Sunday Advance Preps: Ham Gear & Sharpening Tools

While we’re waiting for the market to crater tomorrow…  [May load slow due to length and a zillion graphics]  This may be a bit on the “longish” today, so if you need to pee or get coffee…better do that first.  We’ll wait for you….

Four topics this morning:  Best first ham radio stations, how to bug-out program a 2-meter rig, one of our “Lost Industrial Arts” discussions of tool sharpening, and last but now least (under “learning from the kids”)  a dandy shopping tip.  Ready?

First Ham Radio Equipment

A newish reader (and potential ham) asked a great question this week:

“I found your website attractive in its perspective of events unfolding. I note you have ham radio commentary; I am below novice level understanding of the subject but want to acquire a system (in a just-in-case way.) Will you offer any guidance? Thank you…”

You would think this would be simple as (pick any) pie,  pi, of  phi.  But, it’s not.

I mean sure…when I was learning radio (1963-present)…there were only “just so many” choices.  You had shortwave, AM, Morse code, with smatterings of  single-sideband, a bite of FM (mainly for commercial and police & fire).  Most people don’t realize that when I got my first FM engineering job (1967) stereo was still a new thing.  And Aurlex foam for studios?  We were stapling up egg cartons and hanging used moving truck mats 4-inches out from walls, ISYN!

Where to begin, then?  

Like any big project, we need first to “blue sky” things a bit.  Then, pound in some “corner post” and then begin to fence in this perfect radio solution.  Got to warn you, though:  Even getting the “corner posts” in is a bitch:  There’re just too damn many problems.

“Even for basic prepping, though?”

Oh, hell yeah.  Let me give you some prepping scenarios and let you fill in the blanks as they might fit with your situation.  First part of the Blue Sky is to write down an answer to the question:  “What are you prepping for?”

  • Disturbances after the election and civil disorder.
    • Sub question:  At home or on the go?
    • Sub-sub question: Phone or computer available?
    • Sub-sub-sub question: What kind of endurance?
    • Sub-sub-sub-sub-sub question:  Active transmit and if so, what portion of the time? (This will define battery size…see?)

Whew.  And this is only ONE prepping scenario. 

Others (like weather, hard grid down, family health and welfare will generate long strings of dependencies (use case specific) that will then define the “right” choice (or 20!)

A simple answer would be jump on Amazon and pick up a Baofeng two-pack with mics and the programming cable. $75 bucks.

Too Easy?

Well, not so fast, bubba.

Owning a radio isn’t going to turn you into a ham – or even a functional radio listener.  Let alone operator.

Because you need to understand the process to get the radios programmed. This also applies to people who want to have bug-out radios.

Assuming you want to have simple (easy license) ham ticket and talk around the town a bit – maybe hit the social nets and get one of the kids (or spouse, same diff, lol) involved – the road map to getting the radio programmed and on the air is:

  • Get the ham license.  Drag the child, spouse, or other along, too.
  • Get the radios.
  • Collect all the frequency information you will need.  (this is a GOSUB routine – you can get as complicated or simple as you want here).  Basically you want to include:
    • Local simplex frequencies (146.42 and 146.52 on 2-meters)
    • Local Ham frequencies (RepeaterBook)
    • NOAA weather (Google it, but around 162.55 Mhz.
    • Local fire and police (search web)
    • A couple of FM stations (go for ones with heavy news content)
    • Marine channel 16 if near the coast.
    • [If you are planning for home city and bug out use, the list will be longer.  Make one set of channels, like 1-49, for city #1 and 50-99 for City #2.  Any more channels can be for shared services like weather or that regional FM news station…
  • Charge radios, become familiar with basis controls.
  • Download CHIRP to program radiosClick here for Windows or, if you’re like us with a back-up Linux machine, load this:
    • sudo apt-add-repository ppa:dansmith/chirp-snapshots
      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install chirp-daily
  • Next you will copy your frequency information into CHIRP and hit Google for the fine points of programming the radio.  (Been a while:  Activate Chirp, turn on radio….yada yada…”

That’s the basic (home town only) VHF/UHF (line of sight radio comms).

What About Long Distance?

Local comms are the norm with a technician class license.  One-day quickie class will suffice for most.  Download Dan Romanchik’s study guide (read once) and go to a local ham club one-day class.  You’ll nail it.

The “grown up” license from here is the General class – with that you get tons of additional privileges.  Like use of the HF (3-20 MHz bands where long distance comms live) bands.

The ULTIMATE license is an Extra Class.  Where questions like “What term indicates the frequency at which the grounded-base current gain of a transistor has decreased to 0.7 of the gain obtainable at 1 kHz?” (answer: Alpha cutoff frequency).

If you really think you’re ready for the “Extra ticket”  try this:  “What is the effective radiated power relative to a dipole of a repeater station with 200 watts transmitter power output, 4 dB feed line loss, 3.2 dB duplexer loss, 0.8 dB circulator loss, and 10 dBd antenna gain?”  (Answer: 317 watts)

License Needed to Transmit

At least in “normal” times.  When “life and property” are in danger, the rules may bend or get tossed.

