How to explain to your friends and family what a Prepper is without sounding nuts!

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Hello, my friend and welcome back!  I know we have all had those awkward conversations with close friends or family members and sometimes it can be like explaining why you believe in God.  In…

The post How to explain to your friends and family what a Prepper is without sounding nuts! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Reload: Cyber attack, what you don’t know could get you killed!

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When most people think of a cyber-attack, they think of someone stealing data or something to that effect. The truth could not be farther from the truth. In today’s post, we are going to…

The post Reload: Cyber attack, what you don’t know could get you killed! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

“THANKS, OBAMA!” THE 44TH PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SPACE WEATHER

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You’ve probably heard of something called a coronal mass ejection (CME), otherwise known as a massive solar flare, and you probably know it could be very bad for the United States if the we happened to be facing the sun when it impacts earth. A large CME has the potential to have devastating impacts on everything from our global positioning systems (GPS), satellite operations, space operations, aviation and even our power grids, knocking them offline in an instant and destroying critical power grid infrastructure. A CME is one of several extra-terrestrial events that could possibly impact earth that are collectively referred to as space weather. Although much less likely, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) can produce the same impacts, most commonly seen as a result of a nuclear explosion. In a world where international terrorism is a real threat, the possibility of an EMP weapon being used against the United States is a real concern. Experts agree that a direct impact from a large CME or a successful EMP attack is an existential threat to the United States that could instantly bring an end to our modern civilization.

 

A silhouette of the New Jersey.

 

On October 13, 2016, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order — Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events that outlined the country’s contingency plan in the event such weather events lead to significant disruption to systems like the electrical power grid, satellite operations or aviation, stating “It is the policy of the United States to prepare for space weather events to minimize the extent of economic loss and human hardship.”

 

 

With this EO, President Obama ordered that the federal government takes steps insure that the national infrastructure is secure in the event of a space weather event. The National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan ( PDF ) was announced a few days later in conjunction with President Obama’s executive order, along with a PDF of The Implementation of the National Space Weather Action plan, complete with a White House official summary. The official pages aren’t up on WhiteHouse.gov, but here is the latest information I could find on those too.

 

 

After years of Congress knowing about the problem and failing to take action, I was pleased to learn that the President did what he could through the executive office to try and protect the critical infrastructure of our nation.  However it is still up to Congress to set aside the funds to follow through and take action in support of the specifics laid out in this order.

 

So what does this mean for me and every one of you concerned about national security and the protection of our extremely fragile power grid infrastructure? The phrase “Within 120 days of the date of this order…” is used repeatedly in this executive order. If you take a look at the calendar, we are at that point right now. I’ve read for years about how everyone knows this is a threat, yet no one is willing to take action. Well, the former President did what he could do in response to a lack of action by Congress and now it’s our turn. Call your United States Representatives and your United States Senators and ask them to take action on President Obama’s executive order to coordinate a national response and strengthen our national power grids against the possible catastrophic impacts of a massive CME or electromagnetic pulse attack. Find your US Representatives and your US Senators and urge them to take action on this very important initiative today.

 

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Part 3: Creating your own Emergency Communications Center for your Bug Out Location.

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Hello my friend and welcome back!  Today we have the final part of this 3 part series. The truth is that when SHTF hits, most people are going to be completely in the dark…

The post Part 3: Creating your own Emergency Communications Center for your Bug Out Location. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Part 2: Creating your own Emergency Communications Center for your Bug Out Location.

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Hello my friend and welcome back! In part 2 of this post, we are going to look at camp communications, as well as what frequencies and websites you will want to monitor.  Grab a…

The post Part 2: Creating your own Emergency Communications Center for your Bug Out Location. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Part 1: Creating your own Emergency Communications Center for your Bug Out Location.

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Hello, my friend and welcome back! No matter whether you are bugging in or bugging out, you need to have an Emergency Communications area in your shelter.  I think most people realize the need…

The post Part 1: Creating your own Emergency Communications Center for your Bug Out Location. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

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.

SurvivalRing Radio – 1st Live 3 hour call-in Talk show this Friday

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My good friend and radio show cohost James “Doctor Prepper” Stevens has retired from the Critical Preparedness Resources Talk Radio show as of last Friday. He is moving on to other consulting ventures, but will occasionally drop in to the new show taking moving into his time slot, when he has the time. The last […]

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.

Why Preppers Should learn to code Python (and E-book Learn Python review)

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#python Many preppers focus on old skills like bushcraft and homesteading, but don’t forget to realize that we also live in a tachnology filled world. Having the ability to code can come in handy. Python Read More …

The post Why Preppers Should learn to code Python (and E-book Learn Python review) appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

Faraday Cell Phone Bag for Information Security

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#rmsidtheft In earlier videos on DIY faraday cages I used cell phones to show that the homemade bags did prevent the EM radiation from penetrating.  I was not doing it to show how to protect Read More …

The post Faraday Cell Phone Bag for Information Security appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

Digital Comms: Communicating even when you can’t hear!

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Hello my friend and welcome back!  Today we’re going to be talking about using digital radio communications to hide your radio traffic in the background noise.  It’s an interesting concept and one it would…

The post Digital Comms: Communicating even when you can’t hear! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Modern Survival Blog Surpasses 30 Million Visitors

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I recently happened to check our ‘Google Analytics’ statistics to discover that ModernSurvivalBlog.com has just passed the 30 million visitor mark. Wow… Thanks to you and all those who have happened across this site by way of relevant internet searches, links from others, etc., we’ve crossed a significant milestone. While it’s just a number, it’s […]

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

Can’t Charge Your Cell Phone

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWYt8S8xHtY/embedyt] See larger image Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger (3rd Generation, Premium Aluminum Power Bank) One of the Most Compact External Batteries, Uses High-Quality Panasonic Cells ANKER: Amazon’s #1 Charging Brand • The highest average review rating of any charging brand.• One in three chargers sold on Amazon is from us.• Join the 10 million+ satisfied customers powered by Anker. Astro mini Portable Charger A charging station in the palm of your hand. PowerIQ Detects your device. Delivers the fastest charge. Exclusive to Anker, PowerIQ amp-adjustment technology intelligently identifies your device to deliver its fastest possible charge. High

The post Can’t Charge Your Cell Phone appeared first on Dave’s Homestead.

The Four Essential Steps to Rebuilding Civilization

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ruined cityPreppers spend a lot of time and energy figuring out what they need to do to protect themselves and their families in a wide variety of situations. However, their preps usually have more to do with basic sustenance than they do with prosperity. This is by necessity of course, since when disaster strikes, mere survival is often the best any of us could hope for.

But if we want to really thrive after a major disaster (and in this case I mean a truly cataclysmic disaster that throws us into a new dark age), hunkering down in our homes with weapons and freeze-dried food isn’t going to cut it in the long run. At some point after the dust settles, we’re going to have to come out of our bunkers and start rebuilding the kind of civilization that we want our children to grow up in.

Which, when you think about it, is an incredibly daunting task. A civilization that could provide even a fraction of the amenities that we have now, would rely upon millions of people carrying out thousands of unique services, any of which can derail civilization to some degree if they’re not fulfilled. And when you think about it that way, it almost seems impossible. Where do you even begin?

The truth is, that while civilization depends on everyone carrying out countless (and often thankless) jobs, there are a few core pillars of civilization that are more important than anything else. If after a disaster, these tasks are taken care of, everything else will eventually fall into place. Once it’s safe enough for you and your family to start engaging with what’s left of your community, these are the problems that will need to be solved first:

Re-establishing Order

As much we preppers like to criticize the government, we all know that if there isn’t some kind of system that punishes people who murder and steal, then we don’t have a civilization. Nothing will be rebuilt if people don’t feel safe enough to leave their homes.

After any kind of collapse however, there is a brief period of time where just about anyone could come to power, including people who have no business telling the rest of us what to do. You see this all the time in developing nations, where bandits, warlords, and drug cartels are often the only form of authority for some communities. The actions taken by you and your community after the collapse, will determine whether or not you will live under criminals, or live under a system that respects your rights, protects your property, and appropriately engages with neighboring communities.

Rebuilding Communication Networks

A civilization is only as advanced as its mode of communication. If after the collapse, the only way to send a message is by written letters delivered on horseback, then your community will have all the luxuries of an 18th century village. But if you can establish some kind of electronic communication, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Obviously, the survivors of the collapse won’t have the resources or know-how to get the internet up and running again. Instead, ham radio operators will likely be the best candidates for rebuilding global communications. Even though these radios can’t send or receive signals globally, they still have a range of dozens of miles, and sometimes hundreds of miles in perfect conditions. A network of these operators working together, could help small isolated communities relay messages across any given continent.

Opening Transportation Routes

It’s been pointed out before that once the trucks stop delivering goods, civilization will grind to a halt. One of the first orders of business for any fledgling survivors, will be reopening and repairing transportation channels, so that goods can once again reach their homes. This may require the removal of abandoned cars from crumbling roadways, or if nearby bridges have collapsed, survivors may have to construct pontoons or makeshift cable ferry’s to transport goods until the bridges are rebuilt.

Producing Trade Goods

And finally, any community that wants to thrive after the collapse will have to produce some kind of tangible good or useful service that the world around them needs. If your community can make something that other communities need, it will be on the fast track to full recovery after the collapse, because then you’ll be able trade on a wider market and attain desperately needed supplies and labor for rebuilding civilization.

It could be something as simple as producing a surplus of food, or reopening a mine that went out of commission when everything fell apart. Communities that can’t produce something that the global economy needs, will be mired in poverty for years, and may resort to unsavory practices to survive. So if you’re thinking about moving to a rural area that will be safe from the chaos of a social collapse, take a good hard look at the local economy, and make sure that community produces something tangible that the world needs.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Preparing your survival compound for SHTF and things you need to consider. Part 1

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Hello my friend and welcome back to today’s post.  Today we are going to look at preparing your Survival compound for SHTF and things you need to consider.  It is part one of a…

The post Preparing your survival compound for SHTF and things you need to consider. Part 1 appeared first on American Preppers Online.

2-Way Radios For Pre & Post SHTF Local Communications

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2-way radios (walkie-talkies) do not require a working infrastructure as do cell phones (antenna towers, network service providers, power-grid, a paid service plan). A set of 2-way radios ‘just works’. The only thing a 2-way radio needs is a charged battery. 2-way radios have their limits on how far they will transmit and receive, however […]

Now is the time to learn how to use a Ham Radio for survival!

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Hello my friend and welcome back!  When it comes to survival, I think we all understand the need for reliable information in any disaster scenario.  Ham Radio is easily the most reliable due to…

The post Now is the time to learn how to use a Ham Radio for survival! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

How to Communicate When The World Goes Silent

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Alternative methods of communication are easily overlooked since we rarely use them in our day-to-day lives. Cell phone networks have gotten so reliable that most people feel like their smartphone is all they’ll ever need. But if a widespread disaster strikes, cell phone towers could be jammed or stop working altogether. If you still don’t […]

The post How to Communicate When The World Goes Silent appeared first on Urban Survival Site.

Monday Mania – 5.9.2016

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In this weeks edition of Monday Mania: Strategies for Dealing with Those Who Aren’t Prepared, 20 Reasons Preppers Are Happier Than the Rest of the World, “Skills That Could Save Your Life”: 25 Forgotten Survival Lessons You Need to Know, Raise Plants and Fish Together with Aquaponics, & 15 More Monday Mania – 5.9.2016 The internet will … Continue reading Monday Mania – 5.9.2016

The post Monday Mania – 5.9.2016 appeared first on The Prepared Ninja.

Prepper’s Communication Handbook

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Prepper's Communication Handbook by Jim Cobb. A must read if you want to stay connected during a disaster | PreparednessMama

Lifesaving Strategies for Staying in Contact During and After a Disaster. Communication is one of the most important things that is missing during a disaster. If we become separated from our loved ones, the stress of not knowing can be intense. We also need information about the disaster and what to do next. The new […]

The post Prepper’s Communication Handbook appeared first on PreparednessMama.

