AmRRON: T-REX “News” Has Begun

AmRRON has released the first TEOTWAWKI Readiness Exercise (T-REX) 2019 related news. You can find the T-REX news page here. The active exercise begins on July 26th, but you can expect escalating drill news to be released periodically, ramping up to the main event.

15 July 09 Exercise,Exercise,Exercise-Traffic .
///MSG/// The Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning advising all commercial and public internet users to be vigilant for possible cyber intrusion into commercial cyber controllers, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), and internet servers. All commercial and public internet users are advised to review the following document: https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/content/overview-cyber-vulnerabilities
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. ///END OF MSG//

Here is some background for this year’s T-REX:

This years T-REX is primarily centered around a cyber attack on PLC’s (programmable logic controllers). These small devices provide computer control of many of our industrial and infrastructure mechanical devices. You may remember the “STUXNET” virus that struck Iran’s nuclear program. The virus attacked PLC’s that controlled the speed of uranium centrifuges and caused them to spin out of control resulting in failure and damage to the centrifuges. It is hypothesized that the STUXNET virus was introduced into the Iranian computers through a compromised USB drive.

In addition to the cyber attack on the PLC’s, this T-REX will incorporate other types of cyber attacks into commercial infrastructure and ATM’s, medical devices and communications services.

The following link will give a good overview on how to prevent cyber intrusion into infrastructure devices and is worth reading. Overview of Cyber Vulnerabilities

Recommended Reading: Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet World’s First Digital Weapon
VPN- NORD VPN

 

ARRL: Hurricane Watch Net Keeping Eye on Tropical Storm Barry

From the Amateur Radio Relay League:

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said the net is “keeping a very close eye” on Tropical Storm Barry, which could develop into a Category 1 hurricane. The HWN has announced no plans to activate, however, and remains at Alert Level 2 — monitoring mode.

At 2100 UTC, the storm’s center was 90 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi and some 175 miles southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana. The storm is generating maximum sustained winds of 40 MPH with higher gusts and is moving to the west at 5 MPH.

“Although hurricane watches and warnings are now in effect, the National Hurricane Center states that Barry could become a hurricane prior to landfall,” Graves noted. “Even if Barry does not reach Category 1 hurricane status, wind gusts to hurricane force are possible in the warning area. Regardless, if Barry becomes a hurricane or not, this system is looking to be a major rainmaker.”

Forecasters concur that the storm will continue to intensify until making landfall. A danger exists of life-threatening storm surge along the coast of southern and southeastern Louisiana. The storm’s slow movement will result in an extended period of heavy rainfall and the threat of flooding along the central Gulf Coast and inland through the lower Mississippi Valley through the weekend into early next week, forecasters said.

 

Here is the standard HWN activation plan:

When activated, you will find us on 14.325 MHz (USB) by day and 7.268 MHz (LSB) by night. If propagation dictates, daytime operations will be conducted on both frequencies simultaneously. Why do we state these frequencies without a plus or minus amount? Because those who are operating using marine radios have to program in the frequencies – marine radios do not have a VFO or RIT. Furthermore, these two frequencies come preprogrammed into many marine radios. Many non-hams listen in via shortwave radio and know this is where to find us when we are activated…

NOTE: During any Net activation, operations on 7.268.00 MHz will suspend @ 7:30 AM ET to allow the “Waterway Radio and Cruising Club Net – WRCC” (aka, the Waterway Net) to conduct their daily morning Net. If required, due to poor daytime propagation on 14.325.00 MHz, operations on 7.268.00 MHz may be required at the conclusion of the Water Way Net, generally around 8:30 AM ET.

Whenever the Hurricane Watch Net is not active, you can hear the latest information on 14.300.00 MHz.

As a special note to those who monitor when the net is active, we ask that you please honor our request for you remain quiet unless specifically called upon for assistance.

NatGeo: New Orleans Braces for Major Flooding from Tropical Storm Barry Continue reading “ARRL: Hurricane Watch Net Keeping Eye on Tropical Storm Barry”

2019 NW APRS Summer Gathering, North Bend, SEP 6-8

The 2019 Northwest APRS/Digital Summer Gathering will be held on Sept. 6th through 8th at Valley Camp in North Bend, WA. WA7VC is the Valley Camp Amateur Radio Group, serving the Upper Snoqualmie Valley community since 1995.

