Bypassing Internet News Censorship, by M.F.

In late 2019, I completed the ham radio Technician and General tests and to be honest I’ve yet to get started on the Extra Class test. if you are new to ham radio, then check out and sign up, it’s free. You can take your tests on a phone or tablet until your hitting 90s and then go schedule to take the test at a local comm center or ham club. They charge just $15 to test, and they often let you also take the next higher level test free of charge.

I managed to buy and set up a Yaesu FTM-100DR 2m/70cm radio, and a Yaesu FT450D HF radio. I put a SCU-17-USB sound card on the HF radio I and got a Panasonic Toughbook hooked up. so I can hit e-mail RMS gateways out in the Midwest and the Southeast over HF for e-mail using Winlink.  APRS is pretty useful over the 2m band. (More on this later).

I also put an inexpensive 25-watt Chinese transceiver in my truck. But that is mostly used as a scanner for keeping an ear out on local information. That was an idea that I picked up from Sam Culper of Everyone is a sensor.

I’ve managed to get a flag pole modded to secure a diamond $100 antenna for my 2m/70cm radio. It’s got a pretty good SWR of like 1.1. For the HF radio it took a lot of work, and some trial and error, but I managed to get a 550 cord pull up about 35 feet high in the trees, and pulled up a Buckmast OCF dipole antenna.
I can’t transmit on the 160m band but I can get out on the 40 and 80m bands when they are good. I’ve talked to Washington State, Texas, Louisiana, Costa Rica, and Canada. when 10 and 6m are open, it’s interesting and really cool to hear other states and other countries-  I’ve read or heard on the radio that 2019 was the worst year for [long distance propagation] radio since radio was invented with no sunspot activity for all of the year.

A BBS Option?

In my research on ham radio, I wanted to get some kind of BBS system setup.  I found that that it’s not plug and play, nor are people really doing much with it over VHF/HF, making it hard for me to get in to. The solution I keep seeing is buying a modem from this company and it does BBS so you can have e-mail. But I really don’t want to buy anything else. I want to do stuff.  So I guess those BBSs are rare now. My basic idea is having local information using 2m/70cm and having national and international information using HF.
if you plan on copying this idea you will have to figure out what local nets are out there and monitor frequencies like 14.300 daily (as this is where the maritime mobile service network has nets that usually cover national weather broadcasts from the NWS and reports on ocean-related events like storms. I listened to broadcasts when the last hurricane hit the Bahamas)

I shoudl mention that has a ton of info if your getting started in ham radio or just want info on state nets. Also, if you are just starting out and want to talk internationally get a WiresX compatible Yaesu radio (such as a FTM100-DR) and a Technician license. With that, you can chat over your laptop using a handheld — or hook in to a digital repeater with Internet access and talk to people in Germany, Japan or wherever. WiresX stuff is good as long as the power is up, and you have Internet. You can connect in to chat rooms that kind of remind me of old AOL chat rooms days, online.

Bypassing Censorship

My desired end game was to have survival material available for download over HF/VHF using a BBS I wanted to run out of my basement, but  that’s probably not happening. I hope the ARRL comes out with a BBS-over-radio option, like they are pushing FT8 digital communications. (FT8/4 are fun, but to me don’t really equate to being useful for a local nor national emergency.)

Then I started thinking about how YouTube, Twitter, Spotifiy, and Google are all banning the Alex Jones site, and their shows. So what I could do to bypass Internet censorship? I started asking around the ham community: How do people on ships get news? I hit YouTube and did some web searching. I learned that they use and they use FTPMAIL servers. So if you want to try out what they offer…email them or and see what they send you back. They should give you a catalog of pages and instructions on typing ‘get’ or info and whatever page name you want to read.

Hams in the U.S. are limited by restrictions on sending commercial ads, over radio. And I would hope that someone sets up a text-only news web site like By the way, I learned that is banned/blocked on saildocs, along with They only allow, for news.) You can use the and just put a web page for a text-only e-mail back in response to your e-mailing them. The system is based on 1990s technology, but I’ve yet to find any real documation on it so I can set up my own small scale operation.