What Are Your Favorite Alternative News & Information Sources – Websites?

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Having recently posted the article, The Mainstream Mass Media versus Alternative News, I thought that it would be a good idea to renew / update the following original article on favorite alternative news and/or informational websites and other sources beyond the mainstream mass media (originally posted during 2014). So lets here from you in the […]

The Mainstream Mass Media versus Alternative News

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It is well established that most Americans do not trust the mainstream (mass) media (supported by Gallup polls and others – look it up…). It’s no wonder since most recognize that they are all owned and controlled by the same handful of corporations who are themselves integrated into the establishment as controllers and persuaders of […]

Simple and affordable Satellite communications for after the collapse.

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Hello my friend ad welcome back!  When the collapse comes and depending on where you are, communications with the outside world could be difficult.  In today’s post we are going to look at a simple and affordable way to use satellites to communicate with the outside world.  Grab yourself a cup of coffee and have …

The post Simple and affordable Satellite communications for after the collapse. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

THE NEXT BIG SOLAR STORM: AN APOCALYPTIC TIMELINE

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Have you ever wondered what might happen in the event a massive, earth directed solar flare were to erupt hurling a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) at our home planet? What series of events could unfold? What would the impacts be? How do you think we might react? Well, this infographic gives us a look into what that future eventuality may look like.

solarflare-timeline_v3

Courtesy www.futurism.com

 

Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

 

FlareToEarth

Listen To Police/Fire/EMS Without A Scanner On Your PC!

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It may be useful for you to know what your emergency and police are up to. Especially useful for areas away from your location so you can actually hear what’s going on in neighboring towns and what may be coming your way.
Browse the site to see what it offers and how to use it. It is simple to understand.

Click on your state then click on your county.

It may take a minute or two to start hearing the chatter, be patient.

Being able to communicate in tactical situations is critical and what you need to know.

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Hello my friend and welcome back!  In today’s post, we are going to look at how Being able to communicate in tactical situations is critical and what you need to know.  Set back and grab a cup of coffee while we visit. We all know that communicating is critical in tactical situations, but with so …

The post Being able to communicate in tactical situations is critical and what you need to know. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

What is a tactical call sign and why on earth do I need one?

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Hello my friend and welcome back to another post.  What is a tactical call sign and why on earth do I need one?  This was a question I received from one of my readers.  And it is also the topic of today’s post so grab a cup of coffee and have a seat while we …

The post What is a tactical call sign and why on earth do I need one? appeared first on American Preppers Online.

What is a Software Defined Radio and why should Preppers have one?

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Hello my friend and welcome back! In today’s post we are going to look at Software Defined Radio: What it is and why it is important for Preppers to have at least one.  Grab yourself a cup of coffee and have a seat while we visit. A ham radio friend of mine recently got me …

The post What is a Software Defined Radio and why should Preppers have one? appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Don’t fall for Government Propaganda about prepping!

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Hello my friend and welcome back! I have been recently working on creating a Prepper Coalition in my area and have been surprised at some of the things I’m hearing from the Prepper Community on the subject.  It seems that the Federal Government has been working overtime with their distribution of propaganda aimed at Preppers.  …

The post Don’t fall for Government Propaganda about prepping! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

The Biggest Thing Lacking in Prepping…

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Herb Mayr. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today. Let me preface this brief writing by saying that I very much […]

The post The Biggest Thing Lacking in Prepping… appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

GoTenna Communication

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gotenna off network communicationsGoTenna, has a developed a very unique approach to communicating. They have designed a solution that allows you to use your mobile device in areas with no cell service.

GoTenna Communication

GoTenna is a 6-inch antenna, sold in pairs, that can be hung from a backpack, purse or belt. It pairs via Bluetooth to Android and IOS mobile devices. It uses their messaging client app to transmit text messages and GPS location data over 151-154 MHz (The Multi-Use Radio Band or MURS), to one, or more, GoTennas paired with other mobile devices.

Why not just use MURS Walkie-Talkies?

While the GoTenna may be more expensive than some sets of MURS handheld walkie-talkies, it does give you some advantages over them.

  • You can send text-style messages to one device, or a group of devices simultaneously.
  • No talking = No sound, so if you need to remain silent, GoTenna has you covered.
  • You can send your GPS location to other GoTenna devices, in your meshed network. These coordinates can be viewed on the Go-Tenna’s downloadable, high-resolution offline maps.
  • Multiple devices can send and receive messages at the same time, with walkie-talkies, you normally can’t hear while transmitting.
  • GoTenna’s messages don’t touch the internet. They can only be intercepted using a radio scanner. All GoTenna communications are encrypted using RSA 1024 encryption, so even if the signal is intercepted, it should be gibberish.

[See image gallery at www.geekprepper.org]

Range

The range of the GoTenna can vary greatly depending on the environment and terrain. These were our results. Based on your local terrain and environment, your mileage will vary!

Open and Flat terrain

GoTenna’s signals claims around nine miles in an open environment. We did achieve almost 4 miles. Thank you, western Ohio, for being so flat.

The rest of the World’s terrain

When operating in a a more hilly and densely wooded area, the signal seems to drop off around 2-3 miles.

In dense urban environments, we were limited to much less than 2 miles, sometimes as low as 500 – 1000 meters.

Best case scenario terrain

The good news is that since this communicates on the MURS Band (151-154 MHz and limited power to 2 Watts), we can extrapolate that if someone was high enough and had a clear view of a horizon the signals could theoretically travel up to 50 miles.

I have spent the last couple months using these devices to communicate on hikes, with my companions and from the trail back to camp. In these rural areas, you can get by with handheld walkie-talkies, but they don’t give you the ability to send your GPS location, nor to communicate without using your voice. This device would be essential should I fall into a ravine or am injured and need someone to come get me now!

When disaster strikes or the unexpected happens, standard communication mechanisms can become overwhelmed, prevetning you from contacting essential people. GoTenna fills the gap to provide a secure method of mesh communications between mobile device in areas with no cell service!

The post GoTenna Communication appeared first on Geek Prepper.

Read, learn, Practice and never stop!

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Hello my friend and welcome back today! In today’s post we are going to talk about the importance of learning and practicing new skills.  I am constantly amazed at how many people read about how to do something and yet never practice what they read to help set it in their memory.  This is a …

The post Read, learn, Practice and never stop! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Survival Communications for the frugal Prepper!

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Hello my friend and welcome back! In today’s post, we are going to look at survival communications and what the frugal Prepper should know about them.  You don’t need to spend a fortune to have a top-notch communications setup.  It can be easy and inexpensive if you know how.  Grab a cup of coffee and have …

The post Survival Communications for the frugal Prepper! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Living “Off Grid” may not mean what you think it does!

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Hello my friend and welcome back! I talk to people all the time that keep saying that they can’t wait to go off grid, as they check their email every few minutes as well as their Facebook. Then they usually complain about it being too hot or too cold. As I listen to them, I …

The post Living “Off Grid” may not mean what you think it does! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Smartphone Communications During A Power Outage

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During a regional (or wider) disaster (e.g. major storm) and subsequent power outages, one of the main things that people will be trying to do is communicate with others via their cell phones / smartphones, and searching for information about the event. Back during Hurricane Sandy, many people walked long distances from areas that lost […]

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.

More Power or not, that’s the question!

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Hello my friend! In today’s post, we are going to take a look at hand-held communications and why more power is better in some cases and not in others.  Knowing the difference could just save your life in an SHTF situation so set back and grab a cup of coffee while we chat. So, what …

The post More Power or not, that’s the question! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Using the Baofeng UV-5R in survival situations.

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Hello everyone and in today’s Video Monday post, we are going to look at the Baofeng UV-5R radio for use as a tactical and survival radio.  I have many of these in my preps and they are a large part of my survival communications plans for after SHTF hits.  Being a licensed ham radio operator, …

The post Using the Baofeng UV-5R in survival situations. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

Everyday Items You Should Have on You to Withstand an Apocalypse

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By Cherie

In the event of an apocalypse, you want to be fully equipped with tools that increase your chances of long-term survival. Prepare yourself through tactful outfitting of everyday accessories that can withstand harsh conditions. Many of the devices you use are powered by battery or electrical energy, which may not be at your disposal in an emergency situation, so make sure you own devices that are sufficient enough to sustain power and support your perseverance. Here are the top everyday items you should have on you to withstand an apocalypse:

Rugged Watch

Your watch should be equipped with information that helps you keep track of the progression of time in several ways. For example, the Casio GSHOCK GA100SD digital watch is inspired by the military and has world time, a precise stopwatch, a countdown timer, four daily alarms, a 24-hour countdown timer, a date display, 29 world time zones, daylight savings and a 24-hour format. This helps you track time no matter where you are and who you need to contact.

The watch also is built with ultra-tough shock resistance, water resistance up to 600 feet and a steadfast buckle closure, so it can last through almost anything. The battery life on the watch lasts two years, so store enough batteries in your shelter in case you need a replacement.

Durable Phone

Your phone needs to be able to withstand any unpredictable conditions. A phone like the Galaxy S5 has up to 29 hours of talk time and up to 20 days of standby time as well as GPS capabilities, plenty of memory and 4G connectivity, which helps ensure that you can contact friends and family members after a disastrous event.

Pair your smartphone with the SatSleeve for Android to enable satellite access to your phone for reliable communication in remote areas. The satellite coverage provides access to phone calls, emails, instant messages and apps within Thuraya’s network that spans across 161 countries. The high penetration alerting capability lets you stay connected and receive calls and notifications even when the satellite antenna is stowed. The SatSleeve also can make predefined emergency calls without being docked to your smartphone.

Multipurpose Tool

Carry a multi-tool in your pocket to avoid having to carry a myriad of tools. The Leatherman Wingman multi-tool includes a 420HC combo knife, spring-action regular pliers, needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, wire stripper, three kinds of screwdrivers, scissors, file, bottle opener and can opener. It is thoughtfully designed for accessibility, as many of the tools have outside-accessible, one-hand spring action features. It has a pocket clip and measures at 3.8 inches, so it’s easy to carry around without adding any extra weight or bulk.

Pocket-Sized Kinetic Charger

In the event of an apocalypse, traditional energy sources may not be at your disposal, so it is important you have the means to create your own energy to power your devices. Harness energy from kinetic movement through the Ampy Move motion-charger battery. It is about the size of a deck of cards and the weight of a smartphone, which makes it easy to carry around in your bag or clipped to your pocket. It can charge any technological device that uses a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, including your smartphone and smartwatch. An hour of movement or exercise can produce up to one hour of smartphone battery life, five hours of smartphone standby battery life and 24 hours of smartwatch battery life. The Ampy Move is waterproof, but not submersible, and contains an 1800 mAh battery.

 

DIY Battery Pack

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Being a DIY’er is a lot like being a gun guy.  Any self respecting gun guy has (at one time or another) bought a gun simply because he had either a holster or an odd box of ammunition that he didn’t have a gun for. This DIY Battery Pack project is like that, I recently […]

The post DIY Battery Pack appeared first on Shepherd School – Home for DIY Prepper Projects.

ePrepper HowTo :: Run a Mumble Communications Server

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Post Objective: Demonstrate setting up Mumble server on a Digital Ocean droplet.
Skill Level: No skill is required to follow this how-to.

As you probably already know, at ePrepper, we are focused on communications.  Today, we are going to dig into Mumble and show you how to cheaply set up a server using a Digital Ocean droplet.  You can get started with a $10 credit to Digital Ocean which is enough to get your server running for a full two months!  There are no commitments and this is a risk-free offer.

