…And any other unspecified duties that may be added as necessary.

From Wm Watt Hairston on the fantastic “I Take Pictures of Transmitter Sites” group:

“Radio Engineer NEEDED ASAP, Duties shall include: Plumbing and toilet repair; Vehicle maintenance and repair; General building and grounds upkeep, modifications and repair; Removal of derelicts and other undesirables from building; Jewelry repair; emergency shoe and garment repair; kitchen appliance repair; office moves and logistics as requested; repair employees electronic equipment; equip, setup and tear down for remote broadcast as requested; install, maintain all phones, computers, as well as associated routers and networks; provide instant desktop support for all running OS and installed applications; Maintenance and upkeep of all FCC related compliance and record keeping matters; repair and maintain towers, transmitters and other broadcast equipment. Must supply own transportation and communications; On-call 24/7 is a must as well as a good attitude and willingness to take direction from anyone who ask….”

Telecom secrets revealed – A Sprint PCS cell site!!

What you can't see in this photo is that it's over 100 degrees in the room, lolz
The Now -- Failing --Network

This is what a particular Sprint PCS cell site in southwestern Miami-Dade County, Florida, looks like inside.

Shield your eyes, it’s horrible. No, actually, you will want to shield your eyes because the batteries were installed so badly that I felt the need to place some cut-up pieces of a plastic container in between the battery terminals and some aluminum-cased monitoring widgets that were sitting on top of them to avoid an electrical fire. (Upon testing the batteries I found then to be at about 10.1 volts DC. FAIL.)

And this kind of thing is why I trust ham radio for communications more than anything I pay a mystery team for “service” on. 🙂

The Water Cooled IC-V8000

I’ve always had a soft spot for the way Icom designs their mobile ham rigs. See, someone at Icom realized that hams are ridiculously longwinded and will overheat many commercial grade radios made for the typical 5/5/90 duty cycle (5% TX, 5% RX, 90% standby) easily… so they designed most of their radios with giant passive heatsinks integral with the exterior chassis of the radio. On some of their radios there is a small cooling fan at the back that pushes a little more airflow over the chassis if needed. I used to have an old IC-229H which just had a huge passive heatsink at the back, and there’s an IC-2100H in my parents’ car that just does the whole case/heatsink thing for cooling.

Unfortunately someone, in the process of building an Echolink node around an IC-V8000, thought they needed a bit more cooling and then this happened…

 I don’t entirely understand WHY this was done — the radio has a very large heatsink of its own… or HAD a very large heatsink of its own, as it may be. It’s a 75W radio and could easily be turned down to mid or low power to further reduce heating problems without doing… that.
The images were found on Facebook and I’m presenting them anonymously to protect the guilty party XD
Shown below is an unmolested reference model:

Anon Radio

For when you just want to talk…

There are three major license-free radio services available in the US that are of interest to us: CB, FRS, and MURS. Using these, well, you don’t need a license and nobody needs to know who you are. Thus, they may be Anon Radio.

CB Radio

This was the first service. Back in ancient history it did have licenses, call signs, and all that stuff. Now it  effectively just comes out of a blister pack at Sprawlmart. CB uses the frequency range of 26.965 to 27.405 Mhz, divided into 40 channels each spaced 10 KHz apart. Yes, all of them end in .xx5, which is weird as hell but who cares.* The signals are usually amplitude modulated; single sideband (SSB) is also allowable on this band.

Notable channels: In many municipalities, channel 9 is monitored by local law enforcement, REACT team volunteers, truckers, and roadside assistance personnel as an emergency call channel. CB radios may have a switch or button to quickly jump here if needed. The frequency is 27.065 Mhz and it may be interesting to leave it in your scanner.

Channel 19 is often used by truckers.  Channels above 30 are often used for SSB. If you have a basic AM only radio you may hear distorted sounding transmissions up here. Radios capable of SSB transmission and reception will have an LSB / AM / USB switch to set the mode to match other users on the channel. SSB tends to be more efficient in terms of how far away you can still continue to talk as signal levels become marginal.

