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Author Topic: Speaking of Disasters . . .  (Read 9628 times)

RadioRay

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Speaking of Disasters . . .
« on: February 16, 2013, 09:43:32 AM »
For those who tell you that alternate communications methods for disaster preparedness is silly or paranoid, consider this...

Yesterday, Gil and I were using highly portable HF radio transceivers slightly larger than a paperback book, to hold a conversation in Morse code while over 800 miles apart and the topic of this discussion was . . . . . //waaaaaait for it . . . .//  the damage , injuries and disruption of infrastructure as a result of the recent meteor strike(s) in south eastern Russia.  Now, if that is not a page out of an apocolyptic novel, I do not know what is. I mean - a METEOR STRIKE?  What do you figure the ODDS of THAT happening?

 

Folks - we're 'there'.  IT's game ON, because even the most improbable things can and are happening. Having a 'hobby/mania' like ham radio gives you the skills and hardware for use as a serious TOOL when things go BOING!   Have FUN on the radio, but remember to make it relevant to actual USE during a disruption of commercial infrastructure, such as loss of power, loss of internet, loss of (GASP!) cellphones . . . Anyone who tries to tell you that 'That can't happen' is trying to sell you something - and THAT 'something' is widely available in any barnyard by the shovelfull.



Maybe we'll go for the next 50 years without any 'disaster' - but that's not likely AAAAND maybe those politicians will take excellent care of us if there IS a disaster.  However, you might consider asking the people of Staten Island about how well they were taken care of ???    >:(  >:(  >:(   

Yeah - I thought so -    ::)

I can remember a decade and a half ago, the non-event of Y2K was most Americans' first encounter with a disaster centered  'what if?' thinking and planning in large numbers - at least since the H-bomb scares. Suddenly even late thirties hippie chicks were soliciting the thoughts of 'survivalists' in their planning. 
 :-* :-* :-* :-* :-*  8)  :-* :-* :-* :-* :-*   //It was a good time in my life...   ;)   //


Ten years after that, it was 9/11, planes flying into buildings, anthrax in the mail, talk of duck tape and plastic to turn our houses into HEPA filtered/overpressure protection chambers (or asphixiation chambers, if you did what FEMA said and had simply sealed everything in plastic with NO filtered air in or 'used' air out . . . ) and now meteor strikes, like in some Hollyweird movie.

So - it's been done in real life and it's here on this site: hams discussing meteor strikes which resulted in over a thousand injured.  (Note: the meteor did the injury, not the ham contact - we actually injured nobody...)

I remember the words of a long distance sailor who made certain that sailors who read his book were prepared for eventual capsize (it WILL happen) because just about every other page there was this note:

"Think Inverted!"

I would offer YOU the same advice, but about society and it's niceties in general.

THINK INVERTED!

>de RadioRay ..._ ._
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 10:00:57 AM by RadioRay »
"When we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can."  ~ Matthew Henry

WA4STO

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2013, 10:58:22 AM »
Ray - you're SO right on.

I've recently become involved again (after decades of NOT being involved) with the structured, heirarchal aspects of the Amateur Radio Service.

That change in operating interests has caused me to totally rethink what it is that I'm trying to accomplish.  Thus, my move in two weeks will focus NOT on the fun aspects but much more on the utilitarian aspects.

I've "dun fun" and that was cool.  Now,  I'll no longer be caring about the DX that I might be able to work on 10 and 15 meters, but rather, how many additional  Pactor I network nodes or many many more WINLINK nodes I'll be able to reliably (24/7 without exception) interface with.

Me, I've long ago given up wondering about cataclysmic events happening.  They do and they will.  Any more and it's a matter of my providing off-grid, off-internet reliable communications to more and more individuals, more and more groups, and more and more who-knows-what that may/will come to need our skills.


Down with the verticals; up with the NVIS full-wave loops!  :)



73 de WA4STO

gil

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2013, 11:23:52 AM »
Quote
loss of (GASP!) cellphones . . .

There is always texting  ::)

Watching current TV shows (without a TV  :o ), I can see some changes. I was watching "The Walking Dead," in which one character who survived says "We stayed with that guy who we thought was crazy but he had a bunker and supplies, he knew..." Or something to that effect.. Hell, a survival store opened in my town, first one ever, recently. I wouldn't be surprised if movies pop up in which some prepper saved the day.. Mark my word.

