2 way radio experiences on the playa

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Zubeneschamali
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2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Zubeneschamali » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:20 am

Good day to all that dust,

This year I have a need for on playa communications. Initial thought is a stationary dispatch unit and 3 to 4 mobile 2 way units. Range is of importance along with battery life. Not saying cost isn't a factor, but willing to consider buying the wattage and channels that promise better communications late week.

Please share your radio experiences and make / model preferences. I'm leaning towards not going the HAM route, just because that is an unknown and this is a first year pilot experience....I guess I'm assuming it might be overkill.

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Traveller in Time
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Traveller in Time » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:21 am

It appears several mobile phone providers cover the city.
Presumably more and totalling higher bandwidth every year.
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Rice
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Rice » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:40 pm

Hi,

Here is a good starting point: viewtopic.php?t=78234

I basically googled "eplaya radios"...

Good luck
Love Rice

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Dazey77
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Dazey77 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:36 am

Your idea of a stationary point (with a decent high antenna- lightning protected) will certainly work but having a despatcher means you have to constantly have someone to field all the portable comms. You might be better off using a repeater as a base station so that all mobile users can communicate through the repeater. Most repeaters can also function as a base station if you need to interact.

If your base has an antenna high enough to clear all the surrounding obstructions, the handheld units should be able to hit it all across the playa. You can probably just rent a commercial system complete with licences (I am not from the US so this is based on how UK works)

You might need to contact burning man to check the commercial frequencies if your running a base station.

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motskyroonmatick
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by motskyroonmatick » Tue Jun 13, 2017 10:17 pm

CB radio seems to get very little use on the playa. Usually consumes quite a bit of power in the vintage hand held models I have used but if the mobile units are on a vehicle then no worries about power.

The small multi channel radios that many people use for camping and road trips are so over used on playa that there is no hope of getting a message through at nearly any time.
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cactussam85
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by cactussam85 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:48 pm

I'd say that it really depends on just how far you need the radios to be able to reach. My 2nd year, my crew brought out a few of the Motorola PTT handheld radios and, as long as they had fresh batteries, they worked great. Seemed to easily be able to reach from our camp (4:30&D) out into Deep Playa well past the Man. The issue was batteries and the potential of the radio falling out of a pocket or something while out playing in the dust.

Zubeneschamali
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Zubeneschamali » Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:47 pm

Thanks all,

The link to PopRocks narrative really put things into perspective. We're a working camp providing services to mobility impaired burners and based on initial feedback we feel that radios will be a great tool.

Following the advice and sitting for my Technician license next weekend. Baofeng UV-5R's are already purchased, modded with antenna extensions, and programmed for MURS and VHF channels.....if everything goes well we are good to go. If I don't pass, then I'll wipe out the VHF programmed stations and we'll be on MURS 1 2 or 3.

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Admiral Fukkit
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Admiral Fukkit » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:34 pm

I have a big box full of new UV-5R and what are those bigger ones, UV-82s I think.
With mics, bigger antennas, all that shit.
Used approximately once.
Did all my cross-playa communication via standard text message.

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GreyCoyote
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by GreyCoyote » Sat Aug 05, 2017 8:35 pm

Zubeneschamali wrote:Thanks all,

The link to PopRocks narrative really put things into perspective. We're a working camp providing services to mobility impaired burners and based on initial feedback we feel that radios will be a great tool.

Following the advice and sitting for my Technician license next weekend. Baofeng UV-5R's are already purchased, modded with antenna extensions, and programmed for MURS and VHF channels.....if everything goes well we are good to go. If I don't pass, then I'll wipe out the VHF programmed stations and we'll be on MURS 1 2 or 3.
Excellent choices!

Suggestion: next year investigate integrating APRS too. This would give you position data for your mobiles every 60 seconds. You wouldnt need to ask where they are. You would know to within a few feet as well as course and velocity. Might be useful information for you.
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Zubeneschamali
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Zubeneschamali » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:43 am

Hey Cap't if you find the space and time to throw that box into a playa bound vehicle, I'd gladly make great use of the radios. I'm sure you're right with the updates to the cell tower this year we're going to see much better mobile communications on playa.

