Our Glamstead Solar System

Here we go…I was asked to supply the info and diagram of our solar system. I hope this can be of use to folks who are thinking about going off-grid or grid-tied.

After working through the numbers I felt a 4kw – 5kw inverter would handle our needs. Yeah, I maybe didn’t get it right…thought it would meet our needs.

Later I thought about adding electric baseboard heaters…right after I figured out we needed air conditioning. So be careful on how you calculate your electric needs…then add 40 – 50%.

So here are “jpgs” for each part…

Here is the link for a PDF file of the whole thing…

< click here for Glamstead Solar Sytem PDF file >



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TIP: Prepping for Electrical Issues

This is actually a sub-article to a larger project article and it includes some items from previous articles. However, I think there is a solid case for writing this article as a stand-alone. Wow…mouthful of word salad!

So there I was…time to finally upgrade my water well system to a solar pump water well system. You can read more about it here <click here to read about it>. It came time to do my wire splicing…and that is where this article came from.

During an emergency, disaster, or grid-down event you may find yourself having to do some electrical work. And if you find yourself having to do some splicing it would be nice to have the needed supplies on hand. Here are a couple of things that I feel could be invaluable in those situations.

Let’s start with the basics…Electrical Tape –

Not all electrical tape is created equal. And let’s start this off with a general statement…you get what you pay for. That means I buy Scotch brand electrical tape, or private label electrical tape made by Scotch. I don’t buy the knock-offs or the cheap stuff. Why? Because I am entrusting personal safety and/or my house and/or my equipment to this electrical tape…I don’t want cheap-junk vs expensive-quality. Nice thing is…the quality stuff isn’t really that much more expensive.

I keep three basic types of electrical tape on hand; 1) Scotch 700, 2) Scotch 2242, 3) Ace 30986.

Scotch 700: A high quality, vinyl insulating tape. Resists a wide range of chemicals and abrasive materials. Can be used indoor/outdoor and even below ground. And a roll has about 66’ on it. It is good down to about 15 degrees or so. Pretty much a general purpose electrical tape that I would use where the tape is not exposed directly to the weather and not exposed to moisture…so basically dry indoors. Don’t over stretch this tape when using.


Scotch 2242: A high quality general purpose rubber tape. Used correctly it provides an immediate moisture resistant seal as well as insulation. This is a great weather resistant electrical tape. Stretching doesn’t really affect this tape. Since it is made out of rubber it is pretty dang resistant to abrasion. It is good down to about 0 degrees. A bit more expensive and only 15’ on the roll. This what I would use when the job was exposed to the weather or on my equipment (i.e. tractor) used outside.


Ace 30986: Self-fusing, water-tight, rubber based electrical tape. It seals based on a rubber resin, “vulcanized” as my electrician buddy explained it to me. It is pricey but well worth the money when a water-tight seal is needed. This is the tape I used to protect the splices on my well pump installation. Yes, that means the splice was submerged in water…and will be for years to come. I used multiple layers, medium stretch, pressed together hard.


I also keep two types of Gardner Bender Liquid Tape on hand; 1) the brush on variety, 2) spray on version.

Brush on version (GB LTB-400): It’s a rubber based brush on electrical sealant. It can be sued indoors/outdoors and creates a waterproof seal when used correctly. It’s also very UV resistant which is nice here in Arizona. It is resistant to chemicals, solvents, and saltwater. It is dry in 5 minutes, fully cured in 24 hours. Can be used in harsh temperature conditions…30 degrees below zero to 200 degrees above zero. And it stays pretty dang flexible. I like it when I use butt connectors and want to make a water tight seal around them.  If I wanted a really good, virtually fool-proof water tight seal I would use the Ace 30986, then use two coats of GB LTB-400 allowing 24 hours between coats. First coat of GB LTB-400 would overlap the Ace 30986 tape ends. Then the second coat of GB LTB-400 would overlap the first coat of GB LTB-400. WARNING: don’t think an opened container of the GB LTB-400 will be acceptable for storing! Once opened it tends to dry out. Store a brand new, unopened container.

