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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS

A few days ago, I received an email from Santa. No...really, I did!! lol Santa from West Virginia suggested that we do a post on Emergency Communications. Since this is a very important topic and I have zero experience, Santa graciously offered to do a post for us! Yay!! If you have any questions, Santa can be reached at wvsantaclaus@aol.com Thank you so much for this!!!

“Emergency communication”
I wanted to see what the thoughts would be from our neighbors to the North on this subject. I have only recently been following this blog site and have been amazed with all the great information that people are posting. The one thing that seems to get very little attention is how we plan to talk with one another when the land line phones, cell phones and the internet are at best unreliable or non existent. If any of you are getting small groups together to try to survive the hard times ahead (at this point seems inevitable) then you will need to have a plan to be able to communicate with each other. There are several options that you may want to consider and prep for. The three most readily available means to do this would be GMRS/FRS radios, CB radios, and Ham radio. I am not familiar with Canadian law on rather you need Government issued licenses for the different radios, other than Ham radio, that you will need a license for.

Now for the pros and cons.

GMRS/FRS: These are very good for short distances with very little terrain interference. These are probably good for about 1 to 2 miles more or less depending on your location. They are very small and easy to carry with small antennas built in. One draw back to these is their range if you are in a city environment or in the mountains. The other draw back is the need for batteries.

CB radios: These have been around for a very long time and are readily available and fairly cheap at yard sales and flea markets. The range on these are much greater and when combined with a “linear” amplifier even better. (Check your local laws about the amplifier) While I will not advocate using these with a linear, (against the law here but not really enforced) in the past I have done this and have on many occasions talked from here in West Virginia to people in Canada. These radios come in many different forms, from plain 40 channel models to what here in the states are referred to as export radios. These export radios go way outside of the 40 channel cb band both below and above the 27.695 to 27.405 MHZ frequency range of the 40 channel models. Most of these “export” model radios are also more powerful than the standard cb, but also more$$$. These radios come in plug in the wall type for home use. There are also mobile versions normally used in a vehicle that work on 12 VDC power. These can also be used at home with either a power supply or on a solar and battery power setup. The cb type radios also need a much bigger antenna than the GMRS/FRS radios, but if you select the right antenna they are still reasonably portable and easy to set up with limited skills. One big draw back to the standard CB radio here is the foul mouthed people that are heard on the airwaves. (As I stated about the linear even though they are regulated by the Government the rules are rarely if ever enforced)

I saved the best for last.

Ham radio or Amateur radio: This has the best of all types of communication available, but these do require a license to operate and are very well organized and self regulated (No trash talk like the CB) by the people that chose to become ham operators. The entry level in ham radio is fairly cheap to get started in as there are many used radios around. Under the new licensing structure with a little studying anyone should be able to pass the test very easy. As you move up in the 3 levels of licensing here in the states you get more frequency range to use and more powerful radios along with that. While this is a great hobby it can get rather expensive once you move up in the levels of licensing do to the cost of the equipment. As I said though I saved the best for last. I am in no way wealthy but I have managed over the last 2 years to set up a rather nice base station .Since I got my ham license I have talked all around the world with a good mid line radio and well made antennas at home. Almost all of my antennas are home made and most are simple to conceal wire antennas strung up in the trees on my property. This type set up is also very portable if need be and can be setup almost anyplace. My work truck is also set up with radios and again I have made contacts all over the world from it. To give you an example back when I had a 2 hour commute very early in the morning, I would check in to the Early Bird net and there were regulars there everyday from Florida to Canada and from the east coast to the mid west and I was able to talk with most, if not all of those people while driving down the road. WOW it does not get much better than that. I could go on for ever on this topic but I would rather hear from some of our Northern neighbors if anyone is interested in hearing more. My home station at the moment has most of the wire antennas taken down to clear off some timber but they will be back up soon and I hope some of you will read this and maybe get on the airwaves to talk. I did find a few web sites for Canada so if you want to find out more info check them out. Feel free to ask if you have any questions I will do my best to help.
God Bless all from the hills of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia
Santa

CB or Ham radio?
http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/113700
Ham radio
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01862.html
Ham radio
http://www.rac.ca/

15 comments:

Kymber said...

Santa - thanks for raising such an important issue! and thanks for sharing those links!

This is something I had not previously thought of and, as I have no experience or knowledge in this area - it's time to read up!

Team Hall - we should get together and figure out what we should do!

Again Santa - thanks for such an informative post. And just so that you know - so far this year, I have been very, very good! Hope to see you guest-post on the CPN again!

TEAM HALL said...

Hey Santa! Thanks again for sharing your expertise with us! We really appreciate it! And just so you know...I've been very, very good too! Okay, maybe only one "very". lol

Kymber said...

Hey Team Hall - you need to remember that it's "SANTA" that you are talking to...he knows who's naughty and nice! and he knows that this year...you have only been good. period. just good.
bahahahahahah! sorry...really couldn't help myself!

wvsanta said...

