No Difference.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Kyle Rittenhouse and Greta Thunberg.

Democrat and Republician.

x/n(n/x)=1

Instead of concentrating on the differences, as they would have you do, instead concentrate on their similararities.

You will then discover that there is no difference between the two. They are one and the same, both are unimportant, and the true enemy are those who want you to believe otherwise.

So you want to get on Two Meters…

You are a newly minted Technician class Amateur Radio operator, and as usual you want to get on the 2 Meter (144-148 MHz.) band. You go and buy one of those sub $100 Chinese HTs and you are all set, right? Wrong. Without getting into the well-established fact that the Chinese HTs, especially the Baofeng, are junk (see http://www.nf9k.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ARRL-Lab-HT-Testing.pdf), you are doing yourself a disservice by starting out with an HT, regardless of which company made it.

You take your HT, program in a repeater that’s 10 miles away, throw out your callsign, and someone 10 miles in the opposite direction comes back to you saying you’re “full quieting” into the machine. All with a 5 watt handheld and rubber duck antenna? Great, right? The only thing that’s great about that is the effort the repeater owner went into getting the machine on the air. The repeater is at a much higher elevation than you, is running 50-100+ watts (versus your 5) into an antenna system with some pretty high gain, and perhaps even a has preamp on the input to help the receiver hear better. In short, the repeater is doing all the heavy lifting so you can use that HT.

Get a friend of yours who also has an HT, and go on a hike to see how far away you can hear each other on simplex with 5 watts and a rubber duck antenna. I guarantee you that under normal circumstances you won’t get more than a mile or two range. Now HTs are nice in that they are portable and you can carry them around, but unless you and your local ham buddies you like to ragchew with are all within a mile or two of each other, you will be out of luck if the repeater goes down, and repeaters do go down. Sometimes it’s because of a natural disaster. Other times it’s because the repeater owner is unable to maintain the machine any longer, and takes it off the air. Either way, being able to properly operate simplex and be self-sufficient on the air is a wise idea. The solution is to get a mobile/base 2 Meter transceiver in the 25-50 Watt output power range, and install an external antenna. Now your 1-2 mile simplex range becomes a 20-50 simplex range, and you won’t have to worry if the local repeater goes down because you will be able to reach out further to hit a more distant repeater, or work simplex. Here is what you will need.


Oops. When heavy weather takes down a repeater like this, HT users will be screwed.
  • Two Meter Transceiver. Since I like Icom, I went with the IC-2300H.
  • Antenna. The best antenna out there in my opinion is the Spectral Isopole (https://www.isopole.com/).
  • A 12V power supply with enough current capacity to run the radio at full power. The IC-2300H, according to the manual needs 11 Amps. The old-skool trusty Astron RS-20A (16 Amps continuous, 20 Amps intermittent) is a good choice.
  • Some coaxial cable to connect your radio to the antenna. Most of you probably wouldn’t need any more than 50 feet or so, and you can get a preassembled 50 foot length of decent VHF-rated coax, say LMR-240, with PL-259 connectors on each end.

Looking at the “buy it new” route, setting up a station via Gigaparts, Ham Radio Outlet, or one of the other mail order outlets will cost the following:

Icom IC-2300H – $150.00
Spectral Isopole- $180.00
Astron RS-20A- $149.00
50 feet LMR-240 with PL-259 connectors – $50.00
Total – $529.00

If you go the brand-new mail order route it would cost you $529.00 to get on two meters. That’s actually less than the new cost of just an entry-level HF rig. There is a better and less expensive way to get on 2 meters.

You can save a lot of money if you buy used, and build your own antenna. You can buy a used two meter mobile rig off Ebay for less than $100. A good used Icom, such as the 1980’s vintage Icom IC-27H shown to the left, runs about $70 or so. That almost halves the cost of your radio. I have seen older 2 meter mobile rigs for sale for even less at hamfests, around $25-$50. That knocks down your radio cost anywhere from half to a third. You can build an antenna out of $10 worth of parts with information from an old copy of the ARRL Antenna book you find at a hamfest for $5, or from data you find online (https://www.hamuniverse.com/2metergp.html). Used Astron power supplies cost about half their new price at hamfests, but for now you can get away with buying a suitable deep cycle battery from Wal-Mart or your local auto parts store for about $60. The charger for it will be about $20. Finally, if you measure out your actual coax length from your radio to your antenna, you will save some money there. At under 50 feet, you’ll be able to get away with a higher-loss coax than LMR-240 because the differences between it and say RG-8X will be minimal at short distances. A 20 foot RG-8X coax jumper will set you back about $18 at a local truckstop like Flying J or Pilot. Let’s take a look at how much a station will cost.

Used 2 meter mobile rig (average) – $70.00
Used copy of ARRL Antenna Book and parts – $15.00
Deep-cycle battery – $60.00
Battery charger – $20.00
RG-8X coax jumper – $18.00
Total Cost: $183.00

By going the used equipment route, and engaging in a little DIY, you can get on the air for about a third of the cost than if you went and bought everything new.

