Prepper Forum / Survivalist Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My girlfriend and I live about 50 miles apart. I would like to have a way to communicate when the shtf, but I have a fairly strict budget of both time and money.

From what I've read so far, HAM seems like the most viable option for serious prepping, but truthfully at this point it doesn't seem like a viable option for us.

Are 2 way radios even worth investing in? I read somewhere most of the cheapies won't work when SHTF. You can get a decent pair with a 30 mile range on Amazon for a reasonable price, but I don't want to bother if they won't work.

Thanks for your insights.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,123 Posts
Over time I've bought three pairs of FRS/GMRS two way radios. I usually get the higher end Motorola or Uniden ones that advertise 20 to 30 miles. Understanding that is under ideal circumstances, here is how mine perform.

I live in Phoenix - the desert.
I have a two story house.
My daughter sits on the back upstairs deck so she has a fair amount of elevation.
The road that leads away from the back of my house goes uphill.
There are some small trees but for the most part we are line of sight with each other and MINIMAL obstacles.
I can walk a half mile before I lose signal.

No power lines or any other source of interference around.
How can they be this bad?

At this point, I have absolutely ZERO faith in the FRS/GMRS products. I want a 300 Watt HAM in the house and a 75 watt HAM in the car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,817 Posts
Range on these pretty much suck, to be short and sweet. At 50 miles range...your are pretty much stuck with HAM or cell phones/Text Toy. Even with the higher end radios the police use, without a repeater/relay the range aint all that great and those radios cost several hundred dollars each! Where the radios your talking about are best is short range comms when your out of sight but only a couple of miles away. Your comms are not private and they are very susceptible to jamming and interference. Think folks aint listening in, guess again! I do some tournament fishing on our lake and we use them hunting and we talk in code (or another lauguage) otherwise I will have about 10 boats crowding in on me at a spot where I have picked up on a good pattern that's producing in a matter of minutes! And these are just tournaments with very modest pay outs to the winning 5 fish stringer! So something to also consider...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,478 Posts
I have a Cobra CB that will get out 50 miles,, It has a rfx-75 booster added on 105 watts
that's with a good antenna.
It's for emergency use only due to where I live. If there is a storm and all the lines are down I
can reach the city,, They can hear me but I can't hear them.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,478 Posts
I have the large Wilson antenna, Cobra radio with the frx-75 booster.,,,,,, Is it legal? "NOPE" that's why it's put back for an emergency.

"Amateur Radio was designed to be used by knowledgeable people who are trained in the art of communications."

I may be a red neck but I think I can operate a CB Radio I might even be able to hook up the two wires.

Something to conciser there a ton of CB radios already out there. When TSHTF communications are going to be non existent.
At night the signal from a CB radio can skip for hundred of miles. (just like an AM radio) Might be a good way of getting news that is true.
Anything that is on the radio or TV (if you have a generator) are you going to beleave it?
An all you need for Power is a car battery or any 12 volt source.
CB with a booster --------$175
antenna (Wilson 1000) $100 That"s for basic stuff if you get a directional antenna you could put out way past 50 miles
But I don't know much about those

I don't think a licence will be necessary after TSHTf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,123 Posts
Bo-Duke... Is it possible to disconnect the antenna on a FRS/GMRS radio and get a better antenna? I think that might be half my problem with them. And I'd like a base unit GMRS so a permanent antenna on the roof would be OK. I don't mind the $85 for the license if the technology works, but I'm not shucking out that kind of scratch for crap tech.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,595 Posts
Bo-Duke... Is it possible to disconnect the antenna on a FRS/GMRS radio and get a better antenna? I think that might be half my problem with them. And I'd like a base unit GMRS so a permanent antenna on the roof would be OK. I don't mind the $85 for the license if the technology works, but I'm not shucking out that kind of scratch for crap tech.
GMRS radios operate at fairly high frequencies so they really don't need a long antenna. A 1/8 wave antenna on a GMRS (between 462 mz - 467 mz ) is only about 75 mm long where as an 1/8 wave length on a CB would be around 1300 mm I am not sure what you would gain from a base station GMRS except that it would plug into a wall outlet instead of using batteries but they are both limited to 5 Watt max output.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,218 Posts
Just like firearms or tools of any kind, you need a variety of communications devices. You need something for long distance like amateur, and something short for communications between hunters, etc. Having something for in between would be nice too. I even have a set of WWII army wired phones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,086 Posts
CB radios - operated legally - will not likely get two way communication over more than a few miles - depending on the height of your antenna and the terrain of your location. If you are good at making antennas and you have someone you want to communicate with you could use a dipole or rhombic antenna to extend your unidirectional range but that, again, would depend on the terrain.

