Yaesu FT-897D Ham Radio – Part #1

Yaesu FT-897Dnote: article first appeared in February 2015

Yaesu has been putting out high quality products for a very long time.  The FT-897R is no exception. This is the HF radio I purchased and I am extremely glad I did. It meets or exceeds every expectation I have for a quality HF rig, then it throws in an added bonus – UHF/VHF.

I will go through my standard outline of reviewing this radio based on its designated mission and requirements.  But before I move on I want to tell you the best feature of this HF rig – it also handles my

Yaesu FT-897D with LDG AT-897 auto-tunerfavorite bands 2m & 70cm as well!  The 6m band coverage is built-in as well.  Way more bang for the buck than I imagined.  Let’s get started on the rest of the info…

 

Mission –

Provide reliable clear communications over the HF Ham frequency band for both disaster and ”grid-down” situations in the field or function as a base station.

Requirements & Limitations –
  1. Must be able to access all HF (High Frequency) band frequencies.
  2. Must be a sturdy radio fully capable of hard field use.
  3. Must be 12vDC compatible.
  4. Must be easy to computer program.
  5. Must have headset jack.
  6. Should have internal batteries
The Good & Less Good
  1. Absolutely great to have the added bonus of 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands in the 897!!  This unit is the ultimate “grid-down” radio.Yaesu FT-897D dual antenna hook-up.
  2. You can hook up two antennas to this unit.  One for the UHF/VHF bands, the other is for HF & 6m bands.  Really a sweet option if you are going for an “all-in-one” radio.
  3. Mic is a mini-remote control unit for the radio.  It can step through the menus on the mic just like using the front panel.
  4. Very solid and reliable.
  5. Easy to program via the RT Systems programming software.
  6. Read the manual and use on-line resources to understand the full capability and operation of this radio.
  7. Use an automatic tuner and this radio rocks!
There are some minor, very minor, drawbacks:
  1. I have heard of, but not experienced, some minor RF interference on the mic from being too close to an antenna.  My antenna is nowhere near my mic so I have not had this problem.
  2. The manual doesn’t cover everything this radio is capable of.  Use on-line resources for additional information.
  3. If HF is crowded and busy, the radio is not the best out there.  But it doesn’t cost $5000 either.
  4. The internal speaker is adequate but not the best quality.  Use an external speaker or headset for high-quality listening.
The Details –Yaesu FT-897D in the field

The FT-897D is a rugged, innovative, multi-band, multi-mode portable transceiver for the amateur radio MF/HF/VHF/UHF bands. Providing coverage of the 160-10 meter bands plus the 6m, 2m, and 70cm bands, the FT-897 includes operation on the SSB, CW, AM, FM, and Digital modes. And it’s capable of 20-Watt portable operation using internal batteries, or up to 100 Watts when using an external 13.8-volt DC power source (standard 12vDC operation).

The new FT-897 ″D” version includes coverage of the U.S. 60-meter (5 MHz) band, along with the 0.5 ppm TCXO Unit, at no additional charge. The coverage is HF 160 to 10 meters (including 60 meters) plus 50/144/430 MHz VHF/UHF. Receive coverage is:  0.1-56, 76-108, 118-164 and 420-470 MHz.

  • TX Frequency Coverage: 160-10 Meters, 50 MHz, 144 MHz, 430-450 MHz, plus Alaska Emergency Chan. (5167.5 kHz).
  • RX Frequency Coverage: 100 kHz-56 MHz; 76-154 MHz; 420 – 470 MHz. (Exact frequency range may be slightly different)
  • Power Output: 100 watts HF-6M, 50 watts 2 M, 20 watts 70 cm. (20 watts on battery)
  • Operating Modes: USB, LSB, CW, AM, FM, W-FM, Digital (AFSK), Packet (1200/9600 FM).
  • Digital Modes: RTTY, PSK31-U, PSK31-L, and User defined USB/LSB (SSTV, Pactor, etc.).
  • S. Weather Band reception.
  • Built-in 3-Message Memory Keyer.
  • Multi-Color LCD Multi-function Display.
  • Bar-Graph Metering of Power Output, ALC, SWR, Modulation.
  • Optional Narrow CW and SSB Filters.
  • AGC Fast-Slow-Auto-Off Selection.
  • RF Gain/Squelch Control/IF Control.
  • Built-in Noise Blanker.
  • AM and FM broadcast reception.
  • Dual VFOs, Split Capability, IF Shift, and R.I.T. (“Clarifier”).
  • Wide/Narrow FM Selection.
  • AM Aircraft Reception.
  • Dedicated SSB-based Digital Mode for PSK31 on USB/LSB, AFSK RTTY, etc.
  • Built-in CW Electronic Keyer and Semi-Break-In.
  • Transverter Interface Jack.
  • Built-in VOX.
  • Carry Handle.
  • Built-in CTCSS and DCS.
  • ARTS™ (Auto-Range Transponder System).
  • Smart Search™ Automatic Memory Loading System.
  • Spectrum Scope.
  • 200 Regular Memories, plus Home Channels and Band-Limit (PMS) Memories.
  • Alpha-Numeric Labeling of Memory Channels.
  • Automatic Power-Off (APO) and Tx Time-Out Timer (TOT) Features.
  • CAT System Computer Control Capability Cloning Capability.
  • Battery-Powered Field Operation
  • Base Station Operation
  • Rugged, High-Output Power Amplifier
  • Built-in Digital Signal Processing
  • Outstanding Features for the CW Expert

