Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Ham Radio stuff

Yup, this week its amateur radio. Wireless communication has become second nature in today's world. But in survival situations, these communications can come crashing down and cause panic.

Consider this situation. A severe storm, (tornado, severe winter storm, hurricane, etc...) comes through and knocks out power in your area for an extended period of time. For this example we will say a week, if your lucky your local cell phone tower will have power back up and continue uninterrupted. But lets say that fails or in the chaos they are overrun and you can't get a call through. Telephone lines could go down due to weather or traffic accident. Short of physically going to the person you are trying to communicate with, you would be out of luck.

This is why preppers should consider getting licensed in ham radio. This hobby and skill can be easily learned and doesn't have to be very expensive. You can run these fairly low power units from your vehicle or on battery power. Some people run these off battery banks or solar units. They can be very versatile.

To get started first you have to get licensed!

That's right, you have to get a FCC license to legally use ham radios. It's not that hard and will run you about $15. To start, you need to study for the test. This is merely to make sure you know what you are doing when you setup your radios and start broadcasting. The best part is all the questions and answers are available for you to review before hand. You can pay for books or take courses, or you can just Google free courses. I used the site Ham whisperer. He has free videos and teaches you some of the logic behind the questions on the test.

Next is to take the test. Most ham radio clubs will administer the test for you. When you find one, show up at the testing time with ID and take the test. It should take you about 30 minutes and you will know if you pass before you leave. Once your name and new call sign shows up on the FCC's website you can start broadcasting. You can find a test site here

Now that your legal, I would suggest becoming a member of a local club to help you get started. The American Radio Relay League can help you out with this. They have a great registry of clubs across America.

If you prefer the just learn as you go, I would suggest getting a mobile unit or a portable hand unit.

So this is a very brief introduction to ham radio. Ill leave you with a quick list of helpful links.

Cheat Sheet

ARRL

Ham Whisper

Great Ham Radio store

Other Radio equipment

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