ARES

Think for a minute where your water comes from.  While you think about that also think about where your power comes from.  Not sure?  Don’t know?  I am not looking for “the faucet” or from “the plug”.  

Water comes from a large source like a lake, reservoir or major stream or river.   Water is pumped, by electrical means from the source through underground pipes to a treatment plant.  Then it is pumped out in main trunk lines, that are under ground, to be distributed to houses and places of business through an even more complex and longer series of pipes.  At some point in the maize of pipes is a device to hold or keep pressure on the liens so that water flows when the tap is turned on and doesn’t sit in the pipes.  This is often a water tower or water tank in which water is pumped into at a great volume and height to keep a constant pressure on the outgoing water supply.

So your water gets to your house by underground pipe that has pressure applied to it by means of a water tower (at some point) and an electrical pump at many levels or locations from the source.

Turn off the power, drain the water tower or break a pipe and your out of water.  Now multiply that by the houses in your town, county and then in the region around you……………..

Think about your electricity the same way except it is all in overhead lines on wooded poles (for the most part) assuming that the major supply lines (those big steel transmission lines) don’t fall down as well.  Think about the last time you were without power.  How long did it take to fix that one pole that broke? Fix that one substation the went down?  Replace that one transformer that took a lightening hit.  Now multiply that time by the number of homes, poles, towns and such in your region.

And we haven’t talked about natural gas, fuel, propane, sewers, storm water, telephones and internet.  All things that travel under ground in pipes or in lines attached to poles up in the air.

It is estimated that it will take MONTHS to restore just basic service of water and power.  In some of the more rural areas it might be a YEAR or more.  Most pipelines that supply the NE US (Chicago alone gets most of its gas supplied though pipelines that run through this area) will have numerous breaks and take months if not years to fix.  Roads and bridges will be impassable for YEARS.

This isn’t a winter storm where the power will be out for a while and then come back on.  It is not a winter storm where you have time to go get milk and bread at the store before it gets here.  This will be a NO NOTICE EVENT.

The economic loss will be beyond comparison.  A 7.0 New Madrid earthquake would eclipse Hurricane Katrina in human and economic loss and not only hit the Mississippi/Ohio Valley hard but would hurt the entire eastern one third of the US.  Basically any service (natural gas, power, highway, rail or water) that runs through the shaded areas blow could be disrupted in a New Madrid event.  Look at the map, that basically blocks the east half of the country from the west half………

The human loss will be unbelievable as well:  Injured, killed and displaced.  During Katrina was the first time I have ever heard the news stations in the US and FEMA refer to people trying to get out of NOLA as “refugees”.  We will have a lot of “refugees” in the red and pink areas of the map above.  I don’t think we can comprehend the toll this event could take on human life.  The folks in NOLA had a chance to get out……….this is a NO NOTICE EVENT.

So, do you have a plan?  ”Waiting on the government helicopter to drop supplies” is not a plan………..  there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”. 

Another couple of thoughts from SLE 2011.

The next time you get in your car to go somewhere take the time to notice just how many bridges you have to cross, no matter how small or big they may be.  Notice how many roads go through low areas, especially those roads that are built up.  Notice how many power lines parallel the roads your on, not the little one or two line power lines but the larger 4-8 line power lines, on wooden poles.

Why notice this?

Because in the exercise most of those bridges, roads and power lines would be down and it would be impassable.  And we haven’t even talked about those large trees that might fall over along the same roads.

Well, I live in town…….ok how would you walk to anywhere with power lines down or even sewers collapsed etc.?

All those obstacles are just that, obstacles, to getting relief supplies and assistance to you in a major earthquake.  How long will it take to get to you from the least effected area?  DAYS.

So figure this:  The farther away you are from a major highway the longer it will take “the government” to get to your area to bring relief.

So that 65,000 gal of water that was requested yesterday is going to set on a truck now for the second day as they try to clear a road to get to your town or city.  It may be several  more days before it gets there.  That generator, same thing.  Those medical supplies, those doctors, that Hazmat team…….same thing.

And no Margret, there are not enough helichopters available in the first 72 hours to get the job done either.  Remember its not just your town its ALL OF THEM…….there are not enough helicopters for the job.

