From Flu Wiki 2

Forum: Communication

29 April 2006

Cosmo – at 00:40

Has anyone bought some sort of communication system?

I bought a shortwave radio on Ebay for $70 w/shipping. You can hear stations across the world plus AM and FM. The radio I bought runs off 3 AA batteries. It will also recharge NiCd batteries as well. I have been running the radio for over three weeks (~1 hour a night) for over three weeks and the batteries are still going strong. A SW radio with SSB reception (to listen to ham radio) will cost more but may be worth looking in to. Iíve also been researching buying a transmitter (to talk to other ham radio operators). They run about $400 on Ebay. You really need a license to transmit, but in an epidemic I donít think the government will fine you for transmitting without a license. I’m also looking in to buying a set of two-way radios with a 10 - 20 mile range. Does anyone have experience with these radios?

gs – at 00:52

how about “walkie-talkie” ? Do you have a solar-powered battery-recharger ? What are the best stations/frequencies for English panflu-news ? Can someone establish a fluwiki-radio-station on SW ? Is it expensive ?

w/ : with
AM : amplitude modulation
FM : frequency modulation (UKW)
AA :
NiCd : nickel-cadmium , rechargeable
SW : short-wave (long range low quality)
ham : ?

ricewiki – at 00:55

Cosmo, do you know how to get a licence to transmit? Is it just a matter of paying a certain amount, or is there more involved?

Cosmo – at 01:07

RiceWiki- You have to pass a test. In the past the test included learning Morse Code. Now you can receive the license without Morse Code requirement. It still requires some study

gs- AA : Double A batteries Ham Radio: wireless amateur radio communication. SSB: Single Side Band. The range of a frequency a ham radio operator transmits on

gs – at 01:13

what range has ham ? What does it cost to transmit radio which can be received worldwide with a radio like yours ?

SIPCT – at 01:37

For information on ham radio in the US, see the American Radio Relay League. Their website can be found at

Please, do it right. You really do need a license. No licensed operator will talk to you otherwise. Also, the government has started giving prison sentences in some cases of violations of the regulations. During a pandemic, if you interfere with emergency communications, you will be found and dealt with very quickly.

Look up the ARRL. Study and get licensed. Join the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Take the courses - Emergency Communications I, II, and III, and the FEMA ICS and NIMS courses.

It’s worth it.

gs – at 02:17

I don’t want to research a lot about ham. Just: how much time and money does it cost to send long-range SW-messages ?

Kim – at 07:21

Cosmo, the 2-way radios you speak of are very useful, just be aware that their range can be far less than what is stated on the package. The stated distance that the signal will carry is “line-of-sight”, or how far the signal would go if you are transmitting over flat, open terrain with no obstructions (no trees, buildings, etc). When you factor in hills, trees, buildings and so forth their range can drop considerably.

Cosmo – at 12:30


I figured the 20 mile range was a bit optimistic for the two way radio manufacture specifications. I would be happy if I could get two mile range. I live in the city and that’s the distance between my house and my parentís house. I have the food and my Dad has the guns. He’s not a preper but he is a gun collector. I’m a preper but my Wife hates guns. In a pinch I bought extra food to trade with him. Plus I want the two way radios to talk to my wife when I go out on recon missions for fire wood and any other supplies we may need

KimTat 17:31

What about cb radios, will they work?

SIPCT – at 17:41

The cheap walkie-talkies sold in Radio Shack and the like are in the Family Radio Service and operate at around 400 MHZ. They are strictly line-of-sight range at that frequency and with their low power. These radios would be useful for people working on your property out of sight of each other, and for tying together a neighborhood if the phone system fails. For that purpose, the best method would be a roll call on the air at an agreed on time or times each day, and turn the radios off the rest of the time. If you leave them turned on, they will need a new set of batteries every day.

The next step up is the General Mobile Radio service. These radios are larger, and have more transmitter power for longer range - out to around 5 miles or so in flat terrain, with luck. They also are in the 400 MHZ range - in fact, some of the FRS channels are also GMRS channels. They need more and larger batteries for their more powerful transmitters, and a license is required, although it is just a matter of mailing in the form provided.

Beyond that is the old “Class D Citizen’s Band” - CB, good buddy. These units typically operate from 12 volts DC, with 5 watts of transmitter power. The last I heard, the FCC had given up on trying to license operators or stations in this 27 MHZ circus, although they still try to enforce the laws on power limits and allowed frequencies. Depending on terrain, antenna height and type, and the condition of the ionosphere, the range may be from a few miles to worldwide - but don’t count on it for long range now; we are at or just past the minimum of the current sunspot cycle. Most long haul truckers still have CB on board, and some still use it. The prevailing language, although monotonous, would fry the ears off a muleskinner. Still, it could be useful for giving directions to the incoming supply truck.


