HF Radio - No traffic picked up

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 11:29
ThreadID: 70024 Views:3581 Replies:15 FollowUps:17
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Just finished installing a second hand Barrett 2050 into a GU patrol. Scrolling through all channels and frequencies and the only channel i pick up is radio australia. Shouldn't I be able to pick up other channels and listen in. I can't transmit yet as i'm waiting on my VKS737 membership to come through (expect tomorrow).

HF OZ and VKS737 are both installed. Im reading every book possible to learn about correctlyt using HF radios. Little confused about some thing.
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Reply By: toyotabits .........VKS-737 ...mobile 2629 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:07

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:07
G'day Shane, download your sked times from 737 & listen then, you won't hear anything much outside those times, listen on 8022, see ya, aussiedingo
AnswerID: 371150

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:08

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:08
G'day Shane - HF traffic is best picked up early and late in the day when most users are on the air - you can download a sked guide from the VKS site and that will tell you which bases are running their skeds, the frequencies in use and their timeslots (base station schedule link, on the Documents page). On 8022 Khz for example you would expect to easily pick up traffic from a base about 2000km away - conditions vary a lot though - at times, some bases can be too close to you, or too far away - you then try a different base if possible. Early and late in the day though, you would expect to hear members trying for contact with bases anyway.
Your location ?
AnswerID: 371151

Reply By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:37

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:37
I would try beacon calling all the bases and waiting for the tone to come back, that way you know you are accessing the bases.
AnswerID: 371155

Follow Up By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:57

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:57
olcoolone - shanegu6 & I would like to know what that is - I am sure. I have had my radio in for a year and still do not know what the hell you are talking about. :-)

Lots of us put them in and do not use them much - they are there just in case we need it, so radio jargon will not mean much unless there is a quick explanation as well :-)

Oh! thats right you expect me to read the instructions to the darn thingy. Oh well. :-) Cheers Tony

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FollowupID: 638443

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:43

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:43
All VKS 737 bases and most mobiles with selcall have beacon call facilities.

Beacon call is the nearly same as selcall except...

When you selcall someone it wakes there radio and alerts them that some one is calling and send a reply tone back to you so you know you have reached them.

When you beacon call someone there radio will not alert them that someone is trying to get in contact with them but will send a reply tone back to you so you know you have reached them.

You can use it when you need to make contact to a base and you don't know what one you will get or which one is the strongest, you can beacon call the bases without there knowledge and find the strongest base to then selcall.

Selcalling and beacon calling is one of the most important thing to learn so you can contact bases in out of hour times.

Having a HF radio with out selcall is pretty useless...much like having a rim with no tyre.

There are some people who still think you don't need a HF radio with selcall.
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FollowupID: 638451

Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:34

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:34
Tony have a peek hereSite Link
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Follow Up By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:50

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:50
Footloose - :-) LOL - God one Mate! Funny thing is used HF for years with Councils - Thing is they are always on one channel, never had to change it. I do have the instruction book and I could go on to VKS737 site and do a bit of research, but other things to do at this time :-). So as long as I can turn it on, put it on a channel and push the tune button - all's well. Cheers TONY
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FollowupID: 638496

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 18:53

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 18:53
Tony, you will not alert a VKS737 base out of sched times without using selcall, the only way of getting help is hopefully someone like me might be listerning when you need help.

Selcall is vital.
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FollowupID: 638504

Reply By: mechpete - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:56

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 12:56
gooday Shanegu6 ,
i had the same experience when I fitted a S/H codan to my 4wd
the one thing i wanted to be able to do was listen to the SKEDS and where people are . It seemed to car to car .
pulled it out and ditched it , gunna by a later one and spend a bit more and get an auto tune antenna instead of mucking around with a multi tap unit
mechpete.
AnswerID: 371157

Reply By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:00

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:00
Shane - What aerial have you got - Auto or Plug?
AnswerID: 371158

Follow Up By: shanegu6 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:06

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:06
I have a auto antenna.
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FollowupID: 638444

Follow Up By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:19

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:19
Then as said above wait for the skeds and then tune in to 8022. You should hear something at Sked times, if not you have a connection issue. Cheers Tony
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FollowupID: 638446

Reply By: jeepthing - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:38

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:38
I had much the same experience there isn't much traffic outside the sked times. As someone said tap into 8022. I'm on the Sunshine Coast and can talk to Alice Springs. Make sure that you have good ground connection to both your aerial and unit.

