Adding a powerful Ham Radio to your Bug Out Bag!

Hello, my friend and welcome back!  We all understand the value of having good reliable communications in any emergency. In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through adding a powerful Ham Radio to your bug out bag for times when you need more than a 5-watt hand-held radio.  Grab a cup of coffee my friend and have a seat while we visit.

You can reasonably be sure that in any emergency, there will be a lot of traffic on both VHF and UHF radio frequencies.  There will be people trying to find out what is going on, as well as those updating others on what is actually happening.  You’re going to want to want to monitor the frequencies for information in your local area.

Hand-held radios are inexpensive and easy to carry or throw in your bugout bag when not in use, but sometimes, the 5-8 watts they put out just isn’t enough to talk to others or even receive others.  Sometimes, things such as buildings or heavily forested areas can greatly reduce signal strength.

Not to worry, here is how you solve that problem.  First, you decide if you want to keep it in your bug out bag, or in a separate smaller bag. In any case, you’re going to need a bag, with a large pocket and a smaller one.  Here is what you will need to finish the project.

  • For a radio, I recommend the BTECH MOBILE UV-50X2. While you can use other radios, I suggest this one because of its small size and weight. It puts out a whopping 50 watts from a very small package. Cost runs about $160. There are cheaper radios as well.
  • Next, you’re going to need a battery to power it. These run about $20 and are small 12 volt batteries normally used to power deer feeders. Their compact size and light weight make them ideal for this purpose. You will need to change the connections on your power cord to fit the battery which is very easy to do.
  • I recommend a good dual band magnetic mount antenna as well. There are many out there and I’m sure you can find one you like for very little money. These run about $25 or more.
  • Then, you will want to get an “L” bracket for a 4X4 board. This is to set the antenna on. When traveling.

Attach the Radio mounting bracket to the inside of the smallest pouch that it will fit in.  I would use plastic rivets and be sure you can still close the pocket for rainy weather. Then cut a small slit on the inside,  to fit the power cord and antenna cables through .

Place the battery in the bottom of the large compartment and attach the power cord to it. After doing that, you will need to attach the “L” bracket to the outside of the bag, so it provides a platform for the magnetic base of the antenna to set on.  Connect the antenna cable to the back of the radio and roll any extra cable below the radio.

That’s about it.  There really isn’t a lot to it.  You can power on your radio when you’re walking to listen to wat’s going on in your area.  The large antenna will give you much better reception that of a hand-held radio.  If you’re having trouble hearing or transmitting to a particular frequency, then simply remove the antenna and attach it to the top of your vehicle or any metal surface to increase your range. With the 50 watts that this radio puts out, you should easily be able to reach out and touch someone.

Well, I know that today’s post has been a long one, but I really wanted to share this with you.  If you have children in your group, a small back pack with this setup could easily be carried by a child.  Total weight is usually less than 10 lbs., depending on the radio you choose.  If you have any questions, please let me know and I will try to answer them for you.

Until next time my friend, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared.  God Bless America.

-Sarge-

Sarge

Prepper, Patriot, and Proud U.S. ARMY Veteran.

You may also like...

9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Excellent Sarge, Thank-you

  2. Hank S. says:

    Good idea. Would just note that on VHF/2m the mag mount antenna is only 1/4 wave so it needs a larger surface area to attach to for better performance (garbage can lid side). For UHF and it’s much shorter wavelength, should work fairly well.

    N4LRS/NCScout/Matt @ brushbeater[.]wordpress[.]com has some great articles on antennas too.

  3. Karla says:

    Thank you for this information. We have several children in neighboring states and I have asked so many people for information about how to communicate them in a grid down situation and can’t get an answer – so you have any suggestions. This subject is over my head so I really need some easy to understand information. Thank you.

