Ted’s essays

Light Up The Firehalls – May 2022

For several months now the Corvallis American Legion amateur radio club subsection has been operating field exercises from various volunteer fire department firehalls throughout our county – the area we fondly call “The Bitterroot”. Our long-term goal for this program is for KG7SPL to be a backup communication service for the volunteer fire departments of Ravalli County. The VFDs are the core of emergency response in The Bitterroot. They are located in every area, have agreed-upon coverage maps and can muster 20 or more active, skilled volunteers in a matter of minutes. Our route to providing comms backup involves a monthly exercises of our equipment and operators from the VFD stations. We go live at 1300 hrs local (1:00 […]

Gone Fishing

Normally clear studio surfaces speak of a cluttered life I am pulling out of my garage in one week… heading south to Utah Motorsports Complex for National Auto Sports Association’s March Madness. I am transitioning from The Beast to a much nicer, newer Z-71 optioned Suburban, The Z-Wagon. The Beast had an antenna farm on the back 1/3 of its roof and capability of running half a dozen amateur radios at a time on numerous different frequencies. I am putting some time, thought, energy and money into adding one multi-band radio to The Z-Wagon. Additionally there are numerous mechanical fix-ups that go with replacement vehicles. I initiated and had to manage a local emergency-preparedness radio exercise I called “Light Up […]

I lost a friend

I happened to be listening on the scanner Jeff programmed for me in exchange for some stuff I did for him. An emergency evolved starting with “a man fell, hit his head, is not breathing, CPR is ongoing”. I realized I knew the location well, the man, and the other people directly involved. I made a phone call to a mutual friend who would be in a better position to take useful action, find more information, or actually execute a worthy response. I listened as the situation transitioned through several steps to “coroner called”, and knew I had just lost a friend. I don’t know if the information sequence was good for me or not, but it did hit […]

amateur radio Winter Field Day

This will be the first time I have participated in the annual Winter Field Day. I suppose it sounded difficult. It is incredibly easy for any amateur radio operator anywhere to participate at some level. Sure you can pitch a tent in the snow on some mountain-top for the weekend, but you can also sign up and run right out of your normal radio shack – or anywhere in between. All operators are welcome to join in at whatever level suits their situation and inclination. This year the Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Services group, now officially the Corvallis American Legion Post 91 radio club KG7SPL will be running two radio stations in a tent at the top of the […]

amateur 2-way radio

Most people naively assume their telephones and Internet will continually fulfill their communications wants and needs without fail. You are not that foolish. I know that because you are here. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) currently rules the radio-frequency airwaves in the USofA. In order to lawfully learn and practice two-way-radio communications today you need to follow their rules. One of them is that in case of serious emergency you can use any radio that is available and capable of communication. That same exemption applies in case of a breakdown in rule of law. Here I will focus on learning and using radios according to FCC regulations. You do not want your first two-way-radio experience to be in a dire […]

plumber’s 10-meter ham radio antenna

One avenue for local two-way radio communication is through the use of the 10-meter frequencies. I have not had a decent antenna for joining the conversation that is exercised most Wednesday evenings at 1915 hours on 28.350 MHz. For visualization purposes, CB radios are just slightly longer, around 11 meters – that is, very similar in antenna requirements – a fairly tall antenna like the spring-mounted whips you sometimes see on pickup trucks. I have had an antenna that transmits and receives ten meter okay, but it is in my little canyon (problem one) and is a horizontal while the rest of the local operators are using verticals (problem two). So I launched a project to design, build and […]

solar controller upgrade

The beast of a solar panel was too much for the economy controllers I tried. As I mentioned in my previous article about it, solar power upgrade, I put an antique ammeter on the incoming power that I could know how much was hitting the controller and a blade switch in the line so I could cut off the incoming juice when it became too much. This was not a system I could just leave on its own. If I was ever going to be able to ignore it, and if I wanted to absorb maximum power from the sun on this system I needed to upgrade the controller. When my refund from the smoked controller arrived I did […]

solar power upgrade

When I set up my ham radio shack six years ago, I chose to go solar-powered 12-volt because amateur radio needs to work regardless of the grid up or grid down situation. Last year I upgraded to second and third deep-cycle lead-acid batteries. I added other uses to the system and last winter was frequently running low on stored energy. So I upgraded the panel and controller to modern, more powerful ones. The new panel overwhelmed the new controller. It should not have according to the specs on both, but there it was. Controller said, “Too much juice”. Readily admitting to my ignorance, I contacted a company with a long history of servicing the off-grid community and ordered a […]


The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) began as volunteer radio hobbyists relayed welness checks from war zones back to families stateside, quickly morphing into passing information traffic back and forth using the budding radio technology. Amateur radio has been innovating ever since. Among the tools developed to insure accurate message handling is the RADIOGRAM. A form that insures the intended message reaches the target intact. Here is a .pdf of that form so you can see it full sized and print your own. RADIOGRAM There are a number of very good handling instructions on the world wide web. Shop around for your favorite: https://www.qsl.net/mingoares/forms/instructions.html http://www.ws1sm.com/Message-Handling.html https://emcommeast2011.s3.amazonaws.com/RadioGram.pdf I made a copy that is as brief as I could while maintaining the […]

ICOM IC-F3161DS handheld radio SALE

My wife has transitioned from carrying one high-end VHF (Ham 2-meter) ICOM radio as well as one high-end UHF (GMRS+FRS) Connect Systems radio to a single dual-band Chinese TYT radio. That means her very well maintained Ham radio is available on a first come, first served basis. The CS radio is not worth enough to sell. I will just add it to the pool of GMRS loaner radios. Her ICOM IC-F3161DS HAM radio comes with a charger and two batteries that are in excellent condition. While she carried this radio in her travel bag, it has very little use and no scars or marking anywhere. I do not know where the cover for the speaker-mike connection is, but fifteen […]

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. […]