Yet, most don't see it. Especially women. I remember my ex girlfriend joking with her friend about that woman's husband who is a prepper. I tried to explain why it was a good idea, but it fell on deaf ears. I would almost hope for a SHTF situation just to be proven right But I can't wish for that, I know it would suck more than my bruised ego.

I try to give all my areas of preparation the same budget. It goes in waves. I am finishing a radio streak, entering a camping gear phase right now.. Great thing is, I can combine the two activities!

The problem with our current technology is that is is brand new. We discovered electricity, made tubes, then quickly transistors and microprocessors. We're still evolving very quickly. I mean, look at an iPhone! Yet, we have not experienced any large scale failure of technology. Well, not global or Nationwide anyway. I am sure the people from Fukushima would argue the point. When I built my radios, I had to ground myself.. Imagine that.. You touch the little gizmos and they fry.. What does that tell you? It wouldn't take much to send us all back to the 1850s (which coincidentally I am reading about right now). Look at a World population chart and how the graph shoots straight up as soon as we started using oil and electricity.. Remove those and the graph line will plunge to it's previous natural level.

We may all have some fantasy of thriving in a Mad Max landscape, rescuing maidens and reorganizing society with our knowledge. Be the "Postman" (by David Brin) with our radios.. Nothing wrong with a bit of dreaming. In truth all we want is not to die and not be hungry, cold and scared all the time, know what's going on. Radio certainly is an important part of achieving some of those goals. Food, security, medicine, shelter, we all know the music, we're just learning to dance. Problem is, many poeple, including the ones close to us sometimes don't hear the music. It might seem crazy to dance without music to some... Certainly it does no harm. We would be so lucky if that music was only in our head. It just takes a good hit on a big drum, like in Ural to remind us we're right, and get some to start taping their foot. Just invite them to the bal, but don't start too fast..

Ah, time for my sked with Ray on 20m... You guys have a great week-end,

Gil.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 11:27:55 AM by gil »

Geek

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2013, 12:14:50 PM »

a survival store opened in my town, first one ever, recently. I wouldn't be surprised if movies pop up in which some prepper saved the day.. Mark my word.

Yet, most don't see it. Especially women. I remember my ex girlfriend joking with her friend about that woman's husband who is a prepper. I tried to explain why it was a good idea, but it fell on deaf ears. I would almost hope for a SHTF situation just to be proven right But I can't wish for that, I know it would suck more than my bruised ego.

I try to give all my areas of preparation the same budget. It goes in waves. I am finishing a radio streak, entering a camping gear phase right now.. Great thing is, I can combine the two activities!


We had a survival store open up recently too.  I don't know if the guy is making any money, but I hope he does okay.

My wife and daughters don't get it.  They have been tolerating it as just something I am a bit eccentric about.  However, since Sandy rolled through here and we had power while everyone around us didn't, they agreed that what I was doing had really made a difference.  That hasn't been enough for them to get into it, but I think they are beyond tolerating and now actually appreciate that I am doing something for their welfare.

Speaking of the waves of spending, I try to keep it "balanced" in terms of how long could I go without any type of resupply.  If I have enough food for months and fuel for a week, it is time to work on fuel.  At the moment I feel communications is my worst weakness, which is why I am here.

White Tiger

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2013, 01:52:04 PM »
Had the "eyes" of 4 hurricanes pass very near my home (two over my roof) in one hurricane season...we saw intermittent power outages in the area for weeks - which that made for some long evenings. Two of those storms reached full strength and made landfall within 30 miles of each other - smashing into the Gulf Coast where some of my family live. They didn't hear from me...then I couldn't get through to them...for several weeks.

Luckily, by the time we cooked all of our meat on the grille, and worked through the rest of the food in our pantry - power was back up and everything got back to normal. My folks up north were out of power for 30 days. That is a lot harder to deal with. Some of us decided it was time to build up storm supplies.

Then the economy started tanking...while I didn't lose my job...many around me did - that's when I expanded prepping from having a 2-3 month supply of food, energy, water...to over a year's supply for each member of my family.

