Offline Hootie

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The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:  1322
DATE:         March 27, 2014



Special Note – If you don’t get over to during or after this interview you are cheating yourself out of a HUGE range of resources that Steven Has Made Available to you that go along with an clarify many things in this episode.
Steven Harris returns to TSP this time to discuss radios and I mean everything radios for the common man. As is typical with Steven he did so much research that today’s show may come off like a college short course in emergency radio use.  Rather than say, “become a HAM”, Steven has taken the approach of radios for the rest of us.   Like those of us that don’t want to make radio part of our life, simply part of our preps.
Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.
Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.
Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception. Today he covers generators with us in part two of a two part series.
Resources for today’s show…
Join the MSB
The Year 1322
Join Our Forum
Join Our Forum
TSP Gear
Bulk Ammo – (sponsor of the day)
Back Yard Food Production – (sponsor of the day)
Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine – (MSB Discounter of the day) – The Go To Resource for Today’s Show – Find all of Steve’s Sites Here
Setting Up the Baofeng UV-5 Radio – Video Steve Mentioned
Remember to comment, chime in and tell us your thoughts, this podcast is one man’s opinion, not a lecture or sermon. Also please enter our listener appreciation contest and help spread the word about our show. Also remember you can call in your questions and comments to 866-65-THINK (866-658-4465) and you might hear yourself on the air.
Also remember we have an expert council you can address your calls to. If you do this you should email me right after your call at jack at with expert council call in the subject line. In the body of your email tell me that you just called in a question for the council and what number you called in from. I will then give the call priority when I screen calls.

“Revolution is You” by Gregg Yows


<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 4:16>

Offline Hootie

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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2014, 02:20:38 PM »

<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 4:17>


Jack Spirko: Alright with that. Hey Steve, welcome back to the survival podcast.


Steven Harris: Hey Jack, I am thrilled to be back I have another jam packed and use it right now, kind of show for you.


Jack Spirko: You have another jam pack show, you are right. What have you been doing for a year? It have been a year. People hear you all the time Steve, but it has been a freak'n year since you have been on the show.


Steven Harris: I just don't want to come on and do a so so show. When I come on I want it to be hard hitting, jam packed, loaded, stuff you haven't heard before. I covered everything in energy almost, with all you guys. I did everything from hydrogen, methane, manure, solar, battery boxes, home battery banks, and how to power your house from your car. I have done all that stuff already. I am running out of material.


Jack Spirko: What do you have for us today, man?


Steven Harris: What do I have for you today? Jack, in a disaster, a blizzard, hurricane Sandy, a regular hurricane, an earthquake, a big tornado near by, or large scale black out... What are you going to be glued to? What is the one thing that you are always going to have going?


Jack Spirko: You are going to what to know what is going on. You are either going to be hooked up to a radio, a television if you can pull it off, a scanner, or something like that to see what the hell is going on?


Steven Harris: Yep. If you had one of my power classes then you know how to power your TV easy enough. For a lot of other people, you got that right, it is going to be a radio or TV. That is what this show is all about today. It is all about radios.


Jack Spirko: Are you a ham operator, Steve?


Steven Harris: Yeah. I have since I was 16 years old. That is 30 years of ham radio experience. For the longest time I was fully immersed in it. All aspects of radios and communications. I was all geek-ed out on it. One of the things I loved to do was build antennas from scratch. Scene this show is all about radios, Jack, guess what new domain name I have.


Jack Spirko: Oh freaking dear god, an other "" domain...


Steven Harris: Yes Jack, that is right. For the audience, the show, and the future I have That is "Radios" with an "S" at the end, it is plural. Just think of a lot of radios. is where you go if you are online and want to follow along with us right now, you can. Plus, later on this show will be posted on for anyone to go there and listen to it as well. Just like all my other shows. I am going to talk about every single radio that is out there. What it is. Where to get it. What you can do with it. I am not just talking AM, FM, and Shortwave. I'll cover those, but I am talking about air band radio, marine band radios, GMRS, FRS, CB radios, ham radios, and scanners. Plus I am going to talk about how you can setup your own FM radio transmitting station on the air, so you can play TSP episodes. Or any of my stuff and shows with Jack on the 1234 websites around the general public around you on FM during or after a disaster. So that anyone in your area  can listen to a podcast or listen to you talking. They can listen to this on any regular FM radio. This is to help people get better prepared and how to help themselves after an emergency. Plus I am going to reveal everyone today, how you can use one or two of these different radios I have a show to get the Coast Guard, any other rescue aircraft, or both to come directly to where you are. Right on the spot. Right where you are and to rescue you from a bad situation. This will be a little later on in the show, so keep listing.


Jack Spirko: Steve, we have had other shows on ham radio and then things like. My personal view is this.... First of all thank you for not being a pain in the ass, over the years. I did not even know you were a ham until recently, because most hams are like... Well it’s like they found Jesus and they want to come to your house and you about him. So you can get saved too. They kind of go over the top of the evangelism. To me ham is a great specialized form of radio. To me for a lot of people it’s a nice thing. Maybe I want to do that someday, maybe I do not. There are a lot of other technologies  that we can use.


Steven Harris: Yeah.. I'm going to cover ham radio in a little bit, but its not going to be about studying and getting your license and that stuff.  I'm not going to tell you how to get your general class license and to get an HF rig and to put up an inverted V dipole antenna for 80, 40 and 20 meter bands so you can try to talk around the world.  Which is not as easy as it might sound. I can let you listen into these ham conversations with a radio I will talk about. I'm going to tell you how to get Ham VHF and UHF radios that will talk to each other, so you can do it outside of the ham bands. Which is technically illegal, but I don't think the FCC is traveling with FEMA  when they go to a disaster looking for transmissions outside of the ham band.


Jack Spirko: Well Steve, you've got a lot of subject there on radios. Where do you want to start?


Steven Harris: On the website, I have simplified it for you and given you a list of priorities. In my experience and expertise, that you should have. These are priorities for radios not for all preparedness... Priority #1: a "D cell" or "AA Cell" AM/FM radio. I'll cover this in a few seconds, but I'm talking about a shirt pocket AM/FM radio that runs off of 2 AA batteries. This is your radios Priority #1. Priority #2: a portable low power digital LCD TV with antenna. I'm talking about a TV that is portable you can hold in your hand that runs on 5 to 10 watts of power. Not your 40, 50, 60, 70 inch TV. Priority #3: a simple scanner for police and ham frequencies. Listening to the local police and the ham radio repeaters, which will be on in an emergency net control situation, will be an incredible source of what is happening locally. Right now this second, that is not being reported on the news talk radio stations. I am going to tell you how to get a radio that will work as a simple scanner for as little as $40. If there is a fight for gasoline at the local gas station and police are being dispatched, you'll know about it. Of course, you have all listened to my "Fuel and Fuel Storage" class I did with Jack at You should have all of your fuel stored away that you want. Priority #4: an AM/FM radio with shortwave ability. If it was a massive event that happened to the USA and you wanted to listen to the BBC or other foreign broadcasts, then you would want to listen to shortwave radio. Usually at night when the atmospherics allow for worldwide propagation without the interference from the sun. I've listed this as #4 and that is pretty far down the list because I don't think shortwave radio is that important these days. Yet, I own one of course. This radio will more than likely be your home radio rather than your portable radio. This along with your shirt pocket AM/FM radio... This home radio AM/FM/Shortwave will be your "two is one, one is none" radio. This is how important a basic AM/FM radios are in a disaster. I want you to have two of them. Priority #5: a CB Radio for local information and talk. You can get a good CB for as cheap as $35 and a good mobile antenna for $30. You might want to use this to listen to the local chit chat about what is going on locally and to talk to other people. This is also a good source of info outside of your area, because truckers will be on channel 19 and (they will be) talking about what they have seen or heard in other parts of the country as they are driving through your area. In order for disaster recovery to happen in any disaster the trucks have to be rolling. Truckers will tell you what they are carrying as well. They will all be on channel 19. Last and lowest Priority #6: an advanced trunk tracking police scanner. Priority #3 was a police type scanner, but increasingly the police and fire are going to digital trunk-ed radios which require a very expensive scanner to listen to. In this case the advanced trunk tracking digital scanner is $500. That is why its the last on the list. You can get a lot of food, water, and other supplies before spending $500 on an advanced scanner.


Jack Spirko: That is an extensive list. You have probably got peoples heads swimming there, man. I like the priority spectrum you have there. To help people get through it, we should probable break it down. Let us start with priority #1.


