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  #1  
Old 05-18-2020, 09:03 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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When regular comms go down...

A little reminder here recently.

Our one-stoplight town is dependent on the fiber optic/cell towers for communication and daily business. You either have a choice of using a hotspot for internet or satellite. Even the folks who have landlines are tied into the cable/cell structure for them to work. I'm not a wizard on the details, but from past and recent experience apparently our cell towers and pretty much everything else around here are integrated with some key fiber optic cable systems.

Yesterday around 3PM all cell signals went down. With that also went internet and internet based TV (a lot of it around here), and the ability of pretty much every business in town to do card transactions. Even the local Post Office earlier today wasn't able to run cards, or even scan in or create labels for packages.

Word was that a major cable was cut near Uvalde (about 40 miles away). Last time it was guys working on the pipeline that cut one and took us out. We were told that if it didn't get fixed today it would be out until Friday. Fortunately they got it back up around 3PM today. So about 24 hours of shutdown.

Now here is something to consider. For weather information we and most folks we know use either their cell phone, computer, or both, for getting up to date weather info. When severe storms are coming the local ham club gathers on the VHF repeater. Some of us track on radar maps and keep other informed as well on making sure they are okay. With no access to the cell or internet, no up to date weather info. NOAA is only good for so much and not as in depth immediately. I do have NOAA saved on my radios and did use it as an alternative. We barely get an FM station here. Well, any that are in English anyway.

Our local volunteer FD uses an app on their members cell phones to alert them in case of a call out. A few members have scanners, but most don't. I was talking to a girl at our security gate who is a member yesterday. She has no way of being notified unless someone comes and gets her personally without her cell phone. They do use the sirens on occasion, but it's limited. Same for incoming storms.

For whatever reason, probably because "everyone has cell phones," Fort Clark Springs let their business radio license expire and quit using radios in security a few years ago. Guess what? The gate cannot contact whoever is out on patrol if the cell tower/cable infrastructure is down. Nor can we call the security gate, or the fire department, or the sheriff's office, or any other responder, when everything is down. Since I have some better than Baofeng, Chinese radios that are unlocked to cover VHF from 136-174 mhz "in the case of immediate danger to life or property" I could transmit on the local FD/EMS dispatch frequency and contact someone IAW FCC rules. Most people in our community don't have that option.

My wife is a teacher and working from home. However, it requires an internet connection and phone. We had to drive 30 miles to the closest town, where she teaches, to get signal so she could check in and make arrangements to come into campus if we didn't get comms back.

This is just a reminder of how dependent most folks have become on the cell/internet infrastructure for everything from business, to just about everything in terms of communications, information, and daily life. So think about just how much of your family's and your community's life is connected in this way. Disconnect your internet and your TV. Turn off your cell phones. Then consider how much information you get each day from them to include your weather and weather warnings. Imagine you can't pop into the corner store and card a tank of gas. Maybe not even be able to buy it or anything else with cash even.

Now start thinking what your alternatives are. I have some, but still don't like not being able to track bad weather or get a real heads up. My mother turned 86 yesterday and has Parkinson's. So the possibility of needing to contact EMS or the local clinic is real. It's not just information gotten directly from websites and apps. Friends the next town over share info when they get hit with weather heading our way and we with them. Take out the internet and cells and you take out how we give or get those heads up.

At least it wasn't like one thought that passed through my head. Shutting down internet and comms would have been a great first movement prior to troops and APCs rolling into town to take over. Cut off and conquer. No advance warning. Less likely, but still something to think about these days. Remember how the VA governor and his buds were considering shutting down power and comms to 2A sanctuary areas and sending in the National Guard not long ago. So not so far fetched anymore.

I'm also glad it wasn't the power down for a day, or worse a week. It was supposed to hit 103 today. Back down to the low to mid 90s the rest fo the week.
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  #2  
Old 05-19-2020, 01:41 PM
HarryO45 HarryO45 is online now
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Our internet comes from the phone lines. No cable out here. Direct TV. So I kinda feel your pain. We have pretty good cell service. My wife is in Academia and has horrible connection for video conferencing. She is on it almost non stop since Wuhan.