If the elected government fails?  Well, then here comes the junta question:  Does the FCC have power or authority if the country is out of control?  Harder question.  Err on the side of avoiding enforcement actions.  Avoidance of the coup (and other people) is your best course, likely.  Use the radio as “ears” with big range.  Transmit?  You mean so someone like me can “direction-find” on your signal?  Not to smart…

Would you have transmitted during the Civil War?  Key point: Silence is not only Golden but life-saving.  Why does SF send their radio ops out 1/4 to 1/2 mile to send traffic back to command?  Think about this stuff.  So says Comandante Morse.

Build Skills

Sheesh – now we get into that whole mode and HF operator skill thing.  How competent do you want to get?

  • Basic HF operator:  200-mile day, international range night on voice (single sideband).  Try something like an Icom 718 transceiver and a Buckmaster off-center-fed dipole (OCFD).  I shop at because they have good prices.  Remember, the distance (and therefore pleasure) from an HF radio will depend  hugely on how high your antenna is hung (100 feet is nice, but 30-35 feet is OK.   Much lower is difficult unless you go to a semi-exotic antennas (like a CCD [continuous current distribution] antennas, which are hard to find. Or you could make a large horizontal loop at 30-40 feet, but now you need an antenna tuner and you just blew out of the low-priced, not too complicated ham station.
  • Basic HF with some Digital.  OK, back to Gigaparts for the Icom version of the Tigertronics sound card interface to the radio.
  • Buy the American Radio Relay League book on Digital Communications.
  • Download FL-Digi.  Get radio and computer “talking.”  Even then, some modes (like FT-8) are not exactly “sporting.”  (In Ure’s cranky view…)
  • HF, Digital, and moving pictures around...  OK, step up to Ham Radio Deluxe for your digital control.  No, not free.  Neither are Porsches…your point?

Ure Recommendation

#1 VHF-UHF with a couple of Baofengs.  Tech license.  Local ham club.

#2 HF license study and pass at the local club.

#3  Go Shopping!

Icom 718 for HF – new ( or used on eBay.   You can listen on broadcast band, too…oh and shortwave and time standards for as long as they last, given dem House people wanted to budget axe WWV and such…

#4  Focus on Kick-Ass Wire Antennas.  Getting an antenna 50-feet up in trees and talking to Europe on HF is kinda cool.

#5 Get it with a Morse key and paddle.  Key until you can do 20 words a minute Morse by hand (straight key) writing it down.  Then get on they keyer and stay there until you hit 35 coping in your head.  At this level, Morse is another language.  You become a digital human.

Now with a regular camera, and all your new radio gear, you can move pictures around, too, though some of the arrogant you call this an “antique art” since large graphics move easily on the web.  This moving of slow scan TV images (SSTV) is one of those “arts to prepping” – like char cloth – that you aren’t supposed to “need” but there is no substitute when time comes (if it ever does).

Ham Radio and OCD

Asked some advice from a fellow reader – I was asking which of my two-dozen ham radios I should keep, since I collect and love to work on tube-type gear – he said something to the effect..

“Despite the ‘prevailing wisdom’…. I think you have TOO MUCH HAM GEAR!  Most of it is beyond my ken or usage.  I really cannot say what would be good or not.  I hear the Icom 761 is a good rig, but never used one.  I have an Icom 7300 and love it to death. In my later years I have become a huge fan of solid state stuff like that…”

Icom 7300 is a GREAT radio – but about 2X the price of the 718.  Deep pockets? Go for it.  Unlimited deep pockets?  Have you priced the Icom 7851  bundles?  $12,500 for the basic radio but toss in a 90-foot tower, several big antennas, rotators, linear amplifiers…. to $35,000 and up.  (Careful, your marriage may depend on this decision!)  [See why Ure doesn’t live in an HOA restricted area?]

The OCD Part

Laughably, my son’s callsign is KF7OCD – “kay-eff-seven-obsessive compulsive disorder” – but in reality, that’s me.

You may not need 21 complete ham stations.  When an experienced retired broadcast engineer can be happy with an Icom-7300, several notches up from the 718…then what people like (Ure) have is not a hobby so much as a disease.

Having just one VHF-UHF radio and ONE HF set-up indicates you still have a social life, may have time for friends still, and may be fully integrated into the workaday world.  Try to work on that.

Serially?  I’m slowly coming to realize that “prepping” and “hoarding” are next-door neighbors.  On the other hand, hoarding works as when CV-19 came along and we had toilet paper and Clorox…that’s when OCD pays off.

I hope this helps…The great “growing up” part of aging is that if you count your pennies, and are thrifty you Can Have It All.

Sure, there are people who point to seven figure bank accounts and call that success.  But to me,  “He who dies with the most [tools, toys, or ham gear, and let’s not forget the former bunny] wins.”

