LET'S TALK RADIOS
STAYING CONNECTED ON THE TRAILS
The lead rig at our events broadcasts from a dash-mounted dual-band VHF/UHF radio pushing 50w out through a roof-mounted antenna. This ensures that just about every driver with a compatible VHF/UHF handheld unit can receive transmissions from the trail boss.
However, you need a ham radio license to broadcast on these channels. If an FCC officer happens to be hiding behind a rock in the extremely remote locations where we run our rides, and monitoring the channel we use (there are thousands of options and we do not post ours publicly) and can determine which rig out of the dozens with us you are broadcasting from at that exact moment and can prove it, then you might get a big ticket.
Earning a ham radio license requires passing one examination totaling 35 questions on radio theory, regulations and operating practices. You do not need a license to buy a radio or use it for listening to transmissions.
We do not use CB on the trails. The 4w limit on CB radios and signal-blocking qualities of the rocky terrains and thick forests of Southern California render them useless for our needs.
DO I REALLY NEED ONE?
While not required for our rides, having a radio will enhance your experience. The trail boss provides narration for points of interest you pass, warnings about oncoming vehicles and trail hazards, specific directions to work around (or towards) optional challenges on the trail, occasional tales of rides past, and stories from the scouting runs that made your current event a reality.
Most drivers at our events have radios and use them for social comms with other drivers as well as local warnings.
Having a radio also provides an opportunity to notify the group of an emergency, technical issue, mechanical problem, or need for a bathroom break. It's also handy just for asking questions (i.e "when are we stopping for lunch?"). We disperse drivers with higher power radios down the line so they can relay important messages up to the lead rig.
We recommend BaoFeng radios for their functionality and cost. Here are a few options. Please use these Amazon links as we make a small commission to help support our group.
For handhelds, we suggest this 5w tri-band or this 8w dual-band. These $60-70 radio are sold direct from BaoFeng so they include a warranty. If you are cost-conscious, you can get this BaoFeng from a 3rd party reseller without a warranty for around $25 that has less channel range but covers the channels that SCORCH uses.
Do not get the programming cable. We will program the radio for you at our events and teach you how to do it yourself. You may want to get this extended life battery or this battery eliminator to ensure power all day or weekend. Replace the short stock antenna with this Nagoya antenna for better range.
PROGRAMMING THE RADIO
BaoFeng translated means "Crappy Instructions"
Thank you if you purchased a BaoFeng radios using one of the above links. Your contribution to support SCORCH is appreciated. You will soon discover that the "manual" is straight up terrible.
Programing the radios are actually quite easy. First you will need to know the primary and secondary SCORCH frequencies. These are not publicly posted but are sent to RSVPers through Meetup. We use the same two channels for every ride, but please note that these were updated in August 2020. Once you set them you can leave them.
Turn the radio on. Press the orange VFO/MR button to toggle between modes until you hear "Frequency Mode" then enter in the desired 6 digit frequency on the keypad (i.e. 148.000). That's it.
Set a backup channel by pressing the blue "A/B" button and notice the little black arrow moves to the bottom frequency on the screen. Repeat the above steps to enter a 2nd frequency (i.e. 149.000). Now pressing the A/B button when the radio is unlocked easily moves you between the two frequencies.
Hold down the # key a moment and you will hear "lock" and now the keys are locked so you can't accidentally change the frequency, but can still transmit and receive on the current channel. Hold it down again to unlock.
Got the dash mount radio? Same deal except you are looking for "V/M" and "A/B/C/D"buttons on the head unit and using the handheld microphone keypad for the rest.