New Radio (UV-5X3)

I bought a BTECH UV-5X3 radio this week. As the name might suggest, it is a five-watt radio that works three bands: 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm.  It is Chirp compatible, allowing me to condense the programming from my two radios that cover these three bands into one radio.

While programming the radio, I decided to add more repeaters. I have become entertained with the proximity search on the RepeaterBook.com mobile app. With this, I can pick the repeaters to add to the radio in order of their distance from the house. I’m eager to try this program out when I’m away from the house, as well. It would be nice not to need to program the radio each time that I go to another place.

There were some things that I wish were better in the experience. For example, If you buy a 5X3, get the tri-band antenna accessory. Having to switch antennas, only because you’ve changed the channel, isn’t a great customer experience. Likewise, the proximity search works on the RepeaterBook.com website. BUT… if you export the list to a Chirp file, the site doesn’t respect the “sort by distance” parameter, leaving you with the right repeaters, in the wrong order.

Still, I’m looking forward to making this radio my primary handheld radio for events and regular use.

So Many Choices, but Only 16 Channels

In the last year, I’ve been volunteering for amateur radio events whenever possible. I worked the Rotary Auction last year, and the Chilly Hilly this past weekend. For both events, I programmed new frequencies into my radio on the night before the event.

Here’s what I have decided to cover so far. From the Kitsap County Emergency Communications Plan, each region of Kitsap County has a 2-meter and 70-centimeter frequency (in MHz):

  • South Kitsap Simplex (147.46 & 445.850)
  • Bremerton Simplex (147.48 & 445.875)
  • Central Kitsap (147.50 & 445.900)
  • North Kitsap (147.52 MHz & 445.925)
  • City of Bainbridge Island (147.54 & 445.950)
  • Medical Net (147.56  & 445.975)
  • County Wide (445.825)

Furthermore, there are repeaters that we use for emergencies. Those are the same repeaters used for events.

  • The BARC repeater (444.475+ PL=103.5)
  • The Kitsap County repeater in Silverdale (145.43- PL=179.9)

And then, there are a couple of customized channels:

With the Baofeng UV-5R, you have 127 channels. This will allow you to put all of these frequencies into the radio. However, with the Baofeng 888s, you only get 1 band (70-centimeter) and 16 channels. This means that you have to choose what channels you are going to keep.

For my radio, on Saturday, I did this programming:

Channel Name Frequency Offset Tone rToneFreq
1 W7NPC 444.475 +5 TSQL 103.5
2 K7SCN 440.95 +5 Tone 110.9
3 446
4 445.95
5 445.85
6 445.875
7 445.9
8 445.925
9 445.975
10 445.95 TSQL 100
11 445.95 Tone 100

This covers the two repeaters that we were using for the Chilly Hilly, The North America simplex call for 70-centimeters, simplex channels from the communications plan, and the BARC simplex channel with tone squelch. Lastly, I added a channel with tone encode but not decode just in case someone doesn’t have their radio set up to encode.

This is the 888s setup that I’ll start with when I work my next event.

Little Emergency Lights

For almost 20 years, I’ve been a ham radio operator. As such, I’ve kept an emergency radio station set up in my house, just in case there’s a power outage or emergency situation. Emergency radio stations need an antenna, radio, and source of power (I use batteries).

However, it is tough to operate if you don’t have some method of lighting. There’s usually a lot of writing when you operate on the radio, especially when working in emergency operations. For years, I’d used a battery operated Coleman lantern that has a barrel connector for DC power. I made a cable that runs from Anderson Powerpoles to the right connector, allowing me to run power from the same (larger) batteries that power everything else.

Then, one day, I was walking through Ikea. In the lighting section, I found the LED disc lights that were meant to mount underneath cabinets. They plugged into a wall socket, through a box that had 6 DC outputs (1 per light). It didn’t take long to determine that the output voltage from the box was 12VDC (in fact, the specs listed the voltage). I discarded the AC power supply, chopped off the connectors on the light’s wire, and added Powerpoles. Then, it was as simple as plugging them into the Powerpoles that come out of my battery connection. This small hack provides me with lights that work the same way when the power is on as they do when the power is off. And, they’re made to look polished, mounting right under the top of the hutch on my radio desk.

These lights were a pretty good find.