The K.I.S.S. Principle and Transceivers – Part 4, by Tunnel Rabbit

(Continued from Part 3.)

The Quad Barreled Cannon, The Wouxun KG-UV980P, $310.00
The Wouxun KG-UV980P Quad Band Base/Mobile Two Way Radio is a quad band, with cross band repeat, a 50 watt transceiver, that transmits using FM only in these frequency ranges: 26 to 29 MHz, 50 to 54 MHz, 136 to 174 MHz, and 400 to 480 MHz.  It can generally be described in terms of Amateur Radio as a 10 meter, 6 meter, 2 meter, and 70cm, yet this unit transmits outside of these Amateur bands, and is much more than simply a Ham radio.  For example, it also transmits in FM in the CB range of frequencies, and is subsequently in a gray area where FCC regulations are not enforced, and likely not even monitored. For clarification, while it will transmit on the same frequencies, and other frequencies as does a CB, it cannot talk to CBs, because CB uses Amplitude modulation (AM), and not frequency modulation (FM) that this transceiver uses.  It can, however, receive AM-mode CB traffic. Because of this deficit, it does not function as a CB per se, but it is a very capable radio in other regards.  It just barely fits into the theme of this article, and the big price makes it a tighter squeeze. It is mentioned as with this class of radio for the benefit of Amateur Radio enthusiasts who naturally would see the advantages of this radio, that can work injunction with the Anytone Smart, and Anytone AT6666.
An amateur radio Technician (“Tech”) license could still be in your future.  It allows you to legally key up on the Ham Bands, and does give one access to numerous well-maintained repeaters. However, I would not plan on using repeaters after a collapse, or necessarily even the Ham bands frequencies as these would be carefully monitored by those seeking to develop intelligence in a post-collapse society or possible civil war. When Hams use their call sign, we can look them up on a database and get their full name, physical or mailing address.  And it is possible that one day, that a tyrannical government might use the FCC-granted licenses as a means to target Amateur Radio operators as they are typically a patriotic, and freedom-loving group who would be central to a command and control. During World War 2, all amateur radio activity was prohibited. With that warning said, the 2 Meter Amateur band will likely bring and hold a community together. We should at least have a scanner to monitor all the 2-meter repeaters and other popular Ham frequencies in your area. Fortunately, there are no test licenses for GMRS that give one comparable coverage to that of the 70cm Ham band should there be GMRS repeaters present. Without repeaters, the range of powerful 40-watt GMRS transceiver would be in many regions of the country, be adequate to cover a 20 to 30 mile in diameter area of AO (Area of Operation), your home turf.
GMRS provides most of what most people in this day and age require. To reiterate, the downside of GMRS for preppers is that the inexpensive GMRS handhelds are ubiquitous, and your transmissions will likely be monitored. It is one of the most unsecure means of radio communications. But because it is populated by mostly the average user, it could be an opportunity to hide in plain sight, and to talk to neighbors. Fortunately, the use of a Ham call sign that can be used to locate your address is not used with GMRS.  We should also consider the low barrier to entry — just $35, and the whole family can join in and use the same license. We could then also install our own repeater. In the GMRS section of the article, all the basic components are listed to get one up and running. The GMRS transceivers come already programmed. The radios are relatively simple to operate. These are sort of like a modern CB, but with greater range. We should choose a radio service that can be used by the least skilled member. GMRS, Citizen Band transceiver, and the MURS handhelds fit into this category.
GMRS uses Ultra High Frequencies (UHF), that do not travel as well along the ground and through forests as well as the lower frequencies of MURS (151 to 154 Mhz), that is VHF, or the CB frequencies (27 Mhz). If we use UHF, we should work harder to get all the power we can from the radio to the antenna to best propagate a signal. Although the focus is on GMRS, the principles discussed apply to all radio communications, or transceivers and handhelds.  If one must cut corners to save money by using inferior and less expensive cables and antennas to get the job done in your AO, then there is no need for the added expense, and effort.  In the majority of cases, we need to work harder to get the most range out of UHF.
Looking at a few numbers we’ll discover why we should choose the more expensive components,  and install antenna as high as we can. We can use a 15-foot to 20 -oot metal or wooden pole in the ground as that will do just fine most of the time. We’ll do the best we can without going ‘whole hog’ like a Ham would.  However, if you are surrounded by hills, or a hill or building is between you and the local repeater, we’ll need to either need an antenna that is mounted higher, or we’ll need to move the antenna.  In some cases, the expense of a tower could be justified. But before spending that kind of money, perform a survey of the intended coverage area.

