The PREPARED Path Online Prepper Course

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The PREPARED Path is an online, self-paced, comprehensive prepper course aimed at educating you on a variety of different self-reliance topics in twelve modules.

Here is an overview of each module:

The PREPARED Path Contents

  1. Water – Water procurement, storage, and treatment.
  2. Food Storage – A variety of food storage techniques including: using a vacuum food saver, dehydration, preserving meats, canning, bulk foods, and more.
  3. Sanitation and Hygiene – Sanitation, garbage, showering, laundry, dishes, and plenty more are dealt with.
  4. First Aid and Medical – From basic first aid (wounds and burns), pandemics, and medical kits, to using herbs, essential oils, and more.
  5. Safety and Security – General home safety is covered (e.g., fire safety, CO poisoning, etc), self-defense options, firearms, caches, NBC and EMP, etc.
  6. Heating and Cooling – An assortment of portable heaters and permanent heating are covered as well as some considerations for cooling.
  7. Cooking and Hot Water – Learn about camping stoves, makeshift stoves, Dutch oven cooking, and even solar cooking.
  8. Lighting – Candles, lanterns, flashlights, and solar-powered options.
  9. Communications – Learn about radios (weather alert, AM/FM, shortwave), CB radios, two-way radios, and even HAM radio.
  10. Power and Fuel – Batteries, the usual fuels (propane, gasoline, diesel), generators, solar, and more.
  11. Shelter and Clothing – You still need to know how to keep yourself warm and dry, both with clothing and how to care for your home.
  12. Everything Else – This is the rest of it, including money, precious metals, assorted tools, dependents, special needs individuals, and skills/knowledge preservation.

As an added bonus there are dozens of really nice documents that you can download.

  • 5 Evacuation Planning tools (e.g., design bug out kit, evacuation procedures, priority checklists, bug out)
  • 4 Disaster Readiness tools (e.g., disaster action planning, task tracking, fire escape plan)
  • 12 Best Practices tools (e.g., firearms, water and food, wildfires, communications, etc.)
  • 4 Food Planning tools (e.g., food storage calculator, food storage recipes database)

The amount of information in this course is really impressive. Damian over at reThinkSurvival.com spent a lot of time creating it. You can compile this information from a dozen different locations on the web, but I haven’t found another singularly comprehensive online resource like this anywhere. Well worth the cost of the course.

Below is image you can click to get to sign up for the course. It is an affiliate link, but know that I don’t promote a product that I don’t believe in. Please take a closer look at this course.

The PREPARED Path

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Prepper Acronyms: Common Survival Acronyms to Know

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Prepper Acronyms: Common Survival Acronyms to Know SHTF, BOB, TEOTWAWKI… Whether you embrace the shorthand or not, the fact remains that there is a lot of it out there. It has almost evolved into an exclusive language where you can hold a whole conversation without using layman’s terms. I’m pretty used to this myself, there …

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10 Best Survival Skills for Natural Calamities

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Tomorrow is never certain.  We never know when there might be a dissonance which can disrupt the comfortable nature we are used to on a daily basis. There are many different emergency events which some people prepare for but, unfortunately, most of us tend to ignore. At some point in our lives, we will have

Radio Silence – Communication Without Electronics

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

I love modern technology, particularly the electronics that allow me to communicate so quickly and easily. Even so, the loss of that capability – for whatever reason it’s lost – doesn’t have to be entirely devastating. We communicate not only without our electronics, but without noise all the time.

I tap my wrist, hold up my hand with my fingers splayed. Across a room, instantly, I’ve told someone they have five minutes, or that I need/want five minutes. I tap beside my eyes, point in a general direction, and then point lower or higher in an aisle of a store. It tells somebody at the other end that I found what we’re looking for, or that I want them to look at something, and then where more specifically that something is.

We do it nearly instinctively, some of us more than others. While hand gestures especially change meaning culture to culture, the ability to communicate without speaking is inherent to our species. It has been since before the first cave painting.

Recently the topic of communication without radios came up. The possible reasons for a non-radio life are pretty varied – a generator or solar panels with significant damage, low winter light, extended-time crisis when even rechargeable batteries are exhausted, seasons and locations when it’s hard to get messages through, EMPs and solar storms, neighbors who have the skills to survive but don’t have the same EMP-proof stockpiles we do, newer homesteaders and preppers who can survive but haven’t moved into serious “thrive” supplies yet.

There are also times we want to communicate, but don’t necessarily want to be heard. Hunting and tactical reasons are two of those.

History and modern technology have given us a lot of options to work around those possibilities and needs. Here are a few.

Morse

Morse code can be applied to a lot of communication options. While it’s primarily associated with radios, it was once a common ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication method using light instead.

Navy signalman using Morse –

It wasn’t until I started looking for an image online that I realized how dependent people are on the blinker-clicker features of their flashlights for light-transmitted Morse. If you have a milspec light that can take that abuse, great.

If not, cover and uncover your flashlight with your hand.  It’s still fast and easy.

For some of us with broken and aging fingers, and for people who are turning their lights on and off to get the same effect, it’s not only actually easier, sometimes faster, it’s also going to save your light a lot of wear and tear.

You can use a laser pointer for it as well, or cover and uncover a battery-candle-oil lantern with a box (or an oatmeal tub, coffee can, small ones with your hand).

Containing Light

Light stands out like it’s cool at night. Even a little green-red-blue laser light. It travels a long way when it’s dark-dark.

If you’re only trying to not stand out to everybody with one of those insane fifty-yard beams and you’re working from a set, expected position, you can signal by flashing the laser light or a flashlight into your palm or onto your chest, onto a tree or certain wall that’s visible from another location but not most of the property.

If you anticipate the need to really not be seen by anybody but your LOS partner, carry a flattened toilet paper roll wrapped around your small flashlight. (Flattened but tube, not sliced.)

When you’re ready to send a message back to the house, to the other side of a building, along the length of a wall, or down a roadway, cup the tube in one hand so you’re blocking the back, and stick the front of the light just inside it. Or, hold a laser sight/pointer just outside it.

The roll contains the light, so only somebody facing you sees it. If you want, add a mirror or a white disk to the palm to make it a little easier for that person to see.

I pretty much prefer those two general methods, regardless, because you stand a really good chance of blinding the person you’re trying to signal, or at least giving them dots in the eyes, especially with a pointer.

 

Ship Flags

The sea services have been using specific flags to communicate since some of the earliest days, from pirates warning about trying to run from them, warning others that illnesses are aboard, to requesting assistance. This site has a list of international signal flags, their phonetic name, and the navy/maritime meanings.

The phonetic name becomes valuable, because some of the meanings at sea translate directly or with minor modification to things we face on land, too. The Morse, semaphore, or ASL of the phonetic name can be flashed or signed to convey a whole thought or message, just as a flag would.

The flags can be made – painted on boards or drawn on cards to use in windows or to be flashed, or drawn in chalk on a wall or sidewalk as needed. It doesn’t have  to be fabric, or flying in the air.

Any flag, banner, or windsock at all can be part of group and neighbor communication.

If we all normally fly the local team’s colors, but somebody puts it at half-mast or upside down, they could be saying they need help – or they’re ready for harvest/planting assistance. One person with a weather station might say rain, so a blue banner goes up. A black cross on yellow might mean a woman went into labor and the local sheep keeper would be welcome as a midwife. A black dot might mean there’s sickness – don’t come calling.

A flag might also just mean all’s well here, and a quick snip to drop it on the way past alerts all the rest that the gunfire wasn’t practice, it’s real, or that there’s a fire-fire, not burning waste or smoking out bees.

We can get as creative or simple as we want.

Semaphore Flagging

Another powerful tool in the box for sending messages visually, with the same alpha-numeric capabilities of Morse, is semaphore signaling – that signalman out there with the two bright flags or cone lights. Semaphore flag signaling was also once done using a single flag in just four positions (you can find it called wigwag signaling as well).

 

With two flags, there are fewer combinations to remember, but you also have to have two flags – and hands – available. For both, a larger line-of-sight space is required so the flags can be seen.

Established Shorthand Codes

Radio Q codes  and 10 codes have a lot of value for quickly sending messages.

Various established codes provide shorthand communication for “Suspicious vehicle” (10-37), “your keying is hosed and hit every branch of the ugly tree on its way down” (QSD), “Report to [location]” (10-25), “stand by” (QRX), and “Be super-duper quiet” (“Do not use siren or flashers”) (10-40).

Those are all phrases we might use, from communicating across a yard or across a farm, as a simple survivor with a neighbor or family, or as a group with defensive and patrol forces. 10-codes especially have a lot of preexisting elements that are of use in many situations.

They can be transmitted with clicks, whistles, a pipe smacked with a hammer, marker on a dry erase board, flashed/blinker lights, or using semaphore flag(s) and hand signals.

We can also easily modify or truncate existing codes.

“QRO” (are you troubled by static noise) can become “do you hear anything”.

10-81 (breathalyzer report) becomes “just a drunk”.

10-90 (bank alarm) can become a prefacing code for an audio or visual alarm, with the location following it.

As with cop and amateur radio codes, there are hospital codes that can apply or be readily modified to fit life without radio communication. Heavy equipment operators and divers also have signals we can steal and modify. Knowing the common motorcyclist signals can be applied to daily life as well as serious disasters.

Military Hand Signals

Whether we’re ever planning to clear a house or a yard with another person or not, military and police hand signals also have applications for many situations. The numbers alone are useful. There are also action-information signals that are pretty handy.

The difference between “stop” and “freeze” gets used with my dumb dog 20 and 200 feet from our house with some regularity. I prefer to just go extract her or the ball from my pots and planters, but sometimes I just want her to stay generally where she is while a car passes. “Go back” translates to “out/away” in our world – I want her to back away from me, usually while I’m playing with sharp things or might squish her.

I originally thought it was just my quirky father telling dogs, the rest of the family, and hunting buddies that we were going to the vehicle with his “steering wheel” gesture. For a while I though the military had stolen the “down” signal from hunters with dogs.

Turned out, not so much. He just modified them from his military days.

Even without need for silence, it’s just really easy to whistle or clap a hand once, tap a window, ring a triangle, and then make a quick gesture, as opposed to shouting fifteen times or hiking out to somebody.

The gestures themselves are rooted in military hand signals we each learned (decades apart). In most of my lifetime’s applications of them, they’ve had no military bearing at all. But like the ability to say “I love you” a last time from a window, or immediately flag a distress signal in a boating-savvy community, they entered into our world and stayed in use.

ASL

American sign language has some of the same benefits as the everyday-everyone useful military signals. There are a world’s worth of truncated single-gesture shorthand signs, for everything from “man” or “female child” to “taking lunch”.  Deaf-mute people are able to hold the same sophisticated conversation as speaking and hearing folks. The addition of spelling and broader concepts to military hand signals allows ASL signers to be more specific across even distance, silently.

It’s also just a handy skill to have and might increase your employability when you stick it on a resume.

Written Word

As with flags and hand signals, we can take cues from history and modern eras with leaving drawn symbols – or flashing cards and posters – as well.

Here’s a fairly comprehensive listing of WWII symbols. It wouldn’t be completely crazy talk to go with another nation’s symbols, such as German or Russian, if you want to keep the information a little more segmented, although there tends to be a lot of commonality.

The old hobo symbols can be a little tricky. I can think of three or four for “safe water” alone. It also means adjusting from “black spot of death” and “X marks the spot” to slashes and X’s are bad, and dots are good.

However, from “dangerous man” and “vicious dogs” to “rickety bridge” or “avoid this in rain”, there are many apply, whether we’re planning on a community, thinking “Kilroy” situations, or just making notes for family or a core group.

The symbols also allow us to quickly and easily annotate our own maps for areas of concern or resources.

Limitations

The limitation to all of these is line of sight. But in some to many cases, being able to communicate even from a driveway to the house, the length of a hall, or stacked in a ditch, without making noise or taking a lot of time, makes them worth considering. There’s a good reason many of them have never faded from use, even with today’s technology.

If you want to communicate at range in the dark, you’ll need flashlights or pointers, (or oil-candle lanterns if your non-radio needs are expected due to long-duration interruptions in shipping). For us, that’s balanced, because we have lights on us, almost always, but not always a cell signal and not always a radio. That might not hold true for everyone.

Hand and flag signals are limited in range, while light carries longer distance. However, blinker-light comms is only really reliable at night. I may be able to use red boards, car windshield heat reflectors, or white flags to increase range in the daytime.

The number-one piece of gear for longer-distance communication without electronics is going to be binoculars or a scope.

Day or night, if I can’t see what you’re sending, clearly, we have delays or miscommunication. They’re inexpensive enough and should be part of most preparedness closets anyway.

If you’re mostly in brush country and are only talking about distances of double-digit yards, don’t break the bank there – there are more important things. If you’re looking at using blinker lights and somebody climbing a windmill or water tower daily or weekly to do a neighborhood-town flag check, a simple scope should work.

It’s also a lot to learn.

Instead of planning to use all of them, maybe take notes, print guides, but cherry pick. The very basic hand signals (heard, saw, numbers, armed or unarmed, child, adult, animal, danger, recover/relax, say again) and basic Morse code would take priority. 10 and Q codes can be added on. A few flags or graphics to represent ideas or situations follow.

Radio Silence Backups

The point is not to discourage anyone with fifty-five million more things to learn or buy. It’s that we have lots of options even if electronics-driven communication becomes unavailable. With any luck, there are some ideas here that can add some resiliency and redundancy to existing plans.

And, since a lot of it is learning based, not resource based, non-radio comms can be a way to improve preparedness with free-inexpensive skill building while saving up for purchases.

If you liked this article, please rate it.

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6 Best Survival Whistles For Attention and Rescue

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Survival WhistlesEverything was going fine.

You were out hiking by yourself, the sun was shining, the scenery was gorgeous. The trail wound through the hills before you and life was good….

But then you got lost.

The trail disappeared, and with it, your sense of direction. Were you heading south? No…it was West. Right? You can’t remember.

You shout for help, but your voice is lost in the wind, carried off by an indifferent breeze. No one will hear that.

If only you had a survival device, some specialized tool that could make a loud, piercing noise. One that would penetrate the wilderness around you, notifying someone you need help.

If only you had an emergency survival whistle!

Who knows how many people have died in such a situation. Who knows how many lives have been lost only because the victims had no way of signaling for help. One is too many.

According to statistics, on average there are 90,000 missing people in the USA at any given time. And there are approximately 750,000 missing person reports per year. Now, obviously, not all these missing person reports are hikers lost in the woods, but many of them are.

Fortunately, there’s a helpful solution to this problem. There’s a simple way to reduce the number of unnecessary missing persons. Invest in a survival whistle and put in on your keychain.

Hell, buy ten emergency whistles and put one inside each of your backpacks. Inside your car, all around your house, in your bug out bag and anywhere else you think where they might come in handy.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

And these loud distress signals aren’t just useful for backpackers. They’re important for hunters, backcountry skiers, sailors, day hikers, campers, mountain bikers, climbers, etc. They are essential for anyone who ventures into the wilderness with regularity.

Even those who live in urban environments or in rough parts of town can benefit from having a loud whistle. Whistles help scare away thieves, pickpockets, kidnappers, and criminals.

hanging whistle 1The Many Uses For Survival Whistles

To illustrate how useful emergency whistles can be, here’s a short list of ways a survival whistle can come in handy:

  • Directing a hunting dog.
  • Getting the attention of a large crowd.
  • Signaling drill squads.
  • Lost in the woods when things are scary, cold, and lonely.
  • Stranded on a lifeboat at sea and you see a large boat in the distance.
  • Injured in the wilderness, cannot escape without help but no one is with you.
  • You shot your friend while out hunting. You need to stay and tend to him while signaling for help.
  • You were rock climbing, got stuck in a storm and are unable to get off the cliff wall.
  • You’re cornered in a dark alleyway by a bunch of creeps.
  • Someone pulls a knife on you and demands your wallet.
  • Your dog is lost.
  • You’re a child being kidnapped.
  • Directing traffic in an emergency.
  • Refereeing a sporting event.

The applications are truly endless!

And the best part is they’re lightweight, inexpensive, small, and packable. You don’t have to break the bank buying a handful, and don’t have to break your back either. They only weight a few ounces at most.

So Many Choices

But there are a lot of survival whistles out there.

The free market has seized upon the need for survival whistles. Today you can find everything from ordinary whistles, to super-tech loud noise makers.

Finding the right one can be an overwhelming task but that’s what this article is for.

I’ll be discussing the best, most useful emergency whistles on the market today. Then I’ll touch on how you can make your own emergency whistle in a pinch.

Investing a Survival Whistle

Most of us have been playing with whistles since we were little kids. Strutting about and blasting away in high pitched squeals that annoyed our parents to no end.

But when you stop to think about it, the whistle is an incredible invention. It’s a small handheld device that turns your exhale into a high-pitched, piercing screech.

It doesn’t scream words. It doesn’t emit flashing lights, it doesn’t send out radio signals. But if you’re hiking and you hear a loud whistle blasting off off-trail, you know exactly what’s going on. Someone’s in trouble and they need your help.

That’s why emergency whistles are a prime example of non-verbal communication.

Owning a good survival whistle is important. Many outdoor backpacks include a survival whistle built into the buckle clips. So even if you forget to pack your emergency whistle, you can still have one at all times. Whether you’re in the woods, the mountains, at sea, or in a city.

But these small built-in buckle whistles are cheap, not 100% reliable and not the loudest option available. So even if your backpack has one built in, I still recommend investing in a high-quality survival whistle. Then stashing it in inside your backpack or bug out bag or adding to your keychain.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Here is a list of some of the best emergency whistles on the market, and what makes them worth a look:

1 – The Emergency Zone 5 in 1 Survival Whistle

5 in 1 Survival WhistleThe Emergency Zone 5 in 1 is similar in form to most common survival whistles. It’s simple and effective.

Not only do you get a loud whistle, but you also get a waterproof container. A container for stashing matches, fishing line, hooks, and other small survival tools. You also get a small and compass and a signal mirror.

The bright orange color of the tube makes this whistle easy to spot in a chaotic scene. The entire whistle floats in case you drop it in water.

It comes with a lanyard that can also be used in an emergency. And it includes both matches and a flint inside.

2 – The Scream Whistle

scream-whistleThe scream whistle is designed to work in all conditions. Making it the ultimate survival whistle and ideal for distress signaling.

The unique flat design of this survival whistle prevents it from holding water. So you can completely submerge it, pull it out, and it still works.

It’s small, lightweight, cheap, reliable, and produces an extremely loud 100 dB whistle. It utilizes dual tone technology so it carries over greater distances (it’s easily heard a mile away).

What’s even better is you can get this whistle at a great price: FREE.

This survival whistle is damn useful and freaking cheap (only $3.95 s&h). I recommend buying a few of them and dispersing them throughout your survival gear.

Heck, get one for each of your friends as well.

3 – The 7 in 1 Survival Whistle with LED Flashlight and Compass

7 in 1 Survival WhistleThe 7 in 1 Survival Whistle is a high-tech whistle that comes with a LED flashlight and a compass (as the name implies). It also includes the following:

  • signaling mirror
  • waterproof storage compartment
  • thermometer
  • magnifying glass
  • 16” lanyard

This device is helpful in any a survival situation.

The main drawback to this whistle is its color. Instead of neon-orange (which makes it easy to spot), this one’s green. This color tends to blend into nature’s surroundings.

4 – Whistle, Orange, Hornblast

Whistle, Orange, HornblastThis simple, elegant little survival whistle is flat and high pitched. The Orange Hornblast Whistle comes attached to a key wire that fastens to life vests, lanyards, key chains, or equipment bags.

These are inexpensive as well, making it easy to pick up several.

5 – Mini Survival Whistle with Key Chain

Mini Survival Keychain WhistleThis is a durable aluminum survival whistle that produces a very loud sound. The Mini Survival Whistle is made of brass and surface polished with an anti-oxidation coating.

This whistle doesn’t come with a lanyard, but it’s easy to attach via the key chain loop.

6 – Paracord Bracelet Survival Whistle

Paracord Bracelet With Survival WhistleThe better paracord bracelets include a survival whistle. I honestly can’t think of a better way to carry a survival whistle than having it as a part of your paracord bracelet.

Why? Because paracord is so useful for survival and then to combine it with an emergency whistle is smart.

I don’t wear my survival bracelet to show off. I wear it because it has paracord, a firestarter, and an emergency whistle. If you wear it every day, you’ll never be without a whistle in an emergency.

Bullet Survival WhistleHow To Make A Bullet Survival Whistle

Making your own whistle in an emergency is not ideal, but it can be done. Try not to count on your ability to do so in an emergency. It’s always better to prepare first and improvise second.

If get a good survival whistle and add it to your pack, you won’t have to worry about improvisation. Scrounging for materials to try and make your own whistle.

Instead, you reach into your bag, grab your whistle and start blasting away.

Also, if you’re robbed at knife point, making an emergency whistle isn’t going to work either.

But you can’t always expect 100% preparation in every conceivable situation. So it’s always worth understanding how to manage when you find yourself caught off guard.

So, for this reason, here’s a quick guide to create your own improvised survival whistle:

1 – Find a Bullet Casing

Bullet casings are the best material to use for this project. Long range rifle calibers are the shape you’re looking for.

Remember the “aluminum alloy survival whistle” from the previous section? You want to find a casing shaped like that. Long and slender, like that of a .223.

Bullet casings are the best option because their shape is already similar to a whistle. Other items would take more machining to get the shape right.

So to complete this guide we’ll assume you have a .223 casing.

2 – Shave Down the Casing

You need the casing to be one single diameter without a neck. So you’ll need to take the casing and shave the neck off with a rock or file. This takes a bit of elbow grease and time but it’s definitely doable with persistence.

3 – File a Notch

Next, you need to utilize a 90-degree rough edge (rock, concrete or file) to create the desired cut-out shape.

If you need a reference on what it should look like, take another look at these aluminum alloy whistles or watch the video below.

4 – Find a Stick That Fits Tight

In order to create the whistle sound from a bullet casing, you need to insert a stick into the open end. You need the stick to be snug enough to hold in place.

5 – Shave The Top Of The Stick Down

Finally, remove the stick from the whistle, then shave a little bit off the top. This will allow high-velocity air to funnel through and hit the cut-out hole. This process creates the high pitched whistle you desire.

Don’t Rely On Making A Survival Whistle In An Emergency

This option is NOT to be relied on in an emergency. It’s more of a fun project before you’re in dire straits.

If you can’t find a .223 and .22 casing laying around, try using a ballpoint pen cap or a small tube of scrap metal.

Anything that can create a sharp, shrill, piercing sound when blown into will work. The device matters less than the product: a loud shrill noise.

It doesn’t matter what you use to get rescued, as long as you do.

Improvisation is an important survival skill and one you should practice often. Because rarely do events work out according to your original plan.

No plan survives first contact so being able to think adaptively and react accordingly is essential.

Always (always) make the most out of the resources available to you.

The Final Word

Whistling has been an important survival skill for thousands of years. Of course, back in the day, people used their lips and their hands to do it. But today, whistles have been refined into a better survival tool.

They are the perfect way to signal for help when you’re stuck in an emergency. No doubt, whistles have saved countless lives over the years. They are cheap, effective and reliable. They’re an essential survival tool. An essential piece to anyone’s bug out bag.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

So if you take survival seriously (and if you’re reading this, then you do) you must own at least one survival whistle. Don’t get caught without one in a situation where attention could have saved your life. Because that’s the kind of situation that ends badly.

