Hey yall I firstly just want to say hello and introduce myself, just found this forum and glad I did. I’ve been looking around here and I know yall are definitely the type of guys and girls to be learning from on this topic. It’s ridiculous how much BS you have to search through to find good information on 2-way radios…first **** 5 pages of all the big corporate search engines list nothing but websites promoting their products, most of them with articles equivocally painting their radio is the best. I hate reading a article on how good a product is then having the same website sell and only sell that product! Furthermore enough ranting, my question is rounded I’m researching to find out which 2-radio to purchase for my brother and I. The basic summary is this. 1.) We’re not kids we don’t want cheap BS. 2.) My brother made the decision to get rid of his cell phone for good. We live probably 4-5 miles from A to B, his house to mine. 3.) The area between us is a mix of dense pine trees and suburbia’s, no high building/skyscrapers exc. 4.) From what I’ve read so far I should probably go with a UHF type that has atleast 5 watts of power? Not going to explain why I’m sure yall know because of the terrain. I’ve also be reading into repeaters and or huge antennas to help with distance. 5.) Looking for pointers in brands and models. Anything under 200 per hand held is okay, of course I can be persuaded to pay more $$$ if I hear a convincing argument on why it’s worth it. 6.) Which units have repeaters? Are they worth it? Can a moderate priced radio with moderate price repeater for it work better then more expensive brands? 7.) And I know I need handheld that have a base station right? And how does adding antenna on your home help with handheld 2-ways if u just have a base station? What would the antenna even attach to? Sorry if I sound like a idiot I’m really trying to learn here. Any info is appreciated! Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
This assumes you are in the USA:
Well, for that kind of range, a VHF MURS base station (or handheld) with an external antenna on both places you are communication to and from, will likely make the 5 mile jump. No license is required for MURS. No repeaters are allowed.
GMRS base stations will also work. A license is required. Being it is your brother, you’d just need one license, since immediate family members can use the same license. Repeaters are allowed. Licensing is a $70 fee for 10 years.
The next step would be Amateur Radio. Repeaters are allowed. Base stations are certainly allowed. A license is required for EACH person operating. Licensing costs are zero to $15 for the testing fee… yes, a test is required. Renewals are free for 10 year terms.
All these services would require a base station or repeater. Direct handheld to handheld communications would be next to impossible.
A 5 mile range with base stations on all these services would be a fairly easy task. You’d make it fine with an outdoor antenna that is high enough, even with the MURS 2 watt limit. It’s all in the quality of antenna.
Building a repeater is going to run you into 4 figures easily. There are likely Amateur radio repeaters in your area, however, that you can use.
Thank you for the reply. Can you explain the base station/external antenna hook up info exc. For instance if I go buy a pair of nice VHF handhelds they come with a charging base each…these are different then the base station/antenna you reference? So I would purchase the handhelds then buy a bigger base station for both homes also? Do they come model specific for the handhelds or brand specific? Another newbie question…where and how does the antenna connect? I’m assuming by wire to the base station?
Many handheld radios allow you to remove the antenna. Then you can just screw on the cable, leading to the base station antenna… your handheld becomes an instant base station.
You’ll need a radio brand/model that is FCC certified for use on whatever service you choose to use.
A charging base is simply the radio’s charger… it has nothing to do with the antenna system.
Okay, thanks again for taking time to reply. I think my brother was wanting to he able to have it on him like a phone at his place, he wouldn’t want to be stationary. In your opinion what brand/model would you prefer if I went with a 4-5 watt UHF for him and I and stayed away from the whole base station idea.
Well, Unless you are going through a repeater, a handheld radio won’t work. That leaves you with two options: GMRS, which likely you’d have to spend a couple thousand building your own repeater. Being inexperienced, you’d likely not want to go that route. You’d need a license. Secondly, Amateur radio, where you’d both need a license and you’d likely find a repeater in your area that you could go through, depending where you live. models of radio… well there are lots of them… all depends on what you, personally would like.
We explained how to turn a handheld into a mobile radio in episode 84 of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast. The same applies for turning it into a low power base station, which I my son and I did once to find out how far we could reach outside our neighborhood.
Obviously a 5 watt handheld won’t have the same coverage as a 40 or 50 watt mobile, but with the right antenna and elevation, it can still go far. You could get 5 miles or more under the right conditions. However, operating it strictly as a handheld at five to six feet average height above ground level with the factory antenna attached won’t provide the coverage you seek.
Thanks again for the help fellas! So if I went the handheld route with base station/antenna what would be considered almost over-kill on antenna height?..I’d definitely want to do it to the max if I did that. Would running a antenna all the way up a corner of a 2 story house and then even a little higher be sufficient? Also can you make your own antenna? If so do yall know a good article/link on that? I’m going to watch the podcast mentioned above tonight.
Having a radio clipped to your belt means for most of the time it’s in the worst possible place really. You can find a chair at a desk is in a radio blackspot where no antenna height the other end will penetrate, while a chair in the kitchen can work perfectly. If the idea is for mobility each end, then the easy bit is the hop from location A to location B. I don’t know the US rules, but linking TWO repeaters would give you a service area that is reliable around each location. Cross band repeaters might be simplest. A repeater there easily covers the area around the house, then a small antenna on the roof squirts it into the repeater a the other location and that covers the other location. Second hand equipment from ebay and other sources could work pretty well - IF - your licence situation is possible. If you have the internet, then you could link the two repeaters by IP?