Survival Communications – HAM RADIO

When the power lines go down, radio stations stop transmitting and the internet stops working; there is one line of emergency communication that will still be alive and well.

HAM Radio

Ham Radio is something that’s not often discussed on survival websites, but in my opinion, it plays a key role in your efforts to be prepared.

In a survival situation, knowledge is a very valuable asset. The ability to know what’s going on around you will be extremely important in just about any survival situation you might find yourself in. Having this knowledge will definitely give you a leg up in a survival situation.

Communications Equipment

A good survival plan must include some type of emergency communications equipment. The ability to send and receive information in a disaster is vital to being able to survive that situation.

In my opinion, there really is only one way to go, and that is to invest in some top quality HAM Radio equipment. Forget about those crappy emergency walkie-talkies or anything that’s marketed as a “Survival Radio”. In my opinion, 99% of these things are complete garbage and are almost completely useless in a real word survival scenario.

The ability to send and receive information, from just about anywhere in the world, is far more valuable than anything you will be able to get out of a so-called “Survival Radio”.

Why choose HAM Radio for your Survival Communications?

I’ve been a HAM since I was about 10 years old. I’ve talked to people from around the globe with radios that I could literally operate with a couple small batteries and a wire antenna. In a SHTF situation, the ability to communicate with such a small amount of power is going to be extremely important.

When the power grids go down during a natural disaster, it’s often HAM Radio operators who become the only line of communication available. In fact, during Katrina the early responders all relied on HAM Radio Operators to relay information out of the city. It played a vital role in search and rescue efforts and without it we likely would have seen many more deaths.

Why you need to be Licensed:

ham radio with a bug out bagI often have people ask me if they really need to go through the hassle of becoming a licensed Amateur Radio Operator (HAM). Some people argue that during a SHTF situation having a License is meaningless. While this may be true, the knowledge that you’ll obtain while studying to get your license is well worth the time and the effort.

You will learn the basics of how to operate your radio, which bands are open during different atmospheric conditions, how to reliably use your radio during an emergency and how to build a variety of basic antennas. In my opinion, studying for the test and going through the process is the only way to ensure you’ll when it counts.  You will be far better off learning these skills now instead of haphazardly trying to figure how to use your radio during an emergency situation.

If you are serious about survival I strongly suggest that you look into becoming a HAM Radio Operator.

Further Resources:

58 Comments

  1. GT
    March 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    QRZ is a site that gives unlimited free practice exams for ham licenses. I’ve used it to study for my Tech & General. Highly recommend:

    http://www.qrz.com/ht/

    • Gurnis
      October 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      I took my Technician test this morning and passed. I used the website “HamStudy.org” as it was easier for me to navigate and wasn’t stuffed with distracting advertisements.

      • John Carnes
        January 21, 2016 at 11:48 am

        Hi I used the hamstudy.org and passed the test 100% for tech and missed 4 on the General a few of the questions were not in the practice as stated but very few. If you read the information, then hit the study cards then do the practice tests works well did both exam studies in two weeks while watching tv in the evenings. I was the only one of 5 that passed both tests in a single evening.

        • ScottS
          May 3, 2016 at 1:37 pm

          All the questions ARE posted however, you may be using a practice test that is outdated. In this case they are only worded differently. This is why it is very important to pay attention to what the question is asking and not try to interpret the question.

  2. old soldier
    March 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    How expensive is a ham radio? Heard a bit about them in the book “Patriots”.

    • kf7kup
      March 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Well there are some out there NEW at $129 they sound prity good too. they are 2meter HT radios

      • JW M
        March 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        The Wouxun Dual Band HT (2 Mtr/70cm) is a pretty good hand held for about $100. I know several people use them and are happy.

    • Off Grid Survival
      March 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

      It really depends on what type of radio you buy. A good Multi-Band Radio will probably run anywhere from $500 – $1000 New….but if you have a local ham show you can pick up some really good used equipment for a couple hundred dollars. kf7kup is right about the 2 meter radios just keep in mind that they are good for local communication only. Not knocking 2 meters, I think that type of radio is extremely important but so are the HF Radios.

