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

 

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.

Preparedness and Sustainability Festival, May 18, Blanchard, ID

Blanchard Community Center – site of the 2019 INW Preparedness and Sustainability Festival

From INWPrep.com:

Preparedness and Sustainability Festival! May 18, 2019

Location: Blanchard Community Center, 685 Rusho Rd, off Rt 41, Blanchard, ID
Saturday, May 18th, 2019 at 10am4pm

FREE ADMISSION – FREE LECTURES!


PREPAREDNESS AND Sustainability Festival!  Saturday, May 18, 10-4, Blanchard Community Center off Rt. 41.  Come show, teach, demo, sell or swap any legal new or used items.  Install safety ties through firearm receivers.  Indoor 10×10 $20 tabled spaces or outdoor $5 tailgate spaces. Solar demos, communications, first aid, gardening, gun safety & more.  Click calendar listing at www.inwPrepFest.com to reserve space.  208.GUN.5115.

Food, snacks and drinks will be available on site from 11AM until 3PM.

FREE LECTURES:

LECTURE HALL:  Educational lecturers are welcome to apply for a speaking slot (on the hour, 10-3, for up to 45 minutes duration).  Priority is given to topics relating to preparedness, homesteading, sustainability, etc.

10am:

11am:  A Beginner’s Intro to HAM Radio!  Randy KB6YAV –

12pm:  BACKYARD COMPOSTING Jim & Pat McGinty;Learn how to create your own “black gold” compost from yard and garden wastes.  Simple tools, simple techniques, great stuff – your garden will respond with more and better food.

1pm:  Safely Choosing a Handgun Russ Spriggs.  Veteran, NRA Instructor and Range Safety Officer, www.PistolProf.com. ; Lecture and demonstration.  Learn the ins and outs of most major types of pistols and revolvers, how to make your preferences, and safely handle.  This class is free as a public service.  If you need a Certificate for Concealed Carry Training, a $20 charge will apply.

2pm:  Creating an Efficient & Resilient Prepared PropertyBrian Domke, RLA, LEED AP; www.StrategicLandscapeDesign.com;  An overview of design methods and key items to consider when planning a prepared property. The presentation will outline the design process to develop a comprehensive plan for a prepared property. Information will also be offered on a few specific systems and approaches that can be used when designing your prepared property to account for the fundamental aspects of water access, food production, energy generation and integrated security.

3pm:  I-FAK: Your Medical Force Multiplier“Doc” Dave Hensley, R.N. His thirty years of Pre hospital EMS, volunteer fire, ICU, ER/Air ambulance/ Trauma, CCU, CVICU (open heart surgery), recovery room and OR care sets the background for the importance of your own Individual First Aid Kit, and what should be in it.  This is not only for your use, but for another to use on you in an emergency!

QUESTIONS?  Email Russ.Spriggs(at)EarthLink.net with “PREPFEST” in subject line.

Click here for more info.

Blanchard, Idaho is approximately a one hour drive northeast of Spokane, WA. It’s always beautiful in Blanchard, Idaho!

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

Dialtone: Are You Wearing a “Wire”?

Dialtone has a quick tip on how to stealthily gain some signals intelligence about your local RF neighborhood – Are you wearing a “wire”?

Quick and easy. Simple and stealthy. Just a Binding post to BNC connector. Add ear buds and drop the radio in a bag. Run close call and survey the RF landscape around you with no one even knowing. Don’t over think it. Just take a walk around and see what you get.

See the SIGINT for Everyone article for more information and article links on collecting radio frequency information.

See also Dialtone’s Low Budget Signal Intercept Kit Part 1

and Low Budget Signal Intercept Kit Part 2

Brushbeater: Tasks for the Designated Commo Guy

If you’e the person who has been put in charge of communications for your group, NC Scout at Brushbeater blog has an article up outlining the basic tasks that you should be working on – Tasks for the ‘Designated Commo’ Guy.

…that’s where the challenge of the designated guy begins- competently training your people to that baseline.

