Do we need a UHF radio for the Cape

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 16:31
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I have read that a UHF radio should be installed prior to driving to the Cape. Has anyone some advice given Mobile Ph coverage could be non existent ? Thanks . Johno
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 16:52

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 16:52
Johno,

UHF radio doesn't replace mobile phone coverage. It is mainly for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which may allow you to assist yourself and other drivers on a tricky part of a track. Or maybe to call ahead to a UHF-equipped roadhouse and order your steak sanga so it's ready for your arrival :-)

If you want communications with the outside world when out of mobile coverage you need a satphone or HF.
FrankP

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Reply By: Hoyks - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 17:45

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 17:45
It's a nice to have, but you don't 'need' it. I had a pair of hand helds that I gave to the kids while I was sorting things in the camp, I also had one on scan when I was driving. I could get a few km out of them, which was adequate.

I would have been lucky to have used it a hand full of times. It did come in handy for getting past the road trains*, finding out if groups are heading your way and getting through the road works/grader crews.

For contact with the outside world, it is suprising just how much mobile coverage is available on the Cape. I had an iPhone and a data dongle for the lap top. Most places we camped there was telstra coverage, hell, I sat in the tent at Chili Beach, surfed the net and bought stuff on ebay.
There aren't a huge number of people that live up there and it is a long way from anywhere, but it isn't as 'remote' as it used to be. Once the tourists start rolling you won't have to wait long before someone will be along and you can flag them down.



* although it did get me all sorts of abuse from one driver. "You go mate, I have all day." because he was at work and I literally did have all day, was misinterpreted as being a sarcastic comment and initiated a tirade of abuse.
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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 18:21

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 18:21
Need it?.... No

Handy? ... Yes

Would I buy one if I didn't have one?..........If I couldn't hire/ borrow a 5W hand held, , yes I'd buy a 5W hand held and if money's tight resell it when I get back for probably $100 less than you bought it for.


If you are doing it during June-July, the longest you will go without seeing a passing vehicle on the PDR will be 5 minutes, max.
We were there late June-July last year, we were surprised with the amount of Telstra mobile coverage, but mobile phones and UHFs are used for different purposes, one doesn't replace the other.
Enjoy your trip


Mark
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Reply By: 9900Eagle - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 18:49

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 18:49
John,

No, you don't need a uhf and you won't have to much phone coverage, BUT.

Over the years I would hate to say how many vehicles and caravans I have tried to warn about either problems with their gear or dangerous road conditions and have not been able to communicate with them and this is the ones with uhf antennas on their vehicles. If they were in front I just hoped they had a radio.

If you have the dollars take one, even if it is a 5 watt handheld. You just have to put up with the town morons and some convoy travellers that at least are not offensive.They can be just annoying sometimes if they are travelling the same way on CH 40.
AnswerID: 599376

Reply By: CSeaJay - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 21:41

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 21:41
Been there three times
Would not consider going without the radio
If I were going with others I'd insist they also have one
On several occasions I also used it on the graded dirt roads to communicate with oncoming trucks
CJ
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 14:13

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 14:13
What do you say to the oncoming trucks CJ?
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 20:48

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 20:48
Allan
If it is a gravel road I say to them that I will pull over out of their way so they can pass without having to go onto the verge and spray more rocks.

I also ask if they know of other trucks coming this way. Out there they are quite helpful

I find it strange that you ask this Allan, I would have thougnt that you of all people do the same thing?

CJ
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 22:32

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 22:32
-
Well CJ, I don't seem to have a lot of success communicating with trucks. They often don't answer or they are somewhat dismissal and terse.

When I see an oncoming truck on a narrow road I slow and pull off to the shoulder. The truck thunders past and that's it. No negotiations. No pain for either.

With an overtaking truck I advise that I will pull off at the first opportunity. But then they sit behind so close that I cannot decelerate to safely pull off. Very frustrating.

Nevertheless, I respect truckies and try to be as accommodating as possible.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 22:45

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 22:45
Same here Allan. And that includes trucks from the opposite direction and the rare one that is overtaking me. They aren't usually the fastest vehicles and we pretty much travel about the same speed, or a bit more.

Anyway it's a lot quicker and easier to understand, if you simply just move left and slow down or even stop if there isn't anyone on your tail. Any idiot would understand your motives. You don't need to "engage" or have a "dialogue" with them. They aren't necessarily a part of today's 24/7 Borge mob who have to discuss everything and generate a new protocol before proceeding.

Just darn-well-do-it and leave them alone. I used to drive interstate part time on the weekends to make a little extra and it was a pain answering every car that came along. That was in the days of HF CB and I bet it's the same today with UHF CB. Just a wave as they pass is sufficient.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 13:00

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 13:00
Same here never talked to one yet just pull over early when you see that dust bowl roaring along the track put the left indicator on till he passes.
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 13:54

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 13:54
Be careful of using the indicators. The traditional one back years ago was a hand signal, then when indicators were fitted to cars and trucks, it was the right hand indicator with two blinks ONLY to say you can overtake.

These days with all the "Johnny come lately's" from Europe, the do gooders and know alls who used the left hand one "back in the old country", it has been stuffed up by them trying to change it to the left hand one. I will use the right hand one as I have for year both privately and professionally. But I am aware of the issue.

I am talking about the traditions since 1950 when I was Dad started showing my brother and I about driving. Yes at 5 years old. Dad always spoke told us about as we he drove, explaining things while we were young.

So just be wary that it may not be a signal to overtake.
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Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 20:57

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 20:57
No. Batts puts on the left indicator to show he is pulling over to the left. Good stuff Batts as you have communicated exactly what your intensions are.

