Walkie-Talkies?

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Anybody using walkies for short-range comms? Seems to me if cell service goes, it would be a good way to keep from getting too separated from your bug-out group, spouse, etc. Looks like the good ones run at least 100 bucks and I'm honestly not sure what qualities to look for in a good walkie set, anyone got any input? Are walkie-talkies even practical in a SHTF scenario?
 

jimLE

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i have a pair that was given to me..and have thought about that..but not sure if i want to with these ones.on account they'll only reach some where around a 1/2 mile,but thats becuse of the trees and hills in my area
 

DrHenley

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Most walkie talkies won't even reach halfway through the woods at the BOL.
 

firewallsrus

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The straight up answer is that you may be able to talk to your next door neighbor but not the house on the other side of them. None of these radios will follow curve of the earth, so they are limited to 6 miles (potential) with no trees, buildings or other obstructions. More power will help "push" though some obstructions like buildings and trees, but with the useless antenna on EACH and EVERY FRS approved radio, you will be lucky to get more than your next door neighbor if both are indoors. I use these radios for running trip-wire sensors and motion detector sensors on likely approach routes, but the range is very limited.
A pure GMRS radio (if you can find one), allows replaceable antenna, but any radio that includes FRS approval or "Type Acceptance" must, by law, have a non-removeable antenna that is deliberately stunted in the ability to resonate or radiate at the transmitter frequencies. The biggest problem I have with these walkie talkies (even if I could find one that is purely GMRS, is they cost more than a HAM radio. It may not be entirely legal to transmit with your UV5R or Wouxun KG-UV8D radio on MURS, GMRS frequencies, but it has the capability. In fact, most of the little HAM dual bander HT radios will transmit on commmercial and public service frequencies as well if you configure them to.
 

alabaster

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We use Midland radios for camping, hiking, and even occasionally when hunting. They're better than we expected them to be in all respects. No doubt there are a lot of things to consider, but we feel it's better than limiting comms. The more options then better. My opinion.
 

Gazrok

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While we currently use walkies around the ranch, come SHTF, everyone will be on those few channels. Eventually, we're going to handheld HAMs. (and of course, you have to develop a LOT of code so your communications aren't clear to outsiders).

Of course, the danger of using any such gear is that a smart opponent could use it to triangulate your exact position. So, you have to weigh this carefully in such use, and use it sparingly, and only when needed.
 

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I'd like to learn more about the handheld hams. Is that what the boefang was?
 

Silent Earth

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I think you are referring to the walkie talkies that use the FRS low power frequencies in the US that are called PMR radios in the UK, We were unhappy with the fixed antenna .5 watt output of most ready made sets available so we bought Baofeng UV5RC Ham sets which do both .5 watt and 4 watt outputs and have both HAM and PMR frequencies. From simplicity in use for non ham types I used CHIRP to reprogram the sets to only use the 16 PMR channels. I set the output on 4 watts and fitted much better antennas. They more than meet both my urban and rural needs up to around 7 miles clear line of sight.

Anybody using walkies for short-range comms? Seems to me if cell service goes, it would be a good way to keep from getting too separated from your bug-out group, spouse, etc. Looks like the good ones run at least 100 bucks and I'm honestly not sure what qualities to look for in a good walkie set, anyone got any input? Are walkie-talkies even practical in a SHTF scenario?
 

Graynomad

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The Baofeng UV5 seems to be the defacto standard for preppers, every man and his dog seems to have them. I don't yet but will soon, you can get them pretty cheap (say around $50) on eBay.

Their antennas are removable, pretty sure you can connect to whatever you like.
 

firewallsrus

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I think you are referring to the walkie talkies that use the FRS low power frequencies in the US that are called PMR radios in the UK, We were unhappy with the fixed antenna .5 watt output of most ready made sets available so we bought Baofeng UV5RC Ham sets which do both .5 watt and 4 watt outputs and have both HAM and PMR frequencies. From simplicity in use for non ham types I used CHIRP to reprogram the sets to only use the 16 PMR channels. I set the output on 4 watts and fitted much better antennas. They more than meet both my urban and rural needs up to around 7 miles clear line of sight.
Even using the basic channels, I suggest a system within your communit (I call it a mutual assistance group or MAG). One frequency is the main hailing frequency that everyone should be monitoring on one side of their HT (the ham units will almost all monitor two frequencies at once). The other frequency would be assigned to your household. I use alpha-numerics rather than channel numbers to make it easy to keep track of. For group with less than 16 members, each member would monitor the group "HAILING" frequency as well as their own frequency (or channel) This way, anyone with an emergency or other information for all would transmit on the "HAILING" channel. Anyone wishing to contact me directly would transmit on the "Jim" channel. Each member would then monitor both the "HAILING" channel and their own channel unless they want to initiate a call to another member in which case they leave the HAILING channel active in case of an emergency.
This allows the rest of the group to go on with their routines when traffic doesn't apply to them.
Any member of the group who is bored can set their personal frequency to scan all the names in the group for traffic while leaving their primary side on the HAILING channel.
Sticking with the GMRS/FRS frequencies for this would allow the members with walkie-talkies to communicate although they would probably need to use the primary HAILING frequency.
 

