The National SOS Radio Network
EMCOM Emergency Preparedness:
Family/Neighborhood Emergency Communications
There are three things a
militiaperson needs to learn in order to survive and continue the mission of
preparing to protect liberty: They need to know how to shoot, move, and
communicate. There are other important things to know, but at a minimum, "shoot,
move, and communicate" should be the "meat" of militia training.
We cover shooting elsewhere in
this site, and movement is touched upon briefly throughout as well.
Well, this is the "communicate"
The following is from our
Team Leaders' Guide:
Communications within and between small units is critical to
mission success. It is important to understand some very basic rules and
procedures for operating a radio or other piece of communication equipment.
1. Transmit only when necessary. Not only will idle chatter
distract the receiving party, it may compromise his and your positions, and all
communications may be monitored and triangulated. Do not discuss the weather,
sports scores, or anything that doesn't apply to the success of the current
2. Limit your transmissions to no more than FIVE seconds
each. Anything longer than five seconds is enough time to almost guarantee that
anyone with even moderately effective equipment can find you. Insert breaks in
any transmissions that need to be longer.
3. Never use actual names, addresses, or anything else that
is sensitive over the air. Never use a personal name over the air. Use their
fire team unit and position designation, if you know it, for example, Katana
One. Make up something using the person's initials if you have to. Use personal
reference points to keep information secure. For example, if one of your fire
team members is a postal worker, refer to them as such, if you have to. Never,
ever, ever use a person's real name over the air. Ever.
Never use addresses, unless you can encode them somehow (more
on that later). Use place names that the unit may have developed. Examples can
be "The Badlands", or "The Wheat Farm", or "the place where Havoc Three spilled
his enchiladas". If you have to use a location, try to use a pre-determined set
of grid references, like in your Delorme Gazetteer map of the counties in the
state, but never broadcast which maps you are using openly. For example, you can
say, "Green Book, page (whatever), B5." Where the green book is a certain map
book. Make sure that everyone has the same edition of that book, to avoid
4. Always speak clearly. This should be a given. Never pause
on the air. Know what you are going to say BEFORE you key the mike. Know what
your response is BEFORE you key the mike. DO NOT pollute the airwaves with
unnecessary "ummms", "ahhhhs" and anything else that announces cluelessness over
the air. Do not key the mike while looking up some information. Do not key the
mike unless you are prepared to speak.
5. Do not "step" on each other. Always say, "over" when it is
time for the other guy to talk. Always say, "break" when you still have more to
say but are breaking the transmission to keep it short. When two other people
are talking to each other, do not jump in unless they call you.
6. Acknowledge the reception of information with a brief
repetition of it. For example, "A" might transmit, "Move your team up 200 yards
to the fence line, then go north to the crest and cover the field to your west
when we are ready to move"; "B" would respond with, "Up 200, cover from crest,
OK". This lets both parties know that each other understands, without any errors
or excess, "Did you understand what I said?" back and forth several times.
Directions should be given from a specific, unmistakable
reference. The other guy doesn't always know what you have in mind; "Go left" -
(whose left, yours or mine?), "Come back toward the trees" - (which trees?),
"We're behind you" - (200 yards back along the trail, or 20 feet away?). If it
can be misunderstood, it will be.
7. Do not get into pissing contests over the air, with
ANYBODY. EVER. PERIOD.
8. Always have an alternate frequency, and another back-up
for that. Always have a fall-back frequency or channel, in case you get
compromised, stepped on, or get into the previously mentioned pissing contest.
Make sure that everyone knows what these back-up channels are. Make sure that
everyone in the net understands when it is time to change channels, either by a
predetermined code word, or at a pre-set time. When it is time to change
channels, make sure that you do a commo check with everyone on the new channel
to make sure that they have indeed switched over.
9. Change channels on a regular basis anyway. Even if you are
not compromised, you should change channels at least every 24 hours. If you are
limited to the number of channels you have access to, just rotate your primary,
back-up, and alternate back-up frequency very 24 hours.
10. Have a pre-determined code. Even a simple 123ABC grid
reference of some sort may do the trick here. Simply get a three-by-five card
and write a five-by-five square grid on it, with five numbers on top, and five
letters on the left side. Fill in the alphabet, randomly. Change daily. Use this
if you have to spell things out securely. If you want to include numbers, simply
use a six-by-six set of squares, and add numbers, randomly, into the grid. If
you need to, put each day's frequency on these cards. Guard these closely. This
is the militia equivalent of the military CEOI (communications electronics
operators instructions), and radio operators are instructed to die to prevent
these from falling into enemy hands. Maybe you should limit these to your team
leaders and radio operators.
