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Thread: RE: Two way radios

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  1. #1
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    Default RE: Two way radios

    I figure there are at least two amateur radio folks here so I figure I might as well ask you folks this question . . . our ATV Club is looking at getting a couple of portable, hand-held two way radios for use on club rides for better communication . . . we've had a few instances where the leader didn't realize there was a problem in the back of the pack.

    I'm looking for suggestions for a decent, affordable solution. Some options considered.

    Marine Radios: Apparently a lot of hunters here in Maine use them and like them as they are water-proof (which is good for us ATVers as well) and they have 5 watts of power and do not require a FCC license. The bad news is that it appears as though many of these hunters and others are using these illegally since my reading indicates that marine radios are only supposed to be used on the water.

    Family Radio Service (FRS) Radios: No license required, but they only offer a 1/2 watt capability.

    General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS): Often paired with FRS, to use the GMRS side of the two way radio one is supposed to purchase a FCC license . . . although I kind of wonder if many folks actually do. It seems these radios range from 1-5 watts in power.

    Multi Use Radio Service (MURS): Supposedly this was supposed to be a good license free alternative for folks who wanted more power and transmitting distance than the GMRS without having to get a license. Most radios I've seen go up to 2 watts . . . but it seems as though finding one of these in a well known radio company is pretty rare.

    Citizen's Band Radio: Maybe it's just me, but as a kid I just remember this being very crowded with lots of heehaw hicks and the reception was pretty crappy . . . of course it could have also been the equipment. Handhelds seem to range up to 4 watts in power.

    ---

    So for what I need what would you suggest? I am leaning one way right now . . . but I am curious as to what you folks think might work.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

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  2. #2
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    Kevin and I are both Ham Radio operators. Personally I would go with the FRS...they are inexpensive and allow the use of severall "channels" in case someone happens to be on one of them. but if you have a long line of ATV's I would probably opt for 3 or 4 radios throughout the pack so that messages could be relayed to the end of the line. thats my 2 cents worth but i am sure others will have other opinions.
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  3. #3
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    You mention several good points so it's obvious you've done some research. We've used both FRS radios and amateur band radios while hunting. Pam and I are both licensed amateur radio operators and own both types of handhelds. The FRS limitation of low wattage does become an issue in a line of sight communication system but the same holds true for a higher wattage radio. Line of sight is exactly that, if the signal is blocked, the signal is blocked. The amateur radio handhelds have the advantage of being able to get out further because of repeaters on towers. The disadvantage is there is a required license. Used to be you had to know morse code to get a license, now there's no requirement for that. The gear ranges from fairly inexpensive to incredibly expensive depending on what bands you want to operate on. Like Pam said, if you go the FRS route, have more than two to help relay messages if necessary. I'd avoid using the GMRS unless it's a bonafide emergency as the FCC can enforce the license requirements by way of ticketing you for violations.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustKev View Post
    Used to be you had to know morse code to get a license, now there's no requirement for that.
    Sheesh! Years ago I was really interested in amateur radio. I built my own transmitter, rebuilt an old ARC-5 military receiver, but never got a license because I couldn't learn the code! LOL!

    But I did remember 7 letters - EISH TMO - so when I took the radio code test when I entered the military,o
    Nw I'm addicted to the internet...

  5. #5
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    Maybe a crazy idea, but have you tried just calling the first guy with a cellphone? Plus you can track position of all members of your group on google map on your cellphone realtime. Unless you are ATVing in some third world country with no cellphone coverage :P
    Moo

  6. #6
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    Cano . . . While on the ATV we're generally moving . . . so it would have to be something that would be on all the time and relatively hands free . . . either with a voice activated mike or push to talk button located perhaps on the handlebar.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear."

    "Death is only one of many ways to die."

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighterjake View Post
    Cano . . . While on the ATV we're generally moving . . . so it would have to be something that would be on all the time and relatively hands free . . . either with a voice activated mike or push to talk button located perhaps on the handlebar.
    you can use bluetooth handsfree
    Moo

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cano View Post
    you can use bluetooth handsfree
    What about those, like us, who don't have and don't want a cellphone?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustKev View Post
    What about those, like us, who don't have and don't want a cellphone?
    *like button*
    Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustKev View Post
    What about those, like us, who don't have and don't want a cellphone?
    I would guess the phone coverage would be less than optimal out in the areas they travel that's why radios were the subject of the thread.

    Out in the open the FRS is good. I think this is what the motorcycle helmets use. We use these a lot on our investigations. They work real well in Fort Knox and as you know some of that is underground a little. Good range and clear.

    CB's always worked well. Even now I use a couple off and on.

    The best are the business band. You see the big stores using them all the time. I had one with me one time and could still talk to people in the store at Brewer Wal Mart when I was at Burger King. I don't think they are very expensive and with the digital coding you can keep interference out, but others would still be able to hear you if they were close enough.
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