Prepping 101: Radio Communications – When TV, Radio & Internet Go Dark

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This is a Yaesu 1000 currently available on Ebay. Most people think you have to buy a multi-thousand dollar radio like this to be a real Amatuer Radio hobbiest, but you do not.

This is a Yaesu 1000 currently available on Ebay. Most people think you have to buy a multi-thousand dollar radio like this to be a real Amatuer Radio hobbiest, but you do not.


As you probably have surmised by now, this column is really about taking a global collapse seriously. Radio communication is one subject that I find taken for granted in most of the internet press and supermarket survival magazines, but if you don’t understand the basics of what radios can be used for what types of communications, and go out and actually buy them, you will truly leave yourself in the dark when all of the standard communications go down.

The serious preppers out there have this stuff down, and this is why it is taken for granted in the enthusiast pubs, but if you are starting from no knowledge at all, this is a brief overview of simple radios you can buy, then go learn how to use. There is a whole world of private communications evolving out there, unbeknownst to the general populace. Many of the radios I link to here in the article have hundreds of watchers on Ebay. Get into the communications game as quickly as you can, because like everything else here, ten years early is better than one day late. What disaster movie have you ever seen that didn’t hinge at some point on “getting the radio working.” To get it working, you have to know how to work it.

At the very least you should have a solar radio that gets TV, AM, FM and emergency channels. Links in the article will help you find one.

At the very least you should have a solar radio that gets TV, AM, FM and emergency channels. Links in the article will help you find one.


Just to back up a bit, because not everyone has the money required to go buy a real radio, at the very basic least you should have a solar powered and crank emergency radio. Good ones that really work well can be found on Amazon and Ebay for as little as $30. This will at least give you access to the local TV and radio stations, as well as emergency bands. Barring a total conflagration, something like a nuclear confrontation that may or may not be survivable anyway, systems in the US should come back online and communications will be an absolute priority for those who will restore them. If you are hunkered down eating your freeze dried food and playing dominoes, you’ll have plenty of time to monitor radio stations and TV hoping for good news.

Don’t believe those who say that the internet will never go down, because it was created for the military (by Al Gore of course lol) to survive a nuclear attack. To some degree that fact is true. Internet computers don’t need a central server to connect to each other. Each ISP keeps a copy of internet locations and can connect directly over the IP protocol to another computer. That works, however, only if the ISP servers have power, and the routers in between ISPs have power. At most, those stations have 60 days of backup power, and that is assuming that the people are there to start up the generators and make sure everything transitions smoothly. Murphys Law is always going to apply in what may be the perfect storm. Assume no internet, even if you have your own source of electricity.

For groups who need to communicate in a survival situation, I strongly suggest the 16 channel BaoFeng BF-888S. They go for $15-$25 each and they work great.  See the article for links.

For groups who need to communicate in a survival situation, I strongly suggest the 16 channel BaoFeng BF-888S. They go for $15-$25 each and they work great. See the article for links.


Likewise the cellphone network. Your phone is actually a radio, and a very good one. But cell phones are underpowered, and they are made to connect only to proprietary networks. The cell tower transmits your signal over land and satellite lines to other phones. As a radio, your phone is useless, and the cell towers and networks will of course go down.

Tactical Communications

If you are among those of us who feel that the police are militarizing themselves to round up the troublemakers once “expanded police powers” (ie. Martial Law) take effect, you have to assume that you may be fighting an organized force. In areas of the country where the police are actual patriots and would refuse to fire on Americans, you, and they, may have to contend with UN troops. As this 2010 Youtube video shows, looking down at at airstrip in Jacksonville, Florida, the paddy wagons that say UN on the side are in country and ready to go. Is it smart to fight these guys? No way! Hide! But if there is no choice, one thing that any infantry man or SWAT cop will tell you is that communications are key.

We will get to more advanced radios below, but the problem with good radios that can pick and choose frequencies is that they are expensive. If you have ten adults in your survival group, buying 1 radio for each could get into the thousands (though there is a $40 radio below). For that reason, I suggest a simple 16 channel radio radios I found called the BeoFang BS-888S. It transmits in the 400-470mhz range and I have found them to be very reliable, and strong enough for “around the neighborhood” contact, provided you don’t live in a neighborhood with concrete block houses. All radios don’t like cement. The nice thing about these radios is that they can be bought on Ebay for… drum roll please… as little as $15 each. These radios are 5 watts, and can be compared to Motorola radios costing 5 to 10 times as much.

All About Radios (not really)

Once you get beyond a simple channel radio, including standard CB radios, it becomes a rabbit hole. Once you go down it, there really is no bottom. This is the realm of “Amateur Radio” otherwise known as “Ham Radio.” Why it is called Ham nobody seems to know. Amateur Radio has a huge presence on the web, and you can get a lot of great information for free. But I strongly suggest that you start with the book I bought, Ham Radio for Dummies. The dummies moniker has become a marketing term at this point, and the book is extremely substantive. It explains the basics of Ham talk, and all of the ways that Hams communicate with each other these days.

This Wouxon KG-UVD1P is the next step up, and goes for about $100 or less. It is a full featured UHF/VHF radio and requires a Technician license to operate.

This Wouxon KG-UVD1P is the next step up, and goes for about $100 or less. It is a full featured UHF/VHF radio and requires a Technician license to operate.


Amateur Radio covers a span of several frequency blocks in the overall spectrum. You can download a chart of the spectrum at the NTIA website in PDF. The green blocks are Amateur. Frequency blocks are in great demand for a huge array of services, and the Amateur Radio community has had to lobby and fight to keep these blocks over the last decade as wireless communications have exploded. They do that by offering free emergency services help to FEMA and other Federal and state agencies. During the major hurricanes of 2005, Katrina and Wilma, the Hams were the first to be able to get emergency services into the correct locations. Hams take great pride in being part of the government emergency management system, and that has plusses and minuses.

To License or NOT to License

A real Ham station is a powerful communications tool, and therefore it is strictly controlled. You may not “broadcast” on Amateur Radio, even with a license, and there are licensing requirements as to which frequencies you are allowed to communicate on and what methods of communication you may use. It is apparently OK to listen without a license. The licensed Hams who clicked into this article are not going to like that this topic is even covered in this manner, because by and large they are proud to be rule followers by nature. The world of Amateur Radio is controlled by a volunteer organization called the American Radio Relay League, or ARRL. Without them there would be no Amateur frequencies these days. They are the principle lobby group, and by following the rules and getting in good with the government they have retained the ability of civilians to use powerful international radios on set frequency blocks.

There are three tests, and three license grades. The tests are administered by ARRL volunteers. The first test, called the Technician, allows you to use only VHF and UHF frequencies, except for being able to speak and use Morse Code on the 30mhz band, but nothing below that. The next test up, General, allows you to move to the below 30mhz band, the HF bands. Those are the frequencies that you can bounce off the ionosphere and talk to people in Japan. The next license after that allows you to use the more advanced communication tools, including satellite repeaters. Licensing information and a class locator can be found on the ARRL website.

See links in the article for a radio supplier from Greece who sells unlocked frequencies on Ebay. If you want to buy a full featured radio and you plan to get licensed so you can use it, this is easier than buying a radio then having to have the channels unlocked.

See links in the article for a radio supplier from Greece who sells unlocked frequencies on Ebay. If you want to buy a full featured radio and you plan to get licensed so you can use it, this is easier than buying a radio then having to have the channels unlocked.

The problem with licensing is that the tests have gotten way out of hand. If you are only interested in Amateur Radio for survival purposes and don’t have a ton of time to spend learning obscure radio jargon and technology that you will never use, it puts the licenses out of reach. In today’s day and age there is no need to be able to take apart and solder back together your radio, or to even know the definitions of electrical components. Likewise, complex antenna theory is not something you really need to know when you can just ask the guy who sells antennas to give you the one you need, and the filters and components to go along with it. The Hams have really just put a huge bar to entry so that their radios don’t have a lot of people jabbering on them. Sadly, most Hams are just old men with nothing else to do. There are young people involved that have been tutored by their parents and grandparents, but they didn’t have to wait to use the radio until they learned all the stuff! It is my opinion that the Hams have shot themselves in the foot by making the fun stuff hard to reach. The hobby has been shrinking for decades and even though there has been a resurgence because of the preppers, few of them will turn into true enthusiasts should the world not actually melt down.

