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Walkie Talkies

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Joy12, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. Joy12

    Joy12 Monkey

    Hi everyone,

    I was just wondering, I'm going out hiking a lot and realized the other day as one of our group got a sprained ankle that we often go into area where we have no cell phone reception at all and that we really have no way of communicating with the outside world if something goes wrong.

    I was thinking of investing in a walkie talkie, but I'm not sure where to start. What can you recommend an absolute newbie like myself for a simple, but effective handset?
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Two immediate options come to mind.
    The NEXTEL IDEN phones work nicely, they are dead cheap, and they can be private. You don't need to hear every kid for miles, or them hear you. They can be used direct from one unit to another, or in squad function so everyone hears everyone (of your group)
    Lot of 10 Unlocked Motorola i335 Nextel Grid Telus Hot PTT iDEN Cell Phone | eBay
    This is just for example, keep your eyes open, and much better deals pop up from time to time.
    Second option. At least one of your group (more is better) should get a ham licence, and carry a hand held ham radio. Mine is about the size of a deck of cards, and is programmed to hit every local repeater, giving it a much larger range, and the ability to call for help from the outside world.
    I would also suggest a solar charger capable of charging whatever type you choose.
    My solar charger has a USB output, and my ham radio charges USB.
    Welcome to the monkey tree.

    I would suggest you speak with @BTPost about comms and I'm sure others would also have ideas for you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2015
    Hanzo, Tully Mars, sec_monkey and 2 others like this.
  3. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Moderator Moderator Site Supporter++

    Hello @Joy12 welcome to the monkey. Good question. What @kellory said plus more comms people will be on later.
  4. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey++

    Newbie is OK. No one here will laugh at you because you didn't know something. We're all here to learn and share info.

    While many here are knowledgeable on the subject and active HAMS, BT Post is the COMMS guy. He's been doing that stuff for years. Rumor has it that there's a radio surgically implanted in his right hand :D.
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    The IDEN units are the answer for inter group comms. Cheap and easy, and worthless for comms outside the group. Getting help in an area where cell phones don't work is another problem entirely. There's also no guarantee that a handheld (or any other) ham radio would be in range of a repeater to get the word out. The real answer lies in having someone know where you are going, when and where to look for you, backed up by one of the group that can find a place where the phones or radios work.

    With the ham transceivers, you must be licensed. HOWEVER, if it's a real emergency, there are allowances for that in the regulations.

    Welcome aboard, Joy.
    Hanzo, Tully Mars, sec_monkey and 2 others like this.
  6. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    If you are regularly in backwoods areas outside of cell phone coverage and outside ham radio repeater coverage, then you have at least five options that come to my mind for summoning help should an emergency arise:
    1. Satellite personal locator/tracker beacons like SPOT
    2. Satellite messenger (text messages)
    PLBs and Satellite Messengers: How to Choose - REI Expert Advice
    3. Get a ham license and then two options open where you can ask other hams you contact to summon help for you:
    A. Pack a small HF ham radio like a Yaesu FM-817 and a portable wire antenna you can string between trees
    B. Pack a 2 Meter radio with a portable directional antenna such as an Elk antenna to hit an amateur satellite.
    These both require study/training, some experience and practice.
    4. Buy a satellite phone (expensive for unit and subscription to service)

    Last edited: Sep 9, 2015
  7. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I use sat phones a good bit and the one over-whelming factor that I have noticed is that they never work when you really need them. It is Murphy's Law of comms, break a leg and cloud cover, solar flares, and magnetic deviation all unite to cheer your misery on.
    Hanzo and sec_monkey like this.
  8. hitchcock4

    hitchcock4 Monkey

    Welcome @Joy12 !
    HAM: I have a Baofeng BF-F9 V2+ from eBay, but you can also get a Baofeng UV-5R V2+ for about $35. As others have said, you do need a Amateur Radio license but in emergency situations it could be used. Assuming that you want to contact someone outside the area, you would need to see if their is a repeater that is "close" to the area that you would be transmitting from. These are very small and light-weight. If interested in these, I can mention a seller on eBay that I trust and have purchased from. I am pretty new to ham radio and found these perfect for me.

    IDEN: don't have these but they work fine away from civilization. See above on the recommendations.

