Amateur radio

All posts tagged Amateur radio

Grid down communications option, Baofeng radio.

By Pat Henry – The Prepper Journal

Back when I started getting into this lifestyle now known as prepping, I had a million problems I was trying to solve. I imagine some of you feel the same way if you are beginning. If you are paying attention and are at least partially grounded in reality, you can see the fragility of society. It isn’t hard to imagine the wheels coming off this bus we are on in any one of hundreds of ways. Economic collapse, foreign wars, terrorism, race wars, civil unrest, rioting, pandemic, or extreme weather to name just a few. It doesn’t take too much to throw our society into chaos and we regularly see numerous examples of situations where the help and assistance that were expected, never materialized or took much longer than promised.

It is for all of these potential problems in life that we start looking at what can we do to prepare to ride out the chaos when it comes down our street. We read the news and watch videos and ponder which skills to learn that could have prevented the same turmoil or mitigated the pain if those people we are watching on the internet had been us.

Preppers are looking for solutions to problems we don’t currently have, but firmly believe could affect us at some point in our lives. One such problem in many disasters is staying in communication with the outside world, your family or survival group. Some people don’t consider this an issue and others think this aspect of prepping is too hard or expensive. In this post I am going to show you how to build a grid down communication system that you can use now or in a disaster to keep in touch for less than $120.

Why do you need to communicate when the grid goes down?

It doesn’t take much imagination to visualize a world without being in contact with our loved ones. We have all been victims of a dead phone battery, a poor signal or network congestion. This is usually a minor inconvenience that is remedied quickly. We wander the halls of the airport terminals looking for an empty electric socket or simply wait until we can get through again all the while stealing glances at our phones every couple of minutes.

The BF-F8HP is a newer model with greater power. It costs a little more for these enhancements but it could help you reach out further.

Imagine if cell service didn’t come back on. Imagine if the internet or electric grid had been severely compromised by terrorist attacks. Don’t believe it can happen? Remember the sniper attack on a power plant back in April 2013? It only took two people with rifles to knock an entire substation out for 27 days. Imagine again if you will (I know some of you hate hypothetical exercises) that it wasn’t just two people at one power station. What if it was 100 people at 50 power stations all at the same time? We already have a huge influx of illegal immigration that only continues to grow. Is it out of the realm of possibility that just a few of these millions of people could set out to take down the electric grid?

You need a backup plan

Ham radios make a great back up communication plan for preppers for a couple of reasons. First, ham radios aren’t reliant on the internet or cell phone towers to work. They do require electricity to charge batteries, but that can be mitigated with a decent sized solar charger with rechargeable batteries or a high-power inverter connected to your car’s battery. With simple equipment, two people with radios only need their own antennas to be able to share information whenever they need to at pretty considerable distances.

Ham radios can be used at much greater ranges than the typical FRS radios you see at the store and can allow you to stay in contact with people hundreds of miles away (with the right conditions). Usually this comes down to antenna use or repeater access but even with basic equipment I will list below you can easily communicate 20 miles away when everyone else might be left in the dark.

This article isn’t going to delve deeply enough into the specifics of Ham radio. For a brief introduction you can read more on the AARL website. You can also watch this short video below for an introduction in a British accent no less. If this is something that interests you I would recommend you get your license and learn as much as possible. In an emergency though where lives are on the line you don’t really need to worry about a license but it is precisely at that time when you are going to need to know what you are doing.

Getting a license is pretty simple if you are willing to put a little bit of study into this first. Tests are conducted on a frequent basis and are taken exclusively out of the ARRL license manual. If you know the information in that manual, you should pass the test. It’s easy to find an amateur radio license exam in your area. Before you go, you should read more and study.

There are free study materials all over the internet. I used a set of videos to help me take the test from a man named David Casler. He has YouTube videos for every single chapter of the exam book and it helped me greatly. You can view the first video here or you can go directly to Dave’s site where he has links to all of his classes listed toward the bottom of the page. I have added links to all of Dave’s courses below.

Once I studied the book, and watched all of Dave’s videos, I also took the free exams online at Eham.net. You can take these as many times as you like and they give you the answers so you can see what you missed.

What do I need for grid down communications?

Getting the equipment you need for ham radio communications is pretty simple. Again, I want to emphasize that you really want to gain instruction in the principles behind amateur radio operation. Again, I recommend studying for your technician exam. Just having the equipment isn’t going to help you when the grid goes down and you don’t have a clue how to use it.

That said, the system I use is composed of the following:

There are tons of options though to meet your own specific needs. There are other radios, antennas and you can quickly turn this into a major hobby that can cost major bucks. The grid down communication system I have above is less than $120 (before shipping). That’s less than a lot of you spent for your last rifle scope.

The Baofeng radio has a female plug for the antenna and that is why you need the adapter to connect to the coax. You can simply use the mobile antenna listed above but you will get much greater range out of the slim Jim if you have that mounted higher up. I have mine mounted in my attic and the antenna cable (coax) is run through a small hole in my ceiling. This gives me some benefits in that nobody sees my antenna from the road. Sure, I could have done this much more professionally and run the wires down the wall, but I was in a hurry and never got back to it. Plus, this works just fine for me.

Optionally, I can carry all of this gear in my Bug Out Bag quite easily. The antenna can be tied to a small rock and some paracord and thrown over a high limb to raise the elevation. Using this method I can be out in the woods and still communicate far from home. The ability to have my antenna much higher is a big advantage and the slim Jim it tough enough to be used a little more roughly.

The radio set up was not done by Apple so the user experience does lack a little in the clarity department. You will likely need to download free software called Chirp. This allows you to program your radio with different frequencies. All of this can be done with the keypad, but it will take a much longer time. You can download Chirp here. Instructions for how to use the software are also located on the site. It took me a little trial and error but once I got the hang of it, programming all of my radios only takes minutes and this isn’t something I have changed very often if ever after I got it set up.

Screenshot of Chirp. It is mainly a list of information and settings you can use for each channel and your radio.

The first thing I did when I received my radios was to find my local repeaters and listen in on what people were talking about. Repeaters allow you to connect to them to greatly increase your signal range. Networked repeaters have allowed me to talk to people on the other side of the country. You will find that at some times of the year, there isn’t a whole lot going on. Other times of the year it is very busy. To gain experience I connected with several nets on repeaters in my state which gave me exposure to how things work and allowed me to gain some level of comfort with the whole experience. Everyone is very friendly and accommodating to new hams just starting out.

