Questions about communications

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Joshua

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Because I am new to prepping and heard a lot of talk about communications. I figured that the best of options would be to have hand cranked self powered options. For instance the WIND 'N GO 2 WAY RADIO AND LIGHT SET (one because its a hand cranked radio as well as two that it has a second tool that is the light set. ) but I am not sure about a lot about communications and there might be a lot better sets out there that i have not found. So was kind of curious of what do you all think about this radio set up?

http://www.majorsurplus.com/Wind-N-Go-2-Way-Radio-and-Light-Set-P16030C1973.aspx

also I was wondering about this item as well:

http://preparedness.com/bacagmemcrra.html
 

alabaster

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Man, this is a toughy IMO. I think it depends on what level of comms you're trying to cover. I mean, 2-ways are good for one thing and HAM radio for another.

I'm hoping that someone with a lot more experience on this than me chimes in!
 

act5860

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Depends on the type of comms you want and the situation. Is it for team use after a bugout? Get the lowest wattage crank powered unit that will fill the bill. (lower wattage makes it harder to triangulate on). Comms between groups is a complicated subject because if you haven't preset certain recognition codes, you're not sure who you're talking to, friend or foe.

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The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.---Thomas Jefferson
 

Loomis

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The two sets you show are low watt systems. Where are you using them? Urban or Rural. I have ones that put out 1 watt and in the city I only get 1/4 of a mile. It all depends where you use them and how far are you going to communicate with them.
 

Trapper

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I posted this on another thread but thought it maybe useful here too:

I will chime on the communications stuff. I have no background in HAMM radios. I do have background in other radios.

I have been around CB's all my life. Given the radio signals in the air you get too much interference for long distance use. Best is 5 miles with the antenna set properly, even then the guy your talking too has to have a properly set up unit or it wont work. As far as power boosters, they will over power units not set up for them your trying to talk to making them useless. VERY few guys really know how to set them up and they have to be set up to talk to specific radios or they wont work. You will pay alot to get them to marginally work. Not worth the time, money or hassle.

FRS radios. When they first came out range was 2-3 miles. I have probabely 6 sets if differant brands. Even the 20 miles rated one will hardly talk line of site even a half a mile due to regulations the fcc has on them. Dont waste your time or money.

Marine band radios...I have handheld units. I believe they are 2 watt. They will talk about 4-5 miles in woods/hilly terrain. They blow away FRS units in side by side comparisons. Cost about $50 for the cheap models I have. The hand held models that are about $100 are even better range and clarity. The models that hard wire into vehicles is what you want, but limited to use in a vehicle or house set up for use. I have personally used them with great success. The bear and coyote hunters running dogs use them all the time in WI. They WILL talk 30+ miles. I personally have talked to close to 50 miles on a clear day. No set up needed. Hook up antenna, hook up power and your live. FYI, these are FCC regulated for over water use only. You could get a fine for unauthorized use. I have never heard of it happening though. Cost is $100-500 per unit depending on model and antenna hardware.
 

Bravery

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Marine band radios...I have handheld units. I believe they are 2 watt. They will talk about 4-5 miles in woods/hilly terrain. They blow away FRS units in side by side comparisons. Cost about $50 for the cheap models I have. The hand held models that are about $100 are even better range and clarity. The models that hard wire into vehicles is what you want, but limited to use in a vehicle or house set up for use. I have personally used them with great success. The bear and coyote hunters running dogs use them all the time in WI. They WILL talk 30+ miles. I personally have talked to close to 50 miles on a clear day. No set up needed. Hook up antenna, hook up power and your live. FYI, these are FCC regulated for over water use only. You could get a fine for unauthorized use. I have never heard of it happening though. Cost is $100-500 per unit depending on model and antenna hardware.
Any particular brand you recommend?

When the SHTF, I want some means of communication with a friend of mine that lives about 13 miles away... trees and houses are in the way... no tall building though. Is this something that is possible?

I know in times of trouble the Cell phones will go down because of all the jammed circuits. I don't have a land line anymore... I don't know if Skype or any thing like that will be available. I would love to have some radio communication if possible. Any recommendations?
 

Trapper

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Sorry I did not get back to this sooner. My hand held marine radios are midland nautico. Works on AA batteries and comes with rechargeable battery pack and plug in. The vehicle mounted ones most popular I see are Uniden. The hand helds wont have enough power for 16 miles but the vehicle mounts will easily run 30+, that I have seen and used. When the shtf this and hamm radios maybe the only thing working. After the Boston bombings the news said cell service was shut down to prevent a remote control bomb from being detonated. I can see service interruptions and internet going down. At least with your own radios you are in control.
 

bill harrell

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Communication doesn't have to be audible( ask my wife ) there can be visual signals no one else would recognize as a signal , per say.but as far as electronic gear I'm not the one too talk to. If it ain't working SMASH it to smitherines..its a matter of personnel preference. Although not that bright or cheap. But I agree , we need some real experts to chime in on this
 

WilliamAshley

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The 511 link you have is about $40 more than other sellers such as Amazon.

