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To have food and water stored in the event of an emergency is smart, but what about communications?  If you are without power, how will you be able to stay connected with the outside world and get news about what’s happening?  Having an emergency radio on hand with the rest of your survival supplies is the smart choice.  They’re available in a wide variety of styles and can be cranked by hand, or solar powered, or both. Even in the relatively benign event of just being without electricity due to a power outage, a radio you can charge manually or with the sun’s light can be of great advantage if you want to listen to something other than silence. This entry was posted in Disaster Preparedness, Emergency, Survival and tagged crank radio, emergency preparedness, emergency radio, end of the world, radio, solar radio, survival supplies, zombie apocalypse by admin. I bit the lure – hook, line, and sinker.  I checked out the goTenna Facebook page, then migrated to their website. The goTenna is a small (5.8 inches long, 1 inch wide, ? inch thick with the antenna collapsed) plastic and aluminum device with a built-in nylon strap that sports a loop and a snap button for securing a goTenna to, well, anything that will fit inside the loop. The goTenna is water-resistant and “weatherproof”, meaning it can be latched on your pack during a rainstorm. There is also an “Emergency” chat option, but when selected, you are directed via text in a bright red box to keep chats in this option dedicated to true emergencies.  It broadcasts an emergency message to anyone with a goTenna who is within range. The first opportunity I had to use the goTenna was on an ice fishing trip up in Northern Maine, on the shores of Maine’s largest body of water, Moosehead Lake. Next, I coerced a 60-year-old coworker to download the goTenna app on his Samsung Galaxy S4.  We work in a 300,000 square foot manufacturing facility, with concrete walls, steel columns, metal racks filled with aluminum extrusions, large CNC machines running, plus a huge electronic computer server room and 60 or so computers, and 80+ cellphones operating at any given time.
The next major test I ran was with my teenage son.  I had him load the app on his iPhone 6S, and he plunked the antenna next to him. I continued to drive around, again stopping at points that I could find on Google Earth to measure distances from. If you have a question, comment, there’s a problem with the site, or you just want to say Hi, Send Us an Email. Subscribe to the FREE Survival Cache Newsletter and we'll send you a monthly email with new gear reviews, site news, survival tips, and more.
Short-term emergencies have shown the limitations of using cell phones to coordinate with each other. Cell phone communication has a lot of vulnerabilities that make it a poor solution for widespread or long-term emergencies. Heavy winds or flooding can disrupt the cables between towers such as during Hurricane Sandy. Cell towers require AC power to operate so if they don’t have an automatic backup system, they stop. Cell phones require satellites, which are vulnerable to hackers, physical attack, or solar storms.
Now don’t get me wrong, for day-to-day emergencies, such as getting a flat tire, a cell phone usually works pretty well.
A lot of people grew up watching BJ and the Bear and they remember seeing all the truckers talking over the air with each other. One of the big reasons your range is very limited with CB vs other systems is that they’re limited to 5 watts input which is about 4 watt out.
You might think that you could just hack into your ham radio and pump out more power, but the FCC goes after people who do that (just a few examples). Another big problem is that just like cell phones, they rely on the satellites to function so if the satellites stop working, then so do the satellite phones.
If you have a true GMRS radio, you may be able to tap into a repeater, which will expand your range to possibly hundreds of miles, but the repeater obviously has to be running, and you have to be within range of the repeater for your radio to hit it. Basically, if you’re considering one of these radio systems for emergency use, go with a true GMRS radio and get the license.
Ham radio is the go-to communication system for pretty much every emergency response system and is what MARS (the Military Auxiliary Radio System) and ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) both use, as well as many search and rescue and other emergency groups. One of the nice things is that a lot of ham radios can reach the national weather system (NOAA) frequencies. Here is a list of emergency radio frequencies that you should keep in mind when both looking for radios and coming up with your emergency communications plan. Here is a large list of different frequencies that you could use to put together a list of channels to follow during an emergency or other times.
Ham radio operation requires a license, but as you can see in this article, they’re easy to get. A big part of getting your signal out and hearing others is the antenna so if you get a handheld, I’d suggest upgrading the antenna like I mentioned above.
There are a lot of repeaters around the world that can help you transmit long distances with just a little radio.
There are even repeaters that use the internet so if you tap into a repeater and type in the address of a remote repeater in another country, what you say on your little radio will blast out to that point on the other side of the world.
