TEOTWAWKI – COMMS CHALLENGE

Posted by johnyMac | Oct 18, 2019 | CommsJohnyMac | 57  |    

https://www.americanpartisan.org/2019/10/teotwawki-comms-challenge/ 

TEOTWAWKI – Comms Challenge

I was sitting down at breakfast this past Thursday with a fellow ham. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War, Airborne, officer, RTO, and a Special Forces alumnus. Post his career with the Army he worked as a bodyguard/contractor in several venues around the globe. His resume goes on and on and I will not bore you to death with more of it. Last and what is most important is he is a ham operator of the highest degree and he also reads American Partisan daily. Obvious a man of good taste.

While sitting at the table of one of the best breakfast establishments in the area swapping stories of his time in Caracas Columbia and me my visit to the mean streets of Columbia SC and Palmetto State Armory he said, “I would like you to post a challenge to the readers of American Partisan.” Here is his challenge.

A catastrophe has happened in your AO so devastating the only thing that survived was some other humans and one of your transceivers. No shelter, no electricity, no food…You get the idea. Since communication is vital for survival after you take care of water, food, and shelter; describe how will you get that one transceiver ready to send (TX) and receive (RX) communications.

He went on to remind me that nothing has survived total decimation. No electricity to run a radio, soldering iron or do a search on your computer, no antennas, no PL-239 connectors, et cetera. You get the picture.

Using the comments field, how would you go about getting that transceiver up and RXing and TXing?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

johnyMac

johnyMac

JohnyMac and his wife MrsMac of 44-years, have learned the importance of preparedness from the eleven years they spent cruising on their 30-foot sail boat Mad Max, along both coasts of the United States and Canada. He has facilitated countless lectures and workshops on cruising, preparedness, amateur radio, and firearms since 1987. The Mac’s currently live in a log cabin that JohnyMac, MrsMac, and his brother built in the Endless Mountains of NE Pennsylvania during the fall of 2010. Until recently, the cabin and out-buildings were operated completely “off the electrical grid”. Today a power failure is met with a chuckle, a flip of a few switches, and a nice bottle of wine being opened. It is like nothing happened. JohnyMac contributes articles on preparedness, amateur radio, homesteading, and firearms regularly to American Partisan, Brushbeater, and his own site, Unchainedpreppers. He is also the co-founder of Navigation Business Solutions, a business consulting firm. “Freedom Through Self-Reliance” is what the Mac’s preach and live by – Day in, day out.

