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Topics - RadioRay

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Morse Code / Sometimes Simple is Better
« on: June 12, 2014, 12:15:41 AM »
During a time when i had to focus all finances on my family - as is just the right thing to do- it left me with little to get on the air with.  Some haywired radio gear, which would never sell on E-bay is what was left.  So - haywiring I did and got it working fairly well. QRP gear from kits and a little home brew.  It worked and it was FUN!  As money loosened a little bit, I was able to build an amplifier so that friends in RF noisy cities could hear me better.  I usually hear them 'weak readable' because of the low noise here. That was fun - occasionally exasperating as I slowly made the amplifier more stable, but fun none the less.   Eventually money was close to normal again and I bought an IC-7200 .  It is excellent, I can do digital modes, it's a great shortwave receiver and etc.  You know what - I really miss the simpler gear and am tempted to return to my haywired station, and use the Big Rig money for something else.

Odd - eh?

Anyone else with this same mental problem, or is it only ME?    ;)


The Famous Goat Hiker Ham from Colorado has a sneek preview of the new 4 band CW/ssb  transceiver from LNR Precision.

It's brief and not technical, but good to see it.

>RadioRay ..._  ._

Morse Code / Morse Below One Watt -
« on: February 09, 2014, 12:10:18 PM »
There are those who telly ou that you MUST run 100 Watts or more - a kilowatt being essential for any serious/reliable radio station.  Then there are those who focus on antennas , quiet receivers and filters. Gil and I were chattering away on the radio, him with his 12 Watts and me with my 50'ish, testing my home brew amp.  I live in a rural, very low electrical noise area, so I can hear almost anything on the air.  Just for fun, Gil dropped hi power to 100 milliWatts (1/10th of a Watt). He was very weak but readable at 1/10th of a Watt! He increased to half Watt and it was quite usable.  At three Watts he was beginning to be considered strong and by 12 Watts he was s-8.  Wes Heywood, probably 'The Father' of wilderness QRP operations, did a lot of research and with the batteries of his day, 1/2 Watt - usually on 40 meter CW - was found to be quite reliable, assuming proper time of day, per distance was planned in advance.

This is no magic act.  Assuming an efficient antenna , it's just a matter of right time of day and band. Gil has a 1/2 wave , end fed wire and I have an 80 meter dipole - at 90 feet.  Of course, last year I was using a wire only 20 feet to the top, so for "only" a little over 800 miles, it's not that big of a deal.

The Point?  Cw is extremely efficient; the math shows a system gain for CW over voice of roughly 13-18 dB, depending upon who's numbers you are using. So, for the same reliability of transfer of intelligence you would need either 100 Watts SSB voice or 5 Watts CW.  I know personally which is easier to recharge in the field.  I have worked low power voice before, with my old PRC-74B manpack and with the little FT-817 and long ago with the 2 Watt Argonaut 505. It can be done.  However, I would STRONGLY encourage prepper hams to take-up CW.  You will not be disappointed.

73 de RadioRay ..._  ._


Morse Code / Hillarious! WWII Morse Code School ...
« on: January 31, 2014, 03:38:52 PM »
... for a team of RADAR experts who were reassigned & decided that they were not going to "learn" code, even though they were all high speed operators before being sent to basic Morse code school.

Very, very funny.

>RadioRay ..._  ._

Technical Corner / Implanted Bio/electric Generator - For QRP??
« on: January 24, 2014, 04:37:53 AM »
I saw this and naturally, I thought of Gil being able to recharge his QRP rig(s) while going about his day.

Too bad it would not work with my bum on the couch.

>de RadioRay ..._  ._

Ps. I wonder if, when on the air too long, you'd become TIRED?

General Discussion / On-Line Survival Summit - FREE - Begins 20JAN14
« on: January 20, 2014, 02:34:58 PM »
Ever want to GO to one of those week long, prepper's gatherings, but the travel was out of the question, or the cost?  Well, here is a way to do that for free.

This week, Survival Summit is having an on-line survival summit with what looks like excellent on-line seminars on everything from homesteading topics to hard-corps defense.  I tried to get my class in there "Alternate Income in Exotic Dancing for Old/Fat Engineers"

but they just smiled and turned away... hamm, I wonder what THAT was all about.

