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Messages - RadioRay

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Licensing / Re: How many here are already licensed?
« on: September 23, 2012, 08:46:40 PM »
Dave Benson designs some great rigs.  I have my old SW40+ from 1999, in a aluminum clam shell case that I got at a surplus store for under a buck.  I was leaving on a 9 days survival trip with Hoods Woods into the No Return Wilderness and built this in a day and a half...  Not my best work, but it's still working, all these years later.

I just landed some cash from selling my big rig, so plan to do more building and like you (Gil)  I am thinking of a small, mono-bander, likely with a EndFeds type antenna coupler for quick QSOs with a half wave wire in the air.


Ps.  XTAL control makes it MUCH more difficult to make QSO's but entirely do-able with patience.  A VXO of even 10-20 KHz swing can change that entirely with not much change in parts count.

Licensing / Re: How many here are already licensed?
« on: September 23, 2012, 06:36:47 PM »
Funny how the 'inverse' rule works:

I used to work in very highly complex military robotics research.  The work WAS fascinating and sometimes FUN.  However, when it came to my life away from work, on my little sailboat, I specifically did NOT want anything high-tech aboard.   None of the CRAP that you see in Sailing World with the chromed everything & paid bikini models on the cover. (Well, the girls aboard are fine, and no need for bikinis... ;)   This is for many reasons, not the least of which is survivability of 'simple tech' and frankly the opportunity to keep it simple while learning new skills. If I wanted complex high tech, I could go work some overtime.

Same-same in ham radio. I appreciate the ability for digital modes to make some aspects of HF communications convienent. HOWEVER, I truly enjoy the sheer efficiency of CW (Morse code) for long range communication. It is a joy to use skill, rather than money to solve a problem.  It's a joy for me to never have to re-boot my hand key or have an essential laptop prevent my transceiver from working...   It is a joy to have a conversation with someone in an elegant manner, using a home brewed, simple radio, with a wire tossed into a tree for an antenna while out camping.  I cannot remember ever having someone take the time to tap out an obscenity in Morse, though I hear it often in SSB voice. The ability to build a tiny transceiver into a pipe tobacco tin and tap code to a fellow camping almost 700 miles away using it on battery power is still simply amazing to me, even after doing it for forty years. I also know that it works - when all else fails.

If it's too much like work, why do it for fun?  If work was so great, they wouldn't have to PAY us to do it, now WOULD they?

:)   >>>This sermon is available on CD for a $30 offering...  <<<   :)

de RadioRay ..._ ._

Ps.  Simple like this :

and this ...

Morse Code / Re: My first QSO ever!
« on: September 22, 2012, 11:50:36 AM »
Now is Gil SHOWING-OFF or what?

Novice: Wow!  I just Talked with a guy in Kentucky on SSB voice with my 100 Watt, TS-540 and beam antenna!   :D

Gil:  Pardonez vous , but MY first QSO was using a wire out the window for an antenna & QRP CW on a radio that I built myself, across the entire Atlantic ocean with FRANCE!    ;D

Maaaaan - some guys just REALLY know how to get started in ham radio!   ha ha ha! 

Congratulations Gil !


Tactical Corner / Re: SHTF situation, when would communications take place?
« on: September 22, 2012, 09:42:56 AM »
For backwoods use, 80, 60 & 40m are great for 'work' related communications: keeping track of who is where in the multi-State region and etc.  At night, it can go continental and intercontinental on 40m, ( as you know. )

Early mornings are a good time to be tapping code, the radio and wire antenna being the last things to go into the rucksack before hitting the trail.

>RadioRay ..._ ._

Tactical Corner / Re: SHTF situation, when would communications take place?
« on: September 21, 2012, 10:11:15 PM »
When I was operating out of a rucksack in the United States, I'd make my skeds for the first few hours of sun light.  There are many factors in choosing your time and the first is that for the same frequency, different times of day deliver different distances... but this was for longer range comms from Idaho back to a Buddy in Colorado (1,000 miles):

40 meter - early mornings = longer range:
1.  I am fresh after a night's sleep.
2.  Interference from T-storms is minimal in the morning hours. (more important in the summer and in the south).
3.  The bands were less far crowded in the early morning hours.
4.  Long range night time propagation was still largely happening in the first hour or so after sunrise.

