Confused on legal Walkie-Talkie use in USA

My wife and I are like a couple of big kids, and we want a pair of walkie talkies to communicate when we are on opposite sides of the house. I purchased a pair of Baofeng model BF-888S’s. They had good reviews and were inexpensive.

Out of the box are these legal to use in the US? Seems like a lot of people use them, but some say they are not legal unless re-programmed. I did purchase a USB cable to be able to program them. If I need to re-program, what do I program them to? I can’t find much information doing Google searches. :confused:

Any help would be appreciated!!

Model: BF-888S
Frequency Range: 400-470MHz
RF Rated Power: <=5W
Channel Capacity: 16
Operated Voltage: 3.7V

It sounds like you are in way over your head with these radios. They would only be useful when programmed with HAM frequencies, as they haven’t even been certified for part 90 business use. The radios come with Chinese test frequencies from the factory, which are use by other services anywhere else in the world. They are also illegal for part 95 use. However, there are probably thousands of these cheap radios being used on FRS. Check out this review by Hans, and the replies, for all the information you may need.

Thank you! We are more confused than ever. LOL Do any radios come ready to use out of the box? It also seems like we would need a license just to use for personal use?:eek:

None of the Chinese el cheapo radios that I know of are ready to use. All require programming by somebody knowledgeable or ready to learn. Yes, you would both need, at the very least, amateur Technician licenses to use these legally. If set up correctly with the 14 frs channels someone could hide the fact they were using a non approved radio. Using the programmed test channels will make you stand out like a sore thumb. Who knows what they are used for in your area? For sure, if you interfere with public safety they will find you. If it is a business or amateur they will eventualy track you down, the HAMS will do it themselves and have fun doing it. I would just use the Dakota Alert MURS radios as that service allows driveway alarms, intercoms, etc.

Thank you for your great explanations. The MURS may be what we want. After looking around more last night I was thinking of Motorla 2-ways which have FRS/GMRS. It looked like FRS didn’t need a license.

Hi Orangoutan,

If you just want something to communicate from one end of the house to another, the FRS/GMRS radios should be fine. Unless you live in a very large house, even the lowest end radios should work for that. Cobra, Midland and Motorola all make models that should work. Just keep them on FRS only channels 8-14 and you should be fine.

Two types of radios that don’t require a license are MURS and the Motorola 900MHz DTR series. Both are a lot pricier than FRS radios and are probably a lot more than what you need. They are more durable, however.

Here are some resources that may help you decide which way to go.

Article and Comparison Chart
Types of Two Way Radios

The Two Way Radio Show Podcast
TWRS-01 - An Introduction to Consumer Radios

TWRS-34 - Radios in the Neighborhood

Radio 101 Video
Radio 101 - The facts about GMRS two way radio compatibility

Thanks Rick-

You all have been quite helpful. I just ordered the Motorola TALKABOUT MH230R from the link you provided!:smiley: