Radio for hiking/backpacking

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  1. #1

    Radio for hiking/backpacking

    I'm looking at a pile of portable radios in my technology junkpile and it occurred to me, should I bring a portable walkie-talkie type radio along? This came to mind since where I will be there is certifiably no cell phone coverage. Suppose the situation is grave. So I have my whistle and signalling mirror. Would it be useful to summons help with a PRS, CB or some other type? I am not a HAM/Amateur. I suppose I'm out of range at five miles.

    Now suppose I'm down and out and a rescue party comes looking for me. Would having the radio be helpful at that point?

    If this is true, what's the best type of radio to have and what channels are appropriate? Do search and resuce have pre-established channels/frequencies?



    Can't seem to find any info on this matter by trolling around the web.
    Sent from my TACPOD (Tactical Airborne Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Pod) using Satellite TADIL J Alternate Gateway Controller (Alternate STGC) via Blackjack

  2. #2
    Lostone's Avatar
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    That is an interesting question and I'd like to have people listening somewhere but a further question would be, if you have a radio, what channel do you try to raise someone on?

    If you have CB, it might be better, but most of them are really bulky. There you would have a slightly better chance looking on 19. (9 is the emergerny channel, but I doubt anyone knows that, let alone monitors it.

    In the winter, at Sugarbush, they monitor 9-11. But I've stopped carrying my GMRS as, if there was someone there, I wouldn't know where.

    Shame, as it would be handy.
    .
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    Look! Up in the sky!


    .

  3. #3

    TTM

    OK, I'll talk to myself.
    I've figured it out, based on further research and discussion.

    Cell phone is best, if possible.
    Bring a radio for 2 reasons:
    1. One more lifeline if cell phones don't work.
    2. Put it in scan mode to listen if anyone else is hailing for help. Stuff it in your sack. Shut it off if there is yick-yack.

    On hailing a distress call.
    1. Try first on frequency 462.6750 (channel 20 on Motorola) try first without elliminator/squelch/CTCSS codes = off. This was the original attempt at an Emergency channel.
    2. If this doesn't work, try above with ellimiator code of 22 (141.3 HZ).

    3. If this doesn't work, try Channel 1, no elliminator code. There is an effort underfoot to change the calling channel to 1.

    Pain, huh? CB channel 9 was much simpler! If you're a HAM you have more choices.

    Method is important.
    Regularly try to hail for help - a call every hour on the top of the hour is the most common.

    Leave a note with someone somewhere as to what channel you will be on.
    Sent from my TACPOD (Tactical Airborne Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Pod) using Satellite TADIL J Alternate Gateway Controller (Alternate STGC) via Blackjack

  4. #4
    I myself have been thinking about getting into HAM radio

    Last weekend me and the GF did a quick overnight in the monroe state forest. 1 mile in camp and 1 mile out

    Was a good time but realized there was no cell service for roughly 30 mins in al directions. Kinda made me think. I wish there was a universal Emergency chan on the radios like 911. I might get a license but dont even know who the hell id call if i got into an issue. Blaaaaaaaaaaah
    11/13/2009 Killington
    11/22/2009 Sunday River(joke)
    12/5/09 Killington
    12.11/09 Killington
    12/13/2009 Mount Sunapee
    12/17/09 Wachusett Night tripp
    12/19/09 Killington
    12/20/09 Killington
    12/21/09 Killington
    12/28/09 Killington
    12/31/09 Pico
    1/1/10 Killington
    1/2/10 Killington
    1/3/10 Killington
    1/4/10 Killington
    1/5/10 Killington
    Ok i lost count!......

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by automagp68 View Post
    I myself have been thinking about getting into HAM radio

    Last weekend me and the GF did a quick overnight in the monroe state forest. 1 mile in camp and 1 mile out

    Was a good time but realized there was no cell service for roughly 30 mins in al directions. Kinda made me think. I wish there was a universal Emergency chan on the radios like 911. I might get a license but dont even know who the hell id call if i got into an issue. Blaaaaaaaaaaah
    I'm a ham (have been since 1989 or so) and would recommend this mode of communication over all others. The two-meter band is probably best as the radios are small, lightweight, and with some creativity with antennas have a really nice range. And unlike CBs there's usually a decent contingent of other hams monitoring the airwaves at any one time.

    With any type of communication method, your location will be key to you successfully making contact with someone, but overall you stand a good chance of being able to reach a repeater or someone on the nationally recognized simplex call frequency, 146.52 Mhz especially if you can get to a place with some elevation. I used to tote my 2m HT (handy talkie) with me wherever I hiked, and have made contacts in the off hours just to kill time. From the summit of Monadnock your range is probably on the order of 50-70 miles to a repeater using 2 watts of output and the little rubber antenna that came with the radio. On the flip side I had a heck of a time reaching anyone while transmitting from the bottom of the Great Gulf on Washington with my wire roll-up antenna hanging in a tree. I think you could reach the Mt. Greylock repeater from Monroe, and that machine tends to have a fair amount of traffic on it.

    For what it's worth, ham licenses are pretty easy to get these days. It does require some study of the material, but a couple of weeks (or even a weekend if you're a quick learner) of reading and going through sample questions can prepare you for the exam. And it's good for life as long as you keep the license current.

