HF RADIO .. ARE THEY WORTH THE HASSLE

Submitted: Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:22
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I am new to teh 4wd scene, and i wondered if it worth getting a hf, it seems i read a lot bad comments on them, i am sure they have their place, but are they hard to operate?
our first trip was from Mukinbudin - Sandstone and i don't think we had cdma coverage anyware until half between Bullfinch and Muka, i mean they werent many people out there.

ah well i'll read with interest.....
ps dont forget to stop at the bullfinch pub for tea on a sunday if your in the area, great value, and Wendy there is a real character!!!!

Marty :)
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Reply By: Member - 'Lucy' - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:42

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:42
Muka

Just as well I was born in SX and understand your dialect. LOL

You have to remember mate that nobody 'east' of the WA/SA border would have a clue how to pronounce Mukinbudin, let alone guess where it is.

Anyway I am looking at HF myself at the moment and currently lean towards that they are ok and of real use.

Regards

Ken Robinson

AnswerID: 105107

Follow Up By: H2O - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 12:10

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 12:10
We have about 20 Coden units in our work vehicles and IMO they are crap! We have sat phones in some of the vehicles which is the way to go. The common problems with the the HFs not working properly (although we have just had a HF specialist come out and service them) are:
1. Low battery beeping from the Coden Units
2. Faulty Areials - we had to replace 5 fibreglass whips and 3 bases ($1100ea) which can only be tested with special gear
3. faulty handpieces etc
4. Cellcall often doesn't go through and have to wait hours
5. what if you have a roll-over? - we had one and aerial not in good condition

We have a $10k phone router where you can call the base and place a call through the landline at the base. Very ordinary!

IMO the best way to go is a Sat/CDMA phone handset with car kit. Cheaper to buy and I know there is monthy costs but HF you still have to pay per year (I think). There for if you have a roll-over you can pull the phone from the cradle and use it.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 15:50

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 15:50
H2O, after spending years with Codan (and other) units I can assure you there is nothing wrong with em. Most "faults" are caused through misuse , ignorance or wrong expectations. Geologists snapping whips on trees and drownding em in creeks don't help. Nor do road personnel twisting the heck outta mic cords and pushing the substrate with uncut fingernails etc.
Yes the phone interconnects are ordinary compared to sat phones, but they've been around doing their job for a lot longer.
I can assure you that any satphone treated in such ways is also "crap".
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 16:17

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 16:17
I have wrked for 2 companys one used barrets one codans and sat phones. The barrets worked faultlessly but the codans hardly worked at all. as for low battery beeping try changing your stuffed battery. And if you roll and stuff your ariel or in any other way you just get out your emergeny ariel (suitable lenrth of electrical wire) you were carryting a spare right? In my experience nothing compares to a multi tap ariel when the bush gets dense - down it comes
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Reply By: Steve - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:43

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:43
Not hard to use and a must if you are going deep Outback...the real out of way places..if my wife can use it ...etc...and she would not go out there without one !!!..then join VKS 737..and you will love every minute of your trip...at least each evening doing the sked !!
Steve..Romeo 433
AnswerID: 105108

Follow Up By: Muka - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:53

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:53
What the hell is a Sked??
does it involve face paint and camp fires???? lol (secret stuff)

cheers for the feedback.

dont forget to visit Muka for the wild flower season
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Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 16:11

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 16:11
sked is impropper spelling for sched as in scheduled all in time which is usual for field staff to have pre arranged sked times in which they give theirlocation or they instigate a search as according to emergency protocol for the company
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Reply By: Martyn (WA) - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:52

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:52
Muka,
I've got one, never had to use it in anger as yet but it's comforting to know you've got when out in the wilds. Sat phones have certainly found their niche, one advantage with an HF is when you call for help anyone with an HF can hear you, with a sat phone the audience is a tad selective and could be many miles away.
I've had some good chats on the HF, met some interesting people with good tales to tell. I didn't go for the auto tune I stayed with a multi tap, to me economically makes sense, plus the reception is better. My views as usual.
Keep the shiny side up

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Reply By: Steve - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:57

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 16:57
Have a look at this site : www.vks737.on.net this should help you
steve
AnswerID: 105112

Reply By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 18:53

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 18:53
We use Sat phone - easy as to use and doesn't take up any room in the vehicle, unlike the HF (and not so noisy - I speak from experience of all those people camped in caravan parks on their 'skeds'!!!) Just laughing. You can get great bargins - and if you go to out of the way places can get even greater Govt. subsidy.
Anyone can apply.
AnswerID: 105134

Reply By: Willem - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 18:58

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 18:58
What a stupid post!

