by Prepper Doc
In Part One, (also read part three here) I discussed how you could use Radio Comm training as a way to locate potential allies who may soon share your prepper goals. I went over how you could work to get your own ham radio license, and how to use the Baofeng UV-5R inexpensive handi-talkie for your initial ham radio VHF/UHF experience.
In this part, we’ll go over how you can hold your first Radio Comm training program. While the Baofengs make very inexpensive VHF/UHF rigs, getting a shortwave (HF) station going that can have national/international communications in an emergency is a bit trickier. So, In Part Three, I’ll delver farther into how you can put together an inexpensive HF station, hopefully one that is somewhat EMP protected.
GOALS: You need to have a vision for what you are trying to accomplish.
- Teach people enough so that they have a good chance of passing the Technician license exam
- Make sure they have FUN, or they won’t be coming back to learn anything more from you, or to join up with you!
- Recruit selected students to additional training, developing them further into allies.
Elaboration on #3: Recruit: You have to stay one or two steps ahead in your planning, just like the introduction to this article (Part II) explained what would be coming in Part III (a tease, to increase interest). At the time of your Radio Comm training, you need to already have a fair set of plans in place for the next thing you are going to teach/involve them in, so that you can advertise it right then and there, and begin signing people up. People’s time and attention are valuable: while you have their attentiont, make the most of it!
You may want to next teach food storage techniques, or gardening, or marksmanship, or cartridge reloading, or backup electricity techniques — whatever is your next class, have an attractive flyer ready to pass out, and a signup available! You may not even personally have the expertise — for example you may simply offer to coordinate getting a group transported to/from an Appleseed marksmanship training program  with the teaser that you have some rifles they can borrow for the day, or you may have a fellow prepper who can teach that next subject.
If so, have your dates, times, and specifics nailed down so you can hand out a flyer of what you’re offering, what is required, a compelling list of what the BENEFITS will be, and how to sign up. That’s recruiting!
YOUR FUN RADIO COURSE
In order to make it fun, and successful, you need to be well prepared. If you’re new to ham radio, you may settle for getting students ready for the Technician exam; if you’re more experienced, you may tantalize them with the possibility of also passing the General. Get help if you can, and get as many ham rigs as possible to festoon your meeting location, for breakout demonstrations. Have them on individual tables with adequate room for a group to gather around each; capable antennas on each so they can hear and possibly even transmit as part of your demonstrations.
I like the weekend-boot-camp idea. It requires the simplest time commitment from your students. You may be recruiting busy people whose schedules are quite full, so pick a weekend several months (3-6) into the future, and well away from any major holidays that sap peoples’ spare time. If possible, schedule your class one or two weeks right before a local examination schedule, and point out that they can take the test right away. Be sure to coordinate with the local volunteer examiners.
Interest more people by offering a wide-ranging, versatile course that will appeal to multiple sectors. I suggest that you require a nominal charge (in advance!) and that you deliver (at the start of the course) to each student a) their own pre-programmed Baofeng transceiver ($27), b) an inexpensive voltmeter ($6) , and a nice touch would be c) to have them construct their own external 2 meter dipole at your class (with adapter to SMA, probably $8–see below). You need to have mastered Baofeng programming to pull this part off….(see Part One) Unless you have a chef at your disposal, do meals as order-out’s from a nearby fast food spot, and have each participant take care of themselves. Remember some people have dairy-intolerance, some may have dietary allergies, and others may be vegans — so don’t lock people into some food choices that may not work for them. Allow people to bring their own sack-meals, of course!
Use the ARRL video  as the basis for your class. You would never be able to match the props and illustrations they put into that one video! Below, I have a timed breakdown of the 6-1/2 hour video, with all the natural breaks listed, and suggestions for demonstrations to hold at each break. Keep your crowd busy, engaged, and moving — don’t let them be lulled to sleep by the long video! At each break, pepper them with some appropriate questions from the Question Pools, which you have pre-divided into stacks that fit with the different video segments. You’re going to have to do some work to get all the demonstrations ready, but it will be worth it! As much as possible, keep them on schedule!!
Once you have your course pretty well figured out, including as many demonstrations as you can put together, and your ability to program the radios, it is time to advertise like crazy! Make up some sort of one page attractive flyer, including your phone number, the cost for your course, and a request for their name / phone number and a check. My flyer is appended below. Pass out your flyer at your church, club, community group; at work, to your basketball buddies — everywhere you go, months in advance.
