May 14, 2017

Sparks31 Official Frequency List For Newly-Minted Technician Class Licenses

For more detailed information see

2m Band (144-148 MC.)

Technician class privileges are CW: 144.000-144.100 MC., All Modes: 144.100-148.000 MC.)

144.100 - CW
144.200 - SSB (USB)
146.520 - FM

6m Band (50-54 MC.)

Technician class privileges are CW: 50.000-50.100 MC., All Modes: 50.100-54.000 MC.

50.090 - CW
50.125 - SSB (USB)
50.400 - AM
52.525 - FM

10m Band (28-29.700 MC.)

Technician class privileges are CW: 28.00-28.300 MC, CW/SSB: 28.300-28.500 MC.
28.110 - CW
28.385 - SSB (USB)

40m Band (7000-7300 KC.)

Technician class privileges are CW: 7025-7125 KC.
7030 - CW
7110 - CW

80/75m Band (3500-4000 KC.)

Technician class privileges are CW: 3525-3600 KC.
3560-3580 - CW (The old NTSC TV Colorburst frequency is 3579.5 KC.  Many homebrew/QRP rigs use this frequency because of dirt common crystal capability.)


These frequencies are common calling frequencies in the Technician (and higher class license) portions of their respective bands. Some of them have had their status for decades. That is what's special about them.

Yes, there are other HF and VHF Amateur Radio frequencies that have been adopted by various survivalist, "patriot", "prepper", and "threeper" groups as of late.  However, none of those frequencies have been used as common calling and "watering hole" frequencies for as long as the ones I've listed.

As a newly-minted Technician class ham license holder, regardless of your sociopolitical leanings (whatever they may be), your primary (and really only at this time) radio communications objective is to get a station on the air, and get up to speed with proper operating technique.  Not just on Two Meter FM with an HT, but also (with CW) on lower frequency bands that work better without having to rely on repeaters.  The frequencies I listed are among the most likely in the bands where you'll either hear someone calling CQ, or have someone reply quicker to your calling CQ.

"We have discussed this before," continued Frank in a tautological tone as he pocketed the Colt. "You are to keep that sort of thing out of my world." "If you chose to do otherwise, you can go back to pawnshop C.B.s."

May 13, 2017

Two Really Good Magazines

I was at my local Wal-Mart, and happened to notice these two really good magazines, favorites of mine actually, right next to one another.

Out here, these two magazines are available on just about every store's magazine rack.

Both are worth getting. Real survivalist information.  Not that TEOTWAWKI Zombie Apocalypse fantasy junk.

May 12, 2017

Some Of fhe Best Survivalist Books Ever

There are only 20,000+ books out there on various survivalist topics. Some are good, some suck, and most are average.  Here are some of my favorites.

I have to thank my friend Wildflower for turning me on to this book back in the early 1990s. My original copy went missing a few years back, and I replaced it for $7 off Amazon.  I've mentioned this book before, and like everything else out of print I've talked about, Amazon vendors took advantage of the notoriety and jacked the prices way up.  Barnes and Noble vendors are less expensive by an order of (the) magnitude, but still a hefty amount.

Dean Ing packs a whole bunch of good ideas in this little mass market paperback, and it's one of those books that just makes you think the right way.  I wish he would get this one back in print, or write an updated edition.  Is it worth what Amazon vendors are asking for it right now?  If I lost my current copy and had the disposable funds available, I'd order a replacement.  Most of you are going to see the asking price and turn away.  The smarter among you will keep your eyes open at used bookstores, flea markets, et al for a copy that costs a few bucks.  I'm sure they exist.

This was another Wildflower recommendation.  I don't subscribe to Backwoods Home, and only occasionally buy a copy of the magazine off the shelf.  What I do is buy copies of the yearly anthologies when I remember to do so.  Lots of good general and specific self-reliance and preparedness information in these. You'll learn a lot from them.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.
A bit of self-promotion here.  Purportedly some of the stories in here have caused readers to go take a shit on their supervisor's desk, chuck their corporate ID down a sewer grate, and go shack up in the high desert with some hippie artist chick.  I'm pleading the Fifth, but sure hope so.

