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Ok first off, I am not a techy when it comes to radios and how they operate so simple language please. Second, I want as simple of an answer to my question(s) as possible.

My wife works 37 miles away from home and I want something with a preferred 100 mile range no matter what kind of terrain covers it. I would settle for 50 mile range, but the more the better.

I want something that I can keep in each vehicle and the house in case the S Hits TF my wife and I can communicate and make it possible to meet up. Also get the rest of the friends and families informed so they can get some too.

Also, I don't know much about cost of radios and equipment but I want to spend as little as possible on the radios... I wasn thinking $100-$150 per radio.

And to top it all off, I want it to be portbable. Weight really isn't an issue, just size.

Now I am imagining most of you are thinking I am completely and utterly out of my mind and I can respect that so I am asking you respect my ignorance when it comes to radios. Thank you for your time.
 

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I'm no expert, but have a little bit of experience. What you're asking for is next to impossible without a HAM license, and difficult with one.

The frequency bands most transceivers are mad for fall into a few general bands. These are HF, VHF, and UHF. HF is from 3-30 MHz. VHF is 30-300 MHz. UHF is 300-3000 MHz.

VHF and UHF are basically line-of-sight unless you have a repeater available. No HAM license = no repeater available to you. Because they are line of sight, you generally cannot talk farther than the horizon which is about 3-6 miles.

HF is better at longer distance communication, but as you drop in frequency the antennas get bigger. This makes it more difficult to make the equipment portable. Also, the power requirements become higher, which makes it harder to make the power supply or batteries portable. For example, on 80 meter, ranges of a couple hundred miles are possible, but a quarter wave antenna is 65 FEET long. I hardly consider that portable.

I am not aware of any device that would meet your requirements, especially cost wise.

You say you are in western Washington. If your house is on a mountainside looking down at Seattle and that is where you want to talk, you might be able to rig something up, but it is not guaranteed nor would it be reliable unless you have direct line of sight to the areas you want to talk to at all times.
 

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Ok first off, I am not a techy when it comes to radios and how they operate so simple language please. Second, I want as simple of an answer to my question(s) as possible.

My wife works 37 miles away from home and I want something with a preferred 100 mile range no matter what kind of terrain covers it. I would settle for 50 mile range, but the more the better.

I want something that I can keep in each vehicle and the house in case the S Hits TF my wife and I can communicate and make it possible to meet up. Also get the rest of the friends and families informed so they can get some too.

Also, I don't know much about cost of radios and equipment but I want to spend as little as possible on the radios... I wasn thinking $100-$150 per radio.

And to top it all off, I want it to be portbable. Weight really isn't an issue, just size.

Now I am imagining most of you are thinking I am completely and utterly out of my mind and I can respect that so I am asking you respect my ignorance when it comes to radios. Thank you for your time.
Assuming you want to rely on no one but yourself for communications, IE. no repeaters or relay stations, Once you get out past 10 miles or so there are no license free options available. Nothing $150 per unit will do it and Nothing portable will do it.

Depending on the terrain where you live, a 50watt GMRS mobile MIGHT make the 20-30 mile trip but not much further.

With the 100 mile range and even the short 50 mile range ham radio is really your only option. For that range 80m is your best option. There are mobile, base and even a transportable unit available but antennas tend to be a bit large. YOu can get a stubby antennas that might work or just toss some wire in a true and use it as a transportable antenna. For "portable/transportable" unit the Yaesu 817 is the best option, followed by the Icom 703. The Icom 706 or 7000 are small HF mobiles that can be carried if needed but the battery will need to be pretty good size. There is also elcraft k3. YOu can consider some of the small "QRP" radios, but most of those are morse code only radios. COst wise the Yaesu 817 is around $600 and prices go up from there to over $1500 for unit plus antennas and accessories you might want.

Both stations will need a ham radio general class license to make this work on ham radio, license isnt hard but you will need to study for the test.
 

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Son Of Liberty
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Hello, KI4RHH here.

You need a Ham ticket and a 2 meter repeater based system , though most repeaters are privatly owned and often kept in a way that would allow there continued opperation post TEOTWAWKI.

other then that you could spend a huge ammount of time and money trying to get CB to fill your need but you would need to become a radio guru to get anything near semi reliable comms.

the other choises without getting a ham ticket would be MURS a repeaterless low wattage 2 meter based system often used for buisnesses in whare houses though range is FAR FAR less then you want I have made 8 mile as a crow flies contact.

good news though Ham tickets are easy to get and will open you up to being part of a larger comms group allowing more communication throughout your AO.

:thumb: good luck
 

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Deo VIndice
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+1 to what Beaterar said to a ham lic.

Since they did away with the morse code requirement, you can usually find a ham club in your area. they will give a class on a saturday on general theory and some will test you right afterwards.

73, de KC4ZBR
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for your input :) I will have to ponder further on this subject. Probably will go get my HAM license.
 

