Two-way radios

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Joined
Nov 15, 2005
Threads
65
Messages
346
Location
Charlotte, NC
At our last meeting in Charlotte, we discussed how everyone should try and have a two-way radio on trail rides. Are there certain features to look for when purchasing a set? I see some cheap ones with 22 channels for under $50, then I see others with 1,000 channels for $100. What should I look for so I make sure I have a set that will connect with everyone else's radio?

P.S. I already have a CB in my rig, but I take it this will not connect with the two-way radios.
 
The ones in the $50 dollar range will work fine, you just really need to be able to get to channell 7-0, also pay attention to the range that ones you are looking at carry.
 
I would add that the "mile range" as posted on many of them are FAR from accurate. They rarely work more than a couple miles, on flat, open terrain (lake/ocean), so don't spend more for "extended range" radios. The power of these FRS/GMRS radios are restricted by the Gov, just like a CB radio is "off the shelf".

If you have a CB, it might not be worth it. Its my opinion that we should be converting everyone to CB's. As I'm sure you know, CB's have a much more consistent range and as well as having a greater range. In fact, many of the "hard core" expedition guys are going to Amateur (HAM) radio, again for having greater and more consistent range.

Just make sure you have contact with someone in the group the has a CB radio AND an FRS/GMRS radio. I typically have a spare to hand out and also have a CB. I've found the FRS/GMRS radios can have difficulty in relatively small places like URE. However, the most important thing is that we have communication throughout the group to help ensure everyone gets to the end of the day safely...
 
I have a very difficult time understanding people on the FRS system. I agree we should set a deadline of like 1 year to switch over to CB for the club. Just sayin...

:beer: R
 
I have a very difficult time understanding people on the FRS system. I agree we should set a deadline of like 1 year to switch over to CB for the club. Just sayin...

:beer: R

I'm glad you said that. I thought I was just getting old and couldn't hear everyone @ Spring Tide Ride. I went to the extreme to clip the radio to my shirt just so I could hear...
 
I think the quality of FRS radios varies widely. I have two sets: an old, cheap set by Uniden and a new, more expensive set my Motorola. The Motorola set seems to be much better. FWIW, here is a link to the Moto set I bought from Amazon.

Amazon.com: Motorola T9680RSAME 2 Way FRS/GMRS Radio: Electronics

I like this set because it also includes NOAA weather radio with weather alerts (tornado, hurican, etc.)
 
Mine are Motorola, but on the low-end as far as cost goes. I think CB is the way to go, my just my .02, and w/ inflation, that ain't worth much!

:beer: R
 
I have a CB in one of my rides now and I have a CB ready to install for the other. I like the range of them and the clarity. Why does everyone feel like FRS is the way to go? I dont really understand.
 
I should have one you can borrow by this weekend. I also have a CB but haven't installed it yet.
 
I also have 3 FRS radios that I can loan out for this weekend.

As far as the CB vs. FRS, which is better discussion... We discussed this back in the December meeting and everyone seemed to have an FRS, so we chose to use FRS for the rides. If everyone wants to switch from FRS to CB, we need to have that discussion at the ride and/or next meeting.
 
I agree that CB's are a better bet and they are not that much more expensive.

The only problem I see is it is a lot easier to hand over a radio to someone who does not have one and it would be horrible to exlude someone becuase they don't have one. Of course if we had a couple extras and the person was in the middle of the group it wouldn't be a problem.

I think setting a deadline for CB's would be a good plan. But maybe the club could buy a decent 4 Pack of FRS radios for those new members that don't have one or have the money to buy one. That way nobody ever gets left out.
 
I agree with the CB idea, those handhelds were hard to hear in my 40 with the doors off. Jerry and I were chatting on the CB, and even though I needed to do some tweaking on my radio/squelch, I had a better time hearing him... FRS is still good for the portability factor...
 
Another "reason" for CBs is the fact that many of them will allow you to hook up an external speaker for the CB!

However if your FRS has the "earphone" piece, then in theory you could play it thru your car stereo like an IPOD, etc.

I also have a handheld CB that is "ok" at best, but you can get decent models of those as well and hand them to someone.

I will end up picking up a FRS/GRMS like the one linked above, for the 4x4 Cross this month. So I will have both...

Back when I did the HAM thing it was the best option by FAR and recommended to all. HAM is slowly dieing, bandwidth will slowly but surely go away as FCC sells it off to the highest bidder.

BUT 2m is what you are using and you can get that test pretty ez!
 
Another "reason" for CBs is the fact that many of them will allow you to hook up an external speaker for the CB!

However if your FRS has the "earphone" piece, then in theory you could play it thru your car stereo like an IPOD, etc.

I also have a handheld CB that is "ok" at best, but you can get decent models of those as well and hand them to someone.

I will end up picking up a FRS/GRMS like the one linked above, for the 4x4 Cross this month. So I will have both...

Back when I did the HAM thing it was the best option by FAR and recommended to all. HAM is slowly dieing, bandwidth will slowly but surely go away as FCC sells it off to the highest bidder.

BUT 2m is what you are using and you can get that test pretty ez!

I'd take issue with the "dying" of Ham radio. In fact, its on an upswing with off-roading/expedition people. I've just received my license a few months ago and its a positive trend. As I'm sure you know, getting a handheld Ham radio has a much greater distance (2m) and reliability/clarity of transmission than CB radio, let alone FRS/GMRS radios.

Maybe I'm such a noob to the whole Ham thing but, from I've been exposed to, its very stable and growing again after years of decline. And, I'd agree that the test was fairly easy to pass...
 
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by "dieing", what I am talking about is the "reason" behind Amateur Radio. The #1 aspect was emergency communications after a storm, etc. That was the service to the community / and they were literally the forefront of every modern communication we have today.

