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#1 spd641

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:55 PM

I wanted to pass along how I became involved in amateur radio and get other members thoughts on what compelled everyone to get involved.

 

I was a police officer,police chief and EMT before becoming disabled.I dedicated my life to public safety and helping others so when I became disabled it made me feel useless.When the April 27 tornado outbreak happened I was sitting here wanting to help but couldn't so I begin thinking how can I help the people around me and after quite a bit of thought amateur radio came to mind.

 

I then decided as soon as I find a testing facility I would give it a shot so I did.Nervous as anyone would be,I took my Technician test and passed with flying colors.

 

I then joined out local hometown club and became a active member and with pressure from several other amateurs I took and passed my General which I was more nervous in doing than the Tech test but accomplished it on my first try also.I saved and saved to buy what equipment  I have now which includes a Kenwood TM-271a 2 meter,Kenwood TS-570d and a few Wouxun portables and a Wouxun mobile.

 

Even though I still consider myself a newbie in the amateur world I was promoted to Net Manager with my club and really enjoy amateur radio much more than I could have ever imagined.I had thought about it  and approached by other amateurs over the years about getting involved but placed it on the back burner.

 

I also decided to become a volunteer examiner to help others obtain their license and enjoy amateur radio in the same manner as the amateur operators in my area helped me .

 

I will admit in my mind as I know others have also, I stereotyped  a Ham operator as being a nerd,geek or some weird guy living in his parent's basement .I would like to say I was dead wrong on my assumptions,the amateur radio community accepted me with open arms and I have made some of the best friends I could ever ask for and do not regret my choice of getting involved in amateur radio.

 

I would like to hear from the other members about what motivated you and how you were introduced to amateur radio along with your experience and involvement in the hobby.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                  William


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#2 Billy

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 08:23 PM

Being a young cop working in NYC on 911 I was alarmed when the radios would not work, more importantly the cell phones that we were beginning to become overly reliant on were useless.   No way to at least call home and tell the wife everthings is ok.  

 

So ever since then I set upon my own trials to find a good way to communicate with the loved ones in an emergency.   I pulled out the old cb's and put them thru trials.   Got my GMRS and Ham licenses and tested HF, VHF and UHF for practicality.   I am a member of two local Radio Clubs but am not active more because of my personal schedule than anything else. 

 

With an emphasis on reliable local communications I have kept my Ham license and it has been useful during the blackouts and storms that have followed 911.   I have made all my equipment usable by battery backup and solar.    My only quible with being a Ham is I am the only one in the family and the battle has been fought and lost with regards to geting my significant other interested.   But she will pick up and use a radio so that is why GMRS is still my strongest interest. 

 

But as I write this I still have and use a few times a week my 2 Meter rig and all the 440 mhz repeaters are monitored and programmed into my UHF base.    Bill


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#3 spd641

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 08:39 PM

I to rely on GMRS heavily for the same reason you do Billy.I can't get her to take the test but my son has interest in both some as time goes by maybe she will see the light....Willliam


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#4 PastorGary

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 03:33 AM

Bill and William - as a former Deputy Sheriff myself for 21 years early on, let me just thank you for your law enforcement service.  We have all been present during horrific events and the mental images of what we have all seen will remain with us for the rest of our lives. 

 

Trying to get agency 'administrators' to develop a communications protocol for dire emergency use is nearly impossible.  Coordination of frequencies and agency usage priorities seems to always have a political side to it where administrators sometimes want their own agency to run point and take control so they look good in the eyes of the public.  That ego driven attitude is a major part of the problem of radio system failures during extreme events.

 

That is why our Chaplain Responder team takes our own equipment into disaster areas -so we do not get burdened with no cellphone operation and existing repeaters that are all but impossible to access because of high traffic and duty cycle overheating issues in some cases.  Our equipment is run by several huge deep cycle marine batteries and when other responders are trying to communicate, our group has no problems in that regard. Planning ahead is of utmost importance, but some administrators only plan for 'average' disasters and do not have a plan in place to keep public safety and first responders radio-safe in major events.

 

I have seen the total failure of many 700 and 800 mhz. radio systems in times of crisis and in those cases, there is rarely a SIMPLEX backup plan. If each agency had a dedicated set of channels operating simplex when the main goes down, at least some of the communications would be heard and lives could be saved.  In many instances, no one at the administrative level thinks of using portables simplex because they are brainwashed by high pressure radio sales persons into thinking that their 25 million dollar radio systems are invincible.  Well, we all know that this is not the case and responders are placed in harms way because of that attitude.

 

Back to Amateur use of equipment in emergencies... I have never been a ham... just commercial and GMRS, but I know that amateurs play a pivotal role in emergency communications and are utilized by many Red Cross Chapters during castastrophic events.

 

 


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#5 spd641

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:06 AM

PG,

 

I couldn't agree more about the failed radio systems,it seems the powers to be do not have the common sense to implement a back up plan in times of emergency.I have heard the systems go down at different times with little or no back up in this area.To many think our Southern Linc system which is like the nations Nextel system will not fail but it has proven it will,even our state EMA uses it with to much trust I think.

 

I have talked to others about communications in the time of need whether it be GMRS or amateur radio I still hear the same reply"I have my cell phone and internet and that is all I need".I then ask then what happens when their service goes down and I get the usual stuttering and denial then the blank looks on their face realizing they are thinking about it at that point.

 

I try my best to stay prepared in case something does come up and could argue the point until I am blue in the face,maybe one day people will realize the point we are trying to get across and begin to show interest.......William


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#6 Billy

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:52 PM

We just went thru Sandy here.   Even the well intentioned Ham operators got caught off guard with shelters only having five gallons of deisel for their 50 bed shelter.   Only one out of five good Ham repeaters were functional after the first day.   Ask JohnE how desperate the government was for comms.  Try and try as you may the systems are not as strong as everyone wants to beleive.   I know everyone expects cell phone type of service with radio but time and time again I have personally witnessed that when disaster strikes a few blocks or one mile communication is what is needed, relay works with a little training.  After the smoke settles so to speak then the rest of the world becomes important again. 

 

Local radio especially GMRS is perfect for this situation.   It is basically untapped and under utilized.  JMHO Bill



#7 PastorGary

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:29 PM

Absolutely Bill... and operating GMRS in an emergency is covered under 47CFR95.143    -

 

Every licensed GMRS operator should take 30 seconds to read those stipulations.


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#8 spd641

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 09:09 PM

The problem lies with the mindset of the general public which think all radios are "CB's"  and GMRS is the toy radios you get at the big box retail stores,try as you may to educate them it is like hitting your head against a brick wall.None of these people want to hear what you can do with other GMRS or other radio services and on most forums the complaint is the price of GMRS license compared to a amateur license.

 

I have tried to explain time and again that GMRS covers your whole family including in-laws,where amateur license is only good for that person and everyone has to take a test to obtain a license.I also question a few how much they spend going to a nice restaurant and ordering 2 steak dinners citing you could just about pay for a license by just giving up 1 night of eating out but the infinite wisdom of the public at large can not grasp what I am talking about.

 

I still get the argument that they can't justify spending that much on a license and after telling them about the true power limit they may use and the types of commercial gear available,I still get the same dumbfounded looks like they can not comprehend what I am telling them .

 

I give up at that point and try to educate some one who actually has some common sense...William


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#9 PastorGary

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 05:23 AM

William, as we all know, the majority of persons go to WalMart or Costco or Cabellas and look at radios for family use or hunting trips. They have no concept of what GMRS regulations are and don't care.  The bubble pack radios are marketed with all the long distance ratings that are down right lies... even under controlled laboratory circumstances, but those distances are attractive to the unknowing and radio uneducated public.  They buy the radios, throw away the FCC info sheet in the box and start using the radios as-is.  It is their fault for not educating THEMSELVES but it is also on the FCC for allowing COMBO radios in the first place.  That bone-headed move has created almost ALL the congestion issues that are present these days and they can't deal with it once the genie is out of the bottle.  SO, those of us who are legal users have to do the FCC's work FOR them, making us all into the bad old meanies.


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#10 Logan5

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 10:13 AM

When it comes to backup power in the event of an Emergency. I believe 2 Trojan 6volt T-105 battery's will power my Motorola twin radio repeater for a week or more, under lite use of course. If I were not already operating on 8X T-105's and 1000watt's of solar panels. I would consider a home line charger so when the power goes out you have 225 amp hours at 13.6 volts standby. a generator is noisy and makes dangerous fumes. Besides when the power goes out it get's real quiet. a generator even the quietest is obnoxious running hours on end. Battery's also come in handy to save fuel, where as with out battery's you have to run the generator just to run a 25 to 50 watt repeater load. . when it comes to vital emergency communications I think it is so important that a repeater system should be designed off grid and with grid AC as a backup to that only. not the other way around. for mission critical equipment and relay services I would design my system to be oversize and redundant charging sources. This way it would take more than the grid going down, or your panels blowing off your roof, to suspend your ability to communicate with other volunteers and authorities. Ham Radio Saves Lives, same can and should be said for GMRS. let's do it.