I’ve contacted ARRL and I’ve found that both saildocs and the National Weather Service use this same tech. Sailors on ships use them both over HF to get weather and basic info about tides, low-speed Internet news without ads and even [limited] video. Everyone else isn’t limited by Internet so anyone can get info from these sites. I’ve contacted infowars via phone, and send them an actual letter, relating: “iI’s not like I have a server setup so I’m saying I’m seeing it done in two sites, and maybe this would be a good idea”. Not that I presently have this ability, and I want to share how-to. I’m just pointing them in the right direction. To me, the cool idea about using FTPMAIL is that you do not need to use any radio for slow Internet connection, just any networked PC. They might block web sites, but they aren’t blocking e-mails, just yet.

Some APRS Options

As far as APRS goes, I was able to get free software downloaded, installed and using my USB connection to the VHF/UHF radio I can get and send APRS packet messages, I can also get tactical real-time info from weather stations across a wide area and see on a map on my laptop, the local radios in use! it’s nice to see that because of having visual on-screen info, I could add them to my radio and use it to make contacts about two and half hours drive since I’ve got a high elevation and their towers are pretty high in the distance off the western mountains from my location. (right on the backside of a ski resort).

What’s good for preppers about APRS is that you can use it to find repeaters, as they will put the info out on them saying here is 147.150 PL121 it’s a Yaesu wires-X digital repeater or it’s a WINLINK RMS GATEWAY for e-mail. They give you info on how far and what direction it is from your location. “Hey Jim what’s up?”: Yeah you can send a text message over it. But to be honest that part of radio I found to be hard to use for sending and getting a text message. if you are hooked to a laptop, then you’re in business. But while it’s in your car… The FTM100-DR has a bluetooth mod. I wonder if it supports a bluetooth keyboard? A Yaesu for $350 it should come fully loaded.

APRS also supports universal text messaging for amateur radio, check out this info: (

It will beacon your position every 5 to 10 minutes, or each time you move depending on how the radio is configured. And it has built-in GPS.

There is more info on APRS, here: (

Another good thing about APRS is there is an Android application: You can get a TNC3 from mobilinkq  and hook up a HT radio to it, and use it for your location. I’m almost on the Pennsylvania/New York line, and because it shares packet info over digipeaters I can see radios on the upstate NY/Canada border, south into West Virginia/ Delaware and most of my state of Pennsylvania.

A hat tip to WB4APR Bob Bruginga for creating a really cool tool. Now if Toyota would make updates so radios could just be added and plugged into the Tacoma and Tundra dash displays, I think it would be sweet setup for anyone traveling with friends cross country. I’m not sure if they would mod their weather, news apps since they don’t work without digital signal and Toyota hasn’t figured out we carry a gateway with us every time we are in a truck with a mobile phones. (You’d think someone would have said, “Oh yeah just point them over their bluetooth connection to this web site.”) We already have maps in the dash display why not use them for APRS, phone has GPS already built-in to it, too. Plug in a HT radio, roof-mounted magnetic antenna and put it on  144.39. Toyota should adopt using phones for Internet gateways, it would be nice having those dash apps for weather and news actually working.

Okay, back to it:
I’m thinking outside the box here wondering why no one has added the FTPMAIL servers to their tools to help spread information. Given the curent socio-political turmoil, I’m thinking that people across the USA are going to need an e-mail-based news solution that bypasses censorship. Something like this could be used by winlink over telnet on any internet connection or winlink via HF over radio for slow speed internet.

One last thing: I’ve read that winlink is also able to be set up as a peer-to-peer direct contact system. It is used heavily by ham radio guys doing EMCOMM work and will likely be the standard at some point for digital communications over HF or internet. Anyhow, the reason I wanted to put this out is because I’m stalled on finding information on how to get info over HF or via internet (if grid up). I might spend some time this week looking for how to setup my system for BBS and ask around because maybe someone is still running one some place. I’m not overly optimistic at the future, with what’s being said online, and what’s being done by bad government (and it’s not just in Virginaia it’s PA, KY, Mi, MO, NM…seems some guy named Soros is buying up state level players like DAs across the US, how about that guy. Pfft.)

