Rural Recommendation

First off, I gotta say that this forum is pretty cool. I’ve been lurking for a few days and gathering info based on recommendations and reviews. I thought I would ask and explain the terrain for my setup.

Here’s what the terrain looks like according to Google Earth (seems pretty accurate)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/464376/googleearth.png

I currently have a pair of Motorola T6300 that I got a while back and they just don’t cut it. I originally got them when I lived in a suburban area for walks and whatnot. Using them out here, they barely cover the distance from the creek to the barn or the distance from the barn to the house. I would like to have a radio that would cover the distance of the creek to the house and possibly further. I realize it’s a little difficult since at the creek the elevation drops off considerably. But, the distance shouldn’t be that much of an issue. I would be plenty happy with a distance of half a mile in that type of terrain. I also have a view (I can physically see it from my house, since I’m on top of a hill) of a town about 1.2 miles away and it would be nice if the radio I purchased would reach.

I was looking at these two radios:
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/products/midland/midland-gxt-1050-vp4.aspx
and
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/products/cobra/cobra-cxr925.aspx

I really like the Cobra with the battery and repeating feature. But I’ve seen that the Midland generally gets better distance due to greater power. I actually really liked a Motorolla model (cant remember which) but it was yellow and allowed for charging via USB which would mean you could get all kinds of cheap adapters to charge it. I would like to have 1 radio charge in 1 end of the house and the other charge in the other end, not both at the same base but I can’t seem to find a spare charger for sale for either of the radios.

Suggestions, comments, questions? Thanks.

The ONLY significant issue on these radios is line of sight.

If you can SEE it, you can probably talk to it. If it’s blocked by the ground, or a lot of trees or buildings, you can’t.

Right now, it’s a little dangerous to make suggestions, since the FCC is in the process of completely (probably) changing the rules.

The conventional answer for the current rules would be (not cheap), to put a repeater on the barn, antenna on its roof as high as the rules allow (about 20 feet above the barn roof at the top of the antenna), and get repeater capable radios to use.

The extra height of the antenna on top of the barn should put it ‘in sight’ of the whole local area, though the town is a maybe.

If the current rule change removes repeaters being allowed, you have less capability to do much.

If you’re currently talking about talking to someone INSIDE the house holding a handie-talkie, that’s one of your major problems. The home station should have an external antenna on the roof. Buildings block radio at GMRS frequencies.

Thanks for the reply :slight_smile: Yea, I’ve looked at repeaters and I don’t really see a cost effective option. I was actually hoping to see a solution under a $100 budget. I was kind of hoping that technology might have changed since I got my Motorola T6300 so I could get some more distance. They do work over/through the hill by the creek but not very far as well as going from the house to the barn and in both cases I would like to see something that would go further. I mean, these radios are FRS rated at 2 miles, surely there’s something better like the two I listed?

One radio would actually be inside the house but it’s a 40 year old doublewide mobile home (built quite a bit differently than a typical house). Talking to the barn, there was no difference in signal strength being on the opposite end of the house vs being at a window closest to the barn (with line of sight). But again, these are FRS not GMRS.

Technology changes.

Physics doesn’t.

VHF/UHF radios are line of sight. That’s not going to change.

Now, someone might design a 2 watt low cost repeater for GMRS, which would change the costs, if repeaters aren’t banned completely in the rule rewrite, which would help you.

:frowning: So there’s no difference between my 5+ year old Motorola T6300 that’s rated at 2 miles versus the Cobra I listed rated at 35 miles? I do realize that the rating really means nothing for 99.9% of all uses but doesn’t that translate to more transmit power or better antenna or something?

Part of your problem may be the mobile home, if it has metal walls and roof it will decrease your range greatly.
The outside antenna may be your cheapest way.
Tom-WA4UPO

The difference is how big a lie the salespeople were willing to tell.

That ‘35 miles’ depends on both ends of the communication being on 250 foot hills, with a valley between them. The radio is good for the usual 1/2-2 miles on flat ground. There are very few real differences between the bubblepacks when antennas are concerned, they’re all poor. The bubblepacks vary in output power from 1.5 to 2, MAYBE 2 1/4 watts. If they tried to use more power, the batteries wouldn’t last 2 hours. More expensive radios like the Icom commercial radios will have better receivers and batteries, and can use 4 watts for longer periods, but they too are slaves to line of sight, in the end.

If you happen to be talking to the Space Shuttle, 1 watt will get you 150 miles, clear and strong. Line of Sight.

A radio from 5 years ago will work just as well as a current one. It may not have as many buttons, and the battery will not last as long, but the range will be the same.

That 35 miles stuff is what the manufacturers claim, but it is more like two miles: http://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog/2006/07/the_truth_about_range.aspx

This is probably the least expensive way. Your radio signal is being “blocked” too much so an external raised antenna is your best bet. The problem is then the fact you have radios that do not have removable antennas. Normally I would recommend a 45 watt GMRS base station, but the FCC may be removing that option in about one month.

You mean the manufacturers. :slight_smile:

http://www.buytwowayradios.com/blog/2009/07/stop_lying_about_range_1.aspx

Well, technically, I meant ‘The marketing department’ of the manufacturers, but I couldn’t shake that loose from my aged brain. Though unfortunately, some ‘salespeople’ DO try to tell folks those claims mean something… Radio Shack salesdroids, perhaps.

How disappointing. It’s really a wonder why they even continue making these radios with such poor distance. Even if the FCC wasn’t going to switch things around, a repeater would be out of my budget. Maybe I’ll just get some rechargeable batteries for the ones I have and deal with it. I think you guys just saved me $70 and enlightened me as well :slight_smile: Thanks.

I guess I’ll take this to the next level.

What would be my best option for the cheapie consumer-grade radios?
What’s the next step up or what would be the radio I would need for my situation? (keep in mind, I know very little when it comes to radios and don’t really want to get close to messing with the FCC)

I doubt you would see any benefit from getting another set of handheld GRMS radios. The next step would be a base station radio with an external antenna, or even a repeater network but neither is a cheap option unfortunately.