Having good radio equipment is important for many reasons. What will you do when there is no Internet? What will you do when there is no cellphone service? How will you know what’s going on in other parts of the country, let alone the world? Radio signals don’t need an intermediary, they just bounce all over the earth and are received by radios.
It’s not even necessary that you transmit (speak) on the radio, but the information you can garner from just listening to others from far away is worth the time it takes to understand how to use a radio.
There are many ways to go in purchasing a communications radio, depending on your budget. You can buy yourself a brand new, state-of-the-art Kenwood or I-com for example, both of which are great radios. But the expense can be quite high, typically in the many hundreds of dollars.
A less expensive but just as viable way to go is a “free band radio”. This is a 10 meter ham radio that has had additional freeband frequencies installed. This will expand coverage to include the 12, 11 (the CB frequency band) and sometimes 9 meter bands. In a converted CB radio, this is called a radio with extra channels.
A 10 meter radio is very common and inexpensive, as well as their low-rent cousins, CB radios. Many can be found on ebay for under $200 and may already have the additional frequencies installed. Also any good SSB (single sideband) CB radio can have what they call “Extra Channels Added” by any good tech. (Lots of mods here http://www.dxzone.com/tag-cb-mods/.) CB shops at truck stops often times have used free band radios for sale at good prices, but check eBay for prices on used radios before going.
Any frequency on the radio can be used in various modes, the most common being AM, Single Side Band (SSB), Upper Side Band (USB) and CW. CW means constant wave mode, which is the mode used for Morse Code and RTTY. It is possible to send several and receive multiple pages of text files via RTTY. The software needed can be found here (http://gmfsk.sourceforge.net/ ). Radios with a CW mode like the RCI 2950 (et al) and the Uniden HR2510 have the CW mode installed. There are other models that also have CW mode, however, no CB radios have CW mode. You can send pictures and text files to others, similar to fax. This will be an excellent way for the people to maintain contact with others during times of crisis or total collapse.
The legal frequency range of a Citizens Band radio is 26905 megahertz through 27405 megahertz (mostly in 10 kilocycle steps per channel), covering the 40 channels of CB radio. Freebanding is when an unlicensed radio operator uses the non-allocated frequencies in the 11 meter band (CB radio and beyond). When society has collapsed, who care who has a license?
Most freebanders use the Single Side Band (SSB) mode of these channels as opposed to the AM mode. The chatter you may have heard on channel 19 (the truckers channel) is in the AM mode. AM mode of operation is limited in range, however using the SSB mode affords greater range and more output power. A legal CB radio has 4 watts output on the AM band and 12 watts on the SSB band.
This means that when conditions are right (sunspots, etc.) SSB signals can travel greater distances than those in the AM mode. One early morning, while driving west on I-90 in Idaho, I made a contact with Tokyo, Japan using SSB and an HR 2510 Uniden radio. That was a contact of over 7000 miles with less than 20 watts of power.
Once the world goes in to collapse there will still be thousands of people using the free bands. This can be used to create a radio round-robin or relay to share information and help others.
The international call frequencies are:
27555 USB The US and the world except for Europe
26285 USB Europe
First a little bit about how to use a call frequency. A call frequency is a frequency on which we make contact with someone who would like to have a conversation with us. The parties then go to another frequency of their choice to continue the conversation. It is unlike the chatter you may have heard on the AM side – CB Channel 19 and all that noise. The conversation is called a QSO.
First we must wait for a moment of silence to break in and make our call. The protocol for asking for a QSO is like this:
“C-Q, C-Q, NEW MEXICO CALLING AND LISTING ON 27560” is a typical call or CQ (“seek-you”). This tells listeners on the call frequency where to find you to have a conversation. Then we move our frequency dial to that frequency. Once there we make another call like this:
“CQ CQ New Mexico calling for any and all stations.” Or if you are looking to make a contact in a specific place:
“CQ CQ New Mexico Calling for all stations in _____” (the place of your choosing) “and standing by for contact.”