For close in - 0 - 300 miles skeds, I usually made the sked after the lunch break, but before we donned rucks again.  This is because the "NVIS"  (Near Vertical Incident Skywave)  propagation was now better on 40m  because the ionosphere had been charging for several hours - SO I could use 40m and shorter antennas in the noon/early after noon period, to get the same range I'd have on 80m late night/early morning, but the dipole is only HALF the size to use on 40m at thist time of day, so easier to erect in trees and tangling ground cover.  A low dipole, from head high or so, was all that I needed to call friends within the same state.

Antennas were generally a dipole, or if the path had generally good, I could run a a slant wire right out of the top of the antenna coupler with 'ground' (counterpoise) wire along the ground.  However, it takes very little time to put a dipole into the trees at head height and higher.  A rock in a sock tied to a line is about as high tech as that method requires.  For long range comms, I'd make the time put up a HIGH dipole when we made camp in the late afternoon and use it in the morning, then tear down for the hike out.

My dipole wires were wound on chaulk-line reels as found in t hardware stores.  MUCH easier to deploy and recover wire antenas in the tangle of branches and ground cover.  These days I'd use ladder line instead of coax, but at lower frequencies RG-8 mini and even RG-174 on the lower bands works fine.
Another antenna that I hear GOOD thing about is a half wave end fed antenna.  This means only getting one wire into the three.  I have not measured signal strength in an A/B manner between these and a dipole.  However, many, many back country QRP (low power) people are using half wave wires now to reduce weight, time and clutter.  YMMV and I do not know this personally, but the math works as far as I can see it.

Power output was generally 2 Watts on forty meters.  These days I have a fancy KX-1 with four bands and a built-in auto-coupler for using almost anything as an antenna, but the dipole is still first choice due to it's HIGH efficiency.

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

Tactical Corner / Re: Disinformation
« on: September 21, 2012, 09:51:19 PM »
1.  What is it that you're trying to accomplish/what problem are you trying to solve.

2.  Does the disinformation have high enough likelihood of causing more good than harm?

3.  If I put a community of thousands into a paniced evacuation of a safe area, because they heard on the radio that they are int he path of a plume, this will likely result in the death of more than a few of them.  I would be morally responsible for murder if I sent this transmission, knowing that it was false information.

4.  Seems better to use our radio for sentries, patrols, FOB's and etc. for detection and reporting of actual threats back to base and for coordination of movement and fire power.

5.  There is also the factor of whether looters are running any sort of radio intercept and analysis operations... (re: #2)

6.  How about using your own intercept/DF teams to exploit what you hear from possible radio comms of organized looters?  If they're tech savvy enough to be running communications intercept operations , then you can bet that they have some higher grade than usual comms procedures, which by itself, would make them stand-out, unless they're running spread spectrum or other difficult to intercept modes - but that usually means keys & time synch for use and the logistics chain to keep it all operating:  possible, but not probable, in other than blister pack radios like the XMS freq hopper radios for very close range handi-talkie work.

I've seen ugly things in 'reconnaisance by fire', so like any other weapon, make certain that you're not killing friendlies and neutrals with information warfare, before you 'pull that trigger'. 

>RadioRay ..._ ._

Licensing / Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« on: September 16, 2012, 11:38:16 AM »
In forty years of hammming and MORE in shortwave radio, I have not yet taken a direct hit from lightning.  I did however, have nearby strikes cause damage to my mobile radio, likely because of the 16 foot military whip antenna...

As a precaution, I only have the antenna plugged in to the radio when I am operating.  There is no need to have it IN when not operating, so why take the chance of damage froma bolt out of the blue?  So far, no loss of a house hold radio.  The direct strike is not the most likely cause of damage.  Being in the area near a strike causes a 'surge' which a long antenna can pick-up and bring down ito your radio, damaging components.  You won't know it, until you try to use the radio. 

