Author Topic: Lets talk 2 way radios...  (Read 1156 times)

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Offline xj35s

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Lets talk 2 way radios...
« on: April 14, 2018, 11:25:18 AM »
Who has them? How much do you know about them? I could use some hints and tricks as I don't know anything.

I have on multiple occasions been in the woods calling my dogs, when they were in the house. Sometimes I don't have time to wait for them to come on their own and they don't always if the eating/hunting is good.(poop!) This is usually just before I go to work.

I thought a 2 way would be great. Then the wife can let me know they came back. So in TSC I saw these on clearance. I know midland is a good brand. Not sure if this is the best model of 2 way or not. They are rechargeable and have a 28 mile unobstructed range. I like the weather alert too.

What are your thoughts and opinions ? Any advise?



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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2018, 12:26:23 PM »
We used them when our main hobby was training hunting retrievers in the late 80's and early 90's.  They allowed my wife and I to talk to each other about when to do certain things without a lot of yelling.  Most of the time the distances were, at most, four hundred yards or less.  They worked fine for that. 

Ours were Motorola brand although I do not remember the model.  Right now the T600 model sells for $85 for two of them and they are good units according to a guy who uses them.

How far away they will work depends on terrain and conditions.  I will tell that line of sight is important and if you are in the bottom of a gully and the other person is a gully of two away you may not be able to contact them.  Dog training didn't usually involve major problems because we were not far from each other. 

In walkie talkies you get what you pay for, at least in my experience.  The other brand I recall from those days was Cobra.  They were as good as the Motorola models.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2018, 01:04:50 PM »
My experience with our older '15-miler' Midland GMRS radios mirror Stan's.  Line-of-sight communication on ours was right at 2.5 miles, but an intervening hill nixed any hope of communication over 1/4 mile. :-X :-X    We used them a LOT during harvest for dependable 1/2 mile communication between the pilot in the combine and the chaser tending the grain cart. :thumbsup:    In that scenario they worked way better than cell phones, which tend to show 'no service' in some spots on the farm....or handheld CB radios that become all but unusable during active sunspot occurrences, especially when the skip begins to roll! >:(  There is definitely a place for them on the farm or out in the woods!  You got a deal on them similar to mine, which were on sale at Dunham's Sports at the time I bought ours.  Frogskins well spent in my opinion. ;D
« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 08:56:56 AM by wolfy »
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2018, 01:22:19 PM »
I walked the perimeter of our property while the wife was inside the house. No problem at all. Very clear sound and easy to hear. No static and no disruptions.

I was out there 30 minutes chatting the whole time and didn't lose a single bar on the battery level.

I think I'm happy. So, I'm guessing they won't work while out canoeing unless she's on shore. Now for L.E.D. Collars. HA!!
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2018, 01:25:58 PM »
Through personal experience, I know that they'll work just fine between canoes, too. :canoe:...................
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2018, 02:07:46 PM »
That would be a great test of the 28 mile range!!
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Offline greyhound352

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2018, 03:20:08 PM »
A little more than 2 way radios, but I will throw it out here.

If each of you were able to take the ham radio exam, easy to pass these days with online test, uou could buy 2 of these and be working with 8 watts of power.

https://www.amazon.com/slp/best-portable-ham-radio/ds75tr8u9vpm5de

With a repeater in your area 28 miles is easily accessible.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2018, 08:06:42 PM by greyhound352 »
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2018, 06:32:31 PM »
Their lies the problem.....last time I looked into it, there weren't any repeaters around me, either. :-\
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2018, 08:37:50 PM »
I made my living on two way radios for the past 40 years. I retired last year. I hold an FCC radiotelephone operator license so I can legally work on the radios and I hold a CET (Certified Electronics Technician) certificate. Over the years many radios have been good but they became obsolete for varied reasons. A good radio needs to have usable range, have intelligible audio quality and maintain a reasonable battery life between charges or changes of disposable batteries. Right now the best radio for your dollar is the Motorola DTR 550 or DTR 650. These are not cheap at $280.00 each. But they are the best for the dollar. Mine consistently talk 5 to 6 miles. They are 900 Megahertz Spread Spectrum Frequency Hopping. No FCC license is required and you can download the programming software for free. To keep the pricing in perspective, The emergency services (Fire, Police, Ambulance) radios are typically $1500.00 to 2500.00 each.

The consumer grade radios are seldom capable of more than 2 miles. Their bragging of up to (insert fantasy range here)
miles is just that, bragging. They never mention mountain top range competitions or the GMRS repeaters on 500 foot towers. It really is a get what you pay for business. If you need to keep track of family in a campground or at a fairgrounds or concert venue, then the Midlands and Cobras will work OK. Like all radios, they will be affected by steel buildings and steep terrain. Just know that anything over 1/2 mile is gravy and can't be counted on all the time.