What I would love to hear is how people using HF can get text-based info using some kind of news nexus. The bad news is it would probably be CNN.. If it’s not, then it would be epic if someone had set it up to have FTPMAIL so news stories could be passed to users as needed..a free and open system.  Maybe OAN or Epoch times will do something like this. By the way Epoch times is not banned by

So far I’ve asked this question about FTPMAIL to infowars, the ARRL, and a few guys online. I don’t really think this is much of an article for advanced hams, but if you need material it’s all good.

Here is a book that I think is kind of important, even if it doesn’t cover everything hams do. It’s the book for what can people can do once they get technician license: (

I found this while reading up about APRS, and I want one: An ammo can Raspberry PI4 APRS rig! (

Oh, and a closing note: If civil war breaks out over the next few weeks or months, then turn off APRS, or use it in receive-only mode. it might not be a good idea to transmit for a while.


  1. I’m loving this great article on ham radio (especially the thinking outside the box for info), but I have a “beans” question and don’t have anyone I can ask.

    Does anyone ever vacuum air out of your mylar bag while storing/packing food into a 5 gal bucket, seal it up, but so many hours later the mylar bag seems a bit looser than when you first sealed it?

    I know oxygen only makes up a smaller portion of what’s inside (and nitrogen is left), but should I assume that I may have caused a pin leak on this one or is this normal? I used a 2,000 and a 500 oxygen absorber which felt warm to the touch on the outside of the 7mil mylar bag after an hour or two so I assume it was working.

    I’m only on my 5th bucket and am still a bit new to this. So far, it’s only been beans and white rice. I try to be gentle with the mylar. Thanks for any ideas.
    I’ll be back on in the late morning to read any of them.

    PS — I bookmark’d the article. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, I do. I have a Harvest Right size Large stainless steel unit. I use these bags:

      My vacuum sealer is fairly heavy duty:

      I do insert O2 absorbers anyway.

      I have found you can use non-waffled mylar bags if you just cut a two or three-inch strip of vacuum sealer waffle bag and insert it at the sealer area where the bag is held during vacuum; works just fine.


      1. Thanks, Scott… I should have specified that I don’t use a vacuum sealer (though I like the idea), but instead I seal all but a few inches of my mylar bag and then use my vacuum and attachment for just a quick second or two to get some of the air out before swiftly sealing the rest of the top.
        (then let the oxygen absorbers do their thing)

        I’m not really confident on this bag though, considering it has loosened up more than I’d like. I’m thinking of ditching it and using it instead to just hold the sugar I plan on putting in another 5 gal bucket with a gamma lid.

      2. I’ve been a ham for less than ten years, but am reasonably well set up if the shtf. One interesting aspect of the hf bands is just to tune around. While you won’t find organized news stations broadcasting, what you will find is a couple of guys rag-chewing in someplace, USA. You’ll get a very good idea of what is going on in their part of the world. You don’t need to transmit, so you can listen anywhere on the band. I would recommend a general license and practice regularly.

    2. I have had this problem when using dry ice, so I let it sit overnight before doing the final seal. I use a vacuum cleaner with small tube attachment, add absorbers, seal all but a small part on top and fold close the small part off with a flat clamp, let it sit outside over night, the next day, do the final seal after sucking the gas out. I still wait half a day just to see if the bag inflates, but have not had to cut it open to suck the gas out again. 24 hours for final seal. [Pinto and Black beans, white rice, steel cut oats, wheat] I use a flat hair iron to seal. The delayed inflation probably had to do with dry ice and temperature…

      I remember the first time using dry ice, filling in the morning, doing the final seal in the evening, and stacking the buckets with lids on. Only to wake up in the middle of the night, to the sound of something falling over. The bags had inflated, blowing off the lids, and toppling the stacks of buckets…

      I get the dry ice at Publix.

  2. I really want to understand ham radios and get into this hobby, But my brain refuses to cooperate. I have a grundig yb400pe that collects dust on my nightstand. It works great as a fm/am radio but I get nothing when i try to dial into anything else.

