TEOTWAWKI Radio - Your Expectations?

Started by RadioRay, December 10, 2012, 02:24:58 pm

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December 10, 2012, 02:24:58 pm Last Edit: December 10, 2012, 04:24:17 pm by RadioRay
Assuming the loss of commercial infrastructure, with internet being first on the list, what are your expectations and 'wants' from the use of ham radio and radio in general?

Local Information:  For me, the first use of radio is for information from farther than I can personally see. This begins with 2 meter radio for local information.  However, my use of 2 meters is very limited because in this area, it's barely used at all.

National Information: The simplest form of mind control is to control what goes INTO the mind. By now, you've probably at least strongly suspected that The Mass Media is a very shallow and glitzy control mechanism for the generally dumbed-down public. As a people, we know more about "Desperate Housewives" and the NFL (the National Felons Legion)than we do about the noose that national and global politicians are cinching ever more tightly around our few remaining freedoms. We've been conditioned to think in sound bites and 'go with' whoever spliced together the best 5 - 10 second infomercial foisted upon us as news reporting, rather than requiring actual indepth reporting within an historical context.  As an example: most of our population wanted to go to war against Iraq as 'payback for 9/11' even though Iraq had nothing to do with it.  Now the public wants to turn Iran into a 'glass parking lot' because the TV says so, though most Americans can't find Iran on a map and don't know a thing about the Persians who have lived there for more than three thousand years.

This is where listening to shortwave radio comes in: 

#1 : Every broadcaster has an agenda, but by being able to listen to many, entirely different points of view on the news about our nation and the world via the foreign media, you're much more likley to be able to decide what is REALLY happening by reading between the lines.  I learn more about international and national crop failures, monetary policies and their effects from INTERNATIONAL broadcasters, than I ever do from the talking heads and 'press-titutes' of the domestic media.  It also helps in gaining more of a world view to understand that we've been lied to on may occasions and on most topics. Listening to the same topics via Radio Japan, Red Line frm the Voice of Russia, Deutche Welle (Germany)  and etc. makes for interesting 'information fusion sessions' with friends.

#2 : Being an old Cold Warrior, I never forget the use of shortwave radio to reach the millions who lived under Soviet occupation behind the Iron Curtain. Despite the power of the massive central State, millions listened to the outside world via UNTRACEABLE shortwave radio.  The internet is a wonderful tool that I believe is as pivotal as the invention of the printing press,. However, the internet IS a government system at it's core and by it's very nature, designed to be a tracing & collating mechanism.  Shortwave radio however, flows across borders and listeners can be very anon.  This might prove to be very handy later.

#3 : HF ham radio is a great way to communicate across an entire region - like in State and also across a continent, even internationally.  In talking with hams in the areas struck by post tropical cyclone Sandy, it was soon evident that the news media did NOT meantion many of the politically embarassing things which these real people on the ground were first hand witnesses to.   The direct conversations about power, water and domestic services being disrupted, looters being coddled, while homeowners were identified then charged with 'crimes' because because of their being seen on TV footage of them bearing bats, bows and pipes for the better pat of a month, when entire sections of the city just a 1/4 mile away were lit-up like - welllll like BROADWAY, was a clear indication of many things - none of them good.

So - there's a start. Let's get a discussion going about what YOU want, need or aspire to in radio and maybe a little bit about how you plan to do it.

de RadioRay ..._ ._

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


Am tracking with you on many things, both background & way forward.
Deserves more than a quick post from work.


Quote from: RadioRay on December 10, 2012, 02:24:58 pm
Assuming the loss of commercial infrastructure, with internet being first on the list,...
de RadioRay ..._ ._
I abhor the standard MDMP (Military Decision Making Process) because it demands one make assumptions from the start, when there are likely not enough dots to connect, nor does one know whether one has gathered sufficient dots in the first place. I have a different method that seems to work for me so I'll ask:

1.  Are you proposing that internet access would be the first thing to go (branch: did it go peacefully because something supporting it is down or screaming because of a conscious human act?)


