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Scratchammo 03-12-2011 08:44 PM

Radio communication when cell service is down
Anyone have a suggestion on say a pair of 2-way radios or a CB?

colmustard 03-12-2011 08:45 PM

I have a nice cobra cb radio in my truck, works really well. Also I havent used them yet but they seem nice, the mottarola two way radios, might pick some up.:)

CA357 03-12-2011 09:05 PM

We have a set of Cobra two ways that have worked well for us for a number of years. They live on the charger. I doubt that the claimed distance is accurate, but we haven't had a problem yet.

Please note I said "yet". After all, Murphy is always around. ;)

Cnynrat 03-12-2011 09:11 PM


Originally Posted by Scratchammo (Post 463423)
Anyone have a suggestion on say a pair of 2-way radios or a CB?

What are you trying to accomplish?

Family Radio Service (FRS) radios are limited to a half a watt output power, which really limits their range. Some will claim as much as 5 miles, but in the real world I think you can't count on much more than a mile or two. They are cheap, easy to use, and require no license. The Motorola TalkAbout product line seems to be the standard for FRS radios.

Next up in capability would be CB. CB radios are limited to 5 watts output power, and also require no license. Real world range is subject to a lot of variables including the quality of your antenna and local geography. I usually figure 10-20 miles max range with a good antenna setup and favorable geography (no hills in the way), but it can be a lot less with a handheld or mobile setup where you often aren't using the best antenna. I have a Cobra 75 WX in my 4x4 for trail communications. It's a nice cheap radio with reasonable performance, but there are probably better options if you want the best range. IMO the worst thing about CB near any metro area is that it's got way too much traffic.

Then there is amateur or ham radio. There are many options here, but probably the easiest to get into are the VHF/UHF frequencies. With a basic Technician license you can operate in the 2 meter band. Power limit is 1500 watts, but practically speaking you are looking at handhelds that typically have 5W of power, or mobile units that typically have 75 watts. It's not unusual to be able to communicate over 50-75 miles with a good 2M setup. Repeaters are available in many areas that let you reach out even further. You do need a license, which requires taking a written test covering rules of operation and some very basic principles of electricity. There is no longer a requirement to demonstrate proficiency in Morse code. As far as radios are concerned, I like the Yaesu VX7R handheld. I have a Kenwood TM-V71A in my 4x4, but Yaesu and Icom also make nice mobile radios.

Scratchammo 03-12-2011 09:12 PM

Awesome, thanks. I do have an old Cobra CB but for some reason I can't get it to broadcast.

skullcrusher 03-12-2011 09:22 PM

I've got a set of the Motorola 2-ways. They work well until a few big hills get in the way. Good battery life and they don't lose much charge when off.

oldshooter 03-12-2011 10:23 PM

I have a pair of Cobra handhelds that claim a range of up to 3 miles. We used them here on the farm at a distance of 200 yards or so. They are handy except for one really annoying feature. When yuo push the transmit button you get a noise that is hard to describe but will damn sure let someone know you are there.
Other than that they would be good in the woods.

dunerunner 03-12-2011 10:45 PM

The problem with FRS and CB is that everyone on that frequency hears you. Discrete communications are hard to come by anymore.

Scratchammo 03-12-2011 11:09 PM

Very good info. I guess taking a test won't kill me. What about say a police radio?

Cnynrat 03-13-2011 12:01 AM


Originally Posted by Scratchammo (Post 463527)
Very good info. I guess taking a test won't kill me. What about say a police radio?

The amateur radio tests are pretty easy. 35 multiple guess questions, and I think 75% is a passing score. If you decide to try it there are practice tests available here. Unless you have some background in electronics I'd recommend you get the ARRL Technician Study Guide. If you decide you want to go this way and have any questions shoot me a PM and I'd be glad to help.

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't believe it's legal to transmit on the frequencies used by police, fire, etc. I have a scanner that allows me to listen in to them, which can be useful in times of emergency. They are pretty widely available - I think the one I have is a Radio Shack model.

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