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Topics - RadioRay

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Morse Code / So You Think That The Band Is Dead?
« on: December 10, 2012, 09:19:37 AM »
Last Night I had a little trouble sleeping so I decided to call 'CQ' around the center of the 30 meter band on the 'big' rig at 75 Watts.  European stations were finally fading away so that I culd listen 'out there' for the more distant stations, and hopefully to make contact with some fellow hams who are not '599 73 SK' type of operators. My antenna is a 130 foot wire doublet at a bit over 40 feet in the air and fed with ladder line, running roughly NNE/SSW. For those who do not regularly operate thirty, it's a treasure trove of interesting stations, particularly during the off hours when non-US hams can get on the air an not be mobbed. Having operated from overseas many years ago, I remember how it was to be mobbed by rude paper chasers, while I trying to hold a conversation with a friend back in the U.S.  This was in the pre-internet days, so being able to talk with 'home' real-time was a treat!

Last night was one of those memorable nights. We've all had them - or should! The band sounded dead, yet I knew that is not the case, because 'utility' stations in Germany and elsewhere were quite readable on adjacent frequencies.  Besides, the middle bands are usually open to somewhere. With a little bit of calling 'CQ', I had two different South African stations give me a call. A distance of over 8047.6 miles! What a delight to actually have more than a bit of time in a QSO with such an interesting couple of fellows in an exotic place such as the former RSA!  I must say that their code was good, steady and well sent and neither of us required a mega-station to communicate.

The next contact was on the late night/early morning forty meter band with my heavily modified Wilderness Sierra Mk.4 (shown elsewhere). at the BONE CRUSHING POWER of between 2 to 3  Watts. This led to a nice, hour long chat with a fellow named Glen out in Kingman , Az. A distance of 2086.6 miles.  Glen is good on the key, so I was able to 'slide the weight back' on my old Vibroplex original 'bug'  to do a LOT of talking at a brisk but not fast speed ( ~ 28 - 30 WPM ). This allowed an hour of real conversation on a wide range of topics.

So, even a modest station of less than 100 Watts, attached a basic doublet/dipole antenna hung in the trees often yeilds the ability to talk with other hams all the way across the Atlantic ocean before their breakfast is ready in the southern hemisphere. Then QRP to a great CW man two thousand miles away who is also a radio insomniac! Contrairy to what those glossy magazines and web adverts say, you do NOT require a mega-station, huge linear amplifier and a sound-studio voice equalized for 'Hi-Fi SSB' (what a silly idea!) .  A good receiver, a few Watts on transmit and an old Morse key will do the job nicely.

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._

Technical Corner / On My Bench Right Now
« on: November 21, 2012, 05:40:15 PM »
Back before Y2K (remember that?)  I built an excellent kit transceiver called the Wilderness Sierra.  It's a multi-band QRP CW transceiver with a superb receiver and puts out about two Watts on transmit.  I carried it around in the Rockiy Mountains and made contacts all over.  It eventually went into my storage and stayed in a box for about ten years.  I pulled it out earlier this year and it still works and does it very WELL!. My only complaint was that the tuning range was limited to about 150 kHz of any particular band.  Fine for CW, but I also wanted to use it for general coverage. Back when this was designed, VFOs were set at low frewuency - usually in the 2 to 3 MHz range and 'mixed' by heterodyne up to your operational frequency. That was because low frequency VFOs were much more stable than high.  This does however, limit the tuning range. 

Entern the 21st century.  We can buy an inespensive Direst Digital Synthesis (DDS) VFO for about $50-75.  The DDS VFO is super stable, accurate and covers from a few Hz to about 50 MHz or higher, depending upon the version.  I built one a few months ago and have been doing exeriments with it (No small animal s were harmed during these experiments...  :P  )  This last week, I grafted this DDS VFO into the QRP rig and it works!  Now I am modifying the front panel it add the DDS VFO into the Wilderness Sierra to get it operating inside of the enclosure.   Later, I will likely add a 10-20 Watt amplifier to the rig so that I can have a nice, portable rig for home and away. Because I am not as 'trail friendly' as I used to be, manpacking anything through 12,000 foot mountain passes is not likely in my future, so building this into a small pelican type case for portable operations is the design goal, once the design ti stable and tested.

That's 'what's cookin' at my bench - you?


