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Fun topic - SHTF communications plans and equipment?


Lscott
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I guess it really depends on the area. Most of the areas I work in the RACES/ARES groups get limited funds from the county. Instead of using it to get good equipment they prefer cheap with quantity. When the hardline connector cost more than the antenna on the end of the 1 5/8" hardline you should question your goal. JMHO. 

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I have experienced the scrounging, budget conscious builds as well, mostly when making  portable repeater "flyaway" kits during hurricanes: Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005. I also swore that I would never buy a Chinese Baofeng radio, untill all of my Yaesu, Icom, and Kenwood amateur, and Motorola and Harris commercial radios failed and parts were no longer available. Then I went to work at Zetron, a division of the JVC/Kenwood Group at that time. There was EF Johnson, Viking, and some interest in Tait, with affiliation with Harris for a few months, until they went of to find another affiliate to collaborate with. Icom America was right across the street. New Zetron engineers with little to no radio background (Zetron also makes call taking systems for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP's) and SCADA equipment as well), often bought Baofeng radios to get into the radio hobby. Then they would buy something better once that radio failed, or they realized it performed like a cheap radio. This appears to be happening again now, and even with those on this site, more are coming into the fold due to cheaper hardware, even if it may not last. This state EOC could have bought slightly used XPR4500 mobiles, one VHF and another UHF (about $600) instead of buying the $250 DB25-D Anytone, and maybe they will at some point. 

Another issue I have experienced, was an Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) site that put all Motorola radios in a van as a mobile communications suite /  radio van. However, they also put the same 800 MHz antennas on the roof, connected to 800 MHz radios, as well as the VHF and UHF radios. They spent the money on great hardware, but messed up the final execution. In the end, anything is better than nothing, but I will strongly recommend that if life safety is involved, spend the money and do it right. If it is for fun and hobby use, do whatever you want.

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In my area, I recall when Cert (Community Emergency Response Teams) bought blister pack Motorola Talkabout FRS/GMRS radios, and taught people how to use them in their community, along with having a survival (then a 72 hour kit). I now see many Baofeng radios, and dollar store or thrifty survival kit items, of course new in the wrapper. My inject here is to go camping, or without power for a day, and see how the gear works. Can you stay warm, hydrated, fed, and sane. The local public utility replaced a transformer and there was a known 2 hour outage, and one neighbor of mine ran a generator the entire time to watch football. (No health issues or medical devices that need power, just wanted that TV). I know people that need that television, or latte, and any interruption could be a problem for their survival.

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7 hours ago, kb2ztx said:

I just had this conversation with a EOC director about the amount of CCR junk in boxes. He stated thats what the ham guys wanted. The county spent alot of money on hardline and installs for the ham club to order and request a $60 antenna on the top of the tower. Its sad that hams are that cheap and they wonder why more and more they are shoved out of any large incident. Sorry your CCR isn't going to work better than my APX8000 in an emergency....

LMAO, hardline with a 60 dollar antenna... oh well...

I think this pretty much sums it all up. 60 dollar antenna might work well for the first 3 months of use, as I've tried over a dozen of various grade antennas on my tower.... most of the ham radio stuff tends to fall apart after the first winter with heavy snow, solders go dull, break, water ingestion sends the SWR through the roof... in fact, most of the CCR made antennas are just that... a problem waiting to happen. You might get lucky if you live in a nice dry part of the Earth, but here in WI? the only antennas that have lasted were not cheap, and not made in CCR land.

Its easy to understand not everyone has the budget for an APX8000, heck I can't afford to operate a fleet of those, but there are plenty of good radios around that aren't cheap pieces of substandard equipment that will work way better than CCRs when things get rough.

 

G.

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4 hours ago, Lscott said:

I guess what does it mean by “a lot of money”? A lot of Hams are involved with professional communications and know the difference in performance between a CCR and commercial grade equipment. You give them a $50K budget you’ll get your APX radios. You give them $500 you get Ham swap “specials”.

I have a Ham buddy who is involved with commercial communications as a radio tech for a local city’s transportation department. He was one of the volunteers who worked on a mobile communications truck.

The truck was an old donated electric utility service one. A ground of volunteers completely refurbished it and built it with little money from the city that wanted it. They had to scrounge around for the best equipment they could find, or donated themselves, with the budget they had to work with.

Another buddy just put up a UHF repeater. He spent $300, out of his own pocket, just on a used multi-bay commercial grade high gain antenna. Then add in the cost for the hard line, Kenwood repeater, cavity filters, controls etc. it gets expensive very quick even buying used.

I disgress with the budget argument, b/c I was in the same boat as the $500... which is how I ended up racking a large CCR collection... only to realize I wasted my budget in useless equipment.