These signals tend to get out best in open spaces and get blocked pretty badly by buildings. However, when the earth’s ionosphere becomes charged up appropriately, you can get “skip” which will carry your signal hundreds of miles by bouncing it back to earth from a high altitude.

The wavelength of the radio signal down here is around 11 meters long, meaning that the common 1/4 wavelength antenna would be taller than you are. CB is most useful communicating between vehicles and/or base stations where you can easily mount a fairly tall antenna. Handheld CB radios do exist but the antennas are either very inefficient or impractically long!

Channel recommendations: ? (any suggestions?)

FRS Radio

FRS is a somewhat more recent service, it was initially opened up in 1996. It used to be totally polluted in most urban areas before everyone and their cat got cell phones with unlimited minutes and text. It operates around 452 Mhz and the radios and antennas are quite pleasantly small. Hell, some smartphones are now bigger than the FRS radio and antenna. There are 14 channels here.

BULLSHIT ALERT: On most FRS radios there are ‘subchannels’, ‘sub codes’, or whatever the manufacturer chooses to call them. They might like you to believe that the radios on both ends have to be set to the same channel and subchannel to receive a transmission. THIS IS NOT TRUE and no privacy is offered by this feature. What it is, basically, is that the ‘subcode’ is a “CTCSS” or “PL” tone. If you set the code to 00 or OFF on a radio, or hold the monitor button, it is in “carrier squelch” operation and it no longer matters what tone or DCS code the radio on the other end is sending, you will hear anyone on the channel as long as the signal’s strong enough to detect. The only use for these tones/codes is just basically to keep the radio from bugging you unless someone’s transmitting the same tone with their audio. It’s just a selective calling/muting feature. It is, however, useful just to make sure the radio doesn’t bother you with transmissions you aren’t interested in or random noise bursts.

Irritating Bullshit Features: Turn off the “roger beep” (a pointless beep the radio sends after you let go of the push to talk switch) and never press the CALL button or I will use radio direction finding techniques to track you down and pour Elmer’s Glue down your airways. On some radios the roger beep is turned on and off from the menu, on others you hold one of the buttons while turning it on to disable it. The call button just sends an irritating ringing noise for a couple of seconds. Why the HELL is it even there?!

Channel 1 is recommended to be monitored as an emergency use channel, if you’re gonna talk like /b/, stay to 6 / 9. 🙂

Recommended channels here: 6 / 9 for what the hell ever. 4 / 2 for more technical discussion, 3 / 14 pi (22 / 7 on a GMRS radio, *almost* pi). I usually monitor 6 / 9. I guess we could come up with our own band plan for this but honestly who cares? 😀


Now here’s where it gets weird! MURS is a license free service, five channels in the 151 and 154 Mhz VHF range. I have not seen any radios specifically made just for MURS use. Since MURS was “recycled” out of a rarely used business radio service that once did require licenses, the FCC chose to allow any type accepted radio for that band to be used there.

The frequencies are 151.820, 151.880, 151.940, 154.970, and 154.600. Note that if you are near a Walmart store, you will probably find at least one of the channels in use by the store. This is because they are too damn cheap to license proper business class frequencies for their stores. (The frequency and PL may vary by store.)

The least expensive option for a radio here is probably something like the Baofeng UV-3R, Wouxun KG-UVD1P, or similar. Note that these radios are also very useful for ham radio frequencies should you decide to get a license for that.
*  I’m guessing this has something to do with the common 0.455 Mhz receiver IF frequency but the Nobody Gives A Damn alarm just went off.

I miss being that radio guy


This is me playing with a tower. I don’t actually climb towers… I just went up a few feet to watch the sun set over the horizon.

The energy around that site is amazing. I’ll say that much, without even getting into how a ghost watches over it for us. 😀

What am I doing here with solar…. and why am I not yet integrating it with my love of radio more?

I guess it’s time to do some more development work.

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