October 23, 2018 at 10:33 pm #1540
In any emergency, keeping in touch with other can be useful to check on people welfare, gather information, organize groups, etc. If the emergency is localized, getting good and updated information is very important but often hard. In case of a nationwide disaster or civil unrest, normal communication means could be cut off altogether.
At my location, the few organized (and I use that word loosely) groups are mainly focused on helping the government to help us. Not much exists in term of having an alternative communication network for the people. There is were I see the real value. Short and long distance communication to allow people to get in touch with each other and to receive information from their peer rather than from authorities.
In the past I have been in touch with some group of prepping oriented people but found out that a lot of the members are a little too afraid that there is a communist behind every tree, concerned about opsec to the point of not being functional, or too into their religion for me to fit in.
I am an Extra class radio amateur. I don’t have a huge station but it gets me out there. What is your experience in this field? Any concern you’d like to discuss?
October 24, 2018 at 7:08 am #1577
I have my General license, but really just listen. Shyness and PERSEC tend to hold me back, but I do own up to the fact that I’m shooting myself in the foot by keeping quiet.
If things go down (and assuming another Carrington event/EMP hasn’t damaged stations) then I assume communication will happen even if not as organized as before.
One of the biggest issues in my area is the average HAM is quite elderly and, given their communications, quite a few seem to be in poor health.
As for the political/religious orientation of groups? I think humans are always going to be tribal in nature so finding your tribe is a really important aspect of prepping. You may have to encourage friends/family to become HAMs if you aren’t finding what you’re looking for within the pool of active operators.
October 24, 2018 at 7:21 am #1582
I’ve got a pair of 20$ Baofeng walkies and a Garmin InReach mini, ideally I’d like anyone else in my group to have some kind of satcom for long range communication that’s not reliant on ground based station. Currently I use a month-by-month plan because I don’t need it 24/7 but if I’ve understood correctly you can prepay for months or even years of usage. Text messages to normal phones or other inreach devices, GPS and weather updates even when there’s no service. How well the weather update function will work in a total grid down situation, I have no idea but it’d be nice to know if a real gale is on the way. Hopefully the Iridium satellites will be up for a long time.
What’s your opinion for relatively portable short-medium range communications? IE 5-25km in less than ideal terrain. I don’t have much experience with anything other than my cheap walkies on a bike tour with a friend and we would start having difficulty communicating within 2km of each other on winding roads, having something with slightly better range would be nice. There’s an ICOM ProHunt with a very long flexible antenna in the reception at my job we use to talk to the ferry but that’s with constant clear line of sight over a lake around 15km wide, on days with bad weather we use cell phones because the radio traffic becomes undecipherable.
October 24, 2018 at 8:25 am #1593
Be advised: When I was in the Marines, during some exercises Radio Battalion would try to jam, spoof, or pretend to be the intended unit and send bad info.
I do not disagree communications will be important. I only question how much accurate information will be out there. How much will be rumor? How do you know who is really who they say they are?
Kinda like the internet.
I am in the same boat as Carl is, hilly, heavily wood terrain. Not sure how well hand helds would be if at all.
October 24, 2018 at 7:09 pm #1689
@homesteadingmama, a lot of HAMs, at least the one I hear on the air, are quite old here too, but I think there are younger people getting the license too, just they have not much time to spend on the air chatting. A lot of the nets are held in times I, having a family, do not find convenient so I end up not participating.
I agree with you that communication will happen, but it would be much better if there was an existing network that knows how to work together and that know each other, even if it is just over the air.
About the tribes, I actually tend to be against any group that is too homogeneous. I am not preparing for a set scenario so having people with different ideas and experience is, to me, vital. That’s what turned me off about the groups I had some contact with. They were so focused on some scenario that their plans where vulnerable to any other happening.
October 24, 2018 at 7:31 pm #1692
@Crow_Bar, I was in a Radio Battalion myself. I know some of the tricks. 🙂 Plus, if we are going against the military, I would not turn on the radio. Too easy for those drones to home on me.
What it comes down to is the usual: “Who do I trust?” That’s true for any information we receive, no matter the media we use. That’s the reason why I see a value for people who are interested, to connect before SHTF, to create some bond that can hopefully hold after a disaster strikes.
October 24, 2018 at 7:54 pm #1700
@Carl_Sagan, handheld devices can cover quite a bit of distance in open space but, as you experienced, it doesn’t take many trees to block the signal completely. An upgraded antenna can usually help but it is a matter of trial and error.
For more reliable communication you have to go to lower frequencies but with that comes a longer antenna that reduce mobility. There is always a trade off between distance you can reach and antenna size.
