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Author Topic: Ham radio in the deep remote woods.  (Read 3915 times)
N8YX
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Posts: 1346




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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2018, 08:46:02 AM »

<snip>
40 and 20 meters are generally active in this propagation cycle.
<snip>
I'd look into something that can transceive on both of those bands plus 30M.

If you're looking for stateside and Latin America DX, don't discount 10 in the summer - what with all the Sporadic E.
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W8JX
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Posts: 13268




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« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2018, 05:06:58 PM »

Do not bank on 10 m....
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
N8YX
Member

Posts: 1346




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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2018, 06:02:26 AM »

Do not bank on 10 m....
I've been banking on it every day during these summer Es openings.

Openings aren't global in scope, but they're there. Sometimes good enough to allow QRP work with a mobile antenna.
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WB6BYU
Member

Posts: 18396




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« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2018, 10:04:47 PM »

Quote from: KD6OJG

I guess which antenna to use would be the next question.




No, the FIRST question is, "Who do you want to talk to?

Everything else depends on the answer(s) to that question.


For communication among members of your own party, VHF likely will be the best
choice.  While 6m (or even 10/11m) may provide better propagation over rolling
hills, the low efficiency of shortened antennas for hand-held use reduces its usefulness,
and 2m may be a better choice.  Use the best antenna you can: a quarter wave
flexible whip is much better than a shorter rubber duckie, and a whip mounted
on a packframe is even better. I had quite good results with a half wave whip
made from an old mag-mount CB antenna with a 36" radiator when I was hiking
into wilderness areas with Search and Rescue.  (The same approach could be used
on 6m.)  I put the HT in a pocket of the pack and used a speaker mic.  If using
the radio hand-held, put a quarter wave ground radial on it.  Telescoping antennas
are too fragile (learned that the hard way):  a Nitinol whip can be rolled up and put
in your pocket, and still straighten up when needed.

Also take a roll-up J-pole or similar antenna that can be elevated in a tree to
provide better coverage.  This is handy at a base camp to talk to members in the area.
You also need to be aware of propagation, such as climbing up a hill to get a better
signal.  (While working for the Forest Service in Alaska, I used to climb a 30' spruce
tree at the end of each day to call the helicopter to pick us up.)


For checking in with folks back home, the best band depends on the distance to
be covered and the time of day.  At 50 degrees latitude, 40m won't be open for
short distances as much during the day as it is in California, especially as we
approach the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  We often need to use 80m during
the day and 160m at night if you are planning to work stations in Seattle or
Spokane.  On the other hand, 40m might be good during the day to Northern
California, but you might need 20m to Southern California.  At night those
might change to 80m and 40m.

A good reference is VOACAP (www.voacap.com), which gives you forecasts
for the HF bands vs. time of day between any 2 points.  You can vary the power,
antenna, and modulation type to get a better sense of the trade-offs.

Another option might be WinLINK, a digital system that allows you to send
emails via whatever band is open to one of the nodes, whether that happens
to be 80m to Montana or 15m to Hawaii.  There is added complexity: you need
a computer and modem to use it, and there is a learning curve, but it is
popular for being able to pass traffic even when there is no current path between
you and the destination if getting a message through is the objective.


For general hamming, the choic of bands depends on your operating preferences.
I Halley to like rag chews on 40m, but others may prefer longer distances on
20 or 17m.


For HF I generally use dipoles.  With #22 stranded insulated wire and RG-174
coax it makes a small package.  I have a center insulator on the end of my coax
and dipole wires that I can add in any desired combination each time I set it up
for maximum flexibility - that lets me change bands without climbing out of the
tent in the dark/rain/whatever to change the antenna.  A link dipole, where you
connect links to set the antenna for each band, is also popular:  you can arrange
to add a loading coil across one of the links for lower bands.

While verticals are popular for portable operation, they don't work as well
over the volcanic soils of the Pacific Northwest due to the low conductivity.
Even among the 200'+ trees, however, don't expect to get your antenna up
more than 20' or 30' unless you have a clearing to string it across.  This really
is rainforest, and stringing antennas is not always an easy task.

