Should you get a Ham Radio License or Hide from the Government?

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Last Updated on November 6, 2020

I remember cruising around some of the blogs I frequent last year I believe and ran into one YouTube channel from a prepper who said he refused to get his HAM license for anything. I can’t swear by it, but I think I remember who he was, but that isn’t important. In this video, he proceeded to show how you could look up any Ham radio license holder’s address from several different websites. He did this in response to someone who left very incendiary comments on his blog if memory serves, and used this as a lesson in both OPSEC and how it’s bad for the government to have your name on any lists.

In another video, this same prepper went on to explain and demonstrate his own personal Ham Radio setup complete with a really nice antenna that was suspended from two trees and hidden from view on his private retreat. He also shared additional comments about how he would never get his Ham radio license because he didn’t need to be on any government lists. His rationale for this was if we even had a grid-down scenario (SHTF), the first place the government would go would be the Ham operators and take them offline.

Now, without getting into all the reasons why I may believe this guy may be wrong about using a ham radio and what the government would do first in an SHTF scenario, this still got me thinking. For a while, I really debated whether or not I should be like this guy and be a conscientious objector to the whole notion of licensing and just be a rebel with my ham radio antenna hanging in a tree keeping my eyes peeled for the FCC. After a lot of thought and some research I decided to pull the trigger and get my Ham radio license and I want to explain why and discuss why you as a prepper might want to do the same.

Isn’t Ham something yummy and delicious?

As context, let me explain what Ham radio is to those of you who aren’t familiar with the term. Ham Radio is also known as Amateur Radio and is a network of radio communications that rely on antennas and individual pieces of equipment to communicate using radio waves. Ham Radio has many strengths but chief among them for Preppers is its ability to be counted on in a disaster. Ham radio is perfect for grid down communications.

Ham radio is a valuable Prepper skill.
Ham radio is a valuable Prepper skill.

Why is Ham Radio perfect for grid-down scenarios? It is because even beginner ham radio operators can still communicate if there is no electric power, satellites, or cellular service. That is the primary reason they are the go-to method of communication for preppers as well as emergency response teams in virtually every large city. With the right equipment, Ham operators can talk to people in other countries using technology that was around in the early 1900s. If some disaster knocks out the cell phone service, emergency communications can be routed through Amateur Radio (ham radio operators) and there will still be methods you can keep in touch with others in your family, group, region, or state pretty easily.

Ham Radio Walkie Talkie
RF Power Output: (8w/5w/1w) High /Medium /Low Power Switchable, Programmable Amateur Radio Supports Keyboard or PC programming (for Outdoor /Home /Workplace, etc.)

Ham or Amateur radios fall under the control of the FCC and there is a licensing process associated with being able to communicate on the radio. These ham radios allow you to broadcast on public frequencies. In order to speak on the air legally, you must first obtain your Technician level license and a call sign from the FCC. Your name and information will be listed in at least one public database and this information is freely accessible to anyone who wants to look.

Reasons Why You shouldn’t get a license

Like my friend above, I had some initial concerns regarding licensing because like any good Prepper, I am concerned with OPSEC. Even if I wasn’t into prepping, I wouldn’t want my name and address posted anywhere that someone could easily access it and part of communicating on Ham Radio is that you are required to give your call sign. Anyone you are talking to, or anyone simply listening in can look up your call sign and see where you are from. Broadcasts over ham radio are public and anyone listening in on the same frequency can hear what you say. After learning all of this I started to weigh my options with Ham radio.

Like I mentioned above, Ham radio is probably the single best – disaster-proof communication method the average person can use. As I began prepping my own family, the topic of communications came up several times. How would I communicate with my family in an emergency? How would we get news from others if for some reason there was a media blackout? The ubiquitous FMRS walkie-talkies that everyone has are very effective at limited ranges (much less than 1 mile usually), but what about longer distances? Ham Radio addressed both of those concerns nicely.

The only problem was that darned license.

At this point I could do one of two things. I could either get my license and put my name and address out there for everyone to see or I could simply buy the radio equipment and use it illegally. The thought process for some people is that if TSHTF, nobody is going to care if you have a license so the latter option is one I considered just like the YouTube guy above.

How hard can it be to get your ham radio license?

Ham radio is an almost perfect preparedness item you should have in your stockpile.
Ham radio is an almost perfect preparedness item you should have in your stockpile.