Spray on version (GB LTS-400): This is kinda like the brush on version, but not entirely. This stuff is vinyl based vs rubber based and is much thinner obviously since it is sprayed on. Yes, you can spray on multiple coats to build up the thickness. It dries quickly (5 minutes) and is fully cured in 24 hours. It is very protective and insulating but I would not count on it being water-tight with a single application, more like water-resistant. Water-tight if you build up multiple, correctly applied layers, each of which is allowed to properly cure. Can be sued indoors/outdoors and a temperature range of 30 degrees below zero to 200 degrees above zero and resistant to chemicals, solvents, and saltwater.

So there you go…there is my electrical prepper kit for electrical work.

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2021 Solar System Configuration

I received a couple requests for more information on the solar system design I mentioned in two earlier posts regarding some of the equipment.

So I have attached a PDF file that shows the design in detail, the reasoning for the equipment, and how it all works together.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

<click here to view/download the solar system PDF file>

Send me your thoughts, ideas, comments, questions, and concerns…



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TRAP: FNS LifePo4 3U & 5U Solar Batteries

This is a continuation of my post yesterday about Growatt SPF inverter/chargers. Why? They have the same Chinese parent company (FNS) and share a common problem.

So let me start off with a compliment to the company and what they are trying to accomplish. As I understand it FNS was a battery company located in China. They then bought an inverter manufacturer also located in China. I think that is a great concept…a single company that makes the inverter/charger side of a solar system and also the batteries. Makes perfect sense…the system is better suited to work together, the components are compatible, and the inverter/charger is able to communicate with the LifePo4 battery BMS (battery management system) making it more efficient.

Last summer when a neighbor had to upgrade his solar system he asked me to handle it for him. No problem, I like helping neighbors and I do pretty decently with solar systems. Yes, he saw my system that I built and had confidence in me I could build him a good system as well.

In the market place today, and yesterday, there has always been great charge controllers and inverters. I am partial to Victron. The problem for several years now has been reliable, decent quality, lithium batteries that are priced affordably. In 2019 I started that quest for good LifePo4 batteries that I could afford…that is a story for another day. For my neighbor I had no idea what brand of batteries would fit the requirements; reliable, decent quality, and affordable. Off to visit my buddy who owns a solar company.

He had just brought on a new line of equipment…FNS. He explained the FNS inverter/charger and battery relationship. Sounded right…and they met the system requirements and they were very affordable.

I put together a plan for a 6kw, 240vAC, 400Ah, 4.8kw of PVs system that also included an FNS battery cabinet that is really sweet. PVs went up, and I started tearing out the old system. Installed the new system with all new wiring, lightening protection, etc. Then fired it up…problems right off the bat with the batteries. The FNS 3U batteries would simply not function. Two days and 5 phone calls to the battery company later we found out there was a problem with the battery’s BMS software. Took the batteries in to the technician…one battery failed to update, burned another one out.

Another couple of days worth of phone calls with the US office, then phone calls and emails with the techs & managers in China. They had to rewrite the battery BMS software, download it to the US, and then the tech here loaded it into the battery. It worked. But there was still a problem with the batteries talking with the inverter. A week later the software was available to download into the inverter. It worked.

However, about the time you think it is a sunny day once again…ah, no. The batteries were still not performing up to standards…low full charge voltage and discrepancy between the battery charge indicator lights, the actual voltage reading, and the tech spec.

The low full charge voltage problem was explained after about a month from the first purchase…it was a 15 cell battery not an industry standard 16 cell battery. And since each cell is 3.2v, missing a cell was the discrepancy in voltage. And for along time no one in the supply chain knew it was a 15 vs 16 cell battery…and that difference also explained the competitive price point. No one in the company (FNS) was ever able to explain the discrepancy between the battery charge indicator lights, the actual voltage reading, and the tech spec.

AT the time the local dealer assured me they would stand behind the batteries, but, in the subsequent months they have also discontinued selling that line of batteries.

So the FNS 3U & 5U LifePo4 batteries are a “DO NOT BUY!” if you are looking for a trouble-free, industry standard 16-cell LifePo4 battery for your solar system. If you are tech savvy or have a solid working relationship with, and warranty from, your system installation company then they are a decent alternative.

I wouldn’t install them in my system based on what I know and the fact that there are better alternatives out there.

