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Author Topic: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF  (Read 31477 times)

KK0G

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Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« on: July 17, 2013, 11:51:46 PM »
One of my preparation goals has been to set up regular skeds with like minded hams, to form a network if you will. Most of the experienced hams here always tell people that you can't just get licensed, buy some equipment, pack it away and assume you're prepared to communicate if the SHTF. Your chances of successfully communicating via amateur radio under those circumstances without the necessary skills gained from experience are slim to none. Almost as important is establishing regular skeds with folks that are also prepared and will likely be there to communicate with if the SHTF, trying to establish meaningful skeds during the chaos of alien invasions and zombie attack would be a formidable task at best.

If you're reading this then you're already at what I feel is the best resource for accomplishing this goal - the RadioPreppers forum of course. Wes - KC9TNH and I are now having fairly regular daily contacts all the while continually refining our 'system' with different times, bands, frequencies, procedures etc, as we find what works best between us. Ray and Gil also have a regular sked and the four of us have been known to drop into each others skeds helping to form a mini network. My point is, do this now, if the SHTF we won't have the internet which obviously means no RadioPreppers forum to meet up with like minded hams, no way to start a thread looking for someone to have a sked with, no way to PM that person to work out the details, no way to e-mail that person to refine the system................. you get the point.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

RadioRay

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 01:40:38 AM »
Very True Chris!  As the old saying goes: "If you are not doing it now, in all likelihood you will NOT be doing it then." .  Furthermore, in slow steady Morse code we were able to meet, move frequency once and change band once actually changed bands TWICE when you and I went to the next higher after Wes got a call from the White House asking about that giant saucer landing in DC....



 oh, I wasn't supposed to talk about that - was I?   

We could keep the rigs running for a very long time, scour the bands for information directly from hams in areas of interest and from international shortwave broadcasts.  I can copy PSK31, RTTY, WEFAX, FEC with my iPod using audio from the KX1 or my tiny SSB capable shortwave receiver.  The emergency power pack with solar recharging has 14 Amp hours of power, which means that -without recharging - it will run the KX1 for 400 hours of listening, not counting the internal batteries and my rechargeable external pack.  No infrastructure required.

After signing-off, I was listening to international shortwave broadcasts (Russia, PR China, Germany, BBC to somewhere..) on the KX1 while I packed my KX3 to ship to it's new owner. I'll miss the KX3 a little bit -

However, the GREAT news is that I am using the money to get a used one of these:

http://www.boatsnbikes.com/perception-corona-kevlar-for-sale.html

With many, many expensive accessories too!


This old sailor needs to get back on the water, but am not allowed on a sailboat    ::) (too sexy)  :o ha ha oh, and the knee injury might have something to do with it too. 


Make skeds!  Even 15 minutes per night, miss if you occasionally need to, but make skeds!


de RadioRay ..._ ._

Waaaaay back in 1999, here I was making my Sked from a survival trip
in Idaho's River of No Return wilderness, to central Colorado (almost 1,000 miles)
 using a homemade 40m QRP rig in my lap and a dipole (wire) antenna in a tree.

« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 07:35:29 PM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

RadioRay

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Technician License Skeds!
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 01:45:44 AM »
All you need is a Technician Class license to do Morse code skeds just like we are doing! The technician license authorizes you to communicate in Morse code on large portions of the 80, 40 (where we are) and 15 meter bands!   You do NOT need a General class license to be part of these skeds.  Learn code to a VERY basic level and hop in!

73 de RadioRay ..._ ._


"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

gil

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2013, 02:24:12 AM »
Of course I couldn't agree more  ;D

Anyone can get a Technician license and learn Morse at 5wpm, easily. With these regular skeds, we could find each others rather easily within a few days. I have a hard time copying Chris and Wes, but Ray can relay. Sometimes propagation is good enough though. That makes four of us connected. We need more. Each one of us should have a low current-draw radio and a solar panel to charge batteries, as well as a backup which should be stored in a Faraday cage. I have my KX3, MTR, K1 and less useful, DC20B and a couple Rock-Mites. The last three are gadgets... They do work, but the lack of frequency agility is though.

