Friday, September 23, 2016

Signal-3 Update

We are set to start publishing again in November. Signal-3 will be in electronic format (PDF).

If you have subscribed via Paypal since the beginning, I have an email for you and you should be good to go provided said email address is current. A quick email to me conforming your current email address would be appreciated.

If you subscribed via snail-mail, please send me an email so I have your email address.

Don't be alarmed if you don't get a quick reply.  Internet service is intermittent out here.

Seattle Class Dates Confirmed

First weekend in June, Seattle, WA region. TOWR will be handling registrations for this one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Signal-3 Preview: Stalking Signals in Shoshone

Here is a preview of what you can expect in the new electronic version of Signal-3.

Last weekend a few of us went in Shoshone National Forest for a monitoring exercise.


Pack shown was a Spec-Ops T.H.E. (Tactical Holds Everything) Pack.  I've been using this pack for the past 12 years and have been very satisfied with it.  I'd rate this pack 5/5 stars.

Rig used was a Yaesu FT-817 with a GoalZero Sherpa battery pack and homebrew inverted-V antenna cut for 40 meters, tossed up over a convenient tree limb with an arborist's throw bag.


Wire antennas such as inverted-Vs and dipoles work admirably, but require either indigenous supports such as tress, or for you to bring in your own antenna supports.  One also needs some means of getting the wire up.  When packing in one's station, pounds begin to add up.

Lesson 1: Go as light as possible

First thing I noticed was that on HF the Sherpa generated enough electrical noise to noticeably affect reception. Fortunately this was a monitoring-only exercise and the FT-817 has its own internal battery pack.  Research is presently underway to find an alternative to the Sherpa that is lightweight, noise-free, and reasonably priced.

Lesson 2: Run operational full system tests to find comparability problems.

Once we were operational, we had no issue receiving multiple signals from 11 Meter operators in Mexico down to regional AM broadcast band stations on a simple wire antenna.  No transmitting was done, because this exercise was intended as RX only, and listening is >2X as important as transmitting.

Lession 3: Small steps. Don't try everything at once.

After the monitoring experiment was concluded, there was one subsystem failure. A wire connection broke on the inverted-V antenna when taking it down.

This would not have been an issue, as the wire broke right at the ring terminal connection, and it would have no problem to whip out the Leatherman Tool and fix it.

Lesson 4: Things break. Have tools handy.

Finally, with the radios put away, we had lunch.

My cooking gear for this run consisted of a Primus Classic, US GI-issue canteen cup, and a set of German military-issue utensils.  The Primus Classic rocks, and I'd give it 5/5 stars easily.  It's lightweight, fits in my canteen cup, and brings a cup of water to boil in about 5 minutes.  There might be faster stoves out there, but this one is small, light, and rugged. Couldn't say the same for the meal though.  The Alpineaire Southwestern Style Masa with Beef didn't totally suck, but reconstituted on the soupy side with the recommended amount of water.  I'd give it 3/5 stars.

Lesson 5: Try camping food first before investing too much money into it.

Lesson 6: Sometimes the classic gear works best.

One of the other participants brought in his Elecraft KX-3 with an EARCHI End-Fed HF Matchbox Antenna, powered with a 12V jumpstart pack bought at a local autoparts store. He had similar success with monitoring HF communications. No electrical noise was noticed with the pack.


His cook gear was a Kelly Kettle stove kit fulled by dead twigs picked up off the ground. It too had a very quick water boiling time. I believe it was somewhere between 2-3 minutes. Another 5/5 star piece of kit. Disadvantages were greater bulk than the Primus Classic and higher scent signature from the burning wood.

Lesson 7: Figure out advantages, disadvantages, and trade-offs to see what works best for you.

So we had two individuals with different pieces of kit, each determined and assembled separately, who pulled off a successful experiment/exercise in the field.  This shows the most important lesson learned:

Lesson 8: Take your stuff out and work with it to iron out the kinks ahead of time, before you really need it.

This is an example of the type of articles you can expect to see in future issues of Signal-3.  Practical, real-world stuff based on experience.  Signal-3 is monthly, and delivered in electronic format. Subscriptions are $50/year.

Click here to subscribe.