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TRAP: Growatt Inverter/Charge Controller

The Growatt SPF series of inverters has problems…serious problems if you don’t know how to fix them. The inverter unit also contains an integrated MPPT charge controller built in. And the unit has a great price point for 6kw/240vAC inverter. It can also handle 80a of PV input. Appears to be a perfect choice for off-grid operations on a budget.

But, I have personally installed one of these units for a friend and experienced problems. Later I found out there are known problems with these units, the SPF series. They will sometimes appear to overload within their 6kw/240vAC capacity and simply go off-line. They have also been known to have their integrated charge controller go off-line, without warning, which runs the battery bank down shutting down the system.

Fortunately there appears to be software/firmware upgrades that can remedy these problems. It did on the installation that I accomplished…but it took us time and interaction with the manufacturer.

So be pretty savvy yourself and know how to upgrade the firmware and software…and know how to modify the unit’s settings correctly. Or if someone installed your system for you, make sure they are aware of the problems and know the “fixes” to make. Or, buy a system that isn’t engineered and manufactured in China.

So the unit is usable and like I said…a great price point for the features. Just be aware of the problems. Know what you are getting yourself into.

And of course…one more thing. The Growatt units are marketed in the USA by a company called Growatt USA. It is owned by the parent company located in China, although run in the US by leadership in California. The person in charge in the USA is a nice lady but she lacks technical knowledge. And the lead for US marketing is an Australian who is a nice guy, has technical knowledge, but is lacking ability to resolve/troubleshoot issues relating to the units themselves.

The parent company also owns a lithium battery manufacturing company called FNS.The idea was to have an inverter unit (with integrated MPPT charge controller) and lithium batteries that work and communicate together. Great idea! But they fell short in getting all the bugs worked out before they went to market. More on the batteries tomorrow.

This is a cautionary “Trap” warning…not a “Do Not Buy!” warning. More like “Buy At Your Own Risk & be Prepared to Work Through It” warning.

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Coming Gun Control Legislation

There are approximately 29 gun control bills working their way through the Congressional process. None of which have made it into committee and/or to the floor for a vote. They are all in the “mark-up” or similar stage with the exception of two. One of which is commonly referred to as universal background checks, effectively eliminating all private sales and all private transfers except between spouses. The second allows the FBI to indefinitely delay background check approvals, effectively denying a person’s right to purchase a firearm.

As far as I can tell, collectively all 29 bills are not together as bad as last year’s H.R. 5717…which would not have made it past the Republican controlled Senate. However, give the 2021 Congressional radical leftists time…they are working on it.

First off…ANY federal law that prohibits a person’s right to own a personal weapon is unconstitutional…at least according to the Bill of Rights. And I am 100% behind the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I hope that makes it clear where I stand on the illegal and unconstitutional moves being made in Congress…and those having already been made in previous Congressional sessions. Any Representative or Senator who votes in favor of any gun control or gun ownership restrictions…have violated their oath they take…

“I do solemnly swear/affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” Congressional Oat of Office

And so we find ourselves far…very far…removed from our rights, liberties, and freedoms that our Founding Fathers intended us to possess. And possess for what purpose? The Second Amendment was explicitly designed to defend ourselves against tyranny…specifically against tyranny put upon us by a federal government.

And where do we find ourselves today? That is a question for you to answer. But, before you do…you might want to read this article <4th of July – Independence Day>

Now, all that being said, I’ve had a few conversations lately and read a few articles on what people are planning to do; the intentions run from sad to bizarre.

There seems to be some who will “bury” their guns. So I ask them a question…Bury them for what? There doesn’t seem to be a quick or intelligent response to that question…mostly a blank and confused stare. And when they do finally answer…their reasoning is not logical and void of common sense.

Then there is the “sell it now” crowd…those that wish to sell their guns before they become illegal and are confiscated. Most are taking the cash and spending it on a wide variety of items…none of which are “prepper” in nature.

Then there are a few that tell me, “I will put out an old gun for them to confiscate, the rest will be hidden.” Similar to the “bury” crowd, I ask them…Hide them for what? Again their answers are disjointed…and illogical. They tend to think they will somehow then be able to join a massive revolutionary war against tyranny sometime in the future. They seem to miss that they already complied with tyranny and missed the revolutionary boat…by a wide margin.

