HF or Sat phone

02 Nov 2012 22:20 #1 by dandjcr
dandjcr created the topic: HF or Sat phone
Forum Home > On the Road > HF or Sat phone

Garry & Chris
Posts: 104
I've been researching HF and Sat phones talking to a lot of ppl Spoke in depth with a HF dealer today and he talked me out of a HF
With the cost of a new sat phone now only $700 less any discount via Gov scheme and $1 a minute for call as against nearly $4k for HF that leaves 3300 minutes of calls on prepaid for calls $69 buys 100 minutes to use over 2 years

March 18, 2011 at 1:44 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dave and Pauline Gray
Posts: 84
Garry I have had a Sat phone for almost 10 years and with talking to other users of sat phones the one thing that everyone said was the Telsta iridium system was the best so if that is the system you are looking at its good value
cheers Dave.
March 18, 2011 at 2:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Peter & Sandra James Oka 374
Posts: 413
We've got both, a Barrett HF utilising the VKS737 network (google for heaps of HF info) and an Iridium Satphone.
They both have their pluses and minuses. We've had a HF since the early 80's, initially through the RFDS and since they moved out of HF we've been on VKS since its inception. The big plus with the HF is that there is a network of bases and thousands of fellow travellers that could all render assistance if need be, help could be just around the corner. A fellow traveller might just be leaving town in your direction and may be able to render assistance etc, we've availed ourselves on a couple occasions and also picked bits up and helped with repairs. You also get up to date weather reports, road conditions and local knowledge which just isn't available on a satphone unless YOU make a phone call to the person who has the knowledge.
With a satphone YOU have to know who to ring, where to ring and how to organize assistance, no good ringing directory assistance from the middle of the desert asking for a doctor as they will usually send you through to the nearest town doctor. There is a big list of contact numbers around online, could be on Exploroz divided up into different areas. The Hema maps also have lots of good info with phone numbers. If you can pick up a satphone secondhand then it can be a good investment, costs nothing even when you use it. where a satphone costs dollars day in day out whether you use it or not.
If the satphone is only for emergencies then you do not need a plan or connection at all. Motorola 9500 & 9505 (plus a new model I think) will all accept a Postpaid (on a monthly plan) Telstra SIM card activated for global roaming, can be either GSM or Next G, calls will cost approx twice the normal satphone rate and you also pay for incoming calls, but not as much. The 9500 will receive SMS but cannot send them and the 9505 will send and receive SMS.
We usually listen to the afternoon VKS skeds for any messages and turn the satphone on once a week to get any messages, if someone wants us they usually text the satphone or log a message with VKS.
Oka 374 LT Van

March 18, 2011 at 4:24 PM Flag Quote & Reply

James & Usha (THEByleDuct)
Posts: 161
We've used HF radio since returning to Australia six years ago. Just last year we picked up a second hand Q-MAC HF radio with auto-tune antennae and a long wire antennae so we can go portable if needed. All up cost me $810. If you look around you can get good buys on secondhand HF radios.
Personally I prefer to travel with the HF radio, a good quality UHF radio and a Telstra NextG phone. We use the HF for emergencies - always good to know someone might be close at hand. UHF for general chatter on the road and to talk to truckies. And the NextG phone for the times when we are in a coverage area. Traveling across the Great Desert Rd from Yulara to Laverton I was amazed at the extent of the NextG coverage compared to Optus (we were carrying two phones). I wouldn't rely on it for emergencies though. Most of the time when we go bush it is to get away from the rat race. The last thing we want is the rats being able to call us.
OKA #072

March 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 367
We don't have a satphone so I can't comment on their practical use but we've had an HF radio for 9 years (VKS) and find it extremely useful. As Peter says above, you can broadcast advice to others, or a request for assistance, send messages, or get information easily on road conditions, weather, and other travellers in your area etc. You also get to hear friendly voices and maybe help out someone else who is in difficulties.
You don't need to spend $4k on an HF radio, there are plenty of good second hand ones available for $1-2k and they don't need to be the most modern type either. Ours is a Codan 7727 made in 1986 and still works fine. It has the same transmission power and communications range as newer models, it's just missing the latest computerised features.
When we've been alone on outback tracks for days at a time, our HF radio provides reassuring contact with other people with similar interests in the outside world, and that is priceless.
Someone else might like to comment on the availability/performance of the Satphone network, but on our HF radio we've rarely failed to contact someone, somewhere, who could relay a message.
You might find some of my comments on HF radio useful, in our blog entry on safety equipments here.
We also have CB radios and a Telstra NextG phone and both have their uses, but neither can be relied upon in an outback emergency.
David and Janet Ribbans, Oka 148

March 18, 2011 at 5:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Outback Jack
Posts: 386
Firstly I own a communications and car audio company, we sell all three products.

HF was good option even 6 months ago,however with the IsatPhone introduced I think now a HF is hardly worth it. Time will tell how good Isatphone will be.
HF and using VKS737 is a not a bad thing as others have mentioned. When you need that part or help, someone on the same network may hear you and offer assistance, you cant do that on a Satphone.

A HF radio over 20 years old will certainlyhave degraded, I see a lot of HF`s that age that don’t receive like they once did.
Electronics inside would be degrading with capacitors drying out etc. With a HF that old would you rely on it in an emergency?????

I love HF, and recently Satellite Phone has been a 2nd option, Iridium is a little expensive and not being geostationary means you don’t always get thecoverage at the same spot all the time. With Iridium the pre pay option meant you only had 6 months at the most to use the credit. Although there was options to over come this. With IsatPhone even if you buy 10 dollars of credit, it is good for 2 years, also the satellite is geostationary, which can be an advantage, Isatphone uses the inmarsat satellites. The inmarsat satellite sits above PNG and won’t give coverage in the South Pole, but I don’t think many of us travel that far.

OK rant over. PM if you want more info.


March 18, 2011 at 7:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 367
Quote: "A HF radio over 20 years old will certainlyhave degraded, I see a lot of HF`s that age that don’t receive like they once did.
Electronics inside would be degrading with capacitors drying out etc. With a HF that old would you rely on it in an emergency?????"

I was not advocating a 25 year old radio, only that it's not necessary to buy a brand new one.
In our case, the performance of our radio was checked and verified by Steve Johnson, the founder of the VKS 737 network, before we bought it, and he subsequently upgraded it.
One of the primary reasons we log in each day while travelling is for a radio check, to ensure as far as possible that it would work when necessary. This should be done even with new equipment (including satphones).
In the event of failure we have an EPIRB (plus CB and NextG as well).
I didn't consider your comments a rant, component ageing is quite valid, for all electronic equipment, not just HF radios, and we are planning an upgrade since we enjoy the companionship of the HF network.
As an electronics engineer I understand about ageing in electronic equipment, I worked in the Defence Electronics industry for 35 years where much equipment is old and upgrades are commonplace.
BTW the VKS737 network (and there are other similar networks) has many thousands of users and I don't think HF radio will disappear any time soon.
David and Janet Ribbans, Oka 148

March 18, 2011 at 10:59 PM

David and Janet Ribbans - Oka 148
Oka148 profile here.
Visit our technical and travel blogs: here.

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