Save your future self and keep an emergency whistle on you at all times.

Will Brendza

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4 Secret Languages That Will Allow You to Communicate Anywhere

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My mom was an American Sign Language teacher while I was growing up, and learning how to sign and fingerspell was just a part of my childhood. Even today, it’s not unusual for Mom to start finger spelling and signing to me in public places. My wife and kids also know some sign language and we can all fingerspell.

It occurred to me that every family or close-knit group of friends should have at least one way to convey information and messages to each other secretly.

American Sign Language/Fingerspelling

American Sign Language has become very commonplace over the years. High schools and colleges accept it as a foreign language credit. It’s not quite the rarity that it was when I was growing up. Start signing to someone while sitting at a restaurant or in a store, and you may very well see at least one pair of eyes “eavesdropping”.

Now, my family mostly fingerspells. My young daughter is very nearly fluent in ASL but the rest of us, not so much. What we’ve developed over the years, though, are “secret” signs known only to us. For example, we have a sign that means, “I’m going to the restroom”, and we use it when we’re out in public. It’s super simple, doesn’t interrupt conversations, but I know where one of my kids has gone if I look around and don’t see them. Finger spelling is very, very easy, and this chart shows all the letters and numbers.

While ASL is definitely worth learning, it can also be a tool for anyone who just wants to invent family-only signs to convey important messages, such as:

  • Let’s go NOW!
  • Be careful.
  • Get away from that person/place.
  • I need to talk with you.

What other vital, survival type messages might you want to create signs for?

The easiest way to do this is to select one letter from this fingerspelling chart, and that sign conveys the whole message. Another option is to learn random, quick signs and then assign them to messages. For example, the sign for “question” is just bending the first finger up and down a couple of times. That sign could be assigned any message at all — “Are you okay?” or “Let’s leave.” The important concept is to choose a simple to remember sign or ASL letter that everyone can learn, assign it to a message, pratice, and then use it when you’re out and about.

This ASL dictionary could help you decide what signs to use.

Learning how to fingerspell is really easy. This video gives very clear instructions. Hint: Precise finger and hand positions will help you avoid “misspellings” and miscommunication.

Gregg Shorthand

Boy, you don’t see this around much anymore, but that is precisely why you should learn it! For many, many years, “taking shorthand” was commonplace in offices where one person would dictate a memo, note, or some other document while another person jotted it down, word for word, in shorthand. A really good stenographer can take dictation at well over 100 words per minute.

I lerned some shorthand from a retired teacher who taught it in high school in the 1960s and 70s. There are also videos on YouTube that teach the entire course, and it’s a brilliant way to leave written messages anywhere — on paper, on a dirty windshield, in dirt or sand, you name it.

This is what shorthand looks like, if you’ve never seen it before! (Born after 1980 or so, you probably haven’t.)

Again, if you’re concerned that others might recognize shorthand and then decipher your message, you can always create phrases that only you and your family know. It’s important to not only learn how to WRITE shorthand but READ it! For me, that was the hardest part, but when I got used to it, I could read it rather fluently. Here is a link to a pdf of a beginner’s handbook to learn shorthand.

By the way, aside from writing secret notes, or note in a family code, shorthand is awesome for students to learn in order to quickly take lecture notes.

This lesson gives some basic instruction for getting started but you may want to work with a well-organized lesson book like this one.

Learn an obscure language

At one time, if you wanted to learn a foreign language, you either had to sign up for a class or buy Rosetta Stone. Right now, I’m using an excellent online program, Mango Languages, to learn German and expand my Spanish vocabulary. My wife has been working on learning Hungarian, and her lessons gave me the idea of our family learning an obscure language that no one around us would ever recognize.

With this criteria in mind, Mango Languages offers online courses in:

  • Armenian
  • Bengali
  • Cherokee
  • Icelandic
  • Scottish Gaelic
  • Tamil

There are many other languages on their list of 71 that would be great to use as a secret, family second language. There’s no need to become completely fluent, either. Just learn words and phrases that might come in handy in an emergency or the type of things you’d like to communicate in public but wouldn’t want others to overhear and understand.

Learning a foreign language together as a family or group would be fun and practical.

Mango also has a phone app that is great for practicing anywhere. Duo Lingo is another website and phone app that is helpful, but for solid instruction, Mango is by far the better.

Of course, if you want to go low-tech, there are outstanding language instruction series you can buy. I prefer being able to read AND hear when it comes to learning a language. I noticed that Audible has Armenian language lessons and they probably have other languages as well.

Spruce up on Morse code

I’ve been taking the Advanced Prepping Intensive with Preppers University, and one of the assigned DIY projects was to create a Morse code key and begin using it to practice the code. It’s likely that the only people alive who know and use Morse code are ham radio operators, and old-timers, at that. When the FCC dropped the requirement to learn Morse code as part of the ham radio license in 2007, I’m sure a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief! However, this code is a practical way to communicate when you’re visually separated from other people or just want to tap out a few words in code that will likely not be noticed, much less understood, by the people around you.

This would be a fun project, either as a family or as an individual. Learn Morse code and then communicate with each other using the code. The author of this page says you can learn it in one minute! I’m not so sure about that but, for sure, you’ll want to follow some type of organized lessons.

You’ll be able to tap messages with your fingertips, click messages by snapping your fingers, tap with a pencil. Visually, you can send messages with Morse code using a flashlight, laser, or signalling mirror, and, if you can touch someone, pass along messages by using finger pressure. There have been cases of miners communicating via Morse by tugging on a rope. It’s a versatile language to learn.

An official Morse code practice key runs around $45. My little DIY key looks something like the one in the video and was quite easy to construct. Either way, do work with a key in order to build muscle memory with this tactile language.

One last secret language, sort of

Our family jokes that our secret family code phrase is, “The black cat crows at dawn.” In reality, we have a handful of codes that are more versatile than a sentence. I have a certain phrase/nickname for my handgun, and my kids know that if they ever hear me use that nickname, they are to immediately pay attention and follow instructions.

We have another phrase, the name of a foreign candy, and, again, if I ever use that phrase in conversation or writing, as in an email or postcard, for example, they know something is going on and it’s vital to pay attention. It’s kind of like, “Alas, Babyon!” in the book, Alas, Babylon. (Well worth reading.)

I strongly encourage you to create some sort of secret language for your own family or group, preferably more than one. Work towards having coded messages that can be communicated visually, verbally, or audibly.

Is there another type of secret language you can suggest?

 

The post 4 Secret Languages That Will Allow You to Communicate Anywhere appeared first on Preparedness Advice.

Reasons to Learn Basic Morse Code

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Reasons to Learn Basic Morse Code Basic Morse code is not something many people know. Full Morse code is something even fewer people know. They may be able to recognize that it’s Morse, but have no clue what the message is saying. Few people are interested in something so rudimentary when it comes to communication …

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Survival Gear Review: LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio

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NOAA_Weather_Radio_6

NOAA_Weather_Radio_2There are pieces of emergency gear that preppers and survivalists simply have to have.  A multi-functional, multi-powered weather radio is one of them.  One of these radios should be extremely high on your “to buy” list if you do not have one now.  It needs to be kept easy to access and ready to go out the door, too. Undoubtedly there are numerous such weather radios on the market and I have had two or three over the years that all eventually died.  I have an old model sold by L.L.Bean that still works but the station dial is so crude it is difficult to zero in on a station with clear reception.  It also eats batteries like popcorn. Enter an intuitive, energy efficient rebuttal to older inefficient radios: the LaCrosse Model 810.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

This LaCrosse model has it all.  In fact its features are darn near too many to mention, but here is a rundown on the essentials. First of all, the radio is small and compact.  Out of the package it appears to be well made in a black matte finish in ABS plastic.  The grill or speaker front is silver matte chromed.  Had it been bright chrome, it could have been used as a signal function.  The ‘control’ panel is centered on the front with simple, intuitive buttons to manage all the radio’s functions.

The LaCrosse Model 810

NOAA_Weather_RadioTo begin activation of the LaCrosse 810, pull the battery seal out of the back to activate the LIR123A recharge battery to initially power up the unit.  Backup power sources also include a built-in solar panel on top that can recharge the radio in 10-12 hours of sunlight.  Also available is a hand crank on the back to recharge the unit.  About one minute of cranking gives 30 minutes of radio juice to hear anything that is being broadcasted.

Related: Surviving Alone

A red charging crank rate light will shine as you crank.  It will turn green when fully charged.  As you crank, you can get into a sort of rhythm, but one minute of cranking seems an eternity.  It occurred to me during the process what a great job for the kids to do.  

The radio itself can be set to AM-FM for standard stations for music, news, and local weather.  One more button push switches the radio to the NOAA weather bands for fully detailed weather reports from an official government weather source.  The LaCrosse 810 picks up seven weather band frequencies, so something should be available and live no matter where you are.  

Other Features

NOAA_Weather_Radio_4Besides the more or less regular features of a weather radio, the 810 unit also has a built-in LED flashlight with focused fresnal lens, a blue back light flashes red during weather alerts around the digital read out panel, a digital station tuner, volume buttons, and a digital clock reading AM-PM time readouts. There are two stainless steel bars on the ends of the front panel which go through the case to reinforce the internal framework of the radio to make it more durable.  On the side is a telescoping antenna that can be pulled out and rotated to isolate the best radio reception.  There is also a 3.5 mm earphone jack if you want to listen via headphones.  

Read Also: Survival Radio: What Will Work 

Also built into this unit is a mini-USB port that can be used to charge the radio via a computer or any other USB power source.  Users can also utilize the hand crank feature to charge a phone or other external mobile device. The LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio is very simple to self-use, but directions are printed on the bottom of the radio in case the paper instructions become lost.  The included directions come printed in three languages, English, Spanish, and French.  I guess the Russians will have to hack in.  

As a final footnote, I plan to find some kind of soft-sided slip case or bag to store the LaCrosse radio to offer extra shock protection and safety from any outside elements.  For now the radio sits on my work desk ready for the next weather event or to listen to talk radio or music.  The LaCrosse 810 retails for just under $50 and is well worth the investment.

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Communication After an EMP

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Communication After an EMP Do you know how to communicate after an EMP? What kind of gear will you be needing? What will you use after the electronics in your location have mostly all gone down? Have any idea how to protect your electronics from a potential EMP? If you’re interested in finding out, today’s …

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How To Speak Survival Abroad: SOS Signs And Languages

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Survivopedia How To Speak Survival Abroad Sos Signs And Languages

So, it just so happens that you’re on vacation in Italy when SHTF in a small or large way. You were dependent upon your little English-to-Italian dictionary or Google Translate, but somehow it seems inefficient to stop to look up the translation for “help me, I’m choking.”

Are there universal words or gestures that transcend language barriers so that you can survive no matter where you are? Sort of.

We’ve had some questions about learning a “universal language of survival” and we are going to adress them now.

“One thing I have never seen suggested is to learn a few key words or better yet, phrases, in multiple languages. As our communities become ever more diverse, knowing a few phrases in at least two other languages may make the difference between getting help or getting shot! Just knowing the word “Doctor” in another language may save you or a member of your family or team and could mean life or death in a SHTF meltdown. I hope we never need any of these things we prepare for but as my dad always drilled into my head, “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”. I had no idea how important that saying would be until I was face to face with a situation that required prior prepping to have survived it. Thank God I did and I am here to report it works but you need to do it now (prepping), when you find out you should have, it will be too late. Thanks daddy for riding me hard and may you rest in peace, I had it when I needed it!”

Twister Jones

First, understand that you need to be very clear when using gestures, and at least educate yourself a bit about local customs and gestures.

For example, the A-OK sign here (pointer and thumb touching, other fingers up), and in most other places, will get you a smile and an acknowledgement that everything is, indeed, OK. However, in France, it means zero or worthless. In Venezuela or Turkey, you’re implying homosexuality, and in Brazil, just go ahead and save yourself some time by flipping them the bird. That one’s universal.

The thumbs-up sign is another that you may want to avoid, especially in the Middle East. Here, we have a similar meaning if you start with the thumbs-up sign by your leg and jerk it up – it means, basically, “up yours.” There, just the thumbs-up is enough to convey the sentiment.

On the other hand, there are some gestures that are universal: shrugging for “I don’t know,” nodding for “yes,” shaking your head for “no” (except from Bulgaria, where they are reversed) and putting both hands to your throat to indicate that you’re choking. And that’s about where the open line of universal communication ends.

Even different militaries can’t get on board with a universal signaling system. There are, however, two realms that DO have international signals: sailing and diving. Very few people outside of those two worlds understand all or even most of the signals.

Learn the long forgotten secrets that kept our forefathers alive!

The same thing goes for Morse code. One thing that everybody should know, though, is Morse code for SOS, or distress. It’s three long (or slow) taps, three short (or quick) taps, and three more long (or slow) taps.

Video first seen on survivexnonprofit

Come here, or follow me

If you’re trying to get somebody to come to you or follow you, it may be a good idea to use the closed palm, sweeping gesture instead of the one-fingered come-hither gesture that is perfectly acceptable in the states. That one is offensive in several places.

Stop

This one is crazy confusing and has even been associated with examples of lethal miscommunications. Stop means stop, but there is no universal sign for it. Some people use a closed fist, which can be associated with a “right on” expression or even a Seig Heil-type sentiment.

An open palm, which is more common with Europeans, can be a sign of welcome or a sign that a person isn’t armed in some cultures. It is, however, the universal diving signal for “stop”.

Listen

This one actually is pretty universal. Cup a hand to your ear to tell somebody to listen.

Look

To get somebody to look at something, the gesture of pointing your pointer and middle fingers at your eyes, then toward whatever you want the person to see is fairly universal. Again, this is also the universal diving sign for look.

Distress

This one is much more universal, though not in a social scenario. You may have noticed that the distress signal in Morse code had a bunch of threes in it.

Three is a common number for distress signals. If you’re building an emergency signal fire or sign, place three fires or indicators in a triangle pattern. If you’re using a whistle, use three blasts.

Choking

This one actually has a universally-recognizable signal. Place both hands at your throat. If only everything was this simple.

Buddy up, or stay together

This one is pretty much universal. Point to the people that you’re referring to, then touch your index fingers together horizontally. You can also pair the middle fingers together with the pointer fingers, which may indicate more than two people.

I’m cold

Cross your arms over your chest and rub your upper arms.

Throughout my research for this article, I was hard-pressed to come up with any words at all that are universal, and very few signs or signals other than those used to indicate distress. I have, however, had some experience with diving and believe personally that their system is a good one. The signals are clear, concise, and universal to the diving community.

There are, of course, some signals that are local due to native dangerous fish, etc. but for the most part, the signs are recognized all across the community.

With a combination of signals and body language, you may be able to get your point across. For example, if you cross your arms over your chest with your fists closed and shake your head vigorously, people may understand that you’re trying to tell them that something is dangerous.

The “X” is sort of a universal code for dangerous or poisonous – think skull and crossbones.

There doesn’t seem to be any single word or phrase that can be used to communicate effectively even in a survival situation. The best thing that you can do is coordinate with the people whom you are traveling with.

It’s also a good idea to learn the native words for stop, danger, food, water, cold, shelter, help, come here, fire, exit, and any other emergency word that you can think of that you may need in a survival situation.

the-lost-ways-cover_wild

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References: 

http://www.neadc.org/CommonHandSignalsforScubaDiving.pdf

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4 Keys to Maintaining Communication in a Disaster Situation

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When faced with a disaster, either human-made or natural, it’s critical that you and your family are prepared. Have you thought out and gone over what everyone is supposed to do? Do you have an emergency supply kit that could save your lives? But perhaps the most important thing is planning to be able to communicate, with your family, loved ones, friends and relevant authorities, in a disaster situation. Here are the keys for how to do that.

  1. Have a Meeting Spot

  2. Technology can fail, so if communication is ever cut off or you can’t get a hold of anybody, have a previously-established meeting spot or place to go in case of an emergency. This should be near your home but not too close to it, as buildings can collapse due to earthquakes or fires could spread to nearby vegetation and structures. You could even have a reciprocal arrangement with a neighbor or neighboring family, making their home a designated meet-up and safe space for your children or vice versa.

  3. Have a Way to Charge Devices, or Batteries

  4. Batteries last a long time, and can easily be purchased and kept in an emergency kit for years and still be functional. Most devices come with rechargeable batteries now, so keeping a spare, fully-charged battery for important devices like your mobile phone is a very good idea. You can also charge cell phones and most other devices in your car if you have an adapter, so keeping those spare adapters and cords in your vehicle is a good idea as well.

  5. Prepaid SIM or Phone Cards

  6. You can purchase a SIM card to install in an old cell phone to be used only in case of an emergency. Old cell phones without service plans can be used to dial 911, but won’t be able to contact friends and family members, hence why a SIM (possibly a prepaid one) is a good alternative. Prepaid phone cards are also a good option that allow you to make calls only when the need arises, so you don’t have to pay monthly service fees on it like usual.

  7. Keep a Battery-Powered Radio and Two-Way Radios

  8. Keeping a battery-powered radio you can use to listen for updates on the situation, as well as battery-operated two-way radios to stay in contact with the other people with you, can help you maintain communication without having to worry about having to recharge cell phones. Also, make sure you are signed up for federal and local emergency alerts on your phone, so you can receive information and be better prepared in case of an emergency.

Being able to communicate with loved ones and authorities during an emergency situation can mean life or death, and it’s imperative that you think ahead and have some kind of preparedness and plan ahead of time. Do try and limit cell phone calls or data usage during an emergency to free up networks so emergency calls can get through for other people affected in your area. Establish the four things listed above and you and your family should be all set!

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Personal Radio Communications

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Personal Radio Communications Bob Hopkins “APN Report” Audio in player below! I bet some folks got a handheld radio in their Christmas Stocking this year. I bet also, some may be having a hard time figuring out how it works too. This Saturdays show is about personal communications, to help those poor souls who may … Continue reading Personal Radio Communications

The post Personal Radio Communications appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

How Will You Communicate in an Emergency?

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How Will You Communicate in an Emergency? Are you planning on using your cell phone to send texts? While that may be more reliable than making calls, the communication grid is not especially reliable. You have certainly experienced small outages not just on landlines and internet connection, but cell phone connection as well. History will …

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Morse Code Alphabet – 3 Tricks for Learning It Quickly

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Morse Code Alphabet – 3 Tricks for Learning It Quickly When prepping for a survival situation, many people think of battery operated radios as being a safe option for communication. This could be the case, but in the event that you need to communicate covertly, you need a more secure system. Morse code is a …

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The post Morse Code Alphabet – 3 Tricks for Learning It Quickly appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

The Keys To Effective Prepper Communication

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

This article attempts to cover some of the basic pros and cons of various forms of communication and introduce the reader to some additions that should prove helpful in crisis and bug-out situations.

The post The Keys To Effective Prepper Communication appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Radio Communications

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Radio Communications Ever feel overwhelmed with trying to understand how to communicate off-grid. Ok you got CB’s, hams, high and low frequency, pricey and cheap antenna’s? Well on this episode of “Preparing For Life’s Storms” we talk about setting up our communications and communications network. Old Geezer Prepper from YouTube helped us to understand the … Continue reading Radio Communications

The post Radio Communications appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out

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Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps” Audio in player below! The thought of bugging out is a real threat. Have you thought of the data you have and how you would store it, take it with you or use it on the road? The world today offers us many … Continue reading Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out

The post Data Storage for SHTF Emergency Bug Out appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Do you know how to make authentic ink? It’s so easy!

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It’s eye-opening to learn about the wild things that grow in one’s backyard.  It all started when I spotted some interesting looking mushrooms through the window.  They were driving my husband crazy by growing on his well manicured lawn.  One Saturday, I headed outside a little early to […]

The post Do you know how to make authentic ink? It’s so easy! appeared first on Preppers Survive.

Moving Your Computer Off Grid

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Moving Your Computer Off-Grid

More than a few preppers feel that as long as they can provide food, shelter, water, and basic medical needs for themselves and their families, nothing more is required. Other preppers may feel that self defense, power generation, education, and machine repair are skills that will be required in the post crisis world.

Sadly, many preppers and also off-gridders tend to ignore or underestimate the need to have a computer that can be used to help make it easier to survive.

In all likelihood, these are also the people most likely to have serious problems in the post crisis world because they do not have a computer available to help meet a range of goals.

Computers and Prepping Can Get Along

A computer cannot hunt a deer for you, boil water, or make a pair of shoes, obviously. On the other hand, any computer with a connection to the internet can help you find out how to do these things and much more. When you find good information, it is also very easy to store those files on your computer so that you can read them and work with them whenever you want.

And if you are in a situation where internet access is still available, you can use your computer to contact friends and loved ones as well as people that might be able to help you get through a crisis. Then you can certainly relate to the quandary of many preppers that are finding out it is becoming impossible to make or obtain raw materials that would be needed in a major crisis scenario.

On the other side of the equation, many of the items you need for basic prepping can still be purchased online. All you really need is a prepaid debit card and an internet connection so that you can find websites where you can place your orders. Not only will you be able to get the supplies you need, you will also have a much wider selection of other goods to choose from.

Regardless of whether you are interested in the best quality gun cleaning kits, need a certain type of fishing reel, or need good quality vintage hand tools, you can find them all online. In fact, even if you are disabled, you may be able to find customized materials and tools that have been modified to meet your needs.

Most people don’t realize just how important it is to network with preppers from diverse geographic regions and make plans for bugging out that include those friends and connections. Consider what would happen if an earthquake or hurricane strikes your area.

If you only have friends and family in a local, or small area, chances are everyone will be affected. If you have friends in other states that might be able to offer temporary shelter or help you make a new start, then you will be well ahead of the game.

In these times and beyond, both money and barter systems are vital for exchanging needed goods and services. A computer is very important for expanding your trade and marketing options. It is also very important for securing alternative currencies that may play a vital role in remaining solvent in the face of currency collapse.

Most people would be truly amazed at how easy it is for the average consumer to secure foreign currencies, keep a good supply of them, and even use them as down and dirty form of currency trading or flipping.

The Tough Choice on the Best Device(s)

Off grid devices

Obsolete devices may still be very useful because certain older technologies are easier to work with and may be safer than newer devices that are routinely overclocked or are based on unstable hardware platforms.

If you are interested in newer devices, here are some categories, brands, and models that you can start off with for each category of device:

Desktops

If you are primarily interested in a conventional desktop computer, my own experience leads me to believe the best option is to build the computer yourself so that you know exactly what parts are being used and how best to optimize the BIOS (this is where you can determine how fast the computer will run, whether or not the system can boot from a USB drive, and other aspects of basic operation) settings.

Since modern computer chips tend to run hot, it is very important to provide plenty of ventilation and cooling options inside the case. If your CPU and motherboard kit come with sub-par heat conducting gel, do not hesitate to find the best on the market.  It is also very useful to add extra fans and other cooling devices right inside the case.

Always remember, the cooler you can keep the chips during operation, the lower your chances of erratic freeze-ups or even ruining the chips.

Insofar as other vital parts such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives, and video cards, it truly depends on your personal tastes.

You will need a dedicated video card to gain access to these specialized chips that will reduce wear on the CPU and enhance computer performance at the same time. Be sure to study gamer forums and video editing forums to find out which video cards work best with specific CPU and motherboard combinations. A bad fit between these parts can truly be a disaster.

Memory cards (RAM) are yet another tricky, yet vital area of the computer that you will need to think about. This is also one area where only the best will do. It is better to go with the fastest cards that the motherboard will take, and also from the best rated vendor.

