Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Seeing over the horizon

I have a friend who is a big fan of The Praying Medic. He said the PM has been focusing on radio communications the last few weeks.

Quite by coincidence, I have another friend who asked me if I had any knowledge about radio frequencies that would allow him to "see beyond the horizon" and get advance information about trouble that might be coming his way. His horizon is defined by the tree-line some 300 yards from his house.

I understand his concerns. He lives about 10 miles from a prison and fairly close to an interstate. It WOULD be nice to have a way to monitor events that are more than 300 yards away.

I don't have any particular knowledge but I do have the time and ability to perform some internet searches.

Attached is my response to the second friend:

The 2m simplex frequency at 146.52 MHz is one of the most common Ham radio prepper frequencies you can tune in to if you cannot think of anything else. This frequency is almost always being monitored by someone and offers a better chance of your call being heard. Apart from this, there’s the 70cm simplex frequency as well at 446 MHz.

If you are looking for prompt weather updates in scary weather situations, 146.55 MHz is said to be the most used frequency by storm chasers as they communicate with other authorities. You can get live weather updates from this one.

Image from here...and much more at this link:

While most normal people are prohibited from transmitting on these channels, there is nothing that prohibits us from programming our radios and LISTENING to unencrypted communication of what is going down.


  1. I am a ham radio operator General class, I have a 2m, a TM 281 Kenwood with a home built copper slim jim antenna.With this setup i can hit all the repeaters within a 50-60 mile radius. The antenna is only up about 15-18 ft.
    I also have a HF radio, Kenwood TS 570s that covers 160m through 6m with a Ecomm II about 12 ft. With that I can talk consistently 700-800 miles in NVIS configuration.
    Plus i have a low power morse code radio on 40m.
    I encourage everyone to get their Ham License.

  2. I am by no means an , Elmer, but I enjoy being able to communicate via radio. Longest contact was Slovenia

  3. Day 1 of zero internet and zero cellular service will be a stark reality check for which most are completely unprepared. The vast majority of society will be checking, and re-checking for a "signal".

    1. Oh my what a study in human behavior THAT would be. An entire generation has now been raised in a wired world, suddenly left to cope without their precious pocket screen feeding them the bits and bytes of social data/meaning?

    2. Even worse,two entire generations have been raised to not learn and remember knowledge, but to look it up when needed.

  4. There used to be third party firmware for older WIFI devices. That would convert them to point to point devices. A wired camera attached to one in the tree line would be kinda cool. Maybe even two, one looking at the house and one looking out to the most likely approach. Another one in the house to monitor the feeds. Using those, no one can get into your network as they are stand alone, no need for a network to run on. AND you can use obsolete 802.11g or lower.

    There are circuits online for a magnetic loop in the road, seismic sensors or even a photo eye to keep track of vehicle traffic on a private road. Not sure how you'd interface that to the wifi, or if you could just run some cheap cat3 cable back to a panel.

    a plastic spoon and a wooden clothes pin can make a decent switch. Improvised "hardware" was a mil book at one time, probably online and easily found nowadays.....

    Once you start thinking about that, it's surprising what you can come up with.....

  5. VHF/UHF amateur is good as long as someone else, (presumably a ham) can see what is going on and is willing to share. You can also monitor some out-of-band signals with most amateur radios but generally just those signals that are AM or FM in the clear. Strongly recommend a (somewhat expensive) digital-capable scanner. You cannot monitor encrypted signals, but most agencies are still in the clear, just obscured by digital modes being used. The learning curves are steep, but many vendors now include software and capability to enter and update frequencies and modes in your area based on location and desires. Mine even uses Radio Reference site data mentioned above. No personal financial interest - I like my Whistler TRX-1 hand held and recommend one if you want to be sure you hear all the local PD, FD, and other emergency services. Uniden/Bearcat make comparable designs with comparable features. It is actually somewhat shocking when you start to understand the brevity codes and can follow all the events that don't make the local news because it wasn't on twitter. Make friends with a local ham elmer, get a name-brand 2m/440 HT (Yaesu, Kenwood, Icom - not just a Baofeng, although I have many) and a good scanner (or two.) Get at least a Tech license. The ham will probably be able to help with the scanner, too. Radio Reference is a great site with lots of info to help, too. Lots of other options out there too, but this will get you a very solid start - An old Extra in the SW deserts.

    1. Sorry more than two too many too's now that I read it too. Argh.

  6. If your friend #2 is local to you, the Lansing Skywarn group uses 145.390 as their primary repeater. Ref EMS/fire/law enforcement: I second what Anon 3:31 said. In my county, not so very far away from you, ERJ, our Fire/EMS dispatch is in FM on a frequency readily monitorable with TDW's dual band HT (*she* elected a Baofeng. I was attempting to nudge her towards an Alinco or Yaesu, but, ya know...). Radio Reference lists frequencies that are NOT digitally modulated, and occasionally those are useful for monitoring.

    Of course, it all depends on what you are monitoring and what sort of excitement you are anticipating.

  7. Don't underestimate the utility of encrypted comms even if you can't copy the content. Down here, the DPS went all encrypted, but by signal strength you know how close they are when the break squelch.

    Don't discount SDR's either. Free software on a laptop and a cheap dongle connected to an antenna gives you DC to daylight coverage. For very, very little outlay.

  8. SDR stands for Software Defined Radio. There are very inexpensive ones that look like a USB flash drive with an antenna connector. These are basically TV tuners that, with some custom software, receive signals from about 24 MHz on the low end to 1.8 GHz on the high end. There are adapters that will allow receiving signals at lower frequencies.

    A search for sdr dongle will bring up a bunch of results. Many folks use the simple ones for tracking aircraft with ADSB.

    Ed used one as a 60 KHz receiver for WWVB, and reported on the gotchas he ran into:



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