Educate me comm wise

Discussion in 'Communications' started by sinbad, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. sinbad

    sinbad Well-Known Member

    Part of my preps I want to get some comm equipment.

    I haven't visited any comm shop around but visting some local camping and hunting forums I see they have CB, 2-way radios and hams . Ham radio is used the most (with or without a liscence) But from what I read still some CBs are around.

    I am NOT interested to bother with liscenes so that leaves me with CB and 2-way , like a poster in another thread. But in my case, I don't know anything about comms. OK, I used a CB some 20 years ago while in the US but it was for a few weeks and that is it.

    Taking into account latest development in the comm technology and taking into account my phiolosophy of ( simpler is better ) , what would you advise me in this regard.

    I have a family with 5 kids. Living in a city ( no specific hazards but lots of urban problems). I commute daily 15 miles to and from work. Most folks have NO radios, but everyone has a cell phone. Road is OK. However, in a big disaster will turn into a nightmare. More than a nightmare. I have a GHB but no comms other than cell phone.

    Everyone in my family has a cell phone including my 10 years old.
    When I am nervous I usually grab my old (working) cell phone as a backup.

    Any suggestions
  2. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    ANY cellular network is unreliable in the sense that ultimately it is controlled by someone else & you are subject to their discretion, at any time

    many 2-way radios will cover the 15 mile distance between home & work, consult the manufacturer

    P.S. is it miles or kilometers? I thought only Liberia, Myanmar, and the USA used Imperial units? ;)

  3. WEcoyote

    WEcoyote Acme test pilot

    can you own a ham without a license? hoping to transmit for 1000 miles reasonable? can a car battery power a ham? whats line of sight do to ham? how much is realistic to budget for a ham.

    thank you

    Wile E coyote
  4. Concerned_ Citizen

    Concerned_ Citizen Well-Known Member

    I need to do me some research on HAM as well.....
  5. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

    Ham radio

    To answer most of your questions, yes you may own a Ham radio, but you may not transmit on it without a Ham radio license.
    I have rigs in my truck that can contact others locally and all over the world in ideal conditions, they are as most including base units driven by 12vdc.
    CB units are ok for line of sight communications unless you break the law and transmit on a higher output power level for longer distances.
    Contact a local Ham radio club in your area, they will be happy to help further Ham radio and get you your license, which is not that hard. They usually have classes you can take prior to the exam to assist you.
    Cellular phones are usually knocked out by emergency conditions, one example is here about 3 or 4 years ago we had a extremely large wildfire in San Diego county, the fire destroyed the power to cell towers, police radio repeaters and the like. Then the thick smoke hampered the remaining cell phone communication, the 900mhz signals will not penetrate it. My local RACES team set up radio relay stations for all of the emergency depts.
    Like anything else start small and work your way up after you get your feet wet with Ham radio.

  6. sinbad

    sinbad Well-Known Member

    Yes we use kilometers but I translate that into miles since most members here understand miles.

    Looks like 2-way is good enough for me if it does really covers 15 miles. I am guessing possible scenarios are like : splitting family members (within a town) , or communication between two cars on a road, or someone at home with someone in a car (in a store or something) things like that.

    BTW, what is the range of car CB, and does it need a liscence in the U.S. ??
  7. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    Many of us also think in metric (thinKMetric).

    If I have "line-of-sight" I can normally get 15 to 20kms with my CB-radio mounted on my Jeep. If there are lots of trees / hills / etc in the way, it might drop down to 10kms. My hand-held CB-radios (aka FRS) I can get upto 5kms in the bush.

    Licence is not required to run CB-Radios.

    Now, I have heard truckers chattin' away from SanFransico while I was sitting in Airdrie (the next town north of Calgary) due to a thing called "SKIP" where the signals are bounced off the upper atmosphere. You cannot rely on skip to talk to those you want to talk to as it normally works in the thousands of KMs (miles), so, it becomes useless unless you are trying to get ahold of anyone to call 911 to help you out.
  8. nj_m715


    That chatting you heard might have been from a linear as much as skip. Some of those guys run high output stuff. I've often heard one side of the conversation while the other side didn't even break squelch.
  9. oilcan

    oilcan Gear Head

    I have a set of FRS radios that are "rated" to work around 30 miles out. Around here, it's more like 1/4 mile among the hills and trees. On the other hand I can hit a repeater on a 2m HT about 30 miles away on the same site with no problem.

