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Topics - RadioRay

Net Activity / Radio Relay International
June 15, 2022, 01:43:21 PM
Did you know that there really IS and has been, a radio relay organization that actually DOES realy radio messages? Radio Relay International has many traffic every day and maintains surge capacity incase of higher need/emergency situations. I have passed some small amoung ot traffic through their Morse network(s) and the message arrived at my friends ear in under one day.  RRI is a mix of Morse and digital (winlink like) stations and very professionally and yet, friendly to new people.

Here is a recent announcement on their website:

RRI Announces Training Class Schedule July 1 to December 30, 2022

Radio Relay International is pleased to announce its 2022, Third and Fourth Quarter Training Schedule. This is your opportunity to obtain official, peer-reviewed training covering emergency communications and traffic handling subjects based on professional emergency management practices and radio communications standards. This training is open to all radio amateurs. An RSVP is necessary to hold a place in these classes. The training schedule can be found here:
After seeing Gil's review of the (tr)uSDR transceiver on his YouTube channel, I decided to get one.  I took a month to arrive in my mailbox, all the way from P.R. China, but in fairness, over half that delay was in the US postal system,.

When arrived, the only adjustment I made is to calibrate the frequency standard and that is very easy: find the menu item and turn the main dial to zerobeat WWV or other standard frequency station, then press ENTER to save it.  I plan to peak the torroids in the final sections for best power, after I find my QRP dummyload/Watt meter.

First Ham Contacts:
Being an old sailor, my first real test of a two way conversation was on 14.300USB , the Maritime Mobile Service Network. Net control station came right back to my call IN THE MIDDLE OF A PILE-UP of many stations calling him.  The transceiver was operating on a nominal 12 volts, so power was likely 3 to 5 Watts. We chatted for a few minutes before I let him know that I was QRP using a 'handheld QRP transceiver.  He was amazed and frankly, so was I.  QRP for me is normally CW/Morse code so that it is quite reliable.  Voice QRP on HF has not been a favorite for me, though this little transceiver REALLY has it's place im my equipment now.

Shortwave Listening:
This makes a fine shortwave broadcast receiver when you use either USB or LSB and tune to zero beat.  Open the filter selection all the way and you might be surprised how well it works as a general coverage receiver. I listened to all the usual SW broadcasters and caught some news , music and ravings.

CW QRP:  3 to 5 Watts (estimated) Easy-peezy!  Nothing says efficient radio communication like CW Morse does.  Even at the 3 - 5 Watts output, I had solid conversations with more than a few hams.  I am used to this type of high performance in CW though.  The adjustable 'IF' filters make for a very selective transceiver if you like that sort of thing, and I do. Filters go as narrow as 50 Hz bandwidth.  I don't have test equipment for measuring such things, but my old radiotelegrapher's ears said it was all 'quite good'.

CW QRPp:  200mW per the manual, using the rig's USB port and a USB battery/light I commonly keep available.  This USB battery/light is easy to recharge from a car or solar panel with USB adaptor. That the transceiver operates flawlessly on the 5.x vdc from the USB port is impressive.  I answered a loud "CQ" late afternoon, using my minature straight key and he came right back from Central Florida which is over 600 miles away.  We chatted for a while and then I let him know that I was QRPp at aproximately 200mW.  We were both amazed.  He had a top notch station with a log periodic beam at 50 feet whic of COURSE means a lot, but any contact at 200mW not using a computer is simply amazing, thus proving the point that:


This is definately center stage in my Prepper's radio selection. I now have a fine CW/SSB transceiver with included general coverage SWL and 'utility' broadcast receiver, which easily fits into my shirt pocket.

I'll be trying it on my regular weekly sked in a few hours and hoping to compare it on 12 volts to my BIG home rig as a side-by-side comparisson test.  The home transceiver though /small/ draws 2 Amps on receive - not suitable for man packable use.

