!!

Hello, Guest!

You are viewing the GunLink forums as a guest.  CLICK HERE to register for the forums and unlock more features, hidden forums and the ability post in topics, vote in polls, see poll results and more.

Chief Supply Corp. 120x60 logo

Author Topic: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.  (Read 3263 times)

Offline masfonos

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Karma: 9
Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« on: February 25, 2013, 06:37:46 AM »
Anyone have a Ham, CB, two-way or other type of radio as an alternative means of communication if something happens to the power or comm grid (or just as a hobby)?
I've been interested in radios for a long time. I wanted a amateur license when I was a kid but then kind of forgot about it and put it in the back of my mind. Later, I got a few two-way FRS radios for road trips, vacations, hiking, camping and stuff like that. Several years back I got a few used CB radios.
I've lived in places where it wasn't uncommon to lose power or phone service for what a lot of people would consider long stretches at a time, especially during winter. Lots of people are getting rid of landline phones and rely on cell or VOIP phones and even lots of people with a landline only have cordless phones, none of which do much good during outages.
ETA: I just thought of this, but what about scanners too? Anyone keep one of those around to stay up on what's going on around you? Most things around here worth listening to have all updated their systems so that you need a scanner that's a bit pricier than your average garage sale find.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2013, 04:31:31 PM by masfonos »

GunLink Discussion Forums

Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« on: February 25, 2013, 06:37:46 AM »

Log in or register to disable this ad

Offline 1slickAR15

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 197
  • Karma: 6
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 08:54:39 AM »
I have a 2way radio but none of the other kind.  Radio equipment can get expensive in a hurry.  Beats smoke signals though!

Offline LivingDeadGirl

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 777
  • Karma: 1
  • GunLink Member
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2013, 10:51:26 PM »
My significant other recently purchased a hand-held ham radio and talked me into studying for the exam as well. We're taking it this week.

Any advice on what's a good first radio for someone who is a little on the electronic stupid side?

Offline LivingDeadGirl

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 777
  • Karma: 1
  • GunLink Member
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 10:43:45 PM »
Well, I passed the technician and the general exam! Now I need to figure out how to put what I learned/memorized into practice.

Is there a benefit to having the extra class?

Offline masfonos

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Karma: 9
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2013, 11:07:10 PM »

Offline masfonos

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Karma: 9
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 09:22:38 AM »
Ok, here goes.  SHTF can be anything from being trapped by flooding after a storm to taking a fall while hiking to a full blown Red Dawn style invasion by Elbonian forces.  Itís easy for the power to go out or a cell tower to go down (or get overloaded) and leave you with no communication.  Being ready for that should be something to consider when prepping.

I think that getting a ham license, especially the higher level ones, and learning some of the theory could be really beneficial for anyone interested in SHTF prepping.  Knowing how radios and antennas work, how waves travel, etc. is good stuff to know.  Of course, you donít need to get a license to learn this stuff.  All the information is out there, but study toward a license focuses you on some of the basics and when youíre finished you unlock some spectrum to put that knowledge to use.

As with most things, there is a give and take. 

Everybody and their brother has access to CB and regular two-way radios.  Lots of people with radios could mean lots of people listening.  If the point is to try and talk to someone/anyone ("Someone come help me!"), then having lots of people listening is probably better.  Conversely, if you donít necessarily need everyone to hear what youíre saying, more people listening might not be necessarily good ("Hey, Dave. Come on over. Iím here all alone at 126 Anywhere St, have two months worth of food and water and the angry rioting mob isnít here yet.").

Another nice thing about CB and the 2-ways from walmart is that you donít need a license to operate them under normal circumstances.  Well, you donít need a license to operate them ever.  I say "under normal circumstances" because you normally need a license to operate ham but in life-or-death situations when other comms are unavailable, you can use amateur radio without a license to call for help.

One of the bad things about CB or 2-ways is the low transmitting power Ė just a couple of watts.  That low power coupled with off-the-shelf antennas can really limit how far you can communicate with the radio.  Distance you might need to communicate is something you should consider when planning for emergency comms.

Ham radio is sort of the opposite in a lot of ways. 

Requiring a license for normal operation limits the pool of people who have the necessary equipment and know-how.  Having fewer people listening might not be a good thing if you're trying to communicate a general call for help.

On the other hand, ham radio allows for a lot more spectrum to use for communication (see pic above), a lot more power (usually up to 1500W instead of 5W) and more modes.  With that (and the right gear), you can communicate anywhere on Earth.  And some places in space.  Yes, that space.

There's one of the trade offs: fewer people with the gear could mean fewer people locally but more power/spectrum/modes could mean more people total as well as better chances of communicating with a specific person (provided both ends have the necessary gear). 

Thoughts?

Offline Lebowski

  • marketplace
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Karma: 0
  • GunLink Member
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 09:52:58 AM »
Don't forget to consider "bugging out" versus "bugging in" and whether your communication gear is interchangeable between the two.
The Dude abides.

Offline masfonos

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 742
  • Karma: 9
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2013, 01:18:31 PM »
Yes that is a good thing to note.  Ham radios come in three basic flavors:  HTs (walkie-talkies), mobile units and base stations (in general order of least to most transmitting power).  HTs are usually about 5 watts (already more than the legal limit of 4W for AM CB radios and the 0.5W for FRS).  Base units often go right up to the 1500W legal ham limit.  Mobile units are usually somewhere in between with a couple dozen to a couple hundred watts. 

Frequencies are another consideration, as this can affect your antenna.  A couple dozen pounds of power supplies and HF base transceivers with a 40' long antenna hooked up at your house would let you reach pretty far but it would be tough to lug around.  A VHF HT or mobile unit probably won't let you talk to the other side of the planet, but it's a lot easier to pack up and take with you if you need to go somewhere else. 

Your surroundings matter too when picking gear.  HF/VHF/UHF signals bounce off of or get absorbed differently by different things (buildings, trees, the earth, the atmosphere, etc). 

There are also repeaters that can help you get out further with a HT or mobile unit but these come with their own set of concerns (is the power out? is there back up? did a tornado knock over the tower? did lightning zap the tower?).

Like I said above, there are a ton of options each with a give and take.  Evaluating your own situation (where you are, where you plan to go in the event of an emergency, how much money you have, what natural disasters you are subject to, etc) would be necessary but if you're serious about prepping for emergencies you've probably already given some thought to taht stuff.

Offline LivingDeadGirl

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 777
  • Karma: 1
  • GunLink Member
Re: Adding a HAM, CB or other radio to your preps.
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2013, 10:02:17 PM »
Well. I've tried transmitting and I haven't had much luck finding anyone to respond. I can't tell if I'm not being heard or if no one is listening.