The Road Home

The Road Home
There is no place like home.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

We would like to wish you and yours a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. There is much to be thankful for everyday of our lives, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. May you find moments of peace and contentment in our ever changing world this day, and everyday, and share that peace with others.

Frank & Fern


P.S. Can you believe many of us are eating something this ugly today?  Remember, Humor is the Essence of Survival!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Nutrition of Turnips & Turnip Greens

September 8th
This is the first year we have grown turnips. Our purpose for growing them is threefold. We wanted another source of food for ourselves and our livestock. The versatility of this crop provides two sources of food, the turnip bulb and the greens. The hardiness of this crop in our location, zone 7, will provide us with greens for much of the winter, both for us and the animals.

October 25th
 
October 3rd


We haven't eaten very many turnips in our lives, actually very few. They are apt to have a bitterness to them if not picked and cooked in a way to minimize that flavor. Needless to say, I haven't had a lot of experience cooking them, but I have found a couple of ways to fix them that are okay. Not bad, but edible. 

 
First, I used the recipe that our friend, Grace, showed me. Add a little salted water in a pan. Peel and cut up the turnips. Boil long enough for them to becomes soft, then add a few tablespoons of butter. As the liquid cooks down, sprinkle in a little cornmeal to thicken. Right before serving, sprinkle in a little sugar to help cut the bitterness. This recipe is pretty good. I find the smaller turnips taste better, and they are better after a few frosts, like my gardening books indicated.

 
We have also baked peeled, and cut up turnips with carrots, onions and potatoes. I put a little butter in the pan, added the vegetables, and baked until soft. We find that we enjoy them more if they aren't the only vegetable on the plate.

So, what nutrients do turnips include? 1 cup of turnips cubes, cooked, boiled, drained with salt have the following nutrients.
  • calories 34.3
  • carbohydrates 7.9g
    November 23rd
  • protein 1.1g
  • vitamin C, K
  • choline
  • folate
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • sodium
  • omega-3 & 6 fatty acids
 
 
November 23rd
From this small patch of turnips, I have been harvesting greens for the chickens almost every morning, with few exceptions, for almost two and a half months. I expected them to die down once we started having temperatures below freezing, but that has only slowed them down. I figured the night we got down to 17 degrees, that would do it. Nope. They are still growing leaves left and right. 

So the next thing I needed to learn, is how to cook turnip greens. A woman at church fixes them for our monthly potluck meals this time of year, so I picked her brain for her recipe. She told me there isn't really a recipe, so she just talked me through it.

 First she wilts the greens in just a little water. 






Then, add a little bacon grease and let them cook. Sprinkle with a little sugar right before serving to help cut the bitterness. That's it.



Well, my greens were okay, but there are definitely things I need to do different next time. I added too much bacon grease, for one. Two, I needed to let them cook longer, and at a higher temperature. After I had added the grease and the water had cooked out, I lowered the burner and put a lid on the skillet to let them cook, stirring occasionally. I cooked them this way for about 10 to 15 minutes. I knew they needed to cook for a while, but wasn't sure how long. 

This pan full of leaves, turned out to be two very small helpings. And, that was okay, because they weren't the best greens in the world. Next time, I will tweak my technique and hope they turn out better.



What was the nutritional value of these greens? Just as with the turnips, the nutrients included in the butter and bacon grease are not a part of this analysis. 1 cup of turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained with salt include the following nutrients.
  • calories 28.8
  • carbohydrates 6.3g
  • protein 1.6g
  • vitamins E, C, K
  • folate
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • sodium
  • potassium
  • iron
  • selenium
  • omega-3 & 6 fatty acids

If I were figuring the nutritional content of turnips and greens for the chickens, I would be looking at raw instead of cooked nutrients. But that will be another post.


I find it fascinating to be able to grow food that will continue producing in the winter in our location. In an emergency, short term or long term, this could be another source of food for us as well as our animals. The opportunity we have been given to learn to grow and utilize a variety of foods is a gift I am truly thankful for. You may not want to grow turnips, but there is something that you've been wondering about. Something that will be of benefit to you and yours. Go learn it, figure it out and be able to use it. With the way things are going now days, you just never know when you may need to use your new found knowledge and skills. So get busy.

