Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Radio communication as part of preparedness

    About 7 years ago, four friends of mine and I decided to get CB base stations set up at our homes as a means of communication if things went to hell in a handbasket. We figured we were all within range for CB communication, and it seemed relatively inexpensive to venture into. As we all got our setups up and running, some quickly realized that their "easy" antenna setups were woefully inadequate for CB radio's limited power. We installed better antennas and the 5 of us has comms. a 12V battery and a power supply to charge it meant temporary (several hours with limited transmitting) comms during power outages. A small solar panel made it more long term.

    We talked once or twice a month, but interest faded for most. All of theirs are in place, if needed, but I am the only one that still has an active station. As a matter of fact, I was kind of bit by the bug. I experimented with different antennas, radios, modes. Eventually that evolved into obtaining my amateur radio license. Then I upgraded the license, then upgraded again to amateur extra (highest obtainable). Now I have the capability with the equipment I have and the antennas I built to talk all over the world, and it has been a lot of fun getting to this point. I enjoy talking to locals and also to "DX" (foreign countries).

    The point of all the above is to establish that while I am still new compared to many long operating radio folks, I have done much trial and error and would like to offer the following very basic advice to anyone considering radio comms as part of their SHTF plan:

    1. CB can be done on the cheap, and done this way you will be able to talk 5-20 miles or so locally. Occasionally, atmospheric conditions will allow your signal to "skip" through the sky and long distance contacts will be possible. This setup will be good for those wanting to keep up with local happenings if there are others on CB in your area. Obviously if you're the only one around, your station will be useless unless "skip" opens up, and then you may or may not have others in your receive, and it may be very sporadic. in this area (South Central PA) there are many CB users. You'll have to get one on the air to find out about your area. Some areas have dozens of users, some have none.

    2. CB can be done with a modest investment, with a good base antenna at good height. A quality radio with Sideband (SSB) instead of just AM mode will allow you to talk much further (40 miles+). A linear amplifier, which is illegal, can give you even more range (100 miles) if your antenna is very good. I am not going to get into CB amps. As stated they are illegal, and while the FCC doesn't seem overly concerned about them, one could feasibly get you into trouble if you interfere with amateur bands of emergency services. The FCC won't hesitate to intervene at that point and while sometimes they give a warning first, their fines are very substantial. Also, with SHTF situation being considered, you may not have enough power to run one. Food for thought.

    3. An amateur radio (or just a shortwave radio receiver) and a fairly simple indoor or outdoor wire antenna can get you "ears" that can listen all over the world. Just listening, they draw very little power. This is a great option for those who want to hear global radio and hear amateurs talking, but don't want to get licensed to transmit. If the SHTF, rules will be out the window and at that point there will be many transmitting without a license (makes me cringe, but I would do same in that situation). Ham radios can be had for a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you're just listening, an old sideband rig with most of the bands can be had for cheap. If you don't plan on transmitting, you can buy one that the transmitter is toast in for next to nothing.

    4. Getting licensed opens up a lot of options. I'd recommend getting a tech license then upgrading soon to General (much of the infr from the first level in on the second exam). There are some excellent recourses for hose who have even little to no knowledge of radio to help pass the exam(s). Books by Craig Buck are awesome and there are several online resources including practice tests. When (not if) you completely bomb the first practice test, don't be discouraged. Most of us were right there where you are.

    I firmly believe that in our time there's conservative news, and there's liberal news. There is no unbiased news. Radio allows you to talk all over the nation, and all over the world, to others. There's no fact checking or facebook jail. If the SHTF I do NOT want to rely on public broadcasts to be informed. Radio has many benefits and I realize this has been a very vague writeup but I wanted to start a thread that helps those wishing to dive into it for emergency comms or those to improve theirs to do so. It is also a very enjoyable hobby, to which I have talked to every US state and 140+ different countries.

    I didn't get into setting up a mobile CB or amateur setup, which is another viable option. Maybe this thread will catch on and that will be discussed. I have mine set up for CB and 10 meter use.

