Overland and Emergency SHTF Comms? What to use?

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Sibetribe

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Huntington Beach, CA, USA
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Rhameen
Last Name
Kolyani
Ham Callsign
KM6CVW
Hey Everyone!
I am from Orange County, wife and I camp often and prioritize being prepared. I am looking for a way to reliably always be able to communicate with my loved ones for safety and check-in purposes (nothing fancy). My search got me to:
1.) Ham Radio
2.) Iridium Sat Phone
3.) Garmin InReach (Iridium network)
Based off these results, I passed my tech license test and my Ham call sign is KM6ZVW. I bought a Yaesu FT-70DR with an upgraded MFJ-1722 antenna. I also bought a magnetic car antenna Diamond RH77CA and own a Baofeng handheld as well. When I say reliable, I mean within ten minutes of trying,. While camping, I just wish to get help if needed. While day to day, I want to be able to communicate with my wife during any form of disaster or emergency. Below is the range I wish to accomplish. The X is my wife's place of work. I travel daily within the red circle for work. Our home is the circle. In a SHTF scenario, what kind of setup will guarantee communication? Iridium Sat phones are very expensive. Garmin InReach is pricey but probably worth it. Ham Radio, well I have my license so might as well. My questions are:
Is the cost of the Garmin InReach worth it and reliable?
For Ham Radio, as a new Ham what can I do to guarantee reliability within the circle? If repeaters go down, is Simplex reliable over that many miles? I will use my magnetic mounted antenna in my Honda Accord but my wife drives a Tacoma. What setup should I go with for the truck so that we can accomplish this range?
HAM FORUM.PNG
 

RoarinRow

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Of the list you have I have the Garmin InReach Mini. Without cell signal, It does allow you to contact people on your contact list or other via manual text messages or pre-configured quick text messages (free) and does send them your location via link and map. If you are in immediate help then you use the SOS feature where you will be in contact with authorities to help you anywhere you are. There is a caveat in the manual where they explain situations where they won't. War, and the like.

I think it is worth my life and the life others in case of an emergency. I see too many stories where backpackers and overlanders get in perilous danger and don't have cell signature to get help. The good thing about the the Freedom plan is that you can suspend anytime. I am very certain there will be trips where my wife and kids won't be coming with me and I would like to contact them and/or send them my location and status. The messages come as soon as I have satellite connectivity.
 

Sibetribe

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60
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Rhameen
Last Name
Kolyani
Ham Callsign
KM6CVW
Thank you for the information, I'm sod n the Garmin Inreach and will be going with the freedom plan as well. I also plan on going with ham radio as a back up as well
 
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RoarinRow

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Thank you for the information, I'm sod n the Garmin Inreach and will be going with the freedom plan as well. I also plan on going with ham radio as a back up as well
From my understanding a Ham radio is a good comm to have due to its versatility and range.
 

PatricL

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Patric
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Hey Everyone!
I am from Orange County, wife and I camp often and prioritize being prepared. I am looking for a way to reliably always be able to communicate with my loved ones for safety and check-in purposes (nothing fancy). ... What setup should I go with for the truck so that we can accomplish this range?
There are others on here more versed in Ham - but simplex without a repeater will only be line of site. So not very effective around the buildings in that zone. Repeater vs satellite in terms of resistance to natural disaster is a good question. I have always thought that amateur repeaters were specifically constructed to be a highly resilient communication method that would be working when everything else fails.

A quick check of the Garmin device instructions say you need to put your contacts in to communicate. This possibly means this method of communication relies on a cell network. I think this is a vulnerability in a natural disaster. Amateur radio can be linked to cell communication (voice and text) but does not rely on it. If you rely on handheld-satellite-cell network-wife route I think that would break before radio-repeater-wife radio communication.

Wiki article of interest.

I am interested to hear what others think about this question.
 

Sibetribe

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Contributor I

60
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Rhameen
Last Name
Kolyani
Ham Callsign
KM6CVW
There are others on here more versed in Ham - but simplex without a repeater will only be line of site. So not very effective around the buildings in that zone. Repeater vs satellite in terms of resistance to natural disaster is a good question. I have always thought that amateur repeaters were specifically constructed to be a highly resilient communication method that would be working when everything else fails.