Kymber and TEAM HALL
Thanks for the very kind words and it was a pleasure to pass the info on I hope it helps
Santa

nitewalker said...

Great post santa. I told you it would be fine. Good info for everyone and may be needed sooner than we think. 73's

jambaloney said...

Wow!

Never gave this issue any thought! And it would be in an emergency that communication would be vital!

This is another DIY that all preppers should consider, we would have a backup network for our network.

This is an excellent post and really has my mind working - I have lots of trees in my backyard to wire up ;-)

Keep up the good work Santa, hope to see you here on the CPN more often.

erniesjourney said...

Thanks for the post Santa - appreciate it and we are preparing with some radios too - just can't afford a ham radio. We have a CB and GMRS radios and that will have to do - solar panels next on our list LOL!

Thanks!
Ernie

wvsanta said...

nitewalker
73's to you also and thanks my friend
By the way for those that are not familiar
(73 or 73's) Ham radio slang for best wishes

jambaloney
Glad to help and if you have any questions I would be glad to help you, feel free to drop me an email anytime. If there are any hams around you I am sure they would also. You can look for local hams at www.qrz.com and in the search at top left type your zip code it should bring up a list of any hams in your area you may even know one of them

erniesjourney
Thanks and those will work just fine I just happen to be a ham but I was on CB radio for years before I went ham and still use both. Either one will keep you in touch when all other comms are down, the point is to have options in your bag of tricks "I think"

Bullseye said...

Great post Santa. Communication is very important in a SHTF situation. Gotta know where everyone is and their status. Really great of you to help out up. I know they/we appreciate it very much. Great Job !! Going to try to get my Ham license this year. Was ready to test last year and the club that I belonged to would never get a test day ready for me. Gonna light a fire under them this year.

wvsanta said...

Bullseye
Thanks for the kind words but I have read many of your post and all I can say is keep up the good work yourself.. Glad to hear you are going to join the ham ranks... it is a great hobby and when the SHTF we will be needed to keep people in touch with one another... A little studying and find a place to test and you will have no problem at all...If i can be of any help to you feel free to contact me I will be glad to help you any way I can
God Bless and keep up the good work
Santa

Bullseye said...

Santa, now that I have had time to think about this even more I remember a few years ago Canada had a huge ice storm that knocked out power to thousands of homes. It was the HAM operators that helped get communications through to the line crews. There was even a spot on the TV News later about how the HAM's a played such a large part in the disaster. Just thought about that and wanted to share this info, thanks again Santa.

wvsanta said...

Bullseye
You are dead on and another example when Hams have been called on for communications was Katrina. It is funny how with all the fancy high dollar equipment the GOV has how Hams are called on when it all fails to work. We come out with our portable stations set up our funny looking wire antennas and suddenly there is contact with the outside world. Go figure, all I can say is it works. If you need help finding a place to take your test feel free to contact me and I will try to find a test site near you.
God Bless and keep up the good work you do.
Santa

Kymber said...

Bullseye, Santa - during the Great Ice Storm of '98 (see here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_ice_storm_of_1998) HAM operators saved a lot of people! Like - SAVED them!

During the Great Ice Storm - HAM operators kept the information flowing and even delivered msgs from the Canadian Military's NDHQ to troops who were on the ground - it was amazing! (go here for more info: http://www.kwarc.org/bulletin/98-02/icestorm.html)

Since this whole discussion started - I began to look into Amateur Radio here in Ottawa (go here for more info: http://www.oarc.net/index.html) and am signing up for a course! How strange that having served 10 years in the Canadian Forces as a Communications Researcher (MOC 291) - I had to learn to copy Morse Code at a minimum of 25wpm. It only seems right to me that I get my license and put these skills to use on the network.

Santa - I can't thank you enough for starting this post! And if you are ever bored and have some more spare time - we would love it if you posted more of your knowledge about this exciting topic!

wvsanta said...

Kymber
WOW 25 wpm mores code that is great. Hear in the states they did away with the code. I am not at all up on code but it is something on my never ending list to learn..... I am sooo glad that this post sparked intrest and I will be following up with a more detailed post as I begin to put all my wire antennas up and it will have pictures of the way it is done I will keep you updated
God Bless
Santa

Kymber said...

Santa -
yes, in my trade in the Forces we HAD to be able to copy 25wpm JUST to pass our trades training!!! And here in Ottawa, according to the Ottawa Amateur Radio Club site (www.oarc.net) - you have to be able to send and receive 5wpm for 3 minutes. This is a separate test from the Basic and Advanced tests but one that I will take because of my Forces training.
So friend - no pressure on that updated post - but whenever you have it ready - let me know!
Thanks so much for sparking off all of this interest Santa - we will be honoured to have you guest-post here at the CPN as often as you like!
Take care and God Bless, friend!