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pm666
11-11-2012, 14:16
In light of Sandy, Katrina, etc. I would like to have some sort of mobille communication units available between my and my sister who live about 10 miles away. Obvioulsy, with the expection that POTS, cellular, etc. is down/compromised, etc.

I'm not (nor would my sister) interested in getting a HAM license or anything like that. Also, I don't want to make a career or hobby out of this. I've done some internet research but I really haven't been able to determine where I need to start and at what point my search would end. I've come across D-star (whatever that is), satellite phones (seem expensive), etc.

If the units had greater range and can do more things that would be great, but not to the point where I need a license/pass tests, or anyhing like that.

Hopefully, someone can point me in the right direction and I'll research from there.
Thanks,
p

cgwahl
11-11-2012, 14:30
I think most walkie talkies give about a 20 to 40 mile range. Obviously that is under perfect conditions, but you might be fine with a cheap set of ~$30 Motorola walkie talkies.

Bruce M
11-11-2012, 14:46
My limted experience suggests that even ten miles can be a bit of stretch for walkie talkies with no infrastructure. If by chance you lived on top of a hill and she lived on top of a hill and there was nothing between you and her and it was a fairly rural area with few buildings and little vegetation to soak up the signal and little other radio spectrum in use in the area maybe. Otherwise I would be reluctant to bet on anything reliable at ten miles. If you were willing to go with a mobile/base station type radio with an external antenna of sufficient height, then it probably would be more likely.

davew83
11-11-2012, 14:56
Get your amateur radio license (ham radio).

pm666
11-11-2012, 14:58
OK, let's ditch the walkie-talkie idea.
I'm looking for something more robust/professional/reliable anyway.
What else is out there?

Adjuster
11-11-2012, 15:02
Old used CB's can be had very cheap. Heck new ones are very cheap. Magnetic mount antenna. Very easy to set something up in the house or you can just hook it up in the car when needed.

Get yourself some of the small portable walkie talkies and try them out. If they cant handle the distance take them back to the store. I have a set of cheapies that work great between two cars when traveling down the highway.


/

Adjuster
11-11-2012, 15:03
OK, let's ditch the walkie-talkie idea.
I'm looking for something more robust/professional/reliable anyway.
What else is out there?



CB all the way then. Either car, handheld portable or base station.


/

janice6
11-11-2012, 15:04
For a 10 reliabie mile range, , you will need about 50 Watts if you are using VHF or UHF.

blackjack
11-11-2012, 15:07
I'm not (nor would my sister) interested in getting a HAM license or anything like that. Also, I don't want to make a career or hobby out of this. I've done some internet research but I really haven't been able to determine where I need to start and at what point my search would end. I've come across D-star (whatever that is), satellite phones (seem expensive), etc.

If the units had greater range and can do more things that would be great, but not to the point where I need a license/pass tests, or anyhing like that.



Those two paragraphs essentially eliminate anything besides CB radio and it's not that reliable over your required range without fixed, directional antennas. By the way, D-Star is a digital technology in use on Icom ham equipment.

BruceM gives an excellent summary of limiting factors and cgwahl's range estimate for 5 watts from a handheld radio is wildly inaccurate.

Adjuster
11-11-2012, 15:09
Look at these. Just ran across them while searching for CB radios.


Amazon.com: Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair) (Black/Silver): Car Electronics@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519b8SUhXBL.@@AMEPARAM@@519b8SUhXBL



/

janice6
11-11-2012, 15:12
If you believe the advertising claim of 36 miles, no one can help you.

Adjuster
11-11-2012, 15:14
If you believe the advertising claim of 36 miles, no one can help you.


I am hoping the 36 mile claim will at least get him the 10 miles he is looking for. My cheap set will do about 5 miles and thats in town with obstructions.


/

RonS
11-11-2012, 15:15
Up to 36 miles?! More like up to 3.6 miles. Maybe if you both climb TV towers. If those are like my Motorola GMRS/FRS radios you will be lucky to get 2 standing on flat ground.

