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Author Topic: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations  (Read 10701 times)

sfl

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hello all.

we are new to the forum, having just purchased a 1989 20' class c (Ultrasport Escaper) for our rockhounding expeditions.

thus, my question...

we have found that all the best rocks and minerals seem to be antisocial, liking to reside in all the white spaces on our cell phone coverage. ;)

we'd like to have the capability for emergency radio communication in the remote regions along the rocky mountains, TX, NM, AZ, OR, ID, MT, and WA.

would folks please provide some options for radios and antennas. we have a cb radio on the camper. i confess i am not yet licensed ham operator, nor have i yet to acquire the desire for ham as a hobby, so my technical interests are limited at present.

thanks in advance for any response.

regards,

keith & cindi

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2010, 05:25:00 PM »
Keith & Cindy,

Considering where you are with radio licenses, I would recommend that you get your Technician licenses.  These will allow you to use frequencies of 50 MHz and up.  2 meters, 144 to 148 MHz, is good for most areas as there are lots of repeaters available that expand the line of sight coverage to be expected on 2 meters.  This is similar to but not the same as cell phones.  Here in MT we have repeaters that cover hundreds of miles and still others that are linked to provide almost state wide coverage.  There are similar ones in most western states as well as all over the US and Canada.

That said, you can still get into areas where there is no coverage.  My solution to that is to have a General license  and operate on the lower frequencies that can have world wide  coverage.  This requires more radio knowledge and another more technical test and more and different equipment, spell that money.  Actually I have an Extra class license -again more technical but the same equipment as general.

If you have more questions, feel free to contact me directly at ac7po at arrl dot net.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

carson

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  • memories of yore
Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2010, 05:29:43 PM »
Hi Keith and Cindy, Allow me to present my points about Ham Radio.

  Ham radio (Amateur Radio) started many moons ago. The history is amazing.
Seems like most hams are borne with a radio gene. It is not meant for the general public as a substitute for CB or Cell phones or even 2 cans with a wire.  ;D

   Yes, communication is readily available from a short distance to a world-wide contact. It all depends on the equipment you have. There are many widely varying frequencies to be used, but they all require special equipment...radio sets, antennas and... a license.

  It ain't easy. But there is help. Being a newcomer take a look at this link... That'll be a start.

http://www.arrl.org/get-involved

Google ham radio and there is a lot of stuff available.

carson FL
Carson, 
 West Central Florida
Ex RV'er. (1995 Winnebago Adventurer)
2007 Buick Rendezvous, SUV / CROSSOVER

...Logic works like a charm...

sfl

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2010, 06:31:44 PM »
thanks Jim and Carson.

i had researched ham far enough to determine the licensing scales and figured technician class was far enough, although learning morse would probably be helpful even though it's no longer a requirement.

i appreciate your comments Jim regarding frequency ranges and coverage. i respect the use of ham and do not look at this as a cell phone for chatting, only for real emergencies. so from what i'm hearing Jim, a broader range of frequencies than a technician class may be necessary to ensure emergency coverage in some regions out west. is that an accurate assessment?

thanks again.

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2010, 08:20:40 PM »
i appreciate your comments Jim regarding frequency ranges and coverage. i respect the use of ham and do not look at this as a cell phone for chatting, only for real emergencies. so from what i'm hearing Jim, a broader range of frequencies than a technician class may be necessary to ensure emergency coverage in some regions out west. is that an accurate assessment?

Yes, usually  you can do everything with the 2 meter band however if you get down in the bottom of a canyon, you probably will not have coverage.  We have this frequently during search and rescue operations here in Gallatin Co.  We have even made a portable repeater to help out.  We had this same problem in Orange County CA during some of the fires years ago, the Laguna fires are one instance.

For an individual though, the best you can do with the 2 meter band is to have a handheld and a partner who can get to a ridge or ???? and call for help.  My wife is a Ham also so she can do it if I get hurt.  I also cover my bets with the other radios.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

Pierat

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2010, 08:30:31 PM »
Are satellite telephones an option?
We Have Hung Up The Keys!
Washington State

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2010, 08:46:33 PM »
Are satellite telephones an option?

I haven't used one in a long time but they suffer the same problem in canyons.  The sky angle in many canyons s such that you either don't get a satellite at all or for it is for such a short time that you can't get a message through plus they are expensive.

