Category Archives: Emcomm

What Happens After an EMP Event (Natural or Man Made)

What happens after an EMP Event (Natural or Man Made)? A question that many preparedness-minded hams have contemplated, but hard data & facts are scarce.

An organization Government Attic,, asked througha Freedom of Information Act request what would happen to say FEMA, after an EMP event.

They received as a response “Mitigation strategies for FEMA command, control, and communications during and after a solar superstorm”, which paints a fairly grim picture of what could face all of us in not only a Solar Superstorm, but by interpolation what could be in store for society after a purposeful EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) event.

In summary “low-frequency, high-consequence events like the Carrington-Hodgson superstorm of 1859 or the Great Storm of 1921 have the potential for catastrophic impact on our nation.”

On page 7, the section “GPS: A Special Concern” is very interesting, as FEMA studies suggest the GPS system with its older satellites has a special vulnerability.

Pages 13 & 14 identifies areas of the USA that will struggle to keep the lights on during an EMP event. Ouch!

In terms of HF, FEMA early in document remarks that they consider HF a non-core communications segment for their needs, and last in document remark that part of the reason HF is not well used is “Lack of trained operators.”

So what can we take away as hams after a Super Solar Storm or other Major EMP Event?

  • Power will be unreliable to unavailable for segments of the country.
  • Excepting LEO (Low Earth Orbit) Satellites, the functionality of Satellite Based Systems like GPS will be compromised.
  • LEO based Communications (SatPhone) being a major communication method for FEMA and other government agencies may be “filled up” with their uses and needs.
  • The same government types seem to be “meh” about HF, so provided we are allowed to operate HF as it returns post event might be a very useful and uncrowded communications area.
  • Reading that the government leans to fiber for wired communications, hams may find an advantage introducing some fiber as an electrical “fire break” between their radio gear and the outside world.
  • Spare gear may be better protected if kept in shielded storage (Faraday Cage designs).

About five years ago I had added a bit of fiber to my main setup:

The the main QTH moved I built in the same with an underground run:

(I do keep spare electronics for this link in a shielded container, though I expect upstream the internet likely will take some time to come back up.)

While I do have some of the other issues and opportunities covered, it is time I brush off plans and revisit.




Thinking Ahead – Importance of Plan-B as an Amateur Radio Operator

Another in the Thinking Ahead series started at

In this post I’ll discuss why having a Plan-B is important to an amateur radio operator.

What is Plan-B?  In ham terms we are talking about contingency planning in terms of keeping ourselves on the air.  A link for contingency plan definition can be found at 

In terms of our ham radio operations we can break down our Plan-B needs into a couple broad categories:

  • Equipment – Antennas
  • Equipment – Transceiver
  • Equipment – everything between Transceiver and Antenna
  • Equipment – Support items
  • Infrastructure – Power
  • Infrastructure – Internet
  • Physical – Shelter
  • Physical – Security
  • Physical – Mobility
  • Knowledge – Troubleshooting and Repair resources
  • Knowledge – Skeds (Schedules) and Frequencies
  • Knowledge – Expected QSO partners

Let’s dig in a little deeper, using questions for each area:

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What you know and what you don’t know in terms of Virus Preparations

If you are looking for a reference site on the Coronavirus, this is not it.  Rather I’d like to discuss what you know and what you don’t know.

Yup, I’m including you the reader in my limited knowledge.

First you know that you have a bad case of Normalcy Bias, and have it all the time.  Kind of comes with the territory of being human.  We like to think things are known, work the say way every time, and no matter what we will be okay.

Then you know that a very large part of the Virus information we are given is incomplete and inaccurate.  China didn’t go into large scale lockdown and shut down its economy over some 80,000 ill folks that they claim are all okay now and a 2.1% claimed death rate among the ill.  They didn’t mobilize to built instant-hospitals and weld the door shut on people in their apartments without a reason greater than what they have shared.  When our own government creates a Whitehouse led taskforce meeting daily and allocates $8-billion as an initial virus fund you know something more is afoot than a bad case of the flu going around. 

You know that when you look at what governments are doing, they are really concerned and are posturing to help the citizenry through some difficult times.  

We shouldn’t be surprised as this is why we have a government – to do the things for society through an aggregate action that society in a granular form cannot/will not be able to do.  

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What can Ham Radio do in Assisting the Coronavirus Response?

After much online discussion it seems that Amateur Radio can provide a ham’s assistance in responding to the emerging Coronavirus in three main ways:

  • Dissemination of Practical Information
  • Moral Support to those in Quarantine or otherwise affected
  • As an “Honesty Check” for Media and Official Information sources

As a disease and its spread do not directly challenge other means of communication beyond limiting some face-to-face conversations, the traditional role of Emcomm/Freecom to provide a viable backup during communication disruptions won’t be in play.

Let’s look at the three ways the ad hoc conversations suggested would be helpful:

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Ham Radio and Coronavirus – hardly a peep?

WIth the W8S Swains Island DXPedition pushed out to fall in response to the Coronavirus precautionary quarantine (See Jeff KE9V’s write up at ) what else are you hearing about the Coronavirus of substance on the Ham bands?

I had hams email me if I was aware of any Coronavirus response frequencies being used. They had read my prior postings: and and I had to tell them I had heard of no special frequencies in use.

What might be the cause for this?

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Revisiting one’s Go-Kit

Following up on a request that would use my main go-kit that didn’t result in an actual need to use my equipment, I decided to “play radio” with the gear.

First I found that some of my gear was disorganized following our QTH move.  My bad – my real bad!  As a convenience in the house move things got split up.

Second I found some of my gear was not-deployment ready.  Either just didn’t work, or because I had let it sit too long needed servicing to be usable.

Third and last, anything rechargeable simply wasn’t charged.

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