>RadioRay ..._ ._

Digital Modes / Re: The JT65 Digital Mode
« on: September 14, 2012, 07:44:34 PM »
"I want, I DEMAND better mileage!  "

You GO , Man!   ;D   For me, WINMOR has provided coast to caost transfers at good speeds.  TAPRN has a BBS in the center of the nation in Oklahoma (W0ECM-10) and it's done yeoman service for me for the many months since he put it ont he air.  I am in coastal Virginia, so it's quite a long shot, but great covaerage.  Antenna here is a 130 foot flat top 'dipol'e at 40 feet, fed with open wire line to a CHEEP MFJ antenna coupler.  The main thing that I found was to ensure that audio is not not over driven. Other than that, it's worked VERY well for me and for Buddies in a peer-to-peer (I.T. speak for ham-2-ham) use as well as servicing e-mail over radio.

Like you, I've run AMTOR and eventually, PACTOR III aboard the sailboat and from my remote cabin in Idaho for years.  WINMOR is close to that in performance.  It's not as fast and won't quite operate into the noise level as far as the hardware based PIII, BUT it's FREE, which fits my budget just  fine.

A good WINMOR to WINLINK station for you might be the W0ECM-10 on it's 7 MHZ freq (which I cannot remember off the top of my head.), but it's in the new frequency listing that is part of your WINOR/RMSexpress software.

de RadioRay ..._ ._

Digital Modes / Re: The JT65 Digital Mode
« on: September 14, 2012, 03:48:40 PM »
OLIVIA and CONTESTIA (similar to each other, but CONTESTIA is CAPS only and faster for the same bandwidth used) are both amazing modes as is MT63.  All of these Forward Error Correction modes (FEC) have significant improvement in readability by greatly reducing garbles, even compared to the very useful and popular PSK-31.  Digital modes also exist for 'e-mail over radio' -that is,  non-real-time , store & forward mail systems ,basically, it's an on the air bulletin board system.  TAPRN operates a WINMOR on-the-air BBS right now and it is usable from coast to coast.  The system scans pre-selected frequencies in several bands automatically, so that stations have a VERY good chance of signing in and checking mail & bulletins at any time of day, rather than waitig for the one or two times per day that a particular band might be open between them an the BBS.  Also, because there is more than one BBS, you have a choice.

The prime use for WINMOR is in the WINLINK e-mail over radio system.  This allows the sending/receiving of 'normal' e-mail to/from the internet, but you use a radio link to reach the e-mail station who is tied into the internet.  This is handy when you have localized disruption of your internet, suich as when we've had hurricanes and other dtorms that wiped-out out local internet service for a week or two.  It's good to be able to send/receive 'normal' e-mail for local emergency services and myself, to keep in touch with non-hams.

WINMOR is about as PRIVATE as ham communicatoins can be, because messaiges are compressed, then packetized. For a mortal being (non-NSA) to read this method, they would have to capture every single packet perfectly then decompress the data into it's readable form.  While not impossible, it's highly, highly unlikely.

So - Yes , digital is absolutely used in emergency comms.  As long as you can keep a computer runing along with your transceiver and etc. it's a great tool. I would HIGHLY recommend having a non-computer dependent, yet robust method to communicate (uuuuuh, Morse code) to use when the PC decides to die.
Also, the high portability of very small CW QRP rigs has much to say for them, though not for sending data files and long messages (over 50 - 100 words) unless you're really a Morse ace, but for basic communication and short SMS text type messaging, it's VERY good!


RadioRay ..._ ._

Licensing / Re: How many here are already licensed?
« on: September 13, 2012, 09:46:53 PM »
 :o   Hi!  My name is RadioRay and I'm a ham radio addict...

 ;D   Hello Raaaaay!

 :o   We all know that I'll be a radio addict for the rest of my life, but I am determined to turn this around and to use it for GOOD!

 ;)   You're a niiiiiize booooy Ray!


Extra license and been using ham radio and etc. since transistors were 'new' , engineer, backcountry person and soldier with real experience in 'life or death' radio use in a former time,and have a particular focus on communicating while everything else is 'down'.

 Personally, I don't know how people live without ham radio, but takes all kinds...   ha ha
    :)  ;)  :D  ;D  >:(  :(  :o  8)  ???  ::)  :P  :-[  :-X  :-\  :-*  :'(

de RadioRay ..._ ._

Licensing / Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« on: September 12, 2012, 10:08:33 AM »
The question of 'being on a government list' comes-up occasionally, but something to think of is that being on 'survivalist' and 'prepper' sites is entirely traceable, as is the driver's license, cell phone location, traffic quantity and audio/video - the same for 99.999% of all internet contact. Personally, if the FEAR of being listed is strong enough to stop me from my free exercise of entirely normal and harmless - (even helpful) behaviour, then we might want to consider whether we are enslaving ourselves, because such things are not prohibited by the government.  I mean if I can intimidate myself into stopping something that they have not even mentioned, then have I made myself into a slave of my own imagination?

