need something for backup commo with wife

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need something for backup commo with wife

Post by thosah » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:50 pm

hey all... i'm rather inexperienced with the radios. i can't tell the difference between VHF and UHF... but i know some basic stuff that CB is citizen band and it's different than the little multi-channel two way handhelds. my dad got me some midland handhelds last year for christmas. i'm a little concerned though they might not have enough range. i know they say 20 miles but of course you never get what they advertise. i'm sure that means with clear line of site on a flat desert. well, i don't live in a desert.

what i'm wanting to know is, is there a good brand and model radio that will reach a few miles to the nearby school where my wife works as a teacher? in case cell towers go out or whatever i'd like something she can put in her purse, even if she has to take the antenna off or fold it over, so she can still contact me for help or a ride home or whatever. would a CB have enough range? google says it's 3.1 miles from my house. it would need to go around trees and buildings until it reaches possibly an open window in her classroom.

can i get some recommendations without getting into complicated radio jargon? i just need something that works.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by NoAm » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:07 pm

This is something Mr. NoAm & I pondered over for quite awhile.
We finally decided just to bite the bullet and get our HAM licenses.
We are in the market for the handheld radios now (they have gotten down to around $100 each). You do have to be a licensed ham with these though. We still felt this was the best option for us.
If you don't have access to a HAM class, you can always get one of the studyguides and work with http://www.QEZ.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; to take practice tests. Most areas offer HAM testing once a month, at a local VFD or nearby community center.

This should open a world of possibilities up for you.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:37 pm

My wife has zero desire to futz around with amateur, so thats pretty much out of the question for us.

One other possibility is the newish MURS Citizens Band radios.

solid VHF band comms, no license required.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by Bonecrusher Doc » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:57 pm

I'm in the same boat - the wife will only be on board if I make it REALLY simple. So I hope this is seen as contributing to, rather than hijacking this thread:

I saw these:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/PUXING-PX-D03-V ... 3a69755877" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I figure it would be ideal because it's one combined piece of hardware with the EDC cell phone. If I have a separate piece of hardware for the backup system, I guarantee the wife will leave it at home on the day it's needed.

QUESTION 1: Is there any training or certification required, legally or practically, to operate one of these?
QUESTION 2: What kind of range can I expect with this? Wondering if we can communicate from home address to work address...
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by 44Dave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:58 pm

I think I'd look at GMRS over MURS. A license is required, but that seems to be more of a fee than any kind of "knowledge required" license, and the one license will cover your entire immediate family. So you can get the license and then hand the radio to your wife with no effort on her part.
The reason I say GMRS over MURS is that the MURS is limited to 2 watts and I think a fixed antenna. GMRS can have up to 50 watts, and external antennas, even a repeater network if your lucky enough to live near one. This should all translate to longer ranges.
Someone can correct me if I'm erroneous.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:59 pm

THe best way to know how far they'll go is to test them. I've had radios with an advertised range of 10k that wouldn't go 500m, and radios that should have gone 10k that shot 25k to a very surprised radio man on the other side.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by 44Dave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 5:00 pm

Bonecrusher Doc wrote:I'm in the same boat - the wife will only be on board if I make it REALLY simple. So I hope this is seen as contributing to, rather than hijacking this thread:

I saw these:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/PUXING-PX-D03-V ... 3a69755877" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I figure it would be ideal because it's one combined piece of hardware with the EDC cell phone. If I have a separate piece of hardware for the backup system, I guarantee the wife will leave it at home on the day it's needed.

QUESTION 1: Is there any training or certification required, legally or practically, to operate one of these?
QUESTION 2: What kind of range can I expect with this? Wondering if we can communicate from home address to work address...
It looks like those are in the amateur band to me, so testable license required. That's a really bad description though so I may be mistaken.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:51 pm

44Dave wrote:I think I'd look at GMRS over MURS. A license is required, but that seems to be more of a fee than any kind of "knowledge required" license, and the one license will cover your entire immediate family. So you can get the license and then hand the radio to your wife with no effort on her part.
The reason I say GMRS over MURS is that the MURS is limited to 2 watts and I think a fixed antenna. GMRS can have up to 50 watts, and external antennas, even a repeater network if your lucky enough to live near one. This should all translate to longer ranges.
Someone can correct me if I'm erroneous.

