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Radio, Satellite, and Adventure Communications

ChasingOurTrunks

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Hi folks,

There's a bit of chatter in another thread with @Pipm4000, @emax, @Bushguide and @Off.Grid, but to preserve the Contracts thread topic, I figured another thread about Adventure Communications is a good idea.

So who runs what? HAM, Satellite, UHF? Post up not only what you rely on, but how well supported that "eco system" is in your part of the world, and of course how you plan to mount it up to your Grenadier!

We run a few things. Our most-used communications tool is our Garmin InReach Mini. This is an incredibly powerful little device that provides the same basic functionality as the perhaps more well-known SPOT device -- it can track your location every 10 minutes, and you can send pre-programmed messages (like "I'm OK", "Off the road for the night", or "Need some help, but it's not an emergency at my location") to any contacts you want via satellite. It can also send an SOS signal which automatically dispatches Search and Rescue; for that function alone these devices are worth their weight in gold. But, what makes the InReach even better than the Spot is the ability to link it to a Cell Phone and send two way messages via the InReach app, also via satellite (so no need for a cell signal). We use ours on ever single trip to let friends and family know when we're in off the road, as well as relying on it in case a major incident happens. However, we recently had our InReach totally fail on us - no warning, it just bricked overnight sitting idle on our dash. So, we are looking at a secondary device for extreme emergencies, and will likely get a PLB to toss in the glove box just in case.

The other tool we use is an amateur radio; both my wife and I are licensed on HAM frequencies. We didn't score high enough on the test to use the HF frequencies, but our main use case was for vehicle to vehicle communications as the range is pretty good. In our truck, we have a 55 watt unit that can really throw a signal; on the bike I only have a 10 watt unit, but it recieves from the truck just fine. My bike is setup with a device from SENA that allows the radio to be piped right into my helmet with a PTT button on the handlebars, so I have safe, distraction-free communications with my partner in the other vehicle whenever we need it. As far as the truck setup, it's prety standard - screwed into the dashboard, wires run to the battery, with an aerial on the hood. We actually looked at getting one of these for our jeep, which is handy if you are one who likes music on your trips as it will automatically dip the music and put the voice comms over the vehicle speakers when needed: https://audiointerrupt.com/cbm-u4/

The HAM test in Canada and the USA is pretty similar; we prepared for it by using an iOS app and just doing test after test until we had more or less memorized the answers, so I would say my actual understanding of radios is limited. Our main reason for getting the license was our trip to Alaska, but the HAM radio we have also has the ability to receive non-Amateur frequencies, like those used by logging and mining companies. This allows us to key in the frequency for whatever road we happen to be on, and we can hear the industrial users calling out their location and thus can know when to pull over on a narrow mountain road in anticipation of a large truck coming the other way. This is critical in Alberta and BC I think, though I think it's less popular the further East in Canada you go, and I'm unsure how popular this practice is in the USA.

Finally, we also make use of the blister-pack FRS and GMRS radios for when we need to loan a radio to a spotter or friend who isn't HAM licensed. They are limited to I think 5 watts (maybe slightly more with GMRS, but not the ones we have) and are basically line-of-site. Great when you are on a trail in a tricky section and you just need someone to be a second set of eyes, but not much use beyond that.
 

globalgregors

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In Oz you will find 477MHz UHF fitted to many recreational fwd. Many carry two units - one to use for convoy communications when travelling in groups, the second set to the channel used by heavy vehicle drivers (in remote areas it’s not unusual to encounter trucks with 3-4 trailers and UHF is used to coordinate overtakes).

The same UHF units paired with 1-5W handhelds are the go-to for immediate vicinity comms.

Folks increasingly carry an EPIRB or PLB (406MHz COSPAS/SARSAT typically) in remote areas.

Commercial vehicles in remote areas and dedicated desert tourers carry HF (shortwave) radios which similarly require licensing. There is a national 4WD HF network which can reach around the country and offers radio-phone connectivity (VKS users please correct me if that’s wrong).

HF seems to have been largely overtaken by satphones, this not necessarily preferred by folks of a defence background as the HF network is felt to be more resilient, and allows one to connect directly to emergency services, remote communities and other old-school push SW services.