It turns out that two things influenced my decision on whether or not to be a law-abiding citizen. The first and most obvious was my address out there on the interwebs. To get around that, I simply purchased a PO Box in a nearby town and used that for my FCC information. This is perfectly legal and still protects my address somewhat. Could someone look up my name, and then cross-reference me in the phone book? I guess so, but who are we talking about here? If you have a psychopath running around trying to find you, chances are there are much easier ways of getting to your house. If this is in a post-collapse scenario, I have bigger problems.

Now, does that mean I should let my guard down and talk about anything on the radio? Not at all. The airwaves are public and anyone can listen in. For that reason alone, you should take great care in choosing what you talk about or divulge when you are talking on the Ham bands.

The second and more important factor that influenced my decision was the learning curve that is associated with Ham Radio. Getting started is pretty simple and once I had a radio, I was listening in on channels fairly quickly, but using a ham radio comfortably takes some time and there is so much you can do that is outside of dialing through some frequencies. To fully take advantage of Ham Radio, I would need to practice and you can’t do that illegally, well without the risk that is. Technically you can get on the radio and start talking without a call sign or you could lie, but just because radio waves are invisible, that doesn’t mean you can’t be found. Hams make a game out of finding antennas and it’s called a fox hunt. If you are talking on the radio and shouldn’t be, someone can report you, they will find you, and the fines from the FCC are steep.

Baofeng makes a great, affordable radio for preppers.
Baofeng makes a great, affordable radio for preppers.

On the Radio – Almost

So with all that said, I went and took the exam for my Technician level license and passed. Now, I have a call sign and my name appears in those databases that some preppers avoid like the plague. I am looking forward to finally being able to talk on the radio in my beginner ham radio style, but more importantly learning about the different frequencies and antennas I can use to communicate to others should our normal method of communication go down. I think of this as a decent trade-off for being able to communicate legally over the radio and besides, it isn’t like my name isn’t in several databases already. I am in the database for prior military service, the firearm database, IRS database, etc. etc. If they want to find me they already know where I am and just because I have a radio now, that won’t be much more motivation to come get me I don’t believe. We’ll see.

I will add some Ham links to the site on our Resources page and will post from time to time on this subject as I learn more. I think if you are seriously considering how you could communicate in a grid-down environment, HAM radio deserves a close look.


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Having a ham radio set up and operating might prove to have barter value. And if the government decides to shut ham radio down they won’t come knocking on our doors they’ll simply jam the frequencies. I have my license, I keep it current, and I have alternate sources of power should the need arise. My biggest concern is that if you start transmitting in a post-SHTF situation, you will be in effect advertising your location. Not because of some database or list but as you pointed out, it’s easy to home in on a radio signal.


I hear you Sparky and have pretty much the same attitude. I haven’t really thought about Ham as barter though, but that does make perfect sense. You wouldn’t probably be talking about your base station, but the new HT’s are affordable enough to stock up on and a couple of those would be worth some serious “money” if the SHTF.

Thanks for the comments!


Douglas Tree Reams

Do u still need a ham license just for the walkie talkie put of the radios I bought to baofengs

Pat Henry

Thanks for stopping by Douglas! You need a license if you are going to be broadcasting on the amateur frequencies. The regular FMS Radios you can get from Motorola in the stores do not require a license. If you are going to broadcast on a Baofeng, you will need a license. Unless I am mistaken, the two most common models only have UHF and VHF bands and those are covered under the FCC guidelines for the amateur service. You can listen in on those radios all you want, but if you want to talk on them, you need to legally… Read more »


You will not need a license for FRS or MURS frequencies. FRS is UHF and MURS is VHF. GMRS is also UHF, a license is needed but few apply.


I happen to own a baofeng, great radio that I use on ham frequencies. The problem is the lowest power level setting on them is 1 Watt. FRS is limited to 1/2 watt. In addition, the radio has a removable antenna, which is also banned for FRS and I believe MURS. There is the GMRS, which has a much higher power limit, but this requires a special GMRS license, which costs like 90 bucks, as a licensed ham, even i’m not allowed to use the GMRS frequencies without paying the 90 bucks (which is crazy I know, they should do… Read more »

Nick Nicholas

You can’t use most of these radios legally on those bands, because while Baofeng radios, while they may claim to be are not FCC Type accepted for those services (Frequencies). Licensed ham radio operator are exempt from requiring any type acceptance, when operating within the ham frequencies to which they hold licensed privileges. The author here is mistake about another key point. It is not just FCC law, but ITU Laws, (International Telecommunications Union, the international agency that, by international treaties. regulate radio access world wide) which applies, and to which illegally using radio frequencies out of compliance applies. The… Read more »


When the SHTF I don’t think anyone will be doing their OO jobs nor will the FCC be looking for illegal operators.It’s also illegal to broadcast on Ham Radio.Transmitting is permitted but broadcasting is prohibited even with a Ham Radio license just FYI.Douglas if I were you I’d buy some EXTRA high capacity batteries for the Baofeng HT’s & keep them charged.If you want my privacy use the encode & decode tones & you will find that most of the average users do NOT use them or even know how to use them.It’s best to get the programming cable for… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for all the comments ICOM1! I guess its no secret which equipment you prefer? 🙂



That is for sure.ICOM 756 PROII,746 PRO,7000,2820H,91AD, O2AT,& a PW-1,along with a couple of Baofeng HT’s & a TYT 220 mhz mobile & a pair of FRS/GMRS HT’s.


Just putting this out there since some people won’t know. The encode/decode tones on the radio are not encryption. They simply allow you to talk without to another person without hearing someone else on the channel. Anyone that wants to can still hear your conversation so don’t convince yourself it’s private.

David Gierszewski

you dont broadcast on ham radio


“If you want my privacy use the encode & decode tones & you will find that most of the average users do NOT use them or even know how to use them.” I assume your referring to CTCSS Private Line or Channel Guard tones.. they are usually used with repeaters and don’t offer any “privacy” all they do is tell your radio (and others on your network if you are transmitting tones) when to open their squelch to receive you. Most broadcasts on GMRS, FRS, MURS, are in simplex mode (unless your using a GMRS repeater in which case you’d… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by DMB
Emily Taylor

Ot if you use super narrownarrowbeam to a terrestrial or sattelite repeafer.

Brian Harden

I would think operating for the shortest amount of time at a mobile location via spread spectrum would be optimal. Afterward, pull out and observe the location to see if who, if anyone, arrives.


The jamming you mention is impossible. Regardless of service, HF & VHF/UHF communications will always be possible.

Joe Freedom

You clearly don’t know that the military already has the ability to jam any frequencies they want.


As Sparky says it will fairly easy to locate any rogue transmissions and jam as they please. The FCC routinely runs locator vans around the countyside looking for illegal traffic and the fines can be stiff, just ask some of the businesses that get caught without licenses. In my area the NRAO also runs searches for spurious signals. An example that comes to mind was a lady who placed a heating pad in her dog’s house to keep it warm during a cold snap and they detected some interference to one of their dishes from it. It wasn’t a legal… Read more »


I hear ya professor! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Trust me…It is NOT that SERIOUS! In a LAWLESS situation…A LICENSE means NOTHING!

Pat Henry

Thanks for the comments.

I agree with you that if we have a complete collapse, a license will be the least of your worries. I got mine now to practice though so that if anything does happen I’ll already know how to use my equipment and will have made contacts I know and trust.



That may be true, but there is something else a license gives you…experience. If SHTF, you will not have any experience on the radio, not know which radio frequencies to monitor/use, you will not have any radio contacts, among many other things you gain not from the license, but from the experience of using the license. Having a license, you learn where repeaters are in your area, how far you can transmit, you gain friends in the radio community who can help you out in an emergency, you learn the best times of days to broadcast, etc. This is stuff… Read more »

Drew Bowler

True about the experience, but I’m not sure if the “contacts” you get with hams that will turn you in for minor infractions such as not having a license… What do you think they’ll do if SHTF and they think they can save their own asses from an invader by dropping a few names of others that they know… Once a tattler always a tattler…

Kurt Glover


Kandi Klover

I love pathetic immature childish HAM shills, the FCC does not and doesn’t care, no one finds anymore because no one cares because they know the FCC will do nothing, just look at most repeaters out there all over america. Get the fuck over yourself.

fly on the wall

As someone who is just beginning the process of looking into Ham Radio (I will be going the licensed route for this discussion), I was wondering about your comment about the power being down. How do Ham’s operate with no electrical power? Battery or solar?


Ideally both! If you are running relatively low power there are lots of options. For handheld radios, you usually have battery packs. I have spare batteries for two handhelds that can last a pretty long time. Two are in the charger while two are in use. Once those go out a battery back up system is what I am going to build. Just a regular 12 volt battery will recharge my hand held batteries several times. Optimally, I will have two 100w solar panels hooked to an inverter to run double duty charging my battery during the day or if… Read more »


Wondering why you need an inverter to recharge bartteries from a solar panel?



