PDA

View Full Version : Please recommend an emergency radio


PycckN-Comrade
11-04-2011, 7:07 PM
We just moved high in to the canyon in SoCal and I get no cell reception for about 3 miles around my house.
I need a radio for emergency communications. I'm also planning to get one for my parents, so it should be reasonably user-friendly for a bit older folks. handle-held units preferred.
Thanks in advance

Alex

thenodnarb
11-04-2011, 7:16 PM
We just moved high in to the canyon in SoCal and I get no cell reception for about 3 miles around my house.
I need a radio for emergency communications. I'm also planning to get one for my parents, so it should be reasonably user-friendly for a bit older folks. handle-held units preferred.
Thanks in advance

Alex
do you have a HAM license?

TrailerparkTrash
11-04-2011, 9:14 PM
do you have a HAM license?
Exactly!!!! If you don't have a ham license, I'm not even going to recommend a ham radio brand or model (which are endless). Too many people getting them on the guise of "I'd only use it for an emergency," yet fail to get the required license for whatever excuse they come up with. Eventually those unlicensed types end up trying to use their "emergency only radio" and they are called called "bootleggers" & "jammers." They transmit illegally and cause nothing but headaches for legitimate hams. I'm not saying you are that type, but those types read threads like this.

If you don't want to get a ham license, I'd suggest maybe one of the FRS/GMRS radios. With GMRS, you do need a license, but there is no test to take and one license is good for the entire family. GMRS also has some mountain top repeaters, so technically you could get your signal out to someone that hears you. Although, they are NOT as good as ham radio to say the least, they are viable. Power restrictions and simple store bought antennas are not as plentiful. However, for just an "emergency," I guess they'll do.

Forget CB. It's called the "Chicken Band" for a reason.......

PycckN-Comrade
11-04-2011, 9:58 PM
Very cool, thanks, guys
Just browsed the web to learn more about HAM licensing, and it looks very interesting.
I actually never thought about it.
I guess I'll do more research on my end and will re-post a more specific question.

kemasa
11-05-2011, 1:23 PM
Also check out ACS and other groups which provide emergency communication. This might just help to push you into getting a HAM license. Some CERT groups use FRS radios, but that will not help you all that much in terms of getting in contact with them.

Sinestr
11-06-2011, 9:16 AM
This might work for you. http://www.calquakeinlandempire.com/storetitles/Communications/midlandbasecamp.html

Ironmany2k
11-07-2011, 12:58 PM
I recommend the Wouxun KG-UV2D. Get the cable and download the software to open up the transmit frequencies. You can program in the FRS/GMRS and MURS freuqencies to use without a ham license. Obviously you want to get your ham license to take full advantage of this radio and be legal. The main reason to get your license is to get the knowledge and skill for communications.

http://www.wouxun.us/

paul0660
11-07-2011, 1:04 PM
There are handhelds by Icom and Sportys and others that have aviation freqs. (They are backup for panel mounts). Line of sight to an airliner is 5-20 miles and they all monitor 121.5. If you know where you are they can relay it and get help. I carry ours on trips and it is in one of the BOB otherwise.

I don't know anything about hams other than the cool license plates.

redrex
11-07-2011, 4:42 PM
This might work for you. http://www.calquakeinlandempire.com/storetitles/Communications/midlandbasecamp.html

I'm with Sinestr on this for two reasons. #1, I like the pinup pic :) #2, cost and ease of use.

HAM is a whole new world and you don't just hand someone a HAM handset and send them out the door :)

My family has standardized on GMRS radios. In fact I have the exact base station that Sinestr quoted. We used it this past week when we went Trick or Treating. I'm married with three kids and we use our radios pretty much every weekend. I clip on to my son who is five and that way when we go out I can just talk to him over the radio instead of being that parent who yells at their kids from across the park!

The kids have a pair of very small and very cheap FMS radios that we got at Target for like $15. I use rechargeable AA's in them and I have a charger in the car. Also the Base station stay in the car as well. I have some nicer, high end Midlands GMRS water proof dual power handsets for the adults :)

I'm telling you the sound on these things is very good, the range is excellent and no roaming charges. OH and that's another thing. We always seem to end up at some event, lake or outing where there is no cell service. It doesn't bother us, we just break out the radios :)

Here are the handsets we use, for the adults (http://www.amazon.com/Midland-GXT1050VP4-36-Mile-50-Channel-Two-Way/dp/B001WM73P0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1320713993&sr=8-2)

Here is the Base Station (http://www.amazon.com/Midland-XT511-22-Channel-Two-Way-Emergency/dp/B000P0O12I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320713964&sr=8-1)

I can't say enough about this thing:
- AM/FM Radio
- Clock with Alarm
- Flashlight
- Takes AA or rechargeable battery pack, same one the hand sets take!
- Hand crank for emergency power. So I can charge all the battery packs with it.
- USB power adapter to charge phones and such
- Weather Alert Radio
- Not water proof like the handsets but it is water "resistant".

Of all the things we have setup for our emergency preparations these are the items we get the most use out of and have the most fun with

Lastly, I would strongly recommend checking Craigslist. I got our Base Station radio, barely used, for $20!


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51j-NAbnKRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512kktCbuaL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

G-forceJunkie
11-07-2011, 5:06 PM
Anyone know the power level/range of these units?This might work for you. http://www.calquakeinlandempire.com/storetitles/Communications/midlandbasecamp.html

redrex
11-07-2011, 8:16 PM
Anyone know the power level/range of these units?