Roads, Bridges and Power Lines……………..

“there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”. 

 

Just a quick note this morning as I head into day 2 of SLE 2011, a state wide disaster drill here in Illinois that has a New Madrid earthquake as its plot.  I have been working with Region 11 as their RACES radio operator.

If an actual event were to happen as the plot has been……..well folks you are on your own so to speak for a good while.  How long?  Three days to 2 weeks?  Maybe even longer.  As one of the participants said as the request for assistance started to flow over the radio “there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”.

Which brings me to water.  It seemed like every time I turned around there was a request for water going out over the radio.  Not a case or two but thousands of gallons just for a days supply of drinking water for towns as they discovered their water supply was disrupted by the quake.

Water.

3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water………….

That got me to thinking just how prepared are folks for a disaster?  Do they have water?  Do they know where the hidden water is in their house?  How many ( I bet most) are counting on the government to supply water……..over broken bridges, broken roads and all other disrupted infrastructure…….

What else do they not know or don’t have if there were a disaster?  

“there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”.  

So what comes after water………..today we will find out.

 

Persistence:  To continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action or the like, especially in spite of opposition remonstrance, etc..

I am trying to persist.

Its not easy it seems anymore.

Took the weekend off and went to Evansville to the Appleseed shoot at Red Brush range and had a very enjoyable time despite the 40 mph winds that played havoc with our targets both days.  20+ Americans persisted over the weekend on the line to improve our shooting skills and learn our heritage.  It wasn’t easy or fun a time or two when the wind kept messing us up, but we persisted and shooters improved and learned and never quit.  And we had fun despite the wind.  

On the way over in the New Haven bottoms we saw lots of combines, auger wagons and trucks trying to get the harvest out in that area.  They were persisting.  It didn’t look like it was fun in places with the soil conditions but they were making a dent in it before it rained.  Having said that, the crops looked good from the road.  That however doesn’t mean much this year as a lot of fields that looked good from the road haven’t been good at all.

I got started with fall tillage yesterday but got rained out.  I will persist at getting it done when the ground dries out again.

I have been trying to get back in the swing some how to keep this blog more updated and relevant but I cant seem to get it done.  That being said I will persist at getting back on track………..

Headed down to see what I can do to help with the radio problems at the Region HQ for the Earthquake Exercise today.  A lot of people have persisted in getting this program set up for RACES/ARES to help and we continue to persist at making sure it will work if and when we need it to work.

The “to do list” gets longer every day but we persist at working on what we can when we can and getting it done.

So in honor of persistence, this blog will be labeled as “to be continued“……..

 

Been a while since I have posted a humorous video on here.  Time to correct that error………I found this and for all my Ham Radio friends, you should recognize some of these exchanges between the two characters.  I found it to be very funny.  Anyway ENJOY!

What does your humble farmer, agronomist and blogger do during these downpours and rainy days when the other work is caught up or he is just tired of watching it rain? Well he works on some of the Ham Radio projects he has laying around cluttering up the floor of his office, that’s what!

This last weekend I was running my CAP radios for a practice communications exercise as well as monitoring areal photo recon missions of the flooding at this end of the state. So between radio contacts I gathered up a couple of projects that had been laying here in the floor and got them finished up.

First was the construction of some J-pole antennas for 2 meters and 70 centimeters(440). I need to rebuild my communications array on the top of my tower and the new antennas are needed to replace a broken one and one that needs to be retired. So instead of buying a commercial one for hundreds of dollars, I got out the old pipe cutters and went to work.

Here are a few of the antennas. I ended up making two for 70 cementers and three for 2 meters. The ones that don’t go on the tower will go in my emergency go kit for ARES/RACES. I hope to be able to repair the one I take down that is a dual band 440/2mtr but I suspect it is pretty much done for on 440.

I also took the time to complete another cutting board portable setup for my 2mtr/440 Kenwood. You can read all bout my Cutting Board Portable setup for HF here.

As usual I start with a lexan/plastic  cutting board and an aluminium tool box/brief case.  The cutting board comes from “a large discount retailer” and the case I got at Menards.

