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looking for info on best radios


Guest MarcCovey
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Guest MarcCovey

My son and I do a lot of fly fishing in kinda remote brooks\rivers around Vermont and some times get separated up or down stream from each other.  I got some bubble pack radios a few weeks ago and they work good for the most part but the terrain isn't always the greatest for reception on a cheap $30 radio from walmart.   so I started looking around online and just realized over the weekend that I should have had a GMRS license to operate on the channel we were using.   we found channel 15 worked good so just used it.   after looking around online a bit for a longer range radio to use I am looking for some advice from some of you more experienced radio operators.  kinda funny thing is I joined the Navy almost 20 years ago as a radioman.  went through the Navy radioman school training and did well but have not really touched a radio in 15 years.  most all my actual radio experience was with small AN/PRC 119 manpack radio with 3ft whip.   the small handheld radios we used were Motorola sabers and with those we had channels set and just loaded the right crypto when needed so I never really did much with those at all.  

 

 

is there a good hand held radio and possibly a higher watt radio I can put in my truck to reach out farther if either one of is gets back to the truck to call out to each other?   

 

would GMRS be good or should I look for something different? 

 

been reading about DMR radio some too and wondering if that might be a good option.  think I read you dont need a license for that?  

 

I dont mind spending a couple hundred bucks to get something decent and have really gotten my interest in radio piqued again with all this and have thought about getting into HAM and teaching my son about it all too.  

 

Thanks for any tips and advice.  Ill be getting my GMRS license and look into getting the test for HAM sometime.  I looked at a practice test for HAM and think with a little bit of studying I would pass it no problem.  

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I do different fishing and hunting. I feel that the Midland LXT 600 is a good GMRS/FRS radio for the job. It's not technically water proof, but, it seems to handle splashes and light rain and rocky surfaces / drops better than the LXT 500 and 560 which I also have to compare. The range on those are a little better as well. I would say that the Baofeng GMRS-V1 is okay, but, while I'm not saying it is bulky. It's not as compact as the Midlands. I know that sometimes while hunting or fishing, there is a lot of gear attached on oneself. So, if you want a compact radio that is out of the way and is less likely to snag, the Midlands are a bit more ideal. For the truck, Midland has a few mobile radios. I'd say that all are fine, but, it depends on how much power you feel is needed and other features. DMR is a digital "mode" apart of the amateur (ham) service. An amateur license is required to legally transmit.

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You could, just accept the performance you are getting from your $30 radios. You could also consider upgrade one or both radios for better propagation.  look for radios with removable antenna. Higher watts is unlikely to make up for less than desirable terrain but a better antenna can.

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On that note, I suppose if we know what radios you're currently using, it could help us to compare. Some Midlands have high power of 4W/5W on GMRS. FRS is restricted to low power on the Midlands to 500mW. And, as mentioned above, a better antenna is good on removable antennas, but, it depends on how compact you want the handhelds.

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My son and I do a lot of fly fishing in kinda remote brooks\rivers around Vermont and some times get separated up or down stream from each other.  I got some bubble pack radios a few weeks ago and they work good for the most part but the terrain isn't always the greatest for reception on a cheap $30 radio from walmart.   so I started looking around online and just realized over the weekend that I should have had a GMRS license to operate on the channel we were using.   we found channel 15 worked good so just used it.   after looking around online a bit for a longer range radio to use I am looking for some advice from some of you more experienced radio operators.  kinda funny thing is I joined the Navy almost 20 years ago as a radioman.  went through the Navy radioman school training and did well but have not really touched a radio in 15 years.  most all my actual radio experience was with small AN/PRC 119 manpack radio with 3ft whip.   the small handheld radios we used were Motorola sabers and with those we had channels set and just loaded the right crypto when needed so I never really did much with those at all.  

 

 

is there a good hand held radio and possibly a higher watt radio I can put in my truck to reach out farther if either one of is gets back to the truck to call out to each other?   

 

would GMRS be good or should I look for something different? 

 

been reading about DMR radio some too and wondering if that might be a good option.  think I read you dont need a license for that?  

 

I dont mind spending a couple hundred bucks to get something decent and have really gotten my interest in radio piqued again with all this and have thought about getting into HAM and teaching my son about it all too.  

 

Thanks for any tips and advice.  Ill be getting my GMRS license and look into getting the test for HAM sometime.  I looked at a practice test for HAM and think with a little bit of studying I would pass it no problem.  

 

What you describe is very close to what I do with my family, just substitute fishing with hiking and Vermont brooks with Sierra foothills.

 

>> is there a good hand held radio and possibly a higher watt radio I can put in my truck to reach out farther if either one of is gets back to the truck to call out to each other?

- A plenty. Used commercial handhelds go on ebay from $50, but reasonably modern from kenwood and motorola with batteries in working condition would be around $100 - $150. Used commercial car radios go from $100 and up. New GMRS-specific 40W car radio, Midland mtx400, is $250.

 

>> would GMRS be good or should I look for something different?

- GMRS would be good, probably. With my setup of 4W handhelds and 40W car radio I was not able to hike far enough in a day that my family could not reach me. Not that I tried hard, though. Also, GMRS frequency goes much farther in a rocky canyons of California than it would go in a rolling wooded hills. Of course, HAM license opens a whole new world of possibilities.

 

Speaking of LMR (commercial) radios:

- You'd need somebody who could program the radios or you need software to do it yourself;

- To be clean from the FCC viewpoint you'd need Part 95A certified radios. They exists.

 

I use Kenwood TK-3170 handhelds, 4W. In cars I have Kenwood TK-880-H 40W radios with roof antennas. All radios are Part 95A.

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Guest MarcCovey

the radios I have are Motorola FV300   they are probably 4 years old and we never really used them till recently.  I was thinking something 4-5 watts would be a good improvement over these without really breaking the bank.  I dont mind a little big because we almost always have our vests on and can easily clip them to vest or belt and maybe even use headset.   I was looking at the midland MXT400 earlier and thought that would be nice in the truck.  

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I think the Midland LXT 600 or one of the X-Talker models from Midland are fine. They hold a good charge, NOAA, backlight display, a bit more rugged and range. You can use alkaline batteries for backup if needed. The speaker is pretty good. For the truck, the MXT 400 is a nice radio, but, chiming in a little on what a couple others said, I feel the MXT 400 is unnecessary for the task and the MXT 115 and MXT 105 should be fine, especially for the terrain with a nice magnetic mount antenna. Those models also have NOAA, the MXT 400 doesn't have NOAA. If you feel that you want to go with the best you can afford, however, then by all means, go for it. And about the bulk, well, I wear a vest and utility belt, but, when it comes to all the stuff I carry such as paracord, various knives, multi-tools, lip-grips, monoculars, a small tackle box with hooks and such, the size of the radio is kind of important to me. I dislike having one of those Baofengs and the whips dangling around lol I use them for other times, though. But, if you feel that you can take the size, I think the Baofeng GMRS-V1 is a nice option as well. The Midlands do 5W on high with GMRS, FRS is 500mW. GMRS V-1 is 5W max. But, as someone else mentioned, if you decide to get into amateur, there are a lot more options. I'm not saying there aren't many options for GMRS, but, I feel that a lot of GMRS handhelds are about the same. There may be a few different bells and whistles, though, I'm not saying it doesn't matter what GMRS radio you go for, either. I'm not saying what you should go for, just giving some ideas.

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