    So what is your radio setup? Here's mine:
    Antennas:
    Imax 2000 about 79' to the tip in a tree in my backyard. Works 10 meters to 15 meters and works them well. Also my go-to for the CB band.
    End fed 260' horizontal wire. 55' in height. Works 160M, 80M, ad 40M.
    40 Meter horizontal loop, 45-55' in height. Works 6 Meters thru 40 meters with no tuning needed on 40, 20, and 10 meters.
    92' inverted vee dipole 80-6M 65' at apex.
    Diamond F-22A 2 meter vertical
    Radios:
    Yaesu FTDX1200 100 watts 160-6M
    Yaesu FT-2980 80 watts 2 meters FM only
    Magnum 1 10M, 11M, 12M
    Uniden Bearcat 980SSB - CB with single sideband operation.
    I also have a 600W base amp for the amateur bands

    So those who are on the air, CB'er, HAM, or just a shortwave listener... what is your setup?
    Last edited by TwistedCopper; December 3rd, 2020 at 09:39 AM. Reason: added info

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    great post, many people don't realize that CB (which is 11M) is very close to the Amateur 10M band, and has similar prorogation patterns, very useful in rural environments (farm to farm, etc), heck you can occasionally get lucky and get a tunnel across the Atlantic.

    That Said, My daily Radio in the Shack and in the truck is my Yaesu FT-8900, it doesn't do Side band, but super radio for daily and emcomm talks. the one in the shack it tied to a Signal Link and laptop so I can play with FLDigi and packet. Both use a matching CR8900 mobile antenna, the one at home is approximately 30 foot up, I could go directional beam, but defeats my effort at low key and high function trade off. For more "serious" work, I have a Yaesu FT-857, customized as my grab and go emergency communications (EMCOMM) radio. I replaced the standard connector on all three with Anderson power poles for quick disconnect and interoperability. at Home I run an inverted V cut for 80M, direct into a tuner, that can essentially turn that to an all band antenna. I've spoken pretty much around the world on 50W with that. For the go kit, I have a buddy pole, and a 350ohm ladder line slim jim (cut for 2M and 70cm), both have 100' of segmented coax (yea little loss with the barrel connectors, but allows me to customize the run in a field condition. I support multiple Emcomm/ Auxcomm agencies in Central PA and exercise portability on a regular basis.

    On the handheld side, my daily is another Yaesu an FT-60, backed by a VX-7. I do have multiple handhelds from Baofengs to Motorola, (be danged if I know where they all came from, like rabbits I tells ya).

    Power wise, at home I'm using an Astron power supply with an interstate car battery on standby and 100W solar charger from Harbor Freight to charge it. In the truck, is a lawn tractor battery from Walmart in an oversized Pelican Ammo can with external Anderson connectors. that battery is backed by a 80W clamshell solar charger from Harbor Freight. The 857 and 18ah battery (replaced by the lawn tractor battery) ran an op for 16 hour (continuous) with minimal power drop. That op was actually in your Area, it was a Search for a gentleman in Lewisberry.

    ya I'm a Yaesu guy, I prefer a single vendor so that things are standardized in many ways for me, easier when you're exhausted, operating on minimal brain cells and a quick reference card.

    BTW, York County, betting you know or at least have talked with K3HQI.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    My main radio is a Kenwood TS-2000, with homebrew antenna mounted cavity preamps for 144 and 432. Backup rigs are Kenwood TS-830S and an Icom POS (that's about as stable as Nancy Pelosi at a cocktail party) with DEMI tranverters for 144 and 432. I also have a Mirage 180 W amp for 144 if I need to use the transverter. 1296 is a Yaesu Ft-726R and a DB6NT 10W transverter. I have a HackRF1 for close in contesting on 2304-5760. My new toy is a tripod portable 10 Ghz with a 3W DEMI transverter and a Yaesu FT-818. A DB6NT 24 Ghz transverter is on order for that setup.

