I know nothing about radios. Well that is not 100% true I think CB radios have a range of 2-3 miles and about 20 channels but that is about all. And I am thinking it is about time to start looking into finding the right one for me.
Options I know are
CB radio hand held
CB radio mounted on shelf or car
Two way radio
Anyone got some links I can dig up info? I am wanting a radio that is pretty simple to use (got kids and if something happens to me someone else has to use it). And be able to contact others that might be hold up in survival mode over a good range.
Standard CB radios have 40 channels and broadcast at around 5 watts. Single sideband (SSB) CB radios broadcast on the same 40 channels at the same power and can also broadcast on 40 channels above and below those standard channels (giving you 120 channels total) but they broadcast on significantly higher power (12 watts, I think) in the upper and lower bands. It certainly is possible to broadcast at vastly higher wattages but the legality of doing so isn't clear to me.
I have had good experiences with the Midland 75-822 CB. It's a handheld but comes with an adapter to connect it to vehicle power and connect an external roof antenna.
MURS, FRS and GMRS radios generally have about the same range - 1 to 2 miles - no matter what they packaging says.
There are a bunch of handheld HAM radios available that may get you substantially longer range due to so many relays being available but you need at least a Tech license to legally operate one. (The license isn't hard to get if you have any experience with electronics.)
I did do a search but most of the talk was over my head.
Maybe a trip to the book store for "two way radio for dummies" would help.
Thanks for that info I will keep looking
As said by Bkt there are other threads on the subject (one I have contributed to is "Radio communication when cell service is down" on this forum). CB will get you a little ways out there, line of sight I have gotten maybe ten miles, but not clearly. Something many CB'ers are unaware of is the importance of properly tuning your antenna. I cover this in the previously mentioned thread.
I am a licensed Amateur (General class) and while it does take a bit of learning you can communicate globally with some equipment, however the kids cannot use it unless they are licensed too and there is no age requirement to become licensed, all they have to do is pass the test. (I think the current youngest licensed amateur operator, or Ham, is 5 years old). I am still figuring out some of my equipment, that is to say it can be pretty complicated. My kids (both licensed, 13 and 15 years old) are much more proficient at the equipment side of the hobby. Then again they tend to be better shots than me too.
FRS and CB does not require and license or anything, GMRS requires that you register with the FCC annually in order to legally operate them, no test and I believe $85.00 for five years will allow your whole family to operate them legally. (this is widely ignored by many users as I understand it.). Despite the claims these radios are really only reliable to around 2 miles despite the claims they make. Longer distance communication is indeed possible but it is probably more dependent on atmospheric conditions and a properly tuned antenna than the radio itself.
As to the penalties for using a radio illegally they can be very harsh. Here is a cut and paste of my response to a guy on the forum who admitted to operating illegally:
""In the area administered by the FCC any transmitter used on any 47 CFR Part 95, including Subpart D ("CB"), and any transmitter used on any 47 CFR Part 90 (public safety, business, industrial, etc.) radio services MUST be "certificated" (new "buzz word" for "type accepted"). There are no radios manufactured for amateur radio that are certificated. In fact, since the frequency can be "dialed in", there are no amateur radio units that can be certificated under 47 CFR Part 90 and 47 CFR Part 95 even if they could meet the other technical standards of those parts (which they cannot).
Penalties for operating a non certificated transmitter on frequecies which certificated equipment is required can result in penalties including, but not limited to, the following:
Fines of up to $11,000 per day per radio (if you were to use 2 different radios then the fine could be up to $22,000, 3 different radios the fine could be up to $33,000, etc.).
Loss of your amateur radio operator's license and NOT being able to get another one for the rest of your life.
The equipment can be confiscated.
If used on a licensed system then the licensee can be fined and the license could be lost.
The person using the non certificated equipment can be imprisioned (means "go to jail").
There have been numerous fines, confiscation of equipment, and even a few people have gone to jail. Yes, in recent years the FCC has not been doing as much enforcement as in the past. However, they definitely have lately been conducting enforcement activities and, when one "brags" about breaking the law, especially on a public forum like the Internet, the chances of being "caught" are astronomically greater than those just keep quiet. But, the FCC also responds to complaints and a number of trucking firms have been cautioned about their drivers illegally using equipment and the trucking firms being watched very carefully. The result is that a number of trucking firms have therefore "cracked down" on their employees to the extent that even perfectly legal 4 watt output "CB" equipment has been banned let alone illegal amplifiers, 10-meter equipment, and so forth.
There also have been quite a number of individuals who have been cited for illegal operation. One needs to read the "enforcement" section of the FCC webpage to see this. The names, addresses, etc., of those persons who have broken the law are published.
To sum things up, although the FCC is not as active as in the past, they are still enforcing the regulations and someone who blatantly breaks the law is "playing with fire".
As Glen stated, these are harsh penalties and once you are convicted of breaking the rules you will not be able to obtain a license for the rest of your life. To me the risk is not worth it.
I almost forgot to mention that nobody is immune from prosecution. There is a famous case of the Pittsburgh PA fire department trying to save a few bucks by purchasing Ham radios and modifying them to operate on their (very narrow) authorized emergency bands. They were fined millions of dollars, had to forfeit all of the equipment and purchase the proper emergency radios that they should have bought in the first place. They thought they were immune to prosecution because they were a "Big City" Fire Department. Epic Fail.
Now, as many people know, you can legally listen to emergency frequencies like the police and fire and such, but you cannot modify your radios to transmit on them under any circumstances (and vice-verse). To do so "just in case" and just never transmit shows prior intent in the event that you ever do transmit.
I know the original Anarchist's Cookbook had lots of information on setting up radio systems. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy, but I'm sure theres some survivalists on this site, and one of them may be willing to lend you a copy. Also, if they do, pm me their screenname. My copy got blow'd up, so I'd like to scan another or something.
The best thing you could do for yourself is to read up on amateur radio. They spell out everything you want to know in all of the study material, much better than in the Anarchist's Cookbook. With the stuff you need to learn to pass the Extra test (highest level license) you can literally build a radio from scratch using junk you have laying around. I am not by any means joking. It is a lot of material but if you are dedicated that is what you ought to do in my opinion.
If the SHTF you, your kids, and anybody else can legally transmit on any frequency if it is a genuine emergency. You can even use a police radio if that is all you have at your disposal.
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