Feel free to ask for advice but don't come with comments like 'it seems i read a lot bad comments on them'

HF is a communications tool just like UHF, only better with a longer range. Works on the same principle. You speak into the microphone to transport your voice across the airwaves to make contact with someone at the other end on a similar device.

Hope you are enlightened now.
AnswerID: 105137

Follow Up By: The Bog Eye Lizard. - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 01:45

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 01:45
Yeah dont drink and post. What a t@@ser.
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Follow Up By: Muka - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 09:25

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 09:25
Are you for real??... stupid post???
what is a forum, if its not a place to ask advice, i have nothing bad to say about anyone here, but was concerened that you think i am wasting peoples time asking for advice, if you had read the post from the start you would see i am new to this sport, and as a newbie, there is a lot of information that gets read, including details fo campers, tyres etc, i have read a lot of posts on hf radio, and the majority seem to be from people (or the ones that stick in the mind of an untrained ammateur) who have issues.

I was mearly trying to get some start up advice..... to be labeled a tosser for doing so is a bit wierd....

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Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 10:47

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 10:47
Hahahahahaha...Tosser indeed...you must be from Blighty to use that term

Be specific if you want to ask a question. If you want to make a statement such as you have made then follow it up with some facts. This statement 'it seems i read a lot bad comments on them' means nothing. Explain yourself and I am sure other good natured, non drinlkers,lol, will reply with the answers you want.
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Follow Up By: Muka - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:10

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:10
Well Willem,
As I am now one of the forum wise ones, i will be sure to ask direct questions, BUT i still think my post was a fair one, and judging by the amount positive responses I have got, other people thought so too!

It has been a learning curve for me both on and now off road too!

Thanks for your guidance though, i now feel fully equiped to add new specific posts (lol)

Marty :)
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Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:27

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:27
Hi Marty

I wont apologise because I do this on purpose sometimes. Still need to call a spade a spade though...lol

The people giving you the positive responses are the nice people of this forum :o)

I may be a bit scratchy on the surface but underneath I should be OK.

Don't let me scare you off. Enjoy your new found hobby. It is a great pasttime. Going to be in the area you mention in your post towards the beginning of May.

Get a HF if you are going in to really remote places. It is good for overall communications. If you want to make a direct contact with a specific person on phone number then the Satphone is the way to go. I have both.

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Reply By: paulpp - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 19:20

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 19:20
Greetings Marty

I am going down the HF path. Unit of choice is a Codan NGT voice. All up some change out of $4500.00 with a Codan auto tune antenna and rear mounting bracket fully installed and configured.

Join the VKS737 network or similar and RADTEL if you wish to make phone calls.

Positives - Instead of Sat Phone

Cheaper annual running costs
Cheaper phone calls ( if you want that)
Many other members of the network to converse with and give/gain assistance from/to.
Access to the RFDS
Simple to use with a pre programmed interface. Similar to a mobile phone.
Excellent (Codan) noise reduction system ( important on a HF)
Quality good performing auto tune antenna
Small footprint user interface.
Good retained value
Reliable with excellent reputation

Not so Positive

Initial purchase price (Codan NGT Voice)
Some vehicle computers can be affected by HF transmissions and/or create increased interference ( particularly later model Land Rovers). Unit can only be used with engine off and/or vehicle stationary. ( All brands)
Danfross fridge compressors can cause interference ( eg Waeco Fridges) All brands.
ADR’s require that the aerial be mounted to the rear of the vehicle ( no discussion on this one. My research indicates this. Opinions may vary.)
High aerial may hit/damage things if you forget/are careless.
Not as reliable in communications capability as a sat phone.