I didn’t word that correctly. You don’t need an inverter to charge the batteries. You need an inverter to convert the DC in the batteries to AC for the radio battery charger.

I should have said; solar panels hooked to batteries, with an inverter. Actually, my whole reply sounds a little off in places…. Sorry for the confusion.



i am a licensed 20 yrs now ham and starting pepper if you own property the gov can find you most re is on computer database the advantage to licensing you will join a community that you will find a lot of similar people and they will help you learn to set the equipment and to use it correctly hook to the wrong type antenna and there goes your expensive equipment very quickly and no legal call sign we will not talk to you except in narrow emergency situations with a call we will answer your call questions and help… Read more »


I UNDERSTAND and RESPECT the points and means of being “LEGAL”. The PROBLEM is that the BIGGEST purpose for having such tech is for EMERGENCY purposes! There are plenty of tech and means for CASUAL talk…that are A LOT more PRIVATE than using RADIO FREQUENCIES to transmit and converse. So having a LICENSE to OPERATE during an EMERGENCY is MUTE! Actually, it is PERFECTLY “LEGAL” to transmit through these radio frequencies if there is an EMERGENCY. As for the argument of being able to LEARN the, “How-to’s, What-is, When and Whys”…there is that greater “TECH” that is available that provides… Read more »


the reason HAMs won’t talk to people on the radio without a license is the FCC considers that encouraging unlicensed behavior and the HAM can lose their license. It’s a 35 question $15 test that is good for 10 years. The only legitimate reason for not getting licensed is concern for privacy. You are operating in PUBLIC airwaves when you are licensed. Just like when you drive your car on PUBLIC roads you need a license. These objections are silly.


“mute” hah.
“abonishment” haha.


Where you going to learn this tech when the internet is down and local library is being looted? There will be no Youtube videos. Part of being a prepper is being prepared, hard to be prepared if there is nothing available to prepare with…especially at a time when you need it most. You’ll have to learn the stuff from wherever, and you may only have minutes to do it in. If you are relying on the “emergency” loophole, it better be one heck of an emergency. Much easier to get the license, it only costs a little spare time to… Read more »


For your typical “push the button and talk” operation, no, you don’t need training and experience. But those cheap little walkie talkies will only do you so much good. They’re low power, line of sight only. In a true major SHTF situation, the repeaters they rely on for any real distance will be inoperable pretty quickly (through loss of power, lack of maintenance, commandeered by the gov, theft, etc). The HF bands enable worldwide comm (or close to it) without relying on anything but the operator, his equipment and his skills, but there’s a lot more to running those systems… Read more »


For a jump bag my choice was the Yaesu FT-817ND. It is all Band/all Mode and runs off of a batter pack or DC power and is not much bigger than my flask. The only down side is it transmits at 5W max, but if TSHTF, then you can still make distant contacts.


ANY WAY WE CAN! Extra batteries for the HT’s & extra deep cycle batteries & plenty of gas for the generator as well so everything stays charged.All radios will also run on 12 volts so car & deep cycle batteries work great & at reduced output power they last quiet a while on a single charge!


Good Info! I was wondering about the legality of using a PO box. My address is already in the FCC database, but I think I am going to change it to a PO box. I want to put my call sign on my Jeep license plate, but I don’t want someone to be able to look up my QTH on their iPhone and follow me home…

Nony Mouse

If they’re following you in a car…couldn’t they just literally follow you home?

Brian Harden

If you’re using this level of PerSec, isn’t your car registered under the name of the trust that owns it? Put your call on some vinyl letters on your rear glass, if you must.

Northern Raider

In Europe many preppers are starting to use PMR 446 band radios imported from China to set up a Non Ham comms system for preppers, its looking also very likely we will soon have access to 12 watt SSB CB frequencies unlicenced like the rest of Europe. These 2 m 70cm 5 watt hand sets from the likes of Baofeng and THT have been a boon for us over the other side of the pond, especially as those same sets also have the PMR 446 bands installed as standard.


Thanks for the comments Norther Raider!

Yes, I love the Baofeng units. They are a pain to program manually, but with Chirp its a breeze and I just copy the configuration to all my units in a second. I already have three and plan on getting 2 or 3 more the next time I get some milk money saved up. Hard to beat at $34 each.


Northern Raider

BTW many of us over here have severe OPSEC issues with ham licences.

Brian Harden

There are ways around that.


