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AdrianHoyle 01-02-2013 9:24 PM

What Should I Use?
I have a desert home on HWY 95 between Blythe California and Parker Arizona. In the winter we drive UTV's, motorcycles and quads around the desert, sometimes traveling 50 miles from home. Most of our trips are around 25 miles. At times, we travel behind mountain ranges and other times there is a clear line of sight, but flat, between our home and the toys in the desert. I need equipment ideas to 1) communicate with the people on the varous toys in the desert and 2) a home unit that can communicate with all units. We have a Polaris Razor and Polaris Ranger that can have built-in units installed in the vehicles. People on motorcycles and quads can have a hand held unit (3 would be adequate). Having an alert fuction (loud ringing) would be nice to get the users attention because vehicles are loud and at home, the base unit may be in a remote room. Lastly, if the best solution limits what I described above, I would delete the hand held units and only have the home base unit and units installed in the vehicles.

Rt169Radio 01-03-2013 3:04 PM

Would you want to use ham radios? If so everyone would have to get licensed, then there is also GMRS (still need to get a license), FRS, MURS, and C.B radios.

dksac2 01-03-2013 3:17 PM

Get your Technician licences and buy Yaesu FT 2900 R, radios, 2 meter radios, they are 2 meter only, but put out 75 watts, then get as high of gain antennas as you can find, mount them with NMO antenna mounts on some good metal such as a tin roof on a buggy. This will allow reliable coms in the open and some when blocked. When transmitting, try to get on the highest hill around, that will help a lot.

I just bought one of those radios on sale for $120.00 and man do they talk with a good antenna.
Hand held will be harder, get a decent 2 meter, replace the stock antenna with one of the good one's Diamond makes and have them transmit from as high as possible. With any luck, there will be a repeater, that would help a lot. GMRS radios will not transmit far enough.
For the handhelds, just buy the cheap China one's off E Bay for about $50. each. Getting your tech licenses is not hard and will only cost about $15.00. This is by far the best way to go.


LtDoc 01-03-2013 4:40 PM

One possibility is to put a repeater on a high spot that's 'visible' to the areas you want to cover. There would still be 'blank' spots, but probably not as many. That would be possible with 'commercial' stuff rather than ham/CB stuff, and would probably be easier (didn't say cheaper, just no license for everybody), that sort of thingy. Or cell phones? ...
- 'Doc

rapidcharger 01-03-2013 6:26 PM

Well if you ask a Motorola salesman, they'd say you need a digital trunking system.

mmckenna 01-03-2013 6:50 PM

You have two needs:
Rider to rider
rider to base

Rider to rider is pretty easy, although you do want a good set up for this. It's really easy to get separated by a few miles if someone takes a wrong turn, so FRS or cheapy GMRS radios would be out. You'd want good mobiles in the UTV's and hand held radios with the riders on the motorcycles and ATV.

Rider to base is going to be harder...

To get reliable communications over that range, you will need a repeater if you want to use a hand held or even a VHF or UHF mobile. You won't have reliable communications 50 miles and over a mountain without it.

So, if you can tell us the exact location, we could search and see what is available in your area.

Putting up your own repeater is an option, but will be very costly and require regular maintenance.

For the Rzr and Ranger, a mobile radio would be a good choice. Due to the noise, you will need to install an external speaker to get enough audio out so that the driver can hear it, or you will need to look into a headset system. I can tell you from personal experience that the built in speakers will not work on a UTV, they just are not loud enough.

For the motorcycles and ATV's, a portable radio with either a speaker mic or a headset system will be required. Don't permanently attach the radio to the motorcycle or ATV, vibration will be a big issue, and you want the rider and the radio together, not getting separated in a wipe out, been there, done that one also.

I have a Polaris Ranger with a VHF radio in it and a VHF whip antenna on the roof. We have two Rzr's in the family that have mobile radios also, and the antennas mounted to the roll cage.

Other than the repeater, your only other options are:
HF radio, expensive, big antennas and each user will need an amateur radio license.
Cell phone, however if you are asking this question, there isn't cell phone coverage out there, same issues we had.
PLB, Personal Locator Beacon is a useful backup for emergencies, but not really useful for much else. The Spot units work in most cases, but they are one way, expensive monthly charge, easily damaged and their customer service is awful.

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