HF Radio Club

Submitted: Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 08:19
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About to hand over money for an HF radio. What is your preferred radio club? Is this a declining form of communication, are people still using this or are sat phones more popular these days?
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 08:48

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 08:48
Hi Rob

I asked myself this very question a few years ago. Back in my early days, which I believe were the best, the licence was cheap before any of the four wheel drive networks and you had to register your call sign with every RFDS Base around Australia and log into what ever base you could contact. For over 25 years I have been using my trusty Codan HF radio and was one of the founding members of the VKS Network when it was solely a Network for members in South Australia only and to members of four wheel drive clubs.

Over the years, the network grew in numbers and strength and was made available to every Tom, Dick and Harry that had a HF Radio Australia wide, and so did the cost of membership, which I believe is now $130.

To be totally 100% honest, the only time that I every made any radio contact, was when we went bush for those few weeks every year, and after that, the radio sat idle in the car and never turned on. Every year the cost of membership would rise, stating ever increasing running costs, yet all the base stations are run by volunteers from there homes across Australia, yet with ever increasing numbers of new members.

Around 5 years ago, I purchased a satellite phone to makes calls back home when needed and from that point I never used the HF anymore, but might have only turned it on at night to hear what was going on in the outside world. I still kept my membership going, but was a service that I now never uses, so after 20 years of continuous membership and yearly cost increases in membership, I gave the network the flick.

The radio is still in my Prado and now just sits there for looks, knowing that in the event of any serious issue, I have my sat phone, PLB and my HF radio, even if I do not have it Licenced any more.

They claim that is an offence to use the radio without a licence, but in a real life emergency, the case would never get to court, purely as a "Duty of Care" issue.
If on the other hand the cost of membership was at a reasonable cost, I may consider joining, with as fees alway go up and never down, my chances of rejoins are now "0"

It's your call, but like me and nearly ever other user, how often do you use it?

Food for thought.


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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 08:57

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 08:57
Hi Rob,

I have used only VKS737 and found them good although have never needed any emergency assistance.
In later times I added both a satphone and a PLB to my arsenal and again have not needed emergency assistance.
I have found the HF less than ideal for communication due to 'atmospheric problems' causing poor clarity. Have listened in on a number of relays where a mobile was unable to communicate directly with the base station. That was the main reason for obtaining a satphone.

There have been arguments in favour of HF permitting multiple simultaneous conversations between mobiles and this can be convenient but not necessarily life-saving. A satphone will enable clear and direct conversation with police or a RFDS doctor to obtain life-saving advice.

A PLB will identify your location and summon the cavalry but not provide any assistive advice until they reach you. Furthermore, they are unable to gauge the urgency or nature of your emergency.

If I was doing it all again, I would not bother with a HF and just go with a satphone and PLB.

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Reply By: TomH - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:00

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:00
I bought one in 2008 and had it for 18 months The only time I ever used it was one morning to do a time check to see if it was working. Also had a Satfone so sold the NGT as thought it unecessary..
You can after all take a Satfone with you if walking and have an accident but wont be able to use the HF in your vehicle 3km away.
HF is really a long distance communicator and I think a UHF and a Satfone is a better and cheaper alternative.
For absolute security add a PLB or an Epirb
AnswerID: 601772

Reply By: Tim F3 - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:19

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:19
Are you wanting to use the ability to make telephone calls with your hf radio ??

If so there are several alternatives eg vks 737 works well but expensive call rates .

Hf radio club..offers virtually free telephone calls , was 200 minutes per month free when i was a member.

Reids radio data....provides excellent service and reliable coverage at a fair cost.

As for sked calls , assistance etc with radio voice contact i believe vks 737 is superior to hf radio club.

I currently choose to be a member of vks737 for voice contact on skeds etc and joined reids radio data to make phone calls..i did not renew membership with hf radio club..

AnswerID: 601774

Reply By: vk1dx - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:22

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:22
We didn't get one and instead purchased a satellite phone. The type and service I will supply but I believe it is not relevant at this stage.

