Emergency Radio Cache

Radio Cache for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down baofeng radio cachenote: first appeared in November 2015

I’ve been asked many times, “What kind of radios should I buy?” Or, “How many radios do I need?” And, “Where can I find radios that set-up ready-to-go?” And, “What accessories do I need to get the most performance out of my radio?”

I’ve written extensively on the Baofeng UV-5RA radio. I think it is simply the best value for the most people who are looking for a good alternative communications capability. And not only that, it really makes a great radio for a variety of purposes. Some of those are:

  • Family emergency radios.
  • Hunters & campers.
  • Church service groups.Ham Radios being used by Family
  • Neighborhood Watch
  • Emergency response teams.
  • Prepper groups.
  • The list could go on and on…

One of the situations that keeps coming up is buying a number of radios for a “cache” to be used as needed, properly and safely stored when not being used. Best possible answer to that is what I do right now for the group I am responsible for. If you have read my bio you know I am responsible for emergency preparedness for a 13-congregation church group; we call that group a “Stake” in our church. The 13 congregations are spread out over a three-county area.

In a perfect world each congregation would have their own cache of radios ready to go. But the world is rarely perfect. So the alternative is for me to maintain a radio cache that is ready to deploy when, where, and as needed. I thought the best way provide an answer is to show you a working example..the “8-Radio Cache”.

The mission for the radio cache is –

“Provide sufficient communications gear for two teams of four people to communicate while on the ground or traveling, and to provide that capability for a minimum of five days without the need to recharge any batteries.”

Requirements & Restrictions –

  1. Radio must be proven dependable.
  2. Radio must be able to operate on dual bands (2m & 70cm) simultaneously for use with a cross-band repeater.
  3. Radio must be able to programmable and cloned.
  4. Radio should be able to be programmed with NOAA, FRS, GMRS, and MURS frequencies.
  5. Radio should be able to receive FM band commercial and government broadcasts.
  6. Radio operations must be sustainable for five days with fully charged batteries.
  7. Radios must be operational from inside a moving vehicle by two separate teams.
  8. Radio operation must have “privacy” capabilities where no communication sounds can be heard by anyone but the user.
  9. Radio cache must have secure and protected storage capability that easily moved and transported.
  10. Radio operations must be easy to understand and easy to operate with minimal training.

The concept for our use is along the lines of the Incident Command System principle of operational teams. In this case two teams consisting of four people for a total of eight people. Each of the two teams would travel in separate vehicles. This ensures that each team also has vehicle radio operational capability as well.

However, a smaller team, say 3 people, could utilize a leader who had a radio while the remaining team members do not have a radio. This would be acceptable if all team members worked in close proximity to each other.Handheld Radio used by Firefighter

The radio needed to be sufficiently rugged to handle most emergency operational environments but not be subjected to “submersion” capabilities, etc. The Baofeng UV-5RA is a sturdy radio but isn’t made to operate in harsh environments such as structure fires, wildland fires, or where the radio is excessively exposed to the elements.

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To meet all these demands here is what the cache consists of –Baofeng UV-5RA radio for sale

  • 8 x Baofeng UV-5RA radio kits. Each kit contains:
    • 1 x Boafeng UV-5RA radio
    • 1 x charger cradle
    • 1 x AC charger adapter
    • 1 x Stubby antennaBattery - Powermall 3800mAh
    • 1 x 14.5” antenna
    • 1 x ear piece w/lapel mic
    • Baofeng UV-5RA antenna : ExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5-Inch Dual Band Antenna (144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F)2 x 1800mAh batteries
    • 1 x 3800mAh battery
    • 1 x 12vDC charger cradle adapter
    • 1 x Radio pouch
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming Software CD with cable
  • 2 x Tram 1185 Vehicle magnetic mount dual-band antennaTram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5R antenna on car roof
  • 2 x MPD adapter cable
  • 2 x Tenq vehicle battery replacement adapter
  • 2 x Vehcile “4-to-1” cigarette adapter multiplier
  • 1 x Vaultz Secure Roller Case

Then there is the documentation –

  • Cache Inventory Sheet
  • Radio Check-Out/In Sheet
  • Quick Start User Guide
  • UV-5RA User Manual
  • UV-5RA Programming Guide
  • ARRL US Amateur Radio Bands chart

Then I custom programmed the radios using the RT Systems programming software. The programming meets all the requirements listed above in the “Requirements & Restrictions” section.

Here is each component in the cache –

♦  Baofeng UV-5r handheld radioBaofeng UV-5RA radio, stubby antenna, ear piece w/lapel mic, charging cradle, AC adapter, 1800mAh battery

  • Frequency Range: 136-174 / 400-479.995 MHz.
  • Full height two-color LED definition display. The screen has exquisite clarity.
  • Field programmable from keypad.
  • Programmable via computer software.

♦  ExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5-Inch Dual Band Antenna (144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F) Boafeng UV-5RExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5″ Dual Band Antenna.

  • Frequency Range: 144-146, 430-440 MHz
  • VSWR: less than 1.5
  • Gain: 2.15dBi (144-146 MHz), 3.5dBi (430-440 MHz)
  • Maximum Power Input-watts: 50 W
  • Height: 14.4 inches

 

♦  Battery - Powermall 3800mAhPowermall 3800mAh rechargeable battery. The 3800mAh battery will last about 3 – 5 days while the battery that comes with the radio will last 2 – 3 days. Of course that will depend on your actual usage, which is mostly predicated on how much time you spend transmitting.

