Off Grid Survivalist Tells 6 Key Traits Of Those Who Will Survive The Tough Days Ahead


Having lived off the grid for the last 7 years, you see ’em come, and you see ’em go. The dozens of people we’ve seen succeed and the dozens of people we’ve seen fail gave us a keen eye to the attributes necessary to be a survivalist. Like we’ve told many people before, no matter how prepared you think you are, you’re gonna go through some changes! So after many years of observation, below are listed the 6 essential traits every survivalist should possess to be successful.

1. Tenacity (“stick-to-it-ness”). This more than anything else has beaten many a would-be survivalist. We knew a young couple from TX who bought a 5 acre parcel in a very rural, mountain subdivision. They purchased a camper and a 40′ shipping container and filled them with supplies. Before they ever made the move, the husband freaked out when he discovered that there were ants on the property! (Aren’t ants everywhere?) These weren’t Fire Ants, just plain old picnic ants, and it was a real problem for him, resulting in their abandoning the property for the comfort of their old apartment. The ants were just his way out of a situation he never was committed to in the first place.

As Sun Tzu said, “No one can ever be defeated who has made a strong resolve to win.”

2. Resourcefulness – in today’s modern world, being resourceful usually means knowing what aisle at home depot has that pair of pliers. What we’re talking about here is true resourcefulness. Resourcefulness like building a house out of local rocks and local adobe, taking apart another house to use the lumber for your roof. Resourcefulness like butchering a chicken, foraging for Navajo figs, Yucca fruit and Pinion nuts, and then creating a glorious dinner with them. Resourcefulness like seeing the potential in a junker truck or a broken washing machine to be used in a new way. There is a house outside of Taos NM that was built entirely out of adobe and the windows from an abandoned truck, total cost for the house, $200 for 20 bags of lime.

Resourcefulness is thinking outside the box.

3. Thick Skin – There will be countless people all around you who are more than willing to tell you you’re crazy. You need to understand that you’re the one who is seeing the world unveiled. Most people are very reluctant to admit that they are a product of television programming. Edward Bernaise coined the term “programming” because that’s exactly what he intended. TV was developed to program society to take certain actions, feel certain emotions, want certain items and live a certain way – and to fear those who do not. Many people will try to validate their life choices by convincing you that you made the wrong choice, not them. Also, those who will try to take advantage of you are all too common. Many people who are conscious enough to be looking for a better way to live tend to be overly charitable. Be on the look out for those who are on the look out for you. Being kind is one thing, being a fool is another.

If you’ve been given the gift of a vision of a better life, don’t let someone take that away.

4. Improvise, Adapt and Overcome – This is the mantra of the U.S. Marines and should be the mantra of every survivalist. To improvise means to take what you have and use it in unconventional way to accomplish your goals, such as removing the alternator from a car and giving it new life as a generator to power your home. To adapt means to make course adjustments along the way to accomplish your goal, such as changing your house plans from stick-built to rock construction because rocks are plentiful. To overcome means to let nothing stand in the way of accomplishing your goals – to know that you can solve any puzzle put before you, face any foe and triumph.

Be flexible and ready to make adjustments.

5. Solidarity – with everyone in your party. Whether you are a family or non-related group, everyone should be striving towards a common goal. This is much overlooked, however, crucial. I can’t tell you how many times a wife or husband has asked us to convince their spouse of the importance of preparing. You must all be of the same resolve deep within to be successful. A disgruntled spouse or family member can scuttle the entire enterprise, whether overtly or covertly, often even below the consciousness of the scuttler.

Have a sincere talk with anyone you plan on joining forces with and make sure everyone is on the same page.

6. Trust – not trust in foolishness, meant only to create self-sabotage, but real trust in yourself, in your own abilities.

And trust in a universal energy, a natural law that knows the difference between right and wrong and will lead you towards right, if you listen.

Dan and Sheila are the authors of:

Surviving Survivalism E How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock and hosts of the free podcast, “Still Surviving with Dan and Sheila”, both available at For information about their survival community, or for other questions, they can be reached at .

