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Amateur Radio
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clv101
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:48 pm    Post subject: Amateur Radio Reply with quote

Not sure if this is the best forum for this... but does anyone know anything about amateur radio? Details of the UK set up here: http://www.rsgb.org/

I guess some might ask what's the point given the Internet and cellphones etc, however, this is a way to communicate with someone in another country or another continent without assistance. Totally independent of any infrastructure that may or may not continue to be as open and available as it is today.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Michael Greer has become a radio amateur, so if it's good enough for him etc.

It is (or can be set up to be) far more robust than more recently developed comms. infrastructures.
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featherstick



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Widely rated as very good doomer preparations, and ham radio features in a number of doomer novels. It's one of my longer-term wishlist preps.
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bealers



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll admit to having 'get 2 CBs' on my TFH list but it's way down the priority and will probably only happen if I happen to see one dirt cheap at a car boot.

I did look briefly at Packet Radio as a serious alternative for long distance data sharing but it looked far to geeky and required too much DODGY so I lost interest.

I bookmarked this as a good intro and I found a group in the midlands into it.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have my intermediate license (2E0BBS). Youngest son has his foundation (M3KIH). We have a second-hand Icom IC730 100 watt HF tranceiver, a Yaesu FT817 5 watt portable and a small VHF hand-held.

Radio is, in my opinion, a hugely under-rated technology who's time is yet to come. It requires virtually no infrastructure to operate and is ideal for a situation when "the system" goes down. There are people involved in amateur radio who are pushing the boundaries in all sorts of interesting areas, including digital data transfer, slow-scan TV (Basically fax by radio), etc.

When Katrina hit, the cell-phone system went down very quickly apparently. Ham-radio operators were some of the first to get communications back up. I was, until recently, involved in Raynet - an organisation of amateur radio operators that work with emergency planning authorities to provide or support communications in event of a crisis. I was involved in the Surrey branch. Interestingly, I was told that the two most likely events they planned for were a mid-air collision over the area and a rupture of the Fawley to Heathrow fuel pipeline, that passes through the county.

Most people probably know that HF (shortwave) radio works over long distances by bouncing the signal off the ionosphere. This acts as an electronic mirror in the sky. (The reason why radio transmission tends to be better in the evening, is that the ionosphere has been charged up during the day by solar radiation.)

An interesting development in the area of emergency communications is something called "NVIS" (Near-vertical-incidence skywave). This basically involves using HF (shortwave) radio, but pointing the signal straight up. It then hits the ionosphere and is bounced back down over a wide area (rather like if you pointed a garden hose straight up in the air). This is useful in mountainous or urban areas in which alternative short range radio communication methods (e.g VHF) suffer from line-of-sight problems. It's also useful in poor weather, when VHF or UHF communication can be disrupted by heavy rain or snow (as anyone with Sky TV will know).

Whoops, that was a bit of a brain-dump, wasn't it! Embarassed
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adam2
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As others post, amateur radio has a great deal to commend it, either as a hobby in itself, or more relevant on these forums, as a disaster prep.

Dont forget though that electricity is vital ! the smaller sets dont need much, but for any long term disaster an off grid power source is vital.
PV or wind are the obvous sources, with a generator worth considering.

Ideally standardise on equipment that can work from a 12 volt car battery.

Some smaller and simpler 2 way radios can be purchased and used by anyone without any licence or permit, these are better than nothing but are only a bit better than toys. (the sort sold in high street stores for £20 a pair) The range is typicly a bit more than shouting !

Other types of VHF 2 way radio require a licence, but this can be purchased by anyone, no special is training is required and no exams need be passed. (the sort widely used by security and maintenance workers in large buildings) The range is typicly from a half mile in built up areas, up to many miles in open country.

"Proper" amateur radio requires the correct licence and it is an offence to use such equipment without a licence. Who cares after the SHTF ! but I would strongly advise against breaking the law whilst times are normal.
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Last edited by adam2 on Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Dont forget though that electricity is vital ! the smaller sets dont need much, but for any long term disaster an off grid power source is vital.
PV or wind are the obvous sources, with a generator worth considering


Yes, our 100w rig does consume quite a bit of power when transmitting. Worth bearing in mind that one tends to be listening and scanning more than transmitting. In this case the equipment uses much less power. Solar or wind is a much better solution than generator. I've been involved in numerous "field days", operating from remote locations where a generator has caused a lot of interference problems.

