Hello my friend! In today’s post, we are going to take a look at hand-held communications and why more power is better in some cases and not in others. Knowing the difference could just save your life in an SHTF situation so set back and grab a cup of coffee while we chat.
So, what exactly am I talking about? I am talking about the radio communications that you will need to communicate with other members of your team as well as to hear what is going on in the world without the bias of our government controlled media. These come in several forms and choosing the right radio for the job is very important if you want to live. You see, radio signals can carry a long way and can be picked up by others that you might not want to hear what you are saying. Just for the record, I am talking primarily about the hand-held ham radios that most of us have. These are cheap and can be purchased on Amazon for only a few dollars. My two favorite ones are the Baofeng UV-5R and the Baofeng BF-F9HP V2 radios. The UV-5R has a maximum output of 4 watts, even though they claim it is 5 watts. The newer BF-F9HP V2 however is a tri-power (1-4-7 watts). While both of these are excellent radios when it comes to reliability and performance, in my mind they both have their own use for SHTF situations.
The UV-5R with its 4 watt setting is ideal for covering large areas such as a ranch or large compound. With only 4 watts, you can rest assured that the signal will not travel an exceedingly long-range and thus help keep your communications a little under the radar. If there is a large city nearby and you are trying to keep a low profile, then these are certainly a good choice. It has tons of frequency options, as well as having the ability for using tone when you need to hit a local repeater for even more range, that is if there is a working repeater in your area at the time. This is all information that it would pay you to look into now and not later. Having your radio preprogrammed for them will save you a ton of headaches latter on down the road. Now just bear in mind that you will need a FCC Amateur Radio license to operate them prior to SHTF, so it would good to have one so you can practice. They are easy to get and it cost about $15 to take the test which is given at most local ham clubs. I strongly suggest that you invest the time and money into getting one and not wait until SHTF hits to try to figure out how to use one.
The other radio we are going to discuss today is the Baofeng BF-F9HP V2 radio. With its tri-power settings it can reach out and touch someone if you really need to. Let’s say that you have an alliance with other groups in your area to support each other in case of attack. If something happens and you need to get In touch with them, then you are really want to be heard loud and clear and the extra wattage of this radio can make the difference. It can usually get you into the tower loud and clear when the UV-5R may not due to range. Like the UV-5R, it is strong and durable and will provide you with many years of reliable service. Something else to consider is that by using them to go through a repeater, it can actually make tracking you a little more difficult. Like I said earlier, knowing when to use each is important and while you might not always need the extra power, it is reassuring to know that you have it.
So why not just use a base unit instead of handhelds? Simple, while the base station and antenna on a tower will provide excellent coverage, the signal could also travel further and draw unwanted attention to you and your group. A base station is great for monitoring the airwaves for information, but I would think long and hard based on the situation about whether or not I would transmit on one. This is something that you will have to decide for yourself based on your current situation.
So why not just use a CB radio? I hear this one a lot and the simple reason is that CB radios have a very limited frequency range. They have basically only 40 channels that can easily be scanned by anyone including those that you don’t want to hear you. They just are not well suited for SHTF situations in my opinion. Also ham radios actually have thousands of channels that you could access so tracking you could be a little more difficult. They are for the most part not very portable even in hand-held form because of the length of their antennas which are much longer that ham radio portables. Another question I hear a lot is what about the little walkie-talkies that you see in the sporting goods stores? The truth is that the range that most advertise simply isn’t true. I have seen many that even claim to have a range of 37 miles. That simply isn’t possible due to the curvature of the earth. Unless you are in an airplane high above the ground, the 1 watt that they put out simply will not travel more than a couple of miles under the best circumstances. Believe me when I say they are a total waste of money unless you are trying to communicate between two points in the same building. A few good Baofengs will be what you need for local communications in an SHTF situation. With the cost of the Baofengs being so little, it is just good sense to use them in my opinion anyway.
Something else to consider is radio discipline when SHTF hits. Never transmit from your home location if you are using over 4 watts and you could probably get by with one in some situations. Never use more power that you absolutely need to complete the call at any time. When possible try to move several miles away from your group when using a higher powered radio, this will help hide your home base if they try to use direction finding to locate you. Never say exactly where you are or use your real name on the radio as well. By selecting the right radio to use in a given situation and practicing radio discipline anytime you do use one, then your survival and your ability to communicate can help you survive the coming darkness. Well that is it for today my friend and I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have any questions of comments, please add them below. Until next time, stay safe, stay strong, and stay prepared! God Bless!
1 thought on “More Power or not, that’s the question!”
Good article! I wish more people understood walmart type walkie talkies and CB radio as you do. I have three Baofengs, they are programmed to the nearby repeaters, and I have extra batteries. If we are communicating in the area that our antennas reach easily, not using the repeaters, we should have several frequencies (referred to as “simplex”) agreed on with or without a tone, so we have a primary frequency we always monitor but at a moments notice we can switch to any of several secondary frequencies we have code names for. Don’t try too hard to sound like the police or military you have seen on TV, just have several alternate frequencies you can refer to by code word, for example, “now switching to green three” each radio operator knows what frequency green three is, but outsiders won’t. I also have a mobile 2M/440 in the car and a mobile/portable HF rig. Best wishes to all!