Send it or take it to local religious high schools. Check out local vocational schools — a teacher there might see the advantage of what you are doing and be willing to promote it. Have a strict limit based on your facilities (probably your own home?). I have the advantage that I’m reasonably well known as somewhat of an expert in my area, so I filled by entire class to overflowing in less than three weeks of promoting. You may have to work at it a bit, but after the success of your first class, things will get easier.
OPSEC versus PREPPER RECRUITMENT
There is more than one school of thought on this. Obviously by opening up part of your life/home to this class, you are going to be revealing some of your assets and capabilities. Be wise exactly how much you reveal. You may wish to keep some rooms discreetly closed off. There are plenty of valid reasons to be involved in ham radio, to have solar backup power; to own generators and have a garden. You don’t HAVE to blurt out to your class that you are prepared for the end of the world!
By contrast, you do want to pique a certain interest in your students in learning more and potentially becoming allies. So, when you discuss ionospheric propagation (D-layer absorbtion, E and F layer bending, etc) it is a great time to just interject that an EMP attack would involve a nuclear bomb roughly in the F layers, and it would create such-and-such an electromagnetic signal that would fry any unprotected radio that had an antenna longer than a few feet, and also would destroy much of the nation’s electrical grid….
Be ready to give government statistics (that looks innocent, right?) that 90% of the population would die….SOME of your students are going to find you and ask more about this and now you have made the contacts that will result in future allies.
You’re going to do your dead level best to give your students the very best educational experience possible to get their Technician License. So you’re going to rig up some great demonstrations, and have excellent handouts. Let’s consider the demonstrations you could have. NOTE: If you are very new to radio, some of this is not going to make any sense right now. Don’t let that scare you off. As you learn more, it will start to make sense. Just keep plugging; Rome was not built in a day!
- Receiver tuning: If you have an HF ham rig, let your students get a healthy dose of listening to CW, SSB, RTTY and any other signal you can find. (If you don’t, see Part III when it comes out.) Have the rig out on a table, connected to an antenna via an SWR meter, and going when they arrive. Get them to spin the dial and realize it doesn’t have “channels” — let them tune through SSB and CW signals and get a “feel” for how the tone changes. Have a map of the prefixes and regional numbers, and explain where each signal they hear is coming from. If you have VHF/UHF, click through various repeaters, and possibly have a prearranged contact so they can get to hear the repeater in action, if yours is fairly “quiet”.
- HF transmitter tuning: some rigs don’t even need tuning, others have many different dials to adjust. Connect up to a lightbulb dummy load (appropriate wattage bulb for your output!) and let them watch how it works! Show how the relative output power on the SWR meters goes with the lightbulb. Demonstrate how to read SWR.
- Modulation Demonstration: using either a lightbulb or an oscilloscope, let them watch the difference between CW, SSB, AM and FM. Watch how these signals show up on an SWR meter as well. A really elegant touch, if you can send AM, would be to modify a simple crystal radio so it can pick up your ham signal!
- YAGI Demo: if you have built a VHF Yagi,  show it to them and explain how the parasitic elements work. You may be even able to show how it makes your signal stronger. If you have no such radio, simply call attention to outside TV antennas, most of which are YAGI antennas also!
- Battery, resistor, Ohm’s Law Practice Using small pine boards as a basis, and 1/2″ sheet metal screws as terminals, have resistors, light bulbs, capacitors, diodes on boards where they can connect them up. Using their newly acquired voltmeter, have them measure voltages and currents. Make Ohms Law come alive! Work it so they can rig resistors in series and parallel. Demonstrate the effects of splitting voltages, or adding currents (parallel resistors). Use a small 9volt battery as your power source, or a 6volt rechargeable lantern battery. (Demo #9 involves building a small preamplifier on a board.)
- Basic power supply. A 12 volt transformer, diode, and a 100 microfarad electrolytic capacitor on a board will allow you to show how a simple power supply changes AC into DC. If you have an oscilloscope you can even show the waveforms. If not, a stereo headphone with a bit of resistance in line (try 1000 ohms) may allow them to hear the differences. 
