Does Anyone Know Ham Radio Range?

Discussion in 'Other Advanced Survival Skills' started by branchd77, Oct 30, 2016.

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  1. branchd77

    branchd77 Administrator Staff Member Gold Supporter
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    I was thinking about getting a ham radio and learning how to use it in case of an emergency. Does anyone know the range of one or if it would even be a good idea to have in case of an emergency or end of the world type scenario?
     
  2. Tom Williams

    Tom Williams Moderator Staff Member
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    A good ham radio with good attenna can travel across oceans to most any place in the world. Mines a old kirckwood. I talk to people around the globe easy
     
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  3. Thanez

    Thanez Member
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    Most hand held models can reach any where between 5-15 miles and min of 2 in bad terrain. If you hit a relay all over the world. Baufeng makes cheap reliable hand held models. I know mine reach to 10 miles for sure in low elevation changes.
     
  4. Edprof

    Edprof Expert Member
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    Ham is two different sets of things. VHF and UHF make one category, and without unusual ionosphere conditions, I count on about a 75 mile radius, using the repeater system. This is the kind of equipment you would associate with the Technician's License, though no one says that you couldn't spend more money to get a High Frequency radio and mostly just listen to it.

    The next level of licensure is the General License, which is what I have. The General License let's you transmit on most of the High Frequency bands. This gives you a worldwide reach for both sending and receiving.

    There is a third level of amateur license, the Amateur Extra license. From the outside looking in, this looks to me like the level of expertise needed for someone who will be designing quite a few radio systems, probably for other people. The Amateur license conveys privileges for the remaining few frequencies not granted with the General.

    If you look at the "shack" of a General vs an Extra, there may not be a lot of difference.
     
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  5. Michael TQS

    Michael TQS Member
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    Ive been a ham licensed operator for a few years and into prepping my whole life

    Im an Extra if that matters to you, but in my classes I tell people the only difference between myself and them is I never have to take a license test again.

    Saying that before you buy any type of radio and throw your money away get educated first

    Ham Radio for Dummies is a book Ive given away many times, and you can find the PDF online for free if you look for it. I highly recommend it for people who don't know a thing but are willing to learn.

    Radio is like a menu at the Chinese restaurant. You pick what you want, and ignore the rest once you are licensed. Not laws and regs mind you, but the different modes and freqs you have available
     
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  6. GS AutoTech

    GS AutoTech Expert Member
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    I'm interested. I've heard there is new tech that allows even computer communication over the air waves. Is that true? Either way, if SHTF communication / receiving information could be very helpful in surviving.
     
  7. Tumbleweed

    Tumbleweed Active Member
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    My son has had a ham license for a number of years now, and he also helps with the local search and rescue group from where he lives in Idaho. I would like to have a ham radio; but when I looked at the information that you have to learn to be licensed, I was having a hard time understanding all of the technical stuff.
    We always had CB radios, and some of the better quality radios that have sideband can reach quite a ways, especially when skip is good. it was interesting to just listen and see what we could pick up on the CB late at night. With one of the shortwave bands radio, you can listen to the radio talk, even though you can't communicate with it, and I think that just this might be important, although no where nearly as good as actually having the 2-way radio and being able to talk as well as listen.
    You can hear airline and also military channels with the shortwave band radios, so this might be a good way to get important information in times of emergency.
    Mine is one that can be charged by hand cranking it as well as electric/battery operated; so even when we have no power, I can still use it.
     
  8. GS AutoTech

    GS AutoTech Expert Member
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    You can purchase 2 way equipment & just listen, correct? And need a license to transmit. If SHTF, I don't think FCC will be chasing you down. Lol.
     
  9. Tumbleweed

    Tumbleweed Active Member
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    When we had the CB's, we had somethat were called "amateur band" or something similar to that. (This was a long time ago, folks). These radios went above and below what the normal CB channels go, and their range was a whole lot further, as well. Since these channels were not as crowded as the regular CB bands, it was also a lot easier to transmit and receive without interference. We talked at least 30 miles fairly regularly, and when skip was good, of course, you could pick up all kinds of transmissions from a long ways away.
    I agree that if we were in a SHTF situation, no one would be monitoring what people were doing on the radios, or whether we had a license or not.
    We also have a little gadget that my daughter got for us that is called a "Go-tenna" and it is supposed to work with a cell phone if the cell towers are out of range, or not functional for some reason. We have never had to use it; but she said that it is also good for someone out camping or hiking in the mountains, and they have no cellphone reception.
     
  10. GS AutoTech

    GS AutoTech Expert Member
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    Interesting in the cell phone antenna. I inow the mibile phones are capable of more independent comms. But the cell companies don't market "independent " uses cause they can't charge for it. Cell phones can receive FM radio. So I suspect they could also Xmitt just like a CB. For short ranges.
     
