Author Topic: PrepperJim Ham Update  (Read 22592 times)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2016, 09:22:40 AM »
My trusty old truck of 17 years was just declared a total loss due to frame damage.  I just spent the last 30 minutes in the scrap yard salvaging power cords and coax.

Maybe I should consider a tactical sedan.  Something that attracts Bond girls and has secret compartments for weapons and forged passports...

Offline Ms. Albatross

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2016, 09:27:27 AM »

Maybe I should consider a tactical sedan.  Something that attracts Bond girls and has secret compartments for weapons and forged passports...

 :rofl:

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2016, 09:47:15 AM »
 :popcorn:   COOL!

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2016, 05:10:58 PM »
Maybe I should consider a tactical sedan.  Something that attracts Bond girls and has secret compartments for weapons and forged passports...

The most attractive part of the tactical sedan is the car seat in the back along with all the diet coke plastic bottles on the floor of the front seat. I pick up dancing girls every other week in that car.


Offline DonC

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2016, 08:40:25 PM »
Power level plays a small part in communications. Most likely, the painful contacts were comming from a failing battery, poor antenna height, and local machine noise, (i.e. ATMs or other such interference). I've talked in excess of 20 miles using a Baofeng UV-5R and an Tram 1185 magnet mount on too of the car. When conditions are clear and I have good LOS and (yes, even on 1 watt). Rarely do I use more than low power on my HT.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2016, 10:35:37 AM »
The most attractive part of the tactical sedan is the car seat in the back along with all the diet coke plastic bottles on the floor of the front seat. I pick up dancing girls every other week in that car.

I'm past that life stage.  My youngest is almost 10 years old. 

BTW: I did purchase a used tactical sedan yesterday.  I've already installed a hidden pistol safe, and have ideas for hiding those forged passports.  Still waiting for the Bond girls to show up however...

It will take some patience and planning to setup a mobile station that doesn't junk up the nice looking car.  Unlike a 17 year old truck that I didn't blink before drilling holes, I want to take care with this vehicle.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #36 on: March 15, 2016, 07:34:38 PM »
I'm past that life stage.  My youngest is almost 10 years old. 

My tactical sedan has a car seat occupied by a very youthful child. I also don't have the looks to pick up any dancing girls. My wife's eyes are not so good so that is why she married me.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2016, 09:17:09 AM »
Two of the tires on my "Tacura" (tm) are needing replacement.  I started shopping and go to find out Michelins on there retail for $180 a piece.  Costco has them for $156 each, so I guess that's a deal.  The car's fast, but these tires are rated for 185mph.  Are people optimistic or just gullible?

Offline armymars

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #38 on: March 17, 2016, 07:24:14 PM »
   As far as the tires are concerned, think hot asphalt in AZ in the summer. I've seen bike tires start to melt. For the car don't get a Tarus SHO. The twin turbo chargers are nice, but the car doen't have enough ground clearnce. Last about the Bond girls, if you have too many can you send some my sons way.  Grin 8)

Offline Greekman

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2016, 01:06:49 PM »
1) About a month ago, I downloaded a Survival Comm PDF from Sparks31. I thought it was on his blog, but the blog appears to have gone dark a long time ago. Despite my best efforts, I cannot find the link to the PDF which I thought was excellent. If I find it again, I will post it.

Sparks moves alot. Currently he is at
https://sites.google.com/site/sparks31commo/home

in the future one can ask for the manual from me. i have it saved and backuped

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2016, 06:47:14 PM »
It has been a busy last 10 days at Casa de Jim. Nothing positive, but endurable...

I typed out an update and the forum login timed out before I posted it so it was lost. About that time, I needed to do something else so I could not retype it. So, here is the status report.

1) I am progressing with programing and using my BCD436HP scanner. It is a powerful device when used to its full effect. One of the keys to the device is sifting the wheat from the chaff in the large amount of RF traffic in a big city like Houston. Even the police dispatch has at least 6 different channels with another half dozen mutual aid channels. One mystery: my cell phone has a police scanner streaming app that combines the different dispatch zones whereas the scanner does not. I think that the cell phone app performs that function and there is not one frequency that has the dispatch. But, I am working on that.