      • Ted Kobi
        October 1, 2014 at 7:54 am

        Agree on the 2m comments. Spent less then 100. For a great icom v80 delivered. Tutorials all over YouTube on how to operate and program. Also you can build a cheap, and effective 1/4 wave antenna to supplement the rubber ducky that comes with most hand helds. Once the wife and I master the icom (which is built to military standards) I will get one of the multi bands from Baofend which are incredibly cheap and effective, love the site thanks

      • ScottS
        May 3, 2016 at 1:57 pm

        2 meter is NOT limited to local only. This “myth” is perpetrated by those who never use higher power and external antennas.
        First off, s directional antenna mounted at a height above the roof line of your home can easily extend your range up to and over 100 miles. Next, adding an external rf power amplifier between the handheld and the antenna can increase that range even further. The problem with the handheld 2 meter rig is not the frequency or the power output of the handheld, rather, it is the complacency of the user, not trying anything, and saying that’s all there is. I live on the western shore of Lake Michigan, and talk to a station on the eastern shore on 2meter simplex FM with one watt on any given day of the week, regardless of propagation conditions with a simple 4 element Yagi beam. Every Ham needs to learn these facts and how to build these antennas. The principles are the same for HF as they are for vhf and uhf. 2 meter is an ideal and to learn them in due to compact size and are less critical in measurement than uhf is. Not learning these skills on 2 meter is handicapping yourself, when you will need them on HF.

  3. KK7AK
    March 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Don’t forget your Morse Code, took me 4 days to learn it and pass my Tech Plus test when I was 13.
    -.-. –.-

    • Off Grid Survival
      March 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      Morse Code is extremely important…. It takes even less power to transmit! It’s to bad that they eased off on the code requirements.

      • lilbear68
        April 2, 2012 at 8:30 am

        there are no more code requirements for any license class now

        • Taz
          June 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm

          Well, there is, but only if you want to get your Airline Transport Pilots license or going attending Nav/Pilot training in the Airforce :)

          • ifly
            July 15, 2012 at 9:56 pm

            I’m an airline pilot and i’ve never had to learn Morse code.

          • ScottS
            May 3, 2016 at 2:01 pm

            the discussion is about Amateur Radio, and the code requirement was completely removed. With that said, More and more hams are getting their general and extra class licenses, and then, due to contact with morse code alone are learning it than in the past when they were stalling at technician.

      • hawkeyes
        January 11, 2014 at 6:49 pm

        The best thing about Morse is that very few people know what it is. You don’t have to have encryption devices, just use Morse. Less than 10% of the people on this planet understand Morse Code. You can communicate in the clear and no one will know what you are saying.

        • Matt
          May 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm

          It’s more important for people to be able to understand me in a SHTF situation. Morse is cool to know but useless if I’m the only person left who knows it

        • Reilly
          March 3, 2016 at 1:57 pm

          Even better: it’s the most efficient transmission mode (in terms of attainable distance for your power). When receiving a weak signal, it’s much easier for both your receiver and your ears to make out “dits” and “dahs” than to extract intelligible speech.

    • terry
      July 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      can you teach me morse code? may be not as bright as you, but wan’t to be prepared

  4. hisbilly
    March 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    good article, but prepping is also living frugal in your own means, without spending allot of money, those manuals you described can be downloaded via bit torrent without spending money. and those whom are also worried about having themselfs tracked by thier isp addy they can use a proxy

    • DoubleTap
      March 13, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      SORRY HISBILY while I agree that being frugal is smart stealing is just plain wrong no matter how you want to justify it. Yea I can save a few bucks stealing it on a torrent site but I could also save money on gear by stealing it from walmart. Both are the same and both are equally as wrong.

      And even if you don’t consider it morally wrong I would caution anyone from downloading anything from one of those illegal sites. They are filled with all sorts of nasty crap that will do more harm to your computer than the $10 bucks you might save. Me I’ll be safe and stick with buying the book.

