Alternatively, a random length of wire strung up as space permits (if possible at least 100 ft long and at least 30ft up, best if straight, but not essential) will get a signal out BUT for this arrangement...

    1) You will need a decent earthing arrangement. Lots of wire laid along the ground. Ideally a separate quarter-wave wire for each band in use. Failing that, then as much as you can lay along the ground under the random wire. And I mean as much as you can, 100 feet or more!

    2) A good electrical connection to the earth. Two, three or more copper earthing stakes (from electrical suppliers) or just 5ft copper pipes (but they tend to buckle when hit into hard ground) joined/soldered together with thick wire and banged into the ground as near as possible to the radio - my equipment is upstairs so the earth stakes are 15 feet away! These earth stakes are connected to the transmitter end of the counterpoises and to the transmitter's earth/ground connection.

    3) A random-wire antenna will need tuning to the band in use. An antenna tuning (or matching) unit (ATU) must be connected between the 50 ohm RF output of the Yaesu 857D and the earth/counterpoise and antenna wires. There are automatic ATUs, but manual ones are cheaper and one thing less to go wrong! It is usually one of the first things a competent radio ham builds for themselves!

    If your site is small, you'll either have to consider a vertical antenna of some type, or restrict yourself to the higher bands (10 MHz and above) where shorter dipoles (or sloping dipoles) are used.

    Whatever antenna you go for, there is no special requirement regarding the wire. Any plastic covered multi-stand wire strong enough to support its own weight in a gale without stretching too much is good enough. Also insulators for the ends; not essential, but good practice. No need for fancy ceramic ones, this sort of thing will do, and are widely available. (The plastic holes keeping six-pack together folded in half will do, but not UV stable long term!)

    I guess you don't really need insulators if you tie the antenna wires to non-conducting nylon/polypropylene ropes. If possible, try to keep the antennas - including their ends - away from buildings and trees to minimise losses. It's also a very good idea to keep them away from buildings containing modern electronic devices as they can generate interference on the radio section of your transceiver.

    A doublet is another design for multi-band use (also needs an ATU), but that's enough for going on with.

    Do you have a spare transmitter/receiver? If it goes wrong do you have the resources to fix it? If you have qualified radio amateurs using the Yaesu 857D (and I understand that you may not!) they will know how to use it and should also have a good working knowledge of HF propagation, antenna design, SWR, baluns, tuning and matching.

    If 'the balloon goes up' a spare Morse-code (CW) transmitter/receiver will be useful. Needs no computer, are very simple in design and to fix. Unfortunately you will need a Morse operator! However, Morse signals will get through when SSB won't. If you Google CW transceivers there is a lot of info. A competent radio ham would be able to build a 10 to 20 watt transmitter from one of the many kits or buy one ready built.

    There's huge amounts on the web about all this stuff, but I'm more than happy to help. Please PM me if you like, especially if you don't have access to any trained radio operators.

    Nick

    PS: I see a BuddiPole has been suggested. Nothing wrong with those - apart from the price! It looks well built and particularly suited good for portable use. I'd still use dipoles/wires strung up in the trees for a fixed location.

    Theoretically dipoles are directional as Operator said, but in the real world where ideal height is not possible and nearby trees and buildings affect the radiation pattern, especially at the lower bands, they are more or less omnidirectional.

    You might also like to bear in mind that wires in trees are inconspicuous...
    Last edited by Nick Matkin; 6th December 2012 at 20:17.

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Oh, one more thing ... don't push a lot of power just like that into an antenna. If the antenna is poorly tuned it will not
    emit the power but rather reflect it back into your final amplifier stage and blow up your transceiver.

    There are SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) devices that can measure how much power is reflected. Start with little power
    enough to do the measurement. Only after the antenna is tuned correctly switch to full power (if necessary).
    Less power (QRP) will of course keep your batteries longer operational.