Cellular boosters are fairly popular, given Australias mobile phone coverage can be sketchy.

Finally, Starlink appears to be taking off somewhat. The mobile solution in particular will be popular with grey nomads.

For global travel we carried a Garmin InReach, a PLB (in case we got separated) and a pair of UHF handhelds for short range/convoy use (if necessary).
I’d use the Garmin (Iridium) over the SPOT (Globalstar) for international travel, noting that you need to register Iridium devices for use in the Russian Federation.

Conflict zones can get very antsy about you carrying a satphone and even UHF/GMRS etc devices as these have military use. Azerbaijan (I think) required ours to be sealed in a box which was then inspected on exit. Of course you can simply not offer that you have one but failing to declare such things can lead to greater peril than dealing with it up front.

The Garmin InReach got me held for 90mins in a Middle East airport at some point due to it being misunderstood to be a satphone/device of unknown military purpose.
 
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mkennedy009

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GRMS have come a long way, the max power now is 50 watts. I know the Jeep Jamboree has switched from HAM to GMRS in 2018-19(?). There is still the same issue as with all frequencies, obstacles like terrain, trees, weather and antenna length that limit the range. The Midlands MXT500 is there new base station and here is what they spec for range.
1667862176535.png
Once my IG shows up, I will mount one somewhere out of the way.
 

ChasingOurTrunks

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GRMS have come a long way, the max power now is 50 watts. I know the Jeep Jamboree has switched from HAM to GMRS in 2018-19(?). There is still the same issue as with all frequencies, obstacles like terrain, trees, weather and antenna length that limit the range. The Midlands MXT500 is there new base station and here is what they spec for range.
View attachment 7795626
Once my IG shows up, I will mount one somewhere out of the way.

I'll have to see if I can get ahold of one of those base stations, though it looks like they aren't available in Canada due to their wattage. GMRS is far more versatile these days in North America, as every single gas station on a major highway, every wal mart, and every sporting good store sells compatible radios. In the USA, it used to be that you needed a license for GMRS but it wasn't a test, just a "pay the FCC and go", and I'm not sure if they still enforce that. I don't think we've ever needed licensing for GMRS in Canada, but I also think we are limited to 2 watts on GMRS (We were in 2015 when I got my HAM license; it was one of the main reasons for doing so).

Still, a 50 watt GMRS handheld unit would solve my vehicle to spotter and vehicle to vehicle comms challenges. With the ability to even listen to trucker frequencies (i.e a commercial scanner) and my InReach/PLB, we'd have all our comms needs met in a tidy package.
 

ChasingOurTrunks

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In Oz you will find 477MHz UHF fitted to many recreational fwd. Many carry two units - one to use for convoy communications when travelling in groups, the second set to the channel used by heavy vehicle drivers (in remote areas it’s not unusual to encounter trucks with 3-4 trailers and UHF is used to coordinate overtakes).

The same UHF units paired with 1-5W handhelds are the go-to for immediate vicinity comms.

Folks increasingly carry an EPIRB or PLB (406MHz COSPAS/SARSAT typically) in remote areas.

Commercial vehicles in remote areas and dedicated desert tourers carry HF (shortwave) radios which similarly require licensing. There is a national 4WD HF network which can reach around the country and offers radio-phone connectivity (VKS users please correct me if that’s wrong).

HF seems to have been largely overtaken by satphones, this not necessarily preferred by folks of a defence background as the HF network is felt to be more resilient, and allows one to connect directly to emergency services, remote communities and other old-school push SW services.

Cellular boosters are fairly popular, given Australias mobile phone coverage can be sketchy.

Finally, Starlink appears to be taking off somewhat. The mobile solution in particular will be popular with grey nomads.

For global travel we carried a Garmin InReach, a PLB (in case we got separated) and a pair of UHF handhelds for short range/convoy use (if necessary).
I’d use the Garmin (Iridium) over the SPOT (Globalstar) for international travel, noting that you need to register Iridium devices for use in the Russian Federation.

Conflict zones can get very antsy about you carrying a satphone and even UHF/GMRS etc devices as these have military use. Azerbaijan (I think) required ours to be sealed in a box which was then inspected on exit. Of course you can simply not offer that you have one but failing to declare such things can lead to greater peril than dealing with it up front.

