Back to Writing

It has been a almost 2 years since my last post and I need to get things rolling again. I  don’t particularly have that much to say. What I do though is pretty good.

Ham Radio Wise, what have I been doing:

Mobile station is going strong with a TM-V71A(like I had), I have added a Yaesu 857D with matching Yaesu Screwdriver antenna controlled by the radio. That is nice.

Most recently while working a public service event I realized that ham gear is somewhat lacking in the sense that it is(in my opinion) fair-weather/conditions gear. I could not hear my Yaesu XV-8DR shoulder mic over the crowd, evening with a cheapo ear-wig. Not to mention minor transmission issues. So this led me to start looking at Motorola gear that will work on the ham bands. This then led me towards the world of digital voice and specifically DMR. Indiana has an enormous DMR network of repeaters, which basically gives statewide coverage.

So this led to a recent purchase of a Tytera MD-380 DMR Digital Radio, this is an HT. I got one and really liked it, so I got my Dad one. Further more and even more recent I have also acquired a Motorola XPR-4550, mobile digital DMR radio. I need to get a separation kit and it will be ready for the car.

So my goals are really getting a good understanding of DMR and it’s behind the scenes workings and finding a deal on a VHF and a UHF XTS5000. I would prefer a APX7000 or APX8000 but very unlikely I spend 2k on a radio.


More to come, thank you!

LED Project – Re-purpose LED Flashlight for Closet Light

The before. Home Depot brand LED Work lights. On clearance at the HD for 2 bucks. Picked up the 4 they had on the aisle I was on. Normally the big one runs on 4 AAA batteries (6 volts) and the little one on 2 AAA batteries(3 volts). I’m going to use 9 volt. For 8 bucks this totals to 65 total LED’s on pre-made boards. All I have to do is wire it up and bam the closet is lit.

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1185587_817490171763_368679824_n 1175671_817487272573_1814279385_n
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Field Day 2013

ARRL Field Day 2013 is right around the corner. Seriously it’s Saturday! My first Field Day I took part in it with the local ham club and ARES group. It was a combined effort between all of us. I was a member of both. It was quite a bit of work getting setup and there was agreements but it was so so so much fun! At the time I was a new ham, for the most part, and I had a freakin’ ball. Between those two groups there a lot of Elmer’s to me.

This year I am in a new city and I have not hooked up with any ham groups yet. I have I guess joined ARES but they meet quarterly and that’s just not enough to keep my interest.

So I’m on my own, which is ok! For the most part. I am engineering all my own solutions. I have gone through several ideas and what I am down to is. 20 meter dipole in a tree. I would like to say I have more than that but I don’t. Not this year. Hundreds of feet of field line to feed multiple antennas is expensive and frankly I don’t have as much room as I thought. I have a bunch of trees that run along the apartment building and that’s it. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to get a 20 meter dipole just as high as I can. If i feel adventurous I’ll through up a 40 meter dipole but I doubt it. If I’m really in need I’ll cut a 80 meter dipole but I really really doubt it.

But that’s my plan. hanging a dipole. No generator or alternative power. Not this year, maybe next. I’d like to get into solar. We’ll see.

73 from K4EQM

A really cool setup…

This is a picture I came across on Pinterest. It is of a beastly tech-ed out setup. There is a Motorola Mobile Computer framed with a GPS, scanner, vehicle lighting control, radio transceivers and a few radio accessories. All mounted on a niece center console. Based on the dial cluster looks like in a Ford SUV. This is what I imagine as a perfect setup. I just love this system.

I have a Kenwood Dual band radio, a Yaesu HF 50mhz – 160m and a Motorola Mobile Computer. I just need a nice center console.

From top to bottom, left to right.
GPS: Garmin old school but I don’t know the model.

Ham Radio: the radio top center of the picture is a Kenwood TM-942 or at least it is in the Kenwood TM series.

Pactor Modem: That Kenwood radio is sitting on a Pactor modem, THE PTC-IIpro, this is what the computer listed below is actually using to transmit the Winlink/Airmail emails.

Computer: Motorola MW-520 – running probably Windows Embeded or maybe XP. They were powerful computers. Looks like the ham operator is using packet Airmail to send Winlink email over packet radio.