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57 COMMENTS

  1. anomanom on October 18, 2019 at 06:39wire in the center of the PL-259 connector run out on the ground.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 18, 2019 at 09:23anom,
      Thank you for taking the time to not answer the question. Maybe, you are one of the ham’s that h0neyc0mb speaks of. 😉Thank you Brother for reading.
  2. h0neyc0mbh0neyc0mb on October 18, 2019 at 07:07Not to be rude .. but that’s not gonna happen.1) Most Hams are QRO and wouldn’t have a clue about how to operate QRP / battery / solar / etc.2) Most Hams have never participated in a Field Day much less total and complete loss of their shack / base gear3) Most Hams have never made their gear or modified anything .. with or without prints.4) Most Hams don’t CW. Good luck QRPing with voice. You’d be counting on luck depending on the Solar Cycle and such.5) Most Hams count on tons of gear to make a contact. So the number of Hams that could receive your message .. even if you managed to send one would be very small. And depending on what their current situation is .. you might just be talkin’ to yourself (even if you got a signal out).
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 18, 2019 at 09:20Apparently h0neyc0mb,
      you are one of the hams of which you write about as you can not answer the question \”/Take care Sister.
      • h0neyc0mbh0neyc0mb on October 18, 2019 at 10:41Whatever makes you sleep better at night .. 73 sister.
        • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:56LOL! Thanks Sister. \”/
  3. DonDon on October 18, 2019 at 10:37I like these genius questions, forest and trees thing. Reread the challenge. Short Answer: You ruck the “F” out! Go get the Water, Food, Shelter… scavenge/resupply/rebuild your comsm as you go.
  4. Matt in OklahomaMatt in Oklahoma on October 18, 2019 at 11:03I’m new to this HAM stuff but if there’s nothing in the area I’m moving on. Why stay in a decimated area? 101 always improve your position.
    As I go look for resources such as solar panel/batteries on the bridges that are used to send signal about icing and stuff to help power it in a transportable mode. An antenna is an antenna and they aren’t hard to find they are hard to tune.
    I dunno if I’m on the right path with this answer or not but it’s all I got
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:59Remember Matt in OK, you have water, shelter, and food. You now want to collect information first and using the radio waves is the easiest way of doing so. Then you might want to connect with a friend, the authorities, etc.Thanks for playing Brother.
  5. Charlie PrimeCharlie Prime on October 18, 2019 at 11:49Mr. Johny Mac needs to specify with whom we are trying to communicate, and for what purpose.Me and Cousin Cletus might only need our CB’s and vulgar construction site Spanish skills if all we need to do is pop Elmer Fudd with my thermal hog rifle from his treeline to liberate his IC-7851 for our communal use. 🙂
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 18:02Doesn’t matter Charlie Prime. Any good intelligence person will want to gather information. The radio waves is a simple way to gather info without getting shot at. Then maybe you might want to communicate with someone that has a widget you need. Or, someone to share information with.Remember, this is just an exercise. You need to do A, B, C, D to RX and then E,F,G to TX.Have fun with it Brother.
  6. Smedley ButlerSmedley Butler on October 18, 2019 at 11:51I have a question for the question. Does the individual have what he’s already socked away, or is it an unprepared person?Thanks
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 18:05Thank you Smedley Butler.This is just an exercise. \”/ Have fun with it. Think the basics. I need power (12-volt car batteries will do) I need wire for an antenna. Remember a 20-meter antenna means ~65-feet. If that is to long a half wave will work. Etc, etc , etc. Do not over think it.Thanks for playing Brother.
  7. upstaterupstater on October 18, 2019 at 11:55Non emp? Run a fresh wire out the window to the tree, attach to tuner, confirm radio still connected to 12 volt solar charged lead acid batteries, power up, and tune. If post EMP, pull the KX3 or IC703 out of the EMP protective enclosure, connect to battery, put out a fresh wire, hit tune. If on the move, grab the SOTA kit and go. Else, start pulling batteries out of vehicles that don’t run and getting them on the solar panels. Pull out the solar lawn lights and get them charging for light after sundown. (better than candles) Get the scanner out of the protective bag and get it running to see what’s happening around us. Get the dual band radio out of the EMP box and hang the Jpole and check the local repeaters and simplex for activity. Fire up the woodstove for heat, hot water, cooking. Get out the Aladdin lamps and fuel up. Top off the Eneloops for the flashlights in the EMP bags. Get out the protected HT’s, top off the batteries, get out the bicycle and go start checking in with the neighbors. Start building resonant dipoles with the butane powered soldering tools. Get the little genny out of the EMP can and check it out, run for an hour a day to charge up batteries when sun is down. Start building a neighborhood watch net with scavenged CB, FRS, GMRS, marine, etc radios, salvaged car batteries, wire antennas.
