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  1. #261
    Senior Member Doug_M's Avatar
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    Never seen/used one in person but they have a decent reputation. The specs look like it would cover what you'd need. But if you're thinking preparedness use then you need to think about antenna options. Will it be a permanent install? Will you erect an antenna only as needed? There are a myriad of antenna choices, every one of them a compromise of sorts. And where can you deploy said antenna? That is, to me, far more important than what HF radio you choose. Almost any HF radio from the big three manufacturers made in the past 20 years will do just fine. Whereas some antennas (or sometimes just how they're deployed) suck hard.
    Dictionary of the future:
    Global Warming was a popular computer simulation game,
    where the only way to win was not to play.

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  3. #262
    The Gunsmithing Moderator blacksmithden's Avatar
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    I picked up a Yaesu FT891 a while back and I'm quite impressed with it. https://www.radioworld.ca/ya-ft891
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    The High River Gun Grab - NEVER FORGET !!!!
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  5. #263
    Senior Member Hidyn's Avatar
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    I definitely agree that working through the different menus can be a pain. I deal with a lot of equipment where options are buried in menus. I would hope the DSP option is included in the Canadian version, but it might not be. Digital sound processing, right?

    Antennas are definitely the most important part. In my head, I'm thinking permanent installation at home. I've read a fair bit about mobile HF use and I've seen a few mobile rigs while at a radio flea market this year. I have to say it appears pretty impractical. I can see having fun making it work but I just don't see myself attempting it.

    I can definitely see bringing HF on the road though, with a portable solar/battery setup to be deployed while stopped with some wire antennas.

    Since I see it as a potentially multi use rig in that sense, I was looking at the ft891 as well. It probably handles getting dragged around a lot better, and while I dont intend to mount it in a vehicle, a detachable face plate is always welcome!

    I don't imagine not having an antenna tuner would be a big deal, as I suspect that out in the woods I would be cutting a specific antenna to reach a specific contact.

    Of course, i have zero experience so I could be horribly mistaken!

    But no one jumped out with "But you NEED PSK31!" Which is what I'm most worried about. Whatever I buy is likely to be my only one so I don't want to handicap myself in an emergency capacity. Which sounds pretty unlikely.

    I'm thinking really any of the big three that does USB/LSB on the frequencies from 0-30 is probably all I'll need for passing information in a grid down situation, yes?
    Last edited by Hidyn; 10-09-2019 at 06:22 PM.
    "You can break the surgical procedure of removing an appendix down into about 30-35 individual steps each of which is not overly complicated or beyond an enthusiastic amateur."

    -Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd ed.

  6. #264
    Senior Member Doug_M's Avatar
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    Radioworld.ca says it includes the DSP module. I've had a radio without DSP, one with 1st gen DSP and my current radio has the latest non-SDR DSP and I wouldn't go back down to the first two radios. DSP isn't a must for an emergency radio I suppose, but modern DSP does more than make the audio pleasant. It helps you hear stations you otherwise couldn't. For example on my Kenwood TS-590S its DSP also allows me to narrow the bandwidth of the signal I'm listening to from the bottom and/or top. This was traditionally done by crystal filters. I don't think the IC-718 can do it with its basic DSP. It uses traditional filters but they are optional (one may be included) and require soldering. Plus the filters are discontinued I see.

    The FT-891 looks to have better DSP as its DSP is used for filtering rather than traditional filters. Still, there is going to be a downside to it (I can't say what that is because I haven't researched it) due to its size. Something was compromised as most comparable radios are twice the size and those cases don't tend to have many void spaces.

    As for dragging a radio around. I can say from personal experience the only issue is the knobs. Whatever radio you get if you get a hard case with some foam that you cut out to fit the radio you will be good to go. Don't forget in a "field" situation you'll need a power source. Deep cycle battery perhaps. Or a generator. Generators can introduce noise which will make hearing weaker signals difficult if not impossible at times.

    Most modern radios have antenna tuners built in that can handle a 3 to 1 SWR match or better with ease. But for field operations, as you've suggested, wire dipole antennas cut to a single band will work well and won't need a tuner. 20, 40 and 80 meters is all you'd need in an emergency scenario IMHO.

