Tactical comms radios for family

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by lionking, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. lionking

    lionking Member

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    Any suggestions for good radio comms sets or unit for family that may include family in a community? Reliable and weather proof along with yes price consideration, say 6 in family setup
     
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  2. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    If every user is willing to pass the FCC exam for Amateur Radio Technician license (ham) the best range and sturdiness will be from 2m handy talky. Best price would be Baofeng radios on Amazon. Next level down would be get a family GMRS license (no exam). And a bunch of GMRS Units. For extended range you can add your own GMRS repeater. Shortest range, due to limits on both antenna and power, would be FRS radios which need no license. FRS and GMRS are the same technology but GMRS adds more channels (frequencies) and allows longer antennas and higher power.

    Craig, KF4TIR
     
  3. thewillweeks

    thewillweeks Member

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    Baofeng UV5r, 2nd or 3rd gen are good starters. In bulk they're as cheap as $16 with a 3+ mile range in good conditions. I've got programming files for them if you need help and good experience programming. As noted, you need a license for them. But they're good for just listening, and for true emergencies there are exemptions to using them without a license I believe if you are looking for an "in case" radio.

    Edit. They are not super weather resistant, but I haven't ruined any yet and I'm not the most careful. Plus, they're $16.
     
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  4. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    True, no license required to just listen.
     
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  5. mustbe

    mustbe Member

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    Baofengs can be programmed and used for GMRS with a license, just don't transmit on HAM channels.

    They can also use marine bands when on the water. There are tons of aftermarket goodies like antennas, mics, and batteries too.

    Buy a six pack. If you lose or break one, no big deal.
     
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  6. thewillweeks

    thewillweeks Member

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    They're not legal for gmrs/murs because of an ability to be keyboard programmed and because of the removable antenna. How will the FCC know that listening to you broadcast? I don't know.
     
  7. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Lot's of answers offered, but a big piece of information is missing: Over what distance are you wanting to communicate? If within a family compound, or a trip to Disney, then FRS. If several miles between parties, then GMRS. More than that, and you are in Amateur Radio territory. Even then, is this "line of sight", or possibly "line of sight to closest mountain", or for distances over the horizon or half way around the world? "Line of sight/closest mountain", then everyone needs an FCC Technician License. If over the horizon or further, than at least an FCC General License.

    The distance question will also dictate what equipment you buy, but licensed/unlicensed status needs to be resolved first.
     
  8. thewillweeks

    thewillweeks Member

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    Screenshot_20210923-175243.png
    A little quick example of why a repeater located on a local grain elevator is good to have access too. Some are very simple, and even solar powered.
     
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  9. rabid wombat

    rabid wombat Member

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    A positive side note about the Baofeng, you can program NOAA weather into them….A negative, you can broadcast on them….an easy way to draw undue attention…
     
  10. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    FRS is free to talk, or GMRS with a very cheap just-buy-it license gets suprising range IF you get good radios.

    Any Icom, or the commercial (not consumer!) Kenwood, Motorola, and so on. Do a bit of research on what are LMR (land mobile radio) in the GMRS bands and how to program them (some require software, so you likely want to avoid those models) and often they are available quite cheap on eBay, etc. If you go that way, get battery cases you can stuff AAs into and buy a supply of Lithium batteries. Rechargables go bad with age and are expensive new, need a charger, and if it's "bad-times" planning, or just travel, you won't have convenient recharge power. Stuff more batteries in. Pro radios also have very high quality accessories (mics, headsets) that don't always cost too much.

    Random example:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/384408190716
    Two radios for under $200. They look and act like consumer radios in that they are FRS and pushbutton to change channels but... Icom doesn't really make consumer radios. They are very high quality, work great, with no learning curve.

    (Icom also is nice as they use the same audio connectors on all their HTs (handy talkies) so you can go all the way to military headsets if you want to upgrade the system without adding complexity to your life... but others have some compatibility so if accessories matter, check that stuff before you buy).


    Now to make enemies:
    I see lots of people come out to to the woods with Baofeng and if you like is great but I see terrible performance out of them all the time. Not just people not knowing how to program, but noisy transmitters that interfere with other electronics nearby, lower range than they should get, bad batteries, bad connections causing low life and restarts, etc. If you love your Baofeng, great. I don't and won't own one, like to stay a good distance from people using them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
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  11. wgp

    wgp Member

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    I started with three little Motorola radios to keep track of kids while backpacking. Now use them when we have multiple deer hunters located around my farm. If someone shoots, we can find out whether an animal is down and the hunter wants field dressing or dragging help. Everybody has a cell phone but at our location service is unreliable. The little radios work fine at the distances involved. They do eat batteries pretty fast.
    I do caution my people about the state laws here prohibiting using radios to pass along the location of game animals.
     