What is Mumble?  Mumble is a chat server that is often used in gaming, but has some great features including…

  • voice chat (using mic/headset preferred)
  • text chat
  • open environment making it easy for people to join a chat
  • all communication is encrypted
  • iOS and Android apps available as well as OS X and Windows
If you are going to follow this tutorial, you will want to set up a Digital Ocean account in advance (using the link above to get $10 credit so your server will be free for two months).  If you want to try out our Mumble server, you can skip down to the bottom of this page for connection details.

Step 1: Create your Digital Ocean Droplet

Click Create Droplet:

Name Your Droplet:
You can select from various regions.  For best performance, choose one close to you. 
Change tabs from “Distributions” to “Applications” and select “Mumble Server”

You can set up SSH keys, but in an effort to keep this tutorial easy, we are going to skip this section and click “Create”

VIOLA!  After a minute, your droplet will be ready!

Step 2: Get Console Access and Configure Mumble
Click “Console Access”
You should have received two emails from Digital Ocean.  One email will include a “root” password for your droplet.  The other email contains some information about setting up Mumble on your droplet.  When you log in for the first time, you will be required to create a new root password.  Of course, remember what you set it to.

Now… pay attention to the screen, there will be a SuperUser password for Mumble on the screen.  Be sure to write this down, you will need it later!

Now, you will want to configure your Mumble server, but really there is just one thing we want to change.  If we don’t change one of the settings, the server will show up to Mumble users with the name “Root.”  So, let’s change that to a better name.

At the # prompt type…
pico /etc/mumble-server.ini

Using the arrow keys on the keyboard to find the line “#registerName=Mumble Server” and change it by removing the #… something like…
registerName=MyMumble

Press CTRL-O to write out the file, then press <ENTER>.  Then press CTRL-X to get back to the # prompt.  From the prompt, now type “service mumble-server restart
Ok, now you are ready to connect to the Mumble server!
Step 3: Connect to Your Mumble Server via SuperUser
If you don’t already have a Mumble client installed on your computer, then you will need to install that before proceeding.  You can get the client from here: http://www.mumble.com/mumble-download.php  Follow the instructions for your operating system.  Note: Mumble is also available for iOS and Android, just search your device’s available apps.
Once your app is installed.  You will be greeted with a setup wizard.  This will walk you through setting up your sound (use a headset for this portion, else you will get feedback).  You can skip through the sound setup and mute your mic if you desire (which is what I did for now).
Now, you need to connect to your Mumble server.  If you are using a Mac, then your screen will probably look something like this.  It may be a little different from the PC.
Click “Add New…” on this screen:
Label: Whatever you want to call this connection
Address: The IP address from your Digital Ocean droplet.
Username: SuperUser if you want to have ability to add/remove channels and kick people off the chat.
Password: This is the SuperUser password you jotted down from an earlier step.
If you see this message (and you probably will), you will need to click Yes.  This will accept the certificate from the server and allow you to connect to it.
 Next… Add a channel to your Mumble Server.  I’ll just call it Prepper Talk.  You can add as many channels as you like.  The $5/month Digital Ocean droplet is reported to handle about 100 users (probably tons more if users are primarily using text instead of voice)
That’s pretty much it.  Now, you can start texting/voice chatting with other users.
Now, I invite you to try Mumble on our server.  Just scroll up a couple screenshots to where it shows our Mumble server IP address (the number that begins with 104….).  Get a Mac/PC or iOS/Android client and try connecting to us!

NOTE ABOUT HANDLES!
Get creative with your handle.  Don’t use your real name or something that hints to your real name.  Just join the server and make up a handle.  Maybe I’ll catch you in the chat!

This may or may not be obvious, but if this Mumble server ends up getting abused, I’ll be forced to take it offline, change IPs, and only circulate the new IP to trusted users.  I will be trying to leave the server up so you can mess around with Mumble as you decide if it is something you want to try.

Communications :: Run Your Own Secure XMPP Chat Server (cheap!)

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I’m a huge advocate of information that that enables people to control their own communication.  That’s why I often write about Ting and other providers that give you full control.

In this case, that provider is Digital Ocean.  I first heard of Digital Ocean about two years ago.  I’ve experimented with various server applications, like “OwnCloud” (which give you the ability to securely share files) and WordPress (which you’ve probably already heard about).

Now, it’s time to do some secure chat using eJabber (an XMPP chat server).

The how-to should be really easy to follow, but don’t hesitate to comment if you have questions.  Digital Ocean How-To: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-ejabberd-xmpp-server-on-ubuntu

Now, the best part is that you can try Digital Ocean with absolutely no risk.  Just use this link and get $10 credit to spin up your own server.  The credit is enough for you to run the cheapest server for a full two months.  To get started with Digital Ocean, just click here.

Comment with your issues or questions.

To Drone or not to drone …That is the question!

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To Drone or not to drone …That is the question! Well at least the question for today’s post that is. I was looking through a sales paper over the weekend and found some really good deals on drones with video cameras on them for very little.  By that I mean $200 or less.  I know …

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CB Radio, 40 Channel Handheld with NOAA Weather

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Lately, I have been fine tuning all my emergency preparations, selling off some of the old prior to Y2K electronics with current technology. I’ve already downsized my 4kw generator with a new, much quieter and fuel efficient Honda 2000i.
When it comes to radio communications I feel the CB will still be used by many in a grid down or other emergency where all normal everyday communication methods are out for an extended amount time. For my own radios, I feel the FMRS, CB, 2-Meter and Marine handheld radios plus a small portable Shortwave AM/FM radio for shortwave listening should be sufficient for my needs at this time. Last week I purchased a new CB handheld radio, a Midland 75-822 to replace my very old and twice as big one.



The features that sold me on this unit were its small size, the mobile adapter that has a 12v plug to plug into the cars or any power port and a antenna connection for a taller roof top antenna. Also uses my favorite size ‘AA’ batteries. It comes with two battery pack/holders, one for ‘AA’ alkaline and the other for Rechargeable NiCad batteries with a charger.
Radio Features:
  • Ultra-Portable CB and Weather Radio
  • 40-Channel CB Radio
  • The 75-822 offers 40 separate communication channels, delivering the maximum CB communication range with 4 watts of output power.
  • Channel scan can automatically check all channels for activity, stopping on any active channel for five seconds. You can also store and instantly access up to five of your favorite channels in memory. When you flip on the device, a last channel memory feature will turn on the last channel you selected before powering off.
  • While communicating, a built in ANL (automatic noise limiter) improves reception for weak signals, and squelch control further eliminates background noise.
  • Weather Radio/Emergency Channel Convenience
  • The 75-822 features instant access to NOAA Weather Radio, for weather/hazard information in your area 24/7.
  • Immediate access to emergency channel 9 and informational channel 19 is also provided.
  • The Dual Watch feature lets you monitor channel 9 and another channel of your choice simultaneously.
  • Power With AA Batteries or Vehicle Power Port
  • You can power this unit with six AA batteries, complete with a battery life extender feature. To get even more from your batteries, high/low transmit power settings are provided (4 watts and 1 watt, respectively).
  • A mobile adapter is also included for powering directly from your vehicle’s “cigarette lighter” power port.
  • Easy to Use
  • The 75-822 boasts a large, backlit multifunction LCD display that’s easy to read, day or night. A keypad lock feature “locks in” your preferred settings, so they aren’t accidentally changed. The flexible antenna with BNC connector is easily removed for transport, and an external headset jack is provided for hands-free use.
The new CB radio.
Radio with the mobile set-up attached. Remove the battery pack and snap on the mobile set-up to use vehicle power and the antenna lead to attach to my stainless steel whip antenna.
Upper Left; Radio.
Upper Right; mobile set-up.
Lower Left; ‘AA’ NiCad battery pack with wall bug charger.
Lower Right; ‘AA’ battery pack.

Box front.
Summary:
It is a good radio, lots of volume, backlit display, the option of alkaline or rechargeable NiCad ‘AA’ batteries or 12v vehicle battery, a small size and important to me because of hurricanes is the ten NOAA weather reception stations.
Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio   $76.83
Hustler MBM CB Radio Antenna Magnet Mount   $24.25
The magnet is strong at 5 inches in diameter with 100 lbs. of pull. When I’m parked or camped it holds my full length stainless steel whip to the van roof very securely.
I added three Velcro self-stick loop pads to the bottom because it’s so hard to pull off the roof. It makes it easy to slide the magnetic base without scratching the paint to a curved part of the roof then pull it off.
Stainless steel whip antenna on the van.

The First Five Things You Should Do in Any Emergency!

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I was working on a new Emergency Preparedness binder last night, and started to notice a pattern emerge in the first 5 items for each emergency. These are typically the most critical items and I thought I would share them with you in today’s post. Now granted, some of these may not apply in certain …

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Power in the Collapse or Collapse Because of Lack of Power

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Two recent pieces of information came out to prompt me to write about each Prepared Family to have a plan on how power sources for their survival during a collapse. And like the title above suggests, if the U.S. Grid is shut down, the collapse will follow.

First, we have the Federal Government warning about power outages. This in and of itself would not raise too many concerns, but in the words of the Government ” Be prepared for power outages as we rely on electricity and other utilities for survival, so when we lose power it’s a major problem. A power outage compounds the impacts of a natural disaster and increases anxiety. Having a way to communicate with family, friends, and coworkers is imperative.

The Government goes on to suggest these tips:

Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out and ensure you have extra compatible batteries for any device that can run on battery power (i.e., cell phones, portable phones, medical or assistive devices, radios). Consider purchasing hand-crank and solar-powered chargers.

Keep your car gas tank at least half full. Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. You’ll also have a good method for charging devices in an emergency or, if necessary, moving to a location with power.

Never use a generator, gasoline-powered equipment and tools, grill, camp stove, or charcoal burning device inside or in any partially enclosed area, including a basement or garage.

Install battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors or electric detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home and outside of bedrooms to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and potentially deadly gas. Plan to always keep a generator outdoors.

And finally, a friendly word from the Government about communications, which would be sorely affected by a collapse of the Grid,……Don’t wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.

During an emergency, communication is critical. We want to know that our family is safe and taken care of. We need to let our family, friends, and coworkers know we’re okay, and be ready to help our fellow citizens by fulfilling the DHS mission. Having a family emergency communication plan with key phone numbers and other information readily available is important.

And then from USA Today, a report that “Attackers successfully compromised U.S. Department of Energy computer systems more than 150 times between 2010 and 2014”, from a review of federal records obtained by USA TODAY finds.

Cyber attackers successfully compromised the security of U.S. Department of Energy computer systems more than 150 times between 2010 and 2014, according to a review of federal records obtained by USA TODAY.

Incident reports submitted by federal officials and contractors since late 2010 to the Energy Department’s Joint Cyber security Coordination Center shows a near-consistent barrage of attempts to breach the security of critical information systems that contain sensitive data about the nation’s power grid, nuclear weapons stockpile and energy labs.

The records, obtained by USA TODAY through the Freedom of Information Act, show DOE components reported a total of 1,131 cyber attacks over a 48-month period ending in October 2014. Of those attempted cyber intrusions, 159 were successful.

“The potential for an adversary to disrupt, shut down (power systems), or worse … is real here,” said Scott White, Professor of Homeland Security and Security Management and Director of the Computing Security and Technology program at Drexel University. “It’s absolutely real.”

Energy Department officials would not say whether any sensitive data related to the operation and security of the nation’s power grid or nuclear weapons stockpile was accessed or stolen in any of the attacks, or whether foreign governments are believed to have been involved.

“DOE does not comment on ongoing investigations or possible attributions of malicious activity,” Energy Department spokesman Andrew Gumbiner said in a statement.

In all cases of malicious cyber security activity, Gumbiner said the Energy Department “seeks to identify indicators of compromise and other cyber security relevant information, which it then shares broadly among all DOE labs, plants, and sites as well as within the entire federal government.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Energy Department responsible for managing and securing the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, experienced 19 successful attacks during the four-year period, records show.

While information on the specific nature of the attacks was redacted from the records prior to being released, numerous Energy Department cyber security vulnerabilities have been identified in recent years by the department’s Office of Inspector General, an independent watchdog agency.