Saturday, September 17, 2016

More mistakes


  1. If you still identify with a term after reading the guy who created it, and it doesn't define your operation, you are a special kind of stupid and I'm going to tell people to stay the hell away from you.
  2. If one of your members admits in public to something illegal, then your group is a special kind of stupid and I'm going to tell people to stay the he'll away from you.  Understand, Mr. Stillman?
  3. When you go by the name of an alcoholic beverage, unless it's on your birth certificate, I'm not going to take you seriously and tell people to stay the hell away from you. Especially when #2 is taken into consideration.
  4. Unless you have a DD-214 that says you were at least an E7 or an officer, or similar civilian experience, you have no business being the CO of anything. You are likely a poltroon, and I'm going to tell people to stay the hell away from you.
  5. If you are trying to organize something on a macro level that was created under the  concept of remaining unorganized, and admit such, then you are up to something hinky and I'm going to tell people to stay the hell away from you.

Editorial

I'm a writer.  Specifically, I write mostly about the technical aspects of self-reliance and preparedness.  Towards this end, I've got 30 years of accumulated experience and education in the Heinlein tradition.  It's a long enough time frame to have a vague idea of what it's all about.

I've come across a lot of groups.  Some have their act together, and those generally don't advertise their existence.  You won't hear about them because I respect their privacy and their level of competence.

Then you have the ones who don't.  Some of them are just starting out, and come to me with questions which I'm more than happy to answer. You won't hear about them because I respect their privacy, the fact that they are in  learning mode, and that they want to get their shit together.

The others...  If they are publicly recruiting and are willfully ignorant, especially if they are in my locale, then I'm going to call them out. Because I don't want someone getting killed.

This 3% thing will result in deaths if it follows itself to conclusion.  By adopting that particular term, you are implying that you will fight a standing, legally-elected government should it (continue to) engage in certain actions you find objectionable. The term used is insurrection. Look it up. Unless the social and political course of this country alters its course drastically in the future, that's going to be a hell of a check you're going to have to cash.

Think about that.

Then read the words of the man who created it.

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-brief-three-percent-catechism.html

If you decide to go that route, now think about the advisability of tossing that term out in public to describe yourself.  Or joining up with someone who does.

It doesn't matter if you're just a group of harmless preppers who happened to take on the name because it sounded cool and buzzwordy.  It's not the latest buzzword for you to toss out.  It's more like a buzzsaw that will decapitate you if you're not careful with it.

And you know who could be doing the enforcement for the powers that be?

The militia.

The Congress shall have power to to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
- US Constitution, Article I, Section 8

Whenever there is an insurrections in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into Federal service such of the militia of the other States, in the number requested by that State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to suppress the insurrection.- 10 USC § 331
 Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.
- 10 USC § 332
The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—
(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
(2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
In any situation covered by clause (1), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.
- 10 USC § 333
Consider that all Obama or Clinton had to do is invoke 10 USC § 332 under some pretense (pick one) and subject every YouTube Commando from ages 17 to 45 to the UCMJ for the duration of the emergency. (See 10 USC § 311).

And it's all constitutional.

And furthermore, most of your fellow citizens (you know the other 97%) will either smile and nod approvingly, or just won't care either way.

Hopefully this has given you something to think about.

And with that off my chest, it's back to the regularly scheduled tech talk.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Communications Monitoring With Your Baofeng (or any other dual-band ham HT)

This weekend there is a communications monitoring exercise.

All you have is one of those Baofeng HTs, or maybe another model of HT.

No problem.

All models of Baofeng HTs have a frequency coverage of 136-174 and 400-480 MHz.  Some HTs have an even greater frequency range.  Let's break that down to sub-bands:

136-144 MHz. - Military/Federal Land Mobile (FM). Mostly military and FEMA/DHS.  Some military air-to-air comms using AM.
144-148 MHz. - Two Meter Ham Band
148-150.775 MHz. - Military/Federal Land Mobile (FM)
150.775 - 162 MHz. - VHF-High Land Mobile Band. Both government and business/industrial.  Very busy everywhere.
162-174 MHz. - Federal Government and Military.  Mostly .gov.  Very busy everywhere.
400-420 MHz. - Federal Government.  Lots of urban operational and point-to-point links
420-450 MHz. - 70cm Ham Band.  Most busy in FM portion of 440-450 MHz, although some interesting stuff on the low end.  Some unlicensed stuff around 433 MHz.
450-470 MHz. - UHF land mobile band. Both government and business/industrial. Very busy everywhere.
470-480 MHz. - Low end of UHF-T band (total 470-512 MHz.)  TV Channel 14 starts at 470 MHz.  Some urban areas use parts of this for land mobile users.  Many bootleggers like to hide here in locales that don't have a TV channel licensed.

