Two-Way Radio for Your Retreat, by Tunnel Rabbit

Around here, in this part of the American Redoubt, everybody and their brother, including Bubba and the Back Woods Boys, may have access to a Baofeng, or an older dusty radio transceiver unit sitting in a box somewhere that was pulled out of their retired logging rig.  It could be CB, or VHF, or a Baofeng.  I know, because for years ‘we’ have promoted their use, and program radios for whomsoever will buy one.  Who knows what’ll happen, so I’ll program it for free, just so they’ll have it for a’ rainy’ day.  Push-to-talk radio may tie a small community together in times of crisis.  They can at least hear what happening on the Ham Bands, on USFS fire frequencies, other emergency services, and disaster relief frequencies.  And at the least, they can talk on MURS, FRS, or CB. In case of fire, evacuation or prevention is always in mind when you live in a fire-prone area like Noorthwestern Montana.  Radio from the logging days, radio to cover vast areas without cell phone coverage, radio for situational awareness during fire season, makes radio relevant to this day, even with the diminished popularity of CB and ham radio,

Still, if one frequents their happy hunting grounds, or is just out in the boonies cutting wood and getting stranded, or wants to avoid getting run over by a logging truck on a narrow USFS road, or avoid being trapped by a wildfire, then these are risks that a transceiver might mitigate.

Here’s an example: The recent big fire in that burnt out swaths of the Kootenai National Forest and parts of an Amish community on the Canadian border. The result was an increase in a sense of community, and the desire to monitor emergency services, especially frequencies used for firefirghting. It pays to pay attention! With the proliferation of the inexpensive Chinese radios, and current general sense for the need, there is generally speaking, a higher concentration of radio ownership as a result, not including the amateur radio ranks that have swelled.  And the high number of government employees and volunteer groups add even more to the count.

However, even though very inexpensive radios have been available during the recent decade, in these parts, the bands are still quiet.  With only a few notable frequencies, it is otherwise mostly dead air out there.  For the majority of noobies with a Tech license, their radio just sits in a box, unused. So: radios, radios everywhere, but not peep. The smart phone is smarter, and burning up bandwidth is all the rage–at least in the areas that are inside of cellular coverage.

Radio Skills are Perishable

All skills are perishable. Once, far away and long ago, I was a fresh police dispatcher. But I would not expect myself to fair well today if thrust into a police dispatcher job on a hot and heavy day in the Big City.  On day one, I’d surely be overwhelmed. A complete and utter failure to communicate would tragically occur. In the Big City, it can be a war zone on the air.  You are managing a battlefield, coordinating the troops on the ground. A 94-pound female can command the airwaves giving permission for a potty break, or assigning an ‘adhoc’ force to a incident, while Watch Commander sips coffee reviewing reports. The Dispatcher is In Charge. Only Air Traffic Controllers can handle more. At least I’ve been there, and those techniques and procedures would eventually come back.  Simply listening to huge amounts of high speed and concentrated voice communication of jargon and brevity code, to pick out from the deluge of non-stop emergency traffic, remembering the most relevant information, processing that, and combining new information and directions for dissemination, is a skill that can only be developed lots of time actively listening.  And we haven’t even got to the speaking part yet.  Fortunately for the purposes of retreat security, the skill level needed is near zero in comparison, yet most will not be comfortable, because push to talk radio is not a cell phone. Roger that?

If you are microphone shy now, you will choke, and fail to communicate effectively. Nor should a radio be used as a cell phone.  It’s use should strictly be relegated to the purpose of warning others, calling for help, coordinating defenses. It should NOT be used for ordering lunch, or sniveling about the weather. Habits are habit forming!  Emergency radio traffic requires extreme discipline. Cool, calm, dead pan voice, are the habits conducive to communication lots information with little traffic and time. Do not let the adrenaline control you. A calm businesslike demeanor and voice soothes all involved, including yourself. Be boringly stoic, laconic, use brevity code (i.e. the ’10’ code, or the ‘Q’ code of amateur radio, or better yet, your homebrew) and be about only business on the radio.  Many prior military, certainly those in infantry, have had at least some air time in one role or another. For old and current Law Enforcement, they probably still think in radio speak.  Regardless of the acronyms, brevity codes, or lexicon of a profession, whether the guy on the other end is an Alpha Hotel, or an Adam Henry, the methods and procedures are similar. The standard for any kind of smooth effective radio voice communication is out there to be studied.  How?  Just turn on a radio. Listen, at first passively, then actively. Decipher. Adopt the mind set, learn to pause and think before speaking. How can I convey this message as briefly and succinctly as possible?  Then key the mic to speak clearly, and with confidence.

