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I need advice on a 2 way radio. I'm hiking in the mountains along and need a emergency radio. It can't be a "line of sight" radio since I'm in the mountains. Cell is useless. I'd like something light and rechargeable that doesn't cost a bunch. I had a spot brand emergency GPS unit years ago but I really don't want to pay their yearly fee. I'm not riding so it would just be for "lost, snake bite, heart attack, etc" I have a GPS with me and could tell someone my location if I could get someone on the radio. Maybe a handheld ham?
 

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A handheld is going to be line of sight because it is going to be VHF or UHF. No way around it, except to use repeaters. Repeaters mean using the 2-meter (144MHz) amateur radio band or joining up with a GMRS repeater group in the area that you frequent.

The GMRS repeaters work the same as the amateur repeaters do. They have an input frequency, an output frequency, and some sort of PL tone that is required to access them. The difference is that there are far fewer GMRS repeaters and you usually need to ask for permission to use the repeater and will then be given the access codes. For example, there is one GMRS repeater near you, Sylva 600. If that repeater doesn't cover the area you intend to frequent you'll need to find another one that does and good luck with that.

The amateur repeaters are either open or closed. If open then the access data is published and you are free to use the repeater if you are a properly licensed amateur. There are also repeaters on other frequencies, most notably the 440MHz band and dual-band radios with 2m/440 are popular.

You have one local 2m repeater near you, KF4DTL on Kings Mountain. There are other repeaters nearby in adjacent counties, I am sure.

As to the radios, good radios are to be had from Alinco, Yaesu, ICOM, Kenwood and the like. These will run from a coupla benjies to a grand. It pains me to say this, but Baofeng is your friend. Cheap Chinese radios of decent quality and indecipherable instructions, they work well and typically cover a wide range of VHF and UHF frequencies, have plenty of memories decent TX power and pretty much every feature you need. The venerable Baofeng UV-5R can be had, I shit you not, for $26 on Amazon. I have one permanently mounted to my KLR in a MOLLE pouch on the tank. I have it programmed with all the NOAA weather channels, all of the southern California 2m repeaters, Forest Service and BLM frequencies, All FRS and GMRS frequencies and all of the local GMRS repeaters, even the ones I don't have permission to operate on.

Every ham in the US looks down his/her nose at the Baofeng as a pukey piece of cheap Chinese crap that no self-respecting ham would stoop to using and every one of them has one, too. I haven't used my ICOMs or Kenwoods in years.

There's a lot to talk about on this, hit me up if you need to.
 
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The Baofeng UV-5R is one I've been looking at.

UPDATE: Ordered. Might need advice on set up ;)
 

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Tom, I have been watching Dr. Carlsons Lab utube videos as don't watch 99% of the tv crap.

Think you might be interested plus:

If your Icon or Kenwood have some age on them you might want to replace all the capacitors to prevent any damage due to the problem where capacitors degrade and turn in to or act like resistors. (I have been wondering about the amp and receiver, stereo bought overseas in the late 70's).

Check out here: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_speedtest&hsimp=yhs-pty_speedtest&hspart=pty&p=Dr+Carlsons+lab+utube#id=2&vid=e7e253a985c5783970a0acc7b244c22d&action=click

He did work on a Kenwood amplifier (cannot find at the moment) that had 3,000 volts inside the case during normal operation.

Still tons of snow in WY .... take care. Mike
 

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Hi Mike,

I think I might consider doing that work on my IC-707 HF transceiver if it became a problem, but the handhelds would be too big of a pain. It's kind of a bummer to realize that a radio I bought new is now considered 'vintage' and almost an antique.

Thanks for the video links; I'll be checking that out as his set-up looks pretty impressive!
 
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A handheld is going to be line of sight because it is going to be VHF or UHF. No way around it, except to use repeaters. Repeaters mean using the 2-meter (144MHz) amateur radio band or joining up with a GMRS repeater group in the area that you frequent.

The GMRS repeaters work the same as the amateur repeaters do. They have an input frequency, an output frequency, and some sort of PL tone that is required to access them. The difference is that there are far fewer GMRS repeaters and you usually need to ask for permission to use the repeater and will then be given the access codes. For example, there is one GMRS repeater near you, If that repeater doesn't cover the area you intend to frequent you'll need to find another one that does and good luck with that.

The amateur repeaters are either open or closed. If open then the access data is published and you are free to use the repeater if you are a properly licensed amateur. There are also repeaters on other frequencies, most notably the 440MHz band and dual-band radios with 2m/440 are popular.

You have one local 2m repeater near you, ...on Kings Mountain. There are other repeaters nearby in adjacent counties, I am sure.

As to the radios, good radios are to be had from Alinco, Yaesu, ICOM, Kenwood and the like. These will run from a coupla benjies to a grand. It pains me to say this, but Baofeng is your friend. Cheap Chinese radios of decent quality and indecipherable instructions, they work well and typically cover a wide range of VHF and UHF frequencies, have plenty of memories decent TX power and pretty much every feature you need. The venerable Baofeng UV-5R can be had, I shit you not, for $26 on Amazon. I have one permanently mounted to my KLR in a MOLLE pouch on the tank. I have it programmed with all the NOAA weather channels, all of the southern California 2m repeaters, Forest Service and BLM frequencies, All FRS and GMRS frequencies and all of the local GMRS repeaters, even the ones I don't have permission to operate on.

