Brushbeater: The Prepper’s Signal Kit

NC Scout at the Brushbeater blog has an article up discussing recommendations for line of sight radio equipment – that is suggestions for VHF and UHF transceivers.

As anyone who’s taken the RTO Course knows, the actual equipment itself doesn’t matter that much with some solid foundational training. One VHF analog radio, functionality-wise, does the same thing as any other VHF analog radio. Students are usually surprised by the neat things you can do with a few bucks spent in wire and electric fence insulators along with guiding hand. We wring the absolute most out of whatever you have. But that aside, I do have some suggestions for the prepper just starting out and the more seasoned survivalist who’s graduated to the jack of all trades phase. Since many folks are asking about current production gear, let’s talk about it- specifically, what gets the job done for the money, and what’s really good for a little higher end.

20160516_114710With that said I’ll state up front that buying a bunch of stuff and putting it in a bag or box and then never using it does you no good. You have to use your gear, whatever it is. Everything I own is used hard and heavy- not abused, mind you, responsible people care for their equipment– but used. I know the ins and outs of what I own, and you can be darn sure that if I suggest it, I not only use it, but I can show you the results. So for the folks that buy a case of Baofengs on Alibaba and then never take them out of the box, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Whether you’re buying a $20 Baofeng, a $200 Yaesu, or something somewhere in between, use your stuff and if it fails, you’ll know its limits. The next thing I’ll say is I definitely don’t require anyone to ‘be a ham’ or have any prior knowledge before coming to class. But having people to talk to is the most important part of the learning process, and like land navigation, marksmanship, and basically anything else, its very much a perishable skill. There is a learning curve to communications, especially emergency and field expedient uses, so having stuff just sitting around ain’t doing much for anyone.

Click here to read the entire article at Brushbeater blog.

Brushbeater: The Brevity Matrix

NC Scout at the Brushbeater blog has an article up about using brevity codes in your communications and how to do it. These are like amateur radio Q-codes or police 10-codes, but tailored to your own needs. Here’s an excerpt from The Brevity Matrix.

20151013_153203…[O]ne of the common questions I get is regarding the length of the reports when they’re sent. If interception is a concern, and it always is, how do we shorten this up or obscure it to the point of being useless to listen to? There’s a few answers to this question, including going high tech/more complicated/more expensive with equipment, more efficient antenna construction for directivity, and finally, creating a BREVMAT.

A Brevity Matrix, or BREVMAT, is a randomly generated series of codes that are commonly understood by your group and shorten the transmission. In the amateur radio world we use Q codes, and 10 codes are the most widely known in both the CB and public service realms. Like I state in class, what you and your group do is up to you- if the basics are observed and everyone is on the same page, then it’s not wrong.

remote setup.jpgTactical BREVMATs are created and included in your Signals Operating Index (SOI), they are recycled each time the SOI changes (which is usually a set period of time, and for missions, mission-specific). This information can then be encoded into a One Time Pad (OTP) message and sent to higher analysis and control element (ACE) if coordinated over a region.

The following is a sample BREVMAT sent in by a very well seasoned reader (it’s much appreciated my friend, stay frosty) and a template for you to follow:

Continue reading at Brushbeater by clicking here.

Brushbeater: Integrating Inter-Team Communications Into Your Kit

NC Scout from Brushbeater blog has some good notes up on Guidelines for Integrating Inter-Team Communications Into Your Kit.

The cornerstone of why you need communications in the field is unit coordination. Teams must have a way to relay what they see and update the situation to other partner teams in the field and to a command location. This is what’s known as Inter-Team Communications and should be thought of as your lifeline for the Small Unit. One of the topics briefly covered in the RTO Course is how to integrate squad-level commo gear into your kit. After training with several groups I’ve noticed that this normally is an afterthought, so it’s something that I address through demonstration of my own gear during the second day. While I don’t require anyone to bring anything to class other than a notebook, pen, comfy shoes and a good attitude, on the FTX there is a little bit of team movement and scratching the surface on Small Unit Tactics (SUT) that I cover elsewhere. There’s a lot of reasons I do this, but its mostly to prove to the student they’re effective with almost nothing.  Everything else is an enhancement to the skill they’re building. Basics never change, and proper adherence of the basics will get you through most situations. The point is not that its an SUT class- its that you’re using your training and gear in the intended environment and showing me that you can apply what you just learned. An RTO (Or RATELO for you Marines) is a critical element of the small unit and as a recent Scout class learned, can be the hardest job on the Team. Together we lay the foundation and provide a context, so that everything else becomes easy and you can add to it to suit your group’s needs. Among the takeaways through a hands on approach is how to integrate Inter-Team communications efficiently into your own personal Second Line or ‘Deuce’ gear (also known as ‘kit’). One of the biggest issues for those looking to conduct patrolling is how to effectively integrate basic communications equipment into their patrolling kits- there’s a right way and a less-right way, centered around making life just a tad easier while moving tactically…

Click here to read the entire article at Brushbeater.