A huge-long discussion of SDR radios will be along one of these days…

Industrial Arts Sunday

Always wanted to have the ultimate maker’s shop where I could build or repair almost anything.  Dream is coming together now as that 2-by-4 laminating job that looked like a dining room table is now emerging as my “sharpening bench.”  Tour time!

Every bench needs a “workhorse” grinder.  The one above was picked up at one of those traveling tool sales, what…10-years ago?  Still works.  The cover is off the right side so I can easily change off the medium-hard wheel there for a wire brush set-up.   Ferrous?  Non-ferrous…who cares – this is the “beater-grinder!”

For more precise grinding…

We’ll see how quickly this one gets a little “shop patina” going.  Notice the clear plastic wraps back onto the magnifiers to keep ’em clean?

Two things to rip out of the spouse-house supplies for your shop:  Sandwich bags (great for storing went paint brushes between coats so you don’t trash the brush.  The other is the roll of Saran Wrap for things like covering plastics and metal to keep it from rusting.  Get the real “clingy” stuff.  Be stealthy about your supply runs to the house.

Now let’s say you want to do a little knife work:

There’s a belt sander left and a small (5″ I think it is) on the right.  Variable speed.  When using this (or any) kind of grinder, N-95 mask (N-100 is better) is in order since silica plus metal (triple-especially if aluminum) is bad shit for the lungs.

There’s also a leather strop and some “green rouge” (sorry I forget the grit number) for hair-splitting sharp.  (This is the South, so hare-splitting works, mostly.  For everything else, there’s a chainsaw.)

Ure’s Sharpening Secret Weapons

Get thee to the wood chop saw and cut as follows:  A 30-degree angle, a 25-degree and a 27.5-degree.  Marketh yee such and so:

To use them, lean your knife against the “leaning angle” and apply to belt sander like so:

From time to time, you will want to touch up more blunt things like (my wit, or ) a cold chisel:  They’re best around 60-degrees.  So you flip the 30-degree up on end, like so:

Now you can nail perfect angles.  27.5–degrees is the most popular – so far – among readers for general every-day carry knives.

Sure, 25-degrees is sharper, BUT it doesn’t hold the edge as well.  Seriously, are you going to a knife fight or work?

Speak of “plane speaking” – make sure (when you build your own ultimate shop sharpening dept.) not to overlook a plane hone.  Not too spendy and ought to come with some oil and a plane blade holder, like so…

You will also need a set of “diamond hones” for this and that.  Not expensive but hard to find a good substitute.

There are some purists who really get a deep satisfaction out of working for hours putting the perfect edge on a tool.  Me?  More the “turn on machine, finish hone, strop and where’s the beer?”  But for those who appreciate the art, maybe a…

Nice combo tool – and unlike Bitcoin – it works when the power fails.

Flash Quiz: 

Can you guess what this is?

Time’s up:  It’s a diamond grinding wheel dressing bar When you change wheels on a grinder, they can mount ever so slightly out of round.  Gently moving this into the wheel (evenly or you won’t fix anything!) will dramatically reduce vibration.

Also…and for projects like lawnmower blades, you can pick up a blade balancer on eBay for under $10-bucks.  And for a few bucks more, the pre-angled grinder for a 1/4-inch power drill if your “sharpening bench” is still a waste of resource in the future somewhere.  Like $15 bucks on eBay.

The cone-thingy sits on the pointy end and the blade sits down on the cone…One side of the blade will sag.  Remove material from the saggy side.

To see all this, you need good lighting.  So I got around to putting up “Sky Hook Lighting” this week:

Easy to move around.  Three hunks of 2-by-4 with a 3 1/2-inch hunk of 1 3/4 wide 2-by ripped down for the spacer part. (2-by-4’s are 1-1/2″ by 3-1/2″ in the modern world.)   Four drywall screws and a dollop of Titebond III and the roof will come down before the hooks holding the lights do.

Still lots of room on the bench, so the other machines are landing there include a chainsaw sharpener:

Place blade in lower chain holder, bring down spinning cutting wheel in “chop saw-like” fashion.  Repeat endlessly until you have worn out chain for good.

Another hint:  Sharpen slowly.  Generates less heat. Take time and “save your (metal’s) temper.

Here’s a sharpener for 8 to 14 inch circular saw blades:

The rest of the bench includes a small Taig metal lathe (a bonus from happy client some 10-years ago…) and a metal chop saw, plus a 24 inch box and pan brake for bending up metal.  May be room for the tile saw, too.  Gotta find somewhere to store it.

Not a screaming “perfect” sharpening bench, but sure works great so far.  When using things now, I use squeeze (bar)  clamps to keep the machines from vibrating off the table. Over time, they will get bolted on.  Just depends how much they interfere with one another during workflow.

Two Other Shop Tips

First is if you look around on Amazon you can find a variety of cheap clear plastic bags that will do a better job of keeping moisture off your tools than canvas tool covers.  They are look a lot “less busy” to my eye… $10-bucks for a hundred bags.  About twice the thickness of dry cleaner bags.  (Anyone else remember dry cleaners, or is that showing my age again?)  Machine bags!