11. Never discuss guns, ammo, or anything of the sort on the
air. Use colorful euphemisms if you need to. For example, you could refer to
training as "going to the dance", guns as "tools", and ammo as "boxes of candy".
12. Always let someone know when you are going to be off the
net. If you are changing batteries, or shutting down for any reason, let someone
on the net know, and let them know approximately how long you will be off the
air, and alert them when you are back on the net. If it would compromise your
situation, do not discuss why you are shutting down. Just make sure that someone
13. Learn the military phonetic alphabet. It is pretty much
common sense to pick it up. Some of you may use the police phonetic alphabet.
The two are different, and we should probably learn them both.
14. DO NOT DISCUSS ANYTHING THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO TELL THE
WORLD ON ANY AIRWAVE, CHANNEL, NETWORK OR FREQUENCY. EVER, EVER, EVER. ALWAYS
ASSUME THAT YOU ARE BEING MONITORED, BECAUSE YOU PROBABLY ARE. DO NOT SEND
ANYTHING OF QUESTIONABLE LEGALITY THROUGH/VIA/OVER E-MAIL EITHER.
This is the format to be used when submitting intelligence reports:
S: Size of the unit or formation you have observed. Number of
persons or vehicles visible.
A: Activity of unit, persons, or formation you have observed.
Clearly describe what you have seen them doing, include direction and speed of
L: Location of what you have observed. Distance and direction from
nearest intersection, an address, or an eight-digit grid coordinate will work.
U: Unit or uniform. Describe what they were wearing. Describe any
insignia, signs, banners, or flags. Note type of camouflage.
T: Time and duration of your observation.
E: Equipment they carried or were using. As best as you can,
describe they types of weapons and gear that you observed. this includes
communication gear, weapons, and vehicles.
Pictures and sketches are always encouraged, but never place yourself at risk
to get a picture when a description will suffice.
"over" - I am done talking and am waiting for your response.
"out" - I am done talking and am not waiting for your response.
"prepare to copy" - I am sending you information that you will
need to write down.
"how copy?" - did you understand and write down my last
"break" - I am still talking, but am breaking the transmission
into smaller pieces.
"wait, over" - please stand by for a moment.
"wait, out" - I will call you back when I get the info you
"say again" - I missed something.
"say again all after..." - I missed what came after a certain
Use "affirmative" and
"negative" instead of "yes" and "no"
Never use profanity.
Always establish who you are and to whom you are speaking
Speak clearly and effectively.
You will learn more of this as you do it. Also, be advised that militia
persons may tend to co-mingle CB jargon with any radio communications. Make sure
you brush up on that, as well, GOOD BUDDY.
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MORE ABOUT AMATEUR RADIO
SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN SCANNER PAGE
ARRL: CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON AMATEUR RADIO, INCLUDING HOW TO GET YOUR NO-CODE
|The following was posted by
"Colorado Freedom" in the "Commo Tent" section
of The Patriot Armory
We greatly appreciate this excellent primer on
Amateur Radio operations. We hope this will encourage you to sharpen
your communication skills.
Thanks again to "Colorado
Amateur Radio and Your Survival
by "Colorado Freedom"
Hello all! I was very glad
to hear that this community can benefit from my expertise in Amateur
Radio. It is a critical tool for your survivalů not only in the
post apocalyptic world, but in any emergency situation. I will cover
most areas of Amateur Radio, from getting licensed, the radios
themselves, capabilities of the radios, basic use, and survival
1. Getting Licensed to Operate Amateur Radios
2. Amateur Radios Themselves
3. Capabilities of Amateur Radios
4. Survival Techniques
Getting Licensed To Operate Amateur
A major item that separates Amateur Radio from other communication
means is the fact that you are required to hold an Amateur Radio
License to operate. Most other radios, Citizen Band (CB) and Family
Radio Service (FRS) are limited to the power they can transmit
(Amateur Radio allows up to 1500W transmit power, CB limitation is
There is a license structure in Amateur Radio. Beginning with
Novice, then Technician, General, Advanced, and Extra. The most
common license class is Technician and will provide the most
realistic frequency options. Unlike CB and FRS, the frequency range
of Amateur Radio is almost unlimited. Here is the amateur radio band
For now, pay special attention to the 2M Band (144Mhz - 148MHZ), the
1.25M Band (222Mhz - 225Mhz) and the 70CM Band (420MHz - 450MHz).
