12.24.20

Applied Critical Thinking

This is “officer grade” material from TRADOC G2 Intelligence Support Activity (TRISA) in Ft Leavenworth, KS. As such, your average prepper bloggers would not be aware of its existence, until now. I present it for your personal education and edification.

https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/critthink.pdf

When you have asshole pundits and bloggers posting fake news stories about Chinese invasions, and throwing out dire warnings of events they make up in their head, the ability to perform critical thinking is necessary these days.

In 1990 when Consumertronics published my first book, I had estimated that the country would have at most six years before a total collapse. Thirty years later the status quo remains. So when some Johnny-come-lately who has only been blogging for five years says there is going to be a civil war tomorrow, I’m skeptical because Johnny has not been around long enough to make that prediction. Especially when Johnny was barely out of kindergarten when I wrote my first book. If he, however, uses the methodology in ATP 2-33-4 and shows his work, I might lend some credence to the claim.

Want to learn more? Check out https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/.

08.9.20

Sunday Dispatch For August 9th, 2020 – 0x6715A74

Good morning. On this day in 1892, Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph, and in 1944 the United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council released posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time.

Our Youtube Recommendation for the week is here:

Tropical Storm Isaiah breezed through here last Tuesday, leaving a heck of a lot of damage, and a four-day grid outage in the neighborhood. The biggest take-aways from this one are:

  1. You can never have enough water, and really should have a generator big enough to run your well pump or a gravity-fed cistern as back-up water source.
  2. You can never have enough batteries.
  3. You need to be able to navigate around multiple obstacles to get home.

COMINT collection was successful overall, as many rural town public works/highway departments in the area are still running analog conventional radio systems on VHF and occasionally UHF. Surprisingly enough, the local electrical utility still uses VHF low-band, although a conventional UHF repeater system was also discovered.

One of the better sources of local information was on Facebook “town talks” group pages. Our town pages had all sorts of OSINT on road and business closures, item availability, and grid conditions.

The local power company’s website was totally useless, as the sheer number outage reports broke it. Many people reported that their neighborhood was still being listed as “evaluating outage” after power was restored.

Internet connectivity was and always will be dependent on electrical power availability. Reports showed Telco-provided ADSL lasted longer after the power outage than CATV Internet. Wireless common carrier Internet stayed up, but became overwhelmed as hardwired systems started failing. Complicating matters were issues from a network merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.

We have always said that if you want reliable comms, never trust someone else’s infrastructure. While Amateur Radio SKYWARN and ARES operations were active, disaster radio comms still remain a niche thing, especially in short term disasters where people have enough wireless common carrier connectivity to reach Facebook and make phone calls. It is what it is.

There is a saying, “If the map doesn’t match the terrain, change the map.” We can wax poetic about grid-down communications using Amateur Radio, CB, FRS, et al, but the reality showed that the future is going to be Part 15-based wireless data infrastructure since that’s what everyone has.

04.5.20

A Connecticut Yankee Talks About COVID-19 – #3 – Guns and Police Scanners

Guns

It comes as no surprise that gun and ammunition sales are up. Here in Connecticut, potential first-time owners are stymied because of a combination of shutdowns and the requirement to first possess a permit in order to exercise a fundamental civil right. So, for those of you who up until now didn’t think you needed a gun, and can’t get one because the process to get a Certificate of Eligibility is on hold, remember that come Election Day.

For the rest of you, I’m going to assume you have not owned a firearm before, and just want to get something for a little piece of mind. Congratulations, you have made a step towards self-reliance, preparedness, and self-determination. Now under normal circumstances, I’d tell you to start with a handgun, and get some training in how to use it for self-defense. However, in many places, handguns are more difficult to rapidly acquire compared to long guns (ie. rifles and shotguns), and require time to become proficient in their use. Long guns, especially in the Northeast, have less restrictions on purchase and/or ownership, and are easier to learn how to safely handle and shoot well.

https://www.stoegerindustries.com/side-by-side-shotguns

My recommendation is to get a shotgun, specifically a short, double-barrel side-by-side known as a Coach Gun. If you are of smaller stature, get a 20 gauge, otherwise go with 12 gauge. For ammunition, get a few boxes of buckshot. You are set. In most states, you can simply walk in, buy a shotgun, and leave with it that day assuming your background check goes through OK.