  8. Smedley ButlerSmedley Butler on October 18, 2019 at 12:05If unprepared, one could use a car battery immediately, rg6 from the house for coax, some wire from wherever I could scrounge it up, 468/frequency to build a dipole and some rope to get it into a tree.
    For a longer sustainable future, procure a few solar panels from .gov’s street signs and there should be a charge controller close by for the battery used in said LED signs, and a deep cycle boat battery. That would give you a little longer operating time, the car battery isn’t deep cycle and wouldn’t last long.
    I’d also raid a mechanics shop or car parts store for a multimeter.
  9. GregGreg on October 18, 2019 at 12:32Good one!First I would concentrate on energy, but would be scavenging for antenna along the way. Motor homes have lots of long runs of wire to the back, so there’s a source for wire, short of robbing a house for the same. Of course there is coax in the ground all over the place and telephone wires everywhere as well, so that’s simple for dipole purposes. However, my first yagi is built from those tubular center fold out chairs you find along the river, when they get old.Connectors be damned, take a piece of that coax fold it, smash it, or sharpen it, whatever it takes to get it in the center tap of your respective radio connector. Then attach the outer via small wire or tin foil, blah, blah, blah.Greg you started at power and wound up at connectors, not explaining the power, you might say? Solar would sound great, and we could find panels, then interrupt a battery charger on the low voltage side, but what fun would that be? BTW, the battery charger would be nice in all cases. If I could lay my hands on a car alternator and a small dc motor, we should be able to create a winding energy with the dc motor so that the alternator would produce. Either using the alternating voltage before the rectification, or dc after the volt regulator, or we could use before said battery charger, we could power our radio, with a bicycle or hand crank type thing. However, that may be pie in the sky so…Either finding large capacitors in a welder, air conditioner, well pump, or outright building a Leyden Jar with tin foil would work. To charge the Leyden, you would have to find a bicycle inner tube and two sufficient charging brushes, so you could charge your Leyden, with a Van De Graff generator. We might even get lucky enough to trip across a good battery, but we could adlib…Out of sight, out of mind, right? In hot water tanks and boats there are Sacrificial Anodes. Great dissimilar metal for a battery. It would work with lemon juice, a strong acid or strong base, maybe even strong vinegar. We would want to cut the sacrificial anode into smaller, shorter cell pieces, so that we could put the cells of maybe 2V in series to make at least 12v. Even in an AC radio the voltage is bridge rectified, so we could interrupt the circuit there and apply our battery. Just spitballing, so there’s some left to interpretation. Probably would be good idea to try this crud at least once.
  10. MikeMike on October 18, 2019 at 12:49“the only thing that survived was some other humans and one of your transceivers.” Why bother nothing else survived except what he said survived so no other radios to talk or listen to anyway. No power, according to the scenario he gave nothing else made it.
    • NC ScoutNC Scout on October 18, 2019 at 14:22Looks like you missed the point entirely.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:54Mike, so there is no survivors with a transceiver across the mountain from your AO that may be able to help?This is an exercise so all can learn something 😉Can you answer the scenario?
  11. mistermisfit01mistermisfit01 on October 18, 2019 at 13:16Considering what Mike said and quoted if there is nothing else left to work with.
  12. Tac ObserverTac Observer on October 18, 2019 at 14:20Well, staying at ground zero of a catastrophe where everything is destroyed is foolhardy, so you pick up your transceiver and you leave the area, and since you are familiar with the area, you probably have some idea of which directions might be best to go. You have nothing so you have to find potable water, and we don’t know what kind of catastrophe, or what kind of whether or season we are encountering, so we may need dry fuel for a fire and the materials that can put together some form of shelter ASAP. I’m probably going to see if I can find a way to get to some higher ground so that I can scout around. No point in going in the direction with additional devastation.Not knowing the catastrophe, I don’t know if there’s an EMP involved, and in that case, this thing may just be a doorstop. Assuming it’s not EMP, I don’t know if this transceiver is AC or DC. I don’t know if