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Alternative comms

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So with all thats going on in the world I got to thinking about alternative communications.

What are folks here doing in the event phone and internet communications become unstable, unreliable, or all together non-existent?

Read some interesting stuff online about IRC chat and direct dial BBS sites. Gawd, when was the last time...

But with the current control and censorship issues, what would you do if it all went *poof* and your txt messages never got replied to. 

How would you communicate locally in your neighborhood? In town? Relatives nearby or across the state/country?

We've become so used to the ubiquity of it all....

I know some folks are setup with HAM, I have a set of Baeofangs I'm trying to figure out... but outside a couple miles... what have some folks prepared for?

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I have a few of those emergency radios stashed. Beyond that I guess I'm screwed. I do have a Jackery 500 and solar panel for recharging electronic devices though. I'm trying to envision a scenario where comms are actually down long term and most that I'm coming up with are scary. If that happens I'm guessing comms will be the least of my worries. 

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I would walk over to my neighbors and say "Hey, you good?"  Yep, ok?  See ya, let me know if you need anything.   What are you expecting to have to discuss?  Barricading the neighborhood?  

What did you do before cell phones and the internet?  You drove over to see someone if it was farther than just walking.

Or get handheld radio's/cb's?    I am with Erik on this.  If all communications are down, I suspect that is the least of your worries. 

Edited by Hozzie
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I actually get what RefferMac is saying.  I have a lot of family in and around Knoxville.  I suspect that if communications are down, you aren't going to be getting into vehicle to go check on family and friends. though.  I'm assuming he is talking about Marshall Law, where the Government basically shuts down all communications, including the the internet and restricts movement, other than for emergencies or food. 

It is a posser, I have to admit.  I really have no idea how we would communicate is such a situation.

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Yes, true, there were a few "current events" that made the topic bubble back to the surface..

I've wondered about everything going dark (aka marshall law, emp, etc.) and with that assumption I have concluded gasoline will be highly valuable, so simply running across town, if thats even possible (nevermind practical), could prove challenging.

When I was a kid my friend had some walkie-talkies we used, were maybe 1.5 mile apart... but after bed time Mom wouldn't let us use the phone! LOL! That memory, and the ability to 'listen' to a lot is why I got the handheld baeofengs. Worst case me and mine are good for a couple miles and I'm only out 50 bucks.

But my Sister is in Northern Va.?

And what if things don't get totally blown away, but folks that circulate on places like TGO find communication difficulties. I mean, how is @Grand Torino
gonna sell any knives if we can't buy them here?

And without trying to be political.... what if the situation becomes something else? What if I/me/mine experience persecution because of our support of the 2nd, or lack of masks, or... you can imagine many possible scenarios comms may need to go underground.

I'm curious what preparations others have been making. I attended a get together this weekend covering such examples, and what this group would be willing and able to do. Most folks in the group hadn't even thought about it.

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I just bought a cheap handheld HAM radio, and I am going to start learning to use it. I will be able to listen until I get my license. My uncle nearby says he can hit the repeaters on Lookout and Signal mountains with his from East Ridge, so that will be the first thing I will try after getting it programmed. There are networks of amateur radio operators everywhere and a big club in my town. From what I hear, the repeaters have generator backups too.

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I understand everyone's anxiety and I'm not immune to the situation, but at this point I've decided wtf. 

I'm pretty much hunkered down and have been for months. Freezers are stocked, ammo supply is good. Where I live may not be immune to discord, but its pretty low key. I can start social security at any time or if it actually gets that bad take what I need.

I'm old and whatever happens, happens. We just all need to take a deep breath and hope the Donald can sit tight.

As for congress, it seems to be living up to my every expectation.

Edited by Raoul
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In the same vein of mesh networks,  I've thought about a project where people turn their home into an xbee node. Each person involved has a 1k or 10k xbee transceiver in their home with a unique ID and information travels between the nodes in the network. You could think of it as each home hosting one of these becomes a router in a low throughput network. If the internet goes down or cellular communications aren't possible you could still pass messages to various recipients in the network or send out a mass communication to all recipients. The transceiver in your home would communicate to your phone, laptop...whatever over wifi. 

You could have high thruput repeaters with multiple transceivers and some that are just single node end points that act as back-up for the high thruput nodes. 

In the event a node is downed the network could autoreconfigure so its hard to bring down conventionally.


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I've been a ham for years. The last thing to fail is good old CW (Morse Code). There are some more modern digital modes that work through heavy noise, but those require a computer. CW just requires a key and a bit of practice. And apart from the emergency aspect of it, ham is an enjoyable hobby.


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We have been thinking the same thing, our kids are 500 miles away and I have a ham operator about 1/4 mile away. This website will let you search for names of Ham operators in your zipcode along with their call letters. www.radioqth.net/ziplookup

Locally either a cb or walk or drive to see about them.