  11. Tumbleweed

    Tumbleweed Active Member
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    Here is a true story about something that happened to me. It was years ago, we lived in a little rental house, and I was sitting in the back room, and playing the Thomas organ and singing along to the music. Suddenly, the organ stopped playing music, and it began "talking" to me, albeit the words were sort of garbled.
    I was totally shocked, and could not but think that something was "possessing" my organ, and I had no clue what or how this could happen. After I listened to it for a while, I realized that it sounded like CB talk. Our neighbor had a CB radio and he spent some of his evenings talking on the CB, and somehow, my organ was picking up his transmissions and broadcasting it through the speakers on the organ.
    Another time, we had driven out to a friend's house, and as we pulled up into the driveway, we hailed him on the CB to see if they were at home. As we were transmitting, the garage door opened up, and we thought that our friend had opened it.
    However, it turned out that no one was home, and the CB had somehow transmitted on the same frequency as the garage door opener and opened the door. Sadly, it would not close it again, and we ended up having to leave it open until they returned back home.
    When I lived up near Mt. St. Helens, the military was always doing secret training missions in the area around there, and we often picked up on their transmissions even though I am sure that they would not have been transmitting on the regular CB channels, and one time, it even was transmitting when we had the CB turned off.
    Who knows how and why things can transmit when they should not be able to do this.
     
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  12. GS AutoTech

    GS AutoTech Expert Member
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    Radio waves are just one a form of radiation. A concept the human race has only grasped for a Very short time thru our existence. :)
     
  13. omegaman

    omegaman Well-Known Member
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    The thing about getting the licence for me atleast is that it's a good education in radio tech and communication that will be an asset no matter who you are. You will have an understanding in antennas and some knowledge on the broad concept before SHTF.

    Edit: Forgot the meat and potatoes :D RANGE! All ranges, depending on conditions and equipment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2017
  14. watcherchris

    watcherchris Member
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    Ham radio range depends on the frequency you are using and the power. Antenna efficiency works and affects this as well.

    In short you are talking about an entire system here.

    I keep with me in my daily BOB one of those Baofeng 8 watt walkie talkies for which I have learned to program myself..manually ...no computer. I believe in manual override when I can do it.

    The Rubber duckie antennas from the factory on most walkie talkies are marginal at best. You can get better antennas for some walkie talkies but not all of them.
    I use three different techniques for making my walkie talkie get out better and with more range.

    I use a more efficient antenna. Sometimes I hook up my Baofeng walkie talkie via a antenna adapater to a magnetic mount antenna on the roof of my car or van or truck for extra range. I can also hook up my walkie talkies to my base station antenna at home...but already have radios with more power output at home.

    I go for altitude. I go to a roof of a building/altitude. This building at work is some 85 feet up in the air.

    I put a body of water between me and the party to whom I want to talk. Water will carry signals a longer distance with fewer signal losses. If you can get both altitude and water...better yet.


    I am currently listening to my Icom 706 Mk II radio hooked up to some 50o feet of 12 gauge black insulated wire from Lowes. This is my HF Antenna and I can also tune it on the CB bands and go there to say hello to people I know on those bands. This antenna I can tune from just above the AM broadcasting band ...to the 50 MHZ band...on this Icom radio.

    For UHF/VHF I use a home made J pole antenna about 60 feet up in a tree...made on these plans at this link.

    http://rberger.com/radio/Dual_band_J-Pole/J-Pole_construction_plans_for_the_model.htm

    My antenna is the one on the right with three elements instead of just two elements.

    I was making my own antennas when I was on the CB bands ..but the ham elmers helped me to refine it and take these skills further for the ham bands.

    I keep a Baofeng walkie talkie with me daily because they are inexpensive and work well for the price. I can afford to lose one and or damage one and not be out a lot of monies. I also keep a short wave set which tunes in aircraft and also Single Side Band transmissions as well as the am/fm bands.
    I keep spare AA batteries on hand for my short wave set and mag lite as well as spare batteries for my Baofeng walkie talkie. If you operate out in the field much you learn that spare batteries are necessary. I do the same with my cell phone ..I keep two spare batteries on me at all times for my phone. I do not want to be running around like a headless chicken looking for wall electricity jack. Also...I will not purchase a phone for which I cannot change or remove the battery at my discretion. I want options in my gear...not tied to a companies whims.

    Nonetheless there are things you can do to make your set up get out further if you know how to do it.

    Knowing and or finding someone who knows is the key.;

    I am on the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia as I type this out and hear my friend out in Tennessee talking on one of the nets.
    I will be joining him when I get this posted and we will talk for about 30 or 45 minutes and catch up on the latest.
    We have a handful of long wave frequencies where we like to meet and then go to the Extra portion of the band to get away from a lot of the radio traffic. It is much quieter there.

    He just retired and moved out to near Johnson City, Tennessee a distance of some 400 miles. We have made the trip with as low as 5 watts but the copy was very weak. We do ok most nights at some 75 watts but have had to go up to some 250 watts during the summer when the static/noise levels were much higher.

    The trick is to make the connection with as little power as you can. Were I in my truck I would be putting a body of water between him and me...the river to the west of me about five miles down the road.


    Hope this helps some of you to sort out a lot of the confusion.

    WatcherChris.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017
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  15. GS AutoTech

    GS AutoTech Expert Member
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    Very good info. I also live on Delmarva.
     
  16. watcherchris

    watcherchris Member
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    ahhhh..ok...I am just outside of Langley AFB in Hampton.

    Thanks,
    Watcherchris
     
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