The other thing to keep handy is a bottle of mineral oil (and a small sprayer with water in it, too…).  The mineral oil – and a spray can of “sticker remover” or “road and tar remover” works well getting sticky adhesives off your favorite “sharps.”  It also got some epoxy off my fingers…so very useful stuff.  (Follow with good soap and water and nail brush scrubbing, of course.)

Totally enjoyable process.  More as it happens…

Adventures of Gradyvarius

Few realize that chief Nostracodeus programmer Grady up in Canada is also a master violin maker.  Here’s his latest project with some notes:

The backstory:

“I found this at a place named “Good Will”. People drop off odds and ends for resale there. It was a Chinese made(ugh!) painted(ugh!) violin in an old violin case that also contained two bows, all for forty dollars.  I spent a few days removing the paint from the body, then removed the finger board etcetera and sanded the parts to remove remaining traces of paint and glue then reassembled it. I stained the spruce the redish brown standard violin color. When it dried I hand rubbed the body with three layers of Tung oil, lightly sanding between the coats when each dried.”

What craftsmanship. huh?

Pet peeve around here is how long good finished (tung oil is one, high UV resistant spar varnish is another) takes to really cure out.  In my office, six coats of Helmsman spar varnish didn’t cure (fully, rock hard) for like 90 days.  I tried heat and all manner of speedo’s but no joy.  So if you have found the magic finish (thick as a casting resin, slight yellowish cast for UV, cures fully in 27-minues) could you let me know?

Ultimate Shopping Tip

Prepping tip from super-prepper “daughter #2” –

“Went to Safeway this morning and got a free half pound of potatoes.  How?  Because when you buy a 3 or 5 pound bag, that’s usually the  minimum weight .  But, if you weigh a few bags, you can get the Big One.”

Now that’s just dandy!  Goes to show that even in our 70’s it is still possible to learn a thing, or two from our children.  Now if they would listen on politics….

Back to shop work – may be a bit off our usual schedule this week due to Beta rolling through starting tonight or Monday… and good luck to our friends in Houston with that.

Write when you get rich,

39 thoughts on “Sunday Advance Preps: Ham Gear & Sharpening Tools”

  1. Yesterday I found 2 Arkansas sharpening stones at an estate sale in almost new condition. I haven’t seen one of these on a store’s shelf in forever so I’m glad to have a couple of backups or gifts for others in case the one I’ve had since the 70s gets dropped or otherwise meets its demise. Once these get worn down as a rough stone you no longer need the fine stone for final polishing on your knife edges. It’s why I rarely have hair on my left forearm. If it doesn’t shave it ain’t right yet.

    Gotta love estate sales.

  2. George, with Ham radio I am a big proponent of learning how to program your radios manually by hand. Out in the field you may need to program another frequency in and won’t have your computer that has CHIRPS and you will need to do it by hand. With some of the cheap Chinese radios especially with repeaters you will need to manually program the output direction, output frequency, PL tone, and output and input of the repeater. In the club I belong to, I am the go to guy when someone needs their radio programmed. And I teach them how to program manually and also using CHIRPS for the reason above. And also with the above info, hopefully people will see like you mentioned, that you will need a license and learn how to use your radio and not just go out and buy something and put up in the closet for future use when TSHTF. Because folks if you do that, like my Dad used to say, “you will be sh*t out of luck” for the most part.

    • “learning how to program your radios manually by hand. Out in the field you may need to program another frequency in and won’t have your computer that has CHIRPS and you will need to do it by hand.”

      Randy years ago efore they were on the market,I built a satalite receiver and in the end I had to calibrate and aim it without any fancy equipment.. sitting.on a ladder screwdriver in hand.. that’s how I did it.. lol lol lol pain in the butt.. I will leave it to the chinese factory worker making a buck fifty a week to do it from now on lol…

      • LOL – first receiver I ever “programmed” – was the oscillator coils on an old Hallicrafters S-20R. “Alignment was estimated” to the boardcast stations (*And harmonics) and surprisingly, came out damn close when in a year or two got the real test gear…
        Radio is the art of “can doing” a whole bunch of shit…seat of the pants.

  3. Holy Shit – Ure not kidding – OCD.

    U put Covert19 Plandemic masks on Ure shop tools – Dont know if U can be any more ANAL than that Chief..dont want those Tools getting sick..

    I can just imagine the “Genie” catching Covert19, and struggling thru cutting ECD’s Christmas Project rough stones,( red&white striped,round peppermint candies made out of red & white Myricktite), sourced from a VERY RESTRICTED Naval Base in the middle of a Cali desert, was not always so RESTRICTED..

