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Thread: Unique circumstances???

  1. #1

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    Default Unique circumstances???

    Good morning everyone! I know this may raise a few eyebrows in the Ham radio world but I will try and describe the best I can and I am always open to constructive suggestions if they are needed. his may be a little lengthy and i do appoligize for that, but I just want to give the full spectrum of the situation.

    The situation:
    I live in remote southern Utah and run a small repair business that is expanding into the towing aspect of the business. I have set up a truck to do these extreme off-road rescues (jeep roads as an example) and just recently had a customer that turned my eye towards going with a Ham radio. Now, saying remote Utah, this means my shop/home is 2 hours from the nearest Wal-mart or hospital via the hwy. On some of these extreme rescues, they go even deeper into God's country to the point of being 100's of miles from any town and needless to say, cell phone service is non-existant. Yes, those kind of places do still exist. lol

    The customer in question needed rescuing due to a truck breakdown. It was in the mountains at 10,000 feet and we had a storm coming across the ridge. It started to snow. I was alone with my service truck, a trailer and the customers truck on the trailer. Road was getting slick and was having to winch up the road in a few spots. It really started to make me think seriously about communication to the outside world in these extreme remote locations.


    The customer is a ham operator and he put the bug in my ear about becoming licensed to be able to have such communications and that is what has led me to this forum. First thing, I don't want to break any laws or take away any prestige of being a ham operator. I have been told by a couple guys the test isn't that hard, so i am starting the process to become licensed but I still have a few concerns.

    1. We have a local ham operator I talk to and he informed me it is not illegal to own a ham radio or to use it unlicensed if it is an emergency situation only. This is the entire reason I am looking into getting licensed anyways. Any thoughts on this?

    2. I would have search & rescue & the police frequencies loaded but, in an emergency situation, how illegal would it be to call a base station at home (on a remote frequency) and inform the wife (she's not interested in getting licensed) of the situation I would be in. Nothing chatty, just the emergency situation.

    3. I took the advice of the local operator and ordered a pair of icom radios and everything needed for a home base and truck mounted equipment. Any information or reccommendations for a newbie is always appreciated.

    4. The local operator also mentioned a business class for the ham radios. I failed to ask more about it, but being a business in the "search & rescue" field, what are the regulations regarding that? I haven't found much info regarding that scenario.

    Again, I am going to go get licensed and don't intend to use the ham for commercial use. Still a lot to learn and I'm sure many other questions will arrise, but I'm sure, with a little bit of searching, I can find the answer on this forum.

    Thanks for any comments or reccommendations!
    Dave

  2. #2

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    Be careful of using ham radio for anything even remotely seeming pecuniary. That aspect is strictly prohibited. Now, without knowing what Icom radios you bought, I can't begin to be helpful; meaning, if they're HF radios, then you could have some issues with being too close depending on band, time of day, and so on. The antenna configuration known as NVIS can alleviate some of that, but... Now if we're talking about VHF/UHF radios, that opens a whole 'nuther batch of issues. While you were informative, we will need to know what you have to be more helpful. But, the whole thing with running your business over ham radio won't work. However, nothing wrong with using it to call home and say you're in a bit of a sticky wicket or something. Your wife will need to be licensed if you plan on her talking back to you with the radio since licenses are operator driven and not station driven. I hope this makes sense and I'm smarter heads than I will chime in with additional good information. Welcome to the service/hobby/fraternity; get that ticket!

    Oh, while you (correctly) lamented the fact that a cell phone is easily out of range, ham radio is radio too and not always a sure fire circuit. In a mobile situation, antenna is key. Might I suggest you look over this site to try to gain some more insight on mobile ops. http://www.k0bg.com/

  3. #3

    Default

    to echo the point just made, there is NO SUCH THING as a business class ham radio. There are business radios and licenses, but that has nothing to do with ham radio.
    We would need to know what radios you have purchased to know what they are capable of. It is true that ham radios can be used by anyone without a license in a true emergency situation, stranded by a flat tire is not an emergency situation, a life threatening issue is. I hope that the ham who put the bug in your ear had some personal knowledge of you and your desired communication and steered you to radios that are able to do what you need to do.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the reply guys.

    Apparently I didn't make it clear enough. My mistake guys. Sorry about that. At no point am I going to try and promote or do business over the ham radio. It would be for emergency situations only as my business can (and has) put me in such remote areas where there is no other possible way to get out a distress call in case of an emergency. Like I said in my first post, I live 2 hours from the nearest hospital then I have been called to retrieve a vehicle 150 miles farther out into the wilderness. This last recovery just about landed me stuck in a 3 day snow storm on a cliff road at 10,000 feet elevation. I would have deemed that an emergency. No, a flat tire is not an emergency. haha.

    The radios I bought are Icom IC-F121, which is a UHF/VHF radio. The base antenna for the house is WORKMAN MODEL: UVS-200 which is dual band 144/440 and 100" in length. The antenna I ordered for the truck is a DBJ-1 dual band and 6' in length.

    It is said that there is no such thing as business class ham radio. Shopping antennas, I ran across antennas that are labeled "commercial frequencies" which are 152-157 MHz and 460-470 MHz. Of course I imagine that these are for first responders and emergency services and not businesses.

    I am going to get the license to avoid the legal hassles, but until then, it will be nice to have a piece of mind having an option to call out if absolutely needed. I know it won't be a guaranteed signal out there but it's more of a chance that what I currently have, which is nothing.

    Looking forward to the new hobby and thanks again for the response guys. More responses/recommendations are always welcome.