And a few have told me straight up…I will turn them in. Ouch!

There was only one man that said, “I will not let them take my guns…period!” That man is a veteran, a little older, and was as stalwart in that statement as any I have ever seen. Strangely enough, the only woman I spoke with said a similar thing…”I will not give up my guns”…then she went quiet and just stared at me. I was pleased and proud of both of them.

So let me return to the “bury & hide” crowd…what they heck are they hiding or burying their guns for? Seriously…WHY????  If guns are outlawed and confiscated…then what good is having one hidden or buried? Come on…use commonsense!!!

Oh, I am sure that they are thinking…later we can use them to [fill in the blank]. Bullshit! If they don’t have enough guts, courage, or foundational principles to fight against evil when the thugs come for guns the first time…they sure as hell won’t have any of those admirable character traits to rise up at some date in their fantasy future.

They are lying to themselves…plain and simple. They are looking for the easy way out…the coward’s way out. You either fight evil and tyranny or you give in…there is no inbetween…there is no gray area in this issue. Waiting to implement the Declaration of Independence after gun confiscation is WAY too late.

Consider this…on April 19th 1775 the army decided to confiscate the ammunition supplies of American citizens stored in Concord. The American citizens didn’t tell the army “OK, here it is, go ahead and take it.” Nor did they hide their guns and ammo, offering up their bows & arrows to the army in hopes of appeasing the soldiers. No sir, the American citizens formed up for a defensive action wishing to not engage the military. However, a shot rang out and a battle ensued.

Although the American citizens lost the battle of Lexington early that morning, the military paid a heavy price the remainder of the day as they retreated. And 8 years later brought about independence from a tyrannical oppressive government and issued in the Constitution and Bill of Rights…establishing the most free country to that point in the history of mankind.

That day in April nearly 250 years ago…the brave, the stalwart, the courageous didn’t hide their guns, they didn’t bury their guns, they didn’t give up their guns. That early morning…they stood against tyranny, they stood tall, they resisted the urge to give in to despotism…they resisted. They didn’t give in, they didn’t give up. And 8 years later gave their children, grandchildren, and many later generations freedom that had not been seen before in the history of the world.

So what is the answer? I can’t answer that for you personally because I have no idea what your individual circumstances or beliefs are.

A couple thoughts…

  1. Clarify where you stand on the Second Amendment. For me it is clear…no law, not a single one, to restrict a person’s right to buy, own, or transfer guns/ammo/mags is Constitutional. No tax on them, no infringement…NOTHING! The Second Amendment is clear as a bell…and our Founding Fathers knew what they were doing and what we would have to fight against if we didn’t control the government to begin with. I will stand with the Founding Fathers!
  2. There are some good gun rights organizations out there…support them with your time and money. And NO, I am not recommending the N.R.A…because they have caved in on the major gun control issues in the last 100 years*. Don’t doubt me on this!! An NRA President even said he saw no reason for a person to carry a concealed gun and didn’t support the right to do so**. Don’t give a dime to the NRA!! I like Gun Owners of America the best. <https://www.gunowners.org/> They are top notch and staunchly support the 2nd Amendment and stand tall where the NRA caves in.
  3. Support any and all 2nd Amendment sanctuary movements; city, county, and state.
  4. Contact your Representative and Senators, state and federal, to voice your unconditional opposition to ANY attempt at gun control. Make it clear you are willing to back up your position with time and money.
  5. Make sure you are ready to stand behind your convictions when the time comes. No wavering, no compromise, and know what you will do when the time comes. Then do it!

There are a lot of gun owners out there, some of them self-described patriots, who talk tough, who think they are some bad ass, who claim this or that. If any one of them speaks about hiding or burying a gun to avoid confiscation…then they are BS artists and not to be trusted. Or, they have been taken in by the idiots and cowards club.

The only reason to bury/hide guns/ammo/mags is for a “cache” for use if your main guns are no longer available to you (i.e. gunfight, have to abandon them, lost them, a back-up, or for resupply). The only way to prevent gun confiscation is to fight the legislation preemptively…and should that fail…fight it as our Founding Fathers did and who also provided us the means and authorization to do so through the Declaration of Independence.

