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Sudden Radio Silence in High Risk Scenarios 15 - April - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Emcomm, Freecom, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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At Boston we’ve ben attacked as a nation by a bomber.

Our prayers and thoughts are with those killed and injured, and their families.

Our heartfelt thank you and admiration goes out to those who responded, especially as they really didn’t know if they themselves were safe from an additional bombing.

From the news one item dealing with RF jumped out – the Cell Phone Network was instantly taken down by authorities to prevent its use as a trigger for any additional bombs.

Bombs, or IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) if you prefer, are typically controlled in two ways:

  • Time
  • Trigger

For Time you can imagine the electronic, mechanical, or chemical functional equivalent of a “fuse.”  Once the fuse is lit, the bomb will be set off at a set period of time afterwards.  The timer can be internal or external, but the functional distinction of a Time Bomb is the device is exploded based on Time as the primary criteria.

For Trigger devices there may be manual control (pull a string, a trip-wire, or hit the detonator with an impact), electronic control (wires back to detonator control box),  a conditional control (goes off when stepped on, moved, opened, when wet, or any other a number of sensor based criteria), radio control (think of the door lock button on your car’s key fob, or perhaps its own cell phone or other receiver), or other set-off methods.  The main criteria of Trigger is that external stimulus is needed to set the bomb off.

There are combinations of Time and Trigger – the combinations are endless.

As radio amateurs we’re interested in the Trigger by Radio.  In the Boston case authorities feared/theorized that the cell phone network was a potential Trigger and for safety they shut it down.

In the videos released I didn’t spot any first responders, police, fire or security on radios, though it is unclear if radio silence was being enforced.

Often used in warfare, there are jamming countermeasures that might be deployed, which deny the use of the RF spectrum as a Trigger.  Some variations are intended to set off the RF based Trigger exploding a device from a stand-off situation.

The cowards who did the Boston bombings very likely may have controlled the bombs by cell phone.

In a situation like this bombing one has to reflect if keying up an HT is very smart – at least until the area is searched for additional devices & cleared.  If the enemy has left a tiered pattern of devices the RF from an HT may be the next device’s Trigger.

Temporary self imposed Radio Silence in High Risk Scenarios may be needed until the “all clear” is given.

“Certainly much more will come to light about the remote Cell Phone detonation of the devices, over the next few days and weeks.

Again our prayers and thoughts are with those killed and injured, and their families.

73

Steve
K9ZW

EMP and our Radios – From an Email Discussion 14 - March - 2013

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Freecom, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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With Paul AE5JU I’ve been discussing by email what I’ve read in EMP literature.

There are three types of EMP energy risks. Each with their own mechanisms and countermeasures.

Some sources:

http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1549/1

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA239648

http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/www/effects/eonw_11.pdf

And less formal but useful sources:

http://www.futurescience.com/emp.html

http://www.futurescience.com/emp/EMP-myths.html

http://www.futurescience.com/emp/vehicles.html

http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/nuke/emp.htm

http://preparednesspro.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/emp-101-part-iv-faraday-cage/

http://www.survivalblog.com/2013/02/a-preppers-guide-to-emp-by-chris-c.html

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100908_gauging_threat_electromagnetic_pulse_emp_attack

As EMP E1,E2,E3 are very different with different effects and countermeasures, I’ll post some of our thoughts down the road in relationship to each type of EMP and Ham Radio.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Something to tuck away for rainy day: Popeye’s Guide to PSK the natural way 25 - March - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Freecom, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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From the good folk at Radio Free Redoubt, this PDF explains how to listen to PSK – a very interesting, and in case of emergency potentially very important, amateur radio digital mode – with a receiver with some earbuds, a computer with fldigi and a piece of tape.

The PDF is “Popeye’s” article with the comments distilled into an paragraph appendix.

Of course other PSK software will work. The fldigi selection is solid and it is available for a lot of platforms.

This works – at our club we’ve done a demo doing it this way, including adding the other link between the computer & in our case transceiver to do the transmit side.

The technique fits very well with the Freecom idea of personal preparedness.