Battery-Powered Field Operation

The bottom side of the FT-897 contains a “power source tray” which can accommodate up to two of the optional 13.2 Volt, 4500 mAh FNB-78 Ni-MH Battery Packs. This gives it completely portable operation without any external power source. Maximum power output is 20 Watts (all bands) during battery operation, and with two FNB-78s you may expect up to eight hours of operating time (TX 5%, RX 5%, standby 90%). What’s more, you can charge one of the FNB-78 Battery Packs while operating the FT-897 off the other pack—ideal for situations where solar or other power sources are available.

The optional CD-24 Charge Adapter provides the necessary voltage for charging, and it may be used in conjunction with an external 13.8 Volt source, or the optional PA-26 AC Adapter may be used to power the CD-24.

DC 13.8V Mobile Operation

Using the FT-897D in mobile operations is pure joy! The combination of the FT-897 and the ATAS-120 Auto-Tune Antenna System provides automated operation from HF through the UHF spectrum!

Using an external 13.8 Volt power source, you get a full 100 Watts of power output on HF and six meters (144 MHz: 50 W, 430 MHz: 20 W).

Base Station Operation

The FT-897’s outstanding fundamental performance invites expansion into a full-featured base station. The optional FP-30 Internal Power Supply provides operation from AC sources, and the clamp-on FC-30 Automatic Antenna Tuner option expands the impedance range of the transceiver. Round out your station with the MD-200A8X Deluxe Desk Microphone and the VL-1000 Quadra System Linear Amplifier for world-class performance at home!

The power source tray of the FT-897 is designed to accommodate the optional FP-30 Internal Power Supply, allowing full-power operation from 100-120 V or 200-240 V AC power sources. The quiet switching-regulator design of the FP-30 is tolerant of AC input voltage variations, making it ideal for DX-pedition use! And to extend the impedance bandwidth of your antenna system, the innovative FC-30 Automatic Antenna Tuner option clamps onto the left side of the FT-897 in seconds!

Rugged, High-Output Power Amplifier

Achieving 100 Watts of power output from such a compact package is a difficult mechanical and electrical engineering task. On HF, push-pull 2SC5125 Bipolar transistors driven by push-pull 2SK2975s provide the 100-Watt power capability, while on VHF maximum efficiency during battery operation is yielded by 2SC3102 bipolar PA transistors. The rugged aluminum die-cast chassis provides a solid foundation for the heat sink for the power amplifier, with a total of almost 40 cubic inches of heat sink surface area available. With its thermostatically-controlled twin cooling fans, the FT-897 will stand up to the rigors of DX-pedition or home contest use, with dissipation capability to spare!

Built-in Digital Signal Processing

The FT-897 includes a wide array of analog and DSP filters to help you dig out those weak DX signals on a crowded band! One-touch activation of the DSP filters, plus a convenient “DSP” LED on the front panel, enhance the ease of using the DSP. DSP Bandpass Filters, Noise Reduction, and Auto-Notch Filter circuits are included.

Look for Part #2 in this review of the 897 tomorrow for information on antenna, accessories, etc.

This is a “BUY!”

 

 

 

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Yesterday & Today : Pain !

Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-down

note: first appeared April 2015

Wow! Normally I have my articles ready days in advance to be published each morning. This morning I held off on it because I wanted to share with you something that came to light yesterday. Health & Physical Fitness.

I am 59, great health, and good physical condition. I do physical training 3 – 6 times a week. My normal workout consists of jogging, walking, push-ups, sit-ups and occasionally weight lifting. When I jog I go for 2 – 3 miles at a stretch. I have a specific routine that I worked on for years to meet the physical demands of my job. Annually I am tested to ensure I am field-ready. I have to walk 3 miles in 45 minutes or less wearing a wildland firefighter pack test45lb weight vest. That is a 4mph pace.

Now, before you roll your eyes and think how easy it is, try it yourself. If you are sub-30 years of age you should be able to do it easily if you maintained a healthy life-style and stayed active. If you are 30 – 40 it shouldn’t be much of a stretch for you if you are in good shape and play sports, hike, bike, etc. If you are over 50 you probably can’t do it, period…unless you have trained and work-out for it. As I turn 60 next week I can easily do it but my hips hurt like crazy during the last mile and for the next day. Yesterday was that test.

My hip hurt more than normal yesterday but I still had a very respectable time. I even beat a number of the 40-somethings. Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downBut we had a work project to do yesterday as well. So immediately after the test I changed clothes and we headed off to the mountains to work on a thinning project. There were large piles of cut limbs and tree trunks waiting for us to chip. Thank means we pull the piles apart, drag the stuff to the chipper. and repeat until the pile is gone. Then go on to the next pile.

Some of you might be wondering why a US government firefighter supervisor is doing such manual labor. Well, when we are not fighting fire we do “project work” to help maintain federal lands to make them more resistant to wildfire. And, if I am going to ask my guys to do it, then I am going to do it as well. I don’t go on all the projects but enough of them to show that I only ask them to do what I am willing to do as well. And to remember what I am asking of them.

So the average age of these guys is in the 28 – 32 age range. And they are all in very impressive physical shape. And the only thing I have going for me is my ego. I won’t be out-done!

So we wrapped it up yesterday about 3:00pm and headed in, cleaned up and went home. Yeah, and then it started…the pain.

I took an Aleve. Then I laid down. Then I got up to eat dinner and took two Ibuprofens. Then I laid back down. I went to bed at 8:00pm.

I got up this morning at 5:30am which is usual for me. But…and that is a serious “but” that I speak of. I was hurting. My hips hurt a lot, my back hurts some, as does my arms. And I am worn out.

So why in the heck am I sharing this with you? Simple…at least it’s simple to me.

During times of emergencies, disasters, but most assuredly during a “grid-down” it will be very physically demanding. Probably far exceeding whatever you might normally be used to. So I make the following suggestions, have an exercise routine that is right for you:Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-down

1 – The #1 thing to do is walk. I would suggest you make a target of walking a minimum of 10-miles per week, in a minimum of 2-mile increments. Walking might well be the #1 thing you will do during rough times, and a lot of it.

2 – Lift weights. No, I am not talking about body-building weight lifting. I am talking about Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downcommon-sense kind of weight lifting. Start with maybe 5lb dumb-bells and doing regular curls, French curls, then overhead press, then tricep lift, etc. Work up to maybe 5 reps of 10 curls each. Do that for a maximum of 90-days and move to the next higher 5lb increment. It’s really up to you, but weight lifting can really improve your health, mental and physical, while improving your core strength.

 

3 – Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downPush-ups. Yeah, good old fashion push-ups are great for you. You don’t have to be some one-armed or one-legged push up crazy person but just do them at your own pace. For me I do mine inclined. I broke my back in three places over 25 years ago in a house fire. Since then I have to do my push-ups with my shoulders at about 2’ higher than my feet to take some of the stress off of my back. Or I can do push-ups from my knees vs. my toes (called a woman’s push-up in the old days). When I am at the track doing my jogging I stop on every lap and do a set of push-ups. So when I am done with my 3 mile jog I have done 90 – 180 push-ups as well.

4 – !!!Stretch!!! This is the single most important part of exercising! I spend about 6 minutes stretching before I do my Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downjog with push-ups. I do the following:

  • Arm windmills.
  • Arm stretching to the front and then to the rear.
  • Next I do toe touches with my feet together.
  • Then ground touches with my feet about should width apart.
  • Then ground touches with my feet spread as far as they will comfortably go.
  • Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downThen 12” from the ground touches with my feet crossed over each other (outside of one foot laid alongside of the other foot). I do each foot twice.

5 – When I am done jogging and the push-ups I do the same stretch routine and add:

  • Holding a 3” fence post with one hand I swing each leg forward/up and backward/up as far they will go.
  • Holding a 3” fence post with both hands I swing each leg left/up and right/up as far they will go.

This exercise routine has done wonders for me! Since doing it passionately week after week my lung capacity has significantly improved. My blood pressure is now 108/68. And my stamina is far better than when I was lazy and wasn’t committed to an exercise program.

So back to yesterday and this morning – If I wasn’t into a good exercise program I can’t imagine what would have happened to me yesterday. Maybe a heart attack. This morning might even be worse. But most importantly it reminded me how important it is to be “prepared” physically and not just have food storage, water filtration and a closet full of guns/ammo.

I will be stepping up my physical training, pushing myself just a little more. Not sure what to do about the hip pain, growing old can do that to you.

Family hiking, bugging out, during grid-downHow does this all affect you? I want you to think about this and see where you are. Is this an area of preparedness that you need to work on a little bit more? Maybe just a little?

Maybe just start by taking a walk with your family a couple of evenings a week.

 

 

 

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Let’s talk about “Crazy Don”…

Wildfire washington state 2015note: article first appeared in late September 2015

In August & September I was in the state of Washington on a wildland fire. It has been a bad year for fires, especially Washington. There were lots of homes threatened and the fire was growing rapidly.

I showed up on the fire and was given my assignment along with some minimal resources. We never really have enough it seems. I got to work and we were making a difference and saving homes but it was fast-paced and challenging.

I mentioned that there was a lack of resources and that included field operations folks like me as well. My duties Wildfire growing and burning at nightquickly expanded to cover an area of the fire that was almost directly at the head of the fire. We did a large burn-out one night that went textbook perfect.

Although very tired, we headed back out there the next morning to continue the “herding” of the fire into an area that was of low value, mostly scrub trees. Our intention was to “hook” the fire once we got it past the last ranch that was threatened. As we headed to the fire we went through a ranch on their road. The same person that met me yesterday came running out to meet me again that morning.

One of the “blessings” of being a supervisor/leader on a wildfire is going in first. At least that is my philosophy; first in, last out.

The day before “Don” had came running out to my truck and we chatted for awhile. I had explained to him why we Crazy Don conspiracy theorywere there, what we were going to be doing, and assured him that we would protect his ranch. Don was, let’s say, “excited” the day before. And he sounded like a burned out hippie about the age of late mid to late 50’s. But all went well, and as I said earlier, things went well for us.

But the second morning Don was insane. Yes, literally insane. He was screaming and yelling at me about everything we had done. He yelled at me that we had set everything on fire. He yelled at me that we had cut a fireline on his property. He yelled at me for being an agent of the government and being controlled by the cattle barons. He told me how he had gone up against the government three times before and beat them…and he would “show ’em again.” He then started trying to engage me about global warming. All the while he was very animated as in flailing his arms, moving around rapidly, and sometimes charging right up to my truck window.

All along I was using every technique that I knew to de-escalate the situation. Nothing I tried worked, his emotions were like a roller coaster, and getting worse by the minute. I suspected drug usage…past or present.

I had told my firefighters to not stop, they were to continue to their work locations/assignments and get started while I dealt with Don.

Then Don started talking about how he was the local thermal vent investigator. He investigated the local thermal CrazyDon002vents, the same types of vents that were underwater in the ocean around the world. But he went on to talk about how the government was lying to everyone about the thermal vents and it was all a big conspiracy cover-up.

Next up on his agenda…the local cattle barons were running the fire. And it got worse from there. But then it took a very bad turn.

Don started talking about knowing where our camp was. That he had dealt with this crap before. He knew where to go and what he was going to do. He was going f*-up some people just as soon as he got to camp, and that would be soon because he wasn’t going to take it anymore.

I rolled my window up the rest of the way and drove off, I wasn’t going to listen to his lunacy anymore. However, since he had made some not-so-thinly veiled threats I was obligated to report the incident to my supervisor, the Operations Section Chief.

Well, that conversation didn’t go too well. As soon as I related the conversation, and that it was the second incident with Don in two days, I was told to pull my guys out of the area. I reminded him that is would almost assure us of losing the fire in this area and the fire growing uncontrolled once again. The order stood, I was to abandon the area immediately.

To shorten the story, we left. Remember, I am the last one out. But I am also not stupid. I talked to my 2nd in command and told him to drive out in front of me but to hold up about 50 yards past the gate while I closed the gate behind me. He was to make sure I wasn’t left on my own with some crazy man headhunting Feds. We had also decided to drive out on a different two-track road to avoid the ranch house area all together…and maybe avoid Don altogether.

We almost made it.

All of our resources had driven out and it was just my 2nd and myself. As we drove up to the last gate we had to close here comes Crazy Don driving like a bat out of hell. He pulled up and blocked the road to prevent us driving out. As he came back to start screaming at me, my 2nd drove around Don’s truck, through the gate and then watched for me.

Crazy Don was screaming at me through my window accusing me of abandoning his ranch because it was on state Crazy Don screaming at meprotected lands and I was a federal resource and hated state citizens. He kept lunging at my truck door and acting like he was high on PCP or Meth. He was threatening me and trying to…well, let’s just say I had my door locked and window cracked open only about an 1”.

When I saw my 2nd had cleared the gate I simply drove off leaving Crazy Don yelling and screaming at my tailgate.

After I got through the gate and around the corner in the road I blocked the two-track while my resources finished traveling to the blacktop road. I followed them out. Low and behold the OpsChief had called Johnny Law who wanted to meet with me. Evidently threatening a Federal employee can be a fairly serious crime.

Now, let me shorten the story a whole lot…

We didn’t return and engage the fire that day, we were told not to be there or anywhere close by. Overnight the fire out of control wildfiremoved a whole lot and we were able to re-engage the next morning. But it was too late, we lost that part of the fire entirely.

Law enforcement had a conversation with Don. Evidently it went well, he was not arrested and no firefighters were assaulted. But the damage was done. Our lack of ability to engage the fire that day probably cost a couple hundred thousand dollars, and burned up another 30,000 acres, maybe more. But that is not the point to this article.

