Radio communications?

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cipherdias

Full Member
Jan 1, 2014
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Wales
What are your thoughts and experience for short’ish range radio communications? I have been looking at maybe a pair of surplus British Army Clansman radios but the weight is quite off putting for one thing.

What have you tried guys? What worked well and what worked not so well?


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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
564
334
Ceredigion
What are your thoughts and experience for short’ish range radio communications? I have been looking at maybe a pair of surplus British Army Clansman radios but the weight is quite off putting for one thing.

What have you tried guys? What worked well and what worked not so well?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Have you got an amateur radio licence? If not I think you're fairly limited in what you can legally use (and if you are a ham you obviously know what you're allowed or not already).

I don't know much about them at all, but from what I've seen you might want to make sure you can get spares and know how to fix them as they break.

Their waterproofness and sturdiness seem incredible, but as you say very heavy compared to civilian portable stations.
 

SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
I've got the little handheld Baofeng uv-5r that can do the 2 m and 70 cm bands (VHF/UHF) with a 1/4 wavelength whip antenna and am about to build a slim jim ladder line antenna for 2 m. It's only 4-5 W but with the 1/4 wl antenna I can easily get on a repeater 20 miles away, so I'm quite happy with it.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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In my experience hand held CB is next to useless if you're not in line of sight. What we find works best working in the woods is the licenced 5w radios (£75 for 5 years for as many hand-held devices you're using) and you don't need to sit any HAM exams - though, to be honest, the basic level of that is very easy. These units have about 10x the range of the non-licence PMR (0.5w) cheap stuff.
 
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TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
What are your thoughts and experience for short’ish range radio communications? I have been looking at maybe a pair of surplus British Army Clansman radios but the weight is quite off putting for one thing.

What have you tried guys? What worked well and what worked not so well?


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For what purpose? I mean obviously communication , but to whom and about what ?? Maybe there are better options.
 
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Buckshot

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Jan 19, 2004
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In my experience hand held CB is next to useless if you're not in line of sight. What we find works best working in the woods is the licenced 5w radios (£75 for 5 years for as many hand-held devices you're using) and you don't need to sit any HAM exams - though, to be honest, the basic level of that is very easy. These units have about 10x the range of the non-licence PMR (0.5w) cheap stuff.
What type of radio are you talking about? the Baofeng?
do you have a link to the license please?
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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What type of radio are you talking about? the Baofeng?
do you have a link to the license please?

These are the units I have - they're quite old now and you can get digital versions for not much more:


You get a licence application form with the units which is issued by Ofcom; I renewed mine last year.
 

SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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Ceredigion
In my experience hand held CB is next to useless if you're not in line of sight. What we find works best working in the woods is the licenced 5w radios (£75 for 5 years for as many hand-held devices you're using) and you don't need to sit any HAM exams - though, to be honest, the basic level of that is very easy. These units have about 10x the range of the non-licence PMR (0.5w) cheap stuff.
Yes, the licence-free PMR ones seem quite limited.

Is your licence for you personally or for your radio units, so to speak? I.e. does your licence cover someone else using one of your radios to talk to you?

For a little bit of studying and £27.50 for the exam, you can get a lifelong Foundation amateur radio licence that let's you use most of the amateur bands on HF/VHF/UHF (and beyond) at up to 10W from the UK and Channel Islands. Plenty of options there for communicating both locally, regionally and internationally.
 

Ogri the trog

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Apr 29, 2005
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The Baofeng units are quite capable things and with some thought and a little pre-planning can get around most of the Cambrian Mountains - I've used them on mountain events and the WRGB!

A call to your local amateur radio club should put you in touch with someone who can advise on licencing - which I found to be easy to understand and the exam straightforward. You don't need a lot of kit - a Baofeng, charging station, power-bank and leads - weighs and costs a whole lot less than a clansman!

I don't know a lot, but we can chat about it in October.

Cheers
MW7PTW
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Yes, the licence-free PMR ones seem quite limited.

Is your licence for you personally or for your radio units, so to speak? I.e. does your licence cover someone else using one of your radios to talk to you?

