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Author Topic: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?  (Read 18382 times)

White Tiger

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So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« on: September 29, 2012, 04:49:22 AM »
OK, assuming we get licensed - what do all of you licensed amateur radio operators plan to do if your various scenarios of SHTF, play out?

What are your plans?

Here are my plans: Locally, I am part of a group of 4/5 families (about 18-20 people) that live within about a 20 to 30 mile radius, we're prepping independently, but doing it together (planning to bug in). We don't tell each other what to do - we just made out a list of things we needed to do separately, once we accomplished those things, we agreed that communicating between the families was necessary. I agreed to be the communications link - each family said they would get their Tech license, I agreed to get what I could - hopefully at least General (be the control operator?). I have a HF radio - and plan to use a fan dipole - and am also planning to use a NVIS configuration (although I'm not quite sure which band would be best to operate it on...40 meters, 20?)...but that will take some experimenting?

In case of SHTF, my day-to-day plan would be to monitor certain frequencies and send bulletins down range...And again, although I say I would monitor certain frequencies - I don't really know which one's (nets?) would be good to pick up information? 

I also have about 3 more family members at some distance (nearly 500 miles away), and NVIS should work for them as well - just gotta figure out what frequency/band would work best.

Anyway - that's as far as I've gotten.

How about you?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 09:38:20 AM by White Tiger »
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

KC9TNH

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2012, 08:42:44 AM »
I think your focus on linking with a core group is a superb start. Many are isolated, and that includes many suburbanites who live 50' from 4 different families they know nothing about.

Keep the dialogue open between those you trust, don't discuss micro-level details of your practices on the internet. As with reloading ammo, it's less about one's specific recipe than about consistency of your practices. Find what works for your group, staying in touch regularly.

As to the hardware side of the solution if you're limited in space, a good balanced antenna up around 30-35ft (I'm gonna take some flack for this, fire away) can get you many of the HF things you want. Remember that NVIS is a technique, not a hardware solution. You're just utilizing a different take-off angle and gives you that near-range plume like a rising bran muffin. In terms of 75m or 40m it's not gonna go as far as on 20m because it's not high enough relative to the band you're talking on. It's a nice 1/2-wave high for 20 giving alot of distance because of the lower take-off angle, not so for 40 or 75/80.  But that makes for different signals characteristics that benefit, for lack of a better term, where you want your words to land.

Learn about the characteristics of what band(s) work at what time of the day by getting your General and getting on the air. With some exceptions there is no requirement to keep a logbook - BUT - if you do keep a rudimentary log and actually do the analysis work later sitting down with a cup of coffee and a piece of paper you can understand what your setup is doing for you.

If possible always ask for a real signal report; the first of the 2 numbers being the most important (readability, how many times do I have to ask you to say your location) - signal strength is less important, we're not into ego-inflating reports of broadcast audio. Key question is can the information to be exchanged be passed accurately in the minimum amount of time?

MCRP 6-22D: The USMC version of the MIL world's field antenna handbook; it's also the best illustrated of all the service versions. Get it, read it, all of it. It will teach as well as advise.  Google is your friend and it's a not-bad 192pg .PDF download from a variety of places. If you can locate a hardcopy version in the older "fits in a field-jacket pocket" size, snatch it up.
:)

Edit to add in response to your original topic question: We learn.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 08:58:36 AM by KC9TNH »

White Tiger

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2012, 09:49:15 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement, but more importantly - the specific detailed options!

I JUST downloaded the USMC Antenna book to my iPhone - and even in that format it is ;aid out very well!

I was also cautioned about finding a couple of HF frequencies - one for daylight, one after sunset...and that take off angle issue will make that a bit of a challenge!

Than ks again - are there any published processes or emergency manuals written specifically for periods of civil unrest? Any recommendations as to the type of emergency teams you guys participate in, locally? If so, do they have planning/preparedness processes?
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

KC9TNH

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2012, 10:44:05 AM »
I was also cautioned about finding a couple of HF frequencies - one for daylight, one after sunset...and that take off angle issue will make that a bit of a challenge!
It can be less of a challenge if you think of it in terms of what is the ionosphere doing (or going to allow). Forgive the verbose treatment but here's how it went in a discussion with #1 genius grand-daughter. Simplistic, but sometimes it pays not to over-complicate stuff. Not being condescending here.