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Baofeng UV-5RA Radioshop888 12vDC vehicle adapter♦  Radioshop888 12vDC charger cradle adapter. Radioshop888 12vDC charger adapter you now have the ability to recharge your batteries from any 12vDC source. Examples would be; vehicle cigarette receptacle, solar charger unit, portable power pack, etc.

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Military surplus flashbang grenade pouch used to carry a Motorola Family Radio♦  Flashbang Radio Pouch. The radio pouch is a really convenient way carry the Boafeng UV-5RA radio. It is a perfect fit and the pouch’s flap provides additional protection from rain. You won’t accidentally drop or lose your radio while it is secured in the pouch. The pouch is MOLLE II compatible and the same attachment can be used to secure it to your belt as well.

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RTsystems3♦  RT Systems Software Programming CD with cable. to be used effectively it also requires the ability for you to program the radio. Programming is accomplished either manually through the keyboard or via a laptop computer/software. I far prefer the computer method, but it does require software.

.Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5R

♦  Tram 1185 Vehicle magnetic mount dual-band antenna. The Tram antenna is the solution for radio operation in a vehicle. Even with the ExpertPower 14.5” Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5R antenna on car roofantenna on the radio, the reception and transmission capabilities of a handheld radio are greatly diminished due to the vehicles metal body. Getting the antenna outside of the vehicle’s body makes a huge difference. And the vehicle’s roof is also usually higher than a normal person holds a radio so you get the increased antenna height as well.

♦  MPD Digital antenna adapter cable. The Tram antenna mentioned above comes with a cable that is long enough to reach inside the vehicle but you need to connect that cable to the radio. That takes a special adapter cable to connect the antenna cable to the RF coaxial cable SMA female to UHF SO239 PL259 female RG58 radio itself. There are other cables out there, some less expensive. But I like the MPD Digital cable (RF coaxial cable SMA female to UHF SO239 PL259 female RG58 20 inches). They are well-built, quality materials, and made in the USA.

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♦  Tenq vehicle battery replacement adapter. Tenq® Baofeng Vps-001 Vehicle Power Supply Dual Band Car Battery Eliminator Simulator for BaofengThe Tenq power supply unit is a very handy piece of equipment. This option allows you to run the radio directly off of a 12vDC power supply. You remove the rechargeable battery from the radio, slide this unit into the radio where the battery normally goes. Then connect to a 12vDC power source via a cigarette adaptor and you are up and running. This type of operation would be very convenient for vehicle operations or while using the radio as part of the mini communications center.”

Cigarette Lighter Auto Socket Duplicator♦  Vehcile “4-to-1” cigarette adapter multiplier.

  • Plugs into car cigarette lighter! 1-into-4 12V DC auto adapter, charge all four team radio batteries at cone.
  • Includes adapter plug, 50″ cord.
  • One USB port with 5 Volt/ 1 Amp output to charge USB compatible devices.
  • Built in fuse for circuit protection.

♦  Vaultz Secure Roller Case. Baofeng radio cahce Vaultz Secure Roller Case radio cache

  • Highly mobile, with wheels and telescoping handle.
  • High-capacity locking chest.Vaultz Secure Roller Case radio cache
  • Double combination locks.
  • Rubber feet prevent skidding and surface scuffing.
  • Handles on the sides make carrying easy.
  • Large flat top is great for a working surface.

baofeng UV-5RA Radio CacheThis radio cache meets the needs of our emergency responders whether it is a small emergency or major disaster. And when a “grid-down” event occurs…we will be ready and able to communicate!

Now, let your thinking begin…design a radio cache that is right for you and your group.

 

 

 

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Cross-Band Radio Repeater – Part #2

cross-band repeaternote: first appeared in early 2015

I really saw a need for “repeater” capability when a bunch of individuals got together and all they had was handheld radios.  Distance and Line-of-sight always limited their usefulness.  And when it came to responding to a disaster or emergency situation handheld radios are virtually essential.  But once again, they have limited transmit and receive capability.

When I stumbled upon the Baofeng UV-5R handheld radios <click for more info> a few years ago I knew I had in my hands an invaluable resource for “preparedness”, especially after “grid-down.”  I cannot stress enough what the ability to communicate will mean then or even during less dramatic disaster situations, or even while hunting or camping.  I was aware of “repeater” technology through my government day-job but it was appeared to expensive and complicated.

When I first got my Ham radio license I began my search for the best all-purpose radio that my budget could afford.  That took me to decide the Yaesu FT-8900R <click for more info> was it.  Once I dug into it I realized how easy it was to set it up for cross-band repeater operation, I knew I had the answer in my hands.  However, I decided a used Yaesu FT-8800R was a more economical solution for setting up a field-going repeater.  And that led me to this “build” and documenting it for you in this article.

In Part #1 I covered the first five steps, in this post I will conclude the build and summarize my experience at the end.

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.

Finished Product – Complete with the Yaesu mounted inside.

