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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

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    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

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    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.

  11. #11

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    It seems that this thread is taking the turn I did not want or intend, but I am not surprised that it is because of the way these forums usually work.

    The difference between an "emergency" and a "disaster"? Really? Say I come up on an accident where a UTV has crashed into the front of a vehicle (just actually happened really) and the UTV driver needs to be life flighted out due to head trauma. That is not a "disaster" or an "apocalyptic situation" & I know that, that is am emergency. It took 45 minutes to get to an area where there was cell coverage to call 911. But would you really complain about it if the ham was used to save someone's life, and that means mine also. If the ham radio could have made contact to get help, that would have saved 45 minutes.

    For my own personal safety, I talked about the incident on the mountain. Was it an emergency? Not yet but it could have been as there was only one access to where I was, snowed for 3 days straight up there. I was not prepared to ride out a mountain snow storm for 3 days in the truck at 10,000 feet especially after the truck would run out of fuel and loose my source of heat. Is that a disaster? No, but it would be to my family. Is that an apocalyptic situation? No, but it would be life changing to my wife. It was close to becoming an emergency but you say I can't use the HAM to call out because it's only an emergency to me? Really?

    Now I know that most American have no clue as to what it's like to be "in the middle of now where" and there is no actual way to describe that unless you've been there. My shop is 2 hours from the nearest hospital and there are times I am 100 miles farther out, off the beaten path to go rescue someone.

    Like I also have said, the ham operator here in our area has 8 of these radios and he does go out in these remote locations and he does know how far he can talk with the repeaters we have in the area. I am sorry, but I am going to listen to the guy who has done it down here and knows what he's talking about (regarding the distance his radios can reach) over other experts who have not been in these kinds of situations or in this type of environments (city slickers).

    And like I have also said, I am going to get my license for the ham. There is no doubt on this. But, until then, it will be an emergency option only. Not a flat tire or lost keys. Those are only emergencies to city slickers. lol

    Food for thought also..... In an "apocalyptic situation", who do you really think is going to care or even enforce the laws regarding having a HAM license or not. hmmm Probably not the zombies. haha

    Thanks for the responses guys. Love all the input. Still studying for the test.

  12. #12

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    I have bought all the stuff and plan on it for emergencies only. I really don't have the time to sit around the radio to "chat" with others around the nation.

    If these radios can save one life out there, they will be priceless in my eyes. No grey area there. I'm not going sit there and ponder whether it's an emergency or not when it comes time to call out. License or not.

    Have a great day everyone

  13. #13

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    good luck. Hope it is all academic and you never really "need" the radios.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Obed View Post
    good luck. Hope it is all academic and you never really "need" the radios.
    Amen to that. I don't like the emergency situations when they happen and I do hope this is money wasted in that aspect.

    But, when you stop learning, you stop living.

  15. #15

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    I think you'll be fine. Carry on.

    From someone who gets it.

  16. #16

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    The one thing you have missed is that ham radio is often a good performer not for technical reasons, but because of the skill of the operators in being able to hear things others cannot. You train you ears and brain and you can understand things other people cannot. Ham radio only for emergency operation means you won't have these skills. You might also not be able to interpret how a signal sounds and move your vehicle ten feet improving the link, if you cannot differentiate what you are hearing. Ham radio is also very condition specific. You put out a call and might have somebody in Italy answer, yet somebody on a few miles away from you will not answer. People may also have language barriers and of course, some people sadly will NOT get involved in distance emergency comms. They might hear your emergency call, but not answer, hoping somebody closer will. The number of calls hams put out that are NOT answered is huge.

    Ham radio is a hobby. Hoping to use it for emergencies is foolhardy. Would it not be cheaper to invest in a satellite phone - one on a use only deal would surely be ideal. A system virtually guaranteed and directed to anyone you wish?

