Friday, 30 June 2017

09:22 – It was 65.4F (18.5C) when I took Colin out at 0620, overcast and drizzling. Barbara got back from dinner with her friend Marcy about 2100. The local ham radio club net runs at 2030 Thursday evenings. I could hear the repeater loud and clear, but it couldn’t hear me, either with the standard UV-82 rubber duck antenna or with the Nagoya NA771 whip. I need to do some work on that.

Frances and Al are stopping by this afternoon. They’re bringing along their Linux desktop system, which I haven’t looked at for probably three or four years. I had it set to autoupdate, but even so it needs a thorough going-over. IIRC, it’s running Linux Mint, but I’m not even sure about that.

I’ll get it set up, probably in the den, and then pull backups to two different external hard drives, and data backups to a couple of DVD-R discs as well. Once I’m sure I have good backups, I’ll do a deep hard drive test and then blow away what’s on there and install the current Linux Mint LTS version and get all of their plugins and software updated.

I’m not too concerned about the hard drives. Spinning disks have failure curves pretty much like incandescent light bulbs–pretty much a Poisson Distribution, with some very early failures, followed by what looks almost like a Normal Distribution for the next few years, followed by a long-tail curve.

Speaking of failures, we had an electronic scale fail yesterday. Barbara was filling agar bottles, weighing each to ensure they got at least the specified 10 grams each. I’d just bought agar from a new source, so I ordered only half a kilo until I could look at it. Nominally, she should have gotten 50 bottles from that 500 g of agar, but she always goes slightly over, so I told her she might get 45 or 47 bottles.

She came to get me a while later and showed me that she already had 45 bottles filled, but still had almost half the original agar left. So I went in and got a spare scale. It turned out she’d been transferring only about 6 grams to each bottle, even though the scale was indicating 10+ grams each. So I pitched the old scale in the trash and immediately ordered two more spares. While I was at it, I ordered another 500 grams of agar.

It’d been a while since I calibrated the bad scale with a standard set of weights. I probably need to put a reminder on my calendar to do that periodically.

Email from Jen. They tried their new NV camera system I mentioned yesterday with and without the supplemental IR LED illuminator. She said it helped some, but it was difficult to tell just how much. Like just about any location east of the Mississippi, Jen and David’s home suffers from some light pollution. They’re rural, but there are enough lights around that there’s some sky glow, which is apparently sufficient to let the low-light capability of their cameras function.

They’re rated at a 100-foot detection range at 0.00 lux, using the built-in IR LED illuminators, but even without the IR they’re supposedly good down to something like 0.01 lux. They waited until full dark and then sent the nephews out to walk around the yard. They were wearing reasonably dark clothing–jeans and such–and they were able to detect movement out well past 100 feet. Turning on the supplemental IR LED illuminator brightened things up a bit, but they really couldn’t tell just how far they’d be able to spot movement with just the built-in IR versus with the supplemental illuminator also lit.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

08:55 – It was 60.7F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0615, partly cloudy and calm. Barbara is out filling bottles for science kits, which she’ll be doing most of the day. She’s headed down to East Bend, outside Winston, around 1700 to have dinner with her friend Marcy. She should be back mid-evening.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the water heater. It was one of the copper feed lines coming out the top of it. Two guys from Shaw showed up yesterday around 1100 and replaced both the old copper lines with PEX. It took them less than half an hour. They were both surprised that we had a 110V well pump. Neither of them had ever seen one before.

A few minutes after they left, Jay Shaw stopped back with a sheath of paint swatches to show me. He matched the existing paint pretty closely with an off-white color called “cotton ball”. I told him that, fortunately, Barbara didn’t really care about the exact color as long as it was an off-white and a reasonably close match for what was on the walls now.

I ordered 250 grams of reagent-grade (AR) iodine crystals off eBay yesterday. Thirty bucks, including shipping from China. If it weren’t for federal regulations, I could have just ordered it from Fisher Scientific or another US supplier. But that involves an incredible amount of paperwork, so much so that many US vendors no longer sell elemental iodine, and if they do the cost is outrageous.