73/72 de RadioRay ..._ ._

A very good booklet to read for new and 'seasoned' operators. Have a look at page 12, second half of the page, where it explains the reasons why a 5 Watt Morse signal is equivalent to an SSB signal of 100W for conveying the same message. No computer required, other than the one between your ears ;-)

73 de RadioRay  ..._ ._
Morse Code / Guess Who I Heard Today ? //Gil//
October 08, 2019, 03:13:55 PM
High winds broke the line holding up my 80-10m dipole, leaving it laying in lower tree tops, AND it's pointed the wrong way to hear France.  However, I heard Gil veeeeery weakly while he was in Morse QSO with a German station.  Gil was using his home made magnetic loop on the balcony and MTR - 5 Watt transceiver! Unfortunately, I heard him probably at the end of the band opening, because by the time the Dk/F4 QSO ended, I tried calling him while he was fading fast. Of course, my RF noise level at this little country cottage is extremely LOW. His RF noise level in an apartment in a town  - I do not know, but local RF noise from chargers, displays, power supplies & etc.  can make a huge difference.

5W, homemade magloop on balcony, distance = 4196.5 mi (6753.7 km)

Food for Thought:   the German station Gil had talked with was easily readable, and -technically- could have relayed some short messages between Gil & I pretty easily. That could be handy in a grid down situation.

72 de RadioRay  ..._ ._
General Discussion / Death By Microprocessor
September 05, 2019, 10:51:04 PM
Well, not 'death' actually, more like 'DEAF by microprocessor'. 

We all know that radio communication in voice is quite power hungry, so Watt-for-Watt, digital modes are more robust in tough conditions.  Of course, Morse code sent via CW is extremely robust, yielding between 13-18 dB 'system gain' compared to voice modes, depending upon who's math you're using. 

The timing with this 'deafness' is 'educational':  About the time that Hurricane Dorian , a category >5< HURRICANE was pounding Bermuda and forecast to come up the coast and do the same to us, I received a Windows update, after which my laptop would not operate.  I went to SAFE mode, and it worked for a little while, then nothing....  This is the ham shack laptop with all my cool radio gimmicks on it, including weather satellite software to download my own images - directly, WINLINK (for emergency status checks with family and friends) & etc.  Windows is still deader than a bag-of-rocks to this day, until I have time to reload Windows from disc & all the software , then reconfigure it all.  I am in no hurry.

Why am I NOT in a hurry to fix my laptop so that I can communicate? Because my straight key and my 1939 McElroy 'bug' work flawlessly, cannot be virused, dDOS'd , have no 'back-door' vulnerabilities, and never have updates and yet work well below the noise level, require ZERO power, leaving only my transceiver(s) with their many battery back-up systems, which I am well prepared for. I have to ask myself:what would I do, if I had never learned Morse, and had to DEPEND upon a computer to communicate for me? If we loose power for the long term  , and iI decide to send 'health & welfare' messages to key friends, I can easily do that in Morse code, either casually through random hams outside of the area, or as formal message traffic via the various National Traffic System / RRI Morse traffic nets. And I can do it with very little power in CW - very, very little power.

A skill like Morse code will serve you for life. Skills take-up no room in your rucksack, weigh nothing and can be enhanced with a cup of coffee,

and brother, do I love good coffee!

Fortunately, Hurricane Dorian has dropped to a -still dangerous- category 2, and it's track indicates that it will only offer this area a glancing blow as it heads-out to sea. At least, that's the forecast. I'll know more tomorrow when I'm looking at it, or not.

de Ray  ..._ ._

We have a MAJOR Hurricane approaching (It's a CAT 5 right now)  .  If you ever wondered how difficult it is to capture weather satellite images without the internet, it's not difficult, but does require the software and a bit of practice. There are MANY YouTube posts with excellent instruction about this, so I will not repeat what they've done. 

Here is an image received within the hour using an inexpensive SDR and no automatic satellite tracking or LNA: (attached)

de RadioRay
Gil has written about it, I have, others have.  Here is another fellow and he really did a good deed by writing of his recent learning of Morse code.
I KNEW there was something 'different' about Gil.... Now we ALL know!

