QCARC Calendar

December 2018
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January 2019
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Polls

Should QCARC continue giving VE Exams before club meetings in even months?

  • Yes, but occasionally on other days and times (67%, 2 Votes)
  • Yes (33%, 1 Votes)
  • No (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes, with more months (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes, but fewer months (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 3

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QC Weather

Overcast
Sunday 12/16/2018 0%
Overcast
Generally cloudy. Temps nearly steady in the mid to upper 30s. Winds light and variable.
Overcast
Monday 12/17/2018 20%
Overcast
Overcast. A few flurries or snow showers possible. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph.
Partly Cloudy
Tuesday 12/18/2018 10%
Partly Cloudy
Partly cloudy skies. High 33F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.
Quad-County Weather Page

QCARC Events

12 VDC Power Control

 

Many amateur radio operators have equipment operating on 12 VDC power supplies. There are times that the equipment needs to quickly switch to a 12 volt battery back-up. There is a very easy way to accomplish this without any intervention needed to switch back and forth from the AC operated power supply and the battery back-up as needed. I’ve found that the PWRgate meets the need to control a supply of 12 volt power to equipment when the AC power supply fails.
pwrgate
You’ll see in the photo that this unit has the Anderson Powerpole® connections that make connections super easy, if you have adopted Powerpoles® as your method of 12 VDC power connectors a standard. Remember that the Powerpoles® are the standard with most ARES and RACES groups across the Country to make interoperability of powering equipment easy but that’s another topic.

The latest model of the PWRgate has three output connections for the equipment that you may need to power, up to 25 amps. There is a connection for your back-up battery to charge your battery and power your equipment when the AC power supply loses its 120 VAC supply, as well as the input from an AC powered 12 VDC supply.

I can say from experience, I have one in use, this unit works as advertised. It is great to maintain 12 VDC to equipment that may otherwise lock up if the power is removed then reapplied when an orderly shutdown/restart should be done. The PWRgate is offered by an amateur radio operator, who provides fast shipping and super service if an issue may arise. You can visit the web site http://ki0bk.no-ip.com/~pwrgate/LLPG/Site/Welcome.html for more information on the PWRgate and other devices that are available.

 

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Yaesu FT-991 A huge step for mankind….

Hello again

It was a while ago since I wrote anything here, but now I really have something to write about!

As maybe some of you know, I took the step, and bought a new radio, the Yaesu FT-991. It is an all band all mode transceiver incl C4FM, where all the best parts from Yaesu’s more exclusive transceivers come together in a very compact sized box. Already the first day, i was struck by the radios very quite receiver and ease of use, even though it’s the first time I’ve ever used a radio with touch screen. But, if you are familiar with a smartphone or a tablet, then you feel right at home with the FT-991. Last weekend, I got to test it’s phenomenal ability to pick out stations just above the noise, even though I had 59+ signals right beside, and without earphones, it was easy to hear what the weak station said, and, to work him! This time Yaesu really hit the head on the nail! I dare to say, that nobody in this price range come even close to the FT-991! It is a radio that will fit in any Go-Box, since it’s even got a built in tuner as well as a built in audio board for digital traffic.   Yaesu FT-991FT-991 Rear Panel

I will bring the radio to the next meeting, so you all get a chance to play a little with it. I hope we get a weather like we had today, so we can put up some antennas, and make a few contacts!

See you all at the QCARC meeting!

Lars KB3WBT

PS: The Yaesu FT-991 price is now even lower, $958 after mail in rebate at RandL electronics, which is a super deal!

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Powerpole® Crimp Tool Review

For many hams the go-to 12 VDC connector is the Anderson Powerpole®. I feel the same, this connector is the only one that makes sense forPP crimper convenience and durability of connection among my own radios and if the need arises other power supplies. This form of 12 VDC power connection really makes the issue of interoperability for a power source a non-issue. The connector is recognized across the Country as THE power connector to use for ARES and other public service applications.

Anyway, where this is leading is the issue with installing the connectors on the wire. It really is not difficult but there is a standard, in order to interface with the rest of the world! Amateur radio has adopted the standard that when viewed from the contact side, the mnemonic for remembering the arrangement for the positive connector is: “Red Right — Tongue Top“.
Of red powerpolecourse red is positive while black is negative. Even though there is a standard, I feel it is still a good idea to confirm the connection that your rig may be connected to is verified visually and also electrically using a volt meter or one of the LED connectors that indicate if the connectors are configured to the standard.

