HF/ham radio for remote travel?

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 20:59
ThreadID: 136508 Views:3654 Replies:8 FollowUps:1
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Good Evening.

I recently got my ham license after purchasing a Yaesu FT-817ND. I purchased the Yaesu for hobby ham but also to TX on outback Australian travel/emergency frequencies when required (Outback, remote and desert travel in regional Australia).

Frequency lists:

I've noticed my Yaesu won't let me TX on most of these bands I'm applying for membership in (eg. VKS-737). Have I purchased the wrong radio and accessories? :(

Thank You
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Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 21:26

Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 21:26
You have purchased the wrong radio for your intended purpose. You need a land mobile ACMA "type approved" HF radio such as a Codan or Barrett.
AnswerID: 618070

Reply By: Member - ACD 1 - Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 21:35

Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 21:35
Hi Ben

Radios that can be operated on the "Outback HF Frequencies" are strictly controlled by ACMA legislation. This is to ensure the continued integrity of the frequencies (transmission power, elect/radio interference, non user tuneable etc). These are generally described as mobile radios - you cannot operate a fixed "base station" type radio on the frequencies (unless you are a base station - and most of these are internet based these days).

VKS has a very specific list of the ACMA approved radios that can be registered for use on its frequencies. Unfortunately, Yours is not one of these. If in doubt, give VKS head office a call during business hours and have a chat with them directly - they are extremely helpful. I have included a link to the VKS list of approved radios for you.

List of ACMA approved Radios that can be operated on the VKS - 737 license.


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AnswerID: 618071

Reply By: RMD - Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 23:35

Thursday, Apr 05, 2018 at 23:35
As far as I know, any radio transmitter/receiver legally purchased in Australia will have the HF fequencies you desire to use, inhibited from use and only specific approved radios as mentioned above are allowed to have it programmed in.

The Codan tech west of Melbourne mentioned the frequency drift of non approved radios is detectable and they can find you if they wish.
He programmes Codans and others too.

I thought of using a Icom 706G for same, and it was too involved anyway. Just the setup to trigger beacons and log in to services is involved.
When using an approved radio the ID of the radio is automatically sent, ie, your ID, a Yeasu or Icom doesn't have that within itself anyway and the receivers can tell it isn't approved. That is the way I understand it.

AnswerID: 618074

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Friday, Apr 06, 2018 at 16:24

Friday, Apr 06, 2018 at 16:24
Hello Ben, Nothing wrong with your radio but you are trying to access frequencies that are outside the Ham Bands. So if you want to continue down that path you will need to buy another radio that is legal to operate on those bands. A lot of people sign up with VKS 737 and get equipment through them. And while that is expensive, I think they have pretty good resale arrangements.

As you've got your Amateur Licence there are other options you can use. The Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) offers the Australian Travellers Net to its members and I guess you are a member. That's a 365 day operation with 2 daily schedules firstly, on the 20 metre band (300hrs UTC) and then on the 21 metre band (500hrs UTC). Go into WIA website and check the details under:
For Members/Amateur Radio Nets/Travellers Net.

I have used the Travellers Net when outback travelling and probably for the same reasons that you want a radio. I found the Net useful, friendly and re-
assuring that I had some proper backup.

Good travelling, John
AnswerID: 618088

Reply By: Robin Miller - Friday, Apr 06, 2018 at 17:01

Friday, Apr 06, 2018 at 17:01
Its a bit tricky when you wish to cover a number of bands and don't want to carry multiple radios.
I use a Barret 950 which is legal for VKS-737 , it can also have, and be legally used as my amateur band HF radio. ( (I'm amateur- with licence for both services)

However your still not supposed to have the amateur channels that you can transmit on in the VKS-737 radio at the same time.

So legally you can have your approved VKS-737 radio, clear its memory and put in an amateur channel -assuming your have both licenses.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 618089

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Apr 06, 2018 at 17:53

Friday, Apr 06, 2018 at 17:53
Given the appropriate licences, my understanding is that HF land mobile does include a radio class specification with specific radios to be used, eg Codan, Barrett etc.

You can also use that same radio in Amateur bands provided it isn't set to freetune. There is no specification to the radios for HAM, in fact you can make you own.

You can't use an aneteur radio for Land mobile though.

I previously though the same as you Robin but checked and was told the above..

FollowupID: 889937

Reply By: Darian - Saturday, Apr 07, 2018 at 09:36

Saturday, Apr 07, 2018 at 09:36
Yep - as detailed above, its all about Land Mobile and the regulations (and, the ACMA are steadfast in their attention to compliance....the various user group organisations like VKS-737 are just as particular about compliance....continued authority to provide their members with a license is the thing). As for radios....people retire from remote travel all the time of course, so radios are always coming onto the used market....while new ones cost $3000 and up, you can save good $ on used (eBay, Traders etc.). Once identified, you can check suitability with any of the user groups if in doubt. As for auto tune versus tapped whip antenna setups.....autotune gets you the potential for assigning hundreds of frequencies (but who needs them) while tapped whip is restricted to the taps you have of course, BUT the clarity of the signals in and out is superior ! (I had an old Tracker Scout with a short, tapped whip initially and the signal quality was outstanding). That said, I bought a used Barret 950 with the 910 autotune 15 years ago for $1500...has been perfectly reliable ever since. Good luck with the project !
AnswerID: 618095

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Apr 07, 2018 at 13:06

Saturday, Apr 07, 2018 at 13:06
Ben, another issue with that radio is that it is really designed as a portable / QRP transceiver with just 5W output.

A mobile HF would typically be 100W. Which given the inefficient antennas on a car is about right. 5W would need a high gain antenna for reliable long range communication.
AnswerID: 618102

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Tuesday, Apr 10, 2018 at 08:48

Tuesday, Apr 10, 2018 at 08:48
Hi Ben, The 5 watt is a limitation but before you give up on it, go out and see if you can get onto Travellers Net with your current gear. That should include an antenna tuner and an antenna that you can tune to the appropriate bands. Make sure that you can get the antenna up at least 3 metres and preferably be on top of hill if possible. I would be pleased to hear how you go should you try. John
AnswerID: 618195

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