My introduction to Ham Radio

A family friend of mine has long been an advocate of amateur or HAM radio. Growing up, I remember distinctly going to his house and seeing his home HF radio set. Before the time of computers, his radio dominated the room and all of the dials, microphones and keys reminded me of Dr. Frankenstein laboratory. When I was about 10, my father loaned me a testing manual to get my HAM license. I simply recall the book was very thick and there was a lot of wiring diagrams in it. This was a bit intimidating to me and the requirement to learn Morse code quickly stopped any ambition that I had to get my license.

Skip ahead about 20 years, and I found myself working for a video game development company. There, I had to good fortune of working with some of the smartest people whom I still call friends. Three of them had their HAM Technicians License which allowed privileges on the 2M ham band. At the time, I didn’t even know what that meant, but they quickly informed me that the license no longer requires you to learn Morse code.

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Maps and Communications

In the days of tablet computers and smart phones, it is trendy to rely on the latest technology.  There is nothing wrong with that, however, it is still important to maintain a backup plan.  For example, any device that relies on cell phone tower will be virtually useless in the back country.

There are methods with image caching, that you can utilize these types of devices when the cell signal is unavailable, which is great.  But if you plan for the eventuality that at some point that device will fail, or the batteries die, you will be significantly better off.


The best backup plan is a quality map of the area you are going to be in. Part of any good trip into a new area involvces planning, what better way to plan a trip, is to lookup the area and learn more about it. There are a variety of websites which offer topomaps, such as not to mention that you can order high quality Topograph maps online. Maps such as these offer a valuable look into the area, and provide a level of detail not found on most tablets or GPS units.


It is always a good idea to carry a compass. A compass makes it easier to use the maps you have, or with general familiarity of the area area valuable tool to get unlost. Should you be willing to drop $400 on an iPhone or the latest tablet, spend another $4 and have a backup, which is probably more useful.

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GPS and Google Earth

Google Earth View of Destination4x4
Google Earth View of Destination4x4

Recently, we received a comment from someone on the web who pointed out that the GPS coordinates used by the website are inadequate for reporting missing persons to the NPS or contain appropriate phone numbers for the NPS.  We are pleased that this person took the time to post to us, and applaud him for his insight and dedication.

We are pleased that this person took the time to post to us, and applaud him for his insight and dedication.

Destination4x4 apprecaites and seeks out all the input we can in order to make this website the best we can, and that measure is how often people seek us out and use it.  To his point, we will be updating the site at some point to better address these issues.  Remember, this site is undergoing frequent and constant updates.

So, to address the feedback received let us make the following statement.  Destination4x4 is a website, and as such implements tools designed for websites. implements Google Earth and Maps becuase they developed the best tools to implement mapping software online.  Destination4x4 allows our users to import Google Earth kml and soon kmz files to map trails.  Google data files store gps data in the WGS84 standard.

In time, Destination4x4 will support other GPS map datum, but this in impractical in the sort term.

Addtionally, we wish to point out a few perhaps not so obvious safety considerations:

  • Always let someone know the location of your trip and itenery.  Let them know where you are and when you will return.  This person may contact the rescue teams should you fail to return and the locations can dramatically lower the time it takes to find you.
  • Whenever possible, invite a friend.  Often a trip is more fun with a second 4×4 and you will share memories for the rest of your lives.
  • Dont rely on your smart phone.  Backcountry explorations frequently go beyond the coverage of your cell phone.  Bring an extra GPS or even better a map.
  • Bring extra food and water.
  • Bring a CB or Ham radio.
  • Know your limits and the limits of your 4×4.  We all know someone that tried a trail that they and/or their 4×4 was not ready to run.

The purpose of Destination 4×4 is to help you find interesting and wonderfull places to visit in your 4×4.  It is your responsibilty to travel safely and to know what you are getting into.  Take care of yourselves.  Have fun, safe travels.