Advanced RTO Course: Student Review

This review comes by way of Johnny Mac, with the original posted on his forum, Unchained Preppers. It’s an excellent, no-BS site with good like minded folks. John and his team do a good job of keeping the trash out. You can read the first review of the Advanced Course here.
This AAR (After Action Review) is to briefly outline my attendance of the Advance RTO (Radio Telephone Operator) two-day class facilitated by NC Scout blog owner of

Facilitator NC Scout and twelve students. The Students amateur radio skills ranged from no FCC license to Extra class level. Military skills of the students ranged from current military operators, Reservists, retired, and several with no military experience – Like me.

Saturday – Sunday, October 27-28, 2018. Classes started at 0900 hrs. both days. The class ended Saturday at 1700 hrs. and Sunday at 1415 hrs.

North Central North Carolina


The class started at 0900 hrs. Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast put on again by NC Scout’s family.

A quick review of RTO 101 commenced and then we went into day one’s agenda which was in part:

> Set up SOI and PACE for the weekend,
> BREVMAT Matrix
> OTP Matrix (One Time Pad),
> Directional antennas
> HF antennas RX and TX (Receiving & Transmitting
> Exercises in the class room and outside in the field

The items initially covered were SOI’s (Signal Operation Instructions) and PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, & Emergency Frequencies) which is part of the SOI for the weekend. Then we went into the BREVMAT matrix.

The BREVMAT matrix in a nut shell is a secure way of broadcasting a SALUTE (Size, Activity, Location, Unit Identification, Time, & Equipment) report from the field to the TOC (Tactical Operation Center). NC Scout writes about a BREVMAT Matrix in an article titled The Brevity Matrix.

Once we ran through a few exercises using the BREVMAT code we moved onto OTP matrix.

Remember when you were in school and passing around coded notes using the old “Shifted Alphabet Code”? You know ‘A’ equal’s number 5, ‘B’ equals 7, ‘C’ equal’s 1, et cetera. Well whether you use a pair of 10-sided dice or the more modern OTP you are using the Shift Alphabet Code on steroids.

The 10-sided dice works well but you can imagine it takes awhile to execute on 26 letters to the alphabet, then numbers, and then punctuation. The OTP takes 1-second by pushing one button. NCSCout wrote a good article titled, AmRRON Dark Labs: ADL-1 OTP Generator which is worth your time in reviewing or rereading if you have already.

When you combine the BREVMAT and OTP codes you have an unbreakable code you can use on the airwaves, text, email, written word sent through snail mail, et cetera.

Time was spent using the aforementioned codes to become familiar with their use.

After lunch it was time to talk about directional antennas. We focused on Yagi type mostly however we did cover others like the Moxon, homebrew directional V dipole, et cetera.

The day ended with demonstration of several different field HF radios. Yaesu 817 and 857 plus a new one called the CTX-10. The antenna used for this part of the day was my homebrew NVIS (Near Vertical Inductance Skywave) antenna. One of the contacts we made was on 10 watts using the CTX-10 with the famed designer of N1MM software in Connecticut. Remember we were in North Carolina.

After our last exercise it was time for dinner. As mentioned before I would pay and come to these classes just for the food and companionship.  As happens during these classes post dinner and after a few adult beverage’s, discussions commenced and ranged from the USA today, what is coming down the pike, and other philosophical discussions along with practical solutions on gun-fighting. This too like the food, is well worth the attendance.

As is the custom at Brushbeaters Training Center, we were met Sunday morning with a BIG breakfast provide by NC Scout’s family.

At the end of breakfast NC Scout set the stage for the rest of the day with a briefing of what is happening in the news regionally and then locally. This led us to writing a Five Paragraph Field Order or SMEAC (Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration/Logistics, & Command/Signal). We all wrote a SMEAC and when done NC Scout had one of the students read theirs. The SMEAC that was read was very detailed and well done – Far more detailed then mine. Something for me to work on.

Once this was accomplished we broke into two groups. One group remained at the TOC while the other group went into the field to do a reconnaissance patrol as outlined in the SMEAC. Once we accomplished our Op Orders we returned to base and the second team went out into the field to perform their own patrol while we acted as the TOC.

Once the exercise was completed we had lunch, an AAR of the SMEAC and the class overall. By 1445 Hrs. I was on the road traveling home.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in no particular order:

> I highly recommend this class to folks who are preparing for a SHTF situation. All the students were like-minded. As stated in RTO 101’s AAR, if you are busy preparing just for a gun battle and not Comms, you and your group will die.
> The food and hospitality were astounding. NC Scouts father and brother did all the cooking and their skill in cooking for a large group was awesome – True North Carolina hospitality.
> We all traveled to the Brushbeater facility in rain however by Saturday morning the poor weather had blown out. Saturday and Sunday where in the high 50’s low 60’s; However, I would suggest bringing clothing to cover the weather gambit – Cold to hot/wet to dry.
> The house at the facility was used for sleeping which most students took advantage of. Several stayed outside in trailers or tents.
> The class curriculum flowed well especially with the planned segments that got us out of the class room and into the filed.
> The members of the class blended well by lunch of Saturday. The ‘after dinner discussions’ certainly cemented the group. In my opinion, what I learned from my fellow classmates was just as valuable as what we learned during the days in the classroom.
> Five out of the twelve participants did not have an FCC amateur radio license. All were able to participate at a high level so as NC Scout writes in his class description, “Amateur Radio license qualification is helpful, but not required.”
> About NC Scout: He is a soft-spoken natural trainer. He is quick to not correct but instead offer suggestions. Most important he explains the ‘why’ you do something ‘X’ way. You are treated as what you are, an intelligent adult.
> In closing, I am going to reiterate this thought again. If you or your group is spending all your time and money on fire power with little thought to Comms, your group will die in a SHTF scenario. If you recognize this hole in your plans, contact NC Scout TODAY to finds out when his RTO, 101 class is scheduled and sigh up!  If you have taken his RTO, 101 class take the 201-follow-up advance class today!

God Bless & 73,



OTP Review


We’ve got a couple of dates on the calendar for the RTO Course next year in addition to several other classes that might come in handy. An advanced course will be put on the schedule in the late spring next year. There is no time like the present to take charge of your training program. 
God bless and we’ll see you out there.

4 thoughts on “Advanced RTO Course: Student Review

  1. TechCom

    My understanding of NVIS (thus far) makes me curious how it was being used to make a contact five states away?

      1. TechCom

        Wondered if it wasn’t something like that.
        I know propagation can be crazy sometimes.
        This one night a few years ago I was getting police departments from 200 miles away, and people were hitting up repeaters 50 miles away sitting on their couch with a stock Baofeng.

      2. Right now with the solar minimum, conventional wisdom is really out the window. In class a few months back we were hearing a conversation happening over a hundred miles away on VHF simplex- and they heard us with that same 4w Baofeng and one of the student’s jungle antennas. Definitely not the norm, but interesting nonetheless.

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