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

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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

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Lessons Learned from One Second After

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

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

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

Here is my list of lessons learned:

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

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

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

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lessons from the walking deadThe Walking Dead is one of those rare TV shows that, like prepping, captures the zeitgeist of its time. No, not that the dead are actually rising, but rather that we cannot rely on the government to save us and the modern infrastructure we rely on so heavily is all too easily disrupted, broken, or even destroyed.

For those who haven’t watched the shows, TWD focuses more on living humans and their actions and interactions than with zombies, per se. Zombies are part of the setting, just as starships and other planets are the setting for science fiction movies. Just as Star Trek isn’t about the Enterprise itself, TWD isn’t about the undead except when it impacts the living. (TWD usually calls the undead “walkers” because they are the walking dead, but never, ever refers to them as zombies.)

You can survive anywhere – or die there

The series started in 2010 and has a recent spin-off called Fear the Walking Dead that takes place in Los Angeles and Baja California. The original series starts in Georgia, eventually moving to the DC suburbs. People who choose to bug in survive in all kinds of places on both coasts. Survivors are found in remote cabins and farms, but also in towns, cities, and even a prison. As time goes on, the survivors find walled suburbs and fortified towns built or modified to keep danger out.

Whether it’s Father Gabriel hiding in his isolated church with the windows boarded up or Tara and her family hiding in a small apartment building in a small town, those who survive are the ones who gathered supplies and locked themselves into a safe place and stayed there while the initial danger raged outside their doors. They didn’t get complacent, they didn’t take unnecessary risks, and they didn’t give up when things looked bad.

As the series continues, the main characters come across many places where those fortunate circumstances didn’t happen. In one suburb with a pre-apocalypse brick wall, the residents gathered supplies and locked themselves in for safety. Unfortunately, someone died and came back to life as a walker. Everyone in the community died because they assumed once they shut those gates, all was safe inside. They weren’t prepared to defend themselves from threats within their walls, to run, or even to hide somewhere else until they could escape.

It’s never “all safe”, not even before an apocalypse. Being physically and mentally capable of defending yourself and your family, and having the knowledge and equipment you need to do so, can make the difference between life and death in the worst disasters and between having looters, and worse, take what is yours in even a short-term situation, such as a localized natural disaster.

Mindset, knowledge, and the right goods don’t always trump location, but they can make the difference between a good outcome and a bad one in most places.

Rationing and bingeing lessons from TWD

Rationing is a logical action to take when food, water, and specific goods are scarce. If you are traveling, be careful how much water you drink because you never want to run out of water. (Also, carry a water filter and know how to find water using techniques like plant transpiration, but that’s a different topic.)

However, there are also times to binge. When you are next to a stream, purify the water and drink your fill. There is more water in that stream than you can carry, even if you wanted to. If you have a #10 can of chocolate pudding and will be moving on soon, go ahead and eat the whole thing because, really, who can carry a #10 can of pudding without spilling it and keep their eyes peeled for danger on the road? No one. Opportunities to really eat your fill may be rare, so enjoy the ones you find.

You never know how long you could be stuck, or when you will be forced to flee in a hurry. I lived in Los Angeles for years and was always struck by how little notice people were given to evacuate in front of forest fires or mudslides. Things can happen fast, so be prepared. In addition to your bug out bag, store some food in a grab-and-go container for an emergency evacuation. Those just-add-water meals in a lightweight bucket like this one, are easy to carry and the meals are super quick to prepare.

Scavenging goods

In one of the first episodes, the main group of characters are looking around a store in Atlanta, gathering things they need. It hasn’t been that long since things fell apart and they aren’t thinking long-term. No one grabs a hat to shade their head and neck, sunglasses, or even a backpack, nor do they grab spices and other food. It makes me a bits nuts every time I see it, but they are in the beginning of the end of their world and aren’t thinking ahead to what supplies will be most important.

