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High Frequency (HF) Radio

HF Radio


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 emergency.

A 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.  Barrett Communications have a HF Communications tutorial flash presentation available for download that may assist you understand what is involved in HF radio communication.

The 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 ( 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' packages apply. 

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 for more information.

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 needs.


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 communications.

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.

The 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.


HF Radio Aerial HF Radio Vehicle Mounting
Aerial mount for 80 & 100 Series
Toyota Landcruiser





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