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New to preping and totally lost where/and how to start reaper420 Disaster Preparedness General Discussion 58 10-28-2016 07:57 AM

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Old 10-24-2016, 03:59 PM
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Ok, so I am not at all new to prepping. Got my food, water, ammo, etc taken care of to a decent extent. Now for communications. I know nothing. We've got some walkie talkies for camping and such and that's it.
Where do I start? Is there a good beginner book? Communication for dummies?
Old 10-24-2016, 04:46 PM
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Basic Comms

There are several legal choices available to the civilian to handle two way communications needs.

FRS: handheld radios only, fixed antenna, 0.5 watt fixed power, no repeaters, no license required (UHF band)

GMRS: handheld, mobile, and base radios, variable power okay, repeaters okay, external antennas okay, license for the family is required (UHF band)

MURS: handheld, mobile, and base radios, up to 2 watts, no repeaters, external antennas okay, no license required (VHF Band)

CB AM: handheld, mobile, and base radios, up to 4 watts, no repeaters, external antennas okay, no license required (Upper end of HF band, near the bottom of Low VHF band)

CB AM/SSB: mobile and base radios, up to 4 watts AM/12watts SSB, no repeaters, external antennas okay, no license required (Upper end of HF band, near the bottom of Low VHF band)

Amateur Radios: handheld, mobile, base radios, power depends on band, up to 1,500 watts in some HF bands, repeaters on some bands okay, external antennas okay, license for each operator required (HF, Low VHF, VHF, UHF plus some others that don’t really apply to general communications needs)(Personal only, no business)

Land Mobile Business Band: handheld, mobile, base radios, power depends on band and operating location, must always use minimum power required, repeaters on some bands okay, external antennas okay, Frequency selection fees & license fees are fairly expensive. (There are limited frequencies in HF, Low VHF, VHF, UHF bands.)(Business only, no personal)

FRS/GMRS/MURS/CB AM/ CB AMSSB are all set up with channel numbers on specific bands.

Amateur radios, for the most part, can tune various frequencies within the bands, with some standardization of frequency use on VHF and UHF bands for repeater and various other uses. Equipment is from cheap to very expensive.

Land Mobile Business band users, for the most part, are assigned specific frequencies within specific narrow band limits, but there are no channel numbers. Equipment is from somewhat expensive to very expensive.


Handheld to Handheld ranges:

Short Range (Less than 1 mile): FRS, GMRS (in and around urban areas, UHF Land mobile business band, UHF Amateur band)

Medium Range (Up to 5 miles): GMRS, MURS, CB AM, (there are no legal handheld CB AM/SSB radios I know of), UHF Land mobile Business Band, UHF Amateur

Medium Range (Up to 10 miles) Low VHF Land Mobile business band, high power VHF Land Mobile Business band, high power VHF Amateur

Longer Range (Up to 25 miles) As Medium range, but using repeater systems. Using linked repeater systems can extend the range, mostly just Amateur, well above the 25 miles.

Long Range (Over 25 miles): There are no 25 mile or 50 mile or 100 mile hand held to hand held options of which I am aware other than using linked repeaters. The closest one can come are man-pack HF radios for Amateur or Land Mobile Business band use, which are compact (relatively speaking), medium power, fairly large batteries, and long, awkward antennas. I simply don't consider these handhelds. The operation parameters are the same as regular Amateur and Land Mobile Business band HF set-ups, with limited antennas, unless stationary and larger antennas are deployed. Use on the move is somewhat limited.


For vehicle mobile to mobile ranges:

Short range (Less than 10 miles): FRS, GMRS, MURS, CB AM, VHF/UHF Land mobile Business Band, Amateur VHF/UHF (2 meter & 70 centimeter)

Medium range (up to 20 miles in really good circumstances: CB AM/SSB, GMRS with repeater use, VHF Land Mobile Business Band, Amateur VHF

Longer range (Up to 50 miles in really good circumstances): Low VHF Business band, VHF Business Band with repeater use, Amateur VHF with repeater use

Long range (Anything over about 50 miles): HF Land Mobile Business Band, HF Amateur

The ranges are extended very slightly from handheld range when talking to mobiles or base stations.

The ranges are extended somewhat from mobile range when talking to base stations.

All options can get longer ranges, except FRS, MURS, CB AM, & CB AM/SSB, and some Business band sections, with additional power amplification over the basic radios, very good omnidirectional antennas (all around coverage), and directional antennas.

