Learn Radio Terminology

Amps? Rig? Feedlines? What are all these words? If you’re pursuing a survivalists comm plan then you will need to learn radio terminology so that you will understand what everyone else is talking about.
  • Amplifier – is as its name states a device used to make your signal go further on transmit. Note that the amplifier (or “amp”) does not help on receive. To increase one’s receive capabilities you would add a “pre-amp” to your antenna.
  • Antenna – is a term for the device used to send and receive radio signals. An antenna can be anything from a simple wire antenna up to a high-end structure.
  • Boom – the horizontal portion of a beam antenna which is held up by the mast.
  • CB – everyone knows that CB stands for Citizen’s Band. CB radios are good for survivalists as they are cheap and readily accessible Their main drawback is a lack of coverage brought on by such low power levels.
  • Coax – a special kind of cabling using a center conductor surrounded by a shield of braided wire. Coax is used to prevent interference to the transmit or receive signal.
  • DX’er is a person who pursues contacts with foreign countries. Shortwave listening is also considered DXing even though the SWL is not transmitting a signal.
  • Feedline is the wire that feeds the signal to the antenna from the radio (or to the radio in the case of shortwave radios). The most widely known name for feedlines is simply “coax” (pronounced ko-axe)
  • FRS stands for Family Radio Service and is attractive to survivalists because it is a license-free service.
  • GMRS stands for General Mobile Radio Service is a licensed service for an individual and their family members. The fees for GMRS are in the neighborhood of $85 US.
  • Ham Radio is the more popular name for ‘amateur radio. Ham radio require a license as well as some comprehensive testing to acquire the license.
  • LID – a derogatory term for an amateur radio operator who doesn’t follow the ‘rules of the road’ so to speak.
  • Mast – a mast is nothing more than a support for an antenna. It can be most any size and sometimes uses telescoping sections. The use of telescoping sections designates these as push-up masts’.
  • Rig – a rig is another name for a radio to ham radio operators. Some other names are transceiver, radio, or even squawk box.
  • SWL is short for shortwave listener and is a requirement in some countries before you are able to obtain an amateur radio license. There are a great many hams who are still SWL even though they are allowed to use a transmitter
  • SWR – this term is fairly familiar to survivalists with even a basic knowledge of radios (Ham, or CB). SWR describes the ‘standing wave ratio’ of your antenna system. SWR is a form of measurement of the ‘health’ of your antenna system. Improper SWR readings indicate the antenna itself is improperly adjusted. Excessively high SWR indicates a serious problem likely to be in the coax/feedline and will damage the rig if it is used in this configuration.
  • Transceiver is a cross of words which means you are using a radio that is both a “transmitter” as well as a “receiver”. In the mid-70’s and earlier it was not unusual to see hams and military personnel using a separate transmitter and a receiver.
Learn Radio Terminology