With all that is going on in the world, it is clear that bad times are ahead. I won’t go into all that right now, but what you should be aware of is the obvious fact that when this happens, cell phones and the internet will most likely be out of service. How are you going to communicate? How are you going to coordinate with your brothers? How will you stay up to date on local situations and situations in other areas? These questions and others are what you need to be asking yourselves with full seriousness.
The answer is ham radio. These days, ham radio has become less of a boomer hobby and more of a survival necessity. And, thankfully, it is less difficult to get started with than you might think. In this article, I will be covering a simple guide for you and your crew to get setup with VHF/UHF radio communications. In a later article, I will write a guide on how to set up an HF radio to be able to talk all over the world.
For the sake of brevity, I am going to highly suggest watching this great video instead of me explaining all the basics of radio:
The radio that we most highly recommend for beginners because it is cheap, easy to use, very reliable, and has many great guides out there for it online is the Baofeng UV-5R, which can be bought for around $30 on Amazon, or a bit more if you want extra accessories. You are also going to want to purchase the programming cable for it, which is around $8.
After you and your crew have your radios (only one of you will need a programming cable, find a time to have everyone over to program all the radios at once), go to this website: https://repeaterbook.com and find your state. Usually this is the first result on Google if you type in “radio repeaters for [your state]”.
Then you’re going to want to make an account with this site so that you can easily export the information for all the repeaters in your state. If you can’t do this for whatever reason (I’m not sure if they allow you to have a bullshit callsign to make an account), you can just enter the information manually, one by one.
After this, you’ll want to open up CHIRP. Plug your radio into the computer via the programming cable and then import all the repeater data. Do this for all of the radios. Here is a video on how to do this:
After this, you’re all set with the basics.
Keep in mind that you are required by the FCC to have an amateur radio license to broadcast. But in a bad situation, that obviously won’t matter much.