Gun store Shooting Locations It is currently Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:19 pm


Rules Brads Guns Rainier Arms McCallen Killer Innovations Fessleman Firearms
WGO Chat Room Rehv Arms Vantage Reloading
Gear Fortis WCA 2A Ind. Pintos WAC
Calendar




Reply to topic  [ 402 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 27  Next
 Secure radio communications : A primer 

Radio programming options
A) Only has a couple channels, and that's to communicate with family or friends 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
B) A, Plus local stuff in your county 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
C) A and B plus stuff in your surrounding counties 8%  8%  [ 2 ]
D) The kitchen sink ( Federal interop, State Patrol, DNR, CBP, etc) divided into manageable zones. 92%  92%  [ 22 ]
Total votes : 24

 Secure radio communications : A primer 
Author Message
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
One of the interesting things that I see, as a comms guy, is everyone running out and buying a $30 Chinese radio. Now, this might seem great, that you can set up and talk to your buddies without spending a lot of dough, but you may be setting yourself up for failure.

The first question I would ask anyone is, what is your mission need for communications? Do you want to listen, coordinate with others using local amateur radio repeaters, for disaster work? Or do you need secure radios to use in a tactical environment? Other questions soon follow...

The benefit of cheap Chinese radios is obvious.. They're cheap, and they work, for what most people need. They can easily be modified for better range (antenna), and power (AA battery packs, cheap rechargeable packs, battery eliminators), but they have some pretty big drawbacks. First and foremost, let's be honest; They're disposable. If you drop it and break it, you don't feel bad.

The issue with cheap radios doesn't end at quality, it's just the beginning, when you realize how limited you really are. Virtually nothing runs on analog anymore, other than WX radio, marine (boat) radio, and ham radio, leaving you out of the loop for using it as a scanner (some exceptions apply, Thurston county, for example). But the biggest drawback isn't in not being able to listen to others, it's others being able to listen to you.

Now, who cares, right? I just told Jim-Bob to meet me back at the shop... I'm on 1 of 20,000 frequencies, no one can hear me, right? Wrong.

Modern technology used in scanners, and even $20 SDR dongles mean I can grab your signal in a matter of seconds, and instantly listen to everything you're saying. Not only that, I can quickly decipher any landmarks, routes, or locations you're using. Further, when it comes to tactical communications, the enemy you think you're sneaking up on, can now know exactly where you are and what you're doing. No bueno.

This is where secure comms come into play. Secure comms started way back in the day with a technology called voice inversion, that would invert the audio around a certain frequency and make you sound like donald duck. It wasn't really secure, just annoying. From there, newer technologies evolved... Into the currently used technologies, like AES or DES, and proprietary software encryption like ADP, and there are classified Type 1 encryption algorithms which are well beyond the scope of this post. More advanced systems implement spread spectrum frequency hopping, like SINCGARS, which reduce the risk of jamming and interception, but is largely overkill for civilian needs.

The least expensive way to jump into secure communications, is with commercially available equipment. This means big name manufacturers like Motorola, Kenwood, Harris, etc. In order to keep costs low, you're going to need to purchase equipment that's used.

In order to figure out what you need, you need to figure out who you're talking to, and develop a comms plan. A standard list of frequencies, channels, and decide on the type of encryption to use, and the encryption key. Modern commercial radios are designed for just such use.

The radio I suggest, is the Motorola XTS5000 in VHF. It's discontinued, but still readily available on places like Ebay. It supports P25, which no other amateur radio company supports, meaning your average ham can't listen in, and because P25 is an industry standard, you can listen to things like WSP. It supports ADP software encryption out of the box, which is not going to be broken by anyone outside of a 3 letter agency, and while less secure than AES-256, it's secure enough for 99% of what people will do. The XTS5K does support AES as well, but that requires additional hardware called a UCM, and a keyloader, and you run the risk of zeroing keys, leaving your radio to be a paperweight.

