Chris Warren of Off Grid Ham writes an article about operating off grid ham radio from small spaces like apartments in When All You Have Is a Few Square Feet. While this article is mostly power focused For information about stealth and hidden antennas, some of which can be used in small spaces see the Covert and Hidden Antennas article.
Hams are on their own. confined space ham radio
For better or worse, amateur radio is a hobby that typically requires a lot of outdoor space. Golfers can tee up on a golf course, and soccer junkies can use public athletic fields, but hams have so such dedicated public facilities. We have to work with whatever space we already own. Many hams are lucky enough to have huge backyards, sometimes many acres, to spread out their antennas and off grid equipment. Having enough space to do anything you want makes life as a ham a lot easier. This time we’re going to explore options for those who must operate confined space ham radio.
Off Grid Ham reader Marlo sent in an email describing his difficult situation of living in a condo with almost no outdoor space for off grid power equipment. His dilemma is not uncommon. Many if not most hams have some kind logistical limitations to going off the gird with ham radio. It might be a lack of physical space, objections from spouses, or homeowner association (HOA) rules. I’m lucky enough not to live in a HOA, but I have in the past, and I think these organizations are for the most part a club for snotty power-tripping quasi-communist busybodies with way too much time on their hands. Regardless, it’s the reality many hams must live with. The situation is not hopeless. There are workarounds.
Getting something out of nothing. confined space ham radio
Suppose all you have is a small balcony. Or a deck or patio. How in the world can one have any kind of off grid operation with that? You do have options, but understand that there will be compromises. confined space ham radio
The Off Gird Ham 100 Watts for $300 power plant is one of the most popular and enduring articles on this website, with good reason. It’s a simple and easy DIY project that will easily work in a small homebound space. The solar panel can be stored flat under a bed, or vertically behind a cabinet. Since portability is not a main concern, you could even bump up the size of the battery, or have more than one battery and rotate them.
The Portable DC Power Pack is also a very viable and inexpensive option. You will need to reduce transmit power most of the time in order to keep within the technical limits of the pack. This handy DIY power source is 100% off grid and can also be used in the field. This gizmo is one of my personal favorites, and many readers have reported good results with them.
For those with a more outdoor space than the average condo, but still not enough to do anything big, I suggest the Portable Solar Power Plant. You can temporarily set the solar panel on a deck, patio, or small backyard. The battery & electronics will fit in a closet. This setup has enough juice to run a 100 watt radio if you go easy on the duty cycle. I also have a video on my YouTube channel demonstrating its capabilities.
Give it some gas? confined space ham radio
A less practical but still possible option is a gas powered generator. Even a small generator is going to produce much more power than the average ham needs. You’ll technically be committing one of the off grid mistakes, but it may be unavoidable. Generators are available at any hardware store for as little as a few hundred bucks. Keep in mind you’ll need to keep fuel on hand and change the oil every now and then. For hams in tight spaces, this might be a problem. Where are you going to store everything? There’s also one huge drawback: Noise. The cheap generators are colloquially called “screamers” for a good reason. They are oh-my-god loud! If you are in a condo or other high-density housing situation, the neighbors are not going to take well to a generator droning, at least not for very long. You might even be in violation of HOA rules. confined space ham radio
An inverter generator may be the answer…if you have money!
One possible solution is an inverter generator. Inverter generators run significantly quieter than conventional versions and are an excellent option when noise is an issue. The bad news? You can expect to pay 2x to 5x more than a comparable screamer. The legendary Honda EU-series is probably the best small generator, of any kind, on the market today. The EU2000i is the most popular. It barely makes any noise and with basic maintenance will run trouble free for decades. Honda introduced the EU-series inverter generator in 1988 and many of those early models are still in service cranking out the watts…(continues)
There have been concerns expressed about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation for some time. Recently, with the introduction of 5G wireless services, there has been a new upswell of concern. While this article from Dave Johnson at How-To Geek is not a comprehensive or technical article, I think it frames the health concerns in a way that is understandable to most – How Worried Should You Be About the Health Risks of 5G? Most of the US places where 5G is already deployed are using frequencies (In the 450 MHz – 6GHz ranger) that are already in use by current LTE phone data networks. So there isn’t much difference at all between the 5G and LTE as far as health effects would go. As 5G matures and more compatible phones are out there, there will be more use of the 25 GHz – 53 GHz range. Higher frequencies mean that more data can be added to the signal, translating to higher bandwidth. These higher frequency access points have a shorter range, transmitting at lower power, and thus need to be deployed closer to the end users with fewer users per access point.
