Portable HF

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 11:52
ThreadID: 15053 Views:2842 Replies:11 FollowUps:11
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Trying to fit a UHF radio into the modern 4wd these days is getting harder especially if you don't want to drill holes in the placcy bits or roof linings etc. So when we go bush, ie remote, and have need for emergency comms and want to use an HF radio, it's even more difficult to find somewhere to mount it.

Is there, or can you, have a 'portable' HF unit? Can it be stowed in a case and pulled out IF needed? Is the aerial stowable? It doesn't matter if it takes an hour to set up as long as it can be set up and work properly. Of course theres Sat phones, but these have monthly costs and we'd have no need for it apart from the couple of weeks a year if you are going remote. And hiring a Sat phone isn't cheap (well, it is down here) if you don't use it. (Of course, it's cheap if you do but I'd like to think that I was well prepared enough that only one of those unforeseeable breakdowns would be a problem)

I'm not an HF enthusiast, wanting to listen in throughout the year. So having it set up anywhere in the 4by is not an option.

I really don't want to buy one if hire is cheap but I can see the 4x4 market catering more and more for the car-like qualities and less for the 4wd ability and usability, so I may have to.

Anyway I look forward to any solutions or suggestions, apart from 'get a real 4wd' ;~)

SK
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Reply By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 12:06

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 12:06
OK, the related links led me to Barretts and they have the 940HF which is portable. I'm too scared to want to know but what do these cost and do they have the same range as a normal HF radio?

Still looking forward to any other replies.

SK
AnswerID: 69857

Reply By: Peter - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 12:08

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 12:08
There are lots of possibilities

If you want new then Qmac make one to suit http://www.qmac.com/Portable.htm

Otherwise get any older hf 6 or 7 series set with right FREQ and put in case with anderson plug and have anderson socket wired in convenient spot in car. Buy an aerial such as http://www.bushcomm.com.au/REFD-P.htm and away you go.

desert access http://www.desertaccess.com.au/html/for_sale.html have a setup that is close to what you want.

Hope this helps
Peter
AnswerID: 69858

Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:28

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:28
Thanks Peter, I'll follow those links up. Good to see ones here in WA, haven't got to the other yet.

Have to check VKS site and see how easy HF is to use.

SK
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 12:37

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 12:37
Cheaper and easier to hire a Sat Phone.
Or buy a second hand unit and use your GSM SIM card in it for emergency use.
No additional monyhly cost, you only pay a higher rate per minute when you use it and if it's an emergency whats the cost matter.

HF requires a degree of skill to master and if you are not properly trained and practiced with it, It may well be useless to you.

Sat Phone Dial the number and your there, your wife and kids can use a sat phone, not so with a HF.
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Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:23

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:23
Thanks John. I don't know much about HF so as suggested down the page a bit I'll go check out VKS and see how hard it is to learn/master.

A good point about wife and kids.

I'll also have to look into the swapping of my SIM card. We are CDMA only out here so don't know if that makes a diff? Plus I wouldn't know where to look for my SIM card except it will be somewhere in my phone. ;~))

SK

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Reply By: MrBitchi - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 13:03

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 13:03
I second the motion for a Sat Phone. Much more convenient and anyone can use it. Stow it under your seat when not in use. No antenna instalation to worry about and you can hire them for short periods, no problems.
John
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Follow Up By: toadskin - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 16:57

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 16:57
Sat phones are great except when there is total cloud cover....in the Territory during the wet season we have gone days without decent Sat phone coverage however the HF always seems to work.
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Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:32

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:32
I had heard of this happening but wasn't sure if it was true. Food for thought.

SK
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 23:04

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 23:04
toadskin thats interesting.
I have had two Sat phones, the first was a Motorola 9500 and It worked fine with real heavy cloud cover/fog/mist in the high country areas, it would not work inside my house though.

My new phone a Motorola 9505 will get a signal and I have made phone calls from inside my house with it consistently with no problem.

I wonder if newer generation technology has increased the performance.
I have no other explanation.

Also what model / system sat phone are you running as the Globstar system has been notorious for poor performance.
A guy who owned a Sat phone hire company posted on here several months ago about this and said that he would no longer hire any other phones except those on the Iridium system, using the 9505 now as the newest models in his hire fleet.

Willem who posts on here real regualar basis had a HF for many years and had some issues with reliability of signal when it really counted and he now carrys and uses a Sat phone as well as his HF.
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Reply By: dingdong - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 17:14

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 17:14
Hi ,
Whats wrong with a Codan 6924 with VKS 737 crystals fitted . Commonally called a
lunchbox set I have 2 of these sets & have travelled quite extensivly throughout Australia.They have been great just string a piece of covered elctical wire about 40 ft long across acouple of trees or the ground & away you go .They are available
second hand from Outback Communications 63 Sandpiper Loop Yangebup .W.A
6164 or ring on (08) 94173507 .The guys name is John N
ethercott .His price recently was $600 ready to go .
AnswerID: 69913

Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:39

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:39
Thanks dingdong, (your surnames not Bell is it?) another lead to a WA business. Cheers.

I read all your posts regarding Rudall River NP and would be really interested in a more detailed report on the park. If you feel inclined could you post a report here or perhaps a personal email to me. Heres my email addy tayls@wn.com.au That'd be great if you can.

