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Topics - gil

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Tactical Corner / EMP protection, what to put your Faraday cage?
« on: September 08, 2012, 02:27:07 AM »

Aside from a few handhelds and one or two HF radios, there are other electronic items that should be protected as well. One of them, seldom thought about, is a solar powered scientific calculator. I have a feeling that they would be priceless in a reconstruction effort.. I would also include a couple small solar charge controllers. And why not, cheap Casio watches for everyone in the family, with a bunch of spare batteries. What else would be vital to have?


General Discussion / Moved to a new server. Please read.
« on: September 06, 2012, 01:13:35 AM »

I moved Radio Preppers to a virtual server in Iceland. There is still a glitch with avatars, which disappeared all together! You also won't be able to re-upload yours until the problem is fixed. If you notice any other weird software behavior, please send me a private message. An army of Vikings is working on the avatar problem right now. Best part is, they answer email in less than five minutes! Talk about competition in the service industry...

If you have or need a site, you should give them a try:

Web hosting in Iceland -

Antennas / The Antenna Dipper.
« on: September 04, 2012, 12:07:43 AM »
A well tuned antenna will make your radio hear better and reach further. It will also avoid damage to the final transistor(s) that amplify the signal to the antenna. That is why you can't plug in any length of wire to a transmitter without some kind of tuner. It is always best though to operate without a tuner if you can. Antenna length depends on frequency. The higher the frequency, the shorter the antenna, and vice-versa. The usual method of making an antenna is to leave it a little longer than required, and measure how much power is radiated versus how much power returns to the transmitter. Ideally, all the power generated should be radiated. The measuring instrument that does this is the SWR meter (Standing Wave Ratio). You plug it in between the antenna and the radio.

The problem with the SWR meter is that you actually have to use your radio and transmit a signal to find out the correct antenna length (by trimming it inch-by-inch). You can only transmit a couple seconds at a time (in case the SWR is dangerously high), and at reduced power if possible. So how do you tune your antenna if you don't have a license yet or don't want to draw attention by broadcasting while tuning? Here comes the antenna dipper!

The best way would be to use an antenna analyzer, which is a combination of radio frequency generator and SWR meter. Some models do much more, like displaying a graph. These gizmos however start at around $250. As much as some good radios! The advantage of the antenna analyzer as well as the dipper is that the signal used to measure SWR is very weak. Not much gets out.

The antenna dipper is much cheaper and works quite well. You just don't get a fancy display of your SWR. All you have is a frequency display and LED to show where your antenna is tuned.

The one I built is the "Deluxe Tenna Dipper" from At $85 it is much cheaper than an analyzer. It was easy to build and works quite well. You plug it in your antenna wire and turn the frequency dial until the light goes out. The frequency then displayed is your resonant frequency. That's it! If the displayed frequency is higher than you want, you need to lengthen the antenna, if is is lower, you shorten it... Nothing else to it. It goes up to about 30MHz.

The Hendricks kits are quite good (I am not associated with them), and work very well. I have built the SOTA tuner, SWR indicator and the DC20B CW transceiver. They all worked just fine. I highly recommend the SOTA tuner for low power operations (max 5W)!

I had some safety-orange spray paint left over, and it worked out well.

So, before you spend $300 in an antenna analyzer, or risk frying your new radio's finals by trying to tune you wife's clothesline, think about the simple antenna dipper. While not necessary (A $30 SWR meter works fine), it does save the experimenter a lot of time. You can leave the dipper on and look at the LED while at the other end trimming wire. No need to involve your eye-rolling significant other  ::) The LED is quite bright. If you want to tune an antenna for best reception without transmitting a signal, it is, with an analyzer, the only way to go. I found out that my CB antenna (Solarcon I-MAX2000) not only works for CB (11m), but also 10m and 15m! 10m I suspected would work, but I had no idea 15m would. Surprisingly, 12m does not..