Just 40 years of experience and I retired nicely from it. 

Offline xj35s

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2018, 07:58:23 AM »
Thank you for the info. So $25 is reasonable for what I'll be using them for. We have little to no cell services at the house, out back none. They worked great for a wife inside the house while at the furthest corner of my property. That's only 1500 feet I think.

I thought the uhf and vhf were marine channels. My brother Glen, when he was 14 or 15 years old, built a ham radio from a kit. It worked too. That was back in 1966/67. Always wanted to get into it. I had a neighbor growing up that lived on the ham like most people today do the internet. She eventually had a computer and could type in for it to send out, like early internet. I tried to write a message to the guy she was talking to. I was so slow typing that it must have came in as gibberish for him as the reply to me was just a mess of letters. The neighbor lady laughed out loud. I just walked away even though I wanted to know what happened.

We had repeaters on the farm. They worked even in the next county over. I don't know how many towers were available but truly astounding how much more efficient we were at getting things done. Just radioing in for a new hydraulic hose or other parts saved unbelievable time.
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Offline Orbean

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2018, 09:14:47 AM »
That would be a great test of the 28 mile range!!

I am willing to bet you will never get a 28 mile range out of those radios. The only way would be if both radios were within line of sight. For running around the property I am sure they will work well but 28 miles out, never. My icom two meter handheld (480.00 new) has a problem with 28 miles under certain conditions and it is top of the line. I hate when companies like midland make claims like this.
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2018, 12:55:48 PM »
That would be a great test of the 28 mile range!!

I am willing to bet you will never get a 28 mile range out of those radios. The only way would be if both radios were within line of sight. For running around the property I am sure they will work well but 28 miles out, never. My icom two meter handheld (480.00 new) has a problem with 28 miles under certain conditions and it is top of the line. I hate when companies like midland make claims like this.

It seems they all make the claims and they are not out and out lying, but they sure are leaving a lot of pertinent information out. There is a certain satisfaction in getting as much range as possible out of a minimal amount of power. Kind of like who gets the best gas mileage.

The human ear seems a little more sensitive to a whistle than it is to voiced words. So in range competitions, a tone is sent out. If you can hear the tone on the other end it is considered a successful test and (maximum range bragging rights). But unless you are fluent in Morse code it doesn't lend itself to practical use.

They will also stand with the radio at the focal point of a parabolic antenna. Again, not even remotely practical, but good for bragging rights.

The FRS (no license required) and the GMRS radios are both good within their limitations.

Older (pre May2017) FRS radios were limited to 1/2 watt. New FRS can have up to 2 watts of power. Try to get the two watt ones for best range.


The GMRS radios are a great choice too. You can find them with up to 5 watts of power in the handheld portables and up to 50 watts of power for mobiles and base stations. You can start out with the handhelds and then add in a higher powered mobile or base station later. You can even get your own repeater if your pockets are deep enough.  It's not unusual to talk 10 miles (over level ground) from a handheld to a base station if you have a good outside antenna. But, you do need an FCC license for them. It is  actually more of a tax because there is no test. You have to be a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 and pay $70.00 for a 5 year license. Once you are licensed, family can use the radios as long as your are in control to prevent abuses such as profanity and intentional interference to other users.

There is also a radio service called MURS that has no license requirement. For use on the water, a marine band radio is a no license required option. The marine band radios can have up to 25 watts and are available as portables (Walkie Talkies), again with power limitations due to battery capacity.

Ok that's enough rambling.

Offline wolfy

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2018, 01:46:01 PM »
Pete, I was wondering about the chances of the FCC Gestapo coming down on someone 'mistakenly' using the GMRS side of their FRS/GMRS transceivers when they are not licensed to do so? :shrug:
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Offline Orbean

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2018, 03:40:02 PM »
Pete, I was wondering about the chances of the FCC Gestapo coming down on someone 'mistakenly' using the GMRS side of their FRS/GMRS transceivers when they are not licensed to do so? :shrug:

If they ever do, there will be a whole bunch of 12 year old boys in federal custody.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2018, 04:26:03 PM »
 :rofl: :thumbsup:
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2018, 09:49:28 PM »
Pete, I was wondering about the chances of the FCC Gestapo coming down on someone 'mistakenly' using the GMRS side of their FRS/GMRS transceivers when they are not licensed to do so? :shrug:

If they ever do, there will be a whole bunch of 12 year old boys in federal custody.

Highly unlikely but not impossible.

