Antenna: Portable Dual Band (70cm & 2m) Radio Antenna

Antennanote: article first appeared in February 2015

One of the reasons I got into the Ham radio scene was to increase the effectiveness of handheld radios.  In my day job I use handheld radios a lot and they are critical to our wildland firefighting mission.  At work I can talk on a handheld for hundreds of miles across six counties.  I wanted similar capabilities in private life during emergencies, disasters or especially during “grid-down” when it comes.Desert

So I built a repeater using a Yaesu FT-8800r dual band mobile radio.  Along with a great repeater is a need for a great antenna.  And that antenna has to be proven reliable, sturdy, portable and something you can depend your life on.  So that was my next challenge, build an antenna to meet the repeater need but go beyond that as well.  This article covers that quest.  So let’s get going…

Mission –

General – To allow maximum performance on 70cm & 2m frequencies in the field via a highly portable, easily set-up, and sturdy antenna.

Primary – Use in conjunction with a Yaesu FT-8800R as a portable cross-band repeater (70cm & 2m).

Summary –

This portable dual-band antenna allows a user to attach the antenna to a handheld (via adapter cable) or directly to a mobile Ham radio. The antenna itself is a purchased wire antenna which is then mounted internally in ¾” PVC pipe. That section is then configurable with or without two (2) additional sections of 3” PVC pipe to vary the antenna height from 5’ – 15’ from the base.

Materials List –

DBJ-1 Designed by Dr. Ed Fong WB6IQN of UC Berkeley

DBJ-1 Antenna

  • The antenna, DBJ-1 J-Pole dual-band, designed by Dr. Ed Fong WB6IQN of UC Berkeley.
  • 1 section (10’) of Class 200 3” PVC pipe
  • 1 section (5’) of Class 200 ¾” PVC pipe
  • 1 3” threaded Class 200 PVC clean-out adapter, the inside diameter of the non-threaded end is 3”. See the picture in Step #7 for a better idea.
  • 1 threaded cap for the Class 200 PVC clean-out adapter. See Step #2 for a better idea.
  • 1  2” x 1-1/4” Class 200 PVC bushing. The 2” is male; the 1-1/4” is female.
  • 1   3” x 2” Class 200 PVC reducer. Both ends are female.
  • 3 or 4 swivel bales. See Step #15 for a better idea.
  • 30   1-1/4” wood screws with washers.
  • 1   ¼” carriage bolt, star lock washer, nut.
  • 2   2’ x 2’ pieces of ¾” marine plywood.
DBJ-1 Antenna Info –

SWR:  Less than 1.3 to 1 on both bands.
Gain:   +6dB over a rubber duck antenna

Steps –

Step #1 – The base is cut from 3/4″ marine plywood.  You want two pieces 24″ x 24″.

Step #2 – Take your 3” threaded drain clean-out plug. Cut square hole in the center of one piece of base material. It should look something like this…

Antenna-DBJ1build1

Step #3 – Place cap through hole so it looks like this…

Antenna-DBJ1build2Looks like this from the backside…Antenna-DBJ1build3

Step #4 – Now line it up and chisel out a small indent in the second board for the cap to sit in. Do not cut the hole all of the way through. Using the indent for the cap to sit in will give the base added strength and prevent the cap from turning. It should look something like this…

Antenna-DBJ1build4Step #5 –  Line the two boards up, make sure everything lines up correctly, put a generous amount of construction grade adhesive (i.e. Liquid Nails) between boards, clamp, then using outdoor screws, screw boards together.

Step #6 –  Using wood screws and washers secure the cap to the board. I used 1-1/4” wood screws. It is a good idea to pre-drill the cap where the wood screws will pass through to avoid accidental cracking of the plastic cap. The washers ensure that the screws, when tightened, will not crack the plastic cap.

Antenna-DBJ1build5Step #7 –  When the boards are securely “sandwiched” then use a ¼” bolt (I used a carriage bolt), star lock washer, and locknut. Drill a hole for the bolt through the cap bottom (centered) and through the lower board. Install bolt from the bottom through the boards, through the cap and secure with lock washer and nut. Be careful to not tighten the bolt/nut too much; you don’t want to chance breaking/cracking the plastic cap.

Step #8 –  Now you have the base ready for priming and panting. I suggest a high quality primer and then multiple coats of a high quality paint to seal the wood against moisture. I suggest you tape off the threads with painter’s tape prior to painting.

Step #9 – Using the 10’ section of Class 200 PVC pipe, cut the 3” PVC pipe in half. Cement a double-female joint to each section of pipe. Use a plastic primer spray paint; paint the pipe any color you wish. It is not necessary to paint the pipe, I just think it looks cooler painted. Allow for the paint to fully dry before installing the swivel bales.

Step #10 – In the 5’ section of ¾” Class 200 PVC pipe install the wire DBJ-1 antenna according to the instructions included with the antenna.

