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Could amateur radio be of good use to survivalists?

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posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:13 PM

Amateur radio: Definition

(a·mə·chər ′rād·ē′ō) (electronics) A radio used for two-way radio communications by private individuals as leisure-time activity. Also known as ham radio.

Amateur radio operators transmit over short-wave frequencies are called ham radio operators.

from Wikipedia

Amateur radio (also called ham radio) is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication. The term "amateur" is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest, and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire) or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

Amateur radio operation is coordinated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and licensed by the individual national governments that regulate technical and operational characteristics of transmissions and issue individual stations with an identifying call sign. Prospective amateur operators are tested for their understanding of key concepts in electronics and the host government's radio regulations. Amateurs use a variety of voice, text, image and data communications modes and have access to frequency allocations throughout the RF spectrum to enable communication across a city, a region, a country, a continent or the whole world. An estimated two million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio.

How many of you have a ham radio? What did the test ask for you to obtain the licensing you must have to operate a ham radio. Feel free to provide some test taking pointers. Where do apply for the ham license? Is amateur radio important in case SHTF?

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:27 PM
I've never messed with radio broadcasting very much, but it would be a good thing to have if all media communications went down.

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:28 PM
the fcc doesnt give a woot about the ham frequency ranges. i kno people that don't have their licenses and use it all the time

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:35 PM
reply to post by WarJohn

WarJohn, if the SHTF, you won't need a license. You need to familiarize yourself with the present ham equipment now being used. And you should learn how to build a simple dipole antenna, and run coax to it. I'm already prepared for a communications breakdown.

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:37 PM
I think they would be a great tool, If two small towns had one each they could warn each other to incoming dangers.
I gotta be Broadsword though
Edit Iam an idiot.......
edit on 3-12-2011 by boymonkey74 because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:46 PM
reply to post by WarJohn

I have a jrc 525 just receiver,you don't want to transmit .I also have vhf and UHF walkie talkies ICOM.

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 06:52 PM

Originally posted by WarJohn]Amateur radio

How many of you have a ham radio? What did the test ask for you to obtain the licensing you must have to operate a ham radio. Feel free to provide some test taking pointers. Where do apply for the ham license? Is amateur radio important in case SHTF?

I am an amateur radio operator.

It's not only a blast as a hobby, but I've learned a lot about radio communications and how to use it in a disaster. There are a lot of possibilities with it, and it was just this morning that I sat in on an emergency services meeting run through a local county agency and it was really interesting to see how ham radio can be utilized in an emergency.

I think it's really a good tool to have if/when SHTF type things happen. The long range HF communication can help gather information from far and abroad easily and doesn't rely on a centralized network of anything to work. All I need is a set solar chargers, a battery, a wire, and an HF rig. Not that hard to keep up with, or use.

As far as licensing, you can find practice tests at For the HF bands you'll really need the General class license. It's the second one, and you have to take the technicians exam first. It's more than just taking a test for a license, it's learning about the basics of radio and how to fix, build, or repair your equipment, and how to protect it and operate safely.

You can find a lot of information at or, you can talk to a ham operator in your area. If you don't know one, you can use the ARRL website's "getting started" section to help find a local testing session or a local club!

edit on 3-12-2011 by Mapkar because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 07:09 PM
Mapkar gave you the basics there. It's not that hard to look up. I wouldn't look at the tests so much as a "required thing to pass to get a license," but more as a learning opportunity. Scanning the HAM bands might be valuable in a SHTF emergency, but so would a scanner and a CB radio. The idea is, first, to be aware of what is happening in your area. That means having "ears" that can allow you to stetch a little further than the end of the driveway.

It can be a fun hobby in its own right, plus you might accidentally learn something.


posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 07:45 PM
I asked myself this same question a couple of months ago. Well I did some research, one thing led to another, and I started learning morse code using the Koch method.
I'm a sucker for learning new things.

I'm no expert, but while operating a HAM Radio, or trying to find a signal, or honing in on it, or whatever, it could be quite hard to hone in and understand somebody coming from a faint signal.. This is where morse code comes in handy, especially if SHTF. Dits and dahs are much easier to interpret

Here's a link for those that are interested in learning morse code....

You'll find the koch trainer tab thingy on the top left side of the website. It has an updated medium next to it.

It's a small program only a meg in size. Tamper with it. It's pretty interesting actually.
edit on 3-12-2011 by 2Isee3rd because: fixed link

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 09:14 PM
I just bought a mobile hand held Yaesu VX 5 from my uncle. We will be getting a home base unit from him later on. He was certified, Extra Class. Me and my mate will begin studying for the Technicians license. There use to be 5 license classes, now there are just 3. As I understand, but still need to research, that morse code is no longer a requirement. So far we were able to pick up weather band very clearly, as opposed to the crank radio that barely picked it up. In the manual it explained the "statue of liberty" position, holding the unit above your head away from your body with an accessory mike. Also holding the unit horizontally will let the antenna pick up signals that it might not get in a vertical position. The VX 5 is able to pick up UHF and VHF for monitoring local emergency services. One really interesting text he sent us was theAARL Repeater directory. We were able to look up the repeater locations and input them and monitor local use traffic. I think one could find this online as well. That's how we found the weatherband frequency. My motivation for getting this was to monitor what kinds of things may be going on around us during severe weather, natural disaster, or SHTF scenario. The electricity goes out every winter, least bit of snow and ice, our lines go down. Being cut off from information can be unnerving. This way we know if more bad weather is headed our way. Or if local DES is mobilizing about. One of the nice things about this particular unit is it uses AA batteries as well as its rechargeable unit. So far in our resource box and BOB's this is the first thing that actually requires batteries. Was one of my rules, don't want to lug batteries or the expense of them. So we compromised for information needs verses an ongoing budget. So this is my take on Ham Radio. What do you think?

