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[Ham-80211] Amateur Radio and Emergency Communications

Chuck Mayfield charleslmayfield at comcast.net
Wed Jun 22 22:41:46 UTC 2005

I have been monitoring several groups that seem to be pushing digital 
communications via internet and radio for emergency communications.

All discussions that I have seen neglect the possibility of electromagnetic 
pulse (EMP) from a nuclear device EMP  at an altitude sufficient to blanket 
the North American continent.  After such an event, all solid state 
electronic devices would probably be completely useless, since th EMP would 
destroy a significant percentage of the semiconducter junctions included in 
their design.  Only ancient tube type equipment and maybe equipment 
designed with radiation hardened semiconductor devices would survive.  A 
majority of equipment designed / developed for DOD end-users has been 
radiation hardened since about 1985.  Other than that, almost all 
commercial electronics is subject to destruction by EMP.  Amateur operators 
that plan to supply emergency communications after such an event must 
either have stockpiled and kept operational tube type equipment and or 
protected selected semiconductor base equipment by housing it in a Faraday 
shield for protection against EMP.

How much of what we are discussing meets these criteria?

Think about it people!  In my considered opinion, the most likely terrorist 
threat we face that could cause such a scenario is not unlikely.  All the 
terrorists (or any other enemy for that matter) needs is a nuclear device 
and a launch vehicle capable of sending a device about 100 km over 
mid-North America and detonating it.  The launch site could be anywhere 
outside (or possibly inside) the territorial boundaries of North American 

In the National Interest, our overall emergency communications plan needs 
to include safeguarding some sort of communications capability against EMP, 
even if it is CW and SSB and NTS or equivalent.

Chuck Mayfield, AA5J
Plano, Texas

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