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CB/Ham Radio - Suggestions?

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posted on May, 22 2008 @ 01:54 AM
My friends and I are creating our own survival gear/kits. One thing we nearly forgot is a CB/HAM Radio. I have some questions for you survivalists:

- Do I need a license or certificate to operate one?
- How will mountains, hills, mesas, etc. hamper the CB's range?
- What portable CB radio do you recommend? From low to high-end.
- Are there any CB radios that are solar powered or crank-powered?
- Are law enforcement CB radios (shoulder mounted) available to the public?

Thank you in advance!

posted on May, 22 2008 @ 03:44 AM
reply to post by guppy

MOST radios are easily scanned and intercepted. ( Military Excluded )

"Trunked" radios are much harder to scan for, or at least 'both sides' of the conversation are hard to get at the same time.

Single Side Band CB radio is a bit more difficult to intercept, for the average Joe. Single side band will require special crystals installed at a CB shop, for BOTH radios. Some scanners may pick it up as well.

For a first radio, I HAVE to go ahead and recommend the FRS ( family Radio Service ) radios, that are pleantiful and relatively cheap. Some have ranges of 18 miles or more. Under 60.00 for a set of 2.

Problem is, everyone and their step brother has one. Even if you set a "privacy code", that just means YOU dont hear everyone else... they can still hear you!

Just remember, your transmissions are easily intercepted, and possibly triangulated quickly.

Regular CB radios are UNDER 50.00, in about the 5 Watt power range.
One would be excellent to get the information 'broadcast' in an emergency, as 99% of all truckers have them, and a lot of '4 wheelers' ( Passenger cars ) too.

No license is required for FRS or CB in the US of A. ( YET )

HAM is relatively expensive, and you have to have a license, pass a test and get FCC approval ( fees ).

HAM radio is probably the BEST source of information though, because the guys that are HAMS are "professional", dedicated, dropped some BUCKS, and usually are Storm Chasers, MARS operators, CERT members, Firefighters or generally just intelligent straightforward folks.

To "Receive" HAM does NOT require a license. "If" you had a HAM radio when TSHTF, the FCC would be the least of my worries when 'transmitting'.

A GOOD SCANNER may be your best bet, because you really dont want to broadcast your position anyway. they also make "Trunked Tracking" scanners that will receive TRUNKED broadcasts, HAM, FRS, UHF, VHF, Aircraft and FM signals.

CB is the most "effecient" for the money, simply because there are SOOO many of them. I trust Truckers. Never had a problem with a Trucker. They KNOW whats-what and where it is, and they like to warn you.

FRS would be next, and there are a LOT of them too. Every yahoo and their half brother will have one tuned to your frequency, so I really would not transmit unless its life or death in the next 2 minutes.

It is a LOT easier to "Blend in"with a CB than it is a FRS.

Dont forget a Small shortwave radio too, to hear BBC and Radio Moscow etc, to get the unadulterated skinny on the State of the Globe. Your mileage may vary, and you can decide whats what considering the broadcast source and type of emergency.

The FRS radios do have Earpieces, and external microphones/ mikes that will clip to your shirt. ( available seperately )

For walking around, the FRS radios. For a Vehicle or base camp, CB's

Handheld CB's ( like walkie talkies ) BITE... dont bother with them.

Hills, Mountains and concrete will affect range. Sorry..... You need a BASE Station CB if you want to talk across Mountain ranges, with antennas TUNED and DIRECTED where you want to talk to. Also depends on weather and sunspots.

I know I missed a few of your questions... hope this helped.

Best Regards,


[edit on 22-5-2008 by Blitzkreigen]

[edit on 22-5-2008 by Blitzkreigen]

posted on May, 22 2008 @ 09:35 AM
Blitzkreigen did a good job but Ive got a couple small things to add.

First. A ham license is not a hard thing to get. it just requires taking a test. you don't even have to know morse code any more. its worth getting because ham is a fun productive thing to do during non crisis time as well as usful during sit-x.

Second most hams can be converted to receive and broadcast on the cb bands. My rig is a HR2510 president. Thats originally a 10M radio I had a friend alter it to do 11M CB bands. I guess most of the folks on the ATS survival forums like the 2M but I like my 10M

As for the difference there are others on here who can explain the differences and benefits of the different M bands.

