HF Radio Or Satphone??

Hi

My wife and I (in our 60's) travel mostly on our own.
We are now going to more remote areas, we think we need some better method of communication in case of an emergency and to kept in touch with our family.

I would like to know the pro's and con's of both systems and your preferred one.

Thank you in anticipation

John

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Reply By: OREJAP - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 11:06

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 11:06
Hi John, I have owned a Codan HF for the last 7 years and although I do not use it all the time it is indeed an asset. I belong to VKS 737 & if you visit their web site or even phone them & talk with Steve Johnson I am sure the friendly staff there will assist & answer any of your questions. I find the HF useful for the day & evening sched's listening to where others are & general reports on anything of importance. I have the RFDS centres programmed into my set for emergencies. I don't know much about Sat Phones only that you can hire one for a trip or own one. My question is, what if there are no satellites available & you wish to make a call? I believe the Americans can shut down most or nearly all of them if they want to however probably unlikely. If you like to listen & talk to other travellers then I would recommend the HF. I don't know if I am allowed to mention this but seeing you are in Victoria I would phone Peter James at Lara Electronics who is a very experienced man in the HF field travelling oversease for the Govt & does work for the Emergency services. If you want to know further PM me. Regards
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Follow Up By: Member - John B2 (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:23

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:23
OREJAP

Thanks for your reply will phone next week

Cheers,
John
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Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 22:36

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 22:36
"what if there are no satellites available & you wish to make a call? "

- the Iridium Network that's used by Telstra has 66 satellites, so there'll always be one in range, unless you're in a deep valley.



"I believe the Americans can shut down most or nearly all of them if they want to however probably unlikely. "

- I think you're confusing this with the GPS satellites.
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Follow Up By: 02.murray - Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 21:14

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 21:14
We have a Thurya sat phone and have NEVER had trouble picking up cells where ever we have been
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Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 11:40

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 11:40
We have been been traveling for 5 years now and have a sat phone. Have used it more to help other people when they are broken down but still think it good value for security.

Neil
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Follow Up By: Member - John B2 (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:23

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:23
Neil,

Thanks for your input.

Cheers,
John
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Reply By: Member - Trouper (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 12:24

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 12:24
John, Look on this site under articles, communications, plenty of info on Satphones & HF. Everyone on this site has there preferences I for one prefer Satphones whilst others prefer HF each have their advantages. It depends on what your needs are and how much money you have to send

Regards.............................Jeff
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Follow Up By: Member - John B2 (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:25

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:25
Hi Jeff,

I have read all the articles very informative, I just wanted some individual feedback,

Thanks,
John
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Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 12:37

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 12:37
Hullo John
I recently faced this decision and, after a lot of research on this and other sites, chose HF. One source I found invaluable was a thread on this site from Oneput (I think it was), someone who had a wealth of experience and had used both.
Some of my own reasons were -
* HF is a broadcast technology - that is, when you make a call, everyone can hear it. It may well be that you are stuck somewhere in the bush and making a call to one of the base stations asking for assistance and someone replies who is "just around the corner" and offers to help. If you listen in to a sked, this happens often. A sat phone can not, and will never be able to, replicate this as it is "one to one" call
* If you have a sat phone, who do you call in times of need? The HF base station operators have at their fingertips a range of resources that they personally have experience and credibility with - be they police, RFDS, local repair/recovery services, etc.
* Sked times often reveal a wealth of useful info - roads conditions, weather, good campsites, who else is on the road near you (who you may, or may not, wnat to meet up with :-), etc. And you can let them know where you are and where you expect to be the next night - if anything untoward happens, someone knows your latest plans and can initiate a search if you don't respond to a scheduled call
* Reliability - it would seem that at nearly all times, you can get throught to someone on HF. Although the technology is improving, that would not seem to be the case with satphones.
* And if you are on your tod, or just the 2 of you, it is good to know that you are a member of a "community", albeit that you don't have to have direct contact with them if that is your choice
Regards
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Member - John B2 (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:31

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:31
Hi Andrew,

I was leaning toward HF because of the many points you have laid out.

More seeking confirmation from some who has one.

