A Reader Sends: Buckholts, TX AAR

Via Michael Adam at Battleroad USA:

The BattleRoad 2Day “III%er-Grid Down” Communications Course went off this last weekend with a great turn out and some really fantastic information targeted at teaching folks how to initiate and maintain communication in a grid down situation, and the ways in which you can use your communications equipment and the wide open airwaves as the basis for your intelligence gathering program.

Sparks31 is a walking encyclopedia of radio knowledge. If it emits radio waves, carries a voice signal, or is printed in a radio communications manual somewhere, Sparks31 knows about it and can speak informatively onit.

We decided to forgot the normal first day of classroom followed by the second day of FTX, ( field training exercise) as we expected rough weather on Sunday. This allallowed us to use the good weather on Saturday to work outside and use Sunday for the classroom. We started off on Saturday, with 19 attendees from all over the country, with all levels of experience, working on setting up equipment, building antennas and establishing communication with distant stations.

This lead to communication with folks from all over the United Sates, as well as stations in Berlin, Paris, Cuba and dozns of other distant stations.
We then worked on undrstanding the different types of equipment, the capabilities and the limitations of the equipment, ways to enhance capabilities, accessories.

Sunday we worked all day in the classroom, learning the basics of radio networks, how to search out frequencies and identify traffic coming over the airwaves. Ways to monitor traffic, while remaining as discreet as possible. Additional equipment available to use for montoring the airwaves, determining the locations of signals, masking signals, radio security, land lines, and enough more to fry almost any but a hardened radio geeks mind. I am still trying to process all of the information.

We also discussed setting up networks with the folks who attended and ways to us this information to help gather information, pprocess it and send it up the line.

We are looking at setting up another course in the near future with Sparks31. If you would like to be a part of it, be sure and message me with dates that you might be able to attend. Looking at a February/March block.

My thanks to all who attended and made the class such a great event.



We had a good turn out at the COMINT/SDR Class yesterday.  A few attendees showed up with their RTL-SDRs already installed and running on their PCs.  They get bonus points for their initiative. Some were running HDSDR in preference to SDR#.  Both are good pieces of software, and that’s one of the nice things about running an SDR. You can always try a new piece of code.

After a quick PowerPoint presentation, we managed to get everyone up and running with the following software:

  • SDR#
  • ADSB# with ADSBScope
  • RTL-SDR Scanner
  • Unitrunker

The instructor then brought out this piece of gear:

IMG_20141212_224304728Now that class is over, it can be disclosed.  This is an FM Wireless microphone Radio Shack used to sell as a kit (Cat# 28-4030).  I bought it 20 years ago for $10 at a local Radio Shack.  I forget whether it was on clearance or not.  For those into ancient history, you can read a review in Issue #10 of Cybertek at http://servv89pn0aj.sn.sourcedns.com/~gbpprorg/2600/TAP/cybertek/.

Students were told that it was an RF emitter, and that it was within the frequency range of their RTL-SDRs. They were then advised to start at the top of the band and work their way down.  The students with SIGINT or other communications monitoring experience were among the first to find the unit, but at the end everyone discovered it was emitting in the FM broadcast band around 91-92 MHz. with rich harmonics beyond 1 GHz., and had a lot of frequency drift.

There was also quite a bit of discussion regarding communications monitoring/COMINT for the 3% and prepper applications. Class ended around 1730, and I think everyone went home knowing a little more than they did when we started.

Caught a Guardrail last weekend.

During the FTX at last weekend’s 3%/Grid-Down Communications Class, I was demonstrating the RTL-SDR.  I had ADSB# running with ADSB Scope. After a few minutes, an aircraft with an IACO24 ID of ADFE4A and a registration of 94-0138.  A quick OSINT check showed the aircraft to be one of these:


That’s an RC-12.  The one in question I found flying overhead last weekend belonged to the 339th MI Company, a US Army Reserve unit out of  Ft. Worth TX.

Further OSINT inquiries also netted this document:


There are still a few slots available for the Communications Monitoring and COMINT with SDR Class this Saturday in Waterbury, CT. Among many other things, this class will show you how to detect stuff like an RC-12 flying overhead, and other ways to stay apprised of goings on via electronic means. It focuses on the use of the inexpensive RTL-SDR, but other equipment will be discussed and demonstrated.