The issue with FRS is that you are limited to 500mW 0.5 watt transmission meaning your range is if you are lucky 1 mile or with sufficient elevation perhaps 2 miles, however a city block is what you might expect. If using high power GMRS mode you have more power on your transmission, same as CB more or less but at a much higher output, at 4 to 5 watts. Bear in mind a GMRS license costs something like $85, the FCC is considering removing the license requirement and instead just using license by rule rather than registration like FRS and I think CB.

They could be useful for communicating in instance where being loud may not be beneficial such as yelling for someone, or in an urban environment where walls or rooms obstruct people.

Of course they can be useful, however in general getting your basic ham license will open you to more possibilities. FRS is short range don't expect more than a mile, if even half that depending on environment. In GMRS mode you are probably paying more than you would to get ham certified, and radios such as the baofang UV-5R or others can be picked up for between $30 and $50 with 4 to 5 watt output same as the GMRS setting, but with your ham liscense you will have a much greater potential.

It costs more in the US than Canada, basically completely free for me to get my basic with honours and advanced certifications, now there is a massive array of communication options, and I can even build or modify my own.

The big plus on the 511 is that it has a crank and acts as a charger for other midland devices and it has a mic that can be used on other midland products (which is $10 to $20 transfer value, and of course it is a clock radio with a light, which can be useful. However they sell for $70 so paying $110 is paying more than you need to. I love the hand crank.

I opted to get my ham certifications, imo, it was the right way to go because I can buy or build pretty much anything now, and can operate at 1000 watts. (in the US at 1500 watts) which is more than enough power to communicate most anywhere.
 

Prep355

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A couple of things mentioned in different posts above so I'll try and address most of them:

Authentication: this is easy to do using a simple 2-part challenge code (similar to what was used during WWII and many other wars). Using a spread sheet create a matrix with day of the month (rows) and then a challenge and corresponding response (columns) You want at least 10 sets so you don't risk duplicating otherwise someone listening could write them out. So you go to the day of the week, pick a challenge and the other person has to give the correct response. If you want to make it more difficult to de-code then you cross out one set once you have used it.

Radio choice:
Depends on what you are preparing for. If for local, around the local area or keep in touch with a group what is essentially within close proximity FRS works. Your signal doesn't go too far so difficult for someone to intercept your communication. This is premised on the fact that encrypted radios is probably outside the cost of most folks (~$5,000 per radio)

GMRS works over a greater distance but 1) you need a FCC license, currently $85 for 5 or 6 years I think 2) only a few frequencies available 3) only available in hand held radios and no external antenna allowed.

Amateur Radio - there are hundreds of frequencies over nearly every frequency band from UHF, VHF and HF (shortwave). You select a band based on whether you want to talk locally or thousands of miles. Basic handheld radios start just over $100. There are three exams depending on the license class. Basic entry is Technician. There is tons of good study, fee, material on the web. You can find places that do the exam for free and others charge about $14. License is good for 10 years. Another advantage is that there are lots of repeaters around and these extend the range. A single repeater will increase the 'range' from anywhere to 20 to 50 miles. Different radios and depending on the frequency band can have more power. There are systems that are linked via radio and others over the internet; the latter can make connections across the world. Another advantage is with so many frequencies available you could combine this with your authentication matrix in a disaster and use specific frequencies on different days to help confuse anyone trying to 'listen in.'

Marine channels are VHF. You are 'locked' into a set number of channels and the characteristics of VHF limit range to about 20 miles or less. There are no repeaters and so it's basically 'line of sight.' While I note that someone said they have never heard of anyone getting fined by the FCC for using a marine radio in-land if you are anywhere within 50-miles of water you are likely to be heard by the US Coast Guard. Triangulation of frequencies is very easy and the USCG does it for vessels in distress (so they are very good). If you get caught its $10,000 minimum!

Satellite - you can get service for about $35/month and then $1.20 per minute. Initial equipment outlay can be expensive. There are some that have a radio-like capability so you can talk to everyone in your group. There is no 'per use' charge on the radio use. The antenna has to be outside and have a view of the sky to the south/south-east to 'see' a satellite.

EMP - if you are considering an EMP as one of your threats, then you need to have equipment stored in a Faraday cage. If you are within the EMP radius of a EMP (EMP only or improvised nuclear device (IND)) all electronic equipment will be destroyed. All electricity will be out so AA type batteries are a must.
If it is a ground burst (10kt device is the national planning scenario) the blast is 3-5miles with the EMP being about 3 miles. If it is an air burst (think cold war scenario) the EMP could be hundreds of miles (depends on altitude of detonation).
However, with the EMP in a ground device is limited the cascade effects on the power and telephone grids will effectively make them useless for hundreds of miles or more.