I mounted the radio and two speakers for each side of the radio.  Then I added a grounding strap to the radio.  The last bit was to mount the display head to the desk mount and then place it with the cutting board.

The radio will now fit on my desk with my other radios and can be broken down in a matter of seconds and put in the briefcase for safe transport to any location where it might be needed.  This is great for camping and portable operations as well as RACES/ARES activities.

Well anyway, there is a day in the life of a farmer/ham radio operator.

And its raining again……..

Got done with bean harvest on Friday night and also got done with wheat planting on Friday.  Only thing left is to put everything away, spread fertilizer and lime, do some fall tillage and hope it rains soon.

Quick one today, got a lot to do……….

Continued form the VA Disaster Drill inspired blog………

Well Part III will be short and sweet so to speak.  The four lessons learned at the VA Drill are pretty straight forward I think.  Yet we in EmComms and Emergency Managers in all services can’t seem to learn them. 

It is assumed that when the “balloon goes up” or the “alarm sounds” that communications will be there and it will work.  Why?  Because it has always worked and because it is always there:  a circular argument.  In other words communications is taken for granted.  

And because it is taken for granted, in a lot of Emergency Services groups have designated Radio Communications to the glass case with “break in case of emergency”, only to be used when their cell phone quits or internet connection is lost.  So there is no use of the asset and no one to exploit the asset until “everything else fails” and you become the comms expert because “you’re the guy with the working radio”.  

You can see this with most EmComms groups:  They “train” for a mission that either doesn’t exist or for a served agency who has them in the glass box and doesn’t know their true value because they don’t exercise them in a realistic method. 

You see this with most disaster plans:  When a agency or entity sees that their might be a need for an alternate emergency communication method they don’t consider everything needed to fully utilize that asset.  Case in point, the Region Hospital “doomsday radio box”; containing an HF, VHF and two VHF hand held radios, lots of great toys in a nice waterproof box.  Yet there is no power supply, woops forgot that, and in most cases, no one who knows how to use the radios! 

You can see this in our preparation for emergencies when we do drill by how we drill.  We don’t play it for real.  We ignore lessons learned from the past.  We can only work from the cookie cutter approach of one shape for all disasters.  So when a problem occurs we don’t know how to react, correct or compensate for the problem when it is for real. 

Am I being down on all EmComms?  No.  I am just relating what I have seen as a result of the assumption that EmComms will work because it has been taken for granted, assumed it will work because it is part of the plan, that someone will be able to pull a rabbit from a hat and make magic on the day when it is needed and that when those problems come up we will have trained for those problems and be able to concur them.  

I am saying that the SET exercise on this Saturday is realistic; it is patterned after a real event.  It includes some of the EOTWAWKI things that happened in Kentucky last year. And yet as I listen to ARES folks, Ham Operators and Emergency Services people most of who still talk about pre deploying assets or where to deploy or how to deploy I am saying that there are still a bunch of people who don’t get it. 

 Learn from past experiences, make your training real, work with your served agency in real time, understand how to exploit your asset and most important COMMUNICATE with those whom you will be working with during the real thing. 

PLEASE train like you will play.  It will make all the difference in winning on game day vs. having showed up and becoming a spontaneous volunteer.

As I said in the first part of this series, Lessons 3 and 4 were realized after the fact or after the exercise was done.  When there is time for reflection on things said and things done and you can connect the dots you do end up with a gee whiz moment. 

Lesson #3 comes from a conversation with one of the drill participants after the drill.  In talking about the drill he commented that the scenario wasn’t very realistic.  OK I thought, so you didn’t like the training, or that things didn’t go your way and therefore it wasn’t planned right.  So I bit and asked “why not?”  May 8th was the answer. 

For those who don’t know, May 8th 2009 was the “inland hurricane” that marched down, for the better part, St Rt 13 in Southern Illinois.  Very intense wind and rain in a circular motion like a hurricane complete with an “eye”.  This individual commented that the drill scenario was a building collapse based on an earthquake.  (At this point, I was waiting to connect the dots…….) If there were an earthquake strong enough to bring down the building, then it would also bring down the trees that line the road to the facility and power lines that boundary the facility.  Just like May 8th.  He went on to explain that on May 8th the facility was an “island surrounded by down trees and power lines. No one could get in or out of the facility”. 