A little story here.  the Forest Service had satellite phones on one of our fires but they located the fire base camp where they couldn't get the satellite, same problem I just mentioned.   We set up a link to town with our Ham radios and a portable repeater.  I got to stay up one night and baby sit the Honda generator to make sure it did not run out of fuel.  Got to listen to all the messages back and forth -BORING!!
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

PancakeBill

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2010, 09:40:24 PM »
Jim.  Any repeaters in Yellowstone or within reach?  I am coming up empty on goggle.

Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Retired from Old Faithful, On The Road for a bit
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G
2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara.
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

sfl

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2010, 05:27:48 AM »
Thanks again Jim. i really appreciate your comments, it was very kind of you to share your expertise.

keith

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2010, 11:25:03 PM »
Jim.  Any repeaters in Yellowstone or within reach?  I am coming up empty on goggle.

Bill,

Remember you are down in the caldera and there are ridges all around you shielding from all but the highest repeaters.

That said, there are a few that may get into OF.

Rigby, ID     146.700-  No Tone, NT
Rigby, ID     146.880-  NT
Roberts, ID 147.300+  NT
Sawtell, ID  145.230-  Tone=100

Big Sky, MT  146.82-   T=82.5
Bozeman, MT 146.880- T=100
W. Yellowstone, MT 146.72-  NT

I would guess that the BZN one would only be available from a ridge somewhere or on Dunraven pass.  It is about 90+ miles and is located on a 7000+' mountain peak.

Later in July when the fire towers are manned, George - can't remember his call -  will be active on 146.52 simplex and there may be a few traveling Hams there also.  I usually listen to .52 when we travel in the car as I am driving.  In the MH, I check the Repeater directory and sometimes will try to raise a local as Pat is almost always driving. 

Now on the other hand a low band set up in the MH would give more choices.   ;D
Hope this helps. 
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

PancakeBill

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2010, 08:58:11 AM »
Thanks Jim.
I did't have my HT with me last year, this year I do.  I also have a 2m mobile, but haven't mounted and wired an antenna yet.  My HT is multi-band, including 6 m, plus can receive in many areas.  That darn caldera sure is a limit.

As to low band, I wish I still had mine, but at the time, I had no time whatsoever to use it.  Figured be better off selling and buying later.  I know what I want to get now, just not ready now.

Any local hamfests?  Swap meets? 
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Retired from Old Faithful, On The Road for a bit
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G
2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara.
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2010, 01:40:17 PM »
Thanks Jim.
Any local hamfests?  Swap meets?

Bill,

Here are the ones I could find information on.  We cancelled the one in Bozeman usually held in late Sept. or early Oct.  I don't know of any swap meets in coming months.  There may be either in Idaho Falls but no information locally and nothing found in a search.

Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park Hamfest
July 15-17, 2011 - July 20-22, 2012
Reservations should be made as soon as possible via the G-W web site directions

Jackson Hole Area Amateur Radio Club Next Meeting: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 7:00 PM 

You might be able to get into this repeater??
The Jackson Hole Area Amateur Radio Club hosts a Net every Monday evening at 8:00 PM on the Teton Amateur Radio Repeater Association's repeater in Jackson Hole. Everyone, including visitors, are encouraged to check in. 146.91-  NT  146.730-  NT

I don't know of other clubs Field day plans but we will have one here in Bozeman.

Good Luck on finding a Repeater
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

John From Detroit

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2010, 11:56:33 AM »
What radio you need is determined by how much communications you want, and your license class.

Now.. Back in my Technician Plus days i had a Yesau FT-51 R, This is a Dual Band (VHF/UHF) FM (With am receive ability) radio that runs up to around 5 watts depending on the precise model, Hand held of course.. I fed it into a "Brick" for 35 watts to a Diamond dual band antenna.   Worked great..   Of course it's VHF/UHF FM only which means you don't always have "Coverage"  This replaced my older Wilson WE-800 (I might add I still have and use both of these radios)

Time passes.

I upgraded to General, and then Extra

Now I have a Kenwood TS-2000.. It's not hand held, but.. It covers 160 Meters all the way to 70cm (And even more if you get the "X" model)   AM/FM/SSB/CW/FSK and more.

Both of these are best recommended as "Examples"

For a Technician class. HF work is limited to CW as I recall (the old Novice class modes/frequencies) but a good hand held coupled with a better Mobile can be very nice.. 6Mtr can often give you decent range when 2/.7 are not in the area,  HOWEVER 6mtr is not a popular band.