Initially my first contact with Alice was a bit weak even though I thought I had a good connection from the bull bar to the vehicle and also at the radio but I was advised by Alice that the reason for the weak signal was likely to be a weak earth at the bullbar.

So I ran a wire from one of the bullbar bolts to the vehicle making sure I had good clean contacts...fixed the problem. Also make sure that your taps are clean so that you are getting good contact.

Just a couple of things I learnt from experience which made a big difference to transmissions.
AnswerID: 371163

Follow Up By: shanegu6 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:43

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:43
Hey Jeepthing, I have the antenna mounted on the rear of the vehicle and the earth form it earthed to the rear barn door (internally). The unit is powered and earthed directly to the battery. Did you have to extend the length of the earth cable from the antenna.
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FollowupID: 638450

Follow Up By: Member - Wim (Qld) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:02

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:02
shanegu6.

Most problems with HF are "earth" related.
I would extend the earth from your barn door connection to a good earth in the main part of the vehicle.

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FollowupID: 638485

Follow Up By: jeepthing - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 18:19

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 18:19
shanegu6,

I have a Barrett 250 and I was assuming you had a tapped aerial, my mistake wrong model.

Nevertheless as Wim correctly says most problems are earth related and I agree with his suggestion.

Additionally, even though the unit is powered and earthed directly to the battery I was advised to run an earth cable from the unit's case to a good earth on the vehicle's body.

The aerial for my unit is designed to be mounted on the bull bar only as it uses the vehicle's bonnet as it's ground plane.

I don't know much about the type of aerial you have but I do know that when you rear mount an aerial it needs to be in a position to ensure it will have a clear transmission.

If it doesn't you will find that when you transmit a lot of the energy from the aerial will be absorbed into the body of your vehicle consequently the transmission will be weak.

Make sure that the aerial is designed for a rear mount too. Even if it is I understand that they work more efficiently when bull bar mounted as the bonnet provides a better ground plane.
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FollowupID: 638501

Reply By: shanegu6 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:39

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 13:39
Just trying to pick up Alice Springs as per sked times, 1.30pm to 2.00pm. No luck on 8022. Im in brisbane. Just on 2000kms away to Alice. Should be able to pick up ok I would have thought.
AnswerID: 371164

Follow Up By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 14:09

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 14:09
Shane - No mate, you can not all the time and middle of the day not so good. You may pick up my area during the day - but it is very random where you can get to. A lot of factors come into play. Some days its great, some days its not. Cheers Tony. If you want give me a time and I will fire mine up and see if I can get you. Cheers Tony
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FollowupID: 638460

Reply By: Time - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 14:51

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 14:51
Worth noting that reception will be a lot better if you move away from buildings, power poles and from under large trees.

By way of example, reception in my driveway is poor, but if I move to a local park away from buildings, power lines etc I have no problems in picking up transmissions from afar.
AnswerID: 371175

Reply By: BenDiD - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 15:18

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 15:18
Shane,

I had similar issues when I installed my first HF earlier in the year.

There is a great book called "HF for traveler's" (or something similar) for about $20 that explains beacon calls etc. etc. and is really helpful to fill in the gaps. It's available on this site.

Most of the HF Oz guys will be on air or listening around 5-6 PM most days so just listen and break in or put out a call. Usually on Ch 7 or Ch 8. If that doesn't work e-mail the after hours contact for HF Oz (Mark G) and set up a time for a call with him.

Not sure where you are located - that makes a huge difference - I'm in Sydney and just can't hear anyone else unless I travel out of the metro area. If you're in a dense area, near power lines, train crossings etc you'll struggle to hear or be heard.

As others have said above, your best chance with VKS is a late afternoon sked and beacon call the base first so you know if you can reach it or not.

Good luck

Ben

AnswerID: 371179

Reply By: blue one - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:03

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:03
Yes it can be confusing until you have mucked around with the set for awhile.

