What A Ham Radio Is And How Knowledgeable Preppers Use It


For most people today, amateur radio or ham radio is a hobby, but for the prepper, it is a important tool.

Most people today believe of ham radio as just a way to speak to people today in far-away lands, but ham radio gives a signifies for preppers to communicate with family members, pals and other preppers in the neighborhood and even across the nation. On top of that, it gives the chance to perform with neighborhood police, the National Climate Service, and even state and federal emergency agencies.

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Ahead of I go any additional, let me be clear, it is not complicated to get a ham license. The requirement to study Morse code has been eliminated and the queries on the exam are not difficult. Young children as young as ten have passed the test for their license. The price of gear can be pretty wonderful if you want the most effective gear, but there is also pretty economical no-frills gear and applied gear that meets the wants of the prepper.

Ham Frequencies

There are a quantity of ham bands from 1.eight MHz all the way up to microwave. The bands break down into groups: Medium Frequency (MF)/Higher Frequency (HF) and Incredibly Higher Frequency (VHF)/Ultra Higher Frequency (UHF). The MF/HF bands are commonly for extended-distance communications. Based upon the frequency, time of day and solar circumstances, worldwide communications is doable. VHF/UHF bands are for neighborhood communications. Based upon the terrain, energy level, and antenna, these frequencies are commonly very good for up to fifty miles. Mobile to mobile is commonly restricted to about 5 miles and handheld transceiver (HT) to HT is restricted to a mile or line-of-sight.

The VHF/UHF frequencies are of the greatest interest to the prepper because family members members are normally inside fifty miles of house. The price of gear is surprisingly low. Low price HTs are obtainable for below $30 and auto/house units are obtainable for below $100. Considering the fact that terrain plays a huge component in the coverage, numerous ham clubs have set up repeaters at higher places in most communities about the nation. A repeater picks up the weak signal with a sensitive receiver on a precise frequency and retransmits the signal at higher energy on one more frequency. By way of a repeater it is doable for two mobile units to be in communications though a hundred miles apart. Even HTs can communicate at wonderful distances by means of repeaters. An HT will normally perform by means of a repeater at places exactly where a cell telephone has no signal, such as in the mountains. To see a list of repeaters, go to your favourite search engine and kind in “Amateur repeater” followed by your state. The most preferred band is 144 MHz/two Meters. Repeaters are everywhere and it is wonderful to have a radio in your vehicle when you travel, so that you can get assist or directions anyplace in the nation. Most repeaters are “open” which signifies that anyone can use them. Of course, it is courteous to make a contribution to the club if you are going to use a repeater on a normal basis. It is even superior to join the club. Most hams are preppers to some degree or one more.

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Quite a few clubs perform with the neighborhood police, emergency agencies, the National Climate Service, and throughout emergencies with the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other public service groups. The National Climate Service even trains amateurs to be spotters for extreme climate by means of a system named SKYWARN.

The MF/HF bands are helpful if you have family members members in other components of the nation, or beyond the variety of the repeater. Communications is far much less dependable because radio signals are impacted by the climate on the surface of the sun. By possessing a very good antenna, and deciding on the suitable frequency, coast to coast communications is normally doable.

Even though Morse code is not needed, it is suggested that just about every ham study it. It is initially tedious to use Morse code it becomes quick when proficiency is realized. Every single letter has its personal sound and becomes as quick as listening to somebody spelling out a word. Morse code is sent by Continuous Wave (CW) transmission. The CW is broken into brief and extended bursts. For the reason that it is a binary transmission, it is doable to get a usable signal at pretty low levels. With a very good antenna and very good atmospheric circumstances, worldwide communications is doable with much less than one particular watt. With a 100 watt CW transmitter, communications is normally doable even when signal circumstances do not permit voice communications.

Receiving a License

There are 5 classes of license with every single step in grade possessing a lot more privileges.

  • Novice: Not obtainable to new applicants.
  • Technician: Uncomplicated exam. Restricted HF CW privileges. All privileges on VHF and UHF.
  • Common: Sophisticated exam. Restricted privileges on all bands.
  • Sophisticated: Not obtainable to new applicants.
  • Additional Class: Difficult exam. All privileges. Licensees get to opt for their personal get in touch with-sign.

There are study guides for every single class of license. The Technician Class is straightforward adequate for kids. Study guides can be obtained from the American Radio Relay League (www.arrl.org) or from Amazon. Just be positive that the study guide is for the present set of queries because the test queries adjust from time to time. Receiving ham licenses tends to make a very good family members project. The most technically proficient member of the family members really should get a Common Class license for extended distance communications. It would also make a very good project for a prepper neighborhood.