Emergencies; We have not had any emergency nor any need to use the phone so I wouldn't see the radio getting used either.

Re chatting; How many times do you actually chat to other 4wd's in your area. Okay I grant you that the restricted range inhibits chat. In any event, we very rarely chat other than to say "heading east on the WWA line 55 kms for " etc so that you don't hit someone coming the other way at the top of a dune. Never yet had any responses. So much for UHF CB.

When moving I just don't use radio or anything for that matter. When stationary I would rather talk to those around the fire or my wife.

As already said. Your choice but a lot of money has been wasted by a lot of 4WDers on them, one of our sons as well. He hasn't even turned his on yet to my knowledge. He got a satellite phone.

AnswerID: 601775

Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:54

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 09:54
Hi Rob

As you can see from Siganture Block, I am a subscriber of the VKS Network.

Are HF radios cheap? -No
Are subscriptions cheap? - I don't think they are too bad. It's cheap insurance. But the do go up.
Are they reliable? - they are dependent on atmospheric conditions, but in saying that I have never been unable to make contact with a base station or another user.
Are people still using them? - YES.

I like the HF for a number of reasons:

Because the scheds let me check the radio is working.
I have the ability to get road conditions/hazards for the area I'm travelling.
I can speak to other travelers near me. Who if necessary can come to my aid.
Ability to make phone calls - cheaper than sat
The operators go out of their way to help you when it goes south!

We were on the GBH and our travelling companions lost an axle on their trailer. A selcall to the network had a VKS operator calling us back within 10 minutes. We gave them the trailer details (make, model, year and VIN) and they were able to contact the manufacturer and order one on our behalf. An hour later, we had the trailer secured off the track, a part ordered and on its way. Payment was made by credit card (via a friend in Perth - you have to give VKS a payment contact they don't allow credit card details to be transmitted). They even kept in contact with us to let us know where they were up too.

Yes! I'm an advocate of HF radio. It's not perfect, but read the threads about the various satellite phone issues (not connecting, dropping out etc etc) - they are not perfect either.

I do carry satellite phones and PLB's as well. I like to have options.


AnswerID: 601776

Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:51

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:51
Another 'club' is Austravel Safetynet $60 per year.
AnswerID: 601780

Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:59

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:59
You need to be a member of a club to get an 'Authority To Transmit'. If you are not a financial member of a club the ACMA requires you to remove particular club frequencies from your radio.
You can listen to whatever you like.
FollowupID: 871314

Reply By: Member - hopbush - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:54

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 10:54
An interesting thread! I too have an HF radio, sat phone and also a registered EPIRB which I swap between my boat and car. I falter each year when it comes time to renew my VKS subscription but still continue to do so as I mostly travel solo and quite frankly enjoy the scheds at the beginning and end of each day's travel, and realistically, if you go away say once a year the cost of the VKS subscription is not too bad and can be absorbed into the trip overheads. Also, when you think of the value of some of the useless stuff we have attached to our vehicles which we never use, the cost of a radio is not too bad.
In a nutshell.....a HF radio is good company and provides additional peace of mind.

AnswerID: 601781

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 13:33

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 13:33
I liked your last line Hopbush and its a reason I stick with HF - It just keeps one in touch more with whats going on. I often just listen in even when back home , and also like the assurance one gets from a beacon call.

Also my HF is better at listening to ABC news when outback than my car radio.
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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 14:08

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 14:08
The included radio channels are a bonus - especially if you like listening to the news or the footy.


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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 14:26

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 14:26
To listen to the news and footy you do not need a HF transmitter/receiver and club membership fees. Plenty of small all-band receivers will do that more conveniently.

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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 14:37

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 14:37
That is why they are a BONUS! Free even!

I can also listen to them when driving, as I have done quite often. Not to sure how a small all band recover would cope whilst driving?


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Follow Up By: D-MaxerWA - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 20:14

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 20:14
I remember the days back in the 70's when I was working solo out the back of beyond. No radios, no mobile phones, just me. When I got lonely, I used to put a coat on the tree stump near the fire and a hat on top. Was good talking to that at the end of the day after 4 weeks in.

