Bitterroot Bugle post categories

Global Skywatch

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, also known as Tyterra builds well-reviewed radios in relatively affordable price ranges. The transmitters, receivers, speakers, microphones, displays, controls and antennas all […]

2-way 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, it transmits it out from a large antenna with 50 watts of power pushing it as much as 50 miles away. […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

GMRS radio hardware

Tytera MD-390 $160I recommend GMRS radios as a backbone community communications system. I published a recommendation for handheld radios back in April this year… see http://www.bitterrootbugle.com/2018/04/08/handheld-radio-recommendation/. I will not repeat all of that detail or links here. I have not changed my suggestion, but am documenting more hardware in this post to make for a complete home and mobile set for the family. Your first move into GMRS radio is, according to me, getting a TYT MD-390 for $160. Everything built in. One tidy package. One modest price. For $25 and up you can get various BAOFENG models that can do two-way GMRS communications. Those are quite different in operation and have a learning curve that frustrates many new owners […]

Radio Field Day at Hamilton Airport

Amateur radio’s biggest event of the year is this weekend all across the USofA. The main event is to encourage individuals, groups, clubs and teams to deploy their radios into “field locations” – that is, to set up and practice the use of mobile, temporary radio communication centers. Part of the game is to contest and see how many contacts each unit can make across the nation. That particular aspect of the program runs from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. The Bitterroot Amateur Radio Club (BARC) typically will share contact information with other temporary field stations in 20 or more states during the 24-hour contest period. This also happens to be the weekend of Hamilton’s annual Fly In, which this […]

handheld radio recommendation

Tytera MD-390 Progress in two-way radios is similar to that in all other electronics. That is to say this recommendation will not be the optimum choice years from now. Nevertheless, this radio can serve you well for many years. The other caveat is there are many good choices. This is only one of them. I am making this suggestion to help the novice find a solid handheld transceiver that is well received within the amateur radio community. In a crowded field of feature-rich radios, the MD-390 has most of what you would want while being in the lower part of the $25 to $500 price range ($130). IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you order this in the 400-480MHz UHF (ultra-high-frequency) model […]

become an amateur radio operator

Thursdays 4:30-6:30pm Darby Library meeting room July 13th – September 7th Handy in many situations, radio communications can be life saving when phones and Internet are down or out of reach Ham radios start where walkie-talkies leave off, with licensed radio operators communicating around the corner and around the world. ARRL License Manual costs $29.95 includes chapters on every aspect of the licensing exam and numerous practice tests Darby Thursday study sessions are FREE YOU can be an amateur radio operator No electronics background required Click this link for a .pdf poster advertising the class:Ham-radio-class-poster-7-2017 Below is a .jpg image of the class advertisement. TESTING SESSION JULY 17th For those ready to test for Technician, General or Amateur Extra […]

Become a HAM radio operator

Thursdays 4:30-6:30pm Darby Library meeting room July 13th – September 7th Handy in many situations, radio communications can be life saving when phones and Internet are down or out of reach Ham radios start where walkie-talkies leave off, with licensed radio operators communicating around the corner and around the world. ARRL License Manual costs $29.95 includes chapters on every aspect of the licensing exam and numerous practice tests Darby Thursday study sessions are FREE YOU can be an amateur radio operator No electronics background required Click below for a .pdf poster advertising the class Ham radio class poster 2017

deployable radio

This ammo box is actually a handy way to carry a 2-way, 2-meter radio. I built this organizer for a friend’s radio setup. He gave me the radio, battery and fuse block to work with. Customer specifications said it should be tipped on its side, opened and operational from that position. The radio was 20 centimeters too deep to fit as requested even pressed against top and bottom. Plus I wanted room to keep it from contact with the metal box. What you see here is actually my third prototype. With the first, I ASSUMED the radio would fit in the box exactly as specified by the customer. It is not so much that ‘the customer is always right’, […]

two-way radios for you

Yaesu FT=60R Dual Band Handheld $172Baofeng dual band UV5R handheld $36Below, I am republishing information about a class this coming Saturday. Today and tomorrow I am refining the information I will be presenting and the exercises we will be doing. As I assemble the video clips, handouts and class outline, I recognize the value I am offering. Even my family and best friends won’t get the information out of me in a more organized, concise way. On either side are two choices of dual-band radios. To the left is the $172 Yeesu. It could be a Motorolla, Kenwood or other well-established amateur radio producer. The price could run from around $170 on up to $300 or more. They feel dense; […]

purchase and use of BaoFeng two-way radios

BaoFeng UV-82HP$62.89UHF / VHF128 ChannelsOutput: 7 Watts I have helped well over a dozen people earn their amateur radio licenses. But I recognize the effort to study for, and pass the FCC exam is not for everybody. Much more accessible is The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) licensed radio service. A $70 FCC GMRS license has no testing requirements and covers your entire family’s use for 5 years. BAOFENG makes good, affordable radios that can listen to several other bands and legally enable you to transmit, that is communicate, via GMRS channels. Significantly, unlike the inexpensive blister-pack big-box-store radios, these transmit at much higher powers, and are capable of utilizing repeaters for long-distance communications. My favorite of their current offerings […]