Survival Radios, Really?

Started by gil, January 25, 2017, 08:29:59 pm

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Hello Tempstar,

Just curious, why weight times six?
Yaesu FT-897
LDG AT-200Pro II
Icom IC-91A


Thinking a bit more about the subject, I think many people confuse emergency radio and survival radio. Emergency radio might be an ARES type activity where the goal is to help your community in a local emergency, maybe regional if not too bad. Survival radio is when you might use your radio to save your life or obtain vital information that could save your life. Survival radio means that everything else already failed, cell phones, satellite phones, Internet, cars, grid power... Or that you are in a very remote location where radio is the only way to communicate. The gear requirements are different.

Let's imagine two scenarios since I am bored tonight and I enjoy writing ;)

A Go-Box comprised of an FT-857 100W transceiver, 20Ah battery, VHF, UHF and HF portable antennas, tuner and a VHF/UHF handheld. Great choice for a hurricane relief operation in Florida, assuming you have a way to recharge that battery at the end of the day. You transport the gear in your car, maybe with a bit of a hike at the end to reach the damaged area. You meet the other guys in your emergency radio club. You have food, drinks, and a reasonable expectation of safety. You go home that night tired with a few bruises and scrapes. This is emergency radio. It could be a day in FL or a month in Nepal after an earthquake. It's a great use of radio and can save lives. Kudos to the guys taking their equipment to disaster areas and donating time to help others.

Now imagine multiple terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants using backpack nukes... You live downwind of one and it's time to go, NOW! You grab your bug-out bag, your spouse and your dog, try to start the car, nothing. The computer is fried. Nothing with electronics in it works. You walk perpendicular to the wind to get away from the fallout. After a day of running away you stop for the night and wonder if you are walking towards another disaster area or salvation. Time to throw a wire up a tree... You have a small QRP radio at the bottom of your bag in a cookie tin can and a handful of AA batteries. You hear from a guy in Europe that another plant blew West of you and that you better go North now because the wind is going to stay put for the next three days. You hear the same thing an hour later from a guy in Alaska. Now you know what is going on and where to go. This is survival radio. Same for a sailor who's boat is hit by lightning in the Atlantic or an adventurer who breaks his leg alone in Kenya. A 50lbs radio go-box isn't even going to be there, much less carried in such cases.

As Ray said, you need to define what your needs are. The reason I don't have a 100W heavy power-hungry transceiver is because one QRP rig does everything I need. Sure, I might have to call a bit longer to get a response, and I must know what I am doing with wires, feed-line and possible tuner. I need to know where most of my radiated power is going, if I need radials or not, where the possible losses are, the influence of the environment, etc. QRP isn't plug-and-play. On the other hand, I will actually have the radio with me since the whole station weighs so little. When I went on my trek in the Pyrenees last August the Weber MTR was the only radio I considered taking with me. After eight hours of climbing, any gel cell battery bigger than a 2Ah would have found it's way down a cliff and be damned the environmental impact, believe me :o I only carried AA cells... I even got rid of a pound of rice leaving it in a cabin because it was too heavy!

As I have mentioned before, my ideal survival radio would be something like a KX2 in a watertight thick aluminum case... The MTR is still my favorite because of its size and very low current draw.



Quote from: rah on February 03, 2017, 01:50:32 pm
Hello Tempstar,

Just curious, why weight times six?

It is a multiplier we came up with to offset the points. If not, everyone would put the same stuff in their kits and all the points would be the same. It really encourages ingenuity.

A lot of folks in these parts have built kits for ARES and AUXCOMM, with AUXCOMM being more digital HF (Winlink over Pactor mainly). We found just in the last 12 months with 2 floods and 1 hurricane that you had better be able to move quickly to avoid danger. Case in point, an operator had to relocate 3 times in two hours because of rising flood waters. His persistence saved a lot of lives as the EOC was flooded and local VHF Ham freqs were used to coordinate boat rescues. There were 8 Hams on the ground that night. 80 meters was also utilized to communicate with the state EOC and get more help and supplies on the way, also from a small go kit with an 857 and a Chameleon vertical.
As to QRP and emergency work, we encourage operators to use the lowest power possible to make contact, especially if battery powered, but where life safety is concerned, having 100 watts available is just good practice. Having the luxury of calling until heard with QRP just isn't there. All this brings me full circle back to low functional kit weight and maximum deployed utility. I personally used to own an FT-817 and played with QRP until last year. I still run my TS-2000 at 10 watts a lot of the time, but if life safety is a concern, or even reporting in to the EOC during a hurricane, I use max wattage to get the contact made so others will have the opportunity as well. QRP is great, but like everything it has it's place.


QuoteHaving the luxury of calling until heard with QRP just isn't there.

Definitely, and you gave a perfect example of emergency radio, not to be confused with survival radio as explained in my previous post :)



I think one of the problems is the agencies use these small shot Glass type of antenna. So line of sight and surface area is no longer optimized. Just my opinion.

And I totally agree with the, you going to have to go with what you got. Hell you may to result to using smoke signals.

Some older guys where fishing in the coastal marshes along Georgia. They a had a mechanical failure and no cell service. No radio. After the tide went out they were really stuck. They decided to set the patch of grass next to their boat.

Not long after they set the fire a coast guard chopper shows up and recovers them.

I must I don't if that's stories true or not but it's highly probable.

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