By far the biggest question as to license or not license is if you are of draft age. A war is coming. Even the deepest sleeping sheeple among us see that by now, and when that war comes there may be a draft. Radio men are going to be in big demand, and if you are licensed by the FCC, you will get a knock at your door first. If there is a complete collapse, FEMA may show up at your door to commandeer your equipment. A radio station is a valuable asset, and your name will be on the government list of where they can find one that works and that has someone who knows how to use it.

I personally am going to get licensed, because I’m a nerd and they are coming for me anyway when the SHTF. I found a really cool book on Amazon called simply the Complete Study Guide, but it is a trick book. The tests, you see, are taken from a pool of questions that are made available to the public. His book only shows you the correct answers, so you can sight study them and recognize the correct answers on the tests. The pool of questions changes every couple years for each of the three tests, so make sure if you read this article in the future that you have the right book.

Buying Your First Radio

This is one of those questions where “what’s your budget” has to be the first question. Real Ham radios can be had for as little as $40. The BoeFang UV-5R works great and has all the features you need to get started with a Technician license. It has two send/receive frequencies, so you can use public “repeaters” to get a signal much stronger and further than you could normally get with your radio alone. A small 5 watt radio like the UV-5R can reach out to satellites, but you need to use an external antenna, which I’ll get to.

One step up from that is the Wouxon KG-UVD1P. It has certain features that, once you get acquainted with how repeaters work, you’ll probably want. You can usually find them in the $100 or under range, and they likewise cover the UHF and VHF bands. There are other small radios out there, and as this article ages new ones will emerge, so do some research before you buy. At this level of radio you can’t do much better than these two, but remember, they rely on repeaters to span distances longer than line of sight. Those repeaters will go down.

If you plan to go the full licensing route, but you don’t know when you will do it, I strongly suggest that you buy a radio sooner rather than later that can reach the 10-30mhz range. These are the where the long range Hams reside, and it is where, in a survival situation, you will be able to hear news from across the country and across the globe. The problem is, if you buy a radio from a US seller they will block the frequencies that you are not licensed to use. I found a seller on Ebay that has great feedback and sells unblocked radios direct from Greece. These radios will also allow you to listen to police and fire channels that are blocked on the US radios as well. You can still only speak on the amateur bands, but absolutely do not do so unless you are properly licensed.

Not one word. Because though you may not know it, you are surrounded by Hams. Some very famous people are Hams, and Hams in general are a government boot licking lot. If you speak without giving a proper call sign, one that can be verified online, your local Hams will easily triangulate you and report you to the FCC. Don’t try to fake it. They know their game and they will rat you out. Unless you are licensed, absolutely do not say a word on the air. In a disaster, don’t think this rule doesn’t apply. The Hams cherish their ability to help FEMA and other government agencies, and they don’t want you on their repeaters and frequencies when they can use them in service of Big Brother. In a complete collapse, for a “is anybody out there”type of scenario, your radio will be there for you, and you’ll be able to listen to the chatter from whatever your antenna can pick up.

If you decide to go with a base station and really build a radio station, radios are available on Ebay every day, and at severely discounted prices. Just remember, if it is too good to be true, it isn’t true. Plan to pay $400-$5,000 depending on the unit, the condition, the guarantee that comes with it, and many other factors. The absolute best website to check what each model does is available on EHam.net. I bought a perfectly new working base station on Ebay for $2,000 that new is over $5,000. More importantly, I was able to check on dozens of Ebay radios to see what each did better than the others. When you buy a used radio it is generally from an experienced Ham, and unlocked.

More important than the power of your radio is your antenna, and how high up you can get your antenna. Radio waves are ultimately a slave to physics, and high, good antennas work better.  There are also cabling issues and filters and boosters and rotators and a lot of other things that you just have to learn about. I strongly suggest DX Engineering for your antenna needs. If you Google Ham antenna they come up as the first paid ad.

More important than the power of your radio is your antenna, and how high up you can get your antenna. Radio waves are ultimately a slave to physics, and high, good antennas work better. There are also cabling issues and filters and boosters and rotators and a lot of other things that you just have to learn about.

Antennas

By far, the biggest bang for your buck with radio is how much you put into your antenna. If you decide to buy a hand held, by all means consider upgrading to a better antenna for it. If you buy a mobile, make sure you put a high up antenna at your bugout location, in addition to your travel antenna. The higher your antenna the better, which is why many Hams have backyard towers that actually require zoning approval.

Radio waves can only travel line of sight, except in the 10-30mhz bands that can be bounced off the ionosphere at certain times of day. Radio waves do not bend, and the earth is round, so eventually all radio waves bottom out on the curvature of the earth. If you do the math, that means that a 6 foot tall person at ground level talking to another 6 foot person at ground level can talk about about 7 miles, provided the radios have enough power and nothing is in the way. So when you see radios that say they reach out to 20 miles and more, it is complete baloney. We are all slaves to the physics of radio waves, and that means that your antenna has to be up high, and it has to be tuned to the frequency you are trying to reach.

That subject is yet another rabbit hole that I won’t go far into. I will instead direct you to what seems to be the leader in antenna engineering and sales, DX Engineering. An antenna has to be the correct length for the signal that you are trying to pick up and transmit. That size is usually a percentage of the size of the wave. So when you see hear a Ham say they are on the “2 meter band” (150mhz), that means how big is the wave for that frequency. The antenna for that frequency will be a fraction of that, either 1/2 or 1/4, or 2 meters itself. DX Engineering has several rudimentary antennas in the $200 range that cover several bands on one antenna. You can also see these on public cellphone towers that have been licensed by independent parties. They work fine, but they aren’t for reaching out to far away places, or “DX’ing” as they say in the radio game. For that you need to spend more, and you should read up and speak to the retailer as well.

If you are going to just get a Technician license for UHF/VHF, at least get the $30 dual band antenna that I have linked in the article. This is a huge score for the money and boosts your signal a great deal.

If you are going to just get a Technician license for UHF/VHF, at least get the $30 dual band antenna that I have linked in the article. This is a huge score for the money and boosts your signal a great deal.


For handhelds, I found a great cheap antenna on Ebay that you can mount on your roof and that will more than triple your ability to reach out. You buy 5′ of PVC from Home Depot and encase the antenna yourself using the 3/4″ PVC caps they send you. It’s only $30, and make sure you order the Ham version not the commercial version. I have not been able to compare this antenna head to head with the DX antennas, but it was published in the ARRL magazine as a new and successful antenna idea.
Just be aware, when it comes to a survival setup and a radio antenna, public knowledge that you have a long distance radio may become an issue. The government may try to snag it. Your neighbors may want to try to contact places where their distant families reside. All kinds of unwanted interaction with other humans could occur because someone sees your antenna. I don’t have an easy answer for this and am trying to figure something out myself, so please leave suggestions in the comments if you have addressed this issue yourself already.

Power

Ham radios are a lot like guitar amps. A one watt guitar amp is really loud through a 4×12 cabinet, and a 5 watt handheld Ham works really good with a high mounted antenna. I personally did buy a 100 watt base station, but only because I hope to do Ham as a cool old guy hobby (my grandfather was a Ham). If you intend to build a genuine, worldwide, “is anybody out there” station, you are going to need to learn a lot of material, and hopefully get some help from an existing Ham. There are a ton of resources online, but you will save yourself a lot of research time with that Dummies book, and the reviews of radios at EHam. Just remember that everyone starts from zero, and you will learn and relearn and eventually get to where you want to be.