I often wonder what would happen if cell towers went down and / or no internet for the masses. Much worse than Corona, me thinks.
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Old 05-19-2020, 01:52 PM
kwo51 kwo51 is offline
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EMP would suck . Grid down is trouble that will finish this country.
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:14 AM
rayban rayban is offline
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Get yourself a decent Short Wave radio. One that has HF capabilities, so you can listen in on hams.
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Old 05-21-2020, 05:15 PM
sambob sambob is offline
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Sounds like the community needs to Invest It satellite TV/Internet,ham/GMRS radios and backup generators.
Really sounds like this two dog towns leaders have no Idea what "PLAN B" means, I think It's time you and other citizens remind them who they work for...just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:12 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayban View Post
Get yourself a decent Short Wave radio. One that has HF capabilities, so you can listen in on hams.
I already have a County Com GB-5/SSB. Very nifty and capable little receiver that covers 160-10 Meter with SSB. Also covers AM/FM. I only have my Tech license currently, but we have a couple of club members with their Extra tags, and gear. Also some folks with their General. I need to get back to studying for my General ticket. I have a Yaesu FT-707 rig that I need to get the capacitor replacement pack for and try to get it running properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sambob View Post
Sounds like the community needs to Invest It satellite TV/Internet,ham/GMRS radios and backup generators.
Really sounds like this two dog towns leaders have no Idea what "PLAN B" means, I think It's time you and other citizens remind them who they work for...just my 2 cents.
I agree that we need more ARES coordination with the county. There used to be more. This one stoplight town IS the county seat. So there's not a lot on the budget. They had to count on grants just to get new, working handhelds for the deputies that cover the whole county. Same for getting SUVs to replace their stack of ones that are worn out and most down for repairs. We don't have a city police. The Sheriff's Department covers everything.

I do appreciate appreciate the Sheriff, crew, and most folks at the courthouse. They are generally solid 2A overall. The Sheriff is very solid on it. During this C-19 stuff while they have posted guidelines and closed the lobby of the courthouse, there has been none of the forced, total closings, or forced mask stuff. Local restaurants went to take out and drive thru only. Since people were still bringing a bunch of kids with them or sending in kids by themselves the local DG and Grocery went to no one under 17 allowed in. Mostly though, there's been a lot less hassle and none of the heavy handed crap. Folks here seem to value rights and freedom a bit more.

The county has backup generators for some things including their radio tower. Our repeater doesn't have a backup generator though. Our past president has a nice generator we use for field day stuff. I and and our current president also have generators, just not as nice.

One of the reasons I have a small stack of various handhelds, both HAM and GMRS, plus have radios that can transmit on GMRS and MURS, even local EMS/FD dispatch if needed, is to cover a variety of situations. I can put some Part 95 GMRS radios in some hands covering parts of the community that are still within license free status and still be able to communicate with them. If anyone has MURS, I can do still communicate with them in an emergency situation. My wife, elderly mother, and I can all operate under my GMRS license. And, I can relay information back as a licensed amatuer between local hams and others.

Whenever severe thunderstorms are coming this way the club members gather up on the repeater as an ARES net. It was also handy for contacting others when everything else went down. When part of the place lost power a few weeks ago we all hit the repeater to exchange information and figure it out.

I really would like to see us getting more back to a more active involvement with local entities in regards to providing emergency/community communication during emergencies. Actually practice and fine tune before it's actually needed. Some of it is that our senior radio folks are just that, senior. I'm no spring chicken by any means, but of our better equipped, long time experienced and licensed operators, there are only two. One is much older, the other while more active also has limited time due to work. The rest of us with two exceptions are still all grey hairs. So there are a variety of limitations on personnel. We consider having nine people checking in on the Sunday night net a really good turnout. ovide for.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:10 AM
Pat-inCO Pat-inCO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amos Iron Wolf
I agree that we need more ARES coordination with the county.
There used to be more. This one stoplight town IS the county seat.
So there's not a lot on the budget.
. . . .
We consider having nine people checking in on the Sunday night net a really good turnout.
Been a democrat long?

Don't look to others to do it "for you". Start encouraging everyone above age ten to "think"
about HAM radio. It seems obvious that your communications "infrastructure" is not strong.
WORK ON IT! https://www.nhrc.net/controllers.php has an excellent assortment of options
that YOU can put together for a relatively small cash outlay. - - - Anything from a store and
forward repeater, to a full featured one (having more than one is essential).

Look into the online training for emergency communications. Training is ESSENTIAL!
Far too many figure that if they have a license, they are trained . . . . NOT!

I have been involved for near forty-five years. It is amazing how much you learn, once
you know it all.
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:42 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat-inCO View Post
Been a democrat long?

