Idiot newbie needs advice

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Murphy625

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Hi Folks,
The wife and I recently realized how ridiculously unprepared we are for any kind of national disaster.. To that end, we've decided to invest a bit into making some preparations.

I'm looking to purchase a ham radio.. I'm an electrical engineer but I don't know jack squat about amateur radio's..

So I'm looking for advice.. I don't plan to actually use the radio until I see zombies walking around (that was a joke).. at which time I will figure out how to use it via my stored library of documents.

So with that in mind, if you were going to purchase a ham radio that would allow you to communicate with others on a national and local level, what equipment would you purchase? I plan on storing it in a multi-layered Faraday cage.

I don't want something cheap, but I'm not looking for a Rolls Royce either.. A nice "do it all" radio from a respected manufacturer that is well known for quality.

Perhaps some suggestions on a base unit, a mobile (car) unit, and a handheld unit?

Thank you,
 

wrath

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Out of the current stock or radios for mobile and base I would say Shack in a box with the icom 7100 which are on sale most places about now for $850 , for a handheld I would go with the Kenwood 74a as it does dstar digital as well as tactical ops with APRS , built in TNC & GPS , the 74a will also allow you to go both digital and analog simplex with your mobile or base as well as use it via repeaters and has the whole world on HF. Put a screwdriver type Antena on the mobile for HF and a decent 5/8 wave antenna for 2/70 cm, and call it done .

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk
 

toastycookies

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Yaesu FT-857D would give you a decent rig that'd do HF 6/2/70cm.

But good luck trying to use any type of radio for an emergency if you've never used it before, you won't get very far.
 

Murphy625

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Yaesu FT-857D would give you a decent rig that'd do HF 6/2/70cm.

But good luck trying to use any type of radio for an emergency if you've never used it before, you won't get very far.
Won't get very far? Why is that? I understand that operating a ham radio legally and keeping within the laws will require study time to become educated in the practice, but I'm not talking about that type of "its my hobby" situation. I am not interested at getting a license and becoming a radio operator.

In what preppers call a "SHTF" situation, I want to fire it up and be able to listen to what's being said about whatever national emergency is happening and to be able to call for help if my life depended on it.. or at the very least share information.

Lets face it, when the zombies are walking around the streets, federal FCC laws won't mean anything.

So, beyond the obvious hurdle of being legal, are you suggesting that I will have technical difficulties transmitting or receiving at some useful level that serves my purpose?

What am I missing or don't understand?
 

Murphy625

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Feb 11, 2017
Messages
185
Out of the current stock or radios for mobile and base I would say Shack in a box with the icom 7100 which are on sale most places about now for $850 , for a handheld I would go with the Kenwood 74a as it does dstar digital as well as tactical ops with APRS , built in TNC & GPS , the 74a will also allow you to go both digital and analog simplex with your mobile or base as well as use it via repeaters and has the whole world on HF. Put a screwdriver type Antena on the mobile for HF and a decent 5/8 wave antenna for 2/70 cm, and call it done .

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk
What kind of range is to be expected from a handheld unit? And are these handhelds delicate like smart phones or a bit more robust like walkie talkies ?
 

ka3aaa

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don't forget to get your license so you can use your ham radio legally otherwise you might get into some trouble that you don't want.
 

eaf1956

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don't forget to get your license so you can use your ham radio legally otherwise you might get into some trouble that you don't want.
I believe he feels that when/if he needs to use the radio that there won't be any government left for rules and law. Just a lone survivalist here and there. Who would care about license operators when you are alone in the world.

Of course, who would be left to talk to?
 

N4GIX

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So, beyond the obvious hurdle of being legal, are you suggesting that I will have technical difficulties transmitting or receiving at some useful level that serves my purpose?

What am I missing or don't understand?
In a time of disorder such as your hypothetical SHTF event, having radio discipline will become even more critical. You can own the most sophisticated equipment in the world, but if you don't know how, who, and when to communicate, said equipment is worthless.

What you are missing is that in order to obtain and maintain such radio discipline will require actually learning to become a good communicator, among many other things.

