Communication is simply the exchange of information, and the nature of that information will determine what the purpose of communication is. It may be educational and informative, tactical, a distress call, or any number of other purposes.
The ability to communicate with others is a valuable one, understanding protocol and having the appropriate equipment will open up opportunities you would not otherwise have. A good understanding of the benefits and limitations of each type of communications device can be invaluable.
Selecting a Method of Communication
You first need to select a method of communication. Think about how you would use them, they all have advantages and disadvantages. Hand signals require you to be visible to the person you are communicating with, however they are silent. Radio generally requires you to make noise to communicate but you can talk to people you cant see and transmit data as well as voice.
Some communication systems just send information. A proximity alarm is one such device, and you can construct these with scraps you can scavenge, or but a commercial one with a radio uplink capable of transmitting a couple miles over the MURS radio service.
It is best if you are familiar with multiple methods of communication, and select the correct one for each task you wish to accomplish.
Direct voice communication, whether it be in person or via radio, is perhaps the most useful and versatile form of communication. It is certainly the fastest, clearest, most nuanced form. This is referred to as "phone" in ham radio circles.
Video communication is generally reserved for public broadcasts as it require far more equipment than audio, and much more complex systems to provide content worthy of being seen. You can do some video transfers with a laptop, soundcard and some software (many free varieties). Ham radio operators do SSTV and ATV broadcasts. Weather Fax is another form of image transfers. In addition there are several weather satellites that allow direct image downloading in real-time
Text, such as Radio Teletype, email, instant messaging, and SMS (cell phone text), is an increasingly popular form of communication. It is clear, concise and requires very little bandwidth, although it does lack the nuances of voice.
- Pen & paper
- Sharpie or other markers
Morse code uses a variety of combinations of long and short tones to form letters and words, it is very useful over many different communication mediums. It requires very little bandwidth and is often utilized when no other signals can be heard. Morse code can also be utilized by tapping on a wall/water pipe, or by flashing a light.
Military Hand Signals
Military hand signals are useful for communicating silently while in audible range of a potential threat.
Phonetics are a common practice for clarifying letters, but associating them with a complete word.
Nonverbal Communications can be as simple as a "do not disturb" sign hung outside the door of your hotel room or something more complex.