Understand, I’m not breaking any laws by ordering iodine on eBay. It’s perfectly legal for me to buy it, import it, or possess it in any quantity. It’s just illegal for US resellers to sell elemental iodine to US customers without going through all the regulatory bullshit. I can even sell iodine solutions, as long as I don’t sell more than 30 mL at a time and it’s less than 2.2% iodine w/v. That’s fortunate, because every kit we sell includes a 30 mL bottle of Lugol’s iodine solution, which is 1.27% w/v iodine in a 2% solution of potassium iodide.

For that matter, it’s trivially easy to isolate elemental iodine from potassium iodide, which is completely uncontrolled. I could order a hundred kilos of KI, and no one would blink an eye. And all it takes to convert that potassium iodide to iodine is some hardware store muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) and a jug of supermarket chlorine bleach. I did that as a demo at MakerFaire in 2008 to demonstrate how futile federal regulations are.

Lisa emailed me an update of their progress. They’re well past her initial goal of food/water/shelter for three months, but are still accumulating LTS food and other supplies. They’re now studying for their Technician Class ham radio licenses in preparation for taking the test in August.

They’ve also stocked up on OTC medications, bandages, etc., but Lisa came across one of my posts about SHTF antibiotics and wants to get some. She said that the source I recommended, aquabiotics.net, appears to be out of business. Their web page is still up, but it’s nothing but a placeholder.

They’re actually still in business, but not on the Internet. PayPal and other credit-card processors have banned them solely because they’re selling antibiotics. The owner, Dave Folsom, is now processing orders solely by email. Email him at dcfolsom@reagan.com and ask for his current price list. Decide what you want, total up the price, and send him a check. I know that’ll probably make a lot of people nervous, but I’ve bought from him twice that way, and each time he’s shipped exactly what I ordered via USPS Priority Mail the day he got the check.

I suggested to Lisa that for the six of them (assuming no drug allergies) she order at least a few courses each of 100 mg doxycycline, 800/160 mg SMZ/TMP, 875/125 mg amoxicillin/clavulanate, and 400 mg metronidazole. And, in case nothing else works, at least a course or two of 500 mg levofloxacin. Stick them in the freezer, and don’t even think of touching them unless the S has really, really HTF and you’re convinced the patient is going to die if you don’t take desperate measures.

More email from Jen. They routinely run readiness exercises every time there’s a three-day holiday weekend. This one is four days, which is better still. They’re starting as of 1800 tomorrow and running their exercise through next Wednesday morning. David is on call for a couple of those days, so he has to keep his cell phone on, but otherwise they’ll be completely off-grid for the duration. No grid power or other utilities, no TV other than DVDs and other local stuff, no Internet (although they do cheat and check email and news sites in case there’s a real emergency), etc. These exercises became routine for all of them a long time back. As Jen says, it’s essentially just a family camping trip at home.

Brittany and her family are also doing a readiness exercise over the holiday weekend. These aren’t as routine for them, yet, because they haven’t been doing them as long or as often as Jen and her family have, but they did get most of the bugs worked out some time ago.


11:15 – I forgot to mention one new thing Jen and her family will be trying out. In past readiness exercises, their main problem was keeping a 24×7 watch, particularly when it was just the six of them participating. So they decided to install an HD NV surveillance system. The system they bought has eight Ethernet PoE 1080P surveillance cameras with IR illuminators, and is rated for 100-foot detection at 0 lux (with the IR working). Those cameras feed into a 16-port DVR that has all kinds of bells and whistles.

Jen’s husband, brother, and nephews spent some time last weekend getting cameras mounted and everything installed. The cameras and DVR have standard Ethernet RJ-45 jacks. They mounted the cameras under the eaves at each corner of the house facing out at 45-degree angles and at the center of each wall, facing out at 90 degrees, and ran pre-made Ethernet cables to each camera. Jen didn’t want a bundle of Ethernet cables coming down into the house proper, so they declared the main floor utility room to be their comm center and ran all the cables back there.

They were a bit concerned that the rated 100-foot IR detection range was insufficient, so they also bought one PoE IR illuminator, installed it under the eaves near one of the cameras, and ran an Ethernet cable back to the comm center. They’re going to try that one camera with and without the supplementary IR illuminator and see how much difference it makes. If it greatly increases the range, they’ll install seven more IR illumintors, one per camera.

They’ll power the illuminators with an old 8-port Ethernet hub, of which they have several. They also bought a low-end BPS that should run the cameras, DVR, and illuminator for a long time on battery. The comm center is near their solar power charge controller and battery bank, so in a grid-down situation they’d be able to power their surveillance gear indefinitely.

