Category Archives: Earthquake

Congress Tells FCC to Remove EmComm Impediments

I received an ARRL legislative alert email with some good news for ham radio operators like me and perhaps not so great news for property owners who want antenna restrictions.

Congress has directed the FCC to conduct a study of the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and disaster relief. The FCC was directed to identify

“impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications, such as the effects of unreasonable or unnecessary private land use restrictions on residential antenna installations.” Finally, the study is to make “recommendations regarding the removal of such impediments.”

Driver Cell Phone Ban Exemption for Ham Radio

I received the following in email from Nye County, Nevada Hams:

Here is link to the amendment that added the ham radio exclusion:

SB 140 in PDF.

Read it carefully.

The law is primarily concerned with hand held wireless devices, further the law avoids discussing communication/electronic equipment mounted to the vehicle.

A ham radio mounted in a car with a microphone is not a hand held wireless device.

A handi-talkie is a hand held wireless device.

The follow are the exemptions passed in senate bill 140

2. The provisions of this section do not apply to:

(a) A paid or volunteer firefighter, emergency medical technician, ambulance attendant or other person trained to provide emergency medical services who is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment.

(b) A law enforcement officer or any person designated by a sheriff or chief of police or the Director of the Department of Public Safety who is acting within the course and scope of his or her employment.

(c) A person who is reporting a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity or who is requesting assistance relating to a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity.

(d) A person who is responding to a situation requiring immediate action to protect the health, welfare or safety of the driver or another person and stopping the vehicle would be inadvisable, impractical or dangerous.

(e) A person who is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as an amateur radio operator and who is providing a communication service in connection with an actual or impending disaster or emergency, participating in a drill, test, or other exercise in preparation for a disaster or emergency or otherwise communicating public information.

Please note paragraph 2e the amateur exemption, the final statement of “or otherwise

communicating public information” exempts all amateur communication as amateur radio by design is only communicates public information.

It also makes handi talkies legal. Get a Ticket and argue the point with a judge.

Also note exemption does not include CB Radios, but again a mounted radio is not a hand held wireless device. Get a Ticket and argue the point with a judge.

Canned Food Rotation Systems

FIFO Can Tracker- Food Storage Canned Foods Organizer/Rotater/Dispenser: Kitchen, Cupboard, Pantry- Rotate Up To 54 Cans
FIFO can rotation system
Having a supply of canned goods is the easiest way to prepare for a market supply interruption due to an earthquake, maybe a hurricane, or perhaps flood water or snow blocking the roads.

There are plenty of examples in the news about people forced to stay in their homes without power and water for weeks or months. If you were in that situation, what would you do?

It will take some time to grow a garden for food self sufficiency under the best conditions, and it’s not easy even then. You’ll need food and water to get you through the planting process, which would be great if the ground isn’t frozen or flooded. You might have to wait to plant. Hence the need for storing food. And do you even have the seeds for edible plants on hand? Just asking.

If you stick the newest cans from the store at the front of your cupboards, you’ll be tempted to just grab the last ones you put in, neglecting the ones in the back, perhaps beyond their expiration dates, thus wasting food or taking a risk of eating spoiled stuff.

I heard about can rotation a few times on The Survival Podcast, and am ready to jump in and get a system myself. Shelf Reliance’s CEO, Steve Palmer, was interviewed about his company. Listen here: “Steve Palmer of Shelf Reliance on Food Storage and Global Events.”

Food prices are going nowhere but up, faster than most anything else. If you buy now cheap while you have the money and it still has its full purchasing power, you’ll eat better later.

Looking around Amazon, I see can organizers for any shelf size, with some that are designed just for smaller soup sized cans. The one shown here, like most of these kind of systems, makes it easy to take cans out in the order they were put in.

To put it another way, a “first in, first out” system. For canned goods if not Christian souls, the first should be first and the last should be last.

Radiation Map and Potassium Iodide

L.A. Times and KTLA TV Channel 5 have published an online report about the run on Potassium Iodide at California drug stores and the Surgeon General’s recommendations for appropriate use.

See CBS video “Radiation fears spark panic buying of potassium iodide in U.S.” at YouTube.

To get around price gouging, perhaps potassium iodide is still available at cost directly from Anbex, the manufacturer of IOSAT.

