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Posted: 10/30/2012 8:18:22 AM EST
Recomend a good radio system for my family in case of disaster - I have no idea where to start?
Link Posted: 10/30/2012 8:33:38 AM EST
GMRS requires a license to operate. FRS is totally free to use. Personally I would get something like the midland that are FRS and GMRS and have up to a 40 mile range. Some even have Wx radio too.
Link Posted: 10/30/2012 10:53:45 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/30/2012 11:02:03 AM EST by Recorderguy]
Originally Posted By Spartan24:
Personally I would get something like the midland that are FRS and GMRS and have up to a 40 mile range. Some even have Wx radio too.


Total garbage claims by the manufacturer. More like a mile or two. They work line of sight. Very low power. No privacy at all.

CB has a much greater range than FRS/GMRS.

Better alternative:
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=193571

There's videos and discussion at the link.

Old(er) ruggedized Motorola Nextel i355's cell phones. Still only range a mile or two BUT they Frequency hop. Digital. Truely private communication unlike FRS/GMRS. They work cell phone to cell phone not needing a tower or service. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOTO_Talk

Available used on ebay for ten bucks per or at pawn shops, etc.

They work direct connect with no nextel plan needed. No licensing, can't be scanned or DF'ed, and fairly idiot proof.

For longer range communication, HAM is the way to go, check out the survival forum Ham forum : http://www.ar15.com/forums/f_10/22_Ham_Radios.html


Link Posted: 10/30/2012 4:59:55 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/30/2012 5:00:50 PM EST by thederrick106]
Two words:
Amateur radio.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/646491_the_CAN_T_FAIL_thread_for_getting_a_ham_radio_license_and_learning_basic_VHF_UHF_operations.html

My wife has her technicians license and has no interest in electronics or radios... She has interest in being able to communicate with me when/ where phones don't work and where there is no cell service...
Simplex or repeated amateur radio trumps all but government systems (and that is only because they have a lot more money to spend on it then hobbyists.)

ETA spelling
Link Posted: 10/30/2012 6:51:21 PM EST
OP,

While amateur radio would be the best solution for you AND your family (if 8 year olds can rock the test...), you may not be able to get everybody on board. GMRS becomes your best bet after that: the $85, no test, 5 year license covers you and anybody under your roof. Even better, there are MUCH looser restrictions than FRS, to include more power and better antennas, as well as the ability to use repeaters, which MAY already be active in your area.

On equipment, former Land Mobile Radio (LMR) gear is very often squeaky clean for GMRS use, isn't that expensive (Think $200 all in for a solid ICOM radio setup that will not fail you) and provides MUCH greater performance. One of the Ham Radio forum regulars has a GMRS setup for his wife that he often shares, he may drop by this thread with more specifics (I think it's C_Jan?).
Link Posted: 10/30/2012 7:23:06 PM EST
Get the true 5 watt GMRS and you have FRS. I recently got one that does marine band and NOAA also. Handy for mountaineering and I sail.
Link Posted: 10/31/2012 11:30:32 AM EST
I will add that I also have my GMRS license.
Link Posted: 10/31/2012 2:40:10 PM EST
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Two words:
Amateur radio.

http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/646491_the_CAN_T_FAIL_thread_for_getting_a_ham_radio_license_and_learning_basic_VHF_UHF_operations.html

My wife has her technicians license and has no interest in electronics or radios... She has interest in being able to communicate with me when/ where phones don't work and where there is no cell service...
Simplex or repeated amateur radio trumps all but government systems (and that is only because they have a lot more money to spend on it then hobbyists.)


One other advantage is that most ham VHF/UHF radios will also cover the FRS, GMRS, MURS and VHF marine channels*. So, your ham radio also gives you the ability to communicate with non-hams on those channels*.

*Legally to be only used during emergencies
Link Posted: 10/31/2012 3:02:04 PM EST
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:


Total garbage claims by the manufacturer. More like a mile or two.




That's being kind, most i've seen are lucky to do a half-mile, I have a few decent ones, they may get a mile.

My Motorola iDens are a different story, have tested up to 5 miles so far if both parties are outside, but I have the extended antennas. Reports coming in slowly from people trying externals are promising.

Secure too if you don't really want all the hams listening to your conversation. You won't get that with ham radio, though you can get almost unlimited range, IF that's something you need. Want and need are two different concepts that really begin to starkly contrast when you start to prep.

Link Posted: 11/1/2012 3:01:47 PM EST
Originally Posted By Dragynn:
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:


Total garbage claims by the manufacturer. More like a mile or two.