2. You're mentioning it in critical infrastructure because it's pretty much first on the list of amenities that the general populace feels they can't do without? (branch: If not, what else could go that would have more impact on radio operators specifically?)

Gotta run, still ruminating; in fact, double ruminating.  Nice start Ray.

Informational needs, hmmm.


Quote from: KC9TNH on December 10, 2012, 07:03:19 pm

I abhor the standard MDMP (Military Decision Making Process) because it demands one make assumptions from the start, when there are likely not enough dots to connect, nor does one know whether one has gathered sufficient dots in the first place.

Well that's a big part of why I like to include ham radio in my planning processes.

It's not only the first "M" in MDMP that affects the population; it's also the various government relief (?) agencies and NGOs that don't have it right in the first place.

Have WHAT right?  Well, for one thing, the use of ham radio to support their efforts.  Who's the big winner?  Local, State and Federal agencies, but not the population.  It seems to be "US" vs "U.S."

Think of all the billions and billions spent to continue the government after SHTF.  Think of the local Sheriff's Office "communications" vans.  Million dollar State Motor homes too.  Who do they communicate FOR?  Themselves.  Interoperability and all that. Lots of ham radios in those vehicles, frequently.

I find it refreshing that groups like this one rarely talk much about using their radios to support ARES, RACES and such.  Rather, it appears that we tend to worry about ourselves, each other, our families first.  Good.

73 de Luck, WA4STO


Wholeheartedly in agreement with Ray.

I have 2m capability, FM and SSB. There are repeaters around my location, but I would not expect them to stay on for long. Probably no longer than a week. People are not going to risk their lives to maintain a repeater. Still, 2m I believe is good to have for local chatter and warnings. Those radios are cheap and you can get a brand new 75W FM radio for less than $200; sold!

As far as HF and SW, I want to know what's going on... Maybe I'll want to report on the situation as well.

My take on equipment is: The simpler the better. Small radios, small batteries, small solar panel. SMALL! Complex technology goes first. For me that means no computer. Too much overhead, too big. I have a solar scientific calculator in a tin can, and that's it. Generators won't work without gas, and gas would run out really fast. So I won't bother with a generator at all.

I want to build a network of friends on the air, for morale boosting and information collecting. Just being able to ask "what have you heard?" is of great importance.

Ray and I have been successful in establishing daily contacts. Anybody else?

I suggest that we all connect to each other on the air. CW if possible, SSB if not. Even digital. Morse code can't be beat for simplicity and efficiency.

That's what I expect in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I expect to hear from you guys!



I'm blessed that over time I've acquired an assortment of "stuff." Other than some things in the "it might be nice" category, I can go big all the way down to 1/2w on the 817. (In fact, if you're close enough I'll hand you a field-phone & tell you to march back home trailing some wire.) This is with various things, in various sizes & means of portability (or not), depending upon whether I need to shelter-in, relocate to a more tenable piece of ground, or bug-out completely, AMF. Those capabilities are situation-dependent.

It matters whether I'm staying, going, hanging-in to develop the situation... don't know. I can neither plan nor spend my way into every solution for every event. It is not feasible in my world where resources are finite when they run up against real-life, right now. So I have to evaluate against the most likely (and credible) threats to me & mine. They generally fall into 2 or 3 categories, mostly 2 but the third is in there because the consequences are huge.*

I already have multiple means of contacting a close handful of like-minded folks in the area, one of whom has a tenable piece of property should shelter-in not be workable. Those close-in, who I can get to if they need me, or vice versa, are who I care about FIRST in a tactical sense. It's an expanding circle. I can reach these folks via at least 2 other means not part of the "typical" infrastructure. We stay in contact; if not, someone's gonna reach out to the other to find out what's up. Just 'cause.