However, the summit information is here:

The Basic website is here:

Where you can register for FREE and begin learning. They repeat all the days videos from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. the next day so that we can pick times which work best for us to watch.

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

Technical Corner / Christmas Present
« on: December 22, 2013, 03:34:51 PM »
Due to conflicting work schedules and etc. we had our family Christmas today.  I score BIG in at least two ways:

1.   My Wife received food prep/dehydrating items & I love to eat...

2.   My present was a CW/SSB kit for 80 meters called the The Survivor.  A very small, 10 Watt 80 meter rig with VERY low ~50 mA receiver current. Maybe I can have it ready to check-in with The American Preppers Radio Network (TAPRN) SSB net which is on-air every Sunday night at 9 pm eastern from 3818 + for QRM. Listen for 'The Lady Net Control'.     :-X

Here is a link to the kit:

3.   To go along with my BIG love of small radios, my Wife gave me a Morse Express Christmas Key -

So, my workbench is cleared (not necessarily 'clean') and it's time to begin building...

Merry Christmas to You All,


Technical Corner / RockMite Rides AGAIN!
« on: December 20, 2013, 10:55:43 PM »
For those who don't know the RockMite transceiver, it's a single frequency, HF CW transmitter/receiver with built in keyer for under $30. I have made many contacts with mine on 20 meters with it's MIGHTY half Watt. Unfortunately, K1SWL who made these and many other excellent kits available down through the years, retired his business and the mighty RockMite went extinct - - - temporarily.

The good folks at are continuing Dav'es RockMite tradition at their website, offering their updated RockMite kits at the link below. Until the end of the year, the price is $40 with TWO sets of crystals.

How cool is THAT?

72 de RadioRay ..._   ._

Morse Code / A Matter of Expectations // Morse Code, QRP and Communication
« on: December 02, 2013, 02:36:12 AM »
In a world with cheap, global and easy to use communication via a smartphone in our shirt pocket, to many people, all this business of ham radio and Morse Code is just over-the-top "stupid".  I mean, why would a person want all  that hassle when cellphones are so reliable - right?

Well, the fact of the matter is that cell phones ARE amazingly reliable, versatile and handy - until one moment they stop. It's rare when it does - but I've been through it more than a few times. There is also the aspect that there ARE places in the US where the is simply no coverage - not a few low spots, but entire regions of the West have no coverage and likely never will - because the population density is too low to make a profit. Remember the silicon valley guy who died after taking a wrong turn in a winter storm in Nevada?  No cell coverage, but a sub $100 QRP rig would have been excellent.

There is also the question of what it means to 'communicate'.  Yes - there are some who just get on the radio and talk about absolutely nothing for hours - maybe all night, like a teenaged girl on the phone.  Listen to 80 meter SSB at night.  Some of it would make a maggot gag. Back to topic though; for a prepper, communication is usually more like texting, rather than the endless discussion of little or nothing.  Communication for content is like texting.  A message like :


Could be the most important message in your life, determining your travel/relocation plans.   or


... or even just a SITREP from camp - which we've done among ourselves on more than one occasion.

Next up is the level of comms to discuss local and world events and their possible impact and even full conversations about everything from politics to - yes - radios. We DO build radios to talk about radios we would like to build. ha ha 

In short - real communication, without dependence upon commercial infrastructure can be accomplished with amazingly portable rigs, available for less than the cost of a monthly cell phone bill - per month.  It's not as easy, nor as flexible, but it's something to think about. (or to talk about on the radio...)

Your thoughts?

>RadioRay ..._ ._

I thought that I should make a video of my version of Elecraft's KX1, since I've been putting out the word that it's for sale.  Frankly, after making this video and playing around with it on the air, I am questioning whether to sell it, but I do need money for my next BIG project.  We're hams, so we all know how THAT goes!     ;)

Either way,  here is a YouTube link to a quick video I made showing my "UP-ARMORED" KX1 in action.

