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wadel

Which Technology?

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Here's the scenario:

 

My wife stays at the trailhead while I go on a hike, usually climbing a nearby peak (2-5 miles away as the crow files). Most often, there will be ridges between us (no line-of-sight, trailheads are typically below treeline). Our current 1/2 watt FSR's don't cut the mustard. I'm interested in some technology that will allow me to update her on my progress and her to contact me. She might hike part of the way as well so she won't be near our truck so we both need handhelds. There are so many technologies to investigate (MURS, GMRS, HAM) that I am a little overwhelmed right now. I would not be put-off by the licensing requirements for HAM but I'm not sure about the wife.

 

What direction would you experts recommend I persue? Thanks for any advice you can give me to point me in the right direction. :D

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By far, HAM gives you the most flexibility.

 

GMRS is mostly just FRS with more power. FRS is .5W, most GMRS that you can find is 2W, if you really hunt you can find 5W. GMRS will help if it's just a range problem. But if you're placing ridges between you, then I don't think that's going to help much. (You can generally ignore the trees. They do hurt the signal, but won't stop it.) Also, while there's no evidence that of strong enforcement, it take a $75 for a 5-year (?) license to be legal.

 

I can't remember the details about MURS right now, but I doubt if it does much better. With ham you can get 5W units and a choice of frequency bands. (2 meters does better then 440 and FRS/GMRS is up around 440). You're also more likely to find repeater and repeater systems that will help you with mountains and such. You can even set up a radio in your truck to act as a repeater. The bad news it that you'll have to convince your wife to study and take the test.

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And you don't need to be an electronics wiz to pass the test.

 

My wife (A German) passed it years ago when it WAS hard.

 

My daughter and a friend passed after a few (about 7) Friday night study-sessions.

 

:D

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By the time you factor cost of two high power GMRS units you aren't far away from what you can buy used 5 W handheld 2 meter Ham radios for on Ebay. The GMRS license for a family is $75. To get two tech licenses for HAM will cost $12 each for $24. Go with the Tech license. Get the book, Now You're Talking that gets you ready for the test ($19.95). Use the practice tests on eham.net. You'll blow right through the exam and be set for 10 years instead of 5.

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It looks like I can rule out GMRS. That leaves Ham and MURS. From what I've read so far, it sounds like both can skip (don't know if this is the correct term) somewhat and might be able to reach. However, it doesn't look like MURS has any possibilities of using repeaters. I like the possibility of using repeaters. I guess that leaves Ham. Thanks for the advice - I can now narrow my research down to one field :D

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MURS runs in a frequency band close to HAM's 2 meters, but is limited to 2W output. Typical ham HTs are 5W and a mobile runs 35-50W. So MURS doesn't looks like the best option.

Edited by GeckoGeek

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Have you thought about CB? In some ways it's like 2m operation. There are no repeaters involved, and no licensing.

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Wadel,

Greetings and howdy neighbor!

 

Dunno about your lovely wife, but mine has very little interest in learning about Amateur Radio - I have to learn to Swing Dance before she'll consider it...

 

Are you going to Moun10Goat's Event on Sunday? There will be at least 4 hams there, maybe 5. We can talk you into, err... I mean talk to you about Ham radio there. We'll have a few of our toys I'm sure.

 

Moun10Goat himself is currently studying the 'Now You're Talking' book like a fiend - He's racing my brother in law - I promised a 2m Mobile Ham radio with installation help and programming help to the first one with their license.

 

Citizens Band may be one way to go, but it's not as family friendly language-wise. There's no real restrictions on what can be spoken, and not everyone that transmits has a clean mouth.

 

I think you'd enjoy Amateur Radio.

 

(My Lovely XYL was looking over my shoulder, I may not have to learn to swing dance after all!)

 

Here's hoping!

 

OddTodd of Cadence - K7PKT

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Have you thought about CB? In some ways it's like 2m operation. There are no repeaters involved, and no licensing.

27 MHz can be kinda interesting in the way it propagates. It might get around obstacles a bit better, but it can be less reliable in short distances. I remember hearing stories that in WWII Germin tank commanders had a hard time reaching each other, but hams in America could hear them just fine. :lol:

 

While it's easy to find 5W units, the antennas for effective operation is rather large and prone to getting mangled.

 

Cadence:

Dunno about your lovely wife, but mine has very little interest in learning about Amateur Radio - I have to learn to Swing Dance before she'll consider it...

See if she'll accept Contra Dancing. I've done both square and contra and I find contra much simpler and more enjoyable. I think you have to be really energetic for swing.

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Wadel,

Greetings and howdy neighbor!

 

Dunno about your lovely wife, but mine has very little interest in learning about Amateur Radio - I have to learn to Swing Dance before she'll consider it...

 

Are you going to Moun10Goat's Event on Sunday? There will be at least 4 hams there, maybe 5. We can talk you into, err... I mean talk to you about Ham radio there. We'll have a few of our toys I'm sure.

 

Moun10Goat himself is currently studying the 'Now You're Talking' book like a fiend - He's racing my brother in law - I promised a 2m Mobile Ham radio with installation help and programming help to the first one with their license.

 

Citizens Band may be one way to go, but it's not as family friendly language-wise. There's no real restrictions on what can be spoken, and not everyone that transmits has a clean mouth. 

 

I think you'd enjoy Amateur Radio.

 

(My Lovely XYL was looking over my shoulder, I may not have to learn to swing dance after all!)

 

Here's hoping!

 

OddTodd of Cadence - K7PKT

Unfortunately, I have a previous work commitment this weekend. It would be nice to talk to some people with experience in person. I hadn't even thought of CB. Too many choices! :lol: I still like the idea of Ham and repeaters though. I often go solo and it would be nice to reach further. I know that many years ago, my friend used to tap into the phone system with his HT unit - is that possible or have cell phones done away with this?