Steven Harris: Priority #1, this the simplest Jack. That is a standard simple AM/FM radio that runs on AA batteries. I'm talking about a $13, AM/FM radio, a good one, that fits in your shirt pocket, and will go into your emergency kit or get home bag. In the past AM/FM radios use to run off of 9 volt batteries. I don't use those today. 9 volt batteries are very low in power. Two AA (batteries) are better. Its very important that they run off of AA batteries, and NO not AAA batteries. Simple AM/FM radio gets you the most information for the lowest dollar cost. <audio cuts out> I try to think of things that give the lowest dollar cost. That is what I am doing here. Most people do not realize this but in a total USA grid down situation, where there is no power in the USA.  Which Jack and I do not really think is a thing that is going to happen from our past discussions. In this situation where there are no AM or FM radios in the USA. Let us say there were not AM or FM radio broadcast stations going, it was grid down. A simple shirt pocket AM radio will pick up AM radio stations from Europe and even as far as way as Australia, especially in the evening. The AM radio used to be the worldwide communications format back in day, like the 1930's and everything else. That is all there was. People would easily do what is called AM DX'ing, listening to AM radio from around the world.  In this situation you don't even need a shortwave radio to listen around the world, if it was a grid down situation.  However, the disasters that are most likely to affect you; earthquakes, tornados, large bands of thunderstorms called derecho, winter blizzards, large area power failures, hurricanes, and nor'easters. You will be wanting to listen to your local AM or FM radio stations or at least the ones outside of your affected areas. 


Jack Spirko: In fact you were in the middle of a blackout in 2003 in August, in Michigan weren't you?


Steven Harris: Yes, I was in the middle of the great blackout of 2003. Which I wrote a book on. The blackout happened at 4:14pm. Within a minute I went out to my pickup truck to turn on the radio and all of the FM stations were off the air. Within 10 minutes a good fraction of them were back on the air and transmitting on generator power. If I tried the AM band, and I did not I should have tried it, I'd of probably picked up Chicago WGN. Which was not affected by the blackout. I was in Michigan at this time, which was affected by the blackout. An AM/FM radio is going to be your lowest power device and simplest device to get information on what is happening in your local area and in the nation. One of the AM/FM radios I have on will run for over 80 hours on its AA batteries, so you can listen for a long time. If you want a free copy of "Surviving the the Blackout of 2003" book that I wrote. Go to and in 45 seconds there will be a pop up that will allow you to get a PDF copy of the book for free. It is a great simple read. Its always a good idea to have a list of your local radio stations on a piece of paper, especially the news / talk radio stations. Have this list taped to the back of the radio. The news stations will be on top of what is going on, but the popular music stations, playing git, will not be dialed into what is currently going on in the nation. They will just get back to what they do. Just print out the frequencies with your printer small enough to fit on a clear area of the radio. Cover it with clear packing tape so its laminated to the radio and you won't lose it when you need it. Since I've had satellite radio for the past 8 years I've not listened to terrestrial radio hardly even once. I could not tell you the frequency of any of my news and talk stations at all. But I have it taped to the back of my radio so I can tune in right away to a good station and find out what is going on.


Jack Spirko: I want to move on to talking about TV, but I want to add a couple things to that that most people will not realize. A lot of use trave a lot and we take a bug out bag or a get home bag with us when we do. What you will find is in most major markets you will find that like 570, 660, 880 that those stations will have a station in a major market. I guess it is just kind a like you know 95.5 or whatever. It is a desirable number. Like a desirable phone number. If you have that list odds are that even if you are away from home, if you are anywhere near major market, you can probably find stuff around those numbers which is a great thing. I completely agree with you on having your station for your market on your radio. The one thing I wanted where we can back up and explain to people, because I get it but I think some people out there are stuck on it Steve. When a person hears, "Well you use this little AM radio to listen to Europe if the grid is all the way down, the zombies have marched, cats and dogs are having babies, and whatever." They may not get exactly why that’s the case. Could you the 22 second answer to why that is the case?


Steven Harris: Yeah, because there is no noise in the United States. There’s no AM or FM stations. There is no AM stations on the air to dominate receiver of your AM radio. It is complete silence. Is like being in a quiet room and listening to someone whispering on the other side of the room. Versus being in a room with 20 people talking, you can never hear the whisper of their side of the room.


Jack Spirko: Correct I just wanted to back up and cover that really quick. What about watching TV for the news? For a lot of people that is going to be huge deal for them. A lot of people are not very visually, they need to know what the hell is going on around them. They want to be able to actually see it. Frankly there’s just things to get better coverage on TV than radio.


Steven Harris: Yeah, there is. I remember you are probably stuck with your local stations. They are going to be probably listening to CNN through their satellites. You won’t be getting CNN over local air. A small TV would be priority #2. If you've taken any of the Steven Harris how to power your house from your car class at, or the home battery bank shows I did with Jack, located at Then you'd be able to easily power up your TV and watch what is going on.  Keep in mind you need a good pair of rabbit ears to pull in the digital broadcast stations. I have a good pair of rabbit ears to pull in the digital broadcast stations. Your TV does not come with an antenna built into it. I have a great set of rabbit ears that I keep behind my TV all the time. They are at, they are at Radio Shack, and they are at Walmart. You can go get them.I would suggest you power up your smallest TV with the battery bank or the car. Don't try to power up the 70" TV with the car, that's 225 watts I measured it. The rabbit ears that I spoke about is a link in the text for the portable TV at the very bottom of the Radios1234 website. Definitely have a pair of rabbit ears. A this moment I am sad to say that my favorite portable TV at this time is no longer available on Amazon, or on the web. It drew only 5 watts of power, had a 7" screen and was a DVD player and had awesome reception. It even took an external antenna so I could put the rabbit ears on it, boy did it pull in the stations. I have searched and searched, and at this moment in time I have NOT found a good replacement for you guy for it yet. Every TV I check out the reviews for before I purchase it. All of them have people complaining of the poor reception.  What good is a TV if its reception is dead poor. Of course, you could be listening to this show in the significant future. My show have been going back three years now. By then I might have found a good small TV and it might be on my sites.  If you see a small TV listed on Radios1234, or any of the other 1234 websites, then you'll know that I own it, have tested it extensively, and it is Harris approved. If you see one it will be good. For now you will just ahve to power up the smallest LCD TV you have in your house with an inverter and use rabbit ear antennas. Or get a battery bank or power it from that or power it from an inverter from your car. Listen to my shows on the subject first so you can get the most time out of your TV from the power that you have. The other nice thing about a radio is that you can listen to it while you are doing other preps and stuff that need to be done in a disaster. A TV pretty much has you staring at the screen. If you take away one thing from this, have a pair of rabbit ears for your TV. They only cost about $9. They plug into the antenna or cable port on the back of your TV. Without these, when the power fails and your cable box and the whole cable system fails, you are not getting any TV. Hook this up and play with it and get your TV programmed for the over the air channels before a disaster happens. Many TVs have to do that little search thing, scroll around, and find all the channels. You want to do this now, not when something happens. You want this done so all you have to do is hit the LINE or SOURCE button on your remote, select TV or ANTENNA, and watch local TV.


Jack Spirko: I want to backup really quick before we move on to scanners, police, and Ham. I was on, you have that little 7in LCD portable TV with DVD player in it.


Steven Harris: Yep


Jack Spirko: You had them marked for $90 or something like that. You must have sold a bunch of them because they jacked the god dang price up to like $100 and something dollars.


Steven Harris: That is the one that is no longer available


Jack Spirko: It is available, it is just a $176 now.


Steven Harris: Yeah, different companies might have a few of them. They come on and off the market but they are through 3rd parties rather than through amazon prime.


Jack Spirko: Dude, you must have inspired the maker because Azend Group is the people who make it. It is being sold directly on Amazon by them.


Steven Harris: Ok.


Jack Spirko: They must have brought it back, but it is a $176 bucks now. In your option is it worth a $176?


Steven Harris: They bigger 9 inch one, yeah.


Jack Spirko: No this is the 7 inch. The 9 is only available used. It is cheap, but there is only one there. I might buy it before anyone gets a chance. <Jack laughs>


Steven Harris: Yeah, that is closed to it being worth it because it is so low power. It comes with every adapter in the world. I thought my god I can't plug in my external antenna. I look in the box and here is an antenna adapter to plug in the external rabbit ears. It comes with DC power. It comes with AC power.


Jack Spirko: I might buy one.


Steven Harris: It comes with video in. It come with everything. Anyways for all you guys listening in the future, I will try to find another one and put it up there for you. I always try to keep everything current on the 1234 sites.


Jack Spirko: Even at the price I might buy one, Steve. With all the the accessories, if you bought all of those accessories it would get pretty pricey pretty quick.


Steven Harris: Right.


Jack Spirko: That would run great off of my little truck power system that you helped me build about a month ago, (it would run) like forever. Anyways let us go. Lets go on to priority #3. A simple scanner for police and ham frequencies.


Steven Harris: Ok, priority #3. I'm going to cover ham radio in this section to. You will understand why in a moment, but lets talk about scanners for a bit. I am going to simplify it for the purpose of this show. There are police, fire, and EMS that are either on 1: what is called Repeaters, or 2: what is called a Trunked system. Repeaters are easy to listen to, and are what the scanners in the days of old listened to. Huge numbers of police and fire are still on these older systems. Police and fire will remain on these systems for a long time, because they are already paid for, they are there, and they are working. Unless they get a federal grant for a trunked system they probably will not be upgrading. You can listen to these with an inexpensive scanner as cheap as $40. Then there are the trunked systems, yes, I know there are analog trunks, digital trunks and encrypted trunks. For the sake of the show I'll just tell you that a trunked system scanner costs at least $300 and a digital one costs $500. That is why those items are the lowest priority.