Every ham in the US looks down his/her nose at the Baofeng as a pukey piece of cheap Chinese crap that no self-respecting ham would stoop to using and every one of them has one, too. I haven't used my ICOMs or Kenwoods in years.

There's a lot to talk about on this, hit me up if you need to.
Tom,

I hope I'm not hijacking the thread, but I know nothing about any of this stuff. On the biennial occasions where I am lucky enough to get time off from both work and family to ride far enough into the boonies where there is no cell coverage and very low human traffic, I take that time to enjoy the silence and solitude and don't listen to anything but nature.
I wonder if a UV-54 would be worth carrying just to check weather and have as an emergency contact device. I'm talking about the remote woodsy areas in the upper midwest. (MN, WI, MI, SD, ND, WY, MT) Or maybe I'd be better off with a Garmin InReach or Spot.
I'd appreciate hearing your opinion on this.

Thanks!
 

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i use a spot sat messenger when i'm in the mountains. cell service non existent sometimes. has a cool tracking feature too. every ten min. sends off a gps coordinates of where u are.
 

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@Vgraf,

The Garmin and SPOT devices are probably the easiest way to keep in touch with friends and family. It is a bit spendy to buy them and they do require a subscription, which in the case of the SPOT can run ~$200/yr. The Garmin subscription will run from ~$150 up to ~$1000/yr.

Both offer tracking that friends and family can see and you can keep a record of.

Both offer some sort of emergency response. If someone is the type that feels the need for an emergency response service, I think they'd be a fool to potentially place their life solely in the hands of either the Garmin or the SPOT. These devices use the Iridium satellite constellation, which is a commercial constellation that covers most of the earth's surface with service. There is nothing wrong with the constellation, per se, though some of the satellites of the original constellation are 20 years old and beyond their design life. The constellation is being maintained and some new satellites have been launched.

The issue that I have with using Iridium for emergency services is that the device needs to have a clear view of the sky and needs to be properly oriented. If the antenna is facing down it probably won't work very well, if at all. If there is heavy foliage cover, it won't work well. If in a deep ravine with a limited sky view, it probably won't work well (the satellites are hauling ass and won't stay in view long enough to handshake). The devices will continue to broadcast the emergency beacon until they are either shut off or the batteries die, but that doesn't help much if you're upside down, under heavy foliage, or have a poor view of the sky. Further, when the signal is received by a satellite and routed to a response center, company personnel need to alert the appropriate emergency services and those services have to respond. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. They have helped many people out, but they have also failed a lot.

If you need emergency response services, do it right and get a PLB. That's what PLBs are for.

With the radios, the purchase price is cheap. They can be programmed with weather channels, all the 2m amateur repeaters (and 440MHz, if you like 440), as well as GMRS and FRS. You will need to access repeaters to really get out as these radios are VHF and operate line-of-site. If there is a repater on the top of a mountain adn you can see the mountain, the radio will reach it. It won't transmit through the mountain or bend around terrain. Additionally, with a little research, you can uncover BLM, Park Ranger, law enforcement, power company, oil company, logging, etc, frequencies. These are useful if you are in an area not serviced by radio repeaters.

You'll need to become acquainted with the operating protocols of the radio and the services you are entitled to use via licensing and membership. You also need to have some situational awareness skills, self-confidence, and intestinal fortitude. You'll need to know what ancillary frequencies are likely to be in use so that when you get on the oil company dispatch or BLM Ranger's frequency and scream for help, you'll know what frequency they listen on. They won't like it, but when you're in a jam folks will help.

I carry paper maps (because the batteries don't die), a compass, a GPS, a radio, and a SPOT. The spot is for tracking and for sending my wife an "All OK" message in the morning and in the evening. During the day she can have a look at the tracklog if she wants to. From the maps and the GPS I can get a precise location. Nothing is more frustrating to a rescue team than a lack of a precise location. With a map and a compass I can walk my butt out without walking in circles.

Of course, I will also have several knives, a weapon with ammunition, a whistle, a rather complete trauma kit, at least a quart of water, and a hat. TMI, I know...
 
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i use a spot sat messenger when i'm in the mountains. cell service non existent sometimes. has a cool tracking feature too. every ten min. sends off a gps coordinates of where u are.
Nice!

I was just checking the plans out.......if I understand correctly the Flex plan let's you go month to month when need be? Probably would need only for a couple of trips during the year
 

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Discussion Starter #16

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i use a spot sat messenger when i'm in the mountains. cell service non existent sometimes. has a cool tracking feature too. every ten min. sends off a gps coordinates of where u are.
That looks to big to fit in my trunk but it could be that I'm looking at it on a 75" TV. LOL
 
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