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 Ask me anything - Ham radio

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PostSubject: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:36 pm

I'd like to create a thread about ham radio skills. This is all USA-centric.

Most people picture hams as nerdy old guys in their basements in the 1960s. It seems like an obsolete technology in the face of the Internet.

I thought of ham radio that way - but when I got involved in the worldwide infosec community, I learned that many highly advanced incident responders have radio technician licenses.

Why? You can set up an antenna or radio station in/on your house, or you can use a portable one on your car or bike. You can use a radio to talk to the space station! You can link together ham radio networks to talk across the country. It's been used for underground communication in oppressed countries. You can use ham radio frequencies to get and send things on the Internet, even if your own ISP is down. (Yes, it's slow, but in an emergency, better than nothing.)

Radios don't use much power, so even if all your power is out, you can use a battery-powered radio or hook up a station to a generator. It's easy to put up and take down temporary ham antennas/networks. The
ham network is built by the people who use it, and it's distributed across the
country, so it would be very difficult to disable at any given point.

That's the appeal of ham radio for incident responders - especially in a VoIP world, if the national "water main" goes down, hams will be the biggest multi-user network with instant communication capability. As you may know, freedom and availability of information is my RLSH mission, so I'm on this like white on rice.

You need to be licensed to use a ham radio. It's an FCC violation to transmit without a license. There's a reason for this. The airwaves are a shared playground, and we all need to play nice. You risk mis-configuring an antenna if you don't know what you're doing, and it could interfere with other bands or even be dangerous. Fortunately, it's not too hard to get your license. You have to study for a while, find an exam schedule, and take it. There are several levels of licensing, and each one authorizes you to communicate on a range of bands. Normally, you go through the easiest exam first, and you can sit there and keep taking them until you fail one. Then you're licensed at whatever level you passed. The ham radio community is really nice and helpful. There are not many of us, and we welcome newcomers.

I've had my license for a few years now, but haven't done much beyond my little handheld radio. I do have a goal to set up a radio station and powered antenna in my home. I'm doing a volunteer run on a major bicycle race in my area and explained to them that I'm happy to help, but am hoping for a learning opportunity. They'll be setting up antennas and maintaining lines of communication throughout the race. I'll post an update later in the month based on what I've learned.

If you are a ham, PM me and I'll give you my call sign (not posting it publicly because it's trivial to trace back to my identity). If you have any questions about radio technician licensing or tech, let me know here.
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Idea Man

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Wed Jun 13, 2012 4:06 pm

Back when I first joined this forum, I was asking about Ham radios. I figured they would be useful in the event of a crisis. I don't remember anyone else being all that interested, though.
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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:42 pm

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E0N (Inactive)

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:44 pm

Are you on FB? I know some guys seriously interested in ham radios, but they're not on here.

_________________
- E0N
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Idea Man

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:43 am

toggle wrote:

It's a fairly uncommon interest. But a useful one, especially during natural disasters.



That's what I thought.
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Leviathan

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:44 am

Mmmm... Haaaammm..... pig

Seriously, the two words that you mentioned in the same sentence: Ham and internet. It got me to thinking.

Back in the good old days, there were dial-up modems (I'm remembering as far back as 9600 baud on this) would it be possible to do a similar analouge connection to send data over a ham signal, not just audio? I know fax machines still do this and the EAS and EBS do this for TV stations when they want to interrupt. But how viable would that kind of technology be with a ham/PC bridge?

To most if they heard that god awful sound, they would close their ears nowadays, especially kids who grew up with dsl and broadband internet, but it could seriously mean getting info like pictures and text like you couldn't do if most of the usual means were down (internet, telephone and tv)
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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:17 pm

I've never done it. You'd need to use a modem to interpret the WEEooWEEookkkkhhh noises. However, it is not appealing to hams, because of three restrictions on ham licenses:

1. Signal must be free to receive by anybody
2. Signals must be transmitted only between
licensed radio amateurs
3. No encryption or other privacy techniques
may be used

That means anything you send is completely non-private. In addition, ham bands are FCC-regulated on content, meaning no profanity, and they cannot include any advertisements. So good luck surfing the net Wink

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packet_radio

However, it is theoretically possible, and I'd be interested to explore it whenever I clone myself so I have more time.
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Superman

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:09 pm


While visiting at a ham radio operators house some time back I saw where he was using an old 8 bit commodore 64 to take in and decode packet radio signals. If you can do it with a relative antique like that it should be way easier with what’s available these days. Oddly enough I have two working portable SX64’s under 1 of my computer tables so I guess I’d be covered either way. The fun part would be finding some 5 inch floppies to fit in them. While on the subject of emergency communication what about CB radios? I was in a group called R.E.A.C.T. where we used them for the very things you are talking about. Last I looked it was way easier to set up a CB radio than a Ham radio CB’s being relatively unregulated by comparison. For emergency communication and response I’d suggest a combination of the 2 plus whatever else we could lay our hands on.

Superman
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Idea Man

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:13 pm

Good point, Superman. I think a CB radio would be a good addition to every concerned citizen's emergency supply kit.
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Superman

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:48 pm


I’ve used them for some time Idea Man and for covert RLSH operations they are perfect, as they can’t be easily tracked like cell phones can. CB’s don’t have any GPS BS. Even the cheap kiddy ones that are usually only good for 5 – blocks come in handy for team communication. After all if you are farther away than that from a team member in danger you aren’t going to be much good to them. For field use I rewire them a bit adding in ahead set for ease of use and relocating the transmit /receive button. These lead to our war wagon / mobile base that has a bigger unit that reaches the main base. Using bogus trucker ids we get lost in the crowd. Expanding further on the premise why don’t we set up our covert network now so it will be in place when needed. Might be something worth discussing at Saturday’s meeting if any show up for it. I can personally promise to use the resources I have at present to further it as it’s mostly already set up on a local level here anyway.

Superman
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Dreamscape

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:11 pm

How large can a CB network expand?
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Superman

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:46 pm

With repeaters set up at the right places nation wide. The average legal CB Base station can go at least a 150 miles in all directions last I checked.

Superman
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Dreamscape

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:04 pm

Well that's incredibly useful. It's definitely something worth looking into further. I'll study it when I get down to the library.
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Flora V. Arbor

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:40 pm

My foster father had them. He was way serious. I can dig it
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SkyMan

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:48 pm

Awesome idea about the Ham Radio... now I want one! lol
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Figment

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PostSubject: Re: Ask me anything - Ham radio   Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:44 am

Do not killme old thread re posting in it.
I am a Ham radio operator. let me get a few things out there.
You do not need to know code the test is easy.

Wifi Chanel 1 in in our band (I have mad conection with min at 1500 watts (un licensed you are limited to .5 watts) Full data transfer 25 miles.

Encryption is not a violation the rules (but the way you encrypt has to be a publicly know system or published You do not have to give the key out) (I read the rules for that many times then called the FCC to see if I was interpreting it right.

You can not use it to make money.  you have to send your call sine in the form of transmission or CW.

Now to let you know with Katrina the 1st out of area contact was with a Ham radio in a small town in UT (Granville)

One of the thing I do is work with the local EOC as a radio operator.  For communication ham radio will work when all other things fail.

Ham radio over internet you have D-Star and Echolink both will send from a HT to anywhere in the world using the internet.
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