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PREP Radios for farm/ranch/BOL
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NW Missouri, Home of the Black Flag
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    6,172

    Radios for farm/ranch/BOL

    With the wealth of knowledge at this forum, any suggestions on farm/ranch/BOL communication systems?

    I was thinking along the lines of a base station and hand held radios.

    Frequencies?

    FM/UHF/VHF?

    Power in watts for several miles of straight-line range?

    Brands?

    Does anyone else use such a setup?

    Palmetto
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

    Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, Sed nomini tuo da gloriam (Not to us, not to us, O Lord, But to thy name give glory.)

  2. #2
    Perhaps you should specify how much you can afford and how will you confiure your radio system. A Base station setup in the house? A mobile unit installed in a tractor and a handheld unit?

    Here is a link to start exploring and looking around http://www.twowayradioonline.com/Com...e%20Radios.asp

    (I lost a bunch of info when I updated this post, sorry will have to reconstruct and reply later.)

    The info at the link above is for a professional radio not a toy. These are mobile radios used as such, or when combined with a 120v to 12v power supply as a base station. They are typically 40-45 watts output. UHF GMRS frequencies a $70 FCC license will be good for anyone in your household to operate these radios.

    A base station will consist of a 45watt Mobile unit mounted atop an AC power supply that provides 12vdc and an exterior roof antenna.

    A mobile setup eliminates the power supply and requires a truck/tractor cab mounted mobile antenna.
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    Last edited by Double_A; 11-03-2013 at 12:27 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    In the Matrix.
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    1,705
    MURS radios would be my vote.
    "There are those who said that this day would never come, what are they to say now?" - Unknown Covenant Prophet, Halo 2 trailer.

    Only A Mule is Positive. Keep An Open Mind. - Unknown

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Masterchief117 View Post
    MURS radios would be my vote.
    They'd get my vote if the range was less than a couple miles, 2watt VHF output. But I only know of hand-helds MURS.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Alabama, CSA
    Posts
    10,225
    Well there's nothing wrong with tried and true CB radio. Farmers still do well with it around here, and have for decades. There are still handheld CB's out there, but not sure about the new market for those. This is where a base antenna will be important for whatever choice you make. You can probably find a low cost or free CB base antenna on craigslist, along with a 25-50ft push up antenna pole.

    There are several steps upward you can take. MURS already mentioned, or getting licensed for ham radio.

    Depending on your range requirements, FRS/GMRS radios are workable, but limit your base station abilities. I have built a 1/4 wave 70cm antenna to operate on FRS/GMRS that worked very well on a handheld radio.

    Although I've never owned one of these, found them odd to have been on the market.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Radio-Shack-...item2ecb736d08

    Throw out a few more questions and I'm sure you can end up narrowing down a path to your comm issue.
    Alabama - Independent Now and Forever - Noli Me Tangere

    The Confederacy - Fighting Terrorism Since 1861

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,293
    I will be getting my base station online this afternoon.

    I'm located on the highest point in the county. Base station specs:

    Radio: Galazy DX2517 with range extension mods, AM/FM/USB/LSB/CW
    Extra: 550W amp (almost never used, but there if needed)
    Antenna: A-99 dipold, 10 foot mast on peak of roof, antenna base 30+ feet

    My truck has a President Lincoln, range extension mods, AM/FM/USB/LSB/CW
    Extra: 250W

    I like to have HF radios with veriable power so I can stay quiet and local, or be able to reach out there. There are also a ton of CBs out there in the environment that makes for building a comms net of locals easy.

    FRS is ok for piddlin' around the property close by, but not as a main comms net.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Western NC
    Posts
    1,328
    I am going to jump on the Ham bandwagon. I bought a couple of Baofeng UV-3's HT radios, I know some may think it's just a toy, but for short range comm's these radio's are great. You can put them on any 2M/440 frequency and either go through a repeater or use them in simplex mode. I used mine for a special event where I only needed a mile or so range on simplex and it worked very well. The battery lasted all day and I could have used it for another day before recharging. I even had one of my Ham friends that was monitoring the frequency that was 4 miles away hear me using my 2W Baofeng. And if you lose or break it, you are only out $30. These radio's are small and very lightweight and you can even pick up FM over the air broadcast stations. Plus, the Technician test is not that hard to pass and gives you other options to use. ONE THING YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL OFF, you can also receive public service frequencies but also you can transmit on these frequencies too if you are not careful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NW Missouri, Home of the Black Flag
    Posts
    6,172
    Looking to stay away from Ham freq because on the limits of commercial use and the extended range.