      • hisbilly
        March 14, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        very true but ten again, your totally correct especially if most users use Windows or Mac. Not many people are aware of using Linux OS, it is more secure and immune from those things you just spoken of. and ISP hiders can also CYA, but then again not everyone is HAM radio, internet, security or alternate OS savvy.

        as for equipment, is concerned I wouldnt buy it i would rather modify or trade it to fit my needs.

        • ScottS
          May 3, 2016 at 2:11 pm

          The problem with modifying radio equipment is it wont do what you NEED. Ham radios are designed ground up to cover the band spreads they do, and to do so cleanly, without receiving massive amounts of interference other radios do when modified to work in ham bands. This is why they cost more. The so called “export CB” radios do not have the noise reduction and receive characteristics of a true ham radio. add the cost level vs features and there is no savings in the end.

      • Arkansawyer Okie born 1912
        June 25, 2012 at 12:55 am

        I am amazed that some FOOL is saying “Morally Wrong” to use bit torrent. Are you actually saying the Government’s MORAL RIGHT to SUPRESS information TRUMPS “YOUR” right to “POSSESS INFORMATION TO SAVE YOUR CHILDREN from ROVING BANDS OF CANNIBAL CITY SLICKERS & YANKEES?” Har har har! Get a LIFE, om.

        NOW, as to HAM RADIO, I am a licensed (Since 1958) Radio Operator, and I will tell you out front, YOUR RF SIGNAL when Tramsmitting will PIN POINT your QTH and the BOOGY MEN will Come and GET YOU!

        In fact, ALL Modern RECEIVERS use SUPERHETRODYNE RECEIVERS with a BEAT OSCILLATOR at 455 KCs, some again at 5 MCs, etc. WHICH PUTS OUT a FAIRLEY STRONG SIGNAL, again, the BOOGEY MAN will find you.

        “BUILD A CRYSTAL SET!” Use a 1N54 Germanium Diode, as a Detector. A Ferrete Coil as a Frequency Tuning System. Wind several coils for different Frequencies. THERE ARE NO BATTERIES. THERE IS NO EMF RADIATION.

        You people need to THINK! The FCC monitors ALL FREQUENCIES and ARRESTS “PIRATE RADIO BROADCASTERS!”

        If YOU TRUST UNCLE SAM to NOT COME GET YOU, Why “BUG OUT?” Just GO TO THE RESETTLEMENT CAMP! If You are NOT of the Pre-WW2 “Jewish Mindset” the YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT RADIOS! What GOOD is a RADIO if your HIDING YOUR FAMILY from DERANGED CANNIBALS? Are you going to LISTEN to ALEX JONES? Har Har Har!

        My FAMILY Marched off to be SLAUGHTERED in the CAMPS during the Holocaust! We were German Jews, from Hamberg. SOME SURVIVED by TAKING TO THE TREES & SUFFERING until we WALKED OUT to FREEDOM!

        I am proud to say, I WOULD NOT BE WRITING THIS if MY GREAT GRANDFATHER had not STARVED HIS WAY to freedom.

        • Danger Boy
          October 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm

          Well said my friend… Please share more… Well seasoned advice gladly accepted.

        • ScottS
          May 3, 2016 at 2:25 pm

          pure bull manure. As an author who spent the time and money doing the research to write the manuals, it is MY livelihood that you are stealing from, NOT the Government. Next there are NO RDFs that can locate a radio by it’s picowatt mixer signal, Especially since they are shielded internally and externally to prevent them from remixing with the local oscillator signal and throwing it into uncontrolled feed back.

          Your ranting in the mixed Capitol letters shows your lack of maturity, and it mixes with the fallacies you are spouting. You claim your great Grandfather Starved his way to freedom, you claim your family were Jews, of the Holocaust era, and you had your ham license since 1958. Well, Son those items DO NOT ADD UP. the comment of your great grand father and the camps puts you in the under 30 crowd… the license date of 58 puts you in the 60s age bracket, an over 30 year discrepancy… your writing puts you in the middle school bracket that is under 15 years old, and when views with the discrepancies is the most probable age bracket.