- Auto Battery. Make it real by taking them out to a car and measuring battery voltage. Connect up a car charger and see what happens. Start the engine and see what happens. Carefully run a small car charger through the current-measuring (usually 10A) scale of their voltmeter and let them see how it declines as the battery gets charged. Explain how to tell a bad battery from a bad alternator (bad alternator can’t get the voltage above 12 VDC).
- Solar power: If you have any solar power system available at all — even one temporary panel — make power, voltage and current make more sense by measuring all of them everywhere in your system possible.
- Audio Amplifier: Below is a simple circuit for a one-stage audio amplifier. You can use it to amplify an iPhone output or a microphone output. Put several stages in series and see if you can power a headphone with it.
- Antenna/Circuit Analyzer If you can beg, borrow or buy an antenna analyzer  you can give them a huge treat by using it to show the impedance of your antenna at various frequencies. Otherwise, do much the same by using an SWR meter to show how the antenna has a resonant center frequency, and how the SWR gets worse away from that.
- Antenna Tuner: You can make your own (even with a homemade coil wound on PVC pipe and a homemade capacitor made of overlapping aluminum foil separated by cardboard) or buy a simple antenna tuner — show how you can tune up a long wire antenna with the system and match the SWR right down to 1:1 
- Homemade Dipole. Have them build their very own 2-meter external antenna. It is easy, here’s an example:  You can cut off one end of this coax assembly  and use this adapter to connect to the Baofeng:  This will give your students practice either soldering or crimping, and in using antenna analyzer or SWR bridge.
- AM Crystal radio kit. Will probably only work for broadcast AM if you live very near to a very strong station! If you connect the output of this crystal radio into the input of your microphone preamp module– MUCH LOUDER audio!! A great example to your group. Also, if you have access to a ham rig that can send AM (some newer digital units surprisingly can do this) then you can short out half or 3/4 of the built in inductor on the crystal radio and get 80 or 40 meters and demonstrate an extremely simple receiver similar to what was used at the dawn of radio. (Start with very low power or use a light bulb dummy load on the transmitter and work your way carefully up) The LC circuit at the front end of the crystal radio is a parallel circuit, which peaks at a very high equivalent resistance at resonance, maximizing the signal going to the germanium diode; frequencies on either side are effectively “shorted out”. You can use this to explain filters to your student. If you have an antenna analyzer, connect to the LC circuit and demonstrate resonances. 
- On The Air. Make on the air contacts on as many bands as possible; if your class extends throughout the day as I suggest, demonstrate that the lower frequencies “come alive” as the sun goes down (during the day the D layer absorbs all the energy from 80 and often 40 meters), whereas 20 and above work well during the day. If you can demonstrate tropospheric skip on 2 meters, all the better! You can also have your students “call” each other across the room with 2 handi-talkies or with 2 HF rigs. Keep all procedures correct so they learn proper procedures!
Emphasize to your students the tremendous advantage they can gain by going through the Question Pool for the test they wish to take. 
- ARRL illustration of frequency privileges and bands 
- A “frequency line” going from AM Broadcast to beyond 2 meters, with the major “players” of each segment listed. If you like, go all the way past UHF TV into the cell phone frequencies.
- List of important internet links
Frequency Chart: http://www.arrl.org/graphical-frequency-allocations
Question Pools: http://www.arrl.org/question-pools
Ionospheric bending: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ionosphere
Baofeng Programming: http://www.miklor.com/uv5r/
4 Explanatory information for their Baofeng radios
You may need to purchase components both to pass around to your students, and to build some of the circuits described above. Your circuits will have these students putting resistors in series and in parallel, and charging up and discharging capacitors, running current through or measuring diodes forward and backward resistance — you’re going to want to have some components available. I have found that digi-key (www.digikey.com) is a great resource if you don’t have a working Radio Shack in your town.
Their inventory is expansive and their web interface designed to order millions of parts, but it also works to order just a few, as well. Here are suggestions for parts to order. In most cases, you get a price break if you buy 10 or more, and if you are in ham radio, you are likely to use a lot of these after TEOTWAWKI, so you might just want to buy 20 or so (or more!) of each anyway…. If you take the time to deal with their web interface, you can have an amazingly large component stash for $20.