There are big and small radios that can reach out to the UHF/VHF bands, as well the hardcore Ham bands in the 10-30mhz HF frequencies. Note that you need the second license in order to use these bands. There is a significant learning curve to use a full featured radio and it'll help to get an experienced Ham to help you.

There are big and small radios that can reach out to the UHF/VHF bands, as well the hardcore Ham bands in the 10-30mhz HF frequencies. Note that you need the second license in order to use these bands. There is a significant learning curve to use a full featured radio and it’ll help to get an experienced Ham to help you.


Even if the world doesn’t end, Amateur Radio is a lot of fun, and they could use some younger people in there who weren’t raised to be government boot lickers. Just beware that for now, when you are interacting with Hams that could help you a great deal, don’t overdue it with the “conspiracy” stuff or try to explain to them that things are not going as well as they hear on Fox News. Just take what you can and leave the rest. Radio is hard stuff, and a lot of it, sidebands and whatnot, is really confusing. An hour with an expert will be worth dozens of hours online. And have fun. Fun is good while we can still have it.

{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Doc October 27, 2014, 9:56 am

    The author comes across with a belligerent and obnoxious attitude towards HAM’s operators, not too sure why. So I’ve read his complaints so let me counter them in a logical manner.
    In order to operate you need a license. Of course, the same way you need a license to drive a vehicle or attain
    your CHL, otherwise you get a bunch of retards on the road, on the airwaves and a Jesse James wannabe’s with side arms.

    They took out CW (Morse) eventually which is a good thing, ok I agree with that, helps get more folks into HAM, but the rest of your scribe about CW shows your ignorance,
    Ok let me explain about CW, if you want to communicate without anyone intercepting your comms CW is the way to go, CW folks are few so most folks listening won’t have a clue as to what you message is saying, not only that CW will get through when Voice or Digital won’t because of noise or atmospherics, in addition what the author doesn’t realize is that you can buy equipment that you type your message and when its sent it goes as high speed CW, when received it is converted back into a typed message, think about that, type your traffic, send it in less time than it takes to spit, less time on the air for the big bad Gov to DF you and come and take your equipment.
    I’m sorted pissed at the author/admin, I’m former Mil, HAM, Paramedic, Diver, Prepper and you just managed through your arrogance to piss off a lot of good folks who are HAM operators, what the hell happened to you to have such a narrow minded attitude.
    What you don’t realize yet is that HAM’s help other people during disasters, certain frequencies are kept for emergencies and rightly so, do you want a bunch of yahoo’s jamming the airwaves when EMS personnel are trying to save lives, what you also fail to mention is that CB does not require a licence nor do you need a license for FRS/MURS read this info on this link http://www.captainswoop.com/radio/uhf.html
    HF is one of the most crowded section of the airwaves, literally millions of folks use it world wide so do we want it jammed up with folks who don’t know what the hell they are doing… I”l give you a comparison, do you want millions of unlicensed and untrained folks driving big rigs willey nilley on our highways, no of course not.
    Finally the author has come out with a list of complaints regarding HAM, my question to him is what is his solution, none was noted in his peiece

    • Administrator October 27, 2014, 10:15 am

      There is no suggestion that licenses shouldn’t be required. The discussion of whether to license or not personally is fairly thorough. The complaint is that in order to operate your radio you are required to learn things that have nothing to do with your behavior on the radio, like antenna theory and electronics.

      Pissing people off is no problem if there is a reason. In general, there is an entire class of people in America who are asleep to the abuses of government, and we have long exceeded the tipping point where any thinking person would refuse to be a government bootlicker. There is a comment above that fully demonstrates that HAMs are for the most part blind followers of government instructions who will rat out violators even if it goes contrary to common sense.

      If you are a prepper, our government has already labeled you a potential and probable terrorist. You might want to consider changing your perspective.

      • Doc October 27, 2014, 2:58 pm

        So according to some people there has been snitching on foreign HAMs operating out of foreign countries that are reporting on the atrocities there… well I would love to see the link or some actual proof of that and if they are being snitiched on I can probably bet it is sympathizers with one side or the other…
        Antenna theory is like learning how your car functions, i.e. steering, acceleration, braking etcetera,, believe it or not, its pretty easy once you grasp how, its important in that you can actually make your own antenna’s out of copper wire and other material, and knowing what type of antenna (Dipole, Vertical, Slopping V etcetera) and what length to ‘cut’ it to, knowing these makes the antenna more tuned to your freq therefore you can use less power which means your battery lasts longer and makes you less susceptible to DFing (Direction Finding) by the Gov.
        Electronics is handy because understanding what the components do and how the work together means that you can actually learn how to repair your own equipment, something that I think would be necessary in a grid down situation unless you have lots of spare radio’s.
        As for my perspective, well no I don’t trust any Gov, be it right or left, they have and always will be for themselves and their corporate/union/GLTB/Theocratic buddies…
        As for the sheeple, WTF, there has and always will be sheeple, its the nature of humans, and everyone so often there is always a big Die off, due to war, genocide, famine or disease, if anything catastrophic were to happen in the next year or two do you honestly think these morons have the intelligence to organize a big round up, Hell these sons of bitches would be high tailing it somewhere safe until it was all over… you give them way too much credit, it will be every man for himself so keep your powder dry,
        Doc Out:

  • Chris Baker September 29, 2014, 1:41 pm

    Nice Article but lots of stuff that is just plain wrong. The tests are EASIER than they’ve ever been. The requirement for learning code is GONE! That makes it hugely easier. I tried to learn code decades ago and was simply never any good at it. As for not wanting to work with the technical side of Ham, If you can’t fix it when it breaks or even know if it’s repairable or not, what good are you to a survivor group? It never hurts to know how things work and many times knowing will allow you to get away with shortcuts should that time arrive that you really NEED to. There are online courses and places you can take sample tests with exactly the same questions as are used on the official tests, for free. I took a class which is one night a week for a couple of hours and 8 weeks. That with taking a bunch of sample tests, I managed to pass my Tech and General in the same test session. It’s not hard. It’s certainly not rocket science. Our class had a 13 year old pass his Tech test the first time around. THIRTEEN YEAR OLD… If you can’t at least equal his achievement what are you doing trying to survive? I have a Yaesu FT-60, 2 meter and 70CM bands, which has a 5 watt out put and I can hit repeaters up to 25+ miles away. Not exactly line of sight and that’s with the original antenna and from inside my house which has metal window blinds. (Metal blocks radio waves for the most part.) While it is true that longer wavelengths have much better over the horizon functionality most of the local traffic is on the VHF/UHF bands. We usually use the Randsburg repeater, on Government Peak, run by SARC.

    You can find the practice tests that I used here: http://aa9pw.com/
    They draw from the same pool of questions used by the official ARRL tests in a semi random manner from the (if I remember right) 304 questions. Check the web site for number of questions you actually see during a test and the number you must get correct to pass. Heh, it’s easy.

    73
    KK6LOP
    California City, 145.340 -600 offset (-100) Randsburg repeater
    local 147.480 simplex

  • Dennis September 25, 2014, 10:44 pm

    Whatever happened to a little civility in public discourse? Why would I want to subscribe to a site/blog that denigrates legitimate comments, accuses entire group of unknown people of being “boot lickers” because of the age of the members of the group or length of time as a ham radio operator.? Bigotry comes to mind and you are not worthy of having a forum for your biased views.

  • Kevin Heyboer September 11, 2014, 12:29 am

    I am afraid I must take exception to some comments made in this article. First and foremost, I am not a government bootlicking old man. I have been a ham radio operator for over 20 years and I use that equipment, with absolutely no financial reward, to provide emergency communications in times of disaster. If you want to have radio equipment, be it tactical or strategic, please get the license and learn the material. The material teaches you things like how to fix your radio when it breaks and how to build an antenna from wire and pipe. If you choose not to get a license, there is a “backdoor” in Part 97 of the FCC rules and regulations that says you can operate any radio on any frequency in any situation involving imminent death or serious bodily injury without punitive action taken against you. And, if you don’t want to be on the ham bands, then create your own corporation and get a commercial radio frequency…even set up your own repeater. We have two private repeaters that I know of here near Murphy, NC…both are legally licensed to corporations. The repeater trustee gets to pick and choose who is allowed on the frequency. Not only is this perfectly legal, but private corporate repeaters can also be legally encrypted, unlike ham radio transmissions.
    From the county in NC with 67% of its permanent residents holding concealed weapons permits and 99% owning guns, this is KD4UYR signing clear.