    If you are totally uninterested in the self-training ham radio gives you, then frankly, I doubt that it will work for you. If you wish to become proficient in radio operation by becoming 'expert' in it's use, it makes sense - but to buy a complete system for emergency use only to me sounds a bit crazy. Earlier on we were talking about the legalities. People have been prosecuted in the UK for misuse of radio. I am not aware of any genuine emergency use ever causing issues. However - if your emergency was a flat tyre, I cannot see any licenced ham considering answering you to be a legal use of radio. Some good samaritans probably would, but will there be enough of them in range? I doubt your FCC would consider action Wirth the bother, so that side of it probably doesn't matter - It's just an unreliable emergency medium, comms wise.

  17. #17

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    You call my actions foolhardy and afraid I will be talking to someone in Italy. HAHA Again, I do not plan on being on the radio like you "Hobbyist" do. I am implementing them for emergencies only. And yet we have another cry saying that a "flat tire" is not an emergency. How many times do I need to make this fact clear. geez.


    I thought about the satellite phone idea. They start at a cost of $1500 and go up. They also have a monthly service plan that needs to be paid for. Then they also are "pay by the minute". That is a huge up front expense, a reoccurring big service plan and then a costly method to call out. All said and done, that is a huge expense for an emergency situation that may, or may not happen. For the tune of less than $600 I got 2 radios, antennas, power source and everything needed to call and receive in the emergency scenario and there is no monthly charges.

    Lastly, I have stated several times I am going to get certified. I don't have the time now in my life to become a "proficient hobbyist" but I also don't want to break the law either.

    Plans are to have a base station and one in the truck. In that emergency situation, I would call the base station where my wife would be the specific destination for the distress call. I wouldn't be calling out into thin air hoping someone is listening. Besides, our "Search and Rescue" services in the area do utilize the ham radios (They are not Hobbyist by the way) also and in an extreme situation, I can call their dispatch for rescue services and give them the coordinates where the emergency is located. Yes, I have the frequencies needed.

    Thanks for the worries but I am getting it all set up and have talked to the proper authorities regarding my plans. Have a great day

  18. #18

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    You totally misunderstood - the point with trying too use ham radio is that it is simply poorly setup for emergency use. Lets say you have a genuine emergency - that $1500 is cheap if it saves a life. If you call and call on the ham bands, with no knowledge - the chances of a response are very small. cellphones assume no operator skill, ham radio assumes quite a bit. Mode, channel, specs - what use is VHF upwards - if you n' get a cellular signal, then there will be far less hams in the area too. In an emergency situation, would your wife be on the end of the radio? How would she know when you were going to be in trouble, even if there is a path between you - and if there IS a path, then why not get proper radios with proper licences and get out of the ham band. In a real disaster, as we've said - hams help. If you call for help for something not a genuine emergency, nobody will answer! I just don't see how people think that ham radio is better than commercial radio? If you pass the test, don't intend to be a ham, and only want the kit for emergencies that's great, assuming the equipment will do what you want, and the two of you have the skills to make it work. I have business radios in my vehicles and my family could use them - but my wife has trouble with technology - I cannot think that this system would work for us. Hopefully your wife is more technically minded.

    I'm amazed you have emergency services who have ham radio for non-ham use by unqualified operators. I thought the FCC were quite tough on this? Our OFCOM certainly are. I think the international rule on using radio frequencies for emergencies links the word emergency to potential for loss of life. You and your wife could get licensed, ignore all the other hams and chat quite legally about pretty well anything - that's cool if you want to do that - but it's not very reliable is it? Does she know when you are going to have the emergency, or will she be elsewhere and not hear your call?

    With callsigns you are legal. Without them, it must be an emergency situation. Only you can tell if it works, but as we're a ham radio forum, we're interested in ham radio - your scenario just seems to be very strange. If you operate in a small area, I can see it functioning, but the range is going to be quite small, so is it worth the risk? I'd get the sat phone if safety really was the question - costs per minute would not be an issue, because it's for emergencies, when the money is well spent.

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