Amateur Radio

Amateur radio is great place to learn and do, and to learn good procedure for solid radio communication. It is a way to practice, to become comfortable with being on air.  And it is a great place to make friends, and meet like-minded folks. Of course not all Hams are preppers. But it is great place to gain access to the collective knowledge about radio that is not taught in the class room. Getting an Tech license from the FCC is the best introduction to radio, if one has no prior exposure.  It is an easy test, that one can learn to pass online. And it is made easy as possible. (Learning Morse Code is no longer a requirement. Take the test online until you pass it every time with a 100% score, and it will be a cinch to pass the test in the classroom.  In this day and age of the cell phones, this is likely the best way to become familiar with the basics of radio operation.  You’ll learn about repeaters, and what is expected, and what is not permissible on the Ham Bands. If one needs help with their radio, more-experienced hams will gladly help out.  And they will talk your ear off while they do it. You will learn more than you expected.

If only for access to repeaters in your area that can provide an invaluable to way to stay in contact with family and friends, then Amateur Radio is for you. Repeaters expand the usable range of radios immensely. At some point cellular phone service may no longer function, or perhaps it will become too expensive.  And although there will be others listening to your traffic on the air, it is actually more secure than the smart phone network that is recording everything.

Some Band Options

Although the 2 Meter band is the most popular, do not forget the quieter 70cm band.  And although the Amateur bands are good for mid-range communications, it not a good place to be for you security operations. This is where the MURS band shines. Of course the MURS band is no secret place, yet it is a place that is not of interest to most radio hobbyists who often sweep the Ham band with scanners for any traffic.  MURS allows the user as much freedom to operate as can be found on the air. If I had to use the Ham band for security operations, I would follow the rules, use the 70cm band and a horizontally polarized directional antenna and low power. 70cm is available on most modern mobile radios today, yet is seldom used. It would the easiest choice if a network were to be set up. If one needed a quasi-secure why of communicating much farther than MURS can, and to someone without a MURS radio, then 70cm is the easiest option.  If you anticipate a need to use the Ham Bands to talk to friends when things go bad, 2 meter SSB (single side band) is also an option, yet the radio is not that common.

Then there is digital radio. Also not common. And there is the forgotten Amateur band, 1.25 meters. Very uncommon, and near zero repeaters available. 6 meters propagates better than the 2 meter band, and there might be repeaters in your area.  Amateur radio could have a place in your future plans for bad times. Even if the repeaters do not stay up and running for long. Plan that they will not.

If you speak Navajo, Swahili, or whatever, develop your own way that all can easily adhere to. It must be comfortable for youngest to the oldest, a pattern, a method of doing business on the radio, that is habit forming, disciplined, and becomes adopted as routine. Then, and only then can that radio in the box be of good use.  Only previous and shared experience will be useful. There is no license required to learn how to communicate with a FRS, CB, or MURS radio.  Start the family out by listening to a scanner, or to the 2 meter Amateur band traffic in the background. Show them how it is done on the Ham bands, and then on MURS, or FRS where there are no licenses or formal rules.  Kids are natural mimics.  We can be too if we try, and listen.




32 Comments

    1. The Baofeng and Wouxon radios also allow you to transmit on FRS, GMRS, and MURS radio frequencies, in addition to the 2 meter and 70 centimeter amateur bands. The Federal Communications Commission does not like amateur band radios broadcasting on these non-amateur bands and vice-versa, though not entirely sure why not.

  1. I believe one reason for the “illegal” designation is that the radio is capable of transmitting on restricted frequencies, in addition to the allowable frequencies of FRS and HAM radio. To me, it seems like outlawing your V-8 engine vehicle because it is capable of going over the speed limit.

