Walkie talkies

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Wanting to get a set or two of basic walkie talkies for my wife and I to communicate with. Ideally from Longview to battleground, but that’s ham radio territory and I know she won’t want to do that. And o don’t have a computer to program my baofeng. I want something that will atleast communicate across Longview, the further the better though. What do you guys recommend? I’ve been looking at the midland 36 mile radios.
 
I'm a big fan of the Midland GTX series. I have several and give them to my neighbors as I come across them for emergency comms. Yes, maybe 36 miles from two mountain tops on a clear day. In reality, expect two miles without any terrain features or foliage to soak up the signal. That goes the same for any of brand the GMRS hand held radios that boast the same talk distance. While they are good radios for short, practical distances, that 36 mile transmit claim is just for marketing.

Recently though the FCC has changed the rules regarding GMRS/FRS. You can now transmit up to 50 watts. Good luck finding that in a handheld but Midland has their Micro Mobile line of vehicle radios that will reach out and touch someone. I have one of their 40 watt GMRS radios in my vehicle. BaofengTech also has a nice GMRS mobile radio which is also repeater capable. Just get their suggested Nagoya antenna ( at the very least) to go with it.
Links:
myGMRS.com - GMRS Repeater Directory (a list of all of the GMRS repeaters)

Keep in mind that you will need a GMRS license from the FCC. It runs about $70, covers the whole "family" and is good for ten years. No exam, just pay online. Easy peasy.
Yes, your Baofeng handheld will work on the GMRS frequencies but these radios are only certified for 2M/70CM ham bands by the FCC. They are not certified to transmit on any other frequencies.
GMRS is easy to use and versatile. There's no protocols needed for it other than general radio etiquette.
Some people might also suggest looking at the MURS bands. MURS was a block of frequencies set aside for business but the FCC opened them up to the general public. There is no license required but you won't get the range that higher watt GMRS radios will give you nor the amount of easily switchable channels.

Edit: I also have a ham radio license. Ham repeaters work well and there is a an intertie in the PNW that will let you cover great distance. However, all parties need to be licensed to take advantage of that. Thus my recommendation for going GMRS. Sometimes I actually prefer GMRS over ham. GMRS is really underappreciated and overlooked IMHO.
 
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midlands 36mile :s0140: radio under perfect conditions over unobstructed water may on occasion be able to communicate 36 miles. under other conditions maybe less than a mile. remember most radio communication is line of sight.
Quality hand held 2M ham radios with decent antenna's may I replete may reliably reach much further. Across town, maybe, depends on terrain and obstructions. If you can hit a repeater much further. In a time of need hopefully the repeater would still be operational when you needed it. Typically both handhelds need to hit the same repeater for simple operation.
a system that would have a better chance of meeting your desire are a pair of mobile (car or base mounted) radios with good antennas. with these you may I repeat may be able to talk city to city as you desire however more than likely even with this setup you would need to be able to hit a centrally located repeater.

without licensed ham communications a cell phone would be the best bet.

for better local information I'd suggest contacting your local ham operator's, the following links may help.
link1
link2
73

Also what cigars said :) good info
 
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I am majorly impressed by the Baofeng 888’s that are on amazon. 6 pack for about $50 or so, rechargeable bases, etc. They are a lot of practical use for the money.

In the city I’ve tested them to reach more than a mile in residential neighborhoods. Haven't fully tested their limits but they convinced me they were good enough. In any type of serious situation I plan to never be that far from “my group” anyway. If cell communication went dead, the radios would be a quick and easy method. The battery lasts for several days on a charge. You can buy different battery options online. They can be hooked up to a helmet comms rig so I can total nerd out with ballistic helmet comms If I wanted to that port into the ear pro and push to talk mic. My wife has been victim of me testing that out many times and being on the other end of the radio, “over.”

At property a couple hours east in the hills and woods I’ve tested the same radio for more than a mile before a big hill got in the way. LOS being the major disruptor. As long as you know their limitations, they work fine. Beyond communication, it seems a majorly important plan for emergencies is a pre-strategized and coordinated plan for where to meet during XYZ, and possibly having a few alternate locations in the event of XYZ. Then having each person be prepared to get there accordingly.

I recently had my wife switch jobs away from downtown. Of the many reasons why, 1 of them was because I wanted to avoid being that guy on the news gunning down rioters trying to attack him in his car while he was grabbing his wife from work downtown during a riot when the busses stop running.
 

