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Road trips in desert southwest

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by KJ7UBV, May 21, 2021.

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  1. KJ7UBV

    KJ7UBV Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    So I've got another noob question here. The family and I take many road trips from Vegas that take us along some pretty lonely stretches of highway with no cell coverage for hours at a stretch. I've pretty much decided that I'm going to purchase an Icom 5100 as my primary radio. My question is, what's good "SOP" when on the road? I like the built in GPS and repeater database in the 5100. Do most folks monitor 146.52? My obvious concern is being able to reach someone incase of emergency or mechanical issue. I started thinking about this while on a drive up to Ely, NV where we had no cell coverage for about 90 minutes and didn't see another vehicle the entire time. Any thoughts or tips?
    KO4ESA likes this.
  2. N8AFT

    N8AFT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do what you would hv done 25 yrs ago before all of this stay in touch technology...
    Save yer money, no one will hear u on 146.52
    Better chance with HF out thar... Time to upgrade?
    AA5LS, KO4ESA and KJ7UBV like this.
  3. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    One tip: continue your General class studies and then get an HF rig. You can usually find some one local to assist if necessary on HF.

    Forty meters during the day, there are a couple of nets up at the top of the band that literally run all day. At night, coast-to-coast is usually possible. I ran mobile most of 1990 going up and down I-5 from central California to western Washington.

    I had VHF, UHF and HF in the truck. Never got any responses on VHF/ UHF. Got lots of contacts on Forty meters and up while mobile. Even tho I had repeaters programmed for the entire trip, hardly ever even heard anyone on them.

    HF? Totally different.
    AA5LS, KO4ESA and KJ7UBV like this.
  4. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you are really concerned about emergency communications, buy an Iridium satellite phone.

    In 85000 miles around the western states, I had only a dozen QSOs on 146.520. usually near populated areas.
    KO4ESA and NX6ED like this.
  5. KL7KN

    KL7KN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I had VHF coverage for most of NV when I lived/worked there - but then, it was on the USAF MARS repeaters.

    You can do pretty well with 25 watts, a 5/8 wave antenna and per-loading the repeaters into memory.
    KO4ESA likes this.
  6. AI7PM

    AI7PM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lots of repeaters on peaks covering the Great Southwest. I've yet to find a place I couldn't get on one, excepting some mountain valleys.
    KO4ESA, N0TZU and KJ7UBV like this.
  7. W7HV

    W7HV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Something like a Garmin Inreach satellite communicator is another type of option. Also good for hiking, backpacking, and cycling off the beaten path.
    KF0FWM, KO4ESA and N0TZU like this.
  8. KD4UPL

    KD4UPL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Around here (Virginia) a lot of people monitor 146.52. I have 146.52 along with 146.55 and 146.49 in my memory bank and they get scanned thru quite regularly along with the other local repeaters. The problem is that monitoring and scanning don't generate contacts. Somebody has to make a call. When a QSO does get going on simplex it seems like lots of people jump in. It's getting it started that is hard. If you, or anyone else, called for emergency help on 146.52 around here I'm fairly certain you would get a response. I don't know what it's like out west. I've never been west of Arkansas or Minnesota.
    KO4ESA likes this.
  9. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Things west of the Mississippi are far different than they are east of the Mississippi. Here, we can literally drive an hour or more between cities. In some places in the west, it can be hours and hours between any "civilization". Given the long distances, simplex does not work as well as it would in more densely settled places.

    That's why my suggestion was to go for HF not VHF. In the places where the OP wants to travel, it's no guarantee that any repeaters will cover those places. HF of course, does not depend on relays so I consider it a better place to begin.

    Others have their opinions... Having lived "back east" once or twice, I can say that I really prefer the wide open places in the west. Would not live anywhere else!
    AA5LS, KO4ESA, G0CIQ and 2 others like this.
  10. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Owing to the favorable terrain of high peaks and surrounding plains, many repeaters in the SW and Rocky Mountain states have tremendous coverage. They are often linked into systems that cover most of a state or more, and so are more likely to have use and listeners. These are the ones to use while traveling, for notations of “wide area coverage” and “linked” in the ARRL repeater book or online databases.

    But even these have few people using them compared to 20 or 30 years ago. There’s no guarantee that anyone would be listening to hear your mayday call, and that’s particularly true at night. I’m told that some repeater groups have organized listening people to address this problem, but who knows how reliable that might be when and where you need it.

    For reliable communications in remote areas for a 911 type emergency, the aforementioned sat phone, or sat communicator such as InReach or Spot are a better choice in my view. Those communicators are monitored 24/7 for emergencies have a number of nice features, and InReach also has two way texting which allows you to describe the emergency. All have monthly charges but the communicators are pretty reasonable.

    Another option is a personal locator beacon (PLB) which has no monthly cost. But these only send a standard distress call and location to the satellite and no other info. There’s no way to differentiate between say a heart attack and a disabled vehicle.
    W5ESE, KO4ESA, KJ5T and 1 other person like this.

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