The question arises why it would be a concern that we have a ham license?  If it is a concern over being on a government list to possibly be harassed by the government during a possible future emergency, then a far more likely list generator certainly would be visiting 'survivalist' sites on the internet, or buying ammunition, or food outside of the 'norm' and etc. because of credit card records.  Driving a car is no longer anon, because of license plate cameras and more.   The internet is thoroughly monitored per sites visited, e-mails sent, and add to that the use of financial intelligence means that, banking and credit card records are sifted for suspicious statistical anomolies, Cell phones are nothing less than personal locator beacons and 'bugs' and travel records in conjunction with other 'persons of interest' , all easily sifted and collated to generate a personal & group profile.  If I were some three letter agency in charge of making lists, I'd be VERY thankful for internet and the cell phone.  When a 'survivalist cell' gathers at a 'secret' location and brings their cellphones - viola!  I have a list of everyone there, probably audio and some video as well,  and the 'secret' location? , due to the cell phone's built-in "911" location requirement, I now can map routes of entry and exit etc.  No - I'd toss out a cell phone and computer before I'd do anything else, IF I were concerned about being anon - which I am not, but that's my personal choice. If I were concerned about such things, a ham ticket is the least of my worries.  If I were a government snoop-agency with such a plan, I'd write software to scan the internet chatter for phrases such as " government list" and log who said it and start collating any remotely associated data... 

>>>>This would make a great discussion around a campfire with lots of rum!   :P
As for neighbors who might go on-line, check through FCC ULS records for any of their surrounding homes to see whether they have a ham license, it's possible.  There ARE some real maggots out there, but  many hams have a license yet no radio station, or are exclusively VHF/UHF  and/or mobile only and most people (neighbors) do not know the difference. Experience has shown me the wisdom of two statements:

1. Out of site is out of mind.
2. Better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.

If there is a concern about where your station is located, use a P.O. box, or your work address or a remailing service.  I have done all of that and more before, because in my case, I did not even have a physical address - I lived on a very mobile sailboat!  My 'address' was the latitude/longitude where I was anchored that week when I dinghied in to shore, yet I worked and had a paycheck. (You should see what I had to go through to get a driver's license at that time...) 

For me, the personal utility of the ham license for everyday use, emergency use and knowledge & skills gained, far outweighs a theoretical threat in a yet-to-be-experienced scenario.  Besides, other than my increasing age (which makes me 'safer' by the minute) , with my internet record, library records, Kindle book record and past service record - I'm already on 'the list' if there is one. 

Just my two cents worth - please adjust for hyper-inflation.

>RadioRay ..._ ._

Licensing / Re: Do you REALLY need that ham license?
« on: September 11, 2012, 08:15:53 PM »
Oh - there are so many ways to use clandestine antennas and methods of using a radio. There are many, many articles on-line about 'stealth antennas' and etc.  Government methods for sniffing and analyzing signals are tremendous.  However, if you are on HF, unless you're some sort of high priority radio target , the odds of a government going to the trouble of tracking your signals then doing the area search and eventual man-on-the-ground time to physically locate your station are not likely.  Whether operating 'guerilla' for fun or necessity, guerilla radio means you should look like one fish in a sea of millions; i/e blend in.   You're far more likely to be ratted-out by a neighbor or ex-girlfried and/or your computer.

>>> There is little operational difference between a random wire HF NVIS antenna up 8 feet and an extension cord strung out over fence rails and branches where you like to BBQ at night after work with friends... or what looks like 'cable' for the old TV system, going out to the pole, but which is actially not connected to anything at the pole, but IS a 'slant wire antenna' in the broad sense and both would be fine for at least a few hundred miles and likely more. Not as efficient as a dipole 60 feet in the air, but sometimes it pays to be flexible. The list goes on...