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._

Classifieds / Up-Armored KX1
« on: November 25, 2013, 12:18:12 AM »
My Uber-Trail-Friendly KX-1 is...

I changed my mind, but I'll leave this posting up for posterity.

I have reached the point where I am no longer 'mobile' enough to really make good use of my field survivable KX1. . .

Water proof 'kayaker' box made by Otterbox, with a custom made aluminum hardware mounted inside of the case to fit the custom made front panel of this KX1 transceiver.  This is not merely a KX1 in a Pelican case. The waterproof case is an integral part of the transceiver and water tight when closed. You can literally place it on the ground, unlatch the lid, hook up your wires, power ON and start operating. (Be certain to light your pipe and pour your Cointreau first ...)

I have mounted 50 mA/Hr solar panels to the top of the case which trickle charge 9x 1500 mA/Hr NiMH cells which are hot glued inside of the case.  There is a reason for the hot glue. I had used AA battery holders in the past, but found that even the best would 'loose' the batteries if the rucksack had even a minor bump.  I had a trip with bush pilot that not only did that to a (different) rig & loose its AA cells, one of his helpers knocked the optics on one of my weapons out of zero while tossing gear into the aircraft. Not a good thing in moose and griz country.

 He was a great pilot though and more than a little crazy. On our return filght out of the wilderness, he set us down right onto the numbers at the little return airport after doing a hammerhead stall above the end of the field - just to see if my buddy and I would crap our pants.  That was some great flying, we recorded it and it's in a survival video we were crew on,  so it was worth it.

Alkaline batteries drop voltage quickly with use, even when still technically 'charged'. Considering that NiMH cells should last for several YEARS of recharges. By using low current solar panels on top, I do not use a charge regulator, allowing the batteries to charge directly from the mini-solar cells at C50 maximum. (i/e the literature says that is too little current to fry the NiMH batteries) .  The KX1 has a built in voltmeter and voltage warning, so that it's VERY easy to monitor the charge state of your internal batteries from the front panel.

KX-1 Options installed:

> Elecraft KX1 80, 40, 30, 20 meters

> Elecraft internal, automatic antenna coupler

> Palm Paddles mounted & protected on the face plate.
(see pictures - better than Elecraft paddles, in my opinion.)

> External power via Anderson PowerPole connector on top panel.
(Note: KX1 comes stock with circuitry that automatically switches to whichever power source is higher voltage: internal batteries or external power. Pretty good thinking on their part!)

> Padded, well fitting, cloth case, containing slant wire antenna with weight, counterpoise wire, small emergency 12 volt Lithium battery incase you loose all other power. (It's an EMERGENCY radio - right?!?)

> The KX-1 manual is available on-line at the Elecraft site. 

>>> My ear buds have been IN my ears - You DON'T want them!  I will leave them out. ha ha

>>>  I was considering a trade or partial trade for an HF transceiver. I am thinking an FT-857 , IC-7200 or a classic 1956 Vincent Black-Shadow 1000cc motorcycle in showroom condition... :^)  might be a possibility.

I am looking for an HF mobile, preferably with a remotable control head, so let's talk. If you THINK you have an idea of a trade - please e-mail me through this forum and we'll try to strike a bargain.I will list this KX1 here for a few days, then send it onto the usual on-line auction sites, sit back and watch the carnage.  I would rather sell it here - to keep it 'in the family'. Because there is nothing like this on the market, the NEW price is  ...

...  personally delivered to your door by Scarlett Johanssen (or other representative)

73 de RadioRay ..._  ._

Technical Corner / It Powers Your QRPp Rig AND Froths Milk for Cappuccino!
« on: November 04, 2013, 12:29:31 AM »
I saw this, and immediately thought of Gil .... and cappuccino!

I love it -

de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / American Blackout - by National Geographic
« on: October 29, 2013, 09:52:20 PM »
NatGeo had this program on Sunday night.  I think that because of this program, the Preppers (TAPRN) HF voice net had three people...  instead of the dozen or more that we usually have. I have read reviews about this TV 'docudrama' that it is "GREAT!" and also that it's a "piece of %$^&!" and all kinds of opinions in between.  Having not watched it, I have no opinion, but here is a link to YouTube where someone posted the full TV program.  Who knows how long it might be available.