So, what is the point?

Crazy Don is the point. He is the whole point to this article.

Don’t be a Crazy Don!

There is a time and place for everything, but not every time and place it the right time for everything.

Roughly translated that means…whatever your beliefs are, know the right time and place to talk about them. Better yet, know the right people to talk to about them.

If you are a “birther”, a “turther”, “chem-trailer”, “blood-mooner” or whatever else you might be; even a thermal vent inspector, know when is the right time to talk about it. Better yet, know when the wrong time to talk about is…and don’t talk about it if the time isn’t right.

Why?

Do you want to be the next Crazy Don?

Crazy Don conspiracy nutWhat did all of Don’s ranting and ravings accomplish? Did anything positive get accomplished?

Or did he just make a name for himself as a crazy, burned-out hippie? And did he get on LEO’s radar? Could he have found himself in serious legal or criminal trouble?

Just think about it. I am not saying to not have sincere beliefs and advocate for certain issues. But just use common sense and be practical about it. Use good judgment in when and where you talk about it. And most importantly, be careful “who” you talk about it with.

It was obvious that Don was fairly anti-government. Did he have a kindred spirit in me?

Let’s say he did for this conversation. Did him going off the deep end in my face help him or hurt him? Was it worth it?

As you well know I want you to stand up, I want you to take action for those righteous things you believe in. However, you have to be intelligent in the way you go about it.

If you don’t…you become just another Crazy Don.

 

 

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Do you have enough candles stored away?

emergency candles for disasters and grid-downnote: article first appeared in August 2015

I have a number of preparedness friends that talk to me about their generators. I listen patiently and allow them to go on and on about how their generators can run their house, run their air conditioning or run their freezer for some number of days. I invariably ask the question, “Then what?”

They seldom have a good answer.

My point is, why have a generator for household needs? There are some exceptions but I consider those exceptions to fall mostly into the medical category. The most notable exception would be battery charging. And battery charging only when your solar charging system can’t recharge your batteries. And I am only talking batteries to run your Ham radios, handheld radios or power boxes to run mobile radios. And, maybe your AAA & AA battery chargers that already aren’t solar powered.

What the heck am I really saying and what does that have to do with candles?

OK, I am not a fan of generators unless they have a very specific purpose and a very, very limited mission. Example: powering a Ham radio. I am not a fan of generators for general purpose electric generation and certainly not for “lights.”

Read this : TRAP – Generators can get you unwanted attention. < click here to read the brief article >

Hence my tie to candles. I am a big believer in candles.Candles for emergency lighting

I firmly believe that you can use candles for 99% of your true lighting needs during emergencies and disasters. And for grid-down I am not sure you have any viable long-term alternatives. So how many candles do you have stored?

First of all let’s define the two levels of candle needs; 1) short-term for emergencies and disasters, 2) long-term for grid-down.

Short-term needs are pretty easy to meet. Calculate the maximum number of days you feel an emergency or disaster could knockout the power. Then figure how many hours each day that you would need light from those candles. You would have to figure-in the activities requiring the candle light (i.e. reading). Then take the number of hours per day of need X the number of days expected. Take that number and add 50% to it for a margin of error and unexpected issues.

If you expected a 3 hour per night need and you expected the power could be off for a maximum of 10 days then you would need 30 hours of candle use. But, then add in the 50% margin of error and that number bumps to 45 120 hour emergency candleshours of need. Now just go buy the right sized candle with the appropriate expected burn time. You can buy 115 & 120 hour emergency candles out on the Internet for $8 – $12. So you should be able to meet your needs easily and economically.

Sound pretty simple, yes? And it is.

Emergency candles come in one basic form, so-called “paraffin.” But paraffin comes in two basic forms in relation Candles at hobby lobbyto emergency candles, liquid and solid. You are probably most familiar with solid paraffin candles, just walk into Hobby Lobby.

Liquid paraffin is actually more efficient when it comes to lighting. But don’t confuse “liquid paraffin” with “solid paraffin” at all. While theoretically they are both hydrocarbons, you can’t make traditional candles out of liquid paraffin. and you can’t make liquid paraffin by melting candles. Liquid paraffin is actually highly refined kerosene. It is referred to as lamp-oil in many places.

But between the two, it is mostly cost that drives the purchases. Then storage capability. Get the most burn-time for your hard-earned money for candles you can safely store.

