Is there such a beast?

Submitted: Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:10
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we have a need for an emergency only requirement for some sort of communication device that can be used in a dense forest situation. GPS would not work in the area hence a sat phone would be useless. I thought that HF may be a solution but the device needs to be portable. Are handhelds out there? Another option maybe an epirb.

Leroy
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Reply By: agsmky - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:30

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:30
Flares.....
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Follow Up By: Leroy - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:32

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:32
err yeh well will anyone see them......this would also be the prob.

Leroy
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:35

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:35
Give them a call on the hf radio first...look out for pretty flares.
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Follow Up By: agsmky - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:36

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:36
Stonewash flares would work better.......
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:38

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:38
oh yeah look here

Site Link
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Follow Up By: Leroy - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:44

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:44
what would something like that cost ray and can you hire them anywhere?

Leroy
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Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:50

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:50
I have no idea Leroy but no doubt they cost a pretty penny.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 14:09

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 14:09
I would be a mite cautious about using flares in a forest...!
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Follow Up By: agsmky - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 17:41

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 17:41
Orange smoke flares predominantly. Fairly safe, even though they still produce some heat. One lost bushwalker was found by setting off the flare, and someone mistook it for smoke/fire. In any case, authorities were notified and he was subsequently rescued.

I agree they can be dangerous if not handled correctly......

Reminds me of some training ideas i have seen......it seems that yelling "fire" gains more of a response than "help".

Andrew
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Reply By: Member - Paul P (Bris) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:44

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:44
Leroy

Portable "manpack" HF systems can be purchased. See Codan and Barret sites.

Regards

Paul
AnswerID: 174044

Reply By: agsmky - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:57

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 19:57
To answer your question:

<<we have a need for an emergency only requirement for some sort of
<<communication device that can be used in a dense forest situation.

Are you looking to communicate(talk) with/to someone?

<<GPS would not work in the area hence a sat phone would be useless.

Yep. However, depending on the situation, it may be be possible to ascend the area and reach a suitable highpoint. (Lost situation comes to mind). Unless you are undertaking the trip solo, you should be able to find a spot to communicate with authorities etc.

<<I thought that HF may be a solution but the device needs to be portable. Are handhelds out there?

Not that i know of, however there are portable HF sets available (if you call a half-size backpack portable)

<<Another option maybe an epirb.

Epirbs still relies on Satellite detection predominately. Epirbs are not a voice communications device (well, not just yet ;-)) Since you are considering this avenue, it may be a viable option.

We carry flares when going into remote areas to rescue people for various reasons. Obviously, the use of flares is in a controlled manner ie. high probability of sighting of flare etc

HTHs

andrew
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:11

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:11
I don't see any reason what so ever why a sat' phone would not work in a forest, unlike a GPS that needs to use multiple Satallites to function a phone only needs one ,GPS use a different Frequency than of a phone some signals go through forest , some don't, but forget CDMA thats a no win situation if your too far in the bush
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Follow Up By: Member - Paul P (Bris) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:25

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:25
G'day

What can happen is this. In a forest are trees with leaves. Moisture collects on the leaves as drops of water. These drops tend to absorb the radio signal too and from the satellite (the drops are around the same size as the radio wave, frequency).

The sate phone will probably work but if its wet it may not.

Regards

Paul
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:33

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:33
Paul P
Well if there is that much moisture one aint gonna die of thirst , 2nd who said the forest was that moist and why do sat phones work in torrential downpour , ...Remember Cyclone Larry and the people using sat phones to call out ????? case closed,,,, next please
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Follow Up By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 07:26

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 07:26
"case closed,,,, next please"

Judge Duggy!!!!!!

LOL..... LOL

Ahem... sorry.....
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Reply By: Member - John R (NSW) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:24

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:24
Hmmm. Aren't the satellites used for Nav, and those for phones completely different? Like Optus and Telstra? Like CDMA and GSM?

That's what I was taught in GPS ground school.