Communication Items You’ll Want Before Economic Collapse


Having good radio equipment is important for many reasons. What will you do when there is no Internet? What will you do when there is no cellphone service? How will you know what’s going on in other parts of the country, let alone the world? Radio signals don’t need an intermediary, they just bounce all over the earth and are received by radios.

It’s not even necessary that you transmit (speak) on the radio, but the information you can garner from just listening to others from far away is worth the time it takes to understand how to use a radio.

There are many ways to go in purchasing a communications radio, depending on your budget. You can buy yourself a brand new, state-of-the-art Kenwood or I-com for example, both of which are great radios. But the expense can be quite high, typically in the many hundreds of dollars.

A less expensive but just as viable way to go is a “free band radio”. This is a 10 meter ham radio that has had additional freeband frequencies installed. This will expand coverage to include the 12, 11 (the CB frequency band) and sometimes 9 meter bands. In a converted CB radio, this is called a radio with extra channels.

A 10 meter radio is very common and inexpensive, as well as their low-rent cousins, CB radios. Many can be found on ebay for under $200 and may already have the additional frequencies installed. Also any good SSB (single side band) CB radio can have what they call “Extra Channels Added” by any good tech. (Lots of mods here CB shops at truck stops often times have used free band radios for sale at good prices, but check Ebay for prices on used radios before going.

Survival-Radios Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio

Any frequency on the radio can be used in various modes, the most common being AM, Single Side Band (SSB), Upper Side Band (USB) and CW. CW means constant wave mode, which is the mode used for Morse Code and RTTY. It is possible to send several and receive multiple pages of text files via RTTY. The software needed can be found here ( ). Radios with a CW mode like the RCI 2950 (et al) and the Uniden HR2510 have the CW mode installed. There are other models that also have CW mode, however no CB radios have CW mode. You can send pictures and text files to others, similar to a fax. This will be an excellent way for the people to maintain contact with others during times of crisis or total collapse.

The legal frequency range of a Citizens Band radio is 26905 megahertz through 27405 megahertz (mostly in 10 kilocycle steps per channel), covering the 40 channels of CB radio. Freebanding is when an unlicensed radio operator uses the non-allocated frequencies in the 11 meter band (CB radio and beyond). When society has collapsed, who care who has a license?

Most freebanders use the Single Side Band (SSB) mode of these channels as opposed to the AM mode. The chatter you may have heard on channel 19 (the truckers channel) is in the AM mode. AM mode of operation is limited in range, however using the SSB mode affords greater range and more output power. A legal CB radio has 4 watts output on the AM band and 12 watts on the SSB band.

This means that when conditions are right (sunspots, etc.) SSB signals can travel greater distances than those in the AM mode. One early morning, while driving west on I-90 in Idaho, I made a contact with Tokyo, Japan using SSB and a HR 2510 Uniden radio. That was a contact of over 7000 miles with less than 20 watts of power.

Once the world goes in to collapse there will still be thousands of people using the freebands. This can be used to create a radio round-robin or relay to share information and help others.

The international call frequencies are:

27555 USB The US and the world except for Europe

26285 USB Europe

First a little bit about how to use a call frequency. A call frequency is a frequency on which we make contact with someone who would like to have a conversation with us. The parties then go to another frequency of their choice to continue the conversation. It is unlike the chatter you may have heard on the AM side – CB Channel 19 and all that noise. The conversation is called a QSO.

First we must wait for a moment of silence to break in and make our call. The protocol for asking for a QSO is like this:

“C-Q, C-Q, NEW MEXICO CALLING AND LISTING ON 27560” is a typical call or CQ (“seek-you”). This tells listeners on the call frequency where to find you to have a conversation. Then we move our frequency dial to that frequency. Once there we make another call like this:

“CQ CQ New Mexico calling for any and all stations.” Or if your are looking to make a contact in a specific place:

“CQ CQ New Mexico Calling for all stations in _____” (the place of your choosing) “and standing by for contact.”