I am beginning to see the reason in doing the same for my communication prepps...just still not sure that I like the idea of putting myself under some emergency coordinators "command" (i.e., ARES or similar)...

In order to pass traffic in times of chaos...do you have to be affiliated with one of these groups?
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

Geek

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2013, 02:22:32 PM »
Sounds like you've seen your share of hiccups like I have.  If you have supplies for a year, you are doing well.  I'm not that far along, but I am prepping for an extended family group of 16 people.  Everything seems to be multiplied.

WA4STO

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2013, 05:44:53 PM »

just still not sure that I like the idea of putting myself under some emergency coordinators "command" (i.e., ARES or similar)...

In order to pass traffic in times of chaos...do you have to be affiliated with one of these groups?

Absolutely not.

I've discovered, just in the past few weeks, that there's a whole "underground" communications structure just waiting for your use.  And by 'underground', I don't mean to imply that it's 'shady' or 'anti-government' or anything like that.

Actually, it's been in place since right around the time I was born.  I'm 64.  "will ya still need me, will ya still feed me?"  Except that, until very recently, it was only utilized by the old-style National Traffic System for old-style, very unflexible, short NTS messages.

Today, that's changed.  In some places, it's already a well - in - place structure that allows you to enter what we call "radio email" into the system and expect it to get where it's going, error-free, by way of pre-established network nodes on pre-established frequencies. 

It's managed by a well-entrenched Hierarchy of real people with a huge amount of skill.

More to your point, Tim, these amateur radio networks are not managed by Emergency Coordinators, ARES, Served Agencies, or any government group. 

You're quite fortunate, there in Florida, as there are a number of ways for your long-haul messages to be entered (by you) into these systems.  Keep that 2 meter multi-mode!  Learn about 'packet radio on VHF.  I just took delivery of not one but TWO terminal node controllers for packet; you're welcome to one, but ya gotta read up on packet first.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

73 de WA4STO


White Tiger

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Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2013, 10:03:10 PM »

just still not sure that I like the idea of putting myself under some emergency coordinators "command" (i.e., ARES or similar)...

In order to pass traffic in times of chaos...do you have to be affiliated with one of these groups?

Absolutely not.

I've discovered, just in the past few weeks, that there's a whole "underground" communications structure just waiting for your use.  And by 'underground', I don't mean to imply that it's 'shady' or 'anti-government' or anything like that.

Actually, it's been in place since right around the time I was born.  I'm 64.  "will ya still need me, will ya still feed me?"  Except that, until very recently, it was only utilized by the old-style National Traffic System for old-style, very unflexible, short NTS messages.

Today, that's changed.  In some places, it's already a well - in - place structure that allows you to enter what we call "radio email" into the system and expect it to get where it's going, error-free, by way of pre-established network nodes on pre-established frequencies.

Ok, good, you've walked me back in from the ledge....and piqued my interest!
It's managed by a well-entrenched Hierarchy of real people with a huge amount of skill.
So, is it like the Internet where servers were utilized as far away as Russia, Finland, or as "close" as Utah? Or is it managed by people...somewhere?
More to your point, Tim, these amateur radio networks are not managed by Emergency Coordinators, ARES, Served Agencies, or any government group.
Thanks Luck, As we have shared a few times, I was not looking forward to involving government in any of my processes/plans. However, being apart of a system where independent individuals pass along messages, that actually is another reason I wanted to get into radio.
You're quite fortunate, there in Florida, as there are a number of ways for your long-haul messages to be entered (by you) into these systems.  Keep that 2 meter multi-mode!  Learn about 'packet radio on VHF.  I just took delivery of not one but TWO terminal node controllers for packet; you're welcome to one, but ya gotta read up on packet first.  That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
You never cease to amaze me - I will read up on packet (even though I haven't yet finished my reading on the Signalink)!

So, what reading material do you suggest!?
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 10:30:52 PM by White Tiger »
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

WA4STO

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2013, 11:12:38 AM »

So, is it like the Internet where servers were utilized as far away as Russia, Finland, or as "close" as Utah? Or is it managed by people...