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Quote Posted by Nick Matkin (here)

    PS: I see a BuddiPole has been suggested. Nothing wrong with those - apart from the price! It looks well built and particularly suited good for portable use. I'd still use dipoles/wires strung up in the trees for a fixed location.
    Hi Nick,

    If you refer to my 2nd picture ... I only showed the picture to illustrate what a dipole is and chose this one because
    it displays the tuning devices in the middle too. I agree with you that a wire dipole is much cheaper and easier to
    construct (And can be used mobile too ... just hook it up on some available tall structures).

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Hi Op,

    The Buddipole was referred to in post #66. When used horizontally it looks like its maximum height and (telescopic?) dipole arms limits it to say 21 MHz and above - without reading through all the guff!

    I'm assuming it can be used against a good ground as a loaded vertical on the lower bands can it? I can't see how a 40m/7MHz dipole is going to work at the stand height in the photo - and presumably the telescopic arms must be extended with wire to make a resonant dipole, unless it's got loaded dipole elements. Looks quite faffy if you want to change bands! But I may stand corrected as I've not used one...

    I can understand Bill's desire to buy an "off-the-shelf-just-plug-in-and-use-on-any-band-without-tuning" antenna if there isn't anyone who knows how to adjust the ATU for min SWR etc. to set up the correct lengths for a dipole or three before they plug it in for the first time.

    I see the Yaesu YA-30 Broadband HF Antenna would probably do the trick (theoretically it doesn't need an ATU) but it costs about £300 just for some wires and a high-power resistor that absorbs about half the transmitter power.

    It's just a glorified T2FD (apparently developed as a wide-band, no-tune antenna by the US navy) which you can make yourself for about £20, even if you can't make your own balun and have to buy one! On the other hand, perhaps ready-built ones are available. Check it will handle the transmitter power! But you need to know how much space you have first.

    All wide-band, no-tune antennas are a compromise, and although half the power of the T2FD is lost in the resistor (OK, that's not even one S-point on a receiver!) it seems a waste when you are running the transmitter from solar panels or battery. Still, those sorts of limitations wouldn't be a handicap for the US navy!

    ===

    Bill,
    • How much space do you have and what can be used as the highest point? Corner of building, building with added pole, tree...?
    • How high is the highest point?
    • Do you have anyone who can make the technical measurements and adjustments for the antenna?

    If you don't get the antenna right, you will waste much of the transmitter power, may well not receive as many signals as you should, and as Operator has already said, you may even damage the transmitter section of the rig!

    Regards,

    Nick
    Last edited by Nick Matkin; 6th December 2012 at 20:24.

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Quote Posted by Operator (here)
    Oh, one more thing ... don't push a lot of power just like that into an antenna. If the antenna is poorly tuned it will not
    emit the power but rather reflect it back into your final amplifier stage and blow up your transceiver.

    There are SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) devices that can measure how much power is reflected. Start with little power
    enough to do the measurement. Only after the antenna is tuned correctly switch to full power (if necessary).
    Less power (QRP) will of course keep your batteries longer operational.
    It just crossed my mind that the SWR meter could be already built in too (such a complete rig).
    And apparently it is ... albeit ostensibly a very simple one:

    http://forums.radioreference.com/ama...swr-meter.html

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Bill,

    My recommendation is to make a simple dipole antenna as shown here.

    http://www.hamuniverse.com/multidipole.html

    Start with the 20 meter version and add wires for other frequency bands later. The antenna length is important for transmitting but not as important for receiving.

    My antenna is a dual band dipole made from aluminum wire intended for electric fencing. It works great and is inexpensive.

    I looked for local amateur radio operators who might offer assistance near Vilcabamba. The closest one I found is in Machala. There is also a radio club there.

    Clubs here in the states are usually very helpful to those interested in getting a license. Maybe it is the same in Ecuador. Here is contact information for one of the Machala hams. Cesar is a civil engineer.

    HC3AP Ecuador
    Cesar Palacios
    P.O. BOX 07-01-918
    MACHALA 0701
    Ecuador
    Last edited by Ron Mauer Sr; 6th December 2012 at 23:48.