As a side note, using SSB, we would never make it. CW is king in that arena.

Let's make sure we keep those skeds alive. If not daily, at least a few times a week. It is good low speed practice for beginners as well.

I'm still stuck at 15wpm on a good day.. Now practicing head-copy at 25wpm, but only 20% copy so far...

Gil.

Geek

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 06:24:17 AM »
While I agree with the suggestion, as a beginner I'd say it is easier said than done.  Here are some of the barriers to newbies like myself:  1) the communications I want are with friends and family who have not gotten into either prepping or HAM radio.  (That's a pretty big hurdle.)   2) So far I am operating primarily on 2m, which means anyone I'd be communicating with is in about a 50 mile radius.  3) I don't know morse, which seems to be preferred among this group.  4)  I now have an HF radio, but my HF antenna is sitting in a plastic bag while I debate how to string it in the attic and am waiting for an assortment of connectors to run the wire from the attic to the shack.

Having said all that, I do agree with the idea of setting up skeds now.  If you want to up the participation from this forum, I suggest either the continuation of informal links among like minded members, or making some of the nets voice nets, local nets, etc. so folks can pick and choose among the nets they are able to participate in.

BTW:  anyone from NJ care to set up something with me on 2m?

KK0G

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 09:02:38 AM »
While I agree with the suggestion, as a beginner I'd say it is easier said than done.  Here are some of the barriers to newbies like myself:  1) the communications I want are with friends and family who have not gotten into either prepping or HAM radio.  (That's a pretty big hurdle.)   2) So far I am operating primarily on 2m, which means anyone I'd be communicating with is in about a 50 mile radius.  3) I don't know morse, which seems to be preferred among this group.  4)  I now have an HF radio, but my HF antenna is sitting in a plastic bag while I debate how to string it in the attic and am waiting for an assortment of connectors to run the wire from the attic to the shack.

Having said all that, I do agree with the idea of setting up skeds now.  If you want to up the participation from this forum, I suggest either the continuation of informal links among like minded members, or making some of the nets voice nets, local nets, etc. so folks can pick and choose among the nets they are able to participate in.

BTW:  anyone from NJ care to set up something with me on 2m?

1-4 in order:

1 - I wouldn't worry about convincing friends/family to participate in ham activity or at minimum it should be very low priority. It may sound harsh but if they don't see the need and don't have the drive, passion and interest it's doubtful you'll convince them otherwise. You can't control other people, all you can control is you.

2 - You have HF capabilities and privileges................. use them.

3 - Learn Morse code

4 - Quit debating and start hanging wire, any wire up in the air somehow. It may not be the biggest, baddest, fire breathing antenna but any antenna beats no antenna.

As to making some of the skeds via phone, refer back to #3. There is no way we would be able to make our mini network work via phone, ain't gonna happen. There are many evenings when we have considerable difficulty copying each other using CW, I can guarantee you under those conditions phone will not work. To quote Nike, "Just do it!"
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

RadioRay

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 09:44:28 AM »
In Geek's case, we're all pretty pleased to hear that the area comms using 2 meters is going so well. If there is no need for long range (>50 mile'ish) comms, then HF 2 way would not be necessary. Remember that he had a good comms plan , asked for best estimate of the tools and license to accomplish his immediate goal and did it. Very cool!

For those with long range, low power requirement, HF needs, the CW is excellent.If in a backpack situation, these small "QRP" CW rigs are amazing, tiny and there is high performance with little power/recharge requirement. 

A logical  next step up in power needs and tech burden would be HF digital using a small laptop for e-mail over HF radio & etc. so that effective communication can occur with small, low power consumption equipment. For home use, if you can provide power during your "planned" emergency, then you can look into more power consumption with less skill burden using computer "sound card" digital modes.

Different needs and different tools.