I did a study about 10 years ago concerning gun confiscation. The premise of which was simple, guns were outlawed, confiscation was ordered, and all law enforcement (federal/state/local) would be involved in forced gun confiscation via raids at people’s homes and businesses. LEOs would operate in 10-man units and conduct two raids per day. I used an average of 1 casualty per day per team incurred during their raids. Remember, a casualty doesn’t mean fatality, it means a person is lost for continuing service after the injury is incurred. But yes, it could also mean fatality.

I used the numbers of all LEOs in the country participating in the raids. I set unit combat effectiveness at 50%. Unit cohesiveness and morale was not initially factored in.

The results were simple…gun confiscation raids would become unsustainable after 16 days. Meaning there was a 75% casualty rate within those 16 days. Now, factoring in unit cohesiveness and individual morale…those raids could stop well before the 16 day time-frame. And I believe there would be some parts of the country where state LEOs would not participate, and a large number of rural areas where local LEOs would not participate. And I believe there are a few locations where local LEOs might assist citizens in the resistance to gun confiscation.

I think those numbers are telling…whether they are accurate or not is another story, I believe they are. I think that unit cohesiveness and morale could hugely affect the numbers in favor of citizens…but I don’t have the tools to make those calculations. But resistance to gun confiscation would mean the tyranny could last no more than 16 days, maybe less.

But the downside to those numbers is this…should they hold true and a radical leftist regime such as Biden/Harris is leading the confiscation movement…the military could be called in. Should the military be called in, and they cooperate, it is game over… guns are gone. Maybe not in 1 day, maybe not in 16 days…but they are gone. And I see no reason to believe that the military (i.e. National Guard Military Police or regular units) would not cooperate.

The other proven option is a leftist method that is considerably more effective and efficient in getting 80 – 90% of American guns confiscated…BuyBack! If the federal government offered a buyback program during a grace period once guns are outlawed, then you will see the country virtually disarmed. Then only those most committed to the Constitution would still have a gun. If that would be the case, and then LEO raids commenced on the remaining holdout gun owners…well, it could be a far different outcome than the one I outlined earlier. Implement a paid informer program along with a buyback and the confiscation numbers increase significantly.

And I honestly don’t think there would be more than 5% of the American population that would “rise up” to resist those kinds of programs or any gun confiscation law/operation. And 5% would not be any challenge at all for the US military. Game over…Constitutional rights/liberties/freedoms gone! The elites win. Of course there are virtually endless scenarios, but they are similar in nature and outcome.

So I guess there is plenty to think about…what will you do…how will you do it…with whom will you align yourself…what are you willing to sacrifice.

You might want to be thinking this through…soon.

The best time to decide might not be when there is a knock at your door…or worse.Normalcy Bias - Man with head in the sand

And if you run into some clown claiming they will just hide or bury all their guns…ask them “why?”…and ask “what is their endgame?” It should be entertaining at the very least. I think I know what they are really hiding in the ground 🙂

* Gun Rights Elimination that NRA leadership supported, didn’t oppose, or helped write:

  • Uniform Firearms Act
  • The National Firearms Act of 1934
  • The Gun Control Act of 1968 (NRA formally endorsed it!)

** Karl Frederick, the NRA’s president, said, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons… I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” He further stated his objection to the Second Amendment: “Protection for guns lies in an enlightened public sentiment and in intelligent legislative action…It is not to be found in the Constitution.”



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Workman Magnetic Mobile Antenna (KRDB) – Fix the Problem

note: originally published in May 2016

I wrote an article reviewing the model KRDB Workman Magnetic Mobile Antenna on 8/24/2020 (yesterday). In the article I mentioned two things –

  • Crappy antenna and DO NOT BUY IT!
  • A piece of plastic had broken and exposed the antenna wire and the internal base of the mount.

This article is going to show you –

  • How to fix the problem if you have one of these antennas.
  • How to reinforce the base if your antenna hasn’t broken yet.

Let’s review the problem…

The piece that broke off on all 3 of the antennas is almost exactly the same.

The problem comes from –

  1. Extremely poor quality plastic.
  2. Extremely poor base design.
  3. Antenna wire moving around and stressing the plastic.

