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Any Cheap Solutions for Non-Line-of-Sight Communication?

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ElectroPulse

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Apr 22, 2012
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Hello, all!

I am new to radio wave communication stuff, have only really owned a couple of walkie talkies in the past, so am coming here in search of some answers.

I am the IT guy for a school system in Palau. Cell charges are fairly expensive here, and am thinking about donating some walkie talkies or something to the school, just so I can be more accessible (we're a low-budget mission school, so I am fairly certain I would not be able to get money set aside for this).

Anyway, I've been reading about FRS and GMRS. I already knew that the distance ratings for walkie talkies were full of crap, but wasn't sure by how much. The two campuses are (judging by the map) about 5-7 miles away, but unfortunately there are some hills, many trees, and quite a few buildings between here and there. I am fairly certain there is no way some handhelds would be able to communicate between them.

How much would a very base-level non-line-of-sight setup cost for FRS, or depending on the local regulations, possibly GMRS? The idea I have in my head is put up an antenna on the roof here and if it's not too obvious, on the top of the flagpole on the other campus. Hopefully they'd be able to communicate then. I have done some looking, but honestly haven't the first clue of what to look for, or when I've found it what I'm looking at. Rather than spend a bunch of time researching it just to find it's far out of my budget, I am wondering if you could give me and idea of a price range to expect to pay for a simple setup.

Also, are there any other unregulated or easy-attainable certifications for something else (like CB) that might meet this need better than GMRS or FRS? Basically, I would like to be able to be contacted wherever I am on either campus.

And lastly, how does the regulation of things like GMRS and HAM work outside the US? Is there some international body that at least puts some kind of regulations in-place, or is everything locally-regulated?

Thanks!
ElectroPulse
 

jedispork

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
25
And lastly, how does the regulation of things like GMRS and HAM work outside the US? Is there some international body that at least puts some kind of regulations in-place, or is everything locally-regulated?
Thanks!
ElectroPulse
ITU


frs requires a attached antenna. They are only good for very short range communication like maybe if your hiking a very short distance from camp or staying in touch at a theme park or something. The main thing for communicating at any distance is having a proper antenna which you can't do with frs.

CB can work very well but due to the size of the antenna HT performance is weak. Radios are cheap and readily available. GMRS I think you can have a external antenna and run more power on certain frequencies however I was disappointed that there weren't gmrs specific radios except for HT's.
 

grem467

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Messages
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Location
Houston, TX
Keep in mind he said he was in Palau. He would need to research what is permissible in his country without a license. There may be no such things as frs and gmrs there.
 

jedispork

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
25
My apologies I read past your location. Usage in other countries can be very different. In europe their frs is called pmr I think and it uses the 70 cm ham band frequencies of the USA. They require a attached antenna as well. CB is different as well and they use fm. Hopefully they have some established setups in your location

Just dont expect good range from a ht especially if it operates in the hf band.
 

ElectroPulse

Newbie
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
4
Thank you for the replies!

Ok, I'll check out the local regulations then... The laws here in Palau are based off the laws in Oregon, but I don't know about RF regulations. It hadn't even occurred to me that the terms "FRS" and "GMRS" may not mean anything here.

Anyway, after doing some more looking around, it looks like repeaters and other equipment for longer-range transmission is rather expensive... I'm thinking about just doing on-campus communication, and forgetting the idea of communicating between campuses.
 

rapidcharger

Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
2,379
Location
The land of broken calculators.
Hello, all!

I am new to radio wave communication stuff, have only really owned a couple of walkie talkies in the past, so am coming here in search of some answers.

I am the IT guy for a school system in Palau. Cell charges are fairly expensive here, and am thinking about donating some walkie talkies or something to the school, just so I can be more accessible (we're a low-budget mission school, so I am fairly certain I would not be able to get money set aside for this).

Anyway, I've been reading about FRS and GMRS. I already knew that the distance ratings for walkie talkies were full of crap, but wasn't sure by how much. The two campuses are (judging by the map) about 5-7 miles away, but unfortunately there are some hills, many trees, and quite a few buildings between here and there. I am fairly certain there is no way some handhelds would be able to communicate between them.

How much would a very base-level non-line-of-sight setup cost for FRS, or depending on the local regulations, possibly GMRS? The idea I have in my head is put up an antenna on the roof here and if it's not too obvious, on the top of the flagpole on the other campus. Hopefully they'd be able to communicate then. I have done some looking, but honestly haven't the first clue of what to look for, or when I've found it what I'm looking at. Rather than spend a bunch of time researching it just to find it's far out of my budget, I am wondering if you could give me and idea of a price range to expect to pay for a simple setup.

Also, are there any other unregulated or easy-attainable certifications for something else (like CB) that might meet this need better than GMRS or FRS? Basically, I would like to be able to be contacted wherever I am on either campus.

And lastly, how does the regulation of things like GMRS and HAM work outside the US? Is there some international body that at least puts some kind of regulations in-place, or is everything locally-regulated?

Thanks!
ElectroPulse
It would be best if you would contact a two way radio dealer that covers your area.
GMRS and FRS and CB are personal radio services in the US and the radios are of consumer quality. You should not expect anywhere near 5-7 miles of range.
5-7 miles range is certainly achievable however it will take considerably more than walkie talkies wrapped in plastic. It will involve infrastructure. Base stations, possibly repeaters, antennas, feedline and power supplies and even still it may not be possible if the terrain is mountainous. If you just wanted to be able to talk around a school however, some walkie talkies are probably all that are needed for that. I would still suggest looking for something that was designed to be a school walkie talkie and not something that was meant to be a disposable consumer radio.
 

millrad

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Joined
Apr 14, 2004
Messages
238
Location
Connecticut
You might try getting by with a CB base station and a few mobile units mounted in vehicles, unless you absolutely have to use portables. CB base to mobile is possible over 5-7 miles, with a decent, high base antenna. CB varies by country and it might be FM rather than AM in Palau.
I also think a VHF radio base station (assuming there are business band channels there) with a high antenna might be suitable, but penetrating the hills and buildings withy five watt portables might be a challenge. This could get you by on the cheap, without the need for a repeater.
 

Kf4mnc

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2013
Messages
68
If your building/campus has wi-fi you could look at something like A mumble server that provides communication over the network using an app for a phone or iPod or Andriod device. They could be an older device just need internet connectivity. I use them for building comms on location for events on occasion. The software is free and the computer needed to run it takes min. Specs. There are others but I like Mumble. Mumble is the user app. Murmur is the server application.
 

jhal94

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 26, 2011
Messages
299
Location
Pinellas County, Florida
VHF mid-band is very popular it seems in that region. It is an over-horizon type of band. A good VHF repeater on a hilltop is also a good alternative.If there is a governing agency analogous to the american FCC I would suggest looking into that. The other suggestion about the wifi phones is also a great alternative and much cheaper.
 
Joined
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Messages
3,556
Location
Texas
ITU


Radios are cheap and readily available. GMRS I think you can have a external antenna and run more power on certain frequencies however I was disappointed that there weren't gmrs specific radios except for HT's.
There are 90/95A compliant mobiles. Most Kenwood UHF radios are 95A compliant. Motorola has made some 90/95A compliant mobiles. So has Icom...nothing specifically built for GMRS though.
 
Joined
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Folks keep in mind he is in Palau
Palau - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Part 90/95/80 etc probably does not apply.
I understand that. I was simply replying to the statement I quoted. Which was about GMRS and not necessarily radio services in Palau.

Though, many of those radios also have international certifications. They may apply, just depends on what the entity over there in Palau says is clear to operate.
 
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