//Click on attachment to expand picture. //
Once again, I enjoyed a nice chat in Morse with AH6V who lives on Hawaii.  Listening to his previous conversation, he mentioned that he is 45 miles from the volcano, so no trouble. Electrical power is no issue for him, because he has been living off grid for decades.  His antenna is a dipole, high and in the trees and my antenna is not at all good for long range, being a full wave , horizontal 80m loop up only 5 meters at the support poles, sagging to 3 meters at some points in between.  We discussed his large solar power system, which powers even his refrigeration & etc. -vs- my small sailboat sized system and the work shop/ham shack that it powered. 

Radio is simply amazing and the BEST 'communications computer' is your brain.

73 de RadioRay ..._  ._

General Discussion / Extreme EmComm Guide
October 30, 2017, 10:17:22 PM
This fellow has a lot of useful information and just returned from a successfl, though 'politically frustrating' deployment to Puerto Rice.  Though a relatively new ham, this is noe very switched-ON person.
General Discussion / Where Ham Radio Shines -
September 22, 2017, 10:36:38 PM
Dominica (and many other Caribbean islands, including much of Puerto Rico).

Infrastructed destroyed...
Morse Code / Morse using Inexpensive Stations
September 14, 2017, 10:27:15 AM
Literally the other side of the world; that was this morning.  The operator on the other end is part of a French Antarctic expedition, sending from aboard their ship - FT5XT/mm.  My station is an older Kenwood that a friend found at a truck stop and sold to me for $450.  My antenna is a piece of house wire formed into an 80 meter horizontal loop up only 15 feet. I looks like this contact was 40 meter band long path along the greyline to reach him, 12,717 miles distant.  Not bad for a sub-urban ham with a fairly common station.

Morse/CW is what makes this possible.  SSB would not have made it, signal levels were too low.

When I was a boy (shortly after the Earth's crust cooled...) I had the great privilege of studying Judo and later Ju Jitsu under some very good instructors - true masters, before that term became en vogue and horribly over used.

Learning judo, as an American boy steeped in the idea that rage and bulging muscles were everything, I soon learned that quiet, focused power, applied exactly where and when required was far more effective and very efficient.  As a result of a few years of training, back then, I could fight multiple opponents and rarely tire - because THEY were burning a lot of unnecessary energy; not me. Now I am old, so opening a bag of coffee makes me tired, but I don't mind: I love good coffee. As I read more about the origins of Japanese martial arts, Judo in particular, I came across a quote that has stayed with me for life:

"Maximum effect, with minimal effort." - Jiguro Kano

To some people, that's an excuse for laziness : it is not.  To others, it is an 'attack' on their delicate egos, which are tied to things which they bought at great expence in an attempt to have internal peace, no matter how ineffective and/or in efficient those possessions are.  To back woods radio people, this makes perfect sense.  When away from the "FREE" electricity of city A.C. mains, you must be efficient in your use of power. For hams, this is largely seen in proper time/frequency selection and MODE.  It's a well documented FACT that Morse code (CW) is very much more energy efficient than voice, for conveying the same 'intelligence' ; 13-18dB more efficient, depending upon whos math you're using, but at the least, that's 20 times more power needed for SSB over CW. Translate that into batteries, chargers, heatsinks accessories and you'll see that Size, Weights & Power (SWAP) is huge compared to a QRP CW rig with the same relative capabilities , and much more expensive.

Simplicity: I was recently at a demonstration of emergency communication held in a pasture.  There were cafeteria tables, many laptop computers, some networked, A.C. power, cables all over the place and the list goes on.  When I left 24 hours later, the only successful comms as of that time was QRP handsent CW using my KX2 and a low dipole.  All CW skeds were achieved right on time, with very good results.  Naturally, as those laptops were also running NOT on internal batteries, but plugged-in to A.C. power, their RFI ensured that any comms were likely to be unsuccessful.  All that power, software, training experience and MONEY - very inefficient. These were intelligent, dedicated people , many of whom are experts in various professional fields. However, a single band QRP CW rig costing almost nothing, could do much more, for much less and fit into a pocket.

