Ham Radio in the Rubicon

HAM Radio, or Amateur Radio, is the gold standard for communication on the Rubicon Trail. CB’s
and Family Radio may work for short distance communication, but are not particularly useful when
you need real communication. Remember you may be on your own out there, with absolutely
NO cell phone coverage. If you need to call for help or a medical problem, Ham Radio or satellite
phone are your only options. Satellite phones work fairly well, but are expensive to buy and use,
and won’t work to call other trail users.

A license is required to operate a HAM Radio! More info on Ham Radio can be found here (see Links below)

Take a Class
If you live near the trail, RTF regularly schedules HAM Radio licensing classes, email John Arenz for more info.
For more information about the classes, see Ham Radio Classes.

How it All Started
Read about ham radio use in the Rubicon and how RTF played a part. Read more...

Repeater Project Contributors
Ham radios require repeater stations to forward signals. We owe our gratitude to those who helped
make the 2007 Rubcion Repeater Project a success.


Radio Frequencies

Ham Radio Frequencies commonly used in the Rubicon

146.805 -.600 PL123.0
The KA6GWY repeater, covers the west slope of El Dorado County and the Sacramento area.

145.350 (repeater transmitter), odd split to 146.205 (repeater receiver), PL123.0
The Tahoe Basin KA6GWY repeater, linked 24/7 to the 805 ELD repeater, coverage in the Tahoe Basin.

146.805 simplex, no PL
This is the repeater output frequency of the KA6GWY repeater. Nice to have so that you can talk to
your friends right in front of you, still listen to the repeater, but not tie it up when simplex will work just fine.

444.9875 +5.00 PL156.7
The Rubicon repeater located near Spider Lake, coverage on all of the Rubicon Trail except east of Barker
Meadows OHV trail.

444.9875 +5.00 PL 107.2
Same as RUBI except that when using this PL it links to 805ELD and 805 TAH.

444.9875 simplex, PL107.2
This is the repeater output frequency of the Spider repeater. Nice to have so that you can talk to your
friends right in front of you, still listen to the repeater, but not tie it up when simplex will work just fine.
Note, PL is used because some users decode PL on their handheld radios.

Amateur Radio Web Sites

A great site for general ham information, especially call sign lookup and sample quizzes for test practice.

The American Amateur Radio Relay League’s site for upcoming test locations.

A way to talk on Rubicon and other repeaters via your computer.

Northern Amateur Relay Council of California website, a great place to find repeaters all over
Northern California.

The Western Intertie System, a great system of repeaters that are linked all over the western US.

The Federal Communications Commission, the governing body for the Amateur Radio Service.

Another good general amateur radio site.

RTF is a 501(c)3
Non-profit Educational


What Do You Bring?

Remember when you are in the
Rubicon, there is no parts store or
camping supply around the corner.
Make a list, check it twice, and be
self reliant.

--Deet Bug Spray!

--Sunscreen and a hat

--Camping gear
(tent, sleeping bag, etc.)

--Warm weather clothing

--Cold weather clothing

--A camera

--Wag Bags
(see the DOT Sanitation page)

--A fire permit
(see ENF Fire Restrictions)

--A spill kit
(see the DOT Spill page)

--Bottled water - LOTS!

--Extra cash and extra gas

--Snack food

--Maps (see Rtf Map Page)

--Swim Wear

--Handiwipes for everything

--Extra sunglasses

--Solar shower; it's dusty!

--Ratchet straps
and/or bungee cords

--Extra clothes

--Lounge chairs

--A shovel

--First Aid kit

--HAM Radio
(Learn more)



The Story behind RTF and Ham Radio Use in the Rubicon

On July 7, 2007 a local Jeep club made their annual run on the Rubicon Trail. During that run, on their
second day, on the way from Rubicon Springs to the Ellis Creek area, they were running Big Sluice in
the uphill direction. In this difficult section, one of the vehicles rolled onto its right side, injuring the
passenger. He was complaining of neck pain and chest pain and it was obvious to those nearby that
he needed medical help. The club members and others on the trail tried futilely to summon help via
CB and cell phone. The range on the CB’s was too short and no cell sites were available.

As the victim’s condition worsened it became clear that he needed to be flown out immediately, and it
was decided to send hikers in each direction to try to find help. One was sent towards Rubicon Springs,
the other towards Buck Island Lake. Fortunately, a small FOTR volunteer work crew had just finished a
trail project at Buck Island Lake. One of those volunteers was a paramedic, but most importantly, he
and his wife had access to amateur radio: a license and a radio. They had soon summoned a medical
helicopter via amateur radio, secured a helispot at Buck Island, and begun treating the patient.

By the end of the day, board members of the Rubicon Trail Foundation, at the urging of the late Dennis Mayer
(then Treasurer of RTF), had begun to discuss bringing widespread year around amateur radio use to the trail.
This plan consisted of two phases:

1) By that fall the first RTF amateur radio license class was completed. Since then RTF has sponsored and
put on classes to license more than 300 OHV oriented hams. More classes are planned! 2) In the spring of
2008 RTF began to execute a plan to have permanent year around repeater in the Rubicon. Cooperation
with a local repeater operator was secured, an agreement was signed between the stakeholders, and
construction completed on a repeater vault and the associated equipment by the summer of 2008. This
required the assistance of many groups and individuals. To see the list, check the links below.

The late Dennis Mayer, standing in front of his beloved project, the permanent year around vault for the Rubicon

Rubicon Repeater Project Contributors

The following contibuted to the Rubicon Repeater Project 2008. A big "thanks!" to all who made
the repeater a reality!

Materials donation.

Frank Yost (KA6GWY), for designing and building the electronics (a huge job and a labor of love).

Merlin Scott (KC6BFV), for donating the tower and for providing hospitality, liaison and site assistance.

The Rubicon Trail Partnership, for providing the site.

Jeepers Jamboree, for a $500 contribution toward the project.

JeepJamboreeUSA, for a $500 contribution toward the project.

Ray Pledger (KE6JOQ), for doing the licensing and frequency groundwork and tech work at the repeater site.

Dennis Mayer (W2DWM), and Randy Burleson (KI6MKV), for handling IC in my absence and ALL of the logistics.

The Friends of the Rubicon crew (Sierra Nevada 4WD Club, the Mog guys, Pirates of the Rubicon)
who transported materials and then put in the foundation under the guidance of Jim Henle.

Mike Overmeyer (KI6MIK), and the Pirates of the Rubicon for their trail building efforts to get to the site.

Universal Masonry (Placerville) and Eric, Cliff, and Nick Schram for their unbelievable masonry job.

Mott Roofing (Placerville) and Gordon Mott (KI6MLL), Nate Cox, and Mason Cox for materials transport,
roof materials and onsite labor.

Meeks Lumber in Martell and their manager and longtime trail user, Mark Morton, for materials donation.

Jesse Rivers of TDO, wearing his FOTR hat, for putting together the formwork for the antenna base.

Jim Carter of Carter Kelley Construction (Placerville) for the door and frame.

James Cossey(KI6SGB), and Allen Kurtz (KF6QDE), of jeepcamping.com (Placerville) for food donation
and concrete sealer.

Tim Main of SN4WD, who made two trips hauling block to make this happen.

El Dorado County SAR for rigging and setting up the master UHF antenna.

Rubicon Trail Foundation for driving the project and providing the balance of the funding.

John Arenz (N6YBH), for communicating to all of those involved about the need for this tool and
taking lead on the project.

Rubicon Trail Foundation - Email - 1-888-6RUBICON (678-2426) - PO Box 2188, Placerville, CA 95667