Reference sites
http://www.vks737.on.net/
http://www.flyingdoctor.net/hfradio.htm
http://internet.aca.gov.au/acainter
http://www.radtelnetwork.com.au/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/codan_outback_radio/ (Yahoo Group)
http://www.mobilecomms.com.au/ ( Commercial Site)
http://www.codan.com.au ( Codan Australia)

Google or Yahoo (Australia) HF radio Codan HF

Alternative are hire or purchase a second hand unit.

My thoughts

Regards

Paul P

P.S. BPS (Broadband Over Power Lines) is not an issue. There is many years left in HF radio in Australia.
AnswerID: 105147

Follow Up By: Member - Landie - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 09:02

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 09:02
Agree with your sentiments, however we usually get only minor intereference with the engine running in our defender.

The other point on the mounting of auto-tune antennas. My research (I've got a bee in my bonnet over this issue) indicates that ADR's play no part in the issue. This is because ADR's only govern the standard for new vehicles. The mounting of an antenna is classed as a modification and thus comes under State legislation via the roads and traffic authority and are not governed by ADR's

So it depends where you are. Victoria is perfectly clear in what is acceptable, and auto-tune antennas mounted on a bull bar is not acceptable in that State and vehicles that don't comply cannot be registered in Victoria.

NSW is different, the requirement is to have any fittings mounted as per the RTA guidelines, there is no clear guidance given on what diamenter fittings can be only that they do not protrude past the front of the bar.

They might be viewed as an obstruction by the police, however I have had mine inspected and there is no issue at this point of time. I have rasied this issue with the Minister responsible and I am still awaiting a reply.

My understanding is you only need meet the requirements of the State in which the vehicle is registered.

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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 19:22

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 19:22
Hey Greydemon, that was the point. "Who ya gonna call ?" :))
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Follow Up By: Steve - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 23:50

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 23:50
"ADR’s require that the aerial be mounted to the rear of the vehicle" ............. please let me know where you found this gem in the rule book ? I have been unable to find it in my copy ....
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Follow Up By: Member - Landie - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2005 at 09:01

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2005 at 09:01
Steve

You will not find it in the ADR's. So as not to hijack this particular post I have started a new thread on the issue.

There does appear to be a lot of opinion and mis-information on this particular topic.

Regards
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Reply By: Member - Jack - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 19:26

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 19:26
Muka:

I went through the same process of deciding whether to get HF or a Sat phone. I decided on a Sat phone, and got a good (almost new) Motorola off eBAy. My decision was based largely on the fact that I only wanted it for emergencies (and have had a couple ... nothing serious) and the fact that I am not a chatter on radio.

If I struck trouble in a remote area I would call the police and ask them if they can get a message over the HF network in case someone is in the area. I am advised by police in various locations that this happens almost as a matter of course.

With HF you can get much more up to date reports on roads/weather than I can get on Sat phone, despite the fact that I usually check with those "in the know" before heading off. Things do change quickly at times. Still, I have managed.

So, Sat phone suits me perfectly ... but I can appreciate those with HF who enjoy the more social side of radio transmissions as well as the emergency capabilities.

Hope this is of help.

Jack
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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AnswerID: 105151

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 21:51

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 21:51
G'day Jack,
Sorry mate; I hope you don't take this the wrong way......I am only having a go at you.....but you remind me a little bit of a bloke I came across up this really rough track once. He was driving a bloody peugot! I had a yarn with him about why he felt it was safe to be in a rough and remote place in such a ill-equipped vehicle. He replied by stating that there is always some kind 4 wheel driver around these sorts of places who would be able to help him if he gets bogged/stranded etc. I couldn't believe what I was hearing!!
In the same way, I feel it is a little presumptuous of you to use your sat phone to summon-up help from someone with a HF.
This is not the sort of opinion I would normally visit upon others and once again I do apologise if I offend you by putting this view forward.

Cheers

Roachie
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Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 22:23

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 22:23
Hi Roachie:

No offence taken ... but I am puzzled.

Are you suggesting (as I interpret) that HF owners should / would only come to the assistance of other HF owners??? I doubt that many of them would agree with that (from my experience).

If I see someone in strife, I help where I can .. and don't even ask them if they have a Sat phone : ) (or HF).

I am sure many outback travellers find some comfort in knowing that if they get into SERIOUS strife there is a likelihood that some form of help will come along .. be it in the Simpson, the Canning or other such difficult places.