500 dollars could get you several XPR Gen1 radios... and in the past you could've gotten x2 XPR7550 (non e) variants too for 500. So you wait until next budget is available, you get another two for 500... etc.... and so on so forth. Its called time budget too, given more time the budget can be increased. Its a tradeoff how soon you want it, how much you can spend and how far do you want your light to shine.

In regards to scrounging for parts, or your friend who just put up an UHF repeater: Most of the people who have walked the path know very well the costs of scrounging for parts, forking every $$$ out your own pocket, etc... but then, because I want my money to count, I think its wise not to waste it in substandard equipment...

Things do get expensive quick when they are worth it... this applies to pretty much everything in this life worth doing. It seems like we (myself included) are eager to underpay other people's hard work but we are always eager to ask more for our own work/job, and that is the weak point in the armor that the CCRs are targeting...

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The E-Comm mobile truck my Ham buddy worked on was done on a shoestring budget. Lots of volunteer time was invested in building it. I think some, maybe all, of the radio equipment was sourced by the city it was being built for so they had quality radios. 
 

Other E-Comm mobiles are built by and funded by local radio clubs. You figure $200 to $300 a pop for a good used commercial grade single band radio, one that hasn’t been beat almost to death, adds up. When you need to cover several bands and services you can easily end up spending $1K to $2K or more just for basic FM radios. Frequently a collection of HT’s, preprogrammed, are kept in the mobile because you can’t depend on volunteers who show up to have their own when the emergency breaks. Then there is the wiring, coax, connectors, antennas, power supplies, battery packs, chargers, lighting etc. so you have to figure in maintenance costs. Radios fail, antennas break, they need repair or spare back units along with the test gear to keep it all running.

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  • 3 weeks later...

1730464274_RoIPRackSterile.thumb.png.f2ee406f0e226431edf252718eb90035.png

I have had good luck with Used-Radios.com for commercial grade single band radios that are in near new condition, sometimes even being new old stock. What is not new is also often refurbished, all is checked as serviceable and within manufacturer specifications. Although, my last batch of CDM1250's sometimes showed engraving of police and fire departments across the country. Currently, they do not show any VHF mobiles (CDM1250's) in stock, but UHF is between $145-155 each right now. Get good at scrounging, and higher quality gear is often given away by municipalities, sold for pennies on the dollar or even donated. Obviously, the more connected your organization is to the local community, and the value it brings, will help in funding and donations. Good luck. 

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3 hours ago, PACNWComms said:

1730464274_RoIPRackSterile.thumb.png.f2ee406f0e226431edf252718eb90035.png

I have had good luck with Used-Radios.com for commercial grade single band radios that are in near new condition, sometimes even being new old stock. What is not new is also often refurbished, all is checked as serviceable and within manufacturer specifications. Although, my last batch of CDM1250's sometimes showed engraving of police and fire departments across the country. Currently, they do not show any VHF mobiles (CDM1250's) in stock, but UHF is between $145-155 each right now. Get good at scrounging, and higher quality gear is often given away by municipalities, sold for pennies on the dollar or even donated. Obviously, the more connected your organization is to the local community, and the value it brings, will help in funding and donations. Good luck. 

A couple of my collection are from used-radios as well (one mobile, one ht), and one more due in any day now (nos vhf evx539). Would buy from them again no problem.

On some things it's cheaper to buy from them on eBay (erac1) over their site; the vx4207 was 135 on ebay, while being listed at 165 on the site.

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Thank you for the info on their auction site seller name. May have to buy a few more items from them with that additional cost saving. My current employer is also looking for ways to save a bit, and this could help even more. Just did a little price comparison, and XPR7550 UHF radios at $385 is better than new XPR7550e at $1010, with a few options that we do not even use. I also have yet to receive a handheld that really looked used/abused out of about a hundred now. Running some XPR6550's for several years that they re-cased, and the only part that showed wear was the vent element on the chassis. I did once receive a CDM1250 where the front panel had been damaged in shipment, as it was turned outward in the box, and shipped with seven others. They replaced the control head quickly and at no charge. A co-worker said 4-5 years ago they received a damaged XTS2500 that was replaced quickly as well. Great company to deal with.

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Yes, mostly Motorola....but some Icom, they still make great HF/VHF Marine and Aviation radios. However, the two Icom IC-M602's shown do not work well together, they lack internal shielding. This of course was found out after a dozen technicians placed a pair on each vessel in a fleet dedicated for oil spill cleanup. Luckily the metal cased Motorola Triton/Triton II/Triton II+ radios had not been thrown out. They were one of the best marine VHF radios around, but lacked Digital Selective Calling (DSC). We ended up having each ship with one Icom IC-M602 and one Motorola. Put two Icom's together and they desense each other if used at the same time.

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