ATCclears

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@PNWPrepper I concur with @cigars recommendation on looking at GMRS. You want:
  • The FCC license for your family. No testing required.
  • 50-watt units in your vehicles, preferably programmable and able to be programmed for one or more repeaters.
  • Good antennas. The antenna makes a HUGE difference.

I don't see any GMRS repeaters North of Battleground. The best might be this one out of Portland, which should still give you some coverage North of Battleground. Note the map and coverage estimates are approximate.
 

OldTengu

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I am majorly impressed by the Baofeng 888’s that are on amazon. 6 pack for about $50 or so, rechargeable bases, etc. They are a lot of practical use for the money.

In the city I’ve tested them to reach more than a mile in residential neighborhoods. Haven't fully tested their limits but they convinced me they were good enough. In any type of serious situation I plan to never be that far from “my group” anyway. If cell communication went dead, the radios would be a quick and easy method. The battery lasts for several days on a charge. You can buy different battery options online. They can be hooked up to a helmet comms rig so I can total nerd out with ballistic helmet comms If I wanted to that port into the ear pro and push to talk mic. My wife has been victim of me testing that out many times and being on the other end of the radio, “over.”

At property a couple hours east in the hills and woods I’ve tested the same radio for more than a mile before a big hill got in the way. LOS being the major disruptor. As long as you know their limitations, they work fine. Beyond communication, it seems a majorly important plan for emergencies is a pre-strategized and coordinated plan for where to meet during XYZ, and possibly having a few alternate locations in the event of XYZ. Then having each person be prepared to get there accordingly.

I recently had my wife switch jobs away from downtown. Of the many reasons why, 1 of them was because I wanted to avoid being that guy on the news gunning down rioters trying to attack him in his car while he was grabbing his wife from work downtown during a riot when the busses stop running.
A buddy of mine and I tested these out a while back when I bought some. I was at Washington park, top of the hill and could see downtown, him near Andy and back on mlk. He could hear me fine, but not the other way around. They do have a chirp function, I believe, so it would be possible to communicate using Morse as well.
 

HaveGun

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Whatever model this is, don't buy it...

IMG_20201031_132135235.jpg

I bought two of these that came with a charging base a few years ago.

Never used them until earlier this summer for a road trip to Seattle. Charged them up overnight and then headed out on a 600-mile one day trip to Sea-Tac and back.

Worked great between the two vehicles as long as we could see each other. Then the batteries died around Vantage. Used them maybe a dozen times before then. They lasted about three hours with minimal use on a full charge.

So we stopped in Ellensburg to buy AAA batteries and couldn't get the compartment open without pliers and broke one of the clips off. :eek:

Then me and the other vehicle got separated in traffic on the 405. Maybe half a mile, and lost all communication.

Total garbage.
 

clearconscience

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Whatever model this is, don't buy it...

View attachment 770326

I bought two of these that came with a charging base a few years ago.

Never used them until earlier this summer for a road trip to Seattle. Charged them up overnight and then headed out on a 600-mile one day trip to Sea-Tac and back.

Worked great between the two vehicles as long as we could see each other. Then the batteries died around Vantage. Used them maybe a dozen times before then. They lasted about three hours with minimal use on a full charge.

So we stopped in Ellensburg to buy AAA batteries and couldn't get the compartment open without pliers and broke one of the clips off. :eek:

Then me and the other vehicle got separated in traffic on the 405. Maybe half a mile, and lost all communication.

Total garbage.
I have a set of those. In the PNW they work if in line of sight. Barely. I used them hunting near St Helens and never could reach each other .

I know nothing of radios or HAM,
What about a CB? I remember them being used all the time when I was a kid but I’m completely ignorant to what it all means
 

OldTengu

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I have a set of those. In the PNW they work if in line of sight. Barely. I used them hunting near St Helens and never could reach each other .

I know nothing of radios or HAM,
What about a CB? I remember them being used all the time when I was a kid but I’m completely ignorant to what it all means
Cb is also good. Longer range than most walkies. Can also be had in handheld. I have a uniden one. Limited by cover, so if you can, get an external antenna for your car if you need.
 

HaveGun

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I bought and installed a Uniden CB in my SUV this summer for communicating with logging trucks. I tuned the antennae and it seems to work pretty well. Maybe 2-miles range in farmland and about a little less than that in the woods.
 
Whatever model this is, don't buy it...

View attachment 770326

I bought two of these that came with a charging base a few years ago.

Never used them until earlier this summer for a road trip to Seattle. Charged them up overnight and then headed out on a 600-mile one day trip to Sea-Tac and back.