There is still much to learn but now I have the essential grid down communication gear, training and certification I need to communicate in a disaster if everything else is down. I have several units for the family and backup in my vehicle so I think I am close to being all set.

Is ham radio the perfect grid down communication option for you?

This information has been made available by The Prepper Journal: Grid Down Communications

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Ham Radios

Guest Post Mark S.

Why communicate at all?

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

For our safety, edification, and survival we need to know what is happening and what to do about it. As the plethora of prepper blogs and forums reveal, preppers have a lot to say—much of it informative, enlightening, and insightful and some of it disinformation, illogical, unmitigated drivel, and even evil. We need to screen the nuggets from the waste. Logic, critical analysis, and a well-formed conscience help us do that.

Even now, before events have hit nadir, we avoid controlled media. At best, mass media is useless; at worst, it is destructive to mind, body, and soul. What mass media provides is not news or information, but diversions, disinformation, outright lies, smut, and hasbara. Thinking people have come to depend upon the “alternative media” of the internet, but, when times get worse, the internet “kill switch” will deprive us of that source. We will be “in the dark” unless we build alternative means and networks. Better to build now than during a crisis. Amateur radio, “ham radio,” is one way to build friendships and networks now, before catastrophe peaks.

While preppers lean towards individualism, no single man, no single family can acquire all the necessary skills to thrive or even survive long term. No single man, no single family can rebuild a decent society. Very few amongst us can afford to acquire in advance all the “stuff” needed to thrive and survive. When times get worse how are the decent people to share their resources, offer their skills, communicate their needs, barter for resources that are not locally available, provide real time eyewitness news, and coordinate their good works? Want to reach a loved one when the cell system is overloaded or shut down? Use a ham radio.

Community and hence communication are essential to the good task before us. We cannot replace the diabolical command and control structure or drain the “elite’s” global cesspool unless we communicate with each other to build a decent and just society. You can be sure that our self-appointed “Masters” and their puppets and enforcers will do their worst to oppose us. We need a leg up on them.

Amateur radio is one communication tool available to us all. My intent here is only to introduce the most basic information about ham radio to the uninitiated. This brief column is not intended to provide a comprehensive compendium of technical definitions, formulae, physics, esoterica, ham slang, procedures, equipment choices, or to delineate the astonishing variety of amateur radio disciplines and niches, but only to motivate you if you are not yet a ‘ham.’

Simple foundational concepts

Amateur radio always involves some mention of wavelength and frequency, but these concepts are easy to visualize. For our purposes here, think of radio waves as ocean waves. The distance from wave peak to wave peak (or trough to trough) is “wavelength.” The longer the wavelength, the fewer waves touch the beach per minute (or second). The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency; The shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency—the first key concept.

Ham Radios

Picture Credit- http://salem.k12.va.us/staff/sjones/chemweb/electron/waves.gif

In the radio spectrum, longer wavelengths (lower frequencies) “bounce” better than shorter wavelengths (higher frequencies). These longer wavelengths can be bounced off the ground, off layers of the atmosphere, or even off the moon. The ever-changing activity of the sun (day, night, sunspots) makes an enormous difference in the electrical charges in the ionosphere and so significantly affects how well the longer wavelengths “bounce,” “propagate,” how far they “go.” Shorter wavelengths (higher frequency) do not “bounce” so well and so are limited to line-of-sight propagation. Since those longer wavelengths can bounce farther than you can see, those longer wavelengths communicate farther than line-of-sight—the second key concept.

Ham Radios

Picture Credit- http://www.ips.gov.au/Images/Educational/Other%20Topics/Radio%20Communication/typeofHFpropagation.png

For our purposes here, we refer to the longer “bouncy” wavelengths as high frequency (HF) and the “line-of sight” shorter wavelengths as very high frequency (VHF) and ultra high frequency (UHF). Radio wavelengths are usually expressed in meters or fractions of meters. Radio frequencies are usually expressed in “per second” or “Hertz” (abbreviated “Hz”) or “millions per second” (megahertz, MHz) or even “billions per second” (gigahertz, GHz). So, the ham radio spectrum looks like this:

HF 3 to 30 MHz

VHF 30 MHz to 300 MHz

UHF 300 MHz to 3,000 MHz (3 GHz).

All this means is that 3.750 MHz in the 80 meter HF band “bounces” better than 144.500 MHz in the 2 meter VHF band. You’ll get used to it. These concepts will quickly become second nature for you. Suffice it to say, if you want to communicate over long distances, you will want access to those “bouncy” HF bands.

Why Get Licensed?

Why? To get connected with good people of like mind. To legally operate an amateur radio now, you must be tested, licensed and you must provide an address; a private mailbox or PO Box suffices. Though such government-imposed requirements are repugnant to many, here is why you should start now—to practice important skills that will be very useful later. If you only want to talk to your buddy a few miles away, it is almost as easy to use an amateur radio as a CB radio, but to succeed in regional, transcontinental, or worldwide radio communication requires skills born of practice. If you think you can simply turn on a ham radio and send or receive real time news regionally or globally, you are sorely mistaken. There are tools today that allow a novice to very easily use an inexpensive handheld radio to talk to other hams around the world, but this capability depends on internet digital linking. When the internet kill switch is used, there will be no more D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) or IRLP (Internet Radio Linking Project). When the chips are down, you will have only: (1) the short-range line-of-sight capability of VHF and UHF radio and (2) the long-range “bounce” of HF radio. While those short-range line-of-sight VHF/UHF skills are easily acquired, be sure that “DXing,” slang for making long-range contacts, requires special HF radios, more skill, more power, better antennas, and practice. More than local news will be necessary for you to get “the big picture,” so I urge you to get your license and equipment now and start practicing. You cannot be an effective sniper with your first round and you cannot be an effective DXer with your first “QSO,” slang for “radio contact.”