  • Clint September 5, 2014, 2:25 pm

    Tests for Amateur Radio licenses out of hand? Hardly, a seven year old can pass the highest class license just by studying the question pool. Many years ago you actually had to know a little something about radio, and the practice guides gave questions similar to what you would expect on the real test. Now the question pool contains all the questions asked, with the multiple choice answers exactly as they appear on the tests. Which is why amateur radio has escalated into a higher whackado circus than it once was. The ‘Freebanders’ between the CB band and the 10 meter ham band pretty much run anyway they want without much FCC involvement as long as they don’t screw up public service comm, like police and fire, or get into your neighbors TV, which does not happen much now with HDTV, well , it does, but people are basically too stupid to understand their pixelating picture is caused by interference.

    From a 50 year in the game ham op.

  • Jerry September 1, 2014, 11:56 pm

    When Syria and Egypt were kicking off, there were hams in both countries trying to get news out about atrocities mass killings, mass arrests, etc.

    Ham forums were alight. But mostly with hams that were adamant that NO ONE should listen to foreign hams trying to get someone, anyone to send help, because – get this – it would be violating Syrian and Egyptian law that said reporting on atrocities was illegal! Some hams even were even contacting the Syrian government with call signs they had heard coming from inside Syria to help the government find dissenters!!!

    I have zero doubt that if the US government labels an obviously innocent amateur radio operator a “terrorist”, hams will jump for joy and help to track them down so they can be disappeared.

    • Administrator September 2, 2014, 7:28 am

      +1 Jerry. Thankyou for a detailed anecdote of exactly the point.

  • Russ September 1, 2014, 9:49 pm

    I gleamed much information from all the above.
    My conclusion is to remain radio silent.

  • Thomas D. Turner K4EQH September 1, 2014, 9:10 pm

    So far from what I have read on your web site…………you are so full of shit that the average person might believe you…….
    There are so many things that you have not hit on…….that it is almost impossible to even say your article belongs on the internet.
    The amateur community has done so much for the average family that it is almost impossible to describe here…..During war time
    it was the amateur community that offered (FREE) communications between active duty persons and their family in foreign lands.
    Amateur operators help out in community service during storms, tornados, hurricanes, and all such storms….FREE….
    We have invested THOUSANDS of dollars in our radio, tower, antennas, and have gained the profeciencey to operate the different emergency nets necessary to offer communications when there were NONE. To try and by-pass the instruction,
    licences, education, operating perfectness, and knowledge that the operators of Amateur Radio operators go through is plain
    “OLE STUPID” ……. You need to stay away from the Amateur frequencies if you dont know how to use them…operate on them and do it efficently………….because you will end up nothing but a speed bump……………..

    NOW………..if you want to offer your services to the Amateur Services…………Contact your local Amateur radio club. There will be persons that will steer you into how to get your license, how to study, and learn what your doing. When you get your license, you will be able to offer intelligent input to the communications problems that arrise in your area. You will be able to communicate with persons that also realize that you have the knowledge and necessary education to do it right……..

    Not to take “fire” away from the above publisher…………….but in MY OPINION he has a lot to learn…………….Tom Turner
    K4EQH, WATERLOO, ALABAM………been a “Ham” since 1957 and PROUD……………………….tt

    • Administrator September 1, 2014, 9:21 pm

      Soooo, make that angry old guys with nothing better to do. This is the generation that took it all for granted, drank the coolaid, and let us get into this mess that we are in right now. If your generation had investigated the Golf of Tonkin, Vietnam wouldn’t have happened and our dollar would never have been unpegged from gold and silver. Sure they throw you crumbs and make you feel useful, but in return you have believed everything the bankers told them to say and licked their boots with a big sloppy thankyou.

      • Thomas D. Turner K4EQH September 1, 2014, 9:30 pm

        Well, let me put it this way……….AND….this will be my last comment on this site………………
        You may be part of the problem………..and DONT mess with OLD PEOPLE………..because
        we have already been there…….and what we believe DOES matter………………………….Tom Turner K4EQH

        • Administrator September 1, 2014, 9:40 pm

          Yes, what you believe does matter, but you think that just because you have lived many years that you have gained much knowledge. There is an old saying. It is easier to fool people than to convince they that they have been fooled. You have been fooled. Most of what you “know” is false, and you are dragging down the chance of this country to dig out of the mess that you allowed to happen.

          • Chris Baker September 29, 2014, 1:58 pm

            Mr. Administrator, you sound exactly like the 13 year old who was in our class. He was extremely opinionated and would not listen when anyone tried to tell him that they thought he was mistaken about many of the things he pontificated on. Us old guys have the advantage in that most of us have learned a thing or two about how the world works.

            I have a question for you. How exactly do you think we could have investigated the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident? There was no internet. There was no 24 hour news services. ALL of us had either Roof top type antennas (which by the way were quite nice yagies) to pick up TV. The first Cable tv channels were years in the future with the “GofT happened. We had channel 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 and that was it. 3 major networks and a few local channels. We had no other sources for news. Most of us were raised by parents who had been through the depression and also WW2 and everyone was so glad for the prosperity that bloomed after WW2 that they simply spoiled a lot of kids. Those would be the ones that (I suspect) are your generation’s parents. Perhaps you should consider listening a bit and maybe considering that a few of the things we say.

            As the saying goes – “Been there done that.

          • Sky December 31, 2014, 12:57 pm

            YOU ARE SO FULL OF SHIT!!!

        • Michael E. Hensley September 2, 2014, 4:12 am

          Tom
          I guess at 62 I am considered an ” Old Guy ” but as with everything in life I still learn everyday and hopefully will continue to until I as the Religious faction in this part of the Country say ” I Cross The River ”
          The Already Been there does not matter, It is the ability to adapt to sudden change and the willingness to try new things.
          So Just Calm Down, Before the ” Big One Hits You “

      • Michael E. Hensley September 2, 2014, 3:56 am

        Admin:
        You my Friend just ” Hit the Primer in the Center ”
        One things the ” Old Hams ” have is that when they started it was not easy to do and to that they have to be commended.
        BUT! Listen to 20-40-80-160 any day and Politics are the norm with 2000 watt stations overriding each other , Because they can coupled with the reactions of these Old Hams when confronted by anything that goes against their beliefs, Answer turn up the power or swing the beams. It is true of some people that Childlike attitudes do began at 65+
        But all is not lost when the ” Zombie Apocalypse ” happens these 2000 watt stations will be unable to feed thy hungry selves and all will revert ( as I use now )100 watt standard or less, couple this with a good long wire antenna and the communicating will be good, after all most comms are going to be close range as in a situation what is 200 miles away or in most cases 20 miles will not matter, It will be the Local happenings ( ever wondered what many years ago cousins would marry? Answer, Horses could only travel so far ) same situation here.
        Comm Links ( light power supply )/ Weapons/ Plenty of ammo / Water supply ( most critical ) stored food and the ability to grow food are the keys to survival.
        I do feel for city dwellers .

  • Brad Bishop September 1, 2014, 5:51 pm

    Many years ago I was into CB radios before they were “cool” and they too were licensed by the FCC. Always wanted to step up into HAM but way too many things intervened in the past 40 + years. Now I find myself down in S. America with time on my hands and access to Ebay. Before I start plunking down cash for hardware, anyone know of any international or S. American based HAM groups that can educate me on local laws and requirements?

  • Mike September 1, 2014, 4:55 pm

    your article really reflects your lack of knowledge.