    1. YB400 is a great radio. Try taking it outside and trying it. Some houses have a lot of interferance and electrical noise when a shortwave radio is close to it. Atleast try setting it by a window. See if that helps find signals, and try it at night. Daytime Shortwave is harder to receive.

      1. Jim, try making a external antenna for your 400. Most antenna’s that are on these radios work ok, but are limited. You will need an alligator clip, 75 to 100ft of #20 or #22 wire. Hook the wire to the alligator clip which you will clip onto your radio’s antenna, run the wire out a window into trees (or along the roof of your house if you don’t have trees) as high up as you can and string the wire straight out, or in a loop, or L shape and see if that doesn’t improve your radio’s ability to bring in stations. Now when a thunderstorm comes up, just take off the alligator clip and put it in a glass jar as a insulator.

  3. Dear Author, great article. FYI, the drudge report decided to monetize their work products and changed parties to the Democrats. There may or may not be your preferred news site (in other words, it’s not the same Drudge Report from 10 years, its 180 degrees changed).

    Meanwhile, you can use or War Room Pandemic with Jack Maxey as a reasonable news source.

    Good luck and thanks.

    1. You nailed it, Squirrel…

      Drudge has went to the “dark side”. If you want a leftist perspective, he’s your guy now… but if you want the old Drudge, I use as my news aggregate. I’m quite happy with them and there’s a few others who do a fine job too.

  4. I recall back in the day when we would pick up AP broadcast on HF on our ship, either teletype or MC. Back then, I was fast enough to capture the MC broadcast at 30+ wpm. Sadly, those days are long gone.

    All this digital stuff can spin your head pretty quick. The list of acronyms is horrendous, and it changes often. I remember my first foray into the amateur digital world with a CoCo2 doing packet radio stuff. This was a far cry from the Crypto work I did as a sailor, but still cutting edge for what it was at the time. Back then you really had to be a tech to do the hookups and such. Nowadays, it is more like pushbutton than ever before. Sad. Broke my heart when FCC pulled the code requirement for the tests. That was the essence of what amateur radio was all about. It is impossible to find anyone nowadays who wants to talk about tube rigs.

  5. We were surprised when the Wifi Internet installer showed us radio interference from our electric cookstove and refrigerator. It ‘blocked’ the Wifi in our house.

    Later I plugged in LED lights in the shop and my FM radio went static.

    RFI. Killer of transmission and receivers.

    Good article but I would benefit by some fuller descriptions. Keep up your comms work!

  6. I have a few friends who go to the local McDonalds every morning and enjoy a cup of coffee and sit around and talk. They have invited me a few times and I defer with some excuse. Just not that interesting to me to gossip. This is my impression of ham radio. I just don’t see the value. It’s a hobby like “diamond dots art” and if you like that sort of thing it is fine. But I don’t do diamond dots either.

    1. It’s a hobby now, but might be an important lifeline later. I bought some of the baofeng handheld radios talked about on here and once they arrive, will be able to legally listen. If SHTF, will be able to transmit. Couple of guys in our group are licensed and will assist with frequencies and other setup info

      1. For what purpose? If you gather info how do you know it is accurate or true. Talk to who? If you turn it on it can be detected and pin-pointed. If you use it then it will consume some of your time and energy when time and energy is in short supply. The benefit seems elusive. I think that in a list of the pros and cons that it will be difficult to come up with good pros.

        1. “might be an important lifeline later” = is the key reason to have some knowledge about shortwave ‘Ham’ radio.

          The users of shortwave provide a valuable service to people during disasters; especially in Tornado~Hurricane areas. The operators help other people. It’s NOT just chat 24/7. … [They become a big neighborhood watch, and ‘telephone’ system.]

          The ‘Ham’ radio can be powered off of a vehicle electrical system; during a ‘grid down’ situation. … Shortwave Ham radios might be the only communication available to people.

          People at SurvivalBlog typically plan for the worst events. The shortwave radio might be the only source of local and national information.

          +Shortwave radio is another source of News; the Fake News is NOT trustworthy. The shortwave radio can be as useful as a flashlight, when the lights go out.

