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Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
28 March 2013, 21:29,
#1
Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation

Comms in a Power-Grid Down Situation


Congratulations! You studied hard, passed your exams, and you're now the proud owner of an amateur radio "general class" license or the UK equivalent thereof, and a brand new call-sign. You even dropped several thousand pounds (don't tell the wife) on that big (Kenwood/Icom/Yaesu - take your pick) all-band base-station transceiver which sits proudly on the desk in your "ham shack", with wires running to your antenna, antenna tuner, amplifier, computer interface, and computer. In fact, it looks like Chef Gordon Ramsey dumped a pot of pasta on your desk with all the wires going hither and thither. Unfortunately, only one wire makes the whole rig work - the power cord from the surge protector plugged into the wall.

Fast forward a few hours/days/weeks/months - your guess is as good as mine. For whatever reason (government, terrorists, Hurricane Gotcha, tornado, earthquake, ice-storm, etc.) that plug into the wall carries no power, because the power grid is down. Now what do you do? Well, if you're in this situation, probably not much. You're the proud owner of a high-priced boat anchor.

But if you're still in a position to change things before the SHTG (S*** Hits The Grid), you can set up a rig now so that SHTG will be but a minor inconvenience in your communications needs.

First, rather than the big and expensive "base" transceiver, look into the portable or mobile transceivers available. These don't look as impressive as the big rigs out there, but still can sit on a desk, and with the addition of a power supply, can plug into the wall for power. What these portables can do is run off a 12 volt auto battery. In fact most come with mounting brackets which can be pre-mounted in your "bug-out" vehicle of choice. Add a mobile antenna and moving your rig from desktop to vehicle becomes a matter of unplugging and replugging, with a few screws to secure the radio to the bracket. Ideally, the rig you pick will have a built-in antenna tuner so you have one less piece of gear to move, mount, and power.

If you're planning to "bug in", then life becomes even simpler. Just park your "bug-in" vehicle outside a convenient window and run a power cable from the battery terminals directly to the rig. You can also use a separate 12 volt car battery hooked to a solar charging panel, or a small sine-wave gasoline generator placed under the window as well. Remember, it takes a whole lot less power to listen than to transmit, and most rigs' transmitting power can be adjusted from 100 watts or so down to 5 watts in 5 watt increments. Transmitting at low power with a directional beam antenna pointed at the station you're talking to decreases the possibility that your conversation will "go viral", to mix a metaphor. Amateur radio is by no means "secure communications" but there's no reason to shout when a whisper will do.

It's obvious that just because the SHTG doesn't mean that your communications ability has to be compromised. Just pick your equipment carefully!
If at first you don't secede, try, try again!
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28 March 2013, 21:37,
#2
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
We have it all sorted we hope,... we have two hand held sets, and a mobile set in Faraday cages, together with the 40 watt solar panel to charge them.
A major part of survival is invisibility.
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29 March 2013, 05:21,
#3
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
Good post Jonas,

Here we have only mobile and hand portable transceivers, and sufficient Solar and hand crank generators to power them.

We generally work only on Low power (less than 10w), this gives us practice of operating methods for planned grid-down situations. In particular 2 and 5 w Morse only transceivers have proven very effective.

Very good point about beam antennas, we use them on VHF and UHF but find them too conspicuous on HF. Nearest we get to a beam on HF is a Moxon vertical for 20m, and this is used portable only....and it still draws a lot more attention than a simple end fed or dipole.
72 de

Lightspeed
26-SUKer-17

26-TM-580


STATUS: Bugged-In at the Bug-Out
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29 March 2013, 10:15,
#4
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
i'm not technically minded, so have decided to give comms a miss but, a few things spring to mind, post SHTF who are you trying to contact? could someone triangulate your signal and locate your position, like the Germans did in occupied Europe in WW2? if only for local use wouldnt a short range walkie talkie be sufficient?
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29 March 2013, 18:41,
#5
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
(29 March 2013, 10:15)bigpaul Wrote: i'm not technically minded, so have decided to give comms a miss but, a few things spring to mind, post SHTF who are you trying to contact? could someone triangulate your signal and locate your position, like the Germans did in occupied Europe in WW2? if only for local use wouldnt a short range walkie talkie be sufficient?