2) I was finally able to put the Tram antenna and cookie sheet in the attic and try a transmission test. I got an independent signal report from a local ham off the repeater. I also recorded the audio on the scanner. It was acceptable quality. I think the Baofeng radio is the limiting factor, not the antenna or the attic.

3) I've been talking on the UV-82L with a Nagoya antenna while mobile. The sound quality is sketchy during parts of my drive or so it is reported. Most local hams will still talk to me, but some are annoyed either by a new ham or the low quality transmissions. It appears there is a ham clique on the linked ham network with a few dominant talkers. One day, I want to slap that Tram 5/8 wave on the roof and run the cable through the sunroof and see how that works.

4) I bought a Software Defined Radio (SDR) dongle for my computer and got software running on my computer. It actually works quite well. I can listen to UHF/VHF on the computer. While the dongle picks up HF in certain bands, I have not tried to listen to any voice on those bands. The antenna is about 12 inches long so I don't understand how it can reliably receive HF. I someone could could provide a common HF frequency and if it is USB or LSB, I would be interested in trying to listen.

5) I have not bought a UHF/VHF mobile rig yet. I am still contemplating the D-STAR IH-880H, but need to read more about the advantages/disadvantages. While talking on the local repeater, I was referred to a local ham who is the D-Star "guy". I just don't want to buy a D-Star and find out no one local uses it.

Next steps:

1) Try the Tram 5/8 wave in the car.
2) My wife and I are contemplating moving. If she is serious, I hate to run coax to the attic for an antenna. But, I may do it anyway just for the hell of it.
3) Make a mobile rig decision and buy.

All for now.

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #41 on: March 25, 2016, 05:46:34 AM »
Mobile use of handheld radios pretty much requires an outside antenna, I have a mobile and programed LOW POWER for daily use and a push of a button to increase power when needed...occasional fade of signal happen when driving amoung buildings and even trees (remember LINE OF SIGHT?)

Also use of GAIN antennas often causes problems due to size and compromise of signal due to the modification of you signal (GAIN without an amplifier means your antenna pattern is modified and so is lessened and this is often by LOSS OF POWER AT HIGHER ANGLES and results in lack of coverage to repeaters. I use a 17 inch or so mag mount antenna for DUAL BAND and never hit tree limbs,over head lights at drive thrus or parking garages (Tram 1185) and have found it actually works better than taller GAIN antennas ...EVEN AT A DISTANCE! Multiple users have proven this is TRUE and I wouldn't say it if I didn't fully believe it.

I believe in mobile radios for first radio as they have easier controls and less compromise as to antenna efficiency..
Gain antennas rarely help a hand held radio much due to lack of balance (the radio does not have equal size of ground) and often hears better BUT IS NOT HEARD BETTER.

I think very little of the NAGOYA line of antenna,too many have been used and discarded by my local Hams due to poor construction and poor performance...I tried to improve a few by PROPERLY TUNING them,with no success.Below are two low cost EFFECTIVE ANTENNAS.

Tram 1185  http://www.amazon.com/Tram-1185-Amateur-Dual-Band-Antenna/dp/B0045EQUBK/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1458904790&sr=1-1&keywords=tram+1185+amateur+dual-band+magnet+antenna

MFJ    JTM2B   http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=1200&products_id=38433
 
Due to design,most hand held radios will have interference when in high RF environments around town as they are designed primary for compromised set top antennas and so can and will have difficulty on receive when compared to a mobile radio that often have lower gain circuits with filtering for improved selectivity.

CLIQUE is often the rule as many users just talk to family and friends,you should also go slow on who you give details of your life to while still being open to discussion of weather,traffic,radio gear,and asking questions about other hobbies,etc...FRIENDS are important ,BUT should be developed slowly as they get harder to dump as you find your way to a group with similar habits and desires talk freely yet give details of your life slowly...OTHERS ARE LISTENING! AND THEY KNOW where you live!

