HF Radio Networks

Submitted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 19:58
ThreadID: 69386 Views:3317 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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Hi all,

I am about to take my first steps into HF radio. I've just purchased a Codan 8528 and will be buying a tapped antenna (Unless I stumble on a very cheap auto tune).

I have 2 questions:
1: Antenna location - I will be fitting the radio to a Land Rover Discovery. Should I mount the antenna at the rear of the vehicle or on the bullbar? Is there likely to be any significant performance difference?

2: VKS737, VKE237 HFOz etc .. Has anyone got experience with these networks and advice for me as to which may suit my needs better?

The primary reason for the radio is remote communication on outback trips, more for emergency use than daily chit chat. I would hope though to use it day to day to keep track of road closures and weather conditions etc.

Cheers, Mark
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Reply By: Peter McG (Member, Melbourne) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 20:05

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 20:05
Mark,

I use VKS737 and have found it great for our needs. We do a long range outback trip and use their Perth, Dery and Alice Springs bases. The feedack on tracks and weather etc is great. We used to have Radtel ut have now dropped it as we didn't use their service.

Cheers

Peter
Peter
VKS Mobile 1906

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Follow Up By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 20:11

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 20:11
Thanks Peter
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Reply By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 20:14

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 20:14
We have been using that model Codan and a tapped antenna on the bullbar for a few years now and it has served us very well, as has VKS737.

HF thankfully doesn't get used much for chit chat and there are strict rules about language (unlike UHF). When we travel we log in most days just to let VKS know where we are, and to see if there are any messages for us. Its interesting to hear what other travellers have to report, and occasioanlly its possible to assist with a relay.

Its a good idea to log in occasionally and have a chat, unless its very busy or atmospheric conditions are giving poor reception. That way you will gain experience so that if you do have to use it in an emergency you will be confident in what you are doing. Make sure all people travelling in your vehicle know how to use the radio.

VKS has national coverage and is (I think) the largest of the HF clubs. Its membership fee represents good value.

Cheers

J and V
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Reply By: Jedo_03 - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 21:09

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 21:09
Hi Mark
We have a 8525 and tapped antenna and we are with VKS737... Haven't been with any other network so can't comment... Selcall 1330
Despite the age of the 8525 (they are very rugged) we have no problems with it.
Reception varies with the time of day, sun cycles. The tapped antenna is on the left of the bull bar and we found that adding a good grounding to the antenna base and a good earth to the receiver box helped a lot with reception. Also - try not to feed the power cable alongside the antenna cable. We run a Patrol and get great reception even when moving (even better if we stop)...
For some reason we get better reception in a North/South line and from Broken Hill can communicate reasonably with Charter's Towers and St Mary's, and less so with Alice - though we can often hear the Alice very well...
We have had quite a few "chit-chat's" from other VKS users out of sked time who have opened the conversation with "Radio Check please..." - which is probly a reasonable way of saying "G'day" over the airwaves...
VKS is $100 a year and their Ops are friendly and efficient...
Jedo
AnswerID: 367837

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 21:50

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 21:50
Hi Mark
I can only comment on the VKS 737 Network.
We have been members since 1994 and still using the Codan 8525 with Tap antenna that I originally purchased new back then. The number of frequencies have multiplied over the years, like the base stations. When it was originally commissioned, it was the Four Wheel Drive Association of South Australia's radio network. Our network was put in place to service the needs of fellow four wheel drive users and the credit goes to Steve Johnston who was the key person behind the network.
All base operators are nothing but first class operators and are there when you need them most. The other networks have started up, well after all the very hard work of applying for frequencies has been carried out.
When we are out bush, I know that I can contact a base somewhere in this great country and help is always at the end of the microphone.

Cheers

Stephen
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Reply By: Crackles - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 21:59

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 21:59
Mark a tapped antenna mounted to the bull bar would probably be the most practical location as it keeps it a little lower for clearance under trees. Keep in mind the width of an autotune (if you get one) often makes them illegal when mounted in the drivers view. For reception it doesn't make a great deal of difference where they are fitted but when transmitting a greater percentage of the signal is directed accross the ground plane, in other words if you mount the antenna on the left front bumper then the majority of the signal is transmitted out the right rear corner of the car. In good conditions this will make negligable difference but for maximum transmission, pointing that corner of the car towards the base station will make all the difference. Keep in mind you don't want to mount it too low as the roof/roof rack can shield the signal as well.
VKS737 will be perfect for your needs.
Cheers Craig.......
AnswerID: 367848

Reply By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 23:14

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 23:14
Thanks everyone,

Looks like VKS737 will be getting an application soon.

Thanks for the transition stuff Craig, I can see I have a bit to learn.

Cheers
Mark
AnswerID: 367852

Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 23:23

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 23:23
Hi Mark,
I have my auto tune antenna mounted on top, front left of bullbar (inside of the bar, illegal outside of it) and it's a real problem there. I am constantly have to make sure it doesn't hit by scrub or trees. It's a real pain. The antenna is better protected on the back of the vehicle; that way if you damage anything, you only damage the whip which is easily replaced (still $$$$ though). If only I could put mine at the rear of my Prado, I would; only I have no where I can successfully mount it.

I use both HFoZ and VKS737. Unfortunately HFoZ only has a small membership at the moment and is growing. I find both HFoZ and VKS737 have services I like, but the VKS737 skeds can be really helpful. VKS737 can also be the possible source of volunteers helping in time of trouble, instead of very, very, expensive recovery by a service centre. I got HFoz free for 12 months on purchase of my radio. I will have to decide next year what services to keep when renewal comes up. At this point in time it will be VKS737; decide on HFoZ later. VKS737 was set up for the specific purpose of helping 4x4 travelers.

Hope this helps.
Fred B
VKS 737: Mobile/Selcall 1334

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Follow Up By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 18:49

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 18:49
Thanks Fred,

I had a suspicion the VKS737 would probably suit... I just figured I'd see what some real world feedback told me.

Cheers, Mark
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 17:49

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 17:49
Mark

I have tried various locations on the Disco.

a. mounted on a tow hitch that slots into the Hayman Reese slot - a pain because every time you open the rear door you have to pull it out and turn it 90 degrees or lie it on the ground

b. on a steel bracket that I fitted between the spare tyre bracket and the back door panel

c. getting rid of the spare tyre from the bracket and mounting a flange on the bracket - current setup

d. when I tow the trailer having it mounted on the trailer

I am averse to forward mounts, eg on bull bars, firstly because I don't have one, and secondly because it will be the first thing broken when you have a collision. Just when you want to tell the world that you've had a crash you are off the air!

Bob
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Follow Up By: Member - Bytemrk(VIC) - Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 18:48

Monday, Jun 01, 2009 at 18:48
Thanks Bob, very good point about collisions.

I'm currently working on a design to build a rear work light bracket, mounted off the bolts that hold the spare tire carrier - so I might integrate something into that.

It will also mean that if I get an autotune later, I'll just locate it in the same spot.

Cheers,
Mark

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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jun 05, 2009 at 23:48

Friday, Jun 05, 2009 at 23:48
HAve a look on the Kaymar site they sell these Save you the trouble of making one




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Reply By: Member - Mudduck (NSW) - Friday, Jun 05, 2009 at 22:33

Friday, Jun 05, 2009 at 22:33
Mark I run my HF antennas on the back of my patrol and same on my cruiser, I believe this is the best place for both protection and in some states legality.

performance on bullbars or on the back is no real difference. HF networks is personal choice personally i don't use vks737 but I'm not going into reasons on here.
Cheers Steve VK2UD
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