There are several books such as Low Profile Amateur Radio: Operating a Ham Station from Almost Anywhere that can show you how to do these (which is a great book, by the way but good luck finding a copy of it). With the proper knowledge (which you can pretty much only get with practice), you can make a radio out of stuff you can find pretty much anywhere that will transmit on frequencies that you can reach other people.
Obviously, the more experience you have with radios, the easier it’ll be for you to do something like this. If you want to get started learning about ham radio as an effective emergency communications system for you or your family, check out the Prepared Ham Forum. If you don’t have a ham radio license yet (or actually, even if you do), you should look at getting an emergency shortwave radio so you can listen into weather bulletins etc.
So, there are many different ways to communicate during a disaster situation or if society collapses but for the most flexible and effective way, you should seriously look into getting your ham radio license and start playing with it. Either way, make sure whatever you do that you come up with an emergency communications plan beforehand. My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap. I hope you’ll consider posting an article on the integration of your Yaesu FT-857d into your BOV.
Might also consider a rockmite tiny transceiver, can fit min an altoids can (without options). Great article, Amateur Radio is something I have been thinking about getting a licence for, and really interested in that book, Low Profile Amateur Radio: Operating a Ham Station from Almost Anywhere, it sounds like it could be just the thing for the area I live in. I would just like to add that I would not recommend Baofeng radios due to their quality control issues. Hate male coming your way Hate male coming your way (Craig Ferguson Reference) Seriously though, The time of ripping the parts out of the HUGE tv console and building a transmitter are long gone (Ive done it many times in my youth). I’m curious to know if you can make SatPhone to SatPhone calls if SHTF and power was down across a huge area, say the entire east or west coast. Satphones would still work unless something from the ground causes them to shut down like a command signal. Food and Water: The food and water in this kit will comfortably provide you with adequate nutrition for 24-hours without access to additional supplies.
Light and Communications: In the event of a power outage caused by disaster you’ll have independent access to your own means of lighting and communication with the outside world.

Hygiene and Sanitation: When in a disaster situation it is useful to have access to hygiene products. First Aid: These first aid items can assist with minor injuries and protect against serious health concerns in disaster circumstances. Other: These items are useful for stress relief and activity in strenuous or challenging circumstances. They had a hand cranked generator for power and included an automatic SOS sender with an option to manually key Morse Code messages.
There is one for sale on Ebay for $250 that appears to have most of the accessory items.
They were still training people on these things at the Naval Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola as late as 1980. Advertising Press on Your Side Creating a BIG Promotion Tutorial Unique Ideas Promotion Articles Online Tools This is our article database. The goTenna looked like a promising new-fangled device, and soon I had a pair of them winging my way for a review.
An antenna pulls out from the top, activating the goTenna and telling it to start communicating with its paired smartphone via Bluetooth. The message will show a little moving icon while the goTennna sends the message.  If the message was sent to the recipient successfully, a little green check mark appears in the corner of your message.
The website promises updates in the future – and I’ll admit that there is a lot of promise for added functionality for this neat little communications gadget. Most of us operate somewhere in the middle of these extremes, so I decided to try the goTenna out in a variety of situations to see how it worked.  I loaded the app on my LG G4 phone and went to work. We only gave the goTenna a run a couple times, but across clear ice, we were able to send messages across a couple miles of open, clear air across a frozen lake, with a small island between us. I had him stay in his office, which was conveniently located near a corner of the building.
I then hopped in my pickup and drove around our hilly suburban village home area, pulling into different areas to message him.  I had pretty good success closer to the house, out to a Google Maps-measured 1,567 feet. If you found yourself in the middle of a wide-scale disaster such as a hurricane or other catastrophe and you had no government coming to help for a while, how would you communicate with your family or others?
Keep in mind that a lot of towers are just glorified antennas on the tops of buildings or mountains and backup power, such as an emergency generator, is a very short-term solution.
Your cell phone connects to it via Bluetooth and an app, and the signal is sent and received through an encrypted radio signal. CB radio is definitely more available during an emergency but they have a lot of limitations. In non-emergency life, you have to be concerned that the FCC will go after you if you transmit on a frequency that you’re not allowed to operate. These people are typically in tune with dealing with emergencies or working with communicating with people in different scenarios.