Step #11 –  Using the 3” x 2” PVC reducer connection cut a ¾” hole in the side of the reducer as shown.

Antenna-DBJ1build6Step #12 –  Using the 2” x 1-1/4” PVC bushing cement the antenna cap (with the PL-259 connector installed) into the 1-1/4” opening in the bushing. Then cement the 2” end of the PVC bushing into the 2” opening on the 3” x 2” PVC reducer. (When ready to use the cap will fit over the male end of the PVC base.)

Step #13 –  Paint the 5’ antenna section any color you wish. Painting is not necessary but it looks cooler if it is painted. Make sure you use a plastic primer prior to painting with the finish coat.

Step #14 –  After the paint is dry on the 3” x 5’ sections of PVC pipe secure 3 or 4 of the swivel bales to one section. You will install the swivel bales on the end that does not have the joint installed. Make sure you are sufficiently lower from the end of the pipe to allow the 5’ antenna section to fit securely and snugly onto this section.

Antenna-DBJ1build6Step #15 – Allow all painted surfaces to completely dry prior to initial use.

Installation Options –

You have three installation options:

Starting with the base…

Antenna-DBJ1build7

Option #1 – Install the 5’ antenna section directly onto the base.

Antenna-DBJ1build8Option #2 – Install the 5’ antenna section on one of the 3” x 5’ sections, and then install the 3” x 5’ section on to the base.

Antenna-DBJ1build9Option #3 – Install the 5’ antenna section onto the 3” x 5’ section with the swivel bales, and then that section on the remaining 3” x 5’ section. Then install the entire configured pipe/antenna onto the base.

Antenna-DBJ1build10Note #1: If you are going to be securing the antenna with Para cord, tie the Para cord onto the swivel bales prior to raising the pipes and installing onto the base.

Note #2: If you are concerned about the unit’s stability you can place sandbags or large rocks on the base to improve stability.

Note #3: I painted my antenna a combination of colors and textures that will help it blend in with the desert environment where I will be using it.

 

 

 

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without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
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The humble flash-bang grenade pouch…

Military surplus flashbang grenade pouchnote: article first appeared in August 2015

I am always looking for really good gear. Especially really good and inexpensive gear. The flashbang grenade pouch is one of those pieces of gear. I have come up with a number of good uses for this sized pouch. But I think I am only scratching the surface. I will leave it up to your imagination to come up with more ideas.

The flashbang grenade pouch I am talking about is this one…

military surplus flashbang grenade pouch NSN 8465-01-515-7581The approximate dimensions are:

  • 2.5″ wide
  • 2″ deep
  • 5″ – 6″ tall (adjustable)

The pouch is made from hevy-duty Cordura nylon, has a strong nylon stealth buckle, and heavy-webbing and MOLLE II compatible straps. The pouch also has a drainage grommet in the bottom of the pouch.

These pouches can be purchased online for $4.25 – $7.95 depending on the website you buy from. Shop around!  I got the best deal on eBay for a bulk purchase of them.

Here are some examples of what you can use it for…

UV-5RA with regular/standard battery (L) and the option 3800mAh (R).

UV-5RA with regular/standard battery (L) and the option 3800mAh (R).

Standard UV-5RA fits with perfectly with the pouch flap covering the entire top of the radio.

Standard UV-5RA fits with perfectly with the pouch flap covering the entire top of the radio.

UV-5RA with the larger, 3800mAh battery. Pouch flap doesn't cover quite as much of the top of the radio. But it is still a great fit and the radio is very secure.

UV-5RA with the larger, 3800mAh battery. Pouch flap doesn’t cover quite as much of the top of the radio. But it is still a great fit and the radio is very secure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAT - Combat Application Tourniquet

CAT – Combat Application Tourniquet

CAT - Combat Application Tourniquet

CAT – Combat Application Tourniquet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yaesu FT-60R

Yaesu FT-60R

Yaesu FT-60R

Yaesu FT-60R

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garmin GPS (60 series)

Garmin GPS (60 series)

Garmin GPS (60 series)

Garmin GPS (60 series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got you started…now figure out how you can use this great piece of gear!

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio : Storing and Cases

Yaesu FT-897Dnote: article first appeared in March 2015

In this post I will go over how I store my 897D and what I store with it.

In two previous articles I went over the Yaesu FT-897D radio and accessories. Both articles are worth the read. They appeared yesterday and the day before.

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.

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.

 

So this is what my pair of cases looks like for my Yaesu FT-897D –

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-CYes, there are two cases for my 897D. One for the radio and equipment, and the other I call “support.” Each case is clearly labeled for easy identification.

Yaesu FT-897D Radio Case –SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C Yaesu FT-897D layer 1

Bottom Level:

  • 1 x 6′ Cable, power harness with 25amp auto fuzes, radio connector on one end, Anderson Power Poles on the other end.

