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Communications options

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by fortunateson, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    Looking at a scenario where TV is down, Phone lines are down, Cell phones are out and Internet is kaput, what other options are available to communicate long distances?

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    1. Shortwave - I have no experience with this whatsoever. What are the best options (least expensive, longest distance) to break into this field?

    2. CB radio - ok, I have a $35 job I got a WallyWorld. Good for about 2 miles on a clear day.

    3. CB radio w/ linear amp. Highly illegal, but easily obtainable on Ebay. And hey , in a TEOTWAWKI sit., the feds will have other priorities right? I'd like to hear about any experiences in this area.

    4. Sat phones? - Again no experience and how much ground support do these need? Will the network survive?

    5. Smoke signals, mirrors - dunno - any other ideas?
  2. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    1) shortwave, 6 Meter, and my choice: 10 Meter...
    Reason for my choice: I can use the larger CB base station antennas (11 meter) I already have with 10 Meter and not need any adjustments, beyond checking my SWR and RF readings...
    2) Depending on your CB unit, and your antenna, you'd be surprised at how far you can reach! ( without linear or bi-linear units).
    3) "some" I have talked with have chosen what they consider to be the ultimate radio in their "book", so to speak...Marine UHF/VHF types. Which are quite illegal and may only be used in off shore or the ONLY inshore lake allowed: Great Lakes regions. ( but who knows what we may see!)
    4) I do not expect to be able to use the sat types, due to even if they did survive, the "traffic" would be exponentially far worse than what took place on 9/11.
    5) All of the above? Mirrors, IF you know and can use morse code.
  3. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Those linear and Bi-linear amplifier units take an awful LOT of juice to run.
    Most I have seen, run from the 100 watt to 1500 watts.
    An experienced radio tech can kick the older (5 watt) CB's up to 7-7&1/2 watts, and the newer ones from 4 watts up to equal that.
    I don't know what's involved, but it's fairly simple from the people I have talked to about it. (I wish I knew a lot more about radios today!)
  4. Brokor

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

    I started a forum a few years ago with just this question in mind. I have a tight circle of contacts that will remain if the SHTF...but it could be more, it can always be more. I have since been staying here at the Monkey, and this question is still on a lot of minds.

    The idea in general, is to be able to communicate during a power outage/rebellion stage situation where curfews may be enacted and societal breakdown occurs. We each want the very best equipment available that will fit inside our budget.

    CB radio and HAM are both effective methods to communicate over wide ranges. A little research can point you in the direction of finding out about setting up relay stations, antennas, amps, and solar backup arrays. The mobile go-getter can establish link with numerous setups in a vehicle. No matter what you go with, I feel that a scanner (either mobile or base) would be a great addition. I personally use a Pro-528 handheld triple trunking, 1000 channel scanner with rechargeable AA batteries. For additional mobile wares, I have tested the Saber, Saber II's, and would love to own some Saber III's...but I have settled on a collection of radios which gave trunking capabilities and are not a huge investment, nor do they break the bank. The only downside is that they do not have a very long battery life. I am still working on this issue. The Sabers are great, but they require specialized programming and equipment that is not field expedient. I use a Panasonic Toughbook for my field station ops unit, and I can proactively maneuver at will inside a 4x4 equipped with a CB, solar accessories, and all of the above mentioned.

    The key to utilizing these, or any communication tools is to set up contacts prior to when TSHTF. It could be a friend in another town, or a family member down the road, a few neighbors, and others who live out of state or are along your planned route.

    Preparation is crucial. Just when you think you have enough planned out...there can always be more you can do to streamline your safety net.
  5. I'd say the best bet would be the short wave/CB option. I wouldn't put any trust into sat. phones, I have a feeling their network might go down. The CBs can reach moderate distances with the right antenna and if they are placed in the right location, and some of them are pretty cheap.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Antennas are a dead givaway to locations if they can be seen. Look into long wire antennas that can be strung up between trees. A quarter wave vertical stick might be hard to conceal. One idea (that I've never seen tested) is modify a direcitional TV antenna for (say) 11 meter reception and transmission. Dunno if it can be done, but would look fairly like something a lot of people have already.
  7. fortunateson

    fortunateson I hate Illinois Nazis!