The XTS5K, being a commercial radio, means it has batteries with high capacity, designed to last a long time, and ability to use aftermarket antennas as well, for greater range. Things such as throat mics, ear pieces, and speaker mics are also readily available, with functions not seen in run of the mill radios, like being able to change volume, or channels, from the speaker mic. It also has the ability to be used in a docking station, turning your portable radio into a mobile radio. You slide the radio in, and *poof*, you now have a mobile radio, and it charges your battery too, hooking up to external antenna as well for greater range.

The radios are set up in a zone/channel configuration, so no longer are you stuck to 268 channels of random crap, you can have one zone set up for one thing, and another zone set up for another, to better organize your channels. I have mine set up by county/area but that's something you need to design into your comm plan.

The XTS5K supports channel announcement, so as you change channel, it can announce what channel you're on. Perfect for a belt or vest mounted radio. You can change channels using a speaker mic, with your ear piece letting you know what channel you're on, without anyone hearing what's going on, or having to dismount your radio.

The radio does support FPP, or front panel programming, which allows you to modify/change frequencies on the fly, so if you meet up with another group that has a different comm plan, you can change it on the spot. Ordinarily, you would use a computer to program it, but it can be programmed without a computer to some extent.

This is just designed to be a start, and I know I went super detailed into some stuff and very vague on others. I intentionally did that because I need to know what information you need. Please ask questions so I can answer them.

You need a comm plan before anything, BTW.

Would anyone be opposed to me putting together a WAGUNS comm plan?


EDIT 1: MODEL INFORMATION

The XTS5000 uses the standard /\/\ portable model number formatting system.

A typical model number is H18SDH9PW7AN

The IMPORTANT things to note....

H= Handheld
18= 5000 Series
S= Band..... K= 136-174, Q=403-470, S = 450-520, U=700/800
D= Power, usually D=4-5W, E=5.1-6W, but they do have low power modes too
H=Display/keypad type. H= full keypad, with display
9= channel spacing, you can ignore this
P=Primary operation mode, you can ignore this
W=Primary system type, you can ignore this
7= Feature level, you can ignore this
AN= Revision, you can ignore this

That model number breaks down to a 450-520 Mhz model with keypad and display.

So, a VHF radio with a full keypad and display would be an H18KDH9PW7AN

There are also RUGGED versions which are nitrogen filled and come in a yellow case, which are designed for the fire service. While they're supposed to be water resistant, the seal must be intact still for that to be the case.

DO NOT GET A MODEL THAT HAS THE 4TH DIGIT OF THE MODEL NUMBER BEING A U. That means it's 700/800 and useless unless you wanna monitor Snohomish or King Counties.

Accessories


Car charger... Charges batteries while in the car, looks like a square cup holder. Usually around $30 or so.

XTVA.. Converts your portable into a mobile, charges the battery, provides a remote control head, loud speaker, and external antenna connections, with virtually no work (just slides in, locking into place). Usually around $100 or so. I usually opt for this because it's not that much more expensive and adds a lot of options. You can also add an amplifier and have great range. The only downside to he XTVA is that if you use a speaker mic, you'll have to detach it before it goes into the XTVA, and reattach it when you take it out.

Commander and Commander II speaker mics. These mics have programmable buttons and volume controls on them. Commander II adds a channel select switch. Most have ports for adding an earpiece, but some earlier models did not. They are usually around $50

Standard speaker mic. generic, usually runs about $20, these do not have ports for an earpiece.

Public safety mic. Looks like a standard mic with a straight cord instead of coiled, has antenna port on top. Best not to use these for VHF as they just weren't designed for them and the performance is crap.

Surveillance (2 wire and 3 wire) headsets... Super secret squirrel.. aftermarket ones are cheap, around $20... That's where you get a PTT button to clip somewhere, like your shirt, and an earpiece.