 

Step #6 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.I am installing the remote head separate from the radio body.  This is to allow the rear of the radio unit to be accessed from the front of the box.  And it allows the radio to run a bit cooler since the head is separate from the body.  To get the remote head installation bracket properly installed I used a piece of 2″ aluminum angle to give the bracket a solid mounting surface.  All mounting bolts utilized star washers to prevent the nuts from inadvertently spinning off. The remote head is mounted as “dedicated” for the repeater and will not be removed for any other usage needs.

Step #7 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.This was the easiest of all brackets to mount.  My only concern here was mounting the microphone bracket where the microphone would easy to grab while keeping it out of the way of the rest of the box contents, including the wiring.

 

Step #8 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.Last came putting it all together as a complete ready-to-go repeater package.  Couple notes:

  1. I had double fuses in the box.  The power cable coming in had a fuse on the positive and negative.  Then the power (+) cable to the radio had a fuse as well.
  2. Notice the short antenna coax jumper cable from the “through-the-box” double male 239 to the rear of the radio.  I used an 18″, I could have used a 12″.  Using an 18″ would enable me to remove the radio unit and set it on top of the box for troubleshooting or any other reason.
  3. I built my own remote head cable since all the commercially built cables were really long.  I didn’t want all that cable coiled up in the box so I built my own 6-wire.
  4. All my wire connections are Anderson PowerPole.  I use them for everything and doing so here ensured compatibility now and in the future whatever change might come…including repairs if needed.
General Question & Answers (questions from folks that have seen the repeater) –RadioAntennaCar
  1. Can a magnetic mount external vehicle dual-band antenna be used with this repeater?  Yes.  Since the antenna connection on the exterior of the box is a standard 239, basically any antenna can be used with this unit.  I slapped a Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna directly to the metal box and it worked just fine. It gave the repeater a very low profile and hard to spot.
  2. What antenna do you use with this unit?  I built a highly portable antenna for use with this unit whether using it as a repeaters or as a base unit.  I built it to blend in with the desert surroundings here in the desert southwest.  I will post an article about that soon.  But any dual-band antenna will work.  The heart of the antenna was a J-pole designed by Dr. Ed Fong WB6IQN of UC Berkeley, featured in the Feb. 2003 issue of QST.
  3. What do you use to power this unit?  I built it to work with the 12v 105 amp hour Energizer AGM gel battery I purchased through Sam’s Club. I expect the radio would operate about 1 – 2 days without the need for charging. I have two 30w solar panels with a charging unit to hook up to the battery.  A GoalZero charger controller handles regulating the battery charging.  I can run the unit with my Honda EU2000i if need be.
  4. You mentioned “base station”, explain?  If I am not needing a repeater, I can use this unit as a base station. I just leave the lid off and place the box where I don’t have to lay on the ground to use it.  It has everything needed to be able to operate it just fine as a base station.
  5. Do you set it on the ground to use?  No, not really.  I would set it on rocks to get it up off the ground.  I am working on a lightweight aluminum stand with folding legs to keep it about 6″ off the ground.
  6. What water-proofing have you done to the box?  Not much.  The box itself is extremely sturdy and the lid has a rubber seal.  All the screw/bolt heads that protrude on the exterior of the box have all have silicone seal on them.  The vent holes are the weak-link; fan and intake.  Not much I can do about that except maybe place a cover over the box that would act like a roof.  I might consider that when building the stand for it.

If you love your handhelds for ease of use, you will love this repeater to extend the range of your beloved handhelds.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Cross-Band Radio Repeater – Part #1

cross-ban repeaternote: first appeared in early 2015

In my day job I use often radios over very long distances.  To accomplish this the government has installed a series of repeaters in various locations around our six county area.  Repeaters make it possible for me to talk to folks hundreds of miles away as if they were sitting around the corner.  I wanted that same capability for any disaster or “grid-down” situation that I might have to personally deal with.  That led me on the journey to come up with my own repeater capable of operating in the field for long periods of time in rough conditions.  Here is that story…

Mission –

Provide the ability of handheld and mobile radios to communicate when line-of-sight was not possible.  Provide a dual band Ham radio unit that was field-going and sturdy/rugged to use when a repeater was not required.

Requirements & Limitations –
  1. Must be capable of repeater operation on 2m and 70cm bands.
  2. Must be a rugged, sturdy radio capable of operating in the field.
  3. Must use 12vDC power.
  4. Must be very conservative on power usage.
  5. Should be easy to program, set-up and use.

Radio of choice – Yaesu FT-8800R (to read more about the radio read the 2-part article posted 3 days ago.).

Box of choice – Army Surplus 40mm ammo box in good shape, seal intact.

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.

Finished Product – Complete with the Yaesu Radio mounted inside.

Notes before staring – I laid out the box contents first.  I kept moving them around until I had what I thought was the perfect location for each component.  I then used a felt-tipped pen to mark the location of mounting screws.  I did this to make sure that all the holes I had to drill made sense in relation to the box itself.

Step #1 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.I drilled a hole for the double-male 239 connector to fit in and pass through the box.  This gets the antenna lead from the radio to the outside of the box while making sure the seal stays “burr-free” and actually water tight.  The hole was slightly larger than the 239 barrel diameter.  The rubber grommet was purchased at Lowes.  I won’t put in the sizes of drilled hole, grommet, etc. since your 239 double-male barrel may be a different configuration or size than the one I used.  Take the 239 to Lowes and buy the right size grommet by trying it out right there in the store.  Then you will know the size of hole to drill based on the size of the grommet based on the exact pass-through you are using..

