Ham Radio and Minnesota trail riding

I have never liked the idea of getting stuck somewhere out in the middle of nowhere without cell phone coverage on my bike.  So the idea of using a small handheld Ham radio to reach out to get some help has always been appealing to me. I am pretty new to Ham Radio (received my license last year) but have found the extensive repeater network (if you are not a Ham, then think cell towers for portable radios) in Minnesota impressive.  I uploaded a GPS map of every repeater in Minnesota here.  I think it would be very handy to have along with to see what frequencies would be available in the area you are in.  If there are other Hams out there reading this blog please sound off in the comments about your success (or lack there of) using Ham radio while on the trail.

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5 Responses to Ham Radio and Minnesota trail riding

  1. Klay says:

    In recent years, it seems that cell coverage has gotten to the point where it is better than the coverage available from ham radio repeaters.

    • Norske says:

      I still get dead spots, especially up north. I am interested in heading up there again with a handheld radio and see what I can hit with the built in antenna vs. an external. What’s been your experience?

      • Klay says:

        It’s pretty marginal with only a handheld radio. I have better luck looking for cell coverage than trying to hit a repeater with a handheld ham radio. Now if you’re using a 50 watt two-meter mobile rig with a big antenna, that’s a different matter.

        Most of the places I camp in around the arrowhead country in northeastern Minnesota
        have very marginal cell coverage, but if I hike to the top of a ridge, I can usually get a call through.

        I’m constantly playing with this because I have a ham radio license. Sometimes I set up HF in the campsite, too.

  2. Joe says:

    I couldn’t get your link to the GPS map of repeaters to work.

    My handheld is a Kenwood TH-F6A. My experience in the rural areas is hit or miss with the handheld. For those times when I had no cell coverage I found that about ~50% of the time I could key up a nearby repeater. Then it was a matter of was anybody listening. I’ve had my license for 20 years and I do think the advent of cell phones has impacted the level of activity on the VHF/UHF bands.

    Rubber ducky antennas and limited power certainly impact the performance of HT’s. An external whip antenna mounted to the bike would probably perform a lot better. I’ve seen threads on adventure rider about mounting ham gear on bikes.

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