There are many different kinds of viable antennas to use with your radio, some very cheap some very expensive.

Some of you may choose to make a wire antenna. One of the simplest wire antennas is the “Inverted V” – very good for long distance communications (what the radio community calls “skip”). The inverted V can be made for the cost of some wire and a pole.

Others may prefer to purchase something ready made, in a box. For those of you who do, we can strongly suggest the “V Quad”. This is a directional aluminum antenna that sends a strong signal in only one direction. Like the directional TV antennas of past times, this antenna needs a rotor (this is a motor to turn the antenna from the radio shack or you can use the “armstrong” method). It is the best non-homebrew antenna that I have ever used.

Either way, when the conditions are right you’ll be talking to the world.

When radio operators say, “conditions are right” they mean that the skip conditions are good, allowing the radio signals to be received over longer distances than normal. Skip is when the signal travels along a mostly horizontal plane before it eventually hits the ionosphere. Like a flat rock across a lake, the signal will skip along rather than pierce the ionosphere and go out into space. This skip can cause your signal to be received with nearly as much strength as it had when it left your antenna. The contact I had with Tokyo gave me an S10 signal strength, and that is as high as it gets. Sunspots are generally the cause for good skip conditions.

Grundig-Yacht-BoyRadio Receivers

We own a used Grundig Yacht Boy 400 and recommend it highly. These were made in the 1990s, but are still “state-of-the-art”. The CCI radio company sells a clone of this model today. Good used Grundigs can be found on ebay in the $50 to $100 range. The YB400 has some great features:

AM/FM and Shortwave bands

SSB receiver

Tuning Scan

40 Channel Memory



Sleep Timer

Two Time Zones

We consider it the best AM portable receiver made. At night we can listen Coast to Coast A.M. on stations from Los Angeles CA, San Antonino TX, Omaha NE, or Denver CO and even Detroit MI and Chicago IL at times, all sounding clear from here in New Mexico.

Our Yacht Boy 400 receives from 55 Kilohertz through 30 Megahertz, covering the entire HF (high frequency) band. In a time of crisis, shortwave may be the only radio signal out there. It may come in real handy when we can’t depend on the Internet to know what is going on.

WWV is the international time standard hack that can be found on the following shortwave frequencies:

2500 khz

5000 khz

10000 khz

15000 khz

20000 khz

This radio station also allows you to check space weather as well as satellite environment (interference). We can use these frequencies to gauge the effect of solar activities on our radio communications. WWV has a very strong signal. For most it will be received as a strong S 8 to 10 signal strength. But in the event of adverse solar activities even these stations can become covered up with static and noise. So if you are trying to receive a certain station and are having difficulties, check WWV to see if their signal is coming though alright, or if it is covered up with static. In that case, the sun is most likely the cause of your problems or (an EMP blast).

Communications Radios

“Family Radio Service” (FRS) and “Business Radio Service” (BRS) are the frequencies for the common walkie-talkies you see. They often say that they have an 8 mile range, however, most of these radios have a hard time transmitting further than 2 miles. Not everyone lives in a laboratory environment. The 8 mile range estimates take into account “line of sight” factors only. If you can see the other party that you are trying to communicate with, you can talk to them. We don’t live in a flat world without a horizon and without trees, buildings, mountains, etc. Because of this, these radios are over rated and can only be used for close-up communications (typically less than 3 miles at best).

They certainly can be useful if your community uses them in a small area (40 acres or less).

The Business Radio Service does include base radios, which have more power than family radios. You can add an external antenna on a mast high above the ground to stretch their effectivity (up to 10 miles).


The I-Com IC-R5 pocket scanner is a handy radio to own. These are available in US models and overseas models. The FCC gave the I-COM company a license to sell this receiver in the U.S. ONLY IF CERTAIN FREQUENCIES WERE BLOCKED OUT!