    Smitty
    You have to do the hard things in life sooner or later. -- Earl Hickey's Karma Guide

  6. #6
    hi smitty

    Thanks for the reply

    I have been reading lots online about this and really want to pursue this. If not for hiking seems like it would be fun to play with. So ive been using the site online called www.hamtestonline.com to help me study and get ready for it. I went to school electrical engineering so it does not seem that bad. Looks as though i may go for a technicians license in the near future.i found some local Volunteer examiners. Ive also been looking at some yaesu ht's i found a few which look pretty tuff and waterproof. If you have any suggestions let me know. Thanks again!
    11/13/2009 Killington
    11/22/2009 Sunday River(joke)
    12/5/09 Killington
    12.11/09 Killington
    12/13/2009 Mount Sunapee
    12/17/09 Wachusett Night tripp
    12/19/09 Killington
    12/20/09 Killington
    12/21/09 Killington
    12/28/09 Killington
    12/31/09 Pico
    1/1/10 Killington
    1/2/10 Killington
    1/3/10 Killington
    1/4/10 Killington
    1/5/10 Killington
    Ok i lost count!......

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by automagp68 View Post
    If not for hiking seems like it would be fun to play with..... I went to school electrical engineering so it does not seem that bad..... Ive also been looking at some yaesu ht's i found a few which look pretty tuff and waterproof. If you have any suggestions let me know.
    First, it is very fun to play with. My favorite ham activity was "field day" which occurs in late June where hams all over the country set up a portable station on emergency power (generator, solar, etc) typically away from home, and operate for 48 hours and see how many contacts they can make. Kind of like a worst-case scenario training which actually got put to use after hurricane Katrina. A lot of local clubs get a bunch of hams together and have a good time of it. There's usually a group from the Fitchburg, MA area occupying the picnic area just below the summit of Mt. Wachusett. I'm sure if you popped-in to a Field Day event someone would be glad to show you around. Some hams can be a bit on the geeky side, but most of us are fairly normal.

    You can go quite nuts with all of the ways to partake in the hobby - talking around the world on HF, locally on VHF, from mountaintops via microwave, via satellite and the international space station on VHF/UHF. Even computer modes like Packet and Radio Teletype (RTTY).

    If you have a background in EE you'll do fine. I passed my technician exam at the ripe old age of 12 and had to study out of a book as the internet was still in it's infancy and reserved mostly for government agencies and colleges. I imagine there's lots of study aids online but I have no idea what's the best one.

    As for radios - I can't offer much for a recommendations as I haven't looked at any seriously in 10 years. Yaesu has always been a good brand, my dad owned one and abused the heck out of it and it's still ticking. He recently gave it to me but right now it just sits in a drawer - not much time to use it. I had a Kenwood HT that lasted a long time before it finally quit after 10 years of hard use.

    Good luck! I had a lot of fun in that hobby and might still in the future.
    You have to do the hard things in life sooner or later. -- Earl Hickey's Karma Guide

  8. #8
    Having been the beneficiary of a rescue, I can think of a couple of good reasons to carry TWO.

    If in the event of a rescue, the party needs to split up, they can stay in touch with each other, at least for some distance. There were two instances:
    1) when during my rescue from a ravine it was prudent to whack to a peak to get a better signal, scout out a landing area or to otherwise signal for help.
    2) In the second case, one member of my party was requested to meet the SAR team at the base of the mountain. by keeping a radio with the victim & his support crew, they were able to keep abreast of his condition.

    In terms of technology, I'll leave it to the pros. I carry a set of GMRS for this reason; I would like to have a satellite transponder, but at $300-400 it's not in the budget right now.

    I did a fcc.gov database scan of most powerful gmrs radios today, and it comes down to Midland GXT1000/1050 or the Garmin Rino 520/530, both weighing in at nearly 5watt radiated, 36dbm.
    Last edited by billski; May 11, 2010 at 8:37 PM.
    Sent from my TACPOD (Tactical Airborne Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence Pod) using Satellite TADIL J Alternate Gateway Controller (Alternate STGC) via Blackjack

  9. #9
    Skier75's Avatar
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    Barrington, New Hampshire
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    Most interesting thread here. I often wondered the same thing. We now have a Delorme GPS, not that would be able to contact anyone, but also have a couple of two way radios of which I keep thinking that we should bring them on our hiking trips. Then comes the question of how much stuff is too much to bring, weight being the biggest issue...
    \"J\"

  10. #10
    a friend who is a real adventure enthusiast has a SPOT transponder and it is a pretty nifty piece of equipment. In addition to sending out the "911 - Lat/Long" message there is a method to send out a simple status "OK" and have it delivered via email or SMS. When we were out in WY/UT backcountry a few years ago, my wife really liked it. Personally, I think it's a bit of overkill here in NE if you are a 3 season hiker that frequents well-troddened paths. I typically hike with whistle, compass, sometimes an emergency bivsack (with sleeping bag if potential for cold temps), maybe a 2way walkie talkie and let someone know where I'm going and return time, etc.

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