    Antennas are a 285' loop skywire fed with ladder line and a tuner for HF, a 5 element yagi on 6M, a 17 element long yagi on 2M, a 25 element K1FO yagi on 432, a homebrew 45 element looper yagi on 1296, a WA5VJB log periodic for 2304 - 5760, and a 60 cm parabolic with a homebrew W5LUA style feed for 10 Ghz. I also have a Diamond vertical for 2m/70cm FM.
    Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    Quote Originally Posted by theshadow View Post
    York County, betting you know or at least have talked with K3HQI.
    Actually, that doesn't ring a bell.

    I'd bet there are a lot more guys with radios set up on this forum. if enough reveal themselves, we might try to do a net one night on say 80M

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Douglassville, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    Quote Originally Posted by TwistedCopper View Post
    Actually, that doesn't ring a bell.

    I'd bet there are a lot more guys with radios set up on this forum. if enough reveal themselves, we might try to do a net one night on say 80M
    There is a group who was doing some stuff. I don't know if they still are or not.
    If you're afraid of the people you represent, you might be doing something wrong

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    Quote Originally Posted by TwistedCopper View Post
    Actually, that doesn't ring a bell.

    I'd bet there are a lot more guys with radios set up on this forum. if enough reveal themselves, we might try to do a net one night on say 80M
    Little surprising. Don't know he's a member here (doubt it), but Ralph is a Your County fixture. Provides many of the HAM boot Camps, involved with many York County Clubs, and the Amateur Radio Working group. Also Loves to Rag Chew

    I'd love to do that, I've got a bunch here in Lebanon and Lancaster hooking up with AMARON, and local SAR teams (where even Techs can get plenty of practice in the field). The down side to 80M is we'd leave out a bunch of Tech Class folks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    Quote Originally Posted by TwistedCopper View Post
    Actually, that doesn't ring a bell.

    I'd bet there are a lot more guys with radios set up on this forum. if enough reveal themselves, we might try to do a net one night on say 80M
    A few of us across the state have been able to chat on 80 when it's right. It's iffy when the band goes long at night. I haven't done well with the guys across the state on 40M.

    VHF FM and digital repeater networks work when the internet works, but I would not hang my hat on that. I would not even rely on a local repeater. In a SHTF scenario, you rely on what YOU have and and look for other like minded people out there within simplex range. In this state, I consider 80M SSB and 2M FM to be the minimum capabilities for intrastate comms. 2M simplex might get you to someone who can relay if needed.
    Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    somewhere in, Delaware
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    3. An amateur radio (or just a shortwave radio receiver) and a fairly simple indoor or outdoor wire antenna can get you "ears" that can listen all over the world. Just listening, they draw very little power. This is a great option for those who want to hear global radio and hear amateurs talking, but don't want to get licensed to transmit. If the SHTF, rules will be out the window and at that point there will be many transmitting without a license (makes me cringe, but I would do same in that situation). Ham radios can be had for a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you're just listening, an old sideband rig with most of the bands can be had for cheap. If you don't plan on transmitting, you can buy one that the transmitter is toast in for next to nothing.
    .



    He sold me a fiberglass pole, a radio
    And said don't buy and hook up a mic, unless shot goes south,
    I talk jibberoush. pay attention.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    What happened to your whole message? I was in the middle of reading it and it refreshed and I canít see most of it. Pretty good list of radios you have.

    I have a kenwood ts-520, can run on 120ac or 12vdc.
    A 40m qcx cw transceiver
    A yaesu ft70 digital handheld
    A yaesu ft2980 2m

    Antennas are fan dipole outside up in a tree for 20, 40, 80m
    Attic dipole for 40m
    Vertical dipole for 10m in a tree
    2m ground plane in the attic.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Radio communication as part of preparedness

    Mistake, quoted whole opening para.


    I just know I only have 400 into used radio, pole , cable
    And my neighbors, asked about the pole.
    I talk jibberoush. pay attention.

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