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Old 10-04-2016, 10:39 AM
Gibson_es Gibson_es is offline
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Default radio for 25 city miles?



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first off, I know very little about radios. I have used CB's and those cheap Handheld radios you take to theme parks. and that is the extent of my knowledge.

I don't know if what I am looking for exists, and if it does, how much time and money must be invested. please, hear me out on what I would like to accomplish, and let me know if it's at all possible.

I am in Florida, so we are talking pretty flat land, however, we are also talking about in City use as well. buildings, trees, electronics, etc.

using a website that lets me view distance as a straight line, and not based on roads. I am just under 23 miles from my Parents house (30 miles driving). while I myself and more than happy to learn and read up on radios and operating them, I am fine with getting a license, and most anything else that may be required. my father will probably not be. what I am wanting is a couple radios. handheld/portable if its possible. that would allow us to communicate from house to house in the event of... well... anything. our most probably scenario would be power outages do to hurricanes. in a worst case scenario there may not be any radio towers for cell service even if your phones were not dead.

portable is preferred, that way if there is a need to leave our homes, we could still stay in contact if we are still in range.

being as my father is not the super prepared type, the ideal situation would be something I can give him a quick rundown on (luckily he is a pretty savvy) and he can just leave it plugged in or charged or whatever. hopefully not too expensive as I would be buying two. mine and his.

what are my options, if any? in trying to research this myself, it seems like HAM radio is the only option for this distance. and, it seems this involved a lot of training and high cost, on top of licensing. as I stated, I don't mind it so much, but my dad has zero interest in it. if the licensing is something you just pay for, I can pay for his. but if it involved a test or something, then that's out for him. and again, if it takes a lot of learning and training to operate then it wouldn't work out anyway.
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:01 AM
seanR seanR is offline
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You could get a GMRS licence that will cover you and your family, but you would still be hard pressed to TX 25 miles.
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:09 AM
Gibson_es Gibson_es is offline
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You could get a GMRS licence that will cover you and your family, but you would still be hard pressed to TX 25 miles.
what would the reliable range be do you think? the miles came in just under 23 miles from me to him. both of us are in city now, unfortunately.
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Old 10-04-2016, 12:36 PM
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There is nothing that does not require a license and pretty high investment. There are not any cheap solutions, and no true handheld/walkie-talkie solution, either, that does not involve the use of repeaters.

Mobile units are a different story. As are external, high mount antenna systems.

Simply nothing cheap, hand held, direct, no license, and reliable.

Just my opinion.
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Old 10-04-2016, 12:44 PM
gungatim gungatim is offline
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Ham radio does not require "a lot of training and high cost, on top of licensing".

study online with any of the free training sites that use actual test questions. school kids can easily pass and routinely do. after a few weeks anyone can easily pass just by memorizing the test. I believe the voluntary examiners only charge $30 to get licensed.

2m radio using repeaters for $25 on ebay or amazon. will get you there.

If you don't want to use repeaters, you can use other bands with higher power. used equipment is not very expensive, you may just need to study a bit more and upgrade the license to open up the bands and power limits.

licensing exists for a good reason.

or you could go the CB route with big amps and hope you don't get caught (which is pretty unlikely anyway).

there was a guy one here posting how he used a baofeng as a repeater for a similar situation, if there is not a decent repeater footprint around you .
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Old 10-04-2016, 01:05 PM
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Unless you get get line-of-site to your folks, aside from using a repeater the HF bands is the only good option. Just test for General and you are set. Although I do think you can work 10M on SSB Phone up to 28.50 with Tech License and that will get you good range as well with MUCH MORE POWER than just the standard CB radio.

Hit the HAM Fest in your area or look on QRZ or Ebay for HF HAM Radio for sale. Might be a little dated but they will get the job done. I have seen some advertised for as little as $80.
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Old 10-04-2016, 02:10 PM
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Get a tech license and a couple TM281's (they seem to have good pricing most of the time) then put up good antennas, maybe j-pole or dipole, at your homes, as high as possible. Those might communicate with each other at that distance, after that might even have decent luck between 1 handheld and 1 tm281 base, for the in between spots, as in you traveling to him, while he stays on the home radio. That would of course mean you both need a license to practice such comms


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Old 10-04-2016, 03:44 PM
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So you are looking for a 2-way mobile communication system that reliably covers 25-30 miles, without needing a license and simple enough that your father can just plug it in and forget about it until something goes really wrong?