This is probably the safest, most effective home defense firearm for a beginner. It is very easy to check its status (loaded/unloaded) and make safe. Open it up, and look at the chambers. You will either see two shells in them, or not. Since you are a novice, you will want to keep it unloaded until you need to use it, in which case, it only takes a second to insert two shells when the need arises. If you maintain proper situational awareness and security at home, you will have plenty of time to make your shotgun ready if you need to. Finally, those two large diameter barrels are often intimidating enough to fix most problems without firing a shot.

There’s my 11th+ hour gun advice. As always you should check your local/state laws regarding self-defense, castle doctrine, reasonable force, duty to retreat, et al and consult a proper lawyer (not some Internet expert) if you have any serious legal questions.

REFERENCES
https://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gun-shots/2013/08/twenty-plenty/

Police Scanners

There has been a fair amount of discussion, mostly private, regarding an earlier post on National Guard communications monitoring. Based upon the information received, National Guard units are using dedicated talkgroups on their state’s trunked radio system, old-fashioned analog FM the VHF-Low band frequency ranges of 40-42 & 46.6-47.0 MHz, and P25 on 380-400 MHz. So, lacking any other open source information to supplement this data, those are the frequency ranges I would concentrate on.

Now, being that solitary outside activity such as hiking is still considered an acceptable activity in most states during the Coronapocalypse . If I knew of a temporary installation set up somewhere, and there was an open space with hiking trails and few to no people within a 1/4-1/2 mile of said installation, I might go for a hike with a Spectrum Sweeper to see what I could hear. Google Maps is your friend.

Whistler TRX-2

Since states are getting on the trunked P25 bandwagon, it makes sense to get a scanner that has that capability as your first receiver acquisition. My recommendation would be either the Whistler TRX-1 or TRX-2. They are a handheld and desktop scanner, respectively, with P25 and trunking capability. Other than their different form factors, they are the same radio. Which one to get would depend on how you’re going to use it. The desktop has better ergonomics and audio, and if it was going to stay on a desk and never leave home I would go with the desktop version. If you are going to run it in your vehicle, go hiking with it, listen to it in the back yard while working on stuff, et al then get the portable.

Whistler TRX-1

03.31.20

Communications Monitoring During The COVID-19 Emergency – National Guard

Frequency Ranges, Spacing, and Modes

30-88 MHz., FM and FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum), Usually 25 KHz. spacing, but can be as low as 5 KHz. Often encrypted. Unencrypted FM will have PL tone of 150 Hz. (Will decode as 151.4 Hz.) The usual frequencies in this range are:
30.000-30.550
32.000-33.000
36.000-37.000
38.000-39.000
40.000-42.000
46.600-47.000
49.600-50.000

138.000-144.000 MHz.
148.000-150.775 MHz.
AM (aircraft), FM, P25 Modes. Encryption possible, esp with P25

162.000-174.000 MHz.
Shared with other Federal agencies. FM and 25. Encryption possible.

225-380 MHz.
Military aviation (AM) and SATCOM (FM). FHSS and encryption possible.

380-400 MHz. – FM and P25. Possibly some aviation activity on AM. Encryption possible.

406-420 MHz. – Shared with other Federal agencies. FM and 25. Encryption possible.

Additionally you may see National Guard units on their state’s trunked radio system, interoperability, and DHS/OEM frequencies.

My initial advice would be to first sector search the listed sub-bands in the 30-88 MHz. spectrum, 138-144 MHz., and 148-150.775 MHz.

REFERENCE: https://lvassembly.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/consolidatedfreqs.pdf

03.29.20

Communications Monitoring, COMINT, and the COVID-19 Emergency

So many of you are home and have broken out those police scanners and shortwave receivers in a decision to listen for information on the current COVID-19 emergency.