If you are able to think about what you need long-term from the very start, like right now, you will end up in a much better place than those who don’t. That store is far from the last one these characters will enter during the series, but by the time they get there, most have been cleaned out by looters. In that first store, when they had the opportunity, the group left resources there that could have made their lives easier. They just weren’t thinking in terms of survival and priorities.

A time may come when you will need to travel through a dangerous area or neighborhood in order to acquire an item you need immediately, such as medication. You won’t need to cover yourself in zombie guts to walk through the undead, but dressing to blend in is a great way to remain safe if you have to make your way through a hostile crowd. Camouflage is your friend in a disaster.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between scavenging and plain old theft, read this.

Surviving other survivors

As we learn in TWD, sometimes other survivors are willing to help you. Sometimes they want to eat you for dinner. Sometimes they fall apart at the worst possible moment, in the worst possible way. And every now and then, they are better than you ever imagined possible.

Information

When you meet new survivors, it’s almost a given that they won’t give you all the relevant information right away. Their priority is to protect themselves. In the second season of TWD, the group arrives at an operational CDC facility with plenty of food, comfortable beds, and hot showers. The lone remaining CDC staffer lets them in with a warning that they can’t leave.

This survivor neglects to mention the generators are almost out of diesel fuel and the system will automatically lock everything down and blow the place to kingdom come within twelve hours. The stress and loss destroyed him, and he truly believed all was already lost, so it didn’t really matter. By withholding some pretty crucial information it was too late, the group almost died as a result.

Of course, there are times when other survivors provide helpful information. One survivor, Aaron directs the group to safe roads and provides directions to the walled town he lives in.

One thing is for sure, reliable information is going to be one of the first casualties in a big enough crisis and being able to contact others via ham radio or have a heavy duty, reliable shortwave radio on hand (with extra batteries!), will go a long way in providing not just information but peace of mind when you know what’s going on “out there”.

PTSD

Sasha laying on a pit of dead bodies. Father Gabriel’s guilt over not letting his flock into the church with him. Rick hallucinating phone calls from his dead wife. Shane.

The end of the world as we know it is stressful. Some people don’t show the worst effects for longer than others, but it hits everyone eventually. Even the strongest reach their breaking point eventually, and PTSD can become the norm if the situation goes on long enough. (There is a theory that one reason the wild west was so wild was because a lot of Civil War vets were suffering from PTSD.)

It is important to look after your own mental health and that of those around you. Getting caught up in survival to the point that you neglect your mental health is all too easy. Don’t! No matter how hard it is, find time to take a break and to enjoy any family and loved ones around you.  Know the physical and emotional limits for you and your loved ones. When you have reached them, tell those with you that need help before you fall apart. If you see others reaching their limit, help them if you can, even if they haven’t asked.

During stressful times, even when you’re not hiding in abandoned buildings on the lookout for walkers, you might want to treat yourself and your loved ones to a favorite comfort food, or pull out a hidden package of cookies. These can be a good bribe to keep kids, especially, quiet and on task. As we learn in TWD, noise discipline can be one of the biggest factors in some survival scenarios.

The important concept is to monitor yourself and members of your group for signs of PTSD and take steps to avert it, if possible. This book explains how to do that in more detail.

The Walking Dead

I’ve watched this series from the beginning. Yes, it’s unrealistic in that it’s about the undead, but it is hugely popular among preppers, in part, because of the survival lessons it teaches. Danger comes in many forms. A crying child or lowing herd of cattle can bring unwanted attention and danger. House windows and doors are easily broken. But the two things that bring the most danger are panic and carelessness.

What lessons have you learned from The Walking Dead?

lessons from the walking dead

 

HAM RADIO expert Robert Hawkins!

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

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How to Reliably Communicate Off-Grid

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Those vast open landscapes, however, expose an area that most preppers pay little attention to normally, which is how to communicate over those vast areas of land and communicate off-grid completely when needed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next came the deck of flashcards teaching the Phonetic Alphabet.