That's being kind, most i've seen are lucky to do a half-mile, I have a few decent ones, they may get a mile.

My Motorola iDens are a different story, have tested up to 5 miles so far if both parties are outside, but I have the extended antennas. Reports coming in slowly from people trying externals are promising.

Secure too if you don't really want all the hams listening to your conversation. You won't get that with ham radio, though you can get almost unlimited range, IF that's something you need. Want and need are two different concepts that really begin to starkly contrast when you start to prep.



Different strokes for different folks but wondering if you know what is needed to decode Olivia 16/500 on 14067.5 USB +1500? Or maybe the same mode or slightly different mode on 7112 USB USB + 1500?
Not try to bash but I can work digital modes locally or cross country and encode it so ether some one is going to be spending a lot of time and power (considering SHTF and grid is down) or have significant knowledge with the modes at hand... That and if they have to the power to operate post SHTF or whatever, they are probably a prepper or like as well.
Of course this is semi advanced as far as "ham radio" goes but its pretty basic and I have said it once and I will say it again, if you are serious about prepping then amateur radio is a no brainier. If you want to leave your comms to a few used cell phones them more power to ya. Maybe local comms is all you need then good deal . I have my GMRS license, have experimented with CB/ FRS/ Tri-square and every other type of free service and ended up in amateur radio... And on the same note I ended up becoming more involved in my communities emergency response programs and procedures etc.... I am currently the "radio officer" of our local Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service and the networking I have done with similar like minded folks is priceless.
I am not trying to bash or talk down to any one. If all you care about is local comms more power to you as this can be accomplished with FRS/ GMRS/ CB/ Cell phone radio whatever. I am just saying that it does not hurt to look "bigger" and "beyond" the easy answer. Getting your tech ticket is very easy and opens up a whole new world of comms.
Like I said I have my GMRS license because I have family members that are not interested and understand that fact... Just saying it does not hurt to think outside the box.


Link Posted: 11/4/2012 6:18:39 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/4/2012 6:22:25 PM EST by TheOtherDave]
I'd be looking at one of the Bao Feng handheld HAM radios. They are $40 to $60 and are pretty similar to a Yaesu.

If they were only bought for emergencies, then the license isn't a problem-it is legal to transmit without a license in an emergency. I recommend you do get your ticket so you can practice and find the limitations of your radios before you learn the hard way though.

Here's the biggie: You can't have more than 5 watts or a removable antenna on a GMRS/FRS radio. That's not a problem with a HAM radio. That handheld I mention may not be the last word in HAM radios, but you can plug it into a very good antenna (sky's the limit there) or an amp and use it as a base station. 5 watts on a good antenna will get you around your county pretty well.

Don't mess with GMRS when cheap HAM HT's are available. That, and every yahoo that ever bought a GMRS for 'huntin' will be on the air and you may not want to share your business with other folks.

Dave
KD8JNN

ETA: http://www.amazon.com/BaoFeng-Dual-Band-Stubborn-Enhanced-Features/dp/B0097252UK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1352089203&sr=8-5&keywords=bao+feng
Link Posted: 11/5/2012 3:22:39 AM EST
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Originally Posted By Dragynn:
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:


Total garbage claims by the manufacturer. More like a mile or two.




That's being kind, most i've seen are lucky to do a half-mile, I have a few decent ones, they may get a mile.

My Motorola iDens are a different story, have tested up to 5 miles so far if both parties are outside, but I have the extended antennas. Reports coming in slowly from people trying externals are promising.

Secure too if you don't really want all the hams listening to your conversation. You won't get that with ham radio, though you can get almost unlimited range, IF that's something you need. Want and need are two different concepts that really begin to starkly contrast when you start to prep.



Different strokes for different folks but wondering if you know what is needed to decode Olivia 16/500 on 14067.5 USB +1500? Or maybe the same mode or slightly different mode on 7112 USB USB + 1500?
Not try to bash but I can work digital modes locally or cross country and encode it so ether some one is going to be spending a lot of time and power (considering SHTF and grid is down) or have significant knowledge with the modes at hand... That and if they have to the power to operate post SHTF or whatever, they are probably a prepper or like as well.
Of course this is semi advanced as far as "ham radio" goes but its pretty basic and I have said it once and I will say it again, if you are serious about prepping then amateur radio is a no brainier. If you want to leave your comms to a few used cell phones them more power to ya. Maybe local comms is all you need then good deal . I have my GMRS license, have experimented with CB/ FRS/ Tri-square and every other type of free service and ended up in amateur radio... And on the same note I ended up becoming more involved in my communities emergency response programs and procedures etc.... I am currently the "radio officer" of our local Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service and the networking I have done with similar like minded folks is priceless.
I am not trying to bash or talk down to any one. If all you care about is local comms more power to you as this can be accomplished with FRS/ GMRS/ CB/ Cell phone radio whatever. I am just saying that it does not hurt to look "bigger" and "beyond" the easy answer. Getting your tech ticket is very easy and opens up a whole new world of comms.
Like I said I have my GMRS license because I have family members that are not interested and understand that fact... Just saying it does not hurt to think outside the box.