Upon leaving the facility I noticed that the trees are still lining the roads and the power lines are back up in the air on new power poles.  

Lesson #3:  If you don’t learn from past experience and incorporate that into you training plan, then you’re doomed to repeat the experience of the past in a future event. 

 Did we learn anything from May 8th?  In many instances I am going to say no. 

Lesson #4 is that communications is more than just radios.  No I don’t mean cell phones or faxes.  I mean if you’re not talking to your support agencies or served agencies or other entities with assets that you might plan to use in the event of an emergency then don’t be surprised if they don’t show up when you need them. 

My point here is that if you plan to call on Entity X for support in an emergency, then Entity X needs to be part of your training.  That also means that X needs to have the right set of boots on the ground during the training, not just a “representative”.  Better yet they need to show up for the training and be a part of it.  

Same thing with ARES or RACES.  If your working a drill for a served agency, then your counterparts in the served agency need to be there with you training.  Many times I have been to a drill where we have pretended that the served agency or asset is there.  In other words we are practicing for a situation in which they don’t know about nor might use us for.  Wasted time……….. 

I am real worried that many ECOMMS groups are not communicating with their served agency or asset.  I mean talking face to face, not RF to RF.  

Tomorrow I combine all four lessons to comment on the upcomming SET exercise.

The VA disaster drill I participated in with the ITECS group gave cause to think about several things ARES/RACES/CAP Comms related.  Overall we didn’t do much and there wasn’t much comms during the drill.  That’s not a problem in my book because time for observation means time to learn. 

Two observations that I made during the exercise were driven home pretty clearly and need to be explained to those who believe and don’t believe in the need for radio comms.

Two more observations gained from the exercise, but not realized until after the exercise, also drove home some pretty important points that need to be addressed. 

Then these four observations made for a reality check with regard to the Illinois ARES SET exercise, the new Illinois RACES program and to CAP communications in general.  So in this first part of most likely a three part blog I will address the first two simple observations from the exercise. 

Lesson Learned #1:  When confusion sets in, the fecal matter hits the forced air impeller and the “usual” methods of communications break down, the “guy with a radio” is the automatic go to man (or woman).  While not a “gee wiz” moment by any means it was a point driven home very clearly when in the middle of the exercise, when all was going wrong (as it appeared to me just watching) the ER nurse came running up the ITECS trailer and said she “needed us to call an ambulance”.  When we told here we were there just for support of the training and not really there she said “well, you have the radios, your communications!”.  I think we broke her heart when we told her that she needed to go about calling an ambulance via the “scenario game plan”. 

If there are no phones and no Internet and no radios that work and you hold a radio and look like you know what you’re doing, you just became the go to guy in an emergency.  The question is if this new found faith in you valid?  Can you use your radio, do you know who to contact, when to contact them and how to contact them?  Do you possess the tools and most importantly the training to be the go to guy when that badge is pinned to your shirt, like it or not and ready or not? 

What happens when you’re the only one who has a working radio?  Hams who had working radios became the go to guys during the IceQuake in Kentucky not to long ago.  Operating from their homes or vehicles these Hams became the ones who kept things together when all systems failed.

Take Home Message:  Train and prepare now………before your designated as the go to guy.

Lesson #2 All the comm assets in the world are pretty useless if no one knows how to use them.  Better yet all the comm assets in the world are useless if no one know how to use them effectively.  I said we were there to support the exercise with comms.  We passed out radios, no one used them.  We set up antennas; no RF went out of them.  People didn’t know who had a radio and who didn’t.  When you have an asset that no one is using or know how to use then your asset it pretty much in the way. 

I am in no way putting down the ITECS team, trailer or equipment.  Quite the contrary, I am saying that when you have these kinds of tools and trained people and they are not utilized then you are missing the  boat.  Yes, ITECS was there for support but even the radios passed out for support were not used. 

Communications has to be part of the plan.  As part of the plan, people have to know how to use that asset.  They have to know who has that asset and how that asset is to be used.  You can’t assume that everyone will know who has what and where and how when its time to do it for real.  That’s more than push this button to talk.  No they don’t need to know the rocket science behind radio theory, just who has them, who knows how to use them and what they are to be used for. 