Most or all of the components for your base station antenna can be used for a different radio service.  All principles that make a good antenna apply no matter the frequency. A base station transceiver should have a rugged high-gain antenna that is mounted at least 15 to 50 feet in height, and above a roofline.  The heaviest cable that can be installed should be used as UHF frequencies easily escapes from coaxial cable, and the power the radio makes is lost before it gets to the antenna. This is not as much a problem with lower frequencies such as those in the VHF spectrum that are in the 136 to 174 MHz range, and lower. For UHF, avoid using light cables such as RG58 and RG8X that are better suited to Low VHF such as CBs (27Mhz).  Instead, choose RG213, RG8, RG11, LMR 240, or best yet, LMR400, LMR600, and SI600 if at all possible —  especially when cable lengths are over 20 feet. Long runs for CBs should use RG213.  Long runs for High VHF, such as MURS should use RG213 to LMR400, and long runs for GMRS or other UHF radios should use LMR400 or better yet, LMR600 or SI600.  We’ll learn why shortly.
Using a coaxial cable loss calculator (, here are a few figures to demonstrate why. The sample lengths of the cable used are 20 and 50 feet.  The power sent through the cable is 40 watts. This is the maximum output of the MXT400.  20 feet is the shortest conceivable and practical length for a base station antenna, and 50 feet is adequate for most good installations.  When it comes to antennas, one should not underappreciate the fact that, when it comes to antennas, “height is might”.  The minimum height should be 15 feet, and the ideal height would 50 feet. Heights over 50 feet are usually at the point of diminishing returns in terms of increases in range. Figure that 10 feet of cable will be used to get the cable outside.  It is best to use cordage, or a stiff rope, or coaxial cable used for cable TV to estimate the amount of coaxial cable that is needed for this installation.  Because the heaviest cables are not very flexible, allow for some additional length, as these cables do not bend well around tight corners. Using the heaviest LMR cable is almost comparable to running 1/2 inch Pex line use for home plumbing. Of course, we could use what we have on hand, or what we can afford, but consider the chart and link below before we buy.
Here is the link to a selection of coaxial cable for price comparison:
Amazon offers precut cable with connector ends, but Amazon is pricey and we may need more or less cable, and we should avoid adding line by using a barrel connector as that is potential future failure point.  Wrap that kind of connection with vulcanizing weatherproof 3M electrical tape, the expensive stuff sold at hardware stores. It is better to have a bit more cable than needed, than just not quite enough.
(The following cable loss calculated based upon an input frequency 465.000 MHz)
ERP Chart #1:  20 Foot Cables
Estimated Radiated Power (ERP) of two different antennas when fed by 20 feet of various types of cable, when using a UHF transceiver (radio) that transmits 40 watts through the cable to two different types of antennas.
Cable   Power delivered  ERP of an          ERP of 1/4 wave
Type    with 20 feet         antenna with       wave antenna with
            of cable               5.5dBi of gain.     no gain.
RG58      25.0 watts          54 watts               25.0 watts
RG8x      26.5 watts          56 watts               26.5 watts
RG213    31.0 watts          67 watts               31.0 watts
RG11      34.0 watts          73 watts               34.0 watts
LMR240  31.0 watts         67 watts                31.0 watts
BR-400   35.0 watts          75 watts               35.0 watts
SI600      36.7 watts          79 watts               36.7 watts
ERP Chart #2:  50 Foot Cables
Estimated Radiated Power (ERP) of two different antennas when fed by 50 feet of various types of cable, when using a UHF transceiver (radio) that transmits 40 watts through the cable to two different types of antennas.
Cable   Power delivered  ERP of an          ERP of 1/4 wave
Type    with 50 feet         antenna with       wave antenna with
            of cable               5.5dBi of gain.    no gain.
RG58       13.5 watts       29 watts            13.5 watts
RG8x       14.6 watts       31 watts            14.6 watts
RG213     22.9 watts       49 watts            22.9 watts
RG11       27.1 watts       58 watts            27.1 watts
LMR240   20.9 watts       45 watts            20.9 watts
BR-400    28.6 watts       62 watts            28.6 watts
SI600       32.2 watts       70 watts            32.2 watts
In this example: A recommendation to use 50 feet of LMR600, or a modern equivalent that is SI600, and a Slim Jim antenna that is estimated to have a gain of 5.5dBi.  LMR400 is close in performance, costs less, and is easier to work with, and therefore is likely the most practical choice for 50 foot runs, but we should be aware of SI600 as that could be the better choice if a 150 foot run to a tower is necessary. Use this coaxial cable loss calculator to determine the most appropriate cable type:
Coaxial Cable Selection
Looking at the chart, LMR600, and its equivalent, SI600, at typical home installation lengths of 50 feet, delivers twice the power as does RG8 does at 50 feet. And because the antenna is mounted much higher than if 20 feet of RG8 were used, the range the radio can talk will be disproportionately further than if it were compared on the basis of ERP only. Why? In the radio world, antenna ”height is might” as obstacles in the ‘radio line of sight’ can block even high power transmitters. This fact makes longer cable lengths and loss acceptable to attain greater height an acceptable trade-off.
The higher the antenna the less the loss in the cable matters. Because of the shorter wavelengths that typically do not travel as far as VHF frequencies, we should do all we can to compensate by using additional antenna height, heavy low loss cable, and high gain antennas that are available for UHF. These three factors should be used to offset as much of the difference in performance as possible between UHF and VHF, especially when used in rural environments.
Use antennas that claim to have a gain of 2.5 dBi, or higher, to increase the radiated strength of the power supplied to the antenna. But the most important factor that produces the longest ranges is antenna height. Again, to reiterate, use a long run of cable, if additional height can be achieved, and do not be concerned with cable loss especially if the additional length allows the installation height to be above nearby obstacles. And if we can minimize the loss of signal by using a heavier cable, we can increase the range, and just as important, improve the coverage within an AO. If you’ve noticed ‘dead’ spots in wifi or cell phone coverage, a higher radiated power out reduces these areas with no coverage in an area that is otherwise within range.
Buy the lowest loss cable as we can afford to attain the greatest antenna height we can construct. And we would use a high-gain antenna to magnify the signal supplied by that cable.
How antenna height, the gain of antenna, and the power delivered to it affects antenna performance, or propagation.
I could argue that if only RG8 were used to mount the Slim Jim with 5.Dbi gain, at 50 feet, that delivers 13.5 watts, a 5.5dBi antenna would compensate, that is, the use of a high gain antenna would offset the loss from the cable, because the high gain antenna magnifies the signal resulting in an ERP of 29 watts ERP, rather than only 13.5 watts ERP, if only the typical 1/4 wave antenna were used.  The result in performance could hypothetically, and in my experience, have better range than if only 20 feet of the heaviest cable, SI600 that nets an ERP of 79 watts, were used.  Again, height is might, but a high gain antenna is important if we can use on. For every doubling of the power out, or 3Dbd,or 5.5Dbi of power, there is only one ‘S’ unit out of 5, that is realized. 2 watts is twice as powerful as 1 watt, but does it does not travel twice as far, but only a fraction further.  Increases in power out is not proportional to an increase in range. Increase in antenna height has strong correlation to increases in range. Power out does not. Power out correlates more strongly with the signal’s ability to penetrate, or travel around (deflect) or bounce off of obstructions in the ‘radio line of sight’.
Where the antenna is erected relative to nearby objects is critical and a higher antenna means fewer obstacles in the ‘radio line of sight’.  We should place the antenna above all objects at the roof’s peak. Specifically, at least one 1/2 wavelength above, that is approximately 2 feet for UHF antennas, and 2 feet away from any metal object that is perpendicular or adjacent to the antenna.  It should be at the highest point above the roofline, or much higher. This distance away from metal objects is needed to avoid ‘coupling’ that distorts and alters the antenna, and reflecting the signal when we wish to have an omni-directions antenna and low SWRs. Install a vertically polarized antenna as far away from vertically oriented metal as possible.
Hopefully, this discussion helped us better appreciate that ‘height is might’, and the importance using the appropriate coaxial cable.  CB’s that we grew up with can use light cable, but GMRS is a different animal.  GMRS can greatly exceed the range that CBs provide, if we install a good antenna system.  We may need as much range as we can get to be able to access a distant repeater, or have enough power to cover an AO that might be 20 miles in diameter, comprised of hilly countryside, or covered in dense pine forests. The antenna and cable used is often as important, or even more important than the radio used. Spending the money on the antenna, and using a lower cost and less powerful radio can be a good combination, if money is tight.
The performance of a low power transmitter on a ‘good’ antenna as defined, can surprise us. Also, the other, and perhaps more important part is listening, or the ability to hear weak or distant signal from other low power stations such as hand held’s, or other GMRS stations with antennas that are less than optimal for GMRS.  If we can hear a weak signal, we can talk to that station.  If we cannot hear it, we cannot talk to it. The radio transmits better with high-gain antenna, and also hears better with high gain antennas. The use of less expensive and more secure low-power transceiver is optimized by the use of the best antenna we can construct. A radio circuit can be more secure if we can hear weak signals that an intercept station cannot. There is more than one reason to use a high gain antenna.
If necessary, it could be the best money spent, because as they used to say in the Army…. “Without Commo, you got nothin'”.
Here is a low cost tower:
Rohn 25G 30′ Tower No Base (Cement not included, but needed.)
(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 5.)