You're mostly right. MURS is 2 watts and no repeaters, but you can use external antennas.

2 watts of VHF does MUCH better outside than 5 watts of UHF, in my experience.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:54 pm

44Dave wrote:
Bonecrusher Doc wrote:I'm in the same boat - the wife will only be on board if I make it REALLY simple. So I hope this is seen as contributing to, rather than hijacking this thread:

I saw these:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/PUXING-PX-D03-V ... 3a69755877" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I figure it would be ideal because it's one combined piece of hardware with the EDC cell phone. If I have a separate piece of hardware for the backup system, I guarantee the wife will leave it at home on the day it's needed.

QUESTION 1: Is there any training or certification required, legally or practically, to operate one of these?
QUESTION 2: What kind of range can I expect with this? Wondering if we can communicate from home address to work address...
It looks like those are in the amateur band to me, so testable license required. That's a really bad description though so I may be mistaken.

Well, you need an amateur license if you want to transmit on amateur bands.

I just bought a Wouxun UVD-1P radio today because it has the capability to run 2m/70cm on the ham bands, plus MURS, plus GMRS. It's also got FCC certs for import and sale now, WVTWOUXUN04 is its FCC ID.

I will refrain from discussing that radio on the forums until I figure out whether I'm technically allowed to operate it on MURS or GMRS, but I know theres no technical reason not to.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by 44Dave » Sun Jan 01, 2012 6:55 pm

Eh, they're both line of site. I don't have a lot of ground clutter around here though so YMMV. The antenna is the most important part so if MURS can do that it gets more equal.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:00 pm

Well, they're both line of sight in the sense that you wont get any skip from them, but VHF does bend around terrain features better than UHF.


That said, UHF does better inside buildings and through foliage.


/THAT/ said, I get better results outside with a 2m HT than with GMRS radios.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:05 pm

The thing I like about GMRS and MURS vs ham radio is that the channelization makes things very simple for non-technical end users who just want a reliable tool, vs someone whos in it as a button-pressing and knob-turning technical hobby.


"Go to GMRS 5" is much easier than "Lets switch to 145.43, + offset, and use a 100Hz PL tone"

I think that perhaps what the OP wants for his non-interested spouse is a radio that can be locked down into memory mode (or better yet one with just channelization knobs) to take the headache out of the user experience.

I say this as someone who has a wife who has been carrying a public service radio for over a decade, and who is proficient at using it as well as the simpler GMRS radios without the menu overload, but utterly hates the idea of using ham radios.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by gary in ohio » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:56 pm

crypto wrote:The thing I like about GMRS and MURS vs ham radio is that the channelization makes things very simple for non-technical end users who just want a reliable tool, vs someone whos in it as a button-pressing and knob-turning technical hobby.
Neither GMRS or MURS has channels. There is nothing that requires a manufacture to make channel 1 the same on all radio. In fact a QUALITY GMRS radio will not have any channels programmed until you tell the dealer (or do it yourself) what channels you want where. Now many of the cheap bubble pack radios do follow some standards but not all. I have several of them that done line up correctly.

As for telling someon to go to GMRS 5 vs 145.43, + offset, and use a 100Hz PL tone... Program you radios the same an you can say go to channel 5 on the ham radio... No need to give freq/pl. unless I am traveling out of my area I seldom need to program a channel or pl, just switch channels to a pre-programed ham channel.


.[/quote]

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by thosah » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:49 am

thank you all very much for the feedback. from the looks of it i think that HAM will probably be out of the question. there's too much of a learning curve. even though i've heard people have talked to others around the world using HAM before, the requirement to have a license and the technical know-how is too problematic for us. i find it a little hard to believe though that in the world of radio there seems to be either super long distance with HAM or relatively short distance hand-helds but not much in between. or you have to be linked to some huge repeater network or something. i remember when i was a kid my dad got me a set of hand helds, but they were huge by today's standards. the neat thing about them is that they had huge like, 3 foot telescoping antennas and took like 9 AA batteries to operate. but we would pick up random people from across the county at times. is there anything on today's market that is similar only more modernized?

