HF Radio compared to Sat Phones

Submitted: Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 13:57
ThreadID: 105301 Views:2949 Replies:9 FollowUps:9
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Hi all,
When traveling around especially out of range to use mainly as emergency use only what would people recommend? Sat phone or HF Radio's For mainly use 6-8 weeks in a year.

I have made a few inquiries with some prices and have come up with a basic list below, I am heading towards maybe the HF Radio as they don't really have a monthly cost like a sat phone does but I do have a problem that with the new car the large Aerial may be a issue mounting as no bullbar etc.will have to work out a mount of the tow bar some how.

HF Radios - Barret / Codan
Supply & install $4000
Yearly fee VKS 737 $125

Sat Phone - Iridium
Supply and install $free
Handset monthly payment option ($68.00, 24 Months plan Telstra)
Purchase outright $2000
Either way both must have minimal Monthly plan $30.00 (24 months min Telstra)

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Reply By: The Explorer - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 14:19

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 14:19

I got my sat phone (9555) off ebay for ~$700 (there are cheaper ones)...plus run telstra casual plan $10 month (though calls are a bit costly - maybe better off on a sat plan in my circumstances) - anyway - food for thought.

Also make some inquiries about hiring a sat phone - maybe cheaper than buying if just using 6-8 weeks but I don't know prices.

HF would also do the job but I think for most a sat phone is probably better option.

I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 14:24

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 14:24
Brendan Hi,
Like almost anything ! A compromise.
The main advantage with the HF is if in strife & You call for assistance another HF user may be over the next dune and hear your SOS.
With sat phone You are calling direct to say RFDS which may be an advantage.
I use a Isat Phone Pro that costs nothing like the figures You have quoted.
I us pre pay approx 100 minutes of calls cost me $109.00 with 6months expiry.
Have not had a problem with reception. The phone sits in the console & if I want can throw it in the back pack with the PLB.
Regards Mike.
AnswerID: 522256

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 22:18

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 22:18
I have the same unit and worth noting that 000 works without any available credit as well
FollowupID: 803289

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 22:44

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 22:44
Same again. Also thanks on the confirmation of the "000" access Alby.

But I agree it would be handy to have someone nearby hear a call for assistance. Can't do that with a phone so we wear the cost to get the car towed or lifted out if we brake an axle. Or whatever. I think that you get my point.

Our satellite phone cost about $500 new after the subsidy and we are on a prepaid account with no monthly fees. It has about 100 units credit at the moment. If we need more time then we just bung some time into it when we go remote. I hate monthly commitments. Even the old Nokia mobile is a prepaid. And I don't even use it. Not a member of the Borg society.

But then again we do not use it for chatter. Only for emergencies.

FollowupID: 803292

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 09:10

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 09:10
Phil that is a good point regarding also being able to access a nearby travellers assistance. As a recovery tow will in most cases cost more than a HF setup
Ideal situation is to have both.
The prepaid cards have a shorter use by date now, on my last trip I just bought a $30 dollar prepaid before I left, cheap insurance in my view
FollowupID: 803311

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 09:28

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 09:28
That's cheap insurance, at $30 a trip. According to the phone "balance statement", our credit should expire on the 1 June next year. That's more than six months. No idea what's going on with it. We put some money into it just before the Simpson drive last year and it still has 113.50 units credit with a date of 2013/06/01.

Am I about to tell them it should have run out last Christmas!!! Nope!!! No way Nellie. I don't like telling people that they are wrong and made a mistake. Far be it for me to criticise them. Maybe it will magically extend next year as well.

I know about having both but we have chosen the phone and that will do us.

FollowupID: 803313

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 15:39

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 15:39
There is advice here on the Communications page, plus at VKS-737 on HF v Satphone options.......information on those pages highlights the pros and cons for both. Simply for emergencies though, the satphone might be your best option. My pick when outback is HF, because base operators can supply all sorts of information on request (weather, roads etc....time permitting) and make on the spot arrangements for support of various kinds (mechanical, medical, and two-way messaging); and it costs no more. Don't forget that buying used HF can save you a lot - and models from many years back can still provide all of the popular HF facilities that most outback travelers want.
AnswerID: 522261

Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 16:00

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 16:00
Hi Brenden

If they were the two options I'd go phone but I went HF with a 2nd hand Barrett 950 which actually has advantges over some of the newer HF radios.
Total everything cost was $900 including VKS-737

Basically HF kepts you more in touch with the 4wding outback side of things and phone keeps you more in touch with family side.

The HF does something else very well , it can communicate cross country -, to another car that has driven out of the short range of the UHF that everyone should carry , and acts as a backup.

Also you don't need to run with a big antenna either I use a $10 900mm antenna for general running and screw on bigger antenna when stopped making a call.

