new to radios...

hello people!..i dont really know that much about two way radios…
im looking for something…but i dont know what…
okay…so me and my wife are going to burning man next year…black rock desert in nevada…we want a pair of radios to keep in contact out on the playa…im mainly concerned about range…i need about a 5 mile range…while i see all these radios on websites that offer 10-20-30 something range…i know they dont hold up to that…does any one have any suggestions on what might work for me?..
thanks alot…

The real, honest, expected range for a pair of handhelds talking to each other is 1-2 miles, IF there’s nothing in between them. In theory, line of sight is good for 4-5 miles, but I wouldn’t expect to get that normally, at least not reliably.

If you need absolute reliable 5 mile-no-matter-what range, then you might need to look to some other type or band of radio. If you need 5 miles over absolute flat terrain, then I think a bubble pack radio could suffice.

I will say this. HAM users have been known to talk to the international space station on 1 watt hand held radios. Of course, there is nothing between you and the ISS but air. I used a very compact hand held 5 watt radio in an airplane-to-airplane setting where I actually had the radio inside the plane and talked to another plane about 60 miles away. He was at about 1000 feet of altitude, and so were we. Again, nothing between us but air, but that proves that you don’t need sheer power to get out there, just a clear line of sight.

okay…no i dont NEED that kinda range…i was hopeful…lol
black rock desert is one of the flattest places on earth supposedly…people go there to break land speed records…and during burning man the obstruction factor is about 98% tent structuring…so…

what would i look for in a radio to get the best performance in that environment?.
any suggestion as the make and models?
thanks for the input guys…

In really flat terrain…what would you guys suggest? I’d say a bubble pack radio with at least 15 miles “indicated” range should get you out 5 miles reliably in flat terrain.

Others viewpoints might differ, but that’s what I’d say.

Based on this information from the newsletter. “Jack Rabbit Speaks” Vol-9/Issue#20. It would suggest that there are multiple repeaters in use at Black Rock City during the Event. If you contact them you may get permission to use a GMRS repeater and volunteer too.


Since you’ve been going to Burning Man, you may have noticed that it seems radios are everywhere. No, not the kind you listen to music on, but the kind you talk on. You see DPW, Rangers, Emergency Services, Community Services, and even the nice girl who helped place your theme camp last year? all of them carrying radios. If you’ve gotten the impression that radios are how things get done on the playa, you’re right!

Burning Man’s communications system is the vital link that keeps everything moving on the playa. Over 1000 hours are spent maintaining, cleaning, upgrading and testing Burning Man’s radio system every year. We are a small handful of volunteers, and we’re looking for a few technicians to become part of our happy collective. This is our art project, our contribution to Burning Man. But, unlike most art projects, this one is a critical part of Burning Man’s infrastructure. It?s a project that must be completed and must be running, on time, every year, without fail.

Your art is your technical contribution to this ongoing project. Ideally, you have a background in 2-way radio, Cellular, Paging, Military or Amateur Radio systems. If you don’t necessarily fit into any of the aforementioned categories, but have technical aptitude and a strong desire to learn please contact us.

Requirements: Residence in the San Francisco Bay Area and the surrounding communities or residence in the communities surrounding Reno, Nevada is strongly suggested. Ability to attend a majority of the weekend work parties (San Francisco Bay Area) is required.

If you’d like more information, send an email to: 911(at)burningman(dot)com

Thanks for reading!

Greg Stramback–Deputy Administrative Chief–Communications
Emergency Services Department

Hey guys…

Scary that my segment in JRS from 2005 was pasted here. Never thought that would happen. :slight_smile:

FRS is a wasteland at Burning Man by Tuesday / Wednesday. Several thousand users on 14 channels make it a joke and just endless noise. MURS might be a better choice and we actually monitor channel 5, code 11 (154.600 / 97.4CTCSS) for emergency traffic at the dispatch center. MURS as a whole is still very low usage and you’ve got a better chance of staying in touch with someone on it than on FRS. Not to mention there’s a real lack of those annoying as all hell alert tones.

Good luck!


I apologize if it was not appropriate to post your information here. I thought it might be helpful to the OP and even give you some help from another volunteer. I don’t get by here often, as you can see.
Have always wanted to attend Burning Man but have not had the opportunity.
Thanks for what you do in Black Rock City. Safety is something many of the participants probably take for granted.