What comms gear is recommended

Submitted: Friday, Feb 07, 2003 at 16:13
ThreadID: 3263 Views:2186 Replies:7 FollowUps:6
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I am heading from Adelaide up to Alice and home via western QLD. Plan on staying on reasonable roads ie Stuart HWY, Plenty HWY etc.
What comms gear do people recommend? As well as CDMA, are the UHFs enough or should I rent a sat phone or HF or EPIRB just in case?
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Reply By: jamie - Friday, Feb 07, 2003 at 21:18

Friday, Feb 07, 2003 at 21:18
Hi Renee,

Depending on your experience a HF radio can be complex if you have never used one before. UHF is handy to communicate with others in range and also for overtaking trucks but not good for much else, although most rural properties are on UHF and you may be able to raise a station owner if you get into trouble. CDMA is good and bad but for the absolute piece of mind you will probably be better off renting a satphone.

Hope that is of help.


AnswerID: 12681

Reply By: Clarry - Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 10:16

Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 10:16
If you will be staying on the mainroads, help is always passing by in the tourist season. Lots of people out there. Personal backup is very important though, because it could rain and strand you on any dirt, you might conk out just around dark, or you might come across someone else in difficulty. If you are not inclined to join an HF radio network, then satphone rental would be ideal as Jamie says. Can't see the EPIRB outlay as necessary for your trip.
AnswerID: 12691

Reply By: Member - Nigel - Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 17:14

Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 17:14
A UHF and EPIRB are essential in my opinion. CDMA is much better than GSM, but still won't work in over 90% of australia's surface.

If you want quick convenient emergency contact then hire an Irridium satphone.

If you want a total communications solution for outback travel then HF is the way to go.

If it's a one off trip then cost will be more of a factor then if you travel regularly.
AnswerID: 12703

Reply By: rugs - Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 20:01

Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 20:01
I recently bought a well known hf radio and a hf multi-tap antenna Outbacker) with all Vks 737 frequencies. I had it all fitted by a reputable two-way radio installer recommended by the manufacturer. Both tested out as in good working condition (SWR 1.5:1).
When attempting to use it out bush I got ZERO on the thing. No revertive from any site on any channel.
Back in town the radio man said both the radio and antenna were working fine. Probably something to do with the atmosphere he said hopefully.

I would suggest that people think carefully about trusting their lives to the unpredictability of hf radio.

Ps does anyone want to buy anhf radio and antenna going very cheap
AnswerID: 12707

Follow Up By: Hz180 - Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 17:06

Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 17:06
I'm amazed that your radio man didn't test it on air for you. From time to time HF does suffer from atmospheric disturbances, but in 30 years of travelling in the bush with a HF set, I've never been out of comms for long. In fact I'd never go off the tar without my HF.
I often hear tales of how the HF wouldnt work, the sat phone wouldnt work, the gps wouldnt work, the fridge wouldnt work etc. Makes me wonder just who it is that wouldnt work :))
FollowupID: 7472

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 23:33

Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 23:33
So I guess no one explained that it wasn't a phone that you just dial someone on. Generally when you can't get a nearby base, you can get a further away base. That's why VKS737 has bases all over Australia. I rarely use the nearest base as I'm usually too close for HF. I generally use one of the bases that are between 800-2500 km away.
FollowupID: 7492

Follow Up By: Kiwiangler - Tuesday, Feb 18, 2003 at 21:45

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2003 at 21:45
Is yr HF rig still 'going very cheap'?

Please send me details on make / model / price etc as I am currently looking for HF radio



FollowupID: 7877

Reply By: Member - Willem- Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 23:08

Saturday, Feb 08, 2003 at 23:08
Funny thing all this security stuff. 20 years ago we travelled these roads and tracks without all this modern paraphenalia and got by. Why would you need all these security measures when just commonsense is necessary. Having to own all these mod-cons such as flash HF and UHF radios, EPIRB and Satphones is a con by a growing industry and the people who encourage it. Driving up the Stuart Highway from Adelaide there is an Emergency Solar phone ever so often on the side of the road. Mobile phones are only effective 25km either side of a town. I wonder what Burke and Wills would have made of this. But then again if they had had an HF in those days it would have been to their advantage. When travelling in the outback just make sure that your vehicle is in good working order, you carry sufficient supplies of water, food and fuel and, if you are unsure of the road which you intend to take, call in at your nearest Police Station and ask the question. Happy travels. Cheers, W
AnswerID: 12718

Reply By: rugs - Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 18:05

Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 18:05
To hz 180

Did your comment have some purpose? Or was it to just to vent your spleen on someone less experienced than yourself. You presumably were a novice at one time, or perhaps you came into the world the repository of all knowledge much as you think you are now!

Fortunately others contacted me with constructive advice.

AnswerID: 12821

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 23:37

Monday, Feb 10, 2003 at 23:37
I think his comments were fair considering that you were happy to "announce" that HF doesn't work.

Lots of people use HF everyday in all parts of Australia. It's best to learn how it works before venting your frustration by telling others how HF doesn't work.
FollowupID: 7493

Follow Up By: Hz180 - Wednesday, Feb 19, 2003 at 01:24

Wednesday, Feb 19, 2003 at 01:24
Rugs, Yes my comments did serve a purpose. The purpose was to point out that whilst HF radio isn't a telephone, any competant radio tech would of directed you to the Ionespheric Prediction service to ensure that you were aware of not only which frequencies to use but also any predicted solar flares. This information is freely availiable on the Internet.
Trumpeting your disappointment is as fair as my trumpeting my lack of disappointment.
You feel that you spent thousands and it didn't work. Fair enough. I've spent thousands of hours successfully using HF and it's worked every time.
Was I once a beginner ? You bet. In 1962. And I see and train beginners every week. I have yet to have one come back and yell it doesn't work.
If you look at my original post there are smileys at the end. Obviously THEY didn't work !
FollowupID: 7882

Reply By: rugs - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 18:25

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 18:25

I used every Vks 737 beacon in Australia from Charters Towers (800ks away) to Derby and Perth(3000ks away).
I attempted to ellicit a revertive at many different times of the day over two weeks and five different channels and got zilch. My radio always checked out as ok by a radio installer recommended by the manufacturer.
I never expected phone-like reception having read "Hf for Travellers", and spoke to other hf users, but something would have been good other than Radio Taiwan. I stand by my contention that I would not rely on hf radio for "getting through" in an emergency.

If you had spent several thousand dollars on on a computer or hi-fi system and got nothing out of it, you would be frustrated and not pleased to hear "experts" tell you it's your fault.
AnswerID: 12978

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 00:54

Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 00:54
I can see how that would be frustrating. I don't recall anyone saying it's your fault, in fact I beleive it was asked if the installer tested it correctly to ensure it was working.

When I purchased my Codan, the installer made various test calls to ensure that all was satisfactory before I left the workshop. I also did quite thorough testing myself before we set off to the bush as I wanted to be familiar with and have confidence in the radio.

I hope you can get to the bottom of what's causing your problems, but I can assure you that HF does work and serves many travellers well.
FollowupID: 7614

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