A quick check of the Garmin device instructions say you need to put your contacts in to communicate. This possibly means this method of communication relies on a cell network. I think this is a vulnerability in a natural disaster. Amateur radio can be linked to cell communication (voice and text) but does not rely on it. If you rely on handheld-satellite-cell network-wife route I think that would break before radio-repeater-wife radio communication.

Wiki article of interest.

I am interested to hear what others think about this question.
Thank you for your response! Repeaters are built to be resilient and usually take measures to have back up power on hand as well (solar/generator). Ham is something I will be doing no matter what. I follow the rule of three. Therefore, for communications I will have my 1.) cellphone 2.) Garmin InReach satellite 3.) Ham Radio.
Garmin In Reach is independent of cell service. They tell you to preload your contacts because it is very time-consuming to do it directly on the device. You don't want to have to type anything directly onto the device, rather have presets to quickly select.
 
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J.W.

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I really like the idea of the Garmin InReach and will probably get the Mini. That being said, I don’t think it is the best option for wide spread emergencies (ex. Earthquake). The inReach is designed to send messages to a cell phone... so it is predicated on the fact that, even though the sender doesn’t have cell phone service, the person receiving the message does have to have coverage. It also assumes that first responders will be operating normally, which may not be the case in a natural disaster where infrastructure would be damaged.

Ham radio can reach around the world when conditions are right on HF bands. If you want a true SHTF safety net, that’s the direction I would suggest. It’s definitely not as elegant as a satellite phone or the Garmin, but it isn’t dependent on infrastructure outside of your control.

Food for thought.
 
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Sibetribe

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Contributor I

60
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Rhameen
Last Name
Kolyani
Ham Callsign
KM6CVW
I really like the idea of the Garmin InReach and will probably get the Mini. That being said, I don’t think it is the best option for wide spread emergencies (ex. Earthquake). The inReach is designed to send messages to a cell phone... so it is predicated on the fact that, even though the sender doesn’t have cell phone service, the person receiving the message does have to have coverage. It also assumes that first responders will be operating normally, which may not be the case in a natural disaster where infrastructure would be damaged.

Ham radio can reach around the world when conditions are right on HF bands. If you want a true SHTF safety net, that’s the direction I would suggest. It’s definitely not as elegant as a satellite phone or the Garmin, but it isn’t dependent on infrastructure outside of your control.

Food for thought.
If both parties own a Garmin InReach, wouldn't that only use satellite services, not cell phone?
Based on the map I provided above, do you have any recommendations on what I need to achieve reliable Ham comms?
 

J.W.

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If both parties own a Garmin InReach, wouldn't that only use satellite services, not cell phone?
Based on the map I provided above, do you have any recommendations on what I need to achieve reliable Ham comms?
Yes, I think you can message unit to unit, but then you have to buy two of these and pay for two separate service plans. Finally, after all the expense, you are still dependent on Elon Musk’s floating space garage to transfer your messages.

Clearly, I’m being sarcastic but you get my point, it’s tough to know what will go wrong. Removing external variables helps ensure success. Get your Amateur Extra ham license and you’ll know exactly how to reach anywhere in that area you have marked.

Faraday cage for your radio is completely up to you ;)
 
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1Louder

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I really like the idea of the Garmin InReach and will probably get the Mini. That being said, I don’t think it is the best option for wide spread emergencies (ex. Earthquake). The inReach is designed to send messages to a cell phone... so it is predicated on the fact that, even though the sender doesn’t have cell phone service, the person receiving the message does have to have coverage.
InReach can send messages to a phone # or email address. Those with permission can also log into the InReach website to see where you are and/or send messages to you. You can give that link to anyone you choose. You can also have any message sent automatically show your location with said message. See the screenshot below. As long as my device is on someone can find me. My page is password protected.

SampleInReachPortal.png
 
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Sibetribe

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Huntington Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Rhameen
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Kolyani
Ham Callsign
KM6CVW
InReach can send messages to a phone # or email address. Those with permission can also log into the InReach website to see where you are and/or send messages to you. You can give that link to anyone you choose. You can also have any message sent automatically show your location with said message. See the screenshot below. As long as my device is on someone can find me. My page is password protected.