I love building antennas and this little guy is great!

It doesn't mean I won't end-up buying an antenna analyzer (Ten-Tec sells a neat el-cheapo Chinese model with color screen), but right now money is tight, and the "Tenna Dipper" does it's job...

General Discussion / Please Help Promote Radio Preppers.
« on: September 03, 2012, 12:15:46 PM »

Radio Preppers can use your help in promoting the site. Budget for advertising is essentially zero and the site certainly doesn't pay for itself and I want to keep ads to a minimum. It is a one-man-band. So please, do not hesitate to mention us to your friends and on other prepping forums, Youtube videos, etc. Just don't overdo it, and do not send anything that could remotely be considered spam. We need to gather knowledgeable people here; it is a numbers game. Thank you.


Morse Code / Starting the Morse Code Board.
« on: September 03, 2012, 02:10:26 AM »

I am creating this board based on my opinion that Morse Code might be the ultimate communication mode when it comes to prepping. Sure, Morse Code is hard to learn (for me anyway) and somewhat slow compared to other modes (though that can be argued..), but it has many advantages...

- Morse code can be used not only with radio but with visual signals such as light, laser, sound, touch, the detailed list would be long.
- Morse doesn't need a lot of power to cut through the ether.
- A telegraph system is easy to set-up using new or existing wire infrastructures and insures privacy.
- Is is inherently more private than voice modes.
- CW-only radios are cheap and small, with low current drain.
- With an appropriate key and earphones, it allows to transmit messages silently.

Feel free to add more...

I use two training tools to learn Morse Code: The ham Morse iOS application, and There are many more.

In my opinion, Morse Code should not only be preserved but promoted in the prepping community at large as a great emergency communication mode.


Technical Corner / I Built an Elecraft K2.
« on: August 30, 2012, 03:00:18 PM »

My K1 worked so well, I built a K2! It took me thirty hours over three days. Everything works, but I am now battling a lack of sensitivity, especially on 20m. I do have full output power on all bands however. The kit wasn't harder than the K1, it just took longer. Right now it is the basic version, but I plan on adding the auto tuner, SSB card, audio filter board and internal battery kit.

Control board and front panel, end of day 1:

RF board, end of day 2, receiver subsection.

My happy Elecraft family:

Hopefully the sensitivity problem will be easy to fix, I just have to find the problem. I did have a bad solder joint on TR7 (the one missing on the RF board photo). Maybe the problem is related to it. I just don't have the time right now to troubleshoot. I will have to, because I want everything to work perfectly. As it is, my K1 receives much better than the K2, not cool.

I might yet build a KX1... That however, with the 40m SSB kit I am expecting from will be, for quite some time, the end of my radio building career. Then I'll start really using them! The more I am listening to HF and CW, the less I am interested in VHF...

I am not going to do a full review, there are plenty of sites that do, including Here are my impressions however:

As far a building goes, it was the same fun level as the K1. Everything fits, the manual is exemplary, the only thing missing was the rotary encoder nut and washer. I did use one from a discarded Gonset Communicator potentiometer, so that K2 has some historical parts!

The K2, while small, is still quite a bit bigger than the K1. For field use, especially backpacking, the K1 is king. The controls are very similar, so a K1 user will feel right at home with the K2. The alignment procedure for the K2 filters though is a pain. That said, once done, you won't have to do it again. People complain about the S-meter, I think it works great. You can lock your frequency, a feature I wish was available on the K1. I haven't played with the memory, scanning and other more complex functions.. That's why I do not want a KX3 or K3, too complicated. Even the K2 could be a bit simpler in my opinion. One thing I didn't like is how later modifications were added to the board without a redesign. Truth be told, the availability of through-hole components is becoming a problem. The K2 is probably on it's last leg. It came out in January 1999, almost 14 years ago! Incredibly, it still holds it's ground with modern rigs. The other problem I see for a QRP, emergency radio, is that the K2 is everything but waterproof. I would even dare to say "water inviting!" It would be totally unusable with the lightest of rain. That's when a good Pelican case is a must.