>>> Because there is a 'prepper' in this TV show.  I am expecting him to do very, very poorly, because that's what TV teaches us, but maybe this will be different...

de RadioRay ..._ ._

Digital Modes / E-Mail Over Radio for Preppers
« on: October 28, 2013, 01:26:13 AM »
I had written this as part of a long winded (just my style ... ) hijacking of a thread about something else entirely.  So - what the heck - let's just plop it into the correct venue and see if a discussion develops.

--- Ray
(Able to type faster than the speed of thought!)

---- Original Post Follows ----

Form fits function.

One of the most exasperating things I see from "preppers" when they write about 'ham radio' is that they are virtually always discussing HandiTalkies.  HT's are - welllll, "handy". but frankly there is little difference between a 2 meter HT and a MURS HT (though ham HT's are usually good scanners).  Both are mid-VHF , FM HT's.  It's often missed that we hams have many different tools for different tasks. I like the layered approach.

For baseline, high reliability and low cost of entry and sustaining, there is nothing like CW QRP and etc. This works very well for both high mobility scenarios, when a person might have to be on the move (a BAD situation, BTW) or from home.  The next layer is more of a 'social layer' and is found in the various HF SSB voice nets which are on the air right now and the general conversation with hams from your area and also distant regions.  Whether for strictly listening or for interaction, I've found voice comms handy when getting local area reporting about an event, as opposed to wha tthe controlled media will tell you.  However, the information is only as good as the source - or less...

The next layer up is one I prefer to just jump directly to, and that is the HF e-mail over radio.  If you are in the situation where you can keep a laptop alive and have a rig capable of running sound card modes, you are entirely able to participate in e-mail over radio. There are tremendous advantages to this in convenience, because you may not be able to meet at the same time and same frequency every day.  Secondly, because it's true e-mail you can link with both hams and non-hams, if the internet is operating outside of your impacted area.  If the internet is down universally, then you can either send/receive your message traffic automatically through a digital 'mailbox' or directly with the station your choose to communicate with.  Naturally, because the two prime e-mail over radio modes are full error correcting modes, there are NO GARBLES, you know when a message is delivered, you can send ANY digital file which you can currently send over internet, including pictures, .doc files and etc.  That can be handy. An e-mail over radio system allows you to send/receive your radio traffic when it's convenient for YOU.  The #1 killer of skeds and nets is people not getting on the air at the right times/freqs and the propagation not being good for everyone in the net.

>>>  If you want to do more than point-to-point communication with a few people, then the e-mail over radio is a superb solution (WINMOR is FREEware) >> if << you are able to make use of both a radio transceiver capable of HF sound card modes AND keep a laptop alive. That last part can be very difficult on the run, but  not so tough from a stable location.

All this being said, you do, Do, DO want to keep your 'baseline communication' operational.  If the computer dies, if it locks-up due to stray RF from a quick-up antenna and etc. you'll want to be able to reach for the key and continue to communicate.  It's also a matter of how much message traffic you are going to be NEEDING to exchange.  If you're like Gil and I in our CW skeds, with conversation and the occasional SMS LIKE short message being passed, then CW will absolutely support that and a lot more, allowing the tiny QRP rigs to be your easily maintained baseline.  If on the other hand, the goal is to relay news and information (intelligence) verbatim, to several stations and to do it efficiently, then the e-mail over radio can send those bulletins for you auto-magically when your network stations check-in.  This works - it's been going on for decades on the HF bands.

In short - use what works but ALWAYS keep a last ditch (base line) communications method that requires very little in the way of energy budget and etc. so that you can communicate enough to keep in touch with those you must and also to have the occasional chat one the air with others as you see fit.  Radio communication is a powerful tool - the fact that we enjoy it as a 'hobby' is simple icing on the cake.

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / Eham Forum: Video about Preppers Using Ham Radio
« on: October 23, 2013, 03:18:56 PM »
This just showed-up.  Might be fun to watch,  It's CERTAINLY fun to comment on...

de RadioRay ..._ ._

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