Couple thoughts:

  • Watch for garage sales, estate sales or church rummage sales. Sometimes regular everyday candles can be bought for a fraction of the cost of those in stores.
  • Keep an eye on “dollar stores.”  They sell some pretty big candles for $1 from time-to-time. Just buy one of the big candles, take it home, and test it for burn-time. Go back and buy as many as you can if you get good burn-time out of them.
  • Candle-03Some of the preparedness websites regularly have both kinds of emergency candles on sale. https://www.foodinsurance.com/ has them onsale for $5.59 when you buy 12. That is 1200 hours of candle light for $67.00
  • I bought and use ReadyCANDLE from https://www.foodinsurance.com. They are inexpensive when bought on sale and ready to use when needed. They give out lots of light and they are not the hassle of a regular candle.

However, what about long-term “grid-down” needs?  That becomes whole new ball game when you can’t continue to buy regular or liquid candles. In a future post I will go into detail about making your own candles with nothing special other than what you already will have on-hand. But for now, think in terms of homemade candles…

Candle-08

Candle-07emergency candles made out of crisco

 

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Will we really be hit with an EMP? (part #2)

EMP Strikenote: article first appeared in December 2015

In part #1 yesterday I laid out the case for the probability of an EMP strike on America. I started laying out the case for the severity of the impact of such a strike. This article, Part #2, finish up on the impact severity, and end with what you can do to mitigate the EMP threat.

It is probably a good idea to read Part #1 first if you haven’t already done so.

Severity –

The experts and planners really don’t know for sure just what the extent of and EMP blast effects might be. Yes, there are books written talking about a 90% die-off in the first year. But, they are writers not experts in EMP warfare, they are novel authors.

I had the opportunity to talk to a 40 year expert that worked for Motorola and was a professor of electronics at a major university. We discussed the EMP potential. He explained to me that all their own testing was different than the hype and scare that we hear about in the media and read about in the books.

He was referring to all the post-EMP books hyping pre-computer controlled cars. Granted, vehicles with all the EMP resistant BOVdifferent computer technology would be far more susceptible to being rendered useless by an EMP strike. So some cars beginning in the mid-70’s began using integrated circuits, actual computer modules were about 3 – 5 years later. Obviously any vehicle without an integrated circuit board or computer module would be far less susceptible to damage from an EMP strike.

He went on to explain that not even the cars with computers that were all “zapped” had died an electronic death. The EMP pulses that they tested with only killed about 60 – 70% of cars with computers. I found that very interesting. He explained that sometimes all they had to do was disconnect a battery and the car would survive just fine. And not all the batteries were automatically destroyed by the pulses either. So the outcome for vehicle transportation may not be as dreadful as some would lead us to believe.

Electronics were a little different in their testing. If electronics weren’t protected they usually got wiped out. But, they also discovered that protecting the delicate electronics wasn’t all that difficult. They found the concept was to direct the energy of the pulse around the electronic gadget not allowing any of the energy to come in contact with the piece of equipment.

When I asked him how difficult it was, he chuckled and said, “Not very.” He told me that placing electronics in a metal box on insulated material should be just fine.

To me the operative word was “should.”

He said there was no way to conclusively say what kind of metal box worked all the time. And the reason is the EMP pulse itself. The energy flows through the air at different frequencies. The key was to block that specific frequency of energy associated with that specific EMP blast. And he also told me that there couldn’t be any gaps in the metal box, a tight metallic seal was paramount.

By then my eyes were kind of glazing over, I was getting lost. Then he said it was pretty simple to test. He said take an FM radio, tune it to a clearly heard station, and turn the volume up. Then place it in your metal box on insulated material. Slowly start to close the lid. If the radio reception died away and you could no longer hear the radio then the box was blocking the energy frequency of most EMP pulses.

He did qualify that by saying that to the best of their knowledge at that time EMP, energy pulse frequencies were roughly that of FM stations. And that is why if you could block the FM reception, you could block the pulse energy. And technically you weren’t blocking the energy pulse. The metal box was moving the energy pulse around the outside of the box not allowing the energy to come into contact with the radio’s antenna.

He also said it would be a good idea to remove the battery and the antenna from the radio. That would further assist in keep the energy out of the radio since both of those items attracted energy. We talked about wrapping the radio in a layer of insulation and he thought it would help if there were no gaps in the wrapping.

Faraday Cages –

We talked about Faraday Cages for awhile, he was not impressed. He thought they were overrated and pretty Farday Cage protection against EMPmuch was just a fancy and more expensive version of a metal box. He even mentioned that a garbage can with no holes or cracks, with a tight fitting lid, and lined with a non-conductive material could accomplish the same thing…maybe even far better.

The idea was simply to keep the energy from entering or contacting the piece of electronic gear that you were trying to protect.

A Faraday Cage was simply a fancy metal mesh box, that might not work as well as a metal container such as a garbage can mentioned a minute ago. We again talked about steel garbage cans with a plastic lining (i.e. a plastic garbage can) as an option. He said that would probably be just fine if the garbage can lid was tight fitting and let no gaps in the lid’s seal. We talked a little more and he liked my idea of using crumpled up aluminum foil as a “gasket” to ensure that there was no gap at all between the lid and the garbage can lip.