After a cyber attack in 2013 resulted in unauthorized access to personally identifying information for more than 104,000 Energy Department employees and contractors, auditors noted “unclear lines of responsibility” and “lack of awareness by responsible officials.” In an audit report released in October of last year, the Inspector General found 41 Energy Department servers and 14 workstations “were configured with default or easily guessed passwords.”

Urban Man’s comments: What this all means is that the prepared survivor must plan for life without the electrical grid. Best case is a completely solar powered home backed up by a fuel generator and wind mills generating electrical power, but alas, only the richest can afford this. 

For the economy prepper this means have battery powered devices with common batteries and a goodly amount of rechargeable batteries – they make them in almost all sizes now. I have six sets of re-chargers that I can power from as 12 volt source (vehicle battery or cigarette plug adapter) and from folding solar panels. 

I have a several solar kits still in the box and keeping them that way in case I have to bug out. my next big purchase will be a power source 1800 Solar Generating unit, which like the name suggest, is capable of generating 1800 watts of power at peak and is re-charged through a 100 watt solar mobile panel. Just get prepared people!

Urban Man

Why Do You NEED a Ham Radio License?

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why do you need a ham radio licenseI’ve heard all the excuses from people who think they don’t need to get their Ham Radio License. Now see why they are wrong!

Why Do You NEED a Ham Radio License?

I’ve heard so many people say “I won’t need a license after SHTF!” or “No one is going to be checking licenses after SHTF”.

Ok. It’s probably true that no one is going to be coming around checking for valid amateur radio licenses.

How are you going to practice operating ham radio without a license? Is your master plan to hold off on practicing any survival skills until after SHTF?

Other awful ideas on this same type of list:

  • Not driving until after SHTF.
  • Not learning to shoot until after SHTF.
  • Not storing food until after SHTF.
  • Not putting together your bug out bag until after SHTF.
  • Never having a fire drill with your family.
  • Not putting on your seat belt until after you’ve had an accident.
  • Not buying toilet paper until after you’ve pooped.

Shame on you.

Listening to ham radio and communicating on ham radio are two very different things.

Practice

You need to start working a radio now. I guarantee you that just because you can pick up a microphone and push a button this doesn’t mean that you will ever make contact with anyone.

The only way to assure that you can make contact is practice, research and working with other experienced ham operators. It takes years to fine tune those skills and your gear to know the how and why of establishing communications.

Experience

You spin the dial and home in on a voice. You push the transmit button and start shouting into the microphone. The voice on the other end keeps on talking.

Did he hear you? Is he ignoring you? What is going on?

Even when you do things right, sometimes the sun and atmosphere don’t cooperate. If this happens, do you have enough experience to know if it’s the conditions that are failing or if it’s your gear that is failing?

Unless you’ve worked your gear and know how it behaves on each band, you are severely reducing your chances of post-SHTF contact. You may have the best radio that money can buy, and an awesome antenna, but that antenna may not work for you, might be positioned poorly or may need tuned properly so that it resonates on the current frequency that you are trying to transmit on.

What if your rig dies and you have to go scrounge up another? Beggars can’t be choosers, so shopping around for an exact replacement won’t be very likely. Do you know how to use a hybrid rig, or a tube transceiver?

Do you know how to dip a plate?

Finding the right gear

I like my radio, but I’ll take a crappy ham radio and a good antenna over a great radio and a poor antenna any day. The antenna is the true key. There are hundreds of books on antennas and antenna theory.

Maybe OpSec is important to you, or you might live in an area with an HOA or other restrictions against amateur radio antennas. I live in one of those very areas and I turned to a book, Stealth Amateur Radio: Operate From Anywhere, to help me work around those issues. My HOA and neighbors have no idea that I not only have a ham radio antenna, but I have multiple stealth antennas. It’s amazing where you can use and hide an end-fed antenna!

Off Grid Use

How do you plan to power your radio after the grid is down? Maybe you plugged in your radio, to your solar battery bank and did some listening. Great.

Now watch your power drain as you pump out 100watts of power, trying to transmit. How will you plan for the proper amount of stored power, if you don’t really know how much power your rig uses to communicate?

The only way to truly get yourself fully immersed is to transmit and to receive, before it’s too late. This means that every day you procrastinate is one less day that you have to practice.

Go take your ham test and get licensed so you can truly learn how things truly work. Unless you are one of those people who are waiting to drive until after SHTF, because no one will be checking for drivers licenses after SHTF. Sad, just sad.

There are so many things to learn, and ham radio, while fun and rewarding, isn’t always easy. It seems like every time I have a handle on this hobby, I turn another page and find out something new. You could spend a lifetime trying to master ham radio, and never do it all.

HAM Radio 101:  Get Your HAM Radio License

 

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How You Are Tracked

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how you are trackedRemember the days when you only had to worry if someone was physically tailing you? You could use some creative evasion to disappear into a crowd or around a corner. Well those days are over. Here are a few ways on how you are tracked.

How You Are Tracked

In today’s world of modern technology, you have to take extreme measures to hide and to remain anonymous. The Nazi’s and Secret police would have loved to have had this type of technological tracking to keep it citizens in line. Here in the USA, we even pay the bills for our collars (cell phone, internet access), which they use against us.

What does it take to hide?

First you need to know how you are tracked, then you might be able to do something about it.

Internet

There is no privacy on the internet. Encryption may give you some cover, but the best defense now is to use Tails (which uses Tor) from a public or open wifi access point, from a laptop that has never been connected to your network. Add to this some MAC address spoofing and you may just obfuscate and bounce around enough to be anonymous. Unless you still have your cell phone on you. Then they know you were in the proximity of that wireless network, and all bets are off.

More information:

Cell phone

Good luck going anywhere or having any private conversations on your cell phone. It’s impossible. Your cell phone is tracked and triangulated via the cell phone towers and then top it off with your even more accurate built in GPS.

Add to this that every cell phone call is intercepted, regardless of what the news media tells you.

Want to a big wake up call? Google knows where you’ve been, almost everywhere you’ve been. See your location history (use your browser that’s logged into a google account – gmail, etc).

More information – Cell Phone: The Tracking Device in Your Pocket

Radio

Radio, so far seems to be the most anonymous. Except that on the Amateur bands you must use your amateur radio callsign.

The bad news is, they can still find you, using a method lovingly labeled “Fox Hunting”.

Fox hunting is the method used to track rogue transmitters. It utilizes directional antenna. A directional antenna is more sensitive to received signals in some directions than others. When a directional antenna is rotated, a received signal will either increase or decrease in signal strength, information from which a skilled hunter can determine the likely direction to the transmitter.

If they start hunting you, you have a very limited amount of time to stop transmitting and get the heck out of there.

I speculate that the powers that be have antennas deployed just for this type of tracking, so transmit and move.

You might have the best luck using HF and bouncing that signal, or skipping it off the atmosphere, but nothing is foolproof.

This is just a few ways describing how you are tracked, remember this and you might be able to avoid some of it.

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CB Radio after SHTF?

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cb after shtfIs there a place in your plan for a CB radio after SHTF?

CB Radio after SHTF?

Is it worth having a CB radio after SHTF? That’s a good question. Let’s look at CB radio and find out.

What are CB Radios?

Citizens Band radio (also known as CB radio) allow short-distance radio communications between individuals on 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 m) band. Citizens band is distinct from the FRS, GMRS, MURS, and Amateur Radio Service (“ham” radio) systems. In many countries operating a CB does not require a license, and (unlike amateur radio) it may be used for business or personal communications.

Like many other two-way radio services, citizens band channels are shared by many users. Only one station may transmit at a time; other stations must listen and wait for the shared channel to become available. Traditionally stations waiting to use a shared channel will broadcast the word “Break” during a lull in the conversation. This informs the other people using the channel that someone is waiting to transmit.

They can transmit and receive from a mile or two up to 20 miles (depending on antenna) and in some circumstances much much further.

CB Radio availability

CB’s are readily available, can be found laying unused in many garages, attics and basements. You can even find them still in older cars sitting in junk yards or scrap yards.

CB Radio Operation

CB radios are very simple to use. Even if you’ve never seen or touched a CB radio before, you could pick one up and be communicating in a matter of seconds.

  1. Ensure that there is an antenna connected.
  2. Turn on the power.
  3. Tune to a channel (channel 9 is for emergencies only and channel 19 is typically the hang out spot, or “calling channel”).
  4. Pick up the microphone, wait for a lull in any active conversations.
  5. When there is a lull, key the mic and say “Break”, hopefully they will acknowledge you.
  6. Key the mic and transmit your message.

It’s good form, to switch to an unused or less busy channel if you want to have a conversation. Use channel 19 to connect with your contact, then move to another channel.

Be aware that anything you transmit or hear will likely be picked up by many other people. Do not forgo OpSec in your communications. Do not give out any information that is sensitive.

cb radio

CB Radio use after SHTF

CB Radios will likely be one of the unsung heroes after SHTF.

Since they are still readily available, simple and have a decent transmit and receive range I expect the 40 channels (and sidebands) will be widely used for communications immediately following a disaster or grid down situation. This means that you’ll be able to listen to plenty of recon and local “news” reports from other folks, using CBs in your area, just by listening. This alone make the CB radio a must have!

CBs are available in Base station, portable and automobile version or the even more portable handheld CB radio.

 

 

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Deciding What to Do Next

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One question I hear a lot is “I’m new to prepping. Where do I start?” Similar is, “I have so much to do to be fully prepared, I don’t know what to do next!” Here is a strategic planning tool I use to plan my preparations.

what next

  1. I start by breaking down my planning into basic survival focus areas: Shelter, Water, Food, Personal Defense, Communications, and Wellness.
  2. For each focus, I then mentally evaluate my level of preparedness and where I want to be. I try to articulate where I want to be in terms of brief statements of objective.
  3. Based on my objectives, I then list the most promising action steps I can take in terms of gear, plans, skills, etc. I articulate these action steps as major tasks.
  4. I evaluate the tasks I’ve set for myself and try to assign a date to complete each task. Sometimes the tasks are ongoing, but sometimes they can be completed. If so, I decide for myself when it would be reasonable to complete that task, given the other things going on in my life.
  5. Finally, I select just 3-5 of the tasks I’ve assigned and put them on my WIN list (“what’s important now”). These are the 3-5 tasks (ideally spread over several focus areas) that would have the greatest impact if they were all I was able to complete from my entire list. They need to be achievable (in terms of effort, cost, etc.) and make a significant improvement in my level of preparedness. They are the answer to the question, “What do I do next?”

Here’s a sample SGR Planning Guide I might have used at one time. It would represent a time when I had already begun to prepare myself, already had acquired gear and laid in supplies for 1-3 months, and already had begun learning skills that could prove useful in an emergency.

Shelter

The first basic survival concern is shelter: maintaining our core body temperature and protecting ourselves from the elements.

Objectives

  • Clothing appropriate to location and season
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Appropriate headgear
  • Sleep systems
  • Home
  • Temporary/emergency shelter (e.g. tent, ability to construct lean-to)
  • Specified bugout destination(s)

Major Tasks

  • Acquire a bivouac bag and sleeping pad to go with sleeping bag
  • Acquire a new pair of boots and store existing pair with bugout bag
  • Change out old sunscreen in bugout bag, get home bag, car kit
  • Add tarp to car kit
  • Make blackout curtains for kitchen/dining area

Target Date

Have all shelter items completed by end of year

Water

Water is important for cooking, hygiene, and especially for drinking. Having access to water and the ability to treat water is highly important.

Objectives

  • Stockpile minimum water needed for 3 people for 3 months (270 gallons)
  • Have at least two ways of treating water at all times
  • Have appropriate water containers with each kit
  • Have two alternate sources of water in case city services are interrupted.