I find the scenarios of the government looking up addresses of Ham Radio operators so as to confiscate their equipment pretty far fetched among the probabilities, but everybody has their own imaginings. There is another thing to consider – a radio isn’t much use unless there’s somebody to talk with. Ham radio is not just a technology, it’s a community. If you are part of the community (licenced), you have a worldwide network, you talk the lingo, you know how things work socially. If it’s important to relay a message, that could matter. The whole point of having the radio… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for the comments Zeph!

Yes, the far flung scenarios are like a lot of things. Most of us hopefully will never have to worry about the 1% chance that our most ominous thoughts present, but you never know. I agree with you about the community aspect of it though. I am on a couple of nets pretty regularly and have a couple guys I talk with on the side. I imagine that will open up once I get a quad band and can actually work HF.



When the S-it hits the fan there will be no phone service or internet service either. Jamming all of the Ham Radio Bands would not be very likely on VHF/UHF/& HF bands since those bands are also used for communications for the Government as well & they will be communicating.I have several backup power sources to run my Ham Radio gear & other needed emergency items as well for several weeks as well as lots of guns & ammo for defense of my property & family.All of my radios run off of 12 volts so battery power is a good… Read more »

Fox Hunt

I already have a list of HAMs and their addresses local to my area. A simple google search of their call sign points me to most of the websites and forums to which they have accounts. They like to attach their call sign to their signatures or at one time did. Why would I have this information at my disposal? Easy! When SHTF, I know exactly who posted on prepping forums and sites. Most HAMs I have ran into have an air-of-superiority-know-it-all-move-over-noob attitude that is a major turn off. They also seem to forget that their personal information is freely… Read more »


Yeah, there’s some arrogant ones out there, but like most a-holes, they’re the ones you notice most, they’re not the majority. Also, most hams (sadly) aren’t prepped for much more than the 2 day snowstorm. I post all over, but I do not reveal my callsign or any other identifiable info that a civilian can use to find me. Plus, even if you do, I won’t be here when the SHTF unless it’s impossible to move. So you’ll find an empty house. And if I can’t leave, it’s only because things are so bad that you won’t be able to… Read more »

Mike Gushwa

Well Said!


Does anyone have a suggestion as to which Radio would be a good starter? I’m wanting to add one to the house, but am not sure which one would be a good reliable, relatively inexpensive radio. Any help would be great and appreciated.

Ruben Colon

Thank you


Amateur radio proficiency takes some experience/practise. Un-licensed operators (when TSHTF) will most likely lack the expected expertise & proficiency, and will be very obvious to others. Most licensed HAMs will not comm with an unlicensed person. The lookup database has been downloaded a million times and sits on local PC hard disks for immediate access in HAM shacks everywhere, so if the FCC site is down, it doesn’t matter……. So for those thinking the un-licensed m.o. is the way to go, think again, because when TSHTF you want to plug into that HAM community, & not get ignored……..

Doug, K5DHL

Coleman G

As a licensed radio operator, let me leave you all with two thoughts to chew on. First, your address can be concealed by simply using a PO box. That way, nobody will know your exact address. However, that leads me to my second point. Your radio transmissions can be tracked extremely accurately by anyone with the necessary, and relatively affordable equipment.


Pat, would there be a way I could get you the info on the handheld ham I am considering? I would like to add one to my preps but have no idea what I am doing. I would probably never use it except in an extreme emergency, I have no idea if a license is required?? Can you help a prepper out???

Pat Henry

I would be happy to help. What are you looking at?



This is the one I have been looking at on Amazon
BaoFeng UV-5R+ Dual-Band 136-174/400-480 MHz FM Ham Two-Way Radio (Black)
Let me know what you think, thanks for your time.

Pat Henry

This is the same model I have and they are great radios for the money. You will need to invest in better antennas though if you want to get any range or at least I needed to. If you are sitting on a mountain it will be different. How much effort are you looking to spend on this? To have a good HAM set up, you will need the antenna, some adapters, coax cable, programming software and practice. For transmitting you would legally need to have a license. Would the extreme emergency negate this? Maybe, but I recommend the license… Read more »


You can find your closest Ham radio club by going to ARRL.ORG and clicking on the “club” menu. Most local hams will be happy to help and advise you. Many will have the capability of programming your new radio, as well as knowing what frequencies to load in to it. Some may even have equipment that they will let you try, under their supervision, unitl you get your license. A reminder to those who figure to invoke the “ANY FREQUENCY CAN BE — USED IN AN EMERGENCY….” & “I DON’T NEED A LICENSE”. Most amateur operators won’t respond to a… Read more »