    Lots of good information on antennas on the internet but there is just as much back info too. I can't recommend the ARRL's Antenna Book enough. With that book, some wire and a few bits and bobs and you'll be able to make all the antennas you'll need.

    I don't know about peppers and SHTF types, but for actual EMO there are certain digital modes that are preferred. Winlink (which gets much derision undeservedly I think, as it is also used by rich yachtsmen) and PSK robust modes (not the regular PSK31) are commonly used for message traffic. See the presentation here: http://www.arrl.org/nbems

    Of course digital modes introduce another layer of complexity and possible failure, namely a computer. That is where CW comes in. I've set a personal goal to learn CW but I have to admit my commitment isn't there yet lol. But all CW needs is any old radio and a wire antenna. Doesn't get more emergency comms ready than that.

    The used market is worth looking into. Hams tend to way over price their gear because in the decades past it lasted. But technology has moved on. It moves on slower in the Ham world because the market is smaller than the regular consumer market. So manufacturers, when they put out a new model of radio, they intend to get a decade of production out of it. But still, we're well into the SDR age now and the previous generation is the generation of advanced DSP. But yet hams still over price the gear from ~2005 and early.

    I picked up a used Kenwood TS-590S with extras for $1000. It was a steal. Have a look at this popular Canadian site for used gear (it's where I bought mine): http://www.kwarc.org/swapshop/. (there's an IC-718 there for $385). If something catches your eye and you're not sure about it, post it here and we'll check it out together.
    Dictionary of the future:
    Global Warming was a popular computer simulation game,
    where the only way to win was not to play.

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  8. #265
    Senior Member Hidyn's Avatar
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    Wow, it is next to impossible for me to avoid rabbit holes when it comes to amateur radio! I've just spend the last couple hours pouring over specs and reviews.

    I do have to say that I am leaning towards the FT-891 right now.

    The people who have them sure do rave about the DSP! Pleasant audio isn't really important to me, I've never been an audiophile. Intelligibility is the single most important to me, and if it helps you pick up stations that you might otherwise not be able to, well that's obviously a win!

    I have a pretty spiffy soldering iron, and respectable skills to match, but I'm not sure I want to be hunting down discontinued filters that I dont even fully understand to try and upgrade the radio unless it's going to give me a very large, very cost effective boost in capability.

    The Yaesu also has a USB port, which is designed for full control of the rig by computer, which should hopefully make digital communication easier.

    As for the prepper/survivalist angle, generally speaking, people tend to follow as best they can what first responders or the military are doing. A lot of the conversation stems around what equipment and doctrine translates well to the prepper, vs what doesn't. I tried to download the presentation on NBEMS, however I don't own a computer and the phone won't do it. I'll buy a computer, for sure. Especially for the digital modes. Sending things in document form is a huge boon.

    CW sounds like another place the Icom radio falls a bit flat, some reviewers strongly recommended installing additional filters if you intend to use it for CW. I didn't see many people talking about CW with the yaesu. I think I remember one person saying that's what they used it for and they seemed happy.

    Seeing as how saving myself from certain doom by tapping out Morse code on the hull of a sunken submarine is number 32 on my bucket list, I feel I should learn CW. That way I can express my abject terror effectively.

    What's the deal with SDR, anyways? Is it just software running a traditional transceiver? Are these USB dongles I see for sale supposed to take the place of a transceiver?

    Good find on that IC-718 though! For that price I'm thinking that everything else is just me chasing my tail. The Yaesu might be the better radio, but it's tough to beat that price for function! If it's still around after I ponder a bit, I may end up going that route.
    "You can break the surgical procedure of removing an appendix down into about 30-35 individual steps each of which is not overly complicated or beyond an enthusiastic amateur."

    -Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd ed.

  9. #266
    Senior Member Doug_M's Avatar
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    Yeah I'd love to get an FT-891 myself for field use, but the budget says I need to buy a handgun (post election of course) instead lol. You're right about intelligibility. That's what DSP is for, not pleasant audio. Though they don't have to be mutually exclusive. The USB connection is a bonus as many older radios have an older D9 serial port and you have to muck with a USB->Serial dongle. Some radios also have a sound card built-in which makes digital mode use even simpler. Though an external sound card like a Signalink isn't overly expensive.