You should concentrate on the VHF/UHF scanner frequencies, because that’s where all the emergency workers with their boots on the ground will be operating. Sites such as Intercept Radio (http://www.interceptradio.com/) and Radio Reference (https://www.radioreference.com/) are your best bet for information.

There have been lists of shortwave (HF) frequencies circulating certain prepper sites and blogs. The lists are 10+ years old, and may have incorrect data, especially for Federal government agencies. Federal government radio license data, as opposed to State/County/Local agency (and non-government) license data, is deemed unclassified but sensitive, and exempt from the FOIA laws. That determination was made in the 1980s, so much of what you see online is that old, and just copied from data that Grove Communications managed to get before it became restricted.

Something to think about is when you have a whole host of communications system capabilities like HF, VHF/UHF, landline, satellite phone, Internet, why would you use (HF) radio for communications when you can, at present, pick up a phone and make a call? The answers are:

  1. Radio is used for group communications (base/HQ->mobile/field units) that are not practical to do via telephone.
  2. HF is a backup for when your other systems are down, or when the communications range exceeds that of your VHF/UHF system.
  3. When you are doing daily/weekly/monthly radio system tests to make sure everything still works.

There are hobbyist web sites that I have mentioned previously where listeners have been doing an excellent job collecting data, https://www.hfunderground.com/ and http://www.udxf.nl/ are two that I like. And with that, I’m going to give you a warning: these are international sites for worldwide SWL hobbyists who specialize in a particular aspect of the hobby: non-broadcast (aka utility or “ute”) communications on the HF bands. Many, perhaps even most of them, don’t give a shit about American prepper stuff. So, if you follow Dean Ing’s (and mine for that matter) advice about treating this like a hobby, you’ll be just fine. If you act like certain members of a few prepper-oriented FB groups I monitor, you’re probably going to get your ass kicked off the site, and lose a potentially good source of information.

Now, with that said, you might not find what you’re looking for if other hobbyists haven’t found it, or aren’t particularly interested in the same service/agency as you. That leaves you to do your own research. In this instance, the FCC is a useful resource.

Regardless of whether the frequency is HF, VHF, or UHF, a state department of homeland security/emergency management agency will still need a license to legally operate on a particular frequency. There might be an exception for a primarily Federal interoperability system, but I don’t know and those who really do aren’t going to say anything publicly because they like their job. Yes Virginia, when I worked in the LMR biz my fellow employees and I were flat out told that disclosing radio system information, even if it was just commenting on publicly available information would be grounds for termination, and we were more or less encouraged to spread disinformation.

Anyway… I went over to the FCC General Menu Reports Site/Market/Frequency Menu to see what I could find. I searched for Private Land Mobile – Public Safety Pool, Conventional (PW) licenses from 2-30 MHz. in the Northeast US, specifically Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. When I found a particular license, I further examined the details to see if it was for the state’s department of homeland security/emergency management. Here is what I found:

Freq. (MHz.)States
2.3274NYCTMARIMENHVTNJPA
2.4124

MARI

VTNJ
2.4154

MA
MENH


2.4204
CTMARI

VT

2.4724







PA
2.5884






NJ
2.8134NY







3.2024NY







5.1364NYCTMARIMENHVT
PA
5.1934
CTMARIMENHVT

5.1964






NJPA
7.4784NYCTMARI

VT

7.8064
CTMARIMENHVTNJPA
7.9334







PA

So we have some data here, and know it is factual in that this frequencies are currently licensed to the states listed. We also see that some frequencies have multiple states licensed to them, while others only have one or two. It would be safe to assume (although one might still be incorrect) that the former might be used for interstate communications and the later for intra-state. Listening to them would help prove or disprove what right not is onlt a theory.

This data is only for the Northeast US, but you can put together your own information by visiting https://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/General_Menu_Reports/engineering_search.cfm?accessible=NO&wild_select=on.

