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Messages - RadioRay

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Data protection that protects you from reading foreign press... Reminds me of the Berlin Wall, which the Soviet and their vassal East Germans stated was to protect workers from attack by the western fascists.  With 'protectors' like that, who need enemies ?

Source:  Hemingford Ledger -
Box Butte's Family Newspaper
Hemingford, Nebraska - USA

Here is the text from the article:

Making do with what you have

"It’s been 12 years since I stepped on the yellow footprints aboard the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. In the years since, the one thing I took for granted most was how much growing up on a ranch prepared me for the Marines and life in general.

Beyond the physical conditioning and endurance I gained from hiking fence posts and barbed-wire up and down butte rocks, I learned that I often times have to make do with what I have. If I needed it and don’t have it, I have to borrow it from a neighbor. If all else fails, I have to improvise with the materials I have on hand. The Marine Corps was no different.

One example of how ranching gave me a leg up was when I deployed to East Africa in 2008. I was one of four Marine radio operators in a joint communications shop run by the Navy. The shop used Marine Corps radios which none of the Navy guys had ever touched before. As a lowly Lance Corporal, I suddenly became the subject matter expert in the shop, responsible for training and solving complex technical problems.

Toward the end of the deployment we were given a tricky mission: find a way to talk via shortwave radio from Djibouti -- a tiny country in “the horn” of the continent -- to Nigeria, clear out on Africa’s west coast. The Nigerians didn’t have access to our satellites, so we had to rely on the High Frequency bandwidth utilized by HAM radio operators. However, when we measured it out, the shot was almost twice the distance of the United States from coast-to-coast. I instantly identified a problem: we’d have to get a more powerful transmitter and do some math and figure out how to make it work.

Boosting our power output would be a little tricky. The radio itself could only push out 20 watts of power, and the only amplifiers we on had pushed out 150 watts at-best. But before I could do anything about that, we’d have to track down a generator to power up my radios from a remote location.

Earlier in the deployment I’d made friends with the Navy SeaBees whose compound was right down the road from my shop. The SeaBees were the carpenters and engineers responsible for building the wooden huts and hooches that dotted our little desert base in Djibouti. They had a number of small generators laying around for power tools and the like.

I’ve learned that no matter how busy I get, I’ve always tried to pay it forward. Stopping to help out a neighbor has proven to come in handy when I’ve need help. It was around my first week in country, when a Chief Petty Officer for the SeaBees stopped in at the comm shop and asked if I could come over and fix their hand-held radios. After trouble shooting for a bit, I figured out a way to boost the output so that they could talk further. It improved the SeaBees’ quality of life and helped them get their mission accomplished.

When I walked in a few months later, the Chief remembered me and was more than happy to loan me a generator. I suppose that wasn’t much different from being back home and borrowing a trailer or a loading chute from a neighbor when it came time to work cows.

The next step in my mission was tracking down an amplifier. We’d done research and to purchase a beefier 400 watt amp from the radio manufacturer would have cost us about $200,000. I knew that was out of the question, and that the process of requisitioning one would take longer than I had left in country. So, I set out into the hot sun to beat feet around to the other units on the camp to see if anyone had gear lying around that they weren’t using.

Down toward the air strip I found a tent for a Navy aviation squadron. After visiting with their warrant officer, we learned they had a radio amp that’d fit our need. However, they were reluctant to pony it up to a couple of jarheads, and given the reputation of some Marines, I don’t really blame them.

I asked if there was anything we could trade out and learned they were having trouble with a satellite radio the used to talk to their planes. I went back to the shop to grab a spare high-gain satellite antenna and returned to set it up for them. Running the cabling for the antenna into their shop was a bit of a task, as I had to crawl through the sand under floorboards in 100-plus degree heat. It was a hot, miserable, dirty job, but after making the connection I got them up and talking, eliminating a major headache for their staff. The warrant officer was absolutely over the moon with the job we’d done.

“If you weren’t a man, I’d kiss you right now,” he’d said.

 And with a handshake, he agreed to sign over the amplifier we needed.

Having tracked down my power source and an amplifier I knew I almost had it in the bag. The only task left to make the project work was to build an antenna that would talk far enough.

In radio school we had a corporal who taught us how to make field-expedient antennas from telephone wire and the plastic MRE spoons. The spoons acted as insulators for the antenna wires and kept the radio waves from going back into the ground. When I think about how bootleg my methods were, it wasn’t too far of a stretch from the duct tape and bailing wire I was accustomed to using when fixing a tractor or a pickup truck.

After running some calculations and figuring out what frequencies I needed, I measured out the length of wire. I then used a compass to shoot an azimuth and point me in the direction of my Nigerian counterparts. We erected two 25-foot aluminum flag poles about 100 feet apart and attached our plastic spoon insulators before stringing the wires up between them. We then connected our amplifier and got the radio system grounded (400 watts is a lot of power, and we didn’t necessarily feel comfortable getting shocked by it).

We fired up our generator, punched in our frequencies, and connected the handset to the radio. I crossed my fingers as I keyed out and let the radio couple itself to the antenna. My heart was pounding as I spoke into the handset with the call-sign of the Nigerians we were trying to raise.

Seconds went by and I began to feel a swell of disappointment well up in my stomach. It didn’t work.

But then – a break in the static; a thickly accented voice came through the handset, responding to my call-sign. I’d set out to do something and made it work with what I had. With all of the technology and equipment the U.S. military spends its money on, all it took was a bit of telephone wire, some plastic spoons, and a Nebraska ranch kid borrowing from his neighbors."