    No license required to own one, though some people won't sell you one without seeing your ticket first. Also, you'll need to test the system now and then to see if everything works. All transmissions (including tests) require a license. And it'd probably be best to know how to operate your system in an emergency, anyway.
    1000 mile TX/RX shouldn't be much problem with the right equipment.
    Most transcievers run on 12 volts, so car batteries are a natural match. Just be sure you have a way to charge the system. These things can drain a battery quicker than you might think.
    Not sure what your line of sight question is asking... Within LOS = use VHF/UHF, beyond LOS = use HF for skywave (bounces off the atmosphere)
    The budget can fit in a very wide range. A used, no frills handheld might set you back as little as $20, and the sky's the limit from there. I'd suggest looking up a few HAM gear retailers and looking through their equipment that covers the 80m band. And don't skimp on the antenna!
  10. anonymous

    anonymous Musher

    Having had numerous conversations with licensed HAMS...
    I think a HAM radio would be totally useless to anyone without a license, dangerous actually.

    a)Anyone using an unlicensed radio would be unaware of local ham clubs & groups. Those hams are often preppers in their own right, and your ignorance can/would jeapordize the security of them & their families.

    b)They CAN find you, and your removal might be necessary for their well being.

    c)Since you failed to fully prep by getting the license in the first place, you've probably neglected other areas as well and would have nothing to contribute to them. Being another liability is never a selling point.
  11. nj_m715


    I'd rather have one, even just for listening. If you had to transmit during an emergency I doubt anyone would mess with you. You are not allowed to use a police radio, but I doubt you would be in trouble if you used it to call for help if you witnessed an officer get hurt right in front of you. In other words I might not be allowed to use a machine gun or a hand grenade, but there are times it would be better to have one and not need it, than need and not have it.
    Sure getting a license is best, but we can't all do everything. I'd like to be trained as a doctor or know how fly too. right now the ability to cook several meals from scratch is more important to me than a radio license.
  12. tyler_kd0bsa

    tyler_kd0bsa Well-Known Member

    Amateur radio license is very useful. I having one myself have had a ton of fun with it and where I live hams sometimes plays a key role for public safety. My longest contact was just over 5,300 miles with only a 100 watt output from my radio. And like I said where I live the hams are a key part in the local emergency management with storm spotting and other functions. Awhile back the phone system for the 911 system went down so hams were placed at major intersections throughout the city to relay emergency calls to the 911 center. The news and radio stations ran stories to tell the people what was going on and where to go to find the hams if they needed emergency assistance. Also I know around here if you operate without a license around here we will find you. So its unwise to operate without a license and they're not that hard to get. Just do some reading and talk to a local ham if there is one around and I'm sure they will be willing to help you get on the right track
  13. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Some of us plan to be able to reach friends and family on the ham radios if TSHTF. Not all situations or scenarios will be the same, and not all geographical areas will face the same problems and risks. There are some things that are probably a given, but after that there are as many possibilities as there are people, locales, and situations.

    Those of us who use and enjoy ham radios now...may continue to find them useful after TSHTF. Others may want to acquire them, others may not. So what.

    Not all situations involve the possibility of concertration/refuge/other camps. They COULD. But it's not 100% going to happen. If one thinks they have, then you'd sure want to be careful about radio chatter. Something us Hams can keep in mind.

    We've always have, and plan to continue to have, FRS 2-way radios, in addition to our Ham radios, for family and "neighborhood" communication, our neighborhood being about 2 people per square mile.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011
  14. LegitCitizen

    LegitCitizen Active Member

    I'm a HAM

    I just got my HAM license a couple of months ago.

    It's pretty fun, truth be told. Between line of sight distances and the repeater networks around, you can talk to people all over the world. It takes juice to do it, but it's possible.

    I don't have any gear of my own, but have transmitted from other friends' stations. I am still shopping, but have my license. The license is good for ten years, and - as long as you remember to renew on time - you never have to retest.

    There are several websites online with free practice exams. If you don't have access to a class, I would suggest studying online then taking practice exams until you can pass them in your sleep. Then go take one for real and get your license.
  15. philjam

    philjam Well-Known Member

    Any comm stuff EMP hardened?
  16. LegitCitizen

    LegitCitizen Active Member

    re: EMP hardened

    If you can get your hands on it, it's probably not hardened. Or so I'm given to understand. I have been told that all chips are now hardened - but I can't find anything that corroborates that... so I'm guessing that's not the case. I think that's marketing BS. I do know that most modern electronics are "shielded" but that's to keep them from interfering with things like radio reception - or the autopilot on the airplane you're flying in - and not to protect them from outside EMP bursts.

    On the other hand, I know a guy who's retired Air Force whose area of expertise is rad/nuke and terrorism says concerning survival in a true nuclear situation (as opposed to a dirty bomb event) is a matter of dumb luck. If you happen to be standing on the wrong aside of the barn when the thing goes off, you're screwed. Period. So, if that's the case, you'd have more to worry about than just your EMP stuff... bummer.

    Now here's a fun bit of trivia: vacuum tubes are immune to the effects of EMP. So, if you happened to find an old tube radio, it'll work as long as it had juice.
  17. MrSfstk8d

    MrSfstk8d Well-Known Member

    Mmmmm... tubes. REAL radios glow in the dark.
    I'm an amatuer operator (HAM), but not terribly active. Come from a line of Elmers (old timers). I do believe I literally cut teeth on components. After that, working in electronics/communications was a natural move. EMP hardening is a hard thing to get, probably nigh impossible on the civilian market, with the exception, of course, of tubes.

    Regarding licensing, according to FCC regulations, in an emergency situation, in immenant risk of life, hazard or property, you can use any equipment on any frequency to contact help legally. For something more mundane than "Timmy fell down the well", you really ought to get a license. And try to get some good advice and education from the older guys in the know.

    73 de kc9bvn