First of the two books that started it all for me.  A must have with a ton of useful information.

TEOTWAWKI, Zombie Apocalypse, SHTF, and Other Bullshit Survivalist Terms

They're all bullshit, and using those terms is just escapist fantasy.  If you're a true survivalist, you already know how much of a fractured, unrepairable mess this country is in, that logic says eventually even band-aids like President Trump will no longer stop the slow bleeding, and yet the powers that be have an amazing ability to keep kicking the can down the road.  Accept those simple facts, and prepare accordingly without having to resort to all the BS that fails horribly in its attempt to make survivalist activities politically correct.  You want to see Zombies? Take a walk down the street of any decent-sized American city, and you'll see them.  Or take a look at some of your co-workers.  Nice enough people for the most part until their precious status quo gets threatened, and then they'll be at your throat in an instant.  That's life these days.

So what do you do?  Work towards living as self-reliant a lifestyle as you can, achieve as high a level of preparedness against natural and man-made disasters you can, live your life the right way and otherwise try to be a decent person, listen to Atlas, and just shrug.

Just shrug.  That's probably the best first piece of advice I could give you after 30 years of doing this....

What would Henry Bowman do?

Henry Bowman is a fictional character from a novel that was published 20 years ago, so Henry Bowman is doing nothing. While John Ross wrote a damn good novel in my opinion, it was still a work of fiction.  Enjoy the read, and then come back to the real world. If a Henry Bowman analog did exist in the real world, Obama would not have been elected, the NFA, GCA68, and GCA86  would have been repealed, and you'd be able to pack a sidearm in any of the 50 states without needing permission. Or possibly more likely, some fudd would have turned him in, he'd be occupying Tim McVeigh's old cell, and "responsible gun owners" would be decrying his "terroristic actions."

However, so far the whole RKBA thing has come down to state's rights issue which is why shitholes like Connecticut and New York ban MSRs, and 11 states have done the right thing with Constitutional Carry.  So I suppose realistically Henry Bowman would have listened to Atlas, moved to a free state, and otherwise just shrugged.  It would have been the smartest thing to do.


No man can cut out new paths in company. He does that alone.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
The creator lives for himself. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself”
- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead


If you are a Republicrat in a Demopublician state, you need to move before your opposition neighbors turn you in for something stupid that wouldn't be an issue in a more civilized state, such as littering aaaaand......having a big gun collection along with the odd piece of World War II German memorabilia. In places like New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, the opposition outnumbers you 2:1, which means you pretty much have no chance to vote your way out of the mess unless the voter demographic changes in a drastic manner. In the meantime, your own personal income is being taxed to fund the war against you. Living in such a place when there are better places within moving distance is stupid, and I'm not advocating anything I haven't done myself, 2100 miles of done myself to be specific.

If you live in an urban area, you have to decide whether the convenience of living close to everything among all those people outweighs the problems you will run into when they turn in zombies. When the shit hits the fan, you will be trapped, will not have enough ammo to shoot your way out of the city, and should you escape you will probably not be welcome as a refugee in the country,  especially if you have nothing to contribute to a small rural community. 

As far as I'm concerned, there are only two really important considerations
for a state that you might want to move to. The first is a lack of state personal
income tax. A state should be able to run its operations without having to put a
tax on the money you earn working for a living, and nine states do this. The
second is constitutional carry. A person has the fundamental right to self­
defense, and should be able to strap on a sidearm for personal protection, and
carry it either openly or concealed without having to ask for permission from the government. Eleven states respect their citizens enough to have constitutional carry.

Here is a list of all states that have no state personal income tax, and/or have
constitutional carry. Included is their nationwide ranking in population density.
I have also included the 10 original candidates of the first Free State Project vote for those of you who wish to do additional research.