Adjuster
11-11-2012, 15:18
Just pulled mine out of storage. They are Midlands. Forgot about them since I have been in my new place. Will give them another go when they get charged up.


/

janice6
11-11-2012, 15:20
I am hoping the 36 mile claim will at least get him the 10 miles he is looking for. My cheap set will do about 5 miles and thats in town with obstructions.


/


I have been a ham for 60 years and a Physics engineer for 50 years. I worked 25 miles from my home and maintained constant communications.

My home ran 100 Watts from a GE Master II Base station (commercial) to 2 10 element Yagis and the car rand 160 Watts with a 5/8's whip. I had a 115 Amp alternator to run things.


You will need 50 Watts on UHF or VHF, and you will have problems with CB because of skip, weather and interference.

Check the radio amateur sites for frequencies, propagation and power, versus distance. They have information.


I have two sets of the type of walkie-talkies you are showing. I use them for 1 mile communications while boating.



I ADDED:

I am not trying to be pissy. But this conversation comes up as often as what is the "best" caliber.

I give you the truth. I'm out.

Breadman03
11-11-2012, 15:41
Here in NEPA, my new $60 Cobra walker-talkies won't reach across town. They only make it about 4-5 blocks. They barely reach 1 mile with a clear line of sight in Delaware.

pm666
11-11-2012, 15:48
Would satellite phone work? I don't know how much they are.

After that, I guess all that's left is HAM and I don't even know if hand-held HAM radios are powerful enough.

Hard to believe that in this day and age something like this isn't available.

ysr_racer
11-11-2012, 15:52
Not sure what the range is on these, but they're cheap

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_1kzt2gs_baw/TKtmPQoiHJI/AAAAAAAAAIA/pkyvBuf-EQo/s1600/paper-cup-phone.jpg

HollowHead
11-11-2012, 16:00
I bought some old 2 meter stuff at an estate sale that works perfectly. I don't use it as I have no license but keep it in working condition simply because if I ever do need it, the fact that I'm unlicensed will probably be both my and the FCC's least concern. HH

gjk5
11-11-2012, 16:03
the GMRS WILL NOT reach the advertised distance. You will not get 10 miles out of them unless conditions are PERFECT. I use mine in the mountains all the time and can sometimes get almost that far ridge to ridge.

We use handheld and a base station at the ranch for long distance and it will go LONG with the relays.

RonS
11-11-2012, 16:06
For that range and minimal license hassle you need two GMRS base units with some kind of external antenna. Walkie Talkies are 0.5-5 watts, base units with a 5 year license can be up to 50 watts. I would not hesitate to use a handheld GMRS radio in an emergency but not a base unit, they may ignore someone transmitting at 1 watt, but 50 might get you a visit from some guys in a black van with antennas on top.

I'd pick up a pair of FRS/GMRS walkie talkies, two base units and antennas.

Good discussion by radio buffs. I wouldn't ask them about Glocks, I wouldn't ask here about serious radios, YKWIM?
http://www.worldwidedx.com/murs-frs-gmrs/23110-gmrs-base-station.html

More
http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/twoway-radios.html

BTW, thanks for asking, I have refreshed my knowledge of FRS, learned some new stuff and had fun doing it.

cgwahl
11-11-2012, 18:06
BruceM gives an excellent summary of limiting factors and cgwahl's range estimate for 5 watts from a handheld radio is wildly inaccurate.


I'm just going by what the specs say. I also realize however that that is assuming everything is right (which is never the case), so the real number is most understandably a lot less.

I've never had a reason nor tried one of these things beyond maybe a mile since I mostly just use walkie talkies in casinos or museums or something since cell phones rarely get a good signal.

pm666
11-11-2012, 18:25
For that range and minimal license hassle you need two GMRS base units with some kind of external antenna. Walkie Talkies are 0.5-5 watts, base units with a 5 year license can be up to 50 watts. I would not hesitate to use a handheld GMRS radio in an emergency but not a base unit, they may ignore someone transmitting at 1 watt, but 50 might get you a visit from some guys in a black van with antennas on top.

I'd pick up a pair of FRS/GMRS walkie talkies, two base units and antennas.