Major Tasks

  • Acquire a second WaterBOB
  • Purchase enough AquaMira for bugout bag, Nalgene water bottle kit, and car kit.
  • Acquire 8 more Aquatainers, fill them, and add them to my stockpile
  • Refresh the water in existing Aquatainers
  • Locate a wellhead nearby in the community. Inspect it to verify condition.

Target Date

Make the purchases at a rate of $30/month until all is acquired. Locate the wellhead within 30 days.

Food

Food is not only necessary for energy and life, it also plays a role in maintaining morale.

Objectives

  • Stockpile enough food for 3 people for 3 months
  • Identify 3 new edible wild plants that grow in the area during at least 2 seasons. Find some. Try some.
  • Acquire starter gear and supplies to begin pressure canning.

Major Tasks

  • Purchase an additional 30-day bucket of freeze-dried food (actually good for more like 2 weeks)
  • Purchase 4-8 additional cans of food each week. Emphasize meats and vegetables.
  • Build or purchase another rack for the garage for rotating canned goods.
  • Pull old vitamins from bugout bag to start using. Replace them with fresh vitamins.
  • Research edible wild plants in the area. Try to see what is relatively common.
  • Learn about pressure canning. Research what equipment is reliable and durable. Purchase the equipment.
  • Prepare some meals that can be canned, and can at least a couple of weeks worth of meals.

Target Date

Be set up for canning within 2 weeks. Refresh vitamins by end of month. Learn about, locate, and try one new wild edible each month. Have new can rack in garage and new bucket of freeze-dried food by end of year.

Personal Defense

Among the things one should consider preparing for are looters and criminals seeking to take advantage of any breakdown in the rule of law. I recommend you arm yourself with at least one handgun, shotgun, .22 rifle, and long arm. One might consider Opsec part of defense as well.

Objectives

  • Acquire an inexpensive but reliable high-power bolt-action rifle and scope capable of accuracy to 400 yards.
  • Evaluate existing armory for any parts needing periodic replacement.
  • Acquire minimum amount of ammunition needed for up to one year.
  • Make sure everyone in the household is familiar with operating each of our firearms.

Major Tasks

  • Find a good used Savage 10 or Remington 700 or similar in .308 for $250-300. Buy it.
  • Research reliable scopes. Select something inexpensive but reliable. Buy it.
  • Research commonly replaced parts for each of my firearms. Find an inexpensive source of new or surplus parts.
  • Set aside or spend $30 each month for parts and ammunition.
  • Take the family out shooting in the desert twice this year.

Target Date

Since I already have a good foundation in this category and already have the funds for the rifle and scope, I’ll start with the $30/month right away and aim for getting everything else done by the end of the year.

Communications

It’s helpful to be able to receive news from the outside world if the power is out or it’s not safe to go out. Communication can include commercial radio, amateur radio, smoke signals, chalk marks, flares, whistles, etc.

Objectives

  • Maintain functional amateur radio equipment and remain familiar in its use
  • Be able to recharge electronic devices including cellphones
  • Keep contact list up to date

Major Tasks

  • Participate in area emergency nets at least twice a month for both handheld transceivers and HF rig.
  • Install NVIS antenna at home.
  • Test solar charger every quarter.
  • Update contact list

Target Date

Update contact list by end of next week. Test solar charger first week in November. Have NVIS setup by end of year.

Wellness

This is the realm of first aid kits, medicines, health issues, and physical fitness.

Objectives

  • Maintain physical fitness
  • Ensure adequate supply of medical supplies for my skill level
  • Have a 3-month supply of any medicines used in the family

Major Tasks

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes at least 4 days each week
  • Make a list of any medicines used (prescription and non-prescription). Note dosages. Check expiration dates and supply. Refresh or supplement stocks as needed. Don’t overlook first aid kits, bugout bag, car kits.
  • Renew first-aid certification

Target Date

Complete medicine study and resupply by end of next month. Take part in first-aid training offered by CERT later this month.

WIN List

From the major tasks I identified above, here are the ones I’m putting on my WIN list (“what’s important now”). These are tasks that will make the most impact in my level of preparedness and are achievable within the next few months, given all the other demands on my time and money. This is the list of what I’ll do next:

  • Learn about pressure canning. Research what equipment is reliable and durable. Purchase the equipment.
  • Set aside or spend $30 each month for parts and ammunition for my existing firearms.
  • Install an NVIS antenna at home for my HF amateur radio.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes at least 4 days each week.

My past experience tells me I’ll get to quite a few of the other tasks as well, but now I have some very helpful focus on what I should be doing over the next couple of months. I like to keep each planning guide for reference as I prepare a new one at least once a year. It’s been helpful for me to see a steady track record of progress, and to look for patterns as to what sorts of things derail my plans and what’s realistic for the next year.

What will you do next?

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How We Dramatically Improved the Reception of Our Scanner

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We, like many preppers have a scanner that we use to listen to transmissions from emergency personnel such as police, fire, and ambulance. If there’s something going on in our neck of the woods, we want to know about it immediately. This is why we choose to listen to a scanner in our home. For quite some time, we’ve been dealing with “less than ideal” reception issues. Many of the transmissions that we heard were scratchy or garbled. In a lot of cases, we couldn’t pick up certain frequencies at all. This was in part due to the fact that…

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It’s Easier Than You Think to Encrypt Your E-mail and Shared Files

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I’ve been dinking around with electronic encryption for about 30 years. In spite of the fact that secure communications would be useful to me professionally for more than one reason, up until now I’ve never gone beyond “dinking around” to “using” encryption.

One reason encryption hasn’t become part of my every-day experience–and I’m guessing this applies to millions of others as well–is that it’s just too much hassle for too little reward. My favorite tool up until now has been some variation of Pretty Good Privacy. It’s robust: the NSA could crack it, but it would take way more resources and cost way more than it would likely be worth. It’s open source: any geniuses out there who want to inspect the encryption algorithms or software implementation are able to do so, and if they can’t find any real problems, then I’m not going to complain. And it’s free; I like cheap. Unfortunately, it is just complicated enough (with all its talk of public keys, private keys, trusted keyrings, etc.) that the “where can I find the file I just downloaded” crowd won’t use it unless their really mean boss absolutely forces them to. In other words, I can’t use PGP to send encrypted messages because nobody else I know uses PGP (which also explains why I’ve never received an encrypted message).

Encryption technology is not exactly a growth industry, unless you’re working for The Man. Governments really don’t like not being able to snoop on the things we say to one another, so often when somebody comes out with encryption in some sort of useful form, the government makes them an offer they can’t refuse: Put in a back door that lets us read that stuff, or don’t do business in this country. Apparently it’s not just people wanting to protect trade secrets or exchange naked pictures of Marty Feldman who use encryption, but also international terrorists and drug dealers. This government arm-twisting might be no problem if it came only from Tonga, but when it comes from places like China or the USA, well, problem. So encryption start-ups typically end up spending a lot of their time trying to fly under the radar, to justify why their secure applications should be legal, or building back doors.

A lot of us think of encryption algorithms when we start thinking about communications security. But it turns out that hackers don’t bother actually trying to crack encryption so much as intercepting our private keys and using that to decrypt our information, or they might simply grab our information directly before it’s encrypted or by reading ghost data left on our hard drives or in memory. And if even that is too tricky, there’s always the time-proven expedients of blackmail or coercion to make us just give over the information free and clear.

Image courtesy xkcd | http://xkcd.com/538/

Well, recently a need arose for me to communicate securely with a person in a very insecure country, and I looked into things some more. I found an app that I’m really starting to warm up to: Peerio. Peerio looks like a cute little chat application. One must login to the app using a longish pass phrase (this can be shortened to a password, but the password is only good for that specific device), then simply message or e-mail in what appears to be clear text. One may also upload files and share them, in which case they go out as attachments to a message. Attachments received can be dragged to a local folder and opened, viewed, edited, etc. In other words, anybody that can chat or drag-and-drop files can communicate and share files with Peerio.

What’s going on in the background–that users don’t need to be educated about or see–is some pretty strong encryption and decryption. When a contact is added to one’s address book, so is that contact’s public key. Peerio uses the pass phrase to generate a user’s private key each session, then when a message is sent it is encrypted before sending; the private key is not stored anywhere, and disappears when the user logs out. No clear-text messages or files ever hit Peerio’s servers. When the message is received, the recipient’s app decrypts it using the public key found in the address book, and presents the message in clear text. Shared files are likewise encrypted on the sender’s computer and decrypted on the receiver’s computer.

Here are some things that drew me to Peerio:

  • It’s so simple. Unlike every other encryption application I’ve ever used before, I already have people I know in my contact list and I’ve already used Peerio to communicate with them and share files. This is the biggie for me.
  • It uses end-to-end encryption rather than server-based encryption; if a Peerio server ever gets breached (accidentally or by a disgruntled employee), all people get is a bunch of encrypted data.
  • The encryption algorithm and software is open-source and peer reviewed. I can’t tell good encryption from bad, so it comforts me that those who can tell are able to check what Peerio’s doing. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can. Peerio actually hires third-party experts to check it out every so often, just in case.
  • Peerio will actually pay you $1,000 if you find a bug or exploit in their software.
  • This one I’m not really counting on so much, but Peerio claims that if the government ever asks them for my data (they’ll know the name and e-mail I supplied when I signed up, though they don’t check to see if they’re real), they’ll require due process and will notify me before releasing the information in case I want to challenge the request.
  • Peerio is portable, meaning I can run it under Windows or Mac from the USB thumb drive that’s part of my everyday carry (EDC).

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as complete electronic security. If someone carries Federal ID in their pocket, assume all your data are belong to them. If someone who knows what they’re doing gets their hands on your actual computer, assume they have access to all your data. If someone doesn’t know what they’re doing, but can sneak this USB keylogger into a slot on the back of your computer, they’ll have all your passwords, pass phrases, and anything else you type e-mailed to them on schedule. And of course there’s always the aforementioned blackmail, drugs, and threats of violence.

I’m totally happy to have found Peerio. Are there other apps out there I may have missed? Security concerns I need to be aware of? Let me know in your comments below.

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How to Communicate in SHTF

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How to Communicate in SHTFWe are so connected in our everyday world, even thinking about existing without cell phones scares people more than they are willing to admit. That is only one of the reasons why it is so important to prepare for the possibility that our main lines of communication may be compromised. In a disaster situation, radio communication may be the only way to find important news, communicate with others, and stay up to date on weather and emergency situations. That is why any prepared family should not only have emergency communication gear in your supply but also to know a few tips to make radio communication effective in a survival situation.

Types of Emergency Communication

You will want to be able to not only receive the incoming communication, but you will want to find a way to get your messages out there. These main types of emergency communication methods could be the lifeline that you family needs in a survival situation. Most preppers make sure they are equipped to handle more than one emergency communication situations. So you will want to diversify and be sure you have more than one way to get in touch with others in the outside world.

Emergency and 2 Way Radios

Any Emergency Radio worth it’s salt is going to have a 2-way option, if you can’t call out for help then what is the purpose? While there are laws that require you to be licensed to broadcast on certain radio channels, these rules and regulations will likely be thrown out the window in emergency situations. Generally speaking, however, anyone can broadcast on General Mobile Radio Service, or GMRS radios, as well as FRS, Family Radio Service radios (Visit the Communication Guide for more information).  No matter how you do it, having the access to speak if you need help will be integral to your survival.

Make sure that whatever radio you get, you consider power options. If the grid is down, you may opt for a solar or hand-crank device. Most radios usually have a battery

DeLorme inReach Satellite Phone

DeLorme inReach Satellite Phone

option too. You will also want to make sure your radio can reach special channels like the NOAA Weather Radio service. (We have a listing of important frequencies later in the post).

Satellite Phones

Satellite phones are an excellent option if the regular cell towers go down. Especially in the case of a less widespread disaster, where phone service is only out in a selective area, these little guys give you the communication power that others just simply won’t have. Many satellite phones have come a long way over the past few years with the more regular use of texting and e-mailing, as voice communication can be spotty, what is typed will come across clear. Satellite phones are excellent tools and can keep you connected when you need it most.

