Which 2-Way Walkie Talkie for the CSR

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 31, 2014 at 22:54
ThreadID: 109350 Views:3280 Replies:8 FollowUps:10
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G'day mates,

we will travel the CSR in 04-05/2015 with 4 cars and now we`re looking for a good 2-way communication system for 3 of the cars (one has already installed a 40 channel equipment)
Because they are rental cars we can`t install anything so we prefer handheld ones maybe with separate antenna.

Can you recommend some?

sorry for my bad english.

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Reply By: Geoff N (NSW) - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 01:32

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 01:32
I'm surprised that any rental vehicle set up to do the Canning doesn't already have a 2-way radio installed. With 4 vehicles, you'll be travelling close together so any Oz standard UHF handheld will do. If not battery powered, make sure you get cigarette lighter/12 volt charging plugs.
At that time of year, make sure you've got a good spinifex screen and that you check the radiator and under the vehicle are clear at least on a daily basis.
Have fun.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 07:57

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 07:57
G'day Heiner,

Agree with ALL of Geoff's points. I'd just add that Australia is now changing over from 40 channel to 80 channel UHF, so you won't be able to buy 40 channel handhelds. 80 channel ones should work well enough to talk with the 40 channel vehicle though. Worth noting Geoff's point about using Australian standard radios - standards are different around the world, and you'll need to be able to talk to travelers outside your group too.

Enjoy your trip and use this site if you have any questions. You're English is fine!



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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 08:04

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 08:04
I would buy this item.

Any of these descisions are a compromise , so reasons for a recommendation are important.

I assume you will not be able to have external antennas.

In this case I assume cost is a factor hence I recommend this item with 1 watt instead of 5 watts out but which has better range than the cheaper 2 watt versions because of its receiver.
(hence under there ideal conditions they rate them as 6km range items).

This is a tradies pack and comes with external mircophones.

I consider this important because handhelds car to car have a very limited range usually 1 km sees them out.
To maximize range without an external antenna these units should be placed in a phone holder or similar such that antenna is vertical and it can see out the windows.

The units should be then used with the external mic.

They also have 12v chargers.


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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 08:25

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 08:25
If you get low power walkie talkies, like .5 - 2w, it's unlikely that they will be capable of taking an external antenna, and will have a range of up to 1 km or so if used inside the cabin. Vehicle window tinting is metallic, and stops RF signals.

IMHO this won't work for a few reasons.

-The vehicle with the proper UHF and external antenna will *always* have to lead.
-with 4 vehicles, you could be up to 10km or so apart to avoid dust. Even if there is only 2 to 3 km separation it is very unlikely that the front vehicles will hear the rear ones and you will have to relay messages. It will get very frustrating. Even 5w units with external antennas can struggle to work properly in dusty conditions ( where you spread out)

Walkie talkies are ok in say the high country for a day or so or for recovery situations, but will drive you completely nuts in the outback. They aren't up to the job and you'll constantly have communications problems.

Stick with your suggestion of a 5W unit with an external antenna or better still something like this. It is probably cheaper than a 5w walkie talkie with an external antenna anyway.

portable 5w UHF kit

I am not sure I like the antenna in that ebay unit but it should be ok, or ask if you can swap it out for a better magnetic mount antenna. Or just make some kits up.

I have been on a few trips with people using even 5w walkie talkies inside the vehicle and I can testify that a km or so is the practical limit for reliable comms.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 09:40

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 09:40

I have one of the units that Boobook has supplied the link for.

A compact 5 watt that can be set up in a vehicle in less than 5 minutes. Quite good audio from the small, top mounted speaker, and ample volume.

The small antenna performs better than it would appear. I've talked to a couple of mates in road trains and they said the signal was as good as many of the other trucks. How this would equate to the dune country of the CSR, I'm not sure, but as Boobook suggested an alternative higher gain antenna might be the go.

Definitely recommend them, over a hand held any day.


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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014 at 20:31

Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014 at 20:31
Expect there will be a good resale value on this one too Heiner. GME is a quality brand. The others will be virtual give aways when you're finished with them.
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Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 09:38

Monday, Sep 01, 2014 at 09:38
With hand helds, and sometimes in vehicle radios, distance between vehicles can get drawn out, mainly to avoid thick dust while travelling on certain tracks.
You'd be surprised how often a message needs to be relayed from the middle of a convoy, to ensure lead and tailend vehicles get a message.
With handhelds, especially less than 5w, you may have to do this at times even with just 4 vehicles in the convoy, but not a major issue once you set up the best system to do it (maybe vehicle fitted UHF in position 2 or 3).
AnswerID: 538458

Reply By: cookie1 - Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014 at 19:12

Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014 at 19:12
Is the 4wd with the UHF already installed an owned vehicle - not hired?

