Thursday, January 9, 2014

Breaker One Mike, Radio Check

One Mike was (one of) my callsigns when I was a military police officer.  

So, power's gone out.  Cell phone towers are down. You need to get ahold of your family.....what do you do?  Your Stake needs to coordinate with other stakes long-distance....what do you do?

Well, ever hear of a Ham Radio?

Ham Radios, or Ham Radio Operators - or Amateur Radio Operators - operate on certain frequencies outside of the commercial radio bands and with a lot more power and equipment and distance than the Civilian Bands - or CB's that the truckers use.  Just toying around with mine, a small, inexpensive hand-held, I'm hitting over a hundred miles away with it.

("Ham" is a yester-century pejorative term referring to someone who is clumsy.  When the radios first came out, the experienced telegraph communicators who operated via Morse Code referred to the new radios' operators as "hams" because they required less skill than communicating by Morse Code - the name has stuck ever since)

Mine, right here!
You do have to get a license from the Federal Communications Commission in the USA, and have to pass a test, but the test is easy.  35 questions, multiple choice.  I studied for mine in two weeks and only took one class on it six years ago until I just now passed my test which cost me $15.00 to take and that's it.

I don't think you even need a class, if you know how to use Wikipedia and Google, you can research things you want to know on the test, and the test answers and questions are all right here: and you DON'T have to know Morse Code to get your license.  Use google to figure out where to go to take the test (You can do it! You're a big kid now! ;)

At any rate, my wife is disabled and in a wheelchair.  With her license she can participate in an emergency operation in a meaningful and critical fashion central to its success!

Anyways, we bought a Yaesu FT-270 on the recommendation of my former home-teaching companion who is a much more experienced ham than I am.  I paid less than $200 for it new - though radios can go for much less than that on Craigslist.  It can be dropped in water (and still operate - you can drop anything in water or pour water on anything, that in its self isn't all that unique...if you're doing it to something mega-electrical, I suggest THROWING the water on it and running....important safety tip everyone) and comes with all sorts of whistles and bells yet is easy for a newbie like myself and my wife to operate.  It doesn't require a monthly subscription or data plan either.  I can tune in to NOAA for the weather broadcasts and everything!  

We're picking up one-more here.  But every family home evening we work on some aspect of emergency preparedness, right now we're working on communications.  But now....cut off our cell-phones, FINE!  We can still talk.  And quite a ways away, too! 

But in closing they say, "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."  Ain't it the truth. 

Set your houses in order in any way you can, cuz we're gonna need it here soon!

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