So I figure to fix the problem where it already exists I have to –

  1. Fill in the hole that exposes the internals of the base.
  2. Cover the exposed antenna wire.
  3. Stabilize the wire.

Enter Liquid Electrical Tape!  Take a minute and read these two articles, they are short and will only take a minute –

So, I figure the best way to solve all three of the problems is to use liquid tape.

I forced liquid tape into the base of the antenna and then put a small amount over the exposed antenna wire.

Once the first application was dry, I added another layer of liquid tape.

And then another layer of liquid tape.

Now, you probably don’t own the Workman antenna if you are one of my regular website visitors. But, I wanted to show you the “fix” anyways. I also want to give you general ideas on how to fix things, whatever it is. When emergencies, disasters, or grid-down hits you need to be able to fix just about anything, or know someone who can. You need to be able to analyze what the problem is and then make whatever is broken work again.

Remember…liquid tape is your friend!

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Workman Magnetic Mobile Antenna (KRDB)

I originally purchased several of these back in 2013 based on some good reviews that the antenna had gotten. When I first started to use it I thought it looked a little “boxy” and “put together with parts” vs. “designed and built.” But, I thought I would give it a try. Oooppppssss…

Now you're talking!

Now you’re talking!

About a year ago I noticed that one of the units had a broken piece of plastic on the base. I thought I might have damaged it in some way. I knew it wasn’t due to exposure to the elements because it has been stored for use when needed. That need hasn’t developed yet. I was disappointed to be sure and I set the antenna aside to work on it at some later date.

Today I went to do some antenna testing of the Baofeng UV-5RA radio vs. the Baofeng UV-5RMHP radio. I got a variety of antennas to compare SWR and power to see which radio was more efficient. When I retrieved the magnetic mount Workman KRDB antenna I saw that it had a broken piece no the base as well. I got the original Workman, and sure enough, the Antenna Workman mobile antennabroken pieces matched each other. I had one more of the Workman antennas and it too had the same broken piece.

This antenna is made by Electronic Products, Inc.. The company is listed as being located in Delta, Ohio but the antenna is made in China. Yeah, big surprise there!

Now that shows a clear design and engineering flaw as well as very poor quality materials. So now I have to look for a way to not lose my $105.00 worth of antennas. I am working on a “fix” and will keep you posted.

Piece of the base breaks off to expose the entire insides of the base.

Piece of the base breaks off to expose the entire insides of the base.

Based on just the design, engineering, quality of materials, and the fact that 3 out of 3 have broken…yeah, no doubt about it.

The piece that broke off on all 3 of the antennas is almost exactly the same.

The piece that broke off on all 3 of the antennas is almost exactly the same.

“Do Not Buy!”

Thumbs Down ReviewNote: “Fix” article <click here>

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TIP: Time for a change…

First off…I apologize for the quality of the photos…they suck! I got in a hurry and didn’t verify them when I took them, I just assumed they were in focus, etc.

So now the meat of this tip…Oil Changes!

It was time for me to do a little preventive maintenance (PM) on my two Champion generators. One is my Champion 120v, 4000 watt (PSW), inverter generator, the other is a Champion 3500 watt (MSW), dual fuel generator. Both have the same engine. Yeah, amazing how that worked out…same motor on both…almost like I planned it 😉

In this case the PM was oil change, air filter cleaning, and spark arrestor check. So here are my steps on how I go about it…

1) I get the generator well off the ground to a comfortable working height and to make it easier to get to and oil drain pan underneath.


    1. Notice the dump cart in the background. I use that to transport the well house generator to my mini-barn/shop. The cart tilts to ground level, I roll the generator onto the cart, tilt the cart bed back to its upright position and haul the cart with my UTV. My solar system stand-by generator is on a 4-wheeled cart that I simply hook up to and pull with the UTV. Yeah, I mounted it on its own cart to assist in moving it around the construction site while I was building the house. I also left it on the cart to make it easy to move around the property with the UTV should I need the power somewhere more remote. I can also more easily use it at other locations in my community should the emergency need arise.
    2. Don’t buy some expensive oil drain pan! I use a Walmart plastic storage bin that cost me about $2. It came with a lid so I can close up the drain pan till I am ready to dump the oil.
    3. To get my wheeled generator off the ground high enough I simply pulled it up on my car ramps.
    4. And what you don’t see in the picture is my mechanic’s stool. An adjustable stool, on casters, with a tool tray around the base. That gives me a nice comfortable working height…sitting down. And a place to keep my tools off the floor of my shop which happens to be cinders.