Laptops

Unlike desktop computers, you will have far less control over what parts are found inside the case. Before purchasing a laptop, be sure to find out the model number of the CPU and motherboard. From there, you will need to look up the chipsets to find out what the optimal clock speeds are.

I have seen more than one laptop burn up at around the 1 year mark because a sub-part mother board with a slower timing chip was paired with a faster CPU. Since most buyers do not ask about the motherboard model, there was no way for them to find out that they basically had an overclocked system that was going to fail very quickly.

Overall, I can safely say that I don’t recommend spending 3 – 4 times as much money on a laptop when I can choose a much cheaper tablet and optimize it with less intensive apps. The only advantage a laptop might have over an off grid tablet is that it is easier to customize the programs.

Tablets

An unlocked tablet will give you just about everything you need for basic document access and communicating with others. You can also choose apps that will enable you to create your own apps and carry out other more complex tasks.

Tablets also have the advantage of taking far less  power than a desktop or laptop computer. They can easily be recharged on a portable solar pack, and it is also fairly easy to bypass the battery.

Insofar as brand names, I tend to favor Lenovo, but have also found Alldaymall tablets to work well. The Alldaymall tablets are also a good bit cheaper, so you can purchase more of them and put them in your bug out bag as well as other locations.

Smart Phones

When it comes to a comfortable viewing experience combined with relatively low power usage, larger tablets will work much better than smart phones. That being said, in a “something is better than nothing” or a vital tool for your EDC, few things can rival a good quality unlocked smart phone.

While I recommend a 10” tablet for bug out gear, a 5” smart phone is truly  more than enough for EDC. Not only a phone this size fit easily into a purse or backpack, it is even easier to power than a larger tablet.

They also work well for reading a range of documents and will give you a good sized window for viewing videos. You can also hook up a folding keyboard and be able to carry out a number of tasks that would be difficult using the screen keyboard.

The Challenge on Providing a Steady Source of Power

Today, the vast majority of computers have sub par power supplies that make them more susceptible than ever to fluctuations in power coming into the system.

As our electric grid continues to crumble, rolling blackouts, brownouts, and line voltage fluctuations caused by excess usage during peak hours will shorten the life cycle of many computers. If you are generating your own power, it is just as important to make sure you know how to keep the current going into your computer as steady as possible.

There are some things you can do now, as well as consider when building a power system that will help you get the most out of every computer that you own. CLICK HERE to subscribe to Survivopedia’s newsletter and get the free report on how to take your computer off grid.

Understanding the Impact of Utilization

No discussion about preparing your computer hardware for off gridding would be complete without at least touching on the resource cost involved in each program that you run on the system. For example, if you have a simple word processor program with no fancy graphics, it will take up far less processor and memory resources than one that has funny critters dancing around all over the place.

Apps that automatically play videos or programs that automatically play music also shorten the hardware life of your computer. Therefore, when it comes to choosing the best computer for your off grid or prepping needs, it is always important to study benchmark tests and hardware longevity tests under certain loads.

Once again, you will find some of the best and most accurate information in the gaming forums.

Important Parts to Keep On hand

For each device in your EDC, bug out bag, or other location, there are some important parts that can help double or even triple the useful lifespan of your computer. Even if you lose some functionality, the main parts should still work for 2 – 3 decades on desktop units, and up to 10 years on laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

  • Start off by buying all of your devices brand new and with the maximum warranty available. If something breaks down during the warranty period, let the manufacturer or repair center take care of the problem.
  • Buy at least 3 to 5 non-functioning devices that are compatible with the make and model of each device. Usually, you can pick these units up for around 10 to 20% of the cost of a brand new device. You can choose different manufacturers as long as the parts are fully interchangeable with your device. You will use these devices to learn how to make repairs, and also for spare parts if something breaks down on your main device.
  • Since RAM chips take the most abuse on any computer system, keep a few spare ones on hand.
  • Have at least one extra power supply for desktop units. Unlike other parts of the system, you should never open up the case on the power supply unless you have a good bit of experience working with electronic devices. Never forget that the capacitors inside these power supplies may not be fully discharged, and that touching them or a live circuit can cause death or severe injury.
  • Keep at least 2 USB hubs handy that also have the capacity to power any device you hook up to them. When connecting devices to the USB ports on your computer, try to never at least one pair of ports.

What Happens When the Battery Dies?

If you have been thinking about using a smart phone or tablet as a place to store important survival information, you may hesitate because you know that the battery can easily be ruined by over charging, or that it will wear out sooner rather than later.

While some devices will continue to work while the battery is “charging”, others will not. If you have a device that will not work while charging, you will need to remove the battery and apply current directly to the device.

In this scenario, you must know how to keep the voltage and amperage as stable as possible before they reach the device. You can make your own controllers for this purpose then hook them up to solar panels or anything else that you will be using as a power source.

Just remember that you power controller may also need to go safely from AC to DC current as well as match the voltage and amperage needs of the device. If you aren’t sure how much power to provide for laptops, tablets, or smart phones, just go by what the battery is rated for.

Video first seen on PrepareForTheUnexpected.

Basic Toolkit

It will not be of much use to have plenty of parts on hand, and then no way to install them or make good use of them. Here are the most essential tools you will need for building computers or making repairs:

  • chip extractors for chips that are installed in sockets
  • high heat conducting gel
  • anti static grounding strap
  • precision and larger size screwdriver kit
  • magnifying glass
  • low wattage solder iron, solder, and flux suitable for computer parts
  • desoldering bulb
  • pliers and wrenches
  • wire cutters
  • anti-static bags and mats for placing boards on while you are working
  • multi meter, port testers, and digital logic probe

If you become especially proficient at scavenging and rebuilding electronics parts, it may be to your advantage to include a copper board etching kit. You can use these to make new circuit boards in a time of need.

Scavenging and Repair Skills

If you take good care of your devices, they may last for several years without need for repair. Once they break down, however, you will need to put your toolkit and stored parts to use. Here are some basic scavenging and repair skills that you can use to fix your own devices, or trade as service with others:

  • understand hardware part numbers so that you know which parts are compatible across different manufacturers
  • be able to solder and desolder chips or other parts without damaging the parts
  • know how to diagnose problems and figure out the best way to solve them
  • how to recognize which parts (example what a melted down chip looks like) need to be replaced or repaired
  • how to use software diagnostics, driver programs,  and BIOS programs to resolve problems
  • how to find viable parts in a junk yard or other locations where discarded electronics may be found.

Video first seen on The Off Grid Family.

Where to Get More Information and Training

Overall, you will find it easiest and cheapest to build and test your skills on desktop computers. If you go to a flea market or do some research online, you can easily pick up dozens of obsolete motherboards, CPUs, power supplies, and just about anything else for a few dollars.

Start off by trying to build a complete and functioning system. This will give you plenty of practice with identifying basic parts and help you overcome any hesitance you may have in working with computer parts.

While you are exploring these parts, take a course on basic electronics and then one on computer hardware. You can also find plenty of good books on this subject. In total, you should spend about 4 months on this part of your skill development.

Once you master desktop computers, you can go ahead and choose the parts for, and build your own system. If you do not want to build a desktop unit, then go ahead and start working on building your stockpile of laptops, tablets, and smart phones.

You can always practice your skills on non-working units as well as get to know more about working with smaller devices that require a good bit more patience and care.  If you develop a particular interest in these smaller devices, it will be to your advantage to take courses on how to repair them.

Without a question, the first time you bypass a battery during a major crisis or repair a failing laptop monitor you will see why these skills are every bit as important as anything else you may be learning and practicing for a time of need.

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This Article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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Lessons Learned from One Second After

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One Second After by William R. Forstchen is a really scary book. Not scary like a Stephen King book, but more like a wake up call to how fragile the world we live in is. This is the book that prompted my first post, and really pushed me to start thinking of myself as a prepper or a survivalist. If you stay dependent on today’s way of life, you will die quickly when it is all taken away from you.
One Second After

This post is a review of One Second After and assumes you have read the book. If you haven’t already read One Second After, then be warned that there are a lot of spoilers in this post.

John Matherson is the main character and lives in the small college town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. One Second After deals with an unexpected electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States and how it affects the people living after.

Here is my list of lessons learned:

  1. If you currently depend on medicine to stay alive, you will be one of the first people to die. John Matherson’s daughter was a Type 1 diabetic. When the insulin was out, she died a painful sad death.
  2. The elderly that depend on others to take care of them will also die quickly. People forget about taking care of others when it is a struggle to take care of themselves.
  3. Back up generators are useless when they’re taken out by an EMP. None of the important generators in the town of Black Mountain worked after the EMP. The hospital and the nursing home specifically. If they had worked, many lives would have been saved. The town would have been more prepared before they ran out of fuel.
  4. Tend to any kind of open wound immediately. The small cut on Matherson’s hand almost killed him. His stubbornness to have it looked at was dumb.
  5. Old cars are more reliable than today’s modern cars. A 1950s era Studebaker, a 1964 Ford Mustang and a whole fleet of old VW buses and bugs didn’t notice the EMP attack. When so much depends on computer motherboards today, it is really easy to render them useless.
  6. Don’t be afraid to be a leader when you are the most knowledgeable and experienced in the group. Someone had to take charge of the town. The major was slow to take action because nothing like this had ever happened. Matherson was hesitant to take charge of the defense of the city, even though he was the most experienced.
  7. Teach your way out of a job. When everyone around you knows what you do, you no longer have to be the one that people depend on. This is what Washington Parker did with the college kids. He taught them as much as he could as quickly as he could. When the attack from the Posse came, the town was ready and performed well even after Washington died.
  8. Learn how things were done before electricity. Have good training material for this available in something other than electronic format. Books and magazines were eventually found in the basement of the library. But having this ready from the beginning would have been great.
  9. Having electronic versions of training material on a laptop that was in a Faraday cage would have been even better. Not a single time was a Faraday Cage mentioned in the book.
  10. Communication is really important. Having a way to talk across town would have saved lives.
  11. Why is it that in every prepper book the local first responders are screwed after an EMP? Couldn’t a fire truck or police car be hardened against an EMP?
  12. Everyone in your family needs to know how to use a gun safely. But you also have to train and practice how to protect your home. When Matherson’s home was invaded, the children were not useful. They had never trained for that situation. Gun training is not enough.
  13. Having neighbors who you know and trust is so important. Immediately after Matherson’s home was invaded, his neighbor came over to assist.
  14. It doesn’t matter how rural you are. If everyone is hunting the woods to survive, the animals will all be killed. Why didn’t they do more fishing?
  15. Working together is the only way for a group to survive. The town of Black Mountain became organized and everyone participated in the defense and food for the city.
  16. Don’t be afraid of strangers. Just make them prove themselves. They may be able to provide skills or advice to help everyone. Makala was and outsider who’s car was stalled on the highway like many others. But she was a gifted nurse who ended up running the hospital.
  17. Pets were looked at as protein. A last desperate means of feeding starving family members.

If I was the mayor of a small town and read One Second After I would:

  1. Have a room specially built onto the municipal building that would serve as a Faraday cage.
  2. Add a HAM radio for long distance communications. Also add a dozen short distance (25 mile) walkies talkies to the room.
  3. Add nightvision goggles to the room for defense.
  4. Encourage solar panels for homes in the city, stores, schools and municipal buildings.
  5. Create school and city food banks. Stock up on MREs and freeze dried food.
  6. Create a seed bank with crops that grow well in your area. Encourage people to have gardens and have free classes on gardening.
  7. Encourage and fund homesteading and Renaissance festivals. Old world skills like blacksmithing, farming without electricity, tanning hides and foraging would be valuable and it’s good to know who has these skills.
  8. Encourage chicken and rabbit raising. Have free classes on these topics too. Eggs and rabbit meat would have made a huge difference in Black Mountain.
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New Online Tools

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As many of you are aware there is a backlash going on all over the West against the current political systems and people are rebelling. Brexit, the EU referendums in other countries and hopefully Trump are examples of this. Everyone knows Trump isn’t Presidential material but he is getting the backing because the others are […]

goTenna Takes a GIANT Communication step into Mesh Networking

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goTenna Launches goTenna Mesh to Take Off-Grid Communication Further: International Expansion & First-of-Its-Kind Mesh Networking Technology

BROOKLYN, NY (Sept. 28, 2016) — goTenna, the company that last year released the first and only device that enables smartphone users to communicate without cell towers, wifi routers or satellites, today introduces a new breakthrough product: goTenna Mesh, the first 100% off-grid, mobile, long-range consumer-ready mesh network device, which will be available internationally. The announcement comes along with the launch of goTenna’s premium service, goTenna Plus, and the release of the goTenna open Software Development Kit (SDK).

goTenna Mesh pairs with any iOS or Android device to allow users to text and share GPS locations, up to several miles away depending on terrain and elevation. This is the first goTenna product that will be available outside the United States and it will be sold in pairs for $179 but is available in limited quantities at promotional pricing (starting at $129) today on a preorder basis before shipment begins later this year.

The company’s first product, goTenna, will now be available at $149 for a pair. No subscription is required, in line with the company’s commitment to empowering people to create communication on their own terms.

Watch goTenna Mesh Kickstarter video here:

goTenna Mesh is anchored by intelligent mesh protocols (named “Aspen Grove”) that deliver a 100% off-grid, entirely mobile, long-range mesh network. Such a technology has never been achieved outside hulking military tactical systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars per unit.

goTenna Mesh is smaller, sleeker than goTenna’s flagship product, and provides even greater utility thanks to the introduction of mesh networking. By automatically and privately relaying your message through other users if your recipient(s) are not within point-to-point range or are otherwise obstructed, you can effectively double or triple your range and be likelier to get a message through in difficult situations. Unlike traditional communication networks, goTenna Mesh gets stronger the more users join it, though it can be useful for even just two users at a time.

goTenna Mesh’s high-level features include:

  • Dynamic protocols react to network changes in real time and enable users to send messages 1-to-1 and in groups as well as count on delivery confirmation receipts

  • Mesh to extend range through other users automatically and privately; the power of the goTenna Mesh network is that it’s built on people, making it as dynamic, scalable and resilient as the humans who use it

  • End-to-end encryption ensures 1-to-1 and group chats remain private

  • Public “shout” broadcasts can connect you to others nearby in case of fun or emergencies — used at DEFCON, Burning Man, ski resorts, Yosemite and more

  • Compact size makes it easy to pack on any adventure & have on you at all times

  • International availability addresses pent-up international demand for goTenna’s groundbreaking technology

Like the original goTenna, whether you’re spending time outdoors, packed into a crowded event, traveling overseas and in rural areas, or find yourself in an emergency situation, goTenna Mesh keeps you connected in an even more powerful way.

The goTenna SDK allows any developer to use goTenna hardware and protocols to transmit small bursts of secure data, at long ranges, completely off-grid. The SDK is designed to be incredibly simple, with SDK users reporting integration times of less than 2 hours for full functionality. While in beta this summer, the SDK has been used by groups ranging from the U.S. Air Force to health tech companies.

Available for preorder on Kickstarter for the next 30 days, a portion of funds raised will be donated to the international non-profit Telecom Without Borders (Télecoms Sans Frontières – TSF) to support their work setting up humanitarian communications operations in crises and disasters throughout the globe, from Syria to Burkina Faso and Nepal to Haiti. TSF is often the first on the ground setting up emergency communications for disaster response, in refugee camps and at medical facilities.

To learn more about goTenna Mesh, visit their Kickstarter page.

The post goTenna Takes a GIANT Communication step into Mesh Networking appeared first on American Preppers Network.

Amateur Radio and DXing

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by Shannon

If there’s one thing about the world that we’re completely sure of, it’s that change is constant. We’ve seen fashion trends differ from the decades before today. We’ve seen our planet evolve from flat land and rising mountains to plain fields and tall buildings. But most of all, we’ve seen change in how we communicate to each other.

We’ve gone through travelling to deliver a message, writing letters and calling through ancient telephones before finally getting to where we are now: the internet age. Everybody owns something that can connect to the internet, be it a smartphone or a laptop. If you need to reach out to someone across the world, no problem. If you need to send documents to someone important but you don’t want to leave the place you’re in right now, there’s e-mail.

Despite the evolution of our form of communication, there’s one disadvantage that most people forget. Because the internet needs a constantly running system of connections and power to function, it’s very vulnerable to power outages or anything that can cause electronic disruption.

Thus, in the event of a major disaster like a country-wide blackout, flooding or earthquake, even the cellphone’s signal will suffer. Towers will be rendered useless without power. In that situation, how will you contact anyone outside the disaster area? How will you know where to go and what’s happening outside? This is where the amateur radio comes in.

WHAT IS AMATEUR RADIO?

When any common form of communication fails, when your phone can’t find signal, when the internet is overloaded, the amateur radio is what will save the day. Also called the “ham radio,” this form of communication functions by using the radio frequency spectrum. It covers a significant distance to the point that some transmissions can even allow you to talk to astronauts on the International Space Station.

The wide range of possibilities that you can do with amateur radio has allowed it to invade several aspects of the society including education and disaster aid. It also functions as something like a social media as it allows people to communicate with each other no matter where they are. The people who use amateur radio (“hams”) come from a large variety of background like doctors, kids, teachers, truck drivers and maybe even the person next door.

Because of its casual nature, most people consider amateur radio as a hobby. But the unsaid part of history reveals that amateur radio is more than that. For example, the Amateur Radio Service aided communications when 9/11 and hurricane Katrina happened because of its ability to provide communication even in the worst conditions.

The “amateur” part of amateur radio is perhaps the best thing about it. Amateur radio operators do what they do without commercial intent, meaning that they volunteer to do it without expecting to be paid. Another important facet of the amateur radio is the DXers or amateur radio operators who specialize in making two-way radio contact with other amateurs in distant places.

Amateur radio is represented and coordinated by the International Amateur Radio Union, which can also be referred to as the headquarters.

HOW CAN YOU BE PART OF THE AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE?

While anyone and everyone can be part of the amateur radio service, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognizes its potential and thus seeks to expand its pool of experts who can give a helping hand during emergency situations in any condition be it an earthquake, tsunami or a hurricane. This means that to be part of the amateur radio service, you will need a license.

Another reason why you need to have a license is because radio waves go well beyond a country’s borders which instantly makes an international concern. Radio also has potentially clandestine uses which could place national security at risk if used by the wrong people.

In some countries, you will only be allowed to purchase amateur radio equipment is if you have a license. In others, your license may only be valid in that area and you will be required to get another if you want to move to another country.

Requirements for amateur radio licensing and the privileges that come with it vary from country to country though there is one thing that all countries ask for. Every aspiring amateur radio operator must display technical knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts. This is done and verified through an exam. Countries also require operators to know the rules and regulations lest they accidentally do something illegal like leaking classified information. In some countries, they are required to display hands-on experience through a practical exam.

Once you’re licensed, you will be oriented on the different privileges attached to your success. You can be granted longer distance coverage, more power, permitted experimentation and better frequency ability.

HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE OVER AMATEUR RADIO?

One of the best things about amateur radio is its flexibility. Many amateur radio operators utilize different modes of communication, partly because of the need to be prepared for anything including audio failure. While most use their voices to communicate over amplitude modulation (AM), frequency modulation (FM) or Single Sideband (SSB), others have found ways to communicate.

Aside from voice, amateur radio operators use text, images and data. They can send images through television and text through a digital medium such as a computer. One of the most interesting ways that amateur radio operators communicate is through Morse code. Its usefulness is still very popular and at one point, a basic knowledge of Morse code is required for licensing. Other forms of communication include Packet, Radio Teletype or what’s commonly known as Ritty, and PSK.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the agency that handles the frequency allocations and determines which bands are open for use depending on where you are and what you intend to do over the frequency. Their job is important as it ensures that other radio services within or outside the country do suffer interference. The American Radio Relay League’s (ARRL) “The FCC Rule Book” provides a comprehensive and in-depth information about the frequency allocations.

WHAT IS DX-ING?

DXing is one of the most popular “departments” of amateur radio. While other focus on using their license to help educate people or simply talk to others, DXers make it a hobby to try to listen and connect distant stations. In this case, these locations are may be from one country to another. The activity was named as such because of its nature. “D” refers to distance and “X” means the unknown.

The practice and interest of DXing actually stems from the early days of radio broadcasting. When listeners believe that they just heard a broadcast from a distant location, they write reception reports (now known as the Signal, Interference, Noise, Propagation and Overall merit report or simply, SINPO report) and send it to different broadcasters in hopes of getting a verification that the broadcast they heard was real. The certificate they receive back from the broadcaster is called QSL cards and it confirms the listener’s reception report. Collecting the cards were also used by the broadcasters themselves when they want to study the effectiveness of their transmissions.

The importance of DXing stems from the fact that it allows you to listen to broadcasts from far beyond your own country. DXing allows you to connect with the outside world without the help of a satellite or the internet which can be very challenging and the prime reason why it’s a popular hobby among amateur radio operators.

Amateur radio operators who focus on DXing are called “DXers.” Because of the challenging nature of DXing, some clubs and organizations award certificates to those who are successful in connecting to a remote area in the world. For example, the ARRL offers the DX Century Club (DXCC) award for DXers who worked to confirm at least 100 broadcasters on the ARRL DXCC List. To make it more interesting, amateurs have mounted DXpeditions to areas with no permanent base of amateur radio operators.

HOW DO YOU DX?

If you want to try and be DXer, there are several things that you have to know. First, attentive listening is a skill that you will need. Being a DXer means that you will need to surf through the band and look for frequencies that fade in or out, or something that is disguised by loud static. You need to pay attention to the tiny details and you need to be familiar enough with the radio to pinpoint whether or not the frequency exists locally.

The best location to grab a radio and try to listen for far away frequencies is to go out to a body of water, preferably the beach. This is because the body of water helps pull in radio signals. The location also draws you away from background noises that will hinder your listening. DXing is also directional in such a way that however you hold or the orientation of your radio can make a difference. The weather can also affect DXing and most DXers found that it’s best to do it at night.

To keep up with what’s happening in the DX world and to find out about contests and rewards for a little bit of motivation, you can tune in to the DXNews. It gives you information on breaking news and a calendar that lets you know the activities of other DXers and DXpeditions.

Amateur radio may seem like a hobby wherein you sit down all day and listen to the radio. But in actuality, this hobby has saved many lives as it allows people to communicate with each other in the face of the lack of power or internet. Amateur radio provides the necessary link between disaster areas and responders as it makes it easier for them to know where the victims are and what to expect so rescuers don’t go in unprepared. This hobby is something that you might want to look into especially if you want to properly prepare for critical situations.

 

Conspiracy Theory 101

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Conspiracy Theory 101 Highlander “Survival and Tech Preps” This show in player below! There’s worry among the prepper community about government or others and tracking. Would you like to know the facts about conspiracy theories when it comes to tracking? You may be surprised at the capabilities to track individuals and if you think they do not exist you … Continue reading Conspiracy Theory 101

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EnerPlex Jumpr Slate 5K Power Bank Review

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EnerPlex has designed an amazing charger that fits in your purse, your school/work binder, planners or briefcase. Let’s get down with the specks on this bad boy.

This ultra-thin mobile power bank that features 5,100 mAh battery capacities. In layman’s terms, it will charge 2-3 smart chargers before needing a recharge itself. It has up to 16 hours talk time and can charge multiple devices at the same time without interfering with the charge time. The powerbank will also shut off automatically when your device is done charging, saving it’s own energy. There is a battery status indicator light so you know when it is time to charge the power bank back up. To charge my phone to 100% it took on average 3-4 hours.

