Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

status report – comms and relatives

Coming soon …

My main desk and radio table are set up.

My 12-volt panel, batteries and terminal junction are set up.

My 2-meter and GMRS (short range county-wide) radios are on the air.

Yesterday I got a 3/4″ copper pipe RF ground from the shack wall behind my radios via 3 soldered elbows to the surface of the ground outside. I want to extend the pipe much further across the yard, and bury it as soon as the earth thaws.

I previously installed a multi-strand heavy (I think #6, maybe #2) cable from a common post near the radios, out and onto a grounding stake.

I anticipate setting up multiple grounds and trying each individually and in combinations, for effectiveness.

My antenna mast is moderately difficult to raise and lower, but I can do it alone with 4:1 block and tackle. Belay that, I used to be able to do it alone before I broke a rib. I expect to be babying the rib until mid-February. I have a plan to add more counter-weight when the help is available.

The mast has to come down once more to install a pulley for my inverted-V antenna before my HF (long-range radio) comes on the air. I then need to cut and put ends on some coax cable before I reach Montana and the rest of the world. I have yet to cut into my spool of coax, use my coax tools or parts. Time to get off that peg.

My plan for Darby area comms focuses on easy-to-acquire GMRS radios. Our new Bunkhouse-Knoll repeater is working very well. From Missy’s handheld in our house to me inside the tire shop in Hamilton worked great. I had to go outside to hit the repeater in Darby for a completed conversation, but the mobile units in our vehicles with more power and larger antennas do significantly better… which is good Bitterroot-wide coverage indeed.

The Conner 2-meter repeater does not get into our canyon, but reaches well up the West Fork. I haven’t tested the range of the Conner GMRS repeater much. It will also be interesting to find if the Darby GMRS repeater reaches up the West Fork, and how far. I will be testing ranges of the various modes, along with working at increasing the number of operators.

Combining two data sets, the winter weather and broken rib limitations says that the next couple months would be a good time for me to study up for my Amateur-Extra ticket, the next step up in ham license for me. I am inclined to give that a go, AND to up my game as far as comprehending and setting up my own radio gear, notably antennas, as well as being more help to others.

I’m thinking of starting small … I have a GMRS base station in my shop that needs an antenna. I intend to make one from scratch soon. I don’t need strong ribs, chest muscles, or great knowledge to do that. Hitting the repeater a quarter mile away is the MUST. Everything beyond is icing on the cake.