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You communications guys use these alphabet soup terms that mean something to you. But without Google the rest of us don't have a clue. Even with Google, we end up understanding model numbers and cost (astronomical usually), but that gets us no closer to understanding where to begin.

Does anyone want to take a crack at helping your average totally ignorant prepper learn the minimum requirements for local communications in case of emergency?

If I want to use a handheld, what is a good one to start with? Are the store bought two way radios a waste of money?
Why wouldn't a CB be enough?
What if I want a bare bones basic base station? What should it consist of?
Can I put an antenna in my attic? Would it help me get a better signal from EMS?

Help us out with the basics...
 

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I would start off with getting a ham radio licence. If you want to cheat like I did. Then you might be able to find a decent one from eBay. This is were I bought mine. I did hack it so i can use all the channels i need. This will widen your channel selections and cover you for most of the frequencies. Now with digital age I don't know what the prices are like. I personally would not get one right now because when shtf I don't think it will work, but might Most ebayers won't question about licences.

I do have a marine and air licence, but no ham licence yet. :wink:

For a base station you might try the same idea as above. They do have some deals there but you have to look hard.

As for the antenna placement it should be placed outside on a pole and not in the attic because when you transmit the transmitting power leaves your body exposed to the dangerous output power and signal path might not reach the repeater.

If you want info on this I can help out.
 

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If your roof is at a steep enough angle you can place an inverted V antenna on it with some stand-offs and it is practically invisible. Antennas are very susceptible to EMP and that can damage your system. The best way around that is to have a mast based antenna that is kept retracted until you need to use it. The casing that the antenna is lowered into will have to be protected but that can be taken care of with aluminum electrical conduit of different sizes and PVC pipe of different sizes.

Hand held devices have limited range because they rely on repeaters that might not be working after any SHTF event. CB radios have a range of between 1 and 5 miles depending on the terrain and the antenna you are using. I am thinking that 80 meter band will be the most efficient for communications in a SHTF event simply because it is (or was for years) used in search and rescue. The drawback to 80 meter band is the antenna but there are ways around that too.

Bear in mind that I won't be transmitting - only receiving and that makes a big difference in antenna placement and type.
 

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while I am an expert in military field communications that equipent is essentially unattainable for you but.

A friend of mine hooked me up with a couple motorolas but they have civilian crypto and are able to attach a jungle antenna Id look at the model numbers for ya but sadly they are back in the states still.
I would say start with something that has Crypto or anyone could listen in to your transmissions its important because with the right equipment you can find someone with just one radio and if they can understand what you are saying they can determine if your are an easy target or if your vulnerable in some way. Directional Finders are quite easy to make I beleive a couple are fairly inexpensive too.
 

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Ham Radio for Dummies
H. Ward Silver
April 23, 2004

I'm in the same boat as you. I don't speak radio, so I picked up this book. Available at amazon... HERE

I found a site that has all the practice questions for the HAM tests... HERE
 

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Modern ham radio has incredible potential including packets and television broadcast via direct satellite link. Packets are information -- think "internet" for radio.

I'm still in the learning phase myself and second the Ham for Dummies book. Great resource. One can listen without license so go for it. I picked up a Baofeng 5a from Amazon for $35, added a better ducky antenna and am learning to tune stations on multiple bands. Used it last night for weather reports. Radio pucks up weather band, plus local storm watchers, plus regular FM radio so makes for a dandy emergency unit.
 

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I too want to learn Ham. Currently I have a couple of Motorola T5950 GMRS/FRS radios that live in my bag. Funny thing is I play paintball and I was just given a Cobra MR HH425 with lapel mic since we use a marine channel for team communications, well I set our channel for the last game I played in July and forgot it. Well I just pulled it out of my gear bag and was looking it over and realized it not only does US/Intr/Can marine, and Weather but also does GMRS, no FRS, but still pretty cool. I got a Uniden Bearcat 980SSB CB on order for the truck to replace my old radio.
 
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