Thanks,
John

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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 14:01

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 14:01
We looked at both and went HF for all the reasons Andrew lsists above. Our second hand setup cost a total of $750 for a Codan radio, older autotune and a Jenal microphone so we have selcal and telcall access as well.

We have never failed ot get someone and have enjoyed the sense of community when out and about. We were away in remote SA late October last year and the HF was the only contact with anyone for days at a time. We saw very few vehicles but it was good to know that there wereothers out and about at the same time.

Cheers

Pete
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Reply By: George_M - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 12:42

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 12:42
Like much in life John, it all depends on what you need the device to do, and how often you need to do it.

We usually travel solo, and wanted a device that allowed us to make telephone calls when we wanted to, or needed to. We used to have an HF radio, but switched to a Satphone about 15 years ago. Both HF radios and Satphones were a lot clunkier then, and you needed to know what you were doing to use them. Newish models of both are now a lot more user-friendly. We now have a Motorola handset which connects to the Iridium network.

In all of our travels we used the HF radio and our Satphones only a handful of times. As Neil said, you'll probably use it more to assist other people. But you never know.

The HF radio is probably the more flexible device; the Satphone is probably the more convenient and portable device.

So if you want to talk a lot, particularly to other HF operators in your area then go with the HF radio. If you want a device for emergencies and the occasional call to friends and family then go with a Satphone.
Come any closer and I'll rip your throat out!

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Follow Up By: Member - John B2 (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:32

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:32
George_M

Thank you for your response

Cheers,
John
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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 13:34

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 13:34
Like others, we had a choice to make between the two as well, we chose the Sat phone because our family like to know that we are only a phone call away, and they like to keep us up to speed on things at home.
Now there are Sat phones and there are Sat phones which I won't go into on here but if you decide on a Sat phone and would like more info on our personal experiences with them you are welcome to MM me.
It boils down to what you want and what is the best for yourselves. Our decision was purely made for contact home and family as well as emergencies. I can see the benefits of the HF as well, probably would be great to have both LOL.

Good luck with your choice.

Cheers

Deanna


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Follow Up By: Member - John B2 (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:34

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 14:34
Deanna

Thank you for your time to reply.

I think HF might be more suitable for me.

Thanks,
John
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 15:23

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 15:23
We also went through this question John.
4 things settled it for us.
1. Friends don't need to even know it is a sat 'phone when they call you, it is just a mobile phone, and costs the same for them as any other mobile phone.
2. Incoming calls are free for you, so if you want to chat to family, call them and ask that they call you back.
3. Roll the vehicle, and the first thing wrecked is the HF antennae.
4. Go for a walk, take the sat phone with you. The HF stays in the vehicle.

Easy decision for us.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Who was that again? (Vic) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 15:51

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 15:51
Peter, the point you raise in regard to a damaged vehicle is spot on. Damage your wiring through a rollover or burnt car will just make you very alone. Getting into remote country with spinnifex can do that to well prepared vehicles. You can get out with your sat phone.

Your point in regard to incoming calls is interesting. With ours, we actually pay for any incoming calls or at least a larger percentage of any calls. Any normal incoming call calls to our Australian community and we are globally roaming with the Telstra SIM card.
Cheers,
Who?
John

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Follow Up By: Tim - Stratford (VIC) - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 16:27

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 16:27
I agree with Peter and John,

The main reason we have a Satphone is the portability - jump out of the car and we still have comms for a walk etc - if you jump in someone else's vehicle you can 'bring-your-own'.

Also in the High Country - trees - I've taken out a UHF aerial before - hate to do that with an HF ($$$ and lost comms).

I also considered roll-overs and even flat batteries/dead electrics - My 2 cents.


Tim
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Follow Up By: Member - Mary W NW VIC - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 20:03

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 20:03
Hi Peter,
Some more info would be appreciated,
1.What type of phone is it? Approx cost?
2.Is it under the telstra network ?if so what type of plan cost etc
Thanks,
Mary
"Some people walk in the rain,others just get wet."

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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 21:00

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 21:00
Mary,
1. It is a Globalstar (which has had its network problems, but are improving now).
2. The phone is a Qualcomm 1600 (???). Cost about $2,000 5 years ago (minus $1500 Government subsidy, plus car kit, so of no relevence now).
3. Telstra don't have a network, they use the Iridian network which is owned by Pivotel who also owns the Globalstar network.
4. We were on a $30 per month plan, but the $30 has been waived and call costs halved for the last year or more because of the network problems.