5G, the next generation of cellular technology for the next generation of smartphones, is imminent. And with it, there’s concern about the health risk of this new, more powerful network. How worried should you be about the coming 5G healthpocalypse?
By now, you may have seen articles on Facebook or alternative health websites. The gist: 5G is a dangerous escalation of traditional cellular technology, one packed with higher energy radiation that delivers potential damaging effects on human beings. Some 5G conspiracy theorists contend that the new network generates radiofrequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer; cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging; disrupt cell metabolism; and potentially lead to other diseases through the generation of stress proteins. Some articles cite research studies and opinions by reputable organizations like the World Health Organization.
It sounds worrisome, but let’s take a look at the actual science.
What Is 5G?
5G has been hyped for a few years, but this is the year that carriers begin the process of rolling out the new wireless standard. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have all started to deploy their networks in the first half of the year, though widespread availability is still a year or more away. 5G will get a foothold in little more than a handful of cities this year.
Update: With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, a number of viral social media conspiracy theories have speculated that 5G is the cause of the world’s current problems. Simply put, these claims are factually false. 5G does not cause Coronavirus.
That isn’t keeping device manufacturers and service providers from jumping onto the 5G bandwagon. Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Fold (the phone that unfurls into a tablet), for example, are both 5G-ready, along with models from LG, Huawei, Motorola, ZTE, and more.
5G offers at least a tenfold improvement in network performance. The last major network upgrade was 4G, which debuted in 2009 (the year of the Colorado balloon boy hoax), with a peak speed of about 10 Mbps. In comparison, 5G is poised to deliver peak speeds between 10 and 20 Gbps. And network latency will drop from 30ms to about 1ms, ideal for video game streaming, online video, and the Internet of Things, which is anticipating 5G to connect sensors, computers, and other devices with ultra-low latency.
An Evolution of Concerns
Before we address 5G, it’s worth pointing out that the latest health fears about radiation aren’t happening in a vacuum (there’s some physics joke in there, no doubt). Concerns about 5G are the latest iteration of decades of headlines about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation. We’ve seen controversies about everything from the health risks of Wi-Fi to smart meters.
Likewise, decades of studies have found no link between cell phones and cancers like brain tumors, though that hasn’t kept municipalities like San Francisco from passing laws requiring stores to display the radiation emitted by handsets—which implies, in the minds of consumers, risk.
How Dangerous Is Radiofrequency Radiation?
At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radiofrequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. Clearly, RFR isn’t inherently dangerous, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances it might be.
Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionizing.
Dr. Steve Novella, an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons—they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation to even have a biological effect,” he says.
Of course, just because there’s no known mechanism for non-ionizing radiation to have a biological effect, that doesn’t’ mean it’s safe or that no effect exists. Indeed, researchers continue to conduct studies. One recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services. In this widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, scientists found that high exposure to 3G RFR led to some cases of cancerous heart tumors, brain tumors, and tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats.
The study is a good object lesson in how hard it is to do science like this. As RealClearScience points out, the number of tumors detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects). Moreover, the level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats. Says Dr. Novella, “Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.”
Sizing Up 5G’s Risks
Ongoing studies aside, 5G is coming, and as mentioned, there are concerns about this new technology.
A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.”
Says Dr. Novella, “What they’re really saying is the dose is going to be higher. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question to ask.” But skeptics caution you shouldn’t conflate asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. As Novella points out, “We’re still talking about power and frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”
It’s easy to find claims online that the greater frequency of 5G alone constitutes a risk. RadiationHealthRisks.com observes that “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1 to 5 gigahertz frequency. 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency,” and then asserts that “Within the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms.”
But asserting that the higher frequency is more dangerous is just that—an assertion, and there’s little real science to stand behind it. 5G remains non-ionizing in nature.
The FCC—responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use—weighs in as well. Says Neil Derek Grace, a communications officer at the FCC, “For 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” The FCC defers to the FDA for actual health risk assessments, which takes a direct, but low-key approach to addressing the risks: “The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”
In 2011, the World Health Organization weighed in, classifying RF Radiation as a Group 2B agent, which is defined as “Possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This, too, is nuanced. Says Novella, “you have to look at all the other things they classify as a possible carcinogen. They put it in the same class as things like caffeine. That is such a weak standard that it basically means nothing. It’s like saying ‘everything causes cancer.’”