 

 

SKB i-series 3I-1711--68-C Yaesu FT-897D layer 2

Top Level:

  • 1 x Yaesu FT-897D radio with AT897 Autotuner attached
  • 1 x Microphone, Yaesu MH-31
  • 1 x Cable, Data, 14″
  • 1 x Cable, Antenna, 12″
  • 1 x Cable, power, 35amp auto fuze, battery clamps on one end, Anderson Power Poles on the other end.

 

On top of the radio I place a 897D user’s manual in a 1-gallon Ziplock bag and in an other 1-gallon Ziplock bag I place a user’s manual for the autotuner and the power switch as well as a latest copy of the US Amateur Radio Bands chart.

Yaesu FT-897D Support Case –Yaesu FT-897D support hardcase contents

Bottom Level:

  • 1 x Wire antenna, 4:1 Balum, Buxcomm B2KC41
  • 1 x Lead PL-239, 50′

 

 

Yaesu FT-897D support hardcase contentsMiddle Level:

  • 1 x PL-259 male/male connector
  • 1 x PL-259 male/female connector with ground connector
  • 1 x ground wire pipe/stake clamp

 

 

 

Yaesu FT-897D support hardcase contentsTop Level:

  • 1 x Power Supply, AC, 30amp, MFJ-1230MV
  • 1 x Power Supply, AC power cord
  • 1 x Screwdriver, phillips head
  • 1 x Headphones, Yaesu YH-77sta with adaptor
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming CD
  • 1 x RT Systems Programming cable
  • 1 x power cable, 6″, Anderson Power Poles to eyelets

 

I have given you a list of the equipment needed to run the Yaesu FT-897D Ham radio. Is it everything you might need? No, it isn’t. I didn’t include the little things like some 550 Paracord to string up the antenna. I didn’t include the battery or solar panels. This was meant strictly for the radio equipment itself.

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

 

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
without expressed written permission from AHTrimble.com
See Content Use Policy for more information.

Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #2

Yaesu FT-897Dnote: article first appeared in February 2015

As mentioned in Part #1 of this series that posted yesterday, I really love this mobile unit!  The Yaesu FT-897D is an amazing piece of Ham radio technology wrapped up in a very compact and sturdy package for HF and UHF/VHF operations in the field or as a base station.  This thing does it all and exceeds my mission requirements and expectations.

In yesterday’s post I covered the specifics of the Yaesu FT-897D itself.  In this post I will go over the accessories, installation info and some other tidbits.

 

LDG AT-897 Plus auto-tuner

LDG-AT-897 Plus : The AT-897Plus Autotuner mounts on the side of your FT-897 just like it is original equipment. They even added the ability to mount the “feet” on the side of the tuner so when you are transporting your rig by the handle, you can safely and securely set it down and not worry about scratching the case.

The AT-897Plus is microprocessor controlled. The tuner has a front panel button to initiate the tuning sequence while lowering the RF power to 25 watts and will bypass the tuner if pressed momentarily. The red LED lights during while the tuner is active.  The AT-897Plus takes control and power directly from the CAT port of the FT-897 (at 4800 baud) and provides a second CAT port on the back of the tuner so if you are using another CAT device, hooking it up couldn’t be easier.  The AT-897Plus does not need a fan, let alone one that is constantly running. Current consumption when it is tuned is in the micro-amp range.

Autotuner specifications –

  •     Microprocessor controlled
  •     2000 fast memories arranged by frequency
  •     Switched L tuning network
  •     Mounts on the side of the Yaesu FT-897 with four M3-0.5×10 screws (included)
  •     Dual function tune control button
  •     Continuous coverage 1.8 to 54 MHz
  •     Power rating HF: 0.1 to 100 Watts, 30W on PSK
  •     Latching Relays
  •     CAT control at 4800 baud with extra CAT Port
  •     Tuning time: 1 to 7 seconds, 4 average
  •     Antenna impedance: 6 to 800 Ohms (Approximately up to 10:1 SWR, 3:1 on 6M)
  •     Tunes nearly any coax fed antenna. Use optional Balun for long wires.
  •     Power requirements: 11 to 14 volts DC @ 300 milliamps during tune
  •     Operating voltage supplied via the CAT Port (cable supplied with tuner)
  •     Enclosure sizes: 11.5D x 3.25H x 1.5W (measured in inches)
  •     Weight: 2 pounds

BUXCOMM WINDOM dipole antennaDipole Antenna :  Buxcomm Windoms (Includes 4:1 BALUN PoweRated @ 2000 watts PEP).  SuperFlex PVC covered wire, and covered connections to the BALUNs and end insulators. BALUNs use multiple cores, and are power-rated to handle 2000 watts PEP, and the hardware is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.