Like many government agencies, they have more rules and regulations than they have money or manpower to enforce. As a general rule of thumb, being cited for a violation is like getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery. It rarely happens but when it does, you can expect a fine in the tens of thousands of dollars. Back in the 1980's a violation was around $20,000.00. About two new pickup trucks.
now the fine is around $100.000.00. About two new pickup trucks. I do not want to the give Uncle Sam two new pick-up trucks. I'd rather keep 'em myself.

They (The FCC) pretty much ignore the 2 watts and under radios. There have been so many millions sold in bubble packs in every big box and hardware store in the country that they can't possibly regulate them. But if your going to get serious with 25 or 50 watt mobiles, base stations and repeaters, a $70.00 license for 5 years is cheap peace of mind. Just a little over a dollar a month.

The FCC enforcement is horribly under funded and undermanned. They only have the assets to pursue flagrant, malicious violations. They wisely utilize their assets on broadcast radio, TV, Cellular services and other services that seem the affect the American public as a whole. But I certainly wouldn't use that as an excuse to cause intentional interference to someone else or cuss a blue streak on open public airwaves. I always told my customers to treat the radios with the rules you learned in kindergarten. Play nice, wait your turn, don't swear, no pushing, shoving or hitting. It will go a long way in not drawing undue attention to yourself.  That's just good courtesy weather your legally licensed or not. 

More long winded rambling. I need to stop that.

Offline wolfy

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2018, 11:03:45 PM »
So, you're saying I drastically need to change my behavior then? :shrug: :lol:
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2018, 02:24:44 PM »
So, you're saying I drastically need to change my behavior then? :shrug: :lol:

Some of us are clear, concise and entertaining. Others of us are vague, stilted and excessively verbose. You admirably represent the first group. While I am firmly entrenched with the second. Writing is not my forte, but I appreciate everyone's patience. Dang it, did it again. :doh: :D

Offline Orbean

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2018, 03:17:01 PM »
Pete, I was wondering about the chances of the FCC Gestapo coming down on someone 'mistakenly' using the GMRS side of their FRS/GMRS transceivers when they are not licensed to do so? :shrug:

If they ever do, there will be a whole bunch of 12 year old boys in federal custody.

Highly unlikely but not impossible.

Like many government agencies, they have more rules and regulations than they have money or manpower to enforce. As a general rule of thumb, being cited for a violation is like getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery. It rarely happens but when it does, you can expect a fine in the tens of thousands of dollars. Back in the 1980's a violation was around $20,000.00. About two new pickup trucks.
now the fine is around $100.000.00. About two new pickup trucks. I do not want to the give Uncle Sam two new pick-up trucks. I'd rather keep 'em myself.

They (The FCC) pretty much ignore the 2 watts and under radios. There have been so many millions sold in bubble packs in every big box and hardware store in the country that they can't possibly regulate them. But if your going to get serious with 25 or 50 watt mobiles, base stations and repeaters, a $70.00 license for 5 years is cheap peace of mind. Just a little over a dollar a month.

The FCC enforcement is horribly under funded and undermanned. They only have the assets to pursue flagrant, malicious violations. They wisely utilize their assets on broadcast radio, TV, Cellular services and other services that seem the affect the American public as a whole. But I certainly wouldn't use that as an excuse to cause intentional interference to someone else or cuss a blue streak on open public airwaves. I always told my customers to treat the radios with the rules you learned in kindergarten. Play nice, wait your turn, don't swear, no pushing, shoving or hitting. It will go a long way in not drawing undue attention to yourself.  That's just good courtesy weather your legally licensed or not. 

More long winded rambling. I need to stop that.

I have found with almost no exception that amateur radio operators are helpful, kind, and respectful. Having said that there are trolls on the air. One asshat took delight in trolling new licensees and no one could catch him. He was operating out of Utah, must have been mobile because no one could triangulate his position. He was also using way over the legal power limits and would over power other hams to  get his message out. One night I was dx'ing in the middle of manzano mts and heard one guy broadcasting (which is illegal) religious material. His signal was very strong so he must have been close by. I enjoy listening to pirate radio but I really hope they caught that guy.

Amateur radio is a great hobby, the tech exam is extremely easy to pass, and for less than a hundred dollars you can get on the air. Or you could go crazy like me and have a room full of equipment, most of which I never use. I have hours of fun talking on 2 meter and listening on the lower bands. I dx am and shortwave and get a real charge listening to international broadcasts and other hams talk. Am always looking for pirate broadcasts and number stations. All of use should get licensed, it would be a blast to  talk to you guys while reading B&B posts. Someday I will get off my arse and take the next test which would allow me to transmit on the fun frequencies, which are all below  28mhz; imo that is where the real fun is
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2018, 09:15:57 PM »
The first time I took my tech license test we had to do the Morse Code. Passed it OK but I never used it, so I let it lapse.
I've tried some of the sample tests available on the internet and usually write in the 80% range. Good enough to get my ticket. I need to get down to Fargo or Bismarck for a real test.  I've got all the equipment to do the local 2 meter but I'm satisfied to listen to the shortwave frequencies. There's even some real slow Morse code that even I can still decipher.

