Handheld radio recommendation, please

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Hanzo, Sep 12, 2018.


  1. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Can anyone recommend a hand held radio that has great range, is easy to operate and is not expensive? Thinking of something for the family in emergencies if cell phones are out. And can also be useful hiking. Often, we hike through areas with no cell coverage.

    Mahalo!
     
  2. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    Not to beat a dead horse, but before I say "Everyone should get their tech license and use a HAM radio", answers to a couple of questions would be helpful:
    • When in use, what kind of distance between family members are you looking at?
    • What kind of terrain (yeah, we know you are in HI...mountains, trees, gorgeous vistas)?
    • Are you (or the family) at all interested in getting your HAM ticket?
     
  3. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
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  4. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    Baofeng and Wouxun are both Kenwood knock-offs made in China. I have both and would buy them again. The powered off battery life of the Baofeng is insane. I found one of mine that I charged and tossed in a drawer almost 2 years ago and it has over 85% battery left.

    I would suggest a Nagoya antenna, increased tx/rx distance by 20% and clarity by 90% over the stock antenna (for either B or W).

    Again, this assumes you want to go "HAM" and not a FRS or GMRS radio. The thing about FRS and GMRS is that they are very, very limited in a forested area or an area with hills. HAM can be too, but you can get a few extra watts (legally) out of a Handi-Talkie HAM rig (most are at 5 watts but as a HAM you can transmit more) whereas FRS is limited to 2. GMRS is kind of a "halfway" beast between FRS and HAM and can technically transmit up to 50 watts but NOBODY is doing that with a handheld.

    In a crappy TX/RX environment, the ability to push a lot of power has advantages, but is pretty much anathema to the HAM code of "use the lowest amount of power necessary to get the job done". However, there is something to be said for the "quantity over quality" argument in a pinch.

    If you decide to get the family licensed, I'll point you to the many, many threads on getting a HAM radio that we have. If you REALLY want to geek out and get into "nerd knob" territory, we'll pull Bruce in.
     
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    When @BTPost gets settled on the vacation trip, maybe we can induce him into a lesson on the used Motorola hand phones that can be set up for local group comms. "315" sticks in my MT head.
     
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  6. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    One other note to @Hanzo re: HAM - Knowing what I think I know about you and your philosophy on life and interconnectedness, civic duty, helping your fellow (wo)man, etc...HAM has a very long civic duty history. It is not at all uncommon for the HAMs to be the first communication in a disaster area, sometimes by DAYS. They also work closely with emergency management services and agencies (no, not just FEMA) to provide "last mile" communication services as well as much needed additional arms of communication. So again, knowing what I think I have come to know of you, you would be all over that in an emergency.
     
  7. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

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  8. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    like @DarkLight said the terrain is gonna cause some problems over there :(

    tropical or semi-tropical forests aint that gud fer radios either :cautious:
     
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  9. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid Frugal Secret Squirrel Site Supporter++

    Been some time since I purchased handhelds. But, back then, the big four were - Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom, and of course, Motorola.

    Oh, put me down as another vote for you and your family getting your ham tickets.

    EDIT: Is Alinco still around? I remember when they started up. Cheap radios. Not nearly the quality of the others I listed.
     
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  10. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    A couple of them old PRIK 25's used to get pretty good range,,good exercise to,,,,
     
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  11. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Yes, they are...still not up on par wth the major players.
     
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    @DarkLight is right on, with his analysis... First you need to define your Comm needs...
    1. What expected Range is required, and in what type of terrains....
    2. Licensed or UnLicensed type Operation....
    3. Amount you are prepared to spend, per unit...
    Once these questions are answered, then a reasonable choice can be made about hardware...

    If you can not answer the questions above, with any kind of confidence, then what hardware to
    buy is NOT the question you need to be asking...
     
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  13. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++


    • Various distances that won't always be known
    • Yes to your terrain description
    • We would condider HAM license, but don't know what it entails
     
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  14. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

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  15. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++


    1. Would like to get 1-2 miles minimum range
    2. Terrain is mountain, valley, rain forest
    3. Don't know enough about licensed to anser
    4. As little as possible
     
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  16. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid Frugal Secret Squirrel Site Supporter++

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  17. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    @Hanzo the baofengs plus all chinese radios are cheap in price, real cheap in build quality, come with real cheap chinese documentation, the interface is not gud

    yer legally required to get yer HAM license 1st before ya Tx on em

    ya can Rx all day

    :)
     
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  18. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ok, That range is doable with the newly authorized High Power FRS Radios, (No License needed) when they hit the market... Or ANY of the FCC Part 90 Radios in either VHF or UHF Bands. Vhf will carry farther, thru Tropical Terrain, but with your Range requirements, that isn’t a big issue... Both Vhf & Uhf are basically “Line of Sight” radios, so ridges, hills, and such will effect Comms between units, If the Ridge/ Hill is in between the Units, but if you walk the Ridges, and stay out of the valleys, with most of your party, that mitigates the LOS Issue... Ham Radios have both VHF & UHF Frequencies, but they require an FCC License,... The Tech Test is 30 Questions of which you need 70% Right to Pass, and you can memorize the answers in a week of study and self-testing.... With your crowd, you could make it a Family Project, and be licensed in no time at all... Both Alaska Chick & I are Hams, and we both have Highend 5 Watt Dual band Kenwood Handheld Radios, that have APRS features and GPS builtin.. and the Mobile Radio in our 2006 White Toyota 4X4 Pickup Truck has a 50 Watt Kenwood Dual band Radio with an APRS AvMap VI Screen that displays the location of any other APRS equipped Radio that is on the same frequency as the Mobile Radio. We use our own UHF APRS Frequency when we are traveling and seperated.. When we are together and traveling we use the Ham standard VHF APRS Frequency... These Kenwood Radios are very versitile, and have programmable memories that can accomodate hundreds of Frequencies from many different Radio Services... Marine, Ham, FRS/GMRS, MURS, and Part 90.. All in one radio...
     
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  19. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid Frugal Secret Squirrel Site Supporter++

    Impressive. I can safely say technology has improved significantly, since I first got my amateur radio Kilo Bravo 4 call, back in the early 80's.
     
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  20. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

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