Therefore, just because your GPS might not work doesn't mean your satphone won't.
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:30

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:30
you are 200% correct
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Reply By: Derek from Affordable Batteries & Radiators - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:32

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:32
Flares sound good !

Then just wait for the Fire service to arrive. ;-)

My Satphone works fine in the bush. I use it all the time.

Regards Derek.
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Reply By: Member - Jay Gee (WA) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:34

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:34
I wouldn't be so quick to write off SATPHONES in dense forest areas. We use them at work in dense forest in the Karri country around Pemberton in SW WA and they work well. Yes - GPS coverage will fail in dense forest - but they will fail first.

When we first got the Vodafone Satphones at work about 6 years ago I went for a drive to find the worste case scenario and find the limitations of them. I think I did eventually find a fail point but it was extremely hard. On the basis of our tests we removed our HF radphones

The trick is to make sure you get a system with a constellation of satelites such as the Vodaphone or Irridium systems

Jeff
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Reply By: Robin - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:59

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 20:59
Leroy , not really enough situation info to work out which is best , I've seen satphones fail in heavy fog , but also some have available gain antenna's which help a lot

But if its a real emergency your planning for and doing it on the cheap (not sure those two go together) then there are available 27mhz ssb handhelds 2nd hand in $400 bracket if look around. These are usually capable of skip communications to somewhere at some part of the day.
Although its almost as easy to carry a standard small version like a PC122 which are cheap as no-one wants them any more and dry cell batt. pack and wire type 1/2 dipole antenna that can be strung up to trees (make the problem work for you).

Think when I did this whole lot in purpose bag came in under 4kg.

Robin Miller
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Follow Up By: Member - Jay Gee (WA) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 22:32

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 22:32
Robin - I'm interest in your statement: "then there are available 27mhz ssb handhelds 2nd hand in $400 bracket if look around."

WHERE??????

I've been searching for months just for that without success.

Jeff
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Follow Up By: Robin - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 08:40

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 08:40
Jeff I am away from my resources at moment but name of
27 ssb handheld was something like Myotoria - but perhaps other
amateurs may recall better. Sure I have a road test some
where though.

Local amateur radio supplier - may be able to help.

There was something I didn't like about them ,maybe it was lack
of AM mode , anyway I couldn't it either then.

Was pretty heavily into HF radio and part of design team that
did original HF Hawk/Kestral design here in Victoria.

At same time were two brillant little amateur ssb transievers called
IC202 & IC502 , (144mhz & 52Mhz) which were square about size of
standard UHF but they were original cheap manpacks and had internal
batteries and external whips.

This is why I mentioned considering converting a PC122 into cheap
manpack like these others. I did this and it came up really
well , I modified unit a little so that it had RF clipping before
the filter and hence put out effectivily several times the rated power.

Used these for huge local distances in Simpson and high country where
the radio signal would fold over big dunes/hills and make a total
mockery of UHF systems.

Robin Miller
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 14:08

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 14:08
>I've been searching for months just for that without success.

Want to buy one from me for $350?

Dragon SS201 - still in box, used for about 30 minutes around 3 years ago to do some RF testing on a thing I was doing for DOD.

www.cbradio.nl/dragon/dragon_ss201.htm

Gives a bit of info - Google will give more.

I might even have a charger somewhere but it uses AA NiMh cells anyway. I think I have two of them if anyone else is interested.

Mike Harding

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Reply By: G&R - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 21:12

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 21:12
G'day Leroy. An EPIRB would be the go provided you can get a clear view of the sky. A SARBE www.sarbe.com/sarbe5.htm might also be worth considering. A SARBE will allow you to have comms with the rescuing aircraft, and can really help out when you are trying to be found.

Bearing in mind an EPIRB (or SARBE) may still take awhile to get a responce, depending on time of day, and where you are located.

Cheers

Greg
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Follow Up By: Leroy - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 21:29

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 21:29
The Sabre looks good. Will investigate further.

