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Chem's 1 in 15 Ham Plan

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Chemsoldier:
A Survivalist Hams it Up: Chemsoldier’s 1 in 15 Plan
I want to take my ham radio abilities to a much higher level to try to make myself more useful to my community and of greater utility to my family’s lives.

Where I am now:  I have my tech license (as does my wife), two UV-5R HTs, a magna mount antenna, after market whip antennas, AA battery packs, computer cable and a few books (ARRL Operating Manual, repeater directory and Antenna Guide).  I have programmed using CHiRP and gotten on my local repeater.  I monitor sometimes.  To be honest, I probably listen to the NOAA radio station more regularly.  I have been to three meetings of my local amateur radio club in the last six months.  I have no meat space friends or acquaintances who are hams.  Oh, I also own a few Motorola handi-talkies. 

Goals:  1) Establish useful and resilient local communications in the neighborhood, city and county.  2) Establish connections with my local responder community and build situational awareness in dimensions difficult to do through normal media.  3) Establish communications credibility that I can use as an “in” to build local connections when I move to a new location with the military. 4)Enhance the communications resiliency of my family and ensure that redundant communications is not seen as “weird” or undesirable by my children. 5) Provide a vital service to my community in order to make the welfare of my family and myself important to the community.

Lines of Effort:  These are overarching approaches towards accomplishing the final objective.  Its just a framework to ensure that you are not neglecting something as you work towards your goals.

1.   Community:  Cultivating the community of hams in my area.  Build connections with non-hams in my community, perhaps starting with prepper minded individuals who do not have a commo guy.  Develop situational awareness of local events and connecting with the 1st responder community (ARES?)

2.   Qualifications:  Learn how to use ham radio that includes qualifications that will help me integrate into the ham radio and 1st responder community wherever I move.

3.   Systems:  Develop the technical expertise and organizational and planning systems to leverage communications systems for the security and safety of my family and community.

4.   Infrastructure:  Come up with a fiscally responsible plan to acquire the radios, accessories, knowledge and power redundancies to facilitate meeting my goals.

Actions:

LOE  1- Join as a dues paying member of my club.  Attend events.  Join a committee or working group.  In my case, become a radio merit badge counselor and go to club station work days (I don’t know much so go move heavy things).  Try to monitor weekly nets.  Try to find other hams in the neighborhood and make my communications skills visible to those who are also preppers.  Be prepared to share what I know about communications.  I know more than a few preppers who own the radios (yes, Baofengs)  but don’t know how to use them. Teach them.

LOE 2- Continue to study and take my General Exam.  Continue past it and get my Extra by the end of the year (the Extra license seems more important as a show of commitment to the hobby than opening up THAT many new bands).  Get the Chemwife and myself SKYWARN trained and pursue my FEMA courses towards ARES membership.

LOE 3- Learn how to use the radios I have and add HF as soon as feasible.  Build a family contact plan with freqs, contact schedule and procedures for re-establishing communications.  Build a signal propagation map of my area to include where I can and cannot reach with various radios, antennas and procedures.  Learn digital modes. 

LOE 4- Acquire an HF Rig.  Acquire a home or mobile rig for the home.  Digital trunking scanner to monitor local emergency services.  Build antennas.  Go bag for emergencies.  Backup power plan for communications. I suspect I will not stay with the Baofengs and will upgrade at some point. Tools, cabling and connectors.

Well, that is where I am at the moment.  I solicit feedback, suggestions, comments from the group.  What am I forgetting?  Clarification of intent:  While I will not stop shooting, going to the gym or reading (far from it); I am committing to making this a large part of my leisure time activity.  My shooting for instance is going down to maintenance levels for the year.  So while this may seem ambitious (except to Cedar, who preps more before breakfast than I do all day), I think I am being realistic on what I can get done.

Cedar:

--- Quote from: Chemsoldier on October 27, 2014, 07:50:01 PM ---I am committing to making this a large part of my leisure time activity. 

--- End quote ---

And this is how I manage to do it............. well .. usually.

I re-evaluated my 13 in '13 as you 'forced' me too, but I chose to make some unrealistic goals to push myself, even if it was just to get myself thinking about them. I think you can easily do what you set out to do with this list of yours.

Cedar

Alan Georges:
Excellent general plan, CS.

--- Quote ---I solicit feedback, suggestions, comments from the group.
--- End quote ---
Since you asked...  here are some things I have found to be immensely helpful.  Like you, I had essentially no meatspace friends in ham, so I started in the same place as you, two years ago.  Here're some of the things that have worked for me:

(1) Joining the local club has opened all kinds of doors, some of them listed below, and some just in terms of general help and quick advice.  Excellent plan, and I see that you – correctly I believe – placed it first on the list.  It also gives you a ready-made contact with the local emergency management agencies.

(2) Does this club or any nearby have a weekly VHF/UHF net you can take part in?  These are very helpful in getting things rolling with using your radios on a regular basis, and getting those first steps in with getting it all working smoothly.

(3) Are you within Baofeng reach of any local repeaters?  Get started talking to people that way, especially if there's a formal net asking for check-ins.  Just listen to how everybody else does it and jump in.

(3a) If you're on the edge of repeater range, consider building or buying a slim jim / j-pole type antenna to be able to reach it.  These can be made for < $10, or bought for < $35.  Combined with 25' of coax and a cooperative tree you can hit repeaters 20+ miles away with your Baofengs.

(4) Back to the club... man, is a club ever the way to deals on gently used equipment.  In the last month alone, I've seen three nice radios change hands at about 1/3 of list price.

(5) Do you have an SSB-capable shortwave radio?  While you're working toward your General license upgrade, you can listen in on some HF traffic and get a feel for how it's done.  If you have an Android or iOS device, you can even begin decoding some digital signals.

Finally,
--- Quote ---Continue past it and get my Extra by the end of the year (the Extra license seems more important as a show of commitment to the hobby than opening up THAT many new bands)
--- End quote ---
  Yes, that is about right.  I learned a lot studying for it last winter, and it felt great to pass it, but really I've hardly used the additional band space at all.  General gives you all you need, and the main reason to go Extra is a desire to learn.  Get the ARRL study guide anyway because it is also an excellent reference book and, who knows, you may get iced in for a week and need something to do.

Good luck, and keep asking questions!

Chemsoldier:
Thanks Alan!  PM sent on some of the stuff you posted.

endurance:
Sounds like a great plan, Chem. I look forward to hearing updates on your progress.

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