Valley Camp is location about 30 minutes east of Seattle. (Directions from their website are located below)

Address:
49515 S.E. Middle Fork Rd
North Bend WA 98045

Coordinates:
47.4680, -121.6806

WA7VC on air contact info:

There are a number of ways to reach us either via good ‘ol RF or the internet:

  • 70cm Simplex: 446.525 (no tone)
  • Echolink: Node 98045 (or Valley Camp)
  • IRLP: 7808
  • DSTAR: WA7VC B on 440.01250Mhz + 5.000Mhz
  • APRS: WA7VC 10 Digi-iGate 144.390
  • DMR: NorthBend-ValleyCamp 440.7250 + 5.000Mhz

Our on-site EchoIRLP node is powered by a Raspberry Pi. It offers the following commands:

  • Read the current time
  • Read data from Snoqualmie Falls river gauging station
  • Read data from North Fork river gauging station
  • Read data from Middle Fork river gauging station
  • Read data from South Fork river gauging station

 

AmRRON T-REX 2019 Save the Date, July 26-28

The 2019 TEOTWAWKI Readiness Exercise will be held over the weekend of July 26 through 28. Save the date now to save yourself later. The AmRRON T-REX is a radio communication disaster exercise, but you can follow along with the disaster scenario even if you don’t have a radio. (Click here to see the 2018 T-REX archives.) For AmRRON and its members, the exercise is a functional to full-scale exercise. If you wish to participate on your own with your local group, you can work it as a walk-through, tabletop, or more as you see fit.

AmPart: ARRL Field Day 2019

Johny Mac at American Partisan has a nice short article on this weekend’s ARRL Field Day and why people who want to be prepared should get into amateur radio as well as how to do so.

…the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) Field Day will commence at 1400 hrs. Saturday June 22nd and run till 1400 hrs. Sunday. Field Day is a big event for all Amateur Radio operators and clubs across North America.

Looking at the ARRL site they write:

“Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.”

If you have been meaning to get into ham radio take the time to attend one of the many field day events put on by your local area club. To find a Field Day event do an interwiz search for your counties Amateur Radio club. Once found go to their site and if they are participating in the event, I am sure there will be an invitation to the event. The ARRL also has a location finder located here but beware that at this time the ARRL may not have all of the locations for the event uploaded. I would try both – Interwiz search and using the ARRL locator.

ARRL continues to explain the objective of the event as…

“To work as many stations as possible on the 160, 80, 40, 20,15 and 10 Meter HF bands, as well as all bands 50 MHz and above, and to learn to operate in abnormal situations in less than optimal conditions. Field Day is open to all amateurs in the areas covered by the ARRL/RAC Field Organizations and countries within IARU Region 2. DX stations residing in other regions may be contacted for credit, but are not eligible to submit entries.”

Okay, with that all reported, how many American Partisan readers have their amateur radio ticket? If you do not, it is time to stop adding to your gun safe and seriously think about working towards getting it.

I have a very good friend who is a prepper, not part of my group, who keeps telling me that he has a transceiver and when the SHTF happens he will figure it out – Bovem de stercore!

It’s like running a gun, practicing patrols, or testing TC3 techniques; you will fall flat on your face unless you learn now before the bullets start flying…

American Partisan: Home Brew – NVIS Antenna

Johny Mac at American Partisan has an article up at American Partisan on making your own NVIS antenna. A near-vertical incidence skywave (NVIS) antenna is used in the high frequency (HF) spectrum from around 1.8MHz to  10MHz in order to cover an approximate radius/range of 300 miles. HF is usually used for long distance communication around the world, and most antennas are built to maximize range, but those antennas can often cause the radio signal to skip or make a gap in the range from about fifty to three hundred miles.  The NVIS antenna redirects the radio signal in such a way that it covers that gap at the sacrifice of the longer distance contacts. This makes the NVIS antenna ideal for communications during a regional disaster.

If you do not know what a NVIS antenna is and why it is a great addition to your antenna farm, go and read these four articles. The first being from NC Scout titled, Near Vertical Incidence Skywave – Simplified, then NVIS I, NVIS II, and NVIS III authored by Key Pounder and published on NC Scout’s site, Brushbeater.

At a 100,000-foot level though, a NVIS antenna is a dipole antenna that has a steeper transmit angle than a traditional horizontal flat-top dipole antenna and is located closer to the ground at between 8 to 15-feet Vs. a traditional 1/4λ height; let’s say 30 to 60-feet over tera firma. This allows you to transmit to other stations closer to your AO that you may skip over using a flat-top horizontal dipole antenna. Think of the skip bounced off the ‘F’ layer of the ionosphere being 25 to 50-miles Vs. 200 to 300-miles. The German Army developed this procedure during WW II to communicate with troops via the airwaves closer to the transmitting station.