    1st, radios are worthless without electricity. Just as important as havng a good radio is havng a good back up power supply.

    2nd, real equipment lasts, a 15 dollar radio is exactly that. If you ever think you’ll be using a radio in a life and death situation, then spend the extra cash for real equipment and not the $15 “BoJunk” radios.

  • Doc September 1, 2014, 4:11 pm

    You did kinda kick ass on Ham’s in general. When I was 12 (licensed Novice) I had my entire station taken away by the FCC when turned in by other local Ham’s.

    I’d gotten a 100 watt Xtr from my far older cousin when he upgraded and wanted me to join him in the ‘Dx world’, but I was limited to 5 watts. And I was basically limited to CW for my first year or what ever it was back then if I wanted any kind of Dx range. So I went to AM. At 250 watts. On bands where I was not allowed. Busted.

    They (the FCC thugs – and yes THEY were thugs) were “nice” and didn’t fine me (really my mother at that age). But that was about $1, 900 of equipment in 1960’s dollars. So of all people I’d be the first one to call other ARRL members or Ham’s “boot licking lackeys”. Now that I’m older, I understand why they did what they did.

    Even back then the airwaves were filled with all kinds of ‘overtalking’ (VERY crowded frequencies, and Novice abundantly so) and rules of being ‘polite’ were enforced verbally, and by knocks on doors by members, and letters in the mail from as far away as half way around the world. The only ‘impolite’ thing I did was key about 10 times faster than I could receive. Nothing to get busted for, it was throwing 250 watts where I wasn’t yet allowed that got me busted. At the time I was pretty sour. But I do think you kind of overdid your generalization of Hams – they can be ‘straight’ and ‘strict’ (to the level of being real pain-in-the-ass pricks), but 99% mean well, and you’d be very surprised to know how many do keep their GOOD kits ready and FRESH because they know FAR more than most people ever know. It’s good that you are going to get licensed because that will give you practice, you’ll meet some pretty amazing people, and learn WHY radios are at the top of the ‘order of fire’ list. The fact that you have a license does not restrict you to having only ONE station – let them find your “throw-down” station. And you’ll find amazing equipment deals (and suppliers) among other Hams.

    The first people on the scene of nearly ANY problem/disaster/emergency are Ham’s. And back when land-lines were really land-lines, would patch calls through, and be the first on-scene ‘command/coordinating centers’ – doing a world of good for their community with no pay and sleepless nights followed by sleepless days — on their own dollars. So, even though I was a victim of the jack-booted-rule-following-no-exception-thug kind at a very early age — I think you over-generalized in your characterization. And yes, some ARE ‘out to get you’ – really.

    I wondered how you were going to approach ‘radio-communications’ – and you did OK. As you found out, it’s not quite an ‘easy’ subject to write about – and you did, if people caught it, weigh in a bit more heavy on the side of antennas, since they are often far more important than your equipment. But for ‘prepers’ I’d have leaned far more on needing to learn Morse Code as a Second Language. You can reach around the world with very low wattage (low battery drain) with little more than a piece of wire for an antenna, and two hand-held wires for a ‘key’ (and I had an AMAZING key that was called a ‘side-winder’ – it keyed back-and-forth not up and down, so you could ‘double’ your speed one you got the hang of it. At 12 years old and with poor spelling I could ‘talk’ with someone in the middle any continent. But even the Coast Guard, the last folks to give it up, dropped the requirement for Morse 5 or 10 years ago, will tell you that the simplicity of ‘open-closed’ circuits is hard to beat for absolute reliability and simplicity of design/repair. But if it’s not a standard any more, knowing it will only help you if someone else knows it. And, so, you are pretty much left to voice only.

    Just like a horse will beat a car in any long-term ‘bug out’ situation, if you aren’t practiced in horse care and management (even if you don’t own a horse) you are screwed if all you have is book knowledge. I can know all there is to know about a horse and it’s care, but if I’ve never put a saddle on a horse, let alone trim hoofs — I’m pretty much screwed. The same is true of radio communications – if I haven’t practiced, and done some hands-on work I can have $20, 000 worth of equipment that literally cannot be heard next door.

    Example, I got my old Land Rover stuck in one of those underground springs that litter the middle of Northern Nevada, and had left my land-anchor in my pick-up. I could see the lights of a town on the horizon — 5 watts on my CB didn’t raise anyone on channel 9 (it well should have). I hooked up my 1, 000 watt ‘kicker’ AMP and raised Colorado Springs on the FAR side of the Rocky Mountains, and someone in Wheeling, OHIO— but not a soul from the lights on the horizon. WTF?

    Only when I got out of my vehicle to ponder my dwindling battery power and gas reserves, and weighing those against $50 for a tow from flagging down one of the 4 trucks a day that used a road about 10 miles way did I understand why 1, 000 watts didn’t reach 20 miles. If I didn’t know about radios and ground planes I’d probably still be digging a hole to anchor a winch cable so stable the sand and abundant were the rocks.

    It’s simple, basic. Pre-Novice level electrical theory and practice coupled with hands-on experience that allowed my mind to ponder my trusty Land Rover, the lights of the town, and how I could miss them with 1, 000 watts at 20 miles. In firearms lingo it’s how I could put 10 .45 ACP’s into a bad guy around pretty much the center-of-mass and have him still coming at me (or how, in all honesty I DID put TWO 15 round mags of 9 mm hollow points into an ostrich that was free, pissed off, attacking people, and menacing vehicles on a downhill blind turn on a well used road, and it never seemed to phase him one bit – he just looked at me with a questioning look in his eyes, if such a thing is possible.) — you are right, if you don’t get the CNS, the target is not going down. (the bobbing and weaving head of a pissed off ostrich is not really good target and who really knows where the heart or ‘arch’ is, the lungs sure didn’t seem to have a lot of effect on his behavior). So if you don’t know the basics, you are pretty much screwed, even with a 1, 000 watt transmitter only 20 miles from the town you want to reach. ( Hint: After that incident, I added a third full 1/4 wave antenna to my vehicle, with a home-made ‘antenna selector’ switch, and started to carry two full-wave antennas inside bent gently bending round the roof line so as to not ‘crook’ them to sub-out if I needed – I already had an antenna tuner hooked into the vehicles system as part of my radio gear).

    Everyone who understands radios knows what the problem was. And how kinda easy it was to fix. The next morning I had a rancher stop by and pull me out for free while I got a good nights sleep, not having to worry about a walk in the middle of July across the Nevada Desert. All done on 5 watts with a single antenna.

  • Dennis September 1, 2014, 4:10 pm

    Enjoyed reading the article and find it to be 99% on spot as far as I can know. Have alays wanted to take up HAM radio as a hobby. Have several friends that are licensed. Would probably buy a radio and learn to receive first,

    If you are going to use any electronic device for communication there is always a way to find and track that device. So HAM, while it is good for communication, if you use it for communication licensed or unlicensed is easy for Government to find if they want to. If you are concerned about that point there is no benefit in HAM radio. If we have a national emergency that shuts down the Government, power grid, …….. HAM has a place.

    In all disasters you are the first responder. You should be as dependent on God, immediate family and self as possible. God because no one knows everything but him. Family because no one that lives on this earth should care more about you than them. And self because no one will know your situation and how to respond better than you.

    Dan: would suggest anyone take up Christianity before the Rapture which could happen today. That is the only way out of that emergency. Then when it does happen you won’t need your garden or your radio if you are a person that is depending on Christ sacrifice on the cross.