CB Radios

CBs are excellent short range communications devices, but they have their limitations. Since they have fallen out of popularity in recent years, less people have them, meaning less people re there if you are in need of help.

4 PACK Motorola 23-Mile Range 22-Channel FRS/GMRS 2 Way Radio

However, if you are traveling a popular highway or trucking area, you may find a CB radio will offer invaluable information that is unlike what you will get on the regular radio waves.

Walkie Talkies

Being able to communicate easily with your immediate family could save someone’s life in a survival situation. Arm your family with short range communication radios so you can stay in touch in the event that you need to be separated. This is especially important if you have children and a significant other in your survival scenario.

 

Important Communication Information Cheat Sheet

Emergency Radio Frequencies

NOAA – National Weather Radio  requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the proper signal. Broadcasts are found in the VHF public service band at these seven frequencies (MHz):

162.400
162.425
162.450
162.475
162.500
162.525
162.550

Other Frequencies

34.90      Used by National Guard during emergencies
39.46      Used by inter-department emergency – local and state police forces
47.42      Used by the Red Cross for relief operations
154.28   Used for communications by local fire departments; sometimes 154.265 and 154.295
155.160  Used for by local and state agencies during search and rescue operations
155.475  Used by local and state police forces
163.4875 Used nationwide by the National Guard during emergencies.
163.5125 The national disaster preparedness frequency

I also recommend researching your local radio frequencies and writing down the information in your emergency binder.

Morse Code

Morse code may also prove a useful communication tool, especially if you need to communicate quietly or in a covert situation. This can actually be a fun game to teach the kids morse code… they love to learn different ways to communicate, and in a way can be their own secret language to use.

  • A .-Morse Code Alphabet
  • B -…
  • C -.-.
  • D -..
  • E .
  • F ..-.
  • G –.
  • H ….
  • I ..
  • J .—
  • K -.-
  • L .-..
  • M —
  • N -.
  • O —
  • P .–.
  • Q –.-
  • R .-.
  • S …
  • T –
  • U ..-
  • V …-
  • W .–
  • X -..-
  • Y -.–
  • Z –..

CB Ettiquette & Lingo

Now CB radio is open to the public. If you are  not familiar with CB radios, then you may consider getting on the bandwagon now. CBs used to be much more popular in the days before cell phones and the internet, in fact in a lot of ways the CB was the first chatroom, opening the world to making connections with others within a short range of you.

Cobra 40 Channel CB Radio with NOAA Weather Radio

Cobra 40 Channel CB Radio with NOAA Weather Radio

While it is less social now, truckers specifically use CB radios to keep in contact, and being able to tap into this mode of communication is helpful whether you are stationary or on the road. A simple CB unit, portable or home version, and an antenna are all you need to get started.
However, there are a few rules in the CB world, and knowing how to abide by them will make it easier to communicate in a disaster situation. First, know your channels. There are 40 channels on a CB radio, and most are available and open for common use. Channel 9 is the one you’ll want to remember, if it is an emergency and you need assistance, broadcast on channel 9. If you are traveling and want to join in with other travelers and truckers, tune to channel 19.

I recommend listening to some CB conversations before a disaster or accident hits, that will make it easier to communicate if you are having trouble and need some assistance. Here’s a few helpful codes:

  • 10-1: Receiving Poorly
  • 10-4: Ok, Message Received
  • 10-5: Relay Message
  • 10-6: Busy- Stand By
  • 10-9: Repeat Message
  • 10-10: Transmission Completed, standing by
  • 10-11: Talking too Fast
  • 10-12: Quiet, Visitors Present
  • 10-13: Advise Weather/Road Conditions
  • 10-20: Location
  • 10-42: Traffic Accident
  • 10-99: Mission completed

Truckers, particularly, have quite the interesting slang when related to talking over the CB. While it is unnecessary to know this particular lingo in a survival situation, you may find a lot of the common CB language helpful and pretty entertaining.

International Phonetic Alphabet

When communication is spotty at best sometimes you must revert to using the phonetic alphabet at times to get your message clearly across. Committing these to memory is a smart move for any prepper to take.Phonetic Alphabet

  • Alpha
  • Bravo
  • Charlie
  • Delta
  • Echo
  • Foxtrot
  • Golf
  • Hotel
  • India
  • Juliet
  • Kilo
  • Lima
  • Mike
  • November
  • Oscar
  • Papa
  • Quebec
  • Romeo
  • Sierra
  • Tango
  • Uniform
  • Victor
  • Whiskey
  • X ray
  • Yankee
  •  Zulu

 Free Printables!

I have included some printable, emergency cards for Morse Code and the Phonetic Alphabet that you can keep in your wallet or purse for emergency communication situations. I’ve also included a full printable sheet for your emergency binder that has all this emergency communication information in one handy place.

 

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Creating Your Own Family Emergency Plan

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Family Emergency PlanPrepping is more than just having a lot of great supplies. You must also have a plan if you want your family to survive any situation successfully. If you are preparing for a family rather than just yourself, there are a lot more factors that can go into a survival situation. You can’t simply grab your bug out bag and go, if you’ve got a spouse and kids. The key to successful emergency planning is not just to plan, but to communicate with your family so they know how to act when an emergency situation actually does arise. Whether it is a basic natural disaster, a powerful storm, or a true SHTF scenario, planning now will help you and your family immensely when the times comes.

The Binder System

To keep all their information in one place, many families employ the binder system. (I actually have two different binders, one for my home and one for my car). In the binder you can place all the information that you may need in the case of an emergency. Each family may have different things they want to add or include, but here are a few items to consider.

Family Prepared Binder - Preorganized Binder System Makes it Easy to Get Started

Family Prepared Binder – Pre-organized Binder System Makes it Easy to Get Started

Emergency Contacts – Your doctor’s number, and numbers for other emergency facilities and organization. You will also want to identify, in case you are not in the home when an emergency hits, who is your backup emergency contact.

Everyday Contacts – Don’t forget to include the everyday numbers that you use, with cell phones becoming the norm, people are less apt to remember numbers, so those basic contacts you may need in an emergency should be included too; daycares and schools, classes and lesson teachers and/or coaches, grandparents, neighbors, and don’t forget your number too, in case your children are with a caretaker or babysitter.

Medical & Allergy Information – If your children, or anyone in your family, needs regular medication or has allergies that could be of concern, include this information as well.

Identification of Likely Disasters – Take some time, even include your kids, to research what disasters are more likely to hit in your area. Then create different response plans catered to that specific situation.

Jobs & Responsibilities – Once you’ve identified your potential disasters, consider thinking about jobs and responsibilities that each person in your family can have in the case of a disaster situation. For instance, if there is a flood your younger kids can help move important objects off the ground, or unplug electrical devices. If you create a plan, and inform your children, even run drills if you feel it’s necessary, they will know exactly what to do in a disaster or survival situation.

Copies of Important Documents –  I keep all of our important documents in a fire and water proof safe, but certain documents I keep copies of in our binder. This works great for things like insurance cards. Be careful of keeping financial information, however, in too easily of an accessible place. I like to make copies of our credit and debit cards (front and back) but I NEVER leave that information in my car binder, just in case someone breaks into my car. My main home binder however, has copies of social security cards, financial information and Internet websites and passwords– whatever I may need if we have to bug out to a different location.

Food Storage Info – Some people like to keep track of their food storage, expiration date and shelf lives and if you are doing this, keeping a copy in your emergency binder is a smart call. Having that information at your fingertips can help you avoid using any spoiled food and making a bad situation even worse.

 

Have an Emergency Meeting Place

Ensure everyone in your family knows where to go to in case of an emergency. Your first meeting place should always be your home, but in the event that your home becomes compromised you and your family will need to know where to meet in case communication is down.

You may consider having more than one meeting place to accommodate different disasters, or potential scenarios. Either way, make it a place that isn’t impossible to get to, and a place that has several routes to get there, that way if one road is cut off, there is still another option for still reaching your safe place. Print off maps for your binder, and identify multiple routes, not only form your home, but from their schools, friends’ homes, or other places they might be. Then share these different routes with your children, so they are aware of how to safely reach their destination. You can also include a map in your kids’ bug out bags and school backpack too, just in case they are at school and have to go to your meeting spot to stay safe.

Emergency Plan Gear

There are a few items that can be useful in an emergency situation, even one that is not necessarily  a SHTF scenario. In case of snow storms, floods, earthquakes or a variety of other common natural disaster you will find these items will bring you news, safety and comfort when you need it most.

Radios & Walkie Talkies

Having an emergency radio, especially one with a NOAA weather station option allows you to stay informed in case of a power outage or loss of cell service. They have solar powered and hand crank models, as well as battery powered ones, that can work even if you are off grid. Prepared families will probably also keep a set of two way radios, or walkie talkies to keep them in touch with each other in case there is a need to be separated.

ETON SCORPION - SOLAR POWERED RADIO & LED FLASHLIGHT

ETON SCORPION – SOLAR POWERED RADIO & LED FLASHLIGHT

Blankets

Even in very warm conditions, blankets and other clothing can be used in a variety of ways, for shelter, in medical emergencies, for bedding, and much more. Having emergency blankets, as well as even some old blankets and pillows stashed away could be a huge comfort in difficult times.

Flashlights

Flashlights and other means of lighting are critical to safety and comfort, especially for a family with small children. If the power goes down, you will want to make sure you have reliable and safe light for your family.

Water and Water Filters

In the case of SHTF, and many other disaster, water sources may be scarce. Even if you have running water, certain conditions can contaminate drinking sources which is why is is always a good idea to have water stored for just such occasions. If you have a large family, however, you will find storing the amount of water you need for a longer term basis could be quite challenging which is why many prepared families make sure they have a water filter system, even if it is just a few personal water filters like Life Straws for each person in your family.

 

Preparing is more than just stockpiling stuff, it’s stockpiling knowledge and information. Creating a family binder and an emergency response plan is only one part, but an important part, of the prepper’s agenda. By making a few simple planning measures to add to your prepping procedures you will not only help  safe, but it will also keep you and your family one step ahead of the game in any level of disaster scenario.

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The New Baofeng BF-F8HP – A Worthy Successor to the UV-5R

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The new Baofeng BF-F8HP looks very similar to the UV-5R, but is a genuinely different and improved model.

The new Baofeng BF-F8HP looks very similar to the UV-5R, but is a genuinely different and improved model.

For several years, the small-sized and even smaller priced Baofeng UV-5R has been the most popular budget HT ‘walkie-talkie’ radio transceiver.  Although primarily intended for licensed radio ham operators, many of them have been purchased by people to use as ‘super’ FRS and GMRS radios, a (mis)use that is notionally illegal but almost never enforced by the FCC.  We’ve written several articles about this lovely radio, see, for example, ‘The Best Radio for FRS/GMRS‘ and also read through our articles on Communications in general for a lot of resource.

Baofeng have released a somewhat confusing variety of other models of radio (in particular, the UV-82 series), none of which have been compelling ‘upgrades’ to the core UV-5R radio.

Confusing the matter further, their various distributors have often rebadged and repackaged the UV-5R and given it new names, or implied it to be a new, improved, updated, enhanced subsequent model.  As far as we can tell, none of their claims have any foundation in truth at all, and no matter what the outside case of the radio, and no matter what its alleged model number, all such versions of the UV-5R are almost exactly the same, other than for occasionally updated versions of the firmware inside them, and all perform essentially identically.  Resellers also make varying claims about being official and sometimes the only official dealers for ‘real’ Baofeng radios, and these claims are also to be taken with a degree of open-minded skepticism – as best we can tell, Baofeng will happily sell their products to anyone who will buy them, and will slightly alter them as major customers may request.

To make it more confusing, the Baofeng radios are also sometimes called Pofung radios (this spelling more closely indicates how the underlying Chinese word is pronounced).  Again, there is no difference.