Quite a few radio clubs will help in studying for the exam and will truly give the test. When I got my license, I had to take the exam in front of an FCC agent. That is in the previous and the tests are now provided in libraries, schools, churches, and even houses by other hams. The exams are provided in a comfy setting no stress! To locate a test place in your neighborhood, get in touch with the ARRL or a neighborhood club.

Receiving the Gear

After you get your license, your subsequent step is gear. There are pretty sophisticated and high priced radio transceivers for the hobbyist, but for standard emergency communications, economical or old gear is sufficient.

For HF, you have two possibilities: old tube kind and strong state. There are positive aspects and disadvantages to each.

Tube kind gear calls for a cache of replacement tubes due to the fact tubes put on out, but they are normally obtainable on ebay at affordable costs. Tube kind gear is much easier to repair, but normally has voltages up to 1000 volts. (Not for the newbie! But, there will often be somebody in the neighborhood who will assist). The efficiency is slightly poorer than strong state, but can nevertheless be pretty very good. Tube kind gear is pretty much impervious to EMP. The important disadvantage of tube kind gear is energy consumption, specifically in get mode. Some old HF gear will only perform in CW and Amplitude Modulation (AM) mode. AM is hardly ever applied due to the fact it is pretty inefficient. Single Sideband (SSB) is the most preferred mode for HF.

Strong state gear will be a lot more high priced, but will commonly be a lot more dependable and carry out superior. Repair of strong state gear could be complicated or even not possible. Some repair components have to be ordered from Japan. Energy consumption is compact, specifically in get mode. Strong state transceivers will normally perform from 12 volts dc.

Concerning VHF/UHF gear, it have to be compatible with the neighborhood repeater. Most of the radios for VHF/UHF that are sold on Amazon are compatible with most repeaters. I purchased a Baofeng radio from Amazon that functions with my neighborhood repeater, picks up NOAA broadcasts, my neighborhood police and fire, and it even picks up FM broadcast radio. It also has a constructed-in flashlight. It charges much less than $30. Yes, it is affordable, but I have two of them: one particular on my belt and a spare in my pack. It is also wonderful for younger family members members who could shed or break the radio. It will perform pretty much everywhere! There is even a repeater on Mount Washington to cover the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

My recommendation for acquiring gear is to join a club. Most members will have some applied gear that they want to pass along to new hams, or propose new gear that meets your price range and wants. Members will likely assist you place up an antenna. Beyond acquiring gear, you will locate a neighborhood of preppers in the club. Most hams and clubs will do what ever it requires to retain the gear operating even immediately after SHTF.

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If you are setting up a bug-out retreat in a rural town, creating neighborhood radio contacts and joining a neighborhood club is a very good way to meet the residents and establish your self as a member of the neighborhood. The ham neighborhood is a close-knit group but it requires pretty tiny time to turn out to be accepted.


Field Day

Every single year, on the final weekend of June, hams about the globe conduct an emergency drill named Field Day. The premise is that all electric energy and communications is gone. To participate, hams grab a transceiver, a tent, their AC generator, and some meals. They meet in a park, a field, a hilltop, or any other location exactly where they can place up make-shift antennas. After the gear is set up, they make as numerous contacts as they can to prove their proficiency. Need to there be an actual emergency, these who participate in Field Day will be ready.


Ham radio is a wonderful hobby, but it is also an critical tool for the prepper. It is quick to pass the test, but not so quick that just anyone will get a license. By deciding on the appropriate frequency and gear, it enables you to retain in get in touch with with family members, pals and other preppers throughout a crisis. Obtaining a ham radio can make the distinction amongst life and death when a lady or kids have to have assist in areas with spotty or no cell telephone coverage. And on these cold winter nights, you can use it to make new pals all more than the globe.


Frank Karkota, K1RZK, has spent his life operating in communications. He got his ham license in 1959 at the age of thirteen and his industrial license in 1967 at the age of nineteen.

He has worked for a quantity of broadcast radio stations. He served in Vietnam operating with a group that enabled dependable communications more than extended distances applying tactical troposcatter. The business he founded produced unique receivers for blind people today.

He lives in rural New England exactly where he has written novels about people today who reside deep in the woods. His novels are “Tales from a Haunted House” and “The Final Summer time.”


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