 

Time for me to track down that book ;)

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I know that many years ago, my friend used to tap into the phone system with his HT unit - is that possible or have cell phones done away with this?

It's call an autopatch and is still in use. Even though I now carry a cell phone, it is nice to know I can also use my HT to access the phone system.

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In trying to make it more palatable, I told my lovely wife that I'd get rid of my cell phone if she got her license - it would save us a little over $30 per month.

 

I read that link on Contra Dancing, thanks! Very interesting. I already tried selling her on square dancing, maybe this will work?

 

Wadel,

Sorry you can't make it to the event, if you want to contact someone about it, there's a few Amateur Radio groups in the Pullman area that would be relatively easy to contact. I'm sure we will meet at one of the events soon.

 

If you want, you can order the book online from ARRL.org, and Amazon.com even has it.

 

Good luck, happy hunting.

 

Todd - K7PKT

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One thing about an autopatch is that there are increasing restrictions on its use. You can call from your car on your cell phone and tell your wife you are running late. This kind of autopatch is frowned on in some parts of the country (like mine).

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In trying to make it more palatable, I told my lovely wife that I'd get rid of my cell phone if she got her license - it would save us a little over $30 per month.

Probably not a good idea. Keep in mind that cell phones are more private, you can't conduct any business for commercial gain over ham frequencies, and the auto-patch could already be in use.

 

I read that link on Contra Dancing, thanks! Very interesting. I already tried selling her on square dancing, maybe this will work?

Worth a shot. It's no where near as complex.

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Not sure if this has been covered; there are repeaters on the GMRS which are usable with handhelds. Some of them are private and may require an annual fee. You need to check if there are any repeaters in the areas you are interested in.

 

That said, there are many more repeaters on the Ham bands. These are all accessable with handhelds on several bands. Some are private, but many are open. The most popular is the 2 Meter band. Others are the 1.25M (222 MHz) and the .7M (440 Mhz). Some handhelds haver 2 or even 3 of these bands. If you can pass the multiple choice test, this is the way to go.

 

In another recent topic here, I described how I talked over 75 miles with a handheld on a 2M repeater, and 300 miles with a handheld on a 222Mhz linked repeater system.

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Not sure if this has been covered; there are repeaters on the GMRS which are usable with handhelds. .

Sort of. Most of the GMRS units sold are not cabable of transmitting on the repeater's input frequency. Be sure to read the manual and see if it makes any mention of repeater operation if that's important.

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Thanks to all for the great information! It still looks like Ham is the most versatile technology and would be able to handle more situations. Plus, my dad is an old Ham operator and I might be able to get some help from him (he never had a HT unit - just the home unit and a mobile in the truck). I've ordered the book and will keep researching. Thanks again for all the good advice. :ph34r:

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Thanks to all for the great information! It still looks like Ham is the most versatile technology and would be able to handle more situations. Plus, my dad is an old Ham operator and I might be able to get some help from him (he never had a HT unit - just the home unit and a mobile in the truck). I've ordered the book and will keep researching. Thanks again for all the good advice. :ph34r:

read the book, then take the practice test over at qrz.com about 30 times.

 

you'll pass no problemo

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Thanks to all for the great information!  It still looks like Ham is the most versatile technology and would be able to handle more situations.  Plus, my dad is an old Ham operator and I might be able to get some help from him (he never had a HT unit - just the home unit and a mobile in the truck).  I've ordered the book and will keep researching.  Thanks again for all the good advice.  :grin:

read the book, then take the practice test over at qrz.com about 30 times.

 

you'll pass no problemo

Definitely read the book.

 

The practice tests are also available from eham.net

 

If you use them only, you will miss some as there are questions that don't seem to show up on the online practice tests. The book will cover those holes.

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Plus, my dad is an old Ham operator and I might be able to get some help from him

It's not clear if you dad is inactive, but one of the trends in Ham radio today is old operators coming back into the hobby and discovering all the new modes.

 

There's a lot more to the hobby the yakking into a mike or listening to Morse code. (Not that there's anything wrong with that if that's what you want to do.)

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Hey wadel, well looks like you have plenty of info and some good info to. i wanted to mention to you that a good regular vhf handheld will perform well on simplex (line of sight) better than you think in the woods or hilly terrain. that would get my vote anytime of day over gmrs,murs,frs and cell phones etc. I use mine dual band HT and have a dual band cross band repeat radio in my truck and set it up to cross band in case I need it. Example i can set up the radio in my truck to access a repeater in the local area,lets say like in 30 miles south of here, i go to find a cache and i may not exactly know where i am ?? no problem or say i get in a bind or lets says you need some help for someone else out there or yourself. i can jsut start iding and my signal will then go out thru my truck radio which can run 50 watts but you only transmit say 1 watt or 2 watts into thru your ht depending on what kind of ht you use, then your signal is repeated out thru the cross banding radio in truck and comes back the same way. So yes HT are well worth the time and investment and there are some good ones out there for around 99 to 100 dollars jut vhf modes only. the dual banders are more.

so Ham is the way to go in my opinion and I wish you and your wife good luck and hope you decide to take the tech test.

 

Happy Hunting

Continouswave

WV5V and Volunteer Examiner

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GeckoGeek is correct, the GMRS would have to do split transmit and receive and have tones.

All Ham HTs have this ability, so are able to use repeaters. With Ham HTs you can also connect an external antenna, directly or through cable to a higher point to further your range. One useful hint is to throw a line over a high branch and pull up an antenna connected to a length of coax cable. This can be a flexible J-pole or dipole.

Get your Ham license.

Edited by EScout

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