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Old 05-24-2018, 09:28 AM   #1
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Walkie talkie, 2way radio, CBS recommendations

We normally take 2 vehicles whenever we travel, the truck with the 5th wheel and a minivan. We have always had walkie talkie type radios,(Midland and such) but you literally nearly need to be next to each other. I received 2 new Midland radio's yesterday that are rated at a range of 20+ miles. However, a little trial run on it proved to be good for about a 1/4 mile. Looked at some of the Midland hand held radios 75-822 and such but reviews all spoke poorly about range. Anyone have any thoughts or something they are using to communicate back and forth with a spouse in another vehicle (besides a cell phone)?
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Old 05-24-2018, 09:40 AM   #2
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The problem is going to be the fact they're handhelds, whether CB or FRS. If you want to get a good range, you're going to want to get something with an external antenna.

If you want really good range though, you could look into getting your HAM licenses (both you and the DW will need your own). With a set of HAMs, you can make use of some repeaters that are dotted around the country to boost your range. You can think of them kind of like cell towers. You broadcast to the tower, the tower rebroadcasts to a bigger range. Note though that they're not private, if that's a concern.
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:00 AM   #3
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Privacy not an issue. Just communication back and forth. Some times we get a pretty good gap between us. About 20 miles 2 years ago. Main thing is stopping for lunch, fuel, bathroom break, or route changes and such.
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:19 AM   #4
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20 Miles... well, I know you don't want to hear 'cell phone' but for that kind of gap, we use cell phones. FRS, you get 1/2-1 mile, CB, with a good truck mount and a mobile radio installed, maybe 5 max, if you've got good clear line of sight. Throw a few rolling hills in there, all bets are off.

Using HAM and repeater, you might be able to reach county wide, but only if there's a repeater available for you to use. And that range is centred on the repeater tower itself, it's not a moving range that moves with you, so as you go region to region you'd need to have an agreed upon set of frequencies to use ahead of time.

Your best bet is probably going to be CB (despite it being a dying art). Get yourself a couple of decent mobile radios. I.e. this kind of thing:


https://www.amazon.ca/Cobra-29LTD-40.../dp/B00006JPF3

and a couple of decent external antennas. Make sure your SWR is tuned, pick a channel and run with that. If you can't reach each other on the radio, then call with the cell phone (bluetooth, hands free, voice dialling preferred).
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:21 AM   #5
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Those radios (apostrophe withheld) have a range of a mile or two. The ratings you see is if you're out on the Bonneville salt flats with pristine conditions. Put so much as an ant hill between the line of sight of those radios and the range goes down. Use them in a real situation where there is likely to be some combination of buildings, power poles, trucks, trailers, trees, hills, and such ... you're getting a mile or 2.

This is true of all of these devices. Many have 20, 24, 26, and even 35 mile range ratings. It's all crap.

FRS is limited to a 0.5 W transmitting power. There's just not much you can do with that type of power, short of erecting a 20 foot high antenna tower.

GMRS requires an FCC license by law, but who knows if that's actually policed. Nearly all radios will be FRS/GMRS dual band radios. 1-7 are FRS, 8-14 are dual channel, and 15-22. GMRS allows up to 5 W of power. But, guess what 5 W does to a battery?! So, most of the radio manufacturers limit this to 1-2 W of transmitting power. Some list a 5W rating, but that is often a trick because it speaks to the draw from the battery for all operation and not necessarily the wattage of transmitting the signal.

So, again, with 0.5 W for the common FRS channels, extremely limited range. With the FCC licensed GMRS channels, you will have some more power, but you need to shop around and try to find maximized transmitting power. Nearly all will be about 2W on GMRS. Still very limited. Maybe you get out to 3 miles.

I use Cobra CXR925 that have 3.5W transmit and a 35 mile rating. I get 1-3 miles on a good day.

If you want longer ranges, you need VHF and larger radios.
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Old 05-24-2018, 10:27 AM   #6
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You won't get any range out of any hand held range out of any HT for a unlicensed radio. The only way to increase range on a HT is an external antenna but most low priced HT don't have a removable antenna.

As already mentioned the best way to get range is with a Ham radio. That requires a FCC license to use it. A Ham radio HT will get 3-4 miles range in simplex which is the mode you would use when traveling. A mobile model Ham radio with a good external antenna will give you 20 miles easily. If you use a repeater when using a HT your range can be 20-30 miles as the repeater transmitter may be 100 watts or more. But the problem when traveling is you can move out of repeater range and will need to change frequency often. Check out Ham radio is you are interested. You need to pass and exam to get a license, with some study it will be easy to obtain. Normal license fee is $15 and add the cost of a study manual for about $30. I am a volunteer license examiner in the Atlanta area. I got my license from the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) 26 years ago, check them out at www.w8bi.org , contact them and they can help you out. You will have a lot of fun with Ham radio. You can also get information at www.arrl.org they just had the worlds largest gathering of Ham radio enthusiasts in Xenia, Oh last weekend.
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:04 AM   #7
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Down at our lake, our group uses Midland MXT105 GRMS radios in our side-by-sides. 5 watts of FM. Crystal clear, and no annoying "Breaker Breaker Good Buddy" crap.



They are about $100, but I found 4 on clearance at walmart for $50, so I bought them all. They are incredibility small, about the size of a deck of cards, and can be installed quickly, or simply plugged in and tossed on top of the dash.



They have both GMRS frequencies and FRS. You need a license for GMRS but they are cheap and you simply mail in a card with the money. No tests. Best part is they talk to almost all those little FRS and GMRS radios walkie-talkies, like the ones you have. They put out a full 5 watts on GMRS channels. I can cover practically the whole lake from my lots. and thats about a 2-3 miles of real world radius (with hills, trees, houses, and other obstructions). I bet on a flat, level highway, 7-10 miles would not be out of the question.



Tim
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Old 05-24-2018, 11:08 AM   #8
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Thanks for all of the replies. Yes on the 20 mile gap. Some interesting things to check into.
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Old 05-25-2018, 11:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cowracer View Post
Down at our lake, our group uses Midland MXT105 GRMS radios in our side-by-sides. 5 watts of FM. Crystal clear, and no annoying "Breaker Breaker Good Buddy" crap.



They are about $100, but I found 4 on clearance at walmart for $50, so I bought them all. They are incredibility small, about the size of a deck of cards, and can be installed quickly, or simply plugged in and tossed on top of the dash.



They have both GMRS frequencies and FRS. You need a license for GMRS but they are cheap and you simply mail in a card with the money. No tests. Best part is they talk to almost all those little FRS and GMRS radios walkie-talkies, like the ones you have. They put out a full 5 watts on GMRS channels. I can cover practically the whole lake from my lots. and thats about a 2-3 miles of real world radius (with hills, trees, houses, and other obstructions). I bet on a flat, level highway, 7-10 miles would not be out of the question.



Tim
Tim, is this it in the picture? 2 - 3 miles or more on the highway would be great.
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Old 05-25-2018, 12:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OKI Marine View Post
Tim, is this it in the picture? 2 - 3 miles or more on the highway would be great.

Yep. comes with the magnet mount antenna and everything. When I say it's small, I aint kidding...





TIm
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