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Breaker, Breaker 19, any other Preppers Out there?

Several of us see value in establishing communications with other preppers in my local community with a view to understanding who else is likely to be around after a major event.

We want to do this without compromising OPSEC, and feel standard PMR446 radio is a perfect mechanism for the task. As of the weekend of 17 March 2012, several of us located around the country will be “calling” on a regular and permanent basis in order to establish radio networked communities.

Any Preppers who want to join in are encouraged to do so. This is what we’re doing on an ongoing basis:

====================================================================================

When : Approximately on the hour, any hour day or night, any day of the week. For OPSEC this is planned to be a continuous ongoing random process.

If you have a PMR446 radio with you when you are out and about, you are encouraged to pro-actively CALL or at the very least monitor for activity.

Managing Expectation

Given the low density of preppers in the community, combined with the relatively short range of the PMR446 radios, do not expect to hear a whole lot of activity. Any valid two way communication will be a rarity. Extreme patience and persistence will be required.

CALLING & RESPONDING

CALLING STATION: Call = 5 second key-down on Channel 4, CTCSS code 32. REPEATED every 30 seconds.

There will be no “breaker -breaker 04” type calling, just a dead key carrier. This is intended to be a discreet activity that does not draw too much unwanted attention. Where available Roger Bleeps might be enabled as an aid to detection of end of transmission.

RESPONDING STATION: Response = 5 second key-down on Channel 5, CTCSS code 35, timed to start 10 (ten) seconds after you END the Call transmission.

If nothing heard, Calling station will continue “calling” for as long as possible.

If a response is detected, it will be verbally acknowledge with “UKS nnn here” where nnn is a pseudonym of the Calling party. It will be helpful to for the Responding person to give a similar format response.

Maybe we can use the UKS forum to create a thread recording and validating contacts that have been made?

IMPORTANT : OPSEC

For OPSEC, both calling and responding stations are encouraged to operate away from home/BOLs, and to keep radios under-cover, using earpieces/remote PTT buttons to monitor/transmit. Ideally operating should be on foot (while I’m walking the dog is my favourite cover), or from stationary vehicles.

Validating genuine calls, and filtering out nuisance /copy-cat calls

Experiments have identified that there are very often same channel, copy-cat dead key responses to test calls.

Validating genuine CALL/RESPONSE is a combination of;

Correct Channel PLUS Correct timing PLUS Correct CTCSS code.

IMPORTANT All three elements have to be correct for the CALL/RESPONSE to be valid.

However for practical reasons, the timing of the CALL does not have to be precise against GMT. Timing precision needs to be accurate compared to the END of the CALL transmission. RESPONSE must be 10 seconds (+/- 2 seconds) after the END of the CALL.

For radios that show the precise CTCSS frequency, CTCSS code 32 = 203.5 Khz and CTCSS code 35 = 225.7Khz.

Local Interference

If there are interference issues encountered we will use the same protocol but on different channels pairs. eg:

Call Response listened for on
Ch 1 CTCSS 32 Channel 2 CTCSS 35
Ch 2 CTCSS 32 Channel 3 CTCSS 35
Ch 3 CTCSS 32 Channel 4 CTCSS 35
Ch 4 CTCSS 32 Channel 5 CTCSS 35
Ch 5 CTCSS 32 Channel 6 CTCSS 35
Ch 6 CTCSS 32 Channel 7 CTCSS 35
Ch 7 CTCSS 32 Channel 8 CTCSS 35
Ch 8 CTCSS 32 Channel 1 CTCSS 35

Looking forward to many hours of fun!!!

73 (radio code for good luck)

UKS Fred (not my real name of course!)

24 comments to Breaker, Breaker 19, any other Preppers Out there?

  • Bug out Bag

    Hi Lightspeed, I’m in!
    73s, BoB 🙂

  • mike

    So what about call signs then?
    I’m trying to get said radio within a couple of weeks, BUT would it not be better for us to have a clear and known call sign list for all members even if they dont yet have access to a radio just in case they do at a later date? or do we just p.m. everybody with a call sign when we have a radio and decided upon one?

  • Lightspeed

    Welcome to the party BoB!

