Communication between vans

Submitted: Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 08:59
ThreadID: 19022 Views:2488 Replies:13 FollowUps:26
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We normally travel by ourselves, but next winter another couple in their own separate caravan will be travelling with my wife and I on a longish trip (on the bitumen) through western NSW, SA, NT and Queensland. As mobile coverage will often be unavailable we need to be able to keep in touch. What is the most cost efficient way of doing this? Advice will be appreciated
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Reply By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:09

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:09
Billv, that depends on how far apart you want to communicate. If you were 10-20 Kms and no further you would look to UHF radios with higher gain antennas on each vehicle. Dependent on where you were, you could find that repeaters could extend that range considerably. There is a list on this site of such repeaters. (under On The Road above)

For normal travelling a digital mobile is not good for distant parts of Australia and you would be better off with CDMA mobiles, which have a good coverage around all but the smallest settlements on more utilized routes. You do say 'on the bitumen' so I guess that should still stand. CDMA is a lot better supported by Telstra than the normal digital as the range is a lot better for that technology.
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Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:12

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:12
UHF.
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Reply By: Nick R - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:18

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:18
UHF radios would be the go. One with sel call would be brilliant so us people who live on a major tourist route don't have to listen in.

Sorry, a bit of an axe to grind here, some people babble on all day on them which makes it really annoying if you have them all over your farm and need them turned on all the time as a normal part of business. Some people go on about what they had for dinner last night, where will we eat tonight? ohhhh looook, isn't the coast line beautiful.......................

I'm sure none of those type of people are on EO, here we only have considerate users of radios.

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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:41

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:41
What! To babble on was the original intention of such a service...CB Radio...Citizen Band Radio, a band for all citizens to use to with no restrictions with what they babble on about. If you want to use a cheap service for business then you'll have to put up with the babbling or pay for your own frequencies.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:14

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:14
Hey Ray, it isn't you that continually gives a description of the western Great Ocean Road is it on the UHF? "Oh, what a pretty place........ can't see Billy yet following this way, ....oh yes there he is...... what are you having for dinner tonight?" "have you any baked beans left? " " Did you taste that walnut and date cheese at Cheesworld?" ".... hey look down that boat ramp..."

So much of the chatter is just inane, but agree with billv that the worst is the is the fould mouthed yobbos. We get some contractors about who seem to be the worst or rather their employees, but have found their job is at risk with a quick call to their employers.

It would be better to use a half wave antenna if all the travellers want to do is talk between cars. There is no need to send inane slop so far and wide.

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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:23

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:23
It is a babble-a-thon, but thats what CB radio is all about. Sadly the demise of 27meg has moved incessant compulsive babblers to UHF, but its a cross we all bear. I have been known to tell some people to take care with their language on the UHF but more often than not have received a barrage of expletives that even a nun couldnt understand.

cest la vie
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Follow Up By: Truckster (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:31

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:31
quite simple, people who babble, should get off the main channel, and onto another.
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:35

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:35
T-Man, I think we are talking about people who babble on their chosen "other" channel whch happens to co-incide with the channel used by the farmers/taxi's etc.
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Follow Up By: Member - Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 11:26

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 11:26
Nick,

Selcall will not stop others from listening in. Selcall allows selective calling (paging) of other units by way of a unique code.
When the Selcall button is pressed, only the receiver with the selected code will signal another (authorised) party is calling you.
You should have already arranged with other parties within your call group, what channel you will use.

When answered however, anybody within range can receive, or transmit on the same channel.
Bill


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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 13:21

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 13:21
From the ACA

CBRS Class Licensing

Citizen Band Radio Service
The Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS) is a two-way, short distance, communications service that can be used by any person in Australia, whether it is for recreational or domestic purposes, or in connection with work or business.

-------------------------------------------

So if I want to talk about what I had for dinner or how far up the track I am I'm quite within my rights as long as I'm not on the two emergency channels or the two telemetry channels and I have to share the channels with others who have their own needs.

If I want a private frequency then I have to pay for it.

Don't get me wrong I hate hearing the abuse, stupid noises and clowning around as much as anyone but that's life. To expect CB to be immune from these people is unrealistic.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 15:41

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 15:41
Ray, I know some also set up pump controls on UHF too but they shouldn't be encouraged as I know although legal upsets the whole district on that channel, I am not talking a telemetry channel either.

One of the worst users I hear from time to time is a fellow in an ultralight aircraft who likes to talk to the ground. I can't understand him so I wonder at his friends or family.

I always try to be very circumspect in the language I use and the information I give but have given some information to fellow travellers too. You then have to realise you are open to debate other channel users too, like others disagreeing as you pass information. The last week in November I had one fellow justifying his use of wrapping his silage in plastic bundles while describing methodologies to EO friends.