Jack Spirko: What about the frequencies of our local police, fire, EM, and ham radio repeaters. How do I find those?


Steven Harris: That is one of the most important things. Is you got to have these frequencies on a piece of paper and/or programmed into your radio or scanner. You must of played with it significantly before the disaster to be able to use it during or after a disaster.  Let me repeat myself, if you've not played with your police scanner device before a disaster, for hours, left it on for days just listening to the general channels and getting familiar with them. And you don't have the frequencies, (then) it is just junk to you during a disaster. There is no time in a disaster to stop and get out the manual and to try and figure out how to use a scanner. Let us talk about getting the frequencies. I want this show to be good in 10 years or more. I'm going to tell you how to find the websites with the frequencies, rather than just giving you the frequencies here. If I just give you one website now, who knows where it could be in 10 years. If I go to Google right now and type in "Scanner Database", I find 2  main websites that have frequencies for the entire USA.  The most popular one right now is The next most popular one is Remember I just did a Google search for "Scanner Database". In Radio Reference, you click on the "Reference Dateable" button. Then you click on your state on the map. Then you click on the county you live in. You'll see your county and or cities listed in a box in the middle of the screen. If click on any of these, an a whole list of frequencies and their cities and what they are will fill your screen. You'll have to pick the ones for your area and then listen to it to see how busy they are. Is it really being used? Is this really the main repeater for what you want to listen to. There is also a tab up there next to Police for Amateur Radio. Amateur radio and Ham radio are the same thing. You can click on this and get your local ham frequencies VHF and UHF repeater frequencies. This is where us hams will be talking. I also just went to Google and Google'd "PIttsburgh Police Frequencies" and found a bunch of information. You can do the same thing for your home town, "Detroit Police Frequencies" or "Chicago Police Frequencies". Let Google be your friend.


Jack Spirko: So...


Steven Harris: Go ahead...


Jack Spirko: It sounds like there is a lot to do here. Figuring out the scanner frequencies for your local area. It is really absolutely is something a person needs to do now. And not be trying to do this with a flashlight in there teeth, running their laptop and modem off of a backup system in the middle of a disaster, and trying to get these frequencies. This needs to be done now, understood, practiced, and played with.


Steven Harris: Yep, sometimes the lists are long. They have a lot of frequencies. Like Pittsburgh Police will have a lot of frequencies. There are tactical frequencies and talk around frequencies. They will have multiple repeaters. You got to find the right one to listen to. It just will not say "Pittsburgh Police Main Repeater" for you to listen to in a disaster. You are going to have to just have to plug them into your scanner, start to listen to them, and find out what is on them. If the grid is down, you are not going to have any internet. You are not going to Radio Reference and looking up the frequencies.


Jack Spirko: Don't think you would want to be jacking around with a piece of paper with them written down on it. You would want this done.


Steven Harris: It is like one of your 13 skills.


Jack Spirko: Yeah. I want to hear about this $40 scanner you keep on talking about. That sounds like a bargain, even on the old technology.


Steven Harris: It is. Well, it is not sold as a police scanner but it certainly works very good as one. It is really a ham radio, made in china, and sold on Amazon. It is on Its less than $40. I just checked the other day, it was $38.49. It has an incredible following behind it and very high ratings on Amazon and lots of feedback. People love it. Normally a good dual band ham radio like this would cost over $200. That was a barrier to a lot of people entering the ham radio field. Now this little radio is getting people excited. It is a BaoFeng, a lot of people pounce it differently. Just find it on It is a BaoFeng UV-5RE, which is part of the UV-5R series of BaoFeng. It is a dual-band UHF/VHF radio, which means it goes from 136-174MHz VHF and 400-480 MHz UHF. This is really two radios in one, its got a VHF and a UHF transmitter and receiver built into it. On the VHF side, like I said it covers 136 to 174 MHZ, that is the 2m ham radio band. That is one of the most popular. It is only 144 to 148 MHZ, so its covered inside this radio easily. Most ham radios you buy would only go from 144 to 148 MHZ, not just 136-174MHz. The ham radio would have to be modified, usually you go inside (the radio) and un-solder something, to go 'out of band' and to transmit outside of the ham radio frequencies. This unit from china has no such limitations and transmits on its entire frequency spectrum. The ham radios might be able to listen to that whole spectrum, but they can only transmit on the ham frequencies. Of course it also receives on all of these frequencies. Guess where the police, fire, and EMS repeater frequencies are? Yup, right in the middle of the VHF and UHF bands on this radio.  You can enter your police, fire, EMS, hospital, and ham frequencies into its channel memory. By holding down the * Scan button it will scan all of them. It will act as a scanner. You don't have to switch between them. There is even a great 720HD YouTube video, that maybe I will have Jack put on the show notes, on how to do this. In fact, there are a tremendous number of BaoFeng radio videos on YouTube for you to watch. There are all these people showing you how to use this thing. You can also just read the manual, or use the programming software. I found many of the YouTube videos very helpful, especially if you are not really familiar with (ham) radios in general.


Jack Spirko: Definitely. I got the link here in your notes right now. ( I will get it in the show notes today. Most of the time when you have all of these million of places you can hang out, there is always some popular ones. What are the most popular ham radio bands where you'll find people talking and disaster nets set up in time of need?


Steven Harris: You can listen to the two most popular ones, are the 2m and 70cm bands, which are 144mhz VHF and 440 mhz UHF. The BaoFeng covers both of these bands in transmit and receive mode just perfect. I should note, if you are not a ham, don't key up a repeater and just try to talk. If you become annoying the hams are very very proficient at tracking down transmitters and finding you exactly where you are in your home or your car.  Its called a fox hunt. The hams do it on a regular basis.


Jack Spirko: Definitely on that, but can we just backup a second? When you were talking about that this will scan the police frequencies that are out of the ham band. Since this little radio transmits, will it also transmit on those frequencies.


Steven Harris: Yes it will.


Jack Spirko: So do not do that either, because then you are transmitting on EMS and whatever.


Steven Harris: Usually the police repeaters have codes. They are called sub audible tones are or PL tones. You can program those PL tones into this radio and it will work on the police frequencies. You could technically key one up but you would have to put a little work into it. It is not something average person is going to be able to do.


Jack Spirko: And you should not be doing it anyways. Those guys have there job to do. What we are trying to do here is listen to them. You have mention ham radio disaster nets. What are those?


Steven Harris: Ok, this is one of the reasons I want you to be able to listen to ham radio on VHF and UHF, the 2m and the 70cm band. Which we called it  2m and 440, which is weird the way we switch up the nomenclature. But it is called the 2m and 440. A disaster net is most commonly done during tornadoes, because those are the biggest weather event that threaten most of us. They are set up for earthquakes after they happen. They are set up for hurricanes before and after. They even get setup for blizzards. We hams have normal repeaters that we talk on. I should tell you what a repeater is first. A repeater is a pair of radios located in a secure location and its normally up on a hill or on a very good tower with a very good antenna, and they are expensive. Your little hand held might only be able to talk a few miles on the ground to another handheld radio. It depends on the terrain, how many trees there are between you, the leaves on the trees, and the person that you want to talk to. Are they in a basement or the 2nd floor of there house. You can very easily talk to a radio that has a great antenna up high some place on a very tall tower. Remember, the higher and better your antenna, the further you can talk and listen. You can talk to the repeater and it can be 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 miles or more away. It takes your broadcast coming in on the input frequency and it broadcasts it at the same time out the output frequency. We talked in on the input frequency, and listen on the output frequency. This is called duplex or repeater operation. DU as in DUAL frequencies. When you are talking radio to radio on one frequency its called simplex. That is a repeater is. What is a disaster net? There is a repeater in a great location. Let us say it covers several counties. We hams just talk on it. We chit chat, talk in the morning on the way to work, talking in the evening on the way home from work, talk on the weekend, or other times. There are VHF and UHF repeaters. Lets say an average good one will cover a radius of 50 miles. We can all have a conversation on the radio. This can be between 2, 3, 4, 5, or more people. It is kind of fun we have a little system were we just all take turns. We kind of set up our order of who talks by when you came into the conversation.  It is just structured talking. During a disaster net, one person becomes net control and they are the boss. Before you talk, you have to call net control. If N8ERO, that is a ham radio call sign was net control, I might say "N8ERO, this is KA8WXR." He would come back and say, "This is net control N8ERO, go ahead KA8WXR."  I would then give him my 'traffic'. Which is telling him what is going on my area. What I see, what is wrong and what is bad. In the case of a tornado, and if I was SKYWARN trained by the national weather service. A lot of hams get SKYWARN training for free. I'll call in with the TEL system; Time, Effect, and Location.  So I'd say, "N8ERO, 11:30am, funnel cloud descending from a wall cloud, not on the ground yet, near 10 mile road and Mound road."  Then I'm done.  Unless I call net control again, at this time, someone else who sees something or is going to confirm what I just reported. They will call net control on their own. It is a very structured thing. I hope you can see how valuable this is. You have all these hams out there, hundreds of them in your greater area that your are listening to on the repeater, all with their eyeballs looking at things. It could be riots, it could be people getting together, it could be this gas station has gas, this gas station ran out of gas, or there is a fight at the gas station. You got all these people in there cars or looking out there windows with radios over this huge area. calling in stuff. It is raw information. You can listen to this with that little $40 BaoFeng radio.