Terrain plays a huge part in effective distances. Mountainous terrain (unless you are talking mountain top to mountain top) reduces the range of just about all frequency bands, with the lower HF frequencies the least. Heavily wooded and urban terrain reduce range. Heavy usage on a given band reduces range.

The cheapest options simply don’t have much range. The medium priced options can have a bit more range, if high quality equipment is used. The higher priced options will get you just about anywhere you want, though not necessarily on any given day at any given time, though by learning propagation effects, and the ability to use different frequencies as needed, one can often carry on scheduled comms if the right band and time is matched to the propagation at the time. Propagation is rather complex, and one needs to be fairly radio literate to start trying to make reliable communications based on it.

It basically boils down to having limited range communications, up to about 5 miles handheld to handheld, and 25 miles mobile to mobile reliably, for a decent price, and going Amateur for distances over that. Getting Land Mobile Business band systems are complicated and expensive, though they can do essentially the same thing the Amateurs can do. One is personal comms, and the other business comms.

This is my opinion of the very basics of civilian radio communications options. If you want additional information or have questions, feel free to ask.
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Old 10-24-2016, 05:26 PM
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The ARRL License manual is a wonderful introduction to radio communication. The information in it is presented in such a way that the lay-person can understand it without needing a background in engineering/science/electronics.

If you can multiply, divide, add, subtract, and read, you know enough.


http://www.arrl.org/ham-radio-license-manual
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Old 10-24-2016, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happypreppermom View Post
Ok, so I am not at all new to prepping. Got my food, water, ammo, etc taken care of to a decent extent. Now for communications. I know nothing. We've got some walkie talkies for camping and such and that's it.
Where do I start? Is there a good beginner book? Communication for dummies?
Define your communications needs, what do you expect to do with communications, and under what conditions. That is your starting point.

Some people need to maintain contact with others a specific distance away. Some want to be able to contact anyone they want. Others just want to be able to monitor as much as possible so that they have some situational awareness. And some want all of the above.

Each of these requirements requires a different approach, and different groundwork.

Figure out, in general terms, what you think you want, and then people can make suggestions on where to start.

T!
Old 10-24-2016, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by FirstToken View Post
Define your communications needs, what do you expect to do with communications, and under what conditions. That is your starting point.

Some people need to maintain contact with others a specific distance away. Some want to be able to contact anyone they want. Others just want to be able to monitor as much as possible so that they have some situational awareness. And some want all of the above.

Each of these requirements requires a different approach, and different groundwork.

Figure out, in general terms, what you think you want, and then people can make suggestions on where to start.

T!
I'm thinking mainly just situational awareness, knowing what is actually going on around me. Not relying on the government PSA in the shtf scenario. Where do you I suggest I begin for this?
Old 10-24-2016, 08:00 PM
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AmRRON has a bit of a prepper communication 101 over on their site, that isn't bad.
https://amrron.com/2014/01/25/393/

Happypreppers has an intro, too.
http://www.happypreppers.com/Communications.html

Also, the USNERDOC utube channel has a bunch of comms related videos.

And, of course, we've got a bunch of stuff here, but get a bit of basics and that may lead you to some more specific questions.
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Old 10-24-2016, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happypreppermom View Post
I'm thinking mainly just situational awareness, knowing what is actually going on around me. Not relying on the government PSA in the shtf scenario. Where do you I suggest I begin for this?
If you are just talking monitoring, not transmitting, take a look here: http://www.survivalistboards.com/sho...d.php?t=407587

After you decide what you want to monitor hardware can be selected.

T!
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Old 10-24-2016, 09:58 PM
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I'd suggest you start by getting your amature radio tech license and a Baofeng radio with a programming cable and download chirp...

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
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Old 10-25-2016, 09:26 AM
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Get a friend/family member (don't rule out your young children) to learn along with you.

My wife was my coach in the late 70's and she wound up passing General theory in 82 without studying for it. My point is it helped me to have someone asking questions and testing me before I went to the FCC offices. This was pre-Internet and pre-VE days so you had to know your stuff pretty well and then put up with the sometimes not-so-nice FCC folks.
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Old 10-25-2016, 04:32 PM
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This may or may not help. But I looked up some of my previous posts on communications. I am just not up to rewriting the various posts into one, so here they all are, in original form.