An inexpensive Baofeng UV-5R handheld that I keep on my Harley, a great Yaesu VX-6R waterproof handheld with an upgraded antenna that I keep in my bug out bag, and a portable Yaesu FT-857d radio that I can run off a 12v battery. Keep in mind also that if you get a Baofeng that their antenna connections are different so you’ll need an adapter in some cases. Basically, a repeater will listen to the little radios in its immediate surroundings and then blast the signal out for hundreds, or thousands, of miles.
Antennas can be made out of flagpoles, ladders, fences, railings, and a lot of other things in plain sight. Not only is this useful to hide your antennas, it could seriously come in handy if you had to make an antenna in an emergency. There are several groups that use ham radio for dealing with disasters or for search and rescue. The cool thing is that it doesn’t require a power source and is made from simple parts like a pencil and razor blade. The good thing is that they transmit over a HUGE frequency range so pretty much anyone nearby is gonna hear it.
You also have to learn Morse code or create your own in order to have anyone have any idea what you’re trying to say. The Safe-T-Proof radio is a great little one to have because you can charge it with a hand crank or the solar panel, it has a flashlight and a cell phone charger outlet on it too. It’s a great hobby and one that could be the difference between finding your family in an emergency or losing them. I drive an 06 TJ (Wrangler) for ONE of the vehicles ( and THREE grand Cherokees for the other drivers as the trailer is too big for the TJ) yeah we have a large crew to transport. Last year several officers (including me) were called up by my department to go to Moore, Ok. In the event of a disaster, we have one person everyone checks in with, and they keep a tab on who is ok and who they haven’t heard from. I own three of these radios and each one has a QC issue that makes them not dependable for an emergency situation.
I’ve used it in the field every few weeks for the past 6 months, it has held up great.
The three Amateur licenses are: Technician, General, *Extra* (vice Technician, General and *Amateur*).
Just so no one sends me any "hate" comments for adding my insights… I LOVE this site and think there is a LOT of GREAT info here!
Thanks B24, I sometimes write these on my iphone or ipad so I miss stupid details like that so what I mean to say and what I end up typing sometimes don’t always match. As long as the satellites themselves are still functioning, which is a big assumption, I know… SatPhone to SatPhone calls should be fine?
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Pushing the antenna back into the goTenna deactivates the device with a satisfying “click”.
I would imagine the location services are effected by standard GPS impediments: cloud cover, buildings, line of sight to satellites, etc. If you’re constantly using it to have extensive message exchanges, it can shorten, depending on usage.
As of right now, the short list of basic action items the goTenna accomplishes means that the goTenna is very, very simple to use and still pretty effective at what it does.
Message exchanges were quick and easy, (even considering our advanced state of inebriation – a requirement in Maine ice fishing) so I imagine that we could have stretched the range further if we desired.
I then walked around the entire facility, stopping to message at key points neat equipment, material, or other possible reception intrusions. This is a pretty long article that goes into some good detail, but if you want the short answer, this is what you need.

A quick look at some of the things that went on during Hurricane Sandy in NY will show that the government has a lot to deal with in addition to just trying to get your cell phone service back up so even though that was a pretty short-term event, it caused a lot of problems. They’ll be pretty useless if the national grid goes down due to a cyber attack, EMP or CME, which is actually a lot more likely than you might think.
For you to be ready for a SHTF scenario, you need to have the equipment and practice with it in order to make sure you’ll be able to get through. This can be pretty complicated so it’s best to get a good book on antennas and propagation, and work with more experienced people to help you get going.
Because of the range ham radios can get, it’s a LOT easier to get a hold of someone during an emergency. Obviously the repeaters need to be functioning to do this but people who have repeaters are usually up on emergency communication and will have backup power systems. The two biggest are Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).
Suffice it to say that with all the wires and old electronics laying around, making a simple radio receiver is pretty simple. But, being new to amateur radio, I need some tips on what to look for in a mobile radio, antenna, antenna tuner, and any other considerations. Anyway the main body is under the seat, the mic connector is dash mounted via a simple plastic clip I made to hold the connector, the control panel is mounted on the dash dead center above the stereo and an external speaker with housing is mounted to the windshield pointed into the vehicle so it can be heard even when the roof is off the jeep. Get in touch with your local ARRL member club for licensing, training and just plain old help. We also have a backup person in the event that a disaster strikes the primary person’s area. I see too many reviews where people like the radio based solely on the price alone and ignore all the other factors that make these radios a poor choice. Your comment is VERY valid, and I would personally like to hear from more people on this, in specific, WHEN they purchased their radio, any dates marked on it, and nay issues if any, other than the programming.
