Category Archives: Freecom

W9DXCC Wrap-Up… Hams be prepared just in case, and Buck Rogers Radios

Sitting in our hotel room at the end of the 2015 W9DXCC in Schaumburg, Il.  An excellent experience all around.

The generosity of ones fellows in the hobby cannot be overstated.  I really enjoy these events as the expertise of those with time and resources are shared so willingly!

Keynote speaker was ex-FCC General Counsel, Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH, who as always spoke well and to the point.  Main take away were two somewhat unexpected things, one about shared humanity and another larger on why the world needs hams even more with the Internet of Things.

On humanity Riley reminded us that those few hams who are awful on the air are largely troubled souls that the system isn’t or can’t help.  Not a few are veterans dealing with those issues.  While not specifically asking for anything from the audience, he brought home that these folk are people too.  Kind of a reminder that we can do better.

The bigger statement was in many ways a vision of a post apocalyptic mission that hams can fill.  As the Internet transitions to the Internet of Things, the risk of systemic failure increases, but worse the risk of system denial (cyber terrorism) has profound consequences that the ham services may help mitigate.

The TEOTWAWKI scenario wasn’t expected, and I have to admit I agree with Riley, including the decentralized ideas he expressed which are the same as those behind the  FREECOM supplement/replacement for EMCOM.

I will return to the FREECOM theme in a future article.

The other huge takeaway for me is again an admiration for the technical excellence and elegance of the FlexRadio Systems Flex-6000 series.

Gerald K5SDR the founder of FlexRadio Systems and Craig K9CT as a member of their advisory team, shared much time showing off upcoming features intended for SmartSDR v1.5, a prototype Maestro unit, and an unreleased hardware accessory.

The intergration and smoothness of the massively expanded capabilities impressed me as much as the feature set.  The feature set had been slowly leaked by FRS so for 80% of the upgrade there is nothing unexpected.

What amazed was how the improvements flowed as if they were always there all along.

I also loved my quick touch and feel chance to play with the Maestro.  Somehow I can imagine a ham not wanting one.  The touchscreen really appealed.

Another fine event- congratulations to NIDXA for putting on such a fine ham gathering.




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New FREECOM perfect radio – AnyTone Tech TERMN-8R Dual Band Radio

AnyTone Termn-8R Mega-HT

Just ordered a new handheld: AnyTone Tech TERMN-8R Dual Band Radio.

The TERMN-8R includes built-in GMRS and MURS modes with 23 GMRS channels and 5 MURS Channels. The TERMN-8R is FCC Certified for Part 90 and Part 95 usage. The TERMN-8R is able to Transmit and Receive fully on Narrowband (12.5kHz).

The TERMN-8R is one of the most flexible radios available, it can receive transmissions on 6 Different Bands. It can receive on UHF (400-520MHz), VHF (136-174MHz), Aircraft AM (108-136MHz), FM Broadcasts (64-108MHz), Short-Wave AM (2.3-30MHz), and AM Broadcasts (520-1710kHz). Plus NOAA

The TERMN-8R has two built-in receivers (full duplex). You can receive two signals at the same time; you can even transmit and scan (or receive) at the same time! The TERMN-8R also allows you to use your radio as a cross band repeater (VHF/UHF or UHF/VHF).

and much more. Arrives to the K9ZW Shack Wednesday.




EDIT March 29th 2015

Got busy and the radio sat unopened.  To my disappointment the radio is unusable, having been produced with a faulty antenna socket (lacks the required threads).  Very suspect, as how could the raid have passed Quality Control?  And how could it have even been tested once assembled?


Anytone Termn-8R missing threads

Anytone Termn-8R missing threads

The radio has gone back for a refund.  I cannot afford to depend on gear that hasn’t even had basic QC performed.




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Sudden Radio Silence in High Risk Scenarios

At Boston we’ve ben attacked as a nation by a bomber.

Our prayers and thoughts are with those killed and injured, and their families.

Our heartfelt thank you and admiration goes out to those who responded, especially as they really didn’t know if they themselves were safe from an additional bombing.

From the news one item dealing with RF jumped out – the Cell Phone Network was instantly taken down by authorities to prevent its use as a trigger for any additional bombs.

Bombs, or IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) if you prefer, are typically controlled in two ways:

  • Time
  • Trigger

For Time you can imagine the electronic, mechanical, or chemical functional equivalent of a “fuse.”  Once the fuse is lit, the bomb will be set off at a set period of time afterwards.  The timer can be internal or external, but the functional distinction of a Time Bomb is the device is exploded based on Time as the primary criteria.

