• Welcome, Guest. Please login.
June 11, 2021, 09:48:42 PM

HAM Radio & Survival.

Started by Hoofer, January 10, 2021, 04:04:47 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Quote from: Trisha007 on January 18, 2021, 10:38:09 AM
Well, I'm going where few women have gone before I guess.  It will be awhile before I even begin to know a tiny sample of all you guys do, but I won't get discouraged.  I have blue tooth ear plugs, so you think I'll be able to hook them up with the radio?  I have to get used to the abbreviations, that's something that will help in reading all the stuff.  The q signals I have time to learn as I just want to listen first.  Hoofer very interesting info on the explanation of the sun high and low and how it affects the charge up or diminishing of the signal.  I'd love to watch a video of how exactly that stuff works.  The visual would help me.  So, too, we are in condition 2 for AMCON-AMRRON.  That was interesting. 

I have an office and my PC is in here.  I can hear it humming now.  Will that affect anything with the radio?  I also had DISH and it is on my roof, but it is disconnected now.  Will that affect my radio?  I saw where you unplug your radio if you are going out?  Did I understand that correctly.  Is that to protect it from like a surge or a storm?  I never thought about protections for the radio equipment.  Although I do have surge protectors on my electronics.  Is that information just for a base radio?  I know I have too many questions, so I'll get back to studying.   :lol:

Don't worry - we know quite a few women HAMs over the years, Kay Cragie is the former President of ARRL, she's was a big help to *me* starting out.
I unplug the outside antenna from my base station radio when not in use, as a precautionary measure.  It's saved it twice from direct lightning strikes to a large outdoor antenna.

The test does not have anything about abbreviations - that's easily picked up by use, but there are aids.
Old dish antenna on the roof is too small to really have an effect on other antennas.

This is a pretty good explanation on how Propagation works!  (how the signal gets from here to there.)
You may see MUF or LUF, F1, F2 layers referred to on the General test.

This one covers NVIS, how a "cloud warmer" antenna works (good to know for 75/80m use at night)

Questions are fine, I've taught a few classes for new HAMs, getting ready for the test, explaining stuff in layman's terms, so have a couple of my kids.  Usually we did the classes before Field Day (3rd weekend in June), and then all the new HAMS got a solid footing actually operating.  The hardest thing for a new HAM is programming a VHF/UHF radio, and training their ears for HF SSB operation.  We'd have and experienced person operate, and 2-3 people don headsets, watch the tuning & listen to the signals "pop out" - then they'd take turns, finding a station calling, and answer them.  10min, they all had it down - it's one of those things that's not well explained, but once you see/hear someone - you can catch on quickly!

Years ago, during Field Day, we visited a city park, which had 4 radios & several antennas set up under a Gazebo.   Several people were hunched over, cocking their heads sideways, in confusion, trying to decipher something out of the static on their radios.  My 10yr old daughter and 2 teenage sons milled around for a few minutes, realizing they were all *NEW* HAMs, then offered to help.  They had just a couple of contacts.   My girl, said, "Can I try something?" - the guy handed her the mic, "Go ahead, all we get is static, good luck."  She tuned in a calling station, made the contact, "You got a notebook to log this contact?  What's the club call sign, I'll get him again?"   Peaches went on to make 5-6 more contacts, coaching the fellows, explaining what to listen for, when to break in, and how a girl's voice sounds like 1kw of power over all those male voices (unfair advantage... LOL).  She got them all going, finding a station, getting the break-in timing just right, they started making contacts *easily*.  All they needed was a demonstration and hands on.  The boys had the same experience, people started making contacts, instead of "nothing but static" they heard "voices calling CQ" and began answering them.

I wish it was that quick & easy for me starting out.  There was no mentor (Elmer), or club I could just get started with - for months.  Glad I didn't give up!   10 minutes watching someone operate, spin the knobs, make adjustments, make contacts - then coach you on how to pick out a signal, get the timing right, make the contact.  3-4 contacts later, and you're well on your way to your first 100, then 1000...

This is why a CLUB is so helpful.  It can be really frustrating learning to operate the hard way.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


QuoteWhatever radio you settle on - probably be several, matching them up with decent antennas, equals performance.

Bookmarked this info on antennas.  Thank you.

Passed my second quiz.  Very interesting stuff.


Most CBers and newer HAMS think "WATTAGE in the wire = making more contacts".

In reality, "If YOU cannot hear them, you cannot work them."  It's all about the radio's receiver and the antenna system.  A resonant antenna naturally HEARS the desired frequency, giving the best signal over the noise (S/N ratio). Pre-amplifiers, amplify everything, signal and noise - are helpful, they might get a weak signal up enough for the receiver to "pick it out".  But, even a big Log Periodic (like a TV antenna) pointed in the wrong direction doesn't help.  There's a lot that goes into an antenna system.

Sorry if this doesn't sound important, it's reality, more than trying to achieve super performance, we're not doing Broadcasting like an AM or FM station, it's the two way conversation we're after.

An antenna system starts at the SO-239 plug, or BNC plug, or wire terminals on the back of the radio.  If you have a hand held, where the antenna screws into it.   The Antenna and the length of the COAX actually work together - or against each other to get the signal out, as well as receive.  We want the antenna to be the correct electrical length to resonate (like a tuning fork resonates at pitch/frequency) to receive the our desired frequency.   The simplest way to determine that length is math.

1/2 wavelength in feet = 468 / frequency in MHz.  (overall length of a Dipole antenna)
1/4 wavelength in feet = 234 / frequency in MHz.  (overall length of a Vertical, or one side of a Dipole)

I used these two the most for single element antennas, where coupling & harmonics are not a factor.
(Oh, yeah, there's a whole lot we do with aluminum pipe & wire...)

Those little wire antennas for FM radios, shaped like a "T" are "cut" to make a Dipole antenna, or a folded loop.   Let's just pick a number off the dial, 105 FM.    486 / 105 MHz = 4.45ft (the overall length across the top of the "T" antenna).   Well, you say, my favorite station is actually 94.5 FM.  (468/94.5=4.95ft).  That's a whole 6" longer!   