  1. Tunnel,

    I’m going slightly off-topic (even though interest in Ham Radio and COMM options brought me here)…

    Could you speculate a bit on the Libby & Hungry Horse hydro dams in NW MT?
    I believe I saw you opining on them a few days back.
    Specifically, what size area do they provide power?
    The likelihood of them providing power in a grid-down-scenario (sans EMP)?
    What’s your educated guess if it is an EMP?
    Could they reasonably be relied upon if ‘it hits the fan’?

    It gives folks something to think about if they’re looking at the region for a possible move (and the idea of power being available through hydro is a plus).
    Just curious what your thoughts were on it since you’re in the ballpark.

    Thanks for this radio series, btw.
    (and everyone have a great Saturday!)

    1. Dams and their generation facilities are quite robust. It is unlikely that an EMP will “take them out”. Blow a few fuses, yes, destroy the generation and transmission infrastructure, NO! Most power generation is connected to large grids. At any time the power from these facilities could be powering your home or powering a home in L.A. What this means is that if any generation facility is somehow damaged other generation can pick up the load. There are kinetic threats that can destroy power generation facilities and there is little to nothing you can do about it. It’s a risk that cannot be fully mitigated.

      The problem in Texas was partly the transition to green energy and partly the massive population growth without a corresponding massive improvement in the energy infrastructure. BUT the results in Texas are 100% the responsibility of the individuals. Everyone should have an alternative way to heat their house or a room in their house. They should have an alternative to cook and they should have food and water to survive for more than a few days.

      1. Somewhere on the net I saw where a Texas father had set up a tent on top of a bed and his two young children played and slept inside the tent during the big freeze. The tent, the mattress under it and the sleeping bags inside made it a reasonably comfortable environment.

        1. That is the equivalent of the Box Beds (“Lit Clos“) that I emphasized in my most recent nonfiction bookbook. Sometimes ancient technology is the most appropriate technology.

    1. MNGal—I’ve only been a ham for about 10 years, but in that time I’ve gone through many iterations of antennas, some working, some not. Most did not survive the bad weather here in CO. One thing I learned was to not attach an antenna to any building. I will always go with a mast (or hopefully someday soon) a tower.

      I have suffered roof damage, loud noise inside the building, but thankfully never a lightning hit. That could have been catastrophic with or without a lightning arrestor.

      My current HF antenna is just a long wire connected to an antenna tuner. With that I am able to talk (voice and digital) to most areas of the US. For me this is adequate as I have little interest at this time in talking internationally. I along with a few friends are also in the process of building it a VHF repeater on a nearby mountain (or rather hill) that should provide good VHF coverage for our community. Currently our remote area does not have access to any other repeaters due to being so remote.

    2. Let me clarify. Yes.

      I was thinking the metal roof would be good as a ground plane for low frequencies.
      It is too large for VHF and UHF antennas. These are probably the antennas you would use and should mount this type of antenna at least 1/2 wave length above the metal roof. For GMRS and 70cm, 14 inches or higher, and for VHF, 144 Mhz and higher, 41 inches. If the roof is 37 feet across or long, you could try to use the barn roof as a ground plane for CB. However, do test any antenna for a low SWR after installation. If using a low cost meter, because of a possible lack of precision in these meters, it is best to use an antenna with a SWR of 1.5 to 1 or lower. If the SWR of the CB antenna is test using the barn roof as a ground plane is high, well above 2.0 to 1, then I would mount it on a tall pole or elsewhere, and install my own ground plane, or use the ground plane that comes with a good base station CB antenna. The length of the ground plane in any direction from the base of the antenna is usually around 5% longer than the height of the common 1/4 wave antenna.

      To determine the length of a 1/2 wave, divide 486 by the frequency and then multiply the product by 12 to convert to inches.

      To determine the length of a wire that would act as a ground plane, divide 234 by the frequency, and then add 5% to the product.