Information - reliable information - is what I need really to aid in decision-making. Lots of it. If I don't have noBS sources, I have to get a bunch of dots, the more the better, and connect them & see if they fit with ground truth. As Ray said, there are lots of source, although fewer each year due to reliance on the internet to the masses. But it's still out there. Spend some time listening to short-wave. In terms of natural events, learn what nets fire up that are at least worth listening to, even as background music. And, sorry, as much as I love CW and how well it plays, in a non-hostile non-MadMax situation you will need to be playing SSB if you want to be eliciting information from many of these. Besides, interacting with a net that has its ducks in a row is good practice.

Information, intel, whatever you want to call it, it drives our decisions. My scanner doesn't just have NOAA Wx and the PD & FD on it. I've got the guys running snowplows (local public works freqs are great sometimes), ER talking to the Med-Flight. It's not on all the time but it can be.

So I'm gonna suck information in like a vacuum cleaner. It's collect sufficient dots time.

(Later, it may be time to be able to transmit some truth outward.  Especially if the dots we're collecting tell us that others we might need are getting a distorted picture of what's happening. Like a bunch of unruly people portrayed on the lame-stream media, really just trying to defend their property while NBPP in front of the polling place gets a pass.)
* If you've seen the movie Field of Dreams you remember this conversation:

Shoeless Joe Jackson: The first two were high and tight, so where do you think the next one's gonna be?
Archie Graham: Well, either low and away, or in my ear.
Shoeless Joe Jackson: He's not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away.
Archie Graham: Right.
Shoeless Joe Jackson: But watch out for in your ear.

"in your ear" = These are plans and preparations where there has been widespread civil breakdown and the rule of law is long gone. Not part of my discussion here.


December 11, 2012, 12:54:32 am #6 Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 02:22:17 am by RadioRay
More on this later from me, but for right now.

1. Internet is too dangerous to not be tightly controlled - eventually. IMHO.

2. Internet is one of the first things to die in my local emergencies, but YMMV.

3. If it's all operating, then we probably do not have a 'communications emergency', just an emergency, so cellphones, Internet and etc. are all players.

4. Cellphones become unusable in even minor emergencies due to 'selective availability' which is a FEATURE that gives priority to those who are on 'the list' that is: politicians their concubines.  My wife and I were without cell phone and even texting during last year's laughably weak Virginia earthquake. Everyone hit the phones and they are only designed for a low to moderate percentage of people on them at the same time.

5. Generally, there is nothing inherently bad about being independent in your comms, but it CAN be bad if you are not.

CW:  Cw is the excellent baseline for all other communications.  Outside of commercial communications systems like cellphones and etc. a QRP rig of a few Watts allows more bang for the buck than just about anything else going.  It is your baseline/fall-back/JIC comms . . . If you desire more throughput, or more 'common' contact, then voice is fine, but you'll suffer in much larger equipment & power requirements for the ease of speaking rather than sending code under the same conditions.  Even for data networks, I'd HIGHLY recommend a CW back-up. Gil & I have been tapping CW in our skeds at power levels from 14 Watts down to 200 milliWatts, using a non-optimal wire antenna on my end and a combination of ultra-lite/compact packable antennas and the classic "W.O.W. Antenna" (Wire Out Window) . We use CW to coordinate other testing, like 'Let's Try Voice' which always sends us scurrying back to the reliable CW.  Look at the pics of Gil's Mantiz QRP rig, then look at the smallest voice rig of atleast ten times the power requirement. It CAN be done, but it's a drag.

>>> If you are bugging IN and have already set-up enough alt-power, then voice looks better, but I'd still use CW for passing printed nessage when there is no computer. If there was a NEED to use voice -like joining specific voice nets worth participating in- then it can be handy.

QQQ: What do you want to send/receive?  Do you need a HIGH volume of traffic, or relibility and portability for SITREPS and 20-50 word text messages, or a nice 'rag-chew' about current events?

Well - time for a nip of Nassau Royale (possibly the LAST bottle in Virginia !!!  >:(  ) then off to Zzzz!  I have a BIG DAY of stringing wire tomorrow!!

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


For those who don't want to learn Morse code, there is always this: http://k1el.tripod.com/K42_C.html. When the going gets rough though, my brain can pull the code out of the noise much better. It's a neat little kit. I might get one if I ever go out in the boonies with buddies who don't know code. So if I'm the one mauled by the bear, they can call for help!