Jack Spirko: That is great, man. I have always tried to explain it to people. It is good to understand the basics of ham. If people want the licence and all, and if they want to do it then that is great. But understanding the basics so you can just listen is a huge source of intelligence. Can you tell people some of the other things you would call in as a ham radio operator, Steve if you were a on the ground observing during an emergence net situation?


Steven Harris: Yeah. For tornadoes and hurricanes we could be calling in the weather, wind gusts, wind speeds, what damage is going on, if someones roof was ripped off,calling in that someone has been found, that needs assistance, or if we need an ambulance at this place. Usually net control is in contact with emergency services on a completely different dedicated radio, directly linked to emergency services. He can immediately relay anything us hams report to the net control. A disaster net is a very structured and formal way of talking on a repeater. We (ham radio operators) have a saying, "When everything is not working, the hams will still be talking." Hams are preppers by nature. Long before the term prepper was invented. We hams are everywhere. Many times we have formal disaster training through ham radio orgs called RACES and ARES. I will not go into those. We have disaster organizations with in the ham radio community that give use specific training for this. It is not uncommon for one of us to also be attached to the mayor, the police chief, the 911 center, and other important people in the city in a disaster. We are their backup communications. If their comms fail and we discover something, we can communicate information directly to them. Now do you see why I place such a high value on a radio that can listen to police, fire, EMS, and ham radio frequencies?


Jack Spirko: Yeah, I do Steve. What about regular scanners? How does the baofeng compare to those?


Steven Harris: Regular scanners are a lot easier to use. This will probably have a much better manual then the BaoFeng that comes with it. I have a hand held Uniden scanner on and its not $40, its $120. The nice thing is that it runs on 2 AA batteries. It has got 1000 memories to it, more than you'll ever use but its dedicated to just scanning. Not talking, not ham radio, not police frequencies. It is dedicated to just scanning. It is a lot easier to setup and use. If you are on a budget and you really want the ability to listen to police, fire, ems and ham radio and you are willing to do a little extra work and figure this stuff out, then the $40 BaoFeng is the way to go. If you want to spend the $120, then spend the extra money and have an easier to use scanner.


Jack Spirko: Before we move forward on this. I just want to let people know one of my favorite little tools. It is only going to work for you, if the cellular networks are up and you got power to your phone. If you do not have power to your phone it is because you don't listen to Steve. That is all I can say about that, right? But there is a radio app (for you smartphone) called "5-0 Radio PRO". You can not go through it and program your own frequencies. It is setup. It is run by a centralized network. I think it is $5 one time to buy the app but most major markets are in it. Even most minor markets including police, sheriffs, EMS, etc. You have it on your phone in about two minutes and you turn it on, you can find all of them. Like Steve was saying earlier, a lot of times they will say this is the frequency or the place to listen to the fire department or whatever. That may not be the one they use a lot. You would need to play with it just as you would. You can save favorites in it. It is I would call it, it is a four is even more. I would not rely on it as your primary thing, but he is an excellent backup to backup of a backup. I would make sure that you think about, if you have a smartphone, if there are any apps like that. Again when I use is called "5-0 Radio PRO".  I want to get back to this this BaoFeng. This little this little $40 super radio thing.


Steven Harris: Let me through something in first on the cell phones. During hurricane Sandy, which was 1000 mile wide storm that came and parked itself and installed over the eastern seaboard and in the mid Atlantic and everything for about 11 days. It knocked out a lot of power to everyone, trees down, damage, and everything. 97.8% of Verizon towers were up and operational during hurricane Sandy. There is been a tremendous amount of backup ability. Both in huge batteries and in generators (using) natural gas, propane, and diesel generators added to every cell sites. People think all the cell sites are going to go down and everything else. That was true in blackout 2003. We lost cellular communications. But now in repeated disaster, (after) disaster, after disaster, even fire refer back Hurricane Katrina. We are seeing cell phone being operational. The system is getting more ruggedized. It is really not that fragile. Your "5-0 Radio", it might be one of the first things you’re listening to. You might be listening to that thing before you listening to your scanner.


Jack Spirko: Not to mention the Zello channel to talk to other folks on Zello.


Steven Harris: Yes. On Zello we have role-played emergencies on Zello. We want people who are into trouble to come up on Zello and talk to to us. In fact there was someone during hurricane Sandy talking to us on Zello. Talking about her windows got blown out, she had a walk through the rain with her mother to another house, and everything else. We want you to come up on to Zello during a disaster so you can tells what’s going on. We can bring in resources. You are on a phone and I am sitting at a computer in the sunshine on high-speed Internet. I can say. "Oh I can look for the news, Google, and say your nearest Red Cross shelters here." I can do a something a lot easier and talk to you through Zello, then you could try to do on your phone in the middle of a storm. Your cell phone, I think, is going to be your number one thing a disaster. Specially a smart phone with data.


Jack Spirko: That’s what we do so much effort into making sure people can keep them charged.


Steven Harris: Yep


Jack Spirko: I do not want to get on to complete side thing on Zello. You and I could do a complete show some day, just all the things you can do with it. One of the things we did, we had a couple times are there were female members of the audience were traveling long-distance across the country on their own. You know, obviously they worry a little bit more than men do in that situation. We had people on the Zello network using... Because if you want to be tracked with your cell phone you can do that. Tracking these folks in real time and kind of keeping an eye on them during a long trip and staying in touch with them. That is really awesome that we have that. We will call that our PSA for the TSP Zello channel, in mid show and we will get back to the main content before we spend an hour on that. But these BaoFeng radios, what I wanted to ask you about is using them to talk back-and-forth between family members like on a farm, large property, between neighbors in the neighborhood, top look out for unfriendlies in a disaster. Like what is in the book "299 Days" with Glen Tate, he talks about doing stuff like that.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2014, 07:38:31 AM by Hootie »

Offline Hootie

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2014, 07:37:28 AM »

Steven Harris: Since the radios have such a large band range, I'd suggest staying outside of the ham radio bands, which is 144 to 148 MHz and 420 to 450 MHz. Stay outside of these bands. Don't go into the ham frequencies. I find this is really funny, because I'm telling you to worry about the hams, but don't worry about the government. Because when you start transmitting outside of the ham bands without a license, it is illegal according to the FCC. If you went to 149.00 MHz on the BaoFeng radio for your 'talk around' frequency. You would (then) be in violation of FCC part 15 rules. Now is someone going to track you down? Doubtful, especially during a disaster. Like I said the FCC is not traveling with FEMA yet. If for some reason you were interfering with some other licensed station, like a police repeater, there would be people asking questions. They would start searching for you. For talking around in a community, GMRS and FRS radios are better for this. I will cover those later on in the show but yes you can talk around very well in your community with multiple BaoFeng radios.


Jack Spirko: I would say this too. If you are stepping on EMS, they are going to tell you and you stop and go to different frequency and move all your people over. There are probably a frequency you can use in that situation. Your BaoFeng is making me think about a radio I have called Puxing (?PX-888K?). I don’t know that much about him how to use it. Rob from MURS Radio sent it to me back when he became a sponsor, way back in the beginning of the show. I can do a lot of this with that radio. They actually look very similar. One of the things I was able to do with that radio was move it into the MURS spectrum and make it work with my MURS radios. It was effectively a scanner, a ham radio, and another MURS radio to go with my MURS system. That make me wonder, with this BaoFeng could you move it into and talk on the FRS and GMRs spectrums.


Steven Harris: Yes, it will Jack. Technically, again it is illegal because the BaoFeng has an antenna that is removable. GMRS and FRS radios, like the ones you buy in the local stores, are not suppose to have removable antennas. Why is that?  Because better antennas give you better range. The BaoFeng will definitely work on GMRS and FRS signals. On I have some longer and better antennas you can screw on to the BaoFeng to give it better receive and transmit ability. The antennas are a lot longer than the standard antenna. We call these (standard) antennas duckies, just by the side. But they still fit on your belt with the bigger antennas. The antenna might be going part way up your back or side, but that's the price you pay for a better antenna. If you get the BaoFeng radio, definitely get one of the better antennas I have up there. You won't regret it.  Remember what I said, it is all about the antenna. Going back for as second, if you are using the BaoFeng on the GMRS or FRS frequencies no one is going to know. Go ahead and use it. No one is going to be hunting you because you got a removable antenna on the GMRS or FRS frequencies. Just go ahead and use it.