 

The installation of the connector contacts can be problematic if the proper crimp procedure is not used. I’ve used the crimping pliers type PP crimper diescrimp tool, until now. I finally invested in a crimp tool made for the Powerpole® connector contacts. I have to say that I should have done it sooner, no exaggeration! There are are several styles of crimpers available with the special dies for the crimp, study their operation and style then decide for yourself which one suites your needs. The version that I settled on has a feature in the tool that helps maintain the alignment of the contact while the crimp in done (see photo). My opinion is that the crimp done with the pictured tool is far superior than the crimping pliers style. Along with the quality of the crimp, there is no distortion to the contact. With no distortion there is no reforming the contact which results in a much easier insertion into the Powerpole® shell and much better contact surface for maximum conductivity.

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Get Ready For Field Day!

2015 Field Day Logo Red Design 1Every year, hams around the country start gathering their radios and warming up their grilles to get ready for the annual ARRL Field Day. This year, the Quad-County Amateur Radio Club has joined forces with the Punxsutawney Area Amateur  Radio Club to participate in a very special 40th Anniversary Field Day operation at the Punxsutawney Municipal Airport in Jefferson County.

In honor of the Club’s 40th Anniversary, the Quad-County Club will use the special-event callsign N3Q. The GOTA station will be operating with the Punxs’y Club callsign K3HWJ as in the past.

Of course there will be hotdogs with legendary “BUX” sauce, made from the secret recipe created by Dick Flanders WA3BUX (SK), served at every Field Day since the Club’s origins! Other food will be available, and everyone is encouraged to bring something to share with the group.

Plans are to operate around the clock, and to have a GOTA station set up for new hams, inactive hams and the public to operate. Additionally a VHF station will be set up to operate on 6-meter and 2-meter SSB/CW/Digital modes.

Most  importantly, a good time will be had by all, as we once again demonstrate to public officials and all of our guests how hams are always ready to work together to set up top-notch radio stations away from the comforts of home and communicate with each other across the miles, to serve our communities.

 

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Contest Results – Fall 2013

WOW! THE DAUNTLESS QCARC contest team warmed up the ionospere during several on-air operating events in October and November. Thanks to the generosity of Club President Peach Caltagarone AB3OG, we were able to string up some pretty impressive antennas at Hummingbird Speedway and rack up some pretty impressive scores, operating from the really nice cabin overlooking Hummingbird Speedway.

Antenna Science

THE MOST IMPRESSIVE antenna was the N3QC Rhombic (orange in the photo), with its beam centered on Southern Europe and the Mediterranian Sea — an area encompassing the largest hotbed of DX Contest operators in the world. In case you’ve never heard of a rhombic, it’s a wire antenna with the wires oriented in such a way as to generate a high-gain “pencil beam” in the desired direction with a very low angle of radiation. Round-the-world communications along a narrow path are possible even in poor conditions.

The N3QC Rhombic is made up of four one-wavelength (on 40 meters) legs with a 53.4° apex angle, suspended 50 feet above ground. The main lobe radiates on a bearing of 63.3° toward Europe, with a take-off angle of 21.2° above the horizon on 20 meters, and 9.2° on 10 meters. Gain is 19.75 dBi on 10 meters, 15.08 dBi on 20 meters, and 10.85 dBi on 40 meters with a 45° takeoff angle and a 60° beamwidth!

The first thing you notice about the rhombic is how quiet it is. Due to its enormous size of 240 by 120 feet (2/3 of an acre!) the aperture is large enough that nearby terrestrial noise is picked up in common mode, and cancels itself out in the feed system. Which brings us to the second thing you notice: Received signals are HUGE! The large aperture means a gigantic capture area allowing the incoming wavefronts to generate strong currents along the wires. On transmit, the nearly 20 dB gain means our 500 watt signal results in an ERP of over 40,000 watts!!!