The Enerplex comes with a tethered micro-USB output so you can hook it up to any device with a USB port. It also has a micro USB input and USB output ports. So you can charge your phone, tablets, iPod or Androids. It comes with a USB cable to recharge your power bank. Enerplex offers a power bank for all your I Pod products as well as one for droid users. I found them ranging from $40.00 to 73.00.

Weighing in at 0.44 pounds this paper thin device is only 8mm thick with a stamped aluminum case for durability. This makes it very durable and scratch resistant. It is like heavy duty stiff rubber. I have to tell you, it is one of the only power banks I have had that I don’t feel the need to “Handle with care”.  My husband and the scouts went camping multiple times with it and it did not fail us. I carry it daily in my purse and everyone knows how brutal that can be. My husband also carries it in his lap top bag to work and he carries his bag when he rides his Harley to work.  On multiple occasions I have let my teenage daughter take it to school and it came back in one piece. It is very durable and worth adding to your prepping supplies or to use every day. We use it every day and store one in our bug out bag.

 

This power bank gets two thumbs up from me!!

EnerPlex Jumpr Slate 5K Power Bank Review

OSReviews

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HAM RADIO expert Robert Hawkins!

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HAM RADIO expert Robert Hawkins! Tom Martin “Galt Strike” On this episode of Galt Strike we will be talking with HAM Radio expert Robert Hawkins. When the grid goes down, you’re going to want to communicate. HAM Radio has passed the test of time and proven to be the best way to communicate in times … Continue reading HAM RADIO expert Robert Hawkins!

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Prepper’s Communication Handbook (Book Review)

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Communication is important – both in normal, everyday life and in a SHTF scenario.  Suburban homesteaders have the benefit of being nearby people and, often, don’t have to worry about being stranded without normal communication equipment functioning.  That doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from Jim Cobb’s latest offering, Prepper’s Communication Handbook.  This book will not

Satellite Phones for Preppers

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by Jack Woods

I spend most of the year out in the Bush, well beyond any cellular coverage. I have been living this way since 2013, and though I usually try to get indoors during the harsh winters of the Rockies. I have even spent a winter this way also, living in my RV away from it all. I do not want to live any other way; it has been a great way of life. Even as I type this article, I am enjoying the free camping way up in the mountains.

I am staring out over the mountains, and valleys, across the public forestry lands, living in my RV with a satellite phone that I use to upload my articles to you all. What more could I want? Any person that enjoys getting away from it all often finds that cell coverage is not very good or non-existent in the back woods. If you need to stay in contact with friends, family and the outside world, a satellite phone or VOIP phone system, over a satellite connection is the only practical way to do this.

Here are a couple of ideas for the serious prepper, and those of you who still enjoys some outside contact, while waiting for those mushroom clouds to appear on the horizon. I’m not really talking about a weekend get away here. I’m thinking of the long term bugout scenario or people like myself, that stay away in the bush for many moths.

Now if any of you have priced out mobile satellite Internet for yourselves you have probably been bowled over by the outrageous costs for those RV setups. Yeah, sure some of them can track satellites while you drive, but come on $7000.00 dollars. They can run as much as $2000 to $30,000.00 dollars for a mobile Internet satellite package. and that doesn’t even include the providers service. I do not know about you people, but that is a little out of my league. So… here are a couple of ideas that may appeal to the more frugal back woods campers like, myself.

Building your Satellite Internet System

It is best if you already have an account with a satellite provider. Then obtaining a portable or tailgate system with a dish and receiver is your next move. These can be purchased from online for far less then you might think. You might even decide to build your own system. What you will need is a dish obviously, a tripod and the gear to set up the dish, these are available online, just search for tripods for satellite dishes.

Many of these sites all have the necessary components that you need, and here are some of the parts you will need: A Dish, Tripod, Satellite signal meter, cables, and even a receiver. (I suggest you just bring your receiver from home) Now if you need an extra satellite dish your current provider is more then willing to sell you one. (Just tell them you want to mount it on the garage.) A decent price range for a remote satellite system combo ready made, is from $200.00 to less then $300.00 USD. You will also need to search Google for the set up coordinates used for aiming your system in the area you plan to camp in. This will be NECESSARY to aim your dish at the proper satellite, in the sky.

Aiming your Dish

First off, you will need a clear view of the southern sky to receive a good signal. The further north you are camping the lower on the horizon the satellite will be. This means mountains and other obstructions can be a problem in some locations and not others. Getting coordinates before you go is the best. Remember we are going to be in areas that do not have normal cell coverage. Here is a site that you can use to print off the coordinates for your camping spot. (http://www.dishpointer.com/) Just search for the location you wish to use the system in (GPS Coordinates are best), and then select the type of dish you have and search… The app will give you the what ever pertinent information you need to set up your dish, like the minimal heights and coordinates of your selection.

Important Information

First, your dish needs to match your receiver brand and type. In addition, rather then buying another receiver and trying to have it set up for your system, you can just as easily bring your home receiver with you when you are camping or bugging out for that matter. Is having your own remote system illegal? No. Is capturing a signal from your provider that you have a contract with illegal? No. Read your contract, but I doubt it says anything about that, so NO again. Your satellite provider may want to charge you a huge fee for your extra system, and they might want to either shut you down and your satellite system or charge you extra if they find out from YOU, that you are using a separate dish for camping. This defeats the purpose of obtaining your own camping system, wink-wink…

Privacy

On their own, your provider cannot tell if you are using a remote dish in the mountains, anymore then they can tell if you are sitting in your living room. One caveat though is when using it as an Internet, email, or VIOP phone service. You do give away your location when uploading or transmitting during these operations. If a location was needed, a trained professional could triangulate your location during theses data exchanges.

A satellite signal other wise is just that, a signal like any other broadcast signal like a radio signal; you can be anywhere within range (Below the artic circle) and you will pick up at least an intermitting signal. THEREFORE, DO NOT; contact your provider for technical help. Using their help center when you are trying to set up a remote system for yourself will tip them off that you have an additional satellite system and that usually costs you extra, so check your providers website for their policy. Besides there are plenty of sites online that will give you great details on how to set up and build your own system.

Many satellite accessory sites have inexpensive portable dish systems that match nearly every provider out there. So, search around. They offer much more then I do about dishes and signals too. Ideally, you will want an Internet package for your dish. So that you can get the Internet as well as hook up a phone line when out in the Boonies. The Internet package will allow you to have a normal home phone in the bush to contact the outside world during emergencies. You only need to set up a VIOP (Voice, Over, Internet, Provider) account to do this, and if you already have, one great just plug in your home phone and GO.

Satellite Phone Service

Using a simple Sat phone for emails is also possible and a lot less complicated then a full satellite system set-up. However, full satellite systems are better, they are expensive and not the most ideal for the prepper on a budget. The cheapest satellite phone provider out there right now that I have found at least, is Global Star (http://ca.globalstar.com/en/).

A person on a budget can purchase these sat phones, and services, and a “Car Kit” or other hook-up device to use on their laptop allowing them to upload or download personal email messages when in the Bush. Besides this, it allows you some very tedious Internet browsing. I admit the browsing speeds are horrendous, for instance downloading a single webpage can take a half hour at times. This is not very practical for most people, but it is a connection to the outside world nevertheless.

So, read your providers package details, as data transfer can cost you plenty if it is not included. Another thing is that sending attachments by email seems to be difficult with these setups, as it tends to break them up into separate emails and may not be readable on the other end. Yet this is better then two coconuts and a string I guess.

Conclusions

Bear in mind this is for areas outside of the normal cellular coverage. There are plenty of remote cellular data modems out there, especially in the lower 48s. This idea isn’t for those situations. Zero cell coverage in remote areas affects people in the far north more then the lower forty-eight states.

Furthermore, using the information that I have provided for building your remote satellite system is at your own risk. I do not wish to promote or encourage illegal activities, or get anyone into trouble with their service provider here. Whichever way you decide to go it is on you, and bear in mind the benefits of this technology, as well as the limitations. During a social or economic collapse or other dire emergency, these systems may be minimal at best, or even non-existent. So, be prepared and keep prepping. Also remember to help a neighbor out when you can; you never know when you, will need some help yourself one day. Maybe split the satellite service between you and your neighbor. Just a thought…

The Practical Prepper

Jack Woods

Charley Tango Comms Bash July 2016

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For all those with an interest in Comms with your prepping this was sent to me by one of our colleagues with a comms interest.

Amrron.com

A serious Preppers Comms site

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Seen a few comments from preppers about going to this could be very interesting for the Ham fans and preppers who like […]

Alpha Bravo Creations: Tactical Hand Signals & Phonetic Alphabet Flash Cards

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I’m to review Flashcards teaching Army Hand signals & the Phonetic Alphabet?

When I received this assignment, I was skeptical. Certainly, communications modes are a specialty I’m familiar with, but I’m no Platoon Leader, and my days of playing Army Man is a bit behind me. Besides, this is a review of kids flashcards, my last dealing with was in learning math in grade school.

But I was surprised when I examined the deck of cards of the Phonetic Alphabet, I immediately got the concept & it’s potential. Then, when I tried out the deck of Army Hand signals & American Sign Language, it struck me that these flashcards are invaluable for not just kids, but for adults too.

Communication in it’s purest sense is simply transferring information from one place to another by any means necessary, either verbally, or non-verbally. So while from the standpoint of preparedness, the ability to convey information clearly & accurately is paramount, the ability to also do so silently can be vital.
So here’s where these flashcards come in handy, (pardon the pun).
Use of hand signals offers clear communication totally unspoken, as any misbehaving youngster frozen in mid-frolic by Mom & Dad pointing at them can attest. Message CLEARLY conveyed.

Each flashcard offers a term or statement with an illustration of it’s accompanying hand gesture. There’s also directions on how to do the gesture.  By learning to recognize the gestures and connect it to the word or statement, standard terms & gestures can be strung together to make whole sentences or concepts. By repetition of using these cards anyone can become proficient in using hand signals.
Like I said… very handy.
It didn’t take long at all for this old dog to learn some new tricks, not long at all.
Hand gestures are useful…(bet you thought I’d say HANDY again), if ever I’d be in a situation where I NEED to communicate without speaking a word. Serious stuff, like  HURRY! THIS WAY to the RALLY POINT.

While Alpha Bravo’s Hand Signals for Kids helps kids add realism to their playacting, what you can learn from them can be a vital aid for anyone in a disaster to emergency.

 
http://www.alphabravocreations.com/military-phonetic-alphabet-flashcards/

Next came the deck of flashcards teaching the Phonetic Alphabet.

If you’ve ever seen a Cop show on TV or a Hollywood Blockbuster War Movie, someone is always talking over a mic saying stuff like”Foxtrot Uniform Bravo Alpha Romeo“…or some sort of drivel. It’s not heatstroke that’s got the actor talking gibberish, it’s the PHONETIC ALPHABET, used to verbalize individual letters using spoken words. Tango is the letter “T”, India the letter “I”, Charlie the letter “C”, and so on.

Using phonetics is handy when noise conditions make it hard to discern single letters. Sounds like “Eee” & “Tee” &”Cee” can often be misheard in a noisy location. So by attributing a word starting with the letter, it’s easier to understand, because you’re more likely to hear parts of a word and mentally fill in the blanks.
With the Phonetic Alphabet Flashcards,  Alpha Delta Creations has presented each letter with a picture symbol depiction of the word, as well as it’s corresponding Morse Code symbol.


HUH! What? Morse Code? Hams do Morse code! Heck, even Rambo tapped out Morse code to send a message in one of his movies! Morse Code is HANDY!

While not a requirement any longer to know Morse Code, it’s still a widely popular mode of communication in Ham Radio, the dots & dashes able to be heard & deciphered, when signal conditions are so poor that vocal speech is “in the mud” & unrecognizable.

I know very well the phonetic alphabet, but I never acquired Morse Code. So now, armed with a set of flash cards depicting them, I’ll bet picking up the code could be just as easy as picking up these cards.

Dare say it… it’ll be CHILD’S PLAY.

My review started out skeptical, but I quickly came around. I seriously suggest getting your kids these flashcards & using them yourself. Who says kids get to do all the fun? In fact, make learning how to do Tactical Hand Signaling AND the Phonetic Alphabet & Morse Code a family fun project. One that may pay SERIOUS dividends later.
(I almost forgot… did anybody catch the reference of “Foxtrot, Uniform, Bravo, Alpha, Romeo”? Learn the Phonetic Alphabet & watch Saving Private Ryan till you do. )
LEARN MORE or ORDER a set of flashcards, visit Alpha Bravo Creations Website. www.alphabravocreations.com

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Post Disaster Communication for Newbies

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Post Disaster Communication for Newbies During and after a disaster, information is at a premium. The chaos that disasters bring can make getting any solid information almost impossible. Disaster communication is very different from when you were a kid, playing on walkie talkies or maybe CB radios in your vehicles. The rules are different, the …

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Emergency Preparedness Radio Station

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Over on the Survival UK Forum Lightspeed is making an interesting proposal for anyone interested in trying out a complete easy to use radio station. Here is the article he posted. If you are interested get over there to register your interest.

FREE: Emergency Preparedness radio station For a while I’ve been harping on about […]

7 Reasons to Protect Your Devices Against Electromagnetic Pulse

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protect electronics from electromagnetic pulse

Definition: Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): A burst of electromagnetic radiation that can damage electrical and electronic devices, observed as a byproduct of a nuclear explosion.

EMP risk

Could an atmospheric nuclear explosion in just the right place over the U.S. cause massive damage from the ensuing EMP pulse? Absolutely, the evidence is strong that potential EMP effects would be wide-ranging and would be very difficult from which to recover. When many people first learn of this potential, devastating disaster, they often wonder if there’s any use in protecting electronics from electromagnetic pulse — electronics that, if they remained undamaged — could provide an enormous survival advantage.

DIY PROJECT: Learn about making a homemade Faraday container with these instructions. These types of containers are known to protect electronic equipment.

A great read about these effects is the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (2008), a report to the U.S. Congress. It’s more readable than you might think.

EMP Report

EMP Report

The EMP Commission, as it has come to be known, used historical and experimental data to analyze expected damage in all aspects of modern society. For the most part, the EMP causes damage by inducing strong, damaging electrical currents in wires and unprotected electronic components.

But as time goes on, I’m more and more convinced that doomsday scenarios of an EMP attack on the U.S. that totally destroys all electronics and takes down our whole electrical grid are popular because they’re easy. The scenarios are “easy” because if you assume all electronics are fried by the EMP, you don’t have to worry about reconstituting our electronics-dependent civilization. However, there are a lot of reasons to believe that while an EMP attack would cause significant damage, it is not an automatic “extinction-level event,” and we actually have some control over our destiny.

Let’s define our discussion: All of us have electronic devices upon which we save important information: phone numbers, addresses, business transactions, documents, photos, etc. Whether it’s a smartphone, a computer, ebook reader, a flash drive, or a digital camera, all of our devices have some level of vulnerability to damage from a strong electromagnetic pulse. Modern vehicles and appliances have all become electronics-dependent as well. But vulnerability does not automatically doom the device; your behavior can reduce the vulnerability.

Reality check

The potential launch of a nuclear-tipped missile into the atmosphere above the U.S., which would be the most effective way to generate a damaging EMP, has been on the radar of our military for many years. In particular, after their embarrassing inability to make a significant impact on the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 our military services and Department of Homeland Security have paid greater attention to asymmetrical threats against the Homeland:

  • Some military command, control, and communications systems have been “hardened” against EMP effects since the Cold War days.
  • Our military services regularly plan for and practice supporting state and local governments in disasters, known as “DSCA,” or “Defense Support of Civil Authorities.”
  • The Navy and Coast Guard actively watch for unusual cargo ship behavior, as this is one platform from which an EMP-causing ballistic missile could be fired close to the U.S. mainland.
  • The Navy and Air Force routinely launch interceptors to investigate unusual aircraft approaching U.S. airspace.
  • While not generally publicized, the U.S. has anti-missile defense systems fielded by the Army, Navy, and Air Force. National Missile Defense is alive and well in the U.S.
  • The National Operations Center in Washington D.C. has near-instantaneous and simultaneous communications with the emergency management “Warning Points” in all 50 states. A missile warning can be transmitted in seconds, allowing critical infrastructure like power grids and communications networks to shut down and limit damage to EMP-vulnerable components.
  • Federal, state, and local emergency management officials can now use the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to alert the public to take specific actions like shutting down communications devices, stopping industrial processes like water and fuel pipeline systems, and urging people to exit potentially hazardous areas like elevators. Warning messages can be customized based on the facts of the situation.

EMP characteristics

The strength of the EMP pulse of energy is dependent on distance, sort of like a flash from a fireworks display: close up, the flash can be powerful and almost blinding, but from several miles away the light is weaker, less bright. Similar to light, the pulse affects things within its’ line-of-sight, meaning that in many cases terrain and built-up urban areas will create “shadow” areas unaffected by the pulse. So some people will receive a strong pulse, which could damage their electronics; others will be in the shadow and their electronics will probably be OK.

So what’s the point of protecting electronics?

If such a disastrous event would occur, what would be the point of protecting our electronics? After all, so many of them are used in very trivial ways. Even so, there are several very important reasons to take the time and effort necessary to keep them safe from the effects of EMP. They can hold vast amounts of information, the equivalent of thousands of books. Although we all love our books for reference and entertainment, when my Kindle holds over 230 books (and each of my kids has their own Kindle with nearly the same number), it’s impossible to say that hard copies are always better.

Here are just a few more reasons why protecting electronics from EMP is rational:

  1. Survival information — If you haven’t yet downloaded and stored large quantities of information related to survival, do it now. Many of these resources are completely free. (Check out this list right here on Survival Mom.) Store medical and first aid information on an old laptop, old smartphones, and ebook readers, such as a Kindle. Download books about herbal remedies, food preservation, and off grid living.
  2. Educational resources — Once the dust has settled, and life may never return to “normal” again, it will be up to parents and others in the community to provide an education for children. Homeschooling will almost certainly be required. Download classic literature, non-fiction books related to science, nature, history, and government. Ambleside Online, a free homeschool curriculum, has excellent lists of books, many of which are completely free as ebooks.
  3. Entertainment — Your kids reliance on electronics, and even your own, may be a total waste of time, but in a worst case scenario in which your family’s lifestyle changes dramatically, overnight, sources of entertainment could prove to be life-saving. Anything with stored movies, TV shows, music, and recorded books will help relieve stress and provide an important distraction.
  4. Keep historical information intact — Family photos and videos, geneological records, local history, U.S. History, the U.S. Constitution — these will all provide a touchstone to the past. In the book A Canticle for Leibowitz, after a cataclysmic event that destroys virtually all civilization, only a very few written records survive. One is a single scrap of paper, a portion of an old grocery list! Those who survive in a post-EMP world, however long the grid failure lasts, will want and need more than that in order to preserve and continue civilization as well as their heritage.
  5. Provide resources for spiritual renewal — Whether or not one is a church goer, a world that suddenly becomes a very scary, and likely very violent, will require inner strength. Copies of the Bible and other books of inspiration can easily be stored on ebook readers, computers, and smartphones.
  6. Tactical advantages — Having information and the ability to communicate via ham radio or walkie-talkies will give survivors, whether an individual or a group, an advantage over those who do not have those abilities.
  7. Earn money — With a vast amount of information, the ability to communicate and relay messages, provide entertainment and spiritual support, you’ll have the tools to earn an income and/or barter for products and services you need most.

What’s the point in protecting electronics from EMP?
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Carefully building one or more Faraday containers and then taking pains to protect individual electronic items is hardly a fool’s errand with all these advantages those devices provide.

Actions you can take to protect your electronics from EMP

The safest place for your electronics during an EMP is inside a metal box, (steel is a better conductor than aluminum), commonly referred to as a “Faraday Cage.” Metal tool boxes, file cabinets, even aluminum foil can shield your device from EMP.

The important thing is to makes sure the container is sealed by closing all openings, and is free of wiring that protrudes through the side of the container. The container receives the EMP pulse and conducts it around the outside, protecting the contents of the container from the EMP pulse. A quick test to check that your container is doing its job is to put a cellular phone inside and close it up; then call the phone with another phone. If you hear it ring inside the container, the container isn’t effective as a Faraday Cage. If it doesn’t ring, you can have some confidence that it will afford some level of protection for electronics kept inside.

An old metal first aid box makes a decent Faraday Cage

An old metal first aid box makes a decent Faraday Cage

At home and around the office, the next best defense for your electronics is to connect all power supplies to quality surge protectors. If the EMP pulse isn’t strong enough to kill your connected electronics immediately, they still may be vulnerable to the expected electrical current surge. The surge suppressor may or may not help, but it is an inexpensive additional protection.

One last protective measure is to have a whole-house lightning arrestor installed in your electrical panel. The part is less than $100, but it should be installed by an electrician. It absorbs a current surge, such as that from a nearby lightning strike. Not a 100% solution, but every level of protection you add tips the scales in your favor.

Surge Suppressor

Invest in quality surge suppressors

The Cloud

Another reason to protect your electronics is that we have learned to back up and protect data outside of our devices. The ubiquitous “Cloud” backs up a great deal of our data, just in the course of life. I’ve noticed that my Windows 10 laptop steers me into using their “OneDrive” cloud-based storage by default, requiring me to consciously choose to store documents on my laptop if I disagree. Smartphones often use their data providers’ backup systems, another “Cloud” variant. So in addition to being able to restore your contact list when you drop your phone in the toilet, in many cases a good part of your data is backed up by your carrier.

READ MORE: The Cloud isn’t just for worst-case-scenario data storage but for dozens of other, everyday survival applications. Read more here.

Professional data centers are well-protected against electrical hazards, and backup protocols regularly create off-line copies for disaster recovery. Protect your devices so you can make use of the backups that probably will survive. Having your stored information on more than one device is an inexpensive way to provide this protection yourself.

A last thought

We are raising an entire generation that was brought up with home computers, tablet devices, and smartphones. In many cases, your teenager is much more tech-savvy as to these devices that you are. Can you imagine the loss and disorientation they are going to feel when their world of connectivity is heavily damaged by an EMP? If for no other reason, protect your devices for the next generation.

Read more about life after EMP

More information here on this blog

protect electronics from electromagnetic pulse

The 1 Communication System That Will Always Work — Even If Society Collapses

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The 1 Communication Tool That Always Works -- Even When The Power Grid Is Down

We are blessed in our modern-day society with a robust and diverse communications grid: landline phones, cell phones, cable Internet, even satellite communication.

But the stark reality is that all of those systems can, do and have gone down in an emergency. For better or worse, we are a communication-dependent culture, and many of us wonder the same thing: How will we stay in touch during an emergency or even when the grid goes down?

Many Americans have an answer, and it is amateur radio. Ham radio — so-called because of the “ham-fisted” nature of early amateur wireless telegraph operators — is literally designed to provide robust communication in case of disaster or emergency. In fact, that ability is one of the key planks of the entire program as defined and designed by the FCC.

Typically when primary communication goes down, volunteer ham radio operators provide their time and gear to local emergency response units, the Red Cross or simply with their neighbors, and get messages out when there is no other real-time communication method.

Re-Charge Your Laptop And Nearly Everything Else With The New Pocket Power X!

If you or your group want to get in on this, the first thing you need to do is get licensed. The exams are simple, the Morse code requirement was dropped years ago, and most importantly, once licensed you’ll be able to work with local clubs and groups that are dedicated to maintaining a communication backbone during an emergency. The most basic license, called “Technician Class,” is sufficient to get you on the air with the most common type of short range radios on the 2-meter band. Upgrade to General or Extra and you can work frequencies across the shortwave spectrum as well, allowing true global communication.

