Trail communications...HAM interest?

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Sep 23, 2013
Bozeman, MT
Hey guys! I've always been enamored with the crazy communication rigs folks put in their trucks. You know the ones, a shocking amount of antennas mounted everywhere, whips so long that need to be strapped to the front bumper even though they're mounted on the rear, more screens than one could ever actually monitor... It's all very cool and impressive but likely overkill (and stupid expensive) for most of us.
I've used CB a bit and was always throughly unimpressed. Bad audio quality, limited range, etc. CB's do have their place and I'm not ragging on anybody that has one. But my main concern with CB is solo travel. Most of the places we like to go have zero cellular coverage so when I'm out by myself, even with a CB, I'd be SOL.
Which brings me to HAM, or Amateur Radio, many times called 2 meter. Now keep in mind all of the following is my research, I didn't have any actual time using HAM, so I could be eating my words later on but I don't think so ;) So for trail communication within the group, think CB but better audio and range. And for those of us that like to wander alone there is longer range communication available in case a SOS call needs to go out. There are a number of other potential benefits; real-time location tracking, weather monitoring, and even email or data transfer outside of cellular service.

So the real anyone else interested?
There is a license required by the FCC that needs to be administered by someone, I haven't found an online test anywhere. The test is 35 questions, multiple-choice, and a 26 is passing. There is a local Bozeman HAM club and it turns out I happen to know the guy that teaches the test prep. I don't know that a class would be necessary for most folks but I'm trying to gauge interest before contacting him. They have a tentative test date of June 25th and another September 3rd. The test costs $14.00 If we have much interest I'm sure we could get a club prep session together, or maybe even a presentation....

I will be moving forward on this personally and thought it might nudge others if the process was easier since I'm doing the legwork either way. And this should be a very affordable endeavor, the test is cheap, the prep can be free unless you want to buy study materials but I have found everything online for free.

So who's interested?

Here's some informational links:

Practical HAM: A Beginners Guide
i just got my technician license to use for our local club runs, I used this website and just drilled the practice tests every day for a few weeks and passed no problem. Cutting edge amateur radio study tools

The Missoula ham club does testing once a month too

amazon has lots of pretty decent two-meter handheld radios for good prices
I am definitely in to this. I'd really like to see the club make a comm device mandatory for trail rides. At least a CB. A CB is mandatory equipment at any TLCA event. Our trail rides this year so far have been great, but being unable to communicate with each other is a problem. I have a CB, it's a good one, and I agree that they kinda suck. The first few rides last season, we used a couple of HAM radios that nohermosa had, and they were awesome. We definitely should be pursuing this as a club.
Thanks Skullyota! That is another helpful link. I haven't run their test yet but have it bookmarked. And I agree, I read through a study guide and have been running practice exams on an app on my phone and am consistently passing after about a week. Not a ton of time spent.

Also good to know the Missoula club runs regular exams!
I had to do a radio check for Cruise Moab during the safety inspection. I guess other events may be different.
I am all for getting my HAM license and would be up for participating in a club thing @MontanaLax . I agree with @80 Sack that we as a club need to have at least CB com available in all rigs when we go do trail rides. It would be a huge safety benefit and would also just make trail rides easier so that no one has to stop and get of out of their truck if they are in need of communicating something to another member and/or the trail leader.
Did you guys hear any chatter about M4A and designating 2 frequencies for use on club runs by folks and not needing a HAM license? Came up at 4x4 meeting over here . There are a couple limits on the radio though. IIRC it was a Baofung 82C? Has to be programmed via laptop.
I have made contact with the Gallatin Ham Radio Club Turns out I know their test prep instructor and he would be willing to do a 406 Cruiser specific class and possibly a test session.
Not to mention he drives a Tacoma and might be showing up for a 406 Cruisers meeting soon :clap:
He is open to scheduling the class around our schedule as the next regularly scheduled class isn't until early september. The standard class he teaches is usually 10-12 hours and that could be broken up any number of ways and maybe even go quicker...

So post up guys. Even if your just curious chime in. There are plenty of radios well under $100 like posted above. This doesn't have to be an expensive accessory... tho I expect it could be for some of us ;)

Here are members that have expressed interest:
80 Sack
I've exchanged emails with a couple guys from the ham club. They are having a field day this Saturday. Possible test at 1pm. Not sure if I can make it due to work.

However, Larry was nice enough to provide me his study materials. I spent 3 hours last night and am almost half way through.

I'm definitely in for getting licensed. For me out just depends on whether I can cram for this Saturday and then actually get there.

If not I'm all for doing a 406 group class/test!!
TC, sounds good.

Kyitty, I received a response that there WILL be testing at the field day on saturday. I'll be there taking my technician test and chatting with folks. Hopefully you can make it but it sounds like we'll have another test session sooner than later.
Did you guys hear any chatter about M4A and designating 2 frequencies for use on club runs by folks and not needing a HAM license? Came up at 4x4 meeting over here . There are a couple limits on the radio though. IIRC it was a Baofung 82C? Has to be programmed via laptop.

That's interesting, haven't heard anything about it. Could be cool for a high-power walkie talkie.
I would be interested. I have a friend that is very into radio communications and such so I'm going to talk to him as well.
Hi all, new here, but I just wanted to add my 2c about the baofeng uv-5r. I bought a pair cheap on amazon, they sound very clear, you can program your own channels, no computer needed, and you can get a ton of accessories for them like roof top antennas, holders, headsets, etc. Also they come "unlocked" with more channels than a vhf/uhf normally comes with. Also I would be down for ham classes whenever...
Fantastic! Looks like we're getting a decent amount of interest. I think I'll give it a bit more time to see if anybody else wants in before working on scheduling.

Thanks for the additional endorsement Sailor, as SKULLYOTA mentioned above. I just looked and the Baofeng UV-5R was going for $26.97, amazon link , even the newer BF-f8 high power is under $70. I acknowledge they aren't high-end Japanese electronics but for a inexpensive entry into amateur radio and basic communication on trail rides it could fit the bill for many folks.

Current list of interested:
80 Sack
Make it

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