After my last post someone referred to an expensive AM/FM radio as a great “burner” item. I like this idea. We have all heard of “burner” phones in movies and the news lately. For those not familiar, in our context a burner kit would consist of “disposable” communications gear.
This kit could be deployed in the time of an emergency when your front line gear is not available. Many of you may be in a position where your day to day activities do not allow you to have access to your comms kit. Whether it’s travel situations or job environment. This is a serious problem. We hone our skills to be ready when we are called upon but, bad things never happen when it’s convenient. You have to plan for worst-case scenario and have your kit ready! My line of work always has me in places where I can not take my “stuff”. Maybe you work in an office or always have your personal vehicle, that would make life much easier. Some of you may find it hard to have gear with you because of OPSEC (operational security). There are ways around this. Remember, you must work with what’s available. The most important tool here is your skills, not your equipment. If you have no skills, the best gear is not going to help you. We have all spent lots of money on nice equipment and to run out and buy doubles of all that would be crazy. Lets take a look at some items that are inexpensive but will serve you nicely as burner items. The first item to have is an AM/FM radio.
Just like I wrote about last post, (AM/FM radio post) this is extremely important for real time news and alerts. The previous post tells you all you need to know about this. The next thing you need is a cheap yard sale scanner.
We have talked about these before. You can get them at yard sales, Craigslist, ebay etc. These units are not fancy digital radios but, if it cost you $400 it’s not a burner. An old analog scanner can provide great intel if you know were to listen. Rember, we want a kit that is, in a sense, disposable. They say “never leave a man behind”, I say “never leave a radio behind” but this kit is different. Even that old race scanner will work just fine. Those above items cover our listening post, if you can only carry a few items make sure these make it in. Once again, listen twice and speak once. With that being said, at some point you will want or need to transmit. Here is were we enter dangerous water…I am not going to beat around the bush, your best option in a burner kit for this requirement is…a Baofeng UV5R or equivalent. Now everyone just stay cool, hear me out.
We must take things for what they are, we need cheap, functional and disposable, there you have it. Any one who says the Baofeng type radios don’t have there place are wrong. I have some and have had no problems as long as you know what your dealing with. These are not my go to front line radio but they serve a purpose and for $25 they belong in your burner kit. Get two of them so when things go south you can equip your unprepared buddy and keep comms up. You should get all the necessary accessories as well, AA battery shells, hand mics etc. A Baofeng should not be your primary squad radio but it should be in your bag of tricks. Moving on…..Another great burner kit tool is an emergency CB kit. These things where popular in the 70’s and 80’s. All of the major brands sold a kit that came in a small box that you could keep under your car seat.
In the event you needed help you could deploy this small handheld type radio and call for help. These kits came with everything you needed, magnet mount antenna, power cord etc. The antenna was small and portable but it worked. You can find these kits all the time on ebay for $10-$15. Get one, think 11 meter qrp.
All of these items can fit nicely into a plain ole back pack. Nothing tactical here, we want this kit to remain anonymous and uninviting.
I have this kit with me everyday. If I can do this with my job constraints, so can you. Do not fall short when the time comes, get this together now. As a side note there are a lot of ham radio qrp (low power) kits that are cheap and small that would also fit the bill. I hope this gets you motivated to get a burner kit in place.