2) To make my efforts more efficient I actually work on changing the oil and cleaning the air filter at the same time. I use a stiff brush to clean around the drain plug, then I remove the drain plug to drain the oil, and remove the oil dip stick to make the draining easier. Then I remove the air filter and take it to the house to clean it. There are some air filter cleaners out there but they are a little pricey. I simply use hot water, a little dish soap, and clean it like I would a shop rag. After I have rinsed it thoroughly I use dry paper towels to wrap it in and squeeze until the paper towels are no longer damp. Then I sit the air filter out in the sun to finish drying. You must get the air filter completely dry! While I have been cleaning the air filter the oil has drained completely.


    1. When I remove the dip stick I place it on a clean paper towel to make sure it stays dirt/grit free. And it has a nice absorbent surface to drain on.

3) I make sure the air filter cover is clean on the inside as well as the air filter housing that is connected to the engine. If needed, I use WD-40 to clean off any grime. Before I put the air filter back into the housing I use PJ1 on the foam filter to assist in catching/trapping any dirt/grit/sand/dust from getting through the filter.

4) Time for putting in the nice clean oil! Yeah, don’t forget to put the drain plug back in. And really don’t forget to ensure that if there is a crush washer that it goes back on.


    1. I use only fully synthetic oil when I do oil changes. Yes, I use manufacturer recommended oil for the break-in period…then fully synthetic after that. And yes, I use a slightly heavier oil in our hot summers and a slightly lighter weight oil during the winter. And yes, I buy my oil in gallon jugs or larger…cheaper.
    2. Make sure you have a long-neck funnel on hand to assist in pouring the oil back into the motor. Champion generators come with a funnel…nice touch! Also, notice the Ziplock bag in the picture? Yeah, I store my funnel in it. It keeps any dirt/grit from getting on it. I also put a couple of paper towels in the bottom to absorb any leftover oil when I put the funnel in the bag.
    3. When adding the oil I use the drip stick to check the quantity of oil to add. To check the oil level correctly you have to screw the oil dip stick all the way in. But, I am inpatient. I simply put the dip stick in until it hits the mouth of the oil fill inlet, I don’t screw it in. When the oil reaches about the halfway full mark it is close enough. Then I screw it in to do a final level check.

5) The final step in my PM in checking the spark arrestor screen and cleaning it if needed.

Note: A buddy of mine saw a used generator deeply discounted at a “big-box store” that appeared to be fairly new. The tag said it would not start or run. He looked at the spark arrestor screen…he immediately purchased the generator. He got it home, took the spark arrestor screen off and cleaned it really well. He checked the air filter…fine. He checked the spark plug…fine. Checked to make sure the gas wasn’t foul…fine. It started right up.


    1. You can run the generator without the spark arrestor screen. But, check the warranty, it may void it, and it won’t be approved for use on public lands…or in California.
    2. If you are in California…move.


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

Baofeng Antenna SWR testing results…

Antenna SWR testing SWRnote: article first appeared in December 2015

I have been testing a number of antennas over the last couple of years. The stubby antenna that comes with the radio is sturdy enough but reduces the overall range of receiving and transmissions. Additionally, there is also one more negative side effect, clarity. The antenna just doesn’t give you good clarity on the reception side. I didn’t really notice the difference until I used the Elite 14.5″ antenna. The improved clarity of reception was more than just noticeable…it was really clear.

However, I wanted to give some hardcore data on the different antennas that I tested. Some of the antennas that I have been testing I haven’t even posted a review yet. But not to worry, the review is coming. I did want to get the data out there just to show how versatile the Baofeng UV-5RA radio really was.

SWR meterThe objective of this article was to identify the best antenna(s) for the Baofeng UV-5RA radio.

My testing was simple…What was the SWR reading with each antenna. But let’s review what SWR is just in case you aren’t clear.

