You know, radio is NOT user friendly; at least not serious radio. You know, the kind of radio communication that you can use when the rest of the world cannot communicate further than they can shout! Sailing ’round the web, I find that when it comes to prepping and radios, there is always the question about licenses and it’s always something like this:
“Why should I get a ham license? If the world has ended,
there ain’t gonna be no FCC anyway !“
This argument is brought-up on most prepper ‘communication forums’. The “NO study & NO license plan” is to just buy ‘all the gear’, store it away for ‘someday’ and when the big emergency happens, they’ll pull it out and POOF!: instant radio communications. Let me share MY thoughts on this.
I’ll buy a mil-spec surgical kit on E-Bay!
I’ll keep it packed -duh- SOMEWHERE for when I NEED it!
After-all, I’m a VERY technical man and I am a quick learner who has ‘heard about things’ like how to cut a windpipe so that a person can breathe, or tie-off a spurting vein (or was that an “artery” & what’s the difference anyway?!? Parts is Parts). In a dire life and death emergency I can cut using the same tools as an experienced surgeon and besides, what’s so different between this and cleaning a fish, gutting a deer or serving-up the Thanksgiving turkey?
” There ain’t gonna be no A.M.A. Anyway ! “
Well, ONE ‘big difference’ is that because of my ignorance and inexperience, I’ll likely kill my ‘patient’ deader than a bag of rocks ! WHY? Because I have never done this before. Like I said; I’m a VERY technical guy, I am a ‘fast learner’ and can build & fix almost anything, but do YOU really want my on-the-job-training in surgery to be inside of your chest cavity?
No Way Jose’ !
In a similar way, communication – REAL WORLD communication – requires specific knowledge and experience to do it successfully and reliably, especially during an emergency (The end of the world IS an ’emergency’ by-the-way). Getting even the entry level, ham radio “Technician License” is a superb way to begin learning now, when mistakes are nothing more than a tiny ‘Ooops’. With a license, you can legally & wisely use this time BEFORE IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH to build your radio skills and experience so that eventually, you WILL BE a skilled, radio communicator at whatever level of competence you choose. The “I’ll buy a radio, unpack it, and use it when TSHTF” is a poor plan, though not immediately as poor as the ‘I bought the surgical kit, now let’s get cutting…‘ plan, which is why you should be forming a team and be useful to your community, so that when things go SPLAT! you have skilled doctors, dentists, farmers and yes – communicators to share skills and spread the burden. Not everyone needs to be a communications expert, but you DO need some experts and everyone should know at least basic radio communication. Studying for the Technician license is a GREAT way to do that. If you want more, study for the General and even the Extra Class licenses: your choice.
The other aspect is that those whom you are communicating with on the radio NOW, are the persons you’ll likely be communicating with in an actual grid-down situation. Are you now repeatedly and reliably talking on a handi-talkie or hand held radio with prepper friends 2 miles away? Are you in a regularly scheduled voice net on the HF radio with preppers in surrounding States or maybe routinely sending e-mail over HF radio to a group of friend, spread over hundreds or thousand miles? We hams are doing all this and more – every day, without the need for commercial infrastructure, like internet, phones, even commercial power – if the ham has decided to use alternate power, like their car battery, solar power & etc. It’s not enough to say ” Well, I talked to a guy in Argentina once on my CB.” I bet that was FUN! Now – call him back and talk everyday for a year, maybe you can miss a day or two. THEN you can call it ‘reliable’. It’s like having caught a fish once for lunch, or being able to catch fish reliably so that you eat all year long. That’s what a ham license will teach you; how radio works, so that you can decide which frequencies at which time and season work BEST for the distance and persons you want to talk with. It DOES change, you know!
The ham radio ticket is your open door to LEGALLY and safely learn and then USE these skills, giving you hands-on learning, then experience. Because ham radio is NOT user friendly, the equipment is not the important part; your skills are! Should you ever need to use them during hurricanes, ice storms or when driving your Mother-In-Law to the Piggly Wiggly, then you will not be illegally trying to learn as you go, during an actual emergency when lives are at stake. By the way, building these ham skills is enjoyable and handy to use every day, long before TEOTWAWKI. There is also another factor; you’ll notice that hurricanes, ice storms, earthquakes, forest fires and more happen fairly often and radio regulations are STILL enforced during these relatively common emergencies. You are able to safely use your equipment WITH a ham license, but it’s useless without knowledge and unwise in the extreme to operate on the ham bands without a license.
Your #1 ‘survival tool’ is not your rifle, not food storage & not even your ever present pocket knife: it is your mind. Learn new skills and then use new these skills regularly until you ‘own them’. That applies for everything from fire making to home canning to communicating and it makes us better people & better team members because it makes us better at taking care of our families and friends. Under ALL circumstances, learning new things & growing as a human being makes a better life for everyone we care about, including ourselves!
TAPRN and AmRRON set-up this website including the Communications S.O.I. to help YOU learn about applied/practical communications in a grid down situation. There is so much more than pushing the button on a handi-talkie and WOW is it handy!
Haaaar! Knowledge is like Spinach fer y’ BRAIN!
Ps. There are good reasons WHY the Army Special Forces 18E/communicator’s course is soooo loooong – there is a lot to actually learn about secure communications when it is further than you can whisper code words.