There are new carriers now and a new range of handsets is coming onto the market. It is becoming much more competitive.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 23:00

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 23:00
Peter,

Pivotel DO NOT own Globalstar. I am not sure what gave you that impression ( or why you see the need to post it on every satellite thread). Global Star is a US based public company.

Pivotel is a simple reseller of Global Star and Iridium in Australia.

Telstra is another - totally seperate, reseller of Iridium in Australia.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 05:33

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 05:33
I often see the risk of a roll-over as justification for not having a HF Radio and whilst a valid concern step back for a moment and consider the odds of that happening. Let’s face it, if the odds were that high we would all be fitting roll cages to our vehicles.

My point is, don’t discount the many benefits a HF Radio brings solely on the roll-over argument.

And in fact Codan now produces an auto-tune antenna that would most likely survive a rollover intact.

Cheers, The Landy
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 09:18

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 09:18
New Codan Auto-tune........

Codan 3040 Autotune Antenna

Cheers, The Landy
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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 22:56

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2010 at 22:56
THE ONLY providor to use is IRIDIUM, it has as said over 60 satellites against Globals**t's 1 which only works on fine days and Fridays when it falls on an odd day in the month. IF you get what i mean

Buy a Motorola Iridium phone and use a Telstra internationally roamed sim card which must be on a plan and it will work fine ANYWHERE.

Calls cost me $3.77 a minute both IN and OUT.

MY 9505A is in the middle of the Simpson with a friend and he has called his wife for the last 6 nights no trouble at all

phone cost $950 on Ebay.


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Follow Up By: Craig@Pivotel - Thursday, Aug 19, 2010 at 17:40

Thursday, Aug 19, 2010 at 17:40
In response to comments above let me clear a few points up. Pivotel is a multi network satellite service provider, we offer iridium services that are integrated with our systems allowing Pivotel to offer our Iridium customers to use a local mobile phone number and no incoming call charges within Australia. We also own and operate the Australian portion of the Globalstar network, currently operating satellite uplink towers out of Mt Isa, Meekatharra and Dubbo. Again we offer local mobile phone number with this service also as we are the holder of one of four Australian network licences issued by the Australian government. We also offer call rates as low as 30c per 30sec on both networks.

As for the Globalstar network, the 90 day launch window became available in mid July, this mean that 6 new satellites will be launched shortly but once in orbit it will still be a little while till they will be in place.
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Reply By: Crackles - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 18:30

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 18:30
I see the difference this way. You break down in a remote area, you pick up the sat phone and dial the local garage who either comes out and repairs the car or tows it back to town probably for somewhere between 2 & 10 thousand dollars. The fella with a HF on the other hand calls up Alice Springs base who gives him advice over the air. Already another member nearby calls up to offer help. After you work out you need spares VKS organizes the parts & another member vollunteers to run them out to you.
While they can do a similar job the phone will always be easier & more convienient to use while the HF offers a network of advice & experience in a club type atmosphere.
I've used both on various trips. It's harder to be contacted on the HF from home which I see as a big plus ;-)
Cheers Craig..............
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Reply By: PeterInSa - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 18:45

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 18:45
I am pro Sat phone and have one, was not interested in learning how to use the HF radio and wanted to have the Sat phone with me if going on a walk in a remote region. Am prepared to call a HF base station via my sat phone and join up as an associate if needed and have been told I can do this.

At the time of my research/purchase (5 years ago) i thought that the HF System was a sunset technology with fewer users every year, but do not now believe this is so.

At least 3 Sat phone companies and at least 2 HF groups to join, each with pluses etc.