Yes to both.  The Winlink 2000 (WL2K) system does use radio-based servers, located around the world, but what I was referring to was a well-structured subgroup of WL2K that is known as NTSD.  That's "national traffic system digital".  We choose to (and have) set up our servers and nodes such that the internet is NOT utilized, since we prefer having a much greater degree of   accountability over the traffic.

In other words, I keep a spreadsheet of every single message that I originate, relay, or accept for delivery and anybody along the way can ask me what happened to that message.   

It's managed by people.  Licensed radio amateurs.  Hams. 

It's much 'closer - in' than the Russia vs. Utah scenario you mentioned above, since our goal is to allow anyone, anywhere (FCC rules and third party agreements notwithstanding) to be able to communicate into or out of a disaster or SHTF situation.

The present NTSD infrastructure presently follows the amateur radio operator demographics fairly closely, in that most of the east and west coasts have NTSD network nodes, perhaps far in excess of what's needed, although we fully expect that during and post SHTF, the numbers will drop off.  Still, there is a pretty decent percentage of us who operate from battery power and fully expect to, for the duration of most 'normal' events. 

Here in the Midwest, we have several 'major' network nodes, but when getting down to the State level, my state for example, there are none.  I have equipment coming this week to fix that, although my move and antenna changes due to the move are going to make me less than reliable for a couple of weeks, probably.

It's also important to note that  NTSD allows for local insertion (and receiving) of traffic by way of VHF (typically two meter FM digital) which is why I say that you need to keep that little Icom.

So, what reading material do you suggest!?

Durn.  You would ask that.  :)   I've introduced a number of topics there.  Tell ya what, I'll link to this particular one, if only to show that the people-management, and 'policy'  parts of NTSD is SO 'active' and strives SO hard to be what it has to be.

http://wx4j.com/MPG6V12.htm#_Toc325035795

It's something of a way-over-the-top policy-like document but again, I'm just pointing it out to you, so see if it garners any interest.  WX4J, Earl, by the way, is in Switzerland.  That's Switzerland, Florida.

As to your getting a Signalink (or not), yes, I would still suggest that.  With the SL, you'll be able to enjoy the FUN digital aspects of ham radio.  VHF packet is not one of the easy-to-do modes with the SL, but it CAN be done.  The gear I'm getting allows me to do Pactor I as well as packet for about fifty bucks.  In your case, free, if you want one of the two freebies I just got.

73 de WA4STO



White Tiger

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Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2013, 11:12:28 PM »
Sounds like you've seen your share of hiccups like I have.  If you have supplies for a year, you are doing well.  I'm not that far along, but I am prepping for an extended family group of 16 people.  Everything seems to be multiplied.
Yes, when you live in the land of hurricanes you eventually learn what vanishes first and the stuff you never seem to have enough of! I also began this trek about two years ago. I've stopped trying to get people to consider the reasons why they need to get started, and shifted to helping people who are decided its the logical move.

My local group is made up of four families, and 18 is about our number. Some in each family are prepping to one degree or another. I know some that have not stocked a full year, and I have a bit more, but then I have some family members that believe it to be the right thing to do - but don't have the means to do it themselves. I am taking some steps to plan for them, without telling them...it makes it a bit more difficult because that group can best be described as planners (not yet prepping), and they are also much further away geographically...so, for yet another reason, I am trying to plan for them...

That is why I have a dual level of communication preparedness (local and long distance coverage), and why I insist that those who are awake confront that reality. Not arguing that you need to add this - you have dealt with the question and found your interests are elsewhere - my efforts are actually to make sure everyone who IS awake at least deals with how they will verify local information post SHTF, and to have a means to pass messages/traffic to the outside world...like I said, you've dealt with that and know your purpose, I applaud you and won't bring it up again! It's kind of like stocking up on ammunition, while also learning to re-load. Some of the latter will be for others, after any type of collapse...and will be a valuable commodity afterwards as well.

I would like to hear how each of your group has taken to the idea of buying their own radios and getting their own license!? My group was long on talk, but short on action! I'm wondering if your group is further along? If so, how did you/they get them "there"?
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

White Tiger

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Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2013, 11:20:02 PM »
http://wx4j.com/MPG6V12.htm#_Toc325035795

It's something of a way-over-the-top policy-like document but again, I'm just pointing it out to you, so see if it garners any interest.  WX4J, Earl, by the way, is in Switzerland.  That's Switzerland, Florida.