  2. NW Montana and Northern Idaho have an excess of hydroelectric power. Flathead county gets it directly from the Hungry Horse Dam,

    Lincoln, Mineral, and Sanders county gets part, but not all of theirs from the Bonneville Dam. Lincoln county has the Libby Dam, and there is private run plant in Noxon in Sanders county. The Libby Dam sends it’s power to the Left Coast. There are are also small private micro hydroelectric generators through out this part of the country, and the potential for more. We are apart of an interconnected grid that shares and manages power controlled by contract and computers, yet according to a senior Lincoln Electric engineer I had dinner with assured me that should the grid outside of this region go down, there is a plan to ”island” the power here, and all it takes is a flip of a switch.

    If you could not have dinner with an engineer, because we know that Flathead County receives power from the Hungry Horse Dam, I would choose the area around the towns in Flathead County that receive power directly from Hungry Horse. Examples are Kalispell, and Columbia Falls. We can also look at where the power from all of the hydroelectric generators in Montana, or elsewhere, is actually delivered. Some of it is likely put into the grid, but the primary service area may be local, or not. Power could be diverted to any part of the grid that needs it, or is willing to pay more. For example, the Libby Dam was funded from outside, and was built to service the NW part of the grid. Lincoln Electric, and other power cooperatives that manages the power regionally, live and working work locally. It would be in their best interests to ‘island’ the power should the larger grid go down. If the larger grid goes down, it is because it became unsustainable in some way, and sending power into a grid that no longer functions is actually not possible. Say if terrorists, of an EMP destroys a key transfer station 500 miles away from a dam, the power can not be fed into a larger part of the grid. What happened in Texas is another example that could have been much worse, because of the nature of coal fired plants. The grids are delicate for many reasons.
    “Hydroelectric power plants in Montana”

    The near and far effects of an man made EMP on the grid are hard to calculate. An EMP from a solar flare, such as the 1861 Carrington Event, could be much stronger and more devastating than a man made EMP that would be relatively weak in comparison. However, a man made EMP could easily destroy the computers which manages the grid, making it impossible to manage the instant and efficient, interconnected and regulation of power. Then, perhaps, all bets could be off. However, if the EMP is several hundred miles away, the pulse could be too weak to have a catastrophic effect.

    IMVHAUO (In My Very Humble And Unqualified Opinion), the odds are best that the lights will stay on in NW Montana, or in other words, the highest, here relative to anywhere else. And if so, we could have a booming war time kind of economy as a result, that is of course, if we can keep raiding hordes of entitled Commies, and other rouge elements at bay. No other part of the American Redoubt has the winning combination of desirable factors for a long term survival situation as does NW Montana. Please don’t let this secret out. Send them all to Idaho, so that they can serve as NW Montana’s outer layer of defense from the Left Coast.

  3. People, maybe could think about saving the specified information about the cables connecting the antennae to the radios. [Listed in the Article]

    The inexpensive handheld GMRS radios can all be set for the same frequencies. I was in a multi-car trip one time. A couple, brought along a number of the GMRS radios along, so each car could be on the same frequency.

    From this article, as it’s an easy place to start, and can be easy and inexpensive:

    “Fortunately, there are no test licenses for GMRS that give one comparable coverage to that of the 70cm Ham band should there be GMRS repeaters present.
    …….. Without repeaters, the range of powerful 40-watt GMRS transceiver would be in many regions of the country, be adequate to cover a 20 to 30 mile in diameter area of AO (Area of Operation), your home turf.
    …….. GMRS provides most of what most people in this day and age require. To reiterate, the downside of GMRS for preppers is that the inexpensive GMRS handhelds are ubiquitous, and your transmissions will likely be monitored.”
    The small GMRS radios are inexpensive. To buy just one ‘base’ more powerful transceiver would be substantially more expensive. A ‘base’ unit would be very useful, and in some cases essential. Something for a family group or a neighborhood group to consider.

    Anyone, worried could ‘monitoring’ or other people just listening in on conversations, could use a simple easy to devise ‘beep’ code.

    1. In a WROL situation, regardless of the radio service, the use of a brevity code of any kind would be necessary, as traffic monitored over time helps the listener develop a picture of who you are, and what you may have. They can determine a ‘pattern of life’ based upon your habits, even if a brevity code is used. In short, they can develop intelligence.

      A base station radio is well worth the expense and effort as hand helds in a heavily forested area may only have a 1/2 mile range at best. We need an antenna that is mounted up high to hear the relatively weak signal from a hand held. Without a base station antenna to better hear handhelds, the practical range of handhelds might not be useful. And we may need to talk to neighbors who only have inexpensive FRS/GMRS handhelds that are only 1/2 on GMRS, or only 1/4 of watt or less when using FRS frequencies. Some Midland hand helds produce as much as 1.5 watts, but those are not common. These inexpensive FRS/GMRS that are common also have short antennas that further reduce their ability to hear or receive (RX). With a transceiver on a base station, be it only a Boafeng, or Wouxan with a detachable antenna, our ability to talk to neighbors greatly increases. If we have a high power GMRS base station transceiver, we can increase the power so that their tiny hand held antennas can hear us. We would then be limited by our ability to hear our neighbors very low power FRS/GMRS radio. We may not need the highest gain antenna mounted as high as we can make it to talk to our group, but we may need the best antenna we can have to talk to our neighborhood. The better we can hear, the less powerful our radios need to be.

      I would have GMRS mobile to talk to my group that occasionally ventures to the outskirts of the AO, and to talk to neighbors. But I would use MURS hand held’s for daily traffic within the group/family. I believe this is the best use of funds, and the most secure via obscure, for the money, and is attainable by most. If I could afford it, I would use SSB CB for more distant car to car, or car to base station comms. SSB CB give me the added ability to talk to neighbors who do not have FRS/GMRS radios, but who have a CB instead.

      Not discussed are the advantages of the lowest cost and shortest range of FRS radios that can be purchased. These very low quality radios have such short ranges that few persons could intercept the conversation. If I had no other radio service at my disposal, I would use FRS radios for my security team, or for more routine commo within my perimeter. Fortunately I have older Midlands, 1/4 watt FRS with scramblers. But I will use home made field phone where I can. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my defenses are distant enough outside the perimeter to require longer range MURS radios, and even mobiles.