Take Home Message:  Plan the work and work the plan.  Designate people to know the asset, use the asset and exploit the asset in a time of emergency. 

As I will explain in Part 2, Lesson 1 and 2 have a great bearing on what happens with Lesson 3 and 4.  And all 4 lessons have an impact on what happens when you suit up and play for real……….TRAIN LIKE YOU PLAY.

Train like you play and plan for problems so when they happen they just become part of the plan!

For all the useful and great information that is available so that you “don’t have to make those mistakes” by searching the Interne,t it is equally as useless as it can be when those helpful sites disappear.  Let me explain.

I am a visual learner in- that I want to see something done so I know how it is supposed to be.  I read the directions, but I want a demo of how it works.  I also want to find out what worked and what didn’t for a particular subject so I don’t have to go through the “school of hard knocks”.  Time is valuable and if someone has already figured out that the book, the instructions and the lesson can be done one better or faster, then I am all for not wasting my time reinventing the wheel.

Last year I got my first TinyTrak4 APRS TNC from Byonics.  I comes with some really well written instructions if your an electrical engineer and spend all your free time studying APRS, TNC’s and packet radio.  I don’t.  I want to do it, use it and make it work.  I don’t want to spend the better part of my summer reading, experimenting and learning it the hard way.  Yea I know, go ahead and take your shots.  I just want a plug and play interface without busting the budget.  Byonics has a pretty good Yahoo Group that has people from all over the world commenting on what works and what doesn’t.  They also have lots of users who, like me, have websites who post what works and what doesn’t and how they did it.

That is one thing about a lot of the Ham community. They like to share and brag when they figure something out.  So it’s pretty easy to find something on a website somewhere on what someone has done and how they did it. 

Well even with the Yahoo Group, I still had problems.  So a Google search found me a guy who had the same radios I did and the same problems I did and he had the settings, adjustments and steps all lined out and on his site.  I copied them, used them and things worked great.  I even bookmarked his site so I could go back.  I then did what every Ham does… I made adjustments and experimented to get it even better.

Fast forward to this last week.  I drug the TinyTrak4 out of the closet and hooked it up and it didn’t work.  Nothing.  OK, didn’t use it on that radio last so I need to start with the settings from that website and adjust.  Easy, right?  Wrong.  You see that website is gone.  Not there.  404.  And another Google search turned up NOTHING!  Its like he didn’t even exist.  So I have been experimenting off and on fot the last week or better trying to get it to work.  So far 50% success…………..not what I wanted or needed. 

So lesson learned. Copy the web pages to PDF and file them on the hard drive.  And here I set trying to get the blasted thing to work again, and having no luck whatsoever…………….OK, 50% luck.  Maybe the next night or two I will get it up and running.

73

Well, to pick up were I left off on the RFI situation and my truck………

(The following is my understanding of some science, based on what I have read and understand after talking to fellow hams.  It is in no way “scientific”, so expect a few mistakes in the explanation.) One of the most misunderstood concepts, at least for me before this exercise, is the difference between DC and RF ground.  I always thought a ground was a ground, you know (-) and that was that.  But DC or electricity travels better to ground on a round wire.  RF or radio frequency travels better on a flat surface.  The flat surface has more capacity and less resistance to carry the RF signal than does a round wire. 

So when we ground a vehicle or anything else for that matter, for RF, we want to use something “flat”.  The best of these is to use a braided wire.  Most hams talk about using the shield from RG-8.  And that is great; the problem is that I don’t have a lot of junk RG-8 lying around to strip out for use as grounding.  That being said, I buy the one half inch wide braided wire you can buy at Hamfest. 

(Side Bar:  For your Farmers who had yellow topped John Deere combines, this explains why back “in the day” when GPS first came to the farm for use on yield monitors,  that “we” used big flat piece of screen wire in the roof of the cab, above the air conditioner motor to kill the RFI interference when you turned your AC on high.  I made many a farm visit to help fix “bad” GPS units that worked in the drive way but quit working when they went to the field.  In the driveway, the AC was not on or on low, but in the field when it got hot, you kicked it up to high and lost your GPS signal.  That big piece of flat screen wire was a RF Ground! Never understood that until now. All I knew was that it worked and made me look like a genius!  ANOTHER NOTE:  Never had this problem with RED combines or tractors………AC motor in a different place?  Better grounding?  Don’t know, but if it had a yellow cab, you had problems. )

Note here the difference in price!  One was purchased a year ago at a Hamfest, 20 ft vs. the other, 10 ft,  this year………..

Most concur that your ground straps should be no more than 2 ft in length.  I have no problem with that.  They should be as short as possible.  That being said, every time you ground, you also create another “antenna” that is resonant at some frequency.  Like my window frame on the camper top (more later on this).  So it would appear to me that the game is to keep things going in circles!!!!   Ok, I don’t have a clue if that is true, but it sure seems like what we are doing!

Good connections at both ends of the ground are also important to provide both a DC and RF ground paths. That being said, I have read Hams who say crimping and soldering are mandatory and other who say that just tinning is sufficient.

Also, there seems to be little agreement on the use of “good quality” lugs and connectors as well as the use of washers, as in flat or stared, and even heat shrinking.  Some of what is said on the topic is just about as mind blowing as how far some Hams take things one way or the other…………I feel a lot of it is for appearance sake. 

OK, I am a farmer, if it works, appearance is optional!  So some got tinned, most got no washers and all got shot into place by the use of self tapping screws and the battery powered torque driver.   Would there be a big difference if I had went to the opposite extreme as outlined by some Hams and did the whole 9 yards?  Don’t know but I suspect I will get emails telling me one way or the other…………

Now with all of that said, and showing my stupidity on the topic, let me go even deeper into the hole I am digging myself!  The rear window of the camper top had me wondering just how a little piece of aluminum frame  holding a glass in can be such a cause of RFI.  Well the frame around the back window is a close to 82 inches.  The window glass is held in place by an additional 134 inches of aluminum.  Upon calculating this time and time again, I find that the window is a length that is a harmonic of the upper part of the 75 meter band. 

So it would appear that the window is picking up the RFI from the fuel tank and retransmitting it as an antenna.  Or that is my guess as an uneducated RFI sniffer and what little reading I have done on the net.  Bonding or grounding such a small piece of aluminum can drop one S unit out of the signal interference.  Add up all of those free floating “antennas” on you vehicle and you have a bunch of S units and a much larger mobile antenna farm than you thought! 

So to fix the problem I bonded the window frame, on both sides, to the truck bed, and the truck bed to the body frame.  You will note in the picture above that I used the down and dirty method of grounding/bonding.  Appearance optional!  BTW the copper pipe you see is my 2mtr J Pole that I carry as part of my Go Kit.  I might also  be placing it into something that will bond it to the frame as well in the near future. 

Next is to go about re-bonding the truck.  As noted in Part I, I had done some of that already but let it go when it didn’t seem to make a difference.  Two places that need it “redone” is the exhaust pipe and the doors. The tail pipe is one long antenna for any RFI that is generated out of the engine compartment.  Again, after hours of on-net research there are as many “right” ways to ground the exhaust pipe is there are makes of cars.  And one is apparently not enough.  Most say multiple straps are needed the length of the exhaust.  That will be a project for a rainy day!

Well there you have it, Part II completed, and I have yet to talk about Torroids or Ferrite yet.  So I will say 73 and to be continued in Part III.

 

  About two years ago I spent the better part of a day installing two antenna mounts for Ham Stick HF antennas for mobile HF (high frequency, 10, 15, 17,  20, 40 and 75 meter bands) operation.  I spent a good deal of time trying to do it right, knowing that the better the job, the better my signals and better my reception. 

 Well to my amazement, I had good reception and good signals.  That is so long as I wasn’t mobile, the vehicle was running or the key was turned on.  If the motor was running I had all kinds of RFI (radio frequency interference) in the radio at S20+.  So I went through the obligatory grounding and trapping that is often recommended for HF installations.  And after another day of crawling around under the truck, I found that nothing I had done make anything better.  

 So for about a year I just let it go.  When I did operator HF from the truck, I did it stationary and again I would get good signal reports and reception.  It was during this time that several Ham buddies pointed out that there were “issues” with my Ford truck, particularly the fuel pump in producing RFI. 