Obviously, across the entire FM broadcast band, the ideal antenna needs to stretch for the lower frequencies and shrink for the higher frequencies!  We can add a little capacitance to change the resonance of the antenna, a "tuner" to improve the reception.  But, there's just so much a tuner can do, it'll help the radio "see" the antenna as a "perfect" radiator of your signal, but rather limited to actually pull in a better signal.  However, a tuner it can also attenuate signals above & below your frequency, by making the antenna *kinda* deaf to those undesired signals.  A tuning loop does that, so does cancellation (a sort of folding two signals over each other, 90 degrees out of phase, makes a ZERO.)

a Dipole antenna is two wires, 'in the air' .. sort of speak.   We usually see them like a "T", Horizontally Polarized.   The reception & transmission pattern looks like a donut or tire, standing on edge.  The feed point is in the middle of those two wires.  The ends of the wires are where the NULLs are, it hears nothing, if elevated to a decent height off the ground.  Yup, the GROUND has an effect on antennas.  If we turn the wire 90 degrees, so one tip is just off the ground, and the other is going straight up, the pattern changes to vertically polarized, and the NULL is directly above the antenna, so it hears best 360 degrees around it, straight off the sides. 

Two things happen with orientation, vertical or horizontal polarization, and putting the NULLs or "dead spots" where you can't or don't want to hear anything. IF the transmitter is Vertically polarized, and you're relatively close (the signal turns with distance), your vertically polarized antenna will receive & transmit to it best.  Same for Horizontally polarized antennas.  (I'm not going to bother with circular polarization, this is getting windy enough!).

A Vertical antenna is essentially the same as a Dipole, turned on end, and one whole side of the antenna uses the ground as the other half of the antenna.   We use a bunch of radials, all cut to about the same length as the vertical element to give us a good "match" for the radio's transmitter.  On lower frequencies, the earth/ground has a large effect on the antennas performance, become part of the transmission path for reception & transmission, higher frequencies basically get absorbed.

My SWR....  also the "match" for the transmitter, I'll boil down to a 50ohm resistive load.  (there's a lot more to it, we'll skip).  Put a 50 ohm resistor across the terminals of a radio, key it up, and it's happily just heating up that little resistor with RF energy.  People make a big deal about SWR, because too high a ratio burns up the radio (when you transmit).  SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) is usually presented as 1:1 ~ 3:1 or something like that, let's over simplify it with

1:1 is perfect - 100% of the signal is leaving your radio and not returning.
1.2:1 about 99% efficiency.
1.5:1 about 96%
2:1 about 88%
3:1 about 75%
5:1 about 50%

Guess where that other percentage of the signal is going?  Either in heat (the coax), or your radio's finals (the amplifier is struggling against itself).  High SWR (or a poor match) is deadly to a transceiver (a radio that receives and transmits is a transceiver).  Transmitters take a LOT of electrical energy, try to convert that into a RF signal - about half if it is considered "good" - so getting a good chunk of RF energy reflected BACK is really hard on the amplifier.   

We'll look at the whole "antenna system" a little more, since I think it's really overlooked, but so essential for making this stuff DO what you really want it to do.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


Hoofer, keep an eye on this number, (Read 543 times) I have a feeling this thread may become one of the top ten read threads in the following year and on...
Official Trump Cult Member



Quote from: Solar on January 23, 2021, 12:42:54 AM
Hoofer, keep an eye on this number, (Read 543 times) I have a feeling this thread may become one of the top ten read threads in the following year and on...
yeah, whatever.   My interest is in the practical side of communications.  Whether its done by CB, GMRS, HAM - but I would like to encourage EVERYONE to get a General Class Amateur Radio License!  You'll learn a lot, have a lot of fun while talking (or doing morse code, or another digital mode) all over America, and possibly all the way around the world.   I have over 5000 contacts, all DX (outside the USA).  It's pretty neat when you call "CQ CQ CQ - callsign" and someone from Italy answers (in English), you talk a bit, and then someone from another foreign-like region (California or New York)... LOL

I'm not an EXPERT, by any means.   This is a HOBBY for me.  A very fun hobby, and for those who are getting near or have retired - looking for something to keep your mind SHARP - HAM radio naturally challenges the brain in many ways, like playing a piano!   I've never, ever, met an elderly HAM who didn't retain all his mental faculties, and not enjoy meeting other HAMs, or possibly doing a contest.  Better than TV, which is a waste of time.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


OK - Cheapskate time.   How can I save a few BUCKS?  And now a word about Coax...

Remember I mentioned the HALF-Wavelength stuff?  And the transmitter section of the radio *loves* to see a 50ohm load?   That SWR thing... think of it as seeing a 50ohm load at the radio - no matter what's on the other end.  It could be just a 50ohm resistor (make it a BIG one, a little 1/4 watt job is gonna smoke).  So we make these huge "dummy loads" with lots of resistors, some times with muffin fans to cool them off, or submerged in a paint can full of oil.

My Dad was a radio man in WW2.  He often talked about how technology was changing to "solid state" because of this neat invention, the Transistor.  One day, he came home with a little white transistor radio, popped the back off it, and showed me the contents, pointing out the resistors, the variable capacitor (tuner), diodes, and the 6 or 7 little black 3 legged transistors.   He said this little thing would revolutionize radio.   That happened while we were cleaning the basement, and I discovered a paint can among the rest... with a funny looking plug (SO-239) on the top of it.  With a little smile, he started my introduction into "radios".  He was intrigued by any kind of radio - didn't talk about WW2, and the horrors he witnessed in the So Pacific Islands - but explained best he could to a pre-teen kid.

After awhile, he came home with a Radio Shack "kit" a Chrystal Radio.   I had a nasty habit of running his little white transistor radio's battery FLAT in a couple of hours.   Time to go battery-less, he figured - and these kid(s) can build it themselves, maybe learn something.  Around dusk, each night, my younger bother & I would plop into bed, and start tuning in AM stations.   Where we lived, a high elevation in So. Wisconsin, we could "see" the radio towers, 30mi away, but we quickly found WLS, WGN - those Chicago power houses, and many more.  I'll say this... that little wiper that slid across that coil of wire, didn't last too long, was easily knocked off frequency.  I remember he called that little Diode on the Chrystal set, a "cat whisker", and under a magnifying glass, you could see a little squiggly wire through the glass.  It broke in half, and we started eyeing up the barn cat... wondering if.... Well, it didn't work, the cat wasn't happy either - we were just kids!   Dad brought home a Short Wave radio, someone had given him to work on.   We younger boys... did NOT get to play with it, I guess we were too expensive for that kind of set.   But he did have a old Tube SW radio, and we discovered, if we put a long wire antenna on it, and grounded it - we could hear strange sounds... languages we never heard before.

Talking to an electronics genius friend of mine, I was lamenting over the cost of COAX.  Almost $1 a foot.  He said, "just use any old coax, and cut it for a 1/2 wavelength of the frequency you want to operate on." 


Sure, take 75ohm coax, if you know the velocity factor, measure and cut, it'll be close enough - he said.  What about the 50ohm thingy, how is that not going to screw with the radio's transmitter circuitry? 