      I see that I could easily do several more articles, but spring is about to spring, and I gotta make a living.

      1. I use several Wouxan KG-UVD1P HT’s. As a Ham/General and a Ist Responder, I like that these radios are; as Edgar from the Radio Ranch would say, “Frequency Agile”. They are programmed via cable for: 2m, 70cm, FRS, GMRS, MURS and public safety.
        This seems to be one reason that the Fed. wants to limit the use of these Chinese imports.
        The removeable antenna allows connection via SMA to more efficient and directional antennas.

        I did not know that the Wouxun KG-UV980P transmits in essentially 11m FM. One reason I am interested in 2m SSB. While not “secure”, obscure modes, minimum power, and directional antennas achieve a Lower Probability of Intercept.

        1. SP9: “I use several Wouxan KG-UVD1P HT’s. As a Ham/General and a Ist Responder, I like that these radios are; as Edgar from the Radio Ranch would say, “Frequency Agile”. They are programmed via cable for: 2m, 70cm, FRS, GMRS, MURS and public safety.
          This seems to be one reason that the Fed. wants to limit the use of these Chinese imports.

          TR: The timing of their new found interest that suddenly occurs after election, and now infamous Trump rally, after a decade of silence and inaction while Chicom radio proliferated the market is something to note, not ignore. Along with warnings and threats from the FCC to all users of radios that any suspected of using a radio for the purposes of insurrection, or otherwise suspicious or treasonous activities, would be subject to FCC action. This threat was issue directly after the Trump rally and was, IHMO, clearly marching orders from the Deep State and Commi=rats.

          SP9: “The removable antenna allows connection via SMA to more efficient and directional antennas.”

          TR: It is powerful little package where a Raspberry can be used to used with the Wouxan to be encrypted, encoded, digital packet radio.

          SP9: “I did not know that the Wouxun KG-UV980P transmits in essentially 11m FM.”

          TR: An economical radio that also has ‘ freeband’ , and CB in FM mode, is the Anytone Smart. Those are so small that they could be used as easily as a hand held, or ultra light man pack radio if a 12vdc battery pack is purchased at an automotive part store… After modification the Anytone Smart is opened up with 10 minutes of work, and can have 8 watts on high. The Wouxam UV980 would make a good base station radio for a local circuit, and be used as a relay for the Ham bands. Also of interest is it also has 6 meter the newer PRC radios, a military radio, also has. 6 meters would propagate better than 2 meter in mountainous regions, and that is why the military uses it…. We do not want to be reliant upon repeaters.

          SP9: ” One reason I am interested in 2m SSB. While not “secure”, obscure modes, minimum power, and directional antennas achieve a Lower Probability of Intercept.”

          TR: Absolutely. All mode 2 Meter radios are scarce these days as well. USB Dongles can turn in, but those will not be in wide use, and the signal will appear to be a standard FM 2 Meter signal to the Dongle, and by the time the operate can even think about that possibility, the signal is gone. It is great way to hide in plain sight, and is more obscure that DMR these days. Use a horizontal antenna in the commo circuit to attenuate the signal by up to 20dB, and to add yet another layer of ‘camouflage’, or obscurity to avoid detection and DF. BTW, Santa also brought me a KLM 2700 all mode. Thank you Santa!

          Use low power on threw a yagi with at least 5 elements or more. Make sure the F/B ratio is high, or better yet, have a null on the back side, or use with a hill behind the yagi, and use other terrain features to attenuate as well. Instead of using the direct bearing, we could also point the yagi a bit off target, and hopefully send most of the signal into a mountain.. … All techniques combined, and the ‘splash’ would not be very useful to SIGINT.

  4. Great set of articles. I do have a question. My son lives in WA state and I live in Tennessee. Is there any ham setup that would allow us to communicate (yes?no) and if so how. I have been doing research on the web but it’s all talk going round and round and never getting to the point. Thanks to any who reply Any web sites would also be nice.

    1. I am most definitely not qualified to say for sure, but I would think the correct HF setup could do what you want, as HF can reach nationwide and even internationally.

      1. Wells, HF communications would also require you and your son to have at least a General class Ham license. They are not difficult to get, but you would have to study and pass your Technician license then take and pass your General. Both license class’ are 35 question exam and get 26 correct and you pass. And you can take both exams at the same testing session.

    2. Yes. In a grid down situation, you would need HF. If there is IRLP node near both stations, then you can use 2 Meter, or a hand held to access the repeater that is has a IRLP node. One node can be connected to another node in a distant part of the country via the Internet. Essentially is it like making a phone patch at your local IRLP node using the Internet, and broadcasting on a selected and distant repeater. Your son could be in his car not expecting your call, but monitoring his local IRLP node and repeater, and hear your call from another state. When you are connect to your node, no one else can interrupt, but on your son’s node, you could hear and talk to any one who is monitoring that repeater/node.

  5. Your continued use of the word “secure” in the context of your article is, misleading at best. While I have no intent to upset anyone, I must advise all that nothing you mentioned provides COMSEC. Using off the beaten path freqs does not provide security. Sure, it sounds good but, anyone with a $30 sdr dongle will see darn near everything well into the microwave bands. Not to mention nation state actors. In part 3 “Sigle-sideband (SSB) mode CB offers twice the range and four times the COMSEC as a standard CB.” I find this statement to be incorrect. Again in an attempt to not sound like an attack, I ask that you please explain how a ssb cb is 4x more secure. That aforementioned dongle will see both, I fail to see how it would be 4 times harder to listen in on that. Seeing as both signals will be sent in the clear (no encryption) and the modulation is standard . Also I ask for you to explain “The built-in layers of COMSEC that SSB CB provides…” that statement suggest more than just off the beaten path freqs. Which as I mentioned is not secure transmissions. What specifically are the other layers provided? I can only speculate but I believe you are implying that slices of the spectrum where there is little to no traffic is secure. Please advise

    1. You are correct. Obscurity is not security, but for the sake of simplicity, and with the task of introducing layman to the realm of radio communications without the need for a prerequisite instruction, or other introduction, terms like ”secure”, or COMSEC are used loosely. These terms are important concepts to use as they also develop the mindset, and pave the way for further and more accurate uses of these words. It is difficult for those with out a technical back ground to understand those of us who are naturally technically inclined if we do not at least attempt to use terms in a way that a layman might understand, even if it upsets the sensibilities of those who are not layman. I have also found that Hams do not truly understand what is secure radio. Someone with a military back ground does of course know the difference, and I am happy for your critic’.