Think of skipping a rock across the water, there are optimum angles at which you hit the water allowing ricochet of the rock. If that water were oatmeal, well, plomp the rock is just gonna get absorbed. Although it REALLY has to do with the properties of the ionosphere, I tend to think of it as jello. I took a baking dish of just-made jello and flung an airsoft pellet at it.  Plomp. During the day alot of stuff gets absorbed - in general - but when it cools it skips off. You can hit that well-congealed jello at a pretty acute angle from above (or below if you're the antenna) and it's still gonna bounce back.

In radio you need to remember that not everyone has daylight & night when you do. But for regional stuff it's less of a factor. I have seen it in the early AM where I couldn't talk on 40m to someone 180 miles away and 10 minutes later it's like they're in my living room, as the sun gets a few more degrees above the horizon. For brief periods it helps to understand grayline effect; do your research, worth knowing.

CAVEAT: Because the resulting antenna lengths are so different way out at the end of the wire I tend to differentiate between 80 & 75m (CW vs. SSB). Out there smaller freq changes still result in notable differences in terms of length.

QRP CW amigo Geoff AE4RV has more time & talent than I do; you can check out the amateur radio piece of his website HERE and look at his flash-animated propagation primer - as well as a pretty cool animated display of how a traditional CW "bug" works.

"In general" (again, pretty simplistic) in the absence of some other solar or geo-magnetic stuff, 75m is a good NVIS band at night and in decent conditions 100w AND a decent antenna will get you what you need. Ditto for 40m during most of the day, as well as night time, although at night foreign broadcast stations (who don't adhere to the same band plans as the US) might fire up and you'll hear alot of heavy hitters that will blow your regional chat with the relatives away. Use 75m then. (75m also seems to have a period during peak mid-day that works well also.) Wanna go coast to coast? Under normal conditions, in general, 20m is your ticket.

Think of your solution that will work on a band, not a given frequency. You may get there and it's busy. So the plan for a schedule ("sked") with someone has to include that, e.g., "Start at 3985, down till clear [of other stations], I'll call you." In simple terms you've now done part of what the mil services call a CEOI or SOI. (use your acronym finder).

Gotta go cut grass & get some chow.
 :)



WA4STO

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2012, 11:31:12 AM »
Think of your solution that will work on a band, not a given frequency.

WT:  KC9TNH raises some very good points, which I tend to encapsulate as "band flexibility".

Don't forget that you're WAY ahead of the game by deciding on / purchasing / erecting a fan dipole that covers a number of different bands.



As I understand the one you're putting up this weekend, the "A" in the graphic above represents the 75/80 meter dipole, while the "B" shows the 40 meter one (which will also allow for 15 meter use!) as well as "C" which will be for 10 meters.

The beauty of that antenna, other than the fact that you only have to piddle with ONE feed line, is that you've got an enormous amount of flexibility.  Which is crucial to your efforts. 

If your group/family is X miles away, you may find that the 40 meter antenna just isn't gonna cut it at a particular time of day/night, whereas 80 or 20 might just be perfect.  TNH is correct about that as well.

He brings up another point that will require some thought on your part -- probably today, or at least this weekend, as you're getting things set up.  At some point, you're going to need to decide on whether that 80 meter portion is resonant higher up, in the 75 meter part of the band, (say 3.900 mHz or thereabouts) , or lower down in the digital area, around 3.6 mHz. 

In my case, I've got it set at 3.6 as that's where the digital networks are located.  But ... see ...  ya can't easily have it both ways.  My antenna is so NOT resonant on 3.900, that I would have to adjust (compress or separate) the 80 and 40 meter coils to get a decent match. 

In your case (here comes the planning part), you COULD have it both ways.  My strong guess is that the folks who made your fan dipole cut the 80 meter portion up on 3.900-ish.  So, to make it (the antenna) work down in "my" portion of the band, you could add some length to each side of the dipole, and connect the two pieces on each side by way of jumpers or even Anderson power pole connectors. 

I think you've decided on allowing the fan dipole to be raised/lowered via rope and pulleys at the center conductor, which would make the whole process fairly simple.

For now, if my guess is right, you'll be golden on the voice portion of the band.  Oh!  And that's where SSTV happens as well, strangely enough...

73 de WA4STO

KC9TNH

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2012, 01:24:15 PM »
Don't forget that you're WAY ahead of the game by deciding on / purchasing / erecting a fan dipole that covers a number of different bands.
Thanks for a very neat pic, which says more than my motor-mouthed many words. That's a really versatile antenna if you've got the real-estate to put it up.