For a prepping radio, I would rather suggest a K1 or KX1, if you are willing to learn Morse code. The K2 however would be great for anyone wanting to bug-in. Add a solar panel with charge controller, and you're good to go. Always consider that you might have to relocate, and will have more important things to carry than a radio and the associated gear.

Have a great day  :)


General Discussion / Radio Preppers on Mobile Devices.
« on: August 27, 2012, 10:14:04 PM »

Now you can view the Radio Preppers forums on your mobile devices using the Tapatalk application!
I would also like your feedback on the new logo, thanks!


Tactical Corner / Ham Radio Fitness.
« on: August 21, 2012, 05:02:48 PM »
What do Ham Radio and fitness have in common? Nothing. That sometimes is a problem, especially if we are talking about prepping, which is the ?other half? of this site. Let's face it, the Ham population is rather large, and I don't mean in numbers... All those hours calling CQ eating doughnuts does take it's toll. I know, I know, there is SOTA and all, but I feel that we need to address the problem, or at least, mention it, at the risk of being chastised.

Let's not forget that the goal of emergency preparedness, the way I like to promote it, is about survival. Sure, playing with radios is fun, so is building them. But we are talking about ?radio prepping,? not just Ham Radio. There are other excellent forums that do that such as Eham or QRZ. They have ?emcomm? boards too, but those are more about you helping various agencies in dealing with emergencies. It works too, but I prefer a more direct approach, namely, getting information to save your own ass as well as family and friends. Which brings me to the question: ?How far and how fast can you move the former??

Prepping is not a selective activity. You work on the whole spectrum or nothing. I have seen videos of Preppers/Hams with all the equipment and food you could dream of but unable to run a hundred yards without busting a major blood vessel near the heart. We all have our medical problems and limitations, but there is always something to be done.

After I broke my femur in a motorcycle accident in 2004, I needed rehabilitation but could not afford it. So, I signed myself up for a Russian Martial Art class taught by an ex Russian Spetsnaz soldier. Yes, I do things a bit to the extreme sometimes.. I could barely come up the stairs to the classroom. I asked the guy ?Is my leg going to be a problem?? He looked back at me straight in the eyes and replied ?I don't give a shit.? There's Russian martial art for you.. To make a long story short, I worked around my injury. It was hard and painful, but now, I occasionally teach the class. I can do a one-legged squat on that side. I have other problems, my back in particular, but I don't force anything. Back hurts? Fine, I'll work on my legs or arms.

Getting older I noticed one thing: I move less, and I put on weight really fast. For me, that means no bread, no pasta, no sugar, and as little processed foods as possible. Sometimes, I break down and eat a whole can of ice cream. But all in all, I try to stay at a healthy weight, 190Lbs for 6'2''. I don't quit because I strayed a few times. It's not easy. Things that really matter usually aren't.

Why going through all this? For one, health. I don't have the greatest heart, and I want it to keep ticking as long as possible. Second, an emergency might mean relocating to a safer area. More often than not, that means on foot. I have a pretty heavy bug-out bag, carrying first-aid gear, water, emergency food rations, and a bunch of other stuff. It isn't very big, but it is packed full. Now I am adding radio to the mix, more weight. I want to be able to carry that bag for miles without excessive strain.

Like me, you probably tried dieting multiple times, or had bouts of frantic exercising, then gave up. When I decided to do the Beach Body P90X program, I almost gave up after a month. Though I felt better, I looked just the same, didn't lose much weight. But I kept on going. Two months later, what a change! I had never seen my abs before. I went from 205Lbs to 186Lbs, and added muscles. But boy, did the whole thing suck. The reason I was able to do it was because I used an exercise program, kept track of my food intake on, and stuck to it long enough to see results. I try to keep my food  proportions at 20% fat, 30-40% carbs and 40-50% proteins. It's much easier to do by having a protein shake once a day. Eat small portions five times a day, drink a lot of water. Stay far away from sugary drinks! Drink wine, not beer.

