Saturday, May 8, 2010

Handheld Radios

This photo was taken with the Orion ST-80-T telescope and Pentax DSLR camera.

Boondock Product: Handheld Radios

Handheld radios are the convenient things to come along in years, especially for RV'ers .  They are useful when backing up trailers and motorhomes.  You can call in your errant fisherman for lunch or dinner.  While hiking you can keep in contact with your group should you decide to go off on your own.  Even in suburban malls they are great for keeping track of others.  They also work well for keeping in touch with other vehicles as you go down the road.

Current radio broadcast regulations have added GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) which require a $75 license to operate. GMRS uses commercial grade, UHF-FM radios identical to those used by public safety agencies, businesses, and other governmental, commercial and industrial licensees in the Private Land Mobile Radio Services.  But they still have the FSR bands which do not require a license.  So with these radio's you should use the FSR frequencies only, unless you have purchased a GMRS license.

Here are my recommendations for important features in a handheld radio set.

First, make sure they take AA batteries.  The radio's with AAA batteries do not work as long.  You will constantly be replacing batteries.  The rechargeable batteries are fine, but for boondockers they are just more stuff to carry!  The radio's should be able to be recharged by 12 volts.

I like the Midland radios because their squelch control is built into the radio.  No knobs to turn and set.  Now squelch is not that big of a deal until you hand the radio to someone that does not know how to set a squelch control.  It is just much easier to hand them a radio that works without adjustments.

The Weather Band and all-alerts setting makes it indespensable in tornado country, coastal areas or in adverse weather conditions.  All- Alert Weather Band on this radio means you do not have to carry extra radios on your travels.  For those of us that live in a area where All Alert Weather Band is rarely, if ever, used this is a cheap alternative to buying a dedicated radio.

Here are a couple of important tips I've learned using these radio:

If you mix and match radios the numbers on the channels may not match the broadcast frequencies.  So channel one on Midland might not match channel one on Motorola.  By the radios as a matched set. This is they way they are most commonly sold. If your friend has a different brand of radio, try scanning while one radio is broadcasting to find a match if they are not calibrated to work with each other.

Second, in an emergency try the GMRS channels.  Many ham radio clubs monitor the GMRS frequencies to make sure that users abide by FCC rules and have a license.  In an emergency go ahead and use the higher powered frequency.

My recommendation for a handheld radio is the Midland offering  42 channels with a 36-mile GMRS range (although this distance standard nevers seems accurate when using in real life situations), DC adapter, rechargeable batteries and desktop charger.  It even includes a headset.   For fifty-five dollars a good value.





Jonny Rebel said...

great blog
can you tell me what model of Midland radio you have.

Vladimir Steblina said...

I have owned three generations of Midland radio's. I use them also fishing and bird hunting so they get abused and lost. My current radio is GXT775 which has been discontinued. I just lost a radio so will be buying the GXT795 mentioned in the blog.

As mentioned in the blog the important thing is the AA batteries. Midland has started making their cheaper radio's with AAA batteries. They run down fairly quickly and it seems like you always, always end up with a dead radio in the middle of a hunting trip. My friends finally threw away their AAA radios for that reason.

They are good radio's. Thanks for supporting the site and buying the radio's through the link on the blog.

Vladimir Steblina said...

I purchased the GXT795 radio and then promptly found the lost GXT775.

The GXT795 is a good radio and appears to be totally interchangeable with the GXT775.