Traditional dipole antenna radiation Vs. NVIS radiation

I started out building my NVIS antenna using the directions posted on the DX Engineeringsite as my blue-prints for the project. Although you can buy a kit from DX Engineering, I had plenty of hardware around the redoubt so I decided to save a few bucks. Below is my Mise en place for this build. Hams are the true scroungers of this earth…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

AmPart: Directional Antennas for the Small Unit, Part I and II

NC Scout at American Partisan has started a series of articles on antenna theory called Directional Antennas for the Small Unit. If you’re just getting started in radio communication, or you’ve been using it for a while but haven’t spent much time getting to know your antennas, this is a good start.

Directional Antennas For The Small Unit, Part 1

One of the biggest misconceptions behind communications security revolves around misunderstanding not just the role of the equipment but also how it functions. A big part of that is the basics of antenna theory. For most radio seems to be a plug and play kinda deal- it either works, or it doesn’t. Antennas are a type of voodoo magic and the solution to security is electronic encryption. Except it isn’t, and doesn’t do anything except mask what you’re saying, but not the fact you’re saying it. Guerrillas must rely on not being detected- and no matter how high tech you think you are, it’ll not solve a tradecraft issue.

The reality is that we’ll be working with equipment that is common and off the shelf- no matter how much we want those microwave NSA-encrypted troposcatter radios made of unobtanium, a big part of local networking is done via plain old VHF and UHF amateur and commercial gear that’s common. Guerrilla communications have to be harder to detect. And at the strategic level when building an underground network, you have to understand how to plan. Even with the cheap equipment most of you likely have, incorporating a level of planning into your local communications will yield a much higher level of security and success. Knowing and understanding directional antennas becomes a key part of that planning, and as we cover in the Advanced RTO Course, there’s several options that each get the job done.

Directional Antennas such as this Yagi seen here offer security by ‘beaming’ our transmission in the direction its pointed.

Directional antennas accomplish two goals for us. First, generally speaking, if you’re not in the direction of the transmission you’re not going to hear the traffic. Because of this it offers a big advantage in the security department. If two directional antennas are transmitting toward one another, they’ll be able to communicate with the only people hearing the full conversation being in the middle of the two people. The second advantage is that instead of all our energy going in all directional at once, as with an omnidirectional antenna, a directional antenna sends the same amount of radiated energy in one direction- greatly increasing our range and signal strength in that direction, so we won’t need nearly as much power to accomplish to reliably communicate over a distance you might not have thought otherwise possible…

 

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

Click here to read Part II at American Partisan.

Brushbeater RTO (Radio Operator) Course, Hamilton, MT – June 15-16, 2019

NC Scout of the Brushbeater blog will be holding his RTO Basic course again in Hamilton, MT (south of Missoula), on June 15 & 16, 2019. This is the only date on the calendar in 2019 that is in western USA.

Contact brushbeater@tutanota.com for class inquiries and to register.

The Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) Course is designed to take the individual of any and every experience level and teach them the basics of effective small unit communications in a field environment. Students will learn what it takes to set up a plan and implement communications in an improvised setting be it anything from a retreat to a security patrol to regional communications networking groups. A heavy emphasis of the course is on improvisation and antenna building- each student will construct antennas from improvised materials which they keep. This is NOT a “ham radio” class. No equipment or previous experience is required; only a notebook and a good pair of shoes. It is the only course of its kind offered anywhere, in a friendly, laid back and respectful environment.

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.

RTO Course: $300 per Student in advance

 

RELATED:

Brushbeater: Montana RTO Course and Other Admin Notes

OH8STN: Grid Down EMCOMM Winter Edition

Julian at OH8STN.org is full of useful amateur radio information. In the piece excerpted below, he talks about winter emergency communications and the difference between preparing for emergency communications when there is a large logistics tail on the move to support you and emergency communications in a long term or grid down scenario. Here’s a bit from Grid Down EMCOMM Winter Edition:

EMCOMM VS Communications Preparedness

There’s a huge disconnect between the yellow vest wearing emergency communications Community within amateur radio, and those seeking to learn and or develop skills for communications preparedness. They both have completely different methodologies, but they are overlapping.

  • With EMCOMM (North American Edition), we almost always have an expectation of a large Logistics deployment machine, deploying resources after the fact. Hopefully this will change after the horrific lessons of Puerto Rico.
  • With Communications Preparedness, our focus is grid down Communications in the thick of the disaster. There’s no Logistics, no one’s coming to help right away, so we are left on our own, getting information into and out of an active disaster zone.

