+Criminal Posted July 27, 2010 Share Posted July 27, 2010 (edited) Ham Radio for Geocachers\Hikers Several years ago I decided to get my amateur radio license so that I could have a more reliable method of communications while I was out hiking. As I began to enjoy the peacefulness of solo hikes, the radio became even more valuable. The radio has proven itself essential during group hikes as well, as I’m sure TotemLake would agree. I thought I’d put a few of my thoughts down here in case anyone was considering ham radio for hikes or pretty much anything else, and to try to dispel some of the common myths around amateur radio. I’m not going to get into too much detail since it’s easy enough to use a search engine and find the information. Also, I’ll only discuss the Technician Class License, since that is all you’ll ever need for hiking or geocaching. Getting the license is easy and inexpensive. You have to pass a 35 question multiple choice exam. The test questions are taken from a pool of 396 questions (current number of possible valid test questions). It’s really not terribly technical or difficult to pass this test! Just scroll down to the list and you’ll notice several chuckleheads (myself included) who have passed this exam on the first try. Trust me, you can do it. There are several websites that will randomly choose 35 questions and create a practice exam and automatically grade it for you, free of charge. You just keep practicing with the online tests until you’re confident that you can pass the real exam. There is no Morse code requirement anymore, so don’t sweat that. Taking the test will cost you around $20. The radios are not terribly large, heavy, or expensive. In fact, there are several small handheld ham radios that are just as small as those (often useless) FRS radios. (The Yaesu VX3R comes to mind) Obviously a bigger radio will have more features and often more transmit power, but neither is absolutely necessary, especially if your hike includes summits. Both TL and I spoke to a ten year old girl on Mercer Island while we were climbing around on Big Hump! That’s over 40 miles away and without the use of a repeater. I’ve made a radio contact from every summit I’ve been on (when I brought the radio) over the past few years. People are out there and willing to talk, provide directions, or call aid for you if something bad should happen. Don’t or cannot hike? If hiking doesn’t blow your kilt up, or you’ve suffered an injury/illness that has you sidelined, you can always keep tabs on the hikers from wherever you happen to be. We would welcome that! Just keep an eye on the forums and if you see a hike (or cache machine even) announced, just ask what the radio plan is. Then keep your radio with you during the day and listen for us calling. W7WT did that while we hiked Big Hump, and it was great to know he was there listening. Other benefits of ham radio. During national emergencies, being a licensed amateur radio operator means you can communicate or monitor communications while everyone else is scratching their heads. Hurricane Katrina was the latest emergency that left large pockets of people without any way of calling for help or getting emergency information. Your earthquake/volcano kit will be more complete with a small radio and spare batteries. Here’s a list of Washington geocachers (that I know of) that are licensed. If I’ve missed you please let me know! W7WT “W7WT” TotemLake “KE7MDT” Ironman114 “KF7AWY” LindaLu (She just sent me an email and I can’t find it!) K7-Wave "K7WV" JHolly "NK6L " Criminal “K7XFE” EDIT to add. EDIT to add. Edited July 28, 2010 by Criminal Quote Link to comment
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