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 11:22

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 11:22
Last century technology.
In the event of a decent accident (always possible), the antennae will likely be the first thing wrecked and then you will need to use some other communication method or rig a temporary antennae.

Great devise for chatting to others "in the club", if that is your thing.

For emergencies - PLB and for talking to folks at home - Sat 'phone.

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Reply By: Member - JOHNVK2JF - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 17:52

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 17:52
Although I have a Sat Phone and PLB I still use my HF radio regularly when traveling.
I use the HFOz network and log my GPS positions via the HF radio on a regular bases. This can be viewed on a map by family and friends.
I use an Codan NGT AR with the amateur radio mod so it is used every day on the various amateur bands to talk to people around the world.
Being able to send SMS messages via HF to family and friends mobile phones is also useful when out of mobile phone range.
You can also send and receive short email messages (up to 64 characters).
To me it is worth the cost as I get a lot of use and enjoyment from HF radio.
AnswerID: 601801

Reply By: maurice b - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 19:42

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 19:42
I purchased my Codan 8525 in 1986 and it is still in operaton today after a few upgrades over the years . I was VkS 2nd member to sign up in 1996 as Quebec 960 .currently im with the HF radio Club as i can ''sometimes'' make phone calls .I also have had a few satphones connected over the years and still have.Prefer this. I find HF isn't like it use to be in reception seems a lot of interferance these days so i never bother using it . I hate it when people on sceds need to hear there own voice and check in from caravan parks to pass a message on to Mum when theres phone service. However good to have HF to talk to mates when your way out of uhf range.Wont be subsribing any more . As far as i know you wont be refused help for any group in an emergency.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 20:58

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 20:58
Hi Maurice,

Like you I still have my original Codan 8525, and I was Siera 113. Back in the early days, each four wheel drive club here in South Australia was allocated 50 positions, and I was no 13 and the Mitsubishi FourvWheel Drive was allocated numbers 100 to 150.


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Reply By: Member - Rob69 - Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 20:34

Friday, Jun 24, 2016 at 20:34
Thanks everyone, great, sensible information. Appreciate your comments. Really for me it was about listening to skeds, road reports and maybe pick up some other information along the way. Sounds as though possibly it may not be quite what I was hoping for these days.
AnswerID: 601804

Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:16

Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:16
VKS regularly run skeds, both in the morning and afternoon. There is a lot of information passed across from subscribers to the bases, and they are often more up to date than your motoring organisation.
Road and weather information is there for the asking at all times, and they are well known to emergency services if the need arises.


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Reply By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:08

Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:08
I have been a member of VKS for over 10 years, and will continue to maintain my membership.
I think that my 9323/9350 is one of the best mods that I have done to my 'cruiser. This is the second Landcruiser that this radio has been in, and probably won't be the last. I also carry a 6924 as a backup if the main unit doesn't work for some reason.

I have a number of Codans to choose from, but leave the 9323 for the car. I did put an 8528/9350 in the shed to listen to broadcast radio. Wanted to listen to a radio in the shed, and had a "spare" 8528 and antenna.

The Codan will pick up broadcast radio where the vehicle radio will not.

I have a selection older HF radios, eg EILCO 6104, Traeger SSB100, Perthcomm HF105, Codan 6924,7924, 7303, etc.
And the more modern units, 8525, 8528, X2, 9323.

AnswerID: 601850

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:15

Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:15
And if you don't understand a word of any of that, buy a sat. 'phone. :))))

OKA196 motorhome.
FollowupID: 871388

Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:17

Sunday, Jun 26, 2016 at 20:17
Cheeky.... :)))))
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Reply By: Coenen N & G (WA) - Saturday, Jul 02, 2016 at 21:27

Saturday, Jul 02, 2016 at 21:27
I work for a mining company and our geologists go bush for weeks at a time. They still prefer the HF radio because there are so many places wher they could not get satphone to work. They feel much more safe with their HF in service and rely on them for weather and road reports. VKS still works well out in the sticks.
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