When we first hooked it to a radio, we could hear European hams on 10 meters. It was midnight in Europe, and they were just chatting with each other using low power. tuning around the 10 meter band, I heard one station in Spain calling CQ and answered him with only 100 watts. He incredulously asked if I was really in W3. He turned his yagi toward the US and we were both astounded by the S9 + 20 dB signal strength. That was a very good sign for our upcoming contest efforts!

The rhombic is a tough act to follow, but it’s highly directional and there was a need to cover areas it didn’t. So up went two G5RV antennas. The first (red in the photo) hung at 43 feet and was aligned parallel to the rhombic’s main beam, to provide coverage perpendicular to it. Specifically, the coverage was planned to cover Japan and the Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and South America. The second G5RV (green in the photo) was suspended at 60 feet and aligned north-south to provide coverage of the US on 80, 40 and 20 meters, and have four lobes on 15 and 10 meters to the NE, SE, SW and NW to supplement the first G5RV.

Although significantly noisier than the rhombic, the G5RVs proved to do their intended jobs and provided solid coverage to their predicted target areas, just as they were designed. Although yagis or tribanders would provide more gain and flexibility than the G5RVs, the expense and effort to install towers and beams was not feasable at this time. The G5RVs were a good compromise, and worked more than adequately. Perhaps in the future, another unterminated rhombic (bi-directional) would better serve Japan, the Pacific islands, the Caribbean and South America. (Or maybe a curtain array, say an HRRS 4/4/0.5, phase-steerable +/- 30°, centered on 330°/150°. Such an antenna would cover 80% of the world’s landmass with about 16 dBi on 20-10 meters.)

The science works in practice, and I am sure that were he still with us, QCARC’s first president Gary Boucher W3GNR would be very proud of our engineering work!

The Radios

WE ARE NOT wealthy. But our club is rich in the generosity we show each other! For example, the rhombic consists of 550 feet of wire, provided by W3BC. He also provided 50 feet of RG-8 coax (enough to reach the ground) and a 4:1 balun. WA3UFN provided 150 feet of RG-8 coax to continue the feed to the shack. W3BC also provided 500 feet of rope, and the insulators used to hold the four corners of the rhombic way up in the air. His baitcasting skills and equipment launched the support ropes over the treetops. AB3OG provided the racetrack location and permission to place the antenna there. Cost to the club: $0.00 — Value: Priceless!

When it came time to operate, W3BC transported a shackful of contest-grade radios. His classic Icom IC-751A transceiver, IC-R71E receiver, IC-2KL solid-state, fluid-cooled linear, and AT-500 automatic bandswitching antenna tuner made up one operating position for the first couple events. His newly-acquired Icom IC-756 Pro III replaced the erstwhile 751 for the Phone Sweepstakes. AB3OG brought his Icom IC-765 for the second operating position. His one-time world-champion Icom flagship rig performed admirably, allowing us to tune out the severe QRM and focus on the signals we wanted.

Additionally, W3TM brought headsets, rig interfaces, voice keyer, CW paddles and footswitches to round out the operating positions. W3BC supplied the logging computers and software. He also made up Great-Circle maps centered on our QTH, with the patterns for each antenna and band superimposed. AB3OG paid the electric bill, and kept the lights and heat running in the beautiful, modern cabin, which made operating comfortable and fun. The nicely appointed cabin was the perfect blend of rustic atmosphere and modern convenience to make our time spent there very enjoyable. Those not operating were able to follow the games on a wide-screen TV, also courtesy of AB3OG.

The Club provided food, snacks and beverages, and KA3MKY brought snacks and served up the world’s best homemade chili. Nobody went hungry, and all the comforts of home were available. Again, the cost to the Club was small.

During the setup, KB3LES helped out with the heavy lifting, and brought his MFJ antenna analyzer which proved to be valuable in locatiing a faulty coax connector. That was the only equipment failure, and the CB-grade connector was completely burned up when we applied 500 watts to the feedline. (A PL-259 that meets specifications will easily handle well over 1000 watts at 50 ohms, but the cheap imitation ones sold in CB shops WILL fail at under 100 watts — catastrophically!!!) Thanks to W3TM who provided a replacement connector on a moment’s notice!

For the Jamboree on the Air, WD3D brought his Kenwood transceiver and a vertical antenna. He demonstrated the ease with which an Amateur Radio Station could be set up and talk to other stations around the world!