    Joy, you will notice that no one thus far has recommended any type of FRS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Radio_Service .
    This is for at least 2 reasons that I am aware of. First, many advertise that they can go 2 to 5 miles, when in reality you will get 0.25 to 1 mile (and the 1 mile is under good conditions). So limited range. Secondly, even though you can choose different channels, basically everyone nearby could talk over you or hear you conversation. So if you want to be private, go with the IDEN phones that others have mentioned.
    Hanzo likes this.
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    There is an app for smart phones called Repeater Directory " it can tell you what repeaters are near you at any time you do have cell service. I currently have 5 repeaters within 5 miles of me.
    Hanzo likes this.
  10. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    The key thing for everyone to note in the original post is
    IDEN, walkie talkies, FRS, etc. are all means of talking locally (like a few miles or less) with other people equipped with the same or similar equipment and likely part of your party. Those may be useful but don't address the fundamental problem Joy12 articulates in connecting with the "outside world," meaning connecting to 911, SAR, USFS or other help not affiliated with his group and not in his local vicinity when they have an injury or problem while recreating in the wilds well away from cell towers and repeaters.
  11. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Take a look at a repeater map. There are a great number of repeaters. In my AO, I would have at least one no matter where I went.
  12. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    First off, Welcome @Joy12 ! You will find a wealth of information available to you here and large group of people that hand out their wisdom willingly, as you may have gathered from the responses posted here.
    Ganado likes this.
  13. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Howdy @Joy12 Welcome to the Monkey Tree..... Lots of Great replies here, to your question..... I will answer you, here, and it will be a Repeat of what the others have already said, mostly.....
    1. For Outside Help, the easiest is a Tech Ham License and a HandHeld VHF/UHF Radio..... The test, required to get a Ham License is fairly easy. (Ten Year Olds can do it) No Morse Code Required, 30 Questions, Multiple Guess, and you only need 75% to pass. There are plenty of OnLine Study Guides, with Practice Tests, and I am sure you can find a VE (Volunteer Examiner) in your area, to Admin the test when you are ready.
    2. If you are just NOT up to that, then I recommend that you get a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) or Spot Transponder. These are small, light, little Boxes, that Send out a SOS/MayDay Call with your Location, via the worldwide SAT Based Emergency Locator Network. Just push the Button, and the SAR Folks, responsible for the Area, you are in, are contacted, and a SAR Event is initiated, ANYWHERE in the World.
    All the rest of the suggestions above are good information, but not real helpful, for your particular Issue.
    Altoidfishfins, Ganado and Yard Dart like this.
  14. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Pardon my ignorance, @kellory, but how does that help you with no coverage?
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Forewarned is forearmed. Before you go hiking, list all local repeaters and their freqs. That way you can call any repeater on your list even when the phone service is out of range. Or, do as I do. Pull up the list of local repeaters and do a screen shot. That captures the repeaters and their freqs for off line use as a pic.
    Hanzo likes this.
  16. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    It only helps if you are in range of a repeater. Finding out which repeaters are in range is a field exercise. Use the locations given to program the handheld with ALL of those that MAY be in range of where you are, and use the one that responds when you key up. It very well may be that you won't know ahead of time.
    Hanzo likes this.
  17. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Or as I captured the monkey contact list. As a screenshot, so I have it with me, in case of need. Screenshot_2014-09-17-19-31-51.
  18. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Then you are completely lost, without a clue to where you are. I would show a screen shot from the map section of the Directory listed above, but it would violate OPSEC it has me centered to the tee. And since a "hike" is a day thing. Or at most two, (not backpacking) it will be local or will have a known starting point.
    I could not walk out of radio range in a month, and likely more. There are too many repeaters to not be in range of at least one. Each area is unique, but the repeaters locations are known. The starting point is known, you could not walk far enough to get out of range, so there is no reason not to know where you are, or what repeaters are local. The app gives range , map, and freqs.
  19. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    And so, there you are, lost or not, with a "broken leg" and needing to call for assistance --. Now, you may or may not be able to walk out of range of a repeater in your AO. I can tell you that in this area, it is quite possible to be out of range of one, but not (necessarily) another. Pays to have them programmed in, says me, and maybe me only. To know which will work, it's as I said, field work.
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Which is what I said in the first place! Know what repeaters are in the area you will be, program them in. (Forewarn is forearmed) That is what the app is for. (So you have a clue where they are, the freqs needed.
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