5 watts, same as the hand held units. But a gmrs license allows you to transmit up to 50 watts. Ohhh big power! Of course you would need more expensive equipment for that.

Databyter
11-07-2011, 8:53 PM
Exactly!!!! If you don't have a ham license, I'm not even going to recommend a ham radio brand or model (which are endless). Too many people getting them on the guise of "I'd only use it for an emergency," yet fail to get the required license for whatever excuse they come up with. Eventually those unlicensed types end up trying to use their "emergency only radio" and they are called called "bootleggers" & "jammers." They transmit illegally and cause nothing but headaches for legitimate hams. I'm not saying you are that type, but those types read threads like this.

If you don't want to get a ham license, I'd suggest maybe one of the FRS/GMRS radios. With GMRS, you do need a license, but there is no test to take and one license is good for the entire family. GMRS also has some mountain top repeaters, so technically you could get your signal out to someone that hears you. Although, they are NOT as good as ham radio to say the least, they are viable. Power restrictions and simple store bought antennas are not as plentiful. However, for just an "emergency," I guess they'll do.

Forget CB. It's called the "Chicken Band" for a reason.......
I've talked to people in different parts of the world on my "chicken Band" SSB unit. Of course it was a long time ago back when the skip was working good and I lived near a peak I had access to.
If you live high a SSB CB can do more than you think.

That being said I agree with ALL your advice. Just had to defend the poor neglected and abused CB band.

Databyter
11-07-2011, 8:55 PM
Very cool, thanks, guys
Just browsed the web to learn more about HAM licensing, and it looks very interesting.
I actually never thought about it.
I guess I'll do more research on my end and will re-post a more specific question.

It's a fun hobby. I studied for it about 4 times in my life and would have nailed the test if I had ever got around to taking it. I used to be so damn busy. Now I've been thinking I would try again.

Databyter
11-07-2011, 9:00 PM
I'm with Sinestr on this for two reasons. #1, I like the pinup pic :) #2, cost and ease of use.

HAM is a whole new world and you don't just hand someone a HAM handset and send them out the door :)

My family has standardized on GMRS radios. In fact I have the exact base station that Sinestr quoted. We used it this past week when we went Trick or Treating. I'm married with three kids and we use our radios pretty much every weekend. I clip on to my son who is five and that way when we go out I can just talk to him over the radio instead of being that parent who yells at their kids from across the park!

The kids have a pair of very small and very cheap FMS radios that we got at Target for like $15. I use rechargeable AA's in them and I have a charger in the car. Also the Base station stay in the car as well. I have some nicer, high end Midlands GMRS water proof dual power handsets for the adults :)

I'm telling you the sound on these things is very good, the range is excellent and no roaming charges. OH and that's another thing. We always seem to end up at some event, lake or outing where there is no cell service. It doesn't bother us, we just break out the radios :)

Here are the handsets we use, for the adults (http://www.amazon.com/Midland-GXT1050VP4-36-Mile-50-Channel-Two-Way/dp/B001WM73P0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1320713993&sr=8-2)

Here is the Base Station (http://www.amazon.com/Midland-XT511-22-Channel-Two-Way-Emergency/dp/B000P0O12I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320713964&sr=8-1)

I can't say enough about this thing:
- AM/FM Radio
- Clock with Alarm
- Flashlight
- Takes AA or rechargeable battery pack, same one the hand sets take!
- Hand crank for emergency power. So I can charge all the battery packs with it.
- USB power adapter to charge phones and such
- Weather Alert Radio
- Not water proof like the handsets but it is water "resistant".

Of all the things we have setup for our emergency preparations these are the items we get the most use out of and have the most fun with

Lastly, I would strongly recommend checking Craigslist. I got our Base Station radio, barely used, for $20!


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51j-NAbnKRL._SL500_AA300_.jpg
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512kktCbuaL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Base radio units are great if you have somebody monitoring you on a portable somewhere, but as others have mentioned you will need to get a Ham license to truely have a radio that is powerful enough or has access to repeaters, that can be used to contact over distance reliably for emergencies.

I recommend getting GMRS radios anyway, they are useful as heck. But they won't go far and they won't go over the ridgline.

GrizzlyGuy
11-08-2011, 6:21 AM
If you can afford it, an Iridium sat phone (http://www.iridium.com/default.aspx) is another option for you. You won't be limited to talking only to people who are hams, communications will be more private, and you can talk business as well (prohibited on the ham bands). The usability is similar to cell phones (easy, mom and dad would appreciate that) and no license is required.

Stay away from the Globalstar sat phones. They are less expensive but much less reliable. Ask me how I know... :(

kemasa
11-08-2011, 6:49 AM
If you are talking about emergency communication after some major event and you want to be able to talk to those who might be able to help you, then there is only one real choice and that is HAM radio. Other items might be good for personal communication with friends and family, but that won't get you talking with those who might be able to send major rescue efforts to you unless you have really special friends and family. HAM radio is the backup radio communications in most areas. While high power can be helpful, it is not always needed unless you need to talk a really long distance. In most cases, help is going to be closer. Also, typically you don't need much power to reach a repeater, but in a major event repeaters might be down. It seems that most HAMs don't try to see what power they actually need, but instead just use higher power.