Vehicle and Emergency Communication
Vehicle, Koni and Communications
HF RADIOS FOR SALE at Reids Radiodata
(Updated April 2017)
The following information is written from our experience in remote area communications. We are outlining the advantages HF Radio has over any other form of long distance communication.
We are only concerned with HF Radio in this case. Satellite Phones will be dealt with separately at a later date.
High Frequency Radio has been around since the 1920s. In the most basic sense it is a radio capable of communication over land & sea for great distances, up to 3,000 kms usually. HF does not require "repeater stations", phone towers or satellites. HF is genuine Radio-to-Radio contact without the aid of any other hardware.
Again in simple terms, HF signals "bounce" off the atmosphere. This is how the signal can cover such vast distances.
Here are a few simple points about HF Radio. (At this stage think of a HF Radio as an overgrown CB or UHF. Most of the basic principals are very similar.)
We will go into more detail about some of these points later on.
The most advanced HF Radios available today have all of the capabilities listed below. Some are Free to Air, meaning they cost nothing for the time on-air. Others cost a nominal fee, similar to a phone call.
The communication methods listed below are Free to Air.
These communication methods attract fees.
A brief description of all of these methods follows.
- Free to Air - This is when you arrange to speak to someone else at a prearranged time and the most likely frequency. Both parties have to be "On-Air" at the same time for this type of call to work. The older HF Radios will only have this facility.
It is a scheduled call, or better known as a SKED.
- Free to Air - This is the most popular form of HF communication. A selcall is a direct call to another specific HF Radio. Think of it as the same as a phone call. Because the Radios are scanning for incoming calls, you can call at any time. With a Selcall, your number will be displayed on the other radio, with the time you called. So when your mate comes back to the vehicle he will see you have called and when. He can then Selcall you.
- Free to Air - The same as a Selcall, only you send a short text type message (up to 64 characters). This message will be displayed on the other radio along with your Selcall number and the time you called. It is a very handy feature, but is only available in late model Radios and via some Networks. Some Networks also offer message calls to mobile phones and email addresses (via base stations and with higher plans).
- Free to Air - This requires a late model Radio and a GPS that can be plugged into it, (GPS has to be computer compatible). Basically the same as Selcall and Message Calling. You can send or receive a GPS position. Very handy for emergency situations. Some Base Stations also have the capability to "log" your position as well (this usually attracts extra fees over and above basic network plans; some networks also allow logins by family members to check the positions). These systems are great safety nets for workers and travellers in extremely remote areas but are only available via some Networks.
- Fees apply - This is a connection made from your HF Radio to the normal Telephone network, Landline & Mobiles. Your Radio calls a special facility called an Interconnect with a phone or Selcall number. The Interconnect rings the number you sent (or the number programmed in for the Selcall #) and connects you when the phone is answered. This is a very good service and helps travellers contact friends & relatives direct from where ever they may be.
- Fees apply - Send Emails and Faxes as you would from home or the office. These features are only available in a couple of HF Radios. A separate Modem is required as well. Emails can be sent and received through normal Email software such as Microsoft's OUTLOOK. This is very high-level communication, and works exceptionally well. All Emails and Faxes are encrypted for security reasons. Codan's Email system was developed for Bank Transactions originally.
Recent changes to the way HF users can contact the RFDS have created some confusion in regard to emergency calls via HF. For example, as far as we know, the emergency "Red Button" on some HF radios is only applicable for RFDS frequencies at the Port Augusta base (4010, 6890 & 8165 kHz). We haven't been able to find out to date whether they have a selcall number to contact them directly with an HF radio but we'll keep trying. According to the Broken Hill base, they have been experiencing "fatal" problems with their aging HF equipment for a few years now and are in the process of trying to sort it out. Watch this space.......
Please see the RFDS website for contact details for all RFDS bases around Australia RFDS bases. Regardless of the network you choose, if you have HF phone call capability and need medical help in the sticks you can call an RFDS base (see below). All HF users also have the choice of selcalling one of the joint RFDS / VKS-737 bases in WA & QLD only - see How to contact the RFDS via HF Radio in the case of an emergency. For Victoria & Tasmania the only listed phone number is "000" and it is still obviously is the best one to use if in mobile phone range anywhere.