Long time ago in a galaxy far away a girl I was seeing & served with used that alot because she found herself stuck out in the boonies with her RATT rig and a freq table from the HQ that she summed up as "they don't know what they wanna be when they grow up." The fan dipole kept her from leaving the warmth of her rig below the military crest of a hill to rig yet another dipole based on whatever some LT thought of at the moment. Good choice if you can get it up & high enough. Thanks for that.

WA4STO

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2012, 01:28:21 PM »

In case of SHTF, my day-to-day plan would be to monitor certain frequencies and send bulletins down range...



With regard to the sending of bulletins, there's a coupla "gotchas" there you need to be aware of.

1.  It's contrary to the FCC Part 97 rules to transmit bulletins to the general public over ham radio frequencies.  That's the theory anyway.  The cure is to actually be in QSO with somebody, which is not only allowed but encouraged by the rules.

The way we used to accomplish that is to set up BBS systems on, say RTTY, Amtor, whatever.  Then, by sending a message which includes a bulletin to "WA4STO", for example, the bulletin would then be read by numerous licensed folks and it matters not that your family/group "listens in" and sees your bulletin.

2.  Can't for the life of me remember what the second of "a coupla gotachas" was.  I'll get back to ya on that.

I spotted something yesterday on http://survivingsurvivalism.com/blog.htm that REALLY caught my eye.  There's a couple of blog articles there relating to ham radio, with mention of the fact that a third article will be covering the use of RTTY for related use in the aftermath of SHTF. 

Now these articles, so far, don't always focus too well on the need for an amateur radio license which, to me. seems to indicate that they are suggesting it in a 'freeband' environment.  It's the IDEA of using an ancient technology like RTTY that is very interesting.  Your bulletin-sending is a prime part of that.

73 de WA4STO

Frosty

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2012, 01:42:11 PM »
are there any published processes or emergency manuals written specifically for periods of civil unrest? Any recommendations as to the type of emergency teams you guys participate in, locally? If so, do they have planning/preparedness processes?

Might look for the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for your city, township, county, and/or state.  My state police also have their own EOP with the unclassified sections available online.  The FEMA course material (on ICS in particular) might be a good place to start on the federal response plan.

These prepper groups have outlined disaster communications plans:
http://www.radiofreeredoubt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/AmRRON-Communication-Plan_18-July-Public.pdf
http://www.catastrophenetwork.org/

Jonas Parker

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2012, 02:47:28 PM »
I'm a member of several traffic nets. My plan when the shoe drops is simple -  log on the traffic net that reception is best on and get to work...

White Tiger

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2012, 12:07:26 AM »
Think of your solution that will work on a band, not a given frequency.

WT:  KC9TNH raises some very good points, which I tend to encapsulate as "band flexibility".

Don't forget that you're WAY ahead of the game by deciding on / purchasing / erecting a fan dipole that covers a number of different bands.



As I understand the one you're putting up this weekend, the "A" in the graphic above represents the 75/80 meter dipole, while the "B" shows the 40 meter one (which will also allow for 15 meter use!) as well as "C" which will be for 10 meters.

The beauty of that antenna, other than the fact that you only have to piddle with ONE feed line, is that you've got an enormous amount of flexibility.  Which is crucial to your efforts.

Yes! it is a good thing I listened to you regarding the type of antenna would be best for my needs!

I think this brings upo a great point: If you are a new ham, or concisdering becoming a ham - I think it is important to find an experienced ham that you can build some trust with -and bounce ideas off, get input from. Luck WA4STO has been that for me.

If your group/family is X miles away, you may find that the 40 meter antenna just isn't gonna cut it at a particular time of day/night, whereas 80 or 20 might just be perfect.  TNH is correct about that as well.

But - for me - those two bands are certainly doable!

He brings up another point that will require some thought on your part -- probably today, or at least this weekend, as you're getting things set up.  At some point, you're going to need to decide on whether that 80 meter portion is resonant higher up, in the 75 meter part of the band, (say 3.900 mHz or thereabouts) , or lower down in the digital area, around 3.6 mHz.

Now that's a great idea - and I want it up in that digital area!

In my case, I've got it set at 3.6 as that's where the digital networks are located.  But ... see ...  ya can't easily have it both ways.  My antenna is so NOT resonant on 3.900, that I would have to adjust (compress or separate) the 80 and 40 meter coils to get a decent match.