The Operations

THERE WAS NO shortage of operating events! We started out with the Pennsylvania QSO Party on October 12 and 13. We operated the full 22 hours of the event, and had a very sucessful experience. Not only did we score 145,000+ points, but we made a “Clean Sweep” of all 67 counties! It was very easy to bust a pileup on our first call, and we received many unsolicited comments about our “big signal”. Operators were AB3OG, W3BC, W3TM and WD3D.

Next was the Jamboree ont the Air on Saturday and Sunday, October 19-20. Boy Scouts from the local troops were invited to attend. A number of hams were present to help out. Wd3D brought a complete station and set it up, and talked to the world. Club members present were W3DWR, KA3FHV, AB3OG, W3TM, KB3LES, KA3MKY, W3BC.

This was taken 10/26/13 around 7:30pm shortly before the half million point threshold…CONGRATULATIONS JOE AND PEACH!!! [KA3MKY Photo]

Then on October 25-27 it was time for the big one… The biggest contest of them all, the annual CQ World-Wide DX Contest. Could we hope to even be heard with all the world’s biggest of the big guns? The answer was a resounding, YES! The rhombic showed its true colors as we again received many reports of a booming signal from all over the world. New Zealand at over 9,000 miles away was booming in on 10 meters. We often could hear “local” stations via long path, with their signals going 24,000 miles the long-way around the world with the characteristic 1/8 second delay or “echo”. The “red” G5RV delivered a dozen QSOs with Japan on 10, 15 and 20 meters! We worked well over 100 countries — DXCC in one wekend! We jokingly suggested that we should shoot for a million points. The truth is that we almost made it: Our final score was over 897,000 points and if we could have had even a couple more manhours on one or the other radio, we would have likely hit the million-point mark! Ops: W3BC, AB3OG. More would have been very welcome and appreciated!!!

Finally on November 16 and 17th, we set up shop for the ARRL November Sweepstakes phone contest. We entered in the multi-operator, single transmitter category. W3BC’s new Pro III was the workhorse, and the radio and antennas performed perfectly. Band conditions were fantastic. The long-path”echo” of our own signal was often heard when we let up on the transmit switch! 10 meters was wall-to-wall with stations all over the US and Canada. It was like being in one of those game show money booths, and we tried to grab as many QSOs as we could. We worked both Alaska and Hawaii right off the bat in the first few minutes, and had collected contacts in 60 different ARRL sections within the first six hours, leaving 23 to be worked for a clean sweep. By the time we shut down for the night, we had made a couple hundred QSOs, and had talked to station in all but seven states.

We started up again on Sunday morning, and found 10 meters was good for DX but not the US. We went to 15 meters and could hear that “long-path echo” on almost every station. I’ve never seen conditions that good in 47 years of being a ham. We settled into systematically tuning the band, and it seemed that on every QSO we picked up one of the needed sections. Before long, we were down to single digit numbers of needed sections. Over the course of an hour, we brought it down to the final four: Newfoundland and Manitoba in Canada, and North Dakota and Kentucky in the US. We tried tuning 20 meters, but the approaching weather front was producing S9 + 20 dB of “static” on that band. Back up to 10 meters, but not many signals, and those we heard we had already worked long before. Then on 15 meters, we almost immediately found a VY2 and the “NL” multiplier was ours. On the TV, the Steelers had just scored a field goal, so that must have been a lucky time for Western Pennsylvania.

A little more tuning around and there was Manitoba! Now we were down to two more sections. On 40 meters, there was Nancy K9DIG calling “CQ Sweepstakes” and in a matter of seconds, North Dakota was in our log! Only one more setion to go! We went down to 80 meters for an hour or two and began to give up hope of the Clean Sweep. We did work a large number of stations in an hour-long pile-up of stations who needed Western Pennsylvania, but none of them were from Kentucky. We then went back up to 40 meters to take a quick run across the band and pick up the few stations we hadn’t worked yet.

The Steelers game was over, everybody had worked everybody else and boredom was setting in. We heard one guy calling CQ and answered him. He replied, “N3QC You blew me out of my chair with that big signal. You’re the loudest station I ever heard!” Yes, our modest station was acting much more like a Big Gun than the little pistol we really were!