Last year, when travelling the Cameron Corner route I came across a guy who had big problems that I could do little about, but I was able to call up on the Sat Phone, get his spares, and (via the HF network from the guy selling the bits) discovered someone heading out that way who offered to bring the spares with him. So, it works. Saved him days of being stranded. Not really presumptuous ... more a big wrap on many of those that use it.

No - I don't drive a Peugot, thank you.

Cheers
Jack
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 00:03

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 00:03
Roachie, we've all met them. Sometimes at the side of a creek, waiting to be towed across. Then they go home and boast of how they did it in 2wd, thus encouraging more to try. I rekkon station owners and possibly Ruth could tell a story or 5 :))
Those who complain loudest about 4wd terrorists are the first to ask when stuck at the dump in a soft spot , or with a flat battery.
Anyway if you're in trouble I dont care what you're driving or using for comms. If I can help I will. Hopefully others will do the same.
I'm a HF man, and have been long before the 737 network. But sat phones are great for some things.

"Hello, RACQ ? I'm stuck at Wiluna. You're stuck WHERE ? Its not on my computer sir, can you spell it ?"

Err...who ya gonna call ?
:)))

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Follow Up By: Tuco - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 09:25

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 09:25
Jack, Footlose, and Roachie - thought I'd add my 2 cents worth to the thread.

Satfone, and GSM or CDMA for that matter, can ONLY be heard by the single person who you dialed. Great for when a bit of medical advice or a breakdown problem. "Hello, RACQ ? I'm stuck at Wiluna. You're stuck WHERE ? Its not on my computer sir, can you spell it ?" LOL - had the same problem when we broke the F150 axle housing at Doomagee - west of Burketown. "Where is that?" 4 days later we were on the back of a semi.

However, HF or 27Mhz or UHF is heard by all - near and far - and the call for help could possibly be heard by someone over the next dune or around the corner. These other travellers will NEVER hear your fone call! With HF, regular monitoring of the 737 network will also give you an idea of who is in your area, in the same way that scanning the UHF channels will.

Other than our cell fones, we use a Barrett 550R, 27Mhz CB and also UHF CB. We usually have twice a day (AM and PM) skeds with friends who may be on the other side of Australia - only possible with HF. While not members of the 737 net - we still monitor the activity and location of others and in a genuine emergency - have no doubt that they would respond with assistance.

If the choice was mine - i'd go for HF before Satfone.

Tuco
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 10:14

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 10:14
I'm a member of the 737 network because its specifically set up to deal with 4wd travellers. They deal with the multitude of problems that we encounter every day. Their operators are usually well versed in the area that you're travelling in, and can offer advice from personal experience and from other travellers. They can patch me into medical advice, or summon assistance if necessary. They provide companionship and sometimes entertainment along the way. They know what 2 flat tyres in succession feels like, and when the clouds appear they can give me a forecast for my area. What they do they do quite well.
There are other good networks which do things differently.
A satphone will enable person to person comms very effectively. No vagaries of the ionisphere to worry about. But I have to know who to call, and they have to be on the ball of I'm in strife. If I just feel the need for a human voice then its an expensive habit to say g'day.
The two methods of communication are both competing with each other and really complimenting each other. Carrying both would be the way to go.

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Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:14

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:14
I have the best system of all

CDMA, UHF, Satphone, HF and Member of VKS737

Should all of them fail for we\hatever reason then one can always light a fire (but dont burn youir tyres like Jack Absalom advised in one of his books LOL).
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Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 15:39

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 15:39
For Willem:

You have to watch that Jack Absolom ... whilst visiting his Art Gallery in Broken Hill a while back, he "tipped" me off that I should stop by the Moomba Gas Fields, get fuel and free ice. I did so ... drove in (no security on the gate), drove around for a look, got my fuel, enquired about the ice and the guy at the servo told me to go and grab some .. just as the security guys descended on me and escorted me off the base. I think they were upset that I had come through, and the security point was unattended (which I kept reminding them). As we got to the gate I asked them why I did not have to pay for my fuel .. which upset them more .. so they had to escort me back, pay for the fuel. I said I'd get some ice and they gave me the short way back to the gate.

So I have decided never to burn my tyres after that "Absolom" episode.

Cheers
Jack
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

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Follow Up By: greydemon - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 17:05

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 17:05
"Hello, RACQ ? I'm stuck at Wiluna. You're stuck WHERE ? Its not on my computer sir, can you spell it ?"

Hey Footloose, I don't think that you should have a go at the RACQ for not knowing where Wiluna might be - surely YOU should have known where you were and rung the RACWA !

8-)
Greydemon
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Reply By: brumac - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 19:43

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 19:43
we are leaving for the kimberly in 3 weeks,part of our preps was the purchace of a second hand 8525B with auto tune antenea for $1300.It has 99 channels programed including VKS 737 and RFDS. we have been practicing our radio proceedure over the last few months. Its great fun talking to VKS at their sked times. We can't wait to get on the road to be a real part of it all. To use the radio is easy. We will be teaching our 6 year old son once we begin our trip.Its a great comfort blanket when traveling with the kids.
We recently on the news a Telstra outback vehichle with HF areal on the 4Wd. Quite irronic considering Telstra have such a big sell for Sat Phones,
Thanks Bruce and Linda
AnswerID: 105157

Reply By: dirtdodger - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 20:19

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 20:19
The modern Codan and Barrett HF radios are very easy to use..........almost idiot proof.
I had a Barrett 950 for 3 years until a financial problem forced its sale. Yes. I will be buying another HF.
I subscribed to VKS-737, and to a company in QLD that have bases in Brisbane and Innisfail which can link into Telstras phone system.
When I was out bush, I would select the channel, punch in a code number, the base computer would respond, and I would dial the phone number, and be connected.
Too easy!.......and about $2.00 per minute from almost anywhere in OZ.
Selcal is worth having too. But, unfortunately is being indiscriminately over used by a minority.

There is definately a learning curve with HF......and a bit of etiquette required to avoid upsetting others.......It's like a big party line with everyone listening in.

If you can justify the expense, go for it. It's reassuring having that big antenna waving in the breeze, and snagging on every low tree and undercover carpark.
AnswerID: 105168

Reply By: Darrell Lewis - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 21:54

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 21:54
Check ebay.com.au under Codan there are always cheap secondhand units up for auction

Cheers
AnswerID: 105200

Reply By: Darrell Lewis - Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 21:56

Monday, Apr 04, 2005 at 21:56
Check ebay.com.au under Codan there are always cheap secondhand units up for auction go for the late type which incule the 9323 and the NGT the 8528 is also a good unit but a little harder to use then the later type

Cheers
AnswerID: 105201

Reply By: DukeAtty - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 07:48

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 07:48
hey... what about being able to get all you AFL games on ABC and Radio Australia...

Some important stuff to be said as well as all your bickering ......
AnswerID: 105230

Follow Up By: Muka - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:49

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 11:49
I'm Sold !!!

is the radio good reception??

Cheers

Marty
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Follow Up By: DukeAtty - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 13:52

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005 at 13:52
Hi Muka.... I have needed the HF four times now for AFL games... In the Simpson, Flinders and somewhere around the Border Track....The reception is good enough to listen to with a few beers but not good enough to put through the stereo with a subwoofer....
In the evening and mornings they have their Scheduled times where the bases sit down and listen to all the Hf users call in and say where they are around the country.....which to me is sorta like everybody trying to justify the 3 grand they spent on the units...but each to their own....
But in an emergency i would think you could make a transmission from anywhere and be heard so good insurance....
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Reply By: BushBugga (SA) - Saturday, Apr 30, 2005 at 10:18

Saturday, Apr 30, 2005 at 10:18
Wow what a thread.
For me it was cost and simplicity that has led me the the following choices.

1 UHF CB as it is small and very easy to use and good for general chitchat so it can be very handy.
2nd is a Sat phone/CDMA as this is the most economical chice for me considering that it is not used (except for testing) and is stored in dustproof padded emergency bag.
3rd is a GPS so that I will allways know exactly where I am.

I like this arrangement of gear because if the worst should happen and neither me or my passengers were able to get help then the first person to find us would be able to find and use them to get the help needed. Another plus is that very little space is needed for these items leaving more room for the hair dryer and kitchen sink :-) lol
AnswerID: 108908

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