- 2N3904 transistors $0.19 ea. http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/2N3904BU/2N3904FS-ND/1413
- 180 microfarad 25 VDC capacitor $0.48 http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/EEU-FC1E181/P11217-ND/356121 (Note: this will work fine for the 200 microfarad in the mic preamp schematic)
- 10 microfarad 25VDC capacitor $0.31 http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/ECE-A1EN100U/P1176-ND/227617
- RESISTORS: I recommend that you simply buy multiple values of 1/2 watt resistors, in a geometric series of resistances from low to high. Here are some important examples:
- 47K $0.11 each http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/CFM12JT47K0/S47KHCT-ND/2617621
- 10K 0.11 each http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/CFM12JT4K70/S4.7KHCT-ND/2617623
- 4700 ohm 0.11 each http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/CFM12JT4K70/S4.7KHCT-ND/261762
- 1K 0.11 each http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/CFM12JT1K00/S1KHCT-ND/2617564
- 100 ohms 0.11 each http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/CFM12JT100R/S100HCT-ND/2617546
- DIODES: You can always use a 1000PIV 1 AMP diode in most moderate power applications:
- 1N4007 1KV 1Amp $0.11 each http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/1N4007-TP/1N4007-TPMSCT-ND/773694
You will probably want to make some posters to help demonstrate some concepts:
- Ionospheric Layers — also key to your “mentioning” of EMP.
- Large sized photocopy of the ARRL Frequency Privileges
- Drawing of modulation modes: CW, AM, SSB, FM
This is obviously a lot of work, a labor of love. Don’t be discouraged by people dropping out. There will always be a slow steady attrition as illness, other opportunities, and apathy take their toll, not only of this one-time class, but also of your prepper group, which is why you have to keep adding to your prepper group. If you want to grow a strong prepper group, you should expect to do a lot of work. If you are the only person in your group right now who knows how to use radios, that is a problem, right? So get started, pull off this class, recruit some people, and then move on to your NEXT educational/training class. And in the meantime, invite over for dinner the most promising of the potential allies you met in your class, and carefully feel out where they are. Suggest books & videos for them to read, and see how they respond. That’s one good way to begin growing your group.
APPENDIX ONE: Sample Flyer
Weekend Electronics/Radio Communications “BootCamp”
[your date/time here]
[your name, address, contact info here]
Come join us for an intensive 2-day blast of knowledge of all things radio & electronics, which will prepare you to take and pass your Technician/General Class Amateur Radio license the following weekend. [NOTE I AM INCLUDING GENERAL CLASS TEASER]
We will start with an incredibly well-done teaching video, professionally created by the ARRL and world-famous instructors John & Martha King. We’ll add hands-on at every possible chance – you’ll be on the radio (under my licensed supervision), you’ll be using a voltmeter, ammeter and ohmmeter like a pro, you’ll build, test and tune your very own 2-meter dipole antenna, and by the end of the weekend, Ohm’s Law will be your friend. Cables, signals, FM, AM, Single Side Band – you’ll know it all. CB, marine, weather – you’ll be ready for any radio or TV signal, having used all kinds of test equipment that normally only Electrical Engineers ever see.
Schedule: Start at 0800 on Saturday, take frequent breaks, do lunch as a take-out (Dutch), power through the afternoon, more take-out for supper and break in the early evening. Regroup after church at 1 PM on Sunday, and finish up by 7 PM Sunday evening. The following weekend, you should be able to pass the multiple choice (no Morse Code!) ham radio tests with ease. We might even finish early.
You’ll go home with the following:
- A pre-programmed software-defined Baofeng VHF/UHF ham radio, marine, weather 4-watt actual handheld transceiver fully capable of simplex or repeater communications on the Gainesville repeaters (with which you’ll be very familiar!).
- Your very own volt/am/ohmmeter (multimeter) – which you’ll know how to use to test batteries, circuits & more.
- Your very own half-wave dipole 2-meter external ham radio antenna – that you yourself soldered, stripped, cut, and tuned. This will boost your 2-meter signal far more than the rubber duckie antenna standard on your transceiver. You’ll also know how to make it work on other bands.
- A head FULL of new-found knowledge.
COSTS: $35 each, plus you chip in for your take-out meals.
Advantages: This will be a great way to solidify your electricity / electronics knowledge, and also a chance for teens to dip their toes in a possible career or avocation.
Restrictions: Age 12 and up. MAXIMUM OF 20 PARTICIPANTS.