Thanks GC for the hints, I'm having a fun time geeking out with the radios. My 14 year old is actually interested in something the old man is doing and he's taking the license class with me.

Thanks all, open invitation to the Taxi Camp mixer on Tuesday 5pm - 7pm, 9:15 and B. Moscow Mules and American canned beer will be served. Come on by and ask for The OG.

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GreyCoyote
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by GreyCoyote » Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:22 am

Zub: On test day, sit for as many grades as you can. If you pass the Tech, sit for the General. If you pass the General, sit for the Extra. Keep going until you fail badly. Got close? Do it again. There is NO penalty whatsoever for trying! The VE's will even cheer you along most of the time. I know I do.

FWIW I went from unlicensed to Extra in one sitting. A month later I got my VE credential. A year later my 15 year old sat for his Tech. (I was actually one of the VE's for that session but I recused myself from any contact with his testing per regs). Junior totally aced it. Many of them do. In fact I passed a 12 year old a year ago taking his first swipe at his General ticket. Three weeks later I put him in the log on 20 meters working JT65. Now THAT was cool. :) The kid contests like a demon too. His Dad is still a Tech. Hehehe.

Go to hamexam.org and practice! Its totally free. Spend a few hours there and you should do very well. Get your Tech and talk to the guys in Gerlach who have the 2-meter repeater up on the hill. It covers the playa awesomely and you wont need to worry about line-of-sight issues.
"To sum up my compassion level, I think we should feed the unwanted animals to the homeless. Or visa versa. Too much attention and money is spent on both."
(A Beautiful Mind)

Zubeneschamali
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Zubeneschamali » Tue Aug 22, 2017 5:05 pm

Thanks Coyote,

I passed Tech, so I can now call myself KM6MHC. Just in time for launch on Friday. Big ups for the knowledge, this thread helped me put together the pieces and hit a playa goal.

Safe travels all, looking forward to bumping into you out there.

Z

vlajim
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by vlajim » Wed Jun 27, 2018 8:43 am

Hello, KA5SIW here. Over 40 years working in electronics. I always carry basic electronics tools to the playa. I will have my HF, VHF, UHF station going. In the past we have been around 6:00, this year we are thinking of moving toward 4:00? We will be arriving about Tuesday, check the blackrock repeater, I will check in there upon arrival. 2018 will be our 6th burn!

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torrey.smith
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by torrey.smith » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:17 am

KS4RGE here. We went Ham last year to great effect. Sextant does study sessions and carpools to test locations so we can get a contingent of legal Hams in camp to run the radios between the Tower, vünderbar, zipline LZ, mobile leads, and camp command.

The 888s is a remarkable option because I can put it in the hand of a newly Hamed operator and not stress about the fact that it has a limited lifespan.

Sextant does our own frequencies... We should probably coordinate with the rPlaya Ham crew so we can play with y'all!
Sarge

Zubeneschamali
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Re: 2 way radio experiences on the playa

Post by Zubeneschamali » Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:50 pm

Greetings, KM6MHC here,

This year we are placed again at 9:15 and B. We've expanded our UV-5R units to include UV-5R V2 extended, and a Tram 1480 base antenna. We'll have our base dispatch available to a unit at Disability Camp in Center Camp, and in contact with our mobility taxi operators out on the playa.

Last year we had range limitations. Our channels were mostly clear but radio contact was mostly within one mile. I'm hoping to extend the range with the base antenna.

I'd love to try those 888's. Gotta say the 5R's worked extremely well too with rookies. I pulled them out last weekend and they still had 3/4 charge from when I put them to sleep last September!

Taxi Camp 9:15 and B is hosting a meet and greet Tuesday at 3pm - 5pm. This is a personal invitation to the HAM community to come out and enjoy an ice cold Moscow Mule!

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