Band Conditions

26 February 2019

It's not as sexy as an M4orgery, but it's more important.

When the whole militia movement was getting started in the 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have met the late Roger Cravens, whom some of you might remember from the old Patriots Information Mailing List. While Roger never directly contributed any material to Cybertek, he definitely helped out behind the scenes with a lot of stuff.

Cybertek... In 1990, after seeing way too much that could not be unseen, I started this little technological survival publication with the following message:

Cybertek exists because its producer feels that we are sliding downward to become more and more of a totalitarian society, and that part of the solution to this problem is to impart knowledge and information which is essential for people to have if they desire to exist as free citizens in a free country.  An ignorant populace is very easy for a tyrant to keep down, but people who are knowledgeable in the ways and means to live independently and fight totalitarianism are impossible for despotic state to have control over.  As James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, once said, "A people to mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."
Roger worked in an S3 shop in Vietnam. He turned me on to this system called JOPES - Joint Operation Planning and Execution System. JOPES is important because in essence it's a planning checklist, and helps you discover things you might have missed. By now you might have guessed that beans and bullets alone won't cut it. He was going to make me a copy of his old JOPES manuals, but this was back in the early days of OSINT, and I managed to find PDFs of them online and instead sent him updated versions of this manuals to cross-reference with the old ones. Wasn't much difference in the basic material, by the way. A Google search of "JOPES PDF" will still find what I found 20 years ago.

Proper planning prevents piss poor performance. It keeps you from making obvious mistakes, and helps you gain a realistic view and outlook on matters of importance.  Those of you who have attended a recent class have seen this picture in the presentation:
I use this picture as an example as a gross OPSEC and COMSEC violation, because when you zoom in on it, you see this:

MURS Channel 3 is part of a nationwide interoperability frequency plan created by AmRRON. If you are familiar with the term, you know that interoperability frequencies are not supposed to be operational frequencies. You should also know that operational frequencies should not be on lists like those found at https://radiofreeq.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/patriot-radio-channels/ and https://radiofreeq.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/militia-radio-frequencies/.

Going beyond showing everyone with halfway decent IMGINT capability what's your frequency, further investigation via the worlds greatest OSINT aid brings up these gems.
Nothing says "gross security error" more than trying to stop a video camera only to only have someone else take nice stills of you that not only shows your face and profile, but also what your kit looks like. Speaking of gear, planning also includes long term logistics so you don't have to send out a request asking for supplies like this one: https://starvinlarry.com/2016/01/10/from-carol-bundy-how-you-can-help-the-patriots-in-oregon/.

Now take a look at this guy:
Just minding his own business, reading his paper in a coffee shop, right? Well, that might depend on who is sitting near him, and what they're talking about. That nice watch on his wrist might be one of these:


And the people the next table over might be a local totalitarian political action group having a nice discussion over lunch.

I know. Dressing like a real-world human being and doing the planning and intelligence thing isn't as sexy as strapping on an M4orgey with all the assorted tactical fooferaw and getting in some camerman's face, armed with something that it easily outclassed in the high desert by a common varmint rifle, let alone an M24 in capable hands.

18 February 2019

Learning Electronics and Fixing CBs

A member of our FB group had posted up a question about learning electronics with a first goal towards being able to fix CB gear. That's a good idea, as I predict that 27 MHz. CB will become the retro jungle telegraph for non-technical down-grid and other marginalized types looking to escape the Internet and concentrate their efforts locally.

CB requires no individual/family license in the US, and has 40 channels that'll give you a consistent 15-20 mile range depending on local terrain and the quality of your setup. The secret, like any other radio service, is putting up a decent antenna. Many CBers have had positive experiences with the Solarcon A-99 half-wave vertical antenna.




If you are just starting out in electronics, I have found the best book for a total beginner to be Getting Started In Electronics, by Forrest M Mims III.

It's the book that got me started 36 years ago.

CBs are a good start for learning how to fix radios. They are common and can be bought cheaply on the used market. Look for older models. The newer ones use surface mount devices and while you can work on them, the older stuff with discrete thru-hole components is easier for beginners. The tools needed to work on the older stuff is cheaper and more readily available.

The #1 book for learning how to work on CBs is The Screwdriver Experts Guide, by Lou Franklin.  The asshole used book vendors on Amazon think their copies are made of gold, but you can buy it new directly from the author at www.cbcintl.com/segbook.htm.

A lot of the older CB gear can be shifted in frequency to operate on the 12, 10, and even 6 Meter ham bands, so when you and your buddies get your ham tickets you can take some of that 11 meter gear and repurpose it.  There were a number of "CB to..." articles in the back issues of 73 Magazine.

