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Welcome, there has been several threads already, but I feel its always good though to start a new discussion for threads lost way down in the mix.

I'm a HAM Tech license, getting ready to go for the General on the 18th of this month. Doing some dual band with repeaters and some simplex with a HT with one contact logged about 15 miles on a Yaesu ft60r ht. I have a 160 meter HF antenna rig setup now (tree to tree) and a inverted "V" for simple 2 meter. Looking at a book to get to study called something "Stealth Amateur Radio" or something like that in order to operate anywhere. Next radio is going to be a Yaesu 857D.

73's!
 

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What exactly is a HAM radio? I don't think I've heard of one.
 

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What exactly is a HAM radio? I don't think I've heard of one.
A ham is an amateur radio operator. They are licensed by the FCC. The tag ham was given to amateur radio operators back in the 1920's if memory serves me correctly and it stuck. We call ourselves hams. Amateur radio was promoted by the government back then for emergency communications. We still do emergency communications. In the fiasco that Katrina brought, amateur radio was the only communications they had in and out. In fact there were members from our area there lending assistance. This is strictly volunteer. Ham radio operators train for this worldwide. Hurricanes, tornado's, wars, ham radio is there providing the needed communications.

I have been a ham for over 20yrs and have an extra class license. I went this direction after my wife said she would divorce me if I ever made her listen to a cb again.
 

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A ham is an amateur radio operator. They are licensed by the FCC. The tag ham was given to amateur radio operators back in the 1920's if memory serves me correctly and it stuck. We call ourselves hams. Amateur radio was promoted by the government back then for emergency communications. We still do emergency communications. In the fiasco that Katrina brought, amateur radio was the only communications they had in and out. In fact there were members from our area there lending assistance. This is strictly volunteer. Ham radio operators train for this worldwide. Hurricanes, tornado's, wars, ham radio is there providing the needed communications.

I have been a ham for over 20yrs and have an extra class license. I went this direction after my wife said she would divorce me if I ever made her listen to a cb again.
Thanks for the info!
 

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Other HAMS help me out here since I'm fairly new to this as well. Amateur radio, better known as HAM radio is a person that takes an exam and is issued by the FCC a license upon completion of passing a 35 question test. There are three different tests, with each passing providing you with a greater ability to transmit on different frequencies (Technician, General, and Extra class). Do not confuse CB's with HAM Radio BIG difference. CB or citizen band is available to the general public where anyone can transmit to someone with a limited range, thus in a SHTF scenario the bands that are common to the CBers are filled to the brim (Think 9/11 and what happened to cell phone usage). FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) are similar (Little hand helds you see at Walmart), which can span anywhere from 1 mile to 50 miles (Depending on obstructions, line of sight etc), but again can be filled with clutter in a SHTF scenario.

Right off the bat as a HAM radio operator you will want to try your communications on a repeater (Someone elses antenna/equipment) to transmit your signal/information to others that you cannot normally get without the use of the boost of power from the repeater. Thus making a 20 mile transmitting communications go another 20 miles in the opposite direction. If you do not use a repeater, then you will use a frequency that operates on simplex, which is one-to-one without the help or boost of a repeater. In a SHTF scenario, when the phone lines are dead, you will be able to use your HAM radio to get the status of any activity in your region while others cannot. Also, if you are participating in something called ARES (Amateur Radio Emergeny Service) within your local region, you will be able to assist with communications to others to provide support (Think of Skywarn NOAA Weather Tornado Spotter Alerts). During 9/11, Katrina, and Sandy, many HAM radio operators provided volunteer services to the area when communications were out. Usually from what I'm reading, they are some of the first ones on scene to setup and get communications going.

When you start getting into HF or High Frequency transmissions, you will have the ability to contact other stations around the world. For example, about a week ago, I put up a line antenna in one of my trees a HF antenna that allowed me to contact someone in Dominican Republic while I was in Kentucky simply buy using the ionsphere to bounce my signal to them. In a SHTF scenario, if something happens to your local state, then you will be able to contact other HAMS in different states to see what the status of a situation is.

With a HAM license, you will be able to transmit CW (Better known as Morse Code). Transmitting CW is using narrow bandwidth when you have poor band conditions and low power, it will still be effective in a disaster situation. And if you think about it, morse code has been around forever! One thing to note, you do not have to use Morse Code with your HAM license or take a test like you used to.

Some fun things to do with HAM radio is to contact the ISS (International Space Sation), or to do a moon bounce (Bouncing your voice off the moon and back to your receiver). You can also set your radio up to do packet modes which will send data to another station. I'm right now looking at something where you can send data to and from your radios and into laptop computers without the need for wireless. Great in a SHTF situation when actual files need to be sent!

In general, Amateur radio (HAM Radio) will be around when all other forms of communications go down. You might be able to be a hero, or feel like one at least if you are able to relay a distress message to a military or local emergency service during a disaster.

One thing to always remember, you MUST have a license by the FCC to transmit. You can purchase the radios now (ranges anywhere from $30 bucks up to the tens of thousands with normal being around $150 for dual band transceivers and 4-5 hundred for High frequency transceivers) but you can only listen (receiver), not talk (transmitter). When you get your license, you'll be able to use your transceiver (Listen and Talk).

I wished I've paid more attention to others recommending me to HAM Radio when I first started prepping, now I have to play catch up with it, but I'm 110/% glad I did.
 

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Extra class, first licensed about 35 years ago.
County and District Emergency Comms Coordinator (ARES, RACES, CERT, EMA), ARRL volunteer examiner.
Our motorhome and my truck are equipped to cover 160meters through 1.2GHz, plus commercial VHF/UHF in both analog and digital modes. The MH also has amateur satellite capability with a stationary deployable variable az/el cp antenna array.
On HF, I've worked 175 countries from both vehicles.

Ham radio is hard to beat for flexibility, modal variety and reliability. You can spend a little or a lot and get good comms either way.
 

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Yeah two-way radios would be great for keeping in touch with family and friends at the end of the world, but remember the bad guys might be monitoring your transmissions so be careful what you say.
For example if you say "Meet me at X at 3pm" you might find a zombie gang waiting to ambush you at the rendezvous.
There's also the possibility that they could steal a radio off one of your group and use it to send fake messages, disguising their voice with fake static, so a system of codewords among your group would be a good idea so you'll know it really is one of your group who's talking to you.
And in case the zombs are forcing one of your members to send a fake message at gunpoint, you should all have a codeword ready to slip into the message to let everybody know there's a gun at your head.

Also, only use your radios when you HAVE to, because not only will it save batteries, but it'll reduce the chances of gangs pinpointing your position with radio direction-finding equipment, all they need is a simple antenna and black box, heck, there's even a hobby called RDF Foxhunting where people (below) compete to track down planted transmitters for fun!



HOMING IN -- Radio Direction Finding (Radio Foxhunting, Transmitter Hunting, ARDF) for Amateur Radio and Public Service

So use RADIO SILENCE as much as possible to stay undetected; it worked for the Jap fleet all the way across the Pacific to Pearl Harbor..

 
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