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Mobile communications

I was curious what mobile communication equipment each of you use for chasing and information while out on a chase. Do you use a HAM radio, scanner, GMRS/FRS radio, cell phone, laptop or something else? I use scanners and cell phones mostly but also use my laptop when I have a chance to stop and get data acquisition.
There are so many different mediums for communications and data that I would like to know what works best for you in a mobile situation.
I've always used cell phone for reporting, that's basically all I've used since I began storm spotting and for storm chasing and has worked well for the most part - but have lost signal every now and then. But I'm going to start studying very soon to take my technican exam to become a licensed ham.
I always use 2M/70cm ham. I use FRS for car-to-car with non-hams rarely. I use my cellphone where it works, and of course anything I can attach to my laptop. I use a scanner for rapidly scanning ham bands, or to monitor police to try to avoid traffic accidents, storm damage, or flooded areas during travel.

The single communications most useful thing (other than a cellphone and internet) is the ham radio. I encourage chasers to be hams. It's an easy test and an inexpensive radio these days. It allows several options including car-to-car and chaser-to-NWS types of communications. Also, "chaser simplex" freqs are often interesting places to meet other chasers.

(strangely enough, I still meet "real chasers" with CB radios in their vehicles...I still can't figure that one out. )
I am taking my HAM exam next week. They had to schedule it then to allow the other VE's to be there. I am really looking forward to getting my license.

Right now, it's a scanner for information, Ham Radio for information and a Cell Phone for reporting. Between myself and another reporter, there's generally too much distance between us for FRS/GMRS. Neither of us has a Tech License for 2M Ham yet, but we're working on that.

Haven't done any Wi-Fi work yet, as there isn't really a whole lot out in this neck of the woods. If we can talk our General Manager into it, Cingular has an option that appears pretty good for mobile internet access. I know the Channel Five spotters are using it and it seems to be a decent option. Still a bit pricey for the single chaser though.

I have considered the HAM approach, but don't have the time at the moment. Currently cell phone and laptop are my two preferred (and only available) methods. Many folks don't RTFM on their wireless routers, so I can quickly stop in most neighbourhoods and "borrow" the connection. I'm not sure if this is an ethical approach, however, I'm not using the connection for any length of time, abusing the pipe, or using it for illegal activity, so I'm still sleeping at nite...

Be well, TR
Scanner, laptop (w/Sprint data connection and truckstop.net account) and cell phone. I will probably try to get my Ham license in the next few months.
In the past it has just been cell phone and FRS for car-to-car comm. However, I recently got my ham license, so in the future I'll have 2m/70cm and I hope to get cellular internet sometime in the future.

2meter, Cell Phone, Laptop (getting the cell link adapter in the next couple of months)...Not a licensed ham yet, but plan on getting it in the next couple of months.... Next year will be a full swing year for me as I am starting to save now for next years budget.... 3 times out this year, and went bust....!!! :oops:
Hopefully Wichita will get some storms over the 9th-11th weekend as I will be down there showing the chase truck at Automobilia..... :D
Right now... cell phone for reporting and getting nowcast updates, scanner to listen to local nets and wx radio, and... don't laugh... but we do keep a CB radio in the van, although we ever seldom use it. I am starting to study for my ham license, though!
Ham Radio..........2M/70cm bands w/ APRS for packet info.
I also send out GPS packets so my location and current WX can be tracked through the WWW wherever I am (as long as I turn on my GPS :wink: )

VHF/UHF Digital trunked scanner RS Pro 96

Cell Phone

Borrowed wireless connections.

Next year I will also have WxWorx.

Right now... cell phone for reporting and getting nowcast updates, scanner to listen to local nets and wx radio, and... don't laugh... but we do keep a CB radio in the van, although we ever seldom use it. I am starting to study for my ham license, though!

Laura, personnally CB's are fine! Just last june 24th we were 6 chasers in 3 seperate cars and our method of communication is through CB's. It's cheap, there's no monthly fees like cell's and it works good!

I use cell phone only for reporting and getting some nowcast. The CB I use is the Uniden PRO538W with a Wilson "Lil Wil" antenna.
CB, scanner and cell phone. CB has been handy when travelling in caravans and channel 19 is helpful for avoiding traffic jams.

The only reason I haven't gone to Ham yet is because after spending thousands this year on WxWorx, new cameras, gas money, and vehicle repairs, I'm having a hard time swallowing another couple hundred or more on a ham setup. I'll eventually get around to it, possibly by next season.
Radio,wx Radio, scanner, cell phone and tv.

Likely add laptop soon to help more at nighttime chasing. It's very un-nerving when you see you might be a little too close at 1 am

Too Close
Right now I have just a cell phone, a weather radio, and a T-Mobile wireless card for my laptop (get around 4KB/sec). I plan to get a scanner down the road, I'm saving up to get a APOC digital scanner (since everything is going digital in the future), and I have been studying for my HAM license.
Newbie to the forum but not the chasing

Names Dan pleasure to meet you all. Anyway im in USA from Wisconsin and belong to a non profit storm tracking group. We plan to cover several states around wisconsin and in the future even the nation, but we are starting with our own state first as we are a new group. Heres the link in case your interested:


Anyway I am using ham radio and have been for about 5 yrs or so it works great for skywarn activities and the ham testing wasnt hard at all as i took a new thing they have been trying out here with great success called video testing.
I went in for technician license bought the book just in case.

But the whole test is covered on these videos they show ya. It lasts about a good 8hrs,most of the day, so plan to take one day out of your weekend. It started saturday and then i came back and took the test sunday morning. But i paid attention to the videos and found i didnt need the book at all. passed easily with flying colors.

Heard alot of other places are adopting this concept cause as you know visual learning is alot faster and easier then reading.

As far as communication equipment:
-2M Radio Shack Ham Radio
-Business Band Radio that our tracking group uses to talk to each other.
-Ranger RCI 2950 CB/10m Ham Radio so i can use for CB or 10/12 Meter general class license communication once I upgrade my license.
-Radio Shack 1000 ch. Base Scanner for home (Police/Wx)
-Radio Shack 100ch. Handheld Scanner for the mobile (Police/Wx)
-Motorola Analog Bag Phone that i use in case of emrgencies and yes my friends analog phones still work. if i use a credit card i pay a roaming fee of $1/min or i can call collect but can only call landline numbers not cell phones for other end to accept charges. BUT that bag phone which has better range then todays cells came in very handy when a tornadic outbreak in our state came and i informed my loved ones of impending danger when i was out chasing.

Future upgrades:
-2M/440 Dual Band Ham Radio (440 band has weather nets as well as 2M)
-Multiband Cell Phone (soon to be)
-APRS which is using packets of data from a GPS hooked to laptop and with a data node box it transmit my exact location &/or weather data if i have a mobile mesonet using the ham radio airwaves. works great for a group situation.

:D Hope this was helpful for my first post lol

I use a real mixture, and have found all of it useful at different points:

2m and 70cm Amateur radios: used extensively; repeaters can extend coverage extensively.

FRS: handy for keeping contact with other non-hams, or during off-chase times.

CB: again good for speaking with non-hams. I usually keep it on ch 19 and listen for reports from truckers.

Scanners (2): I usually have one monitoring EMO type traffic for a given area, the other one is normally set to monitor weather station broadcasts.

AM radio: I carry a Superadio III with me for use during "off-times"; great for pulling in local or distant AM stations to get weather info when other sources are hard/impossible to get. I also try to keep the car radio on applicable stations; they often have bulletins before the weather station does.

Cellphone: handy to keep in touch with home, call in weather reports or for connection to the laptop to receive data. Have found mobile internet coverage via the cellphone to be frustrating so I tend not to depend on it too much.

WiFi card: Very handy these days. You can find a lot of places with coverage these days; grab your data and go!

TV: I use an external antenna, tuner and connection to the laptop. Handy for getting local TV info or for entertainment during "down times".
2m/440: for Skywarn spotting.
Cellphone/Nextel direct-connect: for family communications.Cellphone: use for storm reports when I don't have my 144/440 HT with me.
Scanner:Monitor public saftey and NOAA weather channels
I'm sorta old fashioned, I don't really have mobile radar still. I want something more reliable than dialup for mobile radar and the cost of a mobile highspeed connection is too much still.

I've been a ham since 94, I listen to the NWS and state/county weather nets as well as local law enforcement frequencies for information. When this came out, I had to have it:

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It has been an extremely reliable radio, takes a beating and keeps on tickin.

GPS/Maps on the go courtesy of DeLorme Earthmate, installed on a P3 laptop:
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