Throat mics.. Mic goes around your throat, earpiece in ear, same as above, aftermarket, around $30.

programming cable - Mandatory, IMO, about $25

Batteries.... That's a tough one. You can go anywhere from $20 to a bargain Ni-Cd, to $80 for an OEM Li-Ion..BUT.. OEM Li-Ion batteries have not been made in YEARS, so I would lean towards a quality aftermarket instead of an OEM battery.. I'd get at least 2, but you can get by with 1, provided you're not using it for 3 days at a time, with it on 24/7.

Antenna... The factory wideband antenna is OK in most places. if you want better performance, there are better antennas out there, but they're dependent on the situation, so I won't go too much into those. Mounting the antenna to a plate carrier is easily accomplished with some minor works, but severely reduces the range.

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Last edited by TechnoWeenie on Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:12 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Bonney Lake
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011
Posts: 2668
TechnoWeenie wrote:

Would anyone be opposed to me putting together a WAGUNS comm plan?


:Init: and radio(s) ordered :bigsmile:

_________________
PMB wrote:
It is a logical fallacy to debate who screwed the pooch first- Screwing the pooch is still wrong.

Quote:
The biggest lie in our society is believing that we are entitled to birth rights simply for being alive.
Nothing in our world is a right, everything was purchased at some point in our history, and more often than not it was purchased in blood.


Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:30 pm
Profile
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Duvall
Joined: Sun Jan 6, 2013
Posts: 21326
Real Name: Paco X
Excellent! Is there a new replacement for the Motorola XTS5000?

_________________
I'm like Jesus only bitter and hateful.

NOT A PROFESSIONAL RUSSIAN.


Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:31 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Bonney Lake
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011
Posts: 2668
so my question is: what is the legality of VHF use and licensing required?
i understand in SHTF licensing is out the window but would like to keep my ass out of trouble in peace time :wink05:

also, for XTS5K, or any other really, the addition of a mike, does it really matter on the type?
i see ones with a little antenna on them and the ones without. is there a big difference between the 2?
or just buy the fancy mike with the button controls on it and forget about it?

_________________
PMB wrote:
It is a logical fallacy to debate who screwed the pooch first- Screwing the pooch is still wrong.

Quote:
The biggest lie in our society is believing that we are entitled to birth rights simply for being alive.
Nothing in our world is a right, everything was purchased at some point in our history, and more often than not it was purchased in blood.


Last edited by movingviolation on Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:36 pm
Profile
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Western Wa.
Joined: Sat Jul 5, 2014
Posts: 410
TechnoWeenie wrote:

Would anyone be opposed to me putting together a WAGUNS comm plan?


I am all for it.
I was worried how to get a hold of like minded people in a SHTF time.

-Jason-

_________________
So much to do and So little help...


Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:42 pm
Profile
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Normandy Park
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2012
Posts: 1116
So how do you know what to buy? I see them on eBay with a range of prices to choke a horse. Of course, I don't want to buy the one listed for $1800, but I also don't want to spend $90 for one that doesn't work.

Any sources for ones that in good condition? Hints on what problems to look for?


Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:54 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
Pablo wrote:
Excellent! Is there a new replacement for the Motorola XTS5000?



Not unless you wanna shell out 2k$

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:02 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
I'll get a model # and accy list together shortly. No one buy anything.lol

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:06 pm
Profile
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Duvall
Joined: Sun Jan 6, 2013
Posts: 21326
Real Name: Paco X
TechnoWeenie wrote:
Pablo wrote:
Excellent! Is there a new replacement for the Motorola XTS5000?



Not unless you wanna shell out 2k$


You get 4 radios right? :rofl9: :bigsmile: icon_eek

_________________
I'm like Jesus only bitter and hateful.

NOT A PROFESSIONAL RUSSIAN.


Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:08 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
Pablo wrote:
TechnoWeenie wrote:
Pablo wrote:
Excellent! Is there a new replacement for the Motorola XTS5000?