That's the entire frequency range you can hear with that Baofeng radio, which is plenty if you're just starting out.

This is not an endorsement of the radios, but rather a shedding of light on the monitoring capabilities you have at your disposal if that's all you have for the moment.

So even if all you have is a Baofeng HT, you have to come up with a better excuse to not do a little monitoring exercise this weekend.


What should you be able to do this weekend, or what you should try this weekend.

This weekend, I'm doing a local communications monitoring exercise.  Nothing elaborate, just a quick hike someplace elevated, do a little listening away from sources of electrical noise, and enjoy a field lunch cooked on my Primus Classic.

You should be able to do this.

The gear to do this should be considered basic starter-level equipment.

You should try it this weekend.


AP3per - No, you're not.

Taken from actual conversations with a local (organized) "3%per" group who was advertising and recruiting at a recent "prepper con.":
  • Don't claim to be a 3per, and backpedal when you get told just what being a 3per entails.
  • If you were going to drop the "3%" monkier/description, don't you think you should have done that before you advertised yourself at the convention?
  • Stockpiling food in non-sustainable (most urban) environments is an invitation to fail.
  • There is a big difference between riding out a winter storm and long-term preparedness/self-reliance, despite the opinion of some novice.
The name of the group is APIII% Wyoming, and based on my observations I suggest you stay the hell away from them.

In the meantime, before you start adopting the name "3%", you might want to read some of the late founder's words on the subject:

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/

and specifically

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-brief-three-percent-catechism.html

For the record, I'm not a 3%er as one's role as a public figure, writer/educator, and occasional pundit greatly reduces one's effectiveness in an operational context.  However, I concur intellectually with the late Mr. Vanderbough's opinions on the matter.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fake News Sites and News Stories

A friend of mine recently shared this story on a social media site:
Obama Signs Executive Order Banning The Pledge Of Allegiance In Schools Nationwide

The story alleges that Obama signed an executive order, EO#13738, which was supposed to revoke the Federal Government's recognition of the Pledge of Allegance. We can find out all about Executive Orders right here. And if we look at Executive Order #13738 we find out that it is an amendment to an earlier EO concerning "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces" in regards to federal government contractors. Specifically, "This order seeks to increase efficiency and cost savings in the work performed by parties who contract with the Federal Government by ensuring that they understand and comply with labor laws. Labor laws are designed to promote safe, healthy, fair, and effective workplaces." Neither EO has anything whatsoever to do with the Pedge of Allegance. Now if we dissect the URL, we find that it is http://abcnews.com.co/obama-executive-order-bans-pledge-of-allegiance-in-schools/. Notice the ".com.co" before the first slash. That's a good indication that it is a satire or fake news site.


Despite the obvious flaws that can be easily fact checked by looking at the URL, and vetted by looking at the site that has the official registry of executive orders, many people fell for this fake news story.

Here is another fake one:
http://associatedmediacoverage.com/federal-government-changes-minimum-hunting-age-18/
It's a rehash of another fake story from two years ago:
http://nationalreport.net/federal-government-restrict-hunting-setting-minimum-age-21/

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wesbite is here: https://www.fws.gov/ and they are actually very big on youth hunting. Go ahead, click that link. It isn't fake like the others.

Like I have said before, it's not what you know, it's what you don't know. Fake news sites (they call themselves "satire sites") spread these fake stories, and people fall for them. This causes wasted time and energy wringing hands and debunking lies that could be better used elsewhere.
How do you find out what's really going on? For starters, you should have a a police scanner and shortwave receiver. But having the equipment is not enough. You need to know how to collect intelligence information from a number of sources, analyze it, and vet it for accuracy. You'll be able to learn how to do that in the Grid-Down Communications Course and in the information provided in future issues of the Signal-3 Newsletter. Learn how to defend your mind against fake news stories.  