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by williaty » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:12 am

crypto wrote:My wife has zero desire to futz around with amateur, so thats pretty much out of the question for us.
I think you and your wife are both over-estimating the difficulty of getting basic ham licenses and gear. My wife feels like your wife. Yet after a single evening reading KB6NU's study guide just once, she went and passed her test without missing a question. The Tech exam is stupid simple.

crypto wrote:2 watts of VHF does MUCH better outside than 5 watts of UHF, in my experience.
This is either completely wrong or at least needs massive qualifications and provisos to the statement. It is at least 95% likely that you got better results with the 2W VHF radio setup simply because they were better gear. The relative knock-down in signal intensity between VHF and UHF is not going to the be the >3dB that it would take to overcome the power difference between the radios.

crypto wrote:The thing I like about GMRS and MURS vs ham radio is that the channelization makes things very simple for non-technical end users who just want a reliable tool, vs someone whos in it as a button-pressing and knob-turning technical hobby.


"Go to GMRS 5" is much easier than "Lets switch to 145.43, + offset, and use a 100Hz PL tone"
First, "GMRS 5" doesn't mean anything. There's a semi-agreed-upon general guideline that there's a channel numbered 5 and it probably has a 462.650MHz frequency, but that's not guaranteed. Additionally, you absolutely DO have to worry about things like frequency, offset, and PL when programming a GMRS radio!

The reality of the situation is that any small, compact radio, GMRS or ham, is going to need pre-programmed with all the frequency and setting combos you're likely to need. All you're going to do once in the field is pick which memory to recall. Which, by the way, are numbered. So you can still say "Channel 4" and that means whatever you've programmed you and your wife's radio to mean.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:19 am

having used the best Harris offers in UHF and VHF, VHF is better watt per watt. Long-wave is generally better about terrain that short wave, which is why the military designates UHF as LOS (line of sight only) regardless of wattage.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by williaty » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:19 am

thosah wrote:thank you all very much for the feedback. from the looks of it i think that HAM will probably be out of the question. there's too much of a learning curve.
It really isn't that bad. The test is quite easy to pass with just a little reading. For the Technician Class license (the basic one to use VHF and UHF), there's almost no technical stuff at all. The only really not-everyday thing I can think of that's in it is the stuff on Ohm's Law, which you memorize once and then the math to use it is literally 3rd-Grade arithmetic.
i find it a little hard to believe though that in the world of radio there seems to be either super long distance with HAM or relatively short distance hand-helds but not much in between.
Actually, this makes a LOT of sense if you think about it as a social problem, not a technological one. The problem with over-the-horizon radio communications is that, if you're either a jerk and doing it wrong, or just untrained and doing it wrong, you can cause BIG problems for a lot of people using the radio for legitimate purposes ranging from just chatting (hams) to emergency dispatch (Fire, Police, EMS). So, basically, before they let you have toys that you can potentially disrupt, say, most of North America with (yes, really), they make sure you know what you're supposed to do to stay out of trouble (that's what the exam is for).

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 am

gary in ohio wrote:[
Neither GMRS or MURS has channels. There is nothing that requires a manufacture to make channel 1 the same on all radio. In fact a QUALITY GMRS radio will not have any channels programmed until you tell the dealer (or do it yourself) what channels you want where. Now many of the cheap bubble pack radios do follow some standards but not all. I have several of them that done line up correctly.

As for telling someon to go to GMRS 5 vs 145.43, + offset, and use a 100Hz PL tone... Program you radios the same an you can say go to channel 5 on the ham radio... No need to give freq/pl. unless I am traveling out of my area I seldom need to program a channel or pl, just switch channels to a pre-programed ham channel.

I dunno about that. All the blister-pack radios Ive seen channelize the same way, just like CB channelizes the same way. Midland makes extra fake channels by reusing the different frequencies with PL tones hardcoded into the selection, but thats the exception.


