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GMRS is the only Paid option for general repeater use.


WRFS771
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The FRS network and blister packs are causing the problems for GMRS use.

If people want free and cheap, then get your Amateur Radio testing and license.

 

For people that dont want to study, they have 40 Citizen Band channels and MURS.

 

If radios are illegal because they can transmit on FRS and GMRS.

That makes all Amateur Radios illegal because they all transmit over the .5 watt dedicated FRS channels.

 

The solution is to end the FRS network, all 22 channels and dedicated GMRS repeater channels should be for paid $70 fCC licence holders.

We are paying for the use to the FCC for more power and distance.

Even Amateur radio is free but you need to study and learn so you understand.

AMATEUR RADIO operators are vital to our national security.

GMRS is a way to get in and start using, later family members may want to get an Amateur Radio license and enter the hobby.

 

People think shared FRS/GMRS means that they can buy equipment that cost less and program to shared channels but they dont qualify because they transmit on The dedicated FRS channels above the allowed .5 watt power

 

A HAM operator can monitor and listen to GMRS and FRS

They dont have the clearance to transmit on those networks.

 

Think about the wording of the FCC rules.

 

Removable antenna? MOST Amateur radios have removable antennas.

 

For families that want the blister packs, make them pay a $5 annual FCC GMRS license.

That makes it cheap for quick use.

.5 watts and fixed antennas.

 

Or pay the $70 ten year licence if you want to transmit at higher power and use repeaters.

Thanks

WRFS771

A programmable radio makes people more prepared in emergencies.

An Amateur radio operator can transmit on GMRS in an emergency.

Anyone can. Dont limit equipment, hold the users accountable.

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FRS is a Family Radio Service. As in: you buy the (part 95) radios, you blabber on them, no restrictions. Families use them on camping, fishing, hiking trips, on playgrounds, on county fairs, in shopping malls. Business can use FRS if it suites the needs, like if you are a construction guy on the top of the 5-story building tired of yelling silly at your crew below. Or you are an employee at the valet parking lot.

 

Proper certified FRS radios have fixed antennas. Anyone can monitor and listen on FRS frequencies. Anyone can perfectly transmit on FRS frequencies using FRS radio, including HAM operators.

 

Illegal radios exist and will always exist, just like illegal guns and illegal drugs. And illegal speeding. And illegal fishing.

 

To require to end FRS or pay for FRS license because your operations are inconvenienced, is very wrong, even if you paid $70 for 10 years.

 

Amateur operators (HAMs) are not vital for the national security. It's a hobby, just like knitting or cat grooming. Nuclear subs, healthy economy, transportation network, energy independence, free press, sane leadership are vital for national security. You know what else is vital - a clear head on top of every citizen's shoulders.


 

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  • 2 years later...
On 4/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, WRFS771 said:

If people want free and cheap, then get your Amateur Radio testing and license.

I know, since this post, Ham Radio now costs for the license, but Ham Radio itself is NOT cheap, unless you go with a Chinese radio and stick with repeaters. If you upgrade and get into HF you are looking at thousands of dollars just to effectively communicate and run with the big boys. Its one of many things that turn me off about HF. The big thing about Ham Radio tests for people who just want to talk is that they don't want to have to learn all that technical radio stuff. They just want to use repeaters and talk. Of course, if you live in many areas, especially like I do in the northeast, repeaters are dead so getting into Ham Radio makes no sense unless you want to jump on HF and activate OTA stations. Seems like that's all Ham Radio is now. CONTESTS.

 

 

On 4/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, WRFS771 said:

AMATEUR RADIO operators are vital to our national security.

We're doomed if that's the case. If they behave like they have around me when bad weather pops up and Skywarn is supposed to be activated, You're better off tucking your head between your legs and kissing your butt goodbye. I have personally witnessed times where Ham Radio should have been used and it wasn't and it could have costed lives. Thanks to our reliable cell phone networks, people were properly warned.

Ham radio is a hobby for contesting and experimenting. Its something for people who want to learn about radio and if it is left as that without the rotten politics that consume it, Its a real fun hobby because it covers just about every sort of radio communication with the exception of trunking and encryption. There is a lot to learn and many wonderful knowledgeable Hams to teach people. Emergency communication, national security, etc? It will never happen. That's what GMRS/FRS is for. More people can throw money at the FCC and get a license than can throw money at the FCC AND take a test on theory they dont care about. FRS radios can be found at any corner store and GMRS radios are found all over Ebay, Bridgecom, and many other sites.  GMRS/FRS is the service that preppers and other survivalists are drawn to more. Its got your short range you want and you are able to operate repeaters if you want (licensed of course). 