Just for the sake of knowledge. in the USA on the cb bands. legally you cannot have any more then 4Watts

posted on May, 22 2008 @ 10:15 AM
reply to post by Blitzkreigen AND angryamerican

Thanks for the very, very informative responses Blitz and angryA. That's great info.

Depending on FCC's fees, getting a HAM license isn't a bad idea. It could be one of my goals this year, including archery.

I do have one question. How portable or small could a HAM radio get? I checked out and I am not sure if those handheld devices are full HAM radios with all the bells and whistles.

posted on May, 22 2008 @ 10:28 AM
I'm a former Ham and have some pointers.

1) Get a *used* SW Ham transceiver. You can pick up solid equipment at your local Hamfest which is essentially a giant yard-sale swap-meet type thing. It's very possible to get a great piece of gear for under $200.00.

2) Don't get a small portable 2 meter handheld. It might seem like the more efficient thing, but if the fan is littered with feces, the repeaters will be down and your range will be less than CB.

3) Make an "inverted-V" antenna (two wires, coming down from a central structure), with moveable anchors. This way you can easily "aim" the antenna to the area you want to cover.

4) Learn morse code. SSB voice on SW can carry to the other side of the world with 150-300 watts of power and a really good antenna, but CW (continuos wave... morse code) can do that on 2 watts. A QRP rig (low power) running on 2 watts of power could cost you $50 at the hamfest and can keep you in near continuous communications for a week off a well-charged car battery. I had a Heathkit QRP transceiver that cost me $80 brand new, and had no trouble getting to wherever I wanted (with a good antenna).

Ham radio clubs and groups have yearly disaster exercises called Field Day where they simulate 24 hours of emergency circumstances with communications equipment set up in fields, running off batteries and generators. Get to know some of your local hams, no one else is better versed in knowing how to stay in touch when things go bad.

posted on May, 22 2008 @ 04:38 PM
FRS is too low power to be useful in emergencies. I guess a CB would do ok if you don't want to get a ham license but the technician test isn't that hard. Buy the book to learn it and study it for about a month. Go to ARRL.COM to learn more.

Ham radio is a really fun hobby.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 03:37 AM
reply to post by SkepticOverlord

reply to post by Anonymous ATS

Awesome responses from all posters! Thanks for the info. I will put it to good use. Its best to be prepared. That includes skill sets that may be needed during future emergencies.

The reason I am looking for a portable unit is to take it with me in case we need to leave town (via foot, horse, ATV, automobile, etc.). I might end up getting both CB radios and a HAM transceiver. CB radios for cars is a definite possibility.

posted on May, 24 2008 @ 03:39 AM
I'm not sure about the technical specs, But they DO make POWERED Mikes for CB radios, that have AA batteries in them. They do boost your volume level, but I'm not sure about range of a ( 4 watt ) unmodified radio.

If they boost the power at all, I will retract what I said about handhld CB's (Walkie Talkies ).

Economically, and with limited funds, these handheld CB's are old and cheap at goodwill, and Garage sales.. You might be able to "shop it slowly" and get out for under 50.00 for a set of walkies (CB) with Powered Mikes.

Then comes the 10 AA batteries per radio issue.... at that point, a belt pouch and a small 7 amp hour 12 volt alarm 'backup' battery may be the ticket. You could charge it with a smalll solar panel, and use the Batts and Panel for MANY other things as well.

Just another 2 cents worth... you can find OLD CB's Everywhere, and I still see the Walkies a few times a year.. without looking.

Check Pawn Shops too, but they are usually 15 to 20 each then.

A Good Car CB radio can go a LONG way with a Tuned and Directed antenna.

They actually have competition like that to see who can "talk" the farthest .... from their Pimped Out systems. 'Loudmouth competition' or something like that.... google it if you want to see pictures of the rigs.

Best Regards,


posted on May, 24 2008 @ 12:11 PM
I know this sounds far fetched but it would take much time or energy to setup a local wireless network as a communications net in an emergency situation. Even low-power laptop links can be detected for about 10 -15 miles with a satellite dish antenna as reflector.

posted on May, 24 2008 @ 01:09 PM
I'm a ham operator. I know a couple of things about radio. What I mention is valid only in the USA, other countries have very strict laws regarding radios that transmit.