    Looking for a setup to communicate from the house to tractors, individuals.

    Looking into the MURS.

    Palmetto
    ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

    Non nobis, non nobis, Domine, Sed nomini tuo da gloriam (Not to us, not to us, O Lord, But to thy name give glory.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    suburban minnesota
    Posts
    178
    MURS is probably the way to go. Because it is VHF, it will go further than the FRS radios. With a decent base antenna, you should easily get 5-10 miles to a portable, probably up to 20 to a mobile unit with a good antenna. I believe that there are 4 discrete channels at 151 and 154 mhz, so unless they are already occupied nearby, you should be good to go. I am in the process of disposing of much of my collected electronics and actually have a new in the box Radio Shack 2 channel MURS mobile unit to find a home for. With the "narrowbanding" of business and public safety frequencies, VHF portable and base radios are on EBAY for relatively cheap. Programming and maintenance costs are not cheap. FRS would work much better if external antennas were allowed.

  10. #10
    Back in the mid to late 1990's Mom used a base CB radio with a 20ft whip antenna at the shop down in Key West to talk to Dad out in the Atlantic on the edge of the reef around 14 to 15 miles with no problems.

    My Grand Parents did the same thing in to late 70's.

    I am guessing since the Atlantic ocean is some what flat and there are no obstructions where the shop was located it worked very well, I would think except for the curvature of the earth the CB radio did the job well.

    Now the GOM was another story, no range at all maybe 5 miles at the most.

    The Cuban fisherman really messed up the channels from 1 to 19 with there constant talking and singing, dad will yell at them to get off the local fishing and emergency channels!

    SIRR1

    SIRR1
    A hero is a man who does what he can. Romain Rolland

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Klamath County, Oregon
    Posts
    6,761
    I've been mulling the same topic off and on. I don't want something that requires licensing, though. What is the range on CB radios? I know my dad and my brothers used to have those in their vehicles (prior to cell phones). Are they still on the market new? (Though maybe older used ones would be better quality, since quality of most everything seems to be going to pot.)

    Kathleen
    Behold, these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him.
    Job 26:14

  12. #12
    I have family that are still active farmers, they farm 5 quarters on the praires scattered about a 3 mile radius, there is no cellphone coverage within 20 miles of them so they are out of luck with cellphones. They do have a CB with a high mounted antenna it works so-so. I suspect they need to have new coax and waterproofed connectors.

    I would imagine the MURS with it being VHF and 2 watts might work ok, as the whole area is flat as a pancake.

    True GMRS would absolutely work for my family. At 45w UHF for mobiles and 4w for handhelds this would punch through. But with that effectiveness and reliability comes cost. The 45watt mobiles (shown in my post #2) cost $275 to $300. Handhelds are in the same price range.

    For a Base you need a 12V power supply for about $100 (or run it off a deep cycle battery with a 120v battery trickle charger &/or solar panel.) and an exterior antenna with cable can be surprisingly pricey, but if your antenna is crap so will be your radio system, an antenna can make or break a radio system!

    There is no one size fits all and you generally get what you pay for although some things can be better value than others.

    Distance & Terrain are unknowns here and they can make ALL the difference in the world in making the decision on what to get. But since the mention of Bug-out as a consideration that additionally complicates things.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Freeholder View Post
    I've been mulling the same topic off and on. I don't want something that requires licensing, though. What is the range on CB radios? I know my dad and my brothers used to have those in their vehicles (prior to cell phones). Are they still on the market new? (Though maybe older used ones would be better quality, since quality of most everything seems to be going to pot.)

    Kathleen
    For CB radios take a look here: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/cb_radio.html

    Range & clarity can vary considerably from good to worthless it all depends. Back in the late 70's and early 80's I had one in my car. Around town and the roads range was a couple miles, sometimes clear sometimes garbled. Drive 1500' up the side of a hill and wow 40 miles and clear talking.

  14. #14
    I want to take the opportunity on this thread to plug a book I got from Amazon.

