Post by malewithatail on Feb 8, 2021 18:13:01 GMT 10
Here goes, a simplified explanation, so don't get to uptight if its not technically 100%. I will go through our strategy. PM me for further clarification, and yes, I have been a Ham operator for over 45 years and build a lot of my own transmitting and receiving gear. Note also that everything you say on air can be listened to by the other side, so don't give away information that might compromise your group.
Basic comms gear.
Enough UHF cb radios for all members of the group, plus a few spares. Either solar chargers for the battery's, or a central charging station. At the minimum, a UHF cb in all vehicles, including the tractor and quad bike. Pick a channel that has no activity in your area, one of the higher ones is usually ok. Give all members a short education as to how to use the radios, and what's expected from them in the way of clear communications and getting a message across. Don't confuse the issue with selective calling, cctss etc, just keep it simple. Handheld cb's have a noise free range of about 2 to 3 km in the bush, maybe 5 km on open land, the units in vehicles, with better aerials and more power range can be up to 10 km on open ground. However, height is everything. Hilltop to hilltop ranges can exceed 50 km. We will cover repeaters later. I also have a couple of 27 meg handheld cb's, that are in our bug out gear. The range of these sets is theoretically worldwide. Remember, not knowing what's happening will cause stress and anxiety in your group. 27 meg gear suffers from more noise, but has the potential for much longer range, as the signals will be reflected from the ionosphere back to earth, whilst UHF signals aren't and just keep on going into space. (As an aside, our Earth, at radio frequencies, will be lighting up like a small sun with a diameter of 100 light years due to all the RF we are putting out.). Any neighbors should also have UHF gear. A base station set up in the kitchen, operating from a battery and charged by solar is also a good idea.
A repeater is a special radio transceiver that receives on one frequency, and simultaneously retransmits on another frequency. They are sited on high spots, such as mountain tops, and some are solar powered to give comms even during blackouts or other disasters. They are usually maintained by the local community, such as the SES or Progress Association, but some are privately maintained. The advantage is that the location allows for much greater range, and typically it can extend the range of your handheld from 5 km to 100 km, or more. I can access our local UHF repeater from 100 km away with a small handheld, and then communicate with someone over 150 km away in the other direction, all with a small handheld radio. However, its is difficult to protect the installation from an EMP/CME so don't expect to rely on it after such an event.
Short waves are a band of frequencies that are reflected by the ionosphere back to earth and then from the earth back to the ionosphere etc, enabling long range communications. There is a maximum useable frequency that if exceeded, the waves just keep on going into space. This frequency changes continually and is influenced by sun spots, storms, meteor showers etc, but can be predicted and there are stations spread thorough the world that continually transmit and monitor the reflected wave to determine the best frequency to use. A bit out of our league though.
The ionosphere is also affected by sunlight and moves higher at night, allowing for longer ranges, its density also changes from day to night, further changing propagation conditions.
This explains why reception is better at night than during the day.
You should have at least one decent short wave receiver. Modern digital ones are nice but not necessary for our purposes. It would be better to spend the money on a used communications receiver from say the 1970's than a new digital one, as the older gear is just as serviceable and sensitive, perhaps better in that there is no digital noise to cause distraction whilst listening. Some 1970's hi fi tuner units (Pioneer etc), had a reasonably sensitive short wave receiver built in, and they are cheap now. Get something, the major short wave broadcasters make sure you will hear them as they broadcast with lots of power, like the BBC, Radio Australia etc. At this stage you want intel, listen for information, pass it around. You will become a valuable member of your group.
What type ? This is what I have and know works.
My main receiver is a WW2 Kingsly AR7, fitted with a digital frequency readout to enable accurate frequency readings. Its all valves and inherently EMP/CME proof, being powered from 12 v dc with a ww2 genemotor, no solid state electronics to go wrong at all. It is fully useable without the digital display. A National HRO, or the older Heathkits, or Hallicrafters are also EMP proof, by virtue of their use of valves. They are around, but expect to pay $1,000's for one in restored condition. I have several backup radios. A homemade all valve receiver, and a older Tandy Realistic DX-160 transistor set. I have a SONY icf2001, about 40 years old now, but still useable. Just don't expect parts to be available for it as they used some rather special integrated circuits that are pure unobtanium now. Kenwood also make a range of decent radios, as does Yaesu. Some Ham transceivers have a general coverage receiver built in as well. Most of these are solid state, so might not survive an emp attack. Jaycar have some short wave radios, but I've had to repair a number of them that have had dry solder joints, so be awair. (They were more than 12 months old and out of warranty and they wouldn't supply service information for them). Once again, being able to build your own means you can repair your own.