Brushbeater: Skills Over Gear

cropped-brushbeaterSkills Over Gear, or, Doing More With Less via Brushbeater blog

Clothes don’t make the man. All too often in the Survivalist & Prepper scene a lot of focus gets placed on gear. In fact so much so that a lot of sites devolve into simply reviewing individual pieces, which in turn is basically an overview with nothing else. And don’t get me wrong, I love some good kit and appreciate original or out-of-the-box thinking that goes into really innovative products. But skill, specifically mastery of basic skills, can never be supplanted by a product. And in turn, no product will make you better if the fundamentals ain’t there first. Those fundamentals, with some very basic supporting gear, lay the foundation for you to be effective whether it’s combat weaponcraft, movements in potentially hostile environments, or tactical communications. The basics of anything never, ever change. And you might be surprised at what can be done with just a mastery of what’s simple.

TRP.jpgI was in between deployments somewhere around a decade ago and…

Click here to continue reading at Brushbeater.

A Useful Online Tool for Line Of Sight (LOS) Communications

NC Scout over at the Brushbeater blog has a few words up about using online elevation tools to view your RF line of sight between two points.

brushbeater

One of the responsibilities of the RTO in a planning cycle is knowing what tools will cover the distances needed during the patrol. You very well may LOVE license free FRS handhelds, only to get two klicks into the bush to realize they don’t work like you thought they would. These problems are some of the issues we cover in class- and flexibility rules the day. One of the planning tools that makes life easy now is an RF Line of Sight (LOS) tool. Using this will give you an idea of your radius on your terrain, and you can see roughly what you’ll need as far as antenna height and direction. It’s a particularly useful tool for those incorporating sloping vees or yagis into a signals package.

directional wire

And if you wanna take your small unit capability to the next level, get a jump start on your signals skills…

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NC Scout Announces Radiotelephone Operator Course

**UPDATE** The class location is in North Caroling.

NS Scout at the Brushbeater blog has announced his new RTO Course. The first date is March 3-4th, 2018.  The location is not announced, but I would expect it to be somewhere in the South Atlantic states. If you’re in that region, or can easily get there, this should be some good training.

What the RTO Course is:

This course is designed to instruct students on the basics of effective communications in a tactical environment. Students will learn everything from how to create a proper Signals Operating Index and traffic handling to basic antenna theory and construction for local use as well as a primer on how HF works. All of this culminates in an FTX on the second day.

What this course is NOT:

This is not a ‘ham radio’ class. Strong emphasis is placed on ‘making your equipment work in a tactical environment’ versus bombarding the student with technical or hobby-oriented data. We will be working on a level most ‘hams’ never do. So while a license is certainly helpful, it is not required, but by the end of class you’ll come away with a real understanding of why it is an advantage.

While not designed to be physically intense, there will be field work on both days.

RTO Course: $200 per Student

This class will teach students the basics of communications at the Team or Squad Level in the field. Topics of instruction include:

  • Identifying Equipment Requirements
  • Writing a Signals Operating Index
  • PACE Planning for Communications
  • Basic equipment capabilities
  • Traffic handling
  • Improvised antenna types, uses and construction
  • Setting up and running an NVIS HF station
  • Message Formats
  • Setting up and communicating from a Hide site

Two day course will culminate in an field training event running a TOC station and Hide site in the field. Students will each build an antenna and demonstrate competency in team communications basics during the field exercise. Amateur Radio license qualification is helpful, but not required. This is NOT a ‘ham radio’ class but each student will come away with a basic understanding of a team’s communications needs in a tactical environment and how to best meet them under less-than-ideal circumstances. No equipment is required for this course; however, if students want to get field practice with their own gear, it is highly encouraged but done so at their own risk. Instruction is completely off-grid.

 

Update 2: Brushbeater has posted a student’s review of the RTO course. Click here.

Brushbeater: Questions Concerning Church Security Details (Comms)

NC Scout of the Brushbeater blog has written a short article concerning communication protocols for a church security detail.

It’s a sad reality that I have to write this, but I am heartened by the fact that people are asking these questions. We live in an age of Christian persecution, whether some wish to admit it or not, and that persecution has led to our Churches and gatherings becoming easy targets. The paradigm shift from simple castigation and stigma to legal discrimination has slid, predictably, to violence amid a society where nothing is deemed Holy…

That said, I was presented with the following question:

I’m on my Church’s security detail and comms are pretty relaxed and there is no real protocol in place. Can you give me some pointers, etc?

