HF Radio During Expeditions

k6uk

Adventurer
I know that many of you are also HAM operators, and I hear a lot of talk about FM 2meter radios on this and other forums. But do any of you use HF radios or HamSat when your in distant lands to communicate back home?

It would be interesting to attempt radio contact with expeditions we know are in progress via HF - either voice or digital.

-Mike
K6UK
 

pskhaat

2005 Expedition Trophy Champion
Would love to, but for the life of me can't pick up CW. I am digitally learned so it's very difficult to switch my thinking to a variable length character with meaning. I know CW is like music once you know it, but I just can't get it...
 

k6uk

Adventurer
CW Troubles

Yes I know that CW can be difficult.

It helped me to think of it as a digital format - 1s (dashes) and 0s (dots)
Getting to the 5wpm speed is all you need to do - but I know it's a pain in the neck. Once you pass the test you never have to touch it again if you don't want to - there are plenty of other modes that get the job done. I used a set of tapes to ease me into CW, they slowly introduce characters (I'm sure you know this) - all I can say is it is worth the few weeks you suffer getting through it. Like touch typing it begins to go automatic.

CW may be eliminated as a requirement in the future.
But I do recommend just going for the 5wpm level and getting it over with if you can get into it. Otherwise I'll post here if any license requirements change.

73

Mike
 

Jonathan Hanson

Supporting Sponsor
I decided to get the technician's license first, but I'd like to try for the extra rating with CW later, if only for the accomplishment. A friend has what sounds like the same tapes you mentioned, which he'll loan me.

Between HF radio, Go, welding, and fencing, there's just too much to learn!
 

k6uk

Adventurer
Here's some software...

Here's a freeware application that can help learn the code.
It's not the most user friendly interface, but play around with it and you'll get the idea. If you go lesson by lesson it will introduce you to a few characters at a time. You can also have it send a text file, or customize it in a lot of ways.
Hope it helps.

http://www.morsecat.de/


-Mike
K6UK
 

UncleChris

Adventurer
I would love to start using an HF rig, but the General license is standing in my way. I got Gordo's Code CDs and was studying them pretty hard, but other things got into the schedule. I did pick up one of those MFJ code practice gadgets that will throw code at you and then the letters on the screen. Pretty cool little device.

I was thinking it would be pretty cool to get out on the Sierra crest, throw up a wire and see what you can get on HF.
 

k6uk

Adventurer
Indeed!

It seems like Ham Radio is such a natural match to expedition travel - not only because of the unique locations you can operate from, but also just on a practacle level. Being able to communicate when you're in the middle of nowhere is a pretty great thing.

I am considering starting a website/radio-club specifically for off-road and expedition enthusiasts. Maybe we could schedule testing and classes to correspond with other off-road events.

Amateur Radio doesn't have the following it once did - cell phones and the internet have impacted it's popularity. But for off-road enthusiasts, radio is still a mainstay of communications.

Now back to the Morse Code thing... keep in mind 5wpm is pretty slow - it's really not that hard. On top of that, you don't have to copy 100% to pass, you have to answer questions about what you heard. So study for a few weeks and you should be able to pass.

-Mike
 

asteffes

Explorer
I think many, if not most, of us here view amateur radio as a tool and not so much as a hobby. I can totally respect those who are interested in it as a hobby, but the reason you see so many Technicians and not Generals in here is that 2M/70cm radios do what we need them to do: provide a reliable, accessible and more useful alternative to CB. It takes a serious radio enthusiast to want to sit down at the HF rig at the end of the trail and pound out code.
 

k6uk

Adventurer
HF is not just for "Radio Hobbiests"

I totally understand that perspective, and honestly that is my perspective as well. I like HAM radio because it allows me to communicate, but I am not so interested in making it a huge hobby. Yes, I have my Extra class license, but that is mainly due to a summer on unemployment and less about my hard core radio interest.

But just as 2 meters provides great line-of-site, and repeater operation - HF communication provides long distance communications. HF is used commercially on ships, in the outback, etc - by the military -etc.

And no, of course you won't be hammering out code when you pack it in - but you can easily talk on Single Side Band (SSB) or get on your computer and use digital modes. Even pick up email.

I'm not suggesting that we all become radio geeks - but we have access to some powerful tools that support what we like to do. Why not explore how HF could assist us when we are in the middle of nowhere.

Just a thought.

-Mike
K6UK
 

UncleChris

Adventurer
I agree that HF is a very powerful tool. Especially for those of us trying to get off of the beaten path.

A lot of people associate HF with contesting, which I think is kind of annoying.

HF is a valuable tool, which you will not be able to use unless you play with it and understand what is going on with it. Once you learn something like that, you will find many other uses for it.

I for one could not imagine hanging out on a hilltop trying to figure out code.

I could see hanging out on the Sierra crest and talking to a Ham in Kenya who runs guided trips up Kilimanjaro, or talking to someone in this forum who is on a peak in New Mexico. NOW THAT would be kind of cool.......
 

asteffes

Explorer
Hey, Chris, I didn't mean to make any fun of HF or people who like it. However, I do hear a lot of HF guys talk about contesting! My post was intended as good-natured ribbing. :p

I agree it can be fun, and I would give it a try myself if I was a General.
 

k6uk

Adventurer
The right tools for the job.

Well obviously for local communications within the line of site or with the help of a repeater, VHF/UHF will be the best choice. These frequencies are used mostly for local communications. But if you need to reach out beyond your local area - say you need to hit the USA from South America - or you are in the middle of nowhere and need help. Your 2m rig just isn't going to help you.

People are listening on HF, it is what Amateur Radio is all about - HF operations are utilized extensively during national disasters, and the ability to reach out 100s of miles beyond your location can indeed save your life.

Every band has its calling frequency - not just 2 meters - and Hams around the world will try to help a station in distress. Sure, communicating on HF is more challenging than bringing up a local repeater - but this doesn't make HF less useful.

Missionaries have been using HF radios for a very very long time to support thier operations - and so have many, many expeditions into remote parts of the world. But it does take some work, and propagation can be hard to predict .

Just my 2 cents,

-Mike
K6UK
 

lacrits68

Observer
mobile antenna that works well?

Hi all!

we are planing this: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4592

and instead of satellite phone we are gona us HF to keep in touch with home folks!
I have an Icom 706MKII and the idea was to us it during our trip/voyage
i wonder what kind of vehicle antenna is good an suitable for longdistans HF commications? Any advice in this problem?

cheers

Jan
 

pskhaat

2005 Expedition Trophy Champion
Martinjmpr said:
What about the 10m voice band? Do techs have access to that?
The way I understand it in the US with the new ruling (someone chime in otherwise?) is that Techs now have access to 10m only in SSB or CW modes. Most techs don't have a radio with SSB, thus their access to 10m will be limited unless they know CW, which if they knew CW, they'd most likely no longer be a tech ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10_meters#The_Sub-Bands
 
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