Emergency Power for Radio Commmunications

by admin on November 23, 2011

Emergency Power for Radio Communications

Emergency Power for Radio Communications

Emergency Power for Radio Communications is one of the best books I’ve seen so far on the topic of creating reliable, portable back-up power solutions.  Even though the focus of this book is on radio comms, the solutions Michael Bryce WB8VGE describes are useful for just about any of your power needs – recharging other communications devices, lighting, etc.

Whether you’re a radio person, looking g at off-grid power solutions for your cabin, or interested in alternate power sources for any other reason, like a winter storm, this book is jam-packed with very useful information.  Even though the title says “for Radio Communications”, don’t let that fool you.  This book is for anyone who needs power in an emergency.  It could have been titled “Emergency Power Solutions for Any Reason” (but that wouldn’t have sounded as good, I guess).

Let’s quickly look over what’s covered, with a little editorializing on my part (that’s why  you’re reading, right? :-) ).

  1. Hey, I am in the Dark: This chapter is about lighting.  You may think that talking about batteries or generators or radios would come first, but if you think about it, if you have no power, and it’s not daytime, light is critical!  This is a good, basic review of emergency lighting options.
  2. Solar Power:  Basics of solar panels, types, how to calculate $/Watt, power ratings, making your own panels, mounting, safety, dealing with wind, and more.  This is a great intro to solar power basics.
  3. Charge Controllers for Photovoltaic Systems: It’s not often you see a set of solar panels with no charge controllers.  All the energy coming from those panels needs to be managed somehow, and you’ll learn about how they work, different types, what you will need for your setup, and more.
  4. Generators: Gas, Wind, and Water: This is interesting.  I’ve never seen anyone lump these technologies together in one section before.  In either case, the author does a solid review of the different types and technologies that exist for gas generators.  Even if you only need to power part of your house with a generator when the power is out, this book will be worth the purchase just for this section.  I learned a lot here. He also briefly describes some wind and water power basics.  If you are planning on setting up a permanent off-grid wind or micro-hydro power solution, this won’t be enough info, but will get you started.
  5. Load Sizing: How much equipment do you need to run and how much power will it consume?  If you don’t know, you could be in for a nasty surprise when you run out of power, the sun has just set, and your emergency power solution happens to be solar panels and batteries.  This section will help you calculate what you need.
  6. Holding your Volts: Battery Systems and Storage:  All about batteries.  Types are covered – NiCad, NiMH, Lithium-ion, flooded lead-acid, AGM, and gel-cell .  More details of voltage, temperature, charging, amp-hours, maintenance, setting up a battery bank, safety, and examples of what *not* to do are also covered.  And there are a lot of good pictures.  Another fantastic resource for anyone who needs to use battery power.
  7. Systems for Emergency Power:  This is where it all comes together – the alternate power source, power management and storage as needed.
  8. Inverters:  If you need AC power and have a battery, you will need an inverter.  But what kind? How much power should it produce?  How big of a batter would you need to produce enough AC?  Do you need  a pure sine wave?  Does it need to tie to the power grid?  These questions and many more answered here.
    Station Instrumentation:   You will learn various ways to measure and monitor your power supply.
  9. Safety:  Of course, electricity can be dangerous for a few reasons.  This is definitely worth reviewing.  To his credit, the author discusses safety all through the other sections too.
  10. Emergency Practices:  One thing I like about this chapter is that the author covers general emergency preparedness well, discussing an overall plan, budget, light, communications (of course), food and water, health & sanitation, pets, firearms, and getting others involved.  For a short chapter, it is dense with good advice.

There are a few appendices at the end, also content-rich.  All in all, this book is a treasure trove of emergency power information, and better than most books I’ve seen on the topic.  Enjoy!

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The Road Home – Unique Ham Radio Fiction

by admin on November 21, 2011

The Road Home - Unique Adventure with Ham Radio

The Road Home” is a cool and unusual book when it comes to ham radio.  One reason is because it’s fiction.  As far as I know, it’s the only adventure fiction available that focuses on amateur radio as a preparedness tool.  Another reason it’s unusual is that it incorporates some educational, non-fiction preparedness tips and tricks throughout the story, so if you want more details on what the protagonists are doing, what resources may or may not be available in an emergency, to learn some amateur radio basics, this book places these resources at your disposal, organized at the end of the book.