Ahh...been through that area...I'll have to check my logs to see if I've heard WX4J on the 80m Florida net?! That's pretty awesome though, to know that a major personage in NTSD is so close!
As to your getting a Signalink (or not), yes, I would still suggest that.  With the SL, you'll be able to enjoy the FUN digital aspects of ham radio.  VHF packet is not one of the easy-to-do modes with the SL, but it CAN be done.  The gear I'm getting allows me to do Pactor I as well as packet for about fifty bucks.  In your case, free, if you want one of the two freebies I just got.



You know I am already interested - regarding the SL - I have the cable from Randy and I will be ordering the SL in about 2 weeks. Let me get into the information you posted and I will get back to you!

You always seem to be a couple steps ahead of the crowd, and I find that pretty awesome...if not downright prescient...
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

Geek

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2013, 07:55:24 AM »

I would like to hear how each of your group has taken to the idea of buying their own radios and getting their own license!? My group was long on talk, but short on action! I'm wondering if your group is further along? If so, how did you/they get them "there"?

My "group" is extended family.  Since I am new to this, and I am the first of the family to pursue it, all we have right now is AM/FM crank radios and FRS/GMRS radios in each BOB and a couple CBs.  Once I have gotten further along we'll obviously need to do some significant planning.  The answer to your question will depend on cost, interest of others, etc.


WA4STO

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2013, 11:24:44 AM »
Once I have gotten further along we'll obviously need to do some significant planning.  The answer to your question will depend on cost, interest of others, etc.

One thing that might help with the 'interest level' is the notion that radio amateurs can provide email to their homes, without relying on the internet, commercial electricity, cell phones, landline phones, or any of that. 

Why is that such a big whoop?  Well, if your loved ones suddenly don't HAVE the internet and they're shouting 'can you hear me now?' (they can't...) in the aftermath of an SHTF situation, they definitely CAN reach their local amateur radio network nodes to send out email inquiries to their loved ones across the country. 

They can also count on being able to inquire as to 'conditions' elsewhere.  Maybe they need to know if martial law is still in effect in Texas, or whether the blue helmets have been spotted around LAX, or whether the electricity is on in Podunk.  You get the idea.

There's a lot of ways to spark interest.  We're here to provide communications services (for free) to those in need during and after "events".  No, we're not allowed (by the Part 97 FCC regs) to conduct such comms on a REGULAR basis, so as to replace an existing commercial carrier, nor are we allowed to conduct such comms (or any comms for that matter) for the benefit of  our employers or for our own business interests.  But we sure can establish the networks (and we have) and we sure can practice (and we do), partly for the fun of doing it, and (mostly) for the utility of making stuff happen for our prepper friends and communities.

73 de "Luck" WA4STO



Geek

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2013, 11:54:21 AM »
That definitely would up the interest level.  Right now I am planning on starting with 2m band.  Do I need to be on a particular band for the email feature?  If so what band?  What other equipment will I need?

Frosty

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Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2013, 12:34:25 PM »
Well, if your loved ones suddenly don't HAVE the internet and they're shouting 'can you hear me now?' (they can't...) in the aftermath of an SHTF situation, they definitely CAN reach their local amateur radio network nodes to send out email inquiries to their loved ones across the country. 

They can also count on being able to inquire as to 'conditions' elsewhere.  Maybe they need to know if martial law is still in effect in Texas, or whether the blue helmets have been spotted around LAX, or whether the electricity is on in Podunk.  You get the idea.

While I think it's admirable that you're willing to offer your time and equipment to help others contact friends/family and provide news and information in the event of a disaster, aren't you concerned about potentially attracting a lot of visitors to your home by offering this service Luck?  Maybe I'm too paranoid, but advertising this willingness/ability, the fact that you're a prepper, and your callsign/home address publicly seems potentially dangerous in my way of thinking.  While I'd try to help others when I could, the last thing I'd want is a line of people outside my door wanting me to send messages on their behalf, or checking back for any reply messages I might have received for them.  Seems like it could have the potential to get out of control rather quickly?

Radio Preppers

Re: Speaking of Disasters . . .
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2013, 12:34:25 PM »