it’s HF, UHF or VHF so there is much left to my imagination. I could assume it’s a handy talky that is preprogrammed to hit every repeater in sight. I can check out national simplex frequencies, search for traffic. Don’t want to waste long because I don’t want to lose the battery if that’s the case. There’s no point in monitoring nothing. Call CQ and see if there’s an answer. If there’s something friendly, then report nearby position and condition and see if someone can help. Then I’ll take a position near that location in watch and see what shows up. Maybe I want them to help me, maybe I don’t. It depends.Going back to this being a transceiver, it might not be a handy talky. This means I’ll have more to figure out, and I’ll have to look for what it’ll take in my travels. If I don’t have a way to power it up, I’m going to have to find that. It may require me to disassemble some things and go direct wire if connectors are not suitable. I don’t know if it has an integral antenna or if it needs me to make one. I don’t know if it is battery operated and has a charged battery. In spite of how good I may or may not be with a soldering iron, I’m probably not going to have the Zener diodes I need to step the voltage too what it needs to be for a battery operated radio. I may have to hope it it will have a charge. If it works, and all it needs is an antenna, then I’m probably going to try to make something quarter wave, using 234/FMHz because it will require a minimum lengths of wire, and the ground plane is relatively easy to come up with at most frequencies above 10 m. if it’s a transceiver that works best IHF, then I’m going to need to come up with an antenna that will work on the flat side, and I’ll need 468/FMHz instead for my dipole. I might even have to rig up my own a ladder line to feed it.But seriously, without a lot of answers to a lot of questions about what this transceiver is in the first place, getting this radio up and running is going to be a major time suck. It might be a while before I care. Relocation to a better position, Potable water, better location, Shelter and heat source are going to be priorities, and then the search for food.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:53Thank you for playing Tac Observer.There are some good responses so far, not complete but many are on the right track. May I suggest you follow the thread as it plays out.Take care Brother.
  13. Box-O-FengsBox-O-Fengs on October 18, 2019 at 14:50I’ve not wargamed something that extreme. And as Honeycomb says, most likely will be talking to no one but myself. But this is why my first HF rig is going to be a BitX and I’m forcing myself to learn CW. Only after I do that, am I going to allow myself to purchase more high-tech toys.The main problem is power. There are plenty of wires, junks of metal, fences…heck car parts or coat hangers if I had to make do….to make plenty of antennas for reaching out world wide or NVIS without any solder. A pre-made cheat sheet of inches to frequency for some antennas I like would be nice. But SWAG can work in a pinch.Power….that’s a problem. HFSignals rigs can be made to run on battery power or solar panels. But like everything else, if you didn’t mod your radio and keep them with it before TSHTF, they’re toast too.First solution that comes to my mind is spark gap. No clue how to make one without external power. But given that Herr Hertz made one before Amazon came along, my guess is you could rig something with a wheel that you’d turn to build up power and store it in some bigass capacitor or six. Then Zap your way across the spectrum. No FCC to care that you’re doing so, either.Receiving is easy. Get the right crystal, some wire to wrap around a toilet paper roll enough times and some excess to be your antenna. You’ll need a speaker or headphone though. It’s been many years since I built some from a kit. But it’s a basic concept. Need to master it now and get an assortment of diodes.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:28Box-0-Fengs thanks for playing.You have some good ideas however a suggestion to all, don’t over think it. Batteries from cars and wire from laying around. Folks build me a operating system with your one surviving transceiver.You have made a great start Brother.
  14. MTNBOYMTNBOY on October 18, 2019 at 15:03We live off the grid full time 100 acres surrounded by Federal Lands. We have a large solar system about 8Kw of solar panels, two 4Kw sine wave inverters and 60Kw battery bank. Every panel has Broad Band Ferrites at the junction box and on both sides of any connections. Ferrites on charge controllers and Inverters as well.Two HF radios in the EMP can, FT-857d and a TS-480 SAT, as well as several Baofengs and VHF/UHF radios.We have several wire antennas including a 160 meter dipole that is 270 feet long that will be up in a couple weeks.For field work experience we use NVIS and VHF working on remote foot and bicycle races in our mountain area.I don’t claim to be a radio expert, but our club has some screaming radio genius’s who I can call and get advice from anytime.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:24Great MTNBOY,