The BUXCOMM Windom (OCFD) is well known for its 4 to 9dbi gain over the common dipole.  Field gain test has shown, when the BUXCOMM OCFD is chosen for the lowest band of operation, each harmonic related HF band above it will exhibit 2.0 to 3.75dbi greater than the next lower neighbor band.  All this great performance is achieved through the use of specially selected toroids we use in the manufacture of our BALUNs.  They use a uniquely designed BALUN that exceeds the bandwidth of any of the competitors matching device. Pick the model best for your operations:  160 – 2m  (268′) #166265, 80 – 2m  (137′) #802134, 40 – 2m  (70′) #40270.

Buxcomm Coaxial in-Line isolator B2KLISO

Isolator :  Buxcomm Coaxial in-Line isolator B2KLISO.  The BUXCOMM LISO (line isolator) inhibits undesired RFI by preventing feedline currents and re-radiation. In turn, the LISO forces all the RF energy from the transceiver, tuner, or amplifier, into the antenna.

 

 

Yaesu FNB-78 BatteryYaesu FT-897D

Internal Battery :  (Radio can accommodate 2 batteries internally) Yaesu FNB-78 Battery

 

 

 

Yaesu CD-24 Battery Charger Adaptor

Internal Battery Charger Adapter : Yaesu CD-24 Battery Charger Adapter

 

 

RadioAntennaCar

Vehicle 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.  This antenna can only be used for the UHF/VHF bands but it does have its own UHF/VHF band antenna connection on the back of the 897D.

 

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 adapter. 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 programming software for the FT-897DProgramming Software w/cable :  RT Systems FT-899D 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 for my Yaesu 8900 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.

 

So this concludes my review of the Yaesu FT-897D radio.  It is a solid “Buy!”  You will not be disappointed and it will serve you for a very long time, especially when the grid goes down and you need the ultimate Ham radio.

Would I own this radio, or suggest you own it, even if you didn’t have a Ham license to operate it? Yes! You can still listen to what is happening whenever you want. Plus, during emergencies, to save a life, you can use it without a license. During a “grid-down”…well, whose going to come check your Ham license?

Tomorrow I will be posting an article ideas on keeping your radio rig up and running plus what my 897 “go kit” looks like along with a list of its contents.  Look for it!

 

 

 

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-897D Ham Radio – Part #1

Yaesu FT-897Dnote: article first appeared in February 2015

Yaesu has been putting out high quality products for a very long time.  The FT-897R is no exception. This is the HF radio I purchased and I am extremely glad I did. It meets or exceeds every expectation I have for a quality HF rig, then it throws in an added bonus – UHF/VHF.

I will go through my standard outline of reviewing this radio based on its designated mission and requirements.  But before I move on I want to tell you the best feature of this HF rig – it also handles my

Yaesu FT-897D with LDG AT-897 auto-tunerfavorite bands 2m & 70cm as well!  The 6m band coverage is built-in as well.  Way more bang for the buck than I imagined.  Let’s get started on the rest of the info…

 

Mission –

Provide reliable clear communications over the HF Ham frequency band for both disaster and ”grid-down” situations in the field or function as a base station.

Requirements & Limitations –
  1. Must be able to access all HF (High Frequency) band frequencies.
  2. Must be a sturdy radio fully capable of hard field use.
  3. Must be 12vDC compatible.
  4. Must be easy to computer program.
  5. Must have headset jack.
  6. Should have internal batteries
The Good & Less Good
  1. Absolutely great to have the added bonus of 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands in the 897!!  This unit is the ultimate “grid-down” radio.Yaesu FT-897D dual antenna hook-up.
  2. You can hook up two antennas to this unit.  One for the UHF/VHF bands, the other is for HF & 6m bands.  Really a sweet option if you are going for an “all-in-one” radio.
  3. Mic is a mini-remote control unit for the radio.  It can step through the menus on the mic just like using the front panel.
  4. Very solid and reliable.
  5. Easy to program via the RT Systems programming software.
  6. Read the manual and use on-line resources to understand the full capability and operation of this radio.
  7. Use an automatic tuner and this radio rocks!
There are some minor, very minor, drawbacks:
  1. I have heard of, but not experienced, some minor RF interference on the mic from being too close to an antenna.  My antenna is nowhere near my mic so I have not had this problem.
  2. The manual doesn’t cover everything this radio is capable of.  Use on-line resources for additional information.
  3. If HF is crowded and busy, the radio is not the best out there.  But it doesn’t cost $5000 either.
  4. The internal speaker is adequate but not the best quality.  Use an external speaker or headset for high-quality listening.
The Details –Yaesu FT-897D in the field

The FT-897D is a rugged, innovative, multi-band, multi-mode portable transceiver for the amateur radio MF/HF/VHF/UHF bands. Providing coverage of the 160-10 meter bands plus the 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands, the FT-897 includes operation on the SSB, CW, AM, FM, and Digital modes. And it’s capable of 20-Watt portable operation using internal batteries, or up to 100 Watts when using an external 13.8-volt DC power source (standard 12vDC operation).