In an age where OPFOR owns 90% of the mass media in the United States and uses it as a propaganda/PSYOPS tool, you need to know how to get information about activities in your AO so you can plan and act accordingly. This class will help you do it.

Click here to sign up.

News On The Road

I’ve mentioned the importance of communications monitoring for obtaining news and information (communications intelligence) during a grid-down scenario.  While I’ve concentrated on the VHF/UHF side of the house for the purpose of determining local conditions, that does not lessen the importance of the lower frequencies, such as the shortwave bands.

Those of you with an HF ham rig such as an FT-817, SG-2020, IC-7200, KX-3, etc. already have the capability to tune the shortwave spectrum for broadcasters, non-broadcast “utility” stations such as FEMA et al, and amateur radio nets.  However some of you may not have that capability due to lack of funds.  There are alternatives however.  Companies such as Sangean, Grundig/Eton, and Sony make inexpensive battery-operated portable radios with shortwave coverage.

One issue with many portables is the lack of sideband (SSB) reception capability.  This is the modulation method most oftenused by hams, and also by non-broadcast utility stations. Without SSB capability, you are limited in your listening to broadcasters and the occasional ham running antique AM gear.

Sony-ICFSW7600GR_main_v500This is the Cadillac of Shortwave portables, the Sony ICF-7600.  $160 from Sony.

radio shack shortwaveAnd here is the latest bargain in portables, the discontinued Radio Shack #20-629. $25 on clearance if you can find one at a local Store.

Both of these radios have a BFO (beat frequency oscillator) which enables SSB and CW reception.

Here is the model GP-5 DSP from CountyComm that is very popular with the prepper set. This particular model does not have SSB reception, however a new model is in the works that will do SSB.

dx375Here is my old reliable Radio Shack DX-375 that I’ve had for about 20 years now.  Great radio, but no SSB.

Icom IC-R5And of course the Icom R-5 that is very popular with SOT-A types. Great receiver with 150 KHz. to 1.3 GHz. coverage.  An excellent VHF/UHF Bubba Detector and also a pretty good shortwave receiver, but no SSB capability.


Another Cadillac, the AOR8200 Mk3.  Dc->Daylight frequency coverage and SSB Capability in a handheld for $720.

As you see, there are a variety of shortwave-capable receivers in a wide price range.  If I was limited to one shortwave receiver, I would make sure it has SSB capability.  However do not discount the wideband communications receivers with AM-only HF capability, as there is plenty of information to be gained from listening to international shortwave broadcasters and many hams who run older AM gear are of a preparedness mindset.

Those of you who have read Experimental Methods in RF Design and followed the work of Rick Campbell, KK7B, know that there are ways to make an AM receiver do SSB…

A Reader Sends: Six Meter Squad Radio

A reader sent me an email asking about this HT:


6meter_wouxun - display

Note the display.  This is a 2 meter/6 meter dual-band radio.

6 Meters, 50-54 MHz. Interoperable with a plethora of military surplus tactical radios such as the PRC-10, PRC-25, PRC-77, PRC-68, and SINCGARS. Good simplex band in rural/wilderness terrain.

Many hams in the 3%/prepper scene have used the Woxuns with much success. They are one of the better Chinese HT models, along with TYT and Puxing.


Build yourself a Jungle Antenna cut for 6 Meters if you want to really reach out.

A Reader Sends: Ferguson, MO – National Guard OSINT Commo Equipment Analysis

In the 3%/Grid-Down Communications Class, I mention a few times that OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) supports COMINT (Communications Intelligence).

One of my readers send this piece in to show how this can work for you:

Ferguson, MO _ National Guard OSINT Commo Equipment Analysis

Here is some more OSINT from the Show Me State:


Missouri Air National Guard Master Sgt. Anthony Gordes, of the 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, of Jefferson City, makes a call in New Madrid while standing in front of the Unified Command Suite. Gordes is supporting Operation Show Me Rising Tide by providing a communications asset. (Photo by Matthew J. Wilson)

Missouri Air National Guard Master Sgt. Anthony Gordes, of the 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, of Jefferson City, points to rising waters on a levee in New Madrid while standing in front of the Unified Command Suite. Gordes is supporting Operation Show Me Rising Tide by providing a communications asset. (Photo by Matthew J. Wilson)