When I would travel the western US by car or fly to areas of the east coast and central plains, I always brought along a radio...and still do. I love to get on local repeaters and talk to folks in those areas....you know, come by for a visit.
The hardest part of trying to get on repeaters in areas you don't know is locating them. There are a couple of nice paper-bound directories out there, but in my experience, only about 50% of the repeaters are actually on the air. Then, to further complicate it, you can listen to most of the repeaters that are actually operational and not hear a soul on them. You sort of have to get lucky when plugging in frequencies that you will come across and active QSO...then try to call one or both of the stations when they clear.
Before cell phones were available, HAM Radio was used a lot to call 9-1-1 when coming across vehicle collisions on the nation's highways. I recommend using your cell phone first to call 9-1-1 to take a middle-man or a point of failure out of the equation...but I recently traveled through the Siskiyou Mountains of Northern California and Southern Oregon and found several areas with no coverage on either AT&T or Verizon...and this was on Interstate 5. I have been in the backwoods mountains of Oregon far away from any major highways and have been completely without cell service for hours at a time. As nice as cellular is, it is not everywhere. We travel all the time to areas where there is no cell service, especially in the summer months when we take vacations. Accidents happen all the time, and with the conveniences and medical advances of modern times, there is no need for anyone to die because no one could call for help.
So, with the need for these repeaters established and the problem of finding these repeaters identified, what is the solution?
Repeaterbook.com asks site visitors with local knowledge to let us know which repeaters match the following criteria:
- Is on the air
- Has wide area coverage
- Covers a major roadway, like an Interstate
- Is a local hangout (meaning is well-used and someone is likely monitoring)
- Is friendly
When these repeaters are identified, we tag them with the highway's name. To find out which ones they are, use the Travel Search.
The Quick Search allows you to choose a highway or route and display all repeaters within that state and on all bands. The Travel Search gives you the added capability to ignore state and provincial lines and follow a route along its entire path. For instance, you can choose I-15 and view all the repeaters that cover I-15 in California, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. Of course, after choosing a route, if you would like to limit to a single state or province, you can do that, too. You can also select a single band, so if you just want 2-meter repeaters you can select that.
I have found that I really enjoy wide-area repeaters while traveling because it lessens the risk of falling out of range during the middle of a QSO and then trying to locate another repeater along the route. The longest range repeaters are preferred, in my opinion. However, if you are staying in a metro area and only need some local information, maybe you don't need the long-range. Whatever you think is best for your situation, you can select it to filter your search accordingly.