basic gear

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by ghrit, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I'm betting heavily that there are monkeys with less knowledge and experience (make that zero for me other than CB) than I do with radio gear. We need, from the knowledgeable tree hangers, suggestions on the gear to get started down the road to comms.

    Basic assumptions, then, and tying your expert hands for us cadets:
    -Multi band (10 to 80 meter) single sideband capable, and covering the frequencies to be guarded.
    -Transceiver for mobile or fixed locations, or separate receiver and transmitter for fixed locations.
    -Antenna suitable for all receiving, and for transmitting on the "recommended" frequencies. One for fixed location, one for mobile. Stick with omnidirectional for this start to getting the gear up and running.
    -If tranceiver, then a power supply for fixed station use.
    -Price is a critical decision maker, so low end minimum capability is needed. (But a suggestion for pie in the sky wish for thing for the sake of comparison wouldn't hurt---)

    For the sake of this discussion, leave off the very short wavelength stuff, mostly because there are no assurances that repeaters will be in service when things go all egg shaped. That leaves 2 and 6 meter stuff off the table. It's a given that there are bits and pieces of used gear on the market, but little chance that the average monkey will know if it's a deal or not, much less be able to bring sick gear back the health. So leave out used gear for now. Also, ignore any licensing requirements for the recommendations, that will be up to the buyer.

    Let the ideas fly, but please come up with a consensus, if possible, on what we minimally need to cover the monkey net service.
    ETA Sept 5, '13
    This thread has gone to 77 posts as of today, and didn't quite do what I had intended initially, we never established what the minimum gear needs to be for the Monkeynet. That said, it did and does expose some of the considerations that go into getting from a brand new dust free ticket to going on the air and really learning what being a ham is all about. Up thru #77 (on page 8!!), the focus is on a base station. #78 brings portable and mobile (ham, not CB) gear into the discussion, using my experience (very little) and thinking as a kick off point.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  2. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Here here! This is something gravely needed! I can do CB, but have limited ( read little) knowledge about ham...antennas etc. Anything and everything is needed! Trouble is, a lot of the jargon I have NO concept about, much less the raidos and technical data...
  3. Alpha Dog

    Alpha Dog survival of the breed

    Thats my problem there is so much out there and Im dumb to it, Im trying to find I guess a kit type comms that I could use as a all around system. I've got a couple friends and each one has a diff idea. Im almost at the point of going and learning smoke signals
    dragonfly likes this.
  4. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ok, to answer the BASIC Questions, first.

    1. In todays world, there are very FEW separate Transmitter/Receiver Pairs still in production these days. This concept is a holdover from an earlier time.
    2. In todays world, there are very few if ANY, single, or limited Band Transceivers in production today. This is due to Phased Locked Loop technology.

    So, most everything you will find out there used will still be a full 80-10 Meter
    (3-30 Mhz) Ham Band Transceiver. Many will include 160 Meters as well.

    There are still lots of Vacuum Tube Radios out there, but they are getting harder, and more expensive, to keep operating as the supply of Tubes dwindles. You will find lots of Hybrid SolidState/Tube Ham Radios in the Used Market from the 70s and 80s, before they had Good Transistors for the Tx Power Amp Circuits, where tubes were cheap, and RF Power silicon was very expensive. Since the late 80s very few Hybrid Radios were built, as the RF Power Transistors became much easier and cheaper to build.

    Power supplies can be as simple as a Car Battery, or as complicated as a 115 Vac Regulated Unit. Most of the post 90s SolidState Radios are 12 Vdc Input, so the Car Battery with some kind of charging system is all that is required.

    Transmitter Power is in Watts. 100 Watts will talk around the world, if the Ionosphere is causing the Band to be Open. 10,000 Watts will not talk across the State. if the Band is closed. Most Ham Transceivers are in the 100 Watt Range, and will do fine, as is. Many Hams feel they need more power than that and add External Power Amplifiers to bring them up to the 1000 Watt or higher level. Nice if you have the Juice to run one, but certainly NOT necessary.

