Category Archives: Radio

New Shack Addition

No, I wish I had added on a shack, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon I’m afraid. But, I have a new radio to go into the little corner of the guest bedroom I currently use.

The Milledgeville Amateur Radio Club’s Holiday Brunch also included a mini-hamfest. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but I found a deal that was irresistible. Someone was offering two IC-228H with power supplies. Dad had been looking at getting a mobile unit to use as a base station, and I had been getting tired of having to move my ADI between the truck and my desk, so it was a perfect opportunity.

One of the power supplies was blowing fuses, but that was okay because I already had my MFJ. With the excitement of the holidays, I didn’t get a chance to set it up until today. It is working wonderfully! I live in an apartment, so I am stuck with an indoor antenna, and my location is in a nightmare zone for VHF anyway, but it gets me into all the local repeaters I use on low power, so I am writing it up as a win.

Now, if I could only find such a good deal on an HF rig… 🙂

A New Licensee: My XYL

Saturday, my wife – Nikki –  took and passed the Technician license exam. I’m sure we’ll be watching closely the database awaiting the update. She did it after only five days of studying after the end of Fall Semester at Georgia College, where we both work.

Needless to say, I’m very proud of her and grateful that she has taken the time to become involved in my hobby.

Maybe now, I can spend a bit more on radios. 🙂

de KF4JAL, EC Baldwin County

ares-cl-lrgWell, since it is finally posted on the website, I guess I can go ahead and announce that I have been appointed as the Emergency Coordinator for Baldwin County, Georgia through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service.

As you can see from my Training Page, I have been working towards becoming more involved with ARES for a while. After I finished the “strongly suggested” courses, I realized there was no formal organization in my home county. A few friends and I got together and decided to work towards reactivating the program.

It took a while to work through the channels, but I received the official word Sunday morning that my appointment was approved. I am excited for this opportunity to work with my fellow Baldwin County radio amateurs, the state leadership, and the local emergency management team. Public service was one of the things that originally attracted to amateur radio, and it is an honor to now have even a minor leadership role.

New Addition – Baofeng UV-82

While I realize Baofeng radios are not the most revered brand in the world, you still can’t beat the price. Yesterday, I received my UV-82 in the mail, and I just finished getting it programmed, thanks to CHIRP. This is my second Baofeng, along with my UV-5RA that I plan to now use for APRS, once I get another TNC (my Mobilinkd had a critical failure on the circuit board, and needs to be replaced).

I haven’t got to use it much yet, both of my local repeaters are off the air for maintenance, and my office does not lend itself to being able to reach the repeaters in the neighboring counties that well. But, it does fit my hand much better than the smaller UV-5RA and has a somewhat sturdier feel to it.

It does receive better; I can at least hear the WB4NFG repeater (roughly 18 miles away) even though I can not be heard by it, at least from inside the building. While, I’m sure it will not be my last HT, it is a fun addition for the time being.

News History: “GMC Radio Club wants to Grow”

Payton Towns III/ The Union-Recorder Daniel Simpson, president of the Georgia Military College AMateur Radio Club, talks into the transmitter of his radio. The club is sending radiograms to people across the country to draw interest for the club.

Payton Towns III/ The Union-Recorder
Daniel Simpson, president of the Georgia Military College Amateur Radio Club, talks into the transmitter of his radio. The club is sending radiograms to people across the country to draw interest for the club.

I was going through some old files today and came across this image. It reminded me of the story with which it was published, and decided to spend my lunch break today in the Georgia College Library going through Microfilm to see if I could find it. It took me a while, but I was eventually successful. You can either view a PDF of the clipping here, or see my transcription of the text below the fold.  Continue reading

Field Day 2014

Well, another year’s Field Day has come and gone. And, being Field Day, a comedy of errors made things interesting. To start with, I needed to be two places at one time. So, I started out the day at the Piedmont ARES site in Putnam County. After I couple of hours, I headed south to the Milledgeville ARC site at Georgia College’s West Campus.

Over the course of the day, we had a generator go out, a power supply stop working (probably as a result of the generator), and an antenna fail. But, even with all that and a thunderstorm for good measure, we still managed to have a great time eating barbecue and chatting about the hobby we all love.

Somehow, in the midst of all the chaos, we still managed to make some contacts. I was on HF for the first time since getting back into the hobby, and upgrading to General, and was able to get several contacts around the southwest and northeast portions of the country. A friend of mine sent me a message that Saturday night, after leaving the site, he was able to get more contacts at home working as a 1D than both the PARES and MARC sites combined. That’s how it goes I guess. But anyway, here are some pictures of the day’s events.

Join in the Fun for Field Day

Things have changed a lot in amateur radio since I was first licensed. Back then, VHF radio was a way to get out of having a cell phone, or supplemented it when you lived so far out in the country there wasn’t any signal. As I have gotten older and emerged from my unintended sabbatical, some things have changed, and yet a lot remains the same.