Layer after layer –

After thinking it through for awhile I talked with another buddy of mine, a serious and intelligent prepper. And the qualifications to be called such. We talked for awhile about EMP strikes and the potential for damage. Mostly sticking to how to protect radio equipment from damage.

When as was said and done we decided that we would wrap our gear in non-conductive material ensuring that there were no gaps. Then wrap that bundle in aluminum foil without gaps or open seems. So, imagine a bubble-wrap envelope sealed tight with clear shipping tape. Then that bundle is wrapped tightly with aluminum foil with absolutely no gaps in the wrapping.

Then use the non-conducting bubble wrap again, then another foil wrap, and then finish them off with a final layer of non-conducting bubble wrap. When we were all done with that, we placed them in a metal box with a tight fitting lid that left no gaps between the lid and the box.

I thought through that a lot. Basically we would be doing what my expert buddy had talked about. End result…redirecting the energy around the piece of electronic gear you are trying to protect.

Now what?

What to do now?” is the big question isn’t it. And honestly, that is up to you. I didn’t say that to be smug or avoid answering the question. It really is up to you.

Here’s how I see it…

  1. If you take your radios and EMP proof them in a metal box, then you don’t get to use the radio. You don’t get the operational practice or get to have fun with the radios.
  2. The EMP pulse, if it does occur, might be on a completely different frequency than what you have prepared for. Therefore your box is a complete failure and your radios get fried anyways.
  3. We may never get hit with an EMP pulse. Remember, it is rated in the low or very low probability category. So you wasted all that time, effort, and money for nothing.
  4. Or you can hedge your bet. The Baofeng UV-5RA radio is very inexpensive. Buy a set to use with all the right accessories, etc., especially the programming software. Get them all set up and enjoy them. Then buy just the radio itself, a back-up  for each radio you actually use. Program them, wrap ’em up, box ’em up for that potential EMP strike. And just to be on the safe and plush side…throw in the old family laptop with RT Systems programming software loaded on it, along with the cable and DVD.
Become obsessive?

No! While the potential for an EMP strike severity could be quite high if we are struck, the probability of being struck is still quite low. So there is no reason to start obsessing over being hit with an EMP.

And honestly, what part of your preps are truly dependent on electronics or batteries? For me it is:

  • Radios
  • Tactical flashlights
  • Solar generators
  • Night vision
  • GPS

Yup! That’s it for my dependency on electronics and batteries. So I have to ask myself the question, “Could I survive without all of the above?”

“Of course I could!” is the easy and accurate answer. Would it be more convenient with them? Yes. But we could get long without them.

So you really have to ask yourself the same questions –

What preps of your depend on electronics and batteries?

Could I get by without those things?

Summary –

As far as priorities go I would put EMP-proofing your electronics way, way down the list. I would say look into it after; a year’s worth of food, water, and garden seed. And then after, considerable medical supplies, weapons, and 1000’s of rounds of ammo. Then put in water filtration and purification capability, a good tents, clothing, and quality tactical gear. Then…and only then, would I consider worrying about protecting my gear from an EMP.

This has been a really long article on EMPs, but I thought it prudent to go through it in detail. But, by now you also have a pretty good idea of what you need to be doing about it.

Now…just go do it!  “whatever “it” may be.

 

 

 

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Will we really be hit with an EMP? (part #1)

EMP Strike electromagnetic pulse note: article first appeared in December 2015

I’ve pretty much stayed away from the whole EMP subject over the years. I’ve been asked about it a bunch of times but given some pretty vague answers. I guess it is time I get serious and share my real opinions on it.

Background –

My EMP opinion has changed over the years. Remember, I worked with intelligence information when I was in the Navy back in the 1970’s. I can tell you that back then during the Cold War there wasn’t any war-based “measured response” option. There also wasn’t any of thought of a weapon to do little damage to conquer the Soviet Union or any East Block country. We were in it to win it! And that meant nuke the crap out of them.

Sure, they knew about EMP effects for nuclear explosions even back then. But that was a distant concern, issue, or topic. What we wanted was to devastate them, their military, their people, their infrastructure, just basically blow em up.

But, as times have changed I have looked at what would Russia want to do to us in terms of war-based destruction. Russia is short of resources, all kinds of resources with the possible exception of fossil fuels. That being the case, I don’t think Russia would want to slick us off like glass with nukes. Well, with one possible exception, if we hit them first. If we would throw our missiles at them first, they would throw everything they had back at us as fast as they could turn keys and push buttons.

If you think about it, why would Russia, or even China, want to turn us into a nuclear wasteland? I simply don’t think Iran Nuke weaponsthey would.In all reality…they would love to have access to our resources…natural and man-made.