I have no problems with a call on the radio saying what someones intensions are and as for calls to me like, I have a broken windscreen could you back it down, I am pulling over and giving you the road or bridge, Keep it up on the top big fella I am giving you the road.

All this communicates what the drivers intensions are and most truck drivers are thankful of this. Yes some don't answer and yes some are don't care but many do and will just say thanks.

I talked to two doubles yesterday on my way west with the wobbly on the way back and kept it simple.
First one, K104 do you want to come around as I will back off when you are out there. No I will have a go at the top of the hill. Ok, I will lift my speed to the top so you can have a good go. Top of hill, he gets out there and I ease. Me, jobs done and Him, Thanks.

Number 2. K200 I am going to drop off into the truck bay, as I do I get thanks for that.

I didn't have to identify myself as they could tell by the signal it was from just in front of them. People might be amazed what many remote and semi remote truck operators will pass on to you, that is if simple words are exchanged by radio.




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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 21:23

Thursday, May 05, 2016 at 21:23
My point exactly!

"Batts puts on the left indicator to show he is pulling over to the left" doesn't mean it's safe to overtake.

Just be careful.

Phil
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Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 22:31

Saturday, Apr 30, 2016 at 22:31
Like all have said above...

Nice to have but not necessary.

But for the cost, ease of installation etc it is well worth spending a few hundred to get one.

You will never find it a waste of money, will come in handy on your future 4WD trips and they can be down right entertaining listening to some of the idiots you get on them (just watch the kids ears if they are in the car).

When towing, I like being able to let trucks know I am aware they are behind me and that I will hold my speed and course if they want to overtake. Likewise if I'm not towing it lets me talk to them (or people towing) that I am going to pass.

Also good to chat with others to find out what's ahead or what they had for lunch etc.

Cheers

Anthony
VKS 3539
Work - a 40 hour interuption to my weekend!
Too many places - too little time

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Reply By: johno59 - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 09:56

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 09:56
Thanks guys, really appreciate your advice. What would be an average amount including installation to buy one and can you recommend a suitable unit? Thanks johno
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:31

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:31
GME do a "Plug and Play" model that can be swapped from vehicle to vehicle for around $250,

I personally use GME - Aussie Company - never had an issue. But given the price of these now they are pretty similar in price.

If you do a google search for GME UHF Radios - it will give you a pretty comprehensive list - there is also a link to google shopping which gives some prices which are a pretty good guide.

Cheers

Anthony

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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:38

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:38
G'day Johno,

I would be looking at a quality unit, try and get it bundled with an antenna if you can. What type of unit is dependant on where you want to locate it. Some are DIN sized to fit in the dash, others have all the controls on the mic, so the box can be mounted elsewhere in the car. If you remote mount it, make sure that you can hear the speaker, and don't skimp on the antenna, as having a good antenna is paramount.

My own personal preference is for Icom, closely followed by GME. The GME TX3600 does crop up secondhand on Ebay from time to time, can be programmed for 80ch UHF CB, and the transmit power is limited to 5w.

Dependant on your location, there would be quite a few suppliers that could supply and install your radio, but I would stick to somebody that specialises in radio to fit it.

Have a good look around and let suppliers know what you want it to do, then they are in a better position to advise you on which direction to go.

HTH

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Reply By: vk1dx - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 10:07

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 10:07
Hi Johnno

For a trip to Cape York on the PDR (ie no Tele or CREB tracks), I wouldn't jump over big logs to get one. But if you ever want to visit places like the Simpson or CSR etc etc (heaps more) then by all means get one.

I have nearly worn several cars on my bullbar when cresting a dune because some tools never bother letting others know that you are nearby or heading your way. That should read "inconsiderate fools". We actually met others on the Canning in AWDs and no radios. Go figure!

Summing up. No real need for the Cape if on the PDR and no side trips to remote areas.

Phil
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Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 11:03

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 11:03
Thanks PHIL. can see the logic. I might investigate the cost and take it from there john
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:11

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:11
Check prices at Prestige Communications from Perth.

Usually competitive and their service/delivery is second to none.

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: johno59 - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:37

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 13:37
Thanks Bob
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Follow Up By: Hoyks - Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 15:16

Sunday, May 01, 2016 at 15:16
A big +1 for Prestige Communications, really good prices and fast postage. I ordered stuff at 2PM and had it at my door by 3pm the following day.
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Reply By: Malcom M - Monday, May 02, 2016 at 07:42

Monday, May 02, 2016 at 07:42
Firstly, mobile phone coverage on the Cape is simply crap to non existent.
I'm guessing that all the people who say you don't need a UHF are just driving the PDR.
The assumption here is that the road will be open and someone will come along in an hour so and you will be rescued. If you are not on the PDR then you need every communications advantage you can get.

Bit of a bugger if the roads are flooded and closed but you are in the middle somewhere, stranded and without communications due to not wanting to spend a few hundred on basic safety. Hope you brought along spare food and water.

I've had the thrill of multiple breakdowns on the Cape. There is no guarantee that anyone is coming along and you are an idiot to assume otherwise. I run 2 installed UHF's plus a handheld, one is essentially a backup but very handy to leave on scan and hear whats happening around me.
First thing I did when I got home was buy a sat phone. Its a horrible feeling having crapped out and you are all alone.

Its all good fun until something goes wrong. Your life.may not be worth a few hundred but consider your passengers...

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Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 11:15

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 11:15
The thrill of multiple breakdowns on the Cape says it all ,,,,, if you had used some of your $$ on vehicle preparations / maintenance rather than 3 UHF to dribble into ??
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 11:22

Tuesday, May 03, 2016 at 11:22
You know nothing about my truck, state of preparedness or even what period of time and circumstances were involved.
Appreciate your informed comment though.
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