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Walkie-Talkies (Handheld two-way radios)


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Explorer
BFF Donor

I have a couple of Motorola TALKABOUT two-way radios (Model T9680RSAME) that I am not very happy with.

 

Last year, during a weeklong BF research expedition in WA, part of our group had an encounter on the other side of a hill from my location but I could not hear the messages they were sending back.  It was all static and garbled.

 

The distance was between 0.5 mile and 1 mile, but it was on the other side of a hill.

 

I want to upgrade to something better, but am not familiar with technology options and whether higher wattage will improve the reception.

 

Outdoor Gear lab recommends the Backcountry Access BC Link 2.0 (see reviews below).

But it is pricey and geared toward backcountry skiers.

Outdoor Gear Lab claims that the unit does well in obstructed range tests.

 

https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-walkie-talkies

 

Some reviews in Amazon claim that it performs well in backcountry, but not sure if there are better options than this expensive unit.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Backcountry-Access-Link-2-0-Radio/dp/B07BM328XQ/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=Backcountry+Access&qid=1620165637&sr=8-5

 

I welcome any suggestions from BFF members. 

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Skinwalker13
BFF Donor

The problem with any receiver is going to be line of sight. Passing radio waves through base rock is always going to fail unless your using some sort of booster on the ridge or using satellite based coms.

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norseman
BFF Donor

Unless you can bounce a repeater.

 

 

 

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NorthWind

That's pretty nifty, @norseman Thanks for sharing that! I love "geekool" (it's a word now) stuff like this. And simple!

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BlackRockBigfoot
BFF Donor
Posted (edited)

@Explorer

 

I have been using the Baofeng UV5R handhelds and have been pretty happy with them.  It sounds like you are investigating with a group, so one of the benefits to the Baofeng is that they are inexpensive...so you can outfit each member of your group quite easily.  
 

The handsets can be programmed to operate on a variety of bands depending on your licensing and comfort level.  
 

These work well enough on their own, but adding in the DIY repeater that Norse linked above would really add to their range.

 

I sent you a link via pm to another forum that has some decent information about the Baofeng.

Edited by BlackRockBigfoot
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norseman
BFF Donor

The only other options are Satellite communication. Like a Garmin inreach where you can text back and forth or like a iridium sat phone.

 

When I was on the fire dept we used repeaters to bounce off of to talk to dispatch in Colville. Because often there was a mountain range in the way. How well that little DIY repeater would work is anyone’s guess.

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MIB
MODERATOR

I would skip the FRS radios and go with CB or ham.    Bigger, weigh more, but work considerably better.    I'm not sure what's current now.    I used to sometimes lug my father's Midland 40 channel portable along with its bucket load of AA batteries if we knew we'd need communications.   It was good for 5 miles or more essentially always and at times, closer to 15 miles.    I don't have personal experience with ham radios but friends who four wheeled had them, usually portables, and they seemed better yet.

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Huntster

Since I go way out in the Alaskan wilderness alone annually (or more often), and have gotten myself in several pickles out there, emergency communications has been a big thing with me. Trying to avoid subscription services, I had considered a HAM license and handheld radio to communicate with passing aircraft, but I've given up on emergency radios (even though a federal wildlife officer using his radio saved our bacon just the other day). I finally broke down and bought an iridium satellite phone. The service will cost me @ $41 per month, and the roll over terms will allow the accumulation of up to 1200 minutes of airtime. Combined with a personal locator beacon kept in my pocket at all times, I'm covered, and all over the planet.

 

Granted, that really doesn't do any good for a group operating in a few square mile area. In all honesty, the best option in that case are handheld CB radios. Their power and range are as good or better than the other unlicensed public bands, and they are excellent while on the road because truckers use them extensively.

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