So, I would recommend getting a Technician ham license to start with and some entry level equipment then advance your skills, including learning morse code. As you advance your license get some better equipment as your budget allows.

Hope I've answered and addressed most of your questions.
 

Maverick

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You can get the baofeng radio set it up for Rx/Tx on GMRS frequencies, use an external slim jim antenna

slim jim antenna:
https://www.google.com/search?clien...O7oQTz-YLICw&ved=0CCcQvwUoAA&biw=1440&bih=728

baofeng radio:
http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-Dual-...e=UTF8&qid=1394825290&sr=8-2&keywords=baofeng

just be sure to lock out the ham frequencies from being able to Tx (if don't have a lic), you can purchase the programming cable separately and the free software CHIRP to program the radio, dont use the cheaper program cable, doesn't work with a damn on x64 operating systems.

this cable works with CHIPS and x64 OSs:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CP0I474/ref=pe_385040_30332190_TE_M3T1_ST1_dp_2

USB drivers for the cable:
http://www.miklor.com/COM/UV_Drivers.php

CHIRP software:
http://chirp.danplanet.com/projects/chirp/wiki/Home
 

11C1P

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For 2 way radio's I've had motorola talk about's for many years now, like the ones here.
http://tinyurl.com/lfzc9kt

I recently added a couple of these to the line-up, especially since my kids are old enough to use them.
http://tinyurl.com/n2jo4c8

I also added a handheld HAM radio like the one mentioned above.

http://tinyurl.com/mrxf5pu

I've had a couple hand crank powered emergency radio's for a while as well.
http://tinyurl.com/n23fwf2

http://tinyurl.com/mek2mft

The Motorola's work well, but the range is not that great if you are in a hilly area or heavy woods. I haven't used the new stuff much to say too much about. The ETON radio's work well, and we've used them numerous times in power outages & camping. The little one actually gets better reception than the bigger one, but the bigger one has battery option so you don't have to crank it up all the time if you have batteries.
 

Gazrok

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I'm with Trapper on this. We're slowly going away from the CBs in the trucks, and Motorola hand units, and going strictly with the marine style radios all around. We already have recognized codes for things while using the current setup, so no switch needed there. Plus, we're in a rural area, so not much really interfering there. I do like the hand crank idea though...but a solar battery charging station will do the trick too, for the marine radios.
 
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You aren't going to talk 13 miles simplex with a Baofeng handheld radio - sorry.
Unless both parties had amateur radio licenses and used a repeater, or unless they both had GMRS licenses and had a repeater that they built or were allowed to use.

GMRS open repeaters are getting more and more hard to find.

Marine band is not going to improve a persons chance to talk further unless you had a antenna that would permit you to talk further then the line of sight simplex range.
No way to know for sure how far that is unless you knew the address of the two users.

In a mobile, I would guess the range to be 1 - 12 miles depending upon the frequency and the size of the antenna and the amount of transmitted power and the elevation of either vehicle compared to average terrain.

5 watts will talk as far as 50 watts - depending upon the location.

I wouldn't recommend anybody suggesting to do anything illegal such as using marine radios on land though.
 

Gazrok

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I wouldn't recommend anybody suggesting to do anything illegal such as using marine radios on land though.
Come SHTF, that legality goes out the window.
 

jimLE

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the Wind N Go 2-Way Radio and Light Set looks great..but there's one thing i've learned about the hand crank..you can sit there all day,and still be charging it.this i learned from the eton radio i have.it has a hand crank and a solar panal for recharging it..i simply set it outside and let the solar panal do the rest..and apprently the base camp gmrs is the same way.no solar panal..i pass on both for that very reason my self.the hand crank is great when either one is charged up id say half or more when useing the hand crank.but yet.that can tire out a persons arm if their not use to it.plus that can be time well spent doing some thing else while solar panal(s) is chargeing said item(s)..
 
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the Wind N Go 2-Way Radio and Light Set looks great..but there's one thing i've learned about the hand crank..you can sit there all day,and still be charging it.this i learned from the eton radio i have.it has a hand crank and a solar panal for recharging it..i simply set it outside and let the solar panal do the rest..and apprently the base camp gmrs is the same way.no solar panal..i pass on both for that very reason my self.the hand crank is great when either one is charged up id say half or more when useing the hand crank.but yet.that can tire out a persons arm if their not use to it.plus that can be time well spent doing some thing else while solar panel(s) is charging said item(s)..
The problem is that it won't solve this persons communications needs...
 

jimLE

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true..thats why it pays to search and ask questions,just learn what works best for communication
 

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