Until next time - Fern

Monday, November 24, 2014

Radio - Entry Level Equipment, Parts 1 & 2 - A Re-Post

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

On occasion, I'll read a good book, something I find interesting, I'll set it down and never read it again. I guess for some folks that's just basic human nature. But, when I was a boy, especially a hard-headed one, it seems that I had to be reminded often the difference between right and wrong. Even though I knew what was right, I had to be reminded frequently, or at least that's what my father thought, anyway. 

So, on occasion, I'm going to give you some re-posts. Understanding the basic human nature of most people, some would say, "I've already read that. I don't need to read it again." But, here it is, some good information about entry level equipment. I have to go back often and look up information that I have forgotten. But I'm getting older, and I don't try to prove to anyone, anymore, anything. And if you're new here, this will provide you with some entry level information about radio communication. 

In a couple of days I'm going to post information about some newer type radios that I've run across lately. Things change. What was new six months ago, has now been replaced, not always with something better, just replaced. So, in a few days I'll be putting out a new post about good, solid, functional radio equipment that is new to me, and probably most of you. 

Remember, cute and pretty means nothing to me. I look for functional, solid equipment that works, at the best price I can find. Because with the recent turn of events in our country, those dark clouds on the horizon get closer everyday. If you have a family group that lives within a few miles of each other, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a couple of handheld radios so you could all communicate.

On some good news, though, I would like to share with you a recent comment I received.

"Hi Frank and Fern
You may not find anything inspiring to write about today, but let me tell you....You two are very inspiring! Thank You for your blog and all the effort you put into it. Because I read your blog regularly, I showed my husband "Franks Radio Communications". Those posts helped him a lot. He took the technicians test today and passed. Thank You for being here and giving us your insights and inspiration to learn."
[11/22/14]

Getting your ham license can be very rewarding, it opens up numerous channels of communication, but it is not necessary for other forms of radio communications. I hope you enjoy this little review. Whichever avenue you choose to go, ham radio or not, communication is critical. 

We'll talk more later. 73, Frank 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally published December 8, 2013

Radio - Entry Level Equipment


Hello, Frank here.

Hi Everyone, hope everybody is well and happy. It's still cold and slippery here, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.


Okay. So you want to get started. If you've read the other posts, then you know that there is no perfect radio. So, what I'm going to try to give you here are some options to ponder and some items to look for in whatever piece of equipment you choose. I'm going to start off with HF radios. And very similar to my other posts about chickens or goats, I can only share with you the experiences that I have had. Some folks want to jump in with both feet, buy some high dollar equipment, and if that's your cup of tea, please do so. I still learn something new on a regular basis about ham radio. And I am very happy with the equipment that I use. Please don't take this wrong, this is just for teaching purposes, but if I wanted a more expensive radio, I would buy it. Yes, finances are important to everyone, and I am by no means rich, wealthy or well off. But, as a general rule, I'm in a position in life where if I want or need something, then I will get it. 

We have a local man that I listen to on the VHF channels via a repeater. He appears to be intelligent, financially successful, well educated, articulate, he passed his Technician, General and Extra in a very short period of time with no problems. His first HF piece of equipment was what I would call a moderate, nice radio. Shortly thereafter, he bought a nicer radio, and now he's talking about getting a top-of-the-line HF rig. He has also gone through the same sequence with antennas. He apparently has the financial means, and I am very happy for him. But I think he could have made better choices along the way, because he talks on the radio about the stuff that he has. And, again, this is fine. But this is not where I personally am coming from. So, if you want to buy a piece of equipment and tell everybody how much you spent, and this is your general forte, then I may not be able to help you out. If you want something that works, then I might be able to help you out.

So, let's go. Please go to the Universal Radio website. Click on the left hand side on the online catalog button. We are now at catalog contents. Let me make a statement here. I have bought from Universal Radio and I probably will again in the future. They are not the most expensive or the least expensive, but I really like their site layout and they provide lots of data about the equipment they sell.

Now the top right hand column, click on amateur HF transceivers. You will see Alinco, ICOM, Kenwood and Yaesu. Since the ICOM column is the largest, let's start there. As a general rule, but not always, their radios are listed from least expensive, going down, to most expensive. But this is not always the case.



First on the list, ICOM 718. This radio looks very familiar to me. Is is perfect? No. Under features, on the left hand side, it has AM/SSB/CW modes. What you don't see is FM. You also don't see an automatic tuner. So, if you want to operate 10 meter FM, you can't do it with this radio. If you want to look at a screen in front of you that tells you another radio's signal strength, you can't do it. This is an entry level radio that will do what most HF operators require. That is, basic requirements. 


