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Monday, December 5, 2011

SURVIVAL TIP: Communications

One of the most important elements of survivalism is having a communications network established before things goes south.
In todays modern society that has families spread out geographically across the map, it’s will become necessary for family members to have the ability to communicate with each other during a crisis. One cannot rely on cell-phones or land line telephones. This is evidenced by the fact that within the first five minutes of the earthquake that shook the east coast earlier this year—all the cell-phone services were quickly over loaded. Everybody tried to call home at the same time.

The Alternatives:
Citizen band radios could provide some usefulness, but on the average they are not going to work. The 27 MHz – 29 MHz AM bands are already crowded these days. Even if one could find a clear channel, the fact that these low-powered radios are nearly dependent upon a “line of sight” transmission makes them unsuited for the task.

Commercial Radios:

thumbnailThe Alaska Watchmen Group has established a Wide Area Radio Network [ WARN ] that utilizes commercial band radios operating on the 136 MHz – 174 MHz frequency ranges. These radios were bought through various EBay vendors.

The American version, if purchased from vendors within America, limit the radio’s transmission range to the 2-Meter HAM radio band; while the import version allows transmission across the spectrum of the 136-174 MHz band. The added bonus is the 50-watt adjustable power that reaches out across the miles.
There are many excellent features that the Yeasu FT1900 provides; among them is the simple reliability and ruggedness that a mobile radio of this type offers. It can be hooked-up to a car batter indoors, or operated directly from the family vehicle.

CAUTION: Do not try to run this radio off a cigarette lighter plug-in, or hook it up to the fuse box. The radio pulls an enormous amount of amperage; and will burn out all of the fuses. It has to be ran directly from the battery.

For short-range communications we use the Puxin-777 hand-held radios that utilize the same frequency band. These small hand-held units provide 5-watts of operating power, and are ideally suited for close-in communications.

The batteries will last 4-5 days with normal usage. What great about these radios is their simplicity. Choose a frequency, and start transmitting. But remember; the 136-174 MHz band is being used by many public service agencies such as police, fire, aircraft, and others.
In order to increase the range of these hand-held and mobile units, we have built a “Repeater” system that allows the small hand-held radios to increase their transmission power up to 100-watts; thereby allowing our members with hand-held radios to effectively communicate over longer distances.

Using two radios, and an inexpensive digital-repeater; the hand-held radio is mated to a 100-watt power amplifier. This gives the hand-held radios an added boost in power, transmission range, and usability.The first radio receives the transmission and re-transmits it on a different frequency. This is called “cross band” repeating. It allows every member to reach out and receive emergency communications, or to transmit vital data.

For families this is an ideal system during a crisis. In an emergency situation, the hand-held radios can link to the repeater system, and each family member can stay in contact with each other; thereby eliminating the need and reliance upon cell-hone or land-line telephone services.

The Yeasu FT1900R retails for less than $300.00, including the magnet mount antenna.

A pair of Puxin-777 radios, with all of the accessories, costs in the neighborhood of about $140.00

EBay has many great deals when purchasing FM power-amplifier. It costs (on the average) about .50 cents per watt.

The cross-band digital repeater sells for about $85.00 per unit. Make sure that you order the correct cables and adaptors to mate the radios to the digital repeater.

Event Triggers:
An “Event Trigger” is the criteria that establishes a predicated response during an emergency. In our group, the disruption of the power grid, or the communications network, is an automatic trigger that activates our communications network. The Command group initiates  the Wide Area Radio Network on a pre-determined frequency, and each member  “checks in” with their respective status.

Throughout the emergency and/or crisis; the WARN system remains active. This allows each Alaska Watchmen to both keep in touch with family members, and to maintain communications with the Command Group in case an emergency evacuation is necessary.

WARNING: The Federal Communications Agency has strict guidelines and rules concerning the transmission across HAM and Commercial radio band. You could face a hefty fine and have your radio equipment confiscated for violating these rules. BUT during an emergency---All Bets Are Off!

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