Directions: [INSERT DIRECTIONS TO YOUR HOUSE / ADDRESS / PHONE ]
Fill this out, mail or hand it to me, and enclose a check for $35 made out to [YOUR NAME]
Name ___________________________________ Age: ____________
Phone Number: ___________________________
Any previous radio/electronics experience? ____________________________________
APPENDIX TWO: ARRL YouTube Technician Video Table of Contents / Course Integration
BOLD: Clock Time Schedule for your Weekend Course
0:00 You-Tube time for ARRL Video
0:03 ARRL Course Info
0:11 Spectrum, frequency, wavelength
0:21 Metric system
0:26 Modulation / FSIC, RTTY/ Phase, reactance modulator
0:42 Sporadic E
0:53 Line of Sight
0:54 Signal Loss, tropo, beacon
HANDS ON: #1 HF receiver tuning, calibration (note no channelization)
#3 Oscilloscope modulation demos, CW SSB AM FM
#13 If you have an AM transmitter, you can transmit to a modified crystal radio (short out 1/2-2/3 of the inductor, and try 80 or 40 meters)
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools for Section 8: Modulation modes; Signals & Emissions
1:00 DIGITAL modes of communication: TNC Digipeater, RTTY
HANDS ON: #1 Try to find a RTTY signal
#14 Live repeater contact
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 8: Modulation modes; Signals & Emissions
1:31 Ohms Law Examples
1:35 Series, parallel
1:40 Inductors / Transformers
1:53 Tuned Circuits
1:55 Transistor amplifier
1:56 Analog to Digital
1200 LUNCH BREAK
HANDS ON: #5 Battery, resistor, light: current & voltage
LEARN HOW TO USE MULTI METER
#13 Use Antenna Analyzer to study the LC circuit of the AM crystal radio
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 5: Electrical Principles
2:10 Vacuum Tubes
2:11 Integrated Circuits, VOM
2:18 Receiver Circuits
2:30 Spurious Emission
2:40 Test Equipment
2:55 Crystal Calibrator
HANDS ON: #9 Transistor amplifier
#7 Auto Battery Charging
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 6: Circuit Components and Section 7: Practical Circuits (General Class)
SWR, Tuners, Transmission Lines, Dummy Antenna
HANDS ON #2 SWR Measurement HF/ VHF/ Sensitivity adjustment
HF Transmitter tuning, plate dissipation
#10 Antenna analyzers, SWR on 80 meter antenna(s)
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 9 Antennas
1800 BREAK FOR SUPPER
3:50 Planning for the Exam
Bring photo ID
Calculator, no formulas programmed
HANDS ON: #4 YAGI demo, parasitic elements
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools 2 (Technician Operating Procedures)
1900: END OF SATURDAY
SECOND DAY: SUNDAY 1300
4:27 Antenna / Towers
HANDS ON: #11 BUILD 2 meter antenna
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 0 Safety
4:32 Radio Frequency Safety
Avoid low antennas with high power; height of great importance (separation)
Near / Far Frequencies (1/r -squared)
HANDS ON: #11 L Network Antenna
#14 Cross the room QSO
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 0 Safety
4:56 FCC REGULATIONS
Purpose, basis: personal radio service
Part 97 of “Title 47 CFR
Things not covered
Part 17: Airport & Antennas; if >200 feet, more rules
5:03 CSCE Element 1
5:11 License data base
5:21 License calls
NOTE: since 2007 no further requirement for morse even on HF
HANDS ON: #14 AM RADIO / Parallel LC Circuits
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 1 FCC Rules
5:36 Control operator / automatically controlled station
5:41 home made versus certified equipment
5:42: 3rd Party: phone patch, traffic nets, unlidensed 3rd party
Need agreement with foreign nation
Both calls on end of foreign 3rd party
5:47 $ No pecuniary interests
5:49 Broadcasting prohibited, no music exept space station
5:52 No profanity
5:53 False /deceptive
5:54 Emergencies / distress situations
6:00 Primary / Secondary, “Line A”
HANDS ON: #18 LIVE SSB CONTACT
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 1 FCC Rules
ITU Region 2
PEP — ENVELOPE
6:10 HF Technician bands
6:13 meter bands
6:15 Detailed privileges
Note that the Morse Code requirement for HF has been removed in 2007
6:24 Band Plans
Packet network use of 219-220 MHz, power limitation, pre notification
RTTY max symbol rate