Right now neither the EMCOMM community or the Communications Preparedness crowd are speaking the same language. They simply don’t understand one another. I suspect anyone reading this blog, or watching my videos has a firm grasp of both sides of this “Niche within a niche” as my friend John calls it. This disconnect between the two communities is critical for understanding and ultimately deployment in the field…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I87136fTa8

Click here to read the entire article (and see video) at OH8STN.org.

AmPart: Wargaming Dangers to Your Area

NC Scout is full of useful information, and luckily he is willing to share that information with us all. In his post Situational Awareness and Wargaming Your AO, NC Scout gives us a short explanation about how to about thinking over how critical infrastructure in your area could be attacked. He’s particular interested in communication infrastructure, but the same targeting process can be used toward anything.

The most important questions you should be asking right now are not the hypothetical or abstract simply naming ‘SHTF!’, rather, it needs to be rationally rooted in the MOST LIKELY and MOST DEADLY courses of action (MLCOA / MDCOA). What causes this “SHTF?” Who will be taking advantage of it? One of the overtones of my recent classes has been discussing the growing local antifa movement and (somewhat) wargaming/red celling capabilities, with emergency services communications systems coming into question. Think on that one for a second. It’s a dangerous proposition that many overlook- there’s a real threat to the robustness of emergency service equipment and as we become more and more complex, they become more and more vulnerable. From my perspective, this makes understanding and maintaining my own off-grid communications and action networks that much more important. And it should you too…

This is not some overseas and out of mind terror group. This is Antifa in the US. And they’ve built a cadre of combat vets from their time fighting in Rojava. What have you been doing?

.Building independent, self-sustaining communities is paramount, as well as being the strongest survivalist plan, but its important to recognize that threats are more than just simplistic catch phrases. You still live in the real world, not that lustful libertariatopia, and are subject to the ramifications of threats external to you. I take people at their word- and the Left’s core, the ‘instant gratification‘ groomed social justice warriors, a manifestation of all of the fingers that threaten Western Sovereignty- are the future of their movement. They see no benefit to the current order and through willful ignorance find solace amid revolutionary ideals whose only logical end is violence. I believe them. And instead of useless projecting, you should be asking serious questions about what they’re capable of pulling off. I bet some folks in Nigeria today wished they had done a bit more in retrospect. I’d be willing to bet some of you will too- Antifa thugs, Islamic thugs, same types of people. They both want you, Christian Male, exterminated.

What to do now is get serious about a training schedule while spending some time understanding more about your individual area. There’s a lot of opportunities out there, and the more arrows you put in the quiver the more resilient you’ll be later on down the road.

Read the entire article at American Partisan by clicking here.

American Partisan: The Jungle Antenna Revisted

NC Scout at American Partisan has written another article discussing the jungle antenna – The Jungle Antenna Revisited: Task and Purpose for the Partisan and Prepper. NC Scout has written about this antenna and its usefulness previously.

Going back to the early days of the Brushbeater blog, the Jungle Antenna post has been and continues to be one of the more popular posts I’ve done. And for good reason- I wrote it to be used. It’s the antenna every student in the RTO course builds and one of the designs they get hands on with, and it’s the one that they know works from the demonstrations we do with them. But often, as with everything, a context for the task and purpose has to be clarified.

Many preppers who contact me fall into a similar trap. I have a goal and recognize a need. What can I buy that does for me what I want it to do? How do I do this in the most cost-effective way? And finally (but what should be first) how do I obtain the skill to best use the gear I’ve purchased? It’s a problematic point of view for a lot of reasons but one I get frequenct questions about nonetheless. And that’s ok. I’ll normally answer it the same way- Use your stuff. Learn to use it even better, and never stop!

One of my objectives bak then, as it remains in my classes and writing today, was emphasizing the skill of building your own equipment…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

American Partisan: SIGINT for Everyone

NC Scout at American Partisan has an informative article up, Signals Intelligence: Capabilities for Anyone, discussing readily available and simple equipment that anyone can use to build their signals intelligence capabilities. Signals intelligence is one of the best, if not the best, ways to know what is going on around you, whether that is in the aftermath of a disaster or during a civil disturbance/conflict.

