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Messages - new2ham2020


I'm completely new to HAM/"Amateur" radio and I'm thinking of getting into the hobby for disaster preparedness (probably an extended "grid down" scenario where phones and the Internet don't work and maybe an electromagnetic pulse has damaged repeater infrastructure).

My use for HAM would be long-distance voice communications, between fixed locations (as much as 1500-2000 miles apart, in the Lower 48 states).

I would be transmitting and receiving from either:
Northeast Washington to either Northeast Indiana or Southwest West Virginia (appx. 2000 miles)
Northeast Washington to Southern California (appx. 1500 miles)
Northeast Indiana to Southwest W. Virginia (appx. 400 miles)

I have read conflicting information about the ability of HAM radio to transmit over long distances and be received clearly.

Some websites indicate HAM can reach thousands of miles away, but only under certain atmospheric conditions or using 3rd-party resources like repeaters and the Internet. Others say it can reach 100-600 miles more likely (without repeaters). I don't want to have to rely on other people's infrastructure for my communications, or else I would probably buy a satellite phone.

Would HAM actually be reliable and predictable to have the signal travel that far and be clearly understood by the recipient, without using other infrastructure?

What would I likely need in order to do that? Would I need a massive antenna tower at each end (100'+ in height)?

If you could provide me any more information that would be helpful, I would appreciate it!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post.