Other than "000", you really only need to know these 24 hour numbers (or just keep the Jandakot number handy as they will pass you on to the relevant base) -:
24 HR PHONE NUMBER
|Western Australia||1800 625 800
via Satellite Phone - 08 9417 6389
|Jandakot Base (near Perth)|
|Central||SA - 1800 7337 72
NT - 1800 7337 68
via Satellite Phone - 08 8648 9555
|Queensland||1300 69 7337||Brisbane|
|New South Wales||08 8088 1188||Broken Hill Base|
Other than that, HF networks usually have their own arrangements in regard to contacting the RFDS (see the table below).
This is an outline of the major HF Radio networks available for recreational use and 4wd travellers, information taken from their websites (November 2015/16). See the table below for comparative costs & services (please be aware that not all radios have all capabilities). By the way, it is a good idea to check out several things before choosing your network; how many members there are for you to communicate with, what services they provide relative to your needs & budget and how flexible they are to deal with.
Please note too that both Reids Radiodata & VKS share 4 of their Voice frequencies. Reids Radiodata & HFRC members have reciprocal arrangements to use each others frequencies (conditions apply). Radtel & HFoZ have joined forces. See table below for details. We must also reiterate here that Beadell Tours use & recommend Reids RadioData, for every type of HF based communication.
In short, we feel that Reids Radiodata is better suited to those who use HF Radios for serious personal and economical communication. Whether it is work or leisure VMS-469 offers many levels of friendly, reliable & economical facilities for all HF users, without the fanfare and complicated red tape. Currently Wayne is in the process of adding Selcall capability for RFDS contact (for Voice & Phone users). Click here to email , visit the website Reids Radiodata or phone Wayne Reid : (02) 6341 1544.
For radio & camping enthusiasts, founded in 1998 and recommended by the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia. Have twice daily skeds - HFRC website
VKS-737 was founded in 1993 and is also more suited to the more social Radio user with daily scheduled call-in times for all members. There are restrictions on the use of certain functions of modern HF radios (for example, no data transmission allowed). They now have bases located at 7 QLD & WA RFDS bases - VKS-737 website
These two Networks are fairly new in this format and have combined but plans are available for each or a combination of both. Emergency Assist is an optional feature available to all plans - Radtel website and HFoZ website
Around since 2010 for outback travellers & Grey Nomads with twice daily skeds. Bases in NSW, QLD & WA - Austravel Safetynet
For printer-friendly version of this table -: HF Networks (need pdf reader)
Please let us know of any errors in the table below - correct to 7 November 2016.
Austravel SafetyNet updated January 2021.
Thanks to all for their assistance.
|FEATURES|| REIDS RADIODATA :
| HF RADIO CLUB :
|VKS-737||RADTEL||HFoZ|| AUSTRAVEL :
|VOICE||$33 per yr
with Bush Telegraph
|$75 per yr
$20 optional per year extra for 200 mins/mnth phone calls to landline/mobiles, unlimited SMS to mobile phones (via base). GPS logging & email distribution service, Club Camps Directory
|$140 per yr
Plans available that are a mix of Radtel & HFoZ with or without Emerg Assist -
$189 - $245
|$65 /yr - Voice, SMS & GPS logging car to car only
$99 /yr - incl SMS & GPS log to base (accessible by family)
$149 /yr - incl SMS to mobile ph & email addresses
(can also receive emails via HF)
** Also require SMS Credits $29 (29c each & no rollover of unused credits)
|$70 per yr
Emergency Call available to all members inclusive
|PHONE||$126.50 per yr
with Bush Telephone
including free Voice
(to landlines & mobile phones, possible to receive incoming calls to HF also)
|via HF-Tel - $13 per month
(incl 10 mins calls)
|$110 / yr - no incl calls
$130 / yr - $20 incl calls
$260 / yr - $150 incl calls
$300 / yr - $200 incl calls
(no rollover of unused calls)
Plans available that are a mix of Radtel & HFoZ with or without Emerg Assist - $189 - $245
|$30 per year for Telcall+ (calls free)|
|PHONE CALL COSTS||call connection - $1.25
to landline - 66c / min
to mobile ph - $1.25 / min
LIMIT 6 minute calls
|200 minutes /month included||after 10 mins - $1.30 / min||No call connection fee
$110 plan - 49c / 30 secs
$130 plan - 49c / 30 secs
$260 plan - 44c / 30 secs
$300 plan - 42c / 30 secs
LIMIT 15 minute calls
|JOINING FEE||nil||$25||for HF-Tel users - $13 + $80 bond||nil||nil||nil|
|FREQUENCIES||5 for Voice (4 shared with VKS-737)
9 exclusively for Radiodata Telephone (6-7 / base) plus 4 extra Voice from HF Radio Club
(HFRC conditions - car to car only, excluding sked times)
|9 for Voice & Phone
plus use of Reids Radiodata frequencies (car to car, car to Reids bases)
|7 for Voice & Phone
(only permitted to communicate with VKS members (except in emergencies), 4 shared with Bush Telegraph)
(only allowed to communicate with HFoZ members for Voice)
|BASES||2 for Voice
4 for Telephone (2 in Cowra)
|4||19 bases (16 locations)
for Voice & Phone
including 7 at RFDS bases
|5 for Telephone, 3 for GPS & Message logging, SMS, Email||6 Bases all for Voice and full Telcall+ features.
