Two way radio

Hi,
I have searched these forums (and the rest of the Internet) far and wide to try and learn about two way radios. I am confused as to what I should get to suit my needs and am hoping someone can help me out here.

I go camping on stations that are quite isolated and rely on two way radio to keep in contact with whoever is at the campsite when I go off on my motorbike. At the moment, I have a pair of Oricom PMR1000 that have just broken down. These are supposed to have a 7km range (line of sight) but is really only effective over a couple of kms. Obviously being on a bike, I quickly get out of range.

I suppose I need some sort of radio system that is effective at 7 or 8 kms (NOT line of sight) from the campsite (often hilly country). What kind of radio system should I be looking at?

Cheers.
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Reply By: Wilko (Parkes NSW) - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 17:22

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 17:22
Hi Sam,

I wont go telling you which brand. Get a major one and you wont go wrong. make sure it has 5watt output and get a low db gain antenna. This type of antenna gives a broad output better suited to hilly country then the high db gain antenna.

Cheers Wilko
AnswerID: 491421

Reply By: River Swaggie - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 17:43

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 17:43
Hiya i own a set of Icom 41s handhelds (5 watt)...I use one in the vehicle with a bnc connector to an 3.5 or 6.5 RFI external antenna (bullbar)....Don't let anyone tell you they don't transmit as far as an in-car unit....

When you need to use the two or finished 4x4 just unscrew and put them away locked up....These are a well built unit and a bit $$$$,At first its easy to lock yourself out so you only can use one,but take a manual with you until you know it....You can lock the yourself so it stays on the right channel no matter what button is accidentally pushed..

A mates taken mine pig shooting up to Deneliquin a few times and its been great...Line of site,its interesting depending on the aerial used they can transmit a lot further than that...Plus you have repeater stations to boost your range...


Goodluck
AnswerID: 491423

Reply By: sam d47 - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 17:51

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 17:51
Thanks guys.

If I am wanting to get 7 or 8 kms effective range, what maximum range would that correspond to (i.e. what would be written on the box of the product)?
AnswerID: 491426

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 18:51

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 18:51
Sam,

First thing, don't buy rubbish equipment like Oricom. You need either Electrophone, Icom or maybe uniden.

Buy only 5 watt radios, as these will put out a good, strong signal.

You don't say what sort of bike you use, 2 or 4 wheeler? If you use a quad(4-wheeler), then you could always fit a larger 6dB aerial, 6 foot long, to increase your range.

Back at your camp you need to be able to erect a 6 dB aerial, maybe 20 - 30 feet high, and I guarantee your radio problems will diminish. To get the aerial that high, you may need to get some light pipe, in a couple of sizes, that telescopes together, for travelling. For cable, buy RG-213 as it is the best for longer runs, say over 10 feet. Dick Smith or Jaycar sell this, and the end connectors you'll need. There is better cable than 213, but you'll have to sell both kidneys to buy it.

Just remember, to buy 2 of 5 watt good quality hand helds, is quite expensive, you might be better to buy a in-car set for your camp, and a hand held for you.

And just some basics, we've listened to hand held radios, on a base set, from over 50 kms away. Often it only needs to walk up a hill, onto a dam bank or climb a tree, to make the difference between receiving a signal or not.

With UHF, HEIGHT IS MIGHT, ie the higher you are the further you'll receive/transmitt. If you've got any more queries, just let us know.

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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AnswerID: 491429

Reply By: sam d47 - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 18:51

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 18:51
Also, I read the article mentioned up the top and am not confused about the pros and cons between using SSB on the 27MHz CB and using the UHF CB. I assume that unless there is a repeater station on the station where I am camped (and within several kms), the repeater capabilities are not really an advantage to using UHF CB.

Also, the article mentions radios that are capable of distances between 15 and 50 kms. Where can I find radios like this??
AnswerID: 491430

Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 18:54

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 18:54
Unfortunatley Oricom aren't the most reliable radios on the planet.

The Icom radios are very good and if you want performance without as much cost then GME 5 watt units are also good.

I use 2 older Handheld GME TX 6000's and with a larger than std aerial they will in line of site, reliably transmit 60km. Distance varies with the type of terrain.
Seems a long way but these have worked up to 100km duplex to trigger repeaters.

