A great DIY Commo Resource and some considerations

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A boat load of DIY Transmitters, Tranceivers, Antennas, and anything else you may need for every band out there

I linked the 70cm section specifically for a reason- due to the sheer number of folks purchasing the Baofeng or other Chicom HTs, it might be prudent to help make the most out of what you have instead of listening to people tell you why you shouldn’t have bought it.

Radio Amateurs in the US, south of Line A, have the ability to use 420-450mHz, which is quite a large spread of bandwidth. Baofengs cover this space. And while it is broken down according to a recommended band plan,  there’s plenty of room to find a quiet spot for you and your group to talk relatively uninterrupted. A Tech license, relatively simple to obtain, allows all this to happen. Finding that frequency requires:

  • Examining the band plan to find out what does what and where:

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  • Scanning the Band with your HT to find the areas with traffic and without. Do this over a span of a few days, planning on primary, alternate, contingency, and emergency(PACE) frequencies. Write these down in your data book!
  • Experiment with the frequencies to see which one works best in your area
  • Find azimuths and distances to each person’s location in your group on a map.
  • Build a directional antenna for point to point communications, resulting in a lower probability of interception.

If for nothing else, building your own antennas and experimenting with your group does two things- it first gets you out working productively, and second it teaches so many skills by simply doing it. It cuts through the wargaming and gets to reality. And that’s where you need to be right now, working with your equipment, because you may very well need it for real soon.

70cm/UHF is not ideal for hilly terrain as a rule- but I’ve found that in thick vegetation on the ground an HT on 70cm sometimes performs better than on 2M.  This applies, as you’d guess, in the summer. But the more important reason I bring it up is that the antennas can be very compact and still be fairly effective for Line of Sight use- especially with directional Yagis.

On another note, I’ve learned the most about radio and theory by doing it– experimenting, building my own antennas, and spending hours figuring out why something doesn’t work and how to better engineer it. Edison figured out hundreds of times how not to build a lightbulb before he finally did. Don’t be scared of failure! It makes you better in the end. That’s one advantage to having cheap gear; one can experiment all they want with little worry.

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9 thoughts on “A great DIY Commo Resource and some considerations

  1. everlastingphelps

    Also remember that while the frequency allowance is law — you can only legally transmit on frequencies you are licensed on — the band plan (what types of transmissions go on what parts of the allowance) is a suggestion. It is one you should follow, but when you are down to contingency and emergency frequencies, remember that you can still legally transmit on a quiet part of, say, the Amatuer Television part of the band plan with FM phone. People might get butthurt, and you want to avoid interfering with ATV users, but it’s legal without even getting into the “all life and death comms are legal” and WORL issues.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. That’s why I encourage folks to scan first- simply because someone says it should be there doesn’t mean it is. In my area, which is very rural, there’s little band activity other than repeaters and some packet over 70cm. This gives lots of room for simplex, more than 2M offers.

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  2. Mike Bishop

    I’ve learned more from failure than I ever have from winning…

    Great post, as usual.

    RE: Scanning: I’ve found tons of activity by various entities that aren’t operating on published frequencies. That alone is worth the price of admission on the Chicom HTs.

    Baofengs have brought a lot of people into radio comms. They’re capable tools, and while they have shortcomings, might as well make the best you can with what you’ve got.

    Buy a couple of aux cables, build a Yagi, download FLDIGI, and be surprised at what you can do for $50.

    If I was marching into the teeth of the shark tomorrow I wouldn’t be bringing a Baofeng, but, I wouldn’t shit on someone who did. You can wring serious mileage out of them, if you’re willing to put in the effort.

    Could someone pick up a superior radio for the same price? Absolutely. But, I can guarantee you that the majority of people, including hams, will not be willing to deal with the technical challenges involved. Especially the younger generation of button-pushers. Or stubborn old-fogeys.

    Run whatchya brung.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly!

      They’re definitely NOT my first choice- and I don’t recommend them as a long term, reliable communications solution, nor even an electronically sound solution(considering spurious emissions) but lots of people are buying them, so somebody should probably spread the word on how to make the most out of using them.

      They do offer a couple of advantages- all of the ones I’ve encountered have decent receivers, especially considering how inexpensive they are, and they also make great test platforms for new Radio Amateurs just getting into the hobby.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s definitely not a bad option for not a whole lot of money.

      The potential advantage of 70cm/GMRS is the ability to use a more compact antenna while maintaining a good degree of efficiency.

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