I guess I must have been annoying him, cos I wasn't using my normal channel...........
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:15

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:15
It'll never work without a spirit of co-operation John, too many with a gimme gimme gimme attitude, all take and no give.
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 21:07

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 21:07
I think those cheap 1/2 watt jobbies are a real bane thank goodness there only low powered whenever you drive into a town or go near a caravan park all you hear is kids playing with them and they can be unuseable in the city
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Follow Up By: motherhen - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 23:17

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 23:17
Hi Davoe - Back from your holiday? How was it? We'll be leaving tomorrow or the next day - still selling cattle. All packed up. Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Mark E - Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 16:56

Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 16:56
Nick,

As a farmer or business person using these frequencies, the best way to eliminate all the unwanted dribble is to use CTCSS. Fitted to all your radios, it will mean that you simply don't hear all the chatter. The channel you use will stay 'muted' until it hears one of your 'group' of radios, with the appropriate sub audible tones fitted.

I assume the reason you use CB's is because they're quite cheap and no need to licence them...CTCSS would be the next best thing to having your own 'private' frequencies as many companies use.

As mentioned in other threads, CB is just that....Citizen's Band and like it or not, there are a lot of people using it (some who lack basic etiquette!!). And if you choose to leave your set on in the house or shed, you are bound to be 'annoyed' by innane chatter.

Check out CTCSS with your local radio dealer.

Hope this helps,

Mark
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 18:28

Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 18:28
Mark and Ray,

for business it is important actually to have CB rather than just another pay channel. Even selcall is pretty poor as it would preclude the people we do business with even on a sporadic nature. Truckies and the like that need to be talked in down our road - many can't read maps or directions or weren't provided with them.

I used to use a time switch on the power supply to cut out an insomniac who used a dish from south east of Melbourne at 3am! Who says UHF is line of sight - that was over 200 kms? Antenna is lower now:-)
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 18:52

Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 18:52
I understand what you're saying John but it is a shared service and that means having to share it with the village idiot as well. Unfortunately there is no solution to the problem. I have a problem at home with the power authorities infastructure ripping up HF....most of the band is unusable with s9 hash, well it was a problem I'm over it now and only operate from the ute when out and about.
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Reply By: Billv - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:35

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 09:35
Thanks, JohnR, we are on CDMA. We didn't want to put those huge aerials on the bullbar is we coud avoid it. And thanks also to NickR. As ex-farmers we know the problem with on-air chatterers, but the problem is not always with travellers but too often with foul-mouthed yobbos.
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:06

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:06
HF are the huge ones, UHF are a lot smaller. Go look for a GME tx3400 unit with a 6dB antenna, that will give you better range on flat areas, if its more in hilly areas youll want to be talking then go for a 4.5dB antenna. Uniden and Icom also have great units UHF units.

take a look at this site and click on UHF. They also have packages too I think, like the radio antenna etc, and theyre the best prices around that I have seen.

Bonz
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:21

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:21
Agree with Bonz, but if the budget is the limit as it tends to be with me and the GME 3200 is a good unit too. The reccomendations on antennas are spot on but you may find a 3 to 6 dB combination there which is a good combination just by changing the little stick on the top of the coil.

Service is tops too with the site Bonz suggests. Can be next day delivery depending on time of day ordering, I have been truly impressed - across the continent!
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:25

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:25
budget - pshawwwww!!! hahahahaha you make me smile Mr R

havent seen a combination one, mite go look.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:38

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:38
Bonz, I think I got the 3/6 from the local Dick Smith but they never seem to have the same stock twice in there. I have a 6/9 which I have never had on the 9 because of undulations.

Have had to be harder on the budget in the last three years mate than for years.
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:04

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:04
I had a 6/9 from DSE but found the extension to be too whippy when mobile.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 20:42

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 20:42
I wish I had been able to get another 3/6 actually Ray. Prefer a glass one to the stainless ones I have had snap before with fatigue.
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Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 20:05

Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 20:05
My UHF Antenna is less than 30cm tall and work brilliantly.

And regarding the chatter, come on guys get a life, that's what radio has always been about! I scan all 40 channels with one UHF and the other stays on our group channel, we always choose a channel that is quiet and if other are on it we move. And Yes we probally dribblebleep. But get over it and if you don't like it go commercial.
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Reply By: Bitsumishin - Mike (WA) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:44

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 10:44
Its pretty well been said but if all you want to do is talk to the car behind on the blacktop, a couple of 0.5w handhelds should work fine. We lend these out to club visitors and as long as they are in the middle of the convoy, they get all the reception they need & as these things are only good for 3km max, no farmers are hurt in the production of dribble.
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Reply By: motherhen - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 12:36

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 12:36
If you only want to talk to each other on UHF, and you find your chosen channel if busy coz the local farmers are using it in that area, decide on another and switch.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 16:03

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 16:03
spot on mother, but remember too that just coz the channel is currently quiet doens't mean they aren't using it. If you use channels 31 through to 38 your conversation may unwittingly being played through the a local repeater, 60-70 kilometre radius and frequently a lot further.