The Garmin InReach got me held for 90mins in a Middle East airport at some point due to it being misunderstood to be a satphone/device of unknown military purpose.

This is a goldmine of advice - very interesting about how Azerbaijan does things! I know quite a few Overlanders have gotten in hot water over drones, but you don't hear about the radios as often but I imagine the headaches are the same (months in prison separated from travelling partner and equipment in some cases, and those are the mild ones).

Very cool about the HF network in Australia. Some parts of northern Canada will have folks using HF radio phones but support wanes the further away you go; I wouldn't describe it as a network, more like "occasional connections to outposts".

We've been looking at Starlink for our current living situation; they just got rid of the daytime unlimited bandwidth I understand. And the hardware is a big bite, but it does seem to be a good option. Time will tell how robust the equipment is for the mobile units -- it may be worth waiting for a few iterations so that the weak points can be addressed. We've also been looking at Cell Bosters and while they don't have a subscription, they cost almost as much as Starlink!

I wish there was a way of combining everything into one unit, so that it:

1) Can communicate on unlicensed FRS bands at 5 watts.
2) Can communicate on licensed GMRS bands at their wattage maximum (50 watts in USA)
3) Can communicate on HAM frequencies, if a person is licensed.
4) Can listen to commercial HF and UHF frequencies.
5) BONUS if it works as a PLB too for emergencies.
6) SUPER BONUS if it has a GPS chip in there and automatically adjusts it's frequency "mapping" (i.e. which frequencies/wattages are allowed) based on where you are currently located to keep it legal.

It seems the hardware would be simple enough in this day and age to do it but the market is probably around 15 people so I doubt it's economically viable!
 

Michael Gain

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We have Baofeng handhelds, a Midland MXT575 GMRS, and a Midland CB.

Both Midlands are in my power wagon, including one of the Baofengs. I will probably replicate the same models in the IG. Both have the controls built into the handset. The CB is an all in one and can also be a handheld. The GMRS brain is under the driver seat.
20220930_174455.jpg
 

globalgregors

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This is a goldmine of advice - very interesting about how Azerbaijan does things! I know quite a few Overlanders have gotten in hot water over drones, but you don't hear about the radios as often but I imagine the headaches are the same (months in prison separated from travelling partner and equipment in some cases, and those are the mild ones).

Very cool about the HF network in Australia. Some parts of northern Canada will have folks using HF radio phones but support wanes the further away you go; I wouldn't describe it as a network, more like "occasional connections to outposts".

We've been looking at Starlink for our current living situation; they just got rid of the daytime unlimited bandwidth I understand. And the hardware is a big bite, but it does seem to be a good option. Time will tell how robust the equipment is for the mobile units -- it may be worth waiting for a few iterations so that the weak points can be addressed. We've also been looking at Cell Bosters and while they don't have a subscription, they cost almost as much as Starlink!

I wish there was a way of combining everything into one unit, so that it:

1) Can communicate on unlicensed FRS bands at 5 watts.
2) Can communicate on licensed GMRS bands at their wattage maximum (50 watts in USA)
3) Can communicate on HAM frequencies, if a person is licensed.
4) Can listen to commercial HF and UHF frequencies.
5) BONUS if it works as a PLB too for emergencies.
6) SUPER BONUS if it has a GPS chip in there and automatically adjusts it's frequency "mapping" (i.e. which frequencies/wattages are allowed) based on where you are currently located to keep it legal.

It seems the hardware would be simple enough in this day and age to do it but the market is probably around 15 people so I doubt it's economically viable!
Tactical HF solutions actually cover a lot of those bases, as they’re conceived with the intent of bridging line of sight comms and longer range (100-3,000km, weather dependent) HF solutions, which in turn bridge to the phone network.

In Australia this allows you to connect directly to dispersed emergency services (eg reach the same folks your PLB will alert, albeit bypassing the central location that triages and farms out reports of activated PLBs), with the added plus that your communication is 2-way. In isolated outback Australia they usually send a fixed-wing aircraft out to over fly as a first response and they can reach out on both UHF and HF frequencies. You generally want a minimum 5W handheld though as watching the rescue plane fly by when you’re at the bottom of some gully would surely be pants.