There are many different kinds of viable antennas to use with your radio, some very cheap some very expensive.
Some of you may choose to make a wire antenna. One of the simplest wire antennas is the “Inverted V” – very good for long distance communications (what the radio community calls “skip”). The inverted V can be made for the cost of some wire and a pole.
Others may prefer to purchase something ready-made, in a box. For those of you who do, we can strongly suggest the “V Quad”. This is a directional aluminum antenna that sends a strong signal in only one direction. Like the directional TV antennas of past times, this antenna needs a rotor (this is a motor to turn the antenna from the radio shack or you can use the “Armstrong” method). It is the best non-homebrew antenna that I have ever used. http://www.livecbradio.com/11-meter-loop-antenna.htm
Either way, when the conditions are right you’ll be talking to the world.
When radio operators say, “conditions are right” they mean that the skip conditions are good, allowing the radio signals to be received over longer distances than normal. Skip is when the signal travels along a mostly horizontal plane before it eventually hits the ionosphere. Like a flat rock across a lake, the signal will skip along rather than pierce the ionosphere and go out into space. This skip can cause your signal to be received with nearly as much strength as it had when it left your antenna. The contact I had with Tokyo gave me an S10 signal strength, and that is as high as it gets. Sunspots are generally the cause for good skip conditions.
We own a used Grundig Yacht Boy 400 and recommend it highly. These were made in the 1990s, but are still “state-of-the-art”. The CCI radio company sells a clone of this model today. Good used Grundigs can be found on ebay in the $50 to $100 range. The YB400 has some great features:
AM/FM and Shortwave bands
40 Channel Memory
Two Time Zones
We consider it the best AM portable receiver made. At night we can listen Coast to Coast A.M. on stations from Los Angeles CA, San Antonino TX, Omaha NE, or Denver CO and even Detroit MI and Chicago IL at times, all sounding clear from here in New Mexico.
Our Yacht Boy 400 receives from 55 Kilohertz through 30 Megahertz, covering the entire HF (high frequency) band. In a time of crisis, shortwave may be the only radio signal out there. It may come in real handy when we can’t depend on the Internet to know what is going on.
WWV is the international time standard hack that can be found on the following shortwave frequencies:
WWV also allows you to check space weather as well as satellite environment (interference). We can use these frequencies to gauge the effect of solar activities on our radio communications. WWV has a very strong signal. For most it will be received as a strong S 8 to 10 signal strength. But in the event of adverse solar activities even these stations can become covered up with static and noise. So if you are trying to receive a certain station and are having difficulties, check WWV to see if their signal is coming though alright, or if it is covered up with static. In that case, the sun is most likely the cause of your problems or (an EMP blast).
“Family Radio Service” (FRS) and “Business Radio Service” (BRS) are the frequencies for the common walkie-talkies you see. They often say that they have an 8 mile range, however, most of these radios have a hard time transmitting further than 2 miles. Not everyone lives in a laboratory environment. The 8 mile range estimates take into account “line of sight” factors only. If you can see the other party that you are trying to communicate with, you can talk to them. We don’t live in a flat world without a horizon and without trees, buildings, mountains, etc. Because of this, these radios are over rated and can only be used for close-up communications (typically less than 3 miles at best).
They certainly can be useful if your community uses them in a small area (40 acres or less).
The Business Radio Service does include base radios, which have more power than family radios. You can add an external antenna on a mast high above the ground to stretch their effectivity (up to 10 miles).
The I-Com IC-R5 pocket scanner is a handy radio to own. These are available in US models and overseas models. The FCC gave the I-COM company a license to sell this receiver in the U.S. ONLY IF CERTAIN FREQUENCIES WERE BLOCKED OUT!
