HF Radio Virgin

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 09:43
ThreadID: 5757 Views:2967 Replies:6 FollowUps:7
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Hi all,

I am in the process of researching HF radios and require some (nonpartial) advice. Firstly some back ground on my needs. I feel I need the radio as I travel either alone or with my partner. We never travel with a group and even though we are not remote travellers, if something does go wrong and your out of mobile range, even a couple of Km’s from help can seem like the other side of the moon. So as such I really only want the radio as a form of insurance. My needs are two fold, firstly I would like to be able to reach the RFDS and secondly I would like to join and use the VKS737 network primarily for their Sched service. Now to my question. I know that for a new system I am looking at not much change out of $3500 and this is just too much to pay given my needs. However after a bit of searching I have found a reputable dealer (Terlin Outbacker in WA) that sell 2nd hand older model HF radios for a much closer to my price range figure. The model I am looking at is an old Barrett 220/225 HF transceiver with 4 Channels (VKS737 & RFDS) and 4 Channel Terlin Multitap whip-with Base and Spring. So my question is, would this system meet my modest needs? If not what are its short comings? Like I have mentioned I only want the very basic form of communication (Selcall, Telcall etc are not important)…thanks for you help folks.

Cheers
Grazza
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 11:19

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 11:19
Grazza,

we had one of these about 16 years ago, and while it performed well, was inclined to be very "deaf' compared to Codans and later model Barretts. They did put out a pre-amp kit that did improve it somewhat.

Otherwise, for your purposes, I don't think you can go wrong. Why not get a few extra channels fitted too, might cost more, but increases its versatility. Those empty slots aren't much use to you if you get out of your usual range. Hooroo...

AnswerID: 23933

Follow Up By: Grazza - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 11:23

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 11:23
Cheers Bob,

What exactly does it mean to add more channels? Am I wrong to assume that a radio that works (ie can speak to both the RFDS and VKS737) in Perth, will also work in Darwin? Or is the radio pre tuned for the location in which you live? If this is the case, then do you need to add more channels for each location you plan on visiting?

Thanks

Grazza
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FollowupID: 16039

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 21:07

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 21:07
Grazza,

those older sets use a crystal for each frequency, which are about, or used to be $100/frequency. The newer sets use a different setup where the technician can "write" any frequency into the set, in HF range, with a computer.

Each RFDS base uses different frequencies, so they don't clash with each other. If you were to travel around Oz, you'd need to have all their frequencies, from a safety point of view.

Older Codan 8525's have 99 frequencies available, with later models having more space.

Another option would be a sat phone, hire or buy. Choice doesn't get any easier, eh? Hooroo...
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FollowupID: 16116

Reply By: Darian - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 11:34

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 11:34
Fair enough - you are on the right track - just make sure you have enough useful channels - 8022 is the biggy for VKS737 - 5455 is quite handy and 14977 would be a bonus. VKS737 can get the RFDS for you in an emergency but you would need selcall to wake us up out of hours. Four channels sounds a bit thin to me, especially if you want some RFDS. If you pay a techo to add some crystals for you (to add channels that is), you will need a new tap antenna, and that might be more $ than the older radio ! Look for a radio with more channels would be my plan. You might get a selcall, 10 channel machine for well under $1000. They do bob up. There is a Codan 9323 on the VKS737 market page for under $2000 - might get it for less - has all bells and whistles. I snaffled a current style Barrett 950 system 3 years old for $1500 (plus shipping etc).
AnswerID: 23940

Follow Up By: Janset - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 12:32

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 12:32
Hi Gazza

Just a point. To use the VKS radio network, you must pay a membership fee. If you wish to use the RFDS frequency also then you must also hold a licence with the appropriate authority.

As stated above, VKS will contact the Flying doctor service if required, so some money can be saved by only going with VKS.

The above information I have on authority as I queries this and I am in the possession of an email confirming this from the licensing authority.

If however you still wish to talk to someone using a RFDS frequency, then you and he will have to hold a licence also.

Stay with VKS is my advice.

Regards
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Reply By: BurnieM - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 13:34

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 13:34
Having extra frequencies that you are not licensed to use does not hurt.

