Communication Breakdown

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by GreenTeaBlend, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. GreenTeaBlend

    GreenTeaBlend Monkey+

    I'm so confused! As a prepper newbie, I thought that communications would be relatively easy after my initial (and so far, very basic) purchases regarding food, water, firearms, gold/silver, and other survival categories. But not so...

    I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding electronic communications, keeping in mind initial, must have, purchases and costs.

    My only previous purchase is a CC Observer wind-up emergency radio with which I am quite happy. But it only carries the AM/FM and Weather bands.

    There is an *excellent* Survival Monkey essay on basic communications by 308_Scout. But what should my first (and follow-up) investments be as cash allows?

    I see multiple options for FRS/GMRS, scanners, short wave, and CB radios. And perhaps the most important part of the equation is power!... What kind of batteries and rechargers have you found to be the best?

    I would appreciate brand/model experiences along with any links you can supply. Thank you so much!
  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I think this really depends on what you perceive your need to be.

    Are you looking to listen to broadcasts about whats going on?

    Are you looking to communicate with people in your immediate area? Long Distance?

    There is no 'all-in-one' communications solution and I think it's important to define your needs and then look at equipment that will meet them.

    I have long range HAM gear for reaching out as well as listening to the other side of the world. I have shortwave radios for listening to near and far stations that are broadcasting as well as a few different sets of equipment for talking short range. I'm getting ready to test another system soon that will be another short range 2 way system. I also have plenty of FRS and GMRS radios for 1 to 10 miles line of site.

    What groups do you need to contact and how far away are they?
    ColtCarbine and GreenTeaBlend like this.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Melbo makes a good point here. Just as there is NO "One Weapon fits All Cases" there is NO "One Comms System, that fits all Comms needs". If your really interested in practical Comms systems I would invite you to read a Post in the Advanced Comms forum. It is about a 15-20 minute read. The basic ideas, and most of the Systems and Hardware discussed are universal in nature, and will work anywhere. I have broken the AoOs (Area of Operations) up into meaningful and manageable sections, and covered all of the Radio Services that you have mentioned, plus a few you likely have never heard of. If you would like to have a chat about anything you read, I am usually hanging out on FlashChat, in the evenings, or you can PM "Me"....
    ColtCarbine and GreenTeaBlend like this.
  4. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Additionally, if you are interested in securing your own AO and just having some type of coms system in place to relay information from, let's say an observation post, perhaps one of these would be handy: TA-1 phone -The TA1 sound powered phones aren't the most amazing piece of equipment, but they require no batteries and they function decently. The trouble with buying them, is that you may not know if you will receive a perfectly working phone, and they do have a habit of malfunctioning after a while...but, surprisingly enough they are affordable and will most likely do the trick. Of course, you will have to wire them up.

    And like BTPost and Melbo already said - it's a broad category to cover. I consider BTPost the communications "guru".
  5. GreenTeaBlend

    GreenTeaBlend Monkey+

    As you say, how far away are my needs? I live in north-western NJ, a "relatively" rural area that's fairly close to NYC (1.5 hours, or so.) But if I travel west less than one hour, I'm in contact with family and am one step closer to being "home free."

    Actually, I'm not sure.

    And that's why I posted my question. Still looking for the best basic options for FRS/GMRS, scanners, short wave, and CB radios. Just getting started here and looking for the entre into communications.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Bump this to the top again for Newbies..... My Comms Blog referenced in Post #3 is a basic layout of all the Radio Services available here in the USA. If your a Newbie to Comms, give it a read, and then come ask your questions, HERE. We have some very talented Monkeys, that can answer all your questions, and interests.....
    Tully Mars likes this.
  7. Saddleup

    Saddleup Monkey+

    You should also consider that the people with whom you wish to communicate will have to have a similar capacity and radios that can be tuned to the frequency you decide to use.

    As was stated, if you can explain in more detail what you would like to accomplish the information can be provided.