First things first, you can never, ever expect to get anywhere if you fly so far over people’s heads they ignore you. Members of your group have to see the relevance in what they are doing or else its a doomed effort from the get-go. With communications, the tendency is for new people to get quickly overwhelmed and all of them are explicitly not looking for a hobby, they just want their equipment to work. If they didn’t have interest in communications before, chances are very high there’s an end goal in mind and its not experimentation. They want validation that whatever this was they spent hard-earned money on based on your recommendations actually does what its supposed to do. What you told them it would do. And if they don’t see the results, you’ve got an albatross around your neck. Everything begins with the basics. As we used to be told over and over again, there is no such thing as super-duper secret techniques, just mastery of the basics. And I’ve found that to be true of nearly every task in life- what might seem rudimentary to one guy might be a tough task to another; the goal is to build everyone up.

#1. Create a Local Network

The first big hurdle to cross is to establish communications among your people. Not in the tactical sense, but in the practical sense. Realistically, your neighbors and people who live within about a 30 minute drive are what you have access to as far as people go- should the balloon go up tomorrow, they’re the ones who matter…

Edit: NC Scout posted an update article based on questions that were sent in about the article above, Practical, Tactical: Training Questions from a Reader.

I got these questions from a reader based on the last couple of posts and its questions many have but don’t quite understand. There’s a lot of different reasons people begin to focus on communications, but when you boil it down, its one of two real necessities: either networking your group over an area, or, supporting tactical needs. The two goals are different, and while there’s some overlap, its a different mission set with different techniques.
I’ve began reassessing communications needs because like you said in an article recently, I as a ham have been ignoring the benefits of using non-ham comms somewhat.
This is a really common attitude. A lot of folks forget the advantages of license free options once they get a ham license. The thing about amateur radio is the great pool of resources and nearly unlimited options you’ve got on the table. But not everyone in your group is going to get up to speed or even look into a hobby- it’s easier to defer to you, the subject matter expert, and do whatever you help them set up or suggest. Which normally means going license free.
I feel like there is a line between too little radio comms and too much though. I’ve always thought of it as a team leader and up sort of equipment, I.E. not every rifleman needs a radio. Even then, you still probably only need one radio that’s capable of communication outside the general area of the squad, in order to send reports etc. But on the flip side, in a MAG type setting, people need to be able to communicate with each other as well. So if you were to use FRS radios for your local non-tactical nets, wouldn’t that exclude them from use in a tactical situation? And then also GMRS as well, since it’s basically the same chunk of spectrum as FRS? And I don’t like the idea of relying on MURS with only 5 channels for tactical comms, although it would be simple. So other than CB, which is also channel based, I think I’m out of non-ham options, please correct me if I’m wrong though.
And this is getting into the heart of the question. There’s definitely a line between too much and two little, and it all revolves around the mission…

Brushbeater: Commo Tips for New Groups

NC Scout has an article up at his Brushbeater blog on communications tips for new preparedness groups, mutual assistance groups, or other groups needing radio communications – Commo Tips for New Groups.

I had the incredible experience of being a guest on authors Glenn Tate and Shelby Gallagher’s Prepping 2.0 podcast and radio show, and along the interview we covered common issues that I see a lot of preppers just getting into communications have. Since I’ve been running classes for over three years now getting people up to speed, there’s a several issues I see repeating over and over. But fortunately in every case, the answers are more simple than you think.

Understand Your Real Needs

I always point folks to their primary needs- creating local infrastructure. We can’t really control much outside of our primary Area of Operation (AO) or Area of Influence (AI), but what we an do is work to build up local infrastructure within those areas. And if that’s all you can do, but you’re actively doing it, then you’re lightyears past what others are doing. This means VHF and UHF capabilities, which are both very common and pretty inexpensive for basic equipment.

What should I buy?

This is the first question most people ask. Its the same with guns, trucks, tires, and anything else you can spend money on. The answer I come up with in class is that its not the equipment, its the capability; that means frequency ranges. That $25 Baofeng UV-5R operates on VHF and UHF frequencies, both licensed amateur (ham) and license free (MURS, FRS, etc)…

Click here to read the entire article.

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.