Jim,When SHTF and the Gov. cronies start to come, your Ham Lic. will be a bullseye on your location. I personally would not want to be licensed when SHTF. I do have my communication abilities though. It's called underground radio.
CB works well for short range communications (generally within 20 miles with unmodified equipment). We use CB for some comms. My wife is not licensed to operate Ham radio so if she is to be transmitting at all it can only be on CB.We have a CB base station in the house, and a mobile unit rigged up in our farm truck we use to haul firewood / trash / feed / etc. around on our property. My parents, and brothers all own property within a 5 mile radius of us. We can usually talk to them, and a few other people on neighboring property's. Kind of like a neighborhood channel,that stays fairly active. Not nearly as powerful as a HAM radio. But we use it alot.
The test is $10, you can study for free online at any of a number of websites. I used http://qrz.com/ht/ to take free online practice tests and study guides are available at the library. If you go to http://www.arrl.org/courses-training you can find more resources. Free "Ham Cram" classes are available through local radio clubs (sometimes they charge a nominal amount for study materials). One bit of advice though is to study for the Technician class license and the General class as well. if you pass the Tech exam then you can take the General and it doesn't cost you any more if you do it that same day. The Extra class is a bit more challenging though. I'm still working on that one.The exam fee for Technician class should only be about $10.
And a little Wouxun handheld can be had for about $120
While it is true that you can communicate using any means at your disposal during an emergency (including over police radio frequencies), without the training on how to use the radio and being able to effectively execute a communications link with whomever it is that you need to talk to it is a useless tool. You can use GMRS or FRS radios (the GMRS require a registration, but it is not enforced as far as I know. You can get the radios anywhere.) for short-distance communications maybe as far as 10 miles. These radios are very simple, having set "channels", much like the 40 channel CB radios, rather than being programmable like Ham radios. Properly tuned CB radios will get you out up to 20 miles (all of this is more or less line-of-sight without obstructions).In a disaster where you need to communicate, the licensing requirements are waived. Anyone can purchase HAM equipment without a license.
What I'm looking for is reliable direct point-to-point communication out 10 miles or so without the need for any infrastructure, including repeaters. If HAM can do that (again, RELIABLY, not dependent on certain atmospheric conditions or time of day and without the need for repeaters) then I'll give getting my Tech license more consideration.
I've had my Tech ticket since 2002, upgraded to General in 2011 when my sons got their tickets. I mainly stick to UHF/VHF and I'm working on my HF station (I have the tower with a 40/60/80 beam as well as several long-wire antennas, the Kenwood TS430S tranciever is giving me fits though). Since you operate via IRLP, have you linked into the WIN System? http://www.winsystem.org/System_Information/FAQs/Toys/IRLP/irlp.htmlcheck me out on qrz.com.....ki4jdx
I can do that in my peterbilt, i run a galaxy dx 99, with a texas star kicker pushin 1,150watts sending the trend through a 11ft frame mounted monkey made antenna, ill hit you up on your channelVikingdad said:I've had my Tech ticket since 2002, upgraded to General in 2011 when my sons got their tickets. I mainly stick to UHF/VHF and I'm working on my HF station (I have the tower with a 40/60/80 beam as well as several long-wire antennas, the Kenwood TS430S tranciever is giving me fits though). Since you operate via IRLP, have you linked into the WIN System? http://www.winsystem.org/System_Information/FAQs/Toys/IRLP/irlp.html
I have talked to people all over the world using the WIN Sys, there is a guy near Victoria Australia who gets on in the early hours of the AM (local time in AU) after he has hit the pubs and talk a bit. Also another guy in Tokyo who you can pick up pretty often. I don't keep a log so I forget their calls, but you get the idea.
anyhow, 73s for now. KG6TJU