Okay, scroll down to the accessories. Second one on the list is AH-4. That is an automatic antenna tuner. Great. But you can buy one from another company for half the price that works better. LDG Electronics makes a fine quality antenna tuner for about half the price and it should be sold right here by Universal. We'll get to that in a minute. They have other things going up and down there for other accessories. For the most part you will not need any of these accessories.

Okay, I'm going to hit the back button. Next on the ICOM list is the IC-7000. Okay, let's take a look at some of the features. This is a nice radio, relatively inexpensive. So, play around in here. See if it has what
you want. You'll notice under features on the right hand side it says, 100 watts HF plus 
6 meter. Underneath that it says, 50 watts 2 meter,            35 watts 440. 2 meter is VHF, 440 is UHF, but you know that, don't you? Okay, so this radio will do VHF, UHF, and HF. It has AM and FM and you know that because VHF and UHF are FM and most HF is AM. It doesn't say SSB? Well, scroll down a little bit and you will see it in the written print a couple of lines above accessories. This is a nice radio and if you're one of those that's wants to buy one radio, take a look. But something you can't do with this is listen to HF and VHF at the same time. Most of the time that would take two separate radios.

Okay, click back to the HF page. So, let's pick out another ICOM, the IC-7800. It only costs $10,500. This is not an entry level radio. If this is your cup of tea and this is what you want to do, then go for it. This will do more than most people will ever use in a lifetime. And if you want to tell your friends, looky what I've got, this will do the job. This radio is well, well out of my league. But it is pretty.

Okay, why don't you scan through them, play with them, look at the rest of the ICOM's. A lot of people like Kenwoods. Let's look at the TS480. This is also a nice radio. Many people like Kenwood, I guess it's like anything in
life. If your daddy drove a Ford pickup, there's a good chance you will drive a Ford pickup. Remember that some people will argue to the end of the world that one brand is better than the other. I would recommend you find another crowd. These are all good radios. Just because somebody's grandpa had another brand doesn't make it any better. But if that's what you want, go for it. Please check out the Kenwoods.

Next on this little list are the Yaesu's. First is the FT-450D. If I were not using my ICOM-718, this would be my second choice. Fairly easy to use, has a built in antenna tuning system. It is a nice solid entry level radio. If you read through the features, it offers what most people need. I would give this radio a solid look. Yaesu offers some interesting radios that most companies don't. Check out the 817, 857 and 897. These are in some way, a portable type radio. But also make sure they have the desired power levels you want. Yaesu has other good solid radios. 

Please peruse through these radios. Visit with your Elmer. If your Elmer is of the nature that only one type brand of radio will work, get you a different Elmer with a little bit more of an open mind.

Okay, let's go back up to the top of this HF list and check out the Alincos. The DX-SR8T is your true entry level radio. But it will cover the entire HF bands in all modes, has good power, does require an antenna tuner, and
overall gets pretty good reviews. Let me stress here that there are old salts out there using entry level radios and have been for years and years. The radio that they have meets their needs. I happen to be one of those. I am relatively new to amateur radio, but I have found a radio that meets my needs. I have no intention of switching. I can talk to people anywhere, and I can listen to people anywhere. This is all I need.

Okay. Antennas. The proper antenna is unquestionably the most important piece of equipment you can own. You can have a top-of-the-line HF radio, but if you have a poor antenna, or a poor connection, or any part of the delivery system is inadequate, then your top-of-the-line HF radio will only function as well as the weakest link. Something to think about.

Okay, I went back to the online catalog page, I'm in the right hand column, about halfway down you will see amateur base antennas. Click there. You will see that the vast majority of these are vertical antennas. If this is what you want, go for it. Go down to the brand name Gap. The Challenger DX, please click there. This antenna is advertised from 80 meters to 2 meters. Good luck. Remember, an 80 meter antenna, okay 80 meters is about 240 feet. 2 meters is about 6 feet. I seriously have my doubts about this antenna. But, go ahead and read the rest of them and take a look at them. When you get finished let's go back to the catalog page.

Go down one more to amateur wire antennas. There are multiple different types of antennas on this page. But they are all considered wire antennas. This is one of those cases where you need to get together with your Elmer and try to pick out something that will work for you. If you do not have a large lot, or you live with housing restrictions, then one of the earlier mentioned verticals may be your best bet. If you have a little bit more space, some older Elmers can teach you some tricks about wire antennas. Just for information purposes, I use the Alpha Delta wire antennas. Remember there is no perfect antenna either. 