Morse Code / Re: Yaesu CW Filters
« on: July 10, 2018, 12:06:50 PM »
I work CW almost exclusively and had the narrowest (250Hz) filter in my FT817s through the years. It made the 817 into a very good CW transceiver.  I highly recommend it for CW operators.

RadioRay ...- .-

General Discussion / Re: Passed my Intermediate Exam last night!!
« on: June 28, 2018, 09:54:23 PM »
Nicely done, Andy!  I'm very excited for you and have enjoyed your posts.  Radio is a delightful hobby, often a useful tool and once 'infected', an incurable MANIA!

73 de RadioRay  ..._  ._

General Discussion / Gil is a Time Traveler - PROOF! (atachment)
« on: June 18, 2018, 09:50:41 PM »
I KNEW there was something 'different' about Gil.... Now we ALL know!

//Click on attachment to expand picture. //

General Discussion / Re: Hawaii , Alternative Power Source and CW
« on: June 17, 2018, 09:38:39 AM »
That was thirty meters, CW. I like that band very much and will likely enjoy it more once we have returned to coastal Virginia, and my tall trees for antenna support!  CW , like small, seaworthy sailboats, become MORE useful as weather and infrastructure deteriorates:  "Anti-Fragility" in action.


General Discussion / Hawaii , Alternative Power Source and CW
« on: June 16, 2018, 02:03:57 AM »
Once again, I enjoyed a nice chat in Morse with AH6V who lives on Hawaii.  Listening to his previous conversation, he mentioned that he is 45 miles from the volcano, so no trouble. Electrical power is no issue for him, because he has been living off grid for decades.  His antenna is a dipole, high and in the trees and my antenna is not at all good for long range, being a full wave , horizontal 80m loop up only 5 meters at the support poles, sagging to 3 meters at some points in between.  We discussed his large solar power system, which powers even his refrigeration & etc. -vs- my small sailboat sized system and the work shop/ham shack that it powered. 

Radio is simply amazing and the BEST 'communications computer' is your brain.

73 de RadioRay ..._  ._

Morse Code / Re: The article that inspired me to learn code
« on: May 28, 2018, 12:52:55 AM »
Found it on The Wayback Machine -

Pt. 1 -

Pt. 2 -

It's heart-warming to know that these articles helped you. Thanks for mentioning it.

RadioRay  ..._  ._

Morse Code / Re: Can Morse Code Still Save You?
« on: May 23, 2018, 11:28:11 PM »
The RBN "SOS" search and report is a very good idea. It would at LEAST report to some internet 'DX List' to get ears onto it.  L:et's hope that they don't simple send "599 tu" .


Radio Reviews, Questions and Comments. / Re: Got my 1st CW rig
« on: May 23, 2018, 11:15:44 PM »
I am OFFICIALLY jealous!  Really though, that is a superb bargain and the MTR of any variety is a superb CW rig, especially with your extras in the bargain. Once 'bitten' by the simnple and robust effectiveness of CW, you'll be hooked. This is a station that you can EASILY take with you on outings.

>RadioRay  ..._  ._

Technical Corner / Re: Modding MTR4b for 13.8 volts..... possible ?
« on: May 18, 2018, 09:56:16 PM »
If you simple need a voltage drop (not a current drop!) a couple of garden variety diodes usually give you a 0.9 volt drop per diode.  So, your 13.7ish can RUNNING can have diodes in the power line to drop it below 12 VDC , using your /cigar' lighter/power plug in the car.  I have a bunch of 1N400X series power supply diodes I've de-soldered from junk power supplies, which used for this at no cost.

>RadioRay  ..._  ._

Antennas / Re: Magnetic loop antenna.
« on: April 24, 2018, 09:46:54 PM »
I had FCC add 'narrow band telegraphy' on my marine SSB license many years ago, so was able to talk with Rene' from WLO once, during Night of Nights on marine freqs when I lived aboard.  That was fun. Unfortunately, I received that after they stopped issuing the 4 letter ship's calls to 'voluntarily equipped' vessels, so my call sign in Marine Morse was about a foot and a half long - ha ha.

13.8VDC at 5 Amps = 69 Watts to produce a 5 Watt signal.  Receive current is also too large for real field work., unless you're vehicle mobile or drag it to the nearby operating area , then back to the car. It's a matter of what you prefer, but I prefer portable.


Most (all?) of these WSPR/JT modes require precise time base, which is usually synchronized by  internet or GPS. As long as we have one or the other, it's viable. A canned massage is used in some of the modes, and can be replaced with a message of choice, but limited to (13?) characters.  That is why I did not pursue it: need for external time base for everyone participating.  In fast, there is significant privacy if you could coordinate to use a time offset from the normal start sequence of 00 seconds each minute. I know the arguement that 'You can set it by hand, using WWV" and yes, BT&DT, but it's not as easy as it sounds, considering the lag on a laptop in setting time... there is usually a slight delay and ALL the other station would have to do it as well.  Please understand that I am VERY impressed with anything that operates at -28dB compared to noise, but with proper band/time choice, does that matter?

An asynchronous version of even a dozen letters could have it's use, though dependent on having a computer of some type.

For me, the first question is " what is the goal?".  If' it's Worked All Outhouses on 630 meters, then these modes are fine. If it's the ability for conversation - it's difficult.  If a simple SOS and Lat.Long, they are fine as long as the Size Weight And Power can be accommodated.

One milliWatt output ! This began by using modulation and Forward
Error Correction schemes, from hams who developed the methods to retrieve data from
deep space probes. Talk about QRP 



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