Part of the problem with the WHO declaration is that it’s focused on hazard, not risk—a subtle distinction often lost on non-scientists, not unlike the rigorous distinction between “precision” and “accuracy.” (Precision refers to how tightly clustered your data is; accuracy refers to how close that data is to the real value. You might have a dozen miscalibrated thermometers that all tell you the wrong temperature with a very high degree of precision.) When the WHO classifies coffee or nickel or pickles as a possible carcinogen, it’s asserting hazard without regard for real-world risk. Explains Novella, “A loaded pistol is a hazard because theoretically, it can cause damage. But if you lock it in a safe, the risk is negligible.”
Scientists will continue to test new networks as technology evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. As recently as February, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal critiqued the FCC and FDA for insufficient research into the potential risks of 5G. As the NTP study shows, research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress.
But for now, everything we know about 5G networks tells us that there’s no reason to be alarmed. After all, there are many technologies we use every day with a substantially higher measurable risk. And as Dr. Novella says, “With 5G the hazard is low—but non-zero—and the actual risk appears to be zero. We’ve picked up no signal in the real world.”
Chris Warren at Off Grid Ham has another good article up, this one describing the various radio services apart from ham radio which are available for use and their advantages and disadvantages – Everything But the Ham.
It’s about ham-less options.
I’m going to assume that everyone who reads this blog is either a currently licensed ham, or at least vaguely interested in becoming one. With that kind of a demographic, why should I even entertain the idea of covering non-ham radio communications? Well, it’s all about having options. Furthermore, there are some pretty good reasons why even licensed hams might want to consider other services. unlicensed radio communications
The king of communications. unlicensed radio communications
For non-commercial personal communications without reliance on a network or a grid, amateur radio isn’t just at the top of the pyramid, it’s about 95% of the entire pyramid. Without ham radio, your choices are very limited, but they’re not zero. What about that other five percent? Maybe you’re not a ham and don’t want to become one. Maybe you are a ham and want to expand your capabilities. What is out there? What is possible?
The good news is that there are several choices for non-ham communications. All of them are inexpensive and relatively easy to deploy. None of these options will allow you to communicate over long distances.
Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS).
MURS operates on five FM channels in the VHF band around 151 mHz. No license is required. Two watts is the maximum transmit power. The antenna cannot exceed 60 feet above ground or 20 feet above the structure on which it is mounted (whichever is higher). Non-voice communications such as motion sensors and security systems also use MURS. With only five channels, there is a possibility of competition for limited band space.
There’s one more hangup: MURS used to be part of the VHF business band. Commercial business licensees assigned to MURS frequencies were grandfathered in, meaning, they can still use the band even though their equipment may far exceed MURS technical requirements. Grandfathered business users have priority use over unlicensed MURS stations.
MURS-specific radios tend to be more expensive than those in other services. Many radios intended for licensed amateurs will operate on MURS frequencies. This is legal, but be sure to observe transmitter wattage restrictions as most amateur equipment by default exceeds two watts unless manually set to a lower power. unlicensed radio communications
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS).
GMRS operates on thirty FM channels between 462 and 467 mHz. You will need a license in the USA; it costs $70 and is valid for ten years. GMRS shares 22 channels with the Family Radio Service (FRS). GMRS allows a maximum transmitter output of 50 watts, except for channels 8-14 where the limit is one-half (0.5) watt. Operators may use repeaters with GMRS if the input and output frequencies conform to established splits. Frequencies in between channels 1-7 may be used for simplex communications, but are limited to five watts. On interstitial frequencies between channels 8-14, simplex is also allowed but the transmit power limit is still 0.5 watts. unlicensed radio communications
True GMRS equipment can be costly. Be aware that manufacturers often market FRS radios as “GMRS radios”. This is technically true since the two services share frequencies, but read the fine print and know you are really buying. FRS radios are generally inexpensive and therefore poorly made.
Family Radio Service (FRS). unlicensed radio communications…(continues)
What are the frequencies for FEMA to do informational broadcasts when the internet/cells go down?
Just a what if. – A Reader
That’s a good question. There’s a ton of crap floating around on the net right now, making it nearly impossible for the average person to sift through what’s real and what’s straight BS. But with that said, one of the main ones is the ‘looming‘ shutdown of the internet and cell phone service. I don’t know how much validity that actually has, but it underscores the ability to communicate and spread information through decentralized means- which is why I’ve taught communications skills in far greater depth and breadth than anyone else ever offered civilians, combining combat experience with practical end skills.