Well all you've done really is underscore another point i'm trying to make, no special knowledge needed to operate the iDen's securely, none. Push-to-talk. So nobody in my group or immediate circle would need any of that training you are speaking about to immediately be using secure comms in any sort of emergency situation.

I'm not trying bash either, but yes, local comms are my first and probably main concern, and no the used iDens are not my only source of comms thank you, I have several layers of redundancy, not to mention extra phones for parts and extra batteries and possibly most valuable of all, a degree in electronic servicing, which means I can repair most simple electronic items myself, and build radios from scratch if I need to...by the way, is this a skill you have? If not, getting your tech license is very easy, and opens up a whole new world of comms. Like building repeaters specifically for "used cell phones".

Link Posted: 11/5/2012 4:04:15 PM EST
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:

Better alternative:
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=193571

There's videos and discussion at the link.

Old(er) ruggedized Motorola Nextel i355's cell phones. Still only range a mile or two BUT they Frequency hop. Digital. Truely private communication unlike FRS/GMRS. They work cell phone to cell phone not needing a tower or service. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOTO_Talk

Available used on ebay for ten bucks per or at pawn shops, etc.

They work direct connect with no nextel plan needed. No licensing, can't be scanned or DF'ed, and fairly idiot proof.


Thanks for the info.

Any speculation on where you will stand with batteries 10 years from now? I tend to purchase things that operate on common battery sizes.
Link Posted: 11/5/2012 4:30:57 PM EST
Originally Posted By pedaler:
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:

Better alternative:
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=193571

There's videos and discussion at the link.

Old(er) ruggedized Motorola Nextel i355's cell phones. Still only range a mile or two BUT they Frequency hop. Digital. Truely private communication unlike FRS/GMRS. They work cell phone to cell phone not needing a tower or service. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOTO_Talk

Available used on ebay for ten bucks per or at pawn shops, etc.

They work direct connect with no nextel plan needed. No licensing, can't be scanned or DF'ed, and fairly idiot proof.


Thanks for the info.

Any speculation on where you will stand with batteries 10 years from now? I tend to purchase things that operate on common battery sizes.


On one of the pages in that thread a guy mods a battery pack to use 3 AAA batteries.
Link Posted: 11/6/2012 8:30:25 PM EST
several years ago i bought a pair of Motorola FRS/GMRS radios. around 40 bux a pair.
I got an honest 3 miles over level ground. (GMRS mode). I was impressed with them.
yes, ham radio is better, but for local/family cheap comms they will work very good.
Link Posted: 11/16/2012 3:40:15 AM EST
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:
Originally Posted By Spartan24:
Personally I would get something like the midland that are FRS and GMRS and have up to a 40 mile range. Some even have Wx radio too.


Total garbage claims by the manufacturer. More like a mile or two. They work line of sight. Very low power. No privacy at all.

CB has a much greater range than FRS/GMRS.

Better alternative:
http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=193571

There's videos and discussion at the link.

Old(er) ruggedized Motorola Nextel i355's cell phones. Still only range a mile or two BUT they Frequency hop. Digital. Truely private communication unlike FRS/GMRS. They work cell phone to cell phone not needing a tower or service. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOTO_Talk

Available used on ebay for ten bucks per or at pawn shops, etc.

They work direct connect with no nextel plan needed. No licensing, can't be scanned or DF'ed, and fairly idiot proof.

For longer range communication, HAM is the way to go, check out the survival forum Ham forum : http://www.ar15.com/forums/f_10/22_Ham_Radios.html




GMRS can use up to 50 watt transmitters and repeaters, they have much better range than a cb. The bubble pack fmrs/gmrs give gmrs a bad name but it can be quite effective for a family if you want. A couple of cheap Chinese HTs, a duplexer, a 40-50 watt amp, and a decent antenna mounted nice and high is all that is needed to build a cheap repeater that would be good for at least a 5-10 mile range. The repeater setup only costs a couple hundred bucks and will fit in an ammo can. For just a couple hundred more you could get enough HTs for your whole family and would give you a setup that works great at home and could bug out with you if the need ever arose.