State         - No Income Tax - Constitutional Carry - FSP - Density
Alaska                Y                          Y                             Y        50
Arizona                N                         Y                             N        33
Delaware              N                        N                             Y         6
Florida                 Y                         N                             N        8
Idaho                   N                         Y                             Y        44
Kansas                 N                         Y                             N        41
Maine                  N                         Y                             Y         38
Mississippi           N                         Y                             N        32
Missouri               N                        Y                             N         28
Montana               N                        N                             Y         48
Nevada                  Y                        N                            N        42
New Hampshire   Y                        Y                             Y         21
North Dakota        N                        N                             Y         47
South Dakota        N                        N                             Y         46
Tennessee             Y                        N                             N        20
Texas                    Y                        N                             N        26
Vermont                N                       Y                              Y        31
Washington           Y                        N                             N        24
West Virginia        N                        Y                             N        29
Wyoming             Y                        Y                             Y         49

Of the 21 states, there were only three that met all my requirements. They
are Alaska, New Hampshire, and Wyoming. Two of those states rank the lowest
in population density, and the third ranks at 21. Interestingly enough the third
state won the FSP vote, and is currently a battleground between libertarian and
statist political elements. Also note the lack of representation from the
“Appalachian Redoubt,” with only West Virginia making the list because of
constitutional carry.

Traveling To Protests

Those of you who are traveling to protests to go mess with Antifa are wasting your time and money.  Let them go trash universities and cities run by statists, and inconvenience the residents of same.

You should instead be concentrating on what's going on in your backyard, and learning/perfecting the skills necessary to survive after the balloon goes up.

May 10, 2017

May/June Class Schedule

May, 2017
May 27-28 - Basic Down-Grid Communications Class, Riverton, Wyoming.

June, 2017
June 3-4 -  Basic Down-Grid Communications Class, Seattle (area), Washigton. Sponsored by TOWR.
June 10-11 - Communications Monitoring For Preppers, Riverton, Wyoming.
June 16-17 - Build/Fix Your Own Radio Class, Riverton, Wyoming. 
June 24-25 - Basic Down-Grid Communications Class, Riverton, Wyoming.

Class Fees
The cost for the Basic Down-Grid Communications Class and Communications Monitoring Class is $200 in advance, $220 at the door for the Wyoming classes.

The cost for the Build/Fix Your Own Radio Class is $250 in advance, $300 at the door.

A special discount is available for those of you who want to take all three classes: $575 in advance.

There is also a special discount for married couples who want to attend classes. It is $325 in advance for the Basic Grid-Down Communications and Communications Monitoring Classes, $420 in advance for the Build/Fix Your Own Radio Class.  All three classes are $550 in advance for married couples.

Terms are cash or USPS money order only for advance payment.  Cash only at the door.

Payment can be sent to:

Tom Filecco
ATTN: Sparks31 Radio Classes
PO Box 1351
Riverton, WY 82501

If paying at the door, please send me an email to to reserve your slot.

Basic Down-Grid Communications Class 

If you are just starting out, this is the class you should take first.

Sparks31 is the creator of the original original 3% down-grid prepper communications course, and is always updating the workshop material to reflect the latest confirmed information received. Other courses recently offered as of late are conducted by graduates of the original Sparks31 workshops, and may not have up to date information.  They are also not offered by an individual who has 30 years of experience in electronic communications, has worked professionally with electronic systems ranging from radio to electronic security/surveillance. and was a member of one of the premiere hacker think tanks.

This is a two-day class. 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
    • Basic Low-Level Voice Intercept Operations
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.  However, I recommend you have read my book, Down-Grid Communications, before attending class.  You can download a digital copy here, or purchase a hardcopy here.

Communications Monitoring For Preppers 

This intermediate-level two day class builds upon the information taught during the basic class and will teach you how to equip, set-up, and operate a monitoring post specifically for the purpose of disaster preparedness communications monitoring.  It ends with a practical real-world communications monitoring exercise.