As evening fell, the rain was coming down and 20, 15 and 10 meters were closing when we heard a W4 calling CQ on 40 meters. Was he in Kentucky? We threw out our call. No reply. We called again a couple more times. Still nothing. And then…

Another pile-up of stations started calling us. We worked through them, and when they tapered off, we tried calling “CQ Kentucky” a couple times in the closing hours of the contest. We could visualize our hopes for a Clean Sweep sprouting wings and flying away. But up from the ashes, a friendly voice came through the speaker, “There’s a Kentucky down on 3702.”

Off we went!

Sure enough, the Kentucky station was there, working a huge pile-up. We got our ducks in a row, and AB3OG sent our call once along with the dozen or so other stations who sounded like feeding time at the hog trough. But thanks to the rhombic and the amp and the Pro III audio and the operating skill (along with a little luck), there was Kentucky calling N3QC!!! Peach finished the QSO and entered it in the log and then we all cheered the accomplishment. We had made our Clean Sweep!!! Of course that implies that we also worked all 50 states… In only a 24-hour period!

That Winning Season

THE WEATHER WARNINGS started flowing in when there were still a couple more contest hours left to go. Putting safety first, we made the difficult decision to forego the hundred or so more QSOs that would have put us over the 100,000 point threshold and opted to shut down and load all the equipment up. Mother Nature even sided with us and suspended the drenching downpour that had been going on all afternoon and evening. We tore down and removed all the equipment from the cabin, loaded it in the vehicles and then set about securing the antennas for the winter.

Sweepstakes operators were W3BC, AB3OG and KA3MKY, with a nice visit by KB3LES and his XYL Jo. We all had a great time in the Sweepstakes and all the other events. Everyone had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. The radios and antennas worked perfectly and more than lived up to our expectations. We proved that we could get the techincal part right without spending a fortune. We also proved that we could operate efficiently for long periods without succumbing to exhaustion.

The 2013 Fall contest season had come to a close. Our club suited up and showed up. We made very good scores without overworking ourselves, and probably won some awards — we definitely won two “Clean Sweep” awards — and really, really enjoyed ourselves. The silent key founding members of our Club would be very proud of our efforts, both in the technical and the competitive aspects of the events. We did our best to honor their heritage.

The only dark cloud was that we missed you. There was plenty of fun (and food) to go around, and even if you don’t think you’re up to contesting, you could have shared our excitement and fun while watching us win each little victory and by cheering us on. Yes RadioSport is a spectator sport too, and your team spirit and support would have meant a lot to those of us who were competing on the air. Can we count on your support next time? It really does mean a lot to those of us in the thick of the competition.

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Found at Butler Hamfest

Hi everybody

Since I was just sitting here, I thought that I could show you all what I found at the ham-fest in Butler last Sunday.

Well, lets go back to the beginning in this story. In 1978, I became interested in ham-radio satellites, so called OSCAR satellites. Way back then, the AMSAT OSCAR 7 was the satellite to work. It had an orbit that made it show up every 90 minutes, and covered Europe, northern Africa, and also the US East Coast. To work US East Coast stations, you had about 5 minutes before it went down under the horizon again, so you had to be quick!

Now to the more technical part, the radio you see here at the right, is an Icom 402, it was the state of the art in late 70’s if you wanted to do some SSB on 70cm. It has 3w out-put, and that is not very much, but then again, your average 2m FM radio had a high-power setting of 10w. I used an Icom 402 on the uplink, 435 Mhz LSB, and then the signal from the satellite came back on 145 Mhz USB. The 402 was hooked up to a 46 element J-beam, and the antenna for down-link was a simple 4 element yagi. Right at the 2m yagi, I had a low-noise preamp, to help my Kenwood TS-700 hear the weak signals coming back from the satellite. I would say, that I worked a few hundred  stations via OSCAR satellites.

Now to complete this little story. At the hamfest, I paid $10 for this radio in close to mint condition! Needless to say, it made my day! Of course, there aren’t many 70 cm stations around Clearfield — much less SSB ones — but late last night before I went to bed, I went into my shack, and for some reason I tuned around the band and heard somebody! It was Joe W3BC, and he was operating from W3SO in Altoona, so that was my first QSO on my new “old” rig, Joe also gave me the frequencies for 2m and 6m, since what I stumbled into was the VHF contest, lucky them!

