Ted’s essays

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 […]

Ted Dunlap, STEE

You have-to have initials after your name to lend credibility to your projects and pronouncements. My latest creation inspired me to append “STEE” to my name. Further explanation will wreck the aura, but I’ll go ahead anyway. It stands for Shade Tree Electrical Engineer… similar to the Shade Tree Mechanic title I earned repeatedly with my auto/truck/motorcycle/tractor repair toolset. Running a ham radio shack requires steady, clean 12-volt electricity. Handheld transceivers, HTs, or walkie-talkies if you prefer, have their own batteries. Cheaper ones use AA or AAA, but most use rechargeables whose chargers plug into standard 120-volt household outlets. Our mobiles and base units all run on 12-volt direct current in our shacks, vehicles or deployed field stations. I […]

RADIOGRAM

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 […]

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 […]

electricity, components & circuits

Chapter 3 in the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Ham Radio License Manual is the most challenging to most students. Remember that out of the 35 questions on your written exam, 26 correct answers is a passing score. You can afford to miss nine, or one out of every four and still earn your Technician’s License. You could miss, or even skip over every component and circuit question without failing your exam. Do not get all balled-up in this one chapter. On the other hand, it is cool, and even useful to understand a bit of this stuff. So let’s try to GET IT, without stress or strain. You likely already found my favorite online exam preparation tool HamStudy.org I […]

wave behavior

Whether it is a stone tossed into a glassy-smooth pond, sound waves coming out of a trombone or electro-magnetic waves enabling radios to communicate, the wave behaviors are direct relatives to the physicist. One such person built a model to demonstrate wave behavior then his employer, Bell Labs, produced a movie of it. I almost called it a video, but those were not yet invented in 1959 when this was produced. Last year I pounded enough correct answers into my head that I passed my Amateur Extra exam. My motivation was that I really wanted to UNDERSTAND radio much better. I did not clear that hurdle on pure expanded knowledge of radio, but I found several tools that helped. […]

comms plans for Darby Dog Derby

The 2020 Bitterroot dogsled race weekend is coming up. I have the two-way-radio support plan mapped out, radios programmed, testing complete, batteries all charged up … I think we are as ready as we can get. For more details about the weekend, the participants and the races, go to The Bitterroot Mushers website. Each year we learn more, adding refinements to patch holes as we find them. Ideally we have 8 checkpoints with a checkpoint worker and a radio operator at each. That’s a bit dreamy as the last couple years we are lucky to have one person serving both roles at each. Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Services (BEARS), the comms team, recently changed affiliation to Corvallis American Legion […]

Ham license class begins February 1st

I am bringing another amateur radio operator licensing class to Darby, Montana via the Darby Adult Education program in its Spring 2020 schedule. I have not keept track, but think I have personally assisted 40 or 50 people to earning their FCC licenses through my study groups in the Darby library. 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. Every person who has come to all of the class sessions and studied two or more hours between sessions passed the FCC Technician License Exam at the end. […]

emergency comms 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 […]

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 […]

popular class

Turnout for the Spring 2019 ham radio class first day was outstanding. Icing on the cake is that a highly-knowledgable, skilled, professional teacher is bringing his young son to every class. I could not ask for a better co-teacher. Sixteen students and two instructors filled the Darby Library meeting room. They came from all over Ravalli County most planning to earn their FCC Technician license, but a few will be testing for the next level, the General class. I’m studying double: their book to insure good mentoring every Saturday plus the Amateur Extra manual so I can take the third and final step up the amateur radio licensing ladder when we all test in May. My drafted co-teacher came from […]