Currently there are three levels of ham licenses being issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): from low to high, Technician, General, and Extra. Each higher level allows more access to bandwidth, more frequencies to use. Morse code is NOT required for any class of ham license. The Technician license exam is very easy. A Technician license gives access to the relatively short-range VHF and UHF bands, but gives none of the HF access necessary for long-range communication. The General license exam is easy, only slightly more difficult than the Technician exam, and a General license allows you to legally enter the long distance world of DXing on HF. A General license is well worth the small increment of effort. The Extra licensing exam is difficult for most, but the Extra license gives access to all the frequencies legally allowed to hams.

Indeed there are many laws currently regulating ham radio usage and I urge you to learn and obey them. Practice, practice, practice… ahem… legally. Let us not review how resistance movements have used clandestine radios against the control grid. There are two styles of study for the exams. One may simply study to pass the exam or one may study to master the information. You may choose to do both. Gordon West has a series of books seemingly aimed at passing the exams. The first in the series is Technician Class 2010-2014.

ARRL, the American Radio Relay League, has a series of books and webpages seemingly aimed at mastering the material. The first in the series is Ham Radio License Manual Revised 2nd Edition. In far more detail than I can do here, the ARRL website provides an overview and resources for many aspects and specialty niches of ham radio, niches like “fast scan amateur TV” mentioned below. With little effort on the ARRL website’s Find A Club page, you can find a local ham club. Most clubs have training classes and members willing to be your personal ham radio mentor, in ham slang, your “Elmer.”

There are even websites dedicated to helping children obtain their licenses. For example: Licenses –Self Study Program

Some Facts, Some Gear Radio “bands” are named by their wavelength or frequency, so because of the relationship between wavelength (abbreviated by the Greek lower case lambda, λ) and frequency (abbreviated by the Greek lower case nu, ν), the “40 meter band” is the same as the “7 MHz band.” As I hinted above, the reciprocal mathematical relationship of wavelength and frequency is quite simple: wavelength (λ) = speed of light (c)/frequency (ν).

Check out this graphic here to get an idea.

The allocation of frequencies to bureaucratic, military, commercial, and amateur users is agreed through international treaties that are enforced by national agencies. The “band plan” for US amateurs includes access to band segments from 160 meters (1.8-2.0 MHz) to 33 centimeters (902-928 MHz), covering quite an enormous expanse of the electromagnetic spectrum. Perhaps the amateur frequency allocations are best appreciated graphically.

Ham Radios

Picture Credit- http://www.arrl.org/images/view/Regulatory_/Color_Band_Chart_Image_1.jpg

Ham “transceivers” both transmit and receive various radio bands. Radios range in price and functionality from utilitarian $100 handhelds to do-everything desktop behemoths costing thousands of dollars. Amplifiers and ancillary equipment increase range and functionality as they also add cost. You decide your budget. A small hand held transceiver, called “HT” for short, will commonly allow transmission and reception on VHF and UHF bands. Many ham HT’s also receive, but do not transmit HF, aviation bands, marine bands, and commercial AM and FM stations.

Opinions vary and tastes differ and there are certainly less expensive options, but I recommend the full feature Yaesu VX-8DR and ICOM ID-51A radios. Do not be perplexed or overwhelmed by product specifications as listed in brochures and reviews. The meaning of these specifications will become crystal clear as you study for your exam and use your own radio. Computer software and cables are available that allow you to program and clone the memories and setting of such radios more easily than tapping every memory and setting into the radio using the radios’ tiny buttons. RT Systems is among the most respected purveyors of such software. That Yaesu model has broader band access than that ICOM model, but does not have D-STAR or built-in GPS. The ICOM does have both D-STAR and built-in GPS (Global Positioning System), hence easy global access now using VHF/UHF (no HF), but, as I mentioned above, those global VHF/UHF capabilities are easily shutdown at the whim of “our” police state.

Also, there may be circumstances where you might not want to automatically report your GPS location, so you might deactivate or not install such options. The ICOM ID-51A’s automatic GPS does allow automatic connection to nearby repeaters and reflectors (see below), a convenience, but you may choose instead to manually enter such information if needed. The line-of-sight range of these tiny 5 watt HT’s can be markedly improved, even to 50 miles, by connecting through suitable coaxial cable to a simple, inexpensive, and unobtrusive magnet mount antenna at home or on your vehicle. To help protect against EMP damage, our family keeps our HT radios in Faraday bags. Ham Radios

ID51A VHF / UHF Dual Band Transceiver – Features Icom America

Vehicle mounted mobile transceivers markedly expand your range and bandwidth. 100-Watt mobile transceivers are common and many add HF capabilities to VHF and UHF. The very newest mobile radios, such as the touchscreen ICOM 7100, reviewed here at eham.net, include both HF and D-STAR as well as GPS capabilities if you activate it. 1,500-Watt amplifiers are optional and refined tunable antennas are available. Such units give you the best of local and worldwide digital radio now and analog radio when the internet has been killed. Ham-Radios What to Buy

IC-7100 HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver – Features – Icom America

For the dedicated, practiced, and affluent ham with a “ham shack,” a 1,500-Watt desktop behemoth (for example, an amplified Kenwood TS-990S) carefully grounded and coupled to a skyful of specialized antennas is the pinnacle of amateur radio capabilities, but is far from portable. There are, of course, competing models such as the ICOM 9100, reviewed here at QST, a ham website and magazine, and here at eham.net. At about a third of the Kenwood TS-990S’s price, expect fewer features and slightly less capability. Your shopping philosophy may differ, but for firearms, optics, and tech gear, I believe, “Buy once, cry once.” Ham Radios

KenwoodTS990S

Whatever you choose, be sure to consider and purchase backup power sources for your radios—rechargeable batteries, solar chargers, generators, and even your vehicles’ batteries. Ham Radio Outlet is one of the better-known suppliers of new and used equipment, but local and regional “hamfests” usually have swap meets. Experienced hams looking to upgrade their equipment often offer a variety of excellent used equipment at great prices though usually without warranties. It is possible—and legal for licensed hams—to communicate through repeaters linked to a home computer without using any radio at all, even using a computer with a “dongle,” a device that allows access to D-STAR—but why? My purpose here is to motivate readers to have radio capability when the banksters’ police state murders the internet. How It Works Hams may communicate from radio to radio using “simplex,” taking turns to transmit and receive on the same frequency, but most VHF and UHF communication currently uses “duplex,” using two different frequencies “offset” for transmitting and receiving and often activated by subaudible “tones” through “repeaters.” Repeaters are powerful radios that, because of their prominent placement on moutaintops or tall buildings facilitate wider range communication than would be allowed by less powerful radios at ground level that are more easily blocked from line-of-sight by terrain or other obstructions. Small 5 watt HTs, may only have a useful range of 2-5 miles when communicating to another ground-level HT, but can have a useful range of 50 miles or more when using a 1,500-watt repeater on a mountaintop to relay the signal. HF and D-STAR communication always use simplex. D-STAR “reflectors” link by the internet to other reflectors around the world allowing 5 watt HTs to talk to people around the world. Reflectors and repeaters can be selectively linked for user-defined networks, but repeaters, reflectors, and linking will likely be unavailable when the internet is down.

