Radio Communications

Communications is a subject that has been on my mind for quite a while.  I have finally reached a point at which I have decided to do something about it.  Over the years, I have acquired a bit of radio equipment, so I decided it was ham radiotime to call in an expert and have him take a look.  It turns out that I have a few useful items, a power supply, a two meter radio, 4 FRS (Family Radio Service) radios and a couple of useable CBs.  The rest is pretty much junk.

Today or tomorrow, I should receive a second radio, a Yaesu FT-270 delivered by Fedex.  I am also doing a search for a used marine band radio that has high frequency capabilities.  This will let me transmit and receive in both the two-meter and the ham bands.  This will give me the capabilities to send and receive both nationwide and in my local area without depending on repeaters.

The next thing I need to do is get my General license.  This is required if you intend to use the radios in today’s world.  I decided to skip the technician’s license and go straight to my general license.  The tests do not appear to be hard, the questions are all available on the internet.  Do a search under ham test questions and you will find several good sites.  The one I am using is http://www.eham.net/exams/generateexams.  I should be taking the test in a couple of weeks.

No license is required for the FRS or CB radios.  The FRS Radios are  normally only good for a mile or two range.

I intend to post a series of articles on the radios as I learn.  If any of you are experienced in this area I would like to hear from you.  Guest articles are always welcome.

Howard

 

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12 Responses to Radio Communications

  1. Bill says:

    I, too, am working on my general. I’m using a study guide that is well organized and to the point. You might want to look it up. http://kb6nu.com/tech-manual/

  2. admin says:

    Thank you I looked up the link and it looks good. Think I will order a copy.
    Howard

  3. Walter says:

    Our gear is similar. Ordered a FT-2900 recently, but yet to install it in the truck. Sure you’re aware, but many overseas radio distributors ship with unblocked xmit freqs. Full 136-174MHz xmit capability for the FT-2900 for example, and no need to void the warranty doing mods. That would cover your marine/two-meter needs, plus MURS, NOAA, public safety, and police/fire/EMS in my area. Suspect I’ll get another for use as a base (to replace the Dakota Alert MURS base and 5/8 wave firestik I’m using now). Puxing 777’s (136-174 xmit, again) currently for the mobiles/handhelds. Skipping the licensing here, I have no desire to chit-chat and prefer to stay under the radar. Probably just paranoid, but don’t want to be in the .gov’s amateur radio database in the event of martial law, or if they decide to impose a information/communications blackout in my area. Enjoy your weekend.

    • admin says:

      If it wasn’t for the ham radios I would do the same as you. The licensing has been a question that has been bothering me.
      Howard

  4. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    I have just never been convinced that this is what I need. Who am I going to talk to? I dont know them and I dont trust them so why would I talk to them? I have a radio i can listen to if i need to gather intell but again trust issues because I hear whats on the CBs now compared to years ago, it’s trash, lies and dirt talk. I’ve lived thru alot of disasters and done alot of stuff and a long range radio has never made the difference. Short range for inter team commo is awesome though.
    The tornando outbreak for example, I went in within 20 minutes of it hitting and spent 3 days helping friends and even folks I didnt know recover items and move and rebuild etc and came home to talked to a friend who stated that he got on his ham radio as soon as the storm was over and he talked to Bill over in… and blah blah blah. They accomplished NOTHING for anyone including themselves. 48 tornandoes in my state in one day was a SHTF event so this tells me what commo’s are doing and are gonna do, talk. There are only so many with these radios anyway, during this event they didnt help anyone make contact with anyone elese so what was the point? I can go on but you get the idea, this aint the Army and there is no support base to call for any assistance so unless you have a co-op with other groups it useless IMO.
    Lemme hear some feedback

    • admin says:

      Matt
      I can understand your position, a large part of the reason I want to have ham radios is family. I have a very large family, lots of kids and grandchildren and am developing a system that may let me stay in touch with them. You and I agree on the shorter range radios, inter team commo is awesome.
      Howard

