Category Archives: Preparedness

Surviving a nuclear disaster: “Go in, stay in, tune in”

There are so many reasons having a reliable radio at the ready is a good idea.

We radio geeks get it.

This morning, an item from Business Insider UK appeared in my news feed. The focus of the article was what not to do after a hypothetical nuclear detonation. Researchers discovered that the knee-jerk reaction from most would be to get in their car and drive away from the affected area as quickly as possible. Turns out, this is about the worst thing you can do because vehicles are such poor insulators from deadly nuclear fallout.

Here’s what’s recommend instead, according to Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:

“Your best shot at survival after a nuclear disaster is to get into some sort of “robust structure” as quickly as possible and stay there, Buddemeier said. He’s a fan of the mantra “go in, stay in, tune in.”

“Get inside … and get to the center of that building. If you happen to have access to below-ground areas, getting below ground is great,” he said. “Stay in 12 to 24 hours.”

The reason to wait is that levels of gamma and other radiation fall off exponentially after a nuclear blast as “hot” radioisotopes decay into more stable atoms and pose less of a danger. This slowly shrinks the dangerous fallout zone — the area where high-altitude winds have dropped fission products.

(Instead of staying put, however, a recent study also suggested that moving to a stronger shelter or basement may not be a bad idea if you had ducked into a flimsy one.)

Finally, tune in.

“Try to use whatever communication tools you have,” Buddemeier said, adding that a hand-cranked radio is a good object to keep at work and home, since emergency providers would be broadcasting instructions, tracking the fallout cloud, and identifying where any safe corridors for escape could be.”

Read the full article at Business Insider UK.

Regardless of the scenario, a preparedness kit should always include radio. Mobile phones have limited utility when the network infrastructure is disrupted or overloaded. TVs aren’t practical or portable.

Radios are a simple way of main-lining life-saving information during disasters.

But again, we radio geeks get it!

An EDC Bag for the Classic Sony ICF-SW100 Receiver

In a 2014 article, this site’s administrator Thomas Witherspoon introduced readers to the CIA’s Survival Kit which is housed in a superbly sturdy waistpack, the Maxpedition M-2. Thomas observed that the M-2 pouch is perfectly suited to holding the diminutive Sony ICF-SW100 receiver.

I was intrigued by that possibility, but only recently tried to combine the two after I resurrected another ICF-SW100 that fell silent to the chronic broken ribbon cable problem. Indeed, the radio is a perfect fit and the M-2 is impressively solid and well designed. I was not aware of the Maxpedition firm prior to learning of the M-2 bag, but I see in various forums they are a major player in well-made gear for the survivalist and outdoor enthusiast crowds. The M-2 is a very popular item, and one or more of the four available colors are sometimes out of stock at the manufacturer. Fortunately there are many sellers on Amazon and Ebay who have these waistpacks available.

What is EDC you may ask? It refers to “Every Day Carry”, the essentials that an individual deems necessary for their lifestyle or a particular activity. For me, an EDC bag is taken along on hikes or other outings to the countryside and typically contains a compact shortwave radio and related accessories. It’s always fun to stop for lunch or a break in a remote location and be able to search for interesting stations whenever the mood strikes.

This photo shows what I’m able to carry in the Maxpedition M-2 bag; a coffee mug is shown for size comparison. Contents of the “kit” include:

  • The Sony ICF-SW100 receiver
  • Zero Audio Carbo Tenore In-Ear Monitors & soft pouch
  • Sony AN-71 reel-up antenna
  • Panasonic RR-XS400 Digital Voice Recorder
  • Short 3.5mm male-to-male stereo audio patch cable
  • Two extra AA batteries for the Sony receiver
  • An extra AAA battery for the Panasonic Digital Voice Recorder

A few comments on the contents. The Zero Audio Carbo Tenore In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) provide excellent audio quality for their price. They are among a handful of IEMs regularly recommended by budget-minded audiophiles on the popular Head-fi.org site. I like these IEMs not only for the audio quality, but also their small size (in the cloth bag) which barely fits into the M-2’s main compartment along with the ICF-SW100. Larger earbuds or IEMs might not fit the M-2 without being mangled by the hefty YKK zippers. One caution: the similar Carbo Basso model by Zero Audio is deemed by many to be overly heavy on the bass frequencies. I find the Carbo Tenore to be more than sufficient for bass heavy genres like Electronica.

The Panasonic RR-XS400 digital voice recorder has been out of production a few years, but is a highly capable and compact recorder. It contains a hidden USB plug for charging and data transfer, has a fully featured and backlit LCD display, built-in stereo microphones, switchable LINE/MIC inputs, and other useful features. In excellent used condition the RR-XS400 is worth about $50 USD in 2017, despite some Amazon sellers trying to move them at the original $280 price.

The extra AAA battery for the recorder slips into the front pouch of the M-2 bag along with the Sony AN-71 antenna. The additional AA batteries for the radio, however, are held in the two “pen loops” on the left and right of the M-2. Despite these loops being open-bottomed tubes, the fit is tight enough to hold the batteries securely.

Like every portion of the Maxpedition M-2 bag, the belt loop is proportioned perfectly and sewn with precision. With the Sony ICF-SW100 EDC “kit” secured to my belt on a hike, I’m assured of quick access to a DXing opportunity, such as when hiking the Naches Loop Trail near beautiful Mt. Rainier:

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.