      I am going to your redoubt when the SHTF. LOL…But for kicks and giggles explain what you would do if the only thing you had was a transceiver and no pre-made stuff ready to go. Antenna? juice? Etc. This exercise was posted so we can all learn.Thanks man for playing. \”/
  15. Bryce SharperBryce Sharper on October 18, 2019 at 16:08This is a good one, and I’m guessing the answer is in one of the pubs on NC’s website. Here’s the ARRL’s handout on emergency power for radio operation. With an acid and a salt and metal plates, you can make a battery. Perhaps that is what he’s driving at….
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:20Bryce, thanks for playing.Oh you stinker you looked on the interwize. LOL…Us hams should be able to pull this out of our never regions. LOL.Take care Brother.
  16. Ghost TigerGhost Tiger on October 18, 2019 at 17:05Ok if my transceiver survived, I would like to presume I can count on everything in the bag with it to have survived. I have a QRP portable rig set up in just such a bag, in a safe in my house. The bag includes a Xiegu X-108G HF transceiver, two 6Ah batteries, 28W portable folding solar panel, and data communications cable. It also includes a Toughbook with a DC power charging cable, a compact end fed antenna and QRP tuner. For local comms and comms monitoring across a broad range of frequencies, the bag includes a TH-F6A HT (2M, 220, 440 TX and DC to Daylight RX) with a roll up slim jim J-Pole, and an AA battery pack with a dozen pre-charged NiMH batteries a DC battery charger, and a small assortment of connectors and adaptors. Maybe I’m jumping too far ahead in my assumptions and not playing by the rules, but this is a pretty comprehensive list of what you’d need to set up a solo station.To the scenario at hand:Knowledge is key, so having a data book with frequencies, antenna calculation formulas, and a working knowledge of building simple wire antennas is critical, but if they’re destroyed in the incident I can rely on memory and working experience. Understanding DC power and how to get it and make the best use of it is equally important. If truly everything but your transceiver and some people were destroyed, there wouldn’t be coax, or wire, or anything else available to use. So in order to participate I have to assume that at the very least there are resources to be scavenged. I can run my QRP HF rig off any exposed battery terminals because I have the appropriate Power Pole to terminal clamp cables already made, but I can strip wire with a moderately sharp piece of glass if need be to make the necessary connections. If I can salvage at least one and preferably several batteries from ruined automobiles, I will have power. I’d scavenge the battery cables from the vehicles while I’m at it, and attach batteries together in parallel to increase the capacity of the batteries I have. Automotive batteries aren’t deep cycle, so TX and RX time would have to be limited to comms windows as much as possible. If any of my solar panels survived, I should be able to cobble together a basic charging system. As for antennas, if I can scavenge enough coax and wire I can use 468/Frequency in MHz to get a length in feet for a wire antenna. I know my wingspan is approximately 6 ft, and that I can get close enough to the exact measurement from my calculation to TX safely using the arm’s length method. I can make a center insulator with a cobra head connector, or make a 1:1 Balun with some PVC pipe and a little more wire, and at 20W TX power I can use common twist on wire nuts or crimp on wire connectors to make the necessary connectors. Remember this isn’t ideal world, it’s what the world handed us, so we make things work with what we have on hand, not what the book says we need. If my shack antenna tuner survived, or at least has salvageable parts I can actually use it to enable the use of a random wire or balanced wire antenna. Balanced wire feed line can be made with something as simple as sticks cut to equal lengths or PVC. Any insulator will work, but it’s a time consuming process to cut the insulators to equal lengths and connect two strands of wire. End insulators for a wire antenna could be as simple as more PVC, a loop of rope, or more sticks. Hopefully some trees survived to hang the antenna from! For 2M local comms, I know that 19.2 inches is my desired radiating length, and I can use that knowledge to make either a dipole or ground plane antenna depending on the type of wire I have and whether I have an SO-239 chassis mount in the pile of rubble or not.
