December 21, 2012 is just around the corner. A supposed cataclysmic event is to happen that day. Could doomsday be triggered by a shift in the magnetic poles, or perhaps some unstoppable airborne virus? Who knows! Either way you have to ask yourself, “Am I ready?” If the apocalypse happens in 2012 you don’t want to be caught with your pants down. You’ll need to be prepared. First things first, watch all the apocalyptic and zombie movies ever made. Including the foreign ones! You don’t want to be one of the few humans left not knowing what to do.
You’ve watched the movies and now you must prepare for the worst. You’re going to need a bunker deep inside a mountain, preferably at high elevation – if it’s not magnetic poles shifting it will be global warming that takes us out. You will need some form of communication. That pwned iPhone just won’t do. Sure it’s unlocked for use on any service provider, but on doomsday, it’s more than likely that you won’t be getting any reception. That’s why it’s good to have an amateur radio! Many ham radios act like scanners. So you can listen to different frequencies like airband, police, fire & rescue, CB, GMRS, FRS, shortwave, AM, FM, amateur bands and your local Mickie D’s drive-thru. Look for “wide receive” feature.
To prepare to communicate after doomsday you’re going to need to practice and for that you’ll need to get an amateur radio license. In the US, there are three types of license classes: Technical, General, and Extra. Technical class license is first one you get and has the most restriction on amateur bands. Extra class license has the least restrictions. They no longer test for Morse code. Take one, two, or all three exams for only $14. Go to ARRL.org to see when they are having exams in your area.
Many local amateur radio clubs in the US have an annual Field Day. It’s usually the last weekend of June. Field Day gives hams an opportunity to go outside and test out their emergency radio equipment. Just imagine thousands of people across the country setting up a makeshift communications infrastructure to prepare themselves for an actual emergency. Many times it’s amateur radio operators that are the first to get on the air and coordinate the relief effort. Look up ARES or RACES for more info.
Getting a scanner may not be good enough. Consider getting a software-defined radio. It’s a type of radio that can be connected to your computer via USB. With the help of GNU Radio, you can write custom code to do spectrum analyzing, modulation/demodulation, filters, and packet sniffing. Maybe after doomsday the Internet is severely crippled. Transatlantic telecommunication cables may very well be destroyed. Once human tribes have been established, you and other radio operators can set up bulletin board system (BBS) style nets with the help of software-defined radios.
It’s more than likely that doomsday is not December 21, 2012, but if it is and you got a ham radio consider yourself covered (at least on the communication side.) For the rest of the survival guide I suggest watching those movies.
For more info on amateur radio checkout: [link removed]
Shout outs: Ed, BSoDTV, and the HACKMIAMI crew!
This article, “Post-Apocalyptic Communications,” was originally published in 2600: The Hacker Quarterly (Autumn 2009). Since Dec 21, 2012 is just around the corner I’ve re-released this article to help you prepare. You can view the scanned version of the article here.