Hmm seen a lot of contradictory statements here according to what I know.
My HAM is a cool little device, no doubt. I was able to find a local repeater and key it in, it probably will reach up to 25 miles- covering my whole area. It will also let me listen in on police channels and other radio comms like weather band and FM. But since I got my ticket and call sign I have found that people who operate HAM radios are ASSHOLES! You should have heard this one guy me and Hank heard while testing our rigs...he started telling us he 'owned' that frequency and we better get off the air of he would get out his 'directional finding equipment' and come to our houses and have us arrested. We started laughing. He then starts cussing at us and called Hank a '******* without a license' (Hank is extra class) and I cut him off and reamed him fashionably. Hank is a guy so gentle and nice his honeybees will let him pick them up without trying to sting him. I'll be damned if someone talks like that my my best friend in front of me.
So after picking this bozo-nerd apart and telling him exactly what he was going to do to us, he gives up (having his bluff called out and laid flat) and goes 'you'll always be scum!' and goes silent. I mean to say that I have NEVER seen so many elitist snide asshats on one hobby. I have been scanning the repeaters and going around the channels, checking with local radio clubs and damn if every other one isn't an asshole. First of all, HAM is boring. Every second operator is some pocket protector oddball trying to be the airwave police, or some argumentative drunk who thinks it's a national debate outlet. All the former wants to do is call in "w4tgr, checking in" and vanish after the other confirms. NO talking seems to be the rule with most HAM operators. If the objective of HAM is just to briefly make contact and go onto the next station, that is plenty lame. Why would you buy 1200 dollars of HAM equipment to barely even use it? The price of almost all HAM equipment is beyond insane these days. It's hard to use, hard to manage and hard to find other signals. Hard to stand some of the people who run them, too. Now, I have had a couple good conversations while randomly scanning, such as a pair from Lockheed Martin who talked with me for about half an hour and they too agreed HAM radio is usually lame. I was telling them about the guy I mentioned and they assured me it was all too common to see that crap. It is. These people I guess have some elitism issues because they bought a 25 dollar license that is pathetically easy to get. It doesn't mean anything, it's too easy to think you're special. I HAVE a license and I'll be the first to tell you that it means absolutely nothing. If a ten year old can have a HAM lic. then it means nothing in all reality. It's all about the gov't getting money.
I saw a post above from our pal that made me laugh about getting arrested. Here's how this works.
The FCC will not, absolutely will not (proven fact) bust anyone. They can't. They have no legal authority over you but their very vaguely worded federal code. They CAN impose hefty fines to people they have in their hand with mounds of evidence and eyewitnesses (or ear witnesses) which rarely happens, or they send you a piece of paper saying to stop and just how angry they will get with you. It's useless for other HAM operators to track down your station with directional antennas (which is a long drawn out process) and only works when the offending operator is actively broadcasting for long periods of time. Even then, all the people who tracked it can do is tattle with the FCC and hope they send a piece of paper saying to please stop or they will get mad. The piece of paper is the worst that will happen. It's a joke.
Now, if you are running like 1000watts on ten meter band and splashing over onto nearby TV sets and car radios for long hours on end or disrupting police comms with your rig, yeah. They might come down and arrest your ass. And it would be the COPS, not the FCC because you were braking real laws. the FCC has had nothing to do with the last five people busted for doing something like that, and had no hand in anything including the tracking. If a large number of citizens complains to the FCC yes, they may find you and fine you if you are stupid like those 5 people nationwide over a ten year period (see what I'm getting at?) If a large number of other HAM operators complains to the FCC nothing will occur. It's the paper. The most recent person busted had an extremely powerful station and was jamming CA police and fire radio, threatening to bomb people, threatening the police captains and telling people she would blow them up while disguising her voice with a tone shifter and broadcasting 24/7. Wasn't long before the cops kicked her door in and had all the evidence they needed to convict. Rarely does that happen, and I mean rarely.
It is anarchy over these airwaves otherwise. HAM is just not what it used to be or was intended to be. the FCC takes tax money and sits lazily aside. It's snake oil is what they are. They HAVE no real function. As for THEM tracking you, won't happen. Other HAM operators will be the ones to find you and then it will still take some doing. And if they wind up trespassing they can get shot like any other man. What they will need to do is prove someone is in possession of, and actively using a HAM setup WITH facial identification AND other corroborating eyewitnesses or...when it gets to court (any court civil or criminal) the case gets thrown out for lack of prosecution evidence. Any fool cheap lawyer could run rings around what a few HAM operators and a soccer mom can bring to the stand. Without a giant antenna in the back yard or them being in the room and identifying you while doing it, the best evidence they have is circumstantial at best and this is precisely why the FCC will do nothing about it. Not to mention the moment you stop transmitting you are a ghost. If you are mobile like I am they cannot track you realistically. Triangulation doesn't work that way. And the people using directional antennas still have to find what area, what street, what house ect ect...the second you go quiet and stay quiet for awhile they lose the trail. I have seen guys on youtube running home made repeaters out in the woods and masking their facility's locations and the HAM clubbers have been looking for the last 2 years and have not been able to find them yet. The cops and FCC refuse to investigate.
The reality of HAM is that is has potential to be of great use to preppers, but it's really expensive and boring and the main part of HAM operators will not even let you talk over the airwaves. You'll deal with a lot of elitism, a lot of old dorks who are jerks and nitpicky people who absolutely know you don't have a license if you don't say your callsign after everything you say. Or you will deal with channel after channel of utter silence. My opinion? (which I respect)
Go shoot yourself in the foot with a 22. It's cheaper and less painful.