Breakdowns trying to get home?

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phil
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Breakdowns trying to get home?

Post by phil » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:51 pm

I'm putting up a page on breaking down trying to get home:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/playaHelp.html
It's not finished, but I'm going to add a story by a guy who's truck broke down on the highway and who got towed by a pirate towtruck - no disaster, but a delay in getting repairs because he got towed to the guy's house for the brother in law to do the work.

If you have any stories you'd like to contribute about good luck in getting help or tales of woe, let me know here or in a private message. I'll assume all stories can be posted without attribution unless you tell me otherwise. I won't claim the stories as my own, but I won't post identifying information without explicit permission. Here's a sample anonymous story of a cosmic breakdown:
http://www.cieux.com/bm/strandedInKansas.html

The goal is to provide some comfort to people who find they can't get their car off the playa - it happens, and here's how to deal with it.

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AntiM
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Post by AntiM » Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:12 pm

Triple A with the RV Plus option. Not the cheapest service in the world, but certainly cheaper than paying for a tow out of pocket. It isn't attached to a vehicle, it is attached to an individual ... you don't even need to have a driver's license. The RV option provides a tow up to 100 miles, including the trailer.

We've not had to use it for BM, but we have bailed out friends with crappy cars that quit in inconvenient places.

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EB
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Post by EB » Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:01 pm

You have a line in there, Phil, about cell phones working in Gerlach. Have I missed something?

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phil
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Post by phil » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:30 pm

> about cell phones working in Gerlach. Have I missed something?

We were having lunch in Bruno's on Tuesday, and a couple at the table next to us were on their cell phone talking to AAA. I didn't think anything of it -- is there a problem in Gerlach? I'll have to change that section if service is limited.

Anybody confirm whose cell it is?


[edit: Louise says she got no signal on her ATT Treo in Gerlach.]

hsdavis
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Post by hsdavis » Mon Sep 22, 2008 7:26 pm

The only cell phones that work in Gerlach and Empire are Nextel phones. I was in contact via my Nextel about a mile off the road into BRC and then lost the signal. I was glad since I would want to turn it on during the week just to check in with the office. No service whatsoever in BRC. I guess there is a mountain between the tower and BRC.

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phil
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Post by phil » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:36 pm

I was in contact via my Nextel about a mile off the road into BRC and then lost the signal. ... No service whatsoever in BRC.
A guy down the street from us put up a yagi antenna and provided free cell service from Winemucca while we were on the playa:

Image
As you can see, he had his cell phone hooked up to a princess phone. :-> This is on Dart, for what it's worth. That's our white van and red/crimson/scarlet banners on the right edge of the photo.

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Elderberry
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Post by Elderberry » Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:49 pm

phil wrote:
A guy down the street from us put up a yagi antenna and provided free cell service from Winemucca while we were on the playa:
Hey phil,

Got any other details on that Yagi antenna? How powerful was it, how tall was the pole, did he use any other amplification?

Thanks,

JK

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phil
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Post by phil » Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:29 pm

I thought I had a photo of his set up, but I'm not finding it. It was on top of his car roof (economy sized small car) - maybe 10 or 12 feet off the ground, not a monster yagi by any means. I have no idea what other devices he used to get to his cell account in Winnemucca. He said it was analogue till September, and I have no idea if his access to it by yagi would end then.

It was bigger than this guy's:
Image
and this guy was camping next to us in Saline Valley last year at Thanksgiving, and he could hit his cell with an old analogue phone that was 5W.

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Post by Elderberry » Mon Sep 22, 2008 9:59 pm

Thanks for the info. I think this might be my playa improvement project for next year. Though I'm sure that many would not consider cell service on the playa an improvement. :shock:

JK

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Post by hsdavis » Tue Sep 23, 2008 5:21 am

There are probably a million ways (well, not actually a million, but a few) to make telephone calls from the playa. I had a little IP phone adapter that plugged into my laptop and was able to make calls when I had a signal. www.magicjack.com With an RV, you could have a TV satellite dish and have a data link. Satellite phones. Extended antennas. With a little creativity, you can get a call out. But why would you really want to?