Don't look to others to do it "for you". Start encouraging everyone above age ten to "think"
about HAM radio. It seems obvious that your communications "infrastructure" is not strong.
WORK ON IT! https://www.nhrc.net/controllers.php has an excellent assortment of options
that YOU can put together for a relatively small cash outlay. - - - Anything from a store and
forward repeater, to a full featured one (having more than one is essential).

Look into the online training for emergency communications. Training is ESSENTIAL!
Far too many figure that if they have a license, they are trained . . . . NOT!

I have been involved for near forty-five years. It is amazing how much you learn, once
you know it all.
Democrat? Really? I could say been a know it all ass for long? I'm the guy ready to disinherit a couple of my kids because they're leaning left and don't seem to want to listen. You really don't know me enough to say something like that. If you did, you might realize that it would take great restraint to keep from shooting someone who even said that to me.

You also don't know that I've been encouraging the 13 year old girl next door to get her license. I've even offered to pay for her testing and give her her first radio if she passes. I've also been talking it up for some time. In person and online.

We have a repeater here. Three in fact. Motorola. Two are active; one on VHF and one on UHF. As a club we're even willing to put some money in to pay for the repairs on a neighboring clubs repeater. We've even started talking about linking the two.

I get $975 a month SSI retirement. I get another $281 VA disability. My wife is a teacher, we got our first mortgage when I was 60, now 63. And we take care of my just turned 86 year old mother with Parkinson's. So I'm not really set to fix a whole community. Especially when we already have the repeaters and HF operators in place and it's a low priority for the rest of the community.

I did bring up and we were discussing ways to address the community issues at our monthly ham club meeting last night. However, you can't move a bunch of people who won't move. I've run into that trying to organize a variety of things. Like when you have a bunch of people who say they are interested in forming a come together when stuff hits the fan group. Everyone loves talking about the idea, but try to get them to have just a sit down to cover basics like skill sets, primary and secondary roles, chain of command, and how, when, and where to rally. That's just trying to get them to sit down for the initial meeting. Actually getting them to put in the time and effort to train together and practice?

One thing I have learned over the years is that when you think you know everything, you actually know little. The more you actually have learned, you learn just how much you don't know and have to learn.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:01 PM
BBBBill BBBBill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amos Iron Wolf View Post
…One thing I have learned over the years is that when you think you know everything, you actually know little. The more you actually have learned, you learn just how much you don't know and have to learn.
Amen!
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Old 05-23-2020, 03:41 PM
TRX302 TRX302 is offline
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Originally Posted by Pat-inCO View Post
Been a democrat long?

Don't look to others to do it "for you". Start encouraging everyone above age ten to "think" about HAM radio.
I was that age first time someone tried to get me into ham radio. No go. Still the same problem each time someone brings it up; while I'm willing to acknowledge some people can make something of whispery mumbling behind crackling static, I can't even tell what language they're speaking most of the time, much less make sense of it.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:00 AM
rayban rayban is offline
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Originally Posted by TRX302 View Post
I was that age first time someone tried to get me into ham radio. No go. Still the same problem each time someone brings it up; while I'm willing to acknowledge some people can make something of whispery mumbling behind crackling static, I can't even tell what language they're speaking most of the time, much less make sense of it.
Yeah, ham radio isn't like turning on your FM receiver.....conditions have to be right, and knowledge of your equipment helps too.
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Old 05-24-2020, 02:17 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Originally Posted by rayban View Post
Yeah, ham radio isn't like turning on your FM receiver.....conditions have to be right, and knowledge of your equipment helps too.
That's something I don't understand about AmRRON. They have a monthly net on 20 and 40 meters during the afternoon. Definitely NOT a good time for either band. Both work better and have more range at night.

Local repeaters and short range simplex on VHF and even shorter on UHF are usually clear sound. But once you go to 6 meters and below it becomes mostly bounced signal communications for anything distant.

Running VHF/UHF on repeaters is a lot clearer depending on the locations of both you and the repeater can cover a fair bit of distance. Around here if you aren't in a low point or in a low point surrounded by building you can work off the VHF repeater 30+ miles out at max range with a decent mobile antenna and just a 10 watt handheld plugged into it. We've got more flat and open areas though.

But yeah, once you leave that and start going HF, usually SSB, things are not clear and clean. It starts to sound like something in a movie where the characters are trying to contact someone in a crisis. I don't do CW, but that is one of the great things about it. You don't need nice clean tone to receive it. As long as the noise is broken up into dits and dahs, you can copy it.