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  12. thewillweeks

    thewillweeks Member

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    I got started with a baofeng, and when training found it far superior to the $300+ radios my counterparts were using so for uhf/vhf I've never upgraded.
     
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  13. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    How far are you wanting to TX?
     
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  14. jdh

    jdh Member

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    Looking at the transmission with the proper test equipment to see if it meets the spectral purity requirements for one. CCRs tend to be dirty. But most of the people who get charges with using non-approved equipment have been caught for some other misbehavior, like jamming, then get the non-approved equipment rap added on.
     
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  15. thewillweeks

    thewillweeks Member

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    They're pretty notorious for spurious emissions. You're correct, it's usually an additional charge, not the intial charge.
     
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  16. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Even better when the repeaters are on 11,000+ ft. mountains, even better when they are linked. We truly do get spoiled here in the SW.
     
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  17. Craig_VA
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    Craig_VA Contributing Member

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    I should clarify that 2m HAM radio repeaters are found all over the country, 1000's of them, run by various clubs and individuals. And most of them are publicly available; anyone can find the frequency and codes to use them in a variety of web sites and books. That 2m repeater world can carry conversations LONG distances.

    GMRS radios are different, in that a GMRS repeater is usually put up by the family or small community to support just their local area. I read that the idea of GMRS radios with a repeater was particularly for farmers to have a local radio net that covered all their acreage. That is why the reference to a grain elevator, above.
     
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  18. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    Baofeng is popular over here with campers and ''overlander'' groups.

    There is no way at all, that all of them are licensed. In fact I'll bet that most of them are outlaws.

    The test can be studied, practiced, and taken completely online now. And is easier than ever last I heard.
     
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  19. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    We have a problem here in Albuquerque with the annual Balloon Fiesta (the largest hot air balloon event in the world). Some of the balloonists chase crews use Baofeng and similar cheap Chinese radios, and even though unlicensed they often carry on their communications in the Amateur 2m or 70cm bands. I don't know if there has ever been any enforcement, so they just continue this practice.
     
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  20. Boomholzer

    Boomholzer Member

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    the internet ruins everything
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
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  21. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    Lot of good answers here. You guys have already covered the basics. I do want to commend the tone of the discussion. Usually, the first thing that comes out of a question like this is "I don't care about licenses or government permission." Shortly after that is "I don't care if I interfere with others using a a cheap radio." Indeed, I was surprised to see a discussion about spectral analysis and spurious emissions. Kudos.

    That said, my thought is the OP's best option is amateur radio. However, in my experience, it has been impossible to get anyone else in my family interested in radio at all, let alone take an exam. And whoever said the test was stupid easy is correct. 35 out of 50 questions, covering polite operation and very basic electricity. NO morse code at all. (There is no longer a morse code (CW) requirement for any amateur radio license.) IMHO, there is no excuse for anyone who is serious about family/group communications to not have a Tech license.

    As for the Baofeng...not no, hell no, but then, I must be one of those 90 year old elitist crumudgeons who are killing ham radio.
     
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  22. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    including the internet.
     
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  23. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    PS, I'm shocked this hasn't been shut down for not being firearm related, yet.
     
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  24. D.B. Cooper

    D.B. Cooper Member

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    deleted
     
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  25. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    You could talk about string if you were talking about tactical string.

    Like the 10 years/$250,00 fine (without the right paperwork) trigger string.

    5F7744E8-BB9D-41F3-BF60-13CFC3FFBFFF.jpeg

    My question of range was to get an idea of intended use. I use radios that were given to me years ago when they were changed out for new models at Huntsville prison.

    I added to them digital recorders for location and IR motion sensors. Place them about our property and without a repeater, can know if there is movement at any location, instantly with no need for internet or cell service. Range is only around 2 miles (without a repeater, a simplex repeater isn’t rocket science to put together though) and that is dependent on vegetation, terrain and if I am using an antenna on a PVC pipe.

    81A097E9-D161-48A2-B298-2B42E6FC32EB.jpeg D68BC0B8-957B-4D14-B10E-8879E8C54BF7.jpeg

    One tactic I use is to put it where I already know from game cameras there are animals I want to kill. When they show up, I am notified, head that way and dispatch them.

    Have even got caught myself on camera before.

    7405B5B2-0972-46C2-BBB9-23D5804CD163.jpeg

    Our location and limited range has not seemed to have cause any problems with the frequency they are on and unlike civilian radios, there isn’t ever “party line” chats going.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
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