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Post by somekind » Tue Sep 23, 2008 8:45 am

phil wrote: A guy down the street from us put up a yagi antenna and provided free cell service from Winemucca while we were on the playa:

Image
As you can see, he had his cell phone hooked up to a princess phone. :-> This is on Dart, for what it's worth. That's our white van and red/crimson/scarlet banners on the right edge of the photo.
That phone was a 1/4 block from my tent. My campmates and I used the phone to check messages and make important calls. It was cool and there was never really a line. You can even see our yellow weather balloon over our camp!
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Post by chiefdanfox » Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:28 am

Actually, it was Winnemucca Mountain, 80 miles away, not Winnemucca, but who gives a shit, they are 5 miles apart(?). Anyway, he used his own "unlimited" cell account to let us all make calls. And he likes good scotch.

I think he stacked three yagis(? maybe two...) two small ones (about 2 feet), one large (about 6 feet). I am not absolutely sure on this. But I did ask him if the size of the array was key to the distance, and he said that that was more or less correct. He was attempting to explain it to someone else, and I did not get the whole skinny, but I believe he said that by stacking the yagis, his beam width got smaller (in degrees), and that let him "focus" the gain, so he could hit the antenna 80 miles away.
http://picasaweb.google.com/fox.dan/Chi ... 9898845762
Image

(Phil, I edited this post after finding and looking at the picture. I thought I remembered three, but could not be sure...

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phil
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Post by phil » Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:49 am

> Satellite phones. Extended antennas. With a little creativity, you
> can get a call out. But why would you really want to?

Well, this thread _used_ to be about getting help if your car breaks down. We had several people stop by on Monday and Tuesday asking us where the cell phone guy was because they needed to call for a tow or mechanic or whatever they needed.

Louise and I don't take a satellite phone to Burning Man because there are so many resources available if we need help. But we rent one when we go down to Eureka Valley on Thanksgiving. We've used it to find out it was snowing in the Sierras so we came back to the Bay Area the southern way instead. One of our campmates couldn't get his RV started, so he used it to call AAA. You don't want to leave someone stranded down in Eureka Valley.

I don't have any desire to make calls from BM for business or pleasure, but I'm not going to tell others they can't because I don't want to. It's Burning Man - let the anarchy be.

> I think he stacked two yagis(? maybe two...) A small one (about
> 2 feet), one large (about 4 feet).

I think that's right. Thanks for the information. Stacking antennas is common ham practice to increase gain; it doesn't have to be yagis.

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Post by Boijoy » Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:51 am

That was Dan's phone. Kewell kid. He and his friend brought out the set up and thought it might be a " lame " gift. As it turned out it was an AMAZING gift.. brought tears to many who got to call home. So, the lesson is .. no matter how " lame" you think your gift might be... It may not be.
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Post by safetythird » Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:25 am

AntiM wrote:Triple A with the RV Plus option. Not the cheapest service in the world, but certainly cheaper than paying for a tow out of pocket. It isn't attached to a vehicle, it is attached to an individual ... you don't even need to have a driver's license. The RV option provides a tow up to 100 miles, including the trailer.

We've not had to use it for BM, but we have bailed out friends with crappy cars that quit in inconvenient places.
We've had great experiences with Good Sam's ERS for our RV. It's around $100 per year and covers all of our cars, not just the RV. We've used it a few times, both coming and going to BM, and service was quick. I guess AAA calls the same trucks to help you so there's no real advantage either way. Compare their plans/pricing and see what works best for you. For us it was Good Sams because they'll tow you to the nearest service station even if that's 200 miles away.

If you are renting an RV this is still a good way to go. $100 ahead of time is good piece of mind plus it covers your regular vehicle the other 51 weeks.

And they won't be sending pirate tow trucks to tow you out to Billy Bob's shade tree.

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