Good discussion by radio buffs. I wouldn't ask them about Glocks, I wouldn't ask here about serious radios, YKWIM?
http://www.worldwidedx.com/murs-frs-gmrs/23110-gmrs-base-station.html

More
http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/twoway-radios.html

BTW, thanks for asking, I have refreshed my knowledge of FRS, learned some new stuff and had fun doing it.

Thanks to you and all for the info. I've found that GlockTalk has always been a great starting no matter what the post is about and many times I've gotten a good enough answer to accomplish whatever I askd about.
Like the one poster mentioned, when I need this method, the last thing I'll care about will be the FCC and they probably won't care about me.
I was interested in hand-helds powered by battery in case the power was out.
The website you provided is great! I'll probably post there once I gain slightly more knowledge or at least ask a more intelligent question.
Thanks again!
Paul

RonS
11-11-2012, 18:46
Good luck in your search.

malleable
11-11-2012, 18:47
tagged for future purchase and sorry we lost janice6, he appears to be very knowledgeable & able to dumb it down for a lay audience. I am researching this and appreciate your contributions.

VC-Racing
11-11-2012, 18:52
CB radio properly set up can do what you want. My current setup is a Galaxy 99v with a Wilson 5000 mag mount . On a good day on a side channel ( no chatter) I can talk 10 -15 miles, early in the morning before the sun comes up, I've talked 25 .

F14Scott
11-11-2012, 18:56
Curvature of the earth means a handheld at 6 feet off the ground will make it about 2.86 nautical miles before hitting the dirt. If your sister's handheld is also 6 feet off the ground, you have a theoretical max range of 5.72 NM, not including any atmospheric or reflection stuff.

The equation is 1.17 x sqrt( height in feet) = NM to the horizon

kenpoprofessor
11-11-2012, 19:08
http://www.ebay.com/itm/251085884893?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

Have a great gun carryin' Kenpo day

Clyde

icantpick
11-11-2012, 20:08
Unfortunately, you're not going to find any unlicensed hand-held that can do this. Hand-helds work by using very high frequency waves (literally) propagating in a straight line to the receiver. Because the frequency is so high, the antennas can be conveniently sized (large wavelength means large antenna), and line-of-sight propagation attenuates the signal very little, allowing low power.
As F14 said, you're simply too far to use line-of-sight propagation, this leaves only four possible paths.

-Ground Wave
Use low frequency so that the signal bends around the curvature of the earth to the receiver. This requires low frequencies and high power. FRS is way too high frequency for this. CB might be low enough frequency for the job, but you'll never get enough power.

-Sky Wave
Bounce the signal off the ionosphere. Similar requirements as above, though frequency can be higher. CBs definitely fall in this frequency range; but, again, you just don't have enough power.

-Troposcatter
Bounce the signal off the turbulence at the top of the troposphere. This is the only way a FRS frequency could propagate to your sister, but the power requirements are on the order of kilowatts.

-Repeater
Use another radio which has line-of-sight to both of you. This is the principle behind cell towers, which (as you know) are not disaster resistant. The only reliable repeater system would be a satellite phone. These are compact and reliable. But extremely expensive: you'll need to pay for a plane even if you don't use it.

Fundamentally, no hand-held will give you enough power to overcome non-line-of-sight losses. You'll either need a sat-phone or somesort of base station.
If you go the base station route, I'd suggest looking for a high power CB. This will close the gap under most circumstances, though you'll be at the mercy of the weather (space and terrestrial).

Bushflyr
11-11-2012, 20:38
Fundamentally, no hand-held will give you enough power to overcome non-line-of-sight losses.

Quoted to pick it out from the rest of a very good post.

Both VHF and UHF are strictly line of sight. You need repeaters if you want to get any distance out of them. For that you need a skillz and a license.

FPS
11-11-2012, 20:41
Sat Phone. I love mine.

.

Aux Bear
11-11-2012, 20:54
Both of you need to get Amature radio licenses. Good base radios, TALL antenna towers, beam antennas and enjoy. (ps: HAM radios are lic. by the Feds, however we are self policing. We frequently triangulate illegal transmitters/operators and we report them. It's a great hobby and is awesome for emergencies. During the Katrina event Amature Operators volunteered over 2.5 million hours of free air communication time to the residents in and around LA to the rest of the country. Can't do that with walkie talkies. If it could be done, everyone would be doing it.

larry_minn
11-11-2012, 21:46
Check out local business band retailer. Or online auctions. I often see radios, chargers, base stations.... from businesses. One place had 4 handhelds with belt holsters/charger in each lot. IIRC over 30 and 3 base staions, extra battery packs(some new) and extra chargers (one that IIRC held 8 units at once)
You could go and inspect/test and they went cheap. It was over 90 miles from me so I didn't go.

janice6
11-11-2012, 22:07
tagged for future purchase and sorry we lost janice6, he appears to be very knowledgeable & able to dumb it down for a lay audience. I am researching this and appreciate your contributions.


I apologize if I sounded opinionated, but, I am. My whole life has been in communications: RF, Digital, fiber optic and free space laser, for Tactical Military applications.

I do try to be honest and truthful about the possibilities and capabilities of communications to whoever asks. You can do with the information what you will.

However, like your experience in guns and ammunition, there are many variables. You mentioned reliable communications. That is very expensive.

If you will tolerate some chance in your communications, you can go to 20/25 Watts but the choice of frequency simply gets very critical as the power decreases.

The devil is in the details, and the trade off is cost. Terrain is a serious consideration for frequency also.

Don't know if you are aware of this, but licensed Ham operates can IN AN EMERGENCY, operate various frequencies and networks that are not allowed under normal conditions.

Ham gear is for sale cheap used and works very well, and can be procured in very high power if desired.. it is technically far superior to other hobby radio equipment. Ham licenses are almost free and the requirements for the license have been reduced to a memorized few question test, with no code requirement. Not like the old days.

rednoved
11-11-2012, 23:16
I used my Motorola Talkabouts between a couple of cars on a road trip recently. They have a "35" mile range, and we got about 2 miles if we were lucky.

Bruce M
11-12-2012, 06:59
You are really going to need some sort of fixed elevated antenna to do what you want to do. Any time you have an outdoor antenna you have the potential to quickly turn the antenna into a lightning rod.

mac66
11-12-2012, 08:02
I got a ham license specifically for emergency communications use. Have had one for about 5 years now and this is what I've learned. I also have GMRS license and use that for the non hams in my family.

The FRS/GMRS bubblepack radios are toy radios. No matter what they claim there are only good for short distances, usually within a mile at best.

CB radios are unlicensed and do have a much longer range. The last time I listened to it it was still full of idiots.

Commercial GMRS UHF radios are available and can use repeaters. You technically need a license but there is no test and there is little to no enforcement. The license covers everyone in you immediate family. There is likely a repeater system in use in your area. Good quality used equipment is available inexpensively. Both handheld, base station and mobiles may be used. You could even set up your own repeater.

Ham radios freqs are in both UHF and VHF bands and are the most versatile. You can get a Tech license cheap but everybody who uses it has to take a test to get it.

My suggestion would be to maybe try CB first and see what happens.

kirgi08
11-12-2012, 09:54
Would satellite phone work? I don't know how much they are.

:faint: Beyond that,I'd rather trust a rig I own as ta sats I don't.

After that, I guess all that's left is HAM and I don't even know if hand-held HAM radios are powerful enough.

Ham is the way ta go,HH Hams are strong and depending on the network may suprise you.


Hard to believe that in this day and age something like this isn't available.

Ta most folks it is,Cell phones.They can not accept the fact that without towers there pretty much useless.If you want reliable comms set up a system/that you power.The RRL is a great concept.