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

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


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

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

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

Dare say it… it’ll be CHILD’S PLAY.

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

The post Alpha Bravo Creations: Tactical Hand Signals & Phonetic Alphabet Flash Cards appeared first on American Preppers Network.

7 Reasons to Protect Your Devices Against Electromagnetic Pulse

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protect electronics from electromagnetic pulse

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

EMP risk

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

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

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

EMP Report

EMP Report

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

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

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

Reality check

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

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

EMP characteristics

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

So what’s the point of protecting electronics?

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

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

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

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

Actions you can take to protect your electronics from EMP

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

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

An old metal first aid box makes a decent Faraday Cage

An old metal first aid box makes a decent Faraday Cage

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

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

Surge Suppressor

Invest in quality surge suppressors

The Cloud

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

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

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

A last thought

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

Read more about life after EMP

More information here on this blog

protect electronics from electromagnetic pulse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Survival Energy Product Makes Every Window A Powerful Solar Charger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I need a Handheld BAOFENG UV-5R HAM Radio?

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Original article BAOFENG UV-5R REVIEW & GUIDE from www.bugoutbagbuilder.com Communication during an emergency between yourself and your friends and family is so crucial that it almost goes without saying. Yet have you considered what you would do if the phone networks went down? What if thereRead More

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Should I get a $30 Handheld BAOFENG UV-5R HAM Radio?

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Original article BAOFENG UV-5R REVIEW & GUIDE from www.bugoutbagbuilder.com Communication during an emergency between yourself and your friends and family is so crucial that it almost goes without saying. Yet have you considered what you would do if the phone networks went down? What if thereRead More

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Survival Communication!

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

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

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

Exploring the best options for every scenario, this hands on guide features detailed information on multiple emergency communication systems, including satellite radio, shortwave, NOAA receivers, GMRS/FRS radios, citizen band, ham radio, radio scanners and MURS radio.
Visit the 7P’s of Survival Website HERE! 
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Listen to this broadcast or download “Survival Communication w/ Jim Cobb” in player below!

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HAM Radio Basics

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HAM Radio Basics We all know the importance of communications, with our lives seemingly touched every moment by the internet and cell phones.  The Internet and the Cellular Network require a vast and complicated infrastructure, one that is vulnerable to hackers, weather, CME’s, and even governments.  If this vast structure were to fail, how would …

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Ham Radio: Not Just For Science Nerds

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sci nerdsMy status as a prepper means I’ve developed something of a varied skill set over the years, from spinning wool to the martial arts. So you’d think by now I’d have learned to think twice when the thoughts, “Oh, I could never do that,” and “that kind of thing isn’t for people like me,” enter my head.

I used to think that way about canning fruit, but now I can knock out a batch of apple pie filling in like an hour and a half and it’s not even a big deal. But it took quite a bit of nudging for me to think that ham radio was something I could add to my ever-growing list of hobbies, especially given my status as a liberal arts (not science) major.

My high school in Texas had a very active ham radio club. They advertised their club meetings aggressively and were very active in trying to recruit more members. I ignored them because I mistakenly thought that ham radio was for a much different class of nerd than the one I occupied. Specifically: the class of people who know what capacitors and resistors are and what they do, can solder things, collect wires, and think mistakes in circuits are the best kinds of jokes. I certainly had a thing for Star Trek, but was more of a Latin Club, Lord of the Rings kind of gal. Ham radio wasn’t for people like me.

Why now?

Given my status as a stay-at-home mom of three kids, communication in an emergency is something that has weighed heavily on my mind as we’ve refined our preparation strategy. What if, in a scenario that involved downed cellphone towers and zero internet access, I desperately needed to send for help? Amateur radio has a proven track record and is known to be an excellent means of communication in times like I have described. It helped that some folks in my neighborhood asked me to be the go-to emergency preparedness person; that gave me the nudge I needed to bite the bullet and get my Technician’s license.