I’m looking forward to hearing how that all works. They spent a fair amount on all the gear, but getting a smaller system costs only a few hundred dollars and would be a useful security supplement.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

07:52 – It was 50.0F (10C) when I took Colin out at 0620, sunny and calm. Barbara is driving over to West Jefferson this morning to meet two friends from Winston and spend the day walking around town.

Anyone who owns a home knows that if it’s not one thing it’s another. Barbara noticed some water around the base of the water heater. This house is about 10 years old. Water heaters have a service life of 10 to 15 years, and the well water up here is pretty corrosive. So my guess is that we’ll need to replace the water heater. I’ll call Shaw Brothers this morning to see if we can get Herschel out to look at it.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

08:30 – It was 58.9F (15C) when I took Colin out at 0715, sunny and breezy. Half an hour later, it was already up to 68.0F (20C). Barbara is volunteering at the Friends of the Library bookstore this afternoon. This morning, we’re doing science kit stuff.

There was a disturbing article in the Winston paper yesterday morning, with a followup article this morning. There was a home invasion in Lewisville, an exurban area not far from where we used to live. It occurred in the wee small hours. The outcome was better than might be expected. None of the home’s residents were injured, thanks largely to a neighbor with an “assault rifle” who shot and killed one of the would-be invaders. Details are still lacking, but it appears that because of North Carolina’s Castle Doctrine the neighbor won’t be charged. The police are withholding the names of the would-be victims because the rest of the home invaders are still at large.

Barbara’s made it about halfway through season eight of CSI:NY, and should be able to finish watching it over the next couple of days. I browsed around the current offerings of BritBox yesterday, and it looks to be worth the $7/month subscription. There’s a lot of stuff there that’s never made it to US television or streaming. Some of it is probably mediocre, but the Brits on average do pretty good TV series.

Monday, 26 June 2017

09:51 – It was 60.9F (16C) when I took Colin out at 0700, clear, bright, and breezy. When we came back in 12 minutes later, it was already up to 64.3F (18C). Barbara is off to the gym and a meeting this morning. This afternoon, more science kit stuff.

Barbara asked this morning if the old Adam Dalgliesh mysteries were available on Netflix or Amazon streaming. I did a search on Roku, which turned up nothing. So I did a search for Roy Marsden, who played the title character. That turned up one movie and two TV series. None were available on Netflix or Amazon streaming, but they were available on a news-to-us service called BritBox. It’s a joint effort by BBC and ITV, and, unlike garbage rent-seeking services like AcornTV, it looks as if it may be worth the $7/month subscription. We’ve always watched a lot of British TV, so this US-only service looks very interesting to us. There’s a 7-day free trial, which I’ll sign up for after the end of this month.

Right now, Barbara’s binge-watching CSI:NY (she likes Gary Sinese). Netflix streaming currently has all nine seasons, but they lose seasons 1 through 8 on 6/29. She’s currently on S08E04 in the 18-episode S08, so she’ll be able to binge her way through the 15 remaining episodes over the next few days.

When I’m in the room while she’s watching it, I annoy her every time they show a NYC-scape by shouting “Sparta”. The other night, I did actually get a laugh out of her when they had a scene set along the beach with a pretty girl (it’s always a pretty girl, which annoys me) who’d been munched by a shark. As they showed a long shot of the beach, I shouted, “Sparta Beach”. When they zoomed in on the dead shark, I shouted, “Sparta Shark”. I then googled “sparta shark”. Believe it or not, there actually is such an item, made in Canada. It’s a folding knife.

Email from Lisa. She and her husband attended amateur radio Field Day over the weekend and met several of the local ham operators, one of whom was only 12. As I expected, she found all of them very friendly and helpful. They decided to sign up for a family membership, and are on the schedule for next Technician Class training class and exam. She’s also made a lot of progress on her prepping goal of having a 3-month supply of food, water, etc. They already have a lot of stuff from local supply runs stacked in the basement, and several hundred dollars worth of Augason dry foods on the way from Walmart.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

09:56 – It was 59.1F (15C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, overcast and breezy. Barbara is cleaning house this morning. This afternoon, more science kit stuff.

We spent yesterday afternoon and evening at the local amateur radio club’s Field Day event. First time in more than 40 years I’d pressed the transmit button on a ham radio. It worked.