Jack Spirko: Yeah. If anybody did ask, "Well the package said this thing transmit 26 miles (which is bullshit).Were you getting me that far away. You know the packaging on some of those radio's have is ridiculous with the distances. The BaoFeng equipped with better definitely could extend those ranges. If you dialed in those frequencies, I agree with you man. You would be about a safe as you can get. There is a lot of things that are technically legal but gee do not we need the government for everything in our lives including whether not we can remove a freaking antenna. Anyway, on the BaoFeng this seems like a Swiss Army knife of radios for $40. Are there some other bands that we can get on to, talk on, or listen to?


Steven Harris: Yeah the BaoFeng technically it can talk on the marine band. That is for marine band radios for boats. I'll cover the marine band in detail in a while, but I actually used one of my handheld dual band ham radios that was modified to go 'out of band' on the marine frequency. I did not know what I was doing regarding procedures on the marine band, this was years ago, and I was in southern Florida on vacation. I did a test call on Marine 16. This is the emergency channel on the marine radios. I was only using a 1/2 watt of power, which is not much. The coast guard in Saint Petersburg, over 100 miles away from me, responded. I got yelled at but that goes to show you the power and flexibility of a little radio like this and it also shows you how far you can talk to someone with a really good antenna. I'm sure the coast guard were talking to me from a very very tall dedicated tower with premium radio equipment. But hey, 100 miles on 1/2 watt, and being able to call for help, that goes a long ways for $40.


Jack Spirko: Anything else?


Steven Harris: Technically you'd be able to listen to and 'talk on' the NOAA weather bands. The ones that give you your local forecast and everything from the National Weather Service. I would not advise talking on these (radios), but now you have the ability to listen to the National Weather Service on your same $40 radio that lets you listen to police, fire, EMS, ham, GMRS, FRS, and marine frequencies for $40.


Jack Spirko: You know it is $40 but if you put the knowledge with it, it does a lot. Do you have anything else to say on priority #3 before we move on?


Steven Harris: Good lord, priority #3 was a long one, but it is that long because it is that powerful. It gives you that much information in a disaster and that much flexibility. Remember what I said, if you did not play with it and play with it and play with it and experiment and learn and actually do this stuff before a disaster, then you'll never get it to work during or after a disaster. The scanner or this BaoFeng radio is not something you just buy, check off your list, and put on your shelf. It is really one of your 13 skills you should work on. It is a skill and a talent. Luck does not get you out of a disaster, talent does. Knowledge is information multiplied by experience. Talent or wisdom is experience multiplied by time. If you want to have this power, you'll need to do some learning and practice.


Jack Spirko: Steve, I think we have killed dead priority #3, for a bit anyways. We need to move on. Priority #4 is an AM/FM radio with shortwave ability. That should be an easy one for you to do.


Steven Harris: Yes, sounds simple but part of my dedication to your audience, my customers, and people that I teach is that I just don't want to pass out information. I want to enable people, so they can go and immediately do something with what I teach them. It is easy to say go buy a shortwave radio and tune around and listen. But I want you to know how to find the frequencies. That is why I told you what to Google. I'm going to tell you how to find the frequencies, and not give them over the air here because the frequencies can change and stations can come on and off the air over time. It is no good for me just to give you frequencies. I try to make my shows so they will not become 'old' as time goes on but will be relevant with principles in 10 to 20 years from now.


Jack Spirko: Awesome man.


Steven Harris: So how do we start on Priority #4? Well, I think the best way to start with is the words "AM/FM radio" that was in our priority #1 section. While priority #1 AM/FM radio might be your first radio and a portable radio, but maybe one that you would have in a portable kit. I want AM/FM radio in priority #4 to be your 2 is 1 and your 1 is none radio. I want this not only to be your shortwave radio for listening around the world, but I want it to be your backup radio to your priority #1 AM/FM radio. I'll give you an example. This is just my example that works for me. What works for me might not work for you. About 8 years ago I got a Grundig S450 from Radio Shack, on sale. It is still made and manufactured these days. It is on, also. But its an AM/FM and shortwave radio. It is rather big, you hold it with 2 hands or carry it by it's handle, and it is about 8 by 10 inches. It is not huge, but its something you sit on the table. It does not run on AA batteries, it runs on 4 D cell batteries. For many reason I like D cell devices and keep a few around, even though I teach you how to have an unlimited amount of AA rechargeable power in the "How to Power Your House from your Car" show at D cells have 7 to 8 times the energy of a AA, and the D cells in there have been there for the entire 8 years that I have owned the radio to back it up. Last time I used it we had a power failure in a blizzard and I used it to listen to local AM news stations about what was happening. It did not come with an AC adapter, but it has a port for one. I could not find a real Grundig A/C adapter. But I did a Google search and found one made by a different company for the Grundig on ebay for about $10 and I got it. This is the way I want you to think. Get a good radio, have it ready for when you need it, have multiple ways of powering it and have spare alkaline batteries for it. Like, I have 4 alkaline batteries in the radio, I had 8 sitting next to it ready to go in case the 4 (batteries) in there were dead.


Jack Spirko: You know you have put a lot of effort into teaching people how to have  rechargeable AA batteries coming out of their butt, basically where they will never run out of power. What about AM/FM shortwave radios powered by AA batteries.


Steven Harris: Yes, I like those alot. Two of the three short wave radios on right now are AA powered. Radios do not use a lot of power, like I said earlier, one of the AM/FM radios on the radios site will run for 80 hours on 4 AA batteries. Do you know what really uses the power in radio, Jack?


Jack Spirko: Let us see. I used to have lately Grundig that they don’t make anymore. It is the exact same one you have, but It is the previous model. I got it years ago and let me say how much I endorse that radio because I still have it and it still works. I used to take it out on my fishing boat and I used to fish. I would sit there and crank it up, using the crank feature (also know as Volume) on it. What would happen is the battery died, and the volume would get softer and softer and softer. I will bet it is the volume uses the greatest of power draw or has the greatest control over how quickly draw power.


Steven Harris: Yep, you got it right Jack. That is correct. The louder you play it the more energy it takes from the batteries. Having a radio on just low enough where you want and be able to hear it will be just fine for your batteries. It will make them go longer. Don't crank it up like a 1980's boom box.


Jack Spirko: If you were to get yourself a little earpiece I bet you could really extend things.


Steven Harris: True. I forgot to mentions that. I should remember that. An earpiece or headphones greatly increase the life of the batteries because of the amount of audio that is coming out.


Jack Spirko: So what about the short wave portion of the radio?


Steven Harris: Well, there is still worldwide short wave out there, but a lot of stations have gone off the air because of the internet. It is just so much easier to stream your radio station to people on their smart phone, than it is to broadcast on a 50,000 watt shortwave station.  Back in the early 1990's I know that Kurt Saxon use to pay about $200 to $300 per hour to do a show once a week on World Wide Christian radio (WWCR). That is a lot of money. It takes a  lot of money to run a station. That is why many of them have been going off the air but short wave is still around. The BBC is on it. It will continue to be around so lets talk about it a bit. Plus, with the right shortwave radio you can listen to the ham radio people in the short wave area. What we call HF. They will still be talking on their frequencies with their radios a 100 years from now. They were for over the last 100 years. I see no reason why ham radio will not be around for another 100 years. Well, some education first. AM stands for Amplitude Modulation. It was the first type of modulation used for voice transmissions. It is simple and has good clarity. Then came along FM radio, which stands for Frequency Modulation. Then we have shortwave radio. Shortwave uses AM, amplitude modulation, for its big radio stations. It is the same as the AM broadcast on AM radio, but its just in a different frequency range. A higher frequency range. The higher the frequency the shorter the wavelength of the actually transmitting. That is why its called shortwave. That is one to grow on. My point, there are  AM/FM/Shortwave radios and then there are AM/FM/Shortwave with Single Side Band radios. Many time abbreviated SSB. Single side band is a different form of radio modulation. It is a lot more efficient. Ham radio operators use Single Sideband in the shortwave frequencies. The ham radio frequencies are spread out throughout the entire short wave spectrum, which we hams call HF for high frequency. Different bands can be heard at different times of the day. Some of the frequencies, like what is called 20 meters, can go around the world day and night. Other frequencies on 40 and 80 meter bands are mostly used at night. If you want to listen to ham radio operators you need a short wave radio that also does single side band. If it does not say it does single side band on it then it does not do it. These radios are also more expensive than regular short wave radios. Of course, I have single side band radios on for you to look it. I wanted to make one thing clear, this is not the same area as the BaoFeng radios. The BaoFeng are up in VHF and UHF. This is down in the (frequencies) we call the HF, the shortwave frequencies. The BaoFeng in the VHF and UHF, they talk for up to a hundred miles with a repeater. In HF ham radio talking is like short wave, it can go around the world.