These will be the most common bands that you will use in a survival
Your mission is to get licensed as a TECHNICIAN. This is the most
common license and over 50% of operators are licensed at this level.
The only requirement for this license is to pass a 35 question test
with the FCC. I recommend the following book to use as a study
guide.. it will answer all the questions you have about amateur
radio and will prepare you for your exam.
Trust me.. the test is very easy and in most cases uses the EXACT
same questions from the study guide.
Technically you must hold an amateur radio license to purchase
and operate an amateur radio.
The Amateur radio community is a tight one, and if you operate
without a callsign and become a nuisance people can track you
through triangulation and report you to the FCC. In other words..
take the short exam and get a license!
Amateur Radios Themselves
Basically, CB and FRS radios are great for sporting events and
camping with the family, however, reliable communication needs to be
ruled out with these readily available radios. First reason is
effective range. CB radios and especially FRS just don't have the
ability for effective long range communication. Also, security is an
issue as it is far too easy for someone to find you on one of the 40
CB channels and listen to what you are saying. Even if you switch up
the channel every hour or so, all it takes is a simple scan of the
limited frequency range and you are compromised. With amateur radio,
the frequency choices are limitless.
There are three kinds of Amateur Radios that you should be
interested in: Handy Talkies (HTs), Mobile Units, and Base Units.
The least expensive and most beneficial radio for you to get first
is a Handy Talky (HT). The radio that is in my BOB currently is the
This unit is an ultra-compact... rugged, submersible, tough little
radio! It is also a tri-band allowing you to transmit and receive on
the 2M, 1.25M, and 70CM band. Already you have a huge step up from
CB, FRS, and MOST Ham operators as the 2M band is HEAVILY used. If
you need your privacy.. take your communication to the 1.25M band or
the 70CM band. It is extremely rare to hear other HAMs on the 220MHz
frequency band. Almost every licensed ham operates on 2M
There are some limitations to HTs which I will cover in my
Capabilities section. These include relatively low transmit power
and limited antenna capability. These range in price from $50-$400..
with most units around $200.
Consider a Mobile unit if you want a bit more power than an HT can
These units typically transmit at about 50W.. which is PLENTY of
power to transmit miles and miles and miles. These units are very
similar to what you would find in your local Police Department's
squad cars. Most mobile radios transmit on the 2M band.. and Some
transmit on the 2M, 1.25M, and 70CM band. However, the most common
is 2M / 70CM "Dual Band" radios.
This kind of radio will require an externally mounted antenna.
Mobile units are good to have in your vehicle.. but remember in the
survival situation.. once you run out of fuel and battery.. this
radio is relatively useless. It also uses more power to operate than
an HT and will not run off AA batteries (most HTs have the option to
run off AAs).
And finally.. the Base unit:
These units are typically very large and bulky and are meant for
permanent installation in a residence. This is your classic
Shortwave radio. You MUST obtain at least a General class license to
operate this bad boy.. however, no joke.. it is INCREDIBLY easy to
contact other operators around the globe. This is the future of
communication once the cell and phone networks fail. These units
typically transmit at 100W+ and there are amplifiers available to
push the output power to 1500W. You do not want to stand directly in
front of an antenna that is broadcasting at that kind of power!
Typically.. most home stations use very large antennas mounted on
If you've ever wondered what the hell that antenna is in your
neighbor's yard. Now you know!
Later in this tutorial I will explain how to get on the shortwave
band for "around the globe" communication without spending
an arm and a leg and without a large antenna on top of a 50' tower.
Capabilities of Amateur Radios
There is no question that owning an amateur radio is a good idea.
I've said it before.. Cell Phones, CBs, and FRS just don't cut it
for reliable communication over any distance. CBs and especially FRS
radios are only good for about a mile. This is partially because
amateur radios use FM to transmit. FM is a much cleaner, higher
quality method of radio communication.
I'll focus on my tri band radio (144,220,440MHz). 2M (144MHz) is by
far the most used Ham radio band. When I go offroading in the
mountains I know for a fact that I will not have Cell service once I
go over that first range of mountains. With Amateur radio you ALWAYS
have a life line to the outside world. The reason why my Amateur
Radio works deep in the mountains while a cell phone or CB won't is
simply because of what is known as "Repeaters".