The new FT-897 ″D” version includes coverage of the U.S. 60-meter (5 MHz) band, along with the 0.5 ppm TCXO Unit, at no additional charge. The coverage is HF 160 to 10 meters (including 60 meters) plus 50/144/430 MHz VHF/UHF. Receive coverage is:  0.1-56, 76-108, 118-164 and 420-470 MHz.

  • TX Frequency Coverage: 160-10 Meters, 50 MHz, 144 MHz, 430-450 MHz, plus Alaska Emergency Chan. (5167.5 kHz).
  • RX Frequency Coverage: 100 kHz-56 MHz; 76-154 MHz; 420 – 470 MHz. (Exact frequency range may be slightly different)
  • Power Output: 100 watts HF-6M, 50 watts 2 M, 20 watts 70 cm. (20 watts on battery)
  • Operating Modes: USB, LSB, CW, AM, FM, W-FM, Digital (AFSK), Packet (1200/9600 FM).
  • Digital Modes: RTTY, PSK31-U, PSK31-L, and User defined USB/LSB (SSTV, Pactor, etc.).
  • S. Weather Band reception.
  • Built-in 3-Message Memory Keyer.
  • Multi-Color LCD Multi-function Display.
  • Bar-Graph Metering of Power Output, ALC, SWR, Modulation.
  • Optional Narrow CW and SSB Filters.
  • AGC Fast-Slow-Auto-Off Selection.
  • RF Gain/Squelch Control/IF Control.
  • Built-in Noise Blanker.
  • AM and FM broadcast reception.
  • Dual VFOs, Split Capability, IF Shift, and R.I.T. (“Clarifier”).
  • Wide/Narrow FM Selection.
  • AM Aircraft Reception.
  • Dedicated SSB-based Digital Mode for PSK31 on USB/LSB, AFSK RTTY, etc.
  • Built-in CW Electronic Keyer and Semi-Break-In.
  • Transverter Interface Jack.
  • Built-in VOX.
  • Carry Handle.
  • Built-in CTCSS and DCS.
  • ARTS™ (Auto-Range Transponder System).
  • Smart Search™ Automatic Memory Loading System.
  • Spectrum Scope.
  • 200 Regular Memories, plus Home Channels and Band-Limit (PMS) Memories.
  • Alpha-Numeric Labeling of Memory Channels.
  • Automatic Power-Off (APO) and Tx Time-Out Timer (TOT) Features.
  • CAT System Computer Control Capability Cloning Capability.
  • Battery-Powered Field Operation
  • Base Station Operation
  • Rugged, High-Output Power Amplifier
  • Built-in Digital Signal Processing
  • Outstanding Features for the CW Expert

Battery-Powered Field Operation

The bottom side of the FT-897 contains a “power source tray” which can accommodate up to two of the optional 13.2 Volt, 4500 mAh FNB-78 Ni-MH Battery Packs. This gives it completely portable operation without any external power source. Maximum power output is 20 Watts (all bands) during battery operation, and with two FNB-78s you may expect up to eight hours of operating time (TX 5%, RX 5%, standby 90%). What’s more, you can charge one of the FNB-78 Battery Packs while operating the FT-897 off the other pack—ideal for situations where solar or other power sources are available.

The optional CD-24 Charge Adapter provides the necessary voltage for charging, and it may be used in conjunction with an external 13.8 Volt source, or the optional PA-26 AC Adapter may be used to power the CD-24.

DC 13.8V Mobile Operation

Using the FT-897D in mobile operations is pure joy! The combination of the FT-897 and the ATAS-120 Auto-Tune Antenna System provides automated operation from HF through the UHF spectrum!

Using an external 13.8 Volt power source, you get a full 100 Watts of power output on HF and six meters (144 MHz: 50 W, 430 MHz: 20 W).

Base Station Operation

The FT-897’s outstanding fundamental performance invites expansion into a full-featured base station. The optional FP-30 Internal Power Supply provides operation from AC sources, and the clamp-on FC-30 Automatic Antenna Tuner option expands the impedance range of the transceiver. Round out your station with the MD-200A8X Deluxe Desk Microphone and the VL-1000 Quadra System Linear Amplifier for world-class performance at home!

The power source tray of the FT-897 is designed to accommodate the optional FP-30 Internal Power Supply, allowing full-power operation from 100-120 V or 200-240 V AC power sources. The quiet switching-regulator design of the FP-30 is tolerant of AC input voltage variations, making it ideal for DX-pedition use! And to extend the impedance bandwidth of your antenna system, the innovative FC-30 Automatic Antenna Tuner option clamps onto the left side of the FT-897 in seconds!