    Please share with us the results of your efforts.

  • Lightspeed

    Mike,

    Thanks for your comment. I have just deleted a long answer as to why callsigns are not the way to go. Indeed the group who are starting activity this w/e will not be using callsigns, just the operating Protocol to identify other “probable” preppers. This protocol also allows for most inconspicuous operation…. a radio in the pocket of a jacket can be operated by touch alone, and if monitoring is by earphone, to a casual glance we’ll simply look like we’re listening to an MP3 or a mobile phone.

    But the idea of unique call signs is good. I think if we go that way, the callsigns should be free format, like old CB “handles”. But we could keep an open access log of them here on the UKS site. Simply posting callsign details as comments to this article would suffice. Maybe callsigns and comments should be innocuous, such as:

    ———————————————————————
    COMMENT

    CALLSIGN: BOB37

    ———————————————————————

    Or perhaps more usefully:

    ———————————————————————-

    COMMENT

    CALLSIGN: MIKEB99 OPERATING in Postcode GU19

    ———————————————————————

    There are more than 1500 post codes in UK, each covering a pretty large area, so OPSEC would only be marginally compromised by declaring them. But knowing that there are active communications from other preppers in one’s own general location might motivate more people to join in?

    Its up to each of us to decide whats right for us. Comments on the viability of callsigns and declaration of operating location from other potential communicators will be helpful in deciding the advantages and potential pitfalls of this idea….

  • Paul

    Good idea but there are a few souls out there that need to communicate a bit further than line of sight. I use CB like quite a few others round me. Granted there is no security and in some parts of the country the channels are full of foul mouthed, music playing idiots BUT it ain’t all bad.
    In an emergency I’m banking on the loss of electricity killing off most of the idiots anyway.
    My comms is 360 degrees S5-R5 for only 5 miles round me and drops off to rubbish over 9 miles. That’s three small villages and a couple of hamlets. Plenty of opportunity for getting or providing help. UHF comms is fine round towns or cities BUT you’ll soon have to leave those when it all goes pear shaped and the countryside is where most will aim for and UHF just won’t cut it.

    • Lightspeed

      Hi Paul,

      Agreed that most of the idiots polluting CB frequencies will be off the air immediately mains power dies, leaving more serious use of those frequencies more room to operate.

      Your knowledge of your CB equipment’s operating footprint is excellent, and is exactly what everyone needs to know for their installation, be that operating on CB or PMR frequencies.

      The experiment with PMR 446 is purely because of the wide availability, low cost, and ease of use of the equipment.

      My home station has a very different footprint to yours. Using 1/2 watt power FM on the UHF band with a hand-held transceiver(similar to the PMR446 standard) I can achieve reliable two way communications more than 12 Km in one direction but less than 3km in others. This is due to geography. By using the same power, but fed into an external antenna on top of my roof these ranges more than double.

      There is no reason at all why you shouldn’t testing using CB equipment in parallel. In fact it would be a very useful comparison. We just need to stay within the current legal requirements for power, frequency and modulation type so as not to incur the wrath of the authorities.

      Cheers

      L

    • Lightspeed

      Paul,

      I am now really pushed for time now, and to be honest I am very out of date on CB technology… Could you devise and post here an operating protocol for CB that will keep us below the radar of the idiots?

      Cheers

      L

  • Skean Dhude

    I would suggest that call signs for the tests simply be postcodes so you have a rough idea where you can reach. I think that most of us will be disappointed with the range at first.

    As you get to know others then you can exchange details and have some proper call signs then but are not compromising OPSEC at this stage for perhaps no benefit.

    You can then agree protocols and location details via email or PM on the forum.

    • Lightspeed

      Good Idea SD

      I am starting to think that publishing callsigns alongside the operating protocol is a recipe for disaster.

      Any muppets hearing a strange callsign would be able to do a web-search and track the callsign back to this site and thus discover the operating protocol…. then they could have endless fun giving false responses…. This is absolutely not wha we need.

      By only publishing the first part of the post code of an operation location, others could PM to swap callsign details completely privately.

  • Paul

    LS.
    I’m guessing you’re a licenced radio ham as a similar UHF system smacks of 70cm comms or Hi band PMR.

