Author Topic: Welcome to the Communications Forum  (Read 17315 times)

GroundPounder

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Welcome to the Communications Forum
« on: November 09, 2008, 04:38:53 PM »
Welcome to the new Communications Forum.  This section is dedicated to the discussion of means of communication during an emergency scenario. For example, HAM Radios. CBs, Shortwave radios, scanners, etc.  It is also appropriate to discuss non-electronic forms of disaster communications as well.  

Juts a little on my background.  I have been a licensed amateur radio operator for over 20 years and have played with radios and scanners for even longer.  Professionally I do disaster communications including radio repeaters, radio programming, satellite voice and data systems, radio interoperability, computer networks, and cellular systems.  

I have a lot of experience in communications during disaster situations and I hope that I can use that knowledge to help our community.  I also hope to learn a lot from you all as well.

Lets make this one of the most successful boards on the site!

GroundPounder
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 09:06:55 PM by DeltaEchoVictor »

Offline Beetle

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2008, 07:00:40 PM »
Any way to combine the Comms. forum under emergency preperations with this?

GroundPounder

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2008, 07:58:39 PM »
Several of the moderators agreed that there was enough interest to break it out into its own forum.  If that proves otherwise we will combine it back.  In the mean time lets try to get things going.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2008, 08:58:56 PM »
I think Bailey is asking if we could bring the Comms. thread over to this board.  Correct?

I'll let GroundPounder decide if he wants to do that.
We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial.  What will be the consequences, I know not.
- John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1774
If tyranny & oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
- James Madison





Heavy G was right. All the threads back here do end up as gay porn.  :o
See...
Okay, just so it is noted, Doc is the one who started the gay porn on this thread.  ;D

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2008, 09:02:27 PM »
Ah, well if that is the case I just did that. 

Offline Beetle

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2008, 10:36:47 AM »
I think Bailey is asking if we could bring the Comms. thread over to this board.  Correct?

I'll let GroundPounder decide if he wants to do that.

Yep what Shane said... Weve got two or three threads going on ham stuff alone, bringing it all here would be the best solution...

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2008, 06:07:00 PM »
Communicatations? ;D

Just sayin' :D
We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial.  What will be the consequences, I know not.
- John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1774
If tyranny & oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
- James Madison





Heavy G was right. All the threads back here do end up as gay porn.  :o
See...
Okay, just so it is noted, Doc is the one who started the gay porn on this thread.  ;D

Offline susan1957

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2008, 08:46:20 PM »
I start a class to become a ham soon and was wondering what is non electronic forms of communication?  I had this picture of tin cans with a stirng between them.

GroundPounder

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2008, 01:26:29 PM »
One example would be the Hobo Code that is used by many homeless.  It is their form on communications.  If you ever find yourself in a bug out situation a few of these might prove helpful.

Here are some examples.


Offline Beetle

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2008, 08:42:48 PM »

Offline susan1957

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2008, 10:22:22 PM »
One example would be the Hobo Code that is used by many homeless.  It is their form on communications.  If you ever find yourself in a bug out situation a few of these might prove helpful.

Here are some examples.



I always wondered how they seemed to find our church on Sunday nights walking from the interstate.  Very interesting.  Where would they make these markings?  On the bridges?  In the event of an earthquake my sister lives about 29 miles from my home.  After taking the cert class I found that between our two homes is an area where they day liquidfactor would happen.  We are searching for a way to get a hold of each other in that event.  Any suggestions? 

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2008, 12:27:58 PM »
I would suspect you would find them on bridges, in front of houses, maybe even on some buildings.  Everyone should start looking out for these and post anything they find. Pictures would be good too.

Comm b/t people 29 miles away.....thats not an easy answer.  Are we talking from fixed locations or mobile?  A few things that come to mind:

1.  Two-way radios:  29 miles is a long way and not likely to work unless you have a tower with a good directional antenna.  You could consider getting your amateur radio license and putting something up.
2.  Satellite Phones: Probably the best and most reliable option but out of the price range of most people.
3.  Landline Telephone:  You would actually be surprised how resilient the phone system is.  It really takes a significant event to knock it off line.  Typically congestion is more of any issue than the phone system going offline.  Have an out of town contact you will each call.  Try different ways to call - direct, calling card, collect.  Also try payphones, especially the ones managed by the actual telcos.  They are mostly going away, but I have found them to be pretty reliable in actual disasters. 
4.  Cellular Phones: The cell phone companies have got a lot better at keeping their systems up in a disaster.  Most cell sites now have generators.  All the companys also now have COWs (Cellular on Wheels) or COLTS (Cellular on Light Trucks) that are mobile cell sites they will bring in following a disaster. Some carriers may work, some not.   Consider buying a few prepaid phones when you see them on clearance (I have seen them for less than $10 at Target) from carriers other than what your primary phone is.  Dont activate them, just keep them in your supplies until you need it.
5.  Internet:  Getting more reliable as well.  In Hurricane Katrina there were some places that lost power and phone but the Internet stayed up.  Having a Internet based phone option such as Skype is definately worth having.  Its free for most features and others can be added for a small cost on the fly. 
6.  Two-Way Pagers:  There is actually still a pretty good two-way paging network in place in this country.  Most will let you send email or text messages to people even without pagers.  Their towers frequently communicate via satellite rather than phone company lines.  As long as they keep power and their generators run it will probably work.
7.  US Mail: The US Government will want to do all it can to keep continuity of government.  Seeing your postman deliver mail is a symbol that the government is still operating.  It is considered part of national security and will have priority to get up and going again.  Not an immediate form of communications, but consider it is what we used before the Internet and phones!
7.  Message relay.  If you know someone is going to be headed in that direction ask them to take a note with them.  Have money or barter items to pay someone to deliver you messages and bring you one back.  Be sure to have a codeword or some other verification that the messages were actually delivered.
8.  Carrier Pigeon: OK, a little on the extreme side but it would work in many cases! They were used heavily in WW I for communications.  Might turn out to be a pretty fun hobby!


What it comes down to it takes having multiple options and knowing how to work them.  If you just depend on one option it will probably be the one that wont work.  If you have 5 options, hopefully one is going to work for you.

Offline Beetle

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2008, 02:01:38 PM »
I don't like Satellite phones as much as a two way radio. If you are in the open I guess they would work OK. Here in a mountainous region they are very hit or miss, also they do not penetrate foilage very well. We have to get very creative with relay's to get even two ways to work, but here they are way more reliable than our Sat. phones....

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2008, 02:47:07 PM »
Which sat phones are you using?

Offline Beetle

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2008, 09:58:10 PM »
Which sat phones are you using?
I believe they are Qualcomm's, but I'll have to check. 

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2008, 08:37:07 AM »
  Well there's your problem!


Qualcomm phones are used by the provider Globalstar.  They are currently experiencing severe problems with their satellites and have been for the last year or so.  I switched to Iridium and have MUCH better service.  Even in a thick canopy or around buildings I am usually able to make a call.  If your organization is still on Globalstar I would definitely be switching.  They will let you out of any contract due to the issues. 

Offline Tycoon

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2008, 09:15:23 AM »
Just picked up my Globalstar phone set-up with the Globalstar GSP-1600. Haven't set up service yet..Am I able to set up service with Iridium using a Globalstar phone?

-The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. - Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2008, 01:12:39 PM »
No, its too different networks based on two different technologies.  (Globalstar is based on CDMA, Iridium on GSM).

If it is not too late I would highly recommend you return it and get an Iridium. 

Offline Tycoon

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2008, 02:26:22 PM »
No, its too different networks based on two different technologies.  (Globalstar is based on CDMA, Iridium on GSM).

If it is not too late I would highly recommend you return it and get an Iridium. 

Yeah, I've already taken possesion. I'll have to see how it goes. If there is a major issue there WILL be a customer service call made. Thanks for the heads up.

Shoulda read this #%&*%! post a couple days earlier.  :'(
-The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. - Thomas Jefferson

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2008, 03:05:56 PM »
I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you.  I can promise you will not be happy with it.  There are a lot of companies and governments that purchased a lot of these that are now talking about lawsuits.  They are not reliable at all.  Globalstar's solution to the problem was the creation of an online tool that will tell you when you can use your phone in your location.  Not very useful in a disaster situation.  (Tool is at http://www.globalstarusa.com/en/optimum_tool/)

Based on the tool, here is when my phones would work at my location today.  The rest of the time it will not work.  There are gaps in there of an hour.  There are times where there is only a 10 minute window of opportunity to make a call. 

I would be calling them and telling them the service is unacceptable and you want to swap it out for an Iridium.

Nov 12, 2008 9:04:16 PM    Nov 12, 2008 9:39:36 PM
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GroundPounder

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2008, 03:10:16 PM »
By the way, doing a quick calculation on today's data the service is available 10.9 hours which is only 45.4% of the day.  Not acceptable IMO.  Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 

Offline Tycoon

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2008, 03:18:05 PM »
Yeah see what you mean. I plugged in my area and there are 40-60 minute intervals in some cases where I would be unable to make a call. This is not acceptable especially in a disaster scenario. Thanks for the help, I'm gonna go reconcile this.
-The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. - Thomas Jefferson

Offline Tycoon

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2008, 03:25:04 PM »
lol, At least you can give em' a A+ for customer service pull.
"But sir, we are launching several new satellites in 2009 and this issue will be rectified"

-The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. - Thomas Jefferson

GroundPounder

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Re: Welcome to the Communicatations Forum
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2008, 03:38:57 PM »
I am concerned that they will not last long enough financially to reach that point.  Keep in mind they plan to launch in the 'second half' of 2009.  It could likely be 2010 before they are fully operational.

