What electronic gear is essential for chasing?

Most of the "electronic gear" is going to be the computer you have at home prior to the 'chase'.

Getting the informatio to make a reasonable forecast and then planning to act on that forecast. Once you have an "action" plan getting to the point you believe tp be "the spot" is the other side.

Essentials? AM/FM Radio is a big one. NOAA weather radio is another. Once your in your "spot" you will most likely need to adjust it to the local weather conditions. Radio will help you do this.

GPS is a nice thing to have, but area maps will work as well. real low tech. I know.

A camera is almost essential. You can relive the whole episode and relate it in words to your friends and remember it to your grave. But it's alwasy been said "A picture is worth a thousand words". Expanding, a video camera will give you the motion that stills don't.

Cell phone. Though not absolutely essential, it is very handy.

The rest of the stuff? Eye candy or gadget mania. Take your pick.
 
Probably the alarm clock to get you up to go and check the pc before you leave. :lol:
 
Some sort of audio playback device, such as an in-car AM/FM radio, and/or CD-player, and/or mpeg player to occupy the long hours on the road and drown out the snores of sleeping passengers.... :lol:
 
I am a fairly minimalist chaser, and have found these items to be the only requisites for me:

- GPS. I'm a bit of a map freak,and I can't possibly leave my Garmin III at home. But get paper maps or StreetAtlas, as a GPS is useless for planning out routes and side excursions.

- Scanner. When curiosity or strategy dictates, you may want to tune in NOAA Weather Radio or spotter nets. You'll need a good exterior antenna to pick up anything out in the sticks though.

- The obligatory camera or videocamera. However I've found a bit of irony in that my least-photographed chases are the most enjoyable ones. That's why I've backed a little from all the photography/videography. While I'd regret not getting video of "the big one", sometimes it's just great to be out there and not worry so much about babysitting a camera.

Tim
 
Tim has a very good point with the video cameras, however, I enjoy waay too much watching some of the stuff that goes on, in not only the chase itself, but behind the scenes, so yes, although it does take away from distractions, its vital for me!

HAM radio has also been beyond valuable! That's tops on my list behind the film.. I haven't played with GPS yet.. but I think it'll be on the equip list this coming season. The laptop has also been an incredible asset.. albeit, expensive, it's worth the investment, not only for the WiFi (and general data), but for a bordom killer (The Sims, baby)!
 
Originally posted by Rockwell Schrock
What kind of information can you get from a HAM radio? And how do you know what frequencies to listen on?

KBrews has a large list of frequencies of Plain-area repeaters (including other states as well), mainly listing Skywarn Freqs and Weather nets.

As for info, communication, reporting, and scanning. I had a HAM before having my license, and even as I never talked, I could listen to conversations among chasers in the area and get a real-time idea of what was going on. After getting my license, it was nice to converse with other chasers during chasing. i.e. - on May 24, Amos Magliocco and I pulled out of a core punch because we were hearing talks over the HAM of a possible rain-wrapped tornado. Even as no tornado was confirmed at that time, we were able to know what was going on a couple miles down the road and make a decision based upon that (even as we shouldn't be punching cores in the first place).

The HAM really is hard to share its worth without actually using it in battle. After this season, I was amazed I ever chased without it. Many people don't have them, and it works just fine for them, but I've found it to be invaluable. It's also nice cause it gets better range than a CB, so you at least have the ability to have long conversations on the road! :)
 
However I've found a bit of irony in that my least-photographed chases are the most enjoyable ones. That's why I've backed a little from all the photography/videography. While I'd regret not getting video of \"the big one\", sometimes it's just great to be out there and not worry so much about babysitting a camera.

Very true, but lord knows I get tons of grief over doing that. Some chasers don't understand that videotaping or photographing the storm is not a priority for everybody.

As for what gear is essential...none, really. But man, do I love to carry gadgets out into the field.
 
Originally posted by Chris Sokol
However I've found a bit of irony in that my least-photographed chases are the most enjoyable ones. That's why I've backed a little from all the photography/videography. While I'd regret not getting video of \"the big one\", sometimes it's just great to be out there and not worry so much about babysitting a camera.

Very true, but lord knows I get tons of grief over doing that. Some chasers don't understand that videotaping or photographing the storm is not a priority for everybody.

As for what gear is essential...none, really. But man, do I love to carry gadgets out into the field.


One reason I don't want more than my point and shoot camera. I don't want to worry about looking at the camera.
 
I prefer to keep it real simple. I have a great computer road atlas (MS Streets & Trips), but I find paper maps much more useful during the real action. I have a nice collection of state road atlases.

Of course, AM/FM and weather radio too.

That's it, besides the essentials like a car, gasoline, partner, water, food....
 
MAPS!!! I forgot about those (thanks Bill) *LOL* Yes.. regular ol' maps! Two sets I use.. the Roads of (State) map books and the plastic covered Rand McNally (sp?) state maps... God don't forget the maps!!!!! *LOL*

Yeah.. good point.. I do a lot of map quest to find distances so I know approximate times it takes to get from one place to another.. this is especially useful on multi-day trips or marathon trips!
 
When I decide what area I am going to , I hit Mapquest and/or yahoo maps and print off different ranges. Then take certain ones and mark criteria lines and other points to remeber on them
 
I was expecting for people to respond with comments relating to something like: a GPS receiver hooked up to a laptop that superimposes live dopplar radar images on road maps, or somesuch. I'd even begun to plan out programming such an application. That was the picture I'd gotten in my head of modern chasing, but I guess I was mistaken. I realize that regular road maps and common sense are vital, but I had expected techonolgy to have taken a larger role... After reading these responses, now my thoughts seem like overkill. Is this an accurate deduction?
 
Originally posted by Rockwell Schrock
I was expecting for people to respond with comments relating to something like: a GPS receiver hooked up to a laptop that superimposes live dopplar radar images on road maps, or somesuch. I'd even begun to plan out programming such an application. That was the picture I'd gotten in my head of modern chasing, but I guess I was mistaken. I realize that regular road maps and common sense are vital, but I had expected techonolgy to have taken a larger role... After reading these responses, now my thoughts seem like overkill. Is this an accurate deduction?

I think you will get various responses from chasers depending on how much they chase, how much they can afford, how far they chase, if they chase with others and how many electronics they can handle at one time while chasing, bascially what they want out of chasing. For me, I started out with absolutely nothing but my car, the AM/FM radio and a simple camera. As the years passed I would gradually add and even remove various electronic devices.

I bought a camcorder and am now on my forth one, each being an upgrade. To me camcorders are pretty high on my "need" list. The great thing about camcorders now vs when I started was how much improvement has been made with battery technololgy, it's great! I think a still camera is pretty essential as well. Two years ago I finally upgraded to a digital camera. Although my digital camera is not top of the line and I do plan to upgrade shortly, it may be my best electronic purchase for chasing to date. I take so many more pictures now with my digital camera because I now have no worries of wasting film which gets costly fast. It's also nice to be able to get pics up on the net instantly instead of waiting for them to be developed.

I have also been using a laptop with cellphone connection for 3 years now. To me this is important as well. To be able to grab radar scans while on the road has improved my success dramatically. It's also great to be able to get sat images, sfc maps, spc products, etc as well. Many people are now upgrading the XM systems to get radar data as well. I do not have one but would really like to. At this point, I am not sure I chase enough to make the cost worth while for me, but it's definately on my wish list.

I do not have GPS, still using the old maps. I would get GPS but my laptop is too old to have two things connected at once. For the most part, everything I have heard is pretty good about GPS. Once in a while you will hear people tell stories about how a road was not on a GPS map, but for the most part they say it makes navigating much easier.

A couple of things I no longer use is a scanner and a portable tv. The portable tv was great to get radar but I didn't really need it anymore since I get my data with the laptop now. My AM/FM radio has the NOAA radio frequencies built in so I no longer need to use the scanner for that. I used to use the scanner to listen to spotters give reports about the storms as well but again with the laptop I can pretty much figure out what is going on myself. I was also getting to the point of information overload with the scanner chatting continously during storms. It's actually been nice not having to listen to that the last few years. Also, I don't use my portable weather station any more. The only reason I ever used it was for dewpoint, nothing like overshooting the dryline while in the air conditioned car and not even knowing it! Again, the laptop with the ability to download sfc maps and radar images to find boundries has let me get rid of this.

Many people also use HAM radios to communicate with local spotter groups and with others they may be chasing with. I do not have one and don't plan to get one but I know many think highly of them. For me, I just use my cell phone to communicate with others.