View attachment 114034
That is very handy! That is perfect for camping and day to day. In a SHTF scenario I guess my wife and I will both have to have one and text between the devices so that we only have to rely on the Iridium sat. Not internet or cell service (in case those are out)
 

1Louder

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That is very handy! That is perfect for camping and day to day. In a SHTF scenario I guess my wife and I will both have to have one and text between the devices so that we only have to rely on the Iridium sat. Not internet or cell service (in case those are out)
Just know that would require 2 plans and messaging can be a bit slow since it is going out to space and back. If you send a message to anyone they can also reply. They don't need an InReach. But in your scenario without internet or cell they would.
 
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Todd & Meg

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We just got an InReach Mini and played with it over the weekend up at the Grand Canyon. We would send preset messages to our daughters and to our cell phones. It would be between 20 minutes to 12 hours before we would receive the text messages if we got them at all. #2 daughter in PHX got most all messages, #1 daughter (lives in New Port Beach by the OP) got 75% of the messages, I got 50% but some were up to 12 hours later. My wife only got about 25% of the messages. We are all on iOS phones.

We have a lot more playing to do and maybe a call to InReach to figure what is going on.

Todd
 

Anak

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Simplex should be within reason in the area you have marked out. It will vary depending on locations, but if you can move around a bit you should be able to overcome the challenge. Altitude is key.

The thing to do is play around with it and figure out where you can and cannot get through.

If you really want to learn what your limits are for simplex I would suggest you get in touch with the LA transmitter hunters. They are an active group and their entire game revolves around hunting a signal throughout the LA area, and most likely a weak signal at that. Go on a few ride alongs with them and you will get a really good idea of what works and what doesn't work in the area. Furthermore, you can talk to those guys and they will have the best possible advice you could get for your locale. Among other things they may know what sort of backups are in place for individual repeaters. And if you really spend time with them and get connected you will have the chance to get connected with private repeaters and resources not available to the general public. It becomes a matter of not what you know, but who you know.
 
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old_man

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yeah... only 300,000,000 m/s... :tearsofjoy:
The latency is probably more in the satellite and it's software.
For satellite...internet or phone, you can figure a second to get to the satellite and a second to get back to earth. Add another two seconds for the response. So with no latency in any of the other systems, you can see a 4 second response (latency) time. That is for geosynchronous orbit satellites. Low earth orbit satellites (Iridium) are about half that, or less.
 
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Downs

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I lived in SOCAL for a few years. In the circle you drew there are TONS of repeaters in that area. Most have some sort of back up or emergency power option either battery/gen set/ or solar. Simplex on UHF/VHF is going to be hit or miss and as mentioned earlier a function of your altitutde. If you are high up on a mountain top or ridgeline you very well could talk all over that circle, or if you're down in a valley you may be lucky to get a mile or two. That pretty much leaves the satellite options since you need two way comms and that's quite a pricey proposition no matter what.
 
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Cort

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When things go south HAM operators will rule the world, they will be the only ones with comms. This has been proven time and time again in natural disaster. Amateur radio is a must in anyone’s readiness plan. Part of your range isn’t just the frequency but also the radios on both ends.
 

Anak

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When things go south HAM operators will rule the world, they will be the only ones with comms. This has been proven time and time again in natural disaster. Amateur radio is a must in anyone’s readiness plan. Part of your range isn’t just the frequency but also the radios on both ends.
And the antennas.

If you really want to communicate you need to have a couple of directional antennas.

For handheld radios you are probably best off with a backpack type yagi. These can be carried disassembled and then reassembled when needed.

Or, if you are on the fringe, you can do this:

THuntRig29OPT.jpg

Of course you will get some funny looks from folks. Might not be the best strategy if the SHTF. But it does work. That is a cubic quad that I can rotate while driving.
 

Sibetribe

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Contributor I

60
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
First Name
Rhameen
Last Name
Kolyani
Ham Callsign
KM6CVW
We just got an InReach Mini and played with it over the weekend up at the Grand Canyon. We would send preset messages to our daughters and to our cell phones. It would be between 20 minutes to 12 hours before we would receive the text messages if we got them at all. #2 daughter in PHX got most all messages, #1 daughter (lives in New Port Beach by the OP) got 75% of the messages, I got 50% but some were up to 12 hours later. My wife only got about 25% of the messages. We are all on iOS phones.

We have a lot more playing to do and maybe a call to InReach to figure what is going on.

Todd
Wow thats unreliable!
 
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