The 1 Communication Tool That Always Works -- Even When The Power Grid Is Down

Image source: wikipedia

For many well-equipped survivalists, a simple two-meter handheld is all they’ll ever need. Sufficient for local work, for communicating with a small group, or accessing local repeaters, radios ranging from the ubiquitous and affordable BaoFengs to the more expensive and premium quality Yaesu handhelds will more than do the job. These types of radios are perfect for small group exercises, keeping in touch with nearby family, or getting onto a local net which may use repeaters or simple relay methods to pass traffic out of your local area. Some repeaters are connected to the Internet, giving you true global reach, or are trunked with other frequencies, like 10 meters, which can give you a regional or global reach. Either way, a good handheld is a must addition to your survival gear.

New Survival Energy Product Makes Every Window A Powerful Solar Charger

Hot on the heels of handhelds, it’s hard to beat a good base station. Whether installed in your vehicle or in your home, even a basic two-meter base station will give you greater range than a handheld. Remember, too, that most two-meter radios will be able to listen to NOAA weather reports, and even many common law enforcement and fire channels, making them even more invaluable in a survival situation.

If you spend some more money and invest in a high frequency radio, you’ll be able to use globe spanning frequencies like 10 or 20 meters, and, when coupled with the right antenna, be able to reach out for hundreds and thousands of miles.

Most critically, though, you need a way to power all of these things. Small handhelds run off of easily rechargeable battery packs that you can recharge with a generator, solar unit, or in your vehicle. Some also have battery packs that use common AA batteries, making them even more versatile.  Acquaint yourself with local and (if applicable) regional networks. These are scheduled events usually open to any operator who cares to call in and join. Most of these also will activate during an emergency and may work with civil authorities or aid in relaying messages out of an affected area. Ham radios are also very useful for staying in touch with your family, friends or survival group in case of an emergency.

Of course, it is important to acquaint yourself with your gear and local groups BEFORE relying on them for an emergency. Some people think they’ll just get a radio and stick it in a drawer until they “have” to use it. This is simply a good way to get ignored or fumble around on the air at best, and to get badly hurt at worse. A ham radio isn’t some magical communication tool, but it is the communication tool that will remain functioning even in the worst of disasters due to its decentralized nature.

Right now, if you have the luxury of reading this in safety, you have the luxury to invest in some gear and get licensed. It could actually save your life someday.

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

Primitive Off-Grid Survival Communication

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Primitive Off-Grid Survival Communication

Image source: YouTube screen grab

 

Before we dive into off-grid communication, let’s define a few terms. “Off the grid” means no electric power, but solar and hand-cranked generators are still a possibility. That means that batteries for walkie-talkies, CB radios, flashlights, Ham radios and something as simple as car horns or car headlights are an option.

As a result, your off-grid communication could be as simple as voice communication if you have a working walkie-talkie, CB radio or Ham with voice. It also might mean you are dependent on knowledge and mastery of Morse code, which can be communicated by sound, light or with battery-powered electronics.

But there’s another alternative that is genuinely primitive. Many of these forms include symbols and signals made by various arrangements of objects, or in the case of semaphore, the arrangement of flags in different configurations.

If you have any serious concerns about living off grid, you should learn Morse code. If there is no electricity and if other communication forms fail, it could be your only option for getting word to others; if you can communicate with Morse by sound and sight then you have a significant survival advantage.

Get The Essential Secrets Of The Most Savvy Survivalists In The World!

Start with the basic alphabet, learn the numbers and other key signs like “CQ,” and practice with a friend or family member. (In case you’re wondering, “CQ” stands for “seek you,” usually followed by the designation for that person.) Many of the text message abbreviations we see today come from Morse code and Ham radio.

Morse CodeLetters
A . _ N _ .
B _ . . . O _ _ _
C _ . _ . P . _ _ .
D _ . . Q _ _ . _
E . R . _ .
F . . _ . S . . .
G _ _ . T _
H . . . . U . . _
I . . V . . . _
J . _ _ _ W . _ _
K _ . _ X _ . . _
L . _ . . Y _ . _ _
M _ _ Z _ _ . .
Numbers
1 . _ _ _ _ 6 _ . . . .
2 . . _ _ _ 7 _ _ . . .
3 . . . _ _ 8 _ _ _ . .
4 . . . . _ 9 _ _ _ _ .
5 . . . . . 0 _ _ _ _ _

 

Morse Delivered 3 Ways

You can deliver Morse code messages with light, sounds or electronically with audible dots and dashes on a keypad. Any primitive communication would be impossible with audible electronic beats, so let’s get really analog.

Car Horn Morse Code

If you have a functioning 12-volt battery, you can use a car horn to transmit Morse code. This assumes the person you’re trying to communicate with is expecting your message. This is where the old “CQ” salutation followed by the person’s name or call sign comes in handy. Once you’ve connected, you’re in business — assuming the other person has a functioning car horn, air horn or a flashlight.

The Canoe Drum

This gets a little trickier if you’re trying to signal using Morse code. The benefit of a horn or a flashlight is that you can vary the duration to create easily recognizable dots and dashes. With a canoe, you need a different approach. You need to flip the canoe over and with a piece of wood, hit the belly of the canoe for a dash, and toward the bow or stern for a dot. The belly of the canoe will have a heavy, bass sound and the stern or bow a lighter, treble sound.

A Hollow Tree

This could work, assuming you find one that produces a loud enough sound. You’re also going to hope that two sections of the tree or log gives you the sound variation similar to the canoe.

The Signal Mirror

A reflection from a mirror can be seen up to 20 miles away. The trick to effectively transmitting Morse code is aligning the reflections with your target. That’s why signal mirrors have two reflective sides and a small hole drilled in the center of the mirror. The idea is to allow the spot of sun streaming through the hole to land on your cheek. When you look at your face and align the hole with the spot of sun on your cheek, you are directing the reflection directly at your target. Now you can vary the duration of the dots and dashes accurately to send your message.

Some signal mirrors actually have Morse code super imposed over the mirrored surface, pointed at your face, in case you’re new to Morse.

Semaphore

This is a signaling system that involves the use of two flags in extended arms that are presented with varying arrangements to create the alphabet. It was used by the French during the Napoleonic wars and is still taught in the Boy Scouts.

The flags can be fashioned out of any material affixed to two sticks. Here’s the official Boy Scout instructions:

Primitive Off-Grid Survival Communication

Ground Signals

There are signals that can be communicated to aircraft or someone at a high elevation and a direct line of site to your location.  Some consist of symbols created with objects on the ground like branches, leaves or tracks in the snow. Here are some of the standard configurations:

Primitive Off-Grid Survival Communication

Body Signals

Body postures also can be used to communicate with aircraft or people at a distance who can see you well enough to discern your posture:

Primitive Off-Grid Survival Communication

Practice, Practice, Practice

Take time to learn the signals and if at all possible, practice with a friend. Someday, it may save your life.

What advice would you add for off-grid communication? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

The NATO Phonetic Alphabet will Prevent Miscommunication

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Many preppers are planning to use radios for communication in case of civil unrest or other emergencies. Scanners can also provide intelligence in case of natural disasters like forest fires or civil disturbances.  Much of the information that is available on the radios or scanners will use military time and the NATO phonetic alphabet.  The other day I wrote a post on the use of the 24-hour military time clock

Today I am writing on the use of the NATO phonetic alphabet.  The use of various phonetic alphabets has been common ever since the advent of radio communication.

In 1957 the US and NATO adopted the NATO Phonetic Alphabet to help eliminate communication problems between the various militaries.  Today it is also used at most airports and variations are used in police communication.  Prior to adopting it, they did extensive studies to see what words best could serve the purpose.  The tests included 31 different countries and of course many different accents.  The words that were selected were the ones that were most understandable regardless of the accent.

The NATO phonetic alphabet

350px-FAA_Phonetic_and_Morse_Chart2.svg

The phonetic alphabet can be used to spell out words to avoid mistakes and to make sure that any messages sent in code are correctly understood.  If you plan to use radio communications after TEOTWAWKI, spent a bit of time and learn both the 24-hour clock and the phonetic alphabet.

Radios can be a force multiplier by providing coordination and intelligence.  Here are a couple of other posts on radio communication that I recommend that you read.

Radios have become quite inexpensive and I suggest that you at least have them for short-range communications.

Howard

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Avoiding Errors in Your Radio Communication

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radio communicationThe Other day I wrote a blog on   Using the 24-Hour Clock, Converting Civilian time to Military Time.  Now this is really useful if you are communicating by radio, it can save a lot of confusion.  A friend of mine sent the following information to help you with your radio communication.  He included some other suggestion in addition to the ones on time.  So here are his comments.

“It is helpful also to know how to “voice” these figures over the radio, as doing so in a standardized manner is an aid to clear communications when reception is less than ideal.

When replying to a request for a “radio check”, use plain language:

LOUD AND CLEAR means, Excellent copy with no noise
GOOD READABLE means, Good copy, with slight noise
FAIR READABLE means, OCCASIONAL FILLS are needed
WEAK READABLE means, FREQUENT FILLS are needed
WEAK UNREADABLE means, RELAY REQUIRED.

Voicing 24-Hour Time Examples:

12:45 a.m. zero zero four five hours
12:00 noon one two zero zero hours
11:45 p.m. two three four five hours
12:00 midnight two four zero zero hours
1:30 a.m. zero one three zero hours

Voicing number groups, examples:

10 becomes one zero
75 becomes seven five
100 becomes one zero zero
5800 becomes five eight zero zero
11000 becomes one one thousand
121.5 MHz becomes one two one decimal five Megahertz
$0.75 becomes currency, seven five cents
$17.25 becomes dollars, one seven decimal two five”

I know that he has had lots of radio communication experience and he knows what he is talking about.  In my own experience, I have seen serious errors in communications occur on the radio.  If you are in any doubt, always repeat the information.  Also, you may want to take the time to learn the phonetic alphabet.  In the future, I will write a post on it.

Howard

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Using the 24-Hour Clock, Converting Civilian time to Military Time

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Have you ever confused a meeting or appointment that was scheduled for 8 o’clock in the morning with one that was scheduled for 8 o’clock at night.  Now during normal times this is not much of a problem, but when you are working on a 24-hour schedule as the United States military does it can rapidly become a problem.  The solution to this is to use the militaries 24-hour clock.  It is simple to understand and anybody can learn it in a few minutes.

It is based on 24 hours and is a method of keeping time that runs from midnight to midnight and is divided into 24 one hour periods.

With the 24 hour clock there is not two “four o’clock” in the military as there is with civilian time.  For instance, the civilian 4:00 AM is equal to 0400 military, and 4:00 PM is equal to 1600.  A couple more examples of civilian to military time is if local time is 9:27 AM, the local military time would be 0927, and it would be spoken as “Zero nine twenty seven.” If the local time was 7:36 PM, the local military time would be 1936, and it would be spoken as “Nineteen thirty six.”

The reason for this is that the military can’t take a chance on miscommunication when they are planning operations.  A misunderstanding that results in a 12-hour mistake can get people killed.  Any veteran will tell you that it is easy to learn and is less confusing.  In an emergency in which you have to communicate with others either directly or by radio you can’t afford mistakes.

The following is a conversion chart from civilian to the militaries 24-hour clock.  Take a few minutes and learn how it works.

24-hour clock
Hopefully the above chart will have fully explained how it works.  Try using it and you will be surprised at how easy it is.

Howard

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5 Things You Didn’t Know Android Can Do

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Android and IkrossAndroid is constantly at battle with Apple, but there are a lot of interesting features that the OS company has over its rival, which are sure to make you at least turn your head. As one of the coolest and innovative companies around, Android never ceases to amaze, which is exactly why this list had to be made – below are the top 5 coolest things you probably didn’t know your Android could do. Watch this video by TeQreation to see the complete video review and app links.

5. Expand Your Memory with iKROSS

iKROSS is a lesser known company that has a lot to offer. If you happen to own an Android phone that doesn’t have an SD slot, then memory expansion may seem like an option that’s flown out the window, but with the help of iKROSS, you can expand your memory through the micro USB 2.0 slot.

4. Use an Ethernet Cable for high-speed internet

When most people hear Ethernet cable, they think of old school internet; dial up with scraggly sounds and screeches, but what many don’t know is that it’s still one of the most reliable forms of internet, even more than Wi-Fi. You can do this with your Android phone or tablet by simply purchasing an OTG Cable connector and connecting it with an Ethernet port.

3. Use Your Phone as a Monitor

For many photographers and filmmakers, a monitor is crucial – it assists the artist in making sure not only the composition is perfect, but the angle and overall look as well, which is why using your Android as a DSLR monitor is one of the coolest and most little-known features. The best route is to download the Android app ‘DSLR Controller,’ then connect your phone or tablet to the DSLR for a live feed via USB 2.0.

2. Use Your Phone as a Wireless Mouse

Apple iMacs are known for wowing people with their magic mouse, a tool that allows users to freely control the computer from virtually anywhere in the room, but did you know that Androids offer the same product? By downloading the Remote Mouse app from the Android store, you’ll be able to control your laptop or desktop, all from the touch of your Android’s screen!

1. Make Your Android a Remote

This is probably the most useful and underused tool that any device on the market can do. Whether it’s your television, Blu-Ray Player, or Apple TV, your Android most likely controls all of these products, making it incredibly pointless to juggle different remotes. You should be able to do it from any Android device, especially if there is a pre-installed IR Blaster, which most phones come with. The best universal app to start your journey is the Peel Smart Remote app, an app that’s fully accessible in the Android store.

This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license.  All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.

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Alphabet talk? Prepping Acronyms!

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Alphabet talk? Prepping Acronyms, what they mean. DJ Cooper “Surviving Dystopia” Last week I am talking about in the event of TEOTWAWKI that we need to grab our BOB hop in the BOV and head to the BOL. We could be SOL if it is an EMP or GDE because our EDC will likely not … Continue reading Alphabet talk? Prepping Acronyms!

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Noise discipline, some tips to help you maintain yours

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noise discipline Noise discipline is the practice of minimizing ones noise signature so that it does not compromise your intended purpose.  For a prepper this can vary from trying to avoid attracting attention while bugging in to maintaining silence while traveling on foot.

Have you ever been outside in your yard when there is a power outage. Did you notice just how quiet everything is?  You still have the sounds of the birds and the wind blowing through the trees.  But many of the sounds we have been used to hearing are gone.  Now imagine no motor vehicles.  You will find that you will be surprised at how far sound carries and you will notice sounds you normally never hear.

Now noise discipline may be a bit different for a prepper than for the military.  The military is more than likely in the field and not hiding at home.  They also don’t normally have to deal with children.

Here are some rules for noise discipline that cover both at home and in the field.

  1. When walking outside, watch where you set your feet down. Do not step on dried leaves or grass.  The sound from that stick you break will carry a long way especially at night.
  2. Consider not using Velcro fasteners on your equipment. When things are quite the sound carries surprisingly far.  Replace Velcro with buttons or other type of fasteners.
  3. If you are carrying a cell phone, be sure and turn it down or put it on vibrate.
  4. Secure all the metal parts of your field gear with tape to prevent them from making noise during movement
  5. Use radios only when necessary. This includes radios that may be used for communication as well as that solar powered radio you have in your preps.  At home use headsets with them as much as possible to avoid attracting attention from your neighbors.
  6. In the field, avoid unnecessary movement of people or vehicles.
  7. In the field be aware of the sound that a half filled canteen will make as the water sloshes around. Consider using collapsible canteens.
  8. Nylon and some other synthetic fabrics are known for being noisy in the woods
  9. Teach your young children that they have to be quite when so instructed. This takes time and practice, start now.
  10. Remember the sound of your voice can carry quite far. So watch what you say.  No yelling lunch is ready.
  11. No yelling
  12. Develop hand signals that will convey important information. Like be quite, take cover etc.

Now all of these are pretty much common sense.  But they will need to become second nature in an emergency.  Even though your neighbors will know you are living there, you still need to avoid attracting unwanted attention.

Howard

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Survival Communication!

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Survival Communication w/ Jim Cobb
Josh “The 7P’s of Survival

Survival Communication w/ Jim CobbThis week we will have Jim Cobb from Survival Weekly on the show to talk about his new book “Prepper’s CommunicationHandbook: Lifesaving Strategies For Staying In Contact During And After A Disaster.” We talk about communication with ham radios, walkies-talkies, shortwave radios, scanners, internet based communication, codes/ciphers, covert communication and much more. Jim is the owner and lead trainer for DisasterPrepConsultants.com. His articles on preparedness have been published in national magazines and you can find him online at survivalweekly.com.

 Jim CobbCommunications with loved ones is one of the most essential skills and plans you can have in place for a post disaster scenario. After 9/11, Katrina, Sandy and even during some major gatherings cell phone towers and other forms of communication are destroyed or incapable servicing your communication needs. Information is a critical resource regardless of disaster type. You need it in order to make effective decisions. Information will, or at least should, guide your actions and your planning. While food, water, shelter and security should be your first priorities as those are essential to your life moving forward. Once those needs are realized you will need to plan your next course of action (assuming you don’t have pre-plans for the scenario in place). To plan those next actions you will need to have up-to date and accurate information.

Exploring the best options for every scenario, this hands on guide features detailed information on multiple emergency communication systems, including satellite radio, shortwave, NOAA receivers, GMRS/FRS radios, citizen band, ham radio, radio scanners and MURS radio.
Visit the 7P’s of Survival Website HERE! 
Join us for The 7P’s of Survival “LIVE SHOW” every Tuesday 9:00/Et 8:00Ct 6:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat

Listen to this broadcast or download “Survival Communication w/ Jim Cobb” in player below!

Get the 24/7 app for your smart phone HERE! 
Put the 24/7 player on your web site HERE! 
Archived shows of 7P’s of Survival at bottom of THIS PAGE!

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Q: Can a tree really be used as an antenna?

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Apparently, there is information floating around the interwebs that trees can be used as an antenna.  But, does it work?  Has anyone out there done actual research on this?  Hooked up a SWR meter?… measured tree diameters?… logged tree types and moisture levels?

I’m fascinated with antennas and coils and there seems to be some logic behind this, but is my logic simply defeated by a the ground connection that a tree has?

In the mid 2000’s, a now “silent key” and I tested a water antenna.  It was a 90 foot long wire in a nylon rope.  Our SWR tests were initially successful, well, until the water saturated the nylon and grounded the antenna.  Maybe the same happens in a tree, or maybe there’s some way to create a reflector (ground plane?) to help performance.

Has anyone out there simply tried pounding a nail into a tree and hooking up a shortwave and comparing the performance to the aerial?  There are lots of nay-sayers out there… but how about some good ol’ fashioned ingenuity here?

ePrepper has removed its copyright, but why?

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Over the past weeks, I’ve been reading Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution – 25th Anniversary Edition by Steven Levy.  The book very much reminds me of the kinds of things I messed around with when I was teen.  But, there is a underlying theme throughout the book that strikes a chord with my hacker mindset.  Information should be open.

While listening to the success of various groups that worked in the original forms of open source hardware and software, I was inspired.  I was inspired to make sure the work I’ve put into my own articles don’t simply evaporate should something happen to me or my website.

There’s a spiritual parallel to my decision as well.  Does one have to pay for a Bible to have access to God’s word?  Aside from restricted access countries, no, it’s pretty much freely available, and if not in print, through the web.  Does one have to visit a church to pray to Almighty God?  Obviously not.  In no way do I put the value of my site next to God, but I believe that if information I have is useful, then I want others to replicate that work and improve upon it.

Let’s face it.  I’m not in this to make money and I want my information to be freely shared.  Should a website happen to attribute an article to ePrepper.net and link back, that’s great, but if not, I don’t really care.  I’m just glad to get information out there.

If I could just figure out a way to get you all free and secure email addresses, I’d do that too!  But for now, feel free to take full articles and repost as you see fit within your respective communities.  Perhaps this is one small step in fulfilling the larger goal of improving communications across the board for us.

Our new footer now reads:

Using Cell Phone for Emergency Communications

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emergency communication

cell phones and chargers

We are all spoiled by the fact that we carry a small communication device in our pockets, the cell phone.  When I was young, these were still dreams in the science fiction movies.  Today I carry one with me everywhere and probably depend on it to much.  I am still not quite up to date; I haven’t gone to a smartphone yet, but maybe one of these days. During many different situations cell phones, work well for emergency communications.

If it is an EMP attack or a situation in which the government shuts down the cell phone system occurs you will have to go with your backup plan.  However, in the mean time, the cell phone is very handy and almost everyone has one.

A few years back we had a major wildland fire in our area that destroyed over 60 homes.  Several members of our church live in the area and we wanted to check on them.  But the phone system was jammed.  We discovered that even when the lines were jammed, texts were going through.  We were able to reach everyone successfully by using texting.

emergency communication

The USB ports in the Hybridelight

One of the problems with cell phone is that they need to be charged.  So how do you charge one in an emergency?  I carry a Charge Worx Power Bank in my kit. This allows me one extra charge in an emergency.  Now this works well with my old phone, but it may not provide enough power for some of the newer smart phones.  However, there are a variety of different size power banks that will meet your needs.  I ordered an extra one from Amazon today that provides 6000 amh of power and will charge smartphones and tablets.

Many of these devices can be charged from a Goal Zero or equivalent solar panel in an emergency.  The new solar powered flashlight from Hybridlight has a connection so that you can charge your phone from it and still have 2 ½ hours of light left.  I have one of these flashlights and love it.  I can recommend them.

Cell phones may be your best solution for emergency communications in many types of emergencies.  Get a backup power source for yours.  They are small, easy to use and very inexpensive.

Howard

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What will really happen on the ham bands when SHTF?

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Let’s talk ham bands for a bit (if you are already a ham, I know you know this stuff, this is for the non-ham).  Propagation (the ability for signals to reach distance) varies a lot.  Some bands have nearly consistent propagation all the time.  For example, the 2 meter ham band (144MHz-148MHz) and the 70 centimeter ham band (420MHz-450MHz) are fairly consistent.  If you have a repeater in town, you will likely have similar performance day after day (with some variation, but not too much).  Also, higher frequencies are good for line of sight, but do not travel well through ground or obstructions.

Now, let’s drop to the lower end of the spectrum.  Whereas 2M and 70cm have fairly consistent performance on the high end, 160M (1.8MHz-2.0MHz) and 80M (3.5MHz-4.0MHz) have fairly consistent performance on the low end (at least for nigh-time communication).  The bands between these two sets of bands can be very inconsistent.  Hams refer to “band openings” as times when the bands open up (many times due to conditions in the ionosphere).

If you are not familiar with the ARRL band plan, see it here: http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Regulatory/Band%20Chart/Hambands_color.pdf

So, what happens in a lights out scenario or in another situation when people are forced to use ham bands?  Let’s look at the amateur radio population (http://www.n0hr.com/ham_radio_population.htm).

See the link above from the N0HR website above.  It is amazing the Japan almost represents half of the world-wide amateur radio population with 1.3 million.  The US represents 680 thousand.  However, even the 680,000 in the US represents a ham radio problem.