    The book is Are You Radio Prepared?

    http://www.amazon.com/Are-Radio-Prep...rds=murs+radio

    The kindle version is $2.99 and WELL worth it, really! The book is a primer for beginners and those who know only just a little about radio. This book will answer the vast majority of questions asked here in TB2K.

    Chapters;
    1 Local News & Info (AM/FM, Weather receivers, scanners)
    2 World-wide News & Info (Shortwave receivers, tuning the bands, Freq/Wavelength, SSB)
    3 Two way radio - license free (Cellphones, CB, FRS, GMRS, MURS)
    4 MURS Radio in Depth
    5 Intro to Ham Radio
    6 How to get a Ham Lic
    7 The Wouxun UVD1P handheld radio
    8 A Community Low Powered FM radio Station

    I have been a CB/Scanner enthusiast for 35 years and a Ham for 20yrs. This book covers everything for Shortwave Listening to CB, FRS/GMRS, MURS, Ham radio. I see it's rated 4.5 stars out of 5.

    This book (softcover or kindle) will answer in an easily understood language so many question we get here.

    I'm not the author nor do I have any financial interest in this book. I simply think is it the best, single, easy to understand book I've seen for a person that is curious about radio.

    As the title asks, Are You Radio Prepared? you'll be a big step closer with this book.
    Last edited by Double_A; 11-03-2013 at 11:38 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,293
    Quote Originally Posted by Freeholder View Post
    I've been mulling the same topic off and on. I don't want something that requires licensing, though. What is the range on CB radios? I know my dad and my brothers used to have those in their vehicles (prior to cell phones). Are they still on the market new? (Though maybe older used ones would be better quality, since quality of most everything seems to be going to pot.)

    Kathleen
    Kathleen,

    I used to run the commute from Baltimore to Northern Virginia and was running a barefoot CB radio with SSB capability. There was a good group of folks that did the same thing at the time and I was getting about 40 miles range on SSB at 13 watts. I just got my base station back up and running and my first QSO was with a station in Idaho. Skip of course, but on a clear night with little noise (which is not tonight) I could do 65-70 miles on the base running SSB.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,293
    Got the base antenna up!
    Attached Images

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Klamath County, Oregon
    Posts
    6,761
    Quote Originally Posted by Double_A View Post
    For CB radios take a look here: http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/cb_radio.html

    Range & clarity can vary considerably from good to worthless it all depends. Back in the late 70's and early 80's I had one in my car. Around town and the roads range was a couple miles, sometimes clear sometimes garbled. Drive 1500' up the side of a hill and wow 40 miles and clear talking.
    Interesting site. Ok, I can afford pretty much any of those radios. We live in a valley, some of the people we'd want to talk to live on the tableland about half a mile away, pretty much straight line of sight to their place. Others live over hills from us, some as much as fourteen miles away. Could you, or someone, recommend one of those radios for our situation?

    Thank you!

    Kathleen

    ETA: For talking to the farthest person, we could probably have someone relay messages if necessary. The family up on the tableland would probably have the best site for a relay station.

    Also, one of my friends (about six miles away) has a radio relay tower in their yard -- it is owned by our church and relays broadcasts from the radio station at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. Could that tower be of use in TSHTF situation? Or, to rephrase that, how could we make that tower be of use when TSHTF?
    Behold, these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him.
    Job 26:14

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    20,202
    There use to be a number of good handheld CBs but now all I see is the Cobra and Midland with the shorty antenna and about useless past one mile and Radio Shack was the last outfit to make a serious handheld unit with a decent telescopic antenna and many would make the mistake of walking around with the antenna extended and break it off.
    Last edited by Publius; 11-03-2013 at 11:51 PM.

  19. #19
    I sugggest Baofeng also for many reasons.

    I did go with a Wouxun though which is $100 but the price went up when I went with the battery packs that would take AAs or rechargables. The power output is user selectable plus other features.

    I would stop for a minute to get a dozen or so Baofengs and keep them in a faraday cage wouxun.us sells them too. I will pimp this website as the dealer is here in the u.s. and he does care about the customer.

    Also Baofeng and Wouxun both are dual band and are about the same but the Wouxun in my opinion is a little tougher. Plus the Wouxun guy sells to many preppers. No customs no waiting and no duty tax either.