With this in mind the best place to buy one is on Ebay. There are sellers on ebay from other countries such as Japan who sell UNBLOCKED IC-R5’s and IC-R7’s. These ebay listings will be explicit. It will say it is a Japanese model and does not have any blocked frequencies. The IC-R5 can scan from 30 kilocycles to 1400 megahertz (1.4 Gigahertz). Within these frequencies are the following things you may find interesting to listen to.

For entertainment purposes only, here are some of the stations you can listen to that are hard to find frequencies:

·fbi tactical 167.400 fm

·fema 138.400 fm

·fema 138.5750 fm

·fema 139.9500 fm

·fema 155.340 fm

·army civil disturbances 34.9000 ssb

·fema 130.0500 fm

·fema 139.1000 fm

·fema 138.2250 fm

·fema 139.4500 fm

·fema 140.0250 fm

·fed disater network 170.2000 fm

·border patrol 163.6750 fm

·border patrol 163.7250 fm

·border patrol 163.7750 fm

·bp 164.1150 fm

·bp 165.8500 fm

·bp 165.9250 fm

·natl emerg weather svc (news) 173.1875 fm

·news 167.9750 fm

·news 169.8750 fm

·news 167.9250 fm

·fed disaster net 170.2000 fm

·fema 5.210 ssb

·fema 10.493750 ssb

·fema 4.7250 ssb

·fema 139.350 fm

·fema 143.0250 fm

·fema 143.2500 fm

·fema 167.9750 fm

·blm 169.6500 fm

·forest svc 170.5250 fm

·omaha sac 11.17500 ssb

·norad 13.2000 ssb

·norad 15.0150 ssb

·omaha sac 4.7250 ssb

·norad 6.7400 ssb

·air force bomber eam 4.743750 ssb

·eams 6.71250 ssb

·eams 6.7400 ssb

·eams 8.993750 ssb

·eams 11.1750 ssb

·eams 13.2000 ssb

·eams 15.0150 ssb

·norad 228.6000 fm

·norad 228.9000 fm

·fema 5.2100 ssb

·fema 16.9500 ssb

·fed emerg task force 165.23750 fm

·task force 169.4500 fm

·fbi tactical 167.21250 fm

To find local frequencies, check out

Emergency Action Messages are the encoded radio traffic between NORAD and SAC with the nuclear bomber fleet, like in the movie Fail Safe)

With Fusion Centers operating, the radio traffic is mostly digitized and scrambled. But you will notice that when they are “working together” the scanner’s frequencies will all seem to light up at the same time. By this I mean you’ll notice you local sheriff/state police/ local cops/ FEMA/DHS/Border Patrol/FBI, etc., all going encrypted and all talking at the same time.

The Fusion Centers work with the local authorities, so when you hear this it usually means that there is a VIPER team closing down some road to perform unwarranted stops and searches under the guise of (take your pick) sobriety check points, looking for seatbelt terrorists, looking for insurance terrorists, etc.

If the local VIPERS are not encrypted, you will hear things like the officer waiting for a “29 check”. This means they are checking to see if there are any outstanding warrants for that driver. When you hear this you will also hear things like “we’re set up at mile maker XX”. If you don’t want to have to claim your right under the 4th amendment with these VIPER TERRORISTS, then stay away.

Suffice to say that if you hear a lot of cross agency traffic, it’s nearly a sure bet that a VIPER team is out making sure that the country is safe for their brand of freedom.

Creating a Radio Round Robin: With the right equipment a group of people could create a a “radio round robin”. this is when a group of people has a specific place on the radio to meet on a regular basis. For example, let’s say there are 6 people in your round robin and you all decide to meet on Saturday mornings on CB channel 40, 27.405 Mhtz, LSB (lower side band) (or CW for RTTY – look for an upcoming article on that!) and exchange news with each other. It’s not a question of “IF” TPTB will shut the internet down it’s “WHEN”? The purpose of these articles it to create awareness in becoming independent of the internet and become your own beacon of news by maintaining contact through the coming difficulties. Having a group of people from diverse places is also important. Then one of the round robin group can relay a message from one station who can’t be heard to a station that can and maintain contact with both stations.