HANDS ON: DISCUSS FREQUENCY CHART
DEMONSTRATE / EXPLAIN BAOFENG OPERATION
DEMONSTRATE BAOFENG PROGRAMMING
QUESTIONS: Drawn from Question Pools Section 1 FCC Rules
1830 BREAK FOR SUPPER
APPENDIX THREE: BAOFENG MANUAL SIMPLIFIED
This Chinese radio operates on two U.S. amateur bands, the 2meter band and the 70cm band, capable of either narrow- or wide-band FM (normally, we use WIDE band with this radio). However, it is able to operate on many more frequencies:
|U.S. Radio Service||Programmed on your radio||Comments|
|2 meter ham band||Multiple local repeaters in several cities, plus “simplex” channels||Completely legal, 1 & 4 watts|
|70 cm ham band||One working [your city here] repeater plus “simplex” (walkie-talkie) channels||Completely legal 1 & 4 watts|
|NOAA Weather Channels||All seven channels||Receive only — completely legal.|
|FM Broadcast||Incrementally tuned||Receive only — completely legal.|
|Marine VHF band||Emergency Channel 16, plus other frequently used channels programmed||You can always receive. Transmission technically legal only in emergency. Equipment is not certified for this service.|
|FRS/GMRS family walkie-talkie service||14 channels programmed||You can always receive. Transmission is technically legal only in emergency. Lower power channels 8-14 unlikely to be detected at any significant distance. Equipment is not certificated for this service.|
|MURS license-free service||5 channels programmed||You can always receive. Transmission is technically legal only in emergency; equipment is not certificated for this service.|
- ON/OFF/VOLUME KNOB
The only easy thing about this radio is that the top right hand knob is an on-off/volume knob that does exactly what you would think it would do.
There is NO tuning knob at all. Instead you use the up-arrow and down-arrow button to increment either the memorized channels, or a variable frequency choice. If you hold the buttons down, they keep incrementing. Alternatively, if you can remember the 3-digit channel number, you can type it in and the radio will go right to it.
Antenna Connector: On the far top left the rubber-duckie antenna (dual band!) can be unscrewed and an SMA connector can be used to connect an external antenna. Try to keep the VSWR reasonably low, so you don’t damage the transmitter.
- SOFTWARE DEFINED COMPUTER RADIO
This radio is one of the new breed of computer-based radios that are called “software defined”. Almost every feature of the radio can be changed with a software setting! This is somewhat frightening at first — so just don’t CHANGE ANYTHING, and you’ll be fine.
- THREE LEVELS OF ABSTRACTION
There are several little “complexities” that once understood, make the radio a lot more user friendly. Let’s take them one at a time:
A & B TRANSCEIVER DISPLAYS
First, there are TWO LINES OF DISPLAY. It acts like you have two complete transceivers in one box. We call the top line “A” and the bottom line “B”. You can separately tune these as if they were two different transceivers. There is an ARROW to the left that shows which one you are using. You switch back and forth with the “ABß” key. Most of the time we are going to use the top (“A”) display — so switch there right now if you aren’t already pointed there.
A photo of the Radio Display. You can see the following:
PHOTO INSERT: BAOFENG.JPG
The top display (A) has the arrow (see it on the left?) pointing to it, so the top (A) display is what is setting your frequency. The A line is programmed to show the NAME of a memory channel , but it is showing you that you are on Channel 21, which is named “NOAA1”.
The bottom display (B) has access to the exact same memorized channels, but it is programmed to display the FREQUENCY of the memorized channel.
VFO versus MR (MEMORY CHANNELS)
The entire transceiver (both A and B displays) can be in either of two modes:
MEMORY: with access to the 50+ memorized channels that I have preprogrammed for you. Each memorized channel consists of a CHANNEL NUMBER, A NAME, and a FREQUENCY, as well as additional details such as power, bandwidth, transmitted offset, and other complicated things already taken care of for you.