Depending on what aerial you go for, HF will also send GPS coordinates along with your transmission which solves this problem.

A device called a crossgate is used to bridge from VHF/UHF to HF, although in my mind this is commercial/NGO/military stuff rather than for a regular punter.

Problem really is expense, all HF capability rings in at 3-4x the cost of a satellite phone albeit annual licence fees are a fraction of satphone subscription costs.
On the plus side you’ll be sorted for comms in the post-zombie apocalypse hellscape.

For a recreational/agriculture use case, the recent Garmin Tread is pretty nifty. It marries an Overlander with an InReach, and has a little VHF add-on that can be used for line of sight/convoy comms, and of course with external data source has iOverlander etc on board.
 
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Off.Grid

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Off.Grid

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I currently run a UHF unit in vehicle (GME brand). I will get a UHF unit installed in the IG. Fantastic for immediate vicinity comms, and road. As mentioned above, co-ordination for passing road trains on gravel roads this is a mandatory device.

Accompanying are two 5w hand held UHF units - GME (Australian) and iCOM (Japanese), for general mobility around campsites and passengers out.

Iridium Sat phone (model 9555). Purchased outright and I can use my mobile carrier’s SIM in the phone on an as needs basis (due to global roaming agreement between Iridium and Telstra who is my mobile carrier). For longer trips a monthly causal plan with an Australian SIM and supplied number is available, no contract.

I’ve recently purchased the StarLink RV service. One word - amazing. This is a game changer for remote connectivity and I’ll go so far as saying that in the next few years this will radically alter communications for communities, stations, and working locations in remote Australia (mines, gas fields etc). Starlink RV is monthly billing, but only the months you require. The months you don’t the service and billing can be paused. Currently in Australia the up front hardware costs are 50% for the next two months. This is not useful for vehicle in motion, but StarLink have very recently released a larger Sat receiver for vehicle in motion comms. StarLink is on gen 2 of their general sat receivers, I would call the vehicle in motion receiver announced last week gen 3.

Edit: Starlink unit is 100-240v. There are many detailed articles and videos on how to convert the setup to 12v for mobility.

Also have an EPIRB, though this for me is a life/death device and I’d only use it if the situation is truely serious.

I’ve been very interested in the various discussions regarding the Garmin InReach on this forum, and with the very positive feedback displayed here by forum members I’ll most likely acquire one. Discussions here are great, many members willing to share their experiences and with a sense of humour. I check in regularly during my day to see the varied topics being discussed - thanks to you all.

I still run old school printed topo maps and many many Hema track maps for treks outside of cities (Hema is a Australian mapping company). Google Maps in cities, though I still carry a fairly up to date street map of the city I live in for back up. Google Maps let me down big time in remote Jordan, so tend to not look at that outside of cities.

I’d be interested to hear what people run for their mapping in vehicle, digitally, I’m so far behind on that it’s not funny.
 
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CheJ

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I’m in Australia so constrained by our laws here on UHF/VHF power levels and the need for licensing for HF.

Following the PACE paradigm (Primary, Alternative, Contingency, Emergency)

Primary - iPhone, dual sim on two different networks.

Alternate - CB Radio. I’ve never felt the need to specifically install a CB Radio in my vehicle and simply carry two GME TX6600S handhelds. We’re limited to 5 watts on citizen band so the only real benefit I’d get from a bull bar or roof mounted antenna is elevation.

Contingency - Garmin InReach. Allows me to have two way communication in an emergency which can be helpful for intermediate situations to be able to tell emergency services not to over react and send a helicopter when the threat is not immediate. I.e a breakdown as opposed to a snake bite from a brown snake.

Emergency - GME MT610G PLB. Last line for when the poop has hit the fan. No way to communicate anything to the responder so generally they assume the worst and you can end up with a massive bill to cover the costs (understandably)

I may also look into HF at some stage but more from a geek perspective :)

Starlink also looks awesome but not sure I could stomach that cost for something I’m not going to use all the time.

I think I may be a bit paranoid but absent bush knowledge like Les the Bushtucker Man I feel like that level of paranoia is appropriate.
 