      I personally will use directional antennas, and One Time Pads for secure transmissions. Except possibly with the exception of possibly two forms of encryption, in general encryption is not secure, and certainly not any digital mode , or any other transmission is truly secure without the use of an OTP and other techniques. Where appropriate, I will also use NVIS propagation to avoid detection and direction finding. So what is ‘secure’ is widely misunderstood, and refers to a sliding scale of what is actually is only increasing obscurity, and thus promotes a false sense of security. Glad you chimed in. We can together use the opportunity to make the point.

      It is tough to talk to a mixed audience. It’s been a learning experience. Hopefully I did not loose too many who need this kind of information the most. Radio communications is currently the weakest part of our defenses in the rural patriot community. Please feel free to add your voice. We need all the help we can get.

    2. “anyone with a $30 sdr dongle will see darn near everything”
      This is why brevity codes with primary and alternative frequencies are transmitted in VERY short broadcasts. By the time an unknown actor ‘sees’ the transmission and dials it up, you and your crew have already moved on to another alt frequency.

      And any transmissions possibly picked up will only have the tail end of that segment’s brevity code heard.

      1. Awesome Sauce is awesome. You nailed it.

        All war depends upon deception, or misdirection, and there is an endless combination of basic techniques, and factors that can employed in an endless variations in the electronic battle field that few understand. Sun Tzu should be applied to ‘raydio’ too. But they will learn, so we must constantly evolve.

        Obscurity might compared to camouflage, or a method to reduce the odds of detection, yet it could be better to hide in plain sight. Some one using DMR attracts interest and gives the users a false sense of security. I do not need to break your encryption to develop intelligence on you, or DF you. The fact that you have that level equipment suggests a level of sophistication. It might be better to use a CB.
        If I want to avoid being detected or monitored by a unsophisticated audience, then I can use obscurity as a way of reducing the size of an unsophisticated audience. Yet always assume some one is listening, because they are.

        A tyrannical government could remotely use USFS repeater towers for surveillance just like a 2 Meter IRLP nodes, they could connect via the internet or via satellite. So can I. With a good antenna well above the average terrain, I can pickup 1/4 watt transmissions from a surprisingly very long distances. If I cannot hear you, I can still ‘see’ you, and by your signal or lack of it, time of day, determine something about you. So beware. If I am hungry, or forced at gun point to work for bad guys, this ability could be used against us, and I am only a poor country rabbit. For fun and practice, I’ve busted my Hams buddies who illegally transmitted.

        The kind of COMSEC that the masses can employ is only obscurity, but it is better than nothing, and can be helpful given the lack of sophistication of our mostly likely threat that would be from roving gangs. Obscurity, as a method, against sophisticated actors is actually helpful to us who know the game and have only USB Dongle. But it also takes a dedicated operator to monitor 24/7 for this method to be effective, and I will not have time for that. And I can only monitor a segment of bandwidth at any one time, and the most productive to watch would be VHF. It would take a team of SIGINT guys and equipment to cover it all. Sweeping the bands with many scanners, and using a VOX operated recorder will probably be my best bet, unless I have the excess electrical power, personal and equipment to cover all the bands, or any band.

        If a nation-State is the threat, do not use a radio unless you must and know how to avoid being DF’ed. NVIS propagation is the best answer for most Hams. Please learn about this so we do not lose you.

        1. When you talk security , you have to define the threat and his capabilities. I assume most people are thinking of a hostile robber band post -TEOTWAWKI with maybe primitive DF and commercial receivers/scanners.

          Against really competent people there is little security but I don’t imagine most people would ever have to worry about that. We are not a drug cartel leader like Pablo Escobar or Al Qaeda — hence not targets of the Intelligence Support Activity.

          Note, however, that each transmitter has a unique fingerprint to the COMINT/SIGINT guys.

          (note pages 3,4, and 9)

          Note also that terrain masking doesn’t work if the hostile surveillance is above you in an airplane.

          1. Absolutely correct on all points.

            We could also be concerned with FCC satellites that can detect the faintest signal. Yet with possibility that aircraft could be over head is unlikely as it the demand for such expensive equipment would be used elsewhere, or at a front. There more RF out there, the better as it give them too much to analyze. It is a numbers game too. Using low power, and relatively unsophisticated gear, innocuous encoded messages, such as ”John has a long mustache”, can also help us hide in plain sight. The combination of certain techniques can make it in practice, nearly impossible for even nation-State capabilities. And that is not a threat as much as roving gangs.

            To mitigate a threat from the most likely threat, gangs or neighbors, using simple techniques such as brevity codes, and unusual modes for a given radio service, low power, and off the beaten path frequencies, and in some cases, directional antennas, to make our transmissions obscure, would be good enough. However, eventually the threat situation would escalate, and at that point these techniques would not be adequate. Spies will be everywhere, and some one will be listening, so we should not use a radio like a cell phone.

          2. I like the One Time Pad you mentioned — only unbreakable method I know of if done properly.

            However, for low level tactical comms on a network (e.g, a group of Observation Posts calling in every 3 hours to report no events — or to report sighting of a possible threat ) people might take a look at the military’s less secure DRYAD system, with the cipher page changed 1 to 4 times a day depending on traffic. I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned the system before — it’s described here:


            Note that in authentication, a captured OP could signal being under duress by providing the letter ABOVE the challenge letter instead of the one below when challenged by HQ.