  2. Big Mike-

    Excellent advice, too, about laying in a store of them in the convenient 6 pack. And don’t forget to add a female mount Nagoya NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip Antenna or similar, and a Baofeng BL-5L 3800mAh Extended Compatible Battery for each unit. Improved range and power/endurance. And, stuff breaks. Two means one, one means none.

    I have stores of things that I’ll never use, like booze, tobacco, non-standard ammunitions… because when times get tough all kinds of things will acquire new value.

  3. Thank you for a thought provoking article!

    Any system not in daily use will not be available when suddenly required. This also goes for perishable skills.

    My wife, bless her heart, got her Tech Ham radio license to please me. We use it most every day except Sundays. We both have small, now discontinued, Yaesu VX-3 HT radios.(BaoFeng offers a similar sized radio) I call her while driving home from work for a quick 1-2 min conversation. This has helped her overcome mic fright. We basically use two channels on the radio, one a repeater, and other a simplex. When we go “operational” that is go on an event, outing or adventure we take the radios and typically run on the simplex frequency. For example, we both like hot air balloon events and when we go to one we both get drawn to different balloons and photo opportunities so we become separated. No problem, we coordinate and rendezvous using our radios.

    Changing channels and operating the radio is a skill. Also knowing when and why we use a repeater or simplex channel. She is now the one to remind us to return to the repeater channel when we get back home from an adventure.

    I recently got her to participate in a community drill involving Ham radio. It was a small event which was good as it was less intimidating to her. Over the course of the event I could hear her confidence and skill improving as she checked in from various locations.

    It all comes down to Systems and Skills to operate those systems. Skills atrophy with time.

    1. Being “mic shy” when under stress would be serious problem. At least get their ‘feet wet’. FRS radios are a good way to introduce as it is only a kids ‘toy’ in most eyes. Most folks do just fine, but as you mentioned, it takes time to build confidence. Had I not grew up around radio in the 1960’s, as a new employee, not hired as a dispatcher for large Sheriff’s department 30+ years ago, when in an emergency, I was instantly assigned the job, it was a ‘sink or swim’ situation. Because of my experience, this viking method of training was successful, as I was able to ‘swim’, albeit, only a dog paddle on day one. I had no license and no significant experience, I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and needed a pay check. This sink or swim experience may not be all that different that preppersmight encounter when thrust into war zone kind of situation.

      It was not long afterward, that the job requirements increased dramatically, and I was coordinating helicopter and ground movements. This was an high intensity job. One quickly becomes an adrenaline junky. Certain Search and Rescue operations with nation wide attention, involved many agencies and military aircraft. These events were akin to full blown military exercises and lasted for weeks. It is surprising given the limited radio equipment what can be accomplish with experienced operators. A dispatcher becomes an a key team member, and has enormous authority and responsibility, yet they do not have to carry a gun, and could by any member of your household. Females make the best radio operators.

      Even limited experience on the air, or simply hearing radio traffic, can have a beneficially disproportionate effect on future performance. Amateur radio, or horsing around on license free radios are both good training tools. The ability to think on one’s feet is also a skill that needs to be nourished as well. It can be imported from other life experiences and quickly applied. For example, someone who has experience as a waitress, has better organizational skills and can think and communicate with many difference persons better under pressure, than say some one who is a mechanic. Role playing, and home brew FTX (field training exercises) with the kids is also helpful.

      Here is an excellent video on this topic that should have been included in the article. I highly recommend all of Southern Prepper 1 videos:

      Scenario video-Your first day on radio watch in SHTF

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md7hdudU6rs

      1. Tunnel Rabbit,
        I appreciate you sharing your knowledge on this topic, but in the September 22 edition of “Survivalists Odds and Sods” you said, and I quote:
        Re: License Required
        “Any true American needs no licence{sic} to do nothing, no paper work, no credentials, but their accomplishments to qualify themselves in the eyes of their peers, as competent in any endeavor. It is time for the pendulum to swing the other way, and with good force.”

