April 6, 2014 at 7:10 am #7269
Please forgive me if this has already been covered. I’ve tried to search for a similar topic but I’m afraid either my noobness or lack of intuitive search tool is to blame. For arguments sake, I’ll say it’s me.
Carrying on, in my prepping I found a huge hole regarding communications. My wife is a teacher and in the event of a catastrophe, she legally cannot leave her post. We have two small children and this raises the question as to how we communicate with each other. Who’s going to get the kids? How do we know where each other is at? The questions go on and on.
My solution was for each of us to have a VHF/UHF radio and transmit on a HAM band.
I know. You need an FCC license to legally transmit on this band and even if you do, the radios are still “line of sight” which gives you maybe 3.5 miles.
Solution #1: Getting a technicians license to transmit on the licensed HAM bands is not too hard.
Solution #2 Distance limitations can be overcome with the use of a repeater making the distance between radios much greater. Up to 100 miles depending on the altitude of the repeater station.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a pair of 4watt portable radios either. I purchased two Baofeng UV-5RAX+ radios off of amazon for $80.
Just a thought for those of you considering this.
Thanks for the time,
MottApril 6, 2014 at 9:10 am #7277
Thanks Mott for that. Communications is an area I have to do something more about.April 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm #7290
I suggest you and your family sit down and agree on actions to be taken under different circumstances. Most H/T (handi talkies) are line of sight like you mentioned but if one of you is in an area below the level of the transmitting H/T you will not communicate.
Come up with a meeting place that is central to your work area, your wife’s school and your children’s school. Once you do that then get there when you must. Do not run around trying to hook up with others. Under no reason leave.
You are correct about transmitting on HAM frequencies after SHTF. The large portion of repeaters may have back up batteries but that is only temporary. The ones in my area are such that they also have access to back up generators.
Here is a url that will take you to a website with resources for the UV-5R.
RobinApril 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm #7380
Agree with Robin. You need to take in consideration all possible scenarios (and complications). S. probably will hit the fan at the moment when you are not expecting it, so you need to have plan, and backup plan, and backup plan again.
For example plan to meet at point A, if that is not possible have point B etc.
Good plan may be blown into pieces if you do not have backup solutions.April 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm #7685
Thanks for the input everyone! Comms is an area I’m definitely lacking in. It helps to have real advice from you guys.April 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm #8248
Great post on topic…
I recently obtained my Tech class license, and have been using/playing with my baofeng HT’s too…
Don’t forget the GMRS bands too, that you can obtain a family level license, 85.00 for several years i reacall correctly, and have long range comms via the vaious GMRS repeaters available….No test required…
Might be a nice way to get into things…
PSYOP…April 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm #8260
So I read the information at the link but to the unlearned it meant little more than shifting gears.
Would you be able to make a short list of radio capability?
ThanksApril 13, 2014 at 12:52 am #8335
I know that Baofeng HTs are popular because of how inexpensive they are but I don’t recommend them to people whom are new to amateur radio. If you’re serious about keeping in contact and need a solution that will go further than ~3 miles I would get a Yaesu FT-2900R (on sale now and also has a rebate) and a Comet M-24M magnet mount antenna for your vehicle. You will need a amateur technician license to transmit.
With that radio and antenna combination you can expect a typical range of 30 miles point-to-point without a repeater so long as you don’t live in a mountainous area. Yes, you will get less range if one or both vehicles are in a poor position. With repeaters you can easily cover 100 miles. My personal record point-to-point on the 2m ham bands is 120 miles using an omnidirectional antenna at 55 watts.April 13, 2014 at 1:11 am #8350
Edheler – any recommendations for areas surrounded by low,’gentle’ mountains (i.e approx average 3000 ft max)
Just got tech license 3 weeks ago – still lots to learn. Also – any ideas to disguise antennae?April 13, 2014 at 1:23 am #8353
Mountains aren’t really a problem — it’s the valleys that are an issue. You will have great range if you’re on the top and lousy range down at the bottom. If there is a repeater on top of one of the mountains then you will have a pretty easy time on 2m or 70cm. You can check for repeaters in your area using this site. If you don’t have a repeater available you won’t have much luck communicating from one valley to another if a mountain is in the way.
What kind of antenna are you trying to disguise? I suggested a magnet mount for the vehicle so you can just keep the antenna put away when you’re not using it. If you’re talking about HF antennas there aren’t too many great solutions if you don’t have trees nearby to string them through.April 13, 2014 at 2:19 am #8355
Tweva & Edheler.
A 2 meter/70 cm mobile radio with a mag mount antenna can be turned into a base unit. You would need a 12 volt power supply used for radios. Ordinary power supplies create noise on your radio. You can put the mag mount on
a metal cabinet, window a/c or metal roof.
RobinApril 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm #8443
The easiest power supply in the world is to get a deep cycle battery and a trickle charger. (The battery linked is a great one but it’s pricey.) I would then build a very small solar system to keep it charged if the grid goes down. (Renogy 100w Solar Panel for $150 and a Sunforce 30A Charge Controller for $75) When you can afford to, get something like a Yaesu FT-857D and you will have worldwide communication.
Edit: I added a post over in Hands On Projects about a much more capable solar system.
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