Groups of hams with common interests meet on air for scheduled chats, called “nets.” You can form a “net” to meet others who share your particular interests. You can share computer files, photos, videos, and location information—locally or globally.

Ham Radios

Picture Credit-   http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/dstar/dstar/dstar_examples.gif

Privacy

Who has privacy? It is illegal to encrypt or encode amateur radio transmissions (business and government users may encrypt transmissions) and openly broadcasting allows anyone and everyone with a receiver to hear what you say. That is the diametric opposite of privacy—or is it? The amateur bands range from 1.8 to 3,000 MHz. That is a lot of territory available to “hide in plain sight.” Be sure too that there will be times when you want everyone to hear what you have to say.

I urge you to remain lawful and to abide by the millions of laws that control us, but do note this reality, presented here only as points of information, NOT encouragement—Besides the paid enforcers, there are obnoxious unpaid busybodies (as pathologically intrusive as Homeowner Association busybodies) who snoop the airwaves to detect and report even innocent regulation violations to the FCC, but it takes considerable dedication of expensive resources to DF (Direction Find) locate an offender, especially a mobile freedom fighter who illegally does not use his unique call sign and who uses brief simplex (transmit and receive on the same frequency) burst transmissions. Encrypted transmissions sound like static and technologies like spread spectrum are hard to detect and track, explaining in part why the military and the police state use such technologies themselves. Every radio has unique electrical idiosyncrasies that are an unavoidable electronic “signature.” Just like firing pin, chamber, and barrel impressions on a primer, case, or bullet “fingerprints” a firearm, your radio’s electronic signature “fingerprints” every transmission from your radio, but such identification takes sophisticated equipment, trained analysts, the time and will power to dedicate the necessary resources to catch offenders, and the authorities must have your radio in hand to match the on-air fingerprint to you and your radio. Simply because those difficulties exist, do NOT abuse your license privileges. I reiterate, remain courteous and legal.

A Last Word

A loved one is dying, you are injured, your children are starving, and your home is under attack. Who are you going to call? HOW are you going to call? A last word, food for thought. One niche in ham radio is analog TV. Yes, you can send your own amateur analog videos by ham radio, fast scan Amateur Television (ATV). The world had little knowledge of and less sympathy for the genocide of the Palestinian people until photos and video showed the horrifying tortures heaped on innocent Palestinian men, women, and children by perpetrators who perennially pose as victims. Images opened the eyes of the world, even here in the USA where the perpetrators and their accomplices control the media and own “our” legislators.

In the same vein, do you remember how the American KGB kept reporters miles away from the Branch Davidians? Imagine how different the outcome at Waco if the Branch Davidians had transmitted to the world video footage of the attacks and tortures heaped upon them by the uniformed psychopaths. Imagine if the world had seen in real time what the FBI’s own FLIR footage documented, arson and murder under color of authority revealed too late in the documentary Waco: A New Revelation—that psychopaths dismounted from an Army tank to set fire to the Davidians’ home and then machine-gunned men, women, and children as they attempted to flee the government arsonists. Yes, imagine what the world will do to such perpetrators when evidentiary video escapes the control of the gatekeepers. Document and distribute what you see. Talk to each other, my friends.

Nuremberg 2—Punish ALL the guilty; leave the innocent alone. Help it happen.

See more at DisasterandEmergencySurvival.com: Why Ham Radios?

preparedness-survey-checklist

By Ken Jorgustin

The following survival preparedness survey checklist is from information of the latest revision LDS Survival Preparedness Manual. If one looks for them, there are lots of lists out there, and they are all worth reading because any one of them might inspire a new idea.

The following list may assist you to cross-check your readiness…

I do recommend adding to your survival preparedness library, a hard copy of… the 2012 LDS Preparedness Manual, which they have printed at cost.

The latest (2012) preparedness manual is more than 500 pages long. Author Christopher Parrett says, “This version represents the single largest update ever made over the last 15 years, more than “doubling” the total size and content of the manual!”

BOOKS I have assembled a well rounded preparedness library covering all major topics: Yes, No I have READ the books in my preparedness Library: Yes, No. I read those books AND actually put their preparedness suggestions to use!! Yes, No

CLOTHING I have a Summer & a Winter sleeping bag for each member of my family: Yes, No Everyone in my family has a pair of readily available sturdy shoes/boots: Yes, No I have a pair of shoes at my bedside I could put on with no light at night: Yes, No

COMMUNICATIONS I have a AM/FM/Shortwave radio that is Battery or Solar Powered: Yes, No I have 2-Way radios (CB, FRS, GMRS) for my family members: Yes, No I have spare batteries or Solar Chargers for my radios for: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+ Each member of my family has a Cell Phone: Yes, No I have 2nd way to charge each phone without Utility Power: Yes, No I have my HAM License and a HAM Radio: Yes, No

DEFENSE I own a Dog: Yes, No My Yard is fully fenced: Yes, No I have Deadbolts on all my doors and locks on all windows: Yes, No I have a burglar alarm and arm and use it daily/nightly: Yes, No I have a Handgun for each member of my family (age appropriate): Yes, No I have a Rifle for each member of my family (age appropriate): Yes, No I have at least 1,000 rounds of ammunition for each weapon: Yes, No I have a Safe Room in my home: Yes, No My family has a Home Invasion Plan and we have drilled it: Yes, No I have a concealed Carry Permit and carry my weapon with me at all times: Yes, No