October 24, 2018 at 7:57 pm #1702
Yeah, in regards to the lower freq band.
DO NOT put your hand on top of a AN/PRC150 radio and press the transmit key!!!!
October 24, 2018 at 8:20 pm #1707
@Crow_Bar, come one man, that’s a 20W radio! If you want really feel alive try on a 500W one. 🙂 OK, don’t; just trust me.
October 24, 2018 at 8:35 pm #1710
@DF, LOL!!!! Nice!
November 5, 2018 at 12:02 am #3070
We have use Baofengs for HTs and even for repeaters. They do decent if you put the antennas far enough apart. I advise everyone who is remotely interested in prepping to get their HAM ticket.In remote places you can talk with no issues. But if caught its heavy fine. The reason I encourage is to get the average age of ham operators down. And to get people to practice with their radios for the when the really do need them. Also to get in practice in using alternative antennas. Full wave wire dipoles, Moxon beams, ground waves. DF Games are fun and there is a time and a place for security. People forget security. But its also important to be able to communicate.
November 8, 2018 at 11:15 pm #3711
I just received my Technician license a few weeks ago. Trying to listen locally with a BF HT. I hear you on the average age of HAM operators. I plan to start attending local club meetings in hopes of finding an Elmer that wants to pass their knowledge along!
November 9, 2018 at 9:18 pm #3845
@hansolar, congratulations on getting your license. There are many path to explore depending on your interests and location.
November 11, 2018 at 8:34 pm #4089
I am also a ham with an extra license. For anyone new to ham reading this- you don’t have to know morse code to get a license anymore like you used to. The first time I tried for a general license (I had a novice license at the time) someone was doing code for the coast guard, thirty words a minute, and you had to do 15 for general and I freaked out.
Han Solar, keep up the good work!
June 24, 2019 at 9:34 pm #20291
I was hoping to bump up this thread with a question. Someone out there on another blog, was advising people to grab up a few Baofeng UHF/VHF dual band radios, for means of post SHTF communication.
I saw someone say that operators will now need some sort of FCC license (a ham license?) to use these devices. Could someone quickly let me know what part of the radio requires a license? I don’t plan to get one, but I would like to put a radio or two into my homemade Faraday cage. But even if I kept one out, I want to make sure I’m not using any frequencies that would cause Uncle Sam to be mad at me.
I’m hoping someone can provide a “Radios for dummies” type answer, as I am utterly ignorant on the topic.
Also, does anyone know what the range is on these devices when in foothills and such?
June 24, 2019 at 11:09 pm #20300
If you are buying for after shft what difference Wil a license make? If you want to use it now you have to take a course for 2 days and get liscence and call sign which gives you up to so many watts of power. A good chance to find out is local ham radio club…
August 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm #21419
With regard to the FCC rule. I don’t have it in front of me so I won’t comment on the detail. However the intent is to prohibit type accepted radios from transmitting on frequencies outside of their type acceptance. Radios that can transmit outside of their type acceptance can not be imported.
The rule is not well written so there are many interpretations of the details.
As far as getting a ham license. There are more reasons that just the legalities. As a ham, when I see a new ham has passed his license exam it tells me that s/he is serious about the subject and is willing to play by the rules. I am willing to spend my time, energy and even $$ to help them along, just as others have helped me.
Radio is a very complex subject. As the saying goes,”you don’t know what you don’t know”. It is similar to a rifle in that you can pick it up, shoot it and if the target is close and stationary you can probably hit it. But there is a lot more to it if you want to be effective with it.
When you pass the exam, you are given access to many resources like repeaters. But there are many resources that are little known outside of the amateur community.
Take PSKReporter for example. Throughout the world, hams have special receivers tuned to specific frequencies listening for particular transmissions which are formatted with data. The receivers can interpret the transmission and post the information along with other data on the internet showing the locations of the transmitter and receivers that heard the transmission along with the received signal strength and other information.
So if I am testing an antenna, I can get real time feedback from station around the world. I can make a change and test it again.
here is a link https://pskreporter.info/pskmap.html
Could you “sneek into the system” and use it? Well I would advise against that as hams are quite possessive of our spectrum and constantly watch for intruders. And the fines are pretty stiff.
But it is more that we don’t want the spectrum screwed up. We do things in a certain way because of reasons that you do not understand. It is possible, by using poor performing equipment, to transmit on the second or even third harmonic of your transmitter frequency. You won’t even know that you are causing problems for someone else.
As a member of the ham community you will benefit from the guidance and assistance of others. If you just jump in and begin using the radio…..well..you don’t know what you don’t know.
August 8, 2019 at 4:03 pm #21422
Thank you for the insight and info Ron.
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