I took a new photo of the Mantiz, I'll attach it here. My review is here: http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,298.0.html

Since CW is the last resort, simplest and one of the most reliable solution, I just went with that.. If Ray and I had not known Morse and tried SSB, we would still be trying, be very frustrated and not successful. Had I beed calling for a real emergency, I would have been long dead. This is why HF voice requires carrying a whole lot more weight. I can see it with my K2, too big to take anywhere on foot, and I would have to get a battery one size over.. My K1, or a KX3 would be the biggest radio I'd be willing to carry, period.

If the power went out, for a long time, current-hungry Ham radios will not operate for very long. It will be too late then to learn Morse code. You won't have two months of leisure time to practice. My little 2.9Ah battery doesn't need a big solar panel. I can charge it during the day and be on the air every night for months, years if I buy spares. By then, I would have learned to build my own batteries. Relying on repeaters or any radio powered by your 120V house circuit is not a good option. Solar, wind, or any other constant sources of electricity are a must, even human-powered. You wouldn't need to be Lance Armstrong to power a QRP rig with a bicycle-mounted generator. You could even have a circuit with a capacitor that shocks the cyclist when the voltage drops too low..  ::)

I have been slacking off with the Radiopreppers net on Sundays, and I want to revive that... We'll start with CW, then half an hour later or so, SSB. I am sure it will become quickly apparent that SSB isn't going to cut it.

In my opinion, digital modes are great, but it is more of an "in-shack" option. Every little gizmo you add uses more current. First, those modes are high-duty-cycle. You must feed the interface, the computer, the screen, and of course the radio, which has to be an SSB model. It's a lot of stuff, lots of cables, big batteries. If you're bugging-in and have a giant gasoline tank and a generator, you might be operating for some time. When the gas runs out or goes bad, you're SK. Generators are noisy, they draw attention. You get the CW coder/decoder mentioned above, and you have a digital mode right there that plugs into your QRP radio! AND you can talk to people who don't use it as a digital mode. Maybe it's an "organic mode"  :o

What I expect is that if things go bad, they can get really bad really fast. We're not talking about being two weeks out of electricity because of a storm here... It's important to think of it that way. My Systema instructor used to say: "You can go learn any decent martial art and be able to handle 95% of attackers. We train for the remaining 5%!" So, do we prepare for the 95% of situations, or the 5%? I am already prepared for the 95%. The rest, I am not.. Not yet anyway. For that, I believe you must go "lean." Only consider the simplest and most efficient gear and training. Drop anything that might not work or requires too much stuff. Reduce the number of variables to be able to control the situation.

All right, time for bed. Ya'll have a good night  :)



Quote from: gil on December 11, 2012, 02:05:11 amWe're not talking about being two weeks out of electricity because of a storm here...
OK, so you have just set the parameters of the discussion. The collegial emphasis seems to be on bugging out at a high rate with continued movement due to high possibility of pursuit. Pocket CW being the ticket...

Nearby piece of property of high elevation is available for me. But I'm not runnin'. In terms of un-assing the area completely, it may be more like "stack mags, this is the Alamo." Someone who is a caregiver to a loved one may be in a similar situation or worse. Everyone has their personal tipping point. Hard to know yet, from what's described, when that may come into play.

But I'll be sending when I can, stay tuned. It could be sporty, so I might be busy.

Meanwhile, realistic training deltas for me to fill:

- continue building local human resources with multiple capabilities
- continue investigating alternative power sources for the Alamo.
- take a welding class (always wanted to do that)


December 11, 2012, 09:40:17 am #9 Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 10:41:15 am by RadioRay
Except for in the most extreme, I am not planning to be on the move. I am building my little patch of ground here on this rural peninsula into a water, food and comforts producing cornucopia a few steps at a time. While I USED TO bound through the mountains of the American West like the tiger, sleep in snow caves and live using little more than my knife , a coffee can and my fur-lined-jock-strap.  Those days are gone for me. These days, my biggest ally is God and location - in that order.

