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Since the election I have been getting phone calls and emails aplenty from non-commo savvy friends and acquaintances about purchasing communications gear. Seems a lot of you still want to be able to talk if your Nextel phones and this Internet thing goes down.

Good idea. Here's what you should get (for starters).

Go to your local CB shop or truck stop (like a TA) and get a decent mobile CB radio for your car and house. Preferably one with SSB (single sideband) capability. Cobra, Midland, Uniden, and other common name brands are good. Get a good antenna like a K40 or Wilson to go with it. Get a 12 volt power supply or a deep-cycle battery and charger for your house and put up a good antenna on the roof like a 1/2 wave vertical.

Go to a Wal-Mart, Target, or consumer electronics store and pick up a couple FRS/GMRS radios. Midland makes some nice ones at a reasonable price. Get one for every member of your group.

Remember that the common interoperability channel for CB and FRS/GMRS in New England is Channel 7, a/k/a "Survival 7".

The CB rig will give you jungle telegraph-type intel, as well as a means of talking out to about 20 miles or so with a good antenna. The FRS/GMRS radios are for short-range tactical-type comms.

Once you get some basic comms gear and expertise down from using this stuff, then start thinking about ham radio gear (and licenses).

I'd simply like to tell everyone to bite the bullet and pick up a Yaesu FT-817 or FT-897 and some Motorola HTs with DES-XL, but that can come later. Right now it's simply important to get something that'll work, doesn't take much expertise to use, and enable everyone to have some interoperability.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
I picked up some MURS Kenwood TK2100s from this guy.
Nov. 30th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about the MURS stuff myself, but I already have a decent stock of GMRS, and even a few spare older 2m HTs (as well as CBs and some HF gear). The best thing about MURS is it's less common (more secure) then GMRS or CB. That's also the bad thing.
Nov. 30th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
I like MURS, and the MURS Radio Guy is the best source to get them from. For those who run commercial LMR gear for 2 meter ham ops, it's an informal rule that you program in the five MURS frequencies as well.

If MURS was more commonly available via commercial off the shelf retail sources, I'd have recommended it for the beginning user. Right now the concern is getting groups of people all on the same page for their comms, at a reasonable price.

One thing that everyone should keep in mind is that FRS/GMRS, MURS, and CB are not secure comms by anyone's standard. A $100 police scanner can cycle through all of these frequencies in about 5 seconds.

Now if you were to happen to get some ADP-equipped P25 VHF HTs and set them up on MURS...
Nov. 30th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
I submit that in a SHTF situation, plenty of the junk creating noise around 30 MHz is broken, and so CBs might carry quite a bit further than 20 miles.
Nov. 30th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
CB's can go quite a bit further than 20 miles even with the noise floor, especially during skip conditions.

When I was working at Camp [REDACTED] in the Adirondacks, our resident CB enthusiast used to routinely work stations in Quebec with nothing more than a stock AM mobile CB and a base-loaded whip antenna on the roof of his car.
Nov. 30th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
Speaking of comms..... my inner geek has been drooling over the new Yaesu VX8r. http://www.hamradio.com/pdf/vx8r.pdf
Nov. 30th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
You just had to mention the VX-8. ;)

That rig is the current contender for my next new rig purchase, right after I get some more green radios.
Dec. 1st, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Having a selection of useful radios is a good idea. I'm glad your first suggestion was to have a CB. However, it doesn't take that much to get licensed as a ham any more, and 2 meters can be quite useful. If repeaters go down, you can talk on simplex for several miles. I've got a telescoping whip on my HT that enables me to reach out 10-12 miles. Granted, this isn't secure, but how many people do you think will be out there looking for my signal when the chips are down? Maybe I'll be looking for their signal. Don't underestimate the importance of simply listening. A shortwave receiver with SSB could be useful, too. John
Dec. 2nd, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Persons operating on HF for long haul during crisis or sensitive business should learn the techniques required for sending Specially Formatted Text.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Tom (Ticom)

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