          1. “might be an important lifeline later”
            Lifeline to what? To who? Too

            “The users of shortwave provide a valuable service to people during disasters”
            This is true. There have been examples where it has helped in a disaster. This will still be true if I don’t have or use a shortwave radio. It has zero effect on me either way.

            “Shortwave Ham radios might be the only communication available to people”
            Communicate to who? If the grid goes down or WW III starts there is no one to call. You going to call 911??? Maybe ghostbusters. That is the “thing” about this; the worse the situation the less good it can be for you while the less serious the situation the less you need “communication”. Seriously, who are you going to need to communicate with?

            “ The shortwave radio might be the only source of local and national information.”
            If the situation is so bad that nothing else is working what can someone 1000 miles away tell me that I haven’t already figured out? In such a situation I need to devote 100% of my time and energy to helping myself and not hanging on a radio.

            “Shortwave radio is another source of News”
            Seriously! Have you ever listened to it. Recipies, cars, grandkids, all from people you never met and don’t know.

  7. Been a ham for 40 some years, there is a lot available. Best way to get going is to find a local group to join, but the old guys and gals (OM & XYL) are becoming silent keys at a rapid rate.

    BBSs were really going in the 80s and 90s and a message could even go coast to coast on VHF AX.25. (before internet).

    HF has less infrastructure requirements and therefore is more robust is case of grid issues. There are many scheduled Nets going everyday, hundreds of not thousands of hams in daily contact. The conversation goes from weather to rigs to keeping track of each others health to reading Bible verses.
    Most Nets are regional but traffic is passed nationwide.
    Just Keep on keeping on and you will find many exciting facets in ham radio.

  8. Great article. I have had a “general” license for a couple of years but due to financial constraints I just now am up and operational via UH/VHF. I have an antenna up 45 feet and am amazed at how far I can reach with it. Most of the learning is like “drinking out of the fire hose” for me. But…I am getting there. Articles like this help lessen learning curve. Thank You!

  9. I was too tired earlier to add that I would love to figure out how to download radar pics from our weather satellites using HAM radio and a computer…

    The idea cropped up in the middle of A. American’s Going Home series of books.

    There’s so much we can do with transceivers than just talk. It’s incredible really.

    1. You should look at getting a Raspberry Pi which is a single board fully functioning Linux based computer and a cheap $20 software defined usb dongle for a software defined radio mine is from RTL-SDR

      1. Thanks, Stephen…
        I’ll have to look into that. Julian (OH8STN) and Josh (Ham Radio Crash Course) on Youtube have a few vids on the subject I’ve already bookmark’d, but haven’t been able to watch and study them yet.

  10. A slightly different topic – One of the staff of a Christian media company – was arrested in Idaho yesterday. (Crosspolitic), together with two other Christians after singing psalms in a car park. Partially in protest at the mask mandate no-one socially distanced, or wore a mask.

    Moscow City Idaho Council members can be emailed here:

    1. The article was linked here a day or so ago. I also ranted about it.
      I ALSO emailed the Chief of Police and implored him to not enforce unConstitutional laws, basically “mandates” by Marxist/Communist City Council and Mayor. I didn’t get a response. But, whatever. Moscow, where U of Idaho is located, is crawling with Marxists – thanks to the University system. Yes, even here in Idaho.

      1. Good for you SaraSue! More people need to be doing this. Last year I wrote a “one-pager” and hand delivered it to City Hall (for the mayor) and to the Law Enforcement Center (for the sheriff). I also called the latter of the two on his cell number, which was supposedly not supposed to be publicly available and gave him the “facts” on his voicemail. He called back less than an hour later. I won’t reveal all the details, but will say it is going to go a lot higher before things hit the fans. They know it too, because I informed them of that fact.