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6 hours ago, ReeferMac said:

When I was a kid my friend had some walkie-talkies we used, were maybe 1.5 mile apar

My buddy and I built illegal CW transmitters so we could send Morse code at 15 watts or so the three blocks between our houses.  We didn't know we needed licenses, and I know that every TV in town was pulsing and clicking with every character we sent. It was fun for the short time until my dad figured it out. I think he was pleased I was able to build the transmitter, but not so much that I actually used it.

Edited by Darrell
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GMRS radios are another option that might be useful for the local area and a few surrounding counties. The license does not require a test.  Also, while it is not a great option, I have been able to get decent distance from single sideband (ssb) CB radio. 

Based on the responses above, I have started looking into BBS. What boards are good for information?

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I have a bit of everything, except Ham, but will rectify that I think.   Hardware may become critical and it is a good idea to be prepared, but our electronic comms are already being compromised, we all joke about it but I am sure we have all had ads sent to us for things you have asked about, searched, or even in some cases just had a verbal conversation about.  If they can get that info, nothing else is safe.  I do not think they will just cut us off, at least not at first, they want to listen in, which they can't do if they cut our comms.  So the first thing is to secure your comms.

I am slowly moving away from Google, Gmail, yahoo etc, and have even removed Chrome. Here is where I have landed so far, in case some of you want to check them out.  I don't do facebook or twitter but I listed some alternatives, read they were ok, but who knows unless you get on there and check it out, review them here if you already have or do so later.

First is a faraday bag, keeps signals from getting in, and getting out for phones and Laptops/tablets.  

Free eMail:

Tutanota  secure encryption in transmission and while at rest.  Based in Germany so part of the 14 eyes compact, but even if they do give access to the alphabet units, the encryption is pretty tight.

Protonmail, same as above but based in Switzerland; but there are some reports that the CIA may have been involved in their early years so I use it as my Spam email, used only for non official uses like shopping sites.  It also supports good encryption so there is that.


Brave, seems to be much more secure than Chrome, and blocks many of the various site tracking features as well as pop-ups.  It also does a great job at importing bookmarks and even some passwords.


Lastpass, password manager;  it can be accessed from an app (any platform), or on the web and they all sync so it is updated after each addition or edit anywhere you access it from.  It incorporates itself into Chrome, and Brave, probably Internet Explorer/ Edge too, so fills in your username and PW for you so you can use strong passwords without worrying about forgetting them.  

Reading about the Dark Web probably wouldn't hurt, which is just going around the DNS servers, which can be compromised. using a different browser with encryption matching the one the site uses, such as a TOR browser.  People have been using this to communicate in closed societies such as Russia, NK, Iran etc., it's not just about Silk Road and drugs.


One American News Network (OWN)


Book of Face, Twit ,Replacements




Our Freedom Book

Freedom Book

Youtube replacement, 2A and 1A friendly:



Anyone have any others, list away.



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I've been using the Dissenter Browser the past several days. It's built on top of the Brave Browser. The browser stops Ads and Tackers as you navigate the web.  It also comes with Tor installed which can be accessed as easily as opening a new tab. As a tool, I am pretty impressed with what it offers. 

I've been toying with the idea of getting some encrypted radios for friends and family if the wheels fly off in 2021. You never know, considering what we have all endured in 2020, it's best to be prepared. https://www.cwtouchkeyer.com/best-encrypted-two-way-radio/

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  • 3 weeks later...

To the OP

If you have Baofeng radios, download CHIRP software. Easy way to program what you need/want. Spend less than $35 for an Ed Fong roll up J-pole antenna for at least one radio. Go here and see that somebody already has a band plan and procedure. You can develop your own for your group/neighborhood. Depending on your programming, even if you don't talk on it, the radio is a source of intel from others broadcasting. You can likely program your local PD and SO, plus Fed agencies and some military. IF it becomes a true shtf and power is out, so are repeaters unless backed up. Easy to get a Tech license, then build out your contacts. Messages are can be relayed simplex with a group of operators to almost anywhere. Your Baofeng could likely end up being your main source of intel. Buy extra batteries or AA battery adapter if you can.

My .002 cents after .gov got theirs

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On 2/1/2021 at 9:04 PM, brat said:

You can likely program your local PD and SO, plus Fed agencies and some military.

Not these days, unless you have a way around their encryption; that's the trend.
Encrypted Police Radio Hinders Nashville Severe Weather (nashvillescene.com)
I have an old VHF:30-50/144-174 & UHF:430-512 scanner that is now mostly a paperweight. If anyone can recommend interesting active VHF/UHF freqs in the Nashville area, lemme know. Listening to kid-comm on FRS is teeth-grinding. 😬

On an aside, I recently setup a AM/SSB CB shack here at home, but either folk aren't as helpful as 50yrs ago or it has TX issues. Been try'n to get a radio-check response but the active channel users seem to ignore locals for skip. So PM me if in my area and can help out, tx.

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