Peter
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 19:15

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 19:15
Yes Pete 5 years ago you could have been forgiven for thinking HF was on it's way out & Sat phones were going to takeover the world particually when Telstra got completely out of the radio/telephone interconnect system. As it turned out the reception & reliability of some phones didn't quite live up to the hype & call costs certainly never dropped significantly while numbers joining the HF crowd kept increasing with greater services offered.
At work we use a local Trunked mobile radio system in Vic which was supposed to be closed down & replaced by sat phones but they simply couldn't get the coverage of the old system.
Cheers Craig............
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 20:34

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 20:34
Hi John

We chose at Satellite Phone; easy to use, instant and versatile. We needed it to order parts when stranded, and to let family know if we were out of Next G range for longer than expected. They also knew that they could get hold of us for any emergencies at home. We didn't need it for any medical emergencies - the main reason we purchased this phone. We can take it with us in a back pack on walks in remote areas as a security in case of a fall of medical issue.

On a $30 plan, the first $10 per month are included. This is enough for an occasional call home just to say we're OK.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Allan B, Sunshine Coast, - Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 22:58

Saturday, Aug 07, 2010 at 22:58
Hi John,

We started with HF and now have added a satphone.

In an emergency I would be using the satphone as my initial device.
We carry a comprehensive list of phone numbers and then there is always 112.

Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Robin Miller - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 08:23

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 08:23
Always good to have both John , but out of the two we choose HF with VKS-737.

In general H.F. and others have said is a community and driving up the canning the other week the only radio that would pick up anything was it , not a single station on normal car am/fm so the H.F. could be used to listen to the news etc.

It main use though was to listen to the skeds as you drive along and this was a very effectice use - as you participate a little in others adventures as well, and have hours of entertainment.

I don't agree with some comments about wrecking aerial on trees or accident etc.
This is obviously possible but its pretty easy to either carry a smaller spare , we normally travel with a smaller spare fitted all the time ( a $10 CB aerial will do if not transmitting) - helps getting into carparks .

It easy to make/buy a wire dipole antenna yourself as not only a spare but this will outperform your best $1500 autotune.

Real online comms with family can only be done with Phone - but this can usually be done every few days almost everywhere without a satphone , but even H.F. services these days offer means by which family can know where you are.












Robin Miller

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Reply By: Member - Jason B (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 10:56

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 10:56
Hi

Having worked in remonte areas of NSW for the past 12 years with the Govt in a compliance role, we have used all forms of comunication over the years. Up until six or seven years ago all of our vehicle were fitted with Codan HF radios. Whilst they were good at the time there certainly was an element of knowledge needed to operate one effectively. We have since moved to Sat Phones in all of our vehicles. I personally find these much easyer to use and all most fool proof as any one can operate one with out specific knowledge. They have also proven 100% reliable for our applications. As long a you have a method to keep it charged I would reccomend a Sat phone for your use over a HF


Regards

Jason
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Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 22:47

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 22:47
As a matter of interest, has anyone on the forum had actual experience of using 000 in the bush in an emergency situation?
Rgds
Andrew
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Reply By: Member - Jason B (NSW) - Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 10:55

Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 10:55
Yes Andrew

Have used the sat phone to call the Southcare Helicopter into the Snowy mountains at Gehi. We were able to guide the Choper in on the Sat phone and using our GPS. This terrain is also very steep and mountainous and not the Ideal situation for a Sat phone but it worked fine.
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 14:57

Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 14:57
Thanks Jason
FMI, was the original call to 000 or did you have the Southcare service ph # and phone them direct?
Cheers
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Member - Jason B (NSW) - Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 15:29

Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 15:29
Andrew

The original calll was through 000, transfered through to the Ambulance service. A vehicle Ambulance arrived on the scene but couldn't sufficiently help the guy, so we went back through 000 and organised southcare on behalf of the Ambo's with the sat phone.

Regards
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 17:06

Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 17:06
Thanks Jason - that's useful
A
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Reply By: The Landy - Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 22:23

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 22:23
A difficult question as both are efficient forms of communication. But it is a bit like apples and oranges, both are food, but that is where the similarities end. Similar to HF and Satphones, both are communication devices, but both have advantages and disadvantages over the other.

You need to determine what you want your communication device to do for you, and if you can afford it, have both.

These days we use HF exclusively, but that is a personal choice as it serves our requirements perfectly. We can contact others on a broadcast basis, I can send an SMS, log a GPS position which is accessible to family, and can send short emails, as well as make phone calls and listen to the news and weather reports.

In short, there is no correct answer to which is better….

Cheers, The Landy
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