A network of volunteer remote Geiger counters is organized on a handy map display of the continental U.S., online at Radiation Network.

Bumble Bee Transceiver Experiment

Bumble Bee transceiverI’ve been getting back into the ham radio hobby because of my belief that off-grid communications capability will be needed in the rough times ahead.

The good news for the ham recruit is that all that’s required these days is to learn enough basic electronics to pass a test and some radio operation rules. Morse code is no longer a requirement for any level of the Amateur Radio Service “ham” license.

If you still have some cash, new equipment has some great features and is easy to get on the air. Used equipment can be purchased cheap on eBay or Craig’s List, but there may be some challenges getting it to work. Or you can go crazy and assemble your own lightsaber, I mean, radio gear. I’ve got even more ambitious kit building planned.

What you won’t be doing with new, used or homebrew equipment is paying a monthly bill to some telco or cable company for the privilege of using the public airwaves. A comforting thought if you’re concerned about the devaluation of currency, further job losses, business bankruptcies or other economic disasters.

I hooked up a QRP Mini-Watt board to connectors drilled into the back of a Bumble Bee tuna can last night. It’s a transceiver, thus it can send and receive Morse code signals as designed. The 40-meter band it’s on reaches up to 500 miles during the day and extends worldwide at night. It runs off a 9-volt battery. Here’s an mp3 of one minute of audio received on the 7.030 MHz frequency the tuna can is tuned into.


The audio is actually coming from the tuna can circuit via the ear bud output, not another receiver! (The catch is that instead of the rubber duck antenna shown as a dummy load to test things indoors, the antenna for the audio recording, and for communications use generally, is more than 25 feet of random wire outside, connected to a grounded MFJ-904H travel tuner. The tuna is tuned, man!)

Wait a minute. Didn’t I just say that Morse isn’t used anymore? Nope. Morse is more popular than ever, it’s just that the FCC doesn’t test licensees as a requirement now. It’s still one of the allowed digital modes in the amateur radio spectrum.

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of handheld, mobile and base station FM voice gear on VHF and UHF, as well as SSB voice on shortwave, computer modes that don’t need the Internet and even television.

We’re likely to see extended water and power outages in the near future for a number of political and economic reasons, a few of which are described in my personal blog post, “Power and Water,” with links about each point linking to major news source headlines.

Not covered in that post is the continuing drought threatening water supplies and hydroelectric power generation, or short term disruptions due to earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters. With more subscribers relying on Internet based phone service and cell phones, most people will be out of touch if the power goes out for an extended period.

You can try to use CB (11-meters), FRS (UHF) walkie talkies or those 49 MHz models for kids if you just won’t get a ham license. Or you can be prepared as a fully trained Jedi, er I mean, licensed ham operator and actually find competent help within range when you need it.

Preparedness Kits for Home and Away

  Travel Preparedness
The author of Build The Perfect Survival Kit was interviewed on The Survival Podcast episode, “An Interview With John McCann.”

Among many other topics, McCann described a very simple fishing setup and other handy items that could fit in a belt and get past security checkpoints.

I caught the following UCTV show on cable. Great ideas for preparing for water, power and/or gas interruptions are also shown in the video, which happens to be about prepping a house for earthquakes, “Home Preparedness in Earthquake Country.”

“First Aired: 4/26/2010
59 minutes”

“California is earthquake country. Dr. Matt Springer of UCSF shares valuable insights into how we can prepare now for our next big shake. Dr. Springer illustrates precautionary measures we can take at home to protect ourselves and our families from the effects of a major earthquake. (#18193)”

I personally experienced all the recent big quakes mentioned in the video: the 1971 Sylmar earthquake as a kid in Orange, CA, the 1989 “World Series” Loma Prieta (Santa Cruz) while I was working in San Francisco, and also the 1994 Northridge quake which collapsed part of the 10 freeway near the apartment I rented in Culver City.

Recently, TSP host Jack Spirko created a four-part video series on YouTube, “Survival Fishing With Flowers,” on how to catch small lake fish with found tree branches as a pole, only a little flower as bait, and how to catch catfish unattended with a floating empty water bottle and some paracord, typical monofilament fishing line and a snelled hook.