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I need to establish some firm reliable comm with my wife when I'm out of town. I travel a far amount(work related), however I'm usually within < 100 miles of home. I have a handheld uniden scanner to keep track of PD/Emer activity but have no way to comm with my house except a cell phone.

Any help is appreciated, I'd like to keep cost under $400
 

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Probably y'all need to get ham licenses and investigate NVIS antennas for 40 or 75 meters.

That would be the way to go without having to rely on cellphone towers or VHF repeaters.

-bob
 

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40M Mighty Mite radios, tuner, long wire antena. Both need tech class ham licences and morse fluency

Total cost $150
 

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I agree with bhowie on NVIS on 40 or 75...YMMV.. propagation has to exist even for NVIS to work and its not a slam dunk, but as far as infrastructure free options, thats it...The last week on the 40m nets has been a challenge, even with power...Check Ebay and hamfests for equipment, as $400 for reliable equipment will be tough (Since you will need two stations, one you home and one for you to travel with).

If infrastructure utilization isn't a concern for you, consider a SAT phone.

It all depends on how much effort you want to put forth to determine how far you can make your $400 last..

good luck!

MG
 

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Communications Bunker
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Considering your need for firm and reliable and that you will need to use it while traveling, I disagree that NVIS is a good suggestion. NVIS depends on various atmospheric conditions and can be degraded by noise from things like nearby cars, generators and the like.don't expect mother nature to cooperate and give you the needed band conditions and don't expect to have time or the room needed to set up an NVIS HF antenna. Lets face it, if you're stuck in traffic you're probably not going to be in a position to set up an HF antenna.

Your profile says you are in NC. Depending on what part of NC will give several options. If you are in the Western region, mainly in an area from Charlotte west to Waynesville, consider getting ham radio and making good use of the repeaters on Mount Mitchell. Although repeaters are infrastructure, many of them will continue to operate during a power failure. The 145.190 repeater has an amazing footprint and can be used with just a hand held radio at distances of over 100 miles away. The UHF repeater has a similar wide footprint and can also be worked with low power at great distance. Since 1996 I can't remember a time when the Mitchell repeaters were down due to power failures. if you are in the Charlotte area, the 145.350 repeater gets good coverage. I have used it while mobile as far away as MM70 on I-40 and all the way down into SC and going up 77 towards VA. That may be an option as well. If you are in the flat lands, look for a repeater that is co-located with public safety communications gear or broadcast transmitters. Usually those repeaters will share the backup power source that the public safety and broadcast transmitters are using and will be able to operate for a while after a power failure. A pair of used 2 meter radios and antennas can be had from most hamfests within your budget. You may even be able to get new equipment after rebates and other promotions and be under budget.

Another alternative to Amateur Radio is GMRS. No testing is required, the $80 license covers you and your family for 5 years and allows you to use a repeater. The disadvantages of GMRS are that equipment is more expensive for high powered mobile equipment and you will have to either locate an "open" repeater, join a repeater club or otherwise get access to a repeater that provides coverage that you need or you will have to buy a repeater and have it installed at a repeater site that you will most likely have to lease. A repeater will exceed your budget by at least 10x.

Without having a lot more information about your location and situation there is no realistic solution to your situation and in all reality you simply won't be getting a firm and reliable solution that offers a 100 mile range under any and all conditions.
 

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I and a group of my ham friends have been using these ~$100 dual band HT's for quite some time and we're impressed. I'd have no qualms about using one of many local repeaters with emergency backup. I even know of one in Central NC that is located in a NCSHP VIPER repeater site and is connected to their backup power.

I know the first vendor is NC-based, and I think the second is as well. The DBJRE guys are at most hamfests. There's one coming up in Shelby (the big one) in early September...

http://www.dbjre.com/

http://wouxun.us/
 
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