  5. #5

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    I do have to say that this being moderated in the beginning is kinda frustrating. lol. I do understand why it is done and I seen the stats at the bottom of the page, but my post from yesterday still has not been posted as of yet, almost 24 hours later. Has me wondering if it even went thru or if it even got posted in the first place. Can't find any trace of it at all on the website

    So, I am studying to get my license and while doing so, I am also looking for answers to my questions regarding the business aspect of the situation. I know that any kind of business dealings is strictly prohibited from being advertised over the HAM radio. But, once I get my license and get assigned a frequency (that is what happens, right?), can I put that frequency on the business card as contact info for non-life threatening emergencies or rescue contact? Like I said in the original post, I don't want to break any laws.

    I do understand that ham radio is for amateur radio users (not saying you don't know your stuff at all ) and not commercial and I don't want to intertwine the two. But most people who have never been out to this part of the country don't realize how remote, or small, they can be compared to the back country and we get a lot of them out here that are not prepared. As a service provider in these type of situations, I can say I am excited about the ham radio and getting the license for the main reason that it may be a lifeline for an accident I may come across in a back country while doing another rescue. Came across one a few weeks ago where an UTV driver had to be life-flighted after a head on collision with a truck and they were 125 miles from any type of civilization. Later found out that his skull was fractured in 3 places and still in ICU.

    There seems to be grey areas that I have questions for. I'm sure there will be more to come later on.

    Thanks for the responses!

  6. #6
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    When you get your amateur radio license, you are authorized to transmit on various BANDS of frequencies (you don't get "assigned" one; that would be for other services). It would be up to you to determine what frequency on which band would work for you at what time of day and during what times of the year.

    You will learn the amateur radio bands that pertain to whichever class of license you hold. You will also learn which modes you can use on which bands (AM, FM, SSB, etc).
    73
    Pat K7KBN
    Semper ubi sub ubi.

  7. #7

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    well, considering the distances you are talking about, realistically the vhf/uhf radios you have and the antennas you have, are not going to cut it for you. These are line of sight type radios and most often used in conjunction with repeaters. if you have varied terrain with any mountains that can restrict distance even more, I would guess that the most distance you can get reliably will be 25 to 35 miles. That is likely better than what you have available to you now, but at the distances you spoke of they will be just about useless.

  8. #8

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    I have been talking to the HAM operator here in town and he has informed me of the repeaters we have in the area and with the same radio I have ordered and similar antenna he can reach a minimum of 70 miles in any direction and up to 120 to the north without any boosters on his radio. It appears that we do have the infrastructure here in the middle of nowhere for these frequencies. I do know they are line of sight radios but I also realize that lower frequencies "bend" a little more and do allow for little more wiggle room. Even if I have to get to a location where there is a line of site to a repeater, that is still a better chance than the cell phone to reaching out in an emergency situation.

    Loving the information guys. I'm studying some every morning and working towards the license. I'll get there.

  9. #9

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    In today's world where everyone wants everything free, cheap and easy, in the long run, the ones that actually wants to become a ham, gets a license and associates with other people that also wants to be an active ham, not just a person that got a license in case stuff happened and they needed a cheap / easy way to communicate with others.

    The answer is - how can we explain to others what it is that we do when we operate our amateur radio equipment!

    We need to break down to the most fundamental level to explain the difference between an emergency and a disaster.

    A disaster is what happens to someone else, while an emergency is something that happens to ME!

    Is what happens to me an actual emergency? Maybe to me, but not to others!

    As long as there is someone listening on the other end, amateur radio works. However, our radios are not allowed to operate out of band, hence you can listen to any radio service that legally allows you to listen, but you cannot use a FM UHF or VHF radio to contact others on those radio services - since we as amateurs are not licensed to operate on "Their" frequencies..

    The term - use any available frequency means - if you are stranded in an apocalyptic situation and found an abandoned police car with a working radio, we could use the police radio to call for help.
    Once we called for help, our emergency comes to an end, unless the person on the other end needs more information or needs something from us.
    This is how the term - use any frequency available to us to call for help!

    Being 100 miles from anything, the only thing that will work will be HF, probably 40 or 75 meters phone, which will require an even greater investment on your part, both in passing two exams and buying a more expensive radio / antenna and a more expensive install on all of your vehicles you plan to use while mobile.

    The Technician Class License Exam only permits you to go so far - 10 meters HF, and that is about it.

    The only other option would be to perform a phone patch modification at your repeater site, which would allow you to operate 3rd party, allowing you to call home - ET...

    Most repeater owners abandoned phone patches when everyone went to cell phones, is too much of an expense just for one person.

    So is there a way? Yes; Is it cheap? No!

  10. #10

    Default

    Here, and I believe in the US, genuine emergency calls can be made on any system available to you. For instance, in a distress scenario you could grab a marine radio and call the coastguard. Yours won't really be genuine emergencies though, will it? It will be important or urgent stuff - if somebody breaks down or they lose their keys, that's not going to cut it with the authorities. Practically - if you choose an out of the way frequency, and use it rarely, I doubt anybody would even notice - illegal of course. This seems an ideal use for network radio - you could call in an emergency on any of the public groups and somebody would relay your emergency even if they were in a remote part of the world. Legal, and more effective. Let's face it - if you are outside an area covered by cell towers, you're unlikely to find any radio network that works any better. If there are people, there are cells. Ham radio or commercial radio can give coverage but somebody would have to fund it? If you run out of cellular coverage, then I doubt you'll find ham radio works either.

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