D STAR is likely the future for VHF/UHF and buying a radio is reason enough to include DSTAR capability,I personally would not buy one just to add DSTAR to my capability ,but when buying NEW it is worth it. I would not buy JUST to get DSTAR when I already have several uhf/vhf radios on hand...I also like and use SSB on uhf/vhf and talk farther and discretely from most listeners (and without repeaters) and a daily range that include Colorado,Kansas,Arkansas,Mexico and Texas plus others from my Louisiana location..More modes and you tend to find fewer users as many Hams are slow to adopt NEW things.

You might also like to add ECHOLINK to you PC/smart phone as an alternate Ham  communications mode as you can do most all the DSTAR modes with your current equipment (but not yet connect to the dstar system) and try digital with your current phone,pad,laptop,or radio ,if an ECHOLINK connected repeater is in your area.

Questions? I have answers but now tire from typing as hand dexterity is very poor now with neuropathy and chemo attacking me.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #42 on: March 25, 2016, 08:32:09 AM »
I was also looking at the ID-880H, not that I particularly want D-Star, but it is included AND that particular mobile radio includes the additional kit to separately mount the head unit.  Most models have a $50 additional kit including not much more than a phone extension cord and a piece of metal with precisely drilled holes.

For the sedan I just bought, I need to mount the base of the radio under a seat or in the trunk, so ID-880H made the list.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #43 on: March 25, 2016, 01:46:09 PM »
Thanks Carl,

I have a Tram at the house already and am going to buy another for the car to save the time and trouble of hauling it out to the car every time I go mobile. I can drop it in through the sunroof for now. That should make an incremental improvement.

I am a Mac guy but I have a Windows 7 laptop that I plan to install Echolink on. That is on the list as well. There is at least one Echolink repeater in the area. Being in a big city does have its advantages.


Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #44 on: March 25, 2016, 05:10:10 PM »
I maintain an EchoLink repeater here in Shreveport Louisiana, 146.700 and the node is my Ham call or 475780 ( this avoids giving my Ham call)  I will be happy to offer answers to most any radio related questions.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #45 on: March 25, 2016, 09:16:34 PM »
I was also looking at the ID-880H, not that I particularly want D-Star, but it is included AND that particular mobile radio includes the additional kit to separately mount the head unit.  Most models have a $50 additional kit including not much more than a phone extension cord and a piece of metal with precisely drilled holes.

For the sedan I just bought, I need to mount the base of the radio under a seat or in the trunk, so ID-880H made the list.

I looked at the Icom 880 and the Yaesu FTM400 for quite a while before I made up my mind on the Yaesu. Depending on when and where you buy, both will include the separation kit.  I don't think I've ever seen the Yaesu advertised without the separation kit. One negative with the Yaesu is that the mic plug is on the main unit and not on the detached control unit. I don't know about that on the Icom...didn't look close enough when I was at HRO. It's easy to rectify, just buy a 6P6C straight cord and a thru coupler. Way cheaper than buying the Yaesu kit.

Thanks Carl,

I have a Tram at the house already and am going to buy another for the car to save the time and trouble of hauling it out to the car every time I go mobile. I can drop it in through the sunroof for now. That should make an incremental improvement.

I am a Mac guy but I have a Windows 7 laptop that I plan to install Echolink on. That is on the list as well. There is at least one Echolink repeater in the area. Being in a big city does have its advantages.

Before I got a glass mount Larsen, my FT60 was almost completely deaf inside my jeep and I could barely hit a repeater if I was sitting next to it. Any decent external antenna will make a huge difference for you. Night and day difference for me. I'd also recommend using a short, very flexible coax jumper between the HT and the antenna coax. Less stress on the sma connector on your HT. BNC connectors = win if you're connecting/disconnecting a lot. I used a speaker/mic with the FT-60.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #46 on: March 26, 2016, 11:12:23 AM »
I'd also recommend using a short, very flexible coax jumper between the HT and the antenna coax. Less stress on the sma connector on your HT. BNC connectors = win if you're connecting/disconnecting a lot. I used a speaker/mic with the FT-60.