If you are interested in more formal personalized instruction in this sort of thing, please consider attending one of my classes.

16 February 2019

Radios

Many beginners, when faced with purchasing their first communications gear, invariably wind up buying cheap Chicom handhelds because that's what the masses have been getting. They then put them on a shelf thinking they will become proficient with them when the great TEOTWAWKI Zombie Apocalypse (tm) occurs. They are what we would call in the Army a "NO-GO" when it comes to communications. Commo is one of those basic things that you should be using now and regularly so you can become proficient in its use for when you actually need it.
 
Personal intra-group radios need to be uncomplicated, rugged, and reliable. That eliminates the common Chicom ham radio handhelds. There is no one one-size-fits all solution when it comes to comms, and you have to figure out some specific requirements when it comes to your communications needs. I offer classes that teach this sort of thing, based on my 35 years of working with radio and electronic communications. Here are a few possible solutions.


Until recently, my wife and I used commonly available FRS handhelds for short-range communications around the homestead. Why would a commo expert use them? They were cheap, simple to use, and LPI when you're only running 500mW into a small antenna in an extreme rural environment. They were also disposable and therefore no big loss if they were dropped in a run and livestock stepped on them. Since moving to a more densely-populated area we've since upgraded to MURS.


MURS is a nice suburban/rural license-free service. It has five channels on the VHF-high band with two-watts output power and an option to encrypt.  Range is similar to what you would get with a typical 2-meter HT.


Here is the currently gold standard in MURS radios. The Motorola RMM2050 operates on the five VHF-high band license-free MURS channels. Unlike the Chicom HTs everyone claims to be using on MURS, these are pretty simple and straightforward in operation. So simple even your Aunt Marge, herbalist and seamstress extraordinaire whose VCR is still blinking "12:00", can use it. MURS Channel 3 (151.84 MHz.) is the nationwide interoperability channel for survivalist-types. See https://amrron.com/communications-resources/ch3-project/ for more info.


If you're looking for something a little more private than MURS, the Motorola DTR series is what I would buy if I didn't live in the hills and have a ham license with a shack full of commo gear. License-free, 900 MHz. digital frequency hopping spread spectrum. Honest 2 mile range in most terrain, which means you'll be able to stay in touch with your group if they're within an hour's walk.

What do I use at present?
Surplus Part 90 VHF-high band HTs programmed on 2 Meter ham band and wideband MURS channels. When running on MURS, digital modulation is used and encryption is implemented.  While not frequency-agile, they are simple to use, and are mil-spec rugged. The VHF-high band is better suited for hilly rural terrain as compared to UHF. An upgrade is planned to a VHF LMR license, and again surplus Part 90 equipment with encryption and the capability to operate on adjacent ham bands will be used.

Want to learn how to choose the right communications gear?

Come to one of my classes this year. The current schedule is at https://www.sparks31.com/p/2019-classes.htm. My next class is scheduled for June 1-2, 2019 in Lynchburg, VA. To enroll, please visit https://squareup.com/store/sparks31. I am also available on a limited basis to teach private and group-sponsored classes in the Northeastern and Mid-Atantic US regions. My flat rate for these classes is $2000 for one-day instruction, $3000 for two-days. Subject matter covered includes basic electronic communications, communications monitoring/COMINT/SIGINT, and intelligence preparation. A $1000 deposit is required to schedule, with the balance due no later than 30 days before the start day of class. Payment can be made at https://squareup.com/store/sparks31, and then email me at sparks31wyo@gmail.com to arrange the date.

11 February 2019

Watching the Skies



When we did the Buckholts Texas class in 2014, we detected one of these flying overhead:
It was an RC-12 SIGINT aircraft, likely one from one of the reserve MI units based out of Texas. Not an uncommon occurrence on a weekend, as that's when reservists drill.

How did we notice it, and everything else in the sky that weekend?

By doing ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) with a laptop, $20 RTL-SDR dongle receiver, and some software.


Here is a screenshot from a few minutes ago of most everything currently in the air above NY state. That crowded cluster in the bottom right is New York City. Complements of https://global.adsbexchange.com/.

While being able to collect ELINT via a website is nice, you're better off doing it yourself. Even a basic setup will still let you see out to 100 miles of so, depending on the terrain.

This is something we'll be talking about, and teaching at class this year. The next class is June 1-2, 2019 in Lynchburg, VA - https://www.sparks31.com/2019/02/lynchburg-va-sparks31-class-june-1-2.html.

Enroll via https://squareup.com/store/sparks31/.