To get the most out of this class, you should have basic communications monitoring equipment such as a shortwave radio (equipped with BFO for SSB and CW reception), police scanner, antennas, note-taking equipment, and adequate power sources (batteries, et al) for 48 hours of off-grid operation.

Build/Fix Your Own Radio Class 

This is an intermediate-level two day class that will teach you basics of how to build and fix radios, and the art of home-brewng your own gear and antennas.

To get the most out of this class, you should have basic electronic tools, test equipment, and a small radio kit to work on during the latter part of day 1, and day 2.

It's all about self-reliance.

Amateur Radio is about self-reliance, the ultimate and purest form of preparedness.  It starts like this: You are concerned about fake news and establishment mass media censorship.  You are concerned about the lack of reliability and .gov control of telecommunications and Internet systems.  You seek alternatives.  You get a shortwave receiver and police scanner so you can get information directly from the sources, get alternative viewpoints that aren't readily available elsewhere, and be able to get it when the establishment-controlled systems go down.  Now you have a broader and better idea of what's going on, especially in your locale and region, because that's what matters most. Now maybe you get some CBs or a ham license and 2 Meter radios so you can talk locally with your tribe if the phone and Internet systems go down.  You have just achieved a level of self-reliance that most people don't have, and you are better prepared as a result.

It gets better from there!  You conclude that modern radios, with their tight, cramped, surface-mount component construction are practically impossible to repair. So you start researching and looking into radios that you can fix, and learning the skills needed to fix them. You find a couple of 1970s or 1980s vintage solid state radios with discrete components and thru-hole PCB construction, and a similar vintage ARRL Handbook. You start learning about electronics.  Or perhaps EMP is a concern of yours and you go back to tube gear.  Either way, you now have radios that can be fixed, and you are well on the way to getting the skills to do so.  More self-reliance. After reading a few old 73 Magazine and QST articles, maybe even being inspired by AB5L(SK)'s story, you decide that you can go even further and build your own radios.

"Nobody builds or fixes things any more."
"I do."
"...he realized the enormity that IT ALL was waiting
for his command, and that NO ONE or NO THING was standing
between him and the capability to create whatever at

You discover that electronics knowledge has applications outside your radio hobby.  You are concerned about the electric power grid, and either have the ability to put together your own basic off-grid power systems or have a good idea of how to learn what you need to know.  You start looking at things with a more critical and educated eye.  You are a much higher level of self-reliance and preparedness than you started with.

Building antennas and tinkering with that old generator you picked up for a song at the local auction entails mechanical knowledge, so your skillset starts expanding that way.  The ham radio operators of old even assembled their own chassis units for their radios, and consequently had a basic mechanical shop along with their electronics lab.  More self-reliance and preparedness. By the way that old generator is a diesel, and the owner of the bar and grill down the road that you've been having dinner at once a week for the past few years would be more than happy for you to take all his used cooking oil, so he doesn't have to pay for its disposal.  That's OK.  You got a line on an old Ford F-250 with an NDI 7.3l International V-8 under the hood...

May 9, 2017

Frank: The Reference List - Part 2 (And something extra)

As gleaned from

Chapter 51

Chapter 54 - This is another good one.


  • Some other issues of 73 you should have in your collection:


May 8, 2017

Frank: The Reference List - Part 1

As gleaned from

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter9 -  This is a good one.

Chapter 28

Chapter 33

To be continued...


A Reader Asks: SG-2020

Just found one on ebay for reasonable cost and grabbed it
Any tips for a long and successful operating life? Mods or tricks? Carrying case?
I got the usual stuff off and the manual already

My Reply:

Here is the link for SG Club International -

They are pretty bullet-proof and simple radios, and there is not much that needs to be done with them. Go find yourself a decent hardside case with foam lining to keep it in. When being transported, I keep mine in a milsurp case for an AN/AVS-6(V)1 Aviator's Night Vision System. It is just big enough to store the radio along with it's accessories. I found it at a local army/navy store for $40. You'll probably be able to find something similar locally.

