amateur radio Winter Field Day

This will be the first time I have participated in the annual Winter Field Day. I suppose it sounded difficult.

It is incredibly easy for any amateur radio operator anywhere to participate at some level. Sure you can pitch a tent in the snow on some mountain-top for the weekend, but you can also sign up and run right out of your normal radio shack – or anywhere in between. All operators are welcome to join in at whatever level suits their situation and inclination.

This year the Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Services group, now officially the […]

plumber’s 10-meter ham radio antenna

One avenue for local two-way radio communication is through the use of the 10-meter frequencies. I have not had a decent antenna for joining the conversation that is exercised most Wednesday evenings at 1915 hours on 28.350 MHz.

For visualization purposes, CB radios are just slightly longer, around 11 meters – that is, very similar in antenna requirements – a fairly tall antenna like the spring-mounted whips you sometimes see on pickup trucks.

I have had an antenna that transmits and receives ten meter okay, but it is in my little canyon (problem one) and is a horizontal […]

solar controller upgrade

The beast of a solar panel was too much for the economy controllers I tried. As I mentioned in my previous article about it, solar power upgrade, I put an antique ammeter on the incoming power that I could know how much was hitting the controller and a blade switch in the line so I could cut off the incoming juice when it became too much.

This was not a system I could just leave on its own. If I was ever going to be able to ignore it, and if I wanted to absorb maximum power […]

solar power upgrade

When I set up my ham radio shack six years ago, I chose to go solar-powered 12-volt because amateur radio needs to work regardless of the grid up or grid down situation.

Last year I upgraded to second and third deep-cycle lead-acid batteries. I added other uses to the system and last winter was frequently running low on stored energy. So I upgraded the panel and controller to modern, more powerful ones. The new panel overwhelmed the new controller.

It should not have according to the specs on both, but there it was. Controller said, “Too much juice”. […]

Ted Dunlap, STEE

You have-to have initials after your name to lend credibility to your projects and pronouncements. My latest creation inspired me to append “STEE” to my name. Further explanation will wreck the aura, but I’ll go ahead anyway. It stands for Shade Tree Electrical Engineer… similar to the Shade Tree Mechanic title I earned repeatedly with my auto/truck/motorcycle/tractor repair toolset.

Running a ham radio shack requires steady, clean 12-volt electricity. Handheld transceivers, HTs, or walkie-talkies if you prefer, have their own batteries. Cheaper ones use AA or AAA, but most use rechargeables whose chargers plug into standard 120-volt […]

two-way radios

can be indispensable in emergencies and other times normal communications tools are not working.

For my current amateur radio Technician Class students, I just bought 7 of the make/model I feel gives the best cost/benefit for ham radio operators. The TYT MD-UV390 operates on both the ultra-high-frequencies (UHF) of the FCC’s family radio service (FRS) and general mobile radio service (GMRS), it also transmits and receives on the very high frequencies (VHF) commonly used by hams, public and private agencies for regional communications.

Their MD-UV380 is the lower cost version of the same radio without the water-proofing. TYT, […]

2-way amateur radio repeaters

I created a presentation for our local ham radio club to explain the environment our repeater engineer was dealing with. The problem many great sites have is that their prominence attracts multiple transmitters with each addition making it harder for the repeater to pick up the signals we want out of the electromagnetic flood. Thus the situation I describe with this Downing Mountain repeater is common to many.

I called this “Tracking A Transmission”. We follow a signal from the operator’s mouth through his radio and up to the repeater overlooking Hamilton Montana. Once the repeater gets the information, […]

electricity, components & circuits

Chapter 3 in the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Ham Radio License Manual is the most challenging to most students. Remember that out of the 35 questions on your written exam, 26 correct answers is a passing score. You can afford to miss nine, or one out of every four and still earn your Technician’s License. You could miss, or even skip over every component and circuit question without failing your exam.

Do not get all balled-up in this one chapter.

On the other hand, it is cool, and even useful to understand a bit of this stuff. So […]

wave behavior

Whether it is a stone tossed into a glassy-smooth pond, sound waves coming out of a trombone or electro-magnetic waves enabling radios to communicate, the wave behaviors are direct relatives to the physicist.

One such person built a model to demonstrate wave behavior then his employer, Bell Labs, produced a movie of it. I almost called it a video, but those were not yet invented in 1959 when this was created.

Last year I pounded enough correct answers into my head that I passed my Amateur Extra exam. My motivation was that I really wanted to UNDERSTAND radio […]

comms plans for Darby Dog Derby

The 2020 Bitterroot dogsled race weekend is coming up. I have the two-way-radio support plan mapped out, radios programmed, testing complete, batteries all charged up … I think we are as ready as we can get.

For more details about the weekend, the participants and the races, go to The Bitterroot Mushers website.

Each year we learn more, adding refinements to patch holes as we find them. Ideally we have 8 checkpoints with a checkpoint worker and a radio operator at each. That’s a bit dreamy as the last couple years we are lucky to have one person […]

**Auction** Lot of 63 Vintage Electronic Tubes – update

I just listed a collection of vacuum tubes on ebay. This is my first attempt at selling through them. It will be interesting.

Something with such a small audience so widely dispersed is just right for this venue, I think.

It is a fascinating tour of early electronics, which at the time they were settling in on calling them “electronic tubes”, “radio tubes” and “electron tubes”. I particularly love the last phrase as it conjures up a vacuum tube teeming with loose electrons.

You can watch the bidding along with me. The listing is here:

They sold, […]

final day of registration for ham class is Friday

This a repeat of my previous announcement. There is one more day of online registration for Darby Adult Ed classes. We stand ONE STUDENT SHORT of having enough to make it happen.

I am bringing another amateur radio operator licensing class to Darby, Montana via the Darby Adult Education program in its Spring 2020 schedule. I have not keept track, but think I have personally assisted 40 or 50 people to earning their FCC licenses through my study groups in the Darby library.

The snide saying goes, “Those who CAN, DO. Those who cannot, TEACH”. I’m okay wearing […]