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Ham is touted as the best option for emergency communications or SHTF situations. The problem is that old fogies who run the miscellaneous clubs, and prepper groups, think that reading fox news headlines over the local repeater, or broadcasting which Costco still has pallets of toilet paper in stock during a crisis is going to be the best use of 2 way radio comms after a major emergency.

The reality of course is that inexpensive radios that can be looted from the local Walmart and distributed to neighbors will be used for coordinating the digging of latrines, and clearing debris with a little bit of search and rescue thrown in for good measure. In the case of a major disaster, overweight retirees with ham licenses, will be the ones needing rescue, not providing essential communications (or any useful assistance whatsoever). FRS/GMRS fits the bill for easily accessible equipment that can be rapidly deployed where and when its needed. Amateur radio, while an excellent hobby for a 10 year old boy scout to learn about radio communications, radiation, frequency spectrums, and other nerdy stuff, it's not well suited for the stated purpose, precisely because of the specialized, complicated, and overpriced equipment required for basic functionality.

Personally, I think the testing requirement for the tech(+) license has outlived its usefulness and only serves as a way to keep lonely old guys busy proctoring exams, and pontificating about the dangers of cheap Chinese radios. Removing the testing requirement (not the operating rules) would do a world of good for improving ham as a hobby, and make it more useful for emergency communications.

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1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

Ham is touted as the best option for emergency communications or SHTF situations. The problem is that old fogies who run the miscellaneous clubs, and prepper groups, think that reading fox news headlines over the local repeater, or broadcasting which Costco still has pallets of toilet paper in stock during a crisis is going to be the best use of 2 way radio comms after a major emergency.

The reality of course is that inexpensive radios that can be looted from the local Walmart and distributed to neighbors will be used for coordinating the digging of latrines, and clearing debris with a little bit of search and rescue thrown in for good measure. In the case of a major disaster, overweight retirees with ham licenses, will be the ones needing rescue, not providing essential communications (or any useful assistance whatsoever). FRS/GMRS fits the bill for easily accessible equipment that can be rapidly deployed where and when its needed. Amateur radio, while an excellent hobby for a 10 year old boy scout to learn about radio communications, radiation, frequency spectrums, and other nerdy stuff, it's not well suited for the stated purpose, precisely because of the specialized, complicated, and overpriced equipment required for basic functionality.

Personally, I think the testing requirement for the tech(+) license has outlived its usefulness and only serves as a way to keep lonely old guys busy proctoring exams, and pontificating about the dangers of cheap Chinese radios. Removing the testing requirement (not the operating rules) would do a world of good for improving ham as a hobby, and make it more useful for emergency communications.

 

I can't even begin to describe how ignorant and arrogant you sound. You clearly have zero practical experience in amateur radio, how the operators are integrated within local, state and federal emergency response plans, nor the overwhelming success the amateur radio community has had serving in actual national emergencies. The assumption that every operator is a decrepit, overweight, old man whom needs rescuing is laughable at best.

 

Sorry @OffRoaderX I know that has Sad Ham written all over it... but I have to draw the line somewhere.  LOL

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21 minutes ago, marcspaz said:

I can't even begin to describe

That's okay. I can.

22 minutes ago, marcspaz said:

You clearly have zero practical experience in amateur radio

Yeah, except I do. I know I didn't come out directly and say it, but I was a ham at 10. Inducted in the scouts, and spent a number of years active in the hobby. When puberty hit, my interests changed to more challenging pursuits as one does. Later on I realized that chicks really dig net control operators so I worked my way up in RACES and eventually became an "officer" (Its not as exciting as it sounds though, everyone gets to be one after a year). Anyway, to make a long story longer, I've been involved with multiple disaster prep organizations associated with police, sheriff, and fire agencies. When CERT became a thing the first class was full, but I was able to reserve a spot in the second one. So, I am fully aware of how operators are integrated within local, state, and federal emergency response plans. My opinion, based on practical experience, still stands.

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3 hours ago, WRQC290 said:

That's okay. I can.