            The Brits had a similar , more flexible system that they used with a relatively unchanging brevity codebook:


          3. BTW, a radio that is one of the easiest to identify and track is a Boafeng by it’s spurious, or out of band harmonics that produce an obvious finger print. Some are worse than others. We could use a different Boafeng, or the same Boafeng on a different band, or a different radio on the same frequency, or a real radio in a different part of the spectrum that would create a different finger print creating the illusion of many different users. If we are smart, they will not be able to get even a rough bearing on us. And if the signal they intercept is so weak, whatever fingerprint produce could too weak to produce the ‘finger print’ that could positively identify it.

            If we know our enemy, how he develops his intelligence, we can use that against him. We can also feed them disinformation. But why go too all that trouble for roving gangs… However if we become ‘enemies of the state’, because they declare war on patriots, then we got a problem. When in a war, we should also be able to recognize that we are in one. Fourth generation warfare, when the enemy is not seen, and employs indirect means because it is covert, means damage can be done without the target realizing that they are under attack by an enemy. IMHO, it is good keep in mind this possibility.

          4. I had not heard of DRYAD. Thanks for these gold nuggets. As citizen’s, no one pays for our education, and it is likely incomplete. Yet we also know that most government work is only close enough, as in ‘close enough for government work’. I’m work’n on more education by listening tonight to Jeffery Prather. I can’t afford more gear, but I still got lots of room left in the head, and this is free!

          5. I concur with your comment — our educational system is designed to create slaves and tries to keep most citizens ignorant of important matters.

            DRYAD is far less secure than OTP — just good enough for standard low level tactical comms but with less need for random key material. My understanding is that defense attaches, Special Forces, etc stick with OTP. NSA reportedly constructed the DIANA method for OTP:

            (See page 22 )

            However, I think the numeric OTP method is better for some uses. I have found Morse code very hard to learn beyond a few letters. With regular Morse code, you need to learn roughly 40 codes many of which sound the same. With numeric OTP, you only need to learn 10 codes/sounds. DIT, DAH, DAH DIT, DIT DAH, DIT DIT DIT and DAH DAH DAH (E,T,A, N,S, O ) give you 6 of the 10.

            However, A Russian report says CIA used the following Morse for communicating with their Soviet spy Penkovsky over shortwave in the 1960s:

            DIT DAH = 1
            DIT DIT DAH = 2
            DIT DIT DIT DAH = 3
            DIT DIT DIT DIT DAH = 4
            DIT = 5
            DAH DIT =6
            DAH DIT DIT = 7
            DAH DIT DIT DIT =8
            DAH DIT DIT DIT DIT =9
            DAH = 0

            The above method accepted the bad habit beginners have of trying to count the dits and dahs instead of just focusing on the overall sounds. Also accepted that if you recruit a high ranking foreign colonel, you can’t sent him off to spy school for a year.

            Later, people went to just saying the numbers over the air — the shortwave numbers stations. Strange since it is quicker to say one letter than to say the two-number pairs that represent most letters. However, it evidently was easier/quicker to add a line of random key numbers than to work with a mapping matrix for letter conversions. Plus the mapping matrix was another piece of incriminating material.

  6. I’m halfway through my tech study book for HAM, so am learning a lot. Since I’m practicing for this test with the latest baofeng model, how would you compare choosing the vhf vs uhf options it has for distance? I’m thinking of buying a couple more to get started since they are cheap, with the longer rubber duck antenna.
    My terrain is that I’ll be looking at hills and small buildings, and a drive home from work that’s about 40 miles, lots of trees as compared to open terrain (think eastern US, not the plains).
    I was hoping to not rely on repeaters, as if there’s ever a shtf type of situation unfolding, I’m assuming if cell towers are down, so could repeaters (I don’t know).
    Thanks for any input from anyone.

    1. I’m halfway through my tech study book for HAM, so am learning a lot. Since I’m practicing for this test with the latest baofeng model, how would you compare choosing the vhf vs uhf options it has for distance?
      I’m thinking of buying a couple more to get started since they are cheap, with the longer rubber duck antenna.
      My terrain is that I’ll be looking at hills and small buildings, and a drive home from work that’s about 40 miles, lots of trees as compared to open terrain (think eastern US, not the plains).

      TR: For that kind of range, you’ll need and mobile and a base station. 2 Meter is popular for a very good reason. UHF has it’s place, and more about propogation will be discussed in Part 5.

      I was hoping to not rely on repeaters, as if there’s ever a shtf type of situation unfolding, I’m assuming if cell towers are down, so could repeaters (I don’t know).
      Thanks for any input from anyone.

      TR: Yes, if the power goes out, and most repeaters only have limit back up power capability with little or no PV support, they will soon go down with out power. Also a tyrannical government may seek to eliminate Amateur repeater in regions they dominate, and could at a later stage revoke amateur licenses as a measure against domestic terrorists (patriots). They are going for the guns, and radios from what I see.

      1. And here I thought no one else sees the moves being made against radios. Cant let people own independent comms infrastructure. Especially with the purge ongoing in social media. I have noticed an explosion of interest in comms from non preppers. Waiting for new restrictions on thermals and nods. Fun fact there was recently a ban on people of 2 or 3 certain races owning sw radios in america. Clue : not Afr Amers.

        1. ” I have noticed an explosion of interest in comms from non preppers. Waiting for new restrictions on thermals and nods. Fun fact there was recently a ban on people of 2 or 3 certain races owning sw radios in america. Clue : not Afr Amers.”

          It’s good to get your confirmation and additional. By “non preppers” who are buying radios. I presume these are people who are also buying bullets, but not necessarily beans.

          I’d like to know more about this ”ban” on certain people owning SW radios. If there was a link, or other, it could be instructive.

          Thanks for your help.

          1. Yup, buying guns and bullets, where they can find them. As for the rest well…..just blank stares.
            The year was 1942. The people , Japanese, Italian, and German. Those who were lucky enough to be believed only loyal to the USA weren’t sent to concentration camps but was either forcibly relocated or given a max distance they could travel from home. Special ID, homes searched, SW radios and cameras taken. And man if you were unlucky enough to live in Hawaii at the time…..or Alaska. Here’s a link that even mentions a famous NY baseball slugger


            Plenty more where that came from. But you get the point I think. One of those episodes we don’t talk about I guess. 1942 not that long ago. Makes me take notice of whats going on with radios now for sure.

