Never stop because you are afraid - you are never so likely to be wrong.
Silent Radio Communication
Copyright © 2010-2013 Keith McLain. All rights reserved.
In the field, there may be times where silent transmission is required in order to hide your presence from our target of research. In order to do this with our FRS/GMRS radios, I have developed a sequence of taps and their corresponding translations. Holding down the PTT button and tapping the microphone with your fingernail will create a distinct tapping sound to other radios on the frequency, yet will not alert your presence to anything more than a few feet away. Though limited with what we can say, it is very quick to communicate with and is very easy to learn. There are only 8 sequences (2 with double meaning) of our most likely phrases, which can be combined together for multiple meanings.
1 Tap - Knock / Yes
2 Taps - Howl / No
3 Taps - Whoop
4 Taps - Tap
5 Taps - Something is heading your way
6 Taps - I will stalk towards you
7 Taps - I will walk towards you
8 Taps - Change the channel on the radio
Quick Double Tap - Precede 1 - 7 for a request for another group to perform said action. #8 is already a request; no need to precede it with a double tap.
When the person in Tap mode taps a 1, 2, 3, or a 4, he is about to make the corresponding call in 5 seconds - unless someone radios for him not to, or for him to wait. If this happens, the call will commence 5 seconds after the OK transmission from whomever wanted him to wait. If the 1, 2, 3, or 4 taps are succeeded by a slight pause then additional taps - the additional taps will be the number of calls to make. If no taps follow the first taps, then the default number of calls will be used: 1 knock, 1 howl, 2 whoops, or 2 taps.
If the person in tap mode wants someone else to make the suggested call, he will precede the call taps with a real quick double tap. Likewise, if he wants someone to either stalk or walk towards him, the double tap will precede the 6 or 7 taps. For clarification, stalking and walking will have 2 different meanings. Stalking will mean traveling slowly and quietly with no lights - hiding your presence. Walking will mean casual travel with low lights - not trying to hide your presence.
If the tap mode person wants to change the channel on the radio - due to other research groups in the area (likely in large expeditions) or if there is other radio chatter - he will succeed the 8 taps with a brief silence, then the number of taps to correspond to the new channel. This can be useful in cases where someone is purposefully disrupting transmissions to harass researchers. This disrupter will hear taps which he may assume is static. He will hopefully then assume transmission just ceased. For sake of simplicity, it would be best to change to one of the lower channels - 1 to 5.
In expeditions where there will be more than 2 groups or persons within radio range of each other, the groups or persons shall assign themselves a number, starting at 1. Tapping the group number after a call request or a stalk/walk request (or 5 taps - something headed your way) will clear up the confusion about who the request is intended for. In the cases of call requests, even if the default number of calls is being requested, the group number shall be preceded by the number of calls. If the transmitter is stalking/walking, adding the group number at the end of the sequence will let all the groups know who he is stalking/walking towards. If the transmitter is requesting the stalk/walk, adding the group number at the end of the sequence will show who he wants to stalk/walk towards him.
If there is more than 1 person or group in tap mode, things can get a little confusing. With multiple groups in tap mode, all transmissions should be ended with your group number to let people know who sent the message. The transmitter group number will be preceded by the group number the request is for or the group number the transmitter is stalking/walking towards.
While communicating with someone in tap mode, it is best to realize his communication limitations and ask questions he can answer. This means yes or no questions, questions with numerical answers, questions with the different calls for answers, questions with group numbers for answers, or multiple choice questions where the number of taps would correspond to the order of choices given.
Below are some sample transmissions:
Tap tap tap - Iím doing a double knock in 5 seconds.
Tap tap tap tap - Iím doing a double tap (default) in 5 seconds.
Taptap tap tap tap tap tap tap - Stalk towards me.
Taptap tap tap tap tap tap tap - Iím in group 1 and I want group 3 to make a single knock in 5 seconds. (5 sequences per transmission will be the most sequences to deal with and are used when 3 or more groups are in the field and more than one is in tap mode). This sample sequence is about as complicated as it gets.
Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap - Get ready group 2, thereís a biggun headed your way!
Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap - Iím in group 2 and I am stalking to group 1.
Taptap tap tap tap tap - I want group 1 to make a howl in 5 seconds.
Taptap tap tap - I want the other group to make a howl in 5 seconds.
As you can see, one can silently communicate while on the radio. While this system is not as simple as whispering, it is much quieter. Remember; sasquatches have great senses. If you are close enough to hear them walking, they are close enough to hear you whispering. Whether you as a researcher choose to use this system of silent communications is up to you. You may have a need for more vocabulary or you may have a need for less vocabulary. I chose the vocabulary our group is most likely to use. I also ranked them with the more likely words being assigned lower numbers than the less likely words. The fewer taps you can make, the easier the communication. It gets complicated when you have multiple groups and more than one will be in silent mode.
If you do choose to implement silent radio communications, whether this system or your own system, remember these things:
1 - Use a standardized system that the whole group is familiar with
2 - Study it and know it. Shining a light on a cheat sheet defeats the purpose. (Of course, cheat
sheets are OK during the day)
3 - Make sure everyone has compatible radios
4 - Make sure everyone starts off on the same channel
5 - Use your ear buds
6 - Turn off those annoying roger-beeps
7 - Donít use the call button unless itís an emergency and you really want to get everyoneís
There are other forms of silent communication - some useful at night, others useful during the day. Flashlight signals during the night are useful and we have used them (red LED for subtlety). Bear in mind that they can give your position away. These are fine when the sasquatches already know where you are, but your teammates do not. Hand signals are great during the day; and if you have a good vocabulary, you can communicate very distinctly. Shoulder taps and hand squeezes are useful for communicating with teammates right next to you. The military has used clickers very successfully and they are good for teammates within earshot, but not right next to you. There are a lot of methods out there. Look for future articles on some of these other methods.
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