35

On voice, use "Mayday Mayday Mayday" at the beginning and end of the transmission. This is only for life-threatening emergencies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayday_(distress_signal) For other emergency situations, like reporting a wildfire that does not directly threaten you, use "Break Emergency" at the beginning of the call. This is a good guide to ...


24

Assuming that you have an amateur radio license makes this easier, but it's quite possible that the UK legal language includes provisions that may be applicable and allow transmission without a license. It depends on the specifics of the emergency in question. I would strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the relevant definitions in the legal code ...


20

First, if you hear a distress call: STOP! Immediately end any transmission in progress. Do not touch any antenna or radio controls except as needed to turn off split operation etc. Lock the VFO to avoid inadvertantly bumping the frequency setting. Particularly, do not reorient the antenna in an attempt to get a better signal. Focus on copying what you can ...


12

If the power grid and cell phones when down while I was a few hundred miles from home what would be the best way to get a message to my family if my home and I both had access to a radio and small antennas? I'm going to make a few assumptions, here. You may want to consider them restrictions on when this answer is valid. First, I'm going to assume that "...


11

Since you're simulating the situation with non-transmitting equipment, you get the play the part of actual emergency agencies. You'd start by asking the SOS caller to identify themselves (call sign, ship name, etc.) and give their location and the nature of the emergency. Of course, unless your 5 year old knows a lot more Morse than just SOS, that's where ...


9

Most local emergency communications use VHF and UHF repeaters. If we're talking about coordinating CERT or public safety, search and rescue, that sort of thing, then yes, a technician is enough. On the other hand, regional and larger emergency communications (like the hurricane net which covers a large area, or the national traffic system which passes ...


9

The ARRL NTS (National Traffic System) is the method you would use to send messages to anyone anywhere in North America and in concert with other traffic systems to many parts of the world. NTS has many message passing scheduled times on multiple bands. In the night time hours, 80 meters is so popular that sometimes message trafficking networks are most of ...


9

When establishing emergency communications in a disaster, the natural choice of band is one that will allow you to communicate out of the disaster zone. Given the scenario you describe, a massive earthquake affecting the West Coast of North America from Northern California to British Columbia, that probably means HF. HF privileges with a US Technician ...


8

The story is about Eric LeMarque who got lost after snowboarding out of bounds in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Radio receivers usually contain some kind of oscillator. Detecting the unintentional radiation from the oscillator or the mixing products in the receiver is technically possible, but in modern receivers the power is so weak this power is so weak it ...


7

Dan's answer about which frequencies tend to be used for emergency communication is good, but I'd like to add another aspect you seem to be overlooking. Don't dismiss the possibility of such communications being done outside of the amateur bands. In the US (which appears to be the focus of this question because of its reference to Technician and General ...


7

If this is something you are interested in on an ongoing basis as a volunteer, then you should look into joining RACES and/or ARES in the US, and RAYNET in the UK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Amateur_Civil_Emergency_Service http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_Radio_Emergency_Service http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Amateurs_Emergency_Network ...


7

The level to which amateur radio operators participate in emergency management varies between municipalities. ARES is the most well known organization, it is managed by emergency managers in each ARRL section. To join, submit the application form to your section emergency manager. You need not be an ARRL member to join. RACES is managed by state and local ...


7

The ARRL actually has an FAQ that discusses this topic explicitly: http://www.arrl.org/ares-races-faq ARES is activated before, during and after an emergency. Generally, ARES handles all emergency messages, including those between government emergency management officials. RACES, on the other hand, almost never starts before an emergency and is active ...


7

If you are stuck on an island and have only enough battery for one minute of transmitting, the important thing isn't that propagation is good, but that someone hears you. Use your 30 minutes of receive time to find an area of some band that is very busy, with very many very strong signals. By reciprocity, the better you can hear them, the better they can ...


6

SLA cells are dead easy to recharge, improvising a charger may be as easy as a set of jumper cables. Lithium ion's require active charging circuitry and the failure mode can be catastrophic. That said, the new LiFePO₄ batteries seem to combine the best of both, energy density comparable to lithium ion with the saftey and easy charging of lead acid.