Leroy
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Reply By: Leroy - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 21:37

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 21:37
Just to elaborate a little further, I'm researching this for work as we had a bloke have an accident in a vehicle (quad bike) and had to walk back out and there is no mobile reception and it's a fairly remote bit of the vic high county. So I'm looking at all options but they have to be reliable in an emergency. I'd have a good budget to play with (with reason).
What I will have to do is go for a drive to this area with my GPS and I have an Iridian Sat phone (Motorol 9500) also and just see if they work. Was hoping to tee up maybe a portable hf to take as well. I haven't any experince with these so I don't know how difficult theyare to use, so hmmmm there you go.

Leroy
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Monday, May 22, 2006 at 23:14

Monday, May 22, 2006 at 23:14
I've posted a fair few times on comms in the High Country and how unprepared most people who I strike in difficulty at work are. If you do a search you will find quite a few threads on it.

I use a Motorola 9500 on the Iridium network reliably in the north east. I also use HF. Both work well. The key with the HF is that they also know how to use it.

Where was your worker when he came unglued? And where did he walk to?

Dave
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 02:23

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 02:23
Leroy I'm with Dave here, I have both a HF and a Motorola 9505 (Iridium System) and have had no issues with the sat phone at any stage anywhere in the high country I have been in all weather conditions.

It would appear prudent to stay away from the Globalstar network as advised above they use fewer Satellites and I personally have experienced users on a first hand basis have difficulty with these phones obtaining a signal in the high country and reports on this forum advised that the same problem occurs in the outback.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 02:24

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 02:24
I should have added that your company would also qualify for the Sat Subsidy if it purchased Sat phones for work situations.
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:04

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:04
Hmmm. Remember reading something in a Satphone forum recently. Is it Globalstar or Optus lost a satellite during repositioning recently wiping out half their satellite phone comms in Aus?

Might have been in a HF forum now I think about it. The SES or someone in Cyclone Larry reverted back to their HF comms cos Satellite phones all gave up due to the loss.

Someone on here will know the answer. Anyone???

Dave
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Follow Up By: Leroy - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:04

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:04
Hi Dave,

He came off in the Rubicon State Foreset. Not sure where he waled out to but prob to one of our sites there.

Leroy
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:15

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:15
Ah. I know the area having been born in Eildon and the family still has a farm between Buxton & Marysville.

Satphone there wouldn't be any different to anywhere else I travel in the tall timber of the northeast. HF would work too.

I've camped there a bit downstream from the power station in the past few years.

Carefull up there - it's the only place in Victoria where if you want help you still get the volunteer ambos....

Dave
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Follow Up By: Leroy - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 11:14

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 11:14
"Carefull up there - it's the only place in Victoria where if you want help you still get the volunteer ambos.... "

so that's a bad thing I gather?

Leroy
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Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 22:27

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 22:27
Hi Leroy,

Not bad perse, but in Victoria certainly less than optimal.

In Victoria there are now three levels of professional paramedic qualification and the majority of staff in rural Victoria are either Advanced Life Support (ALS) or Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance (MICA) Paramedics. Very few opted not to take up the ALS level of training and new students qualify ALS when first qualified so within a few years ALS & MICA will make up nearly the entire staff of RAV.

Below the base level qualification there are retained volunteers - casual employees who drop everything they are doing and attend in general assisting a professional paramedic. There are very few locations left where the only response will be from a purely casual crew and they are predominantly remote north western communities too small to justify a full time professional response.

Alexandra District Ambulance Service is an anomaly left behind from Marie Tehan being unwilling to upset voters in her own electorate, fearing her inability to educate them on the benefits of a full time professional ambulance service.

As a result the communities of Eildon, Alexandra & Marysville (and areas in between) are serviced by a purely volunteer ambulance service, and all of the problems which ensue such as increased response times, reduced skill sets etc.

The unfortunate thing about that is that for others of the public who choose to travel through and holiday in this fantastic area when we have the need of an ambulance service we get an inferior service compared to that which our government would have provided us at home or anywhere else in the state.