Same thing for the power leads, buy the smallest possible grommet to get the wires through, then drill the appropriate sized hole based on the grommet size.  I wasn’t trying to make it water tight, just “tight enough” to keep dust and rain out.  If I ever make the repeater a semi-permanent installation I will slather silicone seal all over the outside of the grommets.  Based on the “finished product” picture above, I drilled the holes on the back-upper-right-top corner.  It will be approximately the same height as the ventilation holes from the ground when the box is laying on its side for operations.  I drilled the holes from the outside towards the inside to make it easier with the drilling.

Step #2 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.I wanted to move some “cooling” air around in the box to keep the radio as cool as possible.  The radio itself has a cooling fan on the rear of the radio integrated with a heat-sink.  But I wanted to move air around and through the box itself to keep the operating temperature as low as possible.  Just in case the radio fan couldn’t handle sufficient air movement on its own, I wanted to give it a little help.  The fan is to draw air out of the box by drawing air from the outside through the three ventilation holes.Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.

The fan is a 12vDC fan for computers that I found on Amazon.  I chose this particular fan based on the large intake area of the fan and the “flatness” of its construction.  The fan sits over the radio but to the rear of the box in relation to the radio’s built in heat-sink and fan.  In the event that the fan stops working I was trying to leverage the flow of air coming off the radio unimpeded.  So I drilled the three ventilation holes above the radio’s heat sink just in case.  I was thinking that natural air flow might move the hotter air out through the holes should the fan stop working.

I cut appropriate sized hole in the upper rear corner of the ammo can to match the outlet of the cooling fan. It required a square hole, so I drilled the center, cleaned it up with a saber saw, then finished it off with a flat diamond file.  Then I used another grommet on the squared-off hole before mounting the fan.  I wanted some cushion between the fan and the box to minimize any potential problem from vibration.  If you wanted to reverse the airflow to blow cooler outside air onto the radio heat sink you can reverse the power wires of the fan and it reverses the fan rotation.

Next I drilled the holes for the two screws that holds the cooling fan housing in-place.  But I did a trial run to ensure I knew exactly where the fan housing had to be placed to match up with the square hole for the fan’s square outlet/inlet.  Notice that I used a couple of rubber grommet again on the screws securing the fan housing.  But this time I didn’t worry about putting the grommets into the holes.  I used them as a “stand-off” to properly align the fan housing and absorb vibration from the fan.  But the grommets sealed the holes anyways due to the compression from tightening them.

Step #3 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.I am concerned about moving air through the box so the radio doesn’t overheat.  But I also don’t want to run down the 12vDC battery that will be powering this repeater either. So I decided to install this temperature controlled rheostat to drive the fan. Since I am using DC to power the unit, the rheostat controller will continually pass on some minimal current to the fan.  So the fan will always be turning a little bit.  However, if the temperature is within the operating limits of the radio I don’t need the fan spinning like crazy, moving hurricane force winds through the box and eating up precious ampere hours from the battery.  So the rheostat will pass on more current as the heat rises and the fan will then spin faster.  Result – the fan doesn’t use any more juice than is needed conserving precious power for actual radio operations.  But as the temperature rises the fan spins faster pulling the hotter air out of the box through the ventilation holes located above the radio heat-sink.

I mounted the controller board close to the fan towards the rear of the box.  A picture a little later in the article will show its position.

To find the rheostat I did my search on Amazon for this little electronic beauty.  But what I noticed is these electronic parts come and go pretty quickly (i.e. what is available today may not be available next month).  So I am not quoting a specific part number of even manufacturer.  Just get online and search for a 12vDC temperature controlled rheostat, there will be plenty out there for you to choose from.  Or contact your favorite electronics site and they can direct you from there.

Step #4 – 

Picture of ventilation holes with metal mesh screening to keep little critters out.

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.Next I installed the radio housing bracket on the radio unit and placed it in the box towards the left side of the box.  Don’t crowd the cooling fan and keep the radio as far to the left in the box as possible.  Don’t forget that you will have several sets of wires (antenna & power) coming out of the backside of the radio unit so don’t crowd the front of the box either.  Using a felt-tipped pen mark the holes for the mounting bracket.  Then placing the lid into position mark the center of each ventilation hole; they should be directly in front of and above the radio’s heat-sink and fan.  Drill the holes for ventilation and the mounting bracket.

To pull in fresh (hopefully cooler air) that will pass over the radio’s heat sink then out of the box via the cooling fan, I placed three 7/8″ holes in the box lid above the radio’s heat-sink but on the “side” of the box, not the top.  This would pull air over the radio’s heat-sink across the top of the inside of the box drawing the warmer air outside via the fan.  Should the box’s cooling fan fail, the radio’s own cooling fan should pull air into the ventilation holes from the outside, or push it out, not sure which.  This may create a “positive-pressure” environment inside the box which in-turn moves air naturally out of the box’s cooling fan hole.

To reduce the derbies that might come in the box that I don’t want in there (i.e. dirt, sand, leaves, critters, etc.), I placed a metal screen mesh over the holes. Making a rough calculation on the reduction of air volume due to the screen material I decided on the three entrance holes in relation to the cooling powered exit hole. I might have to drill another hole, maybe two, but I thought this was a good guesstimate. I drilled them 7/8″ to give me enough room to secure the screen to the lid on the inside. I used a metal-to-metal glue to attach the screen material to the box lid.

