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Communications ...***

Discussion in 'Preppers' Corner' started by BadgeBunny, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. BadgeBunny

    BadgeBunny Sharpshooter

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    OK, even though I have my tech license I can freely admit this is really "not my thang" ... However, I know that communications during an emergency situation is important, and sometimes HAMS can communicate when nothing else is working all that well ...

    Plus, there are plenty of other options to discuss between the point in time where everything is working perfectly and the time were you are stationed on your roof taking pot shots at looters running up and down the street ... So ... This is the thread for that ...

    Got equipment?? Tell us about it and how you wound up with what you have. Want equipment but aren't sure where to start ... this is the place to ask. Want to take the test but aren't sure where to start? Ask in this thread ...

    *** You don't have to be "one of those people" to post in this thread (or any of the others in the Prepper Section). I know we have a LOT of HAMS out there on the board ... Chime in, guys ... I'll see if I can find some of the threads that were started in GD about HAM radio stuff and merge them into here ...
     
  2. Jestik

    Jestik Sharpshooter

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    I've got a handheld CB radio...a Baofeng UV-5R to be exact. Here are the specs on it:



    25KHz/12.5KHz Switchable
    Channel Step: 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5/25KHz
    Frequency Range: 136-174 / 400-480MHz
    128 Channels 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS
    Dual-Band Display, Dual Freq. Display, Dual-Standby

    I've got no clue on how to use it, and I mostly just use it as an FM Radio, which it is awesome at. I'd love to get to use it, but I am not licensed at all.

    I also have a handheld Midland CB radio that has really crappy range.
     
  3. p238shooter

    p238shooter Sharpshooter

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    I would think the first thing that needs to be thought about iswith who and how far you want to communicate?

    Ham radio is not like CB which is more like a cussing contest. Ham radio is a very clean hobby the is very well regulated by the operators and has very great support from the FCC for people who violate the rules. Particularly locally you are trying to communicate with a specific individual or a specific group of individuals.

    In reality, Ham radio is the only dependable "legal" way to communicate more than a mile or two. With Ham radio you can get one of three classes of licenses, purchase radios and put up antennas to communicate miles, states, and countries away. If you need to contact a specific person a few miles away, a 2M handy talkie a 1st level Technician license can do that. With a mobile radio you will go further especially through repeaters (privately owned) and generally you can talk a 50 mile radius. With a 2nd level General license you can typically talk nation wide and more. A basic HF radio generally will start at about $500 and go up from there. An antenna can be made from $50 upward to several thousands depending what you want to do.

    I have several posts on some of these items, I will past one of my recent ones here to get you started.

    A Technician license will give you privileges to operate in the 146mz and the 440mz bands commonly called 2Meter and 440 bands and a little in the 10M band for local communications. Handy Talkies will usually communicate 5-20 miles dependent on terrain, mobiles 20-30 miles, again depending on terrain. These will also operate through existing privately owned repeater systems which will retransmit 50-70 miles.

    If you are interested in getting your technician ham radio license, and are willing to study an hour or so a night for a couple of weeks, I highly recommend a $25 purchase of:

    http://www.hamradiolicenseexam.com

    You can try some of it for free to see if it will work for you. It is less expensive than most books and very effective to not only answer the questions, but know why the answer is correct. It gives you flash cards and drills you. You miss something it will give you the correct answer and why. It will re-nag you to make sure you really got it.

    My Wifey who knew nothing about radio studied a couple of weeks and made a 97% on the Tech test (70% is passing). When you are ready many places have testing available. They usually charge $15-18 to administer the test. First license usually takes a couple weeks to be approved by the FCC. Upgrades are immediate.

    When the FCC dropped the code requirements I upgraded from Tech+ to General in a week, and to Extra 3 weeks later. I was a Tech+ for many years because I could not do Morse code faster than about 8 words/min. I had a lot of electronics background but the code stopped me. I am glad it is gone, but it is also a useful tool. I just do not need it at 10WPM or faster.

    Take a look at it. He will give you a little free preview, you just have to make a log in so it can remember where you left off the last time.

    Ham radio it is a great family hobby. One of my friends sons passed the Tech test when he was 11 and he is very good on the radio, always has a good fishing story. There are many radio clubs around the usually meet once a month to have a meal and shoot the bull. Very nice people in general, and willing to help out.

    We had an ice storm several years ago with no power 7 days out in the country. Day 3 the cell phone tower ran out of back up fuel. I used the boat battery in the garage to communicate with my friends. I had one radio friend in particular who usually turned his radio off when he went to bed. He offered to leave it on with the volume turned up. He stated, "if you need anything in the middle of the night, you get on the radio and wake me up, fire, ambulance, anything -- got it?" He was 40 miles away in the city with power and phone service. I did not need him, but was glad he would be there if we did.