With some trepidation, I checked out the ARRL liscensing manual from the library and spent some time reading through it. I wasn’t very many pages in when I looked up from my studying and asked my electrical engineering-major husband, “How come I’m the one getting into this stuff and not you? You could probably pass the exam without even studying at all.” Much of the study material was far outside my comfort zone. I managed to find time to study several nights a week for the better part of a month, and with the help of online study aides like Ham Study and Ham Exam I successfully passed the licensing exam on my first try.

The Test.

I signed up for a crash-course of sorts that took place before the exam, in hopes that it would fill in any gaps in my studying. I went in there expecting to find mostly stereotypical engineer-nerd types: guys ranging in their early 20s to mid 40s with little dress sense and worse social skills. The type of people who actually attended surprised me. I sat in between two silver-haired ladies, both of whom loved nothing more than to regale me with stories about their grandchildren. A middle-aged guy sitting in back of me attended the class with his two teenage daughters and his mother-in-law.

I also had the false expectation that old-timers in radio would scoff and roll their eyes at the idea of a housewife trying to become a ham, much like one sees in the gamer community. (“Pfft, n00bs.”) Quite to the contrary, all the hams with whom I’ve interacted have been overjoyed to welcome more people into their fold. When I contacted the local university if I could, as an alumna, participate in their radio club, the advisor gave me an enthusiastic affirmative response. It’s a little like a religious movement in this aspect – underneath everything, hams feel a glimmer of hope that they can convert everyone they know.

The test itself is set up for this. It covers only the bare minimum of what new hams should know before getting on the air. All test questions and answers are open to the public, so you could easily, if you were so inclined, simply memorize the correct answers without actually understanding anything about radio. The clear goal is to freely give people the tools needed to get started, in hopes that they will get “the bug.” Many of the questions are simple enough that children as young as ten can and do pass the exam and become licensed amateur radio operators. This should be a lesson for us all – if a kid can do it, there’s no reason why any literate adult can’t do the same.

My experience, so far.

I want to reiterate that my experience with amateur radio has not been easy-breezy. I studied International Relations and Area Studies in college, not circuits and sine waves, so the technical aspect was quite challenging for me. I did find, to my relief, that this branch of knowledge was not beyond my understanding. That didn’t stop me from closing my study manual at regular intervals to throw my hands into the air with the impassioned lament, “I don’t even know why I’m doing this. I’m not a technical person. This is crazy. It’s not even like I’ve always wanted to do this, it’s just a dumb idea that popped into my head one day.”

These are thoughts that I’m sure plague all of us when trying to learn a new skill, especially when it doesn’t come right away. Even though it was hard, I can see the value in having taken the time to study and learn about the subject, independent of having obtained my license. How many of us carry smart phones around with us every day? How many of us have wifi installed in our homes? Those things are such a major part of our modern lives, but do we understand even the basics of how they work?

The reading I did to prepare for my exam gave me a new appreciation for technology we so often take for granted. It’s something I feel everyone should look into, regardless of whether you decide to become a ham. Not only that, but stretching myself was (and is!) enriching and has been the cause of personal growth.

It’s been good for my kids to watch me take this step, as well. Mostly they think it’s cool; my six-year-old made a radio transceiver out of legos, and my three-year-old drew a picture of some mysterious technical device that required a “big call sign!” in order to work. On a more serious note, I believe that their observation of me has taught them that learning and growing is not something that stops when you get your diploma; it’s a life-long endeavor.

I hope that my experience will inspire more people like me – those of you in the liberal arts, who never thought of doing something “technical” – to give ham radio a chance. You’ll be glad you did.

More resources for AMATEUR RADIO:

October Skill of the Month: Amateur (Ham) Radio

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ham radio skillWhat is Ham radio?

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

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

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

How can it be useful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the requirements for a license

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you need to get started?

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

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

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

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

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

More resources for AMATEUR RADIO:

ham radio for beginners

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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