    Antennas: Antennas can be ANYTHING that is a conductor of electricity, from as simple as a Long chunk of wire strung between some trees, to an elaborate Tower/Directional Yagi Antenna system. Balanced Antennas require NO RF Ground. Unbalanced antennas DO require an RF Ground, and there is an adage that is very easy to understand. "If you have a GOOD RF Ground, ANY Antenna will talk and talk well. If you have a crappy RF Ground, the BEST Antenna in the world will talk crappy." I was just explaining that fact, to Seacowboy, last night. So, if your doing unBalanced Wire Antennas, designing the RF Ground, to support that antenna, is 75% of the deal, to get a GOOD working system. Dipole antennas are a good example of a Balanced Antenna, that requires no RF Ground. 80 Meter antennas are Long. (140ft) 10 Meter antennas are fairly short. (108") The longer then antenna, the more work they are to install. If you are just starting out, a Dipole Antenna designed for the Lowest Frequency used. Since all the Ham Bands, are Harmonically related, one antenna setup for 80 Meters will work fairly well, all the way up to 10 Meters. If you add a Good Antenna Tuner, a simple 200Ft wire, will talk well, IF you have a Good RF Ground to support it.

    That should get some debate going, here on this thread.
  5. Mechwolf

    Mechwolf Monkey+

    I work for a cable company so I def know what RF and TX is, so could you ground to your main house power meter ground like we do for one of these antennae?
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    MechWolf, You can use the Electrical Ground, but it would make a VERY Poor RF Ground, for an HF Antenna. (3-30 Mhz) RF Grounds have very different characteristics, than Electrical Grounds, as they serve very different purposes. Electrical Grounds are Safety Systems that provide a return Path for Fault Conditions in the Distribution Systems. RF Grounds are actually part of the Antenna System, and require that they be considered , when Designing an Antenna System design.
    Falcon15, Alpha Dog and dragonfly like this.
  7. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    Today's radios can listen on one frequency and transmit on another so the need for separate RX and TX units is past.

    The first consideration is to buy a new or a used radio. Ham radio can be as expensive or inexpensive as you choose to make it.

    IMO, the first decision would be the size (desk top, mobile or smaller) of the rig.

    Personally, I'd add an internal antenna tuner for a one box solution.

    RF grounds are a little different: YB0EMJ - Ground System

    YB0 is the prefix for Jakarta Indonesia.
  8. Mechwolf

    Mechwolf Monkey+


    Thank you for providing that link. Also BTPost thank you for that explanation, I am very curious about getting my Ham license and figuring out how it all operates in design and in theory. It appears I definitely have my work cut out for me. lol
    Alpha Dog and BTPost like this.
  9. Alpha Dog

    Alpha Dog survival of the breed

    I know what you are saying Im working on mine too and there is alot more to learn than I could imagine. Thats why I try and read what these guy's post I have learned alot from reading what they post. Thanks guy's
  10. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Getting into Ham Radio can be as expensive, or as cheap as you decide. For $100US you can get all the Licensing Information, Study Guides, Test Questions, Sample Tests, and everything needed to pass the FCC Licensing Tests, given by your local Ham Volunteer Examiners. Here are three Links of websites that offer this service, and material.
    ARRL | Licensing, Education & Training | Getting on the Air - w5yi group amateur radio commercial radio ham radio

    Once you have passed the Required Test, or Tests, then there will be a short period, before your Callsign is issued, by the Federal Communications Commission. (FCC) This is when you should get interested the Hardware. (Radios, Antennas, and Antenna Tuners, Etc)

    There are plenty of used radios around on eBay, CraigsList, and other places, as well as sitting on your local Hams, dusty shelves. Ask around, AFTER you pass your License Tests, some of the Volunteer Examiners, may know WHO, locally, has Radios that are gathering dust. Antennas can be as simple as a spool of #16 Copper Wire, or as expensive as a 200Ft tower with a pile of MultiBand Yagis stacked up on top. Power can be as simple as the 12 Vdc Battery in your Car or Truck, or a complicated as a Whole House, Off Grid, Radio System, running on Wind, Solar, and Hydro Power Generation. it is up to you to get the License and then figure out what fits you Budget, Style, and Experience. We have enough Longtime Hams here on the Monkey, that technical questions can be answer in near Real Time. Tikka, Wild Trapper, Fanderal and his wife, DKR, are just a few.

    So, If you have an interest, Dig in and with a couple of weeks of nightly Study, you could be ready to find the local VEs and setup to take the Tests.