A public scare campaign is currently being run to convince the communities that they will lose out by ADAS being "taken over" by the state rural service.

I was born in Eildon and I still have relatives in the area, and a family connection to property in the area. It's hard to believe in this day and age that an area like this is serviced by volunteers. But then I can't believe that in this day and age large provincial communities in WA & SA are still without professional paramedical care.

I'll inevitably open a can of worms here....

Dave
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Reply By: Member - ROTORD - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 07:57

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 07:57
Wet canopy is occasionaly blamed for poor EPIRB performance , but terrain sheilding is more likely the real cause .

The experts on the other end of the EPIRB are in the joint aviation/maritime rescue co-ordination centre in Canberra . You can discuss your requirements with them on 1800-815257 . They will probably point out the particular advantages of the 406 EPIRB with the coupled GPS . Satphone back up would be good , but remember that in the worst case scenario , a rescue aircraft can't home onto a phone .
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Follow Up By: agsmky - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 09:13

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 09:13
>>a rescue aircraft can't home onto a phone <<

However, a phone (and user) can home in on a rescue aircraft.........We had a missing tourist on the biggest (and one of the most rugged) island in the Whitsundays. The casualty had minimum phone coverage with no idea of his location. We were able to locate his exact area by sweeping the island with the rescue helicopter, with the casualty identifying when the noise could be heard the loudest and the direction from his location. We were then dropped into the remote area via the Police vessel and followed our GPS to the location identified, which happen to be about 100m from his actual location.

Again, we have used the call from a satphone from an injured bushwalker to locate his position is remote and rugged terrain. Triangulation of his position can be done using a phone, though whilst not using radio signal reception, is possible due to other information obtained and comparing this to known locations.

Whilst not normally recommended, a phone can be used as a tool for location identification. Though no signal whatsoever makes it a bit hard ;-)

BTW it would be better top use the RCC's general enquiries phone number to contact them instead of the 24hr emergency contact for aviation (land). The number is (02) 6230 6811.

andrew
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Reply By: Johnny boy - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 13:44

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 13:44
Buy a HOMING PIGEON .....NAH JUST KIDDIN!!!!
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Reply By: Leroy - Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:05

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 22:05
Thanks guys for your help. You have given me some leads to look into.

Regards,
Leroy
AnswerID: 174344

Follow Up By: Wisey (NSW) - Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 19:39

Saturday, May 27, 2006 at 19:39
Hi Leroy

Just catching up posts after a few days away fishing. Great reading as always.

As you said, sighting for rescuers will be very difficult due to canopy, 'maybe' a strobe light will help along with radio coms. While my suggestion may be behind or useless it is cheap and safe (nonflamable) and will pinpoint position, of course sighting is the key.

2cts wth (out of currency?)

Andy
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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Monday, May 29, 2006 at 18:39

Monday, May 29, 2006 at 18:39
Many years ago we were on a Bush Search and Rescue exercise and evaluating the use of Orange Smoke Flares in medium Eucalypt forest. The was a light breeze which made the smoke drift horizontally, staying within the canopy - the Helicopter never saw our smoke.

EPIRBs operate at 121 or 406 MHz - these frequencies aren't strongly absorbed by vegetation. Intial Satellite detection will take a while, but if there are commercial aircraft flying nearby they will pick it up earlier. A search aircraft will be able to track in directly to the EPIRB.

Satphones will have more dropouts in rainforests due to the large number of treetrunks - satellite signals (only a little higher in frequency 1616 - 1625.5 MHz than GPS 1575) just won't go through wood. But this won't be a problem if they send an SMS - the phone only needs access to the satellite for a few seconds to get an SMS through.

QMAC in WA make a 50 watt HF radio about the size of car UHF CB. They will need to run out a long HF wire antenna, which could be a problem if disabled.

Mike
AnswerID: 175449

Follow Up By: Leroy - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:57

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 11:57
thanks for the info Mike. I will try and get down to the area this week to see what the terrain is like for myself. From there I will be better able to make some sort of decision.

Leroy
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