If you have General or better I'd go with the hand held for walk-about and a good all mode/band Mobile type (Such as the Kenwood TS-2000 or the Icom or Yesau high end radios) as ... Well, they do everything.

Add a "Signal Link" computer interface,, or equivalent, (I made one myself), a good Random Wire Tuner (Mine is the Kenwood KAT-1,  All the big-names have them that mate to the top end radios) and a length of plain stranded copper wire with some cotton/nylon cord on the other end and a weight on the other end of the cord and a computer with Ham Radio Delux (or any of the other good PSK programs) and you are going to be seriously amazed at what you can do.

I pump about 30 watts into that wire most PSK days (It's 100' by the way)

Here is my station.

Cockpit.. USed to have a Kenwood TM-733 (Dual band VHF/UHF FM) but that radio is out of it just now (Will get fixed later) Using Yesau listed above.. Plus some CB gear just for the noise of it.

"Shack" (a small room amid-ships I can close off) has the TS-2000.. It also has the back side of the 12 volt main distribution panel which is what feeds the TS-2000.  I had to add about a foot to the factory cord on the TS-2000.

Coax to the back of the house where the KAT-1 Tuner (Marine grade) is bolted to the back of the motor home.. The long wire hooks there when parked.  When rolling I use a "Luggage Rail" that also is feed via the KAT-1

Other antennas include a 70CM NGP vertical on the roof, a 2-meter J-pole (NGP) on the rear, and a 6meter quarter wave on the rear (It has a counterpoise)   (I also have a "Throw up" 2-meter J-pole and a mast mounted dipole for 6, and mast mounted "T" poles (kind of a dual "J" pole) for 2mtrs and 70cm.. The mast is a 25 foot flag pole with a park on base.

(I only use it when I need it.. Normally I don't use it since I got the rig mounted hardware up and working)

You could use ICOM or Yesau in place of my Kenwood.. Should work as well.

ON Side band I"ve worked most of the contential US, and a few out of country places.

On PSK again I've worked most of the US, and a whole bunch of other countries,, That's 30 watts into that 100 foot wire.  Spain, Russia, Grand Caymans, Italy, And a host of others too many to list.

The problem is knowing which band will give the best results.   (80 at night is fantastic if there is not too much QRM/N)
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

PancakeBill

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2010, 12:48:15 PM »
John
Not sure if that was meant for me, the OP or general info.  OP is looking for reliable emergency radio.  Great general info.  For me, have had all sorts of gear since 1964.  The 2000 is a nice radio, lots of friends had them.  I had the IC 746Pro, &06 Mk II G, as well as many others,  the 706 and 746 were pretty similar in function, bit not size.  Wouldn't mind having the 706 back, but the new Yaesu 7?? is the one I want now.  Can't remember the number right now, but more like the 706 in Icom.

Easy for me to put up a 100' longwire here among the pines. 
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Retired from Old Faithful, On The Road for a bit
2000 Winnebago Adventurer 37G
2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara.
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

John From Detroit

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2010, 09:20:15 AM »
Meant for the O/P.. And the point is there are a lot of very good reliable radios to choose from.. I have radios that I'm still using today that are over 30 years old.. And they still work just fine.

I can tell you (And him) how I choose.. I looked at my budget $$$ wise, and at the space I had to mount the radio in and got the best radio that fit both.. In this case a Kenwood TS-2000
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

sfl

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2010, 07:54:03 PM »
many thanks to John, Bill, and John for their many helpful comments. lots of food for thought.

i'm planning to attend the upcoming local ham radio club meeting to learn more. also visit a hamfest to see what i can glean there as well.

again, thanks to you all.

keith

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2010, 08:00:25 PM »
Keith,

Where are you located??  Someone here may know of stuff going on that might be interest to you in your area.
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

sfl

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2010, 08:07:45 PM »
Jim,

i'm in the corning-elmira-ithaca NY region.

Ps - sorry i called you john by accident. my bad.  :-[

Jim Godward

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2010, 08:36:58 PM »
Keith,

Go to ths site and have a good time.

http://www.arast.org/
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

sfl

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Re: recommended Ham radios for communication in remote locations
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2010, 07:39:20 PM »
great info Jim. thanks. looks quite good. i'll be getting in touch.

already started studying....

ouch! too long since i had to really study. hopefully the old leather won't crack!

see you around