This is a much deeper topic than it appears…

Click here to read the full article at Brushbeater

RELATED:

Force Dynamics: Church Training

Sheepdog Seminars – Church Safety Seminars

Principle Defense Systems: Security Team Tactics training

Carl Chinn – Church Security

Brushbeater: Reveille in America

Another good blog post from NC Scout over at the Brushbeater blog.

First Call, Americans. Out of your bunks. For a good portion of you out there, a year ago you went to sleep. That attitude driven by a very real fear of government out of control over eight years produced diamonds. For many, it meant getting serious about preparing yourselves, family and neighborhoods for uncertain times. And then, you went to sleep. Your guy got in, and he’d make it all right. Everything would be fixed, time to rejoice and rest on those laurels. He’ll undo all the wrongs and the lever pullers of power would truly yield to vox populi. And then, you went to sleep…

Rekindle that fire you had a year ago. Your five minute breather is over. Pick up your rucks and start walking again. You don’t have enough food or ammo for what’s coming. Prep harder, train harder. Go back to your Churches. And while your at it, seek out training from experienced folks even if you think you know it all- because I promise you, that outside viewpoint or different opinion may make a big difference. You can’t learn it by only reading a blog; you have to go and do. Your enemy is training, and they want you dead. Reveille is sounding, American. Do you hear it?

Click here to continue reading at Brushbeater.

Brushbeater: A Few Notes on the Current ‘Happenings’

From NC Scout over at the Brushbeater blog comes his musings on current happenings, the non-event of the coincidentally timed annual MARS-ARES interoperability radio exercise, doom-sayers, North Korea, and instability in our own government. Here is an excerpt from A Few Notes on the Current ‘Happenings.’

Wild times we’re living in. And a lot of uncertainty coupled with real reasons to prepare. A big part of that is being well informed. There’s good stuff out there and a lot of well meaning people, and then again there’s a lot of throwback fear mongers and blatant disinformation that people should really know better than to pay attention to. Don’t believe most of what you read and only about half of what you see. Pretty good rule, right? One of the reasons I started this blog, all the way back to the beginning, was to point out some simple codified ways for Right-leaning folks to a) collect & verify information and b) share it sans-grid. In fact one of the first things I wrote was how to do so for Sparks31’s old blog [a re-run of that post can be found here] So naturally, as its gained attention over the past couple of years, things come across my desk that inspired the whole reason for me to begin writing in the first place…

Click here to read the entire post.

Related:

Emergency/Tactical First Aid Class

Full Spectrum Training

Forward Observer

Why Small Team Tactics

Is This What You Call Being Prepared?

Brushbeater: Better Things – Think Local; Act Local

NC Scout over at Brushbeater blog has this article out on taking action and working locally, Better Things, Or, Doing Versus Talking.  More people are waking to up to the realization that things just aren’t right in the world and feeling that they need to do something about it.

I know it’s all going straight to hell, it’s nothing new and it’s what many have been saying for a long, LONG time. We are a nation under Judgement. Don’t focus on the big picture. You can’t fix it. But you can fix your own situation locally. You can meet the good folks next door. You can meet the good folks raising their own food and selling it at the farmer’s market. You can meet the good folks owning the micro brewery and hosting the beer festivals. You can meet the guys testing the handloads at the range and swapping numbers. You can lane coach the couple struggling to zero that new AR while you’re at that range. You can talk to like-minded people on the radiowaves, like I do with my friends. You can go to church, even if it’s not ‘your’ denomination, just to meet people who live and do in your community. It doesn’t do anyone any good to simply read what they want to hear, channeling some useless venom that doesn’t do anything other than cause more of a problem- thus I stay above it, as do the wise. More often than not the stuff is written by people who can’t do, hence why they complain.

IMG_0410Get out there and do it, whatever it is. Stop making it a hobby and start making it a lifestyle. Take care of home and hearth along with your close ones, and don’t forget those close by. Even if you think they’re a lost cause, people will surprise you, with a lot more folks into this preper thing than you realize- with a lot of folks not calling it that. You can learn from them, and they you. And with every hurricane, earthquake or human disaster, more good people wake up. Those late to the game tend to prep even harder, because they’ve got even stronger motivation. Go drop a deer or two this fall, learn how to skin game, make sausage and fill a freezer without spending a bunch of money. Teach your kids the joy of eating wild. And while you’re at it, start figuring out ways to work independent of a grid- find out how folks did stuff back in the days before consistent power.

