HF radio users require a license from the Australian Communications and
Media Authority (ACMA) and require a powerful vehicle mounted transceiver
and antenna. Using select frequencies (3 – 30 MHz) HF transceivers provide
communication up to several thousand kilometers in good conditions.
For those travelling in the outback, one of its important uses is the ability
to contact the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) in the event of a medical
couple of familiar brand names for radio transceivers are Icom, Codan and Barrett.
The up-front costs of a HF radio will be around $3,000 to $4,000.
have a HF Communications tutorial flash presentation available for download
that may assist you understand what is involved in HF radio communication.
HF radio installation package may include - a receiver wired to the
vehicle's 12V system, a handset and microphone attached to a roof console or
the dashboard, an antenna/aerial, the cost of professional installation and
some basic training.
HF Radio Telephone Calls
An advantage of HF radio is it can be linked into the telephone system. You
can call out on the radio and, with the assistance of some base stations,
talk to a person on a land line or mobile phone. To do this you will need
to subscribe to a direct dial HF radio telephone network service. One
provider is the Radtel HF Network. They do not allow incoming calls to the
HF radio but provide a ‘Message Service’.
If you do not want a specific license for yourself you can join a radio
network that have inbuilt licensing for their own frequencies. Some
practice is required to make calls using this network and this practice
should be done to ensure you know how to make an emergency call if needed.
The Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia
(CMCA) have a HF radio club (hfradioclub.com.au) that use two base
stations. The services provided include SKEDS,
GPS Tracking, Phone calls, RFDS Direct as well
as more channels and bases, events and online
services. Membership fees and travellers'
There is also The Australian National
4WD Radio Network Inc. (VKS-737), which is a Public
Benevolent Institution licensed by the ACMA,
that you can join. Membership fees apply - see
their website vks737.on.net for more
Various service providers own a
right of usage for a set range of HF frequencies
so you need to investigate these for the one
that provides the coverage that suits your
HF Radio Aerials/Antenna
Care should be taken in selecting a
HF radio aerial to
suit your purpose as the aerial (or antenna)
used will influence the transmitting and
reception range and the same may be said for its
location on the vehicle. Larger aerials provide
better range and are superior for long distance
There is also a ‘vibration
factor’, that can
fatigue the antenna, for vehicles with diesel
engines as well as road surfaces that needs to
be taken into consideration when selecting an
antenna. The fiberglass whip aerial on a medium
or heavy duty spring may best suit 4WD diesel
engine vehicles and outback travelling.
The aerial should be mounted as high as possible
so one mounted say to the roof of the vehicle
would provide the best range in comparison to
one mounted on the front bull bar as the
reception from the rear ( behind the vehicle)
can be impeded by the vehicle body itself.
However, due to the size of most aerials they
are generally located on the wheel arch or bull
bar of a vehicle. Aerials are then connected to
the transceiver by coaxial cable.
HF radio antenna is easily identifiable as it has a larger cylindrical base.
Codan produce various models of an Automatic Tuning
Whip Antenna made to withstand harsh field and
environmental conditions. Bushcomm manufacture a
range of 'Bushranger' Multitap antennas and Barrett
manufacture an automatic tuning mobile antenna as
well as a mobile magnetic loop HF antenna that is
integrated in a custom made roof rack.