Like I said, I do things to the extreme sometimes. You don't have to do P90X! If you can, great, I recommend it. Diet and walking might just be enough for you. Just know that your body is not set in stone, and that no matter your age or current injuries, you can change it. Make sure you see your doctor and ask for advise on any medical conditions you might have. You don't want to make things worse. I also very highly recommend Yoga. No, it's not for girls only, and you don't have to dress like Ghandi. Yoga will give you strength and mobility you thought was a thing of the past.

There are many aspects to living a healthy and long life. We don't have the space here to elaborate. What matters is that your family should be able to count on you in a crisis. You might have to carry equipment, even an injured family member to safety without putting yourself at risk of a heart attack. Unless you are a paraplegic, I can guarantee you that there are ways for you to exercise. Ask a professional if you don't know what to do, or shop online for a program you might like. Remember that easy won't cut it. I hate exercising, but I force myself and I feel better for it. I know it will keep me alive longer than otherwise. That is why I don't plan of having a shack. I'll take my little K1 outside in the woods.
The human body is amazing. It can go from couch potato to mean-lean-killing-machine in months. The key is to keep at it, and not expect quick visible results. However, when a friend sees you after six months you might get a ?Woah!? or not even be immediately recognized. The grin on your face when the SHTF, priceless!


Tactical Corner / Sending Encrypted Messages in Morse Code.
« on: August 15, 2012, 10:54:01 AM »
In this article I will show you how to send an encrypted message that can not be broken. All you need is paper and pencil. With our privacy disappearing faster than the Mountain Gorilla, I thought that such knowledge might one day become more than a coffee shop conversation topic. I am referring to the One-Time-Pad described by Neal Stephenson in his novel, "Cryptonomicon." Highly recommended by the way. So, learn it and have fun with your kids. It's kind of like showing them how to start a fire without matches or lighter. It's fun, and who knows, they might have to use it some day..

By the way, this is one more reason to learn Morse code. You can't encrypt your voice, at least not without exotic hardware and software. After a natural or man-made disaster, our country could be a prime target for invasion. I know, extremely unlikely.. So thought many Europeans in 1939. Sending a coded message with a simple and small CW radio might one day be a life saver.

DO NOT send encrypted messages over the airwaves, it is illegal!

I have always been interested in encryption theory. Surprising, since I never liked puzzles or crosswords. Not to mention my poor math skills. For some reason I have always been driven to learn obscure, odd or outdated skills. Even though I am a programmer by trade, the level of complexity in encryption software is way over my head. I've had a PGP key for about fifteen years, but to my dismay, nobody ever sends encrypted messages but for the occasional server password; and that may have been two or three emails in ten years. Had I not insisted on it, I would have received none. You would think this feature would be built in every email program, but it isn't. You must add a plugin to your mail client, if one is even available. I know Evolution on Ubuntu has it built in, and Pegasus Mail on Windows has a plugin, my Mac does too. But computer encryption is not the subject today.

Let's see how it is done. It is pretty easy:

You need a way to produce random letters. These random letters will be the key used to code and decode the message. Do not rely on yourself or a computer to produce true randomness. Typing random keys on your keyboard doesn't work, it won't be truly random. Good for practice, but not for real messages. I would suggest putting letters from a Scrabble game in a bag and shake it vigorously. Pick one letter (without looking!), write it down. Put it back, repeat. Write down your pad in groups of five letters, like so:


You need as many letters as your intended message. Here is a one-time-pad generator, for practice (set group length and key length to 5).


Now, let's say your message is HELLO. Our first key group is GEXOJ.

HELLO is the message.
GEXOJ is the key, called a one-time-pad because it can be used for only one message.