    My CB handheld works on 80 channels (switchable modes and channels via a country code). So I can base or mobile it as I always use AA Nimh power.
    I’ve never been tied to a hard wired or snatch plate CB as I’ve always had to jump from vehicle to vehicle and I use a simple extendable mag mount in cars.
    My home aerial is an inverted V running under the eaves and cabled via an aerial tuning unit to the top of my handheld via a BNC plug. If you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t see it. I haven’t a clue how to easily describe in text what to do but a simple picture would solve that problem so if you want I’ll email one to you.
    As for operating beneath the radar. All CB comms is plain language so is easily interceptable and tracked. That’s the nature of CB. Anyone who is an old timer CB’er or ham knows how to “fox hunt” a base station. Hence the old phrase BUCK FUSBY.(Old time CB’ers will fondly remember that one.)
    Opsec really boils down to camouflaging your base aerial, watching your signal meter, and looking out for someone driving slowly along the road.
    We all use first names round here on channel 7 UKFM. Problem is there are 3 Paul’s and 4 Alans but we all seem to cope OK.

    I suppose you could use the standard maritime 2182khz watch times of on the hour and half hour for 3 mins and a nominated channel or the usual emergency channel 9 in crisis times.
    So, if you want to try for a national call round, try on the hour and half hour for 3 mins, say channel 7, global call sign of “survival” and take it from there in plain English.
    Experience has taught me that the best chance of contacting my pals is when the kids are at school, teas nearly on the table, the kids programs or the soaps are on the TV, or after 22h.
    But like everything, nothing ever works like it should do.

    • Skean Dhude

      Paul,

      That brings back some memories.

    • Lightspeed

      Hi Paul,

      Sorry for the slow reply…

      Yes, I’m licensed, as you guessed. My interest in radio stems form the good old days of AM and SSB CB. Interestingly, SSB CB is starting to be legallised in EU ( France and Germany if my memory is correct) For sure UK legislation is going to drag its heels, but I think we’ll have SSB CB here at some time. I can’t wait 🙂

      Your reply reminded me that I still have an old UK CB FM Midland rig. Last time I listened with it was a couple of years ago and there was absolutely nothing happening in my area. ( Postcode SP10 by the way). As part of the survivor network experiment, I’ll dust it down and get ot on air again to see what’s happening.

      I’ll try a little fishing on Channel 7 as you suggest. I don’t like using “survival” in the call. Its too intriguiging and might draw too many questions. I’ll call with something like “Luton Transit Transit, Luton Transit Transit, this is LTT-Fred looking for any LTT stations”. LTT is nothing to do with vehicles, but my abbreviation for = Live To Tell, ha ha!!!

      It sounds like there are quite a few active CB stations in your area. I wonder how many CB stations are still active in UK? How many of the survivor community have CBs do you think? I’ll post a poll on the forum to see if we can get an idea of numbers. If there are enough of us, it might be useful to try to network a little.

      Nice idea about the dipole. It will be simple to rig up. Just folding back the nds of it progressively will achieve a good SWR match without any need for a tuning unit.

      73, and keep the siny side up!

  • Paul

    Hello lightspeed.
    I used to DX regularly on SSB when serving overseas. Fell in love with “free air” and never really looked back.

    Not really on subject but the problem for me with being a licenced amateur is the authorities know who and where you are. If push comes to shove they could come a’knocking in the same way they could with licenced gun owners.
    Not a good thing being on any govt list during a crisis especially if that list gives them access to your premises when ever they want. After all most preppers or survivalists have at least one item that the authorites would find “interesting”.

    Back on subject, there are 7 CB sets that our little group knows about within our local area and one “currently silent” muppet who played music the whole time until a couple of guys serviced his coax with an axe.

    • Lightspeed

      🙂

      Hi Paul,

      Great to hear that you have an active CB net still running.

