CQ CQ CQ – #HamRadio Saturday and a UPS story

Since last I posted I have had a few developments.

Firstly, one of you readers, our own WB0YLE, sent a spiffy Kenwood transceiver.  Another is sending a mic.  An antenna (and a tuner would be a good idea), and key should be on the horizon.  Almost there.

Meanwhile, I made a contact (with the same guy who sent the Kenwood) via Echolink (you must be licensed to use it.).  He has made his Echolink available to us.  WB0YLE-R or 554286.

Nextly, I had heard from a woman religious, whom I believe to live a somewhat hermetical life, that an Italian priest near to her is also a ham.  I have an indirect email contact with him.

Also, a layman here in the Diocese of Madison made an interesting proposal.  He offered some equipment and expertise to help create a station, which could even be the diocesan station, for the purpose of a) teaching school kids about amateur radio and even b) creating a Catholic Net between dioceses which might be useful if, quod Deus avertat, there might be some sort of TEOTWAWKI event.  It would be very interesting to have, say, a provincial net that might provide services if, quod Deus averruncet, things broke down.  I am led to ask: Is there a Catholic Ham presence in your diocese?

JuiceboxAnd then there’s my Juicebox.  I have a Juicebox from Hardened Power Systems (tell them Fr. Z sent you) that isn’t cooperating.  It is a selfcontained portable power unit, with a solar panel for recharging (and a wall plug) unit that lives in a .50 cal ammo can.  It has usb ports, Anderson powerpolls, cig lighter style plugins, etc.  This is how they describe their newest model (not mine): “On a single charge, the JuiceBox R2 can do any one of the following: Charge a typical laptop seven times Charge a Smart Phone 60 times Charge a Cell Phone 90 times Run an I-Pad® for nearly 120 hours Run a portable radio for weeks Run a GPS for 170 hours Run a desktop fan for 25 hours Light up a campsite for several nights).”  There is a internal compartment into which you can slide a foldable solar panel that will under normal circumstances charge the unit.  That said, mine sat long enough without use that it discharged to the point that I couldn’t get it to charge.  I contacted the company.  They said to charge it from my car battery and, if possible, also plug in the solar panel, since they are on the same bus.  I tried it for a while and the meters came back to life. When I have my next longish car trip, I’ll haul it along for a charge.  Gotta have that portable power!

One of you readers sent a simple Baofeng handheld.  I have it fired up as well.  It contacts the repeater easily.  Then again, I’m on a very high spot and the repeater is just a stone’s throw.

I’ve started doing a little Morse code practice and I’ve cracked the books for the Extra exam.  If nothing else, the Morse will be helpful for tapping messages on the pipe that runs through our cells in the Priesterblock or flashing mirrors to our resistance units.  Not only that, Morse is … well… it’s part of the whole radio thing!

Dot-Dash by Dot-Dash

(Before anyone asks, “But Father!  But Father!” with a confused liberal gurgle, “What’s next? Don’t you put all your time into hating Vatican II?”  Next… perhaps EMT courses?  They are offered at a nearby college. Between providing coms, laying down suppressing fire, or absolving sins, tending to people’s physical wounds could be useful.  It seems to me that stopping serious bleeding is pretty helpful in a pinch.  Why not be a “multitool?  Take it beyond basic CPR.  I still need to contact a doc here who can coach me on suturing. I’ve practiced a bit, but… To Do List.)

You know… come to think of it… fathers of families, mothers of families, should know all these things too!  No?

Not entirely unrelated, I had to replace a UPS yesterday.  The uninterruptable power source (UPS) I was using for my TV monitor and related stuff up and died on me.  I swiftly obtained another (UK HERE), somewhat more capable unit.


I can’t stress enough how useful these UPS gizmos are.  They are essentially a surge protector combined with a battery which is kept charged.  If there is a power loss, the battery, without interruption, continues to supply power for as long as the battery charge lasts.  That can give you time to shut down equipment properly, if it is longer power outage, or continue to work if it is brief without the outage screwing things up.  It also protects from the inevitable surges that occur.  I have used UPS from different companies, but the one that delivered also the best customer service, by far, has been APC.  I have a couple big ones that power and protect my desktop and monitors.  They come in different sizes (physically and in terms of plugins and volt ampere output power capacity).  If you do anything important with electronic stuff and you don’t have these… rethink your strategy.  I have read accounts of a UPS saving the memory of an embroidering machine, of powering a small fridge that cooled a person’s meds during a regional black out… etc.   Frankly, for the later, I’d want the Juicebox, too!   When I was overseas in Rome and accessing my network and Slingbox, etc., back in these USA, UPSs kept my network going even though the current at the fabled Sabine Farm was erratic.  I used remote network power switches to recycle equipment, but that’s another pot of stew.

