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Messages - vwflyer

I wonder if any of the coast guard crew tried to start the engine. It might have turned right over.  ;D

This article says they had "a new VHF radio, a ham radio, a weather satellite and a radio telephone. She says none worked, and they apparently had a communications failure with their new antenna.
They also carried a satellite phone that she said never seemed to connect.
She says they had six ways to communicate with multiple backups, and none functioned properly.
That, she said Friday in an interview from the ship, "exceeds Murphy's Law."

I agree with her. That does exceed Murphy's Law. Sounds more like operator issues. You don't lose six means of communication along with multiple backups by having a "communications failure with their new antenna".

Perhaps this story will prove to be an object lesson to preppers who think that they can buy some comms gear and never get a license to learn how to use it and then blame Murphy's law when nothing works for them after dooms day.
Quoteusually are leaving your boat and most possessions behind. The EPIRB is designed to save human lives.

Did you see a picture of their boat? The hull looked to be in real bad shape along the water line. Was that just normal water damage? What caused that? The girls said they expected to sink in the next 24 hours. It would be interesting to see if it's still afloat out there since they did just leave it to sink. I guess we'll have to wait for the hour long History Cannel re-enactment to get the fascinating details. The problem is, the History Channel is as bad about getting its facts straight with recent history as it is with ancient history. 
I don't think we can fault their navigation at this point. For all we know, they had a working GPS and/or sextant and knew exactly where they were the whole time. They were adrift and at the mercy of the ocean currents for at least three of the five months which is why they wound up so far off course. Their engine swamped during a storm and they couldn't restart it. My guess is that they killed the battery trying to restart the engine and had no way of recharging the battery. As Gil pointed out, they lost communications around the same time, so I'd bet that if they did have an HF radio they killed the battery that runs it trying to start the engine rather than using the battery to put out a distress call. After failing to restart the engine they decided to try and sail the rest of the way, but damage to the mast made maneuvering the vessel difficult, according to one report. I'd say impossible if they drifted aimlessly for 3 months. So if the mast was unrepairable and made sailing impossible we can't really fault them on their sailing skills either. I'm not a sailer, but where they appear to me to have failed is in underestimating the importance of communication and planning with sufficient backups. A way of recharging their battery, perhaps, without the aid of the engine, a spare HF antenna, spare HF radio, and if nothing else, a GPS emergency beacon. The last one should be standard equipment in all sea going vessels today. From what has been written so far, all we can be fairly sure of is that they started the trip with a sat phone (which fell in the water) and a VHF radio. They brought a water purifier and lot and lots of food so they were planning ahead. But like so many preppers, they seem to have overlooked the importance of comms prepping. Two is one and one is none.
General Discussion / Lost at sea 5 months without comms
October 28, 2017, 01:16:16 am
My curiosity is killing me and it's probably too early to get all my questions answered by the news. But I know that there are some sailors in this group so maybe there are some good theories among you. How did these two ladies wind up without comms at sea?  I've read several news stories looking for the answer. Several said their comms died shortly after losing the engine. Sounds to me like maybe the battery died because the generator was engine driven. Would that be right?  Do many sail boats not have solar power so that you don't have to run the engine to charge the battery? It is supposed to sail after all. Even so, would they not have made the distress call on the HF  before the battery died?  Is it possible they didn't have an HF radio on board? Are they not required on ocean going vessels? One article said they lost the sat phone overboard the first day out. Does having a sat phone on board qualify for comms requirements at sea and that's why they didn't use HF?  Many articles stated that they made distress calls for 92 days but were too far out for anybody to hear them. From this I surmise that their VHF radio still worked. Perhaps an HT which is why it still had juice. If so that HT battery has good life. So many questions, I'm afraid I'll have to wait for more interviews from them. Glad they made it. I imagine they'll do a few things differently the next time out.
Net Activity / Re: Radio Vacation and Update.
September 16, 2017, 11:29:08 pm
On our C-206s we use a random wire running from the top of the cabin to the top of vertical stab to one wingtip. An Icom auto tuner is used for matching. It works pretty well even on 60 meters. I'm sure the altitude helps too.
Currently I have both the MTR-3B and the HB-1B. At first I thought I would get them both, try them both out, and sell the one I liked the least. Well, that was the plan I told myself since I was having trouble justifying buying two rigs that would fit the same job of portable QRP. But I can't make up my mind. AHHH!
Normally, I use the HB-1B, mostly due to its knob (I prefer the knob), the frequency readout that's always right there, (you don't have to stop tuning and then hit the freq. button to see where you stopped), and the SWR meter. I also like to listen to AM and SSB on occasion with it. For operating in my shack, or in my backyard, or in the park, or while car camping, I usually turn to my HB-1B.
When I'm traveling by plane (small Cessna mostly but also commercial) I always take the MTR. It's smaller size and weight is enough that when counting the ounces it makes a difference. Also when I've got the rig in a backpack for hiking to the top of a hill for a SOTA activation I take the MTR, again ounces are pounds there. Those niceties of the HB-1B look sooooo much less important when you have to pack it 1000' vertically.
All practicality aside, the MTR has a lot of personality. It's uniqueness gives it a sense of fun novelty. It's like my old Collins tube rig from my grandfather. It's not nearly has fast and easy to use as any new solid state rig but there's just something about twisting those big knobs and looking for the dip in plate current that is just fun at times. I don't know why but the MTR gives me that kind of enjoyment to operate at times, so when the mood hits, the HB-1B just wont do.
In the end I convinced myself that no good prepper (as if I were one of those) ever just has one of anything. 
The MTR-3B draws 35ma on RX and about 550ma on TX.