>RadioRay ..._ ._

Morse Code / Re: Starting the Morse Code Board.
« on: September 10, 2012, 04:20:34 PM »
Duck Works!  I love those guys. "Swaggie" with a Chinese lug.  That is a survivor's boat, in that you can reef in a few second and maintain her without a lot of specialized marine 'stuff' and the special marine prices. That hull shape is designed to survive the occasional 'ooops'!

Now you're talking -  In the words of Sven Yrvind: "Little boats: little problems."


Sorry to hear about the dirt bags ransacking your boat. Sailboats are so much more than transportation, so in my book piracy - no matter how far or close to shore, only has one basic penalty, with a little wiggle room for mercy - on rare occasions, lest we be barbarians. Ours was a Bayfield 32c (34'6") cutter with tan bark sails, forest green hull and a ton of blonde teak trim. She is a Ted Gozzard design with classic lines, a fine bowsprit and excellent sheer line.  She was a bit showy for me, but it doesn't hurt to be gorgeous when she sails like a dream, especially in rough weather.  Then "Life Happened" and we basically had little choice but to move ashore:  call it 'Providence".


Glad to know that you understand 'the dream'.


Morse Code / Re: Starting the Morse Code Board.
« on: September 10, 2012, 01:27:04 PM »
The use of Morse or any other 'tool' is dictated upon what problem(s) we're trying to solve using radio and then applying the appropriate technology (if available).  For sending a list of refugee names, their medical needs, next of kin and etc. : use digital IF ABLE.  Zero question there, and that's how we set-up our Emergency Operation Center for my surrounding counties.  OTOH, if the problem to be solved is checking in with people,  situation reports, advisories and etc., withOUT the overhead of a computer, then Morse (CW) fits quite nicely.  Basically as pointed-out, if it requires basic communication, or even passing short messages (think SMS texting on steroids) under rough conditions, then Morse is a great tool when/if you require the minimum of Size, Weight & Power consumption.

If I were in my house, I absolutely use WINMOR (e-mail over radio) and some of the modes in the FLdigi program, because I can keep a laptop alive here.  I did the same when I was a sailboat cruiser, using e-mail over radio and etc. for my corrospondence as well as my weather (with back-ups).  However, if you do not have commercial power and/or if manpacking, or even vehicular mobile, CW beats voice (we all know that) for reliability and saves me having to keep a laptop alive.

Different tools for different jobs.

Again, lists, files and imagery - all handled by WINMOR and other digital modes.  JIC, primitive, but easily supportable in the field:  Morse.  Everyting that I have a computer glitch, or an MS update that causes a problem for my laptop and etc. I realize that I am glad that I am conversational in Morse.

>>>  As WA4STO can EASILY testify (I am not qualified to speak for him) being able to handle message traffic is a skill to practice on TOP of basic Morse fluency. There are specific methods for handling message traffic which takes it from casual -doing a Buddy a favor- to professional quality, correcting errors ('getting fills') and etc. which the average ham has never used and probably never even heard of.  A maritime Morse operator would be an expert in such things.  These traffic handling methods can be learned.

Nothing like having a good Sparkie ashore or aboard whether it's digital or Morse. 

ZUT de RadioRay ..._ ._


Licensing / I highly recommend 'Lice
« on: September 09, 2012, 08:05:14 PM »
WHAT !!?!?!?!   

"I highly recommend 'Lice..."


I thought this was a survival food topic!   :P


Glad that you mean licensing.  Maybe having known good/useful licensing LINKS on this site as part of the 'float to the top' greeting message.  This would assure that newcomers to this site would have this useful information presented from the beginning, yet not repeatedly consuming forum time as a discussion, only to then run off the bottom as it ages (like fine wine  ;)    This would present the GOOD ham license sites we know about which are already out there.  List a few different links of differing flavor to suit the variable tastes of different people.

>>> Those of us who already have a ham license know how to do it, but when you're NEW, it's a total mystery , or at least unfamiliar enough to make it seem unobtainable.  A deffinate direction fromt hose who have done it, like :"Go to this URL, take the practice tests, using THIS as a study guide then get back to us when you're over 75%."  could really change people's world.  From there, WE who know ham and the internet can locate nearby ham tests, ham fests & etc for them. It's just a thought.

de RadioRay ..._ ._

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