  5. Nathan
    March 14, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Communications are critical, listening more than xmitting imo. We have a few radio sets, wouldn’t call them “HAM radios” as the amateur bands make up only a small slice of their xmit capabilities. Our 2-way needs are fairly localized tho, 25 miles maybe, and in the boonies there’s plenty of ways to achieve that without being a licensed ham. Knowledge yes – license no, here. With the lack of any morse requirements and the question pool available to anyone that wants it, the license itself is almost meaningless now. Nothing more than a permission slip, and an opsec nightmare imo.

    We stay off the ham bands, except for occasional listening. Hams are, as a rule, a very strict bunch when it comes to regulations, and police their freqs better than the FCC ever could. Don’t need that headache personally. We do have all the local repeaters (amateur, public safety, and local gov’t) programmed, in case we might need them in an emergency.

    • ScottS
      May 3, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      You need the Ham license to practice, to make connections with real world groups that exist and are already in place but don’t say a word except to others of a like mindset, face to face. The license isn’t the end goal, its the doorway to the place where the real group of people who will survive are.

  6. March 14, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Another reason to actually get the license is so that you can practice. Practicing the skill of handling traffic can become an art form, and unless you have at least a rudimentary understanding of how to pass and handle traffic, you’ll be very confused when the need is real and you’re attempting to pass some emergency info to someone that actually has practiced.

    He’ll be frustrated, and your info might not get passed accurately.

    Of course, there is the aspect of being a help to your community in times of need, and it can be just plain fun!

  7. RS
    March 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Nathan – thanks for your comments, logical & insightful and confirms my perception about the license requirements as meaningless. It’s just another way for the Government to monitor its subjects. In a true emergency or God forbid disaster – I believe those of us who have the equipment & means (i.e. I’m lucky to have an Electronics tech degree) can forgo the formal “traffic protocol” crap and quickly come to an understanding in communication using the English language. I have all the local police, emergency, HAM freq’s and communication charts & documentation needed to know who’s out there ( isn’t the internet great!), I’ve visited my local amateur radio club and have witnessed how they run it and people involved – my only interest is too have equipment ready and operational should an event occur that demands it use. I’m not interested in joining a club and spending time sitting down with a bunch of old men & other radio head zombies that love their hobby and are good little law & rule abiding Subjects for the Government – God bless them for their service. I have my own hobbies in other areas that allow me an excuse to be obsessed.
    Bottom line – I want to purchase equipment that is not the cheap crap you buy everywhere – but quality high end stuff including mobile VHF radios (I know – only for water) with 6 watts of power for local communications – if SHTF. I’m not worried or I don’t think authorities will be worried about prosecuting those without a license or improper radio usage. My communication will be strictly limited & brief, using codes I have already set up with my connected friends/family – while monitoring all the channels with a mobile base unit using portable batteries with solar charging capabilities. When I say off the grid – I want to be off the grid in numerous ways without worring about all the 10,000 plus BS regulations/laws our Govt has been putting out there – it’s overwhelling and its done so on purpose to limit our freedoms. Like everything, balance is the key for me.

    • RealHam
      March 15, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Well unless you have given up your drivers license your social security card and your birth certificate everything you just said is meaningless.

      Yes the FCC sucks but becoming a ham has more benefits than you can imagine. And without the licensing it would become like CB radio which is complete crap.