1/ Earth everything and make sure there is a good earth connection to the chassis. This includes doors, bonnet etc. Your aerial earth connected just to the barn doors will cause you grief. Extend it to the chassis.
2/ Select a channel and tune the set. ( Channel 2 for VKS)
3/ VKS 737 is on air around 4.30pm until 7.00pm. ( Check the sked times on their web site)

Once you are on air with VKS you will be pleased to find they are extremely accommodating with assisting you with use of the set. Don't be afraid to contact them and ask the silly questions which we all have done. Let me know if you need any specific question answered. As Pete said a beacon or selcall helps a lot knowing if you can reach the station or if you need to select another.

Cheers
AnswerID: 371184

Reply By: shanegu6 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:31

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:31
Just managed to pick up VKS sked at 4.00pm charters towers. Not the clearest transmissions but still could understand. Will definately move the earth connection from barn door to chassis. Thanks for everyones help.
AnswerID: 371187

Follow Up By: blue one - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:40

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:40
It would pay to do all the other doors and the bonnet as it increases your ground plan which in radio talk is a good thing.

I put a second earth bond braid from the body to the chassis and then earthed the doors etc to the body.

Works well as most times I can hit Albany from NSW.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 638483

Follow Up By: shanegu6 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:46

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 16:46
Im not 100% sure what you mean about doing all the other doors and bonnet. Do you mean running a wire from every door and bonnet to the chassis? If so what size?
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FollowupID: 638484

Follow Up By: blue one - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:38

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:38
Just use some 6mm wire to link between the door and the body bypassing the hinge. Link the body to the chassis with another 6 mm cable. Do the same for anything on hinge.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 638494

Reply By: get outmore - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:15

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:15
you really need to get out of the city for best results. theres just toomuch interferance. You dont need to go far.In Perth I find the avon NP is good. Often the main highways have big powerlines alongside them which doesnt help.

If you are in typical suburbia it is unlikely you will get a clear sig in your driveway
AnswerID: 371198

Follow Up By: shanegu6 - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:20

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:20
I live 60kms south of Brisbane on acreage. Not in suburbia but still have power lines.
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FollowupID: 638489

Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:32

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 17:32
shouldnt be to bad then just get asfar from the lines as possibe

Adelaide should be on soon about 6.00 your time I usualy get them in WA no worries although it might be made easier as the sun is still up in the west
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FollowupID: 638490

Reply By: Member - GREENDOG - Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 20:40

Sunday, Jun 21, 2009 at 20:40
G'day Shane I to have just finished installing a HF Barrett 250, i ran a earth from my base with a loop in it to a tie down bracket on the floor in the back and another from my anntenna base to my radiator mount,I spoke to ALice Springs from the back yard signal strenth 3/5 on 8022 in SKEDS window i heard mobile station from every where bloody great i reckon,good luck with yours,we are of on the 3rd of July, Delhousie Springs,Birdsville Innamicka,Arkaroola then home ca'nt wait.cheer's GD
AnswerID: 371231

Reply By: shanegu6 - Monday, Jun 29, 2009 at 17:52

Monday, Jun 29, 2009 at 17:52
Hello everyone. I have tried a number of earth locations with no real improvement in quality of sound pick up. I can hear the skeds on VKS but very poor quality. I am new to the Hf radio seen. Is this quality normal. How clear should it be? Getting a bit fustrated. getting closer to trip to Simpson desert. Need to get it sorted ASAP. Can anyone recommend companies in south east Queensland who install HF radio who can double check my work. Thank You
AnswerID: 372338

Follow Up By: Member - Mary W NW VIC - Monday, Jun 29, 2009 at 18:09

Monday, Jun 29, 2009 at 18:09
Just a thought mate -have you tried plugging in a speaker or head phones.My codan 8525 speaker was pretty well rs and when i plugged in an external speaker found that it really was receiving very well!!!
Cheers,
mary
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FollowupID: 639587

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009 at 00:22

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009 at 00:22
Shane

I have not seen anything in the thread regarding tuning your aerial. You said you have an auto tuning aerial. With some of these need you to give a short transmission so that they can auto tune to the frequency you are working on. Is that your problem. If the auto tune is not matching your transceiver to the whip then your reception will be very poor.

PeterD
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AnswerID: 372399

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