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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Communications at the Bundy ranch and future hot spots

Hi Everyone,
I have returned from the Bundy ranch, and am working on the ongoing project of setting up emergency radio communications systems for rapid deployment in situations like the Bundy family found themselves, following their stand against government tyranny.
I spent the best part of a week working for the safety of everyone at the ranch after being asked to go to Nevada by Stewart Rhodes. Stewart and the Oathkeepers organization made it possible, and I will work with them any time.
I am not disappointed at all with what we did on this first excursion to Nevada, considering the short 2 days we had to prepare.
My Dodge Minivan already had a scanner and a dual band FM  2 meter and 70cm radio and I had another just like it with me, that I set up at a local motel in a room that had good position that we could talk to the ranch, which was only 9 miles away.  I added a CB so I could get information from the truckers on the way down, before I left home.  I had also installed a dual band radio in Stewart's rented SUV and he was able to put that vehicle into the patrol rotation later using ham frequencies.
I had gone to the ranch on Friday shortly after I arrived, riding with another one of our crew, and gathered up those with Ham licenses, which turned out to be only two people on the whole site.  One of them is a good friend from Kalispell and he agreed to be the anchor on site with a split band operation and a dual band antenna that I had with me. We picked a location to set up that antenna and I told him I would be back the next day to do it.
That night we got the drone strike threat and an hour later my tech class ham friend showed up at the motel and said he was going on patrol.
We had been told to start up a night patrol with constant radio contact to patrol within about 25 miles in either direction from the ranch for the safety of everybody on site, and for advanced warning to get any info about what we saw out to the ranch and also out of the area however we could before any communications blackout could be put into effect. Using the dual band radios we were actually able to talk up to about 50 miles away at times depending on terrain.
I set up an antenna and dual band radio at the motel room and used a long term storage pack to run that radio so it couldn't be shut down by turning off the electric power in the room.  That radio was easily able to talk to our patrols because it's output was around 70 watts, and we used one 65 watt mobile, a dual band 50 watt mobile,  and some dual band handhelds with external antennas to do a once per hour radio check to make sure everyone was alright and still patrolling.  We did this from Friday night through Tuesday night, all night long from about 9 PM until about 5 AM each night.  During the day I used an  HF rig I had borrowed from WR7DW and a vertical antenna on my van to contact W4SVS in Florida, and WR7DW , and also K7BIR in Montana and several times we were able to all be on the same frequency simultaneously to maintain a signal path.
On HF during the day we used 14.345 on 20 meters, and later in the night we would switch to 80 at  3.838 .   We could vary the frequency as needed to get around interference, and the whole system worked quite well considering. We were able to maintain contact at all times and the patrol operators had some short range encrypted units to use between each other if they had to stop and should they get separated by a few hundred feet. These worked out to over a mile very well.
To see the whole band plan we are using see this document.
Here is our local band plan for the Eureka and Kalispell area.
Our obvious big deficit was having enough people with at least a tech class license to go on patrol, and we could have done a much better job if we could have had a few more high power mobile dual band radios for the vehicle, but I stayed with a Kenwood TM281 65 watt unit because they are low cost, have pretty good power, and it's what I could get on short notice, and the biggest reason is that it's so efficient that most any cigarette lighter socket will allow full power operation at 65 watts. We used magnet mount dual band antennas so we could switch the radios from vehicle to vehicle quickly to increase our transparency to the public.  We even equipped our handheld dual band radios with magnet mount external antennas and increased their range dramatically.
So much for what we did.   Now for what we could do given a little time and some money for preparations.
The ideal situation would be to have a communications crew, all with ham licenses, which could be composed of mostly tech class guys, along with at least two or three guys with General or Extra class licenses.  These guys would travel with several comm units consisting of one or two mobile vans with all band capabilities, and a few vehicles with patrol FM capabilities.  With a little more prep, we could set up a mobile command center in a travel trailer that could be pulled by any big pickup with a 2 " ball hitch to a site within about 10 or so miles of the center of action, and set up in a matter of a couple of hours. This trailer would have all band HF, VHF, UHF and digital capabilities including wireless internet to encrypted internet pier 2 pier secure data and chat, and digital HF single side band digital com on the ham bands. 
Ideally we could use a bumper pull 24 or 26 foot travel trailer with rear bedroom and a front dinette. The front dinette could be converted to permanent ham shack and the rear bedroom could be used by an off duty general or extra class ham for sleep so we could run a triple rotating shift 24/7.
This trailer would be comm HQ and a place where vehicle radios and handheld radios would be put in rotation for patrols, (checked in and checked out) and could be located off site in some higher location if possible.  It would have the capability of talking nation wide and world wide. This could serve as the communications hub for any operation around which we could run one or two vans with like capabilities using various spots on higher ground to back up these long range comms, and to relay from patrols to the trailer if the need arises. The trailer should have back up power including solar panels and a generator and storage batteries to be able to run the trailer and the radio gear during any power outage for extended periods. With the right planing we could equip this trailer with a big power amp, and a crank up tower that could swing a 3 element beam. While in Nevada I was able to talk repeatedly to Florida and Montana with only 100 watts and a vertical antenna, but 500 or 1000 watts would guarantee very solid HF communications almost regardless of band conditions. We can just switch bands and crank up the power to get the job done as needed. The beam antenna would amplify both incoming and outgoing signals for maximum range and effectiveness.
I have already talked to my Extra class buddies here in Eureka, and I am sure if we had some kind of trailer to work with we could set this up in a couple of weeks or three, assuming we had about 10 grand to put into the radio and power part of the project.  While in Nevada my whole station was solar powered.
If you have any ideas to add to this feel free to jump in.  We would like to finish our preparations with the comm van first and then pick up a few more radios for other vehicles for FM dual band operation.
If anyone reading this has any questions please feel free. None of this is set in stone, and any time you get a bunch of ham radio guys in a room together you are going to have lots of good ideas floating around.
If you would like to contribute to just the radio communications part of this project you can send donations to my PayPal account at the following email address:    Please make a note in the box as   Radio Project
For Checks, make them out to:
SLC Distributing
PO Box 116
Eureka MT 59917    put Radio Project in the memo line
or you can call us with your credit or debit card at 800 889 2839
Two more things. 
1.  In over 30 years of patriot activity I have NEVER asked outright for any kind of donation for my own projects or anything else for that matter, but this is very important, and the safety of the patriots at these kinds of activities may well depend more on communications than anything.
You will probably never hear of me asking for money again after this project is completed, but we can and will get this job done one way or another, and depending on what the rogue government does this project could be ongoing for a long time.
2.  Everything we did and will do is and was perfectly lawful and according to FCC regulations for Ham Radio in safety and emergency communications protocol and will be kept that way regardless of what other patriots do with their radios. We will NOT give agents of government any excuses to persecute us for trying to help people who are literally in the crosshairs of tyrannical government agents.
Donations will be used strictly for the communications project and are not tax deductible.
My time is voluntary and the funds go to purchase radio gear or power products and related equipment only.
At your service,

Paul Stramer KC7MEZ   800 889 2839     Look up my ham station on