    The ponder that is digging in my swiss cheese of brain this AM , is do U put a “mask” on Ure antenna – like a GIANT RUBBER covering a GIANT PENIS.. a local tourist attraction listed on tripAdvisor. The PULSATING Palestine Penis ! “so life like U can feel the energy”

    Used to ponder on the November Presidential election, but since Slo Joe WILL NOT MAKE IT TO THE ELECTION DATE – there is nothing left to ponder on – Hell the Dims wouldn’t even vote for kamala toe during their Primary she is such a LOSER.

    • Everyone must know that myrickite is a variety of Chalcedony – from the Myrick Spring area near San Bernardino… which would make the base? Maybe the 29 Palms Jarhead Joint? Knowing the original Myrick Springs is up toward the Mojave more, north of Barstow…unlikely Miramar…,.
      So opalized or agatized?
      Or RU just agatevated cuz BTC is coming to the end of a wave 2 bounce and will SHORTly hed down more?
      No Solar Panels for U – after all, they do power satellites and shit with BTCs, right?

      • Close Kemosabe – nearby Chynah Lake.

        Might have witnessed some energy beam “research’ out there in the early 80’s.

        When powered up – “it” about took the whole entire Grid system down –
        it pulled that much juice.

        Yes opalized/agatized – takes an excellent polish -almost an 8 on the Mohs.

        See BTC breaking higher, with the USD, if heads down will be Buyer around $8000 level. More fun with Theta and DigiByte – “cheap”

        ? How can a Crypto Coin be “cheap” when it has NO UNDERLYING VALUE ?

        • There’s the question we’re all hanging for enlightenment on…

          ? How can a Crypto Coin be “cheap” when it has NO UNDERLYING VALUE ?

          Buy diesel – because that can make motion and calories when poured in the right machinery…

  4. “Get thee to the wood chop saw and cut as follows:  A 30-degree angle, a 25-degree and a 27.5-degree.  Marketh yee such and so:
    To use them, lean your knife against the “leaning angle” and apply to belt sander like so:”

    I. Never even gave blade sharpening guides a thought.. I have a ton of those ( well not a ton but several)the way I use them is for quick setup blocks. Put your router bit or saw lay the block next to it and it is ready to go in seconds.
    Isnt that gradavarious the ticket. What a craftsman..
    Prepping.. my theory is you can’t prep for everything.. so I try to keep my life stable..take wine ,beer and fine liquors.. to buy the good stuff it costs a fortune..if your rich or have a good paying job it’s ok go buy it.. I’m a bottom feeder .. so invest in one taste it..then learn to make what you want it’s literally pennies a bottle..aged steaks prices through the roof.. I learned to and made a steak ager..etc. are you a pop drinker.. then keg your favorite flavor. It’s about a penny a glass..co2.. buy the welder tank and a whip to fill your co2 canister.
    It’s all a matter of your taste and flavors your personal lifestyle. Even when we went a year without an income we ate well..Then prep for your personal lifestyle.
    I have been busy trying to teach my grandson that you don’t need to make a ton of money to have the quality of life. Only the vision and creativity to do it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.. because of that the cardboard box project was born..( oh it’s looking really. Sweet now.. I am not going to take anymore pictures until its. done) I have a five year old and six year old that will be finishing the bar top and counter..
    Dont go big.. start slow build..

  5. For knife sharpening, I like the Spyderco Tri-angle:

    Add a set of ultra-fine stones:

    For axes and hoes, I have been using a Smith’s with reasonably good results:

    You have to watch the angle you are pulling from, because it tends to bite into the plastic at the end. Once you have dug a v-shaped groove in the plastic, it is less a problem.

    • Well, you gotta be careful with axes. My experience is if you put a really good edge on them, you’ll be inclined to try them out. And you see, this can quickly turn into real work if you don’t watch it.
      Hence, the chainsaw with the carbide-tipped chain… There’s a dull axe around here sumwhere…

      • I just absolutely love my Black & Decker 12 inch 40 volt chainsaw that sucker well cut up a whole 30 ft tree and still have 3/4 of its power left,,,,,,,, .
        And the 40 volt weed eater I got or it’s Grand to and the most best little 40-volt thing I like is that hedge trimmer that thing will cut me a path through the wilderness…..
        And they’re all interchangeable but I was looking for a 40 volt sawzall by Black & Decker and they don’t have one all they have is 20 volt but I’ve got a couple extra 20 volt lithium batteries from the old weed eater that I have and they are still good..,,,,,,, now if we keep accumulating all these lithium batteries will need some kind of connectors to plug them all into the solar and then we can run the house refrigerator and other necessary items like the electric riding lawn mower,

    • A little paraffin wax on your shovel blade, knife and axe no dirt, clay, blood, guts or snow will stick to it. And your edge with last alot longer.

      Talked to my mother and she said she had a long list of stuff for me to do for her. She said number 1 is cleaning up all of Henry’s shit on her porch and yard. I said someone named Henry shit on your porch and yard! She says, yeah he is the brown bear that lives on our property. I said we be eating Henry for dinner shortly after I get up there. She no we won’t! He keeps the timber wolves, coons other critters population down on our property. I usually chase him off with my broom on his ass. We have an understanding. He can eat all he wants on our property except whats in the garbage cans and he is not be shitting on my porch and we give him the old left overs we don’t eat and he doesn’t become dinner.