The text on the back will give you a good idea of the tone: “Robbie thought he was ready for a camping trip in the mountains near Seattle. He and his father Jeff made it into the mountains without a hitch, but nothing could have prepared them for the rest of the trip! After a city-busting earthquake strikes the Seattle area, Robbie and his father have to rely on their wits and some new-found skills to get home safely, dealing with many unexpected obstacles on the way. To make matters even worse, they still need to rescue the rest of their family from an insidious danger that made its way to their doorstep. The story combines exciting, non-stop action with dozens of practical emergency preparedness and high-tech ham radio tips that you will find helpful in many situations, from going on an uneventful road trip or day hike, to getting lost in the woods, even to surviving a natural disaster!

You can find several good customer reviews on Amazon.  Here is some text from one of them: “It centers on a family separated during a massive earthquake to demonstrate how seemingly helpless situations can be dealt with resourcefully. I loved this book because it drove home the importance of taking personal responsibility for your own well-being when a big disaster strikes. We might never encounter being in the middle of a disaster, this book put me in the space of what it would be like. While reading the book I spent a lot of time thinking about our own situation: Knowing how to turn off the gas to our home, where we’d meet, food storage, warm clothes in the car, keeping the gas tank on full, etc.). There are many preparedness points that might later prove life preserving. I highly recommend this book as a basis for getting your just-in-case affairs in order. When there is nothing but self-reliance, we’d all best have some of these lessons under our belts.”

If you are looking for some good preparedness tips, are interested in how ham radio can be used in an emergency, like a good disaster adventure, or know another adult or young adult (written to be “family-friendly”) who may be, this ham radio fiction book is for you!  It’s available in paperback and on Kindle (Note: it was $9.99 on Kindle, but it’s on sale during December for $0.99!).

Full disclosure:  I wrote this book! Of course it’s one of my favorites. :-)

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Ham Radio for Dummies – Not a Dumb Book

October 30, 2011

I’ll freely admit that I’m generally not a fan of the “… for Dummies” books.  I have found that they’re often big on filler and cute graphics, and light on useful data.  I have purchased a few, and later realized that I could have bought a half dozen other books that contained twice as much [...]

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The Definitive Amateur Radio Reference: ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications

October 30, 2011

My Emergency Communications Primer is by no means an exhaustive “how to” when it comes to ham radio. There are 1300-page tomes on that subject. In fact, this is the definitive Amateur radio guide: the ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications. The handbook (left) also comes with an e-book version with an attached DVD, so you can [...]

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ARRL Antenna Book: The Ultimate Reference for Amateur Radio Antennas, Transmission Lines and Propagation

October 30, 2011

If you are looking for an incredibly thorough antenna reference, the ARRL publishes one of those too, the ARRL Antenna Book: The Ultimate Reference for Amateur Radio Antennas, Transmission Lines, and Propagation. It’s very comprehensive (as its long title would indicate) and I’m not aware of anything more detailed or thorough when it comes to [...]

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Low Profile Amateur Radio – Save Yourself a Ton of Effort!

October 30, 2011

This is one of the best books I’ve read on ham radio, because it has saved me the most time and helped me understand the most, compared to other books in my ham radio library: Low Profile Amateur Radio: Operating a Ham Station from Almost Anywhere. I can say honestly that if I had paid [...]

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What’s the Point? A Letter to Readers…

February 28, 2011

[Admin note:  The book has been written and published!  Thanks to my supporters for making it a success! .  It's called The Road Home, and is currently the only modern amateur radio-focused fiction in print!)] Hey Everyone, If I haven’t pitched this idea to you in person yet, here’s the deal.  This book is an [...]

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Welcome to the Home of Ham Radio Books

January 22, 2011

Welcome to HamRadioBooks!  Soon you’ll see Chapter One of my new book.  It doesn’t even have a title yet, but you’ll like it anyway.  It’s a young and old adult adventure story, and if you enjoy ham radio or are wondering what it’s about, you’ll find out here.  In addition to ham radio and emergency communication [...]

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