Hope this little essay was worth reading  :)

PS: For all you who are interested, there is a 2m version of this radio and a 6m version, Icom 202 and Icom 502, there is also a fm 2m, Icom 215.

Lars

PS2: This is a 70cm Halo antenna I built for the radio, it’s horizontally polarized and it is Omni directional (same radiation all directions)

Update on Halo, just worked W3SO, Altoona, made op laugh! Will listen for other stations also….

 

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I thought I saw a Pussycat…(And now it’s gone)

Well, here we go again!

Remember a while ago, when I wrote about needing a project in order to stay sane, while my shoulder healed? Well, I sure found one!

If you look at the picture at the right, that’s it!

It’s a fantastic little rig from Kenwood, when they still made simple but very good HF stations –  no menus, no electronic band-switch, etc.

The model number is TS-130s, and it covers 80m -10m, including the WARC bands, it’s got 100w output and is a cw/ssb rig only, but hey, its a great rig for ragchewing, field-day, beginners’ rig, or when going camping!  :)

When I got it, someone had dropped the top lid while looking inside, resulting in tearing the wire off from internal speaker, but with the help from some junked speakers, that was an easy fix. Then came the question why the RF power came and went. Well, what really was wrong, was a voltage regulator, sitting on the heat sink, and it was supposed to be insulated from ground. As you might already have guessed, it was not really…that is to say, the little washer with a little flange on, that is supposed to keep the screw from touching the regulator, was damaged, so when keying the rig, sometimes it made contact, and sometimes not….  After having found this, it now works just as new!

Speaking of cleaning, now I’m going to tell you what not ever to do!! (AND I MEAN THAT!)

When cleaning knobs, do not EVER try to do that in a sink, without a strainer! Why? I’ll tell you why, if you haven’t felt your heart fly up into your throat, YOU WILL! Also, if you haven’t had to take the drain apart, YOU WILL!

Now, if you have stopped laughing, and stopped saying S****D I***T, I can tell you, I now know how it feels! I was just lucky that the knob wasn’t flushed out. Having  put it all together again, I buffed up the scuffed paint on the case. It looks  so good, that I don’t want to let it go, but since it’s only a project rig, I must (at least that’s what XYL says…)

A radio in this condition sells really fast, and so did this. Roger KB3ZKJ, is now the happy owner. Congrats Roger!

Your storyteller

Lars KB3WBT

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Torn rotator cuff, so what to do till it’s healed?

Hello all Lars here.

Looks like I will have about 6 months, before I’m healed and so I have been thinking of a little something to do in the meantime.

You see the rig at the right here, it’s my beautiful Kenwood TS-520 and its a so called “hybrid rig” it means that the radio have both old time tubes and transistors, the tubes are just used in the transmitter “PA”, but easily delivers a nice and clean 100w out.

Now to my crazy idea, if you guys know of anybody who wants to get rid of his old non working TS-520, 520s or 520se, even TS-820, 830 or even TS-530 would work fine, I would be happy to buy for around $90- 100, just as something to do….  As you might have figured out, cheaper is better, since trying to get back to shape, (torn rotator cuff) so I can get back to work again, isn’t cheap…

Mind You, I’m not a repair pro, but hoping to learn “how to”

Thank you for taking time to read this…

Lars KB3WBT

PS: E-mail me at sm7fyw at hotmail.com

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Group Purchase: Baofeng UV-3R Dual-Band HT

NEW Baofeng UV-3R Dual-Band HT

I will be ordering 5-unit lots of Baofeng UV-3R HTs from China as orders come in. The cost is $46.00 per radio, shipped. I will program them with all the local ham radio frequencies of interest free of charge. (If you prefer to do it yourself, here’s the file: QC-Ham)

I can also obtain spare batteries at $3.95 each. Better deal: I found a supplier of 1800 mAH batteries for $4.00 each, which gives 20% longer battery life for a nickel more!!!

These prices are for 5 units or more, so orders will be held until I get at least 5.

Please note, these are the improved “Mark II” version with the dual frequency display and 19 menu functions. Color (red, blue, yellow or camo) units are $49.00 each and take longer to ship (two weeks). The regular ones take a few days. The first group order was for 8, I expect them to be here in time for the Meeting Friday.

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