VFO: Variable Frequency — where you use the up and down buttons to change the frequency yourself, similar to how you would tune a digital FM car radio. If you are in this mode, I have preprogrammed it to have 0 transmitted frequency offset on the A display (you send and receive on the displayed frequency) and negative 0.6 MHz offset on the B display — you send on a frequency 0.6 MHz lower…..remember this if you get near the lower legal end of the ham radio band…
CHANNEL vs. NAME vs FREQUENCY
When you are in the MR (memory) mode, you can independently program how you want the A and B displays to read: choices are the CHANNEL number, the NAME assigned, or the FREQUENCY memorized. I have preset A to display NAME, and B to display FREQUENCY. The channel is visible in little numbers to the far right. If you increment A and B to the same chanell, you can see the NAME in the A, and the FREQUENCY in the B.
Second, each display has 2 or 3 ways it can display what frequency is it set to:
In “CHANNEL” mode it is currently set to tell you the channel number in a very small number off to the left, and it is set to show you the NAME chosen for this frequency in larger print — up to 5 characters. I have programmed in several very useful Channels on both the 2meter and 70cm bands. We will usually leave the radio in CHANNEL mode. You can change channels (all in the top or “A” display) by either of two methods: turn the left-top knob clockwise or counterclockwise, OR by using the UP / DOWN arrow keys on the display.
If you want to go to FREQUENCY MODE (where the frequency is displayed) you hit the “VM/SCAN” button which has several functions — touching it switches between “VFO” (FREQUENCY) mode, and “MEMORY” (CHANNEL MODE). Why the confusion of renaming the modes? I dunno….guess the Chinese wanted to confuse us. Most of the time we can leave the A display in Channel Mode. The radio is set to come up with the top (A) display automatically in CHANNEL MODE, and the B (bottom) display in FREQUENCY MODE.
If you want, of course, you can just go hog wild and switch to the B display using the “AB<-” button, and then touch the VM key to switch the B display to CHANNEL MODE also, and even go back and forth if it suits your fancy.
On the left side of the radio the top large button is a Push To Talk button. The two-dot button below that is one that “opens the squelch” and lets you hear even the weakest signals — or just the noise if there is no one on the frequency. The bottom one-dot button actually does exactly nothing.
- ACTUALLY USING THE THING
MOST OF THE TIME you can simply stay on the top display, and leave it in the default CHANNEL MODE, and choose any of the pre-programmed channels with either the up/down buttons, or the rotary tuning knob. Press the PTT key to transmit, let go to receive, say your call sign often, and there is really not more to it!
- PRE-PROGRAMMED CHANNELS
Channels 1-10 are on the 2 meter ham band; the first are local [your city here] Repeaters (there are other cities’ repeaters scattered into other channels), the remainder (beginning with X for “simplex”) are direct walkie-talkie frequencies, where you can contact a nearby buddy and both of you send and receive on the same frequency.
Channels 11-15 are on the 70 cm ham band, including one local repeater that works, and 3 simplex frequencies.
Channels 16-20 are VHF Marine frequencies, identified by the marine channel they represent.
Channels 21-27 are the NOAA weather stations — at least one will always be within range and continuously broadcasting weather information.
Channels 31-44 are the FRS/GMRS frequencies
Channels 45-59 are the MURS channels.
 Appleseed: https://appleseedinfo.org/
 Harbor Freight multimeter, $7: http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html
 ARRL youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPyidvTGJ9Y
 An inexpensive 2 meter YAGI: http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/dirt-cheap-concealable-highgain-indoor-2meter-ham-antenna-project-beginners/
 This one even has a voltage regulator: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-simple-12-volt-power-supply/
 A nice antenna analyzer that includes 2 meters: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-259C
 http://w5dxs.tripod.com/l-network.htm ; also see http://survivalblog.com/inexpensive-and-simple-mono-or-multi-band-hf-ham-radio-antennas-by-prepperdoc/ for some photo’s and examples of how to build out of simple materials.
 2 meter dipole: http://www.qsl.net/ylradio/dipole.html If you will tape this to a pressure treated 1×2 furring strip from Home Depot or Lowes, it will be much more rugged.
 Baofeng type SMA to UHF connectors: http://www.amazon.com/DHT-Handheld-Antenna-Baofeng-Quasheng/dp/B00COKNKS8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1444606509&sr=8-1&keywords=Baofeng+sma+to+uhf
 Question Pools: http://www.arrl.org/question-pools
 ARRL Frequency Chart: http://www.arrl.org/graphical-frequency-allocations
Yes that was nearly 6,000 words…