Imagine that coax is like a long pipe, and the radio wave is bouncing down from the transmitter to the antenna - if you "time the bounce" just right (in length), it hits the antenna at ZERO and continues up /out as a transmitted signal... like it doesn't even "see" the coax at all, it just sees the antenna on the end of the transmission line.

Being the doubter, but trusting Dave's advice.. and... I just happened to have a handy-dandy meter, I took a hunk of 75ohm Cable TV scrap, and "measured" it.   Turned out, there WAS a frequency it would perform well, at it's current length!?  "Dave, how do I figure out the velocity factor or length, without a meter?"

HINT:  I've measured 75 ohm Cable TV Coax many times, it's about velocity factor is 82-84%.  If the Cable TV guy is throwing away a hunk of it, GRAB IT!!!   This is pretty good coax!   Remember, at the "head end" where the transmission gear is pumping all that RF down the lines, they don't want signal leaking out all over the place, degrading the signal to the customer - that's power wasted.  Cable TV plants use coax that's got a "foil shield" with a light braid of aluminum, copper or steel wire over the outside of that for strength & longevity.  Other than the day after New Years (when idiots like to discharge firearms into the air, and overhead cables get hit), you really don't see the Cable TV trucks replacing all this cable.  It's good stuff, meant to last, and usually has a velocity factor 84.

Let's say your RF signal travels 100ft through the air - pretty easily, there's no obstructions, sort of like a beam of light (the same).  If we put that same RF signal into a piece of COAX, there's just a little bit of "resistance" to the signal moving easily from one end to the other.   That's the cable's velocity factor.  So if the cable is 84% as "fast" as light going 100ft, the same signal, transmitted over the cable, the same length of time (Frequency), will only travel 84% of the distance - 84ft.   Typically, the standard Coax we HAMs use is anywhere from 64% to 84% - but, it's not all bad!   Sometimes, getting a "slower" coax saves money, or helps us "tune" the antenna system for better performance.

Someone is reading this, "I'm looking to hook up my CB radio... can I use 75ohm Cable TV coax...?"  YES!
Assume the cable is 84%.  You need 1/2 wavelength of it, so...  back to the formula (which is on the TEST, so remember it!).  Let's just go for the middle of the 11 meter band.   468 / 27.2Mhz = 17.2 ft.  OK - but.. that's if the coax is 100% - right?  So we sort of "de-rate the cable's performance"  17.2 x 84% = 14.4 ft.  Awesome!!! you're thinking, I won't have to coil up a bunch of stiff & ugly TV coax in my 18 wheeler!

What if the coax is 66%...?  17.2 x 66% = 11.3 ft.   Even better, that just made a shorter coax to achieve the SAME effect!   Note:   50ohm, 75ohm, whatever - by using 1/2 wavelengths of coax, it becomes a non-factor to the radio (and your reception might improve slightly too!).

Remember, RF energy isn't magic, it is part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, just as all the colors of the Rainbow are, plain old visible light.  The RF we use is just higher in frequency, so we don't "see" it.  How we get that energy to and from the antenna/radio/transceiver is just as important as the SIZE of the antenna, or it's components.   

Also... the Cable TV guy is your friend.   Offer him a diet coke for a little handful of those coax scraps in his truck.  You can experiment with the length, it's not as scary as it seems.  But, if you really have to, find an electronics store, or visit a HAMfest, and when you BUY 50' or 100' coax, pre-terminated with Pl-259 connectors, remember this, "There is no HAM band that will match up at 1/2 wavelength at those lengths."   You can always ADD an adapter, to grow it long enough and make everything happy again... and tape up the connectors with 33+ electrical tape, hope the dog & squirrels aren't attracted to it, etc.

One last thing about Coax - % shielding.   All coax cables lose a little bit of signal, some to heat - it's electrical energy, travelling down a wire, there is a tiny bit of resistance in wire, so it heats a tiny bit, signal degrades.   Longer the wire, the higher the loss to heating.   But, there's another way RF energy is lost, through the shielding - the braid or foil & braid of the coax.  The RF signal travels down the center of the wire in the middle of the coax.  The insulator material spaces the center conductor away from the shield wires / foil that's wrapped round the outside.  That insulating material has certain semi-conductive properties, things like a lightning strike can overcome (it shorts out, blows a hole through, fuses it into a lump, etc).   The impedance of the coax is based on the insulating material & space between the shield & center conductor - we're not gonna worry about that though.   The shield is there to contain the signal, whether it's braided Copper, Aluminum, steel, or a thin foil is what we want to know.

95% shield means 5% holes in the shield ... signal leaves and interference enters... not good.
100% shield means 0% holes... hard to lose your signal where you don't want it to go (TV set, tooth fillings, lose stove bolts).   100% also means you get what's entering your antenna, and not what's cooking in the microwave oven.   Oh... in case you forgot, Cable TV coax is 100% shielded... they don't want Aunt Millie's leaky microwave disrupting the Soaps.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


Quote from: Hoofer on January 25, 2021, 10:05:11 AM
yeah, whatever.   My interest is in the practical side of communications.  Whether its done by CB, GMRS, HAM - but I would like to encourage EVERYONE to get a General Class Amateur Radio License!  You'll learn a lot, have a lot of fun while talking (or doing morse code, or another digital mode) all over America, and possibly all the way around the world.   I have over 5000 contacts, all DX (outside the USA).  It's pretty neat when you call "CQ CQ CQ - callsign" and someone from Italy answers (in English), you talk a bit, and then someone from another foreign-like region (California or New York)... LOL

I'm not an EXPERT, by any means.   This is a HOBBY for me.  A very fun hobby, and for those who are getting near or have retired - looking for something to keep your mind SHARP - HAM radio naturally challenges the brain in many ways, like playing a piano!   I've never, ever, met an elderly HAM who didn't retain all his mental faculties, and not enjoy meeting other HAMs, or possibly doing a contest.  Better than TV, which is a waste of time.
You're missing the point dummy! There are a lot of people seeking alternative information on the subject who don't trust other sites.
This thread could be one like the "To kill a raccoon" Post, as bad as it is, it was a necessary evil full of information people needed.

Point is, you're speaking to hundreds of thousands of readers seeking this very information and they aren't being forced to log in or give their email, we don't even force cookies on them.
Official Trump Cult Member



While listening to a local repeater, usually early on in the week, shortly after dinner... we hear, "This is a NET...." etc.

