In the wake of the Summer of Survival episode #13, where we aired Comms Up-2!, we’ve received lots of follow-up questions.  This is an encouraging sign, indicating that preppers and groups are awakening to the need to address communications.  Specifically, off-grid ‘prepper’ communications.  The number one question is “How do I get started?”  The following is the most recent, and my emailed response.  I posted this here in hopes of generating a discussion.  Please leave comments below with some of your thoughts.  Thanks!  -JJS

 

QUESTION:

“I have just started getting into emergency comms.  What is the fastest and easiest way to get educated?”

 

  1. There’s no ‘fast’ way. It’s a process. But you’re on your way already.

  2. Watch Comms Up docudrama (the first one)

  3. Get hold of a local ham club (internet search) and tell them you’d like to get your Technician license ($15/10 years)

  4. Start studying.

  5. Start studying using the online tools and exams. Memorize the answers (the real learning begins after you get your license).

  6. There are free, downloadable apps for studying for your Tech exam

  7. A couple books I recommend for learning is Ham Radio For Dummies and the Technician Class 2014-2018 study manual with HamStudy software. This is where you’ll start understanding the ‘theory’ of radio, which will help you get a firm understanding of the limitations and capabilities of various radio communications. This will help you make informed decisions when proceeding with building up your capabilities and setting equipment goals.

  8. Purchase a handheld, dual-band (VHF/UHF) radio and master it:

  9. If cost is a factor, then I recommend the BaoFeng UV-5R 65-108 MHz Dual-Band Ham Radio or the WouXun Dual Band VHF/UHF Handheld  Radio. I prefer the Wouxun because the charger is a 12v input power, whereas the Baofeng is 10.1v.

  10. If cost is not a factor, I recommend the Yaesu HT-160 as a great starter radio.  (CORRECTION:Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld 5W VHF / UHF Amateur Radio Transceiver)

  11. MASTER that radio. Carefully study the owners manual, go to Youtube, and do an internet search for the radio you purchase and learn everything you can about it, to the point you could teach someone else.

  12. Learn to program it, both with software (CHIRP, for example), and by hand – using the keypad.

  13. Read reviews on equipment, read forum discussions, and remember, ‘youtube is your friend.’

  14. Acquire the ability to receive HF communications, such as a Tecsun PL-660 (Shortwave Radio with SSB).

  15. OR… work toward getting your General Class license and acquire an HF transceiver so you can both talk AND listen on it.

  16. Monitor (listen) to local nets going on in your area, either by a local ham club, or an AmRRON net, if there’s one in your area, or if you have a shortwave radio with Single Side Band capability, for the national/regional HF nets. A lot of learning takes place just by listening.

  17. Try to find an ‘Elmer’ – an experienced operator who can show you the ropes and really shorten the learning curve.

  18. Become and AmRRON member and have access to the member directory.

  19. Consider joining AmRRON Corps and be involved at a higher level.

This should get you off to a great start on your journey. I want to encourage you to take the time to explore www.AmRRON.com. This is one of those things in life that requires deliberate effort. As we say, “Ya gotta want it.” But if you do, there are more resources than you can absorb, so don’t get overwhelmed. Just keep plugging away and you’ll get there before you know it.

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