    When you get your License in that Mail, and get on the Air PM "Me" and we will chat... on the radio.
    Falcon15, Alpha Dog and Gunny Highway like this.
  11. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    I'd learned by reading second hand copies of the ARRL's Antenna Book. ;) The web makes communicating information a lot easier.

    My station ground is 3 ground rod equilateral triangle about 24" per side; each rod is bonded to the other 2 with multiple runs of braid. I also used Bentonite to cover the braid and back fill the rods.

    Great ground with kitten litter -- antenna special on

    Bentonite sounds a lot more impressive than kitty litter.. :D

    My station is grounded to the triangle with less than 1/4 wave on 10 meters.. A good RF ground is highly important even at low power levels. A benefit is a grounded tower drains precipitation static which is a good thing.. ;)

    I'd see if there is a local amateur club; a lot of them have study materials to loan and the local VEs (volunteer examiners) usually pair up with a club.. Hint: sooner or later you'll need to find VEs.

    After I decided to get my ticket I went to the local electronics supply store where they had a few Ham books. The clerk recommended not buying them and for me find the local club and handed me some info. I followed his advice with great results.
    One of the advantages of a club is you will always find someone willing to help you over the bumps.
    Hams know what to do, where and how to do it with local or distant communications. Which could be a vital survival skill.
    Tully Mars, Alpha Dog and BTPost like this.
  12. GrandpaDave

    GrandpaDave Monkey++

  13. strunk

    strunk Monkey+

    If you're at all concerned about broadcasting your exact location to radio direction finding equipment, familiarize yourself with NVIS antenna principles. It's not going to help you to reach out across the country, but local & regional coverage is pretty good.

    BTPost likes this.
  14. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Well, since you asked.

    I run a FT-817 (or an SGC2020) for mobile/portable work. FOr the field I use an old military whip antenna. Fits in a ruck with battery and food. chelter and usch for up to 2 days by itself. In the summer.


    Ft 817, a automated antenna tuner and the PSK 31 modem - the radio will support CW and SSB. Covers all ham bands up thru 440 Mhz and can receive Broadcast SW. CB, and a lot of public service stuff.


    Self contained. Limited by battery life, I use QRP (low power) to reduce battery

    For a fixed station, there are any number of transceivers (receiver/transmitter) which for HF are the best for a beginner.

    I use a vertical antenna by DX Engineering - the "BTV' series, mine cover 80-10 miters, and works for me.

    I often suggest a beginner purchase a good receiver and listen to the ham bands. Not for the faint of heart or the raw beginner, but everyone starts someplace.

    Finding a local ham that is willing to mentor you (Elmer) is always the better choice, but you can learn by reading, I did.

    The trouble with my station, is that I have been a ham for so long, all my rigs are no longer on the market as new - the 817 is available as a ND version, but 5 watts requires some skill to make contacts...

    ALL require a General class or better license to legally operate.

    The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) has a good website and lots of books - start with the Amateur Radio Handbook. Pretty easy to read.

    If you have specific question, perhaps I can help. Like most hobbies, the more (time) effort you put into it, the more you will get out of the hobby.
  15. strunk

    strunk Monkey+

    Great post, but I wanted to correct a bit that's not strictly true:

    Technicians enjoy some limited HF privileges while using CW as a free taste of what waits if they upgrade their ticket.
    BTPost likes this.
  16. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    There is a CW and Phone band on 10 Meters.... this is still HF....(below 30Mhz)
  17. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    Not much on Ten; had a S3-5 on a CE7 (Chile) on CW. ;)
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Is it fair to assume that 10meters will be a good choice for monkey contacts?
  19. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yes, that is very true Ghrit, in that there are literally MILLIONS of CB Radios out in the wild, and anyone who wants one, can find one in ANY Salvation Army, St. Vinnys, Deseret Industries, etc Used Goods Store, for cheap. No license required, and even on a Bad Day, 25-50 miles is do-able, with one.
    Nice to have that capability, and it would be prudent to have a couple in EMP proof storage, as backups, as they are literally, DIRT Cheap. Did I mention, they are "Dirt Cheap"... Oh yea I did.... having some SECURE iDen/ISM Phones for local comms and CB for extended Neighborhood Comms, using SECURE Messaging, give groups, and individuals, a basic Comms setup that doesn't cost an Arm and a Leg.......... YMMV.....
    Tully Mars likes this.
  20. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    As long as your commo loop is within CB ground wave range 10 or 11 meters would work well.
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