Off Grid Home Forums Technical Discussion what to do when they cut off communication? Re: what to do when they cut off communication?

Nick Rosen

I would not count on CB. You don’t want to talk to people on that band unless you have to. I’d much rather have a ham rig. Those radios are crude, limited in power, and lack features I have to have.

I have two types of Ham Radios, three actually if you count hand held radios. Handheld radios are small, low power but work well with repeaters.

Mobile radios meant to be used in cars, but that work great as a base station as well. They are the best choice. I have 7 of them in two models. Just so I can swap one out and all the control are similar. It makes them easier to use having just two models. I buy mostly used radios as Hams are often trading up to newer stuff, and the old radios work perfectly.

A battery and a solar charger will give you off-grid capability. There are auto switches to run on grid until a power outage and switch to off-grid sources.

So lets talk about 2 meter and 70cm. These are the most often used frequencies in what are called dual band radios. Line of sight radios can extend their range by talking into a repeater. A repeater retransmits your signal from the top of a high tower, with lots of power. A low power radio can link into a repeater and suddenly be able to reach someone quite far away–400 sq miles or perhaps much more. There are linked systems here in my home state, but there are even more common elsewhere, which link up many machines to cover perhaps half of a state. You can also talk direct from one radio to another–this is called simplex.

A dual band radio can often cross-band, which allows it to work like a mini repeater. Park your car in an open spot or on top of a hill, and as long as the battery holds out you can extend your range. I often used a handheld radio, when out sailing to link into my truck, which links into a repeater, which allows me to talk over a huge area with a small portable low power device. I would mostly use this to get weather reports of cold fronts coming in. If there were high winds reported, I’d run for cover in the harbor. In any event, the idea that you can easily set up a repeater of your own, for very little money–a radio, and antenna and a battery with some sort of weather enclosure, means that even if you live in a radio hole, you can still talk to friends far away. Think about this in an emergency situation. You can conceal your actual location and still hear and be heard.

It is a really smart idea to have a base station set up and on all the time. You can pick one quite frequency, or even set up your radio to remain silent until it hears a sub-audible tone–to avoid listening to other conversations not related to you or your family and friends. I chose a frequency used for satellite, an this particular satellite was dead, so I was not interferring with anyone else. Well it was not totally dead. The story was it ran out of maneuvering propellant and only worked twice a month when the solar panels lined up with the sun. I listened on that frequency for three months and never heard anything.

Then when you are out and about, you can check in and see where signals are strong and you can talk simplex, and where there are holes where you might need a repeater to get out. You will discover what works and what does not. Best, there is no monthly fee for this. Just a one-time cost to purchase the radios, and perhaps some repair work, if you burn it up from a mismatched antenna or talking too long on high power. Hams always try to use the least amount of power.

Have a radio in your car, a handheld in your purse or backpack, and one on your boat, and everyone can stay in touch if not directly, then buy repeater. Try it and you will see how many people do this, on a daily basis.

In the event of an emergency, Hams often volunteer to pass message traffic. They do this on HF bands–which are worldwide, as well as local bands like 2 meters.

The HF bands can be worldwide depending on sunspot cycles. It is good to be able to receive information on these bands, even if you can’t transmit. You can receive with a coat hanger for an antenna. You only need a good antenna and a tuner to transmit. Transmitting on HF takes more work, and it is something to try later on. You many find you have no need to talk on HF and you only want or need VHF bands like 2 meters. I agree with the other fellow about having a receiver and listening to it often to get familiar with how it works. be able to listen. Talking on HF is less important.

To talk locally with your friends, and for privacy, pick a band that no one uses like the 220 MHz band or you can even get radios on the 1.2 GHz band–this is up in the microwaves. Those are rarely used and the radios cost more. DSTAR radios can transmit data, albeit slowly compared with WiFi. My choice was 2 meter because that is where the people are talking. If I had a big family and we wanted a private network, or if I was part of a survivalist community, I’d use DSTAR radios on 1.2 GHz and send all my traffic in a digital format so other people could not listen in on it.

You should be able to get started with a used dual band radio in your car with an antenna for a $200.