I may put a thin layer of cotton gauze over the holes in addition to the screening to reduce the amount of fine dirt/sand that can enter the unit.  However, I would drill more holes if I did that to off-set the reduction in airflow from the gauze.

Step #5 –

Yaesu FT-8800r based cross-band repeater.Next comes installing all the various brackets for the radio components itself. First up was the radio housing bracket.  In Step #4 I talked about mounting the radio so the radio’s heat-sink was located next to the ventilation holes in the box’s lid.  This allows for cooling air movement even if the cooling fan fails.  But it leverages the cooling fan’s movement of air when all is functioning normally.

For practicality it is also very convenient to mount the radio with the rear of the radio exposed for access to the antenna, power, and programming ports.  Yes, this means you are doing a “remote head” installation.  And in my opinion works out well as an added bonus.  The radio’s control head is disconnected from the radio and that adds to keeping it just a bit cooler.

Go ahead and take the radio housing bracket off the radio and screw it to the box.

In the next part we will finish up the build.

 

 

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ESEE-3 Knife

ESEE-3note: first appeared October 2015

There are times when you know you have a quality knife in your hands. The ESEE-3 is one of those knives…there is absolutely no doubt about it.

I previously reviewed the ESEE-6 (8/4/2019) and found it to be an amazing knife. The ESEE-3 is no less a knife, it is amazing. You pick up the knife and it immediately “feels” right in your hand. The balance is perfect, the handle is sized right, it just fits.

The 1095 carbon steel is amazingly hard and maintains an edge really well. And just as importantly it takes an edge just as easily. I use a diamond stone and found it to be really easy to touch up a razor sharp edge to the knife. The blade is a full-tang and has a zero tolerance in mating with the handle material. It is matched perfectly to the handle.

Let me backtrack for just a minute. The mission for this knife was compact survival knife that could be easily carried in my “Go Bag”. I wanted a knife that could handle the rigors of a survival situation. And finally, I wanted a self-defense knife that could be easily concealed but yet effective in providing close-in self-defense.

The knife truly excels in being a survival knife, easily concealed, and obviously completely capable of withstanding the rough environment of survival. During testing I pounded on my ESEE knife to split wood. The outcome was just fine!

However, admittedly it is a little weak in the area of self-defense. Ironically, the same traits that make it a great survival knife also limit it from excelling as a self-defense knife. It takes a lot of pressure to push that knife blade directly into meat. Slashing/cutting into meat is not a problem.

Let me touch on a few technical specifications first…

  • Overall Length: 8.31″ (Standard Model)
  • Overall Length: 8.19″ (Modified Pommel)
  • Cutting Edge Length: 3.38″
  • Overall Blade Length: 3.88″
  • Maximum Thickness: .125″
  • 1095 Carbon Steel, 55 – 57 Rc.
  • Weight: 5.2 Ounces (Knife Only)
  • Weight: 9.3 Ounces (Knife w/ Sheath)
  • Sheath: MoldedESEE-3 models

There are different models to the ESEE-3…

  • ESEE-3P (Plain Edge, Black Blade)
  • ESEE-3S (Partially Serrated, Black Blade)
  • ESEE-3PM (Plain Edge, Black Blade, Rounded Pommel)
  • ESEE-3SM (Partially Serrated, Black Blade, Rounded Pommel)

Let me make this perfectly clear…BUY THE KNIFE !

OK, that being cleared up let me address the survival vs. defense comment earlier. To qualify as a great survival knife you want a thick, heavy, sturdy blade. A self-defense knife warrants a razor sharp edged knife that can also penetrate easily. That style blade not be compatible with survival demands.

However, the ESEE-3 does perform adequately when employed as a self-defense knife other than easy ESEE-3penetration into meat. While it might not penetrate as well as a RAT Headhunter, it will get the job done. But the overwhelming quality of its survival traits dwarf any self-defense limitations.

Now here is a bonus…my wife loves her ESEE-3!

When we were looking for our camping/survival knives she liked my ESEE-6 but felt it was too large and too heavy for her. She wanted something more “lady-like” to use. Well OK then! If my wife wants a knife, she gets a knife!

Yup, I am a blessed man!

This is near a perfect piece of gear/equipment as you are going to find in the prepper world. They are not expensive compared to other quality knives. But then again, what is your family’s life worth?

That means spend the money and get this quality knife, you will be glad you did!

ESEE 3 knife

 

 

2009 - 2019 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-8800R Ham Radio : Storing and Case

Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radioIn this post I will go over how I store my 8800R and what I store with it.

In two previous articles I went over the Yaesu FT-8800R radio and accessories. Both articles are worth the read.

So let’s go over my standard format, what is the mission for all of this?

 

Mission –

To safely store the radio and all components with which to operate the radio.

Requirements & Restrictions –
  1. Cases must be sturdy, at least to military specifications.
  2. Cases musty protect against dust, dirt, and water impingement.
  3. Cases should protect the contents against damage due to reasonable heights and rough handling.
  4. Cases should be low profile and not draw attention to them.
  5. Case should be light enough for one person to easily carry.