  5. John says:

    All the best on passing the General exam. It’s much easier now without the code requirement.
    As for having or not having a license, each of us is already in enough government databases that one more won’t matter much. I’m not trying to be flip when I say that. The only way Uncle Sam would pay much attention to your ham license is if you become involved in public service work and join a local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) group. In which case, you’d be required to take a number of federally sanctioned courses, assuming you really wanted to pursue the public service route. Personally, I think the whole cooperative effort between hams, FEMA, SEMA, etc., has co-opted the hobby.
    True, hams talk, and a lot of it’s boring. However, if you get involved enough to know what’s going on with the hobby, public service, etc., you’ll know better what to listen for and where. Thus, ham radio has a utilitarian value.
    And how many of those CB-ers are going to be on the air if SHTF? The bands might be more interesting than any of us now would think.

  6. KE4SKY says:

    I would suggest the Arlington Radio Public Service Club website, http://www.w4ava.org as a resource. The training pages have a free downloadable course to study for your FCC amateur radio techician license, as well as the training materials used to train hams to serve as radio operators in the auxiliary communications service, administered by our county office of emergency management. If ok I have several articles I can post with additional information.

  7. Ed Harris says:

    USA-PREPCOM: A suggested radio coms protocol for USA preppers

    Original Concept By R-UK, as Adapted for US Band Plans by KE4SKY

    See also: http://survivaluk.net/2016/08/26/prepcom-a-comprehensive-radio-coms-standard-for-uk-preppers/

    The objective of the USA-PREPCOM is to facilitate frequency coordination and channel allocation between licensed amateur and unlicensed citizens band, Family Radio Service, Multi-Use Radio Service and other USA based survivor radio stations following a major disaster in which conventional telecommunications have ceased.

    For easy mnemonics the standard is the RULE OF 3S

    3 is the important number. Remember it!

    The 3 parts to the Standard are:

    • 1/3:WHEN (Time coordination so we all know WHEN to call and listen)
    • 2/3:WHERE (Frequency coordination so we all know WHERE to call and Listen)
    • 3/3:HOW (Radio set-up so that everyone’s transmissions are compatible)

    What’s this document for?

    It is intended that this document be printed and stored in a water and light-proof pouch which is to be kept with stored radio equipment intended for disaster communications.

    PART 1/3 =WHEN

    Everybody looking to communicate needs to coordinate the time at which to do so.

    By coordinating times and limiting operational time window precious electrical power will be conserved

    Rule of 3s again:

    Start communication sessions On the hour
    Every 3 hours (starting 00.00h)
    For 3 minutes calling and listening, if nothing heard, close the station and try again at next scheduled time.

    Note, if a contact is made it is good practice to move communications to another channel / frequency so that the emergency calling channel is freed for other users

    There is no requirement to end it after the magic 3 minutes, it can continue as long as required, but bear in mind power consumption.

    PART 2 =WHERE

    Where relates to Frequency coordination so that everyone is also communicating on compatible frequencies, failure to coordinate frequency is like not knowing the direction in which to flash a torch to signal to someone at night. We need to know exactly where to send and where to look.

    Rule 2 is broken into two parts 2a for simple License-free transceivers (CB, FRS and MURS walkie-talkies), whereas 2b Ham is a full version incorporating both license-free and USA Ham frequencies.

    PART 2a =WHERE License free

    So for license free, the RULE of 3 continues. Set your radio to one of the following:

    • AM only CBs = Channel 03 – 26.985 Mhz AM US band
    • SSB capable CBs = Channel 33 – 27.335 MHz USB
    • FRS and GMRS = Channel 03 – 462.6125 MHz FM- NB (CTCSS/ DCS code turned OFF)
    • FM-NB only MURS = Channel 03 151.92 MHz (US band)