  • KA2 QLJ September 1, 2014, 1:10 pm

    I am a self taught ham. The ARRL used to publish a book and cassette tape that taught morse code. I did all that in self study, and attained 15WPM code speed. Since then, the code requirement was dropped. So, what is your problem? Theory is a must. In your SHTF scenario, there will be no stores or mail order to provide you with the right antenna. So, how are you going to get your station up and running? If you had to ‘bug’ out, would you pack those ‘boat anchors’ along with all your other essentials? Or, with a small book on antenna design, would you know how to build a di-pole antenna with common copper wire? And know how much wire for your chosen band? What is the best band to use at night, during the day, in Winter and Summer? This is basic stuff any NOVICE can tell you. The design of circuits and filters is advanced stuff, but the basics are all you need and you seem to discount the basic elements in your simplified world view. Likewise, how would you set up and interact with a new Government and Democracy at the county level? Set up a small farm or business? Simply digging a hole in the ground and letting the world pass you by does not require a radio. You are probably better off not giving away your position jabbering about nothing.

  • Leon Gall September 1, 2014, 11:37 am

    Though the general tone of your article leads me to believe you ment no insult;
    I take exception to being called a “Boot Licker”. I have served my country with honor in the USAF and US Army for twenty years, been A Ham and Militia for over twenty years.
    I would like to point out that Receiving on Radio Bands requires no licensing.
    Yours in Liberty,
    Leon C. Gall, KE4TLT
    Oath Keeper

    • Administrator September 1, 2014, 2:31 pm

      Well if you are actually an oathkeeper then you already know that there are plenty of people who aren’t, and that leading the charge is FEMA, who the ARRL is in bed with and who Hams are proud to assist. Rather than criticize, maybe stand up in your community and let them know that the boot licking has gotten us to this point, and that is time to stand up and demand that our leaders follow the Constitution they are sworn to defend. I corrected the listening line, but I know that I read somewhere that you aren’t allowed to even listen at below 30mhz without a license. It may have been in the Dummies book.

      • Michael E. Hensley September 1, 2014, 2:53 pm

        I agree with ARRL being in bed with FEMA, They would in an Emergency make good companions. I am not an ARRL member, Do not trust on my part although they have done worlds to keep Ham Radio alive.
        You can listen to all sorts of good stuff from 160-10 meters, Ships at Sea, All airlines use HF when over the ocean due to lack of VHF coverage. Military signals abound for all branches. Remember Desert Storm all those tall Antennas on the Jeeps.
        Another thing is that with VHF-UHF to get respectable distances, unless you live on a mountain top Repeaters are the norm and in a power down situation the power systems for repeaters will soon run dry.
        all around coverage is probably 20-80 meters 20 daytime and 80 night.
        I know that in 1971 I swore to defend the Constitution from Enemies both Foreign and Domestic and as I remember I Never Rescinded that Oath.
        W4MEH

        • Don September 1, 2014, 7:27 pm

          I find it too bad to claim FEMA is so dangerous. I have my county disaster plan. I worked on others in a past career. FEMA simply is not as evil as people think.
          Knowing FEMA has identified locations where shelters will be placed is not a bad idea.
          Knowing how to treat and locate the dead is not a bad idea.
          Knowing where to send supplies of food and medicine is a wise thing to have pre-planned.
          I hear people fearful of having the US Postal Service becoming a central location for recording people and where to sign up those facing the disaster, simply makes sense. The post offices are well established and organized to keep track of people. Fearing using them in a crisis is unwarranted.
          From personal experience I know that no “death camps” and “concentration camps” having evil intent just do not exist.
          To not pre-plan for disasters is foolish.
          When we see reports of military vehicles moving by train, we get hit with “some things up”. Many people think “they are coming for us”, not even thinking we have moved military hardware by train for a long time. Going to a base, going to shipping centers prior to going overseas, moving to training in California and Nevada firing ranges, is nothing to worry about.
          Our side, the prepper people, have too many weird and crazy people screaming about non-issues. It is no wonder that those not inside the movement thinks we are nut cases and paranoid fools.
          If I show a person the REAL county disaster plan, and how it coordinates with state government and FEMA, they are struck in the face with common sense and good thinking on the part of our local, state and federal governments. People don’t know how well pre-planning has gone. I grew up in the 50-60s where the chance of nuclear war was very possible. Yet no one thinks the 60 year old Civil Defense manuals on shelters making and food and water storage was so wild. Look at todays manuals, and had you read the CD materials from then, you would only see a more coordinated effort to provide for and protect we the people.

          • Administrator September 1, 2014, 7:33 pm

            Not when the barbed wire faces in shill.

          • Russ September 1, 2014, 9:40 pm

            Don, we are not the UN. We are the U.S.A.
            In fact the UN should be defunded, null and void as far as the United States are concerned.
            They don’t serve our best interests in the slightest and are impudent to worlds interest.
            Our Domestic Terrorist and Chief (Barry Soetoro) is running our great country into the ground at the moment, and is not the usual type of president your so used to.
            I don’t know what fairyland your living in, but you better get a grip on reality.
            Your words really remind me of the movie “Star wars” when the Jedi are performing their mind tricks.

            Did you not watch the above video? Maybe go back and count those UN riot vehicles. That might snap you out of it
            I can’t keep talking for two reasons.
            1. Our 1st amendment rights are starting to be infringed (spied) upon and I don’t want Barry’s brown coats knocking at my door. Hell, you actually sound like you may be one of them.
            2. All the naivety just pisses me off.

  • Leon Gall September 1, 2014, 11:37 am

    Though the general tone of your article leads me to believe you ment no insult;
    I take exception to being called a “Boot Licker”. I have served my country with honor in the USAF and US Army for twenty years, been A Ham and Militia for over twenty years.
    I would like to point out that Receiving on Radio Bands requires no licensing.
    Yours in Liberty,
    Leon C. Gall, KE4TLT
    Oath Keeper

    • Don September 1, 2014, 7:12 pm

      Off topic but Oath Keepers and any non-government militias have made the “enemies list” at Southern Poverty Law Center. Too bad that doing good for your community earns being called a terrorist by such organizations. The ADL describes gun owners and militia members terrorists. Knowing people in such groups, they don’t deserve being so mislabeled.

  • zxjim September 1, 2014, 11:35 am

    You do a disservice, I think, to portray Ham operators in the way you do. Maybe what they do seems to be boot-licking to you, but the simple fact is that the government has been trying very hard to confiscate those frequencies so they can give them out to the highest bidder, and it is the Ham community that has kept those frequencies from being taken away, which would otherwise leave the average citizen with nothing other than what can be easily controlled by government. (An easily blocked and intercepted cell phone signal, or low power radio that can’t usually get beyond 4-5 miles.) A big reason those frequencies have been kept open to citizens is that the ARRL polices the frequencies itself. If you are unlicensed, if you use the frequency illegally, yes, expect to be reported. The alternative is for the FCC to decide that things are out of control, and use that excuse to take away the frequencies.

    In the meantime, while I strongly recommend anybody interested in long-range communications learn Morse code, it is no longer necessary to know Morse to pass the amateur exam. If somebody is interested in taking the exam, you don’t need the book in most cases. Many local Ham organizations will run a two-day class before the exam, and if they don’t, or if the time isn’t there, you can take practice exams at the link below, under ‘Resources’. I did the classes, but found out they were unnecessary, because I kept retaking the practice exam online, several times a day for a week straight, until I could pass every time, regardless of the questions. (BTW, the reason why Morse, also known as ‘CW’ is so much better for long-range communications is covered in this exam, so not all of the information is ‘useless’.)

    http://www.qrz.com/

    As for emergency use, yes, if it is an organized emergency with government resources, they do not want people on the net who are properly trained in procedures. But if things go beyond this kind of emergency, I think you may be surprised at the attitude of most Hams. They know things are not right, and they know that Ham is an integral component of communications in a disaster. The reason they want people to get licensed is so they have the knowledge before it becomes essential. If you plan on living off what you can grow, do you store seeds and hope for the best? Or do you plant a garden to see what works and what doesn’t? A wise person learns while they have the opportunity, instead of trying to learn when there are no resources, and no room for error. Besides, do you really think the government doesn’t already know everything about you? Do you think that getting your license will be the ‘tipping point’ to them deciding you need to be tracked? Really?