The secret is in the antenna. TBH, our 100w rig is overkill (although a friend of mine would disagree - he's not happy with anything less than a kilowatt Shocked ). We have had great long-distance results with our little 5w portable, by making sure that we are in a good "take off" location, and through careful antenna design. And that runs on AA's if needed! Certainly a little 7Ah gel battery will keep it going for ages.

Quote:
"Proper" amateur radio requires the correct licence and it is an offence to use such equipment without a licence. Who cares after the SHTF ! but I would strongly advise against breaking the law whilst times are normal.


A foundation license is quite easy to get. The course takes, typically, a weekend and is a combination of technical, procedural and legislative information. There are a couple of practical tests and a short multi-choice test at the end, and that's it. As of a couple of years ago, the license is now "for life" - you don't have to renew it each year. The technical stuff is easy - Ohm's law is about as complicated as it gets.

My best advice if anyone was interested, would be to find a local club (go to the RSGB website) and pop along for a couple of evenings. Most clubs offer foundation license training and assessment, and the members are usually very forthcoming at getting newcomers going and into the hobby. My son and I started as complete beginners. The local club organised a course for the scouts (he was a member, I was a leader), and they couldn't have been more helpful at getting us going - even lending us some equipment until we'd bought our own.

TBH, the best reason for getting licensed, apart from staying legal, is that you learn about the technology and how to make it work. Post-SHTF, it would probably be quite a useful skill. Not up there with medicine and carpentry, but useful nevertheless.

It's also quite fun, and definitely not just about being hunched over a microphone in a draughty shack. Some things us amateurs get up to...

Amateur Radio Direction Finding:
Sort of like orienteering, but using directional receivers to locate hidden transmitters

SOTA (Summits On The Air):
"Bagging" mountain tops by climbing them and then logging contacts with other radio operators, using lightweight DODGY.

Contests:
Making and logging as many contacts (usually long-distance) as possible within a set period (usually 24 hours). (This gets taken VERY seriously, especially by the Europeans!).

DX-Peditions:
Travelling to remote, usually inaccessible, locations, setting up camp and a base-station for a few days, and making as many contacts as you can.

All of the above involve pushing your equipment to its limits in order to get the best results, and that's where the learning happens.

"73's" as we say. ("Have a nice day")
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Ideally standardise on equipment that can work from a 12 volt car battery.


Pretty much all Amateur Radio DODGY is native 12v, requiring a power-supply if you want to run off the mains. It therefore has an in-built preference for off-grid! Very Happy
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clv101
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was hoping there might be some hams on PowerSwitch. Smile

Tarrel wrote:
My best advice if anyone was interested, would be to find a local club (go to the RSGB website) and pop along for a couple of evenings. Most clubs offer foundation license training and assessment, and the members are usually very forthcoming at getting newcomers going and into the hobby.

Indeed, we spent an evening with our local club (only a 20 minute walk away) last week, very welcoming and will be taking the Foundation licence with them in the near future.

I've been a "radio professional" for some 10 years, working mostly in cellular network design. Too much of that work is just system engineering now though, plugging black boxes together. I'd like to get back to basics. Looking at the syllabus, I think I pretty much know all the technical stuff for Foundation and Intermediate. Just need to learn the licence and protocol stuff.
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think I pretty much know all the technical stuff for Foundation and Intermediate. Just need to learn the licence and protocol stuff.


In that case it's definitely worth doing the Intermediate. It takes away some of the restrictions applied to the foundation (e.g 10w max power transmission). The practical tests for the Intermediate are more involved, and technology related, whereas for the foundation they only involve operation.

You have to build something. I bought a little short wave receiver DODGY and soldered it together. It was then inspected for my assessment. I still have it and take it with me when I travel. You also have to demonstrate how to wire a 13A plug Laughing
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The RSGB publish A4-sized workbooks, tailored precisely to each license grade. They cover everything you need to know in one place. Around a tenner IIRC. The foundation one is called "Foundation Licence Now!".
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish the thread title's spelling was fixed. Or is it delibberut?
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's wrong with it?
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adam2
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

emordnilap wrote:
I wish the thread title's spelling was fixed. Or is it delibberut?


Done.
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing Cool
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