Back in the mid 1970's we tested our "base station" in the city and found that it would not reliably go five miles from one hilltop to another. There was just too much interference. On the water or out in the country that might be different. The right antenna for your situation might make a big difference but you are still limited to the power of your radio. De-tuning a ten meter linear amp to operate with your CB used to be a hot way to get more range by running 100 to 200 watts but unless it is properly tuned you will get so much bleed over that you might as well be transmitting wide band over several channels. (anyone with a radio or TV could listen in) I used to be able to hear my neighbor broadcasting over my TV when it was off - well it was an instant on TV that was never really completely off - but I could hear everything he was transmitting. We had several talks about it and he finally fixed the problem (for me) by re-positioning his "Moon-Raker" antenna.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
Overall it really depends what type of emergency you are preparing for. Different emergencies will have different ways of communicating.

I recommend doing the HAM traiining having a knowledge of electronics and principles of radio communications can be useful.

I think though that airwaves will be really full in the event of an emergency.

Generally speaking the lower the frequency the better luck you can have sending it.

CB is a general go to in terms of price, however, due to output limits, you might get by with a base station. I'm not sure of the ERP with tower height but if you have a really high gain antenna like a quad - that is having 4 different points for an array in a closed direction that is you point your antenna to her and she points her antenna to you making it a nearly unidirectional link you can increase your gain. With height and antenna band focus, you might be able to boost the signal sufficiently. You may go for a full band antenna design. There are some FRS style handhelds that say like 50 miles but I am skeptical of that. With HAM there are a lot of considerations in general however with 1000-1500 watts of output that is quite a bit of power

There are other options but may take some more skill. FOr instance if you can get good with the raspberry pi there are systems such as WSPR which are low power long distance transmission systems.

There are lots of potentials. You could try to set up a microwave link or a repeater or a number of repeaters. In general however the input price will probably be around $1000 for a bonified ham radio and antenna if not more. You can find them for less, CB radios and a linear amplifier as shown above might do the trick, but you are also limited to what you can talk about on a ham radio, rag chewing can be a little limited and there are restrictions.

There are other means of communications but I suggest you contact the FCC and ask them for suggestions on what is the best option for that distance.

It is a bit beyond the scope of this post to discus low power long distance digital transmissions in this thread.
http://hackaday.com/2013/03/21/wspr-transmitter-shows-true-value-of-raspberry-pi-for-hacking/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
I have the large Wilson antenna, Cobra radio with the frx-75 booster.,,,,,, Is it legal? "NOPE" that's why it's put back for an emergency.

"Amateur Radio was designed to be used by knowledgeable people who are trained in the art of communications."

I may be a red neck but I think I can operate a CB Radio I might even be able to hook up the two wires.

Something to conciser there a ton of CB radios already out there. When TSHTF communications are going to be non existent.
At night the signal from a CB radio can skip for hundred of miles. (just like an AM radio) Might be a good way of getting news that is true.
Anything that is on the radio or TV (if you have a generator) are you going to beleave it?
An all you need for Power is a car battery or any 12 volt source.
CB with a booster --------$175
antenna (Wilson 1000) $100 That"s for basic stuff if you get a directional antenna you could put out way past 50 miles
But I don't know much about those

I don't think a licence will be necessary after TSHTf
He was right with what he said about Amateur Radio. Don't take this personally, but there is a lot more to it than being able to hook two wire together, or just hooking your Wilson antenna up and making it work. What if that Wilson isn't tuned properly? The radio will not get out near as far as it could if someone knew how to tune the antenna.

Ham radio has different bands you can use, for all types of communication distances. Try vhf or uhf for local stuff, try 10 meters through 20 meters during the day for around the world comms, try 40 meters or 80 meters during the day for regional comms, try 80 meters or 160 meters at night for regional comms.