DRILLS I have staged a Fire Drill in my home for my family in the last 24 months: Yes, No I have staged an Emergency (Bugout) Drill for my family in the last 24 months: Yes, No I have staged an Intruder/Robbery Drill for my family in the last 24 months: Yes, No I have staged a 48 hour Power Outage Drill for my family in the last 24 months: Yes, No I have staged a 48 hour Water Outage Drill for my family in the last 24 months: Yes, No

DOCUMENTS I have paper copies of all important documents: Yes, No I have a paper list of contacts, Phone, Names, Addresses, etc: Yes, No Each member of my family has a current valid Passport: Yes, No

EVACUATION I have a specific planned destination to go to for emergency relocation: Yes, No I have an appropriately packed 72hr Kit for each member of my family: Yes, No I have a Bug Out Bag for my family: Yes, No. I have paper maps for my City, County, State and route to planned destination: Yes, No

FINANCES I keep the following “Cash On Hand” at home: Silver or Gold coins for emergency: Yes, No I have an Emergency Fund for all monthly expenses for: None, 1, 3, 6, 12+ Months I have paid off all of my credit card debt: Yes, No I have paid off ALL my debts: Yes, No

FOOD For every member of my family, I have at least…

Canned: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+ Dehydrated/Freeze Dried: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+ MRE/Retort: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+

I regularly rotate my food and never allow any to expire: Yes, No I have a way to cook my food (camp stove/grill/etc) without power/Natural Gas: Yes, No

FUEL I have stored stabilized gasoline: None, 5 gallons, 10 Gallons, 25 Gallons, 50 Gallons+ I have backup fuel: Butane, White Gas, wood, Propane, Charcoal for cooking: Yes, No I have backup fuel, such as wood or propane for emergency home heating: Yes, No

LIGHTING I have a flashlight in every bedroom: Yes, No I have backup lighting (LED Lamps, Kerosene Lamps, Solar Lights, etc): Yes, No I have Long Burning candles for: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+ I have spare batteries to power my flashlights for: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+

MEDICAL I know and am trained in First Aid: Yes, No I have a well stocked first aid kit in my home: Yes, No I have my prescriptions for: I have well rounded supply of Over The Counter Meds: Yes, No I regularly exercise and maintain my physical health: Yes, No My family has a Medical Emergency Response Plan and knows what to do: Yes, No

NUCLEAR / BIOLOGIAL / CHEMICAL I have a Geiger Counter or radiological survey meter: Yes, No I have assembled a decontamination kit for NBC exposure: Yes, No I have an appropriate Gas Mask for each member of my family: Yes, No I have an NBC Suit for each member of my family: Yes, No

PANDEMIC My family is ready to impose a “Self Isolation Quarantine” for: None, 15, 30, 60, 90 Days I have a substantial supply of disposable: Gloves, Masks, Booties, Suits, Goggles: Yes, No My family is prepared to create, supply, staff an isolation/sick room in our home: Yes, No

POWER I have a portable electric Generator: Yes, No I have started and run my generator in the last: Week, Month, Quarter, Year, ? I have a solar/Wind/Hydro electric system in my home: Yes, No

SANITATION I have a chemical or Organic toilet: Yes, No I have a “Lugable Loo” or other disposable emergency Toilet: Yes, No I have an Outhouse on my property: Yes, No I have stored Lime to use with an emergency outdoor pit toilet: Yes, No I have stored lots of extra toilet paper: Yes, No

SHELTER I have a fire extinguisher in my home and know how to use it: Yes, No I have a Carbon Monoxide Detector for use in an emergency: Yes, No I know my neighbors and could count on them in an emergency: Yes, No

SPIRITUAL I have personal prayer every day: Yes, No I have personal scripture study every day: Yes, No I participate in Family prayer every day: Yes, No I participate in Family scripture study every day: Yes, No I participate in Family Home Evening every week: Yes, No I attend my church every week: Yes, No I donate generously in my Tithes and Offerings to my church: Yes, No

TRAINING I am CERT (Community Emergency Responce Training) certified: Yes, No

TRANSPORTATION My vehicle fuel tank is currently: Near Empty, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, Full I have a 4 wheel drive vehicle: Yes, No I have a fire extinguisher in my car and know how to use it: Yes, No I keep a Bug Out Bag in my vehicle at all times: Yes, No I have a GPS unit in my vehicle or readily available: Yes, No I have a well stocked first aid kit in my vehicle: Yes, No

WATER I have enough stored water for each family member for: None, 3 days, 7, 15, 30 Days+ I have water treatment chemicals (bleach, iodine, aerobic oxygen, etc.) stored: Yes, No I have a water purification system (filter): Yes, No

I AM PREPARED ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS AROUND ME: Yes, No

BECAUSE I AM WELL PREPARED,

I WILL BE AN ASSET, NOT A LIABILITY TO MY COMMUNITY: Yes, No I AM HELPING OTHERS BECOME PREPARED: Yes, No

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Modern Survival Blog

Many of the values of the LDS community (self-sufficiency and preparedness, etc.) coincide with many of the same which are held by preppers. More information: LDS AVOW

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By Brian Meyer

Prepping is more than having a room full of food and supplies, it’s also about skills. All the food, weapons, and supplies in the world will only get you so far if you don’t have the skills for survival. A first-aid kit is great, but if you don’t know how to perform first aid, it loses most of its usefulness.

There are classes available all around the country that help with learning the skills needed for survival, and most aren’t even listed as survival, but just as quality of life skills everyone should know. Check out the list of the top ten training courses you should be taking right now and learn a new skill.

1. Red Cross First Aid and CPR

 red-cross-training

These classes can literally be a lifesaver. Taking a first aid class can give you the skills you need to survive and not only help yourself but also help others.

The class involves learning how to respond to common first aid emergencies including burns, cuts, and injuries to the head, neck, and back. If you have kids there is a pediatric version available, too.

Along with first aid are classes on CPR. These can help teach you the proper way to give someone CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Trying to do this without the proper knowledge is a good way to kill someone, so make sure you take the time now to learn the proper way.

2. LDS (Mormon) Canning Classes

canning-skills

No matter your religious beliefs, the Mormons are often glad to help teach the art of preserving and canning food. The storing of food for emergencies is a belief they hold closely, so it’s no wonder that they are skilled in the art of canning.