NC Scout at American Partisan has written a short Radio Quick Start Guide, covering line of sight and over the horizon radio equipment to get you started if you’re asking “just tell me what to get, already.”
When people think of radio communications, they want a replacement for a cell phone. You’re not getting a replacement for a cell phone.
Alright, with that out of the way, I’ve been getting a ton of emails asking about jump-starting communications capabilities for an area. Since that’s something I’ve written a lot about over the years and teach two classes for building that capability, I’m going to cover the bare-bones basics to getting a local network squared up and running.
It’s a 25 watt tiny little mobile radio that plugs into a 12v outlet. You can run it in your truck very easily. I have one mounted under my dash and another in my shop for making local contacts. Mine is programmed with all of the local repeaters and it’ll also do all of the license free bands (FRS/GMRS walkie-talkies, MURS and marine band).
To get it rigged up, you’ll need a run of 50 ohm coax that you can get in any truck stop. I just call it CB coax. Next you’re going to need an antenna. I run an aluminum J Pole as my fixed base station antenna and I have it just drilled into the eve of the roof of the shop. On my truck I run a 2m firestick which is pretty much the same as my CB antenna and its mounted to my toolbox.
The nice thing about this setup is its portable to nearly anywhere and works really well. With a couple of deep cycle batteries you can run this little rig for a LONG time. I have.
You’re also going to need a tuner for your HF radio. I use a short run of coax (8 inches) between the back of my radio to the tuner then run the antenna coax into the tuner. What this does it use two matching relays to create an electrical match for the antenna length to the frequency you’re using. Think of it as an insurance policy for your radio, since there’s too many variables with an HF antenna to make a perfect 1:1 SWR match every time. The tuner takes up the slack and protects your rig. It protects in other ways as well. I had mine take a lightning strike three years ago. Sent it into LDG and they sent me a new tuner, no questions asked. You’re also going to need a 120v power supply since all amateur radio gear runs off 12v. The one I use is an MFJ 28 amp switching power supply. Its got a 12v power plug to run that QYT mobile radio as well as your Icom.
This is an expensive list- but its one I’ve recommended to a lot of other people starting out and my own home station is not too much different. Everything I’ve got is kept pretty simple. But that said, having the gear is one thing, having the skill is a whole other animal.
Chris Warren at Off Grid Ham has written an off grid radio guide for those who are beginners to working their radios without mainline power. There are a bunch of useful links at the end of his article, too.
The demand and desire to take amateur radio off grid is absolutely there. The problem is that information about off grid radio is sprinkled around. It’s hard to find straight answers. Many radio and survival blogs occasionally address the issue, but to my knowledge, Off Grid Ham and OH8STN are the only two outlets that deal with off grid radio radio exclusively.
For readers who are not off the grid, or seek to expand off grid capabilities, I’ve put together this “off grid radio guide” for beginners that will answer the most common questions in one compact package. This is not a comprehensive guide; we’re just going to summarize main points. At the end of this article there will be links to additional information on the topics covered here.
Have a purpose!
Graphic courtesy of tunein.com
I’ve beaten this drum so much it may seem tiresome, but it cannot be overstated that having clearly defined goals is an absolute must. If you do not have a specific purpose in mind, then you’re just going to trip around randomly trying different things with no meaningful result. If you have the time and money to spend on dead-end projects, then by all means don’t bother with a roadmap; you’ll eventually find your way and probably have a great time doing it. Off grid radio guide
But for those of us who do not have the means to live like plans don’t matter, the first chapter in our off grid radio guide is to have a purpose. Your stated goal does not have to be complicated or lengthy. Here are a few examples:
Operate for a weekend or so while camping.
Helping kids/scouts/youth group with an educational project.
Involvement with contests and SOTA/POTA activities.
Energy independence/operate off grid full time from a home station.
Your goals may change over time. I originally got into off grid ham radio just to experiment and fool around with solar panels. That lead to a large home station, several portable power setups, and this blog! Regardless of what your motivations are, make sure you can define them.
How much power will you need? Off grid radio guide
Answering this question is a major component of defining your purposes and goals.. After all, it doesn’t make sense to plan a power system without knowing how much power you’ll need.