  11. Great article, and I agree with “Old Ham Guy’s” reply. As an Amateur Extra I have couple of items I like to address. Firstly, a XYL is an unlicensed wife of a OM! A YL, such as myself, (Young Lady….is a lady of ANY age that has in her possession a ham license of HER OWN!!) Secondly, APRS or any computer reliant ham interface is great while there is internet. In a “grid down” scenario a “KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach will be your best bet and is the approach that I have taken with ham radio. HF and simplex (2 meter FM and SSB) will be your best and reliable sources. There are many regularly HF nets to participate in. Some are NTS (National Traffic System) and their main focus are to pass traffic from one station to another. These traffic nets are very efficient in their purpose. Other HF nets include “social” or had a particular function….but they welcome ALL duly licensed ham operators to check in, and there is lots of valuable information that can be had by participation in these nets, or at least listening in on a net or a QSO. Some of these nets include the Navy Net, YL System, “Do Da” Net…among numerous others. My suggestion would be to “google”–while the internet is still available) and find nets to suit your needs, and check into to them, or become a member of them! There are so many nice folks to chat with on the air! And if you are licensed, but are “mike shy”, checking into a amateur radio net hones radio skills and lessens that mike fright. Good Luck to all “88” and “73”

  12. interesting article on ham radio. This is another one of my interests that I’ve had since grade school but didn’t follow up ( raised in rual area and the closest ham club was 30 miles away ) on. Since my wife passed and I was / is emotionally home bound, I have started flying lessons, ham radio is next on the list as is scuba diving and maybe horse back riding ( I always wanted to be cowboy ). I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone like everyone is telling me, I’m in my mid 70’s and it has been 3 yrs, and now I’m starting to notice girls again( well, the senior variety I mean ). Gotta go, pup is calling the shots again

  13. my problem is every time I ask for info to try to get started the person I’m asking launches into acronymize and prattles on in slang and acronyms as my eyes glaze over till I once again regret that I asked and wander away with even less knowledge than I started with.

  14. The Hams in my area have done a great job at installing new repeaters and upgrading the old ones, including GMRS, and 6 meter. The coverage in this area is impressive as a result. MURS is in most radios as well. It will tie the community together.

  15. So, I had been thinking about something similar to this about a week ago, so great timing for the article (for me 🙂
    I ran across something called the HINTERNET, which is a combination of internet and ham radio. Evidently there exists IP4 internet address space in the space, which was set aside for experimentation for internet over ham radio. The nice thing about this is that local intranets could exist, even if the internet kill switch is enabled. Amateur operators could set up their own servers (very easy to do), loaded with wordpress or just static web pages, (the less graphics the better because of bandwidth) and provide news, publications for download, etc.

    There is more information here:


    and here:

    I also found this: “The Hinternet is the “ham internet”. In the US, and likely in other countries also, several WiFi channels fall into the 13cm ham band; being in the ham band is advantageous because licensed hams can use higher power than non-licensed ISM (industrial, scientific, medical) band users. So the hinternet generally refers to hams using WiFi gear, often with modified firmware and higher power, to communicate.

    There are restrictions on what hams can communicate, however. Hams aren’t allowed to pass any messages for commercial use, including advertising. Hams aren’t allowed to broadcast entertainment. Hams are allowed to pass messages for other people, but if the other people are in other countries then the other countries must explicitly permit such messages. (Most first-world countries do.) Hams aren’t allowed to encrypt over-the-air messages. Curse words aren’t allowed. Hams must send their call signs periodically when transmitting.

    Because of these restrictions, hams can’t just connect a router on the ham bands running higher power to the regular internet and call it good. Generally ham radio communication has to be from a ham, to another ham, with the content either generated by the transmitting ham, or at least carefully monitored by the transmitting ham if the content is a recording. Sorry if this bursts your bubble. Hams are doing some interesting stuff with this technology though; for instance, hams are reprogramming WRT54G routers to make ad-hoc mesh networks transmitting sound, video, and data. If this sounds interesting to you, you could get started with just a Technician-class license, which isn’t too difficult to earn; we could point you in the right direction.”

    … from this site:

    Would love to see more discussion about this…

  16. Not ham radio, but I’d like to see the old FidoNet make a comeback. Given cell phones with unlimited talk time and long distance charges no longer a limiting factor, as long as the grid is up it could go a long way to filling this need.

    More fun would be figuring out how to transmit the Fido updates over ham radio.

Comments are closed.