From David in Israel: Mobile Multi-Mode Survival Communications

The following is an example of a pack-portable Ham station that is usable in most modes:

Icom 706 MK2G HF/6M/2M/440 bands in SSB, FM, CW, and AM
MFJ travel antenna tuner
MFJ Mighty Mite 110-240 to 13 Volt 25 Amp power supply
SGC ADSP2 digital noise reduction (DSP) and filter speaker
Morse Code Key [JWR adds: Preferably with a detachable thigh-mount clip or thigh strap for use in the field.]
Spool of antenna wire
Hamstick antenna
HF Dipole Antenna
VHF/UHF antenna
Toshiba MobilePro sub-laptop (an inexpensive serial terminal for TNC)
KAM Kantronics TNC
Solar panel
16xD cell NiMH battery
Lightning/EMP dissipators for all antennas
Pigtails, ground wires, and stakes
Line surge protector

Such a setup could be made packable and run totally off grid. A packable station … Continue reading

Letter from Mark G. Re: The Army Aviator on HF Radios

Howdy Mr. Rawles,

I have been reading your blog for the last week or two, and I also read your book [Patriots] last week (lots of good info, thanks!) I have a question regarding the post referenced in the subject line: Are the GRC-215 radios available surplus, or is there something similar available on the commercial market? Since I have been following your thoughts I have become more interested in communications (never thought too much about post-SHTF comm before), and I would like to eventually get something similar, although a SSB capable CB will probably come first, and I will need to get a Ham license. – Mark. G.

JWR Replies: AN/GRC-215 backpack HF transceivers are often available from Fair Radio Sales, along with many other military surplus radios AND my favorite military surplus field telephone: the TA-1. (These are ideal for … Continue reading

Letter Re: More on Survival Communications and Six Meter Propagation Oddities

Howdy Mr. Rawles!
One frequency [band] that I have had good results from has been 6 meters. This frequency is really unique. It may not be suitable for every situation, however its properties can be of use. It has the ability to become a national frequency when the E layer of the atmosphere is active. I have talked to HAMs from Washington state, to San Francisco, California down through Texas, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Haiti, parts of South America, Vermont and above the Arctic Circle in Canada, [and] among adjacent states. Lets just say I am on the opposite side of the country from Washington State and California. I did these contacts on a wire sloper antenna cut for the mid portion of the 6 meter band. One day I will get my 5-element beam antenna up which should at least triple my [long range … Continue reading

Letter Re: Amateur Radio in Survival Planning

Jim, I wanted to add that I think it is a great time now to test for Amateur radio license (“Ham” radio.) The entry level test is apparently quite simple and there is no longer any requirement for morse code (although that is a good skill to acquire.) [JWR adds: IIRC, that applies only to “No Code” license classifications, which have band restrictions.] I have been routinely listening to 75 meters at night, here in Coeur d’Alene {Idaho.] I here people as far as San Diego, California. Those broadcasting within 800 miles (Nevada, Oregon and all over the northwest) come in so clear and strong it seems as if they are down the street!) Most of these fellows willing to help out and share their knowledge. This is a lot different from CB radio where there is usually so much vulgarity and bad behavior it makes … Continue reading

From David in Israel Re: HF Radio Propagation and Improvised Antennas

Here is a good military level primer on HF radio propagation with some links on how to make improvised antennas. See:
For more fun, try Googling on the search phrase: “stealth, apartment, and wire antennas.”  There is an amazing science behind these home-built wonders.

Two Letters Re: A Dedicated SurvivalBlog Amateur Radio Net?

A good frequency for two-way radio communications is the little-used [amateur] FM radio band on 220 MHz. (See:  Very few scanners cover it–only the most expensive scanners do which most people won’t buy. The reason scanners don’t cover 200 – 300 MHz is because its [mainly] used by the military. For example, the control tower at Moffett Field Naval Air Station is on 301.something MHz.
In my research, I noticed that there are only two repeaters in Idaho that are on 220 and they are both in Boise. Outside of the big cities 220 is hardly used.  One exception is the Condor Net (, which covers Nevada, California and Arizona. It is the only repeater network of its kind in the US. And it’s only available on 220MHz. I used 223.480 MHz simplex for many years. The comment from the … Continue reading

From David In Israel: A Dedicated SurvivalBlog Amateur Radio Net?