Let’s say that just 0.5 percent of the 680,000 actually have a ham radio that operates on the 80 meter band (this is the most likely band for communicating distance).  That’s 34,000.  Let’s say most of these hams, like 75%, prefer SSB (voice) over CW or data modes.  That’s 25,500.  Let’s say that 80 meters is the ham band of choice for ham radio in hard times since propagation at night is pretty good and signals can reach hundreds of miles.  An “extra” class license permits SSB communications from 3.6MHz to 4.0MHz (let’s not split hairs over classes of licenses, let’s just go with the full available band).  SSB signals typically eat up about 3kHz.  The remaining 400kHz for SSB divided by 3kHz is 133 (actually 132 since one of the SSB signals would overlap out of band).

For the sake of the example, let’s also say that the ham operators are pretty well coordinated and everyone is communicating via nets where at least 10 persons per net.  Let’s also say that each net is designated to operate during a 2 hour window each evening.  That means at the best case 133 available SSB frequencies times 10 operators, or 1,330, can be engaged in communications at the same time (whether listening or whatever).  Multiply this number by 4 to represent 8 hours a night (with 2 hours per net), that would be 5,320.  This is a far cry from the potential 25,000 that may want to be engaged in communications and have the appropriate gear.

What does this mean?  This means in a best case scenario when every ham operator has their radio tuned properly to prevent frequency overlap and is legally communicating within the band and given the conditions stated in this mental exercise, the 80 meter band would be overwhelmingly crowded.

Factors to consider:

  • Most would be listening via SSB capable radios which has no impact on transmission.
  • 80 meter communications can transmit hundreds of miles, but hams would likely turn down their transmission outputs due to power constraints and to better localize communications
  • Other “band openings” would drive traffic to open bands when available
  • Local 2 meter communications still remains local and those just “chewing the cud” with other locals would likely choose 2 meters instead of piling up on 80 meters
  • The mental exercise presented above assumes that hams have access to a power source for their radio gear
  • Ham bands would likely be packed with hams and non-hams alike due to the nature of emergency communications
  • People would probably not follow FCC guidelines and would communicate on any frequency that they could get to work
  • Working a radio in CW (morse code) and data modes can take up very little bandwidth
  • My scenario only addresses use by 1/2 of 1 percent that are actively using the 80 meter band.  We have a serious communication pileup if even 2 percent of licensed hams in the US use the 80 meter band for transmission.

If you haven’t taken the time to get your ham license.  Do it!  It is super easy with websites like hamtestonline.com to help you.  You can even get online with a cheap Baofeng UV-5R and start hitting your local repeaters.  Additionally, learning morse code can be a huge benefit as CW takes up significantly less bandwidth and signal can travel much further on the same amount of power (see article: http://46.101.105.170/you-can-really-learn-morse-code-no-i-a/).

Product Review: Soft66RTL2 – a cheap HF SDR with surprising performance

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The Soft66RTL2 is a RTL-SDR based on the RTL2832u+R820T chip.  The Soft66RTL2 includes a 50MHz upconverter.  When the upconverter is switched on the unit will allow reception of HF bands.  For those new to SDR, simply using some software on a PC or MAC will allow reception of shortwave, morse code, lower side band, upper side band, and much more.  This review has been simmering for a while.  I will do my best to hit on everything I’ve learned while using the Soft66RTL2.

First, the Soft66RTL2 is available on eBay (eBay Link) at $39.80 (free shipping).  Plan on a week or two for shipping as the units ship from Japan.  A less than mediocre amount of information is available on the supplier’s website (http://zao.jp/radio/soft66rtl/) and we will get into that later.  Additionally, do not expect to receive any frequencies out of the box as the shipment from Japan will only include the Soft66RTL2 with no cables, antennas, or anything else.

To supplement my order with antennas and cables, I headed to Amazon and eBay.

Amazon:

eBay:

Most all the supplies I purchased were of nominal costs, the most expensive (other than the Soft66RTL2 itself) was the slinky antenna, which was about $25.00 after shipping

Ok, now for the nitty gritty of the Soft66RTL2.

Soft66RTL-2sideThe little case seems pretty solid.  The black metal portion of the case appears to be aluminum (which slides apart when the yellow covers are removed).  I don’t like the covers.  The covers make it difficult to slide the upconverter switch (but using a pen to flip the switch is effective).  For my intents and purposes the switch will likely remain on as have little to no plans on using this for VHF/UHF.

The yellow covers also give the impression that you may not have a good SMA connection.  In fact, I think the VHF/UHF antenna I choose has too much of a lip to make good connection and my VHF/UHF tests were almost entirely unproductive, that is until I removed the cover for the VHF/UHF side of the receiver and found that I was getting better reception.

Another design flaw is the lack of ventilation.  The Soft66RTL2 can get pretty warm and the maker of the units claims that this is normal.  A simple fix for the issues with cover thickness and heat would be to go to Radio Shack and pick up a little project case and drill out some vents and such.  Or, you could just take this case apart, drill it out and attach a screen of some sort to improve ventilation.  You could also cut out a thinner piece of plastic for the covers if connection to SMA is a concern.  I did none of these things.
Soft66RTL-1side

One thing to remember when using the Soft66RTL2 is that the side with the LED light is the HF side of the circuit.  Don’t get these confused or you will have a big problem with reception.

As mentioned, the unit doesn’t ship with really anything other than the SDR, so I thought I would include a picture of the antennas and my setup.

You can see that all these items can be shoved in a pretty small pouch.

Antennas

Moving on to SDR.  As I mentioned earlier, the maker’s website is pretty awful by way of good information and setup.  There are couple tips regarding ExtIO and basic SDR setup which would suffice by most, but I am not most.

I wanted to try to get this thing working in Ubuntu Linux.  I had a bear of a time getting it all working, but finally found some scripts and other clues to my problem by searching forums.  After hours of thinking that my Soft66RTL was total garbage, I switched to my Mac OS X running Yosemite.  I was still having issues.

Hooked Up

Finally, I decided to try Windows 7.  Huh, it was working.  I spent a couple hours surfing around on frequencies and realized what was going on with Linux and my Mac.  For some reason, though I had the 50MHz offset in my configuration, the software wasn’t taking it and I was able to get the Soft66RTL2 running on Linux, Mac, and Windows.  This was major success.  I removed the 50MHz offset from the settings and have to make the mental, yet easy calculation, of adding 50MHz to my radio fun.

In other words, I left my settings so that 53.9MHz would be 3.9MHz.  64.0MHz would be 14.0 MHz and so on.  Once I realized this, I stretched out the slinky antenna and I was quickly listening to single side band (SSB) chatter on 3.9MHz (the 75/80 meter ham band).

So, speaking software, what does the Soft66RTL2 need?  If you are already familiar with RTL-SDR, then you know that all the software you need is free.

Arguably, SDR# (SDRSharp) is a better choice for software, but I would recommend getting the SDR up and running on HDSDR as the setup can be easier, then go to SDR#.

You are probably asking, “how’s the reception?”  So, let’s dig into that.  After I was successfully receiving all sorts of traffic, I grabbed my Sony ICF-SW1 to check my frequencies.  I tuned into a shortwave signal and verified, using my Sony, that the frequencies were at least close.  The Soft66RTL2 isn’t spot on.  I found that it is about 1.9 kilocycles out of sync.  This really isn’t a big deal using SDR as you can easily see the signals on the spectrum and line up the reception.  I verified the 1.9 kilocycle offset with WWV on 5, 10, and 15MHz.  They were all out by about the same amount and that isn’t a deal breaker.

I notice that the reception of the Soft66RTL2 is a touch better than my Sony ICF-SW1 (even with the Sony attached to my slinky antenna).  That was great news to me as the SW1 is a stout receiver for its size.

Here’s a screenshot of HDSDR running on OS X tuning into a shortwave broadcast.  This screenshot is in the morning, so there really isn’t much good activity on the bands, but I at least wanted to show you a shortwave signal (click to enlarge the picture)

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 11.19.18 AM

If you decide to pick up a Soft66RTL2, here are some tips:

  1. Make sure your SMA connections are tight
  2. Be sure to use a good shortwave/HF antenna
  3. The unit warms up and drifts for the first few minutes, after which, the frequency gets stable, but might be off a a little.
  4. Don’t try to use the 50MHz offset or at least be aware of the offset issues I had with HDSDR (though you may try to do a slight offset for calibration purposes)
  5. The trim adjustment (as per the info on the maker’s website) is in fact sensitive, adjust it very slowly.  The gain on the HDSDR can also be pretty sensitive.
  6. What looks like a “carrier tone” shows up occasionally right in the middle of the spectrum (I know this doesn’t make sense being just a receiver, but it may be a flaw in the circuit design).  Sometimes just powering off and back on in HDSDR fixes it.  If it is in your listening, then scroll the frequency to the side and tune to it that way.  USB and LSB are unaffected, but shortwave and CW seem to more affected.

I hope all this helps.  I haven’t used the nooelec upconverter myself, so I can’t compare to that, but if you are looking for a RTL-SDR with upconverter for under $50 bucks, then I definitely recommend this setup.

— added —

Here’s a better screenshot of SSB (click to enlarge).  I also listened to a DX pileup tonight on 75/80 meters.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 10.44.51 PM

Also, when double-checking my offset tonight against WWV, I was exactly 1.5 kilocycles lower instead (I’m not sure if this will be consistent).

The Killer Baofeng 2-Way Radio Setup

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A good friend of mine recently shared an Amazon link with me to remind me of the great pricing that Amazon offers on Baofeng radios.  Many buy these as either an entry level dual band ham radio or to use a scanner.  They are great for both these applications.  As my first handheld ham radio, I purchased a Yaesu FT-270R form Ham Radio Outlet at about $150 shipped.

The Yaesu is a fantastic radio.  But, as with all these radios, you still need to purchase some other accessories to really make them rock.  For instance, a desktop cradle is almost always better than the cheesy wall-wort adapter that comes with most entry level handhelds.  Additionally, a good hand mic is great as well.  Then, what about solar charging to keep things charging when the grid is down?  Of course, you also want to be able to program from your computer using a programming cable instead of hand-keying in frequencies.  How much will all this cost with a pair of radios?  Well, let’s dig into it!

  1. For the sake of saving a few bucks, let’s go with a pair of Baofeng UV-5R (at $25.95 per handset rather than the UV-5R V2+ at $33.99).  There are no key differences between the two and I personally like the build quality of the UV-5R anyways.  COST OF RADIOS: $51.90 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-UV-5R-Dual-Radio-Black/dp/B007H4VT7A/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1453146880&sr=8-3&keywords=baofeng+uv)
  2. You will want the programming cable, especially if you plan to program the FRS, GMRS, etc, since programming Baofeng handhelds is a tedious and annoying task.  COST OF DRIVER CD WITH USB CABLE: $6.05 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Baofeng-Programming-Cable-BF-888S-Driver/dp/B008RZJHJU/ref=pd_bxgy_422_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0MXJK50QB5X8DQDRVTHJ)
  3. The mic gives the ability to easily key the radio without having it next your head.  At just $5.27/each, it’s a pretty good deal.  COST OF HAND MICS: $10.52 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Baofeng-BF-S112-Two-Radio-Speaker/dp/B008RZ0EQ0/ref=pd_bxgy_422_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=12KR3323A82GM8SE95R5)
  4. Rather than just get the traditional desktop charger, I would be good to go with a USB charger.  This way you can charge your radio from either a USB charger or a solar charger that has a USB output.  COST OF USB/DESKTOP CHARGER: 19.70 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Cigarette-Splitter-AdapterFit-Walkie-Talkies/dp/B00KDAAEXU/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1453147514&sr=8-4&keywords=BAOFENG+CAR+CHARGER)
  5. Not all USB chargers are created equal.  One of the best is the 40 watt RAVPower.  COST OF USB CHARGER: $16.99 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Charger-RAVPower-Charging-Technology-Motorola/dp/B00OT6YUIY/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1453147775&sr=8-18&keywords=USB+CHARGER)
  6. To address the potential of solar charging, you will want something 14 watts or greater.  A 21 watt Anker charger would be a good choice.  COST OF SOLAR CHARGER: $54.99 (LINK http://www.amazon.com/2-Port-Charger-Anker-PowerPort-iPhone/dp/B012YUJJM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453148990&sr=8-1&keywords=21+watt+solar)
  7. Of course, since you will likely want to be using your Baofengs during the day, you will want to have a means to store energy from your solar panels so you can charge your radios later.  To do this, you need a high capacity charger.  COST OF ANKER PORTABLE CHARGER: $39.99 (LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Compact-20000mAh-Portable-Anker-PowerCore/dp/B00X5RV14Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1453149231&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=high+capacity+portable+charger&psc=1)

So, what’s the bottom line to have a pair of radios with this killer setup?  $200.14!  Now, before you complain and say, that’s a lot of money for a radio setup, you need to go back to that Yaesu I mentioned earlier.  Two Yaesu FT-270’s would be about $300 with no other accessories.  The setup I give you above is still about $100 less than just a pair of Yeasu’s… and that’s amazing.  Plus, with the above setup, you have many items that can be dual-purpose (like the wall USB chargers, the solar charger, and the portable USB charger).  All in all, this should be a practical setup.

Note: I have not individually tested all of the above components, but from my reading I can find no reason why each of these would not be compatible, so… do you own research before you pull the trigger on a buy.

A reader posted these comments, I want to make sure they don’t get buried since he has some great suggestions:

Mark says:

A good list, especially the solar stuff. Some suggestions-

2. Get an FTDI cable. It costs a little more (still only about $20), but will save you lots of headaches. They just work, without drivers or hassle.

http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Genuine-Programming-Cable-BaoFeng/dp/B00HUB0ONK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453193035&sr=8-1&keywords=baofeng+programming+cable+ftdi

3a, maybe? Replace the garbage stock antennas with something else. I recommend the Nagoya NA-771. It’s longer than the stock, adds less than $40 for two (still cheap!) to your total, but will improve your reception tremendously.

http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-NA-771-15-6-Inch-SMA-Female-BaoFeng/dp/B00KC4PWQQ/ref=sr_1_4?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1453193226&sr=1-4&keywords=baofeng+antenna

ePrepper comments here: A good point that many don’t understand is that antenna reception is often linked to its length.  Getting a longer antenna like this whip antenna can make a HUGE difference in performance. Very good point.

3b, maybe? Another antenna- a Slim Jim, or roll-up, j-pole antenna. A cheap (<$20), easy to carry and use mobile/base antenna. Way better reception than even the Nagoya.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BAOFENG-ANTENNA-ROLL-UP-SLIM-JIM-J-POLE-SUPER-PERFORMANCE-USA-WATCH-VIDEO-/201503519073?hash=item2eea8bb161:g:TXMAAOxyHE5RrSct

ePrepper comments here: Another great idea is to get a copper j-pole that you can mount outdoors.  Having a good j-pole can help in a home-base kind of situation.  The j-pole can improve the reception/transmission of one of the radios (which can in turn make a huge difference in the handheld radio in the field [though it doesn’t help 2 field radios communicating with each other]).  A couple roll-ups can be great if you plan to be in the field and want to quickly hang an antenna.

Adds about $70 to your total, but will make everything work much better. And still costs less than a pair of Yaesus!

 

Top 10 SHTF Communications

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This week’s video is another one from Sensible Prepper. In it he talks about the top 10 ways to communicate after the SHTF. This is a very important topic that too many preppers overlook. If a disaster happens while you and your family members are spread out around […]

The post Top 10 SHTF Communications appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Get Your Comms In Order – TAKE ACTION NOW!

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Many theorized, myself included, that when 0 became president for a second term, that he would become a dictator.  Unfortunately, we are seeing the reality of it now.  There is no theorizing or hypothesizing anymore.  When a US president can write law, that president no longer needs martial law.

My fears are shifting.  At one point, I thought the only way that 0 would get power would be through martial law.  I figured we could have a major attack and that would be the excuse to enact ML (that could still happen).  But, now we have a president that can apparently write law.  I am among those that believe this is the last presidency of the United States.  I sure hope I am wrong.

A good friend sent me this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcbeur34Tl0.  Keep in mind that the test of a true prophet is 100% accuracy, so time will tell on that part, but the rest of the video is informative and motivational.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I truly believe we are now at the acceleration point.  I think, again, I hope I am wrong, that 0 will now use the pen to write laws quickly in the coming months.  The government dedicating its attention to the law abiding citizen is now happening.

What if a “prepper” in general is determined unfit mentally?  What if a Christians is deemed unfit?  What if the information gathering on citizens is put into the hands of the ATF?  What if a law is penned that expedites the process of firearm removal from those deemed inadequate to bear arms?

The answers are obvious.

When the right to bear arms is revoked, I, and many of you, will be criminals.  Our rights are under attack and therefore, we are under attack.

You really need to take control of your comms and you need to do it now!

First, be sure to prepare with a thankful spirit.  God has given you breath.  He has given you a brain to think with.  He has given you the time you have right now.  Prepare your heart before all else.  Thank the Almighty first and foremost!

Email:

Set up at least one anonymous email account (probably 2 or three).  As a free service, safe-mail.net (based in Israel) is a good choice.  Protonmail.com (based in Switzerland) is also a good choice but they have a waiting list.  If you are looking for  good privacy that is served behind Norwegian privacy laws, then you can’t beat runbox.com.  We’ve been using Runbox for well over a year and it loads quick (even on Tails/Tor).  It is also the email service we offer at our store at a discount (Shop).

Another great thing to do is share an email account with family.  Keep you messages as drafts, but never send them.  I wondered about the effectiveness of this trick, but the book Spy Craft confirms that this is a difficult method to track (of course, such action needs to be hidden under TOR or other anonymizing methods).

Multi-Level Communication:

You must learn to communicate under the wire.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew how to effectively communicate on different levels at the same time.  For example, your family probably knows when you are speaking sarcastically about something.  If you speak even in a non-sarcastic tone, they will likely understand your sarcasm, even when a bystander doesn’t understand.

Bonhoeffer also used communication tricks to get his message out.  They were simple methods, like putting a slight dot above a character and working backward from the end of a letter to include a simple message (the same can be done with a book).  Today, we can use OTP (one time pads) to communicate short messages.  See article: OTP (One Time Pad) HOWTO From Dirk Rijmenants.  Or, we can use anonymous email with TOR to minimize, or even disappear, from the RADAR (again, this a method that the book Spy Craft confirms).

Communicate a key phrase or code word that your family easily understands.  It needs to be something that you can easily slip into a conversation.  Simple phrases can be questions, like “how’s aunt Barbara?” (when you don’t have an aunt Barbara).  To further communicate on this level, different names can mean different things.  Like “Amanda” can mean location A.  Barbara can mean location B, etc.  Also, Amanda can mean a location like “Atlanta” that begins with A (though this is an example and I highly recommend staying away from Atlanta in a disaster).

 

Stop Taking Your Cellphone Everywhere

I know this is tough, but a simple cellular “ping” can and will reveal your location within 100 feet.  This is a technique that has been used for a long time called “triangulation.”  Your cell phone is constantly reporting the signal it has to various towers.  Only three towers are required to get the cellphone location.

If you can’t help but take your cell phone everywhere you go, then be sure to use a cellphone that has an easily removable battery.  The DuraXT by Kyocera is such a model.  Be sure to check out our Ting banner for a phone plan that gives you better control (also, Ting is a Canadian company and does not ask for your SSN, so setting up an anonymous cell phone is pretty easy).

Get a Ham Radio License

Many of you are already hams I’m sure, but many also are not.  Getting a ham license is a piece of cake these days.  Yes, under new laws it would be easily for ham licenses to be revoked, but the knowledge that being a ham gives you is invaluable.  Hamtestonline.com is the tool I used to study with and I passed my Technician and General Class license on the same day and I only got 2 or 3 questions wrong (then I went on to pass my Morse code test without a hitch, again, same day).

Learn Morse code.  It is really much easier than it sounds.  Don’t be afraid to learn it.  I used this site: http://www.zzickle.com/misc/morsecode.html.  After getting a few characters down, I’d just listen to some sample code, and see if I could write it down.  You can practice here: http://aa9pw.com/morsecode/

Make a Tails Bootable USB

We already have a bunch of articles about Tails and have multiple interviews with PrepperRecon on this topic.  Just search around on the site or just hit our Communications link.

Get a Mumble Server (or other chat system) up and running:

Also, we have information about Mumble on our site (ePrepper HowTo :: Run a Mumble Communications Server).  If you want to be able to communicate under the wire, you need to take control of your own communications infrastructure.

Additionally, you should get your files out of the “cloud” and into your OwnCloud (Part 4-6 of 6: Improving Communications Series, Getting Started with Your Own Server & Take Control of Your Cell Service).

I know this is a ton of information.  Many that started reading this article probably ditched out due to overload.  But, to reiterate my point… the collapse is no longer coming, it is here and it begins with a lawless president.  The trends that are happening now are the same trends that can be seen pre-Nazi Germany.  The warning flags are waving, the lights are flashing, the alarms are going off.  Preparedness cannot wait.  Make preparedness a priority in 2016, you have to!

3 Important Reasons To Join A Survival Group

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Survival groupMost of us don’t realize this but all of us are already in a ‘Survival Group’. It’s called the ‘Human Race’. And it has been trying to survive continuously since the dawn of time.

The trick is to differentiate between a survival ‘Rat Race’, and its dangerous mythology that leads us all astray, and a personal social integration with others that can be more beneficial in emergency bad times than going it alone.  

As children we were told that the tortoise ‘always’ beats the hare in the end. So just go slowly and surely in life and you’ll be okay. Which of course becomes laughable after you ’grow up’ and   discover that ‘speed’ initiative is critical in many successful applications in life. Especially if you want to do maximal gains in the shortest time.

Why, then, do ‘they’ tell us these lies? Because it is how ‘they’  get so rich and powerful while the rest of us snooze and lose. They know that time is more often an enemy than an ally. ‘They’ minimize the competition and seize the opportunity to hedge their bets by telling you to slow down while they, themselves, picked up the pace to really get ahead in the competition. This is aka sheeple mind control.

But anybody who has been into prepping for a while realizes that the best survival tool is your brain. So once you learn the reality of things in life you become better ‘prepared’ to survive. Good preppers cannot lock themselves into a mind prison of abject intransigence and obstinacy.

You’ve all heard the expression that ‘the mind is like a parachute…it does not function well until opened!’ Your friends at Survivopedia noticed that too many of us are in a quandary about bugging out or bugging in. And although most preppers ultimately come to the realization that it’s better to bug out to a pre-determined BOL in bad catastrophic circumstances if you want to minimize your risk of life, their personal situation makes this option unavailable for various reasons.

But after you get over the ‘mythology’ of ‘surviving in place’, the fact is that the difference between bugging in and bugging out is like night and day, no matter which you think is best. And the decision must be made with both the long term emergency dilemma, and the short term concern compared in the final analysis.

But both situations share a potential need for having a group support factor with this being even more critical with bugging in if it becomes a bad, long term situation. Therefore forming or joining an SPG (Survival Prepping Group) should be something to seriously consider for improving your odds of any kind of survival, especially in a major event.

It might be as simple as getting your family and/or close friends interested enough to cooperate and plan for a quick evacuation to a far enough away motel for a local emergency such as a hurricane or a nuclear power plant meltdown if you are on the Easter seaboard coastal areas or an earthquake in California. If you’re alone without extensive training or resources, you might have to try to seek out like-minded prepper persons and go from there? In any event here are important things to consider:

1. Stregth in Numbers

There’s a reason for the timeless aphorism ’misery loves company’. It’s one of the foundational concepts for the proliferation of the species. Our primitive ancestors would never have made it past the first predator beast’s lunch hour if their social structures didn‘t evolve ahead of the basic biological family unit and into an extended tribal or clan paradigm, which would then create a ’community’ where the ‘misery’ was mitigated.