6

In the US, disaster declarations need to be approved and that declaration with approval must be transmitted to a state EOC before state aid can be approved. Therefore, early in the game, packet has become popular to get that declaration to the state capital. Although HIPPA does not apply to amateur radio (as operators are not healthcare providers), there's ...


6

Send an HF-E-Mail addressed to your familymembers using a system like WinLink 2000 (http://www.winlink.org). It uses Radio Message Servers (RMS), which provide a bridge between the Central Message Servers (CMS) connected to the Internet and radio clients. Radio modes available for WinLink: HF Soundcard modes (requires audio cable between your HF SSB ...


6

If you are in mortal peril, use any means necessary to make your situation known and get help. It doesn't matter if you are licensed or not. Consider the alternative. But a shortwave transmitter is not especially effective. Among the many issues: A relatively high transmit power is required, meaning heavy batteries. Effective antennas are large. ...


6

In general, the HF bands (1.8 MHz through 30 MHz) do not have sufficient bandwidth to support live transmission of a video signal. In the US, the FCC does not authorize an emission mode for live video on HF. The lowest available band in the US that supports live video is 70 cm (~440 MHz). There are, however, options for transmitting pictures on HF. One of ...


6

Because the situation does not rise to the level of "imminent threat to life or property" you would not be permitted to "use any means neccessary" to carry out your communications. As a result, you would need to pass your traffic using simplex or an available repeater on ham radio frequency allocations if you are under US jurisdiction at the time. A simple "...


6

Since this is all for a bit of fun, you could respond with the typical Morse Code response to indicate that the last transmission was successfully received: R: •-• Some operators stylize this as two R's sent consecutively. You could also use your "Dad" call sign by appending "de DAD": -•• • -•• •- -•• which means this transmission is "from Dad". ...


6

Possible, yes. A good idea as your plan for emergency communication while hiking on a remote and hazardous trail? I wouldn't count on it. As you've already observed, although there are repeaters along the way, you have to know what they are, you have to be in range of them, and someone has to be listening. Consider the things that could go wrong: You ...


5

The two most important parts of any emergency are logistics and communication. There are two primary means of communication which are important. The EOC should have access to a variety of communication systems, including police, fire, phone, internet, and amateur bands, with the ability to clearly communicate with the entire city easily, and the key ...


5

This is a huge area and personal preference is going to drive the choices to a great degree. For a good answer some parameters need to be defined: Are you only going to operate the rig if you are in trouble? This defines the size/cost/weight of your choice. If you are going to also operate “normally”, the rig can take up more of your space/weight budget. ...


5

As an addendum to the answer provided by Michael, there's also the point of what information to obtain from the distressed party. If they're a "professional" or have otherwise had some sort of relevant training, they'll probably rattle off a whole checklist of bits for you to record and relay. Listen carefully, write fast, and read back to confirm all of ...


5

There is §97.205, which regulates repeater stations: (e) Ancillary functions of a repeater that are available to users on the input channel are not considered remotely controlled functions of the station. Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible. So if the net is on a repeater, the repeater's control operator can decide ...


5

Yes, what you are hearing is digital data encoded into the audio stream. These can be decoded by devices that understand the digital data, such as a dedicated weather radio like this one that came up in an Amazon search: The audio signal does catch the attention of people because it sounds kind of like a warning buzz. But that is a secondary benefit, its ...


5

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by "blasting out a periodic SOS". Since you said SOS rather than Mayday, I presume that you're talking about Morse code, or another digital mode, rather than voice. If you mean picking an HF band that is likely to have decent propagation to an area with a relatively large ham population, and picking a part of the band ...


4

If near freezing or colder conditions is one of your possible operating environments, then SLA cells can still be (re)charged at slightly lower temperatures than lithium chemistry cells.


4

You might already know about this, but the Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) system has similar goals and might be what you're looking for.


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