Reference Material

When operating in the field, there are several documents that would be handy to have in your kit (hard copy, electronic format, or, preferably, both).

For electronic references, keep copies on your phone, tablet or computer you may be using in the field, and on a thumb drive in your kit.

These include:

Operator manuals for your radios and other equipment.  Even if you know your gear inside and out, it is possible that other hams may need to use your equipment (or have the same gear) and don’t.  And there is always that one function you might need but don’t use very often.

Radio Programming software (and appropriate cables).  Many newer radios are much easier to program using the software.  Some radios are modified versions of Public Safety/Commercial radios (especially DMR capable unit) and can’t really be programmed easily from the front panel.  If you don’t have a laptop to install the software on, keep copies of your configuration files and the installation file for your programming software on your kit’s thumb drive.  Again, it might be needed for your radio, but you might be able to help out a fellow ham that is having problems.

If your programming software supports exporting your configuration file to a spreadsheet, text, PDF or HTML format, then have copies in those formats on your phone/tablet/laptop and thumb drive for quick reference for settings, frequencies and channels.

References.  Operating guides and references to a variety of communications related areas of knowledge.  While you should review these before any activation, there is so much information out there it is impossible to remember it all in detail.  Having these in some format could be invaluable, especially when you are the “communications expert” and need to answer questions or explain why we do things a certain way to an event or Public official.

Emergency Kit Prep Checklist  Downloadable PDF   Hard Copy

ARES Field Reference Manual.  Downloadable PDF   Hard Copy   Kindle Format

FSD-220 Handy Operating Aid.  Downloadable PDF

FSD-225  Emergency Reference Information.   Downloadable PDF   (This should be filled out before any activation and reviewed for updates regularly)

US Band Frequency Chart:  Downloadable PDF  Hardcopy


The next two documents are published by the US Department of Homeland Security.  They both include sections on Amateur Radio, and, will be the references most recognized by Public Safety communications officials when looking at the capabilities of Amateur Radio in an emergency.

Auxiliary Communications Field Operating Guide (AUXFOG)  Downloadable PDF

The Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) is a reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an amateur radio organization supporting public safety.

National Interoperability Filed Operations Guide (NIFOG): Downloadable PDF

The NIFOG is a technical reference for emergency communications planning and for radio technicians responsible for radios that will be used in disaster response. The NIFOG includes rules and regulations for use of nationwide and other interoperability channels, tables of frequencies and standard channel names, and other reference material, formatted as a pocket-sized guide for radio technicians to carry with them.

There is an Public Safety Library App that is available for Android and Apple/IOS systems.  The app includes both the AUXFOG and NIFOG, as well as other documents such as the state level versions of those documents.  It also allows for automatic updates of documents as they are published.

The Pocket Ref is good all around general reference book on a wide variety of subjects that might be useful in the field.  It is available from a large number of sources including book stores, hardware/home improvement stores, and, of course,  Amazon