Monthly Archives: January 2016


As tends to be the case, when my wife comes down ill I follower her about a week later.  This was no different.  Co-incidentally it lined up with a rest week from exercise.

After last weeks post, I hashed out a commo plan with E.  VHF/UHF with freqs, windows and plans for both infrastructure and no infrastructure.  As part of this we’re going a little science to figure out what we can expect as far as signal propagation.  This also prompted the development of a UV5r cheat sheet – meant to be Index Card sized and provide a quick guide to common tasks.

I’ve also started work on my commo binder.  This includes gathering up the local VHF/UHF repeater, net and club information and HF net information (ARES, AMRRON etc).

I’ve started studying for the Extra exam.  Next test is late Feb, we will see how ready I can get.  CW training has stalled out.  I will rig my radio up to my pc to record CW traffic and begin working on copying actual traffic in conjunction with Koch-method type reinforcement.


Fear The Shopping List

A pal has recommended Fear The Walking Dead.  I’m working my way through the second episode now.  I’m a mild TWD fan (read the comics right up until Carl got shot – and lived) and caught up to the current TV show.

Bear in mind, you get out of this exercise what you put into it.  The more realistic you are, the better your return on investment.  Because the problems we face are complex we can’t take into account every variable.  The answers we come up to these problems may be worthless – but the process by which we get to those answers is where the real value lies.

Anyways, I’m not getting into the should haves and shouldn’t haves of fictional characters in fantastic situations, what I am going to scenario is this:


You have two hours heads-up on a suitable SHTF event.  This is a no-doubt, all-in situation.

Situation A: You’re going to bug in.  How long does it take you gather up your dependents?  What’s you shopping list?  What are your actions-on?

Situation B: You’re bugging out. How long does it take you gather up your dependents?  What’s you packing list?  What are your actions-on?


Here’s the So-So Samurai setup.  At the house we have a comfortable 2 months worth of food and water.  I’m not hip to our waste volume, but I’m going to suggest we can manage 3 months of sanitary waste before we’re squatting in the back yard.  Sun permitting we can triage electric needs.  We are deficient in winter heating (to be remedied in 2016.)

Situation A:  I am blessed to be within a half hour of home.  My dependents are closer then that.  My shopping list:  Home Depot Plywood, Lumber (plywood and econostuds), hand tools, Nails, Screws.  Grocery Store:  Medicine (cold relief, pain relief, first aid supplies), soap, canned goods, water, fire logs and charcoal.  Actions on: Notify the folks that need it.  Engage the locals.  Secure our chickens.  Pack one vehicle for bug out.  Pack two bags for bug out.

Situation B: Again, minimal time collecting dependents and getting back home.  Our bug-out supplies would include our camping and hiking gear, which is prepacked and ready to go.  Personal documents, radio gear, make some determinations regarding the chickens – we could take them with us.  Quick planning session on where we’re bugging out and routes.

Situation A I’m feeling pretty good.

Situation B identified some soft work to be done.  There are not so many ways out of the area that I can’t manage an hours worth of planning in any direction.

I’m also working out some comm plans with the folks near enough to worry about, but far enough not to reach to easily.


I have a friend who’s hot for Digital Ham stuff.  He’s a big “TEOTWAWKI” sort of guy who values digital comms for getting a message through when band conditions aren’t pristine.  He doesn’t want to learn CW (continuous wave) though…

On top of needing all the standard HAM equipment

…digital modes require:

A modem
A computer
An agreed to transmission protocol (and there’s a lot of them.)

…CW requires:

A keyer/paddles

You could argue CW also requires a protocol – but Morse Code is the standard.  Now, the question is how to learn Morse Code.

I picked up a straight key app on my phone to practice keying.  It’s not worth much, but at this point I know the alphabet from a “sending” perspective.  I don’t have the rhythm down to satisfy my phone regarding individual letters and words.  I imagine who ever is on the receiving end of my transmission w i l l b h o r r i f i e d b y t h e c a d e nc e.  More troubling though is that this has no impact on my ability to copy (receive) Morse Code.  I can grab one letter at a time from a string, but it’s a lot tongue hanging out, squinty eyes attention and focus.

I’m still working through it, 30 minutes a day for two weeks.  My ability to copy individual letters is improving.  Ultimately though this should be as fluid as regular language…  Time will tell.

I bounce between the following resources:

I will confess the Koch Method of learning CW doesn’t interest me.  I immediately and unintentionally try to game the system.  This leads to 90% copy rates right up until the wheels fall off somewhere around lesson 3.  Drinking from the waterhose of 5 character strings is a two minute exercise of frustration.

I think kb6nu may be the way to go.  His thoughts on teaching CW are here.