I think the 4b and 5b have an even lower RX draw.

Yeah, to confirm the band options:
3b - 20, 30, 40
4b - 20, 30, 40, 80
5b - 15, 17, 20, 30, 40

Another thing that makes band scanning hard with the 3b is that the freq display doesn't display the frequency while you tune. You have to stop tuning and then hit the freq button for it to tell you what freq you've arrived at. The 4b and 5b fixed that issue. All three models will let you directly jump to  a freq using the CW paddle though. And you can listen in CW to the freq you are on which is nice if you are operating in the dark.  They also have multiple, fully customizable keyer memories. You can also beacon a memory.
I have an HB1B. It's published current draw is 80-90 ma rx and 800 ma tx. It also has a built in keyer with auto CQ. Mine took a spill from about 4 feet to the concrete. As the paddle was still plugged into it, it impacted the paddle plug and broke the key jack. I opened the rig and superglued the jack back together. It worked fine until I was able to replace it. I bought 10 new jacks on eBay for a couple of bucks and used one to replace the glued jack. Good as new. That was the only damaged it sustained from the spill. Now I have a lot of spare jacks. I like the variable filter width and the fact I can listen to SSB and AM with it.
I also have a MTR-3b. I take that thing everywhere with me. It's so small and light.  The rig, battery, key, headphones, tuner, paracord, and ground stakes all fit into a sandwich sized plastic food container.  However, with the MTR's non-adjustable, narrow filter and push button tuning, I find the HB1B so much easier to scan the bands with. I take the HB1B if I have the room in my bag for it and the MTR-3b if weight and space is tight.
From one location to the next I don't have to move the tuning knob very far at all if I don't change my operating frequency. However, those tuners can have a pretty sharp Q. Often times the difference between low SWR and high is just a bump of the knob. If most everything about the two installations are the same (hight of antenna, kind of support, nearby objects, type of ground under it, etc.) it should be really close. But there are so many variables that can affect SWR and you will never be able to exactly duplicate your home setup. The hight of the tuner itself above the ground seems to make a lot of difference. Sometimes I'll stake the tuner down to the ground and sometimes I'll bungie it to a table or a branch. It just depends on my operating position's accommodations. When you set up in a randomly different location every time, you find different arrangements that seem to work best. Without a meter you won't know if it's close enough or not.
I own both the Sotabeams Mountan tuner and the SOTA Tuner. The second one has the LED indicator. When I hook these to my YouKits radio which has it's own SWR meter I find that the LED does a great job of giving me low SWR on the YouKits meter. However, with the Sotabeams Mountain tuner I found that simply tuning for maximum noise is not accurate enough to assure me low SWR on the YouKits rig. I have to use the rig's SWR meter to bring it down. So I wouldn't recommend a tuner without some kind of SWR indication if your rig doesn't have a meter.
Net Activity / Re: Preppers Calling Frequency.
March 29, 2017, 03:03:56 pm
If it is decided here that 7177 is too close to the Extra portion of the band we could alternatively use 7189. A sequence of numbers is almost as easy to remember as all sevens. I haven't looked at detailed gentalman's band plans to see if we are stepping on anybody's toes there.
Net Activity / Re: Preppers Calling Frequency.
March 27, 2017, 02:03:44 pm
So long as General class licensees aren't running AM or high powered amps that is probably enough space to keep them from interfering into the Extra portion of the band, but it's awfully close. It's an easy number to remember; almost all sevens.
Net Activity / Re: Preppers Calling Frequency.
March 23, 2017, 06:56:32 pm
I suggest it is kept above 7.175 so that U.S. general class licensees can participate.