If your plans include an engine-driven mechanical generator, choose one that will run at 33-50% of its maximum capacity while powering your equipment. This is the window where generators are the most efficient. You don’t want to push a generator close to its limit for extended periods, nor do you want a generator that is way oversized for the load it powers. Either of these two extremes are a bad idea.
Matching power needs to batteries is a very tricky dance because a battery’s performance can change with age, temperature, previous use, and physical condition. A handy rule to follow is that whatever number you come up with for your needed battery capacity, increase it by 50%. This will give you plenty of wiggle room for inherent factors that degrade battery capability.
When determining battery size, carefully consider the expected duty cycle you’ll be demanding of your equipment. Duty cycle is a ratio, expressed as a percentage, of transmit time to receive time. The more you transmit, the higher the duty cycle and the more battery you’ll need. At a minimum, figure a duty cycle of 25% and up to 80% if you run a lot of data.
Solar panel calculation.
No off grid radio guide would be worthwhile without discussing solar panels. The biggest variable is the sun itself. On a cloudy day, you may realize only 10% of your panel’s capacity. A solar panel will never hit its rated maximum power due to the varying levels of sunlight and the inefficiency of the system. Like batteries, include generous headroom in the form of more solar wattage capacity to make up for the losses…
Today I’m sharing another video from Gil F4WBY, the Radio Prepper. The topic is disaster Communications. More specifically preparedness communications vs traditional amateur radio emergency communications. Gil does a very good job of going over the mission differences between Communications for preparedness, versus emergency communications for disaster relief. This is something we’ve all talked about on the grid down Communications for preparedness series.
It’s important to remember it’s not a competition. There isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be), a one or the other mentality here. Radio operator should be quite Versed in the guerrilla nature of preparedness Communications, in addition to the more structured and traditional emergency communications, as laid out by organizations like ARES. It’s a good discussion and one I think all of us should be watching.
Shortwave broadcasting is not dead, it’s just being kept alive by the wrong people. Shortwave broadcasting is almost exclusively the domain of sleazy oppressive governments and religious outliers. Communist-run Radio China International took over some of Radio Australia’s old frequencies when Australia discontinued their international shortwave service. And here’s something that should make shortwave fans seethe: The savings from shutting down shortwave saved the Aussie government…wait for it…was less than two million dollars.
That’s right. To save what isn’t even a budget rounding error, the Australian government killed shortwave to tens of millions of people. They probably could have raised that money from private donations.
When a pro-democracy voice leaves the platform, someone will step in to fill the vacuum. That “someone” is usually a bad actor. It’s unlikely shortwave broadcasting will ever completely die. It’s also unlikely shortwave will ever go back to the glory days no matter how obvious its practicality may be. Expect to see oppressive governments increase their presence on the HF bands at the same rate democracies abandon them.
The BBC increases shortwave broadcasting to disputed Kashmir.
The victims of tyrants, socialism, communism, etc., still clamor for the news of truth and freedom. They unfortunately have few options due to the rise of the internet and subsequent decline of shortwave broadcasting. Old school analog AM radio may seem like a quaint anachronism, but unlike the internet it requires very little infrastructure and is difficult to defeat.
The BBC has increased –yes, increased– shortwave broadcasting to the Kashmir territory in Asia. The backstory is somewhat complicated, but the short version is that India, Pakistan, and China each control a portion of the area. All three nations dispute the territorial claims of the others. India shut off the internet, some of the media, and phone service to the area.
To fill the information void, the BBC added one hour and forty five minutes of programming to the region. While this may not sound like much, put yourself in the people of Kashmir’s shoes. If you were living under a media blackout, having nearly two extra hours of uncensored news would be deeply meaningful.
Dissidents use shortwave broadcasting to reach Hong Kong and mainland China.
Sound of Hopestarted as an effort to bring homeland news to Chinese people living in the United States. It has grown into a full-blown pro-democracy shortwave broadcasting network beaming to mainland China and Hong Kong. They have even found a way to evade the jamming of their programming by using a network of small transmitters placed in strategic places. Sound of Hope moves its signal to whatever transmitters are least effected by the jamming. It’s an effective system.
As one of the few media outlets that can defeat communist censorship, Sound of Hope has become a significant player in supporting the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Sound of Hope is not sponsored or funded by any government. It is run mostly by volunteers, many of whom are placing themselves at great personal risk by helping the network. It should be a national embarrassment that a group of volunteers with little money are doing what large governments deemed “too expensive” and “ineffective”…
This is a little reminder from NC Scout at American Partisan that you can’t just buy some stuff and say that you’ll be ready when disaster strikes and you need to use it. You need to train with your gear to find out what it and you can do together, and what may need to be tweaked or improved.