Go ta Radio Reference .com.'08.

pm666
11-12-2012, 18:10
What is RRL?

kirgi08
11-13-2012, 08:59
Radio Relay League.'08.

itatorro
01-21-2013, 16:03
In an emergency or is legal to transmit without a lic. 50watt vhf/2meter is what you want. Mobile to moble with good antenna 10 miles should be doable 24-7

Check out MURS service 150mhz. Lic free. Ham radios r capable of this but legally limited to 5 watt. in EMCOMM situation this would nt apply. Oh and FCC type excepted radio in this service
Technically



Regards

Ps- ham lic is easy


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G29Reload
01-21-2013, 16:47
For a 10 reliabie mile range, , you will need about 50 Watts if you are using VHF or UHF.

Incorrect.

Range has more to do with terrain and obstructions than it does with wattage.

There are times when 5 watts will cover 40 miles and other locarions where 50 + wont make it.

The op should be aware that there is an opening level ham license that can be had with minimal effort. When i obtained mine prior to upgrading, i was able to use a nearby mountaintop repeater with a 60+ mile radius. I could hit that repeater from 5 miles away line of sight with a walkie talkie on a 1 watt setting and talk with someone 60 miles distant able to hit the repeater from their location.. it was 2m fm/vhf so sound quality was very clear.

Gallium
01-21-2013, 17:23
Incorrect.

Range has more to do with terrain and obstructions than it does with wattage.

There are times when 5 watts will cover 40 miles and other locarions where 50 + wont make it.

The op should be aware that there is an opening level ham license that can be had with minimal effort. When i obtained mine prior to upgrading, i was able to use a nearby mountaintop repeater with a 60+ mile radius. I could hit that repeater from 5 miles away line of sight with a walkie talkie on a 1 watt setting and talk with someone 60 miles distant able to hit the repeater from their location.. it was 2m fm/vhf so sound quality was very clear.

I am not going to argue this topic with a dude who says this:
I have been a ham for 60 years and a Physics engineer for 50 years. I worked 25 miles from my home and maintained constant communications.

and this:
My whole life has been in communications: RF, Digital, fiber optic and free space laser, for Tactical Military applications.

Especially since he is more right than you. The main issue here is reliability.

RWBlue
01-21-2013, 20:25
In light of Sandy, Katrina, etc. I would like to have some sort of mobille communication units available between my and my sister who live about 10 miles away. Obvioulsy, with the expection that POTS, cellular, etc. is down/compromised, etc.

I'm not (nor would my sister) interested in getting a HAM license or anything like that. Also, I don't want to make a career or hobby out of this. I've done some internet research but I really haven't been able to determine where I need to start and at what point my search would end. I've come across D-star (whatever that is), satellite phones (seem expensive), etc.

If the units had greater range and can do more things that would be great, but not to the point where I need a license/pass tests, or anyhing like that.

Hopefully, someone can point me in the right direction and I'll research from there.
Thanks,
p

What is in between you and your sister?
Hill?
Flat land?
Buildings?

Yes, it matters.

itatorro
01-21-2013, 21:35
I talked regularly with a fiend in NYC from Governors Island all the way up to the west side of laguardia airport. That was is a 12 mile line. With very large buildings in the way and his radio was 25watt on 1/4 wave antenna on his front fender. the signal was pretty scratchy I will admit. In this setting UHF may have been a better choice


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janice6
01-21-2013, 21:59
Incorrect.

Range has more to do with terrain and obstructions than it does with wattage.

There are times when 5 watts will cover 40 miles and other locations where 50 + wont make it.

The op should be aware that there is an opening level ham license that can be had with minimal effort. When i obtained mine prior to upgrading, i was able to use a nearby mountaintop repeater with a 60+ mile radius. I could hit that repeater from 5 miles away line of sight with a walkie talkie on a 1 watt setting and talk with someone 60 miles distant able to hit the repeater from their location.. it was 2m fm/vhf so sound quality was very clear.

just said that your repeater was on a mountain top. Where is this in the OP as a condition of available locations.

My information is for level ground over a RELIABLE day/night path Any time of year, between a residence and an automobile, and was developed over some time.

If you put one receiver 5,000 feet high then the other can be at ground level and you have "line-of-sight.

This is not everybody's situation.

I have used a 1 1/2 Watt Walkie Talkie over 60 miles but again, line of sight.