Anyway… take stock, friends, and make a To Do List.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Brick by Brick, Ham Radio and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. As an IT professional, I feel obligated to note that many people have unreasonable expectations of what a UPS can do. If you want to run a refrigerator or an air conditioner, you need a portable generator. A small UPS will keep a computer running for perhaps 15-30 minutes. The purpose is not to keep you working any length of time, but to give you time to hit Save and then click Shut Down. If you have a few of them around, one could be designated for the purpose of recharging a cellular phone, which might be useful if the cellular service in the area is still available. Also, they should be replaced every few years, even if they seem to be working okay. The surge protection part loses effectiveness each time it takes a hit and may eventually be almost useless, and the unit may not actually complain about that. That said, in our company, we sell them like candy. Everyone gets one, standard– a client has to be really cheap and insist that it be taken off the bill in order not to get one with a new system, and when they go, we usually just replace them automatically.

  2. Rouxfus says:

    Joseph Canizaro (W5WQI) of Metairie, Louisiana is an avid ham radio operator. He has been a successful real estate developer in New Orleans and is a generous benefactor of the Church. He is mentioned in Raymond Arroyo’s biography of Mother Angelica as one of the benefactors behind the establishment of the EWTN shortwave broadcasting initiative.

  3. Glennonite says:

    I thank you again, Father, for another useful “heads-up” in the TEOTWAWKI category. I take your words with attention. I have ordered the Juicebox R2 today. It’ll be stowed in my BO-truck until needed. [Use it once in a while!]

  4. acardnal says:

    Father, have you considered using your Buddipole with the Kenwood txcvr?

  5. acardnal says: Buddipole

    Funny you should mention it. Today I pulled it from storage. It is actually a Buddistick, not a Buddipole. I’d like to have one of the Buddipole packages (dipole – self-contained and high quality).

  6. MWindsor says:

    Father Z – You should have a look at the AlexLoop Walkham if you’re at all interested in a portable antenna running 5 or 10 watts. (If you want more power than that, then you’ll need something like the Buddipole/Buddistick.)

    The AlexLoop is a mag loop style antenna, so it’s a great deal more compact and lighter than the Buddi systems. I had little luck with the Buddipole, but have gotten 5500 miles on 5 watts with my AlexLoop. I can bug out with a full HF kit in an ammo can that includes radio (FT-817ND), batteries, Goal Zero solar panels, and a backup end fed 10m vertical.

    I’ve taken this rig on SOTA expeditions where I had to hike for an hour after getting to the site. It all fits in my backpack and it works really well. Now, if I could only find a way to drive off the ticks…

  7. MWindsor says: I can bug out with a full HF kit in an ammo can

    Send some photos of your set up. It sounds great.

    AlexLoop Walkham… something like this? HERE

    And from my years in N Minnesota, I can confirm: ticks suck.

  8. The echolink node noted above has a capacity of 30 users. Couple of items to mention:
    1. Since it is running as a node in my Asterisk repeater network (http://stats.allstarlink.org/getstatus.cgi?27294) not as a native Echolink application, the registration database is updated every 10 minutes from echolink.org; accordingly, if you fire up your application as a direct connection, it will fail the connection as being unregistered. If you go through an echolink proxy (which are pretty much online all the time and registered in the database), you will connect immediately…however, most proxies are limited in terms of either elapsed time you’re allowed to be connected, or absolute numbers or geographic location. Best thing to do, if you want to use the WB0YLE-R node, is to start your application, go off and brew some Mystic Monk decaf, and come back; the valid registration database will probably be good to go.

    2. If you want to experiment, you can register at http://www.allstarlink.org (again, you have to prove you’re licensed) and use the web transceiver that is on that site to connect to allstar node 27782, which is the same logical node as the echolink node mentioned above. Note, I turn off the RF simplex radio every night at 7PM (it’s a remote base for W3SK), so, you won’t go out over the air, but the same licensing strictures apply, since you can link that node to any of the other 3K+ allstar nodes that are currently online around the world that WILL have an RF emitter…

    3. Field day is coming up. Should we try and see if we can make a WDTPRS clean sweep?

    4. If you look up my QRZ record, I have stacks and stacks of QSLs for both of my special event stations for 150th Gettysburg and Appomattox events. QSL direct, and I’ll send you the cards.

    Hope I didn’t go on too long, Father. But, thinking that it might be nice to set up a WDTPRS net on a regular weeknight using the Echolink/Allstar node that you mentioned?

  9. Bryan D. Boyle: That’s all great stuff.

    Perhaps someone could suggest a regular day and time for Echolink?

  10. jflare says:

    I recall a few years ago, I’d had the thought that I’d like to have the skills of an EMT. When I checked into it, such training seemed to me as though it’d be..pretty costly. Then again, I hadn’t checked at community colleges. Within the next few years though, I’d like to begin working toward a Pharmacy degree.
    I’m intrigued by the thought about the sutures; I’d had much the same idea in terms of being able to aid people in a crisis. I had mostly assumed that such techniques would require training for surgery.

    I’m curious: How have you practiced sutures?
    If it’s possible, that seems to me a useful skill to acquire.