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C.The case I chose was the SKB i-series 3I-1711–68-C. These cases are waterproof and as sturdy, if not more so, that Pelican cases. And they are cheaper that Pelican cases. They come with “cubed” foam ready to be cut to size for your equipment.

 

 

SKB iSeries hard case for a yaesu ft-8800r

 

So this is what my case looks like for my Yaesu FT-8800R.  The case is clearly labeled for easy identification.

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C for the Yaesu FT-8900RYaesu FT-8800R Radio Case –

Bottom Level:

  • 1 x Power supply, AC, 19amp
  • 1 x Mounting bracket, radio
  • 1 x Microphone, MH-48
  • 1 x Radio, Yaesu FT-8800R

 

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C for the Yaesu FT-8900RMiddle Level:

  • 1 x Power cord, AC

 

 

 

 

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C for the Yaesu FT-8900RTop Level:

  • 1 x 5′ Power extension cable, Anderson Power Poles on both ends
  • 3 x packages various mounting screws.
  • 1 x Mounting bracket, remote head
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming CD
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming cable
  • 1 x Power cable, Anderson Power Poles to hard soldier connection (AC power supply)
  • 1 x Cable, radio head to radio body
  • 2 x Fuses, 15amp

On top of the radio I place a 8800 user’s manual in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag with the latest copy of the US Amateur Radio Bands chart.

I have given you a list of the equipment needed to run the Yaesu FT-8800R Ham radio. Is it everything you might need?  This was meant strictly for the radio equipment itself and the essential equipment to get it going.

Take this list and use it as a starting point for your specific need and mission.

 

 

 

 

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without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-8800R Mobile Ham Radio – Part #2

Yaesu FT-8900r Quad-Band Ham RadioAs mentioned in Part #1 of this series, I really love this mobile unit!  The Yaesu FT-8800r is an amazing piece of Ham radio technology wrapped up in a very compact and sturdy package.  It is perfect for the “repeaters” part of its mission.  This thing does it all and matches my mission requirements and then it exceeded my expectations.

In the last post I covered the specifics of the Yaesu FT-8800R itself.  In this post I will go over the accessories, installation info and some other tidbits.

 

RadioAntennaCarVehicle external antenna for temporary dual band (2m & 70cm) operations : This antenna is a must have for temporary vehicle operations.  It is not a permanent antenna, it is a magnetic mount antenna.  You can move the antenna to other vehicles if needed.  You can also use it in a non-vehicle setting as well by placing the antenna higher than the radio would normally be located. Great option where portability is needed and only dual-band operations are needed. It is also a great option for an antenna when using a repeaters.

 

Browning BR-180 Amateur Dual-Band Mobile Antenna Vehicle permanent (or semi-permanent) mount external antenna : The Browning BR-180 Amateur Dual Band Mobile Antenna

The BR-180 is 37″ tall and has .4dB gain. Engineered for NMO mounting, this antenna has improved clarity and signal reception. This Browning antenna uses a center load.  Sturdy construction, enough flex in the antenna itself, and normally SWR of 1.5 or below right out of the box.
Specifics –

  •     37″ tall
  •     Frequency: 144-148 MHz/430-450MHz
  •     2.4dB gain UHF
  •     5.5 dB gain VHF mobile antenna
  •     NMO mounting (mount sold separately)
  •     Center load
  •     One Year WarrantyNOTE: Do NOT try a mag mount with this antenna.  It is not intended to be used as such.  The NMO mount is the way to go for a dependable mount to your vehicle.

Yaesu MLS100 external speakerExternal Speaker :  I had to go with a Yaesu MLS-100.  You can buy other speakers but I like the idea of a speaker that is matched to the radio by the manufacturer. The Yaesu Vertex MLS-100 external loudspeaker is a high performance communications speaker matching the impedance and output requirements of most Yaesu transceivers. It mounts on a swivel stand that is supplied along with mounting screws and bolts. A 6.5 foot (2m) audio cable that terminates in a 3.5 mm mono mini plug is also supplied. Black plastic cased speaker and black metal mount. Impedance is 4 ohms and the maximum power input is 12 watts. Yes, the FT-8900r has an internal speaker, but for vehicle operations and the associated noise I think an external speaker is really needed.  Dimensions: Height: 3.75 in., Width: 5.5 in., Depth 1.75 in.

Heil Sound - PMS-6 & Headset Adapter for YaesuHeadset with Boom Mic :  Heil Sound – PMS-6 & Headset Adapter.  Why?  Because I believe that there are times when you want, or need, more privacy or the ability to hear/speak under adverse conditions.  A headset with boom mic is the right answer.  The Pro Micro Single Side is a very unique high performance single sided headset.  This headset is outfitted with the HC-6 element and is designed for commercial broadcast applications, the -3dB points are fixed at 100 Hz and 12 kHz with sensitivity of -57 dB at 600 ohms output impedance (centered at 1 kHz.).  The microphone audio for the Pro Micro series terminates into a 1/8” male plug while the head phone terminates into a 1/8” stereo with adaptor. To adjust the headset simply bend the stainless steel piece that is inside the black padded headband.

Mic Gain
Adjust the mic gain while watching the ALC meter. Adjust so that the audio peaks just fill out the ALC scale and do not go beyond the ALC scale.