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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Just want to say thank you to everyone taking part in this thread. HAM radio is something I have been wanting to get into for a few years now but keeps slipping further down my 'get around to' list. I have very much enjoyed reading it so far and am gathering inspiration from you all.

    I do now have my bank of 12v deep cycle batteries and am slowly getting my solar panel collection going, along with still dreaming of a suitable wind turbine or two.

    I am impressed by Win Keechs' 'Ridge Blade' concept of wind turbine, talked about briefly in his Ammach presentation, a conference organized by Miles Johnstion and Joanne Summerscales, who have kind of picked up the baton of a sorts from Bill and Kerry and run with it!

    Do take that comment in a light hearted way as Ammach and the Bases series are a wee bit different from Camelot and are certainly no 'Johnny come latelys'. It is the one man and one woman style of things that have us drawing comparisons.

    I am not sure if Wins' Ridge Blade product is available for purchase just yet. He and his people have and continue to do extensive testing on this and intend to get it right first time out of the box and not have a product that might need to be recalled somewhere down the track.

    I wish them all the best. Win was a turbine blade designer for Rolls Royce aircraft engines in England so he knows his stuff.
    His competition has already reacted and copied his concept and produced an inferior product, but with a similar name to the Ridge Blade.
    I will plug for him by saying, beware any cheap imitations!

    Apologees for wandering slightly off topic, however I feel HAM radio and off grid power sources go hand in hand.

    It is truly great to see so many people worldwide taking their futures into their own hands, becoming as self sufficient as possible, whether they do it as doomsday preppers or just as people wanting to be more personally responsible for themselves.

    Alot of innovation and breakthroughs in this area will come as more and more people get into it. Brian O'Leary would/will be pleased to see this!

    It is more viable than it was even a few short years ago, as the technology becomes cheaper, while the costs of grid power climb, along with other forms of generation such as diesel.

    Please correct me if this is wrong but I understand that data, as in the internet, particularly texts can also be transmitted by HAM radio, just like a satellite type cellphone internet connection, which are very expensive to use at present.

    Bouncing your data off the moon or ionosphere instead of satellites would probably mean less efficiency than using the telcos and corporations, but it is the idea of not being 'owned' by them that is appealing to me.
    Last edited by HaveBlue; 7th December 2012 at 12:26.

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  26. Link to Post #74
    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    -------

    Wow -- many thanks to all for the many immediate, detailed and helpful replies.

    My problem here is that I'm a rank beginner with zero ham experience. I simply bought the rig on eBay. I also have no immediate access to anyone with experience, either. Essentially, I just have the radio (plus vehicle antenna, cables, power supply etc) in a bunch of boxes. I've been way too busy on other projects -- so far -- to even connect it all up!

    Therefore zero experience here really means zero. Thanks indeed for the Machala contact, which I'd not known about -- I'd been aware there are radio clubs in Guayaquil, Cuenca and Quito. It's not impossible that some of those guys may speak at least some English, though I have good friends who speak fluent Spanish and would be happy to interface and translate.

    My opportunity is to spend several hundred dollars on an antenna which friends could bring in from the US in a 40 ft shipping container (they're moving here). I'm not really a hands-on techie, and would better be in a position to buy something -- shared with a group of friends -- than try to make something myself from DIY components.

    The physical locale is that the house is on the valley floor while the land available to use is basically south-facing, extending up maybe half a mile horizontally and several hundred feet vertically. The overall general angle of the hillside is something like 30 degrees. There are many trees, some of which are on open bluffs with a wide view of the horizon -- to the east, south and/or west. Not to the north! It would be relatively easy (no permission required) to erect a tower just about anywhere there.

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    UK Avalon Member Nick Matkin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Hi HaveBlue, and anyone else who is curious...

    Yes, ham or amateur radio is a fascinating hobby, and if you have the time and inclination it's great fun. You can buy all the equipment ready made, but for me the real fun is in:

    Building equipment from kits
    Rebuilding/repairing old radio gear
    Designing my own radio gear
    Oh, yes... and operating it!