A "NET" is a prearranged meeting, at a prearranged time, at a prearranged frequency / repeater location.
Tonight, about 8pm, EST, in Floyd County, Virginia, we have a "Directed NET" on 147.210, offset +.6 MHz (147.810), squelch tone 114.8.   NOTE:  The frequency plus offset 600Hz equals a second frequency the repeater is also using, one for listening & the other for transmitting simultaneously.  The squelch tone 144.8 "opens" the repeater for use, we don't hear this sub-frequency on this FM repeater.  This is the kind of repeater those little Bad-Fang hand-helds can listen and talk to.  This is the 2 meter band (147MHz).

Right at the top of the hour, the Net Controller will ask any repeater to cease so the Directed NET can begin.  It starts with something like, "Good evening, this is (callsign), and welcome to the (club/net name) Tuesday night net.  This is a Directed Net for the benefit of all HAMs, please address your checkin and comments to the Net Controller, (callsign).   We will begin to take checkins, please state your callsign, name and if you have any traffic/messages to pass or comments.  We will start with Mobile or Portable stations first."

A Mobile: "Net Control, please check in (callsign), I have no traffic, two comments to pass."
Meanwhile, the Net Controller is logging each station, as they come in, usually taking 4-5 stations, and pausing....  When there are no more mobile/portable stations, the Net Controller returns to the first station and asks them to pass on their 2 comments, then the next mobile/portable station, etc.

"OK, this is Net Control, we have several Mobile stations, (callsign, no traffic, 2 comments), and (callsign, no traffic, no comments), etc.  On to FIXED stations for check ins.  Do we have any Fixed stations, please check in now."

A Fixed station is at your QTH (HOME), non-mobile, non-portable.   We take the moving stations FIRST, because they will quickly move out-of-range of the repeater.  Most likely, it's the Mobile stations who will have important "traffic" to pass, weather conditions, power lines down, cow on the road, accidents, etc., and wish inform the listeners, or have someone with a phone call in the situation for them.

The Fixed stations (most of the check ins will be Fixed), each check in, somewhat orderly, and state whether or not they have any traffic or comments.  The process is repeated, 4-5 stations, a pause... the Net Controller repeats the check ins (to make sure they got it right, and any corrections are then made), takes more check ins, until nobody else is left.  Some stations will say, "no traffic, check me in and out" - that's so people know they're "alive", and maybe they want someone to know they're around the radio for an "after the net conservation".  Check me in and out, means "Net Control, no need to call on me."

About this point, the Net Control gives any group/club announcements:  "Winter Field Day is Jan 29th-30th.  We are setting up a Club Station at Ronda's house, she's kicking Fred out of garage, he's relegated to the BBQ grill, while us girls run the tables and rack up a huge score for Winter Field Day.  Be sure to drop by and get on the air, you don't need a license since we're using the Club Callsign.  Everyone is invited!"

Meanwhile, everyone who has checked in, is waiting for their turn - they will be called on to give the traffic message, comment, or just be recognized (maybe someone else will wish to talk to them LATER).

Net Control:  "Let's start with the fixed station, (callsign), any comments for the Net?"
"Net control, this is (callsign), good evening everyone, good to hear (callsign/name) also here, we missed you at the big shindig Saturday night, hope everything is OK with you and your hubby.  Back to Net Control"
Net Control:  "Ok, (callsign) thank you for those comments, we get over to (callsign the person referenced) for their reply in a minute, on to (callsign - another person), any comments or traffic for the net?"
"Net Control, this is ...." and on it goes.   One person is controlling the flow of the conversation, which is necessary, because the repeater can only handle one person at a time.  When two people talk, we get a "double" - nobody is understood.

Finally, Net Control:  "Does anyone have any further comments?"  And individual callers direct their comments to the Net Controller, who continues to regulate the flow of conversation, until nobody has anything else to say.  "This concludes the (callsign/club name) Amateur Radio Net, we meet every Tuesday, on this repeater at 8pm.  Tonight we had 20 check ins, the Net ran from 8pm until 8:35PM, lively bunch tonight!   We are now returning this repeater to normal use, thank you (repeater owner) for the use of the repeater, good night all."

That's typical of a VHF/UHF repeater Net - they vary a bit, some have 5-6 people checking in, others have 35-40 people checking in.  As a HAM, it is a GOOD IDEA to support the Nets with check ins.  Should there ever be a real emergency, the practice you get by participating is invaluable -and- knowing / being known by the other operators goes a long ways towards being more than some fool who just picked up a radio & started jabbering.  Serious, we practice for that emergency, you should too1

The other kind of NET is done via CW (morse code) or SSB Phone over the HF bands (High Frequency bands are lower in frequency than VHF - Very High Frequency and UHF - Ultra-high Frequency.  HF travels a much longer distance than VHF/UHF.  HF Nets are usually in the mornings and continue here and there, into the earliest part of the evenings.  Some are specialty Nets, directed the same way with a Net Controller, but for people with a common interest, common background, club or employer.  The key is to LISTEN for "all other check ins", or "New check ins".   These Nets can run an hour or more, the comments are usually interesting, maybe weather, some event coming up, a new radio, death in the family (Silent Key), a radio to trade - conversation just kinda wanders - but, it's still directed by a Net Controller.

The last kind of "pseudo net" is that informal gathering of a bunch of HAMs, a "round robin" net. 
One person checks their regular meeting frequency for avialibility, "Is this frequency in use?"  waits, calls again, "Is this frequency in use?"  no answer - "Nothing heard, this is (call sign)" or gives the call sign of another station, then their call sign - shorthand for saying, "Hey (call sign) are you out there, this is (ME) calling you."   And, if they planned it close enough, (call sign) was already listening, and responds - the conversation is started.  As new stations are added, the "control".. rather loosely, is passed from one person to the next, around the group.  This kind of "rag chewing" can literally go on for HOURS, and the topics of discussion can be quite humorous, educational, maybe troubleshooting someone's audio problem, antennas, ideas on whatever.  People come and go, it's very informal.

Sometimes calling "CQ" and just asking for anyone to talk to, starts with one person, and another is added, and another, etc., who knows where the conversation can lead.  But, every 10 minutes, everyone rattles off their call sign in rapid succession.  The call sign identifies you're a licensed HAM & legal to use the radio, and who you are.  These are public airwaves, regulated by the FCC, just purchasing a radio doesn't give you the right to use it, and certainly not the ability to use it properly.

Here's an interesting video - there's a few more, promoting HAM radio - by responsible HAMs.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


This weekend, at least 2 big events are taking place among HAMS.

The CW 160 event (gotta know morse code)
and the ARRL Winter Field Day - all modes!

Follow the link above and click on the event for rules, and where to catch the action.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


February 16, 2021, 10:00:02 AM #39 Last Edit: February 16, 2021, 10:21:51 AM by Hoofer
Busy, busy, busy lately.  And the local repeaters were kinda quiet, then, the ice storm hit in SW & So. Virginia on Saturday - and everything with battery backup & generators was popping!  It's pretty neat to hear where the damage is... before you get there, IF you're "On-call" and get called to go start a backup genset... 80 miles from home... in an ice storm... with fallen trees & power lines blocking roads.