We’ve all heard the people who say “I’ll be ready when the time comes!” or “They better not come to my front door!”
I got news for you, the time has come, and they are on your front door. Maybe not physically, yet, but that’s coming. If the lessons from Virginia are a bellwether for the near future, the communist machine at work will not allow American voices to win a so-called election again. And they don’t have to physically come to your door, because they can just legislate your rights away and you’ll do nothing. You’re a rule follower, and they make the rules.
So if there’s anything to objectively be gained from the legitimacy of government being ripped away in public fashion, its that the time has indeed come. We are living in an area absent the rule of law. The fantasy land nonsense of people running around in glorious combat and living in a Rothbardian voluntarist paradise is just that- an escapist fantasy that in no way mimics real societal breakdowns. But when you’ve got a very clear picture of a dual system of justice coupled with a common view that these people will never see punishment, you are indeed living without a rule of law. The only question then that should remain is what happens now that the velvet glove has exposed the iron fist? Neither legitimacy nor objectivity can be regained once lost. A failure of ruling hegemony thus requires force.
Do not forget that Brennan was a declared member of the communist party before joining the CIA. And of the feeder groups indoctrinating minds into the tenets of Marxism was the SDS, with their mantra of “Bring the War Home!”; code for invading the US with populations (in their logic) marginalized or exploited by US policy. Top among them, Central and South America. Ortega, Castro and Guevara are heroes. Groomed by the University system, Brennan finds himself atop the very bureaucracy created to entrench these communists for an eventual overthrow of the US government. These people are desperate to remain in control and they want you gone.
That’s outside our realistic area of influence, but does not ignore what we indeed can do.
What’s to be done on our end is preparing the mass base and guerrilla auxiliary for the next step; training and equipping the people in your area. The Left has indeed been doing that for some time now. Those networks need building, the information exchanged, and working hard to perfect the techniques now in order to save lives later.
In the last Advanced RTO it was commented to me by a longtime Extra-class ham, Engineer and Appleseed Instructor that the more covert ends of the communications training pipeline- data bursts, directional transmitting and physical encryption– takes a large amount of time just to comprehend let alone the training time to perfect. Far more than what can be done in just one weekend. And the same could be said of pretty much anything else I cover in my classes. I give you the basics, but it’s up to you to practice, perfect, and most critical, share it.
Making things work in the real world are the only way to continue to develop those skills. Two of the students from the last RTO and Advanced RTO Courses are doing exactly that, commenting,
Hey, I got the antenna up and working. DVM and I were able to make contact on 80M at around 1630. He has a different HF setup than I do – different antenna and less power, and I think the F layer was not helping at that time – it was a pretty weak signal. With the antenna I built (I built the same one you used in class) and pushing 100W, I was able to make a contact in GA on 40M very clearly. I also heard plenty of people from NY and CT to FL to OH and Chicago.
That’s regional capability that they’re actively creating, that they otherwise may not have been able to achieve. And most important, they’ve got the proper context to use those skills that they definitely won’t get anywhere else. For the people that we’ve all heard saying “I’ll be ready when the time comes”, if that’s your attitude, no, you won’t. All of this is hard enough when conditions are good. If you haven’t been actively training, been sitting on the couch living in a fantasy about fighting the good fight against the Reds while doing literally nothing but wasting time, you will reap exactly the results you’ve put into it. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Quarterly Communications SETs (Simulated Emergency Tests) help AmRRON radio operators practice with skills, software programs, and procedures, preparing them for more complex training and real-world radio operations.
Get the website URL contained in the November 5th AIB, and on Saturday, get the ‘secret exercise code’ from the Situation Report. Then, fill out a super short survey online!
Who: AmRRON and all other orgs and radio operators wishing to participate
What: Quarterly Training Exercise (4 hours): Delivery of a single message, network wide
When: November 9th, 1800 – 2200 Zulu Time
Scope: Nationwide, beginning on HF using digital modes, and then filtering down to local VHF/CH3.
Objective: This is a one way traffic test. In this quarterly exercise, a single SITREP (Situation Report) will be generated at ‘AmRRON National’, and sent across the network to Net Control Stations (NCSs), nationwide. The NCSs will then disseminate the report across their regional network in each region on 40m and 80m using digital modes.
