Bitterroot Bugle post categories

Global Skywatch

2-meter directional antenna for ten bucks

Two way radios, and particularly the little 5-watt Handheld Transceivers (also known as HTs or walkie-talkies) put their little bit of power in every direction. Yet we sometimes know exactly what direction we want to transmit and would prefer all the power go that way. A century ago two Japanese scholars created an antenna design to do exactly that. We call the design by one of their names, Yagi, but it seems the other, Uda, was the real inventor. Such is history. Following 100-years’-worth of radio technician footsteps, I have designed a simple hardware-store Yagi antenna to focus 147 MHz signals in a primary direction. I used some heavy copper grounding wire and a 4-foot piece of PVC pipe, […]

upcoming amateur radio class

My favorite radio instructor is presenting a class leading to the second, middle level FCC amateur radio operations license. Eric brings comprehensive knowledge, empathy, and energy to the classroom. A fine set of qualifications for anyone who wants to learn the subject. If you have your Technician license, Eric will lead you to successfully cresting the next hurdle into the world of short, medium and long range radio communications. If you do not yet have any amateur radio license, grab both the technician and general books and learn from him while you study up for the first … and quite possibly pass them both by the end of class. – Ted – In case you wish to print it out, […]

grid failure drill July 26-28

AmRRON  is a network of Preppers, Patriots and Redoubters who have volunteered to keep each other connected when other means of communications are unavailable or unreliable. AmRRON operators participate in >>scheduled nets<< to practice using non-conventional communications. Read more about AmRRON here. Here is an audio podcast introducing the exercise coming up. It is a very good overview not just of the exercise, but explains the strong possiblity this event could be very real at any time. They combined current confirmed news into their training exercise T-REX. Partisan Radio Volume 46 – Here is part 1 of the two part series explaining the T-REX 2019 exercise. T-REX 2019 Part 1 Finally, here are excerpts from the AmRRON website. -Ted T-REX […]

Jungle Antenna Building Workshop

July 6, 2019 – Darby, Montana Six of us came to my Bunkhouse Road workshop from SE Darby hills, Hamilton and Alberton canyons – Technicians, Generals, Amateur Extras Some white-board work explaining the math in metric and inches Our calculations were primarily done in metric (Ted’s slide rule prefers it) 300,000,000 meters per second / 147,000,000 Hz = 2.04 meters = 204 cm a quarter wave antenna will be about 50 cm long, as will each radial Measurements were done with metric + inch tape measure Hardware: dual binding post to BNC connector BNC to SO-239 Adapter choices of light and heavy electric fence wire electric fence insulators home-made pvc pipe insulators Poly-pipe Tees and drip irrigation pipe for radial […]

antennas and cables

I do not recommend you begin connecting your radio to a remote antenna by building your own antenna OR cable. It is not as simple as it looks. Your first remote antenna and cable should be purchased from a reputable engineering firm. Here are three choices: Ham Radio Outlet DX Engineering cables DX Engineering vhf uhf antennas Doing it like that will get you a good solid start where setting up and operating your radio gear are the primary variables. IF you decide to immerse yourself into antenna and/or cable building you will have a pro-built setup for comparison and example. There are nearly unlimited resources in print and on the Internet. DuckDuckGo search for whatever you want – books, […]

personal Victory!

I determined to UP MY GAME in amateur radio knowledge this year. My primary methodology was to work towards passing the final hurdle in amateur radio to earn my Amateur Extra ticket. It demands a wide range of knowledge covering the spectrum of radio construction, operation and transmission. Two unanticipated things I learned from this effort were: 1) I really don’t want to know how radios are constructed… though much of that is required to pass the exam. 2) Simultaneously teaching a class of newcomers to pass their Technician level exams while studying to pass the third and final level was not helpful. Other lessons along the way. The ARRL study manuals are worth every penny and every hour […]

Bitterroot emergency comms

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, once again I address the subject of what do you do when your phones and Internet stop working? Wonder and Nothing useful Are the two answers most people will default to. I know I am unusual in planning and preparing for such a scenario. I not only think of ME and mine, but want others to have value in their radios as well. So I produce an attractive, sturdy laminated card that they just might keep with their two-way radio enabling them to find value in it when no other means of mid-range communication is available. I hereby introduce GEN III of my cards. I will distribute as widely as […]