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ChasingOurTrunks

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I think I may be a bit paranoid but absent bush knowledge like Les the Bushtucker Man I feel like that level of paranoia is appropriate.

I love the simplicity of the PACE acronym.

And I don't think your being paranoid at all. Further to @Off.Grid 's comments on the InReach, I mentioned previously that ours failed on us overnight. Totally bricked for no apparent reason. This was after I was texting my dad back and forth (A bit of a chit chat to solve the worlds problems, as one does with a dad!) the night before so it was working great, then suddenly wasn't. That happened in July of 2020, in a remote gravel pit in Northern Ontario, Canada with zero cell coverage.

A few months prior, we were on a different adventure through northern Saskatchewan. We stopped for some Coffee (Not TIm Hortons - I'm Canadian, but I'm not THAT Canadian, and Tim Hortons lukewarm dishwater that they call Coffee is an affront to the senses and stomach, but I digress). I ran in for the necessary caffeination while my wife spun our dogs out for a bathroom break. My wife is super athletic, very nimble and agile and healthy. Lots of experience camping and overlanding, and I'd have no doubt she could do a solo circumnavigation if she wanted to, as she has the skills and brain to pull it off. But on this day, she put a foot wrong in the car park, fell, and broke her leg in two places as quick as a blink.

Both of those situations were just random luck; as it happened when my wife did break her leg we were just a few minutes drive from the nearest hospital, tiny as it was, and they fixed her up -- no surgery, and the bone healed naturally, which is a bonus -- but she could have easily put a foot wrong in the gravel pit instead of the car park, and we'd have been without cell signal, and without an InReach for an emergency SOS. By the time I would have gotten her to a hospital, who knows - jostling of an injury like that increases dramatically the chances of complications like blood loss or clotting, and at the very least I'm quite sure she would have required surgery.

The point of the above is I don't think you are too paranoid when planning for backcountry emergencies - things go sideways, and they do so fast, and it can happen to anyone.
 

ChasingOurTrunks

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I currently run a UHF unit in vehicle (GME brand). I will get a UHF unit installed in the IG. Fantastic for immediate vicinity comms, and road. As mentioned above, co-ordination for passing road trains on gravel roads this is a mandatory device.

Accompanying are two 5w hand held UHF units - GME (Australian) and iCOM (Japanese), for general mobility around campsites and passengers out.

Iridium Sat phone (model 9555). Purchased outright and I can use my mobile carrier’s SIM in the phone on an as needs basis (due to global roaming agreement between Iridium and Telstra who is my mobile carrier). For longer trips a monthly causal plan with an Australian SIM and supplied number is available, no contract.

I’ve recently purchased the StarLink RV service. One word - amazing. This is a game changer for remote connectivity and I’ll go so far as saying that in the next few years this will radically alter communications for communities, stations, and working locations in remote Australia (mines, gas fields etc). Starlink RV is monthly billing, but only the months you require. The months you don’t the service and billing can be paused. Currently in Australia the up front hardware costs are 50% for the next two months. This is not useful for vehicle in motion, but StarLink have very recently released a larger Sat receiver for vehicle in motion comms. StarLink is on gen 2 of their general sat receivers, I would call the vehicle in motion receiver announced last week gen 3.

Edit: Starlink unit is 100-240v. There are many detailed articles and videos on how to convert the setup to 12v for mobility.

Also have an EPIRB, though this for me is a life/death device and I’d only use it if the situation is truely serious.

I’ve been very interested in the various discussions regarding the Garmin InReach on this forum, and with the very positive feedback displayed here by forum members I’ll most likely acquire one. Discussions here are great, many members willing to share their experiences and with a sense of humour. I check in regularly during my day to see the varied topics being discussed - thanks to you all.

I still run old school printed topo maps and many many Hema track maps for treks outside of cities (Hema is a Australian mapping company). Google Maps in cities, though I still carry a fairly up to date street map of the city I live in for back up. Google Maps let me down big time in remote Jordan, so tend to not look at that outside of cities.

I’d be interested to hear what people run for their mapping in vehicle, digitally, I’m so far behind on that it’s not funny.

For maps we use a combination of things.