    Of course ham radio does have practical uses, even in these days of mobile/cell phones and internet, but this 'practical use' is diminishing, except of course in developing countries or after natural disasters.

    To be honest, it is now difficult to attract young people to the hobby since there are so many other things for them to do. If you show them ham radio, most just shrug their shoulders and say: "Why do that? My smart phone does all that and far, far more!" On the other hand, if you show them a simple one-transistor transmitter, and simple receiver running off a nine-volt battery exchanging information over hundreds or thousands of miles, without any intervening infrastructure, if you're lucky you might get a "Oh that's cool" reaction - for a minute or so!

    The 'magic' of radio is no more for most people - you have to be er... slightly unusual these days to be enthralled by the science of communication without wires!

    I think some people forget that ham radio is not really like CB, or the kind of communications used by the police or other services where generally only one band is allocated and the antennas are simple. To get the best out of ham radio you need to be able to understand radio wave propagation especially via the ionosphere, and the different transmission modes (AM/FM/USB/LSB/data) and how to rig up an antenna and match it to the equipment; no point spending hundreds/thousands of dollars/pounds on equipment and and connecting an antenna without having someone who understands a bit about antenna matching, SWR, etc. at least for the initial set up.

    You're right about using ham radio to send data. This is not my area of expertise, but large amounts of data can be transferred now. When I first started in radio, Morse code was still thought to be the most robust way of sending data - readable through noise and interference and even when the bands were not propagating, even if it is a bit slow! But with computers and signal processing, quite high speed data can be exchanged when the signal is well below the noise, i.e. is completely inaudible!

    The esoteric transmission mode of moon bounce is generally for the more powerful serious radio ham stations, but using amateur radio satellites for long-distance contacts is quite common.

    On a rather tenuous link to the paranormal, there is still one aspect of radio - including ham radio - that is quite mysterious and that is Long Delay Echoes.

    It has all the aspects of the paranormal; unpredictable, rare, theoretically not possible! I've been skeptical of the phenomenon, but it may be genuine. LDEs are delays of signals taking seconds, sometime many seconds. There is no known mechanism for this (although some are emerging), but an alien spacecraft holding signals and releasing them in a mathematical way has been one explanation - unnecessarily complex explanation if you ask me, just because we haven't yet got a conventional scientific explanation yet. For more info Google "Long Delay Echoes".

    Enough for now...

    Nick

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  30. Link to Post #76
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Hi Bill,

    Now you’ve given a few more details I’ve got some more suggestions…

    You say you’ve got zero ham radio experience, fair enough, so how about keeping everything as simple as possible – at least to start with?

    Since amateur/ham radio allows use of many bands/frequencies, if you stick to just one band it’ll certainly make antenna matters easier. I suggest 14MHz/20m (as already suggested by rmauerse in post #72) will be a band that will give coverage of much of the Americas, and probably further afield. It won’t always be the optimum band, put it should be ‘open’ (i.e. carrying signals) for much of the day/evening and possibly also into the night. Not a good band for local contacts though. Each band has different characteristics; some best for local, distant, very distant, day, night, etc.

    We’ve not mentioned the G5RV antenna so far. I thought about it today. A bit of a compromise antenna, but if set up properly should work on a number of bands without the need for an antenna tuning unit, which is something you probably don’t want to get your head round if avoidable!

    This ad looks ok: Optimized G5RV / ZS6BKW Multi Band Dipole Antenna for $68. Claims no antenna tuner is needed for 10m/28MHz, 12m/24MHz, 17m/18MHz, 20m/14MHz & 40m/7MHz bands. It needs some extra 50 ohm cable but expect it’s available from the supplier. Check the spec for location/space requirements. As rmauerse stated, try and get some local ham help for initial setup and antenna optimized for 14 MHz. But:
    • Local hams my be a bit sniffy about helping someone who hasn’t sat the exams to get a license
    • Some people want to help but don’t appreciate the limits of their knowledge
    • You’ll need a convincing but unallocated call-sign
    • I doubt local helpers will be familiar with your philosophy and that you’re preparing for a possible “Future Event”

    Don't get too bogged down when you hear about antenna SWR (or VSWR). All you need to know is that is should be kept below 3:1, preferably below 2:1, and 1:1 is ideal, though not essential.