All valid points. In addition, if you’re a prepper and don’t understand how to program the various input/output frequencies, encode/decode CTCSS or DCS options, or even offsets for the repeaters, best of luck actually using your new radio toy when the skittles hits the fan. To me, that’s like purchasing a new Rubicon (having never driven anything) and expecting it to go where you need it to when you need it to! Gas? Oil? Battery charge? Tire pressure? Why didn’t somebody tell me I need to know all of this stuff first? Well, we’re telling you now. Ham rigs (and… Read more »

Emily Taylor

I have a HAM license. I knew that risk though that he speaked of and is why i used my ups store box address and further have hidden some radios so I can’t be taken offlinem i also have old guitar amps and such I can scrap into radio transmitters. I dont think the government would shut you down though. They usually just have the hams assist. Plus its not fun not having a callsign cuz even if you get your friends to do it too its still not fun not being able to through a callsign on the repeater… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks Emily,

I use Baofengs too and as long as I am hitting a repeater I have great range.



not to be smart [email protected]@ the test is not that easy. I like to know the 6 years old that passed the test without help?


Get the license, otherwise even if/when SHTF you will be a novice operator at best. Baofeng’s are fine for close range or repeater use, but break out with a few hundred bucks and buy a HF radio. As far as QTH in a database, yeah big deal, you see me out driving, get my call sign off my plate, look me up, go to my house, find my dogs and my cameras watching you, along with my wife holding a shot gun. You’d be better off picking any random house to rob. And if you are worried about the gov… Read more »


I took and passed my Technician test yesterday. Studying for my General Class now. I don’t even have a call sign yet, they said it can take up to a week until my call sign appears on the FCC website. And another week after that before my official license arrives in the mail. My main reason for getting a license was so I can legally have a police scanner in my car without fear of losing my equipment or spending up to a year in jail. While its perfectly legal (at least in my state) to have a scanner in… Read more »

Jon Kreski - AB9NN

I suggest getting a license. Here’s some reasons why. With a license you can legally operate and get valuable experience and advice from very experienced ham radio operators. If you don’t have a license and don’t get the hands-on experience you won’t know what you are doing when you really really need the knowledge. Just a thought…


I agree with you Jon.


The government doesn’t own the radio waves any more than it owns the oxygen or the trees. What are you paying them for exactly?

Pat Henry

The government doesn’t own the ground, but you pay them property taxes. They don’t own the rain, but you pay for water…

You are paying for the privilege of talking on those radio waves without getting arrested. Should that be something we have to pay for, probably not but I think it does keep Ham from becoming another CB where anyone and everyone can talk and say anything they want with impunity. There are a lot of places to get righteous, but there are bigger fights than this I think.

My two cents.


I was just thinking that if you paid someone to let you use their license and radio to practice on then you could use your non license one when the shift hits and be safe from prying eyes… Just a thought:)

Pat Henry

I’m not sure if that would work. Are you saying, pay them for the use of their call-sign? Most hams aren’t going to do that I don’t believe, but you can talk on their radio provided the license holder is right there with you. They are in control and responsible for your transmissions which is perfectly legal. You can learn as much as you can without having to take the exam or purchase any equipment.

I doubt anyone would even ask you to pay any money for doing that though. That is unless you started eating all their food.



Pat, Just discovered your site a short while ago and I admit I’m impressed. Finally some common sense information regarding prepping in general, guns and communications specifically. For purposes of full disclosure, we sell various types of mobile rf gear (including many different models of Chinese and Japanese rigs) and have programmed 2,000 plus radios (to date) for various preppers and/or hams. I’m actually taking a break from developing a frequency programming template (at this hour) for the Yuma, AZ hamfest next weekend, as many hams have enormous amounts of trouble programming their new radios, so we also offer that… Read more »

Pat Henry


Thank you so much for visiting our site and for the compliments and information on the TYT units. I haven’t heard of them, but you bring up some very compelling points which I need to look into.

Let me know when your site is ready, I’d love to see it.


James Davenport

It is called a PO box … If you do not want your address out there….sorry to say most of you preppers are not so smart…

Pat Henry

Thanks for pointing that out James and perhaps you didn’t read the article, but that is exactly what I said too…

Mike (Icom)


I’m a ham from Australia and have an interest in pepping. I’m certainly a fan of people becoming licensed hams rather than flying unlicensed and under the radio. The biggest benefit of becoming licensed is networking and learning from other hams who are more than willing to share their incredible knowledge. When the SHTF and your comms becomes reliant on the ham radio equipment you have you’ll want to be the best prepared you can. Using a radio is far more than just picking up a mic and talking.



