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Thread: ham vs CB

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    Default ham vs CB



    Hi All,

    I was playing with the idea of getting my folks a CB for their jeep, but I'm not sure they would get much use out of it really, its not likely they would reach someone if they needed. Ham radio would be a good choice but I don't see either of them acquiring the license for the use of one, I dont even have one though its on the to do list.

    So a CB would be something I guess, or a handheld baofeng 5w just incase of dire emergency (I know its illegal if its not emergency use), but the thought was there just to have something.

    What do you all use and how much communication do you get out of what is in your vehicle?

    How easy/ not easy would it be for them to reach someone on a repeater if they needed help in the Noco 4x4 areas?




    thank you

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    I have both and rarely use the HAM as only a few people in my club also have it. HAM is a lot clearer even for short distances. There are plenty of repeaters to where you can call down from the mountains to the Front Range. However if they do not get the license will they even know how to use it in an emergency?

    If it would truly just be for emergencies, have you thought about getting them a satellite device?

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    Michael's two questions are the two I have with your query.

    What are the recurring costs to satellite emergency notifiers these days?

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    You could go GMRS radio. Requires a license but its just pay a fee and fill out paperwork.
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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but are your folks somewhat tech savvy and/or do they have some experience with using two-way radios already? I wouldn't assume the average person could suddenly operate a ham radio especially under the stress of an emergency without some education and experience.

    It's not super difficult, but it's not super simple like dialing 911 either. Even small but unfamiliar things like the squelch and the half duplex connection, in which you push a button to talk and then release it to listen, can easily trip up novice users.

    And before that they would need to know what repeaters they might be within range of and be able to tune to the appropriate memory channel, preferably a repeater with a wide area of coverage or part of a linked system. With a Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) capable ham radio, choosing a repeater can be automatic but they still need to be within range of at least one DMR capable repeater.

    A concern (even for me) is that there may not be anyone listening to hear a distress call. There aren't many hams using the repeaters compared to 30 years ago when very few had a cell phone.

    DMR might reach more listeners because the radio could be programmed to use an enormous "talk group", making the distress call heard over many linked repeaters in a very wide area. But again the radio still needs to be within range of a DMR capable repeater.

    A satellite communicator device like InReach may well be a better choice for your folks. One button sends a distress message and GPS location to a 24/7/365 monitoring office. The device can be set to send a breadcrumb trail of GPS locations at intervals to chosen email addresses.

    Depending on the service and model, they have limited two way satellite text messaging capability as well. The disadvantage is a recurring subscription fee, but some plans can be suspended during months when it's not in use.

    -Bob (N0TZU, Amateur Extra Class ham)

  6. The Following Member Says Thanks to Bob For This Post:

    Steve-O (November 26th, 2020)

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    There is a good repeater network run by the Colorado Connection. https://www.colcon.org/

    It is monitored 24/7 and can call emergency services for you. But like any repeater network the mountains can cause spotty availability.

    If you're not really into ham already it may not be the best choice. CB has distance limitations and while a lot of off roaders use CB it will still be difficult to reach people in an emergency.

    If I wasn't already into ham, I'd choose one of the satellite services described above.
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    If you can't fix it with a hammer or duct tape you have an electrical problem

  8. The Following Member Says Thanks to derf For This Post:

    Bob (November 27th, 2020)

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    The organization that Derf alluded to that monitors the Colorado Connection for emergencies: https://co-cern.org/... in case anyone unfamiliar was curious.

    Per the colcon website, you can see approximate coverage maps for the various repeaters. You asked about NoCo, so for example The Fort Collins repeater coverage is here:
    https://www.colcon.org/wp-content/up...7/buckhorn.png

    You can see from the map that repeater coverage can get a bit spotty in the mountains. One may have to move a bit to get a signal. Connecting to a repeater requires not only the input frequency, but the offset frequency and any necessary input tones. It's not rocket science, but its not something the average person can figure out in a vacuum. You'd want to pre-program that in the radio.

    If you were stuck but not in immediate physical danger, you might be able to ask CERN to call a buddy, or to call Colorado 4x4 Rescue and Recovery if you can get a signal out to one of the repeaters. There's a good chance you might need to hike to get a signal out (assuming you have a handheld radio), then you'll likely have to wait a few hours while those folks get organized.

    You'll hear Colorado 4x4 Rescue and Recovery on the connection occasionally when they are getting organized for a recovery. They seem to make it a point to let CERN know when they head out and when they head back.

    Bob and Derf make good points. Ham can be useful and a lot of fun (got my general 2 weeks ago) but to be useful in an emergency it takes time and interest to learn how to best go about that. In my opinion CB is really only good for communication between trucks on a trail, especially with a little fiberglass antenna on a Jeep.

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    Yeah, it would be a bit tricky to make sure they know how to use a ham for emergency, the satellite messengers idea is interesting. It would seem a satellite messenger would cost yearly, not sure how much as of yet, but a PLB would be free beyond original purchase it seems.

    I'm curious how long it would take for the signal to be found and your info relayed to some authority/family with the PLB.


    Gmrs radios are just a walky talky deal arent they, Its been a while since Ive read up on them, but I recall it was kind of limited distance like CB.

    Ideally something that has as close to a direct contact as a 911 call would be optimal.

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    GMRS would be cool as a trail radio if you could get most of the people you ride with to adopt it. There are the handhealds you are thinking of, but there are also mobile radios with more power... 20 or 25 watts I believe. The antenna sizes on UHF frequencies (like GMRS) are much smaller and should be pretty easy to mount.

    The main issue that prevents adoption seems to be that people dont like paying 70 or 80 bucks for a 10 year licence... that and CB seems to get the job done for most people that already have one.

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    4x4JeePmaNthINg previously posted:
    "Yeah, it would be a bit tricky to make sure they know how to use a ham for emergency, the satellite messengers idea is interesting. It would seem a satellite messenger would cost yearly, not sure how much as of yet, but a PLB would be free beyond original purchase it seems.

    I'm curious how long it would take for the signal to be found and your info relayed to some authority/family with the PLB.


    Gmrs radios are just a walky talky deal arent they, Its been a while since Ive read up on them, but I recall it was kind of limited distance like CB.

    Ideally something that has as close to a direct contact as a 911 call would be optimal."

    A PLB doesn’t have a way to specify the nature of the emergency. They are intended for a life threatening emergency such as a boat sinking, plane crash, or being hopelessly lost in deep wilderness. The authorities are usually going to assume the worst and mount a full rescue effort (unless they have additional information).

    A satellite communications device allows a text message to be sent (or two way text messaging) to tell the 24/7 monitors, or friends/relatives, what the problem is. The response appropriate for a routine disabled vehicle on a nice summer day is very different from that needed for someone with a medical emergency.

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    Default Re: ham vs CB



    The only reason I suggestied grms is that they have more power than a cb so they will reach out further.
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