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Why ham?

Sometimes you get bored of using standard communications (internet, cell phone, walkie talkie and want to step up your comms game. Well this is where ham radio comes in handy! Ham radios tend to have a range of several miles with access to dozens or hundreds of frequencies. Better yet, if you connect to a “repeater,” your transmission can be boosted for anywhere between 5 to 50 to hundreds of miles. Let's imagine SHTF, ham radios are great because they all transmit peer-to-peer. Along with audio transmission, you can even use ham radios to transmit images, video, or use them for internet communications – imagine wifi on steroids!

Legally – you need a license to broadcast at all and you're only allowed to broadcast on certain freqs. You need to identify yourself via callsign every time you transmit, which is publicly linked to your name and address. If you commit a radio violation, expect big fines from the FCC! Getting a license is fairly easy and costs about $15.

Illegally – as long as you don't identify yourself or transmit for too long, the worst that can happen is someone tapes your voice and tries to snitch on you. Experienced hams will ignore you or try to jam your freq if you piss them off or refuse to identify. What's really naughty is if you steal someone else's callsign – which will allow you to interact with regular hams!

Basic concepts

  • Ham radio: amateur radio; transmissions by civilians for recreation or research
  • CB radio: unregulated amateur radio; popular with truckers and pirates.
  • FCC: Federal Communications Commission. Radio cops.
  • Callsign: required by FCC to transmit; basically a radio equivalent of a license plate.
  • Pirate radio: operating without a license or breaking radio law. Illegal
  • Repeater: a radio that boosts local transmissions by passing along what it hears
  • VHF: Very High Frequency. 144mhz - 148mhz commonly used for amateur radio (2 meter band)
  • UHF: Ultra High Frequency. 430mhz - 440mhz commonly used for amateur radio (70 cm band)
  • Simplex: radio to radio, direct transmission.
  • Duplex: different channels used for transmit and receive; useful for popular freqs + repeaters.

Basic Setup

  • Menu 8: disable beep
  • Menu 2: transmit strength
  • Menu 12: transmit DCS
  • Menu 13: transmit CDCS / PL
  • Menu 25: offset direction
  • Menu 26: offset amount
  • Hold 0: battery amount
  • Orange: FM Radio mode
  • Hold orange: Alarm mode


  • 146.420 – general pirate VHF


  • Baofeng UV-5R: cheap $30 ham radio; transmits on 2m (VHF) and 70cm (UHF) amateur bands
  • Handheld speaker: $15 allows you to keep radio in a holster / backpack to easily talk on the go
  • High capacity battery: $10 double the lifespan before charges
  • AA battery holder: $20 really wanna prep? Get a backup battery holder that uses standard AA batteries to power
  • USB programming cable: $10 lets you program in a bunch of channels from your PC. Highly recommended, manually programming channels is a huge pain in the ass!



baofeng.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/25 07:07 by acab