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Thread: Overly simple question, what bands do you use when away from civilization?

  1. #1
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    Overly simple question, what bands do you use when away from civilization?

    Looked through the last three years of posts on the forum, didn't find this question, so figured I'd ask.

    When I had a radio in my car years ago I generally operated on 2m, but the car never left the city and my friends at the time that got me into the hobby also operated at 2m. My radios at that time were 5W HTs. I'm considering radios for both my '15 Frontier and my wife's '15 Renegade Trailhawk, principally for dealing with problems when out on trips and for operating with licensed friends when doing multi-vehicle trips. I've personally never made contact with anyone over about 60 miles distant, though admittedly at 5W on 146.520MHz.

    What bands do you personally use out on the trail, and where in the country is this? I'm principally interested in the SW United States and possibly up into Colorado, Utah, and the Pacific Northwest, but it would be good to know if there are any regions where one band is popular versus others, plus the conditions. There are a lot of radio choices both in the older manufacturers that were popular when I first started and in new players with cheaper radios.

    Admittedly my operating skills are novice, I've never used repeaters or code, just person-to-person contact.

    Thanks,
    KD7RJC

  2. #2
    4x4 Ham Member AC0VH's Avatar
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    If the question is what single band radio to install the answer would have to be 2m. That's easily the most used here on trails, for simplex and repeaters. There's a little 70cm done. I use 70cm because the HTs & antennas are small. I have an FT-857 and ATAS-120 that I had in the old truck for a while. I replaced it with the FTM-350 because dual band 2/70 and APRS were more useful than HF while mobile.
    2008 Toyota Tacoma - FTM-350, NMO2/70

  3. #3
    New 4x4 Ham Member Gstrunk's Avatar
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    Good morning. I’m new to this myself, but installed a Yaesu FTM 400XDR in my Rubicon. I liked the separate control head mounted above my mirror and the space saving radio under the passenger seat.

    i ran across frequency use discussions here. It’s dated and I don’t know how official it is, but it would be good for state band plan folks to make this more “official”. http://www.4x4ham.com/showthread.php...requency-list&

    73’s

    KE0PHM

  4. #4
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    If multiple bands are popular that's OK, if a multi-band radio with the right frequencies exists then I would go that route. The dual-band 2m/70cm or the tri- or quad-banders, or even possibly the radios that cover nearly all modes and bands would also be acceptable, but if say, 6m and 10m are almost entirely unused then it doesn't make sense to spend the money for a Yaesu FT-8900 if only 2m and/or 70cm are widely used.

    That's why I'm looking to get a feel for what members themselves use, because sometimes common knowledge isn't accurate. Someone might repeat that they've heard that 220MHz is popular on the other side of the country but they've never used it themselves. Would rather know what they actually use.
    KD7RJC

  5. #5
    4x4 Ham Member AC0VH's Avatar
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    I doubt there's justification for an FT-8900 because it only does FM and that's surely one of the least used modes on 10m. On 6m it's probably of some use, but that's not a heavily used band normally. It comes to life with solar cycles, though. I guess the question is what are you trying to accomplish here? If it's just trail communication a 2m radio is all you really need. If you're going to experiment and be a ham then the world's your oyster. Me, I decided a dual band 2/70 with some APRS capability is all I needed hard mounted but I can go portable HF if the mood strikes. But I'm not really a mobile HF enthusiast so that's been sufficient. I do have a CB installed, which is sort of a fall back within 4WD circles.
    2008 Toyota Tacoma - FTM-350, NMO2/70

  6. #6
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    Had a couple of FT-8900. Never really used 10M or 6M. Just not much traffic on those bands. For Trail communication most people use 2M with some on 70cm. If you want more bands get something like a FT857 and pickup all bands and modes except 220. I have a 857 with a selection of ham sticks in the jeep but frankly never really need the HF it is just fun to play with. 2M is where is spends most of the time.
    Leonard Pennock (AD7AS)
    98 Cherokee 4x4 Yaesu FT857, 06 Ram 3500 4x4 Kenwood D700/Yaesu FT857
    Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.

  7. #7
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    Makes sense about 2m and 440MHz for local. How about for reaching distances, like if one is broken-down in the middle of nowhere? Going to admit that I have no idea if repeaters make it easier to get help, haven't used them yet. This is new territory (quite literally in the backcountry) for me.
    KD7RJC

  8. #8
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    If you are going to try for help using HF you need to realize that your help may come from clear across the country since most HF favors sky wave. There is a case of a guy breaking down on the Alaskian highway and it taking a relay via one of the lower 48 (might have been Oregon.) As you go up in frequency the chances of local help are reduced so in general 40M is the best band; however, the bandwidth on a hamstick is pretty low on 40M.
    Leonard Pennock (AD7AS)
    98 Cherokee 4x4 Yaesu FT857, 06 Ram 3500 4x4 Kenwood D700/Yaesu FT857
    Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told regardless of what is right.

  9. #9
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    Part of why I originally never bothered to upgrade from my Technician license back in the day was the Morse code requirement. I see that Technicians are limited to CW on 40m, so looks like I'd have to learn that if I wanted to operate there or else study for and pass to upgrade to General.
    KD7RJC

  10. #10
    4x4 Ham Member mcallahan's Avatar
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    I'll echo a few other comments here - 2M when I'm out in the sticks, 70cm in town.
    Matt Callahan | K7MFC.com

  11. #11
    4x4 Ham Member AF7JD's Avatar
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    I'm really partial to the VHF/UHF dual band rigs for trail use, especially here in Arizona where we are fortunate to have so many great mountain-top antenna sites which have a wide range of repeaters covering both bands (and often linked). With a quality dual-bander, it becomes more of a question of which band provides the best signal from your current location at any given time, if you need help.

    I do also have an HF radio in the rig, but as AD7AS shared in his post, your signal will be very unlikely to land anywhere close nearby if local help is needed. However, getting up at the higher mountain elevations (especially 5,000-7,000 feet), the DX becomes quite fun! It's also got some advantages with the near-vertical transmission pattern, in that being surrounded by mountains doesn't necessarily prevent you from transmitting out a good signal and being heard.

    Bottom line: If just simplex, then definitely 2m on 146.52. HF is also fun without the need for a repeater within range, but with a good dual-bander and any repeater access available, I'm hard-pressed to decide which one works better between 2m/70cm in AZ.

    Good thread!
    Last edited by AF7JD; 01-13-2018 at 03:21 PM.

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