Rugged, High-Output Power Amplifier

Achieving 100 Watts of power output from such a compact package is a difficult mechanical and electrical engineering task. On HF, push-pull 2SC5125 Bipolar transistors driven by push-pull 2SK2975s provide the 100-Watt power capability, while on VHF maximum efficiency during battery operation is yielded by 2SC3102 bipolar PA transistors. The rugged aluminum die-cast chassis provides a solid foundation for the heat sink for the power amplifier, with a total of almost 40 cubic inches of heat sink surface area available. With its thermostatically-controlled twin cooling fans, the FT-897 will stand up to the rigors of DX-pedition or home contest use, with dissipation capability to spare!

Built-in Digital Signal Processing

The FT-897 includes a wide array of analog and DSP filters to help you dig out those weak DX signals on a crowded band! One-touch activation of the DSP filters, plus a convenient “DSP” LED on the front panel, enhance the ease of using the DSP. DSP Bandpass Filters, Noise Reduction, and Auto-Notch Filter circuits are included.

Look for Part #2 in this review of the 897 tomorrow for information on antenna, accessories, etc.

This is a “BUY!”

 

 

 

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

Will we really be hit with an EMP? (part #2)

EMP Strikenote: article first appeared in December 2015

In part #1 yesterday I laid out the case for the probability of an EMP strike on America. I started laying out the case for the severity of the impact of such a strike. This article, Part #2, finish up on the impact severity, and end with what you can do to mitigate the EMP threat.

It is probably a good idea to read Part #1 first if you haven’t already done so.

Severity –

The experts and planners really don’t know for sure just what the extent of and EMP blast effects might be. Yes, there are books written talking about a 90% die-off in the first year. But, they are writers not experts in EMP warfare, they are novel authors.

I had the opportunity to talk to a 40 year expert that worked for Motorola and was a professor of electronics at a major university. We discussed the EMP potential. He explained to me that all their own testing was different than the hype and scare that we hear about in the media and read about in the books.

He was referring to all the post-EMP books hyping pre-computer controlled cars. Granted, vehicles with all the EMP resistant BOVdifferent computer technology would be far more susceptible to being rendered useless by an EMP strike. So some cars beginning in the mid-70’s began using integrated circuits, actual computer modules were about 3 – 5 years later. Obviously any vehicle without an integrated circuit board or computer module would be far less susceptible to damage from an EMP strike.

He went on to explain that not even the cars with computers that were all “zapped” had died an electronic death. The EMP pulses that they tested with only killed about 60 – 70% of cars with computers. I found that very interesting. He explained that sometimes all they had to do was disconnect a battery and the car would survive just fine. And not all the batteries were automatically destroyed by the pulses either. So the outcome for vehicle transportation may not be as dreadful as some would lead us to believe.

Electronics were a little different in their testing. If electronics weren’t protected they usually got wiped out. But, they also discovered that protecting the delicate electronics wasn’t all that difficult. They found the concept was to direct the energy of the pulse around the electronic gadget not allowing any of the energy to come in contact with the piece of equipment.

When I asked him how difficult it was, he chuckled and said, “Not very.” He told me that placing electronics in a metal box on insulated material should be just fine.

To me the operative word was “should.”

He said there was no way to conclusively say what kind of metal box worked all the time. And the reason is the EMP pulse itself. The energy flows through the air at different frequencies. The key was to block that specific frequency of energy associated with that specific EMP blast. And he also told me that there couldn’t be any gaps in the metal box, a tight metallic seal was paramount.

By then my eyes were kind of glazing over, I was getting lost. Then he said it was pretty simple to test. He said take an FM radio, tune it to a clearly heard station, and turn the volume up. Then place it in your metal box on insulated material. Slowly start to close the lid. If the radio reception died away and you could no longer hear the radio then the box was blocking the energy frequency of most EMP pulses.

He did qualify that by saying that to the best of their knowledge at that time EMP, energy pulse frequencies were roughly that of FM stations. And that is why if you could block the FM reception, you could block the pulse energy. And technically you weren’t blocking the energy pulse. The metal box was moving the energy pulse around the outside of the box not allowing the energy to come into contact with the radio’s antenna.

He also said it would be a good idea to remove the battery and the antenna from the radio. That would further assist in keep the energy out of the radio since both of those items attracted energy. We talked about wrapping the radio in a layer of insulation and he thought it would help if there were no gaps in the wrapping.

Faraday Cages –

We talked about Faraday Cages for awhile, he was not impressed. He thought they were overrated and pretty Farday Cage protection against EMPmuch was just a fancy and more expensive version of a metal box. He even mentioned that a garbage can with no holes or cracks, with a tight fitting lid, and lined with a non-conductive material could accomplish the same thing…maybe even far better.

The idea was simply to keep the energy from entering or contacting the piece of electronic gear that you were trying to protect.

A Faraday Cage was simply a fancy metal mesh box, that might not work as well as a metal container such as a garbage can mentioned a minute ago. We again talked about steel garbage cans with a plastic lining (i.e. a plastic garbage can) as an option. He said that would probably be just fine if the garbage can lid was tight fitting and let no gaps in the lid’s seal. We talked a little more and he liked my idea of using crumpled up aluminum foil as a “gasket” to ensure that there was no gap at all between the lid and the garbage can lip.

Layer after layer –

After thinking it through for awhile I talked with another buddy of mine, a serious and intelligent prepper. And the qualifications to be called such. We talked for awhile about EMP strikes and the potential for damage. Mostly sticking to how to protect radio equipment from damage.

When as was said and done we decided that we would wrap our gear in non-conductive material ensuring that there were no gaps. Then wrap that bundle in aluminum foil without gaps or open seems. So, imagine a bubble-wrap envelope sealed tight with clear shipping tape. Then that bundle is wrapped tightly with aluminum foil with absolutely no gaps in the wrapping.

Then use the non-conducting bubble wrap again, then another foil wrap, and then finish them off with a final layer of non-conducting bubble wrap. When we were all done with that, we placed them in a metal box with a tight fitting lid that left no gaps between the lid and the box.

I thought through that a lot. Basically we would be doing what my expert buddy had talked about. End result…redirecting the energy around the piece of electronic gear you are trying to protect.

Now what?

What to do now?” is the big question isn’t it. And honestly, that is up to you. I didn’t say that to be smug or avoid answering the question. It really is up to you.

Here’s how I see it…

  1. If you take your radios and EMP proof them in a metal box, then you don’t get to use the radio. You don’t get the operational practice or get to have fun with the radios.
  2. The EMP pulse, if it does occur, might be on a completely different frequency than what you have prepared for. Therefore your box is a complete failure and your radios get fried anyways.
  3. We may never get hit with an EMP pulse. Remember, it is rated in the low or very low probability category. So you wasted all that time, effort, and money for nothing.
  4. Or you can hedge your bet. The Baofeng UV-5RA radio is very inexpensive. Buy a set to use with all the right accessories, etc., especially the programming software. Get them all set up and enjoy them. Then buy just the radio itself, a back-up  for each radio you actually use. Program them, wrap ’em up, box ’em up for that potential EMP strike. And just to be on the safe and plush side…throw in the old family laptop with RT Systems programming software loaded on it, along with the cable and DVD.
Become obsessive?

No! While the potential for an EMP strike severity could be quite high if we are struck, the probability of being struck is still quite low. So there is no reason to start obsessing over being hit with an EMP.

And honestly, what part of your preps are truly dependent on electronics or batteries? For me it is:

  • Radios
  • Tactical flashlights
  • Solar generators
  • Night vision
  • GPS

Yup! That’s it for my dependency on electronics and batteries. So I have to ask myself the question, “Could I survive without all of the above?”

“Of course I could!” is the easy and accurate answer. Would it be more convenient with them? Yes. But we could get long without them.

So you really have to ask yourself the same questions –

What preps of your depend on electronics and batteries?

Could I get by without those things?

Summary –

As far as priorities go I would put EMP-proofing your electronics way, way down the list. I would say look into it after; a year’s worth of food, water, and garden seed. And then after, considerable medical supplies, weapons, and 1000’s of rounds of ammo. Then put in water filtration and purification capability, a good tents, clothing, and quality tactical gear. Then…and only then, would I consider worrying about protecting my gear from an EMP.

This has been a really long article on EMPs, but I thought it prudent to go through it in detail. But, by now you also have a pretty good idea of what you need to be doing about it.

Now…just go do it!  “whatever “it” may be.

 

 

 

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See Content Use Policy for more information.

Will we really be hit with an EMP? (part #1)

EMP Strike electromagnetic pulse note: article first appeared in December 2015

I’ve pretty much stayed away from the whole EMP subject over the years. I’ve been asked about it a bunch of times but given some pretty vague answers. I guess it is time I get serious and share my real opinions on it.

Background –

My EMP opinion has changed over the years. Remember, I worked with intelligence information when I was in the Navy back in the 1970’s. I can tell you that back then during the Cold War there wasn’t any war-based “measured response” option. There also wasn’t any of thought of a weapon to do little damage to conquer the Soviet Union or any East Block country. We were in it to win it! And that meant nuke the crap out of them.

Sure, they knew about EMP effects for nuclear explosions even back then. But that was a distant concern, issue, or topic. What we wanted was to devastate them, their military, their people, their infrastructure, just basically blow em up.

But, as times have changed I have looked at what would Russia want to do to us in terms of war-based destruction. Russia is short of resources, all kinds of resources with the possible exception of fossil fuels. That being the case, I don’t think Russia would want to slick us off like glass with nukes. Well, with one possible exception, if we hit them first. If we would throw our missiles at them first, they would throw everything they had back at us as fast as they could turn keys and push buttons.

If you think about it, why would Russia, or even China, want to turn us into a nuclear wasteland? I simply don’t think Iran Nuke weaponsthey would.In all reality…they would love to have access to our resources…natural and man-made.

