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Old 07-29-2004, 11:20 AM   #1
Neil
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Cell phones vs. radios

After reading a thread on the subject of radios over at VFTT I doubt they would fit the bill for my purposes. Which are: to drop my son and his friend at the Loj , drive over to the Gardens and hike towards them as they hike eastward. I'd wait around on a summit somewhere on the Great Range until they met up with me. Then we'd all go back to the Gardens. I definitely don't want to do this without being able to communicate. Has anyone tried cell phone to cell phone communication? How well does that work?
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Old 07-29-2004, 11:39 AM   #2
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Cell phones will only work on or near the summits in the High Peaks.
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Old 07-29-2004, 11:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lumberzac
Cell phones will only work on or near the summits in the High Peaks.
And only some of them at that.

Last week, I insisted that my wife bring her phone (and use it to inform me of her progress**) while she (and my kids) did a Dix Traverse (all 5) as a dayhike when I had to work.

She was only able to get reception on Grace and Dix. No coverage on the others. There seems to be "good" coverage on most peaks that have good "line of sight" vantages to either Lake Placid, Saranac Lake or the I-87 corridor (all have good cell coverage). I don't usually check on peaks, but recently I did it, for giggles, check for service (but made no calls) on my Cliff, Redfield, Skylight and Gray hike. Only Gray got reception, but I'm not sure it would be enough to complete a call. I'm not a big proponant on cell phone useage in the mountains, however, for examples like the one Niel brings and my own, I think it's fine.

** Note ** - not that I'm normally over protective, but she did have an 11 y/o and 13 y/o with her for this "not so easy" dayhike. It comforted me being 300 miles away.
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
** Note ** - not that I'm normally over protective, but she did have an 11 y/o and 13 y/o with her for this "not so easy" dayhike. It comforted me being 300 miles away.
Just wait 'til the young'uns don't want you OR her tagging along. Won't be long.
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:06 PM   #5
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Sounds to me like you might want to look into Garmins RINO's.

Built in GMRS and FRS radios. The GPS works in tandem with the FRS radio and other RINOs. (2 mile line of sight) and will give the distance, bearing and coordinates for anyone keying the radio. With the GMRS you have 5 miles line of site (Optimal conditions) but it won't "read" the other radio,

I have one and a couple of my friends do also. They have worked fine when we wanted to "meet" coming from different directions and also
when we have had to fan out and look for trail or other things.

If you can spare the $$ for them, they are definately another great safety valve.

I was going to get a cell phone once, but then they let me out of jail so I didn't need it!
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:10 PM   #6
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I stopped bringing mine. Coverage is generally so poor I figured I'd be SOL if I really neede dit anyway.
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhawk
Built in GMRS and FRS radios. The GPS works in tandem with the FRS radio and other RINOs. (2 mile line of sight) and will give the distance, bearing and coordinates for anyone keying the radio. With the GMRS you have 5 miles line of site (Optimal conditions) but it won't "read" the other radio,
What does all that mean? And what's the cost?
And exactly when and why did they let you out of jail?
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
What does all that mean? And what's the cost?
And exactly when and why did they let you out of jail?
There are now three garmin RINOS.

I have the cheapest, got it at Walmart for $160. Great GPS, Radio and I can upload. download waypoints and routes. (Optional cable purchase necessary)
I am quite pleases with the features od the GPS also. Does everything I can possiblythink of.

The next one up has more memory and can have topo softeware and other features uploaded into it.

The latest and greatest has all the features of the other two and adds a weather radioo and an electronic compass and altimeter that can be read when not moving. (In case you don't know, the compass on a gps works only when you are on the move).

Here is the link for the RINO 110 (you can check the others there also)

http://www.garmin.com/products/rino/
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Old 07-29-2004, 02:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lumberzac
Cell phones will only work on or near the summits in the High Peaks.
Not necessarily. It depends on the phone you use and, most importantly, your service carrier. I use Cingular and have gotten good signal strength on all summits where I have checked (perhaps around 12 summits) and even in some valley camp sites. The connection wasn't great, but I placed calls from the Lower Wolf Jaw lean too area as well as a camp above JBL.

The Garmin Rinos have very limited range and are definitely line of sight.
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Old 07-29-2004, 03:35 PM   #10
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I have gotten a "fix" on another RINO as far as 1 3/4 mile and I have talked on the GMRS channels up to 5 miles away, Optimal conditions to be sure, One of us was on a peak. I have talked on the Rino and gotten fixes on a consistant basis for the past year at ranges from 1/2 to 1 mile.

I have ben out twice with people who were unable to get out on their cell phomes while two of us were able to communicate with the RINOS (actually My Rino and a Motorola Radio.

Based on my real world experiences after a year of use, I'll put my money on the radios for ranges up to a mile.

Come down here in the Southern Dacks, between Speculator and Northville and cell phones are useless, regardless of the carrier. There are no towers and that isn't going to change.
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Old 07-29-2004, 09:40 PM   #11
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After tuning in to this discussion it sounds like I'd have to be on top of Basin and my kid on top of Marcy, either with cell phones or radios. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll be able to have a conversation, sort of.
Then, if his bud twists an ankle, my son would whip up to a summit, dial D for Dad, and I, hopefully, will be up high enough to receive the signal.
Is that about it?
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Old 07-29-2004, 11:19 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil
After tuning in to this discussion it sounds like I'd have to be on top of Basin and my kid on top of Marcy, either with cell phones or radios. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll be able to have a conversation, sort of.
Then, if his bud twists an ankle, my son would whip up to a summit, dial D for Dad, and I, hopefully, will be up high enough to receive the signal.
Is that about it?
If that's what you think I said, I suggest you read it again.

For the optimum (5 miles) one has to be at a high point. The rest depends on terrain, etc. If you want to be able to contact someone when they are within a mile or so, as long as you aren't on different sides of the mountain, you are going to be able to do it pretty consistantly with the RINO or a FRS/GMRS RAdio.

If you want to call 911, then you want a cell phone and hope you can get a signal (we couldn't get a signal at Wanika Falls or Moose Pond on the Northern leg of the NPT, but the RINO was able to communicate with another one about a mile away). (BTW There is no 911 service in Hamilton County) If you are in the Silver Lake Wilderness, the Siamese Ponds Wilderness, it is tough to get a cell phone signal, but I have communicated a couple of miles with an FRS/GMRS radio and also "read" a co-ordinate on another RINO from over a mile away on two of the three occasions we tried. (The other time we connected a half mile away).

Having used (or attempted to use) both, in real world conditions, in the High Peaks, The NPT, The Silver Lake wilderness and the Southern Dacks, I found the radios to be much more dependable then cell phones.

And you're talking to someone who chooses his equipment with the mentality that the woods can kill me at any time. I leave the phone home and take the radio if I can only have one. Around here I take the radio because the phone is useless and wasted weight.
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Old 07-29-2004, 11:37 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it. I think I'll wait before purchasing any equipment however.
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