I QUIT hauling a chainsaw in the back of my service truck, years ago - if the road is blocked, I'll turn around & find another way, if there is one.

So, my first call-out, Saturday morning, 2hrs after we lost power, 11am, was for fiber damage somewhere between me and Greensboro, NC.  Truck in 4wd, mag-mounted antenna all iced up, at least I could hear what was going on.  I had absolutely no idea, totally unprepared for all the cellular "dead" zones which I would encounter.   Normally, it's a 20min ride to this Regen / Hub site which carries traffic for names everyone knows, and... Hospitals.  We're the absolute shortest path between sites, it makes sense to choose us.  But, a lot of that fiber is aerial, making ice storms & trees our enemy.

I literally was cut off, on a main road of travel, downed power lines.
Tried calling my cohort in Greensboro on the HAM radio, 2 meter repeater - no answer... nothing at all.
Maybe it was my radio, maybe he was busy, who knows.
Pull out the cell phone...  No service.
Turn the truck around, retracing my route... a tree had just fallen, blocking my "alternative" route to the highway- the new route would have been 45 minutes instead of 20.
Guy shows up with a chainsaw, sees a line of cars, and starts cutting & moving branches off the road.
20min later, we're moving again - until we get to the power line which had also just fallen.

Mind you, I've driven about 15mi towards town, backtracked about 7-8mi to the tree blockage, only to find power lines on the road, at an angle you could just "drive over" or "under" ... until the tree finished them off, or.. the pole snapped, which it did, and we just drove over it.  Which also put me in an active cellular area.  A couple phone calls, conference in with the fellow HAM (no radio in his work truck), and was told to "just go home".   4 1/2hrs later, I was back at the house, with less than 1/4 tank of gas.

Sunday, I get an "emergency-Urgent ticket" with a required on-site response time.   Generator wouldn't start.  And, it's a remote location, 80mi away, power is out, and someone thought they'd be nice and let me "sleepin" or something.   Diesel gensets don't start easily when they're COLD.  About 2 1/2hrs later, I was hitting the Preheat and cranking... on the 5th try, it sputtered and hunted, finally came to life.  Now to navigate back home, in an ice storm... 6 1/2hrs later, I'm back in a warm house, STILL without power.

----------- Now, there's the other half of the story.

Wifey and youngest daughter both have puppies, brothers, nearly identical looking, but different personalities.  Friday night, there's a slight injury, and the daughter's dog is limping around.  Vet says, we're open Saturday AM, bring him in, we'll take a look at that twisted leg.  Yeah, it was kinda noticeable,  he'd be running north, but this hind leg was pointing NW, under his body.  "Take him in, this weather isn't looking good, better to get there and get back, before it gets worse."

No problem!  Her Nissan Titan XD Diesel in 4wd just runs through snow like a beginner on hockey skates, bobbing and weaving all over the road.  I forgot to mention the part about forgetting to throw some batteries, sand bags, or dog food in the back for traction...  Wifey gets to the vet, with ease!   Daughter calls me on the cell phone, "We're gonna run to town (about 3 miles) and get some stuff for the grill, you want anything?"   (that's like saying, "I got a winning lottery ticket here, I'll split it with you.")  "Yeah, a couple of steaks, I'm getting tired of an all Pork diet."  (cows are not big enough to whack...).

What I should have said, "GO HOME!"   Or, "turn the RADIO ON, and let me track your progress, incase you get stuck or held up somewhere and there's no cell service."   Both being pointless, she's Scot-Irish, and nothing short of a direct word from God would convince her otherwise... No matter, we both love her, me and God.   During my 2nd stop, at the power line blocking the road, it occurred to me, a little bit too late, "Hoofer... your woman needs to get home, if you're stuck, you KNOW she's stuck, or gonna be soon!"  Cell phone working... call the daughter, who was waiting in an idling truck with the pups, because grocery stores don't allow dogs inside.  "You're still in the parking lot?  What's taking so long?  Been chatting with the VET and other dog-people?  You gotta go get mom, and tell her it's time to get home, because roads are closing, and you got a 15-18mi drive through this stuff."

Here's the real mistake we made.  The FTM-400-DX is a great radio by Yeasu, if it's in the vehicle, and then if it's TURNED ON.   Using APRS, I can pull up her location, and talk to her, exchange texts, all kinds of stuff.   So, when I get this call, "we're stuck" - I got absolutely NO IDEA where they actually are.

Fortunately, it's a main highway, tree fell over, and some guys with pickups & chain saws are just cruising around, moving trees and hopefully making a few bucks, or scoring a few beers or impressing someone besides my 17yr old daughter.  At least men have recognizable landmarks, "by that tavern", 'bout a mile past where your wife hit a deer", that plugged up drain under the road they've been working on for 3 weeks."  Women, are sort of like... "Marsha's place, we passed that 5 min ago." - who's Marsha? - "We met her at the dog training place." - oh, yeah... where's the dog training place?   "Nevermind."

So, our battery bank lasted from Saturday am, till Monday night, running our furnace through a UPS.
I picked up a tiny generator, because the big house one (vintage 1974) just wouldn't start (propane, but has bad brushes on the start winding).  This little 2kw inverter unit is big enough to run the furnace, and slowly charge the battery banks at 27amps & 54volts.

My co-worker just texted me, we got another ice storm rolling in, Thursday, giving us ONE day to:

Get wifey's radio working in her truck.
Charge up the original banks of batteries (340ah @ 48vdc).
Wire up and start charging a second relay rack of batteries (340ah @ 48vdc).
If enough time, a third relay rack batteries (200ah @ 48vdc)
top off the house radio's & Weather computer's battery bank (160ah @ 12vdc)
Charge up ALL the flashlight batteries, and pick up a couple of quarts of ultra-pure lantern fuel.
... and move all the UPSes to the standby locations so when the power goes out AGAIN, I'm not fumbling around in the dark with these 3000va rack mount units.

And some gasoline for the generator.

Wifey is going to FILL the bathtub with water + a tiny bit of bleach for flushing toilets (should I fail to get the 240vac UPS for the well pump running.)  We have a nice little Solar Well pump 60vdc, but haven't trenched in a line and added it to the well.

Just watched the weather forecast, South Side Virginia is predicting 3/4" of ICE, and we just got power back on, 5hrs ago.   Sometimes, I kinda miss rural Wisconsin... at least there we got SNOW.   This ICE stuff is worse!

