Stay away from the 400mhz range radios like the FRS. If you must choose the cheapo units, look for something in the vhf range...it carries farther. I would also suggest you get your ham radio license. It costs about $15 for a 10yr license to get into the first tier or Technician Class (Technician, Advanced & General being the hardest). If you go to QRZ.com and find the practice exam section, keep taking them (there are 100 possibles) until you master the first 10 tests (you can hit back if you miss it and try again until you get right answer...helps you learn). Mostly after the first 10 tests, it's just word rearrangement on the rest. There are two basic formulas you will need to know: easy way to remember them is EAR PIE...like taking a pie in the ear. The formulas are here: Ohm's Law - The basics - Ohms Law Formulas Explained It is basic, common sense stuff. Doesn't get hard until the General test. Having Technician will allow you to use the VHF 2-meter band where there are many repeaters available and it can sometimes cover the whole state.
many good car CB's can be "tweaked" to 12watt or more ... beyond that, go 2m/440 ham
Wow, i never thought to get a HAM license for emergency communications, but now with all the knowledge that just got brain dumped into this thread, I think I'm going to get something set up so I can communicate with my wife. She is in CA and I'm in AZ most of the week, what would be a good set up for us?
You get what you pay for.
If you expect a $79 GMRS radio to outperform a $1000 UHF, you will always be disappointed.
I don't know if CB is still in use other than truckers, but you may be able to contact a trucker who can help.
I hate to see people getting Ham radios with no intention of being Hams, just like CB's have no respect for "real" radio.
Keep a cell phone as the best choice for human contact.
Take the plunge and become a ham! There's a lot of good people out there on the airwaves. Seek out a local amateur radio club and talk to the people there. Don't even bother with cb, I'm a trucker and mine is off 95% of the time because all of the garbage out there. Good luck! KG6TOP
Wife and I are both CERT and just 3 weeks ago got our Tect licenses and have joined the local Ham Club (what great folks they are very helpful).
We both have Wouxum KG-UVD1P hand held as does most all the CERT folks.
Today went shopping for material to make a dipole home made portable antenna which should allow the hand held Wouxum to get out much further than the rubber duck does now.
CERT has opened up a whole new world for us, being trained and equipped in these troubled times gives hope for the future.
Searcher 45, you would be amazed at what you can do with a soldering iron, and SO239 socket and a couple of wire coat hangers. Make a nice 1/4 wave for under $5.00
To be legal CB radios can't be more than 4 watts AM and 12 Watts SSB. And you get to hear everybody in your area that has one. With ham or GMRS you can use tone controlled squelch so if you desire you can hear only people with the same tone programmed, or set to carrier squelch and hear anyone on that frequency. With GMRS you can go 50 watts mobile, with ham you can go more than that. With "real" GMRS radios and ham radios you can use better antennas. The blister pack units are pretty weak radios with pretty crappy antennas. With a 4 watt GMRS or ham portable radio with a still crappy rubber duck I can hit repeaters on high rises and towers twenty miles away. With my KG-UVD1P and a coat hanger antenna in my attic I can hit those repeaters with about 1.5 watts.
You will get a better bang for your buck with improvements to your antennas than transmitter power.
Thanks for the info will check it out!!!!!!!!
Originally Posted by mcp1810
Well, i've listened to all of the arguments here and there is a very good case for HAM. However, considering many factors I think I've decided to go with the handheld CB. My main reasons are:
- I believe there are likely more CB radios on the roads than HAM. I hear people complaining about too many people sharing only 40 channels. Well, for the intended purpose of my radio, that sounds like a very good thing.
- CB is cheaper
- No training or license required. This is a big plus because I don't plan on actually using this radio for anything except an emergency so I don't want to have to keep up with licenses and training just to keep one in the car for emergencies.
- I have several friends and family who already have a CB in their vehicle, many of which I didn't even know about until I started asking around.
I may, in fact, buy two of the units. I have found some nice ones for $79 that also include NOAA weather channels on them. If I have two, and I ran into a situation where I needed to communicate with another person in a disaster who didn't already have one, I could hand them the second one.
When I use to hunt with my Dad, I would carry a hand held CB which had an external antenna with a magnetic base so I could increase it range some, might want to think about adding one to your kit if you go the CB route.
The handheld CB will work pretty well with the 102" whip on it. :)
Originally Posted by MattInFla
I'm not sure that having no training and little / no experience using a tool you plan to employ in an emergency is the right way to go....
Originally Posted by adric22
Just thought I'd give an update here.
I have experimented several times with the "35 mile range" GMRS radio. So far the best I've gotten is about 2 miles in the absolute perfect line-of-sight situation. Generally, even at full power I'm only getting about half a mile on average.
The other thing is, I have set the unit on scan mode as I drive and it is actually pretty rare for me to find a conversation going on between other people. As many of these as the sell in the store, you'd think that there would be more people actually using them. Which makes me re-think the whole situation, since the idea was to get ahold of somebody. Granted, in a disaster situation, more of them might be in use.
Today I bought a little handheld CB radio at Fry's for $33 made by Midland. I have been able to hear several conversations, even from my home. I haven't attempted to talk to any of the people yet. So I don't know about the transmit power of the thing, especially with the little 10" antenna on it. But it is seeming more useful.
I've also noticed there are some relatively inexpensive radios on ebay for HAM frequencies. A friend of mine just started getting his HAM license, so I'm thinking about experimenting a bit with some of that. I suppose there is room in my bag for all 3 types of radios. They aren't very big, after all. And I've discovered they aren't nearly as expensive as I thought. I think I'll have spent around $100 for all 3 types of radios. I suppose that would give me the best chance.
What I plan to do when I get the HAM is I'm going to do an experiment where I'll drive around my area with all 3 types of radios (and matching set at home) and see what the range is on each type. I'll report back in a week or so and tell you how it goes.
Hey that is some real testing there. I am interested in the results.
"Breaker 19, come back now good buddy.. anybody got their ears on?"
Just a quick revisit here....
The important thing to keep in mind is that UHF radios are basically line of sight. As has been said before the 35 mile range units are good for 35 miles when you are talking mountain top to mountain top or when both of you are standing on top of sky scrapers.
On perfectly flat ground with nothing around you your "radio horizon" is going to be basically the square root of the antenna height in feet plus about two miles.
So with a perfectly tuned antenna and a transmitter pushing a bazillion watts holding your antenna up over your head to nine feet, you are still only going to get about 5 miles. Now if someone else is doing the same thing their horizon also being about five miles, the two of you can communicate standing like that for about ten miles.
This is why radio stations have those big towers. Put a repeater antenna up 400 feet and you now have a 20 mile horizon. If we are on opposite sides of the coverage area I can talk to you, through the repeater, with a half watt forty miles away.