Jack Spirko: How about finding the frequencies for the different ham bands?


Steven Harris: Just do a Google search for "Ham Radio Bands" and you'll find websites that list the current frequencies. First ones to come up is a guide from the ARRL, which stands for the American Radio Relay League. A few items down you will find the Wikipedia article on the ham bands. I like the wiki article the best. For example, the 20 meter band is listed as 14 MHz to 14.350 MHz. But the 'band' shown on wiki has different colors for the different frequencies and uses of the band. In this case its broken into purple, red and black. Purple is labeled as CW, which stands for continuous wave, which is Morse code. You won't be listening to that. Then there is a short red area that is labeled CW and RTTY. RTTY is radio teletype, something you also won't be using. Then there is black, which is labeled for phone. This is what you are looking for when looking at ham radio frequencies, is you are looking for phone. That is standard voice, people talking, and it is usually going to be single side band.


Jack Spirko: With single side band, sometimes that kind of sound funny?


Steven Harris: Yep, you have to be exactly on the same frequency as the people talking to hear their voice as normal. If you are a little bit to one side or the other, they might should like Donald Duck, very low, or they will sound like they are talking with a helium balloon. Just keep on tuning the radio and you will get right on the correct frequency and hear them normal. Or you can listen to them sounding like helium or Donald Duck.


Jack Spirko: Can you hear both people talking?


Steven Harris: Well that's the thing. Ham radios are very good radios, high quality, very sensitive to frequencies, usually expensive, and they have very good antennas on them. They can talk and listen a lot further away than you can with a portable AM/FM/Shortwave/Single Side Band radio. You might be able to only hear one side of the conversation because that is the guy closest to you. You probably will not be able to hear the other guy he is talking to if he's a long ways away, but you still could. Like I said, you can hear conversation from around the world. Just know you might only get half of it. But listening to half is better than listening to nothing. Remember, what I said, its all about the antenna. If you can get a radio that has a place for an external antenna and you can run a long wire off of it, you'll get a lot better reception.


Jack Spirko: For people that may have learned more than they could have imagined today already, because they knew almost nothing about radio. Can you explain to them what a long wire is.


Steven Harris: Well, its just a single strand of wire. It can be thin wire. I had an endless spool of 22 gauge wire I use when I was younger. The wire just attaches to a port on the back of the radio. You can put 6 feet on it in the house to get better reception or you can run it out the window and have it way off to the top of a tree 100 feet away. The house I grew up in had wires running back and forth in the attic. The house was built in 1929 and at one time one the owners had a shortwave radio. Obviously this would of been an old tube type radio, but that is just an example. That is what a long wire is, it is just a long wire coming off the back of the radio. Generally it is thin like phone wire. It is not thick like house power wire.


Jack Spirko: How about finding the shortwave frequencies to listen to?


Steven Harris: Oh heck, I forgot about that. I got carried away on ham radio and Single Side Band. Just do a google search for "Shortwave Radio Stations". You will find lots of listings for lists of frequencies that you can listen to. Many will even give you the time of the day that the station is on the air. That is another thing about short wave, since its propagation is usually a lot better at night after the sun has set, many of the stations are not on 24 hours a day. When I did my search for this show one of the best lists I found was on a support page of Radio Shack.


Jack Spirko: We have worn out Priority #4, I think at this point. Let us move on to Priority #5, CB Radios. This is were a lot of people start. You have got it all the way down at 5.


Steven Harris: Yeah. Please notice everyone, how I have it as priority #5. It is pretty low down on the list. While all you need for a CB in your car is a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug wired to the power wires of the CB, and many even come with this, and you need magnetic mount antenna that goes on the roof of your car. The problem is that its easy to hook it up in your car, but you have to stay there in your car and listen to it. In a disaster most people will be in their house. Now if you had a bug out vehicle and a bug out location to go to, you better have a CB in your vehicle because you can talk to the truckers and find out why the traffic is backed up and for how far its backed up. This just happened in Atlanta this year when they got their snow storm. People got stuck on the highway and had to abandon their cars. Wouldn't it of been nice to be listening to the CB radio on channel 19 and hear the truckers talking about the backup at what mile marker 18 or something. You could of gotten off the highway and not got stuck in that mess


Jack Spirko: All you ham guys have these big old radios in your house. What about putting the CB in your house?


Steven Harris: Well that becomes a problem too. It is just more complicated. Most all of the CB's are 12 volts, so now you need a 12 volt power supply. If you had my battery class as you would have a battery close by. You need a cable to run to an antenna outside the house. Then you need to have an outside antenna to go on the cable going outside the house.  A basic CB radio is $35. A 12 volt power supply is about $25. The cable is about $40. The outdoor antenna is about $70, so it starts to add up. If you wanted a really good CB that was made to be a 'base station' inside of a house, that is around $275. If you were going to use the CB for car to car communications as you evacuated, excellent. If you were a few miles from a major highway it is a great source of information from the truckers but a typical mobile CB only gives you a range of a few miles. There are exceptions to this. If I am on top of a big mountain or a hill, and you're down in the valley, the range can be quite far. If you have a really good home setup, with an external antenna, you can maybe talk 10 or 20 miles from house to house. That is again, with good antennas outside on the top of your house. Remember, its all about the antenna. If you are not within a couple miles of a highway and you are not going to be evacuating, that is why it is down there on Priority #5. It is not Priority #1.


Jack Spirko: For people thinking about putting an antenna inside the house, that is really not a good option. I am just thinking of my simple little Wilson 1000 with a magnetic antenna from my truck. That is a pretty long antenna.You get into situations where you need a certain amount of length in an antenna to get good tuning with a CB.


Steven Harris: Yeah, CB is in the 27MHz area of the HF band which is shortwave. It's wave length is 11 meters long. That is about 36 feet. Most antennas are what is called 1/4 wave length, so that is at least a 9 foot antenna vertical and then you have the side legs that come out to form a ground plane. That is 3 or 4 horizontal pieces going sideways, 9 feet long. It just don't fit in a house. This is why I have it as #5 in the list. That said, you might have great need and use for a CB radio. They can be a very powerful and simple form of communications, especially for car to car and car to trucker. On I have hand held CB's and I also very very small mobile CB's, the CB is literally in the microphone. That is it, you just plug in the antenna and power and its very small and out of the way. Very easy to just throw it in and go when you need it. I have inexpensive mobile CBs that start out at about $35, I have the mobile antennas, I have the home antennas, I have the cables you need for the home antenna, I have the power supplies for the 12 volt CB in the house, I have the home base stations, and I have the expensive CB's. If you did want to do CB I am listing everything there on the site, that will work for you that I have and that I know will work. Something I forgot to say, is that when you are going down one of my 1234 websites and reading the comments, those are my comments. Comments from Steven Harris. I am telling you how to use the item, why to use it, why I have it, or why you might not want it.  Reading the comments next to the items on any of my 1234 websites is like reading a preparedness class in itself. You are going to learn a lot just looking. You don't have to go there to buy anything. Remember I want to enable you so you know how to use things and can use them. I just don't want you to go and get something for the purpose of getting something.


Jack Spirko: In this show you have laid out six priorities. We are now down to Priority #6, your lowest priority. That is a digital trunk tracking scanner.


Steven Harris: You know how you have to look up frequencies on the internet. You used to have to do it from a book. Those books are gone now, you can do it on the internet. Then you would have to enter the frequency into a channel and then scan the channels, blah blah blah, on a regular scanner. This can be a pain in the rear end. There is a new scanner out called the "Uniden Home Patrol scanner", which is also a mobile scanner. It can go in your car. It is for home or car. It got a darn a GPS attached to it. This thing is a computer with a touch screen on it. It does not look like a regular scanner. Since it is a computer it has every frequency in it in the USA, the entire FCC data base. Because it has a GPS it know where you are. It will pull up on it's screen Pittsburgh Police or Pittsburgh Fire Department. You just tap it. It will also list the other frequencies like the FBI, border patrol, or the hospital that is near you. It just has everything in it. All you have to do is tap the screen for what you want to listen to. If you don't get the GPS attachment, I think you can enter your zip code and it will pull up all the stuff for your area by zip code. Of course you can plug it into your computer and update it, so the frequencies are updated as time goes on. Its just the way all scanners will be in the future. This is a trending thing. If you are listening to this in 2016 or 2020, your scanner will probably be a touch screen scanner like this with everything built into it. Right now it is also a top end scanner so it will listen to all of the trunked systems that police and fire are using. The only thing it can't listen to is digital trunks that are encrypted. It is an analog trunk, it is a digital trunk, it is a regular scanner, and a repeater scanner. Of course its $500, but that is the top of the line scanner. 


Jack Spirko: As powerful as it is, is the main reason you have it listed all the way down Priority #6 because it is so dang gone expensive?


Steven Harris: Yeah, because it is a flashy shiny $500 gadget. Preparedness is not about gadgets, it is about tools and talent. I do not like it when people go, "This is great. I have to get it." It is just a shiny gadget.