    Half the battle is knowing where to go for information, so knowing local and regional radio stations helps, as does having a plan with friends and acquaintances from outside the immediate area to communicate (and actually practicing that plan before SHTF) is key. I know the frequencies and comms windows for my contacts off the top of my head, and we practice digital comms daily, so I know who I can hit, where, and with what power at different times of the day. I also know the directions my antennas need to face to reach them. Depending on the scale of the disaster, I can reach out to friends within a few miles to across the state to 3 states away with little to no doubt once I get basic power to the rig and a simple antenna built. And yes, I do practice building antennas. In fact every antenna I have is home built, and I’ve used them to hit countries all over the world with 100W and a fistful of wire, and have hit countries as far away as Venezuela with my 20W portable, but that’s a story for another time.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:18Ghost Tiger,
      your response is the best so far. Good job!Keep in mind some basic measurements. A 20-meter wave length (~14.200 Mhz) requires a 20 meter long piece of wire ~65-feet. That’s pretty long so you could go with half a wave or 16′ 3″ for each half of the dipole antenna. The math would work for any frequency. 10, 12, 15, 17, 30, 40, 60, 80-meters. You get the idea. 😉Thanks for playing Brother.
  17. Kevin in OKKevin in OK on October 18, 2019 at 19:22I run my ICOM 718 off of AGM batteries I already have at home although I use a wall plug sometimes too. So I’m already set up to use batteries. Recharging them is the trick with wall power off. I have solar cells but not enough capacity to charge them quickly so long rag-chewing sessions are out and I’d probably have to stick to my 4-5 wpm sloppy Morse technique and run on lowest power. So lesson learned there I could probably buy some more solar capacity now while I have the chance and can always work on Morse to get better. This thought experiment also reveals that I should probably get a very low-power QRP radio too since my ICOM 718 is a fair base station but still sucks power on receive.Thanks for ideas and any comments welcome.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:09Kevin in OK. Don’t forget you will need a antenna and a way to connect to your rig. Keep going brother you are on the road for sure.
  18. devin82mdevin82m on October 18, 2019 at 20:04There are some great comments here. I especially like the suggestion of using solar panels from road signs/lights, there are a number of those close by along the railroad tracks along with radio equipment, antennas, wire, and batteries where I live… I’m honestly surprised no one suggest alternators from cars/trucks/heavy machines. You can rig an old bicycle up for increased gear ratios, use the rim with wood shingles attached for fins and put it up in the air as a windmill. Or just peddle the bicycle. So small engines like lawnmowers and weed eaters have dynamos. If you have a stream you can make a water wheel generator too. The issue will be keeping batteries alive over time, lead acid are crap. Obviously resonate wire antennas if you have the formula memorized, printed out, or written in a notebook. Ground the rig however you can. If you can convert it to being a portable setup do so.I built a LifePo4 battery pack (like OH8STN on YOuTube) and have roll up solar panels. I plan on buying an buying Nickle Iron (Edison battery) from Iron Edison which could last 100+ years as long as you change our the electrolyte solution and distilled water, some solar panels, and Dr. Arthur Bradley’s EMP Storm and his upcoming EMP protection device for solar panels/controller. But obvious have some things squared away for EMP and also be portable, the new Icom QRP radio will be my QRP rig most likely. But I know all that is possible fantasy land so I will just leave that there.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:07Some cool ideas there devin82m.Thanks for playing Brother.
  19. ChrisChris on October 18, 2019 at 20:05Comms. No food? Sure.
  20. devin82mdevin82m on October 18, 2019 at 20:06I forgot to mention, over time, you could build a wood gasifier to act as a generator with alternators. At least that’s what a lot of people in Europe did for a while for their cars/trucks after WWII.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:06Me, I would just borrow a few car batteries and put in parallel.I am a simple man…Thanks Brother
  21. GregGreg on October 18, 2019 at 21:47So I did some research on batteries. I knew there are many variations, but never really studied them. Here’s a Wiki list and the link to the Earth Battery. How simple is that?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battery_types
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_battery
    Also of interest is that lemon galvanized nail/penny gig…Simple
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:05Why not just put a few car batteries parallel? A lot simpler in my book 😉Thanks Brother
  22. Bull MarketBull Market on October 19, 2019 at 18:17Easy answer, two is one and one is none. The whole point of operating HAM in my opinion is for emergencies. Have the parts and stuff you need like you know it’s going to be taken out. You have an extra parts kit for your AR right. Have some soup cans and some string. I want to be a HAM operator one day but certainly 2 is one principle should apply. I have 5 hand held radios on chargers now with a solar backup and I dont even know how to work the radios yet.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 17:03Interesting Bull Market. I am debating with myself how I will answer your comment. One comment is…You need to understand how radio waves work, a bit about electricity would not hurt either.Pondering my response in Pennsylvania.Thanks for playing, I think, Brother
