I am currently a licensed Amateur with a General Class license. At the moment I do not have a GMRS license. I am turning to this forum for some information regarding products for general public use. Let me give a little information.
Last November 8th, a spark from arching 15Kw power lines set dry grasses afire in the location of Pulga along the Feather River. Those sparks were fanned by 50 mph winds that raced up the ravine toward the town of Paradise. Within the next several hours the fire spread nearly 20 miles destroying a whole town in its wake.
A fellow ham was up in Paradise after the fire doing his day job and came to the realization that all the communities along the Western Slope of the Sierra faced the same disasterous dangers. The other realization was that the fire moved so quickly that all communications were destroyed before the population could be notified to evacuate. Cell towers, Land lines, internet...all of it was rendered useless not only in the area of the fire, but throughout Butte County.
There are white papers out there that detail plans for neighborhoods and communities to set up Neighborhood Radio Watches. This would use layers of FRS as well as GMRS with licensed amateurs monitoring to provide needed two way information. It is a daunting task.
Here is why I come to this forum. After reviewing all the equipment available on sites like amazon and such, I am nowhere closer to understanding which radios would be useful for the general public.
At best, I imagine that a few FRS radios would be available in a neighborhood, but those have inherent TX/RX limitations in hilly and treed terrain. I would hope that at least one person in the neighborhood would have GMRS to be able to transmit/relay needs as well as RX information regarding road closures and escape routes.
As for mobiles? yeah it would be nice, but think about it...most folks, if at all are going to grab a blister pack from Wally world and be done with it and when the time comes, not know how to operate it.
So, here is my question: What several FRS radios would be recommended as the most bang for the buck. As for GMRS H/Ts the same question applies.
As for mobiles, I imagine the Midland MX115 with its 15 watts and a decent antenna would provide adequate range.
At the moment, there are no repeaters available in Butte County that I am aware of, or there could be one, but it does not cover all the needed areas of the county....so at the moment, we are talking about FRS hand helds and GMRS handhelds.
I am not looking for just one model, but perhaps several models that the public can choose from I don't want to play favorites with one brand or another.
I am aware of the particular quality problems with the CCRs. I don't know if some of the other brand names suffer the same problems or not.
I think what I hope to accomplish is a list of models and for use amatuers to take them to the field to test in real life scenarios to see what does what and what can be expected with both FRS and GMRS.
If you can give reviews on FRS, that would be helpful as I expect most in the general public would go that direction, not wanting to spend the (low) dollars it would take to get the GMRS license. But I would also like GMRS HT reviews as there will be a few that will go that direction. As for mobiles. If there are other models besides the Midland MX 115 that are comparable, I would like that information too, in case I missed it in my research
Thanks to all here on the board, and when I get my GMRS license, I will be back with more questions. Until then, I will reply on this thread.