Iran on the other hand has the stupid 12th Imman, end of the world thing as part of their Muslim Shia beliefs. Those crazies would nuke us just to fulfill their desire to expedite the end of the world. But, Iran would hit Israel before they would hit us.

The crazies in North Korea, although crazy, don’t do anything without the approval of China. NK won’t nuke us unless China tells them it’s OK. North Korea really doesn’t want war. They know they would lose. But, they want the attention and associated power that comes with threatening war.

We are China’s biggest customer of the goods they produce. We spend huge amounts of money buying their stuff year in and year out. China loves those dollars! Why would they want to blow-up their best customer?

Well, there actually is a point when China might make a move against us. China has been an empire for 1000’s of years. Yes, China is currently a communist country, but it no less an empire now than it was 500 or 1000 years ago. When it comes to international politics China views everything in a very large context. I am talking in terms of 100’s of years to accomplish something, for sure decades.

Let there be no doubt in your mind, China expects to be a, if not the, world dominating empire. It is only a matter of timing for them. When China decides that the timing is right, they will use all appropriate tools available to them to accomplish their goals. And using nukes against us is seen as a strategy, nuclear weapons are nothing more than tools to them. Albeit maybe not their first or most desired option.

That being said, I do not think that China wants to slick us off either. It just wouldn’t fit their history-based reputation. Sure, they want to beat us, and beat us decisively, but I don’t see them going into “annihilation mode” on us. I think they want to subjugate not eliminate. They like our natural resources and ability to grow lots of food.

You also have Pakistan and Turkey as nuclear armed countries. While they are both supposedly secular governments, they are both Muslim countries. Pakistan has really moved towards being a Islamic government, Turkey is now maybe the most Muslim of both countries. When Pakistan completes its total transition to an Islamic state, then I would move them into a similar category as Iran. Same would be true for Turkey. I think it won’t be long for both of them to finalize that transition.

So what about the EMP thing again?

Remember, I look at “threats” as “risks.” And I then look at all of it in terms of “risk mitigation”. Risk is judgement based on probability and severity of the risk actually occurring. I look at an EMP strike the same way.

Probability –

I see the risk of us being hit by a nuclear weapon that generates an EMP as low…very low at this time actually. The reason I give it such a low probability is their fear of retaliation. Russia and China have no desire to exchange a nuclear strike with us. Iran would probably love it but they aren’t ready for that yet. Pakistan and Turkey probably aren’t ’t too far behind Iran but they are maintaining a resemblance of normal behaviors. North Korea, well, they are complete nuts jobs in that country, so I don’t expect them to actually launch a nuke at us.

So based on all of that, I see the probability as pretty dang low. However, 20 years ago I would have given it a zero chance. 10 years ago, slightly more than zero. When Iran did the nuke deal with Obozo I believe Iran’s potential use of a nuke against another country went to 100%. Their use of a nuke against us is maybe at 50%. Iran nuking Israel………..just a matter of time. It’s not an “if”……it’s a “when.”

So now I have to rate the probability as on the chart.

Severity –

Here is where it could get ugly. If anyone launches a nuke at us and it actually detonates on US soil, it will be devastating regardless of where it hits. It will be the blow against us that challenges, and perhaps negates, our super-power status. If we are hit, and we don’t hit back, we will be re-categorized to the group that includes France, England, Italy…maybe worse. If we are hit and we hit back, then we can expect WWIII. And should that happen, an EMP is the least of our problems.

So let’s look at the severity if it is just an EMP. By the way, it would be more along the lines of North Korea going rogue and hitting us with an EMP without China telling them to. However, there is a potential scenario where China would tell them to hit us with an EMP just to weaken us and test out retaliation resolve.

Whatever the reason we were hit, the outcome would be very damaging. The damage would be two-fold. 1) the EMP-Strike hits our power gridactual direct result damage to infrastructure, 2) the economic fallout.

Economic Collapse from an EMPThe economic damage would be far worse than the direct damage. The stock markets would crash, the economy would nose dive. It would be economic Armageddon for awhile. Mostly due to banking being out of business. Yeah, completely out of business. Modern banking is all computer based with that information being transferred between customer and banks, banks and business, etc. entirely by electronics (i.e. the Internet). An EMP would fry most large-scale electronic systems, including the Internet and telecommunications.

EMP Strike effectsThe direct damage is a little less clear. EMP damage is directly related to a few things:

  1. The size of the weapon as described in “megatons”
  2. The altitude above the surface of the earth
  3. Your relative location to the blast area

The absolute worse location to be at the time would be directly under the atmospheric blast. As the zone expanded outward, the impact would lessen. But, that would be in direct relation to the size of the detonated weapon. The bigger the weapon, the larger the affected area. However, the further away from the blast you were, the more diminished the impact would be.

Now is when it gets blurry. And I will cover that tomorrow when I finish this 2-part series.

 

 

 

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