      I mentioned to my mother about studying ham radios. She said my grandfather was a ham. She said we have his old ham out in the garage in a box. It was working when put it in there. I said what kind is it?? She said oh its old. You are welcome to have it, might be fun to mess around with but You probably want something newer. She said i think its from the early 60’s. Should still work,, hasn’t moved since we put it in the box when he passed. My grandfather owned a hobby shop back in the early 70’s out on North Kenia road, model trains, planes, boats and ham gear. I said just didn’t know he did ham. She said back in his day it was the only way to talk to anyone in the lower 48. There wasn’t even telephones up here when he moved here.

      I will let ya know what kind it is, George.

      So I will check it out. Pretty cool.

      • Sounds like your Mom needs a tall, stout yard fence. I don’t know if an electric wire would discourage Henry, or just send him on a murderous rampage. Brown bears aren’t known for manners.

      • Andy, don’t fire it up!

        Old radios that’ve set around unused have components go bad (specifically capacitors.) Powering it up with a bad cap (or 12) can fry the set. When you get around to unboxing it, tell us what it is, and (please, please, please) ask George what needs to be done to make it happy, before you throw the switch…

  6. Since you are recommending the Baofeng radios, you might want to recommend the free book on how to use them that is not the “Chinglish” manual that comes in the box:

    Also great resources for sharpening anything:

    It’s neat how they shave with a double bit axe

    and from a master knife maker who is a Japanese blade master

    Enjoy your ham radio discussions. Maybe someday I will get a ticket and quit bootlegging

  7. Prepping is about handling everything yourself!
    Whatever you build, make it maintainable.

    I spent the last couple of days squirming in the mud under a house, screwing and laying pipe in the weirdest of positions! It’s a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. I built muscles where I never thought I even had them.

    • “Prepping is about handling everything yourself!
      Whatever you build, make it maintainable.”

      Exactly. That maintenance thing can get kinda important. Also whenever possible, figure out how to make everything either a one person job, or a (EMP-proof) machine-assisted one person job. You never know when somebody is going to get sick or hurt, or a perimeter defense may need to be populated.

      If I can find the lumber, I intend to build a gallows this next week, from which to hang my 3pt auger and its bits. Farmers with more jobs than tractors build these to hang high-mount implements like augers and loaders. I figure if done right, hitching that auger to my tractor should be both 1-man, and nearly as quick & painless as a quick-attach…

      • That’s interesting. I have to work alone 99% of the time, so I use an old gantry from an auction to hang my auger and the 12″ bit. Other bits are kept elsewhere. Three point attachments are always a bit of a nuisance to connect, and doing an auger alone would be a challenge(unless I used another machine). The gantry was dirt cheap because it was bent, and it works just fine as is for the auger. It might make sense to straighten and paint it one day, but that day may never come. Where I live, steel is almost always preferable to wood.

        Note for George: The “candy-cane” hangers for the lights are a great idea. I prefer the 5K lumen Harbor Fright lights, but the idea is perfect if you have open trusses or tie joists.

      • “doing an auger alone would be a challenge”

        …Did that when I first got it — Danuser 20/40 with a 12″ bit — probably about 260 pounds. I leaned it against a trailer, then manhandled it onto the arms and lifted it until I could drop a hitch pin into the top link.

        I mentioned a few weeks ago my body is shot, because IT knows how old I am, but my brain doesn’t. While it was good to know I could still wrestle that kind of weight, I ain’ta gonna do it again…

  8. George:

    Some good advice for new hams. Here I am sporting a 7300 into an elecraft 500 amp and tuner combo. This feeding a 40m OCF dipole. I use Win4Icom with HRD and WSJT with JTAlert. Details see TH-D74A for VHF/UHF.

    All good stuff.



    • “? How can a Crypto Coin be “cheap” when it has NO UNDERLYING VALUE ?”

      George I am guessing that they are hoping it will be valued simmilar to the dollar bill..
      Facebooks libra would be secured basically by a paper that says its good.. another nothing for nothing..

  9. Billiance? What is billiance?

    Regardless, why get the ham license before the radios? If you have the radios, you’ll be more interested in getting the license. You can learn all the programming and listen to your heart’s content and you’re perfectly legal unless you accidentally hit the transmit button. Meanwhile, you can study for the license(s). Amazon may not have cheap radios forever.

  10. Yeah yeah it’s getting ready to drop guess where it’s going to go to bitcoin,and other cryptocurrencies , (did gha bite )gold and silver and platinum

  11. Go ahead use your cell phone go to Play Store on your Google download the (Abra app). Connect your ATM card or your bank account or your credit card whatever it will accept and throw $100 in there and buy some digibyte ,Watch What Happens, if that doesn’t make you a believer well the future will

  12. Carbide chain is great, BUT the rest of the chain wears out at the normal rate. Dealt with an irate customer who insisted we shorten his “stretched” carbide chains, turns out the rivets and links wore rather quickly cutting cross ties, rendering the chains unsafe to use.