Jack Spirko: I think that about kills off your list of priorities but I know you have some other neat radio stuff to talk to us about. I especially like the rescue system you came up with, that we talked about a couple months ago actually.


Steven Harris: I will get to the super neat way of getting rescued in a little bit, but lets talk about setting up an illegal pirate FM radio station. That you can replay episodes of TSP or my Steven Harris classes to your entire city.


Jack Spirko: You're kidding.


Steven Harris: No I am not. Do you REALLY want to help your community before a hurricane or after a disaster? On is an FM Radio transmitter. With this you can set up your own FM station with 20 watts of power, good for dozens of miles depending on your antenna and its height. You can play any of Jack's TSP Shows or any of the Steven Harris Energy shows. Especially the one on how to power your house from your car would be a good one for everyone during a disaster. All of my Steven Harris shows and classes are at I suggest you have my shows and your favorite TSP show saved to your computer or MP3 player, or smartphone to plug into the transmit. You can just plug it in on transmit on an empty FM frequency. You can hook up a microphone and talk to people as well, give them local news and information. Your telephone will still have internet as we talked about in most disaster. I would use social media to let everyone around you know that you have a self help FM radio station on XXX certain frequency. Technically this is illegal to do according to FCC regulations so do not do this all the time. Do this only in a disaster and after a disaster, for a week or two depending. I am pretty sure you will not get into trouble for providing this temporary public resource. This comes with a 1/4 wave antenna, which is simple and good. If you want a better antenna that effectively turns your 20 watts of power into the equivalent of 40 watts, remember good antenna actually amplify power, then I have that antenna on the for you as well. If you just wanted to be blatant and set up a 24/7 pirate radio station. From what I read on the internet, it takes years and many complaints to the FCC for them to eventually find you and tell you to stop it.


Jack Spirko: Before I get a billion emails. I am officially do not do this. <Steven laughs> I am also telling you, this how to do this. Then you make your own choice. Is there a legal way to do this?


Steven Harris: Yes, there is. Just go Google "how to set up a low power FM radio station". You will find places that sell the equipment. You will find the information on how to set it up, what you can do, what you can not do, and how to register it with the FCC. Please just go Google it if you are interested. It is beyond the scope of this show.


Jack Spirko: It must be what the drive in people do, because that is how they have it. You tune to your certain station. It is probably for application like that. Anyways, what else do you have for us?


Steven Harris: There is the ever popular handheld radio that you see in the store, FRS and GMRS handheld radios. These are the radios you see in the store that over exaggerate and say what they can talk. They say they can 18 miles, 23 miles, or 27 miles. They can do this, but only if you are on top of a mountain, I am 27 miles down in the valley, and we have line of sight between each other. That is the only time these radio will talk that far.


Jack Spirko: Can you tell people, because I think a lot of people will get confused, what FRS and GMRS stand for and what the heck is difference?


Steven Harris: GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service. It started in the 1960's and requires a license. FRS stands for Family Radio Service and it does not require a license for its operation. You won't find any FRS only radios any more, they are all combined FRS and GMRS radios right now. What you will find in the stores are a 22 channel radio, and it might say its has 121 privacy codes. We will got to those in a minute. I will try to keep this simple. There are 22 channels in this GMRS/FRS radio. Channels 1 to 7 are for both GMRS and FRS. Channels 7 to 14 are FRS only and are limited to 1/2 watt power for transmitting. Channels 15 to 22 are GMRS only and are usually 1.5 watts on these radios we buy in the store. Technically for GMRS channels 1 to 7 and 15 to 22 you need to have an FCC license.  Its called a GMRS license. The manual for the radio has the info on how to get it from the FCC. You can also Google it. It costs $85 and it is good for 5 years. It covers your entire family so you do not need to have a licence for each person, just for the family. That is why it is called General Mobile Radio Service. FRS channels 7 to 14 require no license. However, no one ever gets a license for GMRS radio and everyone just uses this 22 channel radio as is. People just use it as a 22 channel walkie talkie and that is about it. What you are not realizing is that when you are on channels 7 to 14, you are only at 1/2 watt of power. This limits your range. When you are on the other channels you are using 1.5 watts of power. If you are just talking house to house you might want to be on channels 7 to 14 at 1/2 watt of power, it saves the battery. If you are further apart, then you'll have to use channels 1 to 7 or channels 15 to 22 that is at 1.5 watts of power. This is what most of you guys are going to use.


Jack Spirko: What about the privacy or quiet codes on this radio, to make sure the zombies are not listening to us and planning to attack us and eat our brains?


Steven Harris: The privacy or interference codes numbers 1 to 38, this is an analog sub tone, that you can't hear, and it is added to the transmission. If I'm on channel 1, and you're on channel 1 with no privacy codes we can talk to each other and also we can hear any transmission on channel 1. Again this is with no privacy codes, I am just on channel 1. Anyone talking with any privacy code, if our codes are off, and they are by default, I said you can hear anyone on the channel. If we are on the same channel, and I am on privacy code 7 and you are on privacy code 8, then we cannot hear each other. It is designed to eliminate interference. At a big fair, an outdoor event, or a carnival there would be a lot of people using the same channel. That provides a lot of interference with your radio, especially when they are on the edge of your range of someone and they are coming in and out. It is just irritating to use it. We only want to hear the audio of the person that is calling us.


Jack Spirko: This is a convenience thing then, this is not any type of encryption or anything like that?


Steven Harris: No it is not encryption. It is just a privacy tone so that you can not hear other people. There are no encrypted FRS and GMRS radios and technically it is quite illegal. Most people don't use the privacy tones <audio cuts out> Just so you know the GMRS FRS Radio I have on, have 121 privacy tones. 1 to 38 are analog privacy codes. If you have a midland brand GMRS radio and I have a Motorola brand GMRS radio, and we are on the same privacy code, we can talk to each other. For the Motorola, codes 39 to 121 are digital codes. It really eliminates interference and they are exclusive to Motorola only. 1 to 38 codes, any radio to any radio. If anyone says they have more than that, then that is proprietary to that company. These radios are great for car to car communications. They are great for home to home communications. They are great for person to person communications. Just know that with homes and trees in the way you can generally get a mile of communications out of them if you are at 1.5 watts. If you are in the desert then that is a different story, they will go for many miles. You don't have trees and shrubbery blocking the signal. If me and my neighbors were looking for bad people to come into our area during a disaster, and we were taking time on watch, I would have one of these next to me all the time, and on a privacy code. If it was 3am in the morning it would wake me up and I would not get other noise coming in sporadic waking me up.


Jack Spirko: Sure that makes sense. Some of these can get really fancy. What ones do you use yourself personally?


Steven Harris: I have the ones I use on They are the only ones up there, because they are so flexible and they are the only ones you really need. These are so flexible, you gotta hear this. They are made by Motorola they have 22 channels, 121 privacy codes and they have also built into them the 11 weather channels, so you can always get the weather on them. They are very water resistant. You can even push a button on it and it has a built in LED flashlight. These radios come with a single piece NIMH battery, that goes in there back, and a drop in charger. You can drop them into the charger, and pick them up when you need them. Now get this. You can take out the single piece NIMH Motorola battery and put in 3 AA batteries. Yes, 3 AA batteries. You can put in 3 AA lithium, 3 AA alkaline, 3 AA non-alkaline batteries, and yes yes yes you can even put in 3 AA NIMH batteries that I show how to charge and it will work. You know that I have showed you how to, in the how to power your house from your car show, how to easily and simply charge up all of the AA batteries you could want. That show I did with jack is at by the way. This feature is incredible because I can have a pocket full of batteries and this radio will keep on working.  Now, it does not stop there. It has got a mini USB charger on on it. You can have it in your car, on a USB charger, charging the radio battery, so it is always topped off if you are talking and driving. No other GMRS / FRS radio has this feature. Motorola really out did themselves. They hit it out of the park with this radio. They come in a kit of 2 on the Radios1234 site and its about 50 dollars, so they are $25 each. That is a lot of power and flexibility for $25 each.


Jack Spirko: The flexibility is awesome. There are a lot of people right now excited about that. That is the one thing they are going to want to buy out of everything they hear so far. Definitely get these into the hands of their neighbors and things like that. With all that flexibility, why were they not on your higher up on your priority list.


Steven Harris: Because that BaoFeng radio / scanner / ham radio is so much more flexible. That is why its at #3. I guess I would put the GMRS / FRS radios in as a priority #3. They should really be up there. That is a good comment. If you have people you need to talk back and forth with in a disaster, then yeah this would be priority #3. I did not want to make priority #3 any more complicated than already it was.


Jack Spirko: Cool, that makes a lot of sense. I think that is a big thing people have to look at. Do you have a group that you are going to be working with or not? If you do then communication is key. If you do not, then listen to other people that do is key. Let us give it up now because I have already teased people on this. You have a really cool way that people can get there ass rescued by the coast guard, or any other rescue, police, or fire agency if there is no 911 service, no cell service, and I do not have a satellite phone.


