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Discussion in 'Pacific Northwet - Where it's green. And wet.' started by tunus, Aug 8, 2016.
Not pissed. I just don't see "almost anywhere" as an accurate statement based on my experience. On the east side it was more like almost nowhere.
Guys, there's a lot more to amateur radio than 2M FM repeaters and handhelds. Sure, they're handy when you're in range and know the offset and access tones---but when you're really out in the boonies or down in a canyon you need to switch to HF to reach others in an emergency. There are plenty of HF rigs small enough to carry or install on a bike if need be and a wire dipole thrown up into the trees or telescoping vertical with a few radials could enable you to make distant contacts---lots of fun when you're not just trying to report an emergency or accident, too.
Btw, I bet that cellphone is also useless once you're really out there in the boondocks.
The beauty of amateur radio is that there are so many bands that there is always propagation to somewhere on at least one or two. There is usually a good number of hams (practically worldwide) monitoring the Pacific Maritime Net on 14.300MHz around the clock for mariners in distress which is also a good "go-to frequency" in any emergency, too.
14.300 is also good to monitor after you get your 20m rig set up. If you can't hear anyone then maybe it's time to move the ant or check all connections. I want to put an APRS rig on my bike but I don't have a handheld data rig, just mobile ones. I still might just put it in the tank bag. My mobile APRS is setup for slipseat operation from back when I could work.
I've been an extra for 38 years. There is FAR more to the hobby than 2m and bike to bike comms...
Amateur radio is NO substitute for a SPOT and (more importantly) a PLB.
While none are perfect, the best dirt bike to dirt bike communication tool I've found is an inexpensive BaoFeng radio (my group uses the UV-82HP), extended antenna and a helmet mic and speaker kit (from Rugged Radio or the like). Picked up this idea from a bunch of SoCal guys while in Baja. This isn't for chatting or communicating with or through a repeater but simply bike to bike. As someone else mentioned already, one of the limiting factors with this setup is helmet noise; at higher speeds the wind noise makes the speakers almost useless. You can tell that someone is talking but almost impossible to decipher what they are saying. I use the earbuds from Rugged that include hearing aid quality speakers. This reduces wind/motor noise while providing clear radio transmissions. It has a push to talk button that attaches to your handlebars (or your body).
If I was starting from scratch in terms of communication/gps equipment I'd look hard at the Garmin Rino. It has a high powered radio built in and everyone in the group (that has a Rino) can track each other's location on their gps units.
For the road bike (or big adventure bike) I use the Cardo PalkTalk. It is still limited by road/wind noise but I simply disconnect the speakers and run a set of inexpensive noise cancelling earbuds (Mee). A little finicky but cuts almost all the external noise while delivering low volume audio from my riding partners while listening to music in the background.
Yeah.. This is exactly what I'm talking about and why I'm down on HAM. Who wants to pack all that around on your bike. I love the "could enable" in that last sentence.
This is why it stays home now.
Carry a SPOT and a PLB. Forget HF.
If that's the way you think, fine. If I was going out in the boonies I'd be happy to pack a small HF rig along because of it's much better potential for calling for help. Rigs have gotten smaller and smaller in recent years so it is not unreasonable as far as I can see---but to each his own.
By the way, "ham" is not an acronym---it's an abbreviation for an old telegrapher's term for "ham-fisted" novices that didn't know how to send code well. Amateur radio operators became known as hams from there on.
Amateur radio is a hobby. It is not a safety of life service.
Apples and oranges. There is no point being "down" on amateur radio.
If you want to chat to other amateur radio operators, fine. Just don't depend on it in an emergency.
Wife's grand father and father were both hams. They both built their radios. Started with Heathkits. Her grandfather designed and built his own 20m power amp. Her grandfather used his 20m rig to communicate with his buddies across the US (when long distance calls still cost extra). He did other stuff with his 160m rig, usually trying to reach distant places. Her father built his first color TV with a Heathkit and used to 'talk' to his dad when he was stationed overseas (he was in the Navy). Her father also would help out at the MARS stations every now and then.
I used to save the copes of 73 magazine cause I was building my own computer. They had a lot of stuff on the 'new' digital circuits.
Back in those days it was the challenge of trying to communicate over long distances. Yep, these days you use facebook or twitter.
So, yeah, seems HAM has changed.
I think that's great you enjoy mixing the two hobbies together. I like to pack a nice digital camera still myself. So I'm packing Cell phone, InReach, Garmin Montana, and a Camera already. There just isn't a spot in my tank bag for something that in my personal experience* becomes almost useless outside of the metro areas.
I think adventure riders should know the realistic side of HAM as you've pointed out. If people are looking at it as a means to call help or communicate with other riders I suspect they'll be very disappointed.
* Note: I have never messed with anything beyond 2M or deployed additional antenna in trees.
I use to camp all the time in the White mountains and Adirondacks. One of my favorite things to do was to talk back to CT or other stations on 40 meters with less than 5 watts. I use to backpack with a Yaesu FT817 and small battery and wire antenna. No handheld but easy enough to transport on backpacking trips and get messages back to family.
I've been eyeing these FT817 for a long time. So many features packed in a small package. You don't happen to be selling yours?
Nope. I have one of originals. I had to do a mod to get 60 meters. The new ones include 60 meters out of the box. It has been a great QRP radio. While I haven't used it much lately, I am pretty sure I am going to be doing more with retirement coming up. I also have a FT857 for a little more power at home. I use to also be into APRS which was very cool in the day. My boys when they were smaller used to go online and I made a url called "wheres dad" and they could see on a map where the truck was. This was around '99. They thought that was pretty cool. They are a great rig though. Been very happy with mine.
Oh, and anything on HF QRP. Without question. If it absolutely, positively, must get through. Look at PSK31 or some of the newer similar modes. Very, very cool stuff. Loved working on that mode even better than voice. Don't even need a computer anymore to run those modes. Your smartphone will work as the interface to the radio.
I've used an 817. Good little radio.
My brother makes right fine antenna. Check his work here: http://www.mrcoily.com/
He lives in Salem
resurrecting this as I finally got my ticket (only took 45 years). The same great mountain roads around LA seem to be ideal for an 818 (new version of the 817) and a dipole or loop in the pannier. Today we hit a couple of peaks (one off-road, the other paved) and just did some listening on 2m/70cm. The wife and I have started doing "motopicnics" with some folding chairs in the pannier, adding a radio to the mix will keep me entertained. The wife is content to just take in nature
I have an InReach but likely will sell it and instead go with a PLB and a radio. I know the radio isn't a primary emergency tool, but could work in some places. I never used the InReach features (texting, etc), so a PLB seems to make more sense for the SHTF situation.
I have the 817 and would use it back-country camping in NH and talk back to CT. I have thought about using it on my motorcycle trips but usually just don't have the room for all the electronics. I did use to have a good time with it though. I especially used to like to use PSK31. Great mode.