The next step up is ham radio. A license is required, and you will have to pass a test. However, it is a multiple guess test, 35 questions from a question pool of 350 or so. All the possible questions are public knowledge. If you study, you will not see a question on the test that you did not see before. That - without Morse code! - will get you a technician class license. The Tech license allows you to use all amateur frequencies above 30 MHZ, with a transmitter power of up to - are you ready - 1,500 Watts. (Try doing THAT on battery power!) On the 2 meter band - 144 to 148 MHZ in the US - range is typically 20 - 50 miles, depending on antenna type and height, and transmitter power.

Many Amateur Radio clubs have built and operate repeaters - automatic relay stations, on the highest points they could arrange, and most with some form of back-up power. Using a repeater, it is possible to have contacts between two operators with handheld transceivers who are hundreds of miles apart. The repeater clubs listen to their machines, always, by law. Some of them run “hidden transmitter” hunts as contests. They will find unlicensed operators using their repeaters very quickly. In normal times, they would report such occurences to the FCC for law enforcement action. I do not know what they might do if you interfere with emergency communications during a pandemic, but I suspect it might involve something a lot more definite than a “notice of apparent violation.” You don’t want to find out. Get the license before you transmit.

You can get information on licensing, and ham radio in general, from the American Radio Relay League. Their website can be found at

To use the short wave frequencies assigned to the Amateur Radio Service, it is necessary to have a General or Extra Class license, and these do - sorry, folks - require that you pass a test in receiving Morse code, at 5 words [25 letters] per minute, as well as additional multiple guess testing. These are the frequencies that people usually connect with ham radio - from just above the AM broadcast band to 30 MHZ, and usually referred to as High Frequency or HF. A typical entry level 100 Watt output HF transceiver and a decent wire antenna strung between two trees will give you worldwide range a large part of the time, and coverage of about 1/3 of the US all the time.

In the event of a pandemic, ham radio operators - and frequencies - will be very busy with emergency communications. Ham radio supports disaster operations of the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, FEMA, state, county and town governments, the armed forces, and whoever else shows up. Ham radio is what works when all else fails. Ham radio was used to tie together all the Red Cross operating sites in NYC after 9/11. Ham radio was the ONLY communication left in parts of Mississippi immediately after Katrina.

As far as cost goes, FRS radios go for about $30 a pair, GMRS radios for about twice that. CB Radios go for about $80 - $150 or so. A 2 meter mobile ham transceiver will cost about $200 - $300, and an entry level HF transceiver with accessories will cost about $1,000 or so.

Eccles – at 18:27

SIPCT - Excellent summary. I might add that in the hands of a skilled operator, there is usually a way to get a message from where you are to almost anywhere else in the world using ham equipment. Depending upon propagation conditions. Many hams (such as myself) frequently operate in “contests” which are actually modelled around emergency communications conditions for fun and to stay sharp.

To amplify what was said above. Ham radio equipment requires a license to operate. Do not acquire equipment thinking that during troubled times you’ll operate and be forgiven. Those are the very times when unauthorized operations are most disruptive, and are dealt with exttremely harshly. Jail-time kind of harshly.

SIPCT – at 18:58

Eccles r u gd in qrz 73 de well, not here.

Eccles – at 19:13


r r r gd in qrz de same story

gs – at 19:24

thanks. Now I searched a little and found DRM, which sounds the most interesting to me.
I couldn’t find the prices and requirements for a transmitter. Maybe a smaller transmitter could be used to transmit private digial data to a DRM station, which sends it worldwide ?

gs – at 19:34

internetfree fluwiki-mailing list, so to speak. One sender, everyone can hear it.

30 April 2006

ricewiki – at 00:35

is this the right place to discuss one-way radios?

which ones do you recommend? I haven’t started looking at these yet.

Bridge Lifter – at 00:46

Monitoring single side band for HAM operators is a lot easier and cheaper than seting up a transmitter, generating power, getting a license, and learning how to operate the equipment.

lugon – at 05:00

lugon – at 05:02

The above would be a place to harvest whatever we grow here.

centex – at 10:23

at the Texas Summitt, it did come up that after hurricanes Katrina and Rita - all land phone lines were out, as were the cell towers. Ham Radio was the only mode of communication for 3 days.

ricewiki – at 23:02

is a HAM radio operator set portable? If you had a licence could you walk around with your set? Even a small set?

Eccles – at 23:33

Ricewiki - Equipment in the amateur radio service (Ham radio) ranges in size and complexity to small short range transceivers that will fit in the palm of your hand to major stations capable of reliable international communications.

anon_22 – at 23:37


“major stations capable of reliable international communications.”