Dave’s Yaesu VX-3R notes

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow, who shares the following in reply to my recent post about the Yaesu VX-3R:

The VX-3R has a tiny internal ferrite bar for AM/mediumwave broadcast listening.

Yes, it’s indeed true the VX-3R is discontinued and is already pretty much sold out.

Rumors of a VX-4R has been around for years and let’s hope that happens–?? Have a sneaky feeling that IF it come to pass it will include C4FM digital (Yaesu Fusion) ?? I actually preferred the older VX-2R over the 3, but that was me (have reviews on both models on my web page). But my two VX-3R test samples were very early production (lots of QC bugs).

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/vx2r.html
http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/vx3r.html

As I cover on my news page Yaesu is coming out with a number of new HT’s soon.

Sorry no word of a tiny VX-3R replacement yet. Will of course cover that IF and when it happens on the web page.

http://webpages.charter.net/n9ewo2/news.html

Thank you, Dave!  I’ll certainly consider purchasing the VX-4R (if it comes to fruition) if for no other reason than to compare it with the VX-3R.

Again, I love this little all-in-one micro-sized HT as an Everyday Carry radio. If you’re interested in the VX-3R, your best bet will be to check with radio retailers like Universal Radio and Ham Radio Outlet for used/demo units. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, you might also follow a VX-3R search on eBay where I recently purchased an open box unit for $119 shipped.

Brian FM: a post-disaster FM radio station in New Zealand

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(Source: Radio New Zealand via London Shortwave)

Radio ‘nutters’ move in to help shaken Kaikoura

A fortnight after the Kaikoura earthquake, most of the businesses along West End, the town’s main street, are still closed – the interiors darkened, some shopfronts cordoned off.

But the door of one of those shopfronts is open, and from it, the strains of Brian FM come floating out.

Who’s Brian?

“I have no idea,” Chris Diack says.

“People are wanting to walk in and talk to Brian all the time and there’s no Brian – there’s Chris and Robert.”

Mr Diack and his offsider, Robert Jeffares, have been broadcasting from their makeshift studio for a week now, after convincing the owner of a local frequency that was not being used to let them take over.

The content is mostly “parish pump information”, says Mr Diack – the level of detail the rest of the country might not need to hear but which is invaluable to locals trying to find out where their next hot shower might be coming from.

“The water’s off, you can’t use the toilets, if you need to use the toilets use the portaloos, and where are they … Four Square’s open at midday, get along there and get some milk, bread and butter… You couldn’t buy butter for love nor money in Kaikoura.”

In between broadcasting the minutiae of post-quake life, they conduct interviews with the district mayor, civil defence, the Salvation Army, and errant RNZ reporters who wander in to the studio.[…]

Continue reading on Radio New Zealand’s website.

Hurricane Watch Net frequencies: monitoring “ground truth” observations

hurricane-matthew

As Hurricane Matthew makes its slow trek through the Caribbean, it is expected to have impact on the Bahamas, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. It has already battered Haiti and Cuba.

A few readers have asked about frequencies to monitor as the storm approaches.

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN)

hwn-hurricane-watch-netThe Hurricane Watch Net is a group of amateur radio operators who are trained and organized “to provide essential communications support to the National Hurricane Center during times of Hurricane emergencies.” The HWN focuses on “ground truth” observations (much like SkyWarn nets).

The Hurricane Watch Net is activated when a hurricane is within 300 statute miles of expected land-fall. The HWN covers the Caribbean, Central America, Eastern Mexico, Eastern Canada, and all US Coastal States.

The HWN operates in both English and Spanish, and is active on 14.325 MHz (upper sideband) during the day and 7.268 MHz (lower sideband) at night. The HWN is known to operate on both frequencies if propagation allows.

Please keep HWN frequencies clear

If you’re an amateur radio operator, please avoid using 14.325 MHz and 7.268 MHz anytime the HWN has been activated.

Other emergency net frequencies

ARRL Southern New Jersey Section manager, Skip Arey (N2EI), recently noted several other frequencies being used in the Caribbean:

“CO2KK reports the Cuba National Emergency Net is operating on 7110 primary, 7120 secondary in the daytime, with provincial nets on 7045, 7080 and possibly others. At night the primary is 3740 and secondary 3720. The main net control station is CO9DCN, operating from the Cuban National Civil Defense Headquarters, in Havana, with CO2JC in charge. Volunteer hams across the island nation are going portable to check on flooding of rivers and roads and plan to report in.

The Dominican Republic on Cuba’s eastern neighbor, the island of Hispaniola, is using 7065 kHz LSB for emergency communications.”

Please note these frequencies and, again, keep them clear of non-essential communications.

Monitoring hurricane frequencies

PL-660

If you have a shortwave radio with a BFO/SSB mode–and you live within the propagation footprint–you can monitor the Hurricane Watch Net.

Note that you’ll need to use upper sideband on 14.325 MHz and lower sideband on 7.268 MHz.

You can also monitor the Hurricane Watch Net via the following web stream: http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/20970/web

Click here to view the Hurricane Watch Net website.