For a little bit of studying and £27.50 for the exam, you can get a lifelong Foundation amateur radio licence that let's you use most of the amateur bands on HF/VHF/UHF (and beyond) at up to 10W from the UK and Channel Islands. Plenty of options there for communicating both locally, regionally and internationally.

I agree with everything said about getting a foundation licence but you are then limited to communicating with others that have the licence whereas using the general licence 5w units only one licence is needed for a group of people using the units for the same purpose (I have no idea how they police that to be honest and I've never had to produce my licence).
 
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Apr 8, 2009
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Ashdown Forest
You would be a lunatic to get the clansman radios in my view - very very heavy and out of date for what you want them. Licensing aside (and noting plenty of very good advice on that front above), there are a wide variety of VHF and UHF handheld radios available on the likes of ebay. The licence free PMR446 band in the UK has certain rules attached to it - non removeable antenna and a max transmission power of 0.5watts for example. Most of the Chinese UHF handhelds (and indeed, some vehivcal mounted mobile units) will put out 4-5w and some even up to a claimed 10w (and vehical units - the sky's the limit). Ten times the power does not equate to ten times the range, far from it, but more power does help. Also the generally more efficient stock antenna on the chinese handhelds make a big difference. Programming can be via the integrated key pad - on those radios that have them (laborious), or via the free software called 'Chirp' and a cheap USB programming cable. Whilst much easier, this can be a little bit of a frustrating process with driver issues etc, but plenty of guidance available online. Radios such as the already mentioned and tried and tested baofeng UV5R and also for example the UV9R, UV82, Bf888s are extremely popular (possibly becuase as the UHF versions cover the PMR446 range + have 6.25htz channel spacings, they can be programmed to work on the PMR446 channels and therefore be fully interoperable with the cheap license free handhelds). Whilst not above board, people who do this possibly console themselves that operating on the 446 channels will be unlikely to interfere with e.g. the emergency service bands, and perhaps are incentivised that they can obtain an excellent radio at little over £12 posted. Not that i would condone that at all!
 

Bishop

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Jan 25, 2014
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Inside the wire, Llanelli
In between legal PMR radios and the Baofeng's there is another option.
Any modern smartphone with built in WiFi and that's pretty much all of them these days can operate in a standalone mode as part of a Mesh network. The apps for this are mostly geared towards text messaging between users but some also support voice link . Now the range still sucks as the phones are limited on broadcast power however it would not be impossible to cobble together something with a bit more welly if needed. Even a simple mod like adding a pigtail for an external wifi antenna could improve things tremendously. Alternatively if the tribe is operating from a vehicle it could host a node banging out a bit more juice.
wifi-parabolic-antenna-coverage-distance.jpg
Again talk to you your local amateur radio group they have been doing this sort of thing for years with APRS and other forms of packet radio.
 

cipherdias

Full Member
Jan 1, 2014
320
132
Wales
Wow guys loads of great information here and I thank you very much for taking the time to reply!

Iam going to read through all of these posts properly at the weekend and using the information given work out the best way to go but I can easily see that ex issue Clansman radios are not the way to go :)


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SaraR

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Mar 25, 2017
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I agree with everything said about getting a foundation licence but you are then limited to communicating with others that have the licence whereas using the general licence 5w units only one licence is needed for a group of people using the units for the same purpose (I have no idea how they police that to be honest and I've never had to produce my licence).
Always good to know what the options are.

For something like frequent group outings, or a more substantial single group outing, your option seems most useful and cost effective.
 

Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Mid Wales
Another thing to consider is Zello - basically, this is a free APP that turns your mobile phone into a push to talk radio able to connect you over huge distances. It works but a) it is obviously limited to the quality of your connection and b) there is a delay.

 
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Laurentius

Native
Aug 13, 2009
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Knowhere
In my experience hand held CB is next to useless if you're not in line of sight. What we find works best working in the woods is the licenced 5w radios (£75 for 5 years for as many hand-held devices you're using) and you don't need to sit any HAM exams - though, to be honest, the basic level of that is very easy. These units have about 10x the range of the non-licence PMR (0.5w) cheap stuff.
I don't know anything about CB these days, as it is over twenty years since I had one, and the frequencies and specs may have changed since then, but back in the day I used to do marhalling at various events using a handheld for communication with a base that had a good antenna set up, sometimes with a relay at a local high point.