I don’t need/can’t have a major station obviously but I do need reliable international communications as I have close family in 4 continents <sigh> so can you give me an example of something that might work for that purpose that won’t break the bank?

ricewiki – at 23:37

how very good… I think I’ll look into the idea of taking the HAM exams… I think I was a morse-code type in a past life anyway…;) anything to be self-sufficient!

anon_22 – at 23:48

Actually this might be a good place to ask the question properly in a different way:

I have close (immediate) family living in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia.

What options do I have to maintain communications with them? I have heard of these options but have no idea the pros and cons of each:

Ham radio
everyone getting two different types of isp for internet eg broadband via phoneline and broadband via satellite TV
satellite internet
satellite phone
dedicated phone lines
Any help is really really really appreciated thanks…

ps I already researched homing pigeons, problem is they s*** too much…lol

01 May 2006

Eccles – at 00:04

anon_22 -

regarding Ham radio. To maintain communications between Europe (where I beleve you are located) and North America, Europe and Asia and Europe and Australia, the requirement would be for a medium powered station (100 watts of transmitter power or higher) and a modest antenna (modest meaning at the very least a vertical antenna of about 25 feet height and some buried radial wires of about 30 feet length).

If the goal is STRICTLY to maintain communications for information transfer, if it were me, I would use telegraphy (I am a skilled morse operator), which would make it easier to get traffic through. For voice communications, the requirements on the antenna and on transmitter power would be a bit more presing.

In the US, a modest assemblage of new equipment to accomplish this could be obtained for about $1000. I suspect that the issue is not so much the money as it is learning what needs to be learned and then acquiring the proper licensure.

You may rest assured that the Ham radio community is thrilled to introduce newcomers to the hobby, and I have no doubt that a local radio club would have members that would be pleased to help you along the way to your goal.

One thought that you need to get straight is what the other end of your family is going to do to support the communication. if one of them is a Ham as well, then no problem. otherwise, you would be limited to the transfer of “Radiogram” types of traffic passed on your beahlf by stations on the receiving end. In many countries of the world, there are restrictions on the use of this “Third Party” traffic exchange, so it will vary on a country by country basis.

But I have taken note of several Hams on the Wikie, and any number of us would be pleased to provide you with much more complete info if you just ask.

(Then you have to figure out how to shut us off again)

ricewiki – at 00:26

Eccles, how does telegraphy work these days?

How is the signal carried, and what transmitting devices do you use now? Is a licence needed for this too? Seems like a cheaper route, although, learning morse again, that’ll take a while…

Eccles – at 00:35

Ricewiki - telegraphy is accomplished in the time honored manner of transmitting an unmodulated carrier wave which is interrupted by the key to create the morse characters in the signal. It is a regular radio transmission, and therefore requires licensing, same as any other type of radio transmission.

telegraphy is one of the modulation types which a Ham may select when he is attempting to establish and maintain long distance communication. Other type include FM modulation, AM modulation, Single Sideband modulation (a much more sophisticated form of AM modulation which requires special receiving circuitry to permit reconstruction at the receiving end) and numerous digital methods for transmittng typed traffic. The amateur community also has some satellites which can be used under the proper circumstances.

My personal equipment is capable of all of the above. I personally enjoy telegraphy, and compete in on-air contests to stay sharp. Minimum speed you need to demonstrate to get a license for the shortwave bands is 5 words-per-minute (30 characters per minute), but folks like myself tend to run at speeds of about 40 WPM. (We do slow down for beginners).

lugon – at 05:49

What would a better technology look like? I mean, resilience-wise. For the whole world. Easy to use. Useful.

Let’s dream a little, to see if in one month to a year we could “assist by wishing”?

There was this mentioned at

Kim – at 07:29

Eccles, or any other hams out there… I know that out local radio club has a repeater tower in town. Would having that repeater tower available mean that I could have a much smaller antenna? Cost is a factor for me, and if I could get by with a smaller antenna I figure that would reduce the cost somewhat.

Craig – at 08:36

Kim at 07:29, Be careful not to rely on a repeater tower that doesn’t have adequate power. The radio club likely has backup batteries or a generator to keep it operating in an emergency, but before getting a smaller antenna it might be useful to check with the club to see how long they could operate it without grid electricity.

Eccles – at 09:23

Kim - The repeater operates on frequencies that are inherently line-of-sight. This means that they are fairly short range. The equipment that operates through the repeater would have an intrinsic range of 10–20 miles. operating through a good repeater, you would then get a radius of operation of about 50–100 miles.

For suporting local communications, this is ideal. If you are looking for cross-country or international communications, the repeater is not going to be of much help. And as Craig points out, the repeater is subject to the same failure mechanisms as the rest of the infrastructure if TSHTF.

As for antenna size, it is possible to get some decent (but not superlative) performance from a fairly small antenna footprint. My favorite for this application is an antenna called the Isotron made by a company called Bilal. Link to their Hompage Here. While they are not the best solution for the highest performance communications, I have a pair of these small antennas on a 17 foot ground mounted mast and have used them to achieve 1st and 2nd place finishes in my district in some rather grooling on-air telegraphy competitions for several years running.

