2 way radios (not hunting related)

Mthuntr

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In the Sagebrush of Montana
Was wondering if anyone had experience with 2 way radios and had some recommendations. Our work had to turn back borrowed handhelds from the FS and need probably 6 radios that operate on the same frequency to communicate to each other throughout the day. Nothing too wild just to chat back and forth with expected ETA, Bear sightings, etc. Emergency communications will be via SPOT or PBL (our agency could not get the funding for InReach communicators despite my harping for the last 3 years).

Knowing the restrictions and limitations of commercial radios (specifically topography) we're asking a lot but I don't have any experience. Anyone care to make suggestions?
 

Scott85

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Portable VHF radios are hard to beat, vs the little fake 2 way radios.
 

Greyman

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South Texas
I'm an extra class (amateur extra) ham radio operator so I might be able to point you in the right direction. What area are you operating? The reason I ask you might be able to access a GMRS repeater if there is one close. If there is, you might be able to communicate over a very large area, maybe county wide. I can look it up for you. There is a licence for GMRS but there is no test and it's good for your entire company.
 
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ZBB

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Pueblo, Co
Garmin rhinos work pretty well. You can see the location of the people you’re talking to. I’m not 100% sure they would work over 5 miles, especially without line of site. I haven’t even looked at the cost of them lately, they might be more up front than an inreach but they don’t need a subscription. Might be worth a look, good luck with whatever you get.
Zach
 

npaden

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Lubbock, Texas
You might want to look at the GoTenna Mesh system. The drawback is that they need a smartphone to operate but they can reach farther than a traditional radio and a lot easier to understand. In a setup like you are talking you could leave a few hanging in trees along the way as boosters and really get some longer range communication going.
 

kmott

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idaho
the Motorola spirits work pretty well. haven't bought one in years but used to get them at radio shack or cosco.
 

Clawsar

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Kalispell MT
I have a cheap wouxun ham handheld that I used in search and rescue. It outperformed my expectations for sure and was very inexpensive. If you are operating in FS frequencies, you may not need a license at all if you stay only on that frequency (or others that are open).
 

Greyman

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We're working Bob Marshall...likely within 5 miles of each other but not always line of sight.
Looks like the closest GMRS repeaters are in Hamilton. That's probably too long a distance to hit with a handheld.
Any VHF or UHF radio you use is going to have real problems getting through the woods and mountains unless you're talking from mountain top to mountain top.
When I get off work, I'll research some options for you. Some of the ones other folks have posted look interesting though.
 

Greyman

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Pretty hard to beat plain old CB radios for what you are doing.
CB is not a bad option if you have a long enough antenna. It's in the HF band so it cuts through the trees better, but because it's a longer wavelength, the antenna needs to be very long to have any range. Not a big problem if you're talking with a mobile or base station but the rubber ducky antennas on handheld CB's are close to worthless.
 

Greyman

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I have a cheap wouxun ham handheld that I used in search and rescue. It outperformed my expectations for sure and was very inexpensive. If you are operating in FS frequencies, you may not need a license at all if you stay only on that frequency (or others that are open).
The Wouxuns and Baofengs are surprisingly useful. I own several Baofengs and they work great. Technically, you are supposed to have a HAM licence to use them and it's "technically" illegal to use them on the FRS frequencies. They will also tune the marine VHF frequencies as well. I seriously doubt that the FCC would be that worried about it though.
 

Gut Shot

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Banks of the Big Muddy
CB is not a bad option if you have a long enough antenna. It's in the HF band so it cuts through the trees better, but because it's a longer wavelength, the antenna needs to be very long to have any range. Not a big problem if you're talking with a mobile or base station but the rubber ducky antennas on handheld CB's are close to worthless.

If he is looking for radios for 6 people relaying between people is probably not going to be a problem. The guys I bear hunt with run bases in vehicles and Yaesu handhelds on foot. Sometimes someone will be out of range for a bit but coms are usually uninterrupted. If things become problematic someone not in the hunt will go to high ground to relay between parties. Not ideal but it works and the OP doesn't need the radios for emergency situations.
 

Clawsar

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Kalispell MT
Tha
The Wouxuns and Baofengs are surprisingly useful. I own several Baofengs and they work great. Technically, you are supposed to have a HAM licence to use them and it's "technically" illegal to use them on the FRS frequencies. They will also tune the marine VHF frequencies as well. I seriously doubt that the FCC would be that worried about it though.
thanks Greyman, I thought their use was legal if on the open channels vs actual ham bands. I got my license to open up other options though, so I never really dig into it more.
 
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