    Thanks Dragonfly.
    I just did a quick search on 10 Meter.
    Easy study and exam and some mobile units cost less than $200.
    Is it really that easy or is there something else to it?
  8. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    Back in the good ole days...
    We used a Radio Shack quarter wave ground plane antenna, removed the 3 radial arms, and placed it alongside a tree...Problem is they need a good area for grounding...It was easy to hide ( apartment dwellers loved that!) I used one, set in the holes on the bed of my 1965 Chevy truck....It was better than any mobile antenna at the time, BUT, it was also 9 ft tall....!
    Then, along came the "Trick Stick". Essentially the same idea, but did not have the need for the extra ground requirements to balance the SWR's....
    I have yet to "take" the "test"....My nephew has and said he studied for a few days online and maxed the test! Something else on my "to do list"...
    Not sure how they worked....They sold like there was no tomorrow.
    ( I just drive 'em man, I don't know what makes them work!)
    Currently, I have a number of antennas: stainless steel 102" whips, old (70's) But new in the box, Radio Shack CLR-2's, and Super Maxim's (5/8 wave ground plane units, that are 19 ft 10 inches tall) I plan on disgusing in the trees....I have already put up some 20 and 30 ft masts, ( old, steel type, gold painted ones) and so far they cannot be seen even from just a few feet away, or, from up on the mountain above me.
    The "plan" at this point is, to install several radios around the area with good antennas, for the "neighbors".....That way we can stay in contact with each other even if by relay....For long distances, we are not sure, but have a number of different models of receivers that are frequency tunable....Long wire included.

    Nearly ALL of my radios are from the late 60's and early 70's....they seemed to have held up far better than soem of the newest ones, and I even have an old Johnson CB, tube type, just in case....
    Set-up for most ham radios is as easy as any CB set-up....just need to follow the basics of having the right coax, and meters....
  9. vegasrandall

    vegasrandall Monkey+++

    a slinky makes a good SW antenna
  10. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    I have seem those on ebay...
    I guess it all depends on your wavelength, and location....
    I don't deal with much in the way of SW.
    (probably should, learn something while I still can!)
  11. Sherman

    Sherman Dog Eat Dog

    I still have a good CB setup in my jeep (midland w/ wilson 1000 ant, milspec cable) but my 4x4 club abandoned them for the more effective GMRS/FRS radios. CB is really a lousy bandwidth and setups are finicky. I use them in the quarry where I work (cobra 29 nightwatch) with crap antennas. Our mechanics have know idea how to setup correctly.

    I still have 10 more CB's in my garage, also an amp aka "heater".
    The GMRS/FRS radios are cheap and effective, some good for 17 miles (line of sight). Good accessories for these as well. I have a VOX handsfree mic. These are very popular which has its good and bad points. Good if your trying to find others, bad if you want to be undetected.

    My radio guy says I need a dual band vhf/uhf, 2 Meter and 440 like this one w/ 5 watts and wide scanner. So we can setup our own mobile repeater and have good OPSEC.

  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Monkey+++

    In the 70's, there was a device made, locally, known as the "Snoop Loop".
    It was pretty basic, a wooden dowel painted black for a handle, some looped copper tubing, a (I want to say rheostat, but that's wrong!) anyway a tunable device on top, between the ends of the copper tubing, all connected to coax with a pl-259 plug. These were used to find and detect where radio transmissions were coming from. With 2 of these devices you could effectively locate anyone, ( by simple triangulation) on certain bandwidths, by using a compass, and where the strongest signal strenth was detected, and compass vector's intersected.
    They worked very well back then, and I was reading where a lot of "survivalists" are concerned about being found by people using a similar type of device to do this sort of thing with....Well it is more than possible, as I did this for years in Colorado...Now as for other than CB frequencies, I suppose it can be as simple as it was back then....But, those no longer exist, as far as I have been able to research them. It takes quite a bit to actually "triangulate" a persons position, and it is very hard when they are a moving target!
    All it takes is someone with the technical expertise in radio communications and they could build or assemble a device to locate almost any signal....
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Those loops are RDFs. Radio direction finders. The idea of triangulation is alive and well, and is used today for such things as aircraft black boxes (sonar, but the principle is the same) and (though being phased out) with aircraft VOR stations. We used them in the 70s to find obnoxious CB operators, and as games among the club for hare and hound chases. For reception, the loops don't need tuning (with probably a balun), but for transmission you have to get the SWRs right or buh-bye to your finals.

    And yes, Uncle Charlie used them as well to locate illegal stations, especially those with linear amps operating.
  14. Sherman

    Sherman Dog Eat Dog

    all you will find w/ an RDF is our repeater, a battery and a solar charger. Watch your step! Since the repeater has a stronger signal than the handhelds, it will mask the weaker signal.
  15. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I need a good way to communicate with the wife and child in the event the cell phones go out. I need a good 20-25 mile range, any good options? I would need three mobiles, one for each vehicle.
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