With things appearing to deteriorate on a constant basis, I think that it is a good idea for this blog to be a bit more proactive in not just commentary, but in tidbits that people can use. After all, that is why I store and distribute training manuals with the link that the top of the site. With that in mind, I want to put more information out there.

Let’s do communications for this post. It is difficult to fight and resist oppression if you cannot communicate. You also don’t want the secret police rolling you up too easily. When the DOJ was conspiring to overthrow Trump, they were well aware of the NSA’s capabilities, yet they chose to communicate with each other through HAM radios to coordinate this effort, even though such use was in violation of Federal law.

The National Security Agency (NSA) picks up and records almost all electronic communications, thereby effectively wiretapping telephone conversations, email, and practically everything else we send out electronically. What the NSA doesn’t get, their partners in social media and at Google do.

The wife of a Deputy Director of the DOJ was coordinating this attempted coup, and would be well aware of the NSA’s capabilities. There are many technical reasons why spying on HAM radio would be a nearly impossible task. Just by using the frequencies and methods permitted to a person with a Technician license, there are thousands of available channels. Toss in the various modes like Digital, SSB, USB, AM, FM, CW, etc., and then consider that the higher frequencies are short range and would require hundreds of listening stations in every state, and it becomes a very difficult proposition to monitor HAM radio.

A HAM radio running low power on VHF or UHF would be audible for less than a mile or two, making interception a difficult process, at best. A high quality handheld radio that is capable of both the VHF and UHF bands can be bought for about $20. I bought a few of these to loan out to people in an emergency. You can get a nicer one for $70, and that is the one I use. I still own a nicer, far more expensive Yaesu that cost me almost $400, but I have found that the Baofeng works just as well at a fraction of the cost.

I am currently reading “The Guerrilla’s Guide To The Baofeng Radio” and I think it is a great book, full of both technical and practical tips to using this radio. It’s well worth the $23 it cost me. There are other ways to communicate, and we will talk about them later.

Now, the disclaimer: I don’t advertise, and receive nothing for my reviews or articles. I have no relationship with any products, companies, or vendors that I review here, other than being a customer. If I ever *DO* have a financial interest, I will disclose it. Otherwise, I pay what you would pay. No discounts or other incentives here. I only post these things because I think that my readers would be interested.


Sleepy · April 6, 2023 at 6:46 am

The old adage “2 ears, 1 mouth” comes to mind.

RDF (Radio Direction Finding) can be done with just a microburst of radio transmission and there are groups that have contests in this. I’m in the camp of listening like crazy, which means using a dedicated scanner (can scan MUCH more quickly than a 2-way radio). MOST people seem to have zero radio discipline and will break squelch to say something/anything. My scanner (Uniden BCD436HP) is set to pickup the most common freqs (CB, FMRS, GMRS). It also has a zip code function if you want to listen to established transmitters (fire, rescue, police, etc).

AC47Spooky · April 6, 2023 at 9:16 am

Good post – thanks for the reminder about the book. Someone else recommended it a while back — I need to get it. (I have the F8HP)

Jonesy · April 6, 2023 at 10:05 am

Thanks for bringing this up. It’s a topic of preparedness that doesn’t get enough attention. I certainly have put it off because of the vast amount technical material available. I just need to dive in and get started.

    Divemedic · April 6, 2023 at 10:31 am

    Don’t let it intimidate you. It isn’t that bad. Start with the book linked in the post.

D · April 6, 2023 at 1:18 pm

There are some pretty good GMRS radios out there…

I know…I know…the HAM guys are about to unleash a tirade….but hear me out.

You can get a GMRS license for something like $40 for ten years.
You can program your radio with the standard channels and use it like any other radio.
…but there are some brands out of China that have encryption built in. I wouldn’t trust the encryption…I’m sure both China and the US have ways to break it….*and* it’s illegal as all get-out to use encryption per the FCC….but in a situation where you might no longer care what the FCC thinks, you can flip to one of the extra channels you’ve added that has encryption. Have your buddies do the same and you have semi-secure comms.

    Divemedic · April 6, 2023 at 3:29 pm

    No, GMRS is a viable option. In fact, I am installing a GMRS repeater in the new house. It allows the coordination of a neighborhood watch for the entire neighborhood in situations where cell phones are OOS.
    The beautiful thing about Baofeng radios is that they are programmable for the GMRS and FMRS frequencies. It isn’t legal to reprogram a HAM radio for GMRS/FMRS, but in TEOTWAWKI, it won’t matter.

      D · April 6, 2023 at 5:51 pm

      I got some basic radio knowledge from back in my EMT days in the late 90s. We’ve always had the cheap FRS radios around the house, but they’re pretty crappy. About a year ago, I decided to take a look at GMRS and have been slowly mapping signal levels a few miles around my house.

      At some point I’m going to have to make the jump to HAM.

      …but why can’t use use a HAM radio on GMRS frequencies. Isn’t is just a wattage issue? If you have a GMRS license and a HAM license, can’t you just set your HAM radio down under 50 watts and use GMRS?

        Divemedic · April 6, 2023 at 6:36 pm


          D · April 7, 2023 at 9:12 am

          Huh. Oops. Good to know.
          I have a handful of cheap GMRS portables and a few larger units in vehicles, in my house, and in my office…but I do have a field-programmable BTech radio with GMRS frequencies. I guess I better delete them. Thanks for the info.

DonotdowhatIdid · April 6, 2023 at 9:37 pm

Check out Barbed wire telephone system also. nifty for short distances and not broadcast into the air. A rural self-supported party line tele system.

Michael · April 7, 2023 at 7:28 am

When I flew search and rescue with the Air National Guard, I was amazed how we could find a “dead Battery” cellphone.

I also enjoyed chatting with the technicians and learned like the old school TY antenna shows that “It’s just spectrum” you search. Like turning the old school TV antenna to get a clear signal.

Cell phone, wireless routers, CB, HAM, GMRS is just a matter of setting your equipment to LOOK for that spectrum.

When things get spicy me and mine are going dark and only listening mode. Whistles and laminated code cards are useful.

E M Johnson · April 7, 2023 at 12:34 pm

I have a amateur license and not a fan of a lot of the “community”. GMRS is an excellent option for neighborhood groups responding to emergencies and threats. Actual ham gear is good for keeping touch with nearby local groups outside the neighborhood which is important for grapevine intel and mutual support

    Divemedic · April 7, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

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