Emergency use of HT while Backpacking

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by N6SRT, Jun 4, 2015.

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  1. KK6RBI

    KK6RBI Ham Member QRZ Page

    + however many on picking up a Baofeng and punching in local repeaters and the ranger frequencies. The probably use repeaters within the park that aren't on Repeater book. I know of at least one Forest Service repeater (solar/battery powered) just north of Ramona, Ca that is not listed in any book or website. I assume they use that for their official communications.

    Also pick up a roll up J-pole and you can string it up in a tree and greatly increase your range if you need too. Weighs next to nothing.

    On another note you can always split the cost of a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) with the group, I think some places even rent them. Those will get out when nothing else will since they use the COSPAS/SARSAT system.
  2. KE5KTU

    KE5KTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm planning a hiking trip to Devil's Den state park. I plan on taking my Ht as well. I am told that cell phones don't work well. What I did was contacted the ham radio clubs in the area and have asked them for local repeaters that are on the air and monitored (popular). I don't view my HT as a catch all, as I intend to take a pack with much of what I will need in it, the HT is just another tool in my toolbox.
  3. KV3D

    KV3D Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. NC5P

    NC5P Ham Member QRZ Page

    There ought to be some mountaintop repeaters in that area with good coverage. I'd really be careful about getting on Federal frequencies if you are not authorized, even in an emergency. Often mountain repeaters are linked so there's very good chance someone will hear you. I have found 2m more useful in remote areas than 440. An FT-817 with rolled wire dipole will get you on HF if no line of sight. Yes, it's QRP but that hasn't stopped anyone from making contacts on it. I used it inside a bedroom which is worse than anything outdoors.
  5. N5PZJ

    N5PZJ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are repeaters in Porterville and Little Lake areas around the area. I carry a X1M QRP rig for HF!!! Works for me!!
  6. K8ERV

    K8ERV QRZ Member QRZ Page

    Several years ago there was a story about a hiker that found a badly injured ranger on a trail. He used the ranger's HT to call for aid.

    They raked him over the coals for unauthorized use of a park radio. I don't remember how it worked out.

    I wouldn't want to be the next ranger that needed help.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  7. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would also be very reluctant to pre-program frequencies and tones to transmit out of band. I've been a ham for about 40 years, and I have yet to be confronted with an emergency that would require transmitting out of band. I suppose you can write them down for use in case of emergency, but by pre-programming them, you always run the risk of having the thing get stuck on transmit.

    Remember, even though I suppose you can transmit out of band in case of emergency, it is not legal to test it prior to the emergency to see if it will really work, whether you have the right tone, whether the repeater is functioning, etc.

    A much better plan would be to determine which amateur repeaters you can access, and even set up a sked with a local ham who will listen for you at pre-arranged times. A 911 call from a ham reporting the emergency by phone will probably get you faster service in an emergency than a radio call from an unidentified radio claiming to have an emergency.
  8. NC5P

    NC5P Ham Member QRZ Page

    That ham on the phone is extremely valuable. I have been a ham on the phone and also called for help on 2m. A few weeks ago a ham in Phoenix called in help for another ham at a motorcycle crash site in the desert where no cell coverage existed. Our service does work, just give it a chance.
  9. N4EGA

    N4EGA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Something I don't see mentioned here is ability to transmit a signal at a distance.

    I used to go out backpacking quite a bit. I had a FT-60 just like you and actually had a FT1DR as well. Have gone out with a FT-817 too. All 5 watt radios.

    5 Watts on 2 meters is good to go, unless you are deep in a valley / canyon. A good rubber duck antenna is better than the supplied unit, but still somewhat limited.

    I had taken an arrow directional antenna and it was hit or miss. East Tennessee is very hilly and some of the repeaters were one the other side of hills from me so I was not getting into them even though I was pointing at it. Don't always assume you will be on top of a mountain to make a contact.

    I have seen the pocket j-poles this guy sells on ebay. Very small and very lightweight. I never used one of those, but it looked like it would be a great thing to have. A little bit of coax and string it up in the tree and start scanning for some activity. I am sure that if you went ChiComm radio, it would work on it as well out of band. Perhaps some high SWR, but as long as you kept is short, you would be good to go.
  10. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm surprised nobody has brought up the "Wilderness Protocol". Google for more detailed info, basically try to monitor 146.52 for at least the first five minutes of every hour, and if you have an emergency, try calling during that five minute slice. I'm not sure how many people are using it these days, though. Won't hurt to quickly throw out your call on 146.52 and see if you can contact anyone.

    Of course, when you're in the wilderness, be aware that you can't summon help and expect it to arrive within five or ten minutes, no matter what kind of communications means you use, so be careful to avoid needing help. Better to have the radio than not have it, unless having it makes you take bold risks thinking you'll be able to call in the helicopters on a moment's notice.

    I second the recommendation for a roll-up J-pole. The ones that Edison Fong sells aren't expensive, and work well both on 2m and 440. If you really want some range, a little handheld folding yagi like those from Arrow or Elk will allow you to work distant repeaters, as long as you have a reasonable path and know where to aim the antenna.

    I also encourage you to stay within our ham bands. You can legally bring up repeaters, and check that your communications system works before you need it that way. And you can use your antennas and transmitters which are optimized for the ham bands. At the very least, try the ham bands before venturing out of band. Remember that the rule which allows you to transmit out of band in an emergency only applies if no other means of communication is available, and you can only verify that the ham bands won't work if you try them.

    There is some serious terrain in Sequoia. From the bottoms of the deep canyons, you may not be able to get a signal out much of anywhere. From the ridgetops, you can probably reach multiple repeaters covering the Central Valley. Try to confine your emergencies to the times you're on ridgetops.

    Finally, I'll put in a plug for HF. A little qrp rig on 40m during the day, or 80m at night, with a wire in a tree, stands a very good chance of reaching the Central Valley, or Los Angeles or San Francisco, from almost any spot in Sequoia, via NVIS propagation. No worries about mountains; send the signal straight up and let it bounce down a couple hundred miles away. If you don't yet have the equipment, license, or skills to take advantage of this, so be it, and stick with the FT-60. But consider adding HF capability to your bag of tricks for a future trip.

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