What is your budget?

You may find you have some studying to do if you aren't willing to come off the $$$. Knowledge and practice are free to help offset the money.

If your father isn't willing to get a license then a mobile (vehicle mount) CB would be worth looking into.

Also, the antenna setup can make or break a system. Perhaps a couple of base antennas at your respective houses and just move the radios to the vehicles if needed. There are lots DIY antennas but if you, and your father, do not understand how they operate you will be limiting yourself.
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Old 10-04-2016, 08:06 PM
Gibson_es Gibson_es is offline
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Thanks so far guys. As i mentioned. I am willing to practice and get a license and all that. My dad doesnt really find any of this necissary. Stubbern and such. I am jist trying to figure out the best solution. I know if i ask him to study, take a test, etc. He wont do it. But i i buy everything and go overthere, set it up, and give him some instructions he will allow it.

I see a few of you mention CB's. I didnt think they could reach that far without some serious stuff. I dont mind getting a setup at my home amd his home. It would be portable, but at least its something. He isnt going to let me mount anything in his car though. It would have to be in home. CB would be great as he already knows the basic operations of one. When he had a camper and was traveling along with his band he had one in his truck that he used.

EDIT: i was just reading something. It stated if both parties has an SSB capable CB, it would allow 12 watts legally. Any idea on the distance possible for something like this? Assuming proper components....
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Old 10-04-2016, 08:51 PM
willthrill81 willthrill81 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibson_es View Post
Thanks so far guys. As i mentioned. I am willing to practice and get a license and all that. My dad doesnt really find any of this necissary. Stubbern and such. I am jist trying to figure out the best solution. I know if i ask him to study, take a test, etc. He wont do it. But i i buy everything and go overthere, set it up, and give him some instructions he will allow it.

I see a few of you mention CB's. I didnt think they could reach that far without some serious stuff. I dont mind getting a setup at my home amd his home. It would be portable, but at least its something. He isnt going to let me mount anything in his car though. It would have to be in home. CB would be great as he already knows the basic operations of one. When he had a camper and was traveling along with his band he had one in his truck that he used.

EDIT: i was just reading something. It stated if both parties has an SSB capable CB, it would allow 12 watts legally. Any idea on the distance possible for something like this? Assuming proper components....
Here's the problem. The distance to the 'radio horizon' if you're 6 feet off the ground (i.e. handheld radio) is just 3 miles. If the person you're trying to reach is also 6 feet off the ground, their radio horizon is also 3 miles, so you could, theoretically, reach each other from a maximum distance of 6 miles.

But that's only under optimal conditions (i.e. no buildings, trees, shrubbery, etc. between the two radios). In a city environment, one mile is much more common.

No radio of any kind, regardless of its transmitting power, can go beyond the radio horizon UNLESS its at a low enough frequency to bounce off the ionosphere (layer of the atmosphere) and the atmospheric conditions at that specific moment in time allow for it. That is possible with certain radios, but they are low frequency and, to my knowledge, none are handheld. The radios typically used for these are quite large. The other 'exception' is to reach out to a repeater station, which can dramatically extend your effective range. I would highly recommend checking to see if repeaters are in place in the area you're interested in communicating within. If they are, then it's very possible.

So to reiterate what JerryDYoung wisely said, you just can't do it without expensive equipment, expensive equipment, and proper training unless a repeater is involved.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gibson_es View Post

EDIT: i was just reading something. It stated if both parties has an SSB capable CB, it would allow 12 watts legally. Any idea on the distance possible for something like this? Assuming proper components....
Depending on antenna quality and height you could triple the distance using SSB at 12W. Say you get your antenna 31' high, best case scenario 50-100 miles...that's really stretching it though even in perfect weather and atmospheric conditions. Sure you can get some anomalies but that is rare. But well within your distance requirements.

Might want to consider building a 10/11 Meter yagi antenna to get the most distance if you end up going that route.

Just keep in mind if SHTF the CB only gives you what 22 channels to work with. Getting your General can literally get you thousands of frequencies to work. with that you have digital modes, am, fm, USB, LSB, CCW...

