I like to start with I’m new to this forum and two way radios, so if this is in the wrong category I apologise.
So now let me give you my situation.
I work in the Paving industry as a “traffic control operator” (I set up signs and coned enclosures) in Maine. The company sup contracts flaggers but the flagging company supplies it’s flaggers with cheap two way radio, and we often working in areas that have a lot of ledge and hills. So as you can imagine the range is rather limited (4-6 tenths of a mile).
So now for what I’m looking for.
I like to get a set of inexpensive but effective two way radios that I could let my main line flaggers use to get more range (8 tenths of a mile or greater).
Well - they’re budget toys really - 1 Watt output - and I note the adverts claim 20 miles range - for which motorola should be shot, because they KNOW that that is a wild claim unlikely to stand up to any scrutiny - but for twenty dollars each, what do people expect to get?
5W portables should do the trick, but they are still very terrain sensitive. A hill between two radios only hundreds of metres apart can be impossible to get over. It’s not just power that does it. A bit more power helps in dead spots - but in dead areas, then nothing will work.I assume you are in the US, so I cannot help on licensing - but if the Baofeng higher power ones can be licensed then they’ll be a cost effective way of doing it. Of course, if you want Motorola (as in proper Motorola), Kenwood or Icom then it’s going to cost.
Quite frankly, issuing flag persons cheap consumer-quality radios is leaving them open to HUGE liability. Subcontracting them is leaving YOUR company open to liability.
They NEED proper business-class two way radios, with their own dedicated frequency. I seriously cannot believe they (and by extension, your company) would take that chance. What would happen if some kid happened to call up on the same FRS frequency at the exact instant they needed to confirm whether to open the road in one direction or not. Missed communications here could be fatal.
By the way, a flag person was killed on a highway construction project in our province several years ago, so you can imagine that people around here are quite sensitive.
If I were you, i would forget the idea of slightly better FRS radios, and petition to dump these people as subcontractors. Get PROPER flag persons with PROPER radios.
Why is this company not renting proper business radios for this job? It sounds VERY sketchy to me. If I worked for your company, I would be on the phone to workplace safety and health in your area in a heartbeat.
FRS radios might work for a road crew filling a pothole but are definitely not going to cut it on a road project with any significant scope.
The others are correct, you need business class radios with at least 2 watts of transmit power or better. If you have hills and curves, you will likely need 5 watt radios, which are the highest wattage handhelds available on the market (we are talking about heavy duty name brand Part 90 type accepted business radios).
Even then, your range may vary depending on the terrain, because at street level those signals are not going to penetrate through hills and rocky walls on curves.
If the curves are a real obstruction, there are options around them. You could invest in a mobile radio capable of cross-band repeat functionality, mount it in a vehicle with a good antenna and either place it at the curve or up on the hilll or terrain above it. The radios on each side of the curve would communicate through the repeater and extend the range of the signal as well.
FRS/GMRS radios certainly have their uses, and they can work very well for a lot of different applications, but commercial road construction projects are definitely not one of them.