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Speak Out: Amateur Radio and EMP Protection:

A contributor asks, "Should amateur radio operators take active steps to protect communications equipment from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks and events? Both non-nuclear and nuclear attacks can be carried out disabling electronic infrastructure. We have recently submitted petitions to the FCC and FAA including detailed proposed protective regulations on this matter. What equipment will work/survive in these situations? What are the best protection methods in your opinion?"

29 opinions on this subject. Enter your opinion at the bottom of this page.
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N3NL on 2001-11-14
Our petition for the shielding of electronic systems from
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) terrorist attacks and warfare has been assigned
a rule making number (RM-10330).

AB7RG on 2001-10-22

I really do not feel that there is any real way to protect our equipment from the effects of a strong EMP. Unless perhaps it is wrapped in aluminum foil, in a lead lined solid copper sealed and well grounded container. Same for the power supply and any other accesories that you will need. Old tube rigs like Collins, Drake, etc. should be okay, and easy to fix if something does get zapped. Perhaps I'll buy a TR-4 yet... Actually I really don't feel that EMP is a serious threat, at least not yet. Sure, if a nuclear blast goes off it will be an instant threat, but if that happens radio communication will be the least of our problems...

73 Clinton AB7RG

KF2OK on 2001-10-22
Can solar panels get fried with a EMP wave? I belive the electronic circuity on a generator would likely be affected too.
Those "boat anchors" would likely still work, what would we power it with if the gennys dont work and the house power is down?
Couple of things I thought of...,what about using a mircowave oven as a place to keep a radio from EMP? Supposedly the oven has good sheilding in it to keep microwaves from leaking out, maybe it could keep the EMP from leaking in.
How about a lead lined box? Better yet a faraday cage inside a lead lined box? What about a spare hf/ht radio in a wall safe.. or better yet a complete communications cabinet thats lead lined and grounded? Someone out there may want to build lead lined boxes and sell them to the ham community. Comments? Your thoughts?

KD7HVL on 2001-10-21
This is going back in memory and I could be wrong on this subject but an EMP pulse has the effect of foward biasing all P N junctions to there on state, whether the equipement is turned on or off, makes no difference. And shielding didn't work to well. We used special components that I don't remmber or probibley couldn't comment on for the design of equipment to survive an EMP pulse. I believe that the tube equipment is your best bet, if you don't have spark gap equipment. I can see eveyone looking for those most famous model T ignition coils we used as a kid to give the teacher a little pick up. Hi Hi

WA6KHH on 2001-10-21
One other thought is to keep a tube-type radio around! Ah, come on, you remember. Vacuum tubes???? Anyway, as we almost certainly can bet, we won't have any warning of such an event. I agree, if it is plugged in, it will be at risk. Worse than that is that almost all "modern" ham rigs are built with custom IC's. Those are only available from the manufacturer, if at all. You can forget repairing it!

N3NL on 2001-10-21

If you unlink EMP from nuclear events
it is no longer a minor problem. Flux
compression generators and other
devices can disable critical electronics
locally without the need for major
nuclear events.
73, Nick Leggett N3NL

N7DC on 2001-10-20
I guess I have to start having my Scouts learning code with flags again. I suspect as has been said before, it will be a minor problem. Just think, even your watches wont work afterward. I was involved in radio tests before/during/after atomic tests in the early 60s. One small bomb sets off one big pulse. They affected worldwide communications. Listening to known radio stations (in the hf bands), you could track the SID (sudden ionaspheric disturbance) as it moved East to west across the world. Stations would suddenly dissappear from furtherest East, to West, and then slowly reappear the same way. Enough bombs going off, there would be no propogation for quite some time. As to modern rigs, take a hint from guys in the tornado belt. Take em down in the cellar, bury em in a metal chest, pray.

N3NL on 2001-10-19
Some links to EMP documents have been added to the Hams for Enduring Freedom website:

73, Nick Leggett, N3NL

N3NL on 2001-10-18
The ARRL published a series of four
articles on EMP in QST magazine
starting on August 1986 and running
for four months. These articles had
the title Electromagnetic Pulse and
the Radio Amateur. They are available
posted in pdf files on the ARRL web
site: These articles are
by Dennis Bodson, an EMP expert who is
now an ARRL director (call sign W4PWF).
These articles suggest some protective
steps for amateur radio stations.
Unfortunately, most of the modern
amateur radio equipment is probably
more vulnerable to EMP than the 1980s
gear was due to the presence of micro-
Nick Leggett N3NL

KB9OAZ on 2001-10-18
having been in the Military and having studied this perticuler subject I have learned that if an EMP occurs suffice to say that if your equipment is plugged in and or turned on it is TOAST. While there are precautions you can take, nothing availible to the general ham population is going to save your equipment. The best defense in my opinion is to have a backup set that is not pluged in but ready to go.

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