I have this one and it works quite well. I bought a second pigtail for the car.

http://www.amazon.com/DHT-Handheld-Antenna-Baofeng-Quasheng/dp/B00COKNKS8?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #47 on: March 27, 2016, 06:30:20 PM »
So my Tram 1185 arrived (my second) for the car along with the pigtail. Can't beat Amazon Prime. I will use the antenna tomorrow in the car.

I ordered an Icom 880H from R&L (great price) along with a data cable and third party programing software.  I ordered the power supply (hat tip Carl) and associated 110v three pronged power cable (I don't have one I can salvage and it was inexpensive) from Amazon. I also ordered a basic soldering set and a basic electronics kit to practice soldering along with a "third hand" kit with magnifying glass to hold wire or circuits.

As a side note, I am finding that reading manuals is no longer an effective method to learn, well, just about anything. I read the manual on the BCD436HP scanner and could not make heads or tails of many functions. So, I turned to Youtube and there is a video on every single function. I finally figured out the Close Call and how to record and listen to recordings. The videos also gave tips, shortcuts and tricks to using the scanner more effectively. The manuals are very poor and not "function-based." That is, I wanted to learn a specific function, but the manual did a poor job of describing how to get to the end goal. The videos show step by step how to accomplish a specific goal.

The next step is routing 3 coax cables to the attic (VHF/UHF, Scanner, and HF) and mounting the Tram up there. Yes, I want a scanner antenna because the audio is a little scratchy even on VHF/UHF when compared to my Baofeng with the Tram. I am curious what other transmissions I am missing using the stock antenna.




Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #48 on: March 27, 2016, 06:47:07 PM »
Sounds like you are off to a GREAT START PrepperJim...height above ground for your VHF/UHF and scanner antennas will be a great improvement with your effectiveness

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #49 on: March 27, 2016, 06:49:52 PM »
Nice job.  I see R and L are recently out of stock on the ID-880h.  It's just as well, as I have to re-asses the household budget this week.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #50 on: March 27, 2016, 07:22:50 PM »
That 880H does look awfully nice.   8)

As a side note, I am finding that reading manuals is no longer an effective method to learn, well, just about anything.
I agree, most of these manuals are awful.  The Nifty-brand manuals help a lot, they condense the pages and pages of fluff into a few pages so that you can at least keep a procedure in view without having to leaf through tens of pages.  Another trick is to download the manufacturer's manual in pdf, then search use your computer's search function to find what you need.

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #51 on: March 28, 2016, 06:24:15 AM »
Disgustingly nice .....

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #52 on: March 28, 2016, 11:22:45 AM »
Nice job.  I see R and L are recently out of stock on the ID-880h.  It's just as well, as I have to re-asses the household budget this week.

Ack! When I placed my order last night, I did not see they were out of stock. My order is now on back order.

I may have to shop around since they are out of stock.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #53 on: March 28, 2016, 12:05:35 PM »
there's this podcast guy who has a most amazing sponsor, cool thing is they sell ICOM and even repacks that offer substantial savings...

http://www.mtcradio.com/rka-880h-repack-icom-id-880h-d-star-mobile-transceiver/

or new

http://www.mtcradio.com/icom-id-880h-dual-band-d-star-mobile-transceiver/

call 'em, tell 'em the podcaster sent you their way, let them take ultra-super good care of you, and enjoy the rig!


Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #54 on: March 28, 2016, 02:48:02 PM »
there's this podcast guy who has a most amazing sponsor, cool thing is they sell ICOM and even repacks that offer substantial savings...

http://www.mtcradio.com/rka-880h-repack-icom-id-880h-d-star-mobile-transceiver/

or new

http://www.mtcradio.com/icom-id-880h-dual-band-d-star-mobile-transceiver/

call 'em, tell 'em the podcaster sent you their way, let them take ultra-super good care of you, and enjoy the rig!