    How far do you want to be able to talk
    What type of power systems will you have available
    Are you and those with whom you wish to talk willing to get Ham Licenses
    How much money do you want to spend
    How long will you be using the radios
    Do you plan on bugging out to family or bugging in

    Questions like that are helpful for giving correct information back to you.
  8. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    Many of the "FRS/GMRS, scanners, short wave, and CB radios" are as far apart as cell phones and land lines or cassette and CDs.
    BTPost likes this.
  9. northga

    northga North ga

    I want to piggy back this question if you don't mind. I'm wondering if a scanner of some sort would be something helpful in "bad" times? If so, what type, brand, and price do you recommend? I'm sure there is a lot out there, and I know absolutely nothing about them. Also, would a CB radio be good investiment? If so, same question...type, brand and about what should one expect to pay for a good one???
  10. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    as far as local coms go...
    the old desktop phones will work quite nicely with a 9v battery
    you can set them up in places within a mile in series and talk like youre on a phone
    if you need a ringer, just add another battery and a push button
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    Scanners can give one valuable information about who, and what, is around, your AoO. Mostly because most folks CAN"T Keep CommSec, or their Mouths SHUT.... This is one reason for the SECURE Comms Setup.... They are unScannable. FRS/GMRS, CB, and the like are defiantly Scannable, which negates their usefulness in a CommSec situation, when a good Operator is looking for CommSig Intel. ..... YMMV......
    ColtCarbine, Sapper John and VisuTrac like this.
  12. Country_boy

    Country_boy Monkey+

    Ask your local radio shack. Seriously. How nice of a scanner you need depends on what your local emergency services uses. My county doesn't do digital or trunking or 800 Mhz, so I can use any old scanner, to pick up all local public safety, state troopers, highway dept, game wardens, Marine Police, Forestry Service, EMA, etc. But because I spend a lot of time in a neighboring county, and they are digital and 800 Mhz I need a trunking scanner for them, so that what I bought- A RS/GRE digital scanner.

    Yes, i think a CB is a good investiment, given the number out there and the range. I have banks in my scanner for CB and FRS/GMRS, and local Ham repeaters. That way, the scanner finds the channel and I can turn on the 2m/440 or CB if I wish to talk back. I also have a bank for the local FAA enroute (RCAG) and flight Service Freqs, as well as the TRACON 60 miles away. While I can't hear the radio site (it's in another county), I would hear the planes overhead, and these frequencies are never changed on the fly. If things got really bad, It would be of some interest to know who is still flying. I also program banks with any local business, there might be some interesting conversations on the local concrete plant';s radios if the owner were to distribute them to friends. Obviously if there's a lot of traffic, I'd not monitor these blocks. I think the CB and FRS/GMRS may be the most valuable as the users are in my local area, if not on my property.

    Other freqs of particular interest may be the base station network of the highway departiment, law enforcement agencies, and hospitals. These don't have a lot of traffic on them today, but if the phone lines went down, this could pickup.
    Tully Mars likes this.
  13. yardbird

    yardbird Monkey+++

    When I first started getting interested in radio communications, I told my dad about the kind of stuff to look out for. He's a yard sale nut from way back and loves the local goodwill stores. He's found me several CB's from the '70's to present usually for less than $5 each, and three handheld scanners for $2.99 each. At that price, it doesn't really matter if they work. They're worth more in parts!

    And yes, scanners are VERY handy to have around, even in "peacetime".

    I'd be interested in seeing a wiring diagram for this.
  14. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    i found several online, under how a phone works
    kinda shocked me how simple it actually is
  15. yardbird

    yardbird Monkey+++

    Thanks. I'll do some poking around and see what I can find.
  16. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    This is about the only part of this conversation I know anything about and it still isn't much. I drive truck and I know people that have Stryker (sp) 440 radios can really over power you and reach out there. I think the radio sells in $275 price range.

  17. Espada

    Espada Monkey+


    I've been looking for serviceable TA-1s or EE-8s all over, and haven't found any yet. Bits and pieces for collectors on ebay and such, but no working sets.

    Any suggestions ? Interested in intra-retreat comm that can't be intercepted or pegged by direction finding equipment.

    Thanks -
  18. mwatson

    mwatson Monkey+

    comm on the cheap

    keep it simple........The most will be on the CB network. You can but an in-expensive mobile from 10 to 30, ad a small mag mt antenna for about 25 and plug it in your car battery, put batteery in the house. I ahve been radioing for along time...Ham call sign W5FJ.
    Cephus likes this.
  19. idial1911

    idial1911 Monkey

    You are right, most will be on CB, which is why you want to go ham.. The CB's would be a nightmare in the event of a situation. Ham will be much better organized, at least you should get a scanner so you can listen to the ham frequencies.
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