So TRX302, don't hold back from getting a Tech license if you have any repeaters around locally. Usually no more than a little bacon frying sound in the background or maybe at the edge a little scratchy, but still quite readable unless you are just out of range or in a deep hole somewhere.
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Old 05-24-2020, 04:14 PM
The War Wagon The War Wagon is offline
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Lightbulb

Scanners & CB's - my CB's all have NWS channels. ONE of these days... I'll sit for my ham license.
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:47 PM
GTAW GTAW is online now
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I still don't get it. If you need a license to use a radio thats over complicated and isn't clear enough to easily communicate, why is is it so heavily regulated in the first place???
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:32 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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They aren't that complicated. Especially in the 2M/70CM bands which is where you will spend most of your time if you are have a Technician License. What learning and getting the license helps you with is actually learning about band plans, where and what you can and can't operate, and a better idea where and how to find and communicate with others.

A lot of the same information is also applicable to those with a GMRS license. To really get the most out of the license and the equipment you need to understand basic radio, rules, and the basics of proper operation.

The reason for all the regulations, especially in amatuer radio is for a few reasons. First, you could end up running powerful equipment that can cause interference with a variety of other communications and even some essential non-communication electronic equipment if nearby. Same reason you used to not be able to use cell phones and laptop computers on commercial aircraft in the early days of those devices. Possible interference with flight electronics. Each operator is required by FCC regulation to make sure their stations operate within proper radiation tolerances. For the older CB guys they might remember when someone running a linear and big antenna would come blasting over the TV with a lot of noise. There are harmonic frequencies created when transmitting.

You have to understand both what frequencies and what modes you can operate on. Just given a transmitter or transceiver with no understanding or knowledge of this you can end up transmitting on and interfering with emergency services, public works, even aircraft. That's one reason the FCC was looking at banning import and sale of the Baofengs. With a basic Baofeng UV-5R you can access and transmit on frequencies outside the 2 meter Ham band. You can also operate in UHF past the 70CM band and interfere with the FRS and GMRS bands.

Another thing that non radio people don't realize is that antennas radiate. That may sound simple and obvious. However, there are levels of radio wave radiation that you can be exposed to when near antennas that can be harmful. Especially when you are talking high power transmitter levels and those used in HF can be pretty powerful. Being close to the antennas exposes you to that radiation. There are acceptable levels and not to exceed levels. There is a little more to it that just that. But, these are also things you need to know. To get your license and to operate safely. There are also other safety considerations when working with commo gear. The tests touch on this.

I currently have 5 radios that are capable of transmitting on our local FD/EMS dispatch frequency and some air freqs as well. Not to mention other business band frequencies. I have some of those frequencies programmed in, but set for receive only so I don't accidently transmit on them. With things like they are even though I don't expect much to happen here, I keep my handhelds with dual watch on our local repeater frequency on A and the local FD/EMS frequency on B, but set for receive only. I figure if something is starting to happen in the area there might be activity on the FD/EMS dispatch. Plus anything getting noticed by other club members might get someone coming on the repeater to see who else is around and exchange information.

The reason for so much regulation is there is a lot more to it than just dialing some arbitrary frequency and keying the mike. You can cause a lot of issues and/or end up places you shouldn't be transmitting. Possibly even endangering lives and property. Just like learning the laws, the dangers, and the rules of the road, when getting your driver license even though you may know how to start a vehicle, put it in gear, and steer it. Fortunately, most licensed amatuer radio operators take their responsibilities much more serious than the way too many people don't seem to take their driving. Also hams tend to self police when there are trouble makers.
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:35 PM
GTAW GTAW is online now
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That's a lot of information. Thank you for sharing. I suppose it would be quite involved to learn and attempt to become acquainted with the equipment and all.
Doesn't look like communication will keep happening for me when the system fails.
Back to the tin cans with screens
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:39 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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California has a lot of repeaters and clubs out there. The Tech license isn't hard to get. Hamstudy.org has the lessons and the practice tests. The radios for 2 meter (VHF) and 70 CM (UHF) are pretty simple and can be had from inexpensive to pricey if you prefer. The Chinese (bad word right now) radios are better programmed by computer, or just watch some YouTube videos. The Yaesu, Kenwood, and Icom, standards are easier to program from the panel.