The two meter band goes from 144-148 MHz., and most of that is unoccupied these days. There are, however, a few places where FM simplex operation is commonplace. Stay above 144.300 MHz, because below that is where the weak signal (SSB/CW) hams operate. Repeater inputs and outputs should also be avoided, for obvious reasons. Preferred FM simplex frequency ranges are 144.300-144.500,144.900-145.100, 145.500-146.000, 146.400-146.580, and 147.420-147.570 MHz.

Mail-Order Obtainium

With COVID-19 shutting a lot of IRL stuff down, many gomi no senseis are forced to resort to mail order in order to get the obtainium fix. Here is my list of sources and their URLs:

You may also find other sources in the advertising pages of Nuts and Volts Magazine Their website is at https://www.nutsvolts.com/.

Part 95 (and bootleg VHF/UHF) Surveys (aka Point Search) with Whistler WS1040

The WS1040 and scanners with similar architecture are easy and ideal for this as frequency and service searches can be chained together as objects all in a single bank. In this case you would start by programming the following objects into their own bank:

  • MURS/FRS/GMRS Service search
  • CB service search
  • Sweeper search for VHF-High and UHF bands (2, 5, 6)

The biggest performance obstacle with this arrangement is the difference in antenna size (and resonance) between VHF-high and UHF bands used by the more common Part 95 services, and CB which is technically down in the HF band. If you want to have peak performance on one, there will be degraded reception on the other. Still, however, using a common 2m/70cm ham antenna will still let you hear CB units within a mile or so. Using a resonant antenna (or even one that is close to resonant such as a 10 meter ham antenna) will extend that CB monitoring range out quite a bit. Similarly, the more gain your antenna has on VHF and UHF will equal better detection range on those bands. With that said, on Thanksgiving, 2020 I heard “Radio Roadkill 252” from Amarillo, Texas on CB Channel 3, AM mode, with nothing more than a 22” whip antenna at a distance of 1600 miles. Admittedly though, he’s probably running a lot more than 3 watts.

MURS and FRS are the VHF and UHF free parking spaces on the RF Monopoly board and even if the users of those frequencies aren’t quite operating within FCC Regs, the chances of legal hassles are minimal so it gives all the Baofeng buyers a “safe” place to go play. CB has a bit of a reputation that keeps a lot of people away, despite the fact that you almost never hear anything on the 40 channels except for Channels 6, 19 near highways, and 38 during a band opening. Sad, because a properly installed CB station will always out perform MURS and FRS. You just need to use a proper antenna. However, those Baofeng (and other model) radios can run from 136-174 and 400-520 MHz. Some semi-clever types might consider just playing dial roulette with their transceivers. A normal sector search for those two frequencies would take a while, but using Spectrum Sweeper will decrease that time significantly, along with a decrease in receive sensitivity. Still, the Spectrum Sweeper function will in a matter of seconds detect an HT signal within a quarter-mile.

So what this setup gets you is a means to detect nearby portable and mobile radio activity on the most common frequencies used by non-government actors. Whether are they are good actors or bad actors is either irrelevant, or depends on who and what you are. Either way, a bunch of rando people playing with radios in your neighborhood is something you want to know about.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a donation to help offset our costs for research and development.

 

 

Cyber-Tek Zine Donations

Donate

 

 

On Big-Mouthed New Yorkers, Honey Pots, and Wire Jiggling

In intelligence and security tradecraft, a “honey pot” is a an attractive-looking trap intended to compel a target to make a run at, with the end-result of either collecting intelligence on the target or capturing it. Similarly, there is a technique known as “jiggling the wire” in which an operative/organization does or says something to provoke the opposition into acting, usually in a manner counter to the opposition’s best interests.

With that in mind, let’s look at a recent Tweet by Congress Critter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

Damn, I wish I had that many followers, retweets and likes. If you want to help me out with that, here’s my Twitter page.

So we have this nice, vague Tweet that has generated a fair amount of controversy, but as I have said before, only amateurs telegraph intent because your intended target(s) may decide to start the party early because they think they’re gonna get whacked.

Since the beginning of the year, 8751 bills were introduced into Congress, AOC was responsible for 23 of them or 0.2% of all legislation introduced. Research shows all those bills are currently stuck in committee and will probably die there. Meanwhile in the past 10 years she has cranked out 11,500 Tweets. That would equal about three Tweets a day.

Now think about what I said in the first paragraph… And think about all the time wasted worrying about what some big-mouthed New Yorker who is all talk and little (if any) action is saying on Twitter. Time you could have better spent studying this book, or this one.

Or I dare say even reading through the amazing stuff you can find here.

If you found this article useful, please consider making a donation to help offset our costs for research and development.

Cyber-Tek Zine Donations

Donate

The Harry Caul Files

Harry Caul was the name of Gene Hackman’s character in The Conversation. It was later adopted as a pen name by the founder and first editor of Popular Communications, the late Tom Kneitel. He wrote a few articles under the name, but the first three were considered by many in the know to be among the best, and remained relevant over the years. In fact, perhaps even more relevant with the availability of $23 handheld radios on Amazon with frequency coverage of 136-174 & 400-479.995 MHz.

So without further ado, here is a PDF for you to download: