The Beginners Package

Afternoon everyone, I'm Nick Bender and I'm a recent addition to the stormtrack boards. I've been reading it constantly since the start of the Fall 05 semester, finally getting around to participating. Aside from reading it daily to keep up with current events, I've been digging through past threads regarding equipment everyone takes with them on a chase - I've compiled my own and would appreciate any comments or suggestions on the following stuff. I don't plan on chasing until I graduate, spring 07, so I have time to gather stuff up :D .

Dell Inspiron 9300 Notebook

GRlevel3 - used it throughout the semester to track those fall/winter outbreaks; LOVE it.

96 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo - aren't going anywhere without a ride; or a buddy with a ride =p.

Verizon LG VX6000 cell phone - Did alot of reading about how to use your cell phone for wireless internet connection, I'm on a verizon plan and will do further research on the subject when I get closer to my first chase.

Planning on purchasing
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT with a 18-55mm EF-S Lens.

Sony DCR-TRV480 Digital-8 Camcorder - Not as knowledgeable in the field video as I am in photography, but from what I've read it seems to be a decent bang for your buck camcorder.

DeLorme Earthmate GPS reciever - Born and raised in PA, so I have no knowledge of the roads out West (Yeah PA, no REAL storms here unless you enjoy chasing rain storms and fair weather Cu).

Icom IC-W32A HAM radio - Good way to communicate between chasers, and I'll have plenty of time to study and get my license.

Being a college student, I don't exactly have a ton of money to throw around so I tried to "splurge" on important items and settle for decent quality on the rest. If I left out anything obvious, let me know!
Hi Nick, welcome!
Looks like youve got a good list going, the only thing I have a little knowledge of I can comment on is the radio. The IC-W32A is a handheld right? I had one briefly and love the cross band repeat function. I would, when you pass the tech test, look into a mobile radio for chasing in the west.
You can find good deals at hamfests on a decent mobile rig for less than new price, I would recommend Icom or Yeasu.

My .02,
I have to agree with mrobinett. Save your money for now and get a good MOBILE radio...You will be MUCH happier in the end. Great values can be found at hamfests.
I have a Canon Digital Rebel and LOVE it. Just be sure to get a UV filter, as I understand that the sensor is easily damaged on MOST digital cameras if the sun is in the shot. They are cheap and they also serve as a protection for the lens as you are getting in and out of the vehicle.
DeLorme Earthmate is another good choice. I have used it the past two years going on trips and just around some cities that I am not ALL that familiar with and it has some streets that other programs do not. (small local or private roads)

Good luck!
When you say mobile radio Paul and mrobineet, do you mean a HAM mobile radio?

I'll look into the specifics of them, what's the difference or benefits between a mobile radio and say the hand held HAM radio?
Yes, I mean a HAM radio. You can get radios with all kinds of extras, but choose one that has the features that YOU will use. Personally, I just use mine for voice communications, so a basic radio works fine (and cheaper). I know others, though, that use APRS (GPS reporting) and other uses. For storm chasing, a basic radio will do. Most storm chasers seem to use a 2 meter radio on 146.55 Mhz.
There are also dual-band radios on the market. The question you must ALWAYS answer is, What do I want to do and what uses do I want?

A mobile radio has more power and usually better reception than a hand held radio. This is an important factor out in the field. Even when an external antenna is used with a hand held radio, the performance is less than an mobile radio.

A scanner may be another piece of equipment to consider. There you can monitor weather service transmissions. Here again, a hand held scanner will not work as well as a mobile mounted unit. These can also be found at hamfests and even NEW units aren't that expensive.
I would be using mine almost exclusively for voice communication with other chasers. I'll agree with you on the moble radio being the better bet. With me not having any chances or aspirations of chasing next season (spring 06), I'll have time to save and buy a decent mobile radio - was looking at one from ICOM.

I'm also assuming I'd need to purchase an antenna? From what I have gathered, a GOOD antenna is essential because it relates to the radio's power or range? Correct me if I'm wrong =p.
Just be sure to get a UV filter, as I understand that the sensor is easily damaged on MOST digital cameras if the sun is in the shot. They are cheap and they also serve as a protection for the lens as you are getting in and out of the vehicle.

Actually, I have yet to see evidence of sunlight damaging a digicam's sensor. Sure, shooting directly into the sun at f/2.8 for one minute would be a bad idea, but I don't think a UV filter will help you much... you're still getting energy at all other wavelengths.

I was just browsing that thread mrobinett, and was actually looking said rig. Looks pretty nice for a first timer, and at a decent price as well. Bookmarked the thread and will review it later on when it comes to purchasing the antenna.