  11. Mike Morrow says:

    I’m sure your “…Morse will be helpful for tapping messages on the pipe that runs through our cells…” was made partially in jest, but it may be worth noting that Morse fails in tap-transmitted communication…it is impossible to distinguish a tap for a dot from a tap for a dash.

    Instead you will need the famous tap code that was used by POWs during the Vietnam war described at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tap_code .

  12. MWindsor says:

    Hi Fr. Z – Yes, that’s the antenna. But the last time I checked it was $100 cheaper on gigaparts.com and through Ham Radio Outlet.

    I have some pictures on my qrz.com page. I’m not exactly sure how to find them since I’m looking at the editing page, but try this:


    The first one is a SOTA expedition from the top of Winding Stair Mountain in Oklahoma. The others are in my backyard. The next two are the entire kit laid out, with the AlexLoop bag included (more than just the ammo can). The next one is the AlexLoop deployed. Next is everything that fits in the ammo can (big orange ammo can, not a .50 cal metal one). The last one is the rig ready to work.

    Any questions, e-mail might be easier. My public e-mail is markwindsor3 {a t] yahoooooooo #dot# com. (Thinly vailed e-mail disguise.)

  13. MWindsor says:

    Actually, try this:


    I managed to get the photos added to my member page. Anybody know how to rotate the one that’s sideways?

  14. MWindsor says:

    Last thing – relative to the bug out statement – I use a Kelty Redwing 50 backpack, and all this fits into it nicely (though a bit heavy). I can pack shelter and enough water and food to be out for a couple of days, or with a water supply where I’m going I can be out for a week if needed. But for a week long adventure things get very heavy and the hiking range is minimal for a guy in his mid-50’s. Add the bow and arrows, shotgun, pistol, and ammo, and I could probably be out indefinitely, but I wouldn’t be able to waddle more than a mile from the car, and that only over flat ground.

  15. KAS says:

    If anyone in Midland TX needs to talk radio, I know a guy… Wish I could get out that way and let him teach me what I won’t find in books.

    Fr. Z, do you think ham radio will be of any use if/when persecutions begin?

    I keep swinging between accepting the repeating pattern and where history says it will go and denial because I do not wish it to go there.

  16. KAS: ham radio will be of any use if/when persecutions begin?

    Yes, in a limited way. Far more if there is a break down in services.

  17. Weetabix says:

    Re the Baofeng: Get the CHIRP programming software for it and a programming cable. You can find the cable on Amazon. You can download an image of the radio into a CSV file that you can edit in Excel. In the file, you program all the memories as well as which ones you want to scan, then you just download it back to the radio.

    I’ve programmed all the local repeaters, all the “bubba” frequencies (GRMS, FRS, MURS), the weather channels, the local ambulance dispatch, and some of the local police channels. I have three Baofengs, each with all the memories programmed in, but one is set to scan just the bubba frequencies, one to scan the repeaters (including the 2M and 70cm call frequencies), and one to scan all. I don’t have any of them scan the NOAA frequencies because they broadcast all the time. If you set up your freqs and your scanning right, you can listen for whatever interests you.

    Don’t transmit on anything but the ham frequencies, though. This radio isn’t certified for that. However, in a dire emergency, I’d consider transmitting on them figuring a fine is better than dying.

    If you’re interested, email me, and I can tell you the problems I had to work around and help you set up CSV files for your location. The bubba, call, and NOAA frequencies would be the same.


  18. Weetabix says:

    One other thing for grins: You can program a name for each radio. You could have it display, “Fr. Z” when you turn it on. Mine say “Bubba,” “Repeater,” or “AllScan” so I know which scanning setup I have. Trivial, but fun.

  19. Weetabix says: Get the CHIRP programming software for it and a programming cable.

    I actually did that. I tried to boot up the disc that came with it, but it won’t cooperate.

    Good idea about the different radios. They are inexpensive enough so that it isn’t burdensome. I’ll put a couple more on the wishlist! Who knows?

  20. Weetabix says:

    CHIRP was a bit finicky. I think I downloaded it from whatever is the CHIRP website. I couldn’t get much help from the BaoFeng disc, either, as I recall.

    If you find a local, computer-savvy person, they should be able to get it set up for you. After it’s running, it’s a peach.

  21. Weetabix says:

    What do you know? There’s a wishlist link right there on the sidebar. One more BaoFeng coming your way right now. Ain’t the internet great?

  22. Weetabix: I got the CHIRP installed. I’m working on making the radio talk to the computer now.

  23. Weetabix says:

    I had issues getting it to find the right “COM” port. I just plugged it in to various USB ports and changed the “COM” setting until it talked. Then I put a sticky on that port with the COM setting that worked. For mine, it was a port on one side that it decided it liked as COM5.

  24. Connor Keef says:

    In honor of the vanity license fee going away, you should get a vanity call! I see that W9FRZ is available…

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