And don't count on topping your battery off with a solar charger while on
the trail unless you know that you will be in an open area.
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RENTON481
Member

Posts: 275




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« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2018, 06:38:13 PM »


While verticals are popular for portable operation, they don't work as well
over the volcanic soils of the Pacific Northwest due to the low conductivity.
Even among the 200'+ trees, however, don't expect to get your antenna up
more than 20' or 30' unless you have a clearing to string it across.  This really
is rainforest, and stringing antennas is not always an easy task.


If you look at the area mentioned by the OP on a satellite map (Picket Range, North Cascades) it's not really rainforest per se, it's very glacial in areas. Looks like the high Alps. Quite remote.
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WB6BYU
Member

Posts: 18396




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« Reply #20 on: June 28, 2018, 06:02:37 AM »

I was probably imagining Olympic National Park instead...  but he did say "deep woods".

It does depend a lot on the specific area you are going:  on the East slope of the Cascades
the forests aren't as thick, and at higher elevations you may have to prop your antenna
up on a walking staff or a convenient rock.  The 1/2 wave 2m whip mounted on a pack frame
becomes more practical where you don't have overhanging branches (mine tended to knock
the dew off overhead branches and down the back of my neck in the mornings) and you may
have 2m coverage to repeaters in some areas due to the elevation.

At least solar recharging is more practical when you are in the sun.


But the main question still stands:  choice of bands and equipment totally depends on who
you want to be able to talk to, and the required reliability of that communication.
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KG4RUL
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Posts: 3354


WWW

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« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2018, 06:14:25 AM »

But the main question still stands:  choice of bands and equipment totally depends on who
you want to be able to talk to, and the required reliability of that communication.

That is the whole thing in a nut shell. 
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KD6OJG
Member

Posts: 69




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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2018, 02:25:49 PM »

Thank you to all who replied.  I went into the hospital for a procedure and forgot about my post and making one last reply.

Someone mentioned my question was not specific enough and I guess I was thinking that there was a short answer for HF communications in the woods - maybe several bands that people typically use when they are out in remote areas.  Also mentioned was the use of a vertical antenna but I was thinking of a wire dipole for 20 and 40 meters.

Anyway, thanks again and if I do this thing I will definitely let all you know.
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W8JX
Member

Posts: 13268




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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2018, 03:08:38 PM »

40 and 20m has a poor ground wave. VHF would work better.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
ONAIR
Member

Posts: 3730




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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2018, 10:20:04 AM »

40 and 20m has a poor ground wave. VHF would work better.
  Good point!  A portable beam could also increase VHF range significantly.
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KL7CW
Member

Posts: 556




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« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2018, 10:31:54 AM »

If you have a multi band transceiver, coverage of the SSB and CW portions of the band can be very effective in some situations.  In many parts of the country 80 meter CW activity is nearly non existent.  However 75 meter SSB nets are very common.  In Alaska, for example, the SSB nets usually listen for CW and QRP signals each night, and someone always manages to copy a weak CW signal from somewhere.  Occasionally I fire up a one or two watt CW rig on a compromise antenna and check in....always has been successful.  Have not tried it lately with low sunspots, and suspect that 75 meters may not support NVIS after sunset reliably.  A less than 10 watt SSB signal may also work.  I have used low antennas, mostly laying in the bushes, etc. …. not ideal but they may work.  75 meters could be one item in your tool kit along with some of the other suggestions.  I suspect, but do not know for sure that the 75 meter option may be more appropriate in areas in the eastern part of the country where there is much more activity within a very few hundred miles, compared to parts of the west where distances are measured in many hundreds of miles.  I do not have extensive experience on 75 meters, but believe it will at times give good coverage out to perhaps 100 or 200 miles with QRP and or compromise antennas, but may not be the best option for much longer distances.
                 Rick  KL7CW
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