Handheld 2-way radios

Joined
Jul 10, 2005
Messages
1,482
Location
Matthews, NC
I need to get some handheld radios to keep track of the kids while camping this summer. Do any of the Motorola/Cobra/Garmin/etc units work decent? I need something that gets a signal in the wilderness for a couple miles anyway. I know some of them say 2-5 mile range, but I think that is under IDEAL conditions! I have a couple sets of 5 year old Motorola's and have never been impressed. I don't mind spending a little money if i can find something that works well.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2003
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4,099
Location
Sunnyvale, CA
Website
www.george4wd.taskled.com
How old are your kids? Mine were 7 & 9 when the got their Technician amateur licenses early last year and we have several Yaesu 2M handhelds (about $120 each) and they work VERY well. All 4 in our family have Ham licenses and these days it is easy to pass the test.

I have a decent antenna on our 80 and it becomes our 'base' station (my wife). No issues with communication from several miles away in dense forest with hills and gullies separating us - perfect signal quality. Same place with so called 5 mile GMRS radios (yes, the family has a license for those too) and they were barely audible (if we had any reception). The GMRS radios are now relegated as disposable/toy radios.

cheers,
george.
 
Joined
Jul 10, 2005
Messages
1,482
Location
Matthews, NC
How old are your kids? Mine were 7 & 9 when the got their Technician amateur licenses early last year and we have several Yaesu 2M handhelds (about $120 each) and they work VERY well. All 4 in our family have Ham licenses and these days it is easy to pass the test.

I have a decent antenna on our 80 and it becomes our 'base' station (my wife). No issues with communication from several miles away in dense forest with hills and gullies separating us - perfect signal quality. Same place with so called 5 mile GMRS radios (yes, the family has a license for those too) and they were barely audible (if we had any reception). The GMRS radios are now relegated as disposable/toy radios.

cheers,
george.

My kids are 9, 13 and 14. How hard is it to get the Ham license?
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2002
Messages
6,159
Location
buggerville nj
I need something waterproof, easy to use with a range of about 2 miles over a hill and through the woods. Most of the small walkie talkies I see in the stores look like fun toys. I've used Motorolas on the hill for judging ski events, but I need a bit more range than that. Don't think I need the full ham set up though. Isn't there anything in between?
 
Joined
Dec 13, 2002
Messages
6,159
Location
buggerville nj
I need something waterproof, easy to use with a range of about 2 miles over a hill and through the woods. Most of the small walkie talkies I see in the stores look like fun toys. I've used Motorolas on the hill for judging ski events, but I need a bit more range than that. Don't think I need the full ham set up though. Isn't there anything in between?
:confused:
 
Joined
Mar 27, 2003
Messages
619
Having been involved with amateur radio for many years, I have to agree with George that the effort to get a ham license will pay for itself many times over as far as reliable communications is concerned.

The most effective range of frequencies for the type of communications we use on the trail, and for what Pint is looking for here, is in the middle of the VHF range... say between 120-180 MHz. It has to do with the dynamics of radio frequency propagation over the ground (e.g., not reflected off the ionosphere) at wavelengths of approximately +/- 2 meters, and how they are effected (or not effected) by the terrain (buildings, forest, hills and valleys, etc.).

There is good reason why international civil aviation (118-137 MHz), marine and national weather services (156-164 MHz), commercial and emergency services (148-174 MHz), etc., etc, all have segments in this range of the spectrum. It needs to work for them. It is convenient that the amateur radio service has a segment here as well (144-148 MHz), the so-called “2 meter band.”

Traditional Citizens Band (11 meters) uses 27 MHz. Much too low for effective medium range communication over the ground... much better for bouncing signals off the atmosphere (skip) for longer range work. Of course, we already know this from past experience.

FRS and GMRS use the 462-468 MHz in the UHF spectrum. Frequencies much too high as radio wave propagation is severely impacted by reflections off buildings and mountains, absorption the trees, etc. At low power - a restriction of these services - you’re typically dead in the water only a couple of miles out. Yes, emergency services do use a part of the UHF spectrum for auxiliary communications, but their primary work is on VHF.

About the only possibility worth consideration (Pint, Junk), is the often missed Citizens Service allocation in the VHF segment known as the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), with 5 fixed channel allocations between 151-154 MHz. While a license is not required for this service, you are restricted to 2 watts, and the convenience of repeaters and host of other trick communications safety applications (such as attaching a personal beacon to your kids, pets, etc) are not permitted. You won’t find many other users in the range of these little hand-helds, but between family members they are a viable alternative. I am not up to date of this service, but as of a couple of years ago, this one is a U.S. exclusive, and not available to our Canadian neighbors.

In the final analysis, I would again vote for getting a ham license for all family members. The use to which you can put these little radios for convenience, fun, and safety go well beyond what many people have yet to imagine.

As was famously stated elsewhere...

"If my 9yr old and my 7yr old can pass the ham radio exam with flying colours, then any folk smart enough to own a Toyota 4wd should be smart enough to pass the test." George_tlc

Cheers, R -
 
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