My thoughts on communications

Communications in the PAW are going to be critical to the success and safety of a community. There are several methods that can be used that don’t rely on electricity or electronic devices, though the electronic and electrical methods are the most efficient, by far. Some are more secure than others, though by using fairly simple codes, if needed, all can be made secure from casual listeners/readers/watchers.

Some of these are:
Messengers
Couriers
Signal flags
Heliograph
Horns/trumpets
Drums
Yodeling
Though some form of power or lighting source is required, for nighttime comms a signal light can be used, as can lasers, if used carefully.

Other simple short range systems, that require a wire connection:
Telegraph
Sound powered phones
Simple powered telephone system

Just my opinion.
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Under good conditions, with quality radios, and excellent antennas for maximum RELIABE communication under good conditions:

Very Short range (1/4 mile hand held to hand held) - FRS - no license
Short range (1 mile hand held to hand held, longer ranges with repeaters) - GMRS - license
Longer short range (2 miles hand held to hand held) - MURS - no license
Longer short range (2 miles hand held to hand held, longer ranges with repeaters - 2-meter Amateur - license
Longer short range (2 miles hand held to hand held) - CB - no license
Medium range (10 miles mobile to mobile) - CB - no license
Medium range (10 miles mobile to mobile) - 6-meter/10-meter Amateur - license
Longer medium range (25 miles base to base) - CB - no license
Longer medium range (25 miles base to base) 6-meter/10-meter Amateur - license
Long range (25+ miles mobile to mobile/base to mobile/base to base) - HF Amateur - license
Yes, everything over 25 miles, without using repeaters, is long range. Handheld to handheld, without repeaters, is limited to about 5 miles under ideal conditions.

Just my opinion.
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Communications in the PAW are going to be critical to the success and safety of a community. There are several methods that can be used that don’t rely on electricity or electronic devices, though the electronic and electrical methods are the most efficient, by far. Some are more secure than others, though by using fairly simple codes, if needed, all can be made secure from casual listeners/readers/watchers.

Some of these are:
Messengers
Couriers
Signal flags
Heliograph
Horns/trumpets
Drums
Yodeling
Though some form of power or lighting source is required, for nighttime comms a signal light can be used, as can lasers, if used carefully.

Other simple short range systems, that require a wire connection:
Telegraph
Sound powered phones
Simple powered telephone system

When it comes to radio communications there are several options for short range, medium range, and a couple for long range communications. Some are relatively inexpensive, others quite expensive.

For short range radios:
FRS – UHF, no license, fixed antennas, handheld only, ¼ mile to 1 mile, no repeaters
GMRS – UHF, license required, ¼ mile to 2 miles, more with a repeater
MURS – VHF, no license, ½ mile to 3 miles, handhelds and bases, better antennas, no repeaters
Amateur UHF – 70 cm, License required for each operator, ½ mile to 5 miles, more with repeaters
Public service UHF – For official government jurisdiction use, ½ mile to 5 miles, more with repeaters
Business Band UHF/VHF – commercial radios in these frequencies require a system license and are restricted to business activities only. Fairly expensive. ¼ mile to 5 miles, more with repeaters

For medium range radios:
CB AM/SSB – HF, no license, limit to 4 watt input on AM (equivalent to 12 watts on SSB), 1 mile to 15 miles
Amateur VHF – 6 meter, 2 meter, each operator requires a license, high power options available, 1 mile to 15 miles, more with repeaters
Business Band Low VHF – Same as UHF/VHF business band except a bit more expensive and much longer range, more with repeaters

For long range radios:
Amateur HF – License required for each operator, 1 mile to worldwide, moderate expense
Business Band HF – Same ranges as Amateur HF. System license required (quite expensive), equipment is more expensive than Amateur but usually heavy duty. Very expensive.

Long range HF radio communications are dependent on the type, quality, gain, and height of the antennas on each end; the amount of power used; and most importantly, atmospheric conditions at any given time. However, with the wide spectrum of HF for Amateur Radio, there is usually a band open for where you want to talk to at the time, if both ends can calculate propagation and are using a coordinated communications schedule. Plus, Amateur Radio operators are usually pretty good about relaying messages to points where a sender cannot get to, but they can.

There are VHF and HF options in the Aircraft Band and Marine Band, but using these radios prior to the PAW will result in serious penalties, unless used for their intended purposes.