#11 Billy

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 06:22 AM

Attached File  005.JPG   165.46KB   10 downloads

When it comes to backup power in the event of an Emergency. I believe 2 Trojan 6volt T-105 battery's will power my Motorola twin radio repeater for a week or more, under lite use of course. If I were not already operating on 8X T-105's and 1000watt's of solar panels. I would consider a home line charger so when the power goes out you have 225 amp hours at 13.6 volts standby. a generator is noisy and makes dangerous fumes. Besides when the power goes out it get's real quiet. a generator even the quietest is obnoxious running hours on end. Battery's also come in handy to save fuel, where as with out battery's you have to run the generator just to run a 25 to 50 watt repeater load. . when it comes to vital emergency communications I think it is so important that a repeater system should be designed off grid and with grid AC as a backup to that only. not the other way around. for mission critical equipment and relay services I would design my system to be oversize and redundant charging sources. This way it would take more than the grid going down, or your panels blowing off your roof, to suspend your ability to communicate with other volunteers and authorities. Ham Radio Saves Lives, same can and should be said for GMRS. let's do it.

I have several generators from 1000 Watt to 9000 Watt that have been put into use more than I care for lately.  I did build several what I call Solar Generators based on the systems that are advertised.  My largest is a 125 Ahr Marine series 27 battery with a 40 watt panel, solar controller and a Cobra 1200 Watt inverter.  It also has both cigarette type adapters to use with small electronics and radios.  This unit should be capable of running my repeater, that is why I wanted 20 watt output drawing 6 amps on transmit for a day or two in between charges.  The RRX-450 has an inline trickle charger build in which is handy and will go automatically to DC when power is lost.

 

I also built and EMCOM box using a UV5R, 17" Craftsman tool box and two SLA 5 Ahr batteries.   Using the battery eliminator on the HT and hooked to a mobile antenna mounted on the box I get twice the coverage from the HT.   This is based on the amount of gain over a rubber duck antenna.  The nice thing about the 17" metal box is that is makes a nice ground plane for the mobile and SWR's in the UHF bands are pretty sweet, not so much UHF but usable.     With 10 Ahr of battery I used the HT as my primary and was able to monitor and talk to the local repeaters for a good part of a week without any additional power.  I also have a 5 Watt foldable solar panel in the box that will put a good charge on the batteries on a sunny day. I threw in a pic of this setup.  

 


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#12 GMRSPHX

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 04:57 PM

very interesting setup...  I would like to do some type of solar charging array as well. Something to keep a deep cell charged in case if need.



#13 Logan5

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 07:12 PM

here in fort Lauderdale, a Local merchant US Solar sells 255 watt panels for 235 dollars, add an MPPT charge controller and batterys for another 300 all "TAX free" and you can power a repeater, radios, an LED light and a small fan day and night. I decided I wanted to run everything except refrigeration and went with 4 panels and a 24volt  system with step downs. in my new house I am going with 48 volt mains.  Refrigeration and air conditioning is easier and more efficient at 48 volts. Solar has become cheap, I had to buy in, I decided everything that already runs off DC power would make the most sense and the only thing I need an inverter for is the Direct TV box.



#14 Billy

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 01:14 PM

here in fort Lauderdale, a Local merchant US Solar sells 255 watt panels for 235 dollars, add an MPPT charge controller and batterys for another 300 all "TAX free" and you can power a repeater, radios, an LED light and a small fan day and night. I decided I wanted to run everything except refrigeration and went with 4 panels and a 24volt  system with step downs. in my new house I am going with 48 volt mains.  Refrigeration and air conditioning is easier and more efficient at 48 volts. Solar has become cheap, I had to buy in, I decided everything that already runs off DC power would make the most sense and the only thing I need an inverter for is the Direct TV box.