Speaker
The 706 speaker works all the time. To turn that off simply plug an empty 1/8” plug into the front headphone jack.

Vox  (voice activated transmission)
Set the Vox gain controls for proper activation.

Carrier Balance
If your rig has carrier balance it acts as a type of mic tone control. It is best to listen to yourself in another receiver as you transmit into a dummy load. You are actually moving the carrier + or – 200 Hz above or below the center of the filter network, which causes your microphone audio to change its tonal quality.  The use of the AD-1 series mic adapters allow simple interface with popular transceiver inputs. The adapter is 6” long and has a 1/8” female input jack for the boomset microphone and a 1/4” female that is for the PTT (push to talk) line for the Heil foot switch or hand switch. The 1/4” stereo plug goes into the headphone jack on the transceiver front panel.  All Heil Pro Micro Boomsets are shipped with foam windscreen that fits over the microphone. The windscreen does not change the frequency response, just the breath blasts directly into the microphone.

RT Systems FT-8800r programming softwareProgramming Software w/cable :  RT Systems FT-8800r Radio Software.  While the radio is fully programmable from the front panel that is not the way you want to try and program this radio. I tried several different “free” programming software program; had problems with all of them.  RT Systems puts out a superb product that can’t be beat in my opinion. FYI – You can use the files from any of the RT Systems software to transfer to any other radio that you are programming.  So I can use all programming I did for my FT-60r or Yaesu FT-8900r for my Yaesu 8800 radio with a simple click of a software button.

NOTE: I will be posting programming files for different parts of the country as well as different repeater systems.

MFJ-4230MV COMPACT SWITCHAC Power Supply : MFJ Enterprises Inc. MFJ-4230MV COMPACT SWITCH (COMPACT SWITCH PS, METER, 4-16V ADJ. 110/220VAC).  This is a great AC power transformer, high quality and very reliable.

This is the world’s most compact switching power supply that also has a meter and adjustable voltage control. Just 5″ W x 2 ½” H x 6″ D, it weighs only 3 lbs. — it is the perfect pack-n-go power supply for field day, DXpeditions, camping, hiking or to pack for your next business trip or vacation to some far away place. MFJ-4230MV gives you 25 Amps continuously or 30 Amps surge at 13.8 VDC. The voltage is front-panel adjustable from 4 to 16 Volts. MFJ-4230MV also has a selectable input voltage: choose from 120 or 240 VAC at 47 – 63 Hz.

A simple front-panel push-button switch lets you choose either Ampmeter or Voltmeter — allows you to select Amps or Volts as you wish to read them. MFJ-4230MV has an excellent 75% efficiency and extra low ripple and noise, < 100 mV. Awhisper-quiet fan cools by convection and forced air cooling. Normal air-flow around the power supply is continuous and a heat sensor increases the fan speed when the temperature rises above 70 degrees Celsius. DC output is five way binding posts on the back of the MFJ-4230MV so you can power your dedicated HF, VHF or UHF transceiver with ease.

Charge Guard CG-MP

TIP – Battery protection when installed in a vehicle :  I also use Charge Guard CG-MP timer for my truck’s power installation.  This ensures that I won’t inadvertently run my battery dead using my Ham radio without the engine running.  Well worth the $’s.

 

 

Anderson Power PolesTIP – Power connectors :  I use Anderson Power Poles for all my power connections.  This makes hooking up my power “brainless” and quick.  Plus it gives me the added advantage of using power cables, fuses, etc. for more than one radio.  Basically allows for flexibility.  I chose Anderson Power Poles because there are essentially the standard for Ham radio operators.

 

Next article that shows up in less than an hour show how I store and transport the radio.

 

 

 

2009 - 2019 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-8800R Mobile Ham Radio – Part #1

Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radioAnyone who has been in the Ham radio arena for 30 minutes or more knows the quality associated with the name Yaesu. The company has been putting out a high quality product for a very long time.  The FT-8800R is no exception. This was the second mobile radio I purchased and I am extremely glad I did.

I will go through my standard outline of reviewing this radio based on its designated mission and requirements.  Let’s get started…

 

Mission –

Provide reliable clear communications over two specific Ham frequency bands (2m & 70cm) bands for both  emergency/disaster/”grid-down” situation.  To use as the base unit for a cross-band repeater that is compatible with the Yaesu FT-60r and Baofeng UV5r dual-band handheld radios.

Requirements & Limitations –
  1. Must be sturdy, reliable and able to function in harsh environments; including in a off-road truck or as part of a remote location repeater system.
  2. Must be able to run on 12vDC power.
  3. Must have an internal speaker.
  4. Must be easily computer programmable.
  5. Should have a a large number of memory channels (at least 200).
  6. Should move easily from home to vehicle to repeaters system without undue effort.
The Good & Less Good

The Yaesu FT-8800R dual bander operates on 2 meters and 70 centimeters. High power output is featured with 50 watts on 2 meters and 35 watts on 430 MHz. It is like having two radios in one with dedicated Volume and Squelch controls on each side. And that is one of the, if not “the”, best aspect of this radio…you can easily and clearly monitor two frequencies or bands at once as individual radios.  I really can’t say much more about the really good aspects of this radio…it is darn near perfect!