We are going to count to the position of the letter H, but starting at zero, not one.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7........ Etc...

Here is the whole alphabet to help you:


Our first key letter is G, and G = 6.
Add the two: 7+6=13 = N.
We keep going: E=4 + E=4 = 8 which gives I.
L=11 + X=23 = 34 ! Ha, problem! The alphabet has only 26 letters.
No problem, when we hit 26, we go back to A. 27=B, 28=C, etc. So, 34=I.
L=11 + O=14 = 25 = Z.
O=14 + J=9 = 23 = X.

Here is another way to look at it:


Our secret message is NIIZX.

Now, let's decode it:
We do the same thing in reverse...
(If a number is negative then add 26 to make the number positive.)

Minus (key)6423149

The encrypted message is as random as the key is. Therefore, as far as I know, there is no code breaking method available that could possibly crack it. Your message is of course only as safe as the key. If the key is truly random, has not been seen by anyone except you and the recipient and was used only once then destroyed, then your message is safe!


Hello, I know this is a bit specific, but I am sure some new K1 builders might find it useful.

I heard about Spectrogram on the Elecraft email reflector, the PC version. Problem is, I wouldn't touch a Microsoft product with a ten foot pole. To my surprise though, there is an iPod application for $9.99. Bingo!

First I needed to set my transmit offset correctly. I first did it by ear, but it turns out that I was 50Hz off. Pretty good, but I like things to be "just so." I removed both top and bottom covers and flipped the tone switch to "Tune." I could hear the faint tone. I placed my iPod running Spectrogram near one earbud and could see the tone on the screen appearing and disappearing as I removed or replaced the earbud. I slowly turned C13 until the line perfectly aligned with the 600Hz mark. Next, I made sure my sidetone was also set to 600Hz under the Stp menu. Don't forget to flip the switch back to "Oper." Et voila!

To make sure your display shows the correct frequency, You can listen to either W1AW broadcasts on 7,047.5 or 14,047.5 kHz. See the ARRL web site for schedules. With Spectrogram on, you move the tune pot until you align their 750Hz tone with the same frequency on the screen. Then you go to the Cal menu and use the up/down buttons to set the displayed frequency to end in 47.5.

With WWV on 10mHz (30m), you move the tune pot until their tone matches your sidetone frequency on the screen, meaning, if you did set your tone to 600Hz, you move the tuning pot until their "main" tone (thicker line) shows on the 600Hz mark on the screen. If your display shows 10,000.6, you're right on.

I used W1AW first, then verified my setting with WWV. I was spot on. For $9.99, you get the assurance of being right on frequency. You can also use your app for zero-beating any station you hear. Priceless  ;)

Tactical Corner / Why QRP?
« on: August 12, 2012, 12:09:58 AM »
QRP means "low power operations." Usually, 5W CW (Morse Code), or 10W SSB (voice). Think of a 10W light bulb and how far it lights up your back yard at night... Not very far. A 5W CW signal though can cut through the ether like a divorce through your bank account. If 5W works fine, then wouldn't 100W work better? Sure, but there is no free lunch. Many preppers think that they will be able to stay home and ride TEOTWAWKI until the cows come home. If you live in a heavily guarded compound with lots of armed defenders, food and ammo, you might. But who does? There is a good chance that you may have to relocate a few times, or have to travel some distance to get food or other goods, reunite with family members (from whom you heard on the radio of course) and so on. Is that old 40Lbs tube-powered boat anchor going to help you?

Most QRP rigs can run forever on batteries so small, you can carry them in your pocket. They can be recharged from a flexible solar panel hung on your backpack. Sure, you might only run 5-10W, or even 1W, but after a few miles of walking, I can guarantee you that you will be throwing things away right and left, including that car battery you hoped to use to power your big Yaesu. Even mobile transceivers producing more than a few watts will require quite a power supply. Some allow to set their output power much lower, and that is great. You still need to look at receiver current draw. My Elecraft K1 draws 55mA on receive! A K2 draws 150mA, a Yaesu FT-817ND draws 450mA... Some radios draw much more. How heavy a battery are you willing to carry? I use the 2.9Ah model shown below, which is the maximum weight I am willing to carry for that purpose.