  13. It’s called Project Looking Glass,
    It’s called remote viewing.
    It’s called being psychic.
    It’s called psychic mediums.
    It’s called astrology.
    It’s called mother’s intuition.
    It’s called dreams reveal the future.
    It’s called reading the Tea remains.
    It’s called stubbing your toe.
    It’s called time travel.
    It’s called unlocking the secrets to the universe.
    It’s called being an extra sensitive.
    It’s called watching the animals.
    It’s called watching planets disguise the chemtrails the lies the pandemic scan demyx the office preserves and the bullshitters and charged it’s called the money makers controlling every aspect of your life unless you think ahead and store up your goods and Future for your descendants.
    Please add to the list we need more knowledge we just can’t get enough of it.
    Looking at all the pyramids an ancient cities they all have something in common they were created not by us without their instruction.
    When you sleep at night ask for instruction visualize what you want and that will automatically start scanning the future all the little molecules Adam start arranging into the mode of your thoughts…..
    And the reason now is such a beautiful time to have beautiful thoughts and beautiful dreams is because we have a force that’s helping us in the spiritual World War.

    May all beings be lovingly fulfilled may all beings be financially fulfilled may all beings be readily fulfilled so be it

    • you forgot one Brice……

      I can tell we are going to have a future rising out of the water looking towards the heavens LOL LOL LOL… OTFLMAO.. just kidding..

      ON a more serious note .. I do believe in dreams.. I know I have them.. and I have met some pretty freaky people out there that told me stuff I wouldn’t ever have known with their psychic abilities…. and DeJavu how many times in my life have I gone into a building and knew what was in the drawers and what was behind a door..

  14. Speaking of OCD… your ‘sharpening bench’ is bigger than my entire ham radio bench! The acquisition of a solid-state ‘no tune’ linear amp completed my ham shack. The only thing needing tuning in the shack now is the antenna tuner. You can see it all at On those cold nights when I wax nostalgic for the warm glow of some ‘heaters’, I turn on the world’s first vacuum tube… the “Edison Monode’… isotropic photonic emitter rich in the infra-red.


  15. should see what userx is putting in their gold fund to cook the books .. I believe nothing American or in amerika .. forget about it .. lies lies lies

  16. furthermore what the hell are you doing George .. predicting on a nightly basis ? I know all amerikans know everything in advance .. albeit illegal or superior arian or alien brains but !! really !! waiting to crater .. should go over to self appointed gold godfather moriarty at 321 sewer and get a job on the lot selling stories.. will stay short till its over .. and ram gold firmly . but we love yah

  17. I use this:

    for knives and chisels. It is the one we had in the meat factory, and was so good at sharpening I fell in love with it and vowed to someday own one… ‘Had it about 15 years now and haven’t worn the stones yet. I’d like to get a treadle sharpening wheel (picture “farmer” Elmer Fudd getting ready to greet Daffy Duck.) Dad used to sharpen his axe with a file, and would get it “shaving sharp” but he was also a lumberjack (among other things) during the Depression. I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a round, wet, whetstone because a heat-treat (tempering) furnace is not on my list of things to build or buy.

    BTW that Amazon price is really good. I paid ~$240 for mine, back in 2006…

      • It is an amazing set, especially the India stone, and the stones are 2.5 x 11.5 inches, which is big enough to draw an Arkansas toothpick or bread knife across without having to rush the radius.

  18. Apple pie and guns baby!!! And gold for salty !! Moriarty!! Yeah that will help yah . George urban survival. F gold g . You are right

  19. The average home craftsidiot can usually manage to get brain damage painting a bathroom with alkyd paint. If you are willing to step up, try lacquer for a 15 minute finish, catalyzed lacquer for overnight drying, but harder. Automotive clear coat also makes a good wood finish if you put the right primer/sealer under; that also takes a day or more to dry. Polane is the best finish I’ve never used. I heard about it from a guy whose shop was down the road from mine.Those finishes are not for youngsters under the age of 80; if you lose a few iq points or shorten your years of life by a few percent it isn’t as big of a deal when you’re old. A perfect fitting mask with fresh organic cartridges isn’t enough for using most solvent based finishes, take it from the guy down the road, he tried. I use water borne urethane floor finish for most projects but it isn’t as good as anything mentioned above, I can’t imagine using it on a floor. Ive used water based lacquer from 3 different brands and none were acceptable.

    I bought a couple of 2″x8″ diamond plates for shop use @ about $70 apiece 20 years ago. They chew through carbide and tool steel nicely. Box cutters and xacto blades can be sharpened in about the same time as replacing the blade. Purists hate it, but i changed to a medium coarse diamond “butcher steel” a year ago. My high end Japanese kitchen knives didn’t hold an edge very well in spite of having incredibly hard core steel in the damascus(too brittle). Now I spend 1/10 the time as with water stones and they have enough “tooth” to get started in french bread. Diamonds are cheap now and they last a long time. A feather light touch is best, water to clean out heavy metal removal and dry for light use.