Repeaters are base units permanently installed on the top of a
mountain top (or.. perhaps in your area on the top of a 250' radio
tower). These devices are set up by amateur radio enthusiasts and
are free to use. The way they work is that they will listen on say
144.800 and transmit on 144.200. So.. everyone who is tuned in to
the repeater sets their radio to listen on 144.200 and transmit on
Just like the name.. when you key up and access a repeater.. it
REPEATS your broadcast through its high powered equipment down to
everyone else in the city. In other words.. as long as your radio
can just barely reach the repeater, you can bounce your signal over
the mountains. You won't have that capability with CB. Once your
already weak signal hits the front range.. it will bounce back..
never to be heard on the other side. Quite simply.. repeaters are a
Of course.. repeaters can't be relied on in a post apocalyptic
world.. however they work wonders during standard emergencies..
imagine breaking down in the middle of the wilderness with no cell
signal. If you didn't have that HAM radio.. you'd better start
The real capability of amateur radios comes with HF (High
frequency.. or "Short wave"). These radios have NO problem
transmitting around the globe. The way these radios work is that
they bounce your signal off the ionosphere and when the signal
returns to earth it could be halfway around the globe:
It really is fascinating how it works... and as the day goes on..
and conditions change.. you can bounce your signal to different
parts of the world. I've had lengthy conversations with people on
I know that I've thrown a lot of information at you.. and you may be
confused by all that Amateur radio has to offer. But it is a
certainty that having at least a Handy Talky is a major advantage to
your survival in the wilderness.
Not only can you transmit on select frequencies, but you can listen
from 0-999Mhz. Most government agencies and civilian companies
operate in this spectrum. Ask yourself if it is worthwhile to be
able to hear what your local police department has going on...
Also.. with an Amateur Radio.. you will be able to HEAR on the CB
and FRS frequencies (with a slight modification to the radio you can
also transmit). So if others in your group only have FRS or CB.. you
have all three!
Now... if you remember I mentioned that HF is the future of
essential long range communication. I also mentioned that you need a
very large and expensive base unit and a massive antenna on top of a
50' tower. Well.. that is one way of doing it.. but there are ways
around dropping $5000 on radio equipment and antennas.
You will have NO problem communicating around the world for no more
than a few hundred bucks and some of your time. First.. find an
older HF Radio on Ebay. These can be had for CHEAP! There is an
entire section on Ebay devoted to Amateur Radio:
You would be amazed at how cheap you can find radios that work the
same as they did 10 years ago... they just don't have those fancy
digital screens that modern units have. Pick yourself up a nice used
HF radio such as this one:
Just make sure you pick up a radio that is "solid state".
Before the transistor Ham radios used vacuum tubes and the tubes are
next to impossible to find nowadays.
What about those massive antennas I mentioned you need to
communicate around the world (or even across the country). Well..
there is good news there too! All you need is a roll of wire and
some ceramic connectors you can pick up at Radio Shack. Here is an
example of a DIPOLE antenna:
It is very stealthy! Because it is kind of hard to see here is an
illustration of a basic dipole antenna:
So with a minimum amount of equipment... you too can get on the air
and have a life link. It wouldn't be a bad idea to set up a
frequency (probably on the 20M Band.. 14Mhz area) where in a SHTF
scenario we can keep in contact. For instance.. "Meet me at 12
noon on the first of every month at 14.0535". We can even set
up an increment, so that the next month its 14.0635.. etc..
I hope I've answered some of your basic questions about HAM radios.
They are great to have... and in my opinion an HT is an essential
part of your BOB. If anyone has any further questions about this..
drop me a PM!
I am a firm believer of at least
having an HT in your BOB. Also.. it is fairly important to have some
method of recharging the batteries. Solar trickle chargers work great for
It would of course be beneficial to have a dipole antenna in addition to
the "rubber ducky" antenna on the HT. You can make one now and
pack it in your bag. Here is a calculator to determine the lengths of the
Put 144.000 MHz in the calculator for the 2M band (the most popular).
Being at 144MHz is a HUGE advantage over CB. The reason being is that an
antenna for the Amateur 2M band is 3' 3" across. Because CB is around
30 MHz.. for an effective antenna it will need to be over 15' across!
If you decide you want to communicate on the 440 band (70CM) the antenna
need only be a foot across!
Dipole antennas are awesome.. you don't even need to get the fancy ceramic
center connectors. In a pinch you can make an awesome dipole out of a
spool of wire.