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  1. #1
    Sergeant
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    Default SHTF Communications

    What are you guys planning to use to communicate with immediate family should phone lines go down? I've been looking through some options and can't find something to cover a big enough range without needing a license. Range is about from lower Westchester to lower Rockland.
    Chaos isn't a pit, It's a ladder

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    Sergeant speedkills27's Avatar
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    i dont know how far from rockland to westchester is but my family can get it done with CB's with a 5 mile radius on a clear day even my brother who lives outside of my range can be relayed info from other family members between us. I know thats not Ideal but it beats getting a HAM license
    What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms."
    - Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

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    Colonel spat's Avatar
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    Amateur radio is the way to go, across the city or world.
    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
    Albert Einstein

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  6. #4
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    In SHTF a license will only be good for kindling....
    smitty846 likes this.

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    Can ham radio's be Used without a lisence

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    Captain barrelmelter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drinkthekoolaid View Post
    Can ham radio's be Used without a lisence
    You can have a ham without a liscence. You can't legally transmit. You can only receive. In an emergency situation, who would care?
    Check out Yaesu 2900. Its 12V.
    Last edited by barrelmelter; 09-12-2016 at 07:06 PM.

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    Sergeant atc250r's Avatar
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    I've often thought the same thing. If the SHTF I will be giving exactly zero fucks about having a license.

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    I believe that even in an emergency situation, if you transmit you probably won't get crucified.
    Be forwarned , some HAM clubs take great delight and pride in quickly locating non licenced users under normal conditions.

    The Baofeng UV-5RA series is another popular sub $30 portable walkie talkie style radio.

    I plan on taking a class over the winter as the learning curve will probably be easier than teaching myself.
    Find an Amateur Radio License Class in Your Area

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    Major FrankenCub's Avatar
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    It's nothing to get the tech license to use a HAM radio before SHTF then you can learn more about it as you use it. I just bought a Baofeng GT3 MarkIII. Should be here next Monday. Wouldn't hurt to have one of those cheap radios anyway, like atc says, once SHTF it isn't gonna matter if you're licensed or not.

  12. #10
    Colonel spat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atc250r View Post
    I've often thought the same thing. If the SHTF I will be giving exactly zero fucks about having a license.
    There really isn't much to getting a no-code license, and one of the big deals with coms is the network of people you will be working with.
    Planning on just firing up your transmitter for the first time when the SHTF is like having a buried AR you've never shot....


    worlds better than nothing, but probably not what you want.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus View Post
    What are you guys planning to use to communicate with immediate family should phone lines go down? I've been looking through some options and can't find something to cover a big enough range without needing a license. Range is about from lower Westchester to lower Rockland.

    If the SHTF, who cares about a license
    Gun loving family man with never enough time for either. S
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    I've come to realize that you guys are some filthy criminals in here and I love it. I'm going to look into those portable models just to get some experience and maybe a class.
    Chaos isn't a pit, It's a ladder

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    A buddy of mine in into CB radio's. He gets unbelievable range by pumping an obscene amount of wattage through it. Not sure what hardware is required.
    That's all folks

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    i was actually thinking about this same topic this morning after hearing all the 9/11 stories and all the challenges with phones being down. what would be the best option for someone really only concerned of communicating with family in like a 5 -10 mile range. i like the idea of being handheld? does that limit distance? i tried reading info of the two recommended above but it mind as well be in Spanish. or maybe even a website to get a basic understanding of ham radios.

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    Major FrankenCub's Avatar
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    Some mobile CB radios are good for 10 miles but most are really limited by their wattage. Most are really only good for line of site, like down the highway in front of you. Great for talking to other truckers but as soon as you get seperated by a hill of city you will loose reception. The higher end radios that some truckers use are actually modded HAM rigs. My neighbor has a couple that are good for 20 or so miles but it's pushing a lot of power. He also has a base rig that he talks to people all over the country if the skip is right but it's pushing insane wattage with a preamp and a 50' tower for his antenna. That stuff gets pretty expensive.
    The benefit to these little HAM radios is they will connect with a repeater 20 miles away. I don't think you'll find a hand held CB that will connect with another hand held CB 5 miles away. They have even less power than a mobile CB (truck rig).

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    Anyone ever look into satellite phones? Pricey, but i feel like they're virtually limitless in range.

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    Major FrankenCub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommyp View Post
    Anyone ever look into satellite phones? Pricey, but i feel like they're virtually limitless in range.
    Not a chance, once SHTF the first thing they will do is cut off the sats.

  20. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnus View Post
    What are you guys planning to use to communicate with immediate family should phone lines go down? I've been looking through some options and can't find something to cover a big enough range without needing a license. Range is about from lower Westchester to lower Rockland.

