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Author Topic: Airband Tx?  (Read 4734 times)
BENHA
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« on: December 18, 2006, 09:13:47 AM »

As an end-of-year 'life review' item, I'm doing a little work to improve my emergency preparedness situation.

One of the things that occurred to me as I was scurrying around putting firestarters and a jacket in the trunk of my car was that it would be nice to upgrade my HT to a unit that, _only_in_an_emergency_ would be capable of broadcasting on airband frequencies to summon help.

Line of sight to a passing airliner seems a lot more reliable than finding someone in my area on 2m or 440.

When I started looking into this, it doesn't seem there are any good options.  The only radio I could find (a Vertex) is discontinued and gets pretty crummy reviews.  Everything else seems to be capable of being modified  for Rx, but not Tx - which doesn't help much if you're stranded.

Before you start:  two radios is not the answer I'm looking for.  I want to cut down on weight / volume / hassle.  I understand the legal issues, too.

Anyway, before giving up, I thought I'd see if anyone out there knows of a HT I didn't find that would solve my problem.

Thanks!
-Benha
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2006, 09:57:37 AM »

First, there has to be an airliner passing over - then you have to be on the particular en-route frequencie(s) they are currently using.  There is also the possiblity that you are near enough to an air traffic control facility or tower that you could use the approach, departure or ground frequencies.  Or, if you are near enough to an uncontrolled airport there is always the unicom.  Of course you could just simply transmit on the guard frequency and get yourself into a huge amount of trouble.  Perhaps there are no radios that can do this because it is such a bad idea?
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BENHA
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 10:45:18 AM »

If I'm stranded in the middle of nowhere in a huge amount of trouble, I'm less concerned with getting myself INTO a huge amount of trouble, and more concerned with getting myself OUT.

I'm guessing James Kim would happily have suffered the wrath of the FCC, the US Military, the AOPA, the FAA, and a swift kick in the butt from George W Bush himself, to be alive and safe with his family, instead of lost and dead in the mountains.

From my perspective, it's never a bad idea to equip oneself to stay alive.  If you know and respect "the rules," choosing to break them only in a true Mayday situation it seems to me you're not hurting anyone.

Just a thought.


-Benha
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2006, 12:45:49 PM »

Benha, you missed the point - Are you going to carry a list of aircraft frequencies for the region you are traveling in or just a bundle of en-route, WAC and high altiude charts to check for frequencies.  This ain't as simple as fire up the rig, key up, yell MAYDAY and someone sends the cavalry!  You have to send on a frequency where someone is listening.

I suppose you could also carry a few PSB and trunking radios, a marine radio, CB radios, and anything else that MIGHT be useful.

If you are serious about being able to get help you may have to spend some bucks for something like this:

The McMurdo Pains Wessex Fastfind Personal Locator Beacon alerts rescuers in an emergency. The personal location beacon signals a satellite which notifies rescue services and transmits a 121.5 MHz signal that searchers can use to home in on your position. Never be too far from help with the McMurdo Pains Wessex Fastfind Personal Locator Beacon.

    * 121.5MHz homing frequency allows rescuers to find exact position
    * Battery life of 24 operating hours and storage for 5 years
    * Sleek and compact design
    * Complete with lanyard and designer carry case
    * User replaceable battery packs available in -20º C and -40º C/F
    * Comes with -20º C battery pack
    * Perfect for boaters, hikers, campers, fisherman, and skiers
    * Comes with ourBestPrice Shopping Guarantee

LENGTH: 6 in.
WIDTH: 3 in.
DEPTH:
With -20º C battery pack: 2.1 in
With -40º C/F battery pack: 2.4 in.
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2006, 01:09:05 PM »

If you will be in a wilderness area and want a distress signal you don't want a 2m ham rig, you want an EPIRB.

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/gmdss/epirb.htm
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BENHA
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« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2006, 03:03:21 PM »

Now those are interesting.  Expensive, but interesting.

Thanks for the heads up.
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2006, 05:12:18 AM »

A Globalstar sat phone costs less ($695) than most public safety portables, and is very affordable if you have a genuine need for it.

http://www.bestglide.com/globalstar_info.htm
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K2GW
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2006, 07:11:38 AM »

Since the advent of ELT's with their high false alarm rate, most airliners no longer routinely listen to 121.5 MHz.  A personal locator beacon (an ELT or EPIRB for hikers) to activate the SARSAT system is your best bet.

73

Gary, K2GW
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W7ATC
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2006, 05:12:08 PM »

aside from the radio you mentioned (vertex spirit 700) I don't know of anything.


As for the idea of carrying an air capable radio, It's not as bad as others make it seem.

Center freqs usually cover a pretty large area, especially out west. With 2 or 3 programmed in, you can usually hear a plane every few minutes even off peak.