Icom does channelization their own way, for reasons I dont understand. Its kind of silly.


Lets face it, no one uses a $200 business-class UHF radio that requires programming just to talk to their family on a hiking trip, except radio nerds.

People who use radios casually WANT lightweight and cheap radios that use replaceable batteries and come in pairs. They dont want a 2lb commercial brick with a knob on top.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:29 am

williaty wrote:
crypto wrote:My wife has zero desire to futz around with amateur, so thats pretty much out of the question for us.
I think you and your wife are both over-estimating the difficulty of getting basic ham licenses and gear. My wife feels like your wife. Yet after a single evening reading KB6NU's study guide just once, she went and passed her test without missing a question. The Tech exam is stupid simple.
I've had my ticket for 5 years. I know what goes into it. My wife sees me and my ham friends nerding out and fucking around with everyone trying to hit a repeater on local nets and wants no part of it. To her its unreliable nerdery. Once she saw the electrical and RF theory questions on the test pool she laughed. Shes got no desire to make radio a hobby, and no desire to waste time learning things she has no practical use for.
crypto wrote:2 watts of VHF does MUCH better outside than 5 watts of UHF, in my experience.
This is either completely wrong or at least needs massive qualifications and provisos to the statement. It is at least 95% likely that you got better results with the 2W VHF radio setup simply because they were better gear. The relative knock-down in signal intensity between VHF and UHF is not going to the be the >3dB that it would take to overcome the power difference between the radios.
No, its not wrong. Longer waves work better over terrain features, watt for watt. 6m works better than 2m works better than 70cm. Ive seen this time and time again, sometimes on the same damn radio.

But, regardless, we're talking normal retail GMRS gear, not an Icom business class UHF radio that you spent $200 on and then paid to have programmed with GMRS bands.
crypto wrote:The thing I like about GMRS and MURS vs ham radio is that the channelization makes things very simple for non-technical end users who just want a reliable tool, vs someone whos in it as a button-pressing and knob-turning technical hobby.


"Go to GMRS 5" is much easier than "Lets switch to 145.43, + offset, and use a 100Hz PL tone"
First, "GMRS 5" doesn't mean anything. There's a semi-agreed-upon general guideline that there's a channel numbered 5 and it probably has a 462.650MHz frequency, but that's not guaranteed. Additionally, you absolutely DO have to worry about things like frequency, offset, and PL when programming a GMRS radio!
There 5 MURS frequencies. The agreed-upon guidelines are, just like GMRS, followed by everyone who wants their radios to work together (which, if its anything like GMRS, is 'everyone except icom')
No one runs GMRS repeaters around here. Ive never seen a GMRS repeater listed in any local repeater listings. I just checked again and the nearest one is a 4 hour drive. So, no, I dont need to worry about offsets and splits. GMRS is a point-to-point technology, specially if you use any blister-pack radio that normal people will buy.
The reality of the situation is that any small, compact radio, GMRS or ham, is going to need pre-programmed with all the frequency and setting combos you're likely to need. All you're going to do once in the field is pick which memory to recall. Which, by the way, are numbered. So you can still say "Channel 4" and that means whatever you've programmed you and your wife's radio to mean.
Thats true, but I'm saying that a MURS or GMRS radio will get you to the same endpoint without blowing $200 per radio and ending up with a giant heavy brick that your wife hates carrying.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by williaty » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:31 am

crypto wrote:Lets face it, no one uses a $200 business-class UHF radio that requires programming just to talk to their family on a hiking trip, except radio nerds.

People who use radios casually WANT lightweight and cheap radios that use replaceable batteries and come in pairs. They dont want a 2lb commercial brick with a knob on top.
You effectively just made the argument that all of us should just have double-barrel, break-action shotgun because, really, that meets the needs of just about everyone and anyone who wants an AR is clearly just a gun nerd.

There's a usage case that makes FRS/GMRS the best choice. There's a usage case that makes CB the best choice. There's a usage case that makes ARS the best choice.

The usage case you've been describing means the ARS stuff is the best choice.

