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Old 03-02-2014, 9:16 PM
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Question Storm Chasing Radio?

Hey guys,
So, I got my HAM license last year after most of the good storms had already happened and there wasn't much to chase I'm gearing up for the storm season, and I was wondering if you guys had any reccomendations for a good mobile/handheld rig that I can run in the vehicle and at home?
Thanks! Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, btw :/
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Old 03-03-2014, 12:35 PM
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Well that depends.... What are you looking for and how much is your budget?

Do you want 2M, or 2M/70cm, or any other bands?
Do you want a mobile radio or a handheld radio?
Any specific modes you need to use such as D-Star?
Do you want ham radio gear, or commercial gear?
New or used?
Are you going to move the one radio from car to home, or get one for home and one for car?


To my knowledge there's not any radios that are specific to storm spotting, so pick the radio that best suits your needs and budget.
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Old 03-03-2014, 2:36 PM
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I would look for a weather resistant radio like at least a yaesu vx7..Had many events outside and in the rain. Lessor brands failed or were sent in for repairs. The vx7 is at least dual band, 4 watts on high power but you will not be satisfied with any ht's power output. If you are out chasing "rainbows", a radio that reaches out will be appreciated. A good mobile antenna, a Larsen dual band or a Diamond dual band work well. If you get a dual band mobile, get one that crossbands. Now with a vx7 radio, you can get out of the car during a rain event, talk back to your car and use the cars radio to reach out. Your HT can operate on low power, millawatts even, your HT will last a day or two. But really a HT that is weather resist or weatherproof will serve you well. To be extra safe, take a long a zip lock bag and pass the radio inside taking the antenna and pushing it up through the plastic. Toy can hear well enough and the radio will staqy dry.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:35 PM
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If you are looking to do strictly 2 meters, I have a Motorola Astro Spectra VHF w4 head with a Motorola Astro Saber for a portable both are rely good rigs
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Old 03-07-2014, 2:08 AM
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I can't really recommend a good unit as there are many factors others have touched on. One thing I would recommend in edition to whatever you get. You might also want to consider getting a good CB radio as well for when you go mobile like the Uniden 980SSB. It will come in real handy especially around these parts and since you're in Oklahoma. I know a lot of us around here have done that for general talkaround and will come in real handy when you get out in parts where mother nature has wrecked havoc and there is no cell service or repeater and you have no clue whats going on or really where you are. Mainly just used for emergency situations or you can use it for a general talkaround to stay off the general spotter talkaround freq and since your primary is going be reserve for emergency traffic only during net conditions. Just something to consider as well. Not a must but, can be a life saver.
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Old 03-07-2014, 3:33 AM
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My recommendations would be to get a dual-band VHF/UHF radio so you can follow the repeaters for the area where you're spotting. While many are on VHF, there are several on UHF. Some areas link their repeaters on the two bands during severe storms and depending on conditions you may get in better on one band vs. the other.

Another recommendation would be to include APRS on your mobile setup (perhaps an additional low-end VHF only radio so it will have minimal impact on your primary radio's functionality). This will help the net control better identify and track your location (assuming you let them know you're reporting your location on APRS).
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Old 03-07-2014, 4:49 PM
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The best advice that you can get is to talk to a sky warn/storm chaser in the area that you intend to work in and see what they use. Every area is different. Where I live HT's (without an outside antenna) are worthless. It does take time to connect and disconnect antennas if you get out of the car. CB (really?) is for the most part dead in my area even though there is 1 REACT group about 50 miles away. Two meter simplex is used to communicate with each other and 2 meter repeaters to talk to NWS offices. I have a 55 watt 2 meter Yaesu with a 5/8 wave antenna, a Yaesu VX170 HT and monitor a bearcat scanner in my pickup.
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Old 03-07-2014, 5:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sloop View Post
CB (really?) is for the most part dead in my area even though there is 1 REACT group about 50 miles away. Two meter simplex is used to communicate with each other and 2 meter repeaters to talk to NWS offices. I have a 55 watt 2 meter Yaesu with a 5/8 wave antenna, a Yaesu VX170 HT and monitor a bearcat scanner in my pickup.
While yes, general day to day use of CBs are dead. It was merely a suggestion as an emergency situation only use radio in edition to a HAM rig for back up emergency use only as I originally stated. Not for primary use or day to day use. CBs are widely used through out Oklahoma and Texas during severe weather events for general car to car communications as well as when you're in an area when there is no other comms due to ether being outside of the range of a repeater or the repeater being destroyed and no cell service and the OP is in Oklahoma. I was on two storms last year where this happened twice in Oklahoma not far from the OP and a storm in 2012 here in my area in Texas where it happened and know of several others this has happened to on several occasions who also are equipped with CBs for this exact reason . That is why spotters around here use them for emergencies and general car to car. Having the CB was a life saver when you have no outside comm or cell service and/or you get in trouble and need to send out a distress call. While yes your general comm will be through 2 meter repeater when communicating with NWS or the Net. I don't know about there but, I am pretty sure it is the same protocol. All reports to NWS is relayed through Net Control during a Skywarn Net condition. So you're never directly communicating directly to NWS. You call in your reports to the Net and the Net relays that to NWS. That is the way it is done here. Also during Net conditions the repeater is reserved for emergency traffic only. So around here yes, CBs are widely used and come in very handy during severe weather events as an emergency or general car to car talkaround within ground zero when no other comms are available. Do you have to have it? No, and I even stated that in my orignal response but, it is nice to have and could save your life and it's all about spotting safely and having adequate redundancy plans in place.
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Old 03-07-2014, 6:11 PM
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Get whichever one you like. I would recommend a dual band mobile as most modern dual band mobiles will allow dual VHF or dual UHF operation at the same time. Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood....stick with the top three and you should do fine. Be careful of the reviews. Many ham will just whine about the menu, or the button layout. You have to weed out the opinions and stick with the facts. I'd be more worried about failures while reading reviews vs someone not liking the placement of the VFO button.
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:53 PM
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Default Storm Chasing Radio