I also use one of them via a BNC connection to vehicle mounted aerials.
The radios were used when at a motorcyclist accident on Oodnadatta track.
They transmitted 47km to Oodna and 70km south to a station repeater.
I am happy with the better brands of radio.
AnswerID: 491431

Reply By: sam d47 - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 19:56

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 19:56
I have seen uniden ones that are 2W and have a range of up to 15 kms. Yet if I look on ebay, some are 5W but only have ranges of 5 kms at best. Is that just because they are very poor quality?? (I wouldn't buy them anyway, just interested)
AnswerID: 491434

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 20:26

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 20:26
Probably just sales pitch, Sam. Some of these sales men wouldn't have a clue, and just put that in to look good.

UHF is often such a variable thing, due to terrain, power, aerials and time of the year. Got to buy the best aerial for the job, to get peak performance.

Bob.

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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: sam d47 - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 20:29

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 20:29
Bob, are you saying I would need to get another aerial even if i get a good quality Icom or GME hand held?
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FollowupID: 766903

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 23:00

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 23:00
Bigger aerials are available that screw straight on to the h/helds, Sam, but if you buy the better brands, I'd try them first, before adding further expense.

As both Ron & River Swaggie said, the range is greatly improved by hooking them up to car type aerials. As for your base camp, if you had a set-up where the camp had better Tx/Rx ability, then you will be able to talk back to camp more easily.

You might be pleasantly surprised with the perfromance of the 5 watt Icom or GME.

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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FollowupID: 766921

Reply By: Member - Bucky - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 06:09

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 06:09
I have an Icom 400 Pro in the Pooootrol

and these when I hunt
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/120716948752?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

No probs ever !

Cheers
Bucky

AnswerID: 491460

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 06:14

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 06:14
Unfortunately no UHF radio, 1W, 5W, Oricom, Icom etc will let you communicate for 7 to 8 kms over non line of sight hilly terrain, It's physics. UHF is line of sight.

An old 27Mhz walkie talkie/ CB will be your best bet. Or get an amateur radio licence and you can use Lower frequency VHF.
AnswerID: 491461

Follow Up By: Mad Habits - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 10:06

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 10:06
I think that the problem with getting the VHF and needing to get a licence to use it is that the person on the other end has to have a licence too, and as it's highly likely that he won't be exclusively riding with the same person on the other end I don't think it will work as anyone using it needs a licence.
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FollowupID: 766937

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 09:05

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 09:05
I agree that it's not easy but it has a good chance of working.

No UHF, 1w, 5w, or even a modified Icom to run 25W will work at that range in hilly terrain will work, so it is pointless recommending any UHF as it is a complete waste of money regardless of brand. They won't work 1km if there is a hill in the way.

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FollowupID: 767036

Reply By: Mad Habits - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 10:47

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 10:47
G'day I did alot of research into handheld cb's last year and ended up getting 2 of these
UNIDEN UH076SX-NB 5 WATT 80 CHANNEL UHF
WATERPROOF+METAL ALLOY CASING
eBay Item number: 190698135842

They are tough and on the box line of sight is 12km in reality that might be true if you were in space or a dead flat desert with no bushes or trees, but it is a 5 watt unit so is the most powerfull you can legally own it has duplex that will use relay transmitters (if there are any in the location you are in at the time) so could give 100km like any good in car cb can with the same features.

Also the lithium battery life from fully charged is about 12hrs+ so you'll run out of petrol long before these go flat!

Note: Being waterproof to 1mt for an hour, if you fall over in a creek they will still work just fine.

Reality is in very hilly terrain with plenty of trees around I get about 4-5km, you just won't find any other UHF that will do better, because if it existed I would have bought them already as I only buy the best. I guess if you ride to the top of the mountain you will get a much longer range in hilly areas.

Make sure you get an 80 channel one as the 40 channel are being fazed out and there use is going to be frowned upon by the officials soon.

$235 each may sound a bit Exy but you get what you pay for if you look at stores like dick smiths they cost $299 each, so those on eBay are an absolute bargain so if I were you I would snap 'em up before others do!

