Radio communication when cell service is down

Discussion in 'Survival & Sustenance Living Forum' started by Scratchammo, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. Scratchammo

    Scratchammo New Member

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    Anyone have a suggestion on say a pair of 2-way radios or a CB?
     
  2. colmustard

    colmustard New Member

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    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.:)
     

  3. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    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. ;)
     
  4. Cnynrat

    Cnynrat New Member

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    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.
     
  5. Scratchammo

    Scratchammo New Member

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

    skullcrusher New Member

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    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.
     
  7. oldshooter

    oldshooter New Member

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    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.
     
  8. dunerunner

    dunerunner New Member

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

    Scratchammo New Member

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

    Cnynrat New Member

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    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.
     
  11. Scratchammo

    Scratchammo New Member

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    Thanks a bunch, time to study.
     
  12. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    If the SHTF anybody can use any and all frequencies to transmit without a license. I have 10 meter radios that will work around the globe depending on the antenna. I can't transmit legally on 10 meters with my current Technician license but I can listen to anything and everything to my heart's desire.

    Check out ARRL.org
     
  13. Scratchammo

    Scratchammo New Member

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    Sounds like a big @ss radio.
     
  14. Neophyte1

    Neophyte1 New Member

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    2meter

    Scratchammo: Sir, actually not. and this can be done with the solar cycle in the proper with 5watts; or less:)

    A more reasonable use is the 2meter 70 cn. 2 meter is the most used, with power from 1.5w to 5w. With some expermintation, shooting the moon can be done with less than 5w, {shooting the moon, send a signal, and recieve your own signal, or another recieved in another part of the world}
     
  15. Seven

    Seven New Member

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    ^that

    Icom V80 at hamcity for $120.

    Those radios are small and work great. The body is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards and not quite twice the thickness.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Scratchammo

    Scratchammo New Member

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    What!? :eek: I'll take those yall's ideas into consideration.
     
  17. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When the skip was working on CB you could get contacts from around the world. SSB can give you a little more range on CB and basically triple your channels. I have seen a number of CB units with additional illegal channels and illegal boosters. I have not messed with them for a long time so I dont know what the new units are doing. It got too noisy out there.
    Dont the FRS radios have a bunch of different sub channels?
    Dont forget marine radios if it is a shtf situation.
     
  18. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    My 80-10 meter and AM rigs are both base stations, not in any way portable unless you put them in a truck. I really don't use them like I should in order to stay familiar with their operation:eek:. All of these were freebies, the AM rigs were salvaged from a Navy base (Mare Island) after it shut down and the Kenwood TS-520 is "on loan" from a friend of mine who upgraded several years ago.

    My 2 meter/440/220 HT (handheld tranceiver) is a Yaesu VX-5 which was under $200. It also works as a scanner and I can listen to law enforcement, etc (though not transmit on those frequencies as it is set up from the factory. I have heard they can be modified to do so but I have not) and local broadcast radio. There are HTs available that are built to military specs and waterproof, as well as having GPS. You can literally drive over them with a semi and they will still work fine. But they come with a price tag to match. HRO is a good source for all things HAM radio. Ham Radio Outlet | YAESU VX-6R | 2M/220/440 HT 5W 2/440 1.5W 220 MHZ
     
  19. bkt

    bkt New Member

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    I've been researching this, too, in order to stay in touch with friends miles away without depending in any way on infrastructure or folks who act as repeaters (like with HAM).

    FRS/GMRS/MURS/eXRS are all low-wattage and low-range radios. They work fine within a mile or so line-of-sight but aren't appropriate for anything longer range.

    Conventional 40-channel CBs are fine out 3-4 miles. You can have them tuned to increase the range. Wattage is typically limited to 4-5W.

    But my bet is on single side-band (SSB) CB. Those have significantly higher wattage and thus significantly longer range. Here are a couple links at one I'm looking at getting:
    Galaxy DX 979 CB Radio With StarLite Faceplate & Sideband at WalcottCB.com

    Review:
    Galaxy DX 979 AM SSB CB Radio Review

    HAM is certainly an option if this doesn't work as I hope it will. Passing the Tech-level is pretty trivial if you have any experience with electronics and radios at all. If the SSB CB doesn't get me the range I'm after, I'll try HAM next. But I really don't like depending on others to relay my signal.
     
  20. Scratchammo

    Scratchammo New Member

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    That Galaxy looks enticing, that should go well in the BOT. I also like the options of handhelds y'all have shown me. So many choices..... :rolleyes: