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swxx:
If we look at a few logical points: in the event of a Major World Event the break down of communications which have never been so centralised in all history, dependent upon a few important nodes on the internet and satellites, and the fact that these will almost certainly collapse in the event of a major disaster such as a nuclear war, or a major environmental or other catastrophe, then we know that the most likely communications to survive long-term is low-power and predominantly CW communications.

However, with low power and modest antennas (forget 7 element yagis up 30m post TEOTWAWKI) the reality is that even on CW communications will only be reliable, especially for the many coming years of this solar cycle minimum, only for one or two hop E or F layer propagation. Before anyone says ahh but I often work DX using 5W on HF, yes indeed, but not to other QRP and with both sides being QRP also in antenna terms. In this case, during solar minimum, and on frequencies below 10, 12, 15 and 17m (which are not so often open), it is not at all easy and certainly not reliable to have communications beyond a couple of F layer hops or 3,000km or 3,000 miles.

So, let us consider, post TEOTWAWKI, with all broadcast stations on HF either off air or just broadcasting unreliable information or propaganda, how would one get information from OTHER parts of the world, from citizens, using QRP? There are several problems that will make that a very sporadic, difficult and hit and miss affair: days and weeks of endless trying! If you have to listen for 3 weeks to find some news from Australia while you are in Europe, and if you have to transmit for a total of 10 hours to get one single message through to a distant location (calling, calling, repeating, failing, re-arranging etc) then let us calculate: 10 hours of TX at 500mA = 5Ah. 3 weeks of RX at 100mA = at least 33A assuming 16 hours a day desperate listening around. If you had 100W and a 7ele Yagi up 30m, you could likely have done all this with a saving in power! BUT we do NOT have that luxury and we have to prepare accordingly.

For many of us, it is not just important to find out what is happening 10km, 100km, 1000km away, important as that naturally would be, but also, to find out whether there are other parts of the world that are in better shape, loved ones in remote parts of the world may they still be alive (not about getting through to them specifically, that would likely be impossible without normal communications infrastructure working, but just to know whether all of America was wiped off the face of the earth or not, is Australia still an island afloat, is Africa a place to head for from Europe or should it be Scandinavia, etc). So how do we do long distance communications reliably and effectively with QRP power and QRP antennas? VIA RELAYS.

If we have a network of stations running QRP who are one or at most two hops apart, who have pre-arranged schedules, nets, frequencies, and above all procedures and skill in sending, receiving and relaying written messages, then we are able to do this, if we do not, we really are not able to do this.

It is a generally much overlooked reality that on CW "Chinese Whispers" is doomed to failure. Passing a message even with one relay between almost all radio amateurs ends with the message being incomplete or changed. ONLY those who have previous professional experience in formal messaging, and even they are often having no experience of relaying messages, and particularly those radio amateurs who have sufficient experience in "traffic nets" are able to do so. It is very common for "good CW Operators" to think that if SHTF they will be able to relay messages: the reality, proven time and again, is that when they hear <CT> they don't grab a pen and write down, and even if they do, they do not know how to efficiently get fills for missing letters and words, how to check whether the message they have is actually accurate or not, how to avoid confusion in poor Signal-to-Noise Ratio, QSB, QRM, etc. All this is really only learned by on air training in the art.

It would be very good for Radio Preppers to form some new, or join, some existing CW traffic nets, and to start building a relay bridge that can potentially span the globe.

Let us consider some human realities: in a SHTF most of us are not going to be altruistic, willing to use up our batteries passing messages for others! Most if not all of us are going to want INCOMING information, and less willing to give OUTGOING information (which is required for incoming information elsewhere) and almost no one is going to be willing to RELAY information between two OTHER stations. Most will be listening, few willing to send. So HOW do we overcome that? Quite simple! BENEFIT.

If you act as a relay and take part in such a network, you benefit by getting information that you will only get, if you participate and in return, you too are able to send and receive information. By just listening, sure, you will pick some up, but there will be many gaps, incomplete messages, and you won't be entitled to just come on air and ask for this and that repeats and information if you are not yourself an active participant helping the others.

What I'm talking of here though is not an ordinary traffic net, but a relay network. Not everyone is necessarily on the same frequency at the same time. But each sked is to a single hop destination in different directions. A system to route messages is required. A format for the messages to avoid confusion and to ensure reliability. A procedure to ensure accuracy of count, and to find out which word is missing without an entire repeat. I am not going to, here right now, give all that information, you can find it at sites such as Communicators Without Borders and Radio Relay International.

What I am advocating here is that we can start thinking of some training frequencies and skeds to practice and to build up ROUTES along which messages and thus information can be relayed. A difficult task for example: from Europe to Australia. From Australia to South America. Using QRP and simple wire antennas, via relays. Even with 7ele yagi and 1kW, the path from Australia to much of South America is currently very difficult.

So perhaps we can discuss some ideas on how we could practice these things, outside of North America and Australia where such networks exist, what do we do in Europe (so many amateurs but no such traffic nets I believe) and Asia, Africa, Latin America. Among us we may already be enough to stat building such bridges. For long distance reliable single or double hop, we are mainly looking at 40, 30 and 20m. Any ideas on how we can proceed? Are there existing networks we can join, train in and extend? Or do we need new ones that can interface with existing ones?

cockpitbob:
swxx, very nice post.  You make valid points.  Though actually agreeing to, and sticking to skeds will be the hardest, I think having procedures is the first order of business.  Traffic handling is such an old and established art that we shouldn't have to invent anything.  There must be web pages and .pdfs available to us to find the standard traffic net procedures.  Do you have any recommendations? 

scarr:
Again, I'm totally up for being involved in this - but as cockpitbob says, actually agreeing to and sticking to skeds will be interesting....

The most frustrating part of amateur radio  for me has been trying to organise skeds for comms practice. 99% of my QSO's are random contacts.

I'm not preparing for the apocalypse - I just think passing messages to/from trusted contacts using set formats, bandplans etc. is a skillset all amateur radio ops should have, but very few do or have an interest in.

cockpitbob:

--- Quote from: scarr on August 28, 2017, 04:10:30 PM ---The most frustrating part of amateur radio  for me has been trying to organise skeds for comms practice. 99% of my QSO's are random contacts.

--- End quote ---
And I'll probably be part of that frustration.  Tough job, wife, kids, house, yard irregular dinner hours...  ::) .  I confess to being pretty undependable with regards to skeds. :(

scarr:

--- Quote from: cockpitbob on August 28, 2017, 04:25:55 PM ---
--- Quote from: scarr on August 28, 2017, 04:10:30 PM ---The most frustrating part of amateur radio  for me has been trying to organise skeds for comms practice. 99% of my QSO's are random contacts.

--- End quote ---
And I'll probably be part of that frustration.  Tough job, wife, kids, house, yard irregular dinner hours...  ::) .  I confess to being pretty undependable with regards to skeds. :(

--- End quote ---

Hah - we're all guilty of it, I'm in the same boat and just can't get near the radio at certain times.

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