Dry Fire Revisited

Previous thoughts on DF:

…So that’s where I was.  The pistol stuff was comprehensive and factored in a lot of one handed draws and reloads.  Currently my range time is sparse and so I’m thinking I should refocus on the basics.  Rifle work was way overkill.  In my daily life the chances of me using a rifle are somewhere below winning the state lottery.

The current regime is

  • 10 shots SHO from high ready
  • 10 shots WHO from high ready
  • 30 shots Freestyle from concealment
  • 10 reloads

I’ve been running the twice a week and I can subjectively state my reload has improved immensely.  There was enough slop in my reload technique that the improvement was noticeable.  Draw-stroke wise we’re looking at shaving off .20 and getting back into the 1.5s headshot range.  I run video every once in a while to get another view and watch the time stamp.

Here are some hardware tweaks to make regular dry-fire easier to engage in and improve ROI:

I’ve dedicated a gun to DF.
A NY-1 trigger (11lbs) spring has been installed.  If I can break a clean shot at 11lbs, I can do so at the 5.5lbs on my carry guns.
This gun has a Blade-Tech training barrel in it.  This gives me immediate visual confirmation that this pistol is clear.
I have two magazines set aside for dry-fire.  They have no followers or springs installed.  This allows me to run the slide in conjunction with the training barrel.

For reload drills I set a cardboard box containing a cotton tactical training enhancement magazine retention shemagh on my chair.  Reloads  are performed over the chair, the “empty” magazine is caught in the box (doesn’t bounce out because of the shemagh.)  This decreases the time between reload drills.

On the software side of things the short nature of the dry-fire session makes the attention to detail that much more important.  On the one handed work I pay close attention to trigger finger placement.  There’s been some talk about having “deep” trigger finger placement.  I’ve played around a bit and what gives me a consistently clean break is still the “tip” of my finger placed at the bottom of the trigger.  This keeps the rest of my finger off the frame of the gun, provides the best leverage on the trigger and keeps the sights steady through the trigger press.

During my draws I run my first five or so at moderate speed, focusing on hitting each of my index points cleanly.  The next 20 reps are done at speed, attention is paid  after each shot breaks to hold the front sight in view after the shot breaks.  The last five reps are done as fast as possible, remaining focused on the index points noted above and minimizing the “go fast” flailing.

Rifle dryfire, reloads and more dynamic pistol practice is done adhoc.



2016 Goals

So 2015 shook out pretty well.  What’s on the table for 2016?  Specific course of action and milestone information to come.

The hold overs from 2015:

Lose Weight
210 again…  Why didn’t this work out in 2015?  Because I am a caloric vacuum cleaner that hydrates with alcohol.  Why’s this going to work in 2016?  Small steps and maybe some life style changes.  Slow it down on the booze, get back to a regular sleep schedule, change up the portions.

Super Hero Maintenance
I hate cardio.  Time to do more of it.  Goal is 30 minutes twice a week.
Two KB sessions a week.
Two “strict” DF sessions a week.  One “ninja” DF session a week.

Solar Stuff
Looking to increase my on-hand batteries.  Also looking to get a backpackable solar solution for keeping the HF rig charged while on the go.

The new or expanded stuff for 2015:

Learn CW
This might be the new type of goal… a little hardware and a little software.  Anyways, CW is like digital – but analog.  The ability to pass information with relative low power in poor band conditions without relying on additional hardware (Signallink and Modem.)  This is a commitment, and I don’t think it’s like riding a bicycle.

Commo Book

I’m going to set to work on a dedicated commo book.  Freq’s, schedules, etc.  All in one place, ready to go with the radio.  Easily shared, easily printed.

Yaesu 857 Appliance Operators Guide
As I was learning my radio, I took some notes.  I’ll get those notes a little streamlined and a little published.  Largely, it’s nothing that isn’t in the manufacturers printed manual, but will be set up in a crawl/walk/run and contextual manner.

Hiking and radios?  Yes, lets give this a try.

Get a New Job
I work with a lot of great people, but there are some organizational things that I don’t think are surmountable.  I’m going to get ahead of the depression train, though, and start looking for new work before I burn out completely.

Training Plates
Pick up a set of AR500 plates for training.  The ceramic plates are fine, functional and good.  I’m going to save them for when there’s ill intent involved.  The AR500 plates for range time and the occasional man-card exercise renewel will be plenty good and less likely to fracture.

Up the CCW Game
I’m going to increase my NPE capabilities.  Also waiting for an AIWB+ Light solution that will work with current equipment.

Write More
I’m going to work on a novella – the sort of thing that’s been started a half dozen times but never made it past 5 pages.  I’m also going to publish an article here, at least twice a month.  Promise.