We had a hard time finding the park where the event was held. That’s not the first time that’s happened to me. For a small town of about 1,800 population, it can be hard to find things around here. When we first moved up here, I went off in search of the local LDS Church. I knew its street address. I found it on a town map. We drove around in circles looking for it. We could actually see it. I know it sounds stupid, but we couldn’t find any way to actually get to it. We even drove through the parking lot and loading dock area of a nearby factory. We spotted a driveway that was a secondary entrance but it had a steel gate lowered to block it. I still haven’t been to visit the place.

Yesterday, we knew that the park we were looking for was at the end of Trojan Drive, which is where the high school is. We drove around for 10 minutes or so looking for a park. No luck. Finally, we were sitting at the entrance to the high school driveway. We’d agreed that no way could it be up there, but with no other choice we drove up the driveway. Sure enough, there was an small access road leading off to the left, up past the athletic fields, tennis courts, and so on. So we headed up that road and eventually spotted a small drive branching off to the right. We took that, and found ourselves in a gravel parking lot, but with no obvious park facilities. So we retraced our route and continued up the access road. Finally, we spotted a shelter with a couple cars parked near it. If this wasn’t the place, I was thinking we should just give up and head home. But it ended up being the right place.

There were only three or four people there, but over the next hour or so more people showed up, until we had 20 or so adults total. Of those, probably a dozen or so were hams, with the rest being non-ham spouses. The average age was probably about Barbara’s and my age, although there was one 18-year-old guy and his 15-yo girlfriend.

There were six or eight rigs set up on the picnic tables. Everything from a home-made QRP rig that dated back to the 70’s to recent Icom and Yaesu base stations. Over the course of the day, different people were operating on 10-, 20-, and 40-meters, talking to other hams all over the US. One guy even ran CW for a while. And, of course, lots of us were active on the local 2-meter repeater.

The email said kids were welcome, so we took Colin along. He had the time of his life. Lots of new friends to pet him and share scraps with him. We kept him on a roller leash all day, just on general principles, but he was so well-behaved that we didn’t really need to.

I was pleased with the performance of the BaoFeng UV-82. It’s a PITA to program, but once I got it set to hit the repeater (with a lot of help from another ham), signal strength was excellent, even using just the stock rubber-duck antenna. The battery also did well. I’d charged it fully before we left the house. It ran for about six hours, at maybe 90/8/2 standby/receive/transmit, and at the end of the evening it was still showing a full charge.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

09:31 – It was 65.4F (18.5C) when I took Colin out around 0645 this morning, bright and sunny. When I looked a few minutes ago, we were up to 81.7F (27+C). Barbara is washing her car and doing other outside stuff this morning. This afternoon we do still more science kit stuff.

My Amazon order arrived yesterday morning, with a name-brand programming cable and a Nagoya NA-771 whip antenna for the UV-82. I plugged the cable into a USB port, connected and turned on the radio, and fired up CHIRP to program it. CHIRP didn’t see the UV-82. Ruh-Roh.

So I brought up a terminal and typed:

dmesg | grep FTDI

That returned the following, which told me the driver was installed and working.

[4329131.762676] usb 1-3.1.7.4: Manufacturer: FTDI
[4329131.765293] ftdi_sio 1-3.1.7.4:1.0: FTDI USB Serial Device converter detected
[4329131.765800] usb 1-3.1.7.4: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB0

As it turned out, the problem was that my account wasn’t in the dialout group, so I had no access to ttyUSB0. That was easy enough to fix. I just added my account to the dialout group, logged out and back in, and everything worked as expected. CHIRP recognized that the UV-82 was connected, so I downloaded and saved a copy of the default channel programming. That was kind of weird, incidentally. It looked pretty much random.

I then attempted to upload to the radio that CHIRP template that had 99 emergency frequencies pre-defined. It blew up with ERROR in every field. Hmmmm. Now that I think about it, it did the same thing two or three years ago when I first tried to program one of my UV-82 radios. IIRC, the problem then was that that template wasn’t formatted correctly. It was in CSV format, which CHIRP expects, but there were errors in the way the fields were laid out.

So I next uploaded one of the default templates that’s supplied with the CHIRP package, which included FRS/GMRS frequencies. That one uploaded fine to the radio. When I disconnected it, turned it off and then back on, the FRS/GMRS frequencies displayed as expected. So now I need to bring up the emergency frequencies template in a text editor and figure out again what the problem is.