2 SDR Receives for public listening via web page
|OFFICIAL SKEDS||nil||skeds morning & evening||skeds - regular with weather, parks & road conditions on request||nil||nil||2 skeds morning & 2 evening Australia wide|
|SMS||Texts car to car on Voice frequencies||yes through base to mobile phones, unlimited with optional package||nil (no data transmission allowed on Voice frequencies)||-||dependent on plan (see above)||True SMS - HF radio to mobile phone (included in Telcall+)|
|MESSAGE RELAYING||yes - 24 hours||yes - at sked times or via QLD operators||yes - free messages from family, relayed during skeds
free urgent telephone calls to family
|-||dependent on plan||yes during skeds, family to mobile via Urgent Contact list operator (all members)
Text messaging store & forward radio mobile to radio mobile. With app from phone to radio mobile (Telcall+)
|SELCALLS||yes - to all bases||yes - to all bases & not during skeds||yes to all bases but discouraged & not during skeds||yes - to all bases||Emergency selcall gets an operator at any base at any time|
|POSITION REPORTING||yes at any time||yes - during skeds||yes - during skeds||dependent on plan
(with optional Emerg Assist only for Radtel - extra $55 /yr)
|yes - verbal & automatic GPS logging|
|GPS LOGGING TO BASE||verbal only||yes with optional package, data accessible by family||verbal only||yes dependent on plan
(with Emerg Assist only for Radtel)
|Yes and mapping phone app. Position logging from HF or phone app. Works for non GPS radios as well.|
|RFDS / EMERG
|Selcall to base for Voice & Phone members coming shortly (free calls to RFDS)||RFDS Direct - Selcall all bases (free, directed to Port Augusta RFDS)||
Selcall Direct - free call to VKS / RFDS Bases in QLD & WA, some Police & other services
Please note -: the 7 joint base stations in QLD & WA also monitor emergency calls from non-VKS members (free)
|With Optional Emerg Assist - Selcall Direct - free to RFDS, some Police & Emerg, Sea Rescue, NRMA etc or via 24 hr Operator||Yes via emergency respondents who will help establish contact.
Assistance via skeds also.
|COMPARISON OF PLANS including
VOICE, PHONE, GPS LOGGING (if avail) FOR 12 MNTHS
(not including joining / setup fees)
(no included phone calls)
(includes 200 mins calls per month)
(includes 10 mins phone calls per month, no data transmissions allowed)
(no included phone calls)
(includes all services - Voice, phone (free calls), SMS, GPS mapping, Mailbox messaging. Emergency selcall available to $70 members as well)
|OTHER||remote diagnostic testing &
HF email network - $8 / week
|Services available for Satellite phones||Reserve Selcall # if inactive - $22 per year||Out-n-About Android app $19.99 for mobile phones (only with Telcall+) - GPS mapping and many other features|
For anyone looking at buying a HF Radio either new or second-hand this may help with your decision. Listed are the most common Radios in use in Australia currently (many thanks to Kim Rhodes, President of Austravel SafetyNet for the Jan 2021 update).
New model Radios available are in black.
|Radio Models||Voice||Selcall||Message||GPS||Phone|| Single Press
|NGT AR Voice||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES||X||YES|
MICK HUTTON & CONNIE BEADELL
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Email : Beadell Tours
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