Next on the list are beam antennas. For entry level, this may not be your best choice, but if you want to start out with one, then please investigate these. They are probably the best working antenna of all. Being a beam means that they are directional. So, find you a comfortable Elmer and
talk this over with them. A man down the road from me has an Alpha Delta DX-LB+ and he talks all over the world all of the time. Another man I know, that lives about 50 miles away, also talks all over the world and he uses a beam. Both of these guys are heavy into contesting and CW. So, one person will tell you you've got to have a beam and another person will tell you you have to have a dipole. 

Okay, let's go back to the catalog contents page on the right hand side, go down four or five spaces to amateur antenna tuners. Please click. There are manual tuners and automatic tuners. There are tuners that are built specifically for a specific radio. Some are after market tuners, like LDG, or you see ICOM makes tuners. Check out the prices. I cannot address MFJ tuners, I have bought other MFJ equipment, but as for tuners, I only use LDG. If you're interested go into the LDG site and they will have a flow chart for which antenna tuner works with which radio.

Coax cable. Coax cable depends on where you live, how long a cable you will need, what frequencies you use and how much power you run. There is no perfect cable. But things to consider. If you live in Washington state
near the coast where it rains a lot, then you will have a different need than someone living in the desert of Arizona. But use a good, new coax. I recommend flexible. Use quality connectors and a proven sealant for your area. And in radio, bigger is better. Yes, you pay more for higher quality cable, and conversely speaking, you get more. This is one of those cases where you don't try to save a couple of bucks. Don't use or buy pre-owned cable. Use the best cable you can afford. And the best connectors you can afford. A five dollar connector works a whole lot better than a two dollar connector. And sealant is critical. Arizona and Washington have sharply different climates for the most part. Don't buy a $2,000 dollar radio, a $1,000 antenna system, and go cheap on coax. It's just not worth it.

You're going to need a power supply. If you want to use that same catalog contents page, scroll down a little over half way and it says power supplies and power strips. You've learned there are two types of power supplies, regulated and unregulated. Some people need a power supply with more bells and whistles than others, and some people don't. I would recommend a larger power supply than what you think you're going to use. Remember, P = E x I. Never use
more than 80% of the equipment's capability. So, you have a 100 watt radio. 100 divided by 13.8 will give you about 7. Which will be about 7 amps. At the minimum, get a 10 amp power supply. But human nature dictates that you're going to buy more pieces of equipment. So I would recommend somewhere around a 30 amp power supply. Can't have too much power. So, take a look around through these power supplies. Find something that will fit your need. Some of these power supplies are made specifically for specific radios. Like I said, look at them. Some of them will have cigar plug connectors, most will have standard binding posts, newer models will have power pole connectors (some, not all). So, take a look at the Jet Stream JTPS28. This might meet your needs. 

While you're on the power supply page, scroll all the way to the bottom. You'll see power strips here. Look at these and see if they interest you. It makes hooking up multiple pieces of equipment a whole lot easier. For instance look at the MJF1129. This power strip has binding posts and power pole connectors. You ask, "What is a power pole connector?" Go back to where you just were and right above MFJ or power pole connectors, click on that site. These are real handy little gizmos. 

Okay, I'm going to ask you to do something a little different here now. Open a new window and go to PowerWerx. On the left hand side you will see
Anderson Power Poles. Please click here. Now click on the left hand side, Anderson Power Pole and look at this page a great deal. Look at the right hand side. It says frequently asked questions. You just use these to connect your power cables. These are standard connectors in the emergency rescue fields. This is something a little bit new to you, but take a look at it.

While you're on the page with Anderson Power Poles, you'll see 15 amp and 30 amp. Let's pick the first one, 15 amp, unassembled. Let's click on it.
Scroll down, it will give you a tremendous amount of information. The 15, 30, and 40 amp connectors all use the same size housing. A little farther down is a cutaway view. These connectors are really, really handy. When you talk to your Elmer ask to visit somebody's shack that uses these and you will see what I mean. 


Okay, there are a few other little things you will need to set up your HF radio. You'll need some way to get your antenna up in the air. You might be interested in some type of lightening arrestor. But be advised, nothing will stop lightening from coming into your shack. You need to unplug your antennas.