Pat Henry

Hello Mike and welcome to our site!

Bradley Hall

if I obtained the required FCC license for broadcasting on GMRS frequencies and purchased a Baofeng ham radio could I use this radio? I am guessing that a ham radio would have more power and therefore could transmit a greater distance than a radio that only broadcasts on GMRS frequencies. I know that many radio companies that sell GMRS radios claim “35-50” mile ranges, however unless you are on the ocean you are lucky to 1 miles. Will buying a amateur radio increase my range?

Pat Henry

Yes you can. The Baofengs can be tuned to GMRS or FMS frequencies but there are other factors to consider. Antennas are probably the largest influencer of range. I would get your Technician license and learn ham frequencies and antenna options for the greatest range. A General license puts you into territory that the Baofeng’s cant operate in. For local/repeater use these radios are awesome.

Brian Harden

Reporting someone who is belligerent and abusive is different from callowly reporting a simple rules violation.

I would think that if everything went south, most operators would do as we’ve done during 9/11, Katrina, and other critical events. Band together and serve the nation. Does your experience with radio operators differ?


I just have to say if you’re prepping for the worst case scenario, then who gives a **** about the FCC.


Whose radio setup is that in the picture? I have exact radio and tuner and like the setup. Curious if I can locate a larger photo.


Referring to the one in the orange case.

Pat Henry

Just puiled that off the internet because it was a nice set-up. I don’t know who owns that unfortunately.

John Brunk

REVIEW? WHAT? Never mind……….. just dump it! ! JOHN don’t need no REVIEWS! NONE!


I know this be a couple years old but I just ordered a UV-82HP and will be getting it tomorrow. I’m reading some of the material now and will be looking for an exam here in Memphis soon. I do like the P.O. box idea even though there are other ways to find me but one less way, may mean one less person I need to defend(pew pew) my home against…

Pat Henry

Hope you enjoy that new toy Pierre and I am sure there will be plenty of Hams in Memphis to connect to. The PO Box idea really only addresses the public nature of your FCC license information once you get a call-sign. It is a relatively painless way around making your home address public for those searches. The more important aspect is getting to know that piece of equipment, how antennas work and meeting up with local hams to gain more knowledge.

Best of luck to you!


This is GREAT NEWS for Hillary supporters!!! Hillary is going to mop the floor with Trump! She is going to tear him limb from limb! Tooth and claw! I mean did you hear Trump last week when he was reading out of his ear piece? What a gut wrenching humility! I was laughing listening to it!


ham operator here, I was considering not getting my license, but then I remembered that the gov already has my name in a list for my search history. and anyway, there are about 40 hams in my small town of about 7k. Are the feds really going to knock down the doors of everyone who is licensed, wether they are still active hams or not? seems like a good way to get people real angsty



I first got licensed in 1965 when a fellow ‘geek’ got me interested in it. Back then the FCC had very strict rules with severe penalties for breaking them. Fast forward to present day and although the FCC does not have the funding to go after violators, the rules ARE still there, so if you became a suspect for doing something illegal, they might just add these FCC violations to the list. (For example, they used tax evasion charges to finally get to Al Capone because they didn’t have much else to go on for his real crimes.) Now, as… Read more »

Thomas Shea

If you don;t like the liscences and the lists you can always just stick with a CB capable of USB/LSB and keep a Mod/Kicker box handy so you can reach out and touch something if TSHTF. With a little tweaking you can modify your CB to reach into some of the amateur bands, like close to 10-meter spectrum I think.


Forget the cheap Chicom radios, they’ll [email protected] the bed just when you need them. Do get your license, that’s not optional snowflake. I am a former Infantry Scout in one of the Army’s best Reconnaissance Units, a former NCO, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I seek to share what I’ve learned to help folks build a skill set that may be needed in the near future. Liberty is at a tipping point, inching further and further to the cliff of tyranny each day. Good men cannot stand idly by. When you’re ready to learn more come visit my blog,… Read more »

Larry Laub Sr

this article shouldn’t even have been written or addressed. If your paranoid of getting a ham license or lazy. You have no business being on the airwaves. and you eventually will be caught and the fines are huge. stay a cb no license needed. the licensing is not that hard and u can use a PO Box. The FCC has limited resources so ARRL and the ham operators do the policing. Would you drive your car with out a license?. would you fly knowing the pilot didn’t have a license?