    SDR is completely different than a traditional transceiver. It has gone through several generations already and the current gear (i.e. about 2017 onwards) is leaps and bounds ahead of earlier generations. While they started out as black boxes with no controls, everything done via computer, the recent models from the big three are traditional looking radios with knobs and buttons and no computer necessary. I don't have one, but I know when the time comes to replace my current radio my next one will be one of these modern SDR's.

    As for that great priced IC-718, I say go for it! It'll give you something to learn on and when you are ready to upgrade (it'll happen at some point) you'll probably be able to sell it for about 80% of what you paid for it. It doesn't have a built-in antenna tuner so I'd say don't buy a tuner (your next radio probably won't need it) and just use band specific antennas like a 20m dipole.
    Dictionary of the future:
    Global Warming was a popular computer simulation game,
    where the only way to win was not to play.

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  11. #267
    Senior Member Hidyn's Avatar
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    So I've got a HF rig!

    I was talking about it with a couple ham friends who have been out of the hobby for awhile (yes I keep telling them that they need to maintain the capability, just in case).

    One of them is gifting me an entire HF station. I'm not sure of the model of the unit. I've seen it before and I suspect that it's a kenwood 520 or 530. Whatever it is, I know that it's in absolute mint condition, complete with the manual and everything necessary to get on the air.

    This should be more than adequate for my emergency comms, and should teach me a lot! I owe this guy a huge favour somewhere down the road!

    I'm sure that a little bit of messing around will even have me running some digital modes through it, but for right now I'm just super excited about going through the manual and learning all about this cool set up!

    Once I get it figured I'll see if I can't reach Nova Scotia with CW to ask how your new handgun works at like... 3 WPM lol!
    "You can break the surgical procedure of removing an appendix down into about 30-35 individual steps each of which is not overly complicated or beyond an enthusiastic amateur."

    -Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd ed.

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  13. #268
    Senior Member Doug_M's Avatar
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    The 520 is a well regarded radio. However both the 520 and 530 are vacuum tube radios (for transmitting). That means two things, first the tubes may not be working efficiently anymore (then again they may) which requires expensive replacements and someone who knows what they're doing to bias them. Two, using a tube radio (setting it up to transmit which needs to be done each time you change frequencies) is a skill and an art that will require your friend to mentor you in. May not be the best for reliable emergency communications.

    That being said, the 520 is an excellent and as I said before well regarded radio. I would love to have one! You can learn a lot with it (and from him hopefully) and down the road if you want to buy something that you can take to the field or that is a little more modern then so be it. Congrats! And post pics here when you get it please.
    Dictionary of the future:
    Global Warming was a popular computer simulation game,
    where the only way to win was not to play.

  14. #269
    Senior Member Hidyn's Avatar
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    I can certainly post some pics when I get it!

    You're right about it not being the greatest for emergencies, in the future I'll have to pick up something that's rapid and easy to use, with all the upgrades to integrate with the modern world built in. Who was I kidding, anyways? ONE HF radio?

    I was reading about the art of tuning on frequency change, it's going to be interesting. It looks like there are still some tubes available online for these, but I won't know for certain until I take a peek at the manual.

    I'm not sure how much I'll be able to learn from the guy giving me the radio. He knows everything there is to know about radios and electronics, but he travels and I don't see him often.

    I imagine I can get a crash course but I do know he's off again right away so I'll be leaning on you guys some more!
    Last edited by Hidyn; 10-13-2019 at 11:36 PM.
    "You can break the surgical procedure of removing an appendix down into about 30-35 individual steps each of which is not overly complicated or beyond an enthusiastic amateur."

    -Survival and Austere Medicine, 3rd ed.

  15. #270
    Senior Member LB303's Avatar
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    Primary suggestions.
    Has it been sitting unused for a long time? If so, you may want to borrow a variac to bring up those power supplies gradually.
    Definitely have the manual open while fiddling, you will want to make notes of your settings at different frequencies. If you've never tuned a pi output before, it's an iterative process so start at low power and increase the drive once you get it peaked. And I can't say enough good things regarding having a resistive dummy load rated for your full output power. And maybe add to that, a half decent reflected power meter. There might be one built in to the radio, but it's easier to dip a bigger meter for resonance.

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