        Then shouldn’t the airwaves be free and open for everyone without having to provide private information to the FCC in order to procure a license?

        When asked about this very topic online, a 37-year veteran HAM operator responded:
        “The only radio you can operate anonymously is a CB.
        Operating a Ham radio in the ham bands without a license and ID is illegal, and is subject to several laws, and can bring forfeiture of around $10,000 and your radio equipment. It can also buy you jail time… we Hams, who have put out some work and effort to get our licenses, do not like this, and we have the technology (trust me, we do, and the FCC has it in spades!) to track someone down using direction finding equipment, and we will “nark” (or snitch, or squeal, or whatever street lingo you use) on you; you are NOT one of us.”

        That attitude, and having to submit more info to the government, is why I haven’t pursued radio more aggressively. Thanks for the article.

        1. Was up again late last night punching out another article that will in great part, address this problem. This put the word count total over the last 4 days, not including comments, to over 15,000 words. There are 5 articles in the pipe line on radio.

          The divide between licensed and unlicensed will soften if society deteriorates enough. If one is living a freedom loving part of the country, there is already a tacit understanding that the rules will change once the stuff hits the fan. During WW2, all amateur licenses were suspended in this country. This has occurred in part in South Africa recently. It is logical that a tyrannical government would also confiscate radio equipment. Better bury radios with your rifles if you’ve license them or yourself. Remember it was big deal to get caught with a shortwave receiver in Europe during WW2, and afterward in the Combloc nations.

          We can however operate anonymously and legally using MURS. There is much that can be done with MURS few investigate. Learn now how to deal with the restrictions now imposed upon us. This challenge if accepted, will help us learn how to use radio in a very dangerous environment. Antennas are a game changer, that is not as appreciated by those with high power radios. Making that 2 watts from a MURS radio useful, requires the best antennas, and even directional antennas. Perhaps I’ll discuss this later.

          CB with SSB is discussed in the article submitted last night. That is another underappreciated option. Learn how to leverage that platform and MURS, and you are off the beaten path, and less likely to be DF’d by a tyrannical government not just by the FCC, than if we were to operate our Amateur radios as one would normally and learn little more, as if we presume shooting at the bench would be good training for a Zombie Apocalypse. As true Americans, we are already behind the wire.

      2. So, Tunnel Rabbit:

        For those of us taking advantage of the last few days to stock up on the dual band radios, how should they be stored? If put away in a Faraday cage, should the batteries be charged or uncharged? If charged, should they be removed and charged at regular intervals?

  4. 2 Meter VHF 144MHZ Long Distance Propagation
    (YouTube Video)
    HamRadioConcepts
    Sep 26, 2019
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE08k3yyHrM
    Duration – 10:35

    Link to site: http://aprs.mennolink.org/

    “This site is an awesome resource to check out VHF propagation in your area. It DOES happen on VHF. Have you ever talked to someone on VHF simplex 300 miles away? 1000 miles away? No repeater, no hotspot… It is possible with decent antennas, or with a simple antenna. “

    1. The flat terrain is likely the most important factor, along with the correct ionization that enhances this unusual propagation for the 2 meter band in your link that is instructive. ‘Radio line of sight’ tends to follow the curvature of the earth. it is not a linear kind of ‘ line of sight’. We can use hills or mountainous terrain as shielding to block high or low power transmissions, or low power to limit the range, or directional antennas to guild or cast radio wave in a certain direction. However it is also possible to bend or diffract a signal over a hill, or bounce it off a granite face of a mountain, basically shooting the signal around a corner like a billiard ball. Radio waves of different frequencies behave differently. Radio can be an interesting topic for some.

      My word count for today in the ‘comments’ section has exceeded 1,200 words, 3/4th of the this article’s length, so I should knock it off for now.

  5. It seems to be too late on ordering Baofeng UV5R from Amazon. When I try I get a “restricted shipping” notice. The Amazon rep I talked to said even though it shows there is stock, that is not correct and they do not have stock.

  6. Excellent article and one we can relate to. My wife and I started out simply using MURS, checking into our local American Redoubt Radio Operators Network (AmRRON) net. About 15 families check in once a week. Eventually both of us got our ham technicians license.

