The zombies are coming! Quick: What should you scavenge together for the impending attack?
Baseball bat, check.
First aid kit, check.
Ham radio equipment? You better hope so.
Earlier this week, Dragon Con — the annual sci-fi, fantasy and comic book convention — hosted a panel covering communication in a post-apocalyptic world. According to Wired's coverage of the conference, several attendees may have been disappointed by the panel's primary topic of discussion: amateur radio.
While amateur radio may not be as exhilarating as fighting zombie hordes, it may be the most effective tool during an apocalypse. So why invest in amateur radio equipment for a potential zombie apocalypse (you can never be too prepared!)? Like most investments, amateur radio's success depends on diversification.
The amateur radio community has millions of members worldwide and several hundred thousand licensed operators in the United States. This fact combined with the dedication of local radio clubs makes ham radios one of the best communication systems during a zombie attack.
Amateur radio operators can send out signals from their personal stations either in their homes, on the road, or even from the International Space Station. If these operators send their signals on the right frequency, local radio repeaters can detect the signal and re-broadcast them.
Repeaters receive signals on a certain frequency and then transmit those same signals on a different frequency. Additionally, these stations have more powerful antennas that allow for broadcasts across a greater range. Connecting multiple repeaters allows for even greater distance broadcasts.
Local radio clubs or individual operators maintain these repeaters, and they allow others to transmit on them. So why might this work better than traditional communication channels during a zombie apocalypse?
Downed telephone lines and cell towers without power can lead to spotty or nonexistent coverage during a disaster. A huge network of amateur radio repeaters can utilize pockets that still have power, and generators can keep them running as well.
Amateur radio's not just for zombie attacks, however. Ham operators have been instrumental in several real-life emergencies, including search and rescue efforts during Hurricane Katrina.
There's even a group of amateur radio enthusiasts and horror film buffs who started their own "Zombie Squad" dedicated to emergency preparedness.
So if you're gearing up for a zombie battle, don't forget your radios. Finding safety among this huge amateur network may prove more useful than shotguns and baseball bats.
For more information on amateur radio, including how to get your own license, check out the American Radio Relay League.