Newbie here - pls help with this hypothetical scenario

Hi everyone, I know very little about two way radio communication and have been scouring the web to learn as much as I can.

My hypothetical scenario:

Five adults, rugged terrain, off grid. Ample solar/wind power. No legalities regarding government licensing. Primary utilization is security/integrity/reconnaissance of our property. No base station, no repeaters. Units must be capable of “secure” communication, etc. Must be extremely durable - one time purchase. From what I’ve read, it seems we’d be lucky to get 2 miles range. Willing to spend up to ~$300 per unit - maybe more. What specific handheld unit would you recommend? Thank you.

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Someone suggested the Kenwood 3402U16P. They said it’s probably one of the most “durable” out there, has a voice scrambler and as far as range, will be in-line with any other transceiver.

Any thoughts?


Might be durable, but not suitable for your purposes. It is a high quality BUSINESS radio, which means that you will need a licence to operate it and must be given an assigned frequency from your governing agency. (If you are in the U.S., this will be the FCC.)

If you operate without a licence and an assigned frequency, it is not just that you are breaking the law; you could be interfering with public service radios, and putting people’s lives in danger. The FCC takes a dim view of this and their satellite tracking is pretty good at picking up offender transmissions from almost anywhere in the U.S.

If you truly want durable, industrial-quality two-way radios that have good audio quality and are highly secure, check out the Motorola DLR1060. Unless you have the same radio and the same ID code (with hundreds of thousands of combinations) they cannot be monitored by any consumer-level scanner. They also have about the longest range you will ever get with a UHF two-way radio. Two miles might be pushing it for ANY radio, depending on the terrain.

If you can afford them, there is no better licence-free radio on the market than the Motorola DTR or DLR series.

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No one can really answer the range issue without seeing what your rugged terrain looks like. Handheld to handheld, you might get 5 miles or more if both ends are in optimal locations; if one or both are in bad locations, you might not get 1 mile. If that doesn’t get you the reliability you need, you’re going to need a repeater in a good location with a decent antenna. You may need to just buy a couple radios and see how well they work in your environment.

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I might suggest the Hytera PD 505LF it is analogue and DMR is durable and legal to use without a licence. It out performs the silly licence free stuff you can buy for peanuts and behaves like a pro radio, You can create a private call group and a colour code, making it pretty secure

That depends on where he is located. A PMR446 radio is intended for use in the UK, but not for some other countries, including the US.

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The problem with Amazon is that it is all Buyer Beware, most all of the stuff you see being sold on there comes from China and is slowly being banned and outlawed.
It is up to the user to ensure that you comply with all the rules and regulations set forth in the FCC Radio Code of 1934.
So just because you can buy something online does not mean that it is physically legal to use in the USA.
I get this all the time, dumb looks when I try to explain that although it might transmit on the frequency you want, it is not legal to use.
Encryption for public use frequencies is not legal in the USA.
Ham radio, GMRS Etc does not allow true encryption.

Maybe if you got everyone in your group to get an amateur radio license you could purchase and Icom type D-Star or Yaesu System Fusion digital radio, which can’t be listened to with simple analog radio equipment or programmable scanners.

Your requirements pretty well rule out ham radio. I would suggest a commercial system. That -can- find what you require, but it will be expensive. Also as was mentioned, a SAT phone may be your best bet. Have fun.

Too many people that does not understand how radio works, that wants a cheap substitute for a cell phone, or " just in case my cell phone doesn’t work" will be bitterly disappointed when something they spent hard earned money on doesn’t work.
Its my belief that the appeal of being able to spend even $100 on a cheap bubble pack GMRS radio that claims to transmit as much as 28 miles is very desirable for this type of person.
The desire to own technology that will not permit others to listen to your conversation but allows you to communicate with others seems to be an oxymoron.
How can you obtain this without spending large sums of money?
Even P-25, as long as someone else has the key, which the manufactures has all the keys, can always be listened to by someone.

I believe you are confused on the concept of a P25 system key versus an encryption key.

System keys are set (typically by the manufacturer) and are required to allow a radio to affiliate to a P25 trunking system. In traditional Motorola terms, this used to be a key file that was generated by Motorola and sent out to system owners via floppy. It could be copied and used at will…then the actual program which generates the keys got out in the wild. Motorola then switched to the concept of the Advanced System Key which is a physical dongle (much like USB key dongles for software licensing). By nature the manufactures have these.

Encryption keys are user defined. Meaning the user creates it as they so please. The manufacturer has no way to control the keys. In fact per federal standards, an encryption key can not be entered via the programming software but must be loaded with an external device (a key loader). Now, some encryption algorithms are much more secure than others but given enough time they can all be brute forced. This is why rolling keys on a regular basis is so important (but it is done so extremely rarely).