Caravan travellers usually use channel 18 to communicate as much as truckies use channel 40.
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 16:24

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 16:24
I agree and I have done this but so many these days especially young ones who haven't been raised correctly have no respect for man, beast or property, others while being reasonable people just don't understand.
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Follow Up By: motherhen - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:20

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:20
Channel is an oft discussed topic on CaravannersForum. On a recent thread, most opted for 40 rather than 18. Someone had a smart set up where if they stayed on 40 and someone called them on 18 it switched and they displayed channels 40 & 18 on their van. We're now searching for the Instruction Book to see if we can do something like that - otherwise we will stay on 40 and put channel 40 on the back of the caravan. Hitting the road tomorrow or then next day. Motherhen
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Follow Up By: ozzyark - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 22:27

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 22:27
Hi Everyone,
Just a bit of Info on the Caravanning Channel, I was under the Impression they used CH18 but I was on the CMCA website yesterday and it says in the Communications page that they use CH 20 AM and UHF.
So Which one is it?
The joys of CB communication.
link text

See the Link above.(if it worked)
Cheers
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Reply By: D-Jack - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:08

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 17:08
Bill

The cheapest and most cost effective way to set up a car-based comms system is to get a couple of cheap 27 meg radios (maybe $100 or less plus antenna). They will suit you needs if only car-car close together. Otherwise you can get some cheap hand held uhf units, low power, as has already been mentioned. All these people talking about UHF car radios are talking probably $500 minimum each for a full setup. You did say cheapest, but is is not always the best.
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Reply By: Rick Blaine - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 18:47

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 18:47
I rekon the best solution is to build yourself a couple of spark transmitters, pumpout 2000 watts and learn morse....no one bothers you then....but you do tend to pick up some distress calls..."RMS Titanic to RMS Carpathia"
Cheers.. John Smith... just getting the ice
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Victoria) - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 19:46

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 19:46
waaaaaaaaaa Hoooooooooooo

But don't laugh morse code has been used during the present disaster.
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Reply By: adventure biker - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 18:57

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 18:57
Go the hand helds, less chance of annoying others!
I enjoy the entertainment of listening to abusive truckers talking to "Fred and Nora" on channel 40 up the highway! Bit friuty but good for a laugh. I use a handheld on the bike with a throat mike and ear bud....I find a clear 5kms range mostly!
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Reply By: locallaw - Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 22:44

Monday, Jan 03, 2005 at 22:44
Gidday,All you need for total secrecy and to get away from all the idiots is 2 jam tins and a long piece of string.
Problem fixed
Seeya Locallaw
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Reply By: Muddy 'doe (SA) - Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 18:56

Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 18:56
Just a thought.

Nokia are starting to market mobile phoes with a PTT (Push to talk) function that is like using handheld UHF. It is supposed to be a direct phone to phone communication that is not a regular phone call and is free. I think it is line of sight just like radios and does not involve towers and stuff.

Does anyone know the details on these? What freqs they use, what range they cover?

Might be an alternative and would keep the farmers happy if it is not using UHF CB freqs.

Cheers
Muddy
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 22:02

Friday, Jan 07, 2005 at 22:02
Hello Billv,

My choice, if in your position, would be to purchase an Electrophone(GME) TX3200 UHF (cheap, but good value), and fibreglass aerial fitted on a GME folding Gutter mount. The TX3200 is 5 watt output, same as the more expensive sets, but doesn't have all the (often unnecesary) bells & whistles.

This set-up would be easily installed, and keeps the aerial up high, and sends plenty of signal back to your fellow traveller. It doesn't take much of a caravan to block much of the signal to the rear, especially over 5-10 kms.

Prefer fibreglass aerial whips to stainless steel, as the s'steel break off when subjected to constant corrugations.
The cheap 0.5 & 1 watt handhelds might be a poor choice, as they can give inadequate performance when conditions are not ideal. Clarity is often not good, and need a quiet environment to be heard distinctly.

Think everyone assumes you will be travelling in convoy with your friends, if travelling apart then you would both need HF, or Satphones

Enoy the trip,

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

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Reply By: Billv - Saturday, Jan 08, 2005 at 10:31

Saturday, Jan 08, 2005 at 10:31
Thanks Bob Y and others for your comments. No, our friends will not be in convoy with us, just meeting for smoko usually and then in the evening when we camp overnight. On an average day (if there is any such thing when away) we'll probably be anything from 10/30 kms apart but most of the travelling will be in flat or flattish country. We don't anticipate that we will need to be in constant contact, far from it, but from the experience of others, it could be a convenience and a lot cheaper than using a CDMA mobile other than in Telstra's "my hour."
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