      • Joe
        March 16, 2012 at 1:38 am

        While I agree with the premise that in a life and death situation that communications by any means necessary is allowed, I also agree with posters who state having a background in ham (not HAM as it is not an acronym) radio is essential for efficient communications on both V/UHF and HF frequencies. If you are not aware of how to communicate properly, the bands will quickly become inundated with people screaming for help and as a result, will be rendered useless. There is a reason we hams are so strict about protocol. Its not just because we are “sheeple” as some would suggest, but it is because we have a long standing tradition of doing things the right way “When All Else Fails…” I also agree that going through the licensing process will give you useful skills in the areas of operating procedures, antenna designs and an understanding of how it all fits together to get the message out. Bottom line, it is an irresponsible assumption that you can pick up a microphone and expect to get to get a message out. A quick example for you: What if you hear someone talking on a frequency, having no background in ham radio and you pick up your microphone and start calling for help and nothing happens? Is it your station not working? your antenna not working? Or is it because the station your hearing is using a repeater and what you are hearing is the repeater output frequency? What then? How can you even tell if it is a repeater being used? Do you know what the offset for the repeater is? Where is the input frequency? If you figure that part out is there a pl tone? What the heck is a pl tone? I think you get my point :)

        • Nathan
          March 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

          Lots of ways to gain the knowledge, then take the online exams to test yourself if you wish. Repeater operation is simple, many new radios have the common offsets as defaults, one button repeater operation. Repeaterbook.com and radioreference.com have the CTSS tones for them usually, or check your local ham group’s websites. Listen to the hams to learn the etiquette, in case it’s necessary. Be a freebander, or a good buddy for practice. Kerchunk a repeater, just to be sure you’re setup correctly.

          On the OPSEC issue, it’s not just the government knowing your location, which they do whether you use a PO box or not, it’s your neighbors, your associates, everyone you chat with, and anybody in the world that wants to know. You might find yourself in the crosshairs of anyone that may want to get a message out, or not have a message get out. Personally, I may decide to volunteer my services in an emergency or maybe not. Maybe they won’t need me, or trust me, no biggie – but I don’t plan on being drafted to work in the EOC or a FEMA site by making by knowledge and equipment public knowledge now. Seen this? http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness)

          Nothing against hams, many provide a valuable service to their communities. Just disagree that the licensing is of any use for survival communications.

        • Bob
          March 16, 2014 at 11:19 am

          Ive had my time on cb band,and had the whole hams are too uptight mentality as well. Then I gaot my license nad Joe is very right on the money about protocol. I love it, no idiots acting like children etc. Im just a blue collar g.e.d. educated man and easily passed.From what I read here,there seems to be a idea that anarchy and survival are the same,and some,only some seem to sound like there hoping shtf as is soooo worn out in these posts. Enjoy a hobby, enjoy life. Cause really,when it all ends…. it all ends. 73’s

    • RS can you share the frequencies we need please? I heard police are all being switched to govt freqs?

      • ScottS
        May 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm

        the Police always HAVE BEEN ON government frequencies. they are now using spread spectrum radio equipment, which regular radios can not work with, it effectively splits the transmit frequencies up so no single frequency is used by one transmission, Doing so, allows multiple transmitters to use the same frequency bundle at the same time, allowing hundreds od transmissions to operate on a frequency spread that only a few would be able to use in the normal methods.

  8. Electro
    March 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Excellent article, I want to become a ham. Do you have any advice for me?

    • I would check with AARL and find a local ham club. They can help you get your license. Start out with a handheld two meter unit.The Technicians Exam isn’t too hard. Anyone with half a brain and study can pass the exam.

    • Bob
      March 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Like Roy said. Also,If you go to qrz.com, youll find sample tests and resouces as well. I picked up a Boafeng uv82, and a slim jim antenna for a starter and have less than 150 in all..(the uvr’s are lil cheaper yet. Plus local clubs and hamfests youll find that it isnt as overwhelming as it might first seem. Yes, you can pass just memorizing sample tests, BUT, youll find that most of “tech” knowlege is needed for on air and radio aspects and understanding it will pay off the first few minutes you key up and onward.
      Bottom line. arrl plus qrz.com and there links as well will show you all ya need, free,on your time, and pretty ez.:) take care, 73

  9. DanielC007
    March 19, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Sounds like allot of people showing off their knowledge. Keep it simple for us who just want to read and understand. I do agree, the importance of knowledge in HAM radio for the near future. It can make an individual an important skill if you are going to be involved in any group of like minded individuals. I being in the food industry see a fast change in the ability to be able to get food. I don’t believe it will be long before we are gonna see a total collapse here in the country. Food, water, shelter, communications and alternative energy, and don’t forget to have something to protect what you have. This country has had God’s hand of protection until 911. I know he has now turned his back on this nation and we will reap havoc soon. Anyone heard of the 9 harbingers. What insight. Good luck all. Thanks for info. Gonna go study so I can be talking with you all when the SHTF. And for goodness sakes stay off google. I use secure search engines as well.