    Legalities aside, I think the big benefit to getting a ham radio license is more about the knowledge associated with getting the license. I agree that if SHTF, a license is of little practical value, as long as you know how to use them. It also depends on what your goals are... If all you care about is local communication with friends/family, then just get a CB or other regular walkie talkies, or a handheld amateur radio. If you're going to maximize the ham radios' potential, then it might be more useful and straightforward to learn if you take a class, get the license, and learn how to use it.

    A mobile unit in your car is going to take a little more effort that just buying a handheld. If you want to communicate regionally/nationally/internationally then you'll probably need a more expensive base station, external battery system, and antenna. Regular walkie talkies/CB radios typically have a set number of channels. A ham radio is a little more flexible, but depending on what you buy, a ham radio will likely not be set up for immediate use like a walkie talkie/CB radio, and you would need to know how/what frequencies to program into the radio. Just buying a ham radio and then storing it will prove even less useful than picking up that buried AR you've never shot...

    My short answer is to you whatever you feel comfortable using, but make sure you take a little time to get comfortable actually using it. If you plan on using a ham radio, you're likely going to have to learn how it works to some degree anyway. How much time you want to spend doing that is up to you. I personally have 2 handheld ham radios to use between me and my other, and I can still use it to listen/talk with other hams if desired.

  21. #19
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    A Ham Technician class license requires about 2 weeks of intermittent studying and prepares you with a basis of understanding radio operations and safe practices. The old requirement for Morse code went away years ago. Having the License you will be able to access repeaters, join a local club and exchange knowledge with Elmers. Getting on a radio the first time and transmitting in an emergency is technically legal, however is ill prepared, remember it’s not just the radio it’s the antenna that’s important. The Ham community does use FCC volunteer monitors. This means there are many hams that if they find you transmitting off frequency, bandwidth or without call sign will rat you out in a heart beat. The best way to prep is to use the radio - legally, with a variety of antennas and find what works best for your terrain and elevation. The other option discussed CB radio is viable however you will not have repeater access and so will be limited by terrain. The Beofeng radios mentioned UV-5R are very cheap. I purchased mine with charger for $21. Ebay has a large variety of SMA female antennas that will work with these. Look for a 1/2 wave flexible whip. There are various car chargers, battery eliminators and AA battery packs - all very affordable. Buy a hand held mic and a programming cable. My second go to handheld is the Motorola HT 1000.
    They come in VHFor UHF (VHF is mostly used) and with or without a front keypad. I program them so don’t need a keypad. They sound better than the beofeng by far. They can be had used for around $30. Make sure you buy a revision D or you will be limited in bandwidth options.
    Last edited by multical; 12-29-2019 at 12:15 AM.

  22. #20
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    You guys talking about CB and 10 miles, Sure, thats possible, but a lot at play there. You need a Good Antenna and pretty perfect SWR's thats on a stock radio, And 10 miles, thats porbably a base station to base station, Or MAYBE base to mobile. However if you are on single Side Band, or SSB you can legally transmit using all 12 watts the radio may be capable of, this helps you transmit much further, but you need a radio capable of SSB, a tuned radio will do great, and i've even talked to people in alaska, And all over the country on SSB, But that was with skip. You CAN NOT rely on it ever, it's just fun to see who you end up talking too. Of course you can use more power (and ... i may be guilty ... maybe) amps can get expensive but good ones can really help you reach out make contact, But CB really wouldnt be reliable enough at any distance.

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    I know it's an old thread, but since it's been resurrected...

    The original question was how would you contact immediate family? Well... You're not.
    When the phones go out every HAM operator and his brother with real equipment, not the toy Baofeng handhelds, will be jamming up the airwaves.
    You will never get a word in edge wise without an expensive high power setup.

    Besides, if the phones are down, the so probably is the internet. There will be no one to talk to.
    Everyone will be huddled up in a corner shaking uncontrollably because they can't text or access Facebook.

    Two other points:
    1. You might know how to use a HAM radio, either legal or not, but do you really think your nieces, nephews, Aunt Betty or grandma does?
    2. If it's local less than 10 miles, who needs a CB or SSB.
    Get in your car and drive over.

  24. #22
    Captain chuck's Avatar
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    Just use the nation's leading 5g provider with 99.9999% coverage.

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    I am also looking for options.

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    Check out the Garmin InReach mini. It allows for device to device communications through the iridium network. It's not voice, but you can text. I've used it all over the world and it's been reliable.

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    There is GMRS radio service. You can get the license without taking a FCC test. You need to pay a fee and your family can share the license. There are repeaters you can join or free to use. These repeaters cover large area. You can find more information using Google.
    I'm in downtown NYC. I have been a ham since the 80’s. When the towers fell, we used amateur radios for the emergency communication.
    This few weeks, the calling frequency 146.52 is very active because of the shelter in place. I can hear other hams within the 5 boroughs, Yonkers, Northern part and middle part of NJ.

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