    We monitor our group’s selected emergency channel 24/7. Sure enough Tunnel Rabbit’s example came true. We discovered there was a wildfire just one mile away! Ultimately we were OK but one of our members needed help transporting several horses and cattle out of harm’s way. He immediately got the help. Knowing that there is a local problem/threat is great. Knowing that our trusted ham friends are nearby, in communication, ready, willing and able to help is priceless.

    Don’t let the name fool you. AmRRON (amrron.com) is now a nationwide emergency communications network for patriots and preppers. If you don’t have one it is easy to start your own.

  7. Hi all, just a few thoughts.

    Besides whatever undisclosed reasoning that may have gone into the ban, at least part of it is because these radios can transmit on FRS, GMRS and MURS with more power than is authorized (FRS, for example, is limited to 0.5 Watts but the Baofeng’s can provide 5 or 8 Watts). Furthermore, those ‘walkie talkies’ are limited to their permanently-attached stubbie antennas, whereas you can vastly improve Baofeng range and performance with a wide choice of much more efficient antennas, some of which are very directional (thus with greater range AND privacy from most interception). As others have said, it’s usually wise to keep your transmission power as low as workable, but it’s pretty nice to be able to “beef up and dial in” options and accessories using these Baofengs! (btw, I don’t personally know if they can also transmit on forbidden frequencies used by First Responders – but if so, expect harsh FCC response).

    Licensing; I’m not a big fan of being held back by governmental edicts. It is therefore noted that anyone can use any radio & frequency IF they are deep in the midst of a life-threatening emergency (and then, only keep on the topic of resolving that bad situation), regardless of being licensed. However, please remember that HAM operators are folks like us who often volunteer for community disaster relief and connecting victims with the outside world etc. They need to train (as we all should! 😉 before a disaster and this citizen-based system gets bogged down if a lot of ‘rogue’ operators are clomping about without factual training or skill. Therefore, please take the minimal effort to study for the Tech-level license (= a few hours or attend a local HAM club’s ‘Ham cram’ 2 hr prep and then take the $15 test) that will not only keep you safe from nasty FCC fines and empower you to operate your gear with efficient knowledge, but it also avoids you stepping on and messing up the good work that others, like us, are doing!

  8. I’ve been a ham since 1965 earned a novice ticket for my Boy Scout Morse Code and Electronics merit badges. I started buying the UV5 radios when they were only $20.00/ pop and have acquired a nice supply of them.

    They will work as has been stated here and many other forums. In the event of TEOTWAWKI scenario all the licensing and regulations are null and void … that’s just how it’s going to roll.

    This was a very well written article; just one more thing I wish to add:
    Push the mic button and wait for at least a second before talking. In some areas, if you use or link repeaters, wait a few seconds for the repeater(s) to actually link up. Linking repeaters was / is common in some areas like Washington State, but not in other areas so learning about them is a good thing to do now, before the schumer hits the rotating oscillator.

    Learn CW (morse code) since it is the original digital format and will work when all else seems to be gone. Learn and use the digital modes now so the learning curve isn’t interrupted by WWIII, it too is useful no matter what the old fistpounders say … it is CW only really really fast … nuff said. Thank you for htat great article. 73

  9. Dear Colleagues, we have the radios and are listening only at this point. Able to pull in quite distant conversations and working on building proficiency on the keyboard, repeater mode etc. HOWEVER, what do folks recommend in terms of maintaining the battery life ? Do you keep these fully charged, establish a Preventive Maintenance cycle of draining them down listening (or using FM Radio) and discharging and then ramping up ? Tried to find info on this. Thanks for the guidance/advice, all is welcome. Squirrel 44

    1. Lithium Ion batteries are a huge leap forward from the older generations of rechargeable and do not require cycling them to avoid or to erase a memory. Charge then up once a year and they’ll be fine. Do not let a totally discharged lithium Ion battery freeze.