Bitterroot emergency comms plan

BEARS, that is the Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Services, works towards having viable communication resources in place when our neighborhood most needs it. A radio and operator are useless without another radio and operator at the other end. Two-way radio is by definition a sending and receiving operation. The more operators on the network, the better our information is and the wider we can spread it. Likely more than 99% USofA adults ASSUME their phones and wi-fi devices will never fail them. In real-life emergencies, they are nearly always shocked and hopeless because those systems do fail. I print, laminate and distribute 4″ x 5″ cards with information enabling unused radios in the hands of unpracticed operators to receive and […]

Bitterroot Emergency Radio Plan

BEARS, that is the Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Services, works towards having viable communication resources in place when our neighborhood most needs it. A radio and operator are useless without another radio and operator at the other end. Two-way radio is by definition a sending and receiving operation. The more operators on the network, the better our information is and the wider we can spread it. Likely more than 99% USofA adults ASSUME their phones and wi-fi devices will never fail them. In real-life emergencies, they are nearly always shocked and hopeless because those systems do fail. I print, laminate and distribute 4″ x 5″ cards with information enabling unused radios in the hands of unpracticed operators to receive and […]

NVIS amateur radio antennas

Unless we are on a mountain peak or Kansas flatlands with line-of-sight views of everyone we want to talk with, there are barriers resisting our two-way communications. With our Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radios we compensate by installing specialized radio systems (repeaters) on high ground to repeat signals over a much wider area than we can reach from our own radios. These can extend our VHF and UHF ranges to 50 miles or so. Repeaters are both expensive and could be a weak link in emergency comms – that is they may not be working in certain disaster scenarios. Amateurs with General or Amateur Extra class licenses can use their High Frequency (HF) radios to […]

popular class

Turnout for the Spring 2019 ham radio class first day was outstanding. Icing on the cake is that a highly-knowledgable, skilled, professional teacher is bringing his young son to every class. I could not ask for a better co-teacher. Sixteen students and two instructors filled the Darby Library meeting room. They came from all over Ravalli County most planning to earn their FCC Technician license, but a few will be testing for the next level, the General class. I’m studying double: their book to insure good mentoring every Saturday plus the Amateur Extra manual so I can take the third and final step up the amateur radio licensing ladder when we all test in May. My drafted co-teacher came from […]

Bitterroot Ham class starts Saturday

I am reposting this to catch any stragglers. Response has been good enough to assure the class will take place. I will know in a few days how many new FCC license holders will be testing mid-May. One thing that holds many potential licensed hams back is their lack of electronics, radio, electrical or related background. I absolutely promise that electro-mechanical incompetents can and do pass this test. Another question I get is the expense. Paperback Technician Manuals are $30. Spiral-bound are $33. The testing session costs $17. Passing your first test earns you the FCC Technician license with no further costs between now and renewal ten years from now. Radios can be purchased for $25. It goes up…up…up from […]

Darby ham radio operator class begins March 16th

I am bringing another amateur radio operator licensing class to Darby, Montana. I have not keept track, but think I have personally assisted 15 or 20 people to earning their FCC licenses through my study groups in the Darby, Montana library. My track record garnered me the assignment as the local ham club (BARC) education coordinator. The club has many people who know radio A LOT better than I do, but none who can teach as well. The snide saying goes, “Those who CAN, DO. Those who cannot, TEACH”. I’m okay wearing that. Good instructors are as rare as good anything else. I did not choose this calling, blessing or curse. It chose me. Run with your talents. If you […]

ham class begins in March

I am bringing another amateur radio operator licensing class to Darby, Montana. I have not keept track, but think I have personally assisted 15 or 20 people to earning their FCC licenses through my study groups in the Darby, Montana library. My track record garnered me the assignment as the local ham club (BARC) education coordinator. The club has many people who know radio A LOT better than I do, but none who can teach as well. The snide saying goes, “Those who CAN, DO. Those who cannot, TEACH”. I’m okay wearing that. Good instructors are as rare as good anything else. I did not choose this calling, blessing or curse. It chose me. Run with your talents. If you […]