    Yard tools just get a file, except clippers and such. Grinders are too slow. I have been known to use a 3×21 belt sander though.

  20. Ham Radio /other options:

    For the HF bands I am partial to Yaseu radios because I think you get the best bang for the buck with the Yaseus (for those on a budget) . I bought a Yaesu 857-D, 10+ years ago, and today it could be sold used for MORE than I paid for it. I have now given that super small Ham rig to my older son.

    For years my HF rig was a Yaesu 757 GXII, which was the first fully IC /transistor rig from a major manufacture. I paid $450 for it in1984 and it worked fine up until a couple of years ago when my son accidently miswired a new power plug for it and fried it’s insides. It was still working great 34 years after I bought it in other words, a well designed and built dependable rig. I talked all over the world with that radio using just 100 watts PEP and an inexpensive non directional dipole antenna (trung up between trees), as did he.

    The Kenwoods and Icom HF rigs are nice, but for an equivalent radio at each quality level imo they are higher priced than the Yaesu rigs. (about 40% more from what I can tell)

    If you are just getting into HF ham radio a good model USED piece of equipment can get you in at about a 40% discount to a newer rig (sale price) with the same capabilities, but not necessarily with all the modern bells and whistles or the modern IF receiver filtering.

    (if you do get an HF radio of any kind follow George’s advice and get a sound card interface so you can also use the new digital communications methods – those work even with the older used rigs)

    As for an HF antenna? Dipoles work fine and are CHEAP. Get some wire, cut it to approximate length for the frequency, get a center connector, attach the coax, string it up, and trim the length on each end for the lowest SWR you can get. (HAS to be below 2.0, less than 1.5 is MUCH better). Most rigs have a built in SWR meter so you don’t have to go get a separate one fwiw – just keep the output power turned down low until you get it adjusted. Cost is going to be about $20 per antenna plus the cost of the coax with PL-259 connectors.

    Don’t want to get an Ham license? Then there is GMRS, FRS, CB, and a couple of other options.

    For the GMRS frequencies, as well as the VHF and UHF frequencies, from what I hear the Boefang radios work fine at a very VERY cheap purchase price. Keep in mind that they are generally NOT “type accepted” radios so they are actually mostly illegal to use, but I have never heard of the FCC actually getting on anybody’s case for using one – just be sure to ONLY use it on a frequency for which you have a license, be it a Ham license or a GMRS license (can NOT use them on the FRS freq’s they are too powerful). I personally have a Yaesu “handi talkie” for portable VHF Ham use and my Yaesu 897 D also covers the Ham VHF freqs I am interested in so I am well covered for the Ham bands and don’t need any Boefangs for those Ham frequencies.

    For GMRS use (ie: short range) I have long favored Midland /Motorola radios for a number of years, vs programming a Boefang – though I have two Boefangs sitting in boxes – the real advantage of a Boefang for GMRS use is the ability to put a bigger antenna on it vs. the fixed SHORT antennas of the Midlands and the Motorolas GMRS “handi talkie” radios. For car to car use Midland now has a very nice GMRS 15 watt unit with a remote mount antenna that can be replaced with a larger roof mount antenna, which if done properly will get you a solid 8 to 10 miles vehicle/vehicle (assuming BOTH cars are similarly equiped with the bigger outside of the vehicle antennas). Remember you HAVE to buy a license to legally use a GMRS radio, though no test is involved.

    For a total License Free option you can use the FRS handi talkie radios (power OUTPUT has now been bumped up to allow up to 2 watts vs the old .5 watts) … OR … just go with a CB.

    Single Sideband CB’s allow 12 watts PEP (compared to 4 watts AM) and your range with a good antenna on both vehicle is usually about 10-12 miles, though without obstructions you might be good for about 20 miles running at the “legal” power (some run illegal power amplifiers). For house to vehicle use the use of house roof mounted full size CB antennas extends that CB SSB range (house/vehicle) to a consistent 20 to 30 miles in most cases – 40 in some parts of the country – which makes them great to this day for farm /ranch use (though most farmers have now switched to cell phone for their everyday communication needs). I met a guy once who had a full size DIRECTIONAL CB antenna up high at his house who lived on a ridge in Tenn and he consistentely got 80 miles to his vehicles from his home location on SSB CB, as long as the antenna was pointed to where the vehicle was.

    OH … and keep in mind, when in Canada it is ILLEGAL to use ANY two way communication device when driving (CB /GMRS-FRS /& Cell Phone!!) … and they DO TICKET (the fine is EXPENSIVE). I like going to Canada but when there I just put any two way communication device into the trunk – and since my cell phone doesn’t work there anyway it goes in the trunk also.

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