Not unless you wanna shell out 2k$


You get 4 radios right? :rofl9: :bigsmile: icon_eek


You kinda get 2... They're dual band... But virtually useless unless you wanna monitor public safety systems in Pierce county.

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:34 pm
Profile
In Memoriam
User avatar
In Memoriam

Location: Gig Harbor
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011
Posts: 1829
Real Name: Nick
So I have a VHF handheld radio in my boat, it appears to be the same frequencies as the radio you recommend.

Out of curiosity, other than, I assume, a lack of ability to encrypt communication would it work in a pinch to communicate with other VHF radios such as the ones you're discussing?

I can find the model number if it helps. It is a Motorola.

_________________
Armed insurance broker. ObamaCare, life, health, medicare.


Thu Jun 18, 2020 2:42 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
movingviolation wrote:
so my question is: what is the legality of VHF use and licensing required?


MURS is unlicensed, but has some restrictions. Marine is technically illegal but, I've never heard of anyone getting popped for using a commercial radio on Marine as long as it was used properly, Ie not using it as a CB channel 300 miles inland.

Anything else requires a license, technically. If SHTF, I doubt the FCC is gonna be sending out NALs... (Notice of Apparent Liability, basically, saying you're transmitting without a license).

Getting your ham license is easy, and opens up an entirely new world. Ham is one of those things that you can make as simple or as difficult as you wanna make it. I kinda look at like grown up boy scouts, in a sense. Sure, you can buy a tent, and call it camping, or you can go into the woods with a knife, and some string, and build a lean-to, a fire, etc.


Quote:
also, for XTS5K, or any other really, the addition of a mike, does it really matter on the type?


Yes. I suggest the Commander II, or Commander 2, which usually runs around $50, although there are times you don't want a speaker mic, and I'll go over that here shortly. There are GPS speaker mics but I discourage them. While having a location of your team mates is great, it gobbles up battery power, even when it's not being used..

Quote:
i see one with a little antenna on them and the ones without. is there a big difference between the 2?


You can't really use the one with the antenna for anything other than 800 Mhz.

Quote:
or just buy the fancy mike with the button controls on it and forget about it?


Yes, but also no. I'll type it all out.

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:37 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
Kgbsucka wrote:
So I have a VHF handheld radio in my boat, it appears to be the same frequencies as the radio you recommend.

Out of curiosity, other than, I assume, a lack of ability to encrypt communication would it work in a pinch to communicate with other VHF radios such as the ones you're discussing?

I can find the model number if it helps. It is a Motorola.


Depends on the model, but generally, yes, as long as the OTHER radio is programmed with those frequencies.

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:39 pm
Profile
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: Tacoma
Joined: Sat May 4, 2013
Posts: 4368
I am interested!

TW you have any recommendations for bike-to-bike comms, for riding mostly in the woods? I have tried the frs radios, but the range is terrible in the woods


Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:06 pm
Profile
Online
Site Supporter
User avatar
Site Supporter

Location: The circus
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011
Posts: 12468
Real Name: SpongeMonkey
Arisaka wrote:
I am interested!

TW you have any recommendations for bike-to-bike comms, for riding mostly in the woods? I have tried the frs radios, but the range is terrible in the woods


If the ONLY thing you care about is bike to bike, in the woods, get a baofeng with a headset, and use the VOX mode... It allows you to talk and transmit without using hands... basically, you start talking and it keys up the radio.... programming it for MURS on VHF will get you double or even triple the range, even more if you're running one of the older/cheaper FRS radios that are still using the old half a watt limitation, instead of the newer 2W limitation.

_________________
The only good cat is a stir-fried cat
cmica wrote:
love me some dicks


Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:35 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 402 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 27  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum



Rent Me Pintos NRA SAF CCKRBA
Aldersons e-arms.com


Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
Designed by ST Software for PTF.
[ Time : 0.803s | 15 Queries | GZIP : Off ]