Friday, 23 June 2017

09:10 – It was 67.9F (20C) when I took Colin out around 0645 this morning, damp and overcast. Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket this morning. This afternoon we do science kit stuff.

I forgot to mention that our purple-top white globe turnips failed miserably. We knew they were best planted in autumn, but decided to try planting a row of them this spring. They apparently flourished, but last weekend when Barbara and Al were working in the garden they decided to dig one up. It looked fine, but when they cut it open it was full of worms. So were all the others.

So we’ll plant another row of them in September and see how they do. One of the local gardeners Barbara knows recommended applying borax to keep the worms away from them. We’ll try that.

Email from Brittany about my post yesterday. She and her husband started studying for their Technician Class ham licenses a month or so ago. They’re taking it slow and easy since the next exam session anywhere close to them isn’t until August. One of their neighbors is a serious ham, and got them started by giving them a tour of his shack and demonstrating how everything worked.

They were intimidated by the room full of gear, and figured that it’d cost them thousands to get into ham radio. When he told them that they could get on the air with a radio each for less than $100 total, they thought he was kidding. He showed them one of his throwaway BaoFeng UV-5R transceivers that was set up to hit the local repeater, and told them that it was a $25 radio.

After reading my post yesterday, Brittany and her husband decided to order a UV-82 for each of them, each radio with a spare battery, whip antenna, and speaker/mic. They also got a name-brand programming cable, and downloaded/installed CHIRP. They plan to have the radios ready to go on-the-air the moment they get their licenses.

 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

08:37 – It was 64.5F (18C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, mostly cloudy. Barbara is off to Winston today to get a haircut, make a Costco run, have lunch with friends, and do some miscellaneous errands.


Ruh-roh. Lisa has hooked up with Jen and Brittany. These women are going to take over the world, I tell you.

I got email overnight from Lisa, CC’d to Jen and Brittany, congratulating me on getting my ham radio ticket. Lisa had been thinking about ham radio for a while, and asked me what she needed to do, on a budget, to get started. What to do, how to get licensed, what to buy, etc. As happens so often, she wanted to know exactly what I did because she intends to copy me. So, with the usual provisos that she is not me and what’s right for me isn’t necessarily right for her, here’s what I told her:

How to Get Started

First, go to http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club and locate the nearest ham radio club. Contact them and attend the next club meeting. Take your family along and let them know you’re interested in getting licensed. I’ve never met a ham who wasn’t friendly and eager to get others involved in the hobby. You’ll find the club very welcoming.

Find out if they offer classes for getting your license, and when and where the license exams occur. The exam for the entry-level Technician Class license and the second-level General Class license each comprises 35 questions from a published pool of 400+ questions. You don’t absolutely have to attend classes to pass your exam. Many people do so just by using on-line ham resources like hamexam.org, which has the question pool (with correct answers), flash cards, and sample tests.

If you’re interested only in local two-way communications–say within a 20-or 30-mile radius or within your county–all you need is your Technician Class license, and that exam is pretty easy to pass. If you’re interested in talking with other hams around the country or around the world, you’ll also want to take the General Class exam, which offers almost complete ham privileges. The General Class exam is harder than the Technician Class, but is still pretty easy.

Once you decide which license class each of you wants to get, start preparing for the exam. If you wish, you can buy the official ARRL study manuals for Technician and General Class, but chances are you’ll do fine just drilling on hamexam.org.

The tests are administered by a group of three Volunteer Examiners. There is usually a $10 per person charge for an exam session. During that session, you can take only the Technician Class exam if you wish, but if you pass that you can go on to take the General Class exam without paying any more. In fact, you can take all three, including the top-level Amateur Extra exam, at one session for the one $10 charge. You have to pass each lower level before you’re allowed to take the next level up.

What to Buy

Again, I’ll emphasize that what I recommend here isn’t best for everyone, but it’ll certainly get you started well.

⊕ Transceivers are available in hand-held versions (called HT’s for handy-talkies), mobile versions designed to install in the dashboard of your vehicle, and base station versions that are designed to sit on a desk or table at home. Nowadays, most hams start with an HT, and many never use anything else.