We had no idea when we wrote the past two parts of this article on radio gear for when TSHTF, that they were going to be so very popular. Most peoples’ concerns are based in the fear that they will loose all contact with loved ones, as well as how to get first hand, unfiltered news. Having good communication equipment – and knowing how to use it – can put those fears to rest. Let’s continue to learn how to communicate after chaos has hit, the Internet (and maybe the entire power grid) is down and you want to know what’s going on.

NOTE: This article is going to be a little more technical than past ones, but if anyone has any questions, please drop us a line at – we’d love to help if we can.

First, let’s define CW, RTTY and SSTV as they apply to radio signals:

CW, is Constant Wave Mode, the radio mode that is used to send Morse code.

RTTY (radioteletype) is a way of sending text files via the radio to others. You would create a text document using any word processor, then save the file in .txt format.

SSTV (Slow Scan TV) is a bit of a misnomer. It is more like sending and receiving a fax. You would send a .jpg or .bmp file.

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Now we’re going to talk about how to transform a Freeband radio (this can be a 10 meter converted rig or an HF Ham radio) into a simple modem through which you can send text messages or images. These are some of the things you’re going to need to get started experimenting with radio facsimiles and packet radio transmissions.

1. A Ham Radio or any radio transceiver (listening and talking) with CW (Constant Wave) mode. If you just want to receive (listen, not talk) any Short Wave receiver that can tune to the frequencies you’ll need is good enough.

2. A cable to connect the radio to the computer (via the audio output) to the radio’s CW input for sending RTTY messages. For receiving RTTY messages, the cable goes from the mic/audio input to the radio’s CW output. Most often this is 1/8th inch stereo plug, like those found on headphones and ear buds.

3. HamFax software, available here for free: . There are many other programs that can do RTTY or Slow Scan TV but we have found the HamFax software to be easy to use and works with Windows, Linux and Apple.

4. The program GMFSK, available at: With this software you will be able to make .txt documents into packets that you can send to anyone listening.

5. Either a photo or text file to send or receive.

6. A net work of others equally equipped at various long distances with whom to experiment.

After you’ve installed hamfax, you can run the application, choose a photo that you want to send, and in the tool-bar, you will click transmit, transmit to file. Hamfax will have a set of questions for you to answer to set up the transmission to best fit the hardware.

Now, let’s get into packet radio. Packet radio uses the CW mode and is faster, more practical, and more intelligible – and like the old HAMs say, “when nothing else can get out CW will get though.” This process uses a faster audio transmission and translates text. The packet is a text file of your choosing.

To test your receiving capabilities, most Slow Scan TV pictures can be found on the 20 meter band, beginning around 14 Mhz. Just scan up the bands until you hear the sound of fax machines on the air waves and you’re there. With eithersoftware booted and the radio’s audio output (also known as external speaker jack) connected to your computers microphone input, you can begin receiving faxes/photos or text files.

And all this can be done with 12 volts of DC solar power!

To conclude, this simple option is the first thing we need to consider when we look at rebuilding electronic communications. Imagine a valuable tool like the Internet, available to anyone who can pick up and translate a radio transmission. Imagine if that independent link to the rest of the world could be a fountain for knowledge, not adulterated by the need to make monetary profit. Think about this Internet and think of the extent to which you really have free speech. Then think about the same power of technologically used in a manner free from the bias of advertisers.

This may only be simple communications technology – just the basics. The important fact is that the information to be published through that bandwidth will be free and uncensored. This will remind us and motivate us to keep working together to improve this technology as we keep it free.

Dan & Sheila are the authors of Surviving Survivalism – How to Avoid Survivalism Culture Shock, and hosts of the podcast, Still Surviving with Dan & Sheila. For questions about space in their Intentional Survivalist Community or other survivalist issues, they can be reached at .