CB is not ham gear. CB is basically line of sight not over 5 miles except for unusual conditions. Hills valleys have an effect. CB is limited to 5 watts of power. You can pick these up at garage sales for next to nothing, even given away at times on Craig's list.

Ham license is just taking a test, now. First level is technician, then general, then extra. General and extra allow for the HF bands. It's like $15 to take the test and that's it. No further cost for 10 years.

FRS and GMRS radios are the place to look for a start. There is a $75 license fee for the GMRS radio, to make it legal. The FRS does not need a license.

Ham radios in VHF and UHF can and do routinely transmit and receive for 50 to 100 miles without too much problems. A micro watt or 5 watt handi-talkie will not transmit as far as a 100 watt mobile radio in a vehicle. They still have the hill and valley problems, but not as much as a CB.

HF rigs are world wide radios. A little power can and does go a long way. Little QRP rigs operating of a AAA battery, using Morse code, have transmitted for hundreds of miles. It takes a decent antenna to do this, but it has been done. Bigger rigs, using voice, can do the same thing, but needs a full station of equipment and antenna of good quality.

Ham gear can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Even good used stuff will cost more than new, at times. Ham gear just doesn't devalue in value because it is old.

As for encryption, the FCC prohibits signals to be transmitted deliberately being false or misleading, within the ham bands. This would include encrypted signals.

This being said, there are ways around that with a little software, using a computer and a radio. Explore digital radio and there is a whole of radio world waiting for adventure. Some of it is military, some of it isn't.

Look into pirate radio and their radios.

You need to decide what your needs are and then have a serious look at radios. There are too many to choose from for a shotgun approach.

crgintx: forget the satellite dish idea. There are any number of emergency nets already in place with hams operators. What you are describing is the old packet networks. The technology has been improved. Not a big deal at all. ARES (Amatuer Radio Emergency Service), SATURN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network), MARS (Military Affiliate Radio System) are just a very few.

posted on May, 24 2008 @ 03:05 PM
I'm not talking packet radio, I'm talking a simple setup that most non-radio techs could set up in case of a worst case scenario where society has collapsed.

From what I understand about ARRL/ARES and other emergency comm networks will be for 'official use only' when emergency are declared. The Dept. of Homeland Stupidity shut them down during Katrina and threatened them with criminal prosecution if they didn't shut down. Can't make DHS and FEMA look bad or unnecessary, I suppose.

A cb antenna can legally be 20' above the highest structure on your property or 60' up if you put it on your wind charger tower. Either will give you much more range than 4 miles. Of course, if there's a serious meltdown, there will be no one to enforce the rules and you can go hawg wild on both antennae and power. Do you feel that HAMSAT will be of any use if things get real weird?

posted on May, 24 2008 @ 03:29 PM
Who are you going to talk to using any communication satellite. Realistically, yeah, people will be listening, but I know I will not broadcast under some conditions. Being a sponge and absorbing information is better than providing info or even a chance of someone finding you.

If there is a real melt down, who do you think will be up and running a week or more later? Someone you want to talk to?

Are you talking about something like this.

posted on May, 25 2008 @ 04:25 AM
I'm not sure I'm following the Wireless Networking Comm system.

It Does make sense to me to be able to use 2 or more laptops to communicate with each other, if this is possible and as easy as it sounds.

If it is possible, why cant you incorporate a firewall and encryption to secure your transmissions? Sure, they could track the location, but not the message right?

Maybe I'm speaking out of turn, or out of something else,

But the concept is intriguing... I just have not even concidered the technologic hardware and software necessary, nor do i understand the principle theory of wireless without an 'ISP' hooking me up.

It may be really easy and everyday teenager technology, but Its totally new to me......

Anyone care to extrapolate?

Does each computer have to have its own modified dish? ( I'm sure )

How do you tell Windows to "transmit" without IE or and ISP?

Isnt there a WEP Key or something that would make it secure, then encrypt to be doubly sure? Then add a firewall... geesh... we are talking SIT X right? Can I play PONG too? Wirelessly?

"Sit X" in the 21st century...

Thanks for the reply..


posted on May, 25 2008 @ 04:47 AM
reply to post by Blitzkreigen

Slow down there blitz, you're making my head spin

I think what you're trying to get at is the concept of 'mesh' wireless networks.