Among those "many other things" is testing your equipment on a regular (at least monthly) basis by participating in controlled nets on multiple frequencies. Listening only will not provide any kind of validation that your equipment is working properly!
 

k6cpo

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San Diego, CA
Hi Folks,
The wife and I recently realized how ridiculously unprepared we are for any kind of national disaster.. To that end, we've decided to invest a bit into making some preparations.

I'm looking to purchase a ham radio.. I'm an electrical engineer but I don't know jack squat about amateur radio's..

So I'm looking for advice.. I don't plan to actually use the radio until I see zombies walking around (that was a joke).. at which time I will figure out how to use it via my stored library of documents.

So with that in mind, if you were going to purchase a ham radio that would allow you to communicate with others on a national and local level, what equipment would you purchase? I plan on storing it in a multi-layered Faraday cage.

I don't want something cheap, but I'm not looking for a Rolls Royce either.. A nice "do it all" radio from a respected manufacturer that is well known for quality.

Perhaps some suggestions on a base unit, a mobile (car) unit, and a handheld unit?

Thank you,
Do you really think you're going to have time to sit down with a manual and learn how to operate a radio when you're in the middle of a catastrophe? Good luck with that. In an emergency, operating any equipment you need to survive should be second nature. Are you going to learn how to fuel and start your generator under emergency conditions? Are you going to learn how to shoot when the bad guys come for you?

It's the same with a radio. Having a license will allow you to practice with your radios without running afoul of the government. That way you will be ready.

You said you're an electrical engineer. Getting a ham license should be a snap for you. A little study on rules and procedures and you would be ready. You already have all the radio theory you'll ever need.

Another possible alternative for you would be GMRS. It has similarities to ham radio, but a single license will cover your entire immediate family and there is no test. Just pay the fee and the license is yours. Unfortunately, the cost is higher (around $65) than getting an amateur license.
 

Murphy625

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Thanks for the replies everyone! Great information and point taken about being proficient with it before an emergency requires its use.
 

Murphy625

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Do you really think you're going to have time to sit down with a manual and learn how to operate a radio when you're in the middle of a catastrophe? Good luck with that. In an emergency, operating any equipment you need to survive should be second nature. Are you going to learn how to fuel and start your generator under emergency conditions? Are you going to learn how to shoot when the bad guys come for you?
Point taken.. I don't consider the ham radio to be something that would be immediately required. In my geolocation, not much happens.. We don't get hurricanes, earthquakes, or even large tornadoes or floods...
I'm mostly concerned with EMP.. bet it solar or nuclear, that causes long term and wide spread power outages.
So in short, yes, I believe I will have plenty of time to learn how to turn the thing on and use it.

It's the same with a radio. Having a license will allow you to practice with your radios without running afoul of the government. That way you will be ready.

You said you're an electrical engineer. Getting a ham license should be a snap for you. A little study on rules and procedures and you would be ready. You already have all the radio theory you'll ever need.

Another possible alternative for you would be GMRS. It has similarities to ham radio, but a single license will cover your entire immediate family and there is no test. Just pay the fee and the license is yours. Unfortunately, the cost is higher (around $65) than getting an amateur license.
Thank your very much for your opinion.. it is not taken lightly and I will have to give what you say some serious consideration.
 
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The best transceiver would be worthless without an efficient antenna to connect it to. In order to select suitable antennas requires some study and research followed by actual on the air testing. Setting up a successful radio station is something you want to do in a vacuum. As an EE passing the General Class exam will be a cake walk. Then visit a ham radio dealer and do your research, maybe take in a hamfest or 2. You will get some basic knowledge on which bands propagate best at what distances. A lot of practical information will certainly enhance your endeavor.
 