We're not going to get to VHF today. But coax requirements, power supplies, power strips, power pole connectors and all of the data mentioned today will apply to those also. This information is for entry level. It is not for advanced amateur radio communications. There are a gazillion other terms, satellite programs, RTTY, just many, many, many things. These things will come with time. So, do you know what a 'lid' is? Ask your Elmer. 

Last thing. Safety. It is one thing to experiment, it is another thing to do something dangerous and stupid. If you don't know what you're doing, DON'T DO IT. It's one thing to have a one watt radio, and another thing to have a 5000 watt radio. If you don't know what you're doing, 
DON'T DO IT. 

We'll talk about VHF next time, and sorry about the weather delay. But I would check out the power pole connectors. They are really cool.


We'll talk more later. 73, Frank
  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally published December 14th, 2013

Radio - Entry Level Equipment, Part 2

Hello, Frank here.

Hi Everybody. I know some parts of the country are getting the bad weather we got a week ago, and I hope there haven't been too many slip and falls. The snow from our storms is just about gone. Something I didn't mention last time is going outside everyday and checking my antennas. Everything was okay.


A little trivia here. Did you know that once you plant your first antenna pole, through a miracle unknown and understood by man, more antenna poles will grow? Some houses actually look like an antenna farm. So, be ready. The tooth fairy brings them too. They just show up in the morning.


Okay. Let's talk about VHF radios. But first I'm going to group a whole bunch of frequencies and meters together. Last time I talked about HF radios primarily. There are some HF radios that have VHF and UHF. I
know there are designated frequencies for VHF and UHF, but in the general conversation of radio, everything above 10 meter is either UHF or VHF. It starts with 6 meters, 2 meters and keeps going up. Everything today that I am going to talk about, I'm going to call VHF. The reason for that is that most of the equipment you are going to use are going to be similar and the characteristics of the frequencies are similar.

The last post, we talked some about power supplies, coax cable, power strips, power pole connectors and antenna tuners. Most of that equipment you will also use with the VHF radios. Power supplies for example, if you
want a simple operating system, then one power supply is all you need. Remember back when we first started talking about buying a bigger power supply than you needed to get started? Well, this is the reason why. More equipment needs more power. To operate a 50 watt VHF radio you can theoretically get by with 5 amps. To operate your 100 watt HF, you can theoretically get by with 7 or 8 amps. You can see where this is going. You can also recharge all of your rechargeable batteries, normally, from a 12 volt system. You can also charge your cell phones and operate your internet hot spot. There are all kinds of things you can do with a 12 volt system. Now remember when I say a 12 volt system that also means 13.8 VDC. So, 25 to 35 amps is a nice size power supply. Don't forget your CB radio and your scanners and your weather radio, not to mention you can recharge your rechargeable lanterns if they have a 12 volt recharging system. I even have a 12 volt boot dryer and a 12 volt chicken incubator. Okay. I'll get back to radios here now.

Again, most of your connectors, coax, safety equipment and grounding all use the same equipment. Something that will be different is your antenna. Most VHF is done with a vertically polarized antenna, which means up 
and down. Most HF uses a horizontally polarized antenna. Not all, but most. Because with HF you are normally bouncing off of the ionosphere so it doesn't make that big of a difference whether it is horizontal or vertical. But with VHF it does make a difference. Remember, VHF is primarily line of sight and the sending and receiving stations need to have matching polarity. Most VHF that goes long distance is through a repeater. The vast majority of repeaters are vertical. Does this mean that you can't communicate with a station with opposite polarity? You can, but your sound will be distorted.

Okay. So. Another big difference between VHF and HF. Let's take 40 meters HF for example. 40 meters is about 120 feet. That's a pretty long antenna even if you use half wave it's still about 60 feet. It's a whole lot easier to run 60 feet horizontal than it is vertical.
Think about it. Let's go back to VHF. You have a 2 meter signal, which is 144-148 MHz in the ham band. That's about 6 feet. A half wave signal is about 3 feet. A quarter wave signal is about 18 inches. Vertical is a whole lot easier, because you can't put a 60 foot vertical antenna on your car. Okay, people will say, "But I know guys that run HF in their cars and they don't have a 60 foot antenna." That is correct. Without going into detail, they use electronic gizmos to trick mother nature. But as a general rule, mobile HF operates poorly, especially on the lower bands.