When I was cruising the Mediterranean I had a battery operated shortwave receiver and would tune in the BBC and VOA
up on the flight deck after flight ops were done and all was dark and quiet.  It was the only way to get real information as the shipboard news on world affairs ignored a lot while we were at sea. We were pretty much like mushrooms back then. Kept in the dark and fed a lot of "Fertilizer".  :)

Offline Yeoman

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2018, 04:21:08 PM »
That would be a great test of the 28 mile range!!
LOL!!!
You'd get a bit past the curvature of the earth and that's about it.
I love the distance claims on these radios. To get 28 miles of line of sight you'd need to be in the mountains or an airplane.

That being said, they are fun to have in a canoe. Dry condoms work well to water proof them.
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2018, 04:31:21 PM »
I have a ham question. With or without applesau...Er, I'm wondering how you find people?

I remember as a kid scanning a thousand satellites for porn. On one of those 12 foot dishes. It took forever but was worth it.

How do you know who you're talking to, where they are and how to contact them?

I don't have the patience to slowly scan through, Or is it an auto scan like a police scanner? I have seen bumper stickers with ham stations advertised.

I'm clueless.
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Offline Orbean

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2018, 06:20:24 PM »
I have a ham question. With or without applesau...Er, I'm wondering how you find people?

I remember as a kid scanning a thousand satellites for porn. On one of those 12 foot dishes. It took forever but was worth it.

How do you know who you're talking to, where they are and how to contact them?

I don't have the patience to slowly scan through, Or is it an auto scan like a police scanner? I have seen bumper stickers with ham stations advertised.

I'm clueless.

There are nets that come on at certain times and on certain frequencies. When I first started I would find a frequency that was in use and introduce myself using my call sign. Now I have frequencies in the memory of my radios that I scan until I find a busy one that has familiar and friendly voices. XJ what is neat about where you live is that you can very  easily pick up conversations and broadcasts from Europe and Africa. These are places that are not available to me. There is a learning curve but that is part of the fun. I warn you though it is addicting.
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2018, 07:40:32 AM »
That's cool. I have a friend that recently got licensed. I'll have to go hang out with him a little bit.
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Offline Orbean

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2018, 10:30:02 AM »
That's cool. I have a friend that recently got licensed. I'll have to go hang out with him a little bit.

I got my hands on my first sw receiver when I was maybe 25 or so. Was always interested as a kid and used to DX am late at night. When I got that first receiver I could not get squat, nada, it was a disappointment. Then someone told me to take a length of wire and get it as high as I could. It worked so much better. Literally taped a piece of wire to the antenna and strung it up a tree. I have used a chain link fence as an antenna, a wire around the ceiling in my apartment, strung around the eaves of my house, strung on the roof; any place where I  can get it high. A good Friday night for me is being able to pick up the broadcast of WBCQ out of Maine, they have a series of music programs that I really like. XJ I bet you could pick up WBCQ clear as a bell. I have always wanted to DX on the eastern part of the country, I bet you could find some really cool stuff.

If I was just starting out I would look for a sw receiver with an external antenna port, SSB, and a cost of 150.00 to 200.00. Radios in that price range will have all those options and imo are be able to pull in a signal and keep it. I have a Grundig G3 and am very disappointed in its durability. However I have an older table top Grundig that is awesome, unfortunately it is not portable. Countycomm  https://countycomm.com/products/countycomm-gp-5-ssb-general-purpose-radio has one that is all that, less than a hundred that is getting good reviews but I am a little skeptical because it is under a hundred dollars. I have seen a couple in use but the conditions were excellent. 
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Lets talk 2 way radios...
« Reply #25 on: April 18, 2018, 12:07:33 PM »
I had a neighbor who was a Ham radio operator.  I was about 13 and he took their whole dining room up with the equipment he had.  His antenna was at least 40' high and set in concrete in his backyard.  He would let us  listen to his conversations with people from time to time and it was pretty interesting as I remember.  It seemed to me that they traded identity names and he had talked to a couple of thousand (?) or more people all over the english and some other languages world.  I still remember his call signal W0SIN out of Denver Colorado. 

I never got the bug to do this for some reason. 
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