Last edited by JLW1974; 10-04-2016 at 09:15 PM.. Reason: Content
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Old 10-04-2016, 10:20 PM
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http://www.arrl.org/frequency-allocations

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Old 10-04-2016, 10:32 PM
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Some GMRS repeaters do exist in Florida.
https://www.mygmrs.com/browse?name=&...=State&step=25

You will need programmable GMRS-compatible radios such that you can program them to work with the repeater.

Apply online (with the FCC) for the GMRS license. There is no test and it covers you and your immediate family.
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:33 PM
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My understanding is that by "Immediate family" the FCC literature seems to indicate your household, so both households would need a $65 license good for five years with the GMRS. I have had a GMRS for a few years, but haven't found a use for it since everyone in rural NE, Texas who wants communications as part of emergency preparedness has at least a tech license.

Or for $15 and a couple of evenings studying, you could get your tech HAM radio license and start learning why this question is so frequently asked and why the answers are never really what the person asking wants to hear. Believe me, we wish we could give you a straight forward answer.

As stated above, 2Meter radios are good for short range depending on your antenna height. They are also about as easy to use as cell phones. Beyond the horizon, you'll need the right frequency band for the time of the day. There are things like skip zones which shrink and grow depending on what layer of the ionosphere your signal bounces off. Think of it as a bank shot on a 3-D pool table. For the experienced HF operator, it is second nature. Not so much for the rest of us.
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Old 10-05-2016, 10:32 AM
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It looks like a CB setup will be the closest for your criteria although the range is still questionable.

Take a look at this link for ideas. It is portable (mobile) and will not need to be mounted. Just keep it plugged in with a battery charger. Obviously the range will not be there using a mag mount antenna.

https://www.survivalistboards.com/sho...d.php?t=301308

This link has some good suggestions for an upgraded antenna but you/he will need to stop to deploy the antenna.

https://www.survivalistboards.com/sho...d.php?t=168714

If you are up for it you can try this website that gives you an idea of your coverage based on antenna height, freq, watts for the base and mobile radios.

http://www.ve2dbe.com/rmonline.html

Last edited by ShaDoLor; 10-05-2016 at 10:33 AM.. Reason: Fixed link.
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:11 PM
Reverend Bow Reverend Bow is offline
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I would go SSB CB

Get a pair of good Base antenna and mount them as high as practical would get you the type of range.

If you go Base station to base station, You can get 23 miles over flat land.

Mobile to mobile could be a bit rough at that distance, using legal power levels.
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:57 PM
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If you can do base units then CB SSB radios with a vertical antenna plus a 3-element beams, on short towers, would work fine. Would not need a rotor for the beams if the primary concern was point to point.

Just my opinion.
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Old 10-05-2016, 04:35 PM
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I have asked similar questions on different forums and never received an answer that I liked, so I'm starting to think that maybe what I want doesn't exist. I, too, am in an urban environment, and I would like to be able to patrol, forage, etc. in case of SHTF. Since a true SHTF situation would likely mean no electricity, I would like the best range on a handheld, portable radio that uses regular batteries, not rechargeable built in batteries.
Obviously, FRS radios don't do very well when blocked by houses, trees, etc.
Special antennas aren't a real answer for true portability.
Maybe smoke signals?
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Old 10-05-2016, 04:55 PM
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I'd start with getting a couple of CB's (11m rigs), set them up as base stations with alt power, and run them into yagi's. You should be able to get that distance with no issues on flat land. Then get a couple of mobile units, and keep testing everything out.

Shouldn't be too expensive, no license needed, won't depend on other infrastructure, etc.
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Old 10-05-2016, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
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what would the reliable range be do you think? the miles came in just under 23 miles from me to him. both of us are in city now, unfortunately.
I know what I would do! I would have a radio shop put some upper channels in a couple cheapo CB's. Each has to have that same channel in order to have a private channel. (more than likely a shop in some ones home )If you get that done buy a good 100 watt kicker. You will be able to transmit 25 miles with a good antenna.( the higher to top of the antenna the more range you'll have. You can buy good used CBs. I found a 40 channel cobra with upper and lower side bands for 30 bucks not long ago. Check Craig's list, they always have CBs for sale. By the way they no longer require a license for citizen band radios. It's not legal but it works.. If TSHTF who cares what is legal or not...
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