Then you have the matter of the antenna. You can't carry a disassembled vertical with you. For HF, you will need a substantial antenna, especially with low power. I find the end-fed dipole to be perfect. You can find the impedance matching boxes here: I made one, and it works great with a 35.5ft wire for 40 to 15m. Some models are single-band, without requiring a tuner. I plan on making more, you guys let me know if you want one. I get copper-cald steel wire (#532) from

I really don't want to carry any more than necessary. A trip started in decent conditions, given the circumstances, can quickly turn into hell in a New York minute. Even if you have a car, that might not last the whole way. Without rule of law, anything is possible. If you end-up on foot, make sure you can carry your gear at a fast pace for a while. Which brings me to another subject to explore in a future article: Are you in decent shape physically? Do you spend too much time on your favorite chair enjoying QSOs in you Ham shack, eating blueberry muffins? (I'm dying for one right now!). You can't prepare selectively. It might upset you to hear this, but unless you have valid medical reasons not to diet and exercise (one doesn't work without the other), you are fooling yourself.

Here is my first attempt at a "go-kit." I have a bug-out bag mind you, which is always a work in progress, that is another story. You are looking at an Elecraft K1, the above battery, a paddle mounted on a Rock-Mite 40 mini transceiver, and a wire antenna. Yes, there are two radios in that Pelican 1400 waterproof case. Even that I think is a tad too big. I plan on making a second kit with an SSB radio. Note that I always keep them in a grounded metal box for EMP protection.

I believe that when things really go bad, QRP is the way to go, for mobility reasons. It is also easier to hide a QRP transmitter. Take the Rock-Mite for instance, you could keep one in your jeans back pocket. Small 2m handhelds take little space. They are also in essence QRP rigs. Remember that you might be carrying your bug-out bag.. I have thought of buying a cart, just in case, but that would draw a lot of unwanted attention. "When All Else Fails," right? You need to prepare for that. Most hams or preppers do not.

Cost is also a major consideration, for me at least. There are quite a few other items I need to acquired before considering myself "ready." I am pretty far from it right now. In the meantime, the world seems to be going in the wrong direction at a rapid pace. So, the least I spend, still maintaining some standards, the faster I get ready. Buying small and light equipment is often more expensive (i.e. camping gear!), but fortunately that does not apply to radios. Look at the MFJ-94xx series for instance, they sell new for around $250, and you can occasionally find them for much less on Ebay. Much of the other stuff on Ebay is too heavy, but sometimes you stumble on a gem. I often search for "QRP," just in case. CW radios are the cheapest. A Rock-Mite mounted in an Altoids box might set you back $40, and will give you a nice minty breath! A Webber Tri-Bander kit costs $200 and outputs 5W. Ten-Tec sells a Chinese made CW transceiver for $249 (40/20m). A K1, the Ferrari of CW rigs, will set you back $300 to $530 (4-bands & auto tuner), and 30 hours of work. A Yaesu FT-817ND: $670. There is something for everyone.
As far as bands go, I am strongly leaning towards 40m, for CW and SSB. Why 40? Because it works most of the time, even during low solar activity. It works for long distance contacts as well as regional ones. A basic Technician license holder can use some of the CW portion of the band. The General license doesn't seem hard to get. I am already passing most of my practice tests on, and I read the book once. I'll go for both tests once I get my Morse Code up to speed. I know it isn't required, but since I want to operate mostly HF and CW, I am in no hurry. Honestly, the stuff I hear on 2m is pretty boring. My Yaesu Ft-270R handheld lives in a tin box in my closet somewhere, and I never take it out. I think the first Radio Preppers Net might end-up being on 40m... More on that in the near future. I thought about CB, but a Ham license is too cheap and easy not to get. Also, CB contacts are supposed to be with 250km, which isn't much. Nobody pays attention to that it seems, but why not respect regulations if there is no emergency..