From what I've learnt, you just need two or more wireless-enabled computers, with one of them creating the network. What you can do once those computers are connected wirelessly depends on what software they have - basic file sharing could be done without any additional software, but I'm guessing to do things like chat it would need something else.

WEP for security has been proven to be iffy at best. Most people use WPA and other odd acronyms.

The best type of antenna to transmit wireless signals long distance are ones that have a narrow focus - even ones made out of long tin cans with the antenna placed where the signal is focused. Some of them can go a few miles I'd guess under perfect conditions.

But to get to the nitty gritty, mesh networks are useful for linking a large amount of wireless computers. I don't understand and can't explain the tech behind it, but that's the gist of it.

For sit x stuff though, I'm guessing something like packet data transmission and plaintext messages would be the go. The newer and more complex technology is, the more that can usually go wrong.

posted on May, 25 2008 @ 05:15 AM
Thank you, I will try to slow down...

What I'm seeing is Plain Text for basic "instant messaging" across a private network. Mesh.. as you stated?

Also, I see the real possibility of using these laptops for WEB cams as security systems. Dont forget the audio microphone. Its hard to come by LONG RCA cable for Security cams. (Over 500 feet, only if I make it) I bet I could Pan, tilt and zoom 'dome' cameras from a wireless connection as well, through the Multiplexer if I 'm really lucky.

So It CAN be made to work, and I dont have to have an ISP, becuase 1 computer will run the Net.. I also like the idea of a 'directional' antenna system.

File sharing, not so much of a need.. but Instant Messaging... definately!

I can also see monitoring a scanner database from a location well away from the radio and rather obvious antenna tower.

I could probably monitor Wind speed, direction, barometric pressure, rainfall, and poweroutput from the Turbine to the Inverter as well, all remotely...

I never thought of this before. I had written off computer tech in a SIT X a long time ago, except for PDF files and Word Docs to save knowledge.
Some Mapping Programs, and Radio Tuner/Scanner controller databases.

Dont forget PONG.... cant let Pong fade away..

This requires Further investigation.... and maybe you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

Thanks for sparking the engine...

Best Regards,


posted on May, 25 2008 @ 07:53 AM
reply to post by hinky

Exactly, I got interested in it because there's a free wifi internet cafe about 400 ft from my house and I wanted to tap in but some building were in the way. I was unemployed at the time and I didn't have a laptop. On a good day I could get a 3 bar signal at 11mbs but most times with just an indoor USB wifi adapter. Now that I've got a job, I provided high-speed for about 4 folks who are poor and can't afford it via an outside antenna.

I've yet to detect any hackers or even strain the connection speed. I use an old Pentium 3 1.0 ghz computer as my internet server for the outside computers. I use Ubuntu server software which works just fine. Using dial-up is like riding in a horsedrawn carriage these days.

I was think of using the older, larger dishes like Primestar which supposedly give 10 miles of LOS range at full bandwidth.

Like this:

[edit on 25-5-2008 by crgintx]

posted on May, 25 2008 @ 08:15 AM
reply to post by Blitzkreigen

Wouldn't even need a laptop for a text only network, you could use an older PDA powered by a deep-cycle battery charged by small solar cell and miniwindcharger that could fit in a small weather and insect proofed box. I've seen homebuilt amateur weather stations wireless similar linked to a computer.

Here's another idea: use a tethered balloon to provide a temporary ultra high aerial antenna. It could provide a huge LOS range even if it were just 100 ft off the ground.

posted on May, 25 2008 @ 09:32 AM
Here's a good site detailing how to convert tv satellite dishes to wifi antennas How to build a wifi biquad dish antenna

They've taken this idea a step further to build a mobile version...the ultimate observation post!

posted on May, 29 2008 @ 05:41 PM
reply to post by hinky

Thanks for more info, Hinky.

reply to post by Blitzkreigen

Blitz, buying a scanner is great idea! I might looking to getting something like that. But, I still might get my HAM license.

Two reasons why I created this post:

1) In case of emergency, I can keep in touch with family and friends
2) In case of emergency, continue to receive news -- locally and distant

I'm gonna check out if there is a local HAM Radio club and find out what equipment works best in my area.

As for WiFi, that takes up too much power during an emergency situation.

posted on Sep, 4 2008 @ 08:36 AM

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