    There are many sellers so go with who you like. Also go to eham.com I think it is that does reviews and do your homework. I would get a mess of Baofengs to hand out to a group that were programmed a littke different to my Wouxuns just in case they fell into wrong hands and not have my frequency profile programmed into them. Both use earphones and tiny boom mics too. Just a note once you program away from the normal ham freqs the SWRs do go up.

    Both are cheap for a reason, cases are not as tough as I like and are not water proof or rain proof but the Baofengs will break when dropped before a Wouzun will.

    I am all for radio diversity and use a scanner CBs and the dual band ones mentioned. If your going CB make sure you get a CB with sideband at least for the base unit plus you may want to open it up so you can listen to out of band traffic. I have heard Indonesia on sideband when skip os rolling. CB skip will cut down on your local range though until conditions change a day later. But really it is good to talk around town with a CB as you know whats going on around town that shortwave can not tell you. Sometime you may HAVE to know where to avoid when things go bad.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,293
    Racsar,

    I heard stations on SSB yesterday evening from Australia and Hawaii as well as most of the western states of CONUS. Talked to a guy in Idaho. And thanks for jiggling an idea in my head, I'm going to put up a long wire in my attick for the old heath kit SW receiver that I have. I was wondering what I was going to do for it.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    suburban minnesota
    Posts
    178
    While the ubiquity of CB radios is appealing, that is a problem if you are using radios for work and safety reasons. Too many "ears" can impede your productivity. How many concrete trucks use CB radios? If serious about a real radio system, buy a GMRS repeater to install at a central high location with a good antenna. The cheap chinese portable radios can be programmed to work on the GMRS channels and are effectively "throw away" if they break or are lost. I believe a professional GMRS repeater can be had for $1500 and yes you need the $70 license from the FCC.

  22. #22
    Lone_Hawk I use my chain link fence for a SW antenna.
    For some reason it works better than the long wire I went to alot of trouble to put up.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    1,215
    what about a 6 DB gain antenna for the MURS?
    Mars or Mexico GO HOME!!!!!!!
    If wishes were horses we'd be eatin steak

    Going Galt 11-2012

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Double_A View Post
    They'd get my vote if the range was less than a couple miles, 2watt VHF output. But I only know of hand-helds MURS.
    MURS radios are allowed to be connected to an (non gain) external antenna.
    2W into a ground plane mounted at ~30' should give reliable comms out to at least 10 miles.

    Terry

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by savurselvs View Post
    what about a 6 DB gain antenna for the MURS?
    MURS may only use 'non gain' antennas.

    Terry

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Freeholder View Post
    Interesting site. Ok, I can afford pretty much any of those radios. We live in a valley, some of the people we'd want to talk to live on the tableland about half a mile away, pretty much straight line of sight to their place. Others live over hills from us, some as much as fourteen miles away. Could you, or someone, recommend one of those radios for our situation?

    Thank you!

    Kathleen

    ETA: For talking to the farthest person, we could probably have someone relay messages if necessary. The family up on the tableland would probably have the best site for a relay station.

    Also, one of my friends (about six miles away) has a radio relay tower in their yard -- it is owned by our church and relays broadcasts from the radio station at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. Could that tower be of use in TSHTF situation? Or, to rephrase that, how could we make that tower be of use when TSHTF?
    For comms beyond line of site either a repeater will be needed for VHF/UHF.

    GMRS is probably gong to be the least expensive.
    GMRS 'turn key' repeaters are available.

    Terry

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Freeholder View Post
    Also, one of my friends (about six miles away) has a radio relay tower in their yard -- it is owned by our church and relays broadcasts from the radio station at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. Could that tower be of use in TSHTF situation? Or, to rephrase that, how could we make that tower be of use when TSHTF?

    A tower is not limited to ONE antenna. It's a common practice to "rent" space on a commercial tower to others for their antennas. If your friends tower is tall enough it might be an option.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Double_A View Post
    A tower is not limited to ONE antenna. It's a common practice to "rent" space on a commercial tower to others for their antennas. If your friends tower is tall enough it might be an option.
    A local ham on a high ridge had several business band users rent tower space. It paid for the tower and quite a few radio toys. It is hard to make money with ham radio, but he found a way to do it.

    Terry

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