Ham radio: the small green radio just under the computer monitor is another ham radio. The ICOM IC-880H. It is a D-Star radio.

Touch Tek: From my research this device is a lot of the time used by tow truck drivers to operate their lights. But basically it is a device that controls six 40 amp relays. More over though there is some customizing that you can do to these relays via the controller board.

Radio: The next radio is some kind of business band radio pretty it is a ICOM, and the family of the ICOM F1821, but like a model or 2 older. Based on the screen it has been programmed to monitor ham radio freqs.

Ham Radio: The next radio is the Yaesu FT-857D, there are two there. One stacked above the other. This is a HF – UHF radio very versatile.

Control Panel: I don’t know what the knob there in the middle is unless it maybe selects inputs going to a speaker for the radio.

Ham Radio: We are down to the second Yaesu FT-857D.

Ham Radio: The ICOM IC-7000 is radio near the bottom with the color screen and large dial knob. Like the 2 Yaesu’s this radio is good on HF – UHF had radio bands.

Radio: Bottom center radio facing upwards is another one of those business band radios programmed probably for ham radio freqs. Model unknown but probably ICOM.

Arm Rest: In the arm rest you see a ICOM hand mic for one of the radios. Also in the arm rest you see a Ameritron ALS-500RC, this is a remote control head for a linear amplifier for one of the radios. Instead of transmitting 100 watts this operating is transmitting with somewhere up to 500 watts.

Why you should upgrade to General Class – by

Re-posted from

Why you should upgrade to General Class

While getting a Tech license is no small feat, one of the first things you should do as a Technician is to start studying for the General Class license. Oh, I can hear the complaints and excuses already. “I’m never going to get on HF, so why should I get my General?” “I only care about emcomm and public-service communications, so why should I bother?” “I just don’t have the time right now to study for the General Class exam.”

Well, if you ask me, all of that is just hooey. If you don’t upgrade to General (and steadfastly refuse to learn code), then it’s a certainty that you’ll never operate on the HF bands. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why deny yourself that capability before you even try it?

Similarly, saying that all you intend to do with your ham radio license is to participate with your local CERT or SkyWarn group is fine and dandy, but public-service and emergency communications do take place on HF as well as on VHF/UHF. Why limit your usefulness as an emergency communicator by not having HF privileges?

And, if you don’t have time now, when will you have time? It’s a matter of priorities, and while the material on the General Class exam is more difficult than the material on the Tech exam, it shouldn’t take you all that much more time to study for the General Class test than it did for the Technician Class test. Not only that, waiting is only going to make it that much harder to start studying again when you do decide to do it.


One excuse that you can’t make is that there aren’t any resource available. There are more than you could ever use. My favorite, of course, is The No-Nonsense General Class License Study Guide. It’s my favorite because I wrote it! A PDF version is available for free from my website. E-book versions are available for $7.99 from Amazon or Barnes&Noble.

Another resource is the ARRL General Class License Manual. When you buy this book, you also get practice exam software. This Windows software allows you to take randomly-generated practice exams using questions from the actual examination question pool.

Also popular is the General Class Manual by Gordon West, WB6NOA. “Gordo,” as he is known in the ham world, has been around a long time and does a great job explaining the answers and highlighting keywords. This study is also available as anaudio book.

There are many more resources out there. To find them, simply Google “amateur radio general class license study guide.”

There really is no excuse not to upgrade. Once you do, you’ll be more knowledgeable about our great hobby, be a more effective communicator, and have a lot more fun with amateur radio.



From: National Public Safety Telecommunications Council ( via Chris Quirk W6CJQ

Why can’t public safety just use cell phones and smart phones for their mission critical voice communications?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

Although public safety regularly use cell phones, smart phones, and other commercial wireless devices and services as a secondary form of communications, these devices and systems are currently not sufficiently suited for public safety mission critical voice communications during critical incidents.

Public safety officials cannot depend upon commercial systems that can be overloaded and unavailable.   Experience has shown such systems are often the most unreliable during critical incidents when public demand overwhelms the systems.