 To further investigate this I made a “sniffer” out of a handled shortwave radio and with the truck running made my way around the vehicle to find where the bulk of the interference was coming from.  Three places stood out:  the gas tank, the door on my camper top and the engine compartment on the passenger’s side.  Of the three, the door on the camper top didn’t make any sense.  More on that later. 

 Fast forward to yesterday.  Over the last year I had been determined to find an fix the RFI in my truck.  So I have been collecting the “tools” I would need to make the fix.  I have also been reading up on the net on how to make the “fix” on my truck.  I have also been reading up on what other Hans have experienced in trying to fix this issue.  

 So today was “the day” and I went about removing the fuel tank from my truck to get to the fuel pump, cause #1 of my RFI.  This was no easy task to say the least.  It was tough.  but I got the tank out and then pulled out the fuel pump.  

 Using a combination of several on line reference to the problem I made up two separate toroid core and ferrite bean assemblies to suppress the RFI.  I first made twelve turns on the toroid core followed by six more turns in the ferrite beads.  These assemblies had to be placed as close to the pump as possible, so they had to go in the tank and be placed “in line” with the existing pump wiring, one on each lead.  As a final precaution I installed another ferrite bean over both leads just outside the tank.  Was this right?  How did I come up with this?  Well, again I used what others had tried and then did what hams are famous for, experimented to see what would happen! 

 How did I come up with this idea, well I borrowed from others experience and then made it up as I went along.  And to my surprise, it worked, somewhat!  The major noise went away on all bands except for the lower part of 75 meters.  There it is now about S5-6.  On the other bands it went way down to S2 or lower.  

 However I am now picking up the noise from the engine compartment, mostly spark plug or alternator noise.  I did ground the frame of the door on the camper top to the bed and that took out another S unit on all bands but 75.  The camper top door is a strange one in that the top is fiberglass but the frame around the rear door/window is aluminum.  With the sniffer it picks up a tremendous amount of noise all around the window.  This area is also right next to where the antennas run off the bumper.  See the top photo for a closer look.

 To be continued………..

I have had time to update my Cutting Board Portable radio setup.  If you followed this over at the other blog, you will know what I am talking about, if not then go here to catch up on what I was doing. 

In order to make the CBP more easily transported and to protect it, I purchased one of those aluminum briefcase type tool boxes from Menard’s to put it in.

The first problem was that the board was a bit  long, so I had to trim an inch and a quarter off one end. 

This made everything fit in the box very nicely.  It is a good fit, it doesn’t move around at all.  I used the supplied foam to hold everything in place when you close up the tool box and carry it by the handle.  Next step is to secure the additional cables and accessories in the top part of the box.

To be continued……..

The Robertson Family attended Sky-Warn (tornado) Spotter Training on Saturday at the Christopher Civic Center.  The spotter training was put on by the NWS out of Paducah, Kentucky.  The training lasted about three hours and was very informative.

To be an active spotter you need to attend a refresher training every two years and Lori and I were due.  Matthew, Lori and I like to chase storms when the opportunity presents itself.  Morgan is a bit apprehensive about storms so I thought it would be good to take everyone over and just learn about what makes a thunderstorm severe and what makes tornadoes.

With that in mind, my email update tells me that we have a chance of severe weather tonight in the form of a severe thunderstorm with hail.  OK, no big deal.  But one thing that was shown at the training is that for the biggest part of the time, most of our severe weather occurs at night.  And that is where I think we need to be ready.

If you don’t have a NOAA All Hazards Radio, GET ONE.  The nice thing about these radios is that they have the SAME Coding so you can program it to only go off if you have a warning for your county or area.  As the training showed us, most of the fatalities that occur during severe weather happen at night when people are asleep and they don’t hear the warning sirens or alerts on TV. 

A Weather Radio programed to alert you while your sleeping COULD save your life.  At the very least it will wake you up and make you be aware that there is a potential for severe weather, make you look at the TV or Internet radar and know what is going on. 

Sure we all have radar, weather and updates from email, internet, cell phones and radio.  But unless you have a built in radar, your not aware of anything when your sleeping. 

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