Below is a question posed on a website for wilderness canoeists, and two responses posted on that site. (http://www.myccr.com/SectionForums/viewtopic.php?t=5986
I was hoping you HAM experts could offer some advice on this question. Thanks.
Can anyone recommend a good handheld two way radio for emergency use. I sometimes canoe in remote areas in North Eastern Ont. and would like to take some kind of emergency radio with me.
I saw a RadioShack TRC-232 handheld CB radio on sale for $80. Will this be of any use? As you can tell, I know nothing about radios.
The best conventional solution for the most remote places is a satelite phone. But owning or renting them is quite costly.
The Radio Shack CB, like FRS, will be useless in true wilderness.
VHF/UHF may be usable if there are other parties in the general area also using them - like industry, aircraft etc.
I recently read an article about HAM radios (about commercial operations usurping their frequencies), which is a much-overlooked option. You can get handheld models now, and they have vast range on low power. It takes some preparation and a license to operate. Your
local HAM radio club probably would be glad to help out.
You will not find a transceiver that will be of any real use to you other than a sat phone. Even the park employees (assuming you're paddling in a park) only
rely on higher-powered mobile units mounted in the truck/boat and even then they don't have full coverage unless someone has hidden solar-powered repeaters in the treetops (it's been done). The biggest problem with
wireless communications is that it relies on line-of-sight. In a valley? Behind a mountain or large hill? No sight. From space you can push radio
frequency around the world with ridiculously little power because nothing is between the transmitter and receiver (GPS, for instance). I was in Algonquin
a couple of years ago with a couple of police-grade radios programmed to MNR and OPC and never heard a thing. In fact, at 5 watts I could not talk to our
guys on St Andrew's Lake from about 2.5k up the portage trail to Tarn Lake.
If you can throw a rope around a branch to hang a food bag, you can hang a portable antenna. Using shortwave or single side band you will have the ability to get on ham frequencies and use a morse code key to make contact with someone out there. These ham guys are always there, always listening. Mind you, the guy
listening might be South Africa, but he could always make a phone call overseas and let your family know you're stuck on Lake XYZ or something. In an emergency, it will work unless you can't setup the radio due to injury or you don't know morse code