For those of you who might want to look for stuff that’s not licensed by the FCC, a sector search will be useful. Allocation data is available from https://transition.fcc.gov/oet/spectrum/table/fcctable.pdf, and by examining that table, we find the following ranges of interest. (Frequency ranges are in KHz.):

2000-2065, 2107-2170, 2194-2495, 2505-2750, 3155-3230, 3230-3400
4000-4063, 4438-4650, 4750-4995, 5005-5450, 5730-5900, 6765-7000
7400-8195, 9040-9400, 9900-9995, 10150-11175, 11400-11600, 12100-12230
13410-13570, 13870-1400, 14350-14990, 15800-16360, 17410-17480
18030-18068, 18168-18780, 19020-19680, 19800-19990, 20010-21000
21850-21924, 22855-23200, 23350-24890, 25330-25550, 26480-26950
27540-28000, 29890-29910

Under normal circumstances, HF frequencies below 7 MHz. best work at night, those above 15 MHz. work best during the day, and 7-15 MHz. is good 24 hours a day. This is not a hard and fast rule, but instead a good guideline to go by.

Like I said previously, any activity having to do with this COVID-19 thing is probably going to be on VHF/UHF, but moniotoring that traffic is simply a matter of programming your scanner and letting it run. There is less hard data available for HF systems, so those of you looking for a challenge or who are out of the affected area and want to see if you can hear something have the frequencies below 30 MHz. to try. Those of you in the Northeast have a list of frequencies to try, and the rest of you have some information on where to start looking.

Should you feel the need to share your findings, please send me an email to ticom.new.england@gmail.com. Your contributions are much appreciated!

03.27.20

A Connecticut Yankee Talks About COVID-19 – #2

Earlier today I followed our esteemed governor’s advice, and took the family to a nearby state park for a quick walk. (pix shown above) There were a few people here, but they were all friendly, and kept their distance. There were a bunch of picnic benches with grills on site, and many of visitors had brought lunch and dined al fresco during this nice Spring day. I think the next time we go, we’ll pack some sandwiches and do the same.

Speaking of whom, it would appear that Lamont’s handlers had a word with him, as despite considering gun and ammo dealers to be essential businesses, his latest executive order now limits the hours of gun stores to “appointment only.” This is a bit of a sham, as no Johnny (or Jane) come lately in this state is going to walk into Hoffman’s or Cabala’s and walk out with some firepower, because even under normal circumstances there is a bit of a process to get your permit to exercise this particular civil right, and that process is stopped for now. Most of us who have taken care of this, especially since 2013, learned our lesson back then (if not earlier in the 1990s), and have no worries. For the rest of you, remember who passed those laws, and do your best this November to make sure they’re not working at 210 Capital Ave. next year. In the meantime, go read some words of wisdom from my friend Kurt, and when all this blows over, go get your pistol permit and get geared up. At some point I’ll give out my opinions on various guns, which you can take with the same grain of salt as any other self-proclaimed gun expert on the Internet.

I’ve been doing some regular COMINT collection this week, being on an unexpected vacation and all, and can tell you that based on what I’ve heard the past week, the number of domestic and mental health (as in committal) calls has gone up enough to notice with even the briefest of analysis. There’s a lot of information on how to do this on this page, so if you have a police scanner and haven’t had the chance to really play with it, now is your chance.

As you’ve previously read, Cybertek writer Wildflower passed away very recently. He was probably one of the most skilled survivalists I’ve ever met, and you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. One of the first things he ever gave me was a book by Dean Ing titled The Chernobyl Syndrome. It’s out of print, but you can download a PDF over at archive.org. In it, Dean Ing shares this bit of wisdom:

The best way to approach self-reliance in everyday life seems to be slightly less serious, more easygoing: the hobbyist’s approach. You can indulge it longer without tiring of it, so you tend to learn more. You also don’t worry your friends so much; I mean, of course, those improvident right-hearted, wrong- headed friends who think your personal pilot-light has gone out because you intend to affect your own destiny. When you approach self-reliance as a hobby, somehow it worries the dimwits less — while teaching you more.

– Dean Ing, The Chernobyl Syndrome

Now you may think you disagree with this, but after 30 years I, like Dean Ing, along with Mel Tappan, and Kurt Saxon (who all have been doing this way longer than me), have all come to the same conclusion. These guys have been doing survivalism for a long fucking time. Longer than the Internet has been around, and thus longer than many survival experts who owe their existence to the Internet. So think about it for a while.