Source URL for fldigi http://www.w1hkj.com/

Download URL for fldigi (Linux, Windows, OS X, Puppy Linux and Source) http://www.w1hkj.com/download.html

Original Post at Radio Free Redoubt http://radiofreeredoubt.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-receive-ham-radio-digital.html

The Radio Free Redoubt main page http://radiofreeredoubt.blogspot.com/ (expected to change this Spring to http://www.radiofreeredoubt.com/ – that URL is presently in testing and will make their website MUCH more readable!)

Tuck this away for rainy day. It is worth downloading the fldigi program mentioned, as a “just in case.”

Of course you can try this now too!

73

Steve

K9ZW

LINK to the PDF: Popeye’s Guide to PSK the natural way.pdf

Radio Free Redoubt: AmRRON & The American Redoubt Network 25 - January - 2012

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Freecom, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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A very interesting Freecom-style emergency network:

WHAT IS AmRRON?

AmRRON is a network of Redoubters who have volunteered take their American Redoubt Network involvement to another level. These are patriots (men and women) who have volunteered to use their communications equipment to keep the American Redoubt connected when other means of communications (aka. “Comms” or “Commo” are unavailable or unreliable.
There are two types of AmRRON volunteers (Radio Operators):
1. HAM OPERATORS (or licensed Amateur Radio Operators)
2. RELAYS

HAM OPERATORS: Use their equipment and skills to keep the American Redoubt connected and informed, to coordinate the efforts of Redoubters, and to promote the American Redoubt movement. Many of them have capabilities that allow them to stay connected across the entire American Redoubt, as well as with other Redoubters and patriots (and other redoubts that will emerge in the future) across the country and even in other countries. They may also relay relevant information, alerts, coordination of efforts, and promotion of the American Redoubt movement to Redoubters in their local area using the CH3 Project frequencies. The frequency bands that are covered by many Ham Operators include HF (shortwave), 2m, 72cm, CB, FRS/GMRS, and MURS. The AmRRON frequencies are outlined in the AmRRON Frequency Plan on a separate site set up for those joining the American Redoubt Network.

RELAYS: A Ham Operator can also volunteer to be a “Relay,” which is encouraged. But Relays are typically Redoubters who have volunteered to monitor for radio traffic from other Redoubters, and then Relay that information across their local area, or to a Ham Operator, who can then pass the information on to others in the network. Most Relays have at LEAST one type of CH3 Project communications, such as a CB (Citizens Band radio), FRS (Family Radio Service), or MURS (Multi-Use Radio System). But they generally SHOULD have some type of communications that can monitor for radio traffic from Ham Operators, such as a high quality shortwave radio or a police scanner (typically from 30mhz to 800mhz). This way they can hear traffic from many, many miles away and relay that to Redoubters in their local area using CH3. The AmRRON frequencies are outlined in the AmRRON Frequency Plan on a separate site set up for those joining the American Redoubt Network.

http://radiofreeredoubt.blogspot.com/p/amrron-network.html

73

Steve
K9ZW

Why I only do Indepependent Personal Emcomm…. 28 - November - 2011

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Emcomm, Freecom, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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I’ve been asked why I limit my Emergency Communications involvement to little more than Personal Preparedness?

There is a whole raft of reasons:

Staying off lists.

I’m not interested in being on targeted lists.  In the best of times they lead to requests and demands I may have never intended to offer my services for, and in the worst of times they are ready-made radio confiscation lists.  Perhaps having a bit of  a background in doing the government side of working lists & information has made me edgy, as I basically want to keep my “private citizen, not involved” status whenever possible.

Family, neighbors, coworkers and community come first.

I don’t want to have some semi-official status pulling me away from doing what I have committed to do first – that is taking the best care & contributing where I can for Family, Neighbors, Coworkers and my very local Community first.

Not interested in “playing army” having really been a Soldier.

A real put-off is the paramilitary feel and games some parts of organized Emcomm have taken on.  While I understand the need for discipline and a standard methodology, I have enough experience at the real military that I’m not going to play around pretending I am still in service.

There are other forms of organization, motivation and coordination that can work for a volunteer group rather than the paramilitary model.