Technology has advanced beyond belief. There are modes in heavy use today that hadn’t even been thought of when I passed my Technician exam. But, the core function of ham radio, beyond being a fun STEM based hobby, has been and continues to be public service, especially in times of disaster. We live in a connected world, and I’m as bad as it as anybody. Between WiFi, 4G, and my smart phone, I am constantly IMing, texting, and posting to social media. When those connections become overloaded or go down completely, Ham Radio is ready to stand in the gap.

It does not take much imagination to visualize situations where it may be needed. From basic public service like volunteering for a race to emergency communications in times of widespread disasters, public service is where amateur radio operators move from hobbyests to valuable assets to emergency management.

PrintTomorrow, operators from around the United States, the world, and beyond will participate in a national emergency drill, known simply as Field Day. The purpose is simple, make as many contacts as possible within the specified time frame under less than optimal conditions. This year, the Milledgeville Amateur Radio Club will be set up at Georgia College’s West Campus. I will be out there for most of the evening, and hope to see you there. I’ll also be trying to at least stop by the Piedmont ARES site outside of Eatonton, if time allows.

Field Day is always a fun experience. The ARRL Website has a locator form for a site near you. I hope you get to join in!

Baofeng UV-5RA

While I by no means think this is the greatest radio ever built, it is largely responsible for me getting back into the hobby. Let’s face it, I work in education and the compensation is more intrinsic than quantifiable. That made this perfect for the budget.

While it can be a pain to program (go ahead and buy the cable, it’s the only way to do more than five channels and maintain any resemblance of sanity), once the memories are set, it is fairly easy to use. It allows you to rapidly move between frequencies by directly entering the memory number. You can also use the A/B button to toggle between two frequencies. It has a FM Broadcast feature that allows you to listen to the radio while you are not actively talking. And, for pure cool points, it has a flashlight/strobe. While it is not extremely bright, it is functional to see your way in the dark.

One drawback I’ve seen is that is very susceptible to interference. Being on campus, it is not uncommon for me to overhear the ground and maintenance crew on amateur frequencies.

No one will confuse it with a top of the line hand held, it does make a great first radio (since Radio Shack decided to get rid of the HTX-202) and lets new operators get their feet wet in the hobby before shelling out more money. With the low cost, it is also possible to get several to have as back ups, or paired with a portable TNC for APRS/Data use.

Being Prepared without being a Prepper

I do not know what it is, but prepper culture is huge right now. I don’t know if it is the success of television shows like The Walking Dead, or fact that we now have a culture who has lived through Y2K, 9/11, the end of the Mayan Calendar, and as of last Saturday, the end of the Viking Calendar. Since I have been accused of being a prepper several times in the last few weeks, I wanted to give this some discussion.

There is a HUGE difference in being prepared for natural and man-made disasters, and stockpiling everything, getting ready to live off the grid for years at a time, and looking forward, some with eager anticipation, to “the end of the world as we know it.” One is being prudent, one is being a fear monger.

In the last few weeks we have had two ice storms, a tornado, and an earthquake in and near Milledgeville. Going back further, we can add a bomb threat leading to a campus evacuation and automobile accidents leading to power outages to the list. While these are not events that would lead to the end of the world, they are events that could make a big difference is your life, at least for the short term.

Everyone is different, and so being prepared means something different to each person. We have a lot of storms in our area, but not many earthquakes. So, it is more important to be ready for a storm. Ice storms, while they have happened twice in the past month, are generally a every 2-3 year occurrence.

So, what should you have to be prepared, without going to the level of being a prepper? Here are some of my thoughts. There are two things you need to think about. What do you need, and where do you need it. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs comes into play here. While self-actualization is good, it is not what you’re going to be thinking about when you do not have food and shelter.

As for where, think about where you spend most of your time and what would happen while you were there. Most of us are normally either at home, at work/school, or in our car. If you get iced in at your home and the lights and water go out, what would you do? What about at work? What about in your car? It does you no good to prepared at one place, but have nothing at the others. What you need at each location varies. Your goal for each location would also vary. For example, if you were at work or in your car, your goal would most likely to be to get home. Where, if you were at home, you’d want to be able to hunker down and make it through whatever the problem was.

Every individual’s level of preparation is going to be different. It could be as simple as having a blanket and flashlight in your car, although I strongly encourage you to at least add jumper cables, walking shoes, some snacks, and bottled water to that list. Keep some peanut butter, crackers, and water in your dorm room or office in case there’s an extended lockdown. Flashlights would also come in handy there. Think through how you would contact your family if the telephone and cell phone networks are down or overloaded (Hint: getting a text message out is easier than a voice call).

Both the federal government and the State of Georgia have extensive resources and lists of things to think about. Or, you can even go on some prepper sites. Just keep in mind that you are more likely to need the kit for 72-96 hours due to a storm than for the end of the world as we know it.