>de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / A Nice HOT Cupp-a AND recharge your Electronics.
« on: November 18, 2012, 12:28:51 AM »
Those who are familiar with the Peltier effect, know that you can use power into it to produce a temperature difference betweentwo sides ofa single device OR induce a temperature differene to produce electricity, at fairly hefty current.  Well, here is a mini-ducted fan camp stove that is VERY efficient on fuel AND recharges USB devices.  I have never used this unit, but have worked with Peltier devices before for heating/cooling of metalic plates.

I can imagine a coffee shop on Stattan Island using Hurricane debris & these for hot java/soup while recharging phones without infrastructure.

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / Learning From Current Events - or not?
« on: November 11, 2012, 05:11:47 PM »
It never ceases to amaze me, the reactions of people to the idea of prepping.  I was wading through a media-hyped Prepper story on Yahoo (I know - whyyyy bother???) and the number of dolts who criticise having basic preps like water, food and firearms, in light of the ongoing tragedy in Nj/Ny is simply amazing.   It broke down into a few catagories:

How stupid - what if a giant meteor came down on your house, how would this help?

How stupid - what are the odds of your ever needing water and food?

How stupid - I'll come there with my "gun" and kill you and take your food.

How stupid - the government will come there with black helicopers and take your food.

How smart - I need to do more of that.

New Jersey and New York are still in the news, with all that entails and this is the general response?  It simply amazes me how ignorant people can be.  A disaster might just be a 'correction' in the gene pool.

Your Thoughts?

de RadioRay ..._ ._

Ps. Somewhere, there's a cow looking at the pasture gate -vs- the door to the slaughter house and wondering . . .

General Discussion / Ham Radio Emergency Communication on YouTube Video
« on: November 02, 2012, 10:41:29 AM »
The news story is good, it's dated - being frm Katrina, but the actual audio during the last half of the video  is a lesson all by it self.

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / Public Perception of Prepping, Post Predicament
« on: November 01, 2012, 03:32:59 PM »
I've had a yen for survival skills since I was a very young boy.  I've seen the perception of basic 'survival skills' change from being strictly for military and professional woodsmen to 1970-90's 'survivalism' and finally to 'prepping'.  As our society had been dumbed-down into an ever more specialized and insect like collection of worker-bees, supporting the ruling class of the hive, we've had even the most basic of self reliance skills and instincts bred out of us, riddiculed on TV & movies and have a media which shows virtually anyone with even a few weeks of food, sanitation and water purification as some sort of 'red neck', stupid, slothful, indolent, moron who beats his wife three times daily whether shes 'needs' it or not.

Much of the gentrified northeast uber-urbanite Mecca is under water in some areas, homes burned to the ground in others & looting, while the media only lightly reports it and etc.  Many urbanites have the latest smart phones, designer shoes and illegal Big Gulp sodas (har!) , yet do not have any food in their high rise apartments - and who would, with so many top restaurants to be seen in ?  No water - "Well, that's what we pay the building 'Super' for . . ." .  However, this is changing and quickly! Prepping may not seem as nutty as it seemed last week.  OK - so lessons learned?

It's a rough situation, but fairly light compared to what COULD happen in a national emergency, where help is not a few miles inland.  I am noticing more people mentioning that 'over the protests of my wife/husband, I put away supplies 'for a rainy day' and now they are grateful.'  Or 'So, who's making fun of preppers now?'.  Hopefully, all those people in some wretched situations will serve as a wake-up call that NO - we're not some 'special generation' of people who magically do not need to take care of themselves.  Those who tell us that we should let the government take care of us are nothing more than 'Human Ranchers' trying to keep the cattle (us) doscile and dependent upon THEM until they decide it's time for the drive to market & slaughter.

We have emergency brakes on our cars & insurance - "just in case" , so let's think ahead a bit and put a bit of food away, heirloom seeds for BEFORE the food runs out, alternate water sources and purification and a way to defend our 'things' and families when the usual suspects decide that stealing is still more fun than learning to work for their daily bread. Be a lunatic - learn basic first aid and keep a kit handy. Maybe even become 'one of those radio nuts', so that you have national comms in something the size of a paper back book - and NO commercial infrastructure required.

Remember: If this were an EMP, or a viral outbreak - the NATION would be shut-down, not just a portion of north eastern cities. That would mean that there will be no help.  Become involved locally , preferably with your local emergency responders and disaster management teams. Ham radio is one way, CERT is another and there may be even more ways.  Once they know and trust you, then you have a say in how YOUR community and family will be taken care of in a disaster.  The feral government does not give you that option: they take care of politicians first.

Anyone ELSE reading about succesful prepping helping during this weather emergency & changing attitudes about prepping & etc. post-Sandy?

Your Thoughts?

