Thinking Ahead – When to Put Your Radios Away in preparation for Troubled Times

Another in the Thinking Ahead series started with

Considering “When to Put Your Radios Away in preparation for Troubled Times” one has to recognize that it is the nail standing proud that gets the next hammer blow.

If the situation is such that being on the air can cause trouble for you, it is time to put your radios away.

RDF (Radio Direction Finding) is a mature technology that will pin point your transmitter in situations where their are consequences for being on the air.  The military had Ground Surveillance Radar operators (GSR) who basically had a radar strapped to their chest to look for the enemy.  Well the enemy figured out how to ID the GSR operator and shoot them.  It was said that in the Vietnam War a GSR operator battle lifespan was measured in a few days.

So (surviving) GSR operators learned to displace themselves from their antenna, which seemed to work for a while, until the enemy got wise to the ruse.

RDF of receivers is also a reality.  In countries with TV license taxes their governments include the use of RDF in how they track down unlicensed TV receivers.  The way this work is receivers do emit coherent energy, which can be sensed.

There are Antenna Displacement Theories that by use of a enough feedline you can avoid capture.  Of course the feedline length is about the maximum delay achieved by displacing your antenna.  So the feedline needs to be long or non-physical.

Lessons learned from the WWII Resistance Radio Operators are if you have to run your gear, run it for short periods of time only.  This includes receivers.  This decreases the RDF exposure, but of course doesn’t eliminate it.  After a shorts session they moved, concealed their gear or at times sacrificed the gear by destroying it or abandoning it.  There is much history about this available, and I did have a chance to spend some time with former French resistance fighters in Normandy some years ago, where I heard their oral recounting of what they did.

A bit of ALE perhaps might be order?  Especially the frequency jumping versions makes it less easy for non-specialized RDF equipment to RDF your operation.

Some lessons from Sri Lanka tigers is using the opposition’s own equipment and using repeaters in secure locations.  Seems they were at times able to use opposition’s own repeaters and when they had a toe hold sited their own repeaters there.

If you want to talk you better listen – reception situational awareness on your frequency plus usual frequencies the opposition tends to use is important before you key up your transmission.

So you decide to put your gear away, what can you do?

If you have an establish ham shack, you may as well leave your gear in place, as unless you go into hiding with your gear the opposition knows there was a station there.

If you are running portable you have a chance of caching your gear for recovery later, or taking it with you as you evade the opposition.

While annoying if your gear is taken or destroyed preserving yourself comes first.

There is a lot to the idea that there may be emergencies when putting your radio gear away is prudent.  I am hoping that my post gets you thinking about the potentiality.



One thought on “Thinking Ahead – When to Put Your Radios Away in preparation for Troubled Times

  1. Wil Robinson says:

    Very good article, Steve. The point about hams and their locations being well known (publicly for those who know how to find it) is a good one. IMO, that’s why mobile HF is essential, and practice with it before it’s needed/wanted for use in an “emergency.” POTA provides an opportunity for this, with an added bonus of practicing camping (or bugging out, if one prefers).

    73 de n6bvz/4 wil
    L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

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