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Author Topic: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers  (Read 4935 times)

MaryAnn

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Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« on: February 13, 2017, 03:27:09 PM »
I've been asked to give a presentation to a small group of preppers about ham radio.  Being as how I come from a ham background and not so much of a prepper background, I would appreciate any suggestions or ideas I should cover.   That is, any notions other than the obvious "How to Get a License."  (Thanks, Gil, for the First Ham Radio suggestions post you wrote.  It's a great resource.)

I guess what I am looking for is some input to the following:  As a prepper, what attracted you, if anything, to ham radio?  What did you find to be "useful" information about ham radio, and what was off-putting?  It's estimated that one out of every two hams is not "radio active."  Why do you suppose that is?  What resources (ARRL, QRZdotcom, local ham clubs), if any, did you find helpful?  What misconceptions did you have about ham radio?  Can you offer any additional insight?

Thanks and 73,

MaryAnn NS7X   

gil

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2017, 05:48:58 PM »
Hello MaryAnn. I will let others reply to your questions because i would like to point out what I think is the most important issue in radio prepping, power supply, namely, batteries and current draw. Not all radios are created equal. Some draw very little current in receive while others are "gas guzzlers." In regular life it matters little. In a survival situation it makes all the difference. In the worst situation, being on foot, battery weight becomes a major issue. We also need to charge those batteries. Most Ham/preppers opt for solar power, but charging takes a long time and the smaller the battery the faster it takes. Being able to listen for extended periods IMHO is very important and carrying a heavy battery simply isn't an option. For example, a FT-817nd draws 450mA while a Weber MTR4b draws 15mA. The MTR will last thirty times longer on the same battery.

Another good advice for preppers: Don't  ignore Morse code. It is a very efficient mode which only requires a few Watts for global range and the radios are tiny and light, something to think about for a bugout bag. We are talking HF here, worldwide communications, not VHF/UHF handhelds.

Anyway, those are my two personal pet peeves,  ;D.

You have a very broad subject to present here... Topics might include different radios and antennas for different ranges, security (location and privacy), weight considerations, group communications, etc. etc.

Don't hesitate to ask more questions, and mention this forum to your audience  ;)

Gil.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 01:43:01 AM by gil »

MaryAnn

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2017, 07:07:24 PM »
Thanks, Gil.  I appreciate your comments.

The cost versus benefit conundrum of battery life/weight is a good point.  I'm thinking the SOTA (Summits on the Air) folks have some definite opinions as they backpack an awful lot of ham gear up and down mountain slopes.

I completely agree with you about CW.  I'm an old CW traffic handler, and I have found code to be a whole lot more efficient and more conversational than any other mode.  Besides, it's just plain fun. 

I certainly will mention this forum to the group.  I think it will be be just the kind of thing that they'll need if I manage to picque anyone's interest.

MaryAnn NS7X   

KK0G

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 09:00:29 AM »
The two biggest mistakes I see most preppers making in this area are;


1. As Gil mentioned, current, current, current. In a real SHTF situation power will be a very precious and limited commodity, extremely low current draw should be of the utmost priority.


2. Passing a Technician test, buying a couple of handhelds's, tossing them in a go bag, and then forgetting about it is a huge waste of resources. If you don't have the skill that comes from regular use, amateur radio will be of practically no use when the SHTF.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

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NavySEAL

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 02:18:58 PM »
low power drain.......light weight.......learn and use the code......don't expect Ham radios to work like a cell phone.

gil

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 05:12:19 PM »
Quote
2. Passing a Technician test, buying a couple of handhelds's, tossing them in a go bag, and then forgetting about it is a huge waste of resources. If you don't have the skill that comes from regular use, amateur radio will be of practically no use when the SHTF.

I'll second Chris here, very good point.

Furthermore...

Very few resources are useful to preppers regarding communications. There are a few YouTubers like Survival Tech Nord, the Comms Prepper and a few more (my channel "Radio Prepper") with good information, but not many, and certainly none of the official or established organizations and sites out there. I won't even comment on the ARRL to be polite.

One big misconception is that survival radio is like emergency radio as practiced by many clubs, ARES, etc. They are two different animals. Emergency radio is a community-based effort with a supporting infrastructure. Survival radio or radio-prepping is a very small community, small group, family or individual affair with no grid power expected for a long time, no support from the outside and potentially the need to evacuate on foot. Emergency radio is a community service, survival radio is not. The requirements for gear and practices are different.

Gil.

MaryAnn

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2017, 07:07:25 PM »
Thanks for differentiating survival radio from emergency operations.  It's a very good point.  And although I'm a supporter of ARES principles, I must admit that it is too often a place for complacency and all-too-political intrigue. 

I appreciate all the input I'm getting.  It's very helpful. 

More questions:  Is there a difference between a survivalist and a Prepper?
On HF cw, is there a Prepper calling frequency (such as: up 60 kHz from the bottom of the band)?  HF phone?  Are there any HF Prepper nets?
   




KK0G

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2017, 09:51:07 PM »

Is there a difference between a survivalist and a Prepper?


I would say not but I suppose it's just semantics.




On HF cw, is there a Prepper calling frequency (such as: up 60 kHz from the bottom of the band)?  HF phone?  Are there any HF Prepper nets?
 
None that I'm aware of. What several of us here on the forum have done is set up semi-regular skeds with other members. In doing so we discover what band works best at what time of day during what season etc. Most of us use CW at QRP levels but there may have been others using other modes. Hence my previous comment on folks buying a radio, tossing it in with the supplies never to see the light of day until it's needed; without a knowledge base, experience, and skill your chances of successfully using amateur radio when needed is slim to none. Of course this is true of the majority of supplies, tools, gadgets, etc. that lots of folks stockpile........ skill trumps equipment almost every time.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

KK0G

DJ6KR

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 01:23:11 AM »
Hi There,

Amongst all the other points already mentioned, that I believe are great, I would like to toss in: Reliable and Planned Comms!
A lot of people, including myself, have thought about Ham Radio as kind of a random way to communicate, especially on HF. You set everything up and then you call "CQ" and see what comes your way. But of course there is far more. As this was THE way to communicate for quite some time in history, there is a load of knowledge on "How can I reach Bob in NewZealand, Greg in Moskow, my friend only 100km away and later that emergency station in France" When I got into NVIS, it struck me, how directed and planned a shortwave connection can be, if you are capable of changing things about your antenna and changing bands. In real SHTF I personally have a few people inside Germany that I want to get connected with, plus some in France, Italy, and so on, so I need to make sure I can reach all those distances. In my CB-Radio time, everybody claimed that anything further away than line of sight, was just voodoo magic you can't plan, but that's wrong. Some time ago, STN (SurvivalTechNord) and I decided to go for it and make a planned Finnland - Germany connection via PSK31. It worked like a charm, except for those contesters that made more than a callsign + rst exchange impossible .... grmbl grmbl :/

Anyways this is my personal insight as this was what fascinated me most about SHTF-Ham-Radio lately.

73
DJ6KR

gil

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 03:27:05 AM »
Quote
Is there a difference between a survivalist and a Prepper?

Like Chris says, not really. Survivalists got a bad name over time, so "prepper" sounded better. In my opinion, a survivalist centers his whole life around survivalism while a prepper only prepares on top of regular life. it seems however that the term prepper has taken over.

Quote
On HF cw, is there a Prepper calling frequency?
No, but the QRP calling frequencies would probably be used, like 3560, 7030, 10106 and 14060kHz. There are frequencies used by AmRRON: https://amrron.com. I personally have been thinking about proposing 7100kHz all modes...

Gil.

Jim Boswell

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 03:55:10 PM »
Mary, several good points there. I suggest you mention scanners and shortwave receivers. Scanners to know what is happening in your local area and short wave receivers to hear what is going on in the outside world. Knowing what is going one near you is more important than talking to someone. Consider this, every time you transmit a signal someone could be homing in on your signal. This could be a large factor if a prepper instance extended over 1 month.        Several time I year I warn hams not to discuss personal issues on the local repeater as anyone with a scanner can hear what they say. Something to consider if Joe is leaving town for 2 weeks. Yes, power is a factor, also consider covert antennas. Wire strung through the trees 10 feet off the ground is hard to see. In a prepper instance a big tower just screams RADIOS TO STEAL HERE! Good Luck, 73'S  KA5SIW

htfiremedic

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2017, 07:14:39 PM »
I like this topic. I became a ham before I began to prep.  I now try to add something to my preps as often as possible.  Life is really kicking me around right now.   I cannot seem to make the choices coincide with the $$.
I, along with several others, have a MAG of sorts using Ham. 
I am a tech, but looking to get General.   I have a cheap 10m rig, love the 6 and use 2, 6 m and 80cm most.
I have OLD and new units.  One is a Radio Shack 2m that I use as a base, and I am working to build a mobile repeater setup for shtf and emergency work both. 
The best thing is to give the the +/- of each band.  Cheap radios are great for someone planning to lose/destroy on occasion.  High quality should be used on at least 1HT and Mobile/Base.  I have a stack of unused items, that are being prepared for LTS.   
Heck I even have a few CB's around.
Good luck!

km4mcm

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 12:35:20 AM »
Midland has a new gmrs offering. It's a 40 mobile I'm not sure but I here it has some gmrs repeaters preprogrammed.

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Re: Ham Radio ABC's for Preppers
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 12:35:20 AM »