Now most Police / Firefighters and EMS have the same or better equipment and in every vehicle. (Some still have inferior equipment, but using the same 2-6m bands we are in HAM)

Military certainly are beyond us now and so the National Guard, etc, really don't end up using HAM services any longer, etc. There is still a disconnect between military and local PD type communications but not stuff we helped with anyway.


The one service we do still provide is ways for CITIZENS to call out after a storm to let loved ones know that they are ok, etc. However based on some knowledge from folks surviving more recent Hurricaines, the cell folks had towers up and running within a day or two in most cases, etc. So the "queue" for users to use HAM services was not really that long, many of the volunteers ended up chatting with each other more than anything.

I said all of that to say this....Congress / FCC...really does not "see" HAM as a priority any longer. I was a member of AARL for several years and they were losing battle after battle over bandwidths getting closed (and SOLD by FCC to other carriers)


THAT is why I am afraid HAM is endangered...the "service" aspect has diminished, mostly due to the breakthroughs that WE created! Look at the HAM radio "sub-hobby" of packet communications if you want to see where I think we are still on the forefront.

With the "service" diminished, it is a MUCH harder fight to say why WE still need the large slices of bandwidth for our use. THUS the reason that despite the negative effect of Broadband over powerlines on our communications, Congress is basically allowing that to move fwd in a major way.

I would NOT read into any of this above as a warning or to "stay away" or anything else! Getting your Tech license is SUPER easy to do, gives you access to the 2 meter band which is where it is really useful for 4x4 activities.

I have a HANDHELD 5-6 watt 2m radio that I can talk to GREENSBORO repeater from the middle of Uwharrie. It easily talks to anyone there in the entire park by itself and it cost me less than $150.

I still keep it around since in an emergency anyone can operate a HAM radio to call out. It is good insurance if someone gets hurt and CB/FRS/cell coverage is so bad we cannot get a call out for help.

IF I was going to travel south of the border / Central / S. America I would not consider going withOUT HAM radio(s) with me! (Multiple) But there is also other devices such as SPOT that is probably even MORE reliable now?

SPOT SATELLITE MESSENGER :: HOME PAGE

I do agree there is lots of renewed interest in HAM recently, alot coming FROM 4x4, but I am still afraid they have the deck stacked against em.

Here is the one I decided to buy, I am not sure what frequency the "extra" 20 channels are but will be interesting to find out. There are 30 FRS/GRMS channels..

http://www.midlandradio.com/Two-Way-Radio.BS3/GXT900VP4

http://www.ba-marc.org/writeups/gmrs-frs-freq.htm

Sam
 
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You clearly have a higher level of understanding than I. Being a noob, I guess I've been led to believe that the system is stable and won't be degraded any further due to some other technologies that have made the airwaves more efficient.

Just having joined AARL and trying to get a handle on the "big picture" of Amateur Radio, I've still got a lot to learn.

But, like you said, with my Yeasu handheld, I can reach out pretty far and with my Yeasu mobile unit (yet to be installed), I'm expecting even better coverage...
 
With a 40ish watt 2m installed in my buddy Tim's Jeep we transmitted from the top of Callantee and hit the Winston Salem repeater!! It was an ICOM 705 I think so you can check the wattage for 2m on it.

I hope folks don't see this as a slam against HAM radio and I def encourage it, but would not want us to rely on it as the main method for the club.

Just got my Midland GXT 900VP4 hand helds in today! They came with a nice headset too that you can use to HEAR / and boom mic for transmitting. (Will see if the auto-activate function works well in our noisier enviornment / going down trails)

Sam
 
With a 40ish watt 2m installed in my buddy Tim's Jeep we transmitted from the top of Callantee and hit the Winston Salem repeater!! It was an ICOM 705 I think so you can check the wattage for 2m on it.

I hope folks don't see this as a slam against HAM radio and I def encourage it, but would not want us to rely on it as the main method for the club.

Just got my Midland GXT 900VP4 hand helds in today! They came with a nice headset too that you can use to HEAR / and boom mic for transmitting. (Will see if the auto-activate function works well in our noisier enviornment / going down trails)

Sam

I don't see it as a slam in any manner, what is that distance, like 75-80 miles line of site. Thats damn good. Using 2m radios in simplex mode to talk with one another over varied terrain gives a very reliable method of communications.

We just spent a day on URE, a relatively small park with some varied terrain. We found that the FRS/GMRS radios were very unreliable in less than a mile distance from each other. No slam on them either, they have their place and are a value given certain conditions. Its my opinion that they aren't reliable enough for communications on the trail.

I think that its a good tool to have in the rig and we need to encourage our members to find a way to get a CB in their rigs, either a handheld w/mag mount antenna or a fixed install. I think that this past weekend's run helped reinforce this concept...
 
I have had a good bit of experience with this debate here recently. I have had the 2-way radios for some time and I have a real hard time hearing them over the diesel noise. They work pretty well when you are in a small group of trucks that are close together though. My K-40 CB took a crap on me out in Moab last month, so I borrowed my friend's hand held CB. It was an older model, but I was VERY impressed with it for what it was. I could hear it easily, and we transferred it between trucks with no issue. That said, more than half of the trucks on each ride had Hams and with the size of the groups and how far we were spread, you can begin to see why HAM is preferred on those type trips. Rubicon and Moab are HUGE by comparison to our runs and the various trail leaders used the HAMS to find out where the other groups were, needed parts/help, etc. The bigger our groups get, it might be wise for the head and tail of the group to have HAM, and if we have more than one group, same deal. Imagine Uhwarrie with a "stocker" run and a Kodak run. The trail leaders could easily cooridinate meeting points, times, etc.
 

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