Starter Comms — What should I get for basic comms to let me start joining group runs, etc? (2 Viewers)

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I need something just to get started. I do NOT want to deal with the HAM training/test right now.

I know midland is a brand that comes up fairly often. Any recommendations on a starting point?
 

WB8LBZ

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Well, at amongmany, what is it you want to do? Is it a small group, large group wandering by your self? Will you be close to the cellular towers, total off grid? Short trips or long treks across country.

Larry in El Paso, TX
 
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You should get whatever everybody on your group uses. If they use CB, get a CB. If they use FRS, get an FRS. If they use MARS, get a MARS. If they use GMRS, get a GMRS (and the license, not test required). If they use ham, get a ham radio, take the test.
 

MoJ

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Over what distance? What budget? Mobile unit installed in your vehicle or walkie-talkie style?

Many use GMRS. No test, only a fee to be legit.

Many use Baeofeng uv5r ham without license.

Many use CB. No test, no fee.

The ham test is neither difficult nor expensive.
 
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I have cb, gmrs, and ham (the first test - Tech- isn't that difficult).No license needed for FRS. A license is needed for GMRS. You'll get a FCC call sign assigned. No test just pay the fee. It's $70 for 10 years.
 
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I have cb, gmrs, and ham (the first test - Tech- isn't that difficult).No license needed for FRS. A license is needed for GMRS. You'll get a FCC call sign assigned. No test just pay the fee. It's $70 for 10 years.
That's a good point. Get all three and you're pretty much good to go with any group.
 

Shortpencils

Will work for Heater Tees
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A couple FRS handhelds will get you a long way if you're wheeling with a buddy. Buy two now- you can't go wrong. They also work with a spotter.

With a group, you'll need to use whatever they use.
 
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Thanks for the input folks. I don't "run with a group" yet as I'm still getting myself sorted and getting the minimum gear necessary. Hence, no idea what "they" use. Most of the group runs I've seen require that you bring some sort of comms device, so it's a chicken/egg predicament at that point.

I may also be traveling alone a decent bit, so something with more reach wouldn't be a terrible idea.
 
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I had to find this. I think it's good info.
Radio Comparison Chart


Radio Range vs Terrain½ watt FRS
UHF Radios
1watt GMRS UHF Radios2watt GMRS UHF Radios2watt MURS VHF Radios5watt Ham VHF Radios
(simplex)
50watt Ham VHF Radios
(simplex)
Outside- Clear Flat Terrain1.5 to 2 2 to 3 3 to 4 3 to 5 4 to 715 to 20
Suburban
Neighborhoods
1 to 1.51 to 21.5 to 21.5 to 32 to 47 to 10
Urban Areas½ to 1½ to 1.51 to 1.51 to 1.51.5 to 25 to 8
Inside buildings or malls½ to 5 floors½ to ¾ 11/215
Between buildings of houses⅛ to ½ ½ to 1½ to 21 to 31.5 to 43 to 10
Woodlands, moderate vegetation1 to 1.51 to 21.5 to 22 to 33 to 55 to 8
Woodlands, thick vegetation½ to 1½ to 11 to 1.51.5 to 22 to 35 to 8
All distances are in miles except where noted.
Information taken from Bronco Driver magazine
 
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MoJ

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If you’re traveling alone in very remote areas your most reliable method by far is via satellite using a device such as Garmin Inreach etc. The next best method is a ham setup with knowledge of how to interact with a repeater.
 
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If you’re traveling alone in very remote areas your most reliable method by far is via satellite using a device such as Garmin Inreach etc. The next best method is a ham setup with knowledge of how to interact with a repeater.
Definitely considering the inreach given the sales happening right now.

Still need something for trail groups, but I guess I'll have to figure out what folks nearby are using so I can get on the comms train.
 

MoJ

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Definitely considering the inreach given the sales happening right now.

Still need something for trail groups, but I guess I'll have to figure out what folks nearby are using so I can get on the comms train.
I’ve had really good luck with the Inreach mini. It connects to the phone app via Bluetooth which makes it easier to send messages etc. I also like that while it does require a subscription you can easily turn the subscription off for when you’re not planning on needing it.
For group com just pick up a $25 uv5r for ham and an inexpensive gmrs. CB is used less and less and sucks compared to the other options.
 
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Definitely considering the inreach given the sales happening right now.

Still need something for trail groups, but I guess I'll have to figure out what folks nearby are using so I can get on the comms train.
Where I go, repeaters are pretty much useless. They exist but nobody is listening. If you really need to send a message out, InReach is the way to go.
 
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Delta VS

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Boise, ID
Definitely considering the inreach given the sales happening right now.

Still need something for trail groups, but I guess I'll have to figure out what folks nearby are using so I can get on the comms train.
Inreach should be a requirement if traveling solo, as others have said a 25$ baofeng handheld will sort you out for nearly all groups.
 
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Palo Alto, California
Thanks for the input folks. Ordered an inreach via the REI deal. Looking into the baofeng as well. Appreciate the input.
Realize that you legally need a Amateur radio license to transmit on 2m and 70cm bands withe the Baofeng. Although the Baofeng can be re-programmed to work on GMRS, MARS and FRS frequencies, they cannot legally transmit on those bands.

Having said that, even though I have radios that work on most bands, I have found my FRS and GMRS radios the most useful for my overlanding trips. FRS radios are so cheap and license-free that I carry four of them and just loan them to people in the group who don't have one. Consider just starting with FRS and see if most of you comm needs will be covered before buying a Baofeng and getting a ham license.
 
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Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
553
Location
Palo Alto, California
I had to find this. I think it's good info.
Radio Comparison Chart


Radio Range vs Terrain½ watt FRS
UHF Radios
1watt GMRS UHF Radios2watt GMRS UHF Radios2watt MURS VHF Radios5watt Ham VHF Radios
(simplex)
50watt Ham VHF Radios
(simplex)
Outside- Clear Flat Terrain1.5 to 22 to 33 to 43 to 54 to 715 to 20
Suburban
Neighborhoods
1 to 1.51 to 21.5 to 21.5 to 32 to 47 to 10
Urban Areas½ to 1½ to 1.51 to 1.51 to 1.51.5 to 25 to 8
Inside buildings or malls½ to 5 floors½ to ¾11/215
Between buildings of houses⅛ to ½½ to 1½ to 21 to 31.5 to 43 to 10
Woodlands, moderate vegetation1 to 1.51 to 21.5 to 22 to 33 to 55 to 8
Woodlands, thick vegetation½ to 1½ to 11 to 1.51.5 to 22 to 35 to 8
All distances are in miles except where noted.
Information taken from Bronco Driver magazine
I think some of these numbers are highly optimistic, especially in the cases that can block "line of sight".
 

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