I really like my TYT UV8000E with 10 watts and crossband repeat ability and can be programmed using the free program CHIRP. However lately I've taken to using the one I call the Baofeng killer as my first grab. It's also a TYT. The UV88. Cost between $30 and $35. It's a 5 watt radio with a lot cleaner transmissions than the Baofengs. Tough little radio. I dropped it a few times on concrete and it's rolling right along. That one I downloaded the free factory program and it's pretty clean and easy to use. Clear send and receive. I use it from the house on our Sunday night net meetings. I'll probably use it this Sunday when I'm net control. If I take off the antenna and connect it to the through the glass 2M/70CM antenna on the van I can still hit our repeater 20-25 miles out with usable conversations. Does a lot for an inexpensive radio. Makes the Baofeng look and sound like a kid's toy for about the same price.

The squiggly, alien voice sounding stuff is only when you get down into HF and Side Band working longer range and skip type stuff. Unless you are on the fringe of radio range, which is line of sight basically, the VHF/UHF stuff (2 Meter and 70 CM) are generally pretty clear signals and sound like real people.

You can start out simple and inexpensive. Nothing wrong with staying that way if you want to. Many people do. Or if you want you can get more involved. If you've ever looked at reloading, ballistics, or figured out how your firearms work, you can learn enough to pass the test. With studying for the Tech learn to pass the test. I usually hate that idea, but in this case it's okay as some of us put it. It's your license to learn once you get it.

There is an app called Repeater Book you can download on a phone or tablet that you can use to find all repeaters near you. You can go into settings and set it for just 2 Meter and 70CM and it will only show those. Tap on one and it will give you the frequencies and settings you need.

Getting started as a Tech isn't too hard nor is it too hard to get talking to folks. Some areas have their repeaters linked to others as part of an extended network that is still radio based. I think California has some. With a Tech license, a handheld, and a repeater within range you could end up talking beyond just that one repeater and it still be purely radio based. As long as the repeaters have power people can talk via radio even when cells and internet are down.

We have elderly women who aren't all that technical in our club who are active. It can be done. Even though I was into different things radio and electronics related on a half azzed way I put off getting my ticket way too long. Kinda could kick my butt now for waiting.

Give it a shot. Testing is usually $15 and the license is free. If you should fail, go back, study some more, and test again later. Though spend some time on hamstudy.org on the lessons and practice tests, focus on the bold answers and don't pay attention to the other answers, and you should pass no problem. Even if you decide to never test. It's still good stuff to have learned. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Simple is fine.
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Old 06-05-2020, 09:46 AM
consolenut consolenut is offline
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I think comms may go down if theyre using social media to plan and plot the insirection or organized riots. Military in the cities? or Shut down comms? The comm shut down seems more likely. Or the electricity being cut to certain areas. Those disaster radios etc are on TV commercials it seems like ALL the time now.

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Old 06-05-2020, 10:38 PM
cavelamb cavelamb is offline
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EMP would suck . Grid down is trouble that will finish this country.
That's probably high on the list of next things to do.

Not an EMP, of course.

Just turn off the servers.

And you are right about it sucking.
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Old 06-05-2020, 10:50 PM
consolenut consolenut is offline
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EMP is high on NoKo and prob chinas mind though.

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Old 06-06-2020, 01:35 AM
cavelamb cavelamb is offline
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Too expensive and too traceable.

Just turning off the power to the servers and routers is much simpler.
And just as effective.
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Old 06-06-2020, 01:17 PM
consolenut consolenut is offline
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read somewhere that group of hackers from asia somewhere. Dont remember where they were hacked as far as the next step was just shutting the grid off. They were so far they could have locked the utilitites out so they couldnt turn it back on either.

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Old 06-06-2020, 05:08 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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It was discovered a few years ago that the Russians had already hacked into a good bit of the grid and some of the controls for water supplies. They were able to gain access through verified third party vendors instead of trying directly into the systems. Basically the Russians had been just keeping the option open until it served their needs. That was actually reported in a few places.
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Old 07-06-2020, 12:43 PM
Pat-inCO Pat-inCO is offline
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Don't forget the difference the antenna can make. Set up as NVIS (Near Vertical Incident
Skywave) you will have 250 to 300 mile coverage . . . . like a blanket, coverage.

The frequencies involved will be in the 75 to 40 meter frequency range, thus the antennas
will be large. Here lately, NVIS has primarily been on 75 and 60 meters.
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  #25  
Old 07-06-2020, 01:05 PM
The War Wagon The War Wagon is offline
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Wink

SSB for the win.




Would LOVE to have 12 pills driving it , but we endeavor, to persevere...

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