Pat Henry

Larry, This blog is a forum for discussion and you have illustrated exactly why I did write this post. There are a lot of people that are paranoid about having their addresses listed in public databases although Ham is best for grid-down communications so they are asking these very questions. The whole point isn’t that they would be talking on the airwaves illegally during normal times but would consider ham as a backup for grid down times when a license isn’t even required. I think I addressed both of your points in the article though and recommend getting a license… Read more »

Larry Laub Sr

You still better off to be licensed


There are lots of comments about “When the shtf . . .”, but it is much more likely to hit the fan in a non teotwawki situation where being licensed and familiar with Ham technology and practices can keep you alive until to prepare for teotwawki. Consider Katrina, 9/11, etc.

Behr Palomo

I’m just wanting to buy some handhelds for my sailboat for when we do trips ashore so we can communicate. But I don’t want to accidentally break any FCC regulations or rules about radio channels. How do I know what frequencies are okay to talk on? I saw a Baofeng that looks identical to the picture above for sale on Amazon. Looks great but again how do I know if it is legal?

Mike (Icom)


I’m a ham from Australia and have an interest in pepping. I’m certainly a fan of people becoming licensed hams rather than flying unlicensed and under the radio. The biggest benefit of becoming licensed is networking and learning from other hams who are more than willing to share their incredible knowledge. When the SHTF and your comms becomes reliant on the ham radio equipment you have you’ll want to be the best prepared you can. Using a radio is far more than just picking up a mic and talking.




Get a license, put a post office box on the application.

MP in Ohio

t’s clear that about half of those commenting here are not licensed. Here’s another reason to be licensed. You can’t just grab a ham radio and start using it like a walkie talkie. It’s more complicated. The best way to learn is from another licensed ham operator or by joining a ham club. No credible ham operator is going to show you jack squat unless you’re licensed. Once you are legal, most hams will be happy to take you under their wing and teach you all you need to know. Best option…get licensed.


Hi Pat, I’ve read your article and all of the comments. I have been throwing the idea of getting a ham radio around and like others I was toying with the idea of not getting a license. I now see why that would not be such a good idea and back when I first started thinking about it I was not registered with FEMA. Now that I am not much more hiding I can do LOL so I am going to get my license and I’m now looking at radios. I went and looked at your recommendation although a few… Read more »


When it comes to submitting to any licensing scheme I always ask myself, “Would I do it anyway if I was refused a license?” If I answer “Yes” to this question then I refuse to ask for a license to do something that I already have a right to do.


You are correct, a POB or PMB (Private Mail Box at UPS store or similar) will “cloak” your actual residential address. However, unless one has gone to extraordinary lengths and effort, one’s name and address will show up in an internet search anyway. Voter registration, real estate records, etc. So, “hiding” behind a POB or PMB is only of some value. And “they” are not going to go after all ham radio operators individually to shut them down. The governmental forces will be too busy with the civil unrest. And if the gov wants to prevent you from using the… Read more »


Congrats for writing a thinly apologetic article for having bowed to the system and the fascistic Ham operator culture. “Oh, someone is talking without a license! (He’s doing nothing wrong but license is license — says the fascist — let’s do a “fox hunt”. Let´s hunt him down and rat him out to the authorities! After all, we have been dutiful boot-lickers of the government authority, and so we get to go after anyone who didn’t lick boot like we did! We are good subjects!” This is so sad about ham radio culture. Really, really sad. It is why I… Read more »


If you want to talk over long distances, say to relatives on the far coast, you’ll need to upgrade to a General or Extra license to have access to the HF bands.

As far as a government backlog, I received my softcopy General license by email within a week of taking the test. (And a NICS check last week took only five minutes).

Joe Edge

Just out of curiosity isn’t it true that if TSHTF, I’m assuming that means that the government is taken over By someone and/or otherwise gone. So if there’s no government anymore doesn’t that mean there isn’t an FCC anymore, ergo any license wouldn’t be in effect anymore anyway?
I’m new to all this and I’m getting ready to take the test, but I was just trying to follow the logic here in your blog piece….


A “Ham Radio” license does not give you the ability to just “Broadcast” anything on any amateur frequency. In fact Hams (or Amateur Radio Operators are not allowd to Broadcast at all with the exception of what time is required to tune their equipment. Amateurs are allowed to “Communicate” with other hams. In that process they may transmit a call to any hams that might be able to answer but this is NOT the same thing as Broadcasting…

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