The late Wildflower’s lab at Cybertek HQ, circa 2012.

A lot of you have spare time on your hands, and now is a good time to start a new hobby. You can start by downloading this file for knowledge and ideas.

So in the course of shopping with the family after the emergency was declared, I watched certain items such as toilet paper and canned goods go off the shelf. Now it’s been a while, so it is interesting to see how quickly restocking occurs where and with what items. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart gets First Place. Sam Walton served in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps. during World War II, and that influence remains in the company today. As an added bonus, many Wal-Marts still sell ammo in common sporting rifle calibers.

https://corporate.walmart.com/_news_/executive-viewpoints/honoring-and-celebrating-americas-veterans

Last place goes to Target Stores. I usually prefer Target to Wal-Mart because they attract a higher class of lowlife than does Wal-Mart. I also see more people wearing face masks and more discarded rubber gloves in the parking lot than I do at Wal-Mart. Target is having a lot of problems keeping canned goods and paper products on their shelves, but if you’re looking for a nice STEM toy for you or your kid(s) (one that’s very useful;), they have the Raspberry Pi on the shelf in electronics for $35.

Supermarkets have so far been somewhere in the middle, and randomly hit or miss for things. Canned and paper goods have been universally scarce at all of them, but their logistics seem to be squared away better than Target, but not as well as Wal-Mart. In the end, I’d say each particular source has been representative of the social class it caters to, which is no big surprise. Recent events and observations have also affirmed my mostly misanthropic view of humanity in general, present company excluded.

For what it’s worth, in my day job I work for a business deemed “essential,” but they modified my department’s hours so only half the team is working on a given week. Except for trips to outdoor places like nice wide open state parks where people are far apart, and buying the usual essentials, I’ve been staying home and working on stuff around here. Catching a case of COVID-19 probably wouldn’t kill me, but it would still suck massively and I’d rather not. If I was over 60 I’d be shanghaiing the kids to do the shopping, and find places off the beaten path for my wanderings, where the chances of finding another human would be pretty slim to none. Or I’d just sit in my workshop and screw around with something, much like I’ll be doing this weekend.

Sit in my workshop and screw around with something…

Those of you who are on various social media have undoubtedly seen the ads for Lost Art Press, and particularly their book, The Anarchist’s Tool Chest. I have not yet read any of them, but in surfing their site, I found one bit of wisdom that made me decide to order a few of their heirloom grade books once the tax refund comes in:

Taking up tools and making something that lasts is one of the most subversive things you can do in this disposable society that encourages – nay, requires – rampant consumer spending.

https://blog.lostartpress.com/2016/01/19/frequently-asked-questions-faq-about-american-anarchism/

03.24.20

Lever Guns For Self Defense

Nice video for those looking to protect themselves in states where modern sporting rifles are verboten, such as Connecticut and New York.

03.24.20

Two Anti-Gun Governors and the Gun Stores They Serve

In recent news, the governors of both Illinois and Connecticut, notoriously anti-gun in their perceived political viewpoints, have exempted gun stores in their COVID-19 shutdowns, citing them as “essential businesses.”

Here is Connecticut:

https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-for-Businesses/Coronavirus-for-Businesses

Who would have thought we would see the NRA say something nice about Governor Lamont?

Here is Illinois:

https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/21288-Gov._Pritzker_Stay_at_Home_Order.pdf

I like that, “for purposes of safety and security.”

So now, the long-term, strategic question is “Why did these two anti-gun governors exempt firearm sales?” The quick knee-jerk answer of “My 2nd Amendment Right.” doesn’t fly here, as they could have easily have either gone the opposite way, and be legally justified initially because of a state of emergency, or they could have simply ignored it. So complementary to the first question is “Why didn’t they use this emergency as a back-door gun control method?”

These are not easy questions, nor is the right answer going to come immediately. However, it might hold the key for future RKBA successes, which at least here in the Nutmeg State are few and far between.