    Overall this is a good article for somebody new to the idea, but it could show Hams in a better light. Believe it or not, there is very good reason for a lot of the things they do that you might not agree with.

    • Administrator September 1, 2014, 12:06 pm

      There are two sides to every story of course. But any argument that makes a special interest, privileged, hobby harder to get into is generally misguided. In trying to protect what you already have, you shoot yourself in the foot by holding back your real power, a ton of people who vote, from every figuring out how to jump through the hurdles. People today learn things in their underwear at 2am. They don’t go to in person classes, because they are probably working two jobs just to make ends meet. Defending your position is only holding you back from saving amateur radio from its likely demise. It is funny that the one thing that the ARRL has done as a positive thing, eliminate the requirement to learn Morse Code, is what you suggest people do. Post collapse there will be plenty of time to learn it, because it will extend the reach of your radio, but otherwise it is a small corner of the overall good use of a Ham radio. That is why we suggested the Dummies book, because he frames everything in the proper light.

      • zxjim September 1, 2014, 2:01 pm

        I did provide a link for people to take a practice test online. You do NOT need to take the classes. However, those classes are given, free of charge, by your local Ham organization, relying on volunteers to conduct the classes. A group of people volunteering their entire weekend at no gain to themselves, and all they ask in return is people who are interested in Amateur Radio set aside one weekend to learn the ropes. In addition, it’s a great way to network with like-minded people. But if you don’t want to go to the classes, then just go in and take the test. Once you pass you need not belong to any organization. The license is good for ten years, and a re-test is not required if you choose to re-up your license.

        The point I was making was that is wasn’t hard to get into the hobby. It takes two days to take the classes, or several hours to test yourself online, so you’re ready to spend that hour or so and pass the test. Two days, maximum, for something that is good for the rest of your life doesn’t sound like a major requirement to me. How long did it take you to get your driver’s license? What did you have to go through to get your CCW? (Which is a right protected by the Constitution mind you, whereas free use of radio frequencies arguably isn’t, even though I would suggest that it should be.) The complaints I keep hearing about having to take a piddly little test once in a lifetime, that over 90% of people pass the first time through, seems to be a little too close to the ‘Give It To Me Now No Questions Asked’ mentality that pages like this usually decry.

        In the meantime, yes I suggested people learn Morse. You seem to have missed the section in my comments when I compare communications to gardening. When you have the resources available, which is now, is the best time to learn new things. When there is a lack of resources, and no room for error, is the worst time to learn new things. What if you don’t have a printed copy of Morse code, and the computer goes out? It’s a little late to learn Morse code then, isn’t it? Yes, I did recommend something that isn’t required, because knowledge you have is something that cannot be taken away from you. Books, papers, computers, etc., those can be taken away or destroyed.

        What it comes down to is what are you planning on using Ham for? If you just want to just listen in, forget the Ham radio and get a good shortwave radio. (I have a nice Grundig myself, it gets worldwide reception often with nothing more than the whip antenna.) The best shortwave radios cover the Ham frequencies, even though you can’t talk back. If you do want to talk back, then it makes perfect sense to suck it up and do the work now, so you won’t have to deal with the learning curve when there are many other things for you to worry about.

        You appear to have an opinion of Amateur operators, and there probably isn’t anything I can do to change that opinion. But by referring to them as boot-lickers, you risk alienating a very large number of people (many of whom likely agree with you more often than not) even though they have a lot of information that you don’t. For example, you incorrectly state that Technician class can only use VHF and UHF bands. Actually Technician is allowed to use voice in 10M, and can use Morse code in additional HF bands. A person does get more band rights with a General Class, and even more with Advanced, but for somebody seeking a Ham license primarily for emergencies, a Technician class license is usually more than sufficient.

        • Shelley Ashfield September 3, 2014, 10:56 am

          Well said.
          You are far more patient with the Exalted Author of the article than I would have been…

          • Dan December 31, 2014, 8:25 am

            AMEN!
            73 KE4JSX

      • N6JSX September 1, 2014, 5:24 pm

        Admin anonymous: who ever you are your ‘opinion’ of the ARRL is tainted. There is a very sound reason why only ~23% of HAMdom are ARRL members! If you want to discuss govt boot-lickers then you’re dead on about the ARRL HQ. ARRL HQ is only focused on insuring ARRL HQ $alaries grow annually; HQ will and has sold HAMdom down the river to get HAM business dominance and FCC favors (i.e. 220 band sell-out for Novice Enhancement). ARRL “HQ” is all about making money that coincidentally happens to be HAM Radio. The ARRL does one thing well “the VE program” but only to get more ARRL memberships. HQ does a miserable job of administering the OO program (as OO’s do NOT create new HAMs). ARRL fails are trying to be a big brother to every HAM but they are currently the biggest and only collective voice HAMs have. I learned my lesson and will never again be an ARRL lackey. I put my trust in this Blog than the ARRL.

        As far as CW/Morse Code it was a great FILTER, separating the willing for the free-loaders, but HAM businesses (like the ARRL) only live on making money. CW was seen as limiting HAM license numbers (buyers) so it had to go. I now refer to my own license as a REAL-Advanced & CB-Extra.

      • Thomas D. Turner K4EQH September 1, 2014, 9:23 pm

        Your off base on most of your comments…………and if anything……your the one that seems to be PRO- Government..
        But I am not here to argue………..look at the running ability of the ARRL, then tell me why your downgrading the Amateur service……………..Most “Hams” probably wont comment on your site, because of the stupidy of its contents…..there is
        nothing here that makes much sense to the average person…………………….T. Turner, K4EQH Waterloo, Alabama

      • Jeff September 2, 2014, 10:51 pm

        I of coarse have to agree with the rest of the Hams that have posted here.
        I took the class in January passed my Tech test, went straight on to be self taught to pass my General.
        I have had and unbelievable amount of fun learning and using ham radio.
        If you spend Any Time just listening you will see this is good ol fashion what America was founded on beliefs coming out of the radio. And no I’m not talking reruns of Fox News. There are farmers, truckers, factory workers, IT guys, utility workers. There are women teachers, hospital workers, communication guys. Guess where they learned their trade, in the military? My personnel favorites are the WWII guys that come on and start sharing stories, that really bring guys out with prior military experience. Great stuff.
        I know of a guy that used to be in ham radio years ago, but got away from it, he is a Silver Star recipient in Vietnam. Where you guessed it was a radio operator. I don’t think I need to touch on the bootlicking from these guys point of view do I?
        There are political views if that’s what you want, and I’m pretty sure it’s some what in line with the view of the person writing this article. All you have to do is listen.
        Maybe? Some ham radio guys have been prepping for the last 20 years…..hummm.
        I guarantee most every one of these old crusty guys love firearms…..hummmm.
        Anyway the learning I have done is good stuff, it’s not hard just take a month read the book, several out there, take the practice exams, and you walk out of testing with a license, a smile, and some good basic knowledge.
        I wouldn’t wanted my experience any other way.
        Oh yea today I talk to a guy who was on Pikes Peak with a handheld with a ten foot whip on 20 meters and we made contact, clear to central Illinois. Bet ya didn’t know you can do that. And I’m running a simple 20 meter dipole antenna in my garage made on speaker wire. Where did I learn to do that? Oh I had to read apply myself and take a test.
        One more thing there are all kinds of people in this hobby, just like any thing you get into. But what I’ve found is mostly just GOOD people. Good people like me that believe in God, Family, Guns, and Guts.
        Thanks

    • Don September 1, 2014, 7:08 pm

      You comments are quite good. Before we had the FRS we had the GMRS (both UHF) a licensed service. Now everyone can use those frequencies. There is also the MURS, a VHF system with low power radios, formerly called Business radio. No license is required. Unlawfully people have been using VHF-Marine radios in mobiles and handhelds.
      From actual use, and using good quality Motorola commercial radios, similar to ones I used for public safety we found that VHF at one watt out performed UHF GMRS radios having 2 or 4 watt outputs while in heavy timber.
      Standing in heavy timber, with in arms reach of a clearing could show how much signals get “eaten” by trees. Quite literally I could bring my issue portable radio extended into a clearing and it would go live with police and fire communications. Pull it under the trees by 20 inches and it would go silent.
      While conducting operations in timber we often use VHF and UHF side-by-side. The UHF as found in GMRS/FRS simply would go quiet at half the distance compared to VHF.
      Both would work exceptionally fine with unobstructed line of sight over many miles. go a few hundred meters into the brush, and they became useless.
      In the early days when CB radios used individual crystals, we found that reversing a channel by putting the transmit in the receive slot and the receive in the transmit slot, we had quiet radios not hearing skip, and having better on the ground performance. I understand it is now unlawful to do so. AND today CB radios use a single crystal that is electronically converted to the one of 40 channels. Find some old CBs and it might work within you groups area of operations. Not so much to remain secret, but to avoid the interference from a nation filled with skip.
      In the past Radio Shack used to sell good radios. Now the internet suppliers offer more choices and more answers than a phone salesman in high school working the counter at a phone shop. Too bad RS used to have lots of gear and knowledgeable clerks.

