On Friday December 9th, Stewart Rhodes and I jumped in my Radio van and headed for Ogden Utah for a one day meeting of leaders in northern Utah. We had people from Utah, Wyoming and from as far away as California attend the 4 hour meeting and many met for dinner afterward. I must say that I really enjoyed the trip, especially being able to visit with Stewart one on one for about 24 hours of driving.
Of course many of you know that my focus in Oath Keepers is communications, and Stewart asked me to outline for you what we are recommending for gear, and training, and kind of an operational roadmap for your local groups.
I can only tell you what works for us. I live outside of Eureka Montana about 20 miles from Stewart. North Lincoln county is a wonderful place to call home. My wife and I raised and homeschooled 8 children here, and I was a logger for 26 years here and in 4 other states including Alaska. But Eureka is where we love to be.
Here we have helped to build a rather large Amateur radio community. We have about 100 people who are monitoring our network, pretty much 24/7 / 365. We have 4 different communities within about 25 miles in the valley, and they are all tied together with radio. Some of those are ham radio operators, some have a GMRS license, and some refuse to get a license. All are welcome. So how do we do that? How do we tie all these people together?
So here we go.
Priority 1 is having a plan.
You MUST have some kind of band plan, and frequencies agreed upon. We use several bands. For those who have a ham license, we use mostly 2 meters, and 70 centimeters, or the 440 band. We also use the GMRS frequencies, for those who have GMRS licenses. We use three bands or groups of frequencies for those who have no license on any band, which are FRS, MURS, and CB.
Within each band we have certain frequencies we use, that we all understand, and have memorized. Because of the training we do, and because of the capabilities of the equipment we understand which frequencies to use for each situation, and that training is vital to the success of any communications plan.
Priority 2 is the training.
Having equipment won't do you much good if you don't know how to use it. It's one thing to be able to push the transmit button and talk from one handheld radio to another where both radios are on the same channel. It's quite another thing to be able to move around the band from one frequency to another easily and efficiently to pass critical information to where it needs to go. Any radio can be a tremendous asset, but used improperly it can also be a big liability. We highly recommend studying for and getting your Technician class Amateur (ham) radio license. The biggest reason to do so, is the training you get during the operational part of any classes you might attend, and the information on the regulations about where in the radio spectrum you can operate without causing a lot of hate and discontent on the bands, let alone attracting the attention of people you don't want coming around. You know who I mean.
To study for your ham license use the practice tests on www.qrz.com. You will need to register for the site by creating a username and password, then clicking a link they send to your email to verify you own the email address. Then log in and just use the practice tests until you are getting about 90% correct answers.
Then do a search on the same website for the hams in your zip code by changing the drop down search to Name/Address and putting in your zip code. Look for the Amateurs that are General or Extra class and ask them where the next test might be. If you have any questions, again call me. 800 889 2839.
For more reasons why this is important read my previous articles here:
For those who absolutely won't take a simple multiple choice test and get at least your Technician class ham license, there is the GMRS band. Understand that you won't have anywhere near the capabilities and range of the ham repeaters, but there are some advantages to GMRS. The big one, is that one GMRS license covers your whole family, without anyone taking a test of any kind. You just buy the license from the FCC and everyone can be given a unit number including children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, anyone in your family. But you only have 8 frequencies you can use, and they are UHF at about 462 MHz. The signal is more line of sight, but does penetrate building materials better than the lower frequencies of the VHF (2 meter) band.
Another advantage over the license free bands is power. A licensed GMRS user can run up to 50 watts output, into a gain antenna, which will get you maybe 25 to 40 miles range depending on terrain and conditions. You can also put up a GMRS repeater which will greatly increase that range, especially when you are using a handheld 5 watt radio.
You can buy a GMRS license here:
http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/ This is the Universal Licensing System of the FCC. Register for the website by creating a logon name and password, then get your FRN number, and then just buy a GMRS license.
The next step after you have it, is to call me to get your questions answered, and get some equipment.
Priority 3 is operational setup for your own area.
I have a conference bridge and can do teleconferencing with your group so you can all get your questions answered. Just call me for an appointment. We already have a national band plan you might want to look at as a model for your own local plan. See it here:
Your band plan can use ham repeaters, GMRS frequencies, and FRS,MURS, and CB if that is what your group members have available. Set up a call with your group and I will explain all that.
Remember that the cardinal rule of radio is "Ask lots of questions". 800 889 2839
Here are some important links for your education about radio:
www.fm2way.com Paul Stramer's radio store on line
www.irlp.net Internet Radio Linking Project, Eureka node is 3363
www.qrz.com Ham Callsign Directory. Type your zip code to get a list of hams in your area
www.artscipub.com/repeaters Find any Ham repeater in the USA
http://www.lincolncountywatch.org/emp.htm Find information on EMP protection
www.fm2way.com/goalzero Portable Solar power products like folding solar panels and storage devices
www.radioreference.com Nation Wide Frequency guide for all police and emergency services
http://www.lincolncountywatch.org/hamguidelines.pdf Shows ham regs allowing emergency comm and emergency operational guidelines.
http://www.lincolncountywatch.org/emergencycommplan.pdf The permanent link to the latest version of the Oath Keepers national comm plan.
http://www.qrz.com/db/KC7MEZ An example of an Oath Keeper ham radio base station for communications coordination. We use this type of station to tie all your non licensed people and your GMRS people and the local hams into a national network of information dissemination for safety and emergency comms. These stations are the key to making everyone aware of current situations. We also have mobile stations with these same capabilities.
http://www.amrron.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Hambands_color.pdf Ham Radio Bands Chart
Priority 4 Get good equipment without paying too much.
I recommend three different radios depending on what you are trying to do.
See them here:
Baofeng UV5R http://www.paulstramer.net/2016/12/baofeng-uv5r-special-christmas-sale.html
Anytone 3208 http://www.fm2way.com/fmhand.htm
Anytone 3318 http://www.fm2way.com/fmhand.htm
And for a more powerful mobile dash mount or base radio see the Anytone 50 watt AT5888U/V here:
I have been in the communications business since 1992, selling commercial business radio, CB radio, and ham radio equipment and systems. Here is my contact information:
Paul Stramer KC7MEZ WQVW245
PO Box 116
Eureka MT 59917
800 889 2839