This came in a few days ago after I asked for suggestions on commo. It is from Yenta, who lives farther east on Sipsey Street.
I have heard criticisms of ham that it requires licensing, it's too expensive, etc. My thought is that for those who can do it, it's a darn good way to train in commo procedures and more importantly to learn the basics of the trade.
Feel free to post any questions or suggestions and Yenta will answer them. Right? Of course,right!
Shoot, Move, and COMMUNICATE!
We hear a lot about shooting here. We have our personal transportation needs under control. Let’s consider how we are going to talk to one another.
You have to determine your Area of Operations and span of control. Is it one city block? Is it five acres in the country? Do you need to talk from Orange, TX to Orange County, CA? How do we do this after TSHTF and landline telephones or the internet are down and out for the duration. Did I mention cell phones? Don’t bet your life on it.
Let’s look at three viable options. They all have a place in tactical/practical communications.
For neighborhood patrolling, you could use FRS handheld radios. You know the kind you get from WalMart for $69 a pair? 14 channels and a range of up to 1 mile under good conditions. Better than trying to shout 300 yards while hiding.
How about within your community? You could use a CB. $50 plus $20 for an antenna. This combo will work base or mobile from a 12 volt battery. Acceptable under many circumstances, but not very secure.
Looks like we’ve pretty well limited ourselves to about as far as you could walk in one day and that leaves a lot to be desired.
After Hurricane Katrina, the communications infrastructure on the Gulf Coast was wiped out. Not crippled but GONE. Amateur radio (ham radio) came to the immediate rescue with operators bringing their equipment to the affected region. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) came up with a great marketing slogan to promote amateur radio. The ARRL is the ham radio equivalent to GOA and NRA put together. Interestingly, Hiram Percy Maxim, the founder of ARRL, is the same Maxim Silencer/MG inventor. The saying is “Amateur Radio-when all else fails.” This slogan came about in the post-Katrina times after being proven under fire.
Amateur Radio, or Ham Radio as it is commonly known, is a structured and licensed radio service that provides for the Public Interest, Convenience or Necessity of emergency communications. Within the last 15 years, licensing became easier and more convenient. Morse Code is no longer a requirement for a ham license.
There are approximately 600,000 licensed amateur operators in the US today. They range from elementary school students to astronauts. They include just about every occupation imaginable. The license is the common thread among ham operators.
Why get a ham license? It is illegal to transmit on the assigned frequencies without one! Down the road, it may become illegal to even possess a transmitter without a license. One of the observations in James Wesley, Rawles book Patriots, Surviving the Coming Collapse, was a regret by the group that they had not considered amateur radio as a method for communicating with the outside world. While easy to obtain now, that would probably change in the unsettled future. Kind of like waiting until November 5, 2008 to go shopping for that new AR or AK.
The information on licensing is available at www.arrl.org . Sample tests are available online at www.qrz.com . The tests are compiled from the official question pools and replicate actual tests. When you take a test from a Volunteer Examiner, you will see some of the same questions that you saw on the practice exams. The question pools are public knowledge and available for learning purposes. No, the test will not be open book!
How much does it cost? An adequate amateur radio station can be set up for $500-1000 or less. A lot depends on frugal shopping and a modest building ability. You can make an antenna for $15 or pay $150 for the same thing in a nice plastic bag with a Xeroxed manual.
You can spend much more if you want to, but it isn’t necessary. Generally, the cost of equipment goes up proportionally with the desired range of communication. There are amateur operators who have $200,000+ invested in their stations. Most though, are in the $500-1000 range mentioned above. You may have heard about deed restrictions and Home Owner Association restrictions. An effective hidden antenna can be installed in almost any situation.
There are some basic considerations for communication. How far do you want to talk?
Immediate---1/4 mile to 5 miles.
Local---5 miles to 50 miles
National---Coast to Coast---2000 miles
International---talk to other hams in more than 300 countries---15,000 miles
I present this brief overview in response to some recent mentions of amateur radio on the various blogs.
We all hope that the preparedness efforts discussed on the internet are for a hypothetical future situation. The nice and practical aspect of amateur radio is the ability to use it 24/7 regardless of the weather and one’s physical condition. If nothing else, you just opened up a great new hobby where you can meet people literally from all walks of life.