Personally- rather than focus narrowly, hoping to develop an action plan for one specific scenario, it might serve us well to discuss TEOTWAWKI Radio in the various contextS which come to mind. For one, it might be a sudden avalanche of services, leading to the usual suspects taking to the streets and declining into a Mad Max situation, to something as mundane as the economic depression continuing to chip away, with the politicians using ever expanding wars to hold on to their positions of power.  Or -  maybe all this "CHANGE" will indeed turn the USA into a worker's paradise and we can all live in communal nirvana...  //yeaaaaaaah riiiiiiight//


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


Bugging out is the last thing I'd want to do. I wouldn't even know where to go. Away from the city probably, but then what? Yet, I want to consider the worst case scenario, which would be on foot with a backpack. That when that QRP stuff shines...



Quote from: RadioRay on December 11, 2012, 09:40:17 amPersonally- rather than focus narrowly, hoping to develop an action plan for one specific scenario, it might serve us well to discuss TEOTWAWKI Radio in the various contextS which come to mind.
Da. In that case, one kulak to another - and acknowledging that super-lightweight solar-renewable CW is a worthy on-the-run or even walkabout capability - back to the much larger middle ground.

I take it by "avalanche of services" you mean the big snowy-covered hillside of free-stuff just all fell into the crevasse.  ;D

Information I need to foment decision making. Potential sources of that information are:

- Ray already specifically called out the (sadly diminishing) capability of shortwave broadcasts but they're still out there.
- All the area emergency channels, and their alternates.

The recent snowfall this weekend, which was heavier, icier, and stayed longer than forecast, created situations where EVERY LE person was running from one end of the county to the other with at least 4 locations pending on their console notebook of slide-ins, accidents, etc. Wrecker services in-city and out were completely committed. Getting this picture may help decide whether to wait, or grab the truck & snap-strap to yank a kid out of the ditch -OR- understand that the roving bad boys are down the street doing dangerous levels of vandalism and when minutes or seconds count, the peace officers are an hour away, ALL of them, providing pretty-light cover to wreckers.

The above is not meant to steer anything specifically to weather-related issues. It's an example of how INFORMATION may inform our behavior.

So what are some other potential sources of information that may affect our decision-making; either radio-based leading to other actions, or other sources that lead to radio-centric actions?

Back to the gulag.


Quote from: KC9TNH on December 11, 2012, 12:50:42 pm


yadda yadda


This brings up the ever-interesting topic of 'broadcasting' on amateur radio.  Broadcasting is, of course, not allowed by the Part 97 regulations.

However, there are 8 or so lives that the cat can be skinned for.

I've sent many a broadcast on 2 meter fm.  Usually via RTTY although I'd sure like to know if PSK63 can be used.

The key to not running afoul of the regs is to always be transmitting within a QSO.  So the above-mentioned broadcast would be modified like so:


yadda yadda


End of story.

But wait, there's more.

Part of  our preparations is often to do with getting the word out to local relatives, friends, and neighbors.  That's why I use 2 meter FM.  All the neighbor needs is an old Bearcat scanner and a soundcard in their PC.  That would place the pre-shtf broadcasts in a very nice 'training' scenario:


Common preparations for disaster scenarios include the ability to run your scanner and laptop via batteries.  Are you prepared that way?



If practiced regularly (say once a week at a known time, a known day, and a known mode) you end up discovering more (sometimes MANY more) like-minded folks.

73 de Luck, WA4STO


December 11, 2012, 02:01:43 pm #13 Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 04:24:04 pm by RadioRay
Broadcasting is a funny thing.  I mean - if I TRY to send a bulletin to a Buddy and many others happen to know the freq/time to monitor it - is it 'broadcasting'? 

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


(drive-by post)
Check Title 47 Par 97.1 as specifically relates to the roles of the amateur radio SERVICE. I think you'll find that  one is on solid ground with, and has pretty good latitude, regarding matters of safety for reporting of any emergency conditions.