For rucking it around, get one of the Harris RF Communications Accessories Bags - - It fits the '2020 perfectly, and is deep enough to also carry a battery pack and accessories in the bottom of the main compartment and side pouch.

If you don't have the manual, you can get it at - While you're at it, visit and download the HF Users Guide. Lots of good info in there.

The SGC auto-tuners are also a good item to have, and will tune pretty much anything. Another good tuner is the LDG. There was an SGC tuner made specifically for the '2020, I think it was the SG-211. I use a SG-237 and have been happy with it.

A CW "leg key" is also nice to have when operating in the field. I got mine on Ebay.

The best battery I have found at present is a simple 12V AGM "gel cell". They're about $30 at the local Ag store for a 7AH model. AGM stands for "absorbent glass mat". Much better than the older sealed lead acid (SLA) gel cells. You can charge one in a few hours with a "battery maintainer" is the one I use. Gel Cells are not too particular about being charged, and are tolerant of minor charging mistakes. They are inexpensive compared to other battery units like the LiPo and Li-Ion boxes, and don't have any electronics in them that generate interference on HF, which I discovered was the case with my GoalZero Sherpa.

Long Term Reliability of Equipment: Antennas

This is a Radio Shack VHF/UHF Scanner Ground Plane antenna that was installed about 2 1/2 years ago in central Wyoming.  Note the deterioration of the plastic insulation and rubber o-ring that isolates the center elements from the ground plane.  This antenna was only $20 from the local Radio Shack, and purchased as a stop-gap.  It served its purpose, but clearly was a short-term "fix" to get up and running.

This doesn't only happen with "cheap" gear.

This is a $230 Yaesu ATAS-25 portable field antenna that broke when being used at a Down-Grid Communications Class.  The failure point was a plastic screw used to attach the coil assembly to the slide contact/whip assembly.  Not what I expect out of a reputable brand that's priced accordingly, especially when its performance was no better than the significantly less expensive FARApole that FARA was selling at Hosstraders, or the (now discontinued) B&W AP-10 apartment dweller antenna that cost half as much.  Not that short portable HF whip antennas are great performers to begin with.

Those HF operators looking for small, portable, potentially covert antennas would be better off acquiring the skills to roll their own antennas. The best book I've found is the old TAB How To Build Hidden Limited-Space Antennas Antennas That Work, by Robert J. Traister, WB4KTC. It was published back in 1981, and is out of print, much like many good reference works. I found mine at a used bookstore for about a third of what they start asking for them on Amazon (the original new price was $9.95 in early 1980s money).  Here is a picture, and the Amazon link for it:

When you consider that an ATAS-25 costs $230, even the higher used prices of this book are significantly less.  Unlike buying an ATAS-25 that might break in the field, the knowledge in this book stays with you so you can make antennas when needed out of assorted raw materials you can find anywhere. Finally, the hardcopy meatspace book does not require electricity, an electronic appliance, or an Internet connection, and has information that has been vetted by a technically competent editor at what was one of the premier technical publishing houses.

May 1, 2017

May 27-28 Wyoming Class Info Sent

If you have signed up for the Down-Grid Communciations Class on May 27-28 in Riverton, Wyoming, you should have an email waiting in your inbox.  I bcc'd it to everyone with my email address as the primary recipient.

If you did not receive an email, let me know.

There is still time to sign up.  Class info is at   If you can't make it in May, I have classes in the Wind River Basin all Summer long, the TOWR-sponsored Washington state class in June, and a Connecticut class in November.

For those of you who have signed-up for the Wyoming class, or are considering it, here is a link to tourist-type activities in the Basin.

We are also only a couple hours away from Jackson and Yellowstone National Park.

See you in class!