Category Archives: Freecom

Thinking Ahead – Will you be White-listed, Black-list or Grey-listed through Emcomm as an Amateur Radio Operator

Another in the Thinking Ahead series started with https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/im-a-ham-or-am-i/

It has been a while since I continued this series, but current affairs seem to make it worth exploring again.  Suggest that the reader check out at least some of the initial batch of posts in the “Think Ahead” series.

In previous posts I discussed about “lists.”

Here I’d like to explore what are White, Black and Gray Lists, how you might find yourself on one or more, and what it might mean to you as an amateur radio operator.

Recap, what are lists?  While taught doctrine uses “White, Black and Gray” as labels more exact labels would be “Good Guys,” “Bad Guys,” and the “Unknowns.  Before anyone gets uptight about the taught labels, the were drawn from popular use in Western Movies and Books.

Who maintains the lists? The lists are arbitrary creations by the users.  They create the criteria and place people into their lists.  This means that while you might be “White Listed” for one agency, an agency that doesn’t know you will likely put you into a “Gray List.”

Who can see the lists? They are seldom published, with the exception of public listings that declare a label (“Domestic Terrorist” is one such “Black List” label we are seeing in the news right now).  For the most part you will usually only be able to infer which list you are one unless the list creator tells you or publishes your status.

Recap on what they mean:

White List – “Good Guys” like the cowboys wearing the white hats in the movies.  The ones you believe you can trust.
Black List – “Bad Guys” like the cowboys wearing the black hats in the movies.  The ones you know are untrustworthy.
Gray List – “Everyone Else” like the background people in the cowboy movies.  The people you don’t have enough information to classify into the White or Black List.

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

Another in the Thinking Ahead series started at https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2019/09/10/im-a-ham-or-am-i/

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  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contingency_plan 

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 https://ke9v.net/2020/02/23/due-to-pandemic/ ) 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: https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2020/02/17/lets-talk-on-the-radio-but-perhaps-put-off-eyeball-qsos-for-a-bit-a-hams-response-to-the-coronavirus/ and https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2020/01/31/infections-like-coronavirus-and-ham-radio/ 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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