I went to MTC first on Sunday afternoon and they did not have the $100 discount.  Today they do. I'll give R&L a couple of days.

I did buy my scanner from MTC. They shipped fast and the price was the best out there.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2016, 08:05:36 AM »
After considering the discussion on coax cable, I decided not to run the 100 ft spool RG-58 A/U cable to the attic over the weekend (except for the scanner), order some RG-8X in shorter lengths and run it when it gets here. I really only want to climb into the attic and crawl around once. I should get the cable today from MTC. Since they are in Paris, TX and shipped by FedEx, it was fast! (H/T Cale)

After one week of back-order delay (patience Jim, patience), my ICOM ID-880H arrived yesterday in the mail. I unboxed it, unboxed the power supply I bought off Amazon, wired everything up, and plugged everything in. The software and programming cable are still on back order so I had to program by hand. Of course the manual is a little confusing, but I finally figured out how to program everything.

I was having difficulties hitting the local repeater and being heard. It was strange since I could hit it without fail on the Baofeng with the same antenna. This morning before work, I finally disconnected and reconnected the microphone and face plate which seemed to solve the problem. About the time I figured out the issue, it was time to leave for work.

I emailed the local D-Star guy about being registered on the repeater. That should happen over the weekend. Then it will be time to do some digital work.

Offline Carl

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #56 on: April 05, 2016, 08:35:05 AM »
Great progress PJ, I live in Bossier City...we might be Ham neighbors.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2016, 08:36:41 AM »
After considering the discussion on coax cable, I decided not to run the 100 ft spool RG-58 A/U cable to the attic over the weekend (except for the scanner), order some RG-8X in shorter lengths and run it when it gets here. I really only want to climb into the attic and crawl around once. I should get the cable today from MTC. Since they are in Paris, TX and shipped by FedEx, it was fast! (H/T Cale)

After one week of back-order delay (patience Jim, patience), my ICOM ID-880H arrived yesterday in the mail. I unboxed it, unboxed the power supply I bought off Amazon, wired everything up, and plugged everything in. The software and programming cable are still on back order so I had to program by hand. Of course the manual is a little confusing, but I finally figured out how to program everything.

I was having difficulties hitting the local repeater and being heard. It was strange since I could hit it without fail on the Baofeng with the same antenna. This morning before work, I finally disconnected and reconnected the microphone and face plate which seemed to solve the problem. About the time I figured out the issue, it was time to leave for work.

I emailed the local D-Star guy about being registered on the repeater. That should happen over the weekend. Then it will be time to do some digital work.

Does the 880 have dual receive?  If not, I'm thinking I would trade D-star and spend $25 more for the IC-2730A.

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #58 on: April 05, 2016, 10:48:07 AM »
Does the 880 have dual receive?  If not, I'm thinking I would trade D-star and spend $25 more for the IC-2730A.

It is a dual band, but not simultaneous receive.

I am enjoying the scanner for listening on more than one channel.  I run the scanner around the local repeaters and see who is talking and about what. I can then jump over on the radio and set the scanner back to scan mode to the other channels.

 Here in Houston, the vast majority of the ragchew chatter is on the "Saltgrass Network." I was up early this morning and there were guys on there at 5:30 am. There are a few others who talk at various times and then local swap nets, ARES, etc, but most of the time those are in the evening which is designated wifey time. I can usually tune in once a week when the youngin' is in bed and she works late or something. But when I am not able to jump in the conversation (mostly I just listen), I have the scanner going at the same time.

 

Offline PrepperJim

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Re: PrepperJim Ham Update
« Reply #59 on: April 05, 2016, 10:55:34 AM »
Great progress PJ, I live in Bossier City...we might be Ham neighbors.

I wonder if a VHF contact from Bossier to Houston would be possible. My house is at about 50 ft elevation!