Basic American communications when the lights go out!

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Basic communications when the lights go out

I found that Discovery Channel presentation “When the lights go out” extremely interesting. In most instances it was accurate, as far as it went. They, of course, had to respect things like doctrine, patents, and copyright laws. Then too they were producing something to GUIDE the people to specific goals and locations. I will try not to be bound in those ways.

Prepare for the Black Out

Today is the day to begin preparing if you haven’t already finished. The day the Grid goes out will be almost too late. The major THINGS you will need to talk after it goes dark depend on your life style, your familial status, and your bankroll. SO I will discuss mine and you can pick and choose.

Land-line Phones When the Lights Go Out

My first line of communications by force will be a hardwired telephone. The newer, data phones, smart phones, cell phones, etc will not work. Why? They depend upon communications links that feed directly off the power grid.

The phone I chose for the house phone even has a rotary dial. Very quaint, and very useless function as long as the Grid is up. The phone in my house though is probably different than in your house. My Rotary phone is connected by ***4*** wires. I made this happen a couple years ago. Why?

Back 10 to 20 years ago the law changed where you and I became able to install our own lines without paying the local TelCo a fee. When that happened they reduced the lines from 4 wires to 2 wires. That was about the time they went from Rotary dial to DTMF(dial tone multiple Frequency) dialing. They did this to protect their equipment from idiots with pliers and a screw driver. So now your phone only gets 2 wires with a low voltage for audio and connectivity.

When the lights go out this will cease to be. However there will always be a 48volt DC set by going to your access box and finding the Low wire, and the Ground wire. The current wire used in most houses have 4 wires., but the second pair is not connected at the box. Why!

When the lights go out the nearby switch section will drop from A/C to battery. The lines will need all four wires to work. We lost GRID here back a few years and I had phone service the entire time. If you can get one look at the local swap meets and Flea markets and you may still pick up a Phone repairer’s Butinsky. It is a handset with end clips. Fits good in the pocket on a Rucksack. When a Cell won’t do those boxes along the highways usually have phone lines in them.

The next thing I got was a slew of different radios.

My favorite is a threesome of handheld RadioShack 40 Channel CB radios. Put one in each car with a packet of fresh rechargeable Lithium Batteries, and a car charger. Mine are wrapped in three layers of aluminum foil and the antenna is grounded tip to ring. Thus EMP will be a non-problem. In my house I keep another 40 channel CB and an antenna is installed on top of the house for local talking. I also have a set of Motorola SP21 radios. These come with 21 VHF and UHF frequencies. Lets me talk to local businesses in an emergency. Some of the frequencies are called MURS (multiple User Radio Systems. These frequencies are always open to the public.  I also keep two Marine band radios even though I am 120 miles from the beach or Coast Guard Ships. While these are licensed and control listening is not a crime yet.

My final Radios are a pair of Radio Shack FRS/GRMS hand held radios. they operate in the UHF region and in a pinch will work great in the radios illegally capable 50Watt range.

In addition I have two sets of Digital Scanners (radio Shack pro 164’s). The FRS and one scanner is always in my go bag every time I leave home. If I can monitor the local police and Fire, and Medic bands I will know what it going on. To round this off I spent the extra and bought a Frequency Meter. It is like a radio with no sound. It locks onto detected radio broadcasts and then I add them to my scanner.

TV Antenna Communications

My final Communications established is that I Use a TV antenna to watch the Air frequencies. Thus when the cable goes down or the satellite closes down I can watch for TV signals and radio broadcasts in the TV range.

What you need depends upon your game plan. My game plan calls for having enough food so I won’t have to go anywhere, but we all know how that works. Still being able to sit and listen is a great advantage over driving someplace where I can get killed.

The key for me is my day bag. It carries 2 RadioShack FRS/GRMS radios, a real compass, a Digital Topographic GPS, first aid equipment, an IPAD with power extender (8800MAH), and a good set of knives, and my backup .380 auto. 100 feet of 5/50 Cord. Quick disconnects, and a pair of work gloves. Plus my notebook.

Better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Your day bag is not your Bob. It is a bag that lays behind the seat, but goes in and out of the house as you do. Kind of a Guys Purse!

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About Ron Hardin

Ron Hardin has 27 years military experience in communication electronics, and has completed over a hundred FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) courses, and is CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) trained

7 thoughts on “Basic American communications when the lights go out!

  1. Is this just me, but as more and more of these scenarios come around frequently as we become more and more dependent upon technology, do you think the government has come up with some type of plan for the public with guidelines to follow in case this actually occurs??? It’s a scary thought, however I like sites such as this to push me in the right direction.

  2. While the UV 5R radios may be great for operation comunications over a short distance ( realistically about 2-4 miles at best ), there is a serious need for an overlapping radio communications network. HIgh Frequency radios (HF) are better suited to this than VHF or UHF.
    An excellent alternative is the vehicle mounted CB radio with a 1/4 wave stainless steel antenna mounted and properly matched. Ideally, the CB would have SSB (single side band) capability and a small linear amplifier. These are all easy to find and set up, and could be instrumental in relaying information over long distances.

    • I carry a BOB daily and it’s equipped with the same items minus the Commo package. I would like to talk with Ron Hardin about Commo package that I should install in mine. I have a few UV 5R Beofang radios that I need assistance with. Great piece though, thanks

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