  23. ChrisChris on October 19, 2019 at 19:00Well, my “grab and go” bag has an SG-2020 transceiver and an SG-237 tuner with mic, key, coax, adapters, fittings, power cables, control box (for the tuner), wires and screw in hooks, egg insulators, Kevlar cord, etc. And I have two rechargeable, portable batteries that are on (now unpowered) chargers. Or did they die too? There is a 100 W solar panel with a switching regulator set to 12 V and a separate charge controller for the LiFePO battery. So the real question is how much of it got destroyed? If it all survived – well it has been lots of fun for field day.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 16:59Great Chris! For kicks and giggles, lets play that you have nothing. Power, antenna, connectors, etc. Remember, the best laid plans of mice & men….Thanks Brother…
  24. GregGreg on October 20, 2019 at 09:19So I have been building batteries, and have gained some ground. Earth .8 volt with ,3 mamp from a 3/4″ copper coupler and a galvanized bracket. Then grabbed a pill bottle and wound 11 wraps of tv coax inside with a hot dipped nail in center for 1.018v and 50 mamps in vinegar. Being at dad’s house (because he’s the one who handed me a radio a few weeks back) I started looking for magnesium. He seen me circling his hot water tank, and said, “not from my tank!” I said, “Everyone must contribute for survival,” laughing my ass off as I walked off. However, it dawned that I missed the challenge- “Nothing has survived.”We would have to harvest our metals from the ground or animals in the form of Calcium. Additionally, we would have to prepare at least acids from ground elements or animal tissues. Stomach comes to mind. N3 has huge potential so farmland would be beneficial, as would other chemical sources. If I could build my Leyden Jar with clay, then maybe Aluminum would be possible, however, that’s more of secondary recivilization gig. Point is, we would have to start over and harvest from mother earth, and we need to learn how to do it again…just in case. Great Challenge!
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 16:57Interesting Greg. Keep in mind all those 12-volt batteries laying about in cars & trucks.Thanks for playing Brother
  25. Ben GouldBen Gould on October 20, 2019 at 15:20Using my solar/battery power backup, I get on the 60M channels and contact a MARS station. In a TEOTWAWKI event, MARS will be activated and MARS stations will be the primary link between the military/federal government and hams. Most hams do not know about this. They should.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 20, 2019 at 16:55Thank you for playing Ben. What will your antenna be? How will you make it? No peaking on the interwize now 😉Thank you for playing Brother.
  26. brunopbrunop on October 20, 2019 at 20:01Trick question, because Caracas isn’t in Colombia…
  27. upstaterupstater on October 23, 2019 at 12:18If we weren’t home, or home and supplies destroyed, and just had a radio – a lot depends on what kind. CB? HF? VHF/UHF? Assuming it runs on 12 volts, I’d be scavenging batteries from vehicles as mentioned by several, and paralleling to keep the discharge as light as possible. Find some old vise grips to make clamps to get the power wires connected. Parallel wires to keep voltage drop down. Plan on operating low power – 10-20 watts is sufficient for most needs. Scavenge wire from old extension cords – a 100 foot cord has 3 nice conductors that can be cut down side to make a dipole or fan dipole or sloper or 1/4 wave worked against ground. Wire nuts can be used to splice conductors, could scavenge them even from wrecked building wiring, along with more wire. Or look for aluminum electric fence wire – better than galvanized though that would work too. For connectors, find any piece of coax with the appropriate connector on the end and salvage it, splice antenna wires on to it by twisting conductors, wire nuts, butane powered soldering iron, etc.Any running vehicle could be used to charge up the batteries, albeit not using fuel very efficiently. A more economical charger could be cobbled up from a car alternator and a lawn mower engine. When salvaged gas runs out, a wood gasifier would work as mentioned previously. Plus any functioning solar panels. Even without a controller, just keeping tabs on battery bubbling or temp or volts if you can find a meter, open the circuit (or swap in a new battery to be charged) when one seems full up. Unless you have a ton of solar it would be hard to over charge most lead acid batteries. Most 100 watt radios draw a lot of standing current in the PA for transmit, so lowering output power doesn’t save as much power as you’d hope. And many have high receive