Yeah, except I do. I know I didn't come out directly and say it, but I was a ham at 10. Inducted in the scouts, and spent a number of years active in the hobby. When puberty hit, my interests changed to more challenging pursuits as one does. Later on I realized that chicks really dig net control operators so I worked my way up in RACES and eventually became an "officer" (Its not as exciting as it sounds though, everyone gets to be one after a year). Anyway, to make a long story longer, I've been involved with multiple disaster prep organizations associated with police, sheriff, and fire agencies. When CERT became a thing the first class was full, but I was able to reserve a spot in the second one. So, I am fully aware of how operators are integrated within local, state, and federal emergency response plans. My opinion, based on practical experience, still stands.

 

I can't believe this is true AND you have the previously stated opinion.  You would know that there is no other group or assortment of technology, techniques and talent that can match what we can accomplish and have accomplished with amateur radio and our partnerships with the aforementioned agencies. When no one else can communicate, Hams can.

 

I'm certainly not bashing GMRS, FRS. The best solution is the one you have, but I'm not going to sit here and let you post that BS opinion and not call you out. Sorry... but no.

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I hope I didn't imply that amateur radio wasn't useful at all. I only meant to convey that GMRS and FRS was the better choice for the stated purpose of emergency use, simply because the required equipment is readily available, requires no training, and most importantly cheap. Hams have an important role to play, and are written into almost all response plans. Afterall, someone has to set up the IC tent, get the food and Gatorade delivered, or raise the antenna on the GMRS repeater. My experience during activations is that the hams talk amongst themselves, relay information overheard at incident command, and do the clerical work that is essential for keeping field teams organized. Meanwhile those field teams are doing the heavy lifting using $40 radios that are perfectly capable of talking to each other and relaying requests for more shovels. It is true that hams are often the ones called upon to man the mobile command center (either city, or county Comms truck or their own RV parked next to it) and they report to the radio room at the EOC as well. None of this procedural stuff is of importance or interest to your neighbor who is trying to dig you out of a collapsed building.

Hams don't activate superhero powers during emergencies. They use trained skills to perform a job. A job that many non-hams are also trained for. The claim that hams can do something other people can't is a bit of a stretch. 

1 hour ago, marcspaz said:

When no one else can communicate

Neither can hams. Amateur radio is neat and does cool things not relying on landlines, cell towers, or internet connections. Satellite phones have the same characteristics, but you don't see those people saying "when no one else can communicate, I can call Dominos in Lubbock, Texas". Circling back to my main point though - In a crisis, the emergency is right here, right now. Not 500 miles away. For practical use GMRS or even 'toy' FRS radios get the hard work started without waiting for a mobile ham shack to get set up.

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7 hours ago, WRQC290 said:

In a crisis, the emergency is right here, right now. Not 500 miles away.

This is exactly the argument I have had with many hams. I have been in the ham world since the 90's and what I have found is that the direction that is accepted most by the ham community is that you get your Tech license and then you upgrade ASAP so you can get into HF and disappear into the worldwide bands. Allegedly, if anything hit the fan, HF is how they will communicate because all those nasty icky repeaters would be down. I have heard more disgust for repeaters and specifically the VHF and UHF bands because allegedly, they only have repeater operation (even though there is a group of guys around my area that utilize simplex on 2 meters every night....hmmm). So, what happens is that most hams run, get their higher class license, hop on HF and do what they do on CB radio - contesting (basically). Calling CQ over and over and collecting contacts. Hardly what would happen in an emergency. I am not bashing this because its part of the hobby and its one of the neat things you can do. But when it comes to being prepared for an emergency, you need to delve into another part of the radio hobby. 

Theoretically, could ham radio be useful in an emergency? Absolutely! You have capability to communicate locally and internationally. The reality? How is anyone going to do that when they have spent most of their Ham Radio life doing POTA or SOTA or any other OTA? How are they going to do that when they haven't trained? Law enforcement of every type trains for the positions they are in at least twice a year if not more (Correct me if I am wrong). Military is constantly training. Hams? Most are unfortunately doing OTA activations. They have a training once a year for a few hours that happens and then they go back to their normal ham lives.

The reality is that if cell service went down, panic will ensue. People, if they are prepared will run and grab a radio. What radio will that be? Not Ham. It will be a GMRS/FRS type radio. If the majority of people will be there, why stick only with Ham Radio where only a select group of people will be?