Worked great between the two vehicles as long as we could see each other. Then the batteries died around Vantage. Used them maybe a dozen times before then. They lasted about three hours with minimal use on a full charge.

So we stopped in Ellensburg to buy AAA batteries and couldn't get the compartment open without pliers and broke one of the clips off. :eek:

Then me and the other vehicle got separated in traffic on the 405. Maybe half a mile, and lost all communication.

Total garbage.
Go with the Midland GTX series instead. They will perfom better, are more rugged and can take AA batteries as well.
 
What do you guys recommend for a handheld GMRS? Or is that even a thing? I will probably go with the midland GTX and a GMRS.
This one from baofengtech is repeater ready. For regular GMRS check out the GXT series from midlandusa.com. The GTX series is GMRS. Check out reviews for GMRS radios at www.miklor.com/GMRS.

 

XoXSciFiGuy

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I have a Baofeng handheld ham unit, and I'm studying for the license through a book I bought at Amazon. But the GMRS radio really is the way to go if you want some range but don't want the hassle of studying for the ham license, and are willing to just pay some money to use them.

One BIG thing you can do to increase your range is to upgrade your antenna. A GMRS will actually transmit/receive from a pretty good distance, but not so much with a stock antenna. You need a better antenna to get the range out of them. Also...if you have a base unit in your car or home, you can pick up and receive much better if the other person is running a handheld. They can hear YOU because you are putting out a stronger signal. You can hear THEM because you have a more powerful base unit. I figured that out long ago during the old CB band days.

Another option is to pick up one of those tri-power (2/4/8 watts) ham radios and only program in transmissions to the legal GMRS frequencies, and leave all the others set to scan/receive only. That way you won't be violating FCC rules by transmitting over those freqs without a ham license. Pack an upgraded antenna onto one of those, and you will extend your range on that handheld even further. You can also NAME the channels when you program using Chirp, which is a very cool thing. "Sally Main," "Sally2", for example, could be the names of your wife's main frequency, and a secondary one. Just scroll down and hit the transmit button.

If you don't want to go the base station/car mounted route, buy yourself a PAIR of those tri-powers and do what I suggested on the freqs. The two most popular upgrades for these radios is a better antenna and a bigger battery. Probably one of the best deals is to pick up TWO of these type Baofengs, because they already have the upgraded antenna. But you can shop around, and you should. The FCC says you aren't supposed to go over five watts on handhelds, but the reality is that they don't enforce that rule, or very rarely. But they WILL come after you if you aren't ham licensed. A snowmobile club found that out a while back when a couple of FCC guys showed up at the Snow Park and just waited for them to return. Then came the big fines.

One advantage to going ham, but disabling transmission of freqs you should not be on is this: If you ever decide to break down and get a ham license...you will be all set with the radios. Meanwhile, you can still scan/monitor those channels...and in a REAL emergency...you are allowed to use one if there is no other way to get help. EMERGENCY being the key word here. A real one.

From the Portland, OR newspaper article:
"In September 2017, Baofeng introduced a firmware change, and units purchased today will transmit on all 30 GMRS channels. It has the ability to transmit on any GMRS channel including GMRS repeaters. It can receive VHF/UHF ham, public service, NOAA, and FM broadcasts. It has a replaceable antenna..."
There are a literal TON of different antennas for these Baofengs, from the modest to the outright ridiculous. But THIS ONE, the genuine Nagoya RETRACTABLE at 16" is probably the best all-around range extender for these radios. They are NOT made in China, but Taiwan. Most of the others aren't retractable and can be a real hassle in a vehicle. You get what you pay for, though. They cost twenty bucks each. Couple them with a pair a UV5R's and you can reach out and touch someone from a pretty good distance. Using the stock batteries that come with the UV5R, you can still get all that and spend less than a hundred bucks. You can always upgrade your batteries. Or you can go for a cheaper pair of 2/4/8 tri powers WITHOUT the upgraded antennas and just pick up two of those Nagoyas. Your total cost will still be less than $150.

If you want to go The Full Monty, pick up two of THESE tri-power Baofengs for $140 total. (bigger battery and SOMEWHAT upgraded antenna) and then stick two of those Nagoya antennas on them. This will cost you about $180 total but you will be set pretty good.
 
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SUPER X

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Wanting to get a set or two of basic walkie talkies for my wife and I to communicate with. Ideally from Longview to battleground, but that’s ham radio territory and I know she won’t want to do that. And o don’t have a computer to program my baofeng. I want something that will atleast communicate across Longview, the further the better though. What do you guys recommend? I’ve been looking at the midland 36 mile radios.
CB ?
 

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