Two Letters Re: Covert Communications


Reading H.R.’s correction on the Covert Communication article I must correct him. He cites 146.00MHz as the National Calling Frequency. That is incorrect. The generally agreed upon simplex frequency (there is no law or regulation requiring the use of any frequency as a National Calling Frequency) for calling others known and/or unknown is 146.52MHz. Do a Google search for “amateur radio national simplex frequency” and navigate to any of the top five or ten citations and you will find that 146.52 is listed in each as the 2 meter national simplex frequency. (There are many National Simplex Frequencies on different bands.) The ARRL’s site is among those that list 146.52 as a “National Calling Frequency”. In fact, H.R.’s frequency of 146.00MHz is listed by the ARRL as in the range of frequencies used for the OSCAR satellite. It wouldn’t be good to have a pile-up of callers there, especially during a period of national or worldwide emergency. – Anonymous

HJL Adds: There are a number of standard simplex radio frequencies that are used in Amateur Radio. Some are standard worldwide, some nationwide, and some are simply local standards. For the most compatibility, I would stick with those listed by the ARRL. The Band Plan published by the ARRL is not binding, but it is a generally accepted practice and an excellent place to start.

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That is a great list. Thank you for publishing. I’ve written a few of these on my emergency Yaesu ft 270r radio (that has been unlocked to cover commercial and marine channels). I have found that writing the channels and a brief description on the battery case in sharpie and covering it with clear coat provides a durable way to keep these handy for when needed the most.

The question that I have not found a good answer to: Do any government agencies (outside of the Coast Guard) monitor these frequencies 24/7?

Specifically, I ask because my radio exists solely for emergencies when my cell phone cannot call for help. Specifically, I’m wondering about a medical issue while backpacking or camping. Usually I am within radio range of the great lakes, so marine coast guard channels typically are within range and Rx well.

When further inland, I find that there is very little radio traffic with the exception of the weather broadcasts. A dependable emergency frequency could prove valuable indeed under these circumstances.

Do you or your readers have any knowledge they could share? I typically am in Northern lower Michigan

FYI- I do intend to get my Ham license, and I respect the hobby enough to not illegally use my radio. However, when faced with a significant medical issue in the “back country” (like a heart attack, stroke, or severe trauma) minutes could be significant indeed! -TV

Hugh Replies: It is virtually impossible for any government agency to listen to every possible frequency, even if you just limit it to well known emergency use frequencies. The main problem is that many frequencies are limited by propagation and geography, and the government just doesn’t have the resources to focus on that. (Of course, they definitely seem to have the resources to spy on your everyday life.) Many individuals make it their hobby to monitor the common emergency channels, like CB 19 or Ham 146.52, but even so there are many areas where contact just can’t be raised. I have had reasonable success in placing a copy of the ARRL Repeater Directory in my glove box. Practically every Ham club or Ham repeater has a group of enthusiasts or at least an individual who monitors 24/7 on their favorite repeater. As you travel across the country, there are very few places where you can’t raise a local repeater. In most cases, there may not be general chat in progress, but someone is usually listening. I highly encourage EVERY person to get their Ham ticket.