        2. I read the article, and it was instructive. In this atmosphere, anyone who supported Trump in anyway, with the signing of an Executive Order, could be declared and enemy of the State, and get the same or worse treatment a did the Japanese and Italians during WW2.

          “EO 9066 not only allowed the government to arrest and imprison “enemy aliens” without charges or trial—it meant their homes and businesses could be summarily seized.”

  7. Not exactly. Sdr dongle to see your traffic. That instantly gives me the band and other identifiers. Freq hop if you want but based of band and power output etc it will be childs play to some to determine your equipment type and thus where youll be next. Example…. uv5r has two bands. Easy to monitor uhf vhf at the same time. How far can you hop? How fast? How many times per second? Thats right …per second!!! ( if the answer is less than several hundred or more dont bother) Thats one heck of a comms plan if you are trying that by hand. Spin that dial really fast or have a teenage texting champ rapidly entering freqs while you transmit? Any freq hoping radio available to you will be available to anyone with the cash. Listen, zombie hordes dont do SIGINT. Period. If you keep your physical footprint small and never mention location data over the air the zombie horde is not going cause an issue because you used a walmart blister pack. How many people do you know you can df? So there is no need for the spy games since there is no df ability for zombies. The ones who are going to make you suffer for sloppy comms are all pros. Most of whom did that task for a nation state actor. Let me be clear: the only way to have secure electronic comms that cannot blow back on you is receive side only. If you transmit you are being heard by, and giving SIGINT to someone other than the intended recipient. This is as true for broad spectrum freq hopping encrypted gear from Uncle Sam as it is for whatever you have. If you want secure comms with another party send a armed courier. The once most wanted man in the world evaded capture for a decade by staying AWAY from all forms of electronic telecommunications. Osama bin Laden.

    1. Well, when a Senator on the US Senate’s SELECT Committee on Intelligence QUOTED AL Qaeda cell phone conversations to reporters, that was kinda a tipoff.

      By the strangest coincidence, that leak also sabotaged the Senate’s investigation into why the Executive Branch had failed to stop the Sept 11 attack. By giving Cheney and Bush an excuse to withhold the necessary classified information from Congressional investigators.

      Hence no one asked how we could spend $4 Trillion in the 1990s on “defense” and yet get blindsided by an attack financed with a budget of $150,000.

  8. For those who want to check it out, there is a cheaper way to extend coverage if you want to, and can learn the new skill.

    Study how to use Simplex Repeaters. Some sell at less than $100. Made of semi-pure Chinesium, of course.

    Mine is labeled Surecom SR-112 Radio Record Simplex Repeater Controller.

    It includes the connecting cord for Kenwood/BaoFeng/PoFung/etc.

    Mine cost $60.

    There is a better option out there that was selling for $80 last fall, which included recording capability.

    There are ways to make other repeaters skip frequencies but I don’t plan for that now. I’m focused on disaster response, so wide-spread coverage is better.

    One can be positioned between the two points you want to communicate with, for the 40 mile coverage discussed above.

    These are NOT the same as your standard (duplex) repeaters.

    Using one requires both operators to have very disciplined operating habits to conduct communications.

    You must be patient, polite, and listen, with your finger Off of the transmit button much more time than you have the transmit button pushed On.

    You can set it up plugged into 110v, or else use a 12v power source with inverter plug in.

    Thanks for all the great series, TR. Making my printer blow the dust off out here!

    1. My Ham Shack is humble indeed because there are competing priorities. There are several makes and models like this that make this an affordable repeater. It would be very useful tool in a low power network using hand helds. Low power is our friend. It would be good to have relay stations involved, but this requires people willing and able, 24/7. I would not put a repeater of any kind where it is not secure, but at trusted house hold. The risk of use hand helds is that their duty cycle is very short, and if this device where used often, the transmitter would burn up, that is fail because of excessive heat build up.
      It would be best to connect it to a mobile, as once in operation, folks using this system will probably forget that a hand held has a very short duty cycle. A good quality mobile using only 5 watts has a very long duty cycle and would not fail.

  9. You might want to add Beldon 9913 to your Low Loss Coax List… I have been using it for many decades in Marine and Aircraft Base and Fixed installations in Alaska for DECADES.. As well as in Business and Public Safety Installations in Vhf/Uhf bands.. Also I noted that your KISS approach for new Users, Ham & Civilian, makes a lot of sense… As a reTIRED Alaskan FCC Resident Field Agent, and Advanced Class Ham, for many decades, I do not fit into that category. So my Dc to Light Radios have a different priority.. I use Kenwood TM-D710x type DualBander mobiles & Base Radios, Kenwood TH-D72 DualBander HTs that are opened, and have 1000 Memory Channels.. All have the same Channel Lineups programmed into them, which include GMRS/FRS, MURS, Marine, Ham, my local Public Safety, and Aviation frequencies plus many of the local Business frequencies… For HF, I use Kenwood TS-590s, TS-2000x and TS-480SAT/TS-480HX, all opened up for 2.0-54Mhz Multimode Mobile & Base Operations that include Marine, Aviation, CB, Ham, Alaska Private Fixed, and other Fixed Radio Service frequencies, all preprogrammed in memory channels.. This keeps the Radio counts as low as possible, but the utility, and Frequency Counts as high as possible, with room to add other frequencies as needed…

    1. I’m actually using Beldon 9913. Unfortunately I have a collection of various radios, and only few Kenwoods, as the method of acquisition used was the most cost effective. I had to be an opportunistic buyer. This requires the user to work harder to be able to operate a variety equipment, to become a jack of all trades and a master of few, if any. Learning many platforms has benefits if time is available, but when it gets hot and heavy we will have no spare time as we will be in a steep learning curve just trying to stay alive. Keeping it simple should include standardization in all ways possible. The bulk of my handhelds are fortunately one radio, the Boafeng, that will be used by others, and that is were standardization has the most utility.

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