I would echo what N5IMS and others said about getting a decent dual band mobile radio for spotting/chasing. In eastern Colorado where I live, we use 2 meter repeaters to talk to the nets and UHF to talk car to car simplex if we are close enough. I don't know what your situation is but I would not be dependent on a handheld (even with a magnetic mount antenna on your car).

As to a particular brand, Yaesu/Kenwood/Icom/Alinco are all good radios - the difference being the difference between Ford/Chevy/Dodge and your personal preference for the radio.

Hopefully you have taken a Spotter's class from the local NWS office as well. The recent Storm Chasers' convention concentrated on spotter safety and the deaths of three chasers and another vehicle full of Weather Channel personnel being caught by the same tornado outside of El Reno, OK, last May. Too easy to get hurt out there and situational awareness is an absolute must. Good luck!
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Old 03-11-2014, 8:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KF5WVN View Post
Hey guys,
So, I got my HAM license last year after most of the good storms had already happened and there wasn't much to chase I'm gearing up for the storm season, and I was wondering if you guys had any reccomendations for a good mobile/handheld rig that I can run in the vehicle and at home?
Thanks! Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, btw :/
-Aaron
KF5WVN
First, I would take an appropriate Storm Spotter class, and see if "chasing" is recommended or not. The worst thing public safety needs during a storm is some untrained joebob with a radio getting in the way. Not meaning to be rude... just some of this stuff is life threatening, and I've seen and heard far too many "Whackers" who mainly get in the way.

Anyhow, typically there are weather nets where spotters report to. Whatever band they operate on, buy an appropriate radio. Really, any radio will do, unless you want to get wet. Yeasu makes a few waterproof HTs.
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Old 03-11-2014, 9:06 PM
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[QUOTE=KD8DVR;2152227]First, I would take an appropriate Storm Spotter class, and see if "chasing" is recommended or not.



There is a diffrence between Spotters and Chasers. Spotters are trained to be in a safe area to report conditions where Chasers are actually out in the crap and not being careful. This is taught in your basic Skywarn Classes. I have taken all of the Skywarn classes and they will stress to you throughout the whole class and at the begining of each class you are not there to learn to become a "chaser" You are being trained to be a spotter. Which means when safe to do so you report in to the NWS or local Severe Weather Net on the conditions of your area. I know in my neck of the woods we are in the process of getting a repeater link set up with the NWS so when severe weather does hit we can make a direct communication to NWS instead of having to call or use the internet to report anything.
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Old 03-11-2014, 9:09 PM
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My best advice for you is to contact your local NWS and see when there having a basic skywarn spotter class and also Contact your local EC and see what protocal is when severe weather does hit your area and what types of commuications or repeaters they might use when it does hit.

Also ask other hams in the area if they have a skywarn/ares net for when severe weather hits
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Old 03-11-2014, 9:37 PM
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Quote:
The worst thing public safety needs during a storm is some untrained joebob with a radio getting in the way. Not meaning to be rude... just some of this stuff is life threatening, and I've seen and heard far too many "Whackers" who mainly get in the way.
In the way of public safety? As long as you are spotting and don't try to enter storm damaged areas, you won't be in violation of any laws. Heck, most "regular citizens" rarely check the weather when they go out and will more likely be in the way of F/P/EMS than you.