I bought all that stuff to build a cheap portable 70cm repeater but now that I think about it I'm going to re tune the duplexer for gmrs and use it that way.
Link Posted: 11/16/2012 3:45:18 AM EST
Originally Posted By Dragynn:
Originally Posted By Recorderguy:


Total garbage claims by the manufacturer. More like a mile or two.




That's being kind, most i've seen are lucky to do a half-mile, I have a few decent ones, they may get a mile.

My Motorola iDens are a different story, have tested up to 5 miles so far if both parties are outside, but I have the extended antennas. Reports coming in slowly from people trying externals are promising.

Secure too if you don't really want all the hams listening to your conversation. You won't get that with ham radio, though you can get almost unlimited range, IF that's something you need. Want and need are two different concepts that really begin to starkly contrast when you start to prep.



I really doubt that those come anywhere near the range of a dedicated gmrs setup. With a 50 watt repeater setup on high ground and running 50 watt mobiles gmrs can be a pretty kickass setup.
Link Posted: 11/16/2012 4:46:40 AM EST
the need for a lot of range in emergency situations seems to me to be over stated. FRS/GMRS works pretty well at what it is - a short range solution. many people claim to get a lot more than the typical < 1 mile range that is usually suggested because the terrain in the area they tried it in is better suited for longer range with these type of radios.

in a city, you might be lucky to talk to someone down the block. just too many obstructions.

as far as privacy, well, there is not much in the way of privacy on any of the radio bands available to us. you should not be blabbing any top secret info anyway.

the texting side of cell phone service is a lot more resilient than most people realize and sometimes can be of use even when voice is not working.

having said all that, if you want reliable non-conventional comms beyond a fairly short distance you won't find typically find it with FRS or GMRS. however, it is very useful for what it does if that suits your needs.

you might want to think about what you want it to do and try it out and see if it works for what you want.

A farmer I know had a couple cheap of ones. His wife used them to talk to him when he was out in his fields. Did not work at all if she tried them from inside the house, but worked fine if she went outside unless he was behind the silo from where she was. then she would have to walk around the back side of the silo. the point I guess is think what you want them to do and then try it and see if it suits the bill.

Incidentally, for short range comms WiFi might suit your needs for highly secure comms. it is dirt cheap and there are a lot of things that you can use it with directly, even if the Internet itself was to be down, and it is inherently highly secure, or at least can be. and if you do some up front work, there are wireless Ethernet solutions that can give you point to point connections to place 20-50 miles away, and not real pricey either. might get you an Internet connection when the net is down at your pad.


Link Posted: 11/16/2012 5:41:21 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/16/2012 5:44:07 AM EST by TomJefferson]
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 8:38:27 AM EST
Originally Posted By ilbob:
the need for a lot of range in emergency situations seems to me to be over stated.



This. among other things.

Myself, I like to have redundancy and variety, so I have:

A couple of sets of GMRS FRS radios.
A couple of pairs of Motorola iDens
A couple of portable CB's w/antennas
I also have extra parts and units for parts, extra batteries etc, for everything, last thing I am buying will be a couple of handheld hams, the Baofengs mentioned elsewhere seem decent by all accounts.

I also have multiple FM/AM/NOAA/Shortwave emergency receiver radios that operate on battery/AC/solar/dynamo power.

Not really interested in radios as a hobby, i have too many hobbies now, and don't feel like paying the useless and corrupt government for any licenses to use the air, I pay enough bribes extortion taxes and fees already. And if the SHTF completely, I doubt seriously the FCC will be one of anybody's main concerns, any lesser but still serious emergencies, can be handled by the iDens and FRS just fine I imagine.

Link Posted: 11/17/2012 3:58:58 PM EST
rumor has it that Sprint is gonna kill what used to be nextel. (iDEN). I've always wondered if that tech could be used for private users. take away the phone part even. Just want 900Mhz base station that could be linked together to other stations and create a new network even.
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 4:31:45 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/17/2012 4:32:58 PM EST by 762bodydropper]
Ham radio, the license is cheap and easy, and I can hit the repeater 27.5 miles away with solid reception. Get a mobile for a base station at the house, and handhelds for traveling. Thats how I do it.

An added bonus is you can get into the local emergany networks and have early warning if anything crazy is going on in the surrounding counties and the power is out.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 9:35:09 AM EST
Originally Posted By ACTUAL:
rumor has it that Sprint is gonna kill what used to be nextel. (iDEN). I've always wondered if that tech could be used for private users. take away the phone part even. Just want 900Mhz base station that could be linked together to other stations and create a new network even.


I'll make you a deal on an iDEN repeater & yagi.

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