    You have access to a tower. How tall? Any ham would love one, especially if it’s going to have large antennas on it with a rotator. But an antenna for 14 MHz is pretty damn big and conspicuous to have on a mast. And antennas for 7MHz, and 3.5MHz are too big to be made from rods and are made from wire and strung from supports. I’d suggest you have a G5RV supported at one end by the top of the mast, and the other by the next tallest nearest object. Bit of a waste of a mast, unless you really want to get some big rotating antennas on it in future.

    Disconnect your antenna in a thunderstorm! You don’t want your rig fried by the EMP from a nearby strike!

    I guess the antennas that came with the rig are for VHF/UHF? OK for local contacts - 10 to 30 miles depending on terrain.

    I see the Yaesu 857D includes a general-coverage receiver. Very useful if you want to listen to international broadcasters, but check out where in the bands to look or you’ll be wasting your time searching. Have you got the manual? If not it will be available online. Some manuals assume some ham radio knowledge, others are quite detailed.

    Nick

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  32. Link to Post #77
    Europe Avalon Member scanner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Cobweb and long wire with ATU , is all you need .

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  34. Link to Post #78
    United States Avalon Guide: Here to help
     
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Quote Posted by Nick Matkin (here)
    Hi Bill,

    Now you’ve given a few more details I’ve got some more suggestions…

    You say you’ve got zero ham radio experience, fair enough, so how about keeping everything as simple as possible – at least to start with?

    Since amateur/ham radio allows use of many bands/frequencies, if you stick to just one band it’ll certainly make antenna matters easier. I suggest 14MHz/20m (as already suggested by rmauerse in post #72) will be a band that will give coverage of much of the Americas, and probably further afield. It won’t always be the optimum band, put it should be ‘open’ (i.e. carrying signals) for much of the day/evening and possibly also into the night. Not a good band for local contacts though. Each band has different characteristics; some best for local, distant, very distant, day, night, etc.

    We’ve not mentioned the G5RV antenna so far. I thought about it today. A bit of a compromise antenna, but if set up properly should work on a number of bands without the need for an antenna tuning unit, which is something you probably don’t want to get your head round if avoidable!

    This ad looks ok: Optimized G5RV / ZS6BKW Multi Band Dipole Antenna for $68. Claims no antenna tuner is needed for 10m/28MHz, 12m/24MHz, 17m/18MHz, 20m/14MHz & 40m/7MHz bands. It needs some extra 50 ohm cable but expect it’s available from the supplier. Check the spec for location/space requirements. As rmauerse stated, try and get some local ham help for initial setup and antenna optimized for 14 MHz. But:

    • Local hams my be a bit sniffy about helping someone who hasn’t sat the exams to get a license
    • Some people want to help but don’t appreciate the limits of their knowledge
    • You’ll need a convincing but unallocated call-sign
    • I doubt local helpers will be familiar with your philosophy and that you’re preparing for a possible “Future Event”


    Don't get too bogged down when you hear about antenna SWR (or VSWR). All you need to know is that is should be kept below 3:1, preferably below 2:1, and 1:1 is ideal, though not essential.

    You have access to a tower. How tall? Any ham would love one, especially if it’s going to have large antennas on it with a rotator. But an antenna for 14 MHz is pretty damn big and conspicuous to have on a mast. And antennas for 7MHz, and 3.5MHz are too big to be made from rods and are made from wire and strung from supports. I’d suggest you have a G5RV supported at one end by the top of the mast, and the other by the next tallest nearest object. Bit of a waste of a mast, unless you really want to get some big rotating antennas on it in future.

    Disconnect your antenna in a thunderstorm! You don’t want your rig fried by the EMP from a nearby strike!