For paper maps, I rely on the Backroad Mapbooks. For anyone wanting to Overland Canada, these are a great resource and they cover most of the country. They are expensive as $30 only gets you 1/4 of a province, but you can buy digital versions that cover the whole thing. Their maps are also a dataset in Gaia, which brings me too...

For digital, I rely on a mashup of several apps. Apple Maps handles the majority of my on-road navigation. I have found they all have a similar barrier - the fact that they are limited in terms of what maps they can have "on device" vs "on the cloud", because for most of our trips, maps "on the cloud" are not useful. But, occasionally off road, we use Gaia when we need it. Honestly I prefer using paper maps, rather than digital ones, and using the electronic doodads to pinpoint my location. This gives me a strange sense of (probably false) confidence that I can still do things "the old fashioned way" and self-rescue if I get lost. And we often use iOverlander to find sites to spend the night.

I'm glad t hear your comments on the Starlink RV setup. We will likely go that route eventually. And that ability to use a Telstra SIM in an Iridium phone is brilliant, if we had that here I would for sure be adding a sat phone to my repertoire, but the challenge here is the expense, especially when compared to something like an InReach at $30/month.
 

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I love the simplicity of the PACE acronym.

And I don't think your being paranoid at all. Further to @Off.Grid 's comments on the InReach, I mentioned previously that ours failed on us overnight. Totally bricked for no apparent reason. This was after I was texting my dad back and forth (A bit of a chit chat to solve the worlds problems, as one does with a dad!) the night before so it was working great, then suddenly wasn't. That happened in July of 2020, in a remote gravel pit in Northern Ontario, Canada with zero cell coverage.

A few months prior, we were on a different adventure through northern Saskatchewan. We stopped for some Coffee (Not TIm Hortons - I'm Canadian, but I'm not THAT Canadian, and Tim Hortons lukewarm dishwater that they call Coffee is an affront to the senses and stomach, but I digress). I ran in for the necessary caffeination while my wife spun our dogs out for a bathroom break. My wife is super athletic, very nimble and agile and healthy. Lots of experience camping and overlanding, and I'd have no doubt she could do a solo circumnavigation if she wanted to, as she has the skills and brain to pull it off. But on this day, she put a foot wrong in the car park, fell, and broke her leg in two places as quick as a blink.

Both of those situations were just random luck; as it happened when my wife did break her leg we were just a few minutes drive from the nearest hospital, tiny as it was, and they fixed her up -- no surgery, and the bone healed naturally, which is a bonus -- but she could have easily put a foot wrong in the gravel pit instead of the car park, and we'd have been without cell signal, and without an InReach for an emergency SOS. By the time I would have gotten her to a hospital, who knows - jostling of an injury like that increases dramatically the chances of complications like blood loss or clotting, and at the very least I'm quite sure she would have required surgery.

The point of the above is I don't think you are too paranoid when planning for backcountry emergencies - things go sideways, and they do so fast, and it can happen to anyone.
My car has 11 airbags, I have so far not used any of them. What a stupid waste of money and resources.
Until I need them.
Not so stupid now huh!
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst
 
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I still have several hundred 1:250,000 and 1:100.000 maps covering Central Australia and the top end of NT and Far North Queensland FNQ. They are a scarce thing these days but also have the Garmin Overland to back things up when the map detail is out of date. The HF and the UHF will be installed into the grenadier when it arrives late next year.
 

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I currently run a UHF unit in vehicle (GME brand). I will get a UHF unit installed in the IG. Fantastic for immediate vicinity comms, and road. As mentioned above, co-ordination for passing road trains on gravel roads this is a mandatory device.

Accompanying are two 5w hand held UHF units - GME (Australian) and iCOM (Japanese), for general mobility around campsites and passengers out.

Iridium Sat phone (model 9555). Purchased outright and I can use my mobile carrier’s SIM in the phone on an as needs basis (due to global roaming agreement between Iridium and Telstra who is my mobile carrier). For longer trips a monthly causal plan with an Australian SIM and supplied number is available, no contract.

I’ve recently purchased the StarLink RV service. One word - amazing. This is a game changer for remote connectivity and I’ll go so far as saying that in the next few years this will radically alter communications for communities, stations, and working locations in remote Australia (mines, gas fields etc). Starlink RV is monthly billing, but only the months you require. The months you don’t the service and billing can be paused. Currently in Australia the up front hardware costs are 50% for the next two months. This is not useful for vehicle in motion, but StarLink have very recently released a larger Sat receiver for vehicle in motion comms. StarLink is on gen 2 of their general sat receivers, I would call the vehicle in motion receiver announced last week gen 3.