I'm not trying to sound harsh here, but getting into ham radio now, before tshtf, could give people some valuable training on how to set up a radio, ham or CB, properly and making it work to the best of its abilities.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,078 Posts
Consider also, marine band radios. 25 watts, FM, higher freq, better range, clearer sound. Many handhelds have settings for 1, 5 and even 10 watts. If one of the communicators is on the water you're good to go.

It is illegal now to use them for land based comms, but if TEOTWAWKI happens, who cares?
Be warned, some truckers got this idea for the road and got busted around Atlanta a couple years back. Also a trend to use 10 meters has been noticed by the FCC.
FCC Warns Trucking Firms About Alleged Unlicensed 10-Meter Operation:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,078 Posts
Well, I guess we'll all just forget 2-way radio then since we're to dumb to handle it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,115 Posts
So after reading all this and seeing what great experts and knowledge has been given what would be the recommended form of communication setup one would invest in setting of a coms center for their home in case the SHTF scenario...
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
9,674 Posts
So after reading all this and seeing what great experts and knowledge has been given what would be the recommended form of communication setup one would invest in setting of a coms center for their home in case the SHTF scenario...
To keep things simple, the point of doing this before the SHTF is to become familiar with your equipment. As stated earlier, you need to know how to operate your gear. Just trying to hook this up and push the talk button could cause the factory installed smoke to be released. This can be fatal to your equipment.

That being said, ham is not that complicated. If you get with a ham club in your area you will find those willing to share their knowledge. We call these people Elmers. Yes we have our elitists too but not all of us are that way. I am not an electronics expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have friends who are though. I have been a ham for over 20 yrs. We each have our own area of expertise. Whether you are an expert or not, every radio is different and you need to know how to operate it. My equipment runs from expensive to cheap. Yes I own a Baofeng handheld. Each piece of gear I own has a purpose. First you need to think about what you want to accomplish. What do you want to do with it?

In the beginning it's hard to decide what to get because you don't really know how the equipment works. One way to figure this out is to get with a ham. Check out his or her equipment and they can show you how to operate it. My equipment has been bought over a period of years and not all at once. It took me a long time to figure out what features I like and what I didn't like. For instance I personally don't like Yeasu's wires feature. That won't mean anything to you right now but it was just meant as an example.

Every year the ham community has 2 major events to promote our hobby, Field Day and JOTA. JOTA is jamboree on the air and is a Boy Scout event. Both of these events are designed to attract people to our hobby. At one point the hobby hit an all time low. Few were attracted to ham radio. Thankfully that ended.

I didn't mean to get this long winded but I don't want you to get discouraged or turned off. There is help available and many who are willing to teach you and guide you in your quest. If I can help let me know. There are a number of hams on this board that I know are willing to help too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,004 Posts
Ham radio has different bands you can use, for all types of communication distances. Try vhf or uhf for local stuff, try 10 meters through 20 meters during the day for around the world comms, try 40 meters or 80 meters during the day for regional comms, try 80 meters or 160 meters at night for regional comms.

I'm not trying to sound harsh here, but getting into ham radio now, before tshtf, could give people some valuable training on how to set up a radio, ham or CB, properly and making it work to the best of its abilities.
This is a topic that I am becoming increasingly interested in. I have already pretty much concluded that in a long-term grid down scenario, the HAM system will be the most reliable for communicating with the good guys. This is one portable that I am considering:

Be sure to read all the reviews to get a good idea on the capabilities of this radio:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...htfcomms2716-20&link_code=as3&creative=373489

One of the things I like about this radio is that you can power it up with AA batteries in emergency situations. Many hand-held radios today don't have that option.

I know nothing about HAM. I have a neighbor buddy who has been involved in HAM for many decades and I am going to go pick his brain. Find out what is involved in getting a license. Then I will purchase this unit and become intimately familiar with it. It will then go in my bug-out bag.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,940 Posts
I know jack crap about radios, after the cheap prc 77 I was introduced to Singcars or whatever. I know enough to say that Hamm has always been reliable and Cb would be next, Faraday cage must be in place at the moment of EMP though
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top