One of the points I’ve stressed for a long time is the value found in using simple equipment to the maximum of its potential. Whatever it might be optics to weapons to electronics, my own combat experience has fostered an appreciation for Keeping it Simple, Stupid. And that’s the very paradigm I teach my class from–taking what’s common and simple to understand and learning the techniques of using it to its peak potential. The same is true for building signals intelligence capabilities among preppers and/or potential partisans. Not that long ago the RAND Corporation published a white paper on the very topic; what they found was that not only does the capability exist to monitor most real-world threats in any given environment, anyone can do it.

During our market scan, we found examples of SIGINT capabilities outside of government that are available to anyone. The capabilities we found have applications in maritime domain awareness; radio frequency (RF) spectrum mapping; eavesdropping, jamming, and hijacking of satellite communications; and cyber surveillance. Most of these capabilities are commercially available, many are free, and some are illegal. In our view, the existence of both legal and illegal markets and capabilities results in an environment where SIGINT has been democratized, or available to anyone.

(Weinbaum, Berner and McClintock, 2017)

From experience monitoring the Taliban on a decade old Radio Shack Pro-96 in Afghanistan, an undisciplined adversary will usually tell you everything you want to know over the air. Even if he thinks he’s secure with electronic encryption, the presence of the signal itself can be detected as soon as he keys up. After working with several private groups and teaching techniques to not get found in my RTO Course, I can positively say that a lot of people are at a distinct disadvantage in the communications department not through equipment but through a complete misunderstanding of the actual function of their gear. As anyone who’s trained with me knows, tactical communications is a whole other animal from nearly everything folks think they know. The first rule of Signals Counterintelligence is to have a competent plan and not set patterns. But what about collection? Those same mistakes we aim to correct through training are likely to be repeated by the opposing force. Even if they have all the technical enables in the world, a lot can be done with basic equipment…

Click here to read the entire article.

Related:

Sparks 31: Low Level Voice Intercept

Sparks 31: Indicator Frequencies

Sparks31: Monitoring Exercise/Contest, Dec. 7, 2018

Sparks31 has announced a monitoring exercise (MONEX) for the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7th, 2018. Participants will be entered into a drawing for a free 2019 class of his. A MONEX is a good way to gain familiarity with using your equipment, listening for signals, and recording activity within your listening range. Sparks31 has at least a couple of classes in Washington state, including one in the Yakima valley, in 2019.

MONEX: Pearl Harbor – 07DEC2018

MONEX: Pearl Harbor

Date/Time

07DEC2018 – 0000-2359 UTC
Equipment Required
SSB/CW/digital HF receiving capability from 1600-28000 KHz.
Procedure
  • User selects frequency range(s) from Table 1, above.
  • User performs band/sector searches on selected frequency ranges for at least 1 hour during time frame specified.
  • User logs following data: DATE, TIME, FREQUENCY, MODE, CALLSIGNS(?), TRAFFIC, MISC NOTES/COMMENTS
  • User posts log as a comment to this post, and via email to sparks31wyo@gmail.com.

All qualifying participants will be entered into a drawing for one (1) free admission to any one 2019 Class. To qualify, at least three complete log entries must be submitted.

Click here for more details at Sparks31.

Sparks31 Introduces Basic Grid-Down Communications Class

Sparks31 has introduced a new class which will debut in Watertown, CT – Basic Grid-Down/Down-Grid Communications (combined with his SIGINT class). Sparks will be bringing some classes to Washington state (including Yakima and Seattle) in 2019, and hopefully this class may be added to the lineup. Communication is critical in a disaster. Can you still communicate with those you need to if the internet and phone system go down?

This is a one-day class that covers all the basics you need to set up your monitoring post, collect signals intelligence (SIGINT), get on the air with amateur radio and personal communications services (FRS, GMRS, MURS, CB, Part 15), and establish communications networks and interoperability with other like-minded individuals.

Topics of instruction include the following:

  • Learning about Electronic Communications – A Primer
  • Communications Monitoring HF-to-UHF
  • Intelligence versus Information
    • Intelligence Requirements
  • SIGINT – Signals Intelligence
  • Listening Posts and SIGINT Operations
  • Communications Services
    • Amateur Radio
    • Part 95 & 15 (license-free or “license by rule” services)
  • Communications Networks
    • Interoperability – What it is, and how to make it work.
  •  Increasing System Performance
    • Antennas
  • Grid-Down versus Down-Grid Realities
  • Basic Crypto Systems and When It Is Legal to Use Them
  • Alternatives to Radio Communications
Cost for this class is $100. Please enroll via our storefront at https://squareup.com/store/sparks31/.