There are some minor, very minor, drawbacks:
  • The buttons are not backlit.  I actually like this for OpSec purposes but for daily use it is a little irritating. When used as part of a repeater unit it really saves valuable battery power.
  • The internal speaker is usable but that s about it.  The quality is acceptable but much better with an external speaker.
  • You really need a computer and software to program this radio.  There are many features and trying to program them, or the frequencies, is more than difficult for me without the software.
The Details – Yaesu Dualband Amateur Ham Radio FT-8800R:Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radio
  • Built in features include: duplexer and CTCSS/DCS Encode/Decode.
  • Over 1000 memories are available. It is WiRES compatible.
  • Full twin Band w/ cross band repeater mode.
  • Features seperate volume & squelch controls, lighted mike, remote mountable faceplate.
  • Hasd ctcss/dcs, Alphanumeric display, 1000ch memories, scan modes.
  • Receives 108-520Mhz & 700-999Mhz (except cellular).
  • Transmits 2 meter band 144-148Mhz & 70cm band 430-450Mhz.
  • ARTS system, detachable Faceplate, cross-band repeat & more!
  • Requires regulated 12-13.8Vdc at 14 Amps or greater for power.Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radio
  • Receives 108-520Mhz & 700-999Mhz (except cellular).
  • Transmits 2 meter band 144-148Mhz & 70cm band 430-450Mhz.
  • ARTS system, detachable Faceplate, cross-band repeat & more!
  • Requires regulated 12-13.8Vdc at 14 Amps or greater for power.
  • Wide Frequency Coverage
  • Independent Two-Channel Operation
  • High Power Output
  • Over 1000 Memory Channels
  • Large, Easy-to-Read Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
  • Cross-Band Repeat Capability
  • One-Touch Band-Pattern
  • 50-Tone CTCSS/104-Tone DCS (Digital Code Squelch) Tone Systems
  • User-Programmable Microphone Keys
  • Convenient Remote-Head Mounting Capability

Wide Frequency Coverage

The FT-8800R provides extended receiver coverage beyond the Amateur bands, so you can keep informed of communication activities in the public safety, commercial, aircraft, and government communications ranges.

Independent Two-Channel Operation

The FT-8800R operates as two radios in one, with either 144 MHz or 430 MHz as the “Main” TX/RX band, while simultaneously monitoring the other band. Each band has its own Volume and Squelch controls. And, if you like, you can configure your FT-8800R for VHF-VHF or UHF-UHF operation, too!

High Power Output

To get your message through when it counts, the FT-8800R puts out a full 50 Watts of power on the 144 MHz band, and 35 Watts on 430 MHz. A thermal sensor monitors heat sink temperature, engaging the rear panel’s cooling fan only when needed.

Over 1000 Memory Channels

The FT-8800R provides a wide variety of memory resources, including 512 “regular” memories on each band, five “Home” channels for favorite frequencies, ten sets of band-edge memories on each band, and six “Hyper Memories” that store complete sets of transceiver operating status configuration.Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radio

Large, Easy-to-Read Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

Affording easy viewing from a wide range of viewing angles, the LCD of the FT-8800R features Yaesu’s renowned Omni-Glow™ display illumination, with four illumination levels available for different environments. You’ll marvel at the crystal-clear frequency display and status indicators, whether you’re operating night or day!

Cross-Band Repeat Capability

For emergency work, or to extend the range of a hand-held unit, the FT-8800R includes Cross-Band Repeat capability, similar to that pioneered on our popular FT-8100R Dual Band FM Mobile!

One-Touch Band-Pattern

To save valuable time while operating a transceiver with the capability of the FT-8800R, the “Hyper Memory” feature allows you to store a complete set of configuration data for the two bands on which you’re operating. Besides the usual storage of frequency and tone data, Hyper Memory will store such setup parameters as Automatic Repeater Shift status, Packet parameters, Scanning mode, and VFO tracking configuration.

50-Tone CTCSS/104-Tone DCS (Digital Code Squelch) Tone Systems

Providing excellent performance even under difficult link conditions, Yaesu’s 50-tone sub-audible CTCSS and 104-tone DCS signaling systems ensure that you have full access to repeater and remote-base inputs, and the built-in CTCSS/DCS decoders allow silent listening on busy channels. Plus you get Tone Search Scanning, which will scan for the tone being received on an incoming signal, allowing you to match tones quickly when operating on a new repeater system.

User-Programmable Microphone Keys

Four programmable keys on the microphone allow you one-touch access to your favorite command functions. The commands available from the microphone replicate the corresponding front panel key functions, and include Band Change, VFO/Memory switching, Home Channel access, 1 MHz frequency steps, Power Output selection, Repeater Reverse, and CTCSS/DCS setup. Customize your microphone for your personal operating style!Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radio

Yaesu FT- 8800R ham radioConvenient Remote-Head Mounting Capability

With the FT-8800R and its optional YSK-8900 Separation Kit, mounting your radio is a breeze even in the tightest locations. The YSK-8900 includes a 20-foot (6 m) remote cable and mounting bracket for the front panel.

Coming in Part #2 in about 30 minutes…See more of this radio review and accessories that make it even better; a few tips on installation and antennas, plus software to program it.

I will also be posting an article where I talk about building my remote location cross-band repeater. That article should appear in about 3 days.

 

This is a “BUY!”

 

 

2009 - 2019 Copyright © AHTrimble.com ~ All rights reserved
No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.