For the most inexpensive and practical use radios I would go with MURS for short range (about $100 per handheld radio up to $200); CB AM/SSB for medium range mobile to mobile/mobile to base/base to base; (about $100 to $200 plus $40 to $200 for antennas)(with 6 meter Amateur an option), and Amateur HF for long range manpack, mobile, and base (about $1,000 to $2,500 plus $100 to $2,500 for antennas).

Just my opinion.
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Amateur radio is the best way to communicate, by far. And it is a decent information source because of it. But for information acquisition, there are some other possible needs that Amateur radio does not easily cover.

I would suggest you set up a monitoring suite while working on getting your Amateur Radio license (Go ahead and go for both Technician and General. If you can pass the Tech, with only a little more study, you can pass the General at the same time. Use the practice tests that are on-line.).

First: A dedicated NOAA weather radio with SAME alert, with a crank up back up version.

Second: A good AM/FM portable multi-power radio, preferably with crank up power option.

Third: Ascanner capable of receiving trunked communications. Even if the locals are not using a trunked system, they may eventually, and there are probably agencies that might be in the area, or going through, that do.

Fourth: A decent quality dedicated shortwave receiver. Get a good one, that has SSB capability. If your back-up weather radio has shortwave, that is good, if not get a crank up, or at least a multi-powered back up shortwave radio, too.

Fifth: A good general coverage receiver. A just HF version would be okay, but better to go with an all-band/all-mode version. Mobile or handheld either one.

For antennas, you can string a wire around the apartment for the Shortwave and the general coverage receiver. Add a quality active antenna that can be used with either one and you can improve reception some of the time. One of the best options for the scanner is a discone antenna. They look strange, which might even help. Could even attach it to something artistic on the patio/deck and call it an art piece.


Get a couple of FRS/GMRS radios for short range comms (and I mean short range. No more than a mile, if that) with you family/friends. Get MURS radios if you want more range than FRS/GMRS, but still limited to around two miles most of the time.

Then, as you learn more about Amateur radio you will be able to make some informed decisions about the right equipment for your current and future situations.

Just my opinion.
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________________________________________
Basic Comms

There are several legal choices available to the civilian to handle two way communications needs.

FRS: handheld radios only, fixed antenna, 0.5 watt fixed power, no repeaters, no license required (UHF band)

GMRS: handheld, mobile, and base radios, variable power okay, repeaters okay, external antennas okay, license for the family is required (UHF band)

MURS: handheld, mobile, and base radios, up to 2 watts, no repeaters, external antennas okay, no license required (VHF Band)

CB AM: handheld, mobile, and base radios, up to 4 watts, no repeaters, external antennas okay, no license required (Upper end of HF band, near the bottom of Low VHF band)

CB AM/SSB: mobile and base radios, up to 4 watts AM/12watts SSB, no repeaters, external antennas okay, no license required (Upper end of HF band, near the bottom of Low VHF band)

Amateur Radios: handheld, mobile, base radios, power depends on band, up to 1,500 watts in some HF bands, repeaters on some bands okay, external antennas okay, license for each operator required (HF, Low VHF, VHF, UHF plus some others that don’t really apply to general communications needs)(Personal only, no business)

Land Mobile Business Band: handheld, mobile, base radios, power depends on band and operating location, must always use minimum power required, repeaters on some bands okay, external antennas okay, Frequency selection fees & license fees are fairly expensive. (There are limited frequencies in HF, Low VHF, VHF, UHF bands.)(Business only, no personal)

FRS/GMRS/MURS/CB AM/ CB AMSSB are all set up with channel numbers on specific bands.

Amateur radios, for the most part, can tune various frequencies within the bands, with some standardization of frequency use on VHF and UHF bands for repeater and various other uses. Equipment is from cheap to very expensive.

Land Mobile Business band users, for the most part, are assigned specific frequencies within specific narrow band limits, but there are no channel numbers. Equipment is from somewhat expensive to very expensive.


Handheld to Handheld ranges:

Short Range (Less than 1 mile): FRS, GMRS (in and around urban areas, UHF Land mobile business band, UHF Amateur band)

Medium Range (Up to 5 miles): GMRS, MURS, CB AM, (there are no legal handheld CB AM/SSB radios I know of), UHF Land mobile Business Band, UHF Amateur

Medium Range (Up to 10 miles) Low VHF Land Mobile business band, high power VHF Land Mobile Business band, high power VHF Amateur

Longer Range (Up to 25 miles) As Medium range, but using repeater systems. Using linked repeater systems can extend the range, mostly just Amateur, well above the 25 miles.