The lesson - do what works, and forget the colorful advertising that tells you that you must be dissatisfied with your life and buying their 'stuff' will make you content, successful and adored by the opposite sex: it's all nonsense.  Use whatever is as simple as possible (but not 'simpleR' than possible) and works reliably. for my experience, that is HF CW. If the 'necessary' accessories like computers, panadaptors, wifi routers, and more are required, then THEY must be added to your calculation s of SWAP.  That's a LOT of Size , Weight and Power to drain your recharging and to carry around, It multiplies the set-up and (trouble-shooting) time , tremendously.  I had two 'wires' coming out of my rig: coax to their antenna and my ear buds - to eliminate their constant yelling at each other.

Like judo: efficiency matters. During hobby times, it's basically stress free. During an emergency; it's essential.

de RadioRay  ..._  ._

I like watching Gil, Julian, Spanish QRP cw, Peter Parker with delightful videos on youtube. They go someplace, set-up a station in a few minutes and then are having fun operating and learning on the air. Enjoyment,  fresh air and into the LOW RFI outdoors: all good.

I'll keep this brief (ooooh, suuuuure, you will, Ray.)

I have noticed a general bitterness on the big name ham websites.  It's not 100% of course, but too many have nothing useful to say, so they do what they know: throw trash and break things. This behaviour is perhaps normal for baboons, but for (mostly) adults in a 'technical hobby/service', speaks poorly of ham radio in general.  On the air, especially in CW and maybe some voice, I find a different type of ham from that found on the internet forums - you know ; actual radio operators.  Other than contests, which are nothing other than an electro-magnetic 'social disease', most CW operators are polite and actually want to communicate. I also find that those who do at least some building and who made the time to actually understand a little bit about how radio works, procedures used , have things they enjoy OTHER THAN HAM RADIO and engage in at least some healthy degree of personal hygiene are more balanced in their conversation , even with opposing ideas.

This website is an enjoyable harbor.

>RadioRay  ..._  ._
Morse Code / QUESTION: Why Do Men Love Morse Code?
March 27, 2017, 10:34:19 AM

Morse Code / Copying or Guessing ?
September 25, 2016, 02:49:10 PM
As ham radio is being changed from a technical and communication service to a "radiosport" hobby, many aspects have degraded. One which is being pushed recently is to not really learn to copy Morse but rather to gain speed by quessing what the other station is about to send . I have one word for this : WRONG.  A fellow I know and enjoy his exploits was recently passing this off as good advice , with idea like "if the other station sends MALM... I know his QTH is MALMÖ." And stuff like that   Again , I say wrong.  If contest points is the only point, I suppose it does not matter, because contests are meaningless and by nature; disruptive of actual communication.

I just had a bad -partial- CW contact this morning with a code-guesser . When starting a conversation about the usual weather and plans to go to the park later, he come back with how great my signal is from the park. - uh, you're guessing ,'not copying.  Name - wrong, location -wrong most of these were similar in the first few letters. He was not copying - he was guessing. It was not a conversation .

Nobody outside of a professional telegrapher expects 100% copy.'However, this "guessing is good enough" attitude while perfectly fine in the artificial game world of contests, makes an actual conversation impossible. Fortunately , my transceiver has a button to solve this : the OFF button. I made an espresso and read my book in the sun outside.

Please - strive to copy code. Turn off the code reader "feature"'and use your mind. Morse can be very satisfying, and guessing is not the same as copying.

