The Grumpy Editor's Twitter experience
Posted Sep 14, 2010 1:31 UTC (Tue) by Trelane
In reply to: The Grumpy Editor's Twitter experience
Parent article: The Grumpy Editor's Twitter experience
If I were in your position, I think I'd have went to ham radio and probably a police scanner first. I know the ham community is pretty serious about helping with disaster response, and it should be high SNR. Good reason to make sure hardware to at least receive that stuff is handy.
Good advice. What happens in my experience (from a weather net) is that the ARES net is called on a local repeaters. Once that happens, things are very ordered. Net control controls who can talk, although if there's an immediate danger of life or property happening and there's no other way to get the message out quickly (they (and you) can even transmit on unauthorized frequencies and modes, but it'd better be a very very clear-cut case of life or property being in immediate danger and there being *no* other way to get the news out), they can talk out of turn. If there's a sufficient lull, net control can let anyone report in their sightings as they see it, but if things get to going too quickly, they'll restructure it. If you listen in, you'll hear status reports from the local authorities (often, they're hams or connected with the ham community, and net control or designated message passers will pass the news.
When the tornado came through south of town here, I was quite well informed about what was going on where, since I was in the weather net.
They can also carry traffic between hams over distance, so it also is good if you need to get a message out; find a ham and have them forward the message (as long as it's domestic; things get more complicated if the hams need to pass the message internationally (generally, the answer is "no, you can't." iirc). It's not done as much anymore with cell phones and pervasive internet, but it's an option.
It's also completely legal to listen in to ham (or any) frequencies; it is only illegal to transmit without having an appropriate license for the frequency you're transmitting on (and the mode potentially, e.g. spread-spectrum methods).
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