KC4RAF

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Solar EMPs occur once in a while and do disrupt radio communications to a degree. Now if you're talking about a nuclear EMP, then YOU are in a world of sh#$t, along with others in that area. And you ain't gonna have time to learn how to program your transceiver. But the EMP, if close enough will damage the transceivers' inner circuit, thus rendering it useless.
 

wrath

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464
What kind of range is to be expected from a handheld unit? And are these handhelds delicate like smart phones or a bit more robust like walkie talkies ?
Well this HT is pretty hardy , and you can using simplex with an after market comet antenna get a couple of miles from the base or mobile and make that say 30 miles if working through a repeater , this particular HT also has a third band at 220 megahertz , so it will also receive on the military air band , you can also disconnect the rubber duck and hook it to an HF dipole and recieve the entire HF band down to 1.8 kilohertz , your Shack in a box radios for house and car can transmit there , so it's a great radio ,I use it with the military digital mic that Kenwood puts on its public safety and military gear waterproof dust proof ,good mic.

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk
 

Murphy625

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Messages
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Solar EMPs occur once in a while and do disrupt radio communications to a degree. Now if you're talking about a nuclear EMP, then YOU are in a world of sh#$t, along with others in that area. And you ain't gonna have time to learn how to program your transceiver. But the EMP, if close enough will damage the transceivers' inner circuit, thus rendering it useless.
When I consider solar EMP's, I'm thinking "Carrington Event" level.. which will pretty much fry the entire electrical grid.

I plan on storing the ham radio in a multi-layered Faraday cage. It will survive along with a laptop, digital library, a cb radio, battery charger(s), LED light chips, and several other items.

Here's some great info from a NASA engineer about EMP..
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/snapshot_ABradley.html
His name is Arthur T. Bradley, Ph.D and if you google him, you'll find out a lot about why I'm taking precautions..
His website: Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family: EMP & Solar
He has a nice facebook page too...

I'm not building underground fortified bunkers here.. Just making some small changes that won't affect much of anything. Having a good communications system is one..
 

K7MH

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Solar EMPs occur once in a while and do disrupt radio communications to a degree. Now if you're talking about a nuclear EMP, then YOU are in a world of sh#$t, along with others in that area. And you ain't gonna have time to learn how to program your transceiver. But the EMP, if close enough will damage the transceivers' inner circuit, thus rendering it useless.
And it probably won't have to be all that close with how sensitive the more current lines of transceivers are to that sort of thing. Usually older tube rigs would stand a much better chance of survival.
If you are in a world of sh#$t are you going to be able to sit around and play with a radio you have no familiarity with to get it to do what you want? There is a lot to understand about operating ham gear and how to use it to do what you want it to do and knowing what to expect from it in different situations. Programming a handheld 2 meter or dualband rig by hand is going to be very difficult with no familiarity with them. Everyone almost universally hates hand programming the $35 Baofeng handhelds!

It is all not as simple as a 23 or 40 channel CB radio to operate. Which would actually be a better bet for a prepper kind of guy. Easy for ANYONE to operate and put up an antenna for. Better for what is going on locally which would be you primary concern. LOTS of them still around and people that use them as well, very inexpensive too. Although I have PLENTY of ham radio gear of all sorts after some 45 years, I would want an old 23 channel tube CB with sideband and a somewhat newer 40 channel rig with sideband that is not all surface mount component design.
 

KK4JUG

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Won't get very far? Why is that? I understand that operating a ham radio legally and keeping within the laws will require study time to become educated in the practice, but I'm not talking about that type of "its my hobby" situation. I am not interested at getting a license and becoming a radio operator.

In what preppers call a "SHTF" situation, I want to fire it up and be able to listen to what's being said about whatever national emergency is happening and to be able to call for help if my life depended on it.. or at the very least share information.

Lets face it, when the zombies are walking around the streets, federal FCC laws won't mean anything.

So, beyond the obvious hurdle of being legal, are you suggesting that I will have technical difficulties transmitting or receiving at some useful level that serves my purpose?

What am I missing or don't understand?
Everything you need to know will be on commercial radio and/or TV;

If you're not concerned with FCC regulations, don't bother with ham radios. Find out what frequencies the public safety agencies are using and get transceivers for them.
 

Murphy625

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Everything you need to know will be on commercial radio and/or TV;

If you're not concerned with FCC regulations, don't bother with ham radios. Find out what frequencies the public safety agencies are using and get transceivers for them.
So what make and model of ham radio do you recommend? I would prefer a fully functional unit that isn't restricted to just a few government frequencies.
 
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