Organizing in mutual harmony is intrinsic to our humanity and social structuring. Belonging to a group of friends or relatives that share the same goals and are committed to helping one another achieve them is far better than trying it all by your lonesome. Especially if you are physically ‘challenged’ in some way as many of our senior patriot preppers are.

However, there’s a dark side to the equation. So-called outside the norm group in a variety of cultures are nothing new. Before modern disaster/end times survival became popular there were some who chose to drop out from the conventional status quo and form their own community mini-cultures which became known as cult groups or ‘retreatists‘.

They found remote property and minimized as much contact with the outside world as possible. Most of these contemporary groups failed due to the psychological problems with misrepresented ideals of the group as a whole which more often than not opposed or contradicted the individual group members’ sensibilities, morals, and emotional content.

It was also very difficult to make the transition from the conveniences of modern society and experience the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ of more ‘primitive’ and solitary life styles. These situations eventually devolved into mini-dictatorships and invariably broke apart.

Therefore any group formation specifically related to emergency prepping and survival must be entered into ‘carefully’ in order to preserve the potential benefits and not create a expanded   problem in the longer run. It must not be allowed to become one of those whack-job anti-g para military groups that the treasonous anti-2/A pundits enjoy vilifying as such to make sure the ’authorities’ take ’interest’ in their activities for future ’reference’ as potential ’domestic’ type terrorists.

In a serious long term survival situation, however, even a small core group as tight as two or three persons with good mutual reliability, compatibility, utility, and more importantly, a viable, rehearsed PLAN to help each other, has a tremendous advantage over going it completely alone.

2. Surviving a Major National Catastrophic Event.

First let’s face the largest differential rationale between bugging out and bugging in.

The decision mainly being determined by how bad it is, or going to be. Although a level 5 super hurricane or an earthquake measuring 8 or 9 on the Richter scale can devastate an entire coastal city almost as bad as a bomb, if you planned in advance to set shelter in place that protected you from the initial force of the storm or quake and you survived it, there would soon be immediate first responders and government help and supplies and good outside support for immediate aid and rebuilding again. So bugging in might have worked in these types of disaster.

However, if something like a large meteor strike, a long overdue pandemic plague, or major EMP or terrorist power grid attack shut down most of the nation’s power grid, collapsing the commodity and resource supply, grinding everything down to a massive swath of death and destruction and effected almost everybody with everything from anarchy to widespread starvation and looting then being in a major city would not be the best place anymore for any ’bugs’ let alone humans.

People will always naturally come together for support and help until there is not enough left for everybody, and no help ever coming again, then it will be every man for himself.  And it will be nothing like you could have imagined in your most frightening nightmares.

Did you know that not only was there cannibalism in many parts of the world when starvation set in even in relatively modern times, but in the Roman empire in its last days in the city of Rome after it collapsed, some of the good, but starving, ‘citizens’ killed and ate their slaves and others?

If you are not bugging out from a major city in a true long terms break down of society, you will not likely make it on your own for very long, no matter how much you have stocked, locked, and loaded… But having a prepared survival group that you can count on would be a much better situation for you when it finally occurred to you that you had made a grave mistake by not bugging out earlier.

3. Facilitating the Bug Out

If you are inclined to be one of those who would prefer to get the hell out of Dodge City to a relatively safe spot in a more rural location at the first sniff of any really dangerous ‘dark clouds forming on the horizon’ because you always can come back if the storm blows over, but you have no reliable family or friends and you are all by your lonesome in the big concrete jungle, living almost a monastic lifestyle from day to day and hand to mouth on a very limited budget and you really don’t even have any friends except for the nosey pigeon hanging around your window sill and the mangy alley cat trying to catch it on occasion, and you don‘t even own a car…then you might be a more prudent survivor if you considered joining or even forming your own prepper group- also of like mindedness- to mutually assist each other in a small group bug out? Remember, if you’re in this situation, you can bet there are others within walking distance of you, likely thinking about this also?

emergency communication

Forming or Joining a Team

Truth be told, if you think you need and want to be in a serious survival group plan, it isn’t something you find in the discount aisle at Walmart. But it’s not that hard to locate or set up if you are willing to do the diligence. You can start with the following:

  1. Do a computer search of ‘prepping/survivalist groups/clubs’ in your city or area. If you google ’prepper communities’ by state you’ll find several which, unfortunately, are closer to the ’groups’ I’ve described above. Many of these are a little more trustworthy as they are of Christian based foundation. And in my state there are even dedicated church groups who have rural ’retreats’ on multiple acre tracts owned by the denomination Co-op that are well stocked and set up for long term ‘end times’ emergency survival for their members. So if you are a loner but attend church you can check with your minister if he knows of any like minded individuals you can associate with?
  1. If you live in a city with no plans for much of anything yet, you can fish around by post a card at your local sporting goods/gun store where sooner or later serious preppers will come through saying something like ’disaster preparedness interested person(s) seeks like minded individuals in the area for mutual beneficial association’. This, of course, has some inherent risks in that there are always those out there that are looking to scam people. So you’d have to be very careful with your screening process. And be very careful with your contact meetings and personal information. The best way for the average person is to simply start up a relative conversation with someone you already know like a family member, neighbor or friend leading into a discussion on ’what would you do if a SHTF situation occurred?’. With today’s current events it would take me about two minutes to re-direct the conversation to ’what would anyone do in that situation’. You’d be surprised at how many of your acquaintances or neighbors would say something like, ’Yeah, I’ve been slowly stocking up for a while now’, which would gain you an opening for you to later inquire as to their opinion on starting a mutually beneficial group?
  1. If you are a senior and pretty much on your own, again, if you have a church community that would be a place to inquire. The other good one is that most areas have local community service senior centers usually for 55 and older which provide everything from discounted daily meals to recreation like card games, field trips, and other services. These become tight knit groups in and of themselves that provide various forms of mutual support. They are a great place to meet people and start a prepper support group. This holiday season week would be a great time to get out and check one of these centers out. They probably even have Christmas and New Years parties.

If you are older and disabled or incapacitated to the point that you can‘t do much of anything physical or don’t even drive, then if you aren’t already being taken care of by someone or in a senior assisted living center, it might be wise to look into that. And if you do, many of the newer centers are better than others. With off grid emergency power and supplies and pretty good primary security. Which would be a better choice.

Epilogue

I’ve noticed that too many of our ‘senior’ patriots seem to have too much trepidation about their personal prepping situations and abilities. While some of the more rigorous physical mechanics of prepping are not for everybody, by no means does this preclude anyone being well prepared just because of their age.

I’ll remind us all that two of the most recent ‘with prejudice’ dispatches of Islamic terrorists were easily accomplished by people in their sixties and seventies. The sixties something security guard at the Art Museum in Texas who quickly and calmly fired and took out two jihadists with his Glock as they exited their vehicle and opened fire with an AK and 9mm carbine on him!

And in Canada the seventy something Sergeant at Arms in their house of parliament was pushing his pencil in his office when a shotgun firing jihadist entered through the building hallway pinning down all around him. It only took the Senior Superman seconds to single handedly engage the attacker in a firefight and take him out with his 9mm pistol! Thus potentially heading off serious carnage because he was heading for the state room where a full congress session was in progress!

Don’t sell yourself short just because you aren’t as strong or nimble as you used to be or use a cane, have a heart condition, or anything else. Survival prepping is NOT only about Rambo style violent activities. Even in a real military combat that’s the ‘job’ of young people aka ’cannon fodder’. And you know who was actually pointing and firing the cannon, don’t you?

You don’t see many, if any, real Army Generals under 40, or humping 100 pound rucks, do you? Not that many of them couldn’t if they had to, but their value is more in expert knowledge and experience and guidance. Unless your survival group is the geriatric ward of the local nursing home many independent persons even in their 80’s and beyond could hold their own if the SHTF in a group team.

Modern tools and tech make it easier for those who are physically disadvantaged to maintain sufficient physical potential to make it when the SHTF. And if you’re that concerned about it, it may be time to include some physical ‘improvement’ toward a healthier lifestyle because I’ve found that one of the main problems with old age limitations is just being out of shape for your age. Start to consider a comprehensive physical rehabilitation program as part of your prepping.

More mature persons also provide a life experienced insight and conditioning to emergencies which balances the ‘shock and awe’ of younger people when it comes to really bad events, because it would be likely that it wasn’t their first rodeo particularly if they’ve accumulated a lot of ’round the block miles on their life odometer.

Why do you think the greatest American Indian warriors were always old people sitting around the campfire drinking firewater and smoking pot? You’d never make it to that blissful point in life if you were stupid. They were respected and obeyed as the council of Elders and Chiefs. Remember this profound fat old bald headed beer bellied red necked pistol packing OTR truck driver aphorism: “Older dudes and dudesses driving around in old pick up trucks, RULE!”

And serious senior preppers also reflect the truth in that country song: They ‘may not be as good as they once were/ But in an emergency, seniors will be as good once–when it counts the most–as they ever were!’

newEMP_2

This article has been written by Mahatma Muhjesbude for Survivopedia.

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OTP (One Time Pad) HOWTO From Dirk Rijmenants

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See the PDF from Dirk Rijmenants here: http://users.telenet.be/d.rijmenants/papers/one_time_pad.pdf

Other links to some of Dirk’s sites:

Though I plan to get a podcast out in the near future regarding OTP (One Time Pads), I thought it would be great to get this PDF from Dirk Rijmenants out there to those that don’t know what an OTP is or how OTPs work.

I find OTP’s incredibly useful, especially in the world of simplified communications.  What if I was stuck with a flip phone and wanted to securely communicate a short message with someone via SMS?  Using an OTP, one could easily encrypt a message of a few words, use the key pad to create an SMS message, then the receiver could likewise decipher the message.

More on this to come, but be sure to check out Dirk’s PDF linked at the top of this post.

Radio Scanners are a Good Intelligence Source for Preppers

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radio scannersI currently have a couple of radio scanners and feel that at least in the early stages of major civil disruptions or natural disaster they can be very useful.  You can listen to local fire, EMS, police and gather information on what it happening around you in real time.  In rapidly changing situations, this can be very helpful.  Imagine a wildfire, listening to the firefighters in real time can let you know if the fire is approaching your home or BOL well before an evacuation notice is announced. If there are riots in you’re area radio scanners can let you know what areas to avoid.

Radio scanners are readily available and are not very expensive.  I hear some people saying that they are not worth the money because many of the police frequency are being encrypted. While this is true in some areas, there are many areas in which a large part of police broadcasts are still in plain language.  In addition to monitoring the police, a scanner covers many other frequencies.  Information can be gathered from fire, ambulance services, public utilities, VHF and UHF ham radios, GMRS, FRS and MURS. Getting the Most from Your Personal Radio, MURS or FRS/GMRS,  MURS Radios a Useful Communication Tool.

Most scanners will scan frequencies between 30 MHz and 900 MHz. . Some scanners will scan up to or beyond 1200 MHz.  There will be some gaps in coverage due to FCC regulations and Federal laws that don’t allow eavesdropping on certain frequencies.  This includes the frequencies used by cell phones.  Occasionally you will encounter older radio scanners that will cover these frequencies.  Be aware that it is a Federal crime to listen in to these frequencies or convert a scanner to monitor them.

If you decide to purchase a scanner, or just need more information you will want to look at the website RadioReferance.com.  Finding the frequencies that you want to monitor in your area is always a bit of a challenge.  Here are several tips to help you, check the internet for police and fire frequencies in your area, find a local radio club they always have good information or talk to a friend who works for a public safety agency.

If you own a smart phone you basically own a police scanner too. By downloading a police scanner app like PoliceStream, and 5-0 Radio Police Scanner, you can turn your phone into a scanner.  There are also sites on the internet that let you listen to police radios in other areas.  Suppose there is a riot in LA and you are worried about family of friends, you can listen to their traffic.

While I understand it is legal to own radio scanners in all 50 states, it is my understanding that in at least five states Indiana, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, and New York, it is a crime to use a mobile one.  You need to check your local laws, they vary from state to state.

Radio scanners can be a good source of information, but you need to get used to listening to them before you have to.  There is a learning curve.

Howard

The post Radio Scanners are a Good Intelligence Source for Preppers appeared first on Preparedness Advice Blog.

HF E Mail System

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The first of the articles pulled from the forum site.

These articles are posted on the forum where they can be discussed but as the forum is not ideal for data retrieval and the articles quickly get lost I am going through the forum and posting any that need to be available on here.

So, […]

Review: SOFT66RTL2 Radio Initial Thoughts and Impressions

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Though I intend to give a full review and setup of the SOFT66RTL2 from http://zao.jp, you’ll need to settle for some initial thoughts and impressions for now.

Image from Zao.jp

This is a RTL-SDR with a built in 50MHz upconverter.  Basically, RTL-SDRs allow you to listen to a wide frequency range from 24MHz up using software and a USB port on a computer.  Using an upconverter allows you to listen the lower frequency ham radio bands (HF) in addition to the VHF and UHF.

With the upconverter on, one can tune to 53MHz and be listening to the 3MHz band, 57MHz would be 7MHz, and so forth.

The product shipped by zao.jp includes the SOFT66RTL2 inside a case for about $40 including shipping (from eBay).

At first, my experience was very frustrating.  I was trying to get the unit working on Ubuntu Linux, but was not receiving much for signals.  Then I tried OS X, still the results were very unimpressive.  Then I tried Windows 7 (the most typical installation) and was finally getting somewhere.  Note: The instructions on the website are pretty poor.

After getting things working on Windows 7, I switched back to OS X and was having better results.  The upconverter seemed to work just fine, but I was hearing a pattern of tones in the background which made me think I was receiving interference from somewhere, but when I disconnected my antenna, the pattern stopped, so it is definitely something being received.  I’ll have to do some more investigative work to determine where it is coming from.

Long story short, I was able to receive LSB (lower side band) and CW (morse code) without any problems.  I was receiving stations many hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away.  You can’t just use any el-cheapo antenna, so I resorted to a slinky antenna (which I also procured on eBay for about $20).  The antenna was only extended to about 15-20 feet and was just laying on the floor (so it wasn’t really an ideal setup, but it was enough to pick up some distant stations).

One thing that troubled me was that I could very easily tune in the 15MHz WWV time/beacon transmission on my small Sony shortwave, yet I couldn’t find it using the SOFT66RTL2 setup.  Other transmission were accurate with regard to frequency and signal strength as compared to my Sony, so I’m not sure why I couldn’t pick up WWV.

Some quick thoughts:

  1. The plastic covers over the ends of the device that protect the antenna connections probably need to be drilled out larger to ensure a good connection from the antenna (I removed them while I was testing [just unscrewed and removed them})
  2. One shouldn’t expect two high of results and remember this is just a $40 setup.  I came from using PowerSDR (Flex Radio) in the past and the HDSDR and other SDR software simply doesn’t compare to the power of better software packages.
  3. A good antenna is not only recommended, it is required.  Remember, this is a small piece of circuitry and getting good results means pulling good signals, so don’t expect much from a cheap shortwave long wire.
  4. Software setup and instructions on the website are poor, but if you get stuck, just follow instructions from other websites and make sure you remember that the upconverter will require you to tune to 50+MHz (53MHz would be 3MHz and so forth)
  5. The switch to the upconverter is hard to switch with the plastic covers on, you can use a pen (this is moot for me as I mostly intend on keeping the upconverter turned on

At forty bucks, this is a pretty good deal, but all these RTL-SDRs require some tweaking to get the most out of them.

Standardisation

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I can’t emphasis enough the benefits of standardisation.

I’ve just bought some new UV5R radios. Slightly different models but they only have a few differences so what difference will that make? Mistake! They may only have a few differences but I can’t program them using the same SW as the old ones. Of course the […]

Communication with others!

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Communication with others!
James Walton “I Am Liberty

Communication with others!I was talking with a woman the other day who i assumed was very left wing. I am always shocked at how similar we all are. The problems become evident when we dont understand how to communicate. This is half the problem in America today. If you have an Obama sticker on your car or watch Fox news you are autocatagorized. We need to brush up on our communication skills. Honest thoughtful communication daily and post apocalypse.

7-20-15 4182240-419036I don’t know about you but when i think about the world after any great happening i imagine great leaders emerging from the wreckage. There will be orators that dust themselves and take the reigns. I want to talk about becoming a leader and being a voice that people want to hear. Remember you want to have a say in your daily life. Speaking well and being informed and measured in your comments allows you to talk to anyone in any situation.

If there is anything i have learned its that people do enjoy direction. They enjoy being led by someone who knows what the hell they are doing. Be that person. I want to talk about being heard tonight. Communication with anyone at anytime. We are coming up on nation changing events in the very near future. Not just elections but the ricochete of 8 yars of pretty ugly policy home and abroad. Its time to gather and speak.
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9 Things You Gotta’ Consider Before Buying Any Off-Grid Land

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Without a doubt, the main things people think of when considering buying rural land for an off-grid property are size, location and cost.

But there are several other steps and factors you’ll need to consider to ascertain if the area is viable for living in and farming, especially in the long term. Going through these guidelines will help you make a better assessment, and spare you from potential problems ahead — especially if you’ve been a city-slicker all your life and are only now transitioning into country living. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it may include items you may not have thought of.

1. Soil condition. Is the soil arable? Too rocky? Too sandy? Clay-like? Contaminated with chemicals from fertilizers used by previous owners? These factors, along with soil acidity and pH, would determine the level of success and challenges you’ll have in growing your food. I would recommend getting a soil test done, and doing so on the specific areas you’re planning a garden.

2. Safety from hazards — natural and man-made. You may wish to steer clear of known earthquake faults, nuclear plants, tornado belts, flood plains, drought-prone areas, and low-lying coastal villages (at risk of hurricanes and tsunamis).

3. Water source. This could be a stream, an underground spring, an existing well shaft or a small creek or pond. An uphill spring is perfect, so you could do a gravity-fed water catchment system. If you’re looking to drill a well, ask the neighbors how deep they were able to tap their well.

These Solar Backup Generators Deliver 4 Times More Power Than Other Models!

Check the water quality, and how land is — and was — used in the surrounding area, not just yours. Is or was there a commercial orchard in the distance? A mining operation? A feedlot? A factory? You don’t want any of their wastes or chemical run-off in your groundwater. Find out about water rights, too. Some states don’t even allow residents to collect rainwater right from their own roof gutters.

4. Accessibility of goods and services. Depending on your and your family’s needs, you’ll need to consider the distance and time it would take for you to get to the nearest town for supplies and hard-to-find service – for anything from automotive repair to computer parts. Probably a few non-negotiables for many folks are a hospital, trauma center, fire station or any kind of emergency response. That would be very important if you or a family member have a medical condition that could need urgent care.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

5. Zoning and building restrictions. Look at land use regulations, covenants and homeowners association rules. Can residents build or dig any structure they want — a straw bale house, a tree house, a pond, some cabins to rent out? Some neighborhoods set a limit on what kind and number of livestock homeowners can keep. While some counties have strict laws, others, especially those in the most remote locations, have virtually none. And not having them could be just as bad. What if the neighbors opened a huge poultry or hog operation in the distance and the smell and the flies start sweeping over to you? If peace and privacy are critical for you, go for residential and strictly non-commercial zones, as you wouldn’t want enterprises, big or small, building structures near you – from even a small, seemingly passive thing as a cell phone tower, to an all-out, invasive industrial park. Are you near a forest reserve or property owned by the government? Make sure property lines are clear and yours is a good distance from them. Look out for companies that do fracking, timber harvesting or mining of any sort. You don’t know if they’d be looking to encroach in your area in the future.

6. Woods. The benefits of having or living near wooded areas are endless: privacy and concealment, a buffer from dust and strong winds, and availability of timber and firewood. The natural habitat would also mean edible wildlife for you and your family.

New Survival Energy Product Makes Every Window A Powerful Solar Charger

Aside from hunting and foraging, the woods could also mean hours of recreation: exploring, trail running, camping and swimming if there’s a nearby pond or river. If you’re purchasing wooded land, find out exactly if you’d be allowed to cut — and how much.

7. Clearing. On the other hand, if you’re going to do some serious homesteading, you’ll need sunny, open spaces for gardening and livestock grazing. Don’t forget areas needed for barns and animal pens, an extra storage shed, garage or workshop, and a compost pile. Budget permitting, you might also consider building a greenhouse and potting shed. Off-grid energy installations like solar panels and wind turbines might also require specific locations besides your roof. And, if you decide to use a compost toilet instead of a septic, look for the most strategic location for an outhouse.

8. Communications. Unless you’re ready to totally unplug and live without phone or Internet connection, check the availability of telecom services. Check cell phone signals in different areas of the property. Not only would you want to remain connected to loved ones and the rest of the world, you might also consider working online by selling goods and services. Find out if there’s more than one service provider, so there’s an alternative if you’re not happy with one.

9. Like-minded neighbors. Whether they be somewhat similar to you in the area of self-sufficiency, farming practices, political views or faith, living next to people who share the same values will make life a lot easier for you. Neighbors can be an important asset and even a resource when living off the grid. They can come to your aid in an emergency, they can share valuable knowledge and skills in all things faming, they can lend tools and equipment you don’t yet have; and they can provide good-old company when things get lonely.

What would you add to our list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

Are Your Ready For Blackouts When The Grid Goes Down? Read More Here.

EMP and the US Militaries Return to Celestial Navigation

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EMPNow I don’t claim to have any special knowledge on what is going to happen in the future.  I will be like the rest of you and just have to wait and see how it unfolds.  However, we can all form conclusions and make plans based on the information that we have access too.  Every day we are bombarded with tons of information, a lot of which is misinformation.  Because of the large volume it is easy to miss articles that may affect us  For instance, just yesterday I saw a news article that got me to wondering  US navy returns to celestial navigation amid fears of computer hacking. In the body of the article, they also indicated that the army is starting a similar program.  Now I understand the dangers of computer hacking, but I also wonder about the threat of EMP.  EMP or hacking could possibly destroy our navigation satellites.  So don’t count on your GPS for survival purposes.

The idea of the military returning to the use of celestial navigation I think is a good idea.   I think it should make us leery of becoming dependent on these same systems.  This type of article makes me wonder, is this just contingency planning or does the government have information on a real threat to these satellites.  So what should our reaction to this article be?

Me, I have always considered EMP as a real threat and have attempted to put our family in the best possible position if this were to occur.  You may want to review some of the recent posts that we have put up on this subject.

Now whether the satellites fail from hacking or EMP it will have a definite effect on this country.  All the GPS systems will fail, including the ones our aircraft depend on.  Our precision guided weapons will cease to function with accuracy.   There is a good chance that our communication satellites would fail at the same time, this could take down many radio, TV and phone systems.  If the government is making plans for this maybe we should pay attention.

Howard

 

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October Skill of the Month: Amateur (Ham) Radio

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ham radio skillWhat is Ham radio?

Ham radio is another name for amateur radio. Hams are required to take training and become licensed before they are full-fledged ham operators.

Like many things, it can be difficult to pin an exact start date on when amateur (ham) radio started but it was in the general vicinity of 1910. By 1912, it was a popular enough that Congress approved the Radio Act of 1912 to regulate it. Ham radios were limited to the bandwidth around 200 megahertz.

At the time, amateur radio was believed to be worthless because it only transmitted short distances. The restriction to 200 megahertz was expected to be the death knell for amateur enthusiasts. Instead, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) was formed in 1914. This and other technological advances (notably the vacuum tube) allowed messages to be sent much longer distances – even to the moon!

How can it be useful?

