Short Range, Two-Way Communications

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    I had mentioned the things Husband was putting in the faraday cage and someone asked me what brand ham radio receiver he bought and why. In so doing, I explained to Husband that we lost a lot of our knowledge on the forums when we did the big changeover. So he wrote a small article on communications to help rebuild the forum. If you have questions, feel free to post and I’ll ask him for answers. 🙂 This is just one person’s opinion on how to optimize what one can afford. If you have better solutions, feel free to write an article, we’d love to see it. Below is his assessment for our situation. Hope it helps.


    During a period of prolonged electrical outage, the ability to maintain communications utilizing limited power options is essential.
    Even if one has the luxury of a generator, the unit’s usefulness will only last as long as the remaining fuel supply allows. A better ‘long-term’ power solution is a solar system. These range from exceptionally sophisticated to simple, portable options. Due to my budget restrictions, I’ve selected a solar system capable of recharging AA and AAA ‘rechargeable batteries’. While some manufacturers allow for their standard NiMH battery packs to be recharged by a USB connection, the radio must be inserted into the base station during lengthy recharging. This means the radio is not available for usage during this time period. As a result, I believe it is desirable that your communications devices have the option of being powered by AA or AAA batteries rather than being solely dependent upon a recharging station.
    I receive no funding or endorsement from any of the referenced companies. I am only a communications novice, but the following is a summary of the information I gathered during my recent search for a suitable radio. I hope this will help you in your search. I have intentionally kept the topic simple by avoiding more advanced subjects such as the use of repeaters, HAM operations, advantages / disadvantages of FRS over GMRS, etc. But I would like to add that I highly recommend purchasing units with GMRS capability The GMRS license requires a modest fee but no test.
    Please note that all of the following radios have frequency restrictions and varying federal licensing requirements. There are excellent YouTube videos that describe this in detail.
    Following were the final candidates in my search (least to most expensive):
    (I) LEAST EXPENSIVE, EASY TO OPERATE, AND USES AA OR AAA BATTERIES: Wal-Mart provides a nice selection of entry level radios. They are of lesser quality, but reasonable priced. Ensure that they have the option for either AA or AAA batteries. This option allows you to have communications capability now with the option to upgrade at a future date.
    (II) MODERATE COST, HIGHER QUALITY, EASY TO OPERATE, AND USES AA BATTERIES: Midland GXT 1000VP4 FRS/GMRS. $65 or two or $100 for three. Has option to use four standard AAA batteries.
    (III) HIGHLY FAVORED BY PREPPERS. GREATER FUNCTIONALITY (INCLUDING HAM) BUT THEREFORE HAS GREATER COMPLEXITY Recommended components include: (a) Baofeng UV-5R Dual Band Ham $25 each, (b) Nagoya NA-717 Flexible Whip Antenna 8 inch $16 each, (c) AAA Battery Pack – mandatory for survival situations. $15 each, (d) programming cable $8, and (e) USB Power Cable $6. Approximately $70 each. This is NOT a pickup-and-use radio but requires study, practice, and licenses. That said, it is an outstanding radio for the price.
    (IV) IF YOU HAVE DEEP POCKETS: Motorola Talkabout MT352R FRS/GMRS 3 AA batteries last 15 hours. Mini-USB compatable. $260 a pair. Motorola also has several similar Talkabout models.
    If your budget allows, I would recommend the purchase of four units (i.e. two sets). Two units (i.e. one set) to be placed within a faraday cage for protection against an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), and another two units available for periodical practicing. Especially the Baofeng UV-5R units require repeated training and practice.
    By the way, after a great deal of anguish and comparisons, I selected the Baofeng UV-5R due to its additional capabilities at a reasonable price. But instead, if you desire a less complex solution, the Midland GXT 1000VP4 FRS/GMRS is a excellent alternative.
    There are many other options available. If you have a favorite, that has the option to use either AA or AAA batteries, please mention in the comments section.
    During an emergency, the correct selection of your communications gear is essential.

    Illini Warrior

    like to add something that very rarely gets gets added into the Faraday cage discussion ….

    whether a nuke situation or solar flare – it won’t be a single initial burst – it will be a series of bursts – some of the latter being even more powerful than the initial ….

    everything you have stored in your Faraday cage will have to be used on a “use and scoot” basis – determine time & date of intel broadcasting and pre-arranged radio communications with other surviving units …

    with that line of thinking >>>> your Faraday cage needs to be of design & construction for rapid access & closure on a continual basis – keep this in mind when establishing your stockpile ….


    All my faraday cages are galvanized metal trash cans lined with cardboard, so it’s easy to pop the top, grab what I need and close it fast….

    And my plan is to only grab one radio (receive only) to start and if a second blast happens then I’ll stick with non-electric survival supplies for a week before I grab the next single radio out. I figure that after the initial pulse another one will happen in 24-72 hours to fry whatever folks have put back into use. If more events happen after that then we’re in deep trouble, but I have a lot of depth in my cages so I can do that for quite a while before I’m out of electronics…


    dmwalsh568 – we have the same setup. Metal galvanized trashcans, lined with cardboard. All the items are wrapped with aluminum foil, too (and labeled). We won’t take everything out at once, either.


    whether a nuke situation or solar flare – it won’t be a single initial burst – it will be a series of bursts – some of the latter being even more powerful than the initial ….

    I agree with this, but not for the reasons most people think. We aren’t the targets (of course, in a CME, there are no targets), so much, as collateral damage in a clash of civilizations. If some rogue launches, they will probably try to keep hitting us until our nukes take them out. In a similar way, if it is Russia they won’t want to make the entire planet uninhabitable, so they will try to make the initial attack bad enough that the U.S. can’t mount an equal counterattack, and they will do it fast.

    Either way, my sources with the guys in [former war planners] advised me that between the multiple blasts and the “ringing” of Earths magnetic field (think about the sound that comes off a bell after it is struck) it would be best to leave equipment in protective containers for 36 or so hours.

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