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I'm the boogey man.......
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80m HF with a mobile NVIS antenna with a 2m simplex (vhf) backup.

You're looking at $1200-$1800 per vehicle and around $1100 for the home setup.

You get what you pay for.
 

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Thanks everyone for your input :) I will have to ponder further on this subject. Probably will go get my HAM license.
Although I tend to support GMRS, in this case, I have to agree with everyone that HAM is probably the way to go.

Keep in mind that your wife will need a license as well, and that the radio budget for decent HAM gear will be far beyond $150 (as you originally requested.)
 

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Hello, KI4RHH here.

You need a Ham ticket and a 2 meter repeater based system , though most repeaters are privatly owned and often kept in a way that would allow there continued opperation post TEOTWAWKI.
I would not base my TEOTWAWKI communication system on any repeater system. While in the short term they might be usable they will not be around forever. If you want a day one solution, fine. After that dont rely on it and always have options for day one.
 

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Son Of Liberty
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I would not base my TEOTWAWKI communication system on any repeater system. While in the short term they might be usable they will not be around forever. If you want a day one solution, fine. After that dont rely on it and always have options for day one.
True enough, the reliability of comms of this sort given the end of the world is questionable, but for now and in the first days I feel that it will be reliable.

There are also Amature satalites that can be used though in a slightly differnt manner.

I have a car the is set up as a cross band repeater I can set it up in about 15 minutes after ariveing at my broadcast sight, this allows me a mobile repeater foro as lon as i can keep the car secure given a endo of the world situation.

My repeater clubs repeater is solar, and generator backed up so provided there is no EMP it will continue to function unmaned for some time provided it is kept secure.

Im a MARS opperator, the MARS system is controlled and managed by the military as a backup system for things like civil defence, its also a repeater based system to include microwave stations. As a member of MARS I also get something called an EOC card or emergancy opperations card, this puts me under military rule provided the end of the world hits and I can not be detaned , questioned, or , arrested by local authority for traveling dureing martial law, or other local emergancies.

now in most cases I find 2 meter to be enough to get started, after learning 2 meter then he can move up to a HF system.
 
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For the distance and amt you want to spend,if shtf,you may have to depend on cell phones as long as the towers are up and running,then go with some good gmrs radios for shorter range when she gets headed to the meeting point.
 

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Communications Bunker
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if you have the budget ($2000 or so) you can build out your own GMRS system that should cover the range you want to cover, provided you can get a mountain top repeater site central to the coverage area. You may have to pay rent on a repeater site, but thats about the best way to get your communications needs covered. I have been working with communications in one form or another for the past 10 years and the only reliable way I have encountered to cover that distance with as little hassle as possible is through a repeater, and even then terrain can cause dead spots in teh coverage area. For example, in my area we have an amazing GMRS repeater. it has a coverage area of almost 120 miles across, however in the area near the repeater there are steep mountains and deep hollows where the coverage is spotty at best. this is because those hollows are in a shadow and the mountains block the signal.
 

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Resident Ninja
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This was a very informative thread... I often wondered about a similar situation and what would be needed to obtain it.
 

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Grumpy Old Bastard
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The only way I see of doing it within your listed requirements is through Ham Radio. Get your tech license, then go for your General license. Both you AND your wife should get them.

Next, study and use Morse Code. It gets through when nothing else will. The bands can be totally jammed with voice and garbage but, that little dit-dah in the background can be pulled out and the message can be passed.

Next, get yourself some QRP rigs. I've built a Pixie II and I know of a net in Alaska that uses them to talk distances of over 300 miles on a regular basis. Not bad for something that will fit in an Altoids tin WITH the 9v power supply and a long piece of wire. You can hook them right into a mobile antenna on your car as well.

Licenses: $20 each (give or take)
Radio's: $30 each (give or take)
Talkin to your sweetie when TSHTF: Priceless.
 

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IF a SHTF countrywide emergency occurs, all gov't regulations concerning ham radio are out the window. If you are in a life or death situation, you can operate any piece of equipment without a license (but studying for a license will help you get to know how to run that equipment :))

I know I'm going to catch H-E-double hockey sticks over this, but get some CB radios and a small linear amplifier for each mobile unit. Easier to install, and almost every truck stop has them. A sideband (SSB) unit has more power available and usually provides a cleaner signal.

Yes, 2-meter rigs are nice, but there is a fairly steep learning curve with ham equipment, where nearly anyone who's watched "Smokey And The Bandit" can operate a CB.

My 2 cents.
 

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While during a TRUE life and death situation you can use a radio to talk to whoever for assistance. Talking to the wife, brother or friend will take a lot of preplaning. Just because you can pick up the radio and push the button to talk does not mean that your signal will get out, that the intended person will be listening to the exact same microscopic portion of the whole radio spectrum that you are transmitting on.