First, SWR means Standing Wave Ratio. When your radio transmits it sends the signal from the radio out to the antenna. When the signal, for whatever reason, reverses and heads back to the radio it reduces your ability to transmit. The reasons that the signal will reverse is normally due to discontinuity or impedance mismatch. When your signal reverses, your signal will not transmit as far. Another way to say it, you are losing transmission power when the signal reverses. The more power you lose, the shorter your transmission distance. The key is keeping that reversal as low as possible.

A low SWR refers to a large forward RF signal and a small reversal of that signal. Very little of your signal is being reflected back at your radio. SWR Example – Low: 1:1

A high SWR refers to a large amount of your signal is being reflected back at your radio. A large part, maybe most, of your signal is reversing. SWR Example – High: 9:1

SWR antenna readings chartSWR chart keyNow, as if it weren’t already complicated enough, SWR readings can be different based on the frequency being used. So, what I did was to identify the most commonly used frequency ranges for my operations and then test the SWR. Knowing full well that SWR readings may vary if I switch out of those commonly used frequency ranges. That’s OK, not everything can be perfect…especially in the Ham world.

A final note for Ham operators already understand SWR readings. I am testing the SWR performance on a handi-talkie (handheld) radio. I use a 12″ adapter cable from the radio to the SWR meter. Then another 12″ lead from the meter to the antenna. I don’t think I am losing anything along the cables since they are brand new.

Back to the SWR results…

Boafeng UV-5RA antenna SWR resultsThe bottom line…All the antennas tested showed SWR meter readings that are just fine, some actually very good. Something that really did catch my attention was the results of the larger vehicle antennas, they all showed great results. The Aweek UV108 antenna makes me think this would be a good antenna for inside an apartment or other area where you wanted a low profile.

Here is a picture and link for each antenna. Some will have reviews that I have done as well.

Aweek Nagoya NA733Antenna Aweek NA-773 baofeng uv-5r

Band: Dual band VHF/UHF, Antenna type: Soft Antenna, Frequency: 144/430MHz, Gain: 2.15dB/3.0db, Max power rating: 10W, V.S.W.R: less than 1.5, Impedance: 50ohm, Connector: SMA-F (Female), Polarization: Vertical, Radiation: Omni, Length: 4″ – 15.5″


ExpertPpower XP771 EliteExpertPower XP-771 Elite 14.5-Inch Dual Band Antenna (144/430Mhz U/V SMA-F) Boafeng UV-5R

Impedance: 50 Ohm, VSWR: less than 1.5, Radiation: Omni, Polarization: Vertical, Maximum Power Input Watts: 50W, Height: 14.4″

Amazon-ExpertPowerEliteAntenna< click here to read the review >

Aweek Speak/Mic/AntennaAntenna-Aweek Speaker Mic Antenna

Speaker Mic with Dual band 7.5″ antenna (VHF / UHF: 136-174Mhz & 400-520MHz)

Amazon - Antenna - Aweek Spkr Mic Ant

Antenna - Aweek UV108 baofeng uv-5raAweek UV108

144/430Mhz dual band, high gain antenna with 30′ of cable

Amazon-Antenna-Aweek UV108


Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna Baofeng UV-5RTram 1185 Mag-Mount


19″ tall, dual band 144-148 / 440-450MHz, 2.5 dBd gain on UHF, 0 dBd gain VHF

Amazon Tram1185 Antenna< click here to read the review >

Antenna-Tram1600Tram 1600 Marine

Base-loading coil, 38″ stainless steel whip, GAIN: 6 dB

Amazon - Antenna - Tram 1600

Browning BR-180 Amateur Dual-Band Mobile AntennaBrowning 180

37-Inch tall, 144-148 MHz/430-450 MHz, 3dB gain VHF, 6 dB gain UHF, center load, max power 100 Watts.

Amazon - Antenna - Browning 180 antenna

Bottom line to all of this information is there for you to pick the antenna to accomplish the mission – your mission. You wouldn’t buy a Browning 180 to carry on your person while patrolling. But, you might want the Aweek speaker mic antenna combo if you needed to keep the radio under your poncho but want the speaker/mic/antenna near your ear to make talking and listening easier. Identify the mission and then choose the equipment to best meet that mission.



2009 - 2020 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.