I've seen some scary situations where ham radio failed and it could have costed lives. My take on it is to be prepared with your local bands and if you can have a Ham and GMRS license, do so. But I would imagine, to help your locals, GMRS/FRS will be where you need to be.

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VHF and UHF communications are short range and communications may not leave the area of concern. Granted, that is a key issue as it allows communications between people within the area but will have little to no impact for summoning aid or relaying information outside the area. Each has their place but I wouldn't count on VHF or UHF for summoning aid more than 1 or 2 miles away.

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@WRQI583  The things you are saying and what @WRQC290 are saying just don't match up to what is really happening in the world of emergency response.  I'll share actual facts about what has been happening based on my continued involvement over the last 20 years.  If you still feel the way you do, than I will just simply stop the discussion. 

 

Before I get too far into this, I want to share my background.  Normally I hate people who "flash their resume" in an internet debate, but in this case I think its relevant to the topic we are discussing.  Especially since John set the precedent. 

 

I am turning 50 this year.  I have a gifted IQ and since I was 12 years old (1984), I have been working as a professional in Electronics Engineering and Computer Systems and Network Engineering.  I have been specializing as a consultant for the Department of Homeland Security since its inception in 2002.  I have several major roles in the organization.  One of my roles are providing emergency communications sustainment to critical communications infrastructure to ensure first responder, emergency responders, public messaging, and 911 communications are functional during emergencies.

 

Additionally, I am and have been a volunteer with ARES/RACES for 20 years.  I am an Assistant Emergency Coordinator, Operator and trainer in two states, totaling 3 counties.  I have decades of extensive training in NIMS, ICS and EmComm/AuxComm.  In my years of experience, I have assisted with emergency communications with several major disasters in the US, both man-made and natural.  Most lasting months.

 

With some of my credentials listed (goodness I hated that) let me explain what happens in the real-world.  Obviously I cannot speak for how everyone does everything, but my teams are regularly used as an example of what should be done.

 

For someone to join our team and be a successful participant, they only need a technician class license, a decent VHF handheld radio, a couple of spare batteries and some entry level ICS training.  Would other tools help?  Sure, but our teams do provide almost everything needed.  Obviously, there is a significant need for people to be in good health due to the working conditions in an actual disaster, but we don't discriminate due to disabilities.  If you can do the job, you can do the job.

 

The teams that I work with have a very heavy focus on VHF and UHF.  We have VHF/UHF repeater systems owned by the ARES/RACES team members that are located at key locations, such as at the hospitals, airports and both County and State EOC's.  We have spent a significant amount of time and money investing in battery, solar and liquid fuel generators at each location, for extended to unlimited amounts of runtime, regardless of commercial and public works infrastructure.  Our repeater systems are designed in such as way that we have coverage with most of them for greater than a 90 mile diameter, with overlap for relays.

 

We also have extensive, member owned digital and APRS networks in our support areas.  We have our own extensive OTA computer network that allows us to send electronic documents, email, and other tradition computer-based functions.  On occasion, that also includes voice and video conferencing. 

 

We have several redundant systems for portable and mobile VHF/UHF repeater systems that can be on the air providing coverage in minutes... not hours or days.  All 100% standalone and supported by battery, solar, and/or liquid fueled generators.

 

All of our VHF and UHF equipment has been modified for compatibility with with FRS and GMRS radios, as well as some DOD services.  Often our civilian volunteer SAR/USAR teams use these radios, as well as us intentionally putting FRS radios in the hands of critical leadership and POC's inside the workforce so they can easily reach us if we don't have the manpower for a Shadow.  Additionally, many of our members' personally owned equipment has been modified for this purpose as well.

 

With regard to HF, there is an occasional call for the use of it.  This is typically for voice or email traffic that does need to travel hundreds of miles and the backbone is down.  Examples would be during the Katrina response or during the week-long power blackout that impacted all of the Northeast and parts of eastern Canada, to name a couple.  We do have a few members who hold a General or Extra license who would man those stations at the EOC's, their home shack or portal shack, if needed.

 

So, with all of that said, I get personally offended and defensive when people such as yourself or John say things like you have.  Especially stuff like this...

 

"old fogies who run the miscellaneous clubs, and prepper groups, think that reading fox news headlines over the local repeater, or broadcasting which Costco still has pallets of toilet paper in stock during a crisis is going to be the best use of 2 way radio comms after a major emergency."

