In Florida, SARNET is a network of HAM radio repeaters in the 70cm band (. They are all connected, so activating one repeater ensures that your traffic will be heard statewide. A list of SARNET repeaters can be found here. Anyone who is a licensed HAM radio operator can use it in analog mode only, as long as the state disaster centers haven’t closed the net due to an emergency or other disaster, but it’s important to remember that anything you say will be broadcast across the entire state. Here is the coverage map:

It’s a great way to find someone that is a HAM operator, and then direct them to another means of communication. Long conversations are discouraged on SARNET. The network voice radio usage is intended to be short communications between users. During long conversations you are activating all of the SARNET repeaters across the state for an extended period of time, subjecting all of the hams in the state to a conversation that they have no interest in. Long local conversations are encouraged to move off of SARNET and onto another repeater that does not activate the net. Still, it’s a great way for a HAM in Key West to quickly contact one in Pensacola. Here is a video to explain it:

Another great use is calling a Mayday if you are in an emergency, because you are guaranteed to get a response if every HAM and EOC in the state can hear you.

Categories: Communications


Aesop · June 30, 2023 at 3:54 am

Amateur Mapreader Comment:
Why do all their turnpikes go in circles?” 🙂

Professional map designer comment:
Making turnpike lines the same color as coverage estimates is both dumb, and lazy.

Just saying.

The system is pretty wizard though.
Looks like fixing one gaping hole mid-state could make coverage nearly 100%.

    Divemedic · June 30, 2023 at 6:30 am

    The gaping hole in coverage is where the phosphate mines are. Sparsely populated, covered in strip mines.

Mike C · June 30, 2023 at 5:24 am

As a general licensee, when my brother passed away and I inherited some of his old radios. I frankly didn’t know what to do with them. On advice from another operator, I ended up selling a functional but older base station radio and bought a DMR capable portable radio. Once I got past the complexity of the setup, I was amazed what DMR will do. I can key up and broadcast to all of northern Virginia, the state, or even all of the east coast from my HT!

I don’t know if the network will be resilient in the event of a SHTF situation, but given that operators are usually pretty thoughtful people, I’ll bet it will. There is ARES(sp?) but I haven’t learned much about about that as it appears to be a bit of a closed circle of operators. That is one criticism of the HAM community that I do have is after a certain point of association, they seem to be a bit of a “secret handshake” club mentality.

The downside of operating a digital radio is that I need a laptop to set up the channels and CHIRP doesn’t do digital so you have to use the manufacturer software 🙁

    Noway2 · June 30, 2023 at 8:59 am

    Condolences on your brother’s passing and congratulations on getting your ham ticket. If you haven’t, you might be interested in seeing if you can get his call sign which is something family members often like to do.

    A lot of folks have been getting into DMR and I’m glad you enjoy it. I personally don’t care for it, but that’s just personal bias and attitude after having followed and obtained radios with DSTAR and Fusion and done the FT8 and all that. Ham radio is a big and diverse club. It is neat how you can talk to folks all over the world with it. It is also what I would call a “blue sky” technology and you need to think in terms of the acronym PACE: Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.

    You mentioned ARES which is / was the ARRL group for emergency operators to help their local (govt) emergency management. It has pretty much been superseded by AUXCOMM which is operated under DHS. There is also less focus on ham for emergency communication, from the official channels, because of the requirement that everything be transmitted in the clear. Going on the air and saying that there is a shelter or stash of resources at X location is going to get you unwanted attention. Instead, the “grid down” radio mode has moved to Winlink with PACTOR over HF, which operates outside the ham bands under DHS authority rather than the FCC, and it is encrypted, and yes they are a secretive group.

    You might want to see if your local area has an AUXCOMM group. My county does, but the emergency manager is a ham. Still, we train and practice on govt. equipment such as their VIPER radios because the plan will be to use systems like that over ham for reasons mentioned above. Personally, I think govt. overestimates their ability to handle a real SHTF scenario.

    Lastly, recall a few years ago, the emergency service between the ARRL and Red Cross was activated for the first time and sent HF operators to PR after a hurricane wiped all the infrastructure out. At the end of the day, throwing a wire into a tree and being able to communicate both locally or hundreds or thousands of miles away is invaluable.

Comments are closed.