At a pinch, the old valve radio in dads shed may be able to be got going and some of them were quite sensitive, especially those with Radio frequency amplifying stages. The newer comms modes of ssb wont be resolvable, but after tshtf, most broadcasts you will be interested in will be the major news services from the BBC etc.
The cheap $30 radios from Jaycar etc do work, but are difficult to use due to small dials and knobs, but are designed to pick up the major international broadcasters. Just be aware that after TS has HTF, these same broadcasters may have to operate at lower powers due to transmitter damage.
Other radios to consider.
Obviously, being a Han operator, I have several other radios. I have the 144 meg (2meter) band covered with a Yaesu FT290 R all mode transceiver and 100 watt amp, 27 Megs Cb with a SSB/AM Krako transceiver, obviously a UHF 80 channel CB, a couple of scanners, one programmed with the RFS fireground frequencies, the other with odd services, a decent AM/FM car radio for local news and a high frequency Ham transceiver, currently a Yaseu FT 901D, fitted with the 11 meter option. A aerial tuning unit completes the setup. Its all powered from a 500 amp hr, 12 volts battery, charged with 500 odd watts of solar panels, plus a tie to the main house solar if needed. A 2kw 240 volt and 650 watt 240 volt inverter gives ac and there is led lighting throughout the radio room. My standby ham transceiver is a Kenwood TS520S, as well as a homemade all band transmitter, and the knowledge to build one if needed.
If everything has failed and its really gone bad, I have a short wave crystal set that doesn't need battery's etc. But I suppose if its gone that far, there wont be any broadcasts anyway. I also have a crystal set the size of a credit card in our bug out gear, as it needs no battery's and just a roll of thin wire for an aerial.
Another benefit of the crystal radio is that it is untraceable. Something I've not seen mentioned anywhere else is tracing you from the electronics you are using, and not just your cellphone.
Many in Australia and England, may remember the radio and tv detector vans that roamed the streets, looking for unlicensed radio and tv sets in the 50's and 60's. The principle on which they work is to listen for the local oscillator from the tv set tuner, and then use some simple direction finding gear to locate, sometimes even to the corner of the room, the set was in. They could even tell what channel you were watching from the frequency of the oscillator. All modern radios and indeed communication devices, use the superhetrodyning principle and can be detected, even satellite tv as it all uses the same design principle. However, there is certain technology that doesn't use the superhet principle and is therefore undetectable, and one is the crystal set. The 1920's trf type radio and a regenerative detector that is not regenerating also falls under the undetectable category.
There are many many disadvantages with crystal sets, lack of sensitivity, little selectivity (all stations appear at once), very low output, so headphones are the only way to listen, but its a simple design, and doesn't need battery's, ever. My short wave set has a small Darlington transistor to give some amplification, and this requires a battery, but due to the tiny current drain, a used AA penlight battery will last for its shelf life, and it will even operate on a homemade battery made from salt wetted paper and a couple of coins, or an iron and copper nail pushed into a potato etc. My bug out crystal set is the size of a credit card, including 50 meters wire for an aerial. Jaycar have one, its only about $20, so get one and put it together. It only covers the am broadcast band, but it doesn't matter as the local stations should be on air, broadcasting who knows what, but its all intel, even if its wrong.
As you may have realized, I hold to the "two is one and one is none" philosophy, and always have multiple backup plans ready. Get into that mindset, it will save your life one day.
Many books have been written about this subject, so here is a simple explanation.
For short waves and the AM band, bigger (longer) is better and biggest is best, up to a point. That point is where a radio overloads the input stage and all sorts of funny signals appear in different places on the dial. Generally, a communications receiver is designed to accept a long wire antenna, whilst a $30 pocket radio isn't. Be aware that sticking a wire up in the air makes it a target for lightning, so I disconnect and earth my aerials during storms or when the radios aren't in use. For essential radios, the uhf cb etc, I use in line lightning arresters that hopefully will divert the strike away from the radio. No guarantees though as lightning is unpredictable. A piece of wire, say 2.5 mm mains wire, about 30 m long, strung as high as possible, and tied off with electric fence insulators each end will pull in more signals on a reasonable short wave set than you can listen to. For UHF cb and 27 meg cb, resonant vertical aerials are easily available, and all band scanner aerials are also available. A junked car radio aerial works well for the car radio that you listen to the local news on. When you get a Ham license, then you can learn all about standing waves, aerial tuning units, impedance matching and so on.