SK
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Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:45

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:45
DOH!! Forgot to mention we are heading up there in early October.
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Reply By: N.T. Home - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 18:30

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 18:30
SK,

I recently purchased an old Traeger HF Radio and Whip ($200.00) from a mate here in Alice. Took it down to the local electronic store, and had 5 channels installed ( VKS(3), RFDS and BBC Radio) and got them to give it the once over, for a total of $300.00. Now, this isn't one of those remote-head, digital display, match-box sized numbers, in fact this could be similar to the one they had on the Ark!! But, I have been a tour guide for a few years now in Central OZ and have been in a few places where my old radio would work and the newer fandangled ones will not. My whip is attached to my bull bar, and I just pull the radio out from a box, attach battery and whip, Hey Presto. If you want to know more about HF radios go to the VKS - 737 Network Homepage, these guys really know their stuff and love to help.

Say No to the bloody mobile phone, HF Radio in much more in keeping with the outback.

Cheers Timbo.
AnswerID: 69927

Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:41

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 19:41
Thanks for the lead to VKS, NT Home.

SK
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Reply By: Banjo - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 21:27

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 21:27
Skip.......plenty of radios fit the "basic and easy to use bill". As one of the team said, VKS737 have a few pages that provide info on that. I had an old Tracker Scout (pictured on the bonnet at VKS737 - Airwaves page - then the Radio Systems - Mobiles page / link is in the text section). They are very sturdy and if you only want to 'talk' to people (no selcall / radphone/ fax/ email etc) then they are a winner. Other brands do just as well - this group are in fact often superior for voice compared to the new jobs (not always, but quite often) - they should be teamed with a good antenna of course (which is the weakpoint in the modern radios - they try to have one antenna to suit 400 odd frequencies). As well as the fixed antenna on the bull bar, you can string the aforementioned wire up in a tree - now we are talking ! (and a long way too, usually).....most of the early radios do in fact have a terminal at the back for the very purpose of stringing up a temporary straight wite antenna. The VKS site has an article re choosing wire of a certain length to enhance the effect (varies with the frequency in use).....link on the same Airwaves page. If you look to get one of these earlier generation units, just ensure you know the frequencies it has (they are fixed via installed crystals) and what the cost will be to upgrade it for the frequencies you may need. The obvious question ? Why doesn't everyone still us them ? If you want to make radphone calls, do selcalling and beacons test etc, you need more technology...as opposed to add-ons, better to upgrade and wear the (sometime) relative loss in performance. BOL.
AnswerID: 69972

Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 23:45

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 23:45
Banjo, thanks for that. It's good to know the old stuff is still 'up there' with the latest as far as the basics go. I've still got to learn how to use HF.

SK
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Reply By: Midge - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 21:54

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 21:54
We have got both HF and Sat Phone, we find the Sat Phone more reliable and easier to use compared to the HF. Sat phone is a Westinghouse 3000, with Optus and no contract we get it turned on and off when we need to, so we only have the monthly bill for the couple of months when we are on the road. I have heard you can buy the same Sat phone for around $500 now, but it is not prtable so restricted to one car. It has only ever failed once, we were up north parked under a Boab tree all we had to do was move the car and it worked no static or interuptions.
AnswerID: 69979

Follow Up By: member-skippyking - Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 23:37

Tuesday, Jul 27, 2004 at 23:37
G'day Midge. When you reconnect do you have to pay a connection fee? I was just visiting the Globalstar site and there is a connection fee of $200 listed! The monthly is only $35 with higher call charges. That I'd be happy with but a $200 connection fee would be most unsavoury. :0

SK
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FollowupID: 330206

Follow Up By: Midge - Friday, Jul 30, 2004 at 09:22

Friday, Jul 30, 2004 at 09:22
No reconnection fee, but we are on a $50 per month rate and own the phone outright, but we only have it connected 2 or 3 months of the year
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FollowupID: 330571

Reply By: Andy Revill - Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004 at 13:09

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004 at 13:09
Hi,

you can make any radio portable - just install it in a sturdy case like those used for cameras and have connections for power and an antenna. Last year we hired one and used a Bushcomm wire antenna which was fine. This year we have gone the whole hog and bought a new Barrett. I've used Sat phones with work and had good and bad experiences but the main selling point of using HF over a sat phone for me is in an emergency you may need to be talking to more than one person (eg the rescue co-ordinator such as VKS737 plus RFDS plus anyone close by coming to help) and it's a lot easier and more reassuring if this can be done directly rather than being relayed by one person.

Good luck in your deliberations

Andy
AnswerID: 70044

Reply By: Andy Revill - Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004 at 13:12

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004 at 13:12
PS I should have said I would never suggest my wife and kids are unable to use a radio :-)
It's really not that hard and by following some simple rules and understanding a few basics you can make contact with anyone anywhere
AnswerID: 70046

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004 at 14:21

Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004 at 14:21
Push the button and say "HELP!"
Even a toddler can be told how to do that.
Just show the wife and kids where the numbers are on the GPS and get them to read them out while holding the button down if you are ever in trouble. It's not real hard guys.

Dial a nuber and hit send, ok not real hard but more steps to it. Even my garmin GPS has lost coverage once, it has an external arial and I couldn't even get 1 sat on it. (it was very think cloud cover). I can only imagine that the sat phone would have the same problems if not worse as it has to send as well as receive.

Both good options, I guess HF is the way for me as I like playing with radios anyway, and listening into what other people are up to etc is always good fun.
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