Public safety officials have unique and demanding communications requirements. Optimal public safety radio communications require:


  • Dedicated channels and priority access that is available at all times to handle unexpected emergencies.
  • Mission-critical one-to-many group capability, a feature not available in today’s commercial cellular systems.
  • Highly reliable, secure, and redundant networks under local control that are engineered and maintained to withstand natural disasters and other emergencies.
  • The best possible coverage within a jurisdictional area, with a minimum of dead zones – even in areas where commercial cellular services are not economically viable.
  • And, unique, ruggedized equipment designed for quick response in emergency situations. First responders must not be forced to dial, wait for call connections, or get busy signals when seconds mean the difference between life and death!


Why can’t public safety just use the planned nationwide publicsafety broadband network (NPSBN) for their mission critical voice communications?

Again, it’s not that simple.

Although the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have voice capabilities that will be valuable to public safety, the network will not be able to initially provide (for many years and maybe never) the mission critical level of voice service and dependability needed by public safety.   The NPSBN is intended to provide urgently needed broadband data capabilities for public safety and is not initially being designed to replace current land mobile radio (LMR) mission critical public safety voice systems.

One key element lacking for the NPSBN to replace LMR is that the NPSBN will use LTE commercial technology, a network technology that does not currently provide the “OFF NETWORK” capability that is critical to public safety.  This means that when the broadband network is not available or not reachable there will be no communications, a critical requirement for public safety.

Other key elements required for mission critical voice include but are not limited to:


  • Nationwide broadband build out:  It will take 10 years or more to build out the nationwide public safety broadband network to provide mission critical coverage equal to current public safety land mobile networks.
  • Direct Mode  or Talk Around: The capability to communicate unit-to-unit when out of range of a wireless network


OR when working in a confined area where direct unit-to-unit communications is required.


  • Push-to-Talk (PTT):  The standard form of public safety voice communications today.  The speaker pushes a button on the radio and immediately transmits the voice message to one or many other units.  When they are done talking they release the PTT switch and return to the listen mode of operation.
  • Group  Call:  This method of voice communications provides communications from one-to-many members of a group and is of vital importance to the public safety community.


There is much debate relative to whether broadband will eventually have the capabilities to replace current mission-critical public safety LMR systems, however the facts are clear that if this capability becomes reality it is not likely to happen in less than 10 years.

Local,  tribal, state,  and  federal public officials are  urged  to not  abandon or stop  funding their  public safety voice  LMR  systems until such  time  as  it can  be  demonstrated that  broadband can  safely and  adequately provide public safety with the mission critical requirements currently provided by LMR.

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPTSC) is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.

Voting Members

1. AASHTO ……….American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

2. ARRL ……………American Radio Relay League

3. AFWA …………..Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

4. APCO……………Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials – International

5. FCCA ……………Forestry Conservation Communications Association

6. IACP…………….International Association of Chiefs of Police

7. IAEM ……………International Association of Emergency Managers

8. IAFC …………….International Association of Fire Chiefs

9. IMSA ……………International Municipal Signal Association

10. NASCIO ………..National Association of State Chief Information Officers

11. NASEMSO ……..National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

12. NASF ……………National Association of State Foresters

13. NASTD………….National Association of State Technology Directors

14. NENA……………National Emergency Number Association

15. NSA……………..National Sheriffs’ Association

Associate Members (Non-Voting)

1. ATIS …………….Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions

2. CITIG …………..Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group

3. NCSWIC………..National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators

4. TIA………………Telecommunications Industry Association

5. UTC……………..Utilities Telecom Council

Liaison Organizations (Non-Voting)

1. FCC ……………..Federal Communications Commission

2. FEMA……………Federal Emergency Management Agency

3. FPIC …………….Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications

4. NTIA ……………National Telecommunications and Information Association

5. OEC……………..Office of Emergency Communications

6. OIC ……………..Office for Interoperability and Compatibility

7. PSCE ……………Public Safety Communication Europe

8. US DOI …………US Department of the Interior

9. US DOJ…………US Department of Justice


NPSTC Mission Critical Voice Definition

Voice over Broadband Articles:

Voice and Public Safety Broadband

Mission-Critical Voice over LTE: What, When and How?

Mission-Critical Voice and LTE: Be Careful