 

About a year ago I helped a friend design and build a poolside cottage using nothing but solar on a 24V system.  Basically it was a one bedroom effieciency apartment with a small kitchen, bathroom and living room  20x20.   1000 watt worth of solar panels and four 6 volt Trojan golf cart batteries.   The appliances were salvaged from an older mobile home.  All the plumbing pumps, refrigeration and appliances were DC units.   An inverter (forget the brand) provided the AC for a nice pool side stereo system and an interior wide screen TV and accessories.  It was a nice project and is up and running flawlessly.   I am going to do something like that on my next house but use the building to provide some AC to the main house via a transfer switch, more solar input and power storage.  Basically a remote solar generator of sorts and usefull during outages.



#15 Logan5

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 07:48 PM

a small space can easily be air conditioned via solar, but the space would need to be very well insulated and Gas cooking, with proper stove and oven ventilation. Yes there are many electronic devices that run directly from Direct Current, in fact my 42" TV runs on 19volts, so I use a step down converter from my 8X6v 24 volts mains. To run air conditioning you would want to run a 48 volt battery bank and use a good inverter and make a constant 120 volts or better yet, 240 volts AC. as refrigeration is much more efficient at higher voltage. I am not good with the math but I figured if I doubled my T-105's to 16X6v  at 48 volts and run the inverter 24X7, I would need at least one 250 watt panel just to cover the inverter power usage and inherent losses, and  then I could run a 120 volt 5000 btu window unit through the nigh, but to run it also during the day would require another 2 to 3 panels and more battery's. I have yet to see a good "direct current" microwave, but they do exist. There is or was a company that makes  a "wall hugger" split unit air conditioning unit. that runs on solar, it is 18K btu, I think it's called "split cool-1848" I think it stands for the BTU's and the voltage.

I was never able to get a price on one. on my next install I am going "grid interactive" and I want to more than quadruple the size of the array. especially since panels are so cheap, battery's are what cost. If I put $5K worth of panels on my roof, I will need $6K worth of battery's. and they may need to be replaced in as little as 7 years. As long as no hail and I am good as golden. not to mention that solar sales are currently "Tax Free" in Florida. :-)



#16 JeremyM

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 10:03 AM

Thought I would throw in my story. I got started in radio by checking out a couple of bubble pack radios. I actually read the documentation that came with them and found out I couldn't use those units to their full potential on all channels without something called a "GMRS License".

 

So I started my research, applied for my GMRS license and started looking for other people. Found this site. There aren't many people around here that use GMRS and I wanted to get longer transmissions. I ended up meeting a local ham when looking for a duplexer to build my GMRS repeater and he pointed me in the ham direction. I started researching and talking to another GMRS user who was also a ham. He told me all about it and really encouraged me to go for it.

 

I slacked for a little bit but eventually (after going to my second amateur radio club meeting) decided to really study and get my ticket. I studied for 2 weeks on the Technician and a couple days on the General. I took my Technician and General tests on 9/5/2013 where I passed the Technician exam with 100% and barely missed my General (should have spent a bit more time studying the General). I will eventually get my General, not in any hurry at this point. My callsign showed up rather quickly, I noticed it was in the FCC ULS by yesterday afternoon!

 

If it wasn't for KB4LSL, N3CMH, and W5CL I never would have gotten this interested in the hobby. I would also like to thank KK4CWX for his guidance along the way, his ability to smack me for my errors without public humiliation is MUCH appreciated! Elmers are great to have around and one day I hope to have the honor of being one myself.


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#17 spd641

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 05:26 PM

Jeremy,

 

I would never publicly humiliate anyone on purpose but everyone needs guidance from time to time even myself,mistakes do happen and no one person is completely right on all subjects.In fact I was interrogated by someone last night over a post in another forum regarding the use of my Wouxun mobile radio.The post in itself was about the reliability of the radio itself in which I replied the reason I bought it to begin with.

 

I will copy it and send you a message with the details.


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#18 JeremyM

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 06:02 PM

Understood, and I definitely didn't think you would humiliate anyone. I stated that purely in jest. Thanks for the copy, definitely an interesting read.


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#19 spd641

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 06:21 PM

Oh I know Jeremy it is all in fun,you seems like a good guy who would ever humiliate you...lol...William


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#20 PastorGary

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 06:41 PM

`

`

`

Wasn't    Hugh Miliate    the brother of    Elmer Miliate?

 

OH, you mean the insulting of someone to degrade them... humiliate.... I get it now... ;) :lol:






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