  • Dan September 1, 2014, 10:51 am

    On guns America site for purchase of hunting rifle. Site is fine for that. The preparation for the survival of Armageddon. Good luck. All the ex military techie types who know all the facts about guns and ammo are the reason we won’t survive. You might as well subscribe to the rapture theory.
    Been a farmer for forty years. Rule #1 In order to farm with any success you sure as hell don’t have time to play militia or worry about what the UN is doing. You cannot use a tractor or horse if the worst transpires, to drag artillery around and plow a field at the same time. Catching my drift. Maybe you could spend some time learning about agriculture and the peaceful world necessary for its survival. Then we all might have a chance.

    • Michael E. Hensley September 1, 2014, 1:18 pm

      I am pulling my Plow with My Tank

    • Michael Crouch September 1, 2014, 9:32 pm

      You may be a skilled farmer. However, the enemy will not just recoil at the sight of a group of “peacefully persuing farmers and say to themselves, “Behold, such a noble people, let us leave them in peace.” No! In order to survive a collapase, it is going to take both kinds of people. Farmers – like you, and fighters like me to protect the food producing people. So I will say to you, farmer, good luck without those who are willing to “play militia” as you call it, as though it is some cute child-like game.

    • carlgan December 31, 2014, 12:37 pm

      One question… Once you harvest all that food you produced… how are you going to protect it from a hungry mob ? They will not ask politely or respect the fact that is “your” food and they have no right to it. Farming is very important as it produces much needed food, but equally important is protecting it.

      Carlos

  • Michael E. Hensley September 1, 2014, 10:14 am

    Another thing to consider is that with the Impending Zombie Apocalypse 🙂 is that most all comm systems will be down which means Clear Air, No Sats/TV/FM radio so Ham signals will be more stronger and clearer with less power which means a lower power source to the Radio. There are hand generators that charge batteries and most Base Radios are DC with an AC hookup so all one has to do is to unhook the AC to run DC only.
    Remember — Zombies require a Headshot to put down
    W4MEH

  • Mark Robinson September 1, 2014, 9:25 am

    No license needed to listen, most ham radios cover the entire shortwave bands. I would disagree about most hams being Govt lackeys, far from true. The simplest antenna is a wire dipole made from any kind of wire from speaker wire on up. There are formulas on line to determine the proper length of wire for the particular HF band you want to operate on and what kind of feed line to use. I have, and do, talk and receive world wide with simple wire dipole antennas, which are also hard to spot. When buying a HF radio for disaster situations make sure it will operate on 12 volts so you can make use of your deep cycle batteries and solar panels. For less than 200$ you can purchase a solar array to keep your batteries charged, and keep your radio on the air.

  • Dale Kubichek September 1, 2014, 9:25 am

    Another item that needs to be stressed here – to do communications you need electrical power, an alternate source can be in the form of a generator, battery, solar, wind, hydro, etc. Another issue for Cellular phones, TV-Radio, police-fire trunking radio systems and ISP-hubs is they need back up power. If not, they are useless. Many Govt systems have generators with 24hrs of fuel – but what after that when regional power is out and fuel cannot be pumped out of underground tanks?

    For my backup HAM radios I have a 12VDC high Amp-Hour gel-cell battery that can be charged by any means. If only RX the battery is good for days only when TX (high power consumption) will the battery get swiftly discharged.

    As for antennas – a long wire is very cheap and good for RX but for a more efficiency antenna make a wire dipole it is just as simple but you get the most for your efforts at low cost. Plus it is easy to pre-make and store in a three gallon bucket! There are many User groups where you can find more FREE information in the FILES area at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HAM-SATs or http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RDF-USA

    HAM radio is now easier than ever to get licensed – no more required learning of Morse code (even if it is the most reliable mode of communication) – check you library for study books. You just need to pass (70%) a 35 question test and then a 25 question test to have full world wide talking life-time license. When you retire HAM can be a nice time filler talking to fellow peers as well getting helpful information on your various project interests. I became a HAM at 16 and now more than 40yrs later I’ll be a HAM forever.

    N6JSX /8, VE, MS-EET

    • Administrator September 1, 2014, 9:33 am

      There is already one solar article in this series and we have another coming, as well as a wind.

  • michael podlusky September 1, 2014, 9:11 am

    re:the radios from Greece, the site says they are set up for European frequencies. Is there a model designed for US or North American frequencies also? What model numbers or designations should I look for? Thanks- Michael

  • Terry September 1, 2014, 9:06 am

    You referenced the Greek seller on ebay had unlocked radios. There are four pages of radios there. Can you recommend any of the inexpensive (less than $300) models he has listed?

    Thanks for a good article.

    • Administrator September 1, 2014, 9:34 am

      It really is a budget issue. The more money the more features and power. There are a couple handhelds that have the 10-30mhz bands under $300.

  • Terry September 1, 2014, 9:05 am

    You referenced the Greek seller on ebay had unlocked radios. There are four pages of radios there. Can you recommend any of the inexpensive (less than $300) models he has listed?

    Thaks for a good article.

  • Terry September 1, 2014, 9:05 am

    You referenced the Greek seller on ebay ahd unlocked radios. There are four pages of radios there. Can you recommend any of the inexpensive (less than $300) models he has listed?

    Thaks for a good article.

  • Greg Gobleman September 1, 2014, 8:47 am

    A lot of mis-information in your article. It’s never been easier to become a “government bootlicker”. Simple memorization tests that even children are passing with little difficulty. A person with an interest in Amateur radio that cannot find time to read the study guides and pass the test, certainly has no business in a survival cell, or even owning guns. And about those dwindling numbers of old men. Amateur radio today has the largest numbers in our history. Yes, we were fading away. But no longer. Gamers. Young people with an interest in competition have discovered Radiosport. Radio contests against other people, with the added interest of what Mother Nature can throw against them. They can build stations as big or small as they desire for their chosen class of competition. Granted, memorization isn’t going to teach anyone all they really need to know about actual operation. But there is a wealth of information on the Internet. They can always ask the “Government Bootlicker” for some direction and help. The inexperienced do tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

    73, K9ZM

    • Steve Sandy September 1, 2014, 10:47 am

      Very well put! KC5BJV

    • waz up January 13, 2015, 12:22 pm

      Seems you took personal offense to the “bootlicker” lable. Are you one of the bootlickers? Be honest!!!!!!!

  • Michael E. Hensley September 1, 2014, 4:04 am

    The article on Radio is basically sound, But a few comments need addressing.
    1- You can listen to any frequency you desire, That is the other beautiful thing about Ham Radio it acts as a shortwave receiver. for best transmission and reception get a long wire antenna, Most radios come with tuners so all antennas can be tuned for best Talk.
    2- you can with a Tech License use parts of 10 meter band 29 MHZ segment. plus VHF-UHF but always remember VHF-UHF are very short range Freqs.
    W4MEH

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