Bitterroot Bugle post categories

Global Skywatch

Darby Adult Education

I am again offering to teach two-way radio communications to my neighbors in the Darby area.

I have formatted the classes differently, and added significantly to the offerings.

There is a sequence to these classes, from easiest to acquire to more challenging.

The first class is strictly about GMRS radios. This license has no training, knowledge or testing requirement. You send 70 bucks to the FCC and get their permission for your whole family to use the frequencies for the next 5 years. The class I am offering for these only takes 2 hours out of a Saturday mid-morning. I encourage the whole family to sign up and come get started. GMRS radios can be powerful tools for Bitterrooters.

Next up is a 9-week series of classes focused at passing the FCC test for an amateur radio operator at the Technician level – the lowest, and therefore easiest to acquire of the three they offer. I scheduled the library meeting room for a 10th Saturday that would be the day Volunteer Examiners come to give the tests … and pass every person who attends all 9 classes.

The third class I am offering is four hours on learning to use BAOFENG radios.  These are strikingly affordable and versatile radios covering the amateur as well as GMRS bands. But they are hard to get the hang of. This class should get you started, but you better keep using it or you will lose that skill.  I intend for us all to practice together on some regular basis after we take this class.

For more information, contact Darby Adult Education.

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General Mobile Radio Service in the Bitterroot

Handy in many situations, radio communications can be life saving when phones and Internet are down, out of reach. or out of touch. GMRS radios have improved dramatically in the last few years, and are particularly useful in Ravalli County.

Complimented by several privately supported repeaters, GMRS signals from repeater-capable hand-held and mobile radios now cover nearly all of the Bitterroot Valley, and reach remote areas with two-way communication. FCC GMRS licenses cost $70 for a family for five years.

What are the requirements? What radios should you have for emergencies? What do they cost? What do they do? How can you be sure they will be available when you really need them?

Instructor: Ted Dunlap

Instructor Info: Ted is an FCC-licensed General-class amateur radio operator, and he is locally active in emergency radio communication preparation.

Dates: Feb. 4 (1 Session, Saturday)

Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Location: Darby Community Library

Student Fees: $4 Regular OR Senior (60+) $2

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Earn your FCC amateur radio license

HAM radios can communicate across the yard and around the world. They reach places, and in times when no other form of communication available to us can. Yes, there is a test. But I have watched self-described non-technical, non-scientific people pass those tests, while none of my study group participants failed.

Amateur radio license categories are Technician, General, and Amateur Extra, with the knowledge and testing requirements going up as the licensed uses expand. This course will focus on achieving passing grades on the Technician exam, with appropriate understanding of the knowledge expected of Tech-licensed radio operators.

While this class is offered through the Darby Adult Ed program, there is no reason interested children cannot earn their licenses alongside their parents, family, friends and/or neighbors. Many scout troops, middle, and high schools have ham radio clubs with licenses, radios and adventures including round-the-world and out-of-this-world (space station) communications experiences.

Our textbook will be the ARRL Technician Class License Manual. It includes all the information you need to correctly answer every test question, along with text of those questions in the back of the book and a self-test DVD. I will have copies for sale at cost on the first day of class.

Instructor: Ted Dunlap

Instructor Info: Ted is an FCC-licensed General-Class amateur radio operator, past president of the Bitterroot Amateur Radio Club, locally active in emergency radio communication, and has helped over a dozen people in the South Bitterroot become licensed ham operators in the last two years.

Date: 9 Saturdays, February 11, 18, 25, March 4, 11, 18, 25, April 1, 8

Time: 10:00 am – noon

9 sessions; 2 hours each

Location: Darby Library

Materials: ARRL Technician Class License Manual ($30 paperback, $33 spiral bound)

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Learn to use your Baofeng radio

The Baofeng UV-5R and BF-F9 are economical, compact dual band UHF/VHF amateur radios. With 128 channel capacity and up to 12 hours of battery life, they are good choices for ham radio operators who need mobility at low cost. Many licensed ham operators have these as backup and alternative-use radios.

The low, low entry prices for these radios are great, but have high learning curve costs. These $35-$60 radios do many things with software that the $175-and-up radios do with hardware. That makes them harder to learn and more challenging to operate.

This 4-hour class, split by a one-hour lunch break, will get a group of local radio operators started, and running with these useful radios. We will learn to use, and practice using them for 2-meter ham as well as GMRS two-way radio operations. Students must come with a Baofeng Dual Band UHF/VHF Radio, version 2 (V2) -5R and BF-F9.

Instructor: Ted Dunlap

Instructor Info: Ted is an FCC-licensed General-Class amateur radio operator, past president of the Bitterroot Amateur Radio Club, locally active in emergency radio communication, and has helped over a dozen people in the South Bitterroot become licensed ham operators in the last two years.

Dates: April 22 (1 Session, Saturday)

Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, lunch break, and 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Location: Darby Community Library

Student Fees: $8 Regular OR Senior (60+) $4