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KC9EIZ
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Posts: 11




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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2006, 07:22:10 PM »

I own 2 of the VXA-700 and the reviews do not even come close to the actual capabilities of the radios - in short they have been given a bad rap by what I perceive as a group of “malcontents” who either don’t want aviators to have amateur capabilities or amateurs to have aviation capabilities - the 700's are very, very sophisticated instruments that are not your run of the mill HT’s - several weeks ago a pilot I know called me while flying at 34,000 feet 150 miles from my home on his HT with the standard “rubber ducky” and after 30 seconds of conversation cut his power to .5 watt and we spoke for another 3 minutes - not only James Kim but the person in the Utah badlands who had to cut off his hand and countless others who would have / could have benefitted from the ability to call for help - I’ll take a chewing out from the FCC or FAA over losing my life..........
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WW5AA
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Posts: 2086




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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2006, 10:06:41 AM »

Anyone can transmit anywhere if it is a true life and death situation. No rules violation! I routinely work 2 meters from my hand held at 5 watts in my Piper Tomahawk (photo on QRZ). Two to 300 miles at 10,000 feet is not uncommon.

73, de Lindy
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KB1LKR
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Posts: 1898




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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2006, 01:46:17 PM »

Infinitely superior, at least on this planet, would be a Manually activated 406/121.5 MHz PLB (personnel Locating Beacon) essentially a land based EPIRB, preferably w/ GPS. It communicates w/ satellites on a 406 Mhz and has a 121.5 MHz homing beacon.

Note though:
Under federal law, 14USC88, knowingly and willfully transmitting a hoax distress call is a felony. It is punishable by up to six years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution to the rescue agency for all costs incurred responding to the distress.

Also:
If you purchase a new or a used 406 MHz EPIRB, ELT or PLB you MUST register it with NOAA. If you change your boat, your address, or your primary phone number, you MUST re-register your location beacon with NOAA. If you sell your beacon, make sure the purchaser re-registers the beacon, or you may be called by the Coast Guard (EPIRB), Civil Air Patrol (ELT) or local Search and Rescue team (PLB) if it later becomes activated.

SARSAT Beacon Registration
E/SP3, Rm 3320, FB-4
NOAA
5200 Auth Road
Suitland MD 20746-4304



 
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KE4DRN
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Posts: 3734




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« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2006, 10:03:09 AM »

hi,

easy for things to go from bad to worse very quickly.

for daily use, you can't beat your 2m ht with an
external antenna (or your mobile radio) and a current repeater journal or arrl repeater guide.

You could hit a repeater and your chances of getting help would be a lot better then using avation bands.

Even the newer handhelds that cover CB bands are very reasonable and small in size for the car or backpack.

if I ever decide to climb a mountain then I'm bringing some experienced climbers with me and a sat phone.

you are right about extended reception, that is the easy part, tx out of the band specs for a radio is harder to do with the way these radios are designed and built today.

73 james
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W7STS
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2006, 03:57:23 AM »

I routinely carry an airband when in the back country of Arizona.  Being a pilot, it was easy for me to justify.  Also being a pilot, it gives me the knowledge to know what freq's are likely to be in use, however, in a real emergency situation in a place where I wasn't sure of the Freqs, I would let the radio scan for a while, and when I got a hit, I'd give that a/c a call figuring it's line of site.  It shouldn't take more than a couple tries to get a response.

I am not sure I want the bulk of an ELT is, and frankly, for me, the justification is that I would want to carry it in my flight bag anyway.  

A dual purpose VHF/FM and Airband seems like a good tool for anyone with enough common sense to operate it.

73's
Rick Aldom - W7STS
Arizona Section Emergency Coordinator
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KC8VWM
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Posts: 3121




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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2007, 08:40:43 PM »


If you are serious about an emergency communication radio then there is no reason why you shouldn't try to make the most out of your intentions and maximize on your success rate of making a contact during an emergency scenerio.

Personally I would forget about using a 5 watt HT and rubber duck on the Airband frequencies. I would rather pack a fully capable and compact DC to Daylight HF rig like an FT 857D that is capable of transmitting 100 watts into an easily deployable ready made antenna wire. You don't need to blast out 100 watts to achieve communication either, but it sure is comforting to know that the capability  is "there" if you need it.

FT-857D:

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamhf/0857.html

The whole thing would fit nicely inside a camera bag, waterproof ammo can etc. and is about the same size and weight as many marine grade EPIRB's or even some sat phones.

Sat phones are nice but if it's a particularly dark cloudy day, then connectivity can sometimes be unreliable. this was demonstrated in many instances during Katrina. It was reported that Military satphones didn't always get through.
 
HF on the other hand would propagate signals a 1000 miles away regardless of the weather during situations when VHF transceivers would be dead in the water.

As far as a portable power source to operate the equipment is concerned it wouldn't be much different than an HT or sat phone really. A small SLA battery, a homemade wiring harness to connect to an available car battery (even when half dead will work) or maybe you can make it real elaborate by including a roll up solar panel in the communication toolbox for increasing your operating time.

Many options are available. I just wouldn't limit yourself to using one particular band or limit yourself to an EPIRB or other similar device. Sure these devices "work", but it sure is nice to actually "talk" to someone to inform them of your position and/or explain your predicament. Signal locator devices can take days in some instances.

For example, I think if I were stranded on a desert island scenario Smiley I would want a full compliment of communication capabilities at my fingertips.Probobly would cost that much more money when compared to other "limited" options in the long run either.

Also don't forget to pack other "visual" signalling devices. A battery operated strobe a smoke signal, signals flare etc. would help people "hone" in on your specific position when they get close.

Lot's to consider, the important thing is to think it through and you won't become a victim of yourself.

73 de Charles - KC8VWM
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