HT’s are available in a wide range of prices. Name-brand units (Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, etc.) are generally quite expensive ($150 to several times that), and are limited to transmitting only on amateur radio frequencies. No-name Chinese models (BaoFeng/Pofung, etc.) are much, much less expensive (typically $20 to maybe $70), and can transmit across a broad range of frequencies, typically 136 to 174 MHz and 400 to 520 MHz). That range includes the amateur 2-meter and 70-cm (440 MHz) bands, but also includes many other services, such as FRS/GMRS, MURS, Marine Band, Business Band, etc. Many experienced hams dislike these programmable HTs for just that reason, while most preppers love them, for just that reason.

You might think you couldn’t possibly get much of a radio for a quarter to a tenth or less the price of a name-brand model, but you’d be wrong. A $30 BaoFeng HT has specifications (power output, sensitivity, selectivity, etc.) very similar to a $300 Icom or Yaesu.

There’s not much difference in terms of construction quality, either. One guy on Youtube torture-tested a $30 Chinese HT. He froze it, baked it, drenched it with a hose, and ran over it with his truck. Each time, it kept on working. Finally, he drenched it with gasoline and set it on fire. When the fire finally burned out, the case was charred and melted and the rubber-duck antenna was just a naked coil of wire. And it still worked. Note that he tested the UV-5R, which “feels” like a consumer-grade radio. The UV-82 “feels” a lot more like a commercial/industrial-grade model.

In fact, the commercial model of the UV-82, the UV-82C, is widely used by government and NGO emergency services agencies and volunteer groups that work with them. The only difference between the C model and the regular UV-82 is that the former costs about $60 rather than $30 and is a Type Accepted Part 90 device. It has had keypad access to VFO disabled, so new frequencies can’t be input from the keypad. These units have to be programmed with a computer and cable.

So I have no hesitation in recommending these radios for new ham operators, particularly those on a budget. You can buy a $30 model and use it as-is. If you want to accessorize it, you can spend another $10 or $20 each on things like a spare battery, a battery eliminator that let’s you plug into the cigarette lighter socket in your car, a AAA battery adapter that lets you use AAA alkalines or NiMH rechargeable, a good whip antenna, a speaker/mic, and so on.

So, what specific items do I recommend for getting started on a budget?

BaoFeng UV-82 HT – buy one or more of these. They run about $30 each. Assuming all of your group are getting their ham licenses, buy one for each of them. You can use them legally on the 2-meter and 70-cm ham bands to communicate directly between units (simplex mode) or with local repeaters (duplex mode) to extend your comm range over probably a 50- to 100-mile radius.

BaoFeng programming cable – The UV-82 has 99 programmable channels. You can program it manually, from the keypad on the radio, but it’s much easier to use a programming cable connected to your computer. This genuine BaoFeng Tech cable costs about $20, but it Just Works. Don’t make the mistake of buying one of the cheaper clone cables for $6 or whatever. They use an obsolete chipset that requires old drivers that screw up your computer. The cheap cables are nothing but headaches. You only need one programming cable no matter how many units you need to program, unless you just want a second one as a spare. (two is one …)

Download a free copy of the CHIRP software (available for Linux, MAC OS, or Windows) and use it to program your radios. You can also download various templates for CHIRP that include groups of 99 useful frequencies. Here’s one example, which includes a useful set of frequencies for preppers.

CHIRP templates are stored as simple CSV files, which you can edit with any text editor. You might want to edit the template mentioned above to remove some of the less useful frequencies (like the PMR446 group, which are kind of the European equivalent of the US FRS/GMRS frequencies). You can then use those free channels for 2-meter and 70-cm ham frequencies that are popular in your area for either simplex (direct unit-to-unit) or duplex (repeater). Programming frequencies, mode, etc. is very easy once you look at the CSV file. Pretty much self-explanatory.

The UV-82 itself comes with a charging base, battery, and rubber-duck antenna, which is all you really NEED to get on the air. I consider the programming cable and CHIRP almost a necessity, so I also included it above. There are also several optional items you might WANT. Here are the most popular ones:

Nagoya NA-771 replacement antenna – this 15.6″ dual-band whip antenna costs about $17 and is a direct screw-in replacement for the rubber duck antenna included with the radio. It is much, much more efficient and effective than the standard antenna. Using it can easily double the effective range of your UV-82.