De RadioRay ..._ ._

Sent via iPhone
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 10:32:29 AM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

cockpitbob

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 10:23:15 AM »
BTW:  anyone from NJ care to set up something with me on 2m?
Start a NJ group in the State Wide section here.  You may be surprised who uncloaks.

Geek

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 10:58:47 AM »
While I agree with the suggestion, as a beginner I'd say it is easier said than done.  Here are some of the barriers to newbies like myself:  1) the communications I want are with friends and family who have not gotten into either prepping or HAM radio.  (That's a pretty big hurdle.)   2) So far I am operating primarily on 2m, which means anyone I'd be communicating with is in about a 50 mile radius.  3) I don't know morse, which seems to be preferred among this group.  4)  I now have an HF radio, but my HF antenna is sitting in a plastic bag while I debate how to string it in the attic and am waiting for an assortment of connectors to run the wire from the attic to the shack.

Having said all that, I do agree with the idea of setting up skeds now.  If you want to up the participation from this forum, I suggest either the continuation of informal links among like minded members, or making some of the nets voice nets, local nets, etc. so folks can pick and choose among the nets they are able to participate in.

BTW:  anyone from NJ care to set up something with me on 2m?

1-4 in order:

1 - I wouldn't worry about convincing friends/family to participate in ham activity or at minimum it should be very low priority. It may sound harsh but if they don't see the need and don't have the drive, passion and interest it's doubtful you'll convince them otherwise. You can't control other people, all you can control is you.

2 - You have HF capabilities and privileges................. use them.

3 - Learn Morse code

4 - Quit debating and start hanging wire, any wire up in the air somehow. It may not be the biggest, baddest, fire breathing antenna but any antenna beats no antenna.

As to making some of the skeds via phone, refer back to #3. There is no way we would be able to make our mini network work via phone, ain't gonna happen. There are many evenings when we have considerable difficulty copying each other using CW, I can guarantee you under those conditions phone will not work. To quote Nike, "Just do it!"

1)  I am expecting my son to get a Technician license, but not for a few months.  The issue is less convincing people to get into HAM and more about convincing people to prep.
2)  I will, but at my own pace.
3)  Maybe, but it is down the list.  Remember that in a real emergency, we can't help each other (other than passing messages) from 500 miles away.  2m covers the area where I can either give or get help.
4)  I bought the antenna on Sunday.  I intend to do a nice neat installation, not some rushed hack job that I then wind up redoing later.


gil

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 01:07:02 PM »
Quote
I don't know morse, which seems to be preferred among this group.

Well, I want to make sure that everyone knows that there are more members here that do not use CW than those who do... The ones who do are just more vocal  :D For me, using Morse code quickly became an apparent necessity, simply because it works best with portable radios. No other mode allows the use of an HF radio the size of a pack of cigarettes that runs forever on a few AA batteries..

CW is also cheaper! Kits cost from $30 to $300, usually. Even some factory built radios fall into that price range, usually about $200, dual banders.. Add a key and an end-fed, and you're good to go. Let's face it, prepping does cost quite a bit of money, and radio isn't the number one priority. If Ham radio is your hobby, then so much the better. For many people, radio will be a prepping necessity, and they will want to spend as little as possible. So, by going CW, one can save money for other preps, or maybe more handhelds for local use.

Also, and I'll repeat myself here, having said so in a few other posts: I can't emphasize enough current-draw as the most important factor in choosing a radio. Without the grid, recharging batteries becomes a major hassle. A 7W solar charger is all I need to charge my AA cells. It's small and reasonably cheap.

Learning Morse code is just a matter of spending a little bit of time on it every day, 20 minutes..

Geek, you are doing really well. Remember, most of us are already set-up with 2m and went through the same things you did. I bought a Yaesu FT-270R handheld before any other radios. I only used it a handful of times, but it is there, and I would never part with it. HF-CW just seemed the natural next step for me, because of my portability requirements.

I have tried to get friends to get the Tech license, but they don't want to spend money. Many people do not like the technical side of the hobby. I damn well know nobody I know is going to learn Morse code! Prepping is most often a solitary endeavour. The best you can do is plant the seed in their mind and let them decide for themselves, in which case they probably would be more motivated.