De RadioRay. ..._  ._
When I become Emperor of Earth, contesters will be sold into slavery and punished through forced labor for turning the amateur radio service into a wasteland. Right now we have a couple of different contests raging: some computer RTTY contest covering from 14135 USB down ward to -essentially- the edge of the Extra class portion: ditto on forty meters.  There is  automated CW contesting going on in the very small slice of "CW only" too. "599 TU" is NOT communication and I heard a brilliant suggestion the other day: anyone not passing a code test should not have access to the CW bands. It makes sense and would eliminate the pre-loaded macros, used for automated contesting.

Now - if a person wanted to have an impressive contest:

1. Rigs and antennas must be self-built from the same EXACT KIT as all other contesters
1.1 the kits are all opened 24 hours prior to contest time.
1.2 Next contest means building another kit.
1.3 No use of the same kit for more than one contest.
1.4 For CW contesting , this is the kit I decree must be used:

2. Straight-key,'pencil and paper for any logging of traffic.

3. A confirmed exchange must be a 25 group message ( enciphered ) and if the controller of the contest cannot decipher the message, the offending contestermis sold into slavery for a period of seven years.  This will ensure proper concentration. ;-)

4. All contest equipment must be self-powered: pedal , arm crank, repurposed treadle sewing machines ) I actually did this once :-). Etc.

5. Voice contests ARE allowed. However, all contestants must use THIS transmitter:

I ( as Emperor of Earth ) graciously allow contesters to use commercially made pencils and paper for their logging of message traffic.

So it is written; so let it be done !

His Imperial Majesty,

The Emperor RadioRay ..._  ._

I trade/sell radios often.  A bout of medical bills or 'lust' for a different radio sends one or more to the auction block.  However, the one model I come back to is the FT-817 series.  It's not that it's "the best" at any single mode, but it's strong point is that it's "pretty good" at almost everything.  The performance is lower in CW than a KX-3, but only by a little and it's 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of the EXCELLENT KX3.  IT's not a top rated VHF/UHF rig, yet it's perfectly capable of working simplex, repeaters and even through satellites with an Arrow Antenna. Someone a few years ago coined the phrase that sums up the 817 well:

"It's the Swiss Army Knife of radios.

That's why I own one and many accessories, oh and - did I mention that it's a good shortwave radio for listening to broadcasts as well?

The one problem with the 817 series has been relatively high receive current.  The manual very honestly states it as over 400 mA.  However, by turning off the backlight, noise blanker and IPO, mine is well under 400 mA.  Secondly, batteries and charging options have come a long way since the 817 was first introduced. Taking a tip from Survival TechNord, I looked into the new generation of NiMH rechargeable AA batteries, which have capacities around 2500 mA/hour, and take roughly 2,000 recharges!  - WOW! Julian was right-on in his assessment that these are far superior to the Yeasu 1000 or 1400 mA/H internal pack.  They charge faster, are very low self discharge and versatile, in that you can use these AA batteries in consumer devices and in your 817.  I got 16 "Amazon Basics", AA NiMH cells and a smart charger for far less than the Yeasu battery pack - with a capacity of 2400 mA/H, I get an extra 1,000 mA/H above the 'big' Yeasu pack- screaming deal!

Because my mountain/desert walking days are over, I enjoy going to parks and easily accessible places to 'play radio'.  The lower noise and ability to erect a wire antenna is a big plus for me, and a relief fromt he HOA Stasi here at the rental.  The power upgrade , using the AA batteriea makes operating on the internal pack a reality.  For those times when I want more power, I bring my Chinese amplifier, another E-Bay find. I get about 32-35 Watts out, and power both the rig and the amp from an external 4.5 a/H LiFePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery.  The Lithium IRON batteries have built in over/under voltage protection and are NOT the type which suffer "rapid deflagration" when bent, over charged or shorted... 

These Bioenno are considered 'the stable lithium batteries'. It's also rated for 2,000 recharges. and fits into the side pouch of my  , Sherpa bag.  I got the protective rails for my FT-817ND and they are totally worth it!

Between this radio bag, a push-up pole and SOTAbeams type wire antenna, I can have an efficient antenna up and radio station working in under five minutes. 

73/72 de RadioRay   ..._  ._