It might be worthwhile to have a dedicated SurvivalBlog radio network. We could set up something on several HF bands. I am thinking it would be nice to have a way for SurvivalBlog readers to contact one another, even if and when the Internet and/or the phone system goes down. I think that there may be some interesting news will be coming from here [in Israel].  OBTW, the new year is 5766 from the creation of the world, the world is being closely judged for the next few days as Hashem re-coronates himself as the true King over kings. – David

JWR Replies:  Okay readers, to get this net “off the ground” please e-mail me with some suggested HF frequencies.  It is probably also apropos to pre-designate a sideband CB channel (or two), and some FRS, GMRS and Continue reading

Letter Re: Inexpensive HF Transceiver?

Could you give me some advice/direction on purchasing a HF Transceiver for use in emergency communications events. Money is limited (like when is it not) but I want something that is a good all around investment. Most bang for the buck so to speak. I have background in radio/tv. Thank you so much!

JWR’s Reply: Your best bet is a probably a “pre-digital” vintage rig from the 1970s–perhaps a Kenwood. Just make sure that it is set up to run on 12 VDC so that you can use a vehicular mount or run it from a retreat solar power/battery bank or generator/battery bank power system. And be sure that it is guaranteed for “no DOA”–you wouldn’t want to get one with burned out finals. The “pre-digital” models sell at deep discounts. Why? Like car buyers, most hams want to own the latest and greatest. Just do a … Continue reading

Letter From Dave Martin Re: Communications Infrastructure Rebuilding in Louisiana

Hi Jim,
Your novel Patriots was revisited in New Orleans! I thought I would fill you and your blog in on the Blessings For Obedience ministries mission to Mississippi, and Louisiana this past week, It all started with a question to Kelly Coleman our president like… “Are we going to do anything for the stricken area?” Kelly and Tina were fishing in central Texas at the time, and having a nice time I shouldn’t have disturbed them with such a question. Sorry Tina. After about twelve hours of communications with the FCC, the head of the FCC decided it would be a good thing to issue an emergency FM Broadcast license for New Orleans. I think the FCC deserves a big kudos for what they did, and the heroic work to approve the license in such a short period of time, this is definitely … Continue reading

Letter Re: AA and AAA Batteries by the “500 Pack”

I should point out that the battery offer by Botach is a high risk issue. Botach is a scum sucking bottom feeding scammer! Check the comments at and – They have a horrible reputation. I can also attest personally that they and have ripped me off (on an expensive rifle scope deal) as well as two of my associates (various rifle parts). I strongly encourage folks to slit their wrists before buying from Botach! – A.M.

JWR Replies: Don’t hold back, A.M., tell us how you really feel! (Seriously, I appreciate your advice. I’ve removed that post.)

Letter Re: EMP Protection

I have been thinking about EMP damage to circuitry. Am I correct that it only damages computer-chip circuits, or does it also fry transistor type? It won’t harm old type ignition (with points) systems, right? If this is the case, a generator would become just as useless as anything, unless it is stored in a metal cabinet of some kind, right? How air-tight would it have to be to be effective in EMP suppression? (would it need to be totally welded, or just tacked good enough to keep it together? I am a welder, and am thinking about making just such a cabinet for my generator, just for such an eventuality, using old 275 gallon furnace oil tanks for metal, I find they are a good source for fairly heavy gauge metal, long as you ‘burn them’ first, so they won’t cause any problems when ya cut them. … Continue reading

VHF Marine Band and Out of Band (“Freeband”) CB Radio Modifications

Proviso: The following is for informational purposes only. Do not modify radios as described unless it is a dire emergency. (FCC regulations do not permit out of band transmissions except under emergency situations.)

One aspect of preparedness that is often overlooked is secure radio communications. As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous blog posts, buying a pair of VHF Marine Band radios makes sense if you live in an area that is both inland from the coast and away from the Great Lakes. You will essentially have a band all to yourself. Another approach to increasing communications security is modifying CB radios to transmit just above or just below the designated Citizen’s Band.(The so-called “Freeband”.) Although your transmissions will still be vulnerable to interception with any scanner, they will not be noticed by anyone that has a standard (unmodified) CB radio. Freeband modification was very … Continue reading