⊕ BaoFeng BL-8 7.4V 1800 mAh battery – you’ll probably want a spare battery for each of your UV-82 HT’s. Battery life is good on the UV-82, but if you ever need to run your HT’s 24×7, spare batteries for each are critical.

Buy the Nagoya-branded antenna and BaoFeng-branded battery, and buy them on Amazon from BaoFeng Tech or BTech (same vendor), which is the authorized US distributor for BaoFeng. Do NOT buy them if Amazon is listed as the vendor. Amazon and its third-party vendors are both notorious for shipping counterfeit products. The branded units from BTech/BaoFeng Tech cost about the same price Amazon charges if they’re selling them, and BTech doesn’t charge sales tax to most locations. Amazon ships it, but BaoFeng Tech is the seller.

BaoFeng battery eliminator – this $16 item has a cigarette lighter plug on one end. The other end looks just like the UV-82 battery, and slides onto the HT in place of the real battery. You’ll probably want at least one or two of these, and maybe one for each radio or at least each vehicle, if you plan to use them a lot in vehicles. Once again, buy these from BTech or BaoFeng Tech as the vendor.

BL-8 AAA battery – another $16 item that’s basically just an empty battery housing for the UV-82. It lets you use AAA alkaline or rechargeables. Interestingly, this adapter requires only five alkaline AAA’s but SIX NiMH rechargeable AAA’s. That’s because the real battery is 7.4V. Five alkalines is 7.5V, which is close enough; six NiMH’s is 7.2V, which again is close enough. But if you put six alkalines in this adapter, it’s delivering 9V, which is too much. The UV-82 apparently continues to work, but it won’t transmit. That’s why this adapter includes a dummy/spacer battery, for when you use alkalines. Again, buy these only from BaoFeng Tech or BTech as the vendor.

⊕ Finally, if you can find it, you might want a clone-and-copy cable. I bought one of these from Amazon back in 2013 or so but they’re now listed as no longer available. Like the programming cable, they have a two-prong connector on one end, but instead of having a USB connector on the other, they have a second two-prong connector. That allows you to connect two UV-82 HT’s directly together and transfer the programming from one unit to the other. The only reason you’d use this is if you don’t have access to a working computer to program units directly. And, if absolutely necessary, you can program units directly from their keypads. So this is definitely an optional item.

So this is what I recommend, in the sense that this is what I actually did and bought.

 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

09:56 – It was 62.6F (17C) when I took Colin out around 0700 this morning, mostly cloudy. Barbara is off to the gym. We’re working on kit stuff this afternoon.

Barbara brought home a “Herd Starter Kit” from the golf tournament yesterday. It’s a small plastic bag that contains what looks like four Lima bean seeds with black spots on them. But the label assures us that if we plant them properly and keep them watered they’ll produce four heifers to get our herd started. No instructions, alas, on when and how to pick them or how to save seeds to ensure an ongoing supply of cows.

As I was looking up my own ham radio license in the FCC database yesterday, I had a thought. I started checking to see if various PA novelists were in the database. Franklin Horton is, although the FCC thinks he lives in Huntington Beach, CA. Chris Weatherman (AKA Angery American) is, under his real address in Umatilla, FL. Steven Bird is, also under his real address. I was surprised that Konkoly isn’t in the database. Nor is Forstchen, Akart, Craven, Mann, nor numerous other PA novelists.

Then I started looking up people who have prepping websites. Lisa Bedford (Survival Mom) is in there, as is Pat Henry. There are ten Creekmore listings, but none of them for M. D., nor is Rawles in there, nor several others that I’d have expected to find.

Being a good boy, I’ve played by the rules. I haven’t keyed the transmitter on any of my 2-meter/440 handhelds because I wasn’t yet licensed. So now the next step is to get these things programmed and working. The BaoFeng programming cables are a PITA. Supposedly, the name-brand ones just work, with Windows or Linux, because they have a current chipset. The cheap ones, including the ones supplied by most BaoFeng vendors, use an older chipset. If you try to use the cable under Linux, it just doesn’t work. If you try to use it under Windows, it downloads an old driver that screws up your Windows installation even worse than Microsoft screws it up to start with.

I do have one of the official BaoFeng cables that does work, but it’s buried downstairs behind stacks of furniture and other stuff. So my choices at this point are to wait until I can get to it or to program this UV-82 manually with the local 2M repeater frequencies.