Shoot my work radio has 300 preprogrammed channels in it, on a day to day basis I use 2 or 3 of them, if I accidentally transmit on the wrong one I get nothing, If I'm lucky I get an angry dispatcher telling me that I messed up. There are times in my district that my HT will not work and I can hardly get a signal in or out with my mobile set up. Dry mountains destroy radio signals, even of systems where governments have spent millions of dollars for us to talk to each other.

In my personal life I have had my Part 90 commercial radios fail me on GMRS, but then again I have also had my Ham rig fail me. For com's you need to learn how to make it work and you need to work with them just as often as other skills, or better yet work com skills in with other skills training.

Com's are the one thing where you do need a working plan today, or you have no plan tomorrow. Back up plans for com's are just as important.
 

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Grumpy Old Bastard
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IF a SHTF countrywide emergency occurs, all gov't regulations concerning ham radio are out the window.
OK, you are babbling in areas that you don't have a clue here. In Ham Radio terms, you've got too much QRM. Nobody runs out and jumps on ham radios in a countrywide emergency. Katrina was one of the closest things we've had to a monster emergency and ham radio did just fine. Hams were some of the first to get communication going and worked with all agencies to keep those communications working. Government regulations don't have a thing to do with it.


If you are in a life or death situation, you can operate any piece of equipment without a license (but studying for a license will help you get to know how to run that equipment :))
Studying for a license to help you operate a ham radio is like studying the dmv manual to help you drive a car. It might get you on the right side of the road but, if you don't know how to shift the gears, you're not going to go anywhere.

I know I'm going to catch H-E-double hockey sticks over this, but get some CB radios and a small linear amplifier for each mobile unit. Easier to install, and almost every truck stop has them. A sideband (SSB) unit has more power available and usually provides a cleaner signal.
Linear amps are a huge waste of time and money. You're better off going to that same truck stop and buying THE BEST and HIGHEST RECOMMENDED antenna you can get your hands on. There ARE no legal "linears" made for CB radios period. I'm not saying that because of the legality, I'm saying it because someone has "made" a linear amp work for the 11 meter or CB band that started life probably as a 10 meter amplifier. A lot of design technology goes into those amplifiers to make them work band specific, some even multi-band specific. TO just cut a diode or clip a wire here or there could have serious consequences when you need to work in an emergency. You're much better off with a better antenna.

I'd take a tuner and a chainlink fence over a 100 watt amp any day.

Yes, 2-meter rigs are nice, but there is a fairly steep learning curve with ham equipment, where nearly anyone who's watched "Smokey And The Bandit" can operate a CB.
As YO_Doc said in the post before this "For com's you need to learn how to make it work and you need to work with them just as often as other skills, or better yet work com skills in with other skills training."

If you're going to need coms in an emergency, why not get licensed and learn to use the gear now instead of trying to make it through everyone else that will be hollering for help on over crowded CB radio bands.

A factory CB that most folks will be using has 40 available channels on it. A factory 2 meter radio has from 144.000 to 148.000 mhz range on it. So, let's see, I can go 144.000, 144.005, 144.010, 144.015.. well, you get the picture. Here where I live, there's about 40 mountaintop repeaters which can take my simple 5 watt handheld signal and amplify it to 1500 watts on a 200 ft tower on top of a mountain. From there, some are linked to other repeater sites and links go back and forth through them. There's even one that has an internet link where people talk to other hams all over the world doing the same thing.

Let's see you do THAT with a CB radio.

My 2 cents.
My 10 cents change..
 

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to kl0an

kl0an,

I've sent you a PM regarding your reply.

I think that StukPig is wanting voice comms, and for the range he specifies, I still believe that a SSB CB rig is his best choice. You are correct that an antenna is the most important part of any radio system, but low power QRP rigs using Morse Code will probably not meet his current needs.

For the rest of the forum, my reply was quickly written during a lunch break - my apologies.

JohnD
 

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I'm waiting

kl0an, (Paul),

I'm waiting for my thank you regarding the PM in which I agree with most of your points.

I'm also waiting for the apology about babbling. If one reads your rebuttal to my reply to StukPig, they will see that you really don't stay on the subject, and rant on to your detriment. (Most of your other posts on this blog seem to be so well thought out...)

I have a post in the works that should help StukPig and his friends be able to communicate much better than your "CW", "QRP", and "Antenna, Antenna, Antenna" reply.

Yes, antennas are important, but StukPig and his friends need something NOW, and a single-sideband CB rig will get them on the air in a matter of days, rather than weeks or months required by the amateur radio path.

For the audience's info, I am an Extra class rated amateur, like kl0an. I just don't have the bias towards Morse code or QRP rigs (which I thoroughly enjoy) or extra-long antennas (usually required for the best transmission/reception). I also don't care to give personal info (like a call sign) for everyone to look up on QRZ.com.

Thank you for your patience.

JohnD
 
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