    • Rebecca
      April 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      What secure search engines are you using? I am interested….

  10. Keyslammer
    March 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Unless you plan to “fly solo” in an emergency, it would be best to plug-into a smart, communications savy group. I find the Amateur Radio community (in general) to be a moral, knowledgable and prepared group of folks. They don’t project a “beans and bullets” mentality (why advertise)…and they are willing to give the shirt off their back to help get you self sufficient. As pointed out earlier, if you have a SSN, DL and have an email, you are already “out there” and getting an FCC license can be done with a PO Box. So…OPSEC can be minimized, but put you into a solid group of like minded folks. Nuff said.

    • Nathan
      March 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Keyslammer… guessing you’re old school ham. I have a micro-cassetee recorder (old school too) electrical taped to my scanner for you guys. I read about 20 words an hour.

      Not so much flying solo, as trying to fly under the radar. 73

    • Mike
      June 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Good advise… getting to know some local users and get your license… just do not display /post your call-sign in general… unlike SSN, DL and email accounts… online and credit card purchases… sure ‘big brother’ knows more about your lifestyle probably more than you think, but if you display your call-sign, that will give your address as listed with the FCC, unlike the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles with a more secure access, knowing someones call-sign, you can easily find their listed address… not so secure, so be careful when posting a call-sign.

  11. ron
    March 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    ive allways thought a cb radio would work in a survival situation

  12. lilbear68
    April 2, 2012 at 8:25 am

    my ol man was a ham forever hes an ol timer (in his 80’s now)and i did learn a lot from him. unfortunately if we ever experience TSHTF i am not gonna worry about havin a ham license. havin the gear is expensive. cb is very limited. while listening is all well and good you better understand that as soon as you hit the transmit button they can find you. license or not

  13. KC4JWW
    April 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    It isn’t just about power loss. Remember that phones, cellphones, internet, etc. all require service providers. If an EMP or violence takes them out, how will you communicate? My first morse code contact was coast-to-coast using only 100 watts of power and a wire dipole antenna. Even as a ham, it seems hard to believe that it works! I’m hoping steel garbage cans will protect my gear from an EMP.

  14. Ivan Petrpv
    May 11, 2012 at 3:44 am

    how do I know the radio really works in a case of an emergency?

  15. Ivan Petrpv
    May 11, 2012 at 3:48 am

    haw can I be sure that radio is not gonna be cut off like the rest of the communication.? I am sorry but I am pretty new to this stuff, that interested me and I am just curious

  16. AP
    May 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Good introductory article. Its so easy and inexpensive to get a ham ticket these days, there really isn’t any reason to not do so.

  17. VK8FJAS
    June 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Another thought… In many countries retailers won’t sell to non licensed persons.
    Re; Wouxun radios. Great gear but.. if you can get the earlier models [pre UV6D] you can modify them to transmit on UHF-CB negating the need for a short range radio. Great site peoples, Kudos!

  18. G.H. Lang - K4GHL
    June 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I am an Extra class amateur operator, and also have over 20 years in fire/ems service. I have used equipment ranging from a homemade transmitter that fits into a Altoids tin (google it) to rigs costing over $1000. I own over 30 different radios of varying capabilities, all the way up to 800 mhz. IMHO when the fecal matter hits the air movement device, ANY type of comms is going to be a serious necessity. With amateur radio, I can transmit AROUND THE WORLD (I have heard my own voice come back to me) as well as bounce sigs off the moon, communicate via the repeater on the International Space Station, in addition to any public service freq’s. We regularly transmit digital comms in text format using radios and laptops in interactive chat formats, send emails via radio, as well as television images.