I would get that unit upgraded to an 80channel as you are unable to purchase 40ch anymore and although the units will work the 40ch will be a lot quieter.

That vehicle will need a really good antenna with good range as he will be the one that will encounter the first 4wd's coming the other way or gaining on and you want to ensure that you do not meet on the crest of a dune. I always suggest putting a call out whilst on the top of a dune every now & then to see or hear if there is traffic around - there was an incident when we did it in 2012 with a collision on the top of a dune.

I would suggest something like this for the other 3 x 4wd


with a suitable mount


I think this would be the best on your roof as some of the shrubs are very close and will pinstripe your car and destroy things that are too rigid.

Also make sure that you have either a HF Radio or Satphone with a list of phone numbers and understand how to use it and as a last resort, life threatening, an EPIRB / PLB ad register it with AMSA and provide them your itinerary.

The Canning is a fantastic experience so long as you are well prepared

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Reply By: Member - Heiner B (INT) - Thursday, Sep 04, 2014 at 16:33

Thursday, Sep 04, 2014 at 16:33
G'day mates,

thank's for all the useful answers.
Now, as i understood, its more clear for me which one we need.

1.) 1W handhelds doesn't have enough power (the distance of 4 cars on the CSR could be more than 3 km (dust)).

2.) 5W handhelds may have enough power but are hard to handle with the external antenna and the power connector.

3.) For me, the solution is GME TX3100 + ANTENNA PORTABLE PLUG N PLAY 80 CHANNEL UHF CB RADIO 5W 80CH MOBILE, a bit more expensive but easy to handle and install and resell :)

Problem solved :)
AnswerID: 538599

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 06:15

Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 06:15
Good choice.

Have a great trip.
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Thursday, Sep 04, 2014 at 23:07

Thursday, Sep 04, 2014 at 23:07
Just a slight off topic comment.
You should double check your conditions of hire for the vehicles you are intending to use.
Quite a lot of hire companies don't allow their vehicles on tracks such as the CSR.
You may find you are totally uninsured if you take the car into such areas.

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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 10:32

Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 10:32
Good point.

One hit my sons car on the OTT up on Cape York. The driver, not my son, had to pay ALL expenses for BOTH cars. The hirers insurance company knocked him back fully when they found out the accident happened on the OTT.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 10:46

Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 10:46
The OTT and Fraser Island are the 2 big no no's for most rental companies.

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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 11:03

Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 11:03
I wouldn't be surprised if it went so far as to exclude any non gazetted public road. Unless they specifically hire for certain areas or category of road or track. And I would get the "minister" to read the fine print. That's her skill.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 12:29

Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 12:29
I came across a couple of hire vehicles at Durba back in 2009.
The guys driving them said they were not allowed to have the vehicles on the CSR, they seemed to be boasting about it.

Anyway, if people are that stupid that they expose themselves to such risk, it's their choice, if they damage one out there then the costs could be quite horrendous.

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Follow Up By: Member - Heiner B (INT) - Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 17:33

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014 at 17:33
it's not really a "hired" car.
A friend of me has bought a car a couple of years befor and i'll get it for my trip (including insurance).
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Follow Up By: Freshstart - Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 22:36

Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 22:36
You did say in your initial post "Because they are rental cars we can`t install anything". Rental is hired in my books.

Hand-helds will do eitherway.

And may I add a a bit of helpful advice.

It would be wise to remain close anyway as there appears to me to be a lack of understanding on how the CSR will grab you and chew you up. Some may call it a walk in the park. True, until something goes wrong and then it can kill. And the RFDS can only land in three places on the CSR. Tyre pressures and good rubber are but a small thing to consider.
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Reply By: Freshstart - Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 09:00

Friday, Sep 05, 2014 at 09:00
Any of the walkie talkie CB sets mentioned above should be fine. You wont need an external antenna. Everyone would be close enough on the actual CSR. The few groups that we recently saw were basically right up the other blokes exhaust pipe.Well, at least within 100 feet of each other anyway.

The one with the set installed should go first and announce your advance every now and then just to let approaching cars that you may be just over the hill. The tops of sand hills is a good spot.

Among the twenty or so cars that we met going the opposite way on the CSR, only one couple were announcing their presence and they were going the same way as us. It seems that most we met were only interested in themselves. Either people just give common desert travel courtesy lip service or they are selfish and only worry about their own group.

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