Local VHF/CH3 nets will then disseminate the report to the local radio operators. Then, all participants fill out a short online survey to verify receipt of the SITREP…
In a real deal SHTF situation, such as a nation in turmoil and civil chaos, how would you fare? When the infrastructure goes down and there’s dead in the streets, what will you do?
That’s a reality for one of AP’s readers living in Ecuador, who’s been giving me steady updates on the deteriorating situation there. He first contacted me over a year ago trying to get their communications up to speed at the local Red Cross chapter. Years of neglect and a focus on more convenient systems caused their antennas to deteriorate and a lack of any knowledgeable operators. If that was bad enough, Simply getting equipment into the country is a challenge…
NC Scout at American Partisan has written an article on signals intelligence and how to exploit it to disrupt an enemy’s communications. Please note that disrupting someone’s radio communications during peacetime is usually illegal. The FCC can fine you thousands of dollars, revoke any radio licenses you have, and confiscate your radio equipment.
It’s not enough to simply have a scanner, however nice it might be, and call yourself good on signals intelligence. Situational awareness, maybe, maybe, but none of it will do you much good without a means to exploit what ever it is you’ve collected.
The purpose of intelligence is exploitation.
What that means in practical terms is that unless I can do anything with what I’m hearing, its completely useless to me. So what if I hear some traffic on a random frequency. Did I take the time to record it? What did they actually say? What is their level of training or discipline? Who’s the person in charge on the mic?
We can listen to all the traffic we want, but if we have no way of exploiting that, then we’re wasting our time.
Some of the equipment you’ll need for a signals collection package at the small unit level includes a decent scanner capable of decoding P25, a communications receiver, an inexpensive analog radio, a recording device, a Yagi, and a frequency counter. Most of the higher end scanners on the market have up-gradable firmware that is enabling the decoding of P25 modes in use with public service as well as DMR which is very common today in the US as well as being used in Ukraine and Syria among guerrillas. A communications receiver, while similar to a scanner, will tell us the exact frequency the traffic is on, unlike most digital scanners today. We need to know this in order to have the operating frequency- its not enough to know what they’re saying, but we need to know what frequency they’re on so that if we decide to shut down their communications, we can effectively attack.
Our inexpensive analog radio enables us to not just have additional redundancy in our kit, but it’s also a useful exploitation tool. Depending on what type of gear your opponent has, something like a UV-5R can become our weapon in shutting their communications down. Using a Yagi to first get a bearing on their direction and then focus our signal in their direction, overloading their radios. This is beginning what’s known as isolating the target…
Back in 2017, the FCC reviewed the personal radio services which include FRS, GMRS, CB, MURS and more and made changes to the rules. Many of those new rules go into effect on Sept. 30, 2019 — or in two weeks from this publication.
Here are the main changes to the rules going into effect:
No FRS/GMRS combined radios can be sold after that date
No hand held radio capable of operating in both FRS and any other licensed service can be manufactured or imported
No voice obscuring radios operating in these services may be manufactured, imported or sold
One of the common questions I get before, during and after the RTO Course is “how in the heck do you remember all those different connectors?” Well, the answer is nothing more than repetition- I know them because I’m built so many antennas over the years and needed the various connectors you come to know what they’re called.
Its a good idea to have a large number of spare connectors and adapters on hand. If you’re making external antennas for your equipment, they’re an absolute must have item. And unlike pretty much everything else we make our antennas from in the RTO Course, they’re the hardest to source in a working environment, so knowing what they are and having a bunch on hand now makes too much sense.
Cobra Heads make improvised antennas fast and simple.
The Cobra Head
A story I tell in class is exactly how I discovered the real name for what I always knew as a Cobra Head. The Split Post BNC Adapter, or BNC Banana Jack Adapter, is widely known to Army guys as Cobra Heads- in fact, I never knew they were called anything else and couldn’t find them for a long time after I got out. I found them at a Hamfest in a big tray of connectors and felt like an idiot when I was told what they’re really called. It didn’t matter- I found them.
Why they’re important is that its the easiest connector to use when building improvised wire antennas. We were given them by the bagful in the Army to practice antenna building, and I came to really appreciate it. Simply cut your wire, match the radiating wire to the red end and ground side to the black, loop it around and you’re good to go. If you want to get the most secure with it be sure to use some ring terminals to connect the wire to the connector. Attaching BNC coax can’t be easier and more secure…