In emergency situations where all communication infrastructure fails, ham radios can be the most reliable means of communication. In fact, ham radio operators have long been an integral part of disaster response and relief efforts. In this article, we will explore the benefits of ham radios in survival situations, the types of ham radios available, and how to get started with ham radio communication.
Why Ham Radios are Essential in Survival Situations
When a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado strikes, communication infrastructure like cell towers, power lines, and landlines can be severely damaged or destroyed. In such situations, ham radios can be the most reliable means of communication.
Ham radios, also known as amateur radios, are used by licensed operators to communicate with one another over the airwaves. Unlike commercial radios, ham radios can operate on a variety of frequencies, and their users can broadcast messages across long distances, even across the world.
One of the most significant benefits of ham radios is that they can operate on batteries, generators, or solar panels, making them highly adaptable to a range of survival situations. In addition, ham radios do not require any infrastructure or centralized authority, making them ideal for communication in situations where there is no access to communication networks.
Types of Ham Radios
There are several types of ham radios available, each with its own unique features and capabilities. Here are some of the most popular types of ham radios:
Handheld Radios: Handheld radios, also known as HTs, are small, portable ham radios that can be used to communicate on the go. They are lightweight and can be easily carried in a backpack or pocket, making them ideal for outdoor activities like camping or hiking. Handheld radios typically have a range of up to 5 miles, but this can vary depending on the terrain and other factors.
Base Station Radios: Base station radios are designed to be used in a fixed location, such as a home or office. They are more powerful than handheld radios and have a range of up to several miles or more, depending on the antenna and other factors. Base station radios are ideal for use in emergency situations, as they can be used to communicate with other ham radio operators in the local area.
Mobile Radios: Mobile radios are similar to base station radios but are designed to be used in a vehicle, such as a car or truck. They are more powerful than handheld radios and can have a range of up to several miles or more, depending on the antenna and other factors. Mobile radios are ideal for use in emergency situations where you need to communicate with other ham radio operators while on the move.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF HAM RADIOS
The occurrence of local emergencies or disasters is unpredictable. In such times, amateur radios prove to be essential tools, especially in exceptional situations. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of amateur radio.
HAM radios offer numerous benefits that are quite useful to possess.
Communication without Internet and Landlines To operate an amateur radio, all you need is a radio (also known as a transceiver), battery, and an appropriate antenna. The simple setup comes in handy during natural disasters, power outages, camping trips, or emergencies.
Several popular handheld amateur radios operate using rechargeable batteries and only require 5 to 8 watts to function.
You can carry a mobile or handheld amateur radio with you wherever you go, freeing you from the constraint of staying in one place.
Ease of Use
Though operating an amateur radio is a technical task, it is not too difficult to learn, especially with some training and studying.
Amateur radios are budget-friendly devices. You can find many functional amateur radios for less than £500. An entry-level handheld radio costs less than £100.
Despite the advantages, there are some downsides to using handheld amateur radios.
Limited to Amateur Radio Community
Users can only communicate with other users who own an amateur radio. It is impossible to communicate with people who don't have one.
Possible Signal Interruptions
Ham radio signals may be affected by terrain and weather conditions since they operate on radio frequency waves.
DO YOU REQUIRE A LICENCE TO USE AMATEUR RADIO?
While you do not need a licence to purchase an amateur radio, various regulatory bodies, such as Ofcom in the UK and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US, have regulations on amateur radio. If you only want to listen to the radio, you can monitor any frequency. However, transmitting messages without a licence is illegal, and you could face legal issues if you use an amateur radio to transmit without a licence.
Therefore, the answer to the question is yes, you require a licence, and in most cases, you need to pass an exam to obtain a licence to operate an amateur radio. As a prepper, it is advisable to get a licence, not only because it is a legal requirement but also because it improves your communication skills.