    PART 2b/3=WHERE Full version

    USA Emergency Frequencies: From ARRL Net Directory

    3723 MHz CW Emergency Response Communications Net CW
    3883 MHz LSB Emergency Response Communications Net SSB
    3907 MHz LSB Coastal Carolina Emerg., Missionary Radio Service
    3935 MHz LSB Central Gulf Coast Hurricane Net
    3940 MHz LSB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net
    3950 MHz LSB National Hurricane Center
    7.137 MHz CW Emergency Response Communications Net CW
    7.238 MHz LSB Mobile Emergency and County Hunters Net
    7.240 MHz LSB Eastern Region NTS Traffic
    7.244 MHz LSB Tahoe Interstate Emergency Net
    7.251 MHz LSB North States ARS, South Coast ARS
    7.255 MHz LSB East Coast ARS
    7.258 MHz LSB Midwest ARS
    7.260 MHz LSB Baptist Disaster Relief Net
    7.265MHz LSB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net
    7.284 MHz LSB Good Sam RV Radio Network
    7.292 MHz LSB Emergency Response Communications Net SSB
    14.244 MHz USB Emergency Response Communications Net SSB
    14.260 MHz USB Baptist Disaster Relief Net
    14.265MHz USB Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Net
    14.280 MHz USB International Mission Radio Net
    14.300MHz USB Maritime Service, INTERCON, Pacific Seafarer’s Net
    14.303 MHz USB International Emergency Assistance and Traffic
    14.315 MHz USB Pacific Islands Disaster Net
    14.325 MHz USB Hurricane Watch Net
    14.336 MHz USB Mobile Emergency Assistancer and County Hunters
    14.340 MHz USB California-Hawaii Traffic and Emergency
    26.985 MHz US AM CB Ch 03 Proposed Prepper Emerg. Channel*
    27.065 MHz US AM CB Ch. 09 – Motorist Emergency Calling
    27.185 MHz US AM CB Ch. 19 – Highway Traffic Advisory
    27.555MHz USB CB FREEBAND ( Illegal freq, but well populated).
    27.335MHz USB CB Ch 33 Emergency Channel*
    462.5625 MHz FM FRS Ch.1 – unofficial local calling channel
    462.6125 MHz FM FRS Ch3 Prepper emergency channel***
    462.675 MHz FM GMRS Ch. 6 Unofficial Travelers Information /Repeater input 467.675 PL 141.3
    ========================================

    * License free: Rule of 3s = CB Ch 03 FM every 3 hours, on the hour for 3 minutes (staring 00.00h)
    ** License free: Rule of 3s = CB Ch 33 USB every 3 hours, on the hour for 3 minutes (staring 00.00h)
    *** License free: Rule of 3s = PMR446 Ch3 (CTCSS/DTS OFF) every 3 hours, on the hour for 3 minutes (staring 00.00h)
    =========================================

    PART 3/3=HOW to set up the radio and transmitting antenna
    3.1 Identifying and setting the operating MODE of your radio
    In all descriptions there are annotations FM/USB/LSB/FM NB. These are the different TYPES/ FORMATS/MODES of signal that radios can transmit.

    It is essential that sending and receiving stations are using identical transmission TYPES otherwise they will not be able to hear one another even if transmitting and receiving on the same frequency at the same time.

    Look at your radio: If it has a MODE knob it will allow you to select the modes required. If it does not have a mode knob and it’s a CB it will almost certainly be FM only. This should be confirmable by looking for a label or stamp of conformity on which the letters FM will be shown.

    FRS equipment is only manufactured in FM variety so no choices to make.

    3.2 POLARITY of your antenna.
    For CB the antennas must be vertical
    For FRS and GMRS antennas must be vertical
    For Ham frequencies below 28MHz antennas must be HORIZONTAL
    For Ham frequencies in FM mode above 28MHz antennas must be VERTICAL

    For Ham Frequencies in LSB/USB mode above 28 MHz antennas must be HORIZONTAL

  8. Rusty says:

    For those serious about off-grid communication needs, you might want to check out RF Gear 2 Go in Mesa, AZ. Very knowledgeable and prepper friendly comm dealer with a large variety of antennas, radios, sat phones, etc.

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