      Shame about idiots, they’ve always been there and I guess will continue to be a nuisance for the forseeable future. Very funny about your friend’s measures to dissuade him! A more subtle approach, and one that is horribly difficult to diagnose is to stick a few fine wire pins through the coax to short out the braid and the central conductor…..difficult to find and guaranteed to blow the output transistors if ignored 🙂

      I had some fun this last weekend. I ran trials with an back pack low power radio staion that I constructed over the winter. Its an old aluminium framed rucksack onto which I have mounted a folding antenna mount designed for truck wing mirrors. Onto that attaches a small multi-band vertical antenna. The neat thing is that the antenna is vertical while walking with the rucksack on my back, but can be rotated to be vertical with the ruck sack laid on the ground.

      ….. it proved to be a highly effective. Using between 5 and 10w on SSB I achiened pan-european contacts. Also, I was able to get contacts with east coast USA and Canada, one contact with Turkmenistan, and one with Algeria. This station is not yet optimised, antenna resonance was a long way from perfect, and I had no time to cut and deploy ground radials ( groundplane was just the ruck sack’s aluminium frame!!!) Some of the European contacts were on 10m, the band adjacent to CB (11m), so the same setup will certainly work for a portable CB station, by just substituting the antenna for a DV 27 CB whip ( or similar).

  • Skean Dhude

    Paul,

    Thats the problem with the Stasi. They have so many lists. List of;
    Firearm Owners
    Radio hams
    Serious criminals
    Survivalists
    Light Aircraft pilots
    Poachers
    Political Activists
    etc.
    etc.

    Need more men than they have to check them all and anyone dumb enough to keep something illegal in their own home whilst they are expecting visits from the Stasi need their heads examining.

  • Paul

    LIGHTSPEED
    Stapler firing tacks works a treat too.
    But, older – – a tad wiser – – and ‘orribly legal, I’m content to let the young bucks do their thing.
    I didn’t mind on AM days “becuze of me BURNER”.
    Having to put up with FM spoils the headphone fun of hearing distant voices nowerdays. I haven’t even got a key now. Not that there are many “free air users” that can even read morse now.
    As for backpacking to DX? Sorry, car wins everytime, bigger groundplane (and ciggy plug for tea maker).

    Skean Dhude
    Yep, big brother has us all listed. Love him to come round though, if he can find anything more illegal than my “witty sense of humour” , he’s welcome to it. Besides, dog needs feeding.

    • Lightspeed

      Paul,

      You couldn’t get even the best 4x4s up to some of the places I go…. but I know what you mean, cars are comfy convenient and dry…..I guess I must just be perverse!

      No plug in tea makers at my wilderness BOL where I was operating. Just me and my hound, a little open fire, and a lot of scenery 😉

      If you have time, have a look on You Tube for some clips of an even crazier radio man than me…He climbs serious mountains with all of his gear being lugged up by his tame goats “Rooster and Peanut”…..Its all very amising. He’s american of course. ( search for the goat’s names)

      …… actually, the goat thing might be a good idea. If I get a couple of goat sherpers like those two, they’d be great transport any provisions should I ever need to evacuate to my wilderness BOLand once there, in addition to the extra provisions that they’ll have carried, I’ll have fresh meat as well:-) Maybe the american gentleman is more cunning than he appears?

      Cheers

  • Paul

    Getting back to OPSEC,
    Callsigns apart, its almost impossible to speak to unknown operators without some sort of code to keep “undesirable” elements from evesdropping i.e. GCHQ

    With CB and PMR it’s easy.
    Older CB’ers may remember “the quacker”. A rudementry voice scrambler dead popular in the mid 70’s with the old 14 channel AM sets. Small box sat in the mic lead.
    I used to use 3 element alfa-numeric PAGER codes between me and other half. Hope no one cracked the code though as some of the calls were “interesting” to say the least.
    It was all thanks to the Chinese that used to use their pagers as covert messaging systems. Whole dictionaries were (and still are) printed and downloadable using fttp from bulletin boards. Just a great shame the UK shut down the old pager system. Even if they were still listening it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to them as a lot of coding was regional and personal.
    So just how will you hams transmit encrypted messages without getting busted as you have to TX in plain voice?

    • Another_blasted_"M6"_station

      Paul,

      Regarding your comment on pagers: I can happily confirm pager networks are still operating in the UK. The BBC in particular is responsible for wrongly stating the networks were shut down… In actual fact; it was mainly just the BT/Mercury paging service (admitedly the largest in it’s day) that got shut down.

      Vodafone’s “Vodazap” and the PageOne pager networks are still operational with almost complete UK coverage. They show no sign of shutting down as a considerable number of people and companies still use them. Lots of automated machinery and monitoring systems still use it for emergency alerts etc. This is to say nothing of the continued hospital and emergency service use of the system too.

      Vodafone won’t sell PAYG pagers anymore but; you can still buy one second-hand off the evilbay. They will work fine although you may need to re-register the pager serial number to get a new 07-type number for it if it has been inactive for some time. You may have to hunt around for the right phone number to do this on. Standard customer services people usually don’t even know the Vodazap service is still running.

      Obviously use whatever details you like for the re-registration… Getting an active pager number is the only thing that matters.

      You can actually (albeit not technically legally) monitor Pager transmissions as they are sent out in cleartext nationwide for each frequency (these available online.) You just need a VHF-capable scanner/receiver, an audio jack connection to a computer mic input and some pager decoding software which is readily available online. Only some of the “blue-light” govt services use any encryption at all. I’m told by others (cough..cough…) you can pick up a lot of interesting messages still…

  • Lightspeed

    Hi Paul,
    No, I don’t rememberthe voice scrambles, but I do remember the old low channel count rigs. In fact I still have a 5 channel crystal controlled unit in bits somewhere.

    You are right, hams have to transmit (currently) in plain voice. Often split frequency is used so that only one half of any conversation is easily monitored. Making that a cross-band split makes the task of finding the alternate frequency even harder, especially so if transmisions are kept short. This is kind of behind the thinking of the PMR446 ident protocol I proposed.

    Also hams are now using a very effective fprm of tone keying calles PSK31 that allows worldwide low powered data communications.After a catastrophic event, I guess that, although open access code, this format will be a reasonably secure system of encryption, simply by vrtue that few survivors will heve the IT capability to decode it.

    Your discussions on CB have gotten me thinking that it might be a good idea to look at that band after all. Have you any idea of the numbers of active CB stations in UK? I’m guessing it will be less than 10,000?????

    The poll I’m running on the Forum support the use of CB, although we have had so few votes so far, thatthe result is inconclusive.

    I will be dusting off my old 27/81 gear over the next week, and will be firing it up to see what is going on over the easter holidays.

    73 de

    Lightspeed.

  • Paul

    Hi Lightspeed
    I wouldn’t even know how to go about even guessing that figure today.
    In 2000, I was driving for a living and constantly using my CB 24/7. I never got lost, always found cheap fuel, and got more than my share of free meals by kind breakers. You could even get discounts in truck stops and some more emlightened motels. My QSL box held over 2000 cards.
    Basically since the dreaded mobile phone was born, it’s tailed off. Dxing now I hear lots on skip but I’m North / South polarised which is a distinct disadvantage. Besides I’m boringly legal nowerdays so no burners. I refuse to put up a Shakespere Big Stick and light a tube though as I like “low profile”. Besides being called paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t listening to you. Ho hum.

  • Lightspeed

    All your talking about old time CB operating has brought back a lot of happy memories.

    So much so that I’ve found myself looking at some of the little 10m rigs that will tune through the 11m band.

    I have a feeling that before too long I’m going to have a rig like this in the car. Of course I’ll only be using it legally, but 11m will be there just in case!!

    The ones i’ve seen will give 10 or 12w SSB/FM/AM and some even have CW capability.

    I think I’ll have to keep this all well away from Mrs Lightspeed!!

    🙂

  • Skean Dhude

    Lighspeed, Possession is not illegal just use. All the items I possess are illegal to use in some way. I possess them and choose not to use them that way. In the future when our mickey mouse country collapses under the strain of making sure that our recycling bins are fully closed and smokers are demonised in their own homes and other such things then I may start using them for other purposes.

    I think you will be fine with you new toys. If she does give you grief then find her favourite Toy and tell her it will be removed because she may do …. with it. Find something suitable.

    • Lightspeed

      Hi SD,
      My license permits me to own and use this sort of equipment. As long as I only transmit on the bands I’m licensed for, there is no issue whatsoever.

      L

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