The height of the 900mm antennaat front of car is the same as the roof of the car so if it wacks a branch so do I.
Robin Miller

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Reply By: pepper2 - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 17:18

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 17:18
Not yet mentioned is in addition to the above features of hf you can make telephone calls by radio link with your hf radio.i have made phone calls from my barrett 950 from alpine regions , deserts , and at the bottom of deep valleys , it is slower to connect sometimes but always works for me.
I use radio data in cowra for connection , there are others as well but this company worked better for me than the one suggested by vks 737 but your needs may be different , contact both and compare.
This gives the best in my view.
Happy travels.
AnswerID: 522271

Reply By: Tim - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 20:01

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 20:01
I use both for work, and have until recently owned both as well. That was until I got rid of the HF and to be honest I think that is the way a lot of people are going. The HF requires a little bit of technical knowledge. Even with the most automated systems, you still need to know (remember) a few things. Take into account that you may need to use it under a lot of pressure, it is easy to forget a few simple processes (remember the KISS principle). With the sat phone, it is a matter of standing in the open and making a phone call.
12 months ago I would have been on the "HF side" although I am now leaning the other way.
When I am out on the road, the sat phone stays in the "bad day bag" along with a rat pack and a first aid kit. No matter what happens to the car, I know all I need is my BDB and I will be right. If you crash your vehicle, it catches fire or anything along those lines, then your HF could be useless. In an ideal world, both would be the way to go.
AnswerID: 522281

Follow Up By: pepper2 - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 21:04

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 21:04
i understand your thinking however it depends where you are when a catastrophe occurs.....sat phone wont work under heavy tree cover and various other situations etc ,i remember a few years ago when sat phones were used to report on the fink races out of alice ,the sat fones wouldnt work and the officials resorted to hf to report results.....anyone heard of wicken a service to communicate on multiple events including natural desasters....uses hf.

but i agree with you in an ideal world,both would be the way to go.
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 08:17

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 08:17
Both have their own weaknesses, saying a sat phone will not work under trees is a bit wrong when you made no reference to what network they were using...... saying that we did have difficulties with our Iridium sat phone dropping of the network when we were in the northern Simpson, this happened mostly when we were between dunes.

We have had times where we have not been able to use the HF for a few days due to atmospheric conditions.

Tim is one the money with his KISS theory, a sat phone is way more easier to use and in an emergency that plays a big part.

There is enough issues with people understanding technology and even using their TV remotes so I could only wonder what these people would be like using a HF radio under pressure.

99.9% of the worlds population know how to use a telephone and less than 1% would know how to use a HF radio.

Calling a HF base outside scheds can be a trying experience with frequency, selcall and base location having to be taken into account..... compared to a sat phone; using HF requires a BIG white board and complex calculations using many different coloured texta's.

We carry sat phone, HF, UHF and a GPS enables PLB, the sat phone gets the most use but the HF is alway on just in case someone close by who we cannot hear needs help.

I would recommend a sat phone any day over a HF anyday.

FollowupID: 803307

Reply By: prado 01 - Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 22:57

Thursday, Nov 28, 2013 at 22:57
Forget about Telstra Satellite plans as there are far better options out there. The majority of iridium users are on the Telstra $10 casual monthly NG plan nowdays. Even cheaper is to use your everyday Telstra sim if you have one.
As far as HF V Sat goes, a satphone is a far better option. They are easy to use and most importantly they are portable and compact.
AnswerID: 522289

Follow Up By: Member - Brenden H - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 08:30

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 08:30
Hi Jo,
You state " use your everyday Telstra sim if you have one." can you please state more on that? are you saying use my everyday sim card out of my standard mobile phone can be used in a sat phone to make sat phone calls???
I have contacted Telstra and they told me that the lowest plan is $30.
FollowupID: 803308

Follow Up By: The Explorer - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 10:43

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 10:43
....any post paid Telstra sim card should work (subject to global roaming being activated). In my post above I only mentioned that I had a Telstra $10 casual plan because my normal phone is Optus. The $10 plan is the cheapest option for non-telstra people (depending on sat phone usage - a proper sat plan may be cheaper if you use the sat phone a lot)... If I was with Telstra I would just use the sim out of my normal phone as suggested by Jo.

I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: The Landy - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 06:47

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 06:47
In short, it is difficult to compare both side-by-side and whilst both are communication devices each will excel in its on application.

Personally I have always found HF useful as it puts you into contact with a broad number of people at the one time. Also it enables weather updates via service providers like VKS-737 for example, something that is useful if travelling remote.

Satphones will put you in direct contact with someone easily, and has the added advantage of being portable.

Entry cost are more expensive for HF, although if you look around there are always good second units from Barrett and Codan at reasonable prices.

Entry costs for Satphones is far cheaper these days and with a government subsidy you can walk away with a Globalstar connection via Pivotal for as little as $250 and $15 per month.

We have a Codan NGT mounted in our vehicle and a Globalstar Satphone.

Good luck with your deliberations...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
AnswerID: 522293

Reply By: Member - Brenden H - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 08:41

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 08:41
HI All,
Some excellent responses and allot information that you all have supplied to me. Over all yes I would love to have both but to be honest I cant justify the cost of them both to use for 6-8 weeks a year. I did find a online "Exploroz" member that hires his sat phone out for weekly rates. As I deal allot with the Finke Desert Race sweep vehicles that "Pepper 2" was talking about I think I may lean to getting a HF installed into the new vehicle and just hire a sat phone for special trips. I have found a great HF supplier in Brisbane with great prices.
Around $1000 cheaper on new units delivered, and have a range of 2nd hand and refurbished units for sale, allot cheaper than local suppliers here in Alice Springs
Cheers once again All
AnswerID: 522298

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 15:01

Friday, Nov 29, 2013 at 15:01
I don't think "justifying the cost" should come into it...... some think life is cheap and take a cheap option and so don't put a price on life!

For me, if I need urgent help I would be happy to pay whatever it is.
FollowupID: 803341

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