Long Range (Over 25 miles): There are no 25 mile or 50 mile or 100 mile hand held to hand held options of which I am aware other than using linked repeaters. The closest one can come are man-pack HF radios for Amateur or Land Mobile Business band use, which are compact (relatively speaking), medium power, fairly large batteries, and long, awkward antennas. I simply don't consider these handhelds. The operation parameters are the same as regular Amateur and Land Mobile Business band HF set-ups, with limited antennas, unless stationary and larger antennas are deployed. Use on the move is somewhat limited.


For vehicle mobile to mobile ranges:

Short range (Less than 10 miles): FRS, GMRS, MURS, CB AM, VHF/UHF Land mobile Business Band, Amateur VHF/UHF (2 meter & 70 centimeter)

Medium range (up to 20 miles in really good circumstances: CB AM/SSB, GMRS with repeater use, VHF Land Mobile Business Band, Amateur VHF

Longer range (Up to 50 miles in really good circumstances): Low VHF Business band, VHF Business Band with repeater use, Amateur VHF with repeater use

Long range (Anything over about 50 miles): HF Land Mobile Business Band, HF Amateur

The ranges are extended very slightly from handheld range when talking to mobiles or base stations.

The ranges are extended somewhat from mobile range when talking to base stations.

All options can get longer ranges, except FRS, MURS, CB AM, & CB AM/SSB, and some Business band sections, with additional power amplification over the basic radios, very good omnidirectional antennas (all around coverage), and directional antennas.

Terrain plays a huge part in effective distances. Mountainous terrain (unless you are talking mountain top to mountain top) reduces the range of just about all frequency bands, with the lower HF frequencies the least. Heavily wooded and urban terrain reduce range. Heavy usage on a given band reduces range.

The cheapest options simply don’t have much range. The medium priced options can have a bit more range, if high quality equipment is used. The higher priced options will get you just about anywhere you want, though not necessarily on any given day at any given time, though by learning propagation effects, and the ability to use different frequencies as needed, one can often carry on scheduled comms if the right band and time is matched to the propagation at the time. Propagation is rather complex, and one needs to be fairly radio literate to start trying to make reliable communications based on it.

It basically boils down to having limited range communications, up to about 5 miles handheld to handheld, and 25 miles mobile to mobile reliably, for a decent price, and going Amateur for distances over that. Getting Land Mobile Business band systems are complicated and expensive, though they can do essentially the same thing the Amateurs can do. One is personal comms, and the other business comms.


Specific radios:

FRS/GMRS: Any Motorola with SAME/All Hazards alert feature
MURS: Motorola or Dakota Alert
AM/SSB CB: Bearcat 980SSB
VHF/UHF Portable Amateur: Yaesu VX-8DR
VHF/UHF Mobile/Base Amateur: Yaesu FT-8900A
HF Mobile/Base Amateur: Yaesu FT-991

This is my opinion of the very basics of civilian radio communications options. If you want additional information or have questions, feel free to ask.
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All just my opinion.
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Old 10-25-2016, 05:38 PM
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Get ham Tech License. Go to a local ham radio club meeting. Ask questions. Get advice. Then buy radio. Check in to club nets. Learn protocols. Become comfortable talking on the radio.

Read the attached file five times on the day before taking the Tech Test. You will pass.
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Old 10-25-2016, 05:48 PM
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Higher and bigger antennas do wonders to get your signal out! Also a good grade of low loss coax running from your radio to the antenna...................
Old 02-19-2017, 02:30 PM
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Jerry D Young said "Communications in the PAW are going to be critical to the success and safety of a community. There are several methods that can be used that don’t rely on electricity or electronic devices, though the electronic and electrical methods are the most efficient, by far. Some are more secure than others, though by using fairly simple codes, if needed, all can be made secure from casual listeners/readers/watchers.
Some of these are:
Messengers
Couriers
Signal flags
Heliograph
Horns/trumpets
Drums
Yodeling "

I would like to add Hollering (similar to Yodeling), and trained animal messengers.
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Old 02-19-2017, 05:17 PM
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In heavily wooded areas (coastal WA state), would CB be better than GMRS or MURS?
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