Ted’s essays

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 […]

practical, tactical communications training

We have a unique opportunity coming to the Bitterroot. It is a big deal to have this particular North Carolina based trainer offering these classes here. For me, traveling there will never happen no matter how high-value the training is. The timing of next month’s classes does not suit my personal needs, but I am adjusting to fit the offering. Opportunity doesn’t always knock at the moment you are prepared to open the door. Take it on its terms and schedule … or miss it. The local sponsoring organization looks credible, possibly excellent. You can do your own research on The Order of the White Rose. The Hamilton, Montana classes may well include a number of people I will prize […]

Bears in the air

BEARS Bitterroot Emergency Amateur Radio Services —————————– When normal communications systems – phone lines, cell phones, internet, 911-call-centers, broadcast TV & radio – are unavailable or overtaxed, amateur radio can provide flexible communications resources. MISSION Provide our neighborhoods and communities with a pool of trained radio operators, technicians and resources to deliver essential communications during emergencies. ———————————————————- BEARS is an organization dedicated to preparing, practicing for, and being able to provide radio communications via amateur radio whenever requested , whether for emergencies or planned events throughout and beyond the Bitterroot whenever radio is superior, or other means of communication are compromised We are eager, able and willing to work with related organizations and other emergency service providers, but retain […]

handheld radio recommendation

Tytera MD-390 Progress in two-way radios is similar to that in all other electronics. That is to say this recommendation will not be the optimum choice years from now. Nevertheless, this radio can serve you well for many years. The other caveat is there are many good choices. This is only one of them. I am making this suggestion to help the novice find a solid handheld transceiver that is well received within the amateur radio community. In a crowded field of feature-rich radios, the MD-390 has most of what you would want while being in the lower part of the $25 to $500 price range ($130). IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you order this in the 400-480MHz UHF (ultra-high-frequency) model […]

Studio wired

I feel like it has been a long time coming. But when I really think about it, we moved into a trashed homestead 7 months ago. We have made tremendous progress on numerous fronts. Nevertheless, today’s big success is the proper lighting and wiring of my studio. I have had a solar-recharged 12-volt grid-independent electrical system for about 5 years. The primary motivation was for my short and long range 2-way radios; my HAM gear. All of these radios run on 12-volts. You either run them on automotive-compatible systems, or you buy separate power inverters to turn you electrical grid power into juice they can use. That decision was the tipping point to have some independence from power deliveries, […]

become an amateur radio operator

Thursdays 4:30-6:30pm Darby Library meeting room July 13th – September 7th Handy in many situations, radio communications can be life saving when phones and Internet are down or out of reach Ham radios start where walkie-talkies leave off, with licensed radio operators communicating around the corner and around the world. ARRL License Manual costs $29.95 includes chapters on every aspect of the licensing exam and numerous practice tests Darby Thursday study sessions are FREE YOU can be an amateur radio operator No electronics background required Click this link for a .pdf poster advertising the class:Ham-radio-class-poster-7-2017 Below is a .jpg image of the class advertisement. TESTING SESSION JULY 17th For those ready to test for Technician, General or Amateur Extra […]