Visit a LDS Cannery close to you for classes and information. Most are free and open to the public with an appointment. Check out this site for a list of LDS Cannery locations.

3. ARRL Amateur Radio

amateur-radio-survival

When the SHTF it’s not likely that there will be cell phone or even landline service for the foreseeable future, which means alternate forms of communication will be vital to survival.

Learning the art of amateur radio operation now can give you an interesting hobby as well as give you the skills you need to communicate in grid-down situations. The ARRL association for Amateur Radio is a great place to learn what you need to be skilled at using amateur radios as well as get certified so you can legally operate one today.

4. NRA Gun Training

 nra-gun-class

The National Rifle Association, or NRA, offers a variety of gun classes ranging from basic gun training and hunting, to youth programs and even gunsmithing. If you’re serious about security and safety in regard to firearms, these should be the classes you take.

Having a gun isn’t enough to protect you and your family. You need to know how to use it safely and correctly as well. Learn these skills now and you’ll be much better off when you need to use them.

5. Spinning/Weaving Classes

spinning-weaving

In a survival situation it’s a pretty safe bet that the Wal-Marts and malls will be out of business. This means any clothes you need will have to come from yourself or bartered for. Learning how to make your own clothes and to do repairs on the ones you have is just as necessary as any other skill you prepare to use.

There are tons of local clubs and community college classes that will teach this, so your best bet is to look at the local community college or community center for a class. This will probably cost a few bucks, but it’ll be money well spent.

6. Candle and Soap Making

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Making your own candles and soaps can be a fun hobby to have, and can even be a great gift idea for friends and family. The best part about this is that when the SHTF you’ll be able to make your own soap and candles to keep you and your family clean and well lit.

You can learn how to make soap and candles from sites on the Internet as well as at local craft stores.

7. Gardening Classes

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In long-term survival situations you’ll need to know how to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables to keep your food supplies stocked. You can even use these skills now to help build up your food stores by canning the leftovers.

These classes and clubs should be fairly easy to find by checking out a local community center or community college. There are more than enough books and sites on the Internet about gardening as well. National Geographic even has a special on how to make a secret, hidden survival garden, a real plus for survival situations where you want your food hidden.

8. Backpacking Club

backpacking

Knowing how to properly backpack and camp is a skill that will be invaluable in survival situations. There is far more to backpacking that walking around the woods with a large backpack on. By joining a backpacking club you can gain skills and information that you might not pick up on by reading alone. Best of all, you get to talk to other backpackers and see what skills they have.

Check out local community centers and outdoor shops for information on clubs and classes. Some retailers will offer classes free of charge to members or even the general public.

9. FEMA/CERT Training

fema-cert-training

FEMA/CERT training is what people that do emergency response and rescue take to make sure their skills are up to any challenge. These are great for the average prepper, too, as you will need to be your own emergency response unit when things go bad.

Check out FEMA’s website for more information and training manuals. These should be a great place to start.

10. Shop Class for Adults

adult-shop-class

Most community colleges offer some form of shop class or industrial skills class that you can sign up for and take. These usually cost a fee, but in them you can learn everything from welding to auto repair to woodworking.

Take as many of these classes as you can, as the money you invest will come back to you in both the short and long term. Immediately you can use these skills to help around the house and in the future you can not only care for your own house, but also barter and trade your skills to get things you need while helping your neighbor.

Wrap-Up

There are probably a hundred more skills you can learn to help survive, but these are a great place to get started. Too often prepping with food, weapons, and general supplies overshadow the most important part of a survival plan: yourself.

Improve yourself as much as you can now while information is easily accessible. When things get bad, you’ll have a much harder time finding someone to teach you these skills, and the thought of using the Internet to find your answers will be a dream. – Survival Based

Survival Preppers

By

The Problem

Because of my position in the prepper and homesteading community, I have the privilege of being able to speak to others frankly and openly about their degree of preparedness. So often I am pleased to hear that each person or family is working towards improving their level of readiness in each of the basic areas of water, food, shelter, protection and medical preps. But if there is one area that most of us seem to be lacking it is communications. Because communications can be a technical, expensive and somewhat confusing area for most of us non-radio geeks, it tends to get regulated to the “some-day” list. Given the extreme importance of being able to communicate is an emergency situation, it is just unacceptable to not have at least a basic level of communications in place. Today we are going to change that.

communication

The Solution

To do that, I am going to focus on an inexpensive, relatively non-technical way to get a basic level of communications  for your preps; a pair of basic FRS/GMRS radio handsets. Undoubtedly you have seen these in the electronics section of many big box stores. Made by manufacturers such as Motorola, Uniden, Audiovox, Midland and others, these radios are fairly reliable, inexpensive, and easy to use. While limited in range and performance, these radios can be used to satisfy your need for basic communications until your equipment and knowledge on more advanced HAM radio systems can be obtained.

Motorola-MR350-1--12-9-10

What Kind of Performance Should I Expect?

While many of the packages and online ads will scream “35 mile range!”, don’t believe it. While technically true,  these ranges are for mountaintop to ground with no obstructions. In reality things like terrain, trees, structures and other radio interference greatly limit the range and practical effectiveness of these handhelds. Because all of these factors will vary depending on the situation, the best way to know what they will do for you is to get a good quality set of FRS/GMRS radios and try them out around the areas you will most likely be using them. Not real helpful, but it is the truth. However, a general rule of thumb is that most of these radios will get you between .5 mile and 1 mile in urban situations, and 1-2 miles in relatively unobstructed, flat open rural areas.

Test the radio in your actual environment to see what ranges YOU can expect

Test the radio in your actual environment to see what ranges YOU can expect

So What’s the Difference Between FRS and GMRS?

Without getting into an unnecessary technical explanation, FRS and GMRS operate on the same frequencies. Channels 1-7 are for both FRS & GMRS, 8-14 are FRS only and 15-22 are for GMRS only. Channels 1-14 are limited to .5 watt while channels 15-22 allow up to 50 watts. Most of the FRS/GMRS radios we are discussing have 2 watts max power and automatically limit themselves to .5 watt when used on channels 1-14. You technically need a GMRS license to operate on channels 15-22 and it is available for about $80 on the FCC website. It is good for your immediate family for 5 years. Of course in most true emergency or TEOTWAWKI situations the license point is moot, but you should know what is required by the FCC. I have oversimplified this on purpose, but you can research FRS/GMRS more once  you begin moving on to the next level of your communications plan.