I was on a 700 foot bluff and the receiver antenna was at 1200 feet. My point is that this means nothing to the person that does not have a mountain top or county communications tower to work with.

You are claiming "exceptions to the rule".

Yes, there are exceptions, but he asked for reliable communications with a Walkie Talkie over 20 miles at ground level with a low base antenna height, > 100 feet..

Communications over a surface path requires RF Power to overcome path loss and scattering. More power than you are thinking. If you have it available look up the path loss for 20 miles at 2 Meters. You must exceed this plus 3 dB for FM "Threshold signal" requirement.

FM requires you to be above the noise level to be heard at all. It is a fundamental principle of FM theory.

You talk about using repeaters. Repeaters are supported by companies for private use, local Governments for official use and Ham repeaters supported by individuals or clubs. Many are closed systems .

I have traveled all over the USA on business with a walkie talkie, and found many places where newcomers are not welcome on their systems. You may have to have a paid membership for many of these, but they mostly use high commercial or local Government antenna locations, Water towers, Mountains, very high towers,or high rise/skyscrapers. You are using these facilities through the largess of the owners.

I have also been in an airplane at 50,000 feet and made the mistake of keying up a walkie talkie. So many repeaters fired up it was unusable. Height can be as much of a problem in some areas as no antenna height is in others.

You will not be able to count on any communications for your private use that is not totally under your control, in an emergency, you have no priority over "official communications" and you will be bumped off till the emergency is over.

if you work a coordinated effort with local Government communications, you can work for them, not for yourself on their network.

If you have to have reliable personal communications you will have to have personal equipment network designed (by you) to supply communications over the distance required specifically for your personal use..

My original statement for reliable communications stands. I also ran and maintained local Ham radio repeaters in my area, together with professional business communications technicians that were also Hams.

This kind of argument about "exceptions to the communications rules" and theory are why I usually do not get into these discussions. I have done communications network design and calculations for just this purpose and you cannot expect to violate the design rules and get dependable results.

If you will tolerate mediocre performance even it comes with a cost.

This is like the FMRS radios having a 36 mile range on the package that means absolutely nothing in practice.

itatorro
01-21-2013, 22:46
Wow let me clarify. I never mentioned repeater. We were alway simplex. 146.52. With your logic explain to me how I can talk to a repeater 40 mile (uhf) away and assume that the antenna is 300 ft and LOS for 300ft is aprx 24 miles. 300 foot antenna here in Oklahoma for a HAM Repeater is not real likely or would be very expensive.

All radio waves bend around the curvature of the earth to a certain extent. As freq goes up u come closer to true LOS. that is why the OK hwy patrol and state/co highway division still use VHFLOW (50mhz) (vhf still LOS!) a 100watt radio can talk 80 miles all day long

I would like to offer this. Physically do the experiment yourself, like i did, with two good performing mobiles and read the NEET manual module 10 if I remember correctly Thant stands for Navy Electronics Education Training Manual. Module 10 is Radio Wave Propagation.

Something they call Radio Horizon


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itatorro
01-21-2013, 22:55
Sorry bout that I thought the reply was quoting me any way my statement is solid and I stand by it. I too made Ana airline contact with my ht and later discovered that it was I excess of 200 mile altitude is your friend in radio

Damn smartphone app


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RDW
01-22-2013, 15:20
Look at these. Just ran across them while searching for CB radios.


Amazon.com: Midland GXT1000VP4 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radio (Pair) (Black/Silver): Car Electronics (http://www.amazon.com/Midland-GXT1000VP4-36-Mile-50-Channel-Two-Way/dp/B001WMFYH4/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1352671693&sr=8-19&keywords=cb+radio)



/

These are what I have. Just use them around the property. Over 3 miles in an urban environment is "IFY."

GunHo198
01-22-2013, 15:52
I and most off-road people still use CB radio. There are still many people out there that use them. The newer ones come with scan, and weather radio features. If you setup a good base station at the house with a good antenna, you can get really good range. I have a base station, one in my Jeep, and 2 handhelds for walking around outside the Jeep while off road.