That's pretty much all I use now. The advancement of technology has helped me and let me get rid of some gadgets in recent years and it has definately made my chasing more enjoyable. Again as I said earlier, it's all about what suits your needs. I am sure you will find others that have much more or less then I do. One thing I have tried to do over the years was try to make one major purchase per year and try to gradually build up to what you think you need. Of course once you do, then some camera or something else better comes out and you think you've got to have it. That's the way it goes with electronics I guess.

Hope that helps
 
Rockwell,

I think your going to find that technology gadgets help a chaser in getting to the target area more than anything else. Once a chaser is on the storm of choosing, the old fashioned calibrated eyeball is going to reveal more about a storms behavior than a techno marvel will.

Data input is good, but once the storm is in site, looking at it and seeing what the storm's structure says about it will be key in how the chaser pursues the storm. If I'm close enough to see the base of the storm, I won't need a radar to tell me what it's doing.

I'm lucky though, I have a crew that will give me radar observations and guide me into the most potential storms. Nowcasters provide this same function to a lot of chasers on the plains. There are a couple of folks who offer some pretty darn good nowcasting services for a reasonable price as well.
 
If you can, get the "*state name* Atlas and Gazeteers." Very highly detailed, even if they are a little pricey. I believe Delorme makes them.
 
Just to clarify, the AM/FM radio you're referring to is the radio in your car, correct (as opposed to a portable radio)?

What are some common data sources people use for imagery and the like? I know that bandwidth is in high demand and low supply when you're trying to download images over a cell phone.

Thanks to everyone for your feedback so far; it's great reading these replies.
 
Originally posted by Rockwell Schrock
Just to clarify, the AM/FM radio you're referring to is the radio in your car, correct (as opposed to a portable radio)?

What are some common data sources people use for imagery and the like? I know that bandwidth is in high demand and low supply when you're trying to download images over a cell phone.

Thanks to everyone for your feedback so far; it's great reading these replies.

I don't chase myself, but I know many chasers rely on WiFi hotspots across the plains. I've seen some pretty good maps produced (with GPS coords and all) that contain resutls from WarDriving (looking for accessible WiFi access points), and it seems to me that there's usually one or two that are "chaser-friendly" in most towns. Also, there's truckstop.net which offers WiFi for about 10 bucks a month...however at the moment it looks like it's fallen into some legal trouble, so that might not be available anymore.

With the abundance of Wireless networking and broadband internet connectivity these days, it's not uncommon to drive through a subdivision and be able to connect to the internet via someone's wireless access point that they've left unsecured and have a quick, speedy connection to the internet. Of course the legality of this is probably not sound...however, it is not an unfrequent occurance.

To that end, I'd say that a laptop with good battery life and wireless (802.11b/g) connectivity would be a great investment for the field.
 
Originally posted by Joe Nield
If you can, get the \"*state name* Atlas and Gazeteers.\" Very highly detailed, even if they are a little pricey. I believe Delorme makes them.

Of course, were I smart, I would have realized that this thread was about ELECTRONIC gear. :oops: :lol:
 
For me, a GPS is my #1 equipment choice!

All other equipment is secondary as I make my forecast before I leave town, and after I hit the road, the chase is all visual. A scanner is nice to have, though it tells you what you already know.

I run a $100 Delorme GPS on my old laptop as I have a larger screen to view it as opposed to a handheld unit.

With the GPS, I can pick out dirt roads on the run, and be more aggresive in cheating death!
 
If I had to pick one thing to take electronics wise(other then camera equipment as there is no way I'd even go then, lol) I would take the GPS and laptop. I'd rather have it then any scanning device, any weather radio, anyway to connect to the internet. GPS and Libraries and I'm a happy camper. That is all I really ever use. Next year will be different as I will at least have a second USB to Serial converter so I don't have to restart GPS anytime I want to try to connect digitally.
 
We have a Garmin iQue and it has worked unbelievably well for planning out road trips. Every attempt to stray from its directions have only proven the driver wrong. :) It sounds like that is going to be my companion, but I'm afraid that the small screen will leave out some small details (as compared to a full laptop screen).
 
And I will add that the growing WiFi popularity makes mobile Internet access possible on the laptop. You can drive to your target area and hopefully be able to pull up a visible image, model run or whatever you need.
 
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