Need trail comm advice

Two Buck

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Apr 28, 2009
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276
Location
Sherman Oaks, CA
A buddy of mine is doing the TAT on his motorcycle and I'm going to chase him in my truck over the Mojave Trail in California. I figure we should have some kind of communication in case we get separated or have an emergency. I was thinking of getting a pair of handheld Baofeng radios but not sure if that's a good solution or if there's a better way to address this.

Can anyone make some suggestions?
 

Izzyandsue

Izzy
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Oct 31, 2014
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Charlotte, NC
Amateur radio is your answer, get a Technician license and you will have all the range and and repeater contacts. For truly remote areas and emergency, Garmin InReach is my choice, both SOS and can send text via satellite.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
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386
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Palo Alto, California
GoTenna is a good text-only option for trail comm. A group of them will automatically form a mesh network. You could for example mount one on a pole on a hill overlooking an area and it will automatically work as a repeater. Some people have reported that in clear line of sight situations, you can get many miles of coverage.
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
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Location
Carson Valley, Nevada
We use 5w handhelds (2m) all the time for trail communications... generally works without issue though sometimes nice to have a better antenna (mag mounts work fine but are prone to getting knocked off by low hanging branches).
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
74
Location
Appleton Wisconsin
For what it is worth going the HAM path is not that difficult. There is a test but it is much easier than it was years ago. It only cost $15 to take the test and provides much more flexibility and choices in radios.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
386
Location
Palo Alto, California
For what it is worth going the HAM path is not that difficult. There is a test but it is much easier than it was years ago. It only cost $15 to take the test and provides much more flexibility and choices in radios.
While this is all true: test test is easy and inexpensive...it's much harder to get everybody on your trip to get a license.
 

ChaseTruck

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Joined
Apr 4, 2006
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1,943
I hold a HAM as well as a GMRS license. Using 8- and 5-watt handhelds, we've had clear communications over ~10 miles in a roughly line-of-sight situation (from inside of moving vehicle to living room), and we've got ~2 miles range in more corrugated terrain, with good signal at elevation, and no signal in the dips of the terrain.
Comms using e.g. a mobile 50W 2m HAM radio via repeaters is a different deal altogether.
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
74
Location
Appleton Wisconsin
I hold a HAM as well as a GMRS license. Using 8- and 5-watt handhelds, we've had clear communications over ~10 miles in a roughly line-of-sight situation (from inside of moving vehicle to living room), and we've got ~2 miles range in more corrugated terrain, with good signal at elevation, and no signal in the dips of the terrain.
Comms using e.g. a mobile 50W 2m HAM radio via repeaters is a different deal altogether.
I will check but I thought you had to be under 2 watts for a non licence GMRS. Also I believe the GMRS licence only applies to family so everyone other than family needs a licence and that is not likely either.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 28, 2015
Messages
74
Location
Appleton Wisconsin
Yes I did check and here is what I found.

FRS radios will now have 22 channels: These expanded capabilities now include usage of channels 8 – 14, and previously GMRS only channels 15 – 22, in addition to the existing FRS channels 1 – 7. It is important to note that each FRS transmitter type must be designed such that the effective radiated power (ERP) on channels 8 – 14 does not exceed 0.5 Watts and the ERP on channels 1 – 7 and 15 – 22 does not exceed 2.0 Watts. Part95 – eCFR. Any radio above 2W of power is now classified as GMRS radio: and still requires a license from the FCC to operate.
 

Two Buck

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Apr 28, 2009
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Sherman Oaks, CA
Me and my buddy decided to scrub the Mojave Road trip due to suicidal temperatures this weekend, so no need for radio comms after all. We're riding up Highway 1 through Big Sur instead.

But now I'm planning on getting my Ham license, so that will be on the table for future trips. Thanks for all the advice, y'all.
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2009
Messages
5,316
Location
flat earth Midwest
GoTenna is a good text-only option for trail comm. A group of them will automatically form a mesh network. You could for example mount one on a pole on a hill overlooking an area and it will automatically work as a repeater. Some people have reported that in clear line of sight situations, you can get many miles of coverage.
The record comm link right now for a goTenna Mesh is 61 miles, ground to air. That was done before the recent firmware update to the 5.0 version considerably improved networking by it's new 6 hop capability (up from the previous 3 hops). Dharma Dude is correct about the advantageous effects of mesh. They work really well in trailriding (or hiking) where a group gets spread out, because the messages are repeated along the line until they get to the recipient. Even when already paired to a phone, when not being used to send or receive, the GTM also acts as a relay. The more out there together, the better it gets.

I'm building a mesh network right now here in my home town and hang around the goTenna Mesh forum, so if anyone has a question I'd be happy to get you an answer. I use one on the 80 that works great with all the roof to work against.

Meshmobile1_IMG_2039.jpg

The cable is for power only, so the truck is on the air 24/7 wherever it goes, thus acting as a relay. The radio is controlled by the app on your phone via Bluetooth.
 
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