Go QRP! If you can do it with 5-10W, then you can do anything.

Technical Corner / Looks like I found a base for my DCP paddle!
« on: August 11, 2012, 01:40:34 AM »

You need a good base for your paddle, right? Well, I bought the DCP paddle kit from American Morse ( it is a neat little paddle, works really well, doesn't cost much, and is easy to build. I needed to put it on something solid, and what could be better than my Rock-Mite 40? A marriage made in heaven. The Rock-Mite 40 is mounted in a Mity Box, also from American Morse. It is held in place by one screw through the lid, and I used little rubber feet from Radio Shack on the box. The paddle itself has some, so it doesn't move at all. Wherever I take my K1, I will have a CW transceiver backup! I am up to half the alphabet in my code learning endeavor...

Have a great Week-end  :)


General Discussion / Elitism in Ham Radio and Further Thoughts.
« on: August 07, 2012, 12:59:24 AM »
New preppers should be aware that, besides Ham Radio being a great hobby and potentially life-saving in an emergency situation, they might come across an elitist mentality that does a great disservice to the Ham community. I am new to Ham Radio, though not new to radio or electronics. I will have my license soon enough, with Morse code. I am taking my time, it might be two months, it might be a year. I respect regulations. I've built my own radio from a pile of components and circuit boards. Yet, I have been refused access to a couple Yahoo groups because I was not a Ham yet. From reading many Ham forums, I also get the clear impression that some Hams feel like having passed a test most ten-year-olds can pass is something to feel special about. You know the type.. A-personality, middle-aged, out of shape, who craves attention and thinks a call sign pin, orange vest and walkie talkie will bring them status and better self-esteem. Unfortunately, these people are an active group in Ham events. I just hope they don't teach their values and attitude along with their radio knowledge.

This forum will not be like that. I will make sure of it. Everyone with a good attitude is welcome here, and we'll help you out.

Hopefully we will set-up a communications network for large-area disaster preparedness and information sharing. You won't need an orange vest or strobe lights on your car, and there will be no reporting to any three or four-letter-word organizations. You won't have to pay for classes to be able to help your community if you want to. It isn't that I don't think these organizations won't try to help in a disaster, but I have doubts. When it hits the fan, we have to think of our families and friends. I couldn't be a first responder and leave the people I love most to go help some strangers. My hat is off to those who can do that, but it isn't for me.

Have you guys seen the movie or read David Brin's novel "The Postman?" Kevin Costner plays the postman. He isn't really a postman, but in a post-apocalyptic America, he finds a postman's jacket and uses it to his advantage to gain access to communities along his way. He does however start to carry mail and his work ends up being pivotal in the rebuilding of the country. Good book by the way, and the movie is pretty well done. I think radio would fill that role after a nationwide disaster. That is why it is important that every prepper community has the means to communicate.

Take care,


Technical Corner / The Retro-75 AM 75m Transceiver Kit.
« on: July 24, 2012, 09:17:55 PM »

Another success! I got a Retro-75 from Small Wonder Labs and a nice blue case from TenTec, put the whole thing together in a couple days. It works. 75m AM is good for regional communications, but requires a very long antenna... I haven't built one yet. That's around 120ft of wire, if I am not mistaking. The quality of AM voice is great.

The Retro-75 is crystal controlled, with two crystals of your choice on the board. That's what the A/B switch is. Transmit is keyed by switch or press-button. It is extremely simple to operate. Output power is 3W.

That's what I love about kits, they will give you a working transceiver for often less than $100, capable of long distance contacts. That way you're not eating into your other prepping supplies budget.


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