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Best budget mobile setup?


Guest Crazytimme
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Guest Crazytimme

While I try to wait out the FCC price drop, hoping it happens in the next month,  I have a question.

I am looking to set up 2 mobile GRMS radios,  They will be used initially for my family's  move to  from WA to MT as we will be doing it several trips and towing and there are a lot of deal cell spots along the way.  Then after that when exploring back roads/off roading.  Plan on mostly simplex, only one current repeater in the area we are moving to, and its in the valley and up high.

What is suggestion for a radio, trying to keep costs down if possible

Retevis RA25 GRMS 20watt mobile radio (clean set up, 20Watts, but not sure if they recive any better then a cheap Chinese HT)

Wouxon KG-805G with hand mic and batter eliminator and external antenna (Seems like it would rx the best, and likely have the cleanest tx, but limited on power and most expensive)

cheaper Chines GMRS HT hooked to a Boafeng/retevis Amp set up as a mobile radio. (Would give me 20watts, easy to program, and allow me to run the HT without car power, and also act as a back up HT when out in the backcountry.  Just not sure how well the Amps work)

Open to other suggestions.

 

 

 

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Did not know about the RA25 - it's probably on par with CCR performance but that's the cheapest 'new' mobile I've seen for GMRS yet. Not a huge fan of the cheap stuff, they have their use for sure, but especially with mobile antennas where you're getting a bit more gain receiver overload becomes pretty apparent and can make it almost unusable in a crowded environment. Receiver is more important than your transmit - and it's the first thing manufacturers cheap out on. I am glad to see more consumer end radios entering the market on a daily basis though.

FYI those B-tech/Baofeng mobile amps are not legal for GMRS since they lack Part 95 certification.

Have you looked into getting a commercial radio, programming cable and software? If you hunt eBay you can pick up a Kenwood TK-880 for almost nothing and they're pretty easy to program with the KPG-49D software. Maybe a bit more than you want to chew off right off the bat; but it'd get you some excellent quality hardware for a cheap price, even if it is used.

Edited by JeepCrawler98
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The Retevis RA25 appears to be the same radio as the Anytone AT-779UV, which is available in a GMRS version. The Retevis version is about $80 on their website at the moment, so it's probably the cheapest repeater compatible mobile radio available. I have the Anytone version, and am relatively satisfied with it. The Anytone came with a programming cable, but I don't know if the Retevis does.

There are much better mobile radios available, but generally not at this price point. Things I like about this model are the small size, decent output power (~20W), programmability and configurability, and the decent color screen, which is not too hard to read for my 50+ year old eyes.

The things I'm not crazy about are relatively minor. The radio has a dual watch function (like a Baofeng UV-5R), but I haven't figured out how to set it up for my preferences. It's probably something I can change with the programming software, but I haven't found that option yet. The other thing I would like to change, and it may happen someday, is that you can't program it with Chirp. I've used Chirp for many other radios, and since I'm familiar with it, I'd like to use it with this radio. So far, it doesn't work (for me, at least). The "factory" software isn't as user friendly, so I would rather not have to use it.

As for the receiver, I suspect that it's on par with most handheld CCRs, but it works well for me. With that said, I'm in an area with little radio traffic. For your travels, it would likely work well in those areas without cell reception, and most other areas, too. You could possibly encounter problems with the receiving capabilities in larger cities, if you're traveling through them. I haven't had mine in that environment, so I can't give a report on that.

Overall, I'd recommend this radio as a step up from the low-end Midland 5W micro-mobile units, especially considering that it hits a similar price point. You get programmability with it, and the ability to program it to use repeaters. You also get more power than a handheld radio, and this one comes with a hand mic.

About the only other thing you'll need is to add an external antenna, then you should be good to go. You can find inexpensive external antennas, so for two radios and two antennas, you can probably outfit both vehicles for less than $250. It would likely cost a bit more to go with the KG-805G, once you add external antennas, battery eliminators, and hand mics. For that, you may get a better receiver, but you also get lower output power.

 

 

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Guest Crazytimme

 

Few more questions:

would you say a quality HT(say older radio) with its better receiver using a mobile antenna, would be better then then a chinse mobile putting out higher watts.

I will look into the older Kenwood's, I did a quick search but one I came across it only look like it was Part 15, will the grandfathered in ones also say part 95, or do I need to search FCC number?

How good are the Midland 5watt radios?  I can get mxt105 for $75.  Are they about the same or better then other chinse radios?

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1 hour ago, Guest Crazytimme said:

 

Few more questions:

would you say a quality HT(say older radio) with its better receiver using a mobile antenna, would be better then then a chinse mobile putting out higher watts.

The Kenwood HT's I've had direct experience with are the following:

TK-370G-1

https://mra-raycom.com/wp-content/uploads/simple-file-list/Specifications/portables/TK-270G-370G-Product-Brochure.pdf

TK-3140

https://mra-raycom.com/wp-content/uploads/simple-file-list/Specifications/TK-3140-Product-Brochure.pdf

TK-3170

https://5.imimg.com/data5/MT/AL/MY-2136226/tk-3170-handheld-portable-walkie-talkie.pdf

TK-3173

http://www.comspecinc.com/PDF/TK-3173.pdf

TK-3180

https://pdfs.kenwoodproducts.com/10/TK-2180&3180Brochure.pdf

 

All are Part 95 certified. Either listed as "Part 95" or "Part 95A". The 95A was the older section for GMRS whereas the new one is Part 95E, same thing. It seems like the favorite is either the 3170 or 3173. Both use the same version of the programming software and will use the cheap Baofeng type Chinese radio programming cable and accessories like speaker microphones. The other two radios also use the same plugin accessories and programming cable too.

The 3140, 3170 and 3173 all use the same type battery pack and charger so if you get the different models at least you can share them saving some money.

The trick is find one of the above in good condition for a reasonable price. Don't forget you will likely need an antenna, new battery pack and charger too.

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When we moved we just used a pair of decent FRS radios and they worked quite well.

The key is to keep the truck behind the car because the car has a back window but the truck has a metal "wall" behind the cab.  I guess some trucks have a fiberglass box but not too many.  Most people would instinctively put the truck in front but that's backwards for radio purposes.  Better to have reliable communication than to be able to see it.

Even if you get a mobile radio you can not put a mag mount on top of the truck box which is probably aluminum.  So you'll still have a problem there.

Wouxun KG805G GMRS hand held radios can connect to external antennas and also can be used with a speaker mic.  So that's sort of an in between option.  That's what we use now when we take the camper van and the car.  We put a mag mount on the van since is does not have a lot of windows.

Vince

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I just ordered three TK880 commercial radios. 
WQas about $100 for all three, 25 watts. 

The positive side is Commercial radios are built like tanks. 
So they will be programmed for GMRS and a few repeaters. 
My Repeater is a Kenwood TK720R I think it is, 
I love the sound of it. PErfect modulation, and 
great reception.... 
So just a thought, if you're looking at a mobile setup. 
 

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