In a life threatening emergency ANYbody is allowed to use ANY frequency to get help.

I would avoid the crystal controlled radios as their resale is not very good.
Also, watch the marine sets that have been converted; they can have significant internal corrosion.
AnswerID: 23953

Reply By: Member - GOPE- Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 14:45

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 14:45
Grazza,
Just a thought but have you tried looking under "Vehical Requirements" then "Communications" on site, there is a whole lot of info.
Cheers"Happy" :)>
AnswerID: 23958

Reply By: Martyn (WA) - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 18:21

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 18:21
Grazza,
I was an HF virgin in the not to distant past, I got a lot of info from this site, there is also an HF handbook in the shop which I found of great value, I searched the Saturday & Sunday papers, looked around and I set myself up with a good Barrett with a remote head, a multi tap antenna for around the $1500-$1700 mark plus a membership to VKS737, so it can be done, I was also advised to stay away from the crystal sets and marine radios as mentioned. Being in the right place at the right time also helps, where are you? What state?Keep the shiny side up
AnswerID: 23974

Reply By: Member - Bob - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 21:50

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 21:50
Grazza, there was a post a few days back about Satphones for less than $900. Might be worth a look, given your requirements. You can always dial up the RFDS.
AnswerID: 24002

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel (QLD) - Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 23:02

Tuesday, Jul 01, 2003 at 23:02
Just curious - how does a satphone allow him to listen to VKS737 scheds (one of his two requirements) ???
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Follow Up By: Member - Bob - Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003 at 08:19

Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003 at 08:19
You wouldn't need to listen to the VKS737 scheds if you had a Satphone. If you were listening to the scheds to get up to date road information etc you would be sadly disappointed. If you listened to the scheds to get urgent messages then the phone would do that better. If you wanted to shoot the breeze for half an hour, then the HF is the way to go.

Bob
Romeo 28
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FollowupID: 16143

Follow Up By: Member - David- Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003 at 16:51

Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003 at 16:51
We (Partner & I) have a Satphone. Telstra brick size. Purchased July 02 for $995. Came with protection carry case, car aerial (small magnetic), 240V charger, car charger, 2 rechargeable batteries. A good set up for us. $28 per month access ongoing (similar to mobile phone contract), $1.98 per min outgoing, $1.20 for incoming calls (kids ring us!!). No hardwiring required, can ring anywhere from anywhere (except in a deep canyon or under forest canopy maybe) instantly. Clip it to your belt if going off away from the car in case you break you leg etc. Take it fishing with your mates in case a call back for help is needed. I also keep it in my workcar as I travel country roads extensively, and dont bother with the expensive roobars anymore as I have instant contact if I am disabled by a roo strike, or black box failure on the car.

The most urgent use so far was some UK tourists in a hire 4WD on the Gibb River Rd had run out of tyres and they were able to organise direct with the hire company, the next servo, and their station B&B to sort out their predicament. On a Saturaday afternoon to complicate things a bit more. I'd suggest a HF Radio wouldnt do that, and in an emergency who do you want to talk to, "someone who can, and is willing, to do something right now" I'd suggest, ambulance, RFDS, mechanic, parts, freight company, police, family, mates etc.

That's my opinion anyway, and the more of these that come on line I suspect the cheaper it will become over time, PLUS HF radios blarring out call after call at a campsite really gets on my wick. Are these people really so insecure that they have to report their everymove everyday, or does their big fat aerial mean they have a right to leave their car doors open so we all have to listen to the ongoing meaningless chatter at full volume.

Good luck with your decision
Cheers
David

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FollowupID: 16170

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003 at 18:48

Wednesday, Jul 02, 2003 at 18:48
David, blaring radios or stereos or generators are annoying, and I guess some people would be annoyed by your satphone ringing in the middle of the night.

Having a HF doesn't make people behave badly - they most likely were annoying long before they got a HF.

Personally I think $28/month is excessive for something that can't broadcast, but that's my opinion and it obviously suits your requirements.

I'm not going to say that every satphone owner is obnoxious just coz they own a satphone.
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