For Trigger devices there may be manual control (pull a string, a trip-wire, or hit the detonator with an impact), electronic control (wires back to detonator control box),  a conditional control (goes off when stepped on, moved, opened, when wet, or any other a number of sensor based criteria), radio control (think of the door lock button on your car’s key fob, or perhaps its own cell phone or other receiver), or other set-off methods.  The main criteria of Trigger is that external stimulus is needed to set the bomb off.

There are combinations of Time and Trigger – the combinations are endless.

As radio amateurs we’re interested in the Trigger by Radio.  In the Boston case authorities feared/theorized that the cell phone network was a potential Trigger and for safety they shut it down.

In the videos released I didn’t spot any first responders, police, fire or security on radios, though it is unclear if radio silence was being enforced.

Often used in warfare, there are jamming countermeasures that might be deployed, which deny the use of the RF spectrum as a Trigger.  Some variations are intended to set off the RF based Trigger exploding a device from a stand-off situation.

The cowards who did the Boston bombings very likely may have controlled the bombs by cell phone.

In a situation like this bombing one has to reflect if keying up an HT is very smart – at least until the area is searched for additional devices & cleared.  If the enemy has left a tiered pattern of devices the RF from an HT may be the next device’s Trigger.

Temporary self imposed Radio Silence in High Risk Scenarios may be needed until the “all clear” is given.

“Certainly much more will come to light about the remote Cell Phone detonation of the devices, over the next few days and weeks.

Again our prayers and thoughts are with those killed and injured, and their families.



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Something to tuck away for rainy day: Popeye’s Guide to PSK the natural way

From the good folk at Radio Free Redoubt, this PDF explains how to listen to PSK – a very interesting, and in case of emergency potentially very important, amateur radio digital mode – with a receiver with some earbuds, a computer with fldigi and a piece of tape.

The PDF is “Popeye’s” article with the comments distilled into an paragraph appendix.

Of course other PSK software will work. The fldigi selection is solid and it is available for a lot of platforms.

This works – at our club we’ve done a demo doing it this way, including adding the other link between the computer & in our case transceiver to do the transmit side.

The technique fits very well with the Freecom idea of personal preparedness.

Source URL for fldigi

Download URL for fldigi (Linux, Windows, OS X, Puppy Linux and Source)

Original Post at Radio Free Redoubt

The Radio Free Redoubt main page (expected to change this Spring to – that URL is presently in testing and will make their website MUCH more readable!)

Tuck this away for rainy day. It is worth downloading the fldigi program mentioned, as a “just in case.”

Of course you can try this now too!




LINK to the PDF: Popeye’s Guide to PSK the natural way.pdf

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Radio Free Redoubt: AmRRON & The American Redoubt Network

A very interesting Freecom-style emergency network:


AmRRON is a network of Redoubters who have volunteered take their American Redoubt Network involvement to another level. These are patriots (men and women) who have volunteered to use their communications equipment to keep the American Redoubt connected when other means of communications (aka. “Comms” or “Commo” are unavailable or unreliable.
There are two types of AmRRON volunteers (Radio Operators):
1. HAM OPERATORS (or licensed Amateur Radio Operators)

HAM OPERATORS: Use their equipment and skills to keep the American Redoubt connected and informed, to coordinate the efforts of Redoubters, and to promote the American Redoubt movement. Many of them have capabilities that allow them to stay connected across the entire American Redoubt, as well as with other Redoubters and patriots (and other redoubts that will emerge in the future) across the country and even in other countries. They may also relay relevant information, alerts, coordination of efforts, and promotion of the American Redoubt movement to Redoubters in their local area using the CH3 Project frequencies. The frequency bands that are covered by many Ham Operators include HF (shortwave), 2m, 72cm, CB, FRS/GMRS, and MURS. The AmRRON frequencies are outlined in the AmRRON Frequency Plan on a separate site set up for those joining the American Redoubt Network.

RELAYS: A Ham Operator can also volunteer to be a “Relay,” which is encouraged. But Relays are typically Redoubters who have volunteered to monitor for radio traffic from other Redoubters, and then Relay that information across their local area, or to a Ham Operator, who can then pass the information on to others in the network. Most Relays have at LEAST one type of CH3 Project communications, such as a CB (Citizens Band radio), FRS (Family Radio Service), or MURS (Multi-Use Radio System). But they generally SHOULD have some type of communications that can monitor for radio traffic from Ham Operators, such as a high quality shortwave radio or a police scanner (typically from 30mhz to 800mhz). This way they can hear traffic from many, many miles away and relay that to Redoubters in their local area using CH3. The AmRRON frequencies are outlined in the AmRRON Frequency Plan on a separate site set up for those joining the American Redoubt Network.



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