(Encouraging or advocating for theft? Wow)  "The reality of course is that inexpensive radios that can be looted from the local Walmart and distributed to neighbors..."

"overweight retirees with ham licenses, will be the ones needing rescue, not providing essential communications (or any useful assistance whatsoever)."

 

So, are there a bunch of old farts, contesters, rag chewers and people with disabilities on Ham radio?  Sure.  In my 20 years of personal and profession experience specifically surrounding emergency services, are those the people who are responding to emergencies?  Nope.  Is FRS/GMRS "better" than Amateur Radio for emergencies?  While if depends on the immediate need and the bodies doing the work at the moment, generally speaking I would say no, because FRS and GMRS simply can not provide the level of services that Amateur Radio can. 

 

Again, GMRS and FRS are extremely valuable for some emergency responses.  I am proud to be a GMRS user.  I am not bashing the service, its users, or the awesome men and women who put together some amazing GMRS networks to help people in their area.

 

So, that's it.  End of soap box.

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I was going to tl;dr that, but since we're on a first name basis now, I'll respond as politely as I can.

I don't doubt your experience, qualifications, or that hams own lots of useful stuff. What I have shared with WRQI583, yourself (do you prefer Marc or Spaz?), et. al. Is based on observation, and experience in the same real world you live in. Whether you want to believe it or not my experience is "what is really happening in the world of emergency response". I'm glad your experience is different (better?), but we shouldn't pretend it's all sunshine and rainbows across the board. Does this mean there is room for improvement? I think so, and in many ways that is happening. So that's encouraging.

With regard to your view that Amateur radio is better for emergencies rather than GMRS/FRS, My view is the opposite for exactly the same reasons as you. Amateur radio simply can not provide the level of services that cheap, easily accessible radios can. It's a matter of practicality. Many more children receive midland walkie talkies at Christmas than a ham radio. Those radios can be put into service right now, and useful immediately. And, no I'm not suggesting you grab the neighbor's 12 year old and assign him to morgue duty, nor would I encourage or advocate theft - That would be wrong, but lets be real here.

Ultimately, the exclusive nature of ham radio and holier than thou attitude that many hams (not you of course) puts it in second place for practical, useful communication in an emergency, and probably makes it unpalatable to those nerdy enough to enjoy it as a hobby. Earlier I suggested that removing the test requirement for the Technician license (is tech+ still a thing or did that go away?) would be helpful overall. What do you think?

 

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1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

I was going to tl;dr that, but since we're on a first name basis now, I'll respond as politely as I can.

 

LOL.. sorry, I'll try to keep this shorter.

This is just my opinion... but this reply providing an explanation of your opinion is significantly easier to digest, except and respect.  Especially for me comparing it to your initial post.  I seriously do appreciate the cordial response.

  

1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

(do you prefer Marc or Spaz?)

 

All of my friends call me Spaz.  Please feel free to use whichever you are comfortable with.

 

1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

With regard to your view that Amateur radio is better for emergencies rather than GMRS/FRS, My view is the opposite for exactly the same reasons as you.

 

Understood. 

  

1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

...nor would I encourage or advocate theft - That would be wrong, but lets be real here.

 

I have to be honest... there is a difference between understanding that it happens vs. being SOP and part of the plan, which is what it sounded like you were advocating earlier.  I'm glad you clarified. 

  

1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

Ultimately, the exclusive nature of ham radio and holier than thou attitude that many hams (not you of course)...

 

I thank you for that.  I try not to have a "holier than thou" attitude.  I don't believe I am better than anyone else, but rather accept that I am flawed.  Everyone has value, regardless of differences in any parts of our lives.

I do owe you an apology, though.  I really took you post personally, so I came at you pretty hard, not giving you a chance to explain your side of it.  For that, I'm sorry.

  

1 hour ago, WRQC290 said:

Earlier I suggested that removing the test requirement for the Technician license (is tech+ still a thing or did that go away?) would be helpful overall. What do you think?

 

Legacy license Like Advanced and Tech+ are still honored, but the only new licenses currently issued are Technician, General and Extra.

 

As far as getting rid of the test requirement for entry level, I think I would be really hesitant.  With even an entry level an Amateur Radio license of Technician, you can have global communications with just a few watts and Amateur bands but up against frequencies that are used by emergency services.  FRS/GMRS but up against frequencies that are used by emergency services too, but the radio equipment is restrictive enough to prevent someone who is not aware from causing harmful interference by mistake.  Almost all of the Tech license training is about rules, more than technology.  That is to help make people aware of limits so they don't make themselves or others sick (RF exposure) or mistakenly cause harmful interference to other services.

 

If the test was ditched, I would probably be more open to the idea if it was replaced with something like a few hours in a mandatory class, so we know that new operators are aware of dangers, benefits and resources for information if they want to learn more or get a reminder.

 

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Well I have to say, I don't bash any service of radio. Ham radio as a whole has a lot to offer. Its some of the people that are into it that make issues, or in some cases, dont exist in emergency situations. When I first got licensed as a ham back in the 90's the following things really intrigued me and I tried so hard to get into them - Emergency communication, VHF/UHF radio work (all modes and different things involved), building antennas for on the go type situations, maintaining a portable station where I could be out in the middle of nowhere and still operate, Skywarn, and many other things associated with off grid/emergency type communications. In the end all I got was "are you going to upgrade your license and join us on HF?"

I even got the ol chuckle from those in public safety when mentioning how ham radio had a whole emergency communications aspect to it. What am I supposed to take all that as? It doesn't seem as though anyone really cares about ham radio or its ability in disaster situations. Maybe its the area I live in. Up here in the northeast most just rely on the national guard if something hit the fan, and now where I live in Maine, most people already live prepared for an emergency (which almost never happens) so no one really seems to care about communication. They all have cell phones. I know in other parts of the country, Ham Radio is used heavily in many types of emergencies, so I may be spouting my mouth off about only my little area. Going by what I have observed with my own eyes and ears, it honestly scares me if I relied fully on Ham radio for emergency communication. How I have seen Ham radio used in other areas of the country during the slightest of emergencies vs. how its been used in areas I have lived is a big difference. The lack of enthusiasm for the emergency communication aspect in addition to many other things is what caused me to take a back seat with Ham Radio. I still keep my equipment and license just in case and I still do experimenting on my own but I leave it as "It's there in case I need it". I still like to be prepared just in case.

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1 hour ago, marcspaz said:

Tech license training is about rules, more than technology

Come on. All that "training" is voluntary at best. As a kid when the interest was there, I was so excited that I scoured all the books, talked with Gordon West at the fairground, and sat for some classes. Obviously, I was in school so doing all that studying was second nature, but I was going to be top of the class dammit! When I finally took the test, even then, I knew I had wasted my time. I could have passed that test months earlier after flipping through the question pool. Hell, it's multiple choice just like school, I stood a good chance just guessing! Since all the licensing is online now, that "training" could be accomplished with a couple pages of rules, and clicking "I Agree" then "Submit Payment".

41 minutes ago, WRQI583 said:

most just rely on the national guard if something hit the fan

I know that not everyone is as likeable, friendly, outgoing, or modest as I am, but that sounds like a community outreach problem to me. Do you have a CERT team nearby? I always encourage people to find time to do it even if they don't want to join - the training is comprehensive, hands on, and free. It's especially good because it emphasizes that in a significant enough situation, relying on national guard, police, fire, or EMS (I'll put ham radio in here, just to torment Marc) is not an option, because they aren't coming. I remember during a debrief, the example along the lines of (paraphrasing), 'If the event is large enough, San Diego won't care if Palm Springs is on fire'.  Yes, they will send manpower, tankers, ladder trucks, and whatever else, but the fires at home will be put out first. I think it's important for people to realize that while our public safety network is robust and capable the majority of time, it's also fragile and limited in extreme situations. Maybe I'm just getting old and paranoid, but it feels like situations that test the limits are happening with greater frequency these days, as opposed to just a few years ago. Anyway, If I were in your shoes, I would talk to neighbors. Maybe grab a couple bubble pack radios to give away. 