What Should I look for in a Handset?

Personally, I look for a quality unit by a solid manufacturer. For me that’s Motorola, but many of the other bands are fine too. Check the reviews and buy accordingly. My next consideration is batteries. I have standardized on AA batteries for my preps whenever possible, so I look for that in my radios. Many, like my personal radios the Motorola MR350R , have a proprietary NiMh battery pack that can be swapped out for 3 AA batteries if needed. I would avoid radios that can’t use a standard size battery. Also be sure to have a reliable means to recharge your batteries if the power is out. Solar panel re-chargers are the most popular for these situations. I also like to have a VOX feature on my radios. When turned on, the radio will automatically transmit when it hears a sound. This will allow for hands free communication in a lot of circumstances. Some have even used this feature as a long range baby monitor.

Motorola radios

Practical Uses and Limitations?

Because of the limited range, these units do not diminish the need for a good HAM radio setup and the knowledge to use it properly. However, having a reliable device that allows close distance communications can be invaluable. Imagine having no power and you and your family or group is together at your place of shelter. Without radios, you are limited to shouting distance communication distances. With a set of simple FRS/GMRS radios you have increased the range to likely cover your entire homestead or general perimeter. Every trip to get fresh water, empty the trash or use the facilities no longer cuts you off from the rest of the group. Even simple trips to the neighbors can be done with a little more peace of mind. A basic lookout post becomes much more effective at securing the rest of the group than would otherwise be possible. While certainly not a substitute for more secure means of communication, it is certainly better that shouting! They can also be used for close vehicle to vehicle communications if the need to travel arises.

Final Thoughts

For under $60 you can purchase a quality set of radios that will likely last you 5-10 years. Take these radios and a partner and test your likely areas of use for range and limitations. If you find the range useful for your area and situation, purchase at least 1 additional set and make sure you have extra batteries and off-grid means to charge them. By doing so you have made yourself much more prepared and ahead of approximately 90% of all preppers who never even get started tackling the communications issue. Once you see how valuable good communications can be, it will likely spur you on to learn the more complicated HAM radio stuff. I truly hope this has encouraged you to not put off getting a basic level of communications gear for your preps. In the end, the more good guys we have prepared the better we all will be. – Prepared For That

God bless,

Prepared Preacher

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By

In any type of disaster, your normal means of communication will likely be limited or severed completely. This applies during a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or other large-scale natural disaster. It also applies during a terrorist attack, EMP strike, or nuclear war scenario.

Cell phones, landlines, Internet, and power will be shut down. You will no longer have the luxury of picking up the phone to call for help or scanning the Web for information.

When such a crisis happenes and the systems in place no longer function, you must be prepared to fend for yourself. If you don’t already have a backup communication plan in place, there is no time like the present to start.

A reliable communication system should be equal in importance to your guns, ammo, food, and other material preps. While these are essential to sustain your life, the ability to communicate could actually save your life during a disaster.

Below we will discuss a few of the most common communications systems available for civilian use and how they can help you in a survival situation.

Receivers

The following devices will only allow you to receive information from outside sources. They are most effective as a means to alert you prior to a disaster, and keep you updated in its aftermath.

scannerScanners – Most handheld scanners have between 8 and 20 channels. These channels operate on a frequency between 30 and 512 megahertz. Handheld scanners can pick up police, fire, and ambulance traffic and allow you to monitor updates regarding the events in your area.

AM/FM Radio – Depending on the scale of the disaster, traditional AM/FM radio may still work after the kick. These stations broadcast using shortwave radio waves that can transmit across long distances. The range of the radio depends on the size of the antenna, power of the signal, and terrain of the area.

Weather Alert Radio – Weather alert radios are designed to automatically power on and emit an alert signal prior to a weather emergency. They act much like a fire alarm in that they only come on if a severe weather warning is issued. People living in areas commonly hit by tornadoes, hurricanes, or other localized storms should always have a weather alert radio on hand.

Transceiver

Transceiver radios can receive AND transmit information. They will be most important after a disaster to coordinate rescue efforts and signal for help. The devices below range in their effectiveness, but each should be considered as part of a well-rounded communications plan.

marine-intercom-old-as-used-old-war-ship-submarine-image33247788Family Radio Service – The Family Radio Service (FRS) is what you use with everyday, consumer two-way walkie-talkies. They work well at short-ranges in most terrain, with little interference. This makes them popular on camping trips, job sites, and for other short-range personal communication tasks. The biggest drawback to FRS radios is their low battery life and limited range.

GMRS – The General Mobile Radio Service is another form of short-distance two-way radio communication. Unlike FRS, it requires licensing from the FCC to be used. GMRS radios cost more than FRS but have much greater range and power. A GMRS radio has a normal range of 10-15 miles. Tapping into a local repeater could extend that range to upwards of hundreds of miles.

Marine Radio – Marine radios are found on most boats, ships and homes along the water. They are used for ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore traffic in both coastal and open water areas. These channels broadcast important information about severe weather, criminal activity, and other suspicious behavior on and near the water.

CB Radio – When most people think of CB (Citizen Band) radios they think about the ones mounted in big-rig trucks. CB radios are also available in handheld, battery-operated form. These devices have 40-channels and ports for an external mic or antenna (to extend your range). Most trucker CB radios are in fact CB/SSB radios. SSB stands for Single Side Band and gives the radio much greater range with or without an external antenna. CB radios are normally quite cheap and do not require much practice (or a license) to operate.

HAM Radio – HAM radio is often hailed as the go-to means of survival communication. It offers the most range and can transmit via voice, text, or video communication. Though the strongest HAM radios are base station models, they can also be mounted in vehicles or carried as portable handheld radios. These portable devices have low output, but can take a charge from a 12-volt battery.

