2 way radio base station

Hello all,

New user to the forum here. Started researching radios online and realized there is a lot of information out there :slight_smile: And a lot more than I know.

I am looking to start a base station at my house and be able to talk to friends about 5-10 miles away. From what I have researched so far, I think it would be best to get an antenna about 30’ off the ground and just connect via cable with a handheld.

Thoughts/things to consider with this limited amount of information?
What do I need to accomplish to reach up to 10 miles and still have clear comms?

If you have a GMRS license, a HT with 4-5 watts and an antenna at that height would work very well. The only caveat to that is if you live in hilly/mountainous terrain. GMRS and other UHF/VHF is line of sight.
I use a Baofeng UV5R and an antenna at 25’ and I work a repeater at 32 miles. Higher beats more power most of the time. Hope this helps.

If cost is not prohibitive, I would consider getting a mobile unit for the base station, something with 20W or so. You could always drive a an amplifier with an HT as well but the cost will become similar and a mobile unit would have more features.

Thank you for the feedback! I feel like you are speaking a different language lol I am just so new to radio. Is there a reputable company that has good customer service If I were to call and get set up with what you are mentioning?
Thanks again

Thank you for the feedback. Do you have a recommendation on where to buy from?

Hi back. To explain further:

A “mobile” radio is a unit that is intended to mount in a vehicle like a car. They transmit with more power than a handheld (called an “HT” for “handytalkie”) and, coupled with a decent antenna, they “listen” far better as well.

As for a mobile unit recommendation, the Wouxan KG1000 is about the best, but you pay for it at around $350-$400. They’re sold on the BuyTwowayRadios website. They just came out with an improved “plus” model which is about the same price. For a more economical mobile, I’d look at the Radioddity DB25 or DB20 which transmit with 25 watts or 20 watts respectively. They’d both have about the same performance and are on sale on Amazon now for just over $100.

For a mobile unit used in the home, you will need a power supply. They don’t take “wall voltage” so you plug a power supply in the wall and then the radio connects to it. A basic one will run you $60-$100 on Amazon, just search for “Pyramid Universal Compact Bench Power Supply - 9 Amp” for a basic one. You’ll also need an antenna too, which you can mount in your attic or (better) outside, on your roof. I really like my Ed Fong GMRS j-pole antenna. See the “DBJ - UHF” antenna at edsantennas.weebly.com. You can always get a mobile GMRS antenna (intended for the roof of a car) and use that as well. Remember, the antenna is as, or more, important to your setup as the radio. I’d take a sub-par radio with a better antenna any day. Laird makes terrific mobile antennas, but there are many and most will do you fine. Several decent less-expensive options on BTWR as well. (Don’t hesitate to call them for help, they’re always eager to assist. Most mobile antennas will have magnetic mounts, and they need that metal surface to operate well. Many will just stick 'em on the largest cookie pan they can find and set 'em in their attics or up as high as they can. Height is might with antennas.

In my case, I already had a good GMRS HT that I wanted to turn into a base station. So, I bought an amplifier for it. Now, I can just set my HT in it’s cradle, and attach a hand mic (so I don’t have to pick the radio up). The cradle is the power supply. Note: some radios don’t transmit well if they are sitting in the cradle. I know this is the case for one of my ham radios. The amplifier kicks in when the mic is keyed and is powered by the same power supply. Takes the 4-5 watts from the radio and boosts it to 30-40 watts into the antenna. Easy to connect. You can find one on Amazon; search for “BTECH AMP-U25 Amplifier for UHF (400-480MHz)”, Amplifiers are for specific frequencies so make sure you get one that’ll do GMRS freqs from 462.000 to 467.000. In my case, it was cheaper to add an amplifier to my HT than to buy a new mobile radio and I already had the antenna mounted in the attic. I was already using it with my HT but the low wattage from the radio and the loss from the long cable length made me wanna boost it some. You’ll also need some coax cabling to go from your radio to the antenna. RG58 cables are fine for your purposes but, if you have money to spend, getting a lower-loss cable is a good thing to do. Search for " RG8X Coaxial Cable - Connector - RG8X Coax – UHF CB Antenna Cable - CB Coax Cable" on Amazon. Will run you $30-$40 for the cable depending on the length you need. You may need adaptors to make your radio connection if using with an HT.

Keep in mind that most don’t “rag chew” on GMRS like they do on ham radio which makes a GMRS base station less fun than a ham station. Most use GMRS for it’s intended purpose which is to facilitate group/family communication. People talk to “their own” more on GMRS, at least in MA where I live. I hear there’s more rag chewing out west but am not sure.

You can look on mygmrs.com to see if there’s a GMRS repeater in your area. If so, and if you can use that, you should get an even larger area of coverage from your base station setup. Now, if you’re just looking to talk around your immediate neighborhood, you might not need a base station, just an HT might be enough. We have five acres and some gardens and such, and use GMRS for family communication (so we don’t have to walk outside and up a hill to tell each other it’s dinner time or whatever). We use cheap Baeofeng UV5X (UV5R) radios which run $25 on sale for this. I use my base station to reach my wife’s mobile unit in her car (direct or with my town’s gmrs repeater) as a way to have back-up coms in my wife’s car. (I cannot get my family to discuss ham radio for the life of me so GMRS was a logical option, just keep it on a set channel and go - very little to learn for them.)

Hope this helped. Call buytwoway radios and tell 'em what you wanna do. They’ll recommend a setup for you but it will be limited to what they sell which is pretty good stuff and they have a lot of what I recommended above as well.

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WOW! thank you so much for all the info! Just what I needed. I will give them a call and go from there, this should be enough to get me going though. Thanks!

Hi Comms, Buy Two Way Radios is the owner of this forum. If you give us a call at 1-800-584-1445 from 8 AM to 6 PM weekdays, our team can answer your questions and guide you in finding the best options for setting up a base station.