Iran on the other hand has the stupid 12th Imman, end of the world thing as part of their Muslim Shia beliefs. Those crazies would nuke us just to fulfill their desire to expedite the end of the world. But, Iran would hit Israel before they would hit us.

The crazies in North Korea, although crazy, don’t do anything without the approval of China. NK won’t nuke us unless China tells them it’s OK. North Korea really doesn’t want war. They know they would lose. But, they want the attention and associated power that comes with threatening war.

We are China’s biggest customer of the goods they produce. We spend huge amounts of money buying their stuff year in and year out. China loves those dollars! Why would they want to blow-up their best customer?

Well, there actually is a point when China might make a move against us. China has been an empire for 1000’s of years. Yes, China is currently a communist country, but it no less an empire now than it was 500 or 1000 years ago. When it comes to international politics China views everything in a very large context. I am talking in terms of 100’s of years to accomplish something, for sure decades.

Let there be no doubt in your mind, China expects to be a, if not the, world dominating empire. It is only a matter of timing for them. When China decides that the timing is right, they will use all appropriate tools available to them to accomplish their goals. And using nukes against us is seen as a strategy, nuclear weapons are nothing more than tools to them. Albeit maybe not their first or most desired option.

That being said, I do not think that China wants to slick us off either. It just wouldn’t fit their history-based reputation. Sure, they want to beat us, and beat us decisively, but I don’t see them going into “annihilation mode” on us. I think they want to subjugate not eliminate. They like our natural resources and ability to grow lots of food.

You also have Pakistan and Turkey as nuclear armed countries. While they are both supposedly secular governments, they are both Muslim countries. Pakistan has really moved towards being a Islamic government, Turkey is now maybe the most Muslim of both countries. When Pakistan completes its total transition to an Islamic state, then I would move them into a similar category as Iran. Same would be true for Turkey. I think it won’t be long for both of them to finalize that transition.

So what about the EMP thing again?

Remember, I look at “threats” as “risks.” And I then look at all of it in terms of “risk mitigation”. Risk is judgement based on probability and severity of the risk actually occurring. I look at an EMP strike the same way.

Probability –

I see the risk of us being hit by a nuclear weapon that generates an EMP as low…very low at this time actually. The reason I give it such a low probability is their fear of retaliation. Russia and China have no desire to exchange a nuclear strike with us. Iran would probably love it but they aren’t ready for that yet. Pakistan and Turkey probably aren’t ’t too far behind Iran but they are maintaining a resemblance of normal behaviors. North Korea, well, they are complete nuts jobs in that country, so I don’t expect them to actually launch a nuke at us.

So based on all of that, I see the probability as pretty dang low. However, 20 years ago I would have given it a zero chance. 10 years ago, slightly more than zero. When Iran did the nuke deal with Obozo I believe Iran’s potential use of a nuke against another country went to 100%. Their use of a nuke against us is maybe at 50%. Iran nuking Israel………..just a matter of time. It’s not an “if”……it’s a “when.”

So now I have to rate the probability as on the chart.

Severity –

Here is where it could get ugly. If anyone launches a nuke at us and it actually detonates on US soil, it will be devastating regardless of where it hits. It will be the blow against us that challenges, and perhaps negates, our super-power status. If we are hit, and we don’t hit back, we will be re-categorized to the group that includes France, England, Italy…maybe worse. If we are hit and we hit back, then we can expect WWIII. And should that happen, an EMP is the least of our problems.

So let’s look at the severity if it is just an EMP. By the way, it would be more along the lines of North Korea going rogue and hitting us with an EMP without China telling them to. However, there is a potential scenario where China would tell them to hit us with an EMP just to weaken us and test out retaliation resolve.

Whatever the reason we were hit, the outcome would be very damaging. The damage would be two-fold. 1) the EMP-Strike hits our power gridactual direct result damage to infrastructure, 2) the economic fallout.

Economic Collapse from an EMPThe economic damage would be far worse than the direct damage. The stock markets would crash, the economy would nose dive. It would be economic Armageddon for awhile. Mostly due to banking being out of business. Yeah, completely out of business. Modern banking is all computer based with that information being transferred between customer and banks, banks and business, etc. entirely by electronics (i.e. the Internet). An EMP would fry most large-scale electronic systems, including the Internet and telecommunications.

EMP Strike effectsThe direct damage is a little less clear. EMP damage is directly related to a few things:

  1. The size of the weapon as described in “megatons”
  2. The altitude above the surface of the earth
  3. Your relative location to the blast area

The absolute worse location to be at the time would be directly under the atmospheric blast. As the zone expanded outward, the impact would lessen. But, that would be in direct relation to the size of the detonated weapon. The bigger the weapon, the larger the affected area. However, the further away from the blast you were, the more diminished the impact would be.

Now is when it gets blurry. And I will cover that tomorrow when I finish this 2-part series.

 

 

 

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No reproduction or other use of this content 
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