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by williaty » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:32 am

crypto wrote:Thats true, but I'm saying that a MURS or GMRS radio will get you to the same endpoint without blowing $200 per radio and ending up with a giant heavy brick that your wife hates carrying.
$50 Wouxon that's about the size and weight of a pack of cigarettes is suddenly a $200 giant heavy brick?

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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:35 am

williaty wrote:
crypto wrote:Lets face it, no one uses a $200 business-class UHF radio that requires programming just to talk to their family on a hiking trip, except radio nerds.

People who use radios casually WANT lightweight and cheap radios that use replaceable batteries and come in pairs. They dont want a 2lb commercial brick with a knob on top.

You effectively just made the argument that all of us should just have double-barrel, break-action shotgun because, really, that meets the needs of just about everyone and anyone who wants an AR is clearly just a gun nerd.
More like everyone who DOESN'T want to handload for accuracy, spend $2k on spotting and adjusting gear and punch paper with a $2k gun can probably get buy with a $600 investment in a lower-end bolt action and glass for hunting.

$160 and a bit of trainign to set up two short range radios, and another $80 or so to CB a vehicle to talk to them? Sounds like what Joe Smuch needs. I do, since I no longer have to take a class and pass a test.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by crypto » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:45 am

williaty wrote:
crypto wrote:Thats true, but I'm saying that a MURS or GMRS radio will get you to the same endpoint without blowing $200 per radio and ending up with a giant heavy brick that your wife hates carrying.
$50 Wouxon that's about the size and weight of a pack of cigarettes is suddenly a $200 giant heavy brick?
The $50 Wouxun thats a chinese piece of shit knockoff of a VX-3?

Now who's talking about buying shitty gear?

I was talking about quality icom or kenwood stuff.


BTW, please show me the FCC Part 95 acceptance letter for that $50 Wouxun that makes it legal to use for either GMRS or MURS.

You cant, there isnt one. The only Wouxun radio thats currently got /any/ acceptance is the UVP1 and its only for Part 90.

That knockoff VX-3 is about as legal as a 1500 watt CB. If you want to legally run on MURS or GMRS, you either use a shitty blister pack radio, or you use one of the Icoms or Kenwood business class radios that have Part 95 certification for those bands.
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Re: need something for backup commo with wife

Post by williaty » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:56 am

crypto wrote: The $50 Wouxun thats a chinese piece of shit knockoff of a VX-3?

Now who's talking about buying shitty gear?

I was talking about quality icom or kenwood stuff.


BTW, please show me the FCC Part 95 acceptance letter for that $50 Wouxun that makes it legal to use for either GMRS or MURS.

You cant, there isnt one. The only Wouxun radio thats currently got /any/ acceptance is the UVP1 and its only for Part 90.

That knockoff VX-3 is about as legal as a 1500 watt CB. If you want to legally run on MURS or GMRS, you either use a shitty blister pack radio, or you use one of the Icoms or Kenwood business class radios that have Part 95 certification for those bands.
Have you tried one or are you just being xenophobic about it being made in China? Um, I'm actually not sure what smiley to use here to indicate that that wasn't snark. Hams are often a xenophobic enough bunch that I'm not sure where you're coming from.

I have tried one. It's surprisingly good. I mean surprisingly good period, not just for the money. Is a IC-92AD nicer? Sure. Is a FT-60R nicer? Now that's a hard call. I'd say the 60R is nicer but only because it's bigger, which is an advantage for me considering my Mammoth-punching hands, it has nothing to do with performance. Quite a lot of people in our club have one now. There have been a few that are DOA or otherwise not quite right when they show up. The rate of DOA is better that what we've been experiencing out of Motorola, Cobra, Midland, etc in their FRS/GMRS and CB radios. While DOAs are lower with Icom, Kenwood, and Yaesu, the "not quite right" has actually been higher with some models from some of the major brands than with the Wouxons.

Also, I didn't try to say that it was type-accepted for FRS/GMRS. The Wouxon was brought up to defeat the "expensive heavy brick" strawman you kept prattling on about. I think that should have been very clear from the context.

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