Preventing Failure to Communicate- Part 5, by JMD

Failure to Communicate

We’re continuing to evaluate how to prevent a failure to communicate when we do not have wireless electronic communications available to us. We’ve been exploring our options. Yesterday, I wrote about the different types of communications and types of interference to communication. I wrapped up yesterday’s part of the article by introducing what you should do to prepare. The first part, of course, was plan. Let’s take a look at the second part and conclude the article with the subsequent steps to prepare.


Once you’ve got a good handle on your requirements and solutions, you should create a couple of important documents. The first is referred to by the military as a “Standing Operating Procedure” (SOP). This will be the “bible” for all of your communications. It should cover all of the elements for your communications, such as types, encodings, handshakes, feedback, watches, et cetera. This will probably change … Continue reading

Preventing Failure to Communicate- Part 4, by JMD

Failure to Communicate

We’re continuing to evaluate how to prevent a failure to communicate when we do not have wireless electronic communications available to us. We’ve been exploring our options. Yesterday, I wrote about various channels of communications. Today, we’ll move into various forms of communications to consider.


In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that it was about alternatives to wireless electronic communications. However, that doesn’t rule out wired forms of electronic communication. Wired communications tend to be point-to-point, are very hard for anyone to intercept, and can send large amounts of information. The biggest disadvantages are that they require electricity and they are both relatively complex equipment to function (complex relative to a fire or whistle) and generally limited to certain locations and distances (the maximum length of your wire).

  • Telephone – You can set up a relatively simple point-to-point telephone system using some used military field phones. … Continue reading

Preventing Failure to Communicate- Part 3, by JMD

Failure to Communicate

We’re continuing to evaluate how to prevent a failure to communicate in the event that our normal, electronic communications equipment are not available to us. We are exploring our options. Yesterday, I wrote about common content items and encoding. Let’s continue.


The medium defines what carries the communication through the channel. For written communication, the medium will usually be paper. For most signal-based communications, the medium will be inseparable from the channel. In the case where communications is sent by a flashing light, light is the medium.


The channel is critical to all communications. It determines how the message is actually transferred to the receiver. Thus, how much bandwidth is available and how noise may impact the communication. It also tells us likely it is the communication will be noticed/intercepted by someone other than the intended recipient. Channels can also be mixed to improve the overall communications process. … Continue reading

Preventing Failure to Communicate- Part 2, by JMD

Failure to Communicate

We’re continuing to evaluate how to prevent a failure to communicate in the event that our normal, electronic communications equipment are not available to us. Yesterday, we looked as some definitions and began defining our own communications requirements. With that in mind, let’s move forward.


Now that you’ve (hopefully) thought a little bit about what your communications requirements might be, let’s take a look at some possible options for the various elements.


As I mentioned earlier, the best starting point for figuring out a communications strategy is by making a list of everyone it will need to support. For a smaller group, like a family, this may simply involve a list of all of the people in the family. However, what if an emergency arises that requires you to call for help from your neighbors? Make the list as complete as possible, and allow for potential future additions. … Continue reading

Preventing Failure to Communicate- Part 1, by JMD

Failure to Communicate

Communications failure can be prevented, though it may not be in the form we’re expecting. Ever since the earliest cavemen grunted at each other and painted pictures on their cave walls, humans have been communicating in one form or another. Communications are critical to any multi-person activity. Many people consider having radios and other electronic communications devices a core part of living a prepared lifestyle. Virtually every survival- and preparedness-related forum or blog has one or more sections dedicated to this. Things like shortwave radio communications, protecting your radios from EMP, powering your radios in a grid-down scenario, et cetera.

Unless you’re a lone-wolf, having the ability to communicate effectively with your group, and potentially with other groups, is absolutely critical to maintaining a functioning society. But what about situations where you can’t, or shouldn’t, use wireless electronic communication devices? What if, post-SHTF, there’s a quasi-military marauder group operating in … Continue reading

Letter Re: Approaching Grand Solar Minimum

Grand Solar Minimum


I have recently heard about the grand solar minimum and am wondering if you guys have any thoughts on it? It seems to have some pretty serious implications regarding more extreme weather and how our climate is changing (which it always has been). I live on the gulf coast so preparedness for me has always been important due to hurricanes. My question is: out of all the climate hype that we have been inundated with over the last decade or so, is this something to really be taken seriously? It is wise to stay prepared nonetheless, however if the implications of a grand solar minimum are correct, could this be a perfect example of “the boy who cried wolf?” No one will bother to believe its implications.

Essential Communications on a Budget, by TCM

Baofeng UV5R

Communications within a survival group and with the surrounding area is not just important; it can be a matter of life and death. The lack of communications taken to the extreme can be illustrated by imagining yourself with your eyes and ears covered. Now, try to defend yourself and your family. We all know it is not possible. Being without, at least, basic communications is almost that dangerous. I’m not suggesting that you should blow your entire prepper budget on high dollar electronics. There is a low-cost, but effective solution. This article will offer some practical solutions for emergency communications, using low-cost Baofeng transceivers. Some of the suggestions are not legal except under emergency conditions. The best approach is to get your ham license and do everything legally, but your circumstances may not permit that approach. If not, this article is for you. First, we will talk about equipment then … Continue reading

Letter: Faraday Cage Question

Faraday Cage

Good afternoon!

I have a question on adapting a homemade Faraday cage. I am getting a little paranoid about these two North Korean satellites in orbit over our country.