    I guess the antennas that came with the rig are for VHF/UHF? OK for local contacts - 10 to 30 miles depending on terrain.

    I see the Yaesu 857D includes a general-coverage receiver. Very useful if you want to listen to international broadcasters, but check out where in the bands to look or you’ll be wasting your time searching. Have you got the manual? If not it will be available online. Some manuals assume some ham radio knowledge, others are quite detailed.

    Nick
    Bill,

    I agree with Nick.

    The antenna can be ordered online. Estimate the length off coaxial cable you will need between the radio and center of the wire (G5RV) antenna. That also can be ordered online. I suggest using this cable (RG8X) which the has the correct connector for your radio already installed.

    Waterproof the antenna end of the coaxial cable with electrical tape.

    Here is a link to frequency bands used by hams in the USA.

    Ron

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  36. Link to Post #79
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Bill!,

    As a non hands-on Techi' as you are, The big deal here that you HAVE to get on top of, is, IMPEDANCE !


    Impedance matching is the big "pro" secret with all electronic work. I wish I was up to a full spectrum breakdown of the subject for you, but I'm only trained up to a level 2 City and Guilds electronic and servicing qualification. This stuff is VERY technical, believe me.

    Unless you can GET A KNOWLEDGEABLE expert, locally to grab a pile of kit and set it up for you, you will have to keep it very 'consumer friendly'.

    That's reasonable, in normal situations, but, you are on a south facing slope and that's obviously NOT ideal.

    Your vehicular mobility may turn out to be the way you need to get this sorted.

    That 'mobile' antenna you have may be quite useful just as it is, as long as you park up in the right places.

    Obviously, receiving isn't the same as transmitting, but, I once met a bloke on a hilltop in Mid Wales who had fallen asleep listening to USA truckers talking to each other on nothing more than legal CB radios. He'd driven his 4X4 right up onto the top of Middletown Hill near Welshpool, Powys, Wales. All he had was a receiver mounted in the dash' and a bloody great big swinging 'whip' antenna centered right atop the roof of the 4X4 he was snoozing in.

    As I approached him on foot, I could clearly hear the "Yanks" boasting away on the radio, even from 200 yards away from where he was 'parked'.
    Last edited by norman; 8th December 2012 at 03:41.
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    Default Re: Ham radio information needed

    Bill, I think the first very simple thing to try is for you to get that kit installed into a decent hill climbing vehicle and take a swig from your flask, and then try something very simple though just a bit abstract.

    Hope like hell that the output isn't crashing itself with detuned energy and bang out a simple signal at maximum power.

    My reciever here in northern UK is nothing too special, but, if we agree a frequency, and agree a signal (AM only - in my case ) we can begin to assess what's what and what's possible.

    EDIT:

    I've just remembered that you may not be aware of how the banding works best for weaker ( amateur ) signals. Most transmitters with lower power usually confine themselves to "single sideband". That can be lower sideband ( LSB ) or upper sideband ( USB ).

    It's not really so different from full band but it's a crafty mix of available power and reception fidelity. A sort of blend between talking like a GOD and coding like a peasant.

    Raw morse code is the last thing to fail in a bad electro-magnetic environment. All it has to do is distinguish between a short burst and a long burst. Even when conditions are well past hearing a human voice and comprehending it, distorted dots and distorted dashes are separable and useful.

    On another thread here I even suggested devising a code that only used short ( dot ) codes. That's because it's a quite serviceable utility to create emergency signals with only raw power cable as a medium. Longer 'dashes' are likely to cause power sinks and fuse the protection devices in the grid.

    A raw power cable, like the national grid, will generate a very broad spectrum noise in all directions if you break and join it's circuit manually. It's not something you'd want to do for no great reason, but as an emergency signal, it's quite useful.

    The sheer simplicity of the idea above is the point of what I'm trying to say here.

    As bafflingly complex as the manual for any number of expensive radio kits might be, The bottom line is, as long as the listener knows what to listen for, anything is possible.
    Last edited by norman; 8th December 2012 at 05:17.
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