Operating a HAM radio requires a license from the FCC. There are three levels of HAM licensing: amateur, general, and technician. Each level is given their own set of frequencies. Quite simply, you do not need a license to receive info via HAM radio. But if you want to transmit legally, you will need a license.When disaster strikes, HAM frequencies will no longer be regulated and you will be able to transmit freely. In any case, the FCC permits an individual to transmit via HAM radio in a life or death circumstance. The biggest drawback to HAM radio is the limited number of users. With so few HAM operators compared to the population as a whole, it will be difficult to reach other survivors who are versed in HAM radio.

The ability to communicate after a disaster will be crucial to your chances of survival. One day when you turn on your cellphone and nothing happens what will you do? Hopefully you’ll resort to one of these several backup radios, as they could be your only ticket to survival. – Survivopedia

Find out more about long term survival after disaster happens on Prepper’s Blueprint.

Photo sources: Dreamstime.

Should you get a Ham Radio License or Hide from the Government?

Posted by P. Henry – The Prepper Journal

I remember cruising around some of the blogs I frequent last year I believe and ran into one YouTube channel from a guy who said he refused to get his HAM license for anything. I can’t swear by it, but I think I remember who he was, but that isn’t important. In this video he proceeded to show how you could look up any Ham radio license holders address from several different websites. He did this in response to someone who left very incendiary comments on his blog if memory serves and used this as a lesson in both OPSEC and how it’s bad for the government to have your name on any lists.

In another video this same guy went on to explain and demonstrate his own personal Ham Radio setup complete with a really nice antenna that was suspended from trees and hidden from view with additional comments about how he would not get his Ham license because he didn’t need to be on any government lists and if TSHTF, the first place they would go would be the Ham operators and take them offline.

This got me to thinking a while back and I really debated whether or not I should be like this guy and be a conscientious objector to the whole notion of licensing and just be a rebel with my antenna hanging in a tree. After a lot of thought and some research I decided to pull the trigger and get my Ham license and I want to explain why and discuss why you might want to do the same.

Isn’t Ham something yummy and delicious?

As context, let me explain what Ham is to those of you who aren’t familiar with the term. Ham Radio is also known as Amateur Radio and is a network of radio communications that rely on antennas and individual pieces of equipment to communicate using radio waves. Ham Radio has many strengths but chief among them for Preppers is its ability to be counted on in a disaster.

Ham Radio operators can still communicate if there is no electric power, satellites or cellular service. That is the primary reason they are the go-to method of communication for preppers as well as emergency response teams in virtually every large city. With the right equipment, Ham operators can talk to people in other countries using technology that was around in the early 1900s. If some disaster knocks out the cell phone service, emergency communications can be routed through Amateur Radio and you can keep in touch with others in your family, group, region or state pretty easily.

Ham radio is a valuable Prepper skill.

Ham radio is a valuable Prepper skill.

Ham or Amateur radios fall under the control of the FCC and there is a licensing process associated with being able to communicate on the radio. In order to speak on the air legally, you must first obtain your Technician level license and a call sign from the FCC. Your name and information will be listed in at least one public database and this information is freely accessible to anyone who wants to look.

Reasons Why You shouldn’t get a license

Like my friend above, I had some initial concerns regarding licensing because like any good Prepper, I am concerned with OPSEC. Even if I wasn’t into prepping, I wouldn’t want my name and address posted anywhere that someone could easily access it and part of communicating on Ham Radio is that you are required to give your call sign. Anyone you are talking to, or anyone simply listening in can look up your call sign and see where you are from. After learning all of this I started to weigh my options with Ham radio.

Like I mentioned above, Ham radio is probably the single best – disaster proof communication method the average person can use. As I began prepping my own family, the topic of communications came up several times. How would I communicate with my family in an emergency? How would we get news from others if for some reason there was a media blackout? The ubiquitous walkie-talkies that everyone has are affective at limited ranges, but what about longer distances? Ham Radio addressed both of those concerns nicely.

The only problem was that darned license.

At this point I could do one of two things. I could either get my license and put my name and address out there for everyone to see or I could simply buy the radio equipment and use it illegally. The thought process for some people is that if TSHTF, nobody is going to care if you have a license so the latter option is one I considered just like the YouTube guy above.

How hard can it be?

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Ham radio works when other traditional communication methods are offline.

It turns out that two things influenced my decision on whether or not to be a law abiding citizen. The first and most obvious was my address out there on the interwebs. To get around that, I simply purchased a PO Box in a nearby town and used that for my FCC information. This is perfectly legal and still protects my address somewhat. Could someone look up my name, and then cross reference me in the phone book? I guess so, but who are we talking about here? If you have a psychopath running around trying to find you, chances are there are much easier ways of getting to your house. If this is in a post-collapse scenario, I have bigger problems.

Now, does that mean I should let my guard down and talk about anything on the radio? Not at all. The airwaves are public and anyone can listen in. For that reason alone, you should take great care in choosing what you talk about or divulge when you are talking on the Ham bands.

The second and more important factor that influenced my decision was the learning curve that is associated with Ham Radio. Getting started is pretty simple and once I had a radio, I was listening in on channels fairly quickly, but there is so much you can do that is outside of dialing through some frequencies. To fully take advantage of Ham Radio, I would need to practice and you can’t do that illegally, well without risk that is. Technically you can get on the radio and start talking without a call sign or you could lie, but just because radio waves are invisible, that doesn’t mean you can’t be found. Hams make a game out of finding antennas and it’s called a fox hunt. If you are talking on the radio and shouldn’t be, someone can report you, they will find you and the fines from the FCC are steep.

On the Radio – Almost

So with all that said, I went and took the exam for my Technician level license and passed. Now, as soon as the Government opens back up, and the backlog clears I will have a call sign and my name will start appearing in those databases. I am looking forward to finally being able to talk on the radio, but more importantly learning about the different frequencies and antennas I can use to communicate to others should our normal method of communications go down. I think of this as a decent trade-off for being able to communicate legally over the radio and besides, it isn’t like my name isn’t in several databases already. I am in the database for prior military service, the firearm database, IRS database etc. etc. If they want to find me they already know where I am and just because I have a radio now, that won’t be much more motivation to come get me I don’t believe. We’ll see.

I will add some Ham links to the site on our Resources page and will post from time to time on this subject as I learn more. I think if you are seriously considering how you could communicate in a grid-down environment, HAM radio deserves a close look.

This information has been made available by The Prepper Journal: Should you get a Ham Radio License or Hide from the Government?

73’s