Would a metal mailbox, such as can find at the local hardware store, be acceptable protection? I am trying to put together something simple for really, really cheap! It has a larger size and is easier to obtain. It is also cheaper than some of the other options I have been reading about on constructing a Faraday cage.  T.B.

HJL’s Comment:

Most any metal container will work as a Faraday cage with a few simple preparations. The metal needs to have a good electrical connection between the various parts. If you are using painted metal, you will have to remove the paint where the electrical connection needs to exist. Galvanized metal works really well. If a metal mail box is not large enough, you can consider a 30 gal trash can with a metal lid…. Continue reading

Letter Re: Transporting Documents – Empty the Trash!


The files that you think you deleted from your portable drive using the Windows “delete” command or the Mac “move to trash” command are still there; you just can’t see them. Learn how to securely delete files from the .trashes and hidden files from thumb drives by doing an Internet search on the topic of .trashes file and how to securely delete old files from them. This is a must do for anyone using a USB thumb or SD card. If you have a Windows computer and can find the option to “show hidden files” you should do that. Look into using Apple’s FileVault.

The mini-SD card is small enough that it can easily be concealed underneath a round band-aid stuck to your skin.


Letter: Venues for Learning Morse Code

Dear Editors:
There is a good Morse Code practice group in the Pacific Northwest every morning on 3.970 mhz LSB at 8:00 PST.

The guy sends Trivia questions to the others using Morse Code. Each person who checks in gets to take a turn on a rotating list. The code is sent at the speed each person is comfortable with. Once the question is sent and received, that person repeats the question by voice to confirm they copied it correctly. But if they can’t ANSWER the trivia question, anybody can jump in and try to answer it.

This way of learning Morse Code is way more fun than the old code practice tapes. Plus, the trivia is fun and educational.

They are always looking for new “fresh meat” to start learning the Morse Code. They will slow way down for newcomers, and the entire group is very encouraging and … Continue reading

21st Century Tradecraft: Discreet Transport of Documents

I have had many of my consulting clients ask me for advice about how to maintain their privacy. One of their greatest concerns is the interception of e-mails in the now ubiquitous global Surveillance State. The sad truth is there is now no such thing as “secure” e-mail, even when using high level encryption. If a government wants to know what you are communicating and they are willing to invest sufficient time and energy, then they will eventually be able to read your encrypted e-mail. This is known as brute force decryption, wherein massive computing power is dedicated to breaking an encryption scheme. It also goes without saying that telephones, faxes, radio communications, and in fact virtually all other electronic communications systems are vulnerable to interception, decryption, monitoring, and long-term database archiving.

With those capabilities in mind, this leaves us very few options other than traditional face-to-face meetings, mailing … Continue reading

Letter Re: Shielding a Cell Phone

Mr. Latimer:

Simply as a departure point for thought: I placed my wife’s cell phone inside an empty metal coffee can and covered the open top with aluminum foil. I secured that by overlaying the plastic lid. The phone did not ring, nor would it receive a text. Outside of the can, both calls and texts went through. Should you (we) have a cell phone that has a integrated battery, this may make tracking or malicious communications more difficult. – Skyrat

Letter Re: Cell Phone Blocking/Masking

Hi James,

For people with cell phones having non-removable batteries, I have wondered if cell phone tracking could be blocked by removing the sim card. I have such a phone, and although removing the battery is not an option, removing the sim card is pretty straightforward. – B.G.

o o o

Dear Editor,

I work exclusively with cell phone RF protocols (4G/LTE, Bluetooth) and can say this “evidence bag” does the trick.

In a separate item please let SurvivalBlog readers know that Polar Pure is back on the shelves in the USA after resolving its conflict with the geniuses at the DEA. This is year-old news, but somehow I missed it. – D2 in AZ

HJL’s Comment: Just make sure you’re turning your cell phone off when you place it in an RF shield. Without that, the phone will continue to search for service, shortening your battery life.

Letter Re: Cell Phone Masking and Denial of Geolocation Data

Hello James,

I was stunned when out of the blue Google Maps sent me an e-mail detailing several hundred locations I have been to over the past several months. I immediately attempted to change settings to prevent this, but I feel Internet/cell phone data is an insidious invasion of privacy with the next logical step for government to bypass the usual requirements to access locations, phone numbers, data, et cetera, the 4th Amendment be damned. There are various RFID-blocking cell phone wallets/sleeves for sale online with varying degree of price and effectiveness as per reviews. Can you recommend a product to shield cell phones from transmitting data? – D.W.

JWR’s Comment: Yes. Simply buy an older-style cell phone from which you can quickly and easily remove the battery. (Most of the newer smart phones have integral batteries that require complicated disassembly of the case.) A TracFone flip phone is what … Continue reading

Letter Re: IP Addresses in an Internet Blackout

If the powerful few decide to shut down independent news sites, more than likely they will shut down the DNS servers and leave the rest of the Internet up. The DNS servers (Domain Name System) is liken to a telephone book. You look up the name (Domain name) and it gives you the telephone number, in our case, the IP Number (Internet Protocol Number). They can accomplish this by shutting down the entire DNS systems or just selectively remove certain domain addresses from the book, leaving the rest of the book operational. Note that either way, the news sites are still there and operating.

The cure for this, if it should happen, is to know the phone number (IP address) beforehand. Then you don’t need the telephone book. It’s that simple. Below is a list of some of my favorite sites, including this site. Copy and save those numbers. If … Continue reading