Bear in mind everyone has their personal opinions, some are from experience and some are not, but all opinions (including mine) should be teated like you had a chat down at the the pub and used as a base for your own research then buy what ever you like best.

Cheers Nigel
AnswerID: 491475

Reply By: PJR (NSW) - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 12:02

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 12:02
Can I say something on the range of UHF hand held radios. It is a minefiled of a lot of factors that all fight to limit the range for reliable communications. Especially that of hand helds. Even having your head between yourself and the other station will limit the range. Wet thick shrub will also limit it as will rain and fog. The wind can be a pain when it swings the leaves around.

The best advice I could give, and it has been said above, is to get the 5 watt ones with separate microphones by a good manufacturer. Do not try to skimp on cost but then again it is not necessary to get the dearest one either. Icom, uniden and GME I feel are a good choice. Maybe an interchangeable antenna that you can plug in to get more gain and height. There are plenty of options. But then again just the basic non frills and fancy ones should be fine. It does not need to know how to "cook eggs" to be the best solution for you.

When using the radio it is best the higher that you are and also the more vertical that the antenna is. Stay away from shrubs, think where the other end is and try to get that path as clear as possible. As said; "height is might".
AnswerID: 491480

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 13:44

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 13:44
Phil,

You make a good point, with use of those speaker/mikes. One can clip the mike on collar, pocket or similar, and the handheld stay in its harness, or where ever one carries them.

Also, for optimum use, the handheld can be extended at arm's length, to gain another 40 - 50 cm in height, the possible difference between "hash" and a readable signal.

Bit hard to offer anything but general advice too, when all the posters don't know the areas that Sam accesses.

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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FollowupID: 766948

Follow Up By: PJR (NSW) - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 14:29

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 14:29
Exactly. This is only general as you mentioned.

And that is also why I did not say any models. One thing I did make sure to mention was that it only has to be a basic model.

It would be the PO's luck to bump a switch or keypad and put it in a mode that basically made it useless. And of course we all carry the user manuals. Yeah! Right!

There was a thread recently about a muting or squelch issue. Some posters were even talking about a factory reset. It was a simple fix true. But in the bush it would have been a real pain in the whatsitdownon.

Catchya
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FollowupID: 766955

Follow Up By: Mad Habits - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 09:22

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 09:22
The Uniden I mentioned earlier comes with a speaker mike as standard and has hands free function too but is not waterproof if plugged iin as rubber seal has to be lifted to insert jack.
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FollowupID: 767039

Follow Up By: PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 09:29

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 09:29
I do not think that you will find many with an external mike that are waterproof. But I can be wrong.

That one sounds good. I do not know it personally and right now I need to be preparing our car for a month in the desert.

Best of luck.
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FollowupID: 767041

Follow Up By: Mad Habits - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 10:13

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 10:13
I didn't mean the external mike is waterproof, the main unit is waterproof as long as you don't use the external mike because when you plug it in you have to lift the rubber seal on the main unit, so that renders the full immersion of the main unit useless. So don't fall in a creek (in the desert) if you use the plug in mike:-)
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FollowupID: 767042

Follow Up By: PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 16:18

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 16:18
Figured that. I wouldn't even use it in the rain either with or without the external mike. There is waterproof and waterproof. But if you have to use it then you just have to do it.
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FollowupID: 767071

Follow Up By: Mad Habits - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 21:22

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 21:22
If you don't have an external mike attached you can go for a swim with one of these in your pocket - they are fully waterproof to 1m deep for 1 hr or it's a warranty job. Rain is nothing as long as you don't hold it so high you get bolted with lightning:-)
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FollowupID: 767099

Follow Up By: PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 21:34

Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012 at 21:34
Thats excellent. I have been drawn away from what I was initially saying about UHF range and how it is affected by the environment, so I will bow out if you do not mind.
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FollowupID: 767103

Reply By: River Swaggie - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 22:39

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 22:39
"Oricom"

Hiya Guys,just wondering if anyone can steer me towards sites where people are not happy about this Make..I was lead to believe they were a good unit...Not that i need anything the Icoms i have are top notch..

But i would like to read info if there not up to scratch...

Cheers
AnswerID: 491529

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