But now a truly new model has been released, and it truly is better than the standard UV-5R.  This is the model BF-F8HP.  Already, we are seeing a confusing diversity of model numbers surrounding this new radio type, as well.  The F8HP designation seems to be the official default designation, but there are other variants such as F9-V2+ (which seems to attempt to imply it is a later model than the F8) and the F8+ (which is actually a UV-5R).

There are three key differences between this new radio and the earlier UV-5R series, and one very important similarity.

1.  The new F8HP has three power settings rather than two.  The UV-5R had two power settings, and on high power was nominally claimed to be outputting 4 watts of power, and typically was closer to 4 watts on the 2 m band and 3 watts on the 70 cm band.  The F8HP has a low power that is similar to the UV-5R low power setting, a mid power which is similar to the UV-5R high power setting, and a high power which nominally gives you 8 watts and has been tested to give about 7 1/2 watts on 2m and 6 watts on 70cm.  That’s an appreciable boost in power, and may give you a slight increase in range in some settings.

2.  A new battery with more capacity.  The UV-5R typically had a battery claiming about an 1800 mAh capacity (and more realistically giving you 1500 mAh).  The new F8HP has a battery with a rated 2100 mAh capacity and good for about 2000 mAh.  The battery is the same size, but uses newer cells that have higher capacity.  You can never have too much battery, especially if you’re now using it at a much greater rate on the high power transmit setting.

3.  The new F8HP has a greatly improved antenna provided as standard.

baofengantennas

The new style antenna is on the left, the old style is on the right.  This truly does make an appreciable difference to the radio’s ability to both send and receive signals a longer distance.

4.  The similarity :  All accessories that work with the UV-5R series also work with the F8HP.  That includes batteries as well as external microphones and speakers, and of course, antennas too.  So whatever you’ve bought already can be repurposed for the F8HP.

There are a few other minor differences too.  The new radio has some slightly improved internal circuitry, and a much better written 76 page manual.  Oh yes, it is also more expensive (but still great value), and currently can be found on Amazon for around $63, which is almost exactly twice the price of the UV-5R (which remains available for sale, too).

The F8HP operates on the same frequencies and has the same wide range of features and options, and can also be programmed through the same programming cables and the excellent free CHIRP software.

So – should you buy F8HP radios or twice as many UV-5R radios for the same amount of money?  We’re always keen to get the latest and greatest and best of everything, but the truth is that many times, the UV-5R will be all the radio you need.  If you get clear and reliable communications when using UV-5R radios, and especially if you are using them in low power mode, then there’s not really any need to get the F8HP.

If your UV-5R radios are struggling to connect to each other, then a better investment might be improved antennas on the UV-5Rs, rather than junking them and buying F8HPs.  A UV-5R with a good antenna (a Nagoya 701 or 771, for example) will generally give you comparable performance to a F8HP with its standard antenna.

But if you still have range issues, then, yes, you should get the F8HP.  A F8HP, on high power, and with an improved antenna, will beat the UV-5R every time.

As for us, we’re not junking any of our collection of UV-5R radios, but future purchases will all be of the F8HP.  Who knows what evolving needs and scenarios might come to pass, and you can never have too much range or battery life in your radio (although note that the UV-5R can also accept the same battery, and both can also use the extended battery or battery eliminators too).

The post The New Baofeng BF-F8HP – A Worthy Successor to the UV-5R appeared first on Code Green Prep.

Review: Baofeng UV-5R Dual Band Handheld HAM Radio Transceiver.

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I recently purchased Baofeng UV-5R  hand held transceiver. With intent of using this as my go to radio instead of the regular Uniden GMRS radios. This give me the capability to communicate using the FRS, GMRS and HAM frequencies. I am currently working on the Technician license to operate it legally on HAM frequencies. The wattage is … Continue reading Review: Baofeng UV-5R Dual Band Handheld HAM Radio Transceiver.

Little Things We Take For Granted (1)

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Sometimes the old-fashioned things are also the best and most reliable.

Sometimes the old-fashioned things – like this phone – are also the best and most reliable.

This is the first of a series of short articles about things in our lives we take for granted but which we need to consider in our preparing.

Today’s topic is the telephone.  Not that fancy smart phone you have in your pocket, and not the multi-station cordless system you have at home, either.

We’re talking about really simple and basic hard-wired phones.  You know, landline phones that are powered from the phone line itself – the type of phone we all used to have.  Phones with no caller ID or other display, no built-in answering machine, no memories, no multiple lines, no built-in intercoms; phones with nothing at all except a dial and handset.

You probably have a phone or two like that somewhere at home at present, and maybe you’ve sometimes looked at it disdainfully and thought you really must get around to junking it.  Don’t do that!  Keep it as part of your emergency ‘power out’ kit.

The value of this type of phone is that in a power outage, all our cordless phones will die.  In a severe power outage, the cell phone towers will die – maybe not immediately, because many have backup batteries or onsite generators to give them some minutes or even hours of power, but definitely later if not sooner.  Cell phone service also has a mixed record when it comes to availability.  Some severe events have seen the cell phone towers all massively overloaded, making it impossible to place or receive phone calls.

Note that in such cases, you should try sending text messages.  They use a different part of the cell towers’ bandwidth, and can usually get sent and received even when there’s no dial tone or ability to make voice calls.

In a disruptive situation, our landlines may prove to be more resilient.

A word of warning, though.  You not only need an old-fashioned phone, you need an old-fashioned ‘POTS’ (Plain Old Telephone Service) type landline too.  If you get your regular phone service through your cable or internet company, or if you get your regular phone service through a fiber optic line, then you are again relying on electricity to drive your phone service at your dwelling, and also relying on electricity through all the electronic switching and processing that goes on, invisibly to you, between the side of your dwelling and the central office where the phone signal is patched into the regular ‘old fashioned’ phone network.

If you no longer have one, we’re not necessarily saying you should spend extra to maintain a POTS type phone line at your residence.  Depending on your need to communicate, and who else you’d wish to communicate with, maybe you’re better off with radio transceivers.

But we are saying that if you do still have a regular POTS phone line into your home, be sure to have a regular ‘old fashioned’ phone to use with it, too.  Amazon of course offer several types of traditional phone, and currently a standard white color corded phone is showing as only $10.

Note that if you have a very old phone that is now your emergency phone, it is appropriate to test it out once every half year or so.  Some of the electrical components inside it (particularly electrolytic capacitors) start to fail after about 20 years, and the last thing you want is to discover your super-emergency phone has failed, unnoticed, at some time in the past.

Come to think of it, maybe spending $10 for a new phone that will be more likely to be trouble-free for the next decade or two might be a good idea!

One final comment, which lifts this out of the category of a little thing and into the category of a more appreciable investment.  We know of many corporations that have issued all their key executives and other essential personnel with satellite phones.  No matter what happens to the cell phone towers and the landlines, the satellites up in the sky are likely to remain operational, making a satellite phone probably the most fault-tolerant and guaranteed to work of all communication systems.

We’ll write about satellite phones separately, but for now, a quick heads-up is that the Iridium phones have consistently tested to be the best, the several times we’ve tested them and the other brands/services.  There’s no need to get the latest model with the most features.  A refurbished older model works just as well for most purposes and situations.

Satellite phones need a direct view of the sky.  If you’re in an apartment building with your windows facing out onto other apartment buildings, your reception may be marginal.  But if you can go outside somewhere where you can see much of the sky above you, free of obstructions, then they’ll work perfectly, everywhere.

The post Little Things We Take For Granted (1) appeared first on Code Green Prep.

The Eye in the Sky is Watching You, Ever More Closely

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You can see the stripes on the ground in this very clear 20" resolution image.  New commercial satellites have four times better resolution.

You can see the stripes on the ground in this very clear 20″ resolution image. New commercial satellites have four times better resolution.

Today marked a watershed moment in our privacy.  A new commercial satellite was launched with four times better than before imaging capabilities, further reducing our privacy.

There was a time when getting privacy in our retreat was an easy and simple concept.  Choose a location away from the main roads, and you knew that as long as the parts of your retreat that you wished to keep private were not visible from any other property or public land or vantage point, you could enjoy privacy.

Ah, for the good old days!  The situation these days is enormously different, but perhaps you don’t realize just how different it has become.

Sure, we’ve known about ‘spy satellites’ in vague terms for a very long time.  The U-2 and SR-71 spy planes are now matters of public record.  But we’ve sort of assumed that these military/intelligence resources would not be deployed to snoop on what we were doing in our back yard, but would instead be solely focused on our actual and potential enemies.

For the last several decades, if you think about it, there has also been available commercial imagery and aerial mapping taken by planes that would be engaged to fly over an area and take ‘birds eye’ photos – such a harmless and appealing term.  This type of resource was expensive and, as best most of us knew, little used for ‘general purposes’ (whatever those might be!).  Our backyards were still reasonably private.

More recently, we’ve been treated to products such as Google Maps and Google Earth, and a number of other similar services, and we’ve noted with interest and excitement how we can see pictures of pretty much anywhere on the planet, typically taken sometime in the last five years or so, and of varying degrees of quality.

This has started to gently sound alarm bells, although the thought of having one’s retreat fuzzily photographed once is perhaps not a heart-stopping fear.

But have you kept track with the evolving capabilities not just of the Google products, but of all the other providers (and, even more alarming, perhaps, users) of aerial imagery?

For example, the chances are your county has a Geographic Database or Information System (GDS or GIS) that includes aerial mapping of the entire county.  Sometimes these services are ‘in-house’ only, for county employees, sometimes they are publicly published on a website for anyone, anywhere to access.

Usually these services reveal no more data that you can already see on Google, but think about the implications of this.  Many counties now have their tax assessors using the GIS and associated aerial mapping images to check the validity and completeness of their records of building structures and improvements.  If you add a new structure to your lot, they’ll see it and may come knocking on your door, enquiring where the permits are for its construction, and adjusting your property valuation to reflect the new additions.

Indeed, if you even do something relatively minor, like adding on to your deck, they’ll see this too and that may also trigger a visit and inspection.

Of course, the ‘good news’ part of this was that the overhead imagery was only taken infrequently.  If they take one picture every five years, that means there’s only one chance in 1826 that on any given day your property might be photographed.  So if you are working on a project that you’d rather not share, and if it is a five-day project, at the end of which, your site will be returned back to looking pretty much the same as always, you have one chance in 365 of being photographed during the process.  Those are reasonably favorable odds.  And even if you were photographed, the reasonably fuzzy picture and the lack of any evidence subsequently could allow for various different interpretations as to what happened and why.

That is no longer the case.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and first look at the two – increasingly three – types of aerial photography collection systems.

Note also that this article primarily focuses on visual – photographic imagery.  There are many other types of overhead data collection such as infra-red, radar, and so on.  Some weather sites offer examples of some of these other types of capabilities.  There are also satellites that can analyze the type of vegetation in an area, satellites that can make educated guesses about what types of minerals might be underneath your ground, and satellites that can detect if the earth has been disturbed.  So, ahem, if you were hoping to grow something that might otherwise embarrass you, or hoping to dig and bury something unnoticed, or if you’ve created some sort of underground structure, all of those things too might be detected by some of the other types of overhead monitoring satellites.

There are two main types of overhead photo imagery.  The first is that which is collected by a satellite, and the second is that which is collected by a plane.

Spy Satellites

Spy satellites – more properly generally called ‘Earth Observation Satellites’ and indeed these days, being a mix of both military (spy) and commercial (public) satellites – are generally located somewhere from about 250 miles above the earth up to about 1,000 miles above the earth.  Higher up satellites see more of the planet at any time, and stay in orbit longer (due to less friction from the outer fringes of our atmosphere).  But lower down satellites see things more clearly, because they are closer to the ground and don’t have as much atmosphere obscuring and blurring their vision.