Gil.

KK0G

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 02:06:36 PM »
Yeah I suppose some of us are sort of like the CW fan club 8)
But of course that's because we've seen the light so to speak, I was an active ham for 12 years before I decided to learn Morse code and when I did it completely changed the way I look at amateur radio, a real turning point. I had convinced myself like many others that learning code was a hard, arduous, pain in the ass and all for what, to listen to a bunch of noisy beeping? No sir, I'll pass. Then I read a certain article written by a certain forum member who's name rhymes with RadioRay, and was inspired to learn code. Once I made my mind up to learn Morse code and started practicing it seemed pretty easy and went much quicker than I imagined it would, it was no where near as difficult as I had convinced myself it would be. My only regret is waiting so long to do it in the first place.

Suddenly things I couldn't have dreamed possible using phone or digital modes were extremely easy to do via CW such as backpacking into a remote campsite and being able to reliably communicate thousands of miles with a rig small enough to fit in a cargo pocket using six AA batteries with enough capacity to last weeks of operation. I challenge anyone to do the same with any other mode.

That concludes my monthly soapbox speech on the merits of CW, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

73 de KK0G - CW Fan Club member
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

WA4STO

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2013, 02:44:05 PM »
While I'm known here as being a "digital" guy, it remains true that I spend every evening, without fail on:

1.  NCW - the Nebraska CW traffic net.  On two occasions there, I failed to bring traffic; every other time, I brought a boatload.

2.  TEN - the Tenth Region CW traffic net.  TEN meets twice each evening.

3.  CAN - Central Area Traffic Net.  I'm only on CAN twice a week, since I am the assigned liaison from TEN to CAN and back to TEN those nights.

I started my ham radio career on CW cuz that's all we were allowed.

I learned and copied CW years before THAT for some place that sometimes shows up on the front page of the paper 43 years later.  Oh wait, there is No Such Agency.  Right.  In that case, I better (N)ot (Say) (A)nything.  Right again.

73

Luck
wa4sto.wordpress.com

Geek

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2013, 03:56:37 PM »
Learned morse after 12 years?  Great, I only have 11 years and 9 months to go.   ;)

KK0G

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2013, 04:46:00 PM »
Learned morse after 12 years?  Great, I only have 11 years and 9 months to go.   ;)

I suppose I deserved that  ;D

Or you could learn from my mistake and start learning now. If I would have started 12 years ago I might be up to 60 WPM copy by now instead of the 12-15 WPM I'm at. Not that 12-15 WPM is terribly slow, even at 5WPM you'd be amazed at how quickly you can converse especially; cut stuff not needed - as opposed to; when you cut out the extra words, characters, etc that aren't needed to convey your thoughts. I bet you understood what I was trying to say from the first line, the second one gives way more detail but most of it is actually unnecessary info that just takes extra time to send. Just food for thought. 
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

Geek

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Re: Setting up regular skeds - do it now, not after SHTF
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2013, 06:12:16 PM »
You did set yourself up.   ;D

In general, I am doing pretty well on overall prepping.  Comms are just part of the package.  On comms I am looking at 3 HAM radios as I sit here typing this.  Considering I got my Technician license in March and my General in May, I don't think I am doing badly on comms and that is the weakest part of my overall preps.

My current plan is in an actual emergency to be using 2m first.  HF would be interesting for getting news from further distances and possibly for digital modes, but really down the list of importance and morse would be somewhere below that.

During Sandy, I am told most of the local repeaters stayed up, so 2m was going strong.  Nobody I could have raised from further away could have helped in any meaningful way while it was going on, nor could I have have helped anyone more than about a mile away from my home due to downed trees.  (BTW: Have you noticed that in fiction roads are blocked by armed men, but in real life they are blocked by fallen trees?)

I've experienced multiple hurricanes, earthquakes, a tornado, blackouts, and 9/11.  In all of those cases communicating with someone more than 50 miles away might have been nice, but it wasn't essential.