So with the thought experiment of a fictional occupation of the Southeast and setting up a listening and signal outpost, a lot of solid answers have been posted. Here’s my take on the situation.
What equipment will you have delivered first, and why?
Of the listed equipment, the first items to be brought include the SDR play, one computer (ideally this would be a good time to point out how neat a Raspberry Pi can be…), the Bearcat scanner, the four DTRs, the Baofengs, both the F6As, the 12x FRS HTs, and the TA-312s. Supporting those will be the LMR-400 rolls, the RG-8x, two of the spools of fence wire, and the insulators.
The first priority is listening. The SDR and Bearcat accomplish this at the local level, as do the Baofengs. Redundancy matters. The F6As have far further utility in their wideband RX capability, and with short runs of wire as an improvised antenna make good compact units. The FRS units are for my OPs and locals recruited into the organization- they run .5w of power and are idiot-proof…requiring no training in an already stressed environment. The TA-312s will be in tow for communications between transmitting and listening sites along with the dual strand commo wire. Finally, the 50 ohm transmitting line is a must, as it’s harder to come by. The 75 ohm cable was abandoned- you can find that anywhere. The fence wire is needed for obvious reasons (antennas) as well as the insulators.
How will you provide power to your equipment? Provide a power plan, including contingency for weather, and including risk assessment for enemy detection.
The majority of the equipment is handheld and compact- and can be run from AA batteries. They’re easy to come by, and probably still will be come hell or high water. Seriously. In the near term however, the charging bases for each of those radios are brought along. Baofengs in particular are quite power efficient, as is the TH-F6A. EVERYTHING IS CUT OFF, save for the Bearcat running close call, when not needed. For my watchmen, keeping an FRS radio on one interoperability channel is the go-to- why? Half-Watt transmitting with nothing really needing to be said. Break squelch in morse code. Think outside the box. The DTR could also be used in this role- but until the posture changes with increased OPFOR activity, keep it as simple as possible.
One of the items I would have brought along is a power-pole equipped set of battery clamps- I can run anything (within reason) from batteries I scrounge on the move. There’s a lot more power sources out there sitting idle, even now, than most people realize. Under duress, while others are panicking, the calm thinking man can do well.
One important note to make here is that the power port on the side of the Baofeng extended battery matches the size of the power port on the back of a Yaesu VX-series charging base AND the Yaesu 817. Those items were not included in the scenario, but for information purposes, I can run all three of those items from the same Power-Pole cable. That’s why standardization, and figuring out NOW what you can standardize, matters bigtime.
Concerning enemy detection, we’re minimized by just listening as well as the fact that the primary equipment is easily hidden. My OPs, carrying low power sets I have running spares of, are not likely to get rolled up. But tossing a FRS radio is not a problem.
What equipment, if any, will you want to bring with you beyond what you have been given so far? What antennas do you need to have, and how will you provide them if they cannot be locally acquired?
The equipment I’d want is mostly what I’ve already named- a couple of Yaesu VX7Rs with the charging bases, AA battery packs for them, and of course, my trusty 817. The 857 would be a better from the frequency range it can cover ( the 817 doesn’t rave the ability to receive the last two MURS channels, Marine, or NOAA, for example) but is more power hungry and harder to conceal.
There was a number of older equipment I purposefully left behind- for starters, they’re large, takes up pack mule space, undeniably contraband, and power hungry. The IC-2 HTs are also very old, which means the batteries are in unknown condition. They may hold a charge today, but tomorrow, who knows. And while right now I can get on flea bay and buy more, that ain’t happening in our scenario. You’re also gonna want a fold up solar panel and charge controller. They’re a dime a dozen and relatively cheap these days.
Everything I own, signal-wise, can be run from 12v Power Pole equipped cables. This includes the charging stands for HTs. I also have multiple wall warts that are easy to cut and equip with power poles to run scanners and such from scrounged 12v supplies. I cannot emphasize enough the value of getting on one standard.
One reason I brought the amount of wire I did was for the ability to make any antenna I may need (because it’s what I do…as long time readers know) . In this case, since my requirements include direction finding, making a simple Yagi can do the trick. An easier option is building a receiving loop (what you really need is the butterfly capacitor for tuning, which the TV boxes are the easiest field source for this) to find the Null, which is the direction of the transmitter we are targeting- it’s simple and works- check here for basic instructions.
You’re also going to need a few maker’s tools. A butane soldering iron and a full size Leatherman or Gerber tool is a must. I’d also carry a bag of Anderson Power Poles, the crimps for them (they make life so much easier than using pliers) and a set of standard wire strippers. Electrical tape and duct tape as well, along with a small spool of bank line. You can carry much more bank line that 550 cord, with it hoisting antenna lines just the same.
What cables, connectors and adaptors are you likely to need? Training materials?
I’m gonna be carrying extra UHF connectors as well as adapters- F Type for 75 ohm TV coax, SMA for the HTs. I’m also gonna be carrying along several Split Post adapters for making antennas, with BNC-UHF adapters already connected to make attaching coax simple.
As for training materials, I’ve brought a digital copy of Lawrence Myers’ Improvised Radio Jamming and Spy Comm for reference on a couple micro SD cards, hidden in a junk android phone and somewhere else less desirable.
For our monitoring mission, I think with that most bases are covered. Transmitting would be a bit different animal, but with what’s already been listed here, it’s entirely doable. But, as Mors Kochanski famously said, “the more you know, the less you carry.”