Tag Archives: Freecom

Ham Radio’s Second Century – Being on the Ready for TEOTWAWKI



Ham Radio’s Second Century – Being on the Ready for TEOTWAWKI

At the 2015 W9DXCC Chicago September 12th 2015 banquet the Keynote Speaker, ex-FCC General Counsel (retired) Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH spoke to the need for Ham Radio to be ready for essentially “TEOTWAWKI”, as the decentralized independent hobbyist will be critical to their country (and humanity) in any post-apocalyptic situation.

TEOTWAWKI is shorthand for “The End Of The World As We Know It” which is a phrase most of recognize from pop songs of a certain era, and an unexpected concept for a DX Club keynote speech.

Riley K4ZDH painted a critical need for hams and their capabilities to communicate when all other means are down in a world that has suffered a Cyber War. The Internet of Things is projected to increase its interconnectivity to include some 50 billion nodes, whether people, things or virtual interconnects per projections he quoted, setting us up for a “world of hurt” (pun very much intended) if we are denied that connectivity.

Leon Panetta’s 2012 speech outlining the catastrophic impact of a Cyber Pearl Harbor was the highest ranking government warning Riley K4ZDH referenced, but we’d already listened to earlier talks about Solar Activity and most hams are well aware of the potential impact from a natural event. Less likely scenarios like EMP Bombing were not mentioned, but a quick web search will give a reader days’ worth of public source information about various government and other EMP projects.

Parts of Mr Panetta’s warning are reported in the October 11th 2012 New York Times:

“Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Thursday that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation’s power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government.

In a speech at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, Mr. Panetta painted a dire picture of how such an attack on the United States might unfold. He said he was reacting to increasing aggressiveness and technological advances by the nation’s adversaries, which officials identified as China, Russia, Iran and militant groups.

“An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches,” Mr. Panetta said. “They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”

Defense officials insisted that Mr. Panetta’s words were not hyperbole, and that he was responding to a recent wave of cyberattacks on large American financial institutions. He also cited an attack in August on the state oil company Saudi Aramco, which infected and made useless more than 30,000 computers.”

The largely DXer (hams who focus on making contacts with other countries, collecting records of those contacts for recognition among their peers) and Contester (hams who do highly organized “drills” contacting others in specific time frames and rule sets, competing for the most effective ham or ham teams, again recognized by peers in the hobby) audience were specifically a critical resource per Riley K4ZDH as these groups represent a large group of the best operators – the sorts who know how to make radio contacts under adverse condition and while under pressure.

The discipline of these types of operators lends itself very well to passing traffic with a speed and accuracy, and technically prowess noteworthy among hams.   They typically have access to first-rate stations and gear, tend to be highly motivated, capable and independent individuals, and are well-practiced at the competitive parts of the ham hobby.

Woven into Riley K4ZDH’s talk were references on the important of traffic net capabilities and a critical need to get new & younger hams involved.

Implied with the DXers and Contesters was that they were not “part of the system” that would be attacked and/or fail. It was noteworthy that he did not mention EMCOM, ARES, RACES, FEMA, MARS or any other organized emergency communication group, but instead focused on the independent high capability ham offering their services as a time of need – after TEOTWAWKI.

There are many parallels to Mr. Hollingsworth’s statements and the premises behind the FREECOM proposal calling for individual readiness rather than “in system emergency preparedness.” To be fair Riley K4ZDH did not actually use the work TEOTWAWKI nor did he take time to discuss the current organized EMCOM situation. So perhaps some bias has entered into what I took away from his speech.

Nonetheless the message rang true – be prepared, be ready, keep your skills and capabilities up, get younger people involved and hope that like those school fire drills when we were kids that preparedness and awareness keep trouble at bay.

In a future series of articles I will refresh the ideas behind FREECOM and how using those ideas you two can be part of this state of preparedness.






New FREECOM perfect radio – AnyTone Tech TERMN-8R Dual Band Radio

AnyTone Termn-8R Mega-HT

Just ordered a new handheld: AnyTone Tech TERMN-8R Dual Band Radio.

The TERMN-8R includes built-in GMRS and MURS modes with 23 GMRS channels and 5 MURS Channels. The TERMN-8R is FCC Certified for Part 90 and Part 95 usage. The TERMN-8R is able to Transmit and Receive fully on Narrowband (12.5kHz).

The TERMN-8R is one of the most flexible radios available, it can receive transmissions on 6 Different Bands. It can receive on UHF (400-520MHz), VHF (136-174MHz), Aircraft AM (108-136MHz), FM Broadcasts (64-108MHz), Short-Wave AM (2.3-30MHz), and AM Broadcasts (520-1710kHz). Plus NOAA

The TERMN-8R has two built-in receivers (full duplex). You can receive two signals at the same time; you can even transmit and scan (or receive) at the same time! The TERMN-8R also allows you to use your radio as a cross band repeater (VHF/UHF or UHF/VHF).

and much more. Arrives to the K9ZW Shack Wednesday.




EDIT March 29th 2015

Got busy and the radio sat unopened.  To my disappointment the radio is unusable, having been produced with a faulty antenna socket (lacks the required threads).  Very suspect, as how could the raid have passed Quality Control?  And how could it have even been tested once assembled?


Anytone Termn-8R missing threads

Anytone Termn-8R missing threads

The radio has gone back for a refund.  I cannot afford to depend on gear that hasn’t even had basic QC performed.




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

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!




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

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Radio Free Redoubt: AmRRON & The American Redoubt Network

A very interesting Freecom-style emergency network:


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)

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.




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Why I only do Indepependent Personal Emcomm….

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.



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Personal Emergency Communication Preparedness for a Modern Radio Amateur the Freecomm Way

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,



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