BTW... if you ever come across one of those old APC 3000va UPS units being thrown out because the batteries are shot, they are wonderful for situations like this!   I got a small "stack" of them from a college that decided to "consolidate" & save space.  Every one of them WORKS, and one of them is a 240v unit, perfect for running a well pump.  Our plan for power outages is to run the UPSes, and backfill the battery charge via a small generator - should the 10kw one not run.   At least we don't have all that noise, or LP gas consumption.

Think about this:  My neighbor has a 20kw genset.  Burns +1 gallon per hour.  Power was out 80 hours.  LP fuel is $2.25 per gallon.  In a little over 3 days, he's burned more fuel than his total electric bill ($180) for the entire month... AND, he's still burning LP for his furnace (everything else is electric).
My total LP gas for last winter was less than $700.
(last minute note:  Fill the bathtub with water, for flushing toilets)

The bottom line ought to be obvious, the HAM radio is no-good without batteries, and then hooked up, ready to go.  Extra batteries, all charged, could make the difference between the ability to "call for help for hours", or toughing it out alone.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


Quote from: dickfoster on January 16, 2021, 02:55:38 AM
I haven't heard the words ham radio in years. I was really into it back in the day and was even in charge of a MARS station for awhile. Of course there was a code requirement back then but I'd already learned that as a boy scout as did many.

Bless my soul, just noticed this older thread. 
When I was stationed North of SF, at Hamilton AFB (now kaput) in 65'-66' I used to go up to the MARS station and since I still had a good ticket - K3RSS - I was allowed to play with the Collins S line, barefoot usually.  Since there was log-periodic antenna on a 100' tower had no problem with contacts.  There was also a Ham ticket for the location - K6FCT - "Friendly California Transcendentalist" so I called it.

No longer any urge to get back into it, but 'those were the days'.
Be courageous; the race of man is divine.   Golden Verses of Pythagoras


Quote from: Skull on February 16, 2021, 10:52:23 AM
Bless my soul, just noticed this older thread. 
When I was stationed North of SF, at Hamilton AFB (now kaput) in 65'-66' I used to go up to the MARS station and since I still had a good ticket - K3RSS - I was allowed to play with the Collins S line, barefoot usually.  Since there was log-periodic antenna on a 100' tower had no problem with contacts.  There was also a Ham ticket for the location - K6FCT - "Friendly California Transcendentalist" so I called it.

No longer any urge to get back into it, but 'those were the days'.

HAM radio has changed so much in the last decade, it's hardly recognizable.   Between the band conditions changing, and the low bands going wide open early and staying open late, coast to coast or DX contacts are incredible.

Add into that, the use of Remotes, a whole new thing which puts you in Prime locations, low noise floor and right where you always wanted to work from, but couldn't afford.  2 years ago, we visited St. Croix (Virgin Islands), and got together with several HAMS.  One of the guys ... found his place by looking for towers ... had 2 guys running his rigs from Stateside, running legal limit for some International contest - oh, what a pileup they had, but worked it like Professionals.
Another guy rents an apartment, with a radio!   

Whether your a CW operator (morse code), or Phone (voice) or Data (RTTY, FT8, etc.), the weekends are just packed with opportunities.

Then - there's the other kinds of Remotes - POTA (Parks on the Air), SOTA (Summit on the Air), special event stations, memorial events.  It's one thing to make the contact TO them, it's even more fun to work stations FROM them.

So, a few years ago, we loaded up the 12 passenger van, removed the front seat, added a couple of chairs, 2 FT-450D radios, 2 40meter verticals, and a pair of Dipoles.  Headed out to the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.   We set up, in this "bowl" - hills/mountains surrounding us - and I let the kids "run" on frequency.  (you find an open frequency, nobody using it, and start calling "CQ-CQ-CQ..." and collect all those contacts.  We had a blast, 8 hrs of working stations, unforgettable experience.
The van had a table in it, right where the first row of bench seat was, and two chairs facing backwards, so the kids faced each other across the table, working 20 & 40 meters, barefoot (100watts).   

The next year, we worked there, and later moved to Ground Hog Mountain, higher, with a beautiful view into North Carolina.  We set up in the Tobacco Barn, strung an antenna out the window, into a tree... which eventually brought a Park Ranger our way, "What are you doing???"   Without missing a beat, the kids started promoting the Blue Ridge Parkway over the air, the deer wandering by, Turkeys & chicks browsing outside the window - Park Ranger got quiet, listened...  One of the girls, says, "Oh, here's a Ranger, maybe he'd like to say a few words about Ground Hog Mountain?"   He left.   We had prior permission to set up for this Special Event, he obviously didn't know that.  We had a blast, working all over the USA on 20 & 40 meters, hundreds and hundreds of contacts.

City of Roanoke (Virginia) has sort of a "Family Day" at a local park.   It's kinda on a hill, with a Flag Pole, cast into concrete... irresistible, for any HAM worth their salt.   The question was, "How best to load-her-up for the radio?"  - that's make the Flagpole into a decent antenna.  I wrapped wire around it, took it back to the coax, one end to the shield, the other to center conductor, like a transformer, fair results, it DID work, but not as good as running a wire up the rope, under the flag and stringing out a couple of radials.  That worked so good, we just skipped the radials, and grounded the shield - just about as good.   Mind you, there's a LOT of noise in the middle of a city, so getting contacts is a bit of work, but, it DID work!   When the "band" started playing music... and we heard "CQ-CQ-CQ" over their speakers... meh, time to quit.  Not our fault they use CHEAP electronics that are not properly filtered.

OBX (Outer Banks, North Carolina) is a long stretch of Sand along the Atlantic coastline.  What they "say" about salt water and HAM radio, is TRUE!   Signals do go a LONG way, with little power.  And, if you love to Surf Fish, what better way to pass the time, than "fishing for DX contacts on 40 meters" between fish runs?  So, I got this pile-up going, mid-day on 40 meters into the EU.  First time I called "CQ", a guy from Greece answers, and we get to "rag chewing" - he's never been here, I've never been there, is there any merit to Greek Mythology, are they real places you can visit, etc.  No Italian can sit there, listening to a Greek dude bragging, without butting in about Rome conquering the world, so we got a three-way, or "round Robin" going, and then a couple of German dudes start up.  Pretty funny!

A couple of hours into it, yep, a Park Ranger notices my bright orange antenna, and comes racing over to my car on the beach, "WHAT are you doing?" as he's hearing the thick accents of foreigners...   I had to explain HAM radio, until I realized he didn't care about that - but that the Antenna "might be frightening off the Plovers" (yea, a bird that doesn't belong there, lives in Plover, Wisconsin - and invasive species, I say!).   In 2 decades of surf fishing OBX, I could count on ONE HAND all the Plovers I've seen on the beach.  He quit after a few minutes, realizing the Seagulls & Sand Pipers weren't scared - they were trying to steal bait... and leaves.

