Licence Free Radio for a USA Trip

Hello Everyone,

I am going to visit USA in the summer with my friends.
We are going to rent 3 cars and see as much as we can.

I’m looking for Licence Free radio to communicate between cars, as European Radios are illegal in the US.

Could you advise which two way radio would be best? We will be traveling around Cities and NP. I need 3 pieces of it.

I was thinking about:

Midland X-Talker T51X3VP3 Two Way Radio - 3 Pack

Is it a good choice, could you advice if there are better/cheaper?

Hi Bogdan,

Those radios should serve your group well. The USB charging is very useful, and these radios will allow you to take advantage of NOAA Weather Radio here in the US, which you may appreciate on your road trip. Performance should be roughly the same as European PMR radios- in the car you will get anywhere between 1/4 to 2 miles range outside of cities (my own experience). You may get more outside of the vehicle if you are in vast open terrain. Cities will reduce the range, but as long as your car group remains close together, they should still work well.

I think these are a good balance of price and quality. If you get cheaper you may lose features such as USB charging, NOAA Weather Radio, etc.

Just my opinion. I hope it helps!

There are several types of radios available for use in the US that are license free. You could choose CB, FRS, MURS or 900MHz business radios.

For a road trip between vehicles, here are some considerations.

The 900 MHz radios are intended primarily for business use but can be used by anyone. They can be pricey for general consumer use on a road trip, and they are limited to 1 watt, but they offer great coverage, largely due to their higher frequency range.

FRS radios are a common choice, but they are limited to 2 watts and are not allowed to have removable antennas, which means your range will be reduced when using them inside the vehicles, because the antennas are completely surrounded by metal and glass.

MURS radios are also limited to 2 watts, but they are allowed to have removable antennas, which means you can mount external antennas on each vehicle which will greatly extend your range, much more than a few extra watts of power. These radios can also be used by either businesses or consumers.

Then there are CB radios. These are commonly used by commercial and many recreational vehicles on the road. They have a legal limit of 4 watts, but there are many options available for external antennas that can maximize range on the road. Add the emergency channels that can be handy for roadside assistance, it is a logical choice for many on road trips.

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I guess I will stay with my first choice then :slight_smile:

Thanks for help!

Hello Again,

Unfortunately I wasnt able to find Midland X-Talker T51X3VP3 Two Way Radio - 3 Pack with free or cheap shipping. Shiping cost was nearly the same as the radios.

Could you advise which other radio can meet my expectations?
Road trip - communication between 3 cars, must be legal in USA (no licence needed).

FRS radios are readily available in stores everywhere in the US. You could stop at a Walmart, outdoor/sporting goods store, etc., and buy what you need after you arrive. Any FRS radio with similar or better stated range will work as well as that one.

To be honest i would like to have it earlier.

The biggest problem is that we are landing around 1 am, then we have around 200 miles to do, so radio would be useful. Not sure if we will be able to find any walmart on our way - as we are focused on NP.

Well, it’s hard to go anywhere in the US without running into a 24-hour Walmart. :slight_smile:

Will you not have cell phones that you could use until you can pick up some radios? Either that, or pay the shipping cost. Or maybe buy from China via one of the online marketplaces; shipping cost would probably be much less that way.

Well that’s good information :slight_smile:

But still, I would like to buy something which won’t be a toy.
Maybe could you provide me few radio models which doesnt cost fortune but will meet my expectations.

X-Talker T51X3VP3 is still on the list, maybe motorola T260?

You can find open-box Motorola T480s on eBay for around $20 all the time… Which is strange because an inferior T400 (no high power option) goes for much more (Maybe just because the yellow color looks cooler? lol). You could get 3 for under $70, and they are tougher built than T260s plus have a larger antenna and can transmit at higher power when needed. I’ve ordered quite a few as gifts and they have all been basically like brand-new.

That’s great. I will look for t480s and X-Talker T51X3VP3, anything other than mentioned worth to look for in this budget?

One more quick point- the T51X3VP3 uses AAA batteries, while the T480 uses AA. Both are nice radios, but the T480 should last longer between charges (Not necessarily an issue if in a car with constant access to USB). The Midland X-TALKER T75VP3 uses AA batteries too (but is more expensive).

I was looking for Motorola, and…

Additional Product Features
Service FRS/GMRS (License Required)

So it is license free or required? Im confused right now.

As of 2017, radios up to 2 watts with a fixed antenna are considered FRS and don’t require a license.

Great, thanks for explanation. I will probably buy motorola.

Hello, I was looking on comparison T280 and T480, could you advise if there is so big difference on distance?

As per this compare:

The distance will be same.

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The distance or range is going to depend on a combination of factors, not just the radios themselves. In fact, depending on where and how you will be using them, there may not be a lot of difference between the T280 and T480 in operation under normal conditions. The range posted for each model is the manufacturer’s range based on their testing under optimal conditions. Optimal means they tested the radios in scenarios that are not typical for normal use. The article below is a more accurate calculator for range based on typical or “real world” scenarios. It applies to FRS, GMRS and other radio services.

GMRS Radio Range Chart

Some friends of ours have 3 pack of T260s and we used them in conjunction with our T480s on a camping trip. The T260s (which will operate identically to a T280) did indeed work very well.

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Thanks, I had to look for something cheaper - shipping and import fees costs nearly the same as 3 radios.

I think you should buy a CB radio because CB operation does not require a license.
I recommend you Uniden CMX760 Bearcat Off-Road Series Compact Mobile CB Radio.
Instead of having common LCD screen and buttons on the radio set, I like how Uniden decided to arrange all functions to be accessible on its microphone. There are still 7 backlit options for you to customize it together with the frequency display and everything you need right on a compact mobile CB radio.

By using the top-rated CB radio for Jeep JK like this one, you can reach out to NOAA weather channels with instant alerts in negative situations. The external speaker is recommended to be used in an open-air environment with lots of background noises. There is also an alert for high or low voltage operation.

Aside from its auto noise limiter, this CB radio offers a noise blanker to boost the task of eliminating noise to a whole new level. You needn’t say ending words to a radio conversation anymore as the roger beep will help inform your partner. I suggest placing it on top or beneath the dashboard or under a driver seat.

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