  10. I have my ham license and use my (6+) BaoFengs quite a bit. But for tactical, local comms I found these to be far more practical. They are very durable, easy to operate, have the NOAA weather channels on them. They are NOT capable for scanning all the emergency or government networks.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01786WDT4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    We use ours weekly for our church security work, and for our CERT activities, in both cases turned to FRS radio channels.

    These are GMRS radios and I got my license on line directly from the FCC. As soon as I clicked the pay button, my GMRS license link was emailed to me. A $60 license is good for 10 years ( so $6/yr amortized).

    GMRS are pre-programmed and have small non-removable antennae. When you want good local comms and are wearing gear and heavy clothing, these are easy to tuck into your pocket and have out of the way. Ours work both inside and outside of buildings, and across town to about a mile in urban areas with two story buildings. We keep them on low power intentionally, for greater security, recognizing that anyone with a radio can listen in.

    Our set of 6 was actually 3 boxed sets of two when they arrived, with each set having two earpiece/mike sets and one twin-place charger. Also included is one12V cigarette plug-in charger.

    We use this set of 2 earpiece/mike hookups instead of the ones supplied with the radio set. Recommended by LEO to us:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000CNAEEW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    The quality and functionality of the earpiece set is worth the price. We bought cheaper ones to start with and regretted them because they kept falling off the ear. Very annoying and unprofessional.

    I highly recommend this Zeadio earpiece set, as was promoted to us by LEO. Ours work great. You pull the earplug button off the above set, then slide the Zeadio onto the earpiece set. It’s amazing to be able to clearly hear the radio call, and still have full use of your ear on that side. The Zeadio is a open hoop shaped to nest into your ear which leaves the center open, while carrying the radio speaker to your ear.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M6ADTF8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    So for local tactical comms with your team, I promote GMRS radios now, and reserve the ham bands for all the uses listed in today’s column and comments.

    And yes, GMRS is supposed to be for families only, but one family can talk to another family, silly, and so far there is no genetic analysis conducted over the air by the FCC.

    Best wishes and God Bless

    1. To Wheatley Fisher:

      Concur in the article submitted last night. The topic would blend well with this article.
      There are other advantages to these radio. The most significant is the scramble feature. Also know that the FRS frequencies are limited to 1/2 watt ERP, and although the GMRS is limited to 5 watts, the actual output for these is around 3 watts. For each FRS and GMRS , there are 3 power levels. If the highest security is needed, use the lowest setting on one of the FRS channels that is less than 250mw, and the scramble. Anyone not aware of the scramble feature on this radios, will have a difficult time listening in, or estimating the distance . Low power is your friend.

        1. The “privacy codes” keep the radio receiver part from opening. If we wish to use ‘privacy codes’ to talk to one another, both radios must be set to the same code, or more accurately, a tone. If you are using a radio with out selecting a ‘privacy tone’, or the correct or same ‘privacy tone’ as the other radio you would like to ‘talk’ to, then that radio will not hear your radio. It’s kinda like selective hearing. If in an area where there is lots of traffic that you would not wish to hear, set all of your radio to the same ‘privacy tone’. These Midland GTX radios claim to have extra channels, that are in reality no more that the same GMRS/FRS frequencies that have preset ‘privacy codes’. If you would like to block out other radio traffic in the area, simply select a channel number that is one of Midland’s extra channels that should be channel 23 to channel 50, if memory serves at this late hour. The ‘privacy code’ blocks out others, but they can hear you loud and clear. There is no real ‘privacy’. I do not use ‘privacy codes’ or tones except in occassion there might interference from Canada. I want listen to hear that the frequency is open before transmitting. It not only the polite thing to do, but it is also the practical thing to do.

          The scramble feature, simply distorts the modulation and voice that can only be interpreted or returned to normal and ‘understood’ by another radio that has it’s scramble feature active. Using the lowest power setting available that provide reliable communication even without a scramble feature is the best, and first ‘security’ measure to use, and it reduces the draw on the radio’s battery. Using short transmission times of less than 5 seconds, brevity code, and prepared messages is the next layer of important ‘security’ measures. Using the ‘scramble’ feature is a secondary layer of security that reduces the number of listeners who can understand the conversation, however always assume that there others who also have the scramble feature and will hear the conversation.