    When all normal forms of communication are down, ham operators can and do talk, locally, or around the world. 12V power is pretty accessible, you can take it with you easily. WB5Y Ken
     
  4. dennishoddy

    dennishoddy Sharpshooter

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    It was in the 70's, but our site commander had a license and we operated a MARS station. We were in the shithole far east, and at that time Al Gore had not invented the internet. A phone call across the undersea cables was $60 a minute.

    At least we got to talk to family with thousands listening. LOL.

    It was good.
     
  5. p238shooter

    p238shooter Sharpshooter

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    Your Bofang is a Ham Radio (or Amateur Radio) that you are required to have a license to talk on. Very different than a CB radio. If you take some time there are several Ham radio repeaters in the OKC area that you can program in to monitor if you would like. Most of the clubs meet once a week on the radio, usually at 8:00 on their specific frequencies you can monitor, along with general conversations in between.

    I would advise you to not try to transmit with out a license, as they practice what they call a "Foxhunt" every month or two for fun where one of their members tries to hide and do short transmissions reflecting signals off of buildings, metal objects, varying the power, etc. and not be found. They are usually found in a couple of hours. The most interesting one was the "FOX" was hidden in a dumpster with a very small antenna wire attached to a beam antenna up in a tree beside it pointed into a refinery to scatter his radio signal. Several people drove right by him. He was not found for almost 4 hours.

    Your Bofang radio should have been less than $50 with shipping and is a relatively good radio. Not high power, but very functional. They do tend to have a longer programming learning curve than some more expensive radios, I have heard the instructions are lacking.

    Claremore, OK will have one of the largest Hamfests (Ham radio flea market) in the central US, March 7-8. Hams come from Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee, and everywhere in between to buy, sell, swap, and trade equipment. We will also have some new equipment venders participating also. There usually will be two test sessions, one Friday evening and one Saturday morning for any one who would like to take a test. They have hourly prize drawings which is included with your $10 entry fee. Last year I won a Yaesu FT-60 dual band HT. You can search for Greencountryhamfest for more info.
     
  6. p238shooter

    p238shooter Sharpshooter

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    MARS is the military version of Ham Radio that uses specific frequencies just off the standard Ham bands but are alternately used for basically the same function of emergency communication as ham radio is. It is a merger of the two services. I looked at becoming a MARS member on my end but they require a certain percentage of availability to their nets, and I did not want to commit to being home to talk on the radio at that specific time each week to check in.

    If you had a General Class license, you could do the same basic thing as the MARS station you visited.
     
  7. dennishoddy

    dennishoddy Sharpshooter

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    I didn't visit it. Don't know how it is today, but our site commander had the license and we could operate the MARS as associates with out the license. As long as he was in charge of the transmitter (with his license) we could operate it under his umbrella. We put hundreds of folks through to their family's. In that day and time no internet, no phone, MARS or a 7-9 day span to get a letter home. I recently found every one of my letters I sent home in my mothers estate. Never knew she kept them. Interesting reading.
     
  8. p238shooter

    p238shooter Sharpshooter

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    If they were "written" messages, that is referred to as "traffic handling".

    Last major event I am familiar with was Katrina.

    Suppose you were concerned about "Aunt Martha" who lived down in that area, you can not connect with her by cell or landline.

    You contact the Red Cross and as for a health and well being report. That information was passed to a ham operator (most in a several sate area were sent to a friend of mines back room in his house in Tulsa) That operator contacted someone direct down close to the affected area on the HF long distance frequencies. That person then contacted someone through a repeater system on their 2m mobile radio. That person then relayed the request to someone in the area in a car, boat, or walking down the street who knocked on "Aunt Martha's" door, confirmed her condition, and a message was sent back through the system. The Red Cross had an answer for you that Aunt Martha was OK. If I remember correctly various operators in shifts passed over 20 thousand pieces of information from his radio.
     
  9. Jestik

    Jestik Sharpshooter

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    Yeah I know that it is illegal for me to transmit, and that is why I don't do it. Plus, I'm not even sure how to besides just pressing the button on the side, which again, I don't do. Like I said, I use it as an FM radio and it is really really good at that.
     
  10. p238shooter

    p238shooter Sharpshooter

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    Being prepared for emergency communications is the backbone and the root reason for ham radio. This is the reason the FCC gives us permission to talk on our frequencies rather than selling them to other entities like most others are done.

    Most ham clubs can show up at a remote site and have a temporary communication station set up to talk a 30 mile radius or if needed across the nation in less than an hour. Every year we practice this by having a contest called Field Day" of setting up a station with radios and antennas in a field, remote park or similar area with no facilities (we usually rent a porta-pottie) and see how many contacts we can make in a 24 hour period of time. Most of these stations run off of generator. Hundreds of contacts can usually be made nationwide and out of the country with temporary equipment.

    We usually make it fun with someone bringing their charcoaler. Visitors are welcome, and we usually let them talk on our radios with us helping them.
     

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