Our Big Leap in Communication
Cell phone service is nearly non-existent in the Angeles National Forest. Our trail crews must communicate over long distances and steep terrain. Handheld radios are the best communication option. The USFS, Firefighters, and Mountain Rescue Teams all utilize radio technology.
Lowelifes’ FCC commercial radio license allows our volunteers to utilize powerful handheld radios. In the rugged forest, high-power commercial-style radios are superior to consumer GMRS/FRS radios. Recently, we hit the limitations of our current radio setup. Basically, individual radios communicate via “line of sight” and forest terrain can cause interference. Our remote Condor Peak Trail work spreads our crews out over miles of singletrack.
Fox Mountain stands between two sections of the Condor Peak Trail. Our crews commonly work on both sides of the mountain. Therefore, our individual handheld radios cannot reach each other with the massive obstacle between them.
How can you overcome a mountain sized obstacle? A radio repeater!
A radio repeater receives a signal and transmits it again. With that, two-way radio signals can cover greater distances. In other words, a repeater acts as an “in-between”, hearing transmissions and then passing them along to other radios. Furthermore, with deployment to a smart location, radios that cannot connect directly can hook up via the repeater.
Our friends on the Altadena Mountain Rescue Team gave us great radio advice. One team member directed us to Mojave Repeater, a veteran-owned & operated custom radio company. Mojave Repeater’s custom-built Lunchbox looked to be the perfect solution to our on trail obstacles.
Lucky for Lowelifes, Mojave Repeater also loves trails
A veteran Marine Communication Officer, Alex was excited to help out our volunteer trail crew. We met up on the Sunset Ridge Trail for a “radio training” hike. Alex’s shared knowledge truly helped our team better understand radio technology.
Mojave Repeater offers in-person training covering radio signal theory, logistics planning, & practical application. Basically, Alex shares his military-level knowledge for real-world civilian application. After that day on the trail, Lowelifes’ radio abilities rose to the next level.
Field testing the Lunchbox repeater
Recently, the Lowelifes Trail Crew camped out around Fox Mountain, which gave us the perfect opportunity to field test the Mojave Lunchbox. With the repeater deployed, our radios performed better than ever. Surprisingly, we connected with a volunteer all the way down at Vogel Flats: over 7 miles away!
This new radio repeater is a game-changer for our crew. It is essential for us to reliably communicate while separated in the forest. In addition, it is a key element to safe workdays and managing our volunteer work crews.
A massive thank you to Alex & Mojave Repeater for the support!
2 thoughts on “Our Big Leap in Communication”
This is awesome, and a great write-up to explain it all. Thanks for documenting, I’ll pass this info to our Transit to Trails working group… emergency communications are a planning challenge and this presents helpful potential workarounds!
Thanks for taking a look Bryan!
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