Just because you’re licensed longer, take more meds, and have plenty of spare time doesn’t mean I can trust your leadership.

One of the ways people arrive in leadership in many Emcomm groups is to have the time available to them.  This often means the energetic young leaders are expected to follow good folk who circumstances have put a lot of time in their laps.  Not every everyone who has retired, happens to be out of work, or is medically off work, makes a leader a volunteer can trust.  Many are great folks having their first stab at leading volunteers, which can be rather “interesting.”  Unfortunately some are prone to leadership flaws that keep them from being effective.

Demands that I compromise personal safety by disarming to help Emcomm are irresponsible demands.

This is a personal pet peeve.  Maybe these Emcomm Leaders don’t understand he life experiences I have had that leads me to select appropriate protection when prudent, but I am not delegating my individual personal safety to them.  Sitting back in their grant money funded Emcomm bunkers one could argue that they don’t even have enough skin in the game to say anything at all how a rover or home based Emcomm volunteer keeps themselves safe.

This demand to disarm by Emcomm crosses an non-negotiable infringement on how I keep myself safe, and I am certainly not altering my stance to volunteer.

Knowing the games played to place truthful information flow under political control, can a person keep their integrity intact in organized Emcomm?

Time has leaked out so much about the attempts to control information during Katrina – when cellphone systems were shut down to meet information control goals, that one wonders if  they can ethically be part of any repeat?  The moves to obscured transmissions and encrypted internet type traffic for Emcomm is not all about getting the information out there, is it?

I really didn’t get into this hobby to play traffic cop.

I love too much the varied aspects of Amateur Radio and originally became involved for technical interests with a special interest in the old HF long distance aviation navigation system for overseas flights.  I’ve built some of my own gear and have experimented with leading edge (and “bleeding edge”) gear throughout the 20 plus years I’ve been involved.

It wasn’t a civic duty as a focus that drew me to amateur radio.

So what do I do?  Independent Emcomm a.ka. “Freecom”

There is a lot an individual can do to be an Independent Emcomm ready – a Freecom Amateur.  I’d taken almost every ARRL pre-FEMA on-line course, have built up a very modest but well proven portable station and have kept abreast of the latest in Emcomm.

Having a generator and batteries to operate off grid, a selection of portable antennas, and enough gear to go to the field is useful.

Most important though is gaining enough knowledge and technical references to build & repair gear.  And to improvise.

All of this is a lot of fun – from building transceivers to satellite antennas to mobile-shack accessories.

All without attending a meeting, a drill or playing games.

73

Steve
K9ZW

Personal Emergency Communication Preparedness for a Modern Radio Amateur the Freecomm Way 28 - October - 2011

Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, Emcomm, Freecom, K9ZW Just Rambled.
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3 comments

What is the Radio Amateur’s responsibility for Personal Emergency Communication Preparedness?

Yeah, let’s get that answered and out of the way.

In absolutes their responsibility is “none” – zero, nada, zilch – none.

Personal Emergency Communications Preparedness, even for those of us who are ARRL members, is not a requirement.

[ Wipe Brow and Sigh here ]

That out of the way, it would be an extraordinary Radio Amateur who didn’t have some level of interest in Personal Emergency Communication Preparedness.

That interest could range from simply being glad there are ARES/RACES Groups, to having a grid-independent multi-mode station with portable personal go-packs.

What you do is completely up to your interests, resources, whims and desires.

Some years ago the Freecomm idea of active Personal Emergency Communication Preparedness without the formal structures & obligations was floated.

As a response to the increasing professionalization of existing Emcomm organizations the Freecomm idea is to share techniques, operating pricinples and ideas, without an imposed hierarchy and operating procedure.

Freecomm is most able to use innovative techniques and adaptive structure to accomplish Amateur Radio’s emergency communication desires, where Emcomm is about meeting the served agencies’ requirements in the ways & methods they dictate.

It could be argued that Freecomm is Emergency Communications for the True Patriots in our society.

Very curious what readers think of the distinction – am I making too much of the Freecomm/Emcomm difference, or is it as important as I’m seeing?

Comments welcome,

73

Steve
K9ZW

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