  4. Doc SEA73 says:

    Sarge, the spurious emissions are bad with anything Baofeng. You might want to look at something Yaesu produces to avoid cancer. Doc SEA73

  5. David Smith says:

    Sarge,

    Several problems with your idea. The brand radio you recommend is not reliable. The model you suggest is the new updated version which is a bit better that the older model which has poor reviews.
    Second, to use this radio you have to have a license issued by the FCC. You have to take a written test to obtain a license. Using it without a license can get you into deep legal trouble. I have heard of $10,000 fines using this type of radio with out an FCC License.
    Communications with neighboring states???? 2 meters is line-of-sight communications. If you live on the border of two states you can talk between two states. 2 meters is not for long distances. Ham Radio uses repeaters to extend the range.

    However, with corrections to your idea and discussing the complete ramifications your idea is OK.
    The Ham community has what we call go kits to be used in emergencies for local communications.

    • The Sgt. says:

      David,

      I do appreciate your input, but please understand that the exact radio they choose is completely up to them and I did point that out. You are correct that a Ham radio License is required to operate these radios which are very easy to get and in an actual emergency unless otherwise directed by the President of the United States, you can make an emergency call without one. Now as to the line of site distance you are talking about. I live in Lafayette La. and have talked to people much further than line of site. In fact, I have spoken to people on the Baton rouge Bridge several times. (Utilizing a repeater of course, but in most cases, they should be operating.) The term Line-of-site means different things to different people. When the weather conditions are just right, I can even talk to people in texas on VHF. It is true, that when speaking about VHF & UHF frequencies, that height is might though. By the way, I am a Ham radio operator with a General class license (K5IVR) and I do have more than one Go-Box as well. The issue I have with most go boxes is weight. This is the reason I came up with the comms bag. something you can grab and throw over your shoulder and go. For most people, however, all they will want to do is listen to see what is going on. I really hope this doesn’t come off sounding negative because that is not how it is intended. I appreciate all comments, good, bad, or otherwise. 🙂

  6. David Smith says:

    Hey Sarge,

    Back again.

    The requirement for an FCC License to use the radio in your article is the big thing missing. I am aware of 97.403 and 97.405 that basically allows anyone to transmit with an Amateur Radio in an emergency. However, you should have been quite clear about the license requirements. I think your article would have been perfect with a brief explanation of ham radio and the license requirements.

    Easy for some and not so for others. As a VE I watched adults fail and 12 year olds pass. My grandson passed his first FCC test at 12 years old.

    You mention making long distance communications on 2 meters but you do qualify by stating that you did it via repeaters. Yep, that surely extends the distance you can communicate on 2 meters. With my hand-held and a good antenna – Diamond RH77CA- I can work repeaters 30 to 40 miles away. For superior communications I have a small portable folding yagi that works wonders on 2 meters. I mount it on a small camera tripod. Between my QTH and the repeaters are several small mountains that do not help.

    For several years my main Go-Box was my van with 2 meters through 160 meters. All HF had the ability of running 600 watts.

    As you can guess, I also have a Ham License WQ1H. I have been involved the Emergency Radio Response System for the church I go to and have looked in to ways that non-amateur members in my area could communicate during a disaster. The response is usually, “I have my cell phone.” We both know what happens to Cell Phones in a disaster.

    A couple of questions:
    You indicate that a Hand-Held does not receive well because of its limit to 5-8 watts.
    I am not sure of this statement because input has no bearing the output of the receiving radio. My running 600 watts instead of 100 watts does not change my reception of the other station.

    The battery you have the link for may be fine for receiving however I would be concerned about transmitting. It has 8 Amp capacity where the radio loves 16 Amps.
    Have you considered a charger for this battery?

    I do appreciate your article. It is important aspect of disaster survival that many do not think about.

    • The Sgt. says:

      David, The limited reception I was talking about with handheld radios is based on the small antennas they come with, not the wattage, apologize if I didn’t make that clear.

  7. Ray Walters says:

    Very interesting.
    WA6OFL