We're back into the "thick of international relations, solving the world's problems with large doses humor fueled by adult beverages... on both sides of the Atlantic" - when that sound like a screaming baby in the night, snaps me to instant attention, "Zzzzzzzz,   Zzzzzz!" - Clicker going wild - FISH ON!   It was a nice size Blue (yes, they do taste good, if you cook them up right away - also make great bait for other fish, including Blues).   My last transmission was, "Gotta go, FISH ON!  73s". 
You'd think these foreigners would just "Shut UP" and let me work the boiling waters of Blues - but nooo.... they kept calling, while I'm hauling fish ashore & filling the cooler.  There's a point, where you're so busy casting, dragging fish ashore, unhooking into the cooler, and casting ... the radio doesn't even register in your hearing.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  The Run of Blues was short lived, I was panting like a hot dog on the beach from running back & forth, up & down the beach... "This UN session is concluded", just turned the radio OFF.  I got other "fish to fry" from then on.

As a side note - most radios will "shut down" on low voltage.  But, there are Battery Boosters, which bump the voltage back up to 13-14 volts, from say... 10-11 volts.  This allows your radio to do it's full output, for a long time!   Where as a 2hr session on the beach or at a remote site would quickly make an average car battery start dipping below 11 volts (shutting down the radio), these Battery Boosters will keep you going for 6-8hrs!   Bring a battery BESIDES your car/truck battery & save that for getting you home.  typically, the boosters run a little over $100 - well worth the investment.
I can't think of a worse case scenario than being able to hear everything, and impossible to transmit, because your battery just barely below that shut-off threshold.  We have FOUR units (different brand), ours do about 45amps.

EVERY time we did a remote, special event, POTA station, we used battery boosters, everytime!
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


If you're going to put a radio in a vehicle, do it right.  You'll enjoy it that much more.
Alan "K0BG" has provided the BEST analysis and backs it up with real experience, the ins-outs of Mobile operations.

On to that burning question, "should I drill a hole through the roof to mount my antenna?"
Lots of things to consider:

a. reinforcing the roof.  Most modern vehicles have metal so flimsy & thin, it's formed with ridges to help keep it's initial shape.  Mounting anything through that - the first time you run into a parking garage, or something low, you run the risk of tearing the antenna off, via a gaping hole... ouch!   a 6"x6" backer plate is almost a must.

b.  Will it kill the trade in value?   I've gotten the SAME answer to that question, many times from dealers, "NO!  not in the least."   The options are, leave it there, or remove it and insert a flat plastic or metal plug, sealing it before you insert it.  Even a cheap plastic furniture plug with some clear silicone caulk is fine (done that many times myself).

c.  Where is the best place to mount an antenna on a vehicle?   Right in the middle of the roof is where you'll get the most consistent radiation pattern.  Where is the worst place to mount?  IMO, a trailer hitch.  Certainly.. someone reading this is thinking, "why does it matter?"  The body of the vehicle becomes part of the antenna, so the strongest radiation/reception pattern works *across* the vehicle, weakest towards the short side of the vehicle.

d.  What's wrong with a lip or trunk mount antenna?  This begins a much larger discussion of 'what exactly is the ground plane of the vehicle?'   Short, simple answer is you want ALL of it, and we're dealing with a really imperfect grounding system, with lots of insulated joints that need to have grounding straps.  Every door hinge, body panel, joint, can be a high resistive connection, basically insulating that piece from the antenna's usefulness.

Sometimes, it's just impractical to mount a BIG antenna, without guying (ropes to keep it from swaying all over the place), you've gotta deal with what you've got.  IMO, a mag-mount antenna is the worst in performance, but second only to an antenna with a skinny loading coil.  Loading coils are really mediocre at the base of the antenna, best in the center, and a capacitance hat tops them all in performance - but, you work with what you can.

Here's an experiment, we found out the hard way.   Compare how your radio sounds when it's dry, roads are dry, to when it's raining.  If it "hears" more stations while wet - you've got a grounding or ground plane issue.  If it's the same, you're lucky.  If it's worse - you've got a shorting issue between the antenna and the vehicle.  I'll bet, your radio's performance changes with the weather, especially for HF, gets *better*, because the wet road becomes a little bit of the antenna's ground plane.

For lots of great articles, Alan K0BG has compiled the most comprehensive mobile operating web site I've ever seen...  Using his knowledge base, I went from placing 7th in mobile contests, to winning 3 divisions in one contest, following some simple rules:
a.  If you can't hear them, you cannot work them.
b.  Resonance is KEY for receiving - SWR is for transmitting, just keeps the radio's finals (transistors) happy - has nothing to do with "getting a good signal out or receiving".
c.  Center of the vehicle, thru-the-roof is the ONLY reliable place to mount.
d.  Coax in a mobile is *more* critical to noise rejection and preventing interference with the vehicle's electronics than anything else.
e.  Center loading the antenna yields many times better performance than base loading.
f.  Stainless Steel whips are pretty... pretty BAD antennas too!  Stainless adds a resistive load, diminishes your signal both ways.  Silver, Copper, Aluminum are king.  Chrome is as bad as stainless steel.
g.  One continuous piece of metal (copper, aluminum), without soldier or crimp joints can make a huge difference as the antenna ages, oxidizes.  If you must join things together, use conductive grease.  Multiple material / metal changes across the length of the antenna, copper, to zinc plated connectors, to brass or stainless, to steel set screws, to chrome to stainless adjusting rods - and all kinds of washers in between - diminishes your ability to receive signals.
h.  Tune for resonance, to hear best, the signals you want - everything else, is unwanted noise/interference.  a radio's tuner does not do that for you, the length of the antenna is primary.
i. the length of the coax in a vehicle can make the difference between a good SWR or one difficult to tune.  1/2wl still matters, why make life difficult for yourself?

The bottom line:  If you can't hear them, you cannot work them.  All the wattage in the world isn't gonna help you hear better.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


Too many times, this has happened.  Forgot something, coax, antenna, connector/adapter, batteries (or charger), the "Go Kit" lacks something.  You're still able to 'get on the air', but with a little difficulty.

Here's an easy to build antenna, works good... in fact better than something you'd buy, and is easily stored.
A sleeve dipole, or a dipole made out of coax.   This isn't rocket science, most HAMS live for improvising in the field, making contacts in less than idea conditions.

BTW... there is some contest EVERY weekend, this is no exception, https://www.contestcalendar.com/weeklycont.php, take a look.