Click here to subscribe.

What the Dark Future Holds

 Our problems will not go away on November 9th.

If Clinton gets elected, expect things to get much worse, quickly.

If Trump gets elected, expect the establishment, including the establishment Republicans who fought his nomination to the bitter end, to fight him on every little thing.  That will cause things to get much worse, quickly.  The other possibility here is that Trump has been part of the great scam since the beginning, and then you can still expect things to get much worse, quickly.

The Libertarian party candidate, who only gets fringe and protest votes and who will never get elected in our present society, can not even be considered to be a true libertarian in my opinion. It seems like the national LP has been co-opted or taken over

None of it matters, and here is why.

You still have some time to get things in order.  Rome did not fall in a day, and neither will the United States.

Right now you should be taking whatever spare money you have after living expenses and buying a box or two of ammo in your calibers of choice.  Or you should be buying an extra case or some extra cans of whatever you normally buy on shopping day. Out here, one of our regional chains is now in the middle of their canned food case sale.  Or buy an extra bucket or two of freeze-dried food from Wise, Mountain House, Emergency Essentials, or wherever you prefer to get your stuff from.

Also, just as important, you should be getting together your communications and information collection systems.  And you should be practicing with them at least once a week.  Do you have a police scanner and shortwave receiver? Are you using them regularly? Have you and the members of your group/tribe/extended family/voluntary association decided on what your down-grid communications system will be? Do you even know where to begin?  When it comes to technical topics such as communications and information gathering, it's not so much what you know, but rather what you don't know. Because it's what you don't know that will be more likely to hurt you.

So how can you get up to speed, and fix your ignorance, when it comes to communications and information gathering?

Starting in 2017, I will be once again offering my Grid-Down Communications Class at locations across the United States.  This is a two-day class held both in an indoor classroom (day one) and out in a field location (day two) Topics include:
  • Considerations for Grid-Down/Resilient Communications
  • Equipment Selection
    • Radios
    • Antennas
    • Basic Off-Grid Electric Power
    • Basic Test Equipment
  • VHF/UHF Communications Monitoring
    • Equipment Selection
    • Low-Level Voice Intercept Operations
    • Basic Radio Direction Finding
No equipment or prior knowledge is required to attend this class.  All you need is a notebook, writing implement, and a willingness to learn as much as possible.
2017 Schedule (Last updated September 10, 2016)
Riverton, WY - 5/27-5/28/2017
Timonium, MD - 6/17-6/18/2017
Tulsa, OK - 11/11-11/12/2017
Concord, NH - TBD October 2017
Pennsylvania - TDB 2017
Maryland - TDB 2017
South Texas - TDB 2017
Appalachia - TDB 2017
Pacific Northwest - TDB 2017

Specific locations and dates for PA, MD, TX, Appalachia, and PacNW are still open.  If you have a specific location in these areas you'd like to see a class at, please contact me - sparks31commo@gmail.com.

The cost for the two-day class is $200/person for all classes except Wyoming. The Wyoming class is available to all for a nominal donation of what you can afford.  An initial $20 deposit is all that's required to reserve a slot, with full payment due no later than 30 days before the class start date.

Payment Link For Non-Wyoming Classes

Amount
Location




Donation Link For Wyoming Class



For those of you who can't make or afford the class, you can subscribe to the Signal-3 Newsletter, which is resuming publication in November. Signal-3 is an electronic technical newsletter focusing on resilient  "down-grid" communications and other technological aspects of self-reliance and preparedness.  It is delivered via an email link in PDF format.

All future technical content will appear in the newsletter.  So if you want to receive the latest technical information from the original 3% down-grid prepper communications guru, this is your only opportunity.

How to Order:

Subscriptions are $50/12 issues, payable via the following means:
Paypal - Click here to subscribe.


Cash or Payee Blank US Postal Money Order only sent to:

TAC Enterprises LLC
PO Box 1351
Riverton, WY 82501
Cash subscriptions get a $10 discount.
 
Regaredless of who gets elected this year, our problems will not go away. Now is the time to prepare so you can weather out the dark future to come.