I'm going to throw in safety right here. Never mess with safety. Don't try to over power a radio unless you know what you are doing. I'm not saying don't do it. But don't do it if you don't know what you're doing. 

Okay. Let's go to the Universal Radio website. I will say it again. I have no commercial affiliation with Universal Radio. They are not the cheapest or the most expensive, but their website is filled with easy to access information. I do use these folks and I do buy from these folks and I am relatively sure I will buy from them in the future.


Okay, we're at the Universal Radio website. Please click the online catalog button. We are now at catalog contents. I hope this page looks familiar. There is lots of information here. Please look around, play around. Let's go to the right hand column, Amateur VHF/UHF Mobile. By the way, you will not need an antenna tuner for VHF. Okay, we're there. You'll see some of the major names. Everybody here makes a capable, competent radio. Most of these are made exclusively for ham radio, a few of them are not. You need to do some research in the area in which you live. There is no reason to get a UHF radio if no one in your area uses UHF. Example: In my area there is not a 10 meter repeater. It does not exist. So, therefore, I do not need a piece of equipment that will reach a 10 meter repeater. So what I'm going to focus on is the most common combination which is UHF/VHF. When you're reading the data on some of these radios it will just use the letters 'U' and 'V', which means the radio might be capable of operating on two channels at one time. The combination could be U/U, V/V, U/V or V/U. But remember, if no one in your area uses UHF, then why waste the money? But, if your radio does have two channels and it's V/V capable, then you can listen to two VHF frequencies at the same time. Food for thought.

Alrighty. Let's go down and pick the Kenwood TM-V71A. This is a very popular radio. It has most features that most folks look for in a dual receive radio. I would certainly take a look at this one. It is a radio that is easy to modify. I'll talk more about that shortly. My first VHF/UHF was this radio. Being my first, there was a lot I needed to learn, and I found this radio to be too complicated for my needs. That does not mean it is not a first class radio. 

So, I traded it for a new Alinco DR-635T. Go back to the VHF radio page and Alinco is at the top, the 635 is at the bottom. Please open it. The first thing you could notice is that it costs less. About $60.00 less with this company. It will not do a few things that the Kenwood will do, but it will do everything that I need it to do. It is a perfectly capable VHF/UHF ham radio. It's easier for me to operate. If you've been reading my posts for a while, then you know that my wife and I both have our General licenses. To operate this radio, you need to be a Technician. My wife got her ham radio license mostly just to make me happy. Radio is important to her because it is important to me. She needs a radio that she can turn on, change the channel, push the microphone button and talk. She does not care about beaming a signal
off of a comet. This is what is in her car. It works. This is what is in my vehicle. It works. And this is what is in my house, because it's easier for me to learn one radio than two or three other radios. With this 635T I use the RT programming system, which is computer based. Some people would say that you need to know how to field program it. Okay, that means that they need to know how to field program it. I need to be able to turn it on, change the channel, push the microphone button and talk. I could care less about bouncing a signal off of a comet. 

I'm going to take a slight detour here, I'll get back to these radios in a minute. What does it mean to modify a radio? To some people it means more power, to others they want to add a system, one is called EchoLink, and there are multiple other things that you can do with these radios. But the word modification to most people means to expand the transmit range out of the ham frequencies. This radio right there, the Alinco, second
line under the picture says, "Receive coverage 108-173 MHz". It says, "transmit frequency 144-148 MHz" which are the ham bands within the VHF spectrum. Okay. Follow me here. You can modify this radio to transmit on the same frequencies that it is currently set to receive on. The same for UHF also. If you modify it, if you could receive those frequencies before, you can now transmit on those frequencies. Well, why would anybody want to do that? Well, there are the MURS frequencies around 151 MHz. There are the GMRS frequencies around 465 MHz. If you're into public service, there are police, fire and EMS which also uses these frequencies. Be advised, to modify this radio to operate out of the ham frequencies violates FCC regulations. But there are some police and fire departments that do just that because these radios are much cheaper than commercial radios from name brand manufacturers. If you have the chance, go back and read under Frank's Radio Communications the GMRS and MURS post

Now also understand that one antenna normally will not work well on all of these frequencies. It will either be too short or too long and your SWR will
increase. But there is an antenna that is made by Comet. It is CA-2x4SR. If you'll go back to the catalog contents page on the right hand side down about nine spaces is Amateur Mobile Antennas. Please click. Under Comet, about four down, is the CA-2x4SR. Please click. This antenna comes in two base types. Pay attention here. This antenna can also be used for a base station antenna for frequencies out of the ham band, also frequencies in the ham band. While we're here, go down two more places under Comet and check out the M24. This is a real good little 2 meter antenna. It will also work out of band, but not great. And it comes with three different connectors. Again, pay attention here.

