Based on you experience what' a good 2-way?

lrs143

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Always thinking I might need some good backup comms when the land lines and celly's crap out. I'd like a decent 2-way setup with real range. Maybe military surplus but available for civilian use. I've tried a few of the inexpensive sets like the Midland, etc... and as soon as you put a house or 2, or some trees in between you and the other guy they're shit. I want something handheld that I can get 40-50 miles out of.
Is there anything out there under $500?
 

Manolito

Lewis B. Puller for todays problems!
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There is one alternative to getting a Ham license and that is the marine band used between boats. Stop by your local marine store and try it out. If this is not to your liking then a Technician license isn't hard to aquire.
Bill
 

RackMaster

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Midland, Motorola or similar manufacturers make good home station radios and then a couple hand held units would work. As stated above, go with the marine band; the units are sometimes a bit more weather "friendly". If distance or line of site is an issue, you can make expedient antennae or even permanent ones for home base station radios. You can get them at a local marine store or outdoors equipment stores like basspro, cabelas, etc.
 

JBS

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We've got to be in a really, really bad situation for landlines and mobiles to go out simultaneously. And don't forget internet based comms. Assuming those are out too. Remember in recent events when landlines and cellular was out, internet persisted; people were able to Tweet their way around town, in spite of other infrastructure interference.

If we're ever hurting that bad (and correct me if I'm wrong in viewing this from a "prepper" angle), then very high quality Motorolas are exactly the perfect thing for that scenario because you're probably organized at the community level in small groups to provide immediate security until services and local order is restored. From a historical perspective, your greatest danger comes from other citizens who turn into astonishingly ignorant jackasses during temporary interruptions of basic services; physical security then becomes paramount. For that kind of "watch" duty, there is nothing better than a good quality Motorola that will cover you inside 1 or 2 square kilometers. Within that range of comms the focus is on battery life, durability of the unit itself and simplicity of use under non-existent light conditions (since the power is probably off in your Camp Suburbia) and challenges to your perimeter by opportunists will occur at night or just before dawn.

If you want the ability to listen (and occasionally talk) outside of your little local temporary Fort Knox, get something 25 watts or greater with a good antenna and a tuner. And remember your getup is going to need juice. By the time you put it all together, there's no way to be under $1200 to $1500 minimum in my opinion. Personally, although I've got bunches of cell phones laying around, in that kind of situation that I think you're alluding to, I'm relying on good comms inside of 1 square km to talk to the people who matter right then and there, and the ability to coordinate locally.

(edited to add: interesting topic since lots and lots of people might be losing their welfare before long if things don't improve)
 

AWP

Formerly Known as Freefalling
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In addition to the above:

Range....you're talking HF for range unless you want to build an antenna array and add an amp to a VHF/ UHF rig. Something more cost prohibitive would be different local and a long-haul setups. You might be able to build an antenna for a CB radio which will give you some range.

One of our 18E's used an old PRC-127 and Slinky to talk from Tampa to Miami, but he did so after heavy rains had improved his ground plane.

Google has some good hits on handheld HF, I thought these two were good and may help.

http://www.eham.net/articles/3496

http://forums.radioreference.com/hf-mw-lw-general-discussion/107267-hf-handheld.html

I'd bump around some ham radio forums and see what what they've experienced.

Good luck.
 

SpitfireV

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!
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I should take a pic of this farm house near here and his antenna array he has set up between his house, barn and multiple masts. It's pretty crazy.

Scanner enthusiast? I used to be in that scene, pretty intense stuff out there. They're often involved in ham and nearly everything else under the sun too...
 

Teufel

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Always thinking I might need some good backup comms when the land lines and celly's crap out. I'd like a decent 2-way setup with real range. Maybe military surplus but available for civilian use. I've tried a few of the inexpensive sets like the Midland, etc... and as soon as you put a house or 2, or some trees in between you and the other guy they're shit. I want something handheld that I can get 40-50 miles out of.
Is there anything out there under $500?

The worst three-way will beat the pants off the best two-way any day of the week. Well as long as there is only one dude involved and you are him.
 

Polar Bear

They call me Mr Sunshine
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Um the best 2- way is between me and my wife...just saying but if you want to talk 3 way I would go with Skyline Chili
 

Tunanut

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My 6Watt Icom handheld marine reached the Coast Guard Key West from a reef off Islemaruada. It wasn't a good day, but I was glad that puppy had the range. The CG does have a badass intenna which helped my situation. They dispatched a cutter out of Marathon to come pluck my ass out of the water. These days I keep two on the boat. Works well if the wife wants to go shopping in town while I go fishing, she can just call me when she's ready for a two way.
 

Ranger Psych

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Ok.

A: Marine band, on land, is asking for trouble if it's not a total SHTF situation. Do people use it YES is it legal NO
B: JAB... a prc-126? Issue A: not in any legal band for use by civvies Issue B: they fucking sucked when maintained in the military!!! lol
C: motorola commercial VHF/UHF units are great, but are VERY proprietary in nature of accessories, programming, etc. 99% of the time they aren't even field programmable and need special hardware and computer software to be able to program. Stay away.

Legality is an issue because the simple fact is that if you can't legally use it every day, or at least once a week, you will not have the practice, skill, and understanding required to be able to get that little 5w radio talking the distance you want.

Hence why I tout Amateur radio as the best solution. A technician license is allowed full use of the 2 meter (144 mhz-ish) band, 70cm (440 mhz-ish) band, as well as limited carrier wave usage on High Frequency. My wife crammed by my order (her answer being she did it because caving and doing it was tolerable compared to my incessant nagging) and passed her technician license with no previous radio experience whatsoever.

FRS/GMRS handhelds like motorola talkabouts are pretty sketchy as the Troll found out. Major issue with our vehicular comms on my departure day from Washington? X_SF_MED was trying to transmit and recieve with a half watt output radio, inside of a faraday cage aka vehicle. I have external antennas on my blazer and my silverado for use with my dualband radios. The other issue is that FRS radios are locked to specific channels and typically cannot interface with any external antenna.

External antennas are the KEY to being able to transmit worth a fuck. I can take my 5 watt output Yaesu VX7R radio, hook it into my handheld directional antenna, and be able to do satcom on amateur sats... and to be honest, if they were still up, I can even piggyback on mil satcom birds, but that would be occurring due to "An Event" that really put the shit-hit-the-fan meter through the redline. As it is, I've done the range you want with my handheld. It's all in the antenna. Radio in general is 60% antenna 10%radio 30% operator driven.

Get your technician license and get some VX7R radios. they are very capable little 5 watt handhelds, smaller than any of the other radios out there, great battery life, and accept external antennas. You can even put hardmount external antennas on your vehicles and use them with the handheld to great effect, and simply tie a handheld into it. Down the road, get a full bore mobile unit for the vehicles and take your handhelds back. Charging them? As long as you have 12v you can charge them. My small 800w genset has a 12v output, I have a 12v power supply for use with my base station, and you can get 12v solar panels that will put out enough amperage to charge them if you want to go that route.

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Manolito

Lewis B. Puller for todays problems!
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Great post Ranger Psych
I would only add solar powered battery supplied repeaters are all over the place. This allows you to use your hand held and hit a repeater and extend your range considerable. My wife had no electrical experience and studied and passed her technician. I have no training in radios and by study and practice exams on the net even I was able to get a license.
KJ6Hxx and she is KJ6Hxx We have a lot of power outages and my area is spotty at best for cell coverage so a base station a mobile unit and a hand held gets used a lot and is very effective.
Bill
 
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