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Messages - Quietguy

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Tactical Corner / Re: Venezuela: A Real SHTF Situation
« on: June 11, 2016, 03:02:16 AM »
*  Water:  as of today most Venezuelans have enough safe drinking water.
Yes, but... one of the causes of their problems is a severe drought which has hammered agriculture and almost shut down their hydro-electric production.  Their main hydro reservoir is so empty that a few weeks ago Maduro ordered government employees to work only two days a week so they could turn off electricity to government buildings.  I doubt employees are receiving full pay while on "vacation".  No electricity means no commercial food processing.

No rain = no hydro-electric (which I benefit from up here in the PNW), no farming, no garden...

From a Stratfor report 11 May 2016:

Amid shortages, reports of riots over food in Venezuela have become more frequent in recent months. As Venezuela's economy continues to deteriorate and its people struggle to deal with reduced access to increasingly expensive food, looting at distribution centers and markets could spiral out of control, adding pressure to force President Nicolas Maduro from office.

On May 11, a mob far outnumbering the security forces standing guard forced its way into a distribution warehouse in Maracay, less than 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Caracas, and carried off food. The fact that the crowd defied armed guards reveals the magnitude of the situation in Venezuela, where the food, water and electricity shortages that have plagued its populace for years have worsened.

Note the location of the riot:  50 miles from the capital city and in an agricultural area.  This is what Wikipedia says about Maracay:

One of the most important cities in Venezuela, Maracay is primarily an industrial and commercial center, the city produces paper, textiles chemicals, tobacco, cement, cattle, processed foods, soap, and perfumes.

The areas around Maracay are agricultural: sugarcane, tobacco, coffee and cocoa stand out as the main products. There are also cattle-herding and timber-cutting activities. Activity by the Venezuelan Military also adds a great deal to Maracay's economy.

If this is what it is like in an area where you would expect to find lots of resources, what is like in other places?

New To Radio / Re: Working with s7 -s9 noise
« on: May 08, 2016, 04:26:34 PM »
but turning on individual breakers I've identified about 6 breakers that bring the noise floor up to beyond S-6.  It seems like I've got about 20 things to fix.
Bob, don't overlook the breaker itself.  I had a situation once where a flat garage roof leaked at a parapet and water ran inside the wall into a sub-panel.  The leak went unnoticed and over time corroded the terminals on several breakers.  I didn't catch it until the kitchen stove breaker tripped from overheating caused by arcing at the bad contact.  Replacing the breakers took care of a lot of my noise and re-roofing protected the new breakers.


New To Radio / Re: Working with s7 -s9 noise
« on: May 07, 2016, 06:55:13 PM »
How does a beginner work with s7 to s9 constant HF noise levels?  Living in an apartment that is what I see always. 
Have you tried to find out where the noise is coming from?  Maybe a significant amount is coming from inside your own apartment.  Shut down everything electrical you have control over and see if the noise level changes.  If it does, try to isolate the various sources.  Lamp dimmers and switch mode power supplies (like the lightweight wall warts) are notorious for generating noise.  We have one dimmer in a bedroom wall switch box that makes HF almost unusable across the hall but the noise goes away when turned off.  If noise is coming in from outside on 120 volt power lines you can install line filters to help knock it down.  It's a process of elimination but sometimes you can make significant improvements just within your own stuff even though you can't get rid of it all.

Edit to add:  Other common sources to check are 120 volt LED replacements for standard light bulbs and all types of fluorescent lights - both older style tubes and the newer compact fluorescent energy savers.  These all use power supplies that can be incredibly noisy.


General Discussion / Re: Public Service
« on: March 15, 2016, 08:36:44 PM »
Fortunately, around here most hams are just on the old side and a bit nerdy.  I see very few "radio-tactical" guys.

Same thing for me, Bob.  I haven't been nearly as involved the last couple of years because of some physical problems, but I spent several years as an active volunteer and most of the people problems were the kind you find in any part of civilized society.  The rewards were numerous, not the least of which was gaining familiarity with the local law enforcement structure.  Our organization is not a traditional ARES group, but operates as an auxiliary (ACS - Auxiliary Communications Service) to the county Sheriff's office and members are subject to a background check.  We work with uniformed folks and are authorized to use their equipment on their frequencies during activation.  That made a huge difference in my understanding of what was being heard over the radio.  An additional benefit is being covered by state insurance as a Registered Emergency Worker when activated with a mission number.

Prepper articles usually mention the importance of including a "police scanner" for finding out what is going on.  But few mention how difficult it is to understand the radio traffic if you are not familiar with the structure and operational aspects of your local agencies.  Even though most, if not all, agencies are moving from 10-codes to plain language there is still a lot of confusion if you are not familiar with local structure.  More than once I have been able to turn to a near-by uniform and ask "what does that mean" when some unfamiliar piece of traffic comes over the radio... and they were always happy to tell me.

People who want to find out more about their local area should check out the local emcomm scene.  Just because the club in some other city has a lot of jerks in it doesn't mean your local club is the same.  Maybe I'm just lucky, but our group is comprised of a bunch of good people who have the desire to help their community.  And in return they receive a lot of side benefits - not the least of which is that elusive "insider knowledge".