They are not expensive, and take up little room. Do not let the antenna be the cause of scaring you away from considering pursuing Ham radio.

Hillbilly Bill – at 09:54

I think it would be wise to remember what Eccles stated in a previous post on a related thread. Unless you are trying to determine that distant family members are still safe, our communication needs are really going to be one-way. What we will need is a means to receive information about the progress of the pandemic as a whole, and our local situation. A hand crank AM/FM radio will accomplish this, although the addition of shortwave broadcasts would be nice. If things are REALLY bad, there will be National Guard trucks with loudspeakers making the rounds telling you all the government thinks you need to know.

If things are not so bad we will still be chatting on here trading anecdotes about SIP.

ricewiki – at 13:00

Thanks, Eccles. That’s really nifty — hams can do it all! I’m going to look further into it. Not afraid of exams! Thanks for reintroducing me to this area….

Cosmo – at 14:12

Going back to my original post… I think what’s really important for the average person is a good quality battery operated AM, FM, Shortwave radio. This should be a basic prep item everyone should own. You can be up and running for less than $100. If you want to go above and beyond, then consider a HAM Radio. You can invest as much as you want to spend on a HAM setup. It’s a great hobby if that’s what you’re into, but it’s not for everyone.

Eccles – at 19:32

Agreed and Amen.

Anonymous – at 19:39

To find a Ham Radio operator in your neighborhood in the USA, type in your Zip Code here:

It could be useful if you had to send a message to even someone without a Ham radio (as Ham Radio operators can relay a message anywhere in the world).

05 May 2006

lauralou – at 15:51

Are there international associations for Ham operators? Or is it organized more by country and/or region?

anonymous – at 16:22

The IARU is the International Amateur Radio Union. It is more a union of unions than an organization of individual operators. Most countries that allow amateur radio have a national organization. the IARU has a web presence at:

73 de SIPCT

lauralou – at 16:27

anonymous- thank you! that is exactly what I was looking for. I have no real knowledge of Ham, so I was “googling” blindly. :)

EOD – at 16:36

We have 2 multiband radios; the info-mate is one of those with a built-in solar charger, hand crank, or plug-in. The Sony ICF-SW7600GR is a much better quality digital tuner. Plus a separate solar charger then 4 of the GMRS 2-way radios with a published range of 12 miles.

Short of a CB or Ham I think we will be set. Though we do have a neighbor about 3 blocks away with a Ham setup & pretty big antenna array.

17 May 2006

SIPCT – at 20:53

The cheap FRS radios are very widely available, and there are many of them already “out there”. It would not be a bad idea to publicize the use of FRS radios on channel 1 as a “last hope” means of communication in a neighborhood. Of course, the stuff would have to be well into the fan before most people would greet this idea - or most of the FLUWIKI, come to think of it - with anything other than derision.

Mstrbubbie – at 21:25

I have a sugestion for local communication. For very local 1 to 3 miles depending on wattage a CB Radio. For a distance of 5 to 20 miles you could use your marine radio there are public use channels open for you to use …..if things get real bad use channel 16 call the coast gaurd tell them where you are and what you need and they will relay the message to the proper responce teams Or come and get you themselves just make shure you have a place for a helo to land…….you do not have to be on the water or in a boat to request help from the coast gaurd they turn land emergencies over to the air national gaurd.Cb’s can be bought for 75 bucks marine radios for 120.oo but the marine radios do need a licence to be operated and a form to be filled out with the fcc.I think the fee is like 20 to 50 bucks.I hope this may help someone. Both of these are for short ranges only and can be run off a car battery….double bonus…Talk to you soon

SIPCT – at 22:26

“In an emergency, call 911. In a disaster, you’re on your own.”

We need to think about taking care of ourselves, because the government isn’t going to be able to take care of us. Sorry, but don’t plan on the Coast Guard rescuing you from a pandemic. Plan how you will take care of yourself and your family. Then, think about friends and neighbors, which might be where radios might help.

Mstrbubbie – at 22:29

Point taken

I’m-workin’-on-it – at 22:34

You know it seems to me that the idea of ‘being rescued’ is sooooo lost on this pandamic thing….where the heck are you going to be rescued to?? We should always consider ourselves on our own, whether we have lost a home to fire or flood or we’re confined there due to disease (or alligators)or whatever. Then if help comes we can be eternally grateful for and humbled by the help, and if it doesn’t come, we’ll be OK on our own until we can adjust.

26 May 2006

amateur – at 10:43


ricewiki – at 11:45

heya amateur! I see you’re already here….

04 July 2006

Closed - Bronco Bill – at 00:39

Closed to increase Forum speed.

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