Here's one example of a Sleeve Dipole for 10/11 meters (CB antenna)

The overall length is derived from the formula 468/frequency desired = length in feet.
Use 1/2 of that, 234/frequency desired = length in feet.
If the shield just doesn't want to slide over the coax (like in the picture), cut it off at the same point where you stripped it, scrunch it a little, and then slide it over the coax, stretching it back out - then reconnect the shield at the cut point - just kinda twist it together, use some tape, if necessary to keep it in place.

I would make a small loop on the end (center conductor), tie a string on it, and pull it up into a tree.
The radiation pattern is like a "donut" laying flat on a plate, it's "deaf" from the end, but hears 360 degrees around the wires.   Since the ground will have some effect, if it's close to the ground, the pattern shifts a little, and it'll hear a little more off the end.  This is EASILY made while out in the field.

Both ends (center conductor & shield), trim to the same length - but instead of actually CUTTING... and making it too short, fold it back on itself.  Folding the skinny end (center conductor), also gives you a little loop for the rope/string. to hang it up.  A piece of tape, or just wrapping the wire around itself as you lengthen or shorten it to "fine tune".  Same with the shield.  Too long - scrunch it up a little, and twist it around the insulated coax enough to hold it in place, use tape if you have it.

To get both ends even, just fold the top (center conductor) over the shield, and even them up - doesn't need to be exact, and the shield can be slightly longer too!


This is a simple dipole.  The picture shows an insulator in the middle, you can add that, but if you're already in the middle of nowhere - trying to get something to work, why bother!  At any rate, with this simple antenna, you'll need a couple of trees to pull it up,  a little more hassle.   Just getting one end (the center conductor end), up in the air, like it's sloping actually makes a decent antenna.

So, what's the point of this?   This HAM hobby is for CHEAPSKATES.  don't spend money you don't need to, and when you have to (the radio), get a GOOD radio - it'll make the rest of the hobby that much more enjoyable.
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...


A couple of things I hate about batteries...

a.  They all lose power over time & don't tell you they're flat.
b.  The good ones are expensive, and the Chinese who make them, LIE about how many Ah (amp hour) or mAh (milliamp-hour) ratings.  Worst of them are the Li-ion.  Project Farm guy has done some great comparison testing on these, watch it some time, and you'll see what I mean.
c.  They FAIL when you need them the most, because you forget they need regular charging or replacement.  "Spare" battery packs *always* burned me, like the one's for those Bad-Fang, hand-helds.  We've trying to work across the farm on something, where yelling doesn't work, and 30 min. into it, someone's radio goes dead.
d.  The voltage of batteries/packs varies widely, almost requiring the use of BUCK/BOOSTERS to keep your HAM rig "happy".  I got a bunch of those things, varying in capacity and purpose.  These are the things in HAM radio that just drive the cost of the hobby up.
e.  The charging devices, use POWER, whether they're actually charging, or just left plugged into the outlet.  Phantom power and the added bonus of RF NOISE from those darn wall-warts with cheap electronics - china-made, filling the airwaves with buzzing, humming, popping & whistles.

Here's the Project Farm guy - he's done some great work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzZrB974Zro  These are the "standard" battery sizes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMZuHMlRw_0  I use these 18650 size the most!  Flashlights, radios, game caller, literally all my emergency backup devices use *these* 18650 batteries.  I have EBL and the LG-MJ1.. a bunch of them.  The EBL were inexpensive, and never lived up the 3000mAh rating... while the LG-MJ1 cost more, they can run the same flashlights 3-5x longer, takes longer to charge, meh, who cares, so long as they "deliver" when called upon.  Running a flashlight 30min vs several hours, I've gone to the longer lasting LG-MJ1 batteries.

As the Project Farm guy points out - choose the battery rated according to you use!  You're not going to get a 10amp draw out of a battery rated for a 5amp load.  If you have a hand-held radio, chances are it's RF output is <10 watts - most radios' finals are 50% efficient, input 10watts of power for 5watts of output at the antenna.  A typical HF, base style radio usually takes 22-25 amps at 13.8 volts (300 watts in for 100 watts RF out!)

I have decided to "convert" our Motorola MWR815 weather alert radio (6-15vdc) from the 4 AA or 4 C batteries to 2 LG-MJ1  (7.4~8.2vdc), using a 2 cell battery holder for these rechargeable batteries.  I could have gone with AA rechargeables, but, this would be the ONLY device in the house using them.  I like the idea of one battery type fits everything, one charger type, recharges everything.  For me, keeping to ONE battery size/type has worked the best.

Here's another idea, for a DIY 100ah battery, interesting to watch, if you're not into shelling out $500 PLUS all the tools, spot welder, etc., which would push the cost up a bit more..
It's probably cheaper to just shop for the bigger Li-on battery packs for your "HAM shack" base radio, or use AGM batteries, which are pretty safe, and can be UPS shipped (they are called "spill proof").  I've dropped a few of these over the years, cracking the cases, nothing leaks out.  A couple of them I just taped back up, tested them, and used them.

The CHEAPEST way to get batteries - get to know someone in the Communications business, Internet Provider, Telephone, etc., we all use them.  Many companies replace their batteries on a 3 year term, even though they're good for 3-5x times that.  I recently "retired" vintage 2003, 12vdc, 100ah, AGMs, which I absolutely "punished" from when I got them, about 2007.  When they start to "heat", or you notice the sides bulging, or shrinking in, or smell 'rotten eggs' - disconnect them immediately, let them cool off, take them to the recycler.  Because HAMs are real cheapskates - and provide a very valuable service when other systems FAIL, I've given away hundreds of batteries to repeater operators, clubs and anyone who expressed an interest in HAM radio.  Some guys are still running 10yr old AGM & GELL cell batteries for their stations.

If your emergency communications plan is dependent on a radio, or cell phone, batteries are automatically, the crucial component of making that plan work.  Having multiple sources for recharging, off a car/truck's lighter socket, USB computer port, wall-warts, or generator, gives your backup plan a good fall-back for when the power fails.  I'll suggest thinking in 3's, one battery to operate, one in the charger, one fully charged & ready to go.  Same with recharging methods, figure out 3 ways to bring them back to usefulness when one or two of them fail.  Most hand held radios have a "charging port" you'd plug into.  Question is:  Can you plug a cable from a backup battery directly into that radio - probably?

Most base-style radios require a 12vdc power supply, rated at 22-25amps.   Can you parallel that with a big battery to keep your radio going when the power is out?  It's an easy way to keep that battery charged up!
All animals are created equal; Some just take longer to cook.   Survival is keeping an eye on those around you...