This is a good question BP, and I'll try to answer it completely. As an example, I'll use a mythical "zombie uprising" as the SHTF event, but you can apply this to pretty much any scenario.

First of all, I want to be listening. I know a bunch of folks who are amateur operators scattered through the US, Canada, and Mexico and if anything untoward is going on in their areas from 200 to 2000 miles away from me, (like a zombie uprising) I'd like to know about it. People don't have to be amateur radio operators to listen, just have a battery-powered short-wave radio receiver with single side-band capability. These can be purchased online for about $100 US.

Secondly, if there are zombies here in Deep East Texas, I'm sure these ham operator friends would like to know that, and which way the zombie hoards are headed. To get that information out I'll be using the AmmRON communications plan from TAPRN, which should be downloaded and printed out from the internet.

Third, yes, when I transmit, my signal can be "triangulated" but tracing a HF SSB signal given the number of frequencies available (this isn't CB with 40 channels) is extremely difficult, though not impossible. HF covers 8 bands with literally thousands of options for different frequencies, different modes (AM, AM SSB, FM, Morse Code) plus several "data modes" which cover several different computer-generated modes that use a very narrow bandwidth and are sent very quickly (think of email without the internet). By transmitting on 5 or 10 watts rather than my usual 100 watt output and using a directional beam antenna pointed directly at the station I want to contact, I'll be pretty hard to find.

Fourth, hand-held CB's and such have a very limited power and are generally considered "line of sight" range although freak atmospheric conditions may on occasion make longer ranges possible.

It really comes down to what are you comfortable with for gathering information for your family's safety in a "zombie uprising". If you want to know what's going on a block or two away, then your hand-held CB transceivers will work fine, all things considered. If you want to know if the "zombies" have arrived at the French coast and are starting to swim across the Channel, or if Canada or Austrailia are still safe to move to, then you need to be able to listen to HF short wave. If you want to send information to your sister in Wales or cousin in Canada, then you need an amateur radio license and a HF transceiver.

I'm not "technically minded" either (my college major was history with a minor in English), but it took me about a month of online studying to get my "technician" license, another two months to get my "general-class" license and about 3 months more to get my "amateur-extra" ticket. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone on this board can do it!

For more information head to the Radio Society of Great Britain http://www.rsgb.org/

Good luck and get going, BP. Somehow I don't think we've got a lot of time left. The "zombies" have already cleaned out Cyprus!
If at first you don't secede, try, try again!
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29 March 2013, 18:50,
#6
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
I dont have coms, once I get myself sorted its something I will invest in
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29 March 2013, 18:56,
#7
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
i dont think i want anything that i can send with, but i would like something i could monitor with, we used to be able to get old portable radios in this country you could hear Police band traffic on but since the radios all went digital i dont think that is possible any more, i bought myself a cheapo battery radio just to get the news on-got a wind up one for when the power goes off.
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29 March 2013, 19:54,
#8
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
BP, you need a world band wind up radio,.. I have one, they are quiet cheep to buy and [mine] works well
A major part of survival is invisibility.
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30 March 2013, 09:52,
#9
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
(29 March 2013, 19:54)Highlander Wrote: BP, you need a world band wind up radio,.. I have one, they are quiet cheep to buy and [mine] works well

OK HL, thanks for that.
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30 March 2013, 16:48,
#10
RE: Comms in a Power-Grid Down Sitation
BP, the criteria for a SW radio for listening is single side-band capability. Without that, listening to amateur radio will let you listen in to a lot of conversations that sound like ducks quacking back and forth - entertaining for a short time perhaps, but not understandable.
If at first you don't secede, try, try again!
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