Let us know what you end up doing.

Offline Master Guns

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Re: Welcome to the Communications Forum
« Reply #24 on: March 05, 2009, 02:53:51 PM »
GroundPounder is so correct.
Iridium will serve you well.

I too look to read about what your assessment is as time goes on.
 
Master Guns
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Offline gary4447

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Re: Welcome to the Communications Forum
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2009, 11:28:55 AM »
Just today Sunday 22 Mar 2009 on the Shooting Bench forum a post asking "what would you do "  in the event of a terrorist attack.  This post referenced an Israeli operative and his thought about the American state of unpreparedness in the event of another 9/11 level attack.

One thing that really popped out to me was, this guy stated that the US planned to shut down all cell/blackberry type communications in the event of a terrorist attack of US soil again.  Wonder would that include sat comm as well?

We should perhaps be thinking about some old school lower tech methods of communication.

Offline scoutmaster

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Re: Welcome to the Communications Forum
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2009, 11:55:59 AM »
  Fairly new here so hello to every one,

 I think it's A good Idea to keep the Ham radio and the regular/other types of communications separate. As you say it takes mult paths to do the job, for sure if you are not using ham radio. Been A ham for 40 years built a lot of repeater systems and do some low band work, We here in Michigan use mostly 80 and 160 meters to do our Emergency coms, Some of us have BOLs 60 to 180 miles apart and it works great. We use VHF for the local stuff.

All I can say about the other methods is Be careful some of them might not be there when you need them. But I am a bit partial to ham
SM 
Preparedness is not a hobby, it is a way of life.

 Take it seriously, It might be all that stands between you and survival. 

If not for you then for them, Is the well being of your family worth taking the chance.

Offline laser

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Re: Welcome to the Communications Forum
« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2009, 08:57:19 AM »
I was going to suggest ham as well.  I'm in a very hilly part of WI and 29 miles is no problem for me even without using a repeater on 2M band.  With a repeater half the state is available, but then thats the weakest link.  Although, not all emergancies are global.  The repeater I'm thinking of is far enough away that I'm sure its on a different power company than I am.  Even if this whole corner of the state looses power it probable that the repeater would be up.
laser
AB9MS
 

Offline Tycoon

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Re: Welcome to the Communications Forum
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2009, 11:31:19 AM »
So it's been roughly a year since I took possession of my Globalstar Phone. Less than satisfied with the talk time availability but it has served me well when I have used it, granted this hasn't been during an emergency scenario. Buddy has an Iridium so I have been able to see what major differences there might be first hand.

Pros:
-Voice output is clearer than Iridium. (not a major setback, especially in a disaster scenario imo)
-No contract required and low monthly rate. (Cheaper than buddy’s Iridium plan)   
-I haven't personally utilized this service and cannot attest to the validity but word is from several independent comparison study’s that
 the data download is apparently faster than the Iridium although both are supposed to have horrible download transfer rates.

Cons:    
-Talk time is ridiculous, not bad when you're out camping or out of cell range and just want to chitchat and can wait for
  available talk time but If your purchasing one for the sole purpose of immediate use when disaster may strike this is not the phone for you, although
  in any sort of large scale national disaster where services may be down chances are your sat phone won't work anyway that's when I would probably
  utilize my HAM. Some folks don't realize that Globalstar and Iridium sat phones use public telephone networks and if their down your screwed.
 

Pretty good comparison article.
http://www.landlinefree.com/Iridium-vs-Global-Star-Which-Sat-Phone-Is-Better
-The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. - Thomas Jefferson

Offline Kagetsu

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Re: Welcome to the Communications Forum
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2009, 10:16:49 AM »
I'm a General licensed ham. I've seen local "Authorities" and civilians trying to to believe cell phones or other "secure" proprietary comm systems would be there when they need them. I've seen them fail in both simple and emergency use. they are restricted to a single element. A satellite or tower link that is based on a "usual" use basis. They are easily overloaded.

Ham radio spans Low frequency to microwave and has a base of people that use it often enough to know which band can work.  and I'd still add FRS CB and Aviation frequencies to my overall system. Ahh, dreams. ;D