Radio for Plate Carrier?

GSPBirdDog

Marksman
Rating - 100%
35   0   0
Mar 21, 2010
329
18
Henryville
I have been researching this topic for the last week. I would like a two way radio system with PTT that would allow me to have comms with up to 10 people. I really don't know if I want to invest the time and jump down the rabbit hole of HAM radios and licensing. I would like to have the ability to talk with my group within a 5 mile radius but i know that is asking a bunch without going the HAM radio route. Any suggestions?
 

jsx1043

Master
Rating - 100%
34   0   0
Apr 9, 2008
3,212
113
Napghanistan
Quick and dirty answer: distance is all about terrain, output power and antenna length.

The easiest off the shelf answer is an FRS radio but those 20-30 mile ranges on the packaging is bunk and would only be possible under perfect scientific conditions. You may get five miles out of FRS in flat terrain - maybe - with good cloud cover. FRS (and GMRS) radios run on UHF frequencies that have a shorter wavelength that are better for penetrating structures rather than distance outdoors. I’ve had FRS radios out in the mountains in Colorado and maybe got a mile.

Traditional VHF radios like marine radios have a longer wavelength and bounce over terrain better, but are worse at penetrating structures. A marine mobile radio on a boat pushing 60-100 watts with a 15-foot (or more) antenna can bounce that signal off the water and get 50-100 miles.

Terrain - power - antenna


If you’re going to be predominantly outdoors, you might have good luck with MURS (Multi Use Radio Service) radios. No license, VHF operation, and fairly affordable. Pretty sure most can accept accessories like mics as earpieces as well.

To help narrow it down, can you share some of your other needs/duties for the radio? Might be able to help find one. Mission drives the gear train.
 
Last edited:

fullmetaljesus

Probably smoking a cigar.
Site Supporter
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Jan 12, 2012
4,148
149
On the pale blue dot
Quick and dirty answer: distance is all about terrain, output power and antenna length.

The easiest off the shelf answer is an FRS radio but those 20-30 mile ranges on the packaging is bunk and would only be possible under perfect scientific conditions. You may get five miles out of FRS in flat terrain - maybe - with good cloud cover. FRS (and GMRS) radios run on UHF frequencies that have a shorter wavelength that are better for penetrating structures rather than distance outdoors. I’ve had FRS radios out in the mountains in Coloradans got maybe a mile.

Traditional VHF radios like marine radios have a longer wavelength and bounce over terrain better, but are worse at penetrating structures. A marine mobile radio on a boat pushing 60-100 watts with a 15-foot (or more) antenna can bounce that signal off the water and get 50-100 miles.

Terrain - power - antenna


If you’re going to be predominantly outdoors, you might have good luck with MURS (Multi Use Radio Service) radios. No license, VHF operation, and fairly affordable. Pretty sure most can accept accessories like mics as earpieces as well.

To help narrow it down, can you share some of your other needs/duties for the radio? Might be able to help find one. Mission drives the gear train.
100% this.
 

GSPBirdDog

Marksman
Rating - 100%
35   0   0
Mar 21, 2010
329
18
Henryville
Quick and dirty answer: distance is all about terrain, output power and antenna length.

The easiest off the shelf answer is an FRS radio but those 20-30 mile ranges on the packaging is bunk and would only be possible under perfect scientific conditions. You may get five miles out of FRS in flat terrain - maybe - with good cloud cover. FRS (and GMRS) radios run on UHF frequencies that have a shorter wavelength that are better for penetrating structures rather than distance outdoors. I’ve had FRS radios out in the mountains in Colorado and maybe got a mile.

Traditional VHF radios like marine radios have a longer wavelength and bounce over terrain better, but are worse at penetrating structures. A marine mobile radio on a boat pushing 60-100 watts with a 15-foot (or more) antenna can bounce that signal off the water and get 50-100 miles.

Terrain - power - antenna


If you’re going to be predominantly outdoors, you might have good luck with MURS (Multi Use Radio Service) radios. No license, VHF operation, and fairly affordable. Pretty sure most can accept accessories like mics as earpieces as well.

To help narrow it down, can you share some of your other needs/duties for the radio? Might be able to help find one. Mission drives the gear train.

WOW! Thanks for all your input! It is much appreciated! My main goal "Mission" is to have a radio set up on my plate carrier with PTT in case the SHTF. I will be using this for training as well since I believe it is useless not to be prepared. I already have 3 people, including myself, in my household as well as 2 neighbors and 2 close friends that live roughly 5-6 miles away. If ther is ever an emergency situation that requires us to get plated up, I would like to be able to communicate with everyone on one frequency. I really don't want to jump down the rabbit hole into HAM LIC but having the ability to SCAN frequencies like weather, fire, ems, and local/state police would be great. I know many law enforcement agencies are encrypted now but anything is better than none.
 

freekforge

Expert
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Jul 20, 2012
2,139
48
marion
A gmrs license will cover you and your family. Gmrs can also use repeaters so that's nice too. I have FCC compliant gmrs and murs radios to train with and play with. Then I have a box of baofengs for when the fcc doesn't matter and they can do frs murs gmrs and ham it's just not legal to use those when it's not a life or death scenario. There's tacticool ptts that you can get for most of the basic radios.
 