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4 hours ago, WRQC290 said:

know that not everyone is as likeable, friendly, outgoing, or modest as I am, but that sounds like a community outreach problem to me. Do you have a CERT team nearby? I always encourage people to find time to do it even if they don't want to join - the training is comprehensive, hands on, and free. It's especially good because it emphasizes that in a significant enough situation, relying on national guard, police, fire, or EMS (I'll put ham radio in here, just to torment Marc) is not an option, because they aren't coming. I remember during a debrief, the example along the lines of (paraphrasing), 'If the event is large enough, San Diego won't care if Palm Springs is on fire'.  Yes, they will send manpower, tankers, ladder trucks, and whatever else, but the fires at home will be put out first. I think it's important for people to realize that while our public safety network is robust and capable the majority of time, it's also fragile and limited in extreme situations. Maybe I'm just getting old and paranoid, but it feels like situations that test the limits are happening with greater frequency these days, as opposed to just a few years ago. Anyway, If I were in your shoes, I would talk to neighbors. Maybe grab a couple bubble pack radios to give away. 

 

I've never heard of a CERT team near me. The really sad part,  most people around me have never heard of ham radio. Most people ask me what division of the state police or sheriff's department I am.  Or the famous one..... what fire department.  I mention ham radio and their heads spin in circles.

They do have active hams with the local county EOC and they do have a very nice gentleman who is also a liason of sorts to GMRS in addition to ham radio operator but ham radio presence in my area is low enough to where people don't know what it is or does for the community.  At least back in my home state I could mention ham radio and most people knew of it through the community,  a relative, or a friend.  Ham radio was also included in most outdoor events where communication was needed. 

So I think location and how active the hams are in the community make a world of difference. Also,  what bands they are active on. Hams are noticed more when they have vehicles with antennas and carry radios on their sides vs. Those that sit home and only operate HF. If you are visible to the public,  then the public knows you and what you're about.  

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Your emergency might not be my emergency, and vice versa.

Just have a communication plan for your emergency. If it is to organize community to clear the road from the landslide with FRS, so be it. If to order pizza from Lubbock Texas, more power to you. Just plan ahead, and be realistic with the expectations. And do some training too.

Just like with any other communication plan, have an answer to three questions: 1) what do I want to say; 2) who do I want to talk to; 3) what do I need from them/what can I do for them.

For example, we had (still have) a fairly detailed plan between me, wife and kids about what to do if major earthquake hits. Radio comms is a part of this plan, but not a major part. It is rather "nice if it works" sort of thing. Our house is on one side of the dangerous fault, while mine and wife's office on the other side of this fault and also a mountain ridge. I always maintained that I need 48 hours max to get back to the house in any circumstance. During this 48 hours, stay calm, save water, save batteries, and adhere to Radio-3-3-3. If I'm not there in 2 days, assume I never will be there, and act accordingly. Of course, there are more details, I do not want to bore you with. Like, for example, reserve frequencies and alternate time slots in case of interference or whatever. We did our regular training while we were camping, hiking, being around. Now kids are young adults and of course think that parents are super uncool, but trained skills will not disappear.

Couple of years ago, when some major fires were burning around our community in California, and we were sitting for a few days without electricity, cell service and internet, it was handy to use battery-powered laptop and battery-powered FT-817 and Winlink to maintain email exchange with my elderly parents, so they know that we are fine and have plenty of canned food, stoked on water and have a full tank in a car, should we need to dash out. The experience and equipment I have from the SOTA and other -OTA activation helped.

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I'll chime in and say I agree with Spaz, I truly believe amateur radio is better overall in an emergency. That being said, it does completely depend on what level of emergency you are talking about. There are a few notes that are pretty darn important:

1) Create a plan, or multiple plans for different scenarios. On-the-fly planning well not be sufficient when something goes sideways.

2) Vet your equipment. Just like any other equipment, you have to know how to use it, and use it effectively. Practice makes perfect.

3) Be active in your choice of communications. That could mean the neighborhood watch on FRS/GMRS, ARES, or just even the local ham group. You can bet that there is a 3000% better chance of your distress call being answered if they recognize your name/call than some random person coming out of the woodwork. You will also then know what is monitored by others frequently and where the activity is.

4) It is ok to separate your family communications plan from your external aid communications plan. 

5) Your equipment does you no good sitting on a shelf at home. You will likely be at work, or out somewhere away from home when it all falls apart. Then you will have to make due with what you have on you, in your car, or in a pack. Are you prepared for that?

6) Redundancy isn't necessary, but isn't a bad idea.

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@WRQI583 I'm curious what the demographic is there. Maybe they just don't care? Downing a bottle of whiskey and not doing a damn thing during the next zombie invasion, nuclear attack, or solar implosion is just as valid a plan as any. Arguably not the best, but I'm sure you get my point.

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