What happens if the Internet gets shut down?
Or: Imagine that the transfer of ICANN to the UN takes effect, and suddenly your IP address is blacklisted. You can’t get a viable domain. And the Powers That Be are tracking your efforts to establish anonymous proxies, and keep blocking your access. What alternatives do you have?
These scenarios overlap with the problem of what to do if the grid goes down. A diligent household prepares alternate means of long-distance communication, and that’s what Brushbeater talks about in this detailed primer on HF radio:
Your First HF Station
So far, in following the Survivalist paradigm concerning radio, we’ve discussed the many uses of hand held sets, due to their overwhelming popularity but far more importantly their largely misunderstood role. Capable of local, or Line of Sight ( LOS ) communications, they are often the entry-level communications device that most cut their teeth upon. Mobile VHF or UHF sets usually offer more power and increased range, but basically accomplish the same goals with most off the self models leaving out AM and SSB from the upper bands. But from there, the next step seems bewildering at a minimum and inaccessible at worst. The advantages of HF communications however, are numerous and bring to the table tools that possibly get overlooked in other contexts. That being said, getting on HF is kinda tough. You need at least a General Class radio license, which is certainly attainable but no small feat, and the selection of equipment is nothing short of bewildering ( as well as expensive in many cases ). Hopefully by the end of this, together we’ll get a better understanding of meeting our requirements.
The first question in a lot of minds among the uninitiated is ‘Why is this important? Why do I want to talk to people I don’t know?’
Well, at first glance, this would seem logical. In a grid-down, crazy variable-x situation, talking to people you don’t know could endanger your ‘opsec’ and ‘put your preps at risk’ (these are both face value arguments I’ve heard) and that possibly may be true over LOS. If you’re talking to people you don’t know on VHF, they very likely are within range to affect your near-term living condition. This is not necessarily logical over HF. First, the antenna size required for efficiency (in most cases) and complication of operation negates likely hostiles baiting folks over HF. It’s just too hard. You’ll most likely find that stuff on the license-free options.
Second, and much more important, is that HF creates self-controlled regional and even global communications. Yes, you read that right. Sure, there’s shortwave radio stations to be heard, but we can do that with some of the higher-end handheld radios I’ve previously recommended or the excellent SW receivers on the market without buying a much more expensive and complicated HF set. But those SW stations are filtered, written and approved by someone with an agenda, as nearly all international stations are state-run and to varying degrees exist as propaganda tools.
You can communicate world wide over HF, with relatively small amounts of power, provided you understand the components of the system. But why would you want to? Remember Venezuela? We knew about Venezuela’s problems before the news reported them because their Amateurs were on the air talking about it. And some of us talked to them about it, getting first hand information, raw and unfiltered. Why do you think Turkey cancelled a substantial number of radio licenses post-coup attempt? To control what info got out to the world, as well as prevent a substantial communications network among potential partisans. But say, you have a license now, and it gets cancelled as a result of some variable-x scenario… your skill set still does not go away. Your spare equipment you’ve stashed away can get up and running and on the air, even after your primary set was confiscated with your license. And for those who will now read this and snarkily say, ‘ then why bother with a license?’, I’ll state that you cannot gain the skill required to communicate over HF without doing it on a regular basis. Just not happening, snowflake.
HF also creates a very reliable regional communications system, via NVIS propagation on the lower half of the High Frequency bands ( 160-40m, reliably ). This has been covered substantially on this blog; review the information, it’s not there for my entertainment. NVIS is a technique that provides communications in that tricky zone where LOS fizzles out but the higher end of HF skips over. It’s relatively reliable but requires regular practice and study to get right, which starts with getting on the air and doing it. So let’s talk about doing that.
Read the rest at Brushbeater, including “Building Your HF Station”.