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Bitterroot Emergency
Amateur Radio Services

When normal communications systems – phone lines, cell phones, internet, 911-call-centers, broadcast TV & radio – are unavailable or overtaxed, amateur radio can provide flexible communications resources.


Provide our neighborhoods and communities with a pool of trained radio operators, technicians and resources to deliver essential communications during emergencies.


BEARS is an organization dedicated to preparing, practicing for, and being able to provide radio communications via amateur radio whenever requested , whether for emergencies or planned events throughout and beyond the Bitterroot whenever radio is superior, or other means of communication are compromised

We are eager, able and willing to work with related organizations and other emergency service providers, but retain our independence to maximize our utility for our primary mission.

Our regular face-to-face meetings are the 1st Monday of every month, 6:00pm in the Hamilton BJ’s restaurant. We welcome others interested in helping with our mission.

Current BEARS projects:

Bitterroot Radio Repeaters – VHF (very high frequency – ham) and UHF (ultra high frequency – ham, GMRS and commercial) repeaters exist around Ravalli County primarily thanks to BEARS club members. This year we will be working on some exceptionally beneficial new repeater sites that may enable two-way radio over most of the Bitterroot’s ripply parts.

Mesh Network – This is much like a local internet, but based on amateur radio transmissions linked, and inter-linked together. This has potential to share live video feeds, weather, private e-mail, documents, private phone network and a lot more.

Deployable Repeaters – We have one ‘package’ that includes a repeater, primary and secondary batteries, antenna and a large number of GMRS radios tuned to the repeater frequency. We have tested and developed this four years in a row supporting the Darby Dog Derby sled dog races, along with other tests and field trials. Version 4 is a tidy package that can be carried and set up in almost any Bitterroot location.

A second unit, also using the GMRS frequencies, is being built for installation in a comms truck (aka: The Beast). This should be ready for June 22nd – 23rd amateur radio Field Day where we will provide comms support for the Ravalli Airport fly in and car show.

Digital Messaging – A technology blending computers and amateur radios dramatically increases the clarity and quantity of information that can be communicated via radio signals. It can turn unintelligible weak, marginal signals into clear information.

It is particularly powerful in logistical organization where standardized forms filled in and transmitted out of one radio arrives in that same populated form on properly configured radio/computer combinations within range.

BEARS has developed standardized configuration, handouts, hardware recommendations and is beginning weekly practice sessions Wednesdays, 2045hrs-local (8:45pm), on the 147.320 repeater (tone 151.4).

Emergency Communications Plan – The plan to the right has been overtaken by significant changes in amateur radio capacity throughout The Bitterroot in the last couple of years… BEARS have been busy.

We have begun a review, revamp and will republish with our best advice taking advantage of improvements in technology and our deployment of it… stay tuned.


No phone.
No Internet.
No television.

What do you do?
How long will it last?
How widespread is it?
Is it part of some larger disaster?

BEARS wants the answers.
We want them accurately and timely
… and we want to share them with our communities.

That is our mission, vision and values.


Additional resources – I will be developing, adding to this list, linking and attaching more, but for right now these are valuable, and easily included as clickable PDFs (the first three) and links to other resources (the last two).

BEARS FLDIGI_Configuration recommendation

Montana Disaster Emergency Survival Guide

2014 National Emergency Communications Plan_October 29 2014

AmRRON digital communications resources (link)

ARRL digital modes (link)