Steven Harris: Yep, you can. Now before I tell you this, understand that I talked to commercial communications experts. In fact I had a really good one email me on this just the other day. I have talked to military pilots. I have talked to commercial aviation pilots, like the big jet pilots.  I have talked to pilots that fly international across the ocean. I have talked to private pilots. I have also spoke directly to the US Coast guard on the subject and they verified everything that they can do.


Jack Spirko: Sounds like you did your Steven Harris diligence homework, lets hear it.


Steven Harris: Here is the big secret an air band radio, and the air band radios are on An air band radio will get you rescued faster than anything else. These are radios that pilots use. These are air plane radios. They are hand held walkie talkie radios and are reasonably priced. People stuck on life rafts in the Pacific always said when they have been rescued, they talk of seeing international jet liners fly over them 7 miles up. If they could only talk to them. Well now you can. People stuck on mountains can hear the search planes, but can't see them or signal them. The plane can not see them. People stuck on roofs in Katrina could do nothing but wave their arms at the helicopters to get their attention. The big secret is that all aircraft, private planes, helicopters, commercial airline jets, US Military, Coast Guard, and Police Aircraft all monitor 121.5 MHz which is called Guard! If you are in the woods, on a raft in the middle of the ocean or in the mountains and you hear an airplane, you can get this radio out and talk to them instantly and tell them where you are. A small private pilot going from one air port to another might not be on guard, some only have 1 radio and they need that to talk to the tower as they fly along. But any air plane that flies any distance, will be monitoring guard, especially all of the commercial aviation pilots. If there was a small search and rescue plane looking for you, they would be monitoring guard too. If you are in a marine environment and the coast guard is who you are going to call, you can get away with just a marine band radio. You do not need an air band radio, like in hurricane Katrina. Marine radios cost around $100 and air band radios cost around $200 and up. Most all boats and Search and Rescue in an ocean environment or the great lakes monitor marine emergency channel 16. I suggest you also carry a very good GPS with you so when you get a hold of someone you can tell them exactly where you are. Think of this, you are in Alaska hiking deep in the woods or mountains, alone. You fall and break your ankle or leg and you are stuck there. You cannot move or walk. You pull out your Air Radio on 121.5 Guard and you see a Jetliner flying 7 miles high, 35,000 feet. You key your radio and say, "Mayday mayday mayday. Jet Line flying East above Alaska, This is [ your name ] and I have an Emergency. Over."  I might take a few calls, but they will eventually figure out that its them you are talking to and they will respond. Now is a great time have your GPS and say, "I've fallen, I have broke my leg, I can not move. I am near Kavik Alaska at 69 Degrees 40.5 minutes North, 146 Degrees 54.1 minutes West, Over." They might not have the ability to make telephone on the jet liner, but they can reach an aircraft control tower or an airport, any one that is in there control zone for, and they relay your information. This would be a good time to have this phone number: 202-372-2100 printed and laminated on the back of your radio. You might even write it in silver sharpie on the radio itself. This phone number is for US Coast Guard National Command Center which is staffed 24/7/365 and ready assist in your emergency. This is there hotline. They can get a hold of any other coast guard Regional Coordination Center (RCC). They can get a hold of Alaska State Police or the Military or any other asset to send assistance. They can get a hold of everyone. This is the one phone number to call. There is another way to remember the number. I told you 202-372-2100, you can get to the same hotline calling 1-800-DAD-SAFE. That is 1-800 D A D S A F E. The reason I want you to give this phone number to the pilots so they can give it to the control tower. No matter where you go you will find people who are complacent, lazy, and do not their do-diligence. The local airport they get a hold of the coast guard. They might not have the numbers to call directly. You are not going to trust your life to someone hundreds of miles away who does not have the right phone numbers. Call Mayday, give the pilots your situation, give them your GPS location, and then give them the phone number that needs to be called.  Make sure the pilots tell the coast guard that you have an air band radio and you are on 121.5 Guard. This is one stop life saving. The thing you don't realize is that a coast guard C-130, or any other airplane at at 30,000 feet, can talk to you for hundreds of miles away, get an update on your situation, and also tell you help is on the way. You just went from having a broken leg in Alaska and being bear bate, to being in direct communications with the US Coast Guard. This does not have to be for a marine or Alaska environment.  If you can't dial 911, you get your location to the Coast Guard, they can then get a hold of anyone else that will be local to you. The people at this Coast Guard phone number are intelligent, capable, highly trained professionals. They will take your call or message "heart attack serious."  They will move heaven and Earth to get you rescued by some method.  God Bless the US Coast Guard for having this service. Note: If you can not see or hear an air plane, just call "Mayday Mayday Mayday" every 15 minutes. Like I said, planes 500 miles away can hear you calling "Mayday".


Jack Spirko: Yeah, heart attack serious is how they will take it and how you need to treat this information that Steve just gave you. This not because you did not get your McNuggets at McDonald's or thing like that. This is because you are actually in trouble. What I have just heard is one of the most important pieces of emergency preparedness information I ever have. I am not sure why it is not more widely know. Thanks for bring it to us. It makes me think of all the people running around with kit, with a signal mirror in it. I am not saying a signal mirror is useless, because there are usefull things you can do with a signal mirror. You know you are not going to do with the signal mirrored? You are not going to bounce the light of a pilot face 7.5 miles up in a 747 on this way to New York City. He is not even notice you. He is not going to care about you, but this will get his attention. That type of information is absolutely lifesaving information. It does amaze me that it is not more widely known.


Steven Harris: I have never ever heard about this before. When I was doing my research I radios, not for the show, but other stuff. I actually came up with this about probably 5 or 6 years ago. I bought some surplus air band radios, some older one that pilots had. They were like 8 years old. I got up like $70 on eBay. I have a brand-new air band radio on right now. It costs about $200. Get this, it comes with a regular batter pack, and it comes with an alkaline battery pack as well. If you read I stress always having an alkaline radio battery pack. My air band radio I have, the lithium battery in it is completely dead. I have had 7 to 8 years. It is completely dead but the AA battery pack I have it with alkaline batteries in it works. I can just popped that thing in and it will give me a heck of a lot of long listen and talk time. That radio I was talking about it comes with an alkaline pack, regular battery, it comes with a DC charge cable, DC power cable as well the AC cable, all for $200 and it has got everything in it that you could want for if you’re going out someplace or you want to use the source of this method of communication to call for help. Like I said if you are in Louisiana simple $100 marine radio, that will work just great for you. I got marine radios on the website. I also have alkaline battery packs for the marine radios on the website. I tell you all about them, which was good and which was bad. Before I go, I want to give out some more information. All of the shows I have done with Jack, all of my 1234 websites, and everything else I have in all of my free preparedness stuff I have for you is now all listed at a new 1234 website. That is I still have Solar1234 and Battery1234 and FirstAid1234, but all of the 1234s are just now listed at This show will be at I have another new 1234 website for general preparedness, and that is It is got great general preparedness stuff on it. It has nothing to do with energy. It has some surprisingly simple things for light that you will like. It is again mostly all stuff that I own, have owned for a long time, used, and tested. The site will continue to expand and grow as I do more, so stop on by.


Jack Spirko: Cool man. I think we have kind of worn out this subject.


Steven Harris: Yeah, I wanted to be thorough. I didn't want to come on and just leave people with questions in there mind. I wanted them to be enabled. I want them to go, "Okay, I know what I can do with the privacy code now on a GMRS radios. I know which one is a good ones." Even if they do not get the Motorola one that is on the radio site, they can look at it and go "Gee that is a lot of features." They might find one of their sports store on clearance. They will go, "That has a lot of features that Steve's Motorola had on it and they will be able to buy it.


Jack Spirko: I like the priority system that you set up too. The little radios are important. That is something I have always had. Every bag we have, each vehicle has one in it. Your vehicle has a radio. Yeah, but I am going to have to leave my vehicle. A simple AM/FM radio is where you started. I think are people that are kind of deer in the headlights right now, step one get that done.


Steven Harris: Go on and just start raining my comments. I would read the priorities and read my comments. It is a class in itself. There is stuff on that I did not even mention in this show. I had to throw in the thing about the lithium battery packs because I really wanted to emphasize that. I originally was not going to mention it. There is a lot more things up there. I talk more about the 20 watt FM transmitter. I talked about needing a GPS. Everything I just read to you about how to get rescued by the coast guard, is all at the very top of that page in text. You can go read what I just told you on the top of that site. I try to make it all ensuing and one-stop resource for that subject.


Jack Spirko: I appreciate all the effort you put into these shows Steve. Thanks for being with us today.


Steven Harris: Thanks Jack, I will talk to you later. Do not forget that I will be calling some more Q&A questions for Friday. I’ll talk to guys later.


Jack Spirko: Folks, with that this has been Jack Spirko today along with Steven Harris. Helping you how to live that better life if times get tough, or even it they don't.


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