psalm 7

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Walkies are good coms for short range and dont have to be expencive the Midlands , Cobras and such are fine for what they are made for . Baofeng's seem to be good but not as tuff as the Motorolla's if you want to spend a bit more . I also have several hand held CB's for longer range . The walkie's for our general area's and CB's for distance . HAM's I may look into these but not near the top of my list .
 

eireguy

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Baofeng uv5 models are decent . Bf888 's are a cheaper way to go . Either of these will be better than the blister packs you pick up @ the big box stores . You can connect both to repeaters & strech your range .
 

firewallsrus

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Baofeng uv5 models are decent . Bf888 's are a cheaper way to go . Either of these will be better than the blister packs you pick up @ the big box stores . You can connect both to repeaters & strech your range .
I suspect you'll find the blackbox item mentioned above is a baofeng 888. There's a pretty good site on these cheap Chinese radios called Miklor.com where he compares a lot of different options. I work at MTCRadio now and then doing odd jobs and can tell you that the company in China that makes Baofeng radios will put any label you want on the radio if you order a few hundred. We sell the UV5R under our own brand name from time to time and the factory is more than happy to add a '+' sign or anything else you want to the model number. the 888 sells for under $20 and it really is pretty tough.
Chinese radios get bad press for not being tough, but I dropped my first Wouxun handheld from my motorcycle doing about 70MPH and other than the high-gain antenna losing the little plastic tip and the battery being cracked open, the radio still worked fine. I bought a replacement battery and still use that radio. Wattage matters, but not as much as some people seem to think. The antenna is what counts. An out of the box Baofeng handheld running 5 Watts can (and has) been used to relay messages to and from orbiting satellites. It just takes a different antenna.
My point in suggesting the HAM versions of these walkie talkies (like the UV5R) is that they cover both HAM frequencies, and the walkie talkie frequencies. They even cover the marine VHF frequencies. My radios are all programmed to monitor and scan the FCC part 90 and marine frequencies but not transmit. The programming software I use has images ready to be dumped to each radio that turns the transmit capability on for those banned frequencies in case of emergency. The law actually does allow use of these radios in cases where life is at stake (for instance helping search an area with GMRS/FRS users), so there is good reason to have them handy. One thing about the cross-band capability of the KG-UV8D radio is the ability (normally not permitted) to cross-band (cross-link) GMRS/FRS) users with 2 Meter HAM or rural fire department users.
I don't think there's a wrong answer. I just think the more ideas are floating around out there, the better our preps will get. The philosophy of the em-comm side of HAM radio is to use the best method of communications available at the moment, not necessarily the radio.
 

firewallsrus

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We use GMRS for our short range comms, we gone to our BOL to determine distance and dead zones thus to get a grasp of our comms weaknesses that we now have plotted on our BOL map.
Perfect. You guys are doing what so many do not. I like that you are not assuming things will work since nobody can really predict RF propagation in a given environment 100 percent. I'm sure you've also looked at likely approach routes and observation spots for someone curious about your group. A soldering iron and a bit of tinkering will turn a GMRS or even one of the $15 Baofeng 888 radios into a remote trip-wire to give you better advance warning than close-in sensors. I don't advocate any one solution. I figure to use everything available to me.
BTW: I just read something today about a new series of Anytone handhelds that are part 95 compliant (GMRS and MURS but not FRS). This is good news because it means you can use a better antenna than the dummy loads required on the FRS units. So far, I haven't heard from anyone who has one, but there's always hoping.
 

Clyde

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I'd like to learn more about the handheld hams. Is that what the boefang was?
There are many a hand held (HT). The least expensive ones are by Baofeng, and Wouxon. Programming these radios can be a bit of a chore, but software like CHIRP greatly simplifies things.
However, you can go up to to $574.95 with some from companies like Yaesu and the new FT-2D. That being said, I am not 100% sure you can program the HT's by Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood to transmit on the FRS/GMRS frequencies.

The radio you buy should be predicated on what you desire to accomplish with it, and your own budget.
 

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