In an incident a couple of years ago the DC region experienced a large area outage of the ground phone system. Just pull him over the side of the raft.Another Vet I spoke to told of taking turns cranking the Gibson Girl for a couple days. A Gibson Girl with all the accessories can be one of those years-long quests just like filling out a C-1 survival vest. It has an indicator light on the outside of the casing, which is used via different flashing patterns to communicate if the goTenna has paired, if it’s searching, once a message has been received, etc.
The goTenna has been engineered to be very durable – I’ve dropped mine onto my tile floor multiple times from waist height with zero ill effects. If a communications schedule is maintained between users, keeping the goTenna off between scheduled message times, you can keep a goTenna with a charge for quite some time – days. The goTenna worked flawlessly throughout the entire building even though walls, which impressed me. In a lot of cases, the only backup power available is a bank of batteries that stop charging when the main power system stops. As such, even though they’re an improvement, they have a lot of the same limitation on power and range. The lower license will get you started but you really need the higher licenses if you want to communicate around the world.
These people are also extremely resourceful so even if they don’t have a working radio (such as after an EMP pulse), they can make one.
I can very easily pull everything and put it back as a single box type radio and move it to one of the other vehicles easily.
Not to mention programming a Baofeng is a real pain unless you use CHIRP software which is free and easy to use.
The transmitter itself was the BC-778, while the complete set including bag, radio, accessories was the SCR-578. After they were rescued, they discovered the thing wasn't working and all those hours of physical effort had been in vain. Underneath a small dust proof door, there’s the expected micro-USB port on the bottom of the goTenna to hook the device, via included charging cables, to a charger. In short, it’s meant to be useful to many types of people – whether you’re a hunter or fisherman communicating with buddies in your party, mountain climbers who might take a tumble down a hill, or anyone else who might be in adverse conditions that require off-grid communications. They come in four different strap colors to differentiate between the individual units – purple, orange, green, and blue.
It goes in a loop up through whatever frequencies you tell it to and it stops if it hears someone transmitting.
They can also be made to use power from the signal itself so they don’t all need anything else to power them. Quite frankly, anyone as a member of a group, who have these radios SHOULD program them with the software, so that they are all the same, so that if one persons is damaged another can hand them theirs and all settings are the same…. Baofengs and Wouxun's (yes… they're made in China) are DAMNED good radios when you consider their price!
I may have an old shortwave radio that receives the very low frequencies and if so I will have to see if the transmitter still generates a signal. It did not have the cans of chemical to inflate the balloon, but those are very hazardous materials and I did not want to ship 65 year old cans of dangerous substances. In my experience, ice and snow have built up on the goTenna while packing it in the woods in a Maine winter and during a February ice fishing trip – it shrugged off the cold and elements with aplomb.  I have every confidence it will withstand most inclement conditions as long as it isn’t submerged. By the way, these use tubes so the generator has to produce two voltages: a cathode voltage of 24 volts and a plate voltage of 330 volts. The goTenna’s lithium-polymer battery is sealed, meaning that it cannot be removed or replaced, and will eventually show declining battery life like any other battery-powered device…though this will take years of constant use. He also says that a small round compartment on the front opens up to reveal a ground wire with a weight on the end.
The set is a post-WWII dual-channel radio, the crank on the radio appears to be a mass of rust and the bottom of the carrying case is falling apart.
These would have been dropped into the water and made a big difference in the efficiency of the antenna.
I had to do repairs on the one I sold - those old cloth cases are very fragile and based on my repair experience, I would not want to tackle this one. A aircraft flying at 2,000 feet could pick up one of these transmitters from 150-200 miles away.
I still have one of the post-WWII radios with no case or accessories and it has some rust on the crank and some dents, I figure that is worth less than $50. After the war they made a dual channel model that could have transmitted over one thousand miles, but I think the short range transmission was probably better for search aircraft with radio direction finders: the long range frequency channel often was no audible to receivers close to the transmitters (one of the quirks or shortwave radio frequencies).

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