          Low power, using less than 5 watts, or what Hams refer to as QRP radio, is the best first measure to employ. Yet I can still pick up very low power radios from unexpected distances using only a high gain antenna. I can also see modulation from even further distances even though I can not hear it on my most sensitive receiver. If interested, I could put a very high gain directional antenna on it, and might then be able to amplify the signal enough to hear it. And if that did not work, I’d get a rough azimuth, or compass bearing, and move closer, or move up in elevation high is as a possible to hear it.

          Always assume someone else is listening. I know I will be. Are your communications safe? Probably not. If that is so, then it is best to hide in plain sight…but that is for another time.

  11. On a tangental OpSec note –

    In my area there are no navigable rivers or waterways, so, I picked up a few used marine band radios dirt cheap. Have yet to hear anyone else on them yet. Might work in your area.

    1. If one is unable to program the many inexpensive Chinese radios to be used in a worst case scenario, where the country in in utter chaos, having pre-programmed and weather resistant, and rugged Marine Band radios, mobiles and handhelds, would be a good idea. I should have cover this in the last article submitted.

      1. I might add, regarding CW, there are programs for your computer to allow you to send and recieve CW, morse code and over a hundred other digital modes through your HF or VHF etc radios if you’re not inclined to learn code, then at least get on line and add the modes to your computer, and insure you have a good interface unit to connect your radio to the computer. HAM RADIO OUTLET has these devices available, if your not able to construct one yourself. SIGNAL LINK is just one brand available, I have a different unit connected to my IC-857, but if your running a different radio, insure you order the correct interface cable for you set.

  12. Well, it is still questionable as to if the UV5R’s are unlawful or not. If you are a ham, and I’ve been one since I was 13. Now 72, so it’s been a while, I remember converting all kinds of old military radios from the frequencies they were designed for to the ham bands, of course, they were crystal controlled back then. the URC-4 an example, it was an old survival radio and some of the other old radios that were around when I was a kid.
    Later the Icom IC-2AT and the series of radios came out, some were made to convert to MARS, or CAP frequencies, but the radios were designed to work within the HAM bands only. Unless you removed a solder bridge on them work out of the Ham band. Yes according to the FCC these radios, and I have quite a few, and I will be selling them at the up coming Rickreal ham fest in October, maybe under the table, but so far, if your a licensed ham, and intend to use them in the HAM bands then there is no law against a HAM using what ever radio they have within the HAM BANDS. There are all kinds of other radios out there that have similar capabilities and there is no issue with them. I don’t understand the FCC’s issue except the radios are so cheap they can be purchased for as low as $22.00 in quantities some are type approved, and some are not.

  13. The problem with the Baofeng radios is that they were “wide open” and would transmit/receive from 136-174 MHz. But Baofeng submitted them for FCC approval as Part 90 business band radios. The FCC finally realized that their transmit frequency range far exceeded the frequencies allocated for Part 90 operation. They could transmit on Marine frequencies (Part 80), Aviation frequencies (Part 87), FRS and GMRS (Part 95) in addition to others. Plus they could be programmed using the buttons on the front panel, which violates the restrictions of Part 90.203g. So with that last violation, they weren’t even legal for Part 90 operation. So the FCC finally revoked their type certification (previously called “type acceptance”). Since hams can use any type of radio on the ham bands (as long as it meets the technical requirements in Part 97) the Baofengs were fine for Amateur Radio operation. It took the FCC years to finally realize what was going on and to ban the radios from being imported. Many of the previous importers knew the FCC regulations and knew the Baofengs did not comply with the regulations, so they covered their butts with statements in fine print such as “It is the responsibility of the radio operator to ensure they are operating in compliance with all FCC regulations.” At the time it was not illegal to sell or purchase the radios. The requirement was on the person using them to be licensed and in compliance with the FCC regulations. It is somewhat similar to when you buy a car. The dealer doesn’t care if you have a driver’s license – that’s your problem. The dealer only cares about your money being good. Once you drive off the dealer’s lot, it is on YOU to be properly licensed to drive on the streets. As the vehicle operator or the radio operator, it is up to you to be in compliance with the regulations.

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