Thanks, Luck - and to compress or separate - do you need to run it through a tuner?

In your case (here comes the planning part), you COULD have it both ways.  My strong guess is that the folks who made your fan dipole cut the 80 meter portion up on 3.900-ish.  So, to make it (the antenna) work down in "my" portion of the band, you could add some length to each side of the dipole, and connect the two pieces on each side by way of jumpers or even Anderson power pole connectors.

Wow - great site - which one, 30 amp? ALso, would this cause the SWR t climb at all?

http://www.andersonpower.com/products/singlepole-connectors.html
I think you've decided on allowing the fan dipole to be raised/lowered via rope and pulleys at the center conductor, which would make the whole process fairly simple.

Yes, I'm kind of excited to see how that works out - im told that I need to guy the mast at 28 feet - which is about 9 poles - adding 3 to 4 more poles would probably need some additional stability anyway...yeah, I'm looking forward to that!

http://www.andersonpower.com/products/singlepole-connectors.htmlFor now, if my guess is right, you'll be golden on the voice portion of the band.  Oh!  And that's where SSTV happens as well, strangely enough...

Almost like I knew what I was doing...except, I didn't! Got me to where I was going som much faster!!
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

WA4STO

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80 vs 75, SSTV in the voice portions of the band
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2012, 10:49:13 AM »
WT -- Stop with the STO - kudos, will ya?!  :)  The guys are getting sick of hearin' it!  Besides, if I was expert on everything, I'd not be either this old, or this fat.  And my vertical radials would be a work of art.

>>>Now that's a great idea - and I want it up in that digital area!

Careful!  Don't confuse the fact that SSTV is allowed in the Phone/SSB/voice areas of the bands with the "digital" areas.  They're not the same at all and you need to consider -- right now, today -- what portion of the band you want to be on.   Why?  Antenna length is the prime reason.

Methinks you will, at least for now, want to be on the voice/image portion.

The confusion about SSTV placement is due, in part, to the Part 97 regulations.

http://www.hurderconsulting.net/radiostuff/Hambands_color.pdf

Look at the 80 meter section -- particularly at all the "green" bars.  Note that the green bars represent "phone and image".

So even though SSTV is -- in recent years, anyway -- a 'digital' mode, it's allowed up in the voice portion of the band.  Go figure.  sure is easy to spot up there!

>>>Thanks, Luck - and to compress or separate - do you need to run it through a tuner?

To 'compress or separate', use your fingers.  Preferably not while transmitting!  See, these puppies (the coils) are large enough that you can do that:



Time to head out back and finish up the ground radial installation.  Photos to follow!  Of course...

73 de WA4STO






gil

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2012, 11:00:53 AM »
I like the look of those coils. Nice and big, low losses.

I tried to sway Tim to Morse code, even showed him my Rock-Mite... To no avail  ::) LOL.

Gil.

WA4STO

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2012, 11:43:37 AM »
Yah, those coils are the biggest reason I opted for the Butternut.

I've had "closed coil" designs before.  They usually failed due to (expensive) moisture ingress.

Ditto for the plethora of HF Yagi-Uda directional beams; they  mostly  seem to have the "sealed" resonators.  No wonder, given the size of the cure!

73 de WA4STO

WA4STO

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2012, 12:12:53 PM »
WT asks:  Thanks, Luck - and to compress or separate - do you need to run it through a tuner?

Oops, looks as though I ignored the latter part of that Q.

This particular design (see above) does not require a tuner to be resonant on all bands 80 - 6

However, it's happens that I *do* use one ( LDG auto-tuner) but only because i wear suspenders in addition to my belt.  Or is that the other way around?



You can see the LDG tuner sitting just below the IC-7000

It still doesn't help the antenna to be resonant on both the 75 and 80 meter frequencies, which is contrary to the design of the antenna.  For that, I gotta go tweak those big bad coils and even then, only one part of the band at once.

73 de WA4STO

White Tiger

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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 01:29:58 PM »
Sorry Luck - just acknowledging the help!

...and, um...looking at my dipole antenna mast...and I can't seem to find any coils to tweak?  ;)

...actually - I think I get the fact that I'm supposed to use those connector pieces to add a bit more wire onto the existing leg - and remove it to bounce between 75/80...

...which means that 80m is definitely going into an inverted V!
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Re: So, what happens AFTER we get the license?
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 01:29:58 PM »