Digital Modes / Re: What equipment do I need to start sendind email?
« on: December 18, 2015, 12:38:48 AM »
Is the Winmor and WL2K all included in the RMSexpress, or is it separate software ?

As Richard said, Winlink (WL2K) is the system you want to access.  Winmor is the sound card mode RMS Express uses to connect to WL2K stations.  It is an option built into RMS Express, you don't have to install any other software.  I installed RMS Express, told it to use the SignaLink device, went through the configuration and everything seemed to work the way it should.

I didn't have any problems installing RMS Express in Windows 7 - could you be having Windows compatibility problems, like maybe some of the new Windows 10 security signing requirements?  I don't have Win10 so I don't know if there are any issues there.


Digital Modes / Re: What equipment do I need to start sendind email?
« on: December 16, 2015, 06:24:11 PM »
So Winlink will run as a soundcard mode ?  I thought it would take a TNC.
RMS Express will operate WL2K on HF using Winmor as a soundcard mode.  I have used a SignaLink for this and it is pretty smooth.  Speeds are not great, I have heard somewhere between Pactor 1 and Pactor 2, but it works fine for normal text emails or small attachments.  It makes a good low-cost alternative to Pactor modems.

In theory sound card packet can be used on VHF to access WL2K stations but I have heard there are problems making it work reliably and a hardware TNC is much better.  I have hardware TNCs so I have not attempted sound card packet in a long time; the TNC makes it easy and reliable.  Even the old Kantronics TNCs work well so the cost isn't too bad.


General Discussion / Re: New Russian EMP
« on: September 23, 2015, 06:06:59 PM »
How can someone say a trashcan will protect from something then in the very next sentence say they don't know anything about what it is the trashcan is protecting from??????

Because there is a presumption that preppers as a group are not protecting against specialized Directed Energy weapons (such as the demo you saw) that would be targeting military/infrastructure assets.  The presumed threat to the prepper community is a generalized high altitude nuclear EMP (HEMP), which is what CockpitBob was addressing.  Just like the garden-variety prepper has little defense against NSA eavesdropping, the garden-variety prepper has little to no defense against military weapons or tactics of any kind, kinetic or electronic.

The problem with discussing EMP is the survival literature (mostly sensationalist fiction) has mingled the affects of HEMP, ionizing radiation and directed energy weapons to the point where there is way too much confusion about the real affects of each - and they are all different.  Unless a prepper lives next door to a high value military or critical infrastructure asset, there is little need to lose sleep over ionizing radiation or DE weapons.  Ionizing radiation strong enough to disable your electronics is also strong enough to disable you.  DE weapons are for important targets, not somebody's clandestine short wave receiver.  That leaves HEMP, which is what Bob was addressing, and there is plenty of credible information out there.

Preppers are not military units.  If anyone is concerned their activities may be interesting enough to attract the level of attention from a Well Funded Adversary that would result in a DE strike, maybe they should re-think their OpSec.


Technical Corner / Re: Building the Weber MTR-5B.
« on: August 04, 2015, 11:09:01 PM »
Gil, maybe you have checked this, but in your closeup photo of the chip, with the quarter for scale, it looks like you are dangerously close to a solder bridge between a couple of pins.  If the dot is in the corner with pin 1 and if I counted right the possible bridge is between pins 18 and 19.  It's just above the "X6" stenciled on the board.


AlexLoop inside of our front room.
Ray, I assume you built your own AlexLoop (his costs $400 shipped); what design details did you use?


General Discussion / Re: I raise chickens......this not good
« on: June 05, 2015, 11:35:41 PM »
Backyard flocks here in the Pacific North West are at risk also.  The Pacific Flyway goes over the top of us and migratory birds have been spreading avian flu everywhere they go.  There have been warnings for people to take precautions, but I don't know what you can do.  We don't have chickens, but sometimes I think we should.


Tactical Corner / Re: Drones will be ubiquitous. How to prepare?
« on: May 27, 2015, 06:43:16 PM »
I tend to see them as more of a defensive tool than an offensive tool from a prepping standpoint.  I can't really visualize a non-government group flying through my semi-rural wooded area looking for targets of opportunity.  We're far enough away from metro areas that well-organized bands of zombies aren't high on my list of things to worry about.  I'm more concerned about small groups of desperate low-lifes who are the same ones doing petty theft now.

However, I can visualize using one myself to get above the trees and doing slow 360s to see what may be headed my way.  I have thought  about that a number of times... we are now in the time of year where I cannot easily see beyond the boundaries of my own property because of trees and warm weather vegetation.  More than once I've wondered what some random daytime noise was.  Even the road isn't visible around the curve in my driveway until I walk almost all the way down to it.  I have also thought about mounting a wireless video camera on an RC truck to drive around the property to keep an eye on things.  Just another thing on the to-do list.