One very useful item, that cost very little, is a fm broadcast unit that is sold to play your mp3 player through your car radio. Ive got one and have a small switch box that connects it to any radio in the radio room, so that when im out working in the yard, I can monitor a radio channel. It also can be connected to the PC to listen to podcasts etc. I use a Sony Walkman for this and the fm broadcaster is connected to a small aerial to give about 100 foot of range. Its not strong enough to leave the property boundaries though. WTSHTF your going to be busy surviving, so it will be necessary to keep up to date with what's happening. Remember, intelligence gathering will be a big part of life after a collapse, listening to where others are, and even the bad guys will need to communicate, hence a scanner to cover all the usual 2 way radio bands.
If it happens, no one is really sure what effect it will have on modern electronics, cars etc. Its a good idea to have backup gear, in a metal box, insulated from contact with another metal box around it. To test if your creation works, put your phone in it and ring it. If the phone rings, its not shielded enough. Vie found that a shipping container is reasonably shielded and no signal gets in when the doors lightly closed. Interestingly enough, my metal gun cabinet also kills the reception of a cell phone. have backup copies of important documents, photos, music etc on multiple DVD's as these should survive, even if a pc to play them back on doesn't.
I have all 240 volt inverter circuits protected with high speed industrial gas surge arresters, rated at 500,000 joules. Maybe they will work, maybe not, but at least I've given the system a fighting chance. I hope the arrestors flash over and trip the inverters off, but who knows ? Spare inverters, locked away in a shipping container, are also part of the backup plan.
What about my ute ? I carry a spare engine management computer, igniter and timing mechanism under the front seat, all wrapped up in several layers of aluminum foil, insulated from each other, plus the tools to change it out. I can rebuild the entire engine system in less that 1/2 hr on the side of the road if needed. I read of a test done on a reasonably new BMW, and when subjected to a pulse equivalent to an emp, not even the BMW mechanics could get it going again, I believe they wrote off the car, so tough if you drive something like that. In other cars, you may be able to disconnect the battery for a few minutes and then reconnect it. This may reset the computer to its defaults that are called the "limp home mode" and may get it going again. You people who think your smart with an older diesel vehicle, think again. The fuel is turned on and off (to start and stop the engine) by a small electric solenoid, built INSIDE the injector pump. If that's failed, you are going nowhere. Modern injector pumps don't have external cables or levers to shut them down, so you will be just a stranded as others, and unless you know what you are doing, injector pumps aren't designed to be stripped down by the side of the road.
Always use the lowest power level that maintains the communications path. Not only will it minimize the chance of your position being compromised, but its actually in the regulations that you have to abide by.
Radios in vehicles.
What to install in a vehicle?
Firstly, a UHF CB radio, with a decent 6 db. or better antenna. This type of aerial will double your range, on receive and transmit due to it having gain,.
2nd, if you are a Ham, 2 meters FM, with a 5/8 wavelength aerial. My ute has an old Kenwood 7200 that uses crystals for channel selection, its worth nothing and I've fitted it with CCTSS for the local Ham repeater. If I have to leave the ute and bug home on foot, then its no great loss to the comms gear. I have a all band all mode hf transceiver that I could install in my ute, but if I cant get it going after an EMP, I will have to leave it and that's a radio down. I have a small UHF transceiver and spare battery's in my BHB, as well as a small multiband transistor radio.
3rd, I also have a short wave converter attached to the aerial of the car radio, enabling me to monitor the major short wave bands whilst mobiling home. It is very simple, uses 1 low cost integrated circuit from a dead mobile phone, and cost almost nothing to make and If I have to leave it, too bad. It also has a Beat Frequency Oscillator, so I can receive Ham communications on ssb, or single side band and cw (Morse code). It simply switches in and out enabling me to still use the car radio for normal programs.
Another reason for not putting a HF Ham transceiver in the ute is that the aerial will stand out and draw unwanted attention to me. A couple of what looks like cb aerials doesn't stand out much.
One big advantage with older style gear is that the circuit schematics are readily available for older gear, and it uses discreet components and not specialized integrated circuits, making it easier to fix if needed.
Its no good having all the gear, if when you need it, it doesn't work. Check it regularly, weekly is best. Fire it all up and make sure all the functions work. Know how to use it, some of the newer gear needs a 100 page manual, and that's just to turn the thing on !
What frequencies will I listen to at first ?
These are some prepper frequencies, on the 40 meter Ham band, monitor 7.178 megs (LSB), and 7.242 megs, and on the 20 meter band, monitor 14.235 Megs (USB) and 14.242 megs. On a 27 meg CB, channel 14 (27.125Mhz) is a good start as a lot of handheld radios are on that frequency. Channel 19, USB, upper side band, is what a lot of north American truckies are on. On UHF, find out what channel your local repeater is on. Channel 29 is the highway channel in Eastern Australia. There is a push from the RFS to establish UHF channel 5 (the emergency channel) as a communications bridge between emergency services and the general public.
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