Trail communications for club

Stoshu

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Ressurecting an older thread here, but after doing some research and talking to a couple club guys, I thought it would be a good idea to ask what the current trend is on radios.

Seems that quite a few clubs and events are now utilizing GMRS radios these days. If this is the direction that things are heading, I'm looking for recommendations on hand held radios. Unless, of course, the truck mounted option is that much better. Thanks!
 
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In my experience, the mobile GMRS units, not hand-held, have more power and better reception. I had a Motorola mobile unit that worked great, but I have since replaced it with an ICOM ham with the "M mod" which adds the GMRS channels. The ham capability provides even longer-range communication than GMRS.
 
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Folks seem to be somewhat reluctant to take an easy test to use ham radio, which is far superior IMO. Gotham offered to pay for the exams and an entry level Baofeng radio is $25. And still it was like pulling teeth to get folks to change.
Cruise Moab changed over to FRS/GMRS this year and the GCLC decided to change over to FRS/GMRS as well to follow the trend that Keystone started 2 or 3 years ago. I'm not getting rid of my mobile ham setup in my truck, but I purchased a pair of Midland GXT GMRS radios off from Amazon. At least there will be some level of communication compatibility between clubs now. Amazon has those radios for $70/pair and they work OK.
The older Baofeng UV-5R can also TX/RX on FRS/GMRS frequencies as well.
 
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Last year a family member picked up 3 of the handheld Midland GMRS radios so that each vehicle had a radio. I was not impressed. The battery life is short and the range is horrible, not much better than the cheap, toy like, walkie-talkies, when used inside the vehicle. We gave up on them the first day. I’m stubborn and tend to be a bit clingy with my old Cobra 25 CB. It’s peaked and tuned and gets out clearly for 6-10 miles. However, all that there is to listen to are truckers, which is only needed while on busy forest roads. When GCLC announced the switch to GMRS, I reluctantly bought a 15 watt midland and mounted it inside the cruiser. My brother in law purchased one as well. On more than one occasion we had 20 miles separating us on open desert road and had clear reception. In the canyon regions, even out of line of sight, we had excellent reception for miles. I’m sold on GMRS. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent on communications.
 
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Last year a family member picked up 3 of the handheld Midland GMRS radios so that each vehicle had a radio. I was not impressed. The battery life is short and the range is horrible, not much better than the cheap, toy like, walkie-talkies, when used inside the vehicle. We gave up on them the first day.
Well that's disappointing. I haven't had the chance to test the handheld GMRS in the woods yet, but the Cruise Moab folks seemed to be pleased.
It frustrates me that folks don't want to go with ham radio. It is vastly superior. The GCLC will still be using ham radio for event coordination between the officers and trail guides because we need the distance capability. There are 2M repeaters just about everywhere.
 
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Well that's disappointing. I haven't had the chance to test the handheld GMRS in the woods yet, but the Cruise Moab folks seemed to be pleased.
It frustrates me that folks don't want to go with ham radio. It is vastly superior. The GCLC will still be using ham radio for event coordination between the officers and trail guides because we need the distance capability. There are 2M repeaters just about everywhere.
If you’re in a tight group running close to one another the hand heads are great, however, when out west we sometimes find ourselves a half mile or more apart from one another.
 

SteveNJ

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Little late for Don but: GCLC20 will get any attendees 20% off their order of Rugged Radios manufactured products
 
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Well that's disappointing. I haven't had the chance to test the handheld GMRS in the woods yet, but the Cruise Moab folks seemed to be pleased.
It frustrates me that folks don't want to go with ham radio. It is vastly superior. The GCLC will still be using ham radio for event coordination between the officers and trail guides because we need the distance capability. There are 2M repeaters just about everywhere.
I think it’s the stereotype. I’m a model railroader, and when most people think of a guy that spends a lot of time in the basement playing with trains, this image comes to mind. What image comes to mind for HAM operators? LOL

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True, hams spend a lot of time in the basement playing with radios.
But, hams also provide local and long distance communications resources to the Red Cross and other volunteer organizations during disasters and large scale emergencies. The primary mission of ham radio is communications preparedness for disasters/emergencies. During huricane Katrina hams were riding in police cars, ambulances and fire trucks providing comms because their public safety comms infrastructure went down.
The National Weather Service trains hams to be weather spotters. During violent weather hams provide "eyes on the ground" info to the NWS via ham radio. The NWS has ham radio stations in their facilities.
The astronauts in the Space Station are hams and use ham radio to talk to kids in school via ham radio. Local ham clubs provide the resources on the ground. Hams also have satellites in space.
During WWII, Korean and Vietnam wars, hams provided personal communications resources to the military so soldiers could talk to their families in the US via ham radio and a local telephone link.
Hams provide comms for the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, the Boston Marathon and others. Hams were tracking buses during the Marine Corp Marathon in DC with GPS and a radio link to the command center before GPS was a commercial product.
Lots of the technology in use in the commercial and public safety communications infrastructures evolved from experiments the hams were doing.
And more.
 
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Personally, the ham radio is just another tool in the truck. I don't consider myself a "ham guy" and only use it for trail and event comms. I was always in the camp of CB being "good enough" until it just wasn't. Any entry level ham radio makes the best tuned CB look like Dixie cups and string, the technician test is simple and is good for 10 years. I think people are just afraid to take a test.
 
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Well that's disappointing. I haven't had the chance to test the handheld GMRS in the woods yet, but the Cruise Moab folks seemed to be pleased.
It frustrates me that folks don't want to go with ham radio. It is vastly superior. The GCLC will still be using ham radio for event coordination between the officers and trail guides because we need the distance capability. There are 2M repeaters just about What image comes to mind for HAM operators? LOL

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Had a chance over the long weekend to play with the GMRS radios, and I am completely underwhelmed. I had better luck yelling out the window. Halfway through the day we switched over to 2M ham using the $25 Chinacom Baofengs and comms were restored.
 
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Had a chance over the long weekend to play with the GMRS radios, and I am completely underwhelmed. I had better luck yelling out the window. Halfway through the day we switched over to 2M ham using the $25 Chinacom Baofengs and comms were restored.
That was my initial reaction a few years ago using handhelds. Hmmmm, I must be a coms geek now as I’ve 4 coms I’ll be bringing on the expo tour, cell phone, CB, GMRS & one of those Baofengs. LOL
 
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HAM is all anybody out here in NM uses for the most part. I took the test in Erie about 4 years ago before I moved out here, for a camping trip west. It's convenient to be able to hit people 20-30 miles out, especially with the lack of cell service out here. Though, you really need a dedicated unit for that sort of range. I just use an "8 watt" baofeng with an external mag mount antenna for the most part, and that has worked well for me (cost about $75 for everything). When talking to someone on a hardwired 50+ watt unit though, I can oftentimes hear them but don't always have the power to respond when more than a few miles out.

An external antenna helps a whole lot in my experience, regardless of what you're using. Even the handheld ham units don't do great if the antenna is inside the cab with you. The vehicle body acts as a Faraday cage.

I understand the reticence to take the test - it's not hard at all, but it's one more thing to study for and think about, and have to schedule. Getting a large group of people to standardize on anything is difficult. If you're all within visual site of each other GMRS probably works fine. HAM is definitely far superior though, from a performance perspective.
 

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