Click here to read the entire article

Brushbeater: Open-Source Drone Warfare

NCScout at Brushbeater has a post on using drones and electronic warfare against them. Employ a drone or worry about nefarious drone users? Read on!

But the technology over the past decade has experienced a renaissance. Rightly so. It has a number of significant advantages- namely, the eye in the sky provides a large force multiplier eliminating dead space (what groups on the ground can’t see), can in some cases provide a communications relay platform, and most significant, provides a weapons delivery system that attacks with little to no warning and carries with it no culpability. From the State’s perspective this reduces the human cost of war and is politically advantageous; from the insurgent perspective, a platform that kills without warning…

Finding all of that data via Open Sources, we now have a huge step towards doing two things: Intercepting Drone Data or Jamming and Disabling them. From knowing the properties of the frequencies themselves, we can say that the ground control is Line of Sight, meaning the operator is nearby and can be intercepted themselves. But this is not the only spread of spectrum Common Off The Shelf (COTS) drones operate on. Digging a little deeper, we also find them operating on 5.8GHz for real-time video, or First Person View operation. This means guiding it via a camera. But what if, in the field, drones are being built that don’t use this spectrum? These are for the off-the-shelf or open source models, but not necessarily for 100% of them in the air. The only way to know is to have the capability to monitor the airwaves in that spectrum

Source: Open-Source Drone Warfare

6 Meters: Survivalist Magic

NC Scout writes of the utility of the six meter amateur radio band, while also encouraging people to acquire better radio gear than the cheapest thing they can get.

These days, nearly exclusively, when someone brings up survivalist communications, the default always resigns to some sort of chinese dual bander with the added justification “because its cheap!” Nevermind the fact that the build quality is junk and the thing will likely fail the person using it sooner rather than later, they keep being bought because the personality cults of the Internet tell them to…only because they’re cheap. But if one thought critically, all those folks having the ability to listen to hi band VHF and UHF might be a bad thing- especially if you’re looking for any sort of security.

Your area may be different, but around here there’s next to no activity on some of the other bands…you know, the ones Baofeng doesn’t make a radio for. Especially interesting for Survivalists is the capability the 6M band offers- with little to no overall traffic, great capability in rural terrain and many older repeaters sitting idle, 6M really needs more consideration for those actually concerned with creating a capable net versus those just cosplaying…

Source: 6 Meters: Survivalist Magic  Click to continue reading.

Brushbeater: Data Books and What Should Be in Them

NC Scout over at the Brushbeater blog has yet another good article up, this one about the importance of data books.

Why Should I Take The Time To Bother With All This? Because, as with everything else, having a handy-dandy back pocket reference to whip out makes recalling critical info easy. If you’re of the mindset that everything as you know it will be the same when you’re shivering, exhausted and afraid, you’re absolutely wrong.

I had a soldier who stepped on a toe popper in Afghanistan. What’s a toe popper? A small IED placed to kill or maim a small group or lone bubba. We were absolutely spent- a 15 mile movement through the mountains, up and down, all night- and boom, he was down. You don’t think at that point, you default to your highest level of training. Time to treat and send up the 9-line…which was the easy part, because it was already laid out. I had not only memorized the 9-line MEDEVAC report on two previous deployments but had written many- and yet I defaulted to the notes. Because I couldn’t think at that point, with the training taking over and the data book filling in that gap.

For our common purpose, there’s a ton of data that could be included that goes far beyond simply what was listed previously (although that stuff is absolutely critical) such as infrastructure information…

Source: Back to Basics: Data Books and What Should Be in Them

Brushbeater: Quantity vs. Quality: Putting the Handheld Radio in Context

From NC Scout over at Brushbeater comes another excellent communications post.

During the Communications presentation at the PatCon I focused primarily upon the common radio equipment among preppers and survivalists- CB radio because of its inherent commonality (and overcoming potential weaknesses) and the Baofeng UV-5R because it’s cheap and everyone owns them ‘BY THE CASE!’ as one gentleman in attendance pointed out. While that’s all good and well to have plenty of units in the field, and there’s a lot that can be done with them for those thinking outside the box, the ubiquitous  chicom handheld is FAR from ideal for any use other than an inexpensive testbed for antennas or running alternative modes going beyond just pressing a button and talking. The prevailing issue is that people want to do what is not easy to accomplish alone without knowledge of limitations- compounded in part by equipment and a larger part by knowledge.

There exists a strong differentiation which must be made; Survivalist or Retreat Communications is a different animal from Tactical Communications...

Continue reading the article at Brushbeater.com by clicking here.