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Back Up Family Comms Plan via Midland MTX400's

Midland MTX400 Communication Plan Repeaters DFW Simplex Range

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#1 dvespucci

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 01:19 PM

Hi Everyone,

 

I'm relatively new to the site. I have been searching older threads and haven't seen my exact question answered so here it goes:

 

I am hoping to set up a backup communications system so in the event of an emergency, I will be able to communicate with my parents who live about 12 miles away and my in laws who live about 16 miles away. We are all in northern Dallas area suburbs, in a highly developed, and fairly flat area.

 

I have my technician license and GMRS. I haven't done much with either. That will change. But for now, it is what it is. A fellow CERT member programmed my BaoFeng UV5R hand held. If it weren't for that I would have zero experience w/ HAM. Thanks to his assistance I have been listening to several DFW repeaters, and jumped in on a couple of CERT nets.

 

It looks like we have several GMRS repeaters in the area, some of which could potentially cover an area that should reach all 3 households.

 

The Baofeng is the only radio I have at present. From what I've read on these threads, I should not be using that for GMRS bands. Good to know!

 

My family members have zero chance of getting a technician license, otherwise our distances would not be an issue. My reading of GMRS rules indicate they could probably be covered under my license but just to make sure there are no issues, I plan to pay for each house to get their own GMRS license.

 

I also plan to buy each house their own radio. I'm leaning toward the Midland MTX400.

 

My hope is that with these fairly powerful radios (40 watts), and some decent antennas we will all be able to communicate in an emergency via repeaters, and hopefully via simplex.

 

So I guess what I'm hoping to get from posting is some ideas from some of you who are much more experienced then me on the feasibility of my plan. Does anyone have any experience getting these newer midland radios to link up with repeaters? Is it complicated? Does anyone have any experience using  MTX400 radios for simplex communications in a comparable environment? If so what kind of range can I expect? I don't know if I should expect 3 miles or 20. Any suggestions on an affordable off the shelf antennae that will work well but be easy to set up?

 

2 new licenses, 3 radios, and 3 decent antennas is a significant investment for me. Any recommendations on cheaper or more importantly better radios to meet my objective?

 

Simplicity is the name of the game here. I am pretty new to the radio world, and my family members know even less than I do. Any ideas you could pass along would be much appreciated!!!



#2 n4gix

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Posted 20 September 2017 - 02:49 PM

First of all, thanks for joining and asking questions! ;)

Your existing GMRS license will cover all of your family members: parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, inlaws, and even outlaws... <just kidding on the latter>

If you are interested only in base comms between houses, the Midland (w/power supply), and an antenna ~20' elevation should do the task well even in simplex mode.

You might wish to look at the WLN-CD1 portable radios available from Amazon and elsewhere. For $15 each, they are prefect for repeater coms, or local simplex use. They are perfect for younger children as well.
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#3 skipwalton

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 09:31 AM

I have the Midland 115 for mobile use. It works great and I hit a repeater that is more than 40 miles from my house here in NE Georgia. That being said, I also use a BTECH V1 hand held that hits that same repeater. I lived in Corinth about 10 years ago, so I know the topography of the area. What you plan on using should work great. I would suggest not using the repeaters. Pick a channel that all of you could meet on. Set up a PL tone for all the radios. Don't use 141.3 as that seems to be one that is favored for most folks. For antennas go to the website " antennafarm". I have not bought from them, but their reputation is very, very good. If any of your stations have HOA that prohibits outside antennas, then Antennafarm has something that can be used in a attic space.


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#4 Logan5

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 03:08 PM

what you need is an elevated outdoor antenna at each site. 16 miles is easy over flat topography with each site using an elevate antenna.  you will get more for your money upgrading your A.S.S. than a higher power radio.


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#5 JohnE

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 07:20 PM

PM sent

w/that in mind I did a quick mapping. at 30' at your location and 20' at the other 2 unknown locations.

based on the 40W radio as mentioned w/50' of cable at 1.5 dB of loss and a 5 dBd omni antenna.

terrain elevations vary as much as 200'+ , you being the hole in the donut. you might just get away w/it but the mapping isn't fool proof, its just a rough esimate.


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#6 dvespucci

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 04:44 PM

Thanks N4gix. I checked out those little radios, they look fantastic. I couldn't believe the cost. I will have to get my hands on some of those!

 

Thanks skipwalton. That Midland 115 is awfully tempting. At the moment I think they about $100 cheaper. I may have to get one of those in the mix, maybe for my truck.

 

JohnE, thanks for the info. I honestly am unaware of elevations, even at my house. But I don't have an HOA and don't have many restrictions from the city. I should be able to throw something up at least at 30 feet. I don't think the other two families would have too much trouble hitting 20 ft if they are able to mount something to their house. I doubt their HOA's would allow a stand alone tower, and they might want one even if they were allowed.

 

My parents live about 12 miles from us. It might even be less than that. My in laws live another 4 or 5 miles past them. So it sounds like worst case scenario, my parents should easily be able to hit both houses and serve as a relay.

 

It sounds like I need to put a little more thought into the antennae portion of this plan. I would be much happier not relying on repeaters to make this happen. It sounds like I have a fighting chance. Thank you all for the feedback, I appreciate it!!!



#7 JohnE

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 05:10 PM

google earth is your friend.

you can map point to point save and look at elevation detail in between 2 points.


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