current drains. The QRP rigs designed for Summits On The Air (SOTA) type ops excel in this kind of stuff. KX3, KX2, FT817, Xiegu G90, but you run what you brung. So plan on establishing operating windows to keep the current use down. Remember that whatever you use, you have to put about 140% back into the battery to account for losses.Scavenge old ARRL handbooks for how to do stuff. Commit to memory things like 468/f for figuring out antennas, you can derive a 1/4 wave from that if needed (/2). Think about how much easier this would all be if you just had a few things tucked away in a safe place, protected by EMP by a good foil bag, metal can, etc. How about a meter (VOM) that doesn’t require a battery to measure volts and amps, unlike all the DVMs. Solar panels. Charge controllers. Butane powered iron and solder. Tools. Reference books. Spare radios that you’re not using tucked away safe from EMP. HT’s with AA battery pack adapters. Eneloop batteries and ways to charge them. I think this is a great exercise to point out how a few relatively simple preps could make communications a whole lot easier post SHTF.
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 26, 2019 at 11:19Great thoughts upstater!Tomorrow, I have publishing an article on what I would do. Hopefully readers at AP would print-out some of the great ideas posted here and store away for “that day”.Thanks for commenting Brother
  28. SteveSteve on October 26, 2019 at 19:48Well, I have 4kw full solar at my house which is now rubble and what ever destroyed my other HT’s and SG2020 and left me with only my VX7R (bug out radio) must have also damaged my charge controllers (two Flex max 80’s) and other battery charging equipment. 6 8d batteries will give me power for the VX7R for a while, I can scavenge RG6 from the rubble of my house, I can also build a 2 meter J pole or wire antenna or use my torch and map gas to solder together a 2 meter ground plain antenna.
    I would attempt to reconfigure one of my 40 volt solar panels to 12v to direct charge a 12v battery.
    EOC in my area operate on 2 meters and we have an active Ham community in my area so getting word to someone with HF comms should be no problem. But it would be a pain in the ass!
    • johnyMacjohnyMac on October 27, 2019 at 12:08WOW! Six 8d batteries you must have needed help installing those bad boys. When MrsMac and I lived on the sailboat we had to replace out 2, 4d batteries. Due in part to their home location, it required two of my buddies and me to swap them out. LOL…Anyhow, thanks for Playing Steve.
  29. MikeMike on October 28, 2019 at 19:48lets see power – find a car battery. use an inverter if 120V is needed. antenna long wire tx grounded through a resistor – power lines would make a decent rx – if they are standing – if not you have miles of tx/rx line
  30. Pat A HinesPat A Hines on November 2, 2019 at 17:30That challenge has a huge number of variables to consider. For example, where I live, not so far from Palmetto Armory’s Greenville store, is unlikely to experience many natural catastrophes. I live in a rural environment, intentionally, and have neighbors who are preppers. A number of my neighbors have swimming pools, a water containment resource, and they have producing water wells.I have a functioning spring that flows no matter the prevailing weather, drought or not, so water isn’t an issue.I have a generator, which runs for 17 hours on its ten gallon gasoline tank. I always maintain at least twenty gallons of treated gas ready.My antenna field isn’t particularly vulnerable to catastrophes, so can’t say much about that.So, my curiosity would be, what sort of issue would apply across the board?
  31. woodchuckwoodchuck on January 8, 2020 at 23:22OK, some of the answers were rude! I operate all my radios on battery power. I have a generator for when I need it and can keep the batteries charged with a simple solar setup. My hf rig is a icom 706 2g, i have several vhf/uhf radios. I have operated in remote areas, desert and mountain. I have strung up wire antennas that work just fine,
    None of this is particularly difficult and most hams who have any applicable experience would be happy to teach, (elmer) anyone who asked. so ask!
  32. HummingBirdHummingBird on May 21, 2020 at 00:22I am going to assume that his is for those who have a HAM and have used it at some point. I am also going to assume that they have prepared in some way to survival a breakdown of our society.
    I have been prepping for some time now and realize you cant prepare for everything, but you can try. So my stashed items, would be retrieved and into the high mountain camp would be setup. The higher the position the better, not just communication but defensively. You then deploy the skills you received from NC-Scout training for setting up your antenna and tune in. Gather in Intel, while moving thru you new AO, setup-teardown. Hopefully your in a large area that has like minded people.

Author: Alfred E. Neuman

EDITOR ONLY, 74 year old geek, ultra-conservative patriot.

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