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Radio Lowdown on the Down Low.

Stealth Radio 101

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This is going to be a multipart Blog on making your SHTF radio station as unobtrusive and efficient as possible.

Primary Goal:
Because people with perceived knowledge/stuff will be targets, we want to keep our stations hidden, while still maintaining as strong and efficient a signal as possible.

I am a licensed amateur radio operator. This information is primarily for other licensed operators who have an interest in communications in a post-calamity environment. It is my intention to provide knowledge that you can use today optimize for your particular situation before calamity happens. The information I provide is also useful for radio operations in a non-radio antenna friendly environment, ie, communities with deeds, and CCR's, and other affrontries to freedom. Some of the concepts I will give may work in your BOB, GMHB, INCH or whatever portable/mobile setup you have, but it is primarily for your shelter/home/BOL station.

UNLICENSED OPERATORS ATTEMPTING TO USE THIS KNOWLEDGE BEFORE AN EMERGENCY MAY BE PROSECUTED AS ALLOWED BY LAW. I am willing to help those interested in obtaining an amateur license, pm me for further information.

now that that is out of the way, here's what I plan on covering:
Part 1: Assembling a 'Stealth Radio Station'
Part 2: Suboptimal Antennas that Will Work
Part 3: Local Comms: VHF/UHF
Part 4: Local Comms: NVIS
Part 5: General Comm Considerations.

Part 1: Assembling a 'Stealth Radio Station'

There's a lot of things to consider before you are ready to get what you need to assemble your station. A station consists of the antenna, feedline, matching network (if needed), radio, radio interface, powersupply, and whatever other items you need in order to insure you can communicate effectively. Some parts of the station might be hidden outside the house/shelter other parts could be hidden inside the house/shelter. Here's a few of the things I consider before and during my station assembly process:

Will I be operating my station from hiding, or can it be out in the open?
If I am hiding my antennas from plain/casual view, it may be imporant to me to also be able to hide the other parts of my station too. Usually, it's important for me personally to keep my radio gear portable, my main station fits inside a pelican case for easy transport. It's also easy to hide the case. This can create operational challenges for me though, so I have to be able to break down, move, set up my station fairly quickly. It takes practice!

How will this station affect my Post-SHTF power budget?
The world has gravitated toward 12 volt direct current systems. I don't understand why, but thems the facts. Most modern amateur radio gear will work off some form of 12 volts, but all radios are power hogs. Some are notably worse than others. Consider older vacuum tube style radios. They not only chewed a bunch of current up, but they require several different voltages, sometimes even mixing AC and DC from the same power supply! I know everyone wants tube gear because "OMG, It's EMP proof!" but here's the facts: Operating 'tube gear is a challenge, and unless you know what you are doing now, you won't know what you are doing in the PAW.

When can I erect atennas?
This guy: http://www.antennalaunchers.com/antlaunching.html is going to have a problem trying to trow an antenna up in a gated community. Sometimes, your best bet is to wait until a full moon.

So there's the start! Next time, we will consider some suboptimal antennas that work, especially if stealth/secrecy is your number one concern.