With this in mind the best place to buy one is on Ebay. There are sellers on ebay from other countries such as Japan who sell UNBLOCKED IC-R5’s and IC-R7’s. These ebay listings will be explicit. It will say it is a Japanese model and does not have any blocked frequencies. The IC-R5 can scan from 30 kilocycles to 1400 megahertz (1.4 Gigahertz). Within these frequencies are the following things you may find interesting to listen to.
For entertainment purposes only, here are some of the stations you can listen to that are hard to find frequencies:
fbi tactical 167.400 fm
fema 138.400 fm
fema 138.5750 fm
fema 139.9500 fm
fema 155.340 fm
army civil disturbances 34.9000 ssb
fema 130.0500 fm
fema 139.1000 fm
fema 138.2250 fm
fema 139.4500 fm
fema 140.0250 fm
fed disater network 170.2000 fm
border patrol 163.6750 fm
border patrol 163.7250 fm
border patrol 163.7750 fm
bp 164.1150 fm
bp 165.8500 fm
bp 165.9250 fm
natl emerg weather svc (news) 173.1875 fm
news 167.9750 fm
news 169.8750 fm
news 167.9250 fm
fed disaster net 170.2000 fm
fema 5.210 ssb
fema 10.493750 ssb
fema 4.7250 ssb
fema 139.350 fm
fema 143.0250 fm
fema 143.2500 fm
fema 167.9750 fm
blm 169.6500 fm
forest svc 170.5250 fm
omaha sac 11.17500 ssb
norad 13.2000 ssb
norad 15.0150 ssb
omaha sac 4.7250 ssb
norad 6.7400 ssb
air force bomber eam 4.743750 ssb
eams 6.71250 ssb
eams 6.7400 ssb
eams 8.993750 ssb
eams 11.1750 ssb
eams 13.2000 ssb
eams 15.0150 ssb
norad 228.6000 fm
norad 228.9000 fm
fema 5.2100 ssb
fema 16.9500 ssb
fed emerg task force 165.23750 fm
task force 169.4500 fm
fbi tactical 167.21250 fm
To find local frequencies, check out http://www.radioreference.com/
Emergency Action Messages are the encoded radio traffic between NORAD and SAC with the nuclear bomber fleet, like in the movie Fail Safe)
With Fusion Centers operating, the radio traffic is mostly digitized and scrambled. But you will notice that when they are “working together” the scanner’s frequencies will all seem to light up at the same time. By this I mean you’ll notice you local sheriff/state police/ local cops/ FEMA/DHS/Border Patrol/FBI, etc., all going encrypted and all talking at the same time.
The Fusion Centers work with the local authorities, so when you hear this it usually means that there is a VIPER team closing down some road to perform unwarranted stops and searches under the guise of (take your pick) sobriety check points, looking for seatbelt terrorists, looking for insurance terrorists, etc.
If the local VIPERS are not encrypted, you will hear things like the officer waiting for a “29 check”. This means they are checking to see if there are any outstanding warrants for that driver. When you hear this you will also hear things like “we’re set up at mile maker __”. If you don’t want to have to claim your right under the 4th amendment with these VIPER TERRORISTS, then stay away.
Suffice to say that if you hear a lot of cross agency traffic, it’s nearly a sure bet that a VIPER team is out making sure that the country is safe for their brand of freedom.
Creating a Radio Round Robin: With the right equipment a group of people could create a a “radio round robin”. this is when a group of people has a specific place on the radio to meet on a regular basis. For example, let’s say there are 6 people in your round robin and you all decide to meet on Saturday mornings on CB channel 40, 27.405 Mhtz, LSB (lower side band) (or CW for RTTY – look for an upcoming article on that!) and exchange news with each other. It’s not a question of “IF” TPTB will shut the internet down it’s “WHEN”? The purpose of these articles it to create awareness in becoming independent of the internet and become your own beacon of news by maintaining contact through the coming difficulties. Having a group of people from diverse places is also important. Then one of the round robin group can relay a message from one station who can’t be heard to a station that can maintain contact with both stations.