My friend graciously sent his notes and kind words from our last regional test. Despite an angry wife and dirty looks from an uppity HOA (…tyrants…), he gets on the air trying new things; like all good soldiers, he seeks to constantly improve his position.
First off, I must thank BB and the others who have encouraged, assisted and act as sounding boards and advisors (Elmers) on my journey into EMCOMM/HF/VHF/UHF, it has been and continues to be both exciting and maddening… Many times I dream of this stuff, come up with crazy workarounds, ideas and theories, and can’t wait to try them out, much to wifey’s chagrin…This commostuff is part science and voodoo magic, trial and error, wash, rinse, repeat. My general background is in IT, so I get electrical/rf concepts and theory, and not afraid to test and tinker, as I have to do that for my day gig. While in the service I attended comm0 school at Ft Gordon and off to Ft Bragg, where I performed my MOS, 72E, along with many other duties, not unique to me, as any veteran will tell you…I was part of a team that ran the commo section, running everything from teletypes, to vhf rigs, (prick77’s) field telephone/switchboard systems to the new (at the time) satcom stuff that was (in our unit) mainly vehicle and/or base mounted w antennas the size of golf umbrellas.
We were tasked with “making it happen.” Period, end of discussion…That is my approach today, like a puzzle problem, trying to solve it. I always ask myself and clients: “what’s the goal?” as that will drive the systems/processes, etc., to achieve it. For me, as a covert suburban “prepper of sorts,” my emcomm goal is to be as self-sufficient, and low profile, given the fact I live in an HOA (I know, I know, talk to my wife) restricted community, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here. It is what it is, and I have to deal w the circumstances on the ground. With respect to HF, my goal is local/regional contact, I really don’t care about DX (long range) stuff or talking to folks in Komifornia/Europe/etc. I have SW rigs to listen. I need to communicate within a 300mi or less, radius of my home. Since I live in NC, this means VA/WVA/SC/GA/TN/KY, mainly. I picked up a used Alinco dx-sr8 at a local hamfest for 300.00, thanks to a buddies sharp eyeballs, in perfect condition, great newbie rig, sits on my desk. I have been adding various antennas from professional made kit, and even neighbors’ gutter system, (his dad was an operator) and yep, it worked too….Again, what is the goal? To get on air as quickly and efficiently as possible so that I can do, learn, and then unlearn, relearn, and redo it all over again. Most of my antennas are higher end, professional built and tested from reputable vendors. My next tinkering is home brew stuff, mainly various random wire units. I’ve been playing, literally, w various antenna options, from end feds, to long wires, to dipoles, and various mounting options, the attic, NVIS configurations, side of the house on 25’ pole, to slopers and others trying to find that “sweet spot” that is good enough, not perfect, but functional. I have found it by using a 5 gal bucket w concrete, some 2” pvc as a sleeve, and a piece of 10’ fence top rail. I then hang my dipole, a GV5R Jr from it, and tie of ends to tree trunks in front of home, approx. 7-8’ height. The feedline runs from that into my office/shack using some pvc and electrical boxes I mounted to pass thru into home….All do it yourself and functional.
When I want to setup, I simply connect feedlines, RG-8X, together using a barrel connector, and I am good to go. This connects to my LDG z-100 + auto tuner and then to my Alinco. Now, the set we used to communicate was the above set up out on the sidewalk, w safety cones around it, and my neighbors are friends and tolerate my nutty professor stuff…My next set up will be between the homes, same height and less visible, and conspicuous. This could be my permanent mounting option if it works as predicted. Once all is set up, one would never know that I have a full blown commo toc in the home, Kenwood tm-281 for vhf, a Uniden Home Patrol for LE/FLEA digi scanning, and an Arrow j-pole and Diamond discone in attic, with the ability to communicate and listen in locally, regionally, nationally and globally if need be, as the balance of my antennas are in attic and systems are modular, easy to set up and get on air. Not to mention my workstation w SDR ability…As a side note, I do have the ability to run all this gear off grid, using my mobile solar kits. I hear and read about folks that can’t get on air, no place to hang antenna, no space, no mast, etc., and if I can do this in my environment, and get on air, anyone can. Just gotta figure it out and realize that it doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect, just good enough. If it’s stupid and it works….
To BB’s point, we have to be willing to experiment, test and verify, then do it again, eventually a system will work, as mine has. After that, it is refinement, with the goal in mind, and be willing to pass that tested, verified and functional knowledge on, so that others may learn and have a reduced learning curve. Books/manuals are great to have, I have a library of commo related stuff, much of it suggested by this, and other bloggers whom I respect, but the one constant in all of them is: go do it live! If I can help others in similar circumstances, let me know I am more than happy and willing to assist and share my experience and knowledge. Thank you all for any/all comments/suggestions and to BB for his continued and ongoing friendship and support. He is a perfect example of leading by example and we are lucky to have him and his real world knowledge from actual experience.