Ham Radios

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Re: Ham Radios

Post by n.bumppo » September 24th, 2014, 8:42 am

Koda wrote:
n.bumppo wrote:I have an amateur radio license and have have friends with licenses. We have used radios in the woods with mixed success. Our last attempt on Mt Adams was unsuccessful. We left for the mountain at different times and planned to connect with radios to help with the rendezvous. We did eventually got to the same campsite. We never did communicate with our radios. Handheld radios operate on frequencies that require line-of-sight communication. The hills and valleys in the mountains interfere with the radio signal.
this is something I'm curious about. Do the portable (compact) Ham radios perform much better than the typical GMRS radios in the terrain (hills and valleys)? Or is it about the same?
How far you can transmit is largely determined by power and antenna. Ham radios can do better than GMRS because you can use higher power and use better antennas. My radio is 5 watts. I have used a short stubby antenna and a "long wire" style antenna. The "long wire" performs better. Neither are sufficient for guaranteed communication in the hills.

We have found if you establish communication while you can still see each other and check in regularly with each other, they are helpful if keeping you from getting separated. Meaning you can regularly adjust your positions to stay in contact. If you are separated and want to communicate for the first time, you will have a harder time. Having you a prearranged frequency is critical. Moving to a high point helps. Having a preselected check in time is also very helpful.

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Re: Ham Radios

Post by Koda » September 24th, 2014, 10:14 am

I’ve used GMRS radios to communicate off trail with friends in the same area with great success. It sounds like the Ham radios operate under the same limitations and constraints (line of sight etc.) but at least have the option to customize the device with better antennas, higher wattage etc. it sounds like the Ham radio has the advantage here.

From what I’m reading, with a little research on finding the right unit the Ham offers all the things the PLB services do plus the ability to communicate directly in the field… especially with SAR teams looking for you. I think I’ll look more into this and maybe this will be something I can hint for at Christmas.
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Re: Ham Radios

Post by Lumpy » September 24th, 2014, 10:20 am

Many folks are simply memorizing the test answers and passing their tests to get licensed. Some clubs offer classes for the different licensing levels. Either way is fine with me.

Interesting bit of info: there are more licensed HAMs in the US now than there ever has been. The internet and smart phones is not necessarily killing HAM radio. It may be helping by making it easier to study for the licenses and being used in conjunction with HAm radio in a few interesting ways.

The FCC is not huge on cracking down on unlicensed use of amateur bands, but many HAMS will gather evidence to submit to the FCC, and the FCC takes it from there, and the penalties range from harsh to $evere. Create harmful interference, especially to a commercial service, and you have a 50/50 chance of getting spanked hard if you ignore the FCC.

Radio is hard to use in rugged terrain. As has been said, the handheld radios operate on VHF and higher frequencies, darn near all hand held radio antennas are a terrible compromise between portability and transmission/reception ability, and they don't put out a lot of power. FRS is very limited by law as to output power, antenna gain, and other little technicalities that limit its usability.

However, I have seen, and thought about, some pretty simple ways of using the metal frame of a backpack as a counterpoise to a mobile amateur radio antenna that will increase the transmit and reception capabilities of a hand held radio and not add any appreciable weight. An older external framed pack would be very simple to rig this way, but anything with a metal frame could be worked out somehow I'm sure.

Many hand held radios have optional battery packs that can be filled with off-the-shelf batteries, like AAs. This give the operator the ability to recharge easily available batteries with a small solar set up.

Small, light, low power high frequency rigs have always been popular to a small number of HAMs, and there are plenty of manufacturers that make products for people that want to be able to set up an HF radio nearly anywhere and have a shot at long distance, low power (QRP) operation. Some of these also run off of "flashlight" batteries, others use various small 12V batteries. Yaesu makes a radio that covers 160 meter through 70 cm bands and can take two internal rechargeable batteries. It's small, and I guess for what one might be considering to use the radio for, relatively lightweight. I met a couple that kayaked the west coast of Canada and part of Alaska that would stay in touch with this system, a small netbook for digital transmissions, and a solar panel set to keep it all juiced up. They were able to send and receive email in very remote locations.

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Re: Ham Radios

Post by Jailil » June 4th, 2018, 12:14 am

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