Communication may not be one of the more glamorous elements of preppers’ gear, but communication is absolutely necessary for survival. Without reliable and trustworthy means of communication, preppers cannot stay informed and equipped to tackle any situation that comes their way.
Preppers often rely on ham radios, also referred to as amateur radios, for this purpose. These portable communication tools are remarkably versatile and highly dependable in times of emergency.
A radio’s antenna is an important factor in determining its range. A higher powered model with a removable antenna typically offers more range than one with a fixed antenna.
Selecting the correct antenna for your prepper radio is essential to its efficiency. Not only will it enable communication with others, relay information to emergency personnel, and shield your device against harmful radio frequency interference (RF) from nearby sources, but it will also protect it from damage due to improper installation.
For high frequency (HF) communications, it is essential to select an antenna that transmits well in all directions. To do this effectively, mount it high and in full view so your receiver can see it clearly.
The Ham HF band is an ideal option for long distance communication, particularly in emergency situations. These frequencies can cover thousands of miles without the need for repeaters or other repeating equipment.
Antennas for these bands are typically constructed out of wire and attached to poles or tree limbs. The wire must be long enough to reach the desired frequency and be at least 1/4 wavelength above ground level.
When it comes to Ham HF radio antennas, there are plenty of options. Some are portable (designed for backpacking), while others have more permanent attachments like those found on vehicle hoods, roofs and tailgates.
Another popular ham radio antenna is the NVIS antenna, which sends a signal directly into the ionosphere and returns it over an area ranging from three to seven hundred miles in diameter. This type of antenna works best at night when there are clear paths through the ionosphere but can be used day or night as long as there is adequate path for signal reception back on Earth.
This type of antenna requires a license to operate and isn’t recommended for beginners, but it has become an increasingly popular option among preparedness enthusiasts. Not only is it great for learning about emergency communications, but it can also connect you with other preppers around the country or world.
Antennas for these radios can be adjusted to various frequencies or used for digital modes like PSK31, FT8 and CW. Furthermore, some models support connecting to a SignaLink, which enables communication in digital modes like RTTY and SSTV.
Communication is essential when prepping. Cell phones and landlines may not function during an emergency, so having access to a radio can keep you connected with family and friends.
The speaker in a radio is an essential component, helping to receive audio from the antenna and transmitting it directly to your ears. Furthermore, this component provides you with the superior voice quality you expect from high-end radios.
There are various types of speakers, from dynamic to passive. Passive ones require an external amplifier for boost, while dynamic ones amplify sound directly from a coil of wire.
A typical loudspeaker consists of several components, such as the cone (also known as diaphragm), voice coil, and surround. The latter connects the cone to its basket/chassis and controls excursion of the diaphragm – that is, its outward and inward movement that produces vibration.
Additionally, it determines the driver’s power rating – that is, how much energy the driver can handle. This is measured by measuring its sensitivity (SPL) for a given input voltage at around one meter from the speaker.
The sensitivity of a driver is typically determined by several factors, such as its resonant frequency, phase characteristics and off-axis response. All these elements require careful engineering to ensure optimal performance.
Another essential element is the enclosure. Without one, the back of a driver can interfere with the front and degrade the quality of sound it generates, leading to cancellations which reduce bass levels at low frequencies.
The enclosure also shields the speaker’s drivers from dust and other impurities that could damage them over time. That is why some speakers feature a dust cap, commonly referred to as a dome, that attaches to their cone.
Prepping isn’t just about stockpiling food and ammunition – it’s also about having a plan for communication in case of disaster. That means having access to radios that can contact those nearby as well as receiving weather alerts and other essential info.
No need to spend a fortune for reliable radio service. The best models can be had for around $30-$80 and some even offer multiple functions (GMRS, FRS etc.), or can be charged through solar, hand crank or USB.
When searching for a radio, one of the most essential considerations is its battery life. If it only lasts a few hours, it won’t be sufficient to stay in touch with loved ones during an emergency. To ensure peace of mind in an unexpected emergency, always have backup power sources like generators or solar energy on hand.
Emergency radios can be a great way to stay in contact with other prepared individuals, but it’s up to you whether that should be your primary mode of communication. If all you need is access to the emergency broadcast system, an inexpensive AM or FM radio should do the trick; however, if you want to interact with other preparedness experts or preppers, then ham radio is necessary.
Ham radios can be used to access FM and emergency channels, or you can obtain a license to use the HF bands, allowing you to speak to everyone around the world. This latter option is especially handy when trying to learn what’s happening around the globe.
Most of these options offer a selection of bands, so you can listen to AM/FM, shortwave radio stations, NOAA weather stations or public alert bands (which is great for informing people what’s happening near you). Some even feature USB charging capability so you can charge your cell phone or other devices right from the radio itself.
The only requirement to become a ham radio citizen is that you must first obtain your license. Not only is it illegal to transmit without an authorized license, but hams are also subject to government regulation regarding how they operate their equipment.
When searching for a radio, it’s essential to guarantee it will provide ample power in an emergency. That means ensuring its battery can provide continuous operation for at least 24 hours without needing recharged.
It’s essential to find a radio that can be powered by multiple sources, so you have options in case of power outages or other emergencies. Some radios charge off solar energy while others require hand cranks, AA batteries or a USB charger for charging.
Most prepper radios can hold up to 2,000 mAh of power, providing enough charge for one day or two of use in an emergency. If you are prepping while traveling or need to carry around heavy items, look for one with a smaller, lighter battery so it can easily fit in your bag without too much hassle.
Another feature to consider is a depth of discharge (DoD) rating. A high DoD puts additional strain on a battery, potentially reducing its lifespan.
A battery’s lifespan is typically measured in years or cycles, depending on its usage and how often it’s charged and discharged. The number of cycles can be affected by the type, quantity, quality of cells used as well as the environment in which it is stored.
Some lithium-ion batteries are designed with a 100% depth of discharge rating, so you can use their entire capacity without significantly degrading it. This feature makes them particularly ideal for prepper radios, as it guarantees your emergency radio will last as long as possible before you need to replace it.
You can power this survival radio using several methods, including a solar panel, hand crank or six AA batteries. According to CC Crane, the battery should be “cycled” every 4-6 months – an interval that may not seem often but still ensures you get 40 minutes of talk time per charge.