List for Self-sufficient Team Communications


The following is based on my experimentation and experiences with field radio operation. I am blessed with the opportunity to operate field portable, almost monthly, while camping with a Boy Scout Troop. Sometime the duration is a single evening, most times a weekend, and annually for a week long event. Sometimes the setting is urban, mostly it’s at a state/regional park, and sometime the setting is remote wilderness.

Initially this task of supporting communications seemed daunting, as experimentation continued, clarity formed about what was ‘need to have’ and what was ‘nice to have’. There is no single answer, but there are several capabilities and systems that need to be thought through and tested. With that, I present a list that tries to address those capabilities and systems required to provide comms support for a group.

The task is to, in a self-sufficient manner, support a small group’s communications needs; that group could be anywhere from a Scout troop at a camping event, to a team helping with disaster relief, to a community protection team (which is kind of disaster relief). The goal of the list provided below is to identify, at a high-level, the necessary capabilities and systems. Once that is established, we can discuss suitable means to address each.

Communications Capabilities

  • HF NVIS communications for regional communications
  • Squad radios for team member communications
  • Base radio to support squad radios; depending on operating environment, either simplex with control operator, cross-band repeating, or same-band repeating

Antenna Systems

  • HF NVIS antenna system
  • Antenna system to operate with base radio

Support Systems

  • Antenna support system; needs to be adaptable to the operating environment (setting up in a desert is different than setting up on an urban rooftop)
  • Power system; enough capacity to operate all radios and support systems for event duration
  • Human sustainment; water, food, shelter suitable to the operating environment and duration of event
  • Transportation system; suitable to delivery of the radio operator(s) and supporting gear to the event location
  • Maintenance system; all of the above needs to be maintained at an operational level over the duration of the event

I’m very interested in other’s thoughts.

10 thoughts on “List for Self-sufficient Team Communications

    • Outside of my charging system in my apocalypse truck, this is an area that needs further refining. The benefit of my existing experimentation is I know how long 35, 55, and 100 amp hour AGM batteries will operate, how long they take to charge, and how much it sucks to have to carry them over a distance.


  1. Pingback: List for Self-sufficient Team Communications | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. As optional items, I would also include a laptop PC/sound card (such as SignaLink USB) for using digital modes. Certainly for HF and perhaps for slightly more private VHF/UHF simplex local comms.

    I’m interested to hear/see what others are using for NVIS antennas. I have a homemade copy of the old Army AS-2259 antenna, basically an inverted vee centerfed with 450 ohm ladderline (from a tuner), center at about 12-15′ and then ends down to about a foot off the ground, bungee corded to stakes.
    Would really like to test NVIS with other locals within 100-200 miles of central Florida. I’ve made a number of HF contacts from 20m to 40m using this antenna over the SE US, but I wonder if I’m actually getting them in NVIS mode or just regular HF skip.


    • I’ve thought about adding a computer to the list, but here are my two questions:

      1. Do you think there will be enough people with comms up and running, in an adverse field situation, to make the effort worth while?
      2. If yes to the above, is the extra power requirements and technical complexity able to be maintained?

      My current practice is to run fully digitally integrated for grid-up QTH operations, but with simple radios and field antennas when grid-down / portable.

      Thoughts from all are welcome… and maybe this warrants a post of it’s own.


  3. In our prepper discussions with like-minded friends (theoretic only, of course) we came to three-stage scheme:
    (lowest level) inter-team VHF/UHF with low power;
    (middle) team-team and team-base on HF (low-band there 6 m legal);
    (high) team-base and base-base on HF.

    Plus to middle there possible – team transmits on VHF with yagi, listen on HF.


    • I’ve played with a similar 3-radio setup (one using 6m) and found that it only complicated things. My current practice is to use VHF/UHF with HTs in the field and a more powerful mobile/base setup connected to a decent antenna 20-30 feet up. With that type of setup, I can hear and talk to all team HTs. Then for other regional comms, I can park a 2nd VFO on another VHF/UHF simplex or repeater frequency, and/or use HF NVIS. That allows a single mast for both a single VHF/UHF antenna and my HF wire(s).


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