Sunday, April 22, 2012

Preparation and communications

As anyone who is a regular reader of this blog should know, I am a prepper, and have been for about eight years. It was being without power and fuel for ten days after Hurricane Charley (August 2004) first opened my eyes. Being a prepper doesn't mean that we are sitting around preparing for the end of the world, although if you are truly ready for that, you are ready for anything less than that.

One of the lessons that I learned during Hurricane Charley was the need for communications. Cell service was out for weeks. With no way to reach the outside world or communicate with family members was a severe handicap. So I added getting a HAM license as a step in my preparedness campaign. It was a simple test, and a $10 fee for the license, and you don't even need to know Morse code. In exchange, I got a license that allows me to operate radios that have enough reach for most disaster communications.

The radios I am using are mobile and portable FM units in the 2 meter and 70 cm band. These are useful for communications for a large area.  I have used the FT 7900 that I is mounted in my truck to talk to repeaters that are up to 50 miles away. I can routinely reach a repeater that is over 30 miles from my house. This allows me to talk to a person in Melbourne while I am sitting in my vehicle in Lakeland, over 60 miles away. If the repeater is out of the disaster area and has an active internet connection, I can use Echolink to talk to any radio operator in the world. Telephone patches are also available.

When talking directly to other radios without the use of a repeater, I regularly communicate with friends who are 8 or ten miles away with the vehicle mounted set. I'm sure I can reach farther, but we usually use repeaters for that.

I can hear you now: "So what? Those cheap radios at WalMart claim that they are able to reach 30 miles or more." To that, I say BULLSHIT. You are lucky to reach a mile with those things.

HAM radio is the way to go, if you are serious about disaster communications and about prepping. Give it a look, it is well worth it. A 2 meter mobile radio can be had for about $200 new, and the ability to reach the outside world and call for help can be priceless.

1 comment:

Robert Hewes said...

I'm curious -- do you store the radio in a faraday cage?