I have checked into the local weather net a few times when I had to stop driving due to visibility. The noise of driving rain, wind, and hail will drown out most handheld speakers, unless they have the high 800 mw audio amps. Definitely go for a mobile with a good external speaker on what ever frequencies are used in the area. As far as CB goes, I liked mine so much, I swapped in a 6 meter mobile in it's place. If there was a dedicated CB group doing storm watching, then it might be worth the installation trouble.

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Old 03-17-2014, 6:31 PM
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Hello,
When I first started in ham radio my first HT was a Yaesu FT-60 dual band and for mobile I used a Yaesu 7800-R dual band rig. Kenwood and Icom also have great radios just do some research and see what is best for you. But as the other members mentioned I would get signed up for the skywarn class.
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Old 03-17-2014, 6:38 PM
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i use a Yaesu FT-60 and the Yaesu-FT90 both good radios.
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Old 03-17-2014, 8:04 PM
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Exclamation Storm Chasing Radio

I did not mean to give the impression I am a storm chaser... I have been a member of Skywarn as a 'Spotter' for 24 years. I attend the Storm Chaser's convention as a way of learning spotting techniques and sharing info with others... The general tone of the convention was whether you spot or chase, do it wisely given the number of fatalities and injuries last year. Tim Samaras was a very experienced scientist and storm researcher. I had a great deal of respect for Tim and his efforts. There was a differentiation made between Tim and his crew of scientists and the Weather Channel's crew chasing the storm. Several presentations were made that emphasized the difference between the two.

I did not realize until the programs at the convention that a fourth spotter/chaser was killed that awful afternoon at the end of May. I do not know whether he was just out chasing or was part of a spotter's network. It did emphasize the importance of NOT going out alone to spot/chase. Situational awareness suffers when you are trying to do everything your self.

Go out this year, have fun, but do it safely!
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:46 PM
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Sometimes the required weather information may or may not be found outside your window. The deal with the tornado chasers is the same as with skydivers, bungee jumpers, base jumpers, free climbers, ice climbers, and motorcycle racers to list a few. The element of risk is too high for most of us to understand. Regular people don' t do those kind of things. Even being a firefighter or a SWAT team member occurs much more risk than the usual occupations (mine especially).

ABC's WIde World of Sports: "The Thrill of Victory or the Agony of Defeat."

Chase the storms. Just don't do it with the kids in the car. LOL.

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Old 03-22-2014, 11:10 AM
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Amen on the safety and it is true that NWS during SkyWarn sessions are constantly preaching spotter safety versus chasing which is common misconception for those new to this avenue. Spotters work as a team where chasers are out only for themselves to get paid.

I can't speak for SC as it seems things are quite different there than it is here from what I have read from a couple people in SC. I was on that El Reno, OK storm as a spotter but I was several several miles away. Chasers will be lined up for miles down a road or in a convoy booking it down the road and not just a handfull ether. We are talking 50+ or more which is a lot more traffic than normal even with general public and causing first responders who have to reduce code because of the weather and traffic delaying response because of thia for their own safety to baby sit these fools. I won't get into the chaser vs spotter as it has been beat to death.

Like others have stated, there are many factors that come into play when it comes to selecting a radio. I definitely wouldn't go with a HT as your primary radio. I would recommend a good mobile dual band radio and good antenna as some work off of 2m and some 70cm. They are referred to has 2m/440 radios. Seeing that you are in OK though, good luck getting on simplex. You won't get in a word edge wise and if you have a HT it is pretty much pointless. You go with a 2m radio and you get in an area where the repeater is on 440 you're screwed. That is why a dual band is very good to have and this is why I highly recommend also having in addition, not as your primary but, in addition a good SSB CB like the Uniden 980 which is the choice of many in this area. More than you would think. You will get a lot better range vs simplex with a HT and it won't be slammed packed with traffic. Plus it is really nice for general car to car com as I have mentioned. All my radios are iCom but my mobile rig is the iCom IC-2820H and my HT is the ID-51A. I like the 2820 because it can use 2 antennas and will work off the one with the strongest signal. Pricey but when it comes to your radios which could be your only lifeline you don't want to go cheap. Especially not in tornado alley.
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Old 03-26-2014, 7:07 PM
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You will likely want a dual band radio.. The W5IAS linked repeater system covers most of the eastern part of the state and is 70cm and is used for storm spotting.

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