    While in the current day and time we need to be licensed (cost is less than $20 and the question pool AND ANSWERS are provided for your study, http://www.arrl.org and search for it, I suggest you download the question pools, remove the incorrect answers, and study the questions and correct answers.. takes about a week of 20 minutes a day to learn it), it provides a great learning base of how stuff works, WHY it works, and which freqs are typically available during which times of day.

    One must realize that 2 mtr/70cm (VHF/UHF) radios have a line of sight contact distance typically no more than up to 50 miles, the repeaters that they customarily employ to reach a wide range will be out of service when the grid fails and the generators run out of fuel. 50mhz radios have a slightly longer range, but until you get down into the 10 meter (28 mhz) range and below, you wont be getting the cross state/country/around the world range.

    One must also consider the MARS (Military Amateur Radio Service) of the Army and Navy. They operate on freq’s outside the amateur bands (Search for HAM BAND PLAN to see our range of frequencies) and serve the military as back up comms for some of their needs.

    I suggest that yall research ARES ( Amateur Radio Emergency Service ) and see just how vital amateur radio comms are during disasters. Joplin Mo. the first comms out were from amateurs… Katrina, again, first comms were amateurs… There was an incident in California where a fiber line was cut and several hospitals went dark and amateur radio picked up the need relaying information and communicating with EMS and other hospitals…

    A decent multiband HF/VHF/UHF rig will sell for around $400 to $600, both new and used. The Yaseu 857D and 897D are both excellent radios, 100 watt 12 VDC, as well as the Icom 706MKIIG line … They are about the size of a CB radio, and can talk around the world… Search for your local amateur radio club and talk with them at their meetings, visit some hamfests (or go to Dayton Hamfest for the granddaddy of them all) but get a license, use the equipment, become intimately knowledgeable with it, and learn how to take a piece of coax, 100 feet or so of house wire, and be able to toss it into a tree and talk to anyone who will listen…

    Sorry for the length, but I am passionate about being able to not only get out my messages, but to be able to learn whats going on as well. If you are serious about being able to either shelter in place or bugging out when the SHTF, you will need a go-box setup with an HF radio, power supply, tuner, and digital comms adapter at the minimum…. I would suggest also getting at least 100 feet of good quality coax, several PL259 connectors, solder, butane soldering iron, and at least a hundred feet of #12 stranded wire. Another thing to get would be a decent quality solar charger that can charge a car/marine battery (you would be using the second one you have acquired ) so you can keep the batteries charged without relying on the grid or a generator.

    In anything there are 4 things that every human must have to survive. Food, Clothing, Shelter, Knowledge … If you can’t obtain all of them, you will not survive long.

    73’s

    • Thank you for your reply. Since I’m just now finished with nursing school I’m looking into taking the ham radio operator test soon. I’ve been to the arrl website and scoured it. You sound like you’re a good person to talk to :) I hope I run into you on the waves one day.

      • C.DuClos
        August 29, 2013 at 7:08 am

        Just got my ham license KD0WBU.
        Can you tell me what kind and make of a quality solar charger to buy ?
        Thank you for your information.
        This probably won’t get to you since your comment was back in 2012, just hoping it will. Thank you
        Carolyn

  19. G.H. Lang - K4GHL
    June 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I forgot to mention Amateur Radio Field Day is this weekend 23 & 24 June 2012 (Always the last full weekend in June) … Find your local club and where they are setting up, and you will see just how well amateur radio works, we’d love to see ya.

    Amateur Radio – When all else fails, It Works!

    73’s

  20. CJHawk5
    July 19, 2012 at 9:20 am

    is anything way to survival for deaf people to keep commucation ? as hearing have ham radio and what about deaf ?? Laptop will work ?? hmmmm please feed it so I like to know and be prepare pack it too.. thanks

    • Sustainer
      June 8, 2013 at 12:32 am

      To CJHawk4 – Deaf can use digital texting over ham radio.

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