But, that also works to my advantage - most people are reluctant to open the gate and come up a blind (they can't see around a curve) 500 foot driveway to get to us.  That might be one case where a small group might use a little quad copter - or RC truck of their own - to see if it is worth coming up the driveway.  But, they could learn the same thing by quietly walking up the driveway and looking for themselves.  I guess that's why perimeter defenses become very important.


Technical Corner / Re: My BitX20 Choice.
« on: May 27, 2015, 05:55:02 PM »
.............. If we knew what we were prepping for we could say what "the best" is.  We don't, so we cover our bases.

Speak for yourself, personally I know what I'm prepping for - an earth invasion of highly trained, advanced extra terrestrials.............basically space ninjas.

Ahhh geeezze... you've been talking to RadioRay again.


Quiteguy, how did the tilted verticals do?  I'm still considering that ezmilitary for this reason.

One article in the book describes some USMC tests run in 1989 with Camp Lejeune NC as the hub station and out stations in Cherry Point NC, Oak Grove NC, and Norfolk VA.  Two Humvees headed out, north and south, stopped and ran tests every 25 miles and had reliable comms with the hub and other stations out to a range of about 150 miles from the hub.  They estimated a reliable range of 200 miles from the hub.

The mobile stations tested two antennas: a 32 foot military whip antenna (AT-1011) bent 90 degrees using a whip-tilt adapter and a 32 foot wire.  Both antennas extended horizontally to the rear of the vehicle.  The wire antenna was supported 4 feet off the ground at the end.  They had 100% reliability in all cases. 

According to the article:

Using either the 32 foot bent whip or the 32 foot wire produced identical circuit reliability results to the fixed station test over the many stops and checks that were conducted in the operational area.

They ran a second series of tests with the whip-tilt adapter on a different route after shortening the 32 foot whip to 16 feet.  They did both day and night tests, changing frequencies as appropriate.  The article says:

Heavy thunderstorms with considerable lightning were present during the test period.  Despite the lightning, the inefficient 16 foot antenna and the inherent high noise level of the frequency band being used 90% reliability for voice communications was still achieved.

They don't specify which frequencies were used, but I believe it's a safe assumption they were somewhere in the vicinity of 60 meters or longer.  They chose their frequencies to make sure they would get ionospheric reflection.


Some years ago I was active at the state level ARES/RACES and put up an 80m NVIS dipole antenna specifically for the state net.  It was made from #14 stranded THHN electrical wire from Home Depot, and was installed about 10ish feet off the ground to a nearby tree.  Total length was about 135ish feet, cut for resonance at the net frequency, with about half running along one side of my shop and about half in the air to the tree.  I was able to run the Washington state SSB net a couple of times, with the biggest problem being the attitude of some of the net members apparently triggered by my obvious inexperience as net control.  I had good contact through a large part of Washington state and only needed fill a few times.

I also put up a 135ish foot dipole up about 50 feet, which has NVIS properties on 80m and have had a number of successful daytime SSB contacts with friends out to a couple of hundred miles.  In one daytime test at maybe 150 miles or so I lowered my output power in a series of steps to see how low we could go.  I was down to 10 or 20 watts on my Icom 706MkIIg when my friend had to break off the test and take care of something.  That antenna worked better than my 10 foot high experiment, maybe because it was in the  clear rather than running through trees and along a building.

Another time, our county EC/RO and I decided to try an experiment with a temporary 80m NVIS dipole setup for the state net.  He was scheduled to run the Saturday net, so we headed up to the local radio club (on 5 acres of land) and set up a temporary antenna.  I had pre-cut more of the #14 THHN Home Depot wire to about 135ish feet and strung it up using surplus portable fiberglass mast sections available on ebay.  I think I used two sections of mast for each support, which put the wire about 6 feet in the air, with a piece of coax run through the clubhouse door.  He was able to cover pretty much the entire state of Washington, at least as far as there were stations participating in the net.  The biggest problem with that experiment was stability of the mast sections - I needed to use a better anchoring system.  It has been several years, but I think I held up the masts with metal fence stakes driven into the ground, but the weight of the wire wanted to pull them over.  Subsurface rocks kept me from getting as much penetration as I needed.  I ended up with some paracord guys and accepted sag in the wire.  Later, a permanent NVIS wire was installed at the club.

I have not had nearly as much luck with 40m NVIS, presumably because of my latitude.  40m NVIS tends to work much better in, say, Southern California than it does here in SW Washington state.  However, 80m here is Golden if you can put up a suitable antenna.

if you can find the out-of-print book Near Vertical Incidence Skywave Communications Theory, Techniques and Validation by LTC David M. Fiedler and Maj Edward J. Farmer grab it.  It contains a series of articles on military testing of NVIS techniques.  They had excellent results using military HF whips tilted horizontal.


Morse Code / Re: Army no longer teaching Morse to G.I.s
« on: May 04, 2015, 06:21:45 PM »
"We train [for] Morse code because the adversary still uses Morse code," said Germain
This is just hearsay on my part, but I read somewhere that Russian bomber crews use Morse code on their flights.  If so, that might provide some incentive for maintaining the capability for awhile.


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