Edit: Starlink unit is 100-240v. There are many detailed articles and videos on how to convert the setup to 12v for mobility.

Also have an EPIRB, though this for me is a life/death device and I’d only use it if the situation is truely serious.

I’ve been very interested in the various discussions regarding the Garmin InReach on this forum, and with the very positive feedback displayed here by forum members I’ll most likely acquire one. Discussions here are great, many members willing to share their experiences and with a sense of humour. I check in regularly during my day to see the varied topics being discussed - thanks to you all.

I still run old school printed topo maps and many many Hema track maps for treks outside of cities (Hema is a Australian mapping company). Google Maps in cities, though I still carry a fairly up to date street map of the city I live in for back up. Google Maps let me down big time in remote Jordan, so tend to not look at that outside of cities.

I’d be interested to hear what people run for their mapping in vehicle, digitally, I’m so far behind on that it’s not funny.
My Garmin subscription (for the InReach device) includes access to the Garmin global topographic map database (which you can also access from your phone), which means downloadable maps almost wherever you might find yourself (for the Russian Federation, and I think for Iran, we used OpenStreetMaps.org and Maps.me, which is what the locals mostly use). Only used paper maps in Iran, for the benefit of our local fixer who didn’t trust the sorcery shining out of the device on the dash. Did however carry paper maps as a backup in Central Asia.

Tempted to also note that arguably maps are not so crucial as one might presume, eg. Mongolia - the whole population are ‘overlanders’. Which is a roundabout way of saying that in many places the best way to navigate is to start by asking the locals (could be I learned this from Les on the TV). You may not get a straight geospatial answer but in most parts of the world it triggers the hospitality instinct and can be both the safest and most memorable way to move from place to place - passed along by named contacts, family members etc etc. Cultural exchange.

One benefit of the InReach not discussed is that it has decent battery life if you need to abandon the vehicle and move out on foot. This is not a recommended course of action in remote Australia (the plane will spot a car, but absent a PLB it might not find you on foot in time) but if things have gone south in the Wakhan Corridor or something then it’d be good to be able to grab the thing and scoot.
 
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emax

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Reading maps is a real pleasure for me, I love it. It's like walking around the area - if you know how to interpret the map.

Although I am an IT guy and electronic maps have many advantages, they can never beat the overview and overall orientation you get with a paper map.
 
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globalgregors

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Reading maps is a real pleasure for me, I love it. It's like walking around the neighborhood - if you know how to interpret the map.

Although I am an IT guy and electronic maps have many advantages, they can never beat the overview and overall orientation you get with a paper map.
Yeah, I love a paper map and always carry them, just not necessarily to a topographic resolution.

When roaming globally it can be very helpful to have a digital record of your journey available as an evidence point for a border control office or security personnel that might be anxious about the nature of your journey/interest and intention in their country etc etc.

As these records reside in the cloud not on the device it also protects one (to an extent) against allegations that one has been somewhere verboten.

And of course one’s digital breadcrumbs are a source of comfort and interest for those following your long range journey.

But yeah, I’m still at heart a Boy Scout trying to spot the mapped geographic feature in the landscape.
My particular joy is pairing a digital theodolite with a paper map.

5B14276D-67D8-4516-A895-18F609121B43.jpeg
 
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Off.Grid

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Yeah, I love a paper map and always carry them, just not necessarily to a topographic resolution.

When roaming globally it can be very helpful to have a digital record of your journey available as an evidence point for a border control office or security personnel that might be anxious about the nature of your journey/interest and intention in their country etc etc.

As these records reside in the cloud not on the device it also protects one (to an extent) against allegations that one has been somewhere verboten.

And of course one’s digital breadcrumbs are a source of comfort and interest for those following your long range journey.

But yeah, I’m still at heart a Boy Scout trying to spot the mapped geographic feature in the landscape.
My particular joy is pairing a digital theodolite with a paper map.

What device is the image in your last post from?
 
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