GSPBirdDog

Marksman
Rating - 100%
35   0   0
Mar 21, 2010
329
18
Henryville
A gmrs license will cover you and your family. Gmrs can also use repeaters so that's nice too. I have FCC compliant gmrs and murs radios to train with and play with. Then I have a box of baofengs for when the fcc doesn't matter and they can do frs murs gmrs and ham it's just not legal to use those when it's not a life or death scenario. There's tacticool ptts that you can get for most of the basic radios.
What brand of gmrs and murs do you have and what kind of range do you get with them?
 

freekforge

Expert
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Jul 20, 2012
2,139
48
marion
I have btech wouxon and retevis radios. My favorite is the wouxon with it I can hit a repeater in muncie from marion with the wouxon kg805g. It's all line of sight so if one of the radios is elevated it makes a world of difference. You can get roll up slim Jim antennas that you can toss into a tree to help with distance for just a few bucks. The retevis can do WX and receive only on non gmrs frequencies so you can listen to public safety channels without worrying about keying up by accident. If you were to get a retevis you may have to update the software which is a 5minute job after calling their customer support.
 

fullmetaljesus

Probably smoking a cigar.
Site Supporter
Rating - 100%
6   0   0
Jan 12, 2012
4,148
149
On the pale blue dot
I have btech wouxon and retevis radios. My favorite is the wouxon with it I can hit a repeater in muncie from marion with the wouxon kg805g. It's all line of sight so if one of the radios is elevated it makes a world of difference. You can get roll up slim Jim antennas that you can toss into a tree to help with distance for just a few bucks. The retevis can do WX and receive only on non gmrs frequencies so you can listen to public safety channels without worrying about keying up by accident. If you were to get a retevis you may have to update the software which is a 5minute job after calling their customer support.
Isn't it technically illegal to have a grms radio with a removable antenna?
 

freekforge

Expert
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Jul 20, 2012
2,139
48
marion
Nope all the big name gmrs radios have them removable. FRS radios cant have have removable antennas and are limited on power to 2 watts. Gmrs can have a removable antenna and up to 50 watts of power on mobile/base setups and I believe 5 watts on HTs.
 

Cameramonkey

Grandmaster
Site Supporter
Rating - 100%
30   0   0
May 12, 2013
19,904
77
Camby area
Nope all the big name gmrs radios have them removable. FRS radios cant have have removable antennas and are limited on power to 2 watts. Gmrs can have a removable antenna and up to 50 watts of power on mobile/base setups and I believe 5 watts on HTs.
You are correct. But I have yet to see a clamshell GMRS with a removable antenna. Probably because they are backward compatible with FRS.

Baofeng came out with a GMRS thats in the same chassis as the UV5R, so all the accessories work with it. Beware early firmware sucked to the point of being unusable for some things (like locked on CTCSS on all channels) but supposedly was fixed.
 

freekforge

Expert
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Jul 20, 2012
2,139
48
marion
That's how the retevis was, locked ctcss/dcs codes no wx couldn't use the recieve only sides.i called customer service and the walked me through an update. I haven't heard very good things about the uv5r look alike on the forums and Facebook I'm going to let it mature a bit before I try one. The btech v1 wouxon and retevis use the same kenwood speaker mic connector as the uv5r. The bubble pack radios are useless outside of toys and extremely small unit talk abouts.
 

freekforge

Expert
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Jul 20, 2012
2,139
48
marion
That's good I may try them I haven't kept up with them in a bit. The extendo battery would definitely be nice to have available.
 

Cameramonkey

Grandmaster
Site Supporter
Rating - 100%
30   0   0
May 12, 2013
19,904
77
Camby area
Though I'm not sure why one wouldnt just fudge and run gmrs on their HT. If setup properly the violation is only symbolic because no actual harm is done, and nobody listening can tell the difference. :dunno: You're still on the correct frequency, width, output power, etc. Its just not "approved" for the specific use.

Now I wouldnt put that tweaked HT in a kid's hands because the settings could get tweaked into something not so compliant.
 

freekforge

Expert
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Jul 20, 2012
2,139
48
marion
Not saying anyone should but if you keep it polite and don't say anything too crazy or....extremist lol, on the radio you can talk gmrs on the uv5rs and no one would know. I have my approved radios for the hobby of it so I can respect the rules when on a net and so I can toss anyone a radio whether I programmed channel names or not and tell them what channel to go to without having to give a six digit frequency.
 

GSPBirdDog

Marksman
Rating - 100%
35   0   0
Mar 21, 2010
329
18
Henryville
I have btech wouxon and retevis radios. My favorite is the wouxon with it I can hit a repeater in muncie from marion with the wouxon kg805g. It's all line of sight so if one of the radios is elevated it makes a world of difference. You can get roll up slim Jim antennas that you can toss into a tree to help with distance for just a few bucks. The retevis can do WX and receive only on non gmrs frequencies so you can listen to public safety channels without worrying about keying up by accident. If you were to get a retevis you may have to update the software which is a 5minute job after calling their customer support.

You just brought up a great point! I never thought of throwing a slim Jim antenna up in a tree to get better signal. Great idea in worst case scenario!
 
Top Bottom