Amateur radio is an alternative form of communication for entertainment, information, and assistance in disasters. I highly recommend it for preppers, especially for those who work long distances from home. The husband of one friend always has his handheld radio with him whenever he goes on business trips. His wife carries one in her purse, and they are ready to communicate, anywhere, any time.

It’s also a fun family activity, especially as you begin reaching out and meeting people from all over the country, the world, and even outer space! Yes, you can pick up on conversations from the guys and gals on the International Space Station! Some hams take great pride in collecting Q cards, or QSL cards, that confirm conversations and contacts with other hams. Our instructor showed off his collection of Q cards with a big grin on his face, and no wonder. They came from all over the world, including a few obscure islands in the Pacific.

Kids, especially, would get a huge kick out of collecting Q cards, and what a great way for them to learn geography!

During disasters, hams are often the first to be up and running, transmitting vital messages to emergency personnel.

When disaster strikes, ham networks spring into action. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service.

“Ham radio operators to the rescue after Katrina” NBC News

Salvation Army has its own ham radio division to assist in disasters. If you want to do volunteer work, this is a great way to combine service work with a hobby you enjoy.

What are the requirements for a license

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates ham radio operators, as the Communications Act of 1934 requires. There are three classes of licenses – General, Technician, and Extra (or Amateur Extra, but usually shortened to simply Extra). Each one has a more involved test than the previous one, requiring more knowledge and skills, and allows those who pass access to a more of the radio spectrum available for ham operators. Licenses are good for ten years.

Generally speaking, prospective hams will take a class, do some reviews and practice tests, then take the exam. Knowledge of Morse Code was previously required for a ham license but is not required now.

When my husband and I decided to become hams, we found a class through the ARRL website. To be honest, a lot of the technical stuff was over my head. My husband had been an electrician, so all the talk of wavelengths, frequencies, and transceivers were already part of his knowledge base. For me, it became a matter of rote memorization to pass the test.

After some diligent study, I passed the test with only 1 error. Much of the test consisted of questions about ham radio protocol and rules, such as:

What is the grace period following the expiration of an amateur license within which the license may be renewed?

  1. Two years
  2. Three years
  3. Five years
  4. Ten years

Now, I can learn that kind of stuff and retain it. “Where is an RF preamplifier installed?”, not so much.

I encourage you to not be afraid of the test. Taking a class isn’t required, and in my case, I’m not sure it helped much, since I ended up doing most of my studying using the various practice tests and study guides online. I’m more of a hands-on learner, so I needed to get my hands on an actual radio and start monkeying around with it. Sitting around just talking about transmitters and modulation wasn’t of much help to me.

You can download practice tests here, or use the resources on this page. If you have a smart phone, I highly recommend downloading the practice tests and using those to help study. Here’s a link to the Android app and one for the iPhone app.

What do you need to get started?

Not very much. Sign up to take a class to learn the skills. Pass the test and wait to receive your license and call sign. Buy a radio to practice with. Be aware that some cheaper models may have the ability to receive but not send. The transceiver listed below is a good starter model that can both send and receive.

Be sure to check out eBay and Craigslist. When I was writing this article and did a quick check on my local Craigslist, there were numerous listings for amplifiers, receivers, and even a 50 foot antenna tower for just $600.

Probably the cheapest hand held radio out there is the Baofeng, popular among novices, despised by veteran hams! If you want something, anything, to just get started and get a feel for how ham works, this is a good starting place for 60 bucks or so.

What I found is that most all hams are fanatical in their devotion to their hobby. When I was researching my book, Survival Mom, I contacted 2 or 3 gentlemen who proceeded to talk my ear off about everything related to ham radio! I learned a lot and their enthusiasm was contagious.

Even before you take the class or get your license, consider attending a local ham radio meeting or one of their fun events, such as their Hamfest. (ARRL calendar of events can be found here.) You will be most welcome, have your questions answered, and connect with like minded people living near you. It’s highly likely that some will even be survival/prepper minded — double bonus!

More resources for AMATEUR RADIO:

ham radio for beginners

Tribal Think

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The following article has been contributed by Michael Lemieux, a combat vet and former Special Forces Intelligence Analyst (please see below the article for a full bio)

Prepping is More Than Just Amassing Stuff

survival-gear
Preparing for the unexpected (prepping) is more than just amassing stuff. It is also about understanding the dynamics and fluidity of what will/may happen in a given scenario. As I have said, and heard others say, “Every plan works great up to your engagement with the enemy.” Unfortunately the adversary, man or nature, is not playing by your plan book or your expectations of how they should behave and the plan will divert very quickly.

Most of us try to imagine what could happen in our locality and then extrapolate from that what things we would need and what training we lack and take appropriate steps to mitigate those shortfalls.

But are we thinking beyond our own “things?”

Face it; there are few families that can provide a competent medic, medical supplies for physical and dental requirements, armory, ammunition, food supplies, power equipment, 24 hour guard/security, and livestock management, gardening/farming and so on. For most of us just managing an inventory is a massive undertaking that requires constant vigilance.

I haven’t even mentioned the mountains of reference material, tools, equipment (both hand and powered), and training required individually and as a family. Just the art of silent communication, arm and hand signals, or some other communication system to facilitate working as a team is nearly extinct outside of combat units.

In a grid down or “without rule of law” (WROL) scenario, how well would you be able to defend what you have accumulated? How many people are in your household, do you plan to “bug out” to a retreat or looking to “bug in” and hunker down at home, you have to be able to defend your property in either case 24/7.

A Potential Real-World Example

Some will say they live in a quiet neighborhood with good people and they would not be a threat. Perhaps, but let’s try this scenario:

A massive solar event has caused a global power outage; it will be months before power is restored. Weeks go by with virtually no outside help and food is running scarce.

Gangs and groups of people have started roaming further and further outside their own areas looking for food, and whatever else they can find.

Many of your neighbors know that you were a prepper and you probably have food in your house. Even if you have been quite about your prepping they may have noticed some of the things you have been doing and suspect you are “one of them.”

Two weeks into the disaster a neighbor is looking at his weakened family and crying children who are hungry and literally starving to death in front of him. And now that the water is no longer flowing and all their supplies have run out, he is becoming desperate to keep his family alive.

He has the family shotgun at his side and he will take it with him when he goes to your house to ask for help. But he has made up his mind; he will feed his family whether you agree to help him or not.

So, in this scenario, do you agree to help? How much? How often? Let’s say you agree to give a little food, water, and medicine. Now you have confirmed you have supplies. He will be back again. What if one of the other neighbors sees you giving food to him? Will they want some too?

You can see how this can quickly escalate. And these are not even the “bad guys.”

So how do you defend your home? How many ways can someone enter your house? Doors and windows, regardless of what floor they are on, are all easy ways to enter a home. Can you cover all of them with just your family and for how long? And if you have security running all the time how can you get anything else done. We all know that we cannot be at a heighten state of security awareness while trying to cook dinner or work chores that must be done.

The average family of 5 may consist of a husband and wife and 3 children. My family, for instance, is my wife and I and two sons and a daughter. If we have two people on “guard duty” or lookout the most we could effectively cover is two sides of the building. Yes we could roam back and forth to each cover two sides. But in doing so we are also telegraphing that we have stuff here we are guarding and drawing more attention. And human nature always kicks in with a nature break every few hours, you have to sleep, you have to eat and we all need down time to break the tension.

You can quickly see that in a 24/7 self-protection scenario things could get very taxing very quick.

I have heard others say they could build a safe room with all their supplies and no one can get in. Really? How long would your safe room/bunker last with the house burning down around you sucking the life giving oxygen from the room. Flames would not need to touch you but the lack of air would have the same effect. Which brings up the next weakness of a “bunkered” situation – even if you bunker is below ground with a bomb proof door you still need to swap air with the outside and all it takes is a green brush fire lit under you fresh air intake and your bunker is now a smoke filled tomb.

Don’t get me wrong I love a good bunker but ones with secondary and preferably tertiary egress routes leading to concealed exits beyond the immediate vicinity of what is going on topside. The problem with these are that they are very, very expensive, and not going to happen if your renting or living in an apartment and in most cities if you try to dig a hole in your own yard the city code enforcement officer is there asking to see permits and plans that must first be approved.

The Importance of a Tribe

So in the real world where you and I live we have to rely on one another. A trusted group of friends and acquaintances that can make up your tribe can and most likely will be the difference between life and death.

Some of your tribe members may not even know they are part of your tribe; they are your intelligence gathering folks, bartering partners, and possibly alternative transportation needs. They may be a neighbor that works at the police department or other city department that can feed information as to what the city is hearing outside the neighborhood.

Communication

Get a ham radio and get licensed; during times of disaster they are sometimes the only ones that have up to date information. Make friends on air in the four cardinal directions, write down their call signs and when the flag goes up start calling and find out what is happening. Many times, like the move of weather across the landscape, you may be able to get a warning of trouble before it arrives.

Don’t overlook local hams either; yes they are close but if two cities to the north hams are telling of bad guys coming south and you have a ham friend to the north of the city you live in you can get updates of movements that can directly affect your planning and decision making.

Get Comfortable Now

You will also need to build a tribe that is personal; I mean sleep in the same room, brush your teeth and pee in the same toilet personal.

4-5 families can group together to fortify a single family home with a decent odds of survival. But you have to start now, get together weekly, assign tasks and responsibilities, train together, plan together, plan down to actual sleep arraignments, and get to know one another like family.

With additional people come additional requirements; increased meal requirements, waste disposal, water usage, medical requirements, etc. But the tribe also comes with a force of arms and the deterrence of multiple eyes and ears holding multiple firearms. This is much more of a deterrence than mom and dad and a few kids asking bad guys to leave them alone.

A Contingency Plan

Though we don’t like to think about it; our best laid plans may not work out, so we must have a contingency.

One contingency may be to fall back to one of the other tribe member’s house (if reasonable) and set up a secondary site. Have some supplies hidden away for just such a contingency and live to fight another day. Alternatively, establish a bug out location that you can pre-stash supplies and tents, etc. to go to if you must abandon your primary spot. Abandoning a losing battle to save the lives of your loved ones is better than dying to hold on to the things you may have.

It is always advisable to have GOOD bags (Get Out Of Dodge) that have food, water, clothes, emergency equipment, small tent, sleeping bag, etc. for each member. If the vehicle is still running, great, if not, each member should be able to pack their own gear. Pre-stage as much as possible and update often to be sure you are ready. After the emergency hits is not the time to start.

No Man is an Island

desert-islandWe have all heard the adage that no man is an island – this is never as true as when you are trying to survive a disaster and especially when you are caring for loved ones who cannot defend themselves.

I have over 20 years of military experience; I have been to more third world countries than I care to count. I have seen the ugliness that is war, have been shot at, and have shot at others trying to kill me and my brothers in arms. I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is no animal more fierce and more inhumane than a ruthless enemy of the human species when they think there is no law or power to stop them.

The most passive and meek gentlemen can turn vicious and deadly when faced with starvation of his wife and especially his children.

Yet we must retain our humanity in such situations and help where we can with the understanding that we can only share our excess and that any attack on us would be met with deadly force. In time that generosity may prove to create an ally that provides you intelligence or skills which can save your life.

Gear and supplies are important, but they’re not enough. It’s a community, your tribe, that will make all the difference when your family’s life is in the balance.

Michael LeMieux was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1956 and graduated from Weber State University in Utah with a degree in Computer Science. He served in both the US Navy and US Army (Active duty and National Guard) and trained in multiple intelligence disciplines and was a qualified paratrooper. He served with the 19th Special Forces Group, while in the National Guard, as a Special Forces tactical intelligence analyst. He served tours in Kuwait and Afghanistan where he received the Purple Heart for injuries received in combat.

Mr. LeMieux left military duty at the end of 2005 after being medically discharged with over 19 years of combined military experience. He currently works as an intelligence contractor to the US government and owns a small Firearms Repair business called Raven Head Arms.

He has traveled around the world living in 14 States of the Union including Hawaii, and visited (for various lengths of time) in Spain, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea, Scotland, Pakistan, Mauritius, Somalia, Diego Garcia, Australia, Philippines, England, Italy, Germany, and Puerto Rico.

Michael now lives in Nebraska with his wife, two of his three children, and grandchild. His hobbies include shooting, wood-working, writing, amateur inventor and scuba diving when he can find the time.

Six Tips For When Communication And Information Go Silent

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radioInstant communication. If you are like me, you have become used to it, actually expect it. You have instant communication with your family and friends not just through phone calls, but email and text messages. In addition to that, if you are like most, you also communicate instantly what you are having for lunch or […]

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SHTF Communications: How To Figure Out What Is Going On

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SHTF Communications OptionsDo You Know What Your SHTF Communication Options Are?

Preparing for SHTF means more than just stockpiling food.

Getting prepared also means being able to communicate with others. Being able to send and receive critical news and knowledge about what’s going.

Even if you are literally “in the dark” it doesn’t mean your SHTF communications have to be.

Having a guaranteed way of communicating with others in the worst of times is an essential prepper responsibility.

However, there is not just one single method for SHTF communications.  There are actually several options to consider.

Some better than others so let’s get started.

Cell Phone Survival Communications

Let’s Start With Cell Phones

Almost everybody today has a cell phone that can make calls and send text messages. And they are the best option for limited event emergencies.

If you get in a car wreck, a cell phone works quickly to call for help. If someone is having a heart attack a cell phone can get medical professionals notified immediately.

Yet, they are just about the worst option for anything larger in scope. Anybody who has been in a mass disaster situation can attest to the frustration of trying to make a cell phone call. They probably discovered that the network they are so used to using is completely overloaded and jammed. No outgoing calls, no incoming calls. Nothing.

Even at non-emergency events such as popular college football games you’ll notice jammed cell phone networks locally. This is especially true since nearly all college-aged adults are heavy users of cell phones, these types of cell phone network jams are likely to get worse and more frequent in the future.

A network jam is a common problem and is the cell phone’s Achilles heel. Making it the absolute worst communication option for SHTF. Hell, even smoke signals will be more reliable than cell phones when TSHTF.

The one saving grace for cell phones is the text messaging option. When a mass emergency occurs and cell towers are jammed, try using text. The use of text messaging has proven to be slightly less affected by an emergency situation.

During Hurricane Katrina, text messaging (while not instant) did continue to get through.  So hey, it’s worth a shot.

Just don’t make a cell phone your only option.

Walkie Talkie Radios

What about Hand Held Walkie Talkies?

Walkie talkies, also known as GMRS/FRS radios, are great for short range SHTF communications. They work best for a small individual group like your survival coalition. They don’t work for mass communication or long range communications.

It’s an ideal option for a family wanting to stay in contact as they move around a small property or local area. Just be aware, depending upon the model and manufacturer you’ll get different ranges. So make sure you test their range before you need them so you understand your walkie talkies range limitations.

Most specified ranges are for flat open land areas. Trees, hill and buildings tend to diminish the overall range. So just keep this in mind if you choose walkie talkies as your local SHTF communication device.

HAM Radio

Is HAM Radio Good For SHTF Communications?

HAM radio was one of the most popular communication devices over large distances in the middle of the 20th century.

However, as phone networks improved, the cost of long distance and international calls grew cheaper. So the popularity of HAM radio dwindled for the masses. But, HAM survival radio perfect for survival purposes.

HAM radio networks are both reliable and can communicate over long distances. They are also not dependent on cell phone towers. The only real drawbacks to HAM radio are the equipment costs and the training necessary to learn how to use it.

If you intend to broadcast (and not just listen) then you will need to get an official license.

To operate HAM survival radio equipment legally, an operator must obtain a license. This includes passing a test and paying a small fee.

However, a license is not required to purchase, own and just listen in.  Which can still be extremely valuable in most any survival SHTF communications scenario.

Plus, getting a small setup and a license is easy. So don’t let it stop you from becoming a licensed operator.

CBRadio

Is CB Radio a Viable SHTF Communications Option?

Citizens Band radio was one of the most popular ways of keeping in contact with people in the 1970s and 80s. However, this form of radio communication dropped in popularity in the late 20th century.

CB Radio advantages include the greater range vs walkie talkies. However, a CB radio is generally located in a single location within a property. Within a built up area, the use of CB radio could be affected by larger buildings and more interference.

Unlike Ham radio operators, a CB operator does not need to be licensed or pass any tests to take to the airwaves.

Hand Crank Radio

Should I Invest in Listen Only Devices?

A major problem when a disaster strikes is the loss of power. For all the devices we have discussed thus far, all of them require electrical or battery power to operate. So you’ll need to figure out alternative or backup power system to operate these for longer periods of time when SHTF.

That’s why I suggest you invest in a listen only survival radio device. Not only are they low cost, you can get one with a hand crank to be able to easily keep it powered. Just crank and listen. Simple.

These shortwave listen only radios can provide an invaluable link to SHTF news. It can help keep you up to date on the current situation for any major disaster.

Another listen-only option to consider is the use of a police scanner. These allow you to obtain information that could be life-saving during an SHTF event.

This is a unique option as important news will be broadcast over analog police frequencies. But, many law organizations are moving to digital technologies. So over time this option will become less effective.

Also, note that a scanner must be programmed in advance. You want to make sure you are tuned into the right channels to gain the right emergency news.

Action Plan

Your SHTF Communications Action Plan

You should make a plan for all 3: Listen, Local, and Long. These are the 3 communication levels you should strive for your SHTF communications. This means a 3 pronged approach.

1 – Listen Only

First, if you don’t already own a small portable hand crank survival radio, don’t you think it’s time?Here’s good one. Buy it now.Hand Crank Radio

Here’s the one I own.

It’s small and light-weight (so it will fit in your Bug Out Bag), plus it doesn’t require batteries.

This Small Hand Crank Radio Is Item #74 Of My #104 Item Bug Out Checklist.  Click Here To Snag Your FREE Copy Of It.

Done? Good, you now have your electrical independent SHTF listen only communication taken care of. Congrats.

2 – Local Communication

Second is local communication. If you have a local survival coalition (and you should) then you need every member to have a walkie talkie. Now your coalition just got 10 times stronger as you can communicate so much better and faster when SHTF.

3 – Long Range Communication

Finally you should investigate owning and operating a HAM radio. Here’s a good one to get you started and here’s a website to learn more about getting a license.

For a true SHTF event, you’ll want to be able to reach out over longer distances to communicate with other survivalists and preppers.

Good SHTF communications will be huge difference maker in survival. The ability to listen, communicate locally, and over long distances is key to your long-term success.

Don’t underestimate this advantage and don’t wait until its too late.

SHTF Communication Device Bundle

Etón NFR160WXR Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger (Red)
(Read Reviews)

$35.00

BaoFeng BF-888S Two Way Radio (Pack of 6 with Customized Package)
(Read Reviews)

$249.99

BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8W High Power – BaoFeng’s Best TRI-POWER (1, 4, 8 Watt) (USA Warranty) Dual-Band 136-174/400-520Mhz (VHF/UHF) Ham Two-way Radio – With Large Battery, High Gain Antenna, Earpiece, Charger, and More
(Read Reviews)

$94.99

Price Last Updated: 11:07pm, 2nd September 2015 More Info

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Photo Credits: Cell / Walkie / CB

The post SHTF Communications: How To Figure Out What Is Going On appeared first on Skilled Survival.

How To: Burner Phone

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Chances are, you’ve probably seen a TV or movie where a Jack Bauer-type character, on the run from big bad evil, uses cheap throw away phones to communicate unnoticed.

Commonly known as a burner phone, a backup, essentially disposable phone isn’t only useful for secret agents and criminals. There are a long list of reasons why having a spare phone with a different phone number might come in handy — lose/break your primary cell phone, selling something via Craig’s List, traveling and don’t want to risk your $900 smart phone, and so on.

Commo is your lifeline, so you want to do what you can to protect it.

So–how to set up a burner phone? It’s actually very easy and 100% legitimate and legal.

Disclaimer: For lawful and responsible uses only While you can get a bit of anonymity and privacy with a ‘burner’ phone like this, don’t do anything dumb, offensive or illegal.

You’ll need two things:

  1. An unlocked GSM cell phone
  2. Ready SIM Card

The Cell Phone
The phone needs to be a GSM phone (AT&T and T-Mobile run GSM networks, Sprint and Verizon run CDMA and will not work), and it needs to be unlocked.

You can buy very basic, 100% unlocked and ready-to-go cell phones for around $20.

Shown here is a BLU Tank II, which I chose for a variety of reasons:

  • Big battery (30 day stand by) 
  • Charges via Micro-USB versus some lame proprietary cable
  • Supposedly more rugged build
  • Has an AM/FM radio built in…that actually works!
  • Unlocked out of the box – not locked to any carrier
  • It cost 20 friggin’ dollars for a functional cell phone

Yep, this phone is pretty bare bones…like stepping back a decade in cell phone technology. But, it makes phone calls and actually has surprisingly good voice quality. BLU has a bunch of other cell phones in the budget price range if you’d like a different flavor.

You may have an old phone lying around that you want to use for this purpose. You’ll need to make sure that it’s unlocked, which can often be a frustrating process…Google up your carrier and the phone model for instructions. Note that if you’re concerned about Big Brother privacy, your old phone is likely “dirty” and could be traced back to you.

For me, dropping $20 for a fresh phone and zero headaches was more than worth it.

The Ready SIM Card
Now, if you only want to be able to call 911, you do not need a SIM card. If you do want to be able to make phone calls, you’ll need a SIM card. There are lots of pre-paid phone plans on the market, but the vast majority of them make you register with the carrier, use a credit card, and otherwise associate your name and personal info all over the number.

Ready SIM doesn’t make you go through all that hassle. They come in a credit card sized card with a pop-out SIM card.

Remove the SIM from the card. Pop it into your phone.

The Tank II has dual SIM capability, which means it can use two SIM cards at the same time. You can see the SIM card here – it’s the white thing just above the phone’s battery.

Now you’re ready to activate the SIM card. Text your zip code to 7850. A few minutes later, you get a text message back.

This gives you your new local phone number – you are ready to go with unlimited voice and texts. You can set up voice mail and many plans come with data, too – if you want that.

That’s it. No hassle. Your privacy is kept intact and you’ve got yourself a local phone number. In this day and age, where it seems like you’ve got to give out your social if you want to buy a pair of socks, it’s weirdly simple.

After I activated my SIM card, the phone found the T-Mobile network without issue. Ready SIM buys / piggybacks bandwidth on other carriers networks–most likely AT&T or T-Mobile. The few test calls that I made were flawless.

Pretty cool.

There are different time allotments of cards available – from 3 days to 30 days. For a cheap throwaway phone and number, the 3 day or 7 day are probably your best bet–$15 and $20 respectively.

As far as I can tell, there’s no expiration for the SIM card until you activate it–so you can stash it away in your bag for a year or two until it’s needed. Once activated, you have the allotted time period to use it up.

If you are using a more recent phone, you may need to cut down the SIM card to a smaller (mini or micro-SIM) size. There are inexpensive cutting tools for doing exactly this.

You also don’t need to use a Ready SIM with a throwaway backup phone. You can use it in your every day phone, swapping out your regular SIM card if you want to avoid using your regular cell number to call up for a Craig’s List ad or something.

Recap

  • Cheap phone – $20
  • Ready SIM 3-day card – $15
  • Total: $35
Pretty affordable way to have a back up phone with an anonymous phone number. 
Charge up the battery, take some measures to protect the phone – plastic bag it and the battery separately – and store with the Ready SIM. Memorize some important phone numbers. Done. 
Weight is negligible, utility is exceptional.