Spy satellites do not hover over one spot.  Satellites need to be way high, at about 22,000 miles up, to ‘hover’ over a spot and that’s clearly too far away to be able to get clear photography.

Instead, they are all the time traveling in orbits around the planet, typically taking two hours or less to do a complete orbit, and because the earth is rotating beneath them, they see a different ‘slice’ of the planet each time they go around.  By having multiple satellites in complementary orbits, it is possible to have most of the planet within view of a spy sat for much of every day.

Spy satellites have military value because they can ‘safely’ overfly anywhere on the planet to get imagery.  We use quotes around the word ‘safely’ because in theory they are vulnerable to anti-satellite weapons, but to date and with only a very few rare exceptions, no country has deliberately shot down overhead satellites that pass overhead, and instead they seem to be allowed to overfly without interference.

Although satellite orbits can be changed, doing so uses up valuable fuel, and the useful life of a satellite is in large part limited by how long its onboard fuel lasts, so the military is reluctant to reposition satellites too often.  This means that even only moderately sophisticated countries can track and anticipate when overhead satellites will be passing and plan their activities around such passes.

Indeed, with the wonders of the internet, you too can now tell when at least some of the spy satellites are overhead – there’s an iPhone app that will tell you.  But note the two limitations of this app – first, it only includes officially acknowledged satellites.  It does not report on any of the more secretive satellites, and neither does it alert you to the most detailed type of photo reconnaissance of all – that done by airplane.  Second, although it tells you when a satellite is approaching, it can’t tell you if the cameras on board are actually pointing at you or not.  The cameras on some satellites can be remotely controlled and pointed in specific areas, and also zoomed in or out.

How good a picture can a spy satellite take?  The short answer is ‘more than good enough’, at least in terms of their ability to reasonably accurately capture the private details of what we’re doing in our own backyards.

A more detailed answer has to consider a number of factors.  An obvious variable is the weather between the satellite and the ground.  On a clear day with no haze, the satellite camera can capture a better image than if there is smoke, dust, smog, or natural effects such as clouds and rain.

Assuming a best case scenario, the resolution quality of spy satellite imagery is a closely guarded secret.  Early satellites could only make out details greater than 40 feet in size.  That would not pick up people or even cars, and struggled to pick up smaller sized houses.  But a lot has progressed since then.

This webpage (and many others) claim that some current satellites can resolve details as small as 5″ – 6″ in size, and they seem to be relying on a 1998 news item to base that claim.

Rumors have long existed of satellites being able to read the number plate on a vehicle.  We don’t know if this is true or not, but it seems reasonable to assume that the state of the art in spy satellite imagery is much better than the state of the art in commercial imagery, and it also seems reasonable to assume that whatever is public knowledge is a generation or two behind the current state of the art capabilities.  One more reasonable assumption – technologies have improved from that which the military agreed to disclose in 1998 to what it is keeping secret today, 16 years later.

On the other hand, it isn’t always necessary for spy satellites to have an HDTV type resolution quality of the entire world and to not only read the registration plate on your car but also the writing on the document in your hand.  For military purposes, it is usually sufficient to be able to identify equipment, understand their locations, and get reasonable estimates of manpower and other related functionalities.  More tactical intelligence gathering however can be enormously enhanced if you can track specific vehicles (and more so again if you can track specific people).

So perhaps, after reaching a certain resolution sufficient for strategic imaging and analysis, the R&D effort backed off some.  Furthermore, there are some ‘can’t be broken’ limits on the quality that can ever be obtained from a camera moving at 20,000+ mph, 200+ miles above you.

But if we had to make a wild guess, we’d guess that the best state of the art satellite imagery currently up there is probably capable of a 2″ – 2.5″ resolution, and maybe even better, particularly when enhanced with computer enhancing, averaging of multiple images, and the use of stereoscopic pictures.  That’s probably enough for a satellite picture to tell if you have a 16″ or an 18″ barrel on your rifle, but not quite good enough to tell if it is all barrel, or part barrel and part silencer.  They’ll be able to tell if the lady of the house, if sunbathing, has had a ‘Brazilian’ or not, and so on.

This type of resolution isn’t quite good enough to read your license plate, but it is very close and quite possibly a computer enhancement could recognize that certain types of blurs were more likely to represent some characters whereas other blurs might represent other characters.

Spy satellites do a lot more than ‘just’ take photos, but the photo imagery is the part of greatest interest to us.

Commercial satellites are now launching that mimic many of the capabilities of the spy satellites, and indeed the military has started buying imagery from commercial satellites in addition to its direct capabilities.  Until June 2014, commercial satellites were not allowed to take ‘good’ quality images, but now they are allowed to take images with resolutions down to 10″.  The previous 20″ limit has been a ridiculous restriction – the ‘other side’ almost certainly has imagery abilities comparable to our own, so the only people being restricted from access to good quality satellite imagery was ourselves – US civilians.  Why restrict our access when potential enemies already has good access through their own resources?

The first of this new generation of high quality commercial imaging satellites launched today, successfully, from Vandenberg AFB in California.

Now for a key point.  If the restriction is now set at 10″ (actually, 25 cm), then the very fact that there is a restriction limiting commercial providers from capturing better quality imagery clearly shows that there is a readily deployed technology to do so.  How long will it be before the commercial providers get approval to start doing 5″ imagery, or maybe even still higher quality?

Spy Planes

Of course, just as how the reference to spy satellites these days has to be widened to also encompass a growing number of commercial satellites, the same is true of ‘spy planes’.  Commercial aerial photography has been around for a long time; the main distinction between it and spy plane based photography is that the latter tends to be done over territory where the plane shouldn’t be, and so is generally done higher and faster than is the case with civil/commercial planes and photography.

Commercial aerial photography can be done from as low as 1,000 ft or, (at least in the days of the SR-71), as high as probably about 100,000 ft (a comment at the bottom of this article claims 120,000 ft).  The U-2 has a maximum altitude somewhere in excess of 70,000 ft.  100,000 ft is the same as 19 miles and 70,000 ft the same as 13 miles, so clearly spy planes, even when at maximum altitude, are much closer down to the ground than satellites, and so are capable of taking much more detailed pictures.

Because commercial flights are at the lowest altitudes, they can offer the best resolution of all, but only when overflying authorized areas.  This makes them great for regular purposes but not so good for military reconnaissance.

However, from our perspective, any and every type of overhead imagery may reveal more details of what we have on our land than we would wish to be public knowledge.  There’s no such thing as a better or worse type of aerial photography.  It is all equally intrusive.

Drones Too

It seems you can’t open a newspaper these days without reading another story about someone and their drone.  The original drones – the large-sized bomb toting remote piloted aircraft used by the military – are of course enormously expensive and require very specialized support resources.

We have seen the military transition from large-sized expensive drones to now having tiny ‘personal’ type drones which individual squads can deploy for immediate tactical information on the battlefield around them.  You launch them by simply throwing them into the wind by hand.  They are small, affordable, and easy to operate.

The same is true of civilian drone technology.  These days you can buy a ‘drone’ yourself, typically a multi-element helicopter type unit with maybe four, six or eight sets of rotating helicopter blades.  These units come complete with a high quality gimbal/gyro-stabilized HD video camera and realtime video downlink, are priced at about $1000 – and some models are available for half that price.  They are usually battery-powered and have an operating range, standard, of about half a mile or so.

Their operating ability is limited by their battery life and the radio reception between them and the control unit.  If you boosted the remote controller and the onboard receiver’s radios, you could increase the distance they’d operate from you and the controller substantially, but their ‘loiter time’ – the total time they can be aloft on a single charge – seems to presently be limited to about 20 – 30 minutes.

These wonderfully low-cost and very sophisticated devices can take high quality high-resolution aerial photograph pretty much anywhere you wish.  They can be used for ongoing surveillance and aerial mapping type projects, and can also be used, the same as the new small military drones, for tactical intelligence when confronting an opposing force.

You not only have to be aware of the potential presence of drones in your skies, you should also consider buying one (or several) for your own present and future use.  They can help you manage your crops, they can help you see into forests to understand their tree cover and density, and in the future, if you find yourself challenged by unwanted visitors, they can help you safely scout out their location and numbers and capabilities.

While there is a morass of legal issues surrounding drone use, that doesn’t seem to be slowing down anyone from rushing to buy and use these devices.

The Evolving Capabilities of Google and its Competitors

Google keeps getting ‘better’ in terms of the vast store of information it compiles, collates, and publishes.  The first version of its Maps and Earth products had limited and low resolution aerial imagery.  But now, the imagery has become much better quality, can be manipulated (for example, you can look at objects from four different angles), is updated more regularly, and you can even see a historical time series of data.

The historical data series can be very revelatory.  Rather than just seeing a single image, you see a time series of images which helps you understand if an area is being increasingly developed, or increasingly abandoned, and you can spot the shifts of things from one image to the next.  Sometimes simply seeing no change is also a significant data point.

This historical time series is about to become extraordinarily more detailed.  Google has bought a satellite company (Skybox Imaging) and intends to launch 24 of its own satellites, which between them all will be able to photograph everywhere on earth, three times every day.

The satellites also have video capabilities as well as capturing traditional still images.

That’s not to say that just because the satellites could take three pictures of your property every day, that it will be done, and that’s not to say that historical timelines will now have up to 1000 images per year.  But you can be sure that pretty much the entire US will be re-photographed several times each year, and the entire country will now be captured in best quality resolution rather than selectively in standard or low resolution as has been the case at present.  It sort of makes sense to have summer and winter pictures, and maybe spring and fall too.

So, within a few years, anyone will be able to see highly detailed time series of pictures of practically anywhere on the planet.  That will not only allow them to see the changes to your property, but it will also enable them to see how much cropping you are doing, how many animals you have in your pastures, and even how much washing you are hanging on the line to dry.  It will be obvious if a place is occupied or not, and possible to make some reasonable guesses as to how many people are living there.

Summary

These days it is necessary to accept that we have no privacy.  Sure, we might be obscured from the nearest road and neighbor, but aerial photography will reveal pretty much everything about our land and retreat that can be seen from the sky.

Opsec?  We never thought it was possible to start with (for example, see our article written back in May 2012, before the latest profusion of satellite technologies, ‘Is it realistic to expect your retreat will not be found‘).  Nowadays, hoping to conceal your retreat is impossible.

You need to plan your future based on the expectation that everyone who you’d wish not know anything about you will sadly know everything about you.

The post The Eye in the Sky is Watching You, Ever More Closely appeared first on Code Green Prep.

Antenna Search: How to find or avoid Cell Towers Near you

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cell phone towers

Antenna Search is a website that i stumbled on after reading Survivalblog.com, it is a great program because just inputting an address into the search bar can show you all the cell phone towers and antennas within a 4 mile radius.

Now this can be helpful for two different things…

 

1) To make sure you can have cell phone reception in areas you are traveling to and/or through

2) More for preppers, you may be looking for a bug out location and/or retreat location and you may want this to be truly off the grid…and this means NO CELL PHONES!

Watch the video, its real easy!

 

ANTENNASEARCH.COM

 

 

CHECK OUT AND JOIN THE GREAT NORTHERN PREPPER FORUM, LEARN, DISCUSS AND SHARE!

 

Want to help support the site? find out more here! Or just click the amazon link below, bookmark it and go there every time you shop on Amazon, it costs you nothing more, but they will kick back a portion of your purchase to the site to help run things smoothly and keep you informed!

 

 

Amazon GNP help

 

10 SHTF Preppers Communications

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10 SHTF Preppers Communications

Top 10 SHTF Communications. Comms are vital in an emergency situation and Cell phones could be shut down in certain situations.
Cell Phone
Multi-Band Scanner
AM/FM Radio
Weather Radio
Shortwave Radio
FRS Radios
GMRS Radios
CB Radios
Marine
Ham / Amateur Radio
Tags: SHTF, Communications, Comms, Prepper, Survival, Survivalist, Doomsday Preppers