posted on Dec, 3 2011 @ 10:43 PM
reply to post by Mapkar

great post. do you have any advice to give a newbie as far as the proper equipment to get? specifically something that is cheap but will withstand much abuse and wont be irreparable when SHTF

posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 12:51 PM
reply to post by rebootrequired

I'm only a technician class operator at this time, so I can't really suggest much as far as the HF radios go. However, you can start with either a handheld radio with some extra batteries and such, or you can start with a "mobile" radio that has a lot more power behind the output. Depending on where you live and what you intend to do either of these can be useful. Just know that a more powerful radio requires a larger power source but the handheld is a lot more portable and can still be super useful.

I use a Yaesu FT-250r and it's a pretty rugged little radio. It's small and I've got two battery packs, a wall and car charger, a AA battery pack, and I can charge it with a solar panel that I got from somewhere for like $10.00 or so. I also have a small magnetic antenna for it that lets me talk over 20 miles or so. ETA: I should add that the total radio cost was ~$156.00

I'd suggest having a look at a few videos for some good information from people who know what's up.

You can definitely check around with local clubs to get your hands on stuff and get a feel for what you're looking for.

You asked if I had advice for reparable equipment, as of right now I can't really offer any advice on that because I'm pretty new myself. I'm actually looking at building an antenna soon for my 2 Meter handheld, I think the antennas are probably the easier thing to build. As far as electronics and actually building a radio though, I'm not quite there yet, sorry!

edit on 4-12-2011 by Mapkar because: ETA the ETA section.

posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 03:47 PM
The VHF and UHF handhelds will get you local service. The HF transceivers will get you world wide when the propagation is right. Like I said, the dipole antenna is the easiest to put up in case of emergency. A nice tuner would help as well for multiband use.
edit on 4-12-2011 by Captain Beyond because: no reason given

posted on Dec, 26 2011 @ 11:56 PM
reply to post by Mapkar

In preparation for a loss of this kind of communication forum, loss of the internet, I suggest that an ATS radio net be established. You can hear a very well organized radio net on 14.300 single side band (upper). The 14.300 net is for mobile maritime, mostly sailboats. If some of you all are radio operators, or were willing to get your license and practice these skills in advance, after the loss of the internet we could still share information. It may in fact be the only way to pass news.

CW or Morse code is one of the most effective ways to communicate long distance on low power. Those skills take practice to develop. In addition the equipment needed for cw is minimal and inexpensive and can be home made.

Voice communication on side band is also effective and requires less skill but still you should have some practice.

Most nets, meet weekly or daily, on a certain prearranged time and frequency. If there is any interest please post here or send me a note. If you google "59 watt light" at the top you will get a webpage from my blog. There is a button at the top to find me at linked-in.

Also most places have a local radio club with a bunch of old guys happy to teach you what you need to know and will even administer the test to get you legal.

posted on Dec, 27 2011 @ 12:19 AM

Originally posted by Mapkar
However, you can start with either a handheld radio with some extra batteries and such, or you can start with a "mobile" radio that has a lot more power behind the output.

As well as batteries you can use small solar panels too. I have a handheld UHF radio that I can run using 3 small 1.5V solar panels in series.

You can also use solar panels to recharge rechargable batteries that you can use at night.

edit on 27/12/11 by NuclearPaul because: typo

posted on Dec, 27 2011 @ 01:28 AM
reply to post by NuclearPaul

Solar is great to have. I have a 60 watt panel together with a large boat battery for portable or emergency operation. Most equipment can be operated on 12 volts. Here is a link to the 60 watt solar panel setup at amazon

posted on Dec, 27 2011 @ 02:26 AM
If you are a radio operator reading this I am asking for suggestions on time and frequency for a radio net for ATS members. The idea is to have an alternative method for sharing information in case the SHTF.

I would even consider using 11 meter (CB citizens band 29 Mhz) if we have some unlicensed people that want to participate. AM is limited to 5 watts or 12 watts if your radio has side band. The low power makes long distance communication a problem.

Using the ham frequencies 20 meters (14 Mhz) is great for long distances. It is a daytime band and sometimes you can not hear all participants. With a good net control operator it is possible to relay messages when needed.

40 meters (7 Mhz) is more of a late night band. It is no good for long distance during the day, but at night can cover the whole of the USA coast to coast.

73, Kawika

posted on Dec, 28 2011 @ 12:53 PM
Weekly ATS net.

I have chosen a frequency based on the initials ATS and the phone keypad.

14.ATS 14.287 Mhz USB

Every Sunday Noon Pacific time. 2000 GMT

We will see if anyone shows up. Will also begin randomly monitoring this frequency as I have time to play radio.


posted on May, 2 2012 @ 08:34 PM

posted on May, 2 2012 @ 08:43 PM

I've got CB and the ability to boost output to about 50w ...

I have my immediate area covered but a Ham rig would be good for regional and international news ..

Good thought OP



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