Okay, back to VHF/UHF mobile. Look at the Anytone AT-5888UV. This is what is called a commercial radio. When it comes to you it will be open and have almost all VHF/UHF frequencies. These type radios can be used in
the commercial service industries which includes police, fire, EMS, schools, railroads, power companies and they can also be used legally for the ham bands. So why not buy one of these? There is no need to modify. It can be used on MURS and GMRS. I guess the primary reason is a quality issue. Some folks say these radios just don't hold up. I know people that have them and they like them. If they had been out for a few more years, and some of their early quality issues had been resolved, then I would look seriously at using these radios. As far as handhelds go, I do use a commercial radio. They have been out for a good while and they have worked the bugs out.


Let's go back to the VHF radio page and go all the way to the bottom to Wouxun. Please click on their radio, there is only one. This is another commercial radio and it gets mixed reviews. Notice the bottom line, the warranty is from the factory in China. There are no state side service facilities. If it quits working on you, you have to send it back to China. That's one of the reasons people would rather buy a ham radio and make a modification.

The Alinco DR-635T. To modify it, you remove four screws, take off the cover, locate the blue wire, which you can't miss, cut the wire, and you now

have a modified radio. Is it illegal to own a to operate out of band? Yes. Are there thousands and thousands of modified VHF radios in this country? Yes. An example here. Your little handheld GMRS radio, which in most cases are excellent radios, operate around 465 MHz. You program these frequencies into your modified radio, you turn your power down on the radio and no one on the planet will know that you are talking on anything but a handheld GMRS radio. By the way, you need a license to operate on GMRS frequencies. I have never met a person on this planet that has one. You can buy the handheld GMRS radios at any sporting good stores, Wal-Mart, online and it's up to you to apply for the license. When you get the license, anyone in your family or anyone at your house or vicinity can operate under that license. That means you do not have to have it on you to operate these radios. Go back and read the post about GMRS radios. What I'm saying here is you can have a nice ham radio that will also operate on other frequencies. It's your choice.
There are many, many other mobile VHF radios on this page. Check them out. Some companies will not sell ham radios to someone without a call sign. So be aware of that. Some companies will, some companies won't.
You need an Elmer. That's ham language for a teacher. You can find one through the ARRL website. If your Elmer is not open to ideas of modifying radios, asks for a different Elmer. Some of these ham guys are hard core ham radio people, others are just folks that love ham radio, but they don't mind cutting a wire here and there. I'd guess the numbers are about 50/50. But, generally speaking, a standard antenna, be it mobile or base station with standard coax and a standard power supply and about any VHF radio will get you on the air. Don't forget safety. I'm finished.

Another topic. I am of a firm belief that our world is going to experience some type of event that is going to shut down normal life as we know it.
The entire purpose for this blog site is to help people get prepared. If these radio posts help you learn to communicate just a little bit better, then it has been worth my time and effort. To me, communication is critical. Whether you're a listener or you want to communicate what you have heard to your little area of the country. Who knows, maybe even talking to your neighbors on the GMRS frequencies. Communications is important. A small radio, with a small antenna, with an automotive battery, a power supply, a small solar panel and a gizmo
called a charge controller, you can operate a shortwave radio on 12 volts. This will bring you your local news and news from around the world. A scanner can tell you what local police and fire are doing. That same scanner will also pick up weather and Coast Guard. That same solar panel battery will also power a CB radio, a VHF/UHF radio for ham communications, and MURS and GMRS. It will also power your HF radio where you can talk and listen
around the world. Imagine that. Something like a 20 watt solar panel, a small charge controller, an automotive type battery, a scanner, an HF radio which you can also use for shortwave listening, and a modified VHF/UHF radio and you can listen to the world, talk to the world and also communicate with your local buddies. Don't forget the humble CB radio. And you can recharge your rechargeable batteries. Give it some thought. Hard times are coming. And if you want to be able to communicate, it is relatively simple. Time is running out.


We'll talk more later. 73, Frank