Wake-Up America -

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / Hurricane Sandy
« on: October 26, 2012, 08:16:36 AM »
What looked like yet another hurricane that was going to arc out to sea is increasingly predicted to enter the coast north of us, perdictions have it breaching the coast between Maryland and Pennsylvania (all open to change), putting our home in Virginia into the western semi-circle of slightly lower winds, but this hurricane is on a track that could easily knock-out commercial infrastructure for many people. Here, I've been charging batteries, retrieving equipment from a tin shed for safer storage and filling water containers. QRP radio is no problem, because the basic radios operate for a week of sjeds from AA cells and the big batteries are recharged via folding, portable 'expedition' solar panels (  and a few mil-surplus , folding panels. Entertainment/news radios are the plastic, hand-crank jobs, one with a built-in light.

>>>=====>  This is a fine illustration of why skeds arranged by internet are no better than selling our radios and using only internet.  A regular - hopefully daily- quick check is great, even if it's just to check-in.  The next is having a regular net that you check-in with, like the MMSN on 14300USB, or some of the CW nets like the waterway CW net or some of the traffic handling CW nets (which are likely my next move).

If we're not doing it NOW, we'll likely not be doing it 'then'.

I am curious what others in the storm track are doing?

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._

Morse Code / I Have Sinned!
« on: October 19, 2012, 07:06:42 AM »
I bought a microphone...  I am sooooo ashamed.  :'(

de RadioRay ..._ ._

General Discussion / Do YOU Have A Plan?
« on: October 11, 2012, 11:29:09 PM »
... and is it better than THIS one?

Just askin'

 :)  ;)  :D  ;D  :o  ::)
de RadioRay ..._ ._

Ps.  I saw his "plan" and just HAD to share it.  Dilbert lives in the real world...

General Discussion / Toward Food Self-Sufficiency
« on: October 08, 2012, 01:00:22 PM »
Back when I was a young, tough, survival savvy fellow, my emergency planning revolved around two words: "Bye-Bye".  In short, I lived right on the edge of wild country and with my training and experience, I could take the walk into the wilderness and have a much better than average chance to survive 'out there' while the rest of the world burned.  I used to spend weeeks at a time out there, and that's a good start, considering that I had to scrounge most of my food and build my own shelters. Later in life, I still had knowledge, but my body began to fail, so I took-up long range sailing and my boat was my survival retreat...  Long story short; 'life happened' and now I'm living on dry-land & married, so honestly,  my odds of going 'survival-walk-about' using wilderness skills here in the dangerously overpopulated south/east is basically close to zero and my once Viking body now looks more like rusting hulk of a 1956 muscle-car of years gone-by. So - what's the plan now?

Mini-Farming!  Living with dirt under me for the first time in almost a decade, it's actually rather cool and has great potential.  My wife and I live on a remote, rural peninsula, among farms, woods and lots of open water.  We've begun to grow our garden (building-up some rather poor soil through composting), have a few laying hens for eggs and are ordering perrenial food plants like fruit, nuts and etc.  I'm too old for the 'running & gunning' "Rawles" survival novel scenario, though I still have a few good fights left in me - if provoked. However, the up side is that I do have a broad smile when I walk past the egg cartons in the market, knowing that we haven't bought any since August, because my four hens keep us in about 18 eggs per week, or the veggies, since tomatoes, peppers and others are also grown in our fenced, raised bed garden.  Next on the agenda is enhancing the soil through compost and fish meal,  perhaps a milking goat or two (still researching that), because I used to make goat cheese when I lived in Idaho, using locally available goat's milk and herbs. In short:  food storage is ONLY good for acting as a buffer until you can develop other methods to feed yourself, such as a combination of self-sufficiency, barter and work as available. If you can produce even HALF of your food, then you can feed yourself twice as well or twice as long.

So - how about this forum?  Anyone doing or planning: home growing, mini-farming, MAXI-farming?  fishing, hunting, cannibalism?  If so, what sort of crops, plants, fish,     ::) people  ::) do you think you're interested in eating?

>de RadioRay ..._ ._

Net Activity / Wanna Sked?
« on: October 08, 